5 Nutrition Myths Busted

 

  1. “Fresh produce is healthier than frozen”

In actual fact frozen vegetables can be heathier than fresh! Produce is often snap frozen very soon after they are picked and this ‘freezes’ all the nutrients along with it. On the other hand fresh vegetables can lose some of their nutrient value on its way from the field to the supermarket shelf. Water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and B’s tend to deplete the longer the veges are around for. However, both fresh and frozen veges provide us with a quality amount of nutrients and it is actually the method of cooking which will make the greatest difference in nutrient content. Boiling veges in water for a long period of time lets the vitamins and minerals seep out into the water. Regardless of whether you’re using fresh or frozen veges, in order to retain the most nutrients cook veges in as little water and for as little time as possible. Steaming, microwaving, stir-frying, and roasting are much better options than boiling when it comes retaining those nutrients.

  1. “Eating carbs will make me fat”

Our bodies preferred source of fuel is glucose – which comes from eating carbs. We need carbs in order to have the energy to carry out our day to day activities. Cutting out all carbs can lead to low energy levels, feeling moody, and unmotivated. What we want to do is focus on the types of carbs we are consuming. It is the simple carbs which can cause us to gain weight. Simple carbs are highly processed and include: White bread/rice/pasta, chips, crackers, cakes, biscuits etc. In these types of carbs the outside layer of the grain has been removed, which contains fibre and protein. This results in your blood sugar levels spiking and lowering rapidly, often referred to as a ‘sugar crash’ which results in our hunger levels being out of whack thus effecting our weight. Simple carbs are also often packed with extra sugar and calories. Complex carbs on the other hand include: Wholegrain bread/rice/pasta/wraps, oats, legumes, sweet potato, fruits and veges. These result in a steady increase in blood sugar which keeps us fuller for longer and our hunger levels regulated. However, as with all foods everything should be eaten in moderation. Complex carbs should make up a quarter of your plate, and remember to always include a healthy source of protein and fat in each meal. Also do not deprive yourself of a treat every now and then to keep those cravings satisfied, but keep it as just that, a once-in-a-while treat.

  1. “Snacking is bad”

Short answer is if you are hungry eat! Having a snack between meals can be a good way to prevent that mid-afternoon energy crash and prevent you from becoming ravenously hungry just before dinner. The important part is not when you’re eating it is what you are eating. Rather than chips and biscuits, choose a snack with protein and healthy fats to keep you satiated. For example: Apple and nut butter, cheese and meat whole grain bread sandwich, tuna and avocado, carrots and hummus etc. Keep portable snacks with you when you’re out and about such as hard boiled eggs or nuts. If you find yourself in an environment where mindless snacking is occurring such as a social event, bring with you the healthiest option feasible and stay hydrated to prevent hunger mistaken for thirst.

  1. “Juices and smoothies are healthy”

Many people believe juice is a great way to get in the health benefits of fruit. However, juice could not be more far from healthy. The flesh of the fruit has been removed thus leaving it with no fibre – a nutrient that helps you feel fuller for longer, regulates blood sugar, and keeps our digestive system healthy. A lot of juices are packed with extra sugar making their sugar content comparable if not higher than a lot of fizzy drinks. This high sugar content packs in the extra calories and in the absence of fibre will cause a huge blood sugar spike. It is best to stick to whole fruit as it is more filling and contains much more nutritional benefits, but if you must have juice try to dilute it with water.

Smoothies are also popular and believed to be a great way to consume healthy fruits and veg. Because the fibre of the fruit is not lost in smoothies they are already a better option than juice. However it ultimately depends what goes in the smoothie that makes it ‘healthy’ or not. It can be all too easy to pack an orange, apple, berries, honey, and a banana all into one easy to drink smoothie. But would you usually eat all this fruit in one siting? If you are adding in all this fruit, the calorie content can easily creep up to be very unnecessarily high. The key to smoothies is to just use a small amount of fruit, for example, half a banana and a handful of berries or half a banana, and add a source of protein such as Greek yogurt to keep you fuller for longer.  Avoid added sugars such as honey, ice-cream, and sorbets.

 

 

  1. “Potatoes are bad for me”

Potatoes are actually a superfood! They offer a huge range of nutrients including vitamins C, B6, and B3, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, and fibre. It is also important to note that potato skins contain a great amount of the vitamins and nutrients so peeling potatoes before cooking can significantly reduce their nutrient content. Potatoes also generally have a high GI so keeping the skin on increases fibre content and consuming a source of protein simultaneously will reduce the effect on blood sugar. The best way to prepare potatoes are boiling, mashed with only a dash of milk, or roasted with just a drizzle of olive oil. When potatoes are processed into the form of fries, chips, hash browns etc. the calorie content goes through the roof due to the excess oil, and the nutrients become diminished.

 

 

Top 10 Body Weight Exercises

Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple body weight exercises can be a great choice for achieving gains in strength, flexibility, and overall health. Best of all, you can usually do them just about anywhere. While we are eagerly awaiting level 2 for the gym to reopen, there is a number of exercises that you can do with no equipment at all.

Here are 10 of my favourite body weight exercises you can do at home, all of these exercises are able to be modified to make them easier or more challenging.

BURPEES

I know they aren’t everybody’s favourite exercise but burpees are a great exercise to strengthen your whole body from head to toe. They help with coordination and stability, as well as getting your heart rate up to burn lots of calories. Burpees work the arms, chest, core, hamstrings, glutes and quads.  Plus there are lots of different options to make burpees easier or harder, so start with easy stepping options and change it up as you get fitter and more coordinated.

BEAR CRAWL

The bear crawl is another great exercise, primarily a strength and mobility enhancing exercise.  It works your core muscles just like the plank, but since you’re moving, it engages more muscles and forces your core to work harder to keep you stable. Your abs, shoulder, chest, glutes and legs are the primary muscles used during this exercise.  In fact, you are using all these muscles at the same time.  It also increases joint mobility in the hips, wrists, spine, ankles and the knee.

