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The Truth About Weight Loss

There’s more to weight loss than losing weight

The start of every health kick can be a glorious time, with your motivation at its highest and the fitness gains at their easiest to come by. Your muscles might be aching, and your diet could be missing a few unhealthy favourites, but the weight will be dropping off like nobody’s business.

At some point, however, you might find that whatever efforts you make in the gym or the kitchen do not result in any further losses when you step on the scales. Your weight plateaus, or perhaps even nudges slightly upwards. Obviously, this can be the ultimate motivation killer if your main goal is weight loss, but a simple scales reading can be misleading when it comes to your general health.

More important than how much you weigh is your body composition – namely how much of your body is made up of fat, muscle, bones, water, assorted organs, and so on. Some of these you can’t do much about – it doesn’t matter how much you try, you’re unlikely to shave any weight off your liver without resorting to some extremely risky behaviour. It’s still good to know what’s going on with all your insides, but the key two areas of body composition you can affect are your body fat and muscle mass.

Reducing body fat is often the main goal of people’s plans when they embark on a new exercise regime and/or diet, and any early weight loss is a result of achieving that goal. However, when weight loss plateaus it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve stopped lowering your body fat percentage. It could simply mean that you’re increasing your muscle mass at the same time. No net weight loss, but a far healthier body composition.

An extreme example often used to illustrate the deficiencies of simply relying on weight as a guide to health is comparing the Body Mass Index (which is based on height and weight, with no accounting for body composition) of a professional rugby player with an obese person. Both might end up with a matching BMI score, but the muscle-bound rugby hulk is clearly in better shape in terms of their overall health.

Even if you never reach the rippling physique of a Jonah Lomu in his prime, you might also suffer from misapprehensions about your health and the effectiveness of your gym work if you only use overall weight as a guide to your progress.

The issue is that muscle is not heavier than fat, but it is denser. This means it takes up less space to weigh the same amount as fat, so your body shape might be changing for the better even if your total weight is the same after weeks of working out.

Body composition is also important when it comes to the type of fat you have. Visceral fat, which accumulates around your organs in the mid-section, is the most dangerous kind, in that a large quantity of it is linked with an increased risk of all kinds of problems including heart disease, several cancers and type 2 diabetes. A relatively slim physique with a pot belly is therefore nothing to boast about, you need to shift that midsection bulk rather than just focussing on your overall weight.

The good news is that visceral fat is the first stuff you’ll shift when you start exercising. Even if you can’t see the fat itself, you can monitor your progress by measuring your waistline regularly. Keeping tabs on your waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) is good practice all round if you’re on a fitness drive, as it has been found to be a better indicator of obesity-related health risks than simple weight or BMI measurements. To see if your ratio is unhealthily high simply grab a piece of string, use it to measure your height then fold it in half. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, then your ratio is in bad shape, and it’s time to start slimming.

There are also plenty of more precise ways to get a handle on your body composition, from the humble pair of callipers to smart scales. With callipers you pinch the skin and measure the fold in at least three locations on your body. Then plug those numbers into an online calculator to get an idea of your body fat. The number itself might not be incredibly accurate, but consistently measuring in the same way with callipers over time will allow you to track changes in your body composition.

For their part, smart scales such as the Withings Body Cardio will provide the most in-depth and accurate look at your insides you can get outside of a hospital, telling you your body fat, muscle mass, water percentage and bone mass, along with your actual weight. In terms of practical information about how your efforts to improve your fitness are going, it’s a huge step up from standard scales.

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The Truth About Weight Loss

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How to exercise smart and prevent injury

When you hit the gym, the field or the track, the last thing you want to take home is an injury. But the more time you spend exercising, the higher the risk. Here are several tips to help manage, treat and prevent injuries so you can keep doing what you love, for longer.

Research has shown that women are especially susceptible to debilitating ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which helps to stabilise the knee joint. A combination of anatomical, biomechanical and other factors is at play. When comparing a woman’s physiology to a male, women have smaller, weaker muscles supporting the knee, a wider pelvis, and thigh bones which angle inward more sharply from hip to knee. Women also have a greater imbalance between the quadricep and hamstring muscles, which can contribute to knee injuries. And there are biomechanical differences between the way men and women land on their feet, as in running or jumping. Researchers have also suggested that the female hormone oestrogen makes women more vulnerable to ACL injury by weakening this ligament.

The importance of warming up

A proper warm-up will heat and loosen the body. Different forms of sport and exercise require different warm-ups, but as a general rule, a dynamic warm-up will get all the joints moving one at a time, then all together, taking the body through progressive movements that loosen and stretch your muscles. Classic dynamic warm-up moves include walking lunges, toe touches, and high knees.

Your outfit counts

For some sports, protective equipment is important to prevent damage. This is particularly relevant for sports involving physical contact, think football and hockey (shin guards) and boxing (boxing gloves and protective head gear).

It’s also important to wear the correct footwear. The right shoes will support the foot and ankle, helping to prevent twisting and injury. In addition, many athletes wear supports, such as knee, ankle, or elbow supports, to offer additional support and protection to joints which may have been weakened by an earlier injury. Supports help stabilise the joint and prevent further damage.

