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Tag: exercise

Exercise and your menstrual cycle.

exercise and the menstrual cycle

Have you ever thought about how your cycle affects the way you exercise?

 

The highs and lows of hormones means that at certain times in your cycle it’s better to slow things down and do very light, gentle exercise. And at other times in your cycle, you feel full of energy and ready to take on the world.

 

Menstrual Phase

 

Do you notice a difference in the way you feel about exercise during your menstrual cycle?

 

I do.

 

During the first few days of my period, I usually stick to light and gentle yoga sessions, because I find that anything else leaves me feeling totally drained afterwards, which is the opposite of how I want to feel after I work out!

 

Follicular Phase

 

I notice a huge difference in my energy levels as soon as I finish my period.

 

Do you?

 

My energy skyrockets (along with my estrogen and progesterone levels) and I feel ready to take on the world!

 

It’s during this time of my cycle, I like to try new types of exercises, new classes, new instructors and new yoga flows. I find that I’m much more open to trying new things and the energy I have helps me retain new information.

 

Ovulation

 

There’s a point in our cycles where we feel so full of energy, like we can conquer the world!

 

Can you relate to this?

 

This is usually happens around day 14-16 of our menstrual cycles when we ovulate. We’re at the peak of our powers and it’s the point when our estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest.

 

This is the time in our cycles when it’s great to go hell for leather into your hardest, most challenging class, turn the dial up to the hardest you’ve ever gone in your spin class or add a bit of extra weight in the gym.

 

Luteal Phase

 

Do you ever feel a bit sluggish and tired in the week before your period? As estrogen and progesterone start to drop, so do our energy levels.

 

This is the time when you might feel a bit moody, bloated and your skin might breakout a bit.

 

During this time in my cycle, I try not to push myself, unless I’m really feeling up to it.

 

Instead, I focus on restorative yoga flows, lots of slow paced sun salutations and brisk walking (I can’t get away from walking, living in London!).

 

The peaks and troughs of our hormones and how they connect to our energy levels show how important it is for us to listen to our bodies and not force ourselves to exercise that our bodies aren’t ready for that particular day.

 

Do you want to talk more about your menstrual cycle and getting control of any hormonal issues that are stopping you from exercising and leading a life full of energy? Book in for a free 30 minute Hormone Health Review!

Want to start running? Here’s a guide on how to do it!


 
The lovely Dorota from Isleworth Running Club has written a post to help anyone who’s thinking about starting to run with all the things you need to know. 

 

Commit!

In my opinion, nothing happens for us until we actually commit. You have to really make a conscious decision that this is what you want to do. Once this is clear in your mind and in your heart, you won’t hesitate about going for a run the next time it rains. Understand your WHY, commit, pick a start date and tell everyone about it. Hopefully, you won’t want to disappoint them.
 

Find Running Buddy or Join A Running Club

Most people will need some additional motivation to start running and to keep at it. One of the best methods is to find a running buddy. Ideally, someone at a similar level to you. You can then go through the journey together and share your highs and lows with each other. Or join a running club. They are full of people who are passionate about running and will do a lot to support you.
 

Running Apps

It might just happen that you will not be able to find a buddy or a running club. Nowadays, there are multitude of running apps which you can use in different ways to stay focused. You can collect distance badges/medals and setting up a weekly/monthly goal is an option. Some runners join virtual runs. Some apps have commentary and can crack jokes during your run which makes the whole experience a bit more fun. Just figure out what suits you best.
 

Running Shoes and Clothes

You can start with a cheaper pair of running shoes but my advice is – go to a shop and try them on. Rather than just looking pretty on your feet, your shoes should fit well and be slightly bigger than your standard walking shoes to avoid blisters or losing your toenails. No one can criticise you for going on a run in a cotton T-shirt and many people do just that. If you tend to sweat a lot and you often run in a cooler weather, you should consider a polyester running top. It will dry much faster and you won’t feel cold after the run. If you’re a woman you should invest in a sports bra. Trust me, it’s worth it.
 

