So, I wanted to get a few preconceptions out of the way right at the very beginning……
Say ‘fitness instructor’ and most people formulate an image in their mind, especially if you add ‘female’. Compound that with the fact that I have been blonde most of my life, and I bet you conjure up a certain stereotypical persona in your mind.
Yes…..I know….one of those bubbly, overly enthusiastic, endlessly effervescent, uber-fit, ludicrously toned, tanned and lycra-clad ladies that bounces around at the front of an aerobics class, whilst keeping all make-up and hair perfectly intact, and ‘WHOOPING’.
In reality, I am not that person that your mind has created.
I am a fitness instructor/personal trainer with years of experience and loads of qualifications…..(this is not a boast by the way….bear with me), I have been very fit at some points in my life, and very unfit at others and I have been many different shapes and body fat percentages. I now have an eight month old baby (I believe that is right, as you sort of lose track after the weeks become months!), and I am not, I repeat NOT one of those people who has naturally speedily ‘snapped’ (grrrrr, that word) back into shape.
I have never felt so fat and unfit as during the first few weeks after giving birth. My ankles were swollen, my boobs were huge (and then got even bigger) and I just looked and felt like a slightly deflated waterbed. As the months have gone on I still don’t feel anywhere near regaining my former (even fat) shape!
My body has never shed body fat readily, it has always taken time, dedication, hard work and a very precise way of eating when I have. So why did I expect my hormone-flooded, healing, exhausted, sleep-deprived body to be any different to all those other times? It has taken me until now to actually give myself a break from beating myself up about the current shape I am in (see yesterdays blog post about changing your mindset here).
Being a fitness instructor this is incredibly frustrating.
Sadly, I know all about all the scientific reasons why fat is hard to shift (more detail about this in an information sheet to come), especially for women who have been pregnant, as I have studied it in detail for many years. It is more than just expending more calories than you consume. I also know what works for me.
I need restorative sleep and daily meditation to regulate my stress hormones, I need an unprocessed diet with oodles of vegetables (preferably raw), some fruit and high quality protein sources, lots of weight training and some high intensity interval training, not to mention copious quantities of water……..and time to achieve all of these.
After staying at a really healthy weight all through my pregnancy, I actually put on weight in the first few months after giving birth, as my lifestyle had changed so dramatically. I was no longer rushing around from 6am to 10pm, instead I was ‘stuck’ breastfeeding for what seemed like hours at a time (probably because it was hours at a time!).
It is only in the past week that we have significantly reduced daytime breastfeeding, and it is great to start to be able to plan doing more for ‘me’ (including wearing tops that don’t have easy-access-to-boobs-designs!) in the daytime.
The old adage of “9 months on….. 9 months off” with respect to the weight you gain and lose in pregnancy is very true for many women, despite how tedious that may be. As with everything in life, there will be those who lose weight rapidly, those who will end up smaller than they were pre-pregnancy and those who take a bit longer to regain their former set point.
I was severely disappointed that the weight I had gained didn’t just ‘drop off’ as soon as I started breastfeeding. But how could it when I craved carbohydrate constantly, and was always eating on the go, or in the middle of the night, barely having time to sleep let alone direct my attention to cooking healthy, nutritious meals as I have historically.
I am not feeling guilty about this now, and neither should other mums in the same position be. I personally am incredibly proud of the now rather solid baby that I have created, and marvel at how wonderful nature is to provide me with the means of feeding this chap. I was determined not to scrimp on food in order to lose weight at this one time in my life when it is all about providing the best possible nourishment for this little person. I was worried that my usual weight loss regime may do this. There will be plenty of time in the next few months to get lean and fit again, without compromising the milk that I am producing.
This is a very important consideration when writing exercise programmes for new mums. The desire to change their body shape and the reality of what needs to be accomplished in any one day need to be married up to prevent disappointment, frustration and negative feelings during this time of upheavals.
I love exercising, I love weight training, I love pushing my body to see what I can achieve, and love the feeling of being worked hard. So do many other new mums.
Sometimes, though, it is important for a gentler approach to be taken at first, as many people do not understand how long the effects of pregnancy hormones can affect the body. You can sometimes do a lot of damage in a short space of time by overdoing it with the wrong exercises (no matter how well meant).
I feel very strongly that there is so much attention placed on provision of classes ‘for the baby’, and not enough time for mothers-to-be and new mothers. If that is you, you know what I mean. A healthy, happy mum can devote much more time to developing a happy child, I am convinced. Providing a safe, effective workout for a mum-to-be or new mum provides some highly valued ‘me-time’ to enable you to do something that will reap rewards for both you and your child/children.
