Has Your Healthy Habit Turned Into An Unhealthy Obsession?

Is your diet and exercise routine really healthy?

Whilst reading this you might be in the midst of: carb cycling, quitting sugar, no carbs, clean eating, HIIT training, Cross-Fit, Bodypump or one of the many other promised routes to a better body.

Congratulations you are motivated and committed to a healthy lifestyle.  You have created good habits, ensuring you stick to your routines which in turn leads to you reaching your goals.

What happens though if those habits are not so good after all and have quietly turned into unhealthy obsessions.  Your healthy habits have started to intrude more and more into your day and are actually now starting to interfere with how you live your life.  Your habits are now mentally, emotionally or physically holding you prisoner and you can't go a day without your habit being part of it.  You now have an obsession.

Hobby/Habit/Obsession - Surely they are all the same thing?

Well yes you could say they are, but to varying degrees, it's very easy to disguise an unhealthy obsession as a healthy habit.  The difference lies in if we feel anxious or maybe even angry if we fail to make the habit part of our day.

Hobby: something we do for pleasure in our spare time which is not detrimental to our wellbeing.

Habit: something we do on a regular basis with very little conscious thought, like brushing your teeth or locking the front door.  Good or bad habits are made through repetition of a task, they take a while to form and can take equally as long to break.

Obsession: A pressure to carry out a habit that might not necessarily be good for us, but with no way to stop yourself from carrying on, often leading to anger or anxiety if the habit cannot be acted upon.

So has your healthy habit turned into an unhealthy obsession, it can be hard to recognise when it's cloaked in being good for you. The difference between the two is how easy it is to stop or skip the habit.  Some of the signs that could indicate your healthy habit is getting out of control:

You constantly cancel social time with friends just to fit in gym sessions.

You get stressed if you can't fit in a certain amount of weekly workouts.

You have to burn a certain number of calories before you leave the gym.

You take your trainers on every holiday and you use them.

You become agitated if you can't see the healthy option on the menu.

Constantly weighing yourself.

The number on the scales can ruin your day.

You started eating a clean diet, but now have limited yourself so much that you have to eat the same things day after day.

This list is by no means exhaustive and is actually based on some of my past personal obsessions.  I have stepped over the line myself and know how out of hand what seems like a healthy habit can become.

My Habits/Obsessions

My unhealthy obsession with food and exercise began at a young age with a throwaway comment that led to me thinking I needed to lose some weight.  It all started well and I liked the results that it was having on my body, I'm not even sure when it became an obsession.  I began to worry more and more that I would put on weight, to avoid this I severely restricted my food intake.

I was at a dangerously low weight, it was a very worrying time for my parents who tried everything to convince me to eat.  I would become angry and defensive every time food was mentioned.  Luckily in my late teens life suddenly became more interesting than my unhealthy obsession and I began to develop a normal eating pattern.

You would think I had learned my lesson, but no unfortunately I hadn't.  I then discovered the gym, it quickly became my new obsession, to the extent I was working out seven days a week and sometimes twice a day, with no rest.  This was exhausting and took over my life to such an extent that I started to become ill physically and mentally.

The toll it took on my body was immense, rather than creating a healthy toned body I now had a body that was letting me down.  Ultimatley something that was supposed to be doing me good was having the opposite effect.

This vicious circle stopped when I met my husband, I didn't have the time or inclination to carry on with my obsession. I honestly can't tell you if my obsessions were a coping mechanism, linked to my turbulent teenage years or if it's just the way I am made.

If you have realised that maybe you are in the grips of an obsession there is no easy answer to break the cycle.  I did manage it on my own, for others it takes the help of professionals.  I now look back with regret at the hours wasted in the gym trying to maintain a rididculous exercise regime.

Some of the things I wish I had known

There is so much misinformation surrounding diets and exercise that it's no wonder people get sucked into the latest fad, especially if it offers a quick fix.

Sadly a quick fix doesn't always lead to long term results and can start a horrible cycle of looking for the next craze that promises miracles.

This can create all sorts of problems, setting you up with an unhealthy mindset of believing you need to be following hard, possibly damaging routines to maintain your size and shape.

Lack of food and extreme exercise did not result in me having a better body, what has helped is gaining knowledge about how to eat well and exercise efficiently without it taking over my life.

 

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Feeling Dizzy During Or After Exercise?

Feeling dizzy during or after exercise is something that should not be ignored.  There can be several reasons why this can occur, so it's important not to assume that exercise itself is the culprit.

The Culprits:

Low blood Sugar

Skipping breakfast and exercising in the morning can deprive the body of sufficient fuel to carry it through a workout. Eating a small snack an hour before the gym, will help keep blood sugar stabilised.  Good options are:
A banana, apple or other fresh fruit.
Yogurt.
Fruit smoothie.
A whole-grain bagel or crackers.
A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.

Dehydration

Taking on fluids before, during and after exercise will ensure the body is sufficiently hydrated.  Adequate hydration is especially important if exercising in the morning as the body will be low on fluids after a nights sleep.

If we are not hydrated and then lose more fluid via sweating, it can effect both physical and mental performance in the following ways:
An Increased heart rate.
Impaired body heat regulation.
Reduced energy levels.
Increased perceived exertion, we will mentally believe exercise to be harder than when our bodies have enough fluid.

Guidelines suggets that 6-8 glasses of fluid per day are needed to keep the body hydrated.  This will differ from person to person, depending on climate, activity, gender and size.

Breathing

It's common for people to use different breathing patterns when exercising.  This can lead to the body taking in less oxygen and not letting carbon dioxide out, resulting in light headiness.

During rest periods instead of puffing and panting to get the oxygen your body needs, try breathing deeply through the belly, using the diagram to fill and empty the abdomen with each breath.

With practice it's possible to synchronise breathing with the activity being performed.  For example during cardio try breathing in for 3 seconds and exhaling for 2.  Breathing in a continuous manner will increase nitric oxide, a gas that helps relax arteries aiding the blood flow around the body.

