26Nov/18

New BritMums Health & Fitness Roundup Editor

I’m very excited to be the new BritMums Health & Fitness Round-up Editor!

BritMums is a community website for Mums to chat, read, learn, find out what’s going on in the world or parenting and find like minded parents in the same stage of life.

Health & Fitness Roundup blogs will be published monthly.

My first roundup was for World Vegan Month and can be found here.

The second post, Healthy Christmas Drinks, is here.

All future and past posts can be found on my author page here.

23Nov/18

Mums in Business – The Pramshed Interview

The Pramshed is a Blog by Claire about Parenting, Pregnancy, Career, Travel and Lifestyle.

As part of her Mums in Busines series she’s interviewing Mums from all different backgrounds and businesses.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU, YOUR BACKGROUND AND THE FIT MUM FORMULA?

I help Mums lose weight, get fit, and have more energy and body confidence with online coaching, programmes and tonnes of free content with The Fit Mum Formula, in a way that’s compatible with busy and often stressful family life. A qualified personal trainer and nutritionist, I realised once my first child was born that staying healthy wasn’t nearly as easy. I found myself at the bottom of my priorities and if I was to stay fit and healthy I was going to have to find a way to integrate this into motherhood, regardless of how little time or how much sleep I’d had!

I’ve always wanted to help as many Mums as possible so didn’t want to just be an in-person personal trainer. I’ve written two books, have thousands of blogs and videos online, and collaborate with National media and big brands so that I can spread my message, knowledge and support to Mums up and down the country. It’s taken longer to build the business this way than if I filled my hours with personal training clients from day one, but the wait and patience and persistence has been worth it and I can now reach many more Mums in much less time, wherever I am in the world and whatever family life demands of me.

WHAT WERE YOUR MOTIVATIONS FOR SETTING UP THE FIT MUM FORMULA? 

I have a very active, creative brain and have always have some project or other on the go, but when my then business partner approached me with the idea I fell in love with the concept immediately and as passionate to get stuck into it. At the time in 2013 online fitness and nutrition coaching wasn’t around and there were very few resources to help Mums stay fit and healthy.

Exercise classes are all at ‘bath and bed’ time, gyms rarely have creche facilities, and I was repeatedly being told by Mums that they resented having to make separate ‘diet meals’ for themselves and having to cook twice each evening.

It was ok for us as a personal trainer and nutritionist respectively, but we could see other Mums needed some support from people who really understood what it was like being a parent, and could create plans and programmes that fitted into motherhood.

HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE BUSINESS AROUND FAMILY AND CHILDCARE?

Everything is online, so as long as I’ve got internet connection, I can work. That also means I can fit things in around the children. They only went to nursery school 2 days a week before starting school, I do 99% of school runs, and have never missed a sports day, show or parents evening. It’s meant some early mornings and I’m often checking emails or social media notifications while standing in queues, but I’d rather that than miss out on being with the children.

I was brought up with a stay at home mother and benefitted hugely, and I want to give the same experience to my girls. That’s not a dig at working Mums as everyone has to do what’s right for them, but this is how I’ve made it work for us.

SINCE SETTING UP THE BUSINESS WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS TO DATE?

I have no fear (!) so I go for things other people might be nervous about doing. I approach journalists and brands, post controversial videos online about health-related topics Mums are passionate about, and am not afraid to try things. As a result I’ve managed to round up huge amounts of publicity including regularly being in National newspapers and magazine, presenting at fitness festivals, and speaking live on radio and even prime time Sky News. I now get approached by brands who are using influencer marketing, and have met some amazingly inspiring people from all the events and International networking I’ve done. I want to reach many thousands of people and help as many Mums as possible, and that’s required big thinking outside of just being a local, in person business. I don’t want to do in-person personal training sessions because I can only reach a handful of people each week that way. I want The Fit Mum Formula to be a household name which inspires Mums to put themselves first and care for their (mental as well as physical) health and body.

WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR MUMS WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT SETTING UP THEIR OWN BUSINESS?

Find others who are doing what you want to do, but are further along the path, and learn from them. Read their blogs, books and social content (but don’t copy it – have your own message and voice), and reach out to them to see if they can offer any advice or even mentorship.

