Friday, July 30, 2010

Rest up and stress less

A large part of our daily lives are spent running around trying to do a million things at once.  No wonder our stress levels are starting to sky rocket.  Everyone suffers from stress in different ways, however our bodies physiological responses are very similar. 

When we experience stress our nervous system floods our body with adrenaline and cortisol, the 2 main stress hormones.  They spark the body ready for action.  Our heart starts to beat faster, the blood pressure rises, you become more alert, breath quicken and muscles tense up.  Your body is preparing you for the emergency ahead...whether you fight or flee from the action.

That kind of response is fine and actually quite useful in an emergency situation, however it is extremely damaging when we are exposed to that level of stress on a daily basis.  So how do we help ease the stress?

Daily movement and optimal nutrition assist us in managing our stress levels and the effect it has on our bodies, however even when these are at their best we still need to rest and allow our bodies time to heal and recover.

When talking about rest we are referring to the amount of sleep we get each night.  There have been numerous studies that have varied comments on how much sleep is ideal.  It does depend on how much activity you are doing throughout the day.  For instance, someone training for a marathon needs up to 9 hours sleep per day (H. Edmunds, Runners World, page 34).  However for the rest of us, it is estimated at between 7-9 hours for true recovery, regardless of how much exercise you are doing.  Some top sleep tips are:
  • Routine, routine, routine! Get to bed and wake up at the same time every day...yes even on weekends!  Have a well established bed time and morning routine.  This could mean a herbal tea before bed or some light reading.
  • Cut the caffeine.  Try to avoid caffeine after 2pm.  Yes this does include the dark chocolate squares for dessert!
  • Create the 'bat cave'.  Keep your bedroom as dark as possible by getting block out shades or heavy drapes.  Steer clear of too many electronic gadgets in your bedroom and avoid using them before bedtime.
  • Hydrate!  Make sure you keep your hydration levels up at around the 2litre mark each day.  Decent hydration enables a much sounder sleep.
Inadequate sleep during the week means we start to build up 'sleep debt'.  Once this starts to occur we are less able to cope with the normal 'stressors' that come with daily life.  Give the top tips a try and not only will you be sleeping better but your stress levels should start to lower as well.

emit your life!

Boost your Metabolism

Our resident Nutritionist, Michelle Skidmore of Food Therapy has some hot tips for boosting your metabolism this month.  Here's what Michelle has to say:

"As busy people, we often forget about our health.  We experience low energy levels, poor immunity, weight gain and stress resulting in a slow metabolism.  Here are a few tips that can easily be incorporated into everyday life to enhance our well being and give our sluggish metabolism a boost!"
  1. Stop dieting! Sure you will see results initially but these diets are restrictive and not sustainable.  Your metabolism slows down as your body tries to conserve energy which means any initial weightloss is regained and then some (sound familiar?!).  A healthy eating plan for life is really the only solution for long term health, well being and weight management.
  2. Eat breakfast. Kick your metabolism into gear first thing in the morning.  Choose a low GI based cereal, fresh fruit and a sprinkle of LSA or chia seeds for a balanced breakfast to set you up for the day.
  3. Eat regularly. Going for long periods without eating allows your metabolism to dip and can also affect your blood sugar levels driving you to the biscuit tin for a quick fix.  Instead aim to eat at regular intervals every 3 - 3.5 hours, 3 main meals and 2 healthy snacks with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
  4. Balance your blood sugar levels.  The quick fix of coffee, chocolate and white flour products play havoc with your blood sugar levels causing spikes in sugar and the need for insulin.  Over time this results in insulin resistance and leads to weight gain which ironically, reduces our metabolism.  So, it's important to eat regularly and choose low GI foods in their natural state, the less processed foods the better.
  5. Iodine. Have your levels checked and if you are feeling very tired also ask your GP to review your thyroid levels.  Iodine is important for thyroid function which is responsible for maintaining your metabolism.  Iodine can be found in iodised salt, seaweed, seafood, nuts and eggs.
  6. Reduce stress. When we are stressed we produce the hormone cortisol which can trigger food cravings and tell our body to store fat which in turn reduces our metabolism.
  7. Exercise - particularly resistance training.  Increasing your muscle to fat ratio has a positive impact on increasing your metabolism.  More muscle means you will burn calories even when you are doing nothing.
Most importantly eat well, choose a variety of fruit and vegetables, lean meats, poultry and fish, low fat dairy, nuts, eggs and incorporate legumes into your daily diet.  Aim for at least 2 pieces of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables twice a day and steer clear of the white flour, sugary products.

