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Motivation is the key to success

This week's post is a guest post, from Holly Barry, who has written a great piece for us all about motivation, especially when sticking to those New Years goals.
 

MOTIVATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

New Year always grants us with new resolutions which primarily focus on shifting that winter weight. But, a healthy lifestyle offers so much more than weight loss. By feeling rejuvenated, you will feel more inclined to persevere with the gym or exercise you have chosen, and stick to eating those colourful foods which will be sure to boost your general health, mental health, appearance and self-esteem. Here are some reasons to adopt healthy habits to help get you motivated for making small, healthy changes.

1: Eat better = feel better

Adopting some simple lifestyle changes in terms of what we eat and how much exercise we take can have a really positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Our diet and activity levels can affect muscle strength, coordination, stamina and concentration levels, and even simple changes can have a dramatic effect.

Cutting down on sugary snacks and foods that are high in processed fats is a simple way to improve your diet. Going cold turkey is unlikely to be successful over the longer term, so instead, try to replace sweet treats with nuts and fruit, and try to adopt an 80/20 approach to what you eat. If 80% of your food intake is healthy, there’s room in the remaining 20% for the occasional sweet treat or indulgence.

It pays to approach exercise in a gentle way too, gradually building up the length of time you spend exercising and the intensity of the exercise itself. That way, you build your strength up and stay motivated.

2: Looking after your heart health

Making a resolution to lose weight and eat more healthily will have an impact on your overall health, particularly your heart. Maintaining an optimum body weight and taking regular exercise can both help reduce the risks of developing cardiovascular disease.

The British Heart Foundation and the NHS recommend that adults try to achieve 150 active minutes a week, which is less than 25 minutes a day. For time to count as ‘active’, your activity needs to warm you up and make you feel a little out of breath. You don’t have to sign up for a gym membership though, as simple things like brisk walking, dancing or exercising at home can all count towards that target of 150 minutes of activity.

As winter is the busiest time for the NHS, with resources stretched to the limit, there’s even more of an incentive at this time of the year to get fit and stay healthy.

3: Healthier Skin

Our skin is perhaps the most visible sign of Christmas over-indulgence and harsh winter weather. If you want your skin to look fresh and healthy, you need to pay attention to the foods you eat, as healthy eating can provide long-lasting benefits. All that processed food you ate over Christmas means that your skin has been starved of the minerals and nutrients it really needs. Crash diets won’t help restore your skin’s vitality, as they rarely offer a balanced intake of nutrients. Instead, concentrate on eating your five-a-day, making sure you get plenty of food that is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as spinach, sweet potatoes, blueberries and tomatoes.

Healthy skin also needs plenty of moisture, as without it, skin will quickly look dry, pale and taut. Ensure you drink lots of fresh water, and try to avoid sugary, fizzy drinks and alcohol. Keeping a bottle of mineral water with you at all times is a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day.


Healthy eating and regular exercise play such a vital role in keeping us in shape, both mentally and physically. We literally are what we eat, and bad habits can have an effect on our entire bodies inside and out. Trying to eat well and exercise regularly is more than just a New Year’s resolution - it’s a lifestyle change that we should all strive for, and one that will repay us every day for the rest of our lives.

4: Shiny Hair

We all know only too well how much damage the winter months can do to our skin, but we often forget about our hair at this time of year. Hair can suffer just as much during the winter - whether from lack of nutrition caused by poor diets over the festive season, or from cold, wet weather and the effects of constant central heating.

There are plenty of things you can do though, to boost your hair’s health. Healthy eating can play a vital role in helping you achieve great-looking hair, with some foods providing essential nutrients and minerals to really strengthen your hair and make it shine. By identifying which foods can boost hair health, you can easily incorporate them into your healthy eating regime, for visible and long-lasting benefits.

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Oranges vs OJ

Good morning and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Did you manage to fit in some exercise? How was your motivation in the cold temperatures?

Speaking of cold, now that the temperature has dropped a few degrees, it will be important to try to avoid winter colds.  A lot of people reach for orange juice to boost their Vitamin C intake.  However drinking juice is not necessarily the best way of increasing your Vitamin C.
 
Instead, increase your fluid intake, eat more vegetables that are high in Vitamin C (particularly red peppers, kale and broccoli) and sleep more to help prevent colds.
 
