Body shape goals – a holistic approach through fitness & diet

Major news! I’m now a Certified Nutrition Coach in addition to being a dance and Pilates instructor! I can now help my clients to achieve their body weight and shape goals through both fitness and nutrition.

Many of us want to get a more toned stomach – and sit ups can form a part of the toning of the abs…but to burn adipose subcutaneous fat tissue, we need to build in a regular full body fitness plan to burn total fat and look at improvements in the diet to support that weight loss – a quick few sit ups aren’t going to cut it in this fat burning piece. That’s def where the 20 mins minimum of fitness a day enters in – it’s proven that the rate of calorie burning can slow down during longer endurance stints…may make fitness less of a chore for some 😉 ! Having a fitness and nutrition coach is an excellent way to help keep accountability and on track to achieve body shape goals.

Ways the diet can change the body:

Weight Loss: The age old formula of what you put in to your body needs to equal less Cals than what you burn each day also needs to be considered if you want to lose weight. A nutrition coach will help calculate these two factors and guide a client through the mechanism to make a plan like this stick to get results

Building Muscle: You might actually want to build body mass… bigger muscles – legs, arms maybe…bum (!) 🤷🏻‍♀️and a protein controlled diet would support the goals here.

Detoxing and finding glow and energy: I’m on a 30 day cleanse to support my own detoxing and weight loss goals to find more energy, and I’m not going to just achieve this through cutting calories – that isn’t necessarily the right approach for everyone.  I’m using protein shakes and supplements to help my journey on to make sure I’m getting all the right nutrients and to aid my health goals. 
Just to add the dress in this pic is the one I’m wearing to the Guides For Brides Wedding Awards – this was one event I wanted to find my glow and feel a little more confident in my skin for…and I definitely feel better for the cleanse, two weeks in!

A good nutrition coach and fitness coach can help you work out the best diet and fitness combination to support your ideal body shape. Working out your macronutrients with a good nutritionist: healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates is really important, to re-assess the right diet plan at every stage of life, as our bodies, metabolic rates and circumstances change. 

If you would like to chat through your health goals with me, or would like more info on the 30 day cleanse, feel free to book time in through the calendar below to help work out your body weight and shape goals and how we can achieve them!

”…but I don’t have time for fitness’: short & sweet, little & often, and how fitness could help you through stages of the menopause.

20 Plus a Day. Short and Sweet, Little and often. 

I was so chuffed to be invited to introduce my latest ‘challenge’ to the wonderful Kaleidoscopes, a peri – and menopause support group, recently at their monthly support meeting. It led me to share the benefits of an exercise ‘challenge’, which may be suitable and well designed to support women through this stage of life.  I developed my 20 Plus A Day challenge (#20PlusADay) to highlight that even 20 minutes of physical exercise, which can gently increase the heart rate,* could be more beneficial to the changing body, than a programme of one hour+ high intensity sessions on a frequent – or not so frequent (for the time poor amongst us!) – basis.   I’m particularly talking to those who don’t already have a fitness plan in place, or could be something to consider if you’re already doing one or two hours each week and would like to increase this.

Fitness and the menopause

Here are a few key points to highlight of how the body is transitioning through the menopause, and how fitness can support the symptoms and changes, and therefore why it’s a good idea to get ahead and start preparing the body through fitness during the peri-menopause phase:

  • The symptoms of menopause are quite often a result of estrogen imbalance. Exercise is proven to be a powerful practice to combat these symptoms – getting your heart rate up for at least a half hour every day helps boost estrogen levels, which can help take the edge off.
  • Muscle tissue depletes faster as we transition through menopause and beyond – strength based training is highly recommended to keep replenishing and maintaining muscle mass.
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis in the years following menopause – exercise boosts the circulation of blood through the body, nourishing and strengthening the bones, and strengthening the muscles, will also support the bones.
  • Body shape or type is likely to change. Women feel and look physical different as belly fat can increase and be harder to shift – Light aerobic, cardio activity and strength based training is proven to be more beneficial at burning belly fat than long, endurance fitness types such as running.  

