• How To Exercise When You Have Kids

    How to exercise when you have kids at home working mom

    Having little ones at home can leave you feeling like you don't have a spare second in the day. Between rushing to and from school and picking the little ones up from activities and trying to squeeze in daily errands too, it's no wonder that the average mother only gets 17 minutes of 'me time' each day. So how can you fit in exercise when you have no time? We give you all the tips you need along with with a working mom workout routine for you to try.

    How can I find time to workout with kids?

    Finding time to exercise as a working parent can feel almost impossible, but it doesn't have to be! Try some of our ideas and see if you can fit exercise into your busy day.

    1. Get a training buddy

    One of the best ways to stay motivated is to partner up. Whether it's a work colleague, your husband/wife, a friend, or a family member, working out together can make things more fun and interesting. Not only this, but if you have someone to be accountable to and someone who you will let down if you skip your session, you'll be more motivated to get that training session done!

    2. Utilise playtime

    When it's your child's playtime, get involved and burn some calories! If you have an energetic toddler, run around with them by playing adrenaline-fuelled games that involve running or chasing. If your children are a little older, find games where you can both get active, especially in the garden if it's summer time as there are lots of benefits to training outdoors.

    3. Try dancing

    Dancing is something that burns a lot of calories, will get you up and active, and can be very fun! If your children are very energetic, put on some music and dance away. This will not only help them burn off that extra energy and get you moving, it can be a great bonding experience. 

    4. Swap your car for walking or cycling

    By combining your errands with exercise, you can make the time to get active without compromising any of your daily activities. Try walking or cycling to the shops instead of driving, or walking your children to school. It may be easier than you think to get around without your car!

    5. Exercise before you start your day

    By getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual, you could fit in an entire workout and start your day right. There are lots of workouts you can do in under 30 minutes, like this 5-minute punchbag workout, 10-minute tabata workout, or this 20-minute home workout. Even a short workout is better than no workout at all, and it'll energise you for a productive day. If you don't want to get up earlier than you already do, try this lunchtime HIIT workout instead.

    How can a working mom lose weight

    How can a stay at home mum lose weight?

    There are lots of tips and tricks to losing weight if you are a stay-at-home parent. Follow these dos and don'ts to make sure you're staying healthy while at home with the little ones.

    1. Don't eat anything you wouldn't feed to your kids

    There are lots of things you wouldn't feed to your children because the salt or sugar content it too high, so why feed them to yourself? A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you wouldn't give it to your child because of the ingredients, you should avoid it yourself too. Stick to whole foods and try to avoid anything overly processed or pre-packaged.

    2. Don't snack mindlessly

    If you find yourself in a rare moment of calm when your child is playing happily alone or watching a television show, it can be tempting to mindlessly eat food that you don't really need. Avoid temptation by not having snacks in the house, and stick to eating at set times.

    3. Do make mealtime an occasion

    If mealtime is an occasion to look froward to when you eat together with your kids, you'll be less likely to have an unstructured day. Try to have at least one meal a day together as a family where you sit at a table and focus on what you're eating, rather than grabbing whatever is nearby because you're so rushed off your feet. This might mean deliberately making time for it in your day, but it will be worth it ultimately. 

    4. Don't eat through stress

    Being at home on your own with the kids all day can get pretty stressful. If tempers raise and tantrums ensue, make sure you're not reaching for food as comfort. Comfort eating is something that many of us do without realising and can be an almost impossible habit to break. As above, not having any temptation in the house will help with this and always count slowly to 10 before you eat a snack so that you're not eating it out of a stressed panic.

    5. Do make food fun and creative by getting the children involved

    Getting your kids to help in the kitchen is a fantastic way to bond and to help them develop vital skills for later in life. Let them get creative by coming up with new recipes and help them with the cooking. If you really want sweet treats, bake cookies or cupcakes together so that you really feel you've earned them and can have fun in the process. 

    how to work out with a kid at home

    Working mom workout routine

    If you have kids at home or are pregnant, try this working mom home workout routine by Sundried ambassador Carly Newson.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Get Faster At Swimming

    how to get faster at swimming

    Once you’re comfortable in the water and swimming further and easier than before, the next challenge is to get quicker! Either because you want to beat your friends, set personal bests, finish further up the results, or potentially even qualify for age group teams.

