Christmas is just around the corner, and as we know this means the opportunity to gorge on delicious foods! This is the time of year to spend with family and friends and it is completely okay to treat yourselves. However, we may end up feeling a little sluggish and unmotivated after a multitude of family lunches and dinners. Overeating may knock our confidence and leave us feeling frustrated but this doesn’t have to be the case. I am going to share a few tips and tricks to help you bounce back to a healthy routine.
1. Stay hydrated – It is important to keep drinking water on a hot summer’s day. Often if we are dehydrated our body mistakes this for hunger. In a study of 24 overweight adults it was found that when 500ml of water was drank before eating, the energy they consumed was significantly lower than those who had no water before eating a meal.
2. Load up on the veges and meat – Sweet and sugary snacks won’t fill you up for long so make sure you have a good meal that includes veges and meat, then enjoy your treats. Including lots of veges in your meals will give you the range of nutrients your body needs to feel great. Vegetables are also high in fiber which promotes feelings of fullness. A good source of protein will also help satiation.
3. Enjoy Your Food – Tip number one is to not worry about overeating. Christmas is a time of joy and family and it is completely fine to have some yummy treats. Worrying about what you can eat or can’t eat can lead to a toxic relationship with food.
4. Don’t skip meals – It may be tempting to skip breakfast or lunch the day after, but this will only make us hungrier and put our metabolism out of whack. It is best to start with a filling but healthy breakfast. Including a source of healthy fats such as avocado or eggs will keep you fuller for longer throughout the day. Of course, listen to your body and go about your normal day – if you’re hungry eat, if you’re not hungry then don’t.
– Wholegrain toast, nut butter, and chia seeds
– Omelette loaded with veges
– Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
5. Go for a Walk – Walking is a great way to stay active and get things moving after a big meal. You may not feel like getting straight back into an intense workout so a light walk can do the trick to keep your body moving.
Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy your time with friends and family and see you all in the New Year.
“Fitness HQ for women is a boutique Women’s only 24/7 gym, in the heart of Albany. Services include a full service gym, small group fitness classes, personal training and infrared sauna.”
A question we get asked a lot, is about the different types of protein powder there is. Which is best for me? Whey or vegan protein? It’s a very good question as most people assume that vegan protein must be the best and healthier option. That is not necessarily the case and what works for me, won’t necessarily work for you.
What is whey and vegan protein?
Whey is one of two proteins that is obtained from the production of milk and therefore is an animal-based protein.
Vegan protein is a plant-based product which can be from a variety sources. Most common ones we see are pea, rice, hemp or sunflower. Each different plant protein is unique and can offer your body different nutrients which can help with many things.
What are the main differences?
Firstly, Whey protein is what we consider a ‘complete’ protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. There are actually 22 amino acids which are found within the body and 9 are considered essential which must be obtained through your diet. These essential amino acids will repair and recover your body optimally. Whey protein is also higher in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which stimulate muscle growth and maintenance. By having all amino acids, whey also boosts the immune system by stimulating immune function. Another good point to make is that MOST people prefer the taste of whey protein compared to vegan/vegetarian protein powders. This can be a big factor in choosing and enjoying a protein.
Whey protein is also easily digested. However, as whey comes from animals and the production of milk, some people may be intolerant, as it contains lactose. Did you know about a third of the population is intolerant to lactose? As you get older your body can find it harder to digest lactose and can cause gas and abdominal discomfort. For people that have sensitive stomachs, plant-based protein may be the better option.
Not all Vegan or Vegetarian protein powders are a complete protein. For example, pumpkin protein does not contain all the essential amino acids. When looking for a plant-based protein it is good to find a protein that has a mix of different plant types to achieve getting all 9 amino acids. Quite commonly, plant-based proteins only contain one type of plant.
However, a big positive to plant-based protein is that it contains more nutrients than whey and can offer more than just B vitamins and calcium (which whey has). They can contain an abundance of other vitamins and minerals depending on which plant protein it has come from. These can aide the body in many different ways. If you are looking for a bit more than just a protein powder, plant-based options could work well for you.
Which protein is best for me?
There is no right answer. There are many pros and cons of each one, the choice is up to you. If you are looking for an easily digested, good tasting, complete protein, then whey is your best option. However, if you have a sensitive stomach and are looking for a bit more than just protein, than plant-based protein may be a better option for you. At the end of the day, it is trial and error. If one does not agree with your body, try a different one, it all comes down to personal preference and individual tolerance.
Remember: that your daily intake of protein is from 0.8 – 2g X your body weight in KG. Idealy, 1 – 1.5g X your body weight is what I would recommend.
We stock Horleys Sculpt at the gym, which is a womens specific protein powder. It is whey protein which they have added extra nutrients and fat burning properties too (winning!). One scoop of sculpt is 18g protein. Great taste and a great price.
