Fat Smashing Cauliflower?!

18 May

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


Ok, so I think we are all agreed that if you ever want to have a decent looking belly again especially over the age of 35-40, AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE TRYING TO LOSE HORMONALLY INDUCED POST NATAL BELLY FAT, you have to ‘revise’ your eating strategy!

One of areas that a lot people get stuck on is how the hell do they get their clients to reduce their starchy carbs and still feel good? I think a new phrase needs to be coined…..‘CARB ANXIOUS’ – A CLIENT WHO GOES INTO A COLD SWEAT WHEN YOU TELL THEM THEY’VE GOT TO REDUCE THEIR STARCHY CARBS!!

In a nutshell, eat more protein, less sugar and processed foods, increase the volume of fibrous vegetable and eat more good fats – blah, blah, blah!  Just one problem, it’s our eyes!!!! We just look at our plates and it just doesn’t seem right.  Enter the humble cauliflower!!!!!! Thanks to John Beradi and the Precion Nutrition Team (www.precisionnutrition.com) and closer to home, UK fat smashers such as Paul Mort (www.bootcampking.com), and the Dukan Diet Cookbook (thanks Pippa & Kate), we now have the most brilliant solution – CAULIFLOWER MASH!!!!!!!!!  My God this works! Even my husband, a marathon running, carb-adoring, ecotomorph is fooled by this one and it’s possitively delicious too, not to mention the nutritional benefits of cauliflower being a cruciferous veggie.

My simple version goes like this:

1.  Steam 2 heads of cauliflower.

2.  When tender, I put in a bowl and add 1/4 teacup of coconut milk, Himalayan sea salt (thanks Amanda & Andrea!) and freshly ground black pepper and apply a potatoe masher until I get a consistency that looks like mashed potatoe.

3.  That’s it!!!  I then put in a Tupperware and keep in the fridge ready to replace the rice, potatoes, pasta that was previously on my plate.

AWESOME AND IT WORKS!  The eyes are fooled, the nerves are calm and the body is nourished!

For more attractive low starchy carb eating ideas my two top tips are anything by these two young men:

Both make great food look sexy!  Stick with these two guys and, guess what?  You might look even more sexy too :-)).

Remember, keep it passionate…………mediocrity is a sin!

Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

Connect With Me on FACEBOOK and Twitter



The No-Diet Fat Loss Ten Commandments

17 May

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



2.       Eat more protein especially in the morning (first meal of the day), it sets the scene for your intake for the remainder of the day ie., you will crave less carbs.

3.       Focus on avoiding C.R.A.P – Excess starchy carbs, Refined Sugar, Alcohol and Packaged/Processed Foods.

4.       Keep well hydrated – aim for 2 litres of water a day – add a little Himalayan mountain salt and  the juice of ½ a lemon to ‘supersize’. Water is VITAL TO FAT LOSS.

5.       Supplement – Omega 3 and a High Quality Multi-Vitamin & Mineral – GOOD FATS ARE VITAL TO FAT LOSS.

6.       Perform 20 mins of High Intensity  Interval Training 3-4 times per week that involves whole body movements – THIS PUSHES YOUR BODY TO BURN MORE FAT. You need to get HOT, SWEATY, OUT OF BREATH AND YOUR MUSCLES NEED TO BURN.  Intensity and brevity are king.  Forget about hours on the treadmill.  Get going, work hard, go home!

7.       Increase your general level of walking and lower level activity on the days when you are not performing HIIT.

8.       Perform some kind of stretching daily & prioritize rest/quiet time – INACTIVITY IS JUST AS VITAL AS ACTIVITY.

9.       Identify your stressors and start work to eradicate or minimize them – STRESS MAKES YOU FAT!

10.   Base your daily intake and actions on the fact that: YOU ONLY GET 1 BODY, WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT OUR HEALTH AND VITALITY. Movement and great nutrition are your way of showing daily gratitude for the body and health you have been gifted 🙂

Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

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FitPro’s: Questions to Consider When You Find Post Natal Rectus Diastasis

