New Year, New You (Again)

New Year, New You (Again)

January is the month when many people are super-motivated and make their resolutions for the year ahead.

But do you set the same goals each year? And do you ever reach your goals?

If what you tried last time didn’t work, what makes you think that doing the same thing all over again is going to give you a different outcome?  Because if it didn’t work last time you tried it, you need to change your plan of action!

Losing weight and getting fit is one of the most common resolutions, especially after spending the festive season eating and drinking so much. This is the reason why the gyms are packed this month, but after a couple of months of the initial ‘I’m going to lose weight and get fit’ motivation, many give up.

But you don’t need to be one of the quitters! There are strategies for success in keeping that Health and Fitness motivation going all year.

Make it a Social thing……

Social interaction has been shown to make people more likely to Workout so join a fitness class, a local running or sports group, get yourself a gym buddy or hire a personal trainer.  Paying out in advance for things may be a financial commitment, however, combine it with a commitment to another person and you’re much more likely to stick with your program. If you can’t make it to a group, having an online social fitness community (e.g., Facebook group) can also inspire you to keep working towards your goals.

Set and Commit to a specific Goal…….

Although the long-term goal may be to lose 2 stone or run a 10k, it’s a good idea to set short term goals too. Sign up to the race and put it in your diary, but also set yourself weekly/monthly challenges that will lead you to your main goal. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time framed) and write them down!

Find the Best Exercise and Diet Plan for you……..

The best Exercise and Diet plan for you is the one that you enjoy doing!. You are far more likely to stay consistent if you actually enjoy what you’re doing and therefore this commitment will bring the greater long-term results.  If you find it boring, you won’t stick to it so try something else!

Keep Going……..

Those low moments when you feel like stuffing your face or cancelling your gym session are bound to happen so plan a strategy for dealing with it. If you blow it on a night out, get back on it the next day, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed – you only fail when you give up!

You don’t have to exercise or eat like an athlete, it doesn’t matter if you’re first or last and so what if you didn’t get a slimmer of the week award!. The most important thing to making your New Year’s resolutions work in 2020 is to keep at it!

Happy 2020 – Here’s to your Health, Fitness and SUCCESS!

Minimising the Christmas Diet Damage

Minimising the Christmas Diet Damage

Keeping on track with staying healthy, fit and not piling on the pounds over Christmas is a challenge in itself as there are sooo many temptations!

Whether it’s a party invite, another meal out or the extra tins of biscuits and chocolates that find their way into the office over the festive period, there seems to be food everywhere! We all want to have fun at Christmas, but no one wants to put on weight. So how do you manage to minimise the damage that the festive season can cause to your diet?

  1. Have a Healthy breakfast

Eating a good breakfast will set you up for the day and hopefully encourage you to continue to eat healthily for the rest of the day.  Go for a healthy breakfast such as porridge, wholegrain toast, eggs and avocado or Greek yoghurt with fruit.  Having a filling breakfast means you’re less likely to over indulge later on in the day.

  1. Keep moving

You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym but staying active can help combat those extra calories.  Go for a walk, get on the dance floor, do a short blast of a home workout.  Exercise will not only burn calories, but it’s a great stress buster too, plus sometimes going for a walk is a good excuse to get out of the house for a bit of peace and quiet!

  1. Think before you eat

We all love a few festive treats, but do you really need to eat all the mince pies ‘Just because it’s Christmas?’.  You don’t need to deny yourself everything, but make sure that you’re really enjoying what you’re eating and not scoffing it just because it’s there!

  1. Food Plan in advance

You don’t have to overfill your fridge with huge amounts of festive food and end up eating it all just so it doesn’t go to waste.  Plan your meals over the holidays and only buy what you’re going to eat.

  1. Sleep well

Missing out on your sleep can also lead to weight gain.  When you are tired, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite.  Try if at all possible, to stick to set bed and wake up times.  Sleep plays a huge role in keeping your body fit and healthy and it’s vital to get plenty if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight.  Don’t underestimate it’s importance.

  1. Eat before you go out

Have a healthy meal before you go out to parties so you won’t arrive hungry.  If there’s a buffet table – sit as far away from it as you can!.  Let’s be honest, there’s very rarely an appetising healthy option on the buffet table and you don’t want to end up stuffing your face with sausage rolls!  Having a pre-drinks healthy meal will also mean you’ll be less likely to stop off at the take-away for a kebab on your way home.

  1. Watch your drinks

Alcoholic drinks and cocktails contain lots of hidden calories and you may be drinking more than usual this over Christmas.  Try to stick to the low-calorie mixers with your spirits and maybe drink water between each alcoholic drink – it will cut down on the hangover too!

