Should we be forced to sacrifice our mental health for physical?
They’ll feel healthier just opening these gifts.
Add them to your feed, and prepare to feel seriously motivated.
There goes another excuse for skipping that run.
And they’re influencing your results more than you think.
Let your phone cover do the talking.
I think we all know how tough it is to get your running shoes and sports bra back on after a long break from working out. Maybe you were injured or sick, or maybe it was winter and snuggling in your warm bed just sounded so much better than trudging to the gym in the cold.
It’s officially spring – and those who paused their workouts for the winter are starting to get back into fitness, but I can guarantee you of some of the thoughts that will pop into your head as you struggle through those workouts in your first week.
I am so puffed already.
During the warm up, most likely. “Really, the warm up could now be the main event I’m puffing so much. What is regulated breathing? How did I used to do this? I’m super unfit and I’m red already!”
Can that person hear me breathing?
“Do you think that person next to me notices my heavy breathing? They don’t have headphones in so they must wonder what I’m doing. Is my wheezing getting too loud? Maybe I should just give them a smile so they know that I’m okay.”
Is it possible I could die from this?
“I mean, I used to do this, so the possibility of me dying is low. But all this heavy breathing, I can’t even talk. Do you think that guy would save me if I fell to the floor? Imagine getting mouth to mouth at the gym. From a stranger. Sweaty, gross mouth to mouth. Ew.”
Hold on, I think I may be dying.
“My legs are weak, I’m wheezing away, my face is beetroot red and I’m sweating everywhere. It is possible that I may be about to fall on the floor and crawl to my car. Why do I do this to myself?!”
Time for a break…
“How did I ever used to enjoy doing this? I feel so awful. I’ll just go lay on a mat and do some ab exercises. Or maybe I’ll just lay here for a bit and stretch. Maybe I’ll just pretend to stretch while my brain comes back from its overheating, oxygen deprived holiday. It’s a miracle I’m even in the gym today, so I’ve done enough to warrant a tweet about how great my workout was.”
Image via vidavibrante.com
Everything from over-doing the cardio to skipping your post-workout protein snack is screwing up your chances of being bikini ready by summer.
If you’re taking it easy on the weights because you’re scared of looking butch, or you’re working your abs until your blue in the face, you might not be getting the most of your rigorous exercise regimen.
Our Instagram posts might make us look like experts, but in reality when it comes to fitness, we’re pretty good at screwing up. But don’t worry we’ve got your back! Here, we look at some of the fitness mistakes we’re all guilty of.
Spending hours on the treadmill or your exercise bike might shed some calories, but it won’t help you gain muscle mass. All those perfect bodies plastered across the Internet of fit and attractive women, are bodies that combine high intensity interval training (HIIT) with weight training. Contrary to what our mothers might believe, weight training isn’t just for men. Lifting weights helps to build lean muscle and tones your fat. While doing excessive cardio won’t help you gain muscle mass, or alter the shape of your body.
Being a eat-aholic
Have you ever heard the saying, you can’t outrun a bad diet? Well it’s true! No amount of exercise will counteract the effects of a diet filled with sugar, fat, and excessive carbs.
Going steady with your workout routine
Your fitness regimen isn’t a long-term boyfriend, rather it’s like your latest Netflix obsession, it should be constantly changing. Doing three reps of 15 squats may work wonders to begin with, but give it three-months and despite all the squats, your ass will probably be looking pretty ordinary. Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy, you need to be challenging yourself and stepping up your game with each workout.
In saying that, however, don’t do squats for a week and then ditch them entirely, you need to stick with a workout plan long enough to reap the benefits, then you can up the anti or try something different.
Being a workout s*#t
Your body needs rest!! We cannot stress how important recovery is for your body. More doesn’t necessarily mean better, it may be a cliché, but quality over quantity ladies! Take the weekend off, or aim for one day on, one day off. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just do it! If you force your body to work out when its exhausted, you’ll do more harm than good. Your muscles need time to repair themselves so they can grow stronger, and it’s your job to let them.
You might be surprised by how good your body is at telling you what’s going on. When it’s sore and needs rest, you’ll know. Likewise, when it’s energised and ready to go, or something’s too easy, it will know. So just go with the flow.
