The Fit Bride’s Breakfast


From the day I got engaged to the day I walked down the aisle I was obsessed with all things bridal and wedding (I probably still am actually but I think that’s obvious). I loved finding any excuse to have a day out with my bridal party in the build up to the big day. Days like dress shopping, bridal shows, venue hunting, an impromptu trip down to Bride of Franc’s café and shop in Cork and even a ‘for the hell of it’ overnight trip to London. None of our trips were of the fit and healthy nature however and that got me thinking about organising a bridal experience with a difference for brides-to-be. When I ran my idea past some soon-to-be brides that I know (and as a 29 year old woman that is MANY) they loved it and so The Fit Bride’s Breakfast was born.


After a lot of planning and preparation to get my lovely venue up to bridal standard the day began to take shape. A clear out of my own bridal bits and pieces, a couple (ok four!) trips to IKEA and a stop off at Moss Cottage in Dundrum and I had what I needed to transform. I was amazed at the response to it. Originally I had planned on keeping the numbers very small but relented because I’m not very good at saying no. And so we had a lovely sized group together for our first event. The morning kicked off with tea and coffee and a light, healthy breakfast which included fruit from Keelings, yoghurt from Glenisk and the tastiest yoghurt toppers from Wyldsson (who personalised their tubes for me!)

Now I’m fairly well used to standing in front of big crowds when I’m teaching my classes but this time there were no burpees or loud music to hide behind. My lovely group were seated and all eyes were on me so you could say I was a little nervous. We discussed the common myths and misconceptions when it comes to healthy eating and fitness, including how often you should exercise and what are the best things to do as well as what are the best food choices. We looked at the different wedding dress shapes and styles that brides chose and the body parts that they are often conscious of when wearing these dresses. I was just starting to relax when my time was up and I handed over to the next speaker.


Aileen Coffey from Remarkable Beauty was next up to talk to the ladies. Aileen is a mobile beauty therapist and offers a wide range of services including skincare, nails, tan and much more. Her speciality is her pamper party which is popular with hen parties, bridal parties and all the other girly events you can think of. She talked to the group about the stages of beauty prep that a bride should consider leading up to her big day. She also showed the group her fabulous mobile tanning booth as well as some of her lovely products. Sometimes a bride can think she knows what she needs to be doing to prepare herself for the big day but an expert like Aileen will always have a few extra handy tips.



Next was Mary Kearns from Mary’s Hair Studio in Rathdowney. Mary is well known for her amazing wedding styles and as a bride-to-be herself (who is admittedly hair obsessed) she knows how important it is to feel confident with both the style you choose and how well it will hold up for the day. This bride can testify that her styles will hold up for the whole weekend if you want them to! Mary works from her really pretty studio but will also travel to a bride’s house or hotel if they wish. She also spoke about caring for your hair in the lead up to the big day as well as how to manage your veil or headpiece later in the night when she’s not around to help.


Our final speaker was makeup artist Ruth Bergin. A graduate of LA College of Creative Arts and currently working for Inglot, Ruth showed the group two very different bridal looks, a more natural and the other a bit stronger. One of the biggest concerns for brides-to-be is how to maintain, throughout the day, the flawless look created by a makeup artist in the morning so Ruth gave some advice on products that you should bring with you to your reception.LOVE

As you can see from the pictures our morning was captured elegantly as always by photographer Eddie Kavanagh. I had meant to make a list of the little details that I wanted captured but he didn’t miss a thing.


We were also very lucky to have a selection of veils and headpieces to show off Mary’s hairstyles with and they came from Smart Brides Designer Outlet in Portlaoise. They were also kind enough to send a stunning Jenny Packham dress to show off to the brides too as well as some of the gorgeous jewellery that they sell. I wanted to take everything they sent, particularly the dress, and run for my life!



Prize winners

We rounded off the morning with some spot prizes which included a goodie bag of Wyldsson topper tubes from myself, a blow-dry from Mary, a full-body tan from Aileen and a voucher for an engagement shoot with Eddie. It was so nice to get such positive feedback from everyone who came and I loved chatting to everyone afterwards. I’m looking forward to having some of the ladies join me on the 12 week online course starting in September and there will definitely be another breakfast in the future.


P.S I was getting asked a lot of questions on Snapchat about where I got some of the bits and bobs I used to decorate the venue so here you go:

BuntingFavour Lane

Wire Love Hearts – I can’t remember sorry – but you could try Nook and Cranny in Portlaoise for similar

Wicker Love Hearts – Pennys last year but these are easy enough to get

Miniature Peony ChalkboardsMoss Cottage, Dundrum

All material – IKEA

If there’s anything else that I haven’t included let me know!


You CAN have it all…..

Oprah Quote

This is a post to explain the lack of a proper post this week. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been really busy preparing for the Fit Bride’s Breakfast which I held last Sunday. We had a lovely day but it was hard work making everything come together. I’m finished my summer course of bootcamp and Pilates classes and I’m now on what was supposed to be a break for a couple of weeks but there has been so much interest in my online courses that I have had to get stuck into them instead. I want to give them 100% and so the blog will have to come second for this week.

One of the things that people ask me most often is where do I get my energy from? The answer is usually from eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly but some weeks those things are just not enough. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to do everything and this week is one of them. I can only stretch myself so far and I think I’ve reached my limit. On top of the work I have to do I have a teething, sleepless baby on my hands and I really want to be there to cuddle him and make him feel better when he needs me. 

Some of the posts I  do need a lot of time and research. When you’re advising pregnant and post pregnant mothers about exercising you have to have your facts right and not just throw up your own opinion. 

