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Is Your Social Life Ruining Your Healthy Eating Habits?

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Is your social life hindering your healthy eating habits? It might be an after-work drink that kicks on into after-work drinks, or hanging out with the friend who convinces you going to the dessert restaurant after dinner is a fantastic idea. Regardless of what it is, if you have gut problems, sensitivities, or are just trying to make healthier choices with your eating, it's time to take responsibility for your own actions.

In this article I'm going to share some tips to incorporate your healthy eating habits into your social life.


[READ MENUS]
Before you go to a restaurant read the menu and see if there's things you're able to eat, or if you're able to request changes. Restaurants that won't accept menu alterations will usually have it written on their menus. 


[COOKING TERMS]
Familiarise yourself with cooking terms if you haven't already. Examples:
- Blanch: plunging fruits and veg into boiling water for a very brief period of time and then refreshing them in ice or cold water to cease the cooking process.
- Poach: cook a food by placing it in simmering liquid.
- Steam: cooking food in an enclosed environment infused with steam.
You get the idea, I'm sure ;)


[DRINK WATER]
I always opt for water as my drink when I am eating out at a restaurant. There's no need to choose juice, soda, or alcohol to ruin whatever healthy option you're going to choose to eat.


[...if you're up for it... QUIT ALCOHOL]
Temporary or permanent ban, it's up to you. This is a tricky one, but the health benefits that can come from it (and the money you will save) is well worth it, in my opinion anyway. It's now been about 6 months since I've had any alcohol! Is it a permanent change, who knows, I don't like to feel locked in, but it's definitely had a huge impact on the overall effect my diet and exercise has on my body.

Many people use alcohol as a social lubricant. Without it you will actually have to develop some confidence and charisma. This might seem daunting, but did you know that alcohol will inhibit your human growth hormone (which your body needs for recovery and growth) by as much as 70% in the days following a night of drinks.  That's a lot of gym work down the drain, especially if you already have a sluggish metabolism or thyroid issues.


[INVITE THEM OVER]
Host a dinner where everyone brings over a meal to share! This option means you can wow (or horrify) your guests with your culinary skills... or lack thereof, and you can have a casual evening in with good company and food that suits your needs!


[CHANGES]
Ask the waitstaff how something is cooked if it isn't suggested in the name of the dish. And request small changes to adapt your meal to suit you, e.g. for my keto maintenance I'm most likely to ask for "no rice and double veggies". One thing to overcome with this is the mental hurdle of feeling like you're being a hassle or making someone go out of their way for you, feel free to ask, this is your health that you're trying to look after.


[MODERATION]
Remember that it's totally fine to let yourself relax and not feel restricted by your choices. If you struggle with keeping on top of this and keeping yourself accountable set yourself a set time, or set allowances for having your relaxed meals (treat meals, cheat meals, whatever you like to call them). For example, every Friday night, or two allowances per week. This is just to ensure that you knowhow often you're eating things which don't suit your goals.


Overall, it's important to find a lifestyle that suits your goals and works best with your body. So whether you're vegetarian, keto, vegan, fodmaps, sugar-free, or any other plethora of diet-styles out there you'll need to make your lifestyle work with your eating habits, rather than thinking the food you have to eat is a chore and getting in the way of your social life. Find ways to enjoy the whole lifestyle change, not just tolerate them!

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Depression vs Training: 7 Tips

So, I'm sorry there hasn't been a blog post from me for a while, and it pretty much comes down to one thing. Inspiration, well and motivation. Yep, me, Beau, the personal trainer who has no motivation. I'm human, this stuff happens, and having Fibromyalgia contributes a lot to it. 

I was meant to write a post of activation of the muscles, but I think this is more important to so many people out there who suffer from depression. There are many reasons why people go through a period like this, for me I discovered that it was my surroundings. It's a build up of stress>anxiety>depression, and if it's an ongoing chronic problem it can develop in to adrenal map adaption and auto immune disease. Like my case for example. Once you have it, it can take a while to get rid of. Most of the time when we are depressed there are a few basic things that we all do, it's the first thought of acting against depression: go see a doctor and then a psychologist and then medication. Sometimes that's a quick fix but doesn't change the source of the problem.

Now, I hear you saying, what has this post got to do with me getting a thin waist and a big butt in your face? Everything. It's a revolving door. We help with health, physical and mental, and when you take care of your brain it takes care of your body. 

There have been a few things that I have done that you can do too that can help short term and long term. I'm here to help you feel good and smile again. 

Here we go:

1. I did this last night when I was feeling bad, no matter what situation you're in, put on a comedy movie, a TV show, something that will make you laugh. It's pretty hard to hold back a laugh or a smile, and in return that can make you feel better. 

