I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and enjoyed some well-earned time off over the holidays.

We are now approaching that traditional time where many people start to reflect on the past 12 months and begin putting plans in place for what they’d like to achieve in the year ahead.

Have you started to think about some goals you would like to achieve in 2017 or some changes you’d like to make in your life?

If you have (or haven’t) then I want to share some advice with you… think SMART …

Make your goals as SPECIFIC as possible.

Make sure they are MEASUREABLE and TIME-ORIENTED.

Make sure they are ACHIEVABLE and REALISTIC.

Once you have done this I want you to ask yourself WHY?

Why is this important to you?

What would be different about you if you were able to accomplish them?

What is going to happen in your life if you don’t accomplish them?

Asking yourself these questions will help give you clarity and understanding on some of the sacrifices you are likely to have to endure to make these goals happen.

Feel free to share them with me, if you need any help in doing this then just reach out.

Best regards for 2017 and hope this will be your best year ever!

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.

The training has started in earnest but how best to fuel for the endurance season?

Most people think of endurance as just doing an exercise over a long time/distance. This is true but it is the effect on the body and how it copes with these extremes that can make the difference.

In essence there are two types of endurance muscular and cardiorespiratory.

Muscular endurance is the work of either one muscle or a group of muscles and their ability to maintain a continued force of movement without fatigue.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is based around its ability to pump blood and oxygen to working muscles therefore reducing muscular fatigue whilst allowing for continued performance.

To perform well we need to feed the body large amounts of wholesome nutrients, not only to help with continued performance but also to ensure recovery and good health. Imagine putting diesel into your petrol tank and driving off, it won’t be long before the car splutters and chokes to a standstill (yep I have tried it), the human body is the same. Feed it a low nutrient diet full of processed foods, then push it to the extreme and it’s going to get sick, performance levels will drop, fatigue will set in and recovery will take longer.

We all know that a well-balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat is essential to keep our bodies in shape and to fuel us through daily life. When it comes to athletic performance, we need to take it to the next level.

Endurance athletes, be they weekend warriors or full time athletes need a much higher calorific intake than the average person to cope with the extra energy demands placed upon the body , the main fuel source of which is going to be carbohydrates to ensure glycogen levels are kept at a premium both during training and when competing.

As stated carbs are the main energy sources during endurance events and should not be under estimated. That said, the body can only store a limited supply, therefore the amount of glycogen stored in both the liver and muscles will dictate when fatigue sets in, we all know the term “hitting the wall” when it feels like you just cannot move any further and the body just wants to shut down.

As a general rule carb intake for endurance athletes works out at 5–12 g/per kg bodyweight depending on the amount of time spent training/competing. So carb intake should be 50–65% of their calorie consumption.

It is also essential to consume good quality protein to enhance recovery and maintain muscle. Protein is an essential building block for the body. Intake levels will vary for each individual but as a guideline the recommendation is 1.2–1.4g/ per kg bodyweight although in some cases up to 2g can be of benefit. Again this should be based around the training regime and daily calorific intake of the individual.

This is only a brief look at endurance nutrition, there is so much more that can be said about the role of protein and fats, as for carbohydrates which one is best before, during and after training/event day? What are the different types and how do the affect the body? Way too much for one blog.

If you want to know more or get help training, find me at

www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk

 

Why not try this delicious detox smoothie?

2 cups of spinach

½ bunch parsley

1 cucumber

2 sticks celery

1 apple

½” fresh ginger

½ lime, juice of

½ lemon,  juice of

Add water as needed to the juices and blend with ingredients to desired consistency.

If you like this smoothie, more healthy smoothies are included in all our Fitness and Tai Chi weekend breaks and feature in our Weight Management programmes – all available from Paul Collins Fitness.

 

detox smoothie ingredientsdetox smoothie

Many people will try a home detox in January, which is all well and good if you know what you are doing, but be aware that an un-monitored detox can be dangerous.

