Let’s be honest, it’s a lot more ‘fun’ gaining weight than losing it. But it’s not as enjoyable when you step onto the scale and realise you had a tad too much fun with food. Trying to stay healthy and in shape is not about starving yourself or never enjoying those ‘cheat’ meals you love but rather about moderation and balance. Giving yourself just 3 cheat days a week is enough to impact your gut health as badly as a consistent diet of junk food and even those of us with the willpower of steel still fall prey to the ‘splurge’ every now and again. Here are some tips to help you keep control of the munchies.
- Keep Calm
We have all been ‘there’ and by there, I mean, when one cheat snack has snowballed into a cheat weekend and all control is lost. Don’t freak out-yet. If you have been sticking to your healthy diet well up until then and continue to do so 90% of the time, then the odd out-of-control cheat food session is not going to have huge ramifications. A good place to start is keeping a food diary where you track your meals. This way you will feel in control and may be surprised to see how easy it is to skip meals or grab a quick refined-sugar snack.
1.Change your Mindset
A lot of the time we make ourselves feel guilty by using phrases like, ‘I can’t eat that’ and ‘it’s my cheat day’ because they create a negative connotation. Focus less on the words and their meanings and more on consciously enjoying that cheat food you really love. For example, if pizza is your thing, then have a slice and relish in it. If you feel guilty while eating it then where is the enjoyment? Plus, you may end up falling prey to the guilt and overindulging.
2. Don’t Give up
Often when people have decided on a traditional ‘cheat’ day, they adopt the all-or-nothing mentality where they think, ‘I might as well throw in a slab of chocolate and some speckled eggs seeing as though I’m eating a pizza tonight’, thinking it won’t make much difference. But throwing in the towel on your whole day does a lot more damage than what one bad meal would. Allow yourself to eat what you really want in that moment and then continue with your normal, healthier eating pattern.
Although there isn’t much you can do to reverse the damage of a cheat meal, you can still make some healthy food choices to get you back on the right track and help reset your body. Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin which helps powers your body’s own detoxification pathways. Water and potassium-rich foods like avocado, bananas and dark leafy greens, can help balance sodium levels in the body and reduce bloating. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi offset the damage done to your digestive tract.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying moments of indulgence in some of your favourite foods- YOLO right? – as long as you are keeping it in moderation and not a regular occurrence. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a moment of weakness; just continue to make healthy food choices and stay active. Remember, it’s about a healthy mind and body!
What are your favourite cheat foods?
Life gets busy so it’s tempting to skip the warm-up and get going but this is setting your body up to be both less efficient and at risk of injury. The aim of a warm-up should be to loosen and heat up the body. Plus, it gets you mentally prepared too.
Static vs Dynamic warm-ups
Static stretching is exactly how it sounds and involves stretching different muscle groups while standing on the same spot. Just doing static stretching before a workout can actually overextend your muscles and potentially rob them of the power and strength needed for the workout session. It’s best to leave the static stuff to the cool down session at the end. That’s right, you should also be cooling down!
Dynamic warm-ups are winners because they serve to get all the joints moving at the same time, working together while taking the body through progressive movements. This helps to loosen and stretch the muscles. Think of it like pregaming your muscles, improving blood circulation and activating your central nervous system. Dynamic warm-ups prime your body for maximum joint and muscle flexibility, so you can get maximum results out of your workout!
Depending on your fitness level and the goal of your workout, warm-ups will vary. As a starting point, here are a few basic goals that accommodate every workout.
1. Loosen up
Prep your body for exercise with mobility movements by grabbing a foam roller. Start by rolling your back, then hit sections of your legs, glute and hip flexors.
2. Increase your heart rate
This gets the blood pumping and would be taking a jog, slow row or low resistance pedal on a bike. The key is that you are still able to talk comfortably while doing it otherwise you are pushing too hard.
3. Get dynamic
Remember, this involves continuous movements through the stretches. For instance, you can make big arm circles in both directions, kick your legs forward or touch your toes and reach up to the sky, do some punches, kicks and high knees and so on. There is no limit to the variety of warm-up moves that can get you ready for action. The ones listed here cover the basics, so you may feel that you’d like to build on them or mix it up a bit with options like jump ropes, lunges, push ups or spider man steps. Get your limbs moving and get creative!
