Archive | June, 2015

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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10 ways to sleep better

1) Make space for sleep Clear your bedroom of all electronic distractions, including mobile phones, TVs and laptops, to create a more peaceful environment.
 
2) Take a bath Having a warm soak before bed will help you unwind. It will also raise your body temperature, and the drop in temperature that follows this will encourage your body to think it’s time to go to sleep. Add essential oils to your bath to enhance the effect.
 
3) Go for a run Exercising during the day can help you to nod off at night. But don’t do a tough workout too close to your bedtime, or you may struggle to drift off.
 
4) Create a no-work policy Try not to do any work-related tasks in your bedroom as it can affect your ability to switch off from your daily concerns. No emails, no bills, no stress! Make your room a haven for sleep (and sex!) only.
 
5) Get into a routine Our bodies like routine, so going to bed and waking at similar times each day (including the weekends) will help you to programme your body to sleep better.
 
6) Take in the aroma Sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow to help you drift off into a deep and peaceful sleep. Research has shown that aromatherapy with lavender can help to slow the activity of your nervous system, improve sleep quality and promote relaxation. Plus, it smells gorgeous!
 
7) Cut the coffee Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the evenings, as they may prevent you reaching a deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or a chamomile tea instead.
 
8) Get up If you can’t get to sleep, or you wake up during the night, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something quiet and relaxing, such as reading, for around 20 minutes – but don’t flick on the telly, it will only make your brain more alert – then head back to bed. 
 
9) Take a herbal remedy Herbs can be used to temporarily relieve sleep problems caused by anxiety. Try A Vogel Dormeasan Valerian-Hops oral drops, £9.15, www.avogel.co.uk/herbal-remedies/valerian-hops-dormeasan

 
10) Turn down the lights Keep the lighting low in the hour or so before you head to bed then, once you’re tucked in, make sure your room is as dark as possible. Invest in blackout blinds or curtain liners for a completely dark and soothing environment.

 

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10 ways to sleep better

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Train like an Olympian!

London 2012 – remember that? Of course you do! As a nation we were swept up in two weeks of sporting triumphs and patriotism like never before and, two-and-a-half years on, it is those triumphs and star performances that still keep so many of us motivated to hit the gym or head out for a run. And now, thanks to Fitness First and its discovery that the desire to train like an Olympian was so prominent during the Games, its legacy looks likely to live on long into 2015 and beyond, too. The nationwide gym and health club chain has recently opened its doors to a brand new branch in London’s Bishopsgate with an athletic slant firmly in mind.

This amazing, state-of-the-art club boasts three new fitness programmes devised by Team GB athletes and coaches, and its new track, interactive Move studio and ceiling-mounted coaching camera are ideal for gym-goers who continue to be inspired by the athletes of 2012. The club even had its opening ribbons cut by three of Britain’s best young sports stars: Nicola Adams, the world’s first female boxing Olympic gold medallist; Ed Clancy, Olympic track cycling gold and bronze medallist; and Max Whitlock, Olympic gymnastics bronze medallist. 

But, of course, you don’t have to work out in the gym to train like an athlete (though if you live in London we definitely recommend a visit to the Bishopsgate club), so Fitness First has devised this fantastic workout that’ll boost your speed, power, agility and athleticism. You’ll be running faster than Usain Bolt in no time! (OK, we can’t quite promise that, but a girl can dream…)

How to do it

Perform the first move continuously for the time period allotted for your level. Rest for 15-30 seconds depending on your fitness level before moving on to the next. Once a full set of each move is complete, go back to the start to begin the next set, following the same structure.

Beginner: 5 x 30 seconds
Intermediate: 5 x 45 seconds
Advanced: 5 x 1 minute

Treadmills

Areas trained: hips, legs, core

Technique
-From plank position, bring your right foot up to the outside of your right hand, letting the hips drop. Keep your left leg straight and right leg bent.
-Jump to switch sides so that your right leg is straight and your left leg is bent with your left foot outside of your left hand.
-Continue to alternate for the allotted time for your level. 

