Goodbye Cellulite..

With the nice weather approaching and summer clothes making their first appearance of the season, many of us are now thinking about a problem that affect four in five women in Europe: cellulite. Aromatherapy can help you improve the appearance of cellulite. Research has shown that some essential oils indeed possess properties that are helpful in eliminating toxins, improving skin’s texture and stimulating blood and lymph circulation, thus reducing cellulite. Leila Denison-Pender, specialist in Pregnancy Massage and Aromatherapy in West London gives us her top oils to help combat that ‘orange peel’ feeling:

-          Juniper berry (Juniperus communis), known for its lipolytic (i.e. its ability to break up fat) and diuretic action

-          Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), for its cleansing, hormone balancing and lymphatic action

-          Grapefruit (Citrus paradisii), for its astringent and lipolytic action

-          Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), for its astringent, lipolytic and detoxifying action.

For the best results, a weekly aromatherapy massage treatment with a blend of the above essential oils over the course of 4-6 weeks is recommended, in conjunction with daily skin brushing, a healthy diet and exercise. The regular local application of an ointment blended with the above mentioned oils is also advised to further exacerbate the effect of the aromatherapy treatment.

Leila Denison-Pender is offering £5 discount for any bookings made by 31st July for any of the Beez Kneez mums. For more information about Leila’s aromatherapy massage treatments or to book an appointment, please contact


Why sit ups don’t get you a flat stomach..and which exercises to do instead

wants flat, toned abs, not just if you are a new mum or mum! The
problem is most people do not know how to get them.

to text books and numerous fitness magazine workouts and some health club
classes ab exercises revolve around bent knee sit ups, twisting bent knee sit
ups,curl ups and crunches. And these have been the ab training exercises
people choose for generations.

What do you currently do or have you done in the
past to flatten your abs and tighten your tummy?

  1. Fifty crunches or sit-ups/day…and you
    didn’t get results and may have hurt your neck and back from it
  2. Held the plank…without
    understanding that it needs to be flat (the area between the shoulders and butt
    resembles a sagging hammock)
  3. Used the latest ab
  4. Shoulder presses…while balancing or sitting on a swiss ball or
    bosu (half an inflated sphere)

So what’s the problem
with these exercises? 

  1. Fifty crunch lady – she is just working her abs,
    rather than her whole ‘core’, in only one direction
    (up and down) at a low intensity. If she has diastasis she will be further widening
    the gap between her abs (following pregnancy and childbirth) putting her back
    under further strain.
  2. The plank with bad form isn’t effective, however performed with good technique being
    completely straight from shoulder to toe, without flexing the lower back means
    this is one of the best exercises to work the whole core.
  3. The latest ab gizmo (don’t be fooled, bodyweight exercises are better)
  4. Shoulder presses on a swiss ball or bosu – great if
    you are rehabilitating from an injury otherwise you’d be
    better doing them with your feet on the ground and heavier weights as it provides
    more challenge to your abs and core (assuming you adopt good posture throughout the exercise)

Why Crunches and Sit-Ups don’t get your flat abs
and what you can do which will work!

Spot reduction doesn’t work and in the case of
crunches and sit-ups, it can hurt!

Research from a study at a State University in
Ohio tested how effective sit-ups were with 71 men and women split up into three groups. One
group didn’t do any sit-ups, another did three sets of 20 sit-ups three times a week
on non-consecutive days. The last group did sit-ups six days a week. The difficulty of
the sit-up was increased every four weeks. The
researchers were surprised by how ineffective the exercise proved to be. None
of the three groups showed any strength gains, muscle tone or reduction in waist size
or body fat percentage. Therefore the group which didn’t do any sit-ups got the same
results as those doing 60 sit-ups per day, six days a week.  The
research authors stated “This finding suggests that training the abdominals
with Resistance
levels short of fatigue is inadequate to produce strength gains,” So, a
more challenging
abdominal exercise needs to be employed to effectively exercise your abs, reduce
belly fat and waist size.

research from the University of Waterloo revealed that sit-ups can cause back
problems. According to Professor Stuart McGill (IDEA fitness Journal article – Jan
2010) “Realize that the spinal disks can bend only so often before
damage ensues,” So a crunch or sit-up is almost replicating the exact movement
to cause of bulging or herniated discs of the lumbar spine. Therefore doing
hundreds of reps is going to put your lower back at grave risk!

