Tag Archives: Weight Loss

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Are your office parties destroying your healthy eating habits?

Depending on your work culture, office tea parties maybe a monthy or weekly event. I used to work in an office environment where we would try to get together once a week for a catch up. It was claimed it would aid productivity and boost harmony. It was great, as we got to know each other we shared each other’s special occasions. Birthdays came first, then other milestones and finally we seems to make up events just to have morning or afternoon tea with each other. I wasn’t the first to click to what was happening, but soon I realised my reasonably healthy eating habits were been destroyed by never ending workplace nibblies. 

Then came school chocolate drives, left overs from corporate training day’s, the social club snack bar where they raised money for the yearly events. It became absurd. Eventually,  one by one people dropped off from participating in office eating events. It got to the point where there was copious amounts of food left over and the organiser of the day would walk around trying to evenly distribute sausage rolls, cream rolls and Tim Tams to unwilling recipients. Despite my petitioning, the food left on my table, would discretely be swept into my bin.  

Over time I balanced my approach so I could remain social. Here are a few things I did which helped me avoid temptation:

  • Bring lunch and snacks for regular breaks.
  • Eat my healthy snack first to avoid over-eating
  • Be scarce – avoid the event all together
  • Use a napkin instead of a plate to reduce portion sizes
  • Keep a drink in one hand to reduce how much you can carry and eat
  • Talk more, eat less
  • Choose a tea or water instead of coffee or sugary drink
  • Sometimes I just enjoyed a guilt free snack but in moderation. 🙂

What is HIIT?

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is the process of training at an extremely high intensity for short periods of time.  It is recommended the subject reaches peaks of 90-95% of their maximum heart rate, with short rest breaks, for between 20 – 60 minutes.

At this point I want to discuss a few things before I go on. Training is an individual thing. The factors affecting training abilities are age, body type, sex, current fitness and genes medical conditions etc. Two people training side by side doing the same thing will not feel exactly the same. As in, one fit person training with a unfit person will have different “rates of perceived exertion”. The fit person may be training at coasting 50% or their maximum ability where as the unfit person may be struggling at 80% and won’t have much more to give. SO the best indicator across all people is their max heart rate for their age. (220 beats per minute – age). Endurance training for anyone places their heart rate in the 65-75% zone. HIIT places their heart rate in 85-95% zone regardless of the various factors mentioned above. NB consult a doctor before beginning or increasing your training intensity.

There have been numerous studies showing that HIIT is superior to Endurance Training (ET) for weight loss.

I want to quote the “Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 December 2011 VOL. 111 no. 6.”  (Please don’t be put off by the big words, I will decipher them.)

“HIIT has been shown to be more effective than moderate-intensity continuous exercise training for improving endothelial function (normal functioning of the inner lining of blood vessel) and ….. for reducing central body fat (losing weight) and fasting plasma insulin in young women (improves diabetes risk), and for improving maximal oxygen uptake (getting oxygen into your system) in subjects… HIIT has also been reported to be more effective than continuous, steady-state exercise training for inducing fat loss in men and women, despite considerably less total energy expenditure required during training sessions.“

I may have already lost a few of you here, and I won’t turn the rest of you away by explaining too deeply why this is the case. You have a car…It runs and you don’t care why. HIIT kicks Endurance Training and that’s a fact.

This particular article sited above goes on to say the HIIT sessions can last from as short as 8 seconds and typically from 1-4 minutes per set. With 60 seconds rest between each set.

 

SO a typical session may look like this:

  • 5-10 minute warm up 65-75% max heart rate. (That’s jogging/exercising at a mild puff)
  • 5 minute stretching session targeting large muscle groups
  • 5 by x minute HIIT sessions + 60 seconds rest
    • (5×60 second plus 60 seconds rest equals 10 minutes work out)
    • (5×90 second plus 60 seconds rest equals approx. 14 minutes work out)
    • (5×120 second plus 60 seconds rest equals approx. 20 minutes work out) You get the idea
  • 5-10 minute warm down 65-75% max heart rate
  • 5 minute stretching session targeting large muscle groups

SO a basic session can be short as 30 minutes and can be broken down

Assuming 5 x 30 second HIIT sets

  • 10 minutes total warm up cool down
  • 10 minutes stretching
  • 5 minutes HIIT
  • 5 minutes rest

 

A more advanced session (assuming 5 x 120 second HIIT) sets looks like this:

  • 10 minutes total warm up cool down
  • 10 minutes stretching
  • 10 minutes HIIT
  • 5 minutes rest

That’s still only 10 minutes of extremely high heart rate.

