Friday, 29 May 2015

Planking For Strength

Have you planked yet?

This is an exercise that has been gaining momentum over the last few years. It's tough, I won't lie to you, you can shake and wobble on your first, or even your twenty-first attempt, at it!

Planking is about building up your core muscles. I consider myself relatively strong in my core, as I did ballet training for 8 or 9 years when I was at school, and since then I've always held my core muscles when standing, walking or even sitting!

BUT, my first plank wasn't for very long before I shook, wobbled and had to fall to the ground! I think my wobbles started at around 30 seconds of holding! I can now hold for a minute (I only plank about once a fortnight, nowhere as often as I could do this!)

Your goal for your first plank could be 30seconds, and aim to increase this time to 2 minutes.

If you can already hold for 2 minutes, try adding difficulty to the plank movement. I'll explain.

In order to do a plank, lie in the position you would assume to do a push-up, now, instead of pushing up, lie on your forearms, so effectively, you are resting your body weight on your toes and your forearms, now hold this position. For as long as you can!

If you can't manage this, start with blended knees, just as you would with push-ups.

If you find this easy, holding for 2 minutes, then try a couple of these to make it harder!

  1. Lift one leg off the ground and hold
  2. Place your forearms onto a ball, stabilising will create the extra work
Good luck

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Cycling Backwards Through Life

A recent study published by the American Council of Exercise, shows that your heart rate is faster and your calorie expenditure is greater by cycling backwards (on a stationery bike that is!)

How fascinating!

Why not give it a try to mix up your cardio this week. Tell me what you think of it!

Friday, 15 May 2015

How Much Water Is Enough?

How Much Water Do You Need?

  • 8 8-ounce glasses a day? The 8x8 rule
  • half your body weight in ounces?
  • 2 litres?
  • 3 litres?
  • depends on how much coffee/tea/alcohol you consume?

The last answer, depends, about sums it up!

How hydrated we remain really does depend on a variety of factors including, but not limited to:

  • climate
  • age
  • breastfeeding
  • physical activity
  • diet
  • vomiting/diarrohea
  • your health

What all the health authorites appear to agree on is that we need hydration in our daily intake.  Water is critical to our overall health, after all, our body is anywhere from 50 - 75% water, on average around 60% water.

This water is used in a variety of ways in the body, including:

  • maintain the health and integrity of every cell in the body
  • keep the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels
  • help eliminate the byproducts of the body’s metabolism, excess electrolytes (for example, sodium and potassium), and urea, which is a waste product formed through the processing of dietary protein
  • regulate body temperature through sweating
  • moisten mucous membranes such as those of the lungs and mouth
  • lubricate and cushion joints
  • reduce the risk of cystitis by keeping the bladder clear of bacteria
  • aid digestion and prevent constipation
  • moisturise the skin to maintain its texture and appearance
  • carry nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • serve as a shock absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord and in the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus in pregnancy.

So, now, do you need to get all your water intake from plain, cool, often considered to be boring, WATER?



Options available to you for obtaining your optimal intake of water include water (of course), all your drinks (including coffee, teas and protein shakes), your food (especially water rich fruit and vegetables), and, surprisingly, your digestive system water production (yes, digesting food can provide water!).

There is recent research that states that your body can still source the water it needs, regardless of the fluid it comes in - so, if you drink coffee or soda drinks, your body will still utilise the water in these fluids.  An interesting fact!

Now, in saying that, the consumption of soda drinks, that are high in sugar, will not help you lose weight. They contain what we call empty calories, and, as such, won't create the full feeling that lasts, as would drinking water (or black coffee, no sugar), followed by a healthy balanced snack.

Often too, the hungry feeling is simply because you are dehydrated - so, before you reach for the snack, have a drink of water, a coffee or a tea first, then, if you are still hungry 1/2 hour later, you can assure yourself that you are indeed hungry, and a balanced snack can be the ticket!

How do you know you're dehydrated?
  • thirst
  • headaches
  • lethargy
  • mood changes and slow responses
  • dry nasal passages
  • dry or cracked lips
  • dark-coloured urine
  • weakness
  • tiredness
  • confusion and hallucinations.

