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The Daily Upgrade 16/Dec/2018

Be Slim

5 Easy Prenatal Bodyweight Exercises, for When You Want to Lie on the Couch and Eat Saltines

If you're expecting, then you probably already know pregnancy isn't exactly like the glossy photos you see in magazines or the picture-perfect scenes on TV. Sure, it can be amazing and joyful. But there are also times you're stuck in bed, feel sick to your stomach, or are just plain uncomfortable. During those moments, the last thing on your mind is exercise.

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But hear us out. Studies show moderate exercise during pregnancy can improve sleep; maintain your physical fitness; and reduce your risk of diabetes, excessive weight gain, depression, and an unplanned C-section. Regular exercise also helps prepare your body for labor and can even make it shorter.

If that's not enough, it's good for your babe too. Children of women who exercise during pregnancy have healthier birth weights, are less likely to be obese later on in life, and are smarter to boot.

As long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That's 5 days of 30-minute workouts, or two to three 10-minute workouts spread throughout each day. Of course, always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.

Doctors say it's okay to do most of the same activities you did before pregnancy, but listen to your body. "I couldn't even get off the couch!" says Joselynne Boschen, a Nike master trainer who struggled to stay active during her first trimester. "Everyone is different. You might be able to do one of these workouts one day, but the next day, you need to sleep. And that's OK."

We worked with Boschen to create three different workouts that will help you stay active no matter how you're feeling.

For Days You Feel Like Sh*t

Try not to be hard on yourself. "Stretching to help circulation and relieve unwanted stress is a step in the right direction," says Boschen. "Know these feelings are temporary."

How to use this list: Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. Complete 3 sets for a full 15-minute workout. You can pair this with a 15-minute walk or use these moves as a warm-up for other workouts when you're feeling energetic and strong. All you need is a yoga mat and a wall.

1. Standing Leg Swing

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Stand with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight onto left leg to free up right leg. Swing right leg forward as high as possible (try to get it about parallel to the ground) and then swing it backward behind you. You can use a nearby wall or chair for support if you need. Continue for 1 minute then switch to opposite leg for 1 minute. This move will open up your hips, and having flexible hips during delivery is obviously a good thing!

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

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Start by kneeling then take a big step forward with left foot so that left knee is directly over left ankle and you feel a stretch in right hip. Raise right arm and squeeze right glute to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on opposite side. This will help take the pressure off your lower back, especially if you typically sit for long periods (like at work or in the car).

3. Child's Pose

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Start by kneeling on all fours. Touch toes together and open knees just wider than hips (enough room to fit your belly). Exhale then sit back, sending butt to heels and stretching arms out in front of you, palms down. Rest forehead to mat and release shoulders to floor. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute to feel a release in lower back. To come up, inhale and slowly return to all fours for a few seconds before standing up.

4. Legs up the Wall

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*Only perform this move during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, experts suggest staying off your back due to the weight of your uterus. If it isn't comfortable during the first trimester, don't do it.

Lie on back facing a wall. Lift legs up onto wall and scoot forward until butt is as close to the wall as is comfortable. Keep arms at side or spread out, whatever feels right. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and lightness in your legs. Hang out here for anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. By reversing the effects of gravity, you'll relieve tired feet and legs, reduce swelling, and regulate circulation.

5. Hip Stretch

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*Only perform this move on your back during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, you can do it standing, using a wall or chair for balance. If neither option feels comfortable, simply use a foam roller to relieve hips, glutes, and legs.

Start by lying faceup with knees bent and feet flat on mat. Cross left ankle over right thigh just above bent knee, keeping left foot flexed. Thread left arm through space created by legs and interlace fingers behind right thigh. Using arms, gently pull right leg closer to chest while keeping hips square. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute then repeat on opposite leg.


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For Days You Lack Energy

If you feel like you're dragging, there's a good reason: Your body is working overtime. But a little bit of movement can reenergize you. "Listen to your body and focus on doing things that make you feel good," Boschen says.

How to use this list: Do a short warm-up. Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. If it is a single-sided movement, do 1 minute on each side. Rest for 1 minute between each set. Complete 3 sets for a 25-minute workout. All you need is an exercise mat. Be sure to cool down afterward and remember that your blood pressure drops during pregnancy, so be careful getting up and down while working out.

1. Squat


Start by standing with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping back straight, send hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat while simultaneously bringing arms up in front of chest for balance. Make sure shoulders and chest stay upright. Lift back to standing and repeat for 1 minute. For more details on how to properly squat, check out this article.

2. Dip With Leg Reach


Sit with knees bent, feet on floor. Lean back, place hands behind butt, and lift hips off ground. Wrists should be over shoulders, knees over ankles, fingertips facing butt. Using just arms, bend elbows to dip hips down to mat. As you press back up to starting position, extend right leg straight up while reaching left fingers to right toes. Return to starting position then repeat with other leg. Continue for 1 minute.

3. Windshield Wipers

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Start in a forearm plank with feet hip-width apart. Engage core then step right foot to just outside of right side of mat. Step left foot to meet it. Then step left foot to just outside left side of mat. Step right foot to meet it. Continue alternating for 1 minute.

4. Hip Bridge With Stretch


Lie faceup with knees bent, feet on mat, arms at sides. Cross right ankle over left knee. Exhale as you press heels into floor to lift hips up. Lift just high enough that you don't arch your low back. Inhale as you lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 1 minute then switch to other leg.

5. Side Push-Up


Performing a push-up on your side (rather than in plank position) is more comfortable for your back and belly. Start by lying on right side, left leg bent in a 90-degree angle, right leg resting on top. Place right hand on left side to keep that arm out of the way. Place left hand on mat in front of you between right shoulder and elbow. Engage core and press left hand into mat to lift shoulders and torso off mat. Slowly lower back down to starting position. Continue for 1 minute then repeat on opposite side.

Running

30 Convincing Reasons to Start Running Now

What promises a healthier body, a sunnier outlook, and the perfect opportunity to catch up? This is no infomercial. Running is one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. Still not convinced? Here are 30 reasons to hit the ground running.


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1. Do it anywhere.
Run, that is. Whether on the treadmill or in the park, it’s easy to rack up miles. Even better: Lace up your sneakers on your next vacation to explore a new place.

2. Make new friends.
Tired of meeting duds at the bar? Check out local running groups or websites like Meetup and hit the road with other health-minded folks. Twenty questions is just as good during a run (boozy brunches afterward are optional).

3. Save some cash.
Forget fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership. When it comes to running, all you need is the right footwear.

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4. Visit the doctor less.
Apples aren't the only things that keep the doctor away. Active people are less likely to develop colon cancer. And ladies, women who regularly engage in intense workouts like running can reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 30 percent.

5. Eat more carbs.
Here's an excuse to slurp up more spaghetti: During intense training (like preparing for a race), increasing carb intake can help your performance and boost your mood during harder runs. 

6. Keep it interesting.
Forget boring laps around a track. Interval training helps boost metabolism and rev cardiovascular fitness. Bonus: Research shows people who do intervals have more fun while running (really!) and might be more likely to keep it up. 

7. Live longer.
Not only do runners have fewer disabilities and remain active longer than their sedentary counterparts, but they actually live longer too. And even as weekly running times decrease with age, the healthy benefits keep on ticking. 

8. Get primal.
Turns out Bruce Springsteen was right: We were born to run. Running turned us from apes to humans and was used by our ancestors to elude prey.

9. Feel the burn.
For a 160-pound person, running can burn more than 850 calories an hour.


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10. Bring sexy back.
Not only does having a rockin’ runner’s bod boost confidence in bed, but regular exercise can also help flexibility between the sheets—and get you in the mood more often.

11. Boost memory.
Exercise has been shown to help keep the mind sharp. Hitting the track might also reduce symptoms of dementia and protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, even for those with a family history of it.

12. See the sunny side.
Active folks see the glass as half full, even after they're done sweating. 

13. Get a natural glow.
Believe it or not, working up a sweat can rid your pores of the gunk that clogs them and leads to breakouts.  A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping things fresh and healthy. (Just remember to remove makeup preworkout and wash gently afterward to avoid breakouts.)

14. Improve self-esteem.
Need another excuse to go green? Runners who ran outside and snagged a good view of nature showed increased self-esteem post-workout than those who had only unpleasant scenes to gaze at. Ahem, dreadmill.

15. Stay steady.
Older runners keep their balance better than nonrunners, protecting their knees and tendons in the process. Be careful not to overdo it, though: Too much exercise can lead to stress injuries and bone loss.

16. Turn down the pressure.
Running is a natural way to keep high blood pressure at bay—and fast. Amping up workouts can help lower blood pressure in just a few weeks. 

17. Build stronger bones.
Resistance training is awesome, but word on the street is running might help produce even stronger bones than cranking out reps. Running helps build the muscle that lower-impact workouts ignore, keeping bones healthier even as they age.

18. Get an energy boost.
Feeling sluggish? Try going for a jog instead of lounging on the couch. Just one run can increase energy and decrease fatigue. 

19. Take your furry friends.
Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason, and they can be man’s best workout buddy too. Grab a leash and give your pet a new kind of treat.


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20. Strengthen that core.
A strong core improves posture, strengthens limbs, and helps make everyday activities a breeze. And whether you feel it or not, running engages your midsection, strengthening those all-important muscles. Bonus: A solid core can improve performance. 

21. Sleep better.
Runners tend to adapt to set sleeping routines in order to keep performance high. Even better: Running encourages higher quality sleep, which translates into better zzzs all night long. 

22. Do it year-round.
You can rack up the miles no matter what the weatherman says (just dress appropriately!). Temperatures still not just right? Jazz up the ol’ treadmill run to get the same health benefits indoors.

23. Jam out to speed up.
Pop in headphones when running to increase speed and get a little energy boost. We won’t even judge your playlist.

24. Check off those goals
Studies suggest people who set and meet (or exceed) long-term fitness goals (like signing up for a half-marathon!) are more committed and satisfied with their exercise routines than those who trudge along aimlessly.  Who doesn’t feel good about crossing items off their bucket list?

25. Show your heart some loving.
People who run for just an hour a week can reduce their risk of heart disease by almost half compared to nonrunners.  And for those already hitting the recommended physical activity guidelines (that's 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), an extra spurt of exercise can lower your risk of heart disease even more. (Just be mindful not to overdo it and cause more damage than good.)

26. Run stress away.
Ready to pull your hair out? Instead of tuning in to a brainless reality TV marathon, try running an actual marathon. Not only does running boost the brain’s serotonin levels, regular exercise might actually remodel the brain, making it calmer and more stress resistant. 

27. Be one with nature.
Want to feel the grass tickle your toes? Try minimalist sneakers or nothing at all. Just be sure to ease into this type of running to avoid injuries.

28. Increase stamina.
Running regularly will improve stamina, making workouts more enjoyable and productive. And let’s not forget that lasting longer isn’t restricted to the track—it’s useful in, uh, other areas as well.

29. Get there faster.
Instead of a leisurely evening stroll, try a jog around the neighborhood instead. It’ll burn more calories in the same amount of time.

30. Sound like a pro.
Get in the know with our list of running lingo. Ready, set, run!

News's

Get empowered at Lorna Jane's live panel event

Active-living brand Lorna Jane is putting on a live panel event this month to talk about wellbeing, success and fitness.

The Empowering Women live panel discussions have been organised by leading Australian active-living brand Lorna Jane together with wellbeing campaigner Lizzie Horgan, who was diagnosed with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 25 years old. Since her diagnosis, Lizzie has worked with many organisations to raise greater awareness of her condition and to help others who are also suffering to live more sustainable lives.

The panel discussion, led by wellbeing and yoga expert Robyn Silverton, will focus on four main topics:

1. The 'Third Metric' - a concept introducted by Arianna Huffington, which redefines the meaning of     success from acquiring money and power to prioritising your wellbeing

2. Healthy striving - how loving yourself and reframing your thoughts can lead to a happier life

3. Wellness and fitness revolution and what this means for women in particular

4. How to step out of your comfort zones, overcome your insecurities and follow your dreams

Panelists at the Empowering Women discussions will include Robyn Silverton; health, fitness and luxury lifestyle journalist, Poppy Cross; Senior Lifestyle Editor at the Huffington Post, Brogan Driscoll; Editor-in-Chief of Well To Do, Lauren Armes and Founder of Ethos, Jessica Kruger.

After the event, healthy refreshments will be provided for attendees and you'll also have the amazing chance to speak personally to each of the panellists. If you're looking for sound advice on any of these topics, it sounds like the perfect way to spend the morning.

The event will take place at Lorna Jane's brand new UK flagship store in Covent Garden, within its bespoke 'Active Lounge'.

Lorna Jane will be donating 100% of ticket sales to AYME, the charity that supports people who suffer from ME, like Lizzie.

The Empowering Women event will take place on the 17th March from 9.30am - approx. 11.30am.

To purchase tickets, please click here.

@lornajaneuk

#lornajane #liveactive #movenourishbelieve #lornajaneuk 

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Women in sport

Raise the profile of your favourite female athlete or pick up a new sport yourself, there are plenty of ways to get involved!

Men play sport, and they play it well. We know this because both sports-specific channels and mainstream network television channels are saturated with it.

Which is great. After all, who can deny the entertainment value of a nail-biting FA Cup final or an edge-of-your-seat primetime boxing match? 

Plus these men train hard to be the best they can be at their chosen sport, and their efforts and abilities can be truly inspiring. But hang on… what about the women? Most sports you see on TV – including football and boxing – have plenty of female participants – at an elite level, no less. They train just as hard. They turn up and play their hearts out. But while we’ve a long way to go before we get the huge funding, 

Lets hear it for the girls 

In the past few years, we’ve seen some huge positive changes for women in sport. London 2012 saw the introduction of women’s boxing to the Olympic Games. And it couldn’t have gone any better for us with Great Britain’s own Nicola Adams taking home the first ever Olympic gold medal won by a female boxer. It was a proud moment for Team GB, undoubtedly, but it was also a proud moment for women everywhere. Nicola – and female boxers of all weight categories from around the world – proved that women have a place in the ring, and they did so on the biggest sporting stage possible. Team those performances between the ropes with Jessica Ennis’s breathtaking skills in the stadium, Jade Jones’s fighting spirit and the blood, sweat and determination of every female who represented their country that summer, and it’s obvious that sport for women is changing, for the better.

GB’s Victoria Pendleton et al made massive waves in the cycling scene during 2012, and since then, too, popularising the sport among everyday women like us. And these girls, along with the other female cyclists working hard to bring the sport into the spotlight, have been nothing short of successful. This summer – two years after the Games – saw the inaugural women’s race at the world-famous Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycling race. The free-to-watch event brought female cycling into the limelight once again. The Tour’s winner, Holland’s Marianne Vos, added this title to her already impressive list of accolades – Olympic gold medallist and world road-race champion. She’s fast becoming a cycling legend.

Cycling and boxing, in particular, are thought of as men’s sports, with athletes like Bradley Wiggins and Ricky Hatton household names in Britain. But perhaps the most popular sport among men? It’s got to be football. From chants in the stands to glugging a beer down the pub while the game’s on, football has long been seen as a man’s sport. But, more recently, women have been moving in on the action on the football pitch, too. According to stats from the Football Association, a whopping 1 million viewers tuned into the FA Women’s Cup Final last year, and a staggering 70,000 watched Team GB beat Brazil at Wembley Stadium during the 2012 Games. If spectator numbers are reaching such soaring figures, it’s undeniable that people want to see it. ‘The closer and more competitive our matches are, the more of a spectator sport it becomes,’ says former England player and assistant head coach of the England Women’s team, Marieanne Spacey. ‘More FA Women’s Super League teams are training full time and more players are turning professional. So standards will continue to rise and the quality of matches will improve even further.’

The FA’s stats also prove that we want to get involved, too. Some 42.9% of those attending FA skills programme sessions are girls, and 11,025 of us attended national FA girls’ football festivals and fan zones last year. Football is no longer just for the boys.

While some sports are traditionally male dominated, that’s not the case for all sports. Martial arts like taekwondo, for example, have a high number of female participants. ‘Unlike many sports, taekwondo has just as many female as male competitors,’ says Jade Jones, GB’s first taekwondo gold medallist. ‘Girls often start wanting to learn self-defence, but then realise the sport is much more than that. It’s technical, improves flexibility and is great for keeping fit. Our governing body also recently launched a campaign called KickSister, which encourages women to get involved by focusing more on fitness and self-defence.’

Get a slice of the pie    

Women’s SportsNet (WSNet), which is a useful hub for women to get information on sport, recently launched the ACTIVEMapX (wsnet.co.uk/activemapx) to help women find sports classes near them. Almost all of us have enjoyed playing sport at some point, even if it was just through school PE classes, so it’s often a case of simply finding a way to get back into it. With almost 20,000 locations nationwide offering hockey, netball and volunteer-led classes, ACTIVEMapX proves that it really is becoming easier and easier for women to get fit through sport, and that it’s slowly but steadily becoming the norm. ‘Local classes found on the ACTIVEMapX help you engage with friends and neighbours, and build confidence,’ says WSNet’s Paul Reynolds. ‘You can find fencing, rollerderby or powerhoop around the corner!’

If you want to start with something more familiar, cycling is perfect. And following the success of golden girl Victoria Pendleton and her team mates in 2012, it’s no wonder that there have been so many initiatives to get more women into the sport. The FA have even joined forces with British Cycling to launch Kick Start Your Ride – a joint effort from two of the UK’s biggest governing bodies to get women to cycle to football matches. ‘This is about two sports coming together to inspire women to try something new,’ explains Natalie Justice, women’s network project manager at British Cycling. ‘The opportunity to go on a group bike ride with the prize of getting to watch some exciting football at the end of it has all the ingredients of a fun day out and we hope to see hundreds of women getting involved.’

Raising the profile           

It’s time to start evening the playing field, but it takes determination and courage. Something GB’s own gold-medal-winning cyclist Nicole Cooke has by the bucket. ‘When I first started competing in cycling, there were no British Championships for women in road or track,’ she says. ‘I wrote to the British Cycling Federation to ask for championships, and after an initial refusal, they changed their mind and I competed in the inaugural U16 British Track Championships for girls in 1998, and there are now championships for all age categories for girls on road and track – a huge step forward.’ Nicole also wrote to the Union Cycliste International (the world governing body for sports cycling) about the heavy bias towards men in the Olympics, which in 2004 offered eight medals for men and only four for women. In London 2012, five medals were offered to both men and women. While it’s shocking to see such inequality in sport, it’s the determination of people like Nicole that makes a real difference. 

Women’s Sport Trust (womenssporttrust.com) aims to raise the profile and visibility of women’s sports through role models, media coverage and funding – the things that get female athletes seen and heard in order to inspire others to give sport a go. ‘Since London 2012, there’s been an increase in coverage and buying of rights to women’s sport from broadcasters such as BT Sport, Sky and BBC,’ says Jo Bostock, co-founder of Women’s Sport Trust. ‘Not to mention the national cricket team becoming professional and the announcement of La Course – a female event alongside the final day of the Tour De France.’

What WST does is important as it’s about encouraging women to realise that, whatever their fitness level, background or history, sport can be for them, too. We need to increase the positive impact not only by participating, but by watching women play sport, getting our companies involved with sponsorship and urging schools to create more sports opportunities. 