Pilates is a key go to fitness type for women transitioning through peri-menopause into the menopause as Pilates focuses on strengthening the muscles and joints, burning body fat, helping to develop muscle mass with the right diet, and some Pilates exercises provide a gentle cardio benefit.  The continuous movement and breath work involved in Pilates will increase circulation and kickstart the metabolism in the body, helping with fat and calorie burning goals. 

I designed the #20PlusADay challenge with two targets in mind:  

Short and sweet – As the research shows that shorter bursts of activity are more beneficial than long, endurance fitness types for women experiencing the menopause; and/or

I don’t have time for fitness – people who struggle to find time for a dedicated fitness plan, or who already have maybe a favourite fitness class once a week, and would like to increase activity, showing how we can make fitness more manageable, to prove we don’t have to specifically get our lycra on or even get in the car to go to a gym.  We can build fitness in small, manageable chunks of time as frequently as possible. Sometimes we don’t have to make it a big heave-ho to fit in the fitness, which can, to some, seem impractical – to some – impossible!

20 Plus a day could be interpreted as eg 20+mins walking, light jog, 20+ reps of press ups, squats, or 20 secs of plank after a warm up and if 20 is feeling too tame, you’re not noticing a difference in your fitness level, or you have more time, why not increase this to 30! This challenge is the springboard to build upon and make fitness a regular habit. Start building up intensity in those 20 mins and work towards the recommendation of a minimum of 30 mins 5 times a week. Contact me if you’re not sure what would work best for your body*

Make fitness manageable for you. Try my 20 plus a day challenge #20plusaday and see what health and fitness goals you can achieve in 2023 through ‘little and often’.

Ways to make a start this February:

⚡️ Mama Strength Spark – see what a month of unlimited online Pilates can do for you;

💪🏻 121 options to fit around your schedule in person in my studio Buckingham, or online options available;

*check with a medical pro if you’re suffering from any pre-existing health condition, have just recently had a baby, or are recovering from an injury. Contact me here if you’re not sure and would like to chat more.

More suggestions about how to make the 20 Plus a Day work for you, inspiration for how to mix and match different movement types, and how to interpret the 20 Plus a Day can be found on my social media platforms – search @dancingmamafitness on Facebook and Instagram.

Will you try the #StoreCupboardChallenge

Did you see my #StoreCupboadChallenge?

I made the most of every essential in my store cupboard and freezer and my Oddbox*, without doing a big supermarket shop for the week! I probably saved £40 on my food shop by only buying the milk/juice/bread/breakfast staples – oh and popcorn and jelly beans on a cinema trip (essentials, though right?). 

I’ve done a lot of work to build up my store cupboard so I could still make sure we got the right nutrients for the week and I’d got some good meals left in the freezer from previous meals.  We’re a plant-based household, so it’s not like I was going a week without meat anyway, which can push up the food bill, though of course, so can the good vegan processed alternatives.  I worked through the previously bought processed freezer foods that were still lingering there so it wasn’t just living on veg and noodles for the week.  I also had some evening events with some canapés to help me last longer between meals, but we still had usual good portions of food everyday – plus my Baby O gets her free school meals still, so I get the run down from her on what she’s eaten (or not!) in school. I made sure she got fed well too. I just cooked more consciously for the week!

Here are my takeaways from the #StoreCupboardChallenge:

Oddbox Fruit & Veg Box
  1. I’ll think twice before buying the more frivolous treats that aren’t on my shopping list – I avoided the unplanned temptations by not going to the supermarket for the week;
  2. Massively reduced waste and I was being really careful with ingredients to make them go further;
  3. I discovered some delish food in the freezer I’d forgotten about so it wasn’t all boring;
  4. but yeahhh – some meals were pretty basic (jacket potato baked beans stylee!), but we’re so programmed to have the food we want at our fingertips – or to have the fast food can be so cheap, easy…and fast. It was quite humbling to go right back to really simple basic whole food cooking for the week without the ‘luxuries’;
  5. Saved a huuuuge amount of money for a week, so I can quite happily go for a guilt free meal out as a treat sometime soon – especially as even a meal for me + little one can equal a week of food shopping; and
  6. I found some new recipes and got creative – googled a few on BBC Good Food. Enter in the key ingredients and it finds recipes that match the ingredients (felt like I was on Ready Steady Cook); and
  7. it’s got me thinking more cleverly about my next big shop – what can I make sure I stock up on if I decide to cut my food bill again – might even have a go at the challenge once a month!