Another interesting fact is that keeping hydrated also plays a role in keeping the body warm, so a properly hydrated body will burn more calories.

How To Keep Hydrated

Step 1:  don't allow yourself to become thirsty, sip small amounts regularly
Step 2: drink water (I prefer water with a squeeze of lemon in it, but try ice cubes made from fruit juice) and other healthy fluids (like coffee, teas, protein shakes, soups)
Step 3: eat plenty of water dense fruit and vegetables (cucumber, bell peppers and watermelon)

Find out your optimal amount of fluid to intake (for the average adult, this will be 2 - 3 litres of fluid a day), ensuring you have more if you are an athlete, are sweating a lot, in a hot climate, are breastfeeding or are pregnant.

For a bit of fun, and it's by no means evaluated, try this calculator for how much fluid you might need when exercising,

Friday, 8 May 2015

To Weigh, Or Not To Weigh - That Is The Question

How Often Do You Weigh Yourself?

It seems to be an important question, especially when you are striving to lose weight. Do I weigh myself daily, or weekly, or even less frequently?
How often do you weigh yourself, and why do you do it at that frequency? 

To me, this is the more important question, that of why do you weigh at that frequency.

When I've been losing weight in the past (part of my old yoyo dieting habits) I would weigh myself once a week, as I didn't want to be disappointed after a weekend of being not so strict. I made sure that the weigh in day was Wednesday, that way, I'd allowed myself two days post weekend to 'recover' my weight gain over the weekend!  A very calculated approach, and well thought out too I believed!

However, over the last two years, my pattern has changed (I've lost weight and for over a year now, it has been maintained), I now regularly weigh myself on a daily basis.  

I feel more able to monitor my weight before it becomes an issue for me, and to understand when I need to implement some measures to ensure I stay on track with my nutritional program, e.g., it's time to shower my insides again, reduce my glasses of wine, increase my workouts etc. It also allows me to reflect on what I've been following in my lifestyle for the last week, and I can pinpoint the unhealthy choices so much easier, and rectify them easily too.

Now, some of the argument against weighing yourself daily stems from the concept that those with an eating disorder are forever on the scales weighing, measuring, and then allowing food intake, or the amount of exercise to be undertaken, be governed by what the scales say.  I am not like that!

Interestingly, there now appears to be scientific support of regular weighing, along with regular weight loss education, when you are looking to lose weight.  

The study, published this year, showed that those that weighed themselves daily, along with being provided regular education about weight loss, implemented more weight control behaviours than those that weighed themselves less regularly.


What Do You Do?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Snacking And Dieting - Compatible?

Can I Snack When I'm Dieting?

This question is a frequently asked question.  My simple answer is, don't diet!  

Why do I say that? Because I'm a strong believer in making changes to your lifestyle, not in restriction as a way of life!

Did you know that healthy snacking can support your weight loss?

Let's be honest, when you first begin your new lifestyle, which can include lesser portions and a, seemingly, smaller variety of food, you often get hit by hunger pangs.

These hunger pangs shouldn't be ignored - ignoring them is putting yourself into the region of restriction, 'not allowed' and a sense of compromise.  When you are looking to change your lifestyle, choosing nutrient dense snacks that will support the increase of your metabolism is a better option.

What is a nutrient dense snack?
 It is a snack that is:
  • high in fibre 
  • high in protein
  • contains vitamins and minerals.
What isn't a nutrient dense snack?
It is a snack that is:

  • high in salt
  • high in fat
  • high in sugar.
These all give you a temporary feeling of fullness, but it doesn't last long, and can result in a drop in your sugar levels, where you, again, feel the need to snack an hour or so later!

If you don't choose a nutrient dense snack, the 'starving' feeling will eventually lead you to 'pig out' or overeat on all sorts of unhealthy snacks, anything that comes to hand, and, if you're in a shop, away from home, that will usually become empty calories, nutrient deficient snacks that will quickly become fat.

For me, I choose the following nutrient dense snacks, the reason being,
  1. they take away my cravings for sugar, 
  2. they take away my sense of 'not having enough yet', and 
  3. they take away my hunger pangs!

