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!

A day in my life

A Day in my Life

As a Personal Trainer, Class Instructor, Writer, Business owner and a single Mum, I have no choice but to lead a  super organised lifestyle.  In fact if I haven’t got each day planned out in advance I get too stressed out to manage it all, so being organised is my No.1 priority.  I’m very lucky to be able to say that although my weekdays are hectic, I really love my lifestyle and all the challenges that go with it!

The Morning routine……

My alarm goes off at 5.45am each morning.  I’ll be completely honest here – I don’t jump up full of motivation.  I hate getting out of bed BUT once I’m up, dressed and I’ve talked myself round, I feel ready to tackle the day ahead.

After my breakfast (usually porridge) I generally train with clients from 7am to 12.30pm.  Now that my children are older I’d rather be out of the way of the usual ‘are you up and dressed and ready for school yet?’ chaos!.  If I don’t have to leave until later, I use the time to go for a run before work (again I don’t always feel like it but the feeling of going out for a run before I start my day is great so I have to talk myself into it!).

Training…..

I always make the time every day for my own training (I schedule it in my diary at the beginning of each week). I usually go to the gym or go for a run as soon as I’ve finished training with clients. My clients sessions inspire me, especially if someone’s done a kick ass session – I go to the gym and do the same!

Going back to the diary……I’m a creature of habit.  I like to do the same thing at the same time everyday which may sound really boring to some, but it helps me feel more organised and in turn I get more done.

After my gym session or run, I go home and have lunch which is generally some kind of salad, chicken or eggs and rice combination.  I’m not the greatest of cooks but I try to be as creative as possible and if I’m taking a photo of my lunch to post on social media, I find I try a little bit harder with the presentation and in turn it actually tastes nicer.  I then walk my dog and I use this time to re-charge my brain.

Stress Less…..

If you’ve got a hectic lifestyle it’s so important to look after yourself. As the saying goes ‘You can’t pour from an empty vessel’. It’s not being selfish, its self-care.  I switch my phone off for just 20-30 minutes and try to clear my mind of any stress that’s going on.  It’s not always easy to turn off from the outside world, but it’s very beneficial to your personal well-being and mental health to take just a bit of time each day to get some head space. Just breath and live in the moment without any distractions – even if it is while walking the dog in the rain!

Evenings…..

So, after my half an hour of calm, the madness begins for round 2!

As the kids are returning from school I have my crazy 2 hours of the day.  You know the scenario……I’m sat at my laptop trying to write, do my admin, pay bills, sort client folders etc. and the kids are asking ‘When’s tea ready?’ ‘Where’s my rugby shorts?’ ‘Can my friend come for tea?’ the dogs running around like a lunatic, the window cleaners knocking at the door and while you’ve successfully managed to sit and have a wee in private you get interrupted by a PPI call!

I constantly feel like I should do more with my kids – they always see me working, on my phone or going out to work.  However, I was a stay at home mum whilst they were both pre-school so I suppose its good for them to see me now running a business and I’m hopefully inspiring them to do something they love and to work hard at it.

After our evening meal (which I always try to sit down as a family to eat) I’m back out to work to train my evening clients or class members.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I love my job, there is no way I’d leave the house on a night.  I’m a real home bird and could quite easily stay at home all day, but when I get to my class and see my class members giving it their all, I just love it!  I’ve got a great team at my classes and along with my PT clients, as much as it’s MY job to motivate them all to work hard – they really motivate ME to do my best too.

I usually have a couple of hours on an evening before I go to bed and if I’ve got everything on my list done for that day I get chance to put my feet up and watch TV or read.  Actually, this very rarely happens if I’m honest! In reality, I tend to walk the dog (again), pick up my phone, text clients, google workouts and post on social media (I’m working on not doing this as much BUT it’s a vital part of my job!). Then just as I’m about to get into bed I’m usually reminded that I haven’t washed a P.E. kit that needs to be ready for the next day!

Bedtime……

Now I’d like to say I switch my bedside light off at 10pm and fall fast asleep but I currently have a bit of a problem with my sleep pattern.  Sleep is so important for good health and I know I should go straight to sleep but my brain doesn’t seem to agree – this again, is an area I need to work on, but it’s so hard when you have a zillion ideas buzzing though your mind when your head hits the pillow.

