Pleased to announce my new qualification as a Pilates Instructor! I’ve passed my Level 3 Diploma in teaching Mat Pilates.
Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to help target a myriad of physical and emotional well being needs. I’ve found it so beneficial in helping me regain my core strength after having the baby – wish I’d have practised more during my pregnancy too.
I love the feeling after a Pilates class – the only way to describe it is ZEN! Chilled, rejuvenated and STRONGER. I notice the tone returning to my muscles instantly, sculpting the shape of my body. It’s a little like meditation for me as for an hour or so I’m just focussing on the smooth, fluidity of my body movements and all the muscular actions and changes through each exercise. Some might see Pilates as sedative – in fact the slower the movement, the deeper and more effective the action towards developing strength, whilst minimising the possibility of injury or muscular tearing.
Pilates & Dance
In my classes I’m going to combine Pilates principles with dance conditioning exercises. Pilates and dance go perfectly hand in hand. I first discovered Pilates in my dance training at Trinity Laban. They have a great Pilates studio there. Joseph Pilates himself rehabilitated many dancers back to strength from injury – his methods for them being quite powerful and advanced to service the demands of athletic bodies. Prior to which he helped injured world war soldiers by adapting the hospital beds into, what we know today as ‘reformers’ – the larger Pilates equipment, assisting exercises by providing resistance – to aid recuperation. His methods helping people with different needs demonstrates the power of Pilates for different ages, health conditions and levels of strength and fitness.
Contact me here for more information about small group and 1:1 Pilates Tuition!
I love a play fight. A spontaneous, innate wrestle to bundle each other, avoid or supply a tickle, or to try to get my own way.
Not a euphemism for anything kinky – honest; it’s not easy to quietly play fight anyway. So all above board when the baby is awake (ahem!), and plus my fam is likely to read this so yeah…
I love the struggle to push and pull; the wrangle and tangle of limbs. The huff and the puff, the grunt and the scream, the force, the grapple to succeed. The calories burnt, the muscles engaged, the core strength to overturn the opposition.
As long as the opponent knows when to really stop of course – there are moments when they won’t give in. A stronger force needs to know the rules, respect the signs when to relent, catch a breath, before Round Two begins.
Love the laughs, the moments where I can’t breathe either for laughing ’til I could burst, or being pinned down and unable to move. An extreme game of Twister, that extra level of tussle to intensify the workout, ok, a bruise here and there, but the feeling of euphoria at the end.
The bond the play fight forges. A patch over an argumentative moment or blasting away the stresses of the day. You can’t beat a play fight to boost the happy feels and each one rolls out every time in its own unique way.
I had to write about play fighting like this. It’s something that always astounds me. The restorative nature from a tense moment as two people, or maybe even parent and child, push the concept of play. It may not be for everyone, and there may not be a suitable (or worthy) opponent to hand. A recovering post-natal body should probably take it easy, and their opponent needs to be clear that ‘stop’, ‘ouch’, or the agreed equivalent is understood, as is the agreed level of force. And definitely no kicking, punching or biting allowed (just a nibble perhaps)! It’s such a natural instinct we see with other mammals – dogs, cats, monkeys – they play with each other frequently, but it’s something we tend to lose as human adults. A full body work out of short bursts of intense play can surely burn serious calories. I don’t know the stats, but would be interested to know, and in addition to the laughter it’s a good all round mind and body workout. Go on – find that inner child and find the Power Of Play!
This is hilarious – the How To guide to Play Fighting with your girlfriend. Take note!
There’s even an organisation promoting mindful play fighting!
We’ve been living on a baby budget since baby was born. If this is the time to take advantage of the wonderful benefits we have in this country for low-income families this will be it for me.
Discovering the Healthy Start initiative for families on low incomes was a saviour for us. As freelancers living off a small maternity monthly pay out for me we are entitled to healthy start vouchers giving us a certain amount each month off of fruit and vegetables, milk, baby formula (although I’ve not regularly bought this ) and vitamins for me and Baby-O, from many major supermarkets. I’m yet to find any independent F&V stores that take them – and not sure it would be worthwhile for them to take them.
Learning to shop and cook on a low budget but still making tasty food has been a fun challenge for me. We’ve tried cutting down on meat we’ve tried going vegetarian and I’m still not sure how to cook sufficient food that will sustain us without meat. I know it can be done but we are a work in progress.
Although it drives me mad that organic produce is more expensive than non-organic I have tried to use organic for Baby-O where possible and therefore largely our diet consists of lots of fruit and veg and easy to throw together meals, cutting down on meat to allow for the slight luxury of organic.
I keep the store cupboards stocked up with red lentils, pulses, whole wheat pasta and lots of dried spices, so I know veggie dishes, although basic, can be bulked out with protein and with different flavours. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m cooking in bulk and freezing meals so I try to minimise wastage of some F&V that many not always get eaten up.
