GIRL GET FIT

Download my book FREE today!

This book is currently #2 in Amazon’s Best Seller’s list for its category. By downloading it today you can help me reach the #1 spot!

Click on this link to download NOW!

The Happy, Healthy Mom is an excellent resource for all moms who are looking to get in shape, lose weight, learn about exercise, look after their skin, be happy, and so much more! The post-pregnancy period can be a tough time for many moms, but hopefully with the help of this book, you can turn this round and thrive!

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Further more, this book is completely FREE today. Please make the most of this amazing opportunity and download NOW!

Thanks for your support,

Miri xxx

Great resource for post-pregnancy fitness and health!

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I am really excited to announce the release of my first book, available here and also available through Amazon in all other countries for example amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr etc.

I have already had 7 five star reviews and over 135 downloads and it has only just been released!

The Happy Healthy Mom is a great resource for post-pregnancy fitness and health and gives:

  • Reassuring information as to what is happening to your body and how best to help recovery after birth
  • Precise advice for caring for skin and hair post baby
  • Practical tips as how to manage time and prioritise, following the dramatic change to parenthood
  • Life changing advice on nutrition – including what supplements could help with the present challenges of motherhood. Tips for healthy snacks.
  • LOADS of encouragement and advice as to the exercise and activity you can perform from the first day of motherhood through to regaining your full fitness. Included are pictures of the exercises you can perform at home with clear explanations. Also includes specific advice for those post C- Section.

Following the practical and realistic advice in this book, mums will find they feel they can make confident steps forward in aiding recovery, regaining their fitness and losing the baby weight. Rather than worrying about the changes to their body and struggling with the changes in life’s routine, mums will be loving their new life with their little one, confident in the knowledge they have gained and the encouragement they have received!

Even if you are not a new mum yourself, this would be an excellent gift for mums to be!

A paperback version will be available through the same link on Amazon very soon.

Please download and enjoy! If you love it, please leave a review.

Thanks!

Miri x

* Spellings are in American English as most of my audience are in North America

Post pregnancy fitness – why not try HIIT?

Circuit+Training+Exercises

Following the popularity of my last post, I wanted to look more closely at High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), of which Tabata is a part of. I also want to offer some more workout ideas that you can try. If you’re looking for some ideas to boost your post pregnancy fitness and to get you in shape fast, then this is probably for you.

HIIT can be any type of circuit training or interval training where you work at a high intensity for a period of time, followed by a rest. This can be done with bodyweight exercises or weights Alternatively it can be done using any form of cardiovascular exercise such as running, cycling or rowing.

It has however, very quickly become its own unique type of training which is synonymous with bursts of high intensity exercise lasting 30-40 seconds, followed by 15-20 seconds rest. This is then repeated for 10-12 exercises to form a block. Between blocks there is a larger rest period of up to 1-2 minutes, followed by the same block, or a different block of similar exercises.

How does HIIT work?

During a HIIT workout, your body isn’t able to get enough oxygen during the periods of hard exercise. You therefore accumulate a debt of oxygen that must be repaid post-workout in order to return to normal. As a result, your metabolism is elevated for a number of hours after the session, allowing you to continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours. This phenomenon is often referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Why should I try HIIT and what does it involve?

HITT is extremely effective for fat burning therefore you can quickly transform your body with this type of training. It’s also very time efficient as workouts typically last from 10-30 minutes, making it very accessible for busy mums.

Being interval based, it allows you to keep the workout intensity high while still maintaining form. When creating your own workouts, try to include complex movements that will challenge your entire body in a single exercise.

Due to the high intensity of the exercise, HIIT is extremely good for developing cardiovascular fitness, strengthening your heart and lungs. By incorporating running, cycling or rowing intervals on a machine in the gym, at home or outside you can really vary your workouts.

Since HIIT can be done using body weight exercises or weights, it can be used to improve strength too. As long as your form is good throughout, this kind of training is great for people who have suffered overuse injuries related to certain types of exercise. For example, if you have had lots of running or cycling based injuries due to the repetitive nature of the sport, HIIT can be great for you. By changing the exercise every 30 seconds or so, you are reducing the continual impact to a particular part of the body.