So what should you protect your back and flatten your abs

true function of your abdominal muscles, core and pelvic floor is stabilization
in different directions (and not just lying on your back!). So why does movement
forwards and backwards lying on your back dominate abdominal workouts? Exercising
the abs and core standing is more functional as we are standing when we need to
abs to be strong to lift, bend and carry our babies or little ones. You want a stable core, mobile hips, and a strong
but not over worked or too flexible lower back

best way to strengthen abs and improve core stability is via pillar stability
holds –  front and side pillars/planks,
hip extension holds, and all fours opposite arm and leg reach variations. Plus
it is better to focus on quality and form rather than quantity.

10-Minute Home Sample Core Stability Workout in
10 mins

We are going for perfect form and quality for the best results. So aim to do each exercise for 10 second with 3 secs rest and repeat 6 times. 
This is better than doing 1 set of
a 60-second hold, which can be too difficult and tricky to keep with good technique! 

  1. Front Pillar/Push-up Hold
  2. Left Side Pillar Hold
  3. Right Side Pillar Hold
  4. Hip Extension or on all fours opposite arm and leg reach Hold
  5. Knee Raise Hold (standing)

Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy


You may experience occasional aches in your pelvic region during pregnancy and this is common due to the hormonal changes taking place and the secretion of relaxin, whose job is to soften and widen the joints preparing your body to deliver the baby.

However, with some women pelvic pain can sometimes mean symphysis publis dysfunction (SPD) or Diastasis Symphysis Pubis in it’s more severe form, which is a pelvic joint pain. So it’s essential to monitor the pain and symptoms, which I’ll tell you about further on.

The pelvis is four separate bones joined at the front by the Symphysis pubis. There’s a normal gap of 4-5mm between the two pubic points. During pregnancy, the gap widens by another 2-3mm, as the hormone, relaxin is secreted to allow the pelvis in preparation to aid the baby to pass down the birth canal.

With some women excessive amounts of the hormone or where the pelvis is out of alignment can cause the gap to stretch too far, resulting in pain and discomfort. When this happens there may be pain or swelling over the joint. This can happen at any stage of pregnancy or after the birth – most commonly it is during the second trimester. In severe cases, some women can be incapacitated by the pain and need crutches during later stages of pregnancy.

Symptoms for SPD include:

  • Pain in your pubic area and groin.
  • Pain in the inside and down the thighs.
  • Lower back and hip pain (as the whole pelvis is under strain).
  • Pain when you walk, step, go up and down stairs or get out of bed.
  • A clicking sound that you can hear.
  • A feeling that your bones are grinding together.
  • Difficulty and pain when you try and open your legs.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s vital to get this checked with your doctor or midwife. If SPD is confirmed you’ll be referred to an obstetric physiotherapist, who can prescribe exercises for you.
Prior to the birth ensure you tell your midwife so they can help find a position that is comfortable to you.

Exercise considerations:

  • Avoid activities which take the legs apart and also bring them together as these can cause pain. Squatting, Lunging, stepping, walking, yoga, breast stroke can produce pain.
  • Avoid activities on one leg.

The good news is there are exercises you can do to remain strong and fit. I have trained pregnant clients with SPD and by working closely with the client and their physiotherapist the condition has not got worse.

Exercises you can do:

  • Squat with feet and legs together – like a ski squat would avoid the legs being apart.
  • Core exercises (avoid lying on your back after the thirteen to fourteen weeks), side planks and knee planks
  • Pelvic tilts – addressing posture
  • Standing wall press-ups (legs together)
  • Lateral Raises and upright rows with resistance bands – sat on a chair or fitness ball with the feet together (second trimester)
  • Pelvic Floor exercises

!Stop any of these exercises immediately if they do cause you pain and get your condition and pain checked out again!