I’m sure I’m not the only woman who is guilty of taking on too much. To all the other brilliant women out there juggling so many things at once try and keep this quote from Oprah in mind. We all have things we want to achieve, big or small, but sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack and remember that we can only do our best.

Bríd x

Pregnancy Health & Fitness Part 1

When I found out I was pregnant at the start of December 2013 I was ecstatic but also nervous. I had taken redundancy from the “good pensionable job” (aka the bank) a couple of months beforehand to run my fitness business full time and to study. The early weeks of pregnancy are a scary time for every mother-to-be but when your job is as physical as mine is it can be even more worrying. I had built up a great business over the previous 6 years and didn’t want to lose any of it yet didn’t want to put my baby in jeopardy either. I also didn’t want to have to stop exercising for my own health, fitness and enjoyment either and strongly believed that it was possible that I didn’t have to. So I started to research it during my pregnancy. After having Frankie I then went back to college to do a fitness related degree. Part of my studies during the past year have included further research into pregnancy fitness. So you could say I’m slightly obsessed with it and a little bit annoying to get into a conversation about it with.


2014-07-28 19.48.26


I would strongly recommend that any pregnant woman who wants to continue to exercise safely during pregnancy reads the guidelines attached from both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

These two are my bibles when it comes to what is and isn’t safe. The general advice is that once you have received medical clearance to exercise (which will usually require that you have a normal, healthy pregnancy with no complications) then exercise is both safe and beneficial to you and your baby. Both guidelines advise that your exercise intensity should not exceed that of pre-pregnancy levels. A proper balance of nutrition, hydration, exercise and rest is essential. Imbalance in any one of these areas can result in safety concerns for both mother and baby.

Both advise that you should avoid the following:

  • Sports that are likely to involve contact e.g. hockey, soccer, basketball
  • Recreational activities that involve a high risk of falling e.g. horse riding, gymnastics
  • Anything that increases the risk for decompression sickness e.g. scuba diving
  • Physical activity at high altitudes (above 6,000 ft)
  • Exercising in the supine position (on your back) after the first trimester

Talking to your Medical Team

During my pregnancy I received mixed messages from the different doctors and nurses I met at my medical appointments. One would tell me it was good to keep exercising, another would be very cautious. The most frustrating part was that every time I asked why I couldn’t do something I was told it was just better, just safer. I’m the type of person that needs real, factual answers when it comes to diet and exercise and I can’t just be happy with generalisations and being told ‘because that’s how it’s done’. Obviously you should take your GP or practitioner’s advice very seriously but if you’re unsure as to why they are advising something then ask them why and look for a real answer. If you have a normal, healthy pregnancy then it would be unusual for them to tell you that you couldn’t continue to exercise at some level. From my experience there is a lack of confidence amongst pregnancy practitioners as to what exercise pregnant women should and shouldn’t do. It’s understandable as they fear litigation if something goes wrong but I see a day coming when the litigation will be for the advice not to exercise rather than to continue. I would love to see Ireland streamline the pregnancy exercise advice it gives to expectant mothers and really encourage pregnancy health and fitness.

2014-04-24 19.14.09-1

So what can you do?

The guidelines advise the following (in addition to getting medical clearance):

  • Previously active women with no complications can remain active during pregnancy and modify their exercise routine as medically indicated.
  • Previously active women with a history of complications during pregnancy should reduce their activity in the second and third trimester.
  • Previously inactive women and those with medical/obstetric complications should be medically evaluated before commencing an exercise program (but can exercise if cleared).

Breaking down exercise into the categories above here is some advice on safe and effective ways to exercise:

Previously active women

This is the category I fell under and it is probably the most complicated one. This will really depend on what level of activity you were doing previously. If you were a person who exercised moderately then you should be fine to continue as normal. However if you were exercising to a high intensity you may need to make some modifications.

While many women are now choosing to continue to lift heavy weights it’s important to consider the impact that they may have on your muscles and joints due to the fact that the relaxin hormone is released during pregnancy to allow the pelvis to widen for birth.

Running is very popular now and while I personally continued to run until late into my pregnancy it’s important to consider your pelvic floor muscles and the pressure that running and impact in general can have on them and your pelvis.

I talked about my post pregnancy shoulder injury in a previous post and acknowledged that I believe my high intensity exercise program during pregnancy may have contributed to the injury. However I know of other women who exercised to the same or higher intensity than I did and they had no problems at all so it’s such an individual experience. I think it’s very important to talk to someone in the know if you find out that you are pregnant and want to continue to exercise. That might be a physiotherapist or an instructor who has experience and education in working with pregnant clients.

Previous active women with a history of complications

I won’t offer advice in this category as only a doctor can really know a woman’s medical history and how it will impact her exercise choices.

Previously inactive women

For previously inactive women who have medical clearance and even for previously active women who want to reduce their intensity there are still lots of options.

Pregnancy Pilates & Yoga – great choices for core strength, resistance exercise in general, flexibility and relaxation. Some experienced instructors with a pregnancy exercise certification may also allow you to join a mainstream class and give you specific modifications.

Swimming & Water Aerobics – the low impact nature of both can make them good choices for pregnant women seeking aerobic exercise.

Walking – we’ve kind of forgotten all about walking with the current running craze but it is still a very beneficial form of exercise particularly for pregnant women. Just make sure that if you are looking to get the cardiovascular benefits then you need to be walking at a pace that makes holding a conversation a little hard. You should always be able to talk when exercising during pregnancy but if you’re able to regale your walking partner with the full Eastenders storyline then you are possibly not walking fast enough to get the goods.