If you are struggling to control your breathing and it becomes too rapid, take a break until it is under control.

Over Exertion

Are you exercising within your current fitness levels, if the intensity is too high the heart will struggle to meet the demands placed upon it, which amongst other things can lead to a feeling of...  you guessed it... dizziness.

The target heart rate for moderate exercise is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.  To reach an estimate of this subtract your age from 220.
For example a 50 year old would use the following calculation:
220-50 = 170 beats per minute( bpm) maximum heart rate and 50-70% level would be:
170x0.50= 85 bpm target heart rate
170x0.70=119 bpm target heart rate
So the target heart rate for a 50 year old women performing moderate exercise should be 85-119bpm.

Another way to assess physical exertion is with RPE (rated perceived exertion) on a 0-10 scale, 0 being motionless, 6 being moderate and 10 is maxed out.

A quick way to tell immediately if you are exercising within a range that is suitable for your fitness level, is if you can still manage to carry out a conversation.

High blood pressure

When the heart beats it pumps blood around the body to deliver energy and oxygen.  As the blood moves it pushes against the side of the vessels.  The force of this pushing is blood pressure.  There are various factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, such as diet, weight, activity levels and stress.  When it becomes high it may cause damage and stretch the arteries, leading to strokes, aneurysms and heart attacks.  Some people are not aware that they have high blood pressure, so if you do experience dizziness whilst exercising and it is not due to any obvious reason, it is vitally important for long term health to seek an opinion from a Doctor.  Regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure by encouraging the heart to become stronger, helping it to pump blood with less effort, decreasing the force on the arteries, therefore lowering blood pressure.  Those suffering with blood pressure issues should only perform exercise with medical permission and guidance.

Blood Pooling

When we exercise our heart pumps faster and harder increasing cardiac output, this action increases blood flow of oxygenated blood to the working muscles.  Once the oxygen and nutrients have been used up by the active tissue, the blood must be returned to the heart for re-oxygenation, this is known as venous return.

When there is an abrupt cessation of exercise, the force from the muscle contractions which was helping to push blood back around the body to the heart also stops.  This sudden drop in blood pressure creates blood pooling in the extremities and a disrupted flow of oxygenated blood to the brain leading to a feeling of .... dizziness.

It's vital to include a cool down to ensure you slowly return the heart to its resting rate.  For instance if you are running, slow to a walk this allows the muscles in the legs to carry on contracting.   This will aid the blood flow around the body and avoid it pooling in lower extremities.

Seeking Medical Advice

If you experience dizziness and it's due to over exertion take a break.  If it's caused by dehydration or low blood sugar, take on board fluid and eat a small snack.  If the dizziness continues and is accompanied by pains in the chest, jaw or arms - stop exercising, keep your head above the heart to ensure adequate blood flow around the body and call for medical help.

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Benefits of Boxing For Women

Boxing - It's Not Just For The Boy's

I'm going to pull no punches here, this is about boxing but please don't stop reading because you think it's just for the boys. I promise you it isn't, and if you've yet to sample one of the many boxercise classes that have become popular in recent years, read on and let me try to persuade you to give it a go.

BUILDS A STRONG BODY

Why should it just be the men who want strong bodies? I'll hold my hands up here and say it's only since I started training with Sarah that I can truly appreciate what it feels like to feel strong. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking pulling cars along with a rope like a competitor from the World's Strongest Man, but rather how it feels when you can perform a full push up or pull up. I used to think fitness meant being able to run a certain distance or perform silly amounts of time on cardio equipment - it never really occurred to me how important it was to build a body that was strong, powerful and could endure rather than one which just performed well on a cardiovascular level. I was unaware of what benefits a strong body could bring me, how gaining strength could balance out fat-muscle ratio, help my metabolism work efficiently, reduce injuries and provide a better chance of sustaining health into the future.

YOU'RE A LOVER NOT A FIGHTER

Boxing isn't about encouraging violence; it demands skill, dedication and discipline to master the moves that a boxer would use in the ring. No broken noses here, so there is no need to feel intimidated by the thought of putting on a pair of gloves. You certainly won't need to fight anyone to gain the multitude of benefits that boxing can give you. Instead of sparring, classes tend to be based around the drills that boxers use to keep fit, combining conditioning activities such as shadow boxing, skipping, focus pads, kicking and hitting punch bags along with resistance exercises that strengthen the body such as press ups, burpeese and squats. This combination will help gain the lean physique of a boxer without the pain.

YOU'RE WORRIED YOU MIGHT LOOK STUPID

Remember, even the most experienced person in a boxing gym would have started as a novice. If you think people are looking at you, chances are they aren't; they are much more likely to be too absorbed in their own workout to be considering what you are doing. Besides, gyms tend to be friendly places and if you can pluck up the courage to ask for help, you will find that people are more than happy to pass on their knowledge. If confidence is an issue, boxing could be instrumental in helping you gain self assurance. Your brain will receive a huge buzz by focusing concentration on learning new moves, leading to a sense of self believe, happy in the knowledge you have mastered a new skill. As your confidence grows this will spill over into other areas of your life. You'll be a knock-out.

NOT FIT ENOUGH TO PUNCH YOUR WAY OUT OF A PAPER BAG

The great thing about this type of workout is that you can start as a beginner - just make sure you do less repetitions. Please don't start thinking you are the next Tyson, going hell for leather hitting the bag, believe me you will find your energy levels depleted within literally a few seconds and your arms will feel like jelly. Instead, take the power out of your punches. Boxing is a brilliant way to measure gains within your fitness levels, the fitter you get the higher number of reps and the more powerful your punch becomes.

PUNCH AWAY YOUR STRESS

If you are having a bad day, boxing can provide you with much more than just physical benefits; it challenges you mentally, helping to relieve stress, anxiety, frustration and even aggression. Unless you're a saint, I'm sure there have been certain situations in life where you need to let off steam but instead what happens is you hold it together, leaving you feeling more angry or frustrated - then it's your nearest and dearest who suffer. When you feel like this, imagine being able to punch your way out of your mood, leaving you feeling calmer and more relaxed. Releasing anger and stress by chanelling it in a controlled manner and environment will help to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and instead will release those feel-good happy endorphins, giving your mood a much needed boost.

COMBATS THE AGEING PROCESS

If you are wondering why your muscles don't look so taut and why you have suddenly developed a bit of a tyre around your middle, this could be down to the ageing process. Sarcopenia is the process of muscle loss as we age so it's important to try to combat this because muscle actually burns more calories than fat, even when we are at rest. Loss of lean muscle means our bodies become less efficient at burning calories - the less muscle we have the fewer calories we need. The best way to counteract the effect this has on our body, is to gain lean muscle mass through resistance training.
Boxing gives you a resistance workout in various different ways, from punching bags to performing a multitude of body weight exercises. Resistance training can also lessen the effects of ageing by helping to strengthen your bones reducing the risk of osteoporosis, keeping your tendons and ligaments strong to support your body and improve balance, ensuring you will stay steady on your feet.

GETS YOU FIGHTING FIT AND BURNS THROUGH CALORIES

I know seems too good to be true, but don't underestimate how fit a boxer has to be to withstand a few rounds in the ring. Sticking it out for a two minute round might not sound hard but believe me, it takes stamina as well as muscular and cardio endurance to do this, so if you want to make gains in all these areas, it makes sense to emulate a boxer's routine. The route to this type of fitness is not by spending more and more time pounding away on a treadmill but to use a variety of exercises which keep your heart rate at the right level. The best way to do this is by engaging the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems and guess what - boxing is a great way to do just that. But why does it matter which energy system you're using? Working within both systems will improve your fitness in many areas which can be overlooked when just exercising aerobically. Steady state exercises such as running, walking and swimming are generally performed by utilising the aerobic system, great for burning fat and cardio health. Boxing, due to rounds of intense maximum effort and active rest periods, requires more energy than the aerobic system alone can produce, therefore calling upon the anaerobic system. This is where you will build lean muscle, strength, speed and endurance. Boxing also helps with fat loss by delivering a huge calorie burn of roughly 350-500 calories per session (depending on workout intensity and body composition) and, much like a HIIT workout, has the additional benefit of boosting your metabolism to not only use energy to get you through the session but also carry on burning calories post training.

THINK FEATHERWEIGHT NOT HEAVYWEIGHT

If you are looking for toned arms and shoulders, shapley legs and a flatter tummy, boxing could be your new best friend. Featherweight boxers are typically lean and sculpted without looking bulky, which is down to the fast, repetitive action of punching a bag. The movements used in a boxing routine require multiple muscle groups to be activated and putting your body weight body behind each punch engages the core and leg muscles, giving you a full body workout. Boxing will help you gain lean muscle mass without giving you an overly muscular appearance - remember, a pound of muscle does not weigh more than a pound of fat, it just takes up less room, giving a you a leaner appearance.

PUNCH AWAY THE PAUNCH

Although it's not possible to spot reduce fat in stubborn areas, boxing can help reduce visceral fat, the bad, stubborn kind found around the stomach which is hard to target but very important to shift due to its links with many health issues. An effective way to target stubborn areas is by reducing overall body fat and this can be achieved with a balanced diet and by ensuring your workouts are effective and efficient at burning calories. Boxing is a killer combination of cardio and resistance, raising your heart rate, building lean muscle and revving up your metabolism, which all combine to help you torch excess body fat.

IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT LOOKS

It's not just about looking good - it's also about building a healthy body and keeping your heart healthy and strong for as long as possible. Boxing requires full body movement and when you throw a punch a huge number of your body's muscles are contracting at the same time. This will also make you breathe heavily and increase the rate at which your heart pumps blood around the body. Your heart and lungs work overtime, teaching them to adapt to become better at delivering oxygen around your body. Your increased heart beat strengthens the heart's muscles, lowering the risks of developing cardiovascular issues.

EXPERIENCED INSTRUCTORS

This is not just a fad for us; this type of training is something that Sarah and I have used within our own workout sessions during the last decade. Having met her husband through kickboxing and fallen in love, not just with him but with the sport itself, Sarah has based many of our Boditone workouts around exercises that boxers would traditionally use. It's important to find an instructor who actually has experience in a boxing gym; someone with real knowledge will make sure you adopt the correct stance to be able to transfer power through the hips and into punching the bag, giving you a much superior workout without unnecessary strain or injury.
If you want to kick some butt, our Bodibox routines use a combination of boxing and kickboxing moves, taking you from beginner to advanced, helping you to kick your rear into shape.

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Are You Sitting Comfortably and Is It Ruining Your Health?

Chances are, whilst reading this you're sat down and may have been sitting for some time.  I’m not judging, after all I'm sat with the dog on my lap, writing about the pitfalls of sitting!

The advancements in transport and technology which aid us in work and every day life are not always helpful to our health.  Modern conveniences have resulted in more leisure time but less need to be physically active. As hunter gatherers our ancestors needed to move on constant basis in order to survive, making better use of their bodies than we do today.  According to studies, we move a shocking  90% less than our forefathers 100 years ago!

YOU MUST BE JOKING – I DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT DOWN!

It feels like you spend the whole day literally running from one task to the next.  Although you might actually have been seated more than you are concisously aware of.  You sit down at meal times, travel to work in the car or the bus, drive the kids to school, more time is spent sitting on the weekend or on a day off,  you could be desk bound for several hours at a time and once the end of a tiring day arrives you make yourself comfy on the sofa – after all you've earned a good sit down.  A study by The British Heart Foundation showed that Brits sit on their derrière for 2 1/2 months a year! And worryingly 46% of women are inactive.

