GymBug

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

Archive for the tag “research”

Veggies- Cooked or Raw?

Hi there!

I’m sorry (again) for gaps in posts! i have been studying and enjoying the wonderful weather Spain has been blessed with! However, I suddenly realised that something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is something you might find interesting! There are forever new articles coming out about the raw food diet (exactly as it sounds, raw food). And whilst I do enjoy some food raw I don’t like it all raw and started doing some research into what foods are better cooked and what foods are better raw! I don’t have an exceptionally long list, but they are staples in my meals so might come in handy for you too!

In the cooked corner;

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Aspragus
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage

In the raw corner;

  • Peppers
  • Broccolli
  • Garlic
  • Beetroot
  • Onions

Have it either way;

  • Spinach

This is a list I will continue to update as I find more information about but the idea behind the ‘optimal methods’ for consuming these depends on the nutrients and what best preserves them. For example, according to BBC Good Food, heating up the foods listed above makes it easier for our bodies to enjoy the benefits from some of their protective antioxidants. Essentially, it helps us better absorb nutrients, like lycopene in tomatoes.
On the other hand, some vegetables like those listed in the raw section are better kept raw because heating them up can damage an enzyme which results in the strength of anti-cancer compunds (glucosinolates) being reduced.

So, here’s a list (that’s incomplete) on how to best prepare your veggies! Let me know what you think and if you know of any others!

As always, I’m a GN Academy member and if you need some protein or any brilliant qualiy supplements/snacks/a lot, lot more then check Go Nutrition out! Use my referral code A5CJC for free 250g of protein when you spend £10 or more!

Gym Bug

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Compression gear

Hi there!

This post has been inspired by my most recent purchase! I just bought Sub Sports RX Women’s Graduated Compressio Baselayer Calfguards (try saying that 10 times fast). They are currently reduced from £19 to £12 with free UK delivery, bargain! I read reviews and the general resonse was that they were good quality and great for helping muscle recovery. I shall update you on my own personal experience once I’ve tried them out!

So, why bother spending money on compression gear? I personally suffer from shin splints and started with a pair of calf guards when I got sick of the bike and wanted to run again. I found they really did make a difference. The idea behind comprssion calf sleeves or compression socks is to squeeze your legs and help blood move up. Ths helps prevet inflammation, improves muscle recovery and (to a much smaller extent) reduces blood clots*. Runners World explains that it helps reduce lactic acid build up and increase circulation to the muscles.

Compression socks are no longer the only kind of compression gear you can buy. You can now also get full upper body or lower body compression baselayers, arm compression sleeves and compression shorts. Prices tend to be high for the decent quality gear (such as 2XU, CW-X and so on).

Initially, compression gear can be wildly uncomfortable to put on and take off, but after seeing how much it helped me recover and prevent shin splints, I can’t preach compression gear enough! Take a look around at the options, read reviews and try out different gear for yourself!

Have a great day! Almost Friday, woohoo!

Gym Bug

*www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000597.htm

Working out sore muscles; Yaay or Naay?

Hi there!

I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’ve lifted heavier, pushed harder or returned to training after a break. We wake up the next day and feel like we’ve been hit by a bus. The question some of us may ask is; Can I (or should I) work out? I read an article recently from Greatist that discusses this. The pain is called Exercise Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD) and typically results in the onset of Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness (DOMS). I’ve been there, worst DOMS I experienced was after Tough Mudder, which I completely expected given I ran 11miles and tackled 25 gruelling obstacles. I had to take 2 days off from intense exercise to recover. Greatist also mentions that if your muscles are restricting your movement or limiting your strength then it’s probably best to listen to your body and give it a break.

The reason for taking a break? The muscle pain you feel is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibres and overworking these can make it much worse and lead to greater injury, which would see you out of training for a long time (trust me, I’ve been there).

You can opt for light exercise, such as walking or low-intensity cycling. Just make sure it’s low-impact. You can also work different muscle groups, focusing on those that don’t hurt, this is good also for ensuring you have a varied routine to ensure all muscle groups are worked.

Other methods Greatist mentioned to alleviate muscle soreness is ice baths, a massage and good old-fashioned stretching! Personally, I usually go for stretching and foam-rolling to help my achey muscles. I also use a massage bar from Lush which works wonders!

