Enriching your Diet While Breastfeeding

Maintaining your healthy eating habits while breastfeeding is as important as it was during pregnancy. Your food choices can help optimize the nutrition composition  of your breastmilk, the quantity of your supply, and the resultant health of your baby for years to come.  


A Beginners Guide To Lifting Weights In Scary Gyms

So you’ve bought your gym membership.

You’ve heard how great lifting weights is for your health, longevity and to get you toned.

You’ve got all the kit, you’ve booked the time in your diary.  Off you head to the gym after work at 7pm.  It’s a Monday – prime time.

You venture into the weights room and you’re confronted with a sea of mostly muscle-clad men, grunting away, throwing weights around.  They all seem to know each other; talking loudly about how much they bench or listening to their headphones whilst intensely staring into space.

There doesn’t seem to be any space for you anywhere.

The machines suddenly look three feet taller and you feel a foot smaller. Like a scene from a western, everyone stops their conversations, turns around and looks you up and down.  You can hear their thoughts:

“What are you doing in here?”

“You don’t belong here.”

“This place isn’t for you.”

“Stop taking up space, you don’t know what you’re doing anyway.”

You imagine worst-case scenarios –you’ll drop a weight on your head and end up in hospital whilst everyone points and laughs at you. After visualising this, at best, you might trundle up to the cardio section and watch TV whilst on the cross-trainer for 20 minutes.

At worst, you’ll just head back home and vow never to frequent a gym ever again.

Lift or shift?

This is an all too familiar scenario. When I speak to people about why they wouldn’t venture into the weights room in the first place, their reasons fall into the following categories:

“I feel like I’d stick out like a sore thumb and people would laugh at me.”

“I don’t know how to use the machines.”

“I don’t know where to start – what weights to lift, or what things to do.”

Fear of judgement. Fear of the unknown. Fear of starting.

These are powerful emotions that send us into our fight or flight mode, and most people would fly in this situation.

So how can we get over these fears?

Firstly, lets reframe our mindset, and then we’ll go through some practical strategies for getting over these fears.

Imposter syndrome

Many people feel like they don’t belong in the gym, like they’re not the right kind of personality or the right kind of look – an imposter.

Although, last time I checked, there weren’t any pre-requisites for being part of a gym.  You pay a gym membership like everyone else.  This means you’re allowed access to the WHOLE gym, like everyone else. Not just part of it.

You are 100% entitled to take up that space.

You are 100% allowed to make mistakes and do things that look a little crap. You’re a beginner. That’s okay. When did you ever start doing something new and nail it perfectly first time? Thought not. Same goes for weight training.

Remember; those toned, muscly, strong people you see in the gym, who might intimidate you, weren’t born that way. They were all beginners once too.

Once you shift your focus to learning, not performing, you’ll reap the rewards.  But what’s the best way to start the learning process?

Building gym confidence

The 4 stages of competencemay be something you’ve heard of before:

Stage 1 – Unconscious Incompetence (you don’t know you’re doing things wrong)

Stage 2 – Conscious Incompetence (you know you’re probably doing things wrong)

Stage 3 – Conscious Competence (you are aware you are probably doing things correctly)

Stage 4 – Unconscious Competence (you don’t even have to think about doing things correctly)

If you head into the gym full of confidence but having never done any research or had any professional direction you will probably fall into stage one (which is still a lot of people in the gym!)

However, if you struggle with gym confidence you’re probably more at stage 2 – all too aware that you’re doing things wrong.

It may take a while to get to stage 4, but with a little help and research stage 3 is within easy reach with enough preparation.

Free PT sessions

Most gyms should provide you with an induction anyway, but these can be very brief and not useful for what you want to achieve.  If you can, ask for a complimentary PT session and have a think about your goals clearly before you go.

Have a list of things you specifically want to learn how to do and make those a priority.

If you want to get into weight training, make it clear you want to specifically be shown how to use the resistance machines, cable pulleys, and squat rack (if the gym has one) and just get familiar with where everything is.