7 Delicious Healthier Ways to Eat Chocolate..but still get your fix

Most females like their bout of chocolate and chocolate seems to get a lot of attention. From dark to caramel, from chocolate lovers week-ends away to Charlie and the Chocolate factory and last week it was National Chocolate week!

But we all know that eating chocolate is not such a good idea if you’d like to stay in shape during pregnancy and flatten your mummy tummy post baby. The fat and sugar content from eating poor quality stuff, too much of it and too often can not only creep on quickly as extra weight (especially around the tummy) it can also lead to health risks such as diabetes. However as soon as you tell yourself that you can’t eat that piece of chocolate, it’s all you’ll think about until you realise you’ve delved right into eating the full bar! And as for the cravings you may get due to hormones, stress, emotions, being a mummy, it is very easy to reach for the chocolate as a comfort factor!

So with some creativity and research (which was fun!) I’ve put together a list of Seven Delicious Healthier ways to Eat Chocolate. So you’ll improve the quality of your chocolate ‘fix’ and  save yourself the health risks and calories.

1. Chocolate Covered Fruit
Dip some strawberries or other fruit into good quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids) and you can both satisfy a chocolate craving and add fruit to your diet at the same time. A thin coating, means not too much for your waistline, and the fruit will help satisfy your appetite to avoid overindulging. Save the calories Tip: Keep the coating thin and go for 3-4 pieces of fruit or strawberries

2. Cacao Nibs
Your healthiest choice ! Eat these whole. This is what true chocolate is made from -  cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled and prepped to be  processed into chocolate bars. Crush cacao nibs with a rolling pin and to make chocolate chips and add to natural yogurt as an extra to a snack. Or create a raw chocolate bar, blend together cacao nibs, agave nectar, carob powder, coconut oil, cacao butter and cashews or almonds (without the shell). Pour into a tray and freeze.

3. The Cheeky Chocolate Mousse from the Pure Package, London’s leading gourmet diet food delivery company. There’s three great things about this indulgent delight is that it not only tastes great, it has zero sugar and it is dead easy to make!
Full of dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants..
Check out their recipe here (taken from The Pure Package: The DIET for Food Lovers, Jennifer Irvine)

4. Chocolate Brazil Nuts
Save the waistline Tip: Just 3 of these is enough for a chocolate fix with the added benefits of the nutrients of brazil nuts containing essential healthy fats. Aim for dark chocolate coated ones.

5. Chocolate Goji berries
Goji berries are filled with powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and other illnesses, including heart disease. Their antioxidants may also boost the immune system, lower cholesterol and may slow the aging process as well. I recommend this brand dipped in raw chocolate.
Save the waistline Tip:
Keep to a small handful covering half a palm as the raisins are still high in calories.

6. Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies
You won’t notice the Beetroot and neither will your kids or other half! These have around half the fat of regular brownies and the added nutritional benefit of the beetroot, which is rich in Betalian and antioxidants that help reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Also high in folic acid (great for pregnancy), vitamins A, B-1, B-2 and C and minerals iron, calcium and potassium. Beetroot is also said to have a cleansing and detoxifying effect on the kidneys and gall bladder. This recipe still contains sugar so.. Save the Waistline Tip: Cut the brownies into small squares (1 inch by 1 inch) and eat just one.

7. Hot Chocolate Drink (Green & Black’s dark variety)
Great once a week treat – especially around this time of year. It is of better quality than your usual hot chocolate as you have the health benefits of the dark chocolate powder.  Try it with Almond Milk rather than regular milk for healthy fats.

Just remember two key things when trying these ideas:

Dark Chocolate is good source of flavinoids, which milk doesn’t have.  It also gives you a sense of fullness and rarely has so much sugar added to it.  You need at least 70% cocoa solids.


How much? Aim for 2 squares – enough to give you a ‘fix’.
Why is that?
For information! Green & Black’s Miniatures (15g) has 85 calories compared to a snack Cadbury milk chocolate bar which has 210 calories or bag of Malteasers which has 187 calories!






