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Why should we lift weights?

I think many people assume that the aim of lifting weights is to build big muscles. Which of course lifting weights can help you do but there are so many other benefits that I believe we should all be doing it.

Lifting weights can help to preserve bone density which starts to decline in  at around 30. Keeping your bones strong can help to ward off Osteoporosis in later life. Women in particular are at high risk of this.

Muscle mass also begins to decline as we age, which makes it really important that we try and maintain (and in fact build) it as we get older.

Following on from that lifting weights and therefore being stronger as a result improves balance, and has been scientifically proven time and time again to improve posture, prevent aches and pains, manage injuries and make daily tasks seem easier.

Lifting weights helps the body to metabolise glucose meaning it can be very beneficial in managing Insulin levels which is of particular importance to those experiencing Pre Diabetes or already Type 2 Diabetes.

This metabolising of Glucose also means your body is burning more fat when at rest, which is great for helping to maintain and indeed lose weight.

Generally as lifting weights regularly makes you stronger it makes your body better able to cope with the demands placed on it day to day which in turn means you feel more energised and less prone to injury, add to that health benefits of warding off diabetes, age related illness and weight gain and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s time to get under that barbell!

 

 

 

Nail New Year Nutrition

So this week everyone has gone back to work, kids have gone back to school and it’s all New Year New Me……

 

Although actually I think there has been less of that this year which I think is a good thing. You aren’t magically going to wake up on 1st Jan only wanting green juice and coconut water. Neither should you.

 

Life is for living and yes food is fuel but it should also be enjoyed. But of course some of us want to lose a few pounds and that’s fine but doing that needn’t involve sacrificing all the food you enjoy and surviving on meagre rations of bird seed. 

 

The key to long term weight loss is actually just simple maths. You need to create a calorie deficit. Calories in needs to be less than calories out. That’s it.

 

Of course it makes better sense health wise to make the majority of your diet up with Vegetables, Fruit,  lean meats and pulses but there are no hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t eat to lose weight. 

 

I like to keep simple with my clients. We set up MyFitnessPal accounts, then start tracking every day. In the first few days we aren’t worrying too much about being over the calorie goal, we just need to know where we’re at and what sort of patterns are showing up. 

 

Then it’s time to make some tweaks. Are we over our calorie allowance because of lots of snacking or because certain meals are much higher calorie than the others?Can we start to look at lower calorie meal option? Are we snacking through boredom or because of genuine hunger? If it’s boredom we need to either accept that its boredom not hunger or look for some lower calorie options to at least keep a limit on how much is consumed. Things like sugar free jelly, low calorie hot chocolate etc are great for this. If it’s genuine hunger we either need to make the meals or the snacks more filling. Usually upping the protein levels so lean meats, boiled eggs, nut butter with your apple  or a protein shake are filling options. Also ensure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.

 

We continue this just making tweaks as we go along until we’re comfortably in a calorie deficit without really feeling like it’s dieting, more like -This is how I eat now. 

 

I know this approach almost sounds too simple, and well that;s because it is simple. You still have to make the effort of logging food, starting to plan how meals will fit into your calories etc. However the freedom to make your own food choices based around what you actually like and what is convenient to your lifestyle is what throws people who are used to rules of giving up certain food groups or having weird (non scientific) points attached to things that mean they struggle to navigate an M&S lunch counter or a restaurant menu. 

 

So, if you’re committed to losing weight for good this year, make the commitment to keep it simple, follow the basic science of calories in vs calories out and create a diet that fits your lifestyle long term.

 

Here’s a couple of things I will add that will make this process easier.

 

  • Start to plan your meals and snacks in advance. Take into account the time you will realistically have available on those days to prepare and eat food. If you’re on the run or home late have portable and quick to prepare foods.
  • For the most part coloured vegetables -greens, purples, reds etc. have a low calorie value for the volume of food so use them to add bulk to your meals.
  • Admitting you won’t have the time or inclination to cook and therefore buying low calorie ready meals, soups, packet rice and microwave veg bags is a much better option than throwing in the towel and ordering takeaway. 
  • Weighing, measuring and searching for things in myfitnesspal can seem like  a pain at first, but you can save recipes and meals, copy them into other days etc. which makes it much easier after a couple of weeks and it starts to become more instinctive.