Weekends…..

So, this is my daily routine Monday to Friday and by the time the weekend arrives I generally switch mode.  I’m an all or nothing type of person and although I love going for a long run on a Saturday morning, I also love slobbing on the settee in the afternoon.  It’s the same with food, I eat healthily 90% of time but, I can eat A LOT, so I really look forward to my Saturday night Meal out or takeaway – it’s all about the overall balance.  I haven’t drunk alcohol for over 2 years now and it makes a massive difference to my weekends, in fact it makes a difference to my working week too.  Since giving up the booze I’m more productive, I perform my job a lot better and I seem to have more time as I don’t have to nurse a hangover which is a good job really as when my alarm goes off at 545am on Monday morning, I’m ready to do it all over again!.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and Recovery

No matter how extensive your fitness program may be, the time you spend working out is only a part of the process necessary to achieve your fitness goals. If you’re planning your training but not your recovery, you’re not going to fully reap the rewards from your Workouts.

One thing that is often misunderstood is the fact that your body becomes stronger AFTER you exercise and NOT during the actual workout itself.  The real secret to getting results depends on what happens during the recovery period following the workout.  This is why the correct recovery and rest is so important.

There are different types of recovery – Short-term (which happens immediately after a workout set) and Long-term (the period of time between workout sessions).

Short-term recovery can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and it’s important to replace energy stores within this period. But the longer recovery period between workouts is the one to focus on, because it’s the time after the workout when the body adapts to the training session.  The correct care of your muscles and connective tissue, eating the right type of post workout nutrition, the quality and quantity of sleep and, even the types of clothes you wear, can all promote the post-workout recovery that’s necessary to help you maximise the results from your time spent exercising.

Post-workout Nutrition
During exercise, your muscles expend energy and experience stress. After exercise, the body needs to replenish energy with carbohydrates and repair tissue with protein so having a post-workout snack with the correct ratio of carbohydrate and protein can help massively. The correct nutrition also assists the release of the muscle-building hormones to repair and build new muscle tissue.

Stretching and Myofascial Release
Stretching, Massage, Foam rollers, Compression balls and Rolling sticks can all help to reduce muscle tightness. If a muscle doesn’t cool-down properly, the collagen fibres (which are part of the connective tissue surrounding each muscle) can create knots. Massage works by manipulating muscle tissue to break up knots and can help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint movement.

Sleep

Sleep is probably one of the most important factors that can help improve your overall health and fitness. Your body produces most of the hormones needed for tissue repair during sleep so it’s vital to get enough to assist in the recovery process.

Ice, Cold Baths and Cryotherapy
Cold treatments are extremely effective for recovery as they can help cool down the body’s core temperature, reduce inflammation and promote healing in tissue that was used during the workout. The cold temperature brings increased blood to the area, which brings nutrients and oxygen to help promote healing.

Sauna or Hot Tub
The heat from a sauna or hot tub increases the body’s circulation, which removes metabolic waste products while also carrying oxygen and other nutrients necessary to help repair tissue used during the workout.

Training Periodisation
Alternating between high and low intensity workouts (muscle confusion) either daily, weekly or monthly and taking a few days off every few weeks to allow the body to rest and recover fully.
Compression Clothing
Wearing Compression clothing before and after a workout is a relatively new form of recovery treatment that may also be effective. The pressure from the tight clothing can improve circulation which will help remove metabolic waste and promote blood flow to help the tissue repair and rebuild.

Too much exercise without enough rest and recovery can lead to injury or illness, both of which could prevent your regular workouts.  There are dangers to overtraining without the correct recovery periods between and If you don’t take enough R&R for your muscles to adapt this will certainly affect your ability to achieve your fitness goals.

NEVER forget to include RECOVERY into your Fitness programme!

Festive Stress

Festive Stress

The Festive Season unfortunately isn’t all about sitting around a log fire, eating Mince pies and listening to Christmas Carols … For many of us, it’s a super stressful time where we run around like lunatics, trying to do everything and please everybody. Shopping, Wrapping, School Plays, Cooking, Travelling and Xmas drinks with friends take up so much time and planning that the festive season becomes a full-time job and the stress of it all can play havoc with your health.

