It’s actually good to snack! As long as you make healthy choices … eating little and often revs up metabolism, provides us with essential nutrients and keeps our blood sugar levels steady…. I assume most people are now familiar with the term hangry? “A state of anger and irritability resulting from being hungry”

It’s actually a real thing…

Aim for two snacks a day, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon to avoid getting “Hangry”

Here are some of our favourite snack ideas...

 

 

Snack Ideas

Snacks

For some reason I find lunch the most challenging time to make healthy meal choices. Unlike the evening meal it’s often a bit of an afterthought and it’s often squeezed in between various jobs, chores and demands so speed and convenience often win out. Bread is often the headline act, whilst fruit and vegetables feature very little. With this in mind I’ve put together an infographic with some quick and healthy lunch ideas. You can mix and match across the different elements to create loads of tasty combinations.

 

Start with some carbohydrates for the base…

Everyone can and should have carbs in their diet. That’s because they can provide some awesome benefits: increased metabolism (better fat loss and health), full glycogen stores (more energy), increased leptin levels (controlled appetite and fewer cravings), improved libido (you know about this one) and increased anabolism (more muscle mass/strength).

Without carbs, we are missing out on some great performance and health potential. Particularly when you are pregnant and postnatal it makes sense to include carbs in your diet as you need the energy! However, few people are aware that fruit and vegetables are actually carbohydrates. By choosing to eat more of our carbs in the form of vegetables it means we are also consuming a greater amount of fiber. This means the carbohydrates get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels. On top of this increasing your consumption of vegetables will improve your overall health and keep your internal systems in perfect condition.

I have recently started swapping our traditional carbs like pasta and rice for spiralised vegetables. Most spiralised vegetables can be eaten raw or, if you prefer, quickly boiled or microwaved in 2-3 minutes. If you do not have a spiraliser then grated vegetables would also work. Another great substitute for rice is to blitz some cauliflower in the food processor for 30 seconds. Spiralised veg should keep in the fridge for up to 4 days; so one batch can last for a few days.

 

Add some protein…

Many people are under-eating protein, yet is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It’s high thermic effect (the amount of calories burned in the process of digesting, absorbing, and storing the nutrients from the meal) also helps boost our metabolism, whilst clinical studies consistently showed that high-protein diets increase satiety and decrease hunger.

However, as with all foods, certain types of proteins are better than others. Animal foods that are high in protein are usually also high in saturated fats, which increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several types of cancer. Therefore we recommend that you stick to lean meats such as poultry, fish, dairy products, beans or nuts as your most frequent sources of protein.

 

Now for some healthy fats…

Here are some interesting benefits we see from including fat in our diet:

  • Fat is an energy source
  • Fat can keep you fuller for longer
  • Fat is a key player in managing inflammation
  • Fat can improve your hormonal profile
  • Fat is high in certain vitamins and minerals

When looking at the metabolic processes and their ability to supply energy, it is very clear that fat is an essential component to anyone’s diet. Fats as well as proteins have taken a lot of negative press over the years. As a result the popularity of ‘low fat, high carb’ came around and this is still present today. The truth is, many people are still scared of fats, yet the research shows that adding healthy fats to some of our meals will help with fat loss and also improve health.

Out of all the macronutrients, fats are usually the least understood nutrient. Fat doesn’t make us fat. In fact, a large portion of the population stands to benefit from a balanced healthy fat diet. By adding some nuts or seeds to your lunch you are getting a portion of healthy fats that will give you better energy, increased nutrients, improved fat loss and enhanced flavour to your meals.

 

Lastly some sauce…

Let’s be honest for a second. Sometimes eating healthy can get a little, um, boring. And if you’re not careful, your meals can end up downright bland. So what do you do to spice things up? Well, the bad news is that most sauces are high in calories and low in nutrition value. So with any sauce you should use it sparingly! Some of the best choices would be the ones we’ve included here, which are either lower in calories, or offer some nutritional benefits.

 

Good nutrition is so important to boosting your energy levels and improving your health and wellbeing. We've included lots of nutritional advice about eating well in pregnancy and the postnatal period as well as over 50 delicious healthy recipes in our programmes. Happy cooking - please share any of your creations with us on our Facebook page!