What are you going to achieve in 2020?

Happy New Year!

So, what has 2020 got in store for you? 

  Now is the time to sit down and plan what you want to achieve this year.

Then of course what you are going to do to achieve them. Planning is key to achieving goals. 

So, if it’s to run 5k downloading a couch to 5k app would be a good start, alongside buying some running kit and then planning how the runs are going to fit into your schedule.

The same goes for any fitness goal, planning how it is realistically going to fit into your life and then sticking to those sessions like you would a work meeting is key to maintaining the habit this year.

If you have a specific event to train for,do you need a training plan to help you peak at the right time?

Is it a weight loss goal? If it is and it’s not the first time you’ve been here really ask yourself what’s going to be different this time. 

With both fitness and diet goals it always has to be a lifestyle change. You can’t expect to achieve new things without doing something new. I believe your success comes down to how much you really want to achieve your goal. 

Those that achieve great things will have made sacrifices, had tough days and set backs along the way but because they really wanted that end result they kept going.

So, get your planner out. 

What are you going to achieve this year?

What do you need to help you achieve it? Is it new kit, support from family, friends or a coach?

How will it impact your current lifestyle and what will you need to change for it to happen?

 

I’d love to know what you’re goals are and how you plan to achieve them. 

 

Reflect on 2019

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

I think this time in between Christmas and new year is a great time to reflect on your achievements this year before you start planning your 2020 goals.

Have you done some big stuff this year?

Ran a marathon or your first 5k? Got a PB in your event?

Perhaps you lost weight and kept it off this year?

What about other stuff? Did you get a new job, take up a new hobby or do something mad like a sky dive?

Perhaps it’s something simpler like you managed to handle your anxiety better this year, stuck to an exercise habit or you made more time for friends and family.

These are all achievements that have contributed to your happiness this year so it is important to acknowledge them. 

I’ve grown my business with new classes and clients this year and  I’ve done two new qualifications. 

I started the year with one pony out with a serious injury, one in rehab for  minor issues and the other with a vet saying she was dangerous and I should consider having her put to sleep. I’m ending it with both injured ponies back in work and the other not being quite so scary anymore. 

Then I’ve got back in the gym properly and taken up Olympic Lifting. Orla and I also finally took up agility this year too-she’s a natural. 

Looking at this I realise how much I’ve achieved this year and if you’ve been with me on this journey you will know how many ups and downs there were along the way, and how many times I could have quite easily have thrown in the towel and swapped it for an office job and pet hamsters! 

However I know both personally and from my clients if you want something bad enough you will make it happen. 

So, before you start planning 2020 look at what you achieved in 2019. Be proud of yourself for those achievements, and then look at what you didn’t achieve and ask yourself why? Did circumstances just throw you off course (injuries and illness etc) or did you just not want it hard enough? 

 

This will make planning 2020 a little clearer.

Time Saving Workouts

Last week I said you should be sticking to your exercise habit as much as possible so here’s some Inspiration to help you out.

And I know you’re thinking “I haven’t got time for that at this time of year” 

Well how about taking just 4 minutes to get your workout in.

Pick 2 exercises and set a timer for 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds. Alternate the 2 exercises each round so you will do 4 of each. That’s 4 minutes exercise you can make as tame or heavy as you like.

No equipment:

Squats – Press Ups

Burpees-Plank

 

Equipment:

KB/DB Swings

Weighted Squats 

 

Single arm overhead press

Single Leg Deadlift 

 

Pure Cardio option.

Burpees 

Kb Swing

 

Lunge Jumps

Mountain climbers 

 

Why stop what’s working?

