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Cardio V’s Resistance – What is Best?

So we’ve all wondered at some point..’What will help me lose weight, Cardio or Resistance training?’

Although Cardio will burn more calories than resistance training in a shorter amount of time, (Cardio uses more energy).. DON’T ditch the weights… Resistance training has extra benefits for your body that doing cardio alone will not achieve.

CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS TRAINING (CARDIO)

to lose weight we generally need to burn more calories than we eat! Cardio is one form of exercise which helps us burn the calories, Cardio exercise can be walking, jogging, sprinting, Skipping etc. There are also differents ways of doing cardio training for example – High Intensity, short bursts of cardio where the body has less oxygen so uses other energy sources such as carbohydrates or steady paced, low intensity. Overall cardio will increase your fitness level and build stamina.. BIG TICK FOR CARDIO

RESISTANCE (WEIGHT) TRAINING

Now scrap the thought that ‘Women will get bulky if they do weight training’ this will NOT happen. (I Promise)

Resistance training helps your body burn calories even in a relaxed state. Thats right sit and cuddle your bub and your body will be burning calories…GREAT RIGHT!?! Like Cardio there is many ways in which resistance training can be introduced into your workouts and different equipement can be used; resistance bands, Dumbells, Medicine Balls or no equipment at all just your own body weight.

Although Cardio alone will give you the weight loss on the scales, you will also have lost muscle mass, but by combining Cardio and Resistance you will be able to shape, tone and strengthen the muscles, giving you optimal results.

At our Shape Up Mums classes we combine Cardio and Resistance in varying formats so you wont get bored of your exercise routine and will help maximise your results! So we say THUMBS UP TO BOTH!!!

Creating a healthy body post-baby!

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We all know working out is good for us in many ways, and most mums will agree that exercising after delivery can be challenging; Your body has been tested to its limits, your getting little to no sleep and you have a new life to care for 24hrs a day!! But after our bodies have been through such stress and weight fluctuation, taking part in exercise and being part of the Shape Up Mums community can do more for you then you may realise below I have listed just a few post natal benefits….

 

1) Maintenance of Strength and Fitness Levels: 

Good fitness levels will help both the muscular and cardiovascular systems recover after pregnancy and the demands of labour. It will also help to counter the physical and mental demands and fatigue whilst caring for your baby.

2) Maintenance of Core Stability, Balance and Postural Control:

After your baby is born there is a dramatic change in your physical shape and posture. It can take 6 months for joint stability to be re-established. Correction of posture and building strength in the core will help to prevent lower back and pelvic pain.

3) Fast recovery after giving birth:

Early commencement of Pelvic Floor exercises along with walking, will trigger muscle recovery and start to help you feel like things are finally functioning correctly again!

4) Social Interaction: 

Shape up Mums classes will provide social interaction with other mums facing the same issues. It will help reduce the feelings of isolation and improve your self-esteem.

5) Help Fight Fatigue:

‘Pumping’ that oxygen to the muscles, improves the ability of the muscle to produce more energy, it also helps your body produce endorphins. (those little happy hormones!)

6) Blood Pressure: 

Cardiovascular exercise, even at low levels increases the heart muscle strength, if your heart is stronger it means it doesnt have to work so hard circulating the blood around the body, therefore lowering your blood pressure!

7) Mental Health/Post-Natal depression:

Taking part in physical activity is likely to have a huge positive effect on your emotional wellbeing,

8) Improve your sleep: 

Research shows that Cardiovascular exercise at least 6 hours before going to bed will help you sleep better!

Mums, I know that there is so much on your plates right now, Laundry, Screaming baby, sore boobs, feeling unconfident as a mum and I know that some days you will feel like you are truly in survival mode and that doing a workout is probably the last thing on your (LONG) To-Do list. But I want you to feel great about yourselves and get the full benefits of exercise … You can do it!

Set your exercise schedule for next week and don’t let any excuses get in your way! You’ve got this, it is your time!!

Author: Ali Broomfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets Get Motivated!

 

I Can Do it We’ve all been there, where we start an exercise routine and    are so excited, motivated and determined. ‘Yeah I can do this!’ then…BOOM… the tired, negative, cant be bothered attitude creeps in. Does this sound familiar?

Especially when we have been up half the night with our little ones. Keeping the motivation to exercise can be so challenging. Here are some tips to hopefully put the fire back in your belly and keep you feeling energised!

 

 

  • Keep Track of your Progress:

Each week you may only be seeing small results so it’s so important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and how far you have come. One way to keep track is to keep a diary of the changes you are noticing not only in your body but also in how you are feeling generally, if you are feeling healthier and happier that is an amazing result right there!

  • Don’t Rely On The Scales:

Sure the scales are a great way to measure your weight loss, but remember as you begin doing resistance/weight-bearing exercise you will gain lean muscle, which is denser than fat, and therefore will weigh more on the scales. So if you are obsessed with checking the scales, if the number rises this is likely to de-motivate you.

I always tell my clients (and myself!) to go by how your clothes are fitting, it’s a much more accurate reflection of your body change and hard work.

  • Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself!:

Its ok… we all fall off the bandwagon and reach for the biscuit barrel (or packet of Jelly Snakes in my case!) sometimes, or feel so tired we miss a workout. Its just important to not dwell on it and just start a fresh the next day.

  • Recruit A Friend:

Sometimes having someone there to talk to can be a great way to stay motivated. Ask a friend to be your workout partner; you won’t want to skip a workout if you know someone is going to meet you.

  • Set A Goal:

Working out to get back to your pre-baby shape is great, but maybe you want to set another goal such as, taking part in a 5km race or a charity sports event. Having a set goal will give your workout more meaning.

  • Focus On How Good Exercise Makes You Feel:

You know that satisfied feeling you get at the end of a class?

Remember It! Use that feeling to motivate you the next time you’re thinking “Oh maybe I’ll just give today’s class a miss”.

  • Book Into a Class:

We can make promises to ourselves all day long (after all nobody else can hear them) but research shows we are more likely to follow through with our exercise intentions if we book into a class or have a set schedule to follow.

  • and finally… REWARD YOURSELF!:

When you hit a goal, whatever it may be wether its to attend 2 classes a week, run 5km or lose a few inches, Congratulate yourself – YOU did it! Buy a new book or magazine, get your hair done or just treat yourself to a smoothie. Just give yourself some praise you are on the way to a happier, healthier you.

Keep Exercising!

Ali x

 

 

What is the Core and when Can I do a Sit Up?

The core is the muscles which surround the trunk of your body! These include muscles of the abdomen (Inner and Outer) Back, Pelvic Floor and even our breathing muscles (the diaphragm).

Ideally these muscles should work as a team, but quite often during pregnancy and childbirth the integrity of these muscle can be affected. Due to a combination of hormone changes, weight changes and a growing baby these muscles are stretched over the months during gestation. As a consequence of these changes during pregnancy and subsequently birth these muscles may become too weak to support the trunk and this could be the reason some of you experience re-occurring back pain, pelvic pain or even pelvic floor problems.

In regards to your abdominal muscles there are two sets to be aware of:

The Inner Abdominal Muscles – (Transverse Abdominis):

This is the deepest innermost layer of your abdominal muscles and should contract the same time as your pelvic floor. These muscles are like a corset covering the abdomen and spine and providing support to the joints and pelvis.

These muscles are designed to be gently active for long periods of time.

Then there are the Outer Abdominal Core Muscles – (Rectus Abdominis & External Oblique’s) :

Also known as the ‘6 pack’! ‘ It sits above the deeper core muscles. Intense exercises that work these, such as the sit up, contract this muscle strongly and this increases downward pressure on the pelvic floor, if your pelvic floor is weak and unable to counteract this pressure, pelvic floor problems can occur.

A sit up, or as some people know it, a ‘crunch’ is a very popular exercise performed in many gyms and exercises classes over the world. The fact that during the movement of the sit up, the pelvic floor is forced downwards is important to bear in mind.

The safety of a sit up/crunch for your pelvic floor/core depends on:

  • Your current Pelvic Floor Strength
  • History of Pelvic Floor Issues
  • Prolapse Surgery
  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (Prolapse, Incontinence)
  • Rectus Diastasis (Abdominal Separation)

At Shape Up mums we recommend that it is not advisable to do sit ups, in the first 12 months of giving birth, you should also consider the above factors.

The overall aim should be to safely maintain, restore and strengthen the Core muscles without compromising your pelvic floor.

If you are wondering…’is it possible to train the abdominals and protect the pelvic floor?’ The answer is yes! We include a Core section at the end of our classes, which are completely pelvic floor safe and help you to activate those core abdominal muscles.

Eventually when your trainer feels you have the core integrity to safely start sit ups. We can guide you into safely, slowly and affectively engaging your core and pelvic floor to do this type of exercise in a VERY controlled manner!

If you have any questions or feel you are ready to do a sit up, please speak to you trainer who will be able to ensure you are doing them with correct technique and start you off slowly.