Here’s a couple of workout ideas to get you started:

1. Bike session (stationary bike):

5 minutes of warm-up at level 7 (on a bike with a maximum of 20 levels of resistance)
6 sets in 6 minutes, with each set consisting of:
40 second burst at 90% effort – level 12 to 16 (max of 20)
20 second rest at snails pace – level 5 (max of 20)
12 sets in 9 minutes, with each set consisting of:
30 second burst at 95%+ effort – level 14 to 20 (max of 20)
15 second rest at snails pace – level 5 (max of 20)
5 minutes of cool down at level 7 (max of 20)

2. Circuit session:

VictoriaRuns

For further HIIT workout ideas, have a look at my HIIT board on Pinterest.

‘Rise’ to the challenge of HIIT

Here are a few final tips to get you going with your HIIT workouts:

Make it Regular
Make it Intense
Make it Short
Make it Enjoyable

Drop me a line if you have any questions and above all, have fun!

Miri xx

Post pregnancy exercise – Tabata training!

 

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I’d like to introduce you to a type of training that I highly rate, and give you the reasons why you should try it. I rate this method so highly that I even did a Tabata session today…first thing on a Sunday morning! Tabata first came to prominence in 1996 when Professor Izumi Tabata of Japan published a study showing the efficacy of these methods of training.

It is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HITT), which lasts just 4 minutes and allegedly is as good as an hour of moderate jogging, an hour of moderate cycling, an hour of Zumba, or two hours of yoga!

So what’s there not to like about it? Well, you could say everything really! During these 4 minutes you push your heart rate up to a maximum and then basically tolerate the pain.

Tabata training involves you working for 20 seconds, followed by resting for 10 seconds. You then string together 8 of these cycles, and you have 4 minutes of flat-out exercise. And this is supposed to give you both aerobic and anaerobic exercise benefits.

The great thing about Tabata training is that you can design your own circuit with the exercises that you want to use. You can vary your circuits each time and develop 4 or 5 different ones that you like using. You can design some easier ones, and some which are more difficult.

It is important that you warm up well and perform some dynamic mobility and stretching exercises before you start. Make sure that everything is ready, that any equipment you’re going to use is in place, and that you have a list of exercises on a piece of paper so you don’t forget what’s next. When you’re in so much pain you may find you can’t think straight!

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Here’s a Tabata circuit that you can try. Remember, perform the exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then move to the next exercise. Keep doing this until you have worked down the whole list.

1. Backward lunge
2. Burpees
3. Star jumps
4. Press-ups
5. Mountain climbers
6. Squats
7. Push press
8. Skater jumps

Pure Tabata training is only one circuit lasting 4 minutes. However, you can repeat the same Tabata circuit or do a different one following the first one, but by doing this the emphasis changes. You won’t be working as hard, but you will be working for longer. Both methods work so see what you like best!

One word of caution. Make sure that each exercise is performed well and with good technique. One of the problems of going “all out” is that the quality of exercise can be lost and you could be putting yourself at risk by not doing things right. Just be careful. Additionally, although this is a great post pregnancy exercise tool, this kind of exercise is certainly not recommended for the first 6 weeks after having a baby. Make sure you have properly healed, and that you have spent several months doing low level exercises to re-build your base fitness before going mad with Tabata.

Just a quick reminder, you’re not just burning calories throughout this 4 minute workout. You’re spiking your metabolism to keep burning calories throughout the day!

Finally, don’t forget that you have to psyche yourself up! You’ve got to give it your all, push yourself, and really dig deep because it’s gonna hurt! So get the music playing, get the stopwatch ready, and off you go!

Miri xx

So Why is Consistency Key?

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The word consistency may provoke a yawn and the thought of boredom. Yet consistency really holds it’s worth. Read any book on exercise, or any article on getting fit and one of the key points is always consistency.

Many of us start out keen, full of enthusiasm and focus yet in a short while we lose that passion and motivation, even forgetting what it was that we were aiming for and why. Before you know it, you arrive back to square one (or in many cases, 1 step back from square 1!) As the winter draws in, motivation can fly out. Heading for the kitchen for a hot drink feels more inviting than heading out of the door to the gym. Relax on the sofa or follow your exercise DVD???

I want to get you back on track before you fall too far behind and feel helpless to re-start.

Improvement and change occur when you do things often. Frequently stopping and starting kills any momentum, and with it success. You must find ways to stay in the game. Understanding why consistency is important and how to be consistent, will help you keep on track and committed to your goals.

