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The balancing act

October 24, 2018

Pilates can be a great way to tone up and strengthen your body, but how do you stay in shape and at the same time maintain a balanced diet?

If you have been following our blog series over the last few weeks, hopefully you will have found your exercise mojo after the summer and rebooted your fitness regime! Maybe you have shed a few pounds, toned up and are already starting to see the results of all your hard work since September? But how do you keep those pounds off and keep up with your fitness goals at the same time?

This week we are looking at some simple tips and tricks that will help keep you in shape, while remaining healthy and providing the energy you need for your exercise class.

Start your day with an avocado

This is such an easy way to start the day! Simply spread half an avocado on a piece of wholemeal toast and you are good to go. It’s a much healthier option than a bowl of cereal and will provide your body with more monounsaturated fat which has loads of health benefits, as well as raising your metabolic rate, helping you to burn more fat.

Think about your Protein intake

Protein is so important for your muscle recovery and growth after an exercise session and should make up about a third of your daily calories. Chicken is a great source of protein, but it can be helpful to think about getting protein from vegetables as well as meat, since vegetables are a great source of antioxidants.

Swap your cheese

I have a soft spot for cheese, and if you are anything like me you will be very happy to know that goat’s cheese is 40% lower in calories than cheese made from cow’s milk.

Love your fruit bowl

Even if you just look at your fruit bowl in the morning it can set you up for a healthier day. Seeing healthy fruit and vegetables first thing encourages your brain to make healthier food decisions throughout the day. Even better if you help yourself to it over breakfast!

Get blending

A blender or food processor is a great way to get extra fruit and vegetables into your diet. You can easily and quickly whisk up smoothies and soups, increasing your daily intake of fruit and veg with very little effort. It’s also a great way to use up your leftovers before they go off.

Get smart with your snacks

Finding satisfying alternatives to a tempting chocolate biscuit can be a hard ask, but having a choice of go to healthy snacks will really pay off. Some things I have tried include peanut butter on oakcakes, popcorn and beef jerky- a great source of protein for post exercise.

Swap Pasta for Soba Noodles

Carbohydrates are essential if you are exercising on a regular basis but not all carbs are created equal. If you find you are eating a lot of pasta and fancy a change, I love soba noodles. Made from wholegrain buckwheat, soba noodles will provide just as many carbs as pasta but they are also thought to lower blood- fat levels.

Do you have any smart eating tips to share with us? I would love to hear how you balance your exercise demands with a healthy diet. As winter seems to be approaching all too rapidly, let’s support each other to maintain and sustain our healthy goals from September, so we can head into the party season in the best shape ever!

Pick me up food

October 16, 2018

This week I wanted to share some of my favourite pick me up recipes. Hopefully our September series has helped you find your exercise mojo and get back into your routine after the summer. Thinking about what you eat and what you put into your body will help you maintain your energy levels throughout the week, meaning you will be more likely to keep up your workouts and when you do, you will get more out of your workout and recovery than a poorly fuelled body.

We all hear so much about what we should be eating and what will help fuel our bodies for exercise. Protein, carbs and healthy fats, combined with a healthy mix of micronutrients are all essential, but sometimes life gets in the way! Even with the best of intentions, it is easy to let food and nutrition slip down our list of priorities. I am totally guilty of this, I love my exercise and unless something drastic happens I always make exercise one of my top priorities of the week. It’s my headspace, my feel good time, it’s the one part of the week that is completely my time and I love it! But when life gets busy I am not quite so good at always providing my body with the right food to support my exercise.

If you are like me and food slips down the priority list maybe these recipes can help you! These are my go to when I need a nutrition boost when I’m low on time. The soup is especially great to make up in large batches and freeze individual portions for later. Without these two recipes them there would be a lot more biscuits and unhealthy snacks consumed in our house!

Pick me up pre-workout smoothie
This smoothie has a shot of espresso in and so will give you that boost you need just before exercise. The caffeine will increase your stamina during exercise and give you a little energy boost. .

Ingredients (makes 2 portions)
250mls plain yoghurt
100mls milk of your choice
1/2 cup of rolled oats
2 shots of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee
2 soft bananas
Sprinkling of cinnamon
Dash of honey (optional)

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend, then serve. If you prefer it chilled, add a couple of ice cubes after you have made it. This recipe can be kept for up to two days in the fridge.