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

As a health and fitness professional serving Post Natal clients, there are (in my opinion) 5 major confounding issues that the client presents with when employing the service of a specialist fitpro….in no particular order:
1.  A wobbly stomach with stretched skin and poor muscular tension/tone and a general feeling of disconnect to the abdominals.
2.  How to get rid of a C-Section tummy that overhangs her scar.
3.  A malfunctioning pelvic floor leading to at best urinary leakage, at worst faecal incontinence.
4.  A palpable gap at the midline of the abdominals, technical term: Rectus Diastasis or Distension and when/if it will close.
5.  How to get rid of ‘baby fat’!
This post relates to a few other factors to bear in mind when a client presents with a Distension (Diastasis) beyond simply measuring the gap and deciding what type of programming is suitable for her present state.
1.  How old is the clients’ ‘baby’?  – The older the Distension, the less likely that it will close completely ie., a 6 month PN client is in a much likelier position than a 2 year PN client.
2.  How old is the client?  – A younger mother (under 30) is generally in a better position regarding Collagen and Elastin production compared to an older mom (sorry!).
3.  What is the condition of the midline?  Papery/slack and offering very little resistance or can gap be felt but midline has good tension that can withstand pressure?  – Having a distension (gap between the bellies of the Rectus Abdominis) doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doomed to a life of poor core strength, incontinence and back pain.  For example, many fitness professionals who returned to work early to teach classes and exercised inappropriately often have fantastic looking midsections and fully-functioning core’s with a a Distension.  Their Rectus bellies can be separated but their midline is strong on palpation and more than able to do its job of withstanding intra-abdominal pressure when required to.
3.  If the client had a previous birth, what were the conditions of the abdominals before and after the previous baby?Previously separated abdominals are less like to return to a fully closed position after a second and third pregnancy and birth.
4.  Was there a short space of time between two pregnancies? – Connective tissue needs time to heal, short time-frames between pregnancies is less ideal and mothers with short gaps between pregnancies are more likely to experience poorer tissue resoration post birth compared to those who have had a longer ‘healing period’ between births.
5.  What kind of abdominal work/sport has the client been performing post birth and prior to coming to see you the Trainer.  What’s her occupation and daily activity levels? – I once assessed a fitness professional with a Distension to find that she taught 2 Spin Classes, 4 Body Pumps and led a running club.  She had a two year old distension that probably would remain as her work activities and full schedule did not allow for modification to the quantity of stress placed on her abdominal muscles – incidentally, she had a firm midline and didn’t experience any back pain or incontinence!

6.  Does the client experience any back pain or pain during her activities of daily life (ADL’s)? Especially in the case of a longstanding Distension with a firm mid-line, if the client has good continence and no back pain and is happy with her tummy…..who are we try to ‘fix’ her.
Answers to all of the above questions will give you a much fuller picture of your clients’ true core strength and capabilities and help you create a more realistic core strength programme suitable for the demands of her life.

www.burrelleducation.com – Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 


Why You Need to MOVE to Work Your Pelvic Floor!

16 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education (www.burrelleducation.com)
Specialist Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy Education

BIG NEWS! The pelvic floor musculature does not exist and function in isolation! So……when we consider restoring it’s function and strength,  especially after birthing, MOVEMENT (the right amount at the right time) has to be part of our exercise prescription.  Eventually our prescription for the PF needs to be INTEGRATED, WHOLE BODY AND CHALLENGE THE ENTIRE MYOFASCIAL AND CONNECTIVE TISSUE SYSTEM.

First up….The Abdominal Aponeuroses

The Abdominal Aponeuroses are sheets of tendon that cover and connect the abdominal muscles to the pelvic girdle.  In terms of it’s relationship to the pelvic floor muscles (especially the anterior musculature), concentric and eccentric movement of not only the abdominal muscles but connecting aponeuroses and fascia ALL HAVE A SYNERGISTIC AND POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE PELVIC FLOOR ie., lift both of your arms into the air at the same time so they end  up just past your ears and ‘listen’ to what your pelvic floor has to say…..can you feel a change in its tension and a tightening?  Yes?  That’s the relationship between the muscles, fascia and tendons stretching from your pubis to your sternum talking to you!