• Creating a workout plan, and staying committed to it will help you achieve higher fitness goals. When creating your plan make sure you include things that you know you will enjoy doing on a regular basis. Ideally you should be looking to exercise 3-4 times a week, so make sure your plan is both fun and achievable. There needs to be a mixture of intensities and activities in your weekly plan. If every session is Pilates, no matter how difficult it may seem, it is not going to have the same effect as a weight training session. Likewise, if every session is a high intensity CrossFit class, then you may get to the end of the week feeling exhausted and feel unable to do two back-to-back weeks the same. This leads to inconsistency!

• To be consistent you also need to be realistic about the amount of time you can devote to your workout plan. Start with less sessions per week, and as you prove consistency, over time, you can add in more sessions.

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• Know your plan. Write your schedule down on paper and put it somewhere where you will see it. Set reminders on your Smartphone, or create some way of scheduling it into your day. This will help you remember to actually do it!

• Working with consistency is important for your physical health. Doing one session every two weeks will only leave you feeling sore and exhausted. These sporadic outbursts of intense exercise are extremely stressful for your body. To achieve optimal results, you need to build on your fitness and strength levels week-in, week-out to see any marked improvements. This way your muscles, tendons and ligaments adjust to this gradual increase in intensity, leaving you less likely to get injured or rundown.

• Consistent workouts are good for your energy levels and mood. When you workout, your body releases endorphins that leave you feeling positive. Leaving numerous days between exercise sessions can leave your body depleted of these feel good chemicals, allowing stress and low energy levels to kick in. Staying consistent will improve your mood and increase your day-to-day levels of energy.

• Skipping too many days of exercise effects your motivation and confidence. The longer the gap you leave, the less likely you are to feel like exercising. When you’re in a routine with a good rhythm, it seems easier to stay en route. Research has shown that exercisers can bathe in the feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction after an exercise session for a day or two afterwards. However, as time passes, so do these feelings, leading to waning enthusiasm.

• To see marked improvement and progress, you need consistency. Exercising sporadically lowers the chance of progress, leaving you feeling like a non-achiever. Hence many people desperate to lose weight or get fit go from year to year without ever achieving their goal. They make some progress, but then lose consistency. When they re-start, they are back to where they were before.

• Have a least one of your sessions during the week where you exercise with someone else. Have a friend come round to the house and do an exercise DVD together. Create a mini circuit in the house or garden that you can do together. Meet a friend for a power walk in the park with your pushchairs, doing bursts of intervals where you walk hard for 1 min and walk at a normal pace for 1 minute. If you make a meeting time and point you can’t opt out at the last minute!

Happy consistent training!

Miri xx

Fuel your body, get it right for you and your baby!

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Welcome to the final part in this extremely popular series of questions and answers on Postnatal Nutrition with Esther Street. Here, Esther reveals vital insights into how to optimise breastfeeding. Her honest and practical, yet current and well researched content has been a great help to many of our readers.

Are there any foods you would recommend that can aid breastfeeding? Is there anything nutritionally that mums can do to boost their milk supply?

This is a huge topic and there have been some excellent books written about nutrition and breast feeding. For those of you who are particularly interested I would recommend “Mother Food” by Hilary Jacobson for just about everything there is to know. For the rest of you, here are a few things to include in your diet to help you:

• Phytoestrogens – are thought to boost lactation by stimulating the growth of milk-glands in the breast. Oats, millet, barley, rice, chickpeas, peas, lentils, green beans and quinoa are all rich in phytoestrogens. Soaking or sprouting the grains makes them more digestible, I often soak my muesli or oats overnight.
• Saponins – can influence the body’s ability to make lactation hormones. Foods rich in saponins include oats, asparagus, chickpeas and potatoes with the skin on.
• Serotonin – helps your body to relax and feel good which is essential for lactation. Your body makes serotonin from tryptophan. Great sources of tryptophan are almonds, cashews, pecans, sesame and flax seeds.
• Natural sedatives – certain foods have a sedating effect which increases prolactin in your body increasing the production of breast milk. Good foods to eat are lettuce, onion, fennel and potato.
• Oils and fats – are essential for quality and quantity of breast milk. Good oils are cold-pressed nut and seed oils (keep them in the fridge), butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Some people say that taking 3-4tbsp of coconut oil per day and supplementing vitamin D boosts milk supply. Worth a try?