User Training Plan

The most popular training plan for beginners is Couch to 5k (c25k). It involves a 5min warm-up, 20 to 25 min walking/jogging intervals and a 5 min cool down, 3 days a week. There is a day or two of rest in between for your body to recover. Each week, you increase the jogging and reduce the walking. This method is great because it splits your main goal into manageable chunks. Every week, you get a sense of achievement. If you don’t manage to keep up with the schedule, then repeat a week if necessary. If you feel like it’s too easy start from week 2 or 3 but always remember to have a rest day in between.
 

Pre & Post Run Advice

Firstly, your meal before the run should include some carbohydrates and some protein. If you have a substantial meal, then make sure you have it 2 hours before the run or 1 hour before in case of a lighter meal.
 
Secondly, warm up before the run by doing a few minutes of brisk walking. You are then less likely  to get out of breath too quickly or get a stitch.
 
Thirdly, cooling down after helps you lower your heart rate and slow down your breathing gradually so you avoid feeling dizzy. Also, when you keep moving after the run it helps your lymphatic system to get rid of lactic acid from your muscles.
 
Fourthly, do some stretches of your quads, hip flexors, calves and hamstrings to prevent cramps, relax muscles and makes them more flexible.
 
Finally, have some protein after then run to help your body recover and be ready for the next challenge.

 

Thanks, Dorota!

 

Are you inspired? Check out the Isleworth Running Club for their runs for runners of all levels. 

Photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash

Stories I loved this week.

hampstead heath

No more ‘mysterious blue liquid’ and more realism in adverts for tampons and pads. Finally. (The Pool)

 

Prebiotics can potentially reduce stress response in those suffering from anxiety and depression. (NCBI)

 

Losing weight in the ‘anti-dieting’ age. (New York Times)

 

The case for letting fevers run their course: taking paracetamol can reduce your body’s ability to fight a fever. (The Daily Beast)

 

The world’s first non invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis. Hurrah! (Medium)

 

When anxiety feels more physical than mental. (The Cut)

 

I love this kitchen utensil set for kids. (Food52)

 

How to do the perfect plank. (The Guardian)

Stories I loved this week.

sunday at the circus

How has your week been? I’ve been in training most of the week and all of Saturday, so I’m looking forward to some down time on Sunday. Here are some of the interesting health and wellness stories I’ve found this week.

 

Are you an oily person? This is a fascinating piece on the backstory of the two powerhouse essential oil companies, Young Living and DoTerra and how they’ve moved into the mainstream. (The New Yorker)

 

Middle age can fatten you up if you don’t increase your physical activity. (Science Daily)

 

Do you have a cast-iron pan? I have a few and I absolutely love them. They need a lot of love and attention, like a little pet. (Bon Appetit)

 

Women aren’t nags, we’re just fed up. (Harper’s Bazaar)

 

Why most diets fail. A first hint: diets are short term, lifestyle changes are for life. (goop).

 

Have you been following the vaginal mesh scandal? (The Guardian)

Stories I loved this week.

hotel de ville

It’s nearly the beginning of October and hopefully we’re all getting to grips with packing school lunchboxes during the week. Here are some nice lunchbox tips. (Cup of Jo)

The bacteria in your gut may be shaping your waistline. (The Economist)

Have you tried mediating before eating? (Bon Appetit)

I had a little cry after reading this article. It’s shocking how many women feel that their doctors don’t listen to their concerns or take them seriously. (The Cut)

Are you sober curious? I probably am and am part of the trend of millennials that are choosing to drink little to no alcohol. (The Pool)

How many hours do you sleep a night? The shorter the time you sleep at night, the higher the risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and weight gain. (The Guardian)

Any type of exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk and early death, even vacuuming or taking the stairs, as long as you get at least 150 minutes (that’s only 2.5 hours!) a week. (Vox)

Stories I loved this week.

I’ve had a little hiatus from the blog. Things were getting on top of me and I needed to stop, have a breather and take stock. It’s important to do that once in a while, don’t you think?

