GIRL GET FIT

Archive of ‘Weight Loss’ category

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?

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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:

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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

Part 3: Postnatal Nutrition with Esther Street

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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.

 

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

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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



Coconut Oil, The Ultimate Health Food…It Can Even Help You Lose Weight!

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Having spent time living in the tropics, I was privileged to observe countless creative uses of coconuts, where it has long been a primary ingredient in food, drink and cosmetics.  Recently, the coconut, and more specifically, coconut oil has made a resurgence in the West as a health food.

Coconut oil is derived from the meat (white part) of matured coconuts, which is the same source as coconut milk. The growing popularity of its many industrial and cosmetic uses have made it a valuable commodity in recent times.  It is solid at room temperature like butter. It is heat stable, making it suitable for cooking at high temperatures, and in my opinion has a wonderful tropical smell. It is slow to oxidise, and thus has a shelf life of approximately two years.

Whether unsaturated or saturated, the majority of fats and oils in our diet are composed of long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominantly of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and the effects of the MCFAs in coconut oil are distinctly different from the LCFAs found in other foods. This is important because our bodies respond to, and metabolise each fatty acid differently. It is the MCFAs found in coconut oil that makes it special because these fatty acids do not have a negative effect on cholesterol. In fact, they are known to lower the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis (accumulation of fat in the arteries). There are only few dietary sources of MCFAs in this world, and one of the best sources by far is coconut oil.

The liver and gall bladder do not need to digest MCFAs, so as a result, anyone with an impaired ability to digest fat, IBS symptoms or a removed gallbladder will benefit from coconut oil as this oil is easily digested. This digestion process provides instant energy. It increases metabolic rate as well as improving circulation. A study carried out in 2009, found that women who consumed 30 millilitres (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only lost weight, but actually lost abdominal fat. Knowing that abdominal fat is probably the hardest to shift, and is one of the biggest contributing factors to metabolic syndrome, surely it would be worth a try!

 

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Lauric Acid

A number of the health benefits from coconut oil are attributed to the presence of lauric acid. In the human body, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses and other microorganisms. It has an ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and virtually destroy them.

Monolaurin has many valuable uses and is effective for treating candida, and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. It also targets bacterial infections and viruses including measles, influenza, hepatitis C and even HIV. In the Philippines researchers are continuing to study the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS due to its strong anti-viral properties! In addition to this, being non-toxic, lauric acid is a great alternative to modern drugs that are typically prescribed for viruses as well as fungal and bacterial infections.

It has been widely observed that the consumption of coconut oil has the effect of boosting immunity and reducing the incidences of many diseases. Without lauric acid, the body cannot produce monolaurin. Breastmilk is one of the few other sources of lauric acid, helping to protect babies while their immune system develops.

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Some of the incredible uses and benefits of coconut oil

 1. Hair conditioning and dandruff remedy

Due to their small molecular structure, the fatty acids that make up coconut oil pass freely into the hair’s cell membrane. The oil is thus able to penetrate the hair’s shaft and bring about a deep conditioning effect from within whilst most other conditioners work from the outside, in.

Dandruff is a fungus on the scalp that causes the flaking of the skin. Regular massaging, of a teaspoon or two of coconut oil into the scalp can kill the fungus and eliminate dandruff, bringing relief. Because it can make the hair oily, try massaging into the scalp before bed, and leaving it in overnight. This can also give a really deep hair conditioning treatment, leaving hair ultra-shiny, after being washed out the next day!

2. Skin

Coconut oil can be used as an excellent skin treatment. It can penetrate deeply, moisturising and acting as a protective barrier against free radical and environmental damage. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily feeling, but makes the skin incredibly silky. Bonus! Coconut oil is busting with natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  Its ability to smooth the skin while infusing with anti-oxidants makes it a perfect anti-aging moisturizer. It also contains vitamin E, another antioxidant popular for hastening the recovery of skin abrasions, burns and other skin traumas. It can even be used as added sun protection, screening 20 per cent of the exposure to ultraviolet light.

Regularly rubbing it into your hands will stop them from getting dry, even in the winter. Adding a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil for scent is a great natural way of making your own, natural hand lotion.

3. Weight loss

As mentioned above, the medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil can speed up metabolism faster than long-chain fatty acids because they are easily digested and converted into energy. In fact, a study reported medium-chain fatty acids to be three times more effective in raising metabolism than long-chain fatty acids. This has led researchers to conclude that effective weight loss can be achieved by replacing long-chain fatty acids with medium-chain fatty acids.

4. Other cosmetic uses

- Using coconut oil in the shower as a shaving soap gives a smooth shave with no irritation. It’s best to rub on before getting in the shower and then shave in the shower. It also moisturises, leaving legs feeling silky soft!

- Coconut oil makes a great tropical smelling massage oil giving many of the above benefits to the skin!

- Believe it or not, coconut oil is an excellent eye-make up remover and has been reported to help lessen the appearance of wrinkles and help restore elasticity to the skin.

Other than the benefits of cooking with coconut oil, it can also be added to other foods such as smoothies, homemade mayo, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, porridge, and homemade snacks to create a wonderfully creamy texture and great taste. Due to its nutrient density, healthy fat content, and rich flavour it’s a great addition to lots of foods.