Safety tip
Keep your head in a neutral position

Fast arms

Area trained: shoulders

Technique
-Stand in a stable position with legs slightly bent and back neutral.
-Position your arms as if you were to begin a sprint, with one slightly in front of the body and one behind, both bent.
-Switch positions so that the opposite arm is now in front instead.
-Repeat this as fast as you can continuously.

Safety tip
Keep your shoulders back and gaze forwards 

Lateral move + T press-up

Areas trained: Core, sides, chest, rear upper arms 

Technique
-Lie face down on the floor with arms extended out to the sides.
-Bring your hands to your sides under your shoulders, palms flat on the floor.
-Keeping your core tight and body in a straight line, push your body off the floor to complete a press-up.
-Rotate your torso to the side to bring one arm up to the ceiling, taking your gaze with it.
-Bring it back to the floor and bend your arms to lower yourself back to the ground to repeat, switching sides for the next rep. 

Safety tip
Don’t let your hips drop lower than the rest of your body 

Plyometric lunge

Areas trained: legs, bottom

Technique
-Take a large step forwards and bend both knees to about 90 degrees with your back knee just above the floor.
-Generate as much momentum as possible to jump as high as you can, switching the position of your legs mid-air to land with the opposite leg in front.
-Repeat fluidly. 

Safety tip
Keep your torso upright throughout

Isometric squat hold

Areas trained: thighs, bottom

Technique
-With your back resting against a wall, lower yourself until your knees are at a 90-degree angle, keeping feet flat on the floor.
-Hold. 

Safety tip
Keep your knees in line with your toes 

Press-up holds

Areas trained: core, chest, rear upper arms

Technique
-Start in plank position on your hands.
-Bend your arms to lower your chest to the floor, keeping your body in a straight line throughout.
-Push back up to the start.
-Without tilting your body, tap your left shoulder with your right hand.
-Lower, your hand back to the floor, then tap your right shoulder with your left hand.
-Return to the start and repeat.

Safety tip Keep your hips square throughout 

Sprinters

Areas trained: hips, legs

Technique
-Run on the spot as fast as you can, driving your knees high, for the allotted time for your level.

Safety tip Keep your back straight and shoulders back

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Train like an Olympian!

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‘It’s massively rewarding’

From the sea cliffs of Wales to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Hazel Findlay’s passion for climbing has taken her all over the world. She tells us how self-belief can spur you on to do almost anything you can imagine – even paragliding!

How did you get into climbing? 
I started out with my dad on the sea cliffs in Pembroke when I was seven. I was lucky to start so early because climbing has really made me who I am.

What is it that you love about the sport? 
I love how it takes you to amazing corners of the world that you wouldn’t get to otherwise. I also love the feeling of moving over rock and the mental battles associated with climbing.

What’s the toughest thing about climbing? 
The toughest thing about climbing is believing that you can do something. It always feels really easy to walk away from a rock climb if you think it’s going to be hard, but it’s massively rewarding when you don’t walk away and you give it a go, even if you fail.

You’ve climbed in lots of amazing places. Where’s your favourite place to climb? 
I really love the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The people are amazing and the scenery is something special – it’s very impressive and rugged, but also very peaceful.

Who or what inspires you? 
All the climbers who love the sport and keep getting out every day despite injury, weather, work or life problems.

Have you always been active? 
Yes, I’ve always been active and if I’m not climbing for whatever reason, I’ll be running or doing yoga or something. We are supposed to be active and I think a lot of the problems with the modern human are tied up in the fact that most of us live hugely underactive lives.

What other sports do you enjoy other than climbing? 
Yoga, running and I’ve just taken up paragliding.

What’s the best way for our readers to get into climbing?   
Take a course where you will learn all the relevant safety skills you need to know to get out and about on your own. Climbing walls are great, but lots of people get stuck in them and find it hard to venture out – so if you can, start outside.  

What’s your biggest goal? I don’t really have a biggest goal or dream, but since I’ve just recently started paragliding, one dream I have is to do some flying/climbing combined adventures. I think that would be really great.  

Hazel is sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports (ellis-brigham.com)

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‘It’s massively rewarding’

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5 reasons to get on your bike

What’s not to love about cycling? There’s no greater pleasure than the feeling of freedom you get pedalling out on the open road. 