Healthy Eating Tips

Nutrition for women of all ages

  • Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet that emphasize fruits and vegetables, seafood, and healthy fats can help control your weight and reduce your risk for certain diseases. Carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, melons, and peppers, may even reduce your risk for breast cancer. Add leafy green vegetables and a variety of whole grains, beans, and other legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find organic, minimally processed, or locally grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.
  • Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. Dairy products are high in calcium and recent evidence suggests that consuming whole-fat dairy can also have beneficial effects on weight control. Consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens as well.
  • Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis and postmenopausal breast cancer. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Both alcohol and caffeine can also worsen PMS and menopause symptoms and adversely affect fertility. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.
  • Cut down on sugar. Sugars that are not found naturally in foods contribute zero nutrients but lots of calories to your diet. Naturally occurring sugars are found in products containing milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose), while added sugars can be found in the most unexpected foods, often hidden in the ingredients list as agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup, and more.

Healthy Eating Tips

10 frugal hacks for foodies

Eat well, but spend less, with our penny pinching tips

If you want to fatten your purse while you whittle your waistline, you need to get creative. Healthy food doesn’t have to mean pricey food. You simply need to employ three key skills: top-notch organisation; super-shrewd shopping and culinary creativity. Check out our great diet-optimising tips to save time and money. Ker-ching!

1. Plan ahead

At the end of each week, scribble down a healthy-eating plan for the week ahead. Figuring out which meals you’re going to make during the week will save you time and won’t stretch your purse strings. ‘Only buy food that can go well with what you already have in your fridge so you are not wasting anything,’ advises Nature’s Plus nutritionist Michela Vagnin (naturesplus.com). ‘Make a weekly menu plan and buy only what you need to prepare it,’ she adds.

2. Cook in bulk

Once you’ve stocked up on key ingredients, make bigger portions for dinner that will cover you for two meals and then take any leftovers to work. When you have extra time on weekends make up batches of your favourite soups, stews and stir-fries. Then divide them into individual portions and freeze until they’re needed. 

3. Go meat-free

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. Further research shows, on the whole, those following a plant-based diet have a lower risk of diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes. Remember, meat doesn’t have to be the centrepiece. You can bulk up dishes with quinoa or eggs, beans or lentils and they’ll still pack a protein punch. ‘High-fibre food like legumes are good for constipation and weight loss. They’re also nutrient dense, so great for your skin and immune system,’ says Michela. 

4. Be restaurant savvy 

When you’re watching your wallet, dining out is usually a big no-no. But if you’re clever about it, you can still enjoy the luxury of eating out. Skip starters and order a vegetarian meal instead of a meat-based dish, as these usually tend to be cheaper (and often healthier). ‘Also remember that alcohol in restaurants is quite expensive, so stick to water or choose restaurants where you can bring your own (BYO),’ suggests Michela. ‘If you feel like a drink, maybe have an aperitif at home with friends before heading off to the restaurant. Alcohol-free nights will make a big difference to your weekly budget and will also be a good detox,’ she adds. 

5. Eat in season

Sick of splashing out £4 on a punnet of blueberries? If you don’t want to miss out on getting your five-a-day, simply eat fruit and veg in season when it’s cheaper. And if you don’t want to forgo organic food, head to your local farmers’ market at the end of the day to get the best prices on organic produce. Alternatively, you could sign up to an organic veg box scheme where you can order weekly groceries online – pick the cheapest box of the week and you’ll get fresh fruit and veg delivered straight to your doorstep. ‘Cauliflower, celeriac, leeks, parsnips and swede are all in season now. These can all be made into stews or toasted in the oven with herbs or spices to give them an extra kick,’ recommends Michela. 

6. Be inspired

Love browsing the shelves of your local health store, but hate the knock-on effect it has on your bank balance? Make your own versions of foods like smoothies, houmous, granola and ‘fruit and nut’ bars and you’ll save money (and calories) in the long run. ‘Remember, cooking your own food is usually cheaper than buying pre-made pre-packed food,’ says Michela. 

7. Don’t always look at best-before dates

British households end up throwing away a whopping 7 million tonnes of food every year. And, while nobody wants to eat food that’s gone off, best-before dates aren’t always the best indicator of whether food is still safe to eat. There’s a big difference between best-before dates and use-by dates. ‘Best-by dates refer to foods that are best before that date – after that date they might not be as fresh, but will still be edible – whereas use-by dates refer to foods that expire before a specific date. Always choose food with longer expiry dates, especially for weekly shopping,’ advises Michela. 

8. Outsmart your supermarket

Supermarkets are designed to squeeze as much money out of you as they can, so you have to shop smart in order to sidestep the overspending traps. First up, don’t feel the need to fill up your trolley; if you’re not doing a weekly shop, pick up a basket instead. You won’t want to carry a heavy basket!  ‘And buy loose fruit and veg rather than pre-packed, as this will save you the packaging money,’ adds Michela. 

9. Take a multivitamin

A balanced diet is a good place to start if you want to improve your health, but if you really want to give your body a boost, taking a daily multivitamin can be a helpful aid. ‘When you buy supplements, buy them in larger sizes. Although you have to shell out more cash initially, they’ll last you longer and you’ll save more money overall,’ says Michela. 

10. Use your freezer

Fed up of having to toss away veggies week after week? Use your freezer’s ice cube trays to freeze fresh vegetables. Purée greens like spinach and broccoli, spoon into the trays, and then use them whenever you want to make a homemade smoothie or juice. You’ll find it’s much cheaper (and healthier) than buying shop-bought versions. 

Weight Loss Tips

Train and gain! with this dumbbell workout

Here’s how strength training can get you a better bikini body...

More and more women are strength training when they hit the gym, but if you’re still not convinced, then you could be missing out on some serious benefits.

Whether you’re using the TRX, doing a kettlebell class or using a pair of dumbbells in your HIIT circuit – you are strength training! It’s not all about weightlifting belts, clouds of chalk and groaning as loud as you can – though, that’s all welcome, too! It is, however, about using weights that truly challenge you, promoting muscle growth that in turn elevates your fat burn. The result is a leaner you, with a higher metabolic rate throughout the day. 

‘It’s estimated that for every half a kilo of lean muscle you gain, your body will burn 35-50 extra calories each day just to maintain it,’ explains John Shepherd, author of new book Strength Training for Women. ‘Regular cardio exercisers may lose weight but end up with a body that lacks tone and holds fat around key “problem” areas, such as the abdomen and hips.’ But those aren’t the only benefits you’ll experience – that’s just the beginning.

‘Resistance training will also boost your hormones,’ explains John. Basically, the more you pick up the weights, the more your levels of growth hormone are elevated. Why is this desirable? Well, along with playing a vital role in shedding fat, growth hormone also helps to slow the effects of ageing, according to John. Who wouldn’t want that? As we age we also experience a higher risk of osteoporosis, and strength training is an effective way of combating this. Not only do weights build muscle but they strengthen your bones, too, which is ideal for overall health as well as preventing injury.

Strength training also challenges your body in all different planes of motion, boosting its ability to master complex moves – especially ones that’ll help you in everyday life. We’re talking lifting, carrying, picking things up – that’s why it’s considered functional fitness. 

Don’t know where to start? John’s book is a great place, but if you want a taster, check out this workout he put together. It’s suitable for all levels, targeting the whole body using compound exercises. ‘These moves work numerous joints,’ explains John, ‘making them more functional and calorie-burning.’ Always use weights that prove difficult in the final reps of each set without compromising form – but if you’re new to weights, start out light and focus on building strength and technique. Everyone should add weights each month to encourage progress.

HOW TO DO IT

Always warm up before and cool down after this workout. Do each of the two workouts once a week, leaving at least 48 hours between each.

Workout 1: Metabolic and hormonal booster

Perform 3 x 10 reps of each move. Take enough recovery to allow for each set to be completed optimally.

Workout 2: Pyramid with body shaping fast-twitch fibre emphasis

Perform 8 reps using a light weight, 6 using a medium weight, then 2 x 4 reps using a heavy weight.

Workout 1

 Rear foot elevated split squat

Areas trained: glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique

  1. Holding dumbbells by each side, stand in front of a bench and place the toes of your rear foot on it. Hop your standing leg forward and place your foot flat on the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. Keeping your trunk upright and looking straight ahead, bend your front leg to lower your body to the ground. Lower until your thigh is approximately  parallel to the ground. 
  3. Push back up strongly and repeat. Perform the allotted reps on one side, and then the other to complete a full set.

Seated shoulder press

Areas trained: shoulders, triceps

Technique

  1. Sit on a bench holding dumbbells in front of your shoulders.
  2. Press the dumbbells up to the ceiling, bringing them close together at the top of the movement.
  3. Lower under control and repeat.

Single-arm kettlebell swing

Areas trained: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, back, shoulders

Technique

  1. Take hold of the kettlebell in one hand with your knuckles facing away from you. Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart. Let the kettlebell hang down at arm-length in front of your body and let it drop down and through your legs.
  2. Move with the fall of the kettlebell and let your bottom move backwards and torso incline forwards with knees soft. As the momentum of the weight begins to stall and go in the other direction, ‘snap’ your hips to impart more momentum onto the kettlebell to drive it up again.
  3. Let the weight fall back down and repeat. Perform the allotted reps on both sides to complete a set.

Plié squat

Areas trained: glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique 

  1. Holding the dumbbells with your knuckles facing away from you in front of your hips, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width and turned out, making sure that your feet and knees are similarly angled.
  2. Bend your legs to plié and then extend them to stand back up and repeat.

 

Workout 2

Clean

Areas trained: back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique

  1. Take hold of a barbell from the floor with your knuckles facing forwards and hands just further than shoulder-width apart. Keep your heels on the floor, arms extended and head up.
  2. Drive up to lift the bar from the floor, keeping your shoulders over it and your knees bent.
  3. As the bar approaches hip-level, drive your hips forwards and now pull on the bar with your arms. As you do this, switch your grip from overhand to underhand and ‘catch’ the bar in a racked position on the front of your shoulders.
  4. Keeping your back flat, control the bar down to the floor, bending your knees and folding forwards, first to your thighs and then to the floor.

Squat

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, back

Technique

  1. Support a barbell across the fleshy rear part of your shoulders (avoiding contact with your top vertebrae). Pull the bar down onto your shoulders to 
  2. fix it in place. Keep your head up and maintain the natural curve of your spine.
  3. Bend your knees to lower the weight as far as your flexibility allows. Keep your knees behind your toes as you go.
  4. Push through your heels to stand up and repeat.

Deadlift

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back

Technique

  • Squat down slightly with your feet under the barbell and take hold of it with both hands.
  • Straighten your legs to start to move the bar upwards, keeping your arms long and the bar close to your shins (don’t pull with your arms).
  • Extend your hips to stand upright with the bar across the front of your thighs.
  • Return to the start and repeat.

Bent-over row

Areas trained: upper back, biceps, lower back, glutes, hamstrings

Technique

  • Keeping a bend in your knees, hinge at your hips so your upper body is almost parallel to the floor, holding a barbell with arms extended towards the floor.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the barbell up towards your hips.
  • Slowly lower and repeat.

Weight Loss Tips

Eat to control cravings and boost energy

  • Eat breakfast. Get your metabolism going in the morning by eating a healthy breakfast. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. A solid breakfast provides energy for the day.
  • Eat regularly. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Support your body’s natural cycle of energy by eating a substantial breakfast, a nutritious lunch, a snack around 2 pm (to compensate for the body’s natural low point that occurs around 3 each afternoon), and a light early dinner.
  • Cut the junk. The ups and downs that come with eating sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates cause extreme swings in energy level and mood. Cutting out these foods can be tough, but if you can resist for several days, your cravings will subside.
  • Focus on complex carbohydrates. Foods such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and bananas boost your “feel-good” serotonin levels without a crash. They also provide plenty of fiber, so you feel full much longer.
  • Boost energy with quality protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but it’s important to vary your diet with fish, chicken and turkey, dairy, and plant-based protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and non-GMO soy products. If you eat red meat, opt for organic, grass-fed rather than processed meats, such as hotdogs, bacon, and salami, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Health and Wellbeing

Strike a balance with this Inner thigh exercise

Want to boost gym performance? It’s time to balance out your intense workouts with a good old dance-inspired stretch

Blocking out the time to really delve into a stretching session can seem hard to justify if your busy schedule already makes squeezing workouts in difficult.

But if you’ve found yourself hitting a wall when it comes to results, or you’re constantly plagued by niggling injuries, it might just be what the doctor ordered. US-based Lastics has taken inspo from the long, lean and limber bodies of dancers to come up with classes and online videos to help regular gym-goers get the most out of their workouts. ‘Dancers epitomise the balance between strength and flexibility to the extreme,’ says Lastics founder Donna Flagg. ‘Their bodies are graceful, sculpted and powerful.’

Rather than overhauling your entire workout routine to emulate that of a ballerina, Lastics instead allows you to simply take a leaf out of their book, providing stretching-focused classes to help you develop an improved range of motion. This is essential to anyone who’s looking to prevent injuries, boost conditioning and balance out strength training – as well as achieve a slender silhouette. ‘Lastics enhances all other activities, improves posture and circulation and gives you more freedom to move in your body,’ Donna adds. So if you’re intrigued by the slenderness and strength of a dancer but don’t necessarily have any goals to make it as one (bar the occasional tear-up on the dance floor on a Friday night), this is the perfect middle ground.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Lastics, trying out the DVD or even just having a taster of what it might be like, give this workout a go. Donna has devised it especially to supplement WF’s workouts, but it’s a wise and healthy addition to any active woman’s weekly routine. It can even be added to the end of a workout if you don’t want to dedicate an entire session to it.

How to do it

Breathe into the stretch and release when the body starts to resist. Then take a few breaths and release deeper into the stretch on each exhale. Repeat as desired. 

Technique

Sit in a straddle and let your head hang between your legs, rounding your back. Release any tension you may be holding.

After you’ve been hanging there totally relaxed, reach your nose a little closer to the floor. Hold your upper body where it is and press the backs of your knees down into the floor.

Hold your body and knees in place and flex your feet, making sure your knees don’t pop back up.

Finally, hold all of that and lift your chin to flatten your back. Hold for a few seconds.

Health and Wellbeing

What's your financial faux pas?

Get your cashflow back on track in next to no time with our top money-saving tips

Let’s face it – we all want to make life that little bit more affordable. So whether you’re saving to buy a house, have a little one on the way or simply want to boost your pension pot, there’s no better time to start thinking about safeguarding your finances. 

‘People often push finances to the back of their mind, thinking ‘‘I’ll deal with it when I get there’’, says Anita Naik, consumer editor forvouchercodes.co.uk. ‘And then find they can’t get a mortgage, or get married in the way they want, all because they didn’t start saving when they had the opportunity,’ 

Wanting security for the future is one thing, but most of us are guilty of everyday cashflow slip-ups that can have a long-term effect on financial stability. With new research showing that one in seven of us take on an extra job just to keep our heads above water, we’ve put together the most common money mistakes and asked the experts to come up with simple fixes. Break bad habits and beat financial pitfalls with these cash-savvy solutions.

You can’t stick to a budget

Solution: Budgeting may be boring, but if you want to build any sort of financial freedom it’s the first place to start. Begin by keeping a record of your daily expenditure and you’re sure to make some big savings as a result. ‘Carry a notebook or log it into your smartphone. This enables you to see what you’re spending your money on, work out what you have left to spend each day/week and identify your spending triggers (Lunchtime? Online at night? At weekends?),’ recommends Anita. 

It’s important to get realistic about your regular pay-outs, too. ‘You’ll be surprised at how many payments you hadn’t accounted for when figuring out how much you have left in your monthly wage,’ continues Anita. After figuring out your monthly outgoings you’ll be in the perfect place to start making tweaks for the better. ‘You will need to review your plan and be flexible while you get used to what works for you. Too strict a budget is no good as it just means failure; likewise, too big a budget is useless if it doesn’t suit its purpose.’

You don’t plan ahead

Solution: Spring often signals a fresh start, so there’s no better time to re-evaluate your bank balance. The good news is that there are many ways to foolproof your finances for the future and making sure your credit score is good is essential. Your credit rating has a massive impact on what you can do financially – from taking out loans to getting on the property ladder. Build up your score by making sure you’re on the electoral roll, space out applications for credit cards and keep up to date with monthly bill payments. Want to make sure you don’t go into the red? ‘Another way is to keep a spending diary,’ says Anita. ‘It sounds dull but there are apps that will do this for you, like Spendometer (free from iTunes). This app makes day-to-day money management simple. It enables you to set yourself a budget, log all your spending and review your spending reports,’ she adds.

You’re a secret spender

Solution: One in 10 people admit money matters have been the cause of a relationship break-up, while a surprising 15 per cent of us confess to lying to our partners about our credit card purchases, according to a study by comparison site moneysupermarket.com. Consider yourself a financial fibber? Splurging on stuff you don’t need and then hiding it from your other half breaks the trust in your relationship, so ask yourself, is any designer handbag really worth that? Sacrifice a couple of guilty pleasures and not only will your bank balance flourish, your relationship will, too. And be aware that secret spending can be a sign of something deeper. ‘Either you have a treat mentality, where you feel you “deserve” something for X, Y and Z in your life, or you spend to feel better emotionally,’ says Anita. ‘Aside from the guilt you feel and the impact of getting found out, if you do end up accumulating secret debt your spending habit could have a serious impact on your partner financially. If your spending is secretly racking up debt, or you are not even using what you buy, then it’s a sign you need to seek advice and help for your habit,’ she advises.

You’re not money savvy

Solution: Get smart! We all want to live a nice lifestyle, but cut a few corners and you can save a huge amount of dough. Thinking of signing up as a member at your local gym? Tread carefully! Before committing to an annual gym membership, use trial vouchers to help make your decision. Think realistically about the facilities on offer and which ones you’ll actually use. Access to things like a swimming pool and fancy sauna and steam room will substantially drive up the monthly cost, so make sure you don’t pay above the odds for facilities you can do without. Pay-as-you-go gyms are a great alternative to annual memberships. Although the facilities are often basic, these gyms are great if you’re on a budget as you don’t have to commit to an annual upfront fee. Want a whole new spring wardrobe? Swap the high street for vintage second-hand stores and trawl car boot sales to get bargains that don’t cost the earth. Debating going for the chop? Forking out for a haircut can be hefty on your wallet, so do your research and take advantage of training days at high-end salons where you can get a new ’do by a trainee stylist at the snip of the usual price.

You’re super-disorganised

Solution: Whether you’re late paying your credit card bill or don’t bother doing your research when it comes to insurance policies, being lazy will cost you big time. Avoid enormous annual premiums by shopping around for quotes on the best policies and sidestep high interest rates by setting monthly reminders on your phone to alert you when bills are due. Another way to streamline your bank balance is to ditch the credit card and shell out cash instead – that way you know exactly what you’re spending. ‘Paying by card doesn’t have the same psychological impact as literally handing over money,’ explains Anita. ‘Dealing in cash gives you a much clearer idea of how much you’re going through daily. Take £20 out for the day and it’s likely you’ll be shocked at how much is left by 6pm. If you know you need flexibility to spend more on some days than others, set a weekly budget and get out cash to that amount,’ she suggests.

Beauty

Eight reasons to run!

From blitzing fat to boosting defences, it ticks all the boxes

As much as we love hardcore gym sessions, the change of seasons provides the chance to challenge ourselves with a whole array of performance goals. There’s nothing like a workout revamp to help rev up fitness levels, and this spring we’re all about stepping up the intensity of our regular workout with an outdoor running routine. 