BUT WHAT IF SITTING IS NOT REWARDING YOUR BODY FOR ALL IT’S HARD WORK – IN FACT SITTING COULD BE THE NEW SMOKING.

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, it kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting, we are sitting ourselves to death”.  I’m not trying to frighten you, this is a statement by Dr.James Levine (director of the Mayo Clinic) given in an interview regarding the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

It’s not just Dr.Levine that believes this, researchers are continuing to find evidence to suggest that prolonged sitting can increase the risk of: type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

BUT I'M ON MY FEET ALL DAY.

Maybe you have a job which involves standing behind a til, counter or reception for large parts of the day. In that case you probably think that this does not apply to you.  Yes standing is better but only if you are moving around.  If you're stood in the same position with little or no movement this can still have a negative impact on the body.

The damage is caused when the body is chronically in the same position  with very little movement for more than 60-90 minutes.

SO WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING TO MY BODY WHEN I'M HAVING A SIT DOWN?

We are not suggesting that you shouldn't sit down at all, we all need to take a break from time to time. However it's important to realise what's happening on a physiological level when we are sat for extended periods.  The human body is designed to move and long bouts of sitting encourages it to shut down metabolically.  Leading to a sluggish circulation, decreased use of blood sugar, poor posture and issues with spine health.  A slower metabolism also means a reduced energy uptake, storing calories in different ways to when we are in motion.  Scientists have reported that sitting for 8-9 hours a day causes the enzymes that breakdown fat to drop by 90 percent.

I’M O.K I GO TO THE GYM.

Well done you have managed to squeeze in an hour at the gym. Unfortunately this is not enough to offset the negative effects of being sedentary for a large part of the day.  Although a workout is an excellent way to improve health and fitness, experts now believe it can’t counterbalance the negative effects of prolonged periods of inactivity.  Katy Bowman a Biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA has suggested their is an increased risk of cardiac health issues from being sedentary most of the day and then opting for an extreme session in the gym.  Sitting all day restricts blood flow and circulation through your blood vessels and pumping blood rapidly through these vessels is similar to trying to run water through a hose with a kink in it

To offset being motionless for a period of 6-7 hours a day, research has indicated that you would need to compensate with at least an hour of INTENSE exercise.  So if you're working maybe a 12 hour seated shift you would need to find time to sweat it out in the gym for two hours.

2 HOURS OF EXERCISE – I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT – WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?

You're too tired to spend 2 hours in the gym and even if you could find the energy you don’t have the time, so how do you rid yourself of the negative impact of sitting.

According to a study in Journal.plos.org it's simple - move more, increasing the time standing and walking is a more effective way to help reduce certain health risks than an 1 hour of planned physical exercise. The trick is to move our bodies regularly throughout the day, even the smallest and simplest changes in activity levels will improve health. Research suggests we need to create frequent opportunities (i.e 4-5  mins every half an  hour) to move our butts out of our seats.

Try some of the following to get you moving:

Stand up whilst on the phone.

Walk to work.

Take the staris

Walk instead of driving on the school run

Take a break every hour from your desk just to stand up and move a little.

GIVE YOURSELF A MINI EXERCISE BREAK.

We still believe that organised physical activity (exercise classes etc) play a vital role in keeping our bodies working efficiently, it's also a way to work on specific goals such as strength and endurance.  If time is an issue, short bursts of exercise will suit you.  The frequency and intensity of a mini workout can bring you the same and possibly more benefits than slogging it out in the gym for hours on end.  By using a combination of bodyweight exercises i.e: press ups, squats, lunges, planks, one legged deadlifts, jumping jacks, Burpees etc. it's possible to devise routines that can be done anytime, anywhere, with no equipment.
This is an example of the type of workout that will elevate the heart rate, activate muscles and help to revitalise the mind and body.  You can of course design a version to suit your lifestyle.

MON/WEDS/FRIDAY

10am: 15 squats/10 push ups/10 burpees x 2 sets

12am: 12 squats/8 push ups/8 burpees x 3 sets

2pm: 10 squats/5 push ups/5 Burpees x 4 sets

4pm: squats/press ups/Burpees - as many as you can until fatigue or form failure x 1 set

 

TUES/THURS

10am: 10 fwd lunges each leg/10 reverse lunges each leg/10 jumping jacks x 2 sets

11am: one legged bodyweight Romanian deadlift 10 each leg/10 squat thrusts x 2 sets

12am: 8 fwd lunges each leg/8 reverse lunges each leg/8 jumping jacks x 3 sets

2pm: one legged bodyweight Romanian deadlift 8 each leg/8 squat thrusts x 3 sets

4pm: fwd/reverse leg lifts then Romanian deadlifts/jumping jacks/squat thrusts  - as many as you can until fatigue or form failure x 1 set.

To keep progressing you can add weights or up the repetitions.

Remember if your joints are creaking when you lift your bum off the sofa, you have probably been sitting for longer than is good for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine, Boditone member

Trials and Tribulations of a Boditone Member – 2nd Installment

CATHERINE'S JOURNEY AS A BODITONE MEMBER.

Catherine was one of the first people to become a Boditone member, she has very graciously agreed to share her journey on finding a longer term solution for her fitness. We think Catherine's story will really resonate with our members and those of you who follow us on social media. Catherine is a 37 year old mum of two, she works part time as a Research Associate, writing programmes to challenge sexism and gender inequality in schools. Catherine has flirted with her fitness goals over the years, favouring sporadic intensity over progressive longevity. She's tried kickboxing, aerobics, running, gym membership and every other class in-between. The only thing to stick is swimming, however it's not enough on it's own to stop the weight creeping back on. Catherine's fitness goals are about consistency and sustainability now, which is why she's joined Boditone.

Part Two Of My Journey.