Bearing in mind the PT may only have half an hour or an hour to do this, here are some questions to focus on:

How to use a squat rack:

NB: You may not have the skill or strength to squat the bar just yet if you are a complete beginner

  1. How do I adjust the height of the bar?
  2. What height is right for me?
  3. How do I move the safety pins?
  4. How do you secure the weights onto the bar?
  5. How much does the bar weigh? Is there a lighter bar I could use?
  6. Where are the clips, weights and barbells stored (if it’s not obvious)?
  7. How do I unrack and rerack the bar?
  8. Other than squats, what else could I use the squat rack for?
  9. If the rack is in use, is there another way I could perform a squat or work my legs and glutes?

How to use a cable machine:

NB: These machines have so many uses so your PT may not be able to show you all of them

  1. Can you show me an upper body push, upper body pull, and a core exercise I can do with these?
  2. How can I work the same muscles if all the pulley machines are in use?
  3. How do I change the weight?

How to use gym resistance machines:

NB: Most of these are easier to use and have guided instructions written on them

  1. How do I adjust the seat so I am in the correct position? (the pins with which to do this are often very stiff!)
  2. How do I change the weight?
  3. How do I safely get off this machine? (NB this particularly applies to the incline leg press and the assisted pull up machine)

Once the PT shows you each thing, insist that you have a go setting up all this equipment whilst the PT watches you to check.

I can guarantee you, you won’t remember or feel comfortable doing it if you’re on your own otherwise.If you still feel unsure I would recommend investing in a few PT sessions to get you on your way until you feel comfortable that you could do this on your own.

Take a mate

If hiring a PT is not for you, then ask a friend who already weight trains to take you along.

You’ll feel more relaxed and have fun in the process. If neither of you know how to do something, YouTube probably has the answer.

Weight training does require a certain amount of resting between sets. This is a great opportunity to catch-up with your friend. If you make it a social occasion and enjoy it then you’ll be more likely to stick to it.

Having your friend there to motivate you and bring out your competitive side is only a good thing.  Plus, if you ever get to the stage where you need a spot for your bench they’ll come in handy!

Let’s get started

With so many machines, weights and equipment it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So where do you start?

It can look complicated, but the key is to keep it simple. Focus on what you want to work on that day:legs? Back? Upper-body? Core? All of them?

Once you’ve had your induction and you’re familiar with where everything is, make sure you have:

– A written plan of what you want to do that day and ideally for the week
– A back-up plan for reach exercise if the equipment you want is in use
– Internet connection or downloaded ‘how to’ videos on each exercise if you need a reminder

As a side note, there’s nothing wrong with rocking up into the weights area swinging around weights, just having a go, whether you’re doing it ‘right’ or not. The reality is, even if you do something with terrible form, you’ll probably see some progress no matter what you do.

Don’t stress about performing everything perfectly all the time every time. All you have to do is start.

Assuming you want to get toned and strong, below is a guide to get you started which targets the whole body.

This list is in no way exhaustive, and there are plenty of other alternatives you can perform and hit the same muscles, and many ways you could structure your program.

For example, if you plan on training two days a week then you should probably aim to make each of those a whole body workout. But, if it’s three to five days a week, you can split the program up and maybe focus on one or two body sections at a time.

In terms of sets and reps, aim for three sets and mix up the days you perform lighter weights at 8-15 reps, and higher weights at lower reps of 4-7.

As a beginner, you’ll see improvements, strength and muscle gain no matter what you do, but once you’ve been training consistently for a year or so, you may benefit from a more detailed and structured program.

Unless you feel quite knowledgeable on the subject, this is where a coach or PT would be useful.

Now go you.

A beginner’s guide to weight training

To get started as a beginner, pick one exercise from each section:

Lower Body –quads, hamstrings, glutes & quads

Barbell back squat
Leg press
Dumbbell goblet squat
Barbell deadlift
Kettlebell deadlift
Barbell hip thrust


Barbell reverse lunges
Dumbbell reverse lunges
Dumbbell step ups
Bulgarian split squat
Single leg hip thrust on the bench
Hamstring curl machine
Leg extension machine
Abductor machine
Adductor machine

Upper body –push (chest, shoulders, triceps)

Bench press
Incline press
Decline press
Dumbbell chest press
Barbell strict press
Dumbbell shoulder press


Cable triceps push downs
Dumbbell triceps kick backs

Upper body – pull (lats, lower and upper back, biceps) 

Lat pull down
Assisted pull up machine
Seated cable row


Single arm dumbbell rows
Cable pulley face pulls
Dumbbell bicep curls

Core (abs)

Cable chop
Pallof press
Renegade rows
Dumbbell Pull overs

Dealing with jerks

All of the above should help you feel more comfortable and knowledgeable in the gym.

