07Nov/15

Girls in the UK have less Self Esteem than most countries in Europe- a BBC feature

Schoolchildren in England are among the most unhappy in the world according to a new report. The Childrens’ society say English girls between the ages of 10 and 12 were unhappier with their appearance than girls in Nepal, Romania, or Ethiopia. Here in the South, some of us from the Women In Fitness Empowerment movement are trying to address that.

wife kids

BBC South covered the story, you can watch the video footage here. 

26Oct/15

Beef Jerky as a workout protein supplement: here are the best ones available

Why eat Jerky or Biltong?

Protein is absolutely essential for muscle repair and growth, especially for those who exercise often. Weight training creates micro-tears in the muscles that need to be repaired, while endurance sports like long-distance running cause muscle breakdown from gluconeogenesis because a large amount of calories are burned.

This is common knowledge in the fitness world, but many people don’t realise that protein and the amino acids that form it are essential for so many bodily functions including metabolism regulation, immunity, blood clotting, fatty acid transportation, oxygen storage and collagen formation in joints.

In short, you can’t live without protein!

An incredibly convenient food

Unfortunately, fresh meat, fish, eggs and dairy products can’t be left out of a refrigerator for long before they start to go off, so long-life protein foods can be convenient when out of the house working or away from a fridge all day.

Not everyone enjoys using protein powders and some people may be looking for a change, so dried meats like jerky are a great option.

What’s The Difference between Biltong & Jerky?

Both Jerky and Biltong are dried meats that are preserved to prevent them from going rotten. Biltong is originally from South Africa, whereas Jerky originates from North and South America.

Jerky is simply dried meat, usually for around 2-8 hours, and sometimes has marinades, salt, vinegar, sugar and spices added, but doesn’t always. The drying can be in an oven, dehydrator, smoker, sun dried, or air dried. Jerky is sliced first before drying, and even minced meat can be used. The resulting product is thinner than biltong. Brands of jerky can taste wildly different depending on the methods and additional ingredients used. In fact the name ‘jerky’ can also be applied to other dried foods such as fish, mushroom, soy, poultry and other meats such as bacon.

Biltong has a much more specific method applied; it is air dried for anywhere between 3-7 days, and is doused in vinegar and rubbed with salt, as well as various other spices. Biltong is always dried as a large chunk of meat, and is always whole meat, sliced afterwards, and is usually sold as thicker slices than jerky. Due to the more stringent production methods, it will have more similarities in taste between brands. Biltong is always made from red meat.

Four Popular Jerky and Biltong products compared 

Portion of Beef Jerky (close-up shot) on vintage wooden background

11Sep/15

Ask an expert:- How to Lose Weight for your Wedding Day

If there’s one thing a bride wants on her Wedding Day (second of course to becoming legally tied to the one you love!) it’s to feel confident that it’s your day to shine and be the centre of attention, with everyone admiring how beautiful your dress is and how happy you look. You’ll be photographed by everyone not least your own photographer from whom you will purchase photos to be displayed in silver frames around your house, forever reminding you of that magical day when two officially became one.

So of course you want to look your best! As women we are particularly critical of ourselves over our appearance and this only magnifies every time we are at an occasion where scrubbing up well is mandatory, be that a night on the tiles or an important meeting, how we look and present ourselves is important to us.

Now times that by several (possibly hundred) wedding guests, old friends, best friends, family, colleagues, plus of course all of your spouse-to-be’s guests with all eyes on you and the pressure to get everything right really mounts. Will my make-up stay put? Will my hair stay in place? And top of many bride’s appearance concerns, ‘Help, I don’t want to look fat on my big day!’

First things first…

Read the rest of the article over on the Hen Heaven website here.

11Sep/15

Are Mums under pressure to lose the babyweight? LBC Radio Interview

Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is important for the health of both Mother and baby.

shutterstock_120296371

Getting back to a healthy weight is also important after the baby’s birth.

But how fast should a women lose the baby weight? Are women under too much pressure to lose weight quickly?

The topic was discussed on LBC Radio and I was interviewed on the subject.

Listen to the interview here. 

07Sep/15

The Fit Mum Formula Shop

I have gathered together all my favourite products in one place for you – supplements, food, health testing, clothing, books and more.

Click here to go to The Fit Mum Formula Shop.

I always wanted to offer my The Fit Mum Formula members (and anyone else) a service whereby they can purchase quality products personally recommended and endorsed by myself. The range is limited to only those products I truly believe are of benefit to overall health as well as sporting performance.

And here’s my official amazon page

 

 

07Sep/15

The Plus Size Debate, for The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine

Is it time to ditch plus-size labelling?

With almost a third of UK women considered plus-size, many believe the term is now meaningless.

plus 2

WHEN Australian fitness brand The Upside launched its new ad campaign earlier this year, it could never have foreseen the furore it would spark.