Getting out on the road to brush up on your running technique offers a completely different experience to pounding the treadmill at the gym – and we guarantee you’ll soon be bitten by the running bug. Read our guide to find out what could be in it for you. 

1 Feel refreshed

A change of scenery and a varied workout – what’s not to get excited about? There are plenty of things to look forward to when you take your runs from the treadmill to the great outdoors, whether you’re running down winding country lanes or sprinting around the city streets.’ Due to the rhythmic nature of the activity, it’s easy to zone out, switch off from the outside world and let your mind wander. It could even turn out to be your most creative time of the day,’ says Energie Fitness Clubs and Ragdale Hall fitness consultant Dean Hodgkin. Now the mornings are becoming lighter, heading out for a run first thing offers the perfect start to your day. 

2 Better your body

There’s no denying that taking your workout to the pavements is more taxing on your body, but thankfully the payoffs are plentiful. Without the natural momentum of the treadmill your muscles have to work harder, and so you naturally will reap some awesome rewards, like a more toned lower body and a slimmer middle. ‘Running is a great way to achieve below-the-belt toning – creating thighs and buttocks you can bounce coins off,’ adds Dean. 

3 Boost levels of vitamin d

What’s running got to do with immunity? Well, quite a lot actually. Because the body can’t manufacture vitamin D (a nutrient that’s essential for fending off illness) on its own, we require exposure to sunshine to keep levels continuously topped up. If you feel like you’re constantly battling the sniffles you may be low in vitamin D, and thankfully, picking up the pace outside can help to restore levels and reduce your risk of getting sick. If you’re worried you may have a deficiency, consult your GP and ask to have your levels checked. 

4 Burn more calories

Running is an effective and efficient way of burning calories, and as you’re working your body harder when pounding the pavements you’ll experience a higher calorie burn. ‘Even just a comfortable pace of around 6mph will burn around 300 calories in just 30 minutes, so it’s incredibly effective in all kinds of weight-loss programmes,’ says Dean. Not bad!

5 Challenge yourself 

Whether you’re new to the running scene or already a running pro, setting yourself a challenge is a fantastic way to make sure you’re constantly making progress. ‘Most weight-loss and fitness programmes fall on stony ground because clearly defined goals were not put in place. Setting yourself a long-term target of running a half or even full marathon can be the ideal stimulus to keep you on track – and don’t forget how awesome you’ll feel when you cross the finish line,’ says Dean. 

6 Improve joint health 

The transition from the treadmill to the outdoors can be harsh on your joints, but if you take your running workout to softer surfaces like grass or a running track, you can help to safeguard your body while making your legs stronger and keeping your bones healthy. 

‘Osteoporosis is a very real health risk for women and a key preventative measure is to increase bone density by doing more bone-loading exercises – running being one of the most beneficial,’ explains Dean. Just don’t forget to warm up your muscles and cool down following your sessions.

7 De-stress the natural way

Need to take a break from everyday life? When you’re feeling wound up and in desperate need of a breather, simply pick a picturesque trail, grab your heart rate monitor and let your mind shift focus
as you get into your stride. ‘There are great mood-lifting, stress-busting gains to be made from exercising outdoors, as your senses will be far more stimulated compared with a gym environment,’ says Dean. 

8 Slash your risk of disease

Running not only helps to improve your physical appearance and make you feel more energised, it could also lower your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes type 2 by reducing levels of blood glucose after eating. Win, win! 

Beauty

Top five foods for skin

Keep your skin healthy and glowing with these must-eat foods.

Salmon - Packed with omega-3 fats and protein, salmon, along with other oily fish such as sardines and mackeral, is on dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone's must-eat list of wrinkle-busters. 

Berries - A range of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and so on will pack a hefty anthocyanin punch, whacking up your antioxidant levels and giving your skin a boost.

Soya - 'The hormone oestrogen helps maintain collagen, and the skin's softness,' explains nutirtionist Amanda Ursell. 'Soya milk, tofu and flazseeds are all rich in oestrogen-like substances, isoflavones. These may help balance falling levels of oestrogen as we age.'

Brazil nuts - 'These are very high in selenium, which helps block the formation of an enzyme involved in ageing, which is produced in response to air pollution,' says Ursell.

Green tea - One small study from the University of Alabama in the US has suggested drinking green tea may help reverse the DNA damage casued by excess sun and linked with both wrinkles and skin cancer. More research is needed, but there's certainly no harm in quaffing a few cuppas of the green stuff. 

Essential Gym

Follow these easy Bum Exercises #GluteGains

Buns of steel aren’t the only benefits of this workout from Insta-star Zanna van Dijk. Expect to radiate confidence, too

Looking at Zanna van Dijk’s Instagram feed, you’d think that she’s lived and breathed fitness her whole life. 

But what makes the health and fitness blogger, Instagrammer and all-round ‘influencer’ so relatable is that she really is just like the rest of us. ‘I actually hated exercise at school and would find any excuse to avoid PE,’ she reveals to WF in an exclusive interview. ‘I only started getting into it at university. I heard about the benefits of eating well and training and decided to give it a shot.’ And if you thought she took to it like a duck to water, think again. Like the rest of us, Zanna made mistakes along the way. Now? She’s a full-time fitness professional working as a personal trainer – not to mention one of the most popular health and fitness bloggers and Instagrammers out there, with 115,000 followers and counting. She puts her success down to passion, consistency and realness: ‘I have a no-nonsense approach to social media, fitness and life,’ she says. ‘There’s no smoke and mirrors and I’m very honest about my lifestyle.’

For anyone who’s kept their ear to the ground with fitness trends for a while now, it’s impossible not to have noticed the fast pace at which the industry has changed since the rise of social media. Trends come and go – but it seems that bloggers and influencers are definitely having their time. Zanna is riding the wave better than any of them, proven by the launch of #GirlGains – an online community she co-founded with fellow social media influencers Tally Rye and Victoria Spence. ‘It’s for women who are interested in bettering themselves in all areas of their lives, not just fitness,’ explains Zanna. ‘We educate, empower and inspire women to be healthy, happy and confident, to look after themselves and to love themselves.’ And judging by the turnout at their events, the number of followers they have on Instagram and the use of their hashtag #GirlGains, they’re doing just that. For someone as driven as Zanna, though, that’s still not enough. ‘We’d like to see #GirlGains spread across the world, to reach as many women as possible and to be able to have a positive impact on their self-worth, ambition and happiness.’

Having just launched an activewear collection in collaboration with Sports Philosophy as well as preparing to launch her book Strong (set to hit
the shelves in December), it looks as if Zanna is right on track.Inspired? Try Zanna’s workout, which focuses on combining weights to strengthen and tone your legs and butt with HIIT to make you sweat. Just what the doctor ordered.

Goblet squat with pulse

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, core

Technique

Holding a weight at your chest, step your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and point your toes ever so slightly outwards.

Sit back and down into a squat and do a small pulse at the bottom of the movement.

Push up through your heels and squeeze your glutes. Repeat.

10 REPS

How to do it

Perform the allotted reps, back to back. Rest for 60 seconds then repeat for the next set. Do three sets in total. Once all sets are complete, Increase weights in accordance with experience level.

Beauty

Eight reasons to run!

From blitzing fat to boosting defences, it ticks all the boxes

As much as we love hardcore gym sessions, the change of seasons provides the chance to challenge ourselves with a whole array of performance goals. There’s nothing like a workout revamp to help rev up fitness levels, and this spring we’re all about stepping up the intensity of our regular workout with an outdoor running routine. 

Getting out on the road to brush up on your running technique offers a completely different experience to pounding the treadmill at the gym – and we guarantee you’ll soon be bitten by the running bug. Read our guide to find out what could be in it for you. 

1 Feel refreshed

A change of scenery and a varied workout – what’s not to get excited about? There are plenty of things to look forward to when you take your runs from the treadmill to the great outdoors, whether you’re running down winding country lanes or sprinting around the city streets.’ Due to the rhythmic nature of the activity, it’s easy to zone out, switch off from the outside world and let your mind wander. It could even turn out to be your most creative time of the day,’ says Energie Fitness Clubs and Ragdale Hall fitness consultant Dean Hodgkin. Now the mornings are becoming lighter, heading out for a run first thing offers the perfect start to your day. 

2 Better your body

There’s no denying that taking your workout to the pavements is more taxing on your body, but thankfully the payoffs are plentiful. Without the natural momentum of the treadmill your muscles have to work harder, and so you naturally will reap some awesome rewards, like a more toned lower body and a slimmer middle. ‘Running is a great way to achieve below-the-belt toning – creating thighs and buttocks you can bounce coins off,’ adds Dean. 

3 Boost levels of vitamin d

What’s running got to do with immunity? Well, quite a lot actually. Because the body can’t manufacture vitamin D (a nutrient that’s essential for fending off illness) on its own, we require exposure to sunshine to keep levels continuously topped up. If you feel like you’re constantly battling the sniffles you may be low in vitamin D, and thankfully, picking up the pace outside can help to restore levels and reduce your risk of getting sick. If you’re worried you may have a deficiency, consult your GP and ask to have your levels checked. 

4 Burn more calories

Running is an effective and efficient way of burning calories, and as you’re working your body harder when pounding the pavements you’ll experience a higher calorie burn. ‘Even just a comfortable pace of around 6mph will burn around 300 calories in just 30 minutes, so it’s incredibly effective in all kinds of weight-loss programmes,’ says Dean. Not bad!

5 Challenge yourself 

Whether you’re new to the running scene or already a running pro, setting yourself a challenge is a fantastic way to make sure you’re constantly making progress. ‘Most weight-loss and fitness programmes fall on stony ground because clearly defined goals were not put in place. Setting yourself a long-term target of running a half or even full marathon can be the ideal stimulus to keep you on track – and don’t forget how awesome you’ll feel when you cross the finish line,’ says Dean. 

6 Improve joint health 

The transition from the treadmill to the outdoors can be harsh on your joints, but if you take your running workout to softer surfaces like grass or a running track, you can help to safeguard your body while making your legs stronger and keeping your bones healthy. 

‘Osteoporosis is a very real health risk for women and a key preventative measure is to increase bone density by doing more bone-loading exercises – running being one of the most beneficial,’ explains Dean. Just don’t forget to warm up your muscles and cool down following your sessions.

7 De-stress the natural way

Need to take a break from everyday life? When you’re feeling wound up and in desperate need of a breather, simply pick a picturesque trail, grab your heart rate monitor and let your mind shift focus
as you get into your stride. ‘There are great mood-lifting, stress-busting gains to be made from exercising outdoors, as your senses will be far more stimulated compared with a gym environment,’ says Dean. 

8 Slash your risk of disease

Running not only helps to improve your physical appearance and make you feel more energised, it could also lower your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes type 2 by reducing levels of blood glucose after eating. Win, win! 

Health and Wellbeing

Strike a balance with this Inner thigh exercise

Want to boost gym performance? It’s time to balance out your intense workouts with a good old dance-inspired stretch

Blocking out the time to really delve into a stretching session can seem hard to justify if your busy schedule already makes squeezing workouts in difficult.

But if you’ve found yourself hitting a wall when it comes to results, or you’re constantly plagued by niggling injuries, it might just be what the doctor ordered. US-based Lastics has taken inspo from the long, lean and limber bodies of dancers to come up with classes and online videos to help regular gym-goers get the most out of their workouts. ‘Dancers epitomise the balance between strength and flexibility to the extreme,’ says Lastics founder Donna Flagg. ‘Their bodies are graceful, sculpted and powerful.’

Rather than overhauling your entire workout routine to emulate that of a ballerina, Lastics instead allows you to simply take a leaf out of their book, providing stretching-focused classes to help you develop an improved range of motion. This is essential to anyone who’s looking to prevent injuries, boost conditioning and balance out strength training – as well as achieve a slender silhouette. ‘Lastics enhances all other activities, improves posture and circulation and gives you more freedom to move in your body,’ Donna adds. So if you’re intrigued by the slenderness and strength of a dancer but don’t necessarily have any goals to make it as one (bar the occasional tear-up on the dance floor on a Friday night), this is the perfect middle ground.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Lastics, trying out the DVD or even just having a taster of what it might be like, give this workout a go. Donna has devised it especially to supplement WF’s workouts, but it’s a wise and healthy addition to any active woman’s weekly routine. It can even be added to the end of a workout if you don’t want to dedicate an entire session to it.

How to do it

Breathe into the stretch and release when the body starts to resist. Then take a few breaths and release deeper into the stretch on each exhale. Repeat as desired. 

Technique

Sit in a straddle and let your head hang between your legs, rounding your back. Release any tension you may be holding.

After you’ve been hanging there totally relaxed, reach your nose a little closer to the floor. Hold your upper body where it is and press the backs of your knees down into the floor.

Hold your body and knees in place and flex your feet, making sure your knees don’t pop back up.

Finally, hold all of that and lift your chin to flatten your back. Hold for a few seconds.

Weight Loss Tips

Train and gain! with this dumbbell workout

Here’s how strength training can get you a better bikini body...

More and more women are strength training when they hit the gym, but if you’re still not convinced, then you could be missing out on some serious benefits.

Whether you’re using the TRX, doing a kettlebell class or using a pair of dumbbells in your HIIT circuit – you are strength training! It’s not all about weightlifting belts, clouds of chalk and groaning as loud as you can – though, that’s all welcome, too! It is, however, about using weights that truly challenge you, promoting muscle growth that in turn elevates your fat burn. The result is a leaner you, with a higher metabolic rate throughout the day. 

‘It’s estimated that for every half a kilo of lean muscle you gain, your body will burn 35-50 extra calories each day just to maintain it,’ explains John Shepherd, author of new book Strength Training for Women. ‘Regular cardio exercisers may lose weight but end up with a body that lacks tone and holds fat around key “problem” areas, such as the abdomen and hips.’ But those aren’t the only benefits you’ll experience – that’s just the beginning.

‘Resistance training will also boost your hormones,’ explains John. Basically, the more you pick up the weights, the more your levels of growth hormone are elevated. Why is this desirable? Well, along with playing a vital role in shedding fat, growth hormone also helps to slow the effects of ageing, according to John. Who wouldn’t want that? As we age we also experience a higher risk of osteoporosis, and strength training is an effective way of combating this. Not only do weights build muscle but they strengthen your bones, too, which is ideal for overall health as well as preventing injury.

Strength training also challenges your body in all different planes of motion, boosting its ability to master complex moves – especially ones that’ll help you in everyday life. We’re talking lifting, carrying, picking things up – that’s why it’s considered functional fitness. 

Don’t know where to start? John’s book is a great place, but if you want a taster, check out this workout he put together. It’s suitable for all levels, targeting the whole body using compound exercises. ‘These moves work numerous joints,’ explains John, ‘making them more functional and calorie-burning.’ Always use weights that prove difficult in the final reps of each set without compromising form – but if you’re new to weights, start out light and focus on building strength and technique. Everyone should add weights each month to encourage progress.

HOW TO DO IT

Always warm up before and cool down after this workout. Do each of the two workouts once a week, leaving at least 48 hours between each.

Workout 1: Metabolic and hormonal booster

Perform 3 x 10 reps of each move. Take enough recovery to allow for each set to be completed optimally.

Workout 2: Pyramid with body shaping fast-twitch fibre emphasis

Perform 8 reps using a light weight, 6 using a medium weight, then 2 x 4 reps using a heavy weight.

Workout 1

 Rear foot elevated split squat

Areas trained: glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique

  1. Holding dumbbells by each side, stand in front of a bench and place the toes of your rear foot on it. Hop your standing leg forward and place your foot flat on the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. Keeping your trunk upright and looking straight ahead, bend your front leg to lower your body to the ground. Lower until your thigh is approximately  parallel to the ground. 
  3. Push back up strongly and repeat. Perform the allotted reps on one side, and then the other to complete a full set.

Seated shoulder press

Areas trained: shoulders, triceps

Technique

  1. Sit on a bench holding dumbbells in front of your shoulders.
  2. Press the dumbbells up to the ceiling, bringing them close together at the top of the movement.
  3. Lower under control and repeat.

Single-arm kettlebell swing

Areas trained: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, back, shoulders

Technique

  1. Take hold of the kettlebell in one hand with your knuckles facing away from you. Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart. Let the kettlebell hang down at arm-length in front of your body and let it drop down and through your legs.
  2. Move with the fall of the kettlebell and let your bottom move backwards and torso incline forwards with knees soft. As the momentum of the weight begins to stall and go in the other direction, ‘snap’ your hips to impart more momentum onto the kettlebell to drive it up again.
  3. Let the weight fall back down and repeat. Perform the allotted reps on both sides to complete a set.

Plié squat

Areas trained: glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique 

  1. Holding the dumbbells with your knuckles facing away from you in front of your hips, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width and turned out, making sure that your feet and knees are similarly angled.
  2. Bend your legs to plié and then extend them to stand back up and repeat.

 

Workout 2

Clean

Areas trained: back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique

  1. Take hold of a barbell from the floor with your knuckles facing forwards and hands just further than shoulder-width apart. Keep your heels on the floor, arms extended and head up.
  2. Drive up to lift the bar from the floor, keeping your shoulders over it and your knees bent.
  3. As the bar approaches hip-level, drive your hips forwards and now pull on the bar with your arms. As you do this, switch your grip from overhand to underhand and ‘catch’ the bar in a racked position on the front of your shoulders.
  4. Keeping your back flat, control the bar down to the floor, bending your knees and folding forwards, first to your thighs and then to the floor.

Squat

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, back

Technique

  1. Support a barbell across the fleshy rear part of your shoulders (avoiding contact with your top vertebrae). Pull the bar down onto your shoulders to 
  2. fix it in place. Keep your head up and maintain the natural curve of your spine.
  3. Bend your knees to lower the weight as far as your flexibility allows. Keep your knees behind your toes as you go.
  4. Push through your heels to stand up and repeat.

Deadlift

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back

Technique

  • Squat down slightly with your feet under the barbell and take hold of it with both hands.
  • Straighten your legs to start to move the bar upwards, keeping your arms long and the bar close to your shins (don’t pull with your arms).
  • Extend your hips to stand upright with the bar across the front of your thighs.
  • Return to the start and repeat.

Bent-over row

Areas trained: upper back, biceps, lower back, glutes, hamstrings

Technique

  • Keeping a bend in your knees, hinge at your hips so your upper body is almost parallel to the floor, holding a barbell with arms extended towards the floor.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the barbell up towards your hips.
  • Slowly lower and repeat.

Be Slim

5 Easy Prenatal Bodyweight Exercises, for When You Want to Lie on the Couch and Eat Saltines

If you're expecting, then you probably already know pregnancy isn't exactly like the glossy photos you see in magazines or the picture-perfect scenes on TV. Sure, it can be amazing and joyful. But there are also times you're stuck in bed, feel sick to your stomach, or are just plain uncomfortable. During those moments, the last thing on your mind is exercise.

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But hear us out. Studies show moderate exercise during pregnancy can improve sleep; maintain your physical fitness; and reduce your risk of diabetes, excessive weight gain, depression, and an unplanned C-section. Regular exercise also helps prepare your body for labor and can even make it shorter.

If that's not enough, it's good for your babe too. Children of women who exercise during pregnancy have healthier birth weights, are less likely to be obese later on in life, and are smarter to boot.

As long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That's 5 days of 30-minute workouts, or two to three 10-minute workouts spread throughout each day. Of course, always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.