Image via Yahoo.com
Are you killing yourself at the gym but not seeing results? Chances are, someone’s given you some dodgy advice, and you’re the one paying the price. Here, we uncover the biggest ab myths to help you turn your exercise regime around – so you’ll be rocking some killer abs in no time.
Myth: Crunches will give you abs
Contrary to popular belief, crunches may not be the best exercise for strengthening your core. Crunches do very little to stimulate fat loss and burn calories and they only target a very small section of your stomach. If you want to achieve better results, try opting for planks and leg raises instead. However, if you’re determined to shed some weight doing crunches, make sure you maintain proper form so you don’t damage your back.
Myth: You need a gym to lose weight
Not only are they expensive, gym memberships are also unnecessary. Your own bodyweight and a little discipline can be just as effective in burning fat and toning up as fancy gym equipment. In fact, studies have actually shown that weight machines can be detrimental as they inhibit your body’s natural movements. Basic exercises like squats, lunges, mountain climbers, and much more can all be achieved with an empty space in your home or garage.
Myth: You’ll get killer abs by working on your abdominal area
Toned stomachs are achieved from whole body workouts. Yes, planking will help, but so will burpies, cardio, upper body resistant training, yoga, and Pilates! You will gain core strength from a combination of different forms of exercise. A balanced exercise routine that targets all areas of your body will be much more efficient than just spending hours doing tummy exercises.
Myth: Exercise compensates for a bad diet
No amount of exercise will make up for eating a tub of ice cream every day. It’s okay to indulge in your favourite foods every now and again but overeating will create a layer of fat over any muscle you gain through exercise. Abs are achieved through a combination of healthy eating and targeted workouts, not from eating whatever you want, whenever you want it.
Fact: Abs take hard work and dedication
There are no shortcuts to developing abs – if you apply yourself, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy diet, abs are achievable.
Image via Pinterest
In a perfect world, we have plenty of time to exercise. Unfortunately, our grand fitness plans don’t always work out how we may like. But don’t resign yourself to a sluggish lifestyle just yet because we have some great tips on how to fit exercise into a busy schedule.
Skip the commute to work
This may not be feasible for everyone, but if your work isn’t twenty kilometres away, why not walk, jog or cycle to and from work? Or if you don’t want to be hot and sweaty at the start of the day, bus or train it to work and then make your way home on foot.
Running, walking and cycling isn’t just a great bout of cardio, it’s also a form of transportation! So take advantage of it whenever you can. Alternatively, if you can’t make your own way to work, next time you go to the shops, go on foot. It’s that easy!
Become an early bird
Set your alarm and get your sweat on in the A.M. Exercising in the morning is not only a great way to kick start your metabolism the right way, it also gets the hard part out of the way first thing so you don’t have to worry about it later. If you’re worried you won’t be able to drag yourself out of bed with the sparrows, save time by wearing comfy workout clothes to bed.
Something is better than nothing
If you can’t squeeze 30 to 60 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, squeeze in short bursts whenever you’re able. A couple reps of squats when you go to the toilet, or a few trips up and down the stairs on your lunch break will still get your blood pumping and tighten your muscles. Also, a short but effective program of resistance training can be squeezed in at morning tea, or before you jump in the shower in the morning or the evening.
Take the kids with you
A lot of new mums or parents with young children find it hard to exercise when they’ve got kids hanging off them 24/7. Investing in a jogging appropriate stroller means that you can get them some fresh air, while getting in some miles yourself. Alternatively, take them to the park and get a core and upper body workout in on the monkey bars while they play.
Make it a date
Working out with your friends on your catch-ups instead of sitting around eating coffee and cake is a great way to squeeze exercise into your busy lifestyle.
Image via changesfitnessnepa.com
One of our life savers during the day is the promise of a lunch break. Besides Friday afternoon, looking forward to our lunch hour and what we’ll be gorging on is something that undoubtedly crosses our mind every day. Even when you absolutely adore your job, that hour to do as you please is a slice of heaven.