We’ve also been on holiday to Mallorca (one of my favourite places on earth!) and although I came back with a cold, I feel mentally rested and ready to start my final year of my Nutrition degree (this weekend!).

Could you be a fruitarian? I personally couldn’t, but it’s interesting to get a peek into how they rationalise their choice. (Broadly)

How much do celebrities spend on fitness? (Well + Good)

How the sugar industry shifted the blame to fat. (NY Times)

Ketchup chips – any good Canuck will love these. (AV Club)

Great exercise rule – try not to skip two days in a row. (Summer Tomato)

I’ve just bought this cookbook and I’m really enjoying working my way through it. The chickpea pancakes on page 92 are great.

Feeding babies peanuts and eggs can reduce their risk of allergies later in life. This is an update to the previous advice that said that parents should wait to introduce allergenic food. Makes sense, especially based on what we know about the immune system and the role gut bacteria play in digesting food. (JAMA)

How do you stay healthy when you drive everywhere?

62 miles to London

We’ve just spent a lovely three days in Rye, a small, whimsical city on the South Coast of England. We drove down from London for some sorely needed time to recharge our batteries and enjoy some family time in the dog days of summer.

It was nice to get out of London for a bit, explore a new area and be reminded that there is life outside the Big Smoke.

Having a car for our mini break gave me a different vision of what life might be like. We don’t have a car, so we walk or take public transport everywhere we need to get to in London.

There are positives, like the sheer convenience and ease of getting from one place to another.

And there are a lot of negatives. The environmental cost is a big one. Another big negative is the lack of exercise. When I compare my step count (yes, I do check this quite often in the Health app on my iPhone) for the last three days to the same time last week, the difference is breathtaking.  I try to get at least 10,000 steps / 5km a day – it’s arbitrary, but it works for me.

With a car, I’ve missed the latent exercise I seem to regularly fit in, from running for the bus, standing on the tube and walking up the stairs at work.

If you drive regularly, how do you fit in exercise? Is it something you have to schedule into your diary as a can’t miss appointment? A car might be in our future, as our lives get busier and I’m keen to make sure it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on our health.

Stories I loved this week.

It’s amazing how a little sun and some extra sleep can really lift your mood. For the past two weeks, I’ve been going to bed between 9:30 and 10:30pm every night. Not intentionally, mind. Purely as a by-product of not being able to keep my eyes open after we put J to bed, then I attempt to have a bit of chat with my husband and do some course work.

This has happily coincided with J starting to sleep more regularly through the night, so M and I are feeling more refreshed and frankly more human. It’s only taken 2.5 years, but it’s so exciting to have a child that finally sleeping through!

Lil’ Kim and the unbearable whiteness of being. (The Conversation)

How will women manage their periods in the future? Great question – it feels as though we sleepwalk our way into menstrual hygiene choices. (Refinery29)

A fascinating profile on the Bouvier sisters – Lee Radziwill and Jackie Kennedy. (Vanity Fair)

How I longed for a better breast pump when I was breastfeeding my son. The sound of the Medela and doing 3am pumping sessions still haunts me. For all my future breastfeeding sisters, I look forward to seeing what the breast pump of the future looks like. (New York Times)

This is such a great piece about the social pressures on boys. “If we can free men from their belief that a real man is tough, competitive and unemotional, then we can create happier men – and better partners, friends, colleagues and fathers.” (The Pool)

I used to love watching the Biggest Loser, but was always incredulous at how they managed to not only lose weight so quickly, but whether the contestants really had the nutritional and fitness foundations to maintain the weight loss. It turns out that they didn’t and this type of weight loss really messes with the body’s metabolism. (New York Times)

Photo by Erol Ahmed

Stories I loved this week.

photo-1459433312032-29eb4bea7d3b

It’s finally spring and there seems to be a real lightness in the air here in London. Maybe it’s the crisp yet sunny days, maybe it’s the promise of warmth and lighter evenings. I know that I’ve been feeling in better spirits recently, though a combination of more sleep, better management of my food intake and more family time. Lots of kisses and cuddles from a bub can always lighten the spirit.

