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When I was pregnant with the twins, my stomach felt like it had been stretched to the moon and back, not once… but twice, actually make that three times. While I lost the extra 25kg I put on during the pregnancy within six months, my tummy was that one area that just wouldn’t ‘budge’. Not surprising though, right? We carry little humans in our “pouch” for 9 months, our pouch ‘stretches significantly’ as our baby/ies grows and once they’re born, our muscles, ligaments and skin have been that ‘stretched’ they’re unable to just ‘fling’ back into place at the end of it all. (Clearly you can tell I’m not a qualified post natal specialist the way i explained that, right? Pouch, stretch, fling?).
Before you go on to read any more of my personal blog that shares my journey and personal tips, I recommend that if you’ve recently given birth or are keen to start exercising again – you should totally invest in seeing a post natal physio or specialist. A few appointments can save you from years of damage! Your body has gone through a major change, get it some TLC mama.
Now back to my pouch story. As i said – I found it the ‘last’ place that would strengthen and firm up again. But, when I learnt what ‘tools’ worked for me in order to achieve those ‘tightening’ goals – I noticed some changes – and I noticed them within 8 weeks. When I felt and saw the changes in that time – it propelled some life-long changes for me – and my family. While I still have (and have learnt to embrace) excess, saggy skin – I’m proud to say that my tum tum is probably one of strongest areas of my body now.
It FEELS so empowering when your core, posture and ability to perform exercises comes from a strong base (your pouch!) and it’s also incredibly helpful for the daily #mumlife physical demands that increase back and neck pain -bathing kids, picking them up 20 times a day, lifting them on swings, putting them in and out prams, cots and car seats!
The mummy tummy is pretty damn important as it does a LOT. When it works for you, not against you – the bonus is – it will also look firmer.
For me personally, THREE things made an incredible difference – I like to call them the three C’s – CLEAN, CORE and CARDIO.
It’s not rocket science, there is no secret! If you can get your body fat levels down, your muscles will start to show. When you start to work those muscles correctly, they will look toned, firm and strong. Eating clean, wholefoods every few hours helped me achieve this.
I cut out all refined sugar, junk, highly processed grains, processed meats, dairy, limited alcohol to one glass per week and pre-packaged foods initially for 8 weeks and enjoyed a cheat meal once a week. After 8 weeks, my energy levels were through the roof, my hair, skin, nails, digestion were all clearer and my little muscles were shining on through as my body fat levels were dropping – that 8 week phase left me FEELING so amazing and helped me create new daily healthy habits that became routine to me – and now, almost 5 years on from that one ‘challenge’ I haven’t looked back. I transitioned my health and that trickled down to my family’s health as well. I finally jumped off that yo-yo dieting roller-coaster that I’d been on since my early 20’s and saw my health and wellness in a complete new light.
I don’t count calories, I count vitality. I don’t weigh myself every week – if i’m looking to hit a goal, I’ll measure myself. I don’t worry about what I can and can’t eat every day. I eat every three hours, I drink 2.5L of water per day. I drink coffee and i love a wine and enjoy a few treat meals with the family every weekend. My family and I eat clean wholefoods 80% of the time and it’s a magic feeling.
The first few weeks of a ‘challenge’ are hard. Your body hits detox mode and you’re basically re-training your taste buds to come back to enjoy the foods they were intended to enjoy and fuel us. But if you can tough it out (not if, make that when you decide to tough it out), and you come out the other side of it- it really is an eye opener and game changer. Suddenly that commercial chocolate bar tastes sickly sweet of chemicals or that soft drink immediately bloats you and creates havoc on your skin or your anxiety resurfaces from a weekend of binge eating. Your more in tune with your body and you can see for yourself what commercial foods and their chemicals are doing to you.
There is a reason I put CLEAN as the first C in this post. It’s because I believe that if you don’t have your diet down pat and you want to either lose weight or build lean muscle mass – there’s no point beating your head against a brick wall and ‘just’ exercising. Your food intake is your fuel. You need to make the time to nurture and love yourself from within before working on the out. Get that fuel right. Even if it means cutting back on the exercise initially so you have time and can focus solely on it. (Trust me though, once you start eating clean, you’ll naturally want to get that body moving!)
Bringing those saggy (!) muscles back to life is extremely important as I mentioned above, and to get them grooving again – you have to work on activating them. I actually don’t do a lot of sit-up’s and if your tummy muscles are weak, I don’t suggest you do them first off either. Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on your pelvis and pelvic floor muscles (I always get nervous about writing those words… pelvic… floor ….muscles. Mums often just grin when it’s mentioned. It makes me wanna go to the loo just thinking about it. Sorry, side tracked!). Anyway, your pelvis suffers and so does your back, so trying to do 50 sit-ups every day will probably do you more harm than good. I find that by strengthening my core, I work all of the muscles that support my tummy and those around it and the best way to do that is by overall body strength workouts.
I started off doing body-weight’ workouts initially and then progressed to using light weights. All of my workouts are done at home in the backyard or lounge room – i have some light dumbbells, a kettlebell, a bench and get my suspension trainer out now and again. That’s it. I train barefoot most of the time, some mornings in my PJ’s and I just move. Sometimes i get a little sweaty – but to be honest, I’m also at an age where I’m all about nourishing exercise, not punishing exercise. I actually don’t like ‘sweating it out big time!’ – I’m more of a – move, get uncomfortable, challenge myself and ‘glitter sweat’. You know, more like a sparkle. (You get my drift right?). Please don’t tell anyone I wrote that I sweat glitter.
Technique is absolutely key with strength workouts, and as I’m not a personal trainer, I’m not going to go into detail on the how-to’s. (We do have workout guides and technique pointers in our secret 8 week challenge club though! The head honcho coaches, expert nutritionists and PT’s have carefully crafted it!)
3 – CARDIO -include some fasted cardio into your weeks!
In some of my workouts, I love to include some high intensity cardio (skipping, short sprints, high knees etc), but I’ve actually been including more slower, longer walks into my own routine and they really do help, especially if you’re looking to lower body fat levels. Don’t go overboard though and start walking 1.5 hours a day. “Too” much cardio can cause extra stress on our bodies and can actually force them to hold onto ‘fat’. I opt for fasted 45 minute walks – 3 x times a week.
That’s it! The recipe that worked for me: CLEAN,CORE and CARDIO.
If you’re interested in joining our next 8 Week Challenge that i’m doing in partnership with the incredible Kira Westwick, Victoria Reihana and the JBT Lifestyle Transformation Program – I’d love to help get you started and on your way! We focus on introducing clean, wholefoods in your diet with family-friendly recipes, meal plan, workout guide, measurement and goal trackers and lifestyle advice.
To help mamas get the edge, extra energy and to ramp up their wholefood nutrition from the get-go – we also include our preferred wholefood nutritional support products delivered to your door. I’m a huge advocate of these products as I know how much they have helped me and my family.
We have an official group starting on the 14th of October and prices start from around $15 per week! However, you need to go into it prepared and armed so I recommend registering ASAP.
Drop me (and my saggy but strong) pouch a line at [email protected] if you’d like to know more. I’d love to help you take on your own 8 week challenge and also make healthy changes that you (and your family) can sustain for life.