A survey has found that a quarter of people in the UK have a Fear Of Finding Out health problems
GP and author Dr Ellie Cannon, our resident health expert, gives us the lowdown on the 3 biggest health stories this week.
1. Do you suffer from FOFO?
Hang around for a while next time you are in the loo to see what is going on. Looking before you flush is the latest message from Public Health England for us to be clear on cancer. Most women certainly notice blood at times not just from periods but commonly blood in the urine comes from a urine infection such as cystitis. But rarely it can be a sign of kidney or bladder cancer, so whatever you do don’t ignore it when you’re not expecting it. And according to latest figures for the UK, we are a nation who like to ignore things – whilst many of us admit to having FOMO, apparently a lot of us also have what is dubbed FOFO – fear of finding out about health problems. A survey by Populus has found that a quarter of people in the UK would not bother having a symptom examined for fear of the what the doctor may find and another 20% wouldn’t bother due to inconvenient appointment times or being too busy. This is a sorry state of affairs and certainly explains the poorer rates of early diagnosis in the UK compared to other countries.
A quarter of people in the UK have a fear of finding out health problems
2. This is the best age to freeze your eggs
Choosing to freeze your eggs is a decision more of us are making faced with waning fertility and a biological clock. But health bodies are urging caution to women tempted by success stories and the increasing normalisation of the technique. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advised women to be careful of the process which often incurs massive costs and side effects. Undoubtedly egg freezing offers women the chance to increase that window of opportunity to have a family when fertility may be declining naturally. But the majority of women are still taking the egg freezing opportunity too late, as a ‘last ditch’ attempt, rather than making a planned choice to freeze eggs in their early 30s when it is more likely to succeed. We all overrate success rates and underestimate the costs: because of lower success chances per egg with increasing age, a woman in her late thirties would need approximately 30 eggs to have a good chance of pregnancy. That would mean an average three cycles of ovarian stimulation to produce enough at a cost of around £15,000. And this excludes an annual storage fee of £200-400 and the cost of fertility treatment to use the eggs. And despite the cost, there is of course, no guarantee of a baby at the end.
The majority of women are still taking the egg freezing opportunity too late
3. Take the HPV shot
It is amazing news for all of us that the HPV vaccine is to be extended to boys in England, Scotland and Wales. Of course the HPV vaccine programme was originally introduced to offer women protection against cervical cancer, and it has already been a success with an 86% reduction in the prevalence of the cancer-causing virus HPV. But HPV doesn’t just cause cervical cancer: it is responsible for 5% of all cancers worldwide including cancers of the penis, anus and head and neck cancers, so the more of us who are protected – both male and female – the better to protect our whole community, across all ages and sexuality. 80% of us will be infected by HPV at some during our lives, in the majority of cases the infection won’t do the body any harm and it will go away. As more and more people get vaccinated, the chances of the viruses passing between sexual partners reduces, so everyone benefits from what is known as “herd immunity”. Women of all ages can opt into an HPV vaccine to protect themselves – many high street pharmacists and travel clinics offer the vaccine at a reasonable price and it’s certainly worth it. It’s really important to remember that even if you have had an HPV vaccine, your regular smear tests are still important.
HPV is responsible for 5% of all cancers worldwide
After much debate, the Argentinian senate has rejected a bill that proposed legalisation of abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The final vote saw 41 male senators and 28 female senators vote against the bill by 38 to 31.
Abortion is currently only legal in Argentina in cases of rape or health complications.
Pro choice protestors have been showing their support for the bill all over the world during passing weeks, with people gathering in cities such as Berlin, Rome, Melbourne, and Rio De Janeiro. Many wore green to express their support for abortion decriminalisation.
Following today’s decision, pro-choice supporters showed their frustration by beginning fires and throwing missiles at police.
Many also took to Twitter to express their defiance and determination to keep fighting:
Unfortunately, lawmakers must now wait another year before they are able to resubmit legislation.
One woman recounts her journey from heavily blemished 27-year-old to a fresh-faced, acne-free woman who no longer feels the need to wear foundation,,,
Words by Lamya Tilmatine
I was staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror with a face riddled with pimples and scars. This was no regular breakout – I had acne.