When work and life stresses get the best of you and things like exercise and healthy eating take a sideline, it’s easy to fall back into bad habits that can be detrimental to health. An example of that is the mid-year spread, when winter becomes the time of creamy pastas, hot chocolates and a whole lot of sitting on your butt, both in the office and at home.
That’s why using your lunch break as a health boost is a great way to save yourself time and get yourself in a great mood for the afternoon and the three o’clock slump ahead. Simple things that you can do on your lunch hour can give your physical and mental wellbeing a good kick and you can get yourself into the habit of having yourself a healthy lunch break.
Get some sun
Give your Vitamin D a boost by getting out of the office and taking a walk in the sun. Not only will getting fresh air clear your mind, getting enough Vitamin D also increases your resistance to some diseases and to bone issues. Getting out of the office all takes your mind off work for a bit and allows you to think about other things in life that you are grateful for.
Swap processed for organic
Swapping your microwave dinner for a fresh, green salad or some grilled salmon and veggies is the way to go. Keeping your lunch light, but filling, will keep you alert for the rest of the day and will help you to avoid the sugar or carb slump that can affect your productivity.
Sneak in a quickie
A quickie workout, that is! Unless you’ve got a broom closet to be in. Sneak in a half hour workout before enjoying your lunch, or pack your flats and take a walk during your lunch hour. Even doing shopping counts as exercise, so get your wallet working!
Image via sheknows.com
Did you ever watch What To Expect When You’re Expecting? And think, I’m going to be Elizabeth Banks, who has the awful pregnancy experience while Brooklyn Decker is still wearing stilettos and going to pre-natal yoga classes. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, but staying fit and healthy during a pregnancy is good for you and your baby. However, there are certain things that you should take into consideration when you’ve got a bubba growing inside of you.
There’s a certain false impression that working on those abs is going to help you push out the baby when the (terrifying) time comes but accredited exercise physiologist Kate Faber from Precision Physio is here to bust that myth, saying it’s just not going to help in the way you think it is.
Kate Says, “Many women (and some medical, health and fitness professionals) believe there is great need to strengthen the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, in order to assist in pushing the baby out during delivery. While this may seem logical, the abdominal muscles are not directly involved in delivering the baby – the uterus and pelvic floor are responsible for that!”
And if you’re thinking that’s not a problem, but you’ll continue to do crunches to make it easier to get that flat belly after your pregnancy, you should definitely think again about that one.
Pregnancy exercise is a great way to keep yourself fit and minimize the extra weight gain that isn’t pregnancy weight but just ‘I can eat whatever I want weight’. Everyone gains weight during pregnancy, but let’s take a tip from Jessica Simpson to put down the deep fried Oreos and Southern spiced wings and keep it healthy for the baby. Eating a healthy diet and engaging in some pregnancy-friendly exercise is a great way to keep yourself fit and not have to shock your system once you’ve given birth and you’re looking to get your pre-baby bod back.
Kate also has some great pregnancy tips for the type of exercise you are looking to do. You should always take your baby’s health into consideration and see your body as a place that you are nurturing a life. Women don’t need to be completely wrapped in cotton wool when they’re pregnant, but there are safety tips to follow when considering how you’re going to work out.
Let’s take a look at Kate’s top pregnancy workout tips:
- Include a gradual warm-up and cool-down pre and post exercise.
- Exercise at an intensity that is comfortable for you – avoid unsupervised high-intensity exercise during pregnancy if you weren’t doing it before you fell pregnant.
- Stay well hydrated and avoid over-heating.
- Avoid any activities (e.g. very heavy lifting) which cause you to hold your breath or alter your posture.
- Beyond 16 weeks, be careful when lying on your back – you may be more comfortable in a seated or incline position.
- Avoid activities which increase the risk of physical injury (e.g. contact sports).
- If you do develop abdominal separation, seek guidance around exercises you need to include or avoid.
- Get moving – reduce time spent sitting and get regular exercise in!
- Maintain good bowel habits – go when you need to go!
- Practice safe manual handling techniques – whether it be at work or home.
Keeping it gentle is key and activities like walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are low impact activities that keep your body fit and build a strong cardiovascular system, which makes mum and bub healthier.
