Tag Archives: weight loss

Fitness – It’s all in the game

14 Dec

My avatar

Having spent weeks playing Gears of War 3 on the Xbox I thought I would look into the world of exercise gaming.

While Nintendo lead the way with this type of gaming with their Wii Fit, Playstation and Xbox have now caught up offering their own get-fit-at-home games. I would even argue that Xbox has gone one better with their Kinect, which leaves your hands free from controllers so that you can use apparatus during the game.

Having seen EA Active 2 on Xbox being sold for just £10 (bargain), I decided to give it a go.  Luckily I already had a Kinect, but if you don’t, you’ll need one.

It’s simple enough to set up and by using the Kinect sensor you get a pretty realistic avatar straight off, so no faffing around trying to find the right pair of eyes, hair or nose. Although its a little creepy. At first, I got the niggling feeling that ‘the Matrix starts here…’, but don’t let my over active imagination put you off.

Once you have your avatar in place you have to enter in a lot of data, which takes a bit of time, but that’s only the set up, so do it once and then let the Xbox work its magic. The only thing I would say about this part is that it could be a little more constructive. Having updated that I hadn’t eaten any healthy food or done any exercise the day before, I was told that I was making good lifestyle choices. As it only took the day before into consideration, I would have to disagree.

Once I was set up I picked my personal trainer. There are two options, cardio and tone or flexibility (yoga, pilates, etc). I went for cardio and tone and picked the hardest setting, which I came to regret once I’d started…

Before I did start however, I had to put in my work out routine for my programme, with a minimum of three days a week – so no slacking there. There are also options on where you want to work e.g. Legs, abs, etc and for how long.

Now there are a couple of pieces of apparatus you need to use when you start, the first is the heart rate monitor (impressive, I know) and the second is a resistance band. The former is easy to set up and pretty high tech, the latter is not… I would suggest going back to the menu screen and opting to use dumbells if you have them.

The exercises were all very simple and explained well. While the majority are done in a one on one format with your personal trainer, there are also foot and bike races against computer adversaries. The bike races are quite fun as they combine running on the spot to go up hill, with squats to gain speed going down hill. You can also perform tricks by jumping at the right moment when hitting a ramp. All of which is a nice distraction from the effort you are putting in.

I really threw myself into it, so after a 45 minute workout I was worn out completely and have to admit still ached 2 days later, having worked little used muscles, especially in my calves.

On first impressions I rate this game, if you think you can stick to scheduled work outs, get involved as I’m sure you’ll see results. Its also great for supplementing the gym as you can log activity done outside of the game so it really does cover all bases.

Now all I have to do is see how the game progresses and how well it tracks progress.

Advertisements

A new start

9 Oct

After a week from hell, in which I worked 40 hours by the end of Wednesday, I am ready to get back to the gym and a routine in which I can work out at least 3 times a week.

So I’m now aiming to spend the next six weeks completing a proper work out regime. To see how well I’ve done afterwards I’ll be comparing various measurements before and after the training period. These are listed below, along with my current readings. At the moment these are fairly average for my height (174cm or 5’8”).

 

MEASUREMENTS

Weight: 72.8 kg

Fat: 19.2%

Skeletal muscle: 40.5%

BMI: 24

My workout routine, as suggested by my gym instructor at LA Fitness, includes 20 minutes of aerobic work, 4 pin-loaded resistance and 4 free weight resistance exercises and core work. It’s also been suggested that I sporadically take a few classes, including spinning, to mix up my workout.

 

THE WORKOUT

WARM UP

Rower for 5 minutes

 

AEROBICS – any 2 of the following

Treadmill – 10 minutes

X-trainer – 10 minutes

Rower – 10 minutes

 

PIN LOADED EXERCISES – any 4 of the following at 3 sets of 10 reps on a challenging weight, making sure to mix upper and lower body exercises

Lat pulldown

Leg press

Leg curl

Shoulder press

Tricep pushdown

Chest press

 

FREE WEIGHT EXERCISES – as above, with the exception of 21s

Dumbell bench press

Flat flyes

Walking lunges

Lateral raise

Bicep curl

21s

 

CORE EXERCISES – I’ll be trying to fit this in around 5 times a week

Crunches – 4 sets of 20 reps

Plank – 4 sets of 30 seconds

Side bridge – 3 sets of 30 seconds on each side

cradles – 3 sets of 30 seconds

 

COOL DOWN

Recline bike – 5 minutes on no weight

 

To help me along I will also be taking creatine and protein supplements, with the aim of losing fat and increasing muscle mass, but that’s for another blog.