So are you going to try the #StoreCupboardChallenge? Let me know how you get on!

*use this code here for £10 off your first Oddbox. I’ll get £10 off too 😉

Leanne Stitt Doula Diary

Empowerment through connection to our bodies & moving through pregnancy

Things I wish I’d have told my younger self… I’ve been talking about ensuring we don’t leave our health, and prioritising ourselves, too late. I wish I’d have started connecting with my body on a physical level during pregnancy. I practised hypno-birthing, which worked wonders for my mental health, but really wish I’d have continued moving, exercising, dancing (I got lazy) – and totally wish I’d have discovered Pilates sooner! Leanne Stitt of Doula Diary, and I have been talking about the importance and benefits of keeping moving during pregnancy to help for a quicker and healthier recovery in the post-natal phase. In this blog Leanne shares her thoughts on why its good to keep moving during pregnancy…and beyond!

Connection is our birth right, but it’s at risk.

More and more we are finding ourselves in our heads losing the connection to our own bodies. Education and society also keeps us in our heads, and this is at the expense of our bodily instinct & wisdom.

Reconnecting to yourself and your body when you’re pregnant can be so empowering. Simple adjustments in your day to day can create new habits which will strengthen the connection to your bodily wisdom, which man of us have lost along the way. Learning to reconnect to yourself in pregnancy is also a great tool to take forward into your labour and your journey as a parent.

Connect with the body during pregnancy

Pilates and similar embodied arts like Yoga is often described as the Dance of Breath and Movement which beautifully sums up Birth too. The breath helps centre us providing you with oxygen rich blood, gives us focus and can allow our mind to relax and our body open. Focusing on your breath has been shown to alter your brainwaves in a positive way, decrease stress hormones, blood pressure and Increases oxygen levels and relaxation.

Practicing movement with breathwork in pregnancy prepares you beautifully for birthing your baby, whether that’s homebirth, caesarean birth, hospital birth, whatever your choice, it will influence a more positive experience. Dancing through contractions has lots of benefits and can help baby descend into your pelvis. You can then take these skills you have learned forward to adjusting to life as a new parent. There will be times you will feel overwhelmed and centring yourself with your breath will help you clear your mind. Movement with your baby will soothe your baby, soothe you and support bonding.

Modern society is overwhelming, the constant juggle and expectation of more, so it is no wonder we are disconnected from ourselves. The above advice does not cover only pregnancy and about but moving forward into your role as a parent.

My top 5 ways to reconnect to your body:

  1. Dancing/Movement

Dancing during the first stage of labour can decrease duration and intensity of pain. Instinctive movement can help your baby move down into the pelvis  and will divert attention away from any unwanted sensations. Dancing with your newborn is also a wonderful happy hormone release and the moment is incredibly soothing for your baby.

2. Slow Down and Be Present

Remove yourself away from the noise, switch off technology and pay attention to what you are eating, how you are feeling, how the leaves are changing colour. Note how this makes you feel. 

3. Go outside 

Feel the sun, wind and rain on your skin. Blow away the cobwebs and clear your mind. Fill your lungs with the gorgeous fresh air and oxygenate your blood.

4. Question authority

Stay connected to your own genuine needs and desires by being in the body. Be your own guru and don’t feel guilty for taking the time you need to keep yourself well physically and mentally.

5. Be creative 

Do more of what inspires you. Paint, Make something, read, take a warm bath with your favourite treats. Do that things that you love but you never find time for, make the time. Feeding your soul opens you up to so much peace and joy.

Don’t forget to rest!

Now it is important to note that equal measures of rest and movement are important. Tuning in to your body will help to find the right balance for you. Breathwork can be a key tool and influencer in how we are feeling. When it comes to Birthing your Baby, if you’re too much in your head or adrenaline is taking over it will disrupt the flow of oxytocin which is a key hormone in birth. Breath work & Instinctive movement can break this process. If you would like to learn more get in touch.

