Postnatal Exercise: When Can I Start?

 

Restarting exercise after giving birth can be a point of concern for new mums. A number of questions arise and, inevitably, the answers differ somewhat from person to person, dependent upon a range of factors.

Pelvic floor/Kegel exercises are very low-risk, and can therefore begin very soon after delivery, from the comfort of your own bed. I aim to educate my clients on these exercises during the prenatal period, so there’s no uncertainty  the immediate afterbirth stage.

In terms of regular exercise, with a natural birth, it’s essential to wait for your 6-8 week postnatal appointment. Any qualified practitioner should examine your stomach to determine the extent of abdominal separation (diastasis recti). This, alongside a number of other health-related questions, will determine how soon you’re able to get back to training.

Note: I’ve come across a number of GPs in Dubai that don’t deem it necessary to perform these checks (something that I disagree with entirely). As such, always ensure you are dealing with a qualified professional.

I’m not, in any way, trying to suggest my knowledge on the subject is greater than that of any GP. I am, however, confirming that any Dubai-based readers must take heed when selecting their practitioner. I’ve come across some questionably nonchalant attitudes towards the whole affair. If in doubt, seek a second opinion.

With a C-section, timings are slightly more delayed. You’ll need to wait for a 10-12 week check up, where the GP will examine how the scar has healed. All being well, you’ll be back to exercise no later than the 12-14 week bracket. This is, again, dependent upon individual circumstances.

For individual guidance/enquiries, email charlotteshelley1@gmail.com.

Pre and Post Natal Series: Should I Exercise Whilst Pregnant?

This post marks the first of a mini series, on the topic of pregnancy and wellness, to tie in with the launch of ‘Bumps and Barbells’; a new, concept class, run at Beyond Human Training and Nutrition in Al Quoz. As a Personal Trainer, I specialise in Pre and Post Natal Exercise, hence, the class targets both new and expectant mummas.

The most common concern when falling pregnant is ‘what exercise is safe for me and the baby?’ In truth, there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ programme. I mean, I could certainly create one, but it would have to err very much on the side of caution if it was to align with every mumma-to-be out there.

Any individualised pre-natal programme will depend largely on exercise history, and the respective pregnancy itself. Your fitness journey will be guided by (but not limited to) what your body is used to. There are a number of very generalised rules, which as a pre and postnatal trainer, we’re advised to apply to everyone. However, in my experience, every individual copes with pregnancy very differently. Below, I’ve outlined some key (and very broad/universal) points to do with exercising whilst pregnant.

1) Relaxin:

One rule that cannot be overlooked is that to do with relaxin. This hormone is produced during pregnancy in order to lubricate joints and prepare the body for childbirth. Although relaxin is required primarily to make the hips more pliable during the birthing process itself, its release is not localised to this area. Instead, the hormone is spread through the body as a whole, compromising stability in all joints.

For this reason, it’s important to avoid high impact activity, both during and immediately after pregnancy. No squat jumps for the time being, ladies… Although I’m sure this is music to your ears!

The presence of relaxin also emphasises the importance of resistance training, to maintain strong, stable joints, thereby reducing the risk of associated injuries.

2) Frequency/Intensity:

Gym bunnies – there’s no need to stress! It’s likely that if you trained 3-4 days a week pre-pregnancy, you’ll be able to continue. The intensity may need to be reduced to suit your energy levels, but don’t scrap the usual routine entirely.

I think it goes without saying that we won’t be working towards a one rep max squat/bench/deadlift either during or immediately after pregnancy. As cliché as it may sound, it’s a case of ‘listening to your body’. If you’re training too hard, it’s more than likely that your body will let you know.

On the flip side, if you didn’t train at all pre-pregnancy, consider this a very good time to start! At Bumps and Barbells, we aim to get our mummies moving for three sessions per week, each lasting 45-60 minutes. The classes are structured in a way that facilitates variations in intensity, so everyone can work within their own comfort zone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first post of my pregnancy mini-series. There’s plenty more content to come, so please do send me a message if there’s anything you’re interested in reading!

For more information on Bumps and Barbells, or one-to-one Personal Training in Dubai, call me on: +971 52 742 1966.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Trainer

Are you feeling uninspired, demotivated, or a little uncertain of what on earth you should actually be doing in the gym? Perhaps it’s time to get a little outside help.

Hiring a Personal Trainer could be just the kick up the backside you need. Here are a few reasons why…

  1. Motivation

It’s all too easy to talk ourselves out of exercise.

‘I’m too tired, I should probably get some sleep.’

‘Maybe my muscles need (another) rest day?’

‘It’s ok, I can just go to the gym tomorrow.’

Before you know it, you’re three weeks out of training, twenty seven donuts down and that bottle of rosé in the fridge starts to look a little too appealing.

