New Website

Hello subscribers and interested people!

Bump & Baby Body has now been re-named Fit Mums Devon, and is officially launching in January 2014.

The website is nearly finished and there is a new logo and January looks set to be very exciting, with a lot of free information and health challenges on offer.  The Facebook page is already live here.

If you want to stay in touch and read the blog still, you can access it here.

Keep Healthy and Happy this winter!

Kate

Fit Mums Devon

Scrubadubdub

 

So, if you are/were anything like me during pregnancy and beyond, you suddenly became aware of all of the chemicals that you put in or on your body in the form of foodstuffs, household cleaning products and beauty products.

Whilst trying to get pregnant I cut out as many of the typical chemical carriers as possible and once I found out that I was pregnant, changed my beauty regime radically to ensure that what I was putting on my skin or hair (and thus into my system) was as safe as possible.  Having always loved make-up and beauty products this was hard for me, as many of the more natural products did not produce the same flawless effects as those loaded with parabens and unpronounceable chemicals (especially those for the hair….sniff sniff).

However, through trial and error, I now use barely a handful of products and have recently been experimenting with others that I have heard about.  Currently I am experimenting with the many many uses of coconut oil.  You can buy this in health food shops, online or even in the larger supermarkets.  If you want to experiment too, you should go for a cold pressed or virgin coconut oil.  You can eat it, put it on your skin, cook with it etc etc.  I am finding it a one-stop shop sort of beauty product (and me saying this as a reformed product junkie is something!).

Thought I would share what I have been trying (and will write a full list of things I have used coconut oil for in due course), and today’s offering is a skin exfoliator/cleanser to lift away dead skin cells and leave your skin clean, soft, supple and smelling a little bit tropical!

So……you need some coconut oil, you don’t need much, just a scrape or two (a teaspoon max) in the palm of your hand.  Smooth onto your neck and face in an upward motion to get the circulation going.  I then took a shake of baking powder (depending on how much skin you are scrubbing!) and patted it all over the coconut oil.  If you prefer you can mix the oil and powder into a paste before applying to your face but I find it less messy the first way).  Spend a few minutes rubbing your skin gently in little circular motions working from the neck upwards.  You do not have to be rough as the powder is doing the work for you.  When you have finished, run your flannel (I prefer to use cheap ones from the Pound shop as they are a little rougher!) in hot water, wring out and hold over your face with your palms so that they warmth penetrates your skin a little (not to hot though!!!).  Do this for as long as you have time for (usually 30 seconds to a minute is the limit a little person at my feet can tolerate).  Then rinse off as much as you want.  If it is last thing at night, I tend to leave as much of the oil on as possible as a deeper moisturiser, but if I am going out for the day would remove more, if you catch my drift.

You can also substitute finely ground almonds, sugar, salt or oats for the baking powder to vary the benefits of the scrub.  You could also add a drop of a skin suitable essential oil (be careful when pregnant as some essential oils should not be used).

And there you go….smoother nourished skin.  I have quite acne prone skin and have not found the oil to be a problem at all on my skin, just in case you are worried (as I was) about trying it.  Also, don’t be scared about the cost of the coconut oil….I think the tub I use cost £6 but will last for a L-O-N-G time!

Obviously, do a skin test before trying this out if you have any concerns over your sensitivity to the ingredients!

I also have to add, that if, like me, you get very little time to yourself, it is good to do something like this that you can do at home, for yourself without feeling any guilt!  Bargain.  Do a bit of deep breathing and ensure that your posture is good at the same time, and whoah, you’ve achieved a lot in a few minutes.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

The Dark Nights of Chocolate

chocolateI propose that all pregnant ladies and new mothers should be given a chocolate supply.  For medicinal purposes……..obviously.

Ok, that’s not going to happen in reality….but you should all have an emergency bar (at least) of chocolate that no one else in your household can lay claim to (you know what I mean).

Most women (there are some that prefer cheese or savoury treats….bizarre creatures) have had an extended love affair with chocolate for most of their lives.  I am one of these.  There will have been break ups (‘I am NEVER eating chocolate again’), flings with different brands, types and luxury confectionery, and times when attempts have been made to pretend that the passion isn’t still burning strong within.

