Monday, August 30, 2010

Exercise after a baby - where to start

Firstly I wanted to say thank you to Biz who has just finished up her BBB blogging journey and is looking absolutely fantastic - she certainly is an inspiration to us all.  And also to Alison who's daughter, Zara, is approaching her first birthday.  After a number of ups and downs and changes Alison is re assessing her goals  and planning how to make exercise a constant part of her life.  The exercise journey is full of ups and downs especially when you add children to the equation but it is really important that you take the time and set it aside to look after yourself - mum is so so important and you have to feel good both inside and out, you most certainly deserve it!

So, you have had a baby and you are starting to think about what you should do, when and how.  Firstly, the most important thing to remember about this phase in your life, whether it be your first child or your third is to listen to your body.  If something doesn't feel quite right then it probably isn't - you are going through a rebuilding phase, a rehabilitation phase to an extent and you must take your time.  That is not to say that you can't train well and effectively once you are ready.

First up - get your 6-8 week check up.  Go to back to your care provider and just get the once over and make sure everything is okay.  If at 4-5 weeks you feel ready to start exercising again at a more intensive level than just walking or gentle pilates type exercise it would be wise to bring this check up forwards a little and just get clearance from your doctor or midwife but even then with their go ahead do remember it is early days and there is still a lot of 'stuff' going on with your body.

Then what?  Make sure you get assessed for any Abdominal separation.  Knowing whether you have Abdominal separation or not will guide you into your exercise routine - there are certain precautions you should take, certain exercises you should and shouldn't be doing so don't stay in the dark on this one do get checked out. To read more about Abdominal Separation click here.

I would then advise to start off with some pilates based exercise in order to rebuild your body from the inside out, keep in mind that not ALL pilates exercise is good for the postnatal period and it's important to get good advice from the right people.  You can read more about rebuilding from the inside out here

Head outside and start walking - walking is great way to get moving again and its great for getting you out of the house and for improving your mood - a crying or unsettled baby is often soothed by the motion of the pram and you get to escape your four walls!  Your Pelvic Floor is important to keep in mind - did you know that 1 in 4 women that ever had a baby will suffer incontinence and that's not 'just' after your baby.  I have spoken to women who five and ten YEARS later are still crossing their legs when they sneeze - not fun and just goes to show why it is so so important that you address this early on.  Don't get scared or embarrassed,make sure you speak to the appropriate health professional to help you to sort it out, it doesn't just go away on its own!  Read my blog post on pelvic floor at the Blackmores Wellbeing blog here.

So - we've been assessed for abdominal separation, we are taking care of our pelvic floor, got our doctors clearance, started rebuilding from the inside out and been out for a walk.....when you are ready to begin more strenuous exercise like hitting the gym you want to work in the most efficient way possible - as mums we are busy and we don't have time to waste wandering around or doing less than effective exercises.  My advice to you would be to concentrate on compound exercises -  these are exercises that involve more than one joint and more than one muscle group.  Think squat, lunge, push up, row, lat pull down, chin up and steer clear of your biceps curls and triceps push downs - yes these exercises have their place but not so much as a starting point in a busy mums workout.  The more compound exercises you use the more muscles you are working and the more energy you are burning - perfect!

My business Body Beyond Baby runs a Pelvic Floor and Core workshop in conjunction with a fantastic woman's health physio - the next one is coming up on the 26th of September and we still have some places available.  I cant recommend this workshop highly enough to anyone that had has a baby - we will be using real time ultrasound to assess your pelvic floor and transverse abdominal contractions and providing valuable information - for more information head to the BBB website.

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Check out Biz's after shot

Check out Biz's 'after' shot  - how awesome does she look!!!!  Well done Biz
Body Fat =23.8%  Weight = 60.4kg   Fat Mass = 14.4kg  Lean Body Mass = 43.8kg   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A year later......

So it has been a while since I have written about my journey. I can't believe that in just a few weeks Zara will be 1 years old. A week ago I was due to start work, which was when I wanted to get back into shape by (according to the goals I had set myself). I have since deferred returning to work until Jan but my aim to loose weight is still an ongoing one.

So do you know that it's so cold in Auckland, it rains alot in Melbourne and in Sydney it can get cloudy? Well these are all excuses I have used recently to avoid exercising. Granted our schedule has been a little out lately what with being on holidays in NZ and now in Melbourne, but I think the key is that with any exercise routine it is transferable - you can travel with it and it can work for you regardless of what is going on in your life.