Keep moving post-workout

More exercise is probably the last thing on your list after a big session, but according to a study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, performing light exercise post-workout may help ease your soreness, and can be just as beneficial as having a massage.

Another useful tip is to use heat to increase blood flow, which will ease your sore muscles. Soak in a hot bath, or if the pain is isolated, apply heat directly to your trouble spot. Many peel-and-stick heating pads stay in place for hours and are thin enough to wear under clothing.

Finally, taking an Omega-3 pill once a day reduces soreness and eases inflammation 48 hours after a strength-training workout, according to research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Omega-3s — which are also found naturally in foods such as salmon, spinach, and nuts — may help boost circulation to sore muscles while also reducing inflammation.

Rehab your injury

If your injury is severe (i.e. you can’t put weight on the area, or have swelling, numbness or severe pain) you should see a doctor. If you can treat the injury yourself, the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is tried and tested and very often effective.

Rest. Reduce your regular activities. If you’ve injured your foot, ankle, or knee, take weight off of it.

Ice. Place an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes, four-to-eight times a day. You can use a cold pack or ice bag. Take the ice off after 20 minutes to avoid cold injury.

Compression. Put even pressure (compression) on the injured area to help reduce swelling. You can use an elastic wrap, special boot, air cast, or splint. Ask your doctor which one is best for your injury.

Elevation. Place the injured area on a pillow, at a level above your heart, to help reduce swelling.

 

Be prepared with a first aid kit

The type of first aid that may be required varies for every sport. Because bruises, abrasions, and sprained ankles are more common in some field sports, their first aid kit, for instance, needs to be stocked with cold packs, elastic bandages, and Band-Aids. A track team’s kit, on the other hand, needs to have plenty of supplies to treat blisters, abrasions, pulled muscles, and sprains. Sunscreen and allergy kits may also be appropriate for outdoor sports.

If you are regularly involved in sport, it’s worth having some knowledge of first aid, especially if you are playing sports in areas where there is no immediate access to trained medical people. At Real First Aid, you can sign up for first aid courses, or they can visit your workplace or sports club to work with larger groups. Think of it as an essential investment into your health and wellness, and that of everyone around you.

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The key to targeting stubborn fat

The term ‘stubborn’ almost creates an unnecessary mental predisposition when it comes to fat loss. Clients are often too quick to assume they have ‘stubborn fat’, when most people simply have more fat to lose before they can start burning fat in those notorious areas, such as the belly and hips.

The average fat loss dieter should not be thinking they can strategically target specific areas of fat. When losing weight, your body wants to save calories, so areas such as the arms, neck, fingers, face and feet tend to lean out quicker than the belly, butt and thighs, as having fat in these areas will burn more calories. The body is always adapting to be more efficient.

Clients that have already been training and/or dieting for fat loss from anywhere between eight to 16 weeks and are close to their desired body fat percentage can consider some of their fat as ‘stubborn’. In this case, a little more strategy can be employed.

I find that, for women, the upper body often needs to be almost completely depleted of fat stores before the lower body really becomes active. We store excess energy as fat based on two types of cell receptors: alpha receptors and beta receptors. Alpha promotes fat storage, while beta metabolises fat and makes it available to ‘burn’ as energy. Generally, women have much higher densities of alpha sites in the legs, butt and thighs.

If you want to burn fat from stubborn areas, decreasing alphas and increasing betas is the goal. This could perhaps be related back to our external and internal hormonal environment – basically our oestrogen to progesterone ratios. There is a lot of current research on this matter, and protocols that can help with this hormonal balance include: cutting down on non-organic food and coffee, increasing consumption of cruciferous vegies, drinking lemon water, reducing use of plastics and dry brushing. A useful website is ewg.org and their app Skin Deep, which indicates the toxicity level, effect on the body and potential for harmful additives found in your primary cosmetic and cleaning products.

Another specialised practice that can shed some light on potential imbalances and obstacles to fat loss is Applied Muscle Testing (AMT). Muscle testing works in the same arena as kinesiology, by testing your body for feedback to identify deficiencies in nutrients, problematic foods, potential beneficial supplements and even helping provide information on specific training protocols that may suit you personally.

Three easy things you can do today to expedite stubborn fat loss:

1. Exercise two to three hours after your last meal or on an empty stomach. This may reduce alpha receptor activity. It also causes us to increase catecholamine hormone production (adrenaline/noradrenaline), which may increase beta receptor activity.

2. Train intensely: use compound multi-muscle, multi-joint movements. For lower body, try lunges, squats and deadlifts. Include some type of interval training into your cardio workouts and then cool down with a 30 minute walk: this can assist in dipping further into fat for fuel now it has been released into the blood stream during training.

3. Stay positive: what your mind believes, your body achieves. If you tell yourself you can’t get rid of that last little bit of fat over and over, you’ll convince your subconscious mind that it’s true and it will obey you. Keep an open mind, visualise the results you want and don’t settle for ‘almost there’.   

