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Shake it

I totally feel as if I may go off on a tangent during this post, as I so often do when talking about exercise (it’s been my job for 12 years, I have alot to say). I’ll try to stay on topic, please forgive me if I stray slightly.

So yes, exercise. I am currently doing alot of the stuff. My first sun holiday since my honeymoon 7 years ago, not to mention my first time in a bikini since having two babies (eek!) has made me ramp up my efforts in the last few months.

A general week will include cycling 15 miles to work and back twice a week, a 3 mile run, a Body Attack class and 2 weights sessions. I combine the run with a weights session so I’m at the gym 2-3 times a week.

Now, I’ve been eating ‘clean’ (foods in their natural state i.e. unprocessed) as much as possible a while now (bar a weekend vino or, erm, five and the odd cakey/chocolatey treat thrown in) which has helped with a good amount of fat loss but I want to now ‘sculpt’ and work on my Jenifer Aniston arms (sigh).

As much as I try I don’t think I’m getting enough protein in my diet to fuel the amount of exercise I do. I’m not a massive meat-eater as mentioned in my last post and though I get ample protein to hit the RDA through pulses, grains and nuts, I think I just need a little extra to aid recovery and allow for muscle repair.

So, I read Nicola’s blog with interest this week on Bio-Synergy’s range of sports nutrition for women. I’ve always poo-pooed the idea of supplementation, believing that we can get everything we need from our diet but since upping the ante on my training I’m finding myself constantly hungry and having to fight the urge as I try to lose fat.

Also, I train early in the mornings. I leave the house often before 6:30am and even I (greedy) can’t face breakfast early enough to digest it for this time. After reading the gumpf on the products I wonder if a protein-based drink before I train could make a difference to not only my performance but also how fast I recover.

A product which caught my eye is their Activate powder, a protein-based shake which provides slow-burning energy, some essential vitamins and minerals and that all-important protein (which promotes satiety). Recommended use is before a workout or between meals when the hunger pangs strike. So far, sounding so good.

So I ordered me a tub of Activate and await my delivery with anticipation as to whether it makes a difference or not. What say you, readers? Has anyone tried supplementation? I’d love to hear your experiences as I envision myself swanning around Barcelona, svelte (ha!) and tanned (sunburned) enjoying the results (please?) of this (bloody) hard work.


A pain in the, er, back

Lately, my Twitter timeline has been full of people talking about back pain. Perhaps because I follow alot of people with young children (back-cripplers), who knows?

My husband and I run a back pain studio and I’m finding it really hard not to pimp out the business to my pain-riddled followers. Bad business sense? Perhaps, but the Twitter account in question is a personal one and I don’t want my followers to feel obliged to make an appointment or that something is being pushed on them.

So I thought instead, I’d just add a wee post for any of you who do suffer to give advice on how to manage back pain, the best ways to prevent it and who to see if it all gets too much.

Your best defence against back pain is strength. If you can get to a Pilates or core-strengthening class, you’re on your way to a stronger back which gives greater support to the spine and reduces vulnerability to injury. Better still, if you can it’s well worth going to see a specialist sports therapist, rehab professional or physio (even if it’s just one session) to get a specific core-based exercise programme.

Work on ‘activating’ your core each time you lift your child, twist or move with weight. Read here on how to do this.

Avoid twisting to lift or put down your child/something of significant weight. Stand straight on, keep your back straight and bend your knees.

A hot bath and ibuprofen can work wonders for short-term back pain.

If you get pain down your legs, there’s a chance you may have a prolapsed (slipped) disc. See a chiropractor or osteopath if this is the case.  If there is no prolapse, it could be tight muscles in your buttocks causing the problem. A good sports or deep tissue massage can see to this.

Sports or deep tissue massages are amazing for easing pain and tension. I’m not just saying that because it’s my job, honest.

Stay active. The more mobile you are, the less chance you have of seizing up and causing further damage. Keep walking, keep moving but know your limits and listen to your body.

If you don’t already, exercise. If you have a long-term back problem, seek advice from a physio or sports therapist before you do but exercise keeps us strong, supple and our joints mobile. Even if it’s just a 20 minute walk each day, it’s all good.

If you push a pram with an adjustable handle, make sure it’s not so low that you’re stooping over.

So, there we have it. I hope that helps some of you and please feel free to comment if you have any questions. Good luck!

I would walk 500 miles

I read today that 60% of us make a resolution to lose weight in the new year. I’m not usually one of those, I try to keep active throughout the year and am lucky that my shape remains pretty constant.

This year however, I have a goal. My brother is getting married in Barcelona this summer and it will involve an (eek!) pool party. I’ve not squished myself into a bikini since my honeymoon. 7 Years older and 2 children later I’m not exactly confident about prancing around in a two-piece without a bit of, um, sculpting going on.

I listed my aims for the year earlier this week and included a goal to be more active with this in mind. Joanna had a fabulous idea of setting herself a set mileage each day to run, or walk if that’s not possible.

I love this idea and it would be brilliant if I could run each day but, with a husband who is away from 6am-10pm each day and no childcare (bar an expensive creche at the gym which is rationed to once a week) I don’t think I’d manage.

Getting into running in the last year and long walks with this guy…

…have made me appreciate how rewarding exercising outdoors can be. If 8 years previously working as a personal trainer taught me anything it’s that the most successful people in terms of inch-loss and exercise adherence are those who do something they enjoy.

I walk roughly 4 miles a day at the moment to let off the endless labrador-energy harnessed by the above hound. It’s easy, cheap and I can take the kids along too. This is fine to keep things ticking over but the time has come to up the ante and shift the last stubborn inches clinging on for dear life.

So, I’ve set myself a (rather ambitious) challenge of covering 50 miles a week which I can walk, run, cycle or swim to achieve.  It sounds alot now as I’m typing it but with the walks, cycling to work and some runs and swims thrown in, I think I can do it. It’ll be a challenge but that’s the point, right?

So, picturing myself lounging around the pool in the Spanish sunshine, sipping chilled champagne, I embark on this challenge. 16 Miles covered so far this week I have some catching up to do but am confident I can do it. Anyone want to have a go too?