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Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Wanting to improve your Health, Fitness and Wellbeing, then these are the blogs to read.

If you are trying to lose weight and burn fat then my advice is to avoid sports drinks altogether. Brands in the UK include Lucozade, Powerade and Gatorade.

These drinks should really be used by people who are trying to replenish their  energy stores so that they are ready to exert themselves again later.

They are not for people wanting to lose weight.  Unless you’re wanting to set a personal best while exercising then you will be able to cope without the added carbohydrate.  Some companies have cottoned onto this fact and now produce lower calorie versions of their sports drinks but be wary and read the labels carefully.

For the majority of people it’s not really necessary to buy these drinks.  If your goal is to lose weight most of these drinks are loaded with sugar and high in calories, so they should be avoided at all costs.

In theory you could spend 30 minutes pounding the streets and burn 300-400 calories and then undo all your good work by replacing those calories straight away.  No wonder you’re not burning fat as fast as you could be.

If fat loss is your goal then avoid these drinks altogether and just drink water and make sure you use some good quality salt in your diet.  The additional salt will help replace the salt that you have lost while exercising.

Water is the key, especially during the summer months.

If you have any questions relating to exercise and hydration, then feel free to email me at stef@stefantaylorfitness.co.uk

Enjoy your Training

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How It Works:

When undergoing any type of weight-loss program, the goal is to consume fewer calories than you burn which then results in your positive weight loss achievement. Ideally calories that you burn come from body fat, as opposed to muscle tissue.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case, dependent on how well you control your nutrition and in some cases your body grows more used to any particular program, it begins to adapt to the demands placed on it and as a result your program becomes less effective. Carbohydrate cycling effectively addresses this problem by varying the carbohydrates, consumed daily in such a way that the body is hard-pressed to follow.  The result: consistent fat loss.  In addition, carb cycling allows you to maintain an intense exercise program because you’re still consuming sources of healthy carbohydrates to fuel your workouts.

According to industry experts, carb cycling diets consist of three primary phases: a high-carb day, low-carb day and a no-carb day.  These days are designed to coincide with your specific exercise sessions and goals. For example, on the high-carb day, you perform the highest-intensity exercise to allow for adequate performance and recovery and use the no-carb day as a rest day as this allows the body to recover from intense bouts of exercise while preserving muscle mass and rapidly losing body fat.  The primary method of exercise on a carb cycling diet should be from resistance training, though it’s still effective without it.  This burns an excess of calories and will also give a greater post exercise elevation on your metabolic rate.  To determine the total number of calories you should consume to lose weight, visit the NHS BMI calculator

Designing a Diet:

Specific nutrients of each day are dependent on each person but it’s important to maintain the same ratios each week.  An example, the lower end of the spectrum for carbohydrates, could recommend 1g carbohydrates per 1 lb. body weight on a low-carb day, and 2g per 1 lb. on a high-carb day. No carb days should be as low as you can make them, in other words, no direct sources of carbs.  Indirect forms such as vegetables and nuts are acceptable.  Protein intake for the week should remain a constant, at least 1g per 1 lb. body weight.  The remainder of the calories should come from healthy fats.

Sources of Food

Acceptable sources of carbohydrates are those that are from slow-digesting complex carbs, such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grains and some fruits.  Immediately after the workout, it may be necessary to consume simple carbs to replenish muscle glycogen.  Sources of protein include any kinds of lean meats including chicken, fish, or beef, as well as eggs, milk, soy, and nuts.  It’s important to consume enough dietary fat to keep testosterone levels high during the process.  Aim for sources of omega-3s and omega-6s such as raw nuts, fish, olive oil and avocados.

Try this Carb Cycling and see the results.

Enjoy your Food Wisely

After walking through my local city recently and seeing several children under the age of 5 being fed fast food full of sugar, fat and additives, I had to do some searching for info on what the data suggests and where this lifestyle could lead these poor unfortunates who are being led to an early grave by irresposible choices being made made by their parents.  I’m not talking about the one off choice of fast food, I’m talking about the parents who provide nothing else but sugar filled, high fat, processed food choices for their offspring.  It really is sad to read about a generation that may not live as long as their parents and the link to the BBC Article on Childhood Obesity says it all.

