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Broccoli: King of the Vegetables

Eat your greens!

There are many reasons that Broccoli is widely considered the best vegetable to include in your diet in terms of bang for your buck. I’ll go through a few points as to why it is such an integral food.

Macro nutrients

Broccoli is a vegetable that contains large amounts of macro nutrients that are needed in everyday life and for good functioning health. Per 100g it contains 2.8g of Protein and 2.6g of Fibre. These two are instrumental in not only maintaining a healthy balanced diet, but also ensuring optimal mental and physical well-being. I wouldn’t say that it is the best source of Protein to use for your diet, as the amout is quite small. But the amount that is present will certainly help growth and repair of tissues and encourage fat loss. Fibre is instumental in ensuring that the digestive system works properly, meaning efficient digesting and passing of waste.  It has been shown to reduce the risk of Cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.             (https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/basics/fibre.html).

Broccoli is also a source of carbohydrates (7g). These aren’t carbohydrates in the normal sense that you would find in bread or pasta. More in line with the natural sugar found in Fruit. This means on the dinner plate it’s a great source of Carbohydrates.

Micro- nutrients

Also contained within this vegetable is a huge amount of vitamins and minerals both also needed for optimal functioning of the human body. I’ll go through a few of the best.

  1. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, teeth and bones,  contributes towards retinal development (so being able to see in the dark properly). It contributes to a healthy and active immune system (which aids in the prevention of diseases). But probably most importantly it contains a lot of Anti-oxidants. Anti-Oxidants are the bodies first way of combating free-radicals, which are a series orf events that leads to the damaging of a cell formerly a process found in the development of terminal diseases.
  2. Vitamin C is the chief vitamin that helps to prevent Scurvy. Something that the British Navy was plagued by in the past. They combated this by including limes and lemons in the sailors rations. Scurvy was a nasty disease that led to losing teeth and rotting gums. Lack of Vit C can also lead to longer time of wound healing. It also protects bones and contributes to a healthy immune system.

It’s a very cheap way of staying healthy, you can buy a weeks worth of  vegetables for less than £5 in certain supermarkets. But can you put a price on health?

 

You are not the only person concerned about body image.

Every person in the developed world thinks about their body image at least once a week- posititively or negatively.

I saw an advert for a beauty cream- that claimed it could remove your bodies ‘imperfections’ the other day and I was pretty angry about the message it was sending- in the eyes of big companies you will never be perfect in your own skin. Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to sell anything to you.

This needs to change.

If you aren’t looking at yourself in the mirror and being totally happy in your skin- then it has huge knockon effects that can have lethal consequences, all the way up to depression. Millions of women and men across the world are fed the image that they are not good enough, that only them spending their money on the latest cream gives them any right to breath in our planets oxygen.

This, of course is not true. It’s also not to say that your body is perfect, you may well be in need of curbing a certain food or losing a few pounds. But when you look at yourself, you need to see the unfinished canvas and recognise that you have every right to the body that you want. The hardest part is the thought process, one of my favourite qoutes from a coach is “The more you succeed in habit, life and competition, the more habitual success becomes. Prove to yourself repeatedley that you have the courage and ability to overcome obstacles”.

Fit shaming is also a thing…

Unfortunately shamers also target those that take great pride in their appearance- this tends to happen more amongst women. Women that are hugely keen on weightlifting and being strong often hear things like “You look like a man” or “I wouldn’t date a girl that can lift more than me”. If you’ve ever heard that then you have my support, you have the right to feel great in your own skin.  It is very easy to consider yourself inadequate, or not as good as those you see on magazine covers. It is very hard to put yourself in your own compartment. To worry about your own body and not what everyone else thinks is the hardest thing to do.

I find that it helps to spend some time alone with my head, observe the traffic of your mind. Don’t try and run through it. Get in tune with how you feel and what drives you, at the end of the day all the external factors that make up your own body image are the least important. The most important is what goes on in your head.

The more you succeed in habit, life and competition, the more habitual success becomes. Prove to yourself repeatedley that you have the courage and ability to overcome obstacles.

Sit-ups: The truth

The two things that keep me up at night as Strength coach are:

1. Sit ups and

2. Jogging (not to be confused with running).

These two movements are the scourge of Physiologists and Strength coaches alike, performed over and over in Health Clubs across the country, there is he belief that Jogging (not running) is the easiest way to shift some weight and that sit ups are the easiest way for guys to become ripped, and women to “Tone up” their mid section.

The bad news is that these are not the easiest OR safest options when it comes to training- both can be carried out as part of an exercise program, but they must be accompanied by supporting work to, as I shall explain.

Risks

The risks of Jogging are basically that, if you are just starting exercise then you will have to do a huge amount to kick-start metabolism particularly if you are in middle age. This can cause an extreme amount of wear and tear on the lower body- none of which you will really know about until it is too late. The “ordinary” person has very limited ankle mobility, extremely limited hip mobility and just about everything else is limited too. Throw in 10,000 ‘thuds’ from the body weight, and it will start to take its toll fairly quickly. An appropriate resistance program must be in place to ensure that the joints and bones are strong enough to take the increased weight-bearing.

