Staying motivated over summer

Summers here and it sure is a bright time for fun, relaxing, holidays and spending time with loved ones – which means it’s very easy for your health and fitness priorities to take a turn in the back seat. Though, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Preparation and staying motivated over summer will ensure you keep in shape and can enjoy this relaxing period so you enter the new year feeling rejuvenated. Here’s how:

Create a summer eating plan

Plan a new diet that revolves around summer’s offerings. This is the time when certain varieties of luscious fruits like nectarines and peaches are available. Since the weather is a lot warmer, you’re less likely to want to eat hot meals. So introduced a lot of leafy salads and fruit as replacements when you feel like eating fatty snacks or don’t feel like eating at all – because skipping meals is just as bad as over-indulging in calorie-soaked junk food.

Use outdoor activities as exercise

Many necessary outdoor chores happen to be big calorie burners without you ever knowing. Gardening, such as doing the weeds, raking and mowing the lawn really work your muscles and burn fat. So since the days are longer during summer and you may not have time to visit the gym, consider gardening or other outdoor activities like playing Frisbee with the young ones a workout.

Record your progress

During summer, one of the many things people fall back on is their new year’s resolution. You’re not going to be one of these people. Set realistic goals that you know you can achieve over time and maintain the results. The best thing to seeing this come to light is making the start to record your goals and progress so you have something to look forward to. You will stay motivated and feel satisfied when you see small results each week. A little goes a long way and people with goals succeed because they know what direction they’re heading.

Take advantage of sunlight

The daylight hours are longer, so consider taking a morning or evening walk, jog, or bike ride with family to exercise and socialise at the same times. There are also fun summer activities you can take up such as swimming to stay cool, a day trip to the beach, skating, hiking or tennis that can be great outdoor alternatives to working out indoors.

Do you have a cheat day?

Do you have one day where you eat what you want? Because contrary to popular belief, spiking your calories at least once a week can actually increase fat loss – since it maximises your metabolism.

We all know that there is no quick fix to weight loss. In order to lose weight and successfully keep it off, you need to have an eating plan that you can follow long-term. Diets that deprive us of what we love don’t last very long. That’s why it’s okay to eat a few high calorie/carbohydrate food options one day of the week. Let’s call it your “cheat date”.

Cheat days are beneficial in several ways. They satisfy those hard to resist cravings and welcome you to splurge on the food you avoid every other day. The best thing of all is that you never go more than six days without eating one meal you truly enjoy. And another plus is that this short break from dieting also spikes your metabolism.

Losing weight is a science that revolves around how many calories you consume versus how many calories you burn off in a day. Day by day your body is adhering to your strict, low-fat diet. A calorie spike works by eliminating starvation more and naturally tricking your body into entering an extreme level of fat burning for one day by creating a large daily deficit. So the calories you consume on this day will be fast burnt; given that you regularly undertake physical activity.

Cheat days are key to a successful diet since they not only keep your metabolism in check, but the calorie spike restores glycogen levels which will fuel great upcoming workouts. Cheat days also give people control over their diets, weight and cravings. You’re less inclined to go all out during the week if you allow yourself one piece of cake or a chocolate bar on the weekend.

The funny thing is a healthy physique is 80 percent diet, yet you can still eat what you like on your cheat day if you’re smart about it. On your spike days, learn how to make your favourite foods even healthier. Eat pizza, pastas, hamburgers, tacos or whatever it is that tantalizes your tastebuds. Your choices of sauce, breads and amount of cheese, butters and extras are going to dramatically impact calorie consumption. So on your cheat days, it’s wise to not go overboard with calorie spiking, but simultaneously enjoy the fact you’re indulging in a treat.

Eating healthy when other’s don’t

Sometimes when you’re a good eater, you’re not always your worst enemy. The people you live with or constantly hang around may be major hindrances to your strict diet. It’s hard enough to resist eating high-calories foods when you’re keeping your diet lean, so it’s understandable that you can be swayed when you see your friends eating junk all the time.

What do you do when your colleagues want to do a KFC office run or when your friends want to meet at the bar? What about when your flatmate cooks another heat and freeze meal or your partner prepares are tantalising Italian dinner that will definitely sabotage your daily calorie intake? It’s times like these where you ought to stick to your guns and choose the healthier options so your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Here’s how:

Bite size is alright
When you’re feeling pressured in a social setting, remember to portion control. Appease the crowd by telling them you’ll try a bite. This is better than saying no and is less likely to cause offence. At the same time, you’re not consuming a massive amount so you’re not endangering your diet. 

Serving yourself

If your partner or flatmate has gone to the effort to cook a yummy, but fatty dinner, it’s okay to serve yourself. Why not half a very small serving and eat vegies for the remainder of the meal? If you’re in control of your plate, it’s easier to adjust portions. If preparing your plate isn’t an option, politely ask for a smaller portion.

