Stretch It Out

Here is a great little stretch routine to help open your body and keep those hard working muscles happy.

You can perform these moves straight after a workout, a hot shower or a foam rolling session.

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Kneeling Lunge- Hip Flexor Stretch

Lunge forward with knee on padded mat. Position foot beyond forward knee. Lift up from the pelvis and push the hips forward. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

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Upper Hamstrings- Kneeling Extension

Maintain first position. This time lift up from the pelvis and push your hips back. Keep a slight bend in the front leg to target the upper hamstrings. Hold for 20 seconds then proceed to straighten the front leg until you feel a stretch behind the knee. Hold for 20 seconds.

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Seated Spinal Twist- Glutes, Lats and Spinal opener

Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly lift one leg and place it over the opposite. Rest your foot so that it is flat against the mat. If you have enough space in your hips, slowly lift up from your pelvis  twist around to place the opposite elbow on the outside of the bent knee. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

 

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Hip Rotators – Lying Glute Stretch

Lie flat on the mat with your bent upwards in front of you. Slowly twist one leg so that the ankle is resting on the opposite legs knee. Using your hands slowly draw the bent knee towards your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 

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Cobra- Spinal Opener

Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body. Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubic bone firmly into the floor. Slowly Straighten your arms and lift your chest up off the mat whilst maintaining a strong lower body, hold for 10 seconds and repeat.

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Childs Pose- Lower Back Opener

Start by kneeling on your hands and knees. Slowly lower your bottom towards your heels feeling the tailbone lengthen away from the back of your pelvis. As your torso folds over your thighs, lengthen the back of your neck before your forehead rests on the floor. Place your hands above your head and stretch out your arms. (In this picture my knees are together for a deeper lower back stretch, widen your knees to get a deeper shoulder stretch).

Helpful Hints

  • Remember to breathe! Exhale when moving into the stretch to take it deeper and increase your range of motion.
  • Stretch should be uncomfortable but never painful. Take it to a point that works for your body and current flexibility.

 

Happy Stretching 🙂

Vacay The Healthy Way

My Top Tips on How to Stay Healthy When Travelling

So as most of you know, I have just returned from a two week kickback on the incredible Big Island in Hawaii. I had the most amazing time relaxing, adventuring and celebrating with loved ones from across the sea and still managed to keep on track with my health and fitness goals in the process. Here are a few strategies I used to keep myself in check.


image1Be prepared

Holidays are unpredictable and if it’s like travelling with my family plans change all the time! It’s therefore important for you to kit yourself up with the essentials to ensure you don’t end up in a Macca’s drive thru. Here are a few sure fire ways you can always be prepared whilst travelling.

  • Pack snacks- Meal time can be very sporadic when you are on vacation and if you are like me and need feeding every three hours, you will need make sure you have an array of healthy snacks on hand (to avoid  “hanger” tantrums and overindulging in the wrong kind of foods).
  • Bring your training gear along- When opportunity strikes, take it. I did so many spontaneous workouts in amazing places when I was away ( trail running through an awesome rainforest, a superset on a beautiful rock platform and a rock workout on the beach). It was a great way to burn calories and create some memorable experiences.
  • Research cafes or restaurants that serve healthy cuisine- I don’t know if you’ve noticed but healthy eating is very trendy at the moment and there are a lot of cafes and restaurants popping up around the place that specialise in ‘clean’ cuisine (especially in Western Cultures). Google your local surrounds and I am sure you will find something.
  • Get to know the local grocers- I know it may be tempting to eat out every chance you get but sometimes a good quality, home cooked meal is just what the doctor ordered. Make it social event by getting your friends and family involved in a healthy, holiday style cook up.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 12.19.08 pm Explore

Run, walk, hike and immerse yourself in the surrounding culture and scenery. It’s a great way to burn calories, soak up the atmosphere of your destination and tone those glute muscles. IMG_8742Step out of your comfort zone

Vacations are a great opportunity for you to try new sports no matter where your destination is. Whilst on my vacation to Hawaii I rekindled my love for snorkelling. I fell in love with the underwater gardens scattered around the island and all that kicking made my booty very happy. As I was on an Island I had a vast array of recreational sports to choose from; like surfing, paddle boarding, volley ball etc. If your destination has a bit more of a inland vibe your options may be; Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, trail running etc. image3-4Make the most out of your time

If I want to workout whilst on holidays I wake up early and start sweating before anyone else is up. That way I don’t feel like I am missing out on any thing.

Quick intense workouts are also a perfect way to squeeze in a sweat in between holiday activities. When everyone else is having a bit of down time you can rev up that metabolism with a fat burning HIIT or Tabata.

