We all know that when you are following a strict exercise and eating plan it can get hard. There are times you want to skip the training session or fall off plan and eat that cake or chocolate bar.

To make a healthy lifestyle sustainable you have to see food differently: food is fuel, it heals, it supports the vital organs and systems within the body, and it keeps you functioning to the max. It cannot function well when you feed it crap. Therefore you need to learn to listen to your body; what your body desires to keep it fuelled and running efficiently.

How?

You have to become mindful of what you are putting inside your body by tracking your daily food and liquid intake.

  • Write down each meal you eat, what was in it, when you ate it, were you hungry/ full both before and after you ate?
  • Did you have any feelings beforehand e.g. did you have a headache, an energy dip or spike, bloated stomach or feeling tired etc.
  • Do this for a week; no two days are ever the same.
  • Take note of any anomalies, if you had headaches when were they? How were your energy levels at certain points in the day?
  • Make sure you track your fluid intake too, this can have a huge impact on eating habits and body functions.

Once you have reviewed the diary then look at what you want to change.  Make a list of short term goals (set 3-4 specific and easily attainable targets you can do over the space of a month). Start off small to reach your main goal.

Food tracking will increase your awareness of the foods you eat. Increasing this awareness will make you view food differently thus enabling you to enjoy and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Of course we all deserve a little treat now and again but try not to always base it around food. Does it really have to be a sweet treat?

Why not lose those pounds, turn around the unhealthy eating habits, turn up for your PT session or your fitness class and then reward yourself with something non-food that will make you feel good? Treat yourself to a new outfit, a hair cut, try a new activity or a weekend spa break with your loved one or friends, anything but the greasy burger and fries or the sugary dessert.

If you would like more detailed guidance we have a range of programmes which could help you achieve your goals. See www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk for further information.Paul Collins Fitness superfood salad at Mordros Bude

Paul Collins Fitness at Tuff Enuff 260915 start

When it comes to getting ready for race day or an event you need to be topping up Glycogen and hydration levels so as not to end up hitting the wall or getting cramps.

I tend to drink fluids throughout the day aiming for 2-3 litres of water (herbal/green teas included) if you are a coffee drinker then no more than 2 cups. You are aiming to have your pee a straw colour or clear.

My preference is to eat carbohydrates that are low GI so sweet potatoes are good and porridge or brown rice. Try to avoid fatty foods and alcohol (which acts as a diuretic). If you can tolerate it then look at eating wholemeal pasta with the addition of fish or beans, brown rice with chicken or tofu or Jacket potato with tuna or cottage cheese. Essential mix of protein and carbohydrates.

The day before a race my eating pan might be a little like this; porridge and berries made with rice and almond milk followed by scrambled eggs, mushrooms and spinach. My snacks will be rice cakes and peanut butter or oatcakes and hummus or nut butter. A baked sweet potato for lunch with some form of protein and plenty of salad or greens. Mid afternoon snack a protein shake or homemade energy/protein bar. Dinner might be risotto. You could eat pasta with a tomato based sauces or rice dishes (not a greasy fried rice, Indian or Chinese dish).

Come race day the focus again is on topping up the glycogen level, maintaining blood sugar and staying hydrated.

Through trial and error I prefer to have my main pre-race meal 2-4 hours before, keeping it simple with porridge and fruit made with low fat, rice or almond milk. Toast/bread with honey or jam or low fat yoghurt and fruit. For those of you that tend to get a little too nervous and feel that solid food is not going float your boat then maybe try having a meal replacement drink. Do not under any circumstances turn up with an empty stomach or you will not finish.

Two hours before try and drink 500ml fluid, not an energy drink (by which I mean the sort that give you wings etc.) but you could have a sports drink or make your own version. 15-30 minutes before take on board between 125 and 250ml of liquid. If you intend to have a coffee drink at least 30-60 minutes before hand.

One hour before the event have a smoothie, yoghurt drink, fruit, an energy bar, dried apricots or rice pudding.

At the end of the race be sure to take on board a recovery food/drink, can be a sports drink or protein shake. You could have flapjacks, granola or energy bars (try and make your own), fresh fruit, a sandwich roll or bagel with meat, fish, egg or cheese, or dried fruits and nuts.

To summarise for race day;

Low GI carbs, low fat, low protein, low to moderate fibre, not too bulky or filling, not salty or spicy, easy to digest. Keep it wholesome and real.

Fuel up well and you will have a good race. Neglect this and you will be cold and miserable and want to give up before you have even started.

protein, oats, pancake

This is a nice, easy pancake recipe for whenever you want a little treat or as a high-protein option for pancake day.

Protein pancakes

3 whole eggs

2 egg whites

1 scoop whey protein powder

1 ripe banana

1/3 cup oats

½ tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

Simply put all ingredients into a blender and mix. You may need to add a little water if the consistency is too thick (this will depend on your protein powder).

Ladle into a warm pan with a little coconut oil.

Cook on one side until bubbles start to appear then flip over and continue cooking, you want a golden brown colour to the pancake.

Serve and eat straight away with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt or sliced banana and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate or maple syrup.

What is Tai Chi (Taiji, Tai Chi Chuan or Tai Ji Quan) and why do it?

 It is often described as moving meditation due to the sequence of movements (both graceful and flowing) combined with deep breathing exercises which encourage both relaxation and inner peace.

As the form is performed chi or internal energy is stimulated throughout the body which is thought to improve health and longevity.

That said it is also a very effective martial art, which through its slow practice makes for a peaceful and non-aggressive methodology towards learning the art of ceasing, controlling and breaking your enemy.

Although there are several styles of Tai Chi they all seem to emanate from the roots of Taoist philosophies which some believe is translated through the movements themselves.

Uploaded image Sidebar Image

 The above is one of my favourite quotes from the Dao de Ching and holds so true in my daily training as well as everyday life. Without taking that first step we will never reach our end destination.

For me Tai Chi is a daily journey of self-discipline, self-realisation and self-understanding. Like the movements of Tai Chi, once you set off on the path, there are no beginnings or ends it is a perpetual motion.

I make no secret of the fact that I suffer from depression on a frequent basis and that being physical is my way of coping. Those that know me are well aware that I like to throw the weights around but that can do more harm to my mental state at times and this is where Tai Chi plays its hand. The movement is soft, gentle, healing and at the same time grounding. But to really reap the benefits it must be practiced daily (understand no two days are ever the same).

If for any reason I end up missing a session of self-practice my mental health can suffer quite dramatically, upsetting my balance.

While the world around me turns to chaos one certainty is the peace of mind I will find through training.

The bottom line is that Tai Chi is a mind and body exercise encompassing martial arts and meditation. With its flowing movement and postures it promotes

  • awareness of the mind
  • breath
  • balance
  • coordination
  • relaxation
  • health
  • mind, body and spirt
  • flexibility

These are just a few of its benefits. Studies have shown the potential for Tai Chi as an aid for fighting depression and anxiety amongst other illnesses.  

Tai Chi may help reduce stress, anxiety and depression

Wang and her colleagues found that practicing Tai Chi was associated with reduced stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem.

http://www.biomedcentral.com/search?query=tai+chi&searchType=publisherSearch    

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100521/Tai-Chi-may-help-reduce-stress-anxiety-and-depression.aspx

Conclusion

Tai Chi is a gentle martial art form that promotes both mental and physical wellbeing. Daily practice alongside Qi Gung can have a profound effect on how you live your daily life, the way in which you move, and how you cope with demanding situations. Your outlook on life will change for the better but only through diligent daily practice.

Be kind and gentle to yourself and the world around you

If you want to know more about Tai Chi and take part in a session the contact www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk