Category Archives: pilates

No time to get fit unless we make the time for it

Since becoming a mom, exercise for the sake of exercise has been relegated to the bottom of my sea of priorities. I had all sorts of ideas about how I would be staying fit while bonding with my little one:

Mom running with babe
Like this – But B always wanted OUT of the stroller when we went out!
moms-exercise-home
Or this – We tried this at home. Nice bonding, not much exercising though

After a lot of false starts, here’s how I finally got going:

FIND A MOTIVATION: I joined fellow Singapore Mom Bloggers (Angelia, Christy, Dee, Liz and Meiling) to sign up for the Great Eastern Women’s Run at year end. Running seemed to be the most accessible, effective and efficient form of cardio, indoors or outside, with limited to no equipment needed. The shortest race option of 5K seemed do-able as I’d covered this distance before … back then.  Lastly, November seemed far enough away to not panic. Yet.

SCHEDULE IT IN: “We won’t find time to get fit unless we make the time for it!” I realised I needed a set exercise routine as “something else” would always get in the way every time. So one Sunday night, I searched for “5K training plans for rusty out of shape beginners,” adapted them accordingly and came up with a simple, progressive plan which can hopefully be sustained beyond November.  This also helped me get right down to actually exercise rather than figure out “what” and “how” to do beforehand.

STAY REALISTIC AND CONSISTENT:  I’ve affectionately dubbed my weekly fitness efforts as the “Get in shape to survive a 5K race” plan.  It currently looks like this, with target frequency and duration:

1) Interval training (3x/week for 30 mins): Beginning with more jogging than running, evolving into more running than jogging, and eventually fartleks i.e. steady run, jog, then stride (short burst sprints) intervals. For starters, run at an easy pace for 1 min, jog to catch your breath for 4 mins, repeat until you hit your target distance or time.  The first time I tried this, I clocked in (cough) 2 km in 23 minutes at around 150-155 bpm. OK, I was distracted by the machine, fiddling with the cardio and interval options before deciding to just adjust the speed manually.  But obviously, it’s been a long time since I did much cardio, let alone “training” runs 🙂  As the weeks go by and intervals get more intensive, strength and endurance, speed and aerobic metabolism should improve. I hope!

Night at the gym
Nights at the gym – after I put the lil one to bed and before I continue any work at home

2) Strength training (2x/week for 45 mins):  Doing weight bearing activities and/or attending a weekly reformer pilates class enables me to balance cardio for aerobic health and metabolism with strength training for muscle building and bone density.

pilates WP_20140704_004
It may look easy but ….
Finding Humor in Fitness Terms
… it BURNS baby!

3) Cross training (1x/week for 30-45 mins): I’ve read that if we’re training to run, we should include other cardio activities (like swimming, elliptical, bike, climbing) to break the monotony of running, exercise new muscles and prevent injury.  Since those beginners plans listed this as optional, this pretty much only happens when I accompany my kid while he’s swimming or take the stairs instead of the lift 🙂

Swimming together

EXERCISE SMART:  Some tips for novice runners:
1) EAT a meal or healthy snack with sufficient water 2 hours before.  Drink 100 Plus (or sports drink) one hour after to hydrate. Get enough calcium (800-1000 ML per day) with magnesium, vitamins D and K for absorption.  Avoid access salt, alcohol and tobacco.
2) SUN is good, but too much isn’t. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a visor or cap.  It’s ironic how many folks are vitamin D deficient despite living in sunny Singapore so run in the early morning or late evening to catch some healthy rays if you can.
3) REST after your hardest workouts to reduce risk of injury. Rest at least 1 day prior to the race.  Warm up and cool down by walking ~5 mins before and after each run.  Don’t do major stretches before running, do it after or on non-running days.

Done reading this post? Time to get up, get out, get movin’!

getting ahead

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook. Linking up to share our journey to be fitter and healthier moms:

Next up is Toddly Mummy, a born-again drama-mama and creative extraordinaire, at least in EV’s and AA’s opinions. She has learnt that motherhood makes one discover talents one never expects one to have, all for the singular purpose of keeping the kids happy. A full-time-working mum, she spends evenings home learning and reading with her kids. On her blog, Toddly Mummy shares her thoughts on parenting, fun moments of home learning sessions and outdoor adventures.

Fit and Fab - Winnie

Special Review and Offer: PowerMoves Pilates Free Mat Trial (Worth S$55)

I’ve lived with lower back pain since my university days, when I had two bad falls – one on a mountain bike, and another while skiing.  For almost two decades, the pain would come and go, and at its most intense, I could be bedridden for a few hours as numbness sets in.  I tried all sorts of treatment: physiotherapy, painkillers, muscle relaxants, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and chiropractors.  However, years later, the occasional back pain would still be triggered by activities such as: Lugging my work laptop around client sites in Australia and Indonesia, vacationing in Southern Italy and South Africa where we constantly walked, trekked and biked around, and of course, during my third trimester and the newborn months.