    There are three keys to getting faster at swimming:

    • Reducing frontal resistance to the water
    • Pulling/kicking with purpose 
    • Not rushing your stroke

    Reducing your resistance to the water

    This will mean that you can move faster and further with the same level of effort and this is a real foundation to strong and fast swimming. If you are able to focus on good posture in the water – i.e. looking down, lengthening your spine and engaging your core, then you’ll be in a really good place.

    A simple trick to focus this is to streamline when you push off the wall every time. This is not cheating – a comment that I get from many athletes! This is a skill that will help you travel faster and with better form, improving the quality of your swims. Imagine it like a squat jump. When you push off the wall, if possible, squeeze your ears between your biceps with your hands together above your head. If shoulder mobility doesn’t allow this, just keep your arms in front of you but still aiming to tuck your chin down toward your chest.

    All this will help lengthen your spine and keep your head in the right position – it’s your reset point every length. Finally, when you push off, you will automatically engage your core – meaning that your first few strokes will be among your best ever. Your challenge is then to try and maintain that as far down each length as you can! 

    Pulling and kicking with purpose

    With resistance reduced, you can look to engage with the water more rather than moving your arms and legs just for the sake of moving them. Kick drills can teach you to kick smoothly rather than panic splashing your legs around. You can kick streamlined (see above), on your front or on your back, or do side kick to work on body roll – in any case, make sure that your legs are pushing against the water.

    With your arms, you can do sculling drills to get used to feeling pressure of the water against your hands and forearms – and transferring this into doing your full stroke. Swimming with fists can have the same effect. Whatever drills you end up doing, mix them into doing full stroke so that you can feel where the drill is trying to work on in your stroke. Focus on each kick or pull having some purpose rather than trying to just do things for the sake of doing them!

    Not rushing your stroke

    Finally, with regards to swimming faster I like to think of the phrase "less haste, more speed". If you look at the top athletes in most sports – Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter in rugby, Messi or Ronaldo in football, rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, swimmer Katie Ledecky etc – they never look like they are rushing, even though they are doing things at incredibly high speed.

    Some of this comes down to the fact that they are very well practised. On top of this though, they know that they have all the time that they need to undertake the skills that they are doing. There is no rush. In the case of Glover & Stanning, or Katie Ledecky, their stroke rates are incredibly high – but they don’t look like they are rushing things. Again, think about connecting with the water and pushing – rather than just trying to throw your arms and legs around aimlessly to go quicker. Effort does not necessarily equal speed!

    About the author: John Wood is a triathlete, triathlon coach, and Sundried ambassador.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Health Myths To Ignore (And Why They're Stopping You From Losing Weight)

    weight loss myths

    The rise of millions of fitness accounts on social media has led to the exponential growth and spread of misinformation when it comes to health, exercise, and weight loss. We tackle some of the most common health myths and explain why they could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. 

    1. Myth: Healthy food is expensive

    myth healthy food is expensive burger vs salad

    You've probably seen the above image in one format or another, especially if you frequent fitness pages on social media. The truth is, it's a complete myth that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk food.

    Have you ever tallied up exactly how much money you spend on food in a month? It's probably a lot more than you realise. Raw fruit and vegetables from the supermarket can cost as little as 50p and healthy canned goods such as kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, and chickpeas can be even less, only 30p per can at some supermarkets.

    The myth that healthy food is more expensive than junk food derives from the fact that many prepared salads and fruit boxes are indeed expensive. However, this is because you are paying for the convenience, not the healthy food. If you cook all of your meals from scratch, you will save heaps of money and you will soon find that eating healthy is actually less expensive than junk food! A homemade salad could easily cost as little as £1 to make. 

    When have you ever only spent 99p at McDonald's? Yes, there are a couple of items on the menu that cost less than £1, but you'd be left feeling very hungry if that's all you ate. You have to be honest with yourself and really keep an eye on the money you are spending on food. It won't be what you expect.

