Ask Michelle


Michelle Bridges

Michelle Bridges.

Michelle Bridges. Photo: Ellis Parrinder

I'd like some advice regarding fitness and pregnancy. I've just completed the 12-week challenge, feel amazing, and have discovered I've naturally fallen pregnant at 44, like yourself. Are there any protein supplements for pregnant women, or should I avoid all of them? This is my fourth child; I want to keep my clean eating going and keep exercising if I can.

Well first off - congratulations! I'm very excited and happy for you, and being precisely in your position, I feel well equipped to pass on my opinion regarding protein powders.

Protein is really important in pregnancy and you'll need about 25 per cent more in your diet. Just be aware that most proteins contain heavy metals but that plant proteins generally have more of them than animal proteins, so steer clear of soy- and pea-based protein powders while pregnant.

Vegetable and tofu curry.

Vegetable and tofu curry.

Personally, I use a whey protein isolate during the day, and a casein powder if I'm having one in the evening, because the protein digests more slowly. Both are milk-based so they contain lactose, which may be allergenic for some people.


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Here's a satisfyingly hearty meal that goes big on flavour and goodness while dialling down the kilojoule count. Is there such a thing as a healthy curry? You bet!

• 2 tbsp vegetable oil

• 150g tofu, sliced

• 3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

• 1 tsp brown mustard seeds

• 1 tbsp curry powder

• 1½ cups low-sodium vegetable stock

• 500g pumpkin, peeled and cubed

• 1 carrot, diced

• 200g cauliflower, cut into florets

• 150g green beans, trimmed and halved

• ½ cup no-fat Greek-style yoghurt, plus extra to serve

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over a low-medium heat. Fry the tofu until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in the pan. Add ginger, garlic, mustard seeds and curry powder. Cook for 1 minute, until aromatic.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the pumpkin and carrot, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for another 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and cooked through.

Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the yoghurt. Serve with extra yoghurt for dolloping.


Chris Urquhart, 33, Today reporter, Nine Network

Chris's workout: With a 3.30am alarm buzzing for breakfast TV, I sometimes find it easier to have a snooze in the afternoon than to get motivated to go for a run. But I push myself out the door about three times a week and run for five kilometres or so.

Chris's goal: I ran a half-marathon three years ago and would love to get to that distance again in 2016, hopefully losing a couple of kilograms in the process!

Michelle says:

There is an orange flashing light going off in my brain and a PA system announcing: "Warning! Warning!" So be prepared, Chris - I'm coming after you!

I see a potentially toxic mix of circumstance and lifestyle. First, you have abbreviated sleep cycles. Add to that a lack of routine with your "maybe an afternoon snooze" or a run ... or not. Your job would probably require a fair bit of travel (read - disrupted routine) and, working in TV myself, I know there's a bit of stress and pressure.

By your own observation, you aren't at the body weight you want to be, and you're heading into your mid-30s. Dude, it's time. Let's make it happen.

So here's the plan: Ruthlessly schedule your exercise, and your nap if you need it. Your half-marathon experience will tell you what's required in terms of cardio activity. But that isn't enough - get yourself booked in with a personal trainer (to keep you honest and timely) twice a week for a solid resistance training workout (stretch bands, as above, are great, especially if you want to head outdoors). And make sure you add a comprehensive stretch session at the end of every training bout.