Don’t jump on every shiny new course or software in the hope it will radicalise your business, it won’t. There’s a time and place for business coaches later down the line to help with specific matters such as Facebook ads or growth strategy, but you don’t need them in the beginning. All the information you need to succeed is readily available for free, but most people don’t take action on it. They’re too afraid to tell people about their business for fear of rejection, don’t blog regularly because they don’t feel they have anything valuable to say, and think that because they’re a beginner, no one will care about their social media posts. Go against the grain and feel the fear and do it anyway! There will be people out there who need you, your services or products. You’re doing them a disservice by not telling them about it!

14Nov/18

Are calorie counts on menus a good idea?

Plans have recently been announced that it may become compulsory for all restaurants to list the calorie content of their menu items, but is this a good idea?

The amount of people needing to lose weight in Britain is increasing so the thinking is that knowledge and awareness of calories would help people to make better choices.

The studies so far are mixed; people do eat fewer calories when they can see what’s in menu options, but only enough to amount to 1 lb loss over 3 years, not much if we’re being honest!

So it’s clear that calories being listed isn’t the only answer and motivational and behaviour change approaches would probably be needed alongside.

The main backlash comes from Eating Disorder specialists and sufferers who believe focussing on calories will detract from intuitive eating and other markers of a healthy mean, for example nutritional content.

But I had a different view despite being a recovered anorexic:

“However, criticism of proposals to make calorie information more readily available is not unanimous. Polly Hale, who suffered from anorexia, found that having calorie information more readily available makes eating more relaxing. “A therapist would say that’s giving into the ED (eating disorder) but if I don’t know the calories, I undereat ‘just in case.’ I eat better when I’m in control,” she says. Hale’s account suggests there may be mileage in a middle ground that allows individuals to more readily access calorie information, but without forcing it into the consciousness of anyone who looks at a menu (an example of such an approach would be making labelled menus available upon request).”

Read the full article on The Skinny Website here.

 

 

03Nov/18

Avoid Antidepressant Withdrawal

It’s no secret I’ve battled mental health problems for years and have taken medication for it, but I’m very thankful I didn’t suffer with Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms like many people do.

 

In fact 4 million people are at risk of withdrawal symptoms in England every year, yet only 25% say they got advice on coming off medication from their doctor.

 

Stylist Magazine did some research into the facts and spoke to 5 women about their experience of antidepressant withdrawal, myself included.

antidepressant withdrawal 2

 

My summary is:

I started taking antidepressants when I was 19. I’d been suffering with anorexia for a year and talking therapies weren’t helping. My mood was very low.

At my worse, when I was sectioned in hospital, I was on a high dose of five types at once. Nothing worked and I was given lithium, which radically improved my mood.

I took the medication for six years without any breaks, then decided to come off it when I was 25. I’d been mentally stable for a while, even though I’m on the bipolar spectrum. I wanted to start a family and put that part of my life behind me.

I reduced the doses of each pill very slowly, one type at a time, until I was on the smallest dose of just one, to make sure my mood didn’t worsen. I also saw a psychiatrist regularly.

I would say don’t stop taking antidepressants without medical supervision; if your doctor won’t support your decision, find another one who will.

Come off them very slowly and add natural anti-depressants into your life, such as exercise, fresh air, sunlight, sleep, good food and time with your friends and family.

These things seem so simple, but they are incredibly effective.

 

But not everyone’s experience of both mental health problems, medication or coming off meds will be the same so if you’re currently on any mood stabilising medication or know someone who is please have a read of the other women’s stories so that you are prepared or can hopefully prevent any nasty antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.

 

Read the full article here on the Stylist Website.

 

P.S. If you struggle with mood problems of any sort please do not suffer alone. The best place to reach me is in my free Facebook Group here. I’m not a psychologist but I have been there and I understand.

03Nov/18

Kids Lunch Boxes – are we failing them? Live Sky News Feature

In a back to school special earlier this year, charity Action for Children set out to help parents improve their kids lunch boxes, and asked me to help.

 

As a parent myself it’s a cause I care about – kids need good nutrition to have energy, learn, grow and behave well. Yes the studies even show conditions like ADHD and Autism are improved when diet is improved!

 

But most parents know that already. The problem is getting your child to eat a good meal in the middle of the day that they won’t reject. Kids tend to favour sweet and processed foods, so how do we create a win win situation?