Be prepared for the first session to feel awkward, but it only gets easier after that.  The general experience in gyms is a friendly one, and most people are happy to share equipment, and help you use machines.

However, like all walks of life, the gym is not exempt from idiots, giving out unsolicited advice.

When you are new to exercise and weight training you’re particularly vulnerable because you assume everyone else in the gym is already doing everything perfectly. As a personal trainer, I see so many poorly executed, potentially dangerous exercises going on – all performed with utter confidence.

So, when someone comes up to you and tells you not to do “X” like that – how are you to know if what they’re telling you you’re doing wrong is good advice? Why have you assumed they know more than you? Indeed, why have they assumed they know more than you?

To illustrate this, I’ve been told on occasion by random strangers in commercial gyms that I shouldn’t bench with an arch in my back.

Arching whilst benching is a powerlifting technique that is safe if you do it correctly; but they didn’t know what they didn’t know, (stage 1 of the competence hierarchy) and so felt obliged to give me some advice.

I’m sure it was meant with good intent, but this is just an example of how you shouldn’t always take on board someone’s advice.

If in doubt seek out a personal trainer’s opinion. If you’re sure you’re doing something correct, then just politely inform them that this is how a professional PT showed you how to do it.

Don’t take the BS

No matter who you are, and what your exercise history; gyms should be an inclusive and friendly space that make it easy for you achieve your goals.

If for any reason you still feel this isn’t the case, don’t forget you have the power to affect change in the industry.

If someone is hassling or intimidating you out of your space, make them aware of it and if needed give this feedback to the gym.

If you’re open and willing to learn but your gym environment is so hostile that it doesn’t make this possible because you feel so uncomfortable, that is not your failing – it’s the gyms.

A lot of women struggle to get into weight training for these reasons.

It doesn’t help that all the equipment is large and heavy, and if you’re a smaller woman, or cannot lift heavy yet, then the equipment is often a struggle to use. But the more you get in there, the more the industry should adapt to supply the demand.

Bonus: A few tips for gym etiquette

Follow these rules and won’t go far wrong:

  • Always strip your bar of weights and put them back after use.
  • Try not to hog too many machines at the same time – allow others to use machines whilst you’re resting.
  • Most people should share equipment – so ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing if it’s an easy piece of kit to use and change the weights on quickly (for the squat rack and bench press it may be worth waiting).
  • Wipe down any sweaty machines after use.
  • Don’t try and talk to someone whilst they’re in the middle of performing their set.
  • Don’t talk loudly on your phone the whole time.
  • Be aware of those around you.

The post A Beginners Guide To Lifting Weights In Scary Gyms appeared first on Food For Fitness.


Your Postpartum Questions Answered!

The first weeks postpartum can bring about a lot of postpartum questions. While those initial weeks postpartum are extremely magical and challenging all at the same time. I know how hard it can be to navigate your way through this stage with the postpartum hormones, body changes, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. Over the past 15 years of working with postpartum clients and going through this 3 times myself, I wanted to share with you some of my tips that can help ease you into this new stage of your life!

1. ENJOY the bonding time with your baby!

Even in the midst of all the chaos, sleep deprivation, body changes and the fog of hormones, enjoy the moments with your new bundle of joy.

2. Ask for HELP!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help! In fact, I recommend setting this up ahead of time with a friend, family member or even hiring yourself a housekeeper to help clean your house as this can help minimize your stress level and allow you to enjoy bonding time with baby. It also gives you more time to rest, recover and adjust to life as a new mama.

3. Begin some Mindful Movement.

This is movement, not exercise, and should be minimal. You can start by strapping your baby to your chest, lightly activating your deep core and walking around the block or your house. This movement applies to you whether you have had a vaginal or cesarean delivery; just note that if you had a cesarean delivery, you might need to wait a little longer to start doing this movement because you need to allow time for your incision to heal. Listen to your body and go as slow as you need to. This movement can help your body relieve some of those aches + pains and begin its road to recovery.