Ali Broomfield – Personal Trainer

 

 

“I’m Pregnant! Can I still come to Shape Up Mums?”

so you’ve just found out your pregnant, you must stop exercising immediately right? WRONG!

We at Shape Up Mums encourage pregnant women to participate in our exercise classes, wether you were fit before or not.
One thing we do recommend is that your main goal is to maintain a good fitness level and healthy lifestyle and not make reaching your PEAK fitness your goal.

“So why should I continue exercising?” You ask.
Well benefits of exercising during pregnancy include:
– improve physical and mental well being
– maintain a healthy weight
– helps you to rerun to your pre-baby weight quicker
– reduces the risk of gestational diabetes

At Shape Up Mums we understand as pregnancy progresses the body goes through huge changes and our lovely trainers will modify programmes accordingly…and don’t forget our exercises are Pelvic Floor safe!

So keep you and your bump, active, happy and healthy and come along to Shape Up Mums today!

Simply book in here..

Fitting in exercise as a busy mum!

If I had a perfect answer to this, I would wave my magic wand and make it happen for everyone. But we all know that once you become a mum your priorities change, and you tend to put others needs first.

So what can we do to ensure that we look after ourselves, give ourselves me-time, time to look after ourselves, and sustain a healthy lifestyle. Below are some tip to try and help you along…

  • Plan, plan, plan. For those that know me, they will know that I am a planner! I am currently using a weekly planner (from Kikki K, but Typo have some great ones too..) This way I plan all our scheduled appointments, kinder, etc. Plus I put on weekly plannerhousehold duties such as washing, vacuuming etc. The big one to add to the list is MY EXERCISE! If its on my list for the day, then I have to complete it! It means I can’t do a million other things that day, as I have allocated time to do some exercise. Plus I love crossing everything off as I complete it, means I feel like I achieved something (even if it was just washing, vacuuming, changing sheets etc!!)
  • Talk to someone about it. Have a conversation with someone close, who will keep you accountable. This might be your partner, your Shape Up Mums trainer or a girlfriend. It needs to be someone that can push you (without getting you back up!). You trainer is a great choice, as they can check in with you each week to see how you went with your 3 walks, and a swim for the week (you will feel you need to make time to do it!)
  • Research. If your plan is to swim twice a week, find a pool that has a great crèche/occasional care centre (that you feel comfortable with), so that you can leave your little ones safely and enjoy your swim. If you want to walk a specific track, have a look on google maps to make sure you aren’t going to have to carry the pram down steps!
  • Set yourself up to succeed! Initially set your goals to be very realistic for the week, it might be: 2 SUM sessions, 2 walks and a run. This way the only session you don’t want to take your baby is your run, so that is one 30-45min block of time you need a babysitter.
  • Reward yourself. Set yourself a goal for the month, and if you succeed reward yourself with something you have been wanting. This could be a new sports cap, a snazzy drink bottle, or a lunch date with your partner!
  • Book in ahead of time. If you are planning on attending a SUM session, book it in at the start of the week. Mentally it is much harder to cancel out of a class (because your can’t be bothered!!!), then booking in at the last minute because your need to get that exercise in!!!!

Finding my neutral spine

Neutral spine is the strong and natural position of the spine when we are standing and sitting. Often through pregnancy women lose core muscle integrity, and forget how to correctly and safely hold themselves. The importance of rebuilding a strong core, and doing activities and exercises in a neutral spine is integral to prevention of injury. Knowing how to find the neutral spine position is crucial for doing many exercises correctly, particularly at the end of the session when we focus on our core and Pilates style exercises.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your legsNeutral spine are parallel with your heels, toes, knees, and hips all in one line. Allow your arms to rest beside your body.
  2. Relax your body, including your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Allow your back to rest on the floor, without effort. Your rib cage is dropped with the lower ribs released to the floor as well.
  3. Use your abs to press your lower spine into the floor in a pelvic tuck, release. And then pull your lower spine up, away from the floor creating a pelvic tilt – release. Many people habitually have their spine in one of these two positions, tucked or tilted. To be in neutral spine, you want to be in equally in-between these positions, with the lower abs flat and just a slight, natural curve of the lower spine off the floor.

For further assistance, check in with your trainer. We are more than happy to help you find your neutral spine!

When will I get my pre-baby body back?

As a trainer and PT I am asked this all the time! And I want to start by saying there is no rule for everyone, as we are all different, gained different amounts during pregnancy and have very different tendencies to hold on to weight or lose weight in the months/years that follow the birth of your baby.

Will I ever be the same? I’m going to start with the bad news! Due to the changes in hormones, and stress on the body during pregnancy it is unlikely that you will ever have the body you had prior to conceiving. During pregnancy you unfortunately lose muscle tone in particular areas of your body (arms, glutes, core and back – to name a few!) Even if you quickly lose the weight that you gained during pregnancy, your body is unlikely to have the muscle tone (or strength) you previously did. Over the months and years following the birth of your baby, it can take a lot of time to rebuild the muscles mass and strength that you had previously built up over life. These changes in muscle mass, combined with the changes to your hips and breasts (due to hormones) can result in your body never being exactly the same as prior to conceiving. A small price to pay, for the miracle you give birth to!

But when can I expect to be at my pre-baby weight? This varies for all women. I like to encourage mums to have a balanced view when trying to regain their pre-baby body, and achieving a healthy weight. The ultimate goal is for your weight to come back to a healthy weight range. What does this mean? Most health professionals will use the crude tool of BMI to determine your range. It is really important to remember that this tool DOES NOT take into account that muscle is denser than fat. So for individuals that naturally carry a lot of muscle, they can have a higher BMI (anyway, I’m getting off the topic!!). The healthy BMI range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9. To determine you’re BMI:

Weight in kg              = BMI                                         62kg
(Height in metres )2                                                   (1.7m2)                   = 21.4

The Heart Foundation have an online tool you can use at http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/Pages/bmi-calculator.aspx

1st birthdayMy general advice to mums is to aim to be at their pre-baby weight (or ideal body weight) at their babies first birthday. This allows mums to ensure that their providing adequate nutrition whilst breastfeeding, and allow the weight to come off through healthy eating and regular exercise. Some mums find it difficult to achieve this goal in the first twelve months, however my reasoning behind this goal is that women are at increased health risks if they do not resume their ideal body weight prior to falling pregnant in subsequent pregnancies. Women who are not at their ideal body weight (or pre-pregnancy weight) when conceiving are at increased risk of gestational diabetes. An addition, women who do not reach a healthy weight following the birth of their children are at increased risk of diabetes, cancers and heart disease in the years to follow. Additional associations have been made between women who do not lose their baby weight and post-natal depression, due to poor self-esteem and body image. With all of these in mind, it is important to prioritise your health and wellbeing, which includes resuming a healthy weight following the birth of your baby.

How to achieve a healthy body weight? There is no secret recipe for achieving your healthy body weight following the birth of your baby. It definitely does not include fad diets, crash diets or shakes (but I will save that for another day!!) Here are my tips:

  • Patience! Don’t be in a hurry to drop the weight. Despite the pressure females feel from the media (family, friends and themselves) due to high profile celebrities dropping the baby-weight within days and weeks. This IS NOT NORMAL. They have chefs, nanny’s, personal trainer and personal assistants to help them with everything they do! Plus some of the techniques used are very questionable (in my opinion).
  • Don’t crash diet. The first reaction of your body if it receives reduced calorie intake is the shutdown of additional bodily functions. The first to be compromised will be your milk production for your baby.
  • Increase exercise slowly It is important to increase the intensity and duration of exercise slowly. Don’t head out for a 10km run when your baby is only 6 weeks old! Your body initially needs to recover, and then you need to rebuild your fitness and strength.
  • Balance Ensure you balance the numerous demands on your body. From breastfeeding, sleep, nutrition, exercise and ‘me time’. For many, time exercising is also ‘me time’ which is a great way to do two of these things at the same time.
  • Smart snacking When you are breastfeeding many mums find that they are constantly hungry, and looking for snacks. It is really important to surround yourself with lots of easy healthy snack foods so that you aren’t tempted by empty calories (junk food). Make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand (cut these up and seal them in an airtight container, so they are even easier to snack on), dried fruit and nuts, and low-fat dairy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids The body often mistakes thirst for hunger. Whilst you are breastfeeding you fluid requirements at very high, particularly if you are also exercising. It is important to drink plenty of water.
  • Set realistic goals Aiming for a milestone at a point in time is a great way to keep you on track. It is really important that it is realistic, or it will become an added STRESS point. Rather than having a number on the scales, I always suggest having an outfit that you’d like to feel good in by a point in time.
  • Stop to smell the roses! Don’t let weight loss control your life. Having a baby is a very special time in your life, and it is important to cherish this time. Don’t let weight loss become more important than enjoying life!

For more personal details on an approach to losing the extra baby weight, contact Vicky to organise a time to discuss further mailto:[email protected] – Vicky Anderson

Mums setting the best example

One of my goals as a mum is to set the best example to my little ones. This has become more important to me having two beautiful little girls, I have witnessed firsthand (seeing girlfriends encounter eating disorders) the affect that positive body image can have on young girls and woman and their perspective on their own body image.