A key thing to mention and trust me, it’s solid advice you must adhere to; do not exercise if the pain is intense, on-going or highly restrictive. You should seek a doctor or a physiotherapists advice if you experience intense pain during, before or after a workout. I found myself with a grade 2 groin strain in January 2014 and was unable to do cardio for 8 weeks and once I could do cardio, it was light cycling for a few weeks before I could build it up. I also had to endure sports ‘massages’ from a physio (unpleasant to say the least). That extra workout when you’re sore is not worth it. Listen to your body. Plus, a sneaky extra rest day is always enjoyable (and good for the mind and motivation).

http://amandastonebarger.com/2014/05/04/mile-806-why-you-shouldnt-feel-guilty-about-rest-days/

Gym Bug

Image source; http://amandastonebarger.com/2014/05/04/mile-806-why-you-shouldnt-feel-guilty-about-rest-days/

Why is child obesity so high?

Hi there!

I’m exhausted today since I was exploring a new city yesterday! Salamanca is gorgeous by the way if anyone is looking for somewhere to visit. Maybe not yet, it’s freezing. I think I’ve had a better workout shivering than an hour at the gym! But today I read a disturbing news article. It was from the Daily Mail so I looked around for better, more reliable sources to confirm the claims. Unfortunately, I didn’t struggle. Child obesity now affects 1 in 3 of Britain’s children. Whilst these levels appear to be ‘leveling off’ un under 10’s according to the BBC , it is still a shockingly high number. Obesity brings all sort of health risks including diabetes, heart disease, increased risks of cancer, high blood and more.

It’s not just children either, UK obesity rates in the UK have almost trebled (see the ‘more’ link above). This is shocking, especially with such focus now on leading healthier lifestyles! What can we do? Unfortunately, we can’t change a nation. But you can make small changes to yours and your families life to start leading a healthier lifestyle and (if required) lose weight! It requires hard work and focus but once you’ve made these little changes and turned them into habits, you’ll notice a huge difference. There’s so many little things you can do!

  • Walk to work if you’re close enough.
  • Get off/on at an earlier bus stop if you can.
  • Walk if these trip is 20 minutes or less.
  • Don’t bring temptation into the house (buy one chocolate bar if you’re craving it, not a multipack, for example).
  • Never grocery shop hungry.
  • Fit in at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day (a walk, for example).
  • Have a salad or soup at lunch.
  • Swap the crisps for an apple.
  • Eat porridge for breakfast to fuel you up until lunch.

Little steps like this can make a huge difference. Obesity does not need to be such a problem. We can change and we can help others change too. If you’ve got a group of friends who always complain about feeling overweight or uncomfortable then start a group and challenge yourselves! Doing things with a friend typically helps motivation because you feel a sense of commitment and don’t want to give up before the other (a little friendly competition never hurt anyone). Make some healthier choices to change your life!

What are your thoughts on obesity?

Gym Bug

Foodie Challenge #1

Hi there!

So I decided to try a new recipe as part of my Foodie Challenge. I made an attempt at Runner’s World Endurance Boosting Pisto from their amazing book The Complete Guide To Nutrition. It’s filled with advice, research, knowledge and delicious looking recipes that are healthy and help you perform at your best! They have a whole array of books available to look at here. Now for the recipe.

This serves 2 people and takes approximately 30 minutes start to finish.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded, diced
  • 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chillies
  • 300g aubergine, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 200g courgette, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 400g skinned, chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned)
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • Pinch of hot pimenton (paprika)
  • Sea salt and frehly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the onions and peppers and cover.
  2. Cook them gently for 7 minutes or until golden.
  3. Stir in the garlic, cumin and chillies and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the aubergine and cover and cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Stir in the courgette, season and cook for 4 mins.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, 150ml water and seasoning, simmer for 7 minutes (you want the veg to be tender and the sauce thick).
  7. Break the eggs on top and sprinkle with pimenton (paprika), cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer gently until the eggs are cooked.

Here is what I ended up with! Not quite like the recipe photo, but it tasted really good despite appearances!

la foto (1)

I had some variations, mainly portions, this does serve two but this was my dinner so I used 2 medium eggs instead and was unable to weight the vegetables so I just went for what I fancied. This is delicious and I really enjoyed it!

So there’s Foodie Challenge #1 complete! Stay tuned to see what I attempt next!

Gym Bug

Stretches to get you through your day

Hi there!

I’ve already done a post on the importance of stretching but this is about some stretches to do whilst at work, studying, sitting at desk etc to help prevent aches and pains associated with sitting down (which is becoming an increasingly covered health risk). I like doing these as mini-revision breaks to clear my mind a bit and help stretch out muscles that have lay idle for too long. I’ve decided it’s best to give you the links to th stretches I use, since it’s easier to be shown how to perform the stretch through photos than it is to explain!

I also do basic likes bending over with straight legs and back, doing arm circles, reaching for the ceiling without lifting my feet from the ground and giving myself a big hug to stretch off my back.

Not only will these help stretch out any aches and pains from repetitive desk work sitting but it will also get your body moving a bit. As I’ve said, sitting is getting an increasingly bad reputation. It is becoming associated with poorer mental health, increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of becoming disabled and more. It’s also linked with obesity, high blood pressure and stress.
Other issues associated with sitting relate to increased risk of blood clots, increased pressure on the spine, poor circulation and fluid collecting in your legs.

This doesn’t mean you must invest in a standing desk or refuse to sit when you eat or watch TV. Instead, try move more, make it a habit to get up once and hour and pace around the room, stretch, just stand. Try reduce the amount your sitting down and you’ll hopefully feel more energised and focused. It’s also a nice break from the computer or TV!

Have a great weekend!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20140407/sitting-disease-faq

Slow or Fast; who wins this weights race?

Hi there!

Another weight training session today and I tried a slightly different technique based on some research I’d done. I got curious as to whether it was best to do fast repetitions or slow ones, so I researched it and tried out a slower routine today than normal.

Women’s Health Mag has discussed that both can have great benefits for the body. The key is the point in your training you’re at. If you’re a beginner, going fast will likely lead to injury. Going slow is also great if you’re looking to build strength. What you want to do is really focus on slowing down on the “release” stage of the lift. For example, doing a bicep curl, really focus on slowing the rate on the way down rather than on the way up.  By going too fast, too soon you risk injury to muscles and joints, especially if your technique isn’t quite on form. However, when performing the repetitions it’s best that you slow it down on the ‘release’ phase. I tried it today and I could definitely feel more of a burn, particularly with my abs. By doing the repetitions slower (for example, with a bicycle crunch) I could really feel my abs working hard.

Men’s Fitness also discuss this and state that lifting slow will see you develop more muscle mass. Again, it’s all about going slow on the ‘release’ phase of the repetition, this way you’re really working the muscles hard and developing more strength. Don’t worry ladies though, going slow won’t mean walking out the gym one day a bodybuilder, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it takes more than just lifting to get those types of muscles. Females lack testosterone, which is what’s needed to give you those bulging muscles. Always remember female bodybuilders or very muscular females are probably taking supplements to enable that type of muscle growth!

But does that mean fast isn’t beneficial? Not at all, however, it’s only wise to use faster repetitions when you’ve got the overall technique nailed down. This will help prevent injury. It’s also pertinent you’ve got muscle strength to maintain a safe technique whilst going through the more intense workout. By going faster you improve power and burn more calories but you need to be physically capable of maintaining a proper technique when more fatigued. By forcing the weight to move faster you’re using more energy, so you will notice you’re more tired, sweaty and out of breath by following this technique.  Be careful though!  Jerky, poor controlled movements will cause injury. You must remain in control of the weights to reap the rewards!

Here are a couple of exercises you can do both fast and slow;

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Bicep Curls
  • Squats (maybe not too fast if you’re using a bar)
  • Push Ups
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Tricep Dips

I’m going to do a session of 10 slow repetitions of different exercises, then next session try 15 repetitions in the same time frame for the same exercises. This way I’ll get to experience both! Hopefully it’s a new way to mix up my workouts. You should give it a try too!

Almost Friday. Keep going!

Gym Bug

The importance of a well-earned rest

Hi there!

Sunday is my scheduled rest day and I thought it was an opportune time to do a post about why these rest days are so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I take one rest day a week (on average) but recommended exercise is between 3-6, so you can take more depending on your schedule, goals and other variables.

The type of recovery I’m discussing here is long-term recovery. Which refers to the scheduled planning of rest days throughout the exercise schedule. This will be the focus of the post.
Short-term recovery refers to the recovery immediately after your work-out and includes active recovery. Active recovery is doing low-intensity exercise to help the body recover immediately after intense exercise and also the days after.

So what makes them so important?

Professional athletes take rest days too. They appreciate the importance in allowing the body (and the mind) to recover, repair and strengthen. For those who do not complete on a professional level, it’ also a great way to maintain  a better balance amongst leisure, work and family life.
Recovery and rest is when the real training happens. Your body is able to adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues (for example, the breakdown of muscle).

