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Cutting back on sugar

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

I am sure that we have all over indulged over the past few weeks but we may still want a little of something sweet, so it’s good to find a delicious recipe that doesn’t have any added sugar. 

I discovered this recipe when one of the older babies at Buggyfit was munching on what looked like a very delicious cake – their mum sent on this recipe to me taken from Babyled Weaning by Gill Rapley

  • 200g (7oz) wholemeal self-raising flour and 1 tsp baking powder
  • 110g (4oz) dates, finely chopped
  • 50g (2oz) desiccated coconut
  • 50g (20z) nuts (eg walnuts or mixed nuts) finely chopped or ground
  • 3 tsp ground mixed spice, cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 110g (4oz) melted butter
  • 110g (4oz) sultanas
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • Grated zest of one orange and 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • For the topping (optional)
  • 200g (7oz) cream cheese (mascarpone works well)
  • 100g (3 ½ oz) dates finely chopped
  • Zest and juiceof 1 orange or lemon (unwaxed)

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees c/300 degrees F/Gas mark 2 and lightly grease a deep 20cm (8in) round cake tin.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add dates, coconut, nuts and spices.  Mix thoroughly, then make a well in the centre.

Combine the melted butter, sultanas, carrot and orange zest and juice.  Add to the dry ingredients and combine to make a thick paste.  Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until done (check using a skewer, it should come out clean)

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 mins then turn out on to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If using the topping, blend the ingredients until smooth and spread over the cake.  Alternatively, serve with mascarpone or whipped cream.

These recipes aren’t just for the children!

Enjoy!

What might happen to your pelvic floor in December!

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

I hope the title has caught your interest!  Hopefully you will continue reading as there are two possible scenarios during this month that may cause you to think about what is going on with your pelvic floor.

The first is the weather.  It has been incredibly mild so far this year with just a couple of cold days so this may not have been an issue yet.  However, when the weather does turn cold you may find that you need to visit the loo a little more often.  This is because the cold temperature causes the bladder to contract and therefore give you the signal that you need to go. 

The second is the possibility in an increase in alcohol consumption!  I hope that you will have been able to enjoy a bit of socialising with friends and family, especially those with the tiny babies when getting out might feel quite difficult at the moment.  Alcohol is one of many substances that is an irritant to the bladder so can make you feel the need to use the loo a little more frequently. 

It’s not possible to change the physiology of these two factors but if your bladder and pelvic floor have been trained hold larger quantities of urine and if you are more efficient at activating the pelvic floor then this should reduce the consequences of these factors to a degree.

If you would like to learn more about looking after your pelvic floor and managing situations like those mentioned above, then ‘The Pelvic Floor and Prosecco Evening’ is the thing for you. Our next evening is on Wednesday 23rd Jan 7.30pm at The Hive, Sports Direct Fitness, Tewkesbury Road GL51 0SJ you can book your ticket here http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/pelvic-floor-with-prosecco

If the above scenarios happen to you whether it’s December or not and you feel restricted in your activities from it, you need to think about taking things one step further and really get your pelvic floor back in to action.   The Everywoman Holistic Core Restore ® class is the one for you.  This is not only a progressive exercise programme to get you more connected to your pelvic floor and core in a functional manner it is an education which will enable you to look after it for life.  Following feedback the course is now 12 weeks long, 6 weeks live and 6 weeks online but you can still just sign up for the first 6 weeks if you wish. This is sign up for weeks 1-6 http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/holistic-core-restore-weeks-1-6-1

and for weeks 1-12 http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/holistic-core-restore-weeks-1-6-1

The initial 6 week course starts again on Monday 7th Jan 8-9pm at Stoke Orchard Community Centre, GL52 7SB.

Please let me know if you have any questions about anything brought up here or if you would like further information about the courses.

What motivates you to exercise?

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

We all hear and read about why we should exercise regularly, what keeps you motivated to continue with an exercise regimen?

I haven’t always been an exercise fan.  I used to love netball at junior school but as I had badly controlled asthma I rarely made it to the end of a game without having an attack!  Problems continued with Asthma in to Senior School so I took it on board to take myself swimming on a very regular basis to get my breathing under control whilst exercising.  My health was my motivation at this point when exercising.  Swimming helped a lot and with better medical management also improving I was able to become more active.

Over the next few years I would say there were many factors that have motivated me to exercise.  My weight was a big one for a while and I am sure many of you will relate to this factor.  When I started my training to be a physiotherapist I was a lot bigger than I am now, size 16-18.  As a student physio you spend quite a lot of time in your underwear so that was a huge incentive to get active and lose the weight.  I became a lot more focussed on what I ate and walked to college, 3 miles each way instead of taking the bus.  I joined several different exercise classes and became a bit of a gym addict!

