Mel Collie | Effective abdominal exercise you probably aren’t doing…
Sit ups are popular if you are after an abdominal exercise, and thats ok, as long as your lower back and neck aren’t doing the actual sit up work for you and you are also doing other stuff as well, like rotational exercises for example, power lives in rotation if its a great midsection you are after…however, the most repetitive exercise you do, every day, is breathing, the overlooked muscles, the diaphragm, is a major part of your core, and if your aren’t breathing well, you are using your neck muscles, which means your inner core stabilising system is well and truly on holiday…
How to use your breath effectively
Practice – lie on your front, gently allow the lower belly to press into the floor as you breathe in
This can be very tricky for some of us, as we are told to pull our bellies in all the time to create a look of having a flatter belly, when in fact what this does it to encourage breathing into the neck and chest…I’m guessing they are tight enough from sitting at a computer all day or driving for a living, or watching TV most evenings. Your shoulders don’t need any more tension.
So, when you exhale, the lower belly will come back by its own elasticity.
You may feel light headed and dizzy. The brain may not be used to having as much oxygen as you are now taking in, because you have been a shallow breather for a while. You may also find that your blood pressure and heartbeat come back to a normal range for a human being.
How does that diaphragm move?
When you exhale, it relaxes upwards, like an umbrella, pushing out the used air into the lungs, this is why, an exhalation, when lobber than the inhalation, allows oxygen to be pushed into the blood supple.
When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts, it collapses downwards.
If this is the first time you are practicing this with awareness, its better done lying down, so you don’t also have to consider posture as well. Practice it for one repetition before you get out of bed,and before you go to sleep
Just 1 rep?
Yes…just one – if I ask you to try it for a minute x 4 a day, you might do that for a couple of days, then forget, because life takes over and practicing breathing may not seem so important to you when the kids are screaming and you’ve got the shopping to do , the dinner to cook and the house to clean.
1 rep is doable.
Then it becomes a habit.
You will naturally do a few more when the times right.
The benefits, apart from a healthier heart, better nourishment from your nutrition, reduced anxiety and stress, better abdominal connection which can help pelvic floor and ab tone, reduced back pain and better movement in the ribs…are many..
But you know what..its up to you. I’ve realised that you can’t tell someone to do something, but you can help someone who asks, who wants to change, who changes by trying something out themselves.
Are You Tired In The Morning? 2 Ways To Wake Up With More Energy
Do you find it hard to get up in the morning, then find that later in the day you do wake up and then cant get to sleep? Do you have anxiety and crave salty and sweet foods? If you have ever heard of adrenal fatigue, you aren’t alone. Its something I notice when I’m tired & over stressed, so, this is what adrenal fatigue is and a couple of simple things you can do to overcome it.
What are adrenal glands? They sit on top of the kidneys, and secrete different hormones, one you may have heard about it Cortisol.
Theres a cascade of hormones that trigger this though, before the Cortisol is released.
This is the science bit – Your Hypothalmus (part of the brain) secretes a chemical corticotrophin releasing hormone. Its the bodies first level of action when we have a stress response to a threat. Stress response, feeling anxious, feel that life under threat, the body believes it, so secretes hormones as an expression of reality to what it believes is a threat, the body reacts, does that make sense?
A threat can be a utility bill on the mat, the bank account not looking healthy, a deadline at work, not feeling part of the local community, a relationship issue.
So, your hypothalmus secretes the hormone, sending message to pituitary gland to secrete adrenal hormones, which send message to adrenal glands to release , amongst others, cortisol being the one you have probably heard about.
So when we are under stress which is . for many of us, constant – anxiety, worrying thoughts that don’t go away, the hormones are secreted all the time. Our body is always at a Fight, Flight, Freeze reaction.
This means Cortisol is always at a high level in the body, you might find that belly fat hangs around for longer than it used to and is hard to shift, it takes more than regular dieting and doing crunches or going for a run. You find you are tired, hard to get up in the morning but hard to get to sleep at night as well as craving salty or sweet foods.