"Good nutrition is the basis of good health"
Michelle Skidmore

Revitalise with a daily run!

Running is one of the best, if not the best way to improve your body.  It helps to improve the health of our heart and lungs, helps us to shed unwanted body weight, strengthens our bones and our immune systems and even improves our intelligence!

So how do we get out of bed and get going on these cool mornings?

One of the best things to do is to sign up for a race.  It doesn't have to be a marathon or half marathon (actually I would advise against those distances if you have been running less than 1 year!), just something short like a 4km or 5km fun run.  By signing up to a race it will help to make it official and give you a goal to start working towards.

The next thing you need to do is to make sure you have some proper shoes.  It is important to get a shoe that fits your foot comfortably and gives you support in the areas where you need it.  From personal experience, a proper shoe is worth it's weight in gold!.  So, instead of heading down to your local Kmart, go and see someone at your nearest running shop.  Many of them have simplified gait analysis and 'shoe fit' techniques that will help to determine what kind of shoe will be the best fit for you.

On of the most important things to do when training for any event is to work to a plan and work to your capacity.  Just because your mate might be able to run sub 5 minute kms, doesn't mean you should be able to as well....not yet anyway!  Get some guidance from a running coach or a trainer who has a background in running.  A lot of great runners started out just walking and jogging through their programs.  Just know that if you stick at it, you will improve and your body will thank you for it forever!

Get out there, get running and watch your body improve!

emit your life!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's never too late.....

Just under 2 weeks ago, some of the Peninsula Prima Donna's team participated in the Central Coast Bay to Bay fun run.  Although not quite the City to Surf, the track is 12 km and attracts competitors of all ages.

It was the very first running event for the Peninsula Prima Donna's so nerves were pumping.  The nerves weren't the only thing pumping....we had to keep moving as it was a tad cold that morning!

As the starting gun went off, the 'herd' of runners headed off across Spike Milligan Bridge.  What an amazing site!  There were young runners, middle aged runners, mums with prams and dads with prams.  People with dogs and people just out for a bit of a walk.  Some participants had been training for months and others whose training involved walking to the starting line!

As the race continued, I was consistently amazed at the number of 'older' runners out there, men and women.  The runners that fit in the 60 plus age group, even the 70 plus age group.  These people are an absolute inspiration to me.  One lady in particular was doing her 'soft shoe shuffle' all the way.  Her pace was consistent and she was over taking some of the younger runners who had gone out too early and run out of steam.  I felt compelled to tell this lovely lady what an 'inspiration' she was.  I told her that I hope I am doing the exact same thing when I am her age.  You know what she said?  "It is comments like that that make doing something like this so worthwhile." Wow.  I still get goose bumps when I think about it.

The Peninsula Prima Donna's finished in 85 minutes, well under the target of 90 minutes.  An absolutely awesome effort.  Many of the older runners came through not long after us, some before and many were simply happy to finish.  What an achievement for all!

I have recently had the privilege of working with a lot of clients in their 'golden years'.  They are consistently a source of inspiration to me as they have readily embraced the idea that it really is NEVER too late to invest in your health.  Whether it be exercise, nutrition or general lifestyle changes they have all been willing to 'give it a go'.

So for all of you out there who think you are 'past it' and that there is no hope for you to get your health back....think about the lovely 'soft shoe shuffle' lady and what she achieved at over 70 years of age.  Such an inspiration!