Jessica cooke Fitness

Q I’m currently trying to get pregnant for the first time and am interested in understanding what kind of exercise I can do in the first trimester, before I tell anyone I’m pregnant. I currently have a personal trainer once a week doing weights and cardio, but I don’t want to tell him I’m pregnant (when/if it happens) until I’m 12 weeks. I’m pretty fit, having been training for a year but because of this he pushes me (as personal trainers should!) to try heavier weights and repeat till I can do no more. What would you recommend? Should I stop personal training sessions when I know I’m pregnant ?

You can keep doing exactly what you’re doing until you’re pregnant. It sounds brilliant, and it’s great to have something to focus on in those difficult pre-pregnancy times when all you want to do is be pregnant. Training with your trainer will have you in the best possible shape going into pregnancy. You’ll gain less weight, and be fit and healthy for your pregnancy and labour.
Once you become pregnant, I would strongly advise you tell your trainer as he can tailor your session tailored to suit your new needs. You’ll enjoy it much more, safe in the knowledge that he’ll look after you and make sure you aren’t doing anything that you shouldn’t be. You’ll need to change your sessions slightly so you’re not lifting super heavy weights or working out too strenuously. If you really feel that you can’t tell him, maybe you should stop your sessions until after your pregnancy and pick up jogging, walking or swimming instead? The best of luck with it, you’ll do great!

QWhy are we advised to wait for at least six weeks (or 8-10 weeks for a C-section) after having a baby before exercising? I kept active during my pregnancy and I’m now four weeks postnatal. I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight and feel ready to hit the gym again! But every bit of info says I must wait six weeks. Can you tell me why?

I know the feeling but it’s crucial that you wait! You still need all that time to make sure you heal properly. A doctor told me they had to treat a woman for a hernia, who had had a C-section and had gone back to fitness to early. You definitely don’t want that to happen to you; she had to take an extra three months off. Your stomach muscles will have been given a chance to properly heal by twelve weeks.
For women who had a natural birth, six weeks is a must also, to allow your body to recover. Before starting an exercise regime, make sure to start your pelvic floor exercises, so you avoid leaking while working out.
Some women develop a gap in their abdominal muscles as their stomach expands during pregnancy and labour, a condition called diastasis recti. It takes four to eight weeks after giving birth for this gap to close. If you start doing abdominal exercises before the gap closes, you risk injuring those muscles, so be really careful and take things slow.
The hormone relaxin will also still be in your system, this makes your joints more elastic, which makes you much more prone to injury.

Let your body heal
The bottom line is, take the time out to recover, there’ll be so much time for you to go hell for leather, and as much as you can, try to enjoy the time you can’t work out, it’ll fly by and you’ll soon be able to go for it!

Q. I tried to take up running recently, only to discover that my post baby body won’t allow me to! Obviously staying hydrated is very important when running but if I drink water I end up in trouble with stress incontinence. I’ve suffered from occasional incontinence since having my first baby, but running is really exacerbating the problem. Is there anything I can do to fix this?

Yes, there’s lot of things you can do to fix this. Have you been working on your pelvic floor exercises? I recommend you practice theses as often as you can, every day. They are so easy to do and can be done anywhere! To find the correct muscles, try to stop the flow of urine when you’re in the toilet. Once you’ve established that, you need to train your pelvic floor muscles through repetition, in the same way as you would train a muscle group at the gym. Lift your pelvic floor muscles to a count of ten. Hold the muscles tight for 10 seconds. Gradually increase the time until you reach 10 seconds. Relax your muscles and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the contractions up to 10 times. Fast contractions are also important to practice. Lift your pelvic floor muscles quickly. Hold the contraction for one second. Relax the muscles and rest for one. Repeat 50 times.
Once you’ve been practising these for a few weeks, you’ll be back feeling comfortable running in no time at all! Good luck!

Q. Since I had my second child one year ago, I have been walking three times a week and watching what I eat to try and tone up. But it’s very frustrating as I am not seeing the best of results. I have probably lost about six pounds but I could do with losing a stone. How can I speed up my weight loss?

