New Year’s Resolutions

When the New Year comes around, we all jump at the opportunity to make ourselves a better person. As basic as these are, I thought I’d share my resolutions with you, just in case you’re struggling to come up with some for yourself.

1) Stress Less:

Despite generally being a very positive person, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, because I’m also an undeniable perfectionist. This year, I’m challenging myself to seek out the good aspects in those situations where things haven’t gone quite to plan. The reality is, life is pretty damn great, and there are a whole load of things to be thankful for, always.

2) Sleep More:

This leads on from my last point, because for me (and most of us) lack of sleep is directly related to stress. In fact, even the thought of too little sleep stresses me out! As a Personal Trainer, my hours are pretty antisocial… 5am wake-ups aren’t ideal for your sleep pattern. However, better organisation will mean that I can get to bed earlier and catch those much-needed zzzs.

3) Minimise on Procrastination:

We’re all guilty of it, but I really am a first class procrastinator. When I have a to-do list as long as my arm, I’m too good at passing the time doing something arbitrary, as opposed to focusing on the task at hand. I could save a hell of a lot of time (and unnecessary stress) by getting it done straight away.

4) Make Time for People:

Living life at 1000 miles per hour means I all too often neglect spending time with those closest to me. So this year, I’m determined to spend more quality time with my loved ones. It’s all very well living out here in Dubai, but you’ve got to get out there and indulge yourself in all the city has to offer, if you want to make the most of your experience.

5) Content:

Last but certainly not least… Content, content, content. A blog without content really isn’t a blog at all, and I’ve been really slacking of late due to work commitments. So January is the month to get back on it, and hit you with some interesting info! Stay tuned…

Why You Need to Start Weight Training

Lifting weights is often a challenging prospect for someone who has never done it before. Most women have never ventured into the ‘man cave’ that is the weights room in their local gym. Admittedly, it can be daunting to walk into a generally male-dominated environment and start lifting. If you can get over that first hurdle, your body will thank you later.

So many women are hesitant to start strength training because they’re afraid to get ‘bulky’. Fortunately, this is a misconception ladies, and one that needs to be shattered ASAP. Sure, if your ambition is to get bulky, lifting weights can achieve this with the right programme and a strict diet. However, your everyday woman at the gym doing her barbell squats isn’t suddenly going to turn into the incredible hulk.

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The truth about weight training is that it’s the door to a more lean, toned and defined body. I’ve listed some of the key benefits below.

Calorie Burn: In comparison to cardiovascular exercise, resistance training burns more calories. Also, after a heavy lifting session, your body’s oxygen demand remains high for an extended period of time. This is referred to as ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’, or EPOC. Whilst your body requires more oxygen, your calorific expenditure is also increased, so you continue to burn calories once you’ve finished training.

Metabolism: For me this is the absolute best thing about strength training. Building lean muscle contributes hugely to fat loss. The higher your muscle percentage, the more calories the body is able to burn whilst at rest. Yes, you understood me correctly: the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. Pretty amazing, hey?

Bone Health: Lifting weights on a regular basis aids in increasing bone density, which helps keep problems such as osteoporosis at bay in later life.

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Heart Health: Studies have shown that those who lift weights are significantly less at risk of heart disease due to a reduction of triglycerides, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

That Body: Unlike cardio, which helps you lose weight through reduction of both fat and muscle tissue, strength training helps you to burn fat and build muscle. This means you start to sculpt those curves you’ve always wanted; hello new booty.

Confidence: Resistance training will help your confidence endlessly. You’ll feel stronger and able to accomplish so much more. It’s pretty hard not to be happy with a new, lean and toned body!

Stress Relief: Personally, I can’t think of a better way to combat stress than a heavy lifting session. Rather than letting the little things get to you, head to the gym and smash out a resistance workout – afterwards, you’ll feel revitalized and ready to combat anything.

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BodyBuilding.com is a great website to visit for some inspiration. This website gives a muscle-by-muscle breakdown of exercises to try:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/workout-muscle-groups.html

Recipe – Iced Coffee Protein Smoothie

You wake up in the morning ready for your daily caffeine fix, and all you can think about is heading to the local coffee shop to grab yourself a sweet, creamy iced coffee.

