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Exercise and Nutrition for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

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Hashimoto’s Disease, or Thyroiditis, is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. It is an autoimmune condition that can cause symptoms of weight gain, fatigue, joint and muscle pain.

Through appropriate exercise and recovery methods it is possible to lose weight and/or gain lean muscle mass when diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.

Although the excess stress from exercise can cause fatigue, worsened thyroid function, depressed immunity, increased risk of injury and raised inflammation – it is important to know your own limits when training.

 

 

Training Methods

There are two suitable training methods suitable for those with Hashimoto’s Disease:
Short sessions of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training); and
Weight training with heavy weights and low repetitions.

Short and high intensity workouts such as HIIT will ensure (often limited) energy is dispersed quickly – which means the 30 minutes you had set aside for training can be shortened to 10-15 minutes, giving yourself an increased recovery time.

You’ll know you have trained well if you are breaking a sweat around the 3 minute mark, breathing deeply and rapidly, and hitting 70% or greater of your max. heart rate (220 – age in years = max. heart rate).

Take advantage of the body’s natural cortisol surge in the morning by getting to the gym or completing some at-home training within 10-30 minutes of waking up – before breakfast. It is easier to burn fat during this time, completing fasted will help reduce insulin resistance.

Training the larger muscle groups can increase overall lean muscle mass. Heavier weights are better for your metabolism in low to mid range repetitions.

Constant repetitions of 20+ can cause bad Achilles tendonitis or shoulder problems.
Make sure to work your way up in weights rather than starting heavy – a personal trainer is best to assist you with this.

 

 

Over-Training

Over exercising can heighten symptoms of Hashimoto’s, including:
Increased inflammation,
Fatigued adrenals,
Excess bad gut bacteria; and
Leaky gut
(where undigested foods, bacteria, yeast and other pathogens enter the blood stream).

Appropriate exercise boosts the chemicals in the body that improve brain function, increase overall well-being and raise energy levels. There are some pre-exiting factors that will increase your vulnerability to over training with Hashimoto’s such as low-high cortisol levels, systematic inflammation, immune weakness, nutrient deficiencies and obesity.

If you are unsure whether you are over training or just simply experiencing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), you may notice that you are experiencing lengthy recovery times or being in a state where you can not imagine getting out of bed the following day due to joint and/or muscle pain.

You may also notice that although you are consistently training, your performance is declining, muscle strength is decreasing, and you are experiencing a lack or loss in motivation and enthusiasm to train.

Aim to feel refreshed and energised after each training session! Taking time to recover is extremely important – especially when it comes to sleeping.

Adequate sleep will encourage muscle repair, improve the metabolic system and help your brain to recharge. It’s important to adopt a lifestyle that will support your diet, exercise and supplementation in order to feel your best and to slow the progress of the autoimmune disease.

 

 

Nutrition

Nutrient timing for training is important whether you have an autoimmune disease or not. For those with Hashimoto’s disease it is best to consume a drink of electrolytes before training (avoid sugary ‘sports drink’ options) and look into supplementing with n-acetyl l-carnitine.

Post workout you’ll be best to consume something that will aid in reducing inflammation such as turmeric, alongside another drink of electrolytes.

*It is necessary to eliminate sugars, processed foods and minimise or remove gluten, diary, corn, rice and other simple carbohydrates from your diet.

*Focus on nourishing your body with good quality meats, vegetables (organic where possible) and good fats such as avocados, olive oil and coconut oil.

*Protein is also important and should be consumed at 1.5-2g per kilogram of body weight (around 40% of your diet).

If you feel as though you are eating nutritious and ‘clean’ foods but not experiencing any benefits you may want to consider food sensitivity testing. Probiotics and fermented foods can also encourage a balance of bacterial flora.

 

Macro & Micro-Nutrients

Our bodies need macro and micronutrients to thrive! If you are malnourishing it by under-eating or following a high calorie deficit your body will sabotage any progress by slowing down the metabolism or causing you to have cravings and even feel hungry when you have had enough.

The most common nutrient deficiencies in people with Hashimoto’s are:
B vitamins,
Selenium,
Magnesium,
Vitamin D; and
Ferritin.

