Friday, 7 June 2013

Why women SHOULD lift weights.

Exercise and fitness is an extremely important part of life which is often overlooked. Keeping active through structured physical activity is essential, to keep the body lean, youthful and in good health.

There tends to be a grey area that is not fully understood by most in the matter of ‘what is the best type of exercise for women’. This is apparent in both frequency and type. This seems to be fueled by the lack of education and understanding in this area from the general public. This is also backed up by the huge amount of contradicting information being force-fed to us in the form of gimmick type advertising.
There is no ‘best type of training’ for women as it is dependent on the type of results desired to be achieved. However to maintain a fit and healthy body with good muscle tone and a good ratio of body fat, a good combination of exercise type must be performed.
The majority of women have little problem getting out and doing their quota of cardiovascular training, whether that be through running, cycling or walking. This is a good start, but by itself will not get the desired results. The big problem seems to be in the area of ‘resistance training’!
There seem to be many misconceptions concerning the topic of resistance training or weight lifting amongst women that need to be cleared up.
1. Resistance training is only for men.
2. Lifting weights will give me big masculine muscles.
3. There is no need to do resistance training as cardio is the best way to burn fat.
4. Lifting weights will make me put on weight.
5. There are no health benefits from resistance training.

These misconceptions are preventing some women from the health and body they desire.
Resistance training is as important for women as it is for men. Both men and women get the same benefits from this type of training and building lean muscle mass.
Resistance training puts stress on the muscles (in a good way) causing the muscle fibers to damage. These fibers then adapt by repairing stronger with more density. This causes the increase in strength and shape of the muscle.

Testosterone is the key component for gaining size and substantial growth of the muscle. Women have a much lower level of testosterone; therefore weights training cause the muscle to become denser with shape but little gain in size. Women that have this concern needn’t worry as it takes a huge amount of time training with muscle gaining type weights (8 – 10 reps) on top of a special diet to obtain huge muscles.

Weights’ training is a great way to drop body fat and one of the only ways to keep it off long term. Muscles use energy to function, energy to move and energy to just be there.
A solid resistance workout keeps consuming energy as the muscle repairs. That means that you can be burning fat for 24 – 48 hours after the workout. Muscles burn fat as butter on a griddle!!

The idea of ‘speeding up your metabolism’ is when you can encourage your body to use more energy at rest, (idle at higher revs). The only TRUE way to shift this rate in your body is to increase the amount of lean muscle mass on your body. For example; adding about 2.5kg of muscle will mean that your body will need consume roughly 200 kj more each day. By increasing the amount of lean mass, you will burn away those extra calories in your sleep, in the car, on the couch and keep them off long term.

Resistance training is also the main player when it comes to body shape and posture. Weights’ training is the key to maintain good shape of the body. A strong core and back will help dramatically to keep a good posture. The shape and curves of the body are made up primarily of muscle. These can be manipulated by increasing muscle and muscle tone. An example is adding tone to the legs to add definition or increasing the shoulder muscles (deltoids) to create more of a waist.

If your body is a ‘pear shape’, all the walking in world won’t change this. You will be left with a smaller pear. The only way to change the body shape is with resistance training.
Resistance or weights’ training becomes even more important part of women’s health after the age of fifty. Once the body hits fifty years the body's cells are not replaced as frequently and degeneration takes the main stage.

Without regular maintenance the muscle will start to degenerate (pertrophy). This decrease in lean muscle mass will cause several problems. Posture will become much less rigid which may lead to other problems such as less strength or back pain. Reduced muscle will leave the body much more susceptible to injury.

The most important reason women 50+ need to do resistance training is to help reduce or prevent osteoporosis. As women get older they begin to loose valuable bone density. This is why women start to shrink. Resistance training can have a huge positive impact against this.

Weights’ training puts your bones under stress. This causes the bones to respond by increasing their density. Increasing bone density will lessen the chance of injury and may increase quality of life in the later years.

In my opinion, resistance training such as Weights training and Pilates is a vital type of exercise that must be taken seriously and must not be over looked!
Women need in incorporate between 1 – 3 hours of resistance training into their weekly exercise regime along side cardiovascular exercise and general activity. It is a good idea to space resistance training days over the week or alternate between upper and lower body to allow muscles to recover properly.

Weights training can be a little daunting when first starting out. A good place to start is with ‘body weight exercises’. These are simple exercises that use your own body weight as resistance. The best part is that they can be performed anywhere with no equipment.

Maintaining good form and correct technique is extremely important with this type of training. Using the services of an exercise professional like a Personal Trainer is a really good idea. This is 100% necessary if you have health or musculoskeletal problems. This should ensure good results and will also teach you correct technique that is essential for safety of your body.

