• 5 Health Myths To Ignore (And Why They're Stopping You From Losing Weight)

    weight loss myths

    The rise of millions of fitness accounts on social media has led to the exponential growth and spread of misinformation when it comes to health, exercise, and weight loss. We tackle some of the most common health myths and explain why they could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. 

    1. Myth: Healthy food is expensive

    myth healthy food is expensive burger vs salad

    You've probably seen the above image in one format or another, especially if you frequent fitness pages on social media. The truth is, it's a complete myth that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk food.

    Have you ever tallied up exactly how much money you spend on food in a month? It's probably a lot more than you realise. Raw fruit and vegetables from the supermarket can cost as little as 50p and healthy canned goods such as kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, and chickpeas can be even less, only 30p per can at some supermarkets.

    The myth that healthy food is more expensive than junk food derives from the fact that many prepared salads and fruit boxes are indeed expensive. However, this is because you are paying for the convenience, not the healthy food. If you cook all of your meals from scratch, you will save heaps of money and you will soon find that eating healthy is actually less expensive than junk food! A homemade salad could easily cost as little as £1 to make. 

    When have you ever only spent 99p at McDonald's? Yes, there are a couple of items on the menu that cost less than £1, but you'd be left feeling very hungry if that's all you ate. You have to be honest with yourself and really keep an eye on the money you are spending on food. It won't be what you expect.

    2. Myth: You need to eat more to lose weight

    eat more to lose weight fitness myths weight loss

    One of the latest trends on social media is to tell women they are not losing weight because they are not eating enough. There's a heavy pressure on women to lift heavy weights and do zero cardio in order to 'tone up' and lose weight. Sadly, this is a myth. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

    If you eat 2300 calories a day, have a BMR of 1500 calories (the calories your body burns just to stay alive), and burn zero calories through exercise because you're not doing any cardio and live a sedentary lifestyle, you will gain weight because you are in a 800 calorie-a-day surplus.

    This myth is propagated by the theory that you need to eat a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. While this is true to an extent, most of the general public live a sedentary lifestyle, sitting at a desk all day, and only exercise maybe 1 hour each evening. The average lifestyle does not allow you to eat 2300 calories a day because you won't be burning them off. You would have to lift a lot of weights and live a much more active lifestyle in order for this calorie surplus to be used to build muscle instead of being stored as fat.

    It's important to remember that these Instagram fitness gurus do not live a sedentary lifestyle and therefore what works for them will not work for you. 

    3. Myth: Your friend is losing more weight than you/is naturally slim because their metabolism is faster

    friend who eats a lot myth metabolism

    If you've been beating yourself up because you can't lose weight while your friend is sailing through their weight loss journey, don't worry, it's not what it seems. While it is scientifically possible to have a slightly faster or slower metabolism than someone else, it would not be enough of a difference to mean you are 10lbs heavier than your friend even if you eat the same.

    People who are 'naturally' slim are this way because they eat less and do more activity. If you were to pay very close attention to what your slim friend eats in a day, it is a guarantee that it will be less than what you eat, even if they claim they eat a lot. 

    Everyone has a BMR which is a Basal Metabolic Rate and this indicates how many calories your body burns just by being alive. This is affected by your age, your gender, and your current weight. Everyone also has a TDEE which is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This figure takes into account your daily activity, as someone who does a very manual job and moves a lot will burn more calories on a daily basis than someone who sits at a desk all day.

    Everyone's BMR and TDEE will be different and therefore the amount of calories you need to eat will be completely different to that of your friend. It won't be because they have 'good genes' or are 'naturally slim', it'll be because their TDEE is higher than yours, meaning they burn more calories on a daily basis than you. 

    4. Myth: A juice cleanse/detox is a quick way to lose weight

    juice cleanse myth

    You may have heard by now that doing a 'detox' is not really a thing, as your body naturally detoxifies itself daily anyway. If your body was full of toxins, you'd be incredibly ill and you'd certainly need more than a juice cleanse to help you.