Now baby led weaning is underway and Baby-O is eating breakfast with us, the cheapest and most sustainable breakfast I know is porridge. I’ve been mixing it up depending on what fruit we have in, always mixing in full fat cow’s milk and a couple of dollops of full fat Greek yoghurt on the side has been a winner. My fave additions are:
*Apple or pear chopped into tiny pieces mixed into the porridge has gone down well.
*Frozen berries mixed in whilst the porridge is still on the heat to defrost them makes for a fun pink porridge.
*Always mashed banana mixed in with some cinnamon
*Dates soaked overnight, chopped and using the sweet water the next day to cook the porridge has been an occasional addition (dont want baby poop overload!)
*I’ve been adding a little peanut butter as I understand after 6 months babies can have peanut butter to help build up immunity to nut allergies.
I’ve learnt a lot since being off work about how to cook yummy things with very few but healthy ingredients and this will be a good life skill which is going to continue with me as Baby-O grows up.
I love days when I look in my fridge and it’s so uninspiring that I’m considering ordering takeout. But then I remember the goodies I have in my freezer. As long as I can motivate myself and find time to prepare vegetables in advance or buy them ready prepared from the freezer department, I can quite often be creative enough to cobble together lunch or dinner from the contents of my freezer.
Preparing baby food in advance or cooking in bulk and freezing means I can easily grab something for her dinner and cook it quickly. So when she’s grizzly and hungry food can be in front of her in a matter of moments. I’ve been told about using ice cube trays to store mashed vegetables. As baby gets older she has more ‘cubes’ of food per portion but it really helps to manage her mealtimes without chunky tubs, when freezer space is at a premium.
As long as I have some good staples in the freezer I can also get something nutritious and satisfying for my lunch too. My favourite is a Asian inspired with some miso soup paste vegetables and noodles the song keep me going at lunch time and again doesn’t require much preparation.
My meal here was thrown together in moments, and with the claims that frozen foods retain their nutrition when packed from source, hopefully I’m optimising our vitamin intake as I go.
No – BLW isn’t a delicious sandwich filling! Baby Led Weaning has been hailed by child experts as an effective method of getting babies food savvy and ready to eat many types of flavours and textures. I’ve got a few friends who recommended it, along with my cousin who is a community nursery nurse for an NHS health visiting team.
The deal is, instead of buying ready made baby food in jars or pouches, babies eat pretty much the same food as us, with their diet and nutritional dos and don’ts in mind first and foremost. I’m going to talk about cooking on a budget tomorrow, but this helps to keep food bills low.
Now I’m having a go at baby led weaning we’re more or less eating the same foods as Baby-O, meaning we mostly cooking everything from scratch, really cleanly, without salt. Much of the base of our food is veg and pulses. It feels good. And although I’m making most recipes up, I’ve found a few recipes that I can adapt and they still taste pretty good. A recent hit was Joe Wicks, Body Coach’s Lamb Curry! Baby-O didn’t each too much of the lamb, but loved the sauce and veg, with coconut oil, curry paste (I found a low salt one and only put a small amount in her portion), red lentils to thicken the sauce, and ground cashew nuts instead of cream, as a few of the healthy tweaks Joe has made. I do sometimes take Baby-O’s portion out before adding stronger flavours or some seasoning for us, but the base of most dishes can generally be shared by us all.
I’ve found Annabel Karmel’s website, where baby specific recipes can be added to, to make them a little more interesting for the adult palette. The Baby-Led Weaning book (Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, The Experiment, 2010) was a useful read to see how easy and straight forward BLW is, with minimal extra preparation, and I also grabbed the Ella’s Kitchen: A Tiny Taste of the First Foods Book (Hamlyn, 2015) free with the Boots Parenting Club, which gave a few more ideas for using basic ingredients, but experimenting to adapt for my meals too.
BLW has really helped me think about cooking from scratch, using fresh ingredients, largely veggie dishes as I’ve cut down on meat – and I’m definitely feeling the health benefits with more of a spring in my step!
Since I’ve lost a bit of the baby weight and my latest triumph is being able to fit into my Levis again, I thought I’d do a few days
of sharing my post-natal nutrition story. Again, not just about losing the weight (although that is a factor so I can get back into my old wardrobe!), but about regaining my fitness and getting healthy for me and Baby-O.
Day 1 is Smoothie-Spiration!
I’ve been short on time for myself so a smoothie every morning has helped me ensure I’m on my way to getting my daily Fruit and Veg (F&V) intake. There is some controversy over smoothies – the process removes some nutritional value, and then we don’t absorb all the goodness as the smoother liquid passes through the gut too quickly. I also lack the tools of a smoothie maker that optimises the nutritious benefits from the F&V etc.
