With Christmas around the corner, we are entering a period of overwhelming enjoyment.
Days off work, weekends that are filled with staff shows and family functions, and of course lunches and dinners with friends.
How good is it?
But, as always, there is a small negative associated.
Namely the fact that we have a tendency to go absolutely crazy across the entire Christmas period, throwing caution to the wind, and eating our weight in goodies.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that a bad meal isn’t going to derail your progress.
A single piece of fruit isn’t going to make you skinny, and a single donut isn’t going to make you fat. As we all know, it is the accumulation of good habits that keeps us healthy, while alternatively, its the accumulation of not so good habits that makes us unhealthy.
However, despite knowing this full well, we as humans seem to love a good blowout.
I’ll use myself as an example.
The Cadbury Effect
I am a sucker for chocolate.
I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and to be completely honest, chocolate is my proverbial kryptonite.
Interestingly, my wife and I could have an unopened block of chocolate in the fridge for the better part of a year, and I wont touch the thing. However, if we were to open it, I can guarantee that it will be gone within the hour.
Now, I realize that this doesn’t really make sense, but the reason I do this is to get rid of it.
Somewhere in the depth of my subconscious, I think to myself: ‘stuff it, I’ve already blown it, I might as well eat the whole thing‘.
We know it doesn’t make sense, but we still do it every damn time.
Not just for chocolate either (which is still not great) – we as humans have a tendency to do it for absolutely everything.
Even things that last for days or weeks at a time…
The Christmas Blowout
When it comes to Christmas, things can go downhill pretty fast.
A bad afternoon can easily turn into a very bad weekend. And that weekend can very easily roll into an extremely bad week.
All of which comes down to that same mindset.
“Welp, Ive blown it – ill get back on track after new years…”
Extremely common, and extremely stupid.
All in all I completely understand where we are coming from, but that doesn’t make this mindset any less flawed.
We know that one single afternoon of eating and drinking isn’t going to derail a years worth of progress.
Hell, outside of a little bit of bloating and a potential stomach ache, the likelihood of this single night doing any lasting damage is pretty slim.
But two weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry?
That’s when the damage starts to accumulate.
Diet Damage Control
So in my mind, diet damage control over Christmas comes down to mindset.
Take a step back and realize that a single meal isn’t going to derail all of your hard work and progress.
Enjoy that meal as much as humanly possible. Be social, drink, and be happy.
But don’t let it become a two week binge.
Keep physically active (as normal) over the Christmas period.
Eat as you normally would outside of those key social situations.
And enjoy the time off!
About The Author
When will you decide to become health focused?
Its a bit of an interesting question, and one I have found myself thinking about quite a lot of late. Which funnily enough, all started with a podcast.
I was always somewhat resistant to the rising popularity of podcasts. But over time I have found them to be pretty interesting. A good way to find out about topics that I wouldn’t normally explore without the input of someone else.
A good way to learn about different ways of thinking, and different areas of health.
Ultimately a different way to learn, I guess.
Anyway, to get back on track, I was listening to a podcast that featured a health professional by the name of Paul Chek.
While a number of Paul Chek’s methods are somewhat controversial, during this podcast he made a statement that really resonated with me.
“At some point in your life, your health will become your highest priority – its just a matter of when”
Its Just A Matter of When
I realized that this was entirely true.
There will undoubtedly reach a time in your life when your own health will rise to the top of your list of priorities.
No questions asked.
For me, it was when I decided I no longer wanted to be a skinny teenager. I wanted to build muscle, and to put it somewhat bluntly, look good naked.
A little bit vain? Maybe? But that was what prompted me to pay attention to what I put in my mouth and to start exercising regularly.
Its really what led me to where I am today.
I know many other people who have had a similar singular moment, albeit under slightly different circumstances.
I know people who have suddenly found themselves 10kgs heavier than they were on their wedding day. They might have realized that they have let themselves go. That they need to make a change before things get ‘too bad’ (so to speak).
I know people who have repeatedly gotten injured throughout their sporting careers.
