Have you ever found yourself in a position where you know you are training consistently, but you are just not making the strength gains you should be? Or your endurance is lagging behind a little? Maybe you have retested a workout and the result wasn't quite what you had hoped? These are all fairly common occurrences with amateur athletes and the common ground here is generally fuel. What we put into our bodies will determine what we get out of them. An extreme example, maybe, but if you put diesel into a petrol car, and then try to break the land speed record, what do you think will happen? Not much!
The same applies to an athlete. If you constantly fill yourself up with poor quality food, with no consistent ratio of the macronutrient content, the likelihood is, that your metabolic system will be working at a rate that is nowhere near its true potential. This has a number of knock on effects.
Tiredness - excessive amounts of any food, never mind junk food can leave us feeling lethargic, tired, even moody. When our blood sugar level spikes, the inflammatory reaction in our cells actually prevents us from absorbing energy and therefore burning it efficiently. This leaves us in a constant state of tiredness and hormone imbalance. The main culprits here would be foods high in sugar. Artificial sweeteners are also guilty (That's a topic for another day!)
Weight gain - even if you are training every day and becoming stronger, if you are consistently making poor food choices, the chances are, that you will continue to gain fat. There are a few reasons for this, but put simply, your body is unable to efficiently use the calories from processed foods. Going a step further from the first point, if you have excess calories in your system, and your cells are unable to absorb and use them, they will simply turn into fat.
Both of these have a direct link to your athletic performance. When you are tired or lethargic, it is both physically and mentally challenging to get the best out of your workout. If you don't feel particularly good on your way into the gym, chances are, you won't feel great during your session either. The same thing applies to weight gain. If you are carrying a little extra bodyfat, and you are aware that it's down to poor decision making at the dinner table, it can be difficult to perform at your best. This can be quite a tough place to be, particularly around this time of year, when the mornings are dark, the weather is cold and the people around you are generally eating and drinking for comfort.
So what are your options? Quite a few actually. Taking a bit of time out for yourself and working out some small improvements to your diet would be a great place to start! sometimes a small change has a big impact. Maybe you could reassess the amount of water you are drinking. Or take a look at the amount of protein you are consuming throughout the day, and whether it is enough to support your training.
The end goal for you would be to get yourself into what we call 'The Zone'. The is when your body goes into the perfect hormonal balance which allows for the most efficient rate of fat burning and muscle growth. and guess what? - It is determined by the amount of food we eat, its quality and its ratio of macronutrient content. If you can get into this zone, you will see good things happen pretty quickly.
We place a lot of emphasis on our cool downs. They don’t take long and introducing this habit at an early stage in your child’s fitness development will ensure they continue to do it the rest of their lives.
Cool downs don’t take long, they gradually lower your heart rate rather than a sudden drop and may also reduce the likelihood of Delayed Muscle Soreness (DOMs) ie that dull ache the next day or even the day after....
Lastly, and of equal importance in our opinion, are the psychological benefits of a cool down. We can reflect on the session, review what the kids have learned and have a laugh. These 5 minutes will help develop friendships and build a sense of camaraderie and community. They have all completed a workout together, endorphins are high and life is usually good.
PS: This applies equally to our adult athletes!
The term 'Weight loss' is a very broad term and is often misunderstood by people wanting to 'lose weight'. The proper term is actually 'Fat Loss', which is a much more accurate description of what it is we are trying to achieve. Generally, no matter what our fitness goals are, we want to decrease the amount of fat stored on our bodies, and that is usually not a bad thing. But there is a problem. People are obsessed with the word 'weight' or the term 'weight loss' and as a result, stand in tears on the bathroom scales every other morning, looking at the pointer indicating that nothing has changed in the last 7 days. Folks, for the most part, the bathroom scales DO NOT give you an accurate indication of how you are progressing through your fat loss goals. And here's why;
Are you into weightlifting? Crossfit by any chance? Feel yourself getting stronger? well if this is the case, you have definitely increased your lean mass. (your lean mass is the percentage of your body that isn't made up of fat!) This means that you will have gained muscle and increased your bone density. And what is the result of both of these gains? yes - heavier on the bathroom scales!! However, so many people still get caught up with the emotional attachment of what the scales say, and automatically assume that because the scales still say the same, they are failing with their fatloss goals and are going nowhere fast.
There are other factors that affect the reading om the scales also, like the time of day you weigh yourself, how hydrated you are, and whether or not you have eaten. Our hormone balance, particularly in woman, can affect how much water we retain, and this can vary from day to day, which will change our overall bodyweight. So considering these factors, we are going to move the bathroom scales to the bottom of the list of indicators as to how we are progressing with our fatloss targets and our overall fitness levels. Here are a few indicators that will give you a much better idea of how you are getting on.
Bodyfat Percentage - If measured correctly, this is a very useful tool to indicate how much fat is actually stored on the body and can be monitored over a long period over time. Although it is difficult to gauge an exact percentage, it generally remains consistent with each person, so will provide relevant, progressive data for each person. So if the option is there folks, have you bodyfat tested instead of your bodyweight on the scales!
Energy Levels - Made some positive lifestyle changes recently? Maybe cut out some unhealthy eating habits or started a new strength or running program? But they aren't working working because you've weighed yourself every 7 minutes since you've started? If you notice that your energy levels have increased, then it most definitely is working! Think back to before you started - you hated the sound of your alarm, couldn't function after 3pm without caffeine and slept on the sofa from 8pm onwards after eating your bodyweight in toast. Now you are bouncing out of bed, prepping food and planning your evening activities. Fatloss is definitely happeneing, regardless what the scales say!
Your Wardrobe - Are your clothes starting to feel a bit looser? Maybe your gym shorts are looking decidedly baggy, or better still, the new suit you bought 3 months ago is so ridiculously big and baggy that you couldn't possibly wear it in public? If that is the case, then you really are making the progress you were hoping, even though the scales don't agree.
There are a fair few other 'side effects' of fat loss that also 'outweigh' the importance of the reading on the scales. These include better sleeping patterns, positive mindsets, clearer thinking and feeling fuller and more satisfied after meals! experienced or noticed any of these feelings recently?
So on a scale of one to rubbish, how helpful is it to measure your body weight on a regular basis? You decide.......