SQUATS

Squats are a great basic functional movement . We do this movement a lot in our daily life, for example sitting or standing from a chair or picking up and putting down a box.  Squats work your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominal muscles, lower back and your glutes too. Not many exercises can claim to recruit so many muscles at the same time!  Squats build strength in your legs and hips but also help with mobility and balance. Strong legs are essential for staying mobile as you get older. Not only do they develop leg strength, they also workout your core and stabilising muscles. These muscles help you to maintain balance while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle, which helps prevent falls.

SPLIT SQUAT and LUNGES

Firstly the main difference between a split squat and a lunge is movement, with a split squat your feet stay in place whereas with a lunge you are either stepping forward, backward or sideways to get into the lunge.  With both exercises, all the muscles in the lower body and hips are working, and also the core muscles are activated to provide stability.  Lunges/Split squats can help you develop lower-body strength and endurance. Split squats are a great beginner lower body move and can be an great asymmetrical exercise for sports people and runners. Lunges/Split Squats can be made more advanced with different placements of weight, foot position and instability equipment.

PUSH UPS

Push ups are a great exercise for the upper body muscles with the added benefit of developing core stability. The push up also trains your lower back, upper back and glutes.  You can target different upper body muscles just by changing the position of your hands/arms. Like the burpee, push ups have a lot of different options to make them easier or harder. You can start on your knees and advance to the feet option.  Elevate your hands is a great way to make the exercise easier while being able to still do them on your feet. Try them on a wall first then move to a chair/floor when you get fiiter. By elevating the feet you can really make this a challenging exercise for the super fit athlete.

Y-T-L-W RAISE

The Y-T-L-W Raise is a multi-part move that targets your upper back. At the same time, it stabilizes your shoulder blades and strengthens your rotator cuff. This exercise is very beneficial for people with desk-bound jobs or who drive a lot for work and have limited range in their shoulder movement, it also strengthens your shoulder muscles in every direction.

PLANKS

Planks are a very versatile exercise that target a lot of the most important muscle groups in the body namely, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, oblique muscles and your glutes. Planks work the stability of your core muscles and help stabilise the pelvis.  They are also essential for lower-back health and are highly effective at working your abdominal muscles.  Like most of the exercises on my list there are also heaps of different variations of Planks to keep them challenging. Start on your knees first and push your hips forward to create a straight line in your body. Advance to your feet when you can do a minute comfortably. When you can do a minute on your feet, make it more challenging by moving your arms or legs and create more instability.

DEADBUG

The “dead bug” exercise is one of the simplest and best moves out there when it comes to strengthening your abs and core, without putting extra strain on your back. It engages your deep inner core including your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor. It’s a safe and effective way to strengthen and stabilize your core, spine and back muscles. This improves your posture and helps relieve and prevent low back pain. You will also improve your balance and coordination.

SINGLE LEG ROMAINIAN DEADLIFT

These are a excellent strength builder for your posterior chain. They work your hamstrings, glutes, outer thigh, lower back, ankles and core.  They can be used as a warmup/activating exercise or as a great glute/hamstring tie in move. Going single leg adds a balance and hip/glute stabilization component so your hamstrings really have to work hard.

HIP BRIDGES

This exercise is a great exercise to target your glutes and hamstrings. They also require you to activate your abdominal and lower back muscles in order to keep your body stable – so they are also a great core exercise.  You can use Hip Bridges as a good warm-up exercise to get your glutes activated before a leg workout, as a main lower body exercise as well as a basic rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization.

Melinda’s Fitness Journey

Hi Ladies, Melinda here, like most women out there I to have had a on and off again love hate relationship with my body and weight. From originally wanting to lose my teenage weight, trying to get back to my pre pregnancy weight after my last child and hitting 40 and beyond my weight has always been a struggle. When i hit 40, I wondered why the scales are slowly going up, if I’m still exercising and eating healthy like I did in my 30’s. I thought I would share with you a little about myself and my first journey to lose weight and a few hurdles I had to overcome.

All through my school years I was chubby, plump or slightly overweight, by the time I was in my early twenties I was overweight (size 16 +), exercise was non-existent and I ate very badly. That all changed one day when I woke up and made the decision that would change my life and subsequently my husband’s. I decided that I was sick of being the size I was and I wanted to lose some weight. I ultimately decided that I would be happy if I could get down to a size 12.

What did I do? I started with one thing at a time. First, my diet – I stopped using butters & marges, fatty spreads, high fat cheeses, no more dressings and swapped the milk to low fat. I became what my husband calls me “a picky eater”. If we ate out it was like “20 questions” because I would and I admit I still do interrogate the waiters as to what is exactly in the dishes.

Next came the exercise, my sister had just started going to aerobic classes down at the local gym, so I tagged along with her a couple of times per week. That was the start and 3-4 months later I had lost my first 10 kilos and was hooked on Group exercise classes. However, I had reached my first obstacle. I had reached a plateau. And my body had adapted to the changes. I had lost a decent amount of weight, felt fitter, stronger and faster but I couldn’t seem to lose any more on the scales. I realised I had to change something up to shock the body even more.

I decided to make a few more changes to my diet, what I was eating and how often. I started to eat 5-6 times a day, increased my fibre intake, limited the amount of fat and drank plenty of water. I also increased the amount and intensity of the exercise I was doing. I started doing 4-5 sessions per week which now included a Pump class and I started running. I also talked to a Fitness Instructor and got a programme for the gym which was a combination of weights & cardio. However, I have to admit, I spent more time attending the Group fitness classes than doing my programme. I struggled to find the motivation to exercise by myself in the gym and personal trainers were non-existent.

