movement

Essentials for an effective home workout

I love training at the gym, it’s a time I use to listen to my favourite podcast, audiobook or playlist. It’s MY time. But I don’t always manage to get to the gym. In fact I actually started off my training journey with home workouts and found them to be just as effective as long as I had a plan and the right equipment.

As a busy mum, you might never actually be able to make it to a gym for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean you can’t get effective workouts done at home.

Many of the mums I train only train at home and have seen great results. I always encourage them to buy some of the equipment below in order to have variety in their workouts but also to allow them to progress as they get stronger.

The below list includes items that you can easily store in small spaces and safely keep away from children. I appreciate that some of you might be complete beginners, so have also included a list of clothing I recommend you get as you should wear appropriate clothing when exercising.

Equipment

Dumbbells

I recommed buying at least 2 sets of dumbbells. One lighter pair, around 2-3kgs per dumbbell and a heavier pair, around 4-6kgs. There are some exercises where a lighter pair is sufficient to get a good workout, but there are others where you need more resistance to develop strength and challenge you and I find these 2 ranges work well for most.

Recommendations:

5kg Dumbbells from Decathlon

4kg Dumbbells from Fitness Superstore

A range of lighter Dumbbells from Fitness Superstore

Kettlebells

Similarly to dumbbells, you’ll want to get at least 2 kettlebells. If you’re going for 2, then again a lighter one, somewhere between 4kg and 8kg and a heavier one, either 10kg or 12kg.

You can do many great full body workouts with just kettlebells, so if that’s wher you’re at then, I’d recommend going for 2 lighter ones that are the same weight (you’ll be using them instead of dumbbells) and one heavier one.

Recommendations:

Buy a variety of Kettlebells from Argos

Buy a variety of Kettlebells from Fitness Superstore

TRX

This is a brilliant piece of equipment, created by an ex-navy seal, in a bid to create a tool that can give him a full body workout in a small space.

TRX stands for Total Resistance Exercises. It’s a suspension trainer that is great for beginners as well as pros as the range of exercises is endless.

It takes up no space at all and can be anchored to your door or something strong like a pole or tree in your garden. There are so many exercises you can do with the TRX using your own bodyweight as resistance.

Visit the TRX website to buy yours and to see the endless possibilities of exercises you can do with it.

Barbell Set

If you want to add some heavier weights for compound movements like squats and deadlifts, then I would encourage you to also invest in a barbell set. These do take up a bit more space, but once set up can be stored in a corner to save you the time each time you want to do a session. The great thing is that you can adjust the weight on these, so you can make them as heavy as they go or keep them light if you’re just starting out.

Recommendations:

20kg Barbell Set from Argos

35kg Barbell Set from Argos which also comes with adjustable dumbbells

Resistance Bands

You might have seen the term glute activation on your social media feed when it comes to home workouts. Or seen videos with ladies walking funnily or in side lying positions with weird looking bands around their knees or ankles. Those are resistance bands.

They’re great to improve glute strength which can help with knee, hip or ankle pain. I always use one to warm up before training legs and glutes and recommend this to new mums to help them rebuild glute strength after pregnancy.

It’s a good idea to buy a bundle so you have different levels of resistance.

Recommendations:

Shop this bundle of 3 bands from Amazon

You can buy a bundle from The B-nd store which is little more pricey but the quality is amazing and they last forever. You can also go for individual bands (I’d go for light or medium as these bands are really tight)

Clothing

Whether you actually leave the house to exercise or not, I find having great activewear motivates me to train. On days I want to work out, I tend to wake up and put on my gym clothes straight away to ensure I actually get my workout in. But it also serves as comfortable clothes to get things done during the day!

There is an endless list of brands now that sell leggings and it can be very confusing trying to pick. Some are more expensive than others and it can be hard to see why a pair that costs nearly £100 would really be better than a pair for £30.

You can actually get leggings, shorts, sports bras and trainers for specific purposes, like running, cycling and gym/home workouts. That’s where some of the price difference comes from as different materials support different training styles.

Leggings/Shorts

Recommendations – ranging from £20 all the way up to £135

ASOS 4505, Flexx Fit, Gymshark, Sweaty Betty, Lululemon, PE Nation

Tops/Vests

Recommendations – depending on the activity, you don’t really need to spend a lot on tops. You do want to opt for breathable and sweat-wicking fabric though whenever possible especially during cardio.

