Monthly Archives: April 2016

Exercise Is Not a Punishment For Eating

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You may, or may not, have heard recently on the news that food labels are soon to change the way the nutritional content is displayed. Food packaging is going to display how much exercise it will take to ‘pay off’ your item of food in calories. The idea behind this change is to encourage people to exercise more and perhaps think twice before eating unhealthy snacks. It aims to educate people about how active they need to be and to cut down on growing obesity levels in the UK.

Unfortunately, there is speculation that this may lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, especially in young people. People will start to feel as though they need to earn their food, and you may find some people working off their calories, not allowing their body enough calories to function throughout the day. Another problem that this brings is that people will be focused purely on calories as opposed to nutrition.

100 calories of crisps is never going to be as nutritional as 100 calories of fruit or nuts. Dairy products that are high in calories may be sacrificed in preference of lower fat items, such as biscuits or sweets. These examples are perhaps extreme, but possible. Lack of vitamins, nutrients, calcium and other essential foods may well be missed out upon, leading to increased osteoporosis, obesity and other health problems.

With eating disorders at an all time high in young people, these food labels may also add to the obsession. If people feel that they can punish themselves for eating, they may do so after a guilty binge or try to get into negative calories. It’s perhaps encouraging this behaviour, albeit with good intentions.

Food is like our bodies medicine. It is there to nourish us, to keep us healthy and energise us. It is also not criminal to enjoy eating food without feeling guilty, or like you need to go and train for hours after eating a shop bought sandwich and crisps.

Exercise is, of course, essential. However, the recommended amount of exercise is different for everybody. Different ages, different builds and different metabolisms need different regimes to keep themselves healthy. The link between food and exercise should not be compared in such a dramatic state. Admittedly, if we overeat and under exercise, we will become overweight, there is also a problem of under eating and over exercising which can lead to being underweight. Both come with their own health risks, both of which can be life threatening.

The concept of earning your food in the gym, or similarly punishing yourself in the gym for having eaten food is a mindset that needs to be changed. Squat because you love it and you want a pert bottom, not because you ate a cupcake. Reset your thoughts and strive to use food to help your performance. Eat carbohydrates before a long run, and allow yourself to enjoy both. Enjoy the health benefits that both food and exercise can bring.

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Marathon Training

Man running in grassy field

Did the London Marathon leave you feeling inspired and motivated to take part in a marathon yourself? It’s recommended that you train for 6 months, as an average, to be race fit, although, let’s face it, it’s never too early to start. Here are a few tips to get you mentally prepared for your own marathon.

The Challenge

Whether you’re new to running, a regular runner or you haven’t run in a long time, completing your marathon is going to be both challenging and rewarding. The buzz that you will feel as you cross that finishing line is like no other. However, it’s a long journey to get there and is hard work, both physically and emotionally.

People expect running a marathon to be challenging, and expect to have to put in excessive amounts of physical training. What often goes unprepared, is the mind, which is actually equally, if not more important than training the muscles. Starting a training plan is the easy bit. Remaining motivated to stick to that plan week in week out, through the cold, wet and wind, is more challenging. What’s more, using that training to get you through the race day itself can prove even more of a challenge.

Some of the main factors are:-
Visualisation
Motivation
Goal Setting
The Wall
Nutrition
Visualisation

Visualisation is a key tip. Use mental imagery to watch yourself running the marathon. Visualise yourself crossing that finish line and use the voice in your head to encourage you and offer positive affirmations as you run.

Motivation

Motivation, self-discipline and time management are all key players in your mental ability to be able to run this far. There will be many days when you’re too busy, too tired, or simply cannot be bothered. These days are challenging. What harm can missing one training session really do, right? In truth, probably very little, but what about the next time you don’t feel up to it, or the time after that? My advice…get up, get out and get going. Make not running not even an option. Even once you are out and running, some days will be easier than others. You may feel every muscle in your body screaming at you to stop, but it’s up to you to allow that inner voice to take over, to keep those legs moving and stay disciplined enough to finish your run.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is a top tip used by most runners. Try to be realistic and specific with goal setting. Your intimate goal may well be to simply finish the marathon. Try being more driven than this. Perhaps aim to complete the marathon in under a set amount of time. The key to goal setting is to make it achievable, but also challenging. Getting the balance just right should help to keep you motivated. Write your goal down and share it with friends and family to keep you driven.
Smaller goals whilst you are running can be important too. You need to stay completely present, so worrying that you still have over 20 miles to go until you finish the race is never going to help your mindset. Instead, focus on the present mile, or the fact that you are almost quarter of the way there. Continue talking yourself through with these baby goals until you have completed the race.