Doctors say it's okay to do most of the same activities you did before pregnancy, but listen to your body. "I couldn't even get off the couch!" says Joselynne Boschen, a Nike master trainer who struggled to stay active during her first trimester. "Everyone is different. You might be able to do one of these workouts one day, but the next day, you need to sleep. And that's OK."

We worked with Boschen to create three different workouts that will help you stay active no matter how you're feeling.

For Days You Feel Like Sh*t

Try not to be hard on yourself. "Stretching to help circulation and relieve unwanted stress is a step in the right direction," says Boschen. "Know these feelings are temporary."

How to use this list: Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. Complete 3 sets for a full 15-minute workout. You can pair this with a 15-minute walk or use these moves as a warm-up for other workouts when you're feeling energetic and strong. All you need is a yoga mat and a wall.

1. Standing Leg Swing

PIN IT
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight onto left leg to free up right leg. Swing right leg forward as high as possible (try to get it about parallel to the ground) and then swing it backward behind you. You can use a nearby wall or chair for support if you need. Continue for 1 minute then switch to opposite leg for 1 minute. This move will open up your hips, and having flexible hips during delivery is obviously a good thing!

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

PIN IT
Start by kneeling then take a big step forward with left foot so that left knee is directly over left ankle and you feel a stretch in right hip. Raise right arm and squeeze right glute to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on opposite side. This will help take the pressure off your lower back, especially if you typically sit for long periods (like at work or in the car).

3. Child's Pose

PIN IT
Start by kneeling on all fours. Touch toes together and open knees just wider than hips (enough room to fit your belly). Exhale then sit back, sending butt to heels and stretching arms out in front of you, palms down. Rest forehead to mat and release shoulders to floor. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute to feel a release in lower back. To come up, inhale and slowly return to all fours for a few seconds before standing up.

4. Legs up the Wall

PIN IT
*Only perform this move during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, experts suggest staying off your back due to the weight of your uterus. If it isn't comfortable during the first trimester, don't do it.

Lie on back facing a wall. Lift legs up onto wall and scoot forward until butt is as close to the wall as is comfortable. Keep arms at side or spread out, whatever feels right. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and lightness in your legs. Hang out here for anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. By reversing the effects of gravity, you'll relieve tired feet and legs, reduce swelling, and regulate circulation.

5. Hip Stretch

PIN IT
*Only perform this move on your back during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, you can do it standing, using a wall or chair for balance. If neither option feels comfortable, simply use a foam roller to relieve hips, glutes, and legs.

Start by lying faceup with knees bent and feet flat on mat. Cross left ankle over right thigh just above bent knee, keeping left foot flexed. Thread left arm through space created by legs and interlace fingers behind right thigh. Using arms, gently pull right leg closer to chest while keeping hips square. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute then repeat on opposite leg.


PIN IT
For Days You Lack Energy

If you feel like you're dragging, there's a good reason: Your body is working overtime. But a little bit of movement can reenergize you. "Listen to your body and focus on doing things that make you feel good," Boschen says.

How to use this list: Do a short warm-up. Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. If it is a single-sided movement, do 1 minute on each side. Rest for 1 minute between each set. Complete 3 sets for a 25-minute workout. All you need is an exercise mat. Be sure to cool down afterward and remember that your blood pressure drops during pregnancy, so be careful getting up and down while working out.

1. Squat


Start by standing with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping back straight, send hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat while simultaneously bringing arms up in front of chest for balance. Make sure shoulders and chest stay upright. Lift back to standing and repeat for 1 minute. For more details on how to properly squat, check out this article.

2. Dip With Leg Reach


Sit with knees bent, feet on floor. Lean back, place hands behind butt, and lift hips off ground. Wrists should be over shoulders, knees over ankles, fingertips facing butt. Using just arms, bend elbows to dip hips down to mat. As you press back up to starting position, extend right leg straight up while reaching left fingers to right toes. Return to starting position then repeat with other leg. Continue for 1 minute.

3. Windshield Wipers

PIN IT
Start in a forearm plank with feet hip-width apart. Engage core then step right foot to just outside of right side of mat. Step left foot to meet it. Then step left foot to just outside left side of mat. Step right foot to meet it. Continue alternating for 1 minute.

4. Hip Bridge With Stretch


Lie faceup with knees bent, feet on mat, arms at sides. Cross right ankle over left knee. Exhale as you press heels into floor to lift hips up. Lift just high enough that you don't arch your low back. Inhale as you lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 1 minute then switch to other leg.

5. Side Push-Up


Performing a push-up on your side (rather than in plank position) is more comfortable for your back and belly. Start by lying on right side, left leg bent in a 90-degree angle, right leg resting on top. Place right hand on left side to keep that arm out of the way. Place left hand on mat in front of you between right shoulder and elbow. Engage core and press left hand into mat to lift shoulders and torso off mat. Slowly lower back down to starting position. Continue for 1 minute then repeat on opposite side.

Running

30 Convincing Reasons to Start Running Now

What promises a healthier body, a sunnier outlook, and the perfect opportunity to catch up? This is no infomercial. Running is one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. Still not convinced? Here are 30 reasons to hit the ground running.


PIN IT
1. Do it anywhere.
Run, that is. Whether on the treadmill or in the park, it’s easy to rack up miles. Even better: Lace up your sneakers on your next vacation to explore a new place.

2. Make new friends.
Tired of meeting duds at the bar? Check out local running groups or websites like Meetup and hit the road with other health-minded folks. Twenty questions is just as good during a run (boozy brunches afterward are optional).

3. Save some cash.
Forget fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership. When it comes to running, all you need is the right footwear.

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4. Visit the doctor less.
Apples aren't the only things that keep the doctor away. Active people are less likely to develop colon cancer. And ladies, women who regularly engage in intense workouts like running can reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 30 percent.

5. Eat more carbs.
Here's an excuse to slurp up more spaghetti: During intense training (like preparing for a race), increasing carb intake can help your performance and boost your mood during harder runs. 

6. Keep it interesting.
Forget boring laps around a track. Interval training helps boost metabolism and rev cardiovascular fitness. Bonus: Research shows people who do intervals have more fun while running (really!) and might be more likely to keep it up. 

7. Live longer.
Not only do runners have fewer disabilities and remain active longer than their sedentary counterparts, but they actually live longer too. And even as weekly running times decrease with age, the healthy benefits keep on ticking. 

8. Get primal.
Turns out Bruce Springsteen was right: We were born to run. Running turned us from apes to humans and was used by our ancestors to elude prey.

9. Feel the burn.
For a 160-pound person, running can burn more than 850 calories an hour.


PIN IT
10. Bring sexy back.
Not only does having a rockin’ runner’s bod boost confidence in bed, but regular exercise can also help flexibility between the sheets—and get you in the mood more often.

11. Boost memory.
Exercise has been shown to help keep the mind sharp. Hitting the track might also reduce symptoms of dementia and protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, even for those with a family history of it.

12. See the sunny side.
Active folks see the glass as half full, even after they're done sweating. 

13. Get a natural glow.
Believe it or not, working up a sweat can rid your pores of the gunk that clogs them and leads to breakouts.  A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping things fresh and healthy. (Just remember to remove makeup preworkout and wash gently afterward to avoid breakouts.)

14. Improve self-esteem.
Need another excuse to go green? Runners who ran outside and snagged a good view of nature showed increased self-esteem post-workout than those who had only unpleasant scenes to gaze at. Ahem, dreadmill.

15. Stay steady.
Older runners keep their balance better than nonrunners, protecting their knees and tendons in the process. Be careful not to overdo it, though: Too much exercise can lead to stress injuries and bone loss.

16. Turn down the pressure.
Running is a natural way to keep high blood pressure at bay—and fast. Amping up workouts can help lower blood pressure in just a few weeks. 

17. Build stronger bones.
Resistance training is awesome, but word on the street is running might help produce even stronger bones than cranking out reps. Running helps build the muscle that lower-impact workouts ignore, keeping bones healthier even as they age.

18. Get an energy boost.
Feeling sluggish? Try going for a jog instead of lounging on the couch. Just one run can increase energy and decrease fatigue. 

19. Take your furry friends.
Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason, and they can be man’s best workout buddy too. Grab a leash and give your pet a new kind of treat.


PIN IT
20. Strengthen that core.
A strong core improves posture, strengthens limbs, and helps make everyday activities a breeze. And whether you feel it or not, running engages your midsection, strengthening those all-important muscles. Bonus: A solid core can improve performance. 

21. Sleep better.
Runners tend to adapt to set sleeping routines in order to keep performance high. Even better: Running encourages higher quality sleep, which translates into better zzzs all night long. 

22. Do it year-round.
You can rack up the miles no matter what the weatherman says (just dress appropriately!). Temperatures still not just right? Jazz up the ol’ treadmill run to get the same health benefits indoors.

23. Jam out to speed up.
Pop in headphones when running to increase speed and get a little energy boost. We won’t even judge your playlist.

24. Check off those goals
Studies suggest people who set and meet (or exceed) long-term fitness goals (like signing up for a half-marathon!) are more committed and satisfied with their exercise routines than those who trudge along aimlessly.  Who doesn’t feel good about crossing items off their bucket list?

25. Show your heart some loving.
People who run for just an hour a week can reduce their risk of heart disease by almost half compared to nonrunners.  And for those already hitting the recommended physical activity guidelines (that's 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), an extra spurt of exercise can lower your risk of heart disease even more. (Just be mindful not to overdo it and cause more damage than good.)

26. Run stress away.
Ready to pull your hair out? Instead of tuning in to a brainless reality TV marathon, try running an actual marathon. Not only does running boost the brain’s serotonin levels, regular exercise might actually remodel the brain, making it calmer and more stress resistant. 

27. Be one with nature.
Want to feel the grass tickle your toes? Try minimalist sneakers or nothing at all. Just be sure to ease into this type of running to avoid injuries.

28. Increase stamina.
Running regularly will improve stamina, making workouts more enjoyable and productive. And let’s not forget that lasting longer isn’t restricted to the track—it’s useful in, uh, other areas as well.

29. Get there faster.
Instead of a leisurely evening stroll, try a jog around the neighborhood instead. It’ll burn more calories in the same amount of time.

30. Sound like a pro.
Get in the know with our list of running lingo. Ready, set, run!

Weight Loss Tips

Eat to control cravings and boost energy

  • Eat breakfast. Get your metabolism going in the morning by eating a healthy breakfast. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. A solid breakfast provides energy for the day.
  • Eat regularly. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Support your body’s natural cycle of energy by eating a substantial breakfast, a nutritious lunch, a snack around 2 pm (to compensate for the body’s natural low point that occurs around 3 each afternoon), and a light early dinner.
  • Cut the junk. The ups and downs that come with eating sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates cause extreme swings in energy level and mood. Cutting out these foods can be tough, but if you can resist for several days, your cravings will subside.
  • Focus on complex carbohydrates. Foods such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and bananas boost your “feel-good” serotonin levels without a crash. They also provide plenty of fiber, so you feel full much longer.
  • Boost energy with quality protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but it’s important to vary your diet with fish, chicken and turkey, dairy, and plant-based protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and non-GMO soy products. If you eat red meat, opt for organic, grass-fed rather than processed meats, such as hotdogs, bacon, and salami, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Healthy Eating Tips

Nutrition for women of all ages

  • Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet that emphasize fruits and vegetables, seafood, and healthy fats can help control your weight and reduce your risk for certain diseases. Carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, melons, and peppers, may even reduce your risk for breast cancer. Add leafy green vegetables and a variety of whole grains, beans, and other legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find organic, minimally processed, or locally grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.
  • Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. Dairy products are high in calcium and recent evidence suggests that consuming whole-fat dairy can also have beneficial effects on weight control. Consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens as well.
  • Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis and postmenopausal breast cancer. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Both alcohol and caffeine can also worsen PMS and menopause symptoms and adversely affect fertility. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.
  • Cut down on sugar. Sugars that are not found naturally in foods contribute zero nutrients but lots of calories to your diet. Naturally occurring sugars are found in products containing milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose), while added sugars can be found in the most unexpected foods, often hidden in the ingredients list as agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup, and more.

Health and Wellbeing

What's your financial faux pas?

Get your cashflow back on track in next to no time with our top money-saving tips

Let’s face it – we all want to make life that little bit more affordable. So whether you’re saving to buy a house, have a little one on the way or simply want to boost your pension pot, there’s no better time to start thinking about safeguarding your finances. 

‘People often push finances to the back of their mind, thinking ‘‘I’ll deal with it when I get there’’, says Anita Naik, consumer editor forvouchercodes.co.uk. ‘And then find they can’t get a mortgage, or get married in the way they want, all because they didn’t start saving when they had the opportunity,’ 

Wanting security for the future is one thing, but most of us are guilty of everyday cashflow slip-ups that can have a long-term effect on financial stability. With new research showing that one in seven of us take on an extra job just to keep our heads above water, we’ve put together the most common money mistakes and asked the experts to come up with simple fixes. Break bad habits and beat financial pitfalls with these cash-savvy solutions.

You can’t stick to a budget

Solution: Budgeting may be boring, but if you want to build any sort of financial freedom it’s the first place to start. Begin by keeping a record of your daily expenditure and you’re sure to make some big savings as a result. ‘Carry a notebook or log it into your smartphone. This enables you to see what you’re spending your money on, work out what you have left to spend each day/week and identify your spending triggers (Lunchtime? Online at night? At weekends?),’ recommends Anita. 

It’s important to get realistic about your regular pay-outs, too. ‘You’ll be surprised at how many payments you hadn’t accounted for when figuring out how much you have left in your monthly wage,’ continues Anita. After figuring out your monthly outgoings you’ll be in the perfect place to start making tweaks for the better. ‘You will need to review your plan and be flexible while you get used to what works for you. Too strict a budget is no good as it just means failure; likewise, too big a budget is useless if it doesn’t suit its purpose.’

You don’t plan ahead

Solution: Spring often signals a fresh start, so there’s no better time to re-evaluate your bank balance. The good news is that there are many ways to foolproof your finances for the future and making sure your credit score is good is essential. Your credit rating has a massive impact on what you can do financially – from taking out loans to getting on the property ladder. Build up your score by making sure you’re on the electoral roll, space out applications for credit cards and keep up to date with monthly bill payments. Want to make sure you don’t go into the red? ‘Another way is to keep a spending diary,’ says Anita. ‘It sounds dull but there are apps that will do this for you, like Spendometer (free from iTunes). This app makes day-to-day money management simple. It enables you to set yourself a budget, log all your spending and review your spending reports,’ she adds.

You’re a secret spender

Solution: One in 10 people admit money matters have been the cause of a relationship break-up, while a surprising 15 per cent of us confess to lying to our partners about our credit card purchases, according to a study by comparison site moneysupermarket.com. Consider yourself a financial fibber? Splurging on stuff you don’t need and then hiding it from your other half breaks the trust in your relationship, so ask yourself, is any designer handbag really worth that? Sacrifice a couple of guilty pleasures and not only will your bank balance flourish, your relationship will, too. And be aware that secret spending can be a sign of something deeper. ‘Either you have a treat mentality, where you feel you “deserve” something for X, Y and Z in your life, or you spend to feel better emotionally,’ says Anita. ‘Aside from the guilt you feel and the impact of getting found out, if you do end up accumulating secret debt your spending habit could have a serious impact on your partner financially. If your spending is secretly racking up debt, or you are not even using what you buy, then it’s a sign you need to seek advice and help for your habit,’ she advises.

You’re not money savvy

Solution: Get smart! We all want to live a nice lifestyle, but cut a few corners and you can save a huge amount of dough. Thinking of signing up as a member at your local gym? Tread carefully! Before committing to an annual gym membership, use trial vouchers to help make your decision. Think realistically about the facilities on offer and which ones you’ll actually use. Access to things like a swimming pool and fancy sauna and steam room will substantially drive up the monthly cost, so make sure you don’t pay above the odds for facilities you can do without. Pay-as-you-go gyms are a great alternative to annual memberships. Although the facilities are often basic, these gyms are great if you’re on a budget as you don’t have to commit to an annual upfront fee. Want a whole new spring wardrobe? Swap the high street for vintage second-hand stores and trawl car boot sales to get bargains that don’t cost the earth. Debating going for the chop? Forking out for a haircut can be hefty on your wallet, so do your research and take advantage of training days at high-end salons where you can get a new ’do by a trainee stylist at the snip of the usual price.

You’re super-disorganised

Solution: Whether you’re late paying your credit card bill or don’t bother doing your research when it comes to insurance policies, being lazy will cost you big time. Avoid enormous annual premiums by shopping around for quotes on the best policies and sidestep high interest rates by setting monthly reminders on your phone to alert you when bills are due. Another way to streamline your bank balance is to ditch the credit card and shell out cash instead – that way you know exactly what you’re spending. ‘Paying by card doesn’t have the same psychological impact as literally handing over money,’ explains Anita. ‘Dealing in cash gives you a much clearer idea of how much you’re going through daily. Take £20 out for the day and it’s likely you’ll be shocked at how much is left by 6pm. If you know you need flexibility to spend more on some days than others, set a weekly budget and get out cash to that amount,’ she suggests.

News's

Get empowered at Lorna Jane's live panel event

Active-living brand Lorna Jane is putting on a live panel event this month to talk about wellbeing, success and fitness.

The Empowering Women live panel discussions have been organised by leading Australian active-living brand Lorna Jane together with wellbeing campaigner Lizzie Horgan, who was diagnosed with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 25 years old. Since her diagnosis, Lizzie has worked with many organisations to raise greater awareness of her condition and to help others who are also suffering to live more sustainable lives.

The panel discussion, led by wellbeing and yoga expert Robyn Silverton, will focus on four main topics:

1. The 'Third Metric' - a concept introducted by Arianna Huffington, which redefines the meaning of     success from acquiring money and power to prioritising your wellbeing

2. Healthy striving - how loving yourself and reframing your thoughts can lead to a happier life

3. Wellness and fitness revolution and what this means for women in particular

4. How to step out of your comfort zones, overcome your insecurities and follow your dreams

Panelists at the Empowering Women discussions will include Robyn Silverton; health, fitness and luxury lifestyle journalist, Poppy Cross; Senior Lifestyle Editor at the Huffington Post, Brogan Driscoll; Editor-in-Chief of Well To Do, Lauren Armes and Founder of Ethos, Jessica Kruger.

After the event, healthy refreshments will be provided for attendees and you'll also have the amazing chance to speak personally to each of the panellists. If you're looking for sound advice on any of these topics, it sounds like the perfect way to spend the morning.

The event will take place at Lorna Jane's brand new UK flagship store in Covent Garden, within its bespoke 'Active Lounge'.

Lorna Jane will be donating 100% of ticket sales to AYME, the charity that supports people who suffer from ME, like Lizzie.

The Empowering Women event will take place on the 17th March from 9.30am - approx. 11.30am.

To purchase tickets, please click here.

@lornajaneuk

#lornajane #liveactive #movenourishbelieve #lornajaneuk 

Sports Nutrition

Olympic hopeful Jade Jones talks health and fitness with WF

Jade Jones is one of GB's biggest hopefuls to medal at the London 2012 Games in her sport taekwondo. We catch up with her and talk health, fitness and pigging out!

