JUICES AND SMOOTHIES - WHAT IS HIDING IN YOURS?

Are you a lover of fresh smoothies and juices ? I sure am!

Juices and smoothies are a fantastic and convenient way to help get your daily dose of fruit and veg in. However they can also help you go over your daily recommended intake of sugar and can be very high in energy, both of which are not very helpful in  assisting you to reach your health or weight loss goals. 

juice.jpg

JUICE

When making or selecting a juice you want to go for one that has more vegetables than it does fruit. The higher dose of veggies helps to reduce the amount of sugar you'd get if you were selecting one containing only fruit. It also helps to add some extra fibre.

When you are whipping up your next juice at home or out for breaky, try to go for more veggies (2-3) than fruit (1-2). My favourite fruit choices in juice would have to be berries or lemon. Both are lower in sugar than many other fruits and the lemon adds a refreshing hit. 

SMOOTHIES

Sometimes nothing beats a post workout smoothie. You've worked hard and they can be such a refreshing, thirst cleansing and nourishing way to refuel your body. They are also perfect for those that are on the go as are easy 'meals'. 

Just as with juices, they can also pack a big energy hit which is not always ideal. I try to make sure my smoothies contain a good protein source such as Protein powder or Greek yoghurt to help with muscle recovery and satiety. Again I use the veggie rule & try to make sure I have more or equal parts veggies to fruit.

Some great additions to your smoothie or juice are:

VEGGIES

  • Spinach

  • Avocado

  • Silverbeet

  • Kale

  • Celery

  • Cucumber

  • Beetroot

  • Carrot

  • Tomato

  • Avocado

  • Cucumber

 

FRUIT

Lower sugar options:

  • Lemon

  • Lime

  • Strawberries

  • Raspberries

  • Blueberries

  • Pear

Moderate - higher sugar options:

  • Mango

  • Watermelon

  • Banana

  • Apple

  • Orange

  • Dates

  • Watermelon

 SMOOTHIES:

  • Don't forget a protein source - protein powder, greek yoghurt

  • Your choice of liquid I.e: Water / almond milk / coconut milk / coconut water / milk

Other ingredients to add a little extra:

  • Ginger

  • Mint

  • Nutmeg

  • Cinnamon

  • Chai seeds

  • Flaxseed

  • Psyllium husk

  • Cinnamon

  • Nutmeg

  • Nut butter

Juices and smoothies can be perceived as being super healthy because they've got fruit/veg in them. The thought of adding veggies to your smoothie may not appeal to you but you may be pleasantly surprised.  Cucumber, zucchini, celery etc all contain a lot of water and won't ruin the flavor of your favorite smoothie. 

There are so many ways to mix a juice or smoothie, you ultimately need to be making or selecting one to suit your specific goals. 

Keep in mind next time you've got your juicer going or adding one to your breakfast order the hidden sugar and energy content and try to get some veg in there. If you don't know what to do with any left over pulp, try adding it to a muffin mixture. 

Be mindful when making your next juice/smoothie & don't be scared of the veggies!

Brooke x

 

I'M PREGNANT...CAN I STILL HAVE MY DAILY DOSE OF CAFFEINE?

When you are pregnant there is so much advice that people are willing to give you, some of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Whether it be about parenting methods, birthing interventions, sleeping arrangements or what food and drinks you should or shouldn’t be consuming, everyone has (and is entitled to) their opinion.

When it comes to food and drinks there are some recommendations from well-recognized bodies in terms of foods and beverages that should be avoided for a number of reasons to protect the health of both you and your baby. No doubt you will each know someone that went through their pregnancy who avoided everything from any form of deli meat, soft cheese and seafood to those that just couldn’t quite give up their Sunday morning runny eggs or weren’t bothered about washing every single salad item before it went into their mouth.

When it comes to beverages we all know that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as there is no safe limit. However, what about caffeine; how will it affect your morning cuppa when you are carrying a little one and what effect does caffeine have on the development of your baby?  When looking at caffeine and pregnancy there is a little more research within this area. Studies have reported that caffeine intake has been reported to be associated with a reduction in birth weight, however the exact level is still unknown. One study with more the 2500 women in the UK confirmed that a maternal intake of more than 300mg per day was associated with low birth weight or foetal growth restriction (300mg per day is about 3-4 cups of coffee using the instant variety).  It also found that an average caffeine intake of greater than 100mg per day was associated with a reduction in birth weight in the third trimester. Although the threshold for which the risk of foetal growth restriction and lower birth weights increases, it concluded that the risk was reduced in those women consuming less than 100mg per day (approximately one coffee per day). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia pledged to determine a recommended intake of caffeine for pregnant women within Australia following the publication of these findings.

