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This time of year slot of you are getting back into running on hard surfaces.
Looking after your feet is crucial to help prevent injury over the long term. Often injuries will occur due to issues further down the chain.
Starting by taking care of your feet is the perfect place to start. Grab a dowel stick or barbell, lay it flat on the ground. March forward and backward across the sole of your feet.
This will be painful.
Aim to do this for at least 60 seconds 3-4 times per day.

The ab wheel is a great tool for developing core and upper body stability.

Start with your shoulders over you wrist, screw your palms into the handle to create tension through your lats & shoulders.

Round your back to begin with, this will help you maintain a neutral position when you are extended at the bottom of the movement which is the most compromising part of the movement.

You only get one set of shoulders, so you might as well look after them.
OH dumbbell holds are a great exercise to throw into your warm up or shoulder rehab session. Keep the weight light as this does creep up on you quickly.
Extend the dumbbells overhead keeping some separation between them to allow for a little natural movement and oscillation at the shoulder complex.
These subtle movement help ensure you get activation of the supportive muscles and structures around the shoulder.
30 seconds should be long enough.
Perform 3-4 rounds

I’m often asked whether I think it’s a good idea to track calories. I usually give the same roundabout answer I do for most questions – it depends. There are many benefits to monitoring your meals - conversely there are some downsides. Calorie tracking is just one of many tools that can help people improve their eating habits. 

Rather than having a blanket statement it is best to make a call based on the personality of the client (see the end of the blog) weighed up against their goals but let’s clarify what exactly it is, how it can be done and then you can decide on whether it’s worth undertaking.

What is it?

The basic premise is that each of us has a daily energy expenditure. This number is comprised of the number of calories we burn just being alive (at rest), combined with the calories burnt moving and eating.
Tracking how many calories we chow down vs the number of calories we’re burning a day, gives us a rough guide as to whether we are burning more than we’re eating, or eating more than we’re burning. As you can imagine, the general idea for most people is to ensure they aren’t eating more than they are burning.

What’s the point?

Some of the main benefits of tracking/monitoring your eating patterns include – Creating accountability, understanding serving sizes, learning about calorific value of certain foods, an awareness of how much food to eat each day, making better food choices and manipulating your diet for a particular goal.

Is it accurate?

The short answer is no. The better answer is it doesn’t need to be - Accurately assessing how many calories are in your meals would involve you taking each of those meals down to a lab and having it burned beyond recognition. Not ideal. So, we use estimates -just like the treadmill or rower guesses how many calories you’re burning while you’re slogging it out.
What we do have though, is numbers we can begin to manipulate to see changes.

How to use it?
This is a two-step process. The first involves identifying how many calories you should be consuming.
Many calculators exist on how many calories we should consume, depending on our goal. Any easy method for calculating can be found at https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/node/add/calculator-energy. (the calculator suggests inputting your goal weight - if trying to lose weight)

The second involves finding a method to track what you are currently eating. This could be as simple as a written food journal, or as detailed as an App, like My fitness Pal. Thankfully apps have made this process much easier. From here, we can then track how many calories we eat against how many we should be, and make changes to our diet accordingly. E.g. Eat slightly less than you’re burning to lose weight (keep in mind that drastically under-eating and over-eating have negative consequences)

Do I need to do it?

No. Losing or gaining weight isn’t an overly complicated process (it might not be an easy process – but it’s normally not complicated)
Tracking your food intake is akin to tracking your lifts at the gym. It just provides insight into why or why not you’re progressing. This also tends to make life a little easier when things aren’t going the way you planned.

Wrapping it up

Calorie tracking can be an incredibly useful and insightful tool, even if only for the short term. It may help educate people new/or uncertain on where to start. It can also be time consuming, and for some a little constrictive. Hopefully you have a little insight into the process and the pro and cons, and can decide yourself. If it all still seems a bit confusing - hiring a coach, trainer, nutritionist or dietitian to help shed light on how this all works may be a good place to start

Suggestions based on personality

If you are the obsessive compulsive type, and takes things too far – probably no. Plenty of people live by their food diaries, at the exclusion of just about everything else. I’d argue that this no longer falls under the term ‘healthy’

If you like structure, number crunching, learning and are inquisitive – probably yes. People that enjoy the process and learning along the way will probably find tracking their eating habits a joyful experience. Yes, these people are strange...

If you are the carefree, go with the flow type – probably no. Conversely, some people will feel completely overwhelmed with the rigidity and restrictiveness and may feel a little stifled.

If you are completely unsure on where you currently stand, or where to start – maybe. Will you get a better understanding of how to eat better – yes. At that point, you can decide whether you want to dig a little deeper, or just stick with the basics (what’s healthy, serving sizes, etc) and then DIY.  

If you’re an elite athlete, or your appearance (and health) is your number one priority in life – probably yes. Given your appearance is either a high priority or may even be tied in to your occupation, you may find that this becomes a useful tool. You may also already have a grasp on how all this nutrition stuff works, and have no need to use these anymore.