However, if you work with a Personal Trainer, your sessions will be scheduled in advance. That, combined with the fact that you’ve probably paid in advance, should be motivation enough to get ya lil toosh to the gym. In short, a coach will help you to maintain consistency. No more excuses.

  1. Variety

Motivation from a coach extends further than just getting you to the gym. Each session will be structured to your personal requirements (and if it isn’t, there’s a 99% chance that you’ve hired a terrible PT).

It’s a coach’s job to ensure that any training regime is diverse, interesting and enjoyable. An individualised programme is likely to differ somewhat from the training you plan (or perhaps don’t plan) when you train alone. This variety can be crucial in maintaining focus and drive, not to mention helping to avoid plateaus in strength/physical appearance.

  1. Form

So you reaaaaally wanna do a deadlift, but you can’t hinge without hurting your back?

Perhaps you don’t even know what a hinge is…. In which case, it’s definitely time to get yourself some professional help.

In theory, no movement pattern should cause pain to an injury free, able-bodied person. If it does, chances are, you need to fix the way you move. A good coach will be able to assist with cues and guidelines you didn’t even know existed.

For Dubai-based Personal Training enquiries, contact me on 0527421966.

Juice Cleanses, Bone Broths, Skinny Teas: The Myths, Debunked

This morning, our work group chat went offfff. Someone shared an image that had been posted on Instagram, promoting juice cleanses and bone broths as a photoshoot diet strategy. Enough is enough. It’s time to call out the bullsh*t.

Firstly, I want to address the issue of social media itself. Our social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc) can be incredibly informative. However, with the rise of influencer marketing, we have to be aware that not everything we see is 100% truthful. In reality, I’d estimate that about 70% of the ‘health and fitness’ related content over Instagram is factually inaccurate.

Why? Money. It’s amazing what some individuals will do/say/promote in return for a little cash. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that this is some people’s livelihood, but come on… Let’s retain a little bit of integrity. Kudos to the influencers that only work with brands they genuinely believe in, you guys are the real MVP. However, far too many people are willing to promote ‘fad’ products, which have little-to-no value to the consumer.

On that note, let’s get to the nitty gritty. We’ve been here before. It’s a conversation that’s all too familiar for me now, and hopefully, it’s getting that way for you too.

Here it is: a single ‘weight-loss’ product is not an adequate diet strategy.

A juice cleanse is not a sustainable way to lose weight.

Bone broth is not the reason you dropped some body fat.

‘Skinny tea/coffee’ DOES NOT MAKE YOU SKINNY.

So, you want to go on that juice cleanse which is advertised to help you ‘drop 10kg in 5 days’… Firstly, let’s just point out that it’s physically impossible to drop 10kg of body fat in three days. Here’s what will happen:

  • You’ll drop some water weight.
  • You will lose a small percentage of body fat.

But… continue reading for the important stuff.

A juice diet, bone broth cleanse, or skinny coffee regime will not, itself, stimulate a reduction in body fat. Despite some very clever marketing strategies, none of these products have a mystical effect on your internal state. They will not ‘flush out’ your gut, or promote an increased metabolic rate.

The real reason you’ll drop some body fat? Because you switched up an excessively calorie dense diet (which made you overweight in the first place) for lower calorie liquid alternatives. Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking… Ah, so liquid must be important to lose weight then? Nope! Wrong again. The fact that these ‘weight loss’ products are liquid is totally irrelevant.

So, what does this all boil down to? Calorie deficit. This topic must be somewhat fresh in your minds, remember my post ‘Calories and Fat Loss’ a couple of weeks ago? Same same. But I’ll say it again (and seemingly again and again after that).

Fat loss occurs through a caloric deficit. Fat loss does not occur because you had your fruit and vegetables in liquid form. Fat loss does not occur because you drank animal broth. Fat loss does not occur because you consume skinny coffee. Expend more than you ingest, and you will lose weight. That’s just science.

Don’t be a sucker for consumer marketing.

Peace xoxox

Exercise and Adherence

Charlotte-8.jpg

Let’s talk a little bit about adherence…

It goes without saying that sticking to something (whether that be a training plan, diet strategy, or something entirely unrelated to fitness) is a whole load easier if you enjoy what you’re doing. I have multiple clients come to me, claiming to ‘hate exercise’. Not only does this baffle me, it also annoys the helllll out of me.

Why? Let me explain.

Exercise is commonly defined in the following way:

‘activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness’.

But I want to break it down into even more basic terms.

Exercise, as I see it, is movement. It’s that simple.

Walking: exercise.

Gymnastics class: exercise.

Playing with your dog: exercise.

Tennis: exercise.

Kiss chase: exercise.