They never managed to string more than a few games together before being forced into another extended layoff. These people started to take the health of their body seriously to ensure that they could keep playing sport pain free for as long as they could.
And I also know people who waited until it was almost too late.
People who got some nasty news from the doctor. They might have found out that they have been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe cardiovascular disease. Maye they tried to get out of bed one morning and realized that they literally cannot stand up unassisted. Or that they can no longer climb the stairs without hanging off the hand rail.
Or maybe they just had their first grandchild?
And they have come to the stark realization that they want to be there for them for as a long as they can…
Somewhat depressing to think about, I agree.
But it does happen, and all too often at that.
Become Health Focused
Something that really stands out to me in regards to the above scenarios is that the earlier you decide to become health focused, the greater the impact it will have on your life.
If you start eating well and strength training as a skinny teen, you will build healthy habits that will last you a lifetime. You will maintain function indefinitely. Your risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes will be significantly reduced.
Obesity? Not a problem.
In short, you will live a long and happy life.
But what if you start much, much, later in life? If you are already riddled with disease.
The realization that if you don’t do something soon things will go downhill fast, has already hit home?
While I would be the first to say that it is undoubtedly better to start late than never, I would also be inclined to suggest that the benefits you see will be markedly less the later you start.
Most of your time will be spent reversing the damage that a life of sedentary activity has done to your body. The damage that a life of poor eating, weight gain, and lack of use, has done to your body.
Rather than improving function and maximizing health.
Again, this doesn’t mean that it is by any means a waste of time.
Hell, it will probably get you as few extra years on this amazing planet we call home.
But when I think about how I want to end my life on this planet, I certainly don’t want to be bedridden and incapacitated. I don’t want to be struggling to keep going on a daily basis. I want to be walking, running, and lifting, every single day. I want to end it on my terms, with thousands of independent and activity filled days behind me.
And I honestly believe I will, because I have made my health a priority before it was too late.
I implore you to do the same.
About the Author
My Father-in-law absolutely loves wine. As long as it is a big, smooth Barossa Shiraz. I on the other hand like a bit of diversity- a cold, crisp Riesling on a hot summer’s day; a big brooding Cabernet on a cold wintry night; a Pinot, well, there are a lot of contexts where Pinot is appealing! It is much the same with running for me. Some people like to do the same 5km Park Run every week. Great! I however like to run in lot’s of different ways and contexts. So here are my top 5 types of run and where I enjoy doing them the most.
5: Flat Road Running
A long, straight, flat stretch of tarmac in front of me. Feet tapping away with the consistency of a metronome. Breathing in an easy rhythm- every 3rd foot strike. Mind clear, basically meditating. Km’s ticking away without really noticing. This is running relaxation.
Where I do it: The Riverland; Yorke Peninsula (Around Port Broughton or Ardrossan).
From a crouched starting point, then accelerating up to top speed. Driving the knees forward, ripping the elbows back. Completely releasing the brakes. I am sure it feels more impressive than it looks, but in my mind I am flying. The lungs start to bite which is the cue to take the foot off the the accelerator. My legs gradually wind down. I let myself recover, then go again.
Where I do it: Balhannah Footy Oval; Amy Gillett Bikeway
Yes I am serious, I love running uphill. As I approach the incline my mindset shifts. This hill will be like a big meal- just take your time with it and take it one mouthful at a time. I lean forward, focus on pulling my knees through, and get into a nice easy rhythm. I imagine the little engine that could; chug-chugging it’s way up the winding track. The revs are oscillating close to, but always under the red-line until the crest is spotted, then comes an acceleration. Relief as the gradient plateaus.
Where I do it: The (Old) South Eastern Freeway; ‘The Guts’ Track at Fox Creek.
I love narrow, rocky trails. If there is a steep drop-off on one side, excellent. Creek crossing, boulder hopping, ducking under low branches. It can be more like an obstacle course than a run. Agility and power are required to negotiate what the trails offers. One minute I am scampering up tight switch backs; next I am weaving down the other side like a slalom skier. This is an extreme sport!