The Wall

You will likely hit, what runners refer to as, the wall at some point during the marathon. The phase where you literally feel you cannot go on. The most important part of dealing with the wall is knowing that it will happen and knowing that it will pass. You are not going to struggle throughout the rest of your race as much as you are struggling now. Just push through and keep your head up.

Nutrition

A huge factor for any athlete to consider during training for any event is nutrition. What you eat has a huge effect on your mood and the way your body can perform. Carbohydrates are essential for slow release energy, and it’s important these are consumed weeks before a big run. Your body, however, cannot store enough carbohydrates to keep you going for a marathon. This is the reason athletes often consume gels; it provides your muscles with carbs, slowing down the release from your fuel stores. Be sure not to overdo it though, as too much gel or too many calories when running can give you stomach problems. It’s also vitally important to keep yourself hydrated; when exercising for longer than 60-90 minutes your body will struggle to continue without hydrating. Again, don’t overdo it – too much can be as dangerous as too little. Just take small sips at regular intervals.
Shout About It

Don’t be afraid to admit how proud you are of yourself. Share your progress and mileage on Facebook. Shout to the world about what you’re doing because you are doing a great job and you have already achieved so much. Put a smile on your face, even when it hurts, to help pull you through and try to enjoy yourself. Visualise how proud you will be when you cross that finishing line and keep aiming for it. Watch yourself in your minds eye putting on a great performance, strong strides, head lifted, not looking at the floor.
And just keep running!!

I Don’t Have Time…

You think you don’t have time to work out. It’s ok for everyone else they don’t have a family, don’t work long hours, aren’t a single parent, don’t commute or they get help with the housework. Whereas you’re so busy and so tired you don’t have time to exercise.

I get it. I’m a stay at home mother of 3 under 5’s, I run the house, have more laundry than most could imagine, I run my own businesses, I sing in a band and I have (a bit of!) a social life!!! I’m not saying this to show off or complain, I built my life this way, but actually to say: you’re not the only one with stuff going on.

  
However, whether you’re a parent, spouse, son/daughter or friend, all most people in your life care about is your health and happiness. The best gift you can give them is to look after yourself, and that includes looking after your diet and exercising. So no, it’s not selfish of you to go take some exercise for 20 minutes here or there, it’s selfless.

Ok, so you may not be able to make it to the gym 5 times per week or prepare a gourmet health feast. The idea isn’t to become obsessed, just to alter your lifestyle a little.

Snacking

  

Snacking isn’t the evil beast it’s thought to be. It’s a great way to stabilise your blood sugar levels to keep up your energy levels and also to stabilise your mood, as long as you eat the right things. Despite what you tell yourself, reaching for a packet of crisps isn’t easier than peeling a banana, eating an apple or nuts. It’s just a case of breaking bad habits. Pitta bread with humous, carrot sticks, unsalted nuts, fruit, avocado, malt loaf, high fibre crackers, yoghurts, cup of soup or cherry tomatoes. All of these offer you some nutritional value and are relatively healthy foods. Obviously don’t overdo it, or you will become overweight. Too many snacks means too many calories, healthy or not!

Exercise

  

Although I highly recommend taking time out for yourself to enjoy an exercise of sorts, I appreciate that’s not always feasible. But little things can make a huge difference:-

Squat when you’re brushing your teeth, or jog on the spot…anything. Just use this time to do something other than just stand. The same applies when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or you’re on the phone.

Find something that fits in with your day: park the car further from the office, get out on your lunch break, offer to do the tea runs, walk or run the school run (with an extra detour on the way home), run the stairs, do wall press ups whilst playing peek-a-boo, join in at soft play; whatever it takes, just avoid those moments when you’re just sitting for no particular reason. 

It can also help to make exercise your social meet. Instead of going out for dinner, why not go swimming and grab a coffee afterwards, or run/walk, play tennis. The possibilities truly are endless.

Enjoy what you’re doing and do it to work towards a goal to keep you focused. You may want toned abs, to lose weight, to be healthier or to give you more energy. Focus on how being healthier makes you feel; I bet the results are positive.

Meditate. If you’re not getting enough sleep, use meditation to relax you. It’s a great way to survive on a smaller amount of sleep as you fall into a deeper sleep faster. This should free up couch time for you to be able to add in an extra 10 or 20 minutes of exercise. Yoga and HIIT training are both great options where you will see results without having to work out for hours at a time.

I hope this helps. Enjoy and let me know how you get on 😊

Yoga For Back Pain

Throughout my yoga career so far, I have many people contact me with various ailments, especially back pain, looking for the hope of some relief.