    2. Myth: You need to eat more to lose weight

    eat more to lose weight fitness myths weight loss

    One of the latest trends on social media is to tell women they are not losing weight because they are not eating enough. There's a heavy pressure on women to lift heavy weights and do zero cardio in order to 'tone up' and lose weight. Sadly, this is a myth. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

    If you eat 2300 calories a day, have a BMR of 1500 calories (the calories your body burns just to stay alive), and burn zero calories through exercise because you're not doing any cardio and live a sedentary lifestyle, you will gain weight because you are in a 800 calorie-a-day surplus.

    This myth is propagated by the theory that you need to eat a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. While this is true to an extent, most of the general public live a sedentary lifestyle, sitting at a desk all day, and only exercise maybe 1 hour each evening. The average lifestyle does not allow you to eat 2300 calories a day because you won't be burning them off. You would have to lift a lot of weights and live a much more active lifestyle in order for this calorie surplus to be used to build muscle instead of being stored as fat.

    It's important to remember that these Instagram fitness gurus do not live a sedentary lifestyle and therefore what works for them will not work for you. 

    3. Myth: Your friend is losing more weight than you/is naturally slim because their metabolism is faster

    friend who eats a lot myth metabolism

    If you've been beating yourself up because you can't lose weight while your friend is sailing through their weight loss journey, don't worry, it's not what it seems. While it is scientifically possible to have a slightly faster or slower metabolism than someone else, it would not be enough of a difference to mean you are 10lbs heavier than your friend even if you eat the same.

    People who are 'naturally' slim are this way because they eat less and do more activity. If you were to pay very close attention to what your slim friend eats in a day, it is a guarantee that it will be less than what you eat, even if they claim they eat a lot. 

    Everyone has a BMR which is a Basal Metabolic Rate and this indicates how many calories your body burns just by being alive. This is affected by your age, your gender, and your current weight. Everyone also has a TDEE which is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This figure takes into account your daily activity, as someone who does a very manual job and moves a lot will burn more calories on a daily basis than someone who sits at a desk all day.

    Everyone's BMR and TDEE will be different and therefore the amount of calories you need to eat will be completely different to that of your friend. It won't be because they have 'good genes' or are 'naturally slim', it'll be because their TDEE is higher than yours, meaning they burn more calories on a daily basis than you. 

    4. Myth: A juice cleanse/detox is a quick way to lose weight

    juice cleanse myth

    You may have heard by now that doing a 'detox' is not really a thing, as your body naturally detoxifies itself daily anyway. If your body was full of toxins, you'd be incredibly ill and you'd certainly need more than a juice cleanse to help you.

    The way juice cleanses or detoxes work is that your daily calories plummet and you lose water out of your muscles. You become very dehydrated and the number on the scale goes down. You may well lose some fat too as you are consuming so few calories, but it can't possibly last.

    Not only this, fruit juice is full of sugar which could make you moody, spotty, and generally just a bit cranky. You won't be getting enough protein so you'll feel very tired and fatigued, and you'll be missing out on vital nutrients.

    5. Myth: Everyone should lift heavy and eat more protein

    You will have seen a lot of images on Instagram that propose lifting weights is superior to doing cardio and that everyone should be eating copious amounts of protein in the form of 'protein bread', 'protein oats', and now even 'protein yogurt'. 

    The truth is, it depends entirely on your personal goals and daily activity. If you are training for a marathon or triathlon, these are both entirely cardio-based activities. Of course you'll need to do cardio! Cycling is also a very cardio-heavy activity, but professional cyclists are far from skinny and unhealthy. 

    cyclist muscular cardio vs weights

    Most people do not need a sky-high amount of protein in their daily diet because they live a sedentary lifestyle and their body won't utilise it. Unless you live a truly active lifestyle and lift heavy weights or do strenuous sports 6 times a week, you don't need a ton of protein in your diet.

