This is old news. I did a post about it on Facebook a while ago after I saw this photo on Instagram:


But despite the fact that a lot of fitness professionals spoke out against it, I still see it happening.

I’m talking about #noexcuses.

I’ve just seen this picture being used to promote a local gym to mums:


And that’s why I’m writing this blog.

In all honesty I think (hope) they were just using it because of their creche, to say ‘that’s one barrier to your gym attendance that we’ve removed.’ But that’s not what the picture says. The picture takes her body, and says ‘what’s your excuse?’ Are we seriously going to pretend none of us has a valid ‘excuse’ for not looking like that?

Well here are what I think are 6 perfectly good reasons for not having visible abs.

1. Not wanting visible abs.

This may come as a shock to some, but not everyone wants a six pack.

Having goals is great. But having abs is HER goal, and there’s no need to judge others because they don’t live up to it. They’re not the be all and end all. They will not bring you happiness. They are not necessary in order to look attractive.

2. Not being a fitness model.

These women get paid to look like this. Well done to them for all the hard work, but for the rest of us, who don’t get paid, and may even have other jobs that take up our time, it’s not such a priority.

Also, the fact that they were fit before they had children makes things a lot easier. Are we really going to turn around to the mum who hasn’t done a workout in years and say, ‘hey, this mum who has 10 years training experience got her figure back in 6 months, what’s your excuse?’

3. Having a life.

Yes, I could exercise more and eat less, but having body fat low enough to show your abs has trade offs. Those trade offs for me include less time with my children and feeling more stressed when I am with them as I struggle to squeeze in a workout around running a house and a business.

This doesn’t mean I don’t exercise. I train, I stay fit, but my goals at the moment are health related, I’d rather not waste time and energy worrying about a few pounds or inches here and there.

4. Not having obsessive/ disordered eating habits.

Otherwise known as having a healthy relationship with food.

This means when you have to consume food outside your own home it comes on a plate in a restaurant/ cafe, not in a Tupperware box filled with chicken and broccoli from the steaming marathon you had on Sunday evening.

And you don’t feel guilty afterwards.

See here and here for a couple of examples of the damage competitive fitness can do to your relationship with food.

5. Genetics.

People come in different shapes and sizes. Some people are naturally slim and can quite easily get visible abs. For others it just isn’t going to happen. So let’s stop this message that certain physical attributes or body types are better than others. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others.

6. You don’t need a fucking excuse.

You’re an adult. Not a child turning up late for class. You do not answer to the gym police about your appearance.

Are you healthy? Happy? Then good for you.

Stop worrying about the rest.


As a trainer, I feel it would be irresponsible of me to post these ‘no excuses’ pictures. I don’t want to tell women they should look a certain way and I don’t want to play on their insecurities to get clients. I want them to learn to be happy with their bodies and to stop comparing themselves to others. To train to feel good physically and mentally, because a happy mum means a happy family!

I started writing this blog because I felt annoyed about the message the fitness industry send out sometimes. Hopefully I’m finishing it on a more positive note.

But even when I’m being body positive, I still feel a bit sad. Because it’s still about bodies.

How we look.

And we’re more than that. If you really want to feel better about yourself, step away from the scales/ mirror. Learn a new skill. Laugh with friends. Develop yourself inside as well as out.

Because your children don’t love you for your dress size or well applied mascara. They love you for the comfort in your hugs and words, the fun you have playing games, the safety of knowing you’re there when they need you, putting them first.

Because you’re a mum. And you don’t need an excuse.


There’s a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest-bathing’, which is about engaging with the atmosphere of the forest. It is shown to help lower pulse rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Part of this response is attributed to breathing in/interacting with chemicals called phytoncides, given off by trees and plants. They’re meant to ward off harmful bugs and rot, but the compound seems to benefit us.

We may not have been forest bathing, but as one mum put it during one of my Stroller Strength classes, ‘it feels good to get outside.’

Fresh air and phytoncides, free with every class 🙂

Click here to find out more about our classes.

