May 7, 2017
Founder of E|B|M Angela has a birthday coming up this week, so in celebration of this we’re talking all things related to milestones.
You’ll commonly see lists like “30 by 30” or “50 by 50” that people set themselves as goals to achieve by a certain timeline. Not only do these lists help to set plans and timelines in place, but they are a fun way to put together a bucket list to do by yourself, with your friends, or with your significant other.
Today we’re putting together a top 10 list that you may find some inspiration for your own list no matter what age you are! The important thing with lists like this is that you only put elements on there that personally relate to you and that you consider important! Find yourself a comfortable space in the sunshine or rugged up on your lounge and get creative.
NOTE this is not a typical “achievement list”; this is looking through the lens of ENERGY|BODY|MIND of creating a healthier and happier YOU.
#1 Set a five and ten year plan: if the word ‘plan’ makes you run in the opposite direction then this one is DEFINITELY for you. As we get older the years seem to absolutely fly by. Before you know it, Christmas is here again and another year is over, but you can’t seem to think about what you’ve achieved in that last 12 months. Having a longer term plan can help time to slow down, with smaller milestones set along the way to achieve the bigger plan. It also means that your decisions become geared towards this goal on a daily basis, and instead of floating through each day, week, month or year, you can depend on your life goals to guide you. You may even put some of these things from the list in it.
#2 Find your significant other: You don’t need to have an engagement or marriage on your list (although if that is important to you then you definitely can!) but finding your significant other is an honourable quest. Finding that one person that you want to spend a majority of your life with and who has similar goals and values to you can make life just that little bit sweeter. However, a huge realisation is that this significant other cannot fulfil ALL your desires from another human. They cannot act as your best friend, confident, lover, philosophical dreamer, lifelong partner, or whatever is on that never ending list. Your significant other is the person you want to share a life with and follow your dreams simultaneously with. They will inherently understand you, respect you, and want the same life goals as you. You’re going to need a whole tribe for everything which takes us to #3.
#3 Create your tribe: They say it takes a community to raise a child so we believe it takes a tribe to raise an adult. You are the result of the top 5 people you spend the most time with, and with time being so precious, choosing those people is crucial to your overall mental and physical health. We talked about finding your tribe but for your list it’s great to seek out people who are in a similar position to you, or ones that are where you are striving to be as an inspiration. Having people in your life that push you and support you will help make this life much more fun.
#4 Fire up those neurons: The neurons are like trees that have beautiful leafy branches stemming off them when we are young. Unfortunately as we get older, these branches start to wilt and some even die and fall off UNLESS we use them. The best way to fire them up and stimulate new growth is to learn a musical instrument or learn a language. It’s a difficult concept for our brain and the effort required is what fires up those trees to be sustainable and grow. Plus it gives you a great excuse to travel!
#5 Travel somewhere you find a little uncomfortable: We’d all like to spend time on a European holiday relaxing in the sunshine with not a care in the world. While those holidays are great, it’s also good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a holiday that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. It can be somewhere with a different culture, a different language, or maybe just a different timezone but in any case, it’s somewhere that will help you to develop a cultural awareness and give you personal growth. Ideas include spending time meditating in India, or volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! We’re not saying find somewhere unsafe, just something that pushes you a little outside your comfort zone; that’s where the magic happens.
#6 Start saving and pay off your debt: In the day and age of credit cards it seems all too easy to just buy things that you can’t afford “right now” in the hope/anticipation that you will get the money in the future. Some of the most successful people have cut up their credit cards and live ONLY off what they have in the bank. Having debt on a credit card not only puts you behind the eight ball for future savings but it acts like a constant dark cloud of any spending. Work out a 1 month, 6 month, 12 month plan of paying off the debt and then start to put away savings each week for something in your longer term plans. It’s amazing what just a little bit now adds up to.
#7 Find an interesting hobby: Do you have a hobby at the moment? You’d be one of the few. It’s amazing to talk to people who HAVE a hobby compared to those who don’t. The passion and flow of conversation that a hobby can create is contagious and extremely attractive. It could be something extravagant like sailing, or something simple like cooking. In either case, it’s something that inspires you and drives you to learn.
#8 Learn how to cook: You don’t have to be on Masterchef but learning how to cook can change your life. Not only will your finances be much better off if you’re not having weeknight dinners out and brunches every Saturday but you’ll know what’s going into the foods you’re eating and be in a greater position to meet your health goals. Plus, doing a cooking class or course is a fun outing to do with friends!
#9 Complete a sporting event: This doesn’t have to just be for the fitness fanatics out there! There are LOTS of sporting events available for any level from a 5km fun run to an ironman triathlon. Participating in a sporting event gives you a goal to work towards and also provides a great personal sense of achievement when you complete it. Once you start, it often creates the momentum for bigger and better ones in the future and you can introduce some fun competition with others to get involved.