Here is a great workout that will target your whole body and it perfect for hotel rooms; Perform each move for 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest in between.

  • Mountain Climbers
  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Ab bikes

Complete 4 rounds.

Check out my Instagram page for more examples. Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 12.02.10 pmIndulge, nourish and eat smart.

I get it you’re on holiday, there is temptation everywhere and the last thing you want to do is miss out on trying out new, delicious, local cuisines….Guess what? you don’t have to. For me it is not a matter of restriction but a matter of eating smart.

Here are a few ways you can keep your nutrition in check whilst also making the most of your holiday meals.

  • Indulge wisely– Be picky and choosy when it comes to cheats and treats. Only indulge in something that is going to leave your cravings satisfied after it and won’t leave you feeling guilty. You can also make one meal a day an indulgent one and make all your other meals extra nutritious.
  • Sample local produce- You are in a new place! What a great opportunity to try new delicious, nutritious local foods. Ask around, in restaurants, shops or look for local produce markets. In Hawaii I had so much fun trying new interesting fruits that I had never really eaten before. I picked pomelo, noni and guava just from the trees outside my holiday rental (don’t worry, I did my research before I ate….)
  • Ask the waiter questions- How is it cooked? Is it fried? Can it be steamed? Any chance I could get this sandwich with wholemeal bread? Ask away, don’t be afraid…. I’m sure they have had to deal with far more annoying people than you…it’s all a part of the business.
  • Don’t drink your calories- Now when I say calories I mean empty calories like fruit drinks and soda ( you can consume just as many calories through drinking these as eating and with little to no nutritional value) …. fruit and veggie juices and healthy smoothies are fine by me (just make sure they are made from real fruit). If you want an alcoholic beverage a little glass or two of wine won’t hurt. If you’re after something a bit stronger Vodka, mineral water and lime is your best bet!
  • Make a choice entree or dessert?- Have a good look at the menu and see what tickles your fancy, which one do you prefer and which could you live without.

Happy travelling! x

Exercise Myths Busted

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Do you bust your butt everyday working out and struggle to see the results you’re after? Chances are you have fallen victim to some of the crazy exercise myths that are floating around out there.

Here are a few that often misdirect people when beginning a fitness program.

Myth- You Can Spot Reduce Fat

“What exercises can I do to increase my thigh gap?”  “Can you give me some exercises to get rid of my muffin top?”

I hear hear questions like this all the time!

Ladies, please, please take note.

No amount of crunches will give you flat tummy,

no amount of sumo squats will give you a thigh gap

and no amount of push-ups will give you skinny arms.

Don’t get me wrong these exercises all have their merit for toning and strengthening these areas but they will not get rid of the fat covering the muscles.

The fact is there are no specific exercises that  are going to reduce the fat from a specific area.

Exercises target muscles not fat. Fat can only be lost from the body as a whole in an order that is predetermined by your genetics.

Myth- Weight Training Makes You Bulky

So many women shy away from weight training out of the fear they will bulk up and resemble shredded bikini clad women you see in body sculpting competitions. The truth is a lot of precise programming and dieting goes into creating these physiques.

Women naturally do not contain enough testosterone to build large, bulky muscles.

Weight training and body weight strength training will in fact help you slim down thanks to an increased metabolism spurred on by the reactive muscle growth and repair.

Now this doesn’t mean you need to sign up for your nearest gym. For most women 5-20 kilograms will be enough weight to help you see results at home. It is all in the way you use them. Check out the videos on my Instagram for ways I incorporate weights into my training at home.

Myth- The Longer The Workout The Better

One of the best statements ever made is “quality over quantity”. It is true in most aspects of life.

You do not need to spend hours slaving away at home or at the gym to achieve a healthy and fit physique! Efficiency is key.

Exercising for long, extended periods can place a lot of stress on the body and can actually be detrimental to your metabolism, weight loss and overall well-being.

I prefer quick, efficient workouts such as sprint and High intensity interval training (HIIT), which will get you into that fat burning zone without placing prolonged stress on your body

This type of training works at such an intensity level that it sends your metabolism into overdrive due to an increase demand for oxygen consumption and energy in your muscular cells. So much so that you are still burning fat up to 48 hours after your workout.

Myth- There Is One Method Of Training That Is The Best For Everybody

As you can see I am a big believer in variety. Although I love my HIIT sessions it is not the only type of training I do. I also don’t believe it is the best type of training for everybody.

We all have different bodies, different goals and lead very different lifestyles. If you are not enjoying your workouts or you are not seeing the results you want, try something different.

Variety is important in a fitness program because it allows you to challenge your body on a consistent basis and overcome  the potential to ‘plateau’.