Here are a few more medical benefits:

  • Can help restore thyroid function
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Stabilises insulin
  • Enables absorption of fat soluble vitamins
  • Boosts immunity
  • Reduces joint and muscle inflammation
  • Believed to protect against cancer and HIV and other infectious diseases
  • Kills bacteria and parasites
  • Eases acid reflux, aids in proper bowel function
  • Lowers incidence of haemorrhoids
  • Heals and relieves intestinal problems
  • Soothes earaches
  • Deals with symptoms connected with prostate enlargement
  • Strengthens the liver and protects against degeneration
  • Reduces incidence of epileptic seizures
  • Eases neuropathies and itching from diabetes

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It is fascinating to note that in countries such as Thailand, local people eat high amounts of saturated fats, particularly, coconut oil, and on average have very low levels of disease.  Research by the World Health Organization showed that the people consuming a traditional diet in Thailand have less instance of heart disease and the lowest rates of cancer of all 50 countries involved in the study. Interestingly, diabetes is 10 times more frequent in the United States than in Thailand, despite (or perhaps because of) their high saturated fat consumption. Sadly in more developed areas of Thailand where there is a greater exposure to Western foods, containing higher amounts of refined sugar, metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease have dramatically risen.

According to the experts, an adult can consume 3 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil daily. This amount equates to the amount of MCFAs that a breastfeeding child would receive daily. There are no known side effects of coconut oil, however, if you are used to a low-fat diet, a common adverse reaction would be diarrhoea.

If you are not used to having coconut oil in your diet, it is best to start out with less, spreading out the consumption over the day and see how the body reacts before increasing to the recommended amount.

In coconut-producing countries, it is considered beneficial for pregnant and lactating women to consume coconut oil. Consuming coconut oil has been shown to increase lauric acid content in breast milk – great for baby’s health and immunity! Reassuringly, for those who don’t breastfeed, one of the ingredients in baby formula is coconut oil!

I hope this has given you information and inspiration about the use of this amazing, rejuvenating and healing oil!

Miri x

 



5 Great Reasons to get in the Shape of Your Life BEFORE Pregnancy!

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Generally I blog about all areas that concern post pregnancy mums. I like the focus to be on you and leave the baby advice to others! You are important and valuable and need care! I want to encourage you and offer advice in this particularly difficult period of life, and enable you to make a smooth and happy transition to being a mum. So I write about health, fitness, training, weight loss, diet, beauty, and fashion relating it all to post-pregnancy women.

Today, however, I want to write about getting in the shape of your life before pregnancy as this has great multiple advantages. I meet loads of women who are motivated to get in shape for their wedding day, to look good on photos, to impress the bridegroom and generally wow everyone in the room when they make the entrance! They use their wedding as an end-point to provide them with a goal or target to aim towards, as often, getting in shape is something they’ve wanted to do for ages. In contrast, I don’t meet many women who are getting in shape to get pregnant…arguably a more life changing change! It’s not talked about much, but it can be really beneficial and here’s why.

1. Less physically challenging pregnancy

When you’re fitter everything feels easier. You’re stronger, more mobile and recover quicker from physically demanding tasks. Daily life is full of physical activities such as shopping, working, walking, doing household chores and errands. All these things will become so much more physically demanding when you are pregnant, and if you are overweight, unfit and pregnant then these tasks will really become quite difficult for you. As you get bigger in pregnancy, it’s pretty exhausting. You’re carrying more weight, your lungs work harder, and perhaps you are not sleeping so well. So let’s not allow the extra-unwanted pounds make life even tougher than necessary. Don’t battle against the extra weight of a baby and against your extra unnecessary weight and lack of fitness. Don’t just survive but thrive! The fitter you are, the best chance you have of coping well with the physical demands of pregnant life!

2. Physically easier to get back in shape afterwards

If you haven’t exercised much before, getting back into shape after having a baby may seem like a tough thing to do. If you’ve been fit and your body has been accustomed to exercise pre-pregnancy and during your pregnancy, it’s going to be a lot easier to get these muscles functioning again. If you were fit before pregnancy, then you will have maintained a lot of that during pregnancy, so although you may feel totally different, you will be surprised how quickly you get back in shape. Five weeks after having my first child, I was back training with my Netball club, and played my first competitive match the following week. Did I have to work really hard to get fit again? Not really. I was in good shape before getting pregnant so with a bit of training afterwards, I was ready to go again!

3. Mentally easier to get back in shape afterwards.

If you have seen how amazing your body can be…you are more likely to want to get it back! If you have never seen your body looking lean and toned you will find it even more difficult to believe you could have an amazing body after having a baby and thus find motivating yourself pretty difficult. Most women have the desire to look good and regain a pre-pregnancy body, and for many it may be high on the priority list, but the actual process of getting back in shape brings fear and doubt. Is it possible? Will I be able to do it? If you’ve done it before, it’s always easier to do it again. You know what to expect and you have been disciplined. You have formed good habits of healthy eating and of regular activity. Psychologically it’s always easier to do something you’ve already done before. You know it’s possible. Doing something new or something for the first time is going to be more challenging and difficult.