The charity Action for Children are on a mission to help parents improve kids’ lunch boxes and set out to do some research:

 

  • A massive three quarters (75%) of British parents with children aged 5 to 13 who make a school lunchbox admit to feeling guilty about what they pack, according to new research (1).
  • The poll showed parents’ top four favourite lunchbox items are a ham sandwich, yogurt, a packet of crisps, and an apple. A carton of juice was the most popular specific drink picked out by parents, while biscuits and chocolate bars were also popular. (3)
  • Worryingly, the latest Government statistics show one in three children in England are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. (2) But the charity’s research found that the most important factor for parents in packing a lunchbox was being confident their child would eat what they were given (38%). Making sure the lunchbox is nutritious was the second most important reason at 28%.

 

I was invited onto Sky News as they were covering the story  to talk about the issue live on air with my 9 year old daughter Aurora in tow (she did such a good job and I was so proud of her!):

 

Here’s the clip if you missed it (or here on YouTube):


My local radio Spirit FM (as well as many National radio stations) also covered the story here using my words below.

 

Or listen to the full compilation of soundbites with my views on what we can do about kids’ lunch boxes my clicking on the video or here on YouTube.

“Children can be notoriously picky eaters – they do have a preference for sweet foods and they will go on hunger strike. I disagree with people who say if children are given no other option but healthy food, they’ll eat it. I’m a nutritionist and if I can’t get my children to eat lentil spinach salads then I don’t know how anyone else is supposed to be able to. If they don’t like what they’re given they won’t eat it. If that happens at school they won’t be able to concentrate, they’ll be falling asleep in class and they won’t have the energy to take part in sports.

“I think it benefits everyone, not least the children, if they’ve got a full belly. The easiest way to do that is to give them food that you know they love and you know they’re going to eat. Children being children, that’s going to be the sugary junk foods. that’s why people do it; it gives everyone an easy life.

“But healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. Children can eat things that are very familiar to them but also nutritious such as swapping processed cheese for mild cheddar cheese or cocktail sausages for sliced ham off the bone. Instead of giving them a packet of crisps it could be plain breadsticks that don’t have loads of added flavourings and salt and sugar. I don’t know many children who won’t eat some sort of fruit and vegetables, even if it’s just a couple – maybe blueberries or cucumber sticks. If that’s all they’re going to eat, it’s better than nothing. 

“Children are creatures of habit and they tend to prefer routine. They probably prefer it if you give them exactly the same thing to eat every day . It’s familiar to them and it taps into that safety net – they understand the food and they know it’s safe. Variety doesn’t tend to be a problem for them. 

“It’s about making compromises. They may not like granary bread that has loads of seeds in and tough crusts, but they might eat a wholemeal wrap that’s a bit softer and easier to eat. I can’t shove salad into my kids’ sandwiches but a few slices of cucumber might be ok or some cherry tomatoes chopped up. There’s lots of options out there. I think people make it more complicated than it has to be.”

Polly Hale, nutritionist, Chichester

 

Parents need the knowledge and confidence to give their child the best start in life when it comes to nutrition. Anyone in need of inspiration for packing a fuss-free healthy lunchbox that your child will want to eat can visit //actionforchildren.org.uk/lunchbox.” 

Registered Public Health Nutritionist Mari Clark, who designs menus for Action for Children’s Eat Better, Start Better service, says: “Through no fault of their own, many parents simply don’t know exactly what their child needs. This isn’t helped by confusing packaging that has pictures full of fruit and happy children, when the products inside are packed with sugar and fat and salt.

“There is no need for any lunchbox to contain crisps, sweets, processed food, cereal bars, chocolates and things like that – if you have sandwich with some good quality protein, a portion of fruit, veg and dairy then that’s enough.”

 

TOP TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PACKED LUNCH FROM ACTION FOR CHILDREN’S NUTRITIONIST 

  • Swap juice for water or milk. Or choose a low sugar drink or dilute fruit juice 50/50.
  • Give your sandwiches or wraps different fillings; cooked chicken, turkey, egg, tuna, low fat cream cheese are all good options
  • Ditch the crisps for chopped vegetables and a tasty low-fat dip like hummus
  • When you’re shopping, choose the lower salt bread options stocked by most supermarkets
  • Use spreads and condiments sparingly and choose lower salt versions
  • Don’t pack a sandwich every day. Think salads with pasta, potato, couscous with vegetables and some protein like chicken. Other things to think about include boiled eggs or omelettes.

