A Clean And Lean Pregnancy

You may have heard me mention ‘Clean and Lean‘ in a few blog posts already. That’s because I love the concept behind it.

Founded by James Duigan, Clean and Lean is all about being kind to your body and mind and sticking to natural foods and cutting out the C.R.A.P (Caffeine, Refined sugar,  Alcohol and Processed foods). According to James, sticking to ‘clean’ foods that haven’t change much from their natural state like an apple or egg will make you look & feel great. Its true!
I rarely eat processed foods but when I do, God, I feel awful the next day.

James has recently brought out a fantastic book called ‘Clean & Lean Pregnancy Guide.’ It is what it says on the tin, a book that guides you through conceiving, the first, second and third trimester and post-pregnancy.

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There are exercises and food suggestions to follow, with lots of easy recipes that will keep you nourished throughout the day.

One of my favourite recipes has to be the Nutty Granola. Its great for emergences when I feel like something sweet and ‘carby’ and best of all it’s easy to make. I make a big batch at once then keep it in a Tupperware – it doesn’t tend to last very long though 😉

To make it I simply mix gluten free oats, manuka honey, prunes and mixed chopped nuts.

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I then spread it on a baking and baked in the oven for 15 minutes, before getting it back out, giving it another stir and baking for another 30 minutes at 110 degrees.

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Try it, it’s lovely! I tend to have mine either on its own or with some Chocolate CO YO. You can’t get better than that!

The Clean and Lean Pregnancy Guide is available from www.kylebooks.com

 

 

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Pregnancy Countdown – 34 days to go. The Low Down on Birthing Balls

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Ok so I’m now officially over 35 weeks pregnant – and coming up to being nine months pregnant – who would have thought time would fly so quickly?

This week is all over getting the most out of my birthing ball – something you may have heard a lot about in your NCT classes or from your midwife. I sit on it as much as I possibly can!

A birthing ball is essentially a gym ball/swiss ball. I find it comfortable to sit on especially if I am working or watching the TV in the evening – as its uncomfortable to sit of hard chairs at the moment and I find it effort having to get up from my low sofa.

It also
* helps me to keep my posture in the right position,
* will help my baby get in the right position for birth and
* helps me to build strength and flexibility in my spine and thigh muscles.

When you sit on the ball you’ll also find that the legs naturally drop to the sides, so therefore open in the pelvis to its widest diameter and adds optimal foetal positioning in preparation for labor.

You can take it to the hospital to help with labor too! My mid-wife defiantely advised me to take it as sitting on the ball encourages a natural swaying motion of the pelvis, which helps the baby descend into the birth canal.

I also like it because the sitting position assumed on the ball, is very similar to the squat – which opens the pelvis and helps the birthing process.
The ball also supports your entire weight making it easier to breath and take pressure of the back.

I will most ceratinly be taking mine with me! One piece of advise though – just make sure it fits in your car before you make the trip to the hospital – that could be pretty embarrassing! I know one lady who had to get a cab to the hospital but leave her ball by the side of the road because there wasn’t enough room for it!

Need a birthing ball? Here are my top three gym balls.

Physical Company – Physical Stability Ball
Pretty in pink – this ball is manufactured from flexton®, a burst resistant material that has undergone static compression testing. 
£14.99; www.physicalcompany.co.uk
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Reebok TWO TONE GYMBALL

The mid-wife won’t miss you in this! It’s suitable for users between 170cm and 185cm (5′ 7″ – 6′ 1″) in height and comes with a DVD for once the baby is born and you want to work on getting your pre-baby body back! 
£29.99; www.idealworld.tv

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Technogym Wellness Ball
O
k, not the cheapest option I know, BUT it is made with special materials that favor perfect stability, traction and cushion during exercises. It also comes with its own bag, Pump and gauge for inflation, so if you can’t fit it in the car already inflated, you can do it at the hospital. 
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Pregnancy countdown – 42 days to go and I get….

…….Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until I did my pre-natal and post natal fitness course with Premier Training International – and it happened to me early this week.

It’s basically one of the most common causes of pain in pregnancy and caused when the ligaments and joints of the pelvis become relaxed due to the hormones of pregnancy (relaxin) and become inflamed by certain movements – in my case like lunges, one-legged exercises, until walking etc.

I feel the pain mainly when walking (particularly after I’ve been sitting down for ages), getting out of the car and standing for long periods and if I stand up for too long, so to help it, I’ve totally stopped any lunges or one-legged exercises in the gym, not taking long strides when walking to and from places until I’ve warmed up a bit, and wearing my supportive Gowri Wrap, which gentle supports my baby girl while supporting my lower back.