Where I do it: Sturt Gorge; Morialta
1: Beach Running
This is running stripped (almost!) completely back. Barefoot, wearing just shorts and a hat. Along the shore line, the waves are the soundtrack. Always on a hot day. When the heat gets a bit much the hat gets chucked to one side and in the ocean I go. The first beach run of the summer results in blistered feet and sore calves- but both toughen up pretty quick. For me beach running is heaven.
Where I do it: Normanville to Carrickalinga; Aldinga Beach
I hope to see you out at one of my favourite spots!
We all love to head away on holidays. My idea of a holiday may be quite different to someone else’s idea of a perfect getaway. Where some people like to unwind and relax on a European river cruise sipping Champagne and reading a good book, others may prefer a tropical beach holiday where they spend time swimming or meandering through the local markets. Many are more adventurous too. I myself like to get up and about, explore and be a little adventurous. If there is a good scenic hike to the top of a mountain on offer, I’ll probably do it. Regardless of the activities on the holiday there is still one thing that remains constant. There is a need to get fit for travel.
Why do you need to be fit for travel?
I think you would all agree that the last thing you want to do is injure yourself while on holiday or worse yet, before you even get to your destination. Travelling can inherently be stressful on the body in a number of ways. Physically, you are likely to have baggage to be lugging around to airports and hotels. You may want to get your carry-on baggage up into the overhead compartments on the plane and then back down again upon arrival. Take care because we all know your baggage may have moved during the flight! Most holidays do also end up involving a degree of exploration on foot to have a look at the sights and often just to get from place to place. All of these seemingly simple tasks still require a degree of strength and mobility.
Moving away from tasks that need physical strength, let’s talk a little about physical health! A lack of physical health could lead to an increased chance of a cardiac event whilst overseas, that’s a real buzz kill! That’s looking worst case. On a lower level it may just be an inability to walk from place to place due to breathlessness or achy joints. Still a bit of a downer during a holiday.
If you are planning a more adventurous holiday, such as a multi-day trek in Nepal or a ski trip then this need for an appropriate fitness base is even greater. Essentially, you want to be sure that you have prepared yourself for the likely rigors of your holidays, regardless of the intended intensity.
How do you get fit for travel?
It’s not as hard as you may first think. If you are coming from a place of very little fitness, consider starting with small walks that challenge you slightly. This will start to build up some cardiovascular fitness and a base level of strength. Have a read of this blog, Strength Training for Walking to see how strength training could help you. As the walks become easier, you can start to increase the intensity over time. I would strongly advise some professional advice into strength work that will help build both lower and upper body strength. This will help you achieve all of the routine holiday tasks easily.
If you happen to be embarking on an a more adventurous holiday, it is best to get some tailored advice for your individual needs. You will want to be doing more to increase strength and endurance.
Whether you are starting from scratch or need something more advanced, this is an area iNform Health and Fitness Solutions specialises in. We want you to get the most out of your travelling so come and visit us for some quality advice.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Get fit for travel so that you can climb to the top of every lookout and see all that there is to see.
About the Author
What makes YOU exercise? (Other than your trainer)
We all know that exercise is good for us. Some of us exercise for particular reasons and to get certain benefits over others. Whilst some of us exercise with goals in mind like running a half marathon or just being able to pick up our grandkids. Or it might just be that this our time for ourselves each week. Whatever the reason you exercise, and whatever form of exercise you do, for whatever amount of time you do it for; I pat you on the back for the fact that you do it!
The World Health Organisation has released some fresh data last week showing almost one third (30.4%) of Australians aren’t getting enough exercise. Out of 168 countries, we ranked 97th for the % of population being sufficiently active. Which is scary considering physical inactivity is so highly associated with chronic health problems.
Just one type of exercise we do: Resistance Training (aka strength training or weight training)
This is what most clients at iNform typically spend the majority of their session doing. It can look like anything from body weighted strength, focusing on alignment and control, to lifting very heavy weights only a handful of times. The person that hasn’t broken a sweat all session, and the person that is drenched in sweat at the end of the session – have both engaged in strength training. It looks completely different for everyone. That’s the beautiful thing about strength training, it can be adapted and individualised just for you and your body’s specific needs.
