Strengthening Your Butt After Childbirth

I gave birth four months ago and have started exercising recently. I am really shocked how weak my body has become. Pregnancy placed more stress on my body than I ever thought possible. One of the changes is to your posture as it adapts to your growing belly by tightening your lower back muscles and weakening your butt, tummy and back of your legs (hamstring muscles).  After childbirth it is likely that your butt is much weaker than before. My butt is extremely weak following pregnancy to the extent that initially I could only manage a 20 second body weight bridge.

 

Exercises I am doing to strengthen my butt include:

  • Body weight pole squats
  • Deadlifts with light weight
  • Bridge with body weight
  • Swiss ball leg curls

I have selected these exercises as I can do them at home and they do not overly challenge my stability. As your tummy muscles are really weak you are likely to be more unstable when you exercise so try to modify your training regime to take this on-board. The amount of relaxin you have circulating in your body following childbirth is another reason to be cautious of certain exercises which are too challenging on your balance. Relaxin is a hormone circulating throughout your body whilst pregnant and for 6 months after childbirth. The hormone relaxes your ligaments and joints. This is great for childbirth but not conducive to intense training. I had excessive relaxin whilst pregnant with pregnancy hormones 3.5 times higher than normal and I still feel the relaxin in my body. This rules out running and anything which is too challenging for my stability just now. My pelvis still feels extremely loose.

 

Exercises I am avoiding include:

  • Barbell Squats
  • Donkey kicks
  • Sumo squats

I am avoiding these exercises because my pelvis is still extremely loose and unstable. By strengthening my tummy muscles and waiting until my joints are more stable I should be able to get back to these exercises, running, and more intense training.

Regaining my Flat Tummy after Childbirth

My son is three months old and beautiful. However, I now have a ‘mummy tummy’. I used to have a six-pack and I am keen to get it back, however, I feel I have to be patient. Realistically it might take nine months to regain my abs.
In the third trimester I developed pubic symphysis dysfunction which meant that it was painful to walk. The ligaments in my pelvis had too much relaxin which meant that the pelvic bone was not stable. Even now, three months after giving birth if I am too active I can feel pain from the pelvis being unstable. It takes six months or so for the body to be free of the relaxin after giving birth. I have to be cautious until my body has fully recovered. It is funny to see people advertising boot camps for new mums with lots of stretching and intense aerobic exercise — really, are you sure? I don’t think so.
I am expressing breast milk for my son and trying to eat really healthily. That feels the right thing to do, and something I like doing. However, it means I need to eat properly and enough. Cutting back on what I am eating is going to reduce my son’s milk supply. It doesn’t matter what people say to the contrary, it does reduce your milk supply. The good thing about expressing is you can see how much milk your baby is getting. When he is six months old he will start to eat food as well as drink breast milk so I have to wait until he is a bit older to diet.
I always strived to have the most healthy pregnancy and birth. I wanted to have a water birth at the local birthing centre, shunning a hospital birth. The reality was a c-section at the local hospital. This has left my lower abdominal muscles ridiculously weak. It is going to take a lot of work to regain the strength I used to have.
After having a c-section you can lose lots of blood, and after the operation my iron levels were ridiculously low. This meant that I felt really exhausted after he was born. I still feel really tired as not having a decent nights sleep in three months does catch up with you. So, I think you need to be patient and kind to yourself after having a baby. You need to focus on recovering and conserving your energy for the first few months.
I have just started to train at the gym when I can, which is just three times a week. The exercises I am doing to regain my abdominal tone include:

Tummy Suck on all Fours progressing to Plank on Knees - I started off managing to do 20 second tummy sucks on all fours and that was challenging. Then I moved onto the plank on the knees which I could do for 20 seconds. Now I can do a 2 minute plank on the knees. I used to manage a 15 minute full plank, so I’ve lost lots of strength.
Cycling for Lower Abs – My lower abs are ridiculously weak just now and I can’t do full cycling for lower abs. My muscles are too weak just now to lower my legs almost down to the ground. However, I am focusing on this, and I am sure it will get stronger. The muscle has been cut with the c-section so it will be weak, I just didn’t expect it to be quite so weak.
Standing Side Bends – I am keeping the weight really light just now and doing 20 reps on each side. It feels good to be exercising again!
Swiss Ball Curls – I am doing a few curls over the swiss ball for upper abs, although my focus is on strengthening my lower abs.
Opposite Hand and Leg on all Fours  – I am strengthening my lower back gently with this exercise.