 

 

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The key to targeting stubborn fat

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2 Stories Of Survival: How Fitness Saved Morgan Wehmer And Elizabeth Aguilera

Vital Stats

When it comes to diseases, lots of syllables often make for a scary diagnosis.

Take melanoma, for instance. Elizabeth Aguilera has it and, according to her doctors, always will. Every two months she meets with a specialist to look for spots on her skin, have them tested, and determine whether to have another surgery. At the tender age of 24, she’s had four already, to remove seven cancerous patches of skin from her stomach 2, leg 3, and hip 2.

“I check myself all the time,” says Elizabeth, a spokesmodel for Oh Yeah! Nutrition. “As long as I keep consistent, and go every two months for the rest of my life, I will be fine. If it advances to a stage 3, or 4, it will get into my lymph nodes and organs. I just have to monitor it.”

Take anorexia–not a disease, but a disorder. Morgan Wehmer, Elizabeth’s sister, has wrestled that dietary demon and lived to tell. She was bullied in high school and took extreme dietary measures because she felt like it was the only thing she could control.

The sisters deal with their dilemmas, with their syllables. They lift each other in hard times. That is what families do.

THE BIG SISTER

Treatment and surgery are intense, and a body needs rest. Elizabeth strives to put in max effort in the weight room, but with regular treatment and surgery, she’s not always able to. She has to be careful, patient, and confident. Each day presents a challenge.

Elizabeth’s efforts inspire her younger sister, Morgan, “On her most horrible days, she’d post the most inspirational things,” says Morgan. “The things that upset her the most, she’d turn into positives for other people. And it was therapeutic for her. It gives me strength should I ever want to complain, give up, or slack off. She’s my other half. How can I slack if Liz would go 110 percent?”

“The sisters deal with their dilemmas, with their syllables. They lift each other in hard times. That is what families do.”

Even before her diagnosis was delivered, Elizabeth was fit, but with her life in the balance, she has taken it to a new level. She took the stage in 2013–in part to mark a check on her bucket list–and finished fourth. But her doctors asked her to take a break in 2014. Her goal to turn pro remains unfulfilled.

That bucket list was lengthy but the sisters have shortened it in the past six months. They worked as models and did photo shoots. Liz has asked photographers not to “edit out” her scars. She wants people to see them. They are markers of his past, and she wants people to know that cancer survivors can still be models.

THE LITTLE SISTER

Morgan Wehmer was suffering from anorexia. She is a tall girl, with long arms and legs, so when she dwindled her body weight down to 113 pounds, she simply looked ill.

In high school, she seemed like a regular kid. She was heavily involved in extracurricular activities, had a boyfriend, and was an athlete. She loved organized dance and sang in the choir. She played softball and ran track. She got good grades and never got into trouble. She was a good kid.

But, high school brought unforeseen torment for Morgan. She was bullied by older, taller, more athletic girls, who called her names. They’d walk behind her and shout “slut” to terrorize young Morgan. That was her first significant freshman experience. “That’s not what you want to happen in that foreign land,” Morgan says. “Girls … there’s never a reason. Girls can just be so, so mean. [Elizabeth] would get into fights with them and protect me.”

The bullying continued for years. Morgan tried to bury the jabs and insults, but their effects manifested in other ways. She and Elizabeth, tight as toddlers, grew apart as they fought through adolescence. When Morgan needed protecting, Liz had her back in the school hallways. When she wasn’t around, the taunts intensified.

When the pressures of dating, studies, incessant bullying, and self-image worries left Morgan reeling, she took control of the one thing she could: food. She started to cut back calories, skipped meals, and found excuses to avoid the dinner table.

“Stop fighting yourself and start fighting for yourself.”

“There was faulty thinking before, and after,” Morgan says. “I feel like I am talking about a different person now. Food was the only thing I could control, but I over controlled it.”

Elizabeth was one of the first people to notice the changes in Morgan. She fought off the mean girls, but anorexia was a more elusive and subtle foe. “Everyone was worried about her,” Liz says. “She was in denial about it.”

THE LIFTER SISTERS

Morgan stewed in her own torment, her thoughts growing more and more negative. Her family broached the subject to little avail. It strained the family, and Morgan saw it. She says something changed in her psyche.

“All of my thoughts about food and what I needed to eat to keep me going…all of that was faulty,” Morgan says. “When I realized I was looking at things in horrible ways, there was this light switch. I can never go back to that.”

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a person’s intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. People who suffer from the disorder may practice unhealthy behaviors such as extreme calorie restriction, only eating specific foods, or skipping meals frequently. Treatment includes counseling, nutritional rehab and training, and various support therapies.

She began to research nutrition and very slowly gained her weight back. It took two years, and it’s still an ongoing struggle. She wants more muscle. Morgan’s research produced some unplanned results. She fell in love with the study of nutrition and decided to pursue dietetics as a profession, before switching to another health-conscious field, nursing.

