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Exercising as a family

Exercising as a family

The proven benefits of leading an active life are well known. Yet the reality of achieving the recommended 30 minutes a day of physical activity seems impossible for so many, especially those with a family.

With parenthood comes an interesting yet real paradox. On one hand, our life is so busy that in order to fulfil our responsibilities as a parent, especially a working one, we don’t have time for regular workouts. Yet on the other hand, if we don’t exercise regularly, it hinders our ability to be the best parent we can be, both physically and mentally.

As a working mother of two young children, I completely understand the challenge of scheduling exercise into life. However with my kids being my biggest motivator, I know I must find the time.

How do I achieve this?

I no longer view my parenting responsibilities as a roadblock to achieving fitness goals. I have chosen to schedule exercise time with my children, instead of around them. This provides both physical and emotional benefits for the whole family by allowing for quality time and family bonding, whilst gaining the benefits of physical activity.

Just as, or perhaps more importantly, when you lead an active lifestyle, you help inspire your children to be active. Research shows that parents are their childrens' most influential role model and they are more likely to do what you do, than do what you say. With children and teens less active than ever, spending much of their downtime watching TV, on computers or playing video games, exercising as a family provides even further benefit.

If you think you are too busy to exercise regularly, here are some ways to overcome it by getting fit with your family:

Bond with your baby through exercise (children 0-2)

Don’t wait till your baby is asleep to fit in your exercise. Exercise with your baby by using him/her as resistance or interaction. For example push up kisses, or squats holding your baby. For 48 ways you can work-out with your baby check out www.babyweights.com.au

Embrace your inner child and play with your kids (children 2-12)

Focus on having fun. With younger kids, have fun with them in the local playground. Climb on the monkey bars with them, push them on the swings, climb the frames with them. As they become more physically capable, play games that encourage movement such as hopscotch, chasey, hide and seek, jump rope, hula hoop, trampoline jumping, frisbee and ball games. For older kids, set up some challenges.

For example, see who can balance on one leg the longest, or crab crawl races. Let your imagination have some fun. Most kids love challenging their parents and they will not even realise they are exercising.

Encourage functional exercise (children 4-18)

Do physical activity that has a purpose. As a family you can walk the dog, ride bikes to do local errands, weed the garden, hand wash the car, do house chores, walk, ride or scoot to school, etc.

Have a Boogie (all ages)

Pump the music and have a dance in your living room. No matter what age dancing is a great way to move your body. It will also bring the added benefit of laughing together.

Pool play (children 5-18)

As an adult you might think of swimming laps when you think of exercising in the pool, but there are lots of ways to exercise in the water. Practice your handstands with your kids. Instead of just throwing objects in the water for your kids, dive down with them to collect them, have them ride on your back as you swim through the water, have jumping races in the shallow end, and play pool games like Marco Polo.

Train together. (children 10-18) 

If you have older kids, go on runs or brisk walks together. As an extra motivator, measure and time your runs/walks. For the more adventurous, try rock climbing or rollerblading. You can also involve your younger kids while you train by having them ride their bikes while you walk or jog.

By joining your children in daily physical activity, you’ll all benefit from spending quality time together as well as the obvious health benefits. A family that exercises together, stays happy and healthy together.

 

 

 

Has breastfeeding become a “pain in the neck”?

HAS BREASTFEEDING BECOME A “PAIN IN THE NECK”?

 

Let me start this post by saying I’m definitely pro breastfeeding, hence between my two children I breastfed for a combined time of over 2 years. However, despite the many benefits for both mum and baby, there is a downside for mums, let’s call it, ‘breastfeeding posture syndrome’ (note: this is not a technical term – I have just made it up). Let’s face it, the reality is mums are almost always tired, and when their baby is crying for a feed (daytime or in the middle of the night), typically all a mum thinks about is getting milk into her little cherub, and generally is not too concerned about whether she is in the most supportive chair, with text book posture, engaged tummy muscles, feet on a footstool, and everything she needs during the feed in arms reach… I think you get my point. The ideal and the reality are not in sync most of the time. Let me add that I am not encouraging an unfavourable set up, I am just keeping it real and I understand what actually happens.