4. Ease into the workout
The idea here is to warm-up with the planned workout session in mind. You are essentially moving through the workout at a lower intensity. If you are planning a hard run, warm-up with a few technique drills. If you plan on doing back squats, start with bodyweight squats or an empty bar. These low intensity movements will assist with preparing your body for action and working on muscle memory.
Warming up is a very important start to any workout. It ensures that you don’t injure yourself while training and helps you focus on how to do exercises correctly. Find an enjoyable warm-up and remember to listen to your body’s cues. Don’t forget to cool down afterwards!
Let’s be honest, finding the time to fit in our regular fitness workouts during the week can be challenging. Life is busy, kids need extra attention, work is piling up, you’re travelling for business- the list goes on- which usually means that the time we were dedicating to our workout session becomes compromised or completely redundant.
It’s tempting to call it off. After all, what good is a 30 minute workout going to do if you originally planned on doing a 2 hour run?
Don’t give up yet because even though time is limited, you can still make every minute count.
Plus, think about how much better you will feel afterwards. Always remember that, “something is better than nothing”.
Here are a few crunch time workouts for you to slot into your schedule.
Run it out
It takes two minutes to kit up and hit the road for a sweat session. If you know that time is of the essence, then this is your opportunity to push a little harder than usual. Your threshold heart rate is slightly higher when running which means you can work at a harder pace and reap a great aerobic benefit. Plan a route the night before or encourage a friend to join in to make it more enticing. Otherwise, find a flight of stairs and run up them.
Spin it out
Clip into a stationary bike at home or hit a spin session at gym for sweat spot 30 minutes of training.
Before you jump on, start off by doing 30 jumping jacks to get the heartrate elevated. Then find your threshold pace. This is where you are able to talk, but just barely. Now spin it out and feel refreshed and energised post your workout.
This is all about using the best ‘bang for your buck’ exercises. That means squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, chin-ups, presses and so on.
These are great because you can do them in the comfort of your own home, be it early in the morning or while you’re waiting for dinner to cook in the oven. Hit play on your playlist and focus on getting in a total body workout with no distractions. You might be surprised that these could be some of the most effective workouts you do.
Gym it out
Slotting a few 30 or 45 minute gym sessions into your weekly planner can really help to keep you ticking over and disciplined until your big workout sessions. There are so many group training classes to choose from which means you can get in a total body workout and never be bored for choice. Decide to alternate days between doing high intensity workouts like running on the treadmill or spinning and then swap over onto power and strength training. Find what works for you and get going!
It is easy to fall into the trap of being ‘too busy’ to workout but maintaining a healthy body is just as important for our mental health and daily productivity. Squeezing in some of these crunch time workouts will help you stay on track and feel great. Stay moving!
Race results, unless contrived, do not lie.
Those fortunate enough to have “run the decades” know that the standard of race organisation down the years was of such a high standard that times run, certainly in the Eastern Cape province, are generally indisputable.
When veteran runners get together the most talked about topic revolves around running standards and when a result from the 1997 Border 10km Championships, run in Gonubie, surfaced on social media this week, that fraternity came alive.
It should be said that 1997 was not a peak year in local running. The purple patch for South Africa dated back to the 1981-1991 period. Nonetheless there was much to be positive about still for South Africa had just the previous year celebrated Josia Thugwane’s gold medal it the marathon at the Atlanta Olympics.
Runners seeking personal coaching will invariably be asked what their best 10km time is when the coach seeks to evaluate potential. The distance is a tell tale measure to running pedigree.
Simon Ngxeke shared the aforementioned race results with a number of us and the reaction from all was similar. A rush to compare the most recent results with the 1997 race ensued. The Xerox 10km, which is run a course a good deal faster than the one used in Gonubie back then was the favourite comparison. The men’s winning time of 31:00 is 49 seconds slower than Makaya Masumpa’s 30:11 at the 1997 race. More than that Masumpa ran 29:28 on the Xerox course back then.
Individuals aside, the somewhat more challenging Gonubie course delivered six men under 31 minutes, five in sub 32, another 7 under 33 and 6 more under 34 as opposed to last month’s faster course where no one broke the 31 minute barrier, two managed a sub 32, three sub 33 and 3 sub 34. The score 24-8.
