Five bad food habits you need to stop!

Another fantastic article on Runner’s World that I thought was worth sharing with you. These are 5 bad dietary habits that are easy to do and very common. It’s important that you stop them ASAP if you want to keep your performance and energy high!

  1. That daily Starbucks: Or coffee in general. It’s always easier to start your day with a huge coffee and plenty of sugar, but you will pay for it later when your energy levels drop big-time. Shocking stats: Research shows that the most popular ‘blended coffee drinks’ in the biggest coffee chains contain on on average 239kcal – that’s a good 20 minutes on the rowing machine! AND, drinking one a day will set you on the path to gain one and a half stone within a year! Try and drink green tea, it’s full of anti-oxidants that counteracts damaging effects of the free radicals released when you exercise.
  2. Skipping breakfast so you can have a lie-in:Everyone does it! However, your liver uses loads of energy stored from the previous day to keep you going in your sleep, so by the morning there’s nothing left. It’s important to eat a decent breakfast to keep you going through the day, such as porridge or eggs on toast.
  3. Improperly fuelling your daytime runs: It’s important that you fuel your body after you have been running. You need to eat a decent amount of carbs within 30 minutes of completing your exercise in order to restore your glycogen levels and stop your blood sugar from getting too low. If you add in some protein too, it boosts protein synthesis. A ham sandwich or beans on toast would be ideal.
  4. Bingeing on biscuits: Everyone loves a sugar high! However, it’s followed by a low and a large drop in energy levels. If you swap the biscuits for a more nutritious snack like nuts or yoghurt, you will keep your insulin and sugar levels stable. There’s also less risk of them being stored as fat.
  5. Getting on the beers: Beer, wine and spirits all hinder your rehydration. By having one-too-many at the pub after exercising, you will end up with a worse hangover and your performance will suffer the next day. Try to have a glass of water in between each drink to keep you hydrated and prevent the dreaded hangover!

So there you have it: 5 dietary bad habits that can stop you from feeling your best when you’re exercising regularly.

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Ten most common weight loss mistakes:

I found this excellent article on Runner’s World and thought I’d share it with you, in a bit more of a condensed form. Runner’s World is an excellent site – it’s not just about running, there’s loads of weight loss tips and recipes on there too. So here are the ten most common mistakes that people make when they are wanting to lose weight. I must admit I used to do a few of them!

  • The fat-burn zone:  Running slowly to stay in the ‘fat-burning zone’.

The body might use up more fat when you are jogging rather than running hard, but the amount of calories you burn during your workout will be lower. Your metabolism increases after your run for 24-48 hours, depending on how intense your run was. Even if you aren’t burning as much fat at the time, you will burn more in the long run by working harder.

  • Weight watching: Going on the scales every day.

You need to look for long term trends rather than fluctuations. Your weight can change from day-to-day due to water retention etc. Weigh yourself once a week at the same time of day. Remember: muscle weighs more than fat, so you may be getting slimmer without losing weight.

  • Popping pills: Taking appetite suppressants or pills to increase metabolism.

Research has failed to provide any conclusive evidence that these pills actually work. Also, if you read the packet it says that they work in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. So what’s the point?!

  • The after burn: Not eating after your run in the hope that you will burn more fat with the metabolism increase.

Research shows that if you eat a combo of protein and carbs after you run, you recover better and increase your performance next time. You’ll end up being leaner in the long term.

  • Running for treats: Rewarding yourself with unhealthy food after your run.

You won’t make any changes to your body if you run for half an hour then have a massive chocolate bar. Remember it’s a lot easier to consume calories than burn them! Just think of what all that hard work is for. Is it really worth it for a measly bag of crisps?

  • Running on empty: Going on a run first thing in the morning without breakfast.

You can eat as much as you want the night before, but it will all be used up by the next morning from keeping you alive in your sleep. Your energy stores are low, so your body will go into starvation mode and you won’t get the metabolism increase. AND your performance will be affected. Eat breakfast! I normally have porridge, but something like beans on toast has loads of slow-release energy to keep you going.

  • Cutting calories: Eating a super low calorie diet in the belief that your body will have to use up its excess fat.

The body will go into starvation mode. It reacts to the situation by clinging to all the fat in stead of burning it for energy. Your body will burn more when it is fuelled properly.

  • Energy drinks: Using energy drinks to fuel short runs.

You shouldn’t have to drink these if you are eating sufficiently before your runs. The energy stored in your muscles from this should keep you going for up to two hours of exercise. You only need these energy boost products if you are planning on running for longer than this.

  • Reducing fat intake: You want to lose fat from your body, so you lose it from your plate.

You don’t want to restrict essential fats from your diet as well. It’s fine to restrict saturated fats, but you still need to eat monosaturates which you get from things such as oil and nuts. These help your body to recover after runs and maintain performance.

  • Working at 110%: Training super hard and fast.

You need to make sure that your body gets the occasional rest day to help muscles repair. By overtraining you are not only putting your muscles at risk, but you can create hormone imbalances. I usually have 3 days on and 1 day off so that my body gets a break.

So there you have it, my condensed version of the 10 most common weight loss mistakes. As I have said before, the most important thing to stick to is a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. It’s really that simple.

3lb Off. Gym On!

I got on the scales this morning and I’ve lost 3lb this week! So happy with myself, and I hadn’t done any exercise either.

