GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the tag “metabolism”

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Hi there!

I never used to enjoy coffee. I found it bitter and pointless. I was also accutely aware of it’s addictive capabilities and didn’t want to become reliant on a morning coffee to get going. However, whilst here in Spain, I’ve developed a taste for it and in moderation it can help speed up metabolism, boost concentration and productivity and just give you a little boost when you need it! It also doesn’t need to be calorie-laden! If you can stomach it, go for black everytime, or opt for semi-skimmed/skimmed milk, no sugar, soy milk (or other alternatives) to cut the calories!

I’ve just started using Pact Coffee and I’m about to get a delivery of freshly ground coffee from Toledo! It asked me a few questions about how I like my coffee and funnily enough is sending me Spanish coffee! It’s got 70% dark chocolate and the grounds themselves are from Columbia. They’ve got tons of coffees to try and they can send you a different one weekly or fortnightly! It’s £6.95 a pack but if you use my referral code HANNAH-KZMZEQ your first bag is £1!

So, give it a try. I never thought I’d like coffee but it’s actually a great drink to have socialising or as a pick me up!

Have a fantastic week guys! We’re half way through!

Gym Bug

Water- Liquid Gold

Hi there!

So, water. It’s actually really important if you’re looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lot of you are probably thinking “Yeah, duh, Miss State-the-obvious” but sometimes it needs said!
We lose water throughout the day through sweating, breathing and going to the bathroom and we need to make sure we consistently replenish our water levels throughout the day. This doesn’t mean downing a glass of water every hour, you also get hydration from foods and other non-water beverages.

Why is it important?

Hydration is essential for any form of physical activity. Poor hydrations causes muscle fatigue, reduces coordination, makes us light headed and can cause muscle cramps. Also, if you become dehyrated during sports or physical activity, you reduce your body’s ability to cool-down through sweating. Not to be extreme, but it can lead to heat stroke which has some very serious consequences.

Hydration is also essential for weight loss. Water (particularly the cold stuff) can help boost our metabolism. Also, it can help curb cravings, overeating and boredome eating. If you’re about to sit down for a meal, have a glass of water first, it will reduce your chances of tucking in for more than you nee by filling your stomach up a bit. Proper hydration also reduces bloating.

Dehydration is also a main cause of headaches and fatigue. Keeping hydrated is essential to allow your brain to function normally too and is important for concentration, cognition and general ability to function at a normal level. It also helps the heart pump blood more efficiently around your body and is general good for the function of all muscles.

But how much do we need?
We all have heard the “8 Glasses a Day” rule. But that’s no longer applicable. My water needs might be very different from yours and it is possible to overhydrate. This occurs when you drink so much you’re constntly back and forth to the bathroom and you’re removing nutrients from your system that you need (e.g salt), so watch out. You need to consider things such as climate, exercise intensity and duration, what you’re wearing, sweat levels and so on to get a reasonable idea of what you should be consuming.
DO NOT RELY ON THIRST. This is key because if you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated.
A way of measuring how much you need is to weigh yourself before and after exercise, to see how much “water weight” you’ve lost. However, if you’re like me, you avoid scales because they do not always give accurate readings of your health (muscle weighs more than fat, but seeing an increase in weight is never fun).

I keep a bottle of water on me at all times and sip it periodically throughout the day. I also consume a lot of fruit and veg and drink green tea. Typically, I find I remain pretty well hydrated throughout the day as a result. Although I now can’t go anywhere without my water bottle.

Symptoms of Dehydration
These are things to look out for that indicate you may be dehydrated and should get some water pronto;

  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth, lips, eyes
  • Passing small amounts of urine infrequently
  • Passing urine that is dark in colour (basically, the clearer the better)

Sever dehydration has some pretty serious symptoms (I won’t go into them, check out NHS for a list) so try keep any of these symptoms to a minimum in terms of frequency!

And there we have it! A little educational lesson on the importance of water and why it is liquid gold.

I understand that there is probably people out there who genuinly do not like water (we’ll not start the “it’s got no flavour” debate) so here’s some ways to get water into your life!

