Who said you couldn’t exercise when you are pregnant??

The Children’s Fitness Academy have recently been working with the amazing ‘FittaMamma’, a fitness clothing site that supports mum’s to be and provides them with not only amazing maternity sports wear, but also provides lots of tips on eating and exercising when expecting…

Image

Here is what FittaMamma’s fitness expert Lucie Brand had to say about how keep exercise safe during pregnancy…

“Exercising when pregnant is perfectly safe and very important! Regular exercise will help reduce many common pregnancy complaints such as tiredness, varicose veins and swollen ankles as well as helping with some of those other discomforts such as lower back pain and heartburn.  

And  the fitter you are the better prepare you are for labour – as Nell McAndrew said in a recent interview, ‘I feel like keeping fit is preparing me for the labour – which will be harder than running a marathon!’

Even a modest amount of exercise during pregnancy releases feel good endorphins, lifting your mood, reducing stress and making  it easier to sleep.

With regard to safety you’ll need to make concessions to your growing bump but provided you follow sensible guidelines there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue with some form of exercise right throughout your pregnancy.

It’s not a good time to take up marathon running or mountain biking and you’ll want to reduce the intensity and length of your workouts but moderate exercise is not only safe – it’s good for both mum and baby.

A good guideline is the ‘talk’ test – keep on chatting!  You shouldn’t exercise beyond the level where you’re too tired to speak – but that gives you plenty of scope for different ways to keep fit! 

Have a look at the FittaMamma website for lots of really useful information about what’s safe and what you should avoid:  www.fittamamma.com/section.php/13/1/can_i_exercise_when_pregnant 

What type of exercise do you recommend during pregnancy and how often?

My ‘3 Plan complete pregnancy and post natal exercise plan’ recommends a minimum of three hours a week –  ideally fit in an hour three times a week and, for real benefits, try and  fit in three shorter workouts as well.   The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists suggest at least 30 minutes five days a week.    The key is to make exercise fun and fit into your life, if you don’t enjoy it, it will be harder to keep it up!

As to what TYPE of exercise ….personally I like a mixture of cardio and resistance training – the programme I have developed is easy to do at home with nothing more than weights and a fitball.  But walking, swimming and cycling are all good – and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t carry on jogging until you start feeling uncomfortable, just take it easy and cut down on the intensity and the distance.  Yoga and Pilates are ideal, especially for stretching and preparing for birth.

Again the FittaMamma site is a good source of information and includes some mini 10 minute workouts from my 3 Plan.  

Many pregnant women want to monitor their weight and stay healthy so they are both fit and healthy during the pregnancy and after and so that they have less to lose post pregnancy. What easy exercises can you advise to fit into your daily routine?

Try and fit in a mini-cardio sequence like this one, which also works well as a warm up before you start any more intense cardio activity.  You can make this more intense by increasing the number of repetitions or including weights.

Legs and ankles:  Stand on leg, raise your other foot off the floor and rotate your ankle. Raise your knee higher flexing back and forwards.  Repeat with the other leg

Hip and body:  With your feet hip distance apart and hands on hips, rotate in both directions.  Put your hands on your head and gently swing your body from side to side.

Warm up your arms:  Spread your arms wide, flex your wrists before circling backwards and forwards, crossing your arms in front of your body. Shrug your shoulders to loosen, reach up to the sky with each hand in turn stretching over to the side.

Increase the pace:

  • Get stepping from side to side, adding in a knee lift or curl with the opposite leg.  March on the spot, lifting your knees and swinging your arms
  • Lunge to each side, pushing alternate arms across your body
  • Half jacks, with your arms coming in and out as you step each leg in turn
  • Tap your heels forward alternately, bending the other knee and swinging your arms forward
  • Jog on the spot, bringing your knees up – alternate with jogging with your heels to bottom

For full workout routines visit www.fittamamma.com  where you can download (for free!) activity guides and yoga routines.    You can also check out the full range of FittaMamma activewear so you can look good and feel good when you work out, my pregnancy workout guide is also available here too!

THANK YOU LUCIE FOR SOME AMAZING ADVICE THERE – I WOULD DEFINATELY LIKE CHILDREN ONE DAY AND WILL BE FOLLOWING THIS ADVICE. THERE IS NO WAY I WON’T BE HITTING THE GYM! HOWEVER I WILL BE SAFE WHEN I DO IT AND NOW KNOW WHAT I SHOULDN’T BE DOING! 

 

Children’s Fitness Academy: Ditch the computer games and get moving!

According to research by the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT). 8 out of 10 of parents say their children spend up to four hours a day playing games on hand held devices, games consoles and computers and are concerned about how it affects their health and wellbeing, especially poor posture, headaches, back problems and a lack of concentration, which is why International Alexander Awareness Week (8-14 October) will this year focus on children, encouraging and supporting their parents and teachers to help children and pupils be ‘Poised for Life’.