Yoga is an amazing practice that helps to realign the body and perfect a tired posture. Poor posture can be the reason for a sore back, as well as tight muscles and tension in the joints. Our modern day world doesn’t do much for our posture: slumped over a desk, gazing down at a phone or tablet, slouched on a sofa or spending hours travelling. All of these things can cause aches and pains throughout your body, as well as over training muscles or wrongly training with weights, or otherwise.

Yoga is the perfect solution to relieve tension, correct posture and realign you. While you’re practicing, sorting out your back you will always reap many of the other benefits that yoga brings.

Here are some of the great positions that will help to ease your back:-

Downward Facing Dog

  

A classic restorative yoga pose, which will stretch out and lengthen your spine and also stretch your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can be a common cause of back pain so if you’re struggling to get your heels to the floor, you may have found the root of your problem.

Start on all fours, then tuck your toes under and lift your bottom towards the ceiling as high as you can. Push through your hands to lengthen the spine, as though pushing your chest down towards your toes. Ease your heels towards the floor to stretch out the backs of your legs.

Cat Pose and Cow Pose

  

This is an excellent combination to stretch out your back and relieve tension from the top to the bottom of the spine. Getting as much movement on your spine between the two positions will give you maximum benefits.

Start on all fours and lift your head and tailbone. Then tuck your head between your shoulders and tuck your tailbone under, pulling your tummy in. Keep moving between the two positions.

Child’s Pose

  

Another restorative yoga pose which is great for lengthening the spine, therefore reducing tension and relieving pain.

Start on all fours and sit back onto your heels. Rest your head onto the floor and extend your arms up above your head, resting them on your mat. It’s a relaxing position, so enjoy it and allow yourself to destress.

Triangle Pose

  

An excellent way to stretch the torso and outer hip muscles, and strengthen the legs and back is triangle pose. Often tight hips can cause bad posture and knee pain so it’s another great posture to perfect your body’s alignment.

Stand with your feet wide, one foot pointing forward, the other to the end of your mat. Extend your arms out to shoulder height and tilt from the waist, extending your front arm down towards your front foot and resting on the floor. Look up towards your top arm if you can, keeping your back and legs straight.

There are limitless other positions I could discuss which will help your alignment and prevent or rid of back pain. The above positions don’t even cover the main ones, but do give you a brief understanding of how you can help yourself.

Why not attend a local yoga class and reap the benefits? Please check with a doctor before starting any new fitness regime. If your back pain is disc related you will need guidance from them as to what you can and cannot do.

Enjoy being pain free 😊

http://www.fitnessyogawithemma.co.uk

Exercise…getting back to it!

It’s Been How Long??!!

Today is the day I dust off my yoga mat and get back in to exercise as I know it! After having my third child, aside from going out walking, or running around after the older kiddies, my exercise regime has gone by the wayside, whilst I let my body recover.

People often have to stop exercise for a multitude of reasons: injury, to have a baby, busy at work/lack of time and sometimes you just get out of the habit. Today I’m going to discuss how you can give yourself that much needed kick up the bottom and get back to it.

  

Make A Habit

Remember when getting to the gym or aerobics class was no effort, it was just something you did? Get back to that. Instead of just going as and when, have a ritual. A set workout on a set day will mean your workout soon becomes ingrained and you won’t need to think about making yourself go to exercise, it will just become second nature, leaving you no opportunity for wondering whether or not to make the effort.

Make It Fun

There are millions of different exercises out there. So if you have the coordination of a toddler but a passion for weights, or hate working out alone but love team sports, then find your love and do that. No one is forcing you to run if you hate it or to dance if you’d rather not. There is something out there for everyone, the key is to enjoy your workout so that it becomes less of a chore and more of a time out for you.

Find A Friend

If you struggle with motivation, why not workout with a friend? If you know that by not attending your planned workout you will be letting someone other than yourself down, it should encourage you to make more effort to get up and go. It can also make your workout more enjoyable, meaning you’ll look forward to your session more too.

Get Competitive

Competing with yourself is a great way to keep you motivated. Build on how many reps you can do or how far or fast you can travel. Setting a benchmark and then challenging yourself to beat it shows how your fitness is growing and improving, which should encourage you to stay with it. Seeing positive results is a great feeling.

Be Realistic

If it’s been a few months since you last worked out, the chances are you’re not going to be able to do what you could before you stopped. Allow yourself the opportunity to build up gradually, knowing that eventually you’ll get back to where you were. Just getting there and knowing you’re improving is enough for now.

  
So there you have it: my top tips for getting back into it. Ultimately, it’s just a case of getting up and getting out. Once you’re there you’ll put the effort in. Stay focused on your fitness goals and the rest should follow. Stay positive and enjoy the benefits being fit and healthy can bring. After all, the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones is to be healthy.