  • Fruit-infused water (just add some lemon, lime, oranges, strawberries, apples etc to your water overnight to give a fruity flavour!)
  • Tea (it’s literally flavoured hot water, best go caffeine free)
  • Fruits and vegetables with high water content (lettuce, cucumbers, apples, oranges)
  • Other beverages (thinking milk, limited amounts of fruit juice and things)

I don’t know this as some innate knowledge, the sources I used are listed below if you want to have some extra reading. I have also included a fun info-graphic to break up the monotony of text-only posts!

Got to love it!

Got to love it!

Have a great evening!

Gym Bug

P.S One month until Santa makes an appearance…

Sources;

http://www.livestrong.com/article/438279-the-importance-of-hydration/

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Staying-Hydrated—Staying-Healthy_UCM_441180_Article.jsp

 

H.I.I.T

Hi there!

This is anther one of my older post from my previous blog, but I’ve mentioned HIIT a lot so I thought it’s best to upload again! HIIT standards for High Intensity Interval Training and is an excellent way to get your heart rate and fat burning capabilities through the roof!

The idea behind HIIT is simple; short bursts of high intensity activity followed by a short rest, this is repeated until the desired time is up. The best thing about HIIT is that you can do it with anything! (Note: when I say “on” I mean as hard as you can go, when I say “off” I mean recovery where you allow your heart rate to drop). I thought I’d convince the un-convinced by doing some research to get some scientific evidence in front of your eyes!

Simplyshredded refer to a study conducted in Laval University. They kept it basic, 1 group followed a 15-week HIIT training plan and one followed a 20-week steady state cardio plan. Steady-state group burned 15,000 more calories than HIIT group BUT HIIT group lost significantly more body fat! The science behind it is that because HIIT is tougher on the body, it requires more energy (calories) to repair itself afterwards. HIIT essentially has a more effective after burn.

Still not convinced? The same post also stated that short bursts of high intensity cardio help us hold onto our hard-earned muscle mass! You just need to take a look at Bradley Wiggins legs (who competes in long, steadier races such the Tour De France) compared to those of Sir Chris Hoy (who does short bursts of intense cycling around a velodrome).

All of this is further emphasized by Jim Stoppani, PhD, who refers to the same studies conducted in Laval University and Ontario University as well. Just  do a little research yourself if you need further convincing. However, please give these (or your own versions) a go, HIIT is amazing!

Running;
If you’re interested in giving HIIT a go with running to mix it up and maximize calorie burning then best start off with an “easy” HIIT run to get a sense of you’re own capabilities. Doing this until you pass out is ill-advised, for obvious reasons. When I gave it a go prior to being injured I ran hard for 30 seconds and took 30 seconds off. I repeated this until I had doing it for 15- minutes in total. The run itself was 30- minutes (7.5- minutes warm up, 15- minutes HIIT, 7.5- minutes cool down). HIIT is great because it never gets easier! You can alter the length of the intervals or the intensity as you see appropriate!

I now tend to do 15-20 minutes of HIIT (1 minute on, 1 minute off) with 5 minute warm and 5 minute cool down.

Cycling;
This would be applicable to a typical spin class for example. It’s intense, short bursts followed by recovery. Then you sob as you’re told to do it all again. If you’re not part of a class you can still do this, indoors or outside! I have 2 sessions, each lasting 45-minutes.

Session 1: This is a sprint session. Take 5-minutes to gradually increase your heart rate through increasing the resistance. Once the 5-minutes are up it’s 35-minutes of work! I tend to follow the same (monotonous, yet effective) pattern, 1.5-minutes on with 1-minute off. You repeat this a total of 10 times, then it’s a 5-minute cool down. (Note: feel free to lengthen the warm-up and cool-down as you see fit).

Session 2: This one uses hill & seated climbs, sprints and jumps (alternate between 10-15 seconds standing, followed by 10-15 seconds seated, repeat for desired length). Again, I do a 5-minute warm up, 35-minutes of work, 5-minute cool down. The 35-minutes of work consist of 2.5-minutes of either a hill climb, seated climb, sprint or jump. Mix it up to enhance the work-out. This is harder, in my opinion, than the solid sprinting because it’s uses different muscles, for example, when I hill climb there’s a lot of burning on my glutes, which is less severe when I do a seated climb.

Aerobics;
Aerobics aren’t new and they’re great, but not as challenging as they could be. This is where “HIIT-ifying” it comes in. Give yourself 30-minutes and split it into 5-minute warm up, 20-minutes work, 5-minute cool down. I’ve written out an example below for a HIIT workout I do (no equipment needed, but if it has a * next to it, you can use a dumbbell(s) to make it harder). Work for 40 seconds with a 5 second rest between each exercise, then take a 1-minute rest between each set.