 


References

Kalanick, B. (2015, January) When Exercise Harms Your Thyroid, Bottom Line Health. Retrieved from https://bottomlineinc.com/health/thyroid/exercise-harms-thyroid

Dr. Wentz, I. (2018, January) How to Lose Weight With Hashimoto’s, Thyroid Pharmacist. Retrieved from https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/how-to-lose-weight-with-hashimotos/

Ryan, M. (2014) How to Exercise With Hashimoto’s, Hashimoto’s Healing. Retrieved from https://hashimotoshealing.com/how-to-exercise-with-hashimotos/

(2017, May) Extreme Exercise is Good for You Right? Not if You Have Hashimoto’s, Functional Medicine; Functional Health News. Retrieved from http://functionalhealthnews.com/2017/05/extreme-exercise-is-good-for-you-right-not-exactly/

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The Correct Way To Warm Up Before Weights

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

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How often have you skipped a warm up before a weights or resistance training session, simply because you:

a) Don’t know what to do;
b) Don’t have the time;
c) Don’t think it’s necessary; or
d) All of the above

If you can relate to any of those, you’ll want to read on.

 

Let’s start with the why; why do we need to warm up before a weights session?

We need to prepare our body for exercise by increasing our heart rate, loosening our joints and increasing blood flow and circulation. We need to perform a warm up prior to training to increase the blood flow to our muscles, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and promotes the energy releasing reactions used during exercise. Warming up also raises our muscle’s temperature (hence the term ‘warm up’) for optimal flexibility and efficiency.

 

So, does that mean we just need to do a few extra km’s on the treadmill?

Not necessarily, there are multiple ways to help our body prepare for a weights training session.

 

Dynamic Stretches

These aren’t just your average stretches – what we need to achieve with dynamic stretching is activation! Dynamic stretches mimic sports-like movements, prepare the body for activity and increase range of movement (ROM). Unlike static stretches, the end position of the stretch is not held therefore is felt further with each motion. Some examples of dynamic stretches include walking lunges, arm swings/circles, plank windmill/twist, toe touches, hip raises, high knees and bear crawls.

 

Joint Mobility Exercises

We’d all be lying if we said we didn’t want to jump higher, run faster and move without pain. All of this can be made possible by increasing our range of motion through joint mobility exercises. Increasing the flexibility in our muscles and tendons allow for a greater ROM. Joint mobility exercises are similar to that of dynamic stretching or stretching while moving through movement. Examples of these exercises include walking hip openers and thoracic spine windmills on the floor.

 

Progressive Overload

This is something that we do during our training, so think of it as a pre-exercise warm up – or a gradual increase in intensity during sets. In order for our muscles to grow we need to provide them with stressors to adapt to. Start with your bare minimum, whether it’s body weigh bench dips, squats using a barbell without weights or using the 4kg weights before hitting the heavier weights for your bent over rows. This will assist in preparing your body through the proper range of movement to achieve hypertrophy, strength, power and endurance. This is when it can be important to write stuff down: click through to Rachel Aust’s #plantraincreate journal.

 

Conditioning

Try to keep conditioning as your warm up to a minimum – after all, we want our weights to be the thing that takes up our strength and energy! Skipping, walking with gradual incline on a treadmill, step-ups or using the step machine should be kept to 2-5 minutes before training and are better kept for your HIIT sessions. If you find that you have some energy left after your training and before static stretching you can add your 2km row here. After all, it’s shampoo (exercise) and then conditioner.

 

Completing a warm up is essential for the time (and sweat) you are putting in to your weights training. Make sure to avoid static stretching (where you hold the stretch in one place for a few seconds) cold muscles before your session by opting for dynamic stretching. Spending 3 – 5 minutes before your training session to increase your blood flow will increase your range of motion, help decrease muscle stiffness and lower the risk of injury (see my 7 Trainer Approved Tips to Prevent Injury here!).


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10 Tips for Getting Fit on a Budget

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

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Whether you’re a student, saving for a holiday or already spent your hard-earned money on a pair of training shoes (no seriously, these are important!!) exercising on a budget is super easy! You don’t always need weights to achieve your goals.

 

1. Exercise From Home

Body-weight exercises come in many variations, and simple home equipment such as resistance bands and skipping ropes can make a huge difference. Most of these things can be found on Amazon or at discount stores, even your local Buy/Sell/Swap page might have something available.

 

2. Get Out There

There are so many great ways to get fit for free! Try walking or jogging laps around your local sporting ground, swimming laps at the beach, go for a bush walk or hike – not only will you burn up some energy, but you can also get some enviable snaps to share on social media of lush rainforest or waterfalls. Outdoor gyms are also popping up all of the time – hello muscle beach!

