This week’s news + video – scroll down for this week’s ab & core strengthening + stretching video
Health & Lifestyle:
Having excess body fat seems to matter when it comes to catching COVID-19 as well as the severity of the symptoms. Yet, the reality is we now find ourselves in a new environment where our fridge is only a few steps away and we may not be as active as we previously were and when excess weight was not an issue for us. In these uncertain times, stress and emotional eating can be on the rise too. Excess body fat produces inflammation in the body and the virus, the body produces an increased inflammatory response so people who’re overweight are more at risk from their symptoms.
So, how do we establish good eating habits? What and when should we be eating to ensure that we manage our weight during this time and beyond?
We all know that there are lots of books, articles and programmes ‘out there’ about fat loss but a lot are quick fixes ie how to lose weight in 7 days/2 weeks but on those restrictive diets, we may just lose water retention. Our diet should be sustainable and healthy in the long term.
I attended another online webinar by a leading dietician and sports nutritionist that provided science based information in practical, bite-size-chunks, that’s applicable to us all so I’d like to share some take-away tips with you about managing weight during Covic-19 and beyond.
If we want to lose weight/fat, we want to lose fat mass but keep muscle mass which is metabolically more active. So we can measure weight but measuring body composition can be more important than just ‘the number on the scales’. An easy way to do this by measuring our waist. Did you know that the risk of getting a lot of diseases increases when our waist measurement is double height.
Slow and steady weigh loss is a great approach to take ie ½-1k a week.
Keeping ourselves hydrated can be an issue for some and especially when the weather’s hot and if we’re exercising or just not drinking enough fluids during the day and some people can eat more when they’re dehydrated so keep on top of that. If you don’t like plain water, add a slice of lemon or lime, maybe a few mint leaves or fresh rosemary. Aim for around 1½ – 2L a day depending on your size and how much exercise you’re doing and drink more in the morning after we get up.
We’ve talked about intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating which is about leaving at least 12 hours and usually up to 16 hours between our last meal at night and first meal the following day so the body can absorb nutrients but can also rest, recover and repair, especially during the night and you may like to try this approach. We definitely don’t want to eat a huge meal quite close to bedtime and I’ve read that we should ideally leave 3 hours before our last meal and bedtime. We don’t want to go to bed on a full stomach as the body is trying to digest our food and we won’t sleep as well.
If you feel you need a snack during the day because of hunger or because you’ve got a training or exercise session coming up, ensure your snack contains fibre and protein ie an apple with some nuts or carrot sticks and hummus or fruit and yoghurt.
When eating any meals, focus portion size and on the balance of meals ie we’re encouraged to get the proportions right and to eat more fibre-rich foods incl vegetables which have more vitamins and minerals in. We should eat starchy foods which we can digest but it’s about portion size and timing. So, what type of foods should we eat and not eat? Don’t eat processed food ie food that’s been through several machines to make them look appealing and they’re usually full of sugar/sugar substitutes which we don’t need as it’s generally worse off for your blood sugar levels. Eat whole foods, plenty of colourful fruits and veg, pulses, nuts, seeds etc – foods that look like how they grow.
Advised when eating starchy carbs to eat them early on in the day and as the day goes on, to eat more fibrous carbs so at dinner, instead of starchy carbs, eat more vegetables. Protein is essential for muscle mass and for keeping us feeling full so have at each meal (incl say, an afternoon snack as mentioned before), ie eggs, yoghurt, tofu, tempeh, nuts, pulses and fish if you’re not on a100% plant based diet.
Instead of eating low-fat, we now know that good fats are good for our bodies and brains so include avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut and MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oils, salmon, nut butters.
We want our plates to be half full with fruits, vegetables, salads, a quarter of protein-rich food (eg nuts, beans and other legumes) and a quarter of starchy whole grain carbohydrate, less processed foods (eg brown rice). We can have fat during the day but should be portion controlled based on our daily activities when talking about weight management.
Also watch out for liquid calories in drinks like coffee lattes from certain coffee shops, fruit juices, fizzy drinks in cans and alcoholic drinks too as these can have a detrimental effect on our weight but also health and sleep too. We can still have a fruit/veg/protein based smoothie in the morning though as all the food stays intact and we know what’s in it if we make it ourselves. Btw I love a nut milk base with some peanut butter and banana in it.
Be mindful about what you’re eating, what’s on your plate, whether you’re actually hungry (or just thirsty) when about to eat, about portion size and if you’d like to try: time-restricted eating. We could also think about stopping eating when we’re 80% full so we’re not overloading our stomach and feel very or uncomfortably full and/or bloated. We could also think about keeping a food diary and there are apps you can download for this or just note meals and fluid intake down in a diary if you want to manage your weight. A lot of us are comfort eaters where we see food as a reward and we should address that and eat consciously and mindfully with meals that are nutritionally balanced, varied and colourful and check to see how long it takes you to eat a meal too – don’t be a gorger and shovel down your food as quickly as you can. It takes 20 minutes for our body to recognise that we’re full so meals should take at least 20 minutes. Using that food diary can make people more conscious about what they’re actually eating, when and they become more mindful about food and meals. Don’t wait to eat when you’re ravenous or very hungry but when you’re a little hungry/peckish and stop when lightly satisfied when you know you could quite happily eat some more but you don’t, you stop. Don’t eat until you’re full.
When maintaining weight, we can follow an 80/20 rule where 80% of the time, we’re eating a well-balanced plan and 20% of the time, we can include some treats. When trying to lose weight, try a 95% / 5% diet where the 5% would be on one day of the week, ie at one meal, not the whole day and plan what you’re going to have.
Other helpful advise is: move more, sleep enough and manage stress levels. We’ve talked before but if we don’t get our recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night, our body can release the stress hormone cortisol even after 2 nights of not sleeping well/enough and we find it hard to lose weight as cortisol tells our body that we’re in stress-mode and we won’t be able to lose weight and we find that body fat can increase.
Stress management can be done through mindfulness, meditation, walking in nature, reading etc.
Exercise: What are the benefits of doing both strengthening and stretching exercises at the same time?
By incorporating both stretching and strengthening exercises into the same routine, your body will experience a steady, gradual progression for better results in the long term. Stretching can often be overlooked or neglected if it’s not already part of your workout regime but you know that normally, I like to incorporate both types in classes and in videos so that our body can flow in a natural way. Both types of exercises complement each other and will increase the overall benefits for your body.
Strengthening our lower back is so important as low back pain can often become a common issue as we get older. Continuous sitting at a work desk, letting your back get overworked, or not exercising your core are huge contributors to lower back problems and injury.
We don’t need any equipment to strengthen our core muscles however as we’ve done in the past and in classes, the use of resistance band allows the move to increase the level of fitness.
Our abs are the core of everything that we do, including when it comes to strengthening our lower back. Your abs are the centre of your body; they help prevent injuries; they allow us to have great posture; they’re functioning when bending down to pick something up; and they are a great part of the body to exercise for all those reasons. If you have a weak core or you are not using your core properly, then the lower back will overcompensate and result in weakness and possibly injury. By adding core-focused exercises, you will increase your awareness and engagement of your centre. Over time, strengthening your core will allow you to perform more intense workouts, making you feel stronger and healthier!
Strengthening our glutes (buttock) muscles work in partnership with a strong lower back for a stronger core and the overall body.
Have a look through some of my previous videos for core ab, back and glute work but here’s a new 10/11 min sequence for ab & core strengthening + stretching, enjoy.
Last week, I sent a couple of links to videos that Bryce had taken and told you that he has his own Youtube channel with various videos on there too but I omitted to give you the link to his channel which is: youtube.com/videosbryce
Some more funnies:
To the person who stole my selfie stick, I hope you have a good, long look at yourself!
The 7 dwarfs have been told that as from Monday, up to 6 of them can meet but one’s not Happy!
Please keep me updated in emails as I love hearing your news too.
In the meantime, stay fit, flexible, strong, well, relaxed and positive.
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Have a great week and take care, Susan x