During pregnancy I wanted to make sure that I was fit for labour and for the post-natal period so I kept myself as active as possible, I bought myself an exercise bike.  Following birth I was then motivated to exercise by the initial mum tum and I had major pelvic floor issues following a 3rd degree tear-this happened twice over! I needed to get myself fit and get my body working properly again. Swimming was my main activity at this point as I found a pool where I could easily leave the baby in the car seat by the pool and I could fit this in 3-4 times a week.  I was lucky – only once did I have to get out to attend a crying baby!

Over the next few years, swimming was harder to fit in to my day.  I liked how I felt when I was keeping myself fit and active, weight wasn’t an issue any more as my level of exercise was enough to keep things under control and exercise became more of a help to keep my sanity with a growing family and an increasingly busy schedule. 

Running is very easy to fit in to a schedule but running was something I was never good at due to the ongoing asthma and resulting bronchiectasis that resulted from bad scarring of the lungs during childhood.  I didn’t let it stop me though as I needed something to fit in to a busy schedule so I followed a couch to 5k programme and succeeded.  During this time I found myself a running buddy and rather than starting out with a 5k or 10k event we went straight for the half marathon! I never thought I would ever be doing that. 

Having a friend to meet to get you out and run on the coldest and darkest mornings at 6am is a big factor in motivation and I actually felt a sense of achievement in something that I had done, I felt great after a run and from then I was hooked! (I have to admit though a medal or two was quite a big motivator too!!)

I have been running over the last 7 years and during this time I have encountered hormonal changes with the onset of perimenopause and this has meant at times running has been adapted to make distances slightly shorter to allow the activity to still be manageable.  Motivation took a slight detour but if you adapt your exercise level to suit the situation it is much easier to keep going. 

With my background as a physio and having seen many patients who were runners, I also knew that I needed to be keeping myself strong and this was quite easy to fulfil as I was running a kettlebell class at the time and this was perfect to ensure I was doing adequate strength training to support my running.  This is an area where many runners fail to look after themselves and I would always recommend at least one session of strengthening a week.

It has only been in the last 4 years that I discovered the lido.  I went along one day as my running buddy, which had turned into buddies by then, suggested we should enter the sprint triathlon that is held annually from there.  I fell in love with the Lido and loved the elements of peace and tranquillity that it added to an exercise session along with time out for me (except of course on those really hot days when it’s packed!)

I didn’t maintain the swimming out of season as the indoor pool just didn’t give me the same feeling so I just stuck to the running.  The last 18 months have probably been the most stressful and running has helped to keep me focussed and has played a huge part in maintaining my mental health.  There was no need to think about weight issues as it just fell off me for a while but I needed to get out and run to have a short period of time out, time to think and regroup in order to carry on with the next list of tasks.

I am still running, but circumstances have meant that I am not getting in the mileage I would like but small amounts are still good.  The running and a session of kettlebells help to keep me feeling fit and give me a sense of achievement.   I feel strong from just doing short sessions of kettlebells and this motivates me to continue.

I have already mentioned the perimenopause and its effect on my exercise programme.  It is important to be considering your exercise choice during this period in your life as it is a good idea to make sure you are looking after your bone and heart health to keep things ticking over in the best way due to our inevitable falling oestrogen levels.  Oestrogen has big parts to play in keeping out bones and heart healthy.  With falling oestrogen, we should be doing as much as we can to make up for this.  Weight bearing exercise in short bursts that makes us hot and sweaty is ideal.

There have been many changing motivations to exercise during my life so far.  For now they are mental wellbeing along with bone health and keeping a healthy heart so that I remain as fit and active as possible.  We don’t have to be putting our name down to do amazing exercise events, we just need to keep moving in the most efficient way to give our bodies the best outcome.

The reasons of maintaining bone and heart health as we get older, should feature on many of our lists for factors to get out and exercise, but are you motivated to do so?

We are coming up to that time of year again when New Year’s resolutions will be talked about and this can be a turn off for some people as it can be a real pressure to feel you need to do something new and amazing.  Exercise is one area always talked about at New Year but you can start exercise at any time of the year, you just need to feel comfortable about what you are about to attempt and make it manageable. 

If you are looking for a class that will help to keep you motivated and take in to full consideration your bone and heart health factors, I do have a couple of classes that will fit the bill. 

Women’s Outdoor Fitness runs on Tuesday and Friday mornings 9.15am meeting opposite the Central Cross Café starting back on Tues 8th and/or Friday 11th Jan, come to 1 or 2 classes a week.  There is an early bird offer for this class until Wed 19th Dec and it can be found here http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/outdoor-fitness

The other option is the class called ‘Strong’ running on a Monday evening from 7th Jan at Stoke Orchard Community Centre, GL52 7SB 7-8pm.  This class is not only designed for those thinking about their figure and weight as this will be addressed from doing exercises that include weights and body weight, but it is specifically designed to incorporate looking after your bone and heart health too.  There is an early bird offer for this class up until 31st Dec (it will run in half termly blocks) and the first block of 6 weeks can be signed up for here http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/strong

I hope this has made you think about what motivates you and if you have lost that motivation then let me help you get back on track.  I think that one of the best motivators is how you feel after a session of exercise as you will want that feeling again.  Come and get that feeling with one of my classes!  Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to have a chat about attending.