“Beyoncé doesn’t mention anything about her body, or weight, or pushing herself to her limits – instead she talks how running makes her feel, and what it has done for her mind.” I love this analysis of the video launching Beyonce’s new fitness range, Ivy Park. (The Pool)

How to choose the best produce. (Vox)

A fascinating piece on India’s menstrual product market and the taboos that still exists around menstruation in this country. (Broadly)

I put collagen into my morning smoothie and it’s nice to see more evidence of its benefits to the skin. Beauty really does start from the inside out. (Well + Good)

I’m trying out this chicken cacciatore recipe for a dinner party tomorrow night. (New York Times)

How not to lose yourself in motherhood. Lots of good advice here. It takes time and for me, it’s important to remember that mother is just one part of my identity. (Mother Mag)

We’re more honest with our phones than with our doctors. (New York Times)

What you don’t know about depression. (Kelly Brogan MD)

Photo by Milada Vigerova

Do you workout at home?

I’ve had a few gym memberships in my time. Virgin Active, Fitness First, local council funded gyms and the list goes on. In my pre-baby days, when I had acres of free time after work and on the weekends, I’d find it very difficult to drag myself to the gym and get a reasonable cost per visit from my membership fee.

In my post-baby world, I need to maximise every minute of my life to get what I need to get done, done. This is no joke. Between working, school work, chores and life admin, on the days I’m at home, if I don’t take the opportunity to workout during J’s naptime, then I won’t have the chance until he goes to bed. And then something will inevitably get in the way and working out will have to wait. So for me, it’s just easier to squeeze in workouts, when I can, at home. I cancelled my gym membership last year and I’ve never looked back.

 

Just workout when he’s awake, you say? Hahahahah. I’ve seen YouTube and Instagram videos of mums working out with their kids around them, and that just seems like science fiction to me. When I’ve attempted to do it, I get a 14 kg toddler climbing on my back during push ups and crawling through my legs during burpees. Which is why for me, effective workouts are restricted to nap time, bed time or at spin class.

 

I’ve been doing Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guides (BBG) at home since last August, combined with lots of walking (I live in London, with no car, so walking is like breathing – you need do a lot of it!) and weekly sessions at Psycle, the best spin studio in London.

What’s interesting to me is that the guides are ideally meant for someone who has access to a gym and all its equipment, but because I love the structure of the guides, i.e. they tell me exactly what exercises I need to do, how many and for how long, I’ve figured out a way to make BBG work for me.

 

And as I was setting myself up for today’s workout, I realised that I’ve managed to acquire a veritable mini-gym in my flat, the majority of which I use for the Bikini Body Guide.

So it is possible to do the guide at home, it just requires a bit of planning and some expense.

 

What I use for the Bikini Body Guide workouts:

  1. Kettlebells (7.5kg, 12kg and 16kg): substitutes for dumbbells or handweights
  2. Medicine ball (8kg)
  3. Hand weights (2kg each)
  4. Reebok step: substitute for a box and a bench
  5. Easy Shaper Pro (a bar with resistance bands attached): substitute for a barbell and weights
  6. Yoga Mat
  7. Foam rollers x 2

I’ve had to be creative and substitute where I can. I’ve picked up inexpensive quality equipment via Ebay, Amazons and various birthday / Christmas presents and it’s all added up to a very nice collection that makes working out at home really easy.

Do you workout at home? Have you done BBG at home? What are your tips and tricks?

 

 

Stories I loved this week.

mist

How’s your week been? I just handed in my second assignment and once I found the time to get down to it, it was really interesting. We had to do an analysis of food diaries – our own, the average Western diet and a Western diet with naturopathic adjustments. It was eye opening to see how low in antioxidants and phytonutrients the average Western diet really is! With that assignment out of the way, next up is some proper studying for my semester one exam in mid-March.