How does lifting weights help you lose weight? Resistance training not only tones your body (stops those bits from wobbling), it also increases your Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – How many calories you burn at rest. This means you burn more calories even when you are not exercising. The scales might not have gone down as much as I would have liked – they even went up occasionally, but I was still getting slimmer as my body shape was changing. I noticed I wasn’t jiggling as much and as a side effect I was reducing my chances of getting osteoporosis. Ladies are often worried that lifting weights will make you big and muscular. Don’t worry! It’s just not in our genes for this to happen without hormone enhancement. After 8 months I had reached my goal and surpassed it! I was now fitting into size 8/10 clothes. YES! I had done it.

In total I lost approximately 25kgs. I was not only looking great but I had lots more energy, sleeping better, my skin was looking healthier and I was feeling great too.  I was now hooked on exercise and love the way it made me feel. I often get asked if it was hard. Yes, but it was so worth it. I had days with low motivation and didn’t feel like doing any exercise. I had to constantly remind myself that I always felt better after that class, run or gym session. I had set myself a goal and I wasn’t going to reach it, by doing nothing. Once I got past being self-conscious and how I looked like while exercising, it got easier and in no time I was addicted. Was this a good thing? Yes and no. Positively, I was at the lightest weight (55kgs) I had ever been in my adult years. I liked the way I looked and was wearing clothes I would have never even considered wearing before my weight loss. However, it became a negative thing for myself as I was doing too much exercise. I was working out 7 days a week, without a recovery or rest day and doing very long sessions of 1.5-2 hours most days. On top of this, I was eating a very low fat, low carb diet.  I had what I called constant “fuzzy brain”. My head just didn’t feel right and I hadn’t had a period for over 18 months. I soon learnt through my doctor, that this was a condition called amenorrhea. I was eventually referred to a fertility clinic for it and after all sorts of tests it was put down to significant exercising and extreme weight loss, which had caused (FHA) Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. I had taken exercising and dieting too far. My body looked healthy on the outside but my weight and body fat was just too low for my hormones to function correctly. I was advised to cut down on the amount of cardio exercise I was doing and get my weight up to around 58kg. I have to say, that was a very hard thing to hear. After all the hard work I had done to get to where I was, to then be told that I had to put weight back on was a shock, but the “fuzzy brain” and amenorrhea was my body’s way of telling me that things weren’t ok. I did what was recommended and got my body back to being healthy functioning again. This became more important to me than how small the number on the scales read.

Sixteen years, three children and a career change later, I still work out 5-6 days a week but for only 30 – 60 minutes at a time. I instruct several classes per week and lift weights, which are much heavier than when I first started. I still prefer to eat a lower carb diet but instead of low fat, I now incorporate healthy fats.

Healthy habits to implement in your life during the lockdown period

It’s a crazy time in the world right now and most of our lives have been impacted from this lockdown. Whether you’re working from home, online learning, having this time off or an essential worker – chances are you’re not in your regular routine. And that’s okay!

Thankfully we are only looking at one more week of level 4, but Level 3 may not be too much different for you. Whatever position you are in during this lockdown I’m going to share some of my top healthy habits to implement into your life to try and stay a little in routine.

 

  1. Break up your sitting time

    During isolation most of us are spending more time sitting, whether that be at your makeshift office at home or on the couch binge watching Netflix. Breaking up your sitting time every hour or so with a few stretches, a walk around the house or a couple of jump squats is great for your overall health. Not only does it benefit your mental state from taking a break from whatever it was you were doing it also helps increases your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) to burn a few extra calories.

 

  1. Increase your NEAT

    Following on from the tip above; usually you would be out and about walking to your local coffee shop, walking to work, going up a few flights of stairs, walking to the bus etc. These are all activities that increase your NEAT during the day. Whilst being at home we all tend to spend more time not moving because we don’t really have anywhere to go. Try and increase your NEAT by doing a few stretches on the floor whilst watching TV at night to relieve tension in muscles, check your emails whilst standing, any small tasks you would normally do sitting try standing and take regular walks!

 

  1. Keep a large water bottle with you at all times

    Simple but effective! If you have a large water bottle sitting on your desk as you work, cook, watch TV, garden or any task you will be much more inclined to drink it! We don’t drink nearly enough water as we should, so this is one of the best tips to implement to keep your body and mind happy!

  1. Remember to take time out for yourself

    Self-care is important! Give yourself at least an hour a day to do something you love or enjoy. Read a book, bake, go for a walk, take a bath or put on your favorite music!

 

  1. Try a few new exercises

    With all this time at home try and find a new style of exercise you like! Take up running, yoga, shadow boxing, dancing! There are so many options and so many videos online to teach you!

 

  1. Set yourself daily goals and gratitude’s

    Learn to appreciate the small things in life and set yourself small daily goals to feel like you’ve accomplished something each day! I like to write down three things I am grateful for and three small goals for the day!

 

  1. Keep in contact with friends and family

    We may be in self-isolation but that doesn’t mean we have to be alone! Catch up with old friends, the ones you always think about calling but never do! Now’s the time to check in with them and make the call! Try group face time calls and have Friday night drinks or Sunday brunch together.

 

  1. Sneak vegetables into everything

    Getting to the supermarket isn’t as easy as it used to be so sometimes you won’t have fresh produce in the house! But get creative with it! Stock up on the frozen vege and put lots in all your dishes! Even better frozen spinach and zucchini are great for smoothies with frozen bananas! This will give you a boost of nutrients when you may be lacking!

 

For a lot of us, we do have more time on our hands. More time at home. More time to ourselves. So now is THE TIME to focus on yourself, your family, your DIY projects, your baking skills, your favorite Netflix series or whatever else interests you. Try and stick to a routine that works with you and your #isobuddies and implement exercise or daily activities into your lifestyle.