2. Don't sweat the small stuff. After being in Japan for a week, I realised that here (Australia) so many people work themselves up in to a frenzy of stress for no reason. Tokyo is so busy, people are going to step on other people's toes. Don't take it personally, it's going to happen. So when you're in the city, or driving and someone is in your way, don't make yourself angry for no reason. It's not going to change the outcome. Stress is contagious in a way, when you're angry, you make other people angry, if you don't get the job done, it makes other people fall behind. So just breathe, and understand that's life. 

3. Go outside, get some sun. Even if it's for 5 mins a day getting extra vitamin D from the sun can help increase natural happiness hormones and endorphins. 

4. Plan some stuff! Whether it's a trip to the beach, a holiday, your finances, movie date or just a chat on the phone with mum. Getting into a routine and having things to look forward to breaks up time and makes the boring days pass quicker! 

5. On a larger note, if things aren't looking up, sometimes it's the scene you are in. There maybe a negative force in your life, whether it's work, home, friends, they can majorly impact your happiness, and it's not as hard as you think to change, it's just fear. It's a transitional period. I heard the other day that change is like getting in to the pool. You're comfortable with being on the outside, but when it comes time to jump in, you hesitate. Is it going to be cold? For a little bit, but once you're fully submerged you get used to it. Take a chance. 

6. If a dramatic change like that is too much do some stuff around the house. Rearrange the furniture, a little change is a good start. De-clutter. I know when I have too many emails, or files all over my computer it can make the anxiety less rise due to the fact that I don't feel like I'm in control. Create some new folders, keep the stuff you need and delete what you don't. Same with possessions. You know those underwear that have the holes in them, or the dress that's way way way out of fashion. Time to go. 

7. Last but not least. Exercise. I've explained this a few times on how it helps with mental illness and how mental illness can slow down results. But it's a big cycle, the less stressed you are, the less cortisol and the less fat you will have around your midsection, as well as motivation, focus and energy! On the other hand, having the motivation to start a work out sometimes is impossible. But start off small and get in to an easy routine, it's not about hammering yourself 100km an hour from the beginning. Start eating fresher food, drink less alcohol and your body will rest better, recover better and release more good endorphins = a healthier attitude and lifestyle. 

Don't feel like you are the only one that feels like this, as we all fall apart sometimes. If you need a place to start, a small routine can help, we would recommend starting with the 8 Week Transformation Challenge guide to help you on your way to your fitness goals. Check it out here.

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Stress, Weight Gain, and What To Do About It!

Let’s just start by saying that stress, to some degree, is necessary and can even be beneficial. It can increase your productivity and drive, and even save your life when you need a quick response during an accident or other life-threatening situation. However, these quick bursts of stress are not what we’re covering today, we’re talking about long-term chronic stress.

Stress can come from work, relationships, kids, etc, and even use of caffeine and pre-workout can add to the body’s stress levels. Whilst nowadays the stressors that we usually encounter are more psychological than physiological (we’re not usually being hunted down by larger land animals..) they can still alter the performance of your body. The effects that cortisol (the stress hormone) has on the human body are primarily metabolic, but can also impact immune response, ion transport and memory. Long-term constant cortisol exposure from chronic stress can impair cognitive function, decrease functionality of the thyroid gland and associated hormones, and in turn increase abdominal fat. High levels of cortisol have also been studied to prolong wound healing.

The stress that occurs in the human body is triggered by change and affected by how your body responds to that change. Regardless of the situation you are in, chemicals will send a signal to your brain which releases cortisol. If the situation is fine, no worries. If this continues to keep happening extremely regularly, or if it is ongoing, the cortisol returns and blocks other neurotransmitters, mainly noradrenaline (the main neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system) and serotonin (the happiness hormone), this can create an ongoing cycle of stress. Anxiety, insomnia and depression can be caused by chronic cortisol response such as this. 

The link between having too much cortisol and weight gain is that usually if we’re starting to get a bit hungry between meals, our body will release cortisol because our blood sugar has dropped. To help us get by cortisol activates amino acids, glucose and fats to maintain our blood sugar level, and the insulin that comes along with it increases glucose absorption in the cells. So cortisol is trying to be a good guy, but he just gets carried away sometimes, such as in the case of prolonged, or long-term stress. When both the cortisol and insulin levels remain elevated in the body the extra glucose starts to become stored as fat, usually around the abdominal area.

So what can you do to stop stressing so much? I’ve put a video on my channel of 10 easy and inexpensive things to do regularly to ensure that you’re keeping your cortisol levels in check. By reducing the constant stress you can help stop the bad side-effects that come along with adrenal imbalance.

References

Rosmond, R, Dallman, M, and Bjorntorp, P 2009. Stress-related cortisol secretion in men: Relationships with abdominal obesity and endocrine, metabolic and hemodynamic abnormalities. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Vol. 83, No. 6.

Dickerson, S, and Kemeny, M 2004. Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin. Vol. 130, No. 3, pp. 355-391.

Epel, E, Lapidus, R, McEwan, B, and Brownell, K 2001. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: A laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behaviour. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Vol. 26, pp. 37-49.