Pregnancy & Exercise: Baby let’s strength-train together!

Below is an article I wrote for Deposit A Gift, you can read it right here on my Foss Fitness Blog or click HERE to read it from Deposit A Gift’s website!

In last week’s blog, Laura discussed the importance of cardio training when you’re pregnant (Check it out here if you missed it).  Now, Laura is going to focus on strength training for the mom-to-be.  Here are her top tips on how to safely strength train while pregnant:

1.    Simple Precautions.  If weight training is already part of your exercise routine, there’s no reason to stop if your program:

  • Emphasize low-weight
  • Focuses on maintaining proper form
  • Focuses on maintaining good posture

Free weights, weight machines, resistance bands are all great methods of weight training during pregnancy.  Perform 10-15 reps for 2-3 sets for each muscle group or exercise, taking a 30-second or more rest in between each exercise.

Focus on exercises such as bicep curls, side arm raises, and standard military presses for your shoulders and arm strength, 2-3 times per week.

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2.    Modify your fitness routine from trimester to trimester.  During pregnancy you may find that your balance and coordination are more challenged while doing exercises standing up, as your center of gravity actually shifts during pregnancy due to the extra weight in the front of your body.  If you feel unstable while working out:

  • Decrease the amount of weight you are lifting
  • Sit rather than stand while lifting weights
  • Limit your range of motion and intensity

3.    Avoid lying on your back.  Once you reach the second trimester, ACOG recommends avoiding exercises in the supine position (lying flat on your back) as in this position the growing uterus and fetus can compress the blood vessels running to and from your heart.  An easy fix is to switch from using a flat bench to an incline bench.

4.    Listen to your body.  As important as it is to exercise for both mother and baby, terminate exercise immediately and contact your physician if you experience unusual symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, or any type of pain.

Pre-natal Exercise:

Try this excellent pre-natal exercise at home in front of the TV, or at your local gym. After starting with a 5-10-minute warm-up, perform 10-15 reps for 2-3 sets.

Backside Burner

  1.  Start in quadruped (on all fours) with one dumbbell in right hand
  2.  Extend left leg back and squeeze glute as you reach right arm out to side in line with your shoulder, palm down
  3. Return to start.  Perform 10-15 reps
  4. Repeat on other side

Tips for Second- & Third-Trimester:  Do the arm reach without the dumbbell.  Do the side arm raise and the leg movement separately, or simply just do the leg squeeze (as shown in picture)

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Healthy Mom = Healthy Baby!

While it may be tempting to veg out for the next 9-months, sitting around won’t give you the same benefits as staying active can.  With exercise helping reduce recovery time after labor and delivery, and even helping reduce pregnancy discomforts such as backaches and fatigue, pregnancy can be a great time to get active – just remember, listen to your body and give yourself permission to rest when needed.

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Pregnancy & Exercise: Baby, let’s do cardio together!

Below is an article I wrote for Deposit A Gift, you can read it right here on my Foss Fitness Blog or click HERE to read it from Deposit A Gift’s website!

It’s widely accepted that working out during pregnancy is beneficial for most healthy women.  Countless moms-to-be are running, swimming or lifting weights, as not only can exercise help you stay in shape during pregnancy but it also brings added benefits such as:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Keeping weight gain within normal healthy ranges
  • Decreases risk of gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Reduces recovery time after labor and delivery
  • Improving fitness after giving birth

Baby Steps

As long as there no contraindications to exercise during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week.

If it’s been a while since you’ve stepped foot into a gym, start out with as little as 5-minutes of exercise a day.  Each week add on an additional 5-minutes of exercise until you have built up to 30 minutes of physical activity a day.  If you’re a fitness fanatic it’s important to remember that this is a time to maintain your pre-pregnancy fitness levels, not sign up for your first marathon.  Before you start a pre-natal exercise program it’s important to consult your physician to make sure the activities you participate in a re safe during pregnancy.

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Best Cardio Exercises

There are many great exercises, even for beginners that can be performed safely during pregnancy:

  • Walking is a safe exercise to perform throughout the entire pregnancy.  It will help you stay aerobically strong without putting excess stress on your knees and ankles.
  • Swimming provides moderate aerobic conditioning while exercising both the upper and lower body – To avoid overheating stay away from very warm pools.
  • Cardiovascular Machines like treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes are great because they provide a good aerobic workout and keep your heart and lungs strong.

Be sure to warm-up and cool down after each workout and remember to maintain exercise at a moderate level, meaning you should always be able to carry out a conversation while exercising, never push yourself to the point of exhaustion.