As I assess where I am I am very proud with what I have achieved, regardless of the excuses. Coming to Melbourne was great as family commented that I had lost alot of weight. And when I see those photos of myself with a new born I feel proud that the old body is on its way out. However I still find myself lamenting the loss of my pre-baby body and wonder will things ever be the same? Am I the only person out there in the same situation...anyone...anyone?

So I suppose as a year rolls on by I have to give myself credit for what I have achieved. At the same time I dont want to get complacent. The goal is still there to loose more weight and track down my old body, wherever it may be.

The next few weeks ahead will be filled with many first birthday parties and celebrations. It will also be a challenge as Zara has dropped to one sleep a day so with that means I have to alter my days to see where best to fit in exercise. The aim is still there to exercise 6 days a week with one day off, as well as maintaining a healty diet.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog so far and for coming on this journey with me - it's far from over.

On a different note a quick congrats to Jenny on the birth of her daughter, India Rose. I know we are all excited to meet her as well as possibly training alongside Jenny in the not too distant future.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Exercsie makes you feel good

What a roller coaster the last couple of weeks have been.  I was going to write yesterday in the depths of my despair but I couldn't bring myself  to share such a shocking day with anyone. My day started well, the plan was to walk with India while Ben took Marley to Gymbaroo (he started work late yesterday) - perfect, only one child to get out of the house - hmmmmmm..... It started with my hat that had broken and I needed a safety pin to fix it, simple problem right?? Nooooo..... I couldn't find the sewing box which meant I couldn't fix my hat which meant I couldn't get out of the door - how can something so dumb and so trivial set the day into such a downward spiral?  By this time I only had 45mins left before India's next feed and it all seemed way too hard to get out of the door - consequently I didn't make it out of my PJ's at all yesterday.

Ben was wonderful, brought  Marley home, gave him lunch and tucked him in for his afternoon nap but no sooner had the door closed behind him than my littlest angel (who had slept soundly all morning) decided to wake and cry, and cry and wake and feed and feed some more and.............mummy needs a REST!!!  But is wasn't to be, little India, beautiful India had other ideas and they all involved me not getting MY afternoon nap, which despite seemingly doing nothing all morning I was very much in need of.  The upside of this story, where I spent the best part of 12 hours attached to my child, is that once finally settled at 12.30am (by Daddy of course - I had no hope) was that she slept until 7am this morning!!!  I am not quite sure if the hours of upset (both hers and mine) were worth the 6 1/2  hours of unbroken sleep but I will take them and recognise that I feel MUCH better this morning and ready to face a new day.

So here is that new day - the sun is shining and I have managed to get out to do some exercise already.  I hit Coogee steps again and knocked 2mins off my Sunday time - 216steps x 5 in 28'29" woohoo! and I feel so much better, it's like if I get moving in the morning then my day is on the up - if I don't.....well, we only have to look at yesterday.  Mood is a huge thing for me at the moment - with Marley I expected to be a little up and down afterward and nothing came - I was pleasantly surprised but this time is a totally different story, the ups are there but the downs; they feel low - I have been on that roller coaster ride before and I know to keep an eye on how I am feeling and I also know that exercise plays a huge part in my being at the top of my game rather than the bottom. So on those days that I am feeling low I know I have to try and get out of the door and get myself moving......more easy said than done.....I'll let you know how I go with that!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Body Composition Journey so far

Last week I went to catch up with Jarrod from Body Composition for that first (and very scary) post-baby scan.  Body Composition is about tracking the changes in your fat mass and lean body mass which is really important when you have a weight loss goal.  If I was to just step on the scales and watch the number go down over the course of a few weeks or months I wouldn't know if I was losing fat or muscle or both.  The goal is to maintain or slightly increase the muscle mass that I have whilst losing fat - this way I will maintain my metabolic rate (the rate at which my body burns energy at rest) rather than slowing it (which I would do if I lost muscle mass).

The first time I went to see Jarrod was back in December of 2006 and so I thought I would share with you the changes my body has seen over the years up until now (at which I am the heaviest and carrying the most body fat!) and a little about what was going on in my life at that time.  Prior to this I was at my heaviest at around age 20 and approximately 61kg (there was a serious lack of exercise and indulgence going on there for a while).