Soup Salad Bread

Diet & Weight Gain

Exercising during pregnancy wasn’t all about looking good for me nor is it for many women. It’s about staying fit and healthy, keeping your baby healthy and not having to struggle with a lot of weight gain afterwards. Some weight gain is normal and necessary during pregnancy. However a lot of women mistakenly believe that they need to ‘eat for two’ during pregnancy. No doubt this is part of the reason many women put on too much weight during their pregnancy and then struggle with it afterwards.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but the truth is that the average pregnant woman will only need about 200-300 extra calories per day on top of the recommended 2000 calories. (1 tablespoon of peanut butter is 100 calories so that’s not a lot!) If you were consuming more than the recommended amount before pregnancy, which can often be the case, then no extra is required at all.

On the flip side it’s important to remember that if you decide to remain physically active during pregnancy you may need to increase your intake of calories to meet the energy output. Eating regularly as well as an hour before and straight after physical activity will help to keep your blood sugar regulated and help you to avoid getting dizzy or even worse fainting. Pregnancy really is a time to try and follow a diet that is as healthy and balanced as possible so that your baby gets all the nutrients it needs. Believe me you are most definitely not going to be at your dietary best in the weeks post pregnancy so during is the time to keep it in check!

Most Importantly

If you are going to exercise during your pregnancy be sure that you are 100% comfortable with your decision. If you have your medical clearance and you exercise safely then there should be no reason why it would have an adverse affect on you, your pregnancy or your baby. However if you are not fully confident of your decision and something very unfortunate does happen you don’t want to end up with feelings of guilt.

This post was really hard to write as there is so much I want to tell you about. However I realised that nobody wants to read a post as long as it would have been so I will be adding to this post in the coming weeks.

Please feel free to contact me through my facebook page if you have any questions at all and I’d be happy to help you.

My Post Pregnancy Story

Disclaimer: This is just my story, not advice and certainly not intended to make anyone feel bad.

I gave birth to my first baby, Frankie, in July 2014. If you’ve read My Fit Pregnancy blog you’ll know that I exercised to a fairly high degree right up until the end of my pregnancy. I had a lovely pregnancy with no major problems at all and my total weight gain was 1.5 stones or 9.5kg. I had a very fast labour and other than having an episiotomy and stitches I had no complications afterwards.


Side facing post preg

From the day after my labour to 12 weeks

When I finally tore myself away from my little man the next day to go the loo I couldn’t get over the feeling and look of my stomach. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever felt or seen and I wasn’t a bit sorry to see it getting smaller as the days went on. I found breastfeeding really good for shrinking my stomach. I could actually feel everything contracting as I fed. Thankfully I didn’t have a diastasis which is when your abs separate and don’t knit back together straight away and so my stomach recovered pretty quickly. I have no stretch marks (go on hate me; I know I’m very bloody lucky!).  I give total credit of my return to good abs to practising Pilates during my pregnancy.


Granola Tray  Bagged Granola

While breastfeeding I couldn’t go an hour without eating and regularly had to get up during the night for a munch. In the two weeks leading up to Frankie’s arrival I had made granola, flapjacks and other  snacks that I could have to hand so that I wasn’t indulging in bad stuff all of the time. Himself was off for two weeks and was very good for making healthy lunches and dinners. I had asked my friends and family not to bring crap food when they were visiting and they were really good about it. It’s not everyone you’ll feel comfortable saying this to but those who you can say it to will totally understand.  My crew already think I’m a bit mad (they can’t really fathom why anyone would want to exercise and eat like I do) and so a request like this wasn’t even questioned.  It’s hard enough dealing with your post baby body without being surrounded with Forrero Roche and Butler’s chocolates believe me. When you’ve been up half the night with a newborn and are in that new baby zombie state your willpower is NIL and you will overindulge if it’s there. Another thing that I do and have always done is give away, or if needs be, dump anything that you don’t want lying around tempting you. Yep, mad as a March hare, that’s me!


Post Preg Ex 2  Post Preg Ex 3

Any pregnant or post pregnant woman reading this should ensure that they get their doctors permission before resuming exercise. I, of course, did not wait for this permission but I did start off very slowly. The reason I chose to exercise before the generally recommended 6 week period is because not exercising seems to have a mental, as well as physical, effect on me. I get even grouchier than I normally am without it and just generally don’t feel as good in myself.

So I started off slowly at about 1 week post labour with some short walks with the buggy. They were never going to be long walks while I was feeding on demand. There was an element of terror in every step I took away from the house as I waited for Frankie to start to scream to be fed but I built up the distance over the next couple of weeks. I also started back with some bodyweight exercises at this stage but I did not go near abdominal exercise until the 6 week mark as you really can do damage if everything has not gone back to its pre-baby state (and everything really hadn’t!).

As the months have progressed I’ve increased my workouts and have had great fun including Frankie. He really enjoys all the jumping around and running we do .

My Injury

Preg Back  Back Inj

8 months pregnant and extremely proud of my back(left) & 4 weeks post labour in a lot of pain(right)

I’ll be honest, throughout my pregnancy I was concerned about how my body would be afterwards. I don’t just mean what it would look like. I was really happy to be pregnant and the more my pregnancy progressed the more grateful I was for how well it was all going.  I’ve always been one of those lucky people who could exercise a lot and not get caught out with injuries. That’s mostly down to the fact that I work out with careful balance between cardio, resistance and flexibility but even people who also balance these things get plagued by pain and injuries. So with this in mind I wondered would the stress of carrying a baby and exercising regularly leave me off kilter afterwards.