Mum body exampleWhilst relaxing over the summer at the beach, I was reading a Marie Claire magazine and came across a photo that summed this up. The magazine had asked advertising agencies to put together an advertisement for positive body image. There were several different approaches; however this one hit home for me. I think it says it all.

From this, it inspired me to make a list of the attributes I’d like my daughters to take from the example my husband and I set for them. I thought I’d share it, in the hope it might encourage other mums to reflect on their own practices!

Always be positive about my body image in front of my girls (I still have my moments where I don’t like what I see, but ensure that these are away from view!!!)

  • Include regular exercise as part of our lives forever. I love that Abi already gets her handbag and walks to the door and says ‘Bye Mummy, I’m going to the gym/for a run!’

Research has proven that when children witness their parents leading a healthy lifestyle (eating correctly and exercising regularly), they are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle (McMurray 1993, Gottlieb 1985, Gottileb 1986). This positive influence on children’s overall health has led to a decreased incidence in childhood obesity.

  • Consume a balanced eating. This is not to say demonstrate to your children how to ‘diet,’ this is teaching my example how to enjoy food on a daily occurrence. Demonstrate to your children how to enjoy ‘sometimes’ food as part of a balance eating habit.
  • Show them that life can be fun without alcohol! However if they choose to drink (when legal!) how to be mature, and drink with balance and understanding of those around them.

Another advertisement from the collection:

mums and bubs fitness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sally Muir – Dietitian & Personal Trainer

Sports Bra selection for breastfeeding Mums

Content provided by She Science, original source: http://blog.shescience.com.au/183/

With most nursing mothers in a frenzy to shed the weight post pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to see breastfeeding mothers battling it out on the pavement. Unfortunately it’s equally as common to see some obvious mistakes being made with their Sports Bra selection.

Here are a few tips for all the breast feeding mothers out there…

It is seriously unlikely that your bust size is what it was pre-pregnancy, so there is very little chance you can get away with wearing that Sports Bra you’ve had since you were in your final year of Uni. Get rid of it.

Your bust is also likely to change in size and shape a number of times over the next year or so, so it’s a good idea to start thinking about the potential need to invest in a number of different Sports Bra options over the next little while.

A good way to ensure you are not purchasing too often if to avoid Sports Bra’s with underwire. A soft cup bra eg the Moving Comfort Juno, will give a firm level of support without pushing your delicate breast tissue in to cups lined with underwire. This will give you a bit more flexibility to wear the bra as your breast increases and decreases in volume.

When avoiding underwire, often women will be drawn towards the crop top style Sports Bra. This can be a dangerous move for nursing mothers already conscious of their changing shape. The crop top should be avoided if you are trying to stay away from the uni-boob look which is unflattering all round.

For this reason, a bra that offers support using the encapsulation method will have you feeling great about your shape, and offer the flexibility for your changing bust size as mentioned above. The encapsulation method of support separates the breasts from one another and holds them firmly in place.

Most well designed, high impact Sports Bras will have a high neckline that will also aid in modesty and leave you feeling secure and comfortable with your shape. Add this to your ‘must have’ list for extra confidence.

There are plenty of Sports Bras on the market with front fastening which is an obvious inclusion for any breastfeeding mum. This includes options that secure at the front using a zip or clasps, there are also plenty of options that fasten at the back but have adjustable velcro straps at the front (see Moving Comfort Juno below). Both will allow for easy unfastening to breastfeed.

Remembering that nursing Mums can unfortunately experience pain in their breasts for any number of reasons, I hope that by following the guidelines above you should leave yourself with the best chance of feeling comfortable and confident when returning to exercise post pregnancy. Good luck!

Exercises tips for mums at home

From our recent client feedback survey, the most popular topic that you want covered in the newsletter is ‘Exercise ideas for home!’ So here it is….

Exercise with baby

No excuses for not having any equipment, all of you can use your baby!! Making sure if you are using your baby as a weight, that the weight of the baby is evenly distributed. Therefore its important not to have them on your hip, either on your front or back is ok. You can even make it easier for yourself and put them in a baby carrier (for some of the exercises)! Some great exercises to do with your baby include:

  • Baby kiss push –ups, just like your usual push up (remember your 3 SUM options we give you) as your chest is at the bottom of the push up kiss your baby and push back up.
  • Baby squats, again remember you pelvic floor squatting principles. Make sure your baby is sitting evenly on your front (even weight distribution). Ensure that your pelvic floor is being activated as you rise out of the squat
  • Baby walking/static lunges, same as above.
  • Sitting baby shoulder press, sitting on the edge of a seat, holding your baby at the armpits (for babies old enough to have good head control!!). Hold your baby at chest height, and then extend your arms above your head. Ensure pelvic floor is activated whilst pressing upwards
  • Sitting baby clock, sitting on the edge of your seat, holding your baby at the armpits (for babies old enough to have good head control!!). With semi-straight arms move baby around in front of you like a clock, then change direction.
  • Baby hip bridges, sitting your baby on your hips (lying on your back, with knees bent, feet flat on the ground). Bridge up and down, with your baby resting on your hips.

Incidental exercise

For those keen to optimise their workout within the home, you can definitely make the most of your incidental exercise.

  • Baby wake up lunges – when you hear you baby wake, do 10 lunges playing peek-a-boo as you bob down and look through their cot (make sure you are lunging correctly, and not just bending over!!)
  • Reach with calf raise – place something you use daily up high just out of reach (your coffee cup!), each time you want a coffee reach by doing 10 calf raises
  • Kettle push ups – whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, do bench push ups for the time the kettle takes to boil!
  • Wash squats – spread your washing out over your laundry floor, pick up one piece of clothing at a time by doing squats (remember to activate your pelvic floor as your pick up the clothing, and rise out of your squat!)
  • TV dips – whilst watching TV on a chair, simply place your hands at the edge of the chair (fingers facing forwards) and do a series of 10 dips!

Apps for home exercise

Pocket Yoga: I’ve enjoyed doing some yoga at home with the ‘Pocket Yoga’ app, its a great way to do some exercise whilst your baby sleeps!

Pelvic floor first, a continence foundation initiative has just realised an app!Pelvic floor app

App features include:

  • Instructional videos and audio for all workouts
  • Detailed pictures and instructions for each exercise
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercise guide
  • Ability to save favourite exercises for personalised workouts
  • Links to useful websites to learn more about your pelvic floor

The free app is based on the Continence Foundation of Australia’s Pelvic Floor First website pelvicfloorfirst.org.au. It is now available to download for smart phones and tablets through iTunes. The app will be available from Google Play in the coming days – please keep an eye on our social media pages for details.

Abdominal seperation (DRAM)

Abdominal separation or diastasis recti (DRAM) is a common condition of pregnancy and postpartum, when the right and left halves of your abdominal muscles spread apart at the body’s mid line. During your pregnancy your abdominal muscles are stretched, due to the growth of your uterus and baby. During this time, your abdominals become compromised due to hormonal changes, and often separate to allow room for your baby. Following the delivery of your baby your abdominals will not automatically re-join, and resume their pre-pregnancy strength (unfortunately).

Abdominal seperation DRAMOnce you have delivered your baby your doctor or physio will often assess the level of separation between your abdominals. A mid line of more than 2-2.5 fingers widths or more than 2.5-3cm can be considered problematic. Should you feel that you have a separation that is greater than 2.5-3cm, it is important that you visit your local women’s health physio to discuss appropriate exercise prescription to optimise the closure of this. A small amount of widening occurs in all pregnancies, and is very normal. Disastasis recti is thought to occur in approximately 30% of all pregnancies, and unfortunately separation in a previous pregnancy significantly increases the probability of the condition in subsequent pregnancies.

Unfortunately for some women the separation can result in them requiring surgery to close the gap between their abdominals. However this is in situations where the gap is large and all attempts at rehabilitation under women’s health physio have been unsuccessful.

What does DRAM mean to me?

A separation is a safety mechanism of the body to avoid the muscles tearing during pregnancy. However it can become a problem postpartum should the muscles stay separated. Stretched and separated muscles do not provide full support for your back and may increase incidence of back pain, back injury, pelvic instability and other injuries due to compromised core control.

What can I do to fix reduce my separation??

A variety of things can be done to reduce the separation following the birth of your baby. The sooner you act on this issue, the better the results will be. Some of the following can have a significant impact on reducing the separation:

  • Exercises to strengthen the deep abdominal muscles.
  • Wearing an abdominal support belt, such as Tubigrip™, or firm compressive underwear following the birth of your baby
  • Avoiding sit-ups or abdominal crunches until the separation resolves.
  • Rolling when getting into or out of bed.
  • Minimising lifting anything heavier than your baby or anything that causes your tummy to bulge with strain.

