4 January 2017

So what really works?




New years resolutions with Brightonfit

 

Of course we all make New Year resolutions with the best of intentions; gym membership sign ups are at an annual high and January is the most popular month to go ‘dry’. BUT the once busy January gym floor is back to its usual regulars only by March and those who abstained from the booze resume normal drinking habits around this time too. So how do you get resolutions to stick?

The answer is not to change the resolution but change the approach you take to achieve them. If you look at those around you who are positive, happy, successful and in control of their health you probably wont find many of the achieved these life goals overnight. They usually chipped away at them over a period of time and most likely suffered downs as well as ups along the way as life buffeted them around.

We must expect the same when we set fitness/weight loss/health goals and not beat ourselves up when we are beset by adversity. Gaining a pound on a weight loss plan not the end of the world and certainly is not a reason to stop trying. Not hitting a PB in a training session does not mean your not making gains overall, its just not your day. The trick is to stand back and look at your overall progress, you did not get to this place that you are trying to improve from overnight; it took years for you to gain this weight/loose fitness you once had/feel unhealthy (delete as appropriate, or tick all 3!) and you certainly cannot expect to change it all in January.

So my advice to you would be resolve to change your expectations for 2017. Good luck

31 October 2016

It’s all in your head ‘love’




brain

Recently I was approached by a desperate friend whose daughter is overweight and about to leave home to go to University. Worried the daughter would go off the rails having left the supportive environment of her family home, we discussed her options.

Weight gain is a really tough one; both for the individual and for their loved ones. No one likes to see someone they care about becoming unhealthier, missing out on activities because they are too overweight, feeling terrible about themselves and loosing self-esteem or possibly having work issues. Added to this list and more, people stigmatise the overweight; society is conditioned to align beauty and success with slim people.

The solution, however as I explained to my friend, is not in a healthy education although this helps with the ‘rehabilitation’ part but in resolving the root of the overeating. And this is almost exclusively a head issue, which needs careful and professional (often) dissection, exposure and resolve before it can be eradicated in a way that means it won’t bounce back next time that person feels down, unloved, vulnerable or alone. Because there is a better therapy than food and that is self-love….

22 September 2016

How to structure an exercise plan based on your personality




SCORE 1 POINT FOR EACH TRUE ANSWER AND 0 FOR FALSE

Exercise plan preparation

  1. Are you patient
  2. Do you fear public speaking
  3. Are you in debt (except mortgage)
  4. Are you laid back and content
  5. Are you the boss at work
  6. Are you a leader amongst your friends
  7. Do you sing at karaoke
  8. Do you have friends of both genders
  9. Do you get irritated easily
  10. Do you play a team sport

Score = 3 or less yes’s

You should build an exercise plan focused on gradually incremental sessions making sure that you cross train and integrate variety of movements within your training. An example would be to sign up for a triathlon, marathon or endurance race of some description. You should look for something that is unachievable with your current fitness about 3-4 months away. You should design a plan that your friends and colleges can either come and join you on or at least support you on the day.

Score = 4- 6 yes’s

Your exercise plan should be intense and focused on one goal in 4-8weeks time. You should feel it is going to be very challenging with your current fitness to get a time/score that you will be happy with. Your training should be entirely aimed at improving your time/performance in the goal you have set for yourself.

Score = 7 or more yes’s

You should choose a goal with your friends or family, maybe your sports team/club. Select something that everyone can do together, perhaps a mud challenge or multi stage event you can do in relay. Better still if you can raise money for a charity you are all supporters of and use that as a way to generate camaraderie amongst your peers. Train alone or together and keep it fun and varied.

16 September 2016

How healthy are our leaders?




trump-clinton state of health

Politics is full of promises, some are kept and others are not. But when a politician makes a promise you want him/her to be around for their term to see it through. Right? So what if the potential leader of a country is not in good health?

David Cameron at 43 became the youngest prime minister of our country in 200 years, and if we take BMI (body mass index) as an indicator of how much care someone pays to their health its clear to see he was a healthy investment for the nation.

Over the pond the picture is less clear; 2 candidates twice Cameron’s age are battling it out for premiership. What’s catching the media attention is Clinton’s recent diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia; and rightly so because despite her campaign’s attempts to debunk any fear the condition can become nasty. People over 65 with a weakened immune system are prone to the bacteria causing the infection. Yes the antibiotics can clear it up, but if her immune system was this weak to start with then how sure can we be about her general state of health. She already takes blood thinning medications for a blood clot that was found in her head 3 years ago whilst only 65 years old.