For more information about Kate Faber and Precision Physio, you can visit their website.
Images via myrtylebeachbirthservices.com and precisionathletica.com.au
Ever wanted to step into somebody else’s shoes for the day and see what life is like as a magazine editor, a professional sportsperson or corporate high-flyer..? Well, SHESAID is giving you the closest thing to your very own Freaky Friday experience with our A Day In The Life Of… series.
Name and role
Anna Flanagan and I am a player for the Hockeyroos!
When did you discover your talent? Did you always want to be an athlete?
I wanted to be sportswomen from as soon as I could walk- meaning as long as I can remember! I picked up my first hockey stick at four and never looked back! I always wanted to represent Australia and go to the Olympics in something. I did tennis and athletics at national level until I was 15 and chose to give everything to hockey. I always loved the feeling of winning with a team and ultimately enjoyed the sport more. When I made my debut for Australia at age 18, I realised that just playing for Australia wasn’t the goal, but being the best was. Making the team [Hockeyroos] was only the beginning of a huge journey to the top.
Tell us a bit about your journey?
I was selected into the Australian squad when I was 17 and still at school. I came through the junior ranks with two national titles and Player of the Tournament in U18s/21s and in open Nationals before I was 20. My first foray into international hockey I was 16 playing for the U21 Australian team and therefore had to grow up pretty quickly. I moved over to Perth when I was 18 away from all my family and friends and had to learn to look after myself on the other side of the country, without knowing anyone well in the team. The first year I really struggled but had my studies to distract me from being so isolated. I was a late selection into the Commonwealth Games team in Delhi, and from this moment I new I wanted not only to win gold medals, but be the best in the world.
I worked really hard physically to earn my place as one of the main players in the team. I then at 20 years old, I was voted World Young Player of the year at the Olympic Games. This brought a lot more pressure to perform but none more than what I placed on myself. From back then, knowing no one the team is like my family now. We train together everyday and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Where do you find your inspiration? Who has had the most impact on you and your career?
My captain Madonna Blyth inspires me everyday at training to push harder and be the best you can. In other sports the females such as Jessica Fox, Caroline Buchanan and Anna Meares because they are pushing the boundaries of female sport and are good role models.
As an elite athlete, its not always bright lights and glory. How do you deal with the challenges and down times?
We train everyday so I definitely have those days or moments where I envy those with a ‘normal’ job. But I try putting it in perspective to realise not everyone can do what I am doing, and that the lifestyle is amazing and the feeling of winning with your team mates is the ultimate high.
Your workdays are much more exciting than the average 9 to 5. When you’re in hockey season, what does a typical day involve?
Of course there’s no such thing as a typical day but a standard training day would look something like this:
7am: Rise and shine, I like to have breakfast two hours before training so that it has time to digest before we start a heavy session.
9-11:30am: Full team training on the pitch where we have a mixture of strength, power, speed and endurance exercises built into our drills.
11:30am-12pm: Recovery and ice baths- submerging our lower bodies into freezing cold water to help relieve muscle soreness for the following day.
12-1pm: We have lunch together and a meeting to discuss the figures that we produced in the weeks training session on our GPS and heart rate, and talk about where we need to improve and work harder as well as highlight those who have done well.
1:30pm-3pm: We have gym that consists of Olympic lifting, heavy weights and a crossfit style of work-out, depending on the individual and their needs.
6pm: Is dinner and couch time as I am buggered from the big day of training!
9:30pm: Try to get in bed by this time so that I get enough rest to do it all again the next day!
What are your goals for the future?
My ultimate goal is to win Olympic gold… the pinnacle of our sport. Individually I want to be the best player I can in the best team I can… therefore the best player in the world in the best team in the world.
What advice would you give to someone following the same path as you?
Always look to better yourself in all areas as an athlete. Whether it be mental or physical or technical, push the boundaries and try do what others can’t. If you believe you can and do everything to achieve it, anything is possible. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is good things don’t come easy. And if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. For anyone wanting to get into professional sport, I would say, you need to set goals, have a plan, be determined to achieve it and give 100%. But more than that, enjoy what you are doing, the more fun you have the more memories you make and the rewards are priceless.
