Ouch, Ouch, Ouch

tennis balls

10 Pain-Fighting Moves You Can Do With A Tennis Ball

As you can tell from our last post, we love using foam rollers to work out those nagging aches and pains, but sometimes they can’t get into a tight area quite as well as your hands. The next best option after a foam roller? Using nothing more than a few tennis balls, these moves get into the deepest layers of your muscle and connective tissue to help break the adhesions so your muscles can fully contract and stretch, They’ll also help relieve soreness, pain, and increase circulation.

 

If You’ve Got… Achy Feet

tennis ball foot

(Fitness photos by J. Miller)
Try… Sole Searching
Why it helps: The ball loosens up stiffness in your sole’s muscles, joints, and connective tissues.
How to do it:
1. While standing next to a wall or chair for stability, place a ball underneath the arch of your foot. Keep your heel on the floor and let your body weight sink in. Take deep breaths for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Slowly roll your foot from side to side so the ball crosses your arch. Repeat for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Roll the ball along the length of your foot from heal to toe for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Repeat on the other foot.

You can also try this on the palm of your hand if these ache as well.
If You’ve Got… Stiff Knees

tennis ball knee

Try… Kneedy Ball
Why it helps: The ball acts as a spacer to gently traction the lower leg bones, kneecap, and thigh away from one another. This provides an internal stretch within the often-stiff joint capsule of the knee.
How to do it:
1. Sit on the floor or in a chair and place the ball behind your bent knee, as close to the side of the knee as possible.
2. Attempt to contract your muscles against the ball, temporarily “squashing” the ball for a count of 10, then relax your muscles for a count of 10. Do this 8 to 10 times.
3. Repeat on the other knee.

If You’ve Got… Tight Thighs

Try… IT Band Meltdown
Why it helps: The balls tease motion into the frequently tight IT Band and outer quadriceps muscle (vastus lateralis). This move helps to soothe tight knees and hips at once.
How to do it:
1. While sitting on the ground or in a firm chair, place 2 balls on the outside of your thigh. Keep the balls nestled into the side of your thigh and slowly bend and straighten your knee 20 times.
2. Move your thigh from side to side so that the balls cross the side of your thigh. Repeat for 2 minutes.
3. Repeat on the other side.

tennis ball it band
If You’ve Got… Sore Hips

tennis ball hip

Try… Hip Help
Why It Helps: This move targets multiple large and small muscles that attach on the side of the hip (the gluteus maximus, the medius, and the piriformis). These muscles can be tight either from sitting too much, overuse in exercise, or wearing high-heeled shoes.
How to do it:
1. Lie on the ground and place one ball on the side of your hip, then lean into the ball. Make slow circles with the hip and leg as it rests on the ball. Circle 12 times in each direction.
2. Repeat on the other side.

If You’ve Got… Bad Posture

Try… Upper Back UnWind
Why It Helps: This move is a postural corrective, an upper back tension reliever, and also helps to revive your breath.
How to do it:
1. Lie down and place two balls side by side on either side of your upper back. (You can place them in a tote, stocking, or sock, if you’d like.) Interlace your hands behind your head and lift your head off the floor, bringing your chin toward your chest. Lift your bottom off the floor and take 3 deep breaths into your ribs.
2. Keeping your breaths big and steady, roll the balls like a rolling pin up and down your upper back for 3 to 4 minutes.

tennis ball back
If You’ve Got… A Tight Chest

tennis ball chest

Try… Chest Decompress
Why It Helps: This move unglues the over-worked chest muscles that tighten due to holding cell phones, typing on computers, cooking, or carrying kids. It restores breathing and also relaxes your nervous system.
How to do it:
1. While leaning against a doorway or wall corner, place a ball just below your collarbone. Spend at least 1 minute simply breathing into the pressure of the ball.
2. Shift from side to side so that the ball scrolls along the upper chest, while you continue to breathe into the ball, for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Try moving your arm and neck while you shift to add extra shoulder mobility into the mix. Continue for 1 minute.
4. Repeat on the other side.
If You’ve Got… Tense Shoulders

Try… Shoulder Shine-Up
Why It Helps: This move addresses some of the rotator cuff muscles that often tighten from overuse, poor posture, and repetitive motion.
How to do it:
Place a ball behind your shoulder blade while lying on the floor. Experiment with moving your shoulder in every possible direction for 3 minutes on each side. Your arm will look like seaweed floating in the water.

tennis ball shoulder

NO PAIN NO GAIN? RUBBISH!!

How to Use a Foam Roll

A foam roll, or foam roller, is a useful training tool to use as part of your recovery or regeneration plan.  Foam-Rollers-400x257southern-workout-store-commercial-foam-roller-30cm-500x416the-grid-foam-rollerp-1143-foam-roller-rumble

 

How It Works

Foam rolling uses deep compression to help roll out muscle adhesions, or knots, that develop over time. Think of your muscle as a shoelace. It has a certain length to it. If it gets in a knot and you pull both ends of the shoestring, the knot gets tighter. You need to work the knot out with your fingers to restore the original length of the shoelace. The same goes for muscles. By working out those knots in the muscle, which often arise from inactivity or repetitive activity, you’ll be able to restore the muscle to its original length, thus making it more pliable and functional.

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Technique

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You can use the foam roll for all your major muscle groups. Glide your body over the foam roll to work each area individually e.g. the backs of your legs or your lower back. Pause at any tender points for 10 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next region. Only apply as much pressure as you can tolerate and build up the amount of time you spend foam rolling. Your muscle tissue will begin to get used to this new sensation and be more and more willing to accept the new form of self massage that you’ve implemented into your routine.

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Benefits

Foam rolling is like a massage. The compression causes your nerves to relax, loosens muscle, increases blood flow, and helps your body recover. In other words, foam rolling can alleviate soreness and make your muscles feel better.

When to Use It

You can use a foam roll anywhere or anytime. Many people enjoy rolling while watching television or before bedtime. Others do it at the start or end of a training session or after sitting in the same position for hours. Don’t limit yourself to the areas targeted in your training program. Use the foam roll anywhere you feel tight and in need of a massage.