Fruit juice is often in debate about whether it is healthy or not, especially for those trying to lose weight.  If you want to lose weight or are struggling to keep consistent weight loss, the best advice I can give you is to avoid fruit juice.  Fruit juices are high-carbohydrate and high-sugar. Even though they’re “good for you” there are better sources of nutrients with much less sugar (or none at all).  Eat fruit and vegetables, don’t drink them.  

But why is orange juice not ideal to be having regularly?
 
The key issue is a lack of fibre. When we eat fruit, the fibre forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine, slowing down the absorption of sugar. The high sugar content obtained from the digestion of fruit juice can elevate your blood sugar levels, which in turn stimulate your pancreas to produce insulin. The more carbohydrates you eat at once, the higher your insulin levels are likely to increase. For example, your insulin levels will increase more after having a large banana and orange juice compared to after eating an egg and glass of milk, which is much lower in carbohydrate. Having other carbohydrates at the same time, such as a  a slice of bread or cereal, can also further increase your insulin levels.  If this blood sugar is not used for activity/body function, it may get stored as fat to use 'later'.  If you are very active or not trying to lose weight, this is not generally a problem as you are using the energy that you are consuming.

Oranges themselves are an excellent source of vitamin C, just one large orange contains a full day’s dose. Vitamin C is critical for producing white blood cells and antibodies that fight off infections; it’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage and plays a key role in producing skin-firming collagen.

Oranges are also high in fiber and folate.  They contain on average:

60 calories for one, 12.5g of sugar, 3.1g fibre
116% of your recommended intake of Vitamin C.

Compare this to orange juice:
 
250ml: 125 calories, 25g of sugar, 0.6g of fibre
200% of your daily recommendation of Vitamin C.
 
Compare this to 1 slice of wholemeal bread (which people often cut out to try to reduce carbs):
 
80 calories, 15g of carbohydrates, 1.5g sugar, 2g of fibre

Please do ask me any questions at all if you want to know more.

Have a 

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Just how important is diet and exercise to improve your heart?

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope you've had a great week so far. We've had a busy week here at Clinical Exercise - lots of new enquiries, lots of fab chat over on our Healthy Hearties Facebook group, a HUGE batch cooking session on Monday (fish pie, fish chowder and fish cakes - yes a lot of fish this week!) and an old client has returned from overseas and is getting restarted on his exercise programme.

This week I'm talking all about Heart Health - obviously I'm always talking about heart health but I wanted to really focus on what you can do to ensure you are reducing your risk of having future heart problems.  This is particularly relevant if you have a history of heart problems in the family or if you are recovering from a heart event or currently have a heart condition.

There are so many do's and don'ts to look after your heart - below are the top 5 things you should be doing to ensure your heart is in tip top condition.

Also, this week I have a simple exercise that you can do any time of day to tone up the back of your arms - easy!

heartheart.jpg

Looking after your heart

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the world’s biggest killer, causing over 17 million deaths a year and many of these deaths are preventable through lifestyle changes.

Most people know someone or have themselves been directly affected by heart disease and a lot of times it is avoidable by changing lifestyle habits. If you've had heart problems in the past it's never to late to make improvements to improve your health for the future.

Simple changes in diet by reducing your salt intake and eliminating processed foods from your diet and trying to get a couple of hours of exercise a day can make a huge difference.
 
A healthy diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart, the introduction of a healthy diet also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s not too late to start eating healthily.
 
To help prevent heart disease here are five ways to change your lifestyle and take better care of your heart.

1. Follow the Mediterranean diet

A 2013 study showed the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 30% and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart, the diet also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s NEVER too late to start eating healthily. Recent attention has been drawn to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet by cardiologist Aseem Malhotra who has recently filmed the ‘Cereal Killers Movie’ about his quest to find out the secret to a long life in the Mediterranean. Check it out here.

2.  Reduce salt
 
Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Reduce your consumption of crisps, take aways, packaged snack foods and processed sauces. As a cardiac nurse this is one of the biggest misconceptions people have – they think if they don’t add salt to their food then their diet is low in salt.  However salt is hidden in so many things you wouldn’t even think – cans of tuna, ham, tomato paste and roasted peanuts.  Always check the label – if a serving size contains more than 10% of your daily recommended intake, avoid or reduce the amount you have.