There will always, however, be a dependable type of chocolate of choice, there unwaveringly over the years, that has seen you through life’s highs and lows, the obstacles, the elations, the hours studying, celebrating new jobs, the gossips with friends, break-ups and reconciliations, the lonely times, the family times and most importantly, the times when you just want to indulge yourself in the wonder that is the sensation of chocolate melting in your mouth.

Pregnancy and motherhood are now also to be included in my list of the times when chocolate is sometimes a necessity.  During pregnancy, there aren’t many treats that you can enjoy without being chastised by someone.  Despite its caffeine, fat, sugar and calorific content, it is allowed to be eaten!  If you’re not drinking, smoking, taking illicit drugs, partying ‘til dawn, eating your brie, pate and shellfish, then it could be seen as a fair swap.  It was definitely my treat of choice during pregnancy (as it has been throughout my existence)!

Whilst breastfeeding and craving carbs (and still not drinking, smoking, partying ‘til dawn, taking illicit drugs etc), despite wanting to lose pregnancy fat, it has still remained on high on my agenda.  Chocolate has been my friend in the middle of the night when everyone else in the house was asleep and I was breastfeeding or changing a nappy.  Chocolate was there when the baby cried constantly in the day and there were never-ending household chores, nappies, meals, dog poo, washing and bathing to be seen to.

I do not regret any of the moments that I have spent with chocolate during pregnancy and motherhood so far, and do not feel guilty for enjoying it, and have no intention of deserting it any time soon.

Interestingly, the times when I have left chocolate for various reasons, have been quite easy after the initial couple of weeks.  Its addictive properties have a reduced pull once they have left your system, so don’t despair, even if you are a real chocoholic, if you need to, you can do it.

As for other members of your household saying that you shouldn’t be eating chocolate….  Are they breastfeeding?  Are they up four or five times a night feeding a baby?  Are they tired beyond belief?  Are they stressed by the unknown quantity that is a new baby?  Are their blood sugar levels completely out of whack due to pregnancy and stress hormone levels brought on by their change in lifestyle?

No.

So they can go and buy their own/some more chocolate when it has miraculously been found to have vanished.

If they argue that it is not good for you….point out that there is evidence aplenty of the benefits of chocolate.  There is a long list of relative perks of eating flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, including a recent study that found that eating dark chocolate every day over a decade may lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and other studies that show that people who indulge in dark chocolate daily keep to a better healthy weight than those who yo-yo diet.  So yes, you may have to put away your old faithful bar of galaxy or dairy milk and switch to dark, but………

So what are the rules for healthy chocolate scoffing?   Eat dark chocolate, as it is the dairy and sugar content in most chocolates that change the properties, reduce the antioxidant content and increase calorie and fat content.  Try to get the highest quality that you can and the highest percentage of cocoa (60-70% plus) and even better is to go for fair trade ingredient bars.  Oh, and yes, realistically, for health benefits you are supposed to eat just one or two squares of this chocolate per day.  But I certainly wouldn’t argue with a pregnant or new mum if she is reaching for the whole bar, even when it is not dark chocolate!

Have a lovely day.

Kate

Return to Work

The reports in the news about how women ‘feel work discrimination’ during pregnancy and on returning to work,  is only going to add to the plethora of mixed feelings that women experience as the date approaches for rejoining the workforce.

Returning to work can be a scary and unsettling time even for the most confident woman.

It is a time of dichotomies.  It feels like you left yesterday, but you know you’ve been gone X amount of time.  You know you can still do your job as well as you ever did, but no one/someone else has been doing it in the meantime….maybe they can manage without you?  You crave the time being ‘you’ that returning to your work identity allows, and yet you struggle with guilt that your baby/ies are out of your care.  You want/need to earn money again but you will actually be spending more on childcare/parking/travelling than you bring home.  You can’t wait for the adult social interaction, but you worry that you have so little to discuss other than baby related stuff!

Those are just some of the thoughts…..the practicalities can take weeks/months of pre-arranging….changing breastfeeding/feeding routines to fit work hours (endless expressing—euch!), organising an ‘easing-in’ period to childminding/nursery/grandparents, and can you still fit into your work clothes??

Everybody has a different timescale within which they feel comfortable returning to work.  I remember scoffing incredulously as the two weeks post partum date arrived after reading that you are legally allowed to return to work at this point (four weeks for factory work).  I was still bleeding quite heavily, had healing stitches and was getting to grips with the less rosy aspects of breastfeeding (blocked ducts, blistered nipples etc).

