Archive | February, 2013

How soon can you exercise post birth?

15 Feb

Post baby bodies

Thanks to glossy magazines and Hollywood stars (yes, YOU Jessica Alba and Miranda Kerr), we’re now all  brainwashed with unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of how our bodies should appear post birth.

The stories with glorified before and after pictures in magazines are forced upon us weekly, coupled with stories of an ‘easy birth’ followed by celebrities bouncing back to their pre-baby body within 48 hours. Um… no. Sorry, HELL NO.

First of all, does anyone have an ‘easy’ birth? And secondly, why oh why would anyone swap the early precious moments with their newborn for a 0 calorie diet and buckets of sweat?
‘No sane person’ is the answer, and certainly no one who is working within the safe guidelines of exercising post birth. So let’s discuss what is realistic, and more importantly safe.

The current medical guidelines regarding when it is safe to begin postpartum exercise have relaxed since the stricter 6-8 week “no exercise” mandate. As every woman is unique, so is the birth of her baby and recovery rate. It is always smart to talk to your doctor before starting any fitness program postpartum to make sure your body is ready to exercise, to know if your abs have separated and any incisions healed.

Ask yourself the following: did you exercise throughout your pregnancy and had a ‘normal’ delivery? If yes, then you can safely continue your pregnancy workout routine within a week of giving birth – just make sure it is light exercises such as walking and that you modify movements such push ups. As the weeks progress you can build on the duration to x3 moderate 30 minute walks a week.

If you had a c-section, expect to wait about six to eight weeks to exercise. However, walking at an easy pace is encouraged because it promotes healing and helps prevent complications such as blood clots.

Other important things to remember that due to your hormones (relaxin) your joints and ligament will still be extra stretchy so no crazy yoga moves please as you will be prone to injury!! Also, if you weren’t active during your pregnancy, or tapered off your fitness routine as the weeks went on, start slow and check with your doctor or midwife before you begin exercising.

Catherine Cram, M.S. advises that the following are exercises that can be done within 24 hours of delivery. These exercises help your muscles start functioning after a cesarean section or vaginal birth and are a great starting point within those first 6 weeks.

Try to do 10-20 repetitions of each exercise 2-3 times a day.

Diaphragmatic breathing (Abdominal tightening on outward breath): Lying on your back, place your hands over your abdomen. Inhale and allow your belly to rise as it fills with air. Exhale through your mouth as you tighten your abs, pulling them in towards your spine. Your stomach should flatten, not bulge, as you exhale.

Hut Exercise: Either sit in bed or a chair, or lie on your side in bed and place your hands over your tummy. Take a big breath in, and as you exhale say the word “hut” forcefully. You should feel your tummy tighten as you say “hut” and relax as you inhale. Ankle/foot movements help prevent blood clots after anesthesia.

Kegels (Pelvic floor contractions): Can be done in any position.

Opposite Hands And Knees: On all fours start with pushing your left arm in front of you until it is at eye level/in line with your head. Then bring it back to the ground. Do the same with your right leg, push it out behind you as if you are pushing the wall away with your foot. Once you have your balance down you want to do them both at the same time – right arm and left leg push out. Exhale as you push and keep you belly button to your spine. Do 10 on each side and repeat through out the day!

Is exercise still the LAST thing on your mind 7 weeks post birth (or 7 years post birth…)?

Well it is time to dust off those sneakers because regular exercise after pregnancy can:
• Promote weight loss
• Improve your cardiovascular fitness
• Restore muscle strength
• Condition your abdominal muscles
• Boost your energy level
• Improve your mood
• Relieve stress
• Help prevent and promote recovery from postpartum depression

Better yet, including physical activity in your daily routine helps you set a positive example for your child now and in the years to come – so what are you waiting for?!

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Best Paleo (gluten-free) Pancakes. EVER.

11 Feb

paleo gluten free carrot cake pancakes with berries
Tomorrow is Pancake Day in Australia! That’s right – we have a whole day dedicated to these delicious fluffy treats!

Truth be told, Australians didn’t really come up with the idea. Pancake Day is traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday, which is the last day to eat all the flour, eggs and dairy products in your kitchen before the start of Lent (which is a time of abstinence and reflection in the 40 days before Easter). Here in Oz however, we have turned this day into a fundraising opportunity that essentially encourages local people to help other locals: http://www.pancakeday.com.au/

Wondering what you can make without sacrificing your waist line (or taste buds) by eating excess amounts of sugar first thing in the morning (trust me your blood sugar levels are screaming in protest at the thought of it..)?

Well, let me introduce you to my favourite pancake recipe which excludes all the nasties (sugar, wheat/gluten etc) while being 100% fussy eater approved – Carrot Cake Pancakes!

Ingredients
1 cup of grated carrots
3 eggs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (or pecans)
2 tablespoon coconut oil
4 tablespoon coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (I usually add more than this though!)
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Once cooked plate up and top with a tablespoon of coconut butter, maple syrup and a few berries– DELISH!!

Instructions
1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl
* almond meal
* coconut flour
* baking soda and powder
* spices

2. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
* carrots, eggs
* coconut milk
* coconut oil

3. Heat a large frypan up under medium-high heat and use coconut oil to grease the surface. Don’t be shy with the oil here you don’t want it to stick!

