Monday, December 2nd

My Sunday running with the family up the mountain DOES NOT stop because it’s dark and wet. 

It’s our routines that make us what we are.

Giving up this time of year means you give up on your health. You say to yourself that wheezing is just fine with you, because stopping training and eating rubbish will surely invite more difficult breathing in this weather. That can’t be fun.

Giving up right now means you give up on other things in life, because you haven’t got the energy to get up early and go after your ambitions. Simple as that. Those plans “will just have to wait” AGAIN.

We have large numbers at the gym still hitting it hard right now, and we deeply praise them and sincerely appreciate their efforts.

You GET IT. 

You get what the connection is between great health, personal achievement and happiness. 

Many people who struggle with their health want to turn back the clock when they were 18, and how good they felt. They rue the day they started on blood pressure tablets for example because their didn’t look after themselves enough over a number of years. 

Yet they are still not willing to change their lifestyle, so eating rubbish and drinking a few times a week is the “connection” they make with youth, even if it’s half killing them now.

Your habits MAKE YOU or BREAK YOU. We try to stay a very strong team, picking each other up along the way.

As you get older, great health matters far more than spending too much on cosmetic material things that don’t matter, especially this time of year. 

Your daily habits will make you rich in health if you practice a few simple things daily, we all have the same choices, some take them, some ignore them but they all have a cost now and in the future.

Look after yourself.

Wednesday, 20th November

Post-workout snacks

Whether you are hungry or not, the quicker you eat food or drink after a workout, the quicker your body will recover. The enzymes responsible for making glycogen are most active immediately after your workout, leaving you with a 2-hour window to reload your muscle glycogen. Carbs are converted into glycogen one and a half times faster than normal during this post-exercise period.

Begin refueling with a high carb snack preferably with a high GI which will pass into your muscles much quicker than a low GI food.

You will have to watch portion sizes as eating too much carbohydrate will be stored as fat and not turned into glycogen. To help with recovery it’s a good idea to combine protein with carbohydrate for the post workout snack.

1. A couple of pieces of fresh fruit eg bananas, with milk.

2. 1 or 2 cartons of fruit yogurt such as Yeo Valley or Rachel’s.

3. A smoothie made with crushed fresh fruit whizzed in the blender with small handful of nuts.

4. A homemade milkshake. Use milk, yogurt and fruit such as bananas and strawberries for an excellent mixture of protein, carbs and antioxidants.

5. Tuna or cottage cheese sandwich. Choose wholemeal rolls, bagels, pitta or wraps.

6. A couple of rice cakes with jam and cottage cheese.

7. A handful of dried fruit and nuts.

Friday, 8th November

It’s normally this time of year that things are starting to get really busy in terms of everyone’s individual commitments all the way up to Christmas.

I see some kids have exams starting one maths exam Monday, I know there’s a build up to the main exams before Christmas, and I know there’s plenty of exams after Christmas.

I know of many mother’s in the gym who are getting stressed by the run up to Christmas, school plays are happening in three weeks or so, and there’s plenty of other commitments.

Then you have the usual pile up of sporting commitments with games called off because of the non-stop rain. This adds to the stress of non stop games needing to be played. This can interfere a lot with everyone’s commitments and training.

The main point here is TIME or lack of it!!! This is why I have to convince people that even 20-30 minutes sessions are still very valuable, especially when you are time-crunched!

The goal should be to make time to exercise, however short. What matters really is what you do in that allotted time, and great workouts can easily be achieved.

What you need to have is a proper plan, set out over the week and implemented with commitment.

These are the most popular workouts I do this time of year so I will give you much more detail next week!

Tuesday, 29th October

With all the volatility in weather terms, avoiding storms, huge amounts of rain falling, temperatures rising and then falling quickly, this is an ideal time to become acclimatized to the upcoming very cold winter temperatures to come.

Instead of waiting until January to experience the unpleasant shock of your lungs not going to be able to inhale the very cold air, now is the perfect time to experience a more gradual change in the weather.

So instead of disappearing from the colder and wetter weather by taking up permanent residence on the settee, its surely time to get out in the fresh air even more and expose your lungs to all the changes to come.

Another good reason to do this would be to keep yourself in the shape that you worked so hard to get in during the summer. Don’t go through the agony of putting all of that hard work in, and then pile the weight and body fat all back on again.