I love Fibre Snacks (full of protein and fibre), Slimcakes (high in fibre) and IsaDelights (Dark chocolate infused with Green tea).  All of these allow me to feel able to reach for a snack when I'm hungry, without compromising my ideal to eat a healthy diet!  There is ALWAYS one in my handbag, so I never feel the need to reach towards the supermarket shelves when I'm out and about.

Other ways you can find high fibre/protein snacks are to eat some raw veges, fruit and nuts such as:

  • raw carrot sticks
  • raw celery sticks
  • raw vege sticks with 1/4 cup of hummous
  • an apple
  • Greek yoghurt and fresh berries
  • hard boiled egg
  • 6 raw almonds
Enjoy  your healthy snacks, knowing you're maintaining your choice to live a healthy lifestyle.  Enjoy these wonderful treats in the recipe below also - total YUM!! And healthy!!

Isogenix Isagenix cleanse

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Adapting To Stress

Adapting Yourself To Stress

How Do You Know You're Stressed?

  1. Weight gain
  2. Dramatic weight loss
  3. Hair loss
  4. Regular headaches
  5. Regular illnesses (immune system suppressed)
  6. Digestive issues

We all experience stress at one time or another, but ongoing, chronic stress can be damaging to our health and way of life.  This has been shown in studies to result in the above symptoms.  If you are at all like I used to be, the weight gain was the most common symptom. It resulted from comfort eating, lack of exercise, increasingly 'needing' a glass of wine to unwind at night, poor food choices and a lack of time to relax. 

So, what can you do about stress, especially the type of stress that you cannot avoid, e.g., commuting, your work environment, children, partners, parents, and the list continues................ 

There are a group of natural herbs that are listed as adaptogens. These herbs are classified by the European Medicnes Agency as:

..substances.. stated to have the capacity to normalise body functions and strengthen
systems compromised by stress. They are reported to have a protective effect
on health against a wide variety of environmental assaults and emotional conditions.

In today's world, we all experience stress in some form or another, we have our unique stressors! How we manage those stressors so that the beneficial effects of short term stress don't remain in our body and create chronic stress is through the use of adaptogenic herbs. 

These I use daily and they are easy to drink, take no time to prepare and the benefits of using them regularly show up for me as better sleep, sustaining my weight loss, calmly approaching stressful situations, and an overall more relaxed outlook on life!  Contact me for more information if you're interested  in adapting better to your daily environment!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Managing Self Doubt

Experiencing Self-Doubt?

A recent blog I read discussed self-doubt, and how to manage it.  Do you experience self-doubt?  How do you experience it?

I experience it mainly as a voice in my head, saying things such as

  • 'you're not good enough'
  • 'what makes you think you can do this?'
  • 'you're short and stocky build'
  • 'you'll never be a super-model'

Now, some of these voices are mine, and some of them are from grown-ups from when I was little.  It doesn't really matter whether you hear or feel the self-doubt, but being aware of it is a start.

When self-doubt approaches you, do you listen to the words, the feelings? Or do you do something about it?

From the blog I read, here are 5 easy steps to manage your self-doubt - some of which you may already do.

  1. Breathe
    Take some deep breaths when the self-doubt hits you. This not only relaxes you, but also begins your journey of self-awareness of the self-doubt
  2. Identify The Self-Doubt
    Listen to how you are experiencing the self-doubt. If you're like me, it's voices in your head, either your own, or your parents, school teacher............. or it may be that you feel the self-doubt, experiencing fear, doubt, anxiety........................  Once you've identified how you experience  your self-doubt, then you can start to address it. What started it, why are these thoughts/feelings coming up?
  3. Accept It
    Don't battle the self-doubt. Accept it for what it is, take the time to understand where it is originating from, and thus accept it. Don't dwell on it, just be aware of why you are feeling the way you are about the event (it may be a change of eating habits, a change of exercise, or achieving something at work..........).
  4. Talk About It
    Voice what the self-doubt is, and what it is about. This can be either to a trusted someone who is a great listener (and not a 'fixer'), or to a recorder.  Don't pull the self-doubt apart and make it a bigger issue than it is. Simply state what it is, what it's about and then put it to bed.
  5. Be Empowered
    Go and do something that allows you to feel strong and empowered in what you do.  This can be anything that you know you do well, and that gives you a sense of strength!