After having a baby you realise you need to train at least three times a week to make any difference to your overall strength and fitness level.
When my son is six months old I will start to diet and train almost daily as I plan to have an au-pair then to help look after him. It should be easier at this point to regain my abs as he will not be solely drinking breast milk and this means I can diet to lose the baby fat. Also by then I am hoping I will have no relaxin in my body, so I will be able to train more intensely. Let’s see how I get on. :)

6 Secrets to Fitness Success

Set Goals
If you want to succeed with your fitness you need good goals. Good goals are SMART. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. Without well thought out goals, you are unlikely to achieve them. The more specific you can be with your goal, the better. You can create several goals around your fitness and lifestyle.

An example of an effective goal: “To lose 3 stone of weight before November 2013 by training 3-4 times a week for one hour”

An example of an ineffective goal: “To lose weight”

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” Fitzhugh Dobson

Train Consistently
Try and make your fitness regime part of your weekly routine, and prioritise your training sessions. If you skip weeks of training just because your social life is getting in the way you will achieve very little. Schedule training sessions into your diary at a time you are most likely to be free, and just stick to it. You should aim to train 3-4 times a week to get the best results.

Give Yourself Some Slack
Not many people can change overnight. In reality, it can take anywhere from 18-224 days to make a new behaviour an ingrained habit. It takes this time as behavioural change involves physical changes in the brain. How long it takes to create a new habit depends upon the person, and how much of a shift they have to make. Before the new habit is ingrained you might experience more resistance to your new fitness regime. Remind yourself this is normal. Over time, your new healthier habit will crystallise.

“Start doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St Francis of Assisi

Only Focus on Positive
Many people set themselves up to fail by viewing everything to do with their fitness negatively. This is a sure fire way to give up and fail. What you think and speak, you attract. When you speak negative, you attract negativity. When you speak positively, you attract positivity. Simply choose to try and replace all your negative thoughts and words with positive words and thoughts; it is as simple as that. For example, if you are used to saying “I am so lazy” replace that with “I have so much energy”. If you feel you could become more positive, why not post wee post-it-notes around your living space with positive messages?

Overcome Hurdles
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball, and this can attempt to throw you off-track with your fitness. Think about how you would deal with possible scenarios, so if they materialise you will know how to deal with them, so they never become hurdles. For example, imagine you are going on holiday for three weeks. You would want to think about how you can keep up your exercise regime on holiday so your strength and fitness doesn’t slip. Some hurdles we can’t avoid in advance, life is like that. However, by adopting a rational approach to your fitness, and not striving for perfection, you can overcome any hurdle. It all comes down to making a commitment to your training, and perseverance. If you experience a setback you just experienced a setback. You just keep on going and recognise that setbacks are part of life, and that you are doing okay. You don’t have to feel guilty or a failure, you just need to stay as positive as you can.

“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” Chinese proverb

Get Support from Other People
It is important that you get support from people around you, so you can share your progress. Maybe you can get them involved in exercising with you? You could also employ a personal trainer. A trainer will help you achieve your goals as they have the necessary experience and skill. This saves you endless stress trying to work out what to do, and wondering if what you are doing is effective.

Why its Hard to Gain Muscle with a High Paced Life

Over the years some people have come to train with me who really struggle to add muscle. These people have low muscle mass, and even with a good training program, they find it hard to add muscle. Some of these people come back from a relaxing holiday stronger than when they left. Of course, that really isn’t a good sign.

One common reason for this is the stress hormone, cortisol, being out of balance in their bodies. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands which controls our bodies’ reaction to stress. The hormone also regulates blood pressure, fat distribution, glucose levels, muscle building, protein synthesis, immune function, and hormone balance.

If we experience intense or long term stress, your body’s production of cortisol can easily become imbalanced. When this happens, we have what is referred to as adrenal fatigue. Around 80% of people will suffer from adrenal fatigue at some point in their lives, but it is a condition that is misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

One of the main symptoms of adrenal fatigue is suffering from constant fatigue that is not relieved by rest and sleep. People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.

If you have been trying to build muscle for a while, and are feeling a bit let down by your results, it could be because your cortisol levels are simply too high. While testosterone helps build muscle, cortisol breaks down muscle. I would recommend at the outset to get your cortisol levels measured, this can save a lot of wasted time in the gym.