ASOS 4505 , Nike, Sports Direct, Under Armour

Sports Bras

Please do not skimp on buying a sports bra. You cannot wear your normal everyday bra to exercise. Depending on your size, you might even get properly fitted for a bra to make sure you are properly supported.

Recommendations – be sure to have a variety of bras to suit different activities. You’ll need a very high level of support for high intensity/impact exercise like running and HIIT. For yoga, you can get away with medium to low support.

Sweaty Betty, Under Armour, Nike

Trainers

Recommendations – when it comes to trainers you can spend as much or as little as you like on them. You can go for the latest pair and spend around £100 or try Sports Direct that will have some older models for less money.

When it comes to running, you will find that these shoes are a little more expensive as they do need to support you properly and it is worth spending the money to avoid injuries.

If you run regularly and also do gym style workouts, then you’ll want to invest in 2 pairs, one pair you only wear for running and the other for your training.

Running Trainers – Runners Need, Pro Direct Running, Under Armour

Gym & Training – Nike, Reebok, Adidas

If you make any purchases based on these recommendations, please don’t forget to tag us on social media using @strongforeveryday and #strongforeveryday!

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mindset, movement

Exercise after Baby

Giving birth is such an amazing thing. I was in complete awe of what my body was capable of after I gave birth to my daughter.

I remember during my pregnancy I had said to myself that after giving birth I wanted to become stronger and fitter than I had ever been.

I’m sure like me you were probably itching to start your postnatal fitness journey as soon as you could. But there are definitely some things that I wish I had been made aware of that I know many mums still do not know now.

Recently, I went live on Instagram with Claire Johnson from Alpha Fit Female, a pre and postnatal trainer, nutritionist and mum. We discussed what some key things are to know when you are planning your return to exercise after giving birth.

Be kind and give your body time to heal

See the first 3 months as the 4th trimester. So although you’re no longer pregnant, your body has gone through some much giving birth whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section. Give your body time to heal. Rest as much as you can. Your only job is to take care of yourself and the baby and get used to this new normal. You don’t need to worry about jumping straight back into exercise as your body probably won’t be ready for anything for at least the first 4-6 weeks.

The only things I would recommend to do in this period are your pelvic floor exercises, some gentle core strengthening exercises and walking. After 6-8 weeks if you feel better and you’ve been to see a women’s health physio (they will advise when it is safe for you to start exercising again) you can start introducing some light weights and bodyweight exercises.

See a Women’s Health Physio

These physiotherapists specialise in pelvic floor health for women and men. They are trained to assess your body internally (with your permission) and externally to see how your body has recovered from giving birth. The earliest you should see one after giving birth is 6-8 weeks, but don’t worry if you gave birth many years ago, it is never too late to pay one a visit if you have any issues.

Your women’s health physio will give you advice on how to strengthen your core, how your pelvic floor is functioning and what exercises to do to keep it strong. 

The internet is great for general advice, but when you actually see a physio the advice they give you will be relevant to you and your body.

Work on your core strength and don’t forget those pelvic floor exercises

You don’t realise the importance of your pelvic floor and core muscles until you’ve given birth.

I was shocked when I couldn’t hold in a wee and had to run to the toilet. I was also shocked when I tried to do a plank at 8 weeks post giving birth and found I couldn’t hold it for more than 0.5 seconds!

There are now many great resources with tips and exercises (check out this video on my page) to do at home to help with these.

Before you try to get back to lifting, running or any type of physical activity, please work on getting your core strong again.

Your pelvic floor supports all your pelvic organs and also stops you from having accidents (if you know what I mean). If it’s not strong or functioning properly, you won’t be able to do the things you love; you won’t be able to run, jump or even squat. You might feel like you need to run to the toilet every time you need to go.

So again it comes back to seeing a women’s health physio who can assess you pelvic floor and teach you correct breathing techniques to work your core and pelvic floor and show you how to correctly exercise to get both strong again.

Return to running guidelines

I’ve met many mums who loved running before they became pregnant and their first question is usually about when they can return to running.

It really depends on the individual as each person and each birth is different.

Again, a great way to get personal guidance on this is to see a women’s health physio. But if you can’t afford to do that, then there are some great guidelines that were recently released by 3 physios to help mums return to running safely.