#10 Give your time: Purpose and passion are two of the greatest traits that we are all in search of. While it’s not possible for us all to have our dream job that means we wake up looking forward to Monday’s, we can however determine what happens during our own time. Volunteering your time for a cause near and dear to you will heighten your own sense of worth but also provide an invaluable asset to those in need. Even better, make it a regular occurrence; do it once a week, a month, or even a year.
This list goes fundamentally to your self development to help you to be a better person not only for others, but also for yourself. If we stop growing, we die, both in the physical and the mental sense. So keep striving for better.
This week we’re interviewing Kat Jacob. Kat’s a passionate personal trainer who is doing some amazing things with her own training. She works with many corporate clients, so this week we’re talking to her about how exercise can help relieve stress and what types of exercise are best for that whether you’re a beginner or more advanced.
So let’s jump right into this interview with Kat:
So Kat, tell us a little about your background and how you became a personal trainer?
I’ve been passionate about health and fitness for as long as I can remember; I always loved being active and been interested in nutrition. Over the last few years I found that my ‘actual’ job – Event Producer – was impacting more and more on that lifestyle; the years of working long hours and late nights started to take its toll and I became stressed and sick.
I started questioning whether I was in the right job – I was producing amazing events, but it started to feel meaningless and the risk of giving up a safe income and changing careers very quickly became less scary than the thought of staying in the events industry for the rest of my life.
I happened to be introduced to the right person at around that time, which led me to take the leap and start on my journey to becoming a PT. I have now quit the events industry altogether and can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve made – there are challenging times and the money is nowhere near the same yet, but I am a much happier & healthier person and finally feel like I’m helping people change their lives in a positive way.
That certainly is a leap of faith! You now do a range of different training regimes yourself? Can you tell us a little more about them and why you do so many?
I love having variety in my workouts – it keeps me motivated and to me is much more fun than doing the same thing every day. I’m also a big believer in that we need to keep challenging our bodies to get stronger & fitter – by exposing it to a variety of activities & exercises we allow our bodies to grow in a much broader way. It also helps aid recovery between big sessions to give those movement patterns you just worked very hard a break and get the body moving in a different way.
The majority of my training is based on Gymnastic Strength Training – lots of handstands, bodyweight strength training, rings etc. with a big focus on mobility. There is a lot of variety within this style of training, and I love the strategic approach of working towards set goals (i.e. a muscle up) – it pushes me to get better and work hard. I like mixing things up on my rest days with touch football, surfing / swimming, hiking or the odd run.
Wow that certainly is a lot! How do you keep up with all your different training schedules with so much going on? What’s your secret tip for fitting it all in?
I’m actually German and used to be an event producer so being organised comes with the territory! But in all seriousness, for me it’s all about planning ahead and having a set schedule of what to do when & where. I plan my sessions in 6 week cycles, and each session is written down so when I go to the gym I just need to open up that notebook and know exactly what I’ve got to do that day to stay on track.
It means I don’t have to think about it when I get there but can focus my energy on the session, and it holds me accountable on those days where I’m feeling tired. I also meet up with a mate a couple of times a week and we train together – we teach each other new stuff, play with different exercises, spot each other and just generally make sure the other one pushes (or rests!) when we need to.
That’s a great tip about planning your workouts in advance. It takes the effort out of trying to think what you’re going to do when you actually get to the gym which sometimes feels like half the workout!
So this month we’re talking a lot about stress and mental health. Can you tell us how exercise helps with that?
Exercise is proven to reduce our bodies stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – and stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in our brain that act as natural pain killers and help lift our mood.
Exercise can also help take your mind off things and shift your focus, and some exercises can in fact be a form of moving meditation – running or long power walks tend to do that for me! It can be a great way to get in some ‘me-time’ to create the space to think things through or just find the time to breather and switch off.
Exercising regularly makes you want to eat healthier too, which in turn helps reducing the stress, as your body will be fuelled with the right nutrients to help cope with stress.
For some statistics on the connection between physical exercise and mental health, check out the Waves of Wellness Foundation. Interestingly, research has shown that physical activities can sometimes be more beneficial for patients with mental health than a strictly clinical approach; after working with the ‘One Wave’ charity Joel Pilgrim founded ‘Waves of Wellness’ based on this approach, a non for profit that helps people struggling with mental health to find an outlet through surf therapy.
Exercise helps people to feel better about themselves, and the community & their support that comes with sports and exercise groups can provide a sense of belonging too.
So there are a lot of benefits and some great statistics to back it up!
One of the biggest concerns our clients tell us is that they don’t have enough TIME to fit in exercise. How would you overcome that?
I think the most important thing is to find a type of exercise you love – if you really enjoy something and it makes you happy, you will find it much easier to make the time.
The gym isn’t for everyone – try team sports, swimming, cycling, yoga, tennis etc. and figure out which activity makes exercise fun and not just a chore you feel obliged to do for health reasons.
Also, think about why you want to exercise – to feel healthier, to be able to keep up with your kids, or because you want to learn a new skill? It’ll help your motivation and keep you going on the days where it gets hard.
