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WINTER IS HERE FOLKS! This means colder mornings and shorter days. It also means there is less motivation and more colds and flus going around. 
Fear not though, you can dodge these winter blues by employing a few tricks through the colder months to keep you moving toward your goals.

Keep the Ball Rolling 
Sticking to your exercise regime will keep you healthy and alert. It will also help to keep your spirits up. Studies show that daily activity and exercise not only improves your metabolism, energy levels, and fitness; it also increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain, which in turn makes staying motivated a breeze. Once the ball is rolling, it is easy to keep it rolling. 
While it can be hard to throw off the covers and get to Jack Jones for the early seesion, getting started is absolutely the hardest part of exercise. Once you're up and moving, the rest is easy!

Sleep Well 
Good sleep is essential for your body and mind to function optimally. A minimum of 8 hours of quality per night will keep you thinking clearly. If you can manage to get to bed early and get up early...even better. 
Light in the blue region of the light spectrum helps to wake you up and to keep you awake. Smart phones, computers, and tablets emit this blue light. As such, they can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep. Put them away at night. Try reading a real book instead.

Stay Hydrated 
We drink more in summer than winter. However, our bodies still need at least two litres of water every day. Sadly the extra cups of coffee don't count; you still need to drink eight glasses of water on top of those comforting cups. In fact, coffee has a diuretic effect; causing your body to release water and dehydrate you. Try substituting one of your caffiene drinks with fresh ginger, honey and lemon in hot water. Also, winter winds and reverse cycle air conditioners dry us out to a surprising degree; there's another glass of water for you. It sounds like a lot of water to drink, but you can spread it out over your 16 waking hours easily.

Eat the Right Food 
Winter is a great time for soups and stews; all those root vegetables, all that kale. Eating the right food and taking in the right nutrients is essential for maintaining your body's ability to remove toxins, and fight off sickness and disease (watch this tedx talk to see). Find some tasty recipes that you can handle, sneak in some nutrient dense ingredients. The great thing about winter dishes is that you can double your batch and freeze half for another night - easy!

Let the Light in 
Studies show that the decreased light levels of winter have a direct effect on our mood and health. While in Brisbane we don't suffer greatly from this, we still need to keep an eye on our vitamin D. Low levels of D can cause fatigue, depression, and liver and kidney disorders. Sunlight provides us with all the D we need, so roll up your sleeves and brave the cool through winter to top up.

Stave off Sickness 
The annual parade of colds and flus has begun. You can arm yourself against these by upping your intake of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals (C, D, zinc to name a few) and lowering the toxins you put into your body (caffiene, alcohol, tobacco). Your body can effectively fight off infections if you provide it with the right amounts of nutrients, water, sleep, and exercise. If you follow the guidelines above, you won't get sick as often, or for as long.

Stay Positive 
Don't worry, winter is only short in Brissy. Stay focussed on your goals, stay healthy and active. Spring will be here before you know it.
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Being new to the Jack Jones family this year, I know I haven't had the opportunity to meet you all yet but when asked to share something I am particularly passionate about, I simply couldn't refuse! 




Being 31 weeks pregnant myself at the time of writing this article, I thought I would introduce myself and my Top 10 Exercise Tips for Pregnancy:




1. KNOW WHAT TO AVOID - high impact, rapid changes in posture, jerky or ballistic exercises - for example; burpees, and exercises that require abdominal muscle contractions like sit-ups, crunches, plank holds etc. Trying to maintain your washboard stomach (if you're lucky enough to have one!) is not only unnecessary, it is also quite detrimental to Baby's ability to move around. In the 3rd trimester, Baby needs to be able to turn; head down in preparation for birth. In cases where abdominal muscles are overdeveloped and extremely tight, Baby's head can get stuck, which can cause complications. Save yourself the headache and let the Abs go!




