Tips for Staying Motivated to Exercise During Winter

Title-Picture

 

There is one question that always pops up each year as the weather begins to get colder and wetter. How do I stay motivated to exercise during winter? When it is windy and raining outside, the warm couch becomes so much more inviting. It is much more tempting to just stay indoors and hibernate. But hibernating won’t help us achieve our fitness goals. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of our favourite tips and hints to help you stay motivated during the cold and dark winter months.

 

Sign up for an event:

If you’re struggling to find the motivation to hit the gym, try signing up for a spring fitness event. Registering for the City to Bay in September or the Night Attack Obstacle Course in early October might be just what you need to keep you on track during winter.

If entering a race or competition isn’t your thing, why not set yourself a goal for an upcoming social event. For example, aim to go down a dress size before a wedding or dinner planned for September. Having a short term goal that has to be achieved by spring can help you find the energy to hit the gym even when it’s raining and the couch is calling.

 

Revisit your goals:

Revisit your fitness or weight loss goals to remind yourself why you go to the gym in the first place. If you have a long term goal (for example, lose 20kg over 12 months) try setting a smaller goal that can be achieved over winter (for example, lose 6kg by September). Make sure that your goal is SMART. In other words, it should be:

  • Specific: it outlines the details of who, what, where, why, which and when. If your goal is to “lose weight”, how do you know when you’ve achieved your goal? If your goal is “lose 5kg”, it is much easier to determine when you’ve reached your goal.
  • Measurable: make sure your goal is one you can measure to determine you’re on track.
  • Attainable: A goal that is impossible will just leave you feeling disappointed. Set a challenging but achievable goal to keep you motivated to work towards it.
  • Relevant: Make sure your short term goal is something that is important to you and will help you achieve your long term goals.
  • Timely: set a timeframe in which you want to achieve your goal to avoid procrastinating working towards it.

During winter, track your progress towards this goal to ensure you’re on track and keep you motivated to hit the gym even with the bad weather.

 

Remember, you have to move it or you will lose it:

It would be great if we could go to the gym, work towards a goal and stop once we get there. But unfortunately fitness doesn’t work that way. Some training is still required if you want to maintain the results yoFitness Memeu’ve already achieved due to your hard work. Put another way, if you stop exercising or eating healthy over winter, your fitness levels will decrease and the weight will return. Remember this when the temptation to hibernate sets in. The last thing you want to do is return to the gym in September to find you’ve taken a couple of steps backwards.

 

Write a list of the benefits:

Write a list of all the reasons you exercise. Don’t limit yourself to ‘losing weight’ or ‘getting stronger’. Get creative and list as many reasons as you can think of. Here are just a few examples to get you going:

  • Improvement in energy levels
  • Increased immunity
  • Reducing stress
  • Relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • It can improve sleep
  • Improves your chances of living longer
  • Exercise can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and many more conditions
  • Exercise improves your ability to undertake everyday tasks such as climbing stairs and taking groceries to the car

Take the written list you’ve created and stick it somewhere where you will look at it every day. Refer to it when you feel your motivation waning.

 

Try a new group exercise class or Personal Trainer:

They say variety is the spice of life. Maybe a little variety is all you need to give your motivation a boost this winter. If your workout routine is feeling a little stale, perhaps try out a new class to see if you like it. If you’re a BodyPump regular but wanting a new challenge, why not try out a Grit class? If you’re usually in for Maria’s step class on Wednesday nights, why not tack on a CX Worx class afterwards?

Seeing a Personal Trainer is also a good method for adding a little variety to your workouts. They aren’t just useful for people who are new to exercise or the gym setting. They can also be beneficial for exercise veterans who would like a little extra motivation or someone to keep them accountable during the cold winter months.

 

Make it as convenient as possible:

When it’s cold, wet and raining outside, any hurdle that you face in your effort to get to the gym can easily become a deal breaker. During this time, you want to make sure fitting exercise into your day is convenient as possible.

If you like to exercise before work, try preparing your breakfast the night before to save time in the morning. Lay out your clothes and shoes before bed so you don’t have to hunt for them in the cold at 6am. If you usually exercise at night, try taking your gym clothes to work with you so you can go straight there on your way home.  It can be really difficult to leave your house after you get home and comfortable.

 

Track your workouts:

Recording your workouts is a great way to chart your progress over time. There is nothing more motivating then comparing your current training program with what you were doing a few months ago. Seeing improvement can help give you that boost of motivation and encouragement to stick at it.

 

Find a workout buddy:

Try finding a workout buddy to help keep you motivated. Having someone to chat to can definitely make the time go faster and the chances of cancelling a training session reduces if you know someone is waiting for you. It’s also a lot of fun to have someone to celebrate your successes with as you work towards your goals.

If you can’t find someone to hit the gym with you, it can be just as useful to recruit a friend or family member to keep you accountable. A Stanford University study found that encouragement and support from another can increase the amount a person exercises. In that study, participants were contacted every three weeks and asked how much they had exercised recently and what they could do to increase that level in the week ahead. After 12 months, the researchers found that, on average, the participants increased their weekly exercising time by 78%.

 

Give yourself a (sensible) reward:

When motivation is hard to find, do a deal with yourself. If you get to the gym a certain number of times a week, you’ll treat yourself with some kind of reward. Just make sure it isn’t a reward that is going to sabotage your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward yourself with chocolate. Instead, go for a non-food reward such as a warm bath, new workout clothes or a sleep in on the weekend.

I’m also interested to hear whether you’ve got any other tips and tricks you use to stay motivated. If so, let us know in the comment section below.

 

Advertisements
Posted in General | Leave a comment

Menopause: How Regular Exercise Can Help

Mood-swingsMenopause. The dreaded “M” word. It’s a natural change that all women must face at one point in their lives, yet most of us still dread it. It often also comes hand in hand with unfortunate symptoms such as hot flushes, weight gain, lack of libido, moodiness, depression, fatigue, lack of short term memory and insomnia (just to name a few).  It can also increase a woman’s chances of developing conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes.

But it’s not all bad news. Thankfully there are things we can do to prevent or minimise the negative side effects of menopause. Incorporating regular exercise into your schedule can help manage depression, moodiness, stress and weight gain. It can also help decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes later in life. Here’s all you need to know about menopause and exercise.

 Managing depression, moodiness and stress

Mood swings is a symptom often associated with menopause. While every woman’s experience is different, many report an increase in moodiness, depression, stress and anxiety.  This is often thought to be caused by the change in hormone levels. However, other symptoms such as sleep deprivation and nightly hot flushes can also impact a person’s ability to cope with everyday life. The good news is that exercise (particularly aerobic exercise) can help. It encourages the production of ‘feel-good’ brain chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins that can help improve mood and reduce stress and depression.

 Avoiding Weight Gain during Menopause

Another change that woman often experience during menopause is weight gain and loss of muscle. This can be caused by the change in hormone levels as well as a slowing metabolic rate as we age. However, menopause and weight gain do not have to go hand in hand. Incorporating healthy habits such as a balanced diet and regular exercise can help combat these symptoms and keep your weight in check.

 Decreasing your Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

After menopause, many women find their body has developed a tendency to store weight around their stomach. Even those who previously considered themselves to be a “pear” shape (gaining weight first in their legs and hips) find this can change. This increase in abdomen and visceral fat (body fat that is stored around the internal organs) combined with the change in hormone levels can increase the chances of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Regular exercise can help reduce this risk by reducing the amount of fat gained in these areas.

 Treating or Decreasing Your Risk of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become brittle and fragile. As a result, they become much more prone to breaking or fractures. A drop of particular hormones during and after menopause increases a woman’s risk of developing the condition. In contrast, weight bearing exercises (such as strength training, walking and jogging) can help increase bone density and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis. Balance exercises can also help by avoiding falls.

If you have already been told by your doctor that you have osteoporosis, then proceed with care. Avoid high impact exercises that could increase your risk of falling.

If you have any further questions, please feel welcome to speak to one of our personal trainers.

Posted in Menopause | Leave a comment

How Supplements and Weight-Loss Became Besties Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about the negative effects of weight-loss without the correct nutritional supplementation.

In this post, I will be talking about my top 3 supplements that help to offset these effects to give us the best results possible.

#1 BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

So by now, surely you must’ve heard about the muscle loss that commonly accompanies weight loss, which can lead to skinny-fat syndrome, especially with people who chronically yo-yo diet. Muscle loss causes; a sluggish metabolism, more wobbly bits (as your muscle tone decreases), and lessened strength which will mean you can’t train like a boss and your overall fitness may not improve.

skinny-fat

The role of BCAA is to minimise muscle wastage by providing readily absorbed amino acids (which are the building blocks of your muscles) during your workout so that a) your body is less likely to break down your muscle tissue for energy, and b) it helps to repair and rebuild muscle immediately after a workout.

Click here if you wish to find out a bit more about BCAA’s.

#2 Whey Protein Isolate

So it’s important to meet your daily protein requirements, and sometimes this can be a little difficult in certain situations, such as those with a busy lifestyle, and at certain times of the day. supplementing WPI can help you get enough protein into your diet, and is great for mixing up in shakes, and adding it into recipes without adding flavour. Check out this yummy breakfast recipe!

bircher

#3 L- Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant non-essential amino acid in the human body, and is vital for normal immune and gut function. In normal conditions, our bodies produce enough on it’s own, but when our bodies are put under stress – whether it be emotional or physical – a hormone called cortisol is released (click here to read more about the effects of cortisol), which can have negative effects on our bodies. Excess cortisol depletes our supply of Glutamine which could be why you frequently get sick just when you feel like you are exercising consistently. I know when I get sick, my exercise routine takes a back seat, and I feel like I’m back to square one.
 

stress

So if you; regularly workout at a high intensity, are restricitng calories/carbs, not sleeping enough, and drinking too much caffeine, it is more than likely that you would benefit from taking L-Glutamine

So there you have it! My top 3 supplements for weight-loss (and better health, improved performance, and muscle growth for that matter)

photddgfggdoAbout the Author

Kim is a Personal Trainer at NAFC whose areas of expertise & interest include; strength training, (with an emphasis on the lower body and Glutes), core, Kettlebell, running, & triathlon training.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

How Supplements and Weight-Loss Became Besties Part 1

bff

A friendship has blossomed. Once they were strangers, now they make the perfect partnership. BFF’s for life. Weight-loss and supplements now walk hand-in-hand.

But you ask – “Aren’t supplements only for body builders?” WRONG. Most definately not! That is an outdated view of the past. You my friend, need to get with the times.

arnold

First of all, what is a supplement? The definition of a supplement is;

‘Something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole.’

When we create dietary deficiencies by restricting our food intake in an attempt to lose weight and increasing physical demand on the body through training, our bodies can suffer in the following ways:

  • Muscle wastage
  • Reduced metabolism
  • Low energy levels
  • Poor immunity
  • Reduced ability to burn fat

All of the above effects can have a huge impact on weight-loss results.

Muscle wastage; the less muscle you have, the lower your metabolism, and also,  the less toned you will also be.

Reduced metabolism; Many of your bodily functions can slow down when your body senses a deficit in energy meaning you will burn less calories, leading you to reach a weight-loss plateau, or re-find all the weight you’ve lost plus more once you start eating ‘normally’ again.

Low energy levels; Due to nutrient deficiencies and an increased energy output you can sometimes find energy levels droop when trying to lose weight, which can lead to poor quality or missed workouts, or your body craving sugary, carbohydrate rich foods.

Poor immunity; when you get sick the last thing on your mind is working out and eating healthy, so your fitness and nutrition regime can often take a back-seat when you’re not feeling 100%.

Reduced ability to burn fat; When you workout, do you want your body to use muscle stores for energy instead of fat? I think not.

Through dietary supplementation you can help reduce the occurance of the above effects. Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself the best chance possible to compliment all the hard work and effort you are putting into your fitness and weight-loss journey?

My three favourite weight-loss supplements are the following; BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids), Glutamine, and WPI (Whey Protein Isolate).

psa_-_protein_bcaa__48979.1405576495.1280.1280

 

In part 2, I will tell you a little more about why these supplements are at the top of my list, and how I use and recommend them.

photddgfggdo

About the Author

Kim is a Personal Trainer at NAFC whose areas of expertise & interest include; strength training, (with an emphasis on the lower body and Glutes), core, Kettlebell, running, & triathlon training.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pros of Protein

love proteinDo you keep hearing a whole heap of people in the fitness industry harp on about the importance of including protein in the diet? There’s a good reason why. The needs for the amount of dietary fats, carbohydrates and protein can differ greatly from person to person depending on a number of factors including your; goals, body-type, gender, and activity level. A balanced level of macro nutrients helps to provide your body with adequate nutrition to reach optimum health, body composition and performance.

Whether you are trying to add muscle, lose weight or improve your health, the incorporation of protein in your diet is a very important factor to consider for the following reasons:

  • Growth and maintenance of muscle tissue
  • Improved immunity
  • Increased feeling of fullness
  • Increased metabolism

We should try and include lean protein in each meal, and ideally the majority of protein from our diet would be from wholefood sources such as the following:

  • Meat; chicken, beef, lamb, fish etc
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Plant sources such as beans, peas, & lentils

In saying that, sometimes this is not always possible, due to convenience, appeal or access. I love having oats for breakfast, whether it be bircher meusli in summer or porridge in winter, but the amount of protein in these concoctions isn’t sufficient to meet my needs, so my problem is, how do I add more? Recently I found a solution – protein powder! At first I wasn’t really convinced this would be the answer as all the protein powders I have come across are flavoured; double chocolate, exotic vanilla, peanut butter crunch, strawberries and cream, caramel honeycomb, and the list goes on. I like to keep my food as natural as possible, so this wasn’t an option. I did some research and came across the solution. Unflavoured Whey protein. I found it mixed really well with my breakfast without adding flavour or any other crap that my tummy doesn’t agree with.

Pure WPI (Whey Protein Isolate)

Protein Supplies Australia make a fantastic quality Pure Whey Protein which is free from any added flavours or fillers. Keep your eyes peeled, as this high quality Australian range is coming to NAFC very soon

So have a think about what you eat, and if you eat protein on a regular basis throughout the day, especially within the hours following a workout, and at night. These are vital times that protein is required to rebuild and restore the body. If you need a bit of guidance with nutrition advice, we have Emma Spiller doing nutrition coaching on Monday nights, or to get you on track with your eating habits and workouts, try booking in with a trainer for an assessment to see how we can help by educating you on the right foods to eat, and by keeping you accountable so that you can get the best out of your membership.

photddgfggdo

About the Author

Kim is a Personal Trainer at NAFC whose areas of expertise & interest include; strength training, (with an emphasis on the lower body and Glutes), core, Kettlebell, running, & triathlon training.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Butt why? The reasons behind your lazy Glutes

Looking back a few years ago, before I began working in the fitness industry, I had no concept of Glute activation, and why it is so important. I used to go to group fitness classes, and run. Well, I used to try to run anyway, but always seemed to gain some kind of injury whenever I started to run consistently. It was very disheartening. It would either be some kind of pain through the front of my leg or hip, or the dreaded shin splints. My shin splints got so bad that the pain was evident even when I would go for a gentle stroll around the block. If only I knew then what I know now. These injuries were a side-affect of my once weak Glutes. I discovered this from a couple of sources; my physio, and my fitness studies in becoming a Personal Trainer. Over the past few years, I have been working hard at strengthening my Glutes by being mindful during exercise and everyday movement, and including a broad range of exercises to strengthen and activate them. My shin-splints are now a mere memory, and I haven’t had any pain/pulling through the front of my leg for a long time now.

In my last post, I asked you if you have a lazy bum, and gave you some ways to help assess if this is the case for you.

Lazy Glutes

A perfect example of weak, lazy Glutes

In this post, I am uncovering a few different reasons why your glutes may be weak and lazy to begin with:

  • Sitting down

When in the seated position, the muscle through the front of the leg is contracted (shortened), and active, whereas the Glute muscles are stretched out (lengthenned) and relaxed.Have a think about how much you sit down in your day-to-day life – driving, working or studying, eating meals, sitting down to watch tellie, even cycling.

  • Previous Injury

If you’ve had pain from an injury in the past, our body will try to move in the most pain-free way possible, which can lead to compensations, and specific muscles such as the core and Glutes can ‘switch off’ to protect us from pain, and over time become inactivate and weak.

  • Unbalanced workout routines
Barbell Glute Bridge

Barbell Glute Bridge

When you perform a lower body exercise, you can be working the following muscles; quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Some exercises engage the glutes much more others, so it is important to know which exercises you should be including into your repoirtoire. A mixture of exercises such as pelvic bridges, deadlifts, hip thrusts, and leg abductions are all great exercises to strengthen your Glutes.

  • Poor technique

If you are doing an intense or fast-paced workout, it is common for your body to revert to the most efficient way to perform the exercise to relieve fatigued muscles. Sometimes this more efficient way is not of quality movement, and can mean you’re using the incorrect muscles. It is very easy for beginners and experienced gym-goers alike to learn poor technique, and pick up bad habits that you may not even be aware of. Signs that indicate poor technique when doing lower body exercises such as squats and lunges are; the weight shifting forward to the front of the foot, knees caving inwards, pain in the lower back, knees or front of the hip, rounding through the back, and always pulling up sore through the front of the leg but rarely the Glutes.

perfect-squat

Great squatting technique helps to activate the glutes

So if the above apply to you, why not pay special attention behind you?

Next week I will be covering how you can work on strengthening your Glutes. Until then, start squeezing!

photddgfggdo

Kim is a Personal Trainer at NAFC whose areas of expertise & interest include; strength training, (with an emphasis on the lower body and Glutes), core, Kettlebell, running, & triathlon training.

Kim is running a series of workshops that teach you technical & practical skills to build stronger Glutes & core. Enquire today.

Posted in Exercise, General, Glutes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you have a lazy bum?

In my previous post, I spoke about my fascination and adoration of the Glutes.When this muscle group is neglected, that makes me sad. I cannot stipulate the importance of having a strong, well functioning booty enough. So you’re probably thinking, well how do I know if my glutes are at an adequate level of strength? Glute weakness is extremely common, even amongst people that are regular gym-goers, so I can probably safely say that most of you could improve in this area. I can say myself that I have suffered from having inhibited Glutes, and it is a constant working process for me.No-Ass-Bikini-Bottoms-DOC-300x247

  • Visual inspection – Your bottom simply looks depressed. It may be any of the following; droopy, dimply, soft, saggy, lacking definition, flat, or wobbly. The solution – your butt needs some TLC to give it a boost!
  • lower back/knee pain – As discussed in my previous article, weakness in the Glutes could possibly be the cause of pain experienced in the lower back, knees, ankles, and front of the hip.
  • Knees caving inwards – When you are next doing a lower body movement, such a squat, lunge, or leg press, take a note of what your knees are doing, especially at the bottom of the movement when you begin to push upwards. Ideally, your knees, ankles Capture32and toes should all be in line with eachother, so if you find that your knees move towards eachother, you have trouble keeping the knees and ankles, and toes tracking in line, and you roll inwards, it could be a sign that your Glutes are on holiday.
  • Assessment methods – A method we use as trainers is the prone leg raise. lying on your stomach, have someone firmly dig one finger into the hamstring muscle, and one in the gluteal muscle, one side at a time. Keeping the leg straight, raise the leg off the ground. Observe which muscle contracts first, then release that leg down to the ground, relax completely, then repeat up to 5 times. Ideally we want the Glute muscle turning on before the hamstring. If this isn’t happening, and you can feel the hamstring muscle contracting first, then you need to learn how to switch those Glute babies on.

So if you notice any or all of the above are applicable to you, please do yourself the courtesy of learning how to strengthen these all-important muscles, the Glutes. Check out (below) the kind of transformation you can achieve when you start to focus on building your butt. You can begin this by joining Kim’s 10 week small-group workshop where you will learn the art of Glute activation and strengthening, with the next intake starting from 21st of July, 2014.

Untitled

In my next post, I’ll be covering the reasons why we develop lazy, weak and inhibited Glutes in the first place.

photddgfggdo

Kim is a Personal Trainer at NAFC whose areas of expertise & interest include; strength training, (with an emphasis on the lower body and Glutes), core, Kettlebell, running, & triathlon training.

Kim is running a series of workshops that teach you technical & practical skills to build stronger Glutes & core. Enquire today.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment