Tag Archives: fitness

10 Weeks til I Flip

22 Aug

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I have come to the end of my second full week of training and I’m loving it. I have experienced a few hurdles that have knocked my confidence this week, but I have managed to turn it around with the help of a few encouraging words here and there, and knowing I have the support of a fantastic team behind me helps a lot. Positive thinking and sheer determination is what is going to get me to the end, so head up and lets carry on!!

This week I have trained three times at The Lomax (www.lomaxpt.com), with three different trainers, each pushing me in a different way. I have had one core & endurance session, and two strength & power sessions. I did some very light cardio and stretching on my day off and finished the week with an exhausting gymnastics training session.

My strength session this week taught me a hell of a lot. I had the extremely talented Jordan Lue on my case and i thoroughly enjoyed our session. He is passionate about performance enhancement which is perfect for me. He watched my squat and discovered that due to my large range of motion, my hips and back were losing form as I reached the floor, and my glutes were disengaging therefore putting heaps of pressure on my already weak lower back. He assessed where my form was lost and had me do numerous sets to that point, making sure I pushed my knees out as far as possible both on the way down and up. Once he was happy that I was maintaining correct form, I was able to start squatting lower again and sure enough, if I did what he said and pushed my knees out and hips back, I was performing them with the correct form!

Sometimes it takes a new person to look at your posture and technique for them to pick up on something that no one else has. I think this will really help me as I go forward with training.

In gymnastics it is extremely important to be powerful in executing your skills to give you enough height to perform the entire movement correctly. I have been focusing on the power aspect of training in my olympic lifting sessions, focusing on a slow decent before coming up as fast as I can. Through engaging my core and glutes, and pressing my feet hard into the ground, I am able to do this without losing form which is important for injury prevention. It’s taking me a while to get the whole movement pattern correct but I am getting closer and closer with each session. With Olu Adepitan, olympic lifting legend, I have been working on getting the technique right for a ‘clean’ using a barbell starting at 20kg working my way up to 35kg so far. I am feeling more and more confident with this now as I progress through the stages. He is sure this is still too light for me and threatening to increase the weight next time, so I am sure this confidence will be short lived!!

Gymnastics training this week has involved plyometric work, with lots of jumping and quick explosive movements preparing for events such as vault and floor. I have been trying out some new skills to add to my routines, hoping to increase my difficulty score overall. We are still in the trial and error stage with choosing the skills to compete, with hopefully not too much error going on. It won’t be until closer to the competition that routines will start going together, for now it’s about learning and perfecting each individual skill in isolation, slowly building up the connections.

Next week I am taking an annual trip to cornwall for a week of surfing. I was initially looking forward to a week off but I soon realised that there is no point in taking a big step backwards when we only have 10 weeks to go. Johnny and Olu have put together a list of gruelling exercises to do whilst I am there so watch this space for sand sprints and other fun things I will be doing.

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Alcohol and Drugs During Pregnancy

20 Feb

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ALCOHOL

Putting it simply, anything that goes in your mouth goes straight into your blood stream and is passed through the placenta and into your baby! When you think about it like that, it’s like feeding your baby a cider or glass of wine, and that doesn’t sound so sensible does it?

Your baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and even then it does not fully mature until very late into the pregnancy so your baby can’t process alcohol like you can, and too much exposure to it can seriously harm their development. It is even suggested to limit your alcohol intake before your become pregnant to get it out of your system as much as possible. It can help conception too.

During your pregnancy, it is advised by the NHS to limit your intake to less than 2 units of alcohol per week if any at all. 2 units is equal to a pint of beer or 1 standard size glass of wine. It is absolutely imperative to avoid getting drunk. Getting drunk changes the way you think, you may do things you wouldn’t normally do which could harm the baby. Your vision may become distorted and your balance negatively effected giving you more chance of falling over and harming yourself and your baby.

If too much alcohol is consumed, the baby may face problems associated with FAS – foetal alcohol syndrome. Children with this syndrome can suffer from restricted growth, facial abnormalities, learning and behavioural disorders.

Some tips to avoiding the alcohol 

  • Finding a non alcoholic drink you really like and can drink while your friends are having alcohol.
  • Finding places to go with your friends/other half that don’t involve drinking but you can still have fun.
  • Carry a picture of your scan in your bag when you go out to remind yourself why you are doing this when temptation starts to creep in.