 

Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how I get on!

 

Ni the supplementer

Supplementer Challenge 1: Results

6 Aug

So it’s two weeks since I declared that I was going to run the 5-6km home from work every day (well except the weekends). The idea of the challenge was to supplement my lifestyle with a little exercise to get me back into running, having not kept to a regular running schedule for many months now. The second and most important role of this challenge was to help me get some sleep, having gone through a spell of bad sleep and more often plain old fashioned insomnia.

I’ve found out a few things about working exercise into your day from this challenge such as…

Life gets in the way

Life and more likely work, gets in the way. When you stay in he office until 9pm you can’t really run home and expect to achieve a good night’s sleep. Which brings me onto my next point

Be flexible

If you have to attend to social affairs after work, or at any time you have earmarked for exercise, improvise. I was caught out when I had to attend a friends leaving meal after work, so I popped into my gym on the way to the meal and knocked out a quick 20 minute run and 10 minute work out on the mats – some exercise is better than none. Even if you make time to walk to the event your attending you’ll be doing something.

It’s not as simple as lacing up your trainers and hitting the streets

Sadly it would appear that my legs were completely out of shape at the beggining of the challenge, which lead to shin splints as my calf muscles strained to keep up. I’ll be blogging shortly on how to combat this, but it’s definitely something to bear in mind if you try and pick up running after a long break.

So that’s the main things. Having finished the challenge I’m defintely getting back to the fitness I used to have and think that I look a lot more in shape than I did before. I’m also sleeping a lot better and am more enthused about fitness in general. I think I’ll keep this up, so expect more running blogs in future.

Now onto the next challenge…

Live long and prosper,

Ni, The Supplementer

New trainers… what to look for

30 Jul

 

With so much running going on, I realised it was about time I got a new some new trainers. So off to Runners Needs I went to have a gait analysis done, wallet in hand.

The analysis was very quick, just a few minutes on a treadmill and they had taken a selection of images of my feet and were able to tell me about my running style and advise on which trainers to get.

So what do you need to look out for when buying running shoes?

Over Pronation – Flat foot

This is where the foot rolls too far in, leaving a full footprint without any sign of the arch. In this running style the foot lands on the heel and then follows through more squarely, overworking the big and second toe. The knee and ankle are also put under pressure as they try to keep balance.

To counteract this ask for a trainer that has extra support for the inner arch of the foot. This will reduce the amount of pressure your knees and ankles come under when stabilising the body and stop you overworking your big and second toes.

Under Pronation – High arch

This is, as you may have guessed is the opposite of flat foot. This type of foot placement looks fine to the casual observer, but the key difference is that the arch is too large. With under pronation the foot doesn’t roll in enough, relying too heavily on the smaller toes for stability and relying on the lower leg to deal with shock. Under pronators are susceptible to shock injuries such as stress fractures.

To protect against this you will need extra cushioning to help absorb shock.

Normal gait (Natural pronation)

This is the ideal, the foot lands on the outside of the heel and comes down along the outside of the foot turning inward to incorporate the middle and ball of the foot. The motion finishes with the foot pushing off the ground from the big toe.

For this type of step you’ll need a trainer that supports your natural pronation, often called a stability shoe. This shoe will provide support without working against your step.

So what did I get?..

Thankfully I have a nice normal gait and have since bought a nice new pair of Nike Pegasus 27 trainers in grey and luminous green (I’m not getting run over any time soon!).

RANT ALERT…

I also managed to get them in the sale as they were and I quote “last seasons colours”… I’m sorry, but these are trainers! I am literrally going to run them into the ground… Though I shouldn’t complain, other peoples’ vanity has lead to me getting 20% off my trainers.

RANT OVER

Now I’m off for a run!