This isn’t a new article but still alarm bells are ringing….are you doing your bit?

Stay Active and Enjoy Food Wisely

Boot Camp Timetable 2011 in Leicestershire

DAY LOCATION IN/OUTDOOR TIME/DATE FITNESS LEVEL

 

Monday

 

Rawlins College, Quorn Indoor 1845-1945hrs All Welcome
Wednesday

 

Beacon Hill Outdoor 0645-0745hrs

(re-starts Apr 2011)

All Welcome
Wednesday

 

Foxton Locks Outdoor 0930-1030hrs

(re starts May 2011)

All Welcome
Friday

 

Beacon Hill Outdoor 0645-0745hrs

(re-starts Apr 2011)

All Welcome
Friday

 

Beacon Hill Outdoor 0930-1030hrs All Welcome
Saturday

 

Bradgate Park Outdoor 0930-1030hrs

(re-starts June 2011)

Beginner

 

All stefantaylorfitness Boot Camps are designed for all, whether you are re-starting after a break or you have been training for a while and are now looking for a fresh challenge.  2010 see’s new sessions being added to the timetable to give you a greater availability and choice of frequency to exercise effectively and gain those results you so desire.  Every session has one thing in common, enjoyment.  Exercise should be something you both feel the benefit from and wish to do again and again.

Rawlins Boot Camp: An indoor Boot Camp that changes its’ emphasis every 4 weeks, so you are constantly being challenged and will see and feel progress as a result.  This session has been designed to guarantee you burn calories, tone up and strengthen.  Suitable for all, this class gives the comfort of being indoors and will ensure you leave feeling invigorated. 

Foxton Locks Boot Camp: Situated between Market Harborough and Kibworth, Foxton Locks provides an excellent environment to challenge all levels of fitness and is a small group session with a personal touch.  A combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance work will ensure you burn calories, tone up and lose weight and guarantee you improve your fitness levels making for a fitter and healthier you.

Beacon Hill Boot Camp: A fun, rewarding and challenging session that is based in this fabulous park.  This outdoor session is guaranteed to give you the results you desire and leave you looking and feeling energized.  Moving between several locations in the park, each session will work to improve strength, co-ordination, aid weight loss and tone up improving fitness levels and will suit all abilities.

Bookings:  All bookings can be made in advance either via telephone 07811 28 42 92 or via email info@stefantaylorfitness.co.uk if you require further information please contact via the same means or visit our website www.stefantaylorfitness.co.uk/bootcamp.html

Enjoy your fitness

Quite often hunger can just be a psychological response but you can beat the food industries vice like grip on your eating habits with these four easy info bites that will then help catapult you to shedding those unwanted pounds while following your training program.

 

The belief that food makes us feel better contributes to our desire to have food:

When you expect the food you eat to give you pleasure (+ve reinforcement) or relief from distress (-ve reinforcement), that will amplify your further desire for it and your expectation that food is rewarding will stimulate your pursuit for it.  A good way to disconnect your emotions from foods is to read the labels, this will help you view food as more of a functional need and help you eat less.

The location of some foods can become a potent desire trigger:                               

People may be triggered to desire food by a geographical cue, for instance walking past a favourite restaurant or talking about a holiday where food was of 5 star quality and this may become just as important as the food itself.  Cues that we then associate with pleasure demand our attention, motivate the behaviour that is to follow and stimulate an urge we call ‘hunger’.  The more aware you are about these triggers the clearer it will become when you are actually hungry and when you are simply responding to a geographical pleasure cue. 

Gain the upper hand over trigger foods and moderation will be easier:                 

People have become accustomed to following a certain pattern of behaviour with regards their food intake and that is the cue-urge-reward cycle that they lose sight of other possible responses.  An alternative would be to show willing and resist the temptation, yes this may be difficult initially but just going without a particular food once will make it much easier for you the next time and this could have huge health implications long term.

Beware of the ‘Bliss Point’ at which foods become more addictive:                               

It has been discovered that foods with the combination of sugar, salt and fat is just the thing that makes that food become more stimulating, Fast Food, Processed Foods and foods labelled as ‘Junk’ often follow this principle but it’s not always easy to tell as they may be masked with additives and flavourings, so always check the label and if you’re still not sure choose something that has actually been grown and not made. 

If this week you choose to follow some basic principles of Nutrition, you may well surprise yourself and the rewards you’ll see in conjunction with your exercise, will come quicker.

Enjoy your food wisely

stefan taylor fitness

Losing body fat needn’t be a chore and by thinking wisely about your nutrition and making some small changes you could really see some fast results.  Your daily intake of body fuel is the cornerstone to shedding those few extra pounds that may still be there after the Christmas period and balancing this with your weekly training, will definitely see you achieving your goals.

Eat Almonds:

Almonds can help you flatten you tummy area, thanks to their high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats).  The fat in almonds is not completely absorbed by the body and this can also help prevent fats from other foods being stored.  Snack on around 10-15 per day but any more won’t have the desired effect.

Time your Fruit Right:

Getting your 5 fruit and veg a day is a must to aid your weight loss but it’s even better if you time it right.  Eating fruit after a meal rich in protein (containing plenty of fish, meat, eggs or beans) can cause bloating due to the fermentation of its natural sugars.  Eating fruit before your protein rich meal will put a stop top any such feeling and take the edge of your appetite and cause you to eat smaller portions if over eating is a concern.

Have a Good Nights’ Sleep:

Try to get more than 7 hours of sleep per night, if you don’t get enough it can throw your bodys’ hormone levels that regulate your energy and appetite, causing you to crave more foods the next day especially carbohydrates.  So it’s 7 hours or tighter trousers.

Turn off the TV:

Eating while balancing your meal on your lap and watching the box may be causing you to eat up to 71% more than you need, according to research and that’s a lot of extra calories.  This is due to the fact you don’t focus on the food you’re eating and aren’t aware when you’re full.

Have more fibre:

Increase your intake of soluble fibre that’s found in apples, citrus fruits, beans and salad.  Its natural ability to stabilize your blood sugar levels so controls cravings and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.  A good rule of thumb is to separate your plate into quarters, fill 2 with fibrous vegetables, 1 with lean protein such as fish or chicken and the other with fibrous grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta or pearl barley.

Give these tips a try and feel the benefits quickly.

Enjoy your food wisely

stefan taylor fitness

One of the most important factors in injury prevention is warming up and cooling down, and should not be neglected.
Warming up refers to a preparatory phase at the beginning of an exercise session. Warming up generally involves a period of low-impact exercise regimes which prepare the body for the more strenuous aspects of the sporting activity. Warming up is an important aspect of exercise in
reducing the risk of injury that would possibly happen if over stretching occurred, without being physically warmed up and prepared for exercise.
Cooling down refers to a short period at the end of an exercise session. The cooling down phase, again, tends to involve a short period of low-impact exercise which gradually returns the body to its ‘resting state’. The cooling down phase is believed to reduce the risk of muscular soreness which may occur the day after an exercise session, and reduce the risk of fainting or collapse after such a session.

The Warming Up Session

An exercise session should always commence with a period of warm up. In some cases it may take the form of a series of specially designed preparatory exercise, whilst in other sessions it will simply involve performing the activity at a low density before increasing the intensity to the desired level. The warming up period is important for the following reasons:

• It gets the body ready for the physical exertion that follows. This optimises the physical condition, enabling the body to cope more easily with the activity. It also enables the athlete to get the most benefit from the session.

• If the warm-up session has specific movements relating to the sporting activity the muscles can be re-educated in preparation for the coming activities.

• It reduces the risk of injury (cold muscles do not stretch very easily) and it reduces the risk of premature fatigue which can occur if the cardiovascular system is unprepared for
strenuous activity.