4. Pour batter into piping hot frypan – keep them small so they are easy to flip. Cook on both sides for 3 or so minutes.

5. Top pancakes off with coconut butter and organic maple syrup.

Makes approx 4-5 pancakes.

Recipe also getting some love here: http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/food/recipes/recipe/-/16114480/paleo-carrot-cake-pancakes/

paleo gluten free carrot cake pancakes

If you have a go at making these I’d love to see your creations – post them on http://www.facebook.com/fitnessinthecity

Enjoy!

Superfoods – fact or fiction?

1 Feb

superfoods2

 

Nearly every exotic fruit and vegetable these days are being touted by the media as the next ‘superfood’, and I have absolutely no problem with this.

In a time where obesity and disease are on the rise – I praise anything that draws attention to eating real food. The kind that only nature can create, that is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Why would I disapprove of a word that points to broccoli for its anti-cancer causing abilities and takes the spotlight away from the latest McDonalds meal deal?

I do believe that just as there are a handful of genetically blessed group of individuals in the world (I’m looking at you Elle, Cindy and Helena), there are also a group of superior superfoods (higher in nutrients, cancer fighting agents etc) that have the one up over the old potato – actually the potatoes are very high in potassium but moving on.

Below are a list of my favourites  that really pack a punch, and you may be surprised to learn that not all of them hail from far off corners in the world. There may even be one or two sitting in your fridge unbeknownst to you, holding super (health) powers.

Some of my ‘common’ favourite include:

Broccoli: this unfashionable cruciferous  vege needs to be resurrected as it is high in antioxidants, fibre, folate and is also well-known for its cancer-preventing powers.

Did you know veggies from the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale etc) contain compounds called glucosinolates, which convert into isothiocyanates (ITCs) when you chew them and break the cell walls. ITCs are compounds with proven anti-cancer activities. They remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumours from growing? Amazing!!

Kale: Seems kale was on every superfood must have list in 2012 but with good reason. It is powered with essential vitamins and minerals and is fantastic for your skin and can slow premature ageing.. A recent Harvard study finds that cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, may protect against bladder cancer. It’s one of the most common cancers in this country, and affects two to three times as many men as women. Scientists analyzed the diets of nearly 50,000 men and discovered that those who ate five servings or more per week of cruciferous veggies were half as likely to develop bladder cancer over a ten-year period as men who rarely ate them. And broccoli and cabbage were singled out as the most protective foods.

Berries: best known for their anti-aging effects and high in antioxidants. Also a great option when watching your weight as lower in sugar than most fruits.

Wild salmon: contains lots of vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, nails and bones and rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

Turmeric:  I predict turmeric will be the next big thing. It contains curcumin, a phytochemical that has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and suppress tumor blood vessel growth (angiogenesis). Win!

Tomatoes: high in lycopene, full of micronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that work together in a way that can ward off cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Scientific studies have shown that the more tomatoes you eat, the better. Cooking tomatoes is best of all because simmering them along with some heart-healthy oil, like olive oil, makes it even easier for the body to absorb all of the beneficial properties.

Basil: Holy Basil could be the latest weapon in the war against wrinkles, according to new research.
Containing anti-ageing antioxidants that help to protect against free radicals, cancer-causing chemicals that attack organs like the heart, liver and brain and damage nerve cells. According to the Telegraph, Dr Shinde said: ‘The study validates the traditional use of herb as a youth-promoting substance in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. It also helps describe how the herb acts at a cellular level.’

Other house hold staples which hold super properties include:

Green tea: high in antioxidants.

Brazil nuts: high in selenium.

Natural yoghurt: contains good bacteria to fight bad bacteria.

Eggs: are a compact package of nutrition that provides every vitamin except vitamin C.

And the more ‘exotic’ awards goes to…

Chia Seeds: rich is essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre, High source of protein with all the essential amino acids, Rich plant source of iron (3 times more than spinach, Rich source of calcium, and has higher bioavailability than milk, which means that you could be absorbing more calcium from a tablespoon of chia than you do from a glass of milk. Read my full post on it here

Acaí: This South American fruit has been gaining immense popularity across the world for some of its excellent health benefits. Scientists today are still discovering all the wonderful things that the Açaí berry can do such as makes the immune system stronger, slows down the aging process, regulates the levels of cholesterol in the body, improves circulation and functioning of the heart, reduces inflammation, detoxifies the body.

Maca – Maca is typically found in the Andes, at a high location where the land is barren and weather conditions extreme. These harsh conditions could probably be the reason why the maca root is chockfull of nutrients which makes it a highly valued superfood. It is said to increases stamina and libido, helps the endocrine system function properly, thereby eliminating hormonal imbalances, lowers anemia and alleviates menstrual discomfort and cramps, rich source of fatty acids and sterols (and many more).

For extra reading on some supplement ‘superfoods’ check out

Vital Greens  here

Chlorophyll  here .  Love love love.

For more posts on health, fitness and wellbeing from Lee @  Fitness In The City check out Facebook here , twitter here and Instagram: fitnessinthecity_

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