And let’s not forget that cycling – whether on an indoor bike in the gym or touring the streets – is the perfect way to get your exercise fix. Here are our favourite reasons to saddle up today. 

Reason 1: Stay slim
Want an awesomely fit body? Hit the spin bike! High-intensity spinning classes offer a great head-to-toe toning workout and they’re suitable for everyone – regardless of your fitness level. The interval sessions really challenge your lower body and the calorie-burning potential is pretty impressive, too. ‘The most beneficial part of spin classes is the intervals, as they challenge the body so you can get the most out of your workout,’ says Chris Foster, professional head of fitness at nuffield health (nuffieldhealth.com). Looking for a fresh alternative to your regular spin class? Check out BOOM Cycle, it’s an awesome indoor cycling class with an emphasis on fun and great music, it’s a firm team WF favourite (boomcycle.co.uk). 

Reason 2: It’s better for the environment
Nobody wants to live in a world clogged up with unhealthy carbon emissions that wreak havoc on health. So ditch your car and get on your bike instead. A study by the European Cyclists Federation found that Europe could reduce its CO2 emissions by a quarter if its population cycled as regularly as the Danes. In Denmark the average person cycles almost 600 miles annually, while the average Brit logs in a meagre 46 miles each year. 

Reason 3: See the world
Whizzing around on two wheels is the perfect workout to take you away from home and out exploring new places. ‘Cycling lets you see the world – whether you want to hit the MTB trails or head out for a ride on the road. You can travel to places that you didn’t even realise existed and appreciate buildings and views that you have only ever bypassed in the car,’ enthuses Wiesia Kuczaj, cyclist and Sigma Sport Team MuleBar Girl (mulebar.com).

Reason 4: Add years to your life
Turn your commute into your workout and not only will you save money, you could also lengthen your lifespan. A 20-year study by Copenhagen’s Bispebjerg University Hospital found that women who cycled every day at a vigorous pace lived on average 3.9 years longer than slow cyclists. So get pedalling hard, people!

Reason 5: Improve joint health
The low-impact nature of cycling makes it an accessible sport for those who are at risk of joint injury and also enables them to increase the volume and intensity of their riding at a faster pace. ‘Consequently, cycling may help you to reach your health and fitness goals more quickly than is possible in more technical and/or weight bearing sports, such as running,’ explains performance coach James Hewitt (jameshewitt.net).

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Challenge yourself with #runsupyoga

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Want to try something new to really test yourself? Find out why #RUNSUPYOGA is the challenge of choice this summer

If the dismal walls of the gym or the repetitive views of your daily running route are getting a tad old then here’s your chance to inject some vitality back into your fitness.

Fashion fave Roxy is bringing its global #RUNSUPYOGA tour to the UK where 3,000 girls can run, paddle and practise yoga in this famous fitness event. Think triathlon but instead of rain and mud, you’ll be pushing yourself on a sandy beach with a stunning sea. Sounds good to us!

Thousands of girls took part in the first event hosted in Barcelona as part of Roxy’s 25thanniversary celebrations. Time to get among the action as the Roxy #RUNSUPYOGA tour will be travelling around the world visiting Hawaii and France before coming to Fistral beach on 25thJuly in Newquay, Cornwall here in the UK.

You’ll be starting the day off by getting wet and wild with a 2km stand-up paddle (SUP) in the sea before moving on to the serene views that Fistral beach has to offer on a 5km run. Finally you’ll be finishing with your best downward dog under the glorious sun with a yoga sesh.

The combination of activities are sure to provide a much-needed break from your usual routine and will help you discover skills you never knew you had. Your traditional run will look empty in comparison with this 5km that’ll have you soaking up a picturesque view of Newquay in all its glory. The 45-minute yoga class will take place to a backdrop your dreams, too – essential for the Instagram obsessive.

Roxy ambassadors Natalie Fox, Lucy Foster, Amy Stapleford and Sophie Everard will be guiding you through the activities, so don’t worry about getting stranded along the way. The day will culminate with a celebratory jam sesh where you’ll be able to reflect on what you’ve just achieved and catch up with like-minded people.