Have a great festive season and I hope to see you at a class in the New Year.

Is it porridge time yet?

posted by Joan Palmer

porridge

Is it porridge time yet?

This is not a question for me, as I eat porridge all year round and can’t live without it!  But as I discovered earlier this week when I was back to 6am running, it’s now dark at that time and it’s also quite a bit cooler.  With that in mind it may be time to consider a different breakfast.  Porridge is a great option to keep you going for several hours though the morning.  I have various different options on mine, blueberries, Chia seeds or stewed apple are my top three but recently I found this recipe that looked rather tasty.  It’s from ‘Deliciously Ella’, and she is all about taking a healthy option.  See what you think and maybe share your favourite porridge accompaniment. 

PORRIDGE PICTURE

Deliciously Ella Pear, Cinnamon and walnut porridge

INGREDIENTS:

1 ripe pear

100g of porridge oats, 2/3 cup

250ml almond milk, 1 cup

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

Handful of roasted walnuts, chopped

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 180c, fan.

Cut your pear into slices and place them on a baking tray with a tablespoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden, adding the walnuts right at the end to toast.

While your pear is baking in the oven make your porridge; place your oats, milk, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of maple syrup in a pan over a medium heat and cook for around 5-8 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Once your pears are cooked, place them on top of your porridge with the chopped walnuts and enjoy!

The Happy New Mum Tum Part 2

posted by Joan Palmer

Happy tum

How did you get on with Part 1?  Did you pick up some points that you may need to address to help that tummy recovery?

Here are a couple more points that will make all the difference to how the tummy muscles recover and how to optimise their function.

Believe it or not, how we breathe will have an impact on how the abdominal muscles can function and if breathing is not at its optimum pattern then it will inhibit how the abdominals can work.  Your diaphragm, part of your breathing muscle system is attached to the lower edges of your ribs and depending on how the baby sits during pregnancy, the position of the baby can cause tightness in the diaphragm.  This in turn can cause a ‘flare’ in the ribs because the tight diaphragm isn’t allowing the ribs to descend properly on a breath out (you may feel bigger around the ribs and you may have even gone up in a bra size).  To help change this you need to breathing in the best way – when you breathe in you need to imagine that the start of the breath is the middle of a cut tree trunk and as you fill up with air you are expanding in all directions so you are filling up following the rings on the tree trunk.  It may also be necessary to need some soft tissue release work around the ribs, tummy and back to help the tissues let go and then allow you to breathe properly. I can do this soft tissue work with you and you will feel much freer and looser around the whole rib area which in turn will let the abdominals work optimally.

Stress levels will also have an impact on how your tummy recovers.  Having a baby can be a pretty stressful time as it has such an impact on your life and that of the family unit.  Sleep deprivation is often a big part of stress levels and there’s always a bit of that with a new baby.  Cortisol is your stress hormone, and changes in sleep and your daily routine is enough to upset the levels of cortisol in your system.  If you have a high level of cortisol in your blood stream then your body’s response will be to hang on to body fat as a defence mechanism to try and fight the stress.  Hanging on to body fat was a good thing when stress was caused by running from wild animals whilst hunting but these days it’s not such a welcome response so it’s more important to keep stress levels in check.  It may be hard to think about taking time out to get on top of this but it only takes 10 mins to do some relaxation/meditation and it could be that 10 mins that makes all the difference to your ability to burn body fat if that is what you are wanting to achieve.

Any questions or comments then please get in touch.   

The Happy New Mum Tum Part 1

posted by Joan Palmer

Happy tum

One of the commonest questions I get asked is, ‘Will my tummy ever be like it was before?’

The question is quite difficult to answer simply as there are many elements that will affect how your tummy recovers post pregnancy and birth. Here are a few pointers that will make a difference to how your recovery can be affected.

What you initially need to reassure yourself with, is that your tummy has changed progressively over a number of months, so for it to just return to how it was before overnight is setting your expectations quite high. There are always some women that this appears to happen to, but trust me, they are in the minority!

The most obvious areas thought and asked about working on, are diet and exercise.

Exercise is a big element to recovery, but if you are doing the wrong exercise you could actually be doing more harm than good particularly if you have an abdominal separation (diastasis). A diastasis isn’t a limitation to exercise, you just need to know what exercise is best and how to progress then safely. Do you even know if you have a diastasis? Have you had your tummy muscles checked? Do you know if you are exercising safely?