Get your hormones tested. Contact a functional diagnostic nutritionist for an adrenal stress test. The test measures the amount of cortisol in your saliva at four regular points over a single day. The test is relatively inexpensive and pinpoints what the best route is to restore your health. The results will also highlight the extent to which your adrenals are exhausted.

Exercise sensibly. Exercise is important for people with adrenal fatigue, but you need to pick the right type of exercise depending on how exhausted your adrenals are. Ultimately you want to exercise until you feel slightly fatigued, not exhausted. Learn to listen to what is comfortable for your body. Completely avoid intense aerobic exercise. If your adrenals are extremely exhausted it is better to practice relaxation exercises rather than gym training, as it will probably be too draining for your body. If you are not sure how to train sensibly, find a personal trainer to work with you.

Get more sleep. The ideal time to go to sleep is 10pm as the body deals with its physical repair from 10pm to 2am. From 2am to 6am the body is dealing with psychological repair. Therefore, I would suggest going to bed at 10pm and getting up after 6am. If this feels an impossible task right now, you can go to sleep 15 minutes early every week until you get to 10pm. On days when you are not working aim to sleep until at least 9am.

Learn to relax. Most people I work with have to learn how to relax. We live in a society where we have to be seen to be achieving and succeeding. This places people under a lot of pressure. However, you also need rest and relaxation time to recharge. Everyone has five minutes a day to practice relaxation. Good exercises include qi gong, tai chi, and meditation. Over time it will be easier to relax as you become able to switch off for periods of the day.

Very Good Reasons Not to Run a Marathon

I have never run a marathon, nor taken part in a triathlon. I never will. This tends to surprise people who view taking part in these events as something honorable, or necessary to do to ‘prove’ how fit they really are, almost like it represents the pinnacle of fitness. Of course, this is quite absurd. It conjures up an image of some celebrity running The London Marathon in flimsy plimsolls. I just don’t get it. The reason I have this complete lack of interest in extreme training is the negative impact it can have on the body. Unfortunately, the TV presenter Andrew Marr suffered a stroke after an extra intense bout of exercise, intense enough to tear an artery. Even more worryingly, it turns out he had already had two undiagnosed strokes. Of course exercise is very good for you, but at the right intensity for your fitness ability. Then your health should improve, not be damaged.

Damage to the Heart
There is some research that suggests that heart muscle is damaged by extreme endurance exercise. The research suggests that this type of exercise causes a rise in blood levels of cardiac troponins, chemicals which only show up when the heart muscle is damaged. A chemical called brain natriueretic peptide (BNP), a red flag for cardiac dysfunction, also goes up after long distance endurance events. Fluctuations in these chemical levels might be short lived, but their effects can last a lot longer.

Heart Attacks
Other research suggests that platelets (cells that are involved in blood clotting) are more likely to form the clots that trigger heart attacks after vigorous or lengthy exercise. This video clip highlights the drawbacks to intense endurance exercise really well.

Adopt Sensible Exercise Habits

  • Give your body the rest it needs to fully recover in-between workouts
  • Don’t train until you are wiped out, stop training when you feel slightly fatigued
  • Don’t increase the volume of your training by more than 10% each time
  • Learn to listen to your body, if it feels wrong, it probably is
  • Adopt a healthy attitude towards your training, not one which is all-or-nothing
  • Focus on promoting your health rather than fitness, the two are not necessarily synonymous
  • Employ a personal trainer if you are not sure if your exercise is too extreme or unhealthy

 

Dying for Your Bowl of Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it kick-starts your metabolism after fasting overnight, and sets you up for the day. A healthy breakfast should contain all the macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) in the right balance, along with a good dose of bio-available vitamins and minerals.

Many people eat boxed breakfast cereals in the belief that they are healthy and nutritious. They couldn’t be further from the truth. Boxed breakfast cereals are some of the most toxic unhealthy foods you could possibly buy. We need to change our breakfast options, ditching the boxed breakfast cereals for real food.

Better breakfast options might include smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with tomatoes, or bacon and eggs, or full fat Greek yoghurt and a small portion of organic muesli. A good breakfast should sustain you until lunchtime and give you energy.

The main issues I have with boxed breakfast cereals include:

  • Highly processed
  • Protein and fat deficient
  • High in refined sugar
  • Contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Contain synthetic vitamins and minerals

To gain more sense for how healthy boxed breakfast cereals are, I looked at four popular boxed breakfast cereals available in the UK: Frosties, Weetabix, Cheerios, and Special K. I looked at their ingredients (see the list below) and also the ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in each cereal (see the table below). I think all four cereals are broadly similar in terms of how healthy they are. People pick Cheerios, Special K, and Weetabix because they think they are healthier. In reality, all of these cereals are extremely unhealthy.