Monitor your pace

When you’re having a good time and are caught up in great conversation, you’re subconsciously on autopilot and prone to fill your face with whatever’s on the table. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a little bit before a scheduled meal so you aren’t as hungry and are less inclined to make bad food choices.

Preparation is key

If your diet has succumbed to peer pressure of late, make it a habit to not cave in again. This is best done by preparing what you’re going to eat in advance and also how you’re going to respond to foods that tempt you.

Create a focus

Dinner or lunch doesn’t have to be the highlight activity of the day. You can ardently suggest a walk after dinner or schedule a movie or board game as the new focus.

Are you really ready to get results?

While there are more fitness facilities, information resources, health professionals and low fat foods available to us than ever before, our society continues to get fatter and unhealthier. Overweight and obesity rates are climbing at epidemic proportions, which if not stopped, will place enormous economic and health burdens on our future generations.

If you are concerned about your own health or your family’s health and want to lead a long-term healthy lifestyle, this book is for you.

Send an email to admin@visionpt.com.au to order a copy or go pick up a copy at your local Vision Personal Training studio.

Eating healthy at work

Start making new eating habits instead of snacking away calorie-packed food at your desk. 

Most Australians work nine to five, are constantly on-the-go and therefore find it a challenge to eat healthy food. They’re either snacking at their desk, skipping meals to meet deadlines or are buying a pie at the local deli. Little do they know that implementing new diet habits will dramatically change the way they feel and perform.

Do you skip breakfast? You shouldn’t. It’s the most important meal of the day. It will increase your metabolism and also improve your alertness, concentration, productivity and your chances of needing to do overtime to make up for the work you could have otherwise completed if only you had eaten breakfast. If you can’t stomach food so early, try a fruit smoothie instead. You will feel fuller throughout the day.

There’s a common assumption that healthy food can’t be yummy. If it’s good for you, it’s going to taste horrid. This couldn’t be any more further from the truth. Low-fat dairy products such as yoghurt or light cheeses are great to eat in small portions. Yoghurt is also great to top over a small bowl of fruit and muesli for added taste and to balance out the meal.

If you’re a fan of eating biscuits, why not skip them and combine wholegrain crackers with a can of light tuna or lean chicken instead? High-protein meals combined with carbs are easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutritional benefits. If you like snacking while working, have some nuts or sesame thins readily available on your desk. These are much better choices over calorie-packed muesli bars or chocolate.

Similarly, coffee is a key contributor to adding on the pounds. Ask yourself how many coffees do you consume each day? Most people can’t stop at one and rely on three. If this is you, wean yourself off it by cutting back slowly. And when you order your next coffee, opt for skim milk and say no to the sugar if you can.

By avoiding sugary, high-fat and calorie-saturated foods and beverages, you are already cutting out a large portion of calories in your daily intake. The key is not to cut out food completely or eat less, but rather choose healthier options. That way you’re still eating the same amount, but fewer calories; a much easier way to keep your waistline in shape.

Lastly, come lunch time, try and get out and move around instead of eating at your desk where you’re more inclined to over eat. Get involved in the lunch time soccer game with colleagues or go for a quick stroll and get some fresh air so you feel rejuvenated.

Life is too short to be negative

Choose life, be positive and you will get ahead.

If you want to be successful in any area of your life, then having a positive outlook is a requirement. Negativity is a cancer. Whinging, complaining, intimidation, fear, guilt, ridicule, prejudice, self-doubt; these are all forms of negativity coming from within or other people. While some can be controlled, others needed to be cut-off.

If people in your life are dragging you down, then you have the power to pick them up and get rid of them for good. Imagine what a heavy, dampening and drowning weight would be lifted out of your life by doing so. Ridding yourself of negative people will give you more room to enjoy your life and most importantly, be happier. You can achieve your goals without somebody’s opinion holding you back.

It’s okay to slowly remove yourself out of a person’s life. It’s often a hard thing to do, because negative people tend to wield power from people, causing intimidation. You are more prone to accepting negative people into your life during your teenage years because of insecurities and fear of being subject to their fury. As adults, it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s never too late to turn your outlook on life into a positive one. A half-full glass of wine is better than a half-empty glass, that’s for sure. Why not exercise a placebo effect in your life, without the need of sugar pills. Life is short and everybody deserves to be happy. Do not feel obligated to be loyal to people who aren’t loyal to you. Live a healthy live full of good food, exercise and people who love you, and you can achieve anything.

Brain and gene influence on obesity

A gene variation has proven to affect brain tissue reduction and added fat storage.

The body and the brain operate in extraordinary ways. Add science into the mix and we’re able to discover how obesity can affect this coexistence.