    The way juice cleanses or detoxes work is that your daily calories plummet and you lose water out of your muscles. You become very dehydrated and the number on the scale goes down. You may well lose some fat too as you are consuming so few calories, but it can't possibly last.

    Not only this, fruit juice is full of sugar which could make you moody, spotty, and generally just a bit cranky. You won't be getting enough protein so you'll feel very tired and fatigued, and you'll be missing out on vital nutrients.

    5. Myth: Everyone should lift heavy and eat more protein

    You will have seen a lot of images on Instagram that propose lifting weights is superior to doing cardio and that everyone should be eating copious amounts of protein in the form of 'protein bread', 'protein oats', and now even 'protein yogurt'. 

    The truth is, it depends entirely on your personal goals and daily activity. If you are training for a marathon or triathlon, these are both entirely cardio-based activities. Of course you'll need to do cardio! Cycling is also a very cardio-heavy activity, but professional cyclists are far from skinny and unhealthy. 

    cyclist muscular cardio vs weights

    Most people do not need a sky-high amount of protein in their daily diet because they live a sedentary lifestyle and their body won't utilise it. Unless you live a truly active lifestyle and lift heavy weights or do strenuous sports 6 times a week, you don't need a ton of protein in your diet.

    This new myth comes from a shift in attitudes towards body types and the new obsession with 'booty gains'. These days, being slim is seen as bad and everyone wants to look like the Instagram fitness gurus. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cardio, and you probably do it more than you think. In fact, doing regular cardiovascular activity is vital for keeping a healthy immune system, lung function, and heart health. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now To Beat The January Blues

    happiness beat the January blues

    They call the third Monday in January 'blue Monday' because it seems that the poor weather, debt accumulated over Christmas, failing our New Year's resolutions and low motivational levels can leave us feeling at our lowest ebb. Here are 5 things you can do right now to pick yourself up and instantly feel better this January.

    1. Get moving

    It may seem obvious, but regular exercise will always be at the top of the list when it comes to getting out of a slump and making yourself feel better. The wonderful thing about exercise is that it releases 'happy' hormones known as endorphins and so even if you're working on 4 hours sleep and feeling rotten from a common cold, doing some exercise – even just something light – will instantly make you feel better. 

    Get out and go for a jog or a walk to brush off the cobwebs and get your heart beating. You'll enjoy that famous 'runner's high' and it will also help to relax you and work off any frustrations you may be holding on to. 

    Read more: Benefits Of Outdoor Training

    health fitness move exercise

    2. Call a relative

    Many of us don't enjoy being forced to spend time with relatives over Christmas, but January can end up being a lonely time if we distance ourselves from everyone around us. Give your parents or siblings a quick phone call to check in on them; if you're feeling low, maybe they are too and hearing your voice will pick them up. We often take our close family for granted, so it's important to check in from time to time. 

    family relatives happiness health

    3. Eat your vegetables

    All of the sugar, fat, salt, and alcohol that you've consumed over the festive period won't be doing your physical or mental well-being any good and chances are you haven't been keeping up your fruit and vegetable intake (Brussels sprouts aside). Make a conscious effort to eat more fruit and vegetables throughout January to top up your micro-nutrients and give your body the best chance at recovering and helping you feel good. 

    Read more: Which Vitamins Should I Be Taking?

    health fitness wellbeing vegetables vitamins

    4. Take a Vitamin D supplement

    On the same note as the previous point, keeping your Vitamin D levels topped up is vital throughout winter months. Taking a Vitamin D supplement can help to boost your mood instantly as well as reducing the likelihood of catching common colds and the flu as it will give your immune system a well needed boost. 

    Read more: Why You Should Be Taking A Vitamin D Supplement This Winter

    sunshine vitamin D health supplements

    5. Meditate

    How often do you take time to slow down and focus on yourself? Getting back to work after the Christmas break can be a real shock to the system and suddenly you have a million things back on your to-do list and 250 unread emails in your inbox. Add this to the stresses of home life and you've got a recipe for disaster. 

    Take some time to meditate, whether this is 5 minutes in the morning or 20 minutes in the evening before bed, it will all make a difference. 