1. Highly processed

All four boxed breakfast cereals are highly processed. You could say the processing renders the cereals dead, providing no real nutrition. Most breakfast cereals are made through a process called extrusion. Extrusion is a process where the grains are heated to a high temperature and pressure. This leads to the proteins in the grains becoming completely denatured and toxic. There is a saying that it would be healthier to eat the cereal’s cardboard box than the cereal itself. This might actually be true!

2. Protein and fat deficient

All the breakfast cereals were excessively high in carbohydrate and virtually deficient in protein and fats.  The amount of protein varied from 5-14% of the macronutrients. A better balance would be 35-75% depending upon your Metabolic Type©. All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in your body. Better forms of sugar include fruit and vegetables. We all need essential fats in our diet, so fat is not something anyone should cut out entirely. Good sources of essential fats are nuts, seeds, oily fish, and avocados. Good sources of protein include beef, chicken, pork, fish, nuts, seeds, cheese, and eggs. Try and incorporate these good quality sources of protein into your breakfast so you are not running short on protein otherwise your body might have to breakdown some muscle to use as a protein source.

3. High in refined sugar

All the cereals contained refined sugar as one of the main ingredients. Frosties was the main culprit with a whopping 37% of sugar. There is no nutritional benefit of refined sugar. In fact, it is an anti-nutrient which means it robs your body of nutrients.

4. Source of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Shockingly, all the cereals contained ingredients which included MSG. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a flavour enhancer added to many foods you eat, most commonly known as an addition to Chinese food. The two ingredients in the cereals which included MSG were Malted Barley and Wheat Starch. The reason I am so shocked all the cereals contained MSG is the potential damage it can do to your health. MSG overexcites our nervous system which can lead to the death of brain cells. Not only can it lead to brain damage and nervous disorders it can also lead to radical hormone fluctuations. The hormone fluctuations can lead to obesity, inactivity, and other hormonal issues.

The addition of these ingredients also makes the cereal quite addictive for some people as it tastes so good. This might explain why some people are reluctant to give up their daily breakfast cereal. However, it is still important to switch to a healthier and more balanced breakfast.

5. Synthetic vitamins and minerals

All the cereals were fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, these are synthetic and of questionable quality. For example, iron is toxic to the body when in oversupply. Nobody should be supplementing iron unless they have a definite deficiency. Other synthetic vitamins which which have been questioned in the past include vitamin D and Folic Acid. Also, manufacturers use cheap synthetic vitamins and minerals which might not be effectively absorbed in your body. You would be better off making a fresh vegetable juice to have along with your breakfast to provide these nutrients. If making a fresh juice is simply not possible, you could buy one from Pret a Manger who have recently started to sell them.

Percentage of Macronutrients in Select Boxed Breakfast Cereals (UK version):

. Weetabix Special K Frosties Cheerios
Carbohydrate 84 88 94 85
Protein 14 10 5 10
Fat 2 2 1 5

List of ingredients in Select Boxed Breakfast Cereals (UK version):

Weetabix:

Wholegrain Wheat (95%), Malted Barley Extract, Sugar, Salt, Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid.

Cheerios:

Whole Grain oats, Whole Grain wheat, Whole Grain barley, Whole Grain Rice, Whole Grain Maize, Sugar, Wheat Starch, Partially Inverted Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Colours: Caramel, Annatto, Caroten, Antioxidant: Tocopherals,Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin (B1), Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Calcium Carbonate, Iron

Special K:

Rice, Wholewheat, Sugar, Barley, Malted Barley Flour, Barley Malt Flavouring, Salt, Vitamin C, Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12.

Frosties:

Maize, Sugar, Barley Malt Flavouring, Salt. Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12

References:

  • http://www.kelloggs.co.uk/en_GB/frosties.html
  • http://www.weetabix.co.uk/products/cereals/weetabix#titleNutritionalInformation
  • http://www.specialk.co.uk/en_gb/products/whole-grain-cereals/original.html
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/025066_MSG_FDA_the.html
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/16/Dont-Rely-on-Fortified-Foods.aspx
  • http://editor.nourishedmagazine.com.au/articles/puffed-grains-should-we-eat-them
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/16/Dont-Rely-on-Fortified-Foods.aspx
  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2107361/Sugary-breakfast-cereals-1-Britains-leading-consumer-experts-reveals-shocking-truth.html
  • http://www.foodrenegade.com/msg-dangerous-science/+

The Benefits of Juicing with Passionate About Fitness

When you don’t get enough of the nutrients you need for good health, you run the risk of becoming malnourished. These nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. This is a concern if you have lived on processed foods and McDonalds, or what is commonly referred to as the Standard American Diet (SAD).

