If you are considering undertaking a weight loss journey, are currently in the process of trying to lose weight or have ever been unsuccessful in your attempts for weight loss, then this article is for you!
As I have stated in previous articles, I find tracking weight on the scales one of the least effective forms of tracking progress. Saying that, I know that it is often necessary – If you are extremely overweight or if you are under doctors’ orders, then tracking your weight on the scales is often a necessity.
The main point I’m going to be addressing today is that weighing yourself sporadically is a hugely counterproductive method! Why? Because your weight fluctuates and weight loss is not linear.
Short term weight loss is generally just change in your bodies’ water retention levels. You’ve heard stories about people losing multiple kg’s in a week? Well I can tell you now; the process of losing fat takes considerably longer than that. What they are losing is the amount of water their body has retained. You’ll often hear these miraculous losses when somebody cuts a large percentage of carbohydrates out of their diet, this is because a gram of glycogen (a store of carbohydrates) holds 3-4g of water, therefore cutting carbohydrate intake = less glycogen stored which then = a large reduction of water in your body.
Your weight fluctuates regularly; this is caused by changes in your daily activity, stress levels, bowel movements, sodium intake and more. That is normal. You may jump on the scales and see no change or even a slight increase after a week, don’t let this get you down!
Many trainers recommend daily weigh-ins (at the same time and conditions each day) for those wanting to lose weight, from there you should record the daily numbers and get yourself a weekly average. The overall trend should be a steady loss.
TRUST THE PROCESS, if you find that after a few weeks the numbers still haven’t shifted (or headed upwards), then it’s probably time to alter the program.
The summer period is always the hardest time of the year to keep your eyes on the big picture and it's always so easy to get caught out with overeating, indulging and lack of exercise. Here are some of my tips to help you keep in shape and training during the summer period.
ROUTINE & PLANNING TRAINING - Try to keep up with your normal training as much as possible. Plan ahead to make things easier for yourself, grab a friend and go for a run or plan your exercise with your family. There are lots of things you can do with friends and family that count as exercise. Plan a bike ride, beach volleyball or go snorkelling, the festive season is all about celebrating and having fun. Exercise doesn't always have to be in the gym or on a treadmill.
SET PROCESS GOALS - The festive seasons generally consist of a lot of eating and gaining weight, followed by the New Years Resolutions to loose the weight, but this doesn't always have to be the case. Beat the odds this year by setting process goals. Instead of saying you want to loose a certain amount of kilos, set goals such as: I want to do 10 push ups every morning before breakfast. This is the process of loosing the weight, quite often you will feel much better about yourself when you achieve these processed goals. Everyone is completely different when it comes to loosing weight, if you stick with these processed goals over the festive season all of a sudden you will find yourself in better shape than before.
HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING - Quite often you can find yourself slipping out of exercise habits and routines just because you are simply too busy, and find you don't have the time to do what you would normally do. This is a great time to add some high intensity to your training. Once a week (or more if you like) try to think 'Short & Sharp'. Train at a much shorter time at a much higher intensity. Exercising at a high intensity burns fat and speeds up weight loss and these workouts take a much shorter time. The best way to do this can be by interval training for example: 20 seconds sprint then 30 seconds recovery repeat for 10 sprints then have 10 minutes recovery before going again. Depending on how much time you have, 2-3 sets is a very good workout. After adding some high intensity to your program you will head into your new year in better shape than you ever have before.
LEARN TO SAY NO - You don't have to attend every single party or gathering that you are invited to or hear about. Be selective with parties that you attend and try to fit them as best as you can around your normal training routines.
FOOD, HYDRATION & ALCOHOL - It's okay to enjoy yourself during the festive season. In the end it's what it's all about but try to keep it selective and in moderation. If you have two parties in one day, try to be selective in what you eat. It's nice to be able to enjoy desert every now and then but try not to double up on things. Try to keep one party for your meal and the other party for your desert. One of the most important things to do is stay hydrated so we don't misjudge our hunger. I know I'm quite bad with this one. It's important to always carry a water bottle with you and keep sipping at it throughout the day. This will help you with not having the urge to need to snack so much. It will also offset the hunger feeling that comes with the dehydration from over indulging on the alcohol. Dehydration can give the brain the same signals as hunger and you don't want this during the festive season.
Unfortunately in the fitness industry, getting ripped off or swindled is very common. I believe this is the case for two reasons –
The main trend I’m seeing lately is that of the short-term challenges. These are often 6, 8, 10 or 12 weeks in duration and regularly include workout guidelines and a meal plan to follow for that time frame. You will see success stories, before / after photos (a whole different issue) and testimonials of how amazing these programs are.. Don’t get me wrong, these things do work, in the very short term. Take ‘The Biggest Loser‘ for example, they exercise and diet extremely hard for 3-4 months, they lose a LOT of weight, yet once the show has concluded, a high percentage of contestants put massive amounts of weight back on.