I started attending PowerMoves Pilates In The Park four years ago because of their convenient location (Dempsey was near home), timing (beginners class right after work, before dinner) and ambience (beautiful, peaceful, natural surroundings). I moved to the pre-natal class from 17 to 37 weeks pregnant, and then rejoined regular classes about a month after delivering. I’m currently going for a blend of mat and reformer classes. Pilates has proven to be an effective, enjoyable and sustainable lifestyle solution for me. Over time, I find that I’ve developed (or post-pregnancy, regained) a smaller waistline, flatter abs and a stronger core which has helped protect my back and spine.  I can honestly say, it’s been a “me” activity I look forward to every week!

Pilates exercises emphasise control and resistance training – with moves that focus on core muscles in the “powerhouse” (abs, pelvic floor, lower back), proper alignment of the spine, and awareness of breath.  Working with mat comprises a series of floor exercises,  complemented with equipment like the magic circle, fit ball and free weights. Reformer involves the use of a resistance-based machine with springs and ropes for assistance. Exercises can be performed lying down on your back, side or front, sitting, kneeling or standing. On the surface, it might seem that not much is going on, but when you truly activate the powerhouse muscles, you will definitely break out in sweat as you feel your body lengthening and vibrating!

It’s also good to understand what PILATES IS NOT:
1) Pilates isn’t cardio.  Over time, pilates exercises will increase your lean muscle mass which helps your body burn more calories, even while you are at rest. In fact, “Cardio is great; but the second you hop off the bike or the treadmill, you stop burning calories. With Pilates, the second you’re done, you start burning calories.” However, if your primary goal is weight loss, then you still need to continue activities like brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming or dance, as well as any necessary diet adjustments.

2) Pilates isn’t yoga. Although both connect mind and body exercises, pilates is non-spiritual and takes a scientific approach. “The breathing is different – in Pilates, you pull your stomach in to build abdominal strength, while in Yoga you allow it to expand as you breathe. Pilates is about the body in motion, while Yoga entails holding the body in a variety of poses.”

PowerMoves Pilates today has 3 lovely garden studios –  Dempsey Hill, Rochester Park and Bishan Park, and has won accolades such as the 2014 SHAPE awards for Most Challenging Pilates Class & Most Mummy Friendly Pre-Natal Class, as well as Singapore Tatler’s 2014 Best of Singapore’s Pilates Studios, and Expat Living’s Most Beautiful and Beginner Friendly Pilates StudioThey like to say: In 10 sessions, you’ll feel the difference; in 20, you’ll see the difference; in 30, you’ll have a whole new body.  Want a leaner, firmer, fitter you? Take time out from the daily grind to take care of yourself!

For all of July, blog readers get a special complimentary trial mat class (worth S$55). Just contact them via phone or the online form HERE. State your preferred studio, day and time, and give them the code FINALLYMAMA to redeem.

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Week 26: Checking the checklists

The maternity checklists available these days give me a (temporary?) sense of sanity and progress about our baby/parent preparations, esp. with the pending 3rd trimester.  Time flies!  This week, I discovered a comprehensive pregnancy checklist from The Bump — part of the same umbrella site we used for our wedding 6+ years ago, The Knot. Pretty cool.

Notable checks for this week:

  1. Long term visit pass for parents – Application sent and under review.
  2. Accomodation for parents – Rental bid accepted. Letter of Intent received.
  3. Baby crib and mattress – Thanks, Kenny! 
  4. Newborn suits/hats/mits/booties/bibs/sleeping bags/blankets – Yay for friends, Mothercare and Kiddy Palace
  5. Upsized exercise tops, dresses and work pants – Sales at Vivocity, Novena and Marina Square 🙂
  6. Little one is ACTIVE.  Hmm… many sleepless nights and days ahead?

Our hospital antenatal class just finished part 1 of physiotherapy with the highlight being the massage section. Hubby now knows how to give great back massages. No more excuses 😉  Also, I have somehow developed the biggest bump in my prenatal pilates class.  How did this happen?!

Week 18

Happy Fathers’ Day weekend!  Hubby has been thinking more about his pending fatherhood. Pray that the start of our parenting journey together will be filled with joyful (and not too anxious!) preparation… 

Second trimester blood test results came back normal for the baby – hooray! I was diagnosed with Group B strep early on during the placenta tear scare so will follow up with the doc at our next checkup on this. I’ve finished the course of oral antibiotics so far, though we’ve also talked about another round via IV during labor.  Meanwhile, work has been keeping me busy and the rains (and nearby floods!) have kept me indoors, so prenatal pilates is proving to be my only regular exercise these days.  Rather enjoying the “support group” so far.

Food of the week: Tie between apple pork ribs soup and beef brisket claypot – served home-style at Manhill Restaurant in the company of good friends.

Week 17a

Hubby’s been complaining of the heat so this week’s soup is especially for him:  绿豆汤 – green bean / mung bean soup, served chilled.  Since our babymoon, I’ve also decided to swim more (when it stops raining, that is) now that our condo pool is finally “fixed.” I do feel quite self-conscious about my body lately though – definitely look forward to start my prenatal pilates class on Monday!

Meanwhile, received a confirmation email for our childbirth education classes in August (starting week 24 onwards).  The Parentcraft Centre also included details on confinement nannies trained by the hospital plus home delivery/catering options.  Gotta admit the sample menu (see below) looks terribly UN-appetizing even if it’s 100% nutritious for recovering moms.  Maybe I can convince folks to join me on those liver/kidney/ginger days – misery loves company, right? =8