That’s so true, you have to find something you love. Exercise can’t be seen as another chore in our lives – we just won’t do it. Plus we work with clients consistently to re-identify their ‘why’ for all their goals. It’s just one of the best ways to keep them motivated and pushing forward!
So what are the best exercises to be doing to get in a quick, efficient and sweat inducing workout?
My go to for a quick and efficient workout is a bodyweight circuit (think lots of animal movements like bear crawls, ape walks, frog squats, caterpillar walks and bodyweight pushing & pulling exercises. followed by some max sprint efforts –it’ll get your heart pumping & the sweat going while working your entire body.
And what if I’m a beginner and never really exercised before, is there anything different that I should be doing?
The most important thing is to ease yourself into it – you don’t want to go so hard that you’re hurting for days as that’s the best way to stop yourself from wanting to go back.
If you’re unsure about technique or completely new to something, I’d recommend taking a few classes to learn the ropes and make sure you’re getting it right from the outset. It’s harder to fix bad habits than learning from scratch, and the right technique can make the difference between reaping the benefits or getting injured.
Stuart McGill, a professor of spine mechanics said “First move well, then move often.” and I 100% agree with that statement. Other than that – get out there, try lots of different things and find the kind of exercise that makes you keep coming back.
That’s it isn’t it. Just try something! But don’t go too hard. So many people go out really hard in that first week and when they can’t walk think “I’m never doing that again!”. It’s just best to build it up.
Ok so the other end of the spectrum, what if I’m quite advanced, how can I keep pushing the intensity and make sure I’m making progress?
Add some variety to your workouts by taking it into a different environment (i.e. outdoors or vice versa), add new movements into your sessions, look at ways to achieve your goals by trying a new approach.
Let’s say you want to learn how to handstand – don’t just keep kicking up again and again, look at what other skills and strength you might need to achieve that handstand and work on those – for example your shoulder mobility, core strength etc. It adds diversity while still working towards your main goal, helping to get there faster.
Another option is to find a training partner or group, a bit of healthy competition can go a long way in stepping up your game and it may expose you to some new ideas.
Yes healthy competition is definitely a great way to up the anti! We’ve talked about that previously for finding your training soulmate!
Ok final question, what would be your top three tips for a corporate worker trying to integrate three exercise sessions during the week?
One thing that can make a big difference is getting the exercise in first thing in the morning – that way it’s done and no matter what the day throws at you or how tired you are after work, you will have had your exercise. Plus it’s a nice way to start the day rather than rolling from bed onto a chair and sit down right away, it’ll get your body and your mind going.
I know it can be challenging when you work long hours or have kids to get back to, so you could try to incorporate exercise in your day in a way that makes it easy and doesn’t leave much room for excuses. When I was still in events, I used to run home from work at least a couple times a week – depending on the route I’d get a good 45 – 60min run in and with traffic taking the bus would’ve taken the same time. Or you could walk the first 5km before getting on the train home, cycle to and from work or give a lunchtime class a go. Travel a lot? Pack your trainers, most hotels have a gym & pool, or you can go for a walk and explore the area.
If your week gets the better of you, get moving on the weekends! If you have kids, get them involved – go for a bike ride, play soccer in the park…there are so many options. Find the most convenient option for your lifestyle and make it a part of your routine – trust me, you will be more productive as a result and feel better for it!
There’s always a way if you make it a priority right! Thanks so much Kat that was really helpful.
Well readers we hope you all got something useful out of that and you’re all going to kickstart your workouts to feel the benefits!
For the month of March, we’re talking about stress, and the ways that we can manage it. Stress is something that we can’t avoid, but if we learn the tools and techniques to control it, then we can go a long way to creating a healthier and happier life.
It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but exercise can be one of the best measures to immediately and sustainably reduce stress. After all, exercise is known to increase cortisol – the stress hormone – so how can it also manage it?
On the one hand, stress weakens the brain, particularly the part responsible for your memory. Conversely, exercise promotes the production of neuro-hormones that are responsible for learning, and improved cognitive function. So we now know that just by increasing your heart rate through exercise, you can start to immediately reduce the impacts of stress. There are a few other positives that you can get from exercise that relate to reducing stress:
1. It creates a sense of calm. Stress can really take control of your life. When you think about your never-ending ‘to-do list’ in both your work and personal life, everything can feel somewhat overwhelming and cause the body to try and shut down. Regular exercise can provide structure to your otherwise chaotic life. It is a great way to train the body to get into a rhythm, and as human beings we crave this.
2. It gives you a hit of the ‘feel good’ hormone. When we’re stressed, our self-confidence often takes a hit. Exercise helps to boost the production of endorphins, so that ‘high’ that you get after you exercise (and often for hours after) is not imagined. It improves your confidence and your decision making abilities to keep you switched on for the whole day.