One day I’ll blog about a recipe and not start by talking about my children and their eating habits. Not today though.

I’ve called them fussy before, but it’s not so much that they refuse to eat everything, it’s that they’re irrationally selective about what they eat. They’ll refuse something plain like a cheese sandwich, and then want scotch eggs or broccoli smoothie. Where the hell does a request for broccoli smoothie come from?!

What works one day won’t work the next, and I swear they’ve organised themselves as a tag team, where when one eats dinner the other refuses.

So whereas sometimes they’ll eat their veg, I often have to get creative, and in this case it’s with a veg packed passata. (Confession- Ella’s Kitchen are the creative ones here, this is from their cookbook). I can use it in recipes like this chicken cacciatore to add extra veg.


  • 1 carrot, chopped.
  • 200g butternut squash, chopped.
  • 50g frozen peas.
  • 415g tin baked beans.
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes.
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped.

I use this as a guide, I had extra butternut squash this time and didn’t weigh the peas.

Cool the squash and carrot until soft then add baked beans and blend with a hand blender.

Return to heat, add canned and fresh tomatoes and simmer for 5 mins. Purée again, et voila!


This is roughly 500ml, and I had 2 of these which I froze, and enough to use to make a ragu straight away.

It really didn’t take that long and produced a decent batch. The colour isn’t as appealing as a shop bought pasta sauce/ passata, so the ragu wasn’t as red as when I’ve made it before, but other than that it’s pretty good. If I were to have it on its own with pasta I think I’d need to add a bit of seasoning and herbs though.

I have a friend who went on a silent retreat recently: a whole weekend of no talking, no distractions and lots of meditation.

This sounds simultaneously wonderful and horrendous to me: wonderful because I can’t imagine many things as blissful right now as having no distractions, and some time for myself; horrendous because I would find switching off for that long so challenging.

I don’t know about you, but I find it quite hard to meditate. It’s incredibly difficult to stop thinking. I know the theory- recognise the thought or distraction and then let it go, but it’s quite frustrating to do!


 I know, I know, practice makes perfect.

And I will keep at it. But I actually find exercise to be a form of meditation, and I find it easier to lose myself and focus on the moment when training than when trying to meditate.

When running I focus on the way my foot strikes the ground, the way my body moves onto it and how my foot then propels me forward again. I feel how smooth the movement is; am I wasting energy bouncing up and down or can I maintain an efficient forward propulsion? And my breath, the rhythm of it.

I used to throw on my headphones and plod away, enjoying the rush of exercise, the challenge of beating my times, but not always the process itself. Since switching to a forefoot strike and becoming aware of technique, running has become much more meditative for me.

I had a similar experience with swimming, where slowing down and trying to achieve a more efficient,smoother stroke has kept my mind on what I’m doing in the water, rather than just singing in my head while I notch up the lengths.


But what are the benefits of mindful exercise?

Sure, I feel calmer, more relaxed and more clear headed after training like this. And I feel like my movement is more efficient. But what’s the science behind it?

Increased skill.

 Have you seen the video where you have to count the number of ball passes between the players? If you haven’t here it is:

It beautifully demonstrates how we can only really be aware of some of the sensory information our body is receiving. And when we focus on how something feels, that we weren’t fully aware of before, we excite neural activity. This is why, according to Todd Hargrove in A Guide To Better Movement, “focussed attention is one of the key requirements for practise that maximises neuroplasticity and associated motor learning.”

 So to gain the most from practising any skill, you need to be fully focussed on it. This kind of tunnel vision is something top athletes tend to excel at.

Decreased risk of injury.

When we focus on particular sensations in our body we can also improve the sensory information our bodies send our brain. This is kind of important!

Our brain has a sort of ‘map’ of our body, and our nervous system sends it information. Poor proprioreception means the information being sent to the brain is poor, often as a result of poorly facilitated muscles. Think of the difference between someone who closes their eyes and wobbles all over the place and a gymnast who does the same and remains still.