These guidelines are fantastic as they give you guidance on how to assess yourself to make sure you are ready to return to running after giving birth. There are a number of tests and exercises they advise you are able to do before signing yourself off to start running again (all included in their free download)

You can use these same tests to also assess whether you are ready to return to HIIT classes or anything else that produces high impact.

You’ll find a link to download a free copy below.

Check out the below resources to support your postnatal journey:

The Mummy Mot: A database on Women’s Health Physiotherapists based in the UK

Bumps and Burpees: A database of personal trainers around London who specialise in pre and postnatal fitness

Mum Hood by Frame: Postnatal classes in studios around London

Mumshape: A database of pre and postnatal classes and trainers in London

Return to Running Guidelines: Click here to download the free Return to running guidelines published in 2019.


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menu, mindset, movement

My journey to health and wellness – getting fit and becoming a yoga teacher at 41.

I’m Claire – a forty something working-mum who has, over the past 5 years, gone from overweight, unfit and burnt-out to starting a side-career teaching yoga and wellness. Sometimes I look back and think ‘how on earth did I get here?!’ 

Fitness did not come easy to me and I have never ever been sporty, but in my 20’s I took-up yoga (mainly because Geri Halliwell got skinny af) and walked everywhere, mainly to save money. But seriously, I loved my weekly yoga classes and I loved getting the music on and power-walking through the streets of London everyday. I didn’t think particularly deeply about my body image, self care or any of these things – I was a young woman in London, social media didn’t exist and life was buzzy and fun.

Fast forward to my 30’s and having a baby – I was still working but had moved to the leafy green suburbs. As many mothers will tell you, those first few years with a child are completely exhausting and completely absorbing. The baby weight fell-off when I was breastfeeding but after 5-6 months it started creeping back on. I barely noticed – the bigger sizes purchased during pregnancy stayed in my wardrobe and became my everyday wear. 

I was also bringing up my husband’s teenage son which could be both wonderful and challenging. Life in a house with a toddler and a teenager plus balancing a career was taking its toll. Then one day, a friend posted a picture of me on Facebook and I hardly recognised myself. I looked tired, pasty-faced, drab and overweight. I looked like I had given up. By the time my child reached 3 years and my step-son 16 I had stopped doing all of the things that I once had loved and felt like I had completely lost my sense of identity.

I can’t quite remember the day that I decided to take back control. I do remember setting up some basic fitness equipment in the spare room and starting my workouts at 5:45am. Initially I took online classes, like the Body Coach but soon found that high intensity training was not a friend to my fragile pelvic floor! Undeterred by yet another reason my body was giving me not to exercise I joined a local gym and took classes there – hiding at the back. The real turning point was finding Kayla Itsines BBG and the online community that came with it. Gradually my body changed and so did my mindset – it became about training, fuelling and posting – with plenty of calorie deficit and macros thrown in for good measure.

Now this period was great in so many ways – I loved the online community aspect and I started organising meet-ups for women who were into fitness. There were so many like me that had gotten the fitness bug but didn’t have immediate friends who were into the same things. Together we did BBG meet-ups, various fitness festivals, Barry’s Bootcamp and more. It gave me a taste of something bigger – a peek into an industry and a lifestyle so very unlike my life in the Civil Service!

Around this time I was posting my workouts, protein-heavy recipes and regular ‘transformation Tuesday’ progress pics on Instagram. Photos generally featured me getting smaller. When I returned from a holiday, I did one challenge where I drastically cut my calories and trained hard for 10 weeks. The before and after was really something to behold, abs and all. But instead of feeling proud, I felt depleted and exhausted. What would I post next? Where did I go from here? I had reached my goal, I was the fittest and lightest I’d ever been – but that 10 weeks had been really hard work around my job and kids. I was hungry all the time, I was snappy and moody. 

That was when things changed. I recognised the lure of becoming smaller and smaller…the esteem in which society holds thinness was seeping into my own sense of self-worth. I didn’t want to glorify continual fat-loss dressed up as #fitness so switched my focus to wellness, taking a much gentler and more holistic approach. 