Deep abdominal muscle strengthening exercise – postpartum

  1. Begin your exercise in one of the following positions; side lying, lying on your back, sitting, standing or 4 point kneeling.
  2. Draw your lower tummy in towards your spine.
  3. Hold for 5–10 seconds while breathing normally.
  4. Rest and repeat 8–12 times. Repeat this set of exercises 4 times each day.
  5. To make your exercises harder, over the next 6 weeks do them in a sitting or standing position and increase your effort as you are able.

Monitoring the recovery of your abdominal muscle separation

  1. Lying on your back with your knees bent place your fingertips across your belly at the level of your belly button.
  2. Lift your head away from the floor (a mini curl-up) and feel for the sides of your abdominal muscles coming together.
  3. If you can feel a gap wider than one finger then you may still have a separation.

Exercise to avoid

  • Any exercise that causes your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects
  • Intense coughing without abdominal support
  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side extends away from the body, such as “triangle pose” or lifting a toddler into a car seat
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing”
  • Abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine off the floor or against the force of gravity such as: as crunches, oblique curls, “bicycles,” roll ups/roll downs, etc
  • Pilates mat and reformer exercises that utilize the “head float” position, upper body flexion, or double leg extension

 

Sources: http://www.thewomens.org.au/AbdominalMuscleSeparationorDiastasis, Hold It Mama – The Pelvic Floor & Core Handobook, Mary O’Dwyer

 

Post-natal exercise for new mums

Following the birth of your baby your initially thoughts are about recovering from you recent birth, ensuring your new bundle of joy is nourished, dry and sleeping. As a new mum you are also trying to get some nutrition and sleep for you!new mums exercise

As the days roll into week, and the weeks come around to that 6-8 week point many mums start to thinking about reintroducing some exercise back into their routines. Before this point in time of the post-natal recovery period it is important that new mums limit their exercise in duration and intensity to ensure that their body is able to recovery from the recent birth.

It is important to discuss your return to exercise with your GP or obstetrician at your 6 week appointment. Your doctor will assess you recovery, and usually discuss any concerns regarding your pelvic floor and your return to exercise.

As a new mum your exercise needs to be introduced gradually. New mums must realise that they can’t just resume their pre-pregnancy exercise routine, their body and pelvic floor will take time to become strong again.

Initially start with gentle exercise of walking, swimming or post-natal pilates. Once you have developed a solid foundation of exercise, you can start to introduce a greater variety of exercise.

It is paramount that during the 12 month post-natal period you continue regularly do your pelvic floor exercises to ensure that your pelvic floor regains the strength and muscle integrity that is required to increase exercise intensity. Should you have any concerns that your pelvic floor is not recovering from your recent birth, it is paramount that you see a women’s health physio to ensure your recovery is optimised.

post natal exerciseIf you choose to attend exercise classes at a gym or bootcamp environment it is extremely important that the instructors understand the post-natal recovery period and the impact on a new mums body. The increased levels of hormones (relaxin), the energy demands of breastfeeding, the recovery of the pelvic floor are just some of the changes a new mother’s body is experiencing. Many fitness professional do not understand the changes, and the modifications to regular exercises that can be made to ensure that post-natal woman can exercise safely without damaging their recovering bodies.

Sally Muir – Personal trainer

How to get ready for Summer!

I wish I had an easy recipe for how to get flat abs! If it was as easy as a following a simple diet, I would definitely tell you!

There are some basics for how to be at your best for the warmer months when you want to wear less clothing (eg. Bathers!) As a new mum, the thought of getting into your swim suit is often enough for many to decide they will never go swimming again! This needn’t be the case. We have three long months until summer, plenty of time to get on track and feel great about yourself.

Most of you will read these simply tips, and think – that’s nothing new! To be honest, it’s not – you will have most likely heard it all before. But as I often say to people, ‘You have a choice.’ If you decide to embark on feeling fantastic this summer – than jump on board and commit to a health and fitness goal.

  1. Commit, commit, commit! This is the easy part, decide what it is that your goal will be and commit to it. It might be to feel fantastic, it might be to lose XXkg, it might be to be able to run 5km (without stopping to walk). Once you have decided, tell your trainers (or a loved one) so we can keep an eye on your progress and check in to see how it is tracking!
  2. Get rid of the junk. Make it easy for yourself, and remove all junk, sugary drinks and foods, highly processed foods from your cupboards and fridge. No one needs all of this and you will feel better without it. Without it in your cupboard, it’s not easily accessible so you can’t just nibble on it throughout the day!
  3. Plan your week. If you have a plan of what exercise you are going to do each day, and when you will fit it in, you are more likely to achieve it! If you happen to miss a day, it will also make you prioritise getting your exercise on the subsequent days of the week!
  4. Plan your eating. Some people can only plan for today, others (like me) plan for what we will eat for the week ahead. Not only does this save trips to the supermarket, but it ensures that you have thought about what you will eat and you can plan for healthy meals, rather than ‘convenience’ only!!
  5. Give yourself a prize!! Think of something you want, or want to do and let it be a prize for achieving your health and fitness goal. It might be a piece of gym clothing (which will also inspire you to keep exercising!), a dinner out to your favourite restaurant, a weekend away – or if you really want to go all out ask your partner to buy you a new car if you achieve your goal!!! (I WISH!!)

Discounted fitness clothing!

Talking with other mums at Shape Up Mums sessions recently, I have been asked numerous times where to buy reasonably priced fitness gear. So I thought I’d put some ideas together!

Outlets!!!

Lululemon Outlet – 30 Rupert St, Collingwood.

I think most of you know my love affair for Lululemon clothing. As I tend to live in gym gear, I need clothing that lasts. And I can honestly say that when you purchase a pair of Lulu leggings you are making an investment for the long term! That said; why not visit their outlet store. I have picked up some great bargains over the years at the outlet, it’s definitely worth visiting. Like the Lululemon outlet on Facebook for weekly updates on what is new in store.

Nike Factory Store – DFO 20 Convention Place, Docklands or Nike Factory Outlet 416 Smith St, Collingwood

Nike have provided great fitness attire for years/decades, again they can be very expensive. But if you visit the DFO store or outlet you can pick up some great pieces at discounted prices.

2XU – DFO 20 Convention Place, Docklands

Another brand that is often expensive to purchase at full price, but if you visit the outlet you can pick up some great pieces. I even got some shorts for $5 each!

Adidas Factory Outlet – DFO 20 Convention Place, Docklands, DFO Moorabbin or 377-379 Smith St Collingwood.

Another great option for fitness gear, often I have found they tend to have more tracksuits.

Brooks Factory Outlet – DFO 20 Convention Place, Docklands

For those that enjoy their Brooks runners, this is a good place to visit!

Internet

Wiggle – www.wiggle.com.au

No I’m not bonkers; I’m not talking about ‘The Wiggles’! I’m talking about the great website called wiggle.com.au. They stock everything for running, riding, swimming and triathlons (including runners). This is a website to definitely check out if you are happy to shop online, and you are looking for a great discount!

Ebay!

If you know what you are after, and know research the store you are purchasing from. This can be a great option. Just do some research before you make a purchase!

2XU outlet online store – http://2xuoutlet.com.au/womens/sport/run-gym.html

I found this website while I was researching from this article, it has some great pieces discounted!

Mumgo or Catch of the Day (run by the same company, you just receive different notifications)

I am signed up for the Mumgo emails, and I have seen Nike, Asics, Addidas shoes and clothing advertised numerous times.  As a Mum, the Mumgo emails are great they send you discounts for all sorts of things you purchase as a mum!

The Iconic  – http://www.theiconic.com.au/

This website has loads of brands discounted, including sporting attire. Its worth checking out!

Lorna Janewww.lornajane.com.au

I am on the mailing list of Lorna Jane, I am regularly sent notification about sales they are having. You sometimes get discount codes to use online, so it can be worth being on their mailing list.

Sally Muir – Personal Trainer (and keen shopper!!)

Keeping little ones warm and dry over winter season

 

Many mums worry that as the days become colder and wetter that exercising outside is not a great option. At Shape Up Mums we have witnessed firsthand, how being prepared and organised for these colder days pays off! So here are some tips from personal experience that we have learnt from Shape Up Mums along the way!

Babies

For the little ones that aren’t on the move, the following are great:

All in one – Jumper suit

13084_bambino_560

These Jumper Suits keep bubs very warm and are easy to get on and off and you can layer under it too, so you can doubly make sure they are warm. The ones pictures are from Kathmandu and can be ordered online. I have also seen similar ‘Jumper’ material suits in Gap and Purebaby.

 

 

 

Beanie & Mittens

To keep their little heads, ears and hands warm.

Abi and Noah puddle suit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foot Muff or Sleeping bag

Footmuff

 

This will depend on the style of your pram. We have seen the difference these can make, One Winter, one of our regular Hawthorn mums was experiencing an unhappy baby at each session until she purchased a foot muff for her pram – and then she was very happy!

These can be purchased from all the baby shops like Baby Bunting. Many of the prams have specific foot muffs/sleeping bags that fit snugly in your pram.