Super Soups
Soup is a great post exercise choice, and is so flexible and nutritious. You can add in extra vegetables to the recipe below to make it just right for you. The vegetables provide your body the nutrition it needs and the liquid will help you hydrate.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 tbsp of oil
1 onion
1 crushed garlic clove
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, diced
1 vegetable stock cube
4 tbsp creme fraiche
Sprinkling of chilli flakes
Handful of pumpkin seeds

Method
1. Fry the onion in a deep based frying pan until soft.
2. Add the garlic and continue to fry for an extra minute.
3. Add all the remaining vegetables to the pan, add the chilli flakes and the stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
4. Blend the soup and season to taste.
5. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and extra chilli flakes if desired.

Let me know some of your favourite pick me up recipes and how you get on with these! Next week will be looking at keeping a balance in your diet, how to keep in shape and shed a few pounds while maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

The importance of resting

October 8, 2018

In our September series we have already looked at the importance of having a plan in order to make it easier to stick to your exercise plans and goals. But what if you are stuck in a rut and have lost your exercise mojo? We are ready to help you shake things up and get your workout routine working for you again. To do this we need to consider not just the exercise you will be doing, but also the rest your body needs.

One of the most common things I see in fitness enthusiasts and clients, is a failure to schedule in enough, or sometimes any, rest time. I am guilty of this too, when you are flying and your routine is intense you are buzzing from the exercise, it’s tempting to fit in another class or another run to keep you on that high. But this is a sure way to head for injury or burnout. Your body will cope for a while, but exercise without specific rest periods can be detrimental to building strength and seeing improvements.

How to make rest part of your exercise plan

1. Schedule specific rest days

You need to start being as strict about rest days as you are about making a class. It is just as important and should be scheduled in, in the same way.

2. Define your rest days

A rest day doesn’t necessarily mean no activity at all. It often means a change of activity, perhaps a less intense activity where your heart rate is not high and you are using different muscles from your regular work out. Perhaps a walk or a leisurely swim instead of a HIIT session? A rest day should always include some kind of movement as enables active circulation, taking fresh nutrients to your recovering muscles.

3. Sleep

Make sure you get between 7 and 8 hours sleep a night. Everyone has different needs, but most people cannot thrive on less than 7. You may hear people say they only need 4-5 hours, but their body is surviving not thriving.

4. Improve your sleep quality

If you are lacking in hours to sleep, try to make the sleep you do get, good quality sleep. Easy to say, I appreciate! But sticking to a few good habits, like having the same bed time and waking up time every day (even at the weekends), and keeping all screens and devices out of the bedroom, makes it much easier for your body to find a natural sleep rhythm in our busy lives.

5. Benefits of protein

It’s important that your body has the things it needs to recover and ultimately gain strength during your rest periods. Eating protein directly after a workout provides your body with the amino acids it needs to build and repair muscles. We will be looking more at nutrition in our next blog and how this can help your body recover and I’ll be sharing some of my favourite recovery recipes to help recovery too.

6. Re-assess your schedule at regular intervals

Faster recovery occurs in well trained athletes. As you get fitter your body becomes more efficient at recovering and thus

your training schedule (including rest days) should be re-assessed on a regular basis as your training continues.

7. Listen to your body.

If you feel like you need a rest day, you probably do. Even if your schedule says it’s a training day, have a rest, your body will thank you for itand you’ll see the benefit in your next session. For me, learning to listen to my body and override my training schedule is one of the hardest things to do, but if I ignore my body it’s worse! I crash and burn and end up with an extended period of unscheduled rest days, away from the exercise I love, unable to complete my training plan anyway.

How many rest days and how much rest your body needs in between your work out sessions is ultimately up to you. You know your body best and you know how hard you can push without threat of injury or burnout. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 2 rest days per week. My physio always used to say to me that you make the most progress during your rest days, the workout is the stimulus but the rest is when your body builds and improves. Planned rest is just as important as planned exercise.

Join us again next week on the blog where we will be looking at how nutrition and hydration can work alongside your rest days and how they can both help in your body’s recovery.

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