A recent study in Pittsburgh has discovered a link between brain and genes as influencers of obesity. They found that obesity directly affects the size of a person’s brain. Obese people have 8% less brain tissue compared to people of normal weight. The results for overweight people followed trend with 4% less brain tissue than people of normal weight.

It is believed the main cause is a gene variation in the FTO and hypothalamus. This part of the brain controls many basic functions including fluid balance, body temperature and hunger. The study had proven that genetic variations in obese people can affect behaviour, as opposed to the chemical processes of fat and energy metabolism.

Brain degeneration in obese people may also be due to lack of exercise, which could explain why somebody is overweight to begin with. Research already suggests that exercise preserves brain mass by releasing chemicals that restore neurons. Overweight people also are prone to having higher levels of insulin hormone, known as a compelling fat storage hormone. So by not exercising, there is a significant chance of increasing brain tissue loss.

Clearly, it can be seen that being obese, or even overweight, reduces a person’s quality of life.  It doesn’t just lead to diseases, but also decreases cognitive capabilities. Professor Thompson who led the study said any loss of brain tissue puts a person at greater risk of functional decline. That is why the most crucial way to resist both obesity and brain decline is to exercise, sustain high fitness levels and eat healthy.

Losing weight is a science. Keeping it off is a psychology.

Combine the science of eating water rich foods with the psychology of choosing to eat appropriate foods, and you are on the road to maintaining your weight.

For many people, losing weight seems to be a life-long process. Dieting and following new fads on television and in magazines is a lifestyle for some people, rather than a short means-to-an-end. This is because many don’t understand the science behind losing weight.

Think of your body as a machine and the process of losing-weight will become a lot easier to understand. It is a game of science and maths. Here’s the good news – you naturally burn energy by simply existing. A day spent sat at a desk still requires energy – not as much of course, but you still burn a set amount of calories.

Eating smart, not eating less is the key to losing weight and keeping it off. It’s all in your head. Being motivated to stick to a healthy diet is what drives results. Eating low in calorie density foods that are rich in water, such as vegetables and fruit, promotes healthy weight loss and prevents chronic illnesses. It also helps people control their hunger. They’re eating more, but actually less in terms of calories. What they learn is to make appropriate food choices for a low in calorie density diet.

So really, by simply knowing and controlling what you put into your mouth is going to make losing weight an achievable task. The science is eating low in calorie density foods. The psychology is choosing to make smart food choices and sticking to it. And that’s it! Combine the two rules and you’re set for a healthy diet.

Fast food brands & their healthy partnerships: Care or Con?

As more and more fast food brands partner with ‘healthy’ companies it seems that the only thing healthy to be got from the situation is the size of their bank balance.

It has been reported that many fast food chains did reasonably well in the recession as consumers opted to purchase cheaper items like bottles of soda over health food with higher price tags.

Now, after recession, there seems to be something else that is helping them out – and that’s selling on the back of a health brand. The consumer gets more health conscious by the day, and unfortunately, so do the marketing companies.

The Biggest Loser joined forces with Domino’s Pizza under the shade of wanting to promote the Domino’s ‘healthy range’ which is a small selection of reduced fat and sodium pizzas.

However the marketers spin it – which they do, and they do well – Dominoes is still a pizza company. It still sells extremely unhealthy food that does not sit with the Biggest Loser brand. Their ‘good choice range’ does of course, but if you look at the menu as a whole and the percentage of healthy offers compared to unhealthy, and possibly compare the increase in sales across both ranges, then you can safely see that on the back of the ‘healthy team up’ they have increased sales of unhealthy food.

And it is happening across the board, with McDonald’s and Weight Watchers making a partnership and Nestle buying Jenny Craig.

But you have to ask yourself, if they really cared so much about health, would they make such unhealthy partnerships?

Reflection Time

With January now over and February well on its way to becoming a month of ‘making up for lost time’, half of us begin to become less motivated and half of us reflect on the year to come with a sense of hope…

Now is the time to really reflect on our behaviour. What happened in 2010? What went right? What went wrong? Did we manage to make any changes in January at all?

If you find that February has come around and you are still thinking about what you ‘should’ do without actually doing it, then now more than ever is the time to make that change. It’s still the start of the year and a real difference can be made.

If the idea of throwing yourself into the deep end scares you… or you can do this but you only tend to be able to do it for a few days, then just take a small step to begin with. Book a Pilates class or clean out your cupboards. You will be amazed how much of a difference this one small step can make. It will make you feel completely motivated and help lay some very important foundations when it comes to feeling like you can achieve your goals.

Behavioural changes are the most important aspect of becoming motivated – after all, as the famous saying goes… ‘People do not attract that which they want, but that which they are’.

It is only once you actually become the person you want to be… and not just try and ‘think’ or ‘will’ yourself into being a certain way, that you will be able to live the life you want.

So, if you’ve started off badly this year, make real behavioural changes and have the 2011 you deserve.