 

(1) All survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4348 adults, of which 535 are parents with children aged 5 to 13. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 10th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

(2) National Child Measurement Programme England 2016 – 2017

(3) List of most regularly packed items: ham sandwiches (59%), yogurt (54%), crisps (60%) an apple (53%). 31% selected biscuits and 26% selected chocolate bar. Whilst the most selected drink was “Other drink” (47%), the most selected drink from the list provided was a carton of juice (39%).

HOW ACTION FOR CHILDREN WORKS: Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK through intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption, supporting disabled children, and by campaigning tirelessly to make life better for children and families. With over 550 services the charity improves the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year. Actionforchildren.org.uk

 

 

 

03Nov/18

Are these popular diet trends worth the hype?

With every year that goes by a new popular diet crops up, but is there any merit to these new diet trends or are they just silly fads?

Protein snack company Seven Bars asked what I thought of 7 of the most popular diet trends; read it on their website here or my thoughts are below. Have you tried any of these?

 

  1. Low carb

Reducing carbohydrates means cutting out rice, potatoes and pasta, as well as dairy and fruit. It’s thought that reducing carbohydrates helps to balance blood sugar and therefore energy levels, as well as keeping hunger to a minimum.

Pros: You can eat a filling diet without over-consuming calories. It’s also simple so makes meal planning easier.

Cons: Going low carb doesn’t work for everyone and some people don’t feel great without enough carbs. And while you can make and buy low-carb treats, traditional sugary snacks are off-limits, which can lead to blow-outs and binges.

 

  1. Paleo

Paleo basically means eating like our ancestors (well some of them, there are lots of variations depending on where they lived) – cutting out grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and processed foods.

Pros: Cutting out processed foods and focusing on whole, natural, nutrient-dense foods makes this a nutritious way of eating, while some people will also benefit from reducing dairy and gluten.

Cons: The types of food may be restricted, but the overall quantity and proportions of fat, carbohydrate and protein are vague, so you won’t necessarily be getting the right balance of macronutrients. It’s also easy to under-eat, says Polly, and you could be cutting out some “banned” foods unnecessarily, losing their potential health benefits.

 

 

  1. Whole30

Whole30 is similar to Paleo but also cuts out natural sugars like honey.

Pros: The foods you’re allowed to eat are very nutritious and, so long as you’re getting a good variety, you’d get all the nutrients you need.

Cons: Avoiding whole food groups like dairy, grains and legumes could leave a person deficient in certain nutrients. Cutting out all treats completely is also unsustainable for most people and may even lead to bingeing on ‘forbidden’ foods, or orthorexia – a fear of ‘unhealthy’ foods.

 

 

  1. 5:2 Diet

This form of intermittent fasting means consuming 500-600 calories two days a week, with a “normal” diet of 2,000-2,400 calories on the other five days, effectively creating a calorie deficit across the week.

Pros: As well as weight loss, results can include improved blood pressure and cholesterol profile. It could also help you to learn to go for longer without eating, so in the long run you might be less inclined to snack.

Cons: The drastic drop to 500 calories a day can cause hunger, low energy and poor concentration. Women tend to fare worse with intermittent fasting as our hormones stay better balanced when we don’t go too long without eating.

 

 

  1. Meal Replacement Plans

Plans like Slim Fast and Lighter Life see meals replaced by calorie-restricted products including shakes, soups and bars.

Pros: For some people, the convenience of a readymade product is appealing, meaning there’s no need for cooking, preparing or calorie-counting.

Cons: Pre-made foods will never match up nutritionally to fresh, whole, natural foods, especially when many of these products use cheap ingredients and bulking agents. Sticking to the same products day-in, day-out can also lead to “flavour fatigue”.

 

 

  1. Ketogenic

A ketogenic diet forces the body to switch its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. When the body is in “ketosis”, insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases, helping you lose weight.

Pros: Some people find the diet really satiating, and the lack of sugar and carbs can help get erratic blood sugar under control.

Cons: Getting into ketosis means cutting out even healthy foods like fruit and many vegetables, so it’s very nutrient deficient. The science behind keto being good for everyone isn’t very sound – in fact, the only place it seems to really be beneficial is in epilepsy sufferers.

 

 

  1. Intermittent Fasting

As its name suggests, intermittent fasting involves fasting for certain periods of time, though the timings can be varied. 