A few other things to avoid are:

  • Pulling yourself up when lying on your back. Instead you need to roll to your side and use your hands to push yourself up.
  • Getting up and down from a char with your knees together. When you get up, keep your knees together and use your hands to push yourself up.
  • Avoid soft chairs like sofas, as you won’t get adequate support and they are hard to get out of!
  • Avoid squatting, or sitting cross-legged and sit symmetrically in the chair.
  • Avoid balancing on one leg when putting on clothes, especially underwear and trousers and instead sit down to do this
  • Lean on one hip/leg when standing. Instead try putting your weight on both legs rather than on one.
  •  Twisting your body.
  • Lifting anything heavy.
  • Lots of walking or stair climbing. Take the stairs one step at a time.

Apparently the pain will eventually subside once the baby is delivered, but to make sure it doesn’t get worse I am going to have acupuncture now every week until I give birth. I swear by it and have missed my weekly sessions during my pregnancy.

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The Perfect Pregnancy Diet

Pregnancy is NOT the time to diet. It’s not the time to eat for three either. Eating for two is fine but your diet needs to be rich in whole foods rich in nutrients to create a healthy balanced plan to nourish you and your baby.

But what should you eat and how much? It’s easy to get it wrong, which is why I signed up for the Doll Curves Perfect Pregnancy Plan, especially as I hit my last trimester – the all important one, when my baby is growing bigger and getting ready to face the big wide world.

Founded by Celebrity Personal Trainers and Fitness Models, Sarah McLean and Lydia Rees, my Doll Curves plan gives me weekly nutrition advice to keep me healthy and well during my last trimester. It also reminds me that I only need to eat an extra 200 calories a day – the equivalent to a large banana!

Here is a round-up of what I’ve been eating over the last week and why it’s so good for me…

Breakfast

Banana Breakfast Smoothie
Blend ¼ gluten free oats, ½ cup of CO YO coconut yogurt, 1 banana, ½ cup Kara coconut milk, 2 teaspoons of honey, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
The benefits; Bananas are great at reducing fluid retention and swollen ankles – a common side effect in pregnancy. ‘They are also rich in potassium and the perfect energy booster,’ says Sarah.

Snack
120g Unsweetened Greek yogurt with blueberries
The benefits; Yogurt is full of ‘good bacteria’, which helps balance the good/bad bacteria within the body. ‘Yogurt is also rich in protein and calcium, which is good for you and baby’s growing bones,’ says Sarah.

Lunch
Annabel Karmel’s Chicken Pitta Pockets 
Chicken, ½ avocado and watercress pitta pockets with chopped tomatoes and a side salad.
The benefits; Avocados are loaded with folic acid, vital for forming your baby’s brain and nervous system, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which can help your baby’s tissue and brain grow. Watercress can also help aid digestion, while the protein in chicken will help every cell in your baby’s body to grow and develop.

Snack
Hummus on organic unsalted rice cakes with chopped vegetables and 20g unsalted almonds, brazil nuts or walnuts.
The benefits; Raw vegetables will keep your immune system strong and the unsalted rice cakes with hummus are a great source of slow release carbohydrates and protein.

Dinner
50g wild rice with ½ cup streamed green vegetable and Annabel Karmel Salmon with tomato salsa
The benefits; ‘Wild rice is rich in fibre and has an excellent effect on the gut wall,’ says Sarah. News has it that women who eat oily fish, like salmon during pregnancy are also more likely to have brainy and sociable children. Just make sure you don’t have it more than twice a week.

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My First Trimester Workout

Although, I’m in my second trimester now, I’m aware that I never shared my workout with you during my first Trimester.

Now, this was a strange time for me because some days I woke up incredibly tired and sick that I had to say in bed, and other days I just thought, do you know what the gym will probably make me feel better. Mostly it did, but there was times when I caught myself running to the toilets mid-workout, esecaily if my blood sugar levels got too low. The trick was to eat before my morning workouts – which I have never done in my life, but this definately helped the sickness.

Warm up
I always warmed up with;

Glute bridges with knee squeeze to engage my glutes, inner thighs and core.
x 15 reps
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Bird dogs to engage my core and back.
x 20
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Potty Squats to work my thighs, glutes, hamstrings, core and upper back
x 20 reps
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I then moved on to my main workout which consisted of an upper body and lower body circuit.

Lower body (I love working my lower body) was; 
Resistance band Tube Walking
X 60 seconds (10 to the right, then switch to the left)
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Exercise Ball Squats with inner thigh squeeze
x 60 seconds
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Walking Lunges
x 60 seconds
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I did this lower body circuit three times before moving onto my upper body circuit.

Box Press Ups
x 15 reps
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Single Arm Rows
x 15 each arm
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Lateral Raises
x 15
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Again I did this circuit three times before doing 20 minutes of uphill walking or cardio on the bike or cross trainer.

