Archive | April, 2012

Nutrient Content of Coconut Water Versus Gatorade

6 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy, London, UK.

Nutrient Content of Coconut Water Versus Gatorade

As a huge fan of Bikram Yoga, I first came across avid consumption of coconut water after attending the extremely dehyrating classes and of course I needed to know why it was considered such an exlir ;-).  I am a self-confessed science nerd!  In his awesome book, Superfoods, David Wolf (did you see him on the viral documentary about food & nutrition recently?) gives an amusing demonstration of the power of keeping it natural when considering your hyration and recovery drinks after strenuous exercise.  I think the case for making the ‘natural choice’ is made pretty clear here!  Anyway, I NEVER trusted those blue energy drinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Coconut Water

Sugar g 5.33 3.71
Dietary Fibre g 0 1.1
Calcium mg 1 24
Iron mg 0.20 0.29
Magnesium mg 1 25
Phosphorus mg 9 20
Potassium mg 14 250
Sodium mg 39 105
Zinc mg 0.26 0.10
Copper mg 0.25 0.04
Manganese mg 0.05 0.142
Selenium mcg 0.0 1
Fluoride mcg 34 Trace
Vitamin C mg 0.4 2.4
Thiamin mg 0.011 0.030
Niacin mg 0.22 0.08
Pantothenic Acid mg 0.055 0.043
Vitamin B6 mg 0.022 0.032
Folate mcg 0.0 3
Amino Acids (Building Blocks of Protein) mg 0.0 785

Adapted from: Superfoods by David Wolf – North Atlantic Books 2009. – Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

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Why/How Vibration Training Works for the Post Natal Client

6 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons) – Founder of Burrell Education, London, UK , REPs Endorsed
Modern Pregnancy & Post Natal Fitness Education

Just over a week to go til the UK’s Top Fitness Convention, here’s a taster of one of my presentations in partnership with Power Plate International UK. 

As a fitness professional and educator with over a decade of experience providing fitness and therapy solutions for the Pregnant and Post Natal client and my peers, I think I can safely say that the world of fitness education and training principles for the Post Natal client has finally caught up the rest of the game-changing developments occurring in fitness right now.  And just as well, because even if we aren’t parents ourselves, we all have some insight into just how tough being a mom can be on both body and soul and these women need safe, sound and highly effective fitness strategies to get them back into their grooves.

Mothering a new baby is a tough job, requiring the constant lifting and carrying of an ever-increasing weight (the weight of a newborn is averaged at 3.5kg and rising) not to mention the countless squats, lunges, pulls, pushes, rotations and bends-to-extends performed throughout an extremely long ‘working day’ – I also hear that the pay’s not so great either!

New moms have the work-rate of high level athletes but unfortunately, in the wake of childbirth, many find themselves severely lacking in the energy, vitality and functional strength (especially with regards to their core and pelvic floor) to perform well in their ‘sport’.

What do moms returning to exercise want/need?  In my experience and in no particular order a typical checklist during an Initial Consultation usually looks like this:

  1. More energy and to feel good again!
  2. A solution for a ‘leaky’ pelvic floor
  3. Core strength restoration and a better looking mid-section
  4. FAT LOSS!  ( Actually, this is usually No. 1)
  5. A metabolism/hormonal re-boot
  6. Improved muscle strength and tone
  7. Functional fitness for their demanding day
  8. A ‘bang-for-buck’ workout – as short as possible and highly effective without leaving them drained

So how can the Power Plate serve the Post Natal client?  If you are new to the concept of Whole Body Vibration Training (WBV) – in basic terms – when WBV is incorporated into an exercise session, both target and non-target musculature is stimulated unconsciously by the multi-directional vibrating plate and the vibration is absorbed at hugely increased speeds of between 30-50 times per second. This leads to a highly significant rise in muscle contraction and fitness gains without the traditional increase in loading (ie., lifting a progressively heavier weights).  This major factor creates the potential for a shorter workout compared with traditional land-based training.

So, let’s start with the leaky Pelvic Floor – the very act of carrying the ever-increasing weight of growing baby let alone the process of a vaginal birth means that practically all women are in need of focussed work and strategies to firstly reconnect them to their pelvic floor musculature before improving its strength and function.  Enter……Whole Body Vibration.  In the simplest terms, WBV also includes the musculature of the Pelvic Floor and the simple act of standing on a vibrating platform has the same effect on Pelvic Floor muscles as it does the rest of the body.  In tests, both the baseline activity level (just standing on the Plate without performing Kegels) of Pelvic Floor muscles were significantly increased as well as the strength of Kegel muscle contractions when performed on the Plate.  Clients also reported and increased ablility to ‘connect’ with their Pelvic Floor muscles – a huge and vital accomplishment for many.  This is due to the stimulus provided by WBV to the nerves serving the Pelvic Floor musculature and its outlets,  predominantly the Pudendal nerve.  The vital work that can be achieved with the Power Plate to help clients re-establish contact with their Pelvic Floor and the rest of their core shouldn’t be underestimated.  For many clients this period of post birth incontinence can be extremely distressing and for many a formal, easy-to-do exercise programme that is adhered to can provide the solution to an embarrassing problem.  The take-home here, is just get the client onto the Plate and the magic will begin even without performing Kegels!