    Read more: What Are The Health Benefits Of Meditation?

    spiritual healing meditation yoga health happiness

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Best Arm Workout For Women

    upper body arm workout for women

    Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.

    Cable Tricep Pull Downs

    This exercise is for isolating the triceps.

    How to perform the tricep pull down

    Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!

    Key exercise tips:

    • Keep the elbows tucked in
    • Fully extend the arms
    • Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up

    Common mistakes:

    • Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
    • Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
    • Going too heavy and using momentum

    tricep pull down exercise arm workout for women

    Battle Ropes

    This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.

    How to use the battle ropes

    Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!

    Key exercise tips:

    • Tense your abs tightly during performance
    • Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
    • Don't hold your breath

    Common mistakes:

    • Sacrificing technique with fatigue
    • Performing the exercise for too long

    battle ropes workout shoulders

    Dumbbell Bicep Curls

    This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.

    How to perform the dumbbell curl

    In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.

    Key exercise tips:

    • Keep your elbow in a fixed position
    • Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement

    Common mistakes:

    • Moving the elbow out of alignment
    • Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
    • Swinging the body with the movement

    biceps curl arm workout gym for women

    Tricep Bench Dips

    This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.

    How to perform the tricep bench dip

    Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.

    Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.

    Key exercise tips:

    • Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
    • Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
    • Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
    • If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor

    Common mistakes:

    • Rounding/curving back
    • Not going low enough
    • Hyperextending the elbows

    tricep dips workout arm blast bingo wings

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Crossfit Open 16.1

    Crossfit Open Barbell Workout AMRAP WOD

    The Crossfit Open is the first stage of qualifying for The Crossfit Games. To learn more about the basics of Crossfit and to understand the jargon used in this article, read our article on Crossfit here.

    The Crossfit Open workout 16.1 is the first workout of the 2016 open and it's not for the faint hearted.

    The WOD

    20 minutes AMRAP 

    • 25-ft. overhead walking lunge (5ft per rep)
    • 8 burpees
    • 25-ft. overhead walking lunge
    • 8 chest-to-bar pull-ups

    Rx

    Men lunge 95 lbs (42.5kg), Women lunge 65 lbs (30kg)

    Athlete Results

    Emily Abbott, who took 8th place last year, completed a mighty 290 reps in this WOD! 

    We spoke to our personal trainers competing in this year's games to see what they made of this year's first challenge.

    Personal trainer Liam Scott, 26, from Crossfit Southeast Witham, has been training 6 times a week, rotating strength, skill and endurance as well as completing WODs and previous open workouts in preparation for this year's challenge. Liam gave himself a trial run competing in The Icon Online Championship last month, where he took 34th place. Prior to the games, he told us, “I’m excited for the open to get started and see what crazy stuff is in store for us over the next 5 weeks, preparations have been going well!” 

    “The moment I saw 16.1, I knew it would be a great test. Overhead walking lunges are a rather difficult exercise and with 42.5kg overhead, let’s just say it’s not going to get any easier. I watched Emily Abbott do the workout live via the Crossfit website which got me more excited” he said.

    There were 10 other athletes competing from Liam’s box, which created a great atmosphere with all the competitors spurring each other on.

    “When I noticed that the other guys were scaling and using 30kg front rack lunges and only getting 6 rounds it made me more nervous about my turn, but on the beeps I started with my power snatch to get the 42.5kg above my head and the first 25ft walking lunges began. They were definitely the hardest part of the workout, but once I’d done 2 rounds I started to relax a lot more, like everything I’d been working towards was starting to come together.”

    Liam completed a whopping 205 reps, his legs were cramping and he even had to go outside in fear of being sick, but he didn’t give in. When we asked how he felt the rest of the day, he joked "it wasn’t too pleasant either”.

    In true macho competitor style, Liam was chuffed to have beaten his best friend and coach's score. He told us he is “confident for the rest of the open” and is currently sitting around 600th in England. 