I dialled back the strength training and cardio and returned to yoga, which felt like coming home to my first love. The wonderful thing about yoga is that it’s all in the practice, awareness in the body, working on those limitations gradually. Conscious movement and breath. Alignment of the body leading to alignment of the mind. There is no emphasis on achieving a particular size or shape, no ‘shred’ or ‘cut’. At about this time I went to a pensions talk at my workplace… and it dawned on me that I didn’t want to be locked into my profession for another 26 years. I walked out of that talk and started researching yoga teacher training. By the weekend I had found the perfect course and booked it. 

For someone who is (by nature and profession) a bureaucrat, this kind of rash decision making was very out of character – but my sense of intuition at that moment was so strong that I made the leap with my heart instead of my head and never looked back. Now I’m teaching 2-3 times a week and it’s been amazing. I get to help people in a very real and immediate sense. My launch event sold-out, I built my own website (so proud of that) and there are lots of exciting opportunities and collaborations on the horizon.

It just goes to show that you never know where that first-step will take you – I could never have guessed that those early morning workouts in the spare room would lead to a new second career as a yoga teacher at 42 years old! As the late BKS Iyengar said ‘ yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together’ – he’s completely right – and now I get to share that gift with others.  

Sign-up for my newsletter at www.alignandthrive.co.uk for classes and events, special offers and blog posts. Follow me on Instagram @thewellmother_  and at @alignandthrive

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mindset, movement

Exercising during pregnancy

You’ve just found out you’re pregnant! Congratulations! What an exciting time you have ahead of you.

Growing a baby is a wonderful thing and your body goes through so many changes internally and externally to help with that.

One of the biggest concerns for expecting mothers is whether or not they can exercise during pregnancy, what type of exercise they can do and how often.

Labour is like an athletic event, so like any athletic event you want to get your body ready for it by training for it.

As long as you have a healthy and normal pregnancy, you should be able to exercise regularly right up until you give birth.

Exercising during pregnancy is safe for you and the baby

The NHS guidelines state that exercise is good for you and your baby as it helps you maintain a healthy weight and prepare your body for labour.

It is recommended to do 150 minutes of exercise per week. Of course, everyone’s pregnancy is different, and some expecting mothers suffer from bad sickness, nausea or low energy levels. So, it is important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.

On the days you feel that you have more energy, you should take advantage and aim to do something for 30 minutes, even if it is just a walk.

Add strength training in a couple of times a week

It still seems to be a strange thing to find a pregnant woman in the weights area at the gym, but resistance training is one of the best things you can do during pregnancy.

You do want to be mindful of how much you are pushing yourself though as this is not the time to try to lift your heaviest squat or deadlift.

Your aim here is to keep your body strong, help it as it goes through its changes and prepare it for labour and beyond.

Maintaining muscle strength has been shown to help with coping during labour and a better recovery after giving birth. Keeping your body strong can help alleviate some of the aches and pains that come with your body changing during pregnancy.

And don’t forget, once baby arrives, you’re going to be carrying a heavy car seat, pushchair, baby bag, and an ever-growing baby, so you really can’t afford not to be strong!

Seek help from a personal trainer if you are unsure

If however you have never done any type of strength training before, or you just want to have a bit of guidance, then book in with a personal trainer who is qualified to work with pregnant women. Be sure to let them know everything about you, so any injuries, any pains you have been getting, how you are sleeping etc, so they can make sure to take those things into account when training you.

A personal trainer can show you how to use weights correctly, check your form and advise you on the best exercises for you at each different stage of your pregnancy.

We don’t ever want you to stop training, so if something doesn’t feel quite right, we would rather modify exercises for you than stop them altogether.

If you are in and around London, then check out Bumps & Burpees to find great qualified pre and postnatal trainers near you.

Be mindful during HIIT and spin classes and avoid contact sports!

You should stop any exercise or sport that has a risk of falling or being pushed.

HIIT and Spin are great classes to take pre-pregnancy but might not be ideal once you are pregnant if you struggle with taking the intensity down. HIIT and spin tend to push your heart rate to near 100% of your maximum heart which would normally leave you breathless. This is not ideal during pregnancy.

If you still want to attend these classes, then you need to make sure the instructor knows you are pregnant and is happy to modify exercises for you. You should remove any high-impact moves during HIIT classes, extend your rest periods and make sure to drink lots of water.

During spin class, the best thing is to go at your own pace. You want to be able to talk, so be sure to check in with yourself regularly and reduce your speed/resistance if you are getting too breathless.