Next up, core strength restoration and a better-looking mid-section.  If you already use the Plate, you probably have a repertoire of core strength exercises that are suitable for the general client population, so how do you create similar solutions for the Post Natal client with stretched and (in the case of the C-Section client) severely traumatized musculature, ligaments and fascia.  There are a few key principles to follow:

First the clients’ core strength needs to be fully assessed.  This involves a verbal screening for post birth changes in sensation and function and if possible (for early returners to exercise) viewing the C-Section scar to ensure full external healing.  The client then needs to be checked for Rectus Diastasis (Distension).  For all pregnancies, it’s a totally natural phenomenon, the mid-line of the abdominals with the Linea Alba at the surface has to stretch to accommodate the growing baby and after birth, its return to normal strength, tension and function takes time.  In the case of the C-Section birth, the midline has been cut and separated in order to gain access to the uterus to allow birthing.  After the uterus is sutured, THE MIDLINE TISSUES ARE NOT and only the outer layer of skin and underlying soft tissue is sutured.  The key point here is that during the early days of healing (until at least 6 months Post Natal) care has to be taken to avoid performing inappropriate abdominal and whole body exercises that increase intra-abdominal pressure and consequently pressure to an already weakened and healing midline.  Inappropriate activity at this time can lead to lingering issues with core strength due to an obstinate separation of the Rectus Abdominis and other underlying abdominal muscles and back/pelvic pain later down the line.  So, what does core training look like on the Plate?

After categorising the clients’ core strength according to level of any Diastasis found, the exercises below were created to provide stimulus for superficial and deep muscles of the core including Pelvic Floor and the lumbar muscles and associated fascia.

Resistance Band Deadlifts

In the flexed-hip, neutral spine position, the client is asked to contract TVA.   The abdominals are challenged by a combination of factors: resisting gravity, TVA activation and unconscious stimulation via WBV.  The vibration also provides unconscious work for the Pelvic Floor muscles.  Additionally, the resisted bend-to-extend pattern of the ‘Deadlift’, fires the core by providing work specifically for the Lumbar Multifidus, Erector Spinae muscles and Thoracic Fascia.



Isometric Handle Pushes

An entry-level exercises for the early PN client.  While maintaining a neutral spine and TVA activation, isometric double-handed presses are coached while the client maintains optimal breathing (exhale – TVA activated – PF lifted).  This simple move provide great stimulation for the whole hoop of the core (including the Pelvic Floor).  Reducing stability by performing this exercise on one leg, also increase challenge.  The simplicity of these exercises allows space for the client to ‘reconnect’ with her whole core and the trainer to coach the finer points of a reconnection strategy.


Ab-Scooping, Pelvic Tilts and Kegels

This move combines the core muscles resisting the effects of gravity in the prone position, the synergist relationship between TVA activation and Pelvic Floor and  the ‘switching on’ of Pelvic floor through pelvic tilting whilst adding a simultaneous Kegel contraction.  Sound a little complicated but with great coaching the client will be successful and feel incredibly connected to her whole core.  As the pelvis is moved into the neutral position and the client usually reports pelvic floor activation (heightened by vibration), she is also coached to perform a simultaneous Kegel contraction. If this last part of the exercise isn’t possible, no worry as the PF muscles still receive great stimulation via the vibration.  This exercise is not suitable for clients with a Diastasis or those who are unable to maintain ‘scooped abdominals’ in this prone position…remember, any bulging – stop – the client is not strong enough yet.


Plate Crunch and Kick-Back

A crunch but not as you know it!  Here we are performing Rectus Abdominis flexion and extension in the prone kneeling position.  The client is coached to activate TVA throughout and the trainer helps the client truly visualise the concentric and eccentric phases of the exercise as the knee is brought in and then the leg is extended out.  Again, vibration creates extra stimulation to the whole core and greatly accelerates the benefits and results of this exercise.  The version shows extra resistance being added via the cable.  An entry level client would work without added resistance.  This exercise is not suitable for clients with a Diastasis or those who are unable to maintain ‘scooped abdominals’ in this prone position…remember, any bulging – stop – the client is not strong enough.  Also fabulous work for reconditioning the glutes – vital for promoting pelvic stabily and optimal posture.



The ‘Campbell Crunch’

This static four point floating box position can be regressed back to six points by adding a step platform close the plate onto which the knees rest in between work periods.  The client is coached to contract TVA (working the prone core against gravity). When performing the entry level version of this exercise, the client is coached to lift and lower the knees (each move being held for approximately 2 seconds).  This exercise can easily be progressed by asking the client to hold the elevated position for longer or by also incorporating palm lifts or leg extensions to reduce stability and increase challenge.