    Crossfit Box Open Workout WOD Lunges

    Our female athlete Beth, 42, is a Personal Trainer and a great lover of the outdoors. She has been Crossfit training for two years but this was the first open which she completed without scaling the workouts. At just over 5ft, Beth has well and truly proved herself small and mighty.

    She told us, “16.1 was a good workout for me. My first RX! The overhead lunges were not a problem nor the burpees. I have only just started being able to do chest-to-bar pull ups so these were the real challenge as the rounds progressed.” Despite having to go down to singles there was no stopping Beth and she gave it her all until the very last rep.

    “Overhead lunges are a challenging move for the shoulders and core primarily more than the legs, well in my case anyway. It was good to see them included.”

    “I never push myself over the edge...I'm too old now and it takes too long to recover” she joked. When we asked her about her aches, she rather modestly told us they “weren't too bad”. Clearly, age is just a number because Beth could outperform women half her age and twice her height with her inspirational performance.

    Crossfit 16.1 has no age limit, whether you're 26 or 42, what the Crossfit open shows is that if you’re prepared to work, it pays off. The diversity of entrants and spontaneity of the workouts are what makes the open so exciting. 

    If you want to try Crossfit yourself but are intimidated by the challenge why not scale down the workout and give it a try next time you're at the gym, without the pressure of competing? It's a great workout and is really good fun, as well as being very rewarding. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • When Is The Best Time Of Day To Exercise?

    running in the morning when is the best time to exercise

    Sundried ran a poll and found that out of 256 people, 174 of them prefer to train in the morning while 82 prefer to train in the evening. But does it make a difference to performance? Or is it just personal preference? We take a look.

    Best time of day to exercise for maximum weight loss

    While there is no conclusive proof that training before breakfast aids weight loss, it is true that working out in the morning sets you up for a good day and will leave you burning more calories over the course of the day. However, after firing up your metabolism early in the morning, you will find that you are hungrier than normal throughout the day, so make sure you don't reverse the positive effects by overeating to compensate.

    Another benefit to working out in the morning is that you are more likely to have more energy and therefore work harder during your training. As such, you will unconsciously burn more calories than you would doing a half-hearted workout after a tough day at work.

    treadmill running fasted cardio

    Best time to exercise to gain muscle

    Studies have found that the body's strength and flexibility is actually at its peak in the late afternoon and that this is also the time when our perceived exertion rate (how difficult we find the workout) is at its lowest, meaning you are more likely to find the workout easier at this time. 

    That said, if you have been sat at a desk under artificial lights all day, chances are you will be tired and hungry and going to do a big strength session will be the last thing you want to do. 

    Research has actually found that the body adapts to regular workout times, so if you always hit the gym after work at 6pm, it will eventually perform better at that time than any other time of day. The best thing you can do, therefore, is go when suits you and make sure you eat plenty throughout the day to fuel you ready for your big session after work.

    strength workout best time of day to exercise

    Is it better to train on an empty stomach?

    Research is inconclusive on whether training fasted actually has any benefits when it comes to losing weight. However, if you are a long-distance endurance athlete, such as training for a marathon, doing fasted cardio is good for training your body to undergo exertion with low glycogen stores. What this does is prepare you both physically and mentally for those times in endurance work when you are running low on sugar stores.

    However, by training fasted you will compromise on performance and you will most certainly find your workout harder. Therefore, it is good to train on an empty stomach every now and then to prepare for endurance sports, but other than that there is no proof to support training on an empty stomach for any other reason.

    Related: Should I Train Fasted?

    jumping lunges workout fasted

    Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening?

    So, it seems there are arguments for working out both in the morning and the evening. In the end it will always come down to personal choice.

    Benefits of training in the morning

    • You will be more fresh and ready to train
    • You can train fasted before breakfast
    • You will burn more calories throughout the day
    • You won't need to worry about fitting in a workout after work
    • You are less likely to skip your workout

    Benefits of training in the evening

    • Research shows we are stronger and more flexible at this time
    • You will not be rushed for time
    • You are more likely to be able to train with a buddy
    • You will benefit from the extra energy of eating throughout the day
    • You are more likely to sleep better

    running at night

    Posted by Alexandra Parren