10 foods to boost your immune system

First of all everyone should be aware that consuming these foods will not prevent you from getting corona virus or any other sickness. However, our food choices and lifestyle factors do have a large impact on our immune function and therefore a diet that obtains all essential nutrients will allow the body to bounce back from sickness quicker than those with a poor diet. While it is also convenient to pop those lolly-tasting vitamin C tablets and other multivitamin supplements, your body absorbs nutrients a lot better when they come from a dietary source.

 

  1. Capsicum

Many people turn to vitamin C when fighting a cold, but if you think citrus fruits are the best source of vitamin C then think again! Capsicums have twice the amount of vitamin C than citric fruits and also contain beta carotene which keeps your eyes and skin healthy.

 

  1. Spinach

Spinach also contains vitamin C and is packed with antioxidants and beta carotene. Antioxidants help protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals (air pollutants, chemicals, processed foods). Undamaged cells mean a fast working and effective immune system. Light cooking of spinach allows nutrients such as vitamin A to be released so the body can better absorb them.

 

  1. Yogurt

Yogurt is a good source of probiotics – this can also be advertised on labels as “live cultures” or “acidophilus”. Probiotics in food serve to maintain a healthy flora of gut bacteria. If our gut flora is unbalanced, opportunistic pathogens can more easily enter the body. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium, protein, vitamin A, and zinc. Choose plain low fat yogurt and serve with nuts, seeds, berries, or fruit for a healthy snack.

 

  1. Almonds

Almonds along with other nuts contain valuable vitamin E and healthy fats. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that help the body fight off infection.

 

  1. Eggs

Eggs have gotten a bad rap due to concerns of cholesterol, but fear not, the egg yolk is a little powerhouse of nutrients. They contain the immune boosters zinc, selenium, and vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 is a crucial component for many chemical reactions that occur in the body and are also important for red blood cell formation. Eggs are one of the only foods that contain vitamin D which is critical for bone health, enhances immunity, and is a vitamin many of us can get low on in winter months due to less sun exposure. The egg white is a rich source of protein which is vital to build and repair body tissue and fight infections.

  1. Legumes

Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and beans are great sources of zinc. Zinc plays an essential role in the immune system and zinc-deficient individuals experience increased susceptibility to infectious agents. Zinc is also very important for would healing.

 

  1. Green Tea

Green tea contains compounds called polyphenols which promote immunity through various pathways. However, be sure to wait 30 minutes either side of main meals to drink your tea, as polyphenols interfere with your body’s absorption of iron.

 

  1. Garlic

Garlic may boost the amount of virus-fighting T cells in your blood and the sulfur it contains can help your body absorb the immune boosting mineral zinc. Some evidence suggests garlic may also plays a role in reducing stress hormones.

 

  1. Broccoli

Broccoli is a superfood! It contains high levels vitamins A, C, A, and K, along with a good profile of B vitamins, including folic acid, and the minerals iron, potassium, calcium, selenium. Research has also identified a special compound that occurs in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables called DIM which has potential immune enhancing effects.

 

  1. Potatoes

No this does not give you a free pass to eat all the potato chips… When boiled, mashed with only a dash of milk, or roasted with just a drizzle of olive oil, potatoes retain their high nutritional value. They are high in the immune boosting vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Potatoes are also an excellent source of iron which is essential for maintaining healthy blood.

 

It is important to note that eating just one of these foods will not help you ward off the flu, cold, or other illness. Variety is key! You must get your recommended 5+ fruit and vegetables per day, every day, in order to get all the nutrients your body needs for it to work optimally.

Poor diet is also not the only factor contributing to poor immunity. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption, poor sleep, and lack of exercise also contribute to decreased immunity.

Finally, the most important thing you can do for your immune system and overall health is to wash your hands.

I thought you said RUM: A beginners guide to running

  • Slow down

Newbies often think they are running too slow when in fact many are going too fast, meaning it quickly gets too difficult. Try jogging at the pace of just a fast walk for the next month and you’ll find that you will be able to go a lot further a lot easier.

 

  • Take small steps

Shortening the length of your stride can help big time. Practice over a 30 meter or so length (or between two light poles) and see if you can add in an extra 5 steps or strides over that distance!

 

  • Start with short distances

Start by jogging slowly for short distances. For example, from one lamp post to the next and then walking in between the next two (This is how I first started). Aim to do that for a total of just 15 minutes, twice a week, if you’re starting out or getting back into it after a long break. If you’re a bit fitter, try a walk-run or run-walk approach. Alternating blocks of walking/running with blocks of running/walking. e.g. 4 mins of running with 1 min of walking for 3 rounds = total running time 12 mins. Try to increase the rounds first, then look at increasing the running time. e.g. 5 mins running with 1 min walking. By using an on/off approach you are also reducing the amount of impact you are subjecting your body to.

 

  • Speed up or go further?

Once you can do a complete 15 minute jog, increase your speed by jogging slowly one way for 8-10 minutes then ‘racing’ back to where you started. Your total run time will get shorter, which at this stage of your running career is perfect – or – hold off on increasing speed and get out for a third run each week instead – idea being to do one or the other, not both.

 

  • Stop

If something doesn’t feel right, stop. If it hurts, stop. If something feels a bit weird, (and you get to be the judge of what that means), stop. This is an exercise in learning how to love jogging, not a game of pushing through pain. Seek guidance from a medical practitioner e.g. physiotherapist, podiatrist, if pain doesn’t go away.

Running Tips:

(This first one’s going to be a bit hard during this lockdown period but if you’ve got a good pair of supportive gym shoes/cross trainers that aren’t too old might be fine to get you started). Invest in a good pair of runners, go visit one of those specialist shoe stores (I go to our local Shoe Science store in Albany) yes the shoes do cost more but it’s well worth the investment in making sure you have the right type of shoe for your walking/running pattern. A quality, well-fitting and supporting sneaker will prevent aches and pains…no not muscle pain, but permanent knee, shin, and foot injuries that can plague you for life, if you suffer an injury.