There were not more runners back then. It was indeed the opposite. The boom of the 1990s delivered hundred’s while today’s boom is ushering in thousands.
What made a junior like Mzwandile Shube run a 29:45 in 1988? What produced a race on the same Gonubie route in 1990 when Shube won in 30:07, by out sprinting Mlamli Nkonkobe in 30:11 and Tembinkosi Bishop in 30:15.
That was racing at its best. Young athletes at their peak, dedicated, intelligent runners.
In conversation we looked back at names on the list circulated and marvelled at the opportunity offered to race against, socialise with and watch the splendid talent manifest itself on our roads down the years.
Names included Llulamo Mshiywa, Michael Bekapi, Bassie Mbenya, Bonisile Ngculana, Moses Fokazi, Lunga Mancam, Michael Scout and Mpumezi Bomvana. Suddenly the names of three juniors jump out the pages. Simo Simato, Luzuko Metu and Zukile Kona and we wonder what might have been.
The answer, we agree in discussion, is in the training and the mismanagement of over racing, inclusive of a fixation with time trials, which is simply more racing.
A brains trust of successful runners and coaches who collectively identify, develop and nurture young talent would provide the remedy to running times equivalent to, or better than yesteryear.
Summer is on our doorstep which means there is no excuse NOT to kickstart your active and healthy living lifestyle. It’s all about finding what works for you and your schedule and with all the weird and wonderful fitness trends buzzing, there really is something for everyone.
The field of fitness is constantly changing and evolving; be it the nature of our workouts, the sophistication of active wear or the ever-growing diet and exercise app’s, there’s no lack of inspiration or motivation to get moving.
And while there is no right way to get sweaty, fitness trends certainly influence the way people work out these days. Here are some of the top fitness trends of 2018:
1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is all about bursts of maximum-effort, challenging work (typically about 20 -90 seconds) that is followed by a low-intensity recovery. The goal is to recover enough that you can go hard again during the next high-intensity interval. Hiit work-outs usually last about 30 minutes but can go up to a maximum of 45 minutes. A major part of the appeal is that they are a super-efficient way to get in your cardio and burn calories in a short space of time. Just don’t go overboard with the HIIT workouts as this could lead to overtraining and increased risk of injury.
2. Group fitness Training
Haven’t you heard, solo training is out! Taking part in group fitness classes at gym or finding a running group is a great way to boost your fitness. Some other pros to group exercise is that you tend to push yourself harder because you’re committed (and probably comparing yourself to the person working out close by), it’s a lot of fun working out with other people and you may even find yourself making some new friends. These types of classes could be anything from HIIT sessions to step classes all the way to dance classes. This means you also get to try new workouts and mix up your routine. There’s no such thing as a boring exercise session anymore!
3. Strength and Bodyweight training
Although these types of exercises have been around for a long time, they have become re-popularised by the fitness world. Bodyweight training requires minimal space and pretty much no equipment so it’s very convenient. Some typical exercises include push-ups, squats, planks and lunges; accessible for any fitness level and easy to modify too. What are you waiting for?
It’s no surprise to see Yoga high up on the hottest fitness trends list. Its consistent popularity can be accredited to the abundance of styles to choose from, including power yoga, Iyengar yoga, Bikram yoga and more. Not only does it work to improve flexibility and balance but can also have a positive impact on muscle building and endurance. And let’s not forget how great yoga is for improving mental clarity and managing stress. It’s a win win.
5. Technology Active Wear
Smart watches, activity trackers, heart rate monitors- the list goes on- have gained huge popularity over the last couple of years. There is literally a gadget for every fitness level, be it that you enjoy a daily evening stroll and want to know your stats or you’re in training for the next Comrades marathon. These devices give you interesting feedback about your workouts like your steps, calories used, heart rate, pace, distance and more. The sophistication of wearable technology allows us to get more in tune with our body, our limits and they encourage us to get moving.
These are just a few of the hottest fitness trends that are hip and happening in 2018 but what about those fitness trends that turned out to be giant stinkers? Here are some trends to avoid.
1. Electric Muscle Stimulation
While there was belief that quick zaps of electricity to individual muscles helped to stimulate them to a greater extent, it falls short with the fact that you can’t train with progressive overload. So, while it may be cool to try, you’re better off going to that group fitness class and working out.