Leanne Stitt



Pilates Studio

Announcing the launch of Pilates @ Juniper Lodge!

I’ve finally named my Buckingham Pilates studio! 

Introducing 🌲Pilates @ Juniper Lodge!🌲I loved the idea of giving my studio that mountain lodge vibe, which led me to bring in my love of nature and those alpine views are not complete without fir trees🌲 Coupled with the fact it’s no coincidence that my tipple of choice is…GIN🤪and hey presto the name Juniper kept creeping back in to my contender list! I then started digging more into the name Juniper, particularly as I’m a massive essential oil geek. Love the way scent can transport the mind and elevate health. Lo and behold I discover how the native Americans burn Juniper for various benefits for example…and my favourite discovery of these ancient trees is this: “Juniper trees symbolise the strength and perseverance of human spirit… Even when it seems like we cannot survive, hope is never lost.” If that’s not an analogy for so many facets of my life, my philosophy for how I support my clients and the world at the moment, I don’t know what is.

AND IT JUST GETS BETTER! I’ve organised a giveaway!

Giveaway Competition – win a month of Mama Strength Pilates Programme and more…

Celebrating the launch of my studio, Pilates @ Juniper Lodge, I’m giving away a month of my ‘Pure’ Mama Strength online Pilates Programme and a few goodies in a competition! This is an opportunity to see how, by giving yourself the spotlight for a change in daily manageable ways, you might start to rediscover a glimmer of the energy, strength and muscle tone of the pre-child woman you know still lies within. With this insane prize, you’ll get Pure Mama Strength (a 121 with me plus one month unlimited weekly access to group sessions) and some other goodies…including gin! (no coincidence that I named my studio after a key ingredient of gin…ahem. There were other influences for the name (honest!), which you can read about through my announcement post on my Facebook/IG pages 😉 ).  Enter the competition through my social media pages below – hint: you can apply on both Facebook and Instagram!

Mama Strength is aimed at women with younger children who had their kids later in life.  The body can take up to 5 years to recover from childbirth, plus a ‘later in life mum’ body can also take a little more dedicated work to bounce back into pre-child strength, tone and energy, and well, it’s just so worth starting sooner rather than later.

Us parents have got to take time out to prioritise ourselves for a change on a regular basis, separate from that ‘mum’ identity occasionally, and understand that a personal fitness programme can be for you too. Let’s not use the excuse that there ‘isn’t time’ – and see how Mama Strength Pilates programme helps you to getting into daily healthy habits, in manageable ways, with the support of me – a dedicated Pilates coach.

Honestly – getting to grips with my strength and energy through Pilates was a massive game changer for me. I gained the post-childbirth additional curves that tells me my body did an amazing thing, giving birth to my child, but through regularly practising Pilates I feel the muscle and core strength is there underneath helping me to prep for more physical, high impact fitness types like running or dancing – the powerful calorie burners. Work gotta be done on diet and a mix of fitness types to see a total change in body shape, and it’s got to be fun right?  Pilates is a great place to start to lay the strength foundations and build the confidence to move on to the higher impact stuff. Start feeling the results in one month – ready in time for Christmas, and then make a smooth move on to ramp up the NY health goals.  The only way change can happen is by prioritising YOU!

School’s out – but the workouts continue

School holiday workouts: A workout attempted will be way more beneficial than no workout at all. 😉

Here’s a thought of the week for you: Sometimes matters are out of our control – including when the kids are at home on school holidays and we have a small person with us who needs entertaining – it’s easy to knock the idea of a work out on the head. 

I try to keep momentum for my Pilates clients in school hols though. This week on our group Mama Strength Pilates Programme session we worked out with the little ones in the room – the kids dipped in and out – an hour is a long session for the young ones of course. We don’t expect them to engage in anything longer than 20 minutes – and for the moments they’re climbing all over us we just go with it.

I keep some structure of the usual Pilates session going – but yeah – it’s nigh on impossible to get through the whole hour without the little saboteurs getting involved. So Plan B: when the kids start trying to copy or show their own moves we re-engage them in and try something structured (we use team work style exercises/stretches in my holiday sessions – the moves can be tried with kids of all ages).

