fitness · mental health · Workouts

First steps to healthier eating.

I am a big fan of small but substantial changes, because these tend to fare better long-term. Fad diets, restrictive diets or the omitting of a certain nutrient is not sustainable in the long run. That is not to say that restrictive diets does not have their place, but when you look to improve your diet you need to find something that suits you and that you can stick with.

With mental health, or any kind of illness, diet is an important part of recovery. I, myself, feel the good effects of eating better. Eating better gives you more energy, makes you less tired and makes sure that your brain can function properly.

In the flood that is the internet it is often easy to get lost in all the information and it hard to get it all down at once. I have therefore created a short starter list for healthier eating. The list is meant to help you make healthier eating choices.

  1. Wholewheat and wholegrain choices. 
    Most people know that it is healthier to eat wholewheat and wholegrain, but still chose to eat white bread and pasta. Wholewheat is a good source for dietary fibre, something that most people do not get enough of. Fibre is very important for our digestive system. For this reason alone wholewheat pasta is better than regular pasta, because more fibre will improve the health of your digestive system.
  2. Portion sizes. 
    The next thing that is rather important to take note of is portion sizes, because most people are not aware of what a normal portion size is. In most ready meals you purchase you get way too much rice and not enough vegetables. Loading your plate full of rice will make you consume much more than you need. Two heaped tablespoons is one portion rice, couscous or pasta (dry) that would fill much of a whole dinner plate after cooking..
    The British Hearth foundation has a good guide you can look to for guidance of portion sizes (Click here).
  3. Eat more Fruit and Vegetables.
    Fruit and vegetables, in addition to provide vitamins, provides you with fibre. Fruit also provides a good source for natural sugar, so if you are looking to curb a sweet tooth you could try slicing an apple and add some cinnamon.
  4. Cut down on the sugar. 
    The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave and the less sensitive you become to the taste of sugar. In effect this means that if you eat a lot of sugar, then fruits for example does no longer taste as sweet to you.
  5. Cut back on the salt. 
    We eat way to much salt, and we do not need it. Almost all processed foods contain a lot of salt. The recommended daily limit of salt is 6 grams. Make sure to read the food label because even if you do not add salt to your food, you might be overeating salt because it is already added to the food you buy. My tip is simply to never add salt to the food you make (unless you make it from scratch). The same thing that happens with sugar happen with salt, the more you eat of it the less sensitive you get to the taste of salt.
  6. Make more food at home.
    Set yourself a goal of cooking at home 2 – 3 days a week, make some good home-made food from scratch. That way you can see what goes into your food. After a while you will probably prefer the food you make yourself to the food you buy out.

Those are just a couple of quick tips to eat a little healthier, these are rules I follow myself because they are low maintenance and they do not restrict me from eating what I want. Of course the most important thing is to be mindful about what you eat and be honest with yourself about what you eat.

The HIIT exercises for this week is below.

Monday:

5 Rounds for time:

10 jumping jacks
10 lunges
5 Burpees
10 Ab crunches
10 back extensions
5 Burpees

Wednesday:

As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes:

5 Burpees
12 High kicks
16 lunges
5 Burpees
10 Push ups
15 Russian Twists

Friday:

5 rounds for time:

10 Jumping Jacks
10 Squat Jumps
5 Burpees
15 Russian Twist
15 Back extension
5 Burpees

See you again next week 🙂

fitness · Workouts

New Year. New you?

I’m going to be honest and say that I am of that group of people who think of new years resolutions as a big load of bollocks. The concept of new year resolutions is great, but most of the time you just end up making some grand gesture that is supposed to last the whole year and you are burned out by February or March. Most new years resolutions fail because they a too broad or too unrealistic, which makes the resolutions of: “I am going to eat only healthy food this year,” or “I’m going to exercise everyday this year.”

Given my view my next few blog posts are going to seem a little hypocritical, but I am a believer in change and I believe that we all can benefit from changing for the better. And I know that when struggling with extra challenges such as a mental health disorder, change is extra hard. So based on the fact that anything is better than nothing, I will be posting a low-bar, no equipment needed, work outs three times a week for the next 4 weeks. Each week I will device a blog post with an update, I will aim to have it up by Sunday, but it might sometimes end up not being up until Monday. The work outs will be posted on the Instagram page on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. the weekly blog post will be updated to contain each work out on the respective day.

All the work outs will be as intense or as easy as you want to make them as I am basing them on the HIIT-principle (High Intensity Interval training). If you need the work out to be harder, go faster, if you need to ease up go slower. None of the work outs should take more than a maximum of 20 minutes, most of them will probably be done in 10. They are short enough that if you already are following a training program you can just slap it onto the end of your program before you cool down to get some variation, and they are short enough so that time won’t be an easy excuse. Absolutely no equipment will be necessary, not even a chair, in order to ensure that everyone do them from the comfort of their living room. Though I would recommend the use of a stopwatch function on your phone or computer, so that you can monitor your progress.

My challenge to you this second week of January is to do these simple work outs three times a week and then that is all you need to do. Working out in itself is a great anti depressant, and even a short period of exercise will help elevate a heavy mood and increase your wellbeing. Even if these work outs only takes 10 minutes or 15 minutes,  any number of minutes is better than 0 minutes.

So with no further ado I will be posting Monday’s work out below:

Complete 5 rounds of:
10 Squats
10 Press ups
10 Ab crunches

Break down of each exercise and variation: 

Squats: 

Stand with your legs hip with apart, face forwards and start the movement through a hinge in your hip before you bend both your hips and knees at the same time down into a squat position where your thighs are parallel to the floor lower. Ensure that keep your knees over your feet (don’t let them sink towards the middle or extend outside the foot). Keep your knees behind your toes.
If you have issues getting down to parallel only squat down as far as you can comfortably get back up. This is important, especially when starting out, depth will come with time and when you build up your flexibility.

Press up/ Push up: 

Lay down on the floor with face down. In order to find the ideal position for your  hands stretch your arms out over your head and then slide them down, starting with the elbow, until your hands are in line with your shoulders.
Depending on your strength you’d probably like to either press up, keeping your body straight keeping shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in line.

Or you can press up from the knees, keeping shoulder’s, hips and knees in line. If that is too heavy you can also do a box press up by pulling your knees closer to your hands.
You can also do press up against the wall, or a steady table, this will make the movement easier to do.

Ab crunch:

Lay down on your back, press your lower back down enough so you can fit one finger between you and the floor. Put your arms on your thighs. Then lift your shoulders up from the floor, sliding your arms up until your fingertips touches your knee. Ensure you are keeping your neck neutral by pretending to ball between your chin and the top of your chest.
To make the exercise harder you can move you arms to cross on your chest, place your hands or placing your hands by your ears (then make sure you are not pulling on your head with your hands as you lift your shoulders form the floor).

If you want you can post your time in the comments.