How to get a flatter tummy with these easy food tips

Q. “I had my baby over 8
weeks ago and really want to get rid of my flabby belly but find it’s difficult
to prepare and cook food with a baby! Any advice to help rid my stomach”?
Sylvia, Mum to Isabel

Its quite a challenge to focus on your own health whilst looking after your new baby or toddler!  So focus on these steps first:

  1. Eat a little and often to keep your metabolism up. Starving yourself means your body holds onto body fat; if you eat regularly your body is more likely to burn fat for fuel. Instead of focusing on calories, think about how nutritious a food is – for instance hummus and carrot sticks will nourish your body more than the same number of calories from a slice of cake. To breakdown fat your body needs optimum levels of vitamins and minerals, which are often depleted after pregnancy, so nutrient-rich foods are key.
  2. Go easy on portion sizes – your stomach is not much bigger that your fist. Chew food well and always wait 20 minutes before having seconds – often by then you are no longer hungry.
  3. Choose healthy ready meals such as ready-cooked
    lentils, quinoa or pre-made salad pots that can easily be mixed with some
    veggies and cooked chicken, for example.
  4. Have a cook-off. Choose an evening or weekend, make a big batch of fruit salad or a dish that will last a few meals/can be frozen.
  5. Plan your meals (and shopping list) a week in advance – this takes a bit of time in the short -term but it makes quick, healthy eating so much more
    achievable in the long term. Worth it!
  6. And finally, keep up the exercise!!! This not only burns calories but increases your metabolism – so you will be burning more calories per minute, even while you sleep…


Time wasting exercises for a new mum or mum to be

As busy new mums or mums to be we simply don’t have time to waste doing exercises that are ineffective in getting us results or that may even cause us injury. Exercise time is precious and need not involve hours in the gym on various machines. For a pregnancy and post natal exercise programme to be effective, the right exercises need chosen and they to be performed correctly with good technique. Think quality rather than quantity.

So which ones should you avoid, why should you not bother doing them, which ones
would be better, and how can you make your exercise programme more efficient
and effective?

Here’s the top five time wasting exercises you can do and what you can do instead to
get a shapier, well-balanced more sculpted look in less time!

1. Bicep Curls

Many people still stand there performing the bicep curl up and down with a dumb-bell
or bar. The bicep is one of the smallest major muscle group of your body, so it
doesn’t need as much attention as you think and secondly the curl is an
isolation exercise.  An isolation exercise means you are only exercising one muscle, in isolation, and ignoring the other muscles which complement it, known as the ‘assisting’ muscles.   Isolation exercises are not functional.  When you do daily activities your body does not just use one muscle in one direction to do something.

For example. When you lift a box or car seat you are not just using your biceps. You are also using your shoulders, forearms and triceps. By not allowing the other muscles to assist and support the main muscle you can promote muscle imbalance plus miss out on multi-tasking your muscles in one move!
Which exercise to do instead.
The push-up which tones your shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps and abdominals in one move.  So, you get more for your money and time!

2. Abdominal curls (or sit-ups)
Endless rounds of sit-ups or abdominal curls is not the most effective way of flattening
your abdominals after you’ve had a baby. Firstly the move will actually make any separation of your abdominals worse, leading to lower back pain. Secondly most people perform them with incorrect technique. Thirdly it is simply not a functional move – that means that you are only recruiting one muscle the rectus abdominals (or six-pack muscles) in only one direction lying on your back.  In everyday life and activities you do not lie on your back lifting your head and shoulders up!  The sit-up or crunch misses out on engaging the deep abdominal muscles, the transverse and the obliques (waist).