3. It helps with your breathing. Ancient wisdom used to count a persons life by the number of breaths they took, so learning techniques to slow down the breathing were highly regarded. When we exercise, it forces the body to learn how to take deeper and more controlled breaths and be more efficient with oxygen. The more efficient your body becomes with regular exercise, the better your breathing. When we have calm and controlled breathing, we feel physically and mentally calmer and in control.
4. It helps your heart. Heart issues are one of the biggest killers in Australia. While exercise is a great way to get over a broken heart, it also helps with your physical heart health. Linked to #3, when you start to breathe diaphragmatic (nice deep breaths into the belly), the diaphragm gives the heart a gentle massage. This massage keeps the heart beating in a controlled and consistent manner and is also a sign to the body to switch on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) where our body focuses on digesting and resting.
5. It will improve your sleep. This one is all but guaranteed. Not only does the research tell us that exercise helps us to sleep, but I’ve SEEN it in all of my clients. I had clients who were previously on multiple sleeping pills and potions be able to wean themselves off them all just from taking up exercise. The benefits of getting a good nights sleep are second to none!
So if you’re feeling stressed, try to get moving. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous gym class or bootcamp (though they are great). Something as simple as walking regularly is shown to have access to all of the above benefits. A walk around the block before an important meeting can be a great way to calm the nerves, or a run after work can be one of the best ways to de-stress after a busy day. Exercise is one of the BEST remedies you can implement to manage your stress – and it’s FREE!
Research has recently come to light that if you live in a neighbourhood surrounded by trees, shrubs, and chirping birds, then there is less chance for you to suffer from anxiety or stress.
According to researchers, lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon. But can it really be that simple?
People are increasingly spending time indoors, and with the majority of the day for most spent inside at a computer, it’s no wonder that we’re starting to see the health detriments to society.
The link between the role of nature for our mental well-being has long been established, yet many still fail to get their daily dose of the outside world.
There are several ways that you can try to up the dose of nature in your daily life:
1. Exercise outdoors. Gym memberships can be an astronomical cost, with some gyms demanding up to $100 a week from some of their members. Exercise doesn’t have to be such a costly exercise, AND doing it outdoors gives you a considerable chunk of your day connecting with nature. Go for a walk / jog / run, complete a circuit in your local park, join an outdoor bootcamp at lunchtime; the options are out there!
2. Take a break. I actually think smokers have this one down pat the best. While I don’t advocate for smoking in any way, the one thing that they do best is take breaks regularly outside! Back in my corporate life, I used to get the smokers of the office to come and take me on their ‘smoko breaks’ as a reminder to get outside. As long as I stood upwind, it was a great chance for me to get a few extra minutes outside with nature and re-centre before heading back into the office. A great way to boost your productivity as well!
3. Implement outdoor meetings. I’ve spoken about this before, but on top of having walking meetings (or if that’s not possible), get your meetings outside. Technology has meant that we can be very mobile and portable with our ideas, so take the meeting to a café with an outdoor area, or meet in a bigger space that has access to sunshine and all the elements. It’s amazing how refreshed you’ll feel afterwards compared to being stuck in an air-conditioned building.
4. Convert your commute. We often become so stuck in our ways that we forget the various options we have for commuting. You can walk/jog/run all or part of the way, ride a bike, ride a skateboard/scooter, get creative! Getting up that little bit earlier or getting home just that little bit later will be worth it for your mental and physical health.
5. Bring nature to you. While working outside or out of an office is not a reality for all of us, we can try and bring some of the elements from the outside in. Invest in a plant or succulent that you can have in the office and encourage others to ‘green up’ the space. Research has shown that just looking at nature can help you to feel more relaxed, so when that deadline is becoming overwhelming, or you’ve received a passive aggressive email from a colleague, or your boss is breathing down your neck, you just need a few minutes staring at something green and natural to calm the mind.
So while the headline grab of ‘birds improve mental health’ may be a little simplified, this study does uncover the role primary components of nature contribute toward our mental health. Integrating nature into our daily lives highlights the benefits of preventative healthcare and encourages us as a society to make our cities a healthier place to live.
The world has become a pretty unstable and unsettling place at the moment – Donald Trump is in charge of the most powerful country in the world, the UK is in negotiation to leave the rest of the EU, and war continues to rage in the Middle East. One sitting of the news and you’re likely to walk away feeling more down than when you started.
In a time where we’re experiencing the highest standard of living in history, paradoxically we’re also more depressed, anxious and unhappy.
First things first, we need to take care of ourselves. I’m not saying this out of selfishness, or from a ‘every man from himself’ perspective. I’m talking about learning to create happiness and peace from within that can radiate onto others and create a ripple effect. There’s a reason they get you to fit your own oxygen mask on a plane before others – you won’t be able to get someone else’s mask on if you’re not breathing!
So here are the top 6 things that you need to be doing for yourself regularly in 2017. I’m not saying that these things will change the world, but they will definitely help YOU to feel happier, healthier and a more altruistic human.
