Monday, 27 May 2013

Portion Distortion

Saturday's dinner was tagliatelle, with a simple homemade sauce of prawns, shallots, mushrooms, half fat crème frache and fish stock. Topped with a salmon fillet.  So your thinking, can't see much wrong with that, carbs, protein, omega 3's, vegetables and healthy fats.  What's wrong with that?

Well today I want to focus on the carbohydrates, mainly the pasta and the manufacturer's serving size of it.

Now this is the pasta in question, and I'm not doubting its deliciousness, because it was lovely (and yes I'd done intense exercise beforehand, so didn't feel too guilty eating it!)  I want to look at its implications of hindering weight loss if this is your primary goal.

This packet size is 350grams, and on the front says 'Serves 2' and this was definitely much more food than was needed for two people.  If you didn't realise, you would probably take this as gospel and tuck into your half a portion which would give you 485 calories, and 92.4grams of carbohydrate.  Now that's the calories just from the pasta without adding the other food groups.  If you are trying to lose weight you may not realise just how detrimental this could be for you.

When I made it on Saturday, even though pasta is one of my favourite meals (especially as a cheat meal) as I was dividing it between myself and my hubby, the portion was starting to look like a mountain!  Now if you've heard of the saying 'eyes are bigger than your belly' (putting more on your plate than you should) then yes I'd be in pasta heaven, but fortunately for me, my stomach and brain took over and I managed to get another portion which I kept for the following day's lunch. 

I worked it out that the whole pack cooked was 970kcals and the total carbohydrate was 184.8g so three portions worked out at a slightly better 323 kcals and 61.6g carbs per portion.  Overall the meal including the other veg and fish I'm estimating it to be around 410kcals.  Although the carbs is still pretty high (for one meal), a large proportion of that would be used to replenish low glycogen stores from the earlier weights and HIIT cardio workout.  If you haven't already seen it, find out how to make carbs work for you, visit this previous blog

Usually the more active we are, the more carbohydrates we can consume, as carbohydrates is our preferred source of fuel and should make up to 50% (but we're talking fibre rich foods and vegetables as well as starchy potatoes, rice and pasta).  Use the following as a guide as to how much carbohydrates you should be taking in daily.

Activity Level
Grams carbohydrate / kg bodyweight per day
2 – 4
Light – moderate
1 hour per day
4 – 5
1 – 2 hours per day
6 - 7
Moderate – heavy
2 – 4 hours
7 - 8
More than 4 hours per day
8 - 10

Take me for example, my daily carbohydrates for my activity level, moderate to heavy is 385g - 440g (55 x 7 / 8)

So I guess the moral of this blog is for you to not always 'eat with your eyes', think of the long term consequence's and if it looks too much, save some for the next day.  Also don't always go on the manufactures serving size, if me and hubby had shared that pasta after a sedentary day, most likely it would have been stored in our fat banks!!

Till next time, all the best

10 Abdominal Secrets to building your 6 pack


Wanted to share, courtesy of  'Body for Life'.  Enjoy some new exercises for those abs, personally can't wait to try the 'Janda' sit-up's.  The 'full contact twists' seems familiar, we have Olympic bars at Warnham Health & Fitness, so am able to do this exercise, I call it a standing version of the 'Russian Twists'. 

Of course goes without saying but if you are unsure of any of these exercises, ask a gym instructor to show you first.  ENJOY!!

Trust Your Gut

10 abdominal secrets to build that six pack

By Clark Bartram


Training abs requires a lot of hard work and imagination. Of all the body parts, abs are probably the least fun to train, but they’re also the first thing to get noticed on the beach. Not only are strong and defined abs the cornerstone of an ideal physique, but having core body strength is also vital for top performance in all your physical activities. And I do mean all your physical activities! 

Properly trained abs can help you be more competitive in sports, they can make it easier to do your job or fix things around the house. And best of all, they can make your romantic romps more fun and exciting. Not bad for just a few minutes of concentrated effort each week!

I recommend training your abs every other day after a weight workout. All you have to do is choose two or three different exercises and perform four to five sets of 10 to 12 reps for each one. Just remember, however, that no amount of any exercise will give you that coveted six pack if you have a layer of fat around your middle. You need to get your body fat down to about 10% or less before your abdominal muscles become visible. So be sure to consistently eat right and do a lot of high intensity cardio (not slow boring cardio!)
For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume that your nutrition is on target, that you’re training aerobically to stay lean and that you really want to enhance your training so you can develop world-class abs. What follows are my top 10 favourite abdominal exercises of all time. Some of them will look absolutely crazy. Others will look kind of familiar, but with a special twist or two to make them more effective. The whole point is to hit your abs from a lot of different angles so you can really get them to pop. If you’re ready to take your abdominal training to the next level, here we go.

Tornado ball—Wall chops and seated chops
Grasp a Tornado ball with a slight "choke up" on the rope. To do the wall chops, lean back against a sturdy wall and bend your knees into a slight squat. Then rotate from side to side, slamming the Tornado ball against the wall. Do this ballistically for about 30 seconds. Seated chops are performed with the same intensity. Simply sit down on the floor and move the ball overhead. These two movements are nearly impossible to duplicate in any gym. Start with one 30-second set for each exercise.

