How boosting energy will make you run for you life…

Part 1 – Sleep

I’ve been poorly with a virus after weeks struggling with energy levels. So how do you improve energy levels and therefore fitness?

Having read various articles and papers by experts, plus watched some really interesting documentaries, I’ve decided to collate some points of interest.

The first point is you need to get enough sleep and most of us do not. The UK is known to be a sleep deprived nation. Insomniac Michael Mosley (Presenter of the documentary The Truth about Sleep) confesses that he usually wakes every night at 4 am and reads for a bit until he is able to sleep. So he investigated why we are so sleep deprived.  It seems easier to sleep when you are younger, but harder as life goes on.

The Sleep On-set Latency Test

To find out if you are sleep deprived, see if you can nod off in the middle of the afternoon. Hold a metal spoon over a metal tray and see how long you can hold the spoon. If it drops before ten minutes, then you are sleep deprived. If before five minutes, then you have severe sleep deprivation.

How Much Rest Do We Need? 

Apparently, you should get between eight to nine hours sleep, but many do not achieve this. In fact, as a nation, we sleep 1-2 hours less than 60 years ago. When we do hit the sack, our quality of sleep is worse and a third of us suffer from insomnia.

Caffeine and alcohol have a diverse effect on our sleep patterns and may cause snoring which, disrupts the partner’s sleep as well.

Sleeping pills are not the answer which is no surprise. They may possibly help for a few days but can be addictive as you build up a tolerance.

The biggest surprise, for me, is sleep deprivation can cause health issues such a Type 2 diabetes and obesity. This shocked me. Dr Helen Scott, from the University of Leeds has been researching this:

“We know that a lack of sleep alters different hormones that are involved in how we perceive appetite and hunger,” she explains.

“So we get more of the hormones that cause us to feel hungry and less of the ones that cause us to feel full.

“There.. [are].. some big studies suggest that people who sleep too little, and indeed those who sleep too much,…it’s associated with the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”

 

Mosley’s documentary about sleep, investigated a few solutions which you may like to try…

THE TECHNIQUES:

1. Breathing.
Controlling your breathing can reduce stress. This approach is known as 4-2-4
– Breathe in deeply through your nose while mentally counting to 4.
– Hold your breath to a count of 2.
– Breathe out through your mouth to a count of 4.
– Try doing this for 3 to 4 minutes. It should feel relaxing.

2. Have a warm bath or shower 1-2 hours before going to bed, then allow yourself to cool. The act of cooling should trigger sleepiness

3. Eat two Kiwi fruit an hour before bed. A study done over 4 weeks found that this improved quality and quantity of sleep.

4. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom and turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. That includes TV, computers, mobile phone and all social media.

5. If you are a regular drinker then try skipping alcohol for a few days. Although it may help you go to sleep, alcohol also tends to disrupt sleep

6. Go for a 20 minute walk or a run first thing in the morning. The early morning light should help reset your internal clock, making sleep easier.

There is some science behind no. 2. A warm bath will increase your temperature and then drop when you experience cold air. This helps you to fall asleep.

Put away devices, because the blue light, is a good and vital point (that I don’t always follow myself). Plus alcohol will disrupt your sleep. Damn it!

Do the sleep challenge here.

How do you get enough sleep? Go for a walk, like Oscar?

More about gaining energy in Part 2…

 

 

Exercise can be contagious – new study finds..

During my Easter run, I decided to make countryside runs a habit. This is because I find them enjoyable, insightful and, most importantly uplifting. When I was young, and struggling to run half a mile, I would have laughed at this. Now instead of clubbing to the sounds of Donna Summer, I run with her dulcet sounds, as I pound the roads of the English countryside. Times have changed. The last thing I expected to be doing, is running.

One thing I’ve noticed is, if I’m honest, I prefer to run alone. In fact, any exercise really needs to be done alone. If you are in the gym, chatting, you are not working hard enough. Ok, I can’t work out and chat because I’m too puffed out haha.

Maybe I will participate in the park run again and enter into the competitive side of running. This element is possibly the best way to improve as you are competing against your own time as well as everybody else.

A recent study indicates that if you run with others you will run slightly faster (0.3 km). Running as part of a group will slightly improve your time. However, women tend to be influenced by other women. This may be because you may expect a man to run faster so you do not feel compelled to compete. I tend to expect males to pass me.

Scientists have found that a runner’s peers influence him or her to run more. Not all influence is equal and individuals are more likely to be influenced by less active ones. Men are influenced by both men and women. Yes, I can imagine!