On the other hand we see Trump cherry picking medical reports to show the media, typical of his subversive manner, whilst joking about needing to loose a few pounds. A FEW POUNDS ? Clinically he is OBESE at 121kg and 181cm tall!

At 70 years old this makes it firstly much harder to loose the weight but secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it means that at the stage of life where the body is in a state of decline one really has to ask whether putting so much extra pressure on his internal organs is wise….usually wisdom comes with age, but with Trump we’ve seen enough to not put the words in the same sentence I think!

10 September 2016

Were you born to be an Olympian?




Rio olympics womens gymnastsWhat makes an Olympian? – Is it indeed true that they are genetic freaks or are they just so driven that nothing could ever stop them?

Well there’s probably some truth in both.

Firstly you do have to have some genetic predispositions; you don’t see many short basketball players or high jumpers. An Olympic athlete’s build is usually optimised for his or her sport for example:

  • A large lung capacity can well place them for aerobic participation; think swimming or running disciplines.
  • Having large hands makes a great water paddle for the swimmer and having long legs makes a great long distance runner – whilst having shorter levers (arms and legs ration to body length) provides great mechanics for the power lifters.
  • For the long distance runner the volume of their calf is said to aid the biomechanics in that a smaller one means less mass to move per stride. Combine that with long legs and you can begin to see how the African athletes are more naturally built for these types of events.

And for the rest of us? There are things you can change with a little dedicated training, the things that you or I could work to improve upon because we play sports that we love even though we are short with chunky calves!!!

  • Like decreasing our resting heart rate through aerobic activity.
  • Increasing our reflex speed through SAQ (speed agility quickness) and coordination drills.
  • Working at our positive mental attitude and believing we can be better
  • And of course becoming leaner so that the weight we carry around for whatever sport we play is useful muscular weight and not energy wasted in carrying around excess fat

….So there is still lots to play for guys, train hard, be as good as you can be and if you’re not heading for the Olympics watch in awe and amazement as I do, at the wondrous feats of the human body!!

15 July 2016

Fit to Serve




Brightonfit to Serve

Success is a mindset. If you want to become the best, you have to push yourself, you have to want to be a better you. This is a significant part of the British Army’s ethos and I think everyone can take away something useful from learning more about it.

Are you training, or are you exercising? Because training is different to exercising in one significant way – what defines whether you’re training is if you have a goal to your efforts; this could be to reach a career, to win a race, or even to become a better you…all are equally worthy.

It is important to have this goal because everyone has moments of doubt, of weakness, of fear of failure; but it’s the goal which helps push you through this.

Everyone who’s physically pushed themselves knows about the ‘pain cave’ or the ‘dark place’. It’s at that moment which you will be most challenged to either quit or push through the pain. Success requires prior planning in my opinion; it doesn’t need to be written down or vocalised, you just need to ask yourself why you’re there at that moment. Find a phrase which is powerful to you, this can be very personal, it could even be a memory, but focussing on the right trigger for you will see you to the exit of the pain cave…

In my experience the most striking example of this is when watching someone row a 2K. There is the first 500m which is a breeze, you feel you could row the pace all day. Then the next 500m to 1K makes you work harder, your breathing is ragged and all the efficiency you felt early on is gone – welcome to the entrance to the pain cave. What happens next is down to the person, do they want it enough, can they dig deep and refuse to quit? Some people have it, some people develop it over time, but without it there’s no hope.

Training should challenge you, it should be a struggle because it all helps you reach your goal, helps you to become a better you. Work out what motivates YOU and reap the benefits as a result.

19 June 2016

Grab a coffee for this…




Coffee and exercise

Personally I didn’t want to believe it… But after trying not to listen, I heard about coffee potentially being bad for you?! I know, I didn’t believe it either, so I’ve looked into it; I’m far too biased to base this on my own opinion *slurps his brew* so I started with the research – and there appears to be plenty!
With so many studies to choose from I decided on a study carried out at the prestigious T H Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, carried out on 208,000 people (over 30 years!) in the well-known coffee loving United States.

The conclusions certainly weren’t what I expected, and perhaps not what you’d expect either.

On the positive side: The scientists concluded ‘moderate coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and suicide’. Plus, no associations were found with cancer deaths.

An interesting fact to note in this study though, is there being no difference in benefit between caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee!

By this point I was just relieved at least some of what I heard was unfounded and but it still leaves the gap for highlighting any actual benefit beyond short term alertness. However the key word here is MODERATE (referred to as 3-5 cups a day – which sounded a lot to me even…) says Dr. Ding, a doctoral student in Harvard’s department of nutrition.