Surrender sit-ups
These are called surrender sit-ups due to the hand position. Your arms will be above your head as if you were surrendering to someone. In the upright position, place your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lower yourself back like a traditional sit-up, but only go as far as you can without lifting your feet off the floor. When your feet begin to rise, come back up to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes throughout the entire movement.

Power Wheel crunches
Unlike a traditional ab wheel, a Power Wheel is attached to your feet, and you move your legs instead of your arms. You can either bend your knees and tuck them into your chest, or do a "pike" with straight legs. Either way, be sure to exhale on each contraction.

Swiss ball weighted crunches
The opportunities are endless when it comes to a Swiss ball, but weighted crunches are one of my favourites. Choose a weight that allows you to perform three sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Position yourself on the ball just to the front of the top (to ensure a full range of motion) and slowly allow your spine to wrap back around the ball. Be sure to anchor your feet with a weight at least twice as heavy as the weight you use to perform the exercise.

Swiss ball reverse crunches
Position your body so your scapula is centered on the top of the ball. Grab a stationary handle above your head and tuck your knees up and around toward your face. I use my eyes as a reference point. As in all abdominal exercises, it’s imperative that you exhale during the effort. Reps are not the only indicator of a good abdominal workout … you should feel each one in the muscle, without obsessing over how many you do.

Hanging leg raises
There are two schools of thought when it comes to hanging leg raises. If you do the entire movement from completely stretched out to completely contracted, then your psoas muscles (hip flexors) assist in the movement. If you start the movement with your legs bent at 90 degrees, you eliminate the use of the hip flexor group. I suggest you mix it up and do the exercise both ways.

Janda sit-ups
These are tremendous once you get the hang of them. Assume the traditional sit-up position, with your arms crossed over your chest. Have someone grab the back of your calves and pull slightly. Slowly sit up, maintaining a contraction in the glutes. If you can’t pull yourself up right away, start with the negative part of the movement.

Full contact twists
These are similar to Tornado ball chops, but they can be done in a gym without any special equipment. Get a 45-pound Olympic bar and place one end in a corner to hold it in place. With your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms fully extended, hold the opposite end of the bar and rotate it overhead in a semi-circular motion. Be sure to rotate at the waist and feel the movement throughout your entire core. Do one to three sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Medicine ball throws on Swiss ball
Assume the same position on the Swiss ball as you would if you were doing weighted crunches, and position your feet under two dumbbells for safety. Ask a partner to help you with an 8- to 10-pound medicine ball. While seated on the Swiss ball in an upright position, have your partner throw the medicine ball over your head so you can catch it (under control) while lying back over the Swiss ball. Sit up and throw the medicine ball back to your partner. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Cable side crunches
Using a cable in the highest position, grasp the handle with one hand and rest the other on top the hand grabbing the handle. Your hand should be at your temple. Keeping your arm completely stationary, crunch between the waist and lower chest only. The movement will be small and very isolated. Be sure to do both sides for about three sets of 12 to 15 reps with a challenging weight.

There you have it! If these 10 exercises can’t give your abs a good workout, nothing can! When you get comfortable doing all these great exercises you’ll be able to train your abs more instinctively, mixing up different exercises during each training session for maximum impact. You’ll be able to trust your gut and pick a variety of exercises that are most effective for you, and you’ll start getting results fast.

Always remember that abdominal training is the essence of a strong, stable and attractive physique, so don’t be one of those guys or gals who never takes the time to add a few challenging ab exercises to your routine. With a little attention to detail, you’ll be well on your way toward getting the kind of tight, defined midsection that has the amazing ability to turn heads.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

When is the best time to Exercise?

Had this interesting email from 'Funk Roberts', search for him on You Tube, he has some great workout conditioning routines and ideas.  Anyway back to the post, 'so when is the best time to exercise?'  Well I've always enjoyed a morning workout, whether it be at the gym or at home, it sets me up for my day.  Although I had to have my workout the other day around 2 in the afternoon.  And to be honest, I did feel a little sluggish.  Doubts sometimes set in, especially if you have a number of other things you need to do, but nevertheless, I cracked on with it and at the end of a 45 minute HIIT and weights session felt good, with a sense of achievement :)

Below is an excerpt from Funk's email:

There have been different research studies on the best time of day to train, but there have been many different results. 
Here are some of the latest specific research findings:


·       Late Afternoon is Best for Exercise - Research shows that the optimal time to exercise is when our body temperature is at its highest, which, for most people is 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (body temperature is at its lowest just before waking).

·       Strength is Greater in the Afternoon - Dr. Hill reported that strength output is 5% higher at around mid-day; anaerobic performance, such as sprinting, improves by 5% in the late afternoon.

·       Endurance is Greater in the Afternoon - Aerobic capacity (endurance) is approximately 4percent higher in the afternoon.

·       Injuries Are Less Likely in the Afternoon  -Afternoon exercise is the best if you want to avoid injuries for many reasons. We are most alert; our body temperature is the highest so our muscles are warm and flexible; and our muscle strength is at its greatest. These three factors make it less likely that we will get injured.