2. Ball Balance Moves
Those clear or blue bouncy ball bubbles you see athletes balancing on in the hopes of strengthening their muscles and improving posture, apparently don’t do all that much. According to experts, there’s no real benefit to them. Guess we can cross those off our lists then.
3. Smartphone exercise apps
Although the study on this doesn’t say why, smartphone exercise apps have fallen out of the list of top fitness trends. It could be due to the rise in group class training or the fact that we can wear our fitness gear on our wrists.
So, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of creepy fitness fads and extremist workouts then keeping up with the latest fitness trends is the perfect way to get inspired to start or maintain your active, healthy living lifestyle. They get you amped to try new workouts, show you how much fun you will have while doing it and help you to get the best out of your exercises. Time to dust off those running shoes and pull out the gym wear.
Rainy weather doesn’t mean you have to train inside. In fact, nowadays, I tend to take full advantage of opportunities to run in the rain. After all, most races are not cancelled because of rain.
I have found sloshing through the wet and wild builds my mental toughness and makes me a stronger athlete. And once I begin running and warm up, I actually enjoy it! Granted dressing for the rain can be tricky but the hardest part is often just getting started. Try these tips to get you going, and enjoy a safe and comfortable run in the rain:
Choose the right gear
• Wear a hat or visor with a brim to keep the rain off your face and out of your eyes.
• If it’s warm and rainy, wear a breathable hat with plenty of venting so you don’t overheat. If it’s cold, rainy, and windy, choose a waterproof cap to keep your head warm and dry.
• In a driving rain, wear a pair of clear glasses to help protect your eyes from getting pelted. A good anti-fog lens cleaner will keep your vision clear in the moisture and humidity.
• Invest in a lightweight, waterproof jacket to stay dry on cold, rainy runs and during other rainy day activities.
• Wicking apparel is key—it pulls moisture away from your skin, which helps prevent blisters and chafing.
• Wear a pair of wicking socks to prevent blisters from developing.
Wearing more layers will not keep you dry. Instead, dress for the temperature, as if it were a dry day.
Running in the rain often means drivers have poor visibility. So select outer layers that are very bright or light-colored and have reflective strips.
Chafing can be much worse if you’re wet from the rain. So take the precaution to prevent this by spreading Vaseline on the parts of your body where you would normally chafe.
Use a garbage bag for races.
Use a trash bag as a rain poncho to effectively keep dry and protected from wind. If it stops raining, it is easy to rip it off and discard.
Watch your step.
To avoid slipping, take small steps, pay attention to your footing and try to avoid stepping in puddles as much as possible.
Change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
You may feel warm when you first cross the finish line or finish your run, but make sure you change out of your wet clothes immediately.
Much speculation as to what more the 2019 Comrades might offer was answered at Thursday’s official and simultaneous announcements to the media and the Comrades Marathon family across the globe.
Many will have been surprised at the extent of the changes.
Those who believe Comrades is far too dominant a fixture in SA road running will have their belief strengthened in the wake of the enterprising changers the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) have introduced.
I must admit to straddling both camps of thought, wanting to see South Africa again become an international force in road running over standard distances, while also sharing the love affair so many of us enjoy with the KZN based epic.
Comrades simply keeps re-inventing itself.
The 94th Comrades, it was actually started in 1921, has opened the road from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, to 25000 runners in 2019. It is an epic number.
Two new medals have been introduced and few saw that one coming, though there has been pressure to name a medal after a woman.
The new Isavel Roche-Kelly medal is named after the 1980/81 double winner who ran was the first women to easily break the silver medal barrier time of 7:30 when she recorded 7:18 and followed that up with 6:44 a year later. A young exciting and talented runner, she tragically died in a cycling accident three years later.
The half gold, half silver medal will be awarded to women who finish from 11th position to and to all who break the 7:30 barrier. That means no women will again win a silver medal, though they are unlikely to be aggrieved by that.
The second new medal is so very special given that for decades, neither women in general nor any black folk were allowed to participate in Comrades.
Most white males have sadly shown themselves down the years, as being a peculiar lot and will forever be judged in history for harbouring prejudice. And yet road running in South Africa has generally been a ground breaker.
In 1935 Robert Mtshali was the first black man to unofficially complete the Comrades in a time of 9:30. So it is that the Comrades now offers a medal, named after his pioneering spirit, for all who complete the route in 9-10 hours. How special is that.