What It Feels Like

You’ll probably enjoy the foam roll routine—everyone likes massages. Still, there’ll be some uncomfortable moments, as there would be during a professional massage. The first time you use a foam roll, it might be a little painful, but that’s just a sign that you stand to benefit greatly from using it. Once you’re past the first few weeks, though, it’ll get considerably easier and more comfortable. The foam roll is a great barometer of the quality of your muscle and connective tissue. The better it feels, and the less it hurts, the higher the quality of your tissue

roller exercises

 

Just pick it up……..NOW!

the-muscle-dysmorphia-1And NO, you wont look like this….

Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier

Want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently? Strength training to the rescue! Despite its reputation as a “guy” or “jock” thing, strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.

 

Strength training is an important part of an overall fitness program. Here’s what strength training can do for you — and how to get started.weight training

 

Use it or lose it

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body, and this process is called Atrophy and is just a result of aging. But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age.

Strength or Resistance training is you performing an exercise when you have to generate force (use your muscles) to push, pull or lift something. The ‘something’ can be your own bodyweight, a machine weight, free weights such as dumb bells or kettlebells or something like a resistance band; what you start with depends on where you are staring from!cardio v weights

Strength training also helps you:

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.(especially in females)
  • Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more efficiently. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight. The extra muscle mass also raises you metabolism as muscle requires more energy.
  • Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Stronger muscles will take the strain of moving around, keeping the stresses of you joints and helping protect them. More toned, stronger muscle also improves your posture as you will stand more ‘taller’ with these stronger muscles helping you move as nature intended.
  • Sharpen your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.Strength training can be done at home or in the gym.

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  • Consider the options
  • Body weight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try pushups, pullups, planks and leg squats.
  • Resistance Bands. Resistance bands are inexpensive, lightweight pieces of kit that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance bands that vary in strength, can be used just about anywhere and are great for working on joint stabilisation as well as muscle strength.
  • Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
  • Weight machines. These are ideal for beginners starting out as they offer a safe introduction to resistance training; most fitness centers offer a range of machines that cover all major muscle groups. Machines are also useful to target a specific muscle if you are recovering from injury or wanting to increase strength or size in a particular area.

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Getting started

OK so you have decided to begin a strength training program; the best advice you can get is to go see an experienced trainer who can talk you through a suitable program and workout where you should start, choosing the right types of exercises, weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles. And you get to understand how your muscles should be working. You will also learn how and when to progress each exercise and why you should keep raising the intensity and not same at the same level. When you can easily do more repetitions of a certain exercise, you need to gradually increase the weight or resistance.

To give your muscles time to recover, rest for at least one full day between exercising each specific muscle group, this allows your muscles to recover and be ready for the next workout. Failing to do this will only lead to no progress and probably an injury. Also be careful to listen to your body. Although mild muscle soreness is normal, sharp pain and sore or swollen joints are signs that you’ve overdone it.

When to expect results

You don’t need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. Two to three strength effective training sessions a week lasting just 20 to 30 minutes are sufficient for most people. Better yet, results are quick. Expect to enjoy noticeable improvements in your strength and stamina in just a few weeks. If you keep it up, you’ll continue to increase your strength — even if you’re not in shape when you begin.

Having a good time? get me some of that ‘white stuff’

sugar in cereal barseffects of sugar on brain

Change of plan for this week; we have changed the planned post for this week after receiving a link to an article from one of our clients (the 2nd one listed below), so thanks Richard for the link.  For us this is great as it shows that our clients do look at and understand the education we are providing each week to help improve both your health and your fitness levels.

The first link is an article that shows just how hard the battle to change how sugary drinks are marketed & promoted, with the big suppliers having so much influence on how we see these products.

The second link shows you some of the things these suppliers don’t tell you; the article has several links contained in it and a short video for you to watch.

 

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article59364713.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/if-soda-commercials-were-honest_us_56b8f3b4e4b04f9b57daa6fd

Just shows why it is important to understand what you are eating and why you should be tracking your meals; eating fresh foods and eliminating sugary foods wont just help you control your weight, there are so many other health benefits as well.  Let us know what you think.

how soft drinks affect youhow soda impacts on the bodysugar effects

I need to lift those big, heavy things to lose weight, don’t I?

Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple bodyweight exercises are a great way for achieving gains in strength, flexibility, and overall health. Best of all, they don’t cost a thing and you can usually do them just about anywhere. Still not convinced? Well. Here’s a list of exercises and why they should be a key component to your workout regime. We use them all the time with our clients, mixing up weight training and bodyweight to keep the body working hard.  All you need to know is how many of each you should be doing and how often.

Why Bodyweight Training Is the Best

  1. It’s a super-efficient workout. Research suggests high-output, bodyweight-based exercises like plyometrics yield awesome fitness gains in short durations. Since there’s no equipment involved, bodyweight workouts make it easy to transition from one move to the next with little rest. And you’ve probably already heard that those short-but-intense workout can yield major results.
  2. It can combine cardio and strength training Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 60 seconds of burpessa or high-knees) between strength movements (such as a set of push ups or lunges) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development.
  3. You can burn fat—fast. Just a few minutes of a bodyweight circuits can have a major impact on the body’s metabolism. If you’ve ever heard of the ‘afterburn’ or EPOC effect, you know that even when your workout is over, your body can still be revved for hours to come.Kiwi Fit
  4. At any fitness level, it’s challenging. Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. Adding extra reps, performing the exercises faster or super slowly, taking shorter breaks, or adding a powerful, dynamic movement (push-up with a clap anyone?) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. And with each added modification, your progress is obvious.
  5. You’ll gain core strength. Your core is more than just six-pack abs. There are at least 29 make up the trunk of the body, and many simple bodyweight movements can be used to make all of them work. Such exercises won’t just give you tighter abs, you’ll also gain better posture, relieve lower back stress, and improve overall performance.
  6. It can increase your flexibility. Not everyone who does regular resistance training has to end up with tight muscles and inflexible joints. Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury. Yoga is another great way to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.
  7. There’s never an excuse to not workout. Ask someone why they don’t exercise, and chances are they have “no time” or it’s “inconvenient.” Well, bodyweight exercises eliminate those common obstacles. When you only need a little space, it’s easy to squeeze in workouts wherever you are. Exercising without equipment can also be used as a stress buster whether you’re working at home or on the road.
  8. You’ll achieve better balance. When it comes to this type of training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a traditional squat can be progressed by changing to a single leg squat, making this a really functional movement like that can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.
  9. You’ll never get bored. It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut of treadmills, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and bench presses. That’s why bodyweight training can be so refreshing: There are countless exercise variations that can spice up any workout routine. Working with a variety of exercises not only relieves boredom, it can also help break training plateaus and spark further progress.
  10. Mixing up your workout is easy. Indoor excercise isn’t for everyone. Luckily you can perform bodyweight moves inside or outdoors, alone or with a group of friends. Think about adding some strength moves to your next park run, or finishing a swim session with a quick bodyweight circuit to keep things interesting.
  11. It can help with injury prevention. Injury is one of the main reasons people stop working out, so preventing those aches and pains should be a big priority. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age, or fitness level. Many simple bodyweight movements can actually be an effective option for rehabilitation, even for those with significant impairments. (But get some advice first!)
  12. You’ll see results. Bodyweight exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements—meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move. Compound exercises such as push-ups and lunges have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements. And research shows improved core strength translates to improved strength gains throughout the entire body.Woman yoga exercise