Avoid outdoor activities when it’s hot and humid, and always drink lots of fluids-before, during and after exercising to make sure you stay hydrated.

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Just remember, as long as you are feeling well – some exercise is always better than none.  Even a 10-minute walk can help you stay in shape and prepare you for labor.

5 Tips for the Busy Bride-to-Be’s Workout

Below is an article I wrote for Deposit A Gift, you can read it right here on my Foss Fitness Blog or click HERE to read it from Deposit A Gift’s website!

We know, we know – the bride-to-be has got a million things to do!  How in the world are you supposed to fit in a workout too?  Well, all you need is the right plan and the right inspiration!  And we’ve got just that from Laura Foss, a personal trainer in NYC.  Follow her tips to stay on track and you’ll look flawless on your big day!

  1. Only 15 minutes to workout:  STRETCH!  We all know we should, but it often takes a back seat to our strength and cardio workouts.  One of the greatest benefits of stretching is an increase in your range of motion.  It’s also a great way to reduce stress – which every bride-to-be needs to do after organizing the seating arrangements, right?  Stretch all major muscle groups/joints 1-3 times and hold stretches for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  2. Only 20 minutes to workout:  STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE!  Not only can it aid in better posture and tone the stomach, building your core strength will also mean that you look confident and amazing in your wedding day pictures.  My favorite core exercises are the Plank, Side Plank, Back Extensions and Swiss Ball Roll Outs.
  3. Only 30 minutes to workout:  HIT THE TREADMILL FOR SOME INTERVALS! Whether you want to burn off last night’s cosmopolitans or sculpt the perfect lean body for your honeymoon, interval workouts give you the most band for your buck when it comes to cardio.  Intervals involve alternating bursts of high-intensity exercise with periods of low-intensity recovery.  A typical interval workout would start with a 5-minute warm-up at approx 3.5mph.  Then sprint for two minutes (approx 6-6.5mph) followed by two minutes at a recovery pace (3.5mph).  Repeat this cycle 5 times.  Finish with a 5-minute cool-down.

    Photo credit: Rob Gree

  4. 45 minutes to workout:  GRAB A TRX SUSPENSION TRAINER!  The TRX is a versatile pice of equipment that you can set up almost anywhere:  at home, in a hotel room, or even take it to the park.  The TRX requires balance and core strength for every exercise.  Keeping your workouts convenient is key to hitting your fitness goals before you walk down the aisle.
  5. 60 minutes to workout:  TRY THIS METABOLIC WORKOUT!  Not only is it one of the most efficient ways to burn fat, but it will keep your muscles looking slim and toned so you fit into your wedding dress flawlessly.  In short, a metabolic workout is intense cardio mixed with resistance training that increases your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after the workout.  Want to give it a try?  After starting with a 5-minute warm-up you will perform 15 reps of each of the exercises listed below, resting 30 seconds between exercises.  One you have completed the 8 exercises, rest for 2 minutes and then repeat the entire workout three more times.

Metabolic Workout:

  • Squats
  • Assisted Chin Ups
  • Stationary Lunges
  • Mountain Climber – 30 seconds
  • Single Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Push-Ups
  • Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds
  • Swiss Ball Roll Outs

Mini Thai Chicken Muffins….

Planning a wedding is tricky, stressful, and a second job you seem to have signed yourself up for without even realizing.  However, when you find that perfect wedding dress you seem to forget about all those spreadsheets you need to fill out and the fact that your soon-to-be husband thinks he has all the time in the world to rent a tux for the wedding!

I was lucky to have my Mum fly all the way from Australia to NYC for some fun mother/daughter time and to help with my search for THE wedding dress.  I’m not going to lie, trying on dresses for me was scary, awkward,  and on more than one occasion I would find myself breaking out into a sweat and feeling nauseous – leaving my Mum no other choice but to ask me: ‘Are you sure you want to get married?’

Of course I wanted to get married, but I never was much of a girly girl and this whole process of finding a wedding dress was pretty overwhelming… but not as overwhelming as when the store rang me up to tell me my dress was in and I could come in try it on over the weekend…. EEK

And so came about my yummy Mini Thai Chicken Muffin Recipe.  For the past few months I’ve been hitting the gym hard and focusing on gaining some nice muscle definition in my arms and back so I look amazing in my dress.  Then it dawned on me, how am I going to actually put on some muscle if  I continue eating rice cakes with some melted cheese on top for dinner???  In my defense I get home at 10PM and have already eaten my largest meal of the day for lunch, but still… rice cakes, who was I kidding!