It’s the difference though between me being able to throw everything into my ‘soupmaker'(!) blender quickly and getting an easy and fulfilling breakfast as regular practice, versus haphazardly finding time for my F&V throughout the day and running out of time to eat. I’ve got my same old ingredients I pretty much use all the time if they are in the cupboard/fridge, as I’ve got used to buying them as standard on the shopping list, but I haven’t got bored of it.
I’m quite impressed with myself that this is one routine I have managed to stick to!
Just had another massive realisation on my Pilates course today – many things I thought I knew about my body are verrrry different now in comparison to my pre and post-natal body. Whereas previously I would have considered myself having good bodily awareness, it took the Pilates instructors’ corrections today to tell me my body alignment has changed, my core is weaker and my proprioceptors have lost their compass as my ‘new’ body needs to be re-tuned.
I’m thinking like a lizard changes skin! I’m renewed and it’s a gift to me as I’m going to also be teaching beginners and may be able to recognise the point of view of others who may rarely workout and are not accustomed to physical activity, or indeed other athletes and dancers who are recovering themselves from pregnancy or injury. So back to the basics I go without regret but with vigour.
That said I’ve just bombed it up the long escalator to catch my train, got to the top without stopping and still managed to engage my core and zip up my pelvic floor as I went… not entirely lost it. 😉
I heard a really relevant joke today:
– How many dancers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
– One to screw in the bulb and the rest to say they could have done it better.
…for now I’m the one reading the instructions for how to screw in the bulb.
This time last week I was on a dance floor. Sitting here on my sofa thinking about it, it’s not that crazy because that’s what people do. That’s what I do…albeit I only had 1.5 hours to sweat it out before I had to pick up Baby-O from the babysitter, and the last real ‘Dancefloor Time’ I had was probably 9 months ago before baby arrived, but I suddenly had a realisation. There is a danger I am becoming more ‘Mum’ than ‘Me’. I’m losing Me!
Through no fault of my own other than natural circumstance I’m in the danger zone of letting go of the things that used to really matter to me. I used to thrive for the moment when I would arrive at a club, take my coat off, say my hellos to the friends comprising of 80% or so of the room’s population, before starting to find that hedonistic state on the floor. The music takes over my body, puts a big smile on my face, and before I know it I’ve sweated gallons for a good four or five hours, and not had a second thought of feeling tired or too hot. This is where I grow as a dancer, where I connect my body with my passion for music, importantly where I found my partner, and if it weren’t for this combination I may not have met Baby-O. That for me replaces any 5 mile run or boring workout at the gym by far. For that moment on the floor last Sunday, dancing with my partner, it reminded me of the carefree beings we were before Baby.
The sound system of this noisy club however is no environment for a young baby’s ears. I’d been meaning for months to make a concerted effort to prepare Baby-O for being looked after by someone other than me and her Dad so I could get back to the club. I thought I’d not given her time to learn to fall asleep on her own with out me feeding her to sleep for example, so she can be looked after without her babysitter experiencing prolonged crying when she gets tired and doesn’t know how to comfort herself. I thought I should be leaving her for increasing periods of time so she would gradually get used to our absence. Finding the first moment to need to ask someone to look after baby for whatever reason – be it work or leisure – hadn’t been so important. We’d not had a strong external pressure, e.g. returning to work, to force us to practise. As a result I’d not left her for more than the occasional hour or two. So last Sunday I finally trialled leaving her with my cousin.
My ‘Schoolmum’ error of forgetting the expressed milk was my first major fail, but we live and learn. I won’t forget it next time. My expert cousin (a nursery nurse/health visitor) put me at ease, took baby from my hands with a bit of Sunday roast to fulfil her in other ways and sent me on my way. I’ve then this weekend left Baby with my mum for 2 whole days whilst I’ve been on a Pilates Instructor course, and by all accounts it seems Baby-O didn’t miss me. She had her expressed milk and her solid foods, she fell asleep without feeding from me, and that’s it. Pressure off! Seems there wasn’t really much to worry about. Ok we’re very blessed with a lovely ‘low maintenance’ baby, but now I know we can comfortably leave Baby with our trusted babysitters, I can reinstate my identity as a person not just as a parent. I can get back to being ME!
I can confidently start getting the qualities back that made me who I was, or doing the things I loved before Baby, whilst still being Mum. My mental health and wellbeing is important too. I’m going to be a little selfish, take a break from being mummy more often and make more time just for me or for me and my other half to re-kindle who we were pre-Baby-O.
Are we (Hu)Mum, or are we Dancer? I’m both. 😉
Here’s a clip of me the last time on the dance floor at month 8 of my pregnancy, before Baby-O made her appearance!