Listen to this episode for all my other details + tips I share!

These are 3 movements that could help your recovery, including recovery of your pelvic floor and of course, your deep core.  Ready for even more (including things you can learn and implement into your life in those first weeks postpartum) check out Core Rehab for more!

Pelvic Tilts. These are great for beginning to awaken your deep core and also feel so good on your hips and pelvis.

Inversion Work. Put a pillow under your hips and allow gravity to help draw the uterus back up into the pelvic floor. This can help pelvic floor prolapse symptoms you may be experiencing as well.

Hip Rolls. These are amazing and will really help you begin to stimulate your deep core. Keep your range of motion small.

You may not feel any activation in your deep core at first and that is absolutely ok!!  Your recovery is a journey and will take time for your bones, skin and your body to move back into its original position. Embrace your body because look what you just made!

Watch the video below to learn how to check for diastasis recti. I encourage you to wait at least 10 weeks before checking but don’t worry, the exercises listed above are safe for abdominal separation!

4. Nourish your body.

Make sure you are getting enough good, healthy fat in your diet, especially if you are nursing. Eating a healthy diet to keep you going and staying hydrated plays a huge role in how you feel.

One tip I always give to new mamas is every time you sit down to nurse, drink two cups of water. This can help you stay hydrated and keep you going day after day!

Make sure you are talking with your doctor about supporting your adrenals. This is especially important as you become more sleep deprived. There are a lot of great natural supplements out there that can help give your adrenals the boost they need to help keep you going. Don’t be afraid to bring this up with your doctor!

5. Embrace the Journey!

Be patient with your body and show yourself grace, love and compassion through this beautiful chaotic time. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else because everyone’s bodies are different. Embrace each day and know that you will come out on the other side empowered!

I have been so inspired to help more and more women upgrade their life and have the opportunity to get their body confidence back after having babies that I just knew I had to reach more women and that’s why I created my Core Rehab Membership.

My membership is full of life-changing tips and techniques that women from all around the world have been able to heal diastasis recti, eliminate incontinence, prevent aches + pains all while rebalancing your body. My foundational elements are scientifically proven to maximize results! If you liked what you read today and want to learn more, give yourself permission to rejuvenate your body and begin your Core Rehab Membership today!!

Mentioned In This Episode

Episode Quotes

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Top Tips for Busy Moms to Find Time to Exercise

As moms, we are responsible for so many things, and sometimes it’s easy for our health and well-being to get left behind, especially with the chaos of the holiday season approaching. Don’t forget, though, that you are one of the most important primary role-models for your children. Focusing on your own health and wellness can often lead to improved health of your entire family. So when it feels like you are overwhelmed and too busy to workout, we hear you (the struggle is most definitely real). So. we’ve got you, Mama…

The 7 Most Popular Recipes Of 2018

1. Cheesy One Pan Mexican Beef

From The High Protein Handbook 3

This recipe is probably the most popular in book 3. But let’s be honest, what’s not to like? It’s very easy to make, its cheesy, its meaty and it’s full of Mexican flavour. A winner on all fronts.

2. Nasi Goreng – Indonesian Fried Rice

From our website: Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng is the national dish of Indonesia cooked by street vendors in food carts across the country. It’s extremely easy to make and it tastes delicious!

3. St Mary’s Chicken

From The High Protein Handbook 1

St Mary’s Chicken is a super rich winner from The High Protein Handbook. It’s less than 300 calories and it’s a mid-week winner. If you’re wondering why it’s called “St Mary’s Chicken” it’s because I came up with it while I was doing a food prep course as part of my Masters at St Mary’s. So now you know.

4. Mexican Lasagne

From The High Protein Handbook 2

What happens when you cross a lasagne with a plate of fajitas and some enchiladas? A ridiculous recipe called Mexican Lasagne which is one of the most popular of all time!

5. Cajun Chicken Jambalaya

From our website: Cajun Chicken Jambalaya

This is an absolute winner of a recipe that is one of the most downloaded recipes from our website! Cajun Chicken Jambalaya is a spicy, high protein, gluten free dish that you will love. Jambalaya originates from Louisiana and the name means ‘mixed up’ in French. That’s the beauty of this recipe, you can throw anything into it; different vegetables, you can swap the chicken for other meats and change the spices around too.

