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I wrote this post a few weeks ago as I wanted to share my top tips for easing back into a fitness routine post pregnancy / birth. Having just read the post again I feel like these tips are relevant to anyone who wants to start exercising, and even more relevant after after overindulging at Christmas.

Exercising has always been a huge part of my life. I exercise to feel good mentally and physically (yes this is correct order) I never exercise with a body image in mind; It’s just a part of my life and who I am. I was lucky enough that I could carry on being fairly active during my pregnancy and most definitely couldn’t wait to get back to my usual routine afterwards. However, I needed to stay super patient, wait until my 7 week check up, and listen to when my body felt ready to start again.

Here are the top 5 things that helped me to ease back into my usual fitness routine (after birth). I have added (after birth) as I think that these are relevant for anyone who wants to start exercising.

1. Take it easy

The final stretch of pregnancy is pretty exhausting and so it’s important to bear in mind the humongous job our body needed to do to carry your baby and the extra weight and deliver.

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On my way to the hospital

The official advice is to wait until the 6-8 postnatal check up before you start exercising. To be honest there’s so much going on at the beginning, including those sleepless nights, that exercise is just not on the agenda. However, once you are ready, take it easy – regardless of where you were with your fitness levels before pregnancy or birth. Start with gentle stretches, pelvic floor exercises, and walking. Pushing a pram in the park is a great excuse to get yourself out of the house, get some fresh air and ease into exercising.

I have to say that I found this part the most difficult as my head was saying ‘go for it’, but my body just couldn’t. I had a certain image of my fitness level in my head, as just a few months before I became pregnant I ran an ultramarathon and stayed active throughout pregnancy.

It was like a mental game, as I constantly needed to remind myself of this big job I did to carry and deliver a baby and allow my body to heal.

2. Ditch that cake

You know that saying ‘you’re pregnant, you should eating for two now’. Yeah… that’s not true really. The recommended calorie intake doesn’t really change until the third trimester when you’re meant to have an extra slice of toast. However, being pregnant gives us a free pass to introduce a treat here or there and then it just becomes a habit.

My diet stayed pretty healthy during pregnancy, except… a daily milk chocolate Magnum, bread with butter that I never allow myself to eat before, tons of dark chocolate (that’s healthy, right?) and pastries. I kind of carried on with most of my newly acquired habits after giving birth, so one day I needed to tell myself to ditch the cake, eat the entire remaining contents of our treat cupboard, and move on. I’m back on track now, but at the same time I have a much less strict approach than I did before the pregnancy. It’s about feeling well and having a healthy balance, so I enjoy an occasional treat now.

3. Start now

‘Diet starts on Monday’, we’ve all been there setting ourselves deadline for when we quit junk food and start exercising like crazy. I know from my experience that this very often results in overeating and then starting exercising too much too soon and being totally put off.

Why not start today with some gentle exercise to ease yourself into it?

What worked for me was to building exercise into my daily routine; taking the stairs instead of the lift, doing squats while waiting for the kettle to boil, bending down to pick things up rather than bending over, etc…

4. Consistency

5 minutes of exercise is more than none. It’s good to remember this every time the voice in your head will tell you to do some housework instead of working out. Commit yourself to exercise certain days of the week and stick to your plan.

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5 months postpatrum and back to my pre-pregnancy weight

5. Variety

Keep it interesting, by introducing variety into your exercise. This means that you are less likely to get bored and continue with it. Vary the types of exercises you do; aerobic exercise, strength training, core conditioning, and stretching. As well as whether you decide to exercise on your own or with friends. I like the postnatal classes where I can exercise with other mums and babies, running with the crew, but I also like ‘me’ time when I run by myself, do yoga or core stability at home.

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I mentioned a lot about pregnancy and birth in this post,however I truly believe that these top tips will help you to ease back into a fitness routine at any point in your life… pregnancy or overindulgent Christmas. Little steps will make a big difference.

I don’t know how everyone feels about it, but to me reading books felt like a luxury before I went on mat leave.  I used to read a lot when I was commuting by public transport, but things changed when I started to commute by car;  by the time I had spent at least an hour driving back home, walked Emma and had dinner it was time to go to bed!
This year my New Year’s resolution was to read a book a month, which didn’t really happen, but I think I have managed to catch up since I started maternity leave.

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Now that I’m off, I grab a book whenever I go for a walk with the kids, whenever I feed the baby and whenever I feel like I want to check my facebook again (this is a top tip really. Read a page every time you feel like checking your facebook again). So these are the books I’m currently reading or recently finished. You’ll see that it’s a very eclectic mix.  I have another couple of books queuing, but after that I will be ready to restock, so any recommendations are welcome!