There are a few things to be aware of which can reduce milk production:

• Dieting and calorie restriction – can reduce the quantity and nutritional content of a mother’s milk. Sudden weight loss may also cause toxins to be released into the breast-milk. Breastfeeding on the other hand can help to get rid of fat deposits in your body.
• Caffeine – foods such as chocolate, tea and coffee may reduce milk supply by inhibiting the let-down reflex and causing the constriction of capillaries in the breast.
• Herbs – parsley, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, spearmint and lemon balm may reduce the supply of breast-milk.
• Vitamin C – excessive amounts of vitamin C either as supplements or eating lots of citrus fruits may reduce milk supply
• Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – over 200mg a day may reduce milk supply.
• Bananas, apples and avocados – while they are great foods to eat in moderation, if eaten in excess they may inhibit milk production in some women.
• Aspartame – a common sweetener often found in soft drinks, chewing gum, ‘low sugar’ foods and chewable supplements may reduce milk supply
• Over-hydration – while mothers are encouraged to drink plenty while breastfeeding since you do need slightly more hydration, drinking too much may actually reduce your milk supply. The key is to drink when you are thirsty and stop when your thirst is quenched. For the same reasons, mothers who have an IV drip during labour can have initial challenges with breastfeeding. If this is the case, see a breastfeeding counsellor for help.

It is vital to eat a varied diet of natural organic foods, this will increase the quality of your breast-milk which will help your baby and help your body too. It is a breastfeeding myth that you need to drink milk to make milk. Cows fed a diet of grass, dandelions and nettles produce rich and creamy milk. While I’m not in any way saying that we are cows, this does underline the importance of fresh food! As well as eating healthily, a study has also shown that women who exercised regularly had an increased supply of breast-milk. What a great reason to get out for a walk with your baby!

I hope these tips have inspired you to eat well, get fit and recover well. Healthy living is not about diets but about positive changes to the way you eat which will set a great example to your children as they grow. Every summer my children and I choose different fresh fruits and vegetables and learn together how to cook and eat them. Enjoy trying new foods and most of all have fun!


rsz_esther_street_portrait2Esther Street is a nutritional therapist who works both in the UK and internationally.  She lives in England with her husband and two kids who are just as excited about delicious, healthy food as she is.

 

 

 

 

 

This article is not intended as medical advice, just some notes from my personal experience of having babies myself and helping others who have had babies. The advice is not intended to replace advice from your doctor so please contact your healthcare provider with specific questions or issues.

Part 3: Postnatal Nutrition with Esther Street

women on scales

Let’s be honest, women want to lose their baby weight. We just need to know the healthiest way to do it! Here is more expert advice for post pregnant women from nutritionist Esther Street!
We have already published two articles from Esther and have received an incredible response from readers around the world. Here is the third question along with her reply, with further insightful and practical advice.

What are your top three tips for anyone wanting to get back to their pre-baby weight in a healthy way?

• Don’t lose weight too quickly – focus on recovery and health rather than weight loss. It takes 9 months to grow a baby and can take 9 months to a year to recover and build up your nutritional reserves again. Rapid weight loss can affect your metabolism leading to long term weight gain. Focusing on regaining your health and eating well not only helps set a good example for your baby as they wean and start to eat meals but helps you to get back to a healthy weight in a sensible way. Your body will be different after having a baby so focus on learning to love your new body and keep it healthy and strong.
 
• Eat REAL food not FAKE food – don’t go on any crazy diets – low fat, low carb, low calorie etc. Your postnatal body needs real food. By this I mean no processed food, ready meals, instant meals, jars with a huge list of ingredients which you don’t understand. This doesn’t need to be time consuming. My best friends were my organic vegetable box and my slow cooker. This cut down shopping time and cooking time and meant that I could come back after a day filled with toddler groups, trips to the park, school runs and ballet classes (with my older child) etc and sit straight down to a delicious home cooked meal. The more simple and ‘real’ your food is, the easier it is for your baby to move on to what you eat which then cuts down the separate meals you have to cook for them.
 
• Sit down at a table to eat – this prevents mindless snacking on something you can grab instantly which is most likely unhealthy and you won’t remember eating or tasting it a minute after you have eaten it. It also helps your digestion to be more efficient and get the best out of your food. It sets a good example to your child about mealtimes being relaxed, social and purposeful times to enjoy good food. Generally by always sitting down to eat you end up eating less but enjoying food more.