1. Breathe. It’s amazing how many people aren’t breathing to its full potential. I used to be one of them. I used to just keep all the oxygen in my chest, and not expand the breath into my diaphragm and lower abdomen. When you start to breathe diaphragmatically, the PNS system (learn more on this here) is switched on, and your body starts to relax. It’s great to mindfully breathe like this first thing in the morning and last thing at night before you go to sleep for about five minutes. This will help you to subconsciously breathe like this throughout the day as well. It’s amazing what 5 minutes of deep breathing can do for your mental and physical health!
2. Fuel your body. It’s easy to forget that the reason we eat is to provide fuel to the body. The balance between eating for pleasure and eating for survival has swung considerably to the former and this is having ramifications. Try to make at least one meal a day focused on fuelling for nutrition. Eat nutrient dense foods – like fruits and vegetables – and try and eat as close to the natural source as possible. Processing of foods has changed considerably, and it’s hard to know what’s been added when you can’t understand the ingredients!
3. Move more. Unless you’re an ultra athlete, we could ALL do with more movement. Our sedentary lifestyle has us sitting down more than ever. Unfortunately, one hour of intentional exercise has been shown as not enough to combat the effects of sitting at a desk all day. So we need to start integrating movement throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to/from work or a portion of the journey, or go for walking meetings instead of sit down coffees. Do whatever it takes to make that magic 10,000 step number. It’s not in any way easy, but it’s very rewarding for your body.
4. Learn to meditate. If there is only ONE thing that you do this year, learn to meditate. There are yoga studios and meditation centres popping up everywhere, and plenty of resources online that can teach you the fundamentals – I have even made a recording for you here. If you’re already meditating, make it a goal to foster your practice. I could go on and on about the benefits of meditation (and I do so here) but for the sake of this blog, just realise that meditation is one of THE BEST forms of self-care out there. It takes as little as 5 minutes a day, and it can be life changing. Trust me on this one.
5. Embrace minimalism. I have blogged on this already (and will probably continue to!) and it seems to be quite an emerging theme for me (and plenty of others) in 2017. It seems that an excess of ‘stuff’ is manifesting our discontent, and there is no end in sight in the hunt for something new. Cleanout your wardrobe (learn how to here) or de-clutter your office space. Just spend time over the next year clearing the physical to allow the mental space for growth.
6. Sleep. At the end of the day it can feel like there’s just not enough time to do any of those self-care activities. I wouldn’t blame you for telling me so! The proverbial ‘to do list’ continues to grow, and despite the number of items we tick off, it never seems to end. One thing you CAN do that doesn’t require an extra item on the to do list is to sleep. I mean, force yourself at least 7-9 hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT. I can hear you groaning through your computer “who has that much time to sleep?”. The change makers do and so do you. The plane and oxygen analogy is most pertinent here. You will be so much more productive, have so much more energy, be capable of achieving so much more in less time, IF you get more sleep. Try it for a week and see what happens…
Now this may seem like a lot but even if you just pick ONE of these things to do this year, the transformation may just surprise you.
It’s the end of the first month of 2017. How did you go with sticking to your intentions and goals? I never let my clients set NYE Resolutions because the stats on the conversion of these is so terrible! Instead, we set intentions and bite-sized goals that we start on right away.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see with goal setting is people missing the “M” from the S.M.A.R.T memo. They’re not measurable. It’s great to have big dreams and intentions with your health goals, but if they aren’t measurable, then you can never know whether you’ve actually achieved it!
I love this time of year to do some fitness testing with my clients in order to set new goals. We usually retest after a 10-12 week cycle in order to see how they have progressed!
Below are my favourite fitness tests that you can try out yourselves:
1.The beep test
An oldie but a goodie. The beep test helps us to measure your cardiovascular fitness level or VO² max.
-Set up a 20m course marked with lines or witches hats
-Download an app with the pre-recorded audio for the beep at each interval
-Each successive beep decreases the interval, meaning the speed to run between the two points must increase
-You are allowed one warning if you miss the beep, but a subsequent miss means the test is over
-The level achieved PRIOR to the beep missed is then recorded as your score
-Make sure you are well hydrated
-Ensure that you have not had a snack or a meal within 1 to 2 hours before the test, but that you have eaten that day
-Pace yourself so you do not fatigue
-Only one foot needs to touch the line which can reduce the distance you need to cover
Fun fact: applicants to the police force must achieve level 7.1 or higher!
2.The Push-up Test
We’re looking here at your dynamic muscular endurance of the upper body. Technique is most important here, and push-
ups which do not meet the criteria will not be counted.
-Decide whether push-ups will be performed on your toes or your knees
-Perform the maximum number of push-ups without rest
-The test is stopped when you are unable to maintain technique for two repetitions
-Each repetition must have your chest – not your abdomen – touching the floor
-When you have chosen which level – knees or toes – stick to that for the whole test
-Keep your core switched on the whole time for stability
-Place hands shoulder width apart and no wider
Fun fact: Guinness Book of Records lists the most push ups in one hour as 2,220 by Carlton Williams from Wales UK.