My 10PM dinner was lacking one essential component… protein..  These mini chicken muffins are GREAT, they can be re-heated and eaten as a snack during the day, throw them in a salad, or eat 4-5 at a time with some veggies to make them a complete meal .  My latest 10PM dinner craze is having them as a side dish with tomato soup!

Mini Thai Chicken Muffins

Makes:  24 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs chicken mince
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves + stalks
  • 1/3 – 2/3 cups light coconut milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 390°F
  2. Combine mince, oyster sauce, garlic, sweet chili sauce, cilantro and coconut milk in a large bowl.
  3. Place rounded tablespoons of mixture into a non-stick mini muffin pan
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cooked

NOTE:  I feel like my arms are looking more toned every time I eat these :)

Metabolic Workout to sculpt a lean, fit body for your ‘BIG DAY’

With less than 5 months to go before my BIG DAY it’s time to turn up the heat with my workouts to ensure I look damn hot in those wedding pictures!

So how do I plan to do this you ask, with a metabolic workout of course :)  In short, a metabolic workout is intense cardio mixed with resistance training that increases your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after the workout.  The best things of all is it keeps your muscles looking slim and toned so you fit into your wedding dress flawlessly!  Want to give it a try?  Follow along using the same metabolic workout routine as me below.

First things first:  It’s time to re-evaluate your goals, write down your weight and record circumference measurements of your chest, waist, hips and thighs again.  Not sure how to do this.  READ THIS FIRST!

Ok, so now you know where you are at with your goals, weight and body measurements it’s now time to get into the nitty-gritty.  After starting with a 5-minute warm-up perform the following Metabolic Workout three times per week on non-consecutive days..

Week 1:  Sets =2, Reps = 20, Rest = 30 secs b/w each exercise & 120 secs after each set

Week 2:  Sets =2, Reps = 20, Rest = 30 secs b/w each exercise & 120 secs after each set

Week 3:  Sets =3, Reps = 15, Rest = 20 secs b/w each exercise & 120 secs after each set

Week 4:  Sets =3, Reps = 12, Rest = 15 secs b/w each exercise & 120 secs after each set

Metabolic Workout
Exercise 1.  Squat  Begin with feel shoulder-width apart, and pointing straight ahead.  Slowly begin lowering your body while pushing your hips back behind you and bending your knees.  Stop when you get to 90 degrees.  Keep your chest up and weight in your heels.  Pause at the bottom for 2 seconds, then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position by contracting your glutes and placing pressure through the heels.

Exercise 2.  Assisted Chin Up Machines  Grasp the handles so that your foams are facing each other, stand or kneel (depending on the type of machine you are using) onto the weighted platform.  Lower yourself slowly until your arms are fully extended.  Breath out as you pull yourself back up to the starting position.  Pause at the top for 2 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to fully extended arms.  Repeat.  NOTE:  The lower the weight on the assisted chin up machine, the tougher the exercise is going to be.  Go with a weight lover than your body weight in order to benefit from this exercise.

Exercise 3.  Stationary Lunges  Stand with your left foot in front of your right. Lower your body as far as you can.  Pause at the bottom for 1 second, then push yourself back up to the starting position. Once you have completed the prescribed number of reps with your left leg forward, then do the same number of reps on your opposite leg.

Exercise 4.  Mountain Climbers  Begin with your hands and feet on the floor in the Push-Up position.  Bring your right thigh forward to your chest, now jump both feet off the floor as you bring your left leg forward to your chest.  Continue to jump and switch feet for 30 seconds.

Exercise 5.  Dumbbell Bent over Row  Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.  With your arms at your sides, palms facing your body, bend over from the hips until your back is almost parallel to the ground.  Allow your arms to hang straight down under your shoulders.  Pull the dumbbells up towards your armpits, squeezing your shoulder blades together.  Pause, then lower dumbbells back down.  That’s one rep.  Complete all reps without standing up.

Exercise 6.  Bench Press on Stability Ball  Sit on a stability-ball with dumbbells resting on thighs.  To lie on the stability-ball, slowly walk your feet out, rolling your hips down and lying back on the ball while bringing your dumbbells to your armpits.  Stop with your shoulder blades are on the ball.  Lower your head to the ball and contract your glutes while you raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders.  Extend the dumbbells directly over your head with arms straight and palms facing away from your face.  This is your starting position.  Slowly bring dumbbells towards the body by bending elbows, hold for 1 count, then extend arms back to starting position while contracting chest.