The Glass Wall: Success strategies for women at work – and businesses that mean business by Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacob

This book is from my ‘businessy’ pile of books.  It’s not a typical book describing a woman’s place in the workplace. This book is inspirational, empowering and practical at the same time.
It gives practical tips on how to navigate your career, promote your work, yourself and ultimately get what you deserve. Yes, we are ambitious, hard working, skilled, but sometimes we do not want to shout out about it.
One bonus is that you don’t need to read it from cover to cover, but you can pick an issue or topic that is interesting for you and read the relevant strategies and case studies.
I usually pass on books that I finish reading or drop them at my local charity drop, but I’ll definitely keep this book and read it again just before I go back to work next Summer to put myself in a ‘work’ frame of mind.


Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Another businessy book I read at the beginning of my mat leave, even before Oliver was born, and I was still in a worky mood. Sharon Sandber, COO of Facebook (she held a number of leadership roles in the Silicon Valley) talks about a woman’s place in the workplace and why she believes that women need to be better represented in leadership positions and the steps that they should take to improve their chances of doing so. This book feels much ‘dryer’ than The Glass Wall, and you can feel that is written by someone senior, but at the same time many examples chimed with me.
I love the below bit, which I shared this on Instagram a while back:
“A 2011 McKindey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments” Enough said, this book should be read by every girl and woman in the workforce.

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander, Iben Dissing Sandahl

I’ve seen an online meme recently saying something along the lines of ‘I know how to raise my hypothetical children’. This really made me laugh, as before I became mum I had so many ideas about raising children, mainly based on being critical of babies crying on the airplane or hopeless parents of very loud kids misbehaving in supermarkets. At the same time I thought that my parenting style would be a bit go with the flow, and that I would never pick up any parenting books.

I got this book as I was intrigued by the cover and the fact that Danes are named the happiest nation in the world, which is linked to the way they are brought up. This book doesn’t feel like a textbook, even though it cities quite a lot of research. It also gives a lot of practical advice on how to raise happy, self aware and confident children.
The six essential principles that have been working for parents in Denmark are:
Play: essential for development and well-being
Authenticity: foster trust and an ‘inner compass’
Reframing: helps kids cope with setbacks and look on the bright side
Empathy: allows us to act with kindness towards others
No ultimatums: no power struggles or resentment
Togetherness and hygge: a way to celebrate family time, on special occasions and every day

The book feels a little bit more idealistic and some of the scandi/hygge way of living might be quite hard to achieve in our individualistic culture. It definitely made me more self-aware of my conditioning and my default setting that I’ll need to change to become a less anxious mother. Again, this book is a keeper!

Neal’s Yard Remedies Essential Oils: Restore * Rebalance * Revitalize * Feel the Benefits * Enhance Natural Beauty * Create Blends by by Susan Curtis, Pat Thomas, Fran Johnson

This is the essential oil bible! I’ve just got this book and I am super excited about learning more about essential oils, the use and their positive influence on the brain! I love my MUJI aroma diffuser and I use it pretty much every day when I do yoga, so it’s about time I learn how to make them.


The life changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying by Marie Kondo

I find cleaning quite therapeutic, and I do clean my house once a week! However, I still felt a bit strange buying a book about cleaning and decluttering your house. What made me feel slightly better is that The life changing magic of tidying was a massive bestseller last year – 3 million copies sold. I’m reading both books in prep for my Spring clean before I take half of my belongings to a charity shop and decorate the rest of the house. The books also resonate with me because even though I know I do not have as much stuff as some other people, I still feel like having all that stuff is talking over being in today’s world. This is definitely something that bothers me a bit, but it doesn’t completely stop me from buying the same stripey top, but in a different colour…

Additionally, the Spark Joy is beautifully published, so it will make a great coffee table book once read.

Masala by Max Cegielski

A journey through India as described by a typical European searching for enlightenment, as well as cheap drugs and parties. Basically an opportunity to take a break from day-to-day reality, the Western World, and from himself. I read this book a few times and I keep going back to it as I love the way the author describes India, which makes me REALLY want to go there!
I need to add that this book is in Polish and is written by a polish radio dj, journalist and musician (Masala Sound System).

I told you that my mix was eclectic 🙂 Thanks for reading and hit me up with your recommendations!

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Do you need some extra energy for all your Christmas prep? Try these Christmas energy balls! Super easy to make and taste da bomb!

8 Medjoul dates (full of fiber, vitamins and minerals)
• Cup of mix dry fruit
• Cup of soaked almonds
• Juice of one orange
• 1 tsp of all spice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Dry cranberry to make them like Rudolf’s nose.
Blend everything together, roll small amounts into balls and eat.

This week I’ve been keeping myself busy by doing a hideous amount of yoga (mastered my first headstand after pregnancy), and doing some arts and crafts.
Having a child means that I can openly talk about my art and crafts habits 🙂

So continuing with the theme of toys for babies, I made some sensory bottles for Oliver last weekend. Sensory bottles are really great toys for tiny babies who are just too young to play with proper toys.