Improving your grip is one of the best ways to help improve your upper body strength as well as increase your deadlift.

Some studies have even found a correlation to good grip strength and an decreased risk of heart disease.

The bumper plate pinch is a super challenging grip exercise you can implement to work on building some serious forearm and upper back strength.

 

hydrationStaying hydrated may be more important than you think when it comes to your own wellbeing. It is recommended that we should be drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water a day, however everybody is different so listen to your body as you may need more then 6-8 glasses especially if you are working out on a regular basis.

A good way to check if you are drinking enough water is to check the colour of your urine. If it is colourless or light yellow, you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or an amber colour you may be dehydrated.

Our metabolism is also directly affected by how hydrated or dehydrated we are. As water is involved with almost every biological function within the body, if we are not getting enough water in and our body is in a dehydrated state our metabolism will slow down. The rate at which our muscles then burn calories will also dramatically slow down.  Over 70% of our muscles consist of water and when they are not fully hydrated their ability to generate energy is severely reduced.

Another important and slightly scary factor to take into consideration is that when you are dehydrated your body's ability to utilise fat as a fuel source also becomes restricted. So with these two factors alone you will have one slow metabolism!!

Dehydration can cause a number of negative side effects to your metabolism and your body which can then effect your weight loss or performance goals, so staying on top of how hydrated you are should never be over looked and should be one of your priorities along side your healthy diet.

Here are some simple and easy tips to help ensue that you stay on top of your water consumption and keep your body hydrated.

Always carry a water bottle

Having a water bottle with you during the day is a great reminder to drink water. By taking small regular sips throughout the day, your body will be able to hold on to the fluids and absorb them as opposed to drinking whole glasses of water at a time and then needing to pee them out every 20 minutes.

Keep your water bottle in your handbag while shopping, in your cup holder in the car, on your desk at work and especially keep in on you before, during and after the gym.  

Also buy a larger water bottle, 1 - 2L and aim to get through the whole thing once or twice per day. Filling up and having your own bottle handy will also save you $4 every time you feel like having a sip from the over priced store bought water.

Coconut water

Coconut water not only tastes great but also contains natural electrolytes including potassium and sodium which are great to help you rehydrate after a hard gym session. Sports drinks like Gatorade contain a lot of unnecessary added sugars, calories and artificial colours so replacing these drinks with coconut water is a much healthier option. While coconut water has many other added benefits such as Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Magnesium and Manganese, most of the calories in it are made up of natural sugar so limit the amount of coconut water you do end up consuming.

Herbal Tea

Drinking a nice hot cup of herbal tea is another way to drink more water and is also great substitute for coffee. Herbal tea has been proven to help with a variety of things such as relaxation, digestion, bloating, soothe the stomach and alleviate cold symptoms while also providing antioxidants. A few great tasting and aromatic teas to have on hand are peppermint, camomile, lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger and lavender.  You can also make up a jug of iced tea and enjoy some refreshing flavour on warmer days.

Sparkling Water

As the weather is starting to warm up a ditch the soft drink and grab an ice cold sparkling water. It still gives you the bubbles without all the extra calories. Try adding a squeeze of citrus like lemon, lime or orange and a couple of ice cubes or some summer fruits like strawberries, watermelon, lychees or peaches.

Being adequately hydrated throughout the day will help you to get through your training sessions without needing constant water breaks. It will also help to prevent dizziness, a dry mouth or  headaches during your sessions.

Aim to drink small portions 100-200ml consistently through out the day. Realising you haven't had a drink all day and downing a whole litre before you go to bed will do nothing but have you getting up to pee in the middle of the night. 

Although whole foods are always going to be best when it comes to nutrition, if you are going to drink your calories you might as well do it right. So we have prepared our ultimate smoothie guide to make sure you give yourself the best start to the day possible. Read More

This is a great exercise for building strength, stability & activating the upper back.

The grip needed to make sure you keep the kettlebells upright forces you to utilise more upper back and forearm musculature. This makes it the perfect addition to your pressing warm up.

You will not need a heavy load with this as the slight instability more than makes up for the lighter weight

DogThis happy little guy is Odie. I never thought 12 months ago that rescuing a dog would lead to a philosophical revolution but over the last year things have become blatantly obvious about this crazy little guy.

Odie may not know it but he is a perfect representation of how we should be living our lives, moving & interacting with each other.

But to him; he is just being a dog.

People should be more like dogs (not in a lick yourself kind of way, but more in a how you treat yourself & others kind of way).

Every morning when the alarm goes off I wake up and find he has somehow found his way into the bedroom and is curled up asleep in a ball, nestled in between my feet. After hitting snooze once or twice I try to gently roll out of bed and not disturb him. It never works. He knows that once I am up getting breakfast ready; that is his chance to score some food. He follows me as I walk over to the cupboard to pull out his food. When I turn to look at him…

REALISATION 1 - STRETCH LESS, MORE OFTEN
He is in the middle of an intense downward dog (I guess thats where the name comes from). He had spent all night curled up into a tight little ball and needs to open his spine, muscles, joints and ligaments. This isn't the only time of day he will do this. Almost every time he gets up from a stationary position through out the day there will be some form of stretch, shake or hop to get moving. He never stretches before he goes for a run, or after a walk. Only after he has been hunched over in a less natural position for a lengthy period of time.
When was the last time you stretched? After you finished your run or when you are warming up for your gym session? What about purely because you have been sitting at your desk for 4 hours straight or spent the last 45 minutes staring down at your phone screen.
Stretching shouldn't just be to prepare your body to move; it should be to restore your body after being stuck in shitty positions for long periods.