  1. Don’t pick at food

When there’s food everywhere, it’s all too easy to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, thinking it’s not going to make that much difference.  But it adds up over the day.  Keep mindful of those little bits and try to avoid snacking, unless its healthy food.

  1. Enjoy the Christmas feast

If you eat healthily most of the time and you’re keeping up with your usual workouts, you can let go a bit on Christmas day! One unhealthy meal won’t make you fat just as one healthy meal won’t make you slim – it’s all about BALANCE.  But if you really want to avoid too many extra calories on the day itself, fill up on the healthy options such as vegetables and lean turkey so you won’t feel the need to over-eat the more indulgent treats.

  1. Learn to say No

If you don’t really want to eat something, SAY NO!.  Never mind if Auntie Brenda’s spent hours making the cake, or if your sister-in-law keeps topping up your glass of wine.  You really don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to.  Once you get used to saying no, it’s easier than you think.

  1. Know when it’s over

The festive season ends on 1st January.  Draw a line under whatever happened to the diet over Christmas (if it all went pear shaped) and get back to those healthy habits.  The longer you leave it, the harder it will be!

Get active at the Office

Get Active at the Office

 

A recent study shows that the average British office worker spends more than 2 months of the year slumped at their office chair!  With just under a third of workers taking a lunch break and 95% saying they don’t see any sunlight in the winter months, it’s not surprising that working long hours leads to a sedentary lifestyle!

 

Inactivity and leading a sedentary lifestyle can not only double your risk of many Chronic illnesses such as Cardiovascular disease, Stroke, Cancer and Type 2 Diabetes, but it can also impact your Mental Health and Well-being and can create many Postural problems.

 

Being more active during the day can massively improve your Health, Happiness AND make you more alert and productive at work.

 

So, if you are one of those who sit at a desk all day, here’s some tips to try.

 

Are you sitting Comfortably?

Making sure your desk, chair, monitor and telephone are all set up correctly.  Your back should be supported, your feet should rest on the floor and your arms horizontal whilst typing.  Sit upright and try not to slump.

Keep Active during the day

At least every hour, try to get up and move away from your desk – even if its just to go to the loo or make a drink.

Take a lunch break

Even a 20-minute break outside in the fresh air will give you a mental boost and you’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed re-energised and more productive.

Make the Most of your Commute to work

If you know you are going to be completely inactive during office hours, make your journey to and from work as active as possible.  Walk or cycle to work, park further away or get off the bus a couple of stops earlier so you at least get some of your daily steps in.

Get your colleagues on board

Set up a team challenge, get a lunchtime walking group together or arrange to go to the gym before or after work.  Being part of a like-minded group of co-workers can really motivate you all to keep active.

 

It’s not just employees that can benefit, a Healthy workforce makes Happier workers, which will not only be more alert, productive and increase staff morale, but will be less likely to have time off due to illness.  So, get the bosses on board too!

Hormones and Fitness – Part One

Hormones – They’ve got a lot to answer for!

No, it’s not an excuse, but it is a very valid reason for why things can go terribly wrong in your Fitness programme if you don’t understand how your hormones are affecting your training.

Our hormones don’t stop and start. They are constantly flowing through our bodies at fluctuating levels throughout the month and this can mean constant changes to how you feel emotionally and physically during your menstrual cycle.

There’s the ‘Good Weeks’ – When you’re full of energy, your skins glowing and your libido is boosted (make the most of it!)

Then there’s the ‘Bad Weeks’ – When you seriously can’t be bothered to do anything you don’t have to; you feel like a fat pig and you could eat everything in sight!

It’s not surprising that these constant changes in hormone levels mess up our fitness goals!

Our changing hormone levels throughout the month can really affect your ability to exercise and knowing how your menstrual cycle influences your workouts can be really helpful – e.g. If you’re able to push your workout or if you should just go for an easier option. We’ve all been there – frustrated at not running our fastest 5K, not lifting our heaviest squat weight, or just not having the energy for our usual workout. It’s frustrating!

‘Time of the month’ is not a reason NOT to exercise (I remember forging letters from my mum to excuse me from PE because I had my period!). You just need to plan a workout to suit your hormones.

Although everyone’s menstrual cycle is different, here’s a guide to what’s happening during your cycle and which type of exercise is more beneficial at each stage.

Week 1

‘I’ve just started so I’ll watch a Netflix series and eat pizza’

There’s actually no medical reason why you shouldn’t be able to exercise during your period.  In fact, it can be beneficial and for many women it can help ease the symptoms of PMS due to endorphins (which are the body’s natural painkillers) released during exercise. It might be the last thing you feel like doing and you might not reach a PB during this time, but you’ll probably feel better for it.