 

 

 

 

Toddlers

Puddle suits

Abi & Phoebe3(resized)This is a great idea for little ones that are on the move. Whether they are crawling, learning to walk or running around – a puddle suit will give you piece of mind that they WILL stay dry. A great site for these is Muddlarks. I have also seen them at Katmandu, and other outdoor & camping stores. Archer had an all in one overall suit, but you can also just purchase the trousers and jackets separately. Also Feedback about the Bib and Brace style has been great as these are easy to get on and off – they look like cute little firefighters too!

 

 

 

 

Gumboots

Abi's shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

A must for keeping dry feet, and avoiding their runners from ending up like the ones pictured! (I learnt the hard way!!). At least this way you know when they want to jump in muddy puddles like Peppa Pig they will stay dry!

 

 

 A warm jumper

Investing in a warm jumper/jacket will ensure that your toddler’s core remains warm. A polar fleece is great , as it is easy to wash when it gets dirty and keeps them  super warm.

Fitness gear for preggie mums!

As the months progress through your pregnancy, you slowly decide that particular pieces of clothing – ‘Just don’t fit!!’ As our bodies change, it’s one of the many joys that pregnancy brings. For me, if I’m honest – I don’t particularly enjoy not being able to fit in my clothes. But we need to remind ourselves of the miracles inside, as the reasons we become pregnant (more than once!)

For me – having clothes available that fit well, and make you feel and look good whilst pregnant is important. And I can honestly say, that I have well and truly road tested fitness gear this pregnancy! As I have been living in my gym clothes ~ 7 days /week, they have been worn and washed over and over again!!

I have to make an admission; I also hate buying specific maternity clothes (due to the ridiculous price brands put on maternity clothes, plus you only get to wear them for such a limited amount of time!)! Hence my suggestions below are not specifically designed for pregnant mums – instead regular fitness gear that accommodates your bodies!!

So I thought I’d share some of my favourites from this pregnancy, as they have helped me feel good about myself (whilst in gym clothes) which always helps us want to stay active!! As expected my favourite brand Lululemon features heavily!

Lululemon – Astro Crop

Lulucrop1 Lulucrop2  Suggested by one of our lovely clients (Janee), who works at Lululemon – this crop features a band that is crisscrossed at the top. The two pieces of fabric sit comfortably below your belly (as it grows). The great thing about these ¾ leggings, is that they are still supportive/comfortable when you are not pregnant!!

Lululemon – Cool Racerback (long)

LulutopI was a fan of the ‘regular’ version of this singlet before I became pregnant. But since my bump has grown, I can’t tell you how much I ‘love’ the Long Cool Raceback! The long line covers my bump so comfortably, it actually covers ½ my bum too!! I haven’t had to pull down my top once, when wearing this great singlet. I’m conservative when it comes to my bump, and don’t like to walk around with my belly hanging out!! So this singlet ticks all the boxes for me!!

A good sports bra!

So I currently don’t have a favourite sports bra to recommend. I’ve had to cease all high impact exercise, due to pelvic instability. However – if you do continue to be very active through the later part of your pregnancy, ensure you have a very supportive sports bra. Why not visit our friends at Brava Sport (either online or in-store), they specialise in sports bras for all sizes.

Bathers

Maternity bathersOk, so I’m not talking about the bathers you choose to wear to the beach over summer – that’s your choice!! I’m talking about bathers for going swimming. Yes you can wear your summer togs, but as a past swimmer I hate the wear that the chlorine has on my bathers. So I always purchase specific ‘swimming’ bathers, which are chlorine resistant!

I’m loving the Speedo maternity bathers, they look good – and feel great. I’m not worried about my top riding up over my stomach, as it’s a once piece. And the gathering of fabric on the sides, allows for plenty of growth at my tummy. If you plan on swimming later in pregnancy (which is a great option if you have any signs of pelvic instability) – definitely think about making the investment in a pair of these bathers!

Pelvic Instability (Pelvic Girdle Pain)

About a month ago, I visited our physio friends at Fitwise so that I could do some pilates sessions during the final 12 weeks of my pregnancy. As I discussed with my physio (lovely Claire) any concerns etc, I explained I’d experienced some mild lower back pain – particularly on days that I had carried Abi upstairs or across soft sand! She did some further investigating/assessments, and then explained to me that I had the start of pelvic instability (something I hadn’t considered! I thought I was just a little tight!!) Hence I thought I’d put some facts/information together on what it is, what the signs are and what you can do to manage it.

What is Pelvic instability or Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Previously referred to as Pelvic Instability, however now known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (they mean the same thing!) is a condition that causes pain around the joints of the pelvis (pelvic girdle) during and after pregnancy. The pelvis has 3 main joints, pubic symphysis joint (at the front) and 2 sacro-iliac joints (located at the base of the spine between the pelvic bones and sacrum).

In normal pregnancy a hormone called Relaxin softens the ligaments around the joints of the pelvis. This is a natural process which assists childbirth and does not usually cause lasting discomfort. For some women this natural process seems to go wrong, causing the joints of the pelvis to loosen too much. This can result in the pelvis becoming unstable or out of alignment. Pregnancy can also put strain on muscles of the back, stomach, pelvic floor, hips and pelvic girdle which may lead to the pelvic joints becoming less stable.

What are the signs of Pelvic Instability?

Unfortunately Pelvic Instability is sometimes misdiagnosed as ‘aches & pains of pregnancy’ and women can miss out on the help they need. If you think that you may have PGP, and the symptoms don’t improve after a few days of rest, you should see your doctor or a women’s health physio.  We highly recommend Fitwise Physiostherpay in East Melbourne and Women’s & Men’s Health physiotherapy in Malvern

Managing Pelvic Instability?

During Pregnancy

If you have any concerns, and think you may have Pelvic instability it is important you seek the advice and assistance of a trained physio. Physiotherapists who have experience treating this condition are usually able to assess whether you are experiencing Pelvic Instability. Some general do’s and don’t if you do have pelvic instability include the following:

Do

Don’t

  • Rest
  • Keep your legs together!! Particularly when   rolling over in bed.
  • Stand with your weight distributed on both   feet
  • Stand up (from sitting on a chair/floor) in a   squat position, not with one foot forward
  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs
  • Switch on your core (particularly your tummy   and pelvic floor muscles).
  • Ice your painful joints for 20minutes at a   time (repeat every 2 hours, until pain manageable).
  • Stretch – frequently stretch your gluts by   sitting on a chair, with one ankle resting on the opposite knee. Tilt from   the hips, until you feel a stretch through your gluts.
  • Stand on one leg
  • Don’t do exercises where you have weight distributed unevenly (lunges, one leg squats/calf raises, yoga poses such that require a lunge or uneven distribution of weight between feet.
  • Carry children on your hip (if you have to carry them, carry on your back/front). Try to avoid carrying them as much as possible
  • Step over things
  • Climb stairs
  • Push a shopping trolley
  • Walk/run as an exercise
  • Sit with your legs crossed!

In regards to exercise options if you have pelvic instability, it is important to avoid/limit walking. Two great options are swimming and stationary cycle classes, both of these allow you to enjoy cardio exercise – without causing any further inflammation.

Post-natally

Once your baby is born, you need to be careful during the first 3-6 weeks. The pelvic girdle needs this time to improve its control and stability mechanisms to support your pelvic. Pelvic instability usually resolves itself 3 months after giving birth (unfortunately for some women it can exceed the 3 month period).

Following the birth of your child it is important to still follow the Do’s and Don’ts above, until you can successful walk etc without pain. It is highly recommended that you continue to seek the assistance and advice of a qualified physio, to ensure your recovery and return to exercise is not hindered. For some women that have required a pelvic belt to assist with the management of pelvic instability, it is important that the pelvic girdle is able to rebuild its stability and strength to support the pelvis.

Source: Fitwise client information leaflet – ‘Pelvic Girdle Pain’,  PIA Australia – www.piaaustralia.com

Sally Muir – Personal Trainer

How to keep a New Year resolution!

We have all thought about what we would like to achieve in 2013, and some of us will have made the decision to make a ‘New Year’s resolution’ for the year. So how do you keep on track to achieve these goals, and what can you do along the way to ensure that you are successful.
1. Make a SMART resolution! Make you resolution or goal for 2013;

Specific – be very clear about what your goal is, try to limit the resolution/goal to only 1 thing!

Measurable – be able to measure whether you are successful or not.

Achievable – don’t try and set yourself a goal to exercise everyday for the year, if you realistically only normally exercise once/fortnight!            You want to set yourself up to achieve your goal.

Realistic – Set a realistic goal, that you can realistically achieve. Be realistic about what you can do on an ongoing basis, not just this week or the month of January.

Timely – give yourself a timeframe for achieving the goal/resolution. It may be for the whole year, or it may be for an event/special occasion you have coming up.

By setting a goal that ticks all of these boxes, you are setting yourself a goal that realistically be achieved!

