'PNC' AKA Postnatal Confusion.

We are lucky as mothers and fathers today to have so much information at our fingertips...

Or are we?! It's a bit overwhelming isn't it? Especially as online articles, books or blogs will follow up with '...so that's my thoughts but seriously just trust your OWN instinct' Umm, yeah my instinct, ok cool I'll just do that then.

Hold on, what is my instinct?! Now I'm so confused by all the information I've been given that I'm wondering whether what I'm thinking is actually my instinct or just me being persuaded because of facts and figures or people that I respect and admire doing it a certain way, and me subconsciously thinking that MUST be the best way.

I'm sure I'm not alone, but I don't really have the answer, apart from locking yourself away in a dark room with your newly formed being and never looking at the TV, internet or actually any other human ever again. Ok byyyeeee....

Now that might be a bit extreme. In the era of marketing the shit out of everything, we have SO. MANY. CHOICES. And they all have names...Baby led vs Spoon fed : In the 80s this was called feeding your kid. And if they didn't use cutlery, they had finger food. Co-Sleeping vs Crib Sleeping : back in the day this was called getting your kid to sleep, whatever way that worked, on whatever night. Gina Ford or on demand...now seriously how does one make a tiny baby follow a routine before 8 weeks of more?? I am still fucking confused by that. But, fair play if it works for you and your little one.

So how do we cut through it all and find our instinct? Err, I actually don't have an answer..sorry, anti climax central. However, I will say this, what makes you as a parent happy?  If you're fine with no routine but feel pressured to conform to Lady Gina by the other NCT parents, that is where you follow the happiness, not the crowd.  If aint broke... But if you're feeling overwhelmed, the baby isn't content, you want some time to yourself and you're on the verge of throttling your partner, then consider making some changes, and ask for help.

I realise this isn't ground breaking stuff, but it's just a reminder not to get swept along with the crowd or the trends, and to simply identity what makes you tick as the best as the best parent and partner you can be. Because babies bring that shit out in us, and it's sometimes different to what we were expecting to be.

G x

This is a photo of our first born in a pot being weighed because we just could't be arsed to keep going down to the doctors. Good mum? Bad mum? Ingenious mum? Who knows!

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Vegan Pasta Pesto

Who doesn't like a big bowl of comforting pesto pasta?? The kids also go nuts for it, so here's a little vegan version. Instead of parmesan I've added nutritional yeast fortified with B12, which we need to keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy, and also prevent a type of anaemia that can make you feel tired and weak. Sometimes people on a vegan diet become deficient, which is why having it fortified into stuff like nutritional yeast is useful. You can also sprinkle into scrambled tofu or eggs, on salads, popcorn, or in white sauces. Quite cool stuff actually. 

The below recipe should be added to any whizzy contraption, and please do add more oil,  or water to loosen it up to your liking. Same for the ratio of pine nuts to basil/ lemon etc.

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For getting more veggies into the kids, blanch some frozen peas (maybe a couple of tbsp) and add them in, or half an avocado perhaps. Be aware garlic can also be quite spicy for them, so have a play about with the amount yourself, I've been quite conservative here.

  1. 50g basil
  2. 25g pine nuts
  3. 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  4. Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
  5. Tsp salt
  6. 1 medium garlic clove
  7. Roughly 60g olive oil (mix extra virgin and mild)
  8. Additions: Add half avo or some peas

Leftovers

So many delicious dishes to choose from with pesto, but my favourites are below, and I've made them all vegan.

  • Dairy free cheese and pesto toastie
  • Wholemeal wrap with humous, pesto, grated carrots, sprouts, salad, vegan cream cheese and any other greens from the fridge!
  • Vegan veggie lasagne. Roast a load of veg including peppers and onions, tomatoes and garlic, add to chopped tomatoes in a pan, and layer on the pesto with your vegan cheese sauce (made from Oatley milk, dairy free Flora, flour and vegan cream cheese)
  • Crostini with pesto and tomatoes

Enjoy Pesto fiends! 

Gx

Cut the C*R$

It's 1996...your Pilates teacher is telling you to activate your 'core' whilst you're going up and down about 50 million stairs with your pelvic floor. You don't really know what your doing but you're sucking in your tummy and trying to hold in a wee, so it must be doing something.

We've all been there. 

Guess what, we're not in the 90s anymore Dorothy, and I call for the retirement of the word 'core'.