The feat was achieved on 25 July 2015 in Margaret River, Western Australia.
3.Abdominal Curl-Up Test
The curl-up test measures abdominal muscular strength and endurance of the abdominals and hip flexors. These are
important for your back support and stability, so a really important indicator.
-Lie on your back with knees at 90 degrees.
-Set a timer for 1 minute
-Perform as many as possible without pausing yet with good technique
-Exhale as you come up and inhale as you lie back down
-Don’t use your arms to pull you up – that’s cheating!
-Try and go at a slow and consistent pace rather than starting out too hard
Fun fact: the research coming out shows that your abdominal muscles are responsible for good posture. These muscles
are used during our daily life activities and during a workout. Researchers have confirmed that those with a strong core
and lower back do not get injured as much as those without.
These are just three goals that you may set yourself to achieve in terms of your fitness! Have fun testing and measuring.
The annual survey of worldwide fitness trends is now in its 11th year! I always can’t wait to read up on it because not only do they predict what’s coming for the next year, but they also reflect back on previous years to see how people’s predictions played out. It’s very interesting to note that there are two new trends in the top 10 for 2017!
While I would LOVE to go through each of them individually, I thought I’d post the list and instead discuss some of the ones that you’d find most interesting and would potentially have an impact on you!
Number one on the list is perhaps not surprisingly Wearable Technology. Think Fitbits, smart watches, GPS trackers, and smart eyeglasses! While the jury is out as to whether these devices actually increase the amount of exercise we do, as a former researcher, there is definitely power in the idea of tracking your activity to at least know what has been done. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy expensive technology, as your smartphone also provides many free options for tracking a lot of your activity (and as a trend is in at # 17) but use the options available! The Apple watch alone is predicted to reach over 485 million device sales by the year 2018 so this is a trend that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon!
Number two on the list is also quite interesting with Body Weight Training. While this type of training has been around for centuries as a form of resistance training, it didn’t appear on the trends survey until 2013! It’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways to exercise and great for outdoor bootcamps or your own workout at home! Now with a newly packaged name by the commercial gyms, it’s a trend that should stick around for a while yet.
Number seven on the list is Exercise is Medicine ®, which is a global health initiative focused on encouraging health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for their patients. Fundamentally it is an attempt to bridge the gap between traditional medicine and fitness professionals, which is something I can’t believe is only just beginning to happen! We all know the benefits of exercise in treatment of many chronic yet preventable diseases, but it’s an implementation gap for a patient that’s the issue. This is one that I’m really supporting and excited to be a part of in the coming years.
Number twelve is my favourite type of training – functional fitness. Its premise is to use strength training to improve power, endurance, coordination, and balance, to improve the ability to perform normal daily living activities. There’s still a lot of misunderstanding around functional fitness, but I like to think of it as focusing on the movements I may need in my daily routine (think squatting down to pick up something heavy) versus training just for aesthetics (think bicep curls). Functional fitness has been fluctuating on the list since 2007 but I think with people becoming more sedentary, fitness needs to be as functional as possible to keep our bodies moving and mobile!
Number fifteen on the list is my daily work – wellness coaching. Wellness coaching has been in the top 20 since 2010 and has been progressively making its way up the list since then. For those new to my website, wellness coaching is the integration of behavioural-change science with healthy initiatives. Like a personal trainer, a wellness coach works with people to achieve their broader goals, through focusing on their values, needs, visions, and aspirations. Many people are trying to move into this wellness-coaching arena with little to no qualifications or practical training in ‘coaching’, so be mindful of who you work with. It’s definitely one of the most exciting trends though and who doesn’t want someone motivating and challenging you along your life path?!
The final number that I believe relates to you is sixteen with Worksite Health Promotion. The foundation of a corporate wellness program is to improve the health and well-being of employees. Again, this is very much in my domain, but the trend here is for a range of programs and services that evaluate employee health, health care costs, and worker productivity. With rising health care premiums, increased absenteeism in workplaces, and decreasing productivity due to stress, its no wonder that this is an up and coming trend to watch out for!
There’s a very important distinction that is made between a trend and a fad for the purposes of this world wide trends survey. The former is defined as ‘a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving’ whereas the latter is ‘a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period’. So this survey is really looking at the change in people’s behaviours as a whole that can last a considerable period of time.
Full list below:
|Body weight training
|High-intensity interval training
|Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals
|Exercise is Medicine ®
|Exercise and weight loss
|Fitness programs for older adults
|Group personal training
|Worksite health promotion
|Smartphone exercise apps
|Flexibility and mobility rollers
Do you dread your exercise regime at the moment? Sick of the same old classes at your local gym? Or over your weekly runs that are on the same route? When exercise becomes mundane and boring not only does your body plateau but so does the mind. We’ve been told for so long that once you find exercise that you like you should stick to it – rinse and repeat. But I think there’s a reason there are so many new fitness trends that come up in the market place; we’re always looking for new and exciting ways to challenge the body and the mind!