19-year-old taekwondo sensation Jade Jones has had an amazing Junior career winning silver at the World Junior Champions in early 2010 followed by a bronze at the Youth Olympics qualification, only to go on and win Gold at the Youth Olympics final in Singapore, a feat that quite rightly earned her the title of BBC Wales Young Sports Personality of the Year.

 

Then in 2011, making her move into the senior ranks, she claimed gold at the US Open beating some well-known and respected martial artists along the way and then proceeded to collect a whole string of medals at the German Open, World Championships, French and British Open. Now looking on to 2012 Jade is being tipped as one of Britain’s best medal hopefuls at the London 2012 Olympics. Read on to find out what it was that got Jade into the sport, what she likes to do on a day off from her gruelling training regime and more.

 

How did you get into taekwondo?
I was actually about 8 years old when I first got into taekwondo and I was introduced to it by my grandad as a way of keeping me off the streets. I then just really enjoyed it so carried it on but had no idea I would be competing in the Olympics one day. It was only when I was about 15 that I actually realised that I wanted to do it as a career and try to take it as far as I could, which is basically gold at the Olympics.

 

Is that when you realised you were good at it?
Well my coach said I was a natural straight away since I was always flexible and quick and therefore able to land head shots that will now be worth 3 points at the Olympics. But then being selected to come to the GB training camp in Manchester at 17 was a sign that I was good enough for the Olympics and winning the Youth Olympic gold medal in 2010 was I suppose when I arrived on the international circuit properly.

 

What else do you do to stay in shape for taekwondo?
Well I train 4 to 5 hours a day, a few in the morning then 2 in the afternoon, and we lots of different types of training, obviously the kicking and fighting side but also weights, plyometrics, conditioning, cardio, and agility. Neil (Parsley, strength and conditioning coach at GB Taekwondo) will also have us do strength and endurance tests throughout the year to monitor how well we’re doing. They can range from running tests to press ups to planks but it’s all designed to give us a good mark of where we are throughout the year.

 

Do you enjoy any other sports or martial arts?
Yeh I love all sports and really love watching them, but unfortunately with my schedule I don’t really get a chance to play any other sports. Even when I do have some free time I’m so tired from training I usually just chill out with friends, watch some movies or if I have the energy maybe shop, I love to go shopping!

 

Why do you think more women should try taekwondo?
I do think it’s really important to be taught so you can defend yourself but also it’s a more fun way to keep fit than say running or cycling which some people can find gets a bit boring at times.

 

What do you like to do on a day off from training?
Anything that’s not too exhausting since I’m usually so tired from training. So I go to the cinema a lot or just catch up with friends and hang out.

 

What’s your favourite junk food?
I’m really bad and have such a sweet tooth, so when I pig out I’ll have so much ice cream, chocolate and sweets. Luckily though my nutritionist at GB Taekwondo does let me have the chocolate protein bars from Myprotein.com after training and they taste sooooo good, so I don’t feel as bad eating them.

 

Who do you look up to sporting-wise?

My sporting hero is my coach Paul Green, who most people won't know of but he is a true inspiration to me. He was an amazing fighter and had the potential to easy get gold at the Olympics, but he ruptured his groin beforehand and couldn’t fight properly. He’s also an amazing coach!

 

Jade Jones is fuelled by Myprotein.com, the UK’s number one online sports nutrition brand and supplier to many of Britain’s Olympians such as World 400m Champion Dai Greene, World 100m backstroke World Record Holder Gemma Spofforth and 11-time Paralympic gold medallist David Roberts.

Running

How to be a better Runner

Think you've got the hang of running? Run farther and faster with tips from our experts

Here’s something you already know: running is a simple sport. In the early stages, there’s little more to it than putting on a pair of trainers and running for as long as your legs will carry you. But at some point you’ll want to get faster, run farther and feel fitter. Regular runners ask our panel of running coaches and performance experts to spill the beans on how to go up a gear.

What sort of exercise should I do between training programs?

George Anderson, running coach at runningbygeorge.com says:

‘If you’ve just completed a focal race and have a few weeks before your next training programme starts, you’ve got a great opportunity to plug some of the gaps in your fitness. If you’re lacking speed, do shorter, faster sessions because these will make a big difference to your pace. If a lack of strength is your problem, hit the hills and work on conditioning your body for tougher terrain. If you lose posture and form towards the end of a run work on core strength in the gym and do running drills to improve your technique.

How do I forefoot run? I’ve read that elite runners do it and it’s better for avoiding injury.

Dr Mick Wilkinson, sport, exercise and rehabilitation scientist, says:

‘You don’t. Elite runners tend to forefoot strike because they’re running so fast and adopt the landing pattern to deal with the forces resulting from their speed. Barefoot runners also tend to adopt a forefoot or midfoot strike when running on a hard surface, as it allows a gentle absorption of their body weight and is therefore more comfortable than running with a heel-strike pattern. However, get a barefoot runner to train at a moderate pace on a softer surface and they often heel strike. As you run your brain will select the most appropriate footfall for the surface and speed you’re training on.’

I want to improve my running ability. How far should I run each week?

Mike Trees, elite running coach and Newton Running advisor, says:

‘I would recommend 30-50 miles per week for non-elite runners but it depends on your age and your sports background. What we need to do in our teens is different from what we need to do in our 40s or 50s. If you’re an ex-swimmer who has trained in the pool at a high level for over 10 years, I wouldn’t recommend you do much long, slow running because your aerobic system will already be highly developed. I would, however, advocate hill training and running drills to build up the necessary running muscles.

Should I lift weights to improve my running?

Dr Mick Wilkinson, sport, exercise and rehabilitation scientist, says:

‘This largely depends on your current running skill and experience. If you’re a beginner or fair-weather runner, first learn how to control your own body weight when doing running-specific drills (such as high-knees) before adding any additional load.

‘Many experienced runners don’t have the skill or single-leg strength to control the force of steady running. My advice is to work on plyometric bodyweight work by perfecting basic alternate-leg skipping with a rhythm of around 180 skips per minute. When you can do this, progress to single-leg jumps and don’t even consider adding additional load with weights. Very few traditional weight-lifting exercises have any relevance to running and offer minimal benefits.’

When and what should I eat before racing?

Mike Trees, elite running coach, says:

‘I’ve noticed that older athletes need longer to digest food before racing or hard interval running. So, I suggest that veteran runners leave at least four hours between eating and running. Comparatively, some teenagers can eat up to two hours before racing. The trick is to experiment in training and less important races to find your optimum time.

‘I always suggest eating simple sugars on race day to ensure that your bowels are not full of fat and fibre. For me, a bowl of cornflakes eaten six hours before I run, or toast and jam, is sufficient. Whatever food you choose, all you usually need to eat on race day is 600 calories because your body will struggle to digest more. But it’s important to eat the right things the day before a race. Ensure you consume carbohydrate foods and any other important nutrition the day before.’

Fitness Equipment

Beat your boyfriend in the gym

Play to your strengths and you'll leave him standing.

Okay, so he may have the monopoly on muscles but there are plenty of areas where women have a natural advantage over the opposite sex in the gym. ‘There are obvious skeletal, muscular and hormonal differences between the sexes,’ says Sam Johnson, a clinical associate professor in the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences. ‘However, many of these differences leave women with a physical advantage.’ Play to your strengths and you can push your fitness to new levels – and leave your man gasping for breath.   

You recover from workouts quicker

A Ball State university study showed that men needed at least 48 hours of recovery time to achieve the same fitness levels as in previous workouts. This compares to only four hours needed for a woman to recover after training and get back to full strength. This quicker turnaround time means that you’ll be able to burn more fat, says Tom Crisp, consultant sports physician at the Bupa Barbican Centre, London. ‘If you typically ride the stationary bike for 40 minutes in the morning, halve it to 20 minutes and repeat the workout at lunch.’ This results in your body working doubly hard to replenish its oxygen stores. ‘And it burns more calories doing so,’ adds Crisp. 

You’re a natural at circuits        

Performing exercises in quick succession with little or no rest in between is an excellent way to build aerobic capacity and muscle endurance,’ says personal trainer Sohee Lee. ‘And it will burn fat.’

So, it’s good news that a Southeastern Louisiana University study found that women are more physiologically suited to this kind of training, and find it less strenuous than men. In the study, men came off worse in every category - oxygen consumption, systolic blood pressure, perceived effort and recovery oxygen consumption.

‘Perform supersets, training opposite muscle groups, so that one rests while the other works,’ says Lee. ‘Circuit training will also raise your metabolic rate for hours afterwards, so you’re still burning calories long after you’ve left the gym.’     

You’ll out run him on the treadmill

’Men and women differ in how they transmit the nerve impulses that control muscle force; a woman’s impulses are akin to an athlete trained for endurance,’ reveals Johnson. ‘This means that women adapt much quicker to longer runs, whereas men are more suited to explosive muscle usage, like a sprinter.’ And adding distance to your run strengthens your heart and improves running economy - you'll use less oxygen to achieve maximum speed and endurance. 

‘Safely increase your run time by up to 15 minutes each week,’ says Crisp. ‘Every fourth week, cut the length by 25 to 50 per cent to avoid overtraining, and then start increasing again the following week.’    

Your muscle definition is better 

Women’s testosterone levels are nothing like a man’s, but while this puts you at a disadvantage in the body-building stakes, it means you have the edge when it comes to looking toned and lean. Scientists from Drew Medical College in Los Angeles have shown that muscle growth depends on blood levels of testosterone. The higher the level of the hormone, the more muscles grow. So women don’t gain much muscle mass when they train with weights. Instead, their nervous system concentrates on existing muscle, which makes for a firmer, leaner and fitter-looking physique, especially if you’re striving for a flat, toned tummy. ‘Do your ab crunches at a fast speed to optimise this advantage,’ advises Lee. ‘The faster you do them, the more you’ll overload the abdominal muscle. Just don’t do it so fast that you can’t maintain good technique.’ 

Your metabolism is faster.
Don’t sweat the meathead grunting and groaning under the weight stack – lifting lighter loads are best for raising metabolic rate. A University of Southern Maine study found that metabolism was fired up more when performing a single set to exhaustion using a lighter load, ranging from 37 to 56 percent of maximum load, compared to an exhaustive set using 70 to 90 percent of maximum load. Optimise this advantage with the dead lift. ‘It’s a terrific exercise for building whole body strength as it stresses the hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors and upper back muscles and you can do it with a light weight, or just the bar bell itself,’ says Lee.  

Workout Routines

Give back and get fit

Think you don’t have time to help others? Think again, discover how to be fit while doing good

Have you ever considered doing something positive for others but reasoned that, what with work, family, friends and the gym, you just couldn’t cram a little altruism into your life? If so, it’s time to reconsider, because social initiatives that cleverly combine volunteering opportunities with exercise are coming to a city near you. Hail the expansion of GoodGym, a not-for-profit organisation that encourages participants to merge their fitness routines with social care, by connecting people with physical tasks that benefit their community. 

Think running in a pack to work on a community project, doing one-off missions to help vulnerable people or committing to visiting an isolated older person. GoodGym is the brainchild of Ivo Gormley, a keen runner with a yearning to make it simple for people to engage with socially productive exercise. ‘I was frustrated with the idea of gyms – all these people working furiously on these machines that don’t do anything. It seemed like a massive waste of energy. I wanted to find a way to make it easy for people to do exercise that is actually useful.’ 

What started as a gentle weekly trot to drop in on a housebound family friend (Ivo used to combine weekly runs with a visit to an elderly friend) has dramatically expanded and now covers six areas of the UK, including four London boroughs plus Bristol and Liverpool. Within a few years, GoodGym hopes to operate in every major city in the UK before expanding globally.

How it works

The idea is simple; you register for your local group atgoodgym.org then either opt to run as part of a group or on your own. If you run as part of a group, it gives you the chance to work alongside others to do something beneficial for your local area, such as tidying up a communal garden or painting a children’s centre. If you prefer to volunteer alone, then you can choose to be sent on a ‘mission’ to do a one-off job for a vulnerable person, such as changing light bulbs or delivering something. Or if you want to make a regular commitment, you can volunteer to be paired with an older person who becomes your ‘running coach’ during weekly visits.

In each of the three set-ups, everyone wins – both the doer and the receiver. But it’s the pairing of a mobile younger person and older coach that is particularly mutually beneficial, as Ivo explains.‘For the older people, having a visitor is a massive deal. One hundred per cent of the older people we visit regularly consider their runner a friend and most of the older people really feel they are making a contribution to their runner’s fitness, too.’ Runner Harriet, 40, agrees, ‘Aside from being great motivation to leave the house when it’s wet or cold, visiting my coach, Michael, gives me a break in my run, which works well for my half-marathon training as I speed the 2.5 miles there, then warm down on the way home.’

Whichever volunteering option you choose, knowing you’re genuinely making a difference is key. ‘For some members, GoodGym has been their way into regular exercise when they haven’t really seen the point before because knowing that you’re needed and you’re not just doing it for you is a great motivator,’ explains Ivo. ‘It’s about feeling useful and being a part of where you live.’ 

Volunteering with benefits

It also helps that it’s a great way to stay fit. Although detractors might argue that running relatively short distances (group runs vary from 3 to 10K) won’t make a difference to your fitness levels or running ability, Ivo begs to differ. ‘We have the most brilliant personal trainers co-ordinating each local GoodGym, so you’ll get fantastic support from some extremely well-qualified people, as well as from other runners if you opt to run in a group.’ Some GoodGym members have run their first marathons and half-marathons since signing up.

And it won’t just be your running that improves. Tasks assigned to group runners have included shifting two tonnes of earth in 45 minutes, removing weeds from parkland and moving 170 heavy archive boxes down several flights of stairs: feats that involve power, endurance and agility. As GoodGym member Sally points out, ‘Since joining GoodGym, my overall fitness, muscle tone and strength have improved, as has my appreciation of how much people can achieve when they work together.’

But surely the inconsistency of each week’s run and allotted task means that you might not train as effectively as you would in the gym? ‘That’s where the local co-ordinators come into their own,’ says Ivo. ‘On the way back from every task, they take the group through a variety of exercises that ensure everyone has had a good workout,’ says Ivo. So expect fartlek or progressive running on your route home. ‘I’m confident GoodGym will help you achieve your goals through doing good, plus you’ll meet great people and see things in your area.’ Being active in your community has taken on a whole new meaning!

5 ways to help others and get fit 

Volunteer with CSV 

Get stronger while learning new skills by giving up your time for a conservation or environmental project in the UK. Options include helping to preserve parks and open spaces, building adventure playgrounds and restoring heritage buildings. To find out more about volunteering opportunities and how you can make a difference, visitcsv.org.uk.  

Head outdoors anddo good with British Military Fitness

Join a BMF outdoor class and, as well as getting your body in shape, you can get involved in events to raise funds for local charities or enhance the open spaces in which you train. Find out more atbritmilfit.com.

Run for a sum

Boost your cardio fitness, not to mention speed and stamina, by running a sponsored race. From Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life to Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Race for the Kids there’s a running challenge out there to suit you. Training will get you fitter, while the money you raise will go to help your chosen cause. To find an event visit runforcharity.com.

Get gardening

For an outdoor challenge with a difference, sign up to your local Green Gym. Participants meet outdoors and do a short warm-up before getting stuck into practical tasks such as weeding, planting and building walls – work that improves strength, stamina and confidence. Find out more at tcv.org.uk/greengym

Travel abroad

Want to go abroad to do your bit and get fit? Choose from sponsored treks in the Himalayas, cycling challenges in India, a walking holiday in Italy’s Amalfi Coast, or even a trip to Costa Rica to work on community projects. For trips that will open your mind and test your endurance, strength and cardio fitness, check outresponsibletravel.com

Workout Routines

Calf exercises for women

When it comes to toning your legs, your calves deserve the same amount of attention as your thighs. Having strong and toned calf muscles makes your legs look amazing in high heels, and provide your body with a great foundation, helping boost your training and exercise performance. What's not to like?

Running

Keep on running!

Do you love running? Are you the queen of the 5K and maybe even the 10K too?

After all, if you can run 5K or 10K successfully, what’s to say you can’t tackle a longer distance with the right training? And with

so many exciting races on the running calendar this year, there’s a lot for runners to look forward to, whatever your level. 

‘Obstacle races are continuing to grow in popularity. They are appealing to a new audience as well as seasoned runners, because of their stop-start nature, and focus on fun and teamwork. Ultras are also popular, as more marathon runners are realising that going “beyond” may well be possible,’ says running coach George Anderson (runningbygeorge.com). 

But you have to be mentally prepared for the distance, too. So we’ve put together our solutions to common distance running issues to get you in the zone.

Problem 1: Boredom 

Training can be tough, but the right music will psyche you up for your run, giving you the motivation you need to slip on your trainers and head out the door. ‘Running the same route every time can get a bit tedious. If you get bored when you’re on a long run, plug yourself into an upbeat playlist, run with a friend, or just pick a brand new route each time,’ suggests George. 

Problem 2: Lack of motivation

Variety is the spice of life, so if you’re running the same training course or wearing the same gear each session no wonder you’re not excited to run! Regularly varying your routes for a change of scenery and splashing out on new gear will inspire you to get outside. ‘Having your “why” firmly at the front of your mind when you are training for a particular event can also keep your motivation high. In between races, try running without a watch. “Freedom Runs” are a great way to reconnect with your running and remind you of the reason you fell in love with the sport in the first place,’ says George. 

Problem 3: Injury niggles

From shin splints to knee pain, injuries are often part and parcel of a runner’s life, but strengthening your weak spots can work as an effective preventative measure. ‘Injuries are the bane of the runner’s life. Avoid unnecessary niggles by investing in a regular strength and conditioning routine. Single leg squats, spine mobilisers and hip bridges will all help bulletproof your body,’ George says. 

Problem 4: Bad weather

While in Britain we’re all used to wind, rain and sun, the unpredictable weather can be a massive hurdle for runners. When the weather isn’t playing ball it can be tempting to skip a training session, but keeping your end goal in mind will help you to maintain focus. ‘A bit of wet and cold shouldn’t mean a cancelled session, but if the weather isn’t up to scratch, take your workout indoors. While treadmills aren’t the best way to train for a race, they can be extremely handy when you can’t get out onto the roads because of miserable weather conditions,’ says George. 

Problem 5: Too tired

Training is tiring. Fact. And when your body can’t handle another training session you’re at a higher risk of injury. If you haven’t slept, feel light-headed or weak, it’s your brain’s way of communicating that your body is not up for it that day. But don’t beat yourself up – just remember that allowing your body adequate rest will improve your overall performance in the long run. 

Problem 6: No time

It’s not always easy to fit in those all-important sessions. Put exercise high on your priority list and block out time in your diary at the beginning of the week so you schedule other events around your training. And don’t worry if you don’t have time to run every day. ‘Training for a 10K, half or full marathon immediately conjures up ideas of long hours spent trudging the roads several times a week. This can be enough to put some runners off before they even start, but if you focus on quality rather than quantity, including just three runs a week, you will still get great results. This makes it a much more practical programme, and reduces the chances of over-training and injuries,’ says George. 

Problem 7: Performance plateau

Can’t seem to go that extra mile or shave those vital seconds off your current PB? Consistency and commitment is the key to powering up your performance. And making sure you continually push yourself hard will help you take your running game to the next level. ‘Training your body through threshold workouts can be really effective,’ says George. ‘Holding your pace at a point where the intensity becomes “comfortably uncomfortable” for increasingly longer periods of time through a programme can have an incredible impact on your fitness. Your body becomes better adapted to dealing with lactic acid, making faster running feel easier,’ George adds. 

