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Is all or nothing thinking going to leave you with nothing?

perfect 10s

Every moment of every day our brain has to deal with hundreds of bits of information and make multiple decisions. To make this process easier we do a lot of it on auto pilot, we drive the same way to work, wear the same clothes, eat the same foods and spend our spare time doing the same things. Our lazy brain saves even more energy by resorting to all or nothing thinking, where everything must be one way or the other, black or white. Marketing experts know our brain work this way and capitalise on it:

‘Don’t eat sugar’

‘Eat everything made from coconuts’

‘Walk 10,000 steps per day’

When it comes to diet and exercise this way of thinking will hold you back.

While our minds would like things to be nice and simple and businesses would love us to believe their one product or system will solve our problems, it’s just not the case. The key to successful long term health and fitness is the ability to adapt and make smart choices rather than blindly following one edict.

Aim for better rather than perfect.

Having weet bix for breakfast, a focaccia for lunch and pasta for dinner is not a great way to eat. But all or nothing thinking will have you on some restrictive gluten free style diet or continuing to eat badly.  But the ideal thing for your wellbeing lays somewhere between the two extremes. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you should consume foods containing gluten, just not for 21 meals a week. Have your weet bix for breakfast, but at lunchtime have the chicken and salad in a bowl instead of wrapped in a bread roll. If you know pasta is for dinner, have eggs for breakfast.

Aim for sustainable not perfect.

None of us can lead the perfect lifestyle. There will always be weeks when we can’t fit in a gym session or Pilates class. That doesn’t mean your only option is to do nothing. You can always find 10 minutes in the day to go for a walk. After 5 days, that’s 50 minutes of walking…that’s as good as a visit to the gym…that’s enough to stop your fitness from going backwards. Can’t make your Pilates class? Stretch your hip flexors for 2 minutes and spend 5 minutes laying on your back with a rolled towel between your shoulder blades. 7 minutes each day for a week, that’s 80% of a Pilates class in a week you didn’t have time for Pilates.

Don’t lose sight of the forest because you’re looking at a tree.

If you are carrying too many kg’s it’s because you’ve consumed too much. I know it’s not very PC or EQ to say that, but it’s true. You can’t convert oxygen or water to fat. You didn’t absorb those excess calories via osmosis…you had to swallow them.  Is Beetroot more of a superfood than Kale… it really doesn’t matter if you’re still going to consume a plate of cheese and bucket of wine while researching it. So, if you want to lose weight eating less needs to be the priority not eating perfectly.

How to smash your goal in 2017.

There was once a technique practiced by many, many people. Their survival depended on it. This, almost forgotten technique can make you smarter, more attractive and more interesting. It is imperative if you want your 2017 to be better than 2016.

This technique can help you achieve virtually any physical, financial or personal goal. Mastering it will improve your performance at work and sport and your relationships with family and friends. It will reduce your stress and the stress levels of the people around you.

Not only does this technique not cost you anything, it will actually save you money.
Oddly, after 28 years in the fitness industry, this is the one thing I’m seeing less and less people willing to do…

Learning.
brian-herbert

We all have different styles of learning.
Kinaesthetic people best learn by physically doing and feeling.
Auditory learners absorb and understand information when they hear it.
65% of people are predominately visual, taking in most of their information through their eyes.
What’s this got to do with health and fitness?
If something isn’t working for you, doing more of it, or less of it, isn’t really going to work either. Way too many people don’t achieve their fitness goals because they only think about how much they run or swim or lift, but don’t pay attention to how they do it.

If you want to improve your health and fitness, you need to make changes. The first step toward making changes is learning something new.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each learning style.
To learn exercises all 3 learning styles need to be used.

Imagine a predominately visual person learning to do push ups.
They watch someone doing push ups.
Their eyes take in too much information for the brain to deal with, and they have no way to sort that information in order of importance.
So they are left believing that to do a push up you put your hands on the floor and move your body up and down.
However, the most important aspect of doing a push up is the placement of the hands relative to the shoulders, and the posture you keep your body in during the exercise.