While there’s no universal “best” way to exercise for everyone, bodyweight movements offer lots of benefits, especially if you’re new to resistance training. Whether you’re at home, at the gym, or even in a hotel room, bodyweight training is one tool that can be helpful to all levels in every setting.

Here’s some of our favourite Bodyweight Exercises we like to regularly include in our client’s workouts and these are a simple, effective way to improve balance, flexibility, and strength without any extra machinery or extra equipment.woman-squatting

Inchworm. Stand up tall with the legs straight, and let those fingertips hit the floor. Keeping the legs straight (but not locked!), slowly lower the torso toward the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps so the feet meet the hands. Continue bugging out for 4-6 reps.

Tuck Jump. Standing with the knees slightly bent, jump up as high as possible and bring the knees in toward the chest while extending the arms straight out. Land with the knees slightly bent and quickly jump again!

Bear Crawl. Embrace that inner grizzly. Starting on the hands and knees, rise up onto the toes, tighten the core, and slowly reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left side. Continue the crawl for 8-10 reps.

Mountain Climber. Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward.

Burpees. One of the most effective full-body exercises around, this one starts out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up portion of the show.

Plank. Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped. Extend the legs behind the body and rise up on the toes. Keeping the back straight, hips and shoulders level, tighten the core and hold the position for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can hang).

Wall Sit. Who needs a chair when there’s a wall? Slowly slide your back down a wall until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the knees are directly above the ankles and keep the back straight. Go for 60 seconds per set (or however long it takes to turn those legs to jelly).

Lunge. Stand with the hands on the hips and feet hip-width apart. Step your right leg forward and slowly lower body until left (back) knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Try stepping back into the lunge for a different variation.

Lunge Jump. Stand with the feet together and lunge forward with the right foot. Jump straight up, propelling the arms forward while keeping the elbows bent. While in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Repeat and continue switching legs. Try to do 10!

Squat. Stand with the feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees—whatever is most comfortable. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.

Step-Up. This may be self-explanatory, but just in case—find a step or bench, and place the right foot on the elevated surface. Step up until the right leg is straight and foot is fully on the step, then return to start.

Standard Push-Up. With hands shoulder-width apart, keep the feet flexed at hip distance, and tighten the core. Bend the elbows until the chest reaches the ground, and then push back up (make sure to keep the elbows tucked close to the body).

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Superman. Lie face down with arms and legs extended. Keeping the torso as still as possible, simultaneously raise the arms and legs to form a small curve in the body.

Shoulder Stabilisation Series (Y, T, W). OK, it may look crazy, but stay with us. Lie down on your stomach with arms extended overhead and palms facing each other. Move the arms into each letter formation. (Singing YMCA IS OPTIOANL!!.)

Side Plank. Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged, and hang tight for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can stomach!).

Glute (& Shoulder) Bridge. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place arms at your side and lift up the spine and hips. Only the head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be on the ground. Then lift one leg upwards, keeping the core tight. Slowly bring the leg back down then lift back up.

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There you have it; all the reasons why Bodyweight Exercises are good for you and some exercises for you to try; now get cracking!

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So it’s a Carbo – Protein – Fat type food? I’ll have two

Macronutrients Guide – Dietary Facts on Carbs Protein and Fat

There is almost too much information spinning around on the subject of nutrition, mainly because of the amount of “diet experts” that perpetuate the world of marketing. Cutting through all of this information and misinformation can be challenging at best. In this article, you will learn foundational nutritional information as well as some specific techniques you can use to help keep you lean and healthy. This article will attempt to align with current food labeling information while hopefully being easy to follow and understand.

For the purpose of this article, we will define a macronutrient as one of a group of food chemical compounds that we as humans consume to provide the bulk of our energy – specifically carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Understanding the relationship between these macronutrients as well as how the body processes them can give you a big advantage in the quest toward a healthier you. Let’s start with carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates A carbohydrate is just a sugar on a fundamental level. In fact, the word monosaccharide can be literally translated as “single sugar”. Carbohydrates in nutrition are all types of sugars, and while sugar has earned a bad reputation in the health and nutrition circles, it is important to understand that carbohydrates all fit in this classification. How they are structured and how your body processes them changes the impact different saccharides may have on your body, however.bowl

The three main types of carbohydrates to be concerned about are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Literally translated, the prefix mono is single, di is double, and poly is many. So a polysaccharide is technically nothing more than a clump of monosaccharides and a disaccharide is nothing more than two monosaccharides combined together.

Why is this important? Well, you can break the category of carbohydrates down into a more global separation to match with nutritional labels by using the terms “simple sugar” (mono or disaccharide) and “complex carbohydrate” (polysaccharide). It is also important because of the way your body digests carbohydrates.