“I wanted to do it the right way, the healthy way,” Morgan says. “I ate a lot of healthy foods, basically double what I am eating now. I was doubling up on carbs and healthy fats, along with working out. I used machines, free weights, and bodyweight exercises. I wanted to build muscle, and it took time.”

While Morgan was flipping the script on her education, Elizabeth learned she had melanoma. Thus began an endless series of exams, scans, surgeries, biopsies, and doctor visits. She took monthly flights to Jacksonville for treatment, then flew back to school for coursework, determined to graduate.

“Looking at Morgan now, it’s hard to tell that she was anorexic.”

“I can’t even fathom how I’d feel about having a constant unknown diagnosis,” Morgan says of her sister’s plight. “As these spots appear, she has to get them cultured and then wait weeks for results.”

To make matters worse, Elizabeth’s husband was deployed overseas as a member of the U.S. Navy. She graduated college during his absence and underwent treatment while he was stationed in Japan. Their separation further alienated the struggling older sister, but she had Morgan to lean on. It’s not that their roles reversed. Morgan didn’t become a “big sister.” They simply grew closer, and each time one faltered, the other offered support.

“Everything is about your attitude and fighting for what you want in life,” Elizabeth says. “I wanted to start my life, and [melanoma] put me on hold. It gave me time to start doing more things. I sat down, wrote down things I wanted to do.”

THE THINGS WE HIDE

Looking at Morgan now, it’s hard to tell that she was anorexic. If you don’t notice Elizabeth’s scars and ask her about it, you might not know that she has recurring skin cancer. Just imagine what all the other lifters are going through. How many battle confidence or body-image issues? Who is sick? Who is mentally ill? You can hide a lot of pain under your gym clothes.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer. Cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations. Skin cells multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Causes include ultraviolet radiation from sunshine and tanning beds. Melanoma kills an estimated 9,000 people per year in the United States alone.

Morgan suffered from the mental anguish of anorexia for two years before she started to pull out of it. Even then it took two more years before she felt “over” it. It’s hard to talk about. Subjects like this aren’t exactly locker-room chatter. “It’s sensitive subject matter to talk about, but it’s happening a lot more than people think,” Morgan says. “It’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Magazines and infomercials boast about fat-loss techniques, playing on image fears. Fitness and nutrition make headlines, but profound subjects like disease, disorder, and death get overlooked by our mainstream social conscience. “A lot of people talk about weight loss, which is great, but at the same time there are problems that people don’t talk about every day,” Elizabeth says. “People are still battling disease every day, but it’s good to see that there are people getting through these things.”

NEVER ALONE

The distance between a healthy lifestyle and a debilitating one is not as great as you might think. A doctor’s diagnosis or a bully’s attack can change everything.

The support of a sister, a brother, a friend, or even a stranger can help reverse a slide. “[Morgan] came out of it, graduated high school with honors, and she had a greater sense of health and well being,” Elizabeth says. “It changed her life and her career. Everything she went through happened for a reason. It made her who she is today.”

To work on the items on their bucket list, the lifter sisters created a website, a Facebook page, and spread their message via social media. They use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, BodySpace, and their website to reach people all over the globe, and not just to people with cancer or eating disorders. They’re out to help anyone who asks.

REFERENCES

  1. www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma
  2. www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2013/index
  3. www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/
  4. seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/melan.html

 

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2 Stories Of Survival: How Fitness Saved Morgan Wehmer And Elizabeth Aguilera

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Weight lossComments Off on 2 Stories Of Survival: How Fitness Saved Morgan Wehmer And Elizabeth Aguilera

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Morgan Lake Q & A

Ahead of the 2017 World Championships in Athletics, we spoke with GB athlete Morgan Lake on how she’s balancing personal life and training

Health&Fitness: You turned 20 last week – how does an athlete celebrate her birthday?

Morgan Lake: Probably quite different to how other people celebrate their birthday. I had a full day of training and then went out for a meal with my family and friends. Quite a chilled one – but still nice.

H&F: Looking back at last year, what was it like to have made the Olympic final in Rio?

ML: It was amazing. I didn’t really expect anything from it. My biggest aim last year was to make the games and so finding out I’d made the final after qualification was more than I ever could have hoped for.

H&F: How do you cram in the training for all of the different events for the heptathlon?

ML: It’s definitely hard to programme it all. There are seven events to train for [high jump, 100 metre hurdles, shot put, 200 metres, javelin, long jump and 800 metres] and you’ve also got to have strength and conditioning as well. It is hard – I usually do about three events a day, maybe four. So training twice a day and then Sunday is a rest day. I also have to fit in studies and try to have a social life. I try and use every hour of the day. It’s not as hectic sounds, and I’ve got into a routine now where I know what I’m doing.

H&F: Away from athletics, what are your interests?

ML: I enjoy being with my friends. When I’m training I’m on my own quite a lot of the time so I don’t really have much time to relax and watch movies, listen to music. Just normal stuff.

H&F: How important to your performance is your diet?

ML: It’s very important. I’m realising that more and more, especially for my energy levels. We have a British Athletics sports nutritionist who we can go to at any time, which is really helpful.