If you walk/run a regular block (loop), then make sure that you also go the other way or vary your route .Our body (tendons, ligaments and muscles) get used to going that one way – the ups & downs, the level of the road. No road is level like a treadmill, so if we don’t vary the way/direction we go, we can end up with imbalances with the muscles, tendons and ligaments from our feet to our legs, hips and core which can then lead to injuries. With my current niggles, I just go straight out for time/distance and then turn around and come back the same way. I also vary the terrain every couple of runs by going to my nearest sports field or school and running on the grass (less impact) as there are no grass verges where I live to run on.

Do strength and conditioning and core work. These are hugely important for injury prevention and improving your running form and economy. For example when we go on a longer run, we tend to get tired. This causes us to slump forwards, which can cause pain in the neck, back and shoulders. By having a strong core, you can help prevent this. Many running niggles can be traced directly back to the fact that the glutes, the main hip muscles and the biggest muscle group in your body, simply aren’t doing their fair share of the work. Five minutes a day spent doing targeted exercises can reap significant rewards. A simple mix of planks, side planks and crunches can build your core strength, and squats and bridges are great for glutes.

Good music! 🙂 As you start increasing your time and distance, I find a good playlist with motivating music and a good tempo helps me go that bit further or go a bit longer. You can find already compiled playlists and albums on iTunes, Spotify or make up your own.

Benefits of running:

  • Healthy mind – running reduces stress and releases happy hormones.
  • Sleep easier -Runners enjoy better sleep, giving them more energy.
  • Healthy heart – Cardiovascular fitness goes up, blood pressure goes down.
  • Breathe easier – Running lessens the effects of asthma and helps to strengthen your lungs.
  • Keeps you young – Runners age better and live longer.
  • Better sex – Running improves stamina.
  • Strong immune system – decreases your risk of illness.
  • Weight loss – Running burns around 100 calories a mile (1.6 km). 3 miles (4.8 km) = 1 large doughnut.
  • Stronger bones – Boost your bone density and help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Toned legs – Runners have great leg

“I often hear someone say ‘I’m not a real runner. We are all runners. Some just run faster than others. I’ve never met a fake runner. (Bart Yasso)”

Should i take protein powder?

Hi Ladies! Today we’re looking into Protein Powder. A common question we get at the gym is if protein powder is recommended, and does it make us “bulky?”.

Use of Protein Powder

The purpose of Protein Powder is for people, whether athletes, bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, or just your average joe, to up their protein intake in the easy form of a powder. Protein Powder exists because of pure convenience, because you may not always be in the position to roast a chicken, pan fry some steak, or boil up some beans. Protein Powder is often lower in calories than a “standard” source of protein. It is recommended that you eat 1-1.5g of protein per kg of your bodyweight, and while most people think they get enough, they may not.

Some examples of this (using calories just as a comparison for how much protein you get for the number of calories you consume) are as follows:

  • Boiled Egg: 6g of protein (140 calories)
  • A Tank Lemon & Herb Chicken salad (My favourite!): 24g of protein (222 calories)
  • A thin slice of shaved ham: 2.9g of protein (30 calories)
  • 2 Roasted Garlic Bean Supreme Vegetarian Sausages: 8.4g of protein (153 calories)
  • ½ cup of Lentils: 9g of protein (200 calories)
  • A tin of Watties baked beans: 10.8g of protein (220 calories)
  • 1 glass of milk: 3.4g of protein (130 calories)
  • 10 almonds: 2.5g of protein (149 calories)
  • Milo “Protein Clusters” Cereal: 5.5g protein (191 calories for one 45g serving)
  • 2 scoops of Horley’s 100% Whey Vanilla protein powder: 18.6g of protein (and only 98 calories! This is the protein powder I have used in the past, it tastes great in my opinion, the vanilla one with half a banana and lots of ice tastes just like a good old banana milkshake/smoothie with vanilla icecream!)

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Why protein is important in our diet.

Protein IS NOT just about building muscle and only needed by body builders. Protein is one of the three macro nutrients (the other two being fats and carbohydrates), and is the building blocks of the body. Your body needs it in a relatively large amount, and is vital to the body. This is because your body uses protein to repair and build tissues. Protein is also a building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails! Fats and Carbohydrates are stored in your body, but Protein is not, which means it needs a fresh supply every single day, and it’s up to you to provide your body with this supply. Even if you don’t exercise, your body still needs protein to regenerate and repair different cells in your body.

Will I get “bulky” from eating more protein?

If you are eating 1 to 1.5g per kg of your bodyweight, you will not gain muscle, as this is the recommendation to keep your body happy and healthy.  Remember that females do not have the same amount of testosterone as males to get that “bulk”.

 

When should you use protein powder?

Whenever you want! Protein shake for breakfast, or morning tea, or afternoon tea, or for dessert! That’s the great thing about protein powder, its quick, easy, and versatile! You can have it alone with water, make it a smoothie by adding some berries or half of a banana, or you can even put it in some yoghurt and make a thick mousse!

 

At the end of the day you don’t NEED protein powder. There are many foods high in protein that would let you reach your goal easily! However, Protein powder is usually lower in calories, super tasty (if you find the right one!), and convenient! If you think you need to up your protein intake and want the convenience, definitely give protein powder a try! Some health food stores sell single sachets of a variety of protein powders, and we have single sample sachets of Horleys, Sculpt for sale at the gym!

Importance of stretching and flexibility

We have all heard the trainers harp on about stretching after exercise and we often think it’s not important or you don’t have time. We all know if we  are one of the guilty ones who just doing a quick 5 second stretch (or nothing at all) and running out the door.