Exercise is not just about strengthening the abdominals, stretching and releasing is just as important to assess as muscles can’t get stronger and work hard if they are restricted in some way. A restriction or tightness anywhere in the body can inhibit how the abdominals work properly.

How do you feel your posture is since giving birth? Did it give you problems during your pregnancy? Postural changes naturally occur during pregnancy due to the growth of the baby and how the body has to adapt for this to occur. These postural changes have effects on soft tissues around the trunk in particular – they can for example become tight or weak, and because of this it can mean that the tummy muscles find it difficult to connect and work properly again unless these soft tissue changes are addressed. There may be other exercises that are necessary first before actually trying to work the abdominals.

If you would like some input in how to get your tummy muscles working again then please get in touch and look out for Part 2 of The Happy New Mum Tum.

What is your emergency snack?

posted by Joan Palmer

Wow, it’s been hot this week. I hope you have been keeping well hydrated and as cool as possible.

I have been continuing to read Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book that I mentioned last week. There is a great section on nutrition. We are all guilty of having a bit of a blow out now and again and forgetting all of our healthy eating knowledge. Like my running that I mentioned last week, my eating habits have become questionable too due to the fact I have been quite tired. One thing as busy mums that lack sleep tend to do when they are tired, is to reach out for sugary snacks. This may make us feel better for a short while but because of that sugar influx it has a dramatic effect on our insulin levels and after a short while we feel tired again and then crave even more sugar. The book talks about this and that it would be a good idea to always have an emergency snack with us. As it’s going to be possibly stuck in a bag for a while it’s difficult to have something fresh but there are options. I always have a nine bar in my bag for such occasions. It does have some sugar in it but it has good seeds in it too and sugar content will be a lot less than a chocolate bar. Nuts and seeds are a good option along with something like oatcakes.


Let me know what you may have in your bag for such emergency occasions.

This week is the last session of the Mumsfit runners group that has been meeting 3 times a week. It is stopping for now but will restart in a slightly different format in September on Tuesdays and Fridays from Tuesday 10 th . It will be more of a strengthening class which is a great cross training session for those that maybe run or do other sports or for those looking to get generally fitter and stronger. Look out on the Facebook page and Instagram for more details. This is a photo of some of the group that have been coming along on Fridays. 


This is a no buggy group so if your little ones are now old enough for playgroup etc and you aren’t working on Tuesday and Friday then look out for details.

Have a good week.

Joan

Do you sit on the loo for more than 5 minutes?! (Don’t read whilst eating!)

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

It can be a taboo subject to even start talking about the pelvic floor, but your bowel habits are extremely personal and something not likely to bring up in discussion, but maintaining healthy bowel habits will help prevent pelvic floor weakness. 

Being constipated and pushing or straining to empty your bowels is known to cause weakness of the muscles of the pelvic floor.  People commonly think about how often they open their bowels, but it is just as important to think about how easily you are able to pass a motion.  With this in mind, you should not need to spend more than 5 minutes on the loo passing a motion.  If you spend longer than 5 minutes, you would be wise to consider some lifestyle changes to help look after your pelvic floor. 

Would you believe it? There is actually a chart to determine if your bowel movement is of the right consistency to make it easy to pass.  To make life easy and have the least amount of strain on your pelvic floor you need to have a motion like type 4.  Are you a type 4?

3 Habits that won't help your bladder function or pelvic floor

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Within teaching the Holistic Core Restore® classes, I do give out many tips that will help to keep your bladder functioning well and give you a healthy and efficient pelvic floor.  Here are 3 bad habits that are very common and will do just the opposite for you, so try and break these habits now if you are doing any of them.

  1. Going to the loo ‘just in case’. This is a very common habit of many people and it may be more prevalent after having a baby because of having to empty your bladder more frequently when the baby was bouncing up and down on your bladder!  If not addressed, it can go on well after birth and beyond.  The habit needs to stop because it means that your bladder isn’t given the opportunity to fill properly and you are not getting the right stimulation to need a wee at the correct time.  The bladder itself is a muscle and will need retraining to do this, but do it gradually over time and it will change.  Just ask yourself, ‘do I really need a wee?’.  Remember that if your bladder is filling correctly when you have a wee, you should be able to count ‘1 mississipi, 2 mississipis, 3 etc’ all the way up to at least 8.  If you don’t make it that long, then it wasn’t worth going!  Be sure to count next time and make sure your bladder function is good.
  2. Make sure you sit down to use the loo. Hovering over a toilet seat to have a wee puts you in a really bad position to be able to empty your bladder fully.  If you sit down on the loo you will be able to ‘let go’ of everything to allow a good flow of urine and insure that you get a good emptying of the bladder.  If you hover, you won’t empty the bladder effectively and this will make you more prone to bladder infections. 
  3. Trying a mid-stream stop. Doing a mid - stream stop was quite often taught to see how strong your pelvic floor was.  However, it has been shown to interfere with the mechanism of being able to empty the bladder fully and also to have the ability to ‘let go’ of the pelvic floor in order to empty the bladder.  If you are able to completely relax and let the pelvic floor go, then doing this every now and again isn’t going to cause a real problem but if done regularly to keep checking on strength of the pelvic floor, it will interfere with how the pelvic floor muscles switch on and off which again could lead to infection. 

