Never in your life, do you appreciate the value of sleep more than when you have a newborn baby. I haven’t had a straight night sleep for the last 14 weeks and I still wonder from time to time why I feel lethargic, unmotivated or why I can only see the glass half empty despite my normal positive outlook. The answer is so simple, I miss it every time: sleep! When you are recharged and rested, the world looks differently and what’s more you are able to make better decisions. There are millions of formulas to achieve more and better, but to improve your health and have success: get more sleep. Better still, really unwind prior to going to sleep by reading or perhaps lsitening to music and you will find that your sleep quality improves. It may seem that you are taking valuable hours out of your busy day, but instead you will improve your productivity immensely. Doing more is defintely not always better. Press that pause button, rest and see things with fresh eyes in the morning.
If -like me- you have a newborn to attend to then the only solution may be to go to bed a little earlier or simply catch some sleep whenever you can. If you have trouble sleeping, try stretching (yoga) or meditation before going to bed and play some relaxing music. Have some definite “switching off time” before you consider going to bed and make the place where you sleep a “a sanctuary”, a nice place away from clutter, work and commitments. People tend to show off about how little sleep they got to demonstrate how busy they are, but ultimately you will always be more productive, motivated and effective when you have had more sleep rather than less.
Have a look at the 4 minute talk of Arianna Huffington on www.ted.com which puts it in great perspective.
Over the years the most burning question on people’s lips when talking about physical fitness, has always been “how can I get a flat stomach?” Often people are filled with assumptions and myths about this topic, like “you either have a flat stomach or not”, or “if you have had a baby it’s impossible to get your flat tummy back” or “doing sit ups will create a flat stomach”. This blog piece will give you some information and simple tips so you can start caring for your tummy muscles to create a flat stomach.
Firstly, the muscles that we are talking about are the abdominal muscles, although many refer to them as stomach muscles. The stomach is an organ and aside from filling it modestly with nutritious foods, you really do not want to work that stomach in any other way. The abdominal muscles cover the front of the body and most importantly they allow you to bend the trunk and they work in synergy with the back muscles in order to protect your lower spine.
Many people these days have sedentary jobs, which means that they sit for hours a day. As a result many suffer lower back problems and pain due to lack of activity and weak abdominal muscles. Whilst sitting at a desk there is no need for you to contract or control your abdominal muscles in any way and often people slouch in their chairs exacerbating the problem. People in professions who stand for long periods of time, or need to lift, or mums who carry their children are all at risk of lower back problems and postural injuries. The body wasn’t meant to sit/stand in the same position for long periods of time. Add to that mounting stress that many people experience, all contributing to tense muscles and tired bodies. It is essential to have a postural awareness and work postural muscles especially the abdominal/tummy muscles in order to prevent injury.
Often people have told me that they do a few sit ups a day or they tell me excitedly that they manage to do 100 sit ups in one go. The sit up is a difficult exercise to get right technique wise, but quite aside from that there is no point in doing excessive sit ups if your posture is poor. So to begin with (and you can do this almost immediately), you need to build some postural awareness.
Caring for your tummy muscles to create a flat stomach takes time and patience. It isn’t something you can do occasionally, but something you need to exercise every day and all day. It doesn’t require exercise equipment or a gym, but mindfulness and awareness. Place reminders all over the place until it becomes second nature, or tell a friend to point it out if you have bad posture.
I will go into abdominal exercises in a further post, but as aforementioned they will have little effect until you have a real awareness of your posture and corrected any issues with it.
If you –like me- just had a baby, then take it easy to start with. It has taken 9 months for your body to change completely, so do not expect thing to ping back into place overnight. In fact by pushing and by being impatient you could do more harm than good. When your body indicates that it’s ready then follow the above mentioned tips to re-address your posture and find your core stability again. Be patient, but take care of yourself when lifting your baby and when you are feeding or carrying the baby. Those are all good opportunities to pull those muscles in to protect the lower back, whilst waking up those tummy muscles.
Good luck. More abdominal tips to come!