Repeat each set three times. It’s 3.25-minutes per set with 5-minutes break in total, so it’s 19.5-minutes of work! Remember 40 seconds on, 5 seconds rest between exercises with a 1-minute rest between each set.

Set 1:
Jumping squats
Press ups
Bicycle crunches
Russian twists*
High knees

Set 2:
Running on the spot (go as hard as you can)
Tricep dips (overhead tricep extensions with a dumbbell works too)
Push up plank (explained below)
Superman (explained below)
Burpees (explained below)

A really good idea is to mix it up! Write out your own HIIT aerobics plan that targets those large muscle groups you’re aiming to improve/tone/strengthen/shrink. Now a quick explanation on some of the moves.

Push up plank- start in a normal plank position with your elbows on the floor. Move into a raised plank position with your hands on the floor and your arms straight. Return to original plank position with elbows on the floor. Repeat for stated length of time.

Superman- lie on your stomach, arms and legs stretched out. Lift your head, arms and legs together and hold for a few seconds/the whole time. If you hold it for a few seconds before returning to the start position, repeat until the specified time is up.

Burpees (I hate these, but they’re a good exercise)- start on your feet. Jump as high as you can and when you land go straight into a crouch. Kick your legs back (so you’re in a raised plank position) and then bring them back into so you’re in a crouched position again. Jump back up, making sure to explode from the ground and repeat.

Anything that is unclear best go onto youtube/google to double check. As always, best to be completely clear on the technique and the moves to avoid any injury. It’s also possible incorrect technique means you’re not actually benefitting from the exercise. Nothing worse than wasted effort! (except injury)

HIIT is a great way to mix up your exercise regime and can help keep you away from the weight-loss plateau or the horrible repetitive strain that can occur. Otherwise it’s another way of keeping fit and healthy! Be careful though, this is a very intense form of exercise if done to highest of ability, so limit yourself to how many you do a week!

Gym Bug

Basal Metabolic Rate

Hi there!

This is a post you’ll find on my old blog. I’m re-posting because I still think it’s important, that whilst this is NOT a full-blown accurate measure, it might give you a general ide of where you’re at roughly. You will also see I’ve added a new category titled “learning”. Here I shall share interesting bits of information that could help all of us lead healthier lifestyles.

So, I see a lot of things flying around about foods & exercises that boost your metabolism. It got me thinking. What is my basal metabolic rate (BMR)? You can get this professionally tested, which is the most accurate, however, it can be very expensive. I did a bit of research and I found a calculation in a book I own called “Sports Nutrition for Women” by Anita Bean (it’s brilliant).

BMR is the number of calories burned during rest that enables your body to continue to function (heartbeat, breathing, maintaining body temperature etc.)  This can really useful to know when trying to keep fit and healthy as it gives an indication of the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain/lose/gain weight.

The quick calculation is as follows (for women);
BMR= weight in kg x 22

If I do that I get my BMR is  1265, however, this doesn’t take into account your PAL (Physical Activity Level). So Anita Bean also provides a slightly more lengthy calculation that gives a marginally more accurate result, it’s as follows;

BMR= 665 + (9.6 x W) + (1.8 x H) – (4.7 x A)

Where W=weight in kg H=height in cm A=age in years

Once you have calculated your BMR you need to multiply that by your PAL, which you can workout as follows;

PAL                             Description                                           Example

1                                      Inactive                                                    Sleeping/lying down
1.2                                  Sedentary                                                 Mainly sitting/ desk job
1.5                                  Moderately active                                   Some walking
1.7                                  Active                                                        Daily walking/ gentle exercise
2.0                                 Very active                                                Moderate daily training or sport
2.2                                  Extremely active                                     Strenuous daily training or sport

I calculated mine with a PAL of 2.1, I believe I am very active (exercise 6 days a week) but I would describe is between moderate and strenuous, so I went for in between 2.0 and 2.2. My result is 2927 calories. I’m not going to lie, it’s surprising and a lot. The difficulty is in estimating your PAL, it’s not an easy thing to judge at all. I would say to ask yourself and then ask others. Ask people who knows your workout regime/intensity, then compare with yours and go for in between.