Here are a few natural remedies to the common side-effects:

Headaches

  • Honey and Water
  • Acupressure (use GB20, a point at the base of the skull in the hollow between the front and back neck muscles, located behind the bony prominence just behind the ear – you will know when you have found the spot as there is one either side of the head – and massage gently with your thumbs)
  • Peppermint oil – rub on externally. (Never consume essential oils!)

Constipation

  • Drink more water between meals

Nausea

  • Acupressure (turn your palm upwards and measure two thumb-widths up your arm from the base of your wrist, press here for 30-60 seconds between the two string-like tendons –do this whenever you need to)
  • Herbal ginger tea

Diarrhoea

  • Drink more water between meals

If you are going to go it alone, try to self-detox go for no more than one day, stay well hydrated and be very gentle on yourself.

Alternatively please give me a ring on 0780 0780 039 to discuss supported detox or weight management programmes.

 

In the last post I talked about Resolutions and, as the festivities are now over, I am sure there will be many people regretting their holiday over-indulgences.

Our bodies are great at detoxing themselves when we hit the realms of pure gluttony but, that said, our organs need a little extra help to recover and be able to function at a premium rate.

Many of the foods we eat require more nutrients than they supply to process them (known as anti-nutrients). Eaten to excess on a daily basis, these anti-nutrients can create a toxic overload and play havoc on our natural detoxification system.

Refined sugar, processed foods, smoking, alcohol, painkillers, antibiotics and pollutants from the environment, are all forms anti-nutrients. And remember, toxins that are not removed from the body are stored as fat.

Give the body a helping hand and cut back on:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Refined sugar
  • Artificial additives (Alcohol too)
  • Processed foods

And aim to eat foods that contain anti-inflammatory agents :

    • Omega 3, from fish and flax seed oils
    • Curcumin, from the spice turmeric
  • Anthocyanins, from berries, dark sweet cherries, red grapes and purple plant foods

 

 

Diet starts Monday?

So, it’s that time of year again where resolutions are made and I’m sure a few people you know are planning to start their fitness goals once New Years is out of the way.

The big question is, how many of those people will see it as a life changing experience and how many will have stopped by the end of the month?

Only a VERY small percentage of people stick to their commitments and their goals. In fact, only 8% of people will stick to their New Year’s Resolutions. Are you one of these?

Why? My guess is that most people give up because they either:

·          Find their plans boring and tedious

·          Don’t see the results that they were hoping for

·          Or, they set their goals too high

People are wired to want quick fixes, and need to see results FAST (especially initially) to have the incentive to keep on track.

But, we need the right fixes, results and incentives, so that it’s healthy and we can keep the results long term.

This is easily achieved through the combination 4 key things:

·          Nutrition that isn’t boring and doesn’t seem like a ‘diet’

·          Training that’s challenging and will both work the right muscles and boost your metabolism

·          Support and motivation to keep you on track

·          SMART goals and being kept accountable to them

 

At www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk we have a variety of programmes to suit, including:

·          A 28 day Online Weight Management Programme, which is guaranteed to see you drop at least one clothes size

·          A 12 week Total Transformation Programme, which is designed to break bad habits for good and make significant lifestyle changes

·          Body Fit Classes, which are a full body group workouts – with circuits, resistance bands, boxing and much more

·          Personal Training Sessions, which are tailored to you, your personal goals and resolutions.

 

And, if you are not sure where to start, please contact me for a quick chat and free assessment.

A New Year Resolution is for the year, not just for January!

 

Can Christmas day food be healthy?

It’s Christmas time again: the time of over indulgence, hangovers and the inevitable weight gain. Without wishing to put a downer on the festive season jollities, it doesn’t have to be too unhealthy a time.

Believe it or not most of the food we eat on Christmas day is actually good for you; it’s how you eat it and the excessive amounts that we in the rich western world force upon ourselves. A sensible sized plate of food and taking it easy on the booze can have its benefits.

Turkey; a low fat bird providing a source of lean protein, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, niacin, choline and the amino acid tryptophan (good for sleep). The white meat is lower in fat in comparison to the brown and by taking the skin off after cooking you can save a good 40 calories (perfect if you are watching that waist line). Avoid the temptation to fill it with butter under the skin and a ton of sausage and chestnut stuffing which will be full of fat. Make a stuffing of cranberries, chestnut and orange, lower in calories and full of flavour.