Tamsin xx

Healthy lunch ideas

Healthy lunch ideas

I was probably hugely naive but I was completely unprepared for what would happen to my body after having a baby. Before getting pregnant I had never had to watch what I ate and I while I was aware that I would not get my figure back the day after giving birth I definitely thought that things would get back to ‘normal’ after a month or two.
In retrospect, there were a number of warning signs I missed that should have altered me that this was not going to be the case. I did a lot of ‘resting’ and ‘eating for two’ during pregnancy and consequently I was HUGE. I went on maternity leave at 28 weeks and spent a lot of that time going out for coffee, always accompanied by a slice of cake.  I had put on the recommended two stone that you are supposed to gain by the end of pregnancy by 20 weeks, and when my son arrived he weighed in at 9 pounds 11.

So I should not have been surprised when four months after having my son I was getting asked, “When’s it due?” if I went out without him. The situation became even worse after I had my daughter. I can still remember vividly the day I managed to get a rare afternoon off from my then 2 year old and 6 month old and headed to the shops full of excitement to get my holiday wardrobe sorted. As the afternoon progressed my confidence sunk lower and lower. All of the places where I used to shop only stocked bikinis, which there was no way I could contemplate. I ended up in desperation clutching a hideous miracle shape changing swimsuit two sizes bigger than I was pre-pregnancy. Then I was hit with the sinking realisation as I looked in the mirror of the changing room and saw what my body had become. It seemed to sum up all the negative feelings I had about becoming a mother; out of control, unattractive, frumpy and just not ‘me’. I sat down in the changing room and cried. As soon as my husband got home later that evening I went for my first run in three years.

Fast forward six months and I had been completely bitten by the fitness bug. I was doing circuits twice a week, spin and had signed up to doing a marathon. I felt in a much better place mentally and had got down to a healthy weight but things were still not right. Whilst the rest of my body had slimmed down my stomach stubbornly refused to budge, and actually in some ways looked worse as it was now totally out of proportion with the rest of my body. On top of this, once I started running longer distances for marathon training I started experiencing problems with my pelvic floor.

Luckily I discussed these issues with Laura and she checked me for a diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and discovered that I had a three-finger gap that was very deep in my lower abdomen. She gave me some corrective exercises and made me stay away from high impact activities until the gap had decreased. One month later I was down to two fingers and within three months it was less than one and I could feel my core was so much stronger (and as a bonus I no longer looked 3 months pregnant!).

These experiences inspired me to train as a Pilates instructor and specialise in pre and postnatal fitness. I am passionate about the importance of exercise in helping empower mums and enabling them to reconnect with their bodies. I also want to make sure that they are informed about how to exercise safely and effectively both before and after pregnancy. I know how important it is to be doing the right sort of exercise after having a baby, particularly if you are trying to get rid of the ‘mummy tummy’. If you want to find out more about diastasis recti read our blog about it here. We’ve put together an infographic with some gentle core strengthening exercises that will help you start repairing the gap. For more Pilates exercises to strengthen your core muscles and diastasis friendly fitness workouts why not check out our postnatal programme.

Tamsin x

Diastasis Recti Infographic

Diastasis Recti Infographic

 

Whatever your fitness goals are, you'll hear a lot about the "core." This weekend I attended a fitness class at my local gym. Throughout the class the instructor kept repeating the phrase “Engage your core!” But at no point did she actually explain what that meant or how you should go about doing it! You may have some vague understanding that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body, or that it is important if you want to get a toned stomach. However, there is so much more to this group of muscles, so at Mama on the Move we decided to create an infographic to help you understand what your core muscles are and why they are important.

 

There is no universal definition of what ‘the core’ is but it is generally agreed that it consists of the deep abdominal muscles as well as the muscles closest to the spine. To understand how the core muscles work it is important to understand that muscles perform different roles within the body as either ‘mobilisers’ or ‘stabilisers’

 

‘Mobilisers’ are closer to the surface of the body and are responsible for performing fast, powerful movements. They tend to work at between 40 and 100% of their maximum capacity and tire quite quickly. In order for the mobilisers to function effectively other muscles need to act as stabilisers. These muscles need to work for extended periods of time so tend to work at 20%-30% of their maximum. One of the main characteristics of the core muscles is that they help to keep your torso still whilst movement occurs at the limbs.