Designed to celebrate all body types, its promo shot featured five inspiring women – with one, the curvaceous model Laura Wells, representing plus-size.

But Laura is just a size 14 – which sent clicktivists into overdrive.

Within hours, the hashtag #droptheplus was trending worldwide, as the campaign declared: “The fashion industry is one of the world’s most influential industries on women.

“To label a size ‘plus’, when it actually encompasses the majority of women in the world, is not only harmful, it’s absurd!”

Click here to read the rest of the article along with my comments on the Sun Newspaper’s Fabulous Magazine webpage.

 

07Sep/15

Get Fit In Your Home Gym – Your Garden!

Read the original post for Jacksons Fencing here. 

Hands up if you love to exercise for the sake of exercise?

Just me? Ok well as a health and fitness coach I guess it’s only natural that I love getting a good sweat on, lifting heavy weights and feeling my muscles burn. But for most people staying fit, strong and healthy is definitely important to them, but with busy lives, work, children and not to mention the cost of gym memberships – formal exercise is low on the priority list.

However there is another option and it might be closer than you think – your very own back garden! It’s permanently open, it’s free and even the most minimal of gardens needs a little TLC every now and then to stop it from becoming a jungle, so why not kill two birds with one stone and get a good workout in whilst pruning the plants!

The Warmup – Preparation is Key

Like with conventional exercise, the correct clothing is key to staying comfortable. Long trousers and sleeves might be better if you’re going to be kneeling on the ground and to minimise risk of (mostly harmless but sometimes itchy) rashes from touching certain grasses and plants – lightweight in summer as overheating is dangerous and warmer layers that still allow you to move well in winter. Sturdy shoes will prevent slipping or tripping up and good gardening gloves help prevent scratches and blisters from working with garden tools. A hat and suncream in summer goes without saying and keep a bottle of water nearby to stay hydrated – a screw top plastic bottle is better than a regular glass as it won’t break and won’t spill if it falls over while resting on less even surfaces than indoors.

If you’re feeling stiff or aren’t used to being active, a few mobility exercises will get your blood flowing and lubricate your joints. Starting from the bottom and working up is a good way to remember to do each joint. Some good ideas include:

    •  Ankle rotations – circle your feet 5 times each way, one foot at a time
    •  Knee swings – standing on one leg and holding onto something for support, lift one foot off the ground so that your knee is bent and swing it gently to the front (like you want to return a football with your knee) and back again, repeat on the other leg
    •  Hip circles – stand with your feet hip width apart and make a circle with your hips as wide as they will go, 5 times each way.

 

  •  Shoulder circles – with your arms by your side, circle your shoulders backwards then forwards, 5 times each way
  •  Arm circles – swing your arms right over your head and round again, 5 times forwards then 5 times backwards
  •  Elbow and wrist circles – circle each joint 5 times each way
  •  Finger wiggles – wriggle your fingers like you’re playing the piano. The fingers aren’t often used in conventional exercise but you’ll most likely use them quite a lot when gardening!

    The Workout

    Just pottering about, walking, standing, picking things up; it all burns many more calories than sitting at a desk or watching TV. We personal trainers call it NEAT – Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, that is the calories burned when you’re moving but not doing formal exercise.Wheelbarrow of flowers - PixabayThe variety of activities in the garden work all the major muscle groups – legs, arms, core (tummy and spine), buttocks, neck and shoulders; so you get a good full body workout if you put enough effort in. Strong muscles make life easier, support your bones, and muscles themselves burn a lot of calories to stay working, so building muscle is actually a great way to lose weight and body fat if that is your aim.

    Other activities that are often done in a gardening session include stretching (to trim high hedges), bending and squatting (to weed and pick things up), lifting (full buckets, wheelbarrows and heavier garden equipment) and digging is akin to many resistance exercises you would do at a gym. Your pulse will speed up to keep up with the increased demand for blood around the body, which gives your heart muscles a bit of a workout and your breathing rate will increase to deliver oxygen to muscles at a faster rate.

    As with any type of movement special care should be made to keep your spine straight especially when lifting. Avoid staying in one position for too long and try to vary the activities you do in the garden to avoid over or under using certain muscles and joints. You might well feel a little tired and achy if you’ve not exercised in a while, but pain should not be ignored and should be seen to by a specialist or GP.

    The benefits of getting active, including in the garden, are well known and include improved strength and bone density, lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, increased flexibility and a lower risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes as well as improving mental health conditions like depression.

    But did you know that there are additional benefits to exercising (or just being) in ‘green’ areas – the benefits increase significantly compared to doing the same activity indoors!*

    The Cool-down

    Spend a couple of minutes when you’ve finished stretching each muscle and holding for about 20 seconds so you’re less likely to feel stiff the next day. Make sure you have a good drink to replenish any water lost through sweating.