6. Peanut Chicken [Slow Cooker]

From The High Protein Handbook 4

This recipe for Peanut Chicken from The High Protein Handbook 4 (Slow Cooker Special) is really easy to make, tastes epic and is just over 300 calories per portion. If you’re looking for some healthy dinner ideas to cook this week, then this is a winner!

7. Chicken Biryani

From The High Protein Handbook 1

This Chicken Biryani is without a doubt one of my favourite recipes to cook. Once you make it, you’ll see why.

The post The 7 Most Popular Recipes Of 2018 appeared first on Food For Fitness.

Meet FIT4MOM’s 300th Franchisee!

FIT4MOM was founded upon the notion that mothers desperately need community, TLC, support, and a warm and welcoming pre and postnatal fitness environment. When our founding mama, Lisa Druxman, was a new mama, she needed all of these things for herself; and it has been her mission to bring this to moms, everywhere, ever since. This month, we celebrate our 300th franchisee! 

Do You Have a Picky Eater At Home?

“But my little one used to be such an adventurous eater! It’s as if they hit toddlerhood and preschool and turned into a picky little monster who only wants unhealthy foods!” We often hear this as kids start to develop their own likes and dislikes when it comes to their “preschool palate.”


Wrap Battle | What Wrap Does Your Core Need After Baby?

Belly Wraps, Corsets, Support Bands, Oh My!!

There are so many of these products out there and they promise big things. Buyer beware though because too much restriction on the core postpartum can cause the muscles to become even weaker; using the wrap or corset as a crutch. So, I took my top postpartum support products and broke them all down for you, Mama!

A Few Notes: Each band was used after delivering my baby and giving myself a week of recovery without any wraps or bands. I really like the idea of the body getting at least a week of natural recovery. I wore each band according to their instructions and for about 6-8 weeks.

First, we have the BaoBei Belly Sport Band:

This guy was designed by a PT and is the most comfortable band I have used! This is technically for maternity support, but I used it after my pregnancy from weeks 1-8 for light support.

The Sport band is wonderful for freshly postpartum Mamas who need a reminder to straighten their backs during feedings or everyday activities. This band is very lightweight and super stretchy, so not for Mamas looking for a tighter feel. Unlike a wrap or corset, I was able to wear the Sport Band during workouts and really engage my Core. Great for all-day wear, under clothes and nursing friendly!

The biggest difference in the Belly Wrap and a support band is the structure and tightness of the material. I wore the Belly Wrap after labor for about 6 weeks and while a band is good for all day; a wrap or corset is recommended for 8-12 hours of wear per day and fits very snug!

The BFF Wrap feels like it is extremely high quality and for the first few weeks it fit super tight and held my new belly in really well! There was enough compression for me and my uterus to feel supported but not suffocated. After removing the BFF Wrap I truly did see a difference in belly size. I then did my Core work without the wrap to take advantage of my Core being turned on! The smaller my belly got; however, the bulkier the wrap became and I could only really wear it at home.

Great for part-of-the-day wear, pretty noticeable under clothes and nursing friendly.

Last but not least is the Bellefit Corset:

A corset is the tightest and most structured of the three postpartum support options so, you must be careful on sizing! However, the Bellefit website has the most comprehensive sizing guide, in my opinion.

I tried the Bellefit around 10 weeks postpartum (It is recommended for right after birth) BUT I still saw great results! I also did not wear the corset for many hours at a time because I have never been able to get used to tight fitting clothes or shapewear but again; I saw great results!

The Bellefit is medical grade and they ain’t lying it is extremely high quality. The best part about this corset is that it really hugged my hips and after a few weeks I was able to size down from a Medium to a Small.

Like a wrap, I do not recommend doing Core work while wearing because you can’t really engage the Core on your own. Great for part-of-the-day wear, noticeable under pants BUT they have a thong option, nursing friendly.

There you have it Mamas, my top three postpartum support options! Remember, these help in recovery but aren’t a replacement for Core Rehab exercises. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Coach Annie

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