Kneeling Resisted Scapular Retraction

Fabulous move for improving core and thoracic strength.  In the hip flexed position, the client is coached to maintain TVA activiation with an optimal breathing strategy (see above).  She is then asked to draw the band apart creating work for typically deconditioned thoracic mommy muscles.  Not as easy as it looks!

In the arena of promoting fat loss, a metabolic/hormonal re-boot, improved muscle strength and tone and time-efficient fitness the Plate really comes into it’s own:

‘Following acute exposure to WBV training, there are several positive dynamic responses in the body’s endocrine system.  These hormonal responses constitute a powerful benefit to all types of exercise programmes.  Research has documented that subsequent to acceleration training, anabolic hormones are enhanced:  human growth hormone is multiplied, free testosterone rises, Serotonin levels increase and Cortisol is reduced.  Strength gains are amplified and the sense of wellbeing is enhanced and subjects achieve results more efficiently than with many forms of conventional training.  The endocrine responses from acceleration training promote balance in the autonomic nervous system, and beneficially impact growth, recovery and regeneration, creating the environment for positive change.’  (Adapted from Handbook of Acceleration Training, Science, Principles and Benefits).

The typical Post Natal client presents initially for exercise with lingering hormonal imbalance (heavy on the Oestrogens that are ‘fat increasing’) low on the lean muscle-building hormones.  Exercising at the optimal thresholds (ie., rest-based anaerobic training) can be extremely valuable in helping to normalize this imbalance alongside the positive effect of WBV.  Cortisol over-production is also another huge factor in the Post Natal clients’ fat storage issue (especially in the abdominal area) and her ability to metabolise fat as a source of energy.  With naturally elevated levels of Cortisol during Pregnancy still lingering into the Post Natal period caused by random sleep patterns and the possible stress of managing a newborn infant, any exercise modality that helps to reduce rather than raise Cortisol levels is obviously a huge bonus.  The brevity of exercise sessions 20-30 mins is also a huge bonus in the war against elevating Cortisol too.

The Plate also lends itself perfectly to performing rest-based interval training – the optimal tool for promoting Post Natal fat loss especially for the time poor.  A 20-25 minute workout is the foundation of this system of training.  If performed with the optimal exercise combinations most clients will feel more than sufficiently challenged by a workout of this length.  Also, levels of Serotonin, one of our feel-good hormones is also increased leading to a feeling of well-being which is surely the ultimate aim for both trainer and client.  We all want clients to return for sessions because the last one made them feel goooooood!

The cherry on the cake comes in ability of the trainer to utilise the Plate to train the full range of functional movement patterns that will serve a mother in her daily life.  Training in movement patterns as opposed to isolated muscle groups provides greater ‘real-life’ strength gains for the whole body including the core but most interestingly on the Pelvic Floor muscles!  In tests carried out  (using a vaginal EMG probe),  Pelvic Floor muscle activation was measured when performing standard and multi-planar functional lower body movements and the results were extremely impressive.  In summary it was found that leg adduction, abduction, squatting, jumping, lunging in multiple planes (especially frontal and transverse) all produced greater EMG readings than then humble Kegel!  THE PELVIC FLOOR THRIVES ON MOVEMENT!  The relationship between the deep adductors and abductors and both the fascia and musculature of the Pelvic Floor and pelvic basin all contribute to this increase activity alongside the creation of a stretch reflex during wide-legged movements such as squatting.  Other factors such as a neutral pelvic position and the synergistic relationship of Pelvic Floor muscles with TVA also have a role to play in accentuating muscular activation and the ability for the Post Natal client to re-connect to her PF muscles.

So in summary, let’s briefly return to that Post Natal Initial Consultation checklist:

  1. More energy and to feel good again! CHECK
  2. A solution for a ‘leaky’ pelvic floor – CHECK
  3. Core strength restoration and a better looking mid-section – CHECK
  4. FAT LOSS!  ( Actually, this is usually No. 1) – CHECK
  5. A metabolism/hormonal re-boot – CHECK
  6. Improved muscle strength and tone – CHECK
  7. Functional fitness for their demanding day – CHECK
  8. A ‘bang-for-buck’ workout – as short as possible and highly effective without leaving them drained – CHECK

All in all, I hope this article has given you some insight into the wide-ranging benefits of incorporating WBV into your training programmes for the Post Natal client.  It’s positive aspects are pretty impressive and it delivers huge bang-for-buck every time and on every level for both the trainer and the clients. Never forget, we’re in the results game and successful clients are the bed-rock of successful businesses.