I realise that not everyone can get to a class or get correct ante and postnatal advice from qualified instructors, so I am in the process of producing a host of short workouts and resources to help other mothers in a similar position and information sheets about some of the main things you should be avoiding in your pregnancy workouts, in the first few months following birth and beyond. Sign up for the Bump & Baby Newsletter to be updated when these are released later this year.
Me? Well, I am Kate, I am a female fitness instructor, and I come with all the credentials to get you where you want to be with your fitness. But I am also able to judge when you need to ease up on your training or take some time to relax, because if it is the most beneficial thing for you to do that day, I will tell you so and give you alternatives. I also will not be stood at the front of the class in lycra, with a tan and all my makeup and hair coiffed to perfection!
Have a good day/night!
One of my guilty pleasures whilst endlessly breastfeeding, (in addition to Home and Away), was watching Extreme Makeover.
If you haven’t seen the programme, the concept is that they take someone dowdy or quirky looking who has an emotional life story (related to their looks) and follow them as they get taken to be surgically altered and beautified by a team comprising some of the top American plastic surgeons, dentists, hairdressers, personal trainers and designers. In essence they completely overhaul their image within a few short months, also requiring significant reprogramming of their mindset to enable them to cope with the new outer image of their body, and allowing their inner being to ‘catch up’ with the change.
Most people do not want to go through the agony of plastic surgery, but realistically, that is the only way in which you will achieve very fast, extreme, results. Re-moulding your body from the inside out takes time, dedication, a strong will and a lot of really hard work!
I was talking to my friend yesterday as we pushed our prams up the hill on a sunny walk. We were comparing notes on the fact that when you look back at photos taken any time ago, you reminisce about that time, and along with it, all of the insecurities you had at that time. You then start thinking “Gosh, I looked great back then”, or “I was so less wrinkly than I am now!”, “I really shouldn’t have worried what everyone thought about what I looked like in my shorts”, “I should have just got on with things I wanted to do rather than putting them off until I was thinner/fitter/more toned”.
Then you think of yourself at this moment. Here. Now.
You think of all the insecurities you have in this moment. Here. Now.
You contemplate all of the things you are putting off doing, starting or trying because of these insecurities.
You try to imagine what the you of ten years in the future might say if they looked at a snapshot of you in this moment.
What would they say to you?
Would they say “Yeah, you’re right, just stick to the safe stuff and don’t go out to that baby group/exercise class/for a walk/tread the path you want to because you think you look rough, and fat and wobbly and tired”?
Or would they say “Cor, look at you, you’re doing so well! You should go out and meet other people in the same situation as yourself! You just look like you are pregnant/have had a baby and are coping with all the stuff involved in adjusting to the life of a new mum and running a home! You deserve to do whatever you fancy doing, and whatever you do now, you will still be ahead of the people who have chosen not to get out of bed or off the sofa today”.
I have a feeling your inner cheerleading voice would win.
You try to keep that in mind from day-to-day, but it is hard when you just want to be ‘fixed’.
I trained a lady once who had had extensive lower body liposuction (at great expense) and had come for a consultation whilst joining the gym that I was working at. It became apparent that she wasn’t a fan of exercising and was doing even less exercise than ever before following this invasive surgical procedure. She had presumed that having liposuction to reduce the inches on her bottom, stomach, hips and thighs would be the answer to all of her problems. At first she had been overjoyed as the compliments flew in. Over the six months since, she had been left disappointed.
Following her surgery, although happy with the newly trimmer size of her bottom half, and being able to fit into smaller clothes, she noticed that her upper body was starting to fill out with little pockets of fat. This was causing great distress. On questioning her lifestyle, it came to light that she had not altered anything about it. This meant that she was still indulging in all the treats that she enjoyed, and not really taking care to exercise or to build that all important muscle mass to keep her metabolism revving. Basically, she didn’t actually want to do the hard work involved in changing her body, she wanted a quick fix that would last.
It would be wonderful to have a magic wand that would banish the bits of us that we didn’t like as much as the others, sadly it doesn’t quite work like that.
However, the cells throughout your body are constantly renewing. You have a completely ‘new’ body every seven years, but your brain cells aren’t replaced in the same way.
Just ponder about that for a moment.