3.  Say no to processed foods
 
There are lots of hidden saturated fats, sugars and salts in processed food, fast food and ready meals.  Even foods that may appear ‘healthy’ traditional meals such as lasagne are usually made with cheap ingredients and are laden with salt. I would strongly advise people to check the content of the ingredients of any food they buy and start cooking from scratch together – it’s more fun too!

4.  Quit smoking
 
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to have heart disease with all the health issues it causes it is the most important thing you can do for your heart. Try a nicotine replacement to reduce your cravings – electronic cigarettes, patches, gum or lozenges are a great help when you’re quitting.

5.  Exercise more

The heart is the most important muscle and just a small amount of exercise will keep it functioning properly. Exercising for as little as ten minutes a day can make a huge difference. If you haven’t exercised for some time start out with gentle walking and build up – we should be aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.

Aim to improve in one of the above areas each week and you’ll soon be on your way to a healthy heart.

Let me know if you have any specific questions at all!

Exercise of the week - Tricep Dips


1.  Sit up straight on the long edge of a stable, heavy chair or a bench. Your legs should be slightly extended, with your feet flat on the floor.
2. Place your hands on both sides of the bench just outside your thighs. Your palms should be down, fingertips pointing towards the floor.
3. Without moving your legs, bring your bottom forward off the bench.
4. Steadily lower yourself. Beginners: Bend your elbows 1-2 inches and push yourself back up. Advanced: When your elbows form 90˚ angles, push yourself back up to starting position.
5. Repeat up to 10 reps, rest and then repeat up to 2-3 times.

Some people find that this exercise is too much on their wrist joints. If so, you may need to change the exercise to triceps kickbacks, which we will cover in the next couple of weeks.

Do let me know if you have any questions at all!

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Travelling with a heart condition

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Travelling with a heart condition

As Christmas gets closer, a question I'm often asked is about travelling with a heart condition. Is it safe? Is there anywhere I shouldn't go? Any foods I should avoid? Can I get travel insurance? What do I do if I don't feel well? Will I be allowed to take all of my medications on the plane?

Travel can bring out all sorts of questions, concerns and anxieties and of course every person is different so often my answer is 'it depends'.

Can you answer 'yes' to all of the following:

  • Is your condition currently stable and you aren't awaiting any test results or treatment?
  • Has your doctor told you that you are safe to travel?
  • Have you been taking the same medications for a while and any side effects have reduced or stabilised?
  • Does the place you are going to have a hospital or good medical facility close to it?
  • Can you email/phone your doctor or health team if you have any questions?
  • Do you know what to do if you are going to an extreme temperature? eg hydration, keeping out of the sun etc
  • Have you told your travel insurance and will they cover you for heart related problems whilst you are away?

Here are some insurance companies that seem to cover for heart conditions - you will need to talk to them to find out more about what is included:

Some tips while you are away:

  • Pack a copy of your latest medical report with a summary of your health conditions and medications.
  • Ask your doctor if there's anything you should be aware of (or any activities you should avoid).
  • Take all of your medications in your carry-on luggage with your medical letter/list (just in case your luggage gets lost!).
  • If you are travelling to a hot country, take a few days to adjust to the warmer weather - spend the first few days in the shade and avoiding the peak of the sun (10-4pm) so that your body can adjust.
  • Keep an eye on your weight /fluid retention by looking at your ankles for any swelling, how your clothes are fitting (or your weight if there is scales).
  • If your weight seems to be increasing, you may need to take an extra diuretic or adjust the fluid you are drinking (ask your doctor before you go what you should do).
  • Increase your fluid intake based on how much you are sweating, how hot it is and how much activity you are doing - probably lots more than usual if you are out exploring!
  • Avoid too much alcohol - it's dehydrating and can affect your medications. It's easy to over-indulge on holidays but try to stick to your usual routine and don't overdo it.
  • Call your nurse/doctor if you have concerns while you are away - they are more than happy to give you some advice over the phone about what to do.
  • Relax and enjoy! It may be hard at first but the risk of any heart problems occurring while you are away is low. Try to enjoy yourself!
  • Don't forget your exercise - if you can, choose a room which has a comfortable temperature - if it is very hot, you may need to do some simple exercises in your air conditioned hotel room. Or go swimming! If you are going to a very cold country, the same principle applies - the room shouldn't be too hot/cold.

Let me know if you'd like me to put together a 'travel circuit' for you to do while you are away!

