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Are you ready to have a ball?!

This blog is mainly for those who are interested in Fitball exercise classes (Pilates and other classes involving the use of a Swiss ball) or those who would like to do some ball exercises at home.

What are FITBALLS? And no they are not your kids space hoppers 🙂 (though they do look very similar). Apart from numerous benefits (like strengthening core muscles, balance etc) Fitballs are great fun to use and they are quite a challenging piece of equipment at the same time.

The biggest benefit of using swiss balls is that they are very effective at targeting core muscles, those muscles that are essential for stability and good posture but are often overlooked when exercising with fixed position equipment such as those found in gyms. Fitballs are designed to help improve the core muscle groups by focusing on strength, balance, weight distribution, posture and coordination. By developing the core muscles and learning how balance and posture affect these muscle groups, the user can gain a better understanding of how the human body moves and through this understanding learn how to avoid injury.

BALANCE is another major benefit of using the balls: one of the primary purposes of a fitball is to help learn balance. The round shape of the ball makes it inherently difficult to balance on. This creates a need for the user to work harder while exercising as they must not only develop the strength and coordination needed to perform their normal exercise routines, but must also learn to balance on the ball at the same time. This requires the use and toning of even more muscle groups and can greatly enhance the overall benefit of a workout.

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       As opposed to performing isolation exercising standing up (targeting just one muscle group) when working out on the ball, which is unstable, your body needs to recruit additional muscles in order to stay balanced. This means that, for example, if you perform a bicep curl whilst sitting on the ball, your body will recruit your deep stabilising abdominal muscles (also known as core muscles), thereby toning your tummy while you tone your arms.

Below is a Fitball size chart. But you will find that not all 65cm balls are actually 65cm (not all 75cm ones are 75cm), some of them will be smaller, some  – bigger (even if it says that on the box). So my advice would be: keep your receipt, inflate the ball, sit on it and check that it is the right size for you. If it is not – deflate and take it back to the shop. If you are not too tall I would always go for a 65cm one, I find 55cm ones are too small.

Your height Ball height
< 150cm Junior 45cm
150 – 165cm Small 55cm
162 – 183cm Medium 65cm
180 – 200cm Large 75cm
198cm + X – Large 85cm

fitball chart

The classes will be starting in Dingwall from May. Please check www.natalliasfitness.com for all the news and updates.

Have a good day!

Natallia

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cramp

Foot cramps are very common in people who practice Pilates regularly. In this blog I would like to go through the possible causes of foot cramps and the ways of getting rid of them. I run 3 Pilates classes a week and from my personal experience at least 2-3 people in each class are regularly getting cramps. Factors that may lead to muscle cramping include muscle fatigue, lack of flexibility, exercising in the heat and imbalances of the electrolytes in the blood.

Other causes of cramps are :

water

 – Dehydration

–  Lack of magnesium

–  Lack of potassium

–   Lack of calcium

Cramps can also be caused by a variety of other reasons such as:

–       pointing the toes,

–       flat feet,

–       tightness in the feet,

–       tightness in the ankle,

–       excessive standing or walking during the day.

Muscle spasms and cramps are more common in the summer because your body loses electrolytes and minerals as you sweat. With a few precautions though, you can enjoy active fun in the sun, hot yoga class or a toe pointing Pilates class without the agony of a sudden cramp.

Cramping can also occur because muscles and tendons are programmed to stay in a fixed position. Pilates and Yoga practice puts our feet in different positions from the average person’s daily activity. Foot massage might help to release the tension. You could use a small, but sturdy, rubber ball, or a tennis ball and roll it under the bottom of your foot. You could sit on the couch or in a chair and lightly place the weight of the leg and foot down onto the ball. Roll the ball under the bottom of the foot with a linear motion, going back and forth, as needed, to massage the bottom of the foot.

tennis ball

 Whether the cause of the cramp is dehydration, injury to a muscle, vigorous exercise, repetitive movement, or holding a prolonged position, stretching can prevent or stop most cramps when they occur. Gently massaging the muscle, firmly pressing the tendons at the end of the muscles or using a warm compress can help the muscle to relax and the cramp to subside.

