For most of us, the summer means that it is time to take our workout outdoors. Swimming, running, playing football again. The available options are endless.

But as we heading half way through on summer, and look forward to a season of T-shirts, to sunny holidays and comfort food, we take this moment to remind you that exercise is important to your overall health and well being.

A lot of peoples goals we find when joining Lean Body’s personal training in Finchley is I guess is-to lose weight, lose fat, getting ‘beach ready’ – generally wanting a change in their physique, which is awesome, really cool to have these type of goals to strive for and having a regular exercise routine is massively important for this.

But, today I want to write about something I guess that’s maybe that exercising doesn’t have to always be about physique based goals. There are so many reasons to be exercising on a consistent basis anyway. One of which, really important, helps make you that bit happier. During the workout I know its hard sometimes but once you’ve finished there’s a massive rush of endorphins which make you feel much better than before you did the workout. Another is that it sets you up for the rest of the day, makes you feel that much more energised and productive at work, so these alone are really positive reasons to be working out.

Secondly, your older self is going to thank you a million times for consistently exercising, because we reduce the risk of getting any diseases. Things like cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, certain types of cancers. The risk of getting any of these is much, much less when we are consistently exercising, working our muscles, testing ourselves a bit, another really important reason to exercise now more than ever.

4 Reasons to Workout That Have Nothing to do With Weight Loss

Thirdly, you get stronger. This happens when you keep working out you get that bit stronger, not only for gym based and personal best reasons which is cool but if you’ve got kids you know that when they grow it can be quite heavy to always be lifting them up, and when you’re stronger it’s much easier. If you’re moving house, lifting heavy objects in and around the house, if you’re stronger, your ability to do that is going to be much easier. If you play sport for example, your ability to compete in that sport is going to be a lot better if you’re fitter and stronger, and again another really good reason to exercise on a consistent basis.

Lastly exercise helps you grow in other ways, not just physically but mentally too. You become that bit more resilient because you’re going to have to go through tough workouts where you have to keep going, keep pushing and that can translate into other life situations at home, with family or at work, your determination, your resilience is going to be that much stronger because you’re used to pushing yourself that bit further, and it helps you grow and build in that position.

So there’s so many reasons to consistently work out, more than just physique based goals. So get yourself exercising, walking, running, cycling, lifting weights and your body and your life will thank you a million times over!!

 

When it comes to weight and fitness goals, there are many factors at play. Your calorie count is going well, your training’s a good mix of cardio and strength training- but when it comes to results, you’re not getting the traction you want. What gives?

Many factors can come into play, but one big culprit might be stress. Here are some suggestions why and – along with ways you can lower your stress levels – and possibly your scale’s number too.

The Role of Cortisol

Feeling run-down or overwhelmed triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone designed to assist with our “fight or flight” response when we’re faced with danger. Cortisol gives the body the energy needed to cope with threats, and it certainly plays an important role in keeping us motivated and energized.

Over time the constant release of cortisol turns from being a good thing to being pathologic to the body.

But you don’t even need to overeat for cortisol to affect your waistline. The chronic secretion of the hormone itself can become a problem, adds Eliza Kingsford, psychotherapist and author of “Brain-Powered Weight Loss.”

Constant release of cortisol may increase your risk of developing insulin resistance, raises your blood sugar, alters your appetite, reduces your ability to burn fat and increases the rate at which you store fat.

In most people this results in a spectrum of symptoms along with characteristics weight gain in the abdomen or belly. Put in simple terms the pattern looks like this:

 High stress = high cortisol = high insulin = elevated blood sugar = weight gain in the belly!

Stress Upon Stress

Getting stuck in this habit can be very frustrating, especially when you’re tracking your calories and not seeing results – or potentially gaining more weight than you want to be.

“Once there is a chronic level of cortisol secreted, no amount of exercise or calorie restriction will budge someone’s weight,” says Kingsford. “Imagine eating well, exercising and doing everything you can to stay healthy, only to find you’re gaining weight. This, in turn, leads to feelings of distress and the cycle continues.”

Strategies For Chilling Out

Don’t over exercise

This part can be confusing for many people. You’re taught that in order to lose weight you must exercise, exercise, exercise. The problem with some forms of exercise is that they actually put an increased demand on the body and an increase on cortisol levels.

Studies show that cortisol increases as exertion and intensity increases (which makes sense). You can read that as they are causing stress to the body. Under normal circumstances this is a good thing. Your muscles recognize the stress, they break down slightly and then they repair but this time stronger and more capable to tolerate the stress. The problem with excessive exercising is that you may never allow your body to heal from the last time you exercised.

This leads to over exercising, chronic exhaustion and even weight gain – even if you are exercising daily!