Until next time....

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How much sugar are you really eating?

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How much sugar are you really eating?

This week is all about sugar - we've been through the reasons why it's bad for you (leads to insulin resistance, fat gain inflammation and can damage the arteries), so this week I wanted you to take a little test for me. Download the app My Fitness Pal  on your phone (or you can use it on your computer)- https://www.myfitnesspal.com/.

Once you've got a profile (it's free to use), fill in your daily food and drink intake for a few days. Include sauces, condiments etc.

Here's a sample of what it looks like:

Next, take a look at the breakdown - go into the 'nutrition' section and have a look at the breakdown. Click on 'nutrients' and it will give you a breakdown of how much protein, carbohydrate, sugar and fat you are consuming. 

For the purpose of today just look at the sugar - what does it say? Your profile will set a target range of sugar for you to be having each day. Are you close to your target or way over? Have a look at the foods that may be the culprit - it's not always as obvious as avoiding sugar in your tea and not eating chocolate. Here is a list of products which are high in sugar which you may have thought were 'healthy':

  • Muesli or granola (aim for one that has less than 15g of sugar per 100g)
  • Yoghurt (aim for less than 5g of sugar per 100g)
  • Juice (can contain up to 25g of sugar in a small glass)
  • Sauces especially sweet chilli and tomato sauce
  • Dressings - particularly ones that are fat free
  • Baked beans - the second ingredient is often sugar!
  • Pre made meals - even the 'healthy' ones can contain a lot of added sugar

So you see how easy it is to add up. Have a look at the ingredients on the foods you buy - check out if sugar is on the ingredients list. The higher up the list (i.e. if it's in the top 5 ingredients) then it is usually high in sugar.

Try to avoid as much added sugar as you can. There's nothing good to say about it! Stick to foods that are unprocessed and still in their 'natural' form. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, lean proteins and some good fats like avocado, olive oil etc. If you are worried about your food lacking flavour then try adding chilli, herbs, pepper, pesto etc to liven things up.

Check out this website for more ideas on how to reduce sugar:
https://iquitsugar.com/recipe/

Until next time....

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Can Trump at least fix the obesity crisis?

What a night/morning - big news across the world today and what an interesting few years ahead for all of us. 

One thing I was interested in was what Trump's policy on health and the obesity crisis in the US and what he proposes to help turn the problem around.

Hmmm... it's not looking good for this side of things. At the moment, the US spends almost $322 billion every year on treating Type 2 diabetes. And that’s for a single disease that’s almost entirely preventable through a healthier diet and lifestyle (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/infographics/adv-staggering-cost-of-diabetes.html).

Trump does not have a policy or plan on tackling the obesity or diabetes problem, in fact, he doesn't really have a plan on improving the health of the US at all. In questions that he's been asked about health, Trump has stated he supports mass meat production regardless of the treatment/health of the animals, doesn't mind GMO food and believes global warming is a made up phenomenon - he tweeted 'The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.'  Also, he doesn't know much about obesity, blaming poor genetics and lack of exercise(rather than the poor diet that a lot of Americans eat). 


Let's hope that we can spread the message about how to improve health so that people can take control of their own, as it doesn't look like much will change for the better in this department for a while!

It's not easy, but the key message we need to be teaching the world is: eat mostly fresh, natural foods that having been altered by processing. Limit meat to a few servings per week, drink plenty of water, avoid foods with artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners and exercise regularly. Sounds simple but can be a big challenge when our habits have been one way for so long. 

What do you think?

Food of the week

This week's 'Fruit of the Week' is the Clementine.

A clementine is often just thought of as a small orange, but they are a fruitlike no other!  The small fruit's size makes it a comfortable fit inside a handbag or a packed lunch, there are no seeds and they are easy to peel.  Out of the refrigerator, a clementine lasts for two to three days, so you can leave a few in your office or on your table and they are less messy than an orange, making it an easy snack. 

They are also packed full of nutritional benefits such as….

  • A Clementine contains a good amount vitamin C, which is necessary for the production of collagen, a structural compound throughout the body, from the skin to the bones.  Vitamin C helps to transport fat to cells to convert it to energy and even helps convert cholesterol into bile, which can play a role in protecting one from heart disease and gall stones.  Since humans cannot produce their own vitamin C within the body, we need to consume it from an outside source.
  •  Clementines also contain calcium, which is necessary for muscle contraction and bone growth
  • Clementines are also a source of potassium, but contain much less sugar than a banana
  • They also contain only 35 calories each so make a great snack.  Try having one with a handful of cashews for full healthy snack status

HEART FACT OF THE WEEK
WHAT IS YOUR HEART AGE?