Remember when you decided to sort out that problem with your back and you went to a Pilates class and it worked. Then you stopped going………. and the problem came back? The same applies to Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Massage etc…..we do them to fix our problem and then when we feel great for a few weeks/months we stop doing it.

The same goes for diets and fitness regimes. You eat well, exercise consistently, feel amazing; then you stop. You eat rubbish, don’t train and begin to feel tired, sluggish and bloated. 

Why do we do this??? 

A couple of things. 

Once there is no pain point-whether that is actual pain or feeling overweight, unfit etc we can lose the motivation forgetting it was this journey that made us feel so good. 

Following on from that is the commitment to a lifestyle change at the outset. 

If your current lifestyle is causing you a problem then you need to make permanent changes to solve the problem long term. This is why I always question people who go on restrictive diets or mad exercise regimes that take over their lives. It may work for now, but will you still be doing this in 3,6,12 months? If you’re not it’s highly likely your original problem will still be there.

This is something to think about as we start looking towards the new year and how we might want 2020 to go for us. 

If you’ve found a way of dealing with a problem this year, ask yourself whether it’s sustainable as a lifestyle change and if it is stick with it. That may be exercising 3 times per week or having a Sports Massage every month. Whatever it is, if it works and is sustainable stick with it. If it’s not sustainable found something that is.

 

Plan for a Healthy Christmas

December is here which means it’s officially Christmas. 

I know plenty of people that will have decided they may as well scrap any sense of healthy eating and exercise now and start again in January. You’re not those people though are you? 

I know you’ve got loads of socialising to do, there’s mince pies and quality street in every office up and down the land so it feels impossible to have any semblance of a healthy lifestyle.

I’m not suggesting you avoid the whole thing in a bid to stay healthy but I am suggesting you at least try and add an element of balance into negotiating the festive period.

Firstly, stick to an exercise habit. It doesn’t have to be your full regular training schedule if some of it clashes with social events; but trying to maintain at least a couple of gym sessions or a short morning run or lunch time walk will actually help to keep your energy levels up for the extra partying you’ve got to do-as well as helping to keep you in shape for those sparkly outfits lads….

Get your diary out now and put in your exercise sessions, taking into account social events, hangovers the next day etc and you might be surprised at how easy it is to fit in 2-3 sessions across the week with a bit of planning, even if it’s just a walk.

Ok, whilst I can’t banish all those treats from your office I can help you plan how to manage them. Back in my office days I got around this by insisting my secretary did all of the coffee making so I didn’t have to go near the treats,  Obviously this showed no regard for my secretary’s health but it s every woman for herself! This of course is not a viable solution…….

Firstly make sure you have your own healthy meals and snacks with you so you aren’t reaching for the chocolate because you’re hungry. Secondly be realistic, you aren’t going to abstain completely but you can limit yourself to one treat per day. So maybe one mince pie or a couple of celebrations instead of your usual afternoon snack is a good way of a having a treat without it being a month long blow out.

Then there’s the alcohol conundrum. Now this stuff appears to be the only advice anyone ever takes on board from me so here goes!

Unfortunately there is no getting around the fact that alcohol has a high calorie content. You can switch to light beer, low alcohol wine but let’s be honest it doesn’t usually taste as good! So, just try not to have a month long drinking session, have some days off and save your drinking for your socialising not just for your regular Tuesday.

Here’s a couple of top picks though if you do want to watch your calories.

 

Champagne-90 cals a glass = winner! Basically fizzy wine tends to be lower calories than other wine so that’s essentially permission to pop corks.

 

Spirts such as Gin, Vodka and Whisky have a calorie content of around 100 calories, it’s the mixers that add calories so stick to diet mixers or soda water and you’re saving hundreds of calories. The supermodels current drink of choice is Vodka, lime and Soda so of its good enough for them…..

 

I’m imagining you’ve all stopped reading now as you’re already on route to the bar…..

 

Save your Shoulders

I often get people coming to see me with shoulder pain.

