How Strength Training Can Aid Weight Loss

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Everywhere we look these days, we are encouraged to lose those last 5kgs, to reduce our calorie intake or to become healthier versions of ourselves. The wellness industry is a multi billion dollar industry but there’s the right way to do it and the wrong way. Magic pills, inspirational Instagram images, daytime TV segments, miracle super-foods from the Amazon. Many of which promise that you’ll lose weight in short periods of time.

Interestingly, some people still believe that weight loss can only be achieved through high levels of cardio alone. These are probably the same people who cringe at the thought of lifting weights, in the fear that it will cause them to bulk up like the Hulk. It’s time to dispel these silly myths. Here are some of the reasons why strength training is important for your goal of losing weight.

More Muscles Mean More Calories Burned

The main reason why strength training will help you shed the excess kilos is actually very simple. When you increase your muscle mass, your body needs to consume more calories in order to maintain this new-found level of muscle. Therefore, no matter what you are doing (exercising, walking or even lying down), your body will automatically be burning more calories. How much it consumes is widely contested, but the reality is that strength training is very beneficial. After all, who wouldn’t want a more toned butt,  arms and legs, and a more defined stomach?

A Stronger Body Goes The Distance

Some of the problems associated with a cardio only exercise regime include worn joints and fatigue, two factors that could lead to serious injury. Strength training on the other hand, has many benefits such as:

  • Improved stamina
  • Increased bone strength
  • Better protection of joints from injury
  • Improved flexibility and balance
  • Better posture

With this knowledge in mind, it’s easy to see the bigger picture: strength training helps transform your body into being sturdier, tougher and less prone to injury.

It Will Motivate You

One of the most rewarding outcomes of strength training is the results you see on your body. Better curves and all sorts of definition will appear over time, spurring you on in your quest for self-confidence and pride. On top of this, you’ll overcome challenge after challenge, gradually increasing the amount you can lift, the number of kettlebell swings that you can smash out in a minute or the number of chin-ups you can complete.

Don’t Forget Your Cardio

Of course, just like a cardio only exercise plan will limit your results, so to will an approach filled solely with resistance training. Moderation and variety is key to your success, so don’t forget to incorporate cardio exercise such as jogging, cycling, swimming, boxing and sporting activities. If you’re in need of a new, high-performing bike, check out retailers such as 99 Bikes online, and don’t forget to enquire with your local gym in regards to available classes and facilities. When it comes to sporting clubs and programs, you can either sign up with friends or use the opportunity to create new ones.

Have you had success with strength training? What sort of workouts do you do?

This post was written in conjunction with 99 Bikes.


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It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas – Myer Giftorium

I don’t know about you but with three kids under five, I spend a fair bit of time at shopping malls. Over the past eight weeks or so, more and more Christmas stuff has presented itself and I’m starting to get excited.

Yep, Christmas is just around the corner and with the shops  already a buzz with bon bons, tinsel and inflatable Santas, I’m itching to put my tree up.

Last year it went up on the 1st November but in my defence, it was a tough day at the office and I had run out of activities for the kids to do.

Each year I promise myself that I will be more organised and do my Christmas shopping early yet time and time again, I find myself fighting for a car park and waiting impatiently in lengthy queues.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Myer’s secret Christmas launch last Friday and let me just say, the Christmas Giftorium did not disappoint. For a busy mum like me, the thought of braving the shops during the festive season, scares the living daylights out of me. Myer have it covered though by offering a one stop shop for all your Christmas needs.

Interactive retail shopping

Interactive retail shopping

The Giftorium has been launched across all Myer stores, nationwide and will offer over 2.2 million products, enough to fill the MCG!  It will showcase the extensive product range across all areas including toys, homewares, fashion and cosmetics.

My kids and I experienced the magic of this fabulous event as soon as the lift doors opened.  I watched on as they  were entertained by magicians,  a ballerina dancer and a hoola hoop (or hoopy loop as my daughter calls it) girl. She was also quick to point out that she too wanted to join the circus when she was a grown up.