As food is being digested, your body is looking to break whatever food comes into the digestive system down by reducing it into very manageable blocks. In the case of carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into a simple sugar called glucose (otherwise known as blood sugar). Glucose will be stored in your muscle tissue and liver and held as stored energy (called glycogen). Glucose is also primarily used by your brain. If you’ve ever noticed how your energy levels can drop after spending a lot of time thinking, this shows you how much blood sugar that computer in your head can eat up. Interestingly enough, glucose is a monosaccharide and glycogen is a polysaccharide. Glycogen will be broken down into glucose as needed and is stored to keep blood sugar levels relatively steady.

So if you eat two different carbohydrates, let’s say one is table sugar (sucrose, a disaccharide) and the other is a potato (a polysaccharide otherwise known as starch), your body will go to work digesting them. The table sugar is snapped in two and converted over to glucose relatively quickly. After all, there isn’t much to do – just break the thing in half, pretty much. The starch, on the other hand, is more of a tangled mess as it consists of multiple glucose molecules jammed together. This takes your body a bit longer to break apart (think of taking confetti off of flypaper). Here’s what this means to you: the simple carbohydrate is digested quickly and hits your blood stream rapidly, while the complex carbohydrate takes a bit longer to digest and consequently the glucose molecules are more steadily released into your bloodstream, not to mention the benefit of vitamins and minerals from the potato that the table sugar is lacking.

All of this relates to important terms like “glycemic index” and “glycemic load”. The nugget of wisdom to get out of all of this is the same kind of things that you’ve heard before: eat more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates (also referred to as simple sugars).

If we look at the thermic effect of carbohydrates, because it takes energy to digest the very food that is used to obtain energy, it is estimated that carbohydrates will take away about 10% of their caloric value through the digestive process. So, if you ate 50 calories of complex carbohydrates, your body would spend about 5 calories breaking down that carbohydrate into usable glucose. This figure may become more significant as we look at the other macronutrients.

Special Note: While dietary fibre is categorised under the carbohydrate section of nutritional labels, it is technically indigestible by humans as dietary fiber is a non-starch polysaccharide. Fibre is primarily used by the body to absorb toxins and help push food through the digestive system. Fibre is a crucial part of healthy dietary nutrition so look for good sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fats One of the most interesting things about fats is the fact that just because you ingest fat doesn’t mean that you will end up being fat. Fats are a critical part of healthy dietary intake and are utilised within the body for a variety of purposes, some of which include health of cell walls, storing/transferring fat-soluble vitamins, skin and hair health, and providing energy for your body. Like carbohydrates, there are different types of fats that the body can use.

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Saturated fat gets a lot of bad press, like sugar above, and is found primarily in animal meats as well as some oils (coconut, cottonseed, palm kernel, etc.). It is important to note that not all fats labeled as saturated fats are the same. There is a fundamental difference in the fatty acid ratios between coconut oil and butter, for example.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tends to be liquids at room temperature, due to the nature of the chemical bonds that prevent them from easily being ‘”stacked’” on top of one another. You can think of saturated fat as a straight wire and polyunsaturated fats more like steel wool. If you try to stack a couple of wires on top of one another, you can make a pretty dense little metal structure. If you try to mash steel wool into the same kind of shape, it will spring back and refuse to flatten out.

However, these polyunsaturated fats can be chemically straightened by changing the nature of the bond in the fats. Chemically speaking, the double bond that is in a formation called ‘”cis” is changed to ‘”trans”. This takes some of the bends out of the unsaturated fat and allows it to better stack against itself. So much so, in fact, that you can force this chemically treated oil to become somewhat solid at room temperature. Thus we have “trans fat” which was originally marketed as margarine, ironically labeled a “healthier alternative to butter”. We tend to stick with the “nature knows best” philosophy when it comes to food.

So, if eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat, then what do you need to know about it? You should first know that fats help make you feel full. They are packed with energy – over twice that of carbohydrates and proteins on average – and should not be the mainstay of your nutritional uptake, but are very important nonetheless. In a meal of mixed macronutrients, a recommended manner of eating, fats will help to slow down the absorption of foods with a higher glycemic index. This will help the energy from carbohydrates be more evenly distributed into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and corresponding fat storage responses in your body. Fats also help you feel full, so if you’re eating at a healthy and slow pace, your body should send signals of fullness earlier than if eating just carbohydrates, for example.

The thermic effect of fats is depressed from other foods – if carbohydrates were somewhere around a 10% thermic effect, fats are sitting in at 5% or less. In essence, fats are long chains of molecules. In order to digest these chains, your body just goes along snipping them into smaller chains. This doesn’t take as much work as breaking apart the component sugar molecules of carbohydrates, for example.

With fats, it’s a good idea to stick with mono and polyunsaturated fat sources as the primary source of fat in your dietary intake. Foods that are rich in omega-3 (and omega-9) fatty acids are a good bet, and stay away from foods that use trans fats. Remember, you can turn a good fat into a trans fat if you cook it at high enough temperature so become knowledgeable about the heat sensitivity of different oils that you may be cooking with.

Proteins If you get down to the meat of it all (pardon the pun), proteins are another critical building block of a healthy dietary intake. In fact, meats are one of the main sources of proteins, although different vegetables will have them as well. Proteins are essentially tangles of amino acid molecules. There are twenty different types of nutritional amino acids, some of which are labeled as “essential amino acids” because our bodies cannot produce them on their own and we must get them from our nutritional intake.

If a protein contains all of the essential amino acids, it is considered a “complete” protein. An “incomplete” protein is therefore a protein that does not contain all of the essential amino acids. Does this mean that incomplete proteins are bad? Of course not. In fact, many vegetables fit into this category and by eating two vegetables that compliment the “missing” amino acids in each other’s profile, your dietary intake will then have a complete amino acid profile (example: beans and rice).meat

Proteins are used in our cells for a variety of functions. One of the more publicised functions is the building of muscle tissue. Without proper protein intake, your body will be unable to maintain all of those tiny muscle fibers that make up your muscles which help to keep you strong, toned and muscular. So protein is a pretty important macronutrient when it comes to staying lean and healthy. After all, if our base metabolism is primarily determined by how much living tissue we have in our bodies (muscle, bone, etc.), then we might as well keep as much as we reasonably can.