Scan 1 - December 2006

Body Fat % = 16.9%
Total Body Weight = 49.9kg
Fat Mass = 8.4kg
Lean Body Mass = 39.3kg

So at this time in my life I was TINY!  Was I healthy?  I like to think I was healthy in general but I know that there were certain things I was doing that, looking back, were on the extreme side.  Let's start with the fact that I was preparing to get married in the February of 2007 - a wedding alone can send a girl into a spin and we all want to look great on our wedding day right?  My looking great was to get lean - and that is what I did.  I will share with you now though that I was very very strict on myself in terms of what I would eat and when - I ate very few carbs - pretty much only in the form of veggies and salad (carbs aren't just bread and pasta you know).  I had the will power of an ox - I could sit with a bowl of hot chips in front of me at the pub and pull out my apple or almonds if I was feeling peckish, I even remember taking a protein bar to the movies with me so I wouldn't indulge on the copious amounts of junk food that were out to tempt me ( not a bad idea for to stay on track at times like that but really back then the odd lolly wouldn't have been the end of the world - though I probably thought it would!)  Its not a particularly enjoyable way to view food and not really a place I would like to go back to.

At this time I was training a lot and running lots too - looking back I don't feel I over exercised, I wasn't prone to injury or tiredness - my energy levels were great and I was enjoying training clients up at Fitness First.  I may have been lean but I had muscle tone - there was no skinny fat on this girl!

When we move forwards in this blog post and look at the changes my body has taken and look at whether it would ever be healthy for me to get back to this stage my answer would be no.  Since then I have increased muscle, along with a little body fat, and I don't see that fat increase as a bad thing.  Back in 2007 I was very restricted in my diet - I don't remember it being so much fun and I know that thinking about food, my next meal and what I could and couldn't eat consumed so much of my thought process.  I would study the backs of food packaging to see which brand had even one or two calories less than the next.  Then sometimes I would fall off the wagon and eat lots of chocolate - that was my weakness, and when it came around I would go to town - maybe binge is the word.  It's a little scary admitting all of this in a public space but I also think that it is important for you to know my past and my experiences - that I can relate to the ups and downs and that staying fit and healthy isn't just easy because I happen to be a trainer.  It comes with it's challenges for me too.  There were times in my life that I made myself vomit after eating too much 'bad' food - I wouldn't place myself in the bulimic category but I do think that if I hadn't gotten a handle on what I was doing then I could have ventured down that track.  I definitely contribute getting married and having a baby to a greater respect of my body, what it was capable of and how I should treat it.  I am not saying that having a child should be a fix for any unhealthy habits you may have (and often it can actually trigger a worse reaction due to the added stress) but for me I had a 'license' to gain weight in a totally acceptable way and a drive to stay healthy for my unborn baby.  Following the birth I then had the opportunity to reset my metabolism and lose the weight in a healthy way - not striving to get back to that 49.9kg but to find a weight and a body fat % that was healthy and right for me - for that I am thankful.

Scan 2 - June 2007

Body Fat % = 19.1%
Total Body Weight = 51.7kg
Fat Mass = 9.9kg
Lean Body Mass = 39.5kg

Scan 3 - September 2007 (prior to falling pregnant with Marley)

Body Fat % = 20.2%
Total Body Weight = 53.9kg
Fat Mass = 10.9kg
Lean Body Mass = 40.6kg

This Body Composition is when I feel I reached a more healthy and consistent place for me - I had gained both muscle and fat since the original 2007 scan.  Could I get back here?  As you will see following this I put on more muscle mass so in terms of getting back to 53.9kg?  Maybe not as I would have to either lose muscle (which I don't plan on doing ) or lose more body fat so getting back to the 20.2% body fat or thereabouts regardless of the actual body weight would be more my goal.

Scan 4 - September 2008 (Body Beyond Baby journey round 1, scan 1)
8 weeks after giving birth to Marley

Body Fat % = 27.2%
Total Body Weight = 58.6kg
Fat Mass = 15.9kg
Lean Body Mass = 40.6kg

So this is the scan that relates as closely as possible to where I am now in terms of being post baby.  Unfortunately the first time around I waited 8 weeks before getting it done whereas this time only 2.  You will see a significant difference this time (in that I am carrying more fat % and weight).  I didn't weigh myself in either pregnancy just before or just after the birth so I can't really compare the two experiences as yet.  The next scan at 8 weeks and just before I head into the core phase if this journey will be the one to compare to this one - a lot can happen to the body in 6 weeks.

Scan 5 - October 2008 (Body Beyond Baby journey round 1, scan 2)
Scans were performed at four week intervals over 12 weeks

Body Fat % = 26.4%
Total Body Weight = 57.7kg
Fat Mass = 15.2kg
Lean Body Mass = 40.4kg

Steadily (but slowly at first) dropping body fat and maintaining muscle mass - perfect

Scan 6 - November 2008 (Body Beyond Baby journey round 1, scan 3)

Body Fat % = 23.5%
Total Body Weight = 57.2kg
Fat Mass = 13.4kg
Lean Body Mass = 41.4kg

Here I am starting to gain momentum - you can see that my total body weight has stayed quite similar to the previous scan but I have exchanged a kilo of fat for about a kilo of muscle.