Week 2

 ‘Woohoo I’ve finished!’

After your period your oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels start to increase which is when your energy and motivation rises, so now is the perfect time to use that energy for your most intense workouts. Testosterone (usually associated with men) affects women too and while its in high levels you can really use it to increase your strength training capabilities. So now is the time to go for your deadlift PB!

 

Week 3

And just when you’re back on a roll….

On around day 14 of your cycle (usually when your workouts are back on top form) – you ovulate – and this rapidly decreases your Oestrogen levels!  You probably feel more tired and workouts become a huge effort again. However, at this stage of your cycle, your lungs function better, so it’s the perfect time to progress your cardio workouts! And according to research, women tend to burn more calories during this phase too – so fuel up!

 

Week 4

If you’re going to have a rest week, then this is the time.

At some point this week your body will begin preparing itself for your next period. Tummy ache, fluid retention and your mood turning slightly psycho! Your body temperature rises which might cause you to sweat more during exercise.  If you don’t feel like an energetic workout, this is the week to focus on stretching and Yoga is the perfect workout.  Your training may not be at its best, but just give yourself a break – your body probably won’t thank you for pushing it to the max this week.

It really is worth Listening to your body and trying to work with your cycle, not against it and by doing this, you may find you don’t lose the plot completely while your hormone levels are constantly changing.

Maximise your Fat Burn

Maximise your Fat Burn

There are so many benefits of Exercising regularly! It’s good for your muscles and bones, it can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your brain, increase energy levels and is great for your Well-being as it makes you feel good!

However, the main reason many people initially start to exercise is to lose weight, as EXERCISE BURNS CALORIES!

So, if like many people, burning calories is one of your main exercise goals and you’re wanting to really blast your body fat, you need to make sure you’re doing it right with maximum effect!

 

Be intense when you exercise

Don’t be fooled by fat-burning zones. They often advise that working at a lower intensity is better for fat burning than working at a higher effort level (e.g. walking instead of running.) The harder you exercise, the more calories you will burn and that’s really what counts when it comes to losing fat.

 

Choose your exercise carefully

There is no such thing as the ‘ultimate’ calorie-burning workout. Energy expenditure is dependent not just on the activity itself, but on how much effort you put in, how good you are at it, how long you do it for, and how often. Choose an exercise that makes you work hard and that you’re going to do regularly and consistently and unless you want to be miserable and bored during your workout, do something that you actually enjoy!

 

Multi-task your muscles and work large muscle groups

Serious fat-burning exercises use the large muscle groups of the body – the thighs, bottom, chest and back. The greater the overall recruitment of muscle, the higher the calorie expenditure. For example, If you’re going for fat burn in your workouts, you’re far better off using the chest press rather than a bicep curl machine for maximum calorie burn.

 

Exercise Duration

To fire up the calorie furnace, fat-burning exercise has to be sustainable for a reasonable duration. So, while skipping is great, it’s not much use if you can only do it for three minutes. Guidelines recommend 20-60 minutes per session, three to five times per week so find something you can sustain for at least 20 minutes.

 

Interval training to maximise calorie burn

Interval training one of the best ways of maximising calorie burn, it improves aerobic fitness and is perfect if you’re short of time. To get the most from an interval session, push yourself outside of your comfort zone on the efforts and go steady during the recoveries. Try following a 2:2 rest/work ratio to start with.

 

Body weight load

Activities that are weight bearing, such as walking and running, use more calories than those in which your weight is supported (such as swimming or cycling), mainly because you have to shift your own body weight against gravity.

 

Fuel or Fasting?

The fasted workout theory that working out on an empty stomach in the morning burns more fat is somewhat true, as the body has to rely on fat stores for energy if you haven’t eaten first thing, but the lack of energy stores also means that you won’t work out for as long, or as hard as you may have if you’d have fuelled up beforehand.

 

Afterburn

One of the best things about exercise is that the fat-burning benefits continue long after you’ve ended your workout. The ‘afterburn’ (increased calorie expenditure) is far greater after intense exercise – another reason to work hard!

 

Intensity Progression

If you want to keep seeing fat-burning results you must keep increasing the intensity of your exercise, because as you get fitter, your body will be able to cope with the workload.  If you stick to the same pace or weight, the benefits will start to reduce. Keep progressing and pushing yourself so your workout feels challenging every time.

 

And Finally……

 

Daily Activity

Don’t underestimate daily activity! Keeping active during the day can really maximise your daily fat burn. That may mean keeping track of your daily step targets, getting up from your desk regularly or even just standing rather than sitting – but it all adds up towards your daily calorie expenditure, so KEEP MOVING!