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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.

High Intensity Interval Training

Last week Catalyst (ABC TV, Tuesday nights) ran a story about the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training. (There is a link to the episode on our Facebook page.)

It was focused on how HIT or HIIT has a positive impact on your mitochondria, the cells in your body which produce energy. Its the decline in these cells that is responsible for numerous aspects of the aging process, from needing nanna naps to saggy skin.

Until recently many people believed this could only be achieved by doing longer duration sustained ‘cardiovascular’ exercise. But HIIT is proving to be a much better option, especially if you are time poor, looking to keep your weight under control or wanting to prove that 40 is the new 30.  Talking of being time poor, I’ve decided to recycle an article I wrote about HIIT early last year.

Here is what you need to know:

High Intensity Interval Training refers to a method of training where short bursts of very intense efforts are interspersed with short rest periods.

It has evolved from Tabata training which involves 20 seconds of  maximal effort work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is done for 8 rounds or 4 minutes and was shown to improve the aerobic and anaerobic fitness of test subjects. The original Tabata work was done on a stationary bike. Obviously most of the training effect was in the cycling specific muscles. For the general population a more ‘well rounded’ approach is recommended.

As well as using ‘aerobic’ exercise like running and cycling for HIIT you can also use strength building exercises.

By alternating carefully selected exercises e.g. push ups and squats, you can work one muscle group with sufficient load to maintain or increase muscle strength, then while those muscles recover, you work a different muscle group. You are continuously active, going from one muscle group to another; hence your cardiovascular system is challeneged at the same time.

Because the intensity level is high, you burn a large amount of energy (calories) in a short time frame.

The other ‘secret weapon’ that high intensity training offers is EPOC. (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). To put it simply, your metabolism (how much energy you burn) stays elevated for a very long time after the workout finishes

Another advantage of HIIT is a great return for the time invested. It enables you to work on both muscle strength and aerobic fitness simultaneously.

Because you are working against moderate to high resistance, you are able to maintain or even increase muscle mass. Muscle burns energy, so the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism. Long, sustained exercise results in muscle loss, which is detremental to nearly every reason you could have for exercising including weight loss.

HIIT style training also allows  you to do a lot of different movements instead of lots of repetitions of the same movement. This will help reduce the development of muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.

So if you want improvement to everything, body composition, aerobic fitness and strength in a relatively short time frame, give HIIT a go.

In my experience you get the best results if you apply the following guidelines:

Emphasise hips and shoulders movements. Movements that combine both hips and shoulders are the king!

Alternate exercises for the lower body, upper body, core and total body.

Use relatively low skill exercises.

If you are after fat burning, use shorter rest periods.

Training and rest interval times should be varied over the course of weeks to challenge different energy systems.

The ‘training age’ of the person, their current state of health and fitness and their lifestyle has a huge influence on how much training someone should do. As does the persons goals and how much time they can invest. For weight loss Id recommend shorter more frequent workouts. For strength gains I like slightly longer workouts with more rest days. For most people 3 x 30 minute workouts per week will get great results if it’s well designed.