The risk posed from sit-ups is a little different and there are two main reasons why alternatives are better than this exercise. Firstly, the ‘abdominal muscles’ of which there are a few, are predominantly designed to resist movement. The best example of this is a plank- where they are contracting to resist gravity isometrically (without lengthening or shortening). Once you can sufficiently resist movement only then should you be looking to create it.

The second, arguably more important , reason is that there are muscles that attach to the Thoraco-lumbar fascia (lower back). Every-time there is a contraction from this muscle the spine is also affected. Psoas Major (our main hip flexor) is one of these a powerful muscle that helps us to jump, run, walk etc. Excessive spinal flexion (sit up motion) can cause there to be too much ‘pulling’ from this muscle on the lumbar spine.

The videos below are some good examples of abdominal exercises that can be performed in the gym.

Image result for psoas major

The Psoas attachment to the spine

https://livewithintent.co.uk/20180724_215651-mp4/

Notice that my clients arm position in these exercises is always straight, and that hips are forward- this can achieved by contracting the Gluteus muscles and engaing the Abdonimus muscles. If any ‘pressure’ is felt in the lower back area during these exercises, then ensure that you have the right amount of contraction in the Glutes. If it persists then discontinue or ask a trainer that is present.
https://livewithintent.co.uk/20180724_215605-mp4/

Your posture is giving you back pain!

 

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Bad posture can actively contribute to back/knee pain and headaches.
  2. A heavily sedentary (seated) lifestyle will cause muscle atrophy (wastage).
  3. ‘Just’ exercising sometimes isn’t enough to break negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Bad posture and back pain

Back pain can be attributed to many things. Normally the right answer to dealing with any kind of pathological pain needs a multi directional approach. In most cases though, you can alleviate pain by looking at specific places that might be causing you trouble. Let me first mention that pain relief such as deep heat and paracetamol are not solutions, they are ‘time buyers’ and may give you a few hours of respite- but ultimately you will need to combat that pain sooner or later.

So how does posture make a difference? The spine is the strongest part of the body, mainly because it houses the Spinal chord and the central nervous system- but also because it is formed by several facets that work together to form a single unit. To effectively assess how our posture is affecting spinal health is to look at the top and the bottom- particularly when seated. The ideal position is to have the spine in a (mostly) straight line with the pelvis directly underneath and the ears in line with the shoulders at the top. Deviations from this cause muscles to be ‘short’ or ‘long’ which basically means they are changing their length to accommodate any bad posture there might be. Muscles will take the path of least resistance- think of them as a mould, if they are subjected to a particular position, over time they will ‘set’ to that position, sometimes painfully! Back pain in particular can be affected by the muscles of the lower back being moved and trying to compensate for a pelvis that is in a different position.

 

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Normal spinal position.
20180703_0923516080533042855209017.jpg
Forward head position.

Negative effects of sitting

In the current world where most people will be sitting for the majority of the day- posture has become a huge niche for trainers and clients alike. Four or five hours of personal training in a week is fast becoming ineffective at combating the negative effects that sitting has on the body. Office workers that do manage to sneak out for an hour or during the day, or manage to go after work, are still then doing things that are reinforcing those negative effects of sitting. An example of this is a user who has a heavily sedentary career who then goes to the gym and only uses the bikes. This is beneficial on the obvious front of increasing the heart rate to encourage weight loss and blood pressure reduction, but this method of exercise will not combat the loss of strength and muscle definition that these kind of clients will suffer from.

‘Just’ exercising sometimes isn’t enough to break the cycle of negativity from being overly sedentary, you need to incorporate all aspects of physicality within your training, basically, use the whole body!

Why you should be training if you’re over 40

Many believe that that once the body ages it is best to avoid any strenuous activity, or that they are not capable of any activity beacuse of ‘age’. Ever heard of the saying “we dont stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing”? This speasks volumes for th attitude that many hold, particularly in the age of sedentary lifestyles.

There is not an age that you should stop or start physcial activity- however it can become too late for us if we don’t maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1.  At any age, if you start exercising, the adaptions are huge. This is becasue the body is a machine of adaption, if there has been no ‘stimulus’ to date and you start providiong one- there will only be good results. This effect will lessen as the body gains age, but the principle still stands.
  2. Regular load bearing of any kind will dramatically reduce the occurence of osteoporosis. The national osteoporosis foundation (https://www.nof.org/) says that load bearing exercises can include anything from weightlifting to regular walking.
  3. As we know, age and sedentary lifestyles are big risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, just 30 minutes of walking a day can be said to reduce the likeliness of both. The study is here if you want to look: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12439651)
  4. If you’re over 40, reversibility will start catching up with you before long if you don’t use your body. If you want to be mobile when you’re in your 60/70’s, then you need to start early. Time is health!
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