Replenishing your system is the way to work with your body and your bodies responses.
1. Deprived of sleep, working at the office, deadlines to meet, families to look after, training at the gym for hours, can all lead to chronic fatigue. Sometimes we have to reach the point of pain in order to stop and take a look at our life and see whats happening, listen to our bodies reactions and decide to do something. So when you are tired and wired, you may notice that this is the time to take the foot off the pedal and take time to change some things to reduce the revs .
Simple things like shutting off the lap top an hour before bed. Keeping the bedroom in total darkness at bedtime, turn the mobile off, turn the digital clock the other way around, the glare can disturb sleep. have a bath before bed, lock the door, have 10 mins to yourself. Go for a walk every day for 15 mins. Remember if you are already time short, make it just 4 minutes, and see if you have any extra time to add the next day or week. What you do during the day for yourself is like putting money into a bank account, it soon adds up and you begin to see the rewards and earn interest.
2. Training – going to the gym before work, training again at night, going for a run, training some more, doing 2 classes back to back then rushing home to cook dinner, wash up, clean the house, do the ironing, get the kids organised…to tired to have a bath for yourself and fall into bed exhausted to wake up tired. OK, for just 2 weeks change your training program. Walk every day for 15 – 30 minutes. Try training for 1 – 2 days with weights if you like doing weights, then 1 – 2 days doing a HiiT session (no more than 30 mins though for each session) Training for hours is a drain on the system if you are not supporting it in other ways, its fine if its your life, or a celebrity who has a chef and a PT and a maid etc etc or if you are an athlete, however, many fitness instructors also find their body stops responding when they do too much and suffer burn out and injury, you just don’t hear about it.
3. Thinking. A drain on the inner energy are your thoughts, this sounds too simple to be true, as we are conditioned to thinking we should be DOING stuff , rather than DOING less, which is where your replenish comes in. Keeping a journal, writing down a couple of things you are grateful for, a couple of things you noticed that day that made you feel grateful, happy. Notice how you speak to yourself , maybe you push yourself, expect a lot from yourself, beat yourself up a lot. This is me! I used to do this…a lot…the only thing that slows me down is meditation, questioning my thoughts (Byron Katies books helped a lot, check her out on You Tube…do her worksheet…) Theres no one more important than you, if you aren’t healthy and there then you are able to give to others what you would like to give. Fit your own oxygen mask first.
4. Eat well to nourish, not to punish. Supporting ourselves with nourishing minerals and vitamins are our fuel. Eating at the dinner table, not on the run or in the car or as you walk to and from appointments at work for example, sitting down, slowing down as you eat helps the system digest the food and improve gut flora (not those sugar laden stupid gut flora drinks..). Noticing how much caffeine you drink. Me, I used to drink 6 or more espressos a day with a couple of sugars too, now I barely touch it, maybe 1 or 2 a week, and I notice that sometimes I sweat afterwards and feel so wired, so definitely no caffeine after mid day at the latest for me. Noticing these habits and your reactions is the beginning to a journey that may take a while to grasp, but the first step is the hardest, but so is step 2 and 3, sticking to your plans are tricky at times, then the body will send you some signal to tell you to get back on track.
Herbs are also helpful – when I went through a programe and changed my diet and noticed my adrenal issues, I used Ashwaghanda and Rhodiola (from health food shops, you drop a few of the tinctures into water and drink it). Now,maybe you don’t need both, but I tried them out, and found that the former worked well for me in helping support the immune system, but also helping to calm me down and help sleep and stress levels reduce. Magnesium also helped massively, and I still take it today. (https://www.philrichardsperformance.co.uk/index.php/better-sleep/magnesium-relax.html)
Eat good fats and proteins. Nuts, avocado, seeds, good quality protein like fish, chicken , eggs, quality green veggies like Kale, Cabbage, Brocolli, Watercress. Oils like coconut oil, a great quality fat, so cut back on processed oils like vegetable oil (canola, sunflower oil can increase inflammatory joints and aggravate the gut) Sat is important, sea salt or himalayan salt (its pink!) is also great for supporting the adrenals.