So let’s look now at what you can do to help ease tightness around your neck, shoulders and upper back- these are the areas that suffer the most from the often hunched over position during breastfeeding. Here are four easy stretches that should take no more than a couple minutes, so no excuses!

stretching blog photo

 

NECK

  • Bending your  left arm, place it behind your back
  • Place your right arm on your head and gently pull towards your shoulder until stretch is felt
  • Repeat on other side

 

CHEST AND ARMS

  • Interlace your fingers behind your back
  • Turn your elbows inward and slowly raise your arms
  • Make sure you do not arch your back

 

SHOULDER BLADE

  • Bend your arms and place them out in front
  • Wrap your left arm under your right elbow and place your  left hand on your  right wrist
  • Pull your shoulders back, then raise your arms until your feel a stretch around your  right shoulder blade
  • Lower and repeat on other side

 

CHEST

  • Place your left hand on the wall with a flat palm and your finger facing behind you
  • Turn your shoulders to the right side until a stretch is felt and hold
  • Repeat on other side

Please be aware that the hormone relaxin remains in your system for up to 5 months after you give birth. Do not push your stretches too far during this time.

Here are a couple of simple tips to help prevent that “pain in the neck”:

  1. Don’t continue to look at your baby throughout the feed (yes I know this can be hard as they are quiet and very cute while feeding)
  2. Bring your baby to breast, not your breast to baby!

 

A common question I have been asked by many new mums is:

Can I exercise if I am breastfeeding?

The short answer is yes. Of course low impact exercise is less likely to make the breasts sore. You might choose to exercise after feeding your baby, so your breasts won’t feel uncomfortably full.
Some research suggests that breastfeeding straight after very rigorous exercise, can cause milk to contain high levels of lactic acid that can temporarily affect taste. However, this only applies to truly strenuous exercise .

Hey Mama, It’s not a tattoo!

HEY MAMA, IT’S NOT A TATTOO!

The starting of an exercise program is often the hardest part. Starting anything new, whether it’s personal or business related can be overwhelming making it hard to begin.

I recently came across a great phrase in a blog article from Karen Gunton-  http://buildalittlebiz.com, which said “It’s not a tattoo”. This was in relation to business but the same concept is true for starting anything, including an exercise program. You don’t need to wait for the situation to be just right  in order to start, we often don’t even figure out what’s just right until we begin. An exercise program is not permanent like a tattoo and can be changed daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly and so on. You can do what suits you best at the time. Of course specific exercise programs will help you achieve specific goals, however the most important thing is just to get started. Once you start the specifics can be further tailored to your desired outcome.

So no matter how fit you currently are or how much exercise you’ve done or not done in your past, JUST GET STARTED!

Below is a sample babyweights program to get your started. This is a simple program that requires little time and caters for all fitness levels.  There are many exercises that you can do that provide results without any resistance at all.  Babyweights uses your baby as your resistance , however you can use a traditional dumbbell, your pet or even a household item.  For those mums who choose to follow this babyweights program to get started, it will allow you to bond and play with your baby while you exercise. Simple, fun and effective, great ingredients to help you get started!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chest Press

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor
  • Hold your baby around her/his chest and lie her/him      tummy down on your chest
  • Straighten your arms and raise your baby into the air
  • Lower your baby to your chest
  • Repeat

Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor
  • Place your baby on your hips or chest and tilt your pelvis inward, bringing your pubic bone toward your naval
  • Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Release  hold
  • Repeat

Be sure not to squeeze your butt muscles whilst performing exercise

Hip Raise           

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor
  • Place your baby on your hips, tilt your pelvis inward and squeeze your glutes
  • Slowly raise your hips into the air and hold for 3-5 seconds
  • Lower to floor
  • Repeat

 Be sure not to turn your neck throughout the exercise

Perform 12-15 reps of each exercise and as there is only 3 exercises in this simple starter program I suggest repeating each exercise 3 times.

One day you may look back on your first run or what resistance you used to squat and criticise  yourself or think how weak or unfit you were. Don’t judge your starting point. Instead be grateful as it reminds us how far we have come and it validates your courage to get started.

Remember as the phrase “it’s not a tattoo” says, your exercise program today is not permanent, it will continue to change as you and your situation does. So don’t wait for the perfect moment, the perfect exercise program and the perfect amount of time, because who knows what you thought was the perfect situation might not be that perfect after all.

Mums multi-task their way to fitness

Mums multi-task their way to fitness

I have been spending a fair bit of time on the internet lately (I call it research) and a common theme mums all over the world are blogging about is “how can new mums find the time to exercise”?