Two things you need to do with post natal strengthening of the abdominals:
One is to learn to control your abs by re-connecting and re-training them when they are doing exercises so they can ‘switch on’. Two, you need to do stabilisation movements. This means your body is in a position where it must stabilise your spine and pelvis for a certain amount of time. Your body learns to co-ordinate and recruit the deep abdominal muscles (the core stabilisers) which have been most effected by pregnancy – it’s these muscles (which are like a corset, deep
muscles wrapping around your body) that flatten the abdominals post pregnancy. 
Which exercise to do instead.
Focus on improving core stability with planks (pillar holds), side planks (side pillar holds), hip extension holds, and all fours opposite arm and leg reach variations such as the ‘bird dog’.

3.  Leg extensions

My pet hate! This is where you are sat on a machine in the gym, with your back supported and our feet under a roller thing. You extend your legs up level with your knees and then bending them to take them back to the start position.

This exercise isolates your quadriceps, front thigh muscles.  Most peoples front thigh muscles are stronger than their hamstrings (back of thighs) and glutes (bottom) and just focusing on strengthening these, whilst ignoring the other muscles creates a muscle imbalance leading to injuries.  As you are also sat on a machine you are not
using the glutes (bottom) or hamstrings, which you can also exercise and tone in other more effective exercises whilst at the same time sculpting your thighs. You can also
damage your knees as you can lock these out when extending the legs.  As the knee joint is commonly stressed during pregnancy due to weight of the growing fetus and a weakened core, you wouldn’t want to make this worse!
Which exercise to do instead.
Squats, lunges and power skips

Bonus Tip.  Incorrect technique
Even good exercises such as the plank and the squat and lunge are ineffective if
performed with incorrect technique.  Plus this can lead to injuries and pain which set you back from exercising.
In the plank for example you must avoid letting your hips sag or flexing your
lower back. Your body should form a straight line from your neck through your
With the squat you should load your heels, keep your abs tight with your navel
slightly pulled in and focus on squeezing your glutes as you extend up to
standing. Your knees should not go forward over your toes.

If you are unsure of the incorrect technique it is worth hiring a personal trainer or attending a group class so that you can be shown the correct form, which is easier and more effective than trying to work it out for yourself!

Aching after your exercise session? Ways to reduce the soreness

Ever experienced soreness the day or two after an exercise session?  Many people have! It is known as Delayed Muscle Onset Soreness (shortened to DOMS) simply – muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness. It is usually felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine.

Try not to be alarmed even if you are pregnant.  Delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to the different exercise or exertion and is part of an adaptation process of your body that leads to improved stamina and tone as the muscles recover and build.

The soreness will be at it’s worse within the first 2 days following a new, more intense activity and slowly subsides over the next few days.

Tips for Dealing with Muscle Soreness After Exercise for both pregnancy and post natal.

Try these methods to deal with your discomfort, they are not all are backed up with research, but many people ease the soreness with one of these remedies.

  • Use Active Recovery. Low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming or walking increasing blood flow.
  • Some R and R (Rest and Recover). The soreness will go away in 3 to 5 days with no special treatment.
  • Try a Pregnancy or Post Natal Massage. Some research has found that massage may help reduce reported muscle soreness and reduce swelling,
  • Try an Ice Bath or Contrast Water Bath. (Not the most popular option (!) but if you go for this one, take a Holiday/Travel Magazine in the bath with you and just fill the bath so your legs are covered. An Ipod with favourite music will take your mind off the cold too!
  • Gentle Stretching. Many people find it simply feels good, although there is no evidence that stretching alone reduces muscle pain of soreness,.
  • Listen to Your Body. Avoid any vigorous or high impact activity, which is certainly not suitable in pregnancy or soon after a baby in any case or exercise that increases pain.
  • Warm Up completely before your next exercise session (this is a vital part of theBeezKneez classes which is why we incorporate the dynamic stretches). This can help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness
  • ** If your pain persists longer than about 7 days or increases despite these measures, consult your physician.

