Model, marathon runner and new mum Nell McAndrew offers her advice on how to exercise, energize and eat well after giving birth
Accomplished amateur athlete Nell McAndrew gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Anya, earlier this year (her son Devon is now six). She exercised throughout her pregnancy, running six miles a day at the 20-week mark and visiting the gym twice weekly – no mean feat! We took the opportunity to grill Nell on how she finds time to exercise and keep her energy levels up with a baby under the age of six months.
‘I don’t have a strict exercise regime,’ Nell explains. ‘I waited until Anya was 10 weeks old before starting running again.’ She is at pains to make clear that she is a normal mother, who struggles to find time to exercise between parental duties. ‘My only chance to exercise is when my baby is asleep, but usually I end up cleaning and tidying, or doing emails instead!’
The overwhelming fatigue experienced by new mums everywhere is a feeling Nell knows all too well. ‘I am often in a bit of a haze, a bit like the feeling of jet lag, so I tend to try and go to bed when my children go to bed so I get a couple of hours' sleep before my first wake up in the night,’ she adds.
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However, the school run has proven a great way for this running enthusiast to squeeze in a daily dose of exercise and feel energized.
‘Walking is good. I have found that my ‘power walk’ to school and back twice a day has been something that I have enjoyed doing,’ she says. ‘Plus, it’s good to be out in the fresh air rather than stuck in the car.’
She advises new mums to consider substituting the school drop-off for a brisk walk or, alternatively, to ‘invest in a running pushchair. I used mine every day when my son was younger,’ she says, adding that when Anya is six months old, she intends on dusting hers off and getting into the great outdoors with her daughter in the buggy.
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Another quick way of toning up when you’re short of time? Floor exercises.
‘Good exercises to do at home are squats, press-ups, planks and general stretching,’ Nell advises. ‘Always try and do pelvic floor exercises – I know it is easier said than done as usually it is the last thing on your mind when racing about with children!’
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Her motivation is all generated by the improvement it makes to her mood. ‘I know how much better I feel if I exercise,’ she explains, when asked what drives her on when she’s feeling rushed off her feet. ‘I feel so much happier and more energized.’
On top of brisk daily walks, runs and home exercising, Nell supplements her healthy lifestyle with a suitably well-balanced diet. ‘I am eating very healthily,’ she explains. ‘Lots of porridge, muesli with either oat or rice milk, avocados on brown toast or tins of mackerel with spinach on rye bread. To eat little and often helps keep up energy levels, especially if you are breastfeeding.’ She also makes a conscious effort to stay hydrated: ‘I am drinking lots of water, which can increase energy levels.'
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So does Nell have any other secret weapons for keeping fighting fit? ‘I take two sachets of Spatone natural iron supplement every day,’ she reveals. ‘I always give my son a sachet in a drop of orange juice each morning.’ On top of boosting her iron levels, Nell also takes Pregnacare (multi-vitamins) and ‘lots of Eskimo fish oils. Oh, and my daily intake of dark chocolate is a must!’
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So what’s next for the marathon-junkie and mum of two? ‘I would love to run another marathon, but now I have more family commitments I will have to wait and see,’ she explains of her upcoming exercise agenda. ‘For now, I’ll focus on shorter runs like 5Ks and 10Ks. I’ve managed to take part in my local Parkruns,’ she adds. (Parkruns are timed 5K runs that take place every Saturday morning around the UK, and are free to take part in for anyone of any ability).
Nell has also just started to re-visit her home workout DVDs – an experience she has found surprisingly taxing. ‘I have just started to use bits of mine,’ she explains. ‘I do the core and stretch section of my latest DVD Peak Energy Recharged. I had forgotten how hard it is to do!’
Nell McAndrew on exercising while pregnant
Nell McAndrew uses Spatone natural iron supplements, £9.95 for 28 sachets (4 weeks supply) from Boots. Find out more at www.spatone.com.
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