Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Apps, gadgets and equipment.

There are a plethora of fitness equipment, apps, supplements and gadgets out there that can be very useful in keeping fit and maintaining health. Some of this stuff works very well and some of it is designed solely to make some budding entrepreneur a quick buck.

So what works and what doesn't?

Well it depends. Most people I would argue are approaching health and fitness the wrong way round. I see lots of people buying all the gear and downloading all the apps only to fail after a few days or weeks at best. Hardly a week goes by that a patient, family member or friend doesn't ask me for advice on the newest gadget or craze in the industry.

We are in the age of bio-hacking, people want the maximum results available with the minimum effrot. I've stated before on this platform that the 'journey' is the most important part of any process. The journey is far more rewarding than arriving at any destination. If the journey is challenging and you've given it your best effort, the destination or your results will always make you happy. If you bio-hack your way to a desired weight, shape or goal you can be certain it won't make you happy for any period of time. 

Over a twenty year period I've evolved into a chronic runner. I no longer work out in a gym. Having been a personal trainer for 15 years the thoughts of running on a 'dreadmill' or 'pumping iron' doesn't excite me anymore. I run at almost every opportunity I get. I do some basic yoga at home and in work. I foam roll my body whenever I get a spare few minuets at home and I meditate. That's it!

I've learned, as my family has grown, to keep it really simple. I have limited time and these few devices keep me in shape. 

What apps, gadgets and equipment do I use?

Garmin 620
Image result for garmin 620Running is my escape. I find answers, problems and inspiration when I run. I record every single meter on my Garmin 620 sports watch. When I am training for a specific event, I use a method of heart rate training involving zones, see here

All the data that I collect when running, distance, speed, elevation and heart rate is uploaded to a web site called Strava. Strava is best described as facebook for runners and cyclists. You can follow your friends and athletes and monitor their training regimes. 
I find this very motivating. Some days when I'm feeling tired or lazy I browse the feed on this app. After seeing friends have been out pounding the pavement I guilt myself into running too.

Image result for daily yoga app

Daily Yoga
I use the 'daily yoga' app for,,, you guessed it, doing yoga. I always joke that if a day had 25 hours I'd do yoga in the extra hour. I recognised this as a feeble excuse and found this great app. I confess to not opening this app every day but if I get a free 10 minuets I try and bust a few moves.
I wrote a post before about the ineffectiveness of static stretching, see here.

Foam roller
Image result for foam rollerTo stave off the threat of injury I do two simple things. I predominantly eat a plant based diet, no animal products. And, I foam roll. Foam rolling doesn't always prove to be successful. I do this at home usually after a long run which, most often takes place on a Sunday morning. On returning home my two young boys are usually waiting gregariously to mob me as I fall in the door. Laying on the floor and rolling my body usually involves one of them climbing on me while the other jumps on me. Foam rolling in my house can cause more injuries than it prevents.

My foam roller is most often used as an additional tunnel for my boys train track.

Head Space
Image result for head space appI can not stress the fact that a healthy body can only be found with a healthy mind. I use the 'HeadSpace' app to train my mind to slow down. I have a busy work week, traveling between clinics and meeting and treating many different individuals each week. Family life is hectic since the arrival of my beautiful daughter on New Years Eve. By the time I get to run its difficult to focus on goals with so many thoughts, chores and to-do lists in my head. I use this app to find some mental space which, allows me to focus and get the best available gains form the dwindling amount of time I have to run!

A final piece of advice

If you are unhappy with your body, your health or your fitness you must want to change before you can change. Start small but plan big. Invest in the journey and find enjoyment in the process. Don't measure yourself against anybody but yourself. You can achieve anything you want, you just have to want it. It really is that simple. However, simple doesn't mean easy. If it's worth having you can bet it will be difficult but the difficulty will provide the enjoyment. Trust me!

"If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got" Chinese proverb.

If you want to change you will have to change. If you are not willing change then you'll never chan ge. 

Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible. 


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Misnomers in weight loss!

Most people who exercise are trying to lose weight in one way or another. Most people believe that, if they don't "smash it" or get a real good sweat on, then they are not going to lose any weight or burn any fat. That is strictly speaking not true!

Fat burning can only occur during aerobic activity. Aerobic activity means doing some sort of continuous activity while maintaining a steady and only slightly elevated heart rate. Most people consider cardio or namely; running, cycling, walking or swimming to be the most effective forms of fat burning exercise. Strictly speaking this is not true. 
Most people consider weight lifting or resistance exercise to be muscle building. Strictly speaking this is not true either.

The reason this is not true is multifaceted. If you elevate your heat rate too high while you walk, run, swim or cycle then you are still doing cardio but you are not burning fat. If you lift or push light weights with minimal rest and a steady heart rate, you won't build any muscle mass. You will however, burn a lot of fat.
My point is, doing cardio does not mean you are burning fat and lifting weights does not mean you are growing bulging muscles. These are probably the biggest misconception in the world of fitness.

Too many people get hung up on misnomer when discussing or planning an adequate exercise regime to lose weight or get in shape. The most common misconception is the thought that hard heavy cardio means big fat loss!

What is cardio?

Cardio is a misnomer for exercise that burns fat. Cardio or cardiovascular exercise is a activity that is designed to stress the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) system with the desired outcome being increased or improved function. Most notably measured by blood pressure or heart rate. As your cardiovascular strength improves your heart rate and blood pressure will decrease. Thus making you more healthy.

Strictly speaking cardio has nothing to do with burning fat. However, doing cardiovascular exercise in a manner to improve the cardiovascular system will burn a lot of fat.

How do you get the cardiovascular system to improve and therefore burn fat?

The most effective way to improve cardiovascular function is to exercise in an aerobic zone. Aerobic zone means most of the fuel you are using to perform that exercise is fat. This type of exercise should feel very comfortable and you should not be 'killing yourself' or 'smashing it', remember sweat does not equate to fat burnt.
Your efforts need to be consistent. You should only increase either distance or intensity week on week if you are a beginner. The importance of consistency can be seen here.
For a runner you should be aiming to run in what is called Zone 2! If you are unfamiliar about Zone training see here.

Is that it?

Unfortunately No! You absolutely must reduce your calorific intake of fats if you want this fat loss and cardiovascular improvement to be sustained. This does not mean a diet that curbs calories or puts you into calorific deficit which will cause ketosis.
The ONLY diet which has been scientifically proven to improve cardiovascular function is a plant based or vegan diet. That's right! A high carb diet is the best way to moderate your weight while staying healthy. Sure there are thousands of diets which will help you lose weight fast but you can also be sure your health will decline fast too.

Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible!