The festive season is full of parties, food and alcohol and although it is the time to be merry it may be worth taking a few measures to ensure our waistbands don’t expand to the size of Santa Claus! No one wants those post-Christmas blues because they have put on a few extra pounds so try these neat tricks to stay on top.
By making a few good choices when you have a tipple or have a meal you can maintain a reasonable calorific income.
1. Alcohol: Spirits with a mixer or prosecco rather than wine and beer. Drink lots of water during this time.
2. Nibbles and Starters: go for the nuts and fruits when snacking. Look for the protein and salads for starters and try and avoid the bread.
3. Main Course: The trimmings are the bit that can tip the scales in terms of calories. So focus on the protein of the meal, for most the chirstmas turkey and then have lots of vegetables (especially the carrots, sprouts and swede). There is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy every part of your Christmas dinner just keep a check on how much you are having, portion control goes a long way on keeping the calories in check.
4. Desert: you can either go for the healthy option, such as fruit, give it a miss, share with a friend or plan the meals at which you intend to have whatever desert you want.
5. Keep moving, it’s easy to go from one place to another always sitting down, from the car journey to the relatives house, why not meet in a park or at a local nature reserve so everyone gets some fresh air and exercise. Christmas party games are another great way to keep active.
6. Short workouts. Don’t let a lack of time be your reason for not working out over the festive season. If you can’t make your usual 1 hour sessions try and complete a 20 minute high intensity workout.
7. Get walking. You’ve finished your Christmas dinner and you want to sit in front of the tv, get up, out on your gloves, hat and scarf and go for a walk, that sit down afterwards will feel even more deserved after stretching your legs.
8. Stop eating when you are full. It’s so easy to over indulge and have ginormous plates of food at this time of year but you should still stop when you feel full.
9. Don’t skip meals. Even though you may know that you will be having a more extravagant meal than usual don’t send your body into starvation mode because you know you are going to eat later on in the day. Also try to eat slowly so your body realises when it is full.
10. Drink a glass of water. Before a meal and when drinking alcohol a great way to reduce the amount that you are eating and reducing dehydration is to have a glass of water.
11. Portion control. Try to not overeat. Often you can make good choices but eat much more than usual and that alone can stack on the pounds. Quality not quantity.
12. Go for a run or a cycle ride.
Hopefully this will help you enjoy your Christmas parties and Christmas dinner a little bit more this year safe in the knowledge that you are more likely to feel good going into the New Year.
As always, please get in touch if you need any help formulating a plan of action...
I’m sure that many of you will have heard the term “core” before. Some of you may know what it is, some may know how you use yours and others have no idea at all. I’m going to take a look at why it is important that we all know what it is and how we work it.
What is our “core”?
When we talk about our “core” we are referring to the muscles in our torso, generally people think of their stomach muscles and lower back. Specifically, the major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius. In summary the core involves many muscles some are superficial and can be seen on the surface and others are muscles that lie deep within our torso, it is important to be aware of this when looking to strengthen and engage your core. It isn’t just about bracing your “6-pack”.
When do we use our core?
- Daily tasks: from housework to gardening, every time you bend, lift, twist or carry something your core will be involved.
- Sports: from walking to running, racquet sports to cycling, swimming to golf, you will be using your core to do so. If your core is weak you may find it difficult to do certain movements or improve technique. You may experience pain whilst performing these activities such as lower back pain, if you find this it is worthwhile checking how strong you core is and if you are engaging your core correctly whilst performing that activity.
- Posture: in order to stand tall with good posture you need to ensure you engage your core muscles and that they are strong and working correctly and effectively. If you find that you have bad posture it may be because you have weak core muscles.
How to engage it
In simple terms, you should take a big breath and then you want to try and imagine that you are pulling your tummy button towards your spine at the same time as ‘drawing up’ from the pelvic floor. If you are unsure about how it feels to engage the pelvic floor imagine you want to stop yourself from going to the toilet. Think of the action as ‘hollowing’ out your tummy area rather than just bracing your abs.
Some find it quite challenging to get the hang of but once you’ve got it, it is invaluable for all movements whether it be day to day or exercise.
There are a number of tests that can be carried out to assess core function. If you would like to find out how well your core functions, get in touch.
Exercises to strengthen your core
Here are some exercises that you could try at home (seek professional advice if you have any medical issues or are unsure how to carry them out)
Lie face down on the floor with feet together and forearms on the ground. Draw abs in and tighten glutes. Lift entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on forearms and toes. Hold. Slowly return body to the ground, keeping chin tucked and back flat. If your lower back starts to ache, or you are dropping or raising your hips out of position either make it easier by dropping down to your knees or rest before trying again. Time how long you can hold it for and try and improve each time you do it.
Lie on back with legs extended and hands folded across chest. Pull right knee in toward chest while twisting left shoulder toward right knee. Return to starting position and repeat with other knee and shoulder.
Balance on hands and knees. Lift right leg and left arm, extending right leg to the rear and reaching forward with left arm. Hold. Repeat with opposite arm and leg.
Hopefully that gives you a little more understanding of your core and how important it is.
Any questions please get in touch.
When people want to get in shape it can often be a challenge to get started. It can be even more difficult to make working out a routine habit. There are many ways to try and make a change but I am going to focus on one potential solution. Getting yourself a training partner.
Boredom, loneliness and lack of knowledge are some of the reasons that stop people doing regular exercise sessions. As I have said before consistency is key and if these factors affect you then chances are you won’t stick with your routine for long (if you even have one!).
In an ideal world a training partner would be working towards the same sort of goals but there is no reason they cannot have different goals to yourself. Couples can often have different goals but still make a good team. You can complete similar or different workouts but having someone on a journey of their own whilst you are on yours will make it seem far less daunting. So talk to people around you and see if someone else is ready to commit to getting the results that they want. This may be your partner, friend or work colleague, if you already go to the gym you may find someone there looking for the same as you.
Advantages of having a training partner
Tips for success
So now you know the benefits it’s time to find a partner. Come up with a plan and execute it together and see the results.
People so often look to make changes to their lifestyles. It's easy to get out of the habit of exercise and healthy eating routines become out of sync from the norm. This time of year is a great opportunity to take a look at your current routines and see what changes you can make to see an improvement in your health and fitness over the following months.
One of the most important things in order to improve your health and fitness is to be consistent. It can be tempting to try something for a few days and then go on to try something new. But the key for success to be consistent with each thing that you do. So you may introduce something to your routine and a few days later add something else but it is vital that you maintain the first thing that you started too. To see if something is working will usually take a reasonable period of time, it is rarely the case that you will see changes overnight but stick with it and the changes can be massive. That is the general principle and I will now give you some examples of the sorts of changes that you can make.
These are just a few ways in which you can make changes to your lifestyle, you may want to just make one change or several changes to each aspect for a healthy lifestyle, whatever you choose to do remember to be consistent, stick with it and ask for help if you need it.
Thanks for reading!
Vicki is a Personal Trainer, Coach and Swimming Teacher with the aim of helping others achieve their health and fitness goals.