 

SO if you have read this far. This is the crunch line…

Essentially the chemical processes that occur or chemicals that are released in the body at this very high heart rate continue to keep the metabolism high and burn fat at a higher rate for longer. This is why HIIT is superior to normal endurance training.

Why Fibre is important

Fibre is a carbohydrate that is mainly found in vegetables and fruit and is important in keeping  our digestive system healthy. Increasing fibre intake in your body is proven to reduce incidence of constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), heart disease, some cancels (stomach and bowel cancer) and lower cholesterol levels .

Fibre is the part of food that our small intestines can’t break down. The bacteria in that part of our stomach simply isn’t able to digest the fibre. So it passes through to the large intestines where other different (good) bacteria live and will benefit from the fibre. As fibre (also known as roughage) passes through our system it scrapes clean our digestive system (helping reduce cancer risk) , cleaning and absorbing bad cholesterol (helping lower heart disease risk).

There are two types of fibre. Soluble and insoluble fibre.  Soluble fibre, mainly found in plant cells, lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and can be found in fruit , vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, dried beans, lentils, peas, soy milk and soy products. Insoluble fibre makes up the structure of plants and makes up the bulk of to our faeces. It absorbs oils and bad cholesterol and retains water making our stools softer, easing constipation. Good fibre sources include wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and wholegrain foods. Some cultures use the skin of fruit that we discard in cooking and bowel cancer and heart disease is almost non-existent there.

Resistant starch acts in a similar way to fibre. It makes up 10% of certain foods. Its found in unprocessed cereals, grain, unripe banana, potato and lentils. It resists being broken down in the small intestine passing through to the  large intestines cleaning as is goes. Bacteria in the large intestine ferment and turn these starches into fatty acid chains which are absorbed in to the blood stream lowering cholesterol levels and reducing bowel cancer.

Ensure you are drinking enough water every day. This can be another cause of constipation. High fibre cereals can cause people discomfort in their stomach unless they are drinking enough water. Also as you increase fibre in your diet ensure you drink extra water.

Fibre has low calorific content. Therefore high fibre meals for can help with weight loss. High fibre meals also helps stabilise blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the need for insulin, helping prevent  and treat diabetes.

Changing your diet is easy.  Switch to breakfasts that contain oats and wheat. Eat high fibre or multi grain bread. Eat brown rice instead of white (highly processed) rice. Cook with wholemeal flour. Eat more vegetable through the day and snack on fresh fruit, nuts and wholemeal crackers. Aim for 30 Grams or more per day spread out through the day. Its worth noting that having a high fibre diet (greater than 40 grams) will lead to bloating and can reduce the uptake of various minerals.

 

Thanks to the Victoria Government and the Deakin University for supplying this information. Source http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/fibre_in_food?open

 

 

 

Where do I start

Beginning exercise can be intimidating. We have to admit to ourselves that our current lifestyle isn’t the best and the decision to accept that can be difficult. We may feel comfort in our old habits particularly if it involves food abuse. But something may have happened to make us question our lifestyle, a medical incident to ourselves or to someone else or  some trigger has got us thinking.  We begin to stop denying we have a problem and face the ugly truth. “I’m unfit and make bad choices.”

 

We are only human. Making mistakes is OK.  But admitting the problem is the first step. Acting to improve that situation is what really counts. But where do I start?

 

Educate yourself. Start reading about others peoples experiences. It will help make it all seem much less scary. There are MILLIONS of people who have gone before you and started exercising. You are not the first and will not be the last. Have read here about some peoples journeys and allow it to inspire you to move forward.

Find a friend  Communicate your intentions with others and find a friend who will accompany you on your journey. A husband, sister, sibling, friend. Someone who loves you and will be supportive and you are accountable to will GREATLY enhance your ability to succeed. You can definitely do it alone but having someone with you will make it easier and more fun.

Start moving. While you are thinking about changing your life style just Start Moving!! Just blast that bit. Just get out and start by walking. Play with the kids more. Jump in the car and go to a park. Take a frisbee or ball. Find something fun you like doing. Worry about the other stuff later. Replace inactivity with activity.