‘The Biggest Loser’ is an extreme example of the point, but the question is, why is it so hard to keep weight off after completing one of these challenges? There would be many answers to that question and a lot of exercise professionals would probably answer this one in their own unique ways, but my thinking is this –
My overall message for this article is, if your program lays out your food and exercise for a pre-determined period, instead of actually teaching you how to make the correct choices for yourself, it’s not worth investing your time or money.
Todays article is going to cover exercise technique and its importance. If you are a regular gym goer, you are guaranteed to have witnessed some very questionable exercise technique over the time, and working in this industry for a while now, I can assure you, bad technique is far more apparent than good.
Somebody can lift weights for years with bad form, you might gain a bit of muscle, you might get a bit stronger also, but ultimately, in the end you will run yourself into the ground. You just get better and better and performing incorrect movements and the longer it persists, the harder it is to change these habits.
Here I will list a couple of the more common examples –
Your body has something called ‘muscle memory’ meaning the longer time the incorrect technique is practiced, the harder it is to fix as your body will not want to adjust to the new methods. Not only is correcting technique beneficial in reducing the risk of injury, but it will also ensure you have a faster rate of seeing results as you will be moving in the pattern designed for your body to move and your muscles will work better together as a unit.
Technique issues are not only a problem to those participating in resistance training. Cardio vascular athletes can also be a victim. A huge reason running causes so many injuries is because people don’t realize that there is a lot of technique involved in that too! As great as it is to see people get fit and healthy after being inactive for a large portion or even their whole life, putting time into learning correct technique is definitely recommended prior to chucking on some sneakers and winging it.
If you are exercising in the hopes of achieving a better and healthier body and you are not utilising some form of resistance training, then it’s time to make a change.
I could write an entire article on the benefits of resistance training, but this article is more focussed on the ‘HOW’ rather than the ‘WHY’. I’ll just give you a few dot points –
To start with, I am going to chat about some myths you will hear in regards to weight training, the first and most prominent being ‘I don’t want to lift weights, it’ll make me look too bulky’, this one is a beauty. Let me just say, many people train for years, lifting big weights in the hope of looking bulky, and even then, it sometimes doesn’t happen. A lot more needs to go into your lifestyle for ‘bulk’ to start occurring, especially for females. Lifting weights will improve your body composition, making you look leaner, if you’re getting bulky; it’s time to look at your diet.
Another myth is that you need to get sore after every workout. Here’s a quick explanation, to build muscle it has been known for a long time that you need three components.
Damage has always been number three and the last one you should worry about, some studies are even saying it is not important at all as it effectively reduces our strength essentially robbing us of the amount of training at high intensity that we can do.
So what should you do? I would recommend getting an experienced exercise professional to write you a program, but if you want to have a crack yourself here are some of the major rules.
There are plenty more, but let’s leave them for another day! Remember always train with a friend or somebody who can spot you and have fun!!
There are so many different styles of dieting getting around now; it can be hard to keep up with what is what! Fad diets are both the greatest thing that has ever happened to the health industry as well as the worst, it just depends who you speak to. I thought it would be beneficial to lay out an unbiased outline of some of the more popular diets being used currently so that you can discuss further with your health care professional.
IIFYM (flexible dieting)
Flexible dieting is the process of tracking your macronutrient intake. Macronutrients are the term given to the nutrients responsible for providing calories (protein, carbohydrate, fat). The process involves calculating how many calories your body should consume depending on your goal and then deciding what portion of those calories comes from which macronutrient, for example you may be aiming to eat 2,200 calories per day, 40% of that coming from protein, 35% coming from fats and 25% coming from carbohydrates. You can manually calculate this but there are many apps and programs that can easily do it for you.
The Paleo Diet is quite often referred to as the caveman diet. The overall rule being, if you couldn’t hunt for it or gather it back in the Palaeolithic era, it doesn’t enter your mouth. There is no need to track calories, just ensure that you only consume meats, fish, nuts, vegetables and leafy greens, no grains or processed foods allowed.
A Ketogenic diet is essentially focussed on consuming high amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates (less than 50g per day) with the intention of putting your body into a form of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process your body performs when it begins to burn fat instead of burning carbohydrates, which then produces ketones.