The pimples, some red and swollen others with white heads, were angry and quite painful, particularly to look at. At the time I was a 26-year-old teacher in Dubai, literally living the dream. Only, my skin had completely hijacked my life.
I couldn’t wear make-up without it caking around my spots, evenings out were ruined by my low self-esteem and feeling self-conscious and the heat only seemed to make it worse.
To top it off, I spent hundreds trying excessive amounts of high-street branded skincare with big names, bigger promises and a long ingredient list, which later I learned made my acne much worse.
Nothing was working and I started to hate going out – I didn’t even want my husband to look at me for long periods of time during conversation.
I decided it was time to take back control of my skin.
What I did first (and what didn’t work)
The first thing I did was research the best acne treatments that had worked for others, but they were either too expensive or completely unfounded – like the use of apple cider vinegar.
Sudocrem helped with inflammation and reduced the swelling of some pimples, but that’s it. However I did find plenty of information on key ingredients that help with acne – salicylic acid being the main one.
I popped down to the local shop and bought a generic face wash with matching moisturiser that had salicylic acid listed in the ocean of ingredients printed on the back.
After a week, it seemed to have made my skin worse.
I then tried Tea Tree oil, the holy grail of essential oils that claims to help fight acne – it had some effect but after months of using it as a toner, wash and spot treatment my skin became dry, flaky and immune to its extreme antibacterial properties.
I ended up having dark patches of dry skin around my chin and mouth so I dialled it down to only using it as a toner.
Call the doctor
After months of practicing my new skincare routine, little had changed and so I booked an appointment with my doctor.
She prescribed antibiotics, which I wasn’t too pleased with about as I wanted something I could sustain long term; I didn’t want to have to rely on antibiotics for clearer skin.
After two weeks it did help with one or two pimples, but it couldn’t keep up with the rate at which my pimples were forming. In a day, I could easily have two new pimples to join the pimple party that I had on my face.
It was time to try something else.
What causes acne?
‘I commonly see the following cycle – girl breaks out, girl panics, girl applies heavy-duty makeup to conceal blemishes… the acne worsens so she applies more make-up,’ says Dr Sam Bunting, a lead dermatologist and skincare expert, summing up my life with acne.
It is really important to understand what type of acne you have and how it is caused. With acne, the skin’s sebaceous glands are over producing oil (sebum), which clogs our pores, causing them to become infected and resulting in acne.
Acne can be ‘small red bumps – papules, red bumps with a white head – pustules or deeper, tender more lumps lesions – nodules and cysts’, explains Dr Bunting. These spots develop from blocked pores, too much oil and clogging of follicles with dead skin cells and grime from the day.
The little bumps found on our skin are sometimes open to air (blackheads), Dr Bunting explains, which the P. acnes bacteria thrives on if clogged and oily.
I then looked at changing my lifestyle in the hope of pinpointing a trigger.
I began by drinking more water, cutting out all processed food including genetically modified meat and dairy, as it ‘contains male-like hormones (androgens) and triggers our sebaceous glands into clogging up,’ Dr Bunting explains. ‘It’s much like the effect of our androgens in the week before our period.’
There’s also a link between high refined sugar intake and acne (goodbye chocolate), ‘as it increases insulin-like growth factor… this has been shown in some studies to increase acne lesion count, especially in women.’
After a few weeks of watching my diary and sugar intake I noticed my skins texture improved and my skin was less volatile; my adult acne seemed to have been brought on by a change in either my hormones or stress level and evidently my diet too.
What finally worked
Limiting your dairy and sugar intake is an essential first step with a proper skincare routine to beating acne.
Dr Bunting also stresses that ‘the right skincare and make-up make a huge different’ and ‘the key is to use non-comedogenic products’ – meaning they won’t aggravate blemish-prone skin by further clogging your pores.
The game-changing ingredients that should be included in your skincare routine are salicylic acid and glycolic acid. ‘Inflammatory acne is best treated with topical agents like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid’ and ‘non-inflammatory lesions [aka whiteheads and blackheads] are best treated with retinoids’ – a powerful acne fighting ingredient and scar healer says Dr Bunting.
I used Barbara Sturm’s Cleanser, £40, Space NK, which contains salicylic acid and was extremely gentle to the skin. The acid helps to unclog the pores and sloshes away build-up of dirt and dead skin cells, which prevents pores and blackheads from becoming infected.