References, Further Reading & Education Resources

  1. Handbook of Acceleration Training – Science, Principles & Benefits, G Van der Meer, E Zeinstra, J Tempelaars, S Hopson, Power Plate International, 2007.
  2. Post Natal Assessment and Exercise Prescription, REPs Endorsed, 1 – Day CPD Workshop, J Burrell, Burrell Education, 2007. (Available via PtontheNet Box Office)
  3. Power Plate Post Natal Assessment and Exercise Prescription, 1-Day CPD Workshop, J Burrell, Burrell Education & Power Plate International, 2009. (Available via PtontheNet Box Office)
  4. Therapeutic Exercise for Lumbopelvic Stabilization, C Richardson, P Hodges, J Hides, 2ndEdition, Churchill Livingstone, 2004.
    1. Functional Digest Series, Volume 3.3, The Pelvic Floor, Gary Gray, 2003.
    2. Fitness for the Pelvic Floor, Beate Carriere, Thieme, 2002.
    3. Pelvic Power, E Franklin, Elysian Editions, Princeton Book Company. 2002.
    4. The Crunchless Core DVD,, 2010.


Before considering any exercise session with the Post Natal client using a vibration platform, the fitness professional should be both certified as a Pre/Post Natal specialist and have undergone a foundation level of education for the use of vibration platforms with this and the general population.  Fitness professionals are also advised to carry out a full pre-exercise assessment specific to this client group before commencing any physical activity in order to create safe and bespoke exercise prescription specific to the clients’ needs.

Jenny Burrell is founder of Burrell Education (, a REPs Licensed Education Provider based in London.  Burrell Education specializes in Pre/Post Natal Fitness and Massage Therapy Education.  Jenny also runs her own Pre/Post Natal fitness and therapy practice in West London.  Jenny is the author of the Power Plate Post Natal Certification and lectures at the UK Academy in London – Please check for dates of Power Plate Post Natal Certification Courses.

My Top 2 EASY Social Media Books and More

4 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy, London, UK.

PS., I’m reblogging this post as I am fairly pleased with myself 🙂 My intention at the beginning of the year was to blog and read more…I’ve published 40 blogs so far so feel like I’ve been successful at establishing a habit.  Actually it does get easier once you get into a groove.  I remember listening to some good advice on an audio book while walking the dog and the author said – YOU’VE GOT TO BE ADDING SOMETHING VALUABLE TO THE CONVERSATION…..I hope I am !

PPS., If you use WordPress like me, I hope you know that you can schedule a whole week of blogs at once or on a Sunday night like I did this week and take the strain out of staying connected!

Happy New Year to you all!!!  Super stoked to start 2012!  In great health at last and with a head and heart full of energy for our brilliant profession and all the plans that I have for this brand new year.  So without further ado, I’ll tick off two daily jobs on my NEW YEARS RESOLUTION LIST…..READ DAILY & BLOG MORE! Voila!

Oooh it comes to us all!!!  Nevermind just being on Facebook and Twitter, I really needed to understand how they worked and how to maximise social media prescence without wasting time staring at various screens for the best part of the day so I did a little research and found the first two  books, both are awesome as explaining the ‘HOW TO DO’ and the ‘WHY’ and how to knit it all together time-efficiently.

Then stumbled across this little gem and literally ready it in one sitting then started again!!!  Perfect for these fiscally conscious time, I’m loving austerity, being creative and seeing how far a little brain power combined with elbow grease gets me ;-).

Lastly, fresh back from South America and having drunk Acai slush puppies in Brazil and felt crazy gooooood and smuggled home fresh Maca powder from Cusco. I’m re-reading this little gem and I’ve gotten busy making my OWN GREEN DRINK POWDER with great results.  I’ll blog my recipe shortly.  (I did, it’s in the archive)

Keep it passionate and remember, mediocrity is a sin!  Go BOLD or GO HOME!

Jenny X

Train Women? Read These Books!

4 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy Education, London, UK.

1. Fat Around the Middle – Marilyn Glenville – easy to read and understand. Great for clients who really need to get the message that STRESS is making and keeping them fat!

2.  The Female Body Breakthrough – Rachel Cosgrove – a kick ass text, she tells it how it is and shows you how to get blinding results from pretty easy to do changes in nutrition and beefing up your workouts (not so easy:-) – a personal favourite.

3.  From Belly Fat to Belly Flat – Dr CW Randolph – great if you have clients who are pre or currently menopausal and just can’t seem to shift the fat, especially from around their mid-section.  Some tough love here but I guess the mantra is ‘want something different, got to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!  I personally, followed this book to help me with my Oestrogen dominance issues.

4.  Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom – Dr. Christianne Northrup – my ‘women’s business’ bible!  Even Oprah has a copy permanently by her bedside.  If you train women, get this!!!!!

5.  Pregnancy & Childbirth – A Holistic Approach to Massage and Bodywork – Suzanne Yates – I studies with Suzanne and was massively inspired.  A beautiful, sentient book, my bodywork bible.

