16 December 2016

6 Ways I Balance Indulgence & Fitness over Chritsmas

   Christmas is one of my favourite times of year - the magical decorations, the time spent with loved ones & of course THE FOOD! But with so much delicious temptation about, it's hard not to over-indulge now & worry about it later. Or there's the other route - be super strict, avoid all temptation, stay fit & not necessarily enjoy Christmas fully. Neither sound like the best idea to me! So that's why I thought I'd share with you my plan for this Christmas - how I intend to both enjoy my festive favourites & stay lean throughout.
1. GUILT This is the first & most crucial point to address. If you feel guilty every time you eat a mince pie, that needs to change. This negativity will only drag you down. If you work hard, see that mince pie as a reward instead. For example, if you train hard & eat healthy 90% of the year, a few festive treats won't hurt. Equally that doesn't give you the excuse to over indulge for the entirety of December. That brings us onto my next point...
2. Balance Just the same as any other time of the year; balancing your energy intake (food) with the energy your body needs is key. Try to stay consistent with your training, or even increase it slightly to allow for a greater intake of food. Or perhaps eat with a small 200-300 calorie deficit most days, if you know a big meal is coming up, to allow you the room to indulge. If you prefer small, frequent treats instead, try keeping to the calorie deficit in general, but adding a little Christmas treat each day - like a portion of chocolate. Just be sure to not ruin the excitement of the Christmas meal; just because there's little over a week till Christmas, don't use it as an excuse to continuously over indulge, or when Christmas day comes, the food won't seem quite as appealing. So just chose your treats & your indulgent meals wisely.
3. Schedule in Exercise Write the days & times down in your diary of when you WILL work out. Be realistic though, but stick to these appointments with yourself. If you have to miss one, it's important not to beat yourself up about it though, but continue going to all your other sessions. A good way to ensure you'll work out, is to book into a class or with a personal trainer - then it's harder to cancel! Also consider adding an extra training session into your week, or upping the difficulty of your training - for example add HIIT training or weights, to use your time most efficiently. 
4. Hydrate Be sure to drink a lot of water over the festive period - not only does is help flush out toxins, but it can also curb snacking. Lemon water in particular is fantastic for relieving bloating & has amazing health benefits. Green tea is another fantastic option. But it's not just about what we should be drinking, but also what we shouldn't. It's good to be aware of just how much sugar & calories are in our favourite drinks - hot chocolates, coffees, juices & fizzy drinks. Even if you're drinking a diet coke - there may not be as many calories, but you'll still feel bloated from too much fizz. Once again, it's all about balance.
5. Plan Plan to be going to the gym 'x' amount of times a week. Plan what you'll be eating for a normal, healthy day of food. Plan when you are most likely to indulge - Christmas day, work party, visiting friends etc. Then you know how to plan the balance of keeping fit & enjoying your food. A few good tips here are not to stock the cupboards with lots of unneeded Christmas snacks - only buy the food you've planned to eat. Then if you want to treat yourself to a mince pie, you can, as you didn't just that afternoon help yourself to a whole box of Quality Street for the cupboard! Also if you absolutely love - for example apple crumble - you can plan ahead, to find a healthier option to make, so you can enjoy it guilt free. But as much as planning ahead is a fantastic idea, if you fancy a spontaneous Christmas walk or an early morning jog, do it!
6. Drink Some people find staying away from alcohol easy, others enjoy a drink with family & friends, especially around the festive period. You can still drink alcohol & be fit - just like you can still eat a donut & be fit - it's all about moderation. So chose wisely when you want to celebrate the most, don't just attend every club night, because it's Christmas themed. Also stick to clear spirits, the purer & higher the quality the better, mixed with soda or tonic water, as these types of drinks will be the least damaging to your fitness. Prior to drinking, be sure to eat high protein based meals, as fat & carbohydrates can be easily stored by the body whilst drinking, as your body will be prioritising burning the energy from the alcohol, in order to remove it from the body first. Another great tip is to order water - if after every 2 alcoholic drinks, you have water, your helping to not only keep your body hydrated, but to also remove the alcohol toxins from your body sooner.
   So they are my top tips & how I am going to do Christmas this year. Remember it is all about the balance - if you exercise hard & eat well, you can also treat yourself, completely guilt free.
   P.S. So today is Save the Children's annual Christmas Jumper Day! So if you haven't already, it's not too late to jump in your jumper & donate to Save the Children! christmasjumperday.org