2. Tell friends and family your resolution/goal. Sounds like an easy thing to do, but this really does make a difference for many people. Tell your friends and family what you would like to achieve, that way they can check-up with you at the end of the week.

3. Give yourself rewards! Everyone needs to feel like they are being rewarded, not just our little ones! So set yourself some smaller milestones along the way, and reward yourself if you are able to successfully meet them. If you are trying to lose ‘X’ kilos by the end of the year, break it down into monthly targets – when you reach them, you get rewarded. Buy yourself some new training clothes or a new top to wear out. If you are trying forgo sometime (maybe chocolate!) then reward yourself with something else at the end of each month you are successful!

4.  Tell you Shape Up Mums trainer. We love to know what you are working towards so we can help you – that’s what we are all there to do! If you have set yourself a resolution or goal that is relevant in any way to exercise or nutrition, we want to help. Our trainers are more than happy to discuss how you can meet an exercise goal, and our dietitian Sally is more than happy to help you achieve any nutrition or weight loss goals you have for 2013.

Sally Muir – Personal trainer and dietitian

 

 

How to survive the festive (silly) season!

So you’ve worked hard over the past months to improve your health and fitness, to feel good for summer. And then summer is upon us, which means the festive season. It is a difficult time of year to find time for both exercise and eating well. It is just so easy to indulge at all those Christmas parties, and not feel up to exercising the next day! So here are some tips to survive the silly season:

  • Plan each week; know when you are busy and when you can fit in some exercise. This might be walking to the shops/work, or set aside time for a Shape Up Mums session/swim/run/etc.
  • Don’t attend a cocktail party on an empty stomach! If you ensure that you have eaten yoghurt or some fruit prior to attending a party, you will curb your hunger and will help you ‘think before you eat!!’
  • Don’t, don’t, don’t have seconds!! When attending a lunch or dinner, simply eat your serve but don’t go back for seconds. By the time you have nibbles, entrée, main and dessert you will have eaten enough food to last you for the day!
  • Remember alcohol counts! It is so easy at this time of year to enjoy a few drinks, which also increases your chance of overeating! It is important to remember that alcohol is high in calories and definitely counts at the end of the day!!
  • Pace yourself. All that yummy food makes it very tempting to go crazy, but try and pace yourself. Perhaps alternate between something from the antipasto platter and a carrot/celery stick just to slow you down!
  • If you are catering yourself for a function, ensure you have some healthy options. Carrot and celery sticks with some low-fat tzatziki or hummus is a great nibble, that everyone will enjoy. At this time of year, a beautiful fresh fruit platter with some yoghurt is a great alternative for dessert.

How often do I need to exercise to see results?

This is a great question that we as trainers are often asked. Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer, as everyone is different!! However, I can definitely give you some answers to apply to your personal situation!

Firstly we need to define what results are…. Is the result; weight loss, regaining your pre-pregnancy body, being able to complete a 5km run, or simply to feel fitter! Once you know what you goal is, it’s much easier to then determine how much training you need to do!

Secondly, you need to be honest with yourself – how much exercise are you currently doing? Look back at the week just gone, and write down exactly what exercise you did. Now we have our baselines!

Once you realistically know how much exercise you are doing currently and the results you would like to see – you can start to plan how much exercise you need to do, to see results.

Our body is very clever, and works to become efficient at what it does. So if you do the same exercise every single day, you will initially see improvement in your fitness – and then overtime you will recognise that your body has become efficient, and the current volume/intensity of the exercise isn’t improving you fitness/helping you lose weight etc.  There are some simple ways to overcome this. The first step is to mix up your exercise – this is one of the key reasons we choose to include a variety of activities in your Shape Up Mums sessions. From cardio, interval, strength, boxing, core – you will keep your body working by changing the type and intensity of the exercise. Secondly,  you need to ensure that you change the intensity and frequency/length of exercise. If you always walk 20 minutes everyday, your body becomes efficient! Choosing to attend 2 group fitness session, you will increase the intensity and length of exercise.

Below are a couple of cases, which might help you:

Janet

Janet has 2 children, one is 4 and the other is about to turn 2 years old. Since giving birth to her second child, she has struggled to find time to exercise. She occasionally finds time to walk, however most of her ‘exercise’ is chasing after her two children. She is keen to attend classes/scheduled exercise, as she feels she need to be accountable to other people! Her current goal is to improve her fitness, and feel ‘healthier.’

Recommendation: Given that Janet is not currently exercising, any increase will improve her health and fitness. I would initially recommend she schedule her exercise at the start of the week, so that she can aim to achieve a certain number of sessions.  Plan to attend to 2×1 hour exercise sessions/week, and go for a family walk every weekend.

Overtime Janet will be able to increase her intensity at the exercise sessions, to ensure she sees improvement in her fitness.  Over time she will probably need to include some light exercise on the alternate days, such as 2-3 30 minute walks.

Melinda

Melinda gave birth 8 weeks ago, and is extremely keen to be able to fit back into her pre-pregnancy jeans! Prior to her pregnancy she used to train most days, enjoying a combination of running, swimming, netball and the occasional yoga class. Since giving birth, Melinda has been enjoying walking for 20-30minutes, 4 days a week.

Recommendation: Given that Melinda has very recently given birth, it is very important to take things slowly!! This said, she can still enjoy regular exercise – as long as she feels up to it. We would recommend continuing with her regular walks and starting 1-2 sessions of ‘safe’ post natal exercise (such as Shape Up Mums, swimming or Pilates). We would highly recommend that Melinda do her pelvic floor exercises 2-3 times/day, to ensure that her pelvic floor recovers from giving birth. Over the following 2 months we would encourage Melinda to work with her Shape Up Mums personal trainer to improve her core and pelvic floor strength to a point that she can then commence some controlled walk/runs (under the guidance/support of her PT), helping her safely return back to running in a timely manner.

Sally Muir – Personal Trainer

Exercise during pregnancy, the dos, don’ts and things to know!

Changes during pregnancy

As soon as you fall pregnant, your body changes! Your body is working hard to provide the adequate building blocks for your unborn child. This combined with the physiological changes in your body, including increased hormone levels – particularly Relaxin result in your body being different to prior to conception. This relaxin is imperative to woman being able to deliver a baby vaginally – however it also extremely important that pregnant women understand the impacts of this hormone on their body throughout the remainder of their pregnancy. Relaxin loosens ligaments, which can increase your risk of joint injuries.

Additional considerations during pregnancy include; increased resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure during the second trimester (dizziness can result, if rapid changes in position – lying to standing etc). The increased weight and the distribution of this weight and your centre of gravity are important to consider. Your balance and co-ordination in doing activities can be affected greatly, so it is important to be aware of this when trying any activity.

Exercise to enjoy!

The first step is to consult your doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare profession to make sure exercise won’t harm your unborn baby. In some circumstances medical professionals will ask you to avoid exercise, as it may be detrimental to both the expecting mother and the growing foetus. Regular physical exercise is encouraged throughout pregnancy, to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some benefits of exercising through-out your pregnancy include; greater energy levels, stronger back muscles which can help manage back pain and strain as your belly grows , improved posture, weight control, improved sleep and management of insomnia, preparation for the physical demands of labour, faster recuperation after labour and increased ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood.

Some exercise options include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling – outdoors or on a stationary bicycle
  • Exercise in water (aquarobics)
  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Pregnancy exercise classes.
  • Supervised classes such as yoga or Tai chi.
  • Shape Up Mums sessions – if you want to attend our sessions and you are pregnant, we ask that you discuss with your trainer. As long as your medical professional has given you the ‘ok’ to exercise, we can accommodate you in our sessions. However, you must discuss this with your trainer prior to taking part in a session.

Pelvic floor exercises are also important before, during and after pregnancy. Unless you have complications, it should be possible to enjoy some level of physical activity throughout most of your pregnancy.

Exercise to avoid

When thinking about exercise options to avoid, it is important to think practically. Pregnant mums need to avoid sports and activities with high levels of contact and increased risk of falls. Some sports that fall into this category include:

  • Trampolining
  • Rollerblading
  • Downhill snow skiing
  • Horse riding
  • Basketball

Other exercises to avoid include:

  • After about the fourth month of pregnancy, exercises that involve lying on your back – the weight of the baby can slow the return of blood to the heart. Try to modify these exercises by lying on the side.
  • In the later stages of pregnancy, activities that involve jumping, frequent changes of direction and excessive stretching (such as gymnastics).

How often and how much exercise can I do?

Once your medical professional has given you the go ahead to exercise it is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.

So what does ‘moderate-intensity’ mean??? We no longer use heart rate as an indicator for pregnant women, due to pregnancy causing the resting heart rate to increase. Instead the recommendations now specify ‘moderate-intensity’ exercise. At moderate-intensity exercise you should be able to still talk to the person next to you (with more than ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers). This is a great marker at our sessions, due to amount of chatting that is done whilst our mums exercise!