The thermic food effect of proteins is a little different from fats and carbohydrates. Remember how proteins are a tangled knot of amino acids? Well, it takes a lot more work to break these things down for your body to use them. So much so, in fact, that it’s estimated that your body may spend as much as 30% of the energy available in the protein just to access the amino acids. Even if we go with a more conservative 20% number, it’s easy to see that 50 calories of proteins may end up with only 40 calories actually getting into your body when everything is said and done. Combine that with the fact they are generally slower digesting (your body has to untie all those knots) and they keep you feeling full longer and it’s easy to see why proteins are a very important part of a balanced dietary intake.

Wrapping Up The phrases “you get what you pay for” and “garbage in, garbage out” really hit home in relation to macronutrients. Use the guideline of eating the best quality of food that you can on a regular basis. If an entire meal costs a euro or two, you can likely bet that the quality is matching the price and you’ll be paying for this later. Since we exercise a couple of times a week but we eat a couple of times a day, it makes sense to become knowledgeable about the different macronutrients and their roles in your body.

Eat healthy, live well and have fun discovering food that treats your body right!

 

New Diet – I lost 14 stone in one day!!

diets_5__300x0How Healthy Can You Get on Diet Alone?

 For any number of reasons, far too many of us are sedentary; long working hours, desk bound, school runs and on it goes. There are reports that show far too many of us spends less than 10 minutes a week on any moderately intense activities, such as walking and housework, or vigorous ones, such as running, according to 2005 statistics from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A quarter of Americans say they’re not performing any physical activity during their free time and, if that applies to them you can be pretty sure we will follow suit. All of this sitting on the couch or behind a desk is undoubtedly contributing to the country’s rising health care costs–but does a lack of exercise necessarily mean we’re unhealthy?

Every day, we’re bombarded with new reports or the latest magic diet about how crucial it is to our good health to consume more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) and cut the trans fats (e.g., doughnuts, french fries). While, of course, you should exercise, if you’re not, you may be wondering just how far a focus on diet alone can take you.

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Diet Pros

Many experts agree that diet may play a bigger role than exercise when it comes to shedding pounds. However, the most effective method of weight loss tends to be a combination of exercise and a decrease in your overall caloric intake, says Dr. Donald D. Hensrud, medical editor in chief of Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for Everybody.

Eating right also is an essential part of reducing your risk of chronic disease. Watching how much saturated and trans fats you consume may lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”), one of the major causes of clogged arteries. Likewise, following a diet similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop

Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has been shown to lower blood pressure and cut the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Based on findings by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this diet plan is low in animal protein, moderate in low-fat dairy and high in plant proteins, fruits and vegetables. Avoiding foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, and instead opting for more vegetables and fruits, can help protect against several forms of cancer, such as those affecting the stomach, lungs, pancreas and prostate, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

We consult with our clients on a regular basis to help plan their food intake, making small manageable changes to improve what they eat. Fresh food, simple recipes all help to fuel our bodies and provide the nutrients required to allow us to produce the energy required and recover from activities whilst controlling or weight.

Complements of Exercise

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But don’t get so comfortable in your desk chair yet. As important as eating smart is, experts say the health benefits are greater when combined with physical activity. Regular exercise can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “good cholesterol”), another component of lowering the risk of heart disease, says Stacey Snelling, a registered dietician and an associate professor at American University in the Department of Health and Fitness. While diet is one way to address high blood pressure, exercise will also help by making your heart stronger, allowing it to pump more blood with less effort. If you’re concerned about diseases like cancer, for instance, you’re far better off keeping up your activity level, since exercise can help keep hormone levels healthy and strengthen the immune system. Denser muscle fibres also help boost our metabolism, meaning we can burn more energy when we are active.

What You’re Missing

Beyond missing out on these benefits, experts say dieting without an eye toward exercise has a host of other drawbacks.

A 2006 study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that overweight people in their 50s and 60s who dropped weight via diet alone also lost muscle mass, strength and aerobic capacity. Those who were active, even with low intensity activities such as jogging or cycling could maintain their strength levels, as well as their aerobic capacity. Those who did some form of strength training could help off-set the effects of aging on muscle mass; as we age we naturally lose muscle mass but resistance work can help slow this process down. “If people are keeping their weight under control strictly by dieting, they might be compromising their muscular strength and function,” says Edward Weiss, lead author of the study and assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University’s Doisy College of Health Sciences.

Losing weight through dietary changes alone also won’t affect your body composition, so while you’ll weigh less, you’ll still have the same percentage of body fat. Strengthening exercises, while they might not result in rapid weight loss, will help improve your muscle-to-fat ratio, says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. Since a pound of muscle takes up less volume than a pound of fat, you’ll see a difference over time. “It’ll have a pretty profound effect on how you look and fit in your clothing,” Bryant says.

Additionally, exercise can improve your mood, increase energy levels and is considered crucial to keeping off the pounds you’ve shed, according to the National Weight Control Registry. Exercise is also important because, as we age, we slow down, and our spontaneous physical activity decreases. (Think of the difference between the movement of a 6-year-old boy and an 80-year-old man.) We also lose about 1% of our muscle mass each year, which slows metabolism, Hensrud says. If you’re not exercising, eating the same amount of healthy food will translate into weight gain over time. Loss of muscle strength will also impact on posture and can increase chances of injury our muscles become weaker.

 

Bottom Line

If you can’t find time to do a full workout, health experts say you’re much better off finding ways to sneak short bursts of activity into your day rather than give up altogether. Our small group training programs are 30 minutes long; that’s 30 minutes out of a 24 hour day!!

Conversely, if you’re one of those people who exercise so you can eat whatever you want (think Spin class followed by special coffee & sweet treat) and, know that you’re probably not as healthy as you think, either. “Exercise and diet is always going to be the best strategy,” Weiss says. “If you’re good with one, that doesn’t mean you can brush off the other.”

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Faster, Harder, Stronger!! Oh I need to do it properly..

13 tips for a successful 2016

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1. Drink more water: By now, this one should go without saying. Water is the number one thing your body needs for survival (not soda, or Red Bull!), so how can you possibly expect to perform at a high level if you’re not drinking enough? If you feel thirsty chances are you’re already starting to dehydrate and if you are exercising, always have a bottle of water with you.

