Recently I have rediscovered my fitness motivation! Yay
After a 7 month hiatus from any form of sweating/gym/physical activity, I thought it was time to start feeling better mentally and with a little luck, physical changes will follow.
I used to be the kind of person that if I didn’t see results on the scales after 3 weeks at the gym, I would become unmotivated and wonder why I even bothered.
All this changed when I had kids and I told myself that going to the gym was ‘my time for myself’ and if I happen to have any aesthetic benefits then it was just a BONUS! This is when I truly started loving exercise. After 4 weeks of HIIT training and weight training, plus seeing a Personal Trainer once a week to give me that extra push, I felt so much better and I even started noticing little baby muscles in my once flabby arms.
Starting back at the gym this time has been a little slower and I absolutely put it down to poor diet which means I have less energy but I am managing to get to SASSIFIT anywhere between 2-4 times a week and I have never been so comfortable walking into a fitness studio. Caroline is so welcoming, non judgemental and she knows her stuff. Being a mum herself, she just ‘gets it’. Her studio is intimate and class sizes are kept to a minimum. She heavily focuses on core strength and pelvic floor.
Here we pick her brain about some questions we’d love answered:
Q. As a mum, how can we make exercise a priority and how many sessions/minutes a week are really required to get both physical and mental changes?
A. I think as a mum you need to recognise that you are the most important person in the world for your child/ren. Because you are so important you should be looking after yourself. The best way to look after yourself and the one thing we can do that has been proven for quality of life, health and longevity is exercise. The Australian guidelines say that you should be performing at least 150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. This works out to be five 30 minute blocks of exercise a week. I find that my clients start to notice changes within 2 weeks of starting a new training regime. As soon as they make the decision to put themselves first, they start to feel better. Physical changes usually take a little bit longer but consistency is always the key here.
Q. How can I lose that little pouch of fat just below my navel? The ‘Mum Tum’?
Firstly, I just want to say that my philosophy is very much based around body positivity. I believe it is far more important and healthy to recognise the amazing thing your body has done which is to create life than it is to worry about a small amount of fat on your body. bearing in mind that a large number of women tend to hold weight on this area and it is very natural for us to do so.
Secondly, regardless of what anybody tells you, or tries to sell to you, it is impossible to ‘spot train’. This means you cannot do anything that will only shed fat from one specific part of your body. Sit ups and crunches will only strengthen the area (which is important), not shed the fat. To lose weight, you must lose weight all over your body. Generally this involves a calories in, calories out system of diet and exercise. This also doesn’t mean that you will lose your ‘mum tum’. If it is excess skin then surgery is the only way you will be able to remove it.
Finally, your ‘mum tum’ may also be caused by diastasis rectus (abdominal separation) if you have abdominal separation then you need to be very careful about the types of core exercises you do because you could actually make the condition worse. If this is the case you need a professional who can help to guide you through safe core and pelvic floor exercises which may help to repair the separation.
Q. Is cardio really necessary or will weight training give me quicker/ better results and fitness level?
A. Both are important and both should form part of a balanced exercise regime. Cardio is important for your heart and lungs and weight training is important for strength and muscle. There are different forms of cardio and you certainly don’t need to do endurance training to achieve a healthy cardiovascular system. There are more effective forms of cardio such as HIIT (high intensity interval training) which takes less time and can also be less stressful on the body than long distance running for example.
Q. If I only had time for 2 sessions per week, what would you recommend I do with that time to make it effective?
A. Depending on the length of those two sessions.. I would recommend that you include a combination of strength/weight training and cardio. For example, in a 1 hour session I would do a 40 minute strength session and finish with a 15 minute HIIT session and then 5 minutes of stretching - the often overlooked part of a workout!
For a busy mum who only has time for a 20-30 minute workout (or less!) I would incorporate body weight strength exercises such as squats, lunges, push ups, with high intensity tabata style training.
Q. When I start exercise I seem to be hungrier than ever. How can I stop myself from replacing every calorie I’ve just burned?
A. If you are hungry, that is your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat! Exercise uses up a lot of energy and contrary to popular (diet culture) belief you do actually need to replace this energy. Instead of trying to stop yourself from eating, try to be mindful of what you are eating. Protein and fats can help to fill you up after a workout. Carbs are important for energy and so is sugar. All of these things can be found in fruits and vegetables and obviously meat, eggs, dairy etc. Think of your plate in 3 sections. 1⁄4 protein, 1⁄4 carbs and 1⁄2 salad/vegetables.
Q. How can I get rid of cellulite? I know thin girls have it too but will losing fat help to reduce it?
A. The short answer... No. Cellulite is not actually fat itself but the structure of the fat and the way it lies underneath your skin. At least 90% of women have cellulite making it extremely common and very, very normal. Women tend to have cellulite more so than men because of the way we are made which makes it even more ridiculous for us to be constantly striving to get rid of it. Even strong, fit muscular women have some form of cellulite it may just be more difficult to see. Weight training and exercises such as squats and lunges will make our legs and butts more muscular and therefore appear more ‘toned’ which in turn can make cellulite less obvious.
Q. The benefits of exercise have been proven to be just as effective as antidepressants to treat mental health issues, how many minutes do I need to train to release those ‘feel good’ endorphins?
A. Any form of exercise will release endorphins. Generally the more that you feel that you have ‘pushed’ yourself the better you will feel afterwards. 20 to 30 minutes should be enough to get your endorphins going but a hard 15 minute Tabata workout will be just as beneficial. Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression but like anything, should be used in conjunction with whatever other treatment your doctor feels appropriate.
Q. Are protein shakes necessary for women after weights/pump class and why?
A. Protein shakes are not necessary but are still a great source of protein and can be more convenient. Eggs and salad can be just as good. If you are hungry after your workout, then you should eat.
Q. Choose 1 and why! Heavy weights or running your heart out on a treadmill?
A. Whichever one you enjoy more!
Q. Low fat or low sugar?
A. Both and neither.. I don’t believe in restricting anything or cutting out any food groups. All food groups have a place in a healthy and varied diet. Fats that come from whole foods such as avocado can keep us full and sugars that are found in fruits and vegetables give us energy as well a whole range of other benefits. Enjoy them both in moderation.
Q. Spin class or pump class?
A. Personally I prefer spin but that’s just me. If your exercise regime is balanced, and you are including strength training as well as cardio then you can choose whichever class suits you.
Q. 3 balanced meals or 6 small meals?
A. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. This could mean that one day you eat 6 meals and the next you eat 2. This is known as intuitive eating. It is not as easy as it sounds because we have a lot of messages coming at us all the time. Nobody is immune to diet culture and so we need to work hard to remember that our body knows what it needs to eat and when. The people who are the best at this are our kids! And we constantly tell them to ‘eat more’, ‘eat this and that’. It is no wonder we are not in tune with our bodies anymore.
Q. Coffee or green tea? Please say the former 🤣🤞
A. I think my answers on all of the above will answer this one :) The only time to question this is when you start to find that you are relying on coffee to get through the day. Then you know that it is no longer in moderation.
This information has been supplied from Caroline from Sassi Fit and it is merely based on her opinions. The information is not intended to be relied on, and is not medical advice, please seek the professional opinion of your doctor.