Celebrity Workouts

Kelly Brook’s party survival tips

The model and actress shares her secrets on how she stays fit and healthy over the Christmas period

‘To have a healthy lifestyle, you need to be moderate in your approach to it and not be obsessed about fitness or your diet. It’s good to exercise regularly and be aware of what you eat – that’s how I keep on top of things. I maintain a healthy attitude to my lifestyle, but I don’t really diet. If you want to have some fun and indulge at weekends or special occasions, I don’t think you should beat yourself up over it!

The Morning After

‘If I want to relax, I have the occasional cocktail. My favourite drink is a G&T, and I like to have a glass of wine with food, but I’m not really a big drinker. If I’ve been out all night and feel dehydrated in the morning, I drink a lot of water – and coffee obviously. I’ll also do a nice scrub on my face if I feel like I need to freshen up my skin, but I think plenty of sleep, omega supplements and drinking four litres of water a day do pretty much everything you need to survive!

‘I love the same foods as everyone else... cheese, chocolate and coffee with sugar, but lately I’ve been following more of an Atkins
approach with higher protein, lower carbs and less sugar in my diet, which I think everyone should follow because it gives you loads more energy. Since I’ve cut down on sugar, I look and feel better. It’s more of a lifestyle than a diet, and I try to stick to that.

‘I love working out, but
living and working
between London and
Los Angeles can be really
hectic, and because of the
long flights, the last thing
I want to do is go to the
gym when I get off the
plane. I love to mix things
up with martial arts, SoulCycle and Megaformer
Pilates, but when you’re
travelling or working a lot, gym access can be limited,
 so I just go for a walk or
ride a bike instead – your workouts don’t always have
to be gym oriented.’

Workout Routines

Best results from the rowing machine

How to use the rowing machine effectively for the best results.

The rowing machine is an effective piece of cardiovascular gym kit that uses your entire body. ‘It’s a great way to warm up because it works all the major muscle groups while strengthening the core,’ says personal trainer John Penny, gym manager at Reebok Sports Club (reebokclub.co.uk). ‘You can also really push your body to the limit as there’s little impact on your joints, and you can adjust both the resistance and speed to suit your level. You’ll burn between 200 and 300 calories in 30 minutes if you do it properly.’ The following tips will help you target almost every part of your body and get the most out of each session.

DO

Focus on distance and strokes per minute, not time.
A good benchmark is to record how long it takes you to row 2,000m. You should be looking at around nine to ten minutes. 

DO

Start the movement by driving through your legs.
Focus on pushing through your heels, then once your knees are almost straight, begin pulling with your arms so the handle comes into your belly button not into your chest. 

DO

Note how long it takes to row 500m and try to lower this on a regular basis.
These ‘splits’ measure how fas you're going and allow you to monitor your progress. 

DON'T

Ignore the foot strap.
Adjust it to your foot size and fasten the straps so your foot feels secure. This will help when it comes to pushing through your legs for power. 

DO

Ask for help if you're new to the rower.
It's vital to get the technique correct to prevent back strain. And like any skill, practice makes perfect. 

DON'T

Round your back.
Sit up tall and focus on your arms and legs doing all the work, not your back, or it could cause an injury.

TRY THIS!

Celebrity personal trainer Mark Anthony (markanthonysuk.com) has devised the following circuit for the rowing machine. Aim for three workouts a week to see results.

‘To warm up, row at a comfortable pace for two minutes with the resistance at level seven,’ says Anthony. ‘Then do one minute at 28 strokes per minute [spm], one minute at 29 spm, one minute at 30 spm and one minute at 31 spm. Take a 60-second breather then repeat the entire sequence another three times, before finishing with a one-minute blast at 34 spm.’

Beauty

Top five foods for skin

Keep your skin healthy and glowing with these must-eat foods.

Salmon - Packed with omega-3 fats and protein, salmon, along with other oily fish such as sardines and mackeral, is on dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone's must-eat list of wrinkle-busters. 

Berries - A range of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and so on will pack a hefty anthocyanin punch, whacking up your antioxidant levels and giving your skin a boost.

Soya - 'The hormone oestrogen helps maintain collagen, and the skin's softness,' explains nutirtionist Amanda Ursell. 'Soya milk, tofu and flazseeds are all rich in oestrogen-like substances, isoflavones. These may help balance falling levels of oestrogen as we age.'

Brazil nuts - 'These are very high in selenium, which helps block the formation of an enzyme involved in ageing, which is produced in response to air pollution,' says Ursell.

Green tea - One small study from the University of Alabama in the US has suggested drinking green tea may help reverse the DNA damage casued by excess sun and linked with both wrinkles and skin cancer. More research is needed, but there's certainly no harm in quaffing a few cuppas of the green stuff. 

Weight Loss Tips

Wise up to slim down

Beat your diet downfalls and lose those hard-to-shift pounds with these figure-friendly fixes

There’s no magic solution to slimmer thighs or a flatter tum, but if you want to shake off that excess weight and look your best for the sunny days ahead, you need a smart strategy. First things first, you have to figure out what might be stalling your weight-loss progress. 

So we’ve rounded up some of the most surprising diet saboteurs to help you avoid them and whittle away those wobbly bits once and for all.  

You’re eating too many ‘healthy’ carbs

You baulk at the sight of a croissant and wouldn’t dream of letting a chip pass your lips, but you start the day with wholegrain rice puffs and fill up on a big bowl of wholemeal pasta at dinner. Sound familiar? We all know that white versions of these kitchen cupboard staples spell bad news for our waistlines, but even their brown counterparts aren’t as virtuous as they may seem. Although complex carbohydrates are an important macronutrient in any balanced eating plan, a carb-heavy diet leads to weight gain by increasing blood glucose levels and making your body more resistant to insulin. This means that instead of burning carbs for energy, your body stores them as fat. Instead eat more protein – a study by Cambridge University and the University of Sydney found that this helps to keep your appetite in check.

Wise up: Pile half your plate with non-starchy veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, one quarter with protein (pulses, turkey or lean beef), and the other quarter with complex carbs (brown rice or sweet potato) and good fats such as olive oil or avocado. 

You’re being too good

You’ve been told over and over that counting calories is the key to successful weight loss. Well, counting calories can certainly help in the battle against the bulge, but totting up your daily intake isn’t really sustainable in the long term. Plus you’ll find your weight will start to plateau after a certain amount of time, as your body fights back by slowing your metabolism and increasing your hunger. Emerging research suggests that if you really want to keep your metabolism ticking over nicely you’ll need to bend the weight-loss rules slightly by ditching your diet once a week. Having a cheat meal can really help you stick to a healthy diet the rest of the time and keep your willpower firing all week long. 

Wise up: Set aside one meal a week to ‘slip up’ and indulge guilt free! Make sure you eat a low-calorie diet leading up to your cheat meal and then splurge on something that you’ve been craving all week. There are a couple of golden rules to follow to ensure this doesn’t foil your get-slim goals, though: schedule your cheat meal earlier in the day – at lunchtime rather than dinner – and stop eating at the first sign of fullness. You may find you get full quite quickly if you’ve been watching your portion sizes while dieting, so don’t feel that you have to clean your plate!

You save your calories for the evening

Eating smaller portions will certainly help to fire up your weight loss, but if you’re making the mistake of saving up your day’s calorie intake for the evening, the scales won’t tip in your favour. Your metabolism takes a dive when you miss meals, as it tries to hang onto whatever calories it can. Plus, skipping meals during the day will make you ravenous come the evening, so you’re also likely to overindulge during a night-time noshing session. This means your body will be flooded with high levels of blood glucose, which your body will store as fat. 

Wise up: Make sure you eat at regular intervals throughout the day, say scientists at the University of Eastern Finland, who recently discovered that skipping meals was associated with weight gain. Your day’s food intake should revolve around three meals, plus two snacks, to ensure blood glucose levels stay stable. Make sure each meal contains a protein source – such as pulses, cheese or meat – to keep you feeling full, and graze on snacks like berries with nuts or oatcakes topped with houmous.

You aren’t dealing with your emotions very well

Are you guilty of eating your emotions? Short-term stress or anxiety can suppress your appetite, as the release of hormones – including cortisol, CRH and adrenaline – makes us feel less hungry because the body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode to protect us. However, a prolonged response over time can cause hormones like cortisol to signal to the body that it needs to replenish food supplies. This makes us hungrier for comfort foods and slows down the metabolism.

Wise up: Next time you’re stressed, swap comfort foods for a yoga sesh. Concentrating on breathing techniques and flow sequences will help bring your body back into balance and regulate hormone levels. And, instead of eating when you feel blue, look for other rewards to relieve negativity. Have a massage or call up a friend for a good ol’ chat. 

You have a selective memory

Guilty of mindlessly chowing down in front of the computer? Even if you’re watching what you eat 50 per cent of the time, if you’re not careful the other 50 per cent you’ll pack on the pounds. It’s difficult to keep tabs on what you’re eating when you’re distracted – and when you’re multi-tasking your brain isn’t as efficient at detecting fullness. 

Wise up: Schedule time into your day to dedicate to mealtimes. Make eating an occasion that takes you away from whatever task you’re doing. Eat at the dining table instead of on the sofa and make sure you chew food properly. Spend a few minutes a day writing a food diary of everything you’ve eaten and review it at the end of the week.  

Yoga Blog

Get in the shape of your life

Want a stomach like this? It can be done.... honest!

Now you’re over the shock of going back to work, it’s time to shock your body into shape. The festive season may be over, but chances are its after-effects are still visible on your waistline.

For fans of high-intensity interval sessions – or simply those who want to see quick results – training like a pro with Turbulence Bootcamp Method will sculpt your body swiftly and safely – with amazing results.

Developed by leading Pilates studio Zero Gravity Pilates, the anaerobic and strengthening moves are guaranteed to boost your heart rate, ramping up your metabolism in the process. The result? Drastic improvements to muscle tone and heart health – while banishing excess weight in the process.

Expect to work your way through 12 specially tailored exercises, using battle ropes, ladders, hurdles, power bags, boxing mitts and even parachutes! The 55-minute class includes team games plus scientifically proven cardio moves that leave you taut, toned and ultra fit, without bulking up. What’s more, this type of exercise is also proven to continue burning calories up to two days after your workout. Sounds good to us!

Fashion

Exercise clothes for women

Fit, strong and healthy women come in all shapes and sizes. There are pear shapes like the beautiful Beyoncé, hourglass shapes like the curvy Kelly Brook, athletic shapes like the long and lean Cameron Diaz, petite shapes like the pint-sized Isla Fisher and apple shapes like the leggy Drew Barrymore.

Whatever your shape, ditch the baggy joggers and oversized tees - we can help you dress to flatter your figure, so you can look fabulous when you hit the gym.

Healthy Eating Tips

10 frugal hacks for foodies

Eat well, but spend less, with our penny pinching tips

If you want to fatten your purse while you whittle your waistline, you need to get creative. Healthy food doesn’t have to mean pricey food. You simply need to employ three key skills: top-notch organisation; super-shrewd shopping and culinary creativity. Check out our great diet-optimising tips to save time and money. Ker-ching!

1. Plan ahead

At the end of each week, scribble down a healthy-eating plan for the week ahead. Figuring out which meals you’re going to make during the week will save you time and won’t stretch your purse strings. ‘Only buy food that can go well with what you already have in your fridge so you are not wasting anything,’ advises Nature’s Plus nutritionist Michela Vagnin (naturesplus.com). ‘Make a weekly menu plan and buy only what you need to prepare it,’ she adds.

2. Cook in bulk

Once you’ve stocked up on key ingredients, make bigger portions for dinner that will cover you for two meals and then take any leftovers to work. When you have extra time on weekends make up batches of your favourite soups, stews and stir-fries. Then divide them into individual portions and freeze until they’re needed. 

3. Go meat-free

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. Further research shows, on the whole, those following a plant-based diet have a lower risk of diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes. Remember, meat doesn’t have to be the centrepiece. You can bulk up dishes with quinoa or eggs, beans or lentils and they’ll still pack a protein punch. ‘High-fibre food like legumes are good for constipation and weight loss. They’re also nutrient dense, so great for your skin and immune system,’ says Michela. 

4. Be restaurant savvy 

When you’re watching your wallet, dining out is usually a big no-no. But if you’re clever about it, you can still enjoy the luxury of eating out. Skip starters and order a vegetarian meal instead of a meat-based dish, as these usually tend to be cheaper (and often healthier). ‘Also remember that alcohol in restaurants is quite expensive, so stick to water or choose restaurants where you can bring your own (BYO),’ suggests Michela. ‘If you feel like a drink, maybe have an aperitif at home with friends before heading off to the restaurant. Alcohol-free nights will make a big difference to your weekly budget and will also be a good detox,’ she adds. 

5. Eat in season

Sick of splashing out £4 on a punnet of blueberries? If you don’t want to miss out on getting your five-a-day, simply eat fruit and veg in season when it’s cheaper. And if you don’t want to forgo organic food, head to your local farmers’ market at the end of the day to get the best prices on organic produce. Alternatively, you could sign up to an organic veg box scheme where you can order weekly groceries online – pick the cheapest box of the week and you’ll get fresh fruit and veg delivered straight to your doorstep. ‘Cauliflower, celeriac, leeks, parsnips and swede are all in season now. These can all be made into stews or toasted in the oven with herbs or spices to give them an extra kick,’ recommends Michela. 

6. Be inspired

Love browsing the shelves of your local health store, but hate the knock-on effect it has on your bank balance? Make your own versions of foods like smoothies, houmous, granola and ‘fruit and nut’ bars and you’ll save money (and calories) in the long run. ‘Remember, cooking your own food is usually cheaper than buying pre-made pre-packed food,’ says Michela. 

7. Don’t always look at best-before dates

British households end up throwing away a whopping 7 million tonnes of food every year. And, while nobody wants to eat food that’s gone off, best-before dates aren’t always the best indicator of whether food is still safe to eat. There’s a big difference between best-before dates and use-by dates. ‘Best-by dates refer to foods that are best before that date – after that date they might not be as fresh, but will still be edible – whereas use-by dates refer to foods that expire before a specific date. Always choose food with longer expiry dates, especially for weekly shopping,’ advises Michela. 

8. Outsmart your supermarket

Supermarkets are designed to squeeze as much money out of you as they can, so you have to shop smart in order to sidestep the overspending traps. First up, don’t feel the need to fill up your trolley; if you’re not doing a weekly shop, pick up a basket instead. You won’t want to carry a heavy basket!  ‘And buy loose fruit and veg rather than pre-packed, as this will save you the packaging money,’ adds Michela. 

9. Take a multivitamin

A balanced diet is a good place to start if you want to improve your health, but if you really want to give your body a boost, taking a daily multivitamin can be a helpful aid. ‘When you buy supplements, buy them in larger sizes. Although you have to shell out more cash initially, they’ll last you longer and you’ll save more money overall,’ says Michela. 

10. Use your freezer

Fed up of having to toss away veggies week after week? Use your freezer’s ice cube trays to freeze fresh vegetables. Purée greens like spinach and broccoli, spoon into the trays, and then use them whenever you want to make a homemade smoothie or juice. You’ll find it’s much cheaper (and healthier) than buying shop-bought versions. 

Health and Wellbeing

Don’t suffer in silence!

Why 'putting up with' an injury could be a bad idea

If you’ve ever been injured, you’ll know it’s all you can think about.

But did you know that chronic pain could actually change the way you think?

Well, according to a study in mice carried out by researchers at Stanford University, it seems long-term pain can alter the part of your brain that controls motivation – which could explain why those who suffer from chronic pain become less active and often feel unmotivated. Formerly fit bods can become crisp-eating couch potatoes in a the blink of an eye when motivation hits a real low!

So, don’t put up with persistent pain – get it checked out and get your motivation back.

Fitness Equipment

Boost your willpower!

Can’t seem to achieve your health goals? Re-train your brain to resist temptation at every turn

Well, while said colleague may have been blessed with genetics that help her steer clear of the cookie jar, it’s not all bad news for the rest of us. Even those mere mortals among us can hone that willpower to resist mouth-watering temptations.

Imagine resisting those afternoon snacks, that second mini-cupcake or that sugary morning latte with ease – without feeling you’re missing out or being deprived. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

Well, it is possible. Don’t believe us? Well, that’s where top psychologist Walter Mischel comes in.

All about marshmallows

At a Stanford University nursery back in the ’60s, Mischel began a series of tests, which looked at the ability of pre-school children to delay instant gratification in return for a bigger reward. In other words, forgo a treat now, for two treats later. 

The tests themselves were centred on actual treats, from cookies to cakes, earning the study the nickname ‘The Marshmallow Test’. The children were left in a room on their own and given two choices: ring the bell, the supervisor will return and you can eat one marshmallow; or wait until the supervisor comes back of their own accord (around 20 minutes later) and you can have two marshmallows. 

The choice was entirely theirs: immediate satisfaction with one yummy treat? Or exercising that willpower for a little longer to get double the reward? Which would you choose?

Surprising results

While the children all had different reactions to the test – some diving in for the first marshmallow straight away and some waiting patiently for the two marshmallows – what was really fascinating was that their reactions to this simple test actually determined their success in later life. Yup, really!

The children who had been able to resist the temptation of those marshmallows were, as teenagers, able to show better self-control in frustrating situations and ‘yield less to temptation’, as well as being less easily distracted, more intelligent, confident and self-reliant. A pretty impressive skillset, we’re sure you agree. And these positive traits continued into adulthood, where they reached higher levels of education, achieved more of their goals and had a lower body mass index, among other desirable qualities. So being able to resist temptation and having strong willpower was shown to have a whole host of positives in the long run.

What is willpower?

Some people are better than others at resisting temptation. But the idea that willpower is an innate quality is simply not true, according to Mischel. He states that willpower is often ‘mischaracterised as something other than a skill’. Willpower is often thought of as an elusive quality. But this research shows that willpower is, in fact, a skill, which you can develop and then choose to use. 

Mischel reiterates that ‘no matter how good we are at self-control “naturally” we can improve our self-control skills’. Wonder how your running buddy always makes it out for that 6am run, while you lounge in bed? Or how your bestie always manages to forgo dessert? Well, it’s not magic – you can do it, too!

Putting it into action

But willpower isn’t just about being really determined to do something; it’s about using strategies to ensure you avoid temptation and get the long-term reward you’re really after. Mischel uses the concept of hot and cold systems to show our reactions to high-temptation situations. The hot system – when you love it and cave in – is geared towards the present moment and, when it takes over, can cause you to forget those long term goals. For example, eating a large slice of cake for elevenses rather than resisting, which will help you achieve your goal of losing half a stone. To remedy this we need to reverse these processes. In Mischel’s words, we need to start ‘cooling the present and heating the future’.

The real world

So, what does all this mean for you? Well, Walter Mischel’s experiments reveal a great deal about what willpower is and how it can be fine-tuned to help you reach those elusive goals – whether that’s losing half a stone, running a marathon or staying away from the cookie jar. Ready to get started?
Here are some of his top techniques to help you boost your willpower – for good!

The technique: Push the temptation away

One of the key ways you can ‘cool’ the temptation is to physically and mentally push it away from you. And bring your long-term goals closer.

Use it: Work buddies offering around the choccy? First up, make sure that choc box is as far away from your desk as possible. Then Google some pictures of your upcoming holiday destination or do a bit of bikini shopping online to keep your mind focused on that longer-term goal.  

