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Summer swaps

May 22, 2018

It’s not just about the exercise you do, shaping up for the summer must be a whole-body plan. One that involves your sleep, your mental health, and your diet. There’s no point putting all those hours in at the studio toning up, if you haven’t thought about other areas of your life too. As summer gets closer we want you to be in the best shape both mentally and physically, ready for the holidays! This week I’m sharing a few handy hacks, where often simple substitutions or just thinking about the choices you make can make all the difference.

Drink Swaps
The Coffee Swap- There are 190 calories in a Starbuck Grande Latte but only 15 calories in a Starbucks Americano. You can still get your caffeine fix, just be mindful of the extra milky ones that add significant calories.

The Tea Swap- Peppermint tea is a great swap just before you head off on hols to banish the bloat and make sure you show off all your hard work with those abs! If you still need caffeine, green tea is a great alternative to black tea. It will give you the caffeine fix but has additional benefits because it is high in antioxidants which can help with long term weight loss.

The Soft Drink Swap- Swap diet drinks for sparkling water and add a slice of lime for an extra boost of vitamin C. By choosing water over low calorie drinks, you will avoid the sugary cravings for sweet things that will come shortly after a diet drink.

Dinner Time Swaps
Lunch Swaps – try making a little extra dinner the night before. Often the main meal you prepared before will be much more nutritious than a shop bought sandwich. If you have to buy a sandwich, opt for a wrap instead of more traditional bread.
Swap Rice for Vegetables – my favourite alternative to rice is to make cauliflower rice. By swapping simple carbohydrates out and vegetables in, it means you get a more nutritious meal and it will also count towards your 5 a day.
Swap Multi-tasking for Mindful eating- It has been shown that if you are watching TV whilst you eat, you tend to eat more. Try concentrating solely on the meal you are having, this allows you to notice the appetite cues from your body, meaning you only eat what you need. Turn off the TV, put away your phone and simply relax and enjoy your food.

Snacks Swaps
Swap out Refined Sugar- Try to think ahead. The biggest reason we reach for sugary snacks is because we have left it too long before we eat. If you know your next meal is going to be over four hours away, aim to have something like a handful of nuts, a couple of oatcakes or some dried fruit, to fill the hunger gap and kerb those sugary cravings. If you leave it too late, your blood sugar levels will drop, and it will be much harder to turn down that big doughnut!

Swap Biscuits for Energy Balls- If you are craving a sweet fix, swap your biscuits or chocolate for an energy ball. Often packed with dates, energy balls will give you the sweet taste you desire but with none of the refined sugar. My favourite recipe for energy balls is here:

Amy’s utterly nutterly cocoa energy balls

Ingredients:

125g Soft dates

100g Chopped almonds

75g Rolled oats

2tsp Nut butter (almond or peanut work well)

1tbsp Cocoa powder

To coat:

Pick your favourites! I love finely chopped pistachios, dried fruit, desiccated coconut, cocoa powder or dark chocolate chips.

Method:

Put the dates, chopped almonds, oats, almond butter and cocoa powder into a food processor and blend until the nuts are crushed and the mixture is fully blended.

Take a small amount of the mixture and roll it between your hands to make bite sized balls. (This recipe makes between 12-15 energy balls).

Once rolled, choose your coating. Place the coating in a bowl and roll the ball around until covered.

 

They only take about ten minutes to make and even my toddler loves them!

Sleep habit swaps
Swap out Technology at Bedtime- Switch your phone or tablet for a real book and a small bedside light for a better night’s sleep. Leave your devices outside your bedroom so that you are not tempted to flick through your apps and wake up your mind. And maybe swap that extra hour of TV for a lovely hot, bubble bath or an early night.
These are some of my favourite habits and swaps for a healthier body and mind. Do you have any small daily changes that are making big changes in your life? What is working best for you on your summer plan? We would love to hear what is working for you!

 

We are nearly half way through May, which means you only have two more weeks to bag our amazing summer deal! We have a discounted package on offer right now which is designed to help you feel and look great for summer. Whether you have already started your summer workout or are just thinking about joining us for our beach body offer, I wanted to go back to basics this week and remember why Pilates is so good for you and how it can help you achieve your summer goals.