“Fitness HQ for women is a boutique Women’s only 24/7 gym, in the heart of Albany. Services include a full service gym, small group fitness classes, personal training, and infrared sauna.”
Common questions that we get asked are often about what particular diet you should be following.
They are usually questions like, what do you think of this diet? Does [insert famous person here] weight loss plan work? Should I cut carbs from my diet? Or what diet should I be on?
At the end of the day, you can lose on pretty much any diet, as they have one common goal. To reduce calories. By reducing calories you go into a calorie deficit and use fat stores for energy.
I strongly believe the best diet is one that works for YOU, by being sustainable. You need to be able to stick to it. There is no point forcing yourself to stick to a Paleo diet if you love carbs and no reason you should jump on the keto wave if you can’t tolerate that much fat in your diet.
In saying that your old diet of coffee and toast is not going to be ideal for your body to function and perform optimally. Try to think about food as a fuel source that can energise and heal the body.
Key things to remember:
Love your fruit & veg! (5+ a day).
Try to eat 1g – 1.5g x your body weight in protein daily.
Low GI “good carbs” will keep you more full.
Everything in moderation.
A balance meal is Carbs, protein, fats (include fruit and vegetables as good carbs).
Don’t drink your calories! (Fizzy drink, juices and energy drinks are big causes of weight gain).
If you are missing something from your diet, then you should look at supplementing.
” Fitness HQ for Women is the North Shores boutique 24/7 womens gym. At Fitness HQ we pride ourselves on having an inclusive gym where women can feel comfortable and non-intimidated”
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Located in Albany on the North Shore, Fitness HQ is the gym for Women. We run over 20+ group fitness classes as well as providing a safe comfortable space for ladies to work out in our main 24/7 gym”
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
A common question we get at the gym is if protein powder is recommended, and then the follow on question tends to be… “Will it make me 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 body weight, 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 ice cream!)
Why protein is important in our diet?
Protein IS NOT just about building muscle and is only needed by bodybuilders. Protein is one of the three macronutrients (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 it 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 body weight, 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” that we refer to. Therefore it is impossible to get that bulky without extra help from anabolic steriods.
When should you use protein powder?
Whenever you want! Protein shake for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea, or for dessert! That’s the great thing about protein powder, it’s 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 really convenient! If you think you need to up your protein intake and want convenience, definitely give protein powder a try! Some health food stores sell single sachets of a variety of protein powders.
“Fitness HQ for women is North Shores 24/7 Boutique gym just for Women”
We have all heard the trainers harp on about stretching after exercise and we often think it’s not necessary or you don’t have time. We all know if we are one of the guilty ones who just do a quick 5-second stretch or nothing at all and run 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.
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 joint through its full range of motion and get the blood flowing to the right areas. An example is a lunge, swinging one of your legs back and forth or ankle, or shoulder circles This warms up your muscles safely. If you try a static stretch, such as holding a quad stretch, 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 recommends that each big muscle group should be stretched at least twice a week. The American College of Sports Medicine also recommends 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.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommend holding every stretch for around 60 seconds for maximum benefits, however, they claim holding a 15-30 stretch is very beneficial as well. Minimum 15 seconds each side.
Don’t bounce in your stretch. 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.
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 destress the central nervous system. 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. You may think that is only important to athletes or people who play sport. However, stretching is very beneficial for everyone. By being more flexible, you can increase the range of motion in your exercises which in turn recruits more muscle fibers which can make you fitter, faster, and stronger. It also improves your posture and decreases the likelihood of getting injured and bad aches and pains.
Come join in one of our weekly Yoga classes or look at our stretch board in the main gym for some inspiration after a workout. All of our other classes include this critical aspect as part of the cool down, so try not to duck out of class early and miss it!
“Fitness HQ for women is North Shores 24/7 Boutique gym just for Women”
Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to stick to healthy eating. We all know nutrition plays a big part in weight loss and health and snacking can easily become unhealthy. So let’s get inspired and take look at some of my favourite snacks that are healthy, easy to make, and satisfying.
Muesli bars and nut bars are convenient on-the-go snack. However, many brands pack them full of sugar, so much so that eating one bar would be the same as eating a slice of cake! The nice and natural range of protein nut bars has one of the lowest sugar contents on the market. The salted caramel flavour as pictured has the lowest sugar in the range at <2g per 100g.
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:
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 sweeteners e.g. stevia or agave or small portion of honey or golden syrup
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 sweeteners e.g. stevia or agave
Cacao power or protein chocolate powder
Optional: Cacao nibs (healthy chocolate chips)
Sweet potato fries:
Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber 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:
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.
If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare then these are a perfect sweet, yet low sugar treat!
One medium banana
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.
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.
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.
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 body’s 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, heartburn, and imbalances in your gut microbiome.
Decreased serotonin – Caffeine can disrupt serotonin synthesis in the brain – a hormone that 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.
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, overindulging 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 night’s 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.