Lixir Skin’s Night Switch PHA/AHA 10%, £20, Liberty, offers a great alternative, a small bottle but a potent product which you can add to your face oils or moisturisers for an overnight treatment. Another overnight treatment is Retinol product Bioelements Oil Control Sleepwear – it helps with redness, inflammation and helps clear clogged pores.
To treat those testy pimples head on I used another salicylic acid product, Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion, £16, Beauty Bay – I used this by dotting on each of my pimples. It packed a punch and stung slightly but it was working as pimples were visibly smaller due to the anti-inflammatory properties of zinc and calamine lotion.
To moisturise? Oils! You literally fight oil with oil and I cannot stress this enough. Try and stay away from mineral oils and incorporate acne friendly ingredients like rosehip oil and jojoba oil.
Products that help treat acne and blemish-prone skin which I found safe to use were Rå’s Eternal Radiance Oil, £65, Cult Beauty, and Herbivore Lapis Balancing Facial Oil, £60, Space NK, which contains hero ingredient azulene that fights bacteria and is anti-inflammatory.
From why you’re getting them to how to get rid of them…
Few women look forward to their periods for the simple fact that they are mentally and physically enduring.
Mood swings, food cravings, bloating, abdominal cramps, breast sensitivity, nausea, back pain and of course bleeding are common symptoms that accompany a monthly visit from ‘Aunt Flo’.
But there are also some lesser known symptoms that we too often dismiss as coincidental.
The main culprit? Menstrual migraines.
‘I’m dehydrated,’ we tell ourselves, or ‘I’ve been staring at my laptop screen all day’.
But while those are two valid headache-inducers, could your migraine actually have something to do with your period?
Well, unfortunately for women everywhere, yes, with menstrual migraines actually affecting over 50% of us.
Here’s everything you need to know…
What are menstrual migraines?
Menstrual migraines are a condition where women get intense and persistent headaches during or before their periods. While women frequently assume that menstruation is simply a trigger for a migraine, in the case of menstrual migraines, they are the sole cause.
What causes menstrual migraines?
They are mainly caused by the natural drop in the levels of oestrogen and the release of prostaglandin (a type of hormone) that occurs right before a period. This means that most menstrual migraines will occur in the two day run-up and the first three days of menstruation.
When do menstrual migraines generally occur?
Menstrual migraines usually occur before or during menstruation, with very few women suffering from menstrual migraines in a period’s aftermath. Migraines and headache pains can also occur during ovulation when this time the oestrogen and other hormones are at a high.
How can I get rid of menstrual migraines?
Menstrual migraines are treated the same as regular migraines, with recommended remedies including applying ice or a cold cloth to the painful area, relaxation exercises, pain killers and in some cases, acupuncture.
How can I prevent menstrual migraines?
Preventing or at least reducing the effect of headaches on your period is totally possible, with the preventative measures being the same for normal migraines, but anything that balances hormones is highly recommended.
Common treatments include a change in diet, eliminating simple carbohydrates, refined sugars and processed foods from your eating pattern. Sleep, exercise and hydration are also considered essential for balancing hormones and promoting a healthy metabolism.
Magnesium supplements have also been dubbed a preventative measure, but if the symptoms persist and aren’t reduced by trying the following, it might be best to contact your GP for help dealing with more acute pain.
Should I be worried about menstrual migraines?
There shouldn’t be any cause for concern, but should you be worried that it could be a symptom of something more severe, it might be worth contacting your GP.
Few women look forward to their monthly visit from ‘Aunt Flo’, so it might seem surprising that so many of us have looked into inducing our periods at some point in our lives.
While it’s true that people look into how to delay a period more frequently than how to bring it on, women do choose to kick-start their menstrual cycles for a variety of reasons. These usually include getting into a routine and getting the period over with before plans, whether it’s a beach holiday, a last minute date or just a day that you don’t feel like menstruating.
Is it possible to induce your period?
While there are no fail-safe techniques for kick-starting your period, it’s not all bad news, with lots of hacks out there recommended to make your time of the month come faster. From recommended foods and drinks to exercises to try, here’s everything you need to know about how to induce your period…
What foods can help to induce a period?