To finish my workout I did Side planks x 30 seconds on each side with a leg raise. 
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Before embarking on any fitness plan during pregnancy PLEASE, PLEASE don’t forget to get the all clear from your doctor and midwife, drink enough water, make sure you don’t over-heat and don’t let your heart rate go too high. You should be able to hold a conversation comfortably!

Using my qualifications, I can also help devise a workout to meet your goals. These moves suit my body and I have been woking out for years, and years. What ever you do, listen to your body and don’t do anything that feels uncomfortable!

 

Swim – Your Bump Will Love It…..

Although I’m not usually a fan, (I like the dry!) I’ve found that swimming is a relaxing, invigorating exercise when pregnant. It’s low-impact, and keeps pregnant women healthy without putting strain on the joints or legs.

One thing I have had to get over is how I look in a swim suit. All my old bikini’s look ridiculous with a bump and my tankini doesn’t quite cover it so I’ve had to find a good-fitting, comfortable swimsuit to wear that doesn’t offend anyone!

One tankini I have fallen in love with is from the Anita Maternity Swimwear range.

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The pretty maternity two-piece has adjustable straps, a supportive and padded bust area and ruching around the tummy. It comes in lots of colours too.

Now, not being quite confident with my expanding chest, I did however find that the design was pretty low cut, but thats fine because I wore a supportive halter neck sports bra underneath. There’s nothing worse than keep having to re-cover and re-adjust yourself mid-stroke. This just gave me that extra security and once in the water no-one would know any different.

So what do I do in the pool – except from swimming? Well after speaking to a coach at my pool, I’ve been doing pool running and breast stroke but stopped doing the front crawl.

Unlike the crawl, breaststroke doesn’t require the torso to twist, which can be both uncomfortable and harmful to the back. Also, as pregnancy often drives the shoulders and spine to round, and pushes the pelvis out of position, breaststroke can help counteract this, as it gently encourages the body to remain properly aligned.

As for backstroke – my favourite – the jury is still out.
As we know, after the first trimester, women are advised not to lie on their backs for fear that the pressure of gravity will compress a major vein in the chest and impede blood flow. Some experts advise pregnant women against doing the backstroke for this reason. However, the water can minimises the effect of gravity on your stomach, so you should safely be able to carry on doing backstroke while pregnant. All I suggest is that you keep an eye on this as your bump grows and stop at the first sign of discomfort or dizziness.
Enjoy the water ladies – I know your bump will. It feels so good for it to be supported – and hidden under the water, well away from those impending eyes as you lift weights in the gym. This is time for just you, your bump and the water.

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Protect Your Assets with the right sports bra

It’s not only your belly that grows during pregnancy. Your boobs grow too. Annoyingly none of my sports bras fit anymore. I’ve never felt so womanly!

So I called in a helping hand from Clare Robertson, Panache sports bra designer.

According to Clare “it is especially important to be fitted correctly when looking for a sports bra whilst pregnant.
Most sports bras are unwired, which would be more comfortable and safer than a wired bra that doesn’t fit correctly. But a correctly fitted wired sports bra would give more support for the heavier busted woman. It is always important that the wire sits behind the breast tissue and not on it, especially when pregnant.”

Now, I know everyone is different, but Clare reckons most pregnant women go up at least one band size and 2 cup sizes – but don’t guess this when looking for an effective sports bra go and be sure to go and get expertly fitted periodically throughout  your pregnancy.
Now thankfully I’m fully stocked with some comfy bras that should see me through my pregnancy including The Panache Sports bra (£35).
Now looking slightly larger than what I’m used to, I found this bra really supportive and comfortable. I liked the adjustable straps which allowed me to wear racer back tops and normal strappy tops while still keeping me supported.
It wasn’t bulky either so when I was having an especially fat day, I could wear under normal clothes for added support and re-assurance. I also loved the colourways – although this one below isn’t available until September.
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Another of my favourites was the Moving Comfort Juno Bra ( from £24). Admittedly it isn’t as supportive and structured as the Panache Bra BUT it was uber comfortable and felt more relaxed, which made it perfect for a yoga or stretching session. It gave me a nice shape too.
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So there we have it. A few of the best Sports Bras to wear when pregnant and exercising.
I’ve never been used to having boobs (or a bump for that matter), so these have been life savers for me – and I”m confident that they will protect me until the baby is here and until my body returns to its normal shape.
One thing I’ve learnt over the last few months is don’t fight it ladies – go with the flow and enjoy the ride and all the body changes pregnancy brings. It might be the only time in your life that you have bigger and perkier breasts for free!

Pregnancy Yoga

Tonight I’m off to my first pregnancy yoga class as recommended by the lovely Tegan Haining at Bodyism. She suggested it would be a good way to connect with my body and baby and help stretch out any kinks caused by my growing bump, so I listened and I’m all signed up and ready to go.

The class is especially aimed for pregnant women, which can help correct any posture problems as well as help to boost circulation and help with fluid retention. I’m also hoping it will help me to relax a little and concentrate on my breathing.

