SO, WHAT CAN I DO?
It can be really frustrating; you are told so many different things on how to do this or how to do that. However, have you found that often you read blogs or emails to draw you in, but they don’t answer your question?
I follow a lot of American health specialists & get bombarded by emails promising to say how this or that is done. I end up giving up as they don’t get to the point, or don’t really teach me anything. They are just trying to get you to buy something or sign up to something!
Though I can’t answer all your personal questions I thought I would take some of the questions I often get asked & see if I can answer them – as I am sure most of you will be thinking very similar questions.
Starting of course with the most common:
1.How can I lose weight / weight around my belly?
This is SUCH a massive topic and I am truthfully sorry – there is no one pill or thing you can do. I think you all know I am always saying – we are all 100% unique & so we all react to everything – foods, exercise, sleep, stress in a completely different way.
Also, it is not always just about exercising & definitely not about dieting – as you can’t maintain a diet routine. I always say it is more about MOVING, get the body up if you sit a lot, move, go up & down the stairs.
There are definitely a few things you can try. It is worth noting – you do have to try something for a good 6 weeks before you give up/think it isn’t working.
- Walk & if you do walk anyway – vary your pace, do hills, stop & do some squats by each bench, or add in some step ups on the bench
- When you want sugar / starchy foods – eat some veggies, a handful of nuts, spoon of peanut butter before. You want to avoid large sugar spikes as it really affects your insulin – you can do this by eating some veggies / protein to prevent the spikes
- Go for a walk AFTER a meal (if you can) – you will help your insulin levels/prevent spikes.
- Stress – note your stress levels. Stress increases the hormone Cortisol – the ‘flight’ hormone which tells your body to store fat reserves. When you feel really stressed – stop & take a few deep breaths into your diaphragm & think ‘stop, quiet, all is ok, BREATHE’
- Honestly – cut out the snacking! If you want your sweet kick have it after a meal or do as above – eat some protein/veggies 1st.
- Evaluate what alcohol you are drinking. Moderate and if you are drinking a lot or regularly then remember each drink is calorific.
- Moderate your foods – have the full fat, more natural foods, eat olive oil, nuts etc in moderation but they are all so much better than the low fat options or low sugar options – your body still reacts to the ‘fake sugars’ as sugar & will have insulin spikes.
2.How can I help my sore knees/back or shoulder?
Generally, unless you have had knee surgery or pulled a ligament, knee problems don’t come from the knees. This is often the case with a lot of problems. The quote ‘The Victim screams louder than the culprit’ is a good analogy.
Think about it. The middle of your body is the hips. The glutes are based there & actually they are the power house of your body. Obviously, I am NOT a physio or osteo, but I have seen enough women and been to many, many talks over the years to know some physiology!!
Basically, I see time and time again, women with back pain or knee pain and it is because their glutes are ‘lazy’ or ‘not firing’ properly.
This can lead to tightness in the leg muscles which then pull on the knees. The glutes will happily let other muscles do the work that they should be doing.
So, what can you do:
- THINK bum, tap your bum, get the neuro connections and when doing squats, lunges, deadlifts, walking – push through the feet and really think about activating the bum
- Try a mini / loop band. Try some of these exercises:
- Mini band side steps:
- Get into sprint starts – hands down in front of the front foot. Then push off the front foot and come up to stand. Do so you feel it in the front leg’s bum. Then the other leg
- RELEASE tightness in your bum & quads (front thighs), Hamstrings (back thighs) & calves. Use a tennis ball vs the wall or if you have a roller.
- Do squats, lunges & deadlifts and before pushing up/back to start, really focus on pushing through the grounded feet.
3.What supplements can I / should I take?
I listened to the nutritionist Anita Beardlsey & ever since I have NOT really suggested which supplements you should take. Your body may not get on with certain supplements, you may not know your iron/blood ferritin levels – so you shouldn’t take supplements unless you know you are low.
