Archive for the ‘Fitness for Life’ Category

The Secret to Dieting Success? Sleep

March 13, 2018

Why-Sleep-Is-Important-for-Weight-Loss
Sure, eating less is the main driver of weight loss, but nailing the right amount of shut-eye each night helps too

Spring is fast approaching. For many of you, that means a race is on the horizon, so it’s time to turn up your training, dial in your diet, and rebuild your trail legs. But as you begin this performance-minded overhaul of your waking hours, you should also consider the one-third of your day where you do nothing at all: your sleeping hours.

“I often find myself in this dilemma where I could wake up early and go for a run or I could get an extra 20 to 30 minutes of sleep,” says Chris Winter, a sleep researcher who consults for various professional teams and author of The Sleep Solution. “Most days, I’d probably be better off getting the sleep.”

Roughly 40 percent of us don’t get seven or more hours of sleep. But logging shut-eye is associated with better fitness and athletic performance. Winter, for example, conducted a study that showed professional baseball players who didn’t get enough sleep had shorter careers in the majors. One reason may be that sleep helps you recover from hard training. “The lion’s share of growth hormone secretion happens during deep sleep,” says Winter.

And while eating less is generally agreed to be the main driver of weight loss, fixing your approach to sleep may actually be one of the easiest ways to cut weight. The number of sleep hours you get is a strong predictor of what and how much you eat. People who slept five hours or fewer, for example, consumed nearly 700 daily calories more than people who got a full night’s sleep, according to research. That’s about seven pieces of bread, three PowerBars, or a McDonald’s quarter-pounder with fries that can up and vanish from your daily diet.

“When a body is sleepy, you try to eat to stay awake,” Winter says. Blame biology. When you’re sleep-deprived, the appetite-regulating hormone leptin drops and the hunger hormone ghrelin spikes. You’re most likely to crave calorie-dense, high-carb foods—stuff like tortilla chips and granola bars—over vegetables.

Incremental weight loss and muscle gain is more important now than ever as you start to ramp up your training. According to research, most people end the winter nearly five pounds heavier than they started it. That extra flab doesn’t just affect your health—it can kill performance. Data from marathon runners even shows that higher body-fat percentage is tied to slower finishing times, even when you’re talking only five pounds.

So get some sleep. The simplest way is to make your bedroom feel like a cave.

#1. Darken Your Room

If you can see anything at all in your bedroom at night, it’s too bright. Light is the main disruptor of the sleep process, Winter says. The solution, he says, is to buy blackout curtains for your windows and rid electronics from your bedroom (or, at least, put tape over their lights). If it’s still too bright, use a sleeping mask.

#2. Kill the Noise

If you fall asleep to the din of Netflix, you’re setting yourself up to have your sleep interrupted, and that can blunt recovery-enhancing processes like growth hormone release, Winter says. Set your TV on a sleep timer. If your room is still loud—looking at you, apartment dwellers—invest in earplugs.

#3. Turn Down the Thermostat

“There’s new research that says temperature may be just as important as light in controlling sleep patterns,” Winter says. Cooler is better. Aim for 66 degrees: A study found that people who slept in a 66-degree room not only slept better but also boosted their ability to metabolize fats and sugars.

 

Written by: Michael Easter
https://www.outsideonline.com/2283696/easiest-way-fix-your-diet-sleep

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Why I Will Choose to be a Little Fat

July 17, 2016

a little fat
How we can all feel good about ourselves, whatever our size.

I saw an article a few weeks ago with this incredible before-and-after set of photos of an overweight, post-baby woman who then became totally “bikini-worthy.”

So I had to click the link, of course, to have a look. No question about it—the “after” photo of this woman was a stunning shot. She looked fit, toned, healthy and gorgeous. I read on, eager to discover what her secret was; what profound magical method it was that she had used to shed however-many-number of pounds.

