Margot is one month old now, it has gone so quickly, and in a complete sleepy blur. After what was quite a traumatic birth, loosing a large amount of blood (nearly three litres) and opting to not have a transfusion – I have been quite weak and just walking up the stairs at home had me having to sit down and catch my breath. With the help of a lot of tablets and my amazing husband helping with the night feeds I am feeling so much better now. A walk with the Bugaboo Donkey no longer leaves me feeling like I have raced a marathon and instead makes me feel energised and healthier. So after a rather indulgent Easter weekend it’s time to start looking after myself – eating healthily and moving more again.

I know a lot of people on Instagram have commented I have ‘sprung’ back into shape, and weight has dropped off etc. It’s not the case at all. One posed for shot doesn’t portray the reality. But neither does that mean I am unhappy with my body. I know its a cliche but after having a baby you have to be kind to yourself, emotionally and physically. It’s a rough time, magical sure but it’s a rollercoaster of hormones, sleep deprivation and the pressures of the outside world we all put on ourselves. So putting myself in that outside world even more with the blog I am extra cautious to take it easy.

Ok so starting from the beginning here are my stats…

First midwife appointment – 11.9 stone (size 12 dress size)

Last weight taken before I had the baby – 13.2 stone

Current weight – 11.12 stone

I am almost back to the weight at my first appointment which was around two months pregnant, and I don’t normally tend to weigh myself so I am not sure what I was before I became pregnant but would estimate around 11.5 stone. My jeans now do up around my waist – but are not comfortable for any length of time. There is a lot of post-baby jiggle and I’ll be working on toning that area.

So the plan of action…

I think it’s really important that I state I have no expertise in health, fitness or nutrition. I am only sharing what I like to do for myself. I love to exercise (when I am in a routine) and so to make sure I keep it up I have to do what works for me and what I enjoy doing. I have tried intense programs and crazy diets and they just don’t work for me. I cave and end up eating all the chocolate or stop going to the gym for months on end. 

Exercise

One month post-partum

  • Walking – if possible one hour three to four times a week. I am hoping to do this after I drop Vivienne at nursery three times a week and if not then – at the weekend. I prefer to do it in the morning as the later in the day it gets the more excuses I make. It also puts me in a good frame of mind diet-wise.
  • Bicep curls with overhead press. Grab bottles of water (milk even) and go for it. Two to three sets of ten to twelve. If you’re unsure what the exercises are I google them or a quick look on youtube.
  • Lateral arm raises – the same sets and reps.
  • Overhead tricep extensions – the same again.
  • Skull crushers – my favourite as I get to be on the floor! Same reps and sets.
  • Squats – two to three sets of ten to twelve again.
  • Don’t forget the pelvic floor muscles either!
  • As for the tummy – this can be a tricky one so I am going to follow this light exercise plan on Youtube until I feel stronger.

The Gear

And of course you want to look good when you’re doing all this bettering of yourself. Enter the brand new Biba Activewear range from House of Fraser. Cut to make you feel good not only look good the leggings have flattering mesh inserts and leg lengthening panels. The waists are high and figure hugging and the seamless bra tops are not only stylish but supportive. I love the Zebra and tiger print on these but they also have a brighter blue print covered in jaguars that is stunning. (And the Biba holdall would double up as a great baby bag!). I have linked my favourite pieces below.

Biba logo bra £30 

Jungle Jaguar leggings £35

Zebra legging £35

Zebra bra top £30

Biba Holdall £59



www.HouseofFraser.co.uk

 

I’ll be covering the healthier diet swaps I am making in the next post of the fitness series. Any questions in the meantime please don’t hesitate to ask.

Ax

 

This post was written in collaboration with House of Fraser but all photos and opinions are my own. 

 

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I have always been very open about my own history with cervical screening and the removal of CIN3 cells I had this time last year. The reason being is I want to raise awareness of the importance of going for a smear test. If those abnormal cells hadn’t have been spotted and removed I would have continued with my life – got pregnant – maybe attended a smear after the baby was born – but then it may have been too late. It’s a scary thought. But makes me so grateful for the screening system we have in place.

This week the fantastic charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are running their campaign to raise awareness – Smear for Smear. It’s pretty simple if you want to get involved – lipstick on, smear and post on social media. Details below…

 

 

The Headline Stats

  • Cervical screening coverage has dropped to 72.7% and is now at a 19 year low
  • 1.12 million women did not take up their screening invitation in the last year
  • 1 in 4 women do not attend their smeartest when invited
  • Cervical screening (smeartest) is not a test to find cancer, it is a screening test to detect changes to the cells of the cervix
  • 3 women lose their lives to cervical cancer every day

Lets help change these stats and make a difference.