So what’s the recommendation?

Australian guidelines recommend you limit your intake to less than 200 mg per day, so that's about one to two instant coffees a day and two to three cups of tea. Be mindful that your favorite barista coffee will contain more caffeine than your home instants.

It is advised that to be particularly mindful of your caffeine intake during your first trimester due to that time period being the greatest risk for miscarriage. However if you love your daily dose of coffee and have multiple cups per day, reducing your intake when pregnant may be something that you struggle with. You may also be more likely to experience the nasty withdrawal symptoms such as persistent headaches and further feelings of fatigue, which is just what you need when you are already feeling that way through growing a human within you.

It is important to consider other sources on top of your standard coffee also as caffeine isn't just found in your tea and coffee. If you’ve been indulging in some chocolate with your coffee or enjoy a soft drink with lunch these count towards your daily intake also. You need to be aware that the amount of caffeine is not adding up from other sources, for example one serve of the following equates to the listed amount of caffeine:

  • Serve of instant coffee: 80-100mg
  • Serve of filter coffee: 140mg
  • Black tea: 20 - 70mg
  • Green tea: ~20 - 40mg
  • Coke 355ml: 20-35mg
  • Diet Coke 355ml: 20-50mg
  • Pepsi 350ml: 40mg
  • Red Bull 260ml: 77mg
  • 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: ~ 50mg
  • 50g bar of milk chocolate: ~ 25mg.

If the thought of giving up your daily dose of caffeine or missing out on that warm cuppa, especially with winter coming, why not try having a cup of warm lemon water (great for your digestive system and immunity) or caffeine free teas whether loose leaf or in bags. There are so many different flavours to select from chamomile, peppermint, apple & ginger. Alternatively if you prefer to stick to your barista brewed coffee you could opt for decaf or a single shot only.

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to give up your morning latte or regular shot of espresso (if you can – great!). Ensure you stick below the Australian guidelines of 200mg/day or speak to your doctor if you are concerned.

Brooke x

BFN NUT CHEWS

By popular demand below you will find the recipe for my BFN Nut Chews / Slice. I made this over the weekend as the multiple night and early morning breast feeds left me starving and I wanted to make sure I was snacking on food that would provide adequate nutrition and health benefits for both me and little Byron.

It is super easy to make, so if your baking skills or time is limited fear not - you will be able to master this recipe! 

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3/4 cup macadamias
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup goji berries
  • 1/2 cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used toasted coconut flakes)
  • 85g rice malt syrup

METHOD:

  • Pre heat over to 180 degrees celsius
  • Roughly chop the nuts and place on a baking try lined with baking paper
  • Place nuts in oven and lightly roast for 8-10 minutes
  • Once the nuts have done their time in the oven, combine all other ingredients into one bowl - nuts and all.
  • Stir the mixture together until it starts to combine and start to stick when mixed
  • Place this mixture into a baking tray, pressing the mix firmly into the tray so that it is nice and compact
  • Place the tray into the oven for a further 10 minutes
  • Once the 10 minutes is up place the baking tray in the freezer and leave to set for at least one hour
  • Once the hour is up remove the mix from the freezer and chop into the desired size pieces, I like bite size ones for easy snack options and portion control (nuts are full of energy so you don't want to over indulge in this snack), but you could always cut into muesli bar slice pieces also.
  • Once chopped up, put in a tupperware container and store in your fridge to enjoy as desired!

This snack is loaded with plenty of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, vitamin E and refined sugar free!

The perfect snack to go with a morning coffee, afternoon pick me up to get you through the working day, or for those breast feeding Mumma's.

Enjoy! x

 

THREE PART PREGNANCY SERIES #3: A MOTHER'S DIET AND THE AFFECT ON LACTATION

There are many pressures and opinions that come with being a mother, one of those being breast or bottle?

This blog isn’t designed to tell you that you should either breast or bottle feed your child, but instead aim to provide an overview of what you should be fuelling your body with if you are breast-feeding to nourish your body during this important time. If you are interested in information on infant formula vs breast-feeding you can check out a previous blog of mine: Breast Milk, Infant Formula & What Works for You.