A Frappucino doesn’t sound too bad for you, right? Wrong! The traditional recipe is full of refined sugar and artificial flavourings; just not what your body needs to fuel your day.

What you really need is a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats (for more information on this, see How to Fuel Your Body in the Morning). Who knew it’s possible to achieve this combination in a homemade Iced Coffee Protein Smoothie!?

With a little organisation, you can stock your cupboards with fresh and nutritious ingredients and satisfy your cravings the healthy way. So many people say that they ‘don’t have time’ to eat breakfast, but with this recipe, that’s not an excuse – it takes less than 5 minutes to make!

So next time you’re feeling tempted by a shop-bought, ice cold sweet treat and you’re just not ready to surrender your morning caffeine fix, why not try making this simple recipe at home instead? It’s SO much better than the original, and full of goodness that your body will thank you for.

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The Recipe

Vegan

Gluten free

Dairy free

Refined sugar free

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Ingredients (Always use organic products where possible):

  • One small cup of double strength coffee, cooled
  • ½ cup of natural dairy free milk. I use Rude Health almond milk because it’s delicious and free from chemicals
  • Two frozen bananas
  • Two scoops of protein powder. I use unflavoured Pulsin Soya Protein because it’s completely natural, but a vanilla or chocolate protein would work equally well
  • Two heaped teaspoons of nut butter. I use Meridian cashew nut butter
  • Two heaped teaspoons of raw cacao powder. I use Organic Traditions
  • ½ teaspoon ground vanilla seeds or pure vanilla extract (without ethanol)
  • One/two cups of ice, depending on how slushy you like your smoothie
  • If you prefer your smoothie extra sweet, you can add two medjool dates

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Preparation – The Night Before:

  • Brew the coffee and leave to cool, before storing overnight in the fridge
  • Peel the bananas and chop into chunks, before placing in the freezer in a tupperware

Creation – In the Morning:

  • Remove banana chunks from the freezer and place in the blender, along with cooled coffee
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the mixture
  • Blend until smooth
  • Enjoy!

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The great thing about this recipe is that it’s really versatile. Here, I’ve served mine as a smoothie bowl, topped with crushed pistachios, but you can also bottle it and take it on the go – perfect for those busy mornings.

The Danger of Diet Pills

In the modern world, diet pills are becoming an increasing phenomenon. The overwhelming desire to lose weight is leading thousands of individuals to purchase chemical products that they perceive to be a ‘quick fix’ to losing fat, fast. Manufacturers make far-fetched promises, the vast majority of which are not backed up with any evidence.

Diet pills tend to contain stimulants such as caffeine, dextromethorphan or ephedrine. These chemicals have the capacity to suppress your appetite and increase your metabolism for a short period of time. Both of these effects wear off rapidly, with no long-term alterations to your resting metabolic rate or the scale of your appetite.

Many of these products are purchased on the internet, and marketed as ‘natural remedies’ or ‘herbal substances’. However, the reality is that because such products do not require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they can be extremely damaging to your health. Although ‘ingredients’ may be listed, you cannot be certain that this information is reliable.

Too often diet pills purchased online contain traces of illegal or extremely harmful chemicals. Recently, health commissioners have issued a warning about the substance 2,4-dinotrophenol (commonly known as DNP), which has been found in weight loss pills bought on the internet. The chemical, regularly used as a raw material to create explosives, has been directly linked to a number of diet pill related deaths.

Most deaths linked to weight loss substances occur as a result of a severely increased internal body temperature and/or an escalated heart rate, which eventually leads to heart failure.

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Both over the counter diet pills and those purchased online come with an array of other potential side effects. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Sleeplessness

Despite these risks, the demand for diet supplements continues to rise. People struggle to come to terms with the idea that there is no ‘wonder pill’. Fat loss is a journey, and it occurs as a result of clean eating and dedication. Anyone can do it.

There are plenty of ways to boost your metabolism naturally, details of which will be included in my next post.