This means that your thoughts are, in a roundabout way, one of the most important permanent features within your body at any one time. These thoughts can be changed at any moment, especially by taking a different perspective on them. Just like looking back on old photographs.
If you don’t like something you have the power to change it.
Imagine, in seven years your body will be a ‘new’ version of what you have made it, starting in this moment.
So if you want to get your body back in shape after pregnancy, or change it into the best shape that your body can be for the future, you have to start with what you can accomplish in this one moment, today. If that is to change your mental state from contemplation to preparing to take action, then that is a big step for you.
You could take action right at this moment by thinking positively about your current state. If you are pregnant or have been pregnant, your body has undergone some of the most momentous changes possible in a lifetime. It needs nurturing and caring thoughts directed at it. Not self berating thoughts or punishment for doing its job.
I have always loved helping people achieve their fitness goals, whether the goals are small or large, because to the person I am training, those goals are the most important thing on their mind. And that is the important thing to remember. I care about the results that I get for my clients. I go that extra mile to give them the information that will help them attain their goals. I love seeing people making the changes in their lifestyles and becoming, or returning to, the person that they want to be, and feel privileged that I can help along the way. It is not a quick fix.
I will be behind you, being your cheerleader to remind you of how well you are doing (and I won’t make you say whoop whoop in my classes). You do not have to be intimidated in my sessions, because, I have been there myself. I am normal. I too look back on photos and wish I hadn’t complained at that time, and try to start something now. After all, an extreme makeover of your mindcan begin right now!
Hope you have a lovely day/evening.
I love the sound of birdsong at 4am.
No, truthfully I do.
For the third night in a row I am seeing and hearing dawn, after really arduous nights, and it is amazing.
In fact amazing doesn’t do it justice at all. You can’t truly describe the colours and feelings of a dawn (well I can’t because it is something that encompasses all of the senses, even when you thought said senses were numbed from the torture of a crying teething baby!).
Yes, morning can feel like so many things, but to me it can often bring about a sense of relief.
Night time is not often a time to look forward to when you’re pregnant or a new mum. Time becomes slowed, and a crying baby or constant cumbersome turning to try and get comfortable when you have a huge bump can leave you more exhausted than when you clambered in to bed. The feeling of loneliness as you imagine everyone else that you know sleeping soundly, and anger that you will be facing yet another long night coping are sometimes overwhelming.
The dark bits of the night are no stranger to me. When I had M.E. I was pretty much nocturnal for a number of years, and the hours spent in a depressed, aching, frustrated state, unable to get comfortable (even the lightest of clothes or sheets would feel like an attack on my skin) and hearing every drip of a tap (my heightened senses constantly on full alert from incorrectly overestimated adrenaline) were not dissimilar to the past 12 months of pregnancy and the start of motherhood.
I never expected nights with a baby to be easy. Possibly, because I am an older mum at 38 and have many years’ experience of friends and their despairing stories, or the fact that I simply know that a baby is a baby, all are individual and cannot be expected to sleep for hours (my poor mum, I was the same). I wouldn’t even say that it is hard (that goes without saying), but it is something that you’ve made the choice to do, and realistically, partners (if you have one) just don’t get HOW exhausting even one night spent as a pregnant woman or sleep deprived mum can be. So, upsetting to the nth degree that it is, you are often very alone in the dark in the night and that can feel incredibly bleak.
I’ve always marvelled how if you wake up in the night and the wind is howling that it always seems much more frantic and powerful and stirs the emotions more than the same gusts and billows experienced during the daylight hours, which can often be exciting or exhilarating. I’m coming to think the same about my night and daytime experiences of motherhood.
In the darkness, minutes can seem like hours, and when you’re frazzled and haven’t had more than an hours’ uninterrupted sleep in months, it is very hard to think rationally and positively.
At these moments I try to think of how it would feel if the same thing was happening in the endless moment of a calm dawn.
Imagine it now, your most treasured memory of a perfect dawn.
Take a deep breath in and feel the fresh air stream in through your nose and down to fill the deepest parts of your lungs.
Envision the warm dawn hues, soft pinks, peaches, powder puff blues, soaking in to the tissues of your body, filling you with a feeling of contentment and excitement. That same feeling you get when you’re on holiday and wake up every day just knowing that it will be warm and sunny.
Feel your shoulders relax as you breathe out, allowing the tension to ebb away from your neck.
Imagine the birdsong. All those little birds heralding a fresh start, trilling and singing to their heart’s content. A cacophony of joyousness!