 

3. Group Exercise

Whether it’s at a training studio, gym, or youth center – there are so many different options available when it comes to group training. Maybe it’s a group of 2-5 with a personal trainer or something bigger like mall walking. Some workplaces even have a corporate fitness program in place – if not, why not! Get in touch with a trainer local to you to see if they can get the ball rolling.

 

4. Apps & Journals

There are so many apps to choose from that are either free or very affordable. Apps such as Lifesum and My Fitness Pal will help you to track your nutrition, or a journal, such as Rachel's Train Journal, will help hold you accountable and on the right way towards your goals.

 

5. YouTube

There are so many fitness specialists sharing their knowledge on YouTube – Rachel Aust has a number of different workouts including at-home and gym options. My fave? Her full body toning workout routine that can be done at home – click me to follow through! Be warned, some routines may not be safe – be sure to keep an eye for the videos that have a higher rating.

 

6. Cut The Junk!

How much is it hurting not only your budget but also your waistline each time that you’re ordering from a fast food chain? Especially when it’s so convenient to have the food delivered to you. Cut it out! Healthy food isn’t expensive – in Australia you can find fresh produce such as carrots for $1.50/kilo and tuna at 99c a tin.

 

7. Drink Water

I feel like this should be obvious. It’s basically free. Opt for a reusable bottle and you will save hundreds, if not thousands – not to mention you’ll reduce your one-use-plastic footprint.

 

8. Discounts

A lot of online stores will offer a discount when you sign up to their mailing list (we offer a 15% discount for everyone on our list!) – plus you’ll be the first to hear about their exclusive offers. After a name brand pair of tights but can’t quite afford them? Wait for the end of season sales to snap up a bargain!

 

9. Change Your Routine

Park further away from the shop front, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get off the bus earlier, cycle or roller blade to work or school… get up 15 minutes earlier and give it a go.

 

10. Online Community

Accountability – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Have someone else keep you accountable! Get a workout buddy, share your progress on social media, read fitness blogs (you’re already off to a great start), join a group challenge and have some fun with it.


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How To Stay On Track: Accountability

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

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The Importance of Accountability: Why & How?

There are hundreds of ways to maintain accountability for your health & fitness habits, whether it be training with a friend, being active in an online group or posting photos and videos to a social media account. It’s the number 1 worst kept secret when it comes to achieving your goals.

 

noun | ac·count·abil·i·ty

the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's action

(Definition: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accountability)

 

Let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s not that hard to work out – it’s all about getting started… and a touch of consistency. Picture this: your goal is to train 3-4 times per week, you’ve download a bunch of inspiration from social media and have signed up to the 24/7 gym down the road. The first 2 weeks go really well, you’re already getting the hang of most of the exercises and haven’t hit snooze on your alarm once!

Week 3 arrives and you’re starting to feel a little bored of your training. You can’t make up your mind about training your arms or your legs so you just stick to using the treadmill and maybe grab a cheat meal (or three) to make up for your efforts. Getting up before work to train no longer appeals to you, yet going after work means that there’s only that one bench left next to the guy whose nipples are hanging out of his stringlet and constantly takes selfies. Goodbye, motivation.

Having someone to help you stay accountable is a win/win situation. You don’t need to feel alone when it comes to your training – at Eat Run Lift we want to help you to achieve your goals, short and long term!

 

Online Coaching

Online Coaching is on par to what we can offer in our Brisbane studio, just without the face-to-face contact. Connecting with your trainer on a weekly basis, they will help to make sure you are on track, maintaining consistency with your training and also help with any questions or concerns you may have during your training – they’ll even view and give educated advice on your food diaries! Your workouts are 100% personalised to help you achieve your goals and to suit your environment. If you’re after the convenience of an eBook, but the accountability of a personal trainer – online coaching is going to be for you. Email me (hayleigh@eatrunlift.me) today to get started!

 

ERL12

ERL12 is a challenge that we commit to twice per year (keep your eyes out for an announcement very soon!). Featuring Rachel Aust’s Mindset Coaching, ERL12 will set you up to achieve your short and long terms goals without fail. Each week you receive a checklist, a new set of workouts, articles that cover the important stuff (like the importance of sleeping!!), and much more. Having a challenge that sets you up to get active within a time frame is a great way to for beginners to start training and the perfect way to introduce new workouts for those who have hit a plateau or feeling bored with their current routine (aka cross-training). Sign up with a friend for a bit of friendly competition… even better,  complete the workouts together for some extra social time!