Benefits of stretching more:

  • Posture. You know, that thing that most people struggle with (especially if you have a desk job)? It’s not as easy as just “sitting up straighter”. Bad posture can come from tight muscles, and stretching therefore can prevent these muscles from getting so tight. Bad posture can lead to tightness which in turn can give you pain and cause injuries.
  • You will become more flexible. This is a pretty obvious benefit of stretching, but vital, daily tasks like bending over to tie your shoe, or throwing a ball for your dog, all become easier when you are more flexible.
  • Improved circulation. As you stretch, you increase blood flow, which allows your body to transport nutrients, and get rid of waste, faster.
  • Faster recovery. By stretching your muscles, you promote more blood to the area. The more blood flow, the more nutrients it will bring to recover and fix your muscles faster.
  • Better Coordination. This may seem like an average point, but coordination is so important, especially as you get older, as having this improved coordination and balance will prevent as many falls or accidents.

stretch pic

Should I stretch before I exercise?

Definitely! Before jumping into the weights or cardio, make sure you warm up and then do some dynamic stretches before the main part of your workout. Dynamic stretches are moving stretches that aim to put the join through its full range of motion and gets blood flowing to the right areas. An example of this is a lunge, swinging one of your legs back and forth or ankle, shoulder circles This warms up your muscles safely. If you try a static stretch, such as touching your toes, this actually cools the muscle down and can use up too much muscle energy performing this stretch, and then have a poor workout due to your muscled already being fatigued!

How often should I stretch?

The American College of Sports Medicine (some very important, knowledgeable people!) recommend that each big muscle group should be stretched at least twice a week. They also recommend holding every stretch for around 60 seconds for maximum benefits, however they claim holding a 15-30 stretch is very beneficial as well. The American College of Sports Medicine also recommend static stretching after every workout.

How should I perform static stretches?

  • Try to be symmetrical. You want both sides of your body to be at the same level when it comes to stretching. This is especially important for those with injuries.
  • Don’t bounce in your stretch (I’m guilty of this one). Hold a stretch smoothly, and don’t aim for pain, aim for tension. Pain can be a sign you have gone too far, and you should release your stretch a little bit. I used to bounce in my stretch to go deeper, to be as flexible as I possibly could, but I would often end up with very sore muscles the next day.

What about yoga?

Yoga is amazing for flexibility, it helps you strengthen and lengthen your muscles in a safe and effective way. You don’t have to be “naturally flexible” in order to do yoga. Yoga helps your body stretch in new ways, and it is also a great way to relax as well.  In saying that, you don’t have to practice yoga to become more flexible or to do a great stretch session.

Flexibility and stretching can greatly improve some aspects of your life. It can make day to day activities easier, improve your posture, prevent injuries and may even reduce stress. An excellent benefit of stretching is your performance. By being more flexible, you can increase range of motion in your exercises which in turn recruits more muscle fibers which can make you faster, stronger and fitter. You may think that is only important to athletes or people who play sport. However, it can help the weekend warrior or even keeping up with the kids a little easier.

My Healthy Snacks

Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to stick to healthy eating. We all know nutrition plays a big part into weight loss and health and snacking can easily become unhealthy. So let’s get inspired and take look into some of my favourite snacks that are healthy, easy to make and satisfying.

 

Muesli Bars:

Muesli bars and nut bars are a convenient on the go snack. However, many brands pack them full of sugar, so much that eating one bar would be the same as eating a slice of cake! The nice and natural range of protein nut bars have one of the lowest sugar contents on the market. The salted caramel flavour as pictured has the lowest sugar of the range at <2g per 100g.

Rice cakes:

Rice cakes are low in calories and when topped with nutrient dense foods, create a wholesome snack.

There are endless options for toppings, but here are a few ideas:

  • Nut butter and banana/apple slices
  • Avocado and tomato
  • Hummus and chicken
  • “Healthy Pizza” – Pizza sauce, melted cheese, olives, basil
  • Curried eggs
  • Tuna/salmon
  • Ham and cheese
  • Cream cheese and smoked salmon

Healthy berry and chocolate yogurt:

Greek yogurt is high in calcium and probiotics which aid in bone health and a healthy bacterial balance in the gut. However, plain Greek yogurt can be bitter tasting. The following recipes spruce up plain Greek yogurt to make it a little tastier.

 

Vanilla berry yogurt:

Start with some plain Greek yogurt and mix in the following:

  • Low-calorie sweetener e.g. stevia or agave
  • Vanilla essence
  • Optional: Vanilla protein powder
  • Warmed frozen berries
  • Add a handful of nuts & seeds on top for some crunch

Healthy chocolate yogurt:

Again, start with some plain Greek yogurt and mix in the following:

  • Low-calorie sweetener e.g. stevia or agave
  • Vanilla essence
  • Cacao power
  • Optional: Chocolate protein powder
  • Optional: Cacao nibs (healthy chocolate chips)

Sweet potato fries:

Sweet potatoes are a great source of fibre and well as containing an array of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium and selenium.

Cut up a sweet potato into thin slices. Toss the fries in approx. ½ a tablespoon of cornstarch before adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake in the oven until crispy. If desired, add seasonings such as pepper, garlic powder, or mixed herbs.

Banana oat cookies:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of oat flour (can blend regular oats in a food processor/blender to reach flour consistency)
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or raisins
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Low calorie sweetener to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mash the bananas into a puree type consistency. Mix in the oat flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, and chocolate chips/raisins.  If desired add in a low-calorie sweetener such as stevia or agave to taste. If the sweetener is a liquid add 2 tablespoons more oat flour to bind the mixture. This mixture will not spread while baking so form into the desired cookie shape, arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes.

These biscuits can be eaten on there own or with some Greek yogurt for a filling snack or even breakfast.

Banana Pikelets:

If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare then these are a perfect sweet, yet low sugar treat!