So, perhaps I should join the local running club. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-exercise-contagious-friends-20170418-story.html

Health and Fitness Update and Plan

So I have to confess that I’ve put on a few pounds during the last few weeks. Concentrated on exercise but think I’ve become tired of dieting and staying at 1200 calories a day. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

Recently, I’ve started to eat too many sweets, biscuits and so on but pleased to report that I found the experience quite bad, after months of being good. I felt exhausted and listless and to be honest, quite uncomfortable. The gym personal training session, this morning confirmed my fears and I’ve put over half a stone back on. However, recently I have stopped eating sweets and realise I need to eat more healthy stuff which will be easier now spring has finally appeared.

My plan is this:

Weigh daily

Record what I eat and drink daily

More vegetables and fruit

Healthier options

Exercise

Drink more water

I recently listened to a podcast about overeating and found the ideas interesting.

  • Affirmations in the evening (when it gets hard).
  • Tell yourself you WILL NOT OVER EAT, JUST FOR TODAY (worry about tomorrow.. the next day) Love this!
  • Just have one type of bad food, if you have to.  Studies show if you binge eat, you will buy a variety of foods (sweets, chocolate, ice cream). If you stick to one option, you won’t eat so much, which makes sense to me. *

 

* Source: Podcast – Primal Potential, Mastering Fat Loss, Strategies to stop binge eating (on Spotify)

 

 

Flowers, blossom, bored cows plus reasons to walk…

Last week, I went on another country walk with the local walking group. This was to encourage me to get some exercise, enjoy a guided countryside jaunt and be sociable (shock/horror). Unfortunately, I had to pass my friend’s house and was fearful her dog, little Oscar, may spot me as I walked passed. Think I got away with it! He wasn’t invited on the walk because I thought it may prove too exacting. I was right. It was exacting for me. As we strolled through the woods, the chap leading the walk said we were going to do a circular walk around the village. We live in a large village.

As we confidently strolled up the hills it was easy to succumb to the temptation of slowing down but since going to the gym I tend to climb faster than my walking pace.  Well, you want to get there, don’t you?

Unfortunately, this meant waiting for the leader’s wife. Couldn’t help wondering why her husband, the leader, didn’t pick an easier route bearing in mind his wife’s state of health. Anyway, two hours in, I was thinking we were nearly home and then arrived at the local private posh school, located among fields and trees and realised, to my horror, that we had at least a mile or so to go. Everybody slowed down, which in my view, makes it tiring. I ended up chatting sympathetically to the leader’s wife as she struggled up the umpteenth hill. Tried to take her mind of it by talking about her son and his family. Guess it helped a bit and luckily the others stopped to wait while they chatted to a dog walker and an impatient dog who kept yapping and obviously wanted to get on. The dog owner extolled the virtues of keeping a dog on a lead even in woodland but I thought he was bonkers. Oscar would hate it and loves to chase everything in sight with absolutely no success.

Anyway, it was, despite wondering if the walk was ever going to end, quite uplifting. The sun was out, as were the first signs of spring with the odd bluebell in bloom, about six weeks ahead of time. We stopped to photograph the lambs, bored, sleepy cows, blossom and wild flowers. Felt quite healthy by the time I arrived home, which is always a good thing and I’m pleased to see that there are plenty of benefits to walking (see below) but I drink and eat too much as well. Don’t we all?

The walk was quite arduous and six miles long. The leader’s wife looked quite worn out by the end of it so I hope her husband made her a cup of tea when home. We enjoyed tea, although I would have stopped for a beer if there had been a pub on the way home. I didn’t get an invitation to go out for one that evening either, as we were so worn out.

Why I walk

To be active, lose weight and become healthier *lives in hope*

The walk needs to be fast and it is a fun challenge to stride quickly up hills

Great to see heritage trails, woodlands, animals, wild plants orchards, etc

Helps the 10,000 steps a day target

 

A study found the following benefits of walking which had sound enough reasons, particularly the last one…

“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.” (1)

Research indicates if you walk for two minutes every hour, you may increase lifespan by 33 per cent! You should walk 10,000 steps everyday according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Enjoy walking and enjoy the grumpy dogs, bored cows and beautiful countryside too.

(1) Source: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/09/11/daily-walk-benefits.aspx

Running

Crocus plants - Spring is coming!

Crocus plants – Spring is coming!

 

Well here we are – the #HealthyMarch challenge. Instead of going to the gym, I decided to put on my running shoes, and go for a run. I’m not keen on running in the cold and running in cold weather with a sprinkling of rain, is even worse. However, as it was day 1, I felt it important to start the month with a running challenge and just get on with it.
I’ve never been one to worry about running gear but decided to put on a proper running top and long sleeved sweat shirt in order to keep warm. Lightweight layers of breathable clothing, known as the layer system, is always advisable when running in the cold weather.