Obviously a bit of play rolling around with them is great fun – just be mindful of your own safety and of the kids. The little ones love jumping all over us – in Pilates we draw the belly button through to the spine to avoid back injury and protect the lower, inner organs etc.

We just have to re-wire/re-focus the brain and, dare I say, ‘manage’ our expectations of how much structured workout will get done! Keep moving during your workout, know the kids will be in and out of the room…before you know it you’ll have burned more calories than you realise! A workout attempted will be way more beneficial than no workout at all.

I quickly sussed out these family home workout hacks in my lockdown home teaching life…and turned the things I discovered with my Baby-O (my social media name for my little girl) into my parents and kids Pilates session I now teach at music festivals. Photos from lock down Pilates with the family, and my sidekick and I teaching at a festival 🥰😜

Parents & Kids’ Pilates at Music Festivals

Achieve and maintain healthy body weight and help to reduce the food bills

Fruit & Veg Box of dreams!

I’m hearing a common theme of needing inspiration for healthy eating from the parents I’m in contact with, and equally a hot topic in the news at the mo is families worrying about finances / increasing food costs. This week I’ve been sharing tips and re-sharing some blogs I wrote in my Mama Connect Facebook group, with a few suggestions to get some faff free low cost healthy eating going on that should work for the whole family. I’m supporting my Mama Strength Pilates Programme clients to make minimal changes every day to their daily routines to help prioritise themselves and their health on a daily basis in a manageable way. Here are more easy ways to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, alongside a regular fitness plan (calculate your healthy BMI here). Essentially unhealthy snacking is a major fiend to both body weight and budget, so let’s look at ways we can curb those snacky cravings or avoid over-eating – aand eating less also means lower food bills. Win win all round!:

  1. Get a later brekkie – there’s many mixed reports on ‘fasting’ diets, so feel free to do your own research here (I’m neither advocating or poo-pooing it as I think it varies in the individual), but delaying breakfast until after school drop off maybe means eating closer to lunch and therefore reducing the need for mid-morning snacks.
  2. Brush your teeth after the main course – having a fresh mouth means less likely to want to eat dessert…unless you reallllly want to eat it! 😉 A small drop of Peppermint oil on the tongue also has a similar effect if you’re out and about (check the oil is good enough quality to ingest – I prefer pure, high quality oils like DoTerra).
  3. Essential oils – Sniff ’em, drink a few drops in hot water, massage in to pressure points…oils can play many roles in weight management: curb cravings, increase metabolism, aid digestion, reduce sugar cravings – sooo much potential. I’ll be talking more about these elixirs of nature in the Mama Connect Facebook group.
  4. Drink a glass of water before a meal and eat off a smaller plate – the water makes you feel fuller, and a smaller plate will psychologically make you feel you’ve got enough on your plate.
  5. What are your healthy yummy snacks?? My favourite is a handful of nuts with my morning coffee. Strangely enough the flavours mixed together tastes like some sort of naughtiness! Or find something that you can keep in the cupboard that is at least good quality – organic maybe. On that note – I’ve been saving money on snacking – and now we’re a plant based household, on meat – and getting organic fruit and veg boxes instead.

This Eatwell Guide is a basic but useful reminder of how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

Ok obviously we want to enjoy life, right? Life’s too short to be completely virtuous, so everything in moderation. So have a think: what little changes can you make, and where you can get – or curb – your naughty craving fixes?

I’m actually in the upper end of my BMI. What am I going to do about it? Firstly I’m going to take a deep breath – remind myself I’m happy with my body, and how powerful and incredible it is, than I’ll REDUCE MY SNACKING AND GET MORE CARDIO going on! 💪💪💪

Join the Mama: Connect. Walk. Talk! group here for ongoing inspiration and motivation, including in person events, like my monthly free Parent and Kids walks.

Tips to Calm First Dance and Wedding Day Nerves

“When you dance the purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” Wayne Dyer

I’m refreshing a previous post about enjoying every step of the first dance! How to prepare the mind both in advance and in the day to help you calm and focus yourself, and calm the First Dance and Wedding Day Nerves.