Next up, the Anterior Longditudinal Ligament (ALL) and Posterior Longditudinal Ligaments (PLL).  When I first discovered these two ligaments, it was a major lightbulb moment, gee whizz! So to keep this simple,  I’ll focus on the ALL, this continuum of ligament runs alongside the spinal column from the cervical region to the sacrum where there are fascial links to…..guess where?  THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES.  So what does that mean in exercise terms?  Flex and extend the spine ie., BEND OVER AND RETURN and you also work your Pelvic Floor!

Now onto the adductors of the femur.  Just take a look at where the proximal attachments fasten – extremely close to the PF!  And guess what?  Thanks to fascia, everytime your adductors are fired the PF muscles are too!

The deep lateral rotators of the femur, namely the Gemellus and Obturator muscles facilitate abduction of the femur.  They are all intimately posititioned within the pelvic basis proximal to the PF muscles and thanks to the fascia factor, firing these muscles also fire the PF  muscles.

Ok, so now onto the rest of your ‘CORE’

In the most basic terms, the components of the  ‘CORE’ can be defined as the pelvic floor muscles, the TVA, the diaphragm and the lumbar muscles and fascia.  These 4 components all work reciprocally and are synergized by respiration.  Point in case:

  • Breathe out throught pursed lips and simultaneously pull your belly button in towards your spine, can you eventually feel your pelvic floor muscles lifting and tightening?  That’s the synergistic relationship between your PF, diaphragm and your TVA.
  • Do this again and this time take your attention toward the muscles of your low back this time, now can you also feel these muscles tensioning too?

So, in summary…..

  • Squat or take your legs apart (abduction) – the pelvic floor is active.
  • Squeeze your knees together especially against resistance (a pilates ball or ring) – the pelvic floor is active.
  • Perform flexion to extension (bend over) – the pelvic floor is active.
  • Breathe in and out – the pelvic floor is active.
  • Move into throacic extension – the pelvic floor is active.

The pelvic floor also loves…..

  • Whole Body Vibration – yes, the vibration works on those muscles too!  From a Powerplate to a Flexibar, it’s all good.
  • Working against gravity, and snappy movement – from hopping foot to foot to full blown plomentric jumping
  • A neutral pelvis and beautifully aligned posture
  • A global myofascial system free of tension and restriction

I hope that’s helped you to reconsider what you consider to be PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISE and if you liked this blog, and would like to know more about my modern, inspiring education, check out the Burrell Education website: www.burrelleducation.com.

My June 15th Modern Post Natal Assesment  & Exercise Prescription CPD has SOLD OUT! So I’ve decided to add another date on Friday 22nd June.  If you’d like to attend, please book sharpish as 4 places have already gone.

Visit the website for more details and booking: www.burrelleducation.com

Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

Connect With Me on FACEBOOK and Twitter

Why Those Cardio Machines ARE NOT Your Best Weapon For Post Baby Fat Loss!

16 May

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


Human Growth Hormone (hGH) – The Key To The Post Baby Fat Loss Kingdom??

Some Key Points:

  • hGH is a hormone that is produced by the Pituitary Gland in the brain. Production peaks during the teenage years and slowly declines with age.

hGH plays aHUGELY significant and varied role in your system:

  •  Fat metabolism
  •  Growth of all tissues
  •  Energy level
  •  Tissue repair
  •  Whole body healing
  •  Cell replacement
  •  Bone strength
  •  Brain function
  •  Sexual function
  •  Organ health and integrity
  •  Enzyme production
  •  Integrity of hair, nails, skin and vital organsh

hGH is responsible for the rapid growth during childhood – and for the repair and regeneration of human tissue throughout our lives. By the time we reach the age of 30, our HGH levels are only about 20% of their peak levels during childhood, and after the age of 30, they continue to decline at about 12 to 15% per decade.  By the time most of us are 30 years old, our bodies no longer produce enough HGH to keep pace with the cellular damage that is occurring in our bodies.  As our hGH levels continue to decline, the damage that we collectively call ‘ageing’ accelerates.


  • Studies have shown that obese adults have lower levels than normal-weight adults.
  • This can makes fat loss for the woman giving birth late ie., over 35, especially challenging.