Unfortunately I did suffer really badly with a shoulder injury from about 2 weeks post labour. It started with a sharp pain behind my right shoulder blade and by 4 weeks it had spread down my arm. Holding Frankie to feed him was almost impossible and when he was actually feeding the pain shot through to my shoulder as well. I started to notice that my shoulder blade was winging away from my rib cage too. I won’t go into too much detail in this post as I’d like to do another post soon about post pregnancy injuries but needless to say I was really upset. While the pain has eased over the past year I still have winging. I have been diagnosed with palsy of the long thoracic nerve caused by repetitive strain and the medical conclusion is that it was caused by me pulling on the bed handles during labour (the last 5 minutes of labour were not pleasant which I’m sure you had already figured out from the episiotomy part – sorry to my pregnant readers). Not being one to immediately concur with the educated doctors I have questioned my intense workouts during my pregnancy and some specific movements that I did too. I also question whether it was a good idea to paint the garden fence for the two weeks before giving birth too but sure we live and learn don’t we?

In total it took me about 12 weeks to get back to a shape that I was happy with. I lost a lot of muscle when I was pregnant but to be honest I’m ok with that. I’m happier with the post pregnancy version of me and am learning to be nicer to my body too. I’m also lucky to have a very placid baby who has made the whole process a lot easier.

Hope you enjoyed my story. I’ll do a general post-pregnancy advice blog soon too.



Recipes to get me back on track

I love to scroll aimlessly through Instagram looking at all the fabulously healthy food that people are making. Sometimes if I’m feeling very adventurous (note that said adventure can only occur when Frankie is sleeping) I will even click in and see what ingredients are required should I decide to make such a thing and that’s where that little escapade usually ends. Most often there are both far too many ingredients and my concentration levels just aren’t what they used to be or else I know for a fact that the ingredients included are not stocked on the shelves of Tesco and therefore will not appear in the blue box that the Tesco man delivers to my kitchen table.

Once upon a time I shopped in various places for my ingredients. I was one of those fearless foodies before I had ‘company’. Before the ‘company’ decided that hanging from my legs was the most comforting place to be. Oh yes I used to make raw food this and organic-cocoa-nibbed and sliced almond that with abandon. Now getting to eat a banana without having to share it is something I consider a luxury. Yes I have definitely found this first year of motherhood put me back in my box and made me simplify the way I eat but I think things may be improving as we hit that year mark. It’s not all the baby’s fault either; I think I have just become a bit lazy about what I cook too. However I’m getting strict with myself and forcing myself to start putting a bit of effort back into the whole food making process. It’s not really that hard when you plan your meals properly for the week and I’ve been getting up a little earlier too by default (or teeth-fault) so I’ve had some extra time to prepare things in the morning. I’ve also given up the online and gone back to the in-real-life version of food shopping. Here are two dinner recipes that I love and would highly recommend. Have a look in your press and see what you have first (making sure they’re not dated 2010) and then make a list of what you don’t have and off you go!

Shepherd’s Pie from Derval O’Rourke’s book Food For The Fast Lane

Derval Sheppards Pie

Derval Book


(Click on the picture of Derval’s book for a link to where you can buy it – it’s a super recipe book)

All three of us loved, loved, loved this recipe. I doubled the recipe and we got the two adult portions and the two baby portions from the big dish on the right and himself took the two little dishes on the left to work for the two days afterwards.

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil

3 rashers, thinly sliced

2 onions, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp dried herbs (I just threw all the dried herbs I had in the press together)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

500g lean minced beef

300ml beef stock

100g peas

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 bay leaves (didn’t use, don’t think it had any effect)

850g potatoes, peeled and quartered (I used sweet potato and it was gorgeous!)

40g butter

40g cheddar, grated

100ml milk

Preheat oven to 180

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat

(Boil the kettle for the stock – try not to forget about it and actually put the cube into it and stir)

Add rashers, onions, herbs & pinch of salt – cook for 5 mins until softened

Add garlic – cook for 2 mins

Add mince – cook for 10 mins until brown

Stir in the stock, peas, Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée & bay leaves and bring to the boil

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally.

Make the mash by boiling the potatoes in water for 10-15 mins (10 if using sweet potatoes)

dish first

Top with mash

Bake for 20 mins

Divide and conquer!

Chicken Fajitas with homemade guacamole and salsa from Jamie Oliver’s book Ministry of Food

Mexican Chick SaladJamie

(Click on the picture of Jamie’s book for a link to his website)

This is one of my favourite recipes of all time. So much so that himself usually has to tell me to take a break from it sometimes when it’s been on the menu for a few weeks running. I do make a couple of changes to Jamie’s recipe and how he suggests you cook this. I’ll have it with wholemeal wraps (usually 2 per person) if I’m really hungry or if I’ve had a busy day exercising but often just put the chicken on top of a bed of salad leaves or spinach if not.

Serves 2


Olive oil

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 yellow pepper (my addition), deseeded and chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

Chicken breasts (when making I usually use 4), chopped into strips

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 small pinch of ground cumin (woops I just realised I’ve been using a tsp of this!)

