How to Stay Fit on a Summer Vacation

Today, I want to welcome and thank Peter, a beauty and fashion editor at HighStyleLife magazine in the UK, for doing up this amazing guest post for Beautiful Health. Peter is based in London, and occasionally in Brisbane, Australia and also works as a fashion stylist for many events around the UK and Australia.

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When it comes to the matters of getting in shape (or staying in shape) – there’s always a sense of urgency about it. We can’t really be sure why but the thing is, whenever the scale jumps to three, four pounds extra, we get a panic attack and decide there and then something must be changed about our daily routines. Talks of healthy diet are evoked, regular visits to the gym too, and of course – all other healthy habits are immediately called into practice.

Since you’ve nailed it all in time, and you’re just maintaining your goal weight, you are good to go. However, consider that you are about to go on a vacation, and you’ll probably be tempted to indulge in all kinds of gorgeously delicious and exotic sweets, drinks and foods you’ve never tried before. And sure, with all that – you’ll be at risk of gaining a few extra pounds… and we don’t want that now, do we?

Here’s how to keep yourself fit and still enjoy every single moment of your holiday:

Eat whatever you want…

…in moderation! Nobody expects you to say “no” to fresh baklavas or all the amazing Mediterranean food but, as long you are eating it smartly, you are okay. You won’t gain weight by eating one cake in five days, but you will if you eat five cakes in one day. Be smart, don’t let all the hard work go to waste.

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Party hard…

…but reduce alcohol and soda beverages to a minimum. Going to a foreign country and not experiencing their night life first hand is bizarre. Honestly, we’d never advise you against a good party, not in a million years. But… what we are strongly advocating is keeping yourself as far away from the alcohol as possible. Instead, hit the dance floor, sweat it out and it’ll be like squeezing in a workout while having an amazing time!

NOTE: What you should be drinking in liters is water! You already know that this magic drink is something to swear by. It’s keeping you hydrated, it’s keeping you full and you are feeling more and more energized with every new sip. So, drink up!

Don’t starve…

…rather, eat foods that are healthy, but keep you full. Going on vacation is the perfect opportunity to experiment with new types of veggies, fruits and extracts you haven’t tried before, so enjoy making your morning shakes and energy drinks. You can always mix up tastes you already like, so feel free to throw in some organic pea protein powder in your smoothie for taste, and combine it with the local’s recommended veggies for experience.

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Don’t join the local gym…

…but take a stroll down the beach every single day before bed or in the morning. If you are a runner, go for a morning run to kick start your metabolism and enjoy the wonderful seaside! Naturally, when you are on the beach, don’t focus on tanning – but swimming. Swimming is an amazing exercise that burns calories rapidly, gets your whole body in shape and is incredibly refreshing. Also you should consider yoga or pilates on the beach. It’s fun yet relaxing!

Sleep till late…

…but only if that means not waking up after 9am. Your body does need sleep to accumulate energy, so make sure you squeeze in at least six hours of sleep a night. You might want to challenge yourself and run on four hours or so (it does get tempting and we understand the urge to take all the new experiences in), but the more tired you are, the more food your body is going to need to keep you functioning. This will only lead to late night snacks, binge eating, romantic walks to the local food stands… ah, you know the drill.

Basically, it all comes down to self-control. Sure, 10 days of your life won’t change much overall, but they will have an impact on your body in the long run. So, be smart and careful about your choices, and you’ll keep that body banging!

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Infographic: Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

The idea of losing weight is one that has crossed the minds of so many people, but should weight loss really be our goal? We’ve all heard that muscle weighs more than fat, and yet we all spend our time focusing on the wrong numbers – the number of kilos on the scale; the number of calories in our lunch.

But the number we should really focus on is the percentage of fat in our bodies. If the number on the scale doesn’t lower by much, but you’ve lost 5% of your body fat through exercise, healthy eating, then you’re doing a great job.

So when Shannon from Medilean pointed me in the direction of this infographic, I knew I had to share it with my readers.

It details the differences between weight loss and fat loss and for those of you who are on a health kick, I think it will really help you out.

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I hope you got some valuable information from this post. I’d love to hear your stories about losing body fat and losing weight, so feel free to post them in the comments section.

And if you know anyone who is struggling to get the number on the scales down, feel free to share this infographic with them – it might just renew their enthusiasm.

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Athlete Mindset Workbook: A great way to achieve your 2015 fitness goals

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Click this image to go the the Athlete Mindset Workbook website.

A while ago, I was lucky enough to receive an amazing workbook in the post. The Athlete Mindset Workbook by Terry Orlick, Leslie Lewis and Fatima Leite Kusch, is a practical step-by-step sports psychology guide for making your dreams a reality, according to the website, and I can see exactly what they mean.

This workbook is perfect for anyone who feels like they’ve fallen short of their fitness goals too often and needs a new state of mind to help them power through. Sometimes writing down your fitness goals is an excellent way to stick to them, and this workbook aims to help you with that.

So how did it all get started?