The ideal and preferred food in providing optimal nutrition for healthy term infants is through human milk due to its complex fat structure that is critical for infant growth. The energy from breast milk is mainly provided from the fats and carbs in your diet, however the amount of protein (mainly casein and whey) in breast milk is not heavily influenced by the mothers diet. Under normal circumstances substances don’t pass directly from Mum’s blood system to the milk, however if you experience mastitis milk tends to be higher in sodium and chloride and lower in lactose and potassium.

The major long chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) in human milk are; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). These are recognised as a nutrient fundamental to the development of an infant’s central nervous system, brain and vision. The amount of fat in your diet will not affect the amount of fat in your breast milk, however you can vary the type of fat found in your breast milk and it is possible to increase or decrease the polyunsaturated fat content in your breast milk by altering your diet. If you are maintaining your energy intake and body weight, the fatty acid content of your diet will be reflected in your breast milk. However if you are losing weight or restricting kilojoules, your fatty-acid pattern of milk can decrease.

There is no evidence that your maternal energy stores (BMI) have a detectable relationship with the volume of milk produced so those carrying a little more body fat won’t necessarily produce a great volume of milk and vice versa, however stress, alcohol and smoking can reduce the volume of milk produced – so be sure to avoid/limit these where possible while you are breast feeding.

BREAST FEEDING – ONE BIG ENERGY BURNER

I’ve definitely heard it before (and sure most of you have also) when you see Mums ‘bouncing back’ from child birth and losing maternal weight gain relatively quickly after their body has just undergone 10 months of huge transformation. Many say ‘it’s the breast feeding, it just makes the weight fall off’, however this is not the case for everyone. Breastfeeding can make you a calorie-burning machine; your hormones are in overdrive making sure your body is producing as much as it needs to keep your little one satisfied. Some women will drop pregnancy weight gain relatively quickly whilst breast-feeding due to this increase in energy expenditure, however many Mums will retain this until the actually stop breastfeeding (isn’t it amazing how are bodies are all SO different!).

It is hard to define set energy requirements for women that are breast feeding as there are so many individual factors; how often are you feeding your baby, what are your activity levels, any pre-existing medical conditions, height, age, diet and so on, therefore the following are estimates only for those that are breastfeeding. Whilst breast feeding there is an increased need of approximately 2000-3000kj/ day (about 500 – 700 calories per day), with most women storing 2-5kg of body fat that can be utilized to provide energy for breastfeeding for the first three months, so this isn’t always needed from additional food initially. The increased energy requirements are also dependent on the volume of milk you are producing, which again can vary greatly from one Mum to the next, which is why it so it is important to recognize that everyone will have differing energy requirements and the need to fuel your body appropriately.

Because the fatty acid content of your breast milk can be influenced by your diet and the fact that breastfeeding is already causing a potential energy deficit, the post-partum time is not the time to be rushing about trying to get your ‘pre-baby body’ back - it is a time for you to put both you and your little one first. You need to be fuelling your body with a variety of whole, nutritious foods, resting and incorporating gentle movement if you have been given the all clear to do so all to assist in setting you up for breastfeeding success and a good recovery. Make sure to be kind to yourself, starting with kind thoughts within your mind.

ARE THERE ANY INCREASES IN RDI’s WHILST BREASTFEEDING?

Just as there are during pregnancy, breastfeeding is also a taxing time on the body and there are some increases to the daily intakes of some vitamins and minerals.

B vitamins: Thiamin, B6, Niacin and Riboflavin, B12 & folate (folic acid). You can continue to take a pregnancy multivitamin of breast feeding supplement to assist in meeting these slightly increased RDI’s, but also be sure to try your best to get these through your diet. Try incorporating asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chick peas, dried beans, lentils, spinach & animal products (such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, or dairy). You can also try fortified breakfast cereals and enriched soy or rice milk.

Vitamin A and C RDI’s are also slightly elevated as this is secreted in breast milk and passed to your new bub. If you are eating a varied, healthy diet then there should be no reason that you have difficulty meeting these requirements.