Here’s some tips (used by performers – true story!) to help calm your first wedding dance or wedding day nerves:

  1. Practice the power pose behind the scenes – proven to boost confidence.
  2. Roll the shoulders back and lift the chest to stand tall and proud.
  3. Find ways to relax the face – tension in the face could bring tension into the rest of the body.
  4. Find a way to help calm the mind – whether mindfulness, visualisation, meditation – whatever works for you. Perhaps find a routine to practice on the morning of your wedding to help chill the mind.
  5. Practise a breathing technique you could try in the moment – pull yourselves to the side and have a little powwow breathing pattern that you’ve tried in advance and links you to a chance to centre you into the moment.
  6. Find an essential oil blend toolkit that you can carry in your wedding day essentials kit or handbag and keep the oils near for the day – have a little sniff of to energise you, calm you, relieve a tension headache…whatever you think you’ll need!

Take a look at the Insta Reel below for some inspiration 🙂

I have one thing to say:

First Wedding Dance or Wedding Day Nerves? I’ve got you covered.

🦋We’re emerging out of Lockdown 🤞🏻 from our hermit like existence. Like butterflies from our cocoons!🦋 So if Wedding Day or First Dance Nerves feel out of control after months of minimal human contact, I’ve got your covered.

We have a ‘road map’, so let’s create a plan to physically and mentally prepare for the first dance and for unleashing your gorgeous selves to the wider world beyond your household and soon enough, to your guests at your wedding. There’s no better way to make the final days to freedom count (whenever that may be). 

I’ve got a series of blogs to read, starting with the importance of preparing in advance for the first dance. STARTING FIRST DANCE LESSONS SOONER RATHER THAN LATER will mean the dance will become like second nature, just like walking, and the nerves will stay at the door. 

Wedding Day of First Dance Nerves? The Love of Dance has got you covered!

I can support you with:
💪🏼 Physical fitness and strength through a bespoke Pilates programme;
💃🏾First Wedding Dance lessons;
🗓 A plan for scheduling in key timeline priorities in your wedding planning,

Which in turn will:
💃🏾🕺🏾improve your self-confidence and
🧘🏻‍♀️prepare the mind to calm wedding day and first dance nerves.

Amongst so many other physical and emotional health and wellbeing benefits that come with fitness and first dance… and help you leave any anxieties behind with the Lockdown!!

Teaching A First Dance Lesson In the Wedding venue

Relaxed Luxury Summer Wedding – Featured on Rock My Wedding

FEATURED on @rockmywedding blog 💃

I’m so pleased to have been involved teaching some First Wedding Dance and Hen Dance Party style movement to the gorgeous models (who were really fab!) – you may spot my little star as Flower Girl got featured – she loved it as much as I did. 🤩 I showcased all the feels of having a final first dance rehearsal or hen party in a glorious wedding venue (read here about why this is important for me), to really enhance the gorgeous experience of learning to dance together.

Take me back to this glorious hot summer day please. If anything is going to get us excited about Summer weddings, it’s this STUNNER of a relaxed luxury wedding styled shoot in the countryside organised to a ‘T’ by Mrs T Weddings alongside an incredible team. The photos by Hester Barnes Wedding Photography are outstanding ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Almost as though it would have come out of Chanel advert”. Rock My Wedding – read the full edit here.

See who was involved in the incredible team below the images and video.

Creative Direction & Planner – @Mrs_T_Weddings
Photography/videography- @hesterbarnesphotographyandfilm
Bridal Wear – @victoria_sanders_studio
Bridal accessories- @rachelsokhalbridal
Grooms wear – @mendosuitsparis
Venue – @thecherrybarn
Florals –
Cake – @cobi_and_coco_cakes
Rentals &decor – @locatetocreate
Makeup Consultation – @__cesca__
Hair –
Favours – @bombonierebymaria
Stationary – @polkadotcreationswedding
Table wear – @atouchofvintageuk
Catering – @annie_at_blackbirdcatering
Dance – @ftloveofdance
Assistant Planner @m.fioreevents
Champagne – @hoffmannandrathbone
Bridal models –
Mrs T’s team/model – @alice__clapp
Male model – roddyclarkedesign