Shuffle aside Zumba, the world’s first tap dancing fitness fusion has arrived and is set to take the world by storm. The brainchild of Australian sisters Annie, Fiona, Rachel and Katherine Johnson, TAPfit is a first- to-market exercise program using patented technology, which promises a total workout for both the mind and body.
Former Australian tap dancing representatives, the Johnson sisters have dedicated the past three years to crafting the program alongside a team of medical, diet and exercise professionals. Inspiration for the fitness device first struck when they observed remarkable results while teaching a little girl with cerebral palsy how to tap dance.
“No other dance schools would take Breanna as a student, so we offered to run personal lessons as a fun alternative to therapy, and work towards improving her muscle strength and coordination,” Fiona said.
“Breanna’s family and physiotherapist couldn’t believe that within just 6 months of starting lessons, she was able to ride a bike for the first time without training wheels.
“We’re thrilled to hear Breanna has made great progress with her coordination, balance and self-confidence, and is now actively involved in school musicals and excelling in sport, particularly athletics where she is now Queensland Champion for the 100m sprint in her division.”
Armed with this anecdotal evidence, Fiona and her siblings approached Professor Meg Morris from La Trobe University who had previously conducted studies on the benefits of tango and Irish dancing for Parkinson’s patients. From these studies, researchers gleaned that rhythmical dancing could have positive effects on walking speed, balance, motor impairment and endurance after attending just 2 classes per week for 10 weeks.
In a first-of-its kind trial, researchers at La Trobe University have recently explored the correlation between tap dancing and improved motor performance, life quality and wellbeing in individuals of varying movement abilities, with findings due to be released later this year.
“The tap dancing studies are really exciting because it’s the first time we have been able to observe and measure the therapeutic benefits of this dance genre. We are only just beginning to understand the intricacies of the human brain and studying the way in which the brain controls dancing tells us a great deal about how we acquire motor skills,” Professor Morris said.
“By extending our existing body of work on movement dynamics, we will gain a better understanding of how people with disability can transform their mobility whilst enjoying the experience!”
The TAPfit prototype has received high accolades from an international audience, with the sisters being recognised within the Top 5 inventors globally at the 2013Electronic Retailers Association Convention in the USA.
TAPfit has launched in Australia, and is due to launch in the USA and Canada within the next 6 months.
The Johnson sisters share their top five tips for enhanced physical and mental health and wellbeing:
- Move everyday
Only 10 minutes of moderate exercise can speed up your metabolism for an hour or longer. With many of us leading sedentary lifestyles, it is important to be as active as possible throughout the day. If you struggle to find the time for a more structured workout, try parking your car further from your destination and walking, take the stairs instead of the lift or squeeze in a few squats before bed. Incremental physical activity can make a big difference! One more thing – exercise shouldn’t be tedious. Choose a fitness style that you love and you will be more likely to stick to a regime and get the results you desire.
- Nourish your body with whole foods
Eating foods that are closest to their natural state means that we are fuelling our bodies with essential nutrients that cannot be obtained through packaged or processed foods. Wholefoods offer a rich source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fibre and antioxidants to keep your immune system strong and reduce the risk of disease. Increase your intake of wholefoods by incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, poultry and red meat into your diet. You are sure to find a bounty of wholefoods at your local farmer’s market, fresh-food aisle at the supermarket or health-food store.
- Learn a new skill
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. As with other parts of your body, it is important to also keep your mind active by learning a new skill or taking up a hobby. When you engage in unfamiliar activities you can stimulate your brain, sharpen your thinking, reduce mental fatigue and improve memory. Mind training isn’t limited to crossword puzzles and trivia questions – there are plenty of much more entertaining options like photography, art, dance, sewing or music classes.
- Take time out
It is important to factor a bit of ‘me time’ into each day and treat yourself to regular breaks. Just 30 minutes of relaxation a day can provide myriad benefits for physical and mental wellbeing, such as reduced stress and anxiety, decreased blood pressure, and enhanced mood and concentration. Don’t feel guilty about letting people know that you don’t want to be disturbed. Switch off technology, listen to music, read a book, watch a film, meditate, have a warm bath or practice deep breathing – whatever works to help you unwind!