In conclusion, resistance training is a valuable type of exercise that should be utilized by all women of all ages and of all fitness levels.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

13 Healthy Tips for eating to lose weight

Over my years of training people and helping them to lose countless kilos of excess body fat, I have come to the conclusion that most strict diets do not work long-term.

For a diet plan to be maintained over a long period it must be simple, realistic, manageable and flexible. No-one wants to be counting calories, weighing out portions, avoiding all fats or eating like a rabbit every day for the rest of their lives. This is why most people slip back into their old eating habits within 12 weeks of beginning a diet.

Instead, think about introducing longterm changes that will benefit your health and keep that extra body fat off for good.

Here are a few basic diet guidelines that will help shed extra body fat, keep it off and improve your overall health.

1. Eat protein with most meals and snacks. Add protein to lower the GI of foods, e.g. add nuts and seeds to cereal or add cottage cheese to just about anything.

2. Replace grains with greens. Try using lettuce or red cabbage as the bread of sandwiches and burgers. Substitute crackers with slices of cucumbers with your favorite toppings. Place poached eggs on spinach instead of toast.

3. Drink plenty of water. Water can and does affect weight loss. Drinking plenty of water is essential to ensure good kidney function. Without enough water the kidneys dump part of their workload on the liver. The liver is the body’s main fat-processing plant; if it is doing some of the kidney’s work it will metabolise less fat and weight loss will stall.

Water is also needed to flush out the toxic waste released from fat stores.
Use fruits to enjoy more drinking water. Always carry water on your person.

4. Plan ahead with food and snacks. This is the best defence against making poor food choices. Plan ahead for the week’s meals and take good quality snacks with you from home like raw nuts and seeds, boiled eggs, fruit or carrot sticks with hummus.

5. Do 90% of your shopping in the outside isles of the supermarket. Supermarkets are set out so most of the natural and whole foods are around the outside and the processed foods are in the middle isles. Do most of your shopping around the outside as processed foods should be avoided. It is also a good idea to try to eat in technicolor, by which I mean eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables in order to get a wide range of nutrients.


6. Eat most of your food earlier in the day. Eat the majority of your food in the morning and early afternoon. Food is our fuel; therefore it makes sense to have it before we do activity. Eating a huge meal in the evening is a waste of energy as most people simply relax or watch television, then go to bed. Consider eating less in the evening and adding it throughout the morning.

7. Be good 90% of the time. Eat natural whole foods 90% of the time. Allow the other 10% for meals out or having pizza or other processed foods. If you allow the 10% indulgence you will not feel trapped in a healthy food plan and are much more likely to continue eating well in the long term.

8. Don’t go hungry! Consider 4-6 smaller meals. A good option is to eat 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day. This may seem like a real inconvenience but it is worth it, and with a little planning becomes easy.

Over the years the human race has gone through cycles of famine and plenty. Because of this the body has a storage system similar to water retention. If you miss a meal or go for a prolonged period without eating the body moves swiftly into ‘survival storage mode’. This means that the next thing you eat will be stored as fat for later use and is due to the huge amount of insulin released. Eating at regular intervals will keep this survival mechanism in check.

9. Good fats are friends. Good fats are found in natural substances such as fish (Omega-3) especially salmon and sardines. These good fats are found in most varieties of nuts and seeds (almonds, flax seeds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds etc) plus avocado and olive oil. These fats are essential for our good health and actually help you lose weight but remember they are also very high in calories so eat in moderation.

10. Eliminate starch totally from 3-4 dinners per week. This means no pasta, rice, breads or potatoes. Consuming the high amount of sugars in these foods at night is a bad move. At night we generally do very little activity, which means those carbohydrates will have to be stored as body fat.

11. Cut down on starchy and high GI food. A good way to do this is to avoid anything made from flour like muffins, baked goods and bread. Go for lower GI options such as brown rice instead of white and buy bread that is dense, with soy and linseed. Replace crackers with cucumber and avoid sweet drinks, especially energy drinks. Remember that it is important to keep your blood sugar levels constant and stable.

Brown Rice Sushi

12. Do not eat anything sweet after dinner. When high sugar foods are eaten close to bed-time, insulin levels shoot up and you will gain fat during sleep. Also, do not eat anything three hours before going to bed.

13. Eat plenty of fibre. Fibre is essential in weight loss through its cleansing effects and bowel function properties. Good sources of fibre are found in fruit (kiwifruit), green salad and vegetables, All Bran cereal, and of course fibre supplements like psyllium husk (you can add psyllium husk to a lot of recipes). A great idea is to have a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning to get the bowels moving.

Gluten Free Polenta Bread with Psyllium Husks and Yoghurt
Gluten-free flour/Psyllium Husks tortillas
Eating to lose weight and be healthy does not have to rule your life. If you make these easy changes you will see great improvements in your health and your waistline. Eat natural and whole unprocessed foods most of the time, exercise most days and you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Remember that true outer beauty is a reflection of inner health.