Pineapple is said to be the go-to fruit for inducing your period. Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that softens the uterus lining, helping it to shed and kick-starting your monthly flow, so try adding some to your diet or drinking pineapple juice. It is important to note that pineapples also increase the production of red and white blood cells, increasing blood flow and potentially leading to a heavier period than usual, but the good news is that the fruit relaxes muscles, easing your menstrual cramps.
While few of us would feature parsley as the main part of a dish, it turns out the herb is a mild emmenagogue and can help to kick-start your period, so you might want to look into some parsley recipes ASAP. Parsley can help to soften the cervix and level out hormonal imbalances that could be delaying your cycle, helping your period come faster. If you’re struggling to find a dish based on parsley, don’t panic – the most effective forms are said to be parsley tea and parsley vaginal inserts.
Ginger is said to be another herbal remedy for inducing a period, causing contractions of the uterus to jump-start your flow. Not only this, but the plant is also rich in antioxidants, making it great for pain relief and reducing vomiting and nausea. Say goodbye to period side effects. And just like with parsley, if you don’t want to eat the ginger, you can always up your intake of ginger tea.
Other foods that are said to help induce menstruation are potatoes, cherries, pineapple, kale, strawberries, kiwis, blackcurrants, cauliflower and anything rich in Vitamin C, so it looks like we should be stepping away from the junk food if we want to see results.
How can you induce a period?
Being fit and healthy is one of the factors that keeps your menstrual cycle constant, so regular exercise will ensure that your period will arrive on time. In terms of inducing a period, abdominal exercises have been recommended, with the muscle contractions said to make your period come faster.
As we all know, stress can mess with our menstrual cycles, and more often than not missing our periods or having them come late will be down to anxiety. Intense stress stops our body from producing the right hormones, thereby making our periods come later than usual, so actively relaxing should help to bring on your flow.
Is it dangerous to induce your period?
These are all natural remedies so they shouldn’t be harmful. You should however be careful about inducing your period if you are pregnant in case it puts you at risk of a miscarriage.
Delaying a period is something that we’ve all panic-searched at some point – trawling through the Internet (usually in desperation) to see if it’s possible to put your period off for a few days, whether it’s for a beach holiday, a last minute date or just to get a few more days of normality before ‘Aunt Flo’ pays her monthly visit.
The good news is menstrual suppression is totally possible, and there are all kinds of ways to go about it, with varying techniques depending on time, situation and effectiveness.
Some women employ the classic technique of taking contraceptive pill cycles back to back, thereby skipping a period altogether. If, however, you’re part of the new millennial movement coming off the pill, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered too.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to delay your period…
How can you delay your period on the pill?
Delaying your period with your contraceptive pill is a tried and tested method, and as long as you don’t suffer side effects, it’s definitely an effective option.
The method is simple – once you have got to the end of your pill cycle, you simply take another full round of your pill back to back instead of leaving seven days to menstruate like usual. You may experience spotting or breakthrough bleeding but you should skip the period all together.
You can also delay your period on other forms of contraception. If you use a contraceptive ring or patch, simply miss your week-long break and insert a new ring or patch in place, thereby skipping your period.
It is highly recommended with all forms of contraception that you don’t skip your period for more than three months.
How can you delay your period when you’re not on the pill?
For those of us who aren’t on the contraceptive pill, it’s a little more difficult to put your period off, but don’t sweat – it’s totally possible. If your period’s coming at an inconvenient time and you need to delay it, Norethisterone, the well known period-delay pill, is your answer. You’ll need a prescription to get it but the method is simple. You should take a pill three times a day, starting three days before your period is due, continuing for as many days as you need. A couple of days after stopping your Norethisterone intake, your period should start.
Is it possible to delay your period naturally?
This is a heavily debated question. Some people swear by natural remedies to keep the crimson wave at bay while others rubbish the rumours. Supposedly menstrual suppression can be accomplished through methods as easy as drinking lots of water, controlling stress levels and exercising regularly. There are however also some more complex remedies that people swear by. Cutting spicy foods out of your diet is highly recommended, with some people championing the wonders of eating lemons and gram lentils. Drink-wise, it takes a bit more dedication, with the two most highly recommended remedies being tablespoons of vinegar and gelatine mixed with water.
If you’re unsure about delaying your period or need a second opinion, consult your GP.
