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By bzz1251, Jan 16 2018 01:08PM

Prologue


Whilst there is a lot of talk about postnatal exercise (which also drives me nuts!), there seems to be a lack of guidance during pregnancy. My Active Pregnancy Guide will give you the low down as simply as possible and hopefully you will grab some tips and be motivated to keep active! Regular exercise and eating a balanced healthy diet will help the development of the baby AND equip the mother’s body to do it’s job as best it can pre and post birth. Each pregnancy is different so you need to listen to your body and follow its lead. Do not compare yourself to anyone else.


This is happening to you and it is your unique journey.


At this time in your life, many people will be telling you what is happening to your body and what you should or should not be doing. Whilst it in general is well meant, it can be extremely overwhelming. Providing you are listening to your body, be confident that YOU know best and follow your natural gut instinct.



2nd Trimester Context:


During the second trimester (14 - 27 weeks) whilst your baby continues to grow, this is 'typically' the most pleasurable phase of a pregnancy (having said this I know lots of Mums where this is not the case!). You are still expending HUGE amounts of energy as the baby sucks the nutrients from you in order to double in size, develop its nervous and cardiovascular system, grow its skeleton and sensory organs - and then the kicking begins!


This fab video from the Baby Center shows you the development through the 2nd trimester.



Symtoms:


As I mentioned before, this is typically the most enjoyable trimester as the sickness, soreness and extreme tiredness often subsides. You will start to see your bump appear in this trimester which, whilst is a crazy thing, is also lovely to see and experience. Many women report feeling energetic, healthy and very positive about their pregnancy at this point. I honestly felt like superwoman during my second trimester! If this is your experience, embrace and enjoy it!


Having said this, many Mums I know do not have this light relief in their pregnancy and I really feel for them. Even still, movement and exercise can help you.




Exercise facts:


In terms of cardiovascular exercise for the average women (i.e. not an athlete), at this point high impact activity is generally not advised as it puts too much pressure on your pelvic floor and can damage this vital part of your body. The weight of the baby is already putting extreme strain on the pelvic floor, bouncing around on top of this is only going to put it under more strain and can increase the risk of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.


At 16 weeks the general guidelines also state that you should not lie flat on your tummy (not that you would want to unless you are crazy!) or flat on your back. This is not to say that if you wake up in the night lying on your back you should worry, its just that in this position for an extended time, the weight of the uterus can press on your major vein which returns blood from your lower body to your heart. It can also restrict the flow of blood to the placenta and baby.




Tips and advice:


My personal advice is to try and move/exercise daily during this trimester. If you are generally feeling good, make the most of it. Focus on;


strengthening your deep core (pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, multifidus with diaphragmatic breathing)

strengthening and correcting your posture

strengthening your legs and glutes (bum)

gentle cardiovascular exercise (brisk walking, swimming, recumberland bike, cross trainer)

gentle short stretches for the body to open up tight and overused muscles

All these things will help to ease aches and pains and support your body as it grows and prepares for birth and perhaps more importantly, beyond birth! Although many women (the first time round) really focus on the birth, the ‘beyond’ part of your journey lasts a life time not just 40 weeks. I train women who did nothing on their first pregnancies, and then trained with me during their second pregnancy and the difference on how they feel and how they recover after birth is incomparable.


Now you have had the time to physically and mentally adjust to your 'new' reality, you will hopefully have more confidence in your body. Personally I exercised more frequently in my 2nd trimester than my 1st as the nausea and tiredness had disappeared.


I continued with walking daily, Pilates and Yoga classes (x2 per week), swimming (x1 per week), strength training and some cardiovascular exercises on the bike and cross trainer (x1 per week but not quite as consistent as the others).


All the exercise I did was tailored appropriately adapted. I.e. for Pilates I propped up my upper body so I was not lying flat, for Yoga I started going to Pregnancy Yoga classes and I did shorter sessions of strength and cardiovascular exercise.


My main piece of advise is to exercise and truly embrace this trimester. Always seek professional advice from qualified instructors on how to adapt appropriately. Even better if you can afford it, seek out pregnancy classes or train with a qualified and confident trainer. Remember, your focus on exercise has changed from before and your drive and aim to keep fit and healthy is totally different to everyone else who is not pregnant. Being surrounded by people in the same boat as you or who completely understands what is best of you at the moment is priceless.





PLEASE NOTE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY CHANGES TO YOUR EXERCISE REGIME.


IF YOU FEEL DIZZY, UNWELL, BREATHLESS OR PAIN IN ANY WAY YOU SHOULD STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND IF THE SYMPTOMS PROCEED SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.



By bzz1251, Nov 29 2017 10:08AM

Prologue:


Whilst there is a lot of talk about postnatal exercise, there seems to be a lack of guidance during pregnancy. My Active Pregnancy Guide will give you the low down as simply as possible and hopefully you will grab some tips and be motivated to keep active!