I train my body in so many different ways, whether be running, swimming, walking, lifting or sweating it out with a HIIT session. Each type of training has their own benefit and enable me to strengthen my body in many different ways.

Diet Myths Busted

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There is so much conflicting information out there telling us what we should eat and shouldn’t eat. Some of it’s legit and other’s are just marketing ploys.

So I thought I would clear up a few Diet Myths that personally tick me off.

Myth- eat low fat foods for weight loss:

Diets low in fat will leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving sugar!

One thing that I cannot stress enough is how important good fats are in your diet! Fats such as Omega 3 and monounsaturated are the best kind and are found in foods such as salmon, eggs, avocado, raw olive oil and coconut oil. These fats are important for nutrient absorption, hormone balance, immunity, thyroid function (the gland in charge of regulating your metabolism) and overall well-being.

In saying there are still some fats you need to be wary of. Animal fats, man made fats, hydrogenated fats (margarine, vegetable oil, cooked olive oil) can all have a negative affect on your body’s health and may impede the function of the healthy fats mentioned above.

Myth- low calorie/ ‘diet’ foods are the best for weight loss:

Just because an item says sugar-free or diet on the package does not always mean that it is healthy. These products are often instead packed with artificial sweetener and chemicals…which are in fact worst for you! Sure, artificial sweeteners have zero calories BUT they are so much sweeter than real sugar which as you can imagine confuses the hell out of your body! When you eat something sweet, your body expects the calories to follow….but when they don’t come your body feels deprived and goes searching for it later (resulting in a late night sugar binge). Now I am not telling you to go eat a big bag of jelly beans and gorge yourself on Tim Tams… I am just suggesting that you don’t choose your foods based on their calorie count…. For example if you had to choose between a glass of freshly squeezed juice or a zero calorie fruit drink …. I am sure you can guess which one I would be choosing. Count nutrients not calories!

Myth- all herbal teas are bad for you-

Though herbal teas and teatoxes alone will not help you lose weight, they aren’t the evil products they are made out to be. Teas made from natural organic ingredients can do wonders for improving your overall health and wellbeing. Not only do they improve digestion, aid bloating and boost your daily antioxidants…. the act of enjoying a delicious cuppa is also great for the soul with it’s relaxation and therapeutic qualities.

Side Notes ~

Do not use teas as a single means for weight loss.

Avoid teas with additives and diuretics.

Myth– salt is evil:

Yes a diet high in salt is bad for your arteries and increases your risk of hypertension, stroke etc..BUT a diet low in salts isn’t great either. Salts contain a lot of essential minerals in which our body needs for efficient functioning. This includes a great little substance called IODINE! Iodine is an important mineral that helps prevent thyroid related issues and intern helps regulate your metabolism.

Now before you start reaching for that ketchup bottle let me clear a few things up.

The processed foods we buy are definitely too high in salt and aren’t usually good sources of the minerals I am talking about. I am just letting you know that it not always necessary to shy away from the salt shaker when preparing home cooked meals. Keep a shaker of Iodised salt or natural sea salt in the cupboard and sprinkle a little to season your home cooked dishes.

Myth- Diets and meal plans will work for everyone. 

We humans are complex creatures. We come in different shapes and sizes and we all lead different lifestyles with different beliefs and very different ideals.

As a result our bodies have adapted in their own unique way and may have completely different dietary needs to that of the person next to you. A good example of this are the food intolerances and allergies that are beginning to develop around the western world.

Other factors that affect our daily dietary requirements include;

  • Activity level
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Body structure
  • Health conditions

For me this is enough to turn me off any meal plan that hasn’t been specially designed for me and my lifestyle.

Different things will work for different people. What I aim to do is eat as healthy as I can without negotiating a little indulgence  every now and again. I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am satisfied (most of the time…..).

The ideal diet for me is healthy, nourishing and not too restrictive.

Hormonal Balance and Weight loss

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Hormones play a big role in the way our body functions and affectively have a huge impact on your overall health. This includes weight loss, weight gain and fat storage.

Yes a lot of it does have to do with genetics but our hormones (and in effect our lifestyle) can also influence the way we store fat, where it is distributed around the body and issues such as cellulite.

But it’s not just about weight!

Hormones are chemical messengers that play stimulus to all the main bodily processes; Growth and development, Metabolism, Sexual function, Reproduction, and Mood.

If you have symptoms like fatigue, skin issues, weight gain, weight around the middle, trouble sleeping, always sleeping, PMS, endometriosis, infertility, PCOS or other issues, chances are you have hormone imbalance.