When it comes to minerals (iron, calcium, zinc, iodine), RDI’s have factored in a safety margin for the allowance of these being secreted daily in milk. Iron and zinc levels are increased slightly in those that are breastfeeding, so again it is important to eat a varied diet rich in

STAPLE ITEMS FOR YOUR SHOPPING LIST:

If you are breastfeeding, add these items to your weekly shopping list and incorporating into your meal planning to assist with breastfeeding, milk production and post partum recovery:

  • Oats
  • Brewers yeast
  • Flaxseeds / Flaxmeal
  • Dried fruit & nuts – almonds, cashews
  • Fennel
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Salmon
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Chick peas/lentils
  • Brown rice
  • Water

IDEAS FOR INCORPORATING THE ABOVE FOODS

So you've just gone and purchased some of the above - here is some ways to add them to your daily diet:

  • Oats/porridge mixed with chia seeds, flaxmeal, brewers yeast, berries & almond milk - a great breakfast idea
  • Smoothie - Banana, berries, almond milk, spinach, brewers yeast
  • Veggie sticks with hommus - the perfect, easy snack
  • Fruit & nut mix - another easy snack idea
  • Salmon with brown rice & green leafy veggies, meats with salad & lentils - nutritious dinner or lunch time meals.
  • Water – don’t forget to drink plenty of this! More than you would when you were pregnant. It helps prevent you from dehydration and replaces fluid lost during lactation.

FINAL WORD

Overall breastfeeding can utilize approximately 500 calories per day in lactating women. It is important to note that this varies greatly from woman to woman; those with low activity levels can actually gain weight if energy levels are not maintained, whereas those that are physically active may require larger energy intakes.

Whilst breastfeeding it is important to make sure you are consuming adequate calories from beneficial food sources (as above) to help boost or maintain your milk supply. This should be your priority over weight loss or getting back to your pre-baby weight. Your body has undergone drastic changes over the past 10 months and the hard work is far from over. You now need to help grow a healthy infant so fuelling your body right will be your priority - remove any pressure and pre-conceived ideas of rushing back to exercise or starting a diet (now is definitely not the time to be dieting).

Look at food as fuel for you and bub and plan ahead as best you can to make sure you incorporate some of the foods that can help with post-partum recovery and milk supply - put those visitors to good use and get them prepping some healthy, nourishing meals!

Brooke x

THREE PART PREGNANCY SERIES #1: EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY

Exercise during pregnancy can be a controversial and confusing topic. Often women fall pregnant and then immediately worry if the exercise they have been doing is safe for their baby and what they can now continue doing, some women give up their exercise routine altogether. It can be confusing when trying to look for information on safe and effective workouts for all stages of pregnancy. Even with social media you see those that encourage very low impact and intensity exercise to those continue kickboxing or powerlifting up until delivery date - what is actually right for you?

Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up resistance training or any form of activity that you enjoy for that matter. There are many benefits to continue incorporating regular physical activity into your weekly routine given that you have consistently undertaken this form of exercise prior to falling pregnant and have no contraindications. Regular activity during pregnancy is beneficial to both you and your baby, not just physically but for your mind and spirit also. 

EVERYONE'S PREGNANCY JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT:

  • You may find that you have morning sickness (that lasts all day) up until 16-20 weeks, or you may have none at all.
  • You may get pubic symphysis dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain, you might not
  • Your energy levels may be rock bottom, or they may be similar to before you fell pregnant.

The list is endless, but it is important to recognize that everyone is different and what one woman is able to continue doing may be completely different to another.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT IS AND ISN'T SAFE FOR ME?

Early on in pregnancy you may be experiencing morning sickness, have a desire to keep your pregnancy a secret and be dressing and exercising as though you are not pregnant. In the early trimester you need to be mindful of your baby’s organ development and your body’s core temperature as early miscarriage is more prevalent in these early weeks.

Once you reach about 16 weeks (some practitioners recommend at 12 weeks), it is advised you avoid any exercises that involve you lying flat on your back to avoid supine hypertension. Exercising on an inclined bench however is a great option to still perform a wide range of exercises or attend your favourite weekly Pump class.

As you enter your second trimester you may start to notice your baby bump, altered posture and possible back pain. The hormone relaxin is also increasing within your body which increases joint vulnerability, so whilst you may feel a little more bendy at your yoga class, its important not to over stretch. There is also added pressure and weight on your pelvic floor and altered mechanics of your core so it Is important to avoid performing any kind of abdominal crunch or trunk flexion from here on in.