Later on down the line I was really looking forward to getting out and doing the job I loved.  Amongst the fatigue, there was the excitement of returning to a role you know you can do, and have generally trained hard in (rather than looking after a little person that is all new!), the thought of being treated like an adult, having time to think about what is next on your list, and the possibility of eating or going to the toilet by yourself!

Babies however, do not understand the issues around return to work day….they generally don’t sleep, decide to teethe particularly badly the night before or develop some strange ‘something’ that concerns you  on the eve or morning of that day.  All things to just add to your stress levels.

I have to admit that the day I returned to work was only the second time I had ever been apart from my son.  It was a very eerie feeling driving just myself in the car.  Surprisingly, kind of liberating.  Like I could go anywhere, or do anything in that moment.  Also surprisingly, I couldn’t worry about him whilst at work, as I wouldn’t be able to immediately do something as I usually would.  I got into work, and it was just as if I had left the day before.

I am very lucky that I love what I have chosen to do as a job.  I have never woken up with a feeling of dread on a Monday and wished I was in another role or counted down the minutes to finishing work for the day due to boredom.  I chose fitness training, in addition to being passionate about it, because I knew that at some point I wanted to have a baby, and I hoped that I could work around that.

With regards to the current reports, I know that many women that I know have experienced similar things during their pregnancies and on returning to work.  I personally wouldn’t have made a formal complaint because I was so busy being a mother that my priorities have changed in a way that I don’t really care so much what happened during my pregnancy, because my baby was safe and healthy.  I also don’t know how my ‘career’ may have been affected by having my baby and time out, as there was no direct career path to follow.

I am now returning to self-employed work, which I have missed for so long, so that I can retain my work-life balance and enjoy the best of both worlds…..doing what I love and spending time with my baby.  I am very very lucky to be able to do this.

Hope anyone returning to work soon is not worrying unduly…..it really isn’t too bad, and the cuddles that you get when you return home make it even more worthwhile!

Have a lovely day.

Kate

Multiply to Simplify

simplify quoteEvery day can feel like a constant battle between mess, household chores, duties and work and those amazing precious moments that you get when you are caring for a little person/people who can find joy in the simplest of activities; watching leaves flutter on the breeze, the sound of a new toy being banged against another, a wag of a dogs tail, or even the concentration involved in feeling the pile of a carpet.

Our house, especially with two (continuously?!) moulting dogs, requires much cleaning.  Slack off for one day and everything goes a bit wild!  There is also a monotonous shifting of objects from place to place< room to room, like pebbles being moved along a beach by the never-ending tide.

For many years I have accumulated endless objects.  All have/had had a purpose and use within my life, even if some were for more sentimental reasons (music, to bring a memory of a moment flooding back, photographs, to bring to the fore that second full of emotions and so on).  I have always had a wide and varied interest range, each with its own paraphernalia…..anyone who loves arts and crafts or fitness will know just how many ‘essentials’ go along with each hobby!

Whilst pregnant, the weight of all this ‘stuff’ started to get to me (along with the weight of myself increasing and the draining nature of just possessing it all), and I started to shed items.  I re-read my wonderful book “Clear You Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston (highly recommended!)  and for the first time since I had owned the book (and it had been read on many occasions!) everything started making sense.  I no longer looked at this collective of items as essential in my life, they did not make ‘me’ who I am in this moment.  Many of them did not represent truly who I am today.  They are all fragments of the ‘me’ that has been growing and changing over the years.  They are certainly not the ‘me’ that is now a mum.

So I started getting rid of things.  I gave things to friends/family for them to do what they wanted with.  I did a car boot sale, I gave endless boxes to charity shops.

Since having my baby the de-cluttering has continued.  There is just so much ‘stuff’ involved with a baby, even though we have by no means been extravagant in what we have for ours, that there is a) not enough time in each day to use all the former life belongings, and b) far less incentive to do a lot of the hobbies when there is someone far more captivating to spend my time on.

I am thoroughly enjoying stripping back my belongings bit by bit (it is still a work in progress).  I love the feeling of passing on things that are no longer useful to me, knowing that for someone else they will be a treasure to be found in a charity shop!  I love reading articles about other people who have done the same (there are some very extreme minimalists out there-not sure I will ever attain their standards) and the changes it has made to their lives.