13 December 2016

Your Body Was Made to Move - Q&A with Matthew Miller

   Following yesterday's post on the importance of taking care of your body, in order to keep active, I've asked former bodybuilder & creator of Broga - Matthew Miller - his advice on the topic. Though only a short Q&A, he offers invaluable advice on how to stay fit & the importance of yoga when caring for your body!
"Yoga can be revolutionary in not only increasing other sports performances but prolonging the lifespan of an athlete & preventing injury"
 Hi Matt, thank you for chatting with me today. I know my readers are all keen to know your advice on keeping active & injury free, but first, I'd love to know how the transition from weight training to yoga came about?
   Yoga was never even discussed, much less on the table as an option when I was playing Football in California. Even when I later moved into competitive bodybuilding, the emphasis was only on aesthetics & never on mobility, injury prevention or longevity. I only made the transition when I was working on a television show called Fat Fighters on Channel 4 & was asked to be the first male ambassador in Europe for Lululemon. It was only then, with the help of a private tutelage from two of the female ambassadors (& yoga superstars in their own right) that I had a lightbulb moment of what yoga could do for someone like me.

I couldn't agree more! So do you find yoga helps aid other aspects of your training? For example mixing yoga & weight training?
   Yoga is an invaluable tool for not just career athletes but to any sport minded person. Most sports are rooted in becoming highly efficient with very specific movements. This is ostensibly at the expense of all the rest of the range of motion not used in the activity. And it is these imbalances that are typically the cause of pain & injury that develop. Yoga can be revolutionary in not only increasing other sports performances but prolonging the lifespan of an athlete & preventing injury.
As for those post exercise aches & pains, what would you recommend to keep active & ensure you're ready to take on your next workout?
   Although I like the idea of a quick 5 minute pre or post workout stretch, it is in no way addressing muscle & joints as they need. Stretching is a dedicated activity that requires the same level of attention paid to the actual sport you do. Dancers are a fantastic example of this. A warm up will typically be an hour even before an actual practice session begins! My advice is make the effort to plan a yoga session in your week as an "active recovery" day & take that just as seriously as you do your sports activity.

That is fantastic advice - I will be sure to practice the active recovery day this week! Talking of weekly activities, what does your typical week of exercise look like for you?
   My day of pro sports competitions & the physical abuse that comes with that are long over. Now my concern is maintaining a youthful mindset & body for as long as I can. To that end I practice a varied approach to my workout week. This means I want to address my muscular strength/conditioning, cardiovascular fitness & mobility every week. So I try & get in 3 resistance training sessions, one flat run, fill or spin session & one yoga session a week.

And finally, do you have any motivational words to keep us going strong?
   It is never never too late to be better than you are. And it is never to late to turn back the clock on some of the physical problems we have caused ourselves!
Eat green, your cells will be nourished.
Stop smoking, your lungs will heal.
Walk or jog, your heart will strengthen.
Get into a yoga class, your body will lengthen.
Try a sport or new activity, your muscles will strengthen.
   Thanks, that is some truly inspiring advice you have left us with. Very honest & very helpful. If anyone would like to know more about Matt or Broga, then check out www.millerthepillar.com- it's worth the visit! Plus Matt has a new Broga DVD out now, so go have a look - www.broga.uk.com
Thank you to Solgar for a fantastic event - themed around mobility & your body's health - and for introducing me to some inspiring people!

12 December 2016

Your Body Was Made to Move - Exercise & Supplement Guide

   It is remarkable really, just what our bodies are capable of doing! But do we truly make the most of it? Be it a gentle stroll or a hardcore HIIT session, exercise of any kind is fantastic for our bodies. And as long as we challenge our own personal bests, we continue to reap the rewards. However, despite the benefits of frequent exercise, it can cause increased stress on our joints. So I went to go & meet with the team at Solgar to discuss exactly what can be done to keep our bodies as healthy as our lifestyle!
   "Joint health is no longer something that the over 50's have to worry about. An increasingly active younger population & the rise in people taking up competitive sports & training in their leisure time means that we all now have to focus on how our physical activity might impact on our body in the long run - especially on our joints!" - Laura Williams, Fitness Expert & PT.

What happens to our bodies when we exercise?
   Although there are millions of benefits from exercising, there is a couple of downsides. The more we push ourselves in our workouts, the more stress & impact the exercise will have on our bones & joints, which in time may lead to injury or a decrease in mobility. During extreme exercise, our bodies also produce 'free radicals', which increases oxidative stress within our bodies & can over time effect our health. BUT for every problem comes a solution - this time in the form of exercise & supplements. It is good to note that free radicals can also be fought with a healthy diet - for example eat foods high in vitamin C & E.
Exercise that can help us stay flexible
   It is often said that you should compliment your main exercise or sport with something different, to either improve your strength, mobility, endurance... in order to thrive at your main activity. For example, I do weight training 5-6 times per week, but I also compliment this with some cardio to increase my endurance & yoga to keep me flexible. So I spoke to bodybuilder & creator of Broga, Matt Miller, about the best exercises to keep you flexible & active...
7 Stretches to Keep You Flexible
   It is important to remember not to force yourself too deeply into stretches, only go as deep into the stretch as your body can handle - we all have different ranges of flexibility! And in time, we can improve.

My Supplement Guide for Joint Health
   As effective as a well balanced diet can be, added supplements & vitamins can be a great boost. Here are just a few from Solgar that are a particular favourite of mine...
What? 7 natural ingredients, for a noticeable difference in 7 days. This once daily supplement can be used to target the occasional pains that occur from physical activity. It targets both structure & function of the joint, by supporting the collagen building blocks & sensitive joint cartilage, to strengthen & repair, whilst targeting joint inflammation & pain, to enable the natural range of motion & flexibility.
Why? I would use this if I had an ongoing twinge, to help support the over stressed joint, to allow me to recover & continue with my normal training. For example if I had a twinge in my lower back or knees. I would take them a little longer after the pain had gone away, to ensure full recovery.

What? With 185 times greater bioavailability - meaning that our bodies can more easily absorb the benefits from the curcumin - this is one of the most advanced curcumin products on the market. Derived from turmeric, it is known for it's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant & anti-microbial properties, which can help bring relief to joint pain & tenderness.
Why? To be taken when feeling a little sore, or as a daily supplement, to help support joint health, especially when taking part in demanding exercise.

What? Our joints are subject to daily wear & tear, so when you factor in physical activity too, they can be put under extreme stress - the solution, to keep them nourished in order to keep them healthy. While cartilage can protect our joints to a certain extent, chondrocytes (found within this supplement) can help repair damaged cartilage. Meanwhile the glucosamine ingredient helps to stimulate the production of collagen, which is a strong, fibrous protein matrix that forms the foundation of cartilage.
Why? I would take this supplement to aid me when taking part in demanding physical activity, to ensure I am protecting my body, whilst challenging myself. 

What? A supplement providing high levels of key minerals calcium & magnesium, in an organic with key ingredients to make the minerals easy to absorb & utilised within our bodies, to help towards strong, healthy bones.
Why? To be taken as a daily supplement, to help keep bones at their healthiest.

   As it is the season of giving & to coincide with all your new years resolutions, I am giving away a goody bag full of supplements, vitamins, drinks etc to help kick start your new years healthy living! Solgar will be featuring in this goody bag! So keep your eyes peeled to my social media for more details. I will be picking my most engaged follower to win - so whoever shares, likes, follows, comments the most! Good luck :)