As you reach 28+ weeks and enter your third trimester this is a major time of growth for your baby. You may experience feelings of fatigue(again), interrupted sleep, fluid retention and weight gain which adds to the additional load on your legs, back and pelvis and can often be when you begin to experience pelvic joint pain.

CONTRAINDICATIONS TO EXERCISE WHILST PREGNANT:

If you have any of the following you should discuss with your doctor or medical practitioner prior to undertaking exercise to understand your condition and ensure you do not do anything that could aggravate or worsen it. Then seek advice from an adequately trained fitness professional in the pre/post natal field such as a suitably qualified personal trainer or women’s health Physio:

  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Ruptured membranes (water have broken)
  • Maternal heart disease
  • Preterm labour
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Uncontrolled hypertension

RESISTANCE TRAINING:

If you have been a regular weight trainer prior to falling pregnant it is great to continue lifting weights throughout your pregnancy. Keep the following in mind though and be sure to adjust the intensity, duration and rest throughout your workouts:

  • Decrease the intensity
  • Volume can remain high, given that the load remains low
  • Monitor your heart rate and use the Rate of Perceived Exertion to keep your workouts in a comfortable and safe zone (you will notice that you feel less fit than you used to with all that extra blood volume pumping around your body)
  • Increase your rest periods
  • Body weight, fit ball and resistance tubing workouts are great to keep load on the muscles but decrease the intensity
  • Decrease the load
  • Monitor the duration – don’t try to be a hero and do you normal 60 minute workouts. 20-30 minute circuits are great to target your anearboic energy systems and give your body that ‘after-burn’ effect, whilst not flogging yourself.

CARDIO:

Again, monitor your heart rate and use the Rate of Perceived Exertion to keep your workouts in a comfortable and safe zone. Your heart rate zone will be dependent on your pre-pregnancy fitness levels, but generally keeping it below 150bpm is advised. Otherwise the RPE scale means that you want be exercising at an intensity that you would be able to hold a conversation or sing whilst you are exercising, on a scale of 6-20 you want to be about a 12-14.

  • Avoid high impact or contact activities. You can still do your favorite aerobics class but be sure to take the lower options.
  • Swimming, cycling and walking are great low impact cardio forms. Listen to your body
  • Keep sessions short but regular. Maybe you used to do 60 minutes of cardio regularly, to be mindful of your heart rate and core body temperature anywhere from 20-40 minutes is plenty.

I also recommend adding in regular yoga or pilates to your workout routine whilst pregnant. Yoga is a fantastic form of exercise to help you connect with your breath, baby and body and a great stress relief. It can help you prepare for the fears of labour and birth and nourish your mind, body and soul. Pilates is also a great form of exercise to connect with your pelvic floor muscles, posture and abdominals in a safe and effective manner to keep the core unit and pelvic muscles strong as they become stretched and loaded over the 9 months.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Avoid overheating – keep exercise to the cooler parts of the day, in air conditioned environment and always have water with you
  • Keep well hydrated before, during and after exercise – drink all the water ladies
  • Be mindful of your centre of gravity – as your belly grows your COG beings to shift and you may find you are off balance more easily
  • Listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right – STOP. If you heart rate is feeling a little high or you a re out of breath – REST. Now is not the time to be running marathons. You may feel great while you are exercising, you may find you are shattered later that afternoon or pull up quite sore the following day.
  • You don’t want to finish your workout feeling completely smashed. Your body is already working overtime to grow and nourish that little human inside of you.
  • Seek professional advice – if you are unsure, speak to a suitably qualified professional, womens health physio or your doctor
  • Everyone is different – just because the lady next to you is still jogging, doesn’t mean that is right for you and your body.
  • Fuel your body with a wide variety of healthy, whole and nourishing foods. Give your bub the best possible head start – everything you eat goes towards your baby. Try your best to eat well.
  • Enjoy the journey! Remember physical activity is to keep your mind and body healthy as you progress through pregnancy. The added benefits of regular exercise are just a bonus.

This topic could be discussed in great detail… and for days! There is no way that I can cover it all in this blog, and I am not attempting to. What I do encourage is for Mumma's to keep moving in a safe and effective manner that is suitable for them. The above are general guidelines and we are each completely different on our pregnancy journey's, there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

Regular physical activity during pregnancy is beneficial to both mum and bub, with some key considerations to be taken into account. Remember to monitor your intensity levels, watch the impact and listen to your body. I encourage you to keep physically active throughout your pregnancy and make time for you. Movement does great things for our mental and physical health, so keep moving, keep positive and always listen to your body.