1 lime, halved


4 flour tortilla wraps

150ml natural yoghurt (Jamie specified fat-free but I don’t really do fat-free so I use Glenisk whole organic yoghurt)

50g cheddar cheese


1 fresh red chilli to your taste (I’m lazy about this one and use a squirt of the Schwarz chilli paste)

15 ripe cherry tomatoes (I don’t use this many), chopped

1 small bunch of fresh coriander (get the real deal here, makes a big difference), chopped with stalks

Salt and pepper

½ lime, juice of

Olive oil, tiny drizzle

Guacamole (Jamie’s recipe for this is a lot more complex and feel free to check it out on his page but this is my simplified version):

1 avocado, mashed to your desired consistency

½ lime, juice of

1 small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

Salt and pepper

Again the following is not how Jamie instructs you to make it but this is how it works for me:

Put the peppers, onion, chicken, paprika and cumin into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lime and drizzle the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and leave to marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat the pan over a medium heat then add above ingredients and cook for 10 minutes, turning regularly.

To make the salsa and guacamole simply add all of the ingredients listed together to serve (obviously separately for each one).

Don’t forget the natural yoghurt, cheddar cheese and wraps too if using!

Amazing Arms Anywhere

At this time of the year us ladies are all about our arms, not necessarily because we’ll get to show them off to any great extent in Ireland with our unpredictable weather, but there will be the odd wedding and hopefully a holiday thrown in too.

I’m all about being able to exercise any time, any place with limited or no equipment. In this video clip I have given two exercises that require external weight and two which only require your body weight. For the two that require external weight I have given three options for you to use at home. The first being a kettlebell or dumbbell (mine is 8kg but use what suits you), the second being your baby (mine was not co-operating and anyway he’s getting too bloody heavy for me) and thirdly an old handbag filled with any heavy stuff you can find around the house. I do a lot of bodyweight and dynaband exercises when working my arms as they can get bulky very quickly and that’s just personally not the look I like for myself. I’ll do a dynaband post soon.

I would usually do 10-15 repetitions of each of these exercises and do 3-4 sets.

Upright Row

PullupsFrankie Pullups
Handbag Pullups

– Works your shoulders and front of upper arms.
– Perform slowly and with control.
– Keep your core strong (bellybutton to spine, pelvic floor lifted) throughout.

Single Arm Row

KB Row

– Works the side of your upper back, front of your upper arm and back of your shoulder.
– Again slow and controlled and try to tense the muscles in your arm at the top of the row.
– Keep your elbow in close to your rib cage as you slide past it.

Press Up

Press Ups

– Works your chest, the back of your upper arms and the front of your shoulders
– Be sure that you aren’t dropping your mid-section when lowering – if so drop down to the modified version on your knees.
– Lower slowly and to a right angle at your elbow and return to top a little faster.

Tricep Dips

Tricep Dips

– Works the chest, back of your upper arms and front of your shoulders
– Hard version – extend legs so that you are balancing on your heels
– Easy version – bend knees at 90 degrees
– Dip slowly, lift a little faster

Have a look at the video link below to see these exercises in motion.


My Fit Pregnancy

My Fit Pregnancy

GENERAL DISCLAIMER: This blog entry should not to be considered as advice on how to exercise during your pregnancy. It is merely an account of my own fit pregnancy. I will be totally honest and if you read to the end you’ll find out that I did have some physical problems post pregnancy and would possibly make changes to the way I exercised during pregnancy if I were to do it again. It’s important to remember that every pregnancy is different just as every woman is. Before taking part in any form of exercise or dietary plan during pregnancy it is important that you get advice and clearance from your GP as they will know your own history and if there is any reason that you shouldn’t exercise or shouldn’t do any specific forms of exercise.

I will be posting another entry very soon with advice for the general pregnancy population on exercise during this special time.

DISCLAIMER OF SHAME AND BLAME: I am not judging anybody who chooses a different way of doing things and this blog is not intended to make anybody feel guilty if they don’t keep fit during their pregnancy. My blog entries will never have that intention. I want to help women who want help.
This is not about weight either. Some women love the idea that pregnancy is a time to quit exercising and eat what they want and I say each to their own. (The other voice in my head would have LOVED to let us do that but this one won!) However anyone who has done that knows only too well the consequences. For me the idea that I would lose my fitness and become unhealthy really got to me. I’ve worked really hard on my fitness over the years and follow what I believe to be a relatively balanced diet. Also as I’m self employed and fitness is my job I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to continue to work and that my business would suffer as a result. (I know my Bootcampers were delighted that my pregnancy didn’t affect how tough our sessions were at all :))

My Fit Pregnancy

With all of that in mind when I first discovered that I was pregnant in December 2013 I buried my head in my laptop to research pregnancy exercise and diet but I found it really hard to get straight answers. There’s no end to the websites and advice forums out there on the Internet and it can be hard to decipher what’s what. The advice varied a lot. It went from the ‘quit anything strenuous right now and don’t even think about starting again until you are at least 3 months post pregnancy and while you’re at it have a tub of ice-cream daily’ brigade to a certain group of extreme exercisers who have become popular over the last few years and who shall remain nameless and who’s advice was, well, extreme. I found that at my medical appointments the doctors and midwives that I spoke to were encouraging but somewhat vague on what I could and couldn’t do. It always kind of felt like nobody actually really knew what the answers to my pregnancy fitness questions were.

I decided to follow the advice of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which basically says that if you were fit pre-pregnancy and have a normal pregnancy then maintenance of your fitness levels is fine as long as you have medical clearance and make the necessary adjustments to your exercise regime to make it safe. I hadn’t been participating in any contact sport, something which seemed to be a definite no-no. Even with this advice I had to pick my way through what I had been doing previously and try to come up with a modified version that suited my pregnancy.