So you know all that deeply empowering stuff I said about being fine with the way I am? Well today I'm just not feeling it. The core of my self-confidence, which stems from logic and understanding that perpetually measuring yourself next to unachievable, frankly destructive norms only serves to fester a sense of inadequacy, remains intact - however, on days like today, the distance between my actual self and my ideal self seems that much wider.

 

When I open that door to self doubt the illumination hits the shadows of my body image and seems to catch on every flaw. I notice the way my body seems to lack definition, even though I spent the morning swimming in an outdoor lake and my thighs still ache from the lowerbodi workout I did the day before. I think about how far I've got to go before I reach that physical 'ideal' and the sheer 'cost' of energy and time (both of which I feel a distinct lack of). I think of how many times I've worked towards shifting that weight, learning a new sport or increasing my fitness and how many times I've started again. And again. I think about that fact that I'm approaching 40. I think about the pizza and wine I've just had for tea.

 

It's easy to get dizzy on this negative spiral. The view becomes blurred and all those individual feelings begin to feed one another. They become co-dependent, inevitable. I can't see where one negative ideal starts and the other ends. As they swirl around relentlessly that core strength of mine (I'm talking metaphorical here. Planks are still not my friend) is blinking furiously, trying to keep the sand of self-doubt from being kicked up in its eye.

 

I've been here enough times to know that the sandstorm dies down eventually. I reason with myself, increasing the volume on my logical side (it's very convincing and well-informed), yet still there's the sense that I could look and be so much better than I am.

 

Ironically my job is all about challenging gender norms. I lead interventions in secondary schools to challenge the ideals of femininity and masculinity. I argue that stereotyping 'feminine women' as 'beautiful' and 'masculine men' as 'strong' negates the importance of intelligence in one and emotion in the other. By placing our emphasis or sense of self on one ideal, regardless of gender, we do ourselves a disservice.

 

As women, this ideal can stop us from celebrating our own body shape and all the other countless things about us that make us who we are. We are all so wonderfully different and I, for one, see the beauty in that. So why can't I see it in myself?

 

This is where gathering a community of like-minded women around you can be so important. It can be any number and of any origin. Social media connects us in an impatient, hungry way, however that doesn't mean it has no substance. The media will have us believe that women are in competition with each other. That we judge one-another on our hair, relationships, weight, status and dress sense. My experiences couldn't be more different.

 

A group of near strangers on the boditone Facebook page told me I was doing well when I was feeling frustrated with my level of exercise. We all regularly post to share our workouts, what we've done and how we felt and we are all met with a resounding wall of encouragement and support.

 

Tomorrow I'm having my first fitness test after starting up with boditone in February.

 

"I hope I haven't let you down" I text to Sarah (thinking of that pizza and wine)

 

"You could never let me down" was the reply.

 

Sometimes the reflection of ourselves in another's eyes is just enough to calm the storm.

 

Catherine

Stylish Gym Wear, gym kit, exercise gear for women

Can wearing nicer workout gear make you ‘gym’ better?

We have been fortunate to have recently collaborated with Rio, a health and lifestyle blogger with a passion for fitness and beauty. Here is her take on how wearing the right gym clothes can make you feel about hitting the gym.

Can wearing nicer workout gear make you 'gym' better?

Well I personally think, YES!!  Gym clothes/workout wear nowadays is amazing! Its full of amazing technologies and fabrics that not only make you look good but help you workout better! Now I'm not saying to go and drop £100's on gym gear if you cant afford it as gym membership themselves can be pretty expensive, but places like primark do some aesthetically pleasing gym items that look great and will boost your mood and your workout!

If you feel good about how you look you walk taller and smile a bit bigger right? So why not take that ethos into the gym? If you feel good about how you look in your nice gym gear you will feel more motivated and push yourself that little bit more! We all know that gyms can be a scary place so why not buy a nice 2 piece set and smash it and sweat in style.

I know if I go to the gym in a baggy t-shirt and horrible baggy bottoms then I don't feel motivated and I just want to leave, but if I go in my decent work wear then I lift bigger and better. Gym clothes/active wear come in all sizes and for all body types. You take pride in your appearance everywhere else in your life so why take pride here and you will find yourself doing a few more squats, wanting to go often and losing those pounds or growing those muscles!

By Guest Blogger Rio.

 

Check out more of Rio's beauty and fashion hints and tips via her blog.

Catherine, Boditone member

Trials and Tribulations of a Boditone Member – 1st Installment.

 

Catherine's Journey As A Boditone Member.

Catherine one of our very first Boditone members, has very graciously agreed to share her journey on finding a longer term solution for her fitness.  We think Catherine's story will really resonate with our members and those of you who follow us on social media.  Catherine is a 37 year old mum of two, she works part time as a Research Associate, writing programmes to challenge sexism and gender inequality in schools.  Catherine has flirted with her fitness goals over the years, favouring sporadic intensity over progressive longevity.  She's tried kickboxing, aerobics, running, gym membership and every other class in-between.  The only thing to stick is swimming, however it's not enough on it's own to stop the weight creeping back on.  Catherine's fitness goals are about consistency and sustainability now, which is why she's joined Boditone.

My Journey So Far.

Infused with new beginnings and new resolutions many of us are going hurtling towards our latest fitness goal, equipped with the relevant DVD, gym membership or diet book, in January. Then February hits and it begins to get harder and harder to stay on the exercise wagon.

 

All these workout fads are usually centred on quick fixes for optimum results depicted by images blurred by airbrushing and diet pills. The reality is that any new habit or behaviour can take up to three months to demonstrate a difference, whether that’s in your state of mind or waistline.

 

I’ve flirted with my fair share of fitness classes and DVDs. I’ve become irked by Davina’s skipping joke and nodded along in agreement with Jillian Michaels as she states, for the hundredth time, that ‘results don’t come for free’.

 

I’ve joined gyms and become addicted to the rush of exercise endorphins, then I hit my physical happy place and start celebrating with wine and cheese. I’m not adverse to hard work, however I’m no longer looking for a ‘quick fix’ or an ‘all or nothing’ approach.

 

I want something I can stick to, which challenges me and fits in with my lifestyle. I want to be able to tap into a community of like-minded people who can give me advise, set me targets and keep me going, and I want to vary my workouts so I’m not exhausting myself and ensuring that I’m seeing results.

 

Oh, and I don’t want it to cost me an extortionate amount every month.

 

You see; I’m no longer lusting after a body drastically different to the one I’ve got. I know that I could be fitter and leaner, which is why I’m keen to get on an exercise plan that works, however it’s more about how I feel in myself than attempting to look like, well, someone on the front of a workout DVD.

 

Doesn’t sound like too much to ask does it? I don’t think so either, which is why I’ve signed up to Boditone and been brave enough to stand for one of those wonderful sports-bra-and-legging shots that show me in all my post-Christmas glory so I can see exactly how far I’ve come when I hit that significant three-month-mark.

 

I want to be clear and say I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way I am. We come in all different shapes and sizes, which is something that should be celebrated. Over the past year all of my fitness has come from swimming. I’ve ventured outdoors and jumped into cold water, swam in rivers and a quarry. My body is strong and I’m so grateful for that. This strength is something I want to build on and maintain so that I can be the very best version of myself.

 

Bring it on.

 

Catherine

 

 

Wondering why you are trying but failing to reach that dress size, stick to an exercise plan or healthier dietMotivation, creating habits

Wondering if it’s lack of motivation that’s stopping you dropping a dress size, stick to an exercise plan or eat a healthier diet?

Trying but failing to reach the goals you have set for yourself.

Wondering why you can't seem to stick to a balanced diet, or even be bothered to find your trainers, let alone get to the gym.  You have started to think that you just don't have the motivation to get to where you want to be in relation to your health and fitness.  You are not lacking motivation, if you're reading this you are already motivated to make the changes you need to create a healthier lifestyle.

Motivation is what gets you going, but it's actually habit that keeps you going and it might be your habits good and bad that are stopping you from reaching your goal.

And you're off.

So you have set yourself some goals: exercise every day, cut out all junk food, drop a stone or two in weight.

You may have initially got off to a flying start, annoying your friends with constant fbook updates about how much weight you have lost, how many miles you have run or poses of you working out in the gym.  Then gradually as the weeks roll by, you might drop a gym session or two, have more bad food days than good and the scales are now going in the wrong direction.  You're starting to wonder why this keeps happening to you, for all of your good intentions, you just can't seem to reach your goal.

In fact this cycle of trying to reach those goals and not achieving them has happened time and time again.

No You Are Not A Failure.

No wonder you are finding it hard, you have put yourself under a tremendous amount of pressure, it's not surprising that at some point your new healthy routine becomes impossible to maintain.  Not only do you now feel a failure but you suspect that some of your friends are secretly pleased you've not managed to make any significant changes to your body.

Meanwhile one of your mates has quietly been going about reaching their goals and sickenenly they seem to be sticking to their plan.  No they are not more motivated or better than you, they have just managed to create better habits.

We all know what we are supposed to do in order to gain a healthier lifestyle - drink more water, move more, eat less rubbish, so why then are we so bad at doing it?

Setting your goals too high.

First of all the goals you have set yourself could be far too high and therefore doomed to failure before you start.

For instance if your goals are along the lines of:  workout five times every week, eat clean every day and ditch alcohol completely, you may find this hard, especially if you lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, never cook from scratch and have an active social life.  Trying to reach these goals all at once will be nigh on impossible and feel really overwhelming because you have set yourself such high expectations.

Your motivation will push you so far, but if the goals you have set are overly ambitious, they could ultimately lead to your downfall.  However motivated you are, life has a habit of getting in the way, you might be too busy to cook every night, or feel too tired for five gym sessions and you definitely deserve a glass of wine after a hectic day.  You are starting to realise that the goals you have set are not manageable within your life, so you skip a gym session and then maybe another, cooking from scratch every night proved too much and life without wine  well let's be honest, it's a bit miserable.  After a few weeks of trying to maintain your routine you start to feel deflated, you have slipped so much that you feel as though you are failing to get anywhere.  It doesn't seem worthwhile carrying on and you may as well give up, you can't seem to stick to any of the goals you have set for yourself, all of your hard work has been for nothing and you are now back to square one.

CREATING A HABIT IS THE KEY TO A LONG TERM HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.

So once your motivation has disappeared, how can you carry on, the key is to create good habits which are performed without too much effort on your part.  A habit is a ritual that is performed on autopilot, you fit it into your daily schedule without even thinking about it.   Hitting your goals will be easier if you can make that gym session, or commitment to eat less of the bad stuff habitual, meaning you do it without consciously thinking.  You will find that if you have turned the process of reaching your target dress size or fitness level into habits, you won't constantly waste your time thinking of excuses not to go for that run or eat a piece of fruit instead of a chocolate bar.

Start Small

Focus on the habit first then the results, so instead of saying I'm going to be a certain size or weight, say I'm going to: exercise for ten minutes each day, cut out some processed food or only drink alcohol at weekends.  Make the habit ridiculously small so that when you are struggling for willpower, you really have no excuse not to do it.  Creating small habits that are good for you, is a much more effective route to gaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle than setting yourself a goal that can be difficult to reach with bad habits holding you back.

How bad habits creep up on us

Ever reached for the biscuit tin when you are fed up or bored?  A bad habit is created because our brains have received a positive response from something that's not too great for us, so delving into the biscuits has made your brain associate biscuits as a pick me up.  We have learnt to associate bad food with a good feeling, this in turn makes it difficult when faced with temptation not to give in.

The habits you have formed over your lifetime have lead you to where you are today, you just need to adjust the habits to lead you to where you want to be.

Habit formation.