Most of us know that exercise has many proven benefits for mothers. A few of these include regaining pelvic floor muscle function, enhancing strength and flexibility, losing baby weight and even reducing the risk of postpartum depression. But between taking care of your baby, supermarket shopping, cooking and cleaning, all while sleep deprived, most mums say they can barely manage the occasional walk, let alone a fitness regime.

Or can they?

With winter over, and an internal desire to feel great for the warmer months, let me help you lose the excuses, get motivated and get moving!
By this I don’t mean you need to commit to long sessions in the gym or even long exercise sessions at all. What I am proposing is achievable for EVERYONE! We have all heard of snacking when it comes to eating, let’s transfer this concept to exercise!

Most mums don’t have a spare hour or even half hour to do an exercise program, so instead break your exercise program down into multiple sessions of 5-15 minutes, with a goal to accumulate 30 minutes a day.

Of course, with the arrival of Spring there may be days you get out for a half hour walk, but for those days you just can’t find the time, why not give “exercise snacking” a real go?

It’s proven how good mums are at multi-tasking, well here are five exercises you can do without putting any extra time aside:

1.When you find yourself pacing the corridor trying to settle your baby use your time effectively by doing walking lunges or even squats


2. When you’re sitting on the floor with your baby and not sure what to do with him or her, try some push up kisses


3. While you are waiting for the bath to run do tricep bath dips


4. Do calf raises while washing the dishes


5. Hold your tummy muscles in while at red lights (make sure you don’t hold your breath at the same time)

It doesn’t get much easier or time efficient than this! These are all easy exercises to apply to your daily routine

 

Need more convincing, visit my babyweights Facebook page regularly throughout September and follow my tips to boost your health and work it out in Spring!

START YOUR EXERCISE SNACKING TODAY!

 

For more ways to fit exercise into your busy world, purchase babyweights exercise cards – 48 low impact exercises you can do with your baby – a convenient, cost-effective, playful and creative way to get back into shape without time away from your baby.
For full list of stockists go to: http://babyweights.com.au/stockists/ or Buy now online: http://babyweights.com.au/stockists/online-stores

The story behind babyweights

The story behind babyweights

After a couple of years in the making, I am proud and excited to see babyweights – bond with your baby through exercise hit the market in June 2012.

As a mother of two, I completely understand the new challenges and priorities that come with motherhood. I know all too well the good intentions most mums have of losing their baby weight, regaining their strength, getting their pelvic floor muscles functioning effectively and regaining their fitness, however putting these goals into action can prove challenging with a new baby. After feeding and settling your baby, changing nappies, doing the housework, doing the food shopping, preparing family meals, possibly looking after your other kids, and juggling everything else that comes with motherhood, all while being sleep deprived, finding the time and energy to exercise is certainly a challenge.

This challenge matched with a career in health and fitness and my genuine interest in the impact pregnancy and mothering has on a woman’s body, prompted me to start a business (mummy and millie) in 2004, instructing postnatal mums and baby fitness classes. While the benefits of these classes were obvious, some mothers found it difficult to commit to set class times due to the realities of motherhood. After 6 years of taking classes, I knew I needed to come up with a way of helping mums achieve their health and fitness goals in a fun and functional way without particular time constraints or time away from their baby. So I began to work on my new baby… babyweights.

 Due to my own realities of juggling work and family, it took longer than originally planned but with patience, perseverance and hard work it all came together and is now available in stores. (http://babyweights.com.au/stockists/)

babyweights is a deck of expertly devised exercise cardsbabyweights is a deck of expertly devised exercise flash cards for  mothers to perform with their baby, allowing them to get back into shape and providing them both with physical and emotional benefits. It offers upper body, middle body, lower body and stretching exercises to give a well- rounded workout. No expensive gyms. No babysitting. No time away from baby.

  • Caters for all fitness levels
  • Provides images of real mums performing the exercises with their own baby
  • Clear and simple instructions for each exercise

So next time you’re pacing the corridor trying to settle your baby use your time effectively by doing walking lunges* or even squats* or when you are sitting on the floor with your baby and not sure what to do with him/her, try some push up kisses*.

It is the perfect way for mothers to look after themselves and their baby.

*Instructions in babyweights deck