My Fit Pregnancy

Trimester 1

Thankfully during the first trimester I was only sick a couple of times. I did get that horrible feeling of nausea a lot and found myself turned off almost all healthy food. This was frustrating in some ways as eating well became tough when all I could seem to stomach were very basic carbohydrates like bread and pasta (and not the brown variety either!). I ate a lot of fruit but also a lot of chocolate. I couldn’t look at my usual favourites such as eggs, chicken, steak, fish and nuts. But it was helpful in some ways as I had no desire for coffee or alcohol (having pre-pregnancy enjoyed both). With my fitness classes I had no choice but to continue teaching. I had always been quite involved in the workouts and continued to be. I always felt better after a good workout though. I only had two weeks where I was exhausted and luckily these coincided with the Christmas break. Pinocchio had nothing on me with the lies I told during this time about why I couldn’t go on nights out. By mid-January my secret was out but by then I was coming back to myself and getting back on track.

My Fit Pregnancy

Trimester 2

My second trimester saw my energy levels increase a lot. I was able to get back to doing most of what I had been doing prior to becoming pregnant. In terms of cardio, for me, that meant running about 5km 3-4 times per week (big dog, life is just easier when you tire her out!) and plyometric type exercises usually in a circuit style. Before my pregnancy I had been strength training quite regularly. I had been dead lifting in excess of 60kg using a trap bar but I cut this out in the second trimester as I didn’t want to jeopardise my lower back. I could actually feel my lower back starting to niggle after the first trimester so instead I stuck to a 24kg kettlebell for deadlifts and ensured that my lifting technique was correct at all times. I didn’t decrease my upper body lifting weight much, still pressing 12kg kettlebells.

My Fit Pregnancy
Running at 6 months (left) and 7 months (right)

I was really careful with my abdominal exercises. All of the guidelines that I read advised avoiding lying flat on your back or front after the first trimester to avoid the risk of supine hypotensive syndrome. As I was teaching Pilates at least 3 times per week I was required to demonstrate a lot of the exercises but thankfully a regular attendee in each class took over demonstrating the tougher exercises as my pregnancy progressed. I still continued to do a lot of the regular exercises but I elevated my upper body and was careful not to put too much pressure on my stomach muscles when performing. The danger is that you will put excess pressure on your rectus abdominus muscle causing a tear or Diastasis (something I will blog more about soon). During this trimester I was also able to get my diet in order too. I got back into my usual habit of eating a balanced diet from Monday to Friday and then having my ‘off’ time at the weekend. It wasn’t always easy to get out and exercise or eat right and temptation was always there but I’m so glad now that I did stick to it.

My Fit Pregnancy

Trimester 3

My third trimester continued similarly to the second with plenty of energy however by 32 weeks I was ready to quit running and change to a fast paced walk instead. I was finding it increasingly difficult to get around the block without having to stop at some poor unfortunate’s door to ask to use their loo. Considering I was running with a big drooling Boxer dog I don’t think there would have been too many willing to let me in. I’m pretty sure most people who saw me out and about thought I was mad too. From a dietary perspective I was definitely a lot hungrier so I increased my intake throughout the day. I’d love to say that it was all fruit and veg but in truth my scone addiction really took over by month 8 and I was very good to myself in month 9. I can’t say it was ‘cravings’, I was mostly just giving in to temptation. I was meeting up for lunch or dinner with friends and family a lot because I was conscious that it might be a while before I had that sort of freedom again. A dietary bonus of the big bump was that I hadn’t room for large portions so even though I wasn’t eating particularly well I was only eating little and often which is actually recommended for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

My Fit Pregnancy

I really pushed the boundaries with exercise during my pregnancy. Often women fear doing harm to their baby by exercising during pregnancy. Fear of the unknown along with old wives tales and unsupported myths hold so many women back. I was confident that maintaining my fitness levels wouldn’t hurt my baby and from most of what I was reading, I understood that it would be good for my pregnancy and my baby. Unfortunately bad experiences do happen to some women but exercise should not be the cause once you have your medical clearance and you exercise sensibly. With pregnancy exercise becoming more popular it is important for mothers-to-be to consider the impact of their exercise choices on their own body – bones, muscles, joints etc. Post pregnancy I suffered with a shoulder injury and some lower back pain, both of which continue to trouble me. I can’t be sure how these injuries occurred but I have considered that some of my exercise choices may have been too severe on my body. In a later post I will discuss my injuries and look at the different exercises I did and how they may have contributed.

People’s reactions to how I exercised during pregnancy were interesting. As it’s not something that has been encouraged over the years people find it hard to accept. It’s sad that people can react more negatively to a pregnant woman who continues to exercise than they do to a pregnant woman who continues to smoke. I did my best to explain to anyone who was concerned about me that as long as I was careful and made the necessary modifications then it was perfectly safe. The majority of people were just looking out for me and I appreciated their concern.

My Fit Pregnancy

I had such a nice pregnancy with no protein or glucose issues and also no swelling or major discomfort. My weight gain in total was 1.7 stone / 25lbs. I continued to exercise right up until the morning that Frankie was born, going for a 5km walk with the dog. By this stage people were actually openly gawking but I didn’t blame them because to be fair it’s not something you see every day. I was admitted to hospital at 1:30pm and gave birth without an epidural at 6:01pm (torture but fast torture!). I had to have an episiotomy because the little divil held his hands up to his head and made himself even bigger. Even though he arrived a week before my due date Frankie weighed 7lb 8oz, was in perfect health and we couldn’t have been any happier!