A habit is formed by three things, a cue, a routine and a reward, this is what leads us to eating six biscuits with our afternoon cuppa, having a dessert or checking that the lights are off when we leave a room.  Lots of things we do, day to day are a string of habits.

By way of explanation I will use one of my bad habits

Cue: kids come home from school, I feel drained

Routine: grab a handful of haribos

Reward: sugar rush

My brain has been trained to act on a cue, a routine and reward pattern, performed so many times that eating a handful of haribos or two is now one of my bad habits.

To change a bad habit into a good one, you need to amend the cue/routine/reward sequence.

New habit

Cue: kids come home from school, I feel drained

New routine: eat a rice cake with peanut butter

Reward: I feel healthier, have more energy, my brain has received a positive response from performing a new habit, helping it to became an automatic action.

Don't give up too quickly.

In today's world we have become increasingly used to instant gratification, so if you are hoping for dramatic changes in shape or fitness too soon, this can lead to disappointment when you don't see results quickly enough.  Try and concentrate on the smaller changes that are occurring because of your new lifestyle, being able to complete five more minutes of exercise instead of concentrating on the number on the scales, is a much better measure of how well you are doing in your pursuit of a healthier body.  You can also treat yourself when you reach certain milestones, this type of reward can act as a motivational push, giving you more of an incentive to get to where you want to be, just try and make sure it's something healthy and not an excuse to have a blow out.

Don't view a missed workout or a bad food choice as a failure, you don't have to create a new habit by next week, just start again the next day.

Remember persistence is vital you must repeat, repeat and repeat any new habit, it can take at least 66 days for it to become habitual.

Make your health a priority, if you view it as non negotiable, you are more likely to stick to good habits, making them an essential part of your life - after all you wouldn't skip cleaning your teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

boditone team workout, flat belly workout, womens fitness

Is A Flat Belly Really Possible? Here are our Hints and Tips To Help You Achieve A Flatter Stomach.

Is A Flat Belly Really Possible?

Well yes of course it is, for lots of people, unfortunately for me, that's never been quite the case.  My stomach seems to be a fat magnet.  I've got a short torso and long legs, so when I put on weight I tend to look like a lemon on toothpicks.

My stomach is always going to be my problem area, no matter what I do, I can't seem to regain my pre-pregnancy shape - I know give it time.  Is 16 years long enough?  Yes after all that time I am still battling to get a flatter stomach.  I have toyed with the idea of surgery to repair some of the damaged muscles, I just can't face it, the risks, the recovery and what if I'm not happy with the result.

In pursuit of my abs I have learnt a few lessons, some I am better at implementing than others, hopefully you will find these tips helpful if you are also trying to find the route to a flatter stomach.

Whole Body Approach.

A jelly belly is not just down to lack of muscle, excess body fat also has a part to play.  Now don't go rushing off doing 100's of crunches and spending hours in the plank position.  Working on one area will not remove the wobble from that region, sadly fat cannot be spot reduced.  Revealing your abs is going to involve working the whole body, routines using core based exercises such as bear crawl or mountain climber utilise multiple muscle groups.  This will make your heart work harder, giving you a greater calorie burn, which in turn will help reduce fat levels.

Ramp Up Your Workouts With HIIT.

Exercise for me is not a problem, I am one of those awful people, who actually enjoy it.  I usually go for a mixture of strength/boxing style routines and HIIT.

Here's the sales bit (although I do really believe it is beneficial).

Bodifit is a cardio routine for all levels of fitness, using the principles of HIIT training (high-intensity interval training) to fluctuate the heart rate.  This workout combines high-intensity periods of activity with low-intensity recovery periods, making it a very effective fat burning workout, encouraging the body to burn calories while maintaining muscle mass for optimal results.  This type of exercise will suit all fitness levels and abilities, there is no excuse not to give this a go, most people can manage 30" of exercise if they know a break is coming.

Healthy Diet.

Now I can't preach to you on this subject (katie is the clean eater), I am most definitely not perfect when it comes to food.  Ever heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen ".  This is where I am going wrong, in order to reveal my efforts in the gym I need to eat a cleaner diet.  After all what's the point in working out, if I am going to come home and eat a packet of M&M's.  What I am trying to say is don't waste your hard work by eating rubbish.  All joking aside I am a lot better at ditching the junk food than I used to be and enjoy the results of that in most areas of my body - just need to be really good, to get rid of my stubborn belly fat (caused by excess M&M consumption).

I think we all know deep down what our food culprits are and this can vary from person to person.  My best advice for eating a healthier diet is to tackle one area at a time, making small changes will make them easier to maintain long term.  That could be drinking more water, eating more fruit, cutting out some of the bad stuff in your diet, including more home cooked meals.  I know the home cooking is easier said than done. Not being the worlds best chef I have found that the slow cooker is my saviour.  I really don't enjoy cooking in the evening, I am usually too tired or busy being a taxi driver for my kids.  I would much rather get up a bit earlier and chuck the ingredients in the pot.  I now have some tried and tested slow cooker recipes that are easy to prepare, the whole family will eat and are healthy (ish). I used to rely on far too many processed ready meals, these tend to contain a lot of sugar and sodium.  Too much sodium in your diet, can lead to dehydration, causing your body to retain water, which in turn will make you look and feel bloated.

Drink More

No I am not talking wine, I mean more water.  The last thing you probably want to do if you are feeling bloated is to drink water.  However the bloating you are feeling might be down to lack of fluids, your body will retain water to prevent dehydration.  Water retention causes bloating.  To prevent water retention and bloating it will actually help to drink more water - the recommended amount is 2ltrs per day.

Sleep.

Well I don't get enough sleep, it's all very well to be told to try and get 7-8 hours , wind down, relax, shut off the phones/iPads etc.  In reality that doesn't happen, by the time most of us sit down in the evening, there is no time to 'wind down" and an hour searching the Internet for random rubbish is when we relax.