If the brain isn’t confident that a joint is stable, it can restrict range of motion in an attempt to protect it. And if the ‘body map’ in the brain is poor then movement control will suffer. Which means an increased risk of injury!

So to improve your proprioreception, regular mindful movements are best, and ideally they should be complex and novel, as these result in a stronger neural response. Do this by consciously trying to squeeze the muscles you know should be working. Over time it will become more subconscious.

A stronger muscular contraction.

The other advantage to focusing on the muscle being worked is it actually works a lot harder!

This article examines this by conducting a study into the effect of the mind-muscle connection on resistance training. If you’re interested then follow the link for more information, but it shows just how large an effect mindful focus can have.

It’s something I’ve been taught is especially important when coaching kegels, as many women can actually contract the wrong muscles, say the glutes, and not train the pelvic floor effectively. Many Women’s Health Physiotherapists will show their patient a model of the pelvis to aid this with visualisation, and I like to encourage clients to imagine drawing the pubis and coccyx (where the pelvic floor attaches) together.

In this blog physiotherapist and pelvic floor expert Sue Croft describes how effective using the model is, as she can “confirm that I can often feel a stronger contraction on palpation, when the patient views the model compared to not looking at it.”

So there you have it, whether meditation isn’t your thing, or if you’re just not that great at it yet like me, you can still reap some of the benefits by applying mindfulness to you workout!

The final video in my core series for Mums of Steel. Here I talk about alignment and how it can affect the healing of your diastasis recti.

If you haven’t already seen them, here is part 1 and part 2.

For an assessment and programme to help establish optimal alignment for diastasis repair, contact me for your free personal training consultation.

The second in my video series for Mums of Steel, looking at how our breathing technique affects the core. An important part of core training that is often overlooked!

If you haven’t watched Part 1, click here to watch it first.

To make sure your post natal training is on the right track book onto a class here.

To watch the final part in this series, go to Part 3 here, about how your alignment can affect your post natal recovery.

This is the first of 3 videos I did for Mums of Steel about the post natal core, looking at why the core doesn’t mean the abs, and what muscles we should be focusing on.

To watch the next video, explaining the importance of the ‘core breath’ and it’s role in stabilisation, watch part 2 here.

For a bespoke core restore programme find out more about personal training with me.

I’ve called this chicken stock, but that’s purely because that’s how I tend to use it. But broth, soup, stock; it’s all the same really.

I’ve written about the benefits to healing diastasis recti here, but this stuff really is packed with of all kinds of goodness. It’s full of gelatin, which is a digestive aid, and the collagen in it is the building block of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, and it promotes healthy skin and hair. Although be aware- some of the benefits of collagen are a bit over-sold: you can’t absorb it whole, but the protein from the amino acids it breaks down into is crucial for any form of healing.

They don’t call it Jewish penicillin for nothing! Chinese Medicine practitioners use it to treat illness, the Victorians’ drank ‘beef tea’, and don’t forget Russian borscht! And it’s not just tradition: this study by Dr Stephen Rennard at the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section of the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, found it has anti-inflammatory properties which help to ease symptoms of upper respitory tract infections and colds.

I’ve been making my own chicken stock for a while though, purely as a way to use leftover bones after having a roast chicken, and because it’s an easy way to make stock for other recipes, instead of using store-bought stock cubes.

Here’s how I make it.

  • I put the leftover chicken bones in the slow cooker (you can use a saucepan if it’s easier. I just like the slow cooker and often cook my whole chicken in there anyway.)
  • I add a selection of veg. Usually a celery stalk or 2, a few onions, carrots, garlic, make leek, then salt, and I quite like thyme.
  • Cover with water.


  • Put the slow cooker on low overnight, so it looks like this:


  • In the morning strain the liquid. The longer the better when it comes to cooking time, as it gives the bone more time to break down.


  • When it has chilled I scrape the fat off the top, then store in the fridge for 3 days, or in the freezer for a month or 2. I usually have 1-1.5 litres worth which I divide in to containers.

I have also shared a recipe for beef broth here.