2. Form is everything!: Nothing irritates us more than watching motivated clients throw weights around with reckless abandon. We know that you’re young and feel invincible. We also get that many of you will do whatever is physically necessary to realise your fitness goals. That said, performing an exercise just to lift more or get it over with is neither necessary, nor is it particularly smart. Take the time to learn the proper form for lifts like squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts and overhead presses. Once you have the basic mechanics down, then you can gradually start increasing the weight. Working with one of our trainers will educate you to know what good looks like so that you are able to get the most of any exercise.

 3. Posture is more important than you realise: If you don’t move properly, how can you expect to exercise properly. Besides looking unattractive, poor posture can adversely affect your breathing, your digestion and increase your injury risk by promoting widespread muscular imbalance. By simply trying to stand and sit up a little bit straighter several times throughout the day, you can help undue some of effects of all that constant texting and gaming.  We also work on this when we put the warm up exercises together; movements that improve range of movement, help with flexibility and strengthen your joint mobility.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Here’s another area where the average person’s diet falls woefully short. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber that are lacking in many of the other foods you guys tend to eat. They’re also a great way to improve immune system function, lowering your risk for developing all sorts of diseases.  We sit down with all of our clients and help them record and map out their food intake and any changes needed.

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5. Want to get faster? Get stronger? Doing endless speed and agility drills is not always the best way to get faster. If you’re not also working to increase strength through the lower body and core, as well develop good ankle and hip mobility, they’ll be of limited value. Working on specific movements and working with a coach that understands the mechanics for producing force and speed will push you on much more efficiently.

6. Don’t rely on supplements: Supplements are something you add to an already sound nutritional program; they’re not some magic pill.  They are called supplements for a reason; they will add something to your diet if it is currently missing.  For most people, a good balanced diet will provide sufficient energy for the body to function, they will usually only require supplements if their current intake is lacking a vital mineral or ingredient.  If you think that something with a nice, shiny label, full of ridiculous claims is going to make up for a steady diet of McDonald’s Big Mac and cheese, you’re kidding yourself.shopping pic

7. Change your internal dialogue: When you constantly say things like “I stink”, or “I’m never going to lift that heavy weight, how do you ever expect to succeed? As soon as you start thinking negatively, you body (muscles) will follow; “I can’t left that 15kg” guess what, you don’t lift it.  A positive ‘can do’ approach will deliver more results and get you to reach your goal. Even if it isn’t true right away, it will start getting you in the proper frame of mind to make those changes a reality.

 8. If you can’t see it in the mirror, train it!: Stop focusing on all of your “mirror muscles” (LADS!!) with lots of bench presses, crunches and biceps curls. The real key to a healthy and fit successful body lies in training everything on the back side of your body. Strengthening your upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves will give your body much more balance and stability.

9. Sweat the small stuff: If you’re not making time to warm-up thoroughly, stretch and foam roll on a regular basis, you’re making a huge mistake.  Though frequently missed, these represent some of the best ways for you to improve performance and reduce injury risk. I for one consider them every bit as important (if not more) than strength training, cardio and speed or agility work.

10. Choose whole grains whenever possible: Minimise your intake of foods made with white flour such as white breads, bagels, white pasta and even white rice and potatoes. They bring about rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to subsequent energy crashes. Instead, try and opt for whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and sweet potatoes.

11. Give “camp” the boot: Count me amongst those who are not big fans of bootcamp training for inexperienced trainers. While great workouts for more experienced trainees who are looking to test the limits of their strength and endurance, they’re seldom a good option for developing bodies. Contrary to popular belief, you tend to do better with lower reps, especially when doing more technically proficient exercises like compound movements. Boot camps tend to feature way too much volume, which only invites fatigue and increases injury risk.plank1


12. Be prepared!: Whether it’s forgetting to bring enough water along to practice, or not having any healthy snacks on hand, your lack of preparation is no one’s fault but your own. Take some time each evening to set up some nutritious meals and snacks for the next day. This especially applies to your food intake!

13. There are no short cuts: That’s exactly why we written all of this in list fashion- so that you can chunk things down and make gradual, consistent efforts towards achieving your goals. We know all about the impatience of youth or inexperience how it should be picture like it or not, though, if you really want these changes to stick, it’s going to take you some time.

Call or email us to see how YOU start your health & fitness journey in an effective and supportive environment.

I don’t need a trainer to tell me what to do!!!!!

food diary

By now you have read our posts about making a plan to start your new healthy lifestyle, pursue your fitness goals and change the way you eat. You have mapped out your weekly exercise routine be it in the gym, talking walks or joining a new class and you have started making new lists for when you go shopping; choosing fresh foods, trying new dishes and getting rid of the junk food by recording it all in your food diary right??

Well it’s January and you haven’t started yet, how many excuses have we found to stop you from starting; the bad weather, I’ll wait for the kids to go back to school or I’ll start tomorrow.  I forget the number of people I have spoken to as a trainer who have said that yes, working with a trainer will get me results and improve my health and fitness BUT I’m just not fit enough at present to workout with one as they will kill me, so I will train by myself for a bit before I sign up.  Guess what; you will go off and do maybe a couple of exercise sessions (maybe a class or two, go for a long walk) and then ‘something’ will come up and you will stop: back into the old routine that you are currently in, looking at yourself in the mirror and being fed up. There is just no accountability.PT

Well, here’s the thing; working with a trainer won’t ‘kill you’, its the trainers job to show you how to achieve the goals you want; whether that’s to lose weight, tone up or add some muscle.  They are there to explain what you need to be doing; what you should be eating, what types of exercises you should be doing and educating you to the point that you are able to go off by yourself and know how to live and maintain a healthier lifestyle.  Yes, the sessions can be tough but a good trainer will show you how much work you need to be doing to drop that dress size; they will help you to change your eating & shopping habits.  The key point is that a trainer will SUPPORT you to make changes, good coaches teach!

If you’re just getting started with exercise, or you’ve already been working out but not seeing the results you’d like, you might be surprised at just how much a personal trainer can help you look and feel more in shape—and quite quickly, too! Here are five reasons why hiring a qualified personal trainer could be the best move you’ll ever make toward achieving better health and fitness.