DRUGS

Illegal drugs such as cannabis, ecstacy, cocaine and heroin can have very harmful effects on your unborn child. If you currently use them you need to seek advice on the best way to stop using them. Depending on the frequency of use, it can also be just as harmful to stop abruptly as the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous too. Talk to a doctor or relevant health professional about the best plan of action for you. Don’t feel embarrassed to tell your doctor about your drug habits, they won’t judge you as they want to help you and this is the time to get it sorted if any. Don’t leave it a second longer.

Some legal medication can be harmful to your baby too and this can include some standard painkillers so it is important you are aware of what you are allowed to take during this time. If you have a long term condition such as underactive thyroid, diabetes, asthma etc just check with your doctor that what you are taking is safe during your pregnancy. The medication to treat these long term conditions can often be fine but it is better to check anyway.

Some medication that IS safe to take during your pregnancy 

  • Paracetemol
  • Most antibiotics
  • Dental treatment
  • Local anaesthetics
  • Some types of vaccinations e.g flu and tetanus
  • Nicotine replacement therapy

The trick is to always ask your doctor if you are unsure. They are more than happy to advise you on your health and I’m sure you would prefer to pester your doctor than to discover that you’ve been taking something you should have been late into your pregnancy!

4 musts during pregnancy

21 Aug

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Pregnancy is full of amazing surprises. What your body is capable of is incredible. You are carrying on with your normal life whilst inside you another life is being created! You can even forgive your body for making you feel tired and nauseous sometimes when you stop and think how hard it is working to create a safe environment for your child to grow in.

Now, you must look after your body while it is busy doing all of this. There are a couple of things that absolutely cannot be forgotten…

1. REST
This does not mean put your feet up all day long watching TV, this means listening to your body and making sure you’re getting enough sleep. Your body is working harder than ever now and the least you can do to help it, it getting a full nights sleep as much as possible.

2. EAT
You may have never even thought about your diet, or maybe you’ve been on all sorts of “diets” in your lifetime but now things are different. This is not the time for FAD diets, this is the time to eat the foods that are going to help your baby grow and help give you the energy that you need to get through each day. (Another post will go through this in more detail)

3. EXERCISE
Like with dieting, you may have exercised all your life or this may be a foreign concept to you. Either way, it is extremely important to keep your body as strong as possible throughout pregnancy. The main reason for this is to maintain a strong posture. This will help to avoid any issues with back pain when your centre of balance changes with the growing bump. The other reason to build strength and stamina is to prepare for birth. This may seem a long way off, but labour can last a very long time and you need to have the mental and physical strength to get through it. (More exercise tips in posts to come)

4. TALK
As I mentioned earlier, pregnancy can come with all sorts of surprises, some good and some scary. The important thing is to talk to people around you, whether they are professionals or your nearest and dearest. Feeling scared during pregnancy is completely normal but there is no point in going through it alone and spending your pregnancy feeling unhappy. This should be an exciting time for you so make sure you spend it with supportive people around you.

 

I will be posting more about helpful tips and advice during pregnancy, involving diet and exercise so keep your eyes peeled and please pass this on to anyone you know who is pregnant or even thinking about trying for a baby!

 

Maintain that holiday feeling

5 Aug

 

 

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I know only too well that amazing feeling when you wake up on a summer holiday and have no cares in the world. The only decisions that you need to make is what beach to go to, where to read your book or what to have for breakfast! After a few days of catching up on sleep, your body starts to go into relaxation mode, refreshing the body from all the stresses of work life and helping it recover to it’s ideal state.

Do not let this go to waste, you want to keep this feeling for as long as possible. There are a few easy ways to prevent your body going back to it’s pre holiday state…

  • Get as many early nights as possible
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid processed, sugary foods
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Drink lots of water
  • Keep your food as fresh as possible
  • Exercise

All these things make up the list of what we all know we should do anyway but after a holiday is can seem more important. You want to maintain that refreshed holiday feel if you can because this is when your body is least stressed.

If you revert straight back to late nights, early starts, boozy nights out, eating comfort foods and drinking coffee to get you through the day, then your body is going to lose those holiday benefits very quickly and you will soon be craving another week away!

Don’t waste it, treat your body well and it will treat you nicely in return! 

 

Caffeine – good or bad for you?