Scan 7 - December 2009 (Body Beyond Baby journey round 1, scan 4)
Final scan just before my holiday to Perth

Body Fat % = 22.5%
Total Body Weight = 55.3kg
Fat Mass = 12.4kg
Lean Body Mass = 40.6kg

After my 12 week Body Beyond Baby journey this is where I got to.  You can see that I did lose some muscle at this point which is not ideal but I do go to put this back on whilst still losing fat mass.  Sometimes this does happen and Body Composition gives you the tool that you need to adjust what you are doing to achieve the results you want - kind of like getting an insiders view that you can't get on the scales.

Scan 8 - June 2009 (the last scan I have before falling pregnant with India)

Body Fat % = 21.3%
Total Body Weight = 55.5kg
Fat Mass = 11.8kg
Lean Body Mass = 41.3kg

Scan 9 - August 2010 (NOW - the scary 2 weeks post baby scan)

Body Fat % = 30.5% Total Body Weight = 64.1kg
Fat Mass = 19.5kg
Lean Body Mass = 42.1kg

Wow!  Now that for me is scary - it is the first time I have cracked the 30% body fat mark (I may have been there after Marley but am happy in the ignorance of not knowing) and I am carrying DOUBLE the fat % that I was in 2007.  BUT scary or not this is my benchmark and this is what I am working away from.  It can only get better from here and it will be interesting to see what my body does over the next 4-6 weeks where I plan on letting my body recover, easing into the cardio, ensuring my diet is healthy and on track but whilst not lifting many weights.  I will see how I feel at the 4 week mark and may go back to the gym to lift some lighter weights and slowly get back into it ramping up for the hard work that I know is to come.

This time around I feel my energy levels already are lower (comes with a toddler and a business) and I also feel more emotional than I did after Marley's birth therefore I need to not put too much pressure on myself in these early weeks and just take each day as it comes and get ready to get back there.

Phew - I hope you stayed with me and have enjoyed my Body Composition so far journey - I am looking forward to you joining me for the rest of the trip!
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Biz's Body Composition - a closer look

Biz has come to the end of her body beyond baby blogging journey.  She aimed to reach her goal of 61kg and 28% Body Fat by the time she left on her holiday to Spain.  She has well and truly reached this goal and  managed to get even further!  Let’s take a look at her actual facts and figures from the last few months:

Date              Body Fat %   Body weight  Fat Mass  Lean Body Mass 

10th March      31.9%           66.8kg             21.3kg       43.3kg                 
28th April         29%              64.6kg            18.7kg       43.6kg                 
24th June         25.2%            61.7kg            15.5kg       43.9kg                 
19th July          23.8%            60.4kg            14.4kg       43.8kg    

You can see that Biz has passed her Body Fat % goal by a whopping 4.2% and also dropped an additional kg.  These results show you how important it is to know your body composition and not just your body weight.  Your body weight is made up of fat mass AND lean body mass (along with some water, bones, blood etc) and we want to make sure that when you are losing 'weight' it is body fat that you are dropping and not lean muscles mass.  Biz managed to maintain her lean body mass whilst steadily dropping both fat mass and body fat % - the perfect combination which can only be done by maintaining a resistance (weights) program along with cardio training and a consistently healthy diet. 

If you haven't done already read through Biz's journey, especially her last blog post which is a great summary in the ups and downs that have challenged her along the way.  Biz' husband, Manel, had been working away from home for much of the last few months leaving her with two small boys along with a diagnosis of PND which all put together provided a good few hurdles for her to overcome in order to reach her goals.  Exercise though is one of those things that once on a roll can actually help in keeping all of the pieces of the puzzle we call family life on track - allowing a little self maintenance time for mum can enable you to stay on top of all of the other demands that motherhood brings. 

A big congratulations Biz - enjoy your holiday and I look forward to you rejoining our group sessions once you get back.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mission Accomplished: Now time for a holiday!

Today is the "end of goal" date, so I guess this is my last blog entry! Right now I'm on the plane to Spain, we've just got Alex to sleep, Jack's busy watching Dora The Explorer for the 19th time and Manel's having some time out to watch a movie. While I'm tempted to just sleep, I'll give it a quick go to write this.