It wasn’t long before the kids caught a glimpse of the colourful display of lollies that spanned across two large tables and kindly obliged when invited over for some taste testing.

Santa said we could mum

Santa said we could mum

What I particularly liked about the Giftorium was the fact that you can find gifts for just about everyone in the one spot. Once again perfect for time poor mums and dads. We spent a good three hours there and when the kids started getting a little restless, I knew that that was my cue to leave.

When it comes to retail shopping, I think Myer absolutely got it right by creating this interactive,  fun and unique service that takes the seriousness out of shopping during the silly season. Instead offering customers an enjoyable experience with a little touch of magic.

Myer will also be bringing the magic of Christmas to it’s website with a dedicated Giftorium microsite to guide customers through the product offering and services included.

Thank you Kids Business and Myer for a fabulous day out and for reminding me that Christmas shopping is not that hard after all.

Are you an on-line shopper or do you prefer to go in store?

Disclosure: I was gifted with a $50 voucher, a soda stream and a show-bag at this event.  All opinions about the day are my own.

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Are You Really Craving Sugar?

Please note, I am not a doctor. I am a mum to 3 kids, PT and am currently studying a Lifestyle, Food and Wellness course. I encourage healthy, active living for my family and to those that are willing to listen. The information in the post below is from a documentary (Fat vs Sugar) that I viewed some time ago which resonated with me and I thought was worth sharing. It really is food for thought.

I have an interest in childhood obesity in Australia and keen to learn more about it. I recently watched a documentary that has really got me thinking and it’s one of the hottest questions in nutrition at the moment.

Is is Fat or Sugar that is causing the Western World to be obese?

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It has been thought that eating too much fat makes us fat and saturated fat, in particular raises cholesterol which leads to coronary heart disease.

Sugary foods on the other hand release insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Too much sugary food has been known to cause obesity which leads to diabetes which can then lead to cardiovascular disease. You following?

Now it’s not rocket science that if we consume more than our bodies need and don’t burn it off, we will gain weight. It’s also no surprise that eating excess amounts of the wrong foods, (donuts, fried foods, potato chips, greasy burgers, hot chips), will contribute to weight gain. But let’s dig a little deeper.

For years, the US has blamed sugar for it’s high obesity rates whilst on the other side of the Atlantic in the UK, fat has been the bad guy.

Doctors Xand Van Tullekan and identical twin, Chris Van Tullekan put these macro-nutrients to the test. You see, they are perfect recipients for an experiment like this as they are genetically the same.

To test the theory about whether fat or sugar is the reason why so many people in the Western World are overweight or obese, they went on extreme diets for one whole month. Xand went on a high fat, low sugar diet and Chris went on a high sugar low fat diet. Their bodies were not only put to the test, but their minds were also. The results were fascinating.

Before they started, both had their cholesterol and insulin levels tested as well as their overall weight and muscle mass. They wanted to note the changes to their fat and muscle as shifting fat is good but losing muscle is not healthy.

Now food is not only fuel for our bodies but also our minds and every single decision we make goes through our brains. The boys were put through their first test by playing the role of a Day Trader on the Stock Exchange after a week on their diets.

It was interesting to note that Chris who was on the high sugar diet performed much better than his brother who was on the high fat diet. He was more alert, had higher energy levels and performed better from a memory perspective.

There’s a very good reason for that too. Glucose is the main fuel for the brain so if you are on a low carb diet (eating little carbohydrates), stores of glucose will be very low. The good news is that the body has a back up plan. It can turn fat into energy compounds called Ketones but they are nowhere near as efficient. Getting on with day to day life isn’t going to be an issue but when you are put in an environment like the twins were where they had to really use their brains to function,  that’s when things will start to get challenging.

So with the mental test completed, it was time to move on to the physical test. The boys were not allowed to eat for 12 hours and were then put through a one hour cycling session. They were trying to determine whether fat or sugar was the best macro nutrient for exercise.