Sometimes just the upper back tension kind-usually as a result of being in a hunched position all day. This can cause muscles to become weak and unable to do their job properly. It can also cause overuse injuries of some of the shoulder muscles in particular the upper trapezius. 

I also deal with more mechanical problems with shoulder pain such as only pain when lifting over head or to the side. 

Firstly there are a couple of nerves in this region that if being pinched can cause pain. Median nerve and Ulna Nerve originate in the neck and run down the arm -so they can also be responsible for elbow and wrist pain. Nerves can get pinched by muscle tension, being in a static position for lengths of time or overuse and underuse injuries.

There is also the problem of the small space under the Acromial Clavicular joint. This joint is the bony bit on the tip of your shoulder just above your arm. The Shoulder muscles and a tendon bursa pass under here and if they get inflamed they can struggle for space trying to pass under here.

The risk of these common issues can be minimised by doing some “pre hab” to keep your shoulders moving well.

Here a couple of simple exercises, one no equipment at all; the others just a resistance band.

Firstly release the shoulders with scapula retraction.

Then open the chest and shoulders with up and overs.

Activate the chest and shoulders with band pull aparts.

Finally switch on the scapula stabiliser muscles with dumb waiters.

Yoga for Sports

Last week I talked about the benefits of Pilates so this week I want to look at Yoga, Many people assume they are the same but they are in fact very different. 

 

Yoga tends to focus more on relaxation and lengthening of muscles however there are so many different kinds of yoga and not all of them strictly follow this brief.

 

I teach Sports Yoga which is essentially adapting yoga to assist and complement the demands of any particular sport.

 

This means it will focus on lengthening muscles that may get tight/shortened and strengthening muscles that will aid performance.

 

Yoga is great for improving general movement and balance throughout the body whether geared towards your sport or not. A common theme of most sports is they will follow a repetitive pattern which over time causes over use of some muscles and in turn under use of others. Unfortunately this is bad news for the overall function of your body, so it is really important to try and re address the balance to give yourself the best chance of avoiding injury.

 

You don’t need to spend hours doing yoga for it to be effective, just doing a few minutes a couple of times per week is enough to iron out all those kinks.

 

Here’s a short flow you can do in less than 10 minutes keep you in tip top balance.

Pilates for Athletes

Now you’re probably taking more of your training sessions indoors it might be time to change things up a little. As I’ve previously mentioned now is a good time to address injury niggles, muscle imbalances etc. So they that are not going to stop you hitting your PB in 2020.

Enter Pilates.

Joseph Pilates developed his method of exercise after working in hospital rehabilitating soldiers during the war. The system was then taken on by dancers to reduce injuries and thus followed studios and the gaining popularity that it has today. 

So why Pilates? In short Pilates builds balanced bodies.

It can be used to correct postural imbalances and/or poor posture which in turn can help to prevent injury. That’s why athletes have been using it for years, most famously Andy Murray uses it as part of his training regime.

It can be used to address overuse of certain patterns by encouraging you to perform more rounded movement patterns that create balance throughout the body. For example if you’re sport is one side dominant like racquet sports spending some time moving the body symmetrically can undo any potential repetitive strain injury.

It can be used to address your particular injury issues such as hip and back pain, shoulder tension or foot pain.

It can be used to compliment your existing training as a lower impact option whilst still training muscles required for your sport.

For example Pilates works a lot of the deep core muscles which provide a solid base from which to emit power such as throwing a ball, swinging a golf club etc or to remain stable whilst other limbs work which is vital for runners,swimmers , horse riders.

It can also Increase flexibility which in turn can aid in injury prevention.

Many of the exercises require coordination and body awareness which will improve aspects of most sports.

Pilates also works on breathing technique, which can be useful for weight training sessions, during long training sessions and in downtime to help calm the mind.

So here are a couple of exercises to work breathing, coordination and your core. Remember technique is key-5 good ones is better than 10 rubbish ones.

 

Toe Drop and Dead Bug

Teaser

Bridge March