Why Pilates is great

1. Tone up- Pilates will build tone and definition without bulking you up. If one of your summer goals is a flatter tummy, the exercises can help by engaging and strengthening your deep ab muscles, helping you get a sleek, flat stomach. It can also help build definition in your upper arms, tone up your rear, as well as working on your legs. It is low impact on your joints, so it avoids stressing your body and tones rather than bulks out muscles.

2. Build strength- By regularly engaging the full range of muscles, your body will grow in strength with every workout meaning you will have the power you need in the right areas to help you move in the best possible way.

3. Improved flexibility- I truly believe that even after one class you will feel better. Stretching is a key component of Pilates and something that is hard to find time to do. The benefits are huge, and regular stretching will help maintain long term mobility throughout life.

4. Better posture- As your body gets stronger, you are more able to support a better posture which means you will walk taller and look slimmer. But even in the early days before you have fully gained that strength, Pilates gives you the knowledge and the tools to make changes in everyday life. You’ll find yourself sitting better at your desk and perhaps thinking about how you are lifting and bending, an awareness of which is so important for better habits and improved posture.

5. Mind and Body- The thing I love most about Pilates is that it is a true workout for every part of your body. It is not just the physical exercise which is important, but also the mental work you undertake as well. Pilates is one of the few exercises that works on your mind and your body at the same time.

I could go on! Pilates can help prevent injury, it can help you cross train for other summer sporting events, it can be taken up at any age and it’s a great stress reliever. I’m a passionate advocate of the benefits of Pilates.

If you are curious about what Pilates could do for you this summer, or are wondering about what a class would involve, drop us an email (amy@reformerpilatesbrentwood.co.uk) or pop into the studio and have a chat with me or any one of our friendly instructors. Until the end of May we have a special summer offer, with discounted rates and classes. What better way to come and try it out or get ready for summer? I guarantee Pilates will make you feel great!

 

Three breakfasts to boost your summer fitness programme

 We are regularly told how breakfast is THE most important meal of the day, the one we really shouldn’t skip. But sometimes I feel bored by breakfast. I don’t fancy another bowl of cereal or I am simply running a bit late and I don’t make time for it. Making sure my two kids are both fed and watered before we leave the house is always my priority and somehow along the way my own breakfast gets forgotten. A quick piece of toast or left overs from children’s plates, sound familiar?

But I know this is no way to start my day, and in working towards the summer body I want, I am determined to start making breakfast part of my everyday. Without it I’m more likely to snack unhealthily and if I head straight to a class, I don’t feel I have the energy to exercise to my potential and I know my body doesn’t have what it needs to recover afterwards. Breakfast provides us with the energy to start our day in a better way, it jumpstarts your metabolism and lets your body know that the calories will be coming regularly throughout the day so there is no need to start conserving stores.

In an effort to make breakfast more exciting and help us all get set up for the day, I am sharing with you three tasty and nutritious breakfast options. These are healthy breakfasts which I want to get up for, or ones I have no excuse not to eat as I can prepare them the night before. They’ll give you the energy to start the day well, whether you are heading straight to your Pilates class, or out to work or have an energetic day ahead with the kids. I hope these three recipes bring some variety and excitement to your breakfast times!

Overnight Oats

A super quick, nutritious breakfast which can be prepared five minutes before you go to bed. Just pop it in the fridge and it will be ready and waiting for you in the morning. It also travels really well just in case you need to eat on the go, at your desk or on your way to the studio!

1 mug of oats

100 mls of milk

I mashed up banana

½ tsp of ground cinnamon

2 tsp of maple syrup

1 tsp of chopped hazelnuts

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the mashed banana, maple syrup and milk and mix with a spoon. Place in an airtight container or cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge. In the morning you can add anything extra you like. Things I enjoy are raisins, goji berries, chai seeds or coconut shavings.

Breakfast Smoothie

A smoothie is one of my favourite ways to start the day and I love packing them full of fresh fruit and veg. The recipe below is just a guide, and one that I like, but you can experiment with your own flavours and mixes. However you mix them, smoothies are super healthy and take less than 5 minutes to make.

Two handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

2 handfuls of blueberries (frozen or fresh)

2 teaspoons of nut butter

Half fill with almond milk (or milk of your choice)

Top up with water

Handful of ice

2 teaspoons of chai seeds

Place all the ingredients, except the chia seeds in a blender and blend. Pour the smoothie into a glass and sprinkle the chia seeds on top just before you drink it.