In my thesis about behavioural change with physical activity, one of the significant barriers to people exercising is “I find it difficult to find the best type of exercise for me”. There are so many different options out there, that it can often become overwhelming to know which one is ‘right’ for you.
I seem to have an 18 month threshold on any one type of exercise. I’ve been through lots of different options from F45 to Fitness First, yoga studios, run clubs, gymnastics training, outdoor bootcamps… the list is endless. My latest adventure is a new gym which is a ‘softer’ form of crossfit and I’m very excited to get started! Everyone’s threshold is different. I have some clients who can only last 6 months at one activity before needing to move onto the next, whereas others last 5 or even 10 years at a type of exercise before they get bored.
Realise that our bodies craves change, and the minute it realises that “I’ve done this before” you start to lose progress. Our bodies want to constantly grow and evolve and in order to do that we need to mix up the exercise we throw at it.
I work with my clients on a cyclical four step process outlined below when looking to challenge the body:
1 Experiment with four different options for one month.
Fortunately these days most places will have a one or two week trial that is either for free or for a small fee. Take advantage of this and experiment with four different options that are outside of your comfort zone. You can try a new gym, or a new sporting club (think tennis), or calisthenic training, there are really so many options! Try something new that you’ve never thought you could do. Be open minded and excited by the adventure of finding your new challenge.
2 Choose the one you will commit to.
It’s easy to just pick the one you like, or the one your friend likes, but you really need to find the type of exercise that you will commit to. The one that you’ll want to go to on a Monday morning after a relaxing weekend, or even that you’d like to try on a Saturday morning perhaps. The exercise that is ‘right’ for you means what you enjoy doing. Exercise should be play time for adults. We shouldn’t view it like ‘work’. It should be time to destress, unwind, suck in the good stuff (oxygen!) and sweat out the bad things (toxins!).
3 Rinse and repeat until…
Now you can rinse and repeat. When you’ve found the ‘chosen one’ throw yourself at it. Become a master of that type of exercise. Treat it like you’re studying for those final exams and you need to put in as much of yourself as you can. As long as you’re enjoying it, it won’t feel like work (it might be hard but it shouldn’t feel like work!). Only when you start to get bored or dread rocking up should you move onto step four.
4 Repeat steps 1 to 3.
If you’re waking up and dreading exercise its time to move back to step 1 again. Thank that chapter of your exercise adventure for everything great that it’s given to you and allow yourself to explore where the next exercise wave will be.
There are so many options out there now to try and your body will LOVE you for it. Keeping the body active while challenging the mind with new exercises will keep your training dynamic and growing.
If you want to try out Energy|Body|Mind’s corporate bootcamps which create strong bodies and strong minds, email me at email@example.com for our Holiday Season special!
But recently, two big players have called for unprecedented action in the corporate setting to improve employee wellbeing. Jeff Kennett, former Premier and chairman of BeyondBlue, has come out saying that performance bonuses of top executives should be partially linked to the mental wellbeing of their staff. HALLELUJAH!
This wave comes to light as a new NAB/IPSOS survey showed Australians regard happiness as the topmost measure of success, followed by good family relationships, feeling fit and healthy, and being a ‘good person.’
Kennett has put mental wellbeing on the same page in significance as family violence and bullying. “At a part of Australia’s history where we’re trying to address family violence, where we’re trying to address bullying, where we’re trying to address good mental health practices, it is time for industry leaders big and small to give the mental health of their workforce the same priority they would give any other measurable figure,” Kennett said.
As a result of this passion, Kennett put a proposal in front of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) saying that companies should introduce key performance indicators (KPIs) for chief executives and other staff to ensure the mental health within organisations is maintained. BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott agreed the issue needs to be taken seriously.
In response to critics that mental wellbeing is too subjective and unmeasurable, Kennett has rejected this claim. He counters with the facts, stating that lost productivity costs the economy $10.9 billion a year. Westacott agrees saying that “These things at the bottom line result in unplanned absenteeism, they cost businesses money,” and “They’re not just feel-good things. These are real economic things. That’s why the Business Council is interested and passionate about this.”
Kennett says the way he envisages improving wellbeing includes statements like “What I would like to see in every head of department of a bureaucracy, in every CEO’s performance, and every direct report’s KPIs, is a KPI about the mental health, the wellbeing, of their workforce, of those that report to them,” and “When you talk about pay performance, when you talk about bonuses, particularly, I want to see a KPI in place that addresses this, because that will focus their mind more than anything else.”
This importance on mental health and wellbeing is not just for employees, but for senior management as well. Throughout his career, Kennett recounts countless incidents of C-Level Executives struggling with burnout. Kennett told the Australian, “I have had a number of organisations in the last two years, three years, where a CEO, a CFO, a COO has hit the wall, and the ramifications on the small leadership group is obviously quite profound, not to mention the impact on the business”.
This is a huge step for addressing the mental wellbeing of Australia, and putting at the forefront the happiness of our nation. Happy and satisfied people will result not only in a more productive workplace, but also with better relationships, more financial security, and a healthier society.