Look at the barriers. If you are serious about making REAL CHANGE, be scientific about how you have gotten to where you are. If it’s just general unfitness, account for your day and replace bad choices with good choices. If its obesity, analyse your  food choices. If its time management then make more time for your self and work around it. You are allowed to look after your self. Barriers might be things like money, time, children etc.

Make Better use of your time. If you find through the above that you aren’t making the best use of your time them look for improvements. For general health sake you need to exercise at least 30 minutes 3 times a week. But this won’t make much difference when it comes to serious weight loss. You will need more like 30-45 minutes EACH day to get on top of the battle.But the good news is it doesn’t have to be all in the same session. If fact more recent studies show getting you heart rate up into or above you heart rate zone (65-75% max heart rate) is enough to continue the reversing the effects long after exercise has ceased. Research shows one HIIT (High Intensity) session can cause an after glow effect raising the metabolism for up to one month after exercise. HIIT is extremely high intensity, raising the heart rate above 75% for more than 4-5 minutes at a time! So with this in mind you can break down your workout in to 5-10 minute sessions through out the day when you can find time.

60% of your efforts should be focused on portion control. Yup thats right 60% of your weight loss efforts will come through educating your self and improving your diet. You can definitely lose weight just by improving your diet alone but it wont make you fitter or healthier. 25% of your efforts will be through exercise. The remainder of your efforts may be addressing medical issues causing poor health. The dietary stuff can be difficult to get on top of. Healthy food is more expensive than crap food and that kinda sux but you can definitely trick you body into feeling fuller for longer so you eat less and save money anyway. I can give general advice about balanced diets or speak to a doctor or dietitian about improving your dietary intake or any special needs..

For more advice on this contact me @ Fitness++

Joe

New to exercise? Read my journey…

New to exercise? Read my journey…

I wasn’t always a fit guy. I started my focus on improving my lifestyle about 10 years ago, to support my wife at the time (who also decided to lose weight). I was too comfortable in my government job and in my marriage. The 30’s spread had hit and I bloated out to over 115kg’s. I decided for my kid’s sake I would focus on healthy eating and get more exercise to keep up with my kids. I’m not going to tout this as a weight loss regime but I did nothing more than enjoy a coffee for breakfast, a simple Subway for morning tea, lots of water, and then a calorie controlled dinner. I didn’t feel like I was missing out and I still to this day only feel like a coffee for breakfast, subway mid morning and some fruit to fill the day till dinner.  I do enjoy a beer or wine in the evening but usually after I’ve been for a jog or finished Kung Fu training. That’s been my life for the last 7 years.

 

I can tell my metabolism has slowed as I’ve aged because this hasn’t been enough to lose weight any more but its just enough to maintain my 85ish KG that I carry these days. Incidentally although that I am told I look fine and I don’t need to lose any more weight, that weight for my height and age (1.85m and 42) puts me at the very top end of the healthy weight range. Although the BMI is only a guideline it will give you an indication of where your weight should be at. According to the BMI 75kg is closer to the middle of my healthy weight range.

 

As humans we are prone to excess. As we grow up, we fly free from the control of our parents and eat and drink a little too much “just because”. At this stage of our life we are at pre-contemplation. We don’t think there is anything wrong and because weigh gain is a slow creeping occurrence, years can slip by with tens of KG’s added before we decide there is need for action.  Its only when those lifestyle choices takes its toll in one of various forms that we may take action. This can be bullying or a snide comment about our appearance, a single life event as a result of our lifestyle choices, heart attack or medical emergency or some other reason that makes us look at ourselves with fresh eyes and wish for a better body.

 

As we start to think about change we move into contemplation mode. This is a powerful time but the hard work hasn’t even begun. We need to arm ourselves with information. Talking to people about their success and failures and challenges, making a pro’s/con’s list can assist to motivate ourselves to move through this stage to action. I don’t really remember what spurred me to action and how long I was in the contemplation phase but I have always carried a back injury from my days as a tradesman and the pain gradually got worse as I carried more weight. So I think I just went from precontemplation to action in quick succession (although it’s more likely I was in contemplation for a while until my then wife  also decided to make a change). It was made easier that I was leaving for work at 6 in the morning to start at 7. I just didn’t have time to eat breakfast. From memory I was up early enough to make a coffee, stoke the fire to warm the house for the kids and wifey and then I was off to work. By mid morning I was hungry so I would eat. I think I staved off hunger the rest of the day by drinking water but I don’t recommend this. Its not particularly healthy and may cause failure. If you think of eating something unhealthy or at the wrong time as like having a cigarette (when you are quitting) then it helps to put the quest for health into perspective. A healthier alternative would be to eat small portions of food every few hours to keep the metabolism up and reduce the urge to eat a larger meal. Also if you are trying to quit smoking, eating small portions of fruit or drinking water when you have the urge to quit can help. If you are smoke and are at precontemplation then you will have no idea what I am talking about.