1. You’ll Actually Show Up

Some fitness experts recommend scheduling workouts into your diary like appointments. Now for the truth: If you’re not in the mood to exercise on your own, it’s easy to hit delete on a workout because it’s kind of a fake appointment.

What’s not so easy is cancelling a workout you’ve already paid a personal trainer for. It’s a real appointment that your trainer scheduled into his or her packed workday just for you. Wasting money is painful, and wasting someone else’s time is embarrassing. Hiring a personal trainer puts someone in your court to keep you accountable.

2. You’ll Get More Out of Your Goals

You might hire an accountant to prepare your taxes because you know that a skilled professional helps you achieve the best outcome. It’s a fact that experts (e.g., personal trainers) in a given field (health & fitness) know a bunch of stuff other people don’t. Leveraging their knowledge saves you time and frustration.  When you hire a personal trainer, you put yourself on a fast-track to getting more of what you want from fitness, including being able to define and refine your goals in ways you might not have considered. Trainers know the right form of workout, best exercises, correct equipment and best programming for plenty of client goals. It’s what they do for a living.

IMG-20151216-WA0001kevinDeclan O'Brien

3. You’ll Sometimes Do What You Didn’t Know You Could Do

Chances are, your personal trainer is going to occasionally, or frequently, suggest an exercise you’re unsure of or hand over a set of weights that are heavier than what you’d ever pick up. You might be surprised to discover that you are capable of what’s being asked of you!

With your abilities and goals in mind, a personal trainer will push you more than you’d push yourself. And it’s enough to make a difference in how fit you look and feel. Worried about it being too intense? A skilled, credentialed personal trainer knows just how far to safely take a client outside his or her comfort zone to achieve the best results.

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4. You’ll Gain More Confidence With Working Out

Hiring a personal trainer helps you avoid a big workout blunder: Guessing at how to do an exercise or use a piece of equipment. At best, this wastes your time; at worst, it sets you up for injury.  With a trainer by your side, you gain access to “inside information” about how to properly perform exercises and make the most of equipment. When someone’s watching out for you—checking your form and providing personalised feedback—you can feel confident that you’re exercising like the pros.

5. You’ll Lay the Foundation for Lifelong Fitness

If you’ve hired the right personal trainer—one who is attentive to your abilities and goals, and is skilled at his or her job, who’s personality matches—a funny thing happens: You look forward to your training sessions! Hanging out with your trainer during sessions can be quite social, which creates a stronger commitment to exercise for a lot of people. The more motivated you feel to get to the gym, the closer you become to making fitness a lifelong habit.

 

Think about it; if you believe you can achieve your health & fitness goal without the support and help of a trainer, WHY HAVEN’T YOU?

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Beat the Holiday Bulge!!

10 Strategies to Prevent the Holiday Bulge
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‘Tis the season for holiday feasts, a calendar packed with holiday parties, and weather that can diminish our motivation to train. In November and December we’re faced with every culinary temptation imaginable, which makes it difficult to maintain peak fitness.

In fact, it’s common for some to pack on five to 10 pounds of body fat onto their bodies during the holiday season, which can compromise any plans we have when trying to watch our shape.
Fortunately, the situation is far from hopeless. It’s possible to enjoy all the festivities–including the special foods that help make the season so enjoyable. Read on to learn about 10 nutrition and fitness strategies that will help you maintain peak fitness during the holiday season.

1. Eat four to six smaller meals rather than “saving” yourself for that special holiday meal
Do you honestly think you can resist the smell of a holiday kitchen when you’re starving? Chances aren’t too favourable. Not only do smaller, more frequent meals enhance metabolic activity (meaning you burn more calories during the day), your less likely to binge on those holiday treats. To help curb your appetite before a party, choose to snack on “heavy” foods or those that contain a high water content like broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables. Appetite-control researchers have found that your brain may monitor how much you eat based on the weight of your food. One study discovered that people automatically stop eating when they consume a particular weight of food, regardless of the amount of fat or calories.
If the food was light, but high in calories, study participants could easily consume 1,000 calories without feeling satisfied. But they stopped eating heavier low-calorie foods after just a few hundred calories. For example, for 300 calories, you could either have a couple handfuls of chips or five oranges. So instead of eating lightweight foods like chips, crackers, rice cakes and popcorn to curb your appetite, choose heavier foods like fruits and vegetables.

2. Plan a workout before a holiday party or big meal
Why not use all those scrumptious holiday foods as recovery from a hard run or bicycle ride? In the one or two hours after intense exercise, our bodies are more sensitive to the hormone insulin, which helps transport sugars to our depleted muscles. All those precious carbohydrates found in starchy holiday dishes like mashed potatoes, or sugars found in cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie are excellent for glycogen replenishment. And the protein you’ll get from that holiday turkey meal will help repair damaged tissue. Furthermore, our metabolism is heightened after a hard effort, meaning we’re more effective at burning those little “indulgences” that may otherwise pack on the unwanted weight for upcoming training.

3. When eating, SLOW DOWN!
If you’re competitive by nature, you may be inclined to “hurry” your meals. Unfortunately, you won’t win a medal by eating fast and you’ll make it even harder to win one with those additional pounds slowing your pace. It takes at least 20 minutes for our brains to signal that we’re actually full, which means a slow eater will consume less calories before feeling full than someone who races through their meal. So rather than attempting to finish your plate first, see if you can outlast the competition by being the last to finish.
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4. Remember the law of diminishing returns
Doesn’t the first bite always taste the best? When looking at brain chemicals signalling “pleasure,” scientists have found that we receive less pleasure the more we eat of a food. So rather than feeling like you must eat a full serving of every dessert at a holiday meal, take a bite or two and receive 90 percent of the pleasure at 10 percent of the calories

5. Take advantage of “nutritionally dense” holiday foods
Perhaps you’ve never thought of traditional holiday foods as a nutritional gift. You may have considered those 10 pounds you gained from holiday eating more of a nutritional wake-up call than a gift. Fortunately, many holiday food staples can supply our bodies with a multitude of health-enhancing nutrients and when consumed in moderation, can actually become year-round nutritional staples. So during this holiday season, be sure to include these health enhancing foods:

Cranberries: Cranberries are a fruit for all seasons, although they’re more apparent during the holidays. The cranberry’s plant pigment that provides colour to our holiday plate also provides a number of compounds that have shown early promise against cancer and heart disease. The ellagic acid in cranberries has been shown to help prevent tumour growth by disarming cancer-causing agents. In addition, cranberries contain two powerful flavonoids–quercetin and myricetin–that have been shown to prevent damage to blood vessel linings, thereby playing a role in the prevention of artery disease. Because cranberries are tart when eaten alone, many cranberry sauce recipes call for a lot of sugar. Generally, reducing the sugar content by 25 percent still yields a tasty product.