Other changes include a faster qualifying time of 4:50, 10 minutes quicker than in recent times. There has been some negative reaction to this, but seriously anybody can do it if they simply train effectively.
An inflated prize purse to R4.3m is what will seriously worry running puritans, while the winners cheques at R500,000 will lure marathon and even half marathon exponents.
That however, cannot be laid at the door of the CMA who are doing what is best for their historical race.
The controlling body of the sport in South Africa needs to ensure that similar rewards are on offer for all internationally recognised distances, in particular the 10, 21,1 and 42,2kms.
It can be done, we simply need to want to do it.
I hate being cold. If you do too, take heart. Your outdoor running routine needn’t go into hibernation for the winter. With a certain amount of planning and preparation—and the right cold weather gear— you can safely lace up and continue training in the fresh air.
Here are my tips to help you run in the cold and shake off the winter blues:
Dress In Lightweight Wicking Layers.
• How you dress can make or break your winter runs. You want to be warm without sweating so much you get a chill. So avoid overdressing.
• Wear several thin layers of clothing to trap warm air between each layer. This includes socks: Wearing two pairs of polypropylene socks keeps your feet warmer and drier than one heavy pair.
• The most important layer of clothing is the one closest to your body so make sure it’s made of fabric that wicks moisture away from your skin.
• Your outer layer should be a wind- and water-resistant jacket or vest. It’s critical to protect yourself from the wind and rain.
• If it’s really cold out, you’ll need a middle layer, such as polar fleece, for added insulation.
Cover Exposed Skin As Much As Possible.
• On moderately cold days, wear running gloves that wick moisture away.
• Once the temperature dips below freezing, a hat and gloves are absolutely necessary.
• When it’s really cold, wear a facemask or scarf over your mouth to warm the air you breathe and to protect your face.
• When running in the snow, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare and snow blindness.
Start Your Run Into the Wind.
To avoid a chill, head out into the wind and it will be at your back at the end of your workout once you’ve broken a sweat.
With limited daylight, chances are you’ll be running in the dark so wear reflective gear and/or a headlamp to ensure people can see you.
Take It Easy.
You’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly, run easy and forget about speed.
Change Quickly Post Run.
If you’re wet, change your clothes —head to toe—as soon as you can and get warm by drinking something hot.
Have you ever been training hard for a race to only pick up an injury a few weeks before the race? Or have you ever run a race hard, and then picked up an injury after the race?
Injury doesn’t mean that your hopes of racing in the future are out of the window. Thanks to the wonders of cross training you are able to keep your fitness up.
Cross-training is when you train by doing other kinds of fitness work such as cycling, swimming or strength training to supplement their running. The goal is to build strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize. Cross training is important even if you’re injury free – especially if you want to stay that way.
But maybe you aren’t willing to cross-train, in part because you simply prefer running to other forms of exercise? Or maybe you aren’t fully convinced of the benefits of cross training? If so, here are 5 reasons why you should try it:
1. You’ll get injured less often
Cross training takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of one training method to negate the shortcomings of another. Road running puts a lot of pressure on your joints, and overuse injuries are common. But when you supplement running with cycling, swimming and resistance work, you’ll strengthen lots of different muscles be less prone to injury.
2. You’ll have greater aerobic capacity
One of the benefits of cross training is a greater aerobic capacity: By incorporating resistance and strength training into your routine, you’ll improve your stamina and boost your performance more than simply running.
3. You’ll be stronger overall
When you cross train you will be stronger and faster. Cross training allows you to strengthen parts of your body other than the muscles, joints and ligaments used in running. When you incorporate resistance and weight training into your workout, you will develop stronger leg muscles to improve your running speed.
4. You’ll develop dynamic flexibility
When you practice a new exercise, a whole new set of joints, ligaments and muscles are stretched out, which means you will have more flexibility throughout your body. If you make a habit of working out multiple muscle groups, you will develop much greater dynamic flexibility and strength than when you focus on one.
5. You’ll heal faster
By increasing blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to stressed or damaged muscle tissue, cross training enables your body to recuperate faster from injury. Employing alternative exercises gives your body the opportunity to heal from your previous activity and, in many cases, will help stretch and strengthen parts of your body that are causing pain.