Exercise 7.  Jumping Jacks  Begin with feet together and arms by your sides.  This is your starting position.  In one movement, jump your feet until they are hip width apart or more as you raise your arms over your head.  Jump up again and in one movement, bring your legs and arms back to their original position.  Repeat for 30 seconds.

Exercise 8.  Swiss Ball Stir the Pot  Begin in the plank position on the swiss ball, with feet hip width apart and forearms on the ball so that your elbows are under your shoulders.  Your body should form a straight line from head to toe, make sure your not dropping your hips or raising your butt.  Now start to do a stirring movement with the arms in one direction for the desired amount of reps.  Then repeat in the other direction.

Complement this metabolic workout with two 30 minute cardio workouts per week on non-consecutive days.

ONE DOWN.. HOW MANY MORE TO GO?

So you survived Halloween by giving your candy to your Niece and Nephew, but now Thanksgiving is looming right around the corner, what are you going to do now?

With my FIRST dress fitting coming up right after Thanksgiving I decided it was time to come up with some tips to avoid any Festive Season blowouts:

Use common sense.  There is no reason to become a social hermit during the Festive Season just to avoid a few calories.  When dining out don’t be shy to ask for what you want.  Request sauces and dressings ‘on the side’ and remember, you don’t have to finish everything that is on your plate.

Use moderation.  We all know how much fun it is to enjoy a glass of wine or two with friends, but don’t go overboard.  My secret weapon this season is wine spritzers (simply, a beautiful bottle of wine mixed with seltzer  and served with a sliver of lemon or lime.  To make them a little more festive use a sprig of your favourite herb).  I was just at a Pre-Thanksgiving feast on the weekend and us girls were all enjoying a wine spritzer or two… ok three!  Even though they have seltzer in them don’t forget to drink plenty of water between alcoholic drinks, your head will thank you in the morning!

Exercise with a friend.  Yes, life tends to get a little crazier during the Festive Season, so why not work off some of that stress with a friend.  Instead of meeting for coffee, kill two birds with one stone and meet at the gym for a workout and gossip session.

Variety is the spice of life.  Why not pick a cuisine you wanting to try for ages, then bust out the recipe books and play chef for a night.  This will allow you to enjoy the feeling of breaking your regular routine – if your stuck for a new recipe just let me know and I will be happy to share with you my favourite Indian dish called ‘No-Butter Chicken’ from Bal Arneson ‘Everyday Indian’.

There are 21 meals in a week.  So if you eat too much turkey on Thanksgiving, or too many lollies on Christmas Day it’s no reason to throw in the towel.

 

Trick OR Treat… for the Bride-to-Be

And so the holiday season begins, and so does the abundance of candy.  It is everywhere and impossible to avoid completely I know, but grabbing a handful of Candy Corn from your co-workers desk, or buying a Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin at the checkout when all you really needed was some more Shampoo can really sneak on those pesky pounds.  Follow these few tips from a fellow bride-to-be to make sure the trick is not on you this Halloween…

Beware of  ‘fun size’ and ‘snack size’ candy bars.  Because of it’s smaller size we tend to eat twice as many and not worry as much about the calories we are consuming, this can add up to hundreds of calories before you know it.  The best way to ovoid over eating these smaller candies is to decide ahead of time how many you are going to allow yourself to eat and stick to that number – This will allow you to enjoy the Halloween festivities, yet still keep you on track to looking absolutely flawless on your wedding day!

Hershey’s Miniatures – Serving Size:  5 pieces; Calories 210; Total Fat 13g Brach’s Candy Corn – Serving Size:  22 pieces; Calories 140; Total Fat 0g Reece’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin – Serving Size:  1 package; Calories 180; Total Fat 11g

Eat a balanced meal before going to your Halloween party.  This is a great way to curb the sugar / dessert cravings.  Try to fill up on lean protein, veggies, and fiber before your first piece of candy.

Organize a Post-Halloween Workout with your friends.  We all know how boring the bike, treadmills, even the dreaded stairmaster can be when you are working out alone – even if you do have a TV in front of you and your favorite tunes blaring in your ears.  So get to it and organize a Post-Halloween workout with your friends.  Whether it’s a spinning class, a run in central park, indoor rock climbing, or a dance class, just make sure it involves a minimum of 45 minutes of activity and keeps your heart rate up enough for you and your buddies to be sweating it out together!