Can a S.M.A.R.T dog learn new tricks?

dogPicture this… Its January 1st. This year you want to lose weight! In fact you have
already started to cut out the cake at lunch, park your car further away from work and have joined the local  yoga class. You have been weighing yourself daily and watching the numbers on the scales decrease. You have started off strong…

But then the weekend hits, you have that important birthday and you become discouraged. This weight loss thing doesn’t seem so fun anymore and you may have just convinced yourself you just don’t have self discipline! You have already resigned to the fact that any further weight loss is in fact impossible and you might was well start eating the cake at lunch time again. You begin to put that weight back on and focus your energy on something else. This vicious cycle continues again and again. Does this sound familiar?

How do we break out of the vicious cycle?

Goal setting helps quantify and clarify the ‘how,’ the ‘what,’ the ‘why’ and the ‘when’ behind these statements.  The aptly named S.M.A.R.T goals provide you with direction, structure, accountability and give you a deadline to meet. The SMART criteria is as follows:

Specific:

  • Identifies exactly what you want to achieve.
  • Studies have shown that task specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance than ‘do your best’ or no goals at all.
  • Feedback or reward has been shown to increase task performance

Measurable:

  • Places a measurable value on the task for example; centimetres; dress; minutes;
  • It allows for re-evaluation to objectively review a goal

Achievable/Actionable:

  • Do you really believe you can do this?
  • Your goal must challenge you enough to be outside of your comfort zone, however should be within your reach.

Relevant/realistic:

  • Are both the goal and the timeframe you set to complete the goal realistic?
  • Going from sedentary to running marathon distances may be realistic but doing this in 2 weeks may not be.

Timely:

  • Set a time frame to achieve this goal by. When do you plan to achieve this goal?
  • Not only does writing down your goals increase success rate, but it has also been shown to improve happiness, satisfaction levels and also creates a sense of achievement.

A goal without a date is just a vision

Tips:

  1. Try and limit the amount of goals you have at one time and prioritise them
  2. Follow the SMART goals principle and write them down
  3. Re -evaluate: goals are there to be adaptable and flexible to your current situations and change, a review of your goals with change of circumstances or a period of time is essential to the goal setting process.
  4. Share them with the people who will help you achieve them; choose wisely!

If you currently do not have any clear goals written down, I encourage you to set some time aside or book in for a review with your trainer to nut out what you want to achieve. Goal setting is something which most of us recognise the importance of to achieve success, so lets be SMART about it!

Surviving Easter: tips to successfully crossing over from summer to winter health!

Surviving Easter: tips to successfully crossing over from summer to winter health!

11039285_832310790150206_2860156579541884039_nI have learned over the last decade+ of being not just a PT, nor just an Exercise Physiologist, but a lifestyle coach, that we are about to enter into a dark time for healthy exercise behaviours. Summer has made it so much easier to establish good food and exercise routines. But it’s hard to maintain our new healthy habits through easter, so lets make sure we stay on track!

Those that stuck to their NY resolutions may be in full swing and kicking some serious goals (hopefully this is you!), or perhaps starting to struggle with their choices… and I tend to find that Easter, with all its temptations, can be a good habit breaking time. Lets face it, the time changes making dark earlier, its getting a bit cooler, we get a few sleep ins, a few meals with friends, and yes… those sin provoking hot-cross buns!!! arghhh… who can resist them??!! We just had our first soup for the year at the Martins for dinner tonight… we are starting to cross over into winter behaviours, and these are never great for our body composition and associated health, right??

So here are a few tips to ensure that you keep going right through Easter into a healthy winter:

  • No behaviours are inevitable. They are choices. make some good ones!
  • Winter need not be the time to create a warmth layer out of body fat. That’s what clothes are for!
  • Think of winter as your pre-season. Use it to get an advantage. Start today.
  • Have a hot-cross bun. I will. But exchange your normal grains serve for it. Don’t have your normal toast for breakfast, and then have the buns as extras on top of your normal calorie intake.
  • Include more play time. You have an extra long weekend. Spend some of that extra time playing with your kids, friends, even neighbours! great time to get to know them…. now, now, don’t be TOO competitive!
  • Follow Tim Ferris’ advice and have a cheat day. You are going to be surrounded by chocolates, buns and other delicious and tempting foods. So give yourself a 24hr window to treat yourself. then get back on the band-wagon.