There it was, a long and detailed tract of the super lean, restrictive diet she had put herself on for a year. No carbs, no dairy, no fruit, no nothing. The sample diet she had shared in the article seemed to consist of little more than hummus, celery and endless amounts of steamed fish. Healthy—yes. Exciting, delicious, fun lifestyle—no.

I decided in that moment that I would choose to continue being a little bit fat.

Yes, I could do with losing at least about 10 pounds so that the Bébé dress I bought earlier this year would fit that much more snugly. But if it’s at the expense of not eating fruit, freshly baked breads, Greek yogurt and honey for a year, well then, I choose emphatically to continue being 10 pounds more than I should be.

Science is a wonderful thing. It’s revealed so many revolutionary ways of understanding the way our bodies work and the effects of new foods, super foods, bad foods and good foods on our health. It’s sad though that “health” has so often come to be equated only and necessarily with thinness.

The glut of diet programs, weight-loss fads, fat-burning supplements and specialized bikini-body workouts are now as much a part of our daily consumer choices as the aisles of (“forbidden”) food in supermarkets. There seems to be no excuse not to be “healthy” (read: thin) given the huge number of aids, YouTube videos and literature on the subject.

Articles like the one I read aren’t necessarily always an encouraging, inspiring thing. They don’t just tell the story of an overweight person who chose discipline and a healthier lifestyle. There is often also a more sinister sub-narrative that raises its eyebrows at the reader and challenges her—“If this person can lose xx pounds, why can’t you?”—even if the reader may not actually be unhealthy or overweight.

The titles of these articles alone are almost always weight-centered, like “I lost 120 pounds, ask me how!” or “How one man lost 200 pounds in a year.” Rarely are these articles presented through the perspective of someone choosing a healthier lifestyle, discarding bad nutritional habits or incorporating fitness into their daily routine.

There it is: the continuous, unceasing reminder that we should all be striving toward thinness. From cabbage soup fasts, to low-everything diets, to 20-minute fat-blasting workouts, the desirable end result is usually almost and entirely about becoming become a thinner version of ourselves.

I am not ignoring the fact that for a percentage of people who are facing the health risks of being dangerously overweight, losing weight is a part of becoming healthier. I don’t discount that and understand how important it is in these cases to count calories and lost inches.

Problems arise when that very same method is being adopted by people who aren’t facing any health risks—who may, in fact, be completely healthy, fit people—but who still feel that they would be healthier if only they were five, 10 or 20 pounds lighter.

So I’d like to suggest flipping things around a bit; looking at things through another lens.

Let’s focus on being healthy—and just that.

Logically and biologically, it would follow that by following a healthy way of living, eating and exercising, everything else will find its proper balance. We would lose weight if we needed to lose weight, we’d gain muscle if we needed to gain muscle, we’d balance out all the other things that come from not being healthy—stress, cholesterol, diabetes, poor complexion, hair loss etc.

And what does it mean to live healthily? In the face of all the new diet and exercise schemes, I think that actually, we all already know what it means to live a healthy, balanced, feel-totally-awesome lifestyle, without having to follow any fad or buy any specialized products.

Intuitively, deep down inside, we do know the basics of living well. We know when we’ve had enough to eat, what kinds of foods are good for us, what makes us feel good and what makes us go into a slump, how much exercise we need to do, when to stop when we’re exhausted and when to rest.

We know this not just intellectually, but physically—our bodies are always telling us what we need to do; we just need to listen.

One’s body will tell us when it feels like a massive binge on Chinese take-out. It will also tell us when it’s had enough so we don’t insist on finishing every last fortune cookie. Our bodies will take us dancing, running, swimming, trampolining and playing; but they will also make us rest and sleep.

I read something beautiful a while ago, about how we shouldn’t change our bodies so we can love them.

Instead, we should create change in the way we treat ourselves because we love our bodies.

Ultimately this is about focusing on health: the physical health of our bodies and the emotional health of how we see and relate to our bodies. We love our bodies—this temporary shell on loan to us for this lifetime—so we treat them well, nourish them, feed them, move them, hug them, stretch then, let them dance, discipline them, give them a treat sometimes and most of all enjoy them.