Today I got my gym membership sorted. As I said yesterday, I was aprehensive about the whole thing. I arrived in my gym attire and looked through the door to see lots of people on treadmills and weight machines, the sound of the feet on the treadmill was not appealing. However this nice guy showed me around and told me how to use everything which boosted my confidence a lot. It was all really good, except there was this one really scary room on the top floor full of massive weights, with lots of hench looking guys staring at me as we walked in. Fortunately, I don’t think that I’ll ever be going up there.

After my induction I was on my own! I started off on the rowing machine, after 20 minutes on that I had burnt 200 calories. Excellent. Then I moved onto the cross trainer. I didn’t like that so much. It wasn’t one with the arm bits to, so it was a lot of work on my legs. I managed an unenjoyable 20 minutes on that too. Then I went downstairs to the treadmill – it was the moment of truth to see if my shins could handle it. After 20 minutes on that, I came to the conclusion that they are well on their way to being back to normal! Very happy and I burnt another 200 calories on that. All in all, I think I burnt about 600 calories in 60 minutes, which I am very happy with!

I can officially say that I love the gym! Hopefully the weight will start flying off! I’ve got 11lb to go before I’ve lost my first stone. I’ll be going back to do the same tomorrow in my break between lectures.

 

Shin Splints: Runner’s Hell.

Never did I think that I’d be miserable when I wasn’t out running, but that magical feeling has come and I am actually enjoying exercise. Every day I get the craving to go outside and breathe in the cold Southsea air and actually do some good for my body. But no. Just when I started running 5K 5 times a week, I get shin splints. And they are hell.

It’s been 6 weeks since I last went for a run (excluding any painful walk/jogs) and I think I’m going a bit stir crazy. I’m the sort of person who likes to go out and do things with my time and be active, yet I’ve been wasting my days away watching Gossip Girl and becoming overweight. I’m starting to get restless.

Basically, shin splints are pain that you get in your lower legs from the impact on the ground when running and doing other sports. This article on Runner’s World explains it really well if you think you might have it. They result from inflexible and worn-out calf muscles putting strain on your tendons, causing them to tear. If you provoke the problem even more, it can lead to tiny stress fractures in your shins. Sometimes, if the pain isn’t too bad, it’s possible to ignore it and run through it. However, it’s important to know that if it is persistent and growing pain, do not try and run through it. That’s what I did, and now I can’t even climb up and down stairs without pain, let alone go running.

After thinking that I could run through the pain, I am now having endless trips to the doctors to get drugged up on painkillers, and I am having to have physiotherapy and possibly some scans to see if I have fractures. Not fun.

My advice would be to run on as much grass and softer surfaces as possible, and avoid concrete. (Hard I know, especially when you live in a city like me). If you are suffering, ice your legs for 15 minutes a couple of times a day, and take regular anti-inflammatorys such as Ibuprofen. Shin splints are most common in beginners and people that have just started running again as they try to increase their distance and speed too quickly. Even if you feel fit enough to run further and faster, it’s important to build up your distance slowly, maybe add an extra half-mile each week. It sounds like a waste of time, but trust me, it’s not. You don’t want to be out of running for as long as I am!

Time for a lifestyle change.

After getting on the scales to complete my registration at the doctors this morning, I realised that I need to make a serious lifestyle change. Not only do I now weigh the most I ever have, but I weigh more than my mother, who is 43 and 5ft 8. (No offence Mum)

It’s time to banish the boredom eating, late-night binges and drunken takeaways, and actually get a grip. Starting today, I’m going to make a lifestyle change and lose 2 stone.

Slimming World is one of the best diets I have done. You don’t get results as quickly as you do when going on one of those fad diets, like ‘get a bikini body in 2 weeks’ or ‘drop a dress size by friday’, but it works. Not only do you lose the weight, but you keep it off, and your appetite and eating habits do change. Slimming World is about food optimising, not cutting out significant chunks of your diet. None of this ‘no-carb’ crap, where you end up getting headaches and feeling awful, and then proceed to put double the weight back on after you finish the diet. You can also afford to have a sneaky chocolate bar every now and again…

Another thing I have found when dieting, is that reading magazines does not help. Every month there seems to be a new diet that can see you go from an average size 14 to Kim Kardashian in a week. Let’s face it – it’s not going to happen. It’s just another title on the front cover to get you to buy their magazine. Take this example, the Juice Master 7lbs in 7 Days diet. If you do this diet, you might lose 7lbs in 7 days, but you are going to have a week of feeling shit. When you do start eating in the week after, your body is going to cling on to every single carbohydrate and gram of fat that you have been depriving it of for the past week. The results may come quickly, but they are never going to last in the long-term. It will just end up being a miserable week and a total waste of time.

I am well aware that several of you out there are thinking, ‘Why don’t you just get off of your fat ass and do some exercise?’.  I couldn’t agree more. A combination of diet and exercise not only helps you to shed weight quicker than any diet can do alone, but it also make you feel better inside, and ultimately more energized. The thought of rolling out of your warm bed to put on some trainers and head out in gale-force winds is far from appealing, I am well aware of that, but once you get the ball rolling it is really easy to keep it up. I was running 5 days a week, until shinsplints ruined my life and exercise plans for the short-term future.

If you want to lose weight, my advice is to ignore anything magazines tell you, and just get a grip. A combination of healthy eating and exercise is by far the best thing you can do for your body, it just takes patience and perseverance.