Thank you,

Ashley

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New Years resolutions – rarely have they actually been seen through but I love thinking about them at the end of each year. Taking some time to reflect on the past, the good, the bad and the ugly. Positively plan my year ahead, getting excited about whats to come and thinking about to how to enjoy it to the full. Getting my priorities in order. What’s important to me, and what has been taking up too much energy and not giving anything back. Is there anything I have missed, anything I have been wanting to do, anything I would like to achieve…

So after a 2016 of ups and downs and exciting times with aMothersEdit I have pulled together my own resolutions to share with you.

Switch off

Taking some time to switch off, whenever I can. I’m not going to say every day, or once a week, as sometimes life really is just too busy. But having the confidence to just say no sometimes, and just take some time to switch off and reboot. Whether its a duvet day, a spa day, a walk in the park or just a soak in the bath.

Exercise routine

Routine being the key word here – going to have to take it easy at the start of the year but I love exercising and making it part of my everyday life is so important to me. At the start of this year I was trying all sorts of classes and totally loved spinning. I am going to get back on that bike this Summer but in the meantime some leisurely walks will suffice.

Take it easy on myself

With a new baby coming in March I need to remind myself to take it easy. I am already planning so much work for next year and being self-employed I will need to force myself to take some form of maternity leave. This links in with the exercising too – being kind to myself – not pushing myself too much post baby and rushing to get back in shape. Taking it slow. Life is not a race after all. And its enjoyed so much more at a slower ‘island life’ pace – which is ultimately where I’d love to be, sipping on a coconut in a bikini.

Creating a new home

So excited about moving home this year, I’ll be sad to say good bye to our first house but can’t wait to create a home for Vivienne and her new sister to grow up in together. It’s taken a good three years to get this first home how we like it though so I am sure with more space this will take even longer. I’ll have to be patient and just enjoy each moment as it comes. I am all too guilty of wanting everything perfect immediately but as always its about realising whats important and enjoying it. Letting everything else go… (as Vivienne would sing).

Quality not quantity

My friends are incredibly special to me so I want to make more time for them this year. I don’t intend to join any form of antenatal group, or attend classes with this second pregnancy as I just don’t have the time… I don’t want to spread myself even thinner. I met some fabulous girls at NCT when I had Vivienne, have the absolute best of friends from school and university and have kept some quality friendships through the many jobs I have had over the years. These are the relationships that are important to me now and I want to give them the time they deserve.  I would rather invest in good quality time with my favourite people than have lots of quick meet-ups with friends that come and go.

Stop trying to please everyone

Looking at the past year I can see those times so obviously now – where I was just trying to please too many people. And did it matter? Not in the slightest. They probably didn’t even realise, or even really care, but it exhausted me. So this year is all about whats important. Always being kind – but not bending over backwards for something that really doesn’t matter.

Love my husband… even more

I think with the new baby this will become even more important. Even the little things like walking around hand-in-hand together make me so happy. My husband is without a doubt my best friend in the whole world and I love him so much – I want to make sure he knows that this year and we enjoy being ourselves with each other as much as possible. Just to remember why we love each other so much – what we fell in love with all those years ago and how we have grown together. And I think there’s always time for a passionate kiss…


 

 

A

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It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is essential in feeling good – and looking good. It is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, benefiting your heart, weight and your mind. But it’s not always as easy as counting sheep so when Drift asked me if I’d be interested in talking all things sleep on the blog I jumped at the chance – I honestly think its so important and even more so when you’re a mum.

I have always been an early to bed kind of girl. Come 10pm I need to be tucked up tight and getting ready to switch off – even before Vivienne was in the picture. I’d rather wake up early and get started on the day fresh than stay up late – unless of course the staying up late involves a party – then its worth it. But when you have little people to look after you know your sleep isn’t guaranteed with a midnight wakeup call or two quite the norm – making it all the more important that any sleep you do have is as restful as it can be.

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Here are the facts according to Hormone Specialist and Nutritional Therapist Nicki Williams via SheerLuxe

How do we sleep?
We sleep in cycles and the most important of these is deep sleep. You really need five cycles of deep sleep a night to feel refreshed and each lasts one-and-a-half hours so in an ideal world you should aim to get seven-and-a-half hours sleep a night at least. The hours before midnight are the most restorative, so make sure you go to bed before then (say 11pm) to feel your best.

What happens when we sleep?
Sleep physically restores you, regulates your mood, gives you more energy and boosts your immune system. It’s also when you brain puts down information and ‘detoxes’ after a busy day. Nothing else gives you all those benefits for so little effort.

If you routinely don’t sleep well, you’ll have increased hunger hormones, making you reach for carby and sugary snacks. You’ll also have a 23% increased risk of obesity, be twice as likely to develop diabetes, three times more likely to pick up a cold, and be more inclined to get depression.