- Dance like nobody’s watching
Aerobic dance programs such as TAPfit are a fabulous form of self-expression and a fun way to keep fit. There are so many different styles of dance to try – from traditional ballet, ballroom and tap, to contemporary hip-hop, belly dancing and pole dancing. No matter your age or whether you prefer to dance solo, with a partner or in a group setting, you can reap the health benefits of dance and improve your strength, fitness, coordination, flexibility, confidence and self-esteem.
For more information or to purchase TAPfit, visit tapfit.com
Whether you’re a rookie in the racks or a veteran with weights, there are still common gym errors that many of us will make during the time that we exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose weight, gain some muscle, or get a better cardio vascular system, these mistakes that we make in the gym apply to most.
Doing the same thing
If you never change up your routine, your body gets used to doing the same things and you will start to plateau, meaning that you won’t be making any improvements; rather, you will be staying at the same level. This could mean that you won’t lose any weight, you won’t gain any muscle and/or you won’t improve your cardio vascular system. It’s important to change up your routine and try lots of different things to keep your body guessing and get fit in many different dimensions.
Not changing your diet
You can exercise all you want, but if you don’t change your diet to something that is healthier and more beneficial for your bod, you won’t be getting the improvements that you want. We’ve often heard the terms ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’ and ‘abs are made in the kitchen’, and they’re not wrong. To get the results you want, especially if it involves losing stomach fat, it’s important to change your diet.
Not being consistent
We’re probably all guilty of this one, especially through winter, but only hitting the gym once a week is not going to be enough to achieve the goals you’re after. Consistently hitting the gym 3-4 times per week is great, and 4-5 times is even better for making improvements to your body.
Not doing enough
You may be consistent with your time at the gym, but if you’re not pushing yourself and your body, you’re going to stay the same. Just because you’re at the gym, it doesn’t mean that you’re putting in the hard yards. By working hard, you’ll feel your body fighting to get fit.
Image via sofeminine.co.uk
Alright, ladies! It’s time to get off the couch, put the cookies away and start working on getting that stomach you’ve always dreamed of. No, this is not an infomercial, this is real life – and you too can get those strong, sexy abs. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that last line.
Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, celebrities would divulge their workout secrets and it would all come down to doing heaps of crunches. Let’s be real though; celebrities don’t get killer abs from doing hundred of crunches and they don’t want to give out their real workout secrets because then you would look as good as them and they would lose their job.
You can get a great set of abs – yes an actual six pack – without doing crunches. Don’t believe me? Let’s get your sports bra on then. Crunches are boring and doing hundreds of crunches doesn’t get you a sexy six pack, but adding in these simple ab exercises can help trim and tone that tummy (yes, I watch way too many infomercials).
Move one: Ditch the bad diet
Not technically a workout move, but very important in getting abs. You can’t out-run a bad diet and that’s what is causing the fat that hides your abs. The secret is that everyone has a six pack, some are just better hidden. You can bring yours out by reducing your belly fat through cleaning up your diet.
Move two: Spidercrawls
These may look easy and even a little bit fun, but they’ll make your abs burn like a bowl full of chilli. Assume the low plank position with your shoulders over your elbows. Bend one leg and bring your knee as close to your shoulder as you can on the side of your body. Take it back down and repeat on the other side. While these are similar to mountain climbers, they also target your oblique muscles, pulling in that waistline and erasing those love handles.
Move three: Hanging knee lifts
Not only do these work your abs, but they also work on getting your grip, shoulders and back strong from hanging onto the bar. While assuming a hang position, bring your knees up to your chest, squeezing especially at the last point to get them really high and slowly release them down to starting position. Try not to swing as this uses more momentum and less abs. Once you get really strong, keep you legs straight and lift them to an L shape in front of you.
Move four: Swiss ball jackknifes
Placing your hands on your floor and your feet on the swiss ball, assume a push up position. Bring your knees to your chest and slowly roll them back to the starting position. Feel the burn as your keep yourself stable and slowly complete the movement.
Images via Oxygen Mag, Womens Health, Popsugar, Get6packfast.com