pilates-push-up-2

 If you don’t get these things right, the up and down movement is pointless in the short term and dangerous in the long term.
Just because you have a preferred learning style, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn via other methods. It just means it won’t be as easy.  The visual person needs to listen extra carefully to the verbal coaching, and concentrate on what things feel like, in order to learn how to do push ups properly.
Tips to make it easier to learn
Respect the process.
Slow down and give yourself time to learn the skill. 5 push ups per week done properly will make you stronger. 10 push ups done badly will not make you better at doing good push ups, but it will make you injured.
Stop talking.
Speech requires a lot of brain activity.
No one can hear while they are also talking.
No one can learn while they are talking.
No one. Not ever.
You may be able to talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles, but you will never learn to swim until you shut up.
You are not on a quiz show. You don’t have to buzz in with the answer. You just have to listen.
Reduce other input.
Ever noticed how people turn down the car radio when they are looking for a street address?
Your brain can only deal with so much information at a time. And it is always receiving information through all of your senses, sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. That’s a lot to deal with.
When you are trying to learn something reduce the amount of unhelpful input that your brain has to deal with. 
(If you are in a class with someone else trying to learn, do what you can to reduce the load on their senses by being quiet.)
No one knows what they don’t know.
Keep an open mind. What you need to learn, may be different to what you think you need to learn. Everyone who starts boxing focuses their attention on throwing punches. But if you want to punch hard, punch often and not injure your back, knees and shoulders, you need to learn footwork and breathing first.
Remember, it’s counter intuitive.
If you are having trouble learning something, its almost certainly due to your non dominant learning methods. Instead of trying to derive more information via your dominant method, make it easier for your less developed senses.
Having trouble understanding what someone is trying to explain? Close your eyes and keep still. This will reduce the amount of visual input and make it easier for you to process what you are hearing.
If you are having trouble mastering a physical skill, reduce visual and auditory input and concentrate on what the movements feels like.
Looking for a street address… turn the radio down.
Learning is the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be.

Why endurance athletes need to do Strength Training Part 1.

I am obviously a huge fan of Strength Training. But I am acutely aware that a number of athletes and coaches (and non-athletes whose exercise program is focused on cardiovascular exercise) don’t rate strength training highly enough to make room for it in their training programs.

In part 1 of this article I’ll explain the benefits of strength training, which go beyond simply making you look better. In part 2, I will explore some of the reasons why some athletes don’t realize these benefits and explain how to incorporate strength work into your training schedule so you do get the returns without having your training time blow out.

Benefits of Strength Training

Injury prevention

The number one purpose of a Strength and Conditioning program is injury prevention. Chronic injuries, the main concern for endurance athletes are overuse injuries which result from lots and lots of small traumas accumulating over time. This is even more of an issue for older athletes whose tissue doesn’t repair as quickly. Stronger people are more resilient. They can withstand more force, higher volumes and more mechanical stress without breaking down.

Muscle imbalances.

For a joint to stay healthy there needs to be a balance between the muscles that act on the joint.

Endurance athletes, or general population doing ‘cardio’, typically train by doing the same movement repeated thousands of time. This means the dominant muscles for that activity get a heap of work and the muscles not used in that activity don’t do much at all. This leads to an imbalance between muscles, which leads to changes in posture and the way you move. This in turn decreased performance and leads to injury.

A well designed strength program will highlight and correct these imbalances. This not only decreases injury potential, it helps you move as one, whole integrated machine instead of a series of parts.

After all a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Endurance capacity will always be a percentage of your maximal effort.

For you to move you need to generate power, which we measure in watts.

The faster you run, swim, ride or paddle the more watts you need to generate. The more watts you are generating, the faster you fatigue. When you get close to working at your maximum power output, you fatigue very, very quickly.

Endurance training essentially does two things:

  1. Increases the percentage of your maximum that you can sustain for the required time or distance. Even ‘strength efforts’ like sprinting up hills or riding on a hard gear only get you working at a higher percentage of your maximum, they don’t increase your maximum.
  2. Improves efficiency so you are able to produce the same power but expend less energy doing it. This then means you will be able to sustain a higher output.

Whilst these are essential parts of improving your endurance capabilities, the other way to increase the power output you can sustain is to increase your maximum power output. Strength training is the most effective and time efficient way to increase your maximum power.

Cross training

No matter how much you love your endurance training there are a number of reasons you should not do it 52 weeks per year. These include injuries, environment, climate, psychological and physiological reasons. Strength training is an extremely time efficient way to avoid the detraining effect when taking a break from regular training. It can be structured to work around the limitations of time, location, environment and injury. And finally the intensity and volume of training can be measured and adjusted, up or down, more easily than in any other method of training.

Can you afford not to be strength training?