If you are unsure remember to seek advice from a trusted professional. You should always consult with your doctor prior to undertaking a new or continuing with a current fitness regime to ensure you do not have any of the contraindications listed above. I also recommend seeing a women's health physio to assist in making an assessment of your pelvic floor so that you can do you best to safely keep moving Mumma’s!

If you'd like a safe and effective exercise program whether pre or post natal in the comfort of your home or the gym get in touch with me  x

To make sure you don't miss out on the next blog in this three part series be sure to subscribe below! Part two coming soon: Nutrition during pregnancy.

Photography thanks to Matthew Jewkes

SHAPING YOUR LOWER BODY - BENEFITS OF UNILATERAL MOVEMENTS

Squats, deadlifts, leg press; all great compound exercises that are effective in building strength and conditioning your lower body.

Often overlooked though are the unilateral or single leg movements that should be incorporated into your workouts if you are after shape, tone and strength through your lower body.

I am a big lover of unilateral movements. I find them very challenging and it helps you realise what areas or sides of the body require a little more work when they are singled out.

Unfortunately I’ve recently started to avoid the single leg movements for the lower body and will do for the remainder of my pregnancy as it started to contribute to some pelvic girdle pain. I can honestly say I’m missing my lunges and single leg squats. But for those of you that don’t have any PGP and are looking to change up your leg routine a little and start seeing some changes to your lower body, I highly recommend incorporating some unilateral exercises.

Unilateral movements are fantastic for:

  • Increasing your strength – that one leg has nowhere to hide and can’t rely on its buddy to help it out of the exercise. All of the focus is in the one leg at a time. When coupled with a healthy diet assists in improving muscle tone and shape of the area due to the recruitment and activation of various muscle fibres.
  • Improving your balance – standing on one leg can be challenging at the best of times. When you add movement into that or some added resistance it will really challenge both your balance and posture, leading to:
  • Improved core strength and stability – your core muscles need to work harder and remain activated to assist in balance throughout the movements, resulting in a stronger core.
  • Assists with muscle activation and recruitment – performing unilateral movement’s forces you to focus on the specific muscle groups you want to recruit to successfully complete the exercise. This helps build that mind-muscle connection and activate muscle fibres that might normally go unnoticed when performing a normal squat or deadlift.

Some of my favourite single legged exercises for shaping and toning the lower body are:

  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Back stepping lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Single leg hamstring curl
  • Single legged press
  • 45 degree side single leg press
  • Single legged deadlift
  • Pistol squat
  • Cable kickbacks
  • Donkey kicks

When performing single leg exercises form is super important and in benefiting from the results and avoiding injury. Be sure to start with body weight or light resistance. Some of the above exercises also really challenge your balance so are great at assisting to improve this and your proprioception. To make them more challenging keep the tempo to a 1:3 or 3:1 ratio or even super slow, add in some bottom half pulses or isometric holds to really feel the burn.

Add 1-2 of these exercises into your next leg routine, or perform a circuit of 3-4 of them on a regular basis to help see some changes to that lower body.

Brooke x

WEIGHT GAIN DURING PREGNANCY

A topic that can be controversial, overwhelming and at times difficult to accept.

If the thought of jumping on the scales each week and seeing your weight increase despite regular exercise and a healthy diet scares you, you are not alone.  However when you are growing a little human inside of you, expect to see the numbers on the scales increase from month to month.

If the thought of eating for two excites you and has you going back for seconds for dinner or saying yes more often to the lunchroom cakes, think again. The initial stages of pregnancy actually requires very little change in your daily energy intake, so it’s time to put down the ice cream (sorry to be the bearer of bad news) as your body just does not need excessive additional kilojoules at this stage, but more on nutrition during pregnancy in one of my blogs to be released shortly.

When it comes to weight gain during pregnancy, there is no one size fits all approach (much the same as diets and exercise). Those of smaller frames and lower pre-pregnancy BMI’s (less than 18.5kg/m) are encouraged to gain more weight during pregnancy than those of normal or overweight BMI’s as it helps to reduce the risk of delivering a low for gestational age infant. However high weight gain can be associated with other complications. Mummy’s to be that are carrying extra weight and falling into the overweight or obese categories on the BMI chart (25 – 29kg/m & above 30kg/m), prior to falling pregnant are encouraged to gain less weight throughout the course of their pregnancy. This assists in reducing the risk of delivering a large for gestational age infant (weighing more than 9 pound) and other pregnancy complications associated with weight gain such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and post partum hemorrhage.