 


rsz_esther_street_portrait2Esther Street is a nutritional therapist who works both in the UK and internationally.  She lives in England with her husband and two kids who are just as excited about delicious, healthy food as she is.

 

 

 

 

 

This article is not intended as medical advice, just some notes from my personal experience of having babies myself and helping others who have had babies. The advice is not intended to replace advice from your doctor so please contact your healthcare provider with specific questions or issues.

 

Part 2: Postnatal Nutrition with Esther Street

Healthy-hairWelcome to Part 2 of the series on Postnatal Nutrition where expert Nutritionist Esther Street answers questions for our readers.

2. Following pregnancy, many women suffer problems with their skin and hair. Are there any supplements that specifically help skin and hair after pregnancy?

When you are pregnant you lose less hair because of higher oestrogen levels in your body. You may enjoy 9 months of thicker hair that looks like you model for a shampoo advert. Unfortunately, 3-6 months after your baby is born and your oestrogen levels fall, some hair loss is to be expected. Any extra hair loss can be worrying but don’t panic this usually stops by the time your baby is 1 year old. For a small proportion of women, their hair becomes extremely thin and patchy and further help is needed.

In addition to the supplements mentioned previously, my top tips to help prevent hair loss are:
• Biotin – for healthy skin, strong nails and healthy hair experts advise supplementing up to 3000mcg of biotin daily (this can safely be taken when breastfeeding). When taken by breastfeeding mothers, biotin may also reduce cradle cap in babies. Biotin rich foods are cheese, cauliflour, mushrooms, peanuts, walnuts and wholegrain rice.
• Fruit and vegetables – provide antioxidant protection for hair follicles.
• Vitamin E – for antioxidant protection eat nuts and seeds, whole grains, avocados, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, tomatoes, and berries.
• Ground flaxseeds – good for healthy hair, skin and hormones.
• Iodine – for a healthy thyroid. Thyroid problems are common after birth and can contribute to hair loss and poor skin condition among other things. Seaweed, especially kelp is a good source. If you suspect a thyroid problem, talk to your doctor.
• Too much sugar – high sugar consumption is linked to fluctuating hormone levels which may accelerate hair loss. We all know that we should cut down on sugar but it can be more difficult in the early months after your baby is born. Don’t reach for a biscuit every time you need energy. Don’t substitute with ‘sugar free’ foods, these are often loaded in sweeteners some of which have been associated with thinning hair. Instead be prepared with healthy snacks like the ones I listed previously.
• Rapid weight loss (over 1lb per week) – may cause hair loss, try to focus on recovery and health rather than weight loss.
• Hair products – try not to use too many products on your hair and use a natural, organic, pH balanced shampoo.

Even though it is easier said than done, ‘do not stress’! Stress can worsen hair loss and contribute to hormonal chaos. Try to relax and give it time. If you need extra help see a doctor or your nutritionist. Everyone is different and needs a tailor made solution which works for them.


rsz_esther_street_portrait2Esther Street is a nutritional therapist who works both in the UK and internationally.  She lives in England with her husband and two kids who are just as excited about delicious, healthy food as she is.

 

 

 

This article is not intended as medical advice, just some notes from my personal experience of having babies myself and helping others who have had babies. The advice is not intended to replace advice from your doctor so please contact your healthcare provider with specific questions or issues.

 

Part 1: Postnatal Nutrition with Esther Street

Welcome to Part 1 of a 4 part series on Postnatal Nutrition where Nutrition expert Esther Street answers 4 questions exclusively for girlgetfit.org. In this series Esther presents some excellent and up to date advice as well as practical tips on meals, snacks and how best to look after your body by feeding it the right food.

What types of food or meals can you recommend for soon after delivery to help with recovery?

Preparation for recovery begins right back before pregnancy begins.  Eating a healthy diet before conception builds up nutrient reserves for you and your growing baby. Continuing to eat healthily during pregnancy is essential for your postnatal recovery and breastfeeding as well as for your baby’s growth and development.  Your baby receives its nutrition not only from what you eat but also from your body’s reserves so if you are not eating right before and during pregnancy, your body may suffer.  The good news is you can prepare your body for a speedy recovery well in advance of the baby arriving before life gets a whole lot busier.  Once the baby arrives there is still plenty you can do to help your body recover well, here are a few of my top tips:

The key is ‘keep it simple and avoid processed junk’!  Food should be fresh, seasonal and organic if possible.  Eat a wide range of foods to get a wide range of nutrients.