Enjoying our bodies is to indulge in the beautiful, sensual things like good food, good sex and the rush of an energetic run in the mornings. But also, I think enjoyment is about ensuring our bodies are at their prime health so that they truly get the most out of these things and appreciate, at our body’s fullest capacity, the good food, good sex and energetic run.

This is true whatever size we’re at, whether we’re trying to lose weight or gain weight, whether we’re severely overweight or dangerously underweight.

This is true because it’s a matter of health and of helping our bodies be at their optimum functioning levels, not merely a matter of what we look like.

Yes, ideally, I would still like the scales to tell me that I am 10 pounds lighter and to see my dress size drop to a single digit. But then, I have to ask myself what it really is that I’d like to get out of being that much thinner. I don’t have any illnesses, I live a happy, active life, and I’ve been medically cleared for good, prime health.

So what is it? To be more attractive? To feel more energetic? To turn more heads? To tighten that gap between me and the Victoria’s Secret models?

I realize now that if I only just went back to focusing on being healthy, everything else would find its rightful place. When I’m feeling healthy, my skin glows, my hair is shiny and I’m a face full of radiance. When I’m feeling fit after a big run and deep session of yoga, I’m also confident, joyful and there’s an extra bounce in my step.

Automatically, without being a single ounce lighter, I realize now that being healthy alone is enough to be more attractive, feel more energetic, turn more heads and gain almost as many admirers as the Victoria’s Secret angels.

With a focus on health, instead of weight, I find too that I enjoy life a whole lot more. I eat without guilt and play with abandon. I move and shift and indulge the very real needs of my body instead of spending good hours of my day fussing over diet plans, exercise schedules and meal replacement shakes.

It isn’t only when I achieve a vision of thinness that I am deemed healthy and attractive.

I am attractive because I am living healthily.

And if that means I shall always be a little bit fat, with a few extra pounds to shed, then that’s exactly what I shall be.

Written Via 
on Sep 29, 2013 for http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/09/why-i-will-always-choose-to-be-a-little-bit-fat-jamie-khoo/

Fitness starting with your Feet

November 29, 2015

Our feet and ankles are very important, considering we couldn’t stand, walk, run, or roundhouse kick someone in the face without them. Unfortunately, our lower limbs tend to be neglected unless something goes wrong.

Strong and flexible feet, ankles, and calves provide our base for stable movement, and are essential for performing our daily activities without pain or strain. In this article, I will give you a brief introduction to the the basic anatomy and movements in the ankle and foot (just enough for a good familiarity, but not enough for you to perform surgery…). Then, I’ll discuss the primary importance of working on this area, and finally, how to incorporate exercises for these areas into your training routine.

Your lower leg is made up of the bigger tibia on the inside and the smaller fibula on the outside, then connects lower down to the talus and the calcaneus (heel), then to the five small bones of the instep and the metatarsals and phalanges (your toes).

Lots of different sized ligaments connect the bones together for stability, along with various muscles from the big calf to the small muscles that move your toes.

Foot Anatomy

The ankle and foot is made to move in a great variety of angles to provide stability and dexterity, carrying us over all types of terrain from soft sand to rocky ground. Your ankle is not like a hinge on a door, and your foot isn’t just one big lump you slide your socks onto.

All the large and small joints in this area work together to provide this nimbleness, but only if we keep them moving like they are supposed to!

Your Lower Legs Work Hard for You – Here’s What They Do

Jump RopeOur calves (the bigger gastrocnemius and smaller, deeper soleus muscles) point the foot down, giving us the power to rise up on our toes and assist with running and jumping. But even with the foot flat on the ground, our calves provide stability in squatting, lunging, and other big movements.

On the front and sides of the shin are the anterior tibialis, posterior tibialis, and peronei muscles, which provide stability like stirrups and slings, and also the fine motor control that keeps us balanced and steady.