How to ward off a cold this Christmas

Being such a busy time of year and with the cold weather reallly kicking in so many of us and our kids come down with colds, coughs and the flu as our immune systems are lower and our bodies less fit to ward off the illnesses!  Boosting your immune system is key to not only recovering faster but also means you have less chance of catching the cold and sickness bugs in the first place.  So I picked our Scrummy Mummy, Nutritionist’s, Steph Ridley’s brains for her top tips to ward off colds and flu this Christmas so you can enjoy the festivities and not have to spend it in bed with a box of tissues!
Vitamin C and ‘antioxidants’ are key to boosting your immune system. These are found in fruits and vegetables and whilst your diet may include plenty of these the amount of actual vitamin C your getting from your fruit and vegetables may not be as high as you think. Vitamin C is water soluable and heat sensitive so these elements deplete their levels. Any heat processing, which occurs during the manufacturing process of juice, and boiling or cooking vegetables reduces the vitamin C content.   

  •  So, always buy a juice which says ‘NOT from concentrate’. Orange juice from concentrate is more radically heat processed. Better still squeeze your own from pure oranges.  
  • Drink a mug of hot water every morning with lemon and manuka honey will give you a real boost. The lemon contains vitamin C and the manuka honey is a natural antibacterial agent.
  •  Steam your veg – we often think by eating vegetables and fruit we are having vitamin C but if these have been subjected to prolonged heat this destroys the vitamins and nutrients. Steaming and stir-frying your vegetables is the best way to retain vitamins as they are quicker cooking methods.
  • Add a daily handful of berries such as blueberries, blackberries or Strawberries to your breakfast or snack you’ll be taking in more antioxidants to boost your immune systems
  • Eat plenty of green vegetables in particular brussel sprouts – these have high levels of vitamin C.

For a lovely green vegetable recipe which takes just ten minutes to prepare, go to the Beez Kneez recipe binder on the bbc good food website.

How to get glowing skin

What you eat can influence the health of your skin. Eating the right nutrients for healthy skin formation and supporting detoxification pathways naturally, to reduce toxin elimination via the skin, can all help. Steph Ridley, Nutritional Therapist and founder of Nourish to Flourish’s easy essential tips to glowing skin:

        • Keep hydrated – skin cells lose water every day so you need to replace it by drinking fresh, filtered water daily – ideally 1.5 litres/day
        • Include plenty of liver-supporting veggies in your diet to promote natural detoxification pathways – these include onions, leeks, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot and artichokes.
        • Essential fatty acids – ‘essential’ being the key word! These are needed to keep skin cell membranes fluid and supple. Make sure you have enough in your diet by including some raw nuts/seeds each day and organic eggs (well cooked) and oily fish, such as salmon or sardines, twice a week. Alternatively, find a good quality omega supplement (suitable for pregnancy/breastfeeding if necessary).
        • Vitamin-C rich foods – a vital ingredient to that all important ‘glow’. Vitamin C supports collagen formation needed for healthy skin – raw tomatoes, freshly squeezed juices, peppers and berries are all good sources.
  • Avocados can be eaten regularly as they are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant found in sebaceous gland secretions believed to help protect fats needed to keep the skins surface supple.
  • Five a day – five pieces of a mix of fruit and vegetables means a good intake of fibre that helps clear toxins from the gut that can otherwise work their way back into the body for excretion via the skin.
  • ZZZZZZ – Keep your skin clear of toxins by using suitable beauty products and getting your shut eye!  A good 7 hours of sleep each night if possible – this is when your body does most of its skin regeneration. (or take a nap when your baby naps and do not feel guilty about it).

Delicious Baked Fish

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Soak a pinch of saffron in 2 tbsp warm water.

Slice 1 medium potato per person into 1cm slices and par-boil for approx 6-8mins. Drain and layer them across the bottom of a roasting pan, big enough to hold a sea bass/ sea bream (for 2) or any white fish.

Clean the fish and slash it several times each side and then season.

Lay the fish on the potato slices and scatter 2 red peppers, 1 courgette and 2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes either side of the fish and pour over the saffron water, a glug of stock and cover with several sprigs of thyme and/or parsley. Drizzle over 4tsp regular olive oil and season.

Cover with foil and bake for approx 1hr or until the fish is cooked through. Serve with a handful of leaves and some olives.

Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Ridley, Nutritional Therapist. or