Not allowing for adequate recovery opens a very wide door for injury, fatigue and illness. Lack of recovery leads to overtraining. Continuous training can actually hinder your performance. Overtraining results in depression, lack of energy, feeling drained, muscle and/or joint pain, insomnia, headaches, decreased immunity, injury, loss of appetite amongst other things. Overall, rest days are critical if you want avoid overtraining. By going too hard, you risk taking yourself completely out of exercise for an extended period of time, which is exactly what you don’t want.
I can give a personal example of this when I engaged in solid rowing training for 7 days a week for weeks on end. By the time January rang around I was struggling to walk without considerable pain in my right leg. Two doctors appointments and a physio visit later, I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Groin Strain. 8 physio sessions and weeks off of cardio had me feeling annoyed, frustrated and disappointed. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

Rest days are also good for you mentally. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to get to the gym every single day. Whilst I love the post-exercise feeling I do value being able to lie-in and relax a bit more on my rest days. It keeps the gy from being repetitive, monotonous and downright dull.

How should I incorporate it into my schedule?

There are different methods for incorporating rest days. You can do what I do and select a specific day to have off, changing it as required by your commitments. You can also just pick and choose week by week depending on your mood (I’d be wary of this, as you may end up taking more than planned).

Men’s Fitness have a great article about rest days and recovery for weight training. Whilst this is a male fitness magazine I think the principles are applicable to both genders in their weight training schedule. To sum the article up, they suggest having “deload weeks” every 4-6 weeks, where you reduce the intensity to allow the body to recover. They also recommend incorporating stretching, core exercises and bodyweight movements into these weeks.
They also suggest taking 1-2 weeks a year for “rest weeks”. Here they emphasise a focus on doing things you enjoy, not exercise. Go walking, hiking, leisurely cycle, socialise, etc. These are really for after very intense sessions such as a marathon. However, I think it’s a great addition to any workout calendar. You get to escape the gym!

Women’s Health Magazine (keeping the balance) also recommend rest days. They state that strength does not come from training, it comes from the body rebuilding itself after the training. Their recommendations for rest and recovery include 1-2 rest days a week, alternating between intensities (e.g HIIT one day a week, endurance another), nourish your muscles (sleep right, eat right, stretch).

Again, rest days are needed, being a “gym rat” will not see you lose weight faster. It’s possible you may even retain more weight. Exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol which encourages fat storage. If you put your body under intense stress 7 days a week, you’re increasing the levels of cortisol in the body, encouraging your body to hold onto precious fat as a survival instinct.

Active recovery is a good way to allowing your body to recover too. On your rest day you could go for a walk as a way to get out the house, get some fresh air etc. You can also engage in low-intensity classes such as pilates and yoga. This way you are allowing recovery without any need to feel guilty. However, having a rest day is  NECESSITY so guilt shouldn’t really come into it (but I get that it can). Personally, especially when I’m home, I do some form of active recovery because I own a dog, so I walk him.

So, evidence has proven you do not need to confine yourself to a gym 7 days a week! Rejoice!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and preparing to crack open their advent calendars tomorrow!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/

 

 

 

Stretching your way to fitness

Hi there!

Today’s post is going to focus on stretching and the importance of it. I used to never stretch and the severity of this wsa revealed to me when I got injured with a grade 2 groin strain in January. It saw me out of rowing for the semester and out of cardio for weeks. It was painful and incredibly frustrating. Since then, I’ve ensured I fit in a stretching session after every single workout. I’ve noticed it’s helped my recovery and it feels good being able to touch the ground without feeling like something is going to snap.

Again, this information has been collected from research I’ve done and things I’ve stumbled across on Pinterest, Twitter etc.

  • Stretching helps your range of motion. It reduces muscle tenion and tightness, two things which reduce muscle function.
  • It can improve posture. Tight muscles will pull your body out of shape. For example, tight chest mucles pull out shoulders and head forward which gives us a hunched look. By stretching your muscles your releasing the tension and allowing your body to move more freely and allows you to have better posture.
  • It can help your calm down. Stretching is good for relaxation and the release of tension can be both physical and mental when stretching. When stretching practice deep breathing and clearing the mind. It’s amazing how relaxing it can be.

Something that surprised me was the complex lack of consensus regarding stretching and injury prevention. Some sources say it doesn’t do a thing to prevent injury, for example, Jillian Michaels whilst other argue differently, such as the article in Lifehacker. I believe it has benefits of reducing muscle tension, which allows increased range of motion which may prevent you overstretching it doing simple tasks. So I think it can indirectly help.

When stretching it’s important to hold it for a good 20 seconds, otherwise you won’t see benefits particularly quickly. Also focusing on the areas you worked most during that particular workout to ensure they get the best stretches.

The Mayo Clinic has a great slide show on stretching safely and gives advice on basic stretches to start incorporating into your workout. I discovered some really useful ones by attending some pilates classes also.

Have a happy Saturday everyone! Last weekend in November, almost time to get pumped for Christmas!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2206

http://lifehacker.com/5983731/why-stretching-is-just-as-important-as-exercise

 

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

 

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