My Fit Pregnancy

I’m a Pinterest lover and really like what a lot of women in America do by taking regular bump photos to watch the progression. I took fortnightly pictures of my bump and posted them to the following link. There’s a whole lot of bump going on here so don’t say I didn’t warn you:

If you do nothing else to document your pregnancy then do this as it’s so nice to have afterwards.

My Fit Wedding

My Fit Wedding

When I got engaged in October 2011 it was the start of nearly 18 months of just the best fun. I’m my mother’s only girl and we were both so excited to get planning the big day. As with most brides the dress was one of the most important things to me. I stocked up on all the magazines and luckily Pinterest was just after coming on the scene too so I had loads of inspiration (aka I could be found scrolling through bridal inspiration boards at 3am). I came across this Mikaella dress early in 2012 and loved it.

My Fit Wedding

The Dress

Of course the fact that I was neither the models shape nor height didn’t put me off and I began to search for stockists in Ireland. I found Amoré Bridal in Cork had it, went to try it on and adored it even more. None of the regular sizes it came in were a perfect fit but I was happy that it could be altered and anyway I had some plans to work on my shape between then and my wedding date in March 2013. I decided not to order it until I had tried a few more dresses. Only one other dress came close to it even though it was a completely different style – backless and a big skirt. In the end I thought of which dress himself would love the most and the Mikaella came out on top.

My Shape

Even though I would have what most people would consider to be a slim figure, I’m a strange shape. I have very little in the way of curves including no waist or chest and have a wide back. I’m quite straight up and down except for my bum which, with a lot of glute-specific exercises, can be made bigger quite easily. I have learned from a young age how to fake the chest (thank you Penny’s big padded bras!) and so I felt this dress would be good for working a little behind and sculpting nice arms. Owing to the fact that I exercise a lot both through my job and by choice I have to be careful with my arms. They can tend to get quite bulky looking if I build too much muscle. I know this is a look that many women pursue but I personally don’t love it on me.

My Fit Wedding

My Fit Wedding

The Exercise

In my bootcamp classes we do a lot of interval training with exercises like mountain climbers, sprints, kettlebell swings and burpees. In my Pilates classes I was getting to work on my core muscles and strengthening my arms and legs. In addition to this I was running regularly, usually between 5 and 10km, 2-3 times per week.

I stuck to 8kg kettlebells when doing upper body exercises like shoulder presses, chest presses and rows. I did a lot more bodyweight work like press ups and tricep dips as well as resistance band work like lateral raises and flys for my upper back.

One way to build your bum is to work with heavy weights and low repetitions. I would have been doing a lot of trap bar deadlifts (60+kg), weighted vest lunge walks (20kg), as well as squats and elevated lunges with 2x12kg racked kettlebells. You can build your bum without heavy weights too it just requires doing more repetitions. Using a resistance band is a great way of working your glutes also. There are benefits to both and I now do more bodyweight/banded exercises than I do heavy weighted ones. When I look back at the build up to my wedding I’m so jealous of all of the time I had to dedicate to my body!

My Fit Wedding
Hen Party Madness

The Hen Parties

My official hen party was in Cork in January of 2013. I had picked a fab little white dress for the main night out but when I looked back at the pictures the following week I realised that I had overdone things a bit and had lost too much weight. It was probably a combination of being busy with work and planning the wedding. Again not the look I was going for so I was determined to put back on some weight and curves. This is something that often happens to brides-to-be. Everyone wants to stun people on their big day but for the right reasons.
I needn’t have worried because in those last few weeks there were so many days out to do this and that for the wedding and they always resulted in a big lunch somewhere too. Those days out with the girls are all part of the excitement of planning a wedding. I taught classes right up to the night before my wedding and was also thrown a number of surprise hen parties by my bootcamp ladies. I think they used it as an excuse to bring as much food into one of my classes as they could possible get away with!

A little too thin at my hen
A little too thin at my hen

Finally the big day arrived. That morning my mother and stepmother helped to slip me into my dress…ehhmm big fat lie….they had to absolutely beat me into the dress. It was so tight I could hardly breathe but I felt so good in it and didn’t care. I loved the shape and how it made me feel. I cared a little more when travelling in to the church though. Sitting was not going to be my friend that day. Neither was climbing the steps onto the altar with even the priest asking me whether I might suffer a Jennifer Lawrence-esque wardrobe malfunction. Dinner later in the day, as well as all the gorgeous desert food that followed, made things even more difficult. The boning cutting the hips off me but again I felt fab and that was all that mattered.

My Fit Wedding
Plenty of sweets to challenge the dress

I won’t be one of those women who sell her dress. I love looking at it now and again and keep swearing that I’ll try it on again someday but I don’t want to depress myself because post baby I very much doubt it would be too easy to get it on. I was so glad I made the effort to get the body I wanted for my wedding. I would urge all brides-to-be to do whatever it takes to have no regrets when you look back at yourself in your dress on that special day. Hopefully it will be the only wedding dress you ever get to wear and you deserve to feel a million dollars in it.

My Fit Wedding

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5 Fitness Problems of a New Mother

You’re a post-baby mother and you’ve got all the bits to prove it. You’ve put off the inevitable task of reclaiming your fitness but can do so no longer. Here are a few problems that I have either encountered myself or have come across daily while training other new mothers.

Your Boobs

1. Your Boobs

I’ll start with the boobs because, let’s face it… all 5 of the problems could be about them! Now personally I had no issue dealing with the problems that the boobs brought because post baby was the first time I had a proper pair. And they’re gone now which makes me sad but yes they do come with their fair share of problems.