I'm in good company, many Pilates teachers have never really used the term, as Joe Pilates would refer to the 'Powerhouse' or 'Centre'. But I totally get that it's in our vocal now as a way to describe some kind of weakness we might feel, mostly in the abdominals, Countless times people have said to me 'I have no core', 'my core strength doesn't exist', 'I want to strengthen my core'. It happens a lot after babies, women have this different body that doesn't do what it used to, and we almost grieve that time when we could effortlessly pop ourselves up into a crunch without feeling a shakiness in our abs, a heaviness in the pelvic floor, or lower back pain. And suddenly you need to start taking your time to build everything up again, and there's no quick fix. But, it's the body's way of saying slow the hell down please, I've carried this child for near 10 months, gone through labour, given life....and now you're complaining I'm not strong enough?! Never doubt that glorious body of yours! It just needs to heal, rebuild, and if done the right way you'll come out stronger.

So... I digress a little. The core. What is it exactly? 

Have a think.

Mmmm, abs?

Yeah we'll all thinking of different things really. For me, I used to think about an apple core, so when referred to in relation to the body, it would make me think of the abs down the centre of my stomach, to put it crudely. 

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In Pilates we refer to the Powerhouse, which consists of...

1. Your abdominals from the bottom of the ribs to the very bottom of the pelvis, and don't just think six pack muscles, we're talking obliques and pelvic floor too, helping to cinch in and up.

2. The back of the hips and buttocks....It's easy to forget the back line at this point - because your muscles aren't just stuck on the front of your stomach are they? So consider the sit bones pulling together, the back of the hips working to stabilise.

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So this is your column of strength from which to move from, not only strengthening this area and aligning the body but enabling you to perform moves in the safest possible way for your back. As instructors we bang on about the activation of the powerhouse so much, that Pilates has become the exercise for rehabilitation, the limbs being able to move freely whilst protecting the spine.

When you begin to see the bigger picture, it becomes easier to perform any exercise more efficiently, but you also start to realise that there's not one special way to strengthen this (pretty huge) area of muscles, it needs to be a range of exercises that can address difference muscles in different ways. Think about sculpting your way around the trunk of the body, internally and externally, and applying the powerhouse activation to ALL exercise. 

We can also take it to a functional level. How you walk, get up from a chair, pick up your child, because at the end of the day these everyday habits are the things that do the long term damage.

I've recorded a short audio on how to activate the powerhouse lying on your back, I hope it all makes sense!

Now get to a Pilates class and put it all into action.

xx

Birth of a baby, Rebirth of your body.

In my last post I talked about the postural changes we go through from pregnancy into motherhood and the contortions we subject ourselves to as we basically try to keep these kids alive during that tough first year.

Now my youngest is nearly 1 year, I’ve started to feel the affects of having that heavier child who crawls (like an absolute maniac), but can’t walk, meaning there is a lot of squatting, bending over, and generally a heap of strength needed to pick up this little lump and sit him on my hip (normally the same one) for sometimes long periods of time…simultaneously making dinner, wiping a toddlers bottom or opening a screw top bottle of wine with one hand (corks are soooo last lifetime). 

I’ve never felt so tight in my back, and I’ve also never been so body aware as I am now.  As much as these aches and pains feel like negatives, you can actually begin to view them as positives – our body and mind is awake and we’re taking notice.

In my twenties I had one aim. Be slim. I also wanted to be tanned, but mainly slim. In order to achieve my (constant) goal I would go to the gym before or after work, and sometimes double up at lunchtime with a spin class. In my mind Yoga and Pilates was enjoyable but not as affective to maintain weight as a run or weights. So an hour in one of these classes would mean one hour I could have been doing other more sweat inducing workouts, meaning there was a guilt free carb filled dinner in the can.  This train of thought went on for a good few years, then….I had a kid and everything changed.

When I say everything, I mean body, mind and perspective….life changed, in a monumental way. I’m comfortable saying that not all these changes felt good, I missed my old life, my gym time, my freedom and independence, but suddenly being slim wasn’t my priority, not even I was my priority, and that was quite enlightening. Scary, but enlightening. 

I fought it of course, trying for a few years to reclaim my old life, but never succeeding because things had changed, not for a month or a year, but forever and there was no going back, in other words….fuck! 

So with this new human to look after who didn’t seem keen on sleep, there was no way I had the energy to work out like I used to. I did however want to escape the house for an hour, and I did want to exercise, so I started with Ivengar Yoga. Awkwardly and self-consciously chanting for the first few weeks then beginning to crave the escapism it brought to the mind as well as the body. Priorities had certainly changed, my aim now was definitely escapism, relaxation and invigoration. I wanted to float back into the house and to the baby feeling happier, calmer and more able to take on whatever the day or night would bring. I wanted to be a better mother.

So as sleep improved a little and the baby grew, strength also became a basic need - not just the outward stuff like a six pack and a tight bum like I used to crave, but real internal strength that would last. Pilates gave me the physical strength, the mental escapism and the relaxation because of how the moves are designed. Stretches are incorporated into strength work, the mind is totally focused, and the heart rate stays low during mat work so you have the energy to really work every single muscle. Plus if you’ve had a bad night you don’t dread your class, you absolutely can’t wait for it.