What stops us from sleeping?
Stress – This can take the form of physical stress on the body, such as injuries or painful joints, and also digestive stresses, like food sensitives, chemical stresses from the environment and, of course, mental stress.

Hormone imbalances – The main four hormones that play up at night include cortisol (your stress hormone), insulin (blood sugar levels that can be spiked by eating sugar-heavy foods), oestrogen (which if unbalanced with progesterone can have a stimulating effect) and melatonin (your sleep hormone) that can be affected by modern-day stimulants such as phones, laptops or even street lighting. Your thyroid, which is a metabolism regulator, can affect sleep too if it’s off kilter.

Diet – Foods with high levels of sugar or salt, ready meals that contain additives and vegetable oils or anything spreadable which usually contains trans-fats can create dips in insulin that wake you up at night. Coffee and tea should be limited to before midday because it hangs around in the body, as does alcohol and no-sugar drinks which often have artificial sweeteners.

Sleep Environment – No laptops, TVs or phones should be allowed in the bedroom!

How do we sleep like babies a man? (they never wake to those middle of the night shrieks do they?!)

1. Manage your stress – this has to be a daily commitment, even it is only for ten minutes. Try bathing in Epsom salts, deep breathing, meditation or yoga.

2.  Balance your hormones – supplement your diet with vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and zinc; all of these nutrients are needed to balance them, and again managing your stress will also aid this.

3. Good nutrition – eat real food that has a low GI and as much organic produce as you can. Pack healthy fats and quality protein into your diet and avoid refined carbs and sugar. Try not to eat too late at night and also remember to stay hydrated. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, try night-time teas that contain lavender, chamomile and valerian.

 4.  Sleep environment – bring your sleep time forward to 10.30pm and ensure your bedroom is completely dark; buy blackout blinds and check there’s no artificial lighting in the room from gadgets or TVs. Your bedroom should only be for sleep or sex! Write down anything on your mind on a notepad and avoid watching thrillers or the news. Physical exercise is also a great way to tire yourself out before bed.

I have started exercising (most of) these tips over the past week and they’re already helping me with drifting off quicker and deeper. Admittedly I am not ready to take the TV out of the bedroom yet – we love our movies in bed together (not forgetting TOWIE and MIC) – but the other tips I am following. I have also spent some time making my bed a nicer place to be. A fantastic mattress like this from Drift is so essential to a good nights sleep, quality bedlinen makes it a luxurious place to be every night, a good duvet for the time of year and the perfect pillows tailored to your personal sleep style. Shop my bedroom sleep edit here:

The Drift Mattress

Forget sleeping directly on latex or foam – both are artificial insulators and can make you overheat. The Drift mattress has an all-natural wool and cotton layer which keeps you cool and comfortable throughout the night. They also use a natural 100% viscose sleep surface, unlike the rest of the bed-in-a-box industry, who use 100% polyester (because it’s cheap).

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Drift claim that their mattresses are impossibly comfortable due to the innovative pocketed springs. There are over 4000 of them in a mattress (more than any other roll-able mattress), they contour perfectly to your body, giving you the support you need to sink into a blissful night’s sleep. And as they’re tested to last in excess of 10 years, you’ll always enjoy impeccable bounce-back, no matter how many times you jump into bed. Sounds good!

Another huge plus point I found with the mattress was they way its delivered. I have a small cottage and getting our last mattress in was a nightmare, the delivery men threatened to take it away twice… it took a lot of negotiating! But the Drift mattress is delivered rolled up in a fab bag – easy to store if you’re not using it straight away too.

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For anyone that loves British-made product as much as I do then you’ll love that Drift hand-make each one in Britain using expert craftsmanship and the finest natural materials.

In the market for upgrading your sleep – Drift are offering £50 off a mattress over November just use the code DRIFT£50NOV16 at the check out.

www.driftsleep.com

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The bedlinen

I always find bedlinen can get a bit forgotten. Its usually not until you enjoy a night in a hotel and their crisp white linen then return home to your own greying bed that you think perhaps its time I spend a little money on dressing my bed. Funny really when we spend so much time here. And who doesn’t love that feeling of getting into beautiful sheets. I have just upgraded my linen (which we have had since we got married – good ol’ wedding list) so in was in dire need of updating! Soak & Sleep is a new find of mine, the selection is fantastic, delivery superb and the low prices always guaranteed. I went for 600TC luxury Egyptian cotton – and wow is it good… I’ve included some of my other favourites from their site here including the seriously luxurious silk.