Ingredients:

  • One medium banana
  • One egg
  • ½ cup of your choice of flour – whole meal, gluten free, almond, coconut etc. personally I prefer buckwheat flour as it has a high protein content!
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ cup of any type of milk (cows, almond, oat etc.)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until a smooth consistency Is achieved.  Fry in a pan cooking both sides. These can be eaten plain or topped with yogurt, berries etc. and can easily be packed in a container for an on the go snack.

 

The Science of Coffee – Friend or Enemy?

Arguably the world’s favourite beverage, coffee is frequently in the headlines for both positive and negative health effects. This can be confusing when new research constantly gives conflicting opinions. So, let’s take a look at the big picture and conclude whether coffee is our friend or enemy.

The Good

Improved Energy levels and Intelligence – Coffee contains a stimulant called caffeine. After drinking coffee, caffeine absorbs into the blood and travels to the brain where it binds to adenosine receptors. These receptors are involved in promoting sleep and when caffeine is bound, sleep promoting effects are inhibited – thus resulting in feelings of wakefulness.

Can help burn fat – Several studies show that coffee can increase your metabolic rate by 3-11%. However, other studies have shown these effects may be diminished in long-term coffee drinkers.

Can improve exercise performance – Caffeine increases adrenaline levels in the blood and release fatty acids into the blood to be available for fuel – these effects can improve physical performance. The best pre-workout aid around.

High in Antioxidants – Coffee contains high levels of antioxidants which are known to reduce oxidative damage in the body. This may be why some studies have found lower risks of liver cancer in coffee drinkers.

Contains Essential nutrients – Coffee contains small amounts of some vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, and B9 (folate); and minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

May protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia – Healthy eating and exercise are the main preventative measures for these diseases, but coffee may be effective as well. Studies have shown up to 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s in coffee drinkers.

May lower risk of type 2 Diabetes – Observational studies have associated coffee with a decreased risk of diabetes. However, conflicting research has shown that in diabetics and those with insulin resistance coffee spikes insulin levels which worsens these conditions.

 The Bad

Elevated Cholesterol – High consumption of unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol.

Heart Disease – Some studies have found two or more cups of coffee per day may increase the risk of heart disease

Caffeine Dependence – Another downside is that people may become dependent on the energy boost from coffee, rather than the bodies natural energy.  “Withdrawal” symptoms can include headaches, irritability, and fatigue

Stress – The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines – your stress hormones.

Digestive issues – The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, and imbalances in your gut microbiome.

Decreased serotonin – Caffeine can disrupt serotonin synthesis in the brain – a hormone which controls mood, sleep, and energy levels.

Decreased both health – Studies have shown elevated excretion of calcium, magnesium, and potassium in coffee drinkers – these minerals are important for bone health.

The Verdict

Like all foods and fluids that we put in our bodies, everything is okay in moderation. It is clear that coffee has a multitude of health benefits, but, over indulging in too much coffee does have negative side effects. The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation recommends a limit of 3 coffees per day or 300-400mg of caffeine. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day as pregnancy slows the rate that caffeine is metabolized in the body and has been linked to low birth weight. Breastfeeding mothers should also be aware that caffeine may have stimulating effects on their child. Children should not consume coffee or any caffeine as it has been linked to irritability, sleeping problems, aggression, and attention issues.

If you choose to drink coffee be sure to have it as part of a healthy balanced diet.

If you are dependent on 2 or more coffees per day to feel energized, you may need to implement some healthy habits into your routine to boost natural energy levels:

  • Make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day, and instead of going straight for a coffee in the morning try having a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
  • If you are tired allow more time for sleep for a natural energy boost – if you have trouble sleeping see our blog on sleep for tips on getting to sleep naturally and the benefits of a good sleep.
  • Include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet. Vitamins and minerals all play a role in natural energy production in the body.

If you have lost motivation over these colder months, come book in for a complimentary revive appointment and we can sit down with you and set some new goals. Hope to see you in the gym soon!

Hannah x

Big Butts: How to grow your glutes

Hi ladies, Lauren here! I unfortunately did not win the genetic lottery when it came to my butt, and was blessed with a bit of a flat pancake (thanks mum and dad!). Looking through social media, big butts seem to be very on trend at the moment, and while some people may think it’s great and want to grow their glutes, others may not, and that’s perfectly okay, everyone has different goals for their bodies! But if you’re looking for some tips to grow those glutes, keep reading.

Anatomy of the glutes

The Glutes are made up of 3 muscles, the gluteus minimus, the gluteus Medius, and the gluteus Maximus. Each play a different role, so you want to ensure you are working all three, just like you would train the front and backs of your legs. The glute max is one of the largest muscles in your body, and is the most superficial (close to the surface) of your glute muscles, which means that this is the muscle that will give you some shape. The glute med is located on the sides of your butt, and your glute min lies underneath both of these muscles. The glute med and min work with the glute max, to provide stability, and assist with simple tasks like walking and running.

Why should you train your glutes?

It’s not just about getting a Kim K butt (although, I’m not convinced hers is 100% real…!) I personally would love to have bigger glutes, not only to have a bigger butt, but also because inactive glutes can lead to injuries in your hips and knees. A sign of inactive glutes can be knee pain, tightness in your quadriceps, or excessive fatigue in your quadriceps to name a few. Bear in mind that inactive glutes are not the only cause of these injuries, and you should always get these issues checked over by a doctor or a physiotherapist.

What a glute-focused leg day looks like for me/Key glute building exercises:

My glute focused leg days have the same 3 exercises always. These exercises are:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Hip thrusts

I then add in two or three more “specialized” exercises, such as:

  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Hamstring curls
  • Curtsey lunges
  • Donkey kicks
  • Crab walks

I use the first three exercises every single leg day (I do 2 a week), this is because they are compound movements, meaning they train a range of different muscles and joints, which will overall help you gain strength everywhere. This is different to a hamstring curl, which is an isolated/specialised exercise, which targets the hamstrings alone. After having done my fair bit of research, I believe having a majority of your exercises be compound exercises, and throwing in some isolation exercises at the end of a workout are the best way to overall gain strength (and lose fat!)