So, in a nutshell, yes as we get older our body gives us more issues, but maybe they’re just a little nudge to start paying attention, forcing you into another, perhaps healthier place, somewhere that is more about how you feel, not just how your body looks.

 

Here's me, on a jetty in Australia, probably considering how we were going to get through a 24 hour journey home with a teething 8 month old and a threenager. The answer was, and always will be, wine, and screens.

Here's me, on a jetty in Australia, probably considering how we were going to get through a 24 hour journey home with a teething 8 month old and a threenager. The answer was, and always will be, wine, and screens.

Beauty Buff

The weather seems to have suddenly changed, and sometimes that means our skin is in shock...dry patches, spots, bumps, dullness...yuck. Plus, as someone with crappy circulation a good exfoliation often helps to get the blood pumping pre Pilates.  Try this easy homemade scrub to buff away the winter blues leaving you feeling silky smooth and moisturised post shower.   550g Fine Dead Sea Salt  30g Coconut oil (microwave to melt for 40-50 secs)  30mls Vitamin E   Mix  Options: Experiment with the amount of salt, I like mine quite runny and oily as I aim to look glowing (or slightly greasy?!) so add more if you prefer a dryer scrub. Also pop in any essential oils, lavender for a relaxing pre bed scrub, avocado oil for a collagen hit or fresh lemon juice for a zingy morning buff.  Once you've finished your coconut oil, use the jar to store your scrub, or package up nicely for a Christmas gift.

The weather seems to have suddenly changed, and sometimes that means our skin is in shock...dry patches, spots, bumps, dullness...yuck. Plus, as someone with crappy circulation a good exfoliation often helps to get the blood pumping pre Pilates.

Try this easy homemade scrub to buff away the winter blues leaving you feeling silky smooth and moisturised post shower. 

550g Fine Dead Sea Salt

30g Coconut oil (microwave to melt for 40-50 secs)

30mls Vitamin E 

Mix

Options: Experiment with the amount of salt, I like mine quite runny and oily as I aim to look glowing (or slightly greasy?!) so add more if you prefer a dryer scrub. Also pop in any essential oils, lavender for a relaxing pre bed scrub, avocado oil for a collagen hit or fresh lemon juice for a zingy morning buff.  Once you've finished your coconut oil, use the jar to store your scrub, or package up nicely for a Christmas gift.

Mood Boosting Cacao Smoothie

The afternoon slump can often tempt us with chocolate, cakes, a bag of crisps (or two?!) however none of these things will actually make you feel better for more than 5 minutes, in fact you'll feel worse from the sugar low soon afterwards. A better option would be this Cacao smoothie, make it the night before work and keep it in the fridge for something to look forward to.  Cacao was actually used by the Aztecs for it's mood boosting properties, some stories even incinuating that it made people feel drunk...whoop, gimme 3...hic! Grab your NutriBullet (when not drunk) and add:  3-4 dates  Approx 20 cashews or 1.5 tbsp of cashew butter  2 tsp Cacao powder (available from health food shops)  5 ice cubes  Additions could be frozen banana or blueberries, have an experiment.   Whizz and sprinkle with Chia seeds, Spirulina or anything you fancy just before drinking. The kids will also think this is a chocolate milkshake, so parent points to be had without the dairy and refined sugar. If it's good enough for the Aztecs...   

The afternoon slump can often tempt us with chocolate, cakes, a bag of crisps (or two?!) however none of these things will actually make you feel better for more than 5 minutes, in fact you'll feel worse from the sugar low soon afterwards. A better option would be this Cacao smoothie, make it the night before work and keep it in the fridge for something to look forward to.

Cacao was actually used by the Aztecs for it's mood boosting properties, some stories even incinuating that it made people feel drunk...whoop, gimme 3...hic! Grab your NutriBullet (when not drunk) and add:

3-4 dates

Approx 20 cashews or 1.5 tbsp of cashew butter

2 tsp Cacao powder (available from health food shops)

5 ice cubes

Additions could be frozen banana or blueberries, have an experiment. 

Whizz and sprinkle with Chia seeds, Spirulina or anything you fancy just before drinking. The kids will also think this is a chocolate milkshake, so parent points to be had without the dairy and refined sugar. If it's good enough for the Aztecs...

 

Healthy Halloween Wedges

A yummy meal or appetiser, this is a Yotem recipe fit for halloween. I have to admit I didn't have a pumpkin so I used butternut squash and it worked just as well dipped in some sour cream or greek yoghurt. A little tip on breadcrumbs, get some herby croutons and whizz them up, easy to store and very tasty. Hopefully a way for the kids to actually eat the pumpkin, not just calve him up! 

Full recipe here