I’d like to try this zero-waste restaurant in Notting Hill. I love that they donate all excess fruit and veg to food banks. (Protein)

More women are choosing ‘curvy’ career paths and I salute them. (The Pool)

A great first-hand look at why different diets work for different people. Call me a broken record, but there really is no one sized fits all solution in nutrition. (Verily)

How are you protecting yourself from environmental toxins? (Chris Kresser)

Great coconut oil beauty hacks. (Self)

Why poor children can’t be picky eaters. (New York Times)

An eye opening look into the world of Tumblr teens and how they make their money. (New Republic)

Have you tried rebounding? I really want to figure out a way to fit a small rebounder into my flat. (goop)

Photo by Frances Gunn

Stories I loved this week.

Death_to_Stock_Photography_NYC_Skyline_2

Happy weekend!

I am so thankful to have the next two days to rest, relax, exercise and spent time with my guys. It’s been a hectic few weeks with two weekends in a row of all day lectures, on top of settling into a new contract.

No complaints though – I signed up for this. My meditation right now is, “enjoy the process”. Sometimes, we’re so quick to want to get to the end, that we forget to enjoy all the stuff that comes in between.

So that’s me right now. Enjoying the process of becoming a naturopath, enjoying the evolution of mothering a baby to now mothering a rapidly growing little boy and enjoying the growth of my marriage.

More proof that you can’t out exercise poor nutrition. (The Telegraph)

Psychology and mindset play a much bigger role in nutrition and eating than they’re given credit for. (aeon)

One of the biggest benefits of working remotely when you have older children. Something to keep in mind as J gets older. (Signal v. Noise)

Do you dry brush? I’ve just started and I’m hoping for some good results. Anything to support lymphatic drainage (and get rid of cellulite!). (goop)

I absolutely love this photo essay. It’s amazing to see how hugely the level of fresh food varies by country. How much fresh produce is in your weekly shop? (Food Matters)

One person can eat white bread and have no blood sugar spikes, whereas with another person, the same food can cause massive blood sugar spikes. Nutrition is SO individual and this incredible study gives more evidence of this. (BBC)

Knowledge of the importance of good gut bacteria and the gut microbiome is becoming more mainstream, which is so important. It’s fascinating to see research on how Western diets (read: high in refined sugar and refined processed carbohydrates) can damage gut microbiota over generations. (LA Times)

Confessions of a Paleo diet pioneer. (WSJ)

Stories I loved this week.

night sky

It’s 2016! How are you feeling about the new year so far? I’m going into it feeling refreshed, healthy and optimistic. I start a new contract on Tuesday, so it’s going to be interesting going back into the world of work after two months off. Weirdly, I drink more coffee when I’m not working, than when I am. Probably something to do with my work day routines. I love being in a routine, so I’m looking forward to that.

A few little things to do to make the new year better. (The Guardian)

Would you ‘Kon-Mari’ your kitchen? We’ve been doing a bit of a kitchen reorganisation this week and because the clutter was so frustrating, we went the whole nine yards and ‘Kon-Mari’d the whole thing. (Verily)

A sensible guide to exercise, when you hate exercising. (Thrillist)

It turns out that Tuesday at 6:30PM is the busiest time in at the gym in January, so if fitness is one of your New Year’s intentions, then mornings are probably a better time to go! (Brit + Co)

Some really nice lifestyle tweaks for better nutrition. (Self)

A really nice Q&A with Gretchen Rubin on habits. There really is no one-sized fits all solution for this. (goop)

2015 was the year that I became strong enough to graduate from knee push-ups to full push-ups and 2016 is going to be the year I can do a pull-up. Even one would be brilliant. (Greatist)

Photo by Greg Rakozy

Intentions not resolutions: how to create good habits in 2016

fireworks

It’s almost 2016 (eep!) and it’s that time of the year when the best of 2015 and 2016 to do lists come rolling out.

Do you make resolutions at the beginning of the year?

I don’t. Controversial, I know.

I prefer to set intentions. Ahem, you ask, how are those different to resolutions?

Intentions are about setting the focus for the year and aren’t as vague as resolutions. Intentions are about creating new habits and breaking bad habits. They’re much much more focused and specific, taking into consideration personality traits (i.e. are you a Questioner or an Obliger? An Abstainer or a Moderator?). Research shows that it takes at least 10 weeks to build a new habit, good or bad.