2. KNOW YOUR MUST DO's - Yes we've heard about "Kegels" (the contraction commonly referred to as trying to stop yourself from going to the loo), to strengthen your Pelvic Floor Muscles. Your Pelvic Floor is not only an integral in birth but also important to your body's stability and bladder and bowel control - I think we can agree we want this at its optimum right?  So what else? SQUATS (and lots of them!)  The lower and wider the squat - the better as the movement lends itself to greater hip mobility and greater strength in the pelvic floor. Other exercises such as seated Swiss Ball leg raises and Figure 8s can also be helpful. Exercises that mimic picking up, moving or holding Baby, are going to serve your body the best. 




3. KNOW THE FACTS - Understand why most people think it's dangerous to exercise while pregnant. The relaxin hormone (The Body's secret weapon for bearing children) essentially is responsible for allowing the joints, ligaments and muscles to "relax" or move through the respective changes as Baby grows and develops. 




Importantly, slow and steady wins the race. Be patient with yourself, your exercise and your body's amazing ability to seamlessly transition through 9+ months' worth of epic changes. Relaxin is present during the whole pregnancy as well as after birth, where your body will decide when its ready to allow those joint, ligaments and muscles to reset - this can take up to 3+ months in some cases post-partum. The exercise and care that you take over the course of your pregnancy will have a direct impact on how your body resets, so the less load we place on our body as the joints move and ligaments and muscles compensate - the better! 




4. KNOW YOUR GRAVITY CENTRE WILL CHANGE! Daily! You may thank the Relaxin Hormone for this too! As baby changes and grows, so do you and so does your centre of gravity! This will affect your balance, even your ability to walk at times and you may experience difficulty lifting or navigating weight other than your bodyweight. This is built by design and your body knows what it's doing - working against this will only have negative impact on your body. 






Exercise is synonymous with the production of endorphins (feel good chemicals) as well as having a great impact on your ability to manage your anxiety and stress levels throughout pregnancy. Of course bearing the first 2 Tips in mind, unless a high-risk pregnancy has been identified and/or your medical practitioner has prescribed otherwise, armed with caution and the right advice, you should be safe to continue the type of exercise you were doing pre-pregnancy. 






Your mindset will determine your outcome in a lot of cases. Give yourself a break! Best advice I was ever given is "You don't have to hear everyone's advice."  Although most are well meaning and have experienced pregnancy in their own way, sometimes the advice (particularly regarding exercise) can be a bit hit & miss. Learn to trust yourself and listen to the signals your body is sending you. Don't think "I can't" or "I'm not supposed to" - remember what you CAN DO! 






As the pregnancy progresses toward the final few months, it is important to reduce the overall load on your body and accept that as your body grows and develops, these changes (and extra weight) provide sufficient resistance for you to exercise with - Refer Tip #4. 






This necessary investment does not have to be a different outfit for every session of the week. Invest in support attire such as a maternity sports bra (respective to your changing size) and support tights / undergarments. 




Try to avoid exercise attire or tights that cover your Baby "Bump" that are designed for looks and not function. Aim for support (also referred to recovery) tights that sit below your bump line that will literally help support the weight of your belly while you exercise. Sports bras are also vital in ensuring that your diaphragm is supported and breathing is not constricted during exercise. This diaphragm support is vital in ensuring your posture is maintained through exercise keeping the spine, pelvis and hip joints safe and stable. 






Referring back to Tip # 6 - Surround yourself with a tribe of supportive and like-minded individuals (this should include your Medical Practitioners) whose advice you can trust. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time for you, your body and mental well-being - its super important that you are confident in the information you are being given. Seek secondary opinions wherever you feel necessary - especially when it comes to your body. 






Aches, pains and complaints are, to a degree - to be expected. Tolerating unbearable pain or discomfort for prolonged periods of time, is simply unnecessary. Chiropractors, Massage Therapists & Acupuncturists are typically the best point of call for any joint or muscle complaint and trust me when I say this - seeking this therapy as and when the ache or pain arises, is by far the easier, cheaper and more effective way of managing any discomfort over the course of the pregnancy! 




Remember - Mum's body is the Temple in which Bub is living - treat it like one!




See you soon Jonesers,


Em! xo




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