Regular exercise and eating a balanced healthy diet will help the development of the baby AND equip the mother’s body to do it’s job as best it can.


Research has also suggested that the benefits of exercising whilst pregnant can be reaped by the mother 10, even 20 years later!


Each pregnancy is different so you need to listen to your body and follow its lead. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. This is happening to you and it is your unique journey. At this time in your life, many people will be telling you what is happening to your body and what you should or should not be doing. Whilst it in general is well meant, it can be extremely overwhelming. Providing you are listening to your body, be confident that YOU know best and follow your natural gut instinct.



1st Trimester Context:


During the first trimester ( 0 - 13 weeks) your body goes through rapid changes! This is likely to be the trimester where on the outside it looks like nothing much is happening, but on the inside your body is being transformed! Your body is working in absolute overdrive to develop the fertilised egg, which has successfully attached to the womb lining into a teeny tiny person! The amount of energy this requires is inconceivable. Not only does the embryo grow in size, but it is developing primitive organs, facial features, fingers, toes, and the spine and brain are even visible at this point - amazing!


The Baby Center has a great video and shows you the development through the 1st trimester.



Symtoms:


It is very common for women in the 1st trimester to suffer from sickness, nausea, sore breasts, breathlessness and extreme tiredness which can effect your ability and desire to exercise! Yes, in many ways it feels like the worst trimester and personally it hit me like a tonne of bricks!



Exercise facts:


From a physiological perspective, providing you are having a ‘normal’ pregnancy, you are actually able to carry on with your existing exercise schedule. One thing from the start, avoid fast rotating (twisting) from the waist as this 'can' damage the connection from the baby to the womb.


Despite the embryo/foetus being at the most vulnerable stage, it is highly unlikely for you to cause any damage from exercising. Most complications come from the genetic make up which is something you are not in control of. In fact, physical activity has been found to help to elevate nausea and tiredness!


With this said, common sense prevails. You should bear in mind the physical environment in which you are exercising in. For example, if you are a cyclist, boxer or runner, there are external factors which need to be taken into account from a safety point of view. It does not mean to say you have to stop yet, however you may want to take extra precautions.



Tips and advice:


My personal advice is to exercise when you feel good; sleep when your body feels tired (I know this is not always possible); eat when you feel hungry!


For me, I felt pretty rubbish for the first 13 weeks so I did loads of walking every day (I had to because of my job) and when I was not feeling too nauseas I carried on with Pilates reformer and Yoga classes adapting where necessary. I exercised in the gym with weights and cycled on the bike. Let me be specific though, I went many weeks without doing ANY exercise other than walking.


In addition, ensure you have a well fitting sports bra as ligament damage in the breasts can be painful - it is a serious matter!


Now go, get out there and exercise! Feel confident that you are doing something good for you and the growing human inside!




PLEASE NOTE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY CHANGES TO YOUR EXERCISE REGIME.


IF YOU FEEL DIZZY, UNWELL, BREATHLESS OR PAIN IN ANY WAY YOU SHOULD STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND IF THE SYMPTOMS PROCEED SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.



By bzz1251, Sep 26 2017 08:28PM

The benefits of Pilates are experienced by a huge number of people from an array of backgrounds and abilities. Here are 3 exercises from the classical repertoire which you can try wherever you are. To mix things up, you could incorporate some of these exercises into a more general training session. Adding hand weights and/or a Pilates circle will also make the exercises harder.


It is very important to keep the pelvic floor, transverse abdominis and the lower back muscles properly engaged - if in doubt check with a qualified Pilates teacher.


Your discretion is needed with some of these exercises as they may not be appropriate if you suffer with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis or intervertebral disc problems. If in doubt, check with a medical professional or suitably qualified Pilates teacher.


1. The Push-Up (x6 repetitions)


Set-up: Stand tall feet in parallel, arms next to thighs.


Exercise: Inhale, float arms over head, exhale, sweep arms to thighs and roll down through spine vertebrae by vertebrae. Continue to exhale as hands walk forward to plank pose. Keeping spine and pelvis in neutral with abdominals braced, inhale and bend elbows to lower chest to floor. Exhale, press back up to plank pose. Inhale, walk hands back to feet keeping bottom high, soften knees if needed. With control, exhale and roll back up the spine vertebrae by vertebrae to stand.


2. Double Leg Stretch (x10 repetitions)


Set-up: Lying in table top position with imprinted spine (lower back on floor), lift head and shoulders off floor, reach arms down the outside of legs. This is the start position for Double Leg Stretch.


Exercise: Inhale, reach arms over head, simultaneously extend legs out to diagonal. Keep inner thighs squeezing together and ensure lower back stays on floor. Exhale, circle arms around body back to thighs and bend knees to return legs to table top. Upper body should remain off the floor and maintain a neutral head and neck position throughout. The pelvic floor and transverse abdominis should be activated constantly to keep spine imprinted, particularly as the legs extend to diagonal.