• It prepares cardiac function for increased activity and reduces the risk of stress being placed on the heart.
A typical warm-up may involve some ‘loosening exercises’ followed by a few minutes of low impact aerobic activity and then a series of stretching exercises. This may last for approximately five to fifteen minutes depending upon the intensity of the session which follows. Loosening
exercises at the start of the warm up may include activities such as ‘mobility movements’ and ‘jogging on the spot’. These are gentle activities which begin to prepare the body for exercise and are especially important if you have been inactive for a while.
The aerobic exercise may involve activities such as cycling on an exercise cycle. This has the effect of increasing the heart rate, diverting blood to the exercising muscles and raising the overall temperature of the muscles.

Dynamic Stretching exercises provide the final phase of warm up and ensure that the muscles and tendons are prepared for the exercise. An important reason for doing dynamic stretching exercises is to prevent the muscles and tendons from being overstretched during the session.
Such a warm up will also prepare the joints for physical activity.

The Effects of Warm Up on the Body are:

• Cold muscle, tendons and connective tissue do not stretch very easily. Stretching without a warm-up is therefore unlikely to produce the best effects. Warming up also relaxes the body and muscle which further allows them to be stretched effectively. It is also believed that cold muscles and tendons are more prone to damage since they are more likely to tear when cold.

• A warm-up increases the heart rate gradually, and aerobic exercise prepares the heart and cardiovascular system, together with the muscles, gradually, for exercise.

• Exercising, without warming up, may cause the muscles to work without an adequate oxygen supply. As a consequence, lactic acid accumulates and the muscles may become prematurely fatigued.
A warm-up increases the temperature of the body. This increase in temperature facilitates and speeds up many of the processes associated with exercise metabolism. It increases the rate of nerve impulse transmission, the rate of oxygen delivery to the muscles.

Cooling Down

A cool-down involves a short period at the end of an exercise session during which the physical activity of the body is gradually reduced to almost its resting level. A cool-down therefore often involves a period of low-impact aerobic exercise which is gradually reduced, followed by a few gentle stretching exercises. This has a number of effects.
The gentle aerobic activity helps to get rid of any metabolic waste products which may have accumulated during the exercise session. The benefits of an active recovery are believed to be related to the muscles continuing to receive a more extensive supply of oxygenated blood, which
will also assist with the removal of metabolic waste products.
During exercise the blood is being pumped around the body by the action of the heart. However, the blood is assisted in its return to the heart via the venous system and muscular contraction. If you stop exercising suddenly, the heart continues to beat fast, sending blood around the body,
but, because the exercise has ceased, the blood is no longer assisted in its return to the heart. It is suggested that this is one of the reasons why people sometimes feel faint after exercise. During a cool-down, the heart rate is gradually lowered to its resting level and the venous return
continues to be assisted by the actively contracting muscles, thereby preventing this problem.
After exercising, and following the cool-down period, your heart will still need a period of time to settle back down to its full resting rate but should be within 30 beats of what it was before the exercise session started. This will, of course, be influenced by your overall physical condition. It
may also be influenced by the content of the session, with more demanding sessions requiring a more extensive cool-down. The cooling down period also provides an opportunity for the inclusion of additional stretching exercises, which may be desirable especially if they were not included as part of the main session. The inclusion of stretching exercises within the cool-down period not only helps to gradually lower the activity level of the body at the end of the session, but it may also prevent stiffness the following day. The cool-down period is also likely to take place when the body is warm, making the muscles more receptive to stretching. The most effective stretching can therefore be performed at this
time.

Enjoy your Training

Stay Hydrated
Water is the most essential ingredient to a healthy life.  Water has many important functions in the body

including:
• Transportation of nutrients / elimination of waste products.
• Lubricating joints and tissues.
• Temperature regulation through sweating.
• Facilitating digestion.


Importance of Water during Exercise

Proper hydration is especially important during exercise. Adequate fluid intake is essential to comfort,
performance and safety. The longer and more intensely you exercise, the more important it is to drink the
right kind of fluids.

Dehydration
You need to stay hydrated for optimal performance. Studies have found that a loss of two or more percent
of one’s body weight due to sweating is linked to a drop in blood volume. When this occurs, the heart works
harder to move blood through the bloodstream. This can also cause muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue
and even heat illness including:
• Heat Exhaustion
• Heat Stroke
Causes of Dehydration
• Inadequate fluid intake
• Excessive sweating
• Failure to replace fluid losses during and after exercise
• Drinking only when thirsty
Adequate Fluid Intake for Individuals
Because there is wide variability in sweat rates, losses and hydration levels of individuals, it is nearly
impossible to provide specific recommendations or guidelines about the type or amount of fluids athletes
should consume.
Finding the right amount of fluid to drink depends upon a variety of individual factors including the length
and intensity of exercise and other individual differences. There are however two simple methods of
estimating adequate hydration:
• Monitoring urine volume output and colour. A large amount of light coloured, diluted urine probably
means you are hydrated; dark coloured, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.
• Weighing yourself before and after exercise. Any weight lost is likely from fluid, so try to drink
enough to replenish those losses. Any weight gain could mean you are drinking more than you
need.

Nutrition Tips to Aid Healthy Living

Nutrition control and improved knowledge of food is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle alongside increasing your exercise frequency.  I’m sure we have all been guilty of using food as a means of satisfying a psychological feeling but it’s these triggers which can cause repeated bouts of over eating and subsequent weight gain.  Now you have started to implement your exercise program, it is important to maintain a healthy balance of nutrition to allow your progress to be continuous.  Here are a few tips on how to improve your nutrition.

1.           Keep a diary for triggers that hinder weight loss

Keeping a food diary can be a huge asset in successful weight loss.  Devote some time each day to record what you have eaten and how much, your hunger level prior to eating, and any feelings or emotions present at the time.  A food diary can provide a large amount of self-awareness.  It can identify emotions and behaviours that trigger overeating.  Have greater awareness of portion sizes and can help you discover your personal food triggers.  Study any patterns that emerge from your food diary and identify where you may be able to make more healthful changes.  A food diary provides an added benefit of keeping you focused on and committed to your goals.

 

2.   Stay focused on being healthy, not on becoming thin

Many people become more successful at long term weight loss when their motivation changes from wanting to be thinner to wanting to be healthier.  Change your mind set to think about selecting foods that will help your body’s health rather than worrying about foods that will affect your body’s weight.

 

3.   Find out why you overeat

All too often overeating is triggered by stress, boredom, loneliness, anger, depression and other emotions.  Learning to deal with emotions without food is a significant skill that will greatly serve long term weight control.  Research has shown that the people who clearly identify these triggers have greater results of long term weight loss maintenance than those who simply diet and/or exercise and don’t address behavioural and emotional issues.  Chronic over-eaters and “emotional eaters” can be significantly helped by learning new behavioural skills.

 

 

4.   Lose weight slowly with small changes

Try to remember that “losing 15 pounds in two weeks” is nothing to celebrate.  It is important to realize that the more quickly weight is lost, the more likely the loss is coming from water and muscle, not fat.  Since muscle tissue is critical in keeping our metabolism elevated, losing it actually leads to a decrease in the amount of calories we can eat each day without gaining weight. Fat loss is best achieved when weight is lost slowly.  Strive for a weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week.  One pound of weight is equivalent to 3500 calories.  By making small changes like eliminating 250 calories a day from food and expending 250 calories a day from exercise, you can lose one pound (of mostly fat) per week.

 

5.   Eating slowly can lead to weight loss

Did you ever notice that thin people take an awfully long time to eat their food?  Eating slowly is one method that can help take off pounds.  That’s because from the time you begin eating it takes the brain 20 minutes to start signalling feelings of fullness.  Fast eaters often eat beyond their true level of fullness before the 20 minute signal has had a chance to set in.  The amount of calories consumed before you begin to feel full can vary significantly depending on how quickly you eat.  So slow down, take smaller bites and enjoy and savour every mouthful.

 

6.   Weight loss through eating less fat – but do it wisely

We’ve known for some time that limiting high fat foods in the diet can bDaily Essentailse helpful with weight loss. That’s because fats pack in 9 calories per gram compared to only 4 calories per gram from protein and carbohydrates.  Just to clarify, fat-free foods have calories too.   In some cases fat-free foods have as many calories as their fat laden counterparts.  If you eat more calories than your body uses, you will gain weight.  Eating less fat will help you to lose weight.   Eating less fat and replacing it with excessive amounts of fat-free products will not.

By implementing these 6 nutritional tips and having discovered you really do have time for a more active lifestyle, you will become healthier, fitter and feel increased levels of confidence and enthusiasm for life.  If you would like a would like a free copy of a food diary, in order to begin to monitor your food and drink intake, please email info@stefantaylorfitness.co.uk and you’ll be sent copy for you to begin today.

Enjoy your food wisely

Stefan Taylor  BSc

Hot and cold showers – Don’t underestimate their effectiveness

You may think including any sort of cold water into your morning shower routine is a little bit crazy but this may actually help you improve neural function, improve internal health and may even become enjoyable.  Although all you bath lovers may chuckle to yourselves as you relax in the warmth, the health benefits of hot / cold showering may be worth giving it a go next time.

When your body gets hot under a shower, oxygenated blood rushes to the skin and feeds it, if you then immediately put on the cold, the blood rushes to the internal organs.  You will feel your skin temperature fall but what is happening is that your blood is flushing out your skin and leaving it oxygenated.  Then again turn to a hot shower and blood rushes to your skin from your internal organs acting like a flush. The optimum is 5 or 6 alternate hot and cold showers.

You may want to work up to this process by ending your shower with 30 secs – 1 minute cold then back to warm before you get out, this way you can progress up to the above alternating patterns.  As we are moving towards the colder months we all like to have a little extra warmth and warm showers do feel good, particularly after your Boot Camp Session.

Here are some benefits that you gain by incorporating a cold shower into your shower routine:

1. Better Circulation
Warm water makes the blood rush to your skin and cool water makes the blood rush to your organs.  Switching between hot and cold water, triggers better circulation in your blood by forcing the blood to move. The ideal practice would be to switch 5 – 6 times between hot and cold water but merely ending the shower with cold water does help with circulation, so you’ll need to work up to it gradually.   Why should you worry about having good circulation?  Well, it prevents such problems as hypertension, hardening of the arteries, and the appearance of varicose veins. Good circulation improves the performance of your body systems and helps you look and feel better.

2. Better looking skin
When you shower with warm water, it opens up your pores. Then you wash and this cleans up your pores. That’s all good. When you end, it would be best to close your pores and cold water does just that. It’s good to close your pores after you are all cleaned up because it will prevent the pores from being easily clogged by dirt and oil, which may cause skin imperfections such as acne for example.  Another benefit is that cold water makes your blood vessels constrict which reduces swelling and the appearance of dark circles under your eyes (where skin is at its thinnest) and this provides you with a young, healthy glow.

3.  Healthier hair
Cold water makes your hair look healthier and shinier. As a matter of fact, cool air makes your hair shinier too.  What the cold water does is that it closes the cuticle which makes the hair stronger and prevents dirt from easily accumulating within your scalp.  Basically the same principle with how it closes the pores of your skin as mentioned above.  Stronger hair of course prevents hair from being easily pulled out when you are combing and it helps in slowing down overall hair loss.  For further advice on healthy hair go to gavintaylorhair.com

Ending your shower with cold water clearly has its advantages.  I know this is something that can be very difficult for many people to do, the key is to not torture yourself on your first attempt as with a structured fitness program you should graduate your new healthy lifestyle addition.  Start with a level of cold you can deal with and slowly make it colder after each shower you will be on your way to making a habit out of it and enjoy the benefits that this practice can bring you.

Please note: There is some evidence to say Cold showers should not be taken during a woman’s menstrual cycle and it may be too much for the reproductive system during such time and a lukewarm shower is recommended.

Also if you have any form of circulatory dysfunction you should use caution when going through any such process.

Enjoy your new training in the shower

Stefan Taylor

stefantaylorfitness