So the up-shot of this study, in my humble opinion is if you’re a coffee drinker then keep it moderate and perhaps try the decaf, and if you’re not a coffee drinker then there’s probably not need to change your habits for the sake of longevity.

4 June 2016

A cure for a chronic sitter




Brightonfit back pain exercises

We’re all guilty of ‘over sitting’ (yes, that’s a thing); we’re constantly told to be more active in order to be more healthy, and that translates into our working lives too.

This is all true of course, it’s common sense, but let’s be realistic. You’re probably sitting while reading this, I know I was while writing it.

The problem is that sitting causes many of the body’s biological system to shut down and causes muscle groups to waste away. It’s unavoidable though! We all need to sit for some of the time, some more than other perhaps but there’s only so much we can change.

So that leaves us with another option – How to sit better…

When we sit, our hips roll back into flexion, leading to a loss of natural lumbar curve (often leading to back pain). We need to restore this natural curve of the back.

Onto the ‘how’, with the following exercises you will activate key posture muscles and restore function to the; hips and spine. It’s about posture alignment to reduce the symptoms of pain at the source.

Sitting Knee Pillow Squeezes

This exercise introduces the body to the functional sitting position, versus the average slumped-forward position our bodies have become accustomed to. As the name implies, this exercise targets the adductor muscle group of the hips.

Instructions: 

  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Place a block or foam roller between your knees.
  3. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back. Hold this position throughout the exercise.
  4. Squeeze and release the block/foam roller with your knees.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 20. Be sure to keep your stomach relaxed for the duration of the exercise.

 

Sitting Abductor Presses

Just like sitting knee pillow squeezes, this exercise introduces the body to the functional sitting position. The hip abductor muscle group goes to sleep when we sit. This exercise will force them to wake up.

Instructions: 

  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Place a strap around your knees.
  3. Roll your pelvis forward to place a small arch in your low back. Hold this position throughout the exercise.
  4. Press outward against the strap, then release.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 20. Be sure to keep your stomach relaxed for the duration of the exercise.

Using these exercises consistently will take you from being at risk of injury to a more healthy body in the long term.

17 May 2016

Harder to Kill




brightonfit personal fitness training

The slogan becoming harder to kill makes a good T-shirt, but is there a more profound meaning behind it? That’s what I set out to discover…

Survival comes down to functional training. This means how much of your training genuinely helps you in normal life, or what living wild would entail – picture zombie apocalypse where your running shoes are your best friend…

Obstacle course races have captured the imagination of our society, me included, and why is this? To me it feels like a chance to harp back to a bygone era, a primal time when your fitness was your weapon to survive. Perhaps it takes us being put into an environment where our survival of a course becomes the over-ruling concern to make us think of our fitness and health as being as important in our lives as it should be – I for one have certainly known of people who have rediscovered a desire to become ‘useful’ in their mind by doing such races, and that’s where I see the race’s purpose.

So what do we do with this new-found realisation? Probably very little but being an eternal optimist I can but hope. What we SHOULD do is not get bogged down in specialism – try to embrace all areas of fitness, especially the ones with clear transferable benefits to day-to-day life; and look at the training of the fittest, the athletes who cross sporting boundaries and the military personnel who train to meet any challenge, just to name two examples.

26 April 2016

Softer Running




Running brighton

I first heard the concept of running on a softer surface versus Tarmac while at school. This is the reason for our year group always having to wait until being on the field before we were allowed to start running.

It used to drive us crazy! But were their reasons valid?

According to Dr Rebecca Robinson, consultant in sports and medicine at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, there is no evidence that running on a soft surface such as grass is better for the body than running on a hard surface such as tarmac – and here are the reasons for it…

It boils down to bone being a living tissue which is constantly remodelling.

The key is to start GRADUALLY – there’s no surprise there, but the surprise may lie in the possitive response it can create. When started gradually and built up, it can cause the laying down of new cells, making the bone matrix stronger.

For running beginners, starting on softer ground is a good idea; it’s lower impact and good for developing balance and bounce in a new runner’s technique.

So combining the benefits of both involves a good mix of surfaces in a training programme, including road, grass, trail runs and even sand runs if possible. They all have their own stimulus on the body, helping to create stronger ligaments, muscles and tendons. With the uneven surfaces and direction changes promoting ‘whole-bone loading better’.

Running itself, compared to cycling and running, has been shown to be more protective against conditions such as osteoporosis in which bone loss causes an increased risk of fractures.

So keep up the running, use it sensibly as a training tool along side plyometric (explosive/jumping) training; mixing up the terrain and be smug in the knowledge that for all your hard work, you’ll be enjoying the wealth of health benefits in the long term.

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