If you recognise any of these habits yourself and you would like to know what you can do to help look after your pelvic floor further and improve its function then why not come along to our Pelvic Floor and Pimms evening – what every woman should know.  There is a choice of dates Wed 16th May, Wed 13th June or Wed 11th July at The Hive, Sports Direct Fitness, Tewkesbury Road, Cheltenham GL51 0SJ.  Tickets can be obtained here http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/pelvic-floor-with-pimms and you will find out all you need to know with myself and Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist Hannah Gray. 

A new muffin recipe for you!

posted by Joan Palmer

banana

It’s a while since a shared a recipe with you so I thought you might like this one.It caught my eye as it contains two things I do consume a fair amount of – bananas and peanut butter, quite often I like them on a thick crust of seeded bread but here they are in a muffin.The recipe comes from Dr Axe, he has a vast selection of recipes.

Ingredients

1 cup of natural organic peanut butter

2 very ripe bananas mashed (1 cup)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 whole eggs

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup of honey

1 tsp cinnamon

Optional – ½ cup raisins, 1 cup fresh raspberries or ½ cup of chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven 350 degrees F and line a 12 hole muffin tin

In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix until smooth, then add any optional extras.

Place mixture into 12 cases

Bake 15 mins 350 degrees F, muffins should be firm and lightly golden.

Allow to cool for 15 mins

Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to a week in the fridge.

Let me know what you think!

Many classes have carried on over the Easter break but we are back to the full schedule from Monday 16th April when another block of Holistic Core Restore® is starting.If you have been thinking about doing this course, sign yourself up, you won’t regret it.It will really put you back in control of your body again.Here’s where you can sign up http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/holistic-core-restore and please e mail me if you have any questions.

Click the link below to see what 2 participants from the last course had to say. 

https://youtu.be/I12FbzntkGs

Mumsfit – not just for new mums!

posted by Joan Palmer

Joan

After talking to someone recently about what I did for my job, I realised that maybe not everyone knows about everything I do!  I have been doing Buggyfit since 2012 when I left a steady job as a physiotherapist working in outpatients, so I have seen many patients with joint and muscle problems of all kinds.  This helps me to answer many questions Mums have about aches and pains. 

However, since starting Buggyfit I have completed many educational courses that has allowed me to work with women of any age and life stage.  This has all been carried out through Burrell Education, where Jenny Burrell is so passionate about women’s health care you couldn’t ask for a better teacher and role model. 

Holistic Core Restore ® is a course I have been working with for 4 years now and I have helped many women reconnect with their muscles again – abdominals and pelvic floor, and have helped them to feel confident about returning to exercise.  This is a specialist course which provides you with an education for life for looking after your pelvic floor which will not only have changed during pregnancy and birth, but its behaviour can change again when you hit the perimenopause and menopause.  During the course, you have full support from me though out the 6 weeks and there is progressive homework to complete.  This is a 6 week course but the work doesn’t stop there, The Holistic Core Restore ® Heat class is an optional follow on programme where the women progress on to a weekly exercise class that involves low impact high intensity exercise, participants can come to this as long as they wish and it is a great stepping stone to returning to previous exercise of their choice. 

This is how one class participant, mum to boys in their 20’s, so definitely not a new mum, has found this 6 week course beneficial

I had major prolapse/pelvic floor repair surgery in 2017 and was looking for a class that would help me to rebuild my pelvic floor strength.  I had been advised to look for a class run by a professional physiotherapist who would understand the implications of the surgery, as I was concerned that I did not cause myself further problems by exercising inappropriately.

Joan is an excellent teacher, being very approachable, helpful and professional, and I immediately felt confident that I had found the right class.  After three sessions, I experienced noticeable improvement in my muscle control and strength.  The equipment provided is great, and easy to use at home.  I really appreciate the fact that we can contact Joan with any questions or concerns, and the Holistic Core Restore portal provides easy access to videos of the exercises.

I have also appreciated the information about healthy eating to support the development of our physical strength.  I am looking forward to trying all the suggested recipes, which look delicious and easy to prepare, as well as nutritious.  

I would have no hesitation in recommending this class.  It has been very enjoyable and helpful, and has really helped to rebuild my confidence!

Thank you again for what has been an excellent course - I am really reaping the benefits with greater strength and confidence!