Let’s start with size: Breastfeeding or not they can take on a life of their own and make exercise a physical danger to your face. They must be heavily bound to attempt even the lowest of impact exercises. Now is the time to invest in a strong exercise bra. Remember that or you shall find yourself explaining away some nasty bruising!

They hurt: I still cringe about the time when, pre-baby, I set a breastfeeding Pilates client the task of doing an exercise which began with her lying on her stomach and yes, her boobs too. God love that girl. All exercises that involve you lying in this position are best avoided or modified or a good dose of pain relief will be necessary for a while afterwards.

They leak: Supposedly they leak less when you are actually exercising but I’m not so sure about that one. Pad like your life depends on it when you’re exercising and be VERY careful about the colour top you choose should said pads not do their job correctly!

Pirates of Penzance

2. Pirates of Penzance

Ok, sorry… I’ll explain that one for anyone who’s not a Pretty Woman fan!

Pirates of Penzance = Pee’ing your pants!!

The mere mention of a jump jack can send a dagger of fear into the heart of every new mother. It’s hard enough to keep control down there when you sneeze or cough so how is something as complicated as a jump jack or, god forbid, going for a run going to be managed?!

Control, control, control. This is one you have to spend time on. You need to exercise your pelvic floor to take back ownership of the choice to pee. How does one do that? Well the pelvic floor is like a sling that sits under your bladder and other such organs. It was under there holding on for dear life for the duration that your little person was being housed. It is now most commonly known as the thing you use to stop yourself from pee’ing all day long when there are 50 more important things to get done first (bottles, water, nappies, washing and on and on). Still not got it? Ok you know when you take the riskiest of risky risks during the night and actually get up to go to the loo? The danger of creaking a floorboard or door on your way and waking your sleeping angel has been weighed up and you just can’t put it off any longer. You sit down to go about your business and suddenly the cry can be heard. Damn! You’re going to have to wait; baby will have to be attended to. Right, that action you just did to stop yourself is your pelvic floor. Along with holding that up get into the habit of pulling your bellybutton in towards your back on a regular basis too and a strong core you shall have in no time.

You’ve Got Company

3. You’ve Got Company

My beautiful boy is now proper crawling. Not dragging himself half heatedly as was stage 1 of crawling but up on his knees, from kitchen to mid stairs in 30 seconds flat kind of crawling. Which means he can be beside me/under my actual foot before I even notice sometimes. When exercising in the house with him at present I can now only wear the plainest of black Nikes or else he is fascinated by my footwear and likes to play with them.

Exercising at home can be the only way some new mammies get their fitness fix. Ideally you get to work out while they sleep and it’s a bonus if they actually stay asleep for the duration. Although personally I prefer to exercise while he’s awake and then shower while he’s asleep. I find this is the best solution to not ending up still smelling to the high heavens at 6pm. Bit embarrassing really. It’s far easier to entertain them with some squat jumps than roaring out ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ to them from inside the shower door.

*Tip: Make sure if you go walking or running with your baby you do so at a time when they’re not due to sleep. No point in wasting ‘me-time’ (aka that time when you might actually get to go to the loo, brush your teeth, possibly brush AND tie up your hair or even have a shower!).

When you’re baby gets to that stage where they just don’t sleep as much and want to participate then let them. Use them as a weight or as a reason to jump higher or faster for longer. With a bit of luck you have one who thinks that the sight of you throwing yourself around to music is the funniest thing since a snorting Peppa Pig (who co-incidentally will make a great exercise babysitter should your routine fail to enamour). If all else fails get them into the buggy and hit the road for everyone’s sanity. Pair up with another new mammy in the same boat and you won’t feel as hard done by. Just don’t forget the rain cover. This is Ireland after all.

Check out this little video clip I made one miserable teething morning:

You have ZERO energy

4. You have ZERO energy

I’m afraid you gotta suck it up for this one. Fake it till you make it ladies.

You’re unlikely to have that pre-baby boundless energy again for a LOOOONG time. Too long to risk losing your fitness altogether. You know only too well that once you do it you’ll feel a lot better about yourself and may in fact have even more energy. If you don’t well you’ve still done the exercise, worked off that thing you knew you shouldn’t have eaten at lunch time and now you can go and sit on the couch for a snuggle (commonly known as a period of time where you let your beautiful baby pull your hair and try to take your eyeballs out of their sockets). Bliss!

Nothing Fits

5. Nothing Fits

Well it isn’t going to either unless you get out there and get moving is it? No seriously though if you have nothing that fits or only have gear that was stretched so much during pregnancy it will end up around your ankles by the time you get to the bottom of the road then go and get yourself something new. Even one fitness outfit that you won’t feel like crap in. Pennys, Tesco and H&M do really good value gear.
You’ll hear enough people telling you to go easy on yourself; don’t rush back, yada yada yada so I’m going to be the other kind of person. Yes you must be very careful to make sure that your body is ready to resume exercising and you absolutely need your doctor’s clearance first. BUT once you have that and taking into account any physical issues you may have had or have GO FOR IT! Yes it’s tough, yes you will face these and probably a whole heap of other problems but you WILL feel the benefits of exercising and it IS worth it. Start slow, join a group that’s post pregnancy specific or look for an instructor who has experience working with post pregnancy clients. YOU are worth it!

One last tip – when you do manage to get into those leggings in the changing rooms (after exposing yourself to half the shop trying to keep an eye on your baby and change your clothes) bend over and make sure you have the right size so that the whole world won’t be able to see your bits! 🙂


5 Fitness Problems of a New Mother

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