Personally I bone out the legs and stuff them, wrap them in foil and bake them letting the fat run out at the end of cooking. Easy to cook and serve. As for the bird; set it in a tray over onion, carrot and herbs. Fill the cavity with lemon, sage, onion and seasoning cover the tray with foil add a little water and let it steam and roast.

What about the piles of veggies you are going to load onto that plate full of goodness?

The humble sprout is personally one of my favourites; I will eat them every day given the chance. If you can resist the urge to boil the life out of them then they are a perfect little nutri-bomb, a source of both folate (a B vitamin) and vitamin C with the added bonus of fibre. Good for the heart and digestion.

Just try and keep them low fat. Boil them for no more than 3 minutes, when they turn bright green then take them out of the water. Forget the butter put in a few chestnuts, lemon zest, juice and some fresh herbs.

Potatoes; A great source of carbohydrate (although personally I opt for sweet potato), just try and lay off the goose fat and other oils which they soak up like a sponge and boom your calories have gone up another notch or five.

Try a simple baked potato, not very Christmassy maybe but good for you all the same.

Carrots; We all know the benefits of carrots? Best known for the vitamin A contained within but did you know they are also full of Vitamin C, K, B8 pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. Not forgetting fibre.

Red cabbage; Take a look at the colouring when you eat this you know full well you are in for a healthy treat. The colour tells you its full of disease fighting antioxidants which can only serve to make you feel good.

Parsnips; Like the carrot, parsnips are full of vitamins and minerals, folate, potassium, vitamin C and also fibre rich. Let’s keep them healthy and steam them to help keep that waist line ripped!

Cranberries; Are little bursts of vitamins C, E and fibre. Great berries but a little tart for most palettes making us reach for the sugar bowl. Try exchanging sugar for a little honey, stevia or coconut sugar instead. Add the berries to fresh orange juice and zest with cinnamon, nutmeg and your chosen sweetener, remember less is more.

Nuts; Always around at Christmas yet often totally abused, left to rot on the side as no one can be bothered to crack a shell. Come on that’s all part of your natural training, hunt, gather and prepare. They are a great source of omega 3, calcium, vitamin E and selenium, depending on which variety you choose. But just remember they are high in fat and therefore calories.

Chocolate; who in their right mind can refuse chocolate (sorry to offend any non-chocolate lovers?) but if you are going to indulge opt for the 70%+ dark chocolate option. Avoid the tinned sweets that come in at 40-50kcal each. You could potentially eat four or five squares from a dark bar at around 100 kcals all in while at the same time taking on a little extra in the form of nutrients, a win-win situation.

Finally there is the good old Christmas pudding full of dried fruit so yes full of sugar too. It is a source of fibre and B vitamins coupled with potassium, iron and calcium. Relatively low in fat but high in carbohydrates so go for a small portion, if you want to bring the calories down a little more then use Greek yoghurt instead of cream and brandy butter. Make a low fat version custard using semi -skimmed milk.

All in all a healthy meal, but like I said it’s how you treat the food that can make or break the waistline.      

 Enjoy Christmas, just remember, too much of a good thing has a tendency to give a little in return. All that booze, cake, mince pies and chocolate with a ton of calories will add to that ever expanding waist.

Depression

How many of people in the UK suffer from depression? It’s estimated that 1 in 4 of us will suffer some sort of mental health problem in our life time.

I am no specialist when it comes to depression apart from the fact that I have lived with it since my teenage years, back then though you were told to man up and get on with life, fortunately now mental health issues are understood a little more. Not by everyone though there are still those that shy away from you when you say you suffer from it.

Trust me it ain’t catching.

Got to be honest, sometimes it can be quite enjoyable seeing the world in such a different way, other times though it just crushes your soul when you slip into that pit of despair and self-loathing. The world just goes black and there is no fun, no love and no beauty to this life.