 

I buy lots of fruit and veges to keep my kids belly full with healthy food. They don’t eat it all, so I keep the remainder handy and in the fridge as a cool healthy snack to stave of hunger pains where I am likely to eat a larger meal.

 

New Years 2014 I did the NY resolution thing and decided to start jogging. This was for a few reasons. I always struggled with jogging. Plus I had a Martial Arts grading looming and I was worried about my fitness level. So I thought two 5K jogs a week would help. It did and it turned into three 6km jogs and one 10km+ jog a week. So I support the decision to start jogging by throwing out my crusty old shoes and spending what I considered an absorbent amount of money on new joggers. Turns out it wasn’t but it was still money well spent. I’ve since found out you should replace shoes every six month if you are jogging socially (twice a week) and more frequently Every few months) if you are training seriously!

 

As my exercise levels ramped up so did my thirst for more exercise. AT one point just this year I would wake up, pull on shoes and hit the road even before I knew what I was doing. At that point I was running two 10KM plus jogs and two 6K jogs all around the 6 mins/km mark. Not too fast not to slow. The highlight was a single 17KM facebook solo event I took part in to commemorate the death of an ordinary woman who was killed one morning while she was out jogging. Sad. I wanted to do 20 and I would have been able to if it wasn’t for the pain I felt in my knees. I felt at about the 10K mark I could run forever. Neither my lungs nor my legs would tire at that pace. I felt like 20 K’s was definitely achievable. At about 12 K’s my knees started hurting, at 15 I was worried I was doing damage and I stopped knowing I still had to walk 2 K’s home. But it was the highlight in my jogging career. The glow in my muscles felt fantastic and although I hadn’t completed 20 I had done a solid 15 K’s and had jogged/walked 17k all under 2 hours. Not long after this I changed my goals and I became focused on weight loss and upper muscle strength through resistance training. I came across a simple but comprehensive starters training workout from the one of the good folk from Fitnance, Paul Rackermann. I undertook a 8 week training regime to gain muscular strength. I lasted 3 weeks and I injured my tendons in the upper forearm. More commonly know as Tennis elbow. In short I trained at too high an intensity and injured my under prepared muscles. I will restart that regime, modify the exercise to ease the load on my forearms and start all over again. So that’s where I am now, in recovery mode, with a taped elbow biding time till I heal properly.

 

Its since been healing well and it’s given me moe time to put focus back on jogging. I bought new shoes again from Rebel Sports Maroochydore the other day and the sales man Neil invited me to jog that Wed night. SO I did and have met more like minded people. Its funny where this journey has taken me. Oh and I ran a PB for 10K too. All with my new shoes, spurred on with some friendly competition.

Fight the Fat

formats

Fight the fat

 

by Joe Morgan

Why is it so difficult to stop making bad foods choices? Because the fast  food industry have invested millions if not billions of dollars into research and marketing to ensure you stay right where you are… With your mouths and wallets open!

Like the tobacco industry the fast food industry is there with you at every stage of your life. When you are growing up, in the form of advertising when your lazy parents left you in front of the television to baby sit you. You were left to sit for hundreds if not thousands of hours soaking up powerful images of tasty looking food with gorgeous people doing fun things to great music. A powerful combination. As you got older and you started exploring the outside world, you started seeing these images again and remembered the television and how it made you feel. The memories of the music, the fun, the mouth watering food. Google Pavlov’s dogs….

Pavlov was a Russian scientist who proved dogs could be conditioned to a certain response with an external stimulus. He would ring a bell and then feed the dogs. After a period of time, the dogs became conditioned to receive food when they heard the bell ring and started salivating merely from the bell ring.