6.  Anatomy and Physiology for Midwives – Coad with Dunstall – one of the major texts on the reading list for student midwives in the UK.  Heavy on the science but what did you expect? 😉

7.  Optimum Nutrition, Before, During and After Pregnancy – Patrick Holford – Does what it says on the tin from the ever-on-it Mr. Holford.

8.  Fitness for the Pelvic Floor – Beate Carriere – Foundation text.  Period! (Pardon the pun!)

9.  The Metabolic Effect Diet – Jade & Keoni Teta – BIG, BIG SCIENCE MADE SIMPLE!  The Teta brothers rock!  Got stubborn fat all of a sudden?  They’ll help you understand what’s going on and fix it, dramatically!

10.  Balancing Hormones Naturally – Kate Neil & Patrick Holford – Again, does what it says on the tin.  Great advcie and strategies for regaining endocrine balance.

Passionate Pregnancy & Post Natal Health, Fitness & Therapy Education – FOREVER!

Habits – A Great Excerpt From a Great Book

2 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist REPs Endorsed Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness& Therapy Education, London, UK.


A good one for those of us with clients who find it difficult to imagine changing their lives for the better – FOREVER!

A wise teacher was taking a stroll through the forest with a young pupil and
stopped before a tiny tree.

“Pull up that sapling,” the teacher instructed his pupil, pointing to a
sprout just coming up from the earth. The youngster pulled it up easily with his
fingers. “Now, pull up that one,” said the teacher, indicating a more
established sapling that had grown to about knee high to the boy. With little
effort, the lad yanked and the tree came up, roots and all. “And now this one,”
said the teacher, nodding toward a more well-developed evergreen that was as
tall as the young pupil. With great effort, throwing all his weight and strength
into the task, using sticks and stone he found to pry up the stubborn roots, the
boy finally got the tree loose.

“Now,” the wise one said, “I’d like you to pull this one up.” The young boy
followed the teacher’s gaze, which fell upon a mighty oak so tall the boy could
scarcely see the top. Knowing the great struggle he’d just had pulling up the
much smaller tree, he simply told his teacher, “I am sorry, but I can’t.”

“My son, you have just demonstrated the power that habits will have over your
life!” the teacher exclaimed. “The older they are, the bigger they get, the
deeper the roots grow, and the harder they are to uproot. Some get so big, with
roots so deep, you might hesitate to even try.”

Creatures of Habit
Aristotle wrote, “We are what we
repeatedly do.” Merriam-Webster defines habit this way: “an acquired
mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”

There’s a story about a man riding a horse, galloping quickly. It appears
that he’s going somewhere very important. A man standing along the roadside
shouts, “Where are you going?” The rider replies, “I don’t know. Ask the horse!”
This is the story of most people’s lives; they’re riding the horse of their
habits, with no idea where they’re headed. It’s time to take control of the
reins and move your life in the direction of where you really want to go.

If you’ve been living on autopilot and allowing your habits to run you, I
want you to understand why. And I want you to let yourself off the hook. After
all, you’re in good company. Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of
everything we feel, think, do and achieve is a result of a learned habit! We’re
born with instincts, of course, but no habits at all. We develop them over time.
Beginning in childhood, we learned a series of conditioned responses that led us
to react automatically (as in, without thinking) to most situations.

In your day-to-day life, living “automatically” has its definite positives.
If you had to consciously think about every step of each ordinary task—making
breakfast, driving the kids to school, getting to work, and so on—your life
would grind to a halt. You probably brush your teeth twice a day on autopilot.
There’s no big philosophical debate; you just do it. You strap on your seatbelt
the minute your butt hits the seat. No second thoughts. Our habits and routines
allow us to use minimal conscious energy for everyday tasks. They help keep us
sane and enable us to handle most situations reasonably well. And because we
don’t have to think about the mundane, we can focus our mental energy on more
creative and enriching thoughts. Habits can be helpful—as long as they’re good
habits, that is.

If you eat healthfully, you’ve likely built healthy habits around the food
you buy and what you order at restaurants. If you’re fit, it’s probably because
you work out regularly. If you’re successful in a sales job, it’s probably
because your habits of mental preparation and positive self-talk enable you to
stay optimistic in the face of rejection.

I’ve met and worked with many great achievers, CEOs and “superstars,” and I
can tell you they all share one common trait: They all have good
habits. That’s not to say they don’t have bad habits—they do. But not many. A
daily routine built on good habits is the difference that separates the most
successful amongst us from everyone else. And doesn’t that make sense? From what
we’ve already discussed, you know successful people aren’t necessarily more
intelligent or more talented than anyone else. But their habits take them in the
direction of becoming more informed, more knowledgeable, more competent,
better-skilled and better-prepared.