Next, poor Odie is a little bit of a sensitive character, in particular his stomach. Despite having a penchant for wanting to eat pretty much anything he can get his little paws into (even stealing apples out of the fruit bowl when we aren't home). The little guy has what the Vet described as the doggy version of something like IBS or Chrohns. Now despite the fact that eating a left over pizza will lead to diarrhoea & cause him to throw up. He is determined to sink his teeth into it, even if he has been feed 3 minutes prior…

REALISATION 2 - DON’T EAT SHIT FOOD
“Eat shit, feel shit.” its a pretty simple concept.
We eat food we know is unhealthy for us, because we tell ourselves we enjoy the taste or the experience. Every time you eat, you are either feeding disease or fighting it. We know the pizza, burgers & doughnuts aren't good for us. They may taste amazing and look great to post on instagram, but on the inside they are causing mayhem on your gut health. We have just become so accustomed to feeling like shit from the food we consume we don't notice.
Have you ever stuck to a diet for 3-4 weeks, then after your first McDonalds trip, how bad do you feel?
We also grossly over consume food, have you ever seen what the actual recommend serving size for protein, fats and carbohydrates actually looks like? Google image search food serving size, you will be shocked.

After a long day at work I shuffle home tired, a little cranky & ready to flake it on the couch. I open the door, Odie stops what he was doing (usually chowing down on the apple he stole from the table) looks at me and bolts straight at me, gives me couple of quick licks and then precedes to run laps up and down the hallway for 2 minutes, stopping occasionally just to lick me again. Suddenly I feel happy, relaxed and ready to chill…

REALISATION 3 - BE GENUINELY HAPPY TO SEE PEOPLE
The effect your behaviour can have on the people you come across everyday is huge. A smile, a simple gesture, or a friendly disposition can alter the course of someone else's day instantly. Unfortunately we are coming to a day and age where we prefer to interact over a screen or in text rather than in person.
Whether it has been an hour or a year, being genuinely happy to see people when you meet with them sets a positive vibe that is sure to rub off and make for a much more pleasant experience for those around you, which in turn reflects back to you.

Once Odie calms down a little I take a look around the house and there is crap everywhere. He has clearly been up to no good while we have been out. The cushions from the couch are on the floor, items from the bedside table are on the ground and obviously there is a half eaten apple somewhere. The funny thing is; this only tends to happen on the days he hasn't been walked in the morning…

REALISATION 4 - EXERCISE CALMS YOU DOWN
We spend so much of our day running around stressed out of our minds trying to meet deadlines, get our work done & be productive. Often the first thing to get pushed to the side when we are under the pump is our own health. We skip lunch or get in to the office early/stay late sacrificing our valuable time that we would usually spend exercising.
One of the best productivity boosters you could ask for is movement/exercise for a number of reasons. Firstly taking time away from the problems we are working on can be the perfect catalyst to see things from a different angle and find a solution we haven't been able to previously see. Increasing blood flow around your body through exercise can leave you more motivated, productive & engaged when you return to the task at hand through increased brain function, energy levels and decreased stress.
So the most important thing you could do in time of high demand and stress is to take an exercise break.

After we get home from our walk, and we are sitting the couch watching a little Netflix or reading a book to wind down. Odie, after being almost asleep with one paw resting on my thigh (just to make sure I know he is there). Out of the blue will jump up run over to his ball and start chasing it around the lounge room floor; rolling, chewing and growling at it. He will bring the slobber covered ball over to me and place it in my hand to throw or play tug-o-war…

REALISATION 5 - PLAY
When we ‘grow up’ we lose one of the most basic childhood joys that we all experienced. The fun & release of just playing and having fun for no reason. Enjoying yourself, learning new skills, laughing at nothing. I’m not saying as grown adult you should roll down a hill, and eat bugs but find a swing set and swing, throw a ball with a friend, think back to your favourite childhood activity and go try it. See how it makes you feel. Life isn't meant to be serious all the time it is meant to be enjoyed! Play has also shown to be beneficial to enhance creativity, problem solving and fuel your imagination.

If your dog is anything like mine there is so much wisdom in their innocence. Spend some time observing them you might just learn a thing or two.

We use this a lot in programming especially for our sport specific clients.

It is a great way to get the body moving with some load without adding additional pressure to the spine. Make sure you load the weight through the posterior chain to get the glutes and hamstrings working. If you are feeling it in your quads then re-adjust.

This is great exercise to implement as a warm up or as part of a recovery session.

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