All in all, if you want a general idea of roughly how much you should be consuming to lose/maintain/gain weight then this is a good place to start, but take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not accurate and humans are notorious for overestimating their activity level (I could be way off). If you want a more accurate BMR reading then go and speak to your GP and ask about getting an accurate BMR reading.

Take a look at Anita Bean’s books on Amazon. She has loads on sport nutrition for everyone and books on weight training and exercise, she’s written excellent books for the general human being, not just professional athletes.

In terms of carbohydrate consumption you should be looking at roughly 5-7g per kg body weight on low-moderate training days and 7-10g per kg body weight for high intensity days.

For protein if you’re an endurance athlete aim for between 1.2-1.4g per kg body weight per day. If you’re a strength athlete, it’s a bit more, about 1.4-1.7g per kg body weight. Here, you could look at protein shakes.

Again, please let me emphasize, if you get a reading for 3,000 calories, chances are it’s slightly above. But you also shouldn’t then consume 1,200 calories. You’ll know if you’re eating enough depending on how you feel and whether you’re gaining muscle, fat or becoming skeletal.

Take it one day at a time, some won’t be as good as others, but don’t give up, you’ll get there. I, for example, just scoffed a 200g cadbury dairy milk in 3 days flat, but it was delicious.

Gym Bug

Teapigs- Tea to warm your tum

Hi there!

Summer has officially left Madrid. Temperatures are now ranging between 5 to 15 degrees. Which means it is jacket weather! It also means that my tea consumption increases dramatically as a nice way to warm up after being outside for any length of time!
Tea can be great for your health. Green and white, for example, are packed with antioxidants and can help boost your metabolism! Peppermint tea is great for digestion and easing stomach aches. Fruit tea is also a great way of having a warm drink without the caffeine.
I drink so much tea that I will typically buy supermarket own brand Green tea/White tea/Fruit teas/Peppermint tea, but I also enjoy more expensive, better teas on occasion. One of my favourite brands of tea? Teapigs.

Teapigs aren’t even super expensive, but again, I’m a student, and I couldn’t afford to buy numerous boxes a month. But when I enjoy a cup of Teapigs, I really enjoy it. They have a great range too, so you won’t struggle to find one you enjoy!

My favourite is their Green Tea with Mint. It’s a warm, refreshing blend of two of my favourite tea flavours. Their Super Fruit tea is also really delicious and a really nice change to my usual green or peppermint tea. They use real fruit (cranberries and blueberries for this) to make sure the tea packs a punch of genuine flavour.

Other flavours I’ve spied but yet to try is Chocolate Flake (interesting concept), Popcorn (again, intrigued), Tung Ting Oolong (love saying that out loud), Silver Tips White and Mao Feng Green. It seems odd that I’ve had only three of their teas, but I’ve had them numerous occasions. I was not aware of these amazing options when I tried the others (I’ve tried these in coffee shops). They’ve also released Christmas flavours, which I would love to try (Christmas is a mug is the best).

If you check out their website, they’ve got options to order sampling boxes where you try several different teas that you’ve selected. They’ve also got their Christmas Tea collections out and gift sets, if you’ve got any tea lovers you’re buying gifts for I recommend surfing their website, you’ll be sure to find something!
You can also purchase teaware from them; teapots, cups, mugs, infusers and accessories. Everything you could ever need for the perfect cuppa!

Something they also offer is Matcha Tea. I’ve tried this in a coffee shop back home. I was presented with a bright green cup of warm liquid. My sister was repulsed and I was surprised by the intensity of the colour. The flavour is more intense than green tea, mainly because Matcha is 100% natural, organic green tea leaves which have been ground down to a fine powder. Teapigs call theirs a “super power green tea”. I’ve had it in tea form, mixed with hot water, but Teapigs suggest having it in your favourite drink/smoothie/yoghurt/milk!
Matcha is more expensive than green tea, but it’s a lot more concentrated so you need less.

So, get your cuppa perfect with Teapigs!

Gym Bug

Weights in a workout

Hi there!