According to the STAT survey;

  • 85% of children (who are allowed to play games on such devices) spend up to four hours a day doing so. Yes FOUR hours!
  • 78% of parents are concerned about their child’s posture while playing such games. What child sits up straight when playing games? 
  • Parents are concerned that gaming and computer use affects their child’s wellbeing with lack of concentration (32.4%), back ache (30.9%), neck ache (26.2%) and head ache (31%) all highlighted.

Angela East, of STAT, says: “Bad habits can be formed from a very young age which later lead to posture, mobility and other health problems in later life. The Alexander Technique is a great tool – it teaches you how to use yourself correctly so that you benefit from less stress and back pain and improved posture and wellbeing.

“The key is to encourage good posture and sitting among our children and young people and the Alexander Technique helps prevent bad habits, such as hunching and slouching, from creeping in and affecting their health.”

One of my top tips for posture is getting your child to sit on a gym ball when playing games.   Without knowing they will be building strength in their core because of the instability of the ball. Automatically they will have to sit up straighter and use their core section to stablize themselves – otherwise they will fall off!

The balls come in all sorts of colours to make them more appealing to you child and all different sizes (choose a size that they can sit on comfortably with their feet firmly on the ground.) They aren’t expensive either – cheaper than a computer game anyway! 

 

Healthy Packed Lunches Tips for the New School Year

Step away from the usual fizzy drinks and boring sandwiches that you keep putting in your child’s packed lunch and take inspiration from the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA) infamous New School Year Resolution: Healthy Packed Lunches.

They have recently issued some quick and handy tips to create, not only healthy packed lunches, but packed lunches that are full of flavour and variety.

Rachel Cooke, British Dietetic Association Spokesperson and Bristol Healthy School Dietitian, said:

“What children eat at a young age has a massive impact on their eating habits for life, so it is essential we get the younger generation into choosing and enjoying healthy nutritious food.

“When putting together a packed lunch, it is so easy to go down the usual route of packets of salty savoury snacks crisps, bars of chocolate, fizzy drinks and the same old boring sandwich day after day.  Many adults wouldn’t accept eating the same things day in day out, so why should children?

“Packed lunches can be exciting and full of healthy options and variety.  They need to provide children with the energy
and sustenance they need to grow and develop healthily and help them to concentrate in the school class.”

The BDA Tips for a Healthy Packed Lunch:

Back to basics – bread, cereals and potatoes…
Try to keep a selection of breads in the freezer for sandwiches. Using a different type of bread each day can make
sandwiches more interesting. Try multigrain and seed rolls, bagels, baguettes, pitta breads, wraps…the list is endless! (Children have reported they like meat / cheese or fish etc and bread separate so it doesn’t go soggy)

You could also raid the fridge for leftovers – some foods taste just as good cold such as pizza or pasta. Cook extra pasta, couscous or rice. Mix it with cut-up vegetables, a few nuts flaked tuna or mackerel.

Filling the void – meat, fish and alternatives…
Try to include lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or pulses in your 
lunchbox like
* Tuna with cucumber, green pepper, sweetcorn or tomato
* 
Low fat hummus and cucumber
* Egg and cress
* Cottage cheese and dried apricots
* 
Cooked chicken or turkey, tomatoes, and
lettuce
* 
Peanut butter and banana (my fav!)
* 
Grated cheese and tomato
* Oily fish, such as salmon sandwich or mackerel pasta salad

Remember, if you are using a spread choose a reduced fat one – or do without it completely if you are using a moist filling.

Vegging out or Feeling fruity..?
It’s important to eat 5 (or more) portions of fruit and vegetables every day. You won’t be stuck for choice when it comes to lunchtime:

* fresh fruit e.g. apple, grapes, banana, kiwi fruit (children have also said they like different fruits every day and not
always the traditional choices e.g.. wedge of  melon / peeled orange / kiwi and spoon / pot of strawberries. Why not
surprise your child with a different fruit / veg choice every day of the week?)
* 
dried fruits, e.g. raisins, apricots
* chopped raw vegetables e.g. carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes or a mixed salad
* tinned fruit in natural juice – pop in a small container or buy small tins with a ring pull

Dairy delights…
Try to include some dairy products in your lunchbox – important to keep your teeth healthy and your bones strong (remember to look at sugar levels – 5g equals about one teaspoon):
* low fat yogurt – plain or fruit flavoured
* low fat fromage frais
* small pot of rice pudding or custard
* 
Milk / fruit-based milkshakes

 Tasty treats…
Fancy something sweet in your lunch-box? There’s nothing wrong with this. Just try and make healthier choices when you can:
* currant bun, scone or fruit loaf,
* plain popcorn
* cereal bar (remember to look at sugar levels)
* 
fun sized bar of chocolate

Put in a drink…
Choose from:
* 
Plain water (still or sparkling)
* Plain milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed) or plain yoghurt combined with fruit e.g. smoothies, pureed fruit with plain yoghurt
* Pure fruit juice in small cartons or in a small bottle
* Hot drinks in the winter, e.g. soups

Keep cool…
Use a cool bag and pop in an ice-pack or freeze a carton of juice and place in with food to keep cool
* 
Keep in the fridge until morning if you make it the night before
* Don’t store your lunch next to a radiator or in the sun

Children’s Fitness Academy: Two thirds of obese children show early signs of heart disease

I found the news that two out of every three severely obese children already have at least one health problem that increases the risk of heart disease very sad today. Heart disease isn”t for kids…its for the elderly who have lived their lives to the full and unfortunately been struck down by this awful illness.

Basically be the age of 12, the study found that the kids had high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

 

The figures could mean that thousands of British children are also affected after experts here warned children as young as seven were being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity.

Just over half of these 307 children were boys. They tended to be more severely obese at the younger end of the age spectrum; the reverse was true of girls. So what can we do?

Starting heart-healthy habits right now, that’s what! Don’t smoke, for one. And be sure to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Your heart and blood vessels will thank you later!

Most kids don’t need to be on diets……but here’s something kids can do to eat healthier and that’s learn the difference between GoSlow, and Whoa foods.

Go Foods

These are foods that are good to eat almost anytime. They are the healthiest ones, like all fruits, vegetables, low fat diary, lean protein and water

Slow Foods

These are sometimes foods. They aren’t off-limits, but they shouldn’t be eaten every day. At most, eat them several times a week, like oven-baked chips, bread, hamburgers, popcorn and fruit juice.

Whoa Foods

These foods should make you say exactly that — Whoa! Should I eat that? Whoa foods are the least healthy and the most likely to cause weight problems, especially if a person eats them all the time. That’s why Whoa foods are once-in-a-while foods like sweets, fried foods, cheese, donuts, hot dogs, fizzy drinks and creamy sauces.

You also need to avoid anything with Trans Fats in…..they clog up your heart, as your body can’t process them! This kind of oil is used in crackers and snack foods, but it’s been found to be very unhealthy for your heart and can be listed on packaging as either Trans fats or Hydrogenated oils.  YUK!

 

Fitness Academy: How to Cook with Protein

If you’re looking for more interesting and convenient ways to boost your protein intake, why not try incorporating whey protein into your diet? Not only is it easy to digest, it also serves as one of the best sources of protein for immediate muscle repair after working out. Whey is also naturally low in fat and can be a great supplement for weight maintenance.

To help you fuel up, here are two delicious and healthy ways to conveniently add this versatile ingredient to your diet – yum!

1) Chocolate protein ice cream (serves 2)
Chop one small banana and two large dates and add to a large bowl with 35g of chocolate flavoured whey protein, 1 tbsp of ground almonds, 1/8 cup of cocoa powder and ½ cup of cottage cheese.  Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove the bowl from the freezer and stir the mixture until it becomes thicker and creamier. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, before removing it once more and giving the mixture a final stir and serving.

2)  Protein muffins (serves 8)
In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of egg whites, 1/2 cup of goji berries, 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes, 1/2 cup of chocolate hemp protein, 1/4 cup of blueberry and apple puree, 3 tbsp of chestnut flour, 3 tbsp of cocoa powder and 1 tbsp of baking soda until it forms a thick paste. Line a muffin tray with eight paper muffin cases and equally divide the mixture into eight portions. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes at gas mark 3/170°C. Remove from oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

These are not only guilt-free but they are also absolutely delicious – yum! I love to have it after a hard workout to help me to refuel and help my body recover! 

 

I know, I know!

I haven’t been on here for ages! What have I been doing? Planning my wedding that’s what!

To do this – I have been eating pretty clean (Of course there have been a few treats!!) and training hard! At the moment, I’m loving CrossFit.

Here is the hardest workout I have done so far!

It is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating. We’ve used this in 3 and 5 round versions. The stations were;

  1. Wallballs: 20 pound ball, 10 ft target. (Reps)
  2. Sumo Deadlift High-Pull: 75 pounds (Reps)
  3. Box Jump: 20″ box (Reps)
  4. Push Press: 75 pounds (Reps)
  5. Row: calories (Calories)

The clock is not allowed to reset or stop between exercises and on the call of “rotate,” I had to move to the next station immediately for good score. One point is given for each rep, except on the rower where each calorie is one point.

I did the WOD as prescribed for women, so I used a 6kg medicine ball for the Wallballs and 25kg for the Sumo Deadlift High-Pulls and Push Presses.

After the combo of Wallballs + Sumo Deadlift High-Pulls + Box Jumps, my legs are pretty exhausted! I’m shattered!