Leslie Lewis was a member of Fatima’s fitness sisterhood Team Blessed Bodies. In spite of her best efforts, Lewis almost gave up her dream of competing in a national fitness competition after losing focus and feeling discouraged.

Fatima knew that Lewis had worked way too hard to give up, so the two women decided to approach Dr. Terry Orlick, a world-renowned life and performance coach, who has transformed thousands of lives over the past 35 years.

Together, they created a comprehensive plan that would enable Lewis to achieve the best physical, mental and emotional shape she had ever been in.

Lewis, Orlick and Leite Kusch share their best advice in this encouraging and inspirational workbook that will help anybody get the body they’ve always wanted in 2015.

“It was a well-coordinated effort as most times we were on different coasts, in different countries, with multiple time zones, and for a while, different continents,” the authors told me about their team work.

“The book grew from Terry’s work, brought to Leslie by Fatima as part of her coaching for Fatima’s Team Blessed Bodies, which is a sisterhood of fitness models, fit women and physique athletes. Team members contributed interviews. It’s a true co-creation!”

If the idea of fitness models and athletes is a bit daunting to you, then have no fear. These bodies may seem so unachievable to us, but the authors of the Athlete Mindset Workbook have complete fate in the power of self-belief.

“Mindset is… everything! That’s why it’s in the very title of our book, the Athlete Mindset Workbook. Your thoughts really do create and shape your reality on so many levels,” said the authors in an interview with Beautiful Health.

“Everyone knows that crash diets and exercise plans never really work for the long term. That’s because it’s the inner journey of focus and mindset that make lasting change possible.

“This book gives the user practical tools that they can put to use immediately to help them turn dreams into reality.”

One look at the book will show you that the authors mean business. There are exclusive interviews with various athletes, tips and advice, and questions to ask yourself to keep you on the road to your fitness goals.

“We created the workbook so that people could really define and fine-tune their fitness goals, then strategise, create a clear plan, and stay focused on doing what they need to do to follow that plan for success,” the authors told me.

“This book offers a unique and powerful way to really succeed with fitness goals through the mental work that’s required in order to make lasting changes.”

We’ve all been in that place where we just can’t keep up with our own fitness dreams. We hit the gym a couple of times a week for two or three weeks, and then there’s a muscle ache that just won’t go away.

I’m half talking about myself here. In January I started doing Insanity training, and I stuck with it for about six weeks and felt amazing. But then I got an ache – my IT band started to hurt and it never stopped.

That was about a month ago, and the pain still hasn’t lessened. Needless to say, it put a spanner in the works and wiped away the motivation I once had for exercise.

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So what can we do to motivate ourselves to pursue our fitness goals?

“There are five stages to change the process. First is Pre-Contemplation. These people don’t think they need to change and that’s fine,” said the authors when asked what they would say to someone who is severely lacking the motivation to follow their dreams.

“The next stage is Contemplation – and this is the ‘unmotivated’ person who has an idea of wanting to be more fit, but may feel completely daunted by what they believe is necessary for the fitness level they want for themselves.

“This Contemplation phase is actually extremely important and what we would say to those people is: Baby Steps. They should give themselves the luxury of starting to explore what change might require of them, and take tiny incremental steps in that direction.

“The other three stages, by the way, are Action, Maintenance and Relapse (which takes you back into Contemplation to start the cycle again!).”

It’s certainly a relief to know that relapse is one of the stages and that even the experts see it as something that takes you back around in the cycle.

“Often people who define themselves as ‘unmotivated’ are simply discouraged or defeated by past failures to achieve their goals. More often than not, what’s required is the change in mindset – rather than a new diet or exercise plan – in order to succeed.

“The workbook can help any individual who is willing to actually do the exercises. So our advice would be: buy the book and then actually use it. If that feels like too much, try just looking at the sample chapter that we offer on the website, AthletMindsetWorkbook.com.”

The good news is, you don’t have to go to the gym to use the workbook, which is great if you don’t have hundreds of euros to throw away on membership every year.

“There are many ways to stay fit that don’t involve a gym membership. The Athlete Mindset Workbook offers examples of a high-intensity interval training workout and a short yoga routine that can be done anywhere,” the authors explain.

“What matters is finding a workout that you enjoy and that works for your life; one that you can create habits of consistency and commitment around.

“Starting with a goal of walking around the block once, three times a week can be enough to just start helping an individual get going.”

So with all that in mind, how exactly would the authors advise people to use this workbook?

“First and foremost, just read the book and do the exercises. They work! Second, really make the workbook yours. Write in its pages. Highlight favourite quotes from the interviews. Do the optional exercises like creating a vision board and putting reminders of your goals as alerts in your phone. These details make a difference and can really help.

“Finally, have fun with it! We encourage you to celebrate whenever you complete a task in the workbook or do anything that moves you closer to your goals.

“We would love for you to find a friend to become your fitness buddy so that you can do the  mindset exercises with each other. You can be halfway across the world yet share your successes and adventures together.

“However you choose to use this material, we wish you all the best in your fitness journey.”

I personally have forgotten my IT band pain and plan on getting started on my fitness goals on Monday. I’ve read through the book and can really see myself sticking to a good fitness regime using the exercises in this workbook.