They are also a great way for babies to experience some interesting materials that they wouldn’t be able to play with otherwise due to the choking hazard.

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What’s needed?

Small bottles – these will be easiest to hold in a baby’s tiny hands and easier to fill up

‘Fillings’ – pretty much anything that would fit in the bottle and would look or sound interesting, e.g. glitter, colourful buttons, pompoms, pasta, beads, food dye, oil.

 

The bottles are very easy and quite cheap to make. I bought most of the materials in a pound shop (there’s first time for everything), so there’s no need to overspend in an art shop.

How to make the sensory bottles

The 4 bottles I made this weekend contained colourful pompoms, pasta and googley eyes, a blue and white napkin (babies love contrasting colours) and finally one with glitter and food die, which looks like a lava lamp. Oliver’s favourite so far seems to be the one with pasta and googley eyes as it makes an interesting sound when he shakes it.

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One tip for any type of sensory bottles is to fasten the lid securely so that none of the filling escapes! I have also read that some people use super glue to glue lid to the bottle. However, I wasn’t too keen on this idea as Oliver puts everything is his mouth.  Either way it’s a good idea to supervise kids while they are playing with bottles.

How to make a lava lamp sensory bottle

1) Fill half of the bottle with water
2) Add some food dye and glitter
3) Top up with vegetable oil
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Playing with sensory bottles

Oliver is still learning to hold objects so I helped him with this part. We used the pasta and googley eyes bottle to explore sound and the rest of them to explore sight.
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He really loved the colourful pompom bottles during tummy time. I’ll definitely explore with different materials and bottles sizes when he starts crawling and rolling around. I think that it might be quite cool to make seasonal sensory bottles, so use flowers and shells in Summer, conkers in Autumn, and some Christmassy stuff, and plastic candy cane before Christmas?

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Christmas is less than a month away and I’m getting very excited about our first Christmas in our new house, and as a family. We are usually away for Christmas visiting our relatives, and so we never used to bother too much about putting up a tree and making too much effort, but this will need to change, and I can’t wait to make our home feel festive start and to start creating our own memories as a family.

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This year I helped Oliver to write his letter to Santa. The gifts he asked for are based on the things he’s seemed to like so far, are suitable for babies aged 3 months+ and also reflect our preferences as parents (yikes!).

Many toys I’ve seen around are really ‘out there’ very loud, and designed to stimulate different senses at the same time, which, in my opinion, might result in overstimulation. So, I’m hoping that sometimes less is more!

We will ask for good quality gifts that will help to gently stimulate interactive play and learning. I have also included some practical ideas that will be helpful in the upcoming months.
Gift Ideas

1) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Eric Carle
Oliver absolutely loved this book during our last trip to the library. The book is quite big so it will be easy to hold the book facing him, the sound of the story is rhythmical and the illustrations are lovely and colourful, which really grabs his attention.

2) Soap bubble blower
This is something that caught my eye at Baby Sensory (a separate post about sensory sessions and toys awaits!). Oliver is still a bit too tiny to understand the whole bubble situation, but babies 6 months+ absolutely love it! This will be also a gift for Emma, our spaniel, as she used to have her own doggy bubble blower.

3) Toddle truck MULA; A wooden baby walker trolley from IKEA
This most definitely will not be used for several months, but I like to plan ahead. I have heard very good things about this walker. The sturdy construction provides support and confidence when child is learning to walk / is still developing motor skills.

4) Baby Einstein Explore and Discover Soft Blocks
Soft blocks perfect for babies’ little hands to explore. The blocks feature multi-textured fabric for tactile stimulation, a chime ball for fun sounds, a little mirror to play peekaboo. I’m mostly excited about the chime noise, as Oliver is at the stage that new noises really intrigue him. He loves his shakers and rattles and so I know he will really love this toy.

5) Menu life interlocking foam tiles
We do not have a carpet in the lounge and so these tiles will be perfect when the baby becomes a little bit more mobile. I really like the colours of the tiles and the fact that you can raise the sides to create a little fence to create a play area. It’s likely that Emma will used this as her new bed. This is what she does with his baby gym and rug.

6) Voucher for baby swimming classes
As much as Oliver loves the outside world he has got some good memories of being in my belly. I think that’s why he likes swimming. Swimming classes are also a nice Saturday thing to do for daddies giving mummies a morning off.  There are a few special pools with very warm water suitable for babies that provide gift voucher options.

7) Heimess Wooden touch ring
I have discovered this brand recently and it’s up there with French ‘Janod’ toys and Polish ‘Bajo’. The rings’ movable parts help to develop his sense of touch and help babies to open their hands.  The ring includes also gentle chimes – winner!

I hope that everyone who struggled with an idea for a gift for a baby will find our list useful.

To all the mamas out there: Let me know if there was anything that your baby loved and I should add to Oliver’s letter to Santa!
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