For those who are reading this that are regulars at iNform, you will know better than anyone the effects that training with us has. Hopefully from brightening your mood and giving you a giggle, to helping increase your body awareness, getting you stronger and facilitating better movement throughout life’s activities. But for those who maybe don’t know all of the amazing benefits that strength training alone can have on your body; I have made a nerdy little list below. Please feel free to share this with your friends and family members who maybe aren’t quite convinced on exercise, there’s something in here for everyone!
Your 30 minute session at iNform…
- Improve focus
- Improve cognitive function
- Decrease anxiety
- Decrease depressive symptoms
- Improve feelings of well-being
- Increases self-esteem
- Decreases risk of dementia
- Decrease markers of inflammation (particularly in people who are overweight)
- Decrease cholesterol
- Decrease blood pressure
- Improve insulin-swings for those with type 2 diabetes
- Improves insulin-sensitivity
- Boosts metabolic rate
- Reverse ageing factors in mitochondria and muscles
- Increases bone mineral density (and prevents bone loss)
- Increases muscle mass
- Improves movement control
- Reduces chronic lower back pain
- Reduces arthritic pain
- Reduces pain from fibromyalgia
And I guarantee I have left some benefits out.
How can you get all these benefits, plus more? (we didn’t even look at the benefits of aerobic exercise!)
If you would like to start getting more out of your resistance training sessions, or if you’re wanting to start resistance training but you have some niggles that bother you, I recommend getting in touch with one of our amazing movement specialists who can help find the right exercises for you!
If you would like more information on particular benefits and which study I sourced it from, feel free to email me at: [email protected]
About the Author
Photo by Jonathan Colon
I love broccoli, it is my favourite food! I love it so much, it is all I eat- breakfast lunch and dinner. And it’s healthy hey, lots of vitamins and minerals. So yeah, just broccoli for me thanks.
Obviously this is ridiculous. I don’t think you need a degree in Dietetics to appreciate that we need diversity in our diet so we get all of the good stuff that our body needs to maintain health. Broccoli fits within a balanced diet- it is not a diet in itself.
What the heck does this have to do with exercise?
Behold, The Ten Domains of Fitness
- Cardiovascular endurance
In an ideal world, you would challenge these fitness domains on a regular basis to create a diverse range of stimuli to promote adaptation and optimal physical health. Do you?
What if you are a real Yoga devotee. That is all you do, and you do it regularly and you love it. Fantastic. You would be well honed in flexibility and balance and scratch the surface on strength and coordination.
What about if you are a runner? You run 10km every single day, awesome! You are challenging CV endurance and stamina, but probably very little else (in a meaningful way).
For the gym-junkies who just love to lift big weights? Strength. That is about it.
As an Exercise Physiologist, it is my hope that everyone can find a form of physical activity that they truly love and do on a regular basis. But if you are committed to becoming the best version of yourself that you can be, you need to challenge the other fitness domains regularly to give yourself a more balanced exercise diet. This can sound daunting- how the hell do I fit all of that into my already-busy schedule? This is how I do it.
- I do a nice long run and/or mountain bike ride once per week. This takes care of CV endurance and stamina, as well as balance, coordination and accuracy (on the Mountain Bike).
- I do one hill-rep running session per week which I do on some tricky, narrow, rocky trails around Burnside. This challenges power and speed on the way up, and agility on the way back down.
- I do two gym sessions per week, where I always include strength work, power exercises and balance exercises.
- Finally I like to stretch and foam-roll in the evenings when I am watching tv (ad breaks are great for this!).
Someone else may achieve all of these fitness domains in a week by playing netball, going for a hike up Mount Lofty, lifting weights at the gym and doing a Yoga class or two. It can take any number of different forms.
Our body thrives on a diverse diet of physical challenges. And our body (and mind) will adapt in amazing ways if we regularly nourish it with these challenges. iNform’s Exercise Physiologists are here to help you diversify your Exercise Diet and help you become the best version of yourself you can be.
About the Author