Fitness expert and mum of three Gillian Urquhart is our new yummy fitness columnist – and she will be giving you tips on how to get in shape for Christmas…

Gillian, 39, who is the founder of Highland Hustle – a cardio on-line workout based on Highland dancing (www.highlandhustle.com; check out this clip

has been dancing since she was five, and is on hand to get us all in shape and has come up with some tips just for us.

She said: “Scottish Highland dancing is a great way to give you a cardio work-out while having fun.

“The pace is fast and furious, we all go for it and are absolutely exhausted by the end of just a couple of dances. It’s a real work-out without the monotony of many an exercise class or regime, which is why I think Highland Hustle classes work. proving popular. It reminds us of all the fun we have at ceilidhs.” 

September – under 100 days to Christmas

Start here if you want to get  into your little black dress…

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So the sad fact is summer is on it’s way out and Autumn is creeping in. Now, while there may still be the odd day that is unseasonably warm, it means that we have started to dig out our jumpers and jeans and as comforting as that may feel, there is nothing worse than that sinking feeling of pulling up a pair of jeans you have not worn for a while and feeling like the filling in an overgenerous picnic sandwich. Or worse – they might not do up at all!

Perhaps too many Summer bbq’s and cheeky glasses of wine or four have taken their toll. Or possibly, it was just too hot to move very far and impossible to exercise? The kids were on school holidays, so you had less time than normal? Sound familiar?

Now the brilliant news is that now is the time to get into some good habits giving you lots of time to be in shape for (sorry – I don’t want to say the C word but have to…) Christmas parties! How great would it feel to slip into that party frock with toned arms, strong lean legs and a trim tummy?! Well fellow mummies  (and daddies – perhaps minus the frock image?!) IT’S TIME!
So over the course of the next few weeks, I plan to share some tips, suggestions and ideas to help you shape up, feel great and gain some energy!
Now, there is a myth out there that doing sit ups over and over will give you a stomach like Scottish athlete Eilidh Child in the Commonwealth games this summer. I’m sorry but it’s time to think again! You can do as many sit ups as you like but if there is a layer of fat that is too big over this area you are never going to see it!

First things first, then …

1. Depending on your fitness ability, powerwalk or run a certain distance and take note of the route you took. Perhaps a mile or more. Write down your route, how long it took you and how you felt out of 10… with 10 being easy peasy! If you don’t like to walk then consider doing the same for a cycle or swim – something that gets you out of breath!

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2. Use a measuring tape to measure certain parts of your body such as waist, hips and upper arm.

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3. Hold the plank position and record how long you can do it for. See pictures below and make sure you keep your body in a long continuous line. If possible get someone to watch you and as soon as you can’t keep the body in a straight line then stop timing.
See pictures below, if you need to do a modified plank the first time be sure to take a note of this as the full plank is a lot more difficult,

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4. Weigh yourself – IF YOU REALLY HAVE TO! It’s not necessary as sometimes we put on weight if we gain muscle mass and tone up but some people swear by the motivation frequent scale weighing gives them! Just avoid the temptation to throw in the towel if you put on weight at some point!

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5. Finally, far too often people give up gaining fitness because they start off doing far too much in the first couple of weeks and get sore and tired. Take it slowly and build up gently.

I’ll be back in October with my tips on starting to remove the extra layers of fat before we start to hone in on our trouble wobbly areas.