The fast food industry begins conditioning us from the day we could hold our heads up to want to try these foods for the first time and to want it each and every time there after. The first experiences with these foods are fun even if the food tastes bad and is unhealthy (which it invariably is on both counts). There are often play centres for our lazy parents to dump us in while they inhale crap food, there are cute kiddy sized packages, with fun colourful packaging, fun clowns or other child friendly themes. As we grow the advertising grows with us. Have a crap meal on a particular public holiday, after or during (watching) an event such as cricket or football, or to make parenting easier by providing quick and easy family sized meals that we can pick up in the drive through. They are developed to be with us at every stage of our day therefor intrinsically intertwining themselves into our lives.

From your first moments when you could have independent thoughts and started speaking you became a spokes person for the fast food industry, begging our parents to take us until they gave up or we gave up trying.

While driving around you saw the imagery, see people consuming, heard people talking about it in the school yard, it got reinforced when we had our first themed birthday at a fast food restaurant.

We never stood a chance. Given we can assume we have been carefully conditioned, we will have to undertake the process of deconditioning to reverse the process. Education is the key.

People who know how many calories are required each day stand a better chance. People who know how many calories each meal contains have better success of reducing their calorific intake and have better luck at weight loss/dieting etc. People who keep their main meals down to 600 calories with spare change for morning and afternoon tea are able to keep their intake to 2000 calories per day and don’t put on weight in the first place.

 

People who have to relearn good habits are undertaking a process called counter-conditioning. Wikipedia defines Counterconditioning as “…the conditioning of an unwanted behaviour or response to a stimulus into a wanted behavior or response by the association of positive actions with the stimulus..” This is definitely the case with quitting smoking. The urges to want have a smoke are ignored in favour of undertaking substitute healthier lifestyle choices. IE when you feel like a cigarette you distract yourself by moving from the location, (if you are able to) having a drink of water, playing with an object or going for a walk. Gradually these new healthier habits replace the old ones as those urges decrease.

In a good example of counter conditioning, a small boy had his fear of rabbits lessoned gradually while eating food. Eventually the boy was able to replace the pleasure of eating food with the pleasure of petting the animal because eating food reduced his nervousness of the rabbit. (So now we have an overweight boy who likes rabbits haha)

Similarly when people quit smoking they tend to replace this nervous behaviour with another (comfort eating) thereby gaining weight.

Simply substituting old bad habits with new healthy ones can be enough. The following tips will help reduce the cravings:

  • Eat full, nutritionally balanced meals at evenly spaced times through out the day keeps your blood sugar level up sufficiently thereby reducing the chance you will snack on fast foods.
  • Eating healthily before you go out will reduce the chance you will snack on fast foods.
  • Take food to work will reduce the chance you will snack on fast foods.
  • Drink water between meals will keep you feeling full and will reduce the chance you will snack on fast foods.
  • Find a new good food hang out. Try a fresh sandwich bar or good Asian takeaway.
  • Find new friends or suggest they make the change too.
  • Plan daily exercise
  • Thinking and planning ahead is the key.

 

Some simple tips that will reduce excess calorie intake. Such as:

  • Take a six pack of beer to a friend’s place instead of a carton
  • Keep fruit and water handy
  • Use smaller plates at dinner time. (you may tend to fill a large plate which will result in excess intake)
  • Put you fork down between mouthfuls of food, fully chew each mouthful and have a sip of water before putting more food on your fork.
  • Give your body time to register when your hunger pains are over during a meal when you don’t feel hungry any more, STOP EATING. Put the remainder in the fridge.
  • Learn proper portion sizes for meals

These tips may seem overly simplistic and can be ignored or overlooked when trying to lose weight but people who have had success cite these above tips as being critical to success.

Why do we resist change? Why when faced with a clear path to success do we avoid that very path. Fighting the urge to eat crap food or make bad lifestyle choices is very simple yet extremely difficult. The conditioning that we have been subjected to is so powerful that change scares us. And fundamentally we are innately lazy and unless we are presented with a very simple solution (a magic pill) we will avoid the discomfort of change until some critical event happens. That critical event must often be life changing like a heart attack or cancer where we try to regain our health and we actually have a motivating factor to make solid change.

How can we flick that switch without having that critical event? Education is the key. Learn about exercise, learn to enjoy exercise (and you will enjoy it), learn about healthy portion size, and learn about a broad balanced diet. Make a healthy lifestyle the goal and weight loss will follow.

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