The technique: If, then

According to Mischel, one of the best techniques for honing that willpower is to employ the ‘if, then’ strategy. First you identify your ‘if’ trigger point – feeling too tired to exercise, feeling hungry mid-afternoon, canapés being handed around at an event – then you come up with a ‘then’ distraction strategy that will get you out of bed to exercise, away from the chocolate snacks or on the other side of the room from the canapé tray. 

Use it: Want to steer clear of tempting party treats or make sure you stick to that exercise routine? Try this: If the canapé tray comes around, then I’ll go and get a glass of water. Or if I feel too tired to exercise, then I’ll walk home instead of getting the bus instead. Simple, huh?

The technique: Think visually

Another weapon in your willpower arsenal is the ability to visualise the negative consequences of giving into temptation. The example Mischel gives is of a smoker wanting a cigarette – he recommends that you ‘visualise your lungs with cancer on an X-ray the doctor is showing you as he gives you the bad news’. It may seem a bit extreme, but imagining the future in the present moment can be a powerful tool for resisting temptation.

Use it: Lost a lot of weight? Keep a pic of the old you on your desk or near the fridge to remind you of the consequences of sacking off the healthy diet or exercise regime. Or find a picture of someone with a figure you crave and put it in the kitchen to stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks!

The technique: Be the third person

Another great technique suggested by Mischel is to imagine yourself as a fly on the wall in the situation. It’s a good way to remove yourself from the ‘hot’ impulses and give yourself the space to think calmly and rationally. 

Use it: Done a gruelling workout, but now gagging for a sweet treat? Take five minutes to sit down, imagine yourself as a fly on the wall and think rationally about the situation.

The technique: Enjoy the rewards

One of the best bits about exercising your willpower is that when you start to succeed, the benefits – a smaller waistline or a new PB – provide such a great reward that it makes your new behaviours easier to maintain. But Mischel emphasises the fact that, as with learning any new skill, ‘practice,’ is key.

Use it: Record each triumph! Every achievement on the road to your long-term goal deserves a little celebration, so keep a journal dedicated to recording your results – whether that’s the distance you’ve run, the inches you’ve lost or the number of pull-ups you can now do.

Motivational magic

It’s worth remembering that the key to willpower is actually wanting to achieve your goals. If you don’t want to do something or you’re not that bothered, it will be hard to conjure up any sort of willpower. As Mischel says, ‘you have to want to change, with the emphasis on want to’. So, before you take on a big goal, ensure that it’s something you really want. 

News's

Women in sport

Raise the profile of your favourite female athlete or pick up a new sport yourself, there are plenty of ways to get involved!

Men play sport, and they play it well. We know this because both sports-specific channels and mainstream network television channels are saturated with it.

Which is great. After all, who can deny the entertainment value of a nail-biting FA Cup final or an edge-of-your-seat primetime boxing match? 

Plus these men train hard to be the best they can be at their chosen sport, and their efforts and abilities can be truly inspiring. But hang on… what about the women? Most sports you see on TV – including football and boxing – have plenty of female participants – at an elite level, no less. They train just as hard. They turn up and play their hearts out. But while we’ve a long way to go before we get the huge funding, 

Lets hear it for the girls 

In the past few years, we’ve seen some huge positive changes for women in sport. London 2012 saw the introduction of women’s boxing to the Olympic Games. And it couldn’t have gone any better for us with Great Britain’s own Nicola Adams taking home the first ever Olympic gold medal won by a female boxer. It was a proud moment for Team GB, undoubtedly, but it was also a proud moment for women everywhere. Nicola – and female boxers of all weight categories from around the world – proved that women have a place in the ring, and they did so on the biggest sporting stage possible. Team those performances between the ropes with Jessica Ennis’s breathtaking skills in the stadium, Jade Jones’s fighting spirit and the blood, sweat and determination of every female who represented their country that summer, and it’s obvious that sport for women is changing, for the better.

GB’s Victoria Pendleton et al made massive waves in the cycling scene during 2012, and since then, too, popularising the sport among everyday women like us. And these girls, along with the other female cyclists working hard to bring the sport into the spotlight, have been nothing short of successful. This summer – two years after the Games – saw the inaugural women’s race at the world-famous Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycling race. The free-to-watch event brought female cycling into the limelight once again. The Tour’s winner, Holland’s Marianne Vos, added this title to her already impressive list of accolades – Olympic gold medallist and world road-race champion. She’s fast becoming a cycling legend.

Cycling and boxing, in particular, are thought of as men’s sports, with athletes like Bradley Wiggins and Ricky Hatton household names in Britain. But perhaps the most popular sport among men? It’s got to be football. From chants in the stands to glugging a beer down the pub while the game’s on, football has long been seen as a man’s sport. But, more recently, women have been moving in on the action on the football pitch, too. According to stats from the Football Association, a whopping 1 million viewers tuned into the FA Women’s Cup Final last year, and a staggering 70,000 watched Team GB beat Brazil at Wembley Stadium during the 2012 Games. If spectator numbers are reaching such soaring figures, it’s undeniable that people want to see it. ‘The closer and more competitive our matches are, the more of a spectator sport it becomes,’ says former England player and assistant head coach of the England Women’s team, Marieanne Spacey. ‘More FA Women’s Super League teams are training full time and more players are turning professional. So standards will continue to rise and the quality of matches will improve even further.’

The FA’s stats also prove that we want to get involved, too. Some 42.9% of those attending FA skills programme sessions are girls, and 11,025 of us attended national FA girls’ football festivals and fan zones last year. Football is no longer just for the boys.

While some sports are traditionally male dominated, that’s not the case for all sports. Martial arts like taekwondo, for example, have a high number of female participants. ‘Unlike many sports, taekwondo has just as many female as male competitors,’ says Jade Jones, GB’s first taekwondo gold medallist. ‘Girls often start wanting to learn self-defence, but then realise the sport is much more than that. It’s technical, improves flexibility and is great for keeping fit. Our governing body also recently launched a campaign called KickSister, which encourages women to get involved by focusing more on fitness and self-defence.’

Get a slice of the pie    

Women’s SportsNet (WSNet), which is a useful hub for women to get information on sport, recently launched the ACTIVEMapX (wsnet.co.uk/activemapx) to help women find sports classes near them. Almost all of us have enjoyed playing sport at some point, even if it was just through school PE classes, so it’s often a case of simply finding a way to get back into it. With almost 20,000 locations nationwide offering hockey, netball and volunteer-led classes, ACTIVEMapX proves that it really is becoming easier and easier for women to get fit through sport, and that it’s slowly but steadily becoming the norm. ‘Local classes found on the ACTIVEMapX help you engage with friends and neighbours, and build confidence,’ says WSNet’s Paul Reynolds. ‘You can find fencing, rollerderby or powerhoop around the corner!’

If you want to start with something more familiar, cycling is perfect. And following the success of golden girl Victoria Pendleton and her team mates in 2012, it’s no wonder that there have been so many initiatives to get more women into the sport. The FA have even joined forces with British Cycling to launch Kick Start Your Ride – a joint effort from two of the UK’s biggest governing bodies to get women to cycle to football matches. ‘This is about two sports coming together to inspire women to try something new,’ explains Natalie Justice, women’s network project manager at British Cycling. ‘The opportunity to go on a group bike ride with the prize of getting to watch some exciting football at the end of it has all the ingredients of a fun day out and we hope to see hundreds of women getting involved.’

Raising the profile           

It’s time to start evening the playing field, but it takes determination and courage. Something GB’s own gold-medal-winning cyclist Nicole Cooke has by the bucket. ‘When I first started competing in cycling, there were no British Championships for women in road or track,’ she says. ‘I wrote to the British Cycling Federation to ask for championships, and after an initial refusal, they changed their mind and I competed in the inaugural U16 British Track Championships for girls in 1998, and there are now championships for all age categories for girls on road and track – a huge step forward.’ Nicole also wrote to the Union Cycliste International (the world governing body for sports cycling) about the heavy bias towards men in the Olympics, which in 2004 offered eight medals for men and only four for women. In London 2012, five medals were offered to both men and women. While it’s shocking to see such inequality in sport, it’s the determination of people like Nicole that makes a real difference. 

Women’s Sport Trust (womenssporttrust.com) aims to raise the profile and visibility of women’s sports through role models, media coverage and funding – the things that get female athletes seen and heard in order to inspire others to give sport a go. ‘Since London 2012, there’s been an increase in coverage and buying of rights to women’s sport from broadcasters such as BT Sport, Sky and BBC,’ says Jo Bostock, co-founder of Women’s Sport Trust. ‘Not to mention the national cricket team becoming professional and the announcement of La Course – a female event alongside the final day of the Tour De France.’

What WST does is important as it’s about encouraging women to realise that, whatever their fitness level, background or history, sport can be for them, too. We need to increase the positive impact not only by participating, but by watching women play sport, getting our companies involved with sponsorship and urging schools to create more sports opportunities. 

Fitness

The best reasons to work out

Losing inches shouldn’t be your only motivation for hitting the gym. Regular training sessions benefit your entire body

Toned legs and a flat stomach aren’t the only benefits of working out. According to a research review in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, regular exercise can help cut your risk of more than 20 illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

‘Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight loss,’ says sports scientist Nick Morgan, ‘but the other benefits are just as important.’ Here’s what exercise does to keep you healthy, happy and alive!

Brain

Staying active cuts your risk of dementia and age-related memory loss by increasing the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that makes memories. A 40,000-person Norwegian study found that those who engage in regular activity of any intensity are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Breasts

Brisk walking for as little as one and a quarter hours every week can help reduce oestrogen levels in the body, which may lower your breast cancer risk by 18 per cent!

Bones

Bone-thinning osteoporosis now affects around one in three women in the UK, according to the latest research. Taking part in a 45-minute Step aerobics class, three times a week, will help boost bone density, especially in your spine, legs and heels. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also reports that heavy resistance training may increase bone mass, as it places strain on the bones of the joint you are working.

Appetite

Intense exercise can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while raising levels of the peptide YY, which lowers appetite. A study in the journal Appetite also found that a brisk 15-minute walk decreased chocolate cravings by 12 per cent.

Heart

Not only will exercise add about four years to your life, it can also lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures your blood pressure while the heart is beating) by as much as five to 10mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This is as good as some blood pressure medications. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

Pancreas

Lifting weights and upping your lean muscle mass could lower your insulin resistance, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every 10 per cent increase in muscle mass, the risk of pre-diabetes should drop by 12 per cent.

Gut

Three to five weekly workouts of 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity is an effective treatment for IBS, according to a Swedish study. Demanding workouts improve bowel movements, and relieve gas and constipation.

Sex drive

Around 20 minutes of cardio exercise gets your body aroused faster and more intensely for a bit of rough and tumble. Not only that, lifting weights can also cause testosterone surges, and women with more testosterone tend to be more aroused and enjoy sex more. 

Celebrity Workouts

Yoga for everyone

If scanning the yoga timetable leaves you lost and confused, don’t panic. Just check out our simple guide to yoga styles old and new

From Ashtanga to Bikram – and beyond – the variety of yoga styles on offer in gyms and studios across the country is amazing. ‘It’s awesome that there are so many different types of yoga,’ says yoga instructor and key leader at Lululemon Katy Bateman (redpandayoga.com). ‘There’s a style for everyone!’ So how do you work out which class ticks your fitness boxes? ‘We all demand, want and need different things for our bodies. Whether you want to flow, sweat, invert, rejuvenate, recover or relax, there’s a practice out there for you,’ says Katy. ‘But our bodies (and minds) don’t necessarily need the same type of practice all the time – sometimes you want to stretch and strengthen, sometimes you just want to chill – there’s a whole menu of yoga out there to feed our bodies with what we need.’ So, whatever you fancy, check out the WF guide to some of the most popular yoga styles out there – plus some of the very latest classes to hit the mat – to find the perfect class for your mood!

Iyengar

Overview: Developed by BKS Iyengar, this is a technique-focused style of yoga. It concentrates on getting the correct alignment, and yoga blocks and straps are often used to assist with this.
Benefits: You’ll really nail every pose. And it’s perfect for injury rehab as it’s slower paced, but technically focused.
Expert tip: ‘The use of props (blankets, bolsters, belts, bricks) help to move students deeper into poses, and has influenced many schools of yoga,’ explains Katy. ‘It’s great for newbies.'

Bikram

Overview: Developed by Bikram Choudhury around 40 years ago, Bikram yoga classes are a sweaty affair.
They are held in heated rooms (around 40°C) to aid detoxing and help muscles lengthen, and follow a set sequence of poses. It doesn’t move quickly in the same way that a flow class does, as poses are held for longer. Bikram is very popular and classes are held nationwide.
Benefits: The heat is said to help the body detox and can help to boost your flexibility.
Expert tip: ‘The heat is used to aid sweating, detoxing, sweating, strengthening, sweating and… Did I mention sweating?! Suitable for all levels, but remember to drink lots of water the day before your class – and after the class!’ says Katy.

Ashtanga

Overview: Ashtanga is a lively style of yoga that follows a set sequence of postures. It’s flowing in nature and is a physically challenging style of yoga.
Benefits: The sequence is always the same so you’ll master it after a few sessions and be able to relax into the class.
Expert tip: ‘This demanding practice is not for the faint-hearted and will see you sweat,’ says Katy. ‘I’d recommend beginners take a few slower-paced Hatha classes before embarking on an Ashtanga session, to get used to the postures.’

Anusara

Overview: This style is all about reaping the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga.
The idea is that the physical practice can help to let your inner goodness shine through.
Benefits: It’s a great way to clear your head and refocus on the things that are important to you. Perfect if you’ve got a lot on your mind.
Expert tip: ‘This practice encourages you to move from the heart, focusing on how you feel in a pose, and helping you move your body into its optimum alignment, which can be very therapeutic,’ says Katy. ‘It’s great for all levels, and creates a great foundation for a solid yoga practice.’

Hatha

Overview: Hatha yoga covers any type of yoga that teaches physical poses, but these classes tend to be quite slow-paced and gentle. Classes advertised as Hatha usually provide a good grounding in the basics of yoga.
Benefits: You’ll feel more relaxed and give your body a good stretch out, without the intensity of some of the other classes.
Expert tip: ‘If a class is labelled “Hatha” it will probably be a bit slower, focusing on the alignment of your body and playing with some classic sun salutations,’ Katy says. ‘It’s perfect for all levels – beginners, intermediate and advanced all benefit.’

Vinyasa

Overview: This is a very fluid practice, which enables you to get your heart rate up. It’s a very similar style to Ashtanga, but doesn’t follow the set sequence of Ashtanga, so every class will vary.
Benefits: You’ll never get bored, as each class is different from the next.
Expert tip: ‘It’s a dynamic style, but suitable for all levels. As with many styles of yoga, teachers often give variations on poses for different levels as you move through the sequences,’ Katy explains.

Workout Routines

8 ways to fit in a Christmas workout

Don’t let your fitness goals fall by the wayside this Christmas. There's always time for a quick workout - no matter the season.

Every year the holiday season sneaks up on us and before we can get a handle on the chaos, fitness has dropped way down the priority list. It can be tempting to postpone any workout plans until further notice.

Staying fit throughout the holidays not only helps to keep you in shape, but exercising will make you more productive and give you an energy boost. Here are 8 fast workout ideas for even the busiest schedule.

Fast classes

Health clubs and gyms know what we’re going through balancing a million things at once and barely having time for a lunch break some days. That’s why Virgin Active (virginactive.co.uk) runs fast classes: group exercises classes that last no longer than half an hour while promising to give you a workout that feels way longer. Check out twentyfour – a fat-burning session that gets you twisting, pushing and pulling in every direction while boosting metabolism and raising the heart rate.

Late-night affair

There’s nothing worse than rushing to the gym for a quick in-and-out session and being faced with a crowded gym floor, shower queue or sparse equipment. This kind of session involves weaving through people, wasting time trying to find a decent spot and waiting around for the dumbbells you want or the squat rack to free up. So, if your schedule allows for it, choose the absolute least busiest times, like late at night. You’ll get your pick of the kit, shower cubicle and mat space. No dilly-dallying. No fuss. No wasted time.

Cardio, meet strength

For the next few weeks, forget about separating cardio and strength days. Spin Mondays, leg Wednesdays and circuit Fridays can wait – over the party season there’s no reason why you can’t get your cardio and strength fix in one swift session. Creating a cardio workout using resistance exercises with little rest between sets means you’ll tick both boxes, so get moving with box jumps, mountain climbers and jumping lunges for now. Check out our tips in our ‘Make cardio your strength’ box.

More, but less

However many times you usually exercise, cut it. Switch from five to three sessions a week without sacrificing any of the effects by taking it up a couple gears when you are working out. Thinking quality over quantity could save you precious hours, and is as easy as modifying your moves. Turn squats into squat jumps, press-ups into press-up renegade rows and runs into sprint sessions. Cut rest periods, opt for supersets and incorporate warm-ups into sets, too.

Make your commute count

Currently taking the bus, train or car to work? Get yourself a decent backpack, a good pair of trainers and run or cycle instead. Not only will you be getting your workout done and dusted before you even start the day, but you’ll also be unleashing that eco warrior within. The environment, as well as your schedule, will thank you for it.

Keep it in the bedroom

No, not that! We’re talking, wake up, work out, get ready and go. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Well, why shouldn’t it be? There are plenty of ways to work out at home and if you complete a quick and intense bodyweight workout in your bedroom before you even take your morning shower, you’ll barely notice the dent in your day. Burpees by the bed, anyone?

Social affair

Around Christmas time, when everyone’s struggling to keep up with their schedule, for some reason we all think it’s a great idea to make loads of social plans, too. Not just with our best mates and families but with old friends for reunions. It doesn’t make sense, but we’re all guilty of it. So why not make your social events exercise-related? You could all go for run together, try a new class (great for a talking point afterwards, too) or hit the gym. Double whammy or what?

Make life harder

Yep, you read that right. Do exactly what you normally do every day but make it more difficult. The lift should become a stranger, while the stairs an acquaintance, shopping trolleys should be abandoned for your new best friend, the basket, and don’t you even think about driving a walkable distance. All of these switch-ups will get you burning calories while barely affecting your time.

Recover on-the-go

Refuelling and replenishing your muscles after a tough workout is essential. Not only does muscle growth encourage a boosted metabolic rate and in turn fat burn, but you also need your hard-working muscles to repair in time for your next session. Getting post-workout nutrition isn’t rocket science, but making it quick and convenient can be tricky. 

 

Make cardio your strength

Fat loss expert Dave Fletcher (theodysseyway.co.uk) explains how to make your cardio and strength workouts a match made in heaven.

1. Try a circuit of low-rep exercises with little rest to keep the heart rate up. This is the best way to maximise fat burn within a single workout.

2. Perform big, compound movements like squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and press-ups. Now is not the time for bicep curls.

3. Do heavy reps to stimulate your fat-twitch muscle fibres, which will help to boost metabolism.

Fitness Tips

The 10 exercise commandments

Want to make your workouts easier and get more out of every session? Follow these top tips and tricks to boost your results

When you first started working out, you were probably up to your eyeballs in exercise rules: engage the core, don’t strain your neck, don’t let the knees go past the toes and so on. 

Newcomers to exercise tend to make the extra effort to stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to following these guidelines, but those who are incredibly well-versed in working out often forget these all-important rules – and sometimes going back to basics is just what you need to make your workout as efficient as possible. Here are the 10 commandments of training and why you should never (ever!) forget them.