The impact of this SAD diet is that more than 75% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. [1] This is something to be concerned about as vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of bone conditions such as osteomalacia, as well as autoimmune diseases, certain cancers and obesity.

Another common deficiency is magnesium with 72% of Americans deficient in magnesium [2]. After calcium, magnesium is the most important mineral in our bodies. Magnesium regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body, the most important of which produce, transport, store and utilise energy.

Zinc deficiency is quite common in the developing world. Even in the United States, about 12% of the population is probably at risk of zinc deficiency, and perhaps as many as 40% of the elderly. [3] Zinc is important for a healthy immune system.

After ditching smoking, the most important thing you can do for your health is to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. [4] Most of us only eat three portions, and one in five of us virtually none. This malnourishment can have long term consequences. For example, one piece of fruit a day is enough to lower heart disease risk by 20 per cent. Also, five weekly servings of red fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes and watermelon, can lower lung cancer risk by a quarter [5].

But with the soil becoming more depleted of nutrients due to intensive agricultural practices, the fruit and vegetables we eat today are not nearly as nutritious as they once were. One study found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19%, iron 22%, and potassium 14% over a 50 year period (1930-1980) [6]. Another study concluded that you would have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have got from just one. You get the picture.

Juicing is a great solution to overcome any nutrient deficiencies as you can easily consume more fruit and vegetables in a quick and simple way.

When you juice fruit or vegetables the fibre is removed and you are just left with the juice. Whereas in the past I thought of this as a bad thing, now I realise this is ideal as it makes it much easier for our bodies to digest. This means your body absorbs more of the nutrients. It is said to only take fifteen minutes for the nutrients to reach your cells after drinking the juice. That is incredible.

I become interested in juicing after exploring the work of Max Gerson. Max Gerson was a German doctor who cured himself of illness by juicing, and taking coffee enemas to remove toxic waste from his liver. That was in the 1950s, today his daughter, Charlotte Gerson, runs a health institute in Mexico following his health principles. Charlotte is 91 years old and is in great health, exactly what you would expect. People from all around the world travel to her health institute in Mexico with terminal illnesses, and many are cured with good nutrition through juicing, and again coffee enemas. The success they have is astounding.

Some people prefer to take vitamin supplements instead of juicing. The problem is that even the most complete supplement cannot match the nutritional complexity of a fresh fruit and vegetable juice.

How to Juice

To begin juicing you will need to buy a juicer. As you are just starting out I would just opt for a middle priced machine. You can check out different ones online. I selected one where I could juice whole apples and this really works for me as it saves any chopping.

My favourite fruits and vegetables to juice include:

• Carrots
• Apples
• Cucumber
• Beetroot
• Kale
• Romaine Lettuce
• Chard
• Ginger
• Lemon
• Pear
• Spinach
• Orange
• Limes

I would recommend to start off with foods you feel comfortable with, and to take it from there. If you have any sugar imbalance issues, it would be better to stick to green juices as they shouldn’t prove a challenge for your body.

Where possible, opt for organic produce as they are likely to be higher in nutrition as the soil is not affected by pesticides and fertilisers. Ideally you want to buy from local organic farmers. If your foods are not organic you can wash your fruits and vegetables with a natural rinse to remove any pesticide or other chemical residue. You can make your own rinse by mixing equal amounts of white vinegar and water. Then, soak your fruits and vegetables in the solution for a minute or two, and rinse.

The next step is to juice the vegetables and fruit, which you should find really straightforward. I would recommend drinking your juice immediately, as this maintains its nutritional value.

I tried to persuade my parents to start juicing, and the one thing that stopped them was the perception that it was too messy and difficult. This can’t be further from the truth. As long as you clean your juicer immediately after you finish juicing, it is really simple.

Add juicing into your daily routine instead of replacing it. You can’t replace your meals with juices as they don’t contain enough protein, fats, and fibre. Juicing is a great way to promote your health, so why not give it a try?