Ni The Supplementer

 

Running to bed

26 Jul

So you may have noticed by now that sleep is becoming a big theme on the blog. This is sadly because over here at The Health Supplement I’ve been having trouble sleeping.

Refusing to dwell on this, I’m turning my sleeplessness into healthy blogs! What’s more, following a visit to the doctors, it’s inspired the first Supplementer challenge!

I’ll be ditching the bus to run the 6k from my work to my flat for two weeks. Exercies is good for wearing you out ahead of bedtime, but should not be done directly before you go to bed. Around 4/5 hours before you want to sleep is a good rule.

I’m hoping this first challenge should be quite easy as I was quite a proficient runner (I even managed 30k on a hilly coastline once), but having not run for a while, time will tell.

I’ll keep you updated with my adventures and will be posting some running related blogs along the way (so you don’t have to hear me harping on about tiredness!)

Wish me luck!

Ni, the Supplementer

Stay in bed, it’s good for you

22 Jul

Sleep is good, we know this. We just hate being tired and yet we still stay up all night drinking, working, just playing computer games, etc, you get the idea. So why should we put down that glass of wine, computer mouse or console controller and get to bed? Here we look at what happens when you get less sleep than you should. watch this space for advice on getting to sleep too.

Losing sleep impairs your ability to learn

A lack of sleep has negative effects on attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to process information, hindering learning.

Certain sleep cycles also help cement the information you process during the day, meaning that the effects of sleep deprivation are twofold, in the first instance you don’t fully take information in and secondly, you don’t remember it effectively.

Sleeping less leads to a quiet bedroom

Studies have found that people suffering with sleep-deprivation report having lower libidos and a lower interest in sex. A lack of energy, tiredness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.

It’s also claimed that men suffering from sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, may have a lower level of testosterone in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002. The study found nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.

A lack of sleep can lead to additional health defects

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, strokes and diabetes. Tiredness can also be a sign of and a factor in developing depression. Which leads us to…

Tiredness is bad for your mood

Studies show that people who get less than five hours sleep a night over a period of more than six days feel more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Long term sleeplessness can aggravate the symptoms of depression.

It has also been shown that people with insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, are five times more likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression.

Sadly the links between sadness and depression can lead to a downward spiral, with one feeding off and strengthening the other. Thankfully the opposite is true as treating one can improve the other too.

Looking tired sticks

While the immediate effects of bad sleep are easily spotted in the skin, puffy eyes, paleness, etc, it also has long term effects.

The body produces excess levels of stress hormone, cortisol when you are tired. This breaks down the skin’s collagen, which is responsible for keeping skin smooth and supple.

By missing out on sleep you also reduce your body’s ability to produce growth hormone, which helps increase muscle mass, healthy bones and thickens skin.

So forget the moisturiser and get yourself to bed – you’ve got your skin to think of.

Deciding to get enough sleep will lead to more good decisions

Well to be precise it’s actually the opposite that’s more accurate, as tiredness impairs judgment. OK so that’s not so surprising, it’s hard to decide on anything when you’re tired, but that’s only the half of it!

Being tired actually impairs your understanding of events, so before you’ve even begun evaluating a set of options, you’ve probably already misunderstood what you’re being asked to choose between.

What’s more, our ability to judge our impairment is itself, impaired. Studies reveal that people who regularly get between 5-6 hours of sleep a night claim to have adapted to less sleep, however they consistently underperform on mental ability tests compared to people who have 7-8 hours sleep and as sleep deprivation continues so their scores worsen.

Tiredness causes weight gain

That’s right, it’s the perfect excuse to stay in bed. Studies found that short sleepers gained more weight than long sleepers, even when they were more active than their well-rested counterparts.

A lack of sleep effects various hormone levels including the ‘hunger horemone’ Leptin. The imbalance causes people to consume more calories. The research showed that the effects of an imbalance of Leptin are staggering, with short sleepers being heavier despite burning an extra 1,000 calories over the long sleepers.

So there you have it, some very good reasons to get some sleep. So if your reading this last thing at night STOP and get some kip! If you’re reading this at a sesible hour, why not check out our tips on getting Sweet dreams

Health be with you,

Ni, the Supplementer