This test was run by one of the senior cycling coaches from a high performing team on the Tour De France. The brothers had their blood tests taken and after a one hour turbo training session, it was clear that Xand (high fat, low sugar) blood levels were much lower than his sugar fuelled brother.

To complete the task, Xand was given a sachet of butter whilst Chris was given an energy gel and both raced each other to the top of the mountain. Chris with his high sugar hit, was the first to reach the peak. The sugar was pulsing through his body which in turn gave him the fuel his body needed.

Now his brother also made it to the top of the mountain as you can power your body without sugar however there is a price to pay which was evident in Xand’s exhausted, weak state.

This is where it’s gets interesting. At the end of the month, the boys once again had their insulin and cholesterol levels tested as well as their overall weight and muscle composition.

Losing muscle mass is bad as it reduces your metabolism. Your body uses fewer calories and any excess calories you eat are stored as fat. So who loses muscle mass? People that diet. When you diet you will probably lose weight, however some of that weight loss comes from muscle mass. When you then go back to eating a normal diet again, your overall metabolism has been reduced and you are more likely to gain even more weight than you lost.

Xand (high fat, low sugar) lost 3.5kgs in a month, 2 of which was muscle mass and 1.5 was fat mass.

Chris (high sugar, low-fat) lost 1kg in a month, half of which was muscle mass and half was fat mass.

Both recorded little or no change to their cholesterol levels as when they began. What was interesting was that Xand who was on the high fat diet did not respond to insulin as well as he did before he started and as a result his body automatically produced more glucose. So much so that at the end of the challenge, he was .2 away from being diabetic. I would never have picked that.

So why do we crave sugary foods and why do they taste so damn good? Research shows that when the same proportion of fat and sugar is combined, we can’t get get enough.

You can test it out for yourself, if you dare. Place 2 cups of sugar in one bowl and 2 cups of double cream in another bowl. You would struggle to eat either the sugar or the cream on it’s own in large quantities, however if you mix them both together, I bet you wont be able to put it down. It’s essentially – ice-cream!

In the same documentary, a donut experiment was carried out in both the UK and the US. People in the street were offered one of three types.

A glazed donut, one packed with strawberry icing and the third packed with cream.

Which do you think was the most popular?

In both countries, the glazed donut was by far the people’s choice. Interestingly, the ingredients of the glazed donuts included 50% fat and 50% sugar.

Now if I were to put in front of you a bowl with two cups of sugar in it and asked you to eat it, you would probably start to feel quite ill. If I were to then give you a bowl with two cups of double cream in it and asked you to do the same, chances are, you would start to feel quite sick after a few spoon.

Mix them both together though and you have the most beautiful, delicious flavour that makes you want to go back for me. Essentially….ICE CREAM! In this example, it is not the sugar that is desirable nor is it the fat – it’s the combination of the both that is so irresistible and in so many of our foods.

Research now shows that the combination of fat and sugar supercharges our brains reward system completely overpowering it’s ability to tell us to stop eating! Makes sense yeah?

As human beings we can deal with a fat or sugar based diet in moderation as seen in this experiment as our bodies learn to adjust because it is has to. The body does however struggle to metabolised the mix of sugar and fat together and this is what is found in modern processed foods.

So in summary, it is not fat alone that is causing obesity nor is it sugar – it is the deadly combination of both that is making us fat.

Both sugar and unhealthy fats are inflammatory and this leads to weight gain and if not managed properly can lead to heart disease and other deadly diseases.

Obviously a lifestyle with little or no activity and over-eating isn’t going to help the cause but it’s important to note that many of our processed foods contain both sugar and fat that help make them so irresistible. As for the marketing on these products – well that makes for another blog post.

Did any of this resonate with you and what are your thoughts?

 

I’m flogging my blog today with Grace from With Some Grace.