Stock up the freezer before labour with nutritious, home-cooked meals and have a collection of quick, healthy recipes to hand for you or someone offering to cook for you.  If you have an extended hospital stay, why not ask friends to in bring salads and fruit.

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Here are a few simple meals:

  • salmon, new potatoes, organic crème fraiche with fresh watercress
  • wholegrain pasta, pesto, organic chicken and broccoli
  • wholegrain rice, omelette and vegetables lightly stir-fried in coconut oil
  • baked sweet potatoes, hummus and salad 

 

I always like to have plenty of healthy snacks on hand too, here are a few of my favourites:

  • sourdough ryebread with nut butter and banana
  • fruit and organic cheese e.g. cheddar and grapes, cream cheese and apple slices
  • wholemeal pitta and hummus
  • veggies such as carrots, peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sugar snaps etc
  • dried fruit, nuts and seeds (apricots are high in iron, figs high in digestive enzymes, prunes great for reducing constipation)
  • oatcakes (these come in all different flavours) and goat’s cheese
  • boiled eggs (full of nutrients for healing and recovery, brain function and energy)
  • olives
  • red bell pepper dipped in guacamole
  • handful of strawberries and 2 squares of dark chocolate
  • sliced tomato sprinkled with feta
  • flaked coconut and dates
  • raspberries or honey and natural greek yoghurt

Eating healthy food is the best way to get all the nutrients your body needs. However, before, during and after pregnancy, your body needs extra help.  When you have a diet of hospital food (need I say more!) or are exhausted and barely have energy to eat, let alone prepare a healthy meal, your body needs good quality supplements to help boost recovery.

Buy a couple of pill organisers for your hospital bag and to keep at home.  This helps you remember which supplements you have taken when all your days and nights tend to blur into one!  

pill organizer

These are the supplements I would recommend:

  • A good quality multivitamin and mineral (if you are breastfeeding make sure it is recommended for this).  You can keep taking your prenatal vitamins but make sure they include iron (wound healing, building up reserves following any blood loss, protection against infection), calcium (for bone strength) and zinc (wound healing, to help lower the effects of postnatal depression, healthy hormones).  I love Revital Essence by Zita West which is especially developed for postnatal recovery and breastfeeding.
  • 1000mg Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – this is great for wound healing, iron absorption, skin repair and helping prevent postnatal depression and infection. 
  • Fish oils – may help healing and skin repair, lower inflammation, improve sleep, boost energy, reduce afterbirth pains, nourish your brain (most mum’s suffer from ‘mummy brain’ at some point!) and lower the chances of post natal depression.  My favourite fish oil is Vegepa E-EPA 70 by Igennus (https://shop.igennus.com/  code STREET25 for 25% discount). 
  • Vitamin D3 –  may decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term delivery and high blood pressure for the mother and may decrease the risk of asthma, low birth weight and heart disease for the baby.  It is recommended that you take a minimum of 400iu, but many experts recommend up to 4000iu both during and after pregnancy.
  • Glutamine – may help with the healing of soft tissue, especially following a caesarean (as long as you have no liver problems). As a supplement for the first 2 weeks and then eat glutamine rich foods (eggs, beef, chicken, yoghurt, milk, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, spinach, cabbage).
  • Vitamin E oil – may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars (once the wound has healed) and improve skin condition.  Pierce a capsule with a pin and rub the oil directly onto the skin. 
  • Coconut oil – may help to improve your skin after birth. I love Coconoil organic coconut oil as it smells great and tastes great too.

 


rsz_esther_street_portrait2Esther Street is a nutritional therapist who works both in the UK and internationally.  She lives in England with her husband and two kids who are just as excited about delicious, healthy food as she is.

 

 

 

This article is not intended as medical advice, just some notes from my personal experience of having babies myself and helping others who have had babies. The advice is not intended to replace advice from your doctor so please contact your healthcare provider with specific questions or issues.

 

Love training, but don’t want big muscles??

bodypumpgirl
I have decided to write this post in response to a question from a friend of mine. She is concerned that she is gaining size on her legs and butt through the exercise she is doing, and doesn’t really want to. There are different types of exercise that can cause you to see an increase in size and it can be pretty complicated to give a straight answer. So I am going to try to be as clear as possible without skirting round the issues. I have to give credit (or blame!) to my husband, Pete, who is a strength and conditioning coach for elite athletes, for a lot of the information in this article. He is more of an expert than me when it comes to the intricacies of weight training!