    This new myth comes from a shift in attitudes towards body types and the new obsession with 'booty gains'. These days, being slim is seen as bad and everyone wants to look like the Instagram fitness gurus. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cardio, and you probably do it more than you think. In fact, doing regular cardiovascular activity is vital for keeping a healthy immune system, lung function, and heart health. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now To Beat The January Blues

    happiness beat the January blues

    They call the third Monday in January 'blue Monday' because it seems that the poor weather, debt accumulated over Christmas, failing our New Year's resolutions and low motivational levels can leave us feeling at our lowest ebb. Here are 5 things you can do right now to pick yourself up and instantly feel better this January.

    1. Get moving

    It may seem obvious, but regular exercise will always be at the top of the list when it comes to getting out of a slump and making yourself feel better. The wonderful thing about exercise is that it releases 'happy' hormones known as endorphins and so even if you're working on 4 hours sleep and feeling rotten from a common cold, doing some exercise – even just something light – will instantly make you feel better. 

    Get out and go for a jog or a walk to brush off the cobwebs and get your heart beating. You'll enjoy that famous 'runner's high' and it will also help to relax you and work off any frustrations you may be holding on to. 

    Read more: Benefits Of Outdoor Training

    health fitness move exercise

    2. Call a relative

    Many of us don't enjoy being forced to spend time with relatives over Christmas, but January can end up being a lonely time if we distance ourselves from everyone around us. Give your parents or siblings a quick phone call to check in on them; if you're feeling low, maybe they are too and hearing your voice will pick them up. We often take our close family for granted, so it's important to check in from time to time. 

    family relatives happiness health

    3. Eat your vegetables

    All of the sugar, fat, salt, and alcohol that you've consumed over the festive period won't be doing your physical or mental well-being any good and chances are you haven't been keeping up your fruit and vegetable intake (Brussels sprouts aside). Make a conscious effort to eat more fruit and vegetables throughout January to top up your micro-nutrients and give your body the best chance at recovering and helping you feel good. 

    Read more: Which Vitamins Should I Be Taking?

    health fitness wellbeing vegetables vitamins

    4. Take a Vitamin D supplement

    On the same note as the previous point, keeping your Vitamin D levels topped up is vital throughout winter months. Taking a Vitamin D supplement can help to boost your mood instantly as well as reducing the likelihood of catching common colds and the flu as it will give your immune system a well needed boost. 

    Read more: Why You Should Be Taking A Vitamin D Supplement This Winter

    sunshine vitamin D health supplements

    5. Meditate

    How often do you take time to slow down and focus on yourself? Getting back to work after the Christmas break can be a real shock to the system and suddenly you have a million things back on your to-do list and 250 unread emails in your inbox. Add this to the stresses of home life and you've got a recipe for disaster. 

    Take some time to meditate, whether this is 5 minutes in the morning or 20 minutes in the evening before bed, it will all make a difference. 

    Read more: What Are The Health Benefits Of Meditation?

    spiritual healing meditation yoga health happiness

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Best Arm Workout For Women

    upper body arm workout for women

    Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.

    Cable Tricep Pull Downs

    This exercise is for isolating the triceps.

    How to perform the tricep pull down

    Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!

    Key exercise tips:

    • Keep the elbows tucked in
    • Fully extend the arms
    • Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up

    Common mistakes:

    • Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
    • Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
    • Going too heavy and using momentum

    tricep pull down exercise arm workout for women

    Battle Ropes

    This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.

    How to use the battle ropes

    Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!

    Key exercise tips:

    • Tense your abs tightly during performance
    • Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
    • Don't hold your breath

    Common mistakes:

    • Sacrificing technique with fatigue
    • Performing the exercise for too long

    battle ropes workout shoulders

    Dumbbell Bicep Curls

    This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.

    How to perform the dumbbell curl

    In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.

    Key exercise tips:

    • Keep your elbow in a fixed position
    • Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement

    Common mistakes:

    • Moving the elbow out of alignment
    • Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
    • Swinging the body with the movement

    biceps curl arm workout gym for women

    Tricep Bench Dips

    This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.

    How to perform the tricep bench dip

    Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.

    Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.

    Key exercise tips:

    • Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
    • Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
    • Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
    • If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor

    Common mistakes:

    • Rounding/curving back
    • Not going low enough
    • Hyperextending the elbows

    tricep dips workout arm blast bingo wings

    Posted by Alexandra Parren