My dad used Larry Bird as an example to teach me about habits when I was a
kid. “Larry Legend” is known as one of the greatest professional basketball
players, but he wasn’t known for being the most athletically talented player.
Nobody would have described Larry as “graceful” on the basketball court. Yet,
despite his limited natural athletic ability, he led the Boston Celtics to three
world championships and remains one of the best players of all time. How did he
do it?

It was Larry’s habits—his relentless dedication to practice and to improve
his game. Bird was one of the most consistent free-throw shooters in the history
of the NBA. Growing up, his habit was to practice five hundred free-throw shots
every morning before school. With that kind of discipline, Larry made the most
of his God-given talents and kicked the butts of some of the most “gifted”
players on the court.

Like Larry Bird, you can condition your automatic and unconscious response to
be those of a developed champion. This chapter is about choosing to make up for
what you lack in innate ability with discipline, hard work and good habits. It’s
about becoming a creature of champion habits.

With enough practice and repetition, any behavior, good or bad, becomes
automatic over time. That means that even though we developed most of our habits
unconsciously (by modeling our parents, responding to environmental or cultural
associations, or creating coping mechanisms), we can consciously decide to
change them. It stands to reason that since you learned every habit you have,
you can also unlearn the ones that aren’t serving you well.

This article was excerpted from SUCCESS magazine Publisher
Darren Hardy’s new book,
The Compound Effect: Multiplying Your Results. One
Simple Step at a Time. To order the book or the complete six-CD enhanced
audio program, go to While you’re there, you can read a
free chapter from the book, sample the enhanced audio program, take the Life
Assessment Quiz, download free worksheets that’ll help you discover your core
values, take a habit assessment and more.

Why Fat Loss May Be Harder For Your Breastfeeding Clients

2 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist REPs Endorsed Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness& Therapy Education, London, UK.

What do women want on their return to exercise after having their babies?

  • Fatloss?
  • Energy?
  • A better looking  & functioning belly?
  • A non-leaky pelvic floor?
  • Rest?

With over a decade of experience working with this client population, the tools and strategies to tackle all of these areas have never been more effective, plentiful and easy to implement.

1.  Let’s start with post baby fat loss.  A bit of a tricky subject if you’re not able to get with the science.  There are a few key factors why post baby clients hold fat:

  • The heightened Cortisol during pregnancy, remains high after birth and this situation is not helped by the added stressors of the early post birth period, poor sleep patterns and for some, the hormonal influence on fat stores perpetuated by on-going breast feeding.  It’s a complexed subject but here Jade Teta of the Metabolic effect succinctly explains one of the mysteries of why many women DO NOT lose fat when they breastfeed unless perhaps you are Victoria Beckham or Abbey Clancey :-)!
  • The next key area of the post baby fat loss conundrum is EXERCISE INTENSITY.  I could write forever on this but basically, the magic bullet for blitzing fat stores is INTENSITY NOT TIME!  Unfortunately, most people don’t like to get uncomfortable (literally and metaphorically) so rarely go there!  Unfortunately, discomfort is a vital key to effective exercising in shorter sessions that have huge fat burning/hormonal shifting potential for HOURS AFTER YOUR ACTUAL EXERCISE SESSION!   Here are the generally accepted key elements of a metabolism boosting, fat busting session:

a)       It’s short 20-30 mins maximum

b)      Contains compound, integrated, functional movement – no individual ‘body-part’ exercising here! OK, may just bi’s and tri’s 😉 firm arms mean the world to us girls!

c)       The exercise makes you sweat

d)      The exercise makes your muscles burn

e)      You get out of breath

f)       You get hot

g)      You push yourself ie., get a little uncomfortable

h)      You don’t over-rest within the training period

The third component of successful post baby fat loss is Optimum Re-Nutrition.  Pregnancy, birthing through to the early post birth period is a time of depletion for the mother.  When the dust has settled, a key consideration is to re-nourish the body, replenishing depleted stores of essential vitamins and minerals that ensure her system regains balance and functions optimally.  Many clients have no idea of the positive nutritional potency of many everyday foodstuffs and conversely how harmful to health many  foods in their current diet are too – mainly those that come in packets!  These days it really seems that we’ve finally nailed it!  We have a long-term formula that actually works in terms of health, wellbeing, offsetting later life disease and helping us to consistently shed and keep fat off.  Basically it boils down to:  Get rid of, or at the very least CONSISTENTLY LIMIT the C.R.A.P  in our diets– starchy carbohydrates and grains,  refined foods and to be honest any sugar, alcohol and processed/packaged foods.  Following these protocols will have a transformational effect on your clients’ energy, wellbeing and fat loss potential.  Insulin is the master hormone for fat loss and once you get out of the sugar-trap, the results are amazing but for a lot of people a diet consisting mainly of restricted quantities of carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and selected fruit is challenging….that is, until they see the fat falling away.  Based on my own personal and client experience, I created a cut and paste Post Baby Fat Loss manual that you can plug into your business almost automatically to establish your own system for POST BABY FAT LOSS THROUGH OPTIMUM NUTRTION.