Spinning: exercise.

Wife-carrying: exercise (it’s an actual sport… Google it).

Evidently there are various levels of exertion involved in the above examples, but you get my gist. You simply cannot classify all forms of movement into one category.

So, you hate running? God damn, I feel you! But your hatred for running doesn’t mean you hate movement as a whole. Why not try something new? A dance class, an obstacle course, paintballing. Heck, get out roller skating for all I care.

Test the waters: it’s a simple case of trial and error. You’ll never exhaust every option. There’s an old saying that goes a little something like this: ‘When you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ The same principle applies to exercise… It’s much easier to sustain an active lifestyle if you enjoy it.

The body was made to move; don’t disregard its purpose. Find something you love as much as I love barbells, and maybe you’ll exercise with a grin (and double chin) as cheeeeeeesy as mine.

Peace xoxox

Review: Stemyouth Essence Age Defense System

Last week, I was invited to UAE-based health and wellness clinic, VLCC, to try out their Stemyouth Essence Age Defense System facial.

Stemyouth is an ultra-hydrating, anti-aging facial, which aims to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Now, I’m certainly not an expert in skincare, but putting my lack of scientific knowledge aside, I can confirm one thing for sure: the treatment itself is great.

After being introduced to my lovely therapist, Jabeen, I was taken through a step-by-step explanation of the facial, as detailed in the image below.

After an hour of ultimate relaxation, including a head, shoulder and hand massage, my skin felt amazing; fresh, firm and hydrated.

Before: IMG_0312

After:

IMG_0314

At 22 years old, you may be questioning why I’m sampling anti-aging facials. But with a family involved in the beauty industry, I’ve been taught to be proactive, as opposed to reactive with my skin. Living in the UAE, it’s all too easy for sun-damage to negatively impact our skin. Stemyouth is an ideal treatment to counter dehydration caused by the sun, helping you to maintain healthy, balanced skin all year round.

I visited the Nad Al Hamar branch, so it was a long drive, but totally worth it! Not to worry though, if this isn’t a convenient location for you, VLCC also have clinics in Dubai Marina, Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Qusais, amongst other facilities across the UAE.

Cost: 500 AED per treatment.

Recommended: 6 sessions at 10-15 day intervals for optimal results.

More info: https://www.vlccwellness.com/UAE/en/

Fitness Life Hacks

These tips/rules aren’t necessarily just for the newbies amongst us. The seasoned pros can also do with a little help every once in a while.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a killer playlist. Those days when you’re just not feeling it (and even the days when you are), pop on some badass tunes and go be a gangsta in the gym. Get ya swag on. My go-to? Drake or Future – undoubtedly both way too cool for me, but they do the job.
  2. Buy some kitchen scales. No doubts, no guess work. If you’re tracking macros, accurate calculations are important, otherwise you’re not really tracking anything at all. Just think, there are 9kcals in just one gram of fat, so inaccurate estimations could take you way over your desired daily intake.
  3. Carbs are not the devil. No, no, no. They’re an essential macronutrient, and play a vital role in energy production. They’re also the primary source of energy that the brain uses to function (full blog post to follow on this topic, as there’s simply too much to say here). For now, all you need to know is not to fear carbs, or avoid them completely. Instead, research how best to incorporate this food group into your diet, to help you reach your goals, alongside your preferred style of training.
  4. Sleep sleep sleep. Both your body and your brain rely on a good night’s sleep to operate effectively. A lack of rest will leave you feeling flat, depleted, and unable to perform at your full potential. If you’re busting your butt in the gym, make sure you’re allowing yourself adequate time for muscle growth and repair. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
  5. Understand that the best way to learn is by doing. This industry is full of contradictions. One opinion undermines another on pretty much every subject. It’s unbelievably frustrating and will leave you questioning what to believe. The solution is to do your own research, broaden your knowledge and then put things into practice. Every individual body is different, and you won’t know what works for you unless you give it a shot.
  6. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with your training; change up your routine on a regular basis. If you don’t alter your workouts, the body will adapt and a plateau in progress is inevitable. Not to mention, you’ll soon become bored and lose interest. Mix things up, try a new programme – your body will thank you for it!

Finding Inspiration

For me, inspiration and motivation go hand in hand. That being said, they don’t always exist naturally. Sometimes, you’ve got to get out there and find them for yourself.

I’m often asked how I maintain the motivation to eat good food and get my butt to the gym, so I’ve put together a few handy tips to help you find inspiration when you need it most!

1) Social Media Influencers.

Too many people focus on the negative aspects of social media, without appreciating its value. Fill your timeline with those who share the same interests as you – those who are already where you aspire to be.