Here are a few key pieces of kit that I will be taking and wearing to my first yoga class. I’ve been to a few in the past so I’m hoping that I will make these a regular thing and meet some other expecting mums in the area too.

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My TLC Sport Figure Firming Leggings 

These leggings are super supportive and not see through in any way – which is great for the person doing yoga behind me! They also have a flattering fold down waist band which supports and moves with my ickle bump and isn’t restrictive in any way. (www.tlcsport.co.uk)

My Liforme Yoga Mat
This well cushioned, ultra grippy yoga mat is a few inches wider and longer than regular yoga mats making it handy for us women carrying a few extra pounds. It’s also PVC-free so it doesn’t contain any nasty ‘heavy metals’ and has markings on it so you can check your alignment during your poses.

I will of course also be armed with a big water bottle to keep me hydrated throughout the session, a towel and a piece of fruit incase I need to raise my blood sugar levels during or after the class.

I’ll give you a full verdict of the class soon – has anyone else tried yoga when pregnant?

 

Why use a heart rate monitor when pregnant

One of piece of kit that I can’t live without when in the gym is my Polar Heart Rate Monitor. 

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It gives me instant feedback so I can see how hard I am really working during each session.

Obviously being pregnant means I CAN’T go all out in the gym. I need to be look after number one – my baby – and researchers suggest that prolonged intense exercise can reduce blood supply to the placenta.

My level 3 Award in Designing Pre and Post-Natal Exercise Programmes stats that exercise intensity should be monitored and you should be working around 60-80% of peak aerobic capacity. So if you are;

Less than 20 years old – you should be aiming to workout out at around
140-155 beats per minute (bpm). 

If you are 20-29 years old – you should be aiming to work keep your heart rate between 135-150 bpm
and
30-39 years out between 130-145 bpm.

If you don’t want to invest in a heart rate monitor you can also use the ‘talk test’ to monitor your intensity. If you breathless while speaking when exercising, then reduce the intensity. As a rule of thumb you should be able to hold a conversation without having to stop and gasp for air!

I tend to keep my heart rate around 140 BPM this feels comfortable for me and re-assutring that once I return to exercise fully once the baby is here I won’t be TOO unfit. I think!

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Exercising during your First Trimester – 0-12 weeks

Finding out I was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life. But deep down I wasn’t looking forward to expanding. My body is my work and I sort of felt like I’d be losing my identity. I’m a real gym bunny!

I wasn’t going to be silly though and restrict my calories or go mad in the gym. A healthy bump equals a healthy baby after all.

I popped into see Gideon at KX gym, who gave me a safe exercise programme to follow (I will share this in a later post). It was here that I also decided I wanted to do my pre-natal exercise course too. If I was going to carry on working out then I wanted to know that I was doing it safely & effectively.

During the first trimester lots of changes are happening.

Firstly, your blood vessels increase dramatically but there isn’t enough blood to fill them, which causes something called Vascular Underfill. This is why people tend to feel sick, dizzy and tired. Their blood pressure will also drop.

I also noticed that my heart rate was high. I always wear my Polar FT60 when working out and straight away noticed that my HR was 10-15 Beats per minute higher than normal. This is basically to accommodate the bigger blood vessels, which don’t have enough blood in them so your heart has to work extra hard to pump this blood through these expanded vessels.

Don’t worry there are some benefits! The excess progesterone pumping through the body is said to improve lung function! You may feel you are over-breathing though. I noticed this in the simplest of tasks like walking up the stairs. I felt so unfit! Don’t worry, you aren’t, it’s just your body adjusting.

Lastly increased insulin resistance (when your body’s cells cannot take in glucose so it ends up circulating round the blood stream and causes fat storage) can result in excess fat storage but as pregnant women we know and expect this. During the whole pregnancy you’re going to put on around 24 – 33 pounds, so there’s no hiding from weight gain!

So there you have it. These are all the things you need to look out for and be aware of when exercising during the First Trimester.

One other thing that is absolutely vital is that you make sure you don’t overheat when exercising. It can damage the baby and cause abnormalities.

I was so lucky that  I only had the odd day of extreme tiredness and sickness so didn’t miss too many sessions. Most importantIy I DID listen to my body and sleep in when I needed to or just stay at home and have a big nutritious breakfast. That is the secret when pregnant. You need to listen to what your body and baby is telling you and go with it.

Pregnancy most certainly isn’t the time to reach peak fitness or break records, it’s literally for maintaining what you already have and making your pregnancy and birth that little but easier.

Please contact me if you have any questions or need some advice – I’ve been through this trimester and come through the other side so will happily help others who need some support or advice.

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* Thank you to Premier Training International for allowing me to learn all about Pre & Post-natal exercise through their Award in Designing Pre & Post natal exercise programs course