Proof that you can get salon results in the comfort of your own home
Whether you’re a fair-weather-hair-removal type of gal or a once a month regular, waxing at home has never been easier.
Yes you could opt for an in-salon bikini wax, but there really isn’t the need when you can do it so easily and for much less money from the comfort of your own sofa, in front of Love Island.
Waxing may be a little on the painful side, but it is quick and yields longer-lasting results than your razor will.
Read on to master the art of at home waxing, from lower leg to full-on Brazilian.
Waxing at home with wax strips
‘Making sure you have time, tools and the correct preparation are essential,’ says beauty and skin expert Nichola Joss.
The number one thing you should remember while waxing yourself is not to rush it, ‘take the time, make sure you have all the tools you need and prep the skin. Cleansing and exfoliating can help to ensure the skin is prepared for waxing, giving you better results. If you need to exfoliate the skin do this 24 hours before.’
‘On the day, cleanse the skin with a fragrance free non-oily product and ensure your skin is dry,’ Nichola advises. ‘Take your time and do one strip at a time, ensuring you gently apply to the skin. Remember to remove as instructed.’
Waxing strips need to be pulled from the skin in a single, quick move. Be bold and go for it. Slowly peeling them off will be uncomfortable and won’t remove the hair effectively.
‘After you have waxed the desired area, gently apply an oil and lightly massage into skin,’ Nichola adds. ‘Wait 24 hours before applying any self-tan.’
This kind of waxing involves removing ALL the hair; bikini line, vulva, butt crack, the works.
It’s not an easy one to do DIY so, we’re calling it: you’d have to be mad to do your own Hollywood wax at home. The logistics of removing all hair from your nether regions without causing yourself injury just isn’t worth it.
Brazilian waxes are very similar to Hollywood, except usually a small, visible strip of hair is left on the vulva (the external part of your lady garden). Again, unless you’re a pro, we don’t really recommend you try this one at home.
We investigate one of this year’s biggest beauty buzzwords…
One of the biggest wellness trends for 2018 is natural deodorant, as more and more of us ditch chemical formulas in favour of a gentler choice.
To see if they’re worth the hype, I wore natural deodorant for a week to see how it fared in comparison. I went in expecting to feel a little more sweaty than usual, but hoped that it would at least live up to the de-odourising part.
What is natural deodorant?
Traditional, chemical deodorant usually contains aluminium, which blocks the sweat glands and prevents odour, as well as alcohol. These can be irritating on particularly sensitive skins or those prone to eczema.
According to the American National Institute of Health, scientists believe that there may be a link between the chemicals in deodorant and cancer, although no specific, conclusive evidence or definitive causal link has been found yet.
That said, some people prefer to play it safe and stick to natural formulas. Natural deodorants differ from chemical formulas in that they don’t block the pores, allowing the good bacteria in your underarms to keep working.
The thing you need to know about natural deodorants is that their primary function is to stop you from smelling, not sweating. I was fortunate enough to be testing the formula during the hottest week of 2018 so far, so I knew it was going to be put through its paces in the odour deparment.
The Eucalyptus not only smells great but feels gentle cool on your underarms upon application. The formula has a consistency a bit like a thin, non-greasy lip balm and doesn’t leave behind a thick residue once applied.
Full disclosure: I was a little sweaty as a braved the likes of the Central Line – but less than I was expecting. The important thing was I didn’t smell, even post-commute, and the neutralising formula delivered as promised.
When you wash it off in the shower you feel it lather up, meaning that the formula has stayed put for the day.
I think I might just be a natural deodorant convert. Keep scrolling for the other buys that get the green light from team Marie Claire.
Because there is no such thing as too much information – especially when it comes to our health
GP and author Dr Ellie Cannon is our resident expert on all things health. Here are her 3 top stories for this week.