The symptoms of Stress can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behaviour so being able to limit your stress symptoms at this busy time of year is really important for your health as it can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain (blame the stress not the mince pies!) To avoid getting caught up in the frenzy of it all, try to make sure you’re still sleeping, eating well and keeping up with your usual exercise, if at all possible.

Learn to say No

Saying no to Christmas party Invitations can be a challenge especially if you want to please others by constantly saying yes, when really you want to say no – this can have an impact on your wellbeing and stress levels. Just tell your friends or family the truth; that you love them and want to do it for them but you are just so busy and you have other things to take care of. Most people will understand as they’re probably juggling their own diary.

Gift panic

So many get super stressed out at this time of year feeling the pressure to buy everyone and their dog presents. Although it’s nice to, you shouldn’t need to buy a gift to show your love and appreciation for someone, especially if it’s going to put you in debt. Good friends and family will understand.

Me Time

In the run up to Christmas, make some time for yourself. Whether it’s an hour at the gym, a massage, reading a book or sitting and having an uninterrupted coffee, It’s important to give yourself the same care and consideration that you would others, so take a break from thinking about the shopping, cooking and organising and have a few minutes of me time.

And don’t forget, you can always delegate. A problem shared is a problem halved, so get someone else to do the gift wrapping (even if it doesn’t look as neat as when you do it yourself) You can’t do everything singlehandedly!

Wishing you a Merry (Stress-free) Christmas!

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (D.O.M.S)

What exactly is D.O.M.S ?

Aching muscles, sometimes referred to as D.O.M.S (Delayed onset muscle soreness) sets in sometimes 6 to 8 hours after your workout. It may peak around 24 to 48 hours post workout, although this varies depending on the individual.  It’s the result of muscle micro trauma, which causes inflammation and soreness, created in your muscles when you’ve introduced a new exercise, activity or increased the intensity or volume of your usual training. It’s your bods way of making adaptations to prepare your muscles to do it again.

Sore Muscles is the most common characteristic of D.O.M.S, but other symptoms such as reduced range of motion and joint stiffness, local swelling and tenderness, and diminished muscle strength can also occur.

How does it occur?

Its the active lengthening of muscle fibres under load (body weight or weights). Think of it like you’re pulling on a rope, and there’s so much force that the rope starts to tear and pull apart. This is when your muscle fibres sustain tiny tears that cause the trauma to them.

When you’ve experienced D.O.M.S before and are a regular exerciser, it may become the Medal after your workout!  You’ve pushed yourself and the fact that you can feel it the next day is your reward.  However, it doesn’t always mean that you’re not getting a good workout when you’re not crippled the next day. Studies show that muscle soreness isn’t the best indicator of how hard you’ve worked or how fit you are. It’s true that you will start to feel less sore as your body adapts to your training and works more effectively (The reason it’s wise to regularly change your routine) but people also respond differently to pain and soreness.

D.O.M.S isn’t a bad thing!

Muscle trauma is needed to make muscles stimulate protein production and to repair themselves to get bigger and stronger than before so that the muscle soreness doesn’t happen again.

Unfortunately the effects of stretching after your workout don’t always reduce the effects of D.O.M.S.  Although while you may not be able to avoid soreness altogether, it’s a good idea to include a warm up and cool-down period as part of your routine. There are other ways to alleviate the symptoms – A massage will move the fluid and blood around in your body which can help the micro trauma in your muscles to heal better, other common ways to treat D.O.M.S include foam rolling, hot and cold showers/baths, Epsom salt, increased protein intake, omega-3 supplementation and sleep.  It’s also important to look at your diet to make sure your getting the right balance and enough nutrients to feed your body for the job it’s doing.

There may be times when you overdo it with your workout and feel really bad afterwards. You should be concerned if your level of soreness does not go down significantly after 96 hours, if the pain becomes worse and you start to experience swelling in your limbs, or your urine becomes dark in colour, you should see your doctor. If it’s an injury, you’re more likely to feel it immediately during your workout and you shouldnt ignore this. Soreness, on the other hand, will appear gradually, often the next day.

So although D.O.M.S (unfortunately) can be a horrible after effect of exercise, it happens for a reason – so you can go back and do the workout all over again – this time Stronger!