Here is a handy calculator to assess your 'heart age' - it adds up your risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke and gives you an age based on your health.

Let me know if it says you are much younger or older than your 'real' age - if it's older than we can look at ways of bringing your heart age down.

Click HERE to take the test.  Let me know your score!

 

Have a great week! Please let me know if you have any questions at all.

Kind regards,

Angela Hartley

Cardiac Specialist Nurse, Nutritionist, Exercise Coach

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Week 3 & 4 of Mike's journey - let's catch up with him!

First - a set back. Last week Mike had a follow up appointment with the Electrophysiologist who performed his ablation. Mike was worried that he was still having several runs of atrial fibrillation (AF). His consultant confirmed from Mike's AliveCor readings (a nifty little gadget you can use at home to measure your heart rate) that he was having several runs of AF every week.

Read more about Mike's journey up until now - Week 1, Week 2.

The good news - this is normal in the weeks after an ablation. Often the heart takes several weeks to settle down and may in fact never stay in sinus rhythm completely. The difficulty with AF is the unpredictability of it - some patients have no symptoms at all, some feel rubbish.

Mike doesn't feel rubbish for our exercise sessions - he's motivated to just 'get on with it'. We start this week with a longer warm up - when you are in AF exercise can feel more difficult and thus a long warm up can help the heart to prepare for exercise much better.  Keeping an eye on Mike's breathing, we were able to complete 9 different exercises - a combination of lower body and upper body. By alternating between an arm and a leg exercise, it means we don't need to rest as much as legs rest whilst the arms are working and vice versa.

This week Mike completed over 40 minutes of exercise without stopping and without feeling breathless. Add this to his homework that he's been sticking to - walking every day and a couple of games of golf last month and he is getting on track to improving his fitness.

Next week we will aim to increase the amount of cardio that Mike completes in one go - our end target is 30 minutes so each week we will add a few minutes until he is able to sustain 30 minutes of continuous cardio work.

Mike thought he couldn't exercise again - he's proven himself wrong week after week. Although it seems like a long road, after 4 weeks he is already doing 40 minutes of exercise in one go - way more than he thought possible!

Follow/Like us on Facebook to get regular updates on Mike's progress! 

Yours in health,

Angela Hartley

Team Leader of the Healthy Hearties!

Read more about our programmes here.

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Eggsellent breakfast ideas!

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope you are having a great week so far.

I'm keeping this week's email short and sweet - I've just read some statistics that Wednesdays are the most productive of the week and you are all busy with heads down on a Wednesday! Apparently the least productive day is a Monday morning (obvious!) followed by Thursday and Friday afternoons. Let me know if that's true for you too!

If I can get organised enough then next week's email should be hitting you on a Monday morning :)

Food of the week

This week’s ‘Food of the Week’ is the humble egg.  Now, eggs have received a bad rep over the last few years – often overlooked for their fat content and deemed as bad for the cholesterol, people often shy away from eating eggs.

It was previously thought that eggs raised blood cholesterol levels - one of the main causes of heart disease. The yolk in a single large egg contains five grams of fat, so it was only natural for nutritionists to assume that eggs clogged up people's arteries, especially since they also contain dietary cholesterol. 
 
However, evidence is now showing that eating a lot of dietary cholesterol doesn't increase blood cholesterol.  A 25-year study revealed that people who consume two eggs each day with low-fat diets do not show signs of increased blood cholesterol levels. 
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/
 
So what does raise blood cholesterol? One of the main theories is that saturated fat does.  Of the three types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.  It so happens that eggs contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, which can actually lower blood cholesterol if one replaces food containing saturated fat with eggs.
 
Other benefits of eating eggs are below:

  • Eggs are great for the eyes.  According to recent studies, an egg a day may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts due to the carotenoid content, specifically and zeaxanthin.  Both nutrients are more readily available to our bodies from eggs than from other sources.
  • One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids
  • According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke and heart attack.
  • Eggs are a good source of choline, which is an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.
  • Eggs contain the right kind of fat.  One egg contains just 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated fat.  One egg (including yolk) contains 90 calories – a hardboiled egg is the perfect snack!
  • Eggs are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D, something most of us are deficient in if we don't get enough sunlight
  • Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulphur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals.  Many people find their hair growing faster after adding eggs to their diet, especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulphur or B12. 

