Just as drugs of abuse such as nicotine, cocaine and heroin can hijack the brains reward pathway and make us dependant, sugar does the same.
If you are sick and tired of feeling like crap physically and emotionally, changing what goes into your mouth could actually be life changing.
Eating sugar may be doing more harm than good.... and we're not talking about weight gain!
How many times have you reached for that block of chocolate or packet of chips after a long day at work or used food as a way to deal with stress and told yourself that your new diet starts on Monday?
Have you ever found your self craving sugary treats or greasy take away foods and being extremely grumpy until you have those items in your hands and are happily devouring them?
If this happens to you, you are not alone and the reasons that this may be happening are not as black and white as you may think. If you would like to spare the sanity of yourself and those around you when those sugar cravings and mood swings hit, and want to stop the “Hangy Bitch” inside from being released, then read on and maybe we can help keep those demons at bay.
Eating highly processed foods like sugar and junk food, may be causing a lot more damage to your body than you may think and the effects are not always related to weight gain and here's why.
Within your gut live hundreds and thousands of tiny communities of good bacteria and each of them play a very important role in your body. These bacteria help with detoxification, inflammation, nutrient absorption, they determine if you feel hungry or full and how your body utilises carbohydrates and fat.
These bacteria, which are known as micro-biome also affect your mood, libido, the way in which you view the world and the clarity of your thoughts. A dysfunctional micro-biome could also be the root of your headaches, anxiety, inability to concentrate or negative outlook on life.
(So pretty much) nearly everything about our health, how we feel both physically and emotionally can stem from the state of our micro-biome and what we have put into our bodies. Cue the never ending circle of.....
Scientists have learnt that the link between the gut and the brain is a two-way path. Think back to the last time you felt sick because you were nervous or anxious... just as your brain can send butterflies to your stomach, your gut can send back signals of calmness or alarm back to the brain. So an unhappy gut is an unhappy mind.
Another major factor about how you feel about yourself and why it is so hard to control your diet, and your cravings, is sugar. Eating processed sugar does more damage to your body than just make you gain weight and the side effects it can have are a lot scarier then you may think.
Food is something called a “natural reward”. In order for us to survive (as a species), things like eating, having sex and nurturing others must be pleasurable to the brain so that these behaviours are reinforced and repeated. Not all foods are as equally rewarding as most of us prefer sweet over sour and bitter foods. Evolution has reinforced that sweet things provide a healthy source of carbohydrates for our bodies. Back in the day when our ancestors were scavenging for berries sour was an indication of “not yet ripe” and bitter would mean “poison”.
Due to how easily accessible highly processed sugary foods and treats have become, we are consuming alarmingly huge amounts of sugar. As sugar is highly addictive, we have become hooked. Just as drugs of abuse such as nicotine, cocaine and heroin can hijack the brains reward pathway and make us dependant, sugar does the same.
Sugar has the ability to create a vicious cycle of intense cravings. When a person consumes sugar, just like any food, it activates the tongue’s taste receptors. Signals are then sent to the brain, lighting up the reward pathways and causing a surge of feel-good hormones like dopamine to be released. So stimulating the brains rewards system with a piece of chocolate every now and then is pleasurable and probably harmless but when the system is activated (to much and) to often, thats when we start to run into problems. Over-activating this reward system kickstarts a number of unwanted side effects such as loss of control, cravings and an increased tolerance to sugar.
Sugar also contributes to any feelings of depression or anxiety that you may have. If you have ever experienced a sugar crash, then you know that sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar levels can cause you to experience symptoms like irritability, mood swings, brain fog and fatigue. Thats because eating a sugar filled donut or drinking a soft drink can cause our blood sugar levels to spike once you have consumed them and then inevitably plummet. When your blood sugar dips back down again (sugar crash), you may find yourself feeling anxious, moody or depressed.
The good news is that you can easily correct this by changing the foods that you are consuming. If you are choosing the right foods as well as incorporating exercise into your routine, you can start to feel the benefits in as little as 7 days. Don't get me wrong, quitting or limiting sugar is not going to be easy, but if you are truly sick and tired of feeling like crap physically and emotionally, changing what goes into your mouth could actually be life changing.
You can do this by avoiding sugary and highly processed foods. A diet that keeps your blood sugar balanced will also keep your gut bacteria balanced. A diet high in fibre sourced from whole vegetables and fruits, feeds good gut bacteria and helps keep the intestinal lining in check.
Diets that are high in sugar and low in fibre only fuel unwanted bacteria and increase the chances of intestinal upset.
Fibre rich foods to include in your diet are spinach, broccoli, peas, carrots, pairs, apples, prunes, raspberries, legumes, barley, quinoa, almonds, peanuts, ect.
Also, include foods that are rich in probiotic's like:
Live-culture yogurt - make sure you avoid products that are heavily sweetened - Coconut yogurt is also a great alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy.
Kombucha Tea- A cold fizzy fermented black tea.
Kefir - A fermented-milk product that has more of a liquid texture than yogurt.
Miso Soup - Miso is one of the mainstays of traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of healthy gut bacteria.
These foods provide probiotic bacteria that help maintain the integrity of the gut lining and serve as natural antibiotics, antivirals and anti fungals. They also regulate immunity and control inflammation as well as improve nutrient absorption.
Water!! A magical clear liquid. Consuming plenty of water is important to intestinal health and has a number of beneficial qualities. Since your brain is mostly made up of water, drinking it helps you to think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. As an added bonus, your energy levels are boosted. Water also helps to flush out any toxins through sweat and urination which reduces the risk of kidney stones and urinary track infections.