So, about 1 year ago I went to the gym with my older sister (who will be doing a special post about Cross Fit soon). It was Christmas holidays at the time and I had returned a little bit on the lighter side. I had just started rowing and the competition was intense, and it saw many weekly weigh ins and “weight adjusted times”, essentially my worst nightmare. I watched my weight plummet from a healthy 64kg to 54kg in a shocking space of time. I was in trouble from my family. I wasn’t “underweight” but I wasn’t a healthy weight either. The speed of the weight loss was also a negative factor. I didn’t look good; I had no curves, was a bit drawn, pale, tired, boney, etc. It wasn’t good, I turned it around it though when my sister introduced to me to weight lifting.
Now, initially I thought “But I don’t want to get super muscly”, I can’t even believe I’d thought it, it was a silly thought. My sister promptly put me right as well.
The issue is that I will not be the only one who thought that and people will still think it today. Something everyone should understand is weight lifting will NOT make you look like a body builder unless you force it to. Body builders take things to induce that kind of muscle definition.

Studies have shown that by just introducing 2 weight lifting sessions into your workout can vastly improve metabolic rate. Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat! You can get toned, lean muscles with burns more calories than fat, so you get increased metabolism and a healthier physique.

Now, when I say weight lifting, I don’t necessarily mean pumping iron with the big boys who are huffing and puffing with their giant olympic bars. You can use the controlled weights (which I do). You also don’t need to lift excessively heavy. Here’s one of my weight lifting sessions as an example;
Note; 3 sets 12 x 20kg = 3 sets of 12 repetitions at 20kg)

  • Seated Cable Row (Upper back); 3 sets of 12 x 20kg
  • Leg Press (Thighs, glutes, calves); 3 sets 10 x 100kg
  • Easy Delts Pull Ups (Centre back, biceps, shoulders); 3 sets 12 x 30kg
    (It’s an assisted pull ups machine, you select a ‘supporting’ weight, so I’m supported by 25kg, so I’m pulling 35kg of my own body weight)
  • Calf Rotations (Calves); 3 sets 15 x 40kg
  • Easy Delts Tricep Dips (Triceps, chest); 3 sets 12 x 35kg
    (Here I use the same machine as pull ups but I’m going down, in a tricep dip motion)
  • Lower back (Lower back); 3 sets 15 x 1kg
  • Shoulder press (Shoulders(; 3 sets 15 x 15kg
  • Plank (Core); 3 sets 15 seconds
  • Bicep curls; 3 sets 12 x 20kg
  • Oblique crunch with kettlebell (Obliques); 6 sets 15 x 16kg (3 sets each side)
  • Arm extension (Triceps); 3 sets 12 x 40kg
  • Reverse crunch (Lower abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
  • Chest press (Chest, shoulders, triceps); 3 sets 12 x 20kg
  • Bicycle crunches (Abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
  • Lat Machine (Lats, or the muscle around your ribs, back); 3 sets 10 x 35kg

This kind of workout takes me roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure to stretch after!

Now, I used lift free weights; squatting, deadlifting, bent over rows, cable flys etc but I stopped once I got injured and have found that I save time by using the controlled weights. Time I need to save to fit in studying and things, but body weight or free weights are great ways of developing strong, lean muscles too. A key thing to be aware of with controlled weights however is that you don’t plateau. You’ve got to move out your comfort zone and increase the weights to see a difference and improve toning!

As always though, if you’re unsure about anything ask instructors and trainers. It can be very dangerous if you start lifting without proper technique, even using the controlled weights. If it’s your first time, don’t go for what you think you can lift, go a couple of kilos below that, make sure you’ve nailed the technique, then focus on lifting more. Practice makes perfect.

If you become super serious about weight training and do it often, also make sure you’re packing the protein to maintain muscles and aid recovery. I currently use My Protein Chocolate Smooth Impact Whey. It comes in a fantastic range of flavours and students get 10% if they go through My Student Beans and have an active University account.

So that’s it! Weights are a great way to mix up a workout as well. I alternate between a cardio day and a weights day to keeps things interesting. Tomorrow will be a weights day for example. It breaks up the monotony of cardio, and since doing solid cardio got me in trouble last year it has helped me put on weight. However, I’ll admit I’ve lost too much again, but I’m working on sorting that. Packing my protein and healthy fats!

I’ll make sure to do a post about body weight exercises soo for those who don’t use a gym.

Have a great week everyone!

Gym Bug

P.S Any machines names you didn’t know, check out Technogyms list of products to see photos, my gym (and many, many others) stock their products, so it’s likely you’ll have access to similar machines at your gym.

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