 

#plantraincreate

Writing down your workouts is a great way to maintain accountable – especially if you’re a visual kind of person. Having your training and goals in one convenient place such as the Train journal can put meaning into your workouts and you’ll start to see a pattern in your training. Achieving your goals takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication – self-accountability is extremely important and possible with the #plantraincreate range (click me!).

 

1-on-1 Personal Training

Hands down, this is going to be your best way to stay accountable and reach your goals. Connecting with a specialist – whether it be strength & conditioning, injury prevention or recovery, pre & post natal or you’re just after someone who understands your needs. Your trainer will help you to achieve your goals! You can connect with our Eat Run Lift trainers (located in Brisbane) by visiting our studio website (click me!).

 

Eat Run Lift eBooks

Perfect for any fitness level, we have an excellent range of plans for you to choose from – including our brand new 8WTC 2.0: an at home training plan which can be done with or without equipment! We also offer our Get Lean guides which are split into the 3 different body types, My HIIT Guide, and our Simple 7 Day Detox (goodbye sugar addiction!). You can find these on our website by clicking here.

 

No more excuses. Get the accountability that you need today!

 

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7 Trainer-Approved Tips To Prevent Injury

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

Instagram - Blog 

 

 

Whether you've just signed up to the gym or have been going for years, injuries can happen to anyone. Sure, you can cause yourself an injury doing just about anything these days if you're not careful enough! As a qualified personal trainer and head coach at our Eat Run Lift studio, safety is always a priority for my clients. From warming up, to avoiding poor technique - here are my top 7 tips to avoid injury when exercising.

 

1.    Warm Up, Stretch - and Activate!

There’s no point in warming up muscles that you’re not going to use, sadly I’ve seen this before – literally, someone was doing bicep curls as a warm up on leg day. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, by increasing your body core temperature you will promote blood flow to working muscles. Activating your muscles prior to commencing an exercise (hello, donkey kicks!) will assist in loosening up tight muscles. Eg; your goal is to gain mass in your glutes - if you fail to activate these muscles prior to a deadlift you are more likely to compensate and use other muscles through your lower back, hamstrings and quads which can lead to injury. Cooling down and stretching your muscles for just a few minutes at the end of your session can go a long way in preventing soreness or strain.

Tip: Dynamic stretches and rowing are perfect ways to warm up. Include foam rolling at the end of your training and to your daily routine to help with recovery and improve future performance.

 

2.    Ease Into a Program

Always ease into a program, especially if you are not used to the particular exercises. Most trainers will write a program following three phases – building the foundation, increasing muscle, firming/fat loss. Don’t assume that by jumping straight into an advanced training schedule you’re going to achieve the best results! You may be tempted to train really hard during your first week back in the gym, but the recovery might be a killer if you've pulled a muscle or torn a ligament.

Tip: Is your program not working for you? Try cross-training to prevent overuse of your muscles and help avoid hitting a plateau.

 

3.    Technique

Don’t sacrifice form for a longer workout or to squeeze out more repetitions. When you are not using the correct technique to perform an exercise you can cause your body to become misaligned, placing your tendons, muscles and joints in positions that can potentially cause strains or tears. One of the reasons why you repeat a set of exercises is so that you can perform it more efficiently and subconsciously.

Tip: Unsure of an exercise? Ask for help! Most gyms will have a personal trainer available to give you a hot tip or two about that squat form.

 

4.    Wear the Right Attire

If you have to question how long you’ve owned those shoes for, the answer will almost always be too long! There are a number of different shoes out there in the market – training shoes, walking shoes, running shoes… Having a pair specifically for training can give you both the stability of a lifting-specific shoes and lightweight flexibility of a cross-trainer for HIIT. Opt for a lightweight t-shirt or sweatshirt made from breathable material, and for your bottoms wear something flexible with an elasticated waistband. Make sure to invest in a supportive sports bra as well!

Tip: Functionality should be your top priority when it comes to choosing your training outfit.

 

5.    Fuel Your Body

Want to be faster? Stronger? Leaner? Your diet plays a key role. Proper nutrition will help fuel your muscles, keep you better hydrated and increase the amount of fat you burn. It's not possible to build new muscle tissue or increase your energy levels without an adequate protein intake!

Tip: Check out our Get Lean Nutrition Guide for more information about getting the right nutrients for training and the all-important nutrient timing.