Am I the only one, frustrated by the amount of running accessories you have to take with you? I wear a running belt with a small bag attached. I carry a bottle filled with tap water, which is a nuisance, but vital and take my keys, phone in the small bag plus copious amounts of hankies because I always get a snotty nose in the cold weather. (TMI?)
My phone is a music facilitator and running calculator as it is important to be aware of how beneficial the running is for health and fitness.
All in all it is a palaver getting ready. What with the clothes to keep warm enough and the running accessories plus choosing the music, route and remembering the water bottle. Eventually, I set off for the first outside run of the year. Usually, a run once a week on the treadmill and running exercises in the gym, keeps me going during the winter months.
I start slowly by walking to the village main road and then increase the pace with some gentle running which prepares the muscles for exercise. As I run in the drizzling rain, I wonder if I’m slightly mad, and feel self-conscious.
As I run away from the busy main road towards local, quiet roads, I develop a pace and become warmer and start to enjoy the slow rhythm of pounding feet and start to remember that I actually quite like running. Well I say, running, I did stop to take rather a lot of photos for this blog.
Although I stopped to take photos, including the friendly horse, I felt a sense of achievement and it made a nice change which helps to get me out of that winter exercise rut.
By the way, the horse was really sweet and seemed happy to pose for a photo. He met me at the gate as I strolled over, and didn’t seem too disappointed about the lack of sugar lumps. The moment brightened up my day too.
As I was running back towards home, I must admit to feeling the run was exacting but felt pleased I made the effort and I slept well too which is a good thing. To cool down, I reduce my pace to a fast walk for five to ten minutes. This helps the body recover after running and anyway I was tired!
It is thought that running in the cold weather makes you burn more calories but I felt I was running to get warm quick. Experts back this up, and say it doesn’t really make much difference to the calories burnt. In fact, research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that race times are faster in cold weather than in warmer temps. And quicker runs do burn more calories. (source http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/do-you-burn-more-calories-in-the-cold)

Good reasons to run (in cold weather)…
– Sleep well
– Improved mood
– Feel a sense of achievement
– The boring treadmill runs, in the gym, are worth the effort
– Strengthens muscles
– Leg exercises in the gym are worth it too

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Healthy March Challenge – Becoming Lighter Series

5 Fruit and Veg daily
No processed food
No or Little alcohol
Exercise min. half hour (pref hour)

#HealthyMarch

#BecomingLighter

The aim is to become fitter, leaner and healthier this month by following the above challenge.  Are you in?

Breakfast and lunches can incorporate plenty of fruit with some green veggies such as spinach (breakfast) and lettuce (salad lunch).  Suggest eggs for breakfast because they are filling and salads with protein (fish, chicken or eggs) plus a potato or couscous. A healthy evening meal such as a meat or fish stew is always tasty and can be eaten for the following two or three days, if necessary.

It is a good idea to keep an eye on sugar intake because it is hidden in tomato sauces, fizzy drinks and processed foods.  So obviously it is better to not have processed foods and enjoy cooking your own food.

The odd glass of wine is OK, but not too many.  I find this tricky as it interferes with a social life. However, we must give it a try. Oh, and don’t forget to drink about 6 glasses of water every day.

Oddly enough, for me, exercise is the easier part.  Suggestions for this includes gym, running, walking (city and country), swimming or whatever you enjoy most.

I will update progress and any comments below (with your blog links) are welcomed.

Cheers,

Andy Frances xx

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Running and Fitness Plan


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It occurred to me that a run in the winter sunshine is more appealing than another visit to the gym. So that is what I did.

Started off with a rough route and my music planned. What does everybody listen to? I’ve devised a long running playlist and just add songs when something new and jolly is heard on the radio. The list of tunes is an array of everything and encourages me to run.  Well it all helps!

Started out all enthusiastic because of the lovely weather  – cold and sunny. Just crossing the road and heard a friendly voice asking me where I plan to run. So stopped to chat to my mate, then swiftly started running again eager to accomplish some sort of running rhythm.

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Ran down a long lane with some brief stops for photos. Really enjoyed the countryside and decided that I will run more often. A few hills and roads later I finally ran around a small local recreation ground and went home, tired but feeling a sense of achievement. Always a good thing.

Future Fitness Plan 

  • Write down everything eaten, daily. Plus drinks (particularly alcohol).
  • Weigh yourself first thing, daily.
  • Eat 5 pieces of fruit/veg, every single day. This should be mainly veg. 
  • Try to keep to 1200 calories, most days (but probably not the weekends).
  • 1 hour exercise, every single day. Or at least half an hour.
  • A run outside, once a week

Lost 3.5 kg at the gym’s Fat Club, so slowly winning the weight loss battle.
Ran 7.4 km

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