    If you’ve been pondering over what to plant in your garden, my absolute best recommendation would be vegetables! Soils in large commercial farms are depleted of nutrients compared to our own gardens, so home grown veggies are Polly Hale - Guest Bloggerboth much more nutritious (especially if you grow them organically without pesticides), tastier and of course significantly cheaper than bought produce. Vegetables are in invaluable part of any healthy eating plan, so best of all you get to eat the fruits of your labour!

    This article was written by Polly Hale. Polly Hale is a personal trainer, fitness writer, online coach and founder of The Fit Mum Formula, helping women get in shape online from the comfort of their own home.

04Sep/15

The Working Lunch – packed lunches on the go

The Working Lunch

oriental insideout wraps

Juggling work with family life, chores, school runs and everything else is not easy, that much we know. It’s easy to see why personal health and care can be you pushed to the bottom of our priorities. Yet is exactly because we’re so busy that we should put some thought into what we eat and how we live. If you’ve ever compared trying to work through lunch with stopping for a break and some good food, or else buying the first prepacked sandwich that jumps out at you or worse, staff room biscuits to keep your sugar levels up, you may have notices that eating well actually fuels your brain so you end up working more productively and getting more work done. Win win surely?

 

Where Are People Going Wrong?

Most people do actually have the best intentions, but prepacked sandwiches are usually full of salt and sub-par ingredients (think reformed ham, cheap bacon and processed cheese) and low on nutritional value. Fresh produce on the other hand can be packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats to fuel your brain at work.

 

What About Carbs?

Sandwiches, bread, and carbohydrates themselves are not ‘bad’. But like all foods – protein, fat, sugar and fibre included, the most appropriate choices for you are the ones that will work best for you. When we do intense exercise we use primarily glucose (carbohydrates) as fuel, so if you’re hitting the gym for a circuits class during your lunch hour you’ll do better with a few carbs to fuel your workout. But being sedentary, like at a desk job, uses more fat for fuel instead of carbs, so ‘good’ fats like nuts, oily fish, olives and coconut products are preferential to wheat, oat and potato based foods when you’re not moving around much. Try swapping a cereal bar for almonds and make a note of how well you can concentrate on work, I’d make an educated guess the nuts would yield better results, and this is also why some people feel an afternoon ‘slump’ after a carb heavy lunch. In addition, carbs encourage serotonin and dopamine production which help relax you and make you sleepy, great for later in the evening, not so great for a busy afternoon at work! More and more people are also finding they react negatively to wheat, gluten (a protein in wheat) or both, causing everything from digestive discomfort to brain fog and more, none of which is going to help you concentrate if you’re one of these people.

 

I Don’t Have Time To Make Lunch!

Here’s my 4 step guide to buying lunch out that works for me if I’m not on my feet much – most days I am, being a stay at home Mum, and can pack away quite a lot of food for my small frame as a result, but this formula works well for most people I know:

  1. Find a large side salad – most supermarkets do these. Add a little of the dressing (if supplied) if you like, you probably won’t need all of it.
  2. Add some protein – ready cooked sliced chicken or beef, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, cooked prawns, flaked salmon; these are all great proteins.
  3. Add some fat – a few olives, a tbsp. seeds, half an avocado, whatever takes your fancy that day.
  4. If you’re being active add some carbs – some fruit (yes fruit has sugar in it), oat crackers, cold rice, quinoa or pasta (provided gluten isn’t an issue) are usually easy to find in the deli isles.

 

Finally of course a big bottle of water to sip throughout the afternoon, because nothing refreshed your body and mind like good hydration.

 

If you’re used to taking a packed lunch to work here’s a fave recipe of mine. You can vary the fillings to stop getting bored.

 

ORIENTAL INSIDE OUT WRAPS

Makes 4-6 wraps (enough for one hungry person)

 

Wraps of a lower carb kind, but just as easy to make. Play around with fillings to see which protein, vegetable and dressing flavours you prefer.

 

Ingredients

4-6 (100-150g) thin slices of beef, chicken or turkey (ready-sliced sandwich slices are great, but avoid ‘reformed’ ones)

4-6 whole large lettuce leaves (iceberg is ideal)

1 small carrot, grated

½ a pepper (any colour will do), sliced into fine sticks

¼ cucumber, sliced into fine sticks

1 handful raw cabbage, shredded

2 tbsp. reduced salt soy sauce

4 tbsp. fat free Greek yoghurt

 

Method

Mix the soy sauce with the Greek yogurt and combine the sauce with the carrot, cucumber, pepper and cabbage.

To assemble, lay a lettuce leaf on a plate and lay a slice of meat on top of the lettuce. Spoon a layer of the vegetable mixture over the meat. Roll the assembled layers, to form a tube shaped wrap, taking care not to tear the lettuce.

Continue with the remaining wraps and serve with any leftover vegetable mixture.If saving for later wrap up each wrap in Clingfilm so they hold their shape.

 

Enjoy!