Having eggs for breakfast once or twice a week, a hard boiled egg for a mid morning snack regularly and having an omelette for dinner once a week is a way of bringing more eggs into your diet.  Having them as part of a full English breakfast is not what I'm promoting!

Try the following tasty breakfasts:

  • 2 eggs scrambled with one large slice smoked salmon and 1/4 avocado
  • 2 poached eggs on 1 piece rye bread
  • 2 eggs whisked with a splash of milk - pour into a medium heat pan with some melted coconut oil, sprinkle over some chopped veg - spinach,peppers, mushroom etc. Cook until bottom is set and top is still runny, then place under grill for 2-3 minutes until top is also cooked. Easy omlette!

Let me know any other ideas you have.

Have a wonderful week and see you soon!

 

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Tea on the green...

Good morning and Happy Wednesday!

I hope you are having a great week so far. Did you watch the US Presidential Debate? What did you think? Staying up until 3am watching it was certainly different to my usual choice of television (Grey's Anatomy, Home and Away, Location Location Location). Yes guilty of watching rubbish so thought I'd try to understand more about the Presidential race. I still don't understand it! Seems to have become a media race to see who has more 'pizazz' more than anything. Let me know if you predict Trump to win and what you predict will happen if he does! To use some of Trump's fabulous words - I'm not trying to be Bragalicious but I'm getting really busy! Do speak to me if you'd like some extra support with your exercise or nutrition. I'd love to help you in a Bigly way. Isn't he just great for entertainment value?!

This week's I am talking all about green tea and it's benefits. I've also put in a great exercise for your arms and of course the Heart Fact of the Week.

Have a fab week and keep sending me your ideas please!

 

Food of the week

Green tea

This week's 'Food of the Week' is actually a drink – Green Tea.

All types of tea come from the camellia sinensis plant.  The differences stem from the way the leaves are dried and processed.  The key active ingredients in green tea leaves are called flavonoids; they belong to the catechin family, which is a powerful antioxidant.     

In some tests, catechins were found to be more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties.  

Additional benefits include:

  1. May bring down your heart disease and cancer risk: Green tea’s powerful antioxidants have been found to reduce some types of lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, stroke and heart attack risks. To add an extra boost, squeeze in a lemon — the vitamin C helps your body absorb more of the antioxidants.
  2. Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure: Three cups a day has been shown to help bring down blood pressure and cholesterol when used in combination with a healthy diet.
  3. Help you lose weight faster. Drink a cup before your workout and you might boost your fat burn. Studies suggest that the caffeine frees fatty acids so you can burn fat more easily. The tea’s antioxidants might also work together with the caffeine to help you burn more calories.
  4. Prevent arthritis. Imbibing green tea daily might help keep your joints healthy, preliminary research suggests.
  5. Keep allergies at bay. Japanese researchers found that the compound EGCG (the same one that might fight hepatitis C) found in green tea may help stop your body from reacting to allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust.
  6. Less caffeine than coffee:  One cup of green tea contains around 25mg of caffeine compared to 100-150mg per cup of coffee.

In all of the studies on green tea, the tea-drinking group were consuming 3-5 cups per day.  This may be difficult to achieve, so start with one cup per day and work up to replacing a few teas or coffees with green tea throughout the week.  If you aren't sure about the taste, try adding a squeeze of lemon.

A note about medications:
 

Blood Thinning Medications (Including Aspirin) -- People who take warfarin, a blood thinning medication, should not drink green tea. Since green tea contains vitamin K, it can make warfarin less effective. Meanwhile, you should not mix green tea and aspirin because they both prevent platelets from clotting. Using the two together may increase your risk of bleeding.
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/greentea

 

Exercise of the Week

Seated Row

The seated row is one of the most effective exercises for targeting your back muscles.  Because this exercise is a compound exercise, involving more than one joint, it also activates several other muscles as well.  The main muscles you will activate include your erector spinae in your lower back, your middle and lower trapezius in your upper back, your rhomboids and latissimus dorsi in your middle back and your teres major in your outer back. You will also strengthen your shoulder muscles, your biceps and your chest.