This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting. Following this diet would mean that for five days of the week you eat normally and then for the other two, you would fast, meaning consume between 500-600 calories. This diet has no rules as to ‘what’ you can eat; its focus is more on the ‘when’.
The above listed diets are just an example of many diets and eating plans available.
I would recommend talking to a dietitian before commencing any of the above dietary plans as this article has only covered a brief outline of what is entailed. There may be side effects or contraindications that require exploring with your health care professional. This article is intended to give you an introduction for the next time you hear any of these terms mentioned.
Following on from one of my previous articles ‘Rest and Recovery’, this article is going to outline the benefits of massage therapy on the active person.
The benefits of massage are many and varied, for those living an active lifestyle. Arguably the number one reason people visit a massage therapist is to relieve muscle tension, massage therapy uses a variety of strokes designed to relax muscle tissue and decrease tension throughout the body, this leads to pain relief, and is a great tool for preventing possible injury. Massage therapy improves circulation, reduces stress hormones and promotes joint mobility and flexibility.
It can often times be hard to find a ‘good’ massage therapist. Taking personal preferences out of the situation (male/female, location etc) there are some things you should look for when finding the person who is best going to assist you. Ask questions, do they have a qualification from a reputable source? (A quick Google search will help you decipher that one), what is the extent of their practise? (Cert IV is generally suitable for relaxation massage, anything over that you should be looking for at least a diploma), and the big question, have they had experience with the issue you have been having? If you have a frozen shoulder for example, you probably don’t want to head to somebody who has never seen one of these before.
The last thing I want to cover is WHEN you should see a massage therapist. Most active people will train to the point of injury and then book into their therapist in an attempt to solve their issues. A much better approach is what I recommend to my clients, get in before the injury occurs! Prevention is better than cure. If you are an active person, chances are that your muscles are often tight (more so if you are lazy with your stretching) and regular massages (monthly / six weekly etc) will help to ensure that you don’t get to the point of injury.
Did you know that St.LukesHealth pay a benefit towards Remedial Massage? It’s Easy! Ask them how!
Happy training, and look after yourself!
In my experience lower back pain is by far the most common injury people mention when recording medical history as current aches and pains are taken into consideration whilst devising a training program. This is the reason I have decided to target this injury in my article today.
I would like to touch on the topic of lower back pain in general, too many people get confused between lower back soreness and a lower back injury. If you are an active person, who uses some form of resistance training in your regular exercise program, chances are that you have experienced muscle soreness at some point in your life. Whether you have sore legs from a run you completed or your shoulders are pulling up a bit stiff after a weights session from the day before, I’m guessing everyone has experienced this at some point.
I don’t know what it is but there is something about the back that just makes people panic. Your back is full of muscles just like every other part of your body, meaning it can get sore as any other part of your body can. All I’m saying is just because your back feels a bit tight don’t automatically assume you have injured yourself, if it flares up after exercise (and it’s not a sharp or lasting pain) try and give it some movement and a stretch and see if that relieves any of the discomfort, if not then it may be time to take into consideration some other methods.
Unfortunately as soon as most of us get some discomfort in our lower back the most common response we get, either from our own heads or from the mouths of others, is to give it some rest. Little are people aware that giving it too much rest is often what causes these issues to begin with. Nothing fixes most muscle injuries as much as movement, whether the movement is corrective exercises, strength building exercises or stretching.
By far the most common lower back injury is mechanical pain (stress and strain to the muscles in the vertebral column) this is most often caused by poor posture or improper working conditions. Studies has shown exercise as being the number one treatment for this condition. A properly devised and supervised training plan can not only help you work around your injuries, but help to improve them. Such a program should include increasing abdominal strength, exercises to release hamstring tightness and strengthening the muscles that support the spine.
My tips are for the general population and are not suited to anybody with an ongoing back injury, consulting with your doctor or other health professional before undertaking a new exercise program is always highly recommended.
Whether you are just starting your fitness journey, or you're a cardio buff looking for a way to shake up your training and make it a bit more interesting, introducing a regular kickboxing session into your program is a brilliant option to choose!
Many people associate kickboxing sessions as violent sports, but so many trainers are now running cardio kickboxing which includes absolutely no physical contact whatsoever! So before you get scared, send a message to the trainer and just check, because majority of the time you will have nothing to worry about.
There are different kinds of fitness, it's not uncommon to find brilliant runners that struggle to swim 1 lap of a swimming pool and vice versa. Kickboxing fitness is another animal again! I have personally heard athletes compare a 10km run to a single 5 minute round of kickboxing. Generally these sessions are designed to get a solid high intensity workout done in a short period of time.
Not only does kickboxing serve huge cardiovascular benefits it has numerous other selling points including –