600TC linen from £22

100% Pure French bedlinen from £18

Luxury reversible Mulberry Silk from £60

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The duvet and pillows

Our duvet was another wedding present from Vivienne’s godfather – he told us Congratulations on your marriage, enjoy the duvet – but no funny business. Twelve months later and Vivienne was born. But in all seriousness – I would always recommend spending on this. I love the weight of it but its cool in Summer and warm in Winter just as you’d hope from the perfect duvet. The pillows were pretty recent and I use much softer pillows than my husband who prefers a firmer pillow. A lot of the pillows now will show you which sleep positions they’re designed for on the packaging – Soak & Sleep splits it into back, front and side sleepers. I am a bit of a hugger, face on pillow sleeper – not good for wrinkles! My husband is more of a sleep on his back (snoring) sleeper.

Luxury Hungarian Goose Down Duvet £73

Soak & Sleep pillow range with 20% off this week

The things that make it your bedroom

Art, pictures, scent – don’t forget to make your room your own but never too cluttered. Something I find so hard with the lack of space and bulging wardrobe but when I do get round to clearing the room and putting everything away (out of sight) it makes coming upstairs to sleep a much more relaxing experience.

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Enjoy getting your beauty sleep.

Ashley x

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Lets face it waking up at a leisurely pace is a thing of dreams once you decide to take on motherhood. Most mornings I am woken up by small cries of ‘Mummy I’m awake’ ‘Mummy Potty’ or ‘Mummy Sun’…. the third refers to the Gro Clock which I couldn’t be without – honestly so good. I wouldn’t really have it any other way, although I’ll groan and wish for half an hour more I love opening her bedroom door and seeing that birds nest of hair and little face staring at me, waiting full of anticipation for what the days going to bring. Caffeine is a must almost immediately so we stumble downstairs, she demands cereal whilst I put the kettle on and then we will both usually sit together and consumer two bowls, three on a  good day, of some sort of sugary breakfast crunch. I’ll then usually feel guilty and a bit sick vowing to eat healthily for the rest of the day but the sugar crash takes over and I am back at the biscuits come 10am. I do have healthy days, sometimes even healthy weeks, and I notice healthy eating goes hand in hand with healthy living – when I exercise I automatically think about what I eat rather than grabbing the quickest and closest thing there is. But it takes effort. And sometimes I just don’t have the inclination. So after a quick Instagram confession and a shout out to the other busy mums for their go-to healthy recipes I have compiled a menu of easy, quick and healthy breakfasts that should help us start the day as we mean to go on and give us that much needed energy.

When I am being healthy the three rules I stick by at breakfast time that work for me:

Hydrate – start the day with a large glass of water

Protein – if you can stomach it go for protein first thing and steer away from wheat

Avoid sugar

And my personal go-to healthy breakfasts:

Smashed avo on gluten free toast with chilli flakes and a drizzle of honey

Hard boiled egg (I make 4/5 in advance) with grilled bacon (sometimes also made in advance) and a drizzle of tabasco sauce

Quick two-egg omelette

RECIPES

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GLUTEN FREE PANCAKES –  The Londoner 

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • Sprinkle of blueberries (or chocolate chips if you’d rather, cheeky.)
  • Syrup/Bacon/Berries/Butter for serving (optional)

Start by mashing your bananas as smoothly as possible.

Beat in your egg and keep smoothing it out with a fork. You want it to be pretty smooth and lumpless, but don’t blend it or they’ll turn out flat.

Mix in your cinnamon and baking powder.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan with a little butter, pour out pancake sized puddles and top with blueberries.

Cook away on a medium heat until the tops start to bubble (just like regular pancakes). Flip them over and cook for another minute on this side.

When they’re cooked transfer to a plate with a paper towel on it, keep them somewhere warm while you quickly knock up the rest of the stack.

To serve, top with a little butter and some maple syrup.

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OVERNIGHT OATS – @tiny_folks

A hearty healthy breakfast packed with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients…… overnight oats in a jar (no cooking required)!
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or skim, soy)
  • 1/4 medium banana, sliced (freeze the rest for smoothies)
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 4-5 drops NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia (or your favorite sweetener)
  • pinch cinnamon
  1. Place all the ingredient in a jar, shake, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning, add your favorite crunchy toppings such as nuts, granola, etc and enjoy!

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Homemade muesli@popples_

Buy large packs from places like Holland & Barratt, of pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.  Mix them into Sainsburys Finest Jumbo Oats (they are robust and don’t go soggy like porridge oats)  Serve it with a seriously generous blob of yogurt and half a sliced banana (Popples is a romantic and shares with her husband) and some blueberries.

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Homemade cacoa granola@asnapshotofme

Dry ingredients: 2 cups organic porrige oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1 cup raw almonds and cashews (or any other nuts you like) 1/4 cup chia seeds
Wet ingredients:1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder, 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup light brown sugar.
Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl and the wet together in another. Then combine the 2, pour onto a large baking sheet and bake at 160 for 15 mins. Give it a mix and return for another 15 mins. Repeat once more then leave to cool. Once cooled store in an airtight container.

 

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