  Check out the contents here:

2.  Energy – Short, energising exercise session, a great diet, some key supplementation (high quality multivit, essential fats), good hydration and a dedicated strategy for resting as much as possible and not trying to be superwoman during this challenging life phase will go a long way to ensuring that your mommy has hugely improved energy levels.  Top tip:  If funds permit, suggest to clients that they find someone to help with the big cleaning jobs a few hours a week can be transformational and probably not far off the price of the 2 bottles of wine they won’t be consuming per week anymore.

3.  A better looking and functioning belly & core.  OK, second only to Pelvic Floor issues ‘OMG, look at my belly!’ is the sentence that I hear uttered the most often.  Indeed,  after  at least 6 months of skin, fascia and muscles being stretched and the curious and annoying development of cellulite on the deflated tummy not to mention the dreaded stretch marks, the return journey back to a flat or at least half decent tummy isn’t always as smooth and rapid as most moms hoped it would be.  Also for many, Diastasis (the separation of the two bellies of the rectus abdominis alongside a flaccid and weakened mid-line tissue) adds an extra dimension to a difficult restorative period.  The final annoyance comes in the form of C-Section recovery which, I REALLY GET NOW!  (I managed to have 2 C-Sections  – only 12 months apart!).  Not only is C-Section blooming painful in the early days – you are left challenged to perform the simplest of tasks (bending over to put knickers and socks on!!!!) but then when you start to feel stronger after a few months and lift a heavy object , wear high heels or stay on your feet all day, the gift of an achy scar pointedly reminds you that the healing process still has a way to go.  Below are 3 core-restore exercises that I used on myself, and in my programmes with clients that I’ve found to be extremely effective and with clients with their core strength assessed to be at Level 2 or above ( Level 2 = 2 finger or under distension with still weakened midline unable to withstand significant intra-abdominal pressure continuously).

 Kneeling Scapular Retraction & Abdominal Scooping

Looks simple but there’s a lot’s going on here.  This exercise is great for activating the lumbar and thoracic musculature/fascia.  Holding the kneeling hip flexion position ‘turns’ on this musculature and fascia from lumbar to the thoracic back, whilst simultaneously performing scapular retraction by pulling the band wide further activates deconditioned thoracic musculature.  TVA/PF activation occurs as the client aims to withstand the pull of gravity on her abdominals by activating TVA and its synergist PF. Suitable for Levels 2, 3 & 4 clients.  If the client is unable to activate TVA she works, and experiences a bulging of her abdominals, this position is too advanced for her.  You can regress this exercise by performing it in a standing position (still with knees bent and in hip flexion) to reduce the effect of gravity on still weakened abdominal muscles and midline.  Here this exercise is shown being performed on a Power Plate.  The principles of Whole Body Vibration accelerate this brilliant exercise, taking it to another level but is still highly effective when performed on the ground.  The settings are 30-30-Low.  (Please seek advice from a certified experienced Power Plate Trainer if you are not certified to use this equipment with Post Natal clients).

Assisted Heel Drops and Heel Slides

One for the Pilates massive! – I teach this in the ‘flat back’ or ‘imprint’ lumbar position for the PN client to off-set and de-train her anterior tilted pelvis and to assist in lengthening shortened lumbar musculature and fascia.  The flat back also ensures that the lengthened abdominals are being re-strengthened in a shortened position (the anterior tilted pelvis and Pregnancy has lengthened the muscles and tissues).   Client gently holds her knees as she works, ensuring the at TVA activation and the lumbar position is maintained throughout.  As the client progresses, the hands can be placed on the floor as she works.  NB: You might find that early returning C-Section clients might first need to start with HEEL SLIDES before progressing onto this ASSISTED HEEL DROP as lifting the legs into the start position might be too challenging for them.


Heel Slides (With Glider) With Arm Extensions

 Kneeling Straight Arm Press Downs with NEUTRAL PELVIS!

A great way to strengthen the abdominals without creating the usual intra-abdominal pressure associated with crunches against a weakened core.  Emphasize NEUTRAL PELVIS and TVA activation at all times to ensure the abdominals are not strengthened in a lengthened position and the Pelvic Floor muscles are in the perfect position to be activated.  Start and finish positions are shown.  Suitable for Levels, 2,3 and 4 clients.  Remember to coach: EXHALE ON EXERTION (ie., when the band is being pulled down).

4.  A Non-Leaky Pelvic Floor – Pelvic Floor exercise has come a long, long way since Mr. Kegel and his great revelations BUT there is still a way to go beyond the walls of research and academia.  In plain terms….women are still leaking and those sales of Tena Lady are increasing year on year (yes I actually checked!!!).  So, a bit controversial here,  can I posit the notion that if Kegels are the sole answer to urinary and faecal incontinence (ie., they were easily taught, people understood them and compliance was easy) why does just one half of my local supermarket shelf look like this?