In saying this, If you suffer from any of these symptoms I recommend referring to your GP in order to get an accurate diagnosis.


Tips For Achieving Hormonal Balance

The good news is that you can naturally improve hormonal balance just by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

Below are some tips on how you can improve hormonal balance:

  • Swap long cardio sessions for short sprint or HIIT sessions

Exercising for long, extended periods can place a lot of stress on the body, (metabolic functions/ energy systems and fat burning) putting your hormones into overdrive. In contrast sprint training and HIIT will get you into that fat burning zone without placing prolonged stress on your body.

  • Include weights and body weight training in regime

While extended cardio can be bad, short bursts of heavy lifting and body weight training can be beneficial since they trigger a cascade of beneficial hormone reactions. There are many examples of this type of training on my Instagram page

  • Eat your Healthy fats (avocado, coconut, chia seeds)

Your healthy fats/ Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the best ways to boost testosterone or female hormones. Cholesterol is needed for formation of healthy cell membranes and is a stimulant for all steroid hormones (progesterone, estrogen, FSH, ect). We cannot have proper hormonal balance without adequate amounts of saturated fats. Yep! Saturated fats aren’t always evil…

  • Avoid man made fats (margarine, vegetable oil, canola oil)

Your body needs natural (omega 3 fatty acids- healthy fats mentioned above) in order to produce hormones and rebuild cells. When we give it these unstable man made fat (Omega 6 polyunsaturated) it is forced to use them instead, which not only impedes the process but may also lead to cell mutation.

  • SLEEP

Now this one it so important! Getting your recommended daily amount of shut eye (8 hours) can do so much in regards to balancing out your hormones and just makes you feel so much better!

  • Stress less

Physical, mental and emotional stress -all cause major spikes in cortisol, one of the main attributors to fat storage. Have some down time and be present…. So much easier said than done I know but even a simple meditation or stretch video on Youtube can do wonderful things for lightening your mood.

  • Try adding natural hormone enhancers such as Maca root and Cacao to your diet.

Maca- Is a root vegetable with a history of boosting hormone production and libido. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones. It is also great for PMS, increasing fertility, and improving skin.

Cacao- The magnesium levels found in cacao means that it supports hundreds of reactions in the body and often contributes to better sleep (which is great for hormones!). You can also just use magnesium supplements in your diet (found in both tablet and liquid form).

  • Limit your ‘white foods’ (white flours, sugars, etc.)

White flours, simple carbs reek havoc on your insulin levels, a hormonal spike that nobody wants.

  • Avoid toxins

BPA, Parabens, Pesticides found in everyday items such as plastics, teflon, household chemicals and even unwashed fruit can totally mess with your hormones. Check the label for BPA free when purchasing water (or do not leave your plastic bottles exposed to heat or light), replace teflon cookware that is peeling and wash your fruit and vegetables with vinegar (sounds strange but it is the most effective way of washing the wax off).

  • Fix Your Leptin

Leptin is a hormone that regulates hunger and metabolism. We can create a deficiency and resistance in our leptin levels by consuming too much sugar or processed foods, skipping meals or by skimping on sleep—which can result in more food cravings and a slower metabolism. The fix? Eat whole foods, steer clear of sugar, don’t over-exercise, under-eat and get some sleep.

Leptin is such an interesting topic! I really recommend reading up on it if you are interested in metabolism and weight loss.

Remember if you have any queries feel free to comment on here or contact me via email.

A Beginner Guide To Squats

Squat, Squat, Squat, Squat!

We are constantly told that we should do them but if you have never had proper instruction or coaching this is not a simple task. There is actually quite an art involved in mastering this popular move with incorrect technique leading to possible injuries to knees and lower back.

Below is a video with a detailed analysis of beginner squat modifications that will help you strengthen the necessary muscles and master the correct technique involved in a basic squat move without exposing you to injury risk. (listen with audio to hear description of each move).


 


You can add one or all three of these squat variations to your next workout.

Tips:

  • When performing both the Ball Squat and Chair Squat aim for 10-15 reps with 5 pulses at the bottom of the last repetition.
  • Aim to hold the wall-sit for 1 minute. Increase this time by 10 second increments each time you try until you can hold for 2 minutes straight!
  • As you progress feel free to add weight in order to increase the intensity. I still do these squat variations when I feel that my form is lacking. It is so important not to learn bad habits.

Teaching Points:

  • Start with your feet roughly at hip width apart.
  • Do not bend too far forward, try to keep your posture straight by pulling up through your core and lifting your chest.
  • Place your weight in your heels. You should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • Make sure you knees do not extend past you toes.