Easy Juicing Tips

• Buy a juicer where you can juice whole apples to save unnecessary chopping
• Keep the juicer out on your kitchen worktop and not stuck away at the back of your cupboard
• Get an organic vegetable box delivered straight to your front door
• Aim to juice daily and make sure you buy enough fruits and vegetables to last the entire week
• Wash the juicer immediately after you use it

________________________________________
References
[1] Archives of Internal Medicine study 2009
[2] Gallup research study, 1995
[3] http://www.naturalnews.com/028404_zinc_health.html
[4] UK Department of Health
[5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-95080/The-health-benefits-juicing.html
[6] British Food Journal study.

Body Myths A Battle of the Sexes

Which sex is being deceived the most by urban myths? I have listed the top myths I hear and see people holding onto which are completely unfounded. I have also highlighted which sex I feel is being deceived the most by each set of myths. Which of these urban myths do you hold onto? Now is the time to let go of any self-limiting beliefs.

Female Body Myths Male Body Myths Biggest Lie
If you train with weights you will bulk up You don’t need to warm-up before your training Female
The only way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more Having a spotter is good for lifting (far too) heavy weights Female
Eating fatty foods will make you fat The louder you grunt when lifting weights the harder you are working Female
If you are slim you don’t need to exercise No weight is too heavy Female
Training with weights is just for men Stretching is just for women Female
You will get fatter as you get older You need to use a belt to provide support when lifting really heavy weights Female
Sweating in the gym is a big no-no for women Yoga and Pilates are too easy options Female
You just need to do cardio to lose weight Creatine supplements are necessary if you are taking your training seriously Female
Training every day is essential for it to be effective The ‘cut and paste’ approach to fitness works. This refers to cutting out a fitness program from Men’s Health magazine and following it religiously Equal
The weight on the scales is the most important indicator of how good you look naked You should train through pain or injuries Equal
Practising Tai Chi and Qigong are useless for weight loss Protein shakes (alone) will increase your muscle size Equal
When you are pregnant you need to stop training Winning is more important than the taking part Male
Comparing yourself to other women gives you a sense of perspective Just train one part of your body the part that shows off your physique best Male
You need to obsess about your weight You don’t need to look after your body you can get off with being ‘well-rounded’ Male

If you unclear why any of these points are myths, please feedback your views.

Forward Head Posture

This is a photo of Tina, a new client. You can see that her head is carried too far forward from her shoulders, normal is when a plumb line runs from the centre of your ear to the centre of your shoulder. Tina has Forward Head Posture, one of the most common postural problems we see today.

Impact of a Forward Head Posture

  • Muscoskeletal system,
  • Reduced oxygen supply
  • Nerve impingement
  • Reduced lung capacity

Impaired Muscoskeletal System

For every inch your head moves forwards, it gains ten pounds in weight, as far as the muscles in your upper back and neck are concerned, because they have to work that much harder to keep the head from dropping onto your chest. This can lead to:

  • Upper Crossed Syndrome – As your head moves forward, your centre of gravity shifts. To compensate for this shift your upper body drifts backward. And this leads to muscle tightness in your chest
  • Lower Crossed Syndrome – To compensate for this upper body shift, this can lead to a shift in your lower body resulting in Lower Crossed Syndrome. This includes a tight lower back, weak stomach muscles, and leg muscle imbalances.
  • Chronic pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Disc herniation or ‘slipped disc’
  • Deterioration of the joints
  • Neck arthritis
  • Upper Thoracic Hump, which can devolve into Dowager Hump

Nerve Impingement

Nerves at the base of your skull and neck can become impinged (or trapped) as the muscles tighten. This can lead to tension-type headaches, tingling and numbness in the arms, and facial pain.

Reduced Oxygen Supply to the Brain

Oxygen supply can be reduced from the heart to the brain as blood flow via the main arteries is constricted around the neck. This can lead to migraines, epileptic seizures, memory loss, and poor balance.

Reduced Lung Capacity

Lung capacity can be reduced by up to 30%. This is because the action of a muscle which contributes towards respiration can be blocked by the Forward Head Posture. This can lead to heart and vascular disease.

How do I Know if I have a Forward Head Posture?

You can test whether you have Forward Head Posture yourself. To do this, stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels 2-4 inches from the baseboard. With your bottom touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your neck and the wall. If you can get within two inches at the neck, you are close to having good posture. If not, your neck posture is protruding forward and is subject to deterioration of the joints and discs.