Right now, there is a huge, well researched and vociferous movement towards emphasising the importance of including MOVEMENT to re-train the Pelvic Floor once the client is out of the acute tissue trauma phase post birth.  That said, movement won’t necessarily solve the problems of more complicated and critical cases such as prolapse, but in the case of those simply seeking a restorative programme post birth,  the principles, practices and rationale of MOVEMENT BASED PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISE really has to be in the kit-bag of any medical and fitness professional who specializes in rehab in this area.

So what does the PF love?  Squatting, lunging, lifting, pulling, tilting, multiplanar movement, hopping, and balancing – do these moves sound famililar?  THESE ARE ALL FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS THAT WE’RE ALREADY PRESCRIBING FOR OUR CLIENTS!  All give superior unconscious stimulation to the PF muscles without the aid of performing or cueing Kegels and fit beautifully with modern exercise prescription and preparing the client for her REAL LIFE!  Combined with an optimal breathing strategy, basically (exhale on exertion – this puts a ‘lock’ on the Core Cannister and offsets increased intra-abdominal pressure against weakened abdominal tissue) PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISE BECOMES FUNCTIONAL.   I’ve summarized the ‘turn-ons and turn-offs’ for the Pelvic Floor in the table below:

Pelvic Floor ‘Turn On’s’/Strengtheners

Pelvic Floor ‘Turn Offs’ / Weakeners

Integrated Whole Body Movement!  Think of the effect of immobility on the continence of sedentary elders. Immobility
Vibration – whole body vibration also involves Pelvic Floor muscles too! Combative sports or those that involve body blows (consider a parallel bar gymnast).
Instability – the whole core is activated included TVA which is a synergist of PF. Anterior tilted pelvis (the usual pelvic position of the Pre & Post Natal client).
Adduction –due muscular & fascial links between adductors of the Femur and PF. Over-active Piriformis – seen by some as part of the Posterior PF.  The rear PF gets strong, the front PF gets weak!
Abduction – due muscular & fascial links between the deep lateral rotators of the Femur and the PF. Pregnancy (stretching of the PF muscles by the weight of a growing baby).
Multi-Planar Movement –a combination of stimulation of adductors and the stretch reflex occurring in the PF muscles. Vaginal birthing especially when assisted (ventous/forceps/episiotomy) – produces varying degrees of soft tissue and nerve trauma that can have a direct impact on the function and connection to the PF muscles post birth.
C-Section –crucial synergistic core ligaments, nerves, skin, blood vessels and fascia are severed and take many, many months  and in some cases, years to repair/reconnect
Working against gravity, especially with progressed speed and power.
TVA Activation & Diaphragmatic Breathing – TVA, Diaphragm and PF muscles are synergists. Persistent coughing without mindful control of the increased intra-abdominal pressure.
Co-Activation of PF through activation of the Muscular Sling and fascial systems ie., full body integrated/compound movements. Obesity  – causes chronic increase intra-abdominal pressure.
Menopause – causes a fall in Oestrogen production which affects connective tissue formation and strength.
Ageing – an ongoing decrease in Collagen and Elastin formation affects connective tissue tension and less resistance to gravity and pressure.

5.  Finally, last but most definitely not least –  Rest – For too long, meditation and those with a consistent practice have been seen as some sort of secret society but thanks to advances in modern technology the rest of us mortal souls can now enter the loop.  The power of meditation is HUGE and it’s a massive asset to health and well-being  and FAT LOSS even if you have just a few minutes a day to dedicate to it.   Even when night-time sleep is hard to come by using strategies such as ASSISTED MEDITATION wearing a set of headphones listening to an audio recording is a huge asset to redressing the imbalances caused by sleep deprivation.  Check out and  Both of these sites have products that you can purchase and or download that literally give your brain the equivalent of the best massage you’ve EVER had!  Utterly blissful and even 10 minutes does you the power of good!  Perfect for the time pressed mommy.  For more on this, check out my previous blog on Stress, Sleep Deprivation and Fat Loss.

So, in conclusion, fat loss is tricky at the best of times, never mind after the endocrine turbulence associated with pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding.  Helping your clients to understand the facts will help to temper her anxiety that her body has gone to pot FOREVER.  Simply helping her to detoxify/clean up her diet and teaching her new ways to rest can be a great way to start on the journey to losing her baby weight in the early days but ultimately, this is one time in most women’s life when they are forced to learn the art of patience, self-acceptance regardless of what size they are wearing and a time for redefining what success means in terms of their diet and fitness.  It’s always a little dark before the light :-).  With our help, great guidance and empathy they will make it back and be better, stronger and wiser for their ‘down-time!

Til next time!  Remember…..Mediocrity is a Sin!  Go Bold or Go Home! 😉

I‘ll be presenting at the UK Top Fitness Convention later this month, check out the amazing line-up & my sessions….

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