You also want to avoid overheating, so make sure wherever you are taking your classes has windows and/or air-conditioning.

Seek out prenatal fitness classes

Working out with others is always much more fun than doing it on your own.

Prenatal classes are becoming more and more popular and if you want to exercise in a safe environment whilst also meeting other expecting mums, then be sure to check out mumshape.co.uk. You can filter for your area to find classes near you.

If you live in London, then also check out Mumhood as they have studios in various London locations with lots of prenatal class options.

Yes, exercise is really good for you during pregnancy, physically and mentally, but it’s important to listen to your body. Some days you’ll feel great and have lots of energy. On others, you might feel quite tired and will just want to rest.

This is completely normal, so don’t feel bad if you have the desire to exercise but simply don’t feel up for it.

On the days you do have more energy, doing something even just for 20 minutes can be enough to make you feel great.

Listen to your body- if all you can manage is a walk, then do that. Want to do a little more? Then grab your weights or resistance bands and do some resistance training. There are no hard and fast rules!

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movement

4 Exercise Tips for Busy Mums

Finding time to work out is hard for most busy people who work long hours. Throw in the fact that you have kids and you might struggle even more!

It’s really important for your health to make time where you can to exercise, so here are 4 tips for busy working mums to try to make exercise a part of their everyday lives.

Do something before the kids wake up

If you have kids who still wake up at night or kids that wake up really early then this might be a little difficult for you. But it’s not impossible. Even doing something for just 10 minutes before you need to start getting ready for work and getting the kids ready for school will be great. You’ll feel like you’ve done something for yourself and a 10 minute workout is still much more beneficial than no workout at all.

Of course if you can fit in something closer to 30 minutes, then even better!

Getting your workout in first thing in the morning sets you up for the day and you feel great because you’ve made the first portion of the day about YOU.

Do a workout with your kids at the weekend

You’d be surprised how many kids actually enjoy exercising with their parents!

If you want to get some exercise done on the weekend and get the kids to burn off some energy, then doing a family workout is perfect.

It doesn’t have to be long; anywhere between 15-25 minutes is probably long enough to keep everyone engaged and to keep it fun!

Don’t stress about their form or if they’re not doing it properly. The main thing is that you’re getting some movement in and the kids see you doing something good!

Warning: you might have so much, your kids might ask you to do a workout every weekend 😉!

Do a lunch time class

Most gyms and studios now offer 30 minute classes during lunch hours.

Have a look online on sites like class pass to see what classes are happening around your office.

Be sure to check that they have shower facilities and changing rooms so you can get changed before going back to your desk.

Find an evening class you enjoy

The main thing here is “enjoy”. Most of us will struggle to have enough energy to leave the house again after a busy day at work and sorting the kids out. Many gyms offer great evening classes, so if you can find one that fits in with your schedule in the evening, make sure it’s a class you enjoy as it’s more likely that you’ll want to go even when you don’t feel like it.

Maybe grab one of your friends to go with you, that way you have someone to keep you accountable!

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mindset, movement

Exercise has been my saviour

Exercise is not only about aesthetics, it is also about mental health. Exercise has been a huge saviour for me, and I wanted to share the reasons why.

A little bit about me….

I am an inspired, passionate life living proud single mother born and bred in South Africa. My father was Hungarian and my grandparents are from England.  I grew up always dreaming and wanting to achieve more in life, however circumstances like poverty, abuse and trauma changed my life and I ended up taking a different journey than the one I wanted. This journey has taken me through various paths in life and has allowed me to be the person I am today, and I am proud of that person. My suffering has become my strength.

It’s my passion to help and inspire others simply because I know and believe that no matter what kind of life a person has had in the past, the present and future can be modified.

I am a mother of an amazing teenage daughter who has a diagnosis of ADHD and General Anxiety disorder, OCD and various other mental health concerns. My daughter is one of my inspirations in life and my ‘WHY’.

My motto is #NeverGiveUp. I have learnt that no matter how hard a person’s life can be or how many obstacles you face, the words “Never Give Up” are inspiring.  They inspire me; these words give me meaning and make me realize that I can’t give up no matter what. It is linked to the reason WHY I wake up in the morning

I used to be relatively healthy in South Africa but when I moved over to the UK I experienced a lot of stress and anxiety. My friend and companion became addictions like smoking and drinking and simply living an unhealthy lifestyle. 