So what does this mean for your business or workplace? It means that it’s time to get serious about mental health and have programs and policies in place to be in front of the pack. Enlist the help of a health coach, exercise specialist, mental wellbeing expert (someone like me!) to help customise a program that meets the KPIs that your organisation is going to enlist to promote the wellbeing of it’s employees.
I am really excited about watching this one progress, so stay tuned for updates and we can see where this movement gets us!
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Ever woken up early to go on a 20 minute run and then spent the rest of the workday rewarding yourself for your efforts with food? I used to use food like my bronze, silver and gold medals. If I did a 30 minutes workout, you got a bronze medal – a kids size snickers bar. If I did 45 minutes, I’d win the silver medal – a white bread bagel with cream cheese. If I did 60 minutes I’d won gold – a burger. I realised that this dangling carrot reward based system is unhealthy for the body and the mind, so I wanted to learn more about why we use food as a reward and how to stop it. There is a curious theology behind the post workout binge, which seems to be both a physical and psychological reaction.
Why We Use Food As A Reward
When we exercise, our bodies release the feel good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin, and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Those hormones make us feel invincible and like we have run a marathon. We perceive ourselves as healthier and slimmer right away, and think the benefits from exercise will be immediate. Exercise can also trigger hunger, so it’s often not your imagination that you feel more hungry after you exercise. Therefore, on a physical level, we think we can eat more to satisfy our hunger and ‘replenish’ the energy we have lost through exercise.
Emotionally, when we exercise it makes us feel satisfied, accomplished and deserving of reward. Hard effort has been mentally connected to the need for reward. If we work hard in the corporate setting, we expect a promotion, a pay rise or at the very least some recognition. The same goes for exercise. We perceive that the effort put into training requires reward, and as a result, we use food as a way to mentally satisfy ourselves.
Why We Shouldn’t Use Food As A Reward
In relation to the physical side, the number of calories that you actually burn while exercising is surprisingly small. The fact is, even the most intense workout is not an excuse to indulge on sugary treats and carbohydrates. Plus, when you consume these type of carbohydrates, it creates a vicious cycle where it actually makes you even more hungry! Sugar interferes with ghrelin and leptin which are the hormones that signal to your body when it is full. Throw out these hormones and you will never feel satisfied.
A majority of people grossly overestimate the amount they are burning in any given workout while simultaneously overindulging on foods that you may not normally eat. The table below has approximate figures on what you are likely to burn and equated to the amount we can ‘reward’ with.
Source: © Institute of Integrative Nutrition
It’s not that much is it! If you want to lose weight, you need those 298 calories from your 30 minute jog to burn the calories you’re consuming throughout the day, not going towards an extra reward. You can see that using food as a reward can be extremely detrimental to your health goals.
What To Reward Yourself With Instead
It just becomes a habit to reward ourselves with food or drink. My little medal system was comfortable and satisfying (even if temporarily). But as I began to understand the harm it was causing, I started to look for alternatives. I also had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to reward myself for every workout. Setting goals and having milestones that needed to be reached before a reward was given made it seem much more worth the effort.
Below are my three top rewards that I now use for myself when I reach my exercise related goals:
#1 Workout Gear
What better way to reward yourself than with new workout gear? When milestones are reached (like a new weight goal, a new PB for lifting, or a race run well), reward yourself with some new training clothes, shoes or accessories. Again, you can stagger the levels depending on how big the achievement has been, and you can buy something small like a new running hat, or splurge on a new pair of running shoes. The benefit here is two fold; not only do you get something tangible that you can keep as a reward, but it also spurs you onto a new goal because you want to use the new workout gear! It’s a win win.
#2 Indulge Yourself
There are lots of ways to indulge that don’t include food. For the ladies, rewarding yourself with a manicure, or a hair styling session, or new makeup is a great way to reap the benefits from your exercise goals. For the gents, go and buy some new sporting equipment (a new golf club, or tennis racket, or wakeboard), take a weekend trip with some friends, or buy a new accessory or clothes for work like some nice cufflinks or a suit. Again here, when you’ve set milestones that take time and effort to achieve, a gratuitous reward can make all the difference for reaching the goal in the first place!
Sometimes, a little bit of recognition of reaching your fitness goal is all you really need. Like in the workplace, a ‘thank-you’ or ‘well done’ from the boss actually can mean a whole lot more than a job title change. Use recognition for your fitness goals as well. This can be something public, like posting on social media after a race or after your weight loss goal, and sharing with your family and friends how well you’re doing. You’re sure to get a lot of recognition through that! But there is also internal recognition. Write down the feelings that you are experiencing from reaching that goal, and focus on what has motivated you to get here, and what will push you for the next goal.
Exercising is wonderful, and the endorphins and energy that you get is now enough for my weekly routine. Instead, with milestones, celebrate the wins (small or big) through non-food rewards, and see your progress skyrocket.