Happy Squatting! Xx

My Ultimate Workout Playlist

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The right music can really set you up for an awesome workout. We all have different preferences when it comes to music but for workouts it is all just a matter of what gets you moving!

Here is a playlist of a few of my favourite tunes to get down and sweaty to.


Click on the hyperlink to view individual songs.

MIA – Bad Girls

The Rapture – No Sex for Ben

Kanye- Black Skinhead

House of Pain – Jump Around

N.A.S.A – Gifted

Jay Z – 99 Problems

MIA – Y.A.L.A

Tame Impala – Elephant

Yelle – Bouquet Final

Salt ‘N’ Pepa – Shoop

Mark Ronson – Bang , Bang, Bang

Goldfrapp – Strict Machine

Destiny’s Child – Lose My Breath

Girl Talk – Oh No

 


Happy Sweating!

My Top 5 Tips for ‘Achieving Balance’

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1. Efficiency is key

 If there is one thing I believe in it is “quality over quantity” particularly when it comes to training. There is no need to spend hours of your day working out. Thirty minutes MAX is all you need if you’re not afraid of a little intensity.

High Intensity Interval Training, Strength Circuits and Speed Based Cardio Workouts are my favourite ways to train. I love this type of training because it is a quick and effective way to boost your metabolism and condition your muscles without placing to much stress on your body!

This type of training works at such an intensity level that it sends your metabolism into overdrive due to an increase demand for oxygen consumption and energy in your muscular cells. So much so that you are still burning fat up to 48 hours after your workout! Pretty neat huh!

Train hard and train smart.


2. Variety

Interested in a new training technique, recipe or superfood? Give it a try! Trying new things will not only help keep you interested but it will also keep your body guessing.

Variety is important in a fitness program because it allows you to challenge your body on a consistent basis and overcome  the potential to ‘plateau’. A plateau happens when the body has become accustomed or used to doing the same repeated exercises over and over again . Spicing up your training regime or increasing your intensity will place new demands on the body, engage new muscles and in effect increase your metabolism.

The same goes for food! If you are eating the same foods at the same time everyday your body will begin to learn a pattern. As a result your metabolism will adapt by storing the consumed energy and fat and only burning what it knows it needs! You want keep your metabolism on it’s toes!


3. Lose the guilt

I find guilt to be one of the most detrimental things to a persons health. If you don’t workout or eat as healthy as you would have liked it is definitely not worth beating yourself up over. This can have far worst consequences to both your physical and emotional health.

Focus on what you have done that week and what you plan to do the rest of the week.  Also if you do make the decision to have a treat or skip a workout than back yourself, you made the decision for a reason now move forward.

Remember health and fitness is lifelong and it won’t last if you let it take over your life and control your happiness.


4. Get your friends and family involved

It is much easier to stick to your guns and make positive lifestyle changes if you have the support of those around you. Lets face it, workouts are much more enjoyable if you have someone to motivate you and what’s the fun of making that raw strawberry cheesecake if you have no one to share it with! Try to get your friends and loved ones interested your healthy lifestyle by getting them involved and making it fun.

Here are a few suggested ways you can make healthy living more social;

– Set a day where you can workout with family or friends

– Organise a walk/coffee date

– Attend a healthy cooking class together

– Bring healthy alternatives to parties or social events

– Call a friend on days when you don’t feel motivated

It is important however to try to not be too pushy. You don’t want to annoy people… (something I need to remember next time I’m trying to force feed coconut oil to my boyfriend).


5. Make the most out of every meal

For some of us eating the perfect, nutritious, organic, home cooked meals everyday just isn’t possible. Unfortunately factors such as time, cost and access can play a big part on what we eat, especially considering how expensive some ‘whole foods’ can be. What I have found that works for me is picking and choosing the specialty foods I buy for a certain (such as coconut oil, maca powder and cacao) and keeping the rest basic, choosing cheaper healthy options like brown rice, brown bread, wholemeal pasta, seasonal fruits & vegetables, canned tuna and legumes, eggs, nuts and buying my lean meat in bulk.

Another strategy I take is to try to eat as many nutrients in the day as I can and aim to make the most out of every meal. An example of this maybe adding spinach to a smoothie, adding vegetables to each of your meals, using avocado instead of butter or sneaking in some protein by adding quinoa, nuts and chickpeas. Aim to choose foods based on the nutrients they provide your body rather than what is low fat or low calorie.

In saying this I think it is also important to choose foods that will fit into your lifestyle and if that means eating the odd treat here and there then so be it. Like most I enjoy the occasional treat like pizza, chocolate and going out for drinks with friends. These are some of my favourite things in life and I’m not about to cut them out. For me it is a matter of just trying to be as healthy as you can, whenever you can.