Ok, see how you go with that, and we’ll touch base on the other side of Easter and explore winter health in a bit more detail.

Enjoy!

 

Do your kids see you sweat??

Do your kids see you sweat??

overweight teenagerLast week I saw a report on the ABC about the growing prevalence of overweight or obese kids in Australia, and it sparked a lot of angry thoughts! As one my areas of passion is seeing healthy active kids!

The stats, as you can imagine, are scary: Back in 2000, approximately 20% of teenagers were overweight or obese, now its 25% and a study conducted by the Victorian Dept of Hman Services predicts that this number will increase to 33% by 2025 (Future prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australian children and adolescents, 2005-2025 Department of Human Services, March 2008)

The consequences are sad and cruel: greater prevalence of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, a whole range of cancers, and mental health issues.

The reasons are both staggering, yet unsurprising:

The study reported on by the ABC was conducted by the Cancer Council and National Heart Foundation, and it revealed teens were spending too much time in front of the television with 58 per cent of students having at least three televisions in their home and 40 per cent with video games in their bedrooms. 75% of teenagers were spending more than two hours in front of screens (for school work or entertainment). A huge 82% are not engaging in more than 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

So what are we going to do about this sad state of affairs? All this takes me back to a paper I was privileged enough to co-author a few years ago. It showed that not only are both adults and children under active, but that the association between parents and their kids’ physical activity is decreasing. So the behaviour modelling strength of parents’ activity is influencing kids less! While the reason why is unclear; my guess is that its due to our changing behaviour patterns. We just don’t see as many families going for walks or bike rides together. You don’t see as many dads kicking the footy with their kids. Now we go to the gym or social sport on the way to or from work, and we are ‘done’ by the time we get home. So while we may be active, our kids don’t see us being active, so they don’t learn from our exercise behaviours!

So lets get out with our kids more. Even when I’m being active on my own, I try to make a point of telling my kids how much I enjoyed my run or bike ride around Adelaide’s beautiful trails!

Martin M, Dollman J, Norton K, Robertson, I. (2005) A decrease in the association between the physical activity patterns of Australian parents and their children; 1985-1997, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 8(1): 71-76.
The Glycemic Load. The other half of the story.

The Glycemic Load. The other half of the story.

loaf of breadI have this conversation with clients at least once a week, so I thought I’d share it here for you as well. Now, while I’m an Exercise Physiologist (and not a dietician), the majority of our clients ask about dietary advice, as it’s part of the lifestyle behaviours that we often coach our clients through. We make sure that our advice stays within the scope of sharing general principles about food, supported by research from biochemistry and physiology.

So the question of ‘carbs’ intake comes up very often, as the message that a diet ‘lower in carbs’ leads to greater weight loss is well spread. This is the type of eating that I also stick to, for a number of reasons that I’ll get into later. But for now I want to address a significant part of this discussion that is often overlooked: The glycemic load (GL). Now, most people are aware of the glycemic index (GI), which relates to how quickly a food containing carbohydrate raises blood-glucose levels, depending on the type of carbohydrate chain involved. Typically, the quicker a food’s carbohydrate is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, the higher the GI.

The glycemic load estimates how much (rather than how fast) the food will raise a person’s blood glucose(sugar) levels after eating it. So it incorporates the GI, but very importantly, it also depends on the AMOUNT of carbohydrates the food contains!

So while a dark bread has a low glycemic index, due to the complexity of the carb chains, it has a high glycemic load, due to the many and long carbohydrate chains in it! So it provides a LOT of carbohydrate and calories. While the insulin spike won’t be high, it will be prolonged. its a slow cooker! In contrast, most vegetables will be both low GI and low GL, a perfect combination! in addition, they’ll be high in nutrient value (vitamins and minerals) as well as relatively lower in calories.

So don’t want to avoid carbs, but be aware of the total LOAD of the carbs you are eating, and make sure these match your personal energy requirements! LOAD up on the veges, and perhaps reduce the bread!

 

How to lose fat with exercise Part 2

How to lose fat with exercise Part 2

So to burn more fat you need to work at lower intensities in the “fat burning zone” right??

This is probably the number one exercise myth that despite it’s lack of evidence never seems to be truly debunked.

You still even see on the cardio gym equipment to this day heart rate graphs of the optimal zone to burn fat, implying that if you stick in this low zone you’ll lose more weight.

I am hoping that the evidence I am about to show you will debunk this myth once and for all. (more…)

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