Yes, yes, we know that when you are feeling as over-stuffed as the Christmas turkey, seeing a lithe and lovely gym bunny shaking some impossible moves may feel a long way from your reality. But you know what? There's no better time to start than now, and the more you work out the more energised you will feel. Before you start, personal trainer Deanne Barry suggests the following tips before you start your exercise routine.
1. Get motivated! A healthy lifestyle should be a commitment for life. What’s the point in putting in all that hard work if you are going to let it all go a few weeks later! This doesn’t mean you have to be strict on yourself every day for the rest of your life, but it means if you have a naughty day today, you still have the motivation to get back on track tomorrow.
2. Get plenty of sleep You will not be able to maintain any sort of fitness and diet plan if you are tired. Don’t push yourself if you are still feeding in the night, or are feeling exhausted during the day. Begin to work out how many hours of sleep your body requires to function well and when you feel up to it, gradually begin to introduce exercise.
3. Introduce regular exercise The body needs to move and even more so as we grow older. The great news is that there are so many different forms of exercise we can do! And mixing it up is the key. Try different forms of exercise until you discover what makes you happy. How many days a week should you exercise? Some form of exercise every day is ideal, even if you only have 10-15 minutes to spare! The workout doesn’t always have to be a long grueling, painful session. It can some days be a brisk walk around the park with a buggy, or a mini workout at home.
4. Eat sensibly This factor of leading a healthy lifestyle is definitely one of the hardest, and comes down to self control, which is not always easy. It can, however, be made a little easier if you prepare yourself. How? By filling your cupboards with the right food. A trip to your local market will get you outside, enjoying some fresh air and buying fresh produce. Choose some recipes and plan your meals; this way, you will only buy the foods you actually need. Get temptation out of the house. If you are like me and can’t leave a half eaten bar of chocolate in the fridge, get rid of it and don’t replace it! Be prepared with healthy snacks instead. Eat moderately, slowly and regularly.
The following exercises are perfect as the basis of a regular routine to tone and strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health. They will also combat the areas of the body women often struggle to get back in shape after childbirth. You can view the first Podcast workouts already on ITunes. For a demo by the lovely Deanne, watch her work out on YouTube.
PRESS-UPS (For chest/arm/back/stomach toning)
Why? The press-up is a classic exercise, but with good reason. It is an excellent all-round strengthener, helps combat wobbly upper arms, keeps chest muscles strong and improves core muscle strength in the stomach. You can dramatically improve the amount of press-ups you can do with a little practice. Aim for 10, but don’t worry if you can only do a couple to begin with. Press-ups can be done at any time as well, so drop the floor in the kitchen and press up whilst you wait for the kettle to boil. Do this every morning when you make a drink, and before you know it you will be doing over 70 a week!
How? Place hands on the floor a little wider then shoulder width apart. Come into a plank position with elbows extended and make sure the entire body is in a neutral position, with the tummy held in tight. (Option to keep knees on the floor or transfer weight up onto toes) Flexing at the elbows, lower the body, maintaining neutral spine, push back to starting position.
THE COBRA (for the back)
Why? This is a great exercise for new mums as it strengthens the back muscles and will help considerably when carrying your newborn.
How? Laying face down on the floor, arms beside your hips, activate the core by drawing in the navel towards the spine and squeeze the glutes. With tummy and butt activated, lift the chest off the floor, lift arms up and back towards the hips, rotating thumbs towards the ceiling. Pause for a moment, then return to starting position, at all times keeping the chin tucked into the chest. (Don't over emphasize the arching of the back to lift the chest, only lift to where is comfortable.) Repeat 2 sets of about 10 reps, 3 times a week for a lovely sculpted back!
SLIP (Strenghtens the Side Obliques)
Why? This is a move taken from boxing training, and requires more cardiovascular strength than the first two exercises. It will, however, increase your fitness, and targets the dreaded side obliques, the muscles often lost under ‘muffin tops!’
How? Start with legs in boxing stance with one foot in front of the other. Place your hands in guard position (elbows loosely bent, hands clenched into fist and held in-front of the face and body), then bend down towards one side by bending at the knees and waist. Contract the tummy by drawing the navel in towards the spine, then SLIP across from to side to side. Put on some music and try to SLIP your way through your favourite tune.
This will not only tone up your tummy, it will also increase your cardiovascular strength. BUT remember to breathe. Quick inhaling and exhaling the whole way through. TIP! Exhale on the contraction, you will feel a stronger burn!
COMBAT KNEES (to tone the bottom)
Why? Combat knees is a great way to achieve a sculptured, lifted bum and also burn plenty of calories at the same time.
How? Stand with your legs wide, abs pulled in and chest up. Drive the knee up in a straight line, push your hips forward and squeeze your behind. You are aiming to strike your opponent with the top of the knee, return the foot back to the ground then repeat on the other side. When your combat knee is striking, keep the heel close to the butt and you will feel the burn. Try to build up this exercise so you are able to work your way through a a whole minute of combat knees, have a quick recover and repeat. You will not only achieve a tighter, lifted bum, but also burn plenty of calories at the same time.
STRAIGHT LEG KICK (for hamstrings/back of legs)
Why? This is a great simple exercise that targets the backs of your legs and is also good for increasing suppleness.
How? Standing tall abs in, transfer your weight onto one leg, hands on hips (another option is to rest one hand against a wall until you feel confident to balance on your own). On your opposite side to your supporting leg, flex the toe and extend the leg back behind. Swing the leg forward, keeping the toe flexed, then back behind you again. Continue with another 20–30 leg swings and you will see the height of your leg improve each time! Repeat on the other side, recover and then perform another set on each side.