Down into the foot are many small muscles that control our arches and toes. These foot intrinsic muscles are the most at risk for atrophy from disuse when we don’t actively get out of our shoes and move our feet as we’re meant to do.

What Can Go Wrong in the Foot and Ankle

With all this considered, it’s easy to see the complexity of large and small muscles and joints working together to keep us upright and walking, as well as running, jumping, and balancing.

The coordination and differentiation of all these possible movements is key to foot and ankle control, and to moving freely and gracefully through your feet.

It’s also likely why we hear so many complaints about stiff ankles and feet.

If the smaller muscles are too weak to support your foot and ankle, your body reacts by increasing the tension where it can, in the bigger muscles. The tightness in the calf and ankle is then a protective mechanism that stretching may help a bit, but improved control and strength in the foot would solve.

Another common issue people experience is collapse arches in the feet. This is caused by poor mobility in the midfoot, along with weak posterior tibialis and intrinsic muscles. With improved mobility and strength in these areas, the arches should correct themselves over time.

Below we’ll discuss a variety of exercises with an emphasis on coordination and dexterity to wake up dormant muscles and restore proper mobility and control over this important area.

8 Exercises for Building Strength and Motor Control in the Feet and Ankles

The exercises we show here have an emphasis on active movement in various angles and ranges of motion.

A lot of people don’t fully explore the movement our feet and ankles are capable of, and this results in stiffness and weakness. The first step is knowing that it is actually possible to move this way, and the next and best step is to practice!

 

Below, we’ll look at each of these exercises in detail so you can understand the mechanics and benefits of each exercise, as well as programming recommendations.

1. Foot Circles with Toes Flexed (Curled)

Foot 1This movement concentrates on the small muscles in the arch of the foot. These foot intrinsicssupport the foot, and control over them means improved control and dexterity, which is so important in graceful and athletic movement.

It’s a simple movement – it’s just making a circle! – but the addition of flexing your toes makes this surprisingly difficult and can lead to muscle cramping in the beginning. Start off by not flexing your toes strongly and do the circles slowly.

Do 10-15 reps in each direction for 2-3 sets.

2. Toe and Ankle Movement Coordination

Foot 2Here is another simple movement that works on coordinating the use of the muscles of the lower leg and foot. Simply lift your foot up and down through your full range of motion and add the toe movements with it as well.

The coordination is toe extension (lifting toes upward) as you lift your foot upward, and toe flexion (curling in) as you point your foot down. And the other variation is then flexing your toes down as you lift your foot upward, and extending your toes as you point your foot down.

Do 10 repetitions of both variations for 2 sets.

3. Diagonal Patterns

Foot 3These are combined motion patterns of either your foot lifting up and rolling inward and then pointing down and outward; or your foot lifting up and rolling outward and then pointing down and inward. You are essentially tracing an X with your foot as you work on the coordination of ankle and foot motions.

This can be another surprisingly difficult exercise and is extremely useful for learning how your ankle can move.

Do 10-20 reps for 2-3 sets.

4. Rolling up Onto the Toes

Foot 4This is the first exercise where we are putting weight onto our feet.

The goal here is to combine a loaded active stretch to the ankle and foot together. It’s a dynamic move, so don’t hold too long in any position, instead go slowly through the full range and back again to encourage active movement through all the positions.

Do 5-8 reps for 3 sets.

5. Squats with Ankle Rotation

Foot 5In this exercise, don’t worry if you can’t drop down into the full deep squat position. The purpose of this exercise is to practice rolling on the inside and outside of your feet while weightbearing in a “compromising” position.

If you were to run and unexpectedly roll onto the side of your foot, you’d likely get a nasty ankle sprain. The exercise shown here is a progressive way to practice these common stresses to your feet and ankles. You can control the pressure and stress of the movement and use it to strengthen these positions to make it less likely to be severely injured when it unexpectedly happens.

Do 5-8 reps for 3 sets.

