Meditation and Happiness —

26 Apr

Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool for processing emotions, alleviating stress and also for boosting happiness. The latter of these concepts may not be one that you have connected to meditation before, but with regular meditation you are highly likely to soon feel your happiness grow. Happiness & Relaxation When you spend an ample amount […]

via Meditation and Happiness —


Eat fat to get thin?

26 May

The Press has gone bonkers for the latest advice on low-fat diets being bad for us this week.


The Guardian”Official advice on low-fat diet and cholesterol is wrong, says health charity”

The Telegraph “‘Eat fat to get thin’: Official diet advice is ‘disastrous’ for obesity fight, new report warns”

The Daily Mail “Now experts say low fat diets are BAD for us: Obesity charity claims we should stop counting calories and eat more healthy fats – but the Government brands advice ‘irresponsible'”

So who is right? Does anyone think, here we go again?

I would think the advice of the diet where we are encouraged to eat more fat, cut carbohydrates and ignore our calorie intake could be equally as damaging, as the advice to eat low fat, high sugar diets which have been pushed for the past 10 or so years.  Especially in the hands of the everyday normal person, who doesn’t necessarily understand a saturated v’s an unsaturated v’s a monounsaturated fat.

Surely a diet where we eat natural, unprocessed foods, and a good variety of them, where we eat complex carbohydrates, rather than simple carbohydrates, and we moderate our portion control is the healthiest option?

Do we not stick to the old adage “a little of what you fancy does you good?”

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Primark coming up trumps 

4 May

Mint bubble hem top

Do you feel good in nice new gym gear? I know I do. I want to go to the gym, I want to work out that bit harder. I feel more motivated. 

Like anything, it’s nice to feel you look good. Even when you’re getting hot and sweaty at the gym. I have been known to use a new gym top or new leggings as a reward. It’s a catch 22. You set yourself a new goal, achieve it, buy some new swanky leggings that you feel great in, chuck out those old slightly faded, baggy at the knees leggings, and the best bit is you then can’t wait to your next workout. Bonus!

So a few weeks ago when I was perusing through primark I stumbled across some fabulous bubble hem tops. They are racer back, nice and long in the body, with elasticated bubble hem. I love them. They hide all multitude of mummy tummy sins. And they are lovely and cool and lightweight too, and come in a variety of colours.  I got a fab bright orange one, I can’t find it in the website, but I have found this lovely mint one, and brilliant black one. At only £5 each they were a complete bargain. So next time you’re in Primark, why not wander into the sportswear section. You might be pleasantly surprised. 

Black bubble hem top 



30 Apr

rugby pilatesWith the #armynavyrugby today, I thought what better subject to write about other than some exercises for rugby players to help improve their game, and as ongoing maintenance to help rehabilitate after injury, or even better, prevention of injury. It’s also close to my heart as the little men in my life both play rugby and love it. My eldest started with contact this year, and as a mummy, I watch matches holding my breath but bursting with pride all at the same time.

Any exercise where you improve mobility, flexibility and core strength is going to help any sports person. Rugby players in particular put their bodies through very ballistic movements and rapid directional changes, and forceful impact. A super strong core is essential to this sort of exercise. It allows for an efficient force transfer, for example when in a scrum, you will be able to transmit the power from your legs through to your shoulders, pushing the force into your opponent. Without this core strength the power would be no where near as strong, and misalignment or injury of the shoulders neck and spine would be possible. Flexibility and mobility is also very important. As I mentioned the game demands rapid directional changes, so maintaining flexibility will help prevent sprains and misalignment. Can you guess where I’m going with this?  PILATES. Can you imagine big burly rugby players doing Pilates? No? Well they should.

Mobilizing exercises for the spine and shoulders, such as the Spine stretch and  Spine twist, the saw, the swan and shoulder retraction exercises. Strengthening  exercises such as a seated upright row with resistance bands, the dart and Pilates push ups.  Chest openers are also important, to help improve the postural alignment of the shoulders and spine.

Working the major muscles in the hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes are all important in rugby training. Shoulder bridge exercises, and side lying clam are good examples of exercises that can be performed. Thinking of hamstring strains, which seem to crop up quite a lot, we need to concentrate on developing flexibility through the legs and hips, but also core control and mobility and stability in the pelvis. One leg circles are my favourite for this. When done properly they are one of the toughest exercise to perform, whilst using both stabilisers and mobilizers.
Do you know anyone who would benefit from Pilates training?

Tight Hamstrings?

13 Apr

hamstring stretch

One of the most common complaints in my classes are “I have really tight hamstrings” especially when doing the abdominal work, if I’m asking people to straighten their legs, i.e. in flutter kicks.  Or of course when trying to do stretches at the end of the classes.

We are unfortunately a product of more sedentary lifestyles, our bodies are made to move.  We are meant to walk, and unfortunately modern life means we do a lot of sitting.  In turn switching off our gluteal muscles, and shortening muscles in the hip flexors and legs.

The feeling of tightness in the Hamstrings can normally be traced to a problem in another area of the body, rather than having “short” hamstrings, we likely have a tightness in the hip flexors, lower back, glutes, and calves.  When your hip flexors are tight, it can cause a pelvic tilt that causes tightness in the lower back, and a tight lower back often results in tight hamstrings. Therefore to alleviate the tightness we need to perform stretches that target all these areas. Caroline Jordan has a great YouTube clip which demonstrates some lovely stretches which will target all the above mentioned area’s.  It is her post run stretch routine.  Which is quite handy with the Plymouth Half Marathon just next weekend.

Some causes of short hamstrings.

