Beware the breakfast cereals!

It’s that time of year again when everyone is trying to shift a few pounds by cutting out junk food and eating healthily. Fab! But beware of the foods that pose as a healthy option but are in actual fact loaded with calories. Smoothies, cereal bars and soups can all be bad for this so check the labels.

Take another look at your breakfast cereal. I love my fruit and fibre in the mornings (and other times of the day!) so decided to weigh out a portion to see how big it was. The label suggests a typical serving is 30g, containing 110 cals. Some of my bigger bowls are easily 2 or 3 times that size! Be extra cautious if you like granola type cereals. These tasty clusters can easily have 200 cals per serving, which is a very small amount. Also they can be full of sugar and fat.

Bottom line is don’t stop eating cereal (and always have breakfast!) but make sure that your portion sizes aren’t excessive. Maybe weigh a typical bowl out just once to get an idea of what you are eating. Mix up what you have in the mornings, try porridge, brown toast or healthy eggs. Opt for whole grain cereals that are lower in fat and sugar.

While I am on the subject of new year dieting – please don’t cut out carbs or limit the amount of fruit or veg you eat. You needs carbs! Just healthy ones. Try to slightly reduce your portion sizes and always go for healthier options to get a diet that is sustainable longer term.

The benefits of exercising during and after pregnancy

In the past many women have been unsure about whether it is safe to exercise during pregnancy or not and have found it hard to get clear advice. These days it is widely accepted that not only is exercise safe during pregnancy, but it has a wealth of benefits and is the perfect opportunity to make regular exercise a part of your life.

The benefits of regular exercise may be…

  • A shorter labour and better endurance, with less likelihood of complications
  • Less likelihood of suffering from nausea and morning sickness
  • Improved core strength and stability
  • A stronger back and reduction in back pain
  • Better posture
  • Stronger pelvic floor muscles
  • Better circulation – less likelihood of suffering from varicose veins, swelling and high blood pressure
  • Stronger bones
  • Less excessive weight gain
  • More energy and self-confidence – lift your mood and feel great! Stronger muscles (including the ones you use in childbirth)
  • Greater body adaptation to pregnancy
  • Ability to get in touch with your body, giving you more confidence about labour and recovery
  • Better-quality sleep
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone
  • Less likelihood of developing gestational diabetes
  • Getting back into shape as a new mum more easily
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Helping to keep baby blues at bay
  • Some ‘head space’ and time for yourself

With all of those benefits, why would you not exercise?! After pregnancy you will retain a lot of these benefits, in addition to finding it easier to lose excess weight and tone up.

Not sure what to do? Check out my 3-Plan (to be released early 2012) for a complete set of pregnancy and postnatal exercises.

Why pregnant ladies and new mums should work out with weights

Resistance training makes your muscles fitter, stronger and more effective and it can be provided by weights, bands or just your body weight. Some people find the term ‘resistance training’ quite mystifying, even off-putting, but it is key to helping improve muscular fitness and is extremely important in everyday life, for lifting and carrying things and performing day-to-day tasks. Without doing some exercise like this it will be really hard for you to get a really lean, toned bod.

The benefits of resistance training include:

  • Increases lean muscle, which requires more energy to maintain. It will increase your metabolism, meaning you are burning more calories, even when you are asleep (what could be easier?)
  • Muscle burns fat
  • Decreases your risk of developing osteoporosis by increasing bone density
  • Makes you stronger
  • Improves your balance, flexibility and core strength
  • Improves your posture
  • Makes you feel good and less stressed
  • Improves your cardiovascular fitness, with all the associated benefits
  • Shapes and sculpts your body – you’ll look more toned and feel great
  • Increases strength, meaning you have less chance of getting injuries.
If you are pregnant or a new mum and aren’t sure what to do in terms of working out with weights, you can find lots of simple safe exercises out there – squats, lunges, bicep curls, you know the sort of thing.
Watch this space for the launch of my book, the 3-Plan (coming in early 2012) which has over 75 unique, effective exercises, split into sections to be safe for each stage of your pregnancy and post-natal recovery.

Running in pregnancy

One of the most common things I hear is that it is not safe to run during pregnancy. There is no one-size-fits-all response to this. It largely depends on your pre-pregnancy fitness level and running experience.

If you have never been a runner do not start during pregnancy. If you love running, then pleeeeeeeeze don’t give it up if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy!

If you have only done a little bit of running I would suggest keeping it at a moderate intensity (jogging rather than running) and no more than 30 minutes a couple of times a week. If you haven’t done any running for at least a couple of months then do something else. If it feels at all uncomfortable then do something else.

If you are an experienced runner then there is no reason you cannot carry on running during your pregnancy. Stick to the safety advice about overheating, clothing, hydration and location.