Having kids has put paid to me ever having a full nights sleep, after years of being woken up by children I have never managed to regain a good sleep pattern.  Now in my 40's, I seem to have the delightful prequel to what I guess will be the menopause, a bit of insomnia mixed with occasional night sweats.

Lack of sleep can play havoc with your metabolism, triggering the release of the hormone cortisol.  This is a stress hormone which comes into play when your body believes it is in a time of famine, it was traditionally utilised to protect your body when food was scarce.  So even though we now have plenty of eat, cortisol does not distinguish between lack of food or sleep as a source of stress.  It tells your body to slow down until the crisis has passed, encouraging the conversion of blood sugar into fat for long term storage.  Lack of sleep can also increase the hunger hormone ghrelin, making your body think it's hungry, encouraging you to eat more than you actually need.

We are more susceptible to making bad food choices when we are tired, usually picking something sugary as a pick me up.  We might also feel less inclined to move as much, due to lack of energy.  So as you can see a good nights sleep really is important in maintaining a healthy body.

There is plenty of advice out there about what food and what routines will help to enhance your sleep, I have tried a few and nothing really works for me, so unfortunately I don't have a magic formula for you.  I try not to get stressed by my disturbed sleep, otherwise it leads to a vicious circle of thinking about how many hours sleep I'm missing out on, resulting in even more hours spent awake instead of sleeping.  Maybe I can blame my less than perfect stomach on lack of sleep rather than excess M&M consumption after all.

I'm Not Sure How To Break It to You.

I have saved this bit until last, as I know you will want to stop reading as soon as I mention cutting back on alcohol. Before you run away, I just wanted to let you know, that your favourite tipple might be the culprit for your jiggly belly.  I know this is painful to hear, you might just need to cut back a little on your weekly consumption to help you in your pursuit of a flatter stomach.

Everyone talks about the empty calories in alcohol and assumes switching to a vodka and Diet Coke is a good option. What you might not realise is, it's not just down to the calories consumed that contribute to weight gain.

When alcohol is consumed it can impare liver function, making it difficult to cleanse the blood of excess oestrogen. Raised Oestrogen can cause insulin problems, instead of pushing glucose towards your liver and muscles, it leaves higher sugar levels in the blood stream which can lead to your body storing glucose as fat. Oestrogen dominance can be caused by diet/lifestyle/health issues.

Plus if you are anything like me, you have probably made some really bad food choices after one to many - kebab anyone? now that's not going to help reduce the wobble.

Core, abs, online gym,

Core Workout, Isn’t That Just A Fancy Name For Sit Ups?

That's what I used to think, it actually involves more than just working your abs.  The secret to a slimmer waistline, involves working all the core muscles.  If only I had known that after having kids, I might have had a better chance of loosing my jelly belly a lot sooner.   Both of  my children were born by c-sections and once I had been sliced and diced, my stomach muscles seemed to be non existent.  No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to regain my waistline, I still looked pregnant years later!  This obviously had something to do with food, healthy eating and young kids, did not go hand in hand for me.  I only managed to get to grips with my diet once my children were much older, even when I had lost weight it didn't seem to make much difference to how my stomach looked.  Thanfully I met Sarah and she showed me the right exercises to bring about the changes that I wanted and how to work my core more effectively. I would like to say the image above is me , it's not, it's actually Sarah, I'm still not disciplined enough with food to achieve a core like that.  Although with the right exercises I am much happier with the way I look now.

What does core mean?

It's basically everything from your shoulders to your knees, I could name all the muscles involved, but you would get bored, so briefly some of the core is made up of the pelvic floor, lower back, glutes, abs, internal and external obliques (your sides).

What is core stability/strength?

Core stability means being able to maintain position and balance during physical activity. Core strength/endurance refers to the ability to hold a position whilst resisting fatigue.

Why is it important to have a strong core?

It's not just about appearance. A weak core can create a slouched spine, leading to bad posture, back ache and unnecessary impact and load being placed on the bones. Building a flexible strong core, will create a muscular corset helping to stabilise the whole body. This is important because the movements that we do in everyday life and sport create motion between the shoulders and pelvis. These motions are controlled by your core muscles, so having a strong stable torso/pelvis area and trunk, will help improve power generated to other muscles in the body, posture, balance, stability and strength.

Which exercises should I do?

Pilates, yoga and suspension training are great at helping improve your core as the positions and moves involved target the correct muscle groups. There are many simple body weight exercises that you can practise at home, such as the plank, russian twists, squats and push ups to name a few. You could also try our Bodicore routines, which have been designed to strengthen core stability and strength.

Engaging your core - what does that mean?

If you have ever taken part in a class or had a session with a personal trainer, you will have been told to engage your core. This doesn't just relate to your abs, you need to activate the rest of your core muscles. So imagine creating a solid ring of muscle around your midrift.   To do this, use your abs to pull up the front of the pelvis, then almost push your sides out whilst tensing, as though you were about to receive a punch, don't forget to engage your back and glutes to help create a corset type effect, but whatever you do please remember to breathe.

Plank

To help you on your way to building a stronger core, we have added a tutorial video of the plank, where Sarah will show you the correct technique.  The plank is a simple yet effective bodyweight exercise which requires no equipment, so can be practised anywhere and can be made harder or easier depending on your fitness levels. When performing a plank try to ensure the following:
Body is in a straight line from head to toes, with your torso straight and rigid.
Engage your core (as mentioned above).
Squeeze your glutes to help protect your lower back.
Shoulders over your hands with elbows in - not flared out.
Try not to do the downward dog, so no bending and raising your butt into the air, try not to dip your hips either.
The plank can be performed with straight arms, or elbows bent at 90 degrees, whilst resting on your forearms.
Hold the position for 15-60" depending on your fitness level, don't be a martyr, only hold the position for as long as the correct form can be maintained.

 

 

 

 

 

Try Our Plank Challenge, it's a manageable way to begin building a stronger core.

Hold the plank for two minutes, plank challenge, improve your core strength