You might even want to make this even more powerful by imagining all of the above to your favourite soundtrack. I personally like ‘The Sun Rising’ by the Beloved.
It’s hard to feel quite so pessimistic when you’ve filled yourself with the light and joy of a calm dawn moment.
You can do a quick visualisation at any moment to bring your dark moments in to light. If you’ve never tried, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Visualisations have been immensely beneficial to me throughout my ‘M.E.years’. I will add some links in the near future to the ‘Useful Things’ section.
Have a great day/night!
Since becoming a mother, I have been surprised at how few people actually ask ‘How are you?’ ‘How are you feeling?’.
It appears that you are supposed to be floating around in a little bubble of constant happiness following the birth of your child (and all throughout pregnancy, come to think of it). I know I am guilty of applying general well-meaning commentary to friends in the past. Since experiencing it first hand, however, it is the mum and her emotional and total wellbeing that I am more concerned with when I see a blooming belly or a bouncing baby in someone’s arms.
How many times have you heard people exclaiming ‘oh, what a beautiful baby you have’, ‘how old is he/she?’, ‘you must be thrilled to be pregnant’?
Yes! It is wonderful to have the appreciation of almost anyone that you meet in the street, but sometimes it can be alienating when you just want to scream ‘I was sick 8 times today’ ‘I’ve had no sleep!’ ‘My boobs are sore and my nipples are cracked’ ‘I’m exhausted’. Instead, to save other people’s embarrassment, you simply smile and jolly yourself up (and later have a chocolate biscuit to ease the frustration!). There is also a great deal of judgement and guilt placed on mums-to-be and mums on what they should/should not be doing, especially when it comes to how they look and weight management (and fitting back into your pre-pregnancy clothes).
I am ashamed to say, that many years ago, I had a very simplified view of exercise and how people do/do not adhere to it. I used to feel thoroughly disappointed when clients would stick meticulously to their exercise programmes (lovingly prepared by myself) and then stop suddenly when they became pregnant, or return to the gym following their long awaited birth, only to peter out their training within a short time.
I now know the reasons why from my own experience. I know that people can feel absolutely rotten through pregnancy, that even when the will is so strong, the body is just working so hard to cocoon the new life within that it is exhausted and a sofa looks a much more appealing option at the end of a long day. I know that information and advice on exercise at any stage of pregnancy or postnatally is extremely conflicting, even sometimes from your health professional. I also now know that just getting out of the house when you’ve had no sleep/are breastfeeding or have endless bottle sterilising to do/a mountain of washing/a partner who thinks that all you do all day is sit and look lovingly at your baby/ies sometimes feels like mission impossible!
For all those reasons I know that I have become an even better fitness instructor through my new understanding and empathy. I am here to shout your praise if you get out for a walk, do a gym session, fit in a few exercises whilst your baby has a nap or even contemplate starting a new fitness regime whilst pregnant or after having children (no matter how long ago it was!).
This is why the following piece struck a chord when I saw it doing the rounds on social media, and I think it should be shared with every mother, no matter how old her children. Oh, and I will ask how you are, not judge how well you are by how jolly your baby appears!
Have a lovely day/night, and keep smiling.
“To the mum who’s breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You’re a good mum.
To the mum who’s formula feeding: Isn’t science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn’t produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You’re a good mum.
To the cloth nappy mum: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You’re a good mum.
To the disposable nappy mum: Damn those things hold a lot, and it’s excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You’re a good mum.
To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn’t easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You’re a good mom.
To the mum who works: It’s wonderful that you’re sticking to your career, you’re a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it’s fantastic. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you’re too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You’re feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren’t complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they’re learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You’re a good mum.
To the mum with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can’t run around. You’re a good mum.
To the mum with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: They always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don’t they? We’ve all been through it. You’re a good mum.
Sometimes we all need to hear this, and stop judging each other.
Please share this with all the mummies you know, they may need to hear these words!
This was written by a Midwife.”
I have never really been a fan of handbags.
Researchers have found that the average thirty-year-old woman owns twenty-one handbags and buys a new one every three months. Not me.
Of course, yes, I have had fleeting encounters with them through the years, mainly those that I’ve cheaply picked up in a last-minute shopping effort prior to a night out, a wedding or social function. They have never taken pride of place in my wardrobe, however, and I have never paid more than £20 for any of them, so I can honestly say I am not a bag woman.