How can I Correct my Forward Head Posture?

  •  Become aware of how you are holding your head, and how you should be holding it.
  •  Implement a corrective exercise plan to stretch the tight muscles (chest, neck, upper back) and strengthen the weak muscles (mid-back muscles)
  • Make changes to how you sit at your desk
  • Avoid sleeping with too many pillows
  • Employ a certified personal trainer to work with you who can assess and help correct your posture
  • If you have a severe Forward Head Posture you could consult a chiropractor for treatment

It is important to look at correcting your Forward Head Posture, left untreated it can get worse.

5 Hot Reasons Why Every Woman Should Lift Weights

It feels like there is so much anxiety amongst women about lifting weights. Women feel it is a very masculine way to exercise and instead opt for Zumba, yoga, or aerobics classes. Women feel lifting weights will turn them into men with big muscles, and that they will lose their curves. I used to be part of that brigade until I started to train with weights and found out this was a myth. The truth is lifting heavy weights will create a much better looking body for most women. You don’t have to lose your curves. You won’t look masculine. That is a total lot of rubbish. Men and women’s hormonal profile is so different, and this is what determines the amount of muscle you can add. Men pack on more muscle than women as they naturally have more testosterone, a hormone. It is virtually impossible for a woman to bulk up like a man, we are just not designed like that. Thank goodness. Female bodybuilders bulk up because they inject testosterone. So, what are the benefits of women lifting weights?

 

Create a More Attractive Body

Lifting heavy weights builds a toned body, which to me is more attractive than a fat or emaciated body. What do you think? Gone are the days of women aspiring to be stick-thin and boyish looking. If you want to have a toned body the only real way of doing this is to lift heavy weights. Some women weigh very little but their body fat percentage is high because they have such little muscle. These women have bingo wings and muffin tops, not very hot. If you build some muscle and you weigh around the same weight on the scales your body is going to look smaller, not larger, as muscle is more compact then fat.

 

Reduce Your Fat

Muscle burns twenty-five times more calories than fat, and even burns calories while you are asleep. In fact, every pound of muscle uses 35 to 50 calories a day. So if you build ten pounds of extra muscle, your metabolic rate increases by 350 to 500 calories a day. This is huge, and a great way to lose the extra spare tyre. Also, by lifting weights whilst following a calorie controlled diet you are more likely to hold onto your muscle and lose mainly fat. Muscle keeps your metabolism high.

 

Improve Overall Fitness

Lifting weights increases your overall fitness. This is because the stronger you are the better your body will perform in daily activities, including other sports. For example, stronger legs will help you run faster.

 

Build Stronger Bones

Just like muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, bone becomes stronger and denser when you regularly place demands upon it. Lifting weights is one of the best types of exercise for building strong bones. Having strong bones helps prevent osteoporosis and fractures in later years. This might seem unimportant in your youth, but you want to keep your body hot and not let it slip into disrepair.

 

Create a Youthful Body

Lifting weights helps your body age slower. Lifting weights has a beneficial impact on the ten biomarkers of aging. The biomarkers include body composition, blood lipids, blood pressure, blood glucose control, cardiorespiratory fitness, aerobic capacity, bone density, strength and muscle mass, and gene expression and telomere length. The earlier you begin lifting weights and the more consistent you are, the greater your long-term rewards. Having an active lifestyle is really an investment in your future well-being. Over the longer term, lifting weights keeps your body functionally fit.

 

What is the Ideal Amount of Muscle for a Woman?

It is good to establish your muscle mass before you start lifting weights, as it provides a baseline. Some more sophisticated Tanita scales can give you this information. If you train consistently you can add ¼ pound to ½ pound of muscle each week. You need to be in calorie excess for this to happen though. I consider the following amounts of muscle good, average, and poor for most women:

  •     Exceptional– 7.7 stone
  •     Good – 7 stone
  •     Average – 6.7 stone
  •     Poor – 6 stone
  •     Awful – 5.7 stone

Tips on How to Add Muscle

I have written another article on how to add muscle mass, you can check it out. Muscle really is a girl’s best friend. Gone are the days of soft wobbly women’s bodies, and in are toned and lean functional bodies designed to stay hot for decades, not just for years. If you want a hot body you need to lift heavy.
Contact Lorna

Lorna is a personal trainer in London. If you are a woman who would like to start training with weights but not sure how to, contact Lorna today.