For adventure-seekers everywhere this is a great a chance to work hard and play harder at one fitness event that’s worth getting stuck in to.

For more info visit roxy-uk.co.uk.

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Challenge yourself with #runsupyoga

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Arm toning exercises

Wave bye bye to pesky bingo wings and give your arms some well-deserved attention to ensure you can wear summer tops with confidence come the warmer months with our easy peasy workout.

The secret to honing a shapely pair of arms is to work your chest and shoulders and both your biceps and triceps evenly. We’ve created a quick circuit that does just that, so you’ll be ready to reveal awesome arms in no time. Just make sure you team this workout with a healthy diet and some high-intensity cardio, as you’ll need to rev up that fat burn for slim and sexy arms.

Add these four moves to your existing workouts, twice a week, taking 30 seconds’ rest between each set. Go for a weight that challenges you – but make sure you can perform each rep with good form. Your arms should be tired by the end, and you should feel as though you couldn’t do another set with the same weight.

Beginner: 2 x 8 reps each move

Intermediate: 3 x 10 reps each move

Advanced: 4 x 10 reps each move

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Arm toning exercises

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Don’t suffer in silence!

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Why ‘putting up with’ an injury could be a bad idea

If you’ve ever been injured, you’ll know it’s all you can think about.

But did you know that chronic pain could actually change the way you think?

Well, according to a study in mice carried out by researchers at Stanford University, it seems long-term pain can alter the part of your brain that controls motivation – which could explain why those who suffer from chronic pain become less active and often feel unmotivated. Formerly fit bods can become crisp-eating couch potatoes in a the blink of an eye when motivation hits a real low!

So, don’t put up with persistent pain – get it checked out and get your motivation back.

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Don’t suffer in silence!

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How to get rid of love handles

If you want to look and feel great, there’s a lot of things to consider. Whilst diet and exercise are two powerful tools in the pursuit of a healthy body, sleep patterns, stress levels and body confidence all have their own part to play. Learn how to make the most of what you’ve got (and disguise those love handles) with our top expert tips.

Eat up, slim down

Always thinking about your next meal? Not anymore! The secret behind fat-loss success lies in properly fuelling your body with nutrient-dense food. Number one on the list is fibre – both the soluble and insoluble types. Fibre helps slow down digestion and recharges your body with a steady stream of energy, but worryingly, a whopping 90 per cent of us don’t have enough roughage in our diets, according to a new study by Warburtons.
To win the war against wobbles, it’s important to go back to basics. Eat meals high in protein, which helps preserve lean muscle mass, and omega-3 fatty acids. These turn on fat-burning enzymes in your cells and help regulate the appetite hormone leptin, which keeps you feeling satiated. Finally, spice up your meals for the ultimate metabolism kick. Chilli and paprika both contain a compound called capsaicin that helps speed up weight loss, while cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
Fight fat: Government guidelines say we should consume 24g of fibre daily, so fill your plate with a variety of colourful fruit, veg and wholegrains to ensure you reach your quota. Boost your omega-3 intake with nuts and fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel, and add chilli, paprika and cinnamon to soups, stews and curries.

Sleep easy, stay slim

The secret to maintaining your slim figure? A good night’s sleep! The link between sleep and staying slim is often underestimated, but you can double your chances of reaching your ideal weight if you get between six and eight hours sleep a night. ‘One third of the population of the UK is sleep deprived and this puts people at an increased risk of being overweight,’ says naturopath Sybille Gebhardt (sybille.co.uk). ‘Your body derives its energy from food and sleep. If one is lacking, then the other needs to increase to sustain your body’s necessary energy levels.’
A recent study by researchers at the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation plays havoc with fat cells, reducing their ability to respond to the blood sugar balancing hormone insulin by 30 per cent.
Ever wondered why a bad night’s sleep leads to a day of bingeing? Lack of sleep also lowers levels of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin, sending signals to the brain to increase appetite. When you get enough sleep, leptin levels are higher – so you’re more likely to feel full when you eat.
Fight fat: Make sure you get a proper night’s rest by going to bed at the same time each night to help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. Apply a spritz of lavender essential oil to your pillow and enjoy a soak in the tub before lights out to increase your chances of shut-eye.