Despite my comments above, there are also some causes of shortening of hamstrings, and these are listed below.

  • Long hours sitting or driving.
  • Poor posture whilst sitting.
  • Back problems cause the hamstrings to try and help stabilize the back (but this is a catch 22 as tight hamstrings can be the cause of back pain).
  • Lack of core strength which overuses the hamstrings to help stabilize the trunk.
  • Weak gluteal muscles which make the hamstrings dominate in moving the leg backwards.

Is it a problem having tight/short hamstrings?

Tight or short hamstrings can be a major cause of lower back pain.  As I mentioned earlier, tightness in the hamstrings could be coming from another area such as the hip-flexors, pelvis, and the gluteal muscles.  All or any of which are going to effect your posture, causing imbalances and weakness, which if not rectified lead to pain.  So yes tight or short hamstrings will cause problems and so should be worked on and not ignored.

How can you improve tight/short hamstrings?

Stretching alone will not help long term with improving tight hamstrings.  The trunk and core stabilizing exercises need to be performed in conjunction with stretching.  You need to make sure your abs, glutes and inner thighs are doing the lions share of the work.  So these areas need to be strong.   Exercises such as Pilates, Walking, Kettlercise, will all help.

Stretches you can perform








31 Mar

scalesMorning, I’ve got a spare 10 mins as the hubby has taken the boys for a haircut.  Luckily they all have good heads of hair, which ensures I get 30 mins every month, whilst they go on a Jones boys hair cut session.

Why the woo-hoo, well I got on the scales this morning, and have lost 4lbs.  I must admit I was feeling a bit trimmer, and have managed to get into a pair of pre-pregnancy trousers, they are a bit snug, but they look OK.  Isn’t it amazing how the number on the scales can make or break your day?  It shouldn’t matter, we know that muscle weighs more than fat, we know that being obsessive with weight loss isn’t healthy, but show me a woman, or man, who doesn’t get a kick out of feeling a bit trimmer.

So how have I done it?  

The good old fashioned, put less in my cake hole and expend lots of energy (aka calories) by working my butt off.  There is no quick easy solution.  There are no gimmicks or tricks or body lotions or potions.  you have to work for what you want.  You can be clever about it though, the sorts of food you consume, and the type of exercise you perform, can lead to faster results.  And for the lotions and potions, well, they make your skin glow, and make you feel a bit better, so what the heck, apply away.  Just don’t be conned into spending loads of money on them.

I’ve been using Herbalife to help me with the calorie deficit part of putting less calories into my body.  It works well for me.  I find the shakes fill me up, and they are super speedy.  They are high in protein, and did I mention they are super speedy?  I like their tea too, it’s a good caffeine boost.  You do eat healthy snacks throughout the day, which you need to plan in advance, or if you’re like me you end up eating cake instead.

But basically a high protein low calorie diet will do the trick with speedier weight loss.  I am not an advocate of cutting out carbohydrates.  We need them, and as Joan Collins said when asked, why she looks so fabulous, she replied with “carbs darling, carbs”.  But try and stick to complex carbohydrates, and stay away from ‘white’ food, go for the brown alternatives.

As for the fitness, a program where you add weights to your workout will burn more fat, and build more muscle.  Kettlercise is claimed to “melt fat” and I blinking love it.  I’m biased as a Kettlercise instructor, but it’s a program that gets great results FAST.  It’s good for strengthening too, for core stability, and mobility.  As a pilates instructor, I think it really works on similar principles, with a bucket load more cardiovascular workout added in, which helps with the fat/calorie burn.  Ladies worry that working with weights will build muscle, it doesn’t.  Not unless you are pumped with steroids and hormone supplements. Think Victoria’s Secret Models, “Every time a Kettlebell swings, a supermodel gets her wings…..or something like that”

Right that’s the clan home from the haircut, so have to dash.


The Mummy Tummy

29 Mar


Morning! It’s an early one today, baby won’t sleep any longer.  We moved him into his big cot, in his own room this weekend.  It was time, he was getting too big for his gorgeous crib.  He had slept better in his big boy cot, but I’m not sure I have.  Plus the clocks changed, so it’s now lighter in the mornings.  Which I love, but it means early starts in my household.

So I want to write a little bit about the mummy tummy, professionally known as diastasis recti.  Which is where the rectus abdominus a.k.a. your six pack, separate, to accommodate for your growing bump.  It doesn’t happen to all women, only 70%, which to be honest is a fair few.  I am one of those sufferers and having had 3 babies, and not knowing enough about the condition, therefore not looking after myself with my first and second, which subsequently has made my pooch a whole lot worse, I have one hell of an overhang. Yuck.

It’s something I’m still learning about, and want to know more about.  An amazing resource on this is a lady called Jenny Burrell.

Testing for diastasis recti.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet on the floor.
  • Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your tummy, with your fingertips just above your belly button.
  • Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis. and push your fingertips gently but firmly into your tummy.
  • Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis (six pack) muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
  • The gap should be no more than 2.5 fingers width apart.

Exercises you should avoid if you have Diastasis Recti.

You need to be careful with the exercises you do, if you have got diastasis recti.  You should avoid moves like crunches, sit-ups, push ups, press-ups, and front planks.  Anything where you are going to cause your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion, into that cone shape.  Depending on the severity of the separation, you made need medical help with the healing process, physiotherapy may be required.

What exercises you should do

Any exercises where you are strengthening your transverse abdominis, will help correct diastasis recti.  In this video Lorraine from explains how to activate your TRA muscle.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought.  That’s my middle son up now, so I best dash and sort out breakfast.





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