3. Supine Leg Pull (x5 repetitions on each side


Set-up: Place hands underneath shoulders with legs straight and laterally rotated. Press through heels and lift hips to create a diagonal straight line with body.


Exercise: Exhale lift one leg up up to ceiling with foot pointed, inhale lower leg to floor. Keep abdominals and glutes engaged to stabilise pelvis.








By bzz1251, Jun 28 2017 01:58PM

Since 2017 began I have thought a lot about my own physical recovery since giving birth and the time it has taken to finally get back to feeling strong and confident in my body. It is only since January that whilst exercising I have felt I can physically push myself and even get back to my pre-pregnancy nutrition plan.


In this journey we call life, many seasons come and go, some more challenging than others. As life changes so should our approach to health and fitness. The change could be for a physical reason i.e. when pregnant, generally time to ditch the marathon runs! or whilst recovering from an injury perhaps not a great idea to continue with your Tough Mudder training! However it could also be because of a change in our personal life such as bereavement, family pressures, moving house, increase in anxiety etc etc.


So far, the biggest lesson motherhood has taught me is the attitude of gentleness. Kindness, consideration and amiability all rolled into one. During certain times in life, we should go easy on ourselves and not feel guilty if we cannot keep juggling all the balls at once. Sometimes we simply do not have the time or emotional energy to keep up with everything. Do not get me wrong, bingeing on McDonalds and wine will not help either, but the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up.


What I have found is that acknowledging what you are not able to do at the moment, and then focus on what you can do instead. Practical ideas could be trying another discipline which maybe more beneficial in supporting us through that particular phase of life. I.e. if your anxiety has flared up, try out a Yoga class or hikes in the countryside. If you are in rehab, try Pilates. Equally, some people may feel that starting a more power based physical activity actually helps them to destress and release anger. In this case, kickboxing or perhaps a HIT (High Intensity Training) class would help that.


Perhaps you do not have the time or extra energy to 'exercise' in top of life. THIS IS OK! Instead make your daily commutes (school runs, shopping trips, social visits, travelling to work) an opportunity to walk. This could be part way or all the way, one way or both ways! You get the message.


The point is HOW we exercise our bodies can have a profound impact on other aspects of our lives. Having an open mind and adapting our weekly activity gives us something positive we can do to support each phase of life.


By bzz1251, May 23 2017 02:24PM

RANT ALERT! RANT ALERT! - if you are a naked-abs-selfie-fitness professional- lover, prepare to maybe be either offended or abs-selfies-why-196887-600x400enlightened. (Hopefully the later ;) ).


Body image continues to be a battle amongst many women and men. According to The British Dictionary, Body Image can be defined as ‘The subjective concept of one's physical appearance based on self-observation and reactions of others’.


Predominantly working with women and also being one myself, I feel very strongly about the influence of the health and fitness industry has on women particularly. We who work in the industry are suppose to be helping people and guiding the public into living a healthier life. That should always be our aim and therefore everything we do, write or promote should inspire, encourage and support this notion.


Increasingly I have become frustrated with the fitness Industry’s activity on social media, particularly Instagram. I feel that overall the industry has succumbed to how the rest of the media operates. If you glance at the the top Instagram accounts, (meaning most followers…..), of health and fitness professionals, you will predominantly find a catalogue of ‘selfies’ and videos in various places displaying an array of their own, largely naked, body parts which have all been ‘perfectly’ toned. Sometimes you are even luckier to see ‘before’ and ‘after’ images of clients who have dramatically sculpted their body in just 6 weeks! (Please note the sarcasm).


I am of course exaggerating to make the point and there are some fantastic and truly encouraging Instagram accounts from fitness professionals (my fav’s are listed at the bottom!). I fully appreciate that some aspects of our industry, like bodybuilding and bikini modelling, the essence of their sport is about aesthetics. I understand that for aspiring competitors seeing pictures of these people can be useful. I also find the videos demonstrating technique or creative exercises really positive (providing they have a reasonable amount of clothes on!).


However, what I am concerned about is this self indulgence or self gratification of ‘look at me, look at my amazing body’. It is actually on the whole, not a positive contribution to the lives or body images of our followers. We are actually making it harder for them to feel positive about their own body. We are fuelling the damaging side effect of social media, particularly Instagram, is having on women of all ages.


Although research into the effect of Social Media and the human psyche is in its infancy, the early findings and trends which have been found are incredibly disturbing. The rise of social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, have been linked to increases in child and teenager depression, online self objectification and rises in low body confidence amongst women.


As fitness professionals we need to understand HOW we are influencing people. If we understand what truly supports and motivates our online community, I suspect on the whole our timelines would look very different.


I think its time to reflect and evaluate what in general we use our social media accounts for and take action together as community to make the health and fitness industry a positive influence on society.


Rant over, I can breathe now :)


These ladies Instagram accounts WILL inspire you and make you laugh now and again! Follow: bethsmith_bfit, thepilatespt, ucanyoga1



 

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