What Else Can You Do to Alleviate Muscle Cramps?

1. Hydrate. Try and drink a glass or two of water in the morning. If you are a coffee drinker it is important that you realize that coffee will dehydrate your body, so you need to replenish fluid after the coffee as well. I would also recommend having a glass of water before the session ( not immediately before the lesson) You can also bring some water to the workout for continual sipping. If you must have coffee or tea in your day, try to avoid drinking before your Pilates workout as it can advance dehydration which could bring on that hated muscle cramping.

2. Eat Foods High in Magnesium

Banana 34 mg

Dried Figs 44mg

Black Beans 120 mg

Cashews 148 mg

Pumpkin Seeds 151 mg

Almonds 156 mg

Whole Wheat Flour 166 mg

**Banana is high in potassium and magnesium (not the highest score but it does have magnesium in it), so you get two benefits with this one!

bananas

3. Eat Foods High in Potassium

Banana: 467 mg

Orange Juice: 496 mg

Tomato Juice: 535 mg

Dates: 542 mg

Raisins: 544 mg

Dried Apricots: 814 mg

4. Eat Foods High in Calcium: dairy products, flax seeds, nuts, green veg.

Hope you found this blog informative and here’s to the non cramping Pilates classes next week!

Have a fab non crampy weekend 😉

Natallia

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Would you rather be FIT or SLIM?

Have you ever wondered why you are not managing to keep your weight off for long enough without drastically cutting down on your calorie intake and exercising to the point of exertion?  Do you know what happens when you eat little and exercise a lot? Yes, of course you will lose weight but will it be fat?? Maybe some of it will be, but most of it will be water and muscle mass. What happens to the people who are on low calorie diets? Most likely they will lose weight, but are they going to be lean? Is there going to be any change happening to their body shape? Most likely not. They will just shrink to a smaller version of their bigger selves and will still have the wobbly bits and loose skin and less lbs.

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What would happen to the ‘fat losers’? Their body shape will change, they will become leaner and their weight might not change (they might even put on some weight because as we know muscles weigh more than fat!) and this can be maintained by following clean eating 80-90% of the time and appropriate exercise regime.

Without going into too much detail, here are just a few tips on how to turn your weight loss into fat loss:

  1. Know your carbs! Not all carbs are the same.  Try to cut down on carbs if you are on a fat loss/weigh loss mission. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, quinua, couscous, root veg, rye bread etc are a good choice. You can still have your ‘white’ carbs but limit their consumption to a few bites per meal.

2. High PROTEIN diet is the best diet: meat, eggs, poultry, fish are a great source of protein and will keep you full for hours.

3. Know your fruit! Berries, apples, pears and grapefruit are your 1st choice if you are trying to cut down on sugar. Have them as your snacks.

4. Fill up your plate with veg (it has minimum sugar and high fiber content)

5. Exercise on an empty stomach or after fasts (full or intermittent)

6. Do WEIGHTS! Resistance training will help you to turn your fat into muscles.

7. Diversify your workouts: weight training,  cardio and walking/Yoga/Pilates are the best combo.

8. Sleep well and stress less!

And do have a treat meal once a week (or more depending on what your goal is)! We are all human and we like out food and wine so do treat yourself to a yummy meal and some wine or something else.

I find it hard not to eat some certain foods so I mostly stick to this 70%-80% of the time BUT I am going to try and be very good for the next 7-8 weeks, and see where it’s going to take me. I love food, and I love chocolate but I’m lucky that I also love all the veggies and fruit so I will give it my best (and since I’ve actually written it here I will have to stick to it!). I will try different exercise regimes and will hopefully come up with something more or less ideal for my lifestyle.