Turkey: Turkey has been a staple protein source. Turkey also provides significant sources of B-vitamins, selenium and zinc, nutrients essential for optimal nerve and immune function. Skip the outer skin and you’ll avoid most of the fat. While white meat (turkey breast) is generally considered the most nutritious part of the bird with its low fat content, darker meat contains 10 percent more iron per three-ounce serving. When selecting a turkey, choose fresh, unbaked rather than pre-basted–these are injected with an oil and salty broth mixture. You can baste the turkey with broth, sherry or white wine rather than butter to further reduce the fat content.

Sweet Potatoes: Despite an impressive nutritional profile and sweet flavour, sweet potato consumption has gone down instead of up. A four-ounce sweet potato contains a mere 143 calories and provides over 100 percent of our daily needs for beta-carotene. It also provides more than a quarter of our daily needs for vitamins C and E–nutrients that have been shown to help protect cell damage in athletes competing in extreme environments (e.g., altitude, heat, cold, pollution), as well as enhance muscle recovery after intense running efforts. In addition, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of iron: Add sweet potatoes to chili or your favourite potato salad recipe; shred it raw into hamburger, meatloaf and meatball mixtures; toss chunks of it into salads; or use mashed sweet potato as ravioli stuffing.
Chestnuts – “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” provide quite the nutritional punch. In contrast to other calorie- and fat-laden nuts, chestnuts contain less than one gram of fat per ounce, while providing a hefty dose of fibre (3.7 grams), vitamin C (12 percent RDA), and folic acid (10 percent RDA)–nutrients important for immune function, formation of collagen and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Chestnuts are good in stuffing, pilaf, vegetable side dishes and soups. They’re also excellent snacks by themselves.

6. Offer to bring a healthy dish to holiday parties
If you’re concerned about the unhealthy array of foods that are bound to be served at an upcoming function, call the host ahead of time to see if you can bring a healthy dish. Chances are, the host will be happy to have some help with the overwhelming task of pleasing a hungry crowd!
For appetisers, you could bring a vegetable platter with low-fat dip; a colourful fruit platter with a dip made from non-fat yogurt blended with a dab of fat-free cool whip garnished with roasted chestnuts; whole wheat pita triangles served with hummus; or baked tortilla chips with chunky salsa and/or fat-free refried bean dip

7. Try recipe modification
Many people fret about a cooking disaster when preparing a large meal during the holidays and therefore don’t want to experiment with new ingredients. But often times these new ingredients enhance both the nutritional value and the flavour of the dish. For example, prepare a batch of muffins using a traditional recipe with oil and another batch substituting applesauce for the oil. Of course the recipe modification enhanced the nutritional value of the muffins, but the flavour and overall satisfaction of the modified muffin recipe is usually just as good if not better than the traditional recipe. So, making modifications of your favourite recipes can make the dish healthier, and perhaps even tastier. To avoid a potential cooking disaster, you can always practice the modified recipe before the big day to help enhance the nutritional value of your holiday menu.

8. Beware of liquid calories, especially alcohol
Be careful, those liquid calories can add up quickly (see Table 1). Alcohol actually contains almost as many calories per gram as fat (seven calories vs. nine calories per gram). Combine the alcohol with creamy or sweet mixtures, and you get even more calories. Alcohol also tends to lower our inhibitions, which means you’ll be less careful about what and how much you indulge at the party. So instead of reaching for the bubbly, rotate a non-caloric drink like diet soda, water or spritzer into the mix. That way you’ll be able to allocate more of your calorie budget on the delicious holiday foods you enjoy.

Table 1: Calories Found in Alcoholic Beverages
Beverage / Serving size / Calories
Beer 12 ounces 160
Light Beer 12 ounces 100
Non-alcoholic Beer 12 ounces 32
Red Wine 4 ounces 85
White Wine 4 ounces 80
Wine Cooler 8 ounces 120
Daiquiri 4 ounces 225
Margarita 4 ounces 270
Gin and tonic 4 ounces 150
Pina colada 4 ounces 262

9. Don’t “hang out” at the appetiser table when socialising at a party
It’s hard to believe how much those small handfuls of munchies add up at a party. If you consumed the following appetisers were consumed in the two hours before the meal look at how many calories you have eaten: 4 rye crackers with ~1/2 ounce of soft cheese 3 bunches of grapes 3 handfuls of mixed nuts 2 glasses of wine 1 handful M&Ms with nuts 2 pieces broccoli with ~1 Tbsp cream cheese dip
Total: 1,209 calories, 60 g fat, 28 g protein, 110 g carbohydrate. This adds up, especially when you consider these totals make up approximately half the total daily calories needed by the average active person. Make a conscious effort to position yourself away from the ‘hors d’oeuvres’ at a holiday function. pudding

10. Use a journal to monitor your training and nutrition
One of the best ways to track your health and fitness program is with a training log and the same holds true for your food intake. I’ve found that my most successful clients are those who actually take the time to monitor both their training and food intake in a daily log. It not only makes you accountable to yourself on a daily basis, but it’s also a great way to develop nutritional goals for yourself and determine which eating patterns improve your energy levels and help enhance your overall performance.
Above all, don’t punish yourself if you do tend to overindulge at a holiday function. Chances are those extra calories will serve as fuel for your next activity. If you try starving yourself to compensate, you’ll most likely overcompensate on some of the less-healthy indulgences that are readily available during the holidays. Rather than fretting about food, learn to focus on the social aspects of this special time of year, enjoying the company of friends and family.

Happy holidays!merry xmas sign