If you would also like to get your body back on track with attending this course, you can see that it’s not too late to start. E mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk.  The next 6 week block starts on Monday 16th April 8-9pm you can book your place here http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/classes/holistic-core-restore

Almond, Apricot and Chocolate Chip Energy Bars

posted by Joan Palmer

Energy Bars

Taken from Women’s Running Magazine March 2018

  • 150g (5oz) medjool dates
  • 100g (31/2 oz) ready to eat apricots
  • 125g (4oz) ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 25g (1 oz) dark chocolate chips

Place the dates in a food processor with the apricots, almonds, cocoa powder and cinnamon, and process until the mixture starts to clump together.

Add the chocolate chips and pulse until it forms the consistency of stiff cookie dough.

Spread in a cling film lined tray or in a square between 2 sheets of cling film (I didn’t quite manage to cover the bottom of a 20cm square tin)

Chill for an hour until firm and cut into pieces.

Store in fridge for up to a week or in freezer up to 3 months.

The Easy-Peasy Guide To Your Pelvic Floor (And How To Look After It)

posted by Joan Palmer

Toilet

The Easy-Peasy Guide To Your Pelvic Floor (And How To Look After It)

If you’re like many of the women I chat to, you fall into one of two categories: you’re unsure exactly what the pelvic floor is and why it’s so important to you, or you’re clued up on the mechanics but left wincing at the idea of keeping the area strong! Hands up who has the best intentions to do their daily exercises but often forgets?

Whichever category you fall into, this guide is going to talk you through: what your pelvic floor muscles are, why you need to look after them, and how to do it with ease:

What is the Pelvic Floor and why is it so important?

The Pelvic Floor is a band of muscles, ligaments, tissue and nerves which support the pelvic organs such as bladder, bowel, uterus and vagina. This part of the body helps these organs to function effectively – assisting in urinate and excretion, aiding in sexual performance, and helping to stabilise connecting joints. It also helps to guide your baby’s head down the birth canal during labour. And is the muscle which helps you hold in wind when you’d rather not let it out… It’s structured a bit like an internal trampoline!

Where can I find my Pelvic Floor?

If you place your hands each side under your bottom, palm side up, and sit with your fingers underneath your sitting bones – the pelvic floor muscle spans side to side in this space.

To get an idea of the distance it spans, find your pubic bone and your coccyx – it runs from front to back.

To feel the Pelvic Floor muscles in use, stop and start the flow of a wee next time you empty your bladder. This shouldn’t be a frequent way to exercise the muscle, but it is a great way to feel it at work when you’re getting to know the muscle.

What happens to the Pelvic Floor during a woman’s life?

The Pelvic Floor is often weakened by the stress of pregnancy and childbirth, but regular exercise and attention of this area can make the damage minimal. Other reasons your pelvic floor may get weaker during your lifetime may include:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Pushing or straining to empty the bladder
  • Heavy lifting
  • Carrying too much weight
  • Hormonal changes during menopause

Avoiding these circumstances isn’t always possible. Which is why it’s so important to exercise your pelvic floor as often as possible to keep it strong throughout your life!

What are the benefits of doing Pelvic Floor Exercises?

Pelvic Floor Exercises can help you overcome a variety of pelvic floor problems. Benefits include:

  • Strengthen bladder control (removing the urgency to urinate with exercise and strenuous activity)
  • Increased sexual sensation
  • Reduce pelvic prolapse problems – helping avoid the bulging feeling and discomfort linked with mild to moderate prolapse
  • Improved bowel control and reduction in chronic constipation and likelihood of rectal prolapse

 

How do you do Pelvic Floor Exercises?

It’s true that pelvic floor exercises require paying attention to an intimate part of your body, but that doesn’t mean that they need to be at all embarrassing, and you don’t need to remove any items of clothing! All you need to do is focus on squeezing these important internal muscles and holding them for several seconds to help strengthen them. This can be done discreetly, anywhere and anytime.

To complete a Pelvic Floor exercise (otherwise known as a ‘Kegel’) all you need to do is:

  • Keep breathing in and out as you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles – pull them up and in as if holding in a wee.  Try to ensure you are activating the whole pelvic floor from back to front.
  • Hold for 4-5 seconds to begin with, breathing in and out as normal. With practice, extend the hold to 10-15 seconds but keep breathing.
  • If you’re tightening your abdomen muscles or buttocks – you’re trying too hard. Relax and focus on your pelvic floor only.

Looking for friendly, professional support on keeping your body fit and strong without having to take out a gym membership? Mumsfit classes are specifically tailored for women who have are looking for a new lease of health, energy, and fitness in a fun atmosphere – whether you’re stuck in the post-partum haze or approaching menopause. E mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk to find out more.

Lentil and Lemon Soup

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Taken from the Sunday Times 14th Jan 2018

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp extra – virgin oil
  • 1 White onion finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 200g green lentils, rinsed well under cold running water
  • 1 ¼ litres of veg stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 85g spinach, tough stalks removed
  • Extra virgin oil to finish
  • 100g natural yogurt to finish
  • Method

    Heat the olive oil in a large pan and set over low heat.  Add the onion and celery with a pinch of salt and cook covered with lid on for 15 minutes, until they are soft but without colour.