The good news is that it’s going to be pretty simple to speed up weight loss. If you’ve only been walking, your metabolism is crying out for a boost! A change in exercise is going to give you the boost your body needs to start burning serious calories again! Running, swimming, a group exercise class, like bootcamp or spinning, is going to give you the push that will help you lose weight at a quicker pace. You need to keep your body guessing and there comes a point when walking doesn’t cut it. Your body has become so used to walking that it requires little effort at all, whether it feels like that or not.
Resistance training is also going to be so important for you. Building lean muscle by lifting weights with a trainer or in a group session will help you to burn more calories while at rest, compared to now, where your body will be burning virtually no calories at rest!

Q I am quite a lazy person when it comes to exercising but I’m trying to exercise more often and eat more healthily as my partner and I are trying for a baby. I am starting out with three 20 minute walks a week but I have heard about exercises that you can do at your desk at work. What are these exercises and will it be obvious to my colleagues that I am working out at my desk?

A That’s great to hear that’ve you started on an exercise regime. Yes, there’s lots of exercise you can do at your desk to help keep you active throughout the day. People who rarely disengage from the keyboard often develop carpal tunnel syndrome. But this affliction shouldn’t catch up to you if you repeat this simple move every day. Stand at your desk, and, arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch (you won’t have to go far). Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day. The “Magic Carpet Ride” works your core and arms. Sit in your chair with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat. Then place your hands on the armrests, suck in your gut and raise yourself a few inches above the seat, using your belly, muscles and hands. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat five times. For lower-body strength, try the “Wooden Leg.” Sit in your chair. Extend one leg out straight in front of you. Hold for two seconds. Then raise it up as high as you can, and hold it again for two seconds. Repeat with each leg 15 times. These exercises should not be obvious to your colleagues. Good luck!

QBefore I became pregnant, I was a keen jogger – heading out three to four times a week for 4k to 5k runs. I am still in the first trimester but I’ve switched to fast walking as I’m nervous that running could do some damage and also I have heard that it can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Am I worrying unnecessarily or should I still stick to the walking?

A You are worrying unnecessarily. Jogging during pregnancy, especially since you jogged pre-pregnancy is a fantastic thing to do and I would highly recommend it. So keep it up and remember to pace yourself. If you feel dizzy, nauseous or just unwell, slow down or stop.
Running with an already pre-existing prolapse, or if you’re recovering from childbirth can lead to a pelvic prolapse and further weaken muscles, but only if they’re already weakened. So if you have no history of a weak pelvic floor, than go for it! You can keep jogging right up towards the end of pregnancy but remember that your centre of gravity shifts so mind your balance and take care not to fall. Good Luck!

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.

Q I have three children and I work four days a week. Long working days and a hectic lifestyle have taken their toll on my waistline and fitness levels. I need to get healthy! I have worked out that I can make time for 25 minutes of exercise five days a week – what would you recommend I do in those 25 minutes for maximum impact?

A That is fantastic… good on you! The quickest way to success is doing what you have exactly done, planning your sessions and figuring out exactly the time you have for workouts. I recommend interval training to get you in the best shape of your life in a short, 25-minute period of time. Mix it up with some resistance exercises and you will be toned, trim and looking amazing. Here’s a sample session to get you started!
1 Warm up: jog on the spot for five minutes
2 30 seconds of skipping, 10 seconds of rest…repeat 6 times.
3 20 press ups, 20 walking lunges.
4 30 seconds of jumping jacks, 10 seconds of rest…repeat six times
5 20 press ups, 20 walking lunges
6 20 seconds of squat jumps, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of skipping, 10 seconds of rest…repeat four times.
7 20 Press ups, 20 walking lunges
And there you have it! A workout that hits all the muscles, that will get your metabolism fired up and leave you feeling amazing for the day! As long as you are doing intervals of work and rest, and pushing hard on the work intervals, you can mix and match up as many exercises as you like. Add in squats, lunges, press ups and some core work and you will not get bored. Good luck!

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.


Post birth body

After your baby’s birth, taking care of yourself is top priority.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….