·       Morning Exercisers Are More Consistent - Even though afternoon exercise might be optimal from a physiological standpoint, research also shows that morning exercisers are more likely to stick to it those late-day athletes.

·       Evening Exercise and Sleep - Most research supports the idea that exercise can improve sleep quality. But does exercising too late in the evening keep you up? Studies have shown improvements in sleep from both morning and afternoon exercise, so it's not yet clear if evening exercise keeps you up. One study even showed that vigorous exercise half an hour before bedtime did not affect sleep

So over to you, what's your best time of the day to work out, and what do you do?  Please share we'd love to know :) 

I believe if you find something you enjoy doing, and be consistent at it, eat clean wholesome foods most of the time, spend time with friends and family, have a laugh and not take life too seriously.  We shouldn't go too far wrong :)

All the best, till next time

Monday, 6 May 2013

Legs & Lungs Workout in the Gym (5)

It's about time we had another short and sweet (yet challenging) workout in the gym :)  Ladies your gonna love this one, Summer is coming, so it's time to get beach ready!  So this one is going to focus on butt and arms.  And while its true these are areas sometimes we want to cover up, I say NO, be loud and proud, put on your shortest pair of shorts and WORK IT GIRL!

So your going to do 4 exercises, 2 for your arms and 2 for your butt and thighs.  Perform 1 arm exercise, then go straight in to the lower body exercise.  Working this way is also known as PHA training or Peripheral Heart Action training.  This means the body has to work quite hard shunting blood from one area of the body to the other.  It's a way or combining both resistance exercise and aerobic exercise.  And because you move to a different part of the body, the muscles previously used get recovery while your working a different muscle group.  Remember to do a 5 - 10 minute mobility and warm up prior to this routine, rest when required and drink plenty of water throughout. 
Your exercises are:

1st Combination
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Sumo Squats with or without a Medicine Ball

2nd Combination
Supine French Press (or Triceps Extension)
Curtsey Lunge to Hip Drive

Now I'm usually all for increasing the weight but this time your going to find a moderate weight so you can do each exercise 16 - 20 times.  Then doing multiple rounds, so were going very much for endurance here but also with an element of strength.  You can rest for 20 - 45 seconds between combinations.  Obviously take more if needed.

Teaching points - Bicep Curls
From standing, feet hip width apart, core switched on.  Hold onto your dumbbells with your elbows underneath shoulders and at 90 degrees, palms facing upwards.  Now angle your arm just a fraction away from the side of your ribs but still keeping the inside of your elbow in contact. 
Action - breathe in as you allow the weights to go down to thigh level, full extension of your arms.  Now breathe out as you bring them up towards your collar bone, do this on a count of 1 second, now breathe in as you slowly lower under control on a count of 4 seconds.  Repeat this for 16 - 20 reps.

Teaching points - Sumo Squats
If possible find a medicine ball to hold (you'll burn a few more calories).  Also try and remember in a squat to lead with the hips (rather than the knees) think of sitting back into a chair if that helps.  So grab your medicine ball and hug it by your chest, take your legs wider than shoulder width apart, then angle your toes out slightly.  Action - breathe in as you sit back, lead with the hips, soften the knees and squat down, if you can get thighs parallel to floor, great, if you can touch your elbows to your thighs, even better:)  Now throw your hips forward, squeeze your butt as you stand fully.  Tempo here, lower yourself down to a count of 3 seconds, pause for 1 second at the bottom, then stand on 1 second.

Teaching points - Supine French Press
This exercise can be performed on a bench or on a stability ball (click on how to do a stability ball supine bridge).  The first arm exercise was focusing on the biceps (front of arm) and this one is the triceps (back of the arm).  Action - find your weights, (warning, you may want a slightly lighter one than the one used for your biceps unless of course you are an advanced user), safely lie down face up on a bench or ball.  When happy, take your arms fully locked straight up above your head, your palms should be facing each other and your arms close to your ears.  With control bend your elbows so the weights come down towards your head.  As soon as you feel that contraction in the back of your arm, straighten them and repeat for the allotted reps.  Tempo - 2 seconds down, 1 second up.

Teaching points - Curtsey Lunge to Hip Drive

From standing, feet hip width apart, core switched on.  Take your right leg slightly around and behind you, drop down into a curtsey, then bring that leg back in front straight into a knee raise.  Repeat reps on this side before swapping sides.  You should experience a nice burn in both cheeks, and I don't mean the ones on your face!

This exercise is quite challenging especially for your balance, so by all means if you are wobbly, take out the knee raise.  It can always be added back at a later date.  This exercise can also be progresses by holding dumbbells.

So there you go, I reckon this workout done at least twice per week, progressing how many rounds you do should pay dividends over 4 weeks.  Enjoy the workout then enjoy strutting yourself on the beach :)

Till next time, all the best

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Tone up your thighs with the Cable machine.....

Very quick blog today.  Was wasting a little time earlier, and came across this that I must have done years ago for Women's Health & Fitness.  So thought would share to the ladies (and maybe some men too, you never know!)

Till next time, enjoy the sunshine :)