If you’re looking for healthy recipes and meal inspiration, there are countless amazing profiles. Equally, if you’re searching for workout ideas, do a little research and discover your favourite fitness bloggers.

Don’t compare yourself to these people, but allow yourself to be influenced by their good habits. You’re much more likely to drag your perky little butt to the gym if your timeline is full of gym girls, than a group of old pals you haven’t seen for ten years on a drunken night out.

2) Utilising your own social media for good.

This leads on from my last point. Social media is more valuable than just selfies. Sure, the occasional progress update/sweaty gym snap is great, but don’t forget to also include quality content that can be genuinely useful to your followers.

We’re talking workouts, recipes, your favourite healthy cafés, or a new gym class. Even a motivational quote may be exactly what one of your followers needs to help them stay on track. By creating quality content, you’ll inspire others. That will, in turn, inspire you at the same time… I promise!

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You had a bad day, and ate half a tray of Krispy Kremes? Yep, we’ve all been there (except when it’s me, it’s most likely two trays of KK, a double cheeseburger and 14,000 bags of Haribo, but who’s counting anyway?).

It happens! Don’t beat yourself up. If you let a blip like this drag you down, it’s going to be much harder to re-establish the motivation to get going again.

Stay positive, and try not to overlook how far you’ve come. Get back on track as soon as possible, and avoid letting that cheat day turn into a cheat week, because it’s a downwards spiral from there. You’ve got this!

4) Tuuuuuuuuunes.

Never underestimate the value of a killer playlist to get you going. Music can totally transform both our mood and mentality. Find the tunes that make you feel like a badass, put your headphones in and zone out. It’s just you and your workout. Get it done.

5) Schedule your training.

If you’re a busy bee (who isn’t nowadays?), the best option is to allocate specific time slots within your week where you can go and workout. My recommendation is always to get up, get out and get it done in the morning, because that way, life can’t create nearly as many hurdles, temptations and excuses to interfere with your session.

Making the Most of Your Workout

As a Personal Trainer, I come across plenty of people attempting to lose weight, but going about it in the wrong way. I’ve come up with a few tips to help you make the most out of every workout.

1) Plan Ahead:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again). Getting to the gym with no session plan will lead to time wasting, and plenty of it. Arrive with a structure to follow – it’ll make your session a whole lot easier. If the machine you want to use is occupied, switch up the order and come back to it later. At least the session will be written down for you to see, so there’s no danger of mindblanks… We all know it happens!

2) Form:

Completing an exercise with bad form can make the movement much less effective, not to mention the extent to which it increases risk of injury. Deadlifting with a rounded back, or squatting with excess anterior (frontal) tilt places severe, unnecessary stress upon joints. To ensure you know how to perform exercises correctly, I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as bodybuilding.com), where you can watch a video that demonstrates perfect form. This will help you to gain more out of every movement.

3) Ditch the Phone:

You know as well as I do that taking a phone to the gym is the ULTIMATE distraction. Yet, we all still do it! Whether used for selfies or Facebook stalking, a phone simply isn’t helping you to get results. In order to maximise your time in the gym, leave the damn phone in your bag. You’ll survive without it for an hour…I promise.

Now it’s time to put these into practice. Enjoy!

High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training is a topic I’ve discussed before, but I’ve never dedicated a post solely to the subject. So, it’s about time for a little explanation! No doubt you’ve heard of HIIT – it’s everywhere nowadays. But for those of you that don’t really understand the concept, I’m here to help.

HIIT is an ideal form of exercise for those aiming to shed some body fat. We’re talking maximum calorie burn, minimum amount of time. It all sounds a bit too good to be true, right? Keep reading to find out how it works…

What is HIIT?

It’s a method of training which involves alternating between timed periods of high and low intensity. For example, circuit training with 40 seconds of hard work, followed by 20 seconds rest. The idea is to exercise at maximum capacity during the ‘work’ phase, before allowing your muscles to partially recover, and then repeat.

How does HIIT work?

Training at maximal effort shifts the heart rate into its anaerobic zone, meaning that muscles are forced to work without oxygen for a short period of time. An ‘oxygen debt’ is therefore established.

However (alike to all debts) this must be repaid; a process referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This is the increased rate at which muscles take in oxygen, after having performed strenuous exercise. The result? The body’s metabolic rate will remain elevated for hours after you finish working out. In simple terms, you’ll burn more calories whilst at rest, all because of that HIIT session.

The Benefits:

  • No gym? No problem! HIIT can be done at home. Basic, functional movements, such as squat and lunge variations (jumps are ideal), push ups and mountain climbers are all suitable.
  • HIIT doesn’t have to be hours long. It can be short and sweet – even just 25 minutes will do the job, provided you’re working at maximum capacity!

Now, get out there and give it a go for yourself.