 

6.    Know Your Limits

Listen to your body! If you’re tired, feeling fatigued, sick or ill-prepared you won’t have a good time during your training. Already facing an injury? Make sure to have the approval from your specialist (whether it’s your trainer, physiotherapist, chiropractor or general practitioner) before exercising.

Tip: Wanting to train but you’ve had a big day at work? Grab a foam roller for 15-30 minutes. You can thank me later.

 

7.    Invest in a Personal Trainer

Especially if you are interested in strength training! Not only are personal trainers excellent for that extra accountability, they are there for your safety – number 1!! They can help you correct your technique and form, as well as help to push yourself without going to far to risk an injury.

Tip: Make sure to find a trainer you connect with – most trainers will have a specialty, whether it’s strength & conditioning, boxing, pre/post natal or training for triathalons.

 

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This Is What Coffee Does To Your Training!

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

Instagram - Blog 

 

 

With an ever-increasing social acceptance of caffeinated products in the fitness industry, are we really making appropriate use and enhancing our performance or are we interfering with our training?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in various leaves, nuts, seeds and numerous plants – including the more commonly known coffee beans and cacao beans. Coffee, teas, cola, energy drinks and supplements are part of our general social acceptance (Catch up for a coffee, anyone?) and are increasingly popular for helping improve performance when marketed towards the fitness industry. These beverages often contain anywhere from 30mg to 120mg of caffeine and acts as an ergogenic aid during exercise. This helps our body to perform better during physical activity and change our perception on effort while exercising.

While we don't usually promote the use of caffeine or caffeinated products (due to long-term dependance or cortisol-related side-effects, we thought it may be useful for those who do use caffeine to understand what it's doing during your training session!

 

Does timing affect performance?

Consuming caffeine before or during training will increase our performance by influencing our central nervous system and reducing our perception of effort and perception of fatigue when consumed appropriately to an individual. Timing is important – for example, consuming caffeine prior to fasted cardio will promote the capacity for exercise due to the body’s low glycogen levels.

 

What benefits does caffeine have for training?

The most efficient way to benefit from caffeine during exercise is to use the lowest effective dose in the best form to minimize side effects. Generally the recommended dose of caffeine (to improve performance) is 1-3mg per kg of body weight. Daily, a 'healthy' amount to consume is 3-400mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to 3-4 cups of brewed coffee (where 1 shot of espresso is 75mg).

Endurance and resistance training session can benefit from caffeine consumption as it promotes a greater power output, increased speed, increased endurance and resistance to fatigue. When performing multiple lifts, throws or plyometric movements (box jumps, squat jumps, etc.), strength training can benefit from caffeine. Focus, vigilance and perception of fatigue are a bonus of the increased dopamine in the brain from caffeine.

 

Is caffeine effective for everyone?

During exercise a similar dose of caffeine can be effective on a person who is a habitual consumer to someone in withdrawal (of 2 – 4 days), however can be more effective when cycled with other supplements. It is possible to build up a tolerance within a few days of continued use – this is when side effects such as headaches upon withdrawal or trouble sleeping may occur. Try to “reset” your tolerance by taking 1-2 weeks off caffeine, then slowly re-introducing with smaller doses.

 

Are there any side effects from caffeine?

Whilst caffeine intake can effective for most people, high levels can cause a decline in performance - over-arousal during training may interfere with technique. Other side effects include impaired fine motor skills (shakiness), increased heart rate, high blood pressure and gastro-intestinal upset. Sleep disturbances and anxiety can also be a negative from being over-caffeinated or by incorrectly timing your dosage (check out our previous blog – Why am I tired all the time (part 1) -  Adrenal Maladaptation).

Continued use of caffeine in exercise or social situations can lead to a long-term addiction or dependency. Signs and symptoms of caffeine dependency include mood swings, anxiety, insomnia and twitching. Whilst a pre-workout supplement or energy drink may seem like a good idea before your training session try avoid using it every time that you train. Choose 2 training sessions each week (in a situation of training 4-5 times/week) where you feel you may need that boost the most.

Caffeine supplementation can be effective when focusing on endurance and resistance training. Remember to choose sugar-free options to remove the effect of carbohydrates – the benefits from caffeine are smaller in situations when carbs are consumed prior or during training.

References

Burke, L., Desbrow, B., Spriet, L., 2013. Caffeine for Sports Performance, 1st ed. USA: Human Kinetics.

Eat Right – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sarene Alsharif, MPH. 2018. Caffeine and Exercise. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-you-workout/caffeine-and-exercise.