Beat stress, lose weight

Being dedicated to your job may improve your career prospects, but it might not be such good news for your waistline. Even if you eat healthily and exercise regularly, leading a stressful lifestyle can stop you from losing inches. When you’re under stress, your body pumps out adrenaline and high levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol affects appetite, causing you to crave sugary, high fat foods that stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. This has a soothing effect on stress, but, obviously, it’s terrible news for your body. A high level of cortisol also promotes fat around your middle, known as visceral fat. This fat surrounds organs and releases fatty acids into your blood stream, raising insulin levels and increasing your risk of diabetes over the long term. ‘Many of us reach for food when we’re stressed,’ says Sybille. ‘Try meditation or yoga to calm your mind.’
Fight fat: Melt your muffin top with stress-soothing foods such as oily fish, which helps to regulate cortisol levels, or turkey, which increases serotonin levels. Practise yoga at least twice a week.

Feel confident, look great

Your biggest fat-loss obstacle? You’re looking at her in the mirror! Looking good is all about feeling good, so if you boost your body confidence you could send your fat-loss rate soaring. A study by scientists at the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University discovered that women are far more likely to shed pounds if they work on improving their body image issues. You might not have your dream body (yet), but embrace your best bits and you’ll look and feel your best.
Fight fat: Been blessed with long legs but a paunchy tum? Opt for skinny jeans with a smock top and a wow-inducing pair of heels. Hate your bingo wings but love your killer cleavage? A long-sleeved top with a scoop neckline will give you a lift.
 

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How to get rid of love handles

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The half marathon experience

What does it feel like to pound the pavement of a cool East London borough for a couple of hours? Running blogger, Sarah-Jane Perera (www.poweredbycakes.com), gives us the lowdown of her Vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon experience…

“On Sunday May 10 the second Vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon took place. Following the inaugural race, I was glad to see the organisers take on board feedback from last year’s event and make this bigger and better than the first one. I was particularly pleased to see the improvement on the route and the added water stations. The big shiny medal and the technical t-shirt were the cherries on the cake.”

“The event organisers moved the race forward by about 6 weeks, so I hoped we wouldn’t have to run in the scorching sun this year. When I set off from home, it was a cool and grey morning – perfect for running a half marathon. Much to my dismay, the sunshine came out as everyone filed into the pens at the starting line, and boy was I glad to have packed my sunglasses. It was exciting to see pro track and field athlete and local East London girl, Perri Shakes – Drayton start the race.”

“I run with Run Dem Crew and Hackney is our stomping ground, so this is a very special race for me. It was great to run with different crew members along the way, and fun scanning the crowds for friends.  I was also looking forward to running past the Run Dem Crew cheer point at Mile 10.”

“It’s a great route and joyous to run on closed roads, past some iconic Hackney sights including the Hackney Empire and through what is a surprisingly green borough of London.  The tempo changes coming through Olympic Park as the crowd thins out but there’s no doubting it still holds a special quality remembering Olympic glory achieved here.”

“Prior to running the race I was a bit worried about being able to run it well, as I completed the Brighton Marathon – my first! – a month before. At around Mile 5, I was in a dark place, I felt really tired and began to walk. That’s when a lovely girl, Josie Arden, patted me on the back and encouraged me to keep running. Meeting Josie made me realise quite how small the running world is, not only did she know quite a few of the same bloggers and runners that I know, but she too had run the Brighton Marathon and was also finding the race quite hard.  We ran the rest of the course together, crossing the finish line hand in hand.” 

“Although it was a tough race, I would do it all over again. One of my highlights was running past the Run Dem Crew cheer point. They went all out, with pots and pans, whistles and confetti cannons.  Vitality Run Hackney is a great local race, where the local community comes out to support the runners, offer us jelly babies and fruit and a whole load of encouragement.”

“Pre-Registration for 2016 is now open. Sign me up!”

 

This article: 

The half marathon experience

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