    Add garlic and turmeric and cook for another few minutes.  Now add lentils and stir to coat them in the onion mixture.  Add the stock and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 mins until they are soft and tender.  While warm, season the lentils with salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

    Add the spinach and blitz to a rough texture.  Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and finish with the olive oil and a spoonful of yogurt.

    Running Can Be Fun: How to Start Running Safely This New Year

    posted by Joan Palmer

    running women

    Many people start the year with good intentions: intentions to make a change and commit to really getting fit this time. Unfortunately, everyday life has the knack of derailing good intentions like getting fit - especially when you’re trying to raise a family as well as look after yourself.

    Thankfully, enjoyment is a brilliant motivator. When you discover that running can be fun and safe (ie, you’re not going to do yourself damage on your first session!) then the likelihood you’ll want to keep going dramatically increases. Here’s how to make keeping fit so enjoyable it will become the highlight of your week:

    Take baby steps
    If your fitness levels are currently low, it’s crucial you go gently on yourself and build your fitness before you try to undertake a 10k jog! When you feel capable of upping your pace, it is always sensible to start gradually and build up the length and speed of your runs each session.

    If you push yourself too hard to start with, not only do you run the risk of injury, but you increase the likelihood of frustration and not wanting to try again. (There go those good intentions…)

    Warm up
    Start every run with a gentle warm-up lasting at least 5 minutes. The sort of things you might try, include: power walking, side steps, marching on the spot, knee lifts, climbing the stairs and gentle stretches.

    Make it a game
    Remember how important the fun element is? Try adding running games into your workout rather than setting out on a typical long jog. At Mumsfit, we use games which specifically work to improve your speed and form – while being straightforward and enjoyable!

    Be aware of your body
    Did you know there is a way to run ‘correctly’? To make your run more enjoyable and efficient, pay attention to your body position and relax. You want to:

    • Avoid hunching your shoulders -  this restricts the oxygen getting to your muscles.
    • Keep your arms at 90 degrees – they will then help propel you forward as they swing.
    • Relax your hands - as tight hands can lead to back and shoulder tension.
    • Keep your knees down – your knees should be lifting forward as opposed to upwards.
    • Make your hips stable, and forward – no swinging them from side to side! This reduces chance of low back or hip pain.

    Run with support
    If you really want to commit to getting fit, accountability is key. Whether you choose a close friend to chat fitness goals with or opt for professional fitness support – having someone else take your fitness seriously will increase your chances of keeping ‘at it’ even when sleep deprivation would rather have it otherwise. You’ll find encouragement goes a long way when you first start out. And what a bonus if you can keep fit and have a laugh with friends!

    Stretch to finish
    A lot of people know the importance of ‘warming up’ but aren’t aware that a ‘cool down’ period is also needed to reduce chance of post-run discomfort or injury. The aim is to lower your heart rate and get your breathing back to normal and help your muscles maintain healthy function. It’s highly recommended you finish each running session with some gentle walking and stretches – and plenty of water.

    Are you ready to start running and get fit?  

    The new Mumsfit Running Club is the perfect place to get the support you need and safely increase your overall fitness – while having fun and meeting other like-minded women. These one-hour sessions will include a simple warm-up, gentle stretching, running games and strengthening for longer runs. Each session is specifically directed to suit the group, so all abilities are welcome and tailored for.

    Find out more about our friendly running sessions now –contact Joan on 07957 308968 or e mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk this class is a Buggy free and dog free zone!

    Something for your leftover pumpkin!

    posted by Joan Palmer

    Pumkin soup

    As we have just had Halloween several of you may be overloaded with Pumpkin! If you haven’t yet had the joy of carving a pumpkin out for the children, this is still a great recipe to try. This pumpkin soup is a Jamie Oliver recipe and very simple to make, great for freezing too.

    Roasted pumpkin soup recipe

    • 1.5kg edible pumpkin
    • Olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon dried chilli
    • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
    • 1 large onion
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 stick of celery
    • 1 litre hot vegetable stock

    Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F. Half the pumpkin and remove the seeds (you can keep these for roasting), then chop into wedges. Place the pumpkin on two large baking trays and drizzle over a little olive oil. In a pestle and mortar, grind the chilli and coriander seeds with a pinch of salt until finely ground. Sprinkle the spices over the pumpkin with some black pepper. Roast the pumpkin for 1 hour, or until soft and slightly caramalised at the edges.

    Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Heat a lug of olive oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan then add the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and sweet but not coloured.

    When the squash is ready, add to the pan with the hot stock. Blend with a stick blender, adding a little more water if you like a thinner consistency.

    Ladle into bowls and add you favourite toppings.