So to recap – as I’ve mentioned more than 2 things you can do, and doing too much can lead to overwhelm, which means you then do absolutely nothing..So, just 2 simple things you can do right now are theses …cut back if you are over-training at the gym. More isn’t necessarily better, but how you train is, work smarter, not harder. Rest is key. And the second is – don’t be scared of eating good fats. Eat good fats as described above, help to heal your gut to help heal your inner workings, put the right fuel in the car and it runs…all the TV and media adverts saying low fat is bad are a load of total rubbish. Theres tons of scientific research out there. If something isn’t working for you, then change it.
Look inwards for the answer.
Its a short life, make the most of it by having a healthy and stress free one that you love living, not one that you are just struggling to crawl through.
Mel Collie |Are your actions in line with who you want to be?
I’ve recently started to train for a challenge, and its made me think about a few things…its made me wonder about actions, excuses and if you are actually stuck in a rut, what are you going to do about it? Expect others to help you out? Blame others for not helping you out? Blame the weather?
When I ran Bootcamp sessions, clients started out with great intentions, then the excuses started to come in…why?because life got in the way..the excuses started to come in.
So,when I started to train for the Three Peaks Challenge, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was looking for something to challenge me, a fitness and health related challenge, to get me off my bum, away from the TV, out in the fresh air, and to earn money for a charity at the same time.
I researched a few charity websites and their organised challenges, a couple of them I might do next year, but when I chatted to my other half about them, he mentioned the challenge he had done 3 times, the Three Peaks. I knew nothing about this, and when he explained all about it , and that he would help train me, I decided I would go for it.
I have got a plan for weeks 3 – 10, but I wont bore you with them, however…Tuesday morning, I found I was knackered after such a long day, the 4 hour walk was around the Eden project here in Cornwall, followed by the ice skating session, which Im rubbish at,, but its such a laugh, and thats important, we don’t laugh enough!
Anyway, Tuesday morning, I could’ve had a lie in, I could’ve made excuses, I could’ve told my self ” ah well, you can train tomorrow, its not important, you’ve done quite a bit already, do more next week”
Great excuses, for some, a bit like calling in sick when you cant be bothered. I recognised those excuses, they are just thoughts..
I got my walking boots on and took myself off for a long walk, a strenuous walk, as humans, we are capable of walking at about 3 miles per hour, I was aiming for 4, with a few steep up hill ascents along the way and some great scenary too, my mindset about half way into the walk was ” take a short cut here, go back early” , tempting, but I ignored it, and went on further, reminding myself of why I started this in the first place, the action I would have to do, everyday, to achieve it, and visualising the outcome.
Excuses are just thoughts.
Thoughts …what are they.. they are just thoughts, there to challenge you, to steer you off course, to help you, to keep you stuck, the trick is to embrace the thoughts, step back and see them for what they are, have no atachment to them, sounds tricky?
Try this :
When you have a thought, like I had the though ” you dont want to do a walk today, you are too tired”
I ask ” is that true?”
If the answer comes back as NO, then I get on with the walk, if the answer comes back as Yes, I challenge it, “Really? is it really true?”
Well, no it isn’t, I’m not exhausted, the human body is designed to move, a lot, all day, every day, we do more harm by doing less.
When Ive challenged my thought, I then ask myself ” who would I be without that thought?”
…and thats the crux of it all…I would be me, doing what I said I would be doing, training for a challenge for charity, I would be happier, content having achieved what I set out to achieve.
It takes work
It means showing up every day
But whats the alternative?
Staying the same…being happy with average. If thats where you are at and are happy with that, then thats ok.
If you arent, then its down to you to show up and do what you said you were going to do.Do the work. Be the change .
If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it. Truth is, they arent 🙂
However,when you are following your desire, your passion, questioning your thoughts, doing the work, you find your path, it becomes easy, because taking the alternative of pain, discomfort, frustration, becomes second best.