Resistance bands and glute activation:  

Glute activation is something I’ve only learnt about in the past year. When it comes to squats for example, you should be able to feel your glutes working, but there was a long time where I really didn’t feel them working, so I stopped doing them. Now that I’ve learned to activate my glutes, I never fail to feel them working! A lot of us are sitting constantly, whether we are at school, uni, or an office job. This means that our poor glutes get next to no use, which causes them to be inactive, so when it comes to doing your squats, your butt may not activate.

You can activate your glutes by using a resistance band (we have them hanging up by the dumbbells). You want to make sure that the resistance band is tight around your thighs, just above your knees. There are a number of exercises you can do to warm up your glutes, such as squats, clams, glute bridges, donkey kicks, and fire hydrants. If you’re lost on what sort of exercises to do, there are a lot of YouTube videos to help you get started! It should take you about 5 minutes to warm up your glutes, you don’t want to tire yourself out before you’ve even started your workout!

How long will it take to grow my glutes?

This will depend on genetics, how often you train, and what you eat. In order to gain muscle, you want to be eating in a calorie surplus. You can still gain muscle on your normal number of calories or even in a deficit, but it will take longer. While eating in a surplus, it is said to take around three months to really grow your glutes and see progress, however genetics also plays a part, for some it will take a lot less time, and for some (including me ☹) it will take a little longer. By adding some of those compound and isolated exercises to your next leg day, I’m sure you’ll start to see some results soon!

If you have any questions about glutes or want some ideas for exercises, don’t hesitate to let us know and we’ll be sure to help you out!

See you ladies soon!

Lauren 😊

The Truth About Abs

Different parts of the abdominals, how to get a flat stomach, how to strengthen your core…

We’ve all heard or tried to crunch our way to a six pack! But I’m sure you soon realized that no matter how many you did, that six pack never showed! The truth is there is more and better ways to effectively workout and define your abdominal muscles which also includes your diet. Before we begin talking about how to define the abdominals it is best to understand how the muscle group is made up.

The four main muscles within the abdominal muscle group are:

Rectus abdominus – the long strap of muscle that extends the entire length of the abdominal wall (the muscle that is associated with the “six-pack” look). This muscle is responsible for all your movements which involve flexing or extending the spine e.g sit ups.

Internal & External obliques – these are considered your side muscles with your external oblique being the most superficial (closest to skins surface). In simplified terms external oblique runs downwards from the posterior part of ribs to your abdomen and pelvis. Internal obliques lie underneath running from your pelvis/abdomen up towards the ribs (work in opposite directions). These muscles are responsible for any twisting, side flexion or rotating of the torso e.g bicycle crunches.

Transverse abdominus – is the deepest of the muscles with fibers running horizontally anteriorly across your middle. This muscle helps to compress the abdomen and stabilize the pelvis (known as the corset muscle as it provides the corset effect).

The core of your body

Abdominals play an important role in overall posture, balance & stability, good back health, and everyday tasks. The abdominals are the literal core of your body so it is important to train your abs for strength not only the idea of a flat stomach. When you have a strong core, you are less likely to put pressure on your lower back and reduce the chances of back pain as you get older. A strong core also helps to prevent injury throughout your everyday life by keeping your posture in check and giving you the support, you need to carry out things during the day.

The unfortunate thing with abs is no matter how hard you train them unless you’re eating a healthy diet and losing overall body fat your six-pack won’t show. That’s not to say that doing a lot of core exercises isn’t beneficial as you will be improving your core strength however, you will not be able to spot reduce your stomach fat to show off your strong core with thousands of crunches. The key to improving your core definition and strength is to incorporate a range of core exercises into your everyday workout routine as well as losing overall body fat. People store excess body fat in all different places whether it be their stomach, hips, thighs, back etc, which can also affect the amount of hard work you will need to put in to get a strong visible six-pack.

Before you think it’s going to be a never-ending battle between you, the gym and your diet… Here are some of my helpful hints to get you closer to that six-pack and overall stronger core!

  • Engage your core throughout the day! When you’re sitting at your desk all day try and take a moment every so often to adjust your posture and activate your core. This means sitting upright and squeezing your tummy muscles together. If you do this enough times it will begin to feel natural.
  • Focus on compound movements that involve your core throughout your whole workout. In fact, almost every exercise you should be engaging and activating your core in order to stabilize your movement. Such as during pushups – squeeze the core, front weighted squats – squeeze the core, shoulder press – squeeze the core. This is all beneficial to your posture, preventing injury and executing the exercise correctly.
  • Try adding a 5-10-minute ab routine to the beginning of every workout. Often people save their ab exercises to the end of their workout and then choose to skip them out because 1. You’ve ran out of time or 2. You can’t be bothered. Adding abs to the beginning of your workout will help fire them up to remain engaged for the rest of your workout.
  • Understand your gut! Checking your stomach out in the morning is always so much more satisfying than later in the day because our tummy’s bloat. Bloating is completely natural and you cannot stop it from happening however, you can help reduce it by understanding what works for you. Certain foods may cause you to bloat more than others. Try and figure out what makes you bloat the most and control your portion sizes to prevent that 5-month-pregnant feeling.
  • Get up and move! The more energy you expend each day the better for not only your overall health, mood, gut and energy levels but also helps aid in fat loss by burning more calories.
  • Focus on your core – when you are exercising your core, really focus on those muscles and practice proper engagement. This is the best way to really feel that burn!

Come chat to us about booking in for a complimentary personalised program and we can show you some of our favourite ab exercises. There is much better exercises than the traditional crunch or sit ups.

See you all soon,

Sam 🙂