Power Porridge

And if you don’t fancy any of these, how about some of my favourite porridge toppings? There’s always a way to make your porridge taste even better!

Sliced fresh or dried apple, a few raisins, and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Bananas, dried dates and chopped hazelnuts.

Fresh or frozen mixed berries, coconut shavings, chia seeds and a drizzle of honey.

If you have any favourite breakfasts, we would love to hear them! Come inspire us with healthy new ideas, share them in the comments below or share them with us on social media, we are excited to see what gets you going in the morning!

Unlimited classes available starting for 4 weeks in May. To find out more go HERE

Are you joining us on our countdown to summer? At CONOUR we are already excited about the summer holidays. It may seem a little early to be talking about it already, the sun has only just come out after our horrendous winter. But in terms of fitness and exercise plans, now is exactly the right time to be thinking about the summer body you want.

Maybe you’ve already started your summer exercise programme, maybe you are just thinking about getting going, wherever you are with your plans we are here to help. The benefits of having an exercise plan and a goal are immense. A plan can make you accountable and having a schedule in place helps exercise to become a habit, and when it’s a habit your kit is ready, your class is booked and you are much more likely to complete it!

But what happens when life gets in the way and your plans seem to go awry? A few weeks into your summer plan you may get ill, you might have to go away or things could unexpectedly start to ramp up at work, all of which could push your exercise programme onto the back burner. Once you start to fall behind where you want to be, it’s very easy to start feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

We are here to help you through these weeks, when life takes over, when things don’t go to plan and you feel like giving up. The main thing is not to worry! Most studies show that after taking as many as seven days off, there is very little reduction in fitness. Even after two weeks the losses can be minimal. A few short, low intensity sessions when you feel up to it will get you back to where you were.

How to get through setbacks

Illness strikes

Whether you have come down with something, or your kids are sick and you have been up all night, your body will need a break. This may be a reduction in intensity of exercise or stopping completely for a few days. Look after your body and listen to what it is telling you. Trying to push on with exercise can make your recovery time longer, especially if you have a temperature. A good rule of thumb is to stop exercise completely if your symptoms are ‘below the neck’ for example muscle soreness, a chesty cough or a stomach upset, whereas if your symptoms are ‘above the neck’ such as a sore throat or blocked nose you may be ok to do some light exercise. But it’s always best to check with your GP if you are in any doubt.

Unexpected Travel

Travelling can throw any well thought out training plan up in the air. The main thing is not to panic. There may be options to work out where you are going, you may be able to sneak in a few unexpected exercise sessions if you are lucky. Have a look at our Pilates mat exercises HERE which can be undertaken wherever you are and can help maintain body strength and tone when you can’t make it to the studio. Don’t try to build on your training as you will put unnecessary pressure on yourself, just focus on maintaining fitness whilst you are away. If mat Pilates is not possible, remember a simple walk or a light jog can really help maintain fitness and it’s a great way to explore new places!

80:20 rule, be good most of the time…

The sun comes out and the weekend has brought unexpected ice-cream, treats and perhaps a boozy picnic or BBQ. You’ve had a great weekend, but it’s not been ideal for your training plan. But when a weekend like this comes along, just learn to embrace it. Soak up the sunshine, enjoy treats with friends and get back to work next week. I find the 80:20 rule works for me, I try to stick to my exercise plans

80% of the time and allow flexibility for the rest of the week. If that means relaxing with friends in the sunshine then that’s ok, as I know I’ll stick to my routine for the rest of the week. Having flexibility rather than a very rigid summer exercise plan, means you will be much more likely to achieve your goals.

For the weeks when you are flying through training, things will be great and your summer goals will be getting closer. But we wanted you to be prepared for the weeks where things may not go to plan. If you are struggling or losing motivation at any point, come down to the studio and have a chat! We have some great summer offers to get you back on track but most of all we are always here to offer friendly encouragement. Come say hi, have a chat to one of our instructors or try a new class. It’s easier together and at CONTOUR we really want to help you achieve your summer goals.

Try an UNLIMITED amount of classes for 4 weeks starting in May HERE

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