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A Healthy Eating Guide For Busy Parents

Healthy eatingAs a mum, life becomes one big balancing act. Work and family time have to find some way of co-existing and every spare minute you get is usually dedicated to the needs of your children. When this happens it’s easy to get side tracked  when it comes to your own needs, particularly eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Below are some easy to accomplish healthy eating guides for time-poor parents out there.

Outsourcing is King

Sometimes outsourcing things to make your life easier is not such a bad thing. Not that I don’t have the time to cook but I’m not very good at it. There are some brilliant businesses out there such as 5.4 who offer nutritionally balanced, prepared meal plans that come frozen to your front door. Unlike the frozen meals you buy from the supermarket, these are cooked fresh by qualified chefs, then snap frozen so the goodness stays in. Perfect choices for busy mums and dads as all the preparation has already been done!

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day as it helps to kick-start your metabolism. Mornings are usually the busiest times for mums as you run around madly trying to get everyone out the door on time. Keep your breakfast simple and force yourself to eat something. Fibre-rich cereals like porridge with fruit on top are great as are a couple of boiled eggs with a cup of spinach. Quick and simple.

Prepare Your Snacks

Snacking is often the downfall of every great meal plan, unless of course you make your snacking just as healthy as the rest of your meals. Mixed nuts are ideal as you can buy these in large packets, and a small handful will actually help to curb your hunger. Fruit is another healthy choice and you can carry it in your  handbag. Raspberries and blueberries are easy snack foods and are chock full of fibre and natural sugars for an afternoon energy boost.

Plan Your Week

Yes, this part takes time but if you plan your week, I assure you that you wont be tempted to reach for the cookie jar. A healthy shopping list is the best way to make sure that you are only buying the goodness you need. It also results in a proper meal guide for the week, and means you can get in and out of the supermarket a lot quicker. Oh and don’t over complicate it. Simple, kid friendly recipes are the way to go. Soups or lean meat like chicken with veggies are a quick and easy choice as is a supermince using lamb, pork, beef or chicken. Just remember to avoid frying or overusing oil, (coconut oil is always a good choice) and steer-clear of too many pre-packaged sauces and take-away foods.

Health and fitness are at the forefront of many people’s minds these days, and therefore an array of options out there are making healthy living a more practical option. The important thing to remember is to make a plan. Take control today and you will find yourself with even more energy to dedicate to your kids.

What are some of your favourite healthy snacks?

This post was in collaboration with 5.4.

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It’s A Super Family Active Day – Get Involved

Back in January this year, I launched Family Active Day. A simple concept whereby each weekend throughout 2014, I encouraged people to grab a family member or the whole tribe for that matter and get active either on a Saturday or Sunday.

It could be anything from having a hit of tennis to finding a local trail to going for a long walk along the beach. It wasn’t just about keeping active though, it was about connecting with our loved ones and putting our busy lives aside for a few hours.

I have absolutely loved watching others get involved in Family Active Day throughout the year. Check out some of these awesome families getting their fit on.

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With 2014 coming to an end in a couple of months, I would like to get as many families out and about as possible for a Super Family Active Day  which will be happening on Sunday 16th November.

Haven’t spoken to your sister for a while? Give her a call and arrange to meet somewehere for a walk. Always wanted to do the 1000 Steps in Victoria? Grab your baby bjorn, pack a picnic and enjoy a fun day in the Dandenongs. Make it fun!

Other ideas include:

1. Go for a swim

2. Hire some bikes and go for a ride

3. Have a hit of tennis

4. Set up a mini athletics at a local park

5. Go for a jog

6. Walk the dog

7. Have a kick of soccer or football

8. Have a game of netball at a local court

9. Go ice-skating

10. Find an exercise station at a park and do a mini circuit

Exercise does not need to mean hours in a gym. In fact, I could think of nothing worse. Obesity is a very real problem in Australia and if we don’t start taking action now, our children will be suffering the consequences later.

So who is going to join me in November?

 I’m linking up with gorgeous Grace today for FYBF.

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