When you are pregnant it is important to listen to your body. If your body is feeling extremely fatigued during the first 3 months, it is important to only do very gentle exercise and rest adequately.  It is also recommended that no more than 3 sessions of vigorous exercise per week be done in the third trimester.

Sally Muir – Personal Trainer

Additional information can be found at the following website http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pregnancy_and_exercise

Short-term patience for long-term gain

Ecstasy, exhaustion, extreme fatigue, euphoria, tears of joy, emotional high, jelly legs, swelling, bruising, RELIEF! Have you experienced these feelings? I most recently did after crossing the finish line in Central Park, New York last November after completing the NYC Marathon. But, these are all words you could use to describe the emotions and physical feelings you experience after giving birth too.

There are a number of parallels between running a marathon and childbirth – both require physical conditioning and adaptation over a number of months; hydration, nutrition and rest are all key factors in maintaining optimum health during a marathon build-up and also pregnancy; both place extreme physical and emotional stress on the body during the actual race or childbirth; and finally, both require a patient approach and time in the recovery phase. It is this final point that I’d like to explore further and discuss in relation to short-term patience for long-term gain.

There is a long held belief in running circles that your next race is only as good as your recovery from the last one. An experienced coach once said to me that to achieve optimum recovery, you should allow for one day of rest for every kilometre run in a race. Therefore after running a marathon you should allow your body at least 42 days of rest prior to starting a new training plan. (Rest refers to active recovery or cross training – minimal running)

The same approach could be applied to recovery from childbirth – your body has been changing over a 40-week period, why not allow it 40 weeks to recover?

Pushing too much too soon in either scenario – following childbirth or running a marathon – can lead to short and long term physical problems such as incontinence, lower back pain, or prolapse issues following childbirth, or overuse injuries following a marathon. Going to hard too soon can also leave you emotionally and mentally exhausted – expecting too much too soon can leave you feeling sad, stressed and disappointed.

The key to recovering both physically and emotionally in both scenarios is to set realistic goals, time frames and exercise plans based on understanding and listening to your body.

Adequate recovery from either childbirth or running a marathon should start with the treatment of any acute injuries/trauma, whilst allowing the body sufficient time to rest. It is while we sleep that our body recovers and regenerates, so try and grab additional sleep or a power nap whenever the opportunity presents, particularly in the early weeks/months.

Ensuring nutrition and hydration are both high in quality and the volume necessary to replenish used stores and assist in the recovery process is also a high priority. (Sally is the qualified expert in the nutrition department so please contact her if you require further information regarding this topic.)

Secondly the treatment of any underlying and ongoing musculoskeletal issues should be attended to. These can include pelvic instability, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and pelvic floor muscle weakness following childbirth. Referral to physiotherapists who specialise in this area is an efficient and effective way of assisting the body to heal and recover to optimum health.

Attending weekly or twice weekly ShapeUp Mums sessions is also another way to assist in the recovery phase following childbirth. All exercises prescribed by the ShapeUp Mums trainers have a number of progressions and regressions suitable for women of all fitness and pelvic floor muscle strength ability. We ensure that you are working within your limitations and not pushing too hard too soon.

Our approach to exercise is to work from the inside out, reinforcing the foundations by regaining strength and function of the pelvic floor and core-stabilising muscles. These muscles are the foundation support of all activity and exercise. Working outer muscles at too high a level before inner strength has returned can lead to injury and incontinence.

Finally, setting yourself realistic goals and expectations is key to ensuring you don’t place too much stress on yourself physically and/or emotionally. 30 minutes of moderate exercise on more days of the week than not is a great place to start. That 30 minutes can be as easy as walking to the shops with bub in the stroller, attending ShapeUp Mums, or vacuuming the house!

Before you know it, weeks soon turn into months and if you have been following this little by little approach, including quality pelvic floor and core stability exercises with gentle progressions in your exercise regime, listening to your body and understanding what its telling you – rest when tired, cut back on additional exercise when sick, or see a physio if you have an injury – you’ll be running that marathon in no time!

By Jacqui Toohey

ShapeUp Mums Trainer

How to lose those the last 5kg!

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question, I’d be very rich!! The last 2-5kg is always the hardest to shift. The best way I can explain this is that if you weigh ~150kg, exercises such as walking are going to burn a lot of energy (due to the sheer weight that you have to carry, whilst you are walking). So your body works harder to do this simple exercise. In addition to this, when you start exercising and eating correctly – your body has a big wakeup call and hence the weight shifts more quickly. As your body adjusts to its new way of life, exercising regularly and eating regular healthy meals – it is common to experience a plateau in the weight reduction.

So what can you do to lose those pesty last couple of kgs?

  • Mix things up nutritionally! Sounds interesting, but it’s about changing what your body has been comfortable with over the last couple of months. If you always have toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and meat and three veg for dinner – change it up! Try having a fruit salad or bircher muesli for breakfast, a bowl of soup or salad for lunch and a tuna/chicken salad for dinner.
  • Incidental exercise. Any trips to the shops or to pick up the kids, try walking. Even if it’s just one extra walk a week, this helps. Incidental exercise can make a big difference to our overall energy expenditure. Taking the stairs whenever possible is another simply and easy way to increase your energy expenditure.
  • Mix things up physically!! If you run twice a week and walk the other days, try adding in some different exercise options. Your body becomes very efficient at doing the activities that it always does. This is one of the reasons we try and keep our sessions varied, to help ensure the body always has to adapt to new skills and exercises.
  • Commit to someone else. Sounds like an easy thing to do, but this really does make a difference for many people. Either tell a friend or partner that you are going to exercise every day this week, and that way they can check-up with you at the end of the week. Otherwise, why not organise with some other Mums to go for a walk – instead of a coffee, and talk while you walk.
  • Have a goal. Set a serious goal with yourself, and set your mind to achieve it. Make you goal a SMART one (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) so that it is something you can realistically work towards. Pick an upcoming wedding or dinner that you want to feel great for. A big caution don’t let everything go after the event/dinner, you will need to keep exercising and eating well to ensure that the great changes are achieved!!

If you feel like you just can’t make these changes by yourself, have a chat with us. As a dietitian, I am more than happy to sit down and go over your current diet and make any suggestions to help. And all out PTs, are more than happy to help you out with ideas on how to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule.

Written by Sally Muir, dietitian and personal trainer.

What to wear?

With the recent article in the Leader newspapers about what clothes mums should wear when exercising. I thought it was a great opportunity to write something a little more detailed.

I definitely don’t hide my love of Lululemon clothes, and the girls at the Camberwell store are just too helpful! I find it very difficult to leave the store, without holding one of those great red bags in my hand! The great thing for Mums, is that the whole store is easy to get around with a pram and the changing room area is big enough to park a pram and most of the stores have some toys too. Anyway, back to what I am writing about – what to wear….

Starting at the top:

  • A cap +/- sunglasses in summer is a must. We need to be role models for our little ones, so we need to set the example.
  • A good sports bar. For our breastfeeding Mums a wirefree sports bra is a must, it needs to be supportive (even without wire). When I was breastfeeding and running, I found that Berlie had a good wirefree sports bra. They definitely are not designed to feed in, but we can’t have everything we want (unfortunately!) For our non-breastfeeding mummies, a sports bra or crop top is still essential. We need to ensure that we have the correct support when exercising.
  • Singlets/T-shirts. When exercising, I prefer to layer – so that I can strip off layers as I warm up. For this reason I always start with a singlet. If you are choosing a T-shirt, make sure you have something breathable to draw the sweat away and keep you comfortable.
  • Long sleeves.  In the current climate – a must! Wearing a breathable long sleeve over a singlet is a great way to keep warm, as your warming up. Lululemon has a great range of T-shirts and long sleeves in the ‘Run swiftly’ range, these are designed to draw the sweat away and be breathable.
  • A jumper/jacket. We all need to arrive somewhere before or after exercising, so any jumper or jacket that is easy to get on and off will do for this!
  • Leggings. I am defiantly a fan of exercising in leggings. After giving birth, it’s nice to have a pair that provides support around the hips and that ‘tummy area’. I think it’s worth having a pair of ¾ leggings (I love Lululemons Run Inspire Crops, by far my favourite leggings!!) and a full length leggings, so that you aren’t cold in the cool months, but you still are comfortable as spring comes along.
  • Shorts/bike shorts. For the warmer months it’s often too hot to exercise in leggings, even ¾ ones. It’s worth finding a pair of bike shorts or shorts that fit well. When you purchase an item like this, doing a few deep squats and run on the spot, just to see if they will ride up your legs. It’s worth finding something you will be comfortable in!
  • Shoes and socks. I’m no podiatrist, but I know the importance of a good pair of shoes. Don’t just pull out the old pair of runners, which has been sitting there for 5 years!! Invest in something you feel comfortable, supported and like the look of. I know it sounds silly, but if you hate the look of them – you won’t wear them! After years or wearing Asics, I recently went in Nike – ‘just to have a look!’ Well needless to say, I have been converted. I love that my new runners are lighter, yet more supportive then my old ones. It’s worth having a look around, when buying your next pair of runners.