How to perform:

  1. Sit on a chair or bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.  Use either a resistance band around a pole (or have someone hold the middle of the band for you) or a cable machine if you have access to a gym.
  2. Keep your back straight and hold one handle in each hand with your palms facing each other and thumbs wrapped around the handles. Your armsshould be straight and your shoulders pulled back and down.
  3. Engage your core and abdominal muscles. Keep the spine as tall and straight as possible.
  4. Pull the handles towards you, bending at the elbows until the handles reach your sides. Keep your elbows close to your body. Do not lean back from the hips, arch your back or shrug your shoulders during your pull.
  5. Squeeze the shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  6. Slowly straighten your elbows to return to starting position. Do not allow your torso to round or your shoulders to shift forward.
  7. Repeat 10-12 times and perform 3 sets.

et me know if you have any questions at all.

Have a great week!

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Week 2 with Mike!

His heart approves!

His heart approves!

Welcome to our Week 2 update all about Mike, who has started his new exercise regime and has a new bounce in his step after just one week. That's what more confidence can do for you and I'm so happy that he's feeling much more positive this week.

If you missed week 1 and want to know more about why Mike has started training with me (he has AF) and what the Week 1 assessment looked like, click HERE to read all about it.

Last week's homework for Mike was pretty straightforward, all he had to do was wear a step counter every day for a week and then I would take a look at what his 'everyday' activity levels looked like. This is the step counter I always recommend as it's cheap, the battery lasts for ages and it stores 7 days worth of steps.

The steps that Mike had done over the last week really varied. On sunday when it rained all day, he did 2000 steps, however on Tuesday which was a beautiful day, he hit 11,000! The average over the entire week was 7000, which is a great start and means that Mike is actually much more active than he thought. Mike's target to hit over the coming weeks is a daily average of 10,000. It is different for every person, however I believe that 10,000 is a realistic target based on what he's already doing.

For this week's session, we didn't need to do any big assessments or lots of talking - although there is always lots of questions from me throughout! We did a quick blood pressure and heart rate check and I looked at Mike's AliveCor readings for the last week. AliveCor is a fabulous little machine that you stick to your iphone and it can tell you what your heart rhythm is doing and whether you are in AF. They are a nifty little device and I alway recommend people with rhythm problems, particularly AF, to get one. You can buy them cheaply here.

Unfortunately the AliveCor showed that Mike has still been having regular bouts of AF. He could tell when he was in AF as he felt more tired and had less motivation to do things. This is one of the common complaints of AF - as the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body, and the heart rate is higher than normal, it makes you feel more tired, like you've been running a marathon all day!For Mike his AF spontaneously came and went. We looked at some common triggers (alcohol, caffeine, stress) however he couldn't say one particular thing set it off.

Mike was in AF during our session. This means that he can still exercise, however the most important thing is we keep an eye out for his energy levels, his breathing and his blood pressure. It is safe to exercise when in AF and in fact, just walking around doing your every day activity is exercise, so don't lose hope that you can do more!

We started out slowly, getting warmed up for 10 minutes before moving on to some great exercises for the lower body. The legs have the biggest muscles in the body, so by building leg muscle, it helps to burn more body fat, supports the whole body, gives you more energy when out walking and makes the body feel stronger and improves your posture.

During the session, if Mike became uncomfortable with his breathing, we slowed things down without stopping. This meant that he could catch his breath, feel more comfortable and then increase again. We aimed to build up to working at an intensity of 6 out of 10, with 10 being the maximum effort he could imagine. A 6 should feel like you are working but comfortable. 

I always encourage people to leave some 'fuel in the tank' and so we never aim to finish a session exhausted. It's important that they can get on with their day and complete their normal every day activities without feeling wiped out.

This week's homework is to replicate the session we did once over the next week, as well as aiming to walk an average of 7500 steps every day. I've reminded Mike that if he feels tired, he should always choose rest over pushing himself and can always do something the following day. 

Next week: we aim to build up to 35 minutes of exercise and will add in some upper body exercises that he can do without any equipment at home.

Making exercise realistic is all part of the fun, there's no point having fancy equipment if you hate using it!

Making exercise realistic is all part of the fun, there's no point having fancy equipment if you hate using it!

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