You can do it as well. Write down all your meals, snacks and exercise regime daily and then compare the notes and your measurements every week and see what has worked better for you. If you feel tired – up your protein and carbs intake (especially protein), if you feel great and are happy with the changes your body is going through and with your foods – don’t change anything!

Remember: we eat to live not live to eat!

Natallia

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Surprisingly enough fat loss will not occur by simply exercising 24/7 and eating rabbit food. There are many more factors that affect fat loss, and sleep and stress are the one that we should never overlook if we are aiming at the long term fat loss.

fat-burner

1. SLEEP:

Sleep-Deprivation-Apnea

Cutting back on sleep reduces the benefits of dieting. Sleep has the ability to “reset” metabolism impacting hunger hormones, stress hormones, and muscle building/fat burning hormones. Sleep is a prime determinant of whether you can maintain sustained fat loss.

Eight hours of sleep should be seen as the minimum required for hormonal balance. This may shock some of you, but sleep quantity is one of the most important considerations in balancing hormones. Every night your body goes through its rhythm of hormonal computing to repair, regenerate, and revitalise the tissues of the body. This process is complicated and takes time (Metabolic Effect). You know if yourself: if we do not get enough sleep we crave carbs and sugar. Lack of sleep is causing us to be hungry the whole day. When sleep is restricted, we produce higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure.

“If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels”

– try and give your digestive system at least 12 hour break (if your dinner is at 7pm then the earliest you should have your breakfast is 7am the following day)

– aim at having your last meal 2-3 hours before you go to bed

– walking and low impact exercises as Yoga and Pilates are good contributors to fat loss when combined with weight training and HIIT workouts

2. STRESS

stressIs stress making you fat? Stress doesn’t have any calories but it’s not only the calorie intake that affects the fat loss, there’s much more to it. There’s a very good article on stress and fat loss and I could have just copied it but I think it would be fair to post a link to the original article since I was not the one who wrote it. Click here to read it.

Who would think there are so many factors that affect fat loss?

HAVE A GOOD EASTER WEEKEND: SLEEP MORE AND ENJOY THIS LONG WEEKEND WITH YOUR FAMILY!

Natallia

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train food

I will be the first to admit that I used to be quite bad at NOT sticking to eating healthily while travelling (and I do travel a lot). What do people usually buy to get them through a long train/bus/plane journey? 99% of time it’s sweets, shop bought sandwiches, fizzy drinks, and crisps, i.e. processed food high in fat and sugar.  What are the alternatives?

  1.  If yousandwich do like a sandwich – make one at home so that you know what is in it. Use rye bread or wholegrain bread (preferably either home baked or bought from trusted bakeries) i.e. Ham and avocado sandwich or chicken and avocado one ( you will get good fats from avocado and protein from meat, and a bit of fibre from bread (not a lot but hey ho  – it’s a sandwich so it comes with bread!))

A good alternative to a sandwich (gluten free!) would be rice cakes with all sort of toppings from nut butters to honey, ham, chicken etc.

2. Always carry with you a bottle of water. Whenever you think you are hungry drink 200-250ml of water. Very often people misinterpret boredom and habit of snacking with the feeling of hunger.water3.  Snack on nuts, berries, protein bars, beef jerky, veg sticks (with humus) and fruit.

berries and nuts

4.  If you do crave sugar – have some dark chocolate.

  1. dark chocolate5. Take a book or a couple of magazines with you – keep yourself occupied so that you don’t get bored and start snacking on junk food.

books

STAYING OVERNIGHT IN A HOTEL? 

hotel

If you are trying to stay on track and not to overindulge while you are on a business (or a leisure) trip you can try the following:

  1. Take your healthy snacks with you (nuts mixed with dry or fresh berries, apples, pears, bananas, protein bars etc).
  2. Do have a treat drink with your meal but opt for red wine or vodka/gin with soda. And always order a jug of water to keep you hydrated
  3. If you are eating out  – go for