4. Skin recovers better after pregnancy.

Quite simply, if the weight you put on during pregnancy is the only extra weight you have, your skin will be less stretched than it would have been. If you already carry extra weight and your skin is already stretched, then think how much further your skin is being stretched to adapt to pregnancy. The less stretched your skin has been, the better chances of a good skin recovery following birth.

5. Can increase the chance of getting pregnant.

Many people are unaware of the link between weight and conception. A healthy weight improves fertility! Therefore, getting in good shape can increase your chance of conception. A healthy diet of mostly fresh, unprocessed foods and limited refined sugars (honey and fruits are ok) accompanied by exercise is going to help you get pregnant. Nutrition will have a greater impact on weight loss than exercise, but exercise is vitally important for the health and the smooth functioning of many physiological processes, thus a combination of both is the best formula. Moreover, exercise and healthy eating can act as a de-stress mechanism, which in turn can also increase your chances of conception.

Why wait until after pregnancy?

Some people have the attitude that, “I’m gonna put on weight during pregnancy anyway, so I’m just going wait until after to get fit”. Error! Don’t go down that path! It will be harder to loose the extra weight after the birth of your baby. If the benefits of healthy eating and exercise are so clear, then why wait? Why lose out on quality of life, looking good, better sleep, better well-being, healthier skin, heart and lungs, stronger muscles and so on by procrastinating and waiting until a time when you’ll be more busy and when you are not the only person you need to look after!

Go for it…get in the shape of your life and enjoy all the benefits!

Have a happy Easter!

Miri x

Part 3: 4 Exercises to get in shape in no time!

If you’re looking for an effective way to get in great shape quickly, and burn considerable amounts of body fat, then this exercise cannot be excluded from any weight training programme. In my opinion, the squat is one of the most fundamental exercises for a number of reasons.

1. The movements of flexion and extension of the ankle, knee and hip joints are similar to daily activities such as standing up, walking, jogging, and jumping. Therefore, training the body in this movement is functional to daily life.

2. There are numerous muscles used in this exercise, and therefore it really is a whole body exercise. The quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, adductors (inside of thigh) and gluteus (bum!), the muscles of the lower body do most of the work in lifting the weight. In addition to this, the weight is held on the trapezius (below the neck), and the muscles of the trunk and lower back, also known as “core” muscles, are required to stabilise the upper body to effectively, correctly, and safely perform the movement.

3. A much greater amount of calories are burned by doing this exercise compared to many other exercises you could chose. The reason for this is that so many muscles are being used, as mentioned above. Not only are a large number of muscles used, but also the muscle groups that are used are large muscle groups like the quads, glutes and hamstrings. For example, an exercise like this burns far more calories than a bicep curl, which primarily works the biceps, which are a relatively small group of muscles.

4. Due to the fact that a number of large muscles groups are used, testosterone is released. Testosterone is an extremely effective fat burning hormone, which also helps boost energy and libido, and helps sharpen memory and mental focus. It can help keep bones strong too, which is extremely important for pre-menopausal women as bone density can deteriorate during menopause.

5. Finally, this exercise is effective at building lean muscle in the body, which is one of the biggest factors in returning to your pre-pregnancy body shape (or better!) and getting rid of that baby belly. Read my previous post “The Truth about Lifting Weights” to find out why you need to build muscle, and learn why building muscles does not mean getting “big”!

 

Exercise #3 – The Squat Mirisquat2

To perform the squat, place a barbell across your trapezius, hold the bar in your hands with a grip wider than shoulder width, and pull your elbows down and back. Stand up straight with your feet just wider than shoulder width apart with your feet pointing slightly outwards. Lift you head up so that you are looking straight ahead and stick your chest out. To start the movement, bend at the hips and knees and sit back so that the weight begins to transfer from the middle of your foot towards your heels as you go down. If you are able to maintain good form, you should try to achieve a deep squat position where your hips are lower than your knees. Maintaining good form is keeping a good flat back throughout the movement, with your chest up and head looking forwards at all times. To go back up, push your feet into the floor and extend your knees and hips, returning to a standing position.

Prescription

Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions if you are using weight or 2 sets of 20-30 repetitions if you are only using your bodyweight. Once this gets easy, move to 3 sets of 10 repetitions, making it challenging so that the last 3 repetitions of each set feels difficult.

If you are doing bodyweight squats, build up to 3-4 sets of 20-30 repetitions. To really get the benefits mentioned above, after the first 3-4 weeks of doing 10 repetitions, increase the weight and aim for 5 sets of 5 heavy repetitions. As with the other exercises, you should start by doing this 2 times per week and aim to hit a rhythm of maintaining this on a regular basis 2-3 times per week. You will notice it gets easier the 2nd or 3rd time but you’ll see drastic improvements after 6 weeks! If you have no barbell, but still would like to add weight to the squat, you can hold dumbbells with your hands by your side, or hold a medicine ball in your arms against your body.

 

I’d love to hear how you get on with this, so please leave me a comment.

Happy training!

Miri x