Boxing for Dummies/Mummies!!

Over recent weeks we have been doing some more complex boxing combinations. For our new Mums, some of the terminology is a little unfamiliar. So I thought I would explain the different types of punches that we commonly do.

It is important to always remember when we are doing any boxing exercises to have your pelvic floor strongly engaged. It’s not only when you are boxing, but also when you are holding the pads that you are working and needing that strong pelvic floor. If you feel that you are unable to maintain your pelvic floor, take a break – relax the pelvic floor and recommence when you are ready. Always listen to your body…

Jab

A jab is a punch with the left hand, straight ahead. It is an overhand punch at the point of contact (which means the palm is facing towards the ground).

Cross

A cross is a punch with the right hand. It is a power punch, as it is usually done with the dominant hand. The right hand crosses your body to travel in a straight line to your opponent.  Weight is transferred from the read foot to the front foot, which results in the rear heal turning outwards

Hook

A hook is a punch that can be done with either hand. A hook is usually aimed at the side of the chin. It is executed with a bent arm, usually about 90 degree angle at the elbow, the arm swings on a horizontal arc to connect with the side of the face/chin. The weight will shift towards the rear foot, to allow the front foot to pivot

Uppercut

An uppercut (or upper) is a punch that can be done with either hand. It is usually aim at the underneath of your opponents chin. It is an upward motion that initiates around belly button height, and comes upwards towards the chin.

We can also use a simply combination of a jab and cross and do these ‘up high’ or ‘out to the ‘side.’

If you ever feel unsure about your technique, let us know – we are always there to help!

6 ways to stay motivated in the cold

With only one month until spring, we know that Summer is just around the corner.  So it’s definitely time to think about how we can keep motivated to exercise and get in Shape. With some very cool, windy and wet mornings at the moment – I thought I would help you all out with some tips on how to stay motivated while it is cold!

  • Tell someone you are going to exercise! Make yourself accountable to someone else, this might be a friend or family. It’s always best to choose someone that might give you that little nudge towards the door, should you try and back out of exercising!!
  • Plan out your exercise week! At the start of the week write an exercise plan, so that you know what type of exercise you will do each day. This way you know how much time to allow for your exercise each day, and what other commitments you can fit in!
  • Wear the right clothes! Sounds obvious, but if you are too cold or too hot, exercise can be even harder. So ensure that you invest in some full length leggings, a good sports bra/crop top, a singlet and a breathable long sleeve top. If you’re not sure where to go and find all of theses, give the lovely girls at Lululemon Camberwell a visit. You will come away with great clothes to exercise in, that will last forever!!
  • Rug up your children or babies!! If you are planning to exercise in the company of your children or babies, rug them up! This may mean investing in a warm sleeping bag, a fleecy all-in-one, beanie, mittens and a rain cover for your pram for babies and some gumboots and a puddle suit for older kids. No one likes to be cold and wet, and we all know that our little ones will have something to say if they are cold!
  • Book in for exercise sessions. Be super organised and book into exercise sessions well ahead of time (if you can).  This way you actually have to cancel the session to get out of it!!
  • Start warming up as soon as your leave the house! Start walking/running as soon as you leave the house, to start warming up. If you hop in the car to get to training, you have to go through that second shock or leaving your car!

What types of exercise should I avoid if I have concerns with my Pelvic floor?

Following the arrival of a baby a female must be careful how she recommences exercising. It is recommended that prior to the 6-week check-up only very light exercise is done, such as light walking and incidental movement around the house. Once you have seen your GP or obstetrician for your 6-week appointment and they have confirmed that you can commence exercise it is still important to very gradually increase exercise intensity, duration and type.

Almost every form of exercise that you do affects your pelvic floor. This includes sitting, standing, changing your baby etc. Some forms of physical exercise can actually harm the muscles, leading to bladder and bowel control problems. Bladder and bowel weakness is a common problem, affecting nearly 4 million Australians. Interestingly one in three Mothers will report some degree of urinary incontinence! So let’s not make it worse by doing the wrong exercises!!!

Some forms of exercise place more stress on the pelvic floor than others, especially for people at risk of pelvic floor problems (pregnant ladies and ladies who have given birth fall into the category of ‘people at risk’!). Throughout any exercise it is important to monitor your pelvic floor and make sure it isn’t dropping/dragging or pushing downwards. Following the 6-week check-up it is recommended that each Mum very gradually increase the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise as her pelvic floor recovers and strengthens with regular pelvic floor specific exercises.

Exercises to avoid:

  • Abdominal exercises
  • Deep lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Wide legged squats
  • Deep Squats
  • Jump squats
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Chin ups
  • Full push ups
  • Jumping
  • Netball/ Basketball/ Vollyball
  • Star Jump
  • Skipping
  • High impact exercise

Until the pelvic floor has recovered from child birth and regained its integrity it is suggested that running and boxing be limited. These activities require the pelvic floor to be engaged to support the body. Many Mums are keen to return to their pre-pregnancy fitness regimes such as running following the birth of their child. It is suggested that a gradual introduction of these types of activities take several months. Initially it is suggested that Mums start by walking at a comfortable stroll for 20-30 minutes. As your fitness and pelvic floor strength improves the duration and intensity of the walking can be slowly increased to longer power walks. Initially you can introduce short distances of powerwalking within your regular walks and build this distance. Exercising in the morning will ensure that your pelvic floor is well rested and has more stamina to cope with your light exercise.

Once you are comfortably powerwalking and feeling strong with your pelvic floor you can start to think about moving towards commencing some higher intensity exercises. Initially one exercise you can start to trial is engaging your pelvic floor and lightly jogging on the spot. Start with 5-10 seconds and building up over the weeks until you can run for 60 seconds on the spot with your pelvic floor engaged (not feeling any concerns in your pelvic floor).

Once you have successfully completed 60 seconds of running on spot (on a number of occasionsions), you will be able to think about introducing some walks with small amounts of running. One way of introducing running back into your fitness regimen is to go for a walk and trial running 10-15metre of running. When you trial this it is imperative that you have your pelvic floor engaged and are able to breath regularly throughout the short distance of running. You can repeat this short distance after 5-10minutes of steady walking, 2-3 times. (If you feel any dragging or pulling in your vagina it is very important that you stop running immediately).

Once you feel confident with this type of walk/run exercise you can start to extend the periods of running out to longer distances. Or you can simply go for a very short run down the street ~ 50-100m. Once you have conquered this distance you can then extend the distance to around a small block (200m) and you can keep extending the distance. Whilst you run it is important to always be very aware of how your pelvic floor is feeling. You may find that around particular times of the month (particularly during the first 1-2 days of your period) that your pelvic floor may feel weaker. It is also important to empty your bladder (and bowel when required) prior to exercise to decrease the load on your pelvic floor.

With any type of physical exercise it is important that you listen to your body. Only you can tell how your pelvic floor feels. Your trainer will guide your exercise choices, however if you ever feel uncomfortable (any dragging or pain) you must tell you trainer immediately and reduce the load on your pelvic floor.

10 ways to get back in shape after a baby

Following the birth of a baby a female’s body continues to undergo a number of changes. During the first few months it is important to focus on the health and both the Mother and baby to ensure adequate nutrition (if you are breastfeeding) for the baby and recovery for the Mother.

As the weeks turn to months, most Mums start to recognise that most (if not all) of their attention and focus is on their little bundle of joy. As times continue to pass it is imperative that Mums start to share that focus on to themselves and also their partners. This often coincides with females starting to think about becoming more active and trying to move those kilos we gained during the pregnancy. Here are 10 potential ways to help you feel good about yourself by getting back in shape.

  1. Leave the house once a day, take your baby for a walk while they sleep and give yourself some light exercise and fresh air.
  2. Purchase some fitness DVD’s and make the most of the time when your baby is asleep. DVD’s are great when you don’t feel up to getting out of the house with your baby.
  3. Organise to meet your mother’s group at a local park or café, and organise with some of the other Mother’s to walk to the café or park.
  4. Join a group fitness session that specialises in exercise for Mums, where you can take your little one with you whilst you exercise.
  5. Purchase a fitball and a yoga mat, with these two very cheap pieces of equipment you can find endless number of exercises to do at home
  6. Seek out a local Mums and bubs yoga class, a great way to meet local mothers and introduce some gentle and safe exercise
  7. Discuss with your partner a plan of times that you will exercise, and try and plan these out at the start of the week. When you verbalise a plan, the chance you will actually complete the task increases.
  8. Set you and your partner a challenge, that every weekend you will do some sort of exercise together. This might be as simple as a walk or run, or it might be more adventurous like swimming.
  9. Keep honest with yourself. Start with a plan of exercising 1-2 times/week and build it up once you have achieved this.
  10. Try and exercise at a similar time each day (often the morning is best!). If you schedule your exercise in at a similar time, it becomes more routine and makes it easier to get of the house and do it. When you keep planning to exercise a little later in the day, we all know it often never happens!!