My aim is to get to a point in the near future where all items that I come into contact with on a daily basis are ‘useful’, ‘loved’ and/or ‘kept in an orderly fashion’ (what all de-clutterers tell you to think about when deciding on the fate of an object).  If the answer is no, then something still needs to be done.

On this note, do not be afraid of getting rid of objects…even if you are unsure.  In my experience so far over the years I have never hankered after an item that I have released!  A handy tip I read was to take a photograph of sentimental items.

So, multiplying by having a baby has brought immense joy to my life, and has prompted a simplification process that has had far reaching changes that are still coming to the fore.  These changes are shaping what is yet to come in my life, and I hope that by the time I finish de-cluttering, it will allow me even more time and space to enjoy the best things in life….experiences, friends and family….which are priceless, and beat cleaning any day!

Simple Chest Stretch

If you ever feel yourself slouching forwards; sat at a desk , after a car journey, after feeding your baby, do this simple stretch to lengthen and reduce tension in your pectoral (chest) muscles.  Not only will it help with your posture, but will encourage you to breathe correctly and is a great, quick stress reliever for your upper body. 

Chest StretchEnsure that you lift don’t strain, stick your chin forwards or let your shoulders hunch up as you do it.  Think of your shoulder blades sliding down your back.  Keep your hips and shoulders square and facing forwards, and your knees slightly bent to reduce tension in your back.

Remember that if you are pregnant or recently have been, you need to stretch more carefully than you have in the past as your hormones have made your tendons and ligaments looser which in turn makes your joints less stable than usual.  Don’t push the stretch too far and no bouncing the movement.

If you are pregnant or recently post natal, hold the stretch for about 8 to 10 seconds, up to 20 to 30 seconds if you are not yet pregnant.

Try to do this stretch every day.

Walking Back to Happiness

walking back to happinessOne of those days usually follows one of those nights.  I got very grumpy at about 4 am when the rest of the house, including both dogs were snoring loudly….(unlike me and baby…..no).  I was frustrated and tired….. and baby, well, he was his usual middle-of-the-night whiny, clingy self.

On one of those days you really don’t feel like doing anything.  You’ve not slept well, you feel rough or out of sorts, have a multitude of ‘to do’s’ on your list looming over you, and that’s not to mention the millions of thoughts racing through your mind.  Try as you might, you can’t get the motivation to start all of these things.

This is where you can’t go far wrong with some walking (unless obviously, you’ve been advised not to by a health professional….you can always check first!).

Walking my dog was a godsend during pregnancy (especially after a busy day at work).  I had to do it (those pleading eyes and ever hopeful snakey waggle of the tail), and although weary at the start would return energised and ready to do my workout, or just  have the energy to cook something for tea or watch a programme/read before bed.

Walking with a baby carrier was wonderful in the first few months after having my baby.  I actually felt like I was doing something, and didn’t feel guilty for devoting time to myself as he was with me.  I was lucky to have a few friends who would happily walk with me in my huffy-puffy state!

Walking with a pram is slightly different, as it just takes a bit longer to get out of the house, but is great as you have the added resistance of buggy/baby to push (especially on hills and when your baby gets heavier!).

So why is it so good for pregnant and postnatal women?

  • It’s a weight-bearing exercise (because your legs support your body weight as you move) which strengthens your bones (by building and maintaining the amount and thickness in them) in addition to your heart and muscles (great for staving off osteoporosis in later years—walking as little as three to five miles a week can help build your bone health).
  • It’s a great form of exercise to start if you are new to exercise, but very effective for runners/joggers who do not feel comfortable running throughout all trimesters and/or whilst your pelvic floor strengthens postnatally (yes, even if you’ve had a C-section!).
  • Walking outside not only exercises your legs and buttocks effectively but gives you all of the increased benefits of fresh air.
  • You can generally find time to fit in a bit of walking into your life without too much difficulty.
  • It increases your circulation and helps prevent pregnancy demons such as constipation, muscle stiffness and varicose veins.
  • It releases feel-good hormones (hence walking back to happiness).
  • It’s relatively cheap…..just make sure you have some supportive shoes/trainers.
  • It can be sociable if you have friends you can go with!
  • Once you’ve had your baby, having carried him/her/them around inside you for all those months means that they are no stranger to movement, and the majority (sorry if yours isn’t one of them) of babies find going for a walk soothing and sleep inducing  (and a darn sight less expensive than driving them around in the car!).