First and foremost, there are a number of factors that can impact how you respond to exercise and training. These include:

  • The type of exercise you currently do
  • The volume of exercise you do (how much of it)
  • Your somatotype (this is your natural build. Training can impact and change this, although a tendency remains towards one particular body type)
  • Whether you are a novice, intermediate or advanced trainer
  • Your age
  • Your sex
  • Your exercise history (the types of sports or exercise that you have done in the past)
  • Your injury history
  • Your nutrition

I am not going to look at all of these variables, but I will present a few key ideas that will include a number of them.

Figure 1. and figure 2. show the difference in responses to weight training between novice trainers and advanced, well-trained individuals. When novice trainers train with heavy weights but low repetitions, they generally lose weight and therefore the girth of their legs decrease. This is due to the high calorie burning effect of this type of exercise. When advanced trainers train with heavy weights and low repetitions, however, they generally gain a bit of muscle mass slowly over time. This is because they are lifting relatively heavier weights than novice trainers (because they are stronger), and they have already experienced the early adaptations that novices experience, and therefore, put simply, growth is the next adaptation to happen. One way to slow down this growth is to keep the volume of heavy lifting low. This means that you still lift heavy for few repetitions, however, you will not do multiple sets. The total amount of work done will be less. If you wish to continue lifting heavy for the strength gains, you should do something like 3 sets of 3 repetitions instead of 5 sets of 5 repetitions for example. That way you can keep the load high but the volume low.

Lifting moderately heavy weights for 10-15 repetitions is the best way to get muscle growth. These are the typical parameters used by body builders. The reason you get maximum growth in this rep range, is that the muscle is under tension for a long period of time, with the addition of a heavy load. This means that the maximum amount of damage is done, and if you recover properly, the maximum amount of growth occurs. “Time under tension” is one of the keys for muscle growth. Therefore this is the type of training to avoid if you do not desire size increase.

When lifting light weights for high repetitions, you do not experience the same physical adaptations of muscle growth despite the fact that the muscle is under tension for a long time. The reason is that the weight is not high enough to cause a large enough stimulus for growth. Less damage is done with a lighter weight, so less growth occurs as a result. The time under tension may be high, but the light weight means the degree of tension is much lower.

NoviceTrainerFigure 1. 

 

AdvancedTrainer

Figure 2. 

 

Nutrition plays a key role in muscle growth too. By reducing your overall calorie intake, you will get less growth as a result of training. Be aware though, that training at a high volume and high intensity, on a low calorie diet is not sustainable for long. When bodybuilders train on a reduced calorie diet in their pre-competition “cutting” phase, they are not able to train at the same intensities or with the same volumes as when they are feeding well in a growth phase. If you are smart with your nutrition and training, however, you will be able to find a balance where you can train hard and lift quite heavy, and still not grow. Make note, cutting calories does not necessarily mean cutting down on volume of food. By making smart choices, and eating plenty of vegetables, you can still reduce your amount of calories without going hungry.

If you are a relatively advanced trainer, like my friend who asked the question, perhaps you still want to lift weights but do not want to continue to see significant muscle in your thighs and butt (or anywhere!) you have a few options:

  1. Lift light weights for high repetitions. That way, the exercise becomes more aerobic, with the weight not being high enough to stimulate growth
  2. Lift heavy weights but keep the volume low. This can either mean reducing the number of sets performed in a session (as stated above), or keeping the number of sessions per week low. If you limit yourself to 1 session of heavy lifting a week, to maintain strength, and your other exercise sessions are non weight training activities, the stimulus from the one heavy session, compared to the stimulus from the multiple other sessions of different activities will not be high enough to elicit a huge amount of muscle growth. The thing you do the most of, will have the biggest effect. So if you do 1 weight training session, and 4 other sessions, the other 4 sessions with have a greater effect on your physical adaptation than the 1 weight training session.
  3. Lift heavy but learn to manipulate your diet to minimise the amount of growth through calorie reduction, timings of meals, and macronutrient manipulation.

I hope you find this useful. Keep trying new things but most of all, enjoy your training! Give me a shout if you have any questions :)

Miri xx