H&F: What power foods and drinks do you use for energy?

ML: I use Red Bull – I used it a lot even before I became an athlete. I use it in training, before competitions, during competitions. During training I will have a sugar-free Red Bull, and then I use the normal kind for competitions.

H&F: What gym moves do you find work best for your overall fitness?

ML: I love core workouts. I don’t really have much time to do them at the moment but I’ll try and squeeze them in at the end of my gym sessions.

H&F: What are the expectations moving up from a successful junior athlete to a senior athlete?

ML: I’ve always had a teen title to my name and now I’m not a junior anymore. It is a bit of a jump and I’ve got to make sure I transition well. I have a long career in the sport so I’m just trying not to rush it.

We tried it!

H&F’s Hally Houldsworth tested out her high jump skills at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre with Morgan Lake and former Olympic Gold medallist Jason Gardener.

‘Beginning with a warm-up, Megan explains how important stretching is to her daily routine – she starts her day with an hour warm-up before training even begins. Cutting that back to roughly 10 minutes, our high jump session begins.

As the session unfolds, we learn that technique plays a huge part when it comes to this event. There are many components that affect your overall performance in various ways. For example, pushing hard off one leg and driving with the other gives you greater height over the pole, as does beginning the jump at a certain distance from it (which is relative to your height). ‘Jumping too close or too far away will cause you to knock it down’, Morgan explains.

Taking four large strides for my run-up and building up as much speed as I can in that time, I begin to understand that I must concentrate on using all the parts of my body in my jump. As I push hard off the ground with my left foot I drive my right knee and right arm up into the air. This pulls me up before I can arch my back and tilt to the right to bend over the pole, flicking my legs up as soon as my back has crossed it so as not to bring it down during my landing.

My various attempts at the event are recorded and Morgan watches them over, offering feedback and encouragement as she does: pointing out the importance of using my arms and engaging my core.

The session proves a valuable experience in understanding the thought process of an athlete – particularly when learning how they overcome obstacles such as mental blocks, and how the psychology of their sport allows them to push past this not only during training, but also in a competitive environment.’

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Morgan Lake Q&A

Posted in Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Nutrition, Personal Fitness Training, Training Methods, Weight lossComments Off on Morgan Lake Q & A

<div class="entry-content-print" webReader="94"><p>It is rare for me to make a blanket statement when describing my clients. Although many share similar goals, all of them come from different walks of life and encounter unique challenges. However, one thing that I can say every single one of my clients has struggled with is consistency.</p><p>It seems that everyone has a story to share about a time when they “were doing awesome,” or “felt amazing.” For every positive memory there is the corresponding down-swing that played out that they are less fond of recounting. I see it as my task as a coach to help my clients appreciate the power of carefully positioning their relationship with their fitness program so that it remains enjoyable and thus they stick with it.</p><p>Have you ever considered visualizing physical fitness and clean eating/dieting as a hobby? For many the answer is no. The funny thing is that people are far more likely to participate in something that they enjoy versus something that they don’t. Specialized hobbies such as weight training, running, and nutrition, for example, require a lot of work, but as with many hobbies you will become more and more proficient with time.</p><p>When a client begins my program I often explain to them that, like most hobbies, they won’t be great from the start. I explain that like any discipline they will get better with practice and learn to appreciate each and every meal/snack and workout more and more as they have time to discover their potential. Before long my clients are able to see that their relationship with clean eating and working out has moved from something that they “have to do” to something that they are “happy to do.”</p><p>Work, on the other hand, is often dull and rarely becomes more enjoyable as you get better at it. Work is something that we often try to avoid. It doesn’t take much to find a rational distraction that we can use to get away from it. Examples of excuses that I hear all of the time include: “I don’t have the time,” or “I can’t work out at night, that’s the only time that I have to see my husband,” or “work was hard today, I will go to the gym tomorrow.”</p><p>I don’t mean to sound negative here, but I can’t express just how many times I have seen a potential client fail to realize how much they are missing out on by skipping workouts and eating poorly. As I mentioned before hobbies are enjoyable. People don’t search for excuses to rationalize getting out of a fishing trip, a shopping spree at the crafts store, or going to a Pats game. Yes, skipping your workouts and failing to plan and/or prepare meals for the week may free up several hours, but at what cost?</p><p>Workouts and clean eating reduce stress and boost virtually every aspect of your being from your health to your attitude; they are hobbies that act as life-enhancers. By making a seemingly subtle mental adjustment from “I have to exercise and eat right,” to “I am going to make a hobby out of exercising and eating right,” you may notice yourself making less excuses and possibly, just possibly, start to enjoy them as your favorite and most essential hobbies.</p><p><em>Coach Chris McHugh is the fitness coach and manager at Get In Shape For Women in Westwood. Please send questions, suggestions, or topic ideas to ChrismcHugh@getinshapeforwomen.com.</em></p><p>;</p><p>;</p><p>;</p><p>;</p></div>

Fitness Tips-Make fitness a hobby

It is rare for me to make a blanket statement when describing my clients. Although many share similar goals, all of them come from different walks of life and encounter unique challenges. However, one thing that I can say every single one of my clients has struggled with is consistency.