1 Don’t lock out

Keeping your elbows and knees slightly soft, even during full extension, is in your interest not only in terms of joint health, but also in making your workout more effective. ‘Not locking out when lifting weights will prevent joint deterioration and reduce your chances of joint-related niggles and injuries,’ explains personal trainer Dave Fletcher (theodysseyway.co.uk). Keeping your joints soft also calls for muscle recruitment throughout the entire move, as it doesn’t allow them to catch a break at the top of the motion. More work equals better results, right?

2 Eat wise

You don’t need us to tell you not to eat heavy meals too close to a workout – you’ll soon feel it if you do. The reason you might feel a little worse for wear when taking on a gruelling session after a big eat is because, when you exercise, the blood flow is directed to the muscles that are working. This means there’s limited flow to the digestive system – something’s got to give.

3 Give yourself a lift

Squats are a big deal now – it’s a fact. While serious lifters have seen the squat as the holy grail of exercise for years, initiatives like the squat challenge have really popularised the move. But a lot of people struggle to perfect the technique and are, as a result, missing out on maximum results. ‘For most people, squatting with your heels raised will dramatically improve your range of motion,’ Dave explains. ‘If you have tight calves, you tend to lean forwards during a squat and unnecessarily load the lower back, so by raising the heels (on a plank or weight discs, for example) you allow a greater activation of the glutes, quads and hamstrings (bottom and thigh muscles), increasing the effectiveness of the move while reducing the risk of strain to the lower back.’

4 Practise your turn-out

We’re not talking ballerina-worthy turn-out, but pointing your toes out just slightly while performing resistance exercises gives you an extra bit of stability that could make all the difference. Keeping your toes pointing forwards might seem like the safest option, but, according to Dave, the stance can feel unbalanced and unnatural since the hips tend
to rotate outwards a little.

5 Have a break

The jury always seems to be out on rest days, with different people recommending different things. Should you skip the gym if you feel rubbish, or just power through like a trooper? And how many rest days should you have per week? Either way, one thing’s for sure: you do need rest days, especially between strength sessions or sessions that target the same muscles again. You’re seriously compromising your safety by overdoing it. Even if you feel okay, your muscles will still be recovering, and won’t be able to perform to the maximum until they’ve been rebuilt.

6 Perfect your posture

It’s not as simple as standing up straight when performing your exercises, although this is pretty important, too. Having good body alignment can boost your progress by helping you perform exercises with better form, so working on your postural alignment outside of the gym is crucial. ‘Make sure you put the time in away from your workouts, too, by stretching, foam rolling and stopping yourself from slouching when you sit down,’ advises Dave.

7 Engage your core

This is probably one of the first rules you learn when you start exercising. Engaging the core almost goes without saying these days, right? But it really is at the centre of everything and ensures your upper and lower body work in synergy, taking the strain away from the lower back and enabling you to lift heavier weights. And you know what that means? Better results.

8 Refuel post-workout

Eating healthily in general is pretty important, but for those who go hard at it in the gym, you need to pay extra attention to mealtimes, too. You’ve probably seen those hardcore gym-goers glugging their protein shakes before they’ve even left the changing rooms, and here’s why: after a workout, the muscles are primed to absorb protein, so you want to take advantage of this. We’re not saying everyone should be on the shakes, but make sure you go for a protein-heavy meal like chicken or fish after you’ve exercised.

9 Prepare and recover properly

Let’s be honest, we can all be a little guilty of skipping warm-ups and cool-downs, even though we know we shouldn’t. And while we know stretching after exercise helps to reduce injury and aches, did you know that warming up efficiently before a workout actually makes the workout easier. How? Stretching dynamically pre-workout, in similar movement patterns to those you’re about to perform, means your muscles will be more elastic and the blood will already be flowing. ‘Stick to dynamic stretches before a workout and static ones after,’ Dave adds.

10 Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is important, regardless of how often you exercise – the body is primarily made up of fluid, after all. If you start to feel thirsty at any point, then you’re actually already dehydrated. And, while rehydrating is easy enough, taking preventative measures
by ensuring you never reach the point of thirst is even better. Even minor dehydration can affect your endurance and blood flow. The rule? The more you tend to sweat, the more you should drink throughout the day. So keep a bottle of water on you at all times. 

Fitness Tips

HOW TO RUN FASTER

Want to run quicker? Just follow these 5 simple steps

Get stronger

The stronger and more explosive you are, the more force you’ll generate, and the faster you’ll be. Strength training in the gym, coupled with some plyometric exercises, are essential if you want to get faster. Don’t be afraid to lift some heavier weights, in the range of five to eight reps per set, as this is where you’ll see the most strength gains initially.

 

Become leaner

The heavier you are, the more difficult it is to move quickly, so decreasing your body fat is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your speed. What you eat will have the biggest impact here, so you need to be sure that you’re eating for your specific requirements. This will be different for us all, so recording what you eat and finding a way to track your body composition on a regular basis can be very useful to keep you on track.

 

Improve your posture

Structural balance and good posture play a big part, not only in keeping you injury free, but also in helping you move and breathe more efficiently. And the more efficient you are in both of these areas, the faster you’ll be. Typical areas of weakness that need attention are the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes and lower and mid-back, which can be improved through exercises such as lunges, deadlifts and rowing variations. 

 

Work on technique

The more proficient you become in certain movement patterns, the more efficient your body will be and the faster you’ll go. Want to get faster at running? Working on the technical aspects of running mechanics, such as stride length and arm drive, will make a huge difference to your efficiency, and in turn, your speed. To improve stride length for example, think about driving your leg back to push you forward.

 

Do short sprints

Performing short sprint intervals and improving technique are the quickest ways to improve speed. It’s important to get a good base of overall conditioning and get yourself as strong and lean as possible at the outset, but once you have a good level of general fitness, you need to sprint if you want to go faster. Start with shorter distances of, say 10-30m, and make sure you get complete rest between sets.

Celebrity Workouts

Less pain, more gain

Step out of the hurt locker and stay on the safe side with our handy guide to ‘ouch!’ prevention

We know it, and you know it: getting in shape is hard work. Exercise demands a huge amount from your muscles and, occasionally, injury is simply inevitable. 

But, let’s face it, there’s nothing more frustrating than your goals being thrown off track by an annoying stitch during your boxing class or killer back pain during your weights session. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Figure out the triggers causing you pain – and learn the best way to safeguard your body before, during and after a workout – and you’ll be well equipped to make the most of every single session. 

1. Avoid dizziness

Ever feel light-headed when you’re sweating by the bucket load during your spin class or giving your all on the treadmill? A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that being dehydrated during exercise caused dizziness, reduced concentration and fatigue, so fuelling up before your session is really important. ‘Carbohydrate is your body’s primary fuel source for moderate-to-intense exercise,’ explains Reebok Club’s personal trainer and nutrition expert Tim Hart (reeboksportsclublondon.com). ‘If your levels are low then workouts do become harder, as the body has less immediate energy available. If you feel dizzy, rest and recover until the feeling goes before continuing. If dizziness lasts longer than five minutes, end the session or reduce the intensity.’ 

Tackle the problem: Staying properly hydrated is key. ‘For gym training, drink at least one litre of water per hour and an extra litre post exercise,’ Tim tips. ‘For long outdoor runs, sports matches or anywhere in high heat, consume at least one litre of isotonic water during exercise and one to two litres after your workout.’ 

2. Beat lower back pain

If you want to sculpt washboard abs or simply improve your all-over strength, core work is an absolute must. But, when your tummy muscles are weak, your back muscles are likely to take a hit, so it’s vital to work both areas. 

Tackle the problem: Avoid advanced movements if you’ve got a weak back and start with basic core exercises. ‘Lie on your back and bring both legs up into the air, knees bent at a 90-degree angle,’ says Rebecca Gentry, Bodyism performance specialist. ‘Push your lower back into the floor by pulling your bellybutton in towards the spine. As you exhale, slowly lower one leg – keeping it bent – until the heel brushes the floor, then return to the start position. If your lower back lifts up from the floor, or you feel any pain during this movement, stop immediately,’ adds Rebecca. 

3. Tackle muscle cramp

If you’re training for an event and striving to smash your PB or run further than you’ve gone before, muscle cramps are the last thing you need. ‘The primary cause of cramps is sweating during exercise,’ explains Tim. ‘Research indicates that a decreased concentration of electrolyte minerals, such as chloride, magnesium, potassium and calcium, is a big factor in muscle cramps. These minerals are lost through sweat.’ 

Tackle the problem: There’s no cure for sweating, sadly, but you can reduce its effects. ‘An isotonic drink containing sodium and other electrolytes can help to reduce the risk of cramps,’ says Tim. ‘A snack a few hours before exercise – such as some mixed nuts or dried fruit – can also help. However this will not stop the loss of electrolytes once you’ve started exercising. So if you’re exercising for longer than an hour, have some small snacks or an isotonic drink handy while you’re working out.’ 

To ward off cramp before it strikes, eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, for a hit of the muscle-easingmineral magnesium. 

4. Protect your knees

If you’re looking to tone up and boost strength, squats always hit the spot. When performed correctly, squatting sculpts the lower body andsupercharges your fat-burning engine. However, if other areas of your body are tight, such as your hips or hamstrings, pain is likely to be on the menu. 

Tackle the problem: Warming up your knees and butt with some hip extensions will help to take the burden off weak knees. ‘Place a Bodyism Mini Band (bodyism.com) just above your knees to keep your knees in line with your toes, and stop them dropping inwards as you move,’ Rebecca suggests. ‘Only bend to a point where you have no pain, keeping your heels firmly pressed into the floor – then push up through your heels, engaging your bottom, hamstrings and core.’

5. Reduce muscle aches

We’re sure we don’t have to tell you that post-exercise soreness tends to set in a day or so after your workout. Usually the result of overloading muscles, soreness is often necessary to help muscles repair and grow, but that I-can’t-get-off-the-sofa pain stems from an improper warm-up. ‘Foam roller work and stretching can loosen the fascia to allow muscles to work to their full potential,’ explains Rebecca. 

Tackle the problem: What you do before and after a workout is just as important as the session itself. ‘Use a foam roller on the body parts you’re going to work, and on areas of tightness,’ says Rebecca. ‘Follow with dynamic stretches such as arm circles and lunges to activate your muscles.’ If ice baths really aren’t your thing, use good nutrition to help you bounce back. Eat plenty of protein and put watermelon on your shopping list. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that watermelon juice can help alleviate muscle soreness thanks to high levels of an amino acid called L-citrulline.

6. Dodge stitches

Stitches are a common complaint when overexerting through exercise. Although rarely serious, they can impair your physical performance and reduce the effectiveness of your workout.

Tackle the problem: It’s thought that beginners suffer more than seasoned gym bunnies, so don’t go too hard if you’re a newbie. And, while it’s important to drink water prior to your workout, too much liquid could do you more harm than good. ‘Drinking water before your workout increases your chances of suffering a stitch,’ says fitness expert Dean Hodgkin (ragdalehall.co.uk). ‘There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest shallow breathing, or panting, can be a trigger, so concentrate on deep inhalations and exhalations during your workout.’ 

Diet Plans

Full of flavour and so many health benefits, this humble bulb is undoubtedly a storecupboard hero… stock up now!

Garlic has lots of health benefits – it is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory to name a few!’

 

Most of us have this little bulb in our kitchens and use it for adding flavour to our cooking, but garlic has lots of health benefits and could technically be called an everyday superfood. It is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory to name a few!

One of the key benefits and medicinal uses of garlic is in helping to lower blood pressure, whether you have high blood pressure already or not. There has also been research that shows how garlic can also have a positive effect on your cholesterol, helping to keep it in check. So if you currently suffer from, or are predisposed to cholesterol or heart problems because of family genetics, then definitely add garlic to your cooking as much as possible.

Garlic was actually used to treat gangrene during the World Wars, probably because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and because one of the key biological components of garlic is a compound called allicin. These days, though, allicin, which is also found in garlic’s cousin the onion, can be used to help support your immune system and, according to research, may help  to prevent certain cancers, such as stomach and colon. 

The antibacterial properties of garlic also mean it helps to fight infections, and there has even been some evidence that it might help prevent food poisoning by killing bacteria, such as E. coli. One study even found that garlic was better at treating campylobacter, a bacteria commonly found in uncooked chicken, than two kinds of antibiotics and may be up to 100 times more effective!

In addition, garlic contains vitamin C, B6, selenium and manganese. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant so it also helps to protect your cholesterol from oxidation, the process that can cause damage to your blood vessels and arteries. As for B6, this vitamin will help prevent heart disease by lowering homocysteine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in your blood but can be dangerous when levels get too high. Selenium helps to protect your cells from damage, and manganese has many roles, including helping your body form connective tissue and bone, as well fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

The key to reaping the benefits of garlic is to aim for around two cloves a day and ensure that it’s chopped, crushed or pressed and then left for 60 seconds before cooking to release all of its benefits and flavour. Chopping the garlic and putting it straight into a heated pan or oven will destroy a lot of its goodness, as the oil and allicin needs to be released and the necessary chemical reactions started. So don’t be too tasty to get cooking immediately. 

JUST ADD GARLIC…

GARLIC & SPINACH SOUP (serves 1)

Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and add ½ finely chopped onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach and 400ml vegetable stock and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Season to taste, blend with a hand blender and serve.

GARLIC PESTO

Finely chop 3 large garlic bulbs and place in a blender with 4tbsp olive oil, 4tbsp (total) pine nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a large handful of fresh basil. Blend to a fine paste and stir in 150g finely grated Pecorino cheese. You can add more olive oil if it is too thick or dry. Serve over fresh pasta or with meats.

ROASTED GARLIC AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH HOUMOUS

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cut a small butternut squash in half, remove the seeds, rub with olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until soft. About halfway through the cooking of the squash, rub a little olive oil over 2 bulbs of garlic (skin still on) and roast for 20-25 minutes beside the squash. When cooked, scoop the flesh out of the squash and peel the garlic cloves. Place in a blender along with the zest and juice of ½ lemon, and 2tbsp tahini. Blend until a smooth paste and season to taste before serving.

SUPERFOOD STATS

1 clove of garlic (3g) provides you with approximately:
4 calories
0g fat
0g protein
0g carbs
1g fibre

Workout Routines

Get snap happy with the latest way to get your coconut fix

Rock that bikini with pride this summer with these deliciously healthy foods. 

Yo've booked your beach break and bought a new two-piece, but the fear of stripping off has got you panicked. Sound familiar? Then now is the perfect time to kick-start a summer eating plan so you look and feel amazing in time for take-off. 

Quinoa 
This ancient South American grain packs a healthy protein punch, making it an excellent slimming aid. Super-versatile, it can be used to bulk out soups and stews and used in place of your usual carb choice. 

Cherries 
Looking for a fruit that works overtime for your health? Cherries are rich in the antioxidant anthocyanins, which increase fat-fighting enzymes. Plus, these little beauties could maximise workout results by warding off post-exercise muscle pain. 

Salmon 
Want to wage war on wobles? Stock up on salmon when hunger hits. This oily fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep skin cells plump, whilst keeping you full - curbing the the urge to snack.

Garlic 
Wonderful for adding flavour to food, garlic helps the liver to filter out toxins in the body. These pungent cloves are also packed with a molecule called allicin, which helps keep your immune system healthy, reducing the risk of summer sniffles. 

Avocados 
Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados help your body manufacture a compound called glutathione, which is needed to detoxify harmful substances. Plus, the good fat content will help to keep summer skin looking its best while filling you up - so you snack less! 

Strawberries
Nothing says summer quite like a fresh punnet of strawberries, and the good news is that this British seasonal staple is actually a slimming food. They rank low on the glycaemic index, which means they help to control the blood sugar fluctuations responsible for food cravings. Plus, they're a powerhouse of skin-perfecting vitamin C.

Eggs 
Cheap and versatile, eggs are a fab source of appetite-curbing protein, making them a dieter's best bud. A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Obesity reported that eating eggs for brekkie helps to boost weight loss for those following a calorie-controlled diet. 

Lemons 
Lemons are like a magic wand for weight loss. They're detoxifying and help to promote proper digestion, which keeps bloating at bay. If they're not already part of your morning routine, you're missing a trick. Sipping on a mug of hot water and lemon filters away any impurities in your system, boosts the metabolism and keeps your cells hydrated so your skin glows. 

Broccoli 
Make dark green vegetables like broccoli a priority on your plate and the weight will fall off! Why? This green superfood helps your body to flush out everyday environmental chemicals due to its rich sulphur-containing compounds. Steam your veg instead of boiling to keep the nutrient content intact. 

Nuts 
Raw nuts act like a wake-up call for weight loss. Brazil nuts, almonds and cashews are all loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help to speed up the slimming process to get you in swimwear-worthy shape.

Workout Routines

Get snap happy with the latest way to get your coconut fix

If you’re not already a coconut oil fan, these clever sachets from Jax Coco are sure to do the trick.

Containing one of the purest extra virgin coconut oils in the world – and produced in less than two hours after the coconut is dehusked – the beneficial oil in Jax Coco Snaps (£8.99 for 24 sachets) is extracted with a state-of-the-art centrifugal system to retain more of its health-giving nutrients.

Perfect for life on the go, simply grab a single-serving size snap and add to a smoothie, your morning coffee, afternoon tea or evening hot choc. If you’re heading off for an impromptu night out after work, a little coconut oil will tame frizzy hair and give it a brilliant shine. Or, swept across your cheekbones, will bring out the natural pigment in your complexion.

We love! 

Find out more at Jax Coco
Stock up on sachets at Honestly Healthy Food

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Workout Routines

Power your workouts with these easy whey protein recipes

If you’re looking for more interesting and convenient ways toboost your protein intake, why not try incorporating whey protein into your diet? Not only is it easy to digest, it also serves as one of the best sources of protein for immediate muscle repair after working out. Whey is also naturally low in fat and can be a great supplement for weight maintenance.
To help you fuel up, here are three delicious and healthy ways to conveniently add this versatile ingredient to your diet – enjoy!

1) High protein vanilla porridge (serves 1) 
Mix one cup of jumbo oats with two cups of water in a large saucepan and cook on a low heat, stirring frequently. When the oats start to soften, stir in one scoop of vanilla (or chocolate) protein powder. Add a little low-fat milk or water to thin the mixture, stir and remove from the heat, then add your favorite toppings, such as cinnamon, agar nectar, raisins or chopped nuts.

2) Chocolate protein ice cream (serves 2)
Chop one small banana and two large dates and add to a large bowl with 35g of chocolate flavoured whey protein, 1 tbsp of ground almonds, 1/8 cup of cocoa powder and ½ cup of cottage cheese.  Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove the bowl from the freezer and stir the mixture until it becomes thicker and creamier. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, before removing it once more and giving the mixture a final stir and serving.

3) Protein muffins (serves 8)
In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of egg whites, 1/2 cup of goji berries, 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes, 1/2 cup of chocolate hemp protein, 1/4 cup of blueberry and apple puree, 3 tbsp of chestnut flour, 3 tbsp of cocoa powder and 1 tbsp of baking soda until it forms a thick paste. Line a muffin tray with eight paper muffin cases and equally divide the mixture into eight portions. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes at gas mark 3/170°C. Remove from oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes and then serve. 

Let us know how you get on - we would love to know how these turn out for you. We thought they were absolutely delicious!