What is right for you?

Try not to focus on numbers. Any studies show that the overall the average recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are between 11 – 16kg and again these vary greatly from each expecting mother due to the variety of personal and pre-pregnancy weight factors.

Weight gain in the first trimester is relatively small with a total of about 1-2kg. This increases in the second and third trimesters with an average gain of about 0.4kg/week. Again, this is varying for everyone, but can help to be used as a guide. If you spend the first 12 weeks becoming best friends with your toilet bowl, you might find that you actually lose weight in the first trimester. Or you might put on 5-6 kg in the first and then notice that this slows during the second and third.  Those that had a higher pre-pregnancy weight may actually find they lose weight due to following a healthier diet and trying to incorporate regular activity into their week. As hard as it may be initially, try not to compare yourself to anyone else during this time. This goes for post pregnancy weight loss also. Every one is different. As long as you are fuelling your body correctly, eating a variety of nutritious whole foods and incorporating regular movement, your body will do what it needs to do and take care of the rest.

Where does the weight come from?

Try not to stress over weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Look at these 9 months as a chance to fuel your body to grow a healthy mini-me and enjoy the break from high intensity and impact exercise (something I initially struggled to come to terms with, now I am loving it!). The reason I say stress less is because when looking at the percentage of total weight gain during pregnancy in a normal, healthy pregnancy only about 26 – 30% is from body fat. The remainder comes down to the fetus (27%), extracellular/vascular fluid (15%) and blood (10%), with the uterus, placenta, amniotic fluid, and mammary glands accounting for the rest. Are you feeling puffy and like you are retaining fluid? Don’t stress, overall water accounts for over half of the maternal weight gained during pregnancy and will disappear soon after you give birth to you little miracle.

What are my thoughts?

As a coach I encourage regular tracking of various measures depending on my clients goals. Subject to these goals, regular tracking is a good tool to monitor your weight gain both when you are or are not experiencing pregnancy. You do not have to weigh yourself weekly, or at all if for that matter! I know many mum’s that didn’t step onto the scales at al during their pregnancy besides their mid wife appointments, however if you are one to pay a little more attention to detail or know that you have trouble making the right food choices, then it can assist with making sure that you aren’t gaining excessive amounts of weight, or not enough.

For me, the scales have never been my friend and I prefer to use other techniques such as measuring my waist and hips to track my progress - particularly when I was competing. Each to there own for monitoring weight/measurements, I am not saying there is a right or wrong way to do this. For many, your doctor or mid wife may take regular measurements for you and you may find that that is enough. For me, I have found that weekly measurements are great to record in my pregnancy diary and when looking back over the weeks, I am in awe at my body changing to accommodate our little human. I actually also found this regular method reassuring. During my first trimester and early in my second trimester my weight wasn’t changing much at all and it took sometime for my bloat to actually look like a baby belly however my measurements were going up. This helped me to see that I was still growing and things were going the right way.

Since falling pregnant I have taken weekly measurements of the following and recorded in my pregnancy diary:

·       Weight (kg)

·       Waist (cms)

·       Belly button (cms) (this is a great one, as tends to be where I am getting a lot of growth)

·       Hips (cms)

·       Bust (cms)

Again, you do not need to follow this; I am simply sharing the tools I use to monitor my pregnancy. If I miss a week of recording I don’t stress.

Overall

If you are concerned about your weight gain or loss throughout pregnancy always speak to your doctor. Whilst is can be difficult having to step out of your favourite One Teaspoon shorts, go up a size in the underwear department and upgrade the work wardrobe, try to embrace the journey that your body is headed on. Pregnancy is most certainly not the time to be dieting or restricting your food intake (unless you have been advised to by your doctor). You don’t have to make friends with the scales, but make sure you do make friends with salad both during and after your pregnancy.

Make sure you are choosing plenty of fresh, whole, healthy foods to give your baby the best head start possible and keep up the regular activity; the benefits of this to your physical and mental health and baby are countless! 

Brooke x

P.S stay tuned for an upcoming blog on nutrition during pregnancy.