6. Ankle Rolling Side-to-Side

Ankle RollingHere we move to standing and up on the ball of the foot as we practice rolling our ankle from side to side.

Again, it’s better to do this while we are controlling the forces so we can strengthen them, rather than having it happen randomly and possibly causing injury.

Do 5-8 reps for 3 sets.

7. Weightbearing Ankle Circles on the Heel/Ball of Foot

Foot 7Continuing in standing, we’ll now practice ankle circles while placing as much weight as we are comfortable with on either our heels or on the ball of the foot.

There are different forces and strains involved in the two variations, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with both.

Do 10 reps in each direction for 2 sets.

8. Calf Raises

Calf RaisesAnother classic exercise, this is the most direct way of strengthening the calf muscles in their full range of motion from a full stretch to a full contraction. You can adjust your intensity by how much you hold on with your hands and by eventually adding weight to your body through a backpack or holding dumbbells.

If this is too much for you, then work both feet at the same time or start on a flat floor versus a step to reduce the range of motion until you get stronger and can handle strengthening from the full stretch.

Do 8-12 reps for 3 sets.

Fundamental Calf Stretches for Flexible Lower Legs

Calf StretchA very common complaint we hear from people is their lack of ankle flexibility.

Many bodyweight exercise moves, especially as you move into intermediate and advanced work, such as the pistol squat and various locomotive patterns, require good ankle flexibility.

The calf muscles are a very dense muscle group because we use them constantly – even just in standing and walking. And the ankle joints,  because of the lack of variety of motion throughout the day, tend to be stiff and immobile. This can require aggressive stretching, in terms of load, not intensity, to achieve improvements in range of motion.

A classic and effective exercise is using a step or sturdy block for your foot so you can drop your heel down to stretch.

It’s simple, not fancy, but works extremely well if you are consistent and approach it the right way. I recommend doing this in shoes, in this way you can place the middle of your foot on the edge of the step comfortably for the stretch. This is protective of your foot arch and allows you to put more weight into the stretch.

 

The variations are with your knee locked out straight and with your knee bent. The straight leg version emphasizes more of a gastrocnemius stretch, and the bent knee version gives the calf muscles a bit of slack and thus puts more of a stretch in the ankle joint.

The calf responds well to long holds of stretching, so 1 to 2 minutes for 3 sets should be a minimum goal. Stretch before active movement such as the strength and motor control exercises above so that your body learns to adjust and retain the new range of motion from the stretching.

Self-Massage Techniques for Healthy Feet, Ankles, and Calves

Self MassageA bit of self massage work is very useful in the lower leg and foot to loosen some tension prior to stretching and exercise.

The massage itself doesn’t make you more flexible, but it does temporarily help you feel less tight and gives you a window of opportunity to stretch further with less discomfort.

Just make sure not to overdo it, the trick is to apply just enough pressure to ease tension, not push as hard as you can to force it to happen!

 

Starting at the foot, work along the sole along the contours of the bones and feel the small muscles in you feet, keep the pressure light at first then gradually increase the pressure. If you are doing it correctly you’ll notice an easing off of tension in the muscles. You can then add more pressure and continue if you feel you need it, or move on to the next area.

Move on to the sides of your shin, into the calf and the front of your shin. The calf can be especially sore to massage deeply, so be aware of this and go gradually until you get accustomed to the pressure.

You can also use a ball to change the pressure and get into the muscles from a different angle.

Along with being mindful of gradually increasing pressure, you should limit your time on self massage to no more than 5 minutes. Too much of a good thing is still too much. And it is much more valuable to spend the majority of your time on active exercise.

Keep Your Feet Healthy for a Lifetime

Our ankles and feet are too often under-exercised and taken for granted considering how much we rely on them everyday. It’s no surprise that this neglect of their full range of motion and total potential for coordinated movement can lead to stiffness and weakness, and perhaps even pain.