A 2003 study published in the British Journal Sports Medicine found that “exercise intensity above lactate threshold (when you ‘feel the burn’) and for a minimum of 10 minutes appears to elicit the greatest stimulus to the secretion of hGH.”

How Can We Increase The Natural Secretion of hGH to Boost Fat Loss and Gain The Other Health Benefits For the Post Baby Client?

It’s not rocket science here, but people still stuggle to understand the off-the-scale value of implementing these basic tasks into their lifestyle…

  • Get More Sleep
  • Drink More Water
  • Moderate/Reduce Your Starchy Carbohydrate & Sugar Intake
  • Eat More Protein
  • Exercise at the Right Intensity & For the Right Length of Time!  Remember: Lactate Threshold & Add Resistance Training – forget long slow cardio (not unless you’re using it as a low intensity leisure pursuit – a long walk in nature is great for the soul!) and swap to short intense bursts.

Since the largest hGH surge in a normal day tends to occur around one hour after the onset of night-time sleep, it is vital for anyone seeking fat loss to get plenty of sleep. If the quality and quantity of sleep is inadequate there will be a reduction in the volume of hGH secreted with negative consequences for fat loss. For most people, ‘sufficient sleep’ people means around seven to eight hours.

It is also important to drink plenty of water during your waking hours and more when exercising, as dehydration has been shown to significantly reduce the exercise-induced hGH response. 1 ½ – 2 litres per day is a good starting guide.

Carbohydrates & Protein
Research has also shown how high-carbohydrate diets tend to switch off hGH secretion. Many fat loss expert suggest avoiding sugar for two hours post exercise but ensuring that at least 25g protein is consumed immediately preferably in liquid form for quick absorbtion (a non sugary protein shake) or a protein bar, lean poultry, meat or eggs as protein has been shown to enhance hGH secretion too.

The Right Intensity & Quantity of Resistance Training – Quality over Quantity Every Time!

Exercising at a higher than average intensity results in the biggest volume of hGH secretion in response to a single exercise bout, with levels of the hormone declining gradually over a period of an hour. Research has also shown that multiple (3) short daily sessions of whole-body resistance training can give rise to optimal hGH secretion over a 24-hour period. Another showed an even larger human growth hormone hGH peak in response to sprints on an exercise bike.

Ultimately, to boost your hGH production and blitz your post baby fat stores you need to ensure that when you exercise on your ‘metabolic’ exercise days you….

  • Get hot
  • Get sweaty
  • Get out of breath
  • Feel the lactate burn in your muscles
  • In short bursts, work until you feel truly challenged

A suggested exercise strategy for optimizing hGH secretion through exercise is as follows:  Perform 3-4 short ‘metabolic’ sessions per week, each involving at least 10 minutes’ work above lactate threshold. Keep total workout time to between 20-30 mins and include a variety of styles and principles to maintain muscle confusion. Work hard, keep it short and sweet  and ULTIMATELY, BE CONSISTENT AND THE MAGIC WILL HAPPEN!

Need 60 Low Cost, Easy to Apply,  Sure-Fire Ways to Attract More Pregnant and Post Baby Client?

Go to http://www.burrelleducation.com



…..and not a Kegel in Sight! MODERN Pelvic Floor Exercise

16 May

By:  Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Pre/Post Natal Exercise Specialist & Founder of Burrell Education (www.burrelleducation.com).

OK ,the gig is finally up on ONLY performing Kegels to re-activate and  re-condition the Pelvic Floor!  Don’t get me wrong, after giving birth when the musculature, nerve and blood supply, fascia and ligaments of the Pelvic Floor and Pelvic Basin have undergone significant trauma or at the very least, have been stretched by carrying the weight of a growing baby,  Kegels are a vital tool.  In the every early days after vaginal birthing and C-Section, performing Kegels can provide a lifeline to knowing that you are still in one piece!  Also, performing Kegels for both the anterior, mid and posterior muscles of the PF assist with healing, bringing nutrient –rich blood and healing agents to wounded tissue.   And still after the acute trauma phase has passed these muscle contractions can still help to recondition the PF and restore function.  But there comes a point when Kegels are not really ‘functional’ – ie., preparing the mom for real life, after all…..afterall, who pees themselves when they are stood still?  It’s usually during movement and an increase in intra-abdominal pressure that the PF fails and urinary incontinence is experienced.  So, introducing  MODERN MOVEMENT-BASED PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISE, spearheaded by forward-thinkers such as Eric Franklin and many other specialists in this field across the pond.