If you’d like to find out more about the workbook, visit http://www.athletemindsetworkbook.com. You’ll be glad you did!

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Yoga vs Pilates: Which do you prefer?

Yoga and Pilates are two excellent ways of keeping fit, flexible and healthy. But sometimes it can be difficult to know which of the two would suit you the most.

Exercise can be a chore or it can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to pick a form of exercise that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. For example, if you don’t like running, don’t run. If you love swimming, then swim.

The same goes for Yoga and Pilates.

Recently, Tasha from Liquid Lifestyle got in touch with me and sent me this infographic which compares the two and will help you to understand which would suit you better.

I personally found it so interesting and I’d love to know what you think. Let me know in the comments section.

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Exercise: Good for the body and the mind

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Health experts are constantly singing the praises of exercise and for good reason. The benefits that regular exercise can have not only on your physical health, but also on your mental health are limitless. And to top it all off, the better you feel physically and mentally, the more radiant and happy you’ll look to others.

Countless studies have shown that regular exercise can combat various health problems, while boosting your mood, improving your health and reducing stress, making you a healthier, fitter and happier version of yourself.

So here are a number of reasons you should start exercising more:

Reduce Stress: Taking a walk or heading to the gym for a workout after a tough day at the office is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress. Physical activity will stimulate various brain chemicals and release endorphins that will boost your mood and leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Various studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression.You don’t need to spend a fortune on a gym membership you feel you’ll never use. A simple 30-minute walk or jog is more than enough to free the endorphins.

Boost Energy: Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and cardiovascular system, helping your heart and lungs to work more efficiently. This will improve your strength and endurance, giving you a boost in energy and motivation so you feel able to go about your daily chores.

Combat Disease: Those who are at risk of heart disease or high blood pressure are repeatedly told by doctors and nutritionists to exercise regularly. This is because regular physical activity can boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as good cholesterol, and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This keeps the blood going, decreasing the risk of heart disease. In fact, exercise can improve or help to prevent a vast number of health concerns such as strokes, diabetes, arthritis and certain types of cancer.

Control Weight: For those who want to lose weight, exercise is one of the most important and effective ways to do so, along with a healthy balanced diet. Engaging in physical activity burns calories and the more exercise you do, the more calories you’ll burn. If you don’t have time to exercise, try to get more active during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to work if possible. Take a walk on your lunch break. If you work in an office and need to talk to someone on the other side of the room, get up and go to them instead of sending an email. Even housework can burn calories.

Get Better Sleep: Regular exercise can help you to fall asleep quicker and improve your quality of sleep, but try not to exercise too close to bed time; you’ll feel pumped and too energised to sleep.

Top Exercise Tips

  1. Track your progress. Time yourself if you’re walking, running or cycling. Push yourself to beat your own time. This will help you to understand how effective your exercise is. It can also motivate you to keep going when you start to see results, or to change your routine if you don’t.
  2. Compound movements are important. These are movements that use more than one muscle, so you’re getting a better workout all-round.
  3. Do exercises you like. If you hate going to the gym and lifting weights, don’t do it. If you get a thrill from running or playing soccer or dancing or swimming, do that instead. You’ll have fun and you’ll want to keep going.
  4. Don’t do too much at once. If you overwork yourself, you’ll take longer to recover and you might feel weary of doing the same thing again.
  5. Recovery is important too. Let your muscles recover from an intense workout so they can get stronger and be prepared for the next workout.
  6. Exercise and nutrition are hand in hand, so be sure to have a healthy balanced diet rich in healthy fats and proteins.

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What are the different kinds of exercise?

Aerobic: Also known as cardiovascular exercise (or cardio), aerobic exercise involves continuous movements with large muscle groups for 20 minutes or more. Aerobic exercises can include walking, running, rowing, swimming or cycling. Aerobic exercise is great for weight loss and improves endurance and strength.

Anaerobic: To improve strength and muscle power, anaerobic exercises are best. These increase the force of muscle contractions, helping you to become stronger. Anaerobic exercise involves fewer muscle contractions than aerobic exercises, but the contractions are more intense, providing optimal strength. Weightlifting, sprinting and plyometrics are examples of anaerobic exercises.

Flexibility: Yoga and stretching are popular examples of flexibility exercise. These exercises enhance the range of motion of your muscle and joint movements and are beneficial after anaerobic exercise as they relieve muscle tightness and help with recovery. Post-workout stretches can be held for up to half a minute for maximum effect, while yoga poses can be held for up to five minutes.

Stability: Balance, core training and agility are excellent examples of stability exercises as they improve your ability to maintain body alignment while resisting movements. These exercises improve your control over your body and significantly strengthen the muscles, which in turn can help you to perform anaerobic exercises to the best of your ability.

It’s a good idea to try a combination of these kinds of exercise to really give your body a workout and look and feel your best.

I personally am getting ready for bikini season as I anticipate my upcoming summer holiday. I wrote a blog post quite a while ago about getting that beach body, which you can find  here.

Happy exercising!

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