The last few years I have been making changes and living a healthier life in order to become a better person, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. Personal and physical development is key to a successful and happy life. I also realized that life does not have to be hard and no matter what life throws at me I can make the best out of it.  I am a survivor and not a victim any longer.

I worked in the automotive industry for almost 15 years until I made a career change and decided to follow my heart and passion and live the dream I had when I was a young girl.

I am a qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer, Nutritional Adviser, Inspirational blogger and Life Coach practising daily gratitude, wellbeing and mindfulness.  I am a dream chaser and have a passion for life and travel. 

Now that you know a little bit about me I want to tell you why exercise is so important to me and the reason it saved me from a mental breakdown recently. 

About 3 years ago I started my fitness journey and was able to lose an incredible amount of weight, mostly around my stomach. After losing the weight I felt like I really did not want to gain it all back so I continued exercising and moving my body. I mainly wanted to avoid the weight gain, but also realized that it was a necessity for my health as both my parents passed away at a young age; one from diabetes and the other from heart failure. Their deaths were related to an unhealthy lifestyle and a huge amount of stress. I was determined to try and continue with my newfound healthy lifestyle.  

Aesthetics was a big contributor towards my daily exercise regime and my life as I feel and look good and have accepted and now love my body the way it is and I am also comfortable with the way I live in my body.  We all try to get to this point at some stage of our life and it is an amazing feeling. 

However, I have realized that exercise now to me is so much more than just having a six pack or a toned butt. It’s so much more than this.

My daughter as I mentioned has various mental health concerns and she recently had a relapse with her anxiety and mostly what they call separation anxiety which resulted in OCD. Basically it was like I had a 2 year old that did not want to leave me and go to nursery and cried when she left my side. Take note, she is almost 16. 

This was extremely challenging as at one point everything was perfect and she was so independent and the next moment everything came crashing down. From me being able to move around freely and visit friends and see potential clients to feeling like I was locked in a prison and could not breathe. Sadly she was not even able to go to school during the day, she turned from being my happy daughter to this girl that was depressed and someone I did not know. 

She was constantly worried about me and did not have the strength or courage to be away from me even for 10 minutes.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter and want her with me but every human needs their space. I was suffering and did not have the answer to help her or fix the situation.  I felt broken, desperate, and alone and wanted to give up but knew this was not an option. 

All I had every day was between 30 mins to 1 hour where I was able to exercise, while she was in the house with me.  I was able to switch off from everything that was going on and focus on that amazing thing called movement, the use of one’s body, the privilege to use your muscles in ways that astound you, the miracle of a body that can move and connect with your mind and make you feel incredibly awesome. 

That feeling when your heart races and the sweat trickles down your face or back. The feeling that you are a new person. You feel so powerful, happy, restored and full of life. This has been my saviour each day. It helps me get through another day and face the struggle of not being able to help my daughter and make everything better and make her life whole again. Exercise has been my release and my saviour and has helped and prevented me from having a mental breakdown. 

Don’t get me wrong, there have been other tools and things in my life, like my faith, mindfulness, friends and my daughter’s therapy and doctor that have helped every day. 

But there is just something about exercise and movement.  Mental health is real, it’s a huge concern in today’s world with all the stresses of life.  I can vouch for this as when my daughter is anxious and depressed I feel it too, and I also have suffered with anxiety and depression. I have a tool that I know can change my state in a matter of minutes.  This is why I am sharing it with you today. Movement and exercise is so much more than the way you look it’s about the way you feel.

Give it a go, move your body today. I can guarantee it will make you feel phenomenal.

My daughter is now on medication and we are walking the journey together each day to rebuild her confidence and strength. I continue to focus on exercise daily to help me with my mental health and the stresses of single motherhood.  

Statistics have shown and proven that exercise helps with mental health. Below are a few links for further reading. 

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/physical-activity-and-your-mental-health/#.XhMSd0f7TDc

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wellbeing-in-mental-health-applying-all-our-health/wellbeing-in-mental-health-applying-all-our-health

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movement

5 Things I’ve learnt on own fitness journey

In the last few months, I’ve seen some friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. A lot of them have been asking me what I’ve been doing to get into the shape I’m in now and how I manage to keep going with everything I have going on.