So rather than just resolving to lose weight in 2016, a more intentional approach would be to identify a realistic (to you!) and consistent plan of action (i.e. a green smoothie  with protein for breakfast each morning, putting 3-4 workouts or classes in the diary each week, going to bed by 10:30pm each night, etc) with each part of the plan helping to establish good habits and remove bad habits. A few checkpoints, be they monthly or quarterly, will help to course correct if the plan isn’t working.

The main thing is that your plan needs to be specific to your needs and wants, not something cookie cutter from an off the shelf programme. Only you know if you are the type of person that responds to outward or inward motivation, that needs to abstain from certain food or activities or can indulge every once in a while.

What are my intentions for 2016?

Time: My biggest intention is to be more aware of how I spend my time. I find myself drifting back into spending a lot of time surfing the web, reading trashy gossip sites. I want to be more intentional with my time, focusing on the things I need to do, like my coursework and research and use books (including the Kindle app on my iPhone) not the internet to unwind. My plan is to give myself 20-30 minutes each day to web surf and after that, any internet time needs to be focused and productive.

Exercise: I want to continue my habit of exercising 4-5 times a week, with a scheduled (and booked!) spin class on Mondays and 4 at-home resistance training sessions. I’ve just started Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide 2.0, which is nicely split into 4 workouts per week, running a total of 12 weeks. Getting from week 13 to week 24 is a good target for me, especially knowing that I was able to finish weeks 1 – 12 of Kayla’s guide with good progress.

Writing: I want to post at least 3 times a week on this blog – a mix of recipes, nutrition information based on what I’m currently studying and other wellness / self-improvement posts. I’ve finally made 2 posts a week a habit and want to experiment with 3 posts for the next three months.

What are your intentions for 2016?

Photo by kazuend

I Tried It: Making Bone Broth

Bone broth preparation with ginger

2015 has been the year of bone broth or stock, as your grandmother would call it. From Brodo to #boilyourbones, the Hemsley sisters’ catchphrase, it seemed like everyone was getting into the long simmer.

 

Real talk: I made a half hearted attempt at making bone broth towards the end of last year, but it didn’t turn out very well, so I didn’t bother trying again until recently. Meanwhile, lots of beef bones and chicken carcasses have been thrown out, giving me a regretful, wasteful feeling.

 

No more. I’ve since realised bone broth is the one of the easiest things to make, especially if you have a slow cooker. Even easier if you have a pressure cooker as it only takes 2 hours.

 

My chicken broth recipe is really simple and you can easily substitute chicken for turkey (how seasonal!), beef or lamb bones or whack all the bones in together:

 

  1. Strip any excess meat off the chicken carcass and place the carcass into the slow cooker.
  2. Add 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps release the collagen from the bones.
  3. Add 3-4 garlic cloves, an onion, chopped in half, 3-4 carrots and a leek, chopped in half.
  4. If you want a deeper flavour, add 3-4 circular pieces of ginger, 3 cm in diameter.
  5. Season to taste with himalayan sea salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
  6. Cover with water.
  7. Set your slow cooker to low, cover and leave for at least 24 hours, stirring it occasionally and topping up the water as necessary.
  8. When you’re satisfied with the taste, or the bones have crumbled, remove the broth from the heat and pour the mixture through a strainer.
  9. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 7 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

 

Bonus tip: if you don’t have enough bones to make broth, stockpile them from individual meals in a big Ziploc bag in the freezer. After a while, you should have enough to make at least 2 litres of broth.

 

What can you do with your freshly made bone broth?

1. Sip it. It’s great for helping to repair a leaky gut and as a nutrient source in illness, as it’s full of collagen and protein.

2. Make soup! Knowing the soup has homemade broth in it is such a rewarding feeling.

3. Risottos are even lovelier with a homemade broth.

4.  I like to add a little zing to little J’s rice by adding a little broth to it for flavour and nutrients.

 

What do you do with your broth?

 

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