1. Think you know the most common cancer in women, think again
Gynae cancer charity, the Eve appeal, have launched this month the first ever patient guide for women suffering with the most common cancer – cancer of the womb. Despite being the 4th most common female cancer there is little dialogue or awareness around the disease and as a result, sadly a lack of information for those newly diagnosed. Out of the five gynae cancers – vaginal, vulval, womb, cervix and ovary – womb cancer is in fact the most common but often the first time a woman has heard of it, is when she has been diagnosed. There are certainly issues around terminology: womb cancer may also be called uterine cancer or endometrial cancer reflecting the fact it is usually the lining of the womb (the endometrium) that is affected. It certainly isn’t a hidden cancer or “silent killer” as we sometimes label other more covert cancers: womb cancer will often cause bleeding when you’re not supposed to be bleeding ie after sex, between periods or after the menopause. Any bleeding that isn’t normal for you, even if that means heavier than normal periods, should be discussed with your GP. Given the plethora of health information around it is remarkable that this is the first comprehensive guide to be produced for the 9,200 women diagnosed with womb cancer each year in the UK.
9,200 women are diagnosed with womb cancer in the UK each year
2. Eggs are the best source of protein
Forget the protein powders and start eating eggs. A new report into nutrition globally, published in Network Health Digest, has revealed eggs to be such a good source of protein they can sustain growth in children even in the poorest countries where dietary intake is otherwise poor. Not only supporting protein intake, eggs of course provide vitamin and mineral support too making them an easy way for all of us to consume high quality protein. The report revealed that adding eggs to the diets of children in developing countries supported growth and prevented stunting: observing children in Ecuador, those who added one egg a day to their diet were 74% less likely to be underweight. Despite being relatively low in calories, eggs contain all the amino acids to support growth and development, as well as essential minerals such as iodine. And they’re not just for kids: as a macronutrient, protein is de rigeur of course for gym devotees and weight loss, curbing cravings for higher calorie snacks and honing muscles. You may not be able to put them in a shake and swig them after your workout, but with 2 eggs you’re easily halfway to the 50g of protein that you need a day with little fuss and minimum spend.
Two eggs contain approximately 25g of protein
3. Have you signed up to donate your organs yet?
Living kidney donation is being encouraged within BAME communities as a lack of organs can result in up to 3 year waiting lists for patients. In 2016/17 a third of all patients on the kidney transplant waiting list were from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background. A new initiative is set to improve this from the heart of communities and faith-based organisations by promoting living kidney donations through their work. This is particularly crucial as kidney disease disproportionately affects BAME communities but there is sadly a lack of organs: there is a shortage for people from all backgrounds but the problem is particularly acute for kidney patients from BAME communities. Black and Asian families are less likely to agree to organ donation after death, which means BAME kidney patients are more reliant on living donations. The project to increase living kidney donation has inspired 16 potential loving donors in its first year: 3 have already become living donors and a further 13 are undergoing the assessment process. A further 150 people have expressed an interest in living donation: whilst the numbers may seem small this is hugely significant as there were only 143 living kidney donors from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK in 2016/17. The Living Transplant Initiative is managed by the National BAME Transplant Alliance and funded by the NHS transplant service.
Already more than 150 people have expressed an interest in living donation
Welcome to our Marie Claire Masters series, a regular beauty franchise that celebrates and utilizes the expertise of women who are bossing it in their fields. Each month these Masters will educate, demonstrate and impart some of their industry wisdom to you the dedicated Marie Claire reader. From current trends and hot topics to how tos and how not tos, these beauty whizz kids are at our beckon call. So get reading, you never know what you tips you might pick up. KT – Digital Beauty Editor
I’m Catie Miller, owner and founder of Xtend Barre’s London flagship studio, where we offer classes that combine dance, ballet and Pilates. I understand that not everyone has the time or money to attend regular exercise classes, and so in my new role as the Marie Claire Fitness Master, each month I will creating simple at home exercises based on the workouts at Xtend Barre.
These exercises are designed to sculpt your muscles through dynamic stretching and increase your heart rate for that cardio burn. You can do these workout moves anywhere, anytime. All you need is a chair and a set of ½ kilo dumbbells (if you don’t have any, use two 50cl water bottles). Start working on three exercises, then work up and combine the six for a longer dynamic workout.
At home exercises
The basic positions
Within the sequences, I mention various ballet positions. Don’t worry if you don’t know them, previous dance experience isn’t needed. Here are the basic positions…
Standing center of the floor, feet hip width distance apart and arms out in front in 1st position with dumbbells in hand. Brush the right leg out in front of you bringing the thigh towards your chest, not the chest to the leg. Keeping the back straight and arms strong continue this movement alternating leg lifts with fluidity and strength. (8 reps for each set—up to 2 sets).