Live Strong, Grey Evans. 2017. Is Caffeine Pre-Workout Bad? [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/487685-is-caffeine-pre-workoutbad/.

Sports Dieticians Australia. 2018. Caffeine. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sportsdieticians.com.au/factsheets/supplements/caffeine/.

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Stop Waiting Until Monday

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Written by Hayleigh Bennett

Eat Run Lift's HIIT and female weight loss specialist. Hayleigh is exclusively available as an online coach.
Learn more about Hayleigh here >

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How many times have you said ‘I’ll start again on Monday’ after skipping a workout or having a few too many cheat meals? I know I’ve said it more than a few times… we all have those days where we feel like we’ve completely sabotaged ourselves.

What I came to realise is that no matter how many Mondays would come and go, I would always see myself starting from the beginning. Giving up mid-week on a Wednesday or Thursday only to treat myself over the weekend with a bottle of wine and a cheese platter. Why is it that we don’t just pick up where we left off? Are we really that lazy to assume that all of that motivation is going to come back to us when it hits a new week? Or even the classic ‘I’ll start again next year’. With 2018 creeping up slowly it may seem like the easy way out to just put off being healthy until then, to wait until the new year to invest in a personal trainer or to buy into whatever the latest fitness craze is.

Motivation comes and goes and to be honest it can take up a whole lot of time and resources. How many photos can we actually save from Instagram before the pressure feels like too much, we feel overwhelmed and once again it all seems too hard. Life happens. Be kind to yourself, challenge yourself and strive for momentum not motivation. It’s alright to have good intentions but good intentions aren’t habits, and after all, good isn’t great.

 

Progress > Perfection

Nobody is perfect. Even that person on IG that you’re following who has that #goals body has had their fair share of bad days. You’re never going to nail those burpees if you’re going to start back at 5 reps every time you skip a workout. Good habits can be harder to form compared to how simple it is to keep bad habits - progress and persistence is key.

 

Muscle Memory

If you delayed your intention to start your healthy habits until Monday you’re more than likely going to find it more difficult to stick the habit. Think of it this way, if you don’t practice how are you going to see any progress? If we ‘practice’ our habits before Monday comes around we’re going to see our results come through much quicker. If we practice the same activity time and again through regular training our muscle memory will develop quickest.

Did you learn how to ride a bike through childhood? You’re probably never going to forget how to do that! Our muscle memory registers certain muscle movements, and these movements can be performed flawlessly after a decade long break.[1] This automatic response from muscle memory is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

For example, you’ve perfected your deadlift now it’s time to decide on your weights - maybe it’s even been a month since you last stepped into the gym and you were previously lifting 80kg, start off small with 50% during your warm up and go from there. Maybe last week you were doing 3 sets of 15 burpees, you’ve skipped a week because of illness and you’re thinking that you’ll just revert back to 3 sets of 5… what are you going to achieve from this? Let’s pick up where we left off - willpower! Your body has learnt how to perform, repair and rebuild muscles after all of this time - and this is how we progress, develop and get results.

 

How To Make It Stick

1.     Forget the idea of ‘all or nothing’ - giving it your all on Monday is an easy way out and a negative state of mind setting yourself up for an inevitable failure.

2.     Pay attention to your thoughts - if you catch yourself thinking ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that’ you’re responding to your negative reaction and now’s your chance to correct it - ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that, but I’ll allow it this time - I know that my lunch is a healthy option and I’ll make sure to spend that extra 5 minutes on the rower at the gym this evening’.

3.     Stop hating on yourself - positivity can do wonders for our mental and physical health, positivity is progress and feeds momentum. Self love is important, it’s your body and you should be the one to control what happens with it.

4.     Embrace the small changes - giving up your 1 can of soft drink per day may not seem like it’s paying off in the short term, but over 1 year that’s 58765 calories / 14600g (14.6kg or 32lb) of sugar that you’re not consuming.

5.     Don’t start again, start where you left off - often we find that around 4-6 weeks into a training program people start to drop off the band wagon or revert to starting again after missing a week or 2, whether it’s because an event, holiday or illness or from simply being too busy… our muscle memory is there for a reason! Pick up where you left off - not from the very start.

6.     Have someone to hold you accountable - whether it’s a workout buddy, housemate or a personal trainer, accountability means you’re being transparent with your responsibility and results with someone. After all, who are you going to brag to when you’ve hit your goals

References

1] C. Jacoby. 2017. Health Guidance. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/14351/1/What-Is-Muscle-Memory.html.