In fact, over time, all eight or ten that I have owned have been donated to charity shops, or others who could make better use of them. For the past couple of years I have owned only one. A dark brown leather-like one that my boyfriend won in a raffle (he wanted to choose something else off the table apparently, but his friends, in my absence, suggested the bag might be a better option). Whenever I dig it out of the bottom of my wardrobe, I chuckle to myself as I remember the line by Lady Bracknell in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (a favourite film), when she discovers that Jack was ‘found’ in a handbag. Anyway, that is how I have happily existed. Until Douglas came along.
I felt the panic starting only months in to pregnancy as I used to see mothers with their babies, bags over shoulders, bags on prams, bags under prams, bags on boyfriends/partners, bags in trolleys, bags in cars….bags everywhere. All my friends told me that you HAVE to have a bag once you have a baby, as you just have SO much paraphernalia to lug around with you. I expressed this fear to my dear friend (who is a classy bag lady and always has been) and we discussed at length what’s a girl to do in such a situation? Do you get a really over-the-top girlie bag, as a statement piece? Do you get a man-bag type affair, that will not be cringeworthy for your partner to carry? (hence no excuse for him not carrying it on outings), do you get something achingly fashionable so you still feel in style despite the items it holds? As you can imagine, the latter SO did not apply to me!
I turned to magazines and Mothercare catalogues to see if they offered help, but became bewildered with the choice and ranges available. Who knew it was such an important decision to make?
There indeed is, a style for everyone for every function. They were also far more expensive than I would ever have imagined (even though I have been known to gasp when reading Red magazine and seeing the price tags on their ‘must-have bargain’ of the month).
After a couple more months of pushing the thought to the back of my mind, aforementioned friend rang one day and said that she would like to buy me my baby bag as a present. It was such a relief, as I knew that whatever I chose, if it didn’t pass muster with her, she wouldn’t buy it.
As it happens, it was one of the easiest choices I have ever made (was that the pregnancy hormones?). I happened to be in Boots buying some antenatal vitamins and walked past their baby bag section…..and there it was. I took a photo, sent it to my friend and she agreed it was the most ‘me’ bag that it would be possible to find in the form of a baby bag..
This bag was hand delivered by my friend when Douglas was a few weeks old. I was overjoyed.
I was almost tempted to say I could get in to owning bags, once I had filled it with all the rubbish you need to cart around with a baby. It reminds me of Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, with its endless pockets. It has been used more than any other handbag that I have owned and isn’t far away at any time.
But this bag means far more to me than it being a useful receptacle for baby belongings. It is a sign of true friendship. Of a friend that might have thought she might get pushed out of my life by a certain little person that is all-encompassing, but instead every time I use it, it just demonstrates that our friendship has grown and changed and that she is there to support me at every point in my journey into and through motherhood. I hope that one day I can lend her ‘the handbag’ if she decides to have children of her own. Mind you, I am not sure I shall want to be parted with it, as it will probably be the last handbag I own!
And for those of you who need reminding of the scene from ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, it’s below.
Have a lovely day.
Jack: I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was… well, I was found.
Lady Bracknell: Found?
Jack: Yes. The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a kindly disposition found me and gave me the name of Worthing because he happened to have a first class ticket to Worthing at the time. Worthing is a place in Sussex. It’s a seaside resort.
Lady Bracknell: And where did this charitable gentleman with the first class ticket to the seaside resort find you?
Jack: In a handbag.
Lady Bracknell: [closes eyes briefly] A handbag?
Jack: Yes, Lady Bracknell, I was in a hand bag. A somewhat large… black… leather handbag with handles… to it.
Lady Bracknell: An ordinary handbag.
Lady Bracknell: And where did this Mr. James… or, Thomas Cardew come across this ordinary handbag?
Jack: The cloak room at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for his own…
Lady Bracknell: [Shocked] The cloak room at Victoria Station?
Jack: Yes. The Brighton line.
Lady Bracknell: The line is immaterial.
[begins tearing up notes]
Lady Bracknell: Mr. Worthing. I must confess that I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?
‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are’
Who and what is this blog for? It is for you if…..you are a mum or mum-to-be; pregnant, postnatal or trying to get pregnant.
I will be sharing my personal experiences and thoughts about life as fitness instructor and first time mum, give practical fitness training advice, information and tips and hopefully help other women who find themselves in need of a bit of help and encouragement at this stage in their life.
Oh, and the quote? That is a reminder that it is best to start and get going than procrastinate and never begin something that you want to achieve.
In happiness and health!