Step 2: Make it a bit harder
Continue the leg lifts for another 2 sets with added arm movements to challenge the core. Swing opposite arms to legs. Arms should move in a controlled swing reaching to the sky and to the floor.
Step 3: Cardio challenge
Add a little hop with each leg lift and swing. I love to make hearts race.
Second exercise: Curtsy Plies
Muscle Focus: hamstrings/quadriceps/core
Standing centre of the floor with your legs open to a wide 2nd position. Make sure feet are turned out and the arms are stretched out to the side from the shoulders. Step one leg from 2nd to curtsy (cross foot behind), plié down in each position. The working leg is moving as the supporting leg is still. Arms open from 2nd (when the legs are in 2nd) and 1st (when the legs are in curtsy). 8-16 reps
Step 2: Make it a bit harder
Continue for another 8-16 reps. Curtsy the right leg as the right arm reaches towards the floor and the left arm extends up at a high diagonal. Step right foot to tendu side as arms come back to 1st.
Tip: Keep a proud chest, square shoulders and hips and even placement between both feet.
Step 3: Cardio challenge
To finish take your curtsy straight to a passé adding a hop at the top before you place it back down into curtsy. Feel the hamstring and quadriceps burn.
Third exercise: Hug and Carriage
Muscle Focus: deltoids and pectoralis major (with advancement quadriceps)
Standing center of the floor begin with your feet in 1st position (heels together, toes turned out) with a soft bend at the knees and arms in 1st position. Begin with arms in front of body (1st), step legs and arms to 2nd, close legs and arms to 1st, step again to 2nd. 8 reps in each direction.
Step 2: Make it harder
Repeat the above but on the last one, extend your inside leg to tendu and sweep arms through 2nd to high 5th. 8-16 reps each direction.
Step 3: Cardio challenge
Continue with the hug and carriage movement for another 8-16 reps adding in a little hop as you take the leg out to tendu.
Tips: Maintain soft knees throughout series. Move gracefully with control and resistance. Remember to pull your abs in and up.
Fourth exercise: Tricep Kick Backs
Muscle Focus: Triceps w/ lower body stabilisation
Square off the hips and shoulders. Reaching both arms above the hips with your palms facing each other, bend/extend the arms, keep the elbow lifted. The bend is small, concentrate on extending the arms to engage the triceps fully. 8-16 reps.
Step 2: Make it harder
Add a lunge when you bend the arms and straighten the legs when you extend the arms. 8-16 reps.
Step 3: Cardio challenge
Continue with the lunge/tricep kick-backs and add a kick of the back leg off the floor. Think about extending the leg longer, not higher to activate your core and glutes for an added burn. Hold the leg and arms off the floor for your final balance.
Tip: Try all 3 levels back to back to increase the heart rate. Try slowing it down or pick up the tempo!
Exercise 5: Xtend Teaser
Muscle Focus: Abdominals, shoulders
Begin seated on your mat. Reach arms out behind your body on the mat. Draw knees in to balance on tailbone. Draw one leg to table top and then alternate to the other leg focusing on lifting through the spine and the abdominals to balance. 8-16 reps.
Step 2: Make it harder
Add the opposite arm lift to challenge the core and balance. Alternate to the other side fluidly. 8-16 reps.
Step 3: Cardio challenge
Lift both legs and arms at the same time reaching to a teaser position. 8-16 reps. Hold at the top for your final balance lifting through the crown of the head, lengthening the spine and drawing the abdominals in. 8-16 counts.
Tips: Focus on lifting through the chest and drawing the shoulders down!
Exercise 6: Plank
Muscle Focus: Core, Hip Extensors
Begin with legs together in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Hold your plank for 8-16 counts.
Step 2: Make it harder
Continue holding your plank and add a passé with the leg to focus on core strength and lower abdominal connection. Alternate leg passé. 8-16 reps
Step 3: Cardio challenge
Continue alternating leg passé and pick up the tempo to a mountain climbing run. 8-16 reps.
Tips: Remember to focus on your core strength. Lower down to your forearms if you have any wrist injuries. Keep abdominals in and shoulders down.
It really is as easy as that. Repeat these moves three times a week, until I’m back next month with more easy to do at home exercises.