So many times I have thrown away opportunities, relationships and possessions when the darkness has taken its icy grip. There have been times when I haven’t even known that it has gripped me; it’s not been until my partner has said welcome back that I have any idea I’ve been away! My focus has just been surviving each day, coping with each little bit I can manage. When it’s like that no one else exists, it’s just me and my friend “misery”.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never stopped work or just given up and sat down all day (wanted to) that’s not me.  I have shouted and screamed that I don’t want to do what has to be done. I have had to get up and perform for my boot camps or tai chi sessions but as soon as they have finished BAM I am back on the floor, would rather do a round with Mike Tyson than be hit by this.

Thankfully there is exercise, a proven method of coping and managing depression. It’s not a magic cure. I don’t believe there is one but it is a way to deal with it.

“Research shows that exercise and physical activity can be as effective as anti-depressant medication in treating mild to moderate depression”.

I have made it quite clear to the Doctors that drugs and me are not going to work, there are other ways.

Eat the right foods, stay away from alcohol, meditate and exercise. Food and exercise are the only drugs I need.  Yeah I have tried drugs (illegal) and alcohol and they did nothing except send me over the edge and cover up the symptoms.

Also tried eating shit food, comfort eating and throwing up again, just ended up hating what I saw in the mirror each day,

When I train I am happy, life is good. It’s not a cure all but by god it lifts me up, I feel love for myself, pride in my appearance and invincible. All the things depression strips from me.

According to the Mental Health Foundation report taking part in exercise will;

Create

– less tension, stress and mental fatigue

– a natural energy boost

– improved sleep

– a sense of achievement

– focus in life and motivation

– less anger or frustration

a healthy appetite

– better social life

– fun!

There are several theories about why exercise is beneficial to mental health. These are related to biology (exercise leads to an increased release of endorphins and enkephalins), sociology (attendance enables people to build new relationships), skillmastery (exercise improves body condition and creates achievable goals), and distraction (exercise creates a diversion from a preoccupation with negative thoughts).

Signs and symptoms of depression

Tiredness and loss of energy.
Sadness that doesn’t go away.
Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Difficulty concentrating.
Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting.
Feeling anxious all the time.
Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends.
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Sleeping problems – difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual.
Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Finding it hard to function at work/college/school.
Loss of appetite.
Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems.
Physical aches and pains.
Thinking about suicide and death.
Self-harm

It’s worth remembering that the foods we eat all have a major effect on our mind state, eat the wrong foods and watch your mental health deteriorate. Food can support or stress the body and mind.

Let’s not forget many of our modern day diets are lacking in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from intense farming, foods being held in warehouses for long periods of time and through being highly processed.

To redress the balance there needs to be a focus on foods that support and heal the functions of the body and mind, foods that develop neurotransmitters (serotonin and noradrenalin being the main imbalance in those of us who suffer).

The obvious choices are wholesome, natural foods as we were intended to eat, water, nuts and seeds, oily fish, healthy lean proteins, fruits and vegetables alongside wholegrain foods.

These are foods the body recognises; they help support, regulate and maintain the body’s equilibrium.

It seems obvious then that the danger foods are sugar, dairy, processed foods, cakes, pastries and sweets, along with drinking alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks. All of these help to stimulate and unbalance the mind.

Even so it is noted that when depressed we reach for these very foods, foods that exacerbate the problem, foods that we know can harm us in more ways than one.

Recognise the self-destruct mode?  Shove those biscuits and cakes down your throat, feel the guilt, hurt your mind and body some more, feel a little more hate towards yourself, fuel that fire. Watch your stomach swell, fat start to accumulate around your arms, legs and in in your face. Feel the despair, the anger the hatred towards yourself for letting this happen and yes, that’s right feed it some more, slip into that downward spiral that all-consuming pit.

Does have to be this way? NO

Avoid the danger foods or consume limited quantities, eat natural foods.  Exercise, talk and destress yourself. It isn’t going to cure you but it will help manage the problem.

For more information check out;

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/

Or

www.mentalhealth.org.uk