It seems that everyone has a story to share about a time when they “were doing awesome,” or “felt amazing.” For every positive memory there is the corresponding down-swing that played out that they are less fond of recounting. I see it as my task as a coach to help my clients appreciate the power of carefully positioning their relationship with their fitness program so that it remains enjoyable and thus they stick with it.

Have you ever considered visualizing physical fitness and clean eating/dieting as a hobby? For many the answer is no. The funny thing is that people are far more likely to participate in something that they enjoy versus something that they don’t. Specialized hobbies such as weight training, running, and nutrition, for example, require a lot of work, but as with many hobbies you will become more and more proficient with time.

When a client begins my program I often explain to them that, like most hobbies, they won’t be great from the start. I explain that like any discipline they will get better with practice and learn to appreciate each and every meal/snack and workout more and more as they have time to discover their potential. Before long my clients are able to see that their relationship with clean eating and working out has moved from something that they “have to do” to something that they are “happy to do.”

Work, on the other hand, is often dull and rarely becomes more enjoyable as you get better at it. Work is something that we often try to avoid. It doesn’t take much to find a rational distraction that we can use to get away from it. Examples of excuses that I hear all of the time include: “I don’t have the time,” or “I can’t work out at night, that’s the only time that I have to see my husband,” or “work was hard today, I will go to the gym tomorrow.”

I don’t mean to sound negative here, but I can’t express just how many times I have seen a potential client fail to realize how much they are missing out on by skipping workouts and eating poorly. As I mentioned before hobbies are enjoyable. People don’t search for excuses to rationalize getting out of a fishing trip, a shopping spree at the crafts store, or going to a Pats game. Yes, skipping your workouts and failing to plan and/or prepare meals for the week may free up several hours, but at what cost?

Workouts and clean eating reduce stress and boost virtually every aspect of your being from your health to your attitude; they are hobbies that act as life-enhancers. By making a seemingly subtle mental adjustment from “I have to exercise and eat right,” to “I am going to make a hobby out of exercising and eating right,” you may notice yourself making less excuses and possibly, just possibly, start to enjoy them as your favorite and most essential hobbies.

Coach Chris McHugh is the fitness coach and manager at Get In Shape For Women in Westwood. Please send questions, suggestions, or topic ideas to ChrismcHugh@getinshapeforwomen.com.

 

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Fitness Tips-Make fitness a hobby

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 Get virtual with your next challenge ArticleSep 16, 2016Looking for a new way to push yourself? Mix up your routine with this unique endurance challengeFancy yourself a bit of a challenge? Here's one with a twist: The Conqueror Event Series is launching its inaugural UK John O’Groats Virtual Challenge. Starting 1 October, the 1083-mile event has both teams and individuals complete the longest route in Britain, recording their distances and seeing themselves and others advancing on the map towards the finish line

Get virtual with your next challenge

Get virtual with your next challenge ArticleSep 16, 2016Looking for a new way to push yourself? Mix up your routine with this unique endurance challengeFancy yourself a bit of a challenge? Here’s one with a twist: The Conqueror Event Series is launching its inaugural UK John O’Groats Virtual Challenge. Starting 1 October, the 1083-mile event has both teams and individuals complete the longest route in Britain, recording their distances and seeing themselves and others advancing on the map towards the finish line

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Get virtual with your next challenge

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Top facts about exercising in the cold

Separate the freezing facts from fiction with the low down from a Fitness First expert:

1. Burning more calories in the cold is actually a myth, the body actually uses more energy cooling down in the heat than it does in the cold.

2. As per point one, exercising in colder temperatures is healthier than exercising in summer because we use less energy to warm up in winter than we do to cool down in summer

3. As per evolutionary theory, we tend to store more fat in winter to keep ourselves warm and with that comes weight gain, so exercising in the winter is actually more relevant for that reason

4. In the winter most of us divulge in alcohol and enjoy ourselves more, alcohol actually encourages heat loss in the body, so when we do exercise outside it makes it harder to stay warm

5. In summer we drink a lot of water, whereas in winter we’re not as aware that we’re dehydrated. This is dangerous as when we reach this point the body loses the ability to regulate temperature, so hydrating in winter is actually more important

6. Static stretching in the cold brings an injury risk, because muscles have the same elastic properties as a band if you stretch too quickly without the appropriate range of movement, the muscle can tear. Aim for dynamic movements as these will increase blood flow to muscle and therefore warm them quicker, whilst improving joint flexibility as well. They will also activate more muscles rather than isolated stretching.

7. Protect hands and feet. Heat loss tends to come from the hands, feet and head, so wear gloves, good socks and a hat and you’ll tend to find it easier to regulate temperature. It’s not about wearing a fleece, it’s about protecting the places that heat escapes from.

8. Stay dry. If you run in the winter and you sweat into cotton, it will stay wet and won’t dry. Therefore your body struggles to heat up due to the wet cotton. Wear dry fit material which will dry quickly as you work out.

9. Avoid over dressing. A lot of people wrap up warm when they work out outside. You risk excessive sweating which can cause dehydration and use excessive amounts of energy. It’s ok to start a run cold as you will warm up and your body will self-regulate your temperature.

10. There is a risk of slipping in the winter so wear a rubber studded sole to ensure you have grip.

Source:

Top facts about exercising in the cold

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Why you need to start cycling today!

Women’s cycling is on the rise thanks to an amazing new bunch of girls, kit and enthusiasm for life on two wheels.Since London 2012 we’ve been enjoying a cycling revolution in the UK, and WF is a team chock-full of cyclists so we couldn’t be happier! From increased bike sales and routes to a government investment of £588 million to make UK cities easier and safer to get around on a bike, it’s now the time to get in the saddle and ride.Viva la revolution! We’ve been speaking to Team Ford EcoBoost to discover more. ‘We never imagined we would be where we are now when we started cycling, so to see the growth in the sport in such a short space of time is just fantastic,’ explains Team rider Julie Erskine

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Why you need to start cycling today!

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Train your brain!

The era when sports stars concentrated solely on physical prep is long gone. 

Today, they are just as likely to use psychological techniques to improve their game. As cognitive hypnotherapist Hazel Gale (hazelgale.co.uk) says, ‘People are realising it’s scientific, not woo-woo.’ Hazel is the current UK women’s welterweight boxing champion and former double world women’s kickboxing champion. Not a lady to argue with then. 

Performance consultant Andy Barton (thesportingmind.com) is a sports psychologist who also uses Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Neuro Feedback to help people. He says, ‘65% of my clients are sports people, but the others are actors, musicians and just people who need to perform better.’ Indeed, brain training is not only useful in the gym – it could also increase your self-confidence, lift your mood and stop you procrastinating.

Research into the benefits of brain training is building. US research into basketball players, for example, has shown that those who visualise getting the ball in the hoop before they shoot are more likely to score. Another US study from 2013 showed participants who visualised exercising their biceps displayed a 13% increase in muscle strength. The reason is that visualisation activates electromyographical (EMG) activity in muscles similar to that which occurs in actual movement.

Mental Rehearsal

What is it? This is a visualisation technique in which you assume the identity of someone famous or successful in order to copy them and improve your own ‘game’.

How to do it: Think of a sports person who is able to do what you want to do. Maybe it’s Paula Radcliffe if you are a runner or Rebecca Adlington if you’re a swimmer. Now, close your eyes and imagine you’ve got a TV and remote control. Press play and watch a film of your hero practising the skill you want to perfect. Press pause and rewind. Play the film again. This time keep your mentor’s head, but visualise your body performing the same task faultlessly. Press pause, rewind and play again, this time with your head and your body, again doing everything well. Repeat this process once more, but this time step inside the film so that you’re actually feeling what it is like to perform so well. Press pause, step out of the film, look at yourself excelling, breathe in and relax.

What it’s best for: Perfecting tricky techniques that you don’t think you can do, such as a slam dunk in basketball or a serve in tennis.

Outside the gym: The Mental Rehearsal is really helpful if you want to perfect any skill, whether it’s cracking an egg with one hand or playing the violin. 

2 Process Thinking

What is it? When you want to achieve something, it is normal to set a goal and then try to reach it. However, this creates performance pressure that may prevent you reaching your goal. Process Thinking is a way of focusing on the present
to reduce this pressure.

How to do it: Set your goal then mentally set this aside. Maybe write it on a piece of paper and put it in a drawer. Then focus on the process of training without thinking ahead. If you do your best each time you work out, you will get to your goal and eliminate anxiety along the way.

What it’s best for: It works well for sports such as triathlon, which require a long training period.

Outside the gym: Any task where the goal is a long way off, e.g. if you have a lot of weight to lose.

3 Resource Anchor

What is it?This is based on the idea that we associate different states (happy, sad, excited, etc.) with ‘anchors’ i.e. sights, sounds, smells or tastes. The key is to anchor one of these senses to a frame of mind (a ‘resource state’) that helps you in your sport.

How to do it: The easiest and most effective Resource Anchor to create is a sound. An experiment conducted at Brunel University in 2001 found that music combined with imagery was more effective than imagery alone at helping athletes complete an isometric endurance task. Choose a song or songs that give you a feeling of energy and power. Now, sit quietly, close your eyes and remember a time when you trained well or competed successfully. As you see yourself excelling, switch on the music
and allow the sound to become associated with the feeling of success. Repeat this three or four times and then play the song whenever you train.

What it’s best for: Endurance exercise like running or cycling where the music helps you to dissociate you from the effort, aching limbs or sore feet.  

Outside the gym: If something makes you nervous (e.g. public speaking), you can create a relaxation anchor using a song that helps you to keep calm. Hum your chosen song quietly just before you have to speak to instantly calm yourself down.

Flick It Out, Lock It In

What is it? A favourite of Hazel’s, this duo of cognitive techniques helps you to ‘own’ your positive experiences and ‘throw away’ your negative experiences. 

