The Battle of the Bulge was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II.  It is also a term widely and flippantly used to describe the efforts needed to combat the obvious onset of midlife, namely the burgeoning waist.

Most women who have had children will have engaged in some form of "core toning" programme in their post baby years but as if that is not enough, along comes midlife and the menopause and it starts all over again - a midriff crisis if you like.

On the positive side though, whilst we can't change nature, we can lessen the impact.  Keeping active is the single most important thing we can do to make sure we keep our metabolic rates up which as we know helps to burn off those calories which simply get tougher to shift as we age.  Yes it is harder as we get older but a sedentary lifestyle is ill advised.

Walking is free and easy and 10,000 steps per day is the recommended target.  My FitBit rarely leaves my wrist even if just to act as a reminder to how lazy I have been that day and because sometimes 10,000 steps doesn't always happen, it forces me to compensate the following day.

We can also train our abdominal muscles in readiness for the fattening of our midriff with exercises that focus more on the obliques, which will help to tighten up our waists and thus lessen the pending androgynous look which sees our waists thicken in old age.  A fun way to do this is with a Hula Hoop.

The 1950's is widely associated as the period when the world went hooping crazy but actually it can be tracked even further back than that, when believe it or not it was a popular pastime of Greek and Roman men.

So what are the benefits?

  • The art of twirling the hoop will strengthen and tone all your abdominal muscles in one go and there are few exercises that can claim that.
  • The recommended minimum in order to see concrete results is 10 minutes per day, but believe me it is addictive and once you get going you won't want to stop. If you can manage 30 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week you should notice a dramatic difference in around 4 weeks.
  • Hula Hooping is also aerobic which of course means your stamina will improve and you will burn calories.   A 30 minute workout will see you not only burn anything up to 250 calories but also drop inches around your waist.
  • As with any exercise, incorporating weights will add a greater resistance to the workout and strengthen and tone the abs more, so go for a weighted hoop.  I have a circus hoop which is around 40 inches and weighs about 1.5kg.

Getting started is the hardest bit by far, even if you did hoop endlessly as a child, but for me I found that the Forward Stance  was the most effective to begin with.

It is natural to assume you need to swirl the hoop around in a circle by simply swinging your hips in a circular motion but this doesn't work.  You actually need to position your feet hip width apart, place one slightly in front of the other, tuck your pelvis under, place the hoop around your waist and then after a quick move counter clockwise you shift your weight forwards and backwards to maintain the hoop's momentum.

I have to say, however, this seems to be an easier move for women than men as both males in my house failed terribly at getting the hoop to circle without lurching back and forth.

Once you have mastered this there are many exercises online that can help you to vary your routine and work harder to increase your heart rate if you want to.  Occasionally I will also hold hand weights and try to keep my arms at shoulder height to strengthen and tone my arms at the same time as I twirl.

I have dabbled with my Hula Hoop on and off over the last couple of years and have always been surprised at how much firmer I feel afterwards - if somewhat bruised on the hip bones!

It is a cheap and relatively easy exercise and to keep me motivated I leave my hoop propped in the kitchen and the teens will often find me waiting for the supper to cook, watching the evening news and indulging in some mindless hooping!  It has also been known to come into its own at parties - it's surprising how competitive grown adults can get after a few drinks.

Have you tried hooping? Do you have any great hooping exercises that work for you or do you have any other great ways of toning up your midriff?

Editors Note : This post has been updated since first published.  





Linked with:


A Mum Track Mind Pink Pear BearMy Petit CanardMy Random Musings



"No devices with texting or phoning s'il vous plait!" Early yesterday morning I loaded my daughter on to a coach bound for Folkestone and the onward journey to Northern France, where she will be spending the next week with her school.  Her excitement has been palpable for days.  A chance for her to hang out with her mates and have fun away from home without the usual rules and regulations that dominate her daily life.  She has been on many school trips before, but this one is slightly different....a preparatory email from the French teacher banned all mobile phones, iPods and tablets on the trip.

There are a multitude of reasons for this, but the primary one is that it is a cultural trip intended to improve the pupils' French and Madame did not want them to be distracted by screens.  She is old school and she wants them to interact with each other and their surroundings without electronic gadgets and social media, "It will be good for them, oui?"

My daughter's immediate reaction was one of jaw-dropping horror  "You can't be serious!  Well I don't care what she says I am taking my phone.  How will I keep in touch with my mates back home? What about my Instagram?  I won't be able to post for a whole week!  How will I listen to my music?  I want to watch a movie on the coach journey.  What about taking pictures?  No this is ludicrous, I am taking it...end off!"  

Adamant that I must have misread the email she asked Madame again, only to be disappointed.  Yes, she meant it and if any one dared to break the rule and bring their phone or any other "app device" it would be confiscated.  She advised them to bring board games, cards and seek out old DVD's they could all watch on the coach.

My teenagers are firmly attached to their electronics and can frequently be found multi-screen tasking.  It is nothing for them to be simultaneously watching TV, chatting to a friend over FaceTime, sending a message via Facebook, posting on Instagram and playing Minecraft, whilst chatting to me of course!

I am often asked what my rules on screentime are and truth be told I don't have any other than they must switch off all their devices half an hour before bed and nothing is allowed to stay in their rooms over night but is put in to charge downstairs in my husband's office.  We monitor their usage but we don't prevent it.  Ultimately, they both have lots of interests and lead active lives, so if they have done their homework and their chores, I have come to accept that this is what their generation do to unwind and communicate.

The flip side of this is that whilst I concurred with Madame on leaving phones behind "What a great idea", I also found myself starting to panic.  How would I cope?  My own mother laughed hysterically when I shared my fears and reminded me of my own "electronic free childhood".  Nevertheless, I communicate with my teenagers frequently when they are at school or out with friends day or night.  There is always a text at the very least to say how they are and if I want to I can always plug into "where's my iphone" and instantly track them down.

My teenager's phones have ultimately become my security blanket.  They give me access to 24 hr contact in the event of an emergency and act as a tracking device to calm  my paranoid maternal mind in those moments when I suspect they have been abducted by aliens.

So it is me who is having the real separation anxiety from my daughter's mobile phone this week, not her.  I know my daughter has arrived safely because the school messaging system has told me so, but it doesn't tell me about her...

Who is she sharing a dorm with?  Does she have time to clean her brace properly before they head out for the day?  Has she been putting sunscreen on? Are they remembering to stay in pairs when they get their free time to explore the local town?  At least if she had her phone I could just check.  But as my husband keeps reminding me as I toss and turn every night, the rule is probably there to keep the parents at bay too. These trips are a learning opportunity on more than one level.  It teaches them how to look after themselves, which is all part of growing up and being independent and that has to be a good thing right??  "T'inquiete pas! Don't worry"  said Madame as they headed off.  In the meantime...five days left and counting.

Does your child have a mobile phone?  What do you think about banning phones on a school trip?  How would you feel without contact for a week?  I would love to hear what you think.


It has been a strange week without Teenager No.2 in the house with her constant chatter and as we have been devoid of a means of contacting her the most obvious word to describe my week is "Silence".  Two more days and it will all change.

The Reading Residence

Pink Pear Bear

My Random Musings


A Cornish Mum


A Mum Track Mind