Go and see a nutritionist / get your bloods done before supplementing. They will go through your health history & can do tests to see if you are low in something.
The only thing I do suggest is Magnesium – as we are generally quite low in this and we can’t OD. Also Vitamin D in the winter (Sept/Oct to May time)
Magnesium comes in different forms, Citrate can help soften the bowels if you have constipation. Glycinate is a good general form & can help relax muscles.
4.What can I do to help my sleep
Everyone can have different sleep issues – some cant get to sleep, others wake in the middle of the night & can’t get back to sleep, others wake really early.
Most importantly, don’t stress about it. Yes it is important to get sleep but it is as much about the quality of sleep that is the most helpful. You may get 5 really good hours of sleep – this may be more advantages for you than 7 or 8 hours of restless sleep.
Maybe try these things:
- Turn off your computers/ipads a few hrs before bed
- Maybe wash your face & do your bed routine an hour before going up to bed
- Stop the pottering & putting off going to bed – if you can
- If you wake & your mind is worrying/thinking of different things, go into another room, keep lights low & write down what is bothering you.
- Go & read in another room until you feel sleepy again
- Try listening to a sleep meditation – invest in a sleep eye patch which has earphones in – you can get them. They are useful
- Try and build a morning outdoors routine – get in the garden, go an walk when you wake. Don’t use sunglasses or wear make up – let the light get you. Do this regularly and it begins to build your circadian rhythm & can really help sleep (takes a while to kick in)
- Avoid caffeine after midday – see if that helps. That includes all drinks with caffeine in it – including tea, coffee, coke etc. Some people are absolutely fine having it late, it really doesn’t affect them. Hence we are all different – listen to your body!
5. I’m post natal, when can I get back to running/harder exercise
I have written so many blogs on post natal exercise. So go and have a read of them if this is the specific question you really want answers to.
Similar to what I said at the beginning, ‘we are all 100% unique’, new mums all have a totally different birth story.
Some have planned, some emergency C – sections, some 3rd degree tears, some have very traumatic births, others no problems at all.
So really, there is NO ONE ANSWER here too. The most important thing is that you build time into rehab – whatever birth you have had, your body is exhausted, it has been stretched, had pressure on it & you also have a little person to look after.
The thinking on this has changed a bit over the years. It used to be – absolutely no running or higher intensity exercise for a good 6 months post birth.
However, there has been more research into the post natal body and the impact childbirth has and also it has recognised how everybody is so different.
The main thing I always advise is:
- Build a strong core 1st – it doesn’t mean sit ups and planks. It means focussing on your deepest transverse abdominals – breathing correctly to engage them, gently adding a knee lift, to then be able to lift both knees without big bulging pressurised tummy.
- I always say ‘you wouldn’t build a house on sand, a soft/unstable foundation’ and that is the same with your body. If you are not strong underneath, you will get injuries/niggles elsewhere.
- Can you stand on 1 leg and do 1 leg squats or a back lung up to 1 leg & hold the balance?
- How is your pelvic floor – too tight?? Weak?? Remember, a tight pelvic floor can be the cause of leaking, as much as a weak one
- How strong or how tight are your glutes – the powerhouse. Are they firing properly or are other muscles doing the work which they should be doing.
- If you had a C section or had a 3rd degree tear – think about the scar tissue deep within you. Your body has to work very hard to help mend all of that. So, feed yourself with nutritious foods – lots of vegetables and protein to help the internal mending.
- I totally respect GP’s BUT most of the time they haven’t got time to check your tummy for a diastasis or check your pelvic floor. So please don’t ask them can I get back to running/exercise.
- My best advise is to go and see a women’s health physio – always ask for a referral from your GP or I have a number of good ones here in Bristol.
Here is the link to my posts – read up on what I say about the post natal body and getting back to exercise. https://www.vickihill.co.uk/blog/
I hope some of these Q&A have helped you a bit. Remember, generally there is never really 1 answer, but hopefully this offers some advise. Keep asking me questions and I will do another blog on them!