14 May

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As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant and a drug and we are all warned that if we consume too much of it, we are at risk of addiction and the associated health problems. However, the reason most of us are confused at how much we are supposed to have is because there are contradicting articles telling you that caffeine will help lower your chance of getting cancer and suffering from heart disease etc. Too much information leads us to huge confusion and so I am attempting to simplify some of the information out there about caffeine and the effects it has on your health – both the good and the bad.

 

  • Caffeine can be a mood booster. It stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine which activates the area of your brain responsible for productivity and alertness. The amount it may boost your mood and the time it lasts for depends on the amount of sugar consumed with the caffeine. For example, if your put a lot of sugar in your coffee, your mood may be boosted a fair amount however once your blood sugar level drops down again, you will notice a pretty sudden decrease in alertness and productivity!
  • Coffee has been proven to help lower the risk of oral cancer. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that there is a strong connection between the increased caffeinated coffee consumption and the lower death rate from oral cancer. Research is ongoing on this topic.
  • Having too much of anything is a bad move and it is no different with caffeine. Too much of it can cause nervousness, “the shakes”, insomnia, irritability, upset stomach, muscle tremors and irregular heart beats. Everyone will have a different tolerance so the amount of caffeine that works for your body will be individual to you but any more than 500mg (equal to 4 cups of coffee) can produce these effects on most people, especially if you are not used to taking in this much caffeine.
  • A healthy individual should try to remain under 300mg of caffeine a day which equals around 3 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea. Pregnant women should limit their intake to under 200mg and children should consume no more than 50mg daily. Remember caffeine isn’t only in coffee and tea, it is also in sugary energy drinks that you may give your children.
  • Caffeine may NOT help weight loss!! Although many people use the zero-calorie coffee as a diet aid, research has not confirmed that it helps with weight loss. Caffeine does temporarily speed up metabolism leading to a few more calories being burned, however it also leads to the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is linked to weight gain and of course stress!! Research has also shown that the extra calories burned does not equate to an amount that will drastically help with weight loss.
  • Be careful which source of caffeine you choose! Health professionals always prefer you the get your caffeine fix from a natural source such as coffee or tea. Energy drinks are design to give you a quick boost of energy, and generally do just that, however the amount of sugar that is added to them can add up to about 70g. That is the equivalent to 17 teaspoons of sugar. These energy drinks can be dangerous to consume because as well as the huge amounts of caffeine and sugar in them, there are additives and stimulants that are thrown in there as well. These can cause the shakes, anxiety, irregular heart beat and also decrease the effect of any prescription drugs or antibiotics being taken.
  • Caffeine is used by athletes for exercise benefits. When caffeine is consumed in a fasted state, it stimulates the release of fatty acids into the blood therefore making it the preferable source of energy over carbohydrates or lean muscle.

The list of positive and negative effects that coffee has on our health is ongoing and there is no way I could talk about it all today but I hope those couple of facts have perhaps taught you something new, or cleared up something you weren’t quite sure on. We do not have a clear cut answer to the question in my title, the answer is that in moderation there should be no problem but you have to find the right amount for you as an individual!

Enjoy your day, stay healthy, stay active and … watch that caffeine intake!

“psychology” of exercise

13 Mar

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Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the psychology of exercise and how it can prevent people getting the results they are working for.

How many times have you found yourself saying the following things…

I’ve been to the gym today so it’s ok if I have another slice of cake

I’ll make up for that curry with a run tomorrow

I had a really great training session today so it won’t matter if I have a few drinks (and crisps, and a kebab…)

The truth is that if you don’t change all your bad habits and not just the ones in the gym, you won’t get anywhere near the results you are hoping and working for! If you are working towards the goal of becoming leaner then you want to be creating a calorie deficit. Burning off calories in the gym is the first step but then if you eat more because you “deserve” it,  you may be bringing it back to equal again. You may not gain any weight, and if your goal is maintenance then fantastic but if you are looking to change your body then you have to address it from all aspects of your life!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the hour you spend in the gym is a magic hour and will change your body! It is the first step but if you don’t change your diet and lifestyle it is a wasted step!

I’m not saying that you need to forbid yourself any snacks or enjoyable treats but just think carefully about why you put in those hours at the gym when you next go to grab the second slice of cake or order your second beer!! Is it worth it?!