    Grease a loaf tin or line with parchment paper and pour in batter. Bake for 35-50mins

    More time for breakfast at half term?

    posted by Joan Palmer

    banana pancakes

    We’ve nearly hit half term – hooray! One of the nicest things about half term is that we don’t have to rush in the mornings and we can take a bit more time to have breakfast.

    Pancakes are a lovely thing to have for breakfast but you may not want to have the version with the flour if you are looking to lose a few pounds and look after your gut.

    Here’s a simple recipe for banana pancakes that’s just bananas and eggs! A great protein breakfast that will keep you going for longer. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

    • 1 very ripe banana
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tbsp of ground flax seed (optional)
    • ¼ tsp of pure vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp of coconut oil

    Method

    Mix together banana and eggs until smooth. Add optional ingredients if using. Heat coconut oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Scoop batter, about 1/4 cup per pancake, onto the skillet and cook until the centre starts to bubble, about 30 seconds. Flip pancakes and cook until bottoms are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes more.

    If you have any favourite breakfast recipes why not pass them on and we can share them.

    Foot, ankle or knee pain post pregnancy?

    posted by Joan Palmer

    As a Buggyfit instructor, I see a lot of new mums every week. Occasionally, new mums will come to me complaining of pain in their knee, ankle or foot which has only occurred since pregnancy and beyond.

    Quite often, these pains can develop due to the changes in posture that occur during pregnancy. There are changes in posture throughout the body, but one of the areas that could be contributing to knee, ankle or foot pain is a tightness in the calf muscle due to changes in foot posture. You may have noticed that your foot has become a little wider and your toes more splayed along with a loss of the arch on the inside of your foot causing you to roll in on the foot a little more when standing still.

    The actual cause of this problem can stem from changes much further up the body which would need to be assessed and addressed to solve the problem (all of which I can help you with) but in the meantime there is something you can do to help alleviate some of the problem.

    To help alleviate the tightness in the calf muscle, you can start with some simple stretching exercises. You may have stretched your calf muscle before an exercise class, but what is important now is that to make any difference to the muscle and how you stretch it, you need to try and keep your back foot in the stretch below as straight as possible, pointing directly forward.

    Calf

    With a tightness in the muscle you will be inclined to want to keep your foot turned out. You may need to stretch both sides but the foot that is at the back with the straight knee, is the one you are stretching the calf on.

    Calf

    Stretch 2 (above) is a general stretch for the whole calf area where you stand on your bottom step holding on to the bannister, and let both heels drop down below the step. With both of these stretches, you need to take it to the point where you just start to feel a pull and hold it for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. It’s best to stretch when you are warm so after a bath or shower is a good option or after a walk or some exercise. Remember, the stretch may not fix things for you but it is a good starting point. To get to the bottom of any issues associated with this then please get in touch joan@mumsfit.co.uk

    Get out for your free ingredient!

    posted by Joan Palmer

    blackberries

    What could be better than getting something for free!! You can get yourself out into the countryside and pick some blackberries.

    Not only are you getting something for free but you’ll be benefitting from some fresh air. Maybe you’ll have a good walk to get to some or even go on a bike! Whatever your mode of transport here is a recipe that can utilise your hard work and it’s sugar free! This has been taken from the Good Things magazine.

    • 50g of Blackberries
    • 10 Medjool dates
    • 50g of desiccated coconut plus extra for rolling
    • 200g of porridge oats (Use less if you like your energy balls to be a bit gooey!)
    • 1 vanilla bean scraped
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon

    In a food processor blend the oats until the consistency of flour. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until fully combined.

    Roll the mixture into 16 balls and roll each ball in desiccated coconut until fully coated.

    Place in the freezer for half an hour then then place in the fridge until serving.

    These will last 2 weeks in the fridge.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Aubergine Chocolate Brownies

    posted by Joan Palmer

    Gluten Free Banana Bread

    This recipe has been taken from ‘The clever guts diet – how to revolutionise your body from the inside out’ by Dr Michael Mosley.

    • 1 medium aubergine (200g) peeled and diced
    • 150g dark chocolate (Min 70% cocoa) broken up
    • 60g coconut oil
    • 60g soft pitted dates, diced
    • 1/2tsp salt
    • 3 eggs, beaten
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 80g ground almonds
    • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C

    Steam aubergine 15-20mins until soft. When it’s ready place it in a bowl with the chocolate and coconut oil. The warm aubergine will melt the oil and chocolate.

    Add the chopped dates and salt and place in a food processor. Blitz the mixture until smooth. It should now be cool enough to add the eggs and baking powder. Blitz again for another minute or so and then mix in the ground almonds.

    Spread the mixture in a lined baking tray (I used 20cm square tin) and bake for about 20 mins. It is cooked when a knife comes out clean.

    It does say that you could make cupcakes, divide mixture in a 12 hole cupcake tray and bake for 15-20mins.

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