Pros: Intermittent fasting can help get someone back in touch with their natural appetite by realising they didn’t need food at certain times and were eating out of habit. Limiting eating times tends to limit calorie intake by default, so it can be helpful for weight loss.

Cons: In some people it simply leads to low energy, poor concentration, and making up by eating way more later. Like keto, the science behind intermittent being great for your body and brain health is mixed. There’s no solid reason to recommend skipping meals if it doesn’t suit someone.

 

 

How can I diet safely? 

Sticking to any form of “diet” long term has to be enjoyable. As well as keeping you feeling, looking and performing at your best, whatever that means to you, it has to fit to your lifestyle in a convenient and not too disruptive way.

 

Temporary diets can work to kickstart weight loss, but the key is knowing how to eat healthily once you reach the end of the plan. Unfortunately that’s where short term diets fall down. They don’t teach long term habits and strategies for health.

 

If swapping unhealthy habits for better ones sounds more appealing to you then rest assured over time these changes really add up to big results.

 

To get you started I’ve got a FREE 5 Day Healthy Habits Challenge you can sign up to here.

 

 

 

Seven is a new, healthy, natural, high protein, low calorie protein snack made in Hampshire in the UK from high quality, responsibly and locally sourced beef and chicken, marinated in natural ingredients that have been carefully balanced for maximum flavour with minimal sugar.  Vegan versions will also be available soon. Find out more at https://chooseseven.com/

 

 

03Nov/18

Could Exercise Help Your PMS Symptoms?

You might feel like binge watching Netflix with a family size bag of chocolates but doing some exercise could really help ease those horrible PMS symptoms.

The figures show that getting active can really improve the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS. One study, analysing young women over an eight week period, found that exercise made a ‘significant difference’ in improving PMS symptoms.  Overall, 31% of PMS symptoms were reduced over the two months, in participants who had been doing aerobic exercise.

 

The Metro Newspaper asked for my advice on exercising before and during your period, and how exercise advice might change at different times of the month.

 

Here’s what I had to say:

“Steady state cardio like running, cycling, hiking and power walking are perfect during PMS, and will also help regulate mood and even help reduce water retention, common problems with PMS.

Body temperature also rises during this time, which can make intense exercise less comfortable.

A lower carb, higher protein and fat diet will complement this type of exercise and since the body is less insulin-sensitive during PMS, will reduce blood sugar and energy swings.

During your period is the time to hit those heavy weights and take all that tension out with a big workout. Your body uses carbohydrates more efficiently now, and the extra carbs will help fuel the harder workouts.”

 

In other words;

Premenstrual: lower intensity exercise and a lower carb, higher fat diet

On your period: higher intensity / heavy weights, while eating a few more carbs.

Exercise also induces endorphins; powerful antidepressants and pain relievers, which help at any time of the month but especially when you feel grumpy with period cramps!

 

(You might like this video too: The Stress and Weight Gain Connection)

 

Of course each woman is different and the best way to see what works for you is to try a few things out and see how you feel. At the very least, try and get a walk in to keep active on a basic level, and take appropriate pain killers for cramps if you need to.

Read the full article here.

27Aug/18

Fitness Model Portfolio Update

Having modelled in the past I figured it was about time I got some new photos done. I’ve worked with photographer Gareth Davies before and once again he did a fantastic job.

The grey and white tops are eco friendly and by UK company Sundried; get 50% (!) with code TFMF at https://sundried.com

sundried eco workout clothes

sundried eco workout clothes

In my The Fit Mum Formula uniform. Find out how I help Mums lose weight without compromising family life at http://www.thefitmumformula.com/

the fit mum formula fitness model

Plus some fitness & bikini shots for good measure – find my CV, credits, work history and stats on my acting and modelling facebook page here.

   

 

13Aug/18

The Instafit Challenge – a Bournemouth Uni Diet Documentary

Could you eat like an ‘Instafit’ Instagram ‘wellness’ influencer?

 

That’s the challenge one Bournemouth University student took on when she decided to make a documentary about the different diets people follow in a bid to lose weight, be fitter and healthier and look, well, like an Instagram wellness Influencer!

 

I was asked to bust some myths around diets and why they do (or don’t) work. Here is their final short documentary about their findings.

 

Want to try ‘clean eating’ yourself? There’s a free 3 day plan here. 

 

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube and Subscribe to hear as soon as new videos are uploaded.

Or click on the image below.