How to do it: If you have a really good training session, win a race or set a personal best in anything, lift one arm, bend it as if you are doing a classic bicep curl, then as you clench your fist, pull it in to your chest. This ‘locks in’ the success. If you don’t do so well, ‘flick it out’ by taking the flat of one hand and brushing yourself down.

What it’s best for: Competitive sports with matches that you win or lose, or sports such as weight training or gymnastics that require you to perform difficult manoeuvres you can succeed or fail at.

Outside the gym: In competitive work environments such as sales where missing targets can affect your confidence.

Power Pose

What is it? A technique favoured by Andy, Power Pose is based on the idea that body language is infectious. ‘If you are fearful, you adopt fearful body language (you make yourself small by slumping down) and this body language increases your feeling of fearfulness,’ he explains. Power Pose completely reverses this process.

How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly apart, your head up and your shoulders back. Lift your arms up and out as if you are running through a tape at the end of a race. Breathe deeply and hold that position for one to two minutes.

What it’s best for: Increasing your energy and focus for short, explosive exercise such as sprinting or diving. This makes it particularly good just before the start of a race.

Outside the gym: Fantastic just before a difficult meeting or tricky phone call. It can give you the confidence to deliver bad news or ask for a pay rise.

Change Internal Dialogue

What is it? ‘A lot of us do ourselves down with self talk,’ says Hazel. This is the critical voice in our heads that many of us have. Change Internal Dialogue is a technique that takes the sting out of that inner voice.

How to do it: Close your eyes and think about some of the negative things you think about yourself, e.g. ‘I’m useless’, ‘I’m not fast enough’, ‘I’ll never win’, etc. While listening to this litany of internal criticism, alter the voice into that of Bugs Bunny or Homer Simpson. Immediately, whatever they are saying sounds ridiculously silly rather than powerful or strong.

What it’s best for: Events where you might hit a mental wall, e.g. mile 20 of a marathon or any exercise where self-doubt is holding you back, e.g. ‘I’ll never be able
to do 10 press-ups!’.

Outside the gym: A great all-round self-esteem lifter, Change Internal Dialogue can be used whenever you start to doubt your abilities, whatever the context.  

WHAT’S YOUR MANTRA?

Mantras are one of the most abused areas of psychology, but framed correctly they can be very effective. Here are the rules to remember:

• Use positive language If you say ‘I’m not nervous’, the brain doesn’t hear the ‘not’. It hears ‘nervous’ and your anxiety builds. Better to say ‘I am confident’. 

• Be realistic There’s no point saying ‘I’m going to be a world-class gymnast’ if you can barely get through a Zumba class. Better to say ‘I will get fitter’.

• Mean what you say ‘Mantras won’t work unless the body language and tone of voice is right,’ says Andy. Stand tall with your shoulders back and your head up – and speak confidently.

• Keep it broad A Greek study from 2006 found that motivational self talk, such as ‘I can do it!’, worked better than instructional self talk  such as ‘hit the ball!’.

MAGNIFICENT MANTRAS

‘I can, I will, I am’ (as in I can do it, I will do it, I am doing it). This creates belief and builds determination to do anything.

‘I will treat my body with love and respect. My body deserves this and I deserve this.’ Helps build resolve to be healthy and boosts self-esteem.

‘Just do it.’ The famous Nike slogan helps combat procrastination and silences a critical internal voice. 

Lowri Turner is a nutritionist/hypnotherapist

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Train your brain!

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Paige Hathaway

Paige Hathaway

2 days 7 minutes ago

Limits are imaginary ✨🤟🏼🌎
Never in a million years did I think that I would travel to Dubai, get to meet and share smiles with hundreds of people at the fitness expo or ride camels and four wheelers in the desert!! Geeesh, What is life.. 😍

...At the end of the day, I think to myself that my life may not always be perfect, but it’s completely what I make of it. 👉🏼 It’s not exactly what I see but how I look at things. It’s not necessarily about what I do, but how I do it. So everyday I make my life count and I make it memorable and I do the things my dreams inspire to be.

Paige Hathaway

3 days 59 minutes ago

It’s ok to be scared.. being scared is normal but letting that feeling overpower your life and control you will ruin it. Most people are paralyzed by their fears. They become so afraid to take a step out of their comfort zone that they stay complacent. They fear failure, they fear rejection, they fear fear... But having courage against your fears doesn’t mean you don’t get scared... having courage against your fears just means you didn’t let fear stop you. Refuse to reform your life because you’re scared of the unknown or getting outside of your normal.

DECLARE TO HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE! Use your energy not to worry but to believe. Great people do things before they are fully prepared. They do things before they know that they can even do it. Doing things you are afraid of, going beyond your comfort zone, taking risks that scare the hell out of you... THAT is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good.. who freaking cares....?!
You tired something and the comfort zone that you left will still be the comfort zone that you left if you shall ever choose to return. ✨🐫🌏 #ididntgetthisfarfromfear #igotthisfarfromhavingcourage

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