Project calm, carbs and cardio!

Wired. Since having children, that’s the word that best describes me.

I work till midnight most evenings so I’m free to be a full-time mum, the moment our toddler sleeps – I work. Apart from walking round and round the block with the buggy singing like a crazy lost lady every day to get our daughter to sleep, I don’t exercise.

I’m constantly delaying the lifestyle changes I know I need to make – assuming the pressure will ease off “soon”, “once our toddler starts nursery” or “when I’m on top of work”. I remember taking a similar stand-off approach to financial worries as a student.

So, meeting personal trainer Nicola Sinclair was a bit of a turning point. I interviewed Nicola about her company Fit to Pop and Post Pop for work and now she’s giving my life a well-needed kick up the arse. But in a really nice way!

Our first meet-up includes a postnatal check, which includes an examination to check there’s no significant gap between the rectus abdominal muscles and a chat about the pelvic floor. These are important considerations post-baby and enable Nicola to tailor exercises specific to each client. All women have some degree of muscle separation by 35 weeks gestation and a recent study found that separation exists in 40% of women at six months postpartum.

As well as discussing what health issues having children has left me with, we talked about my lifestyle, the things I want to improve, my diet, my work-life balance, the time I could reasonably free-up for exercise and my (fairly non-existent) fitness levels. And we took measurements (of my thighs, chest and waist) so we can measure my progress.

Number one on the list is rest and sleep. My new mission is to switch off the laptop and phone at 10pm… when levels of the stress hormone cortisol naturally start to drop in preparation for sleep and I’m to take long dips in the bath with Epsom salts.

Number two is diet. Although I’m not hugely overweight (I can just about prod to residual muscle behind the blubber) I am a carb monster… breakfast for me was cereal, lunch was usually a sandwich and dinner some form of rice, pasta or potato with veg and meat… all washed down with lashings of diet coke and wine and topped off with a bar of Dairy Milk at around 9pm.

Breakfast, according to Nicola should be more protein-based (eggs with spinach or kale and tomatoes) to power you through the day, she advises bulking out lunch with vegetables instead of carbs and my nightly chocolate bar has to go. I’m now taking a range of supplements, including a probiotic to help get my gut healthy.

I’m definitely not on a diet. I don’t have the will-power for it, but by understanding how my food choices impact my energy levels throughout the day and learning about how the body reacts to sugars in carbs or to artificial sweeteners, I’m gradually being encouraged to make healthier choices.

Number three is exercise. When Nicola said she’d plan a workout in my home, I was pretty skeptical about how much exercise I’d actually get. I was wrong. We had our first session this week and three days later I’m still feeling the burn! I sweated through the entire thing.

She has concocted the most brilliant home-based circuit training that consists of lunges, squats, running up and down steps, triceps dips, boxing, press-ups, resistance work with stretchy bands and more. A full hour of 50 second-bursts of different exercises with just a 10 second break in between.

The beauty of this type of exercise, rather than just going for a long run, is that the body continues to burn fat long after you stop.

I’ve never had a personal trainer before, so I’ve nothing to compare it to. But in just one-week Nicola has instilled in me the need to take time out for me, our mission is to try to create more calm in my life and the choices I make around diet will help lay the foundations for that. And she’s kickstarted the exercise regime I’ve been putting off for the past 18 months, which in turn has got the endorphins going. Suddenly I’m more positive and focused.

Every muscle in my body aches today – but in a good way. Sitting down with someone and identifying the things in your life that need to change then having them support and inspire you while you take those early steps is motivating and enjoyable.

Watch this space – next time you see me perhaps I’ll be the picture of zen!

If you’d like to find out more about Nicola’s Fit to Pop or Post Pop fitness sessions contact her direct on 07701 068325 or email nicolasinclairpt@gmail.com

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