This article focused on simple, yet effective exercises that not only lessen the chances of potential injury, but may also reverse some damage that has already been done (barring any true injuries in need of surgery or more intensive therapy).

Spend 5-10 minutes on these exercises every day, and you’re likely to feel your feet getting stronger, more flexible, and more able to handle variations in movement.

 

Article Sourced from: https://gmb.io/feet/

 

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Exercise as a Tonic

November 24, 2015

exercise tonic

Like a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, a dose of exercise is the best tonic for mental (and physical) wellness.

Lets put aside the obvious medical conditions that we already know are benefitted by exercise and look at another condition –  menopause.

Menopause  is a very challenging time for women with a lot of hormonal, physical and mental changes occurring at once without warning and often leaving the woman with no idea when they will end.  Trying to ‘stay sane’ during this period of a woman’s life is how some women describe their battle with a body that is not doing what it has done all their lives. Menopause brings with it a body that is laying down fat in different areas; a body that the woman doesn’t often recognise as the one she’s ‘grown up’ with.   The benefits of exercise on our mental state during this time, can have an overriding effect on the physical symptoms that may present.

Exercise, relaxation and breathing exercises assist in helping the menopausal woman feel that she is taking back some control of the unpredictability of her menopausal symptoms.  The relaxation and the breathing give her strategies to deal with the mood swings and hot flushes. The exercise (and also dietary guidance) assists with the changes in her body weight and body fat placement and the stretching helps relieve discomfort in joints and muscles that often feel stiffer through this stage of life.

Never underestimate the benefit of a walk in the park or on the beach or just around the block, a good stretching session,  and/or an upside down yoga class.  Be proactive and make exercise your tonic to wellness.

At Coffs Coast Health Club we can really help you achieve the benefits I’ve described in this article. Give Glen or Jacqui a call on 66586222 for a free chat and let’s see how we can help you.

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett

March 10, 2015

If your mind is dusty and your joints are rusty, your teeth are worn and your cloths are musty, you might just be classified as being over 50 – doom, gloom and despair to match your spreading mid section and greying hair.   Read any articles on ageing and this is the forecast – not particularly inspiring.

How many of you are able to get on the floor with their grandkids? Perhaps when we are gardening your ease of movement or duration of activity is a bit harder now, and as much as you are enjoy getting outside you are just having a little more trouble moving the mattock, shovel or wheel burrow.

As we age we find that our organ systems, such as the visual, auditory and endocrine systems, appear to decline with age. A decline in water content of our ligaments and tendons contribute to inflexibility and may further limit our physical abilities. Our basal metabolic rate (the amount of kilojoules burnt at rest) is clearly affected mostly be the decline in muscle mass, the individuals lifestyle and underlying health. Although there are limitations, a decline in physical ability is not inevitable. Studies show that healthy individuals of all ages can increase their muscular strength and endurance to a proportionate degree. In fact, the strength in a study group of healthy men and women ages 62 to 84 improved by as much as 57% over a short training period.

Here are some strategies to overcome these age related generalisations:

  1. Get active, be active and stay active. It’s never too late to get moving. It is never too late to do some strength training to rebuild that lost muscle density and in turn perk up your metabolic rate so you can literally have your cake and eat it too.
  2. Stay hydrated by drinking loads of water. Water is a miracle worker. It will plump your cells, flush away the bad stuff and keep you lubricated.
  3. Eat life enhancing foods.  Before you reach for your food ask yourself is it going to enhance my bodies energy, fill me with goodness or clog my arteries, slow down my mind, fill out my gut and clog up my bowels?
  4. Activate your brain.  Don’t let your brain atrophy with lack of use.  Take on new challenges, learn a language become a Facebook follower, explore the internet and keep your mind open and alive.
  5. Most importantly choose your attitude.  No matter what age you are, you can choose to wake up and have a great day or a bad day.  Deal with life positively and don’t let it drag you down. With age comes wisdom – use it after all you’ve earned it.

For any further information contact Glen on 66586222