Eat Enough Carbs

The consumption of sufficient healthy carbohydrates may be necessary for energy production in those suffering from adrenal and cortisol issues. The tendency of most overweight patients is to avoid carbohydrates completely. The trick with consumption of carbohydrates is different for what each person needs.

 As a general rule:

Those people who are more active tend to require more carbohydrates than those who are not, this includes those people who are under a tremendous amount of stress – regardless of the cause.

Over-exercising, chronic social stress, high demand at work, etc. these all increase the demand on your body and may increase the demand for carbohydrates.

It’s also true that some people simply function better with more carbohydrates than others, there isn’t a catch-all diet that will work for every person because each of us is quite unique.

Even small hacks can have a big impact for example try not to look at your laptop or emails until you start work, or get an hour or so of no emails and no social media.

Being preventive when it comes to stress is far easier than handling a stress monster in full-blown cortisol mode. So, even if you’re not stressed now, putting strategies in place to stay that way can be crucial for staying on track, no matter what your long-term weight goals might be.

From time to time most of us fall off our exercise routine. Whether its been an injury, being busy, stressed, on holiday or suffering from burnout, even the most dedicated fitness junkie has a dip in their physical activity. Trouble can be, most of us struggle to gain traction once we’re ready to return to our exercise routine.

So, what are some steps to make your transition back into fitness more manageable? Here are six expert-backed tips:

1. Start slowly

Start with three full-body strength sessions per week, taking at least one day to recover in between. Each workout should include exercises that focus on main movement patterns, go for: squats, hinge (hip raises from the floor or kettlebell swings), lunge, vertical press (e.g, shoulder press), horizontal push (e.g, press up), upper body pull (e.g, pullup) and a core stabilizing exercise (e.g, plank). Focusing on these exercises, you’ll improve your base strength and correct movement patterns.

So as long as you’re feeling recovered from your training, you can progress the exercises every two weeks by either increasing repetitions, weight or reducing your recovery time between sets.

2. Use a SMART goal

Get clear on what your fitness goal is and give yourself a time period in achieving that. Setting a goal will increase the odds of success. You can use a SMART goal to give yourself a clear plan.

See if your goal fits the SMART criteria:

  • Specific: It’s not enough to say you want to “get fit;” you need to be specific. Choose a specific goal that will get you to your main goal. For example, training for a 10K and to complete it within ‘x’ time period.
  • Measurable: Once you identify your specific goal, make sure you’re able to measure your progress. After all, if you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing, if your goal is to run 10K, monitor your progress by hitting certain benchmarks throughout your training regime. Trying to lose weight? Track progress by weighing yourself periodically and/or having body composition measurements taken.
  • Attainable: Some people tend to set over-ambitious or unrealistic goals and then get discouraged when they can’t attain it, and then fall off again. Whatever your goal, you should feel 90–100% confident you can attain it. If you’re not confident, consider breaking your goal into a smaller goal. For example, instead of aiming to lose 20 pounds in a month, try for eight.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goal is consistent with your interests, needs and abilities. If you can’t stand running, for example, training for a 10K may not be the best fit for you.
  • Time-bound: Goals like “lose weight” or “get fit” are vague and have no end dates attached to them. Decide when you hope to achieve your goal by and fill in your timeline with milestones you need to hit to keep you on track

3. Enjoy it

Another reason people give up exercise in the first place is boredom. When choosing an activity to ease back into shape, choose one you enjoy and even look forward to. Varying your routine and alternating activities can also keep your workout session fresh and exciting.

6 Tips to Get Back Into Exercise After a Break

4. Focus on You

Don’t get down on yourself if your friend can bang out more push ups than you. Or your personal trainer has the six-pack of your dreams. “When we exercise, we are asking our biology to adapt, and if Darwin taught us anything, it’s that biological adaptations take time.” So, don’t let other people make you feel insecure. Instead, focus on your own goals and abilities. Continue taking consistent steps toward your goals and simply enjoy the journey she adds. You’ll get to where you want to be through hard work and consistency.

5. Stay active in between training days

Muscle soreness is normal, even expected – especially at the beginning. But while you may be tempted to use post-workout stiffness as an excuse to sit in front of the TV, you’ll be more likely to tackle your next workout if you do a little stretching or going for a long walk on your days off. It doesn’t have to be intense, just some basic movements or ‘loosening up’ will speed up your recovery. By not being sedentary will maintain a consistent exercise habit. Take the dog for a walk, take the stairs instead of the lift or take a yoga class, just keep your body used to moving consistently.

6. Keep yourself accountable

Often, we need to be accountable to someone (or something) other than ourselves to showing up regularly for that intense workout. Increase your odds of success by enlisting help. No one ever said that fitness had to be a solo journey.

Hire a trainer, join a group session, or set a weekly run date with a friend or colleague. Sometimes, you don’t even need another person to hold you accountable, or at first, start logging your workouts and tracking your food intake, that alone can be enough to keep someone motivated.