How do you know if you are walking at the right intensity?

The talk test is the best judge.  The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity.  You should be walking at a moderate intensity.  If you’re walking at a moderate intensity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. If you’re doing vigorous intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.  Remember, during pregnancy and in the early post natal period you should not be working at a vigourous intensity (more about that in another post!).

How long for?

If you are just starting out with your walking or returning to walking, ten minutes at a moderate intensity (not including the warm up and cool down) will be great and will lead to benefits if done a few times a week.  You can gradually build up to 20 or 30 minutes providing the intensity is kept at that moderate level.  Obviously if you are already fit and time permits, you can walk as long as you feel is appropriate!

Things to think about when walking:

Clothing:

  • Wear a good and supportive sports bra – nothing with wires in!  (Look out for an upcoming post about how to choose the right sports bra).
  • Wear layers.  Sounds simple, but when you are pregnant you need to keep cool whilst exercising, and you may heat up rapidly due to the changes that have taken place in your body.  Postnatally, pushing a pram can be quite strenuous when you first start out or later if you are putting more effort in!

Posture:

  • Walk tall, keeping your back straight, your head lifted and your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • At an easy to moderate pace, lean forward slightly from the ankles not at your waist.
  • As you reach your moderate pace lean forward from the hips and slightly from the ankles.  Don’t bend your back or lengthen your stride, instead take shorter, quicker steps.
  • With each step, strike the ground with your heel first, then roll forward to the toe, and push off from it at the end of your stride
  • When you push off, squeeze the glute (bottom muscle) of the back leg.
  • Imagine you have a magnet drawing your hip bones closer together.
  • Whilst walking, hold your abdominals in – to do this, make a quick ‘hiss’ noise – this will encourage your abdominals to contract in the correct way.  Now try to continue to feel that tension in your core muscles whilst you breathe normally.  This not only will improve your core stability but will support your spine and lend your upper body greater strength.
  • Keep your elbows close to your ribs and your thumbs pointing upwards if walking freely rather than letting them wave from side to side.  If pushing a pram, try to relax the elbows and wrists rather than feeling too much tension.

 Warming up and Cooling down:

  • It is extremely important for pregnant exercisers to warm up sufficiently before working out at moderate intensities, due to the great changes that are taking place within the circulatory system.  A slower and more gradual warm up (at least 10 – 15 minutes each) than perhaps you are used to is required to allow for adjustments to take place.
  • If you live in a hilly area (yup!) try to start your walk on the flat so that your heart rate will not rise too quickly.  This is very important for pregnant exercisers.
  • Try to finish your walk on a flat stretch so that your heart rate reduces gradually also.

Stretching:

  • You should have a stretch following your walk (calves, chest, front and back of thighs for starters) but don’t hold the stretches for too long, about 8-10 seconds will suffice due to the effects of the hormone, relaxin, in your system (post about stretching coming up!).
  • Hold on to something to stretch, as your balance will be affected due to postural changes.

Incorporating walking like this into your schedule on three to five days a week you will definitely feel the benefits.  However, it can be harder on your joints, especially your knees, than non weight-bearing exercises (such as cycling or swimming), and as your body goes through many biomechanical changes during pregnancy and in the postnatal period, you really need to listen to your body.  Have a think after each walk about how you feel.  Are your feet sore?  Knees OK?  Back stiff?  Or do you just feel energised and in general, loosened?  In our climate the weather can also sometimes (?!) go against us…..icy conditions are dangerous and obviously if you are pregnant you should not exercise on very hot days.

If you feel pain anywhere, slow down or stop, or reduce the intensity and or distance covered for a few days, and don’t exercise if you are feeling ill or under the weather.

Well, I hope by reading this you can prompt yourself to walk effectively next time you have had a bad night with little sleep, or just need a pick-me-up after a long day at work.  I woke up this morning feeling rubbish, and came home from my walk and wrote this feeling much more normal (whatever that is!).  Hopefully, you too, can start walking back to happiness!

Have a great start to your week!
Kate