 

For pregnant and postnatal women the process of carrying and delivering a baby can place a significant strain on your core muscles, meaning that we often suffer from conditions such as pelvic floor dysfunction, hernias, diastasis recti and low back pain. Quite often it is not just the case that these muscles have been weakened but our brain may also have forgotten how to connect with and communicate with them. This is one reason why it is so important to return to exercise gradually after having a baby, as you will be much more prone to injury or making any pre-existing conditions worse. Our pregnancy and postnatal programmes include Pilates workouts that will help you reconnect with and strengthen your core.

 

At Mama on the Move we tend to focus on the ‘Power Four’ as the main muscles of the core. The transverse abdominis, the pelvic floor, multifidus and the diaphragm. The location and the roles of each of these are explained in the infographic. Watch out for our upcoming blogs where we will discuss how you can connect with and strengthen these deep core muscles both during and after your pregnancy.

Tamsin x

 

Core Muscles Infographic

Core Muscles Infographic

So, in writing this blog the first thing I should probably confess is that my exercise during pregnancy was pretty much non-existent. There were a number of reasons for this. Firstly when I was about seven weeks pregnant I was admitted to hospital with stomach cramps. In spite of the fact that my hcg levels (a pregnancy hormone) were extremely high doctors couldn’t find any evidence of my pregnancy on a scan so I was diagnosed with a ‘pregnancy of unknown location’, probably either an ectopic or molar pregnancy. It was two scans and ten anxious days later that our son was finally ‘found’. Although I was overjoyed the experience definitely left me very aware of how precious yet vulnerable my baby was. I had heard that there may be links between exercising in pregnancy and miscarriage and didn’t want to do anything that might harm the baby.

Around the sixteen-week mark I already had a large bump and by the twenty-week mark I had already put on the recommended 2 stone that you are supposed to gain by the end of your pregnancy! Therefore I decided that maybe some gentle exercise might help, which lead me to my next obstacle - boredom. The only forms of exercise that seemed to be recommended for pregnancy were either swimming or yoga. Unfortunately I have never enjoyed swimming and after three sessions I just could not bring myself to continue with it. And even with the extra relaxin in my system I was still far too inflexible for yoga so that only lasted for two sessions.

I then gave little more thought to exercise until the 39th week of pregnancy when I was told that the baby had not engaged. At this point a quick Google alerted me to the benefits of walking and squatting to help stimulate labour. As the days ticked on and I went further and further overdue I stepped up the regime in desperation but sadly to little effect and I ended up being induced when I was 2 weeks overdue.

At this stage you may be forgiven for wondering how I became a part of Mama on the Move! However, if I had one regret about my pregnancy it was failing to exercise, for a number of reasons.

  • After being induced I had a very long labour that ended in an emergency c-section. I now know how important the core muscles such as the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor and diaphragm are during labour and delivery.
  • My son was also huge, weighing in at 9 pounds 11 ounces, when I am only 5”3. Again, during my training I discovered that there is a link between macrosomia (large babies) and a lack of physical activity in pregnancy.
  • Post delivery I struggled to regain my pre-pregnancy figure, and when I resumed exercising I discovered I had a diastasis recti as well as pelvic floor problems – both of which I could have avoided or at least reduced if I’d exercised during pregnancy.

After training as a Pilates instructor and specialising in pregnancy and postnatal exercise I was surprised by the amount of mis-information and confusion there is about exercising in pregnancy, with many women keen to keep exercising but worried about the risks of miscarriage or harming the baby. With this in mind I created an infographic to highlight some of the benefits of continuing to exercise during pregnancy. Whilst exercising is no guarantee of a quick and easy labour there are so many advantages to both you and your baby including:

  • Reducing backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boosting your mood and energy levels
  • Helping you sleep better
  • Preventing excess weight gain
  • Promoting muscle tone, strength and endurance

My experiences inspired me to help other expectant mothers to start or continue to exercise in pregnancy. I teamed up with Laura to create the Mama on the Move pregnancy programme, which includes Pilates and strength workouts that are safe and effective for your particular stage of pregnancy. You will also receive our pregnancy exercise guide with information and tips such as how to adapt your existing gym or class workouts for each trimester of pregnancy. We’ve also created a nutrition guide and included lots of delicious recipes and advice on eating well in pregnancy. Click on the link to sign up to our pregnancy programmes today.

If you would like more information about exercising safely in pregnancy then why not download our free Exercise in Pregnancy ebook? Or get in touch with us by email or on our Facebook page.

Tamsin x

Exercise in Pregnancy Infographic

Benefits of Exercise in Pregnancy Infographic