So way back when I first started writing this, when I set my goals with Jen, I decided I wanted to get fit, lose weight, and feel more energised & endorphine loaded. I set our trip to Spain as the time frame, with summer in a bikini after two babies as a motivator! Jen made me set actual numbers in kilos and fat percentage as targets, and I can proudly say that I hit them a month or so ago, exceeding them & my expectations. I've had lots of comments on how well I'm looking and I feel confident to get out in that swimming costume in Spain, and I feel energised to truly enjoy my holiday.

Over the past 6 months since I have been training with Jen, and in particular since March when I started contributing to the blog and being more committed to the task (as opposed to just drifting along vaguely aiming for a wafty goal within an unspecified timeframe...), my knowledge gained from Jen on how to lead a healthy life has increased enormously. I always thought I was reasonably healthy, and while I was, sort of, I also ate quite a bit of junk food (chips and chocolate etc), didn't eat much fruit, and ate unnecessarily out of boredom, to relieve tiredness (which doesn't really work!) or because I felt I deserved it after a bad day. I skipped a lot of meals because I was always too busy and it used to really effect my moods and stress levels. I also didn't exercise for years, even though I love it when I do it. I feel now like I eat more (healthy food with the occasional bit of chocolate) and more regularly and for this I feel MUCH more in control of moods & energy levels don't fluctuate at all like they used to. Over the past 6 months, my husband has been away for work on two separate occasions for four months in total. Four months of being a single parent to a 3.5 year old and a (now) 9 month old baby is tough...especially when the baby doesn't sleep too well at night. I think if I had not given myself the attention & care I needed, by improving my diet & doing regular exercise, then I would have really struggled (more than I did!!!). I remained sane most of the time, and have come out the other end feeling so much stronger & really proud of myself.

Way back when Alex was 6 weeks old I really wasn't coping at all, as I mentioned in my first entry. While I loved my new little baby and knew I had a great life for which to feel grateful, I didn't feel happy. I was crying a lot, I couldn't think straight, I couldn't complete a sentence and I was even struggling to remember what I needed to write on my "Remember to Do" lists! I was falling apart at the seams and there was no way I could look after two kids in that way. I went to my GP and was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. This is something I haven't shared with too many people, mostly because I don't know anyone else who got PND, and so felt like a bit of a failure. However, given the fact that it apparently catches hold of almost one in six mothers (according to the Beyond Blue website), perhaps, like me, people just keep it to themselves to save face...which doesn't help! The option of medication was offered and so I went home to think about it. Another day later, in a fog of tears again, I walked out of the house down to the beach. My head cleared & I decided I needed and wanted to do anything and everything to get myself better so I could enjoy being a mum like all mothers seem to do. I was missing out on what was supposed to be an amazing & special time in a woman's life. I went home and wrote a list (this time I was thinking clearly after the walk!) which primarily included: to eat better, take medication, get more sleep (by getting Manel to do the 10pm feed from a bottle), drink more water and finally and most importantly, to join Body Beyond Baby and get back into good regular exercise. I've committed to all of those things since that day, and as a result have felt SO much better and have really enjoyed my time being a mum this year, feeling like a normal person (as opposed to a depressed person!). And that's despite a few extra major challenges being thrown in!

The best thing about writing this blog is that if in the future I forget what worked and fall flat again, I can just read back to remind myself of what works. And perhaps if there's anyone else reading this who was lucky enough(!!) to get post natal depression, then perhaps my experiences can help you in knowing that you can turn things around if you get good advice from the right people....and want to take responsibility of yourself.

That's enough from me. Now it's time to have a holiday!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 8

So I just sat on the floor and cried – today is Monday, India is one week and one day old.  Marley has gone off to spend the day with his Mamour (my husband’s mother) happily saying ‘bye bye Mummy’ as he left knowing that he had her undivided attention for the whole day.  I had decided that today was to be my ‘get on track’ day – I organised to go for a walk around Centennial Park with my best friend and I was feeling pretty positive about bundling India into the car, off to the park and tucking her into the baby bjorn as I eased back into exercise again – nothing too strenuous, just a walk.  And then it started to rain and my walk got drowned in the raindrops and my mood and energy seems to have sunk with it.  Maybe it was the prospect of having an adult to chat with just as much as the walk that I feel let down by – I could still go but the thought of getting organised and out to the car only for the rain to potentially get heavier fills me full of dread.  And with a tint baby in tow that is already suffering the consequences of having an older brother with a cold, poor baby – I feel guilty and want to protect her from everything.  My body is aching to be moving again and my mind  is aching to move it – patience is a virtue and I tell my clients everyday that they have to listen to their body AND their energy levels – my energy is low but I know with movement would come energy and it can only get me on the right track.  I will try again tomorrow.