Jelly belly

Hello world, on this amazing day in London town. Yay for summer! It may be that we only have one day of summer, so we’d best savour it eh?

I feel quite lucky it was lovely, as I had to go into town today to do a CPR course at Body Control Pilates in Holborn, so I took the opportunity to bank some vitamin D with the sunshine on my skin, and some well-needed exercise by cycling the 7 miles into central London. It was interesting being part of the cycling pack once more, I used to cycle everywhere every day, and not being part of the throng you forget the mentality somewhat. So as an outsider it was interesting to witness the competitiveness of London cyclists, the refusal to be overtaken, the determination to reach the lights first…a lady on a Paishley feistily and stubbornly taking on a cool racer was particularly amusing.

So…it’s been a while since I’ve been part of the cycling crew, and a long time since i cycled that distance…And wow, I realised what great exercise cycling is, a 7 mile ride used to be a piddly distance but it had me puffing, heart thumping satisfyingly. I’ve been hovering at about 3kg (half a stone) over my pre-pregnancy weight and I have been feeling a little bit blue about it. Some people ping back to their pre-pregnancy shape within weeks, but for me, there has been no pinging to speak of, and cycling today finally made the penny drop as to why. I used to cycle upwards of 15 miles, every day, as part of my daily commute to and from classes or to the publisher I used to work at in north west London. Some days I would traverse the whole of London pretty much, going from south east to west to east and back again, notching up around 30 miles in one day. Couple that with an active job of teaching Pilates, plus practising my own Pilates for a couple of hours a week, then you have a pretty decent amount of physical exercise going on. Because it was incorporated into my daily routine rather than being exercise per se, I hadn’t really made the connection that cycling was the reason I used to be a skinny minnie. Now…please note that neither of the words skinny or minnie would ever have been in my own vocabulary to describe myself, I’ve always been an athletic build…sometimes erring on the “big boned” end of the spectrum, but now I look back, I realise I should have been quite content with the way I looked and proud of my fitness. You live and learn, dontcha. Always try and appreciate yourself in the present rather than looking at photos of yourself from 2 years ago and wondering what the hell you were worrying about at the time…

So. My food intake remains the same, but I have lost about 500 calories worth of exercise a day. No wonder that last 3 kg is stubbornly sticking to my midriff, arms, and bum… Now that I have a little man to entertain, feed and soothe, the opportunities for cycling 30 miles in a day are few and far between. And i am not one for diets. Yes, a healthy diet and filling yourself with good, naturally colourful, delicious and nutritious food, along with the odd treat now and again, but not a diet where you deprive yourself. This would make me a miserable and not joyful Anya, which would be no fun for the people I share my days with. (I don’t agree with whoever it was who said nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Have you not tasted cheesecake woman…?!) Anyway, I digress. So, although I no longer have the pregnancy penchant for Magnums, I am not sure how else I can adjust my eating to help me shift the weight without becoming grouchy. So, I simply need to seamlessly incorporate more movement into my day.

My little man is nearly walking, and generally is a pretty fast mover on all fours. So chasing him around probably adds quite a lot to my movement quota. But clearly not enough. On my cycle home just now I was thinking, how else can I make my daily activities count in order to make myself feel slightly lighter and more nimble. Move about a little more, expend a little more energy every day, giving my metabolism a bit of a jumpstart and not have to reduce how much energy I take in… And I came up with this list, which I intend to do every day. Join me!

1. Plies in the shower. You’re standing in the shower and do it every/most days, it’s 5 minutes of your life and pretty dull really as an activity. So why not spice it up with a bit of Pilates to start the day. Stand tall, bring your legs into Pilates stance: squeeze your thighs and bring the heels together, toes apart, a gap the size of a small pizza slice in between your feet. Lift your bum and draw your tummy in. Lift up tall and float the heels off the ground to rise onto your toes, squeezing the heels together. Stay tall as you lower the heels down, and then bend the knees over the toes. Keep the back upright as you lower, crown of your head reaching up towards the ceiling. Repeat as many times as you like to as your conditioner works its wonder on your hair. Works the tummy, buttocks, inner thighs.

2. Brush your teeth standing on one leg. Great for your core strength and balance. As you brush your teeth, engage your tummy to hover one leg off the ground, lifting the knee to about hip height. Stand strong into the ground through the supporting foot. Make sure your shoulders stay level and the waist is long. Brush your teeth and stay still and stable, no wobbling. Engage your tummy more to keep you balanced. Alternate legs either halfway through, or change morning and evening (which involves remembering which one you did last…)

3. Do the dusting/hoovering/change the bedclothes/clean the bathroom…Ok, I’m not going to do this EVERY day, clearly. But I will now see it in a different light. This has a bonus by-product of a clean house…but rather than seeing it as chore bore annoying housework, see it as an opportunity to burn a few extra calories, it’s actually the equivalent of a short yoga session or swimming. Keep your tummy engaged throughout and make sure you’re putting some elbow grease into it.

4. Baby bicep curls…this is an added bonus for those of you who have babies in your lives, lift them up high and feel the arm muscles strengthening! Great for bingo wings, but also if you make sure you engage your abdominals as you do it, you’ll tone up there too.

Stand tall and connect to your centre: lift your pelvic floor and scoop your belly as if you’re tightening a corset around your waist, whenever you remember. Check your posture, soften the shoulders into the back and lengthen your spine. Just being a bit more aware of your posture and the way you carry yourself will make your shape leaner and more poised.

Right, I’m off to bath baby. Have a lovely evening!

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