Any Pre/Post Health & Fitness Specialist worth his/her salt now knows that the PF muscles respond much more to a host of functional movements such as squatting, lunging, hopping, moving in multiple planes, gravity and vibration.  Here are some tested functional movements and the microvolt reading (electrical potential of the PF muscles as contraction occurs) versus Kegels.  (These were measured using a vaginal probe).   I think you’ll find them pretty impressive!  NB these exercises were performed without adding either conscious TVA activation or a Kegel contraction!

Kegel vs Movement – EMG Testing Summary

Exercise Name

Maximum uV



Wide squat


Transverse step into squat off a low platform


Low Level Jumping


Supine bridge with resisted abduction (resistance band around knees)


Wide stance sumo deadlifts with resistance band


Table 1: (Reproduced with Permission) :  Kegels vs Functional Exercise EMG Study
–  Jenny Burrell, Louise Dear, Stephen Powell, Phil Nourse,  2011.

So,  in short, the Pelvic Floor LOVES MOVEMENT!  When the time is right and your mommy is out of her acute phase (and been given the goahead by her HCP to exercise – she must have had her 6 week check!) You need to get her squatting, lunging and moving in multiple planes – where appropriate.  You need to get her working her PF against gravity (start with mini hops on an empty bladder), introduce her to vibration (Power Plate or Flexi-Bars are both awesome tools for whole body vibration that includes the Pelvic Floor) and give simple adduction, abduction and pelvic tilting exercises as homework (great for when watching her favourite soap).

So Trainers!!!!  Let’s get those mommies moving for real-life solution to a real-life problem.  They’ll thank you forever.  Remember, it’s all about more laughs and less leaks!  Incidentally if your client base includes the post menopausal woman, this information is just as applicable!

Remember, keep it passionate, mediocrity is a sin!

Want to find out more about MODERN MOVEMENT BASED PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISE, attend the Burrell Education Modern Post Natal Assessment and Exercise Prescription  Course
worth 16 REPs CPD points

Visit: www.burrelleducation.com  for full details.

3 Excellent ‘Core and Floor’ Exercises for the Post Natal Client

15 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons) – Founder of Burrell Education (www.burrelleducation.com)
Specialist Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy Education

For rationale on grading the PN client as Level 1 to 4, please see blog article entitled: ‘5 VITAL Steps to Post Natal Fitness Programming’ – Posted in January 2012.

1.  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 whilst simultaneously performing scapular retraction by pulling the band wide 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 3 & 4 clients.  If the client is unable to activate TVA and keep her abs pulled in as she works, this position is too advanced for her.  You can regress this exercise by performing it in a standing position (still with hip flexion) to reduce the effect of gravity on still weakened abdominal muscles.

2.  Assisted Heel Drops – 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.  An early PN exercise (Level 2 onwards).  Client gently holds here 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.  You might find that early returning C-Section clients might first need to be regressed to  HEEL SLIDES before progressing onto these ASSISTED HEEL DROPS.

3.  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.  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.  In forder to ensure total core activation, cue the client to exhale as she simultaneously presses her arms downwards and draws her belly-button towards the spine.  This will have a synergistic benefit to the pelvic floor muscles and muscles and fascia of the lumbar region.

Caveat:  This information is intended for use by Certified Specialist Professional seeking inspiration when programming for the Post Natal client.  If you are a mom looking for suitable exercises after your baby, please seek professional help/advice before commencing any exercise programme.

Need to modernize your exercise prescription for your Post Natal clients?

The next Burrell Education ‘Modern Post Natal Exercise & Exercise Prescription’ REPs Endorsed CPD Course in London, UK.

 Friday 15th June, 2012 – SOLD OUT!

New ‘Overflow Date’ – FRIDAY 22ND JUNE – BOOK EARLY! This WILL sell out!

Visit www.burrelleducation.com for more details of the next courses and securing your place.

Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

Connect With Me on FACEBOOK and Twitter

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