So.... the next time you are about to reach for that block of chocolate or bag of chips, stop and ask your self a few simple questions. Are you hungry? Are you stressed? Are you anxious? If you give in to those cravings and temptations, will it actually be worth it in the long run? Try having a glass of water, a piece of fruit or a healthy snack or go for a walk to help clear your head. Once you start developing new and healthy habits to deal with your stress and sticking to them, stressful situations will be easier to manage and you will be on your way to a happier and healthier life and thanking yourself for it.
A few weeks ago we covered how to swing with the correct hinge action at your hips. This week we will show you a great tip to implement if you find you are swinging the Kettlebell to low.
The best way to improve long term performance is to stay healthy, injury free & in the game. Sounds obvious enough, but there is some simple things that most of us aren't doing that can help ensure this can happen. It is one of the simplest and most beneficial forms of training, yet it is something that is neglected and often avoided by just about all of us. It seems as though just because you are not working up a sweat it cannot be all that beneficial. But how wrong you are.
Mobility and flexibility are the forgotten training methods, often the first thing to get cut from your session the minute you start running short of time, when in reality it should be the last thing you cut from your training day. No matter how you fit it in, as a warm up, cool down or a session on its own. You should aim to include some form of mobility or flexibility into your training as often as possible.
Lets be honest if we had the money and the time we would all love to treat ourselves to a hour of massage everyday. Try and think of your mobility session as your self massage or self myofascial release if you want to get fancy, it is a little reward to yourself for all of your hard work in training. Easing tight and sore muscles, alleviating pressure on joints and leaving you feeling fresh and ready to take on another session!
Lets face it, in the context of things spending the time to work on preventing injury is a much better strategy than missing whole sessions or weeks of training due to injury. Being able to train consistently and stick to your program long term is the best way to continue achieving great results. If you continually having to take a week of here & two weeks off there to recover from little niggles your progress is continually getting stunted. Spend just 5-10 minutes a day can go a long way to keeping you training & performing injury free.
But how can it prevent injury? Your muscles have an optimum length and tension they like to maintain. Through frequent training, your muscle tension increases and you can develop adhesions (you may feel these as ‘knots’ in your muscles). As a result of these processes your muscles in effect shorten in length. When you try to go through your normal range of motion, in training or competition you don’t have the same elasticity in your muscles which can result in strains and tears.
This is particularly evident in sports, as a lot of the time due to competitive demands you may not be able to control the range of motion you will have to take your muscles through. So keeping them healthy and ready to go through the largest range of motion possible by adding mobility sessions to your training, you will ensure you can improve your sports performance and stay at the top of your game.
Ideally, you would incorporate a few full sessions of mobility work into your weekly routine. But even 5 - 10 minutes as a warm up or cool down is going to be advantageous. Some of the best methods you can try include foam rolling, massage / trigger point balls, band assisted stretching, yoga or even body weight exercises utilising a full range of motion.
It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s windy, the days are short & the nights are long. Who in their right mind can get motivated to exercise in conditions like these? You know that you should be doing some sort of training but you’re just unable to find the motivation you need to push you to get started. Sound familiar?
Im going to share with you a few tips that will help keep you on track this winter so you can make this year your fittest yet!
1) Sign up for an event
Pick an event, it can be anything; a 5km run, obstacle race, triathlon, a marathon, even line dancing will do. Pick anything that might interest you and sign up for it. The key is to pick an event that will be a challenge for you, if you can run 10km relatively comfortably then sign up for a half marathon. It must be something that will require you to put the preparation in for.
Next step, tell every one you can what you are doing, put it up on Facebook, Twitter, send out some snail mail, whatever your using, just let people know and the more people, the better. Once all of your family and friends know about it, the thought of failure will make sure you are committed to training and putting in the required effort to get you to complete your event. It also gives your training a direction. Training without a goal is like driving a car with no destination, where are you heading? Having clear, realistic goals is the best way to keep your training on track. And it doesn’t get much clearer than having an organised date, time, location and distance.
2) Join a group training program with a friend
Having a friend or partner to train with can be a great motivator. You will be extra committed to make sure you don’t miss a session as you don’t want to let them down or miss an opportunity to catch up.
Much of the time half of the battle is just showing up and getting started, once you are warmed up and getting stuck into your training session, it’s easy to keep going. Having a training partner to drag your butt off the couch and get you started on those tough days can be just the little push you need to keep your fitness kicking along through the tough months. You may even find you develop new friendships along the way, plus a little extra support & healthy competition never hurts to push you along even further.
3) Schedule your training session in your diary
Treat it as you would any other appointment with doctors, physio's or dentists after all it is in the interest of your own health. Schedule 30 - 60 minutes at least 3 days a week that you commit to working out and don’t let anything get in the way of making those appointments. Be sure to make them at convenient times that are realistic for you to fit into your day. The easier it is to fit in, the less likely you are to miss them.
Try these few tips to not only keep your health and fitness goals on track but to keep warm this winter and you will set yourself up to launch into your summer training at your fittest. By the time the sun and warm weather rolls around, who knows what you will be able to achieve!
When doing box jumps to improve vertical jump power, the height of the box isn't as important as you may think. The most important aspect is your intention to jump as high as possible, often when the box is too high your intent will shift from jumping high to just doing whatever you need to land on top of the box safely.
We generally recommend aiming for a moderate size box you can jump onto comfortably and focusing on jumping as high as possible, landing safely in a more athletic position with knee and hips soft to cushion the impact.
TRAP BAR DEADLIFT. The trap bar is one of our favourite tools to use with all of our clients as it is perfect for beginners learning how to deadlift and experienced lifters trying to improve top end strength.
Want to get the most out of your lower body strength session? Emma has some awesome activation exercises for you to do prior to lifting to make sure your glutes are ready to set some PR's.