I’ve also been going through some old pictures and videos since I have been on my “fitness journey” and it hadn’t occurred to me just how much my body had changed.

I was actually shocked to see how much bigger I was at a time that I didn’t necessarily feel “big”. Of course I knew that I needed to lose the extra baby weight and get in better shape if I wanted to be successful in my career as a personal trainer. But it wasn’t as though anyone said to me that I needed to lose weight, or that I had let myself go.

But since I have been reflecting on my journey so far, I thought I would share with you guys some things that I learnt along the way, that I still need to practice day in day out now.

So, here are 5 things that I learnt about myself:

1. Find what motivates you

I knew that I eventually needed to do something about my baby weight, but didn’t feel like I had a big enough push or reason to do it until I started my personal trainer qualification. I remember going in for my assessment on Mother’s Day and asking my husband to take some “before” pictures of me. I didn’t have any recent ones so I wanted to see where I’d be starting from.

I was shocked. Even though I looked in the mirror everyday, I didn’t see what I was seeing in those pictures every day. I then went to my assessment and saw all these super fit PT students also waiting to do their assessment.

I thought that if I’m going to be up against these guys when it comes to getting clients, I know who I would go with if I was a client.

From that day, no more messing around. This qualification was my motivation to properly get in shape. And it worked!

2. Get your mind right

Without the right mindset, I wouldn’t have been able to get up at 6am to get on my bike. Or go to the gym when I could have been chilling on the sofa.

Without the right mindset, I wouldn’t have chosen to have porridge or eggs with avocado for breakfast instead of pancakes.

Once I changed my mindset about how I looked at food and exercise and my body, I noticed that it was easier to get do what I needed to do to achieve my goal.

Of course, there were times I didn’t want to exercise or eat healthily. Sometimes I would give into my cravings and other times I would find a distraction or find a way to reward myself by doing a workout first.

Starting and continuing on a fitness journey truly is about changing your mindset, assessing what your relationship is with your body and food. If you don’t get your mind right, then your journey will be a short one. It’s not a quick fix, it’s for life.

3. Nutrition is key

I went through a period of just trying to do some workouts here and there and hoped to see some results. The only thing that I found is that I got a little better at the workouts, but not much was happening with my body.

My physical transformation only really happened when I changed my diet.

I decided to stop eating meat and fish for some time. And I eliminated pretty much all snacks and sweet treats and focused on wholesome, nutritious foods. This was the turning point for me, and that is when I really noticed my body change.

Now, I don’t think you have to cut out animal products out of your diet, but for me it was a great way to kickstart my weight loss and over 18 months later, I still don’t eat any meat, but occasionally eat fish.

When I noticed the weight drop and my body change, it inspired me to keep going with my workouts. And as I became stronger and leaner and I wanted to make sure my nutrition was as good as possible.

Now, I do have treats here and there but I try to make sure 70-80% of my diet is unprocessed, wholesome food that includes plenty of fruit, veg, legumes and healthy fats.

4. Home workouts really are effective

There are times when I can’t make it to the gym to train for a few days in a row. But I love training, and I don’t like going for too many days in a row without it. We have an exercise bike at hime for the times I don’t want to do anything too heavy. I love doing a 30-45 minute bike ride watching my favourite show.

But I also love doing HIIT, which I either do on the bike, or using my own bodyweight. The great thing about working out before my daughter could crawl/walk, is that I was able to leave her in her bouncer while I did a quick session.

Home workouts are also much easier to fit around my schedule as I can wake up early to do them without interrupting the day, or do a session while my daughter naps. Her 2 hour nap is long enough to do a workout, eat and maybe even squeeze in a shower!

5. But I still love gym workouts

Like I said, home workouts are great and I tend to really push myself because I don’t tend to spend as long on them as I do on gym workouts. But, because I love lifting heavy weights or doing sprints on the treadmill, I still love going to the gym when I can.

The gym also gives me “me-time” which I have come to cherish so much since having my little girl. It’s a time when I can listen to whatever I want and concentrate on nothing other than myself. I get to zone in on my workouts and really push myself. Even if a tough workout leaves me feeling a bit drained for the rest of the day, I feel proud that I have managed to do something for myself.

If you are on your own fitness journey or about to start yours, then I hope that some of my tips have been useful for you.

It would be great to hear some of your own tips or any feedback you have!

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