We have 8 weeks left to Christmas and this is a perfect time frame to allow yourself to put a very good training period in.

The weeks before Christmas are often more important than the ones afterwards, because going into Christmas IN shape will feel fantastic, and allow you to avoid the torture of battling the bulge after overdoing in the Christmas holidays!

So it all starts here, keep doing your running, your cycling, your sprints etc, its all going to be much more valuable than you think

Thursday, 24th October

Carb up or get left behind

In the minds of many athletes, carbohydrates often plays second fiddle to protein. This is partly due to misinformation about how truly important carbohydrate is to the athletic endeavor, but also may be due to common misunderstandings about what carbohydrate is.

Although protein is critically important to health and certainly plays a role in sustaining and enlarging muscle mass, reducing muscle soreness, and improving muscle recovery, consuming excessively large amounts of protein does little to improve athletic performance when it replaces carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate is needed to fuel almost every type of activity, and the amount of glycogen (which is what carbs turn into in the body) stored in your muscles and liver has a direct effect on your exercise performance. Over the years carbs have had a bad rap what with all the low carb high protein diets making an appearance in the media. It is true that you do lose a lot of weight fast on a high protein diet sometimes within days, however what you lose is not fat. The body loses its glycogen stores and water, making you drop weight quickly. The result is you look leaner however you have depleted your body of its muscular energy source.

The truth is that the human body’s preferred choice of fuel is carbs and this is most critical at higher levels of exercise intensity, where there is a greater reliance on carbs as a source of muscular fuel. Like filling a car up before a long journey, you should be stocking your glycogen stores up before, during and after a workout (depending on duration and intensity of the workout).

There have been scientific experiments conducted in this area to determine the importance of carbohydrates in relation to exercise performance. In a pioneering study, three groups of athletes were given a low-carbohydrate diet, a high-carbohydrate diet and a moderate-carbohydrate diet (Bergstrom et al.,1967). The scientists then measured the concentration of glycogen in their leg muscles. The high carb athletes had twice as much as the moderate-carb athletes and seven times more glycogen than the low-carb diet athletes. They were then asked to cycle to exhaustion on a stationary bike. The high-carb athletes managed 170 minutes, the moderate carb diet 115 minutes but the low carb diet athletes only managed a mere 60 minutes.

This experiment shows how quickly you fatigue on a low carb diet. What’s more, athletes who train in a glycogen-depleted state tend to choose a lower workload or intensity because the exercise just feels harder.

Many are scared of loading up the carbs for fear of putting weight on however if you rely on protein as your main source of fuel you will fatigue much sooner or drop your exercise intensity and therefore end up burning fewer calories – and less body fat! It should be noted that when muscle glycogen and blood glucose levels are low, your muscles will burn more protein for fuel. So you end up losing your hard-earned muscle along with a reduction in your endurance levels. You will ultimately stay a certain level of fitness where your time in the gym is not particularly enjoyable and your training average to say the least.

If you are a sportsperson who is involved in a sport that requires endurance and explosive strength, this would include rugby, football and hockey, getting your training to the next level would be advantageous.

Serious exercisers who train at a high intensity at the gym 3 times a week or more would benefit from a carb rich diet, especially if you take part in the prowler sessions with Keri. Also people who enjoy endurance sports such as running, cycling and swimming need to fuel with carbs on a daily basis.

A good guide as to whether you are eating enough carbs or not is to notice how energetic you feel during your workouts. If you feel easily fatigued, this suggests low glycogen levels and an insufficient carb intake. Try upping your carb intake a little at a time, a fistful of pasta or rice in the evening meal to see how you feel during training sessions. Fruit and vegetables are also made of carbohydrate so include plenty of these in your daily diet. We recommend that some form of carbs be eaten during every mealtime.

However on the other hand, over-eating carbs won’t increase your energy levels. This is due to the fact that the human body only has relatively small amounts of storage in the muscles and liver for glycogen and excess carbs will indeed get stored as fat. You will feel heavy and lethargic with over-consumption and so portion control is hugely important. Little and often is key throughout the day.

The best advice we can give you is to listen to your own body. You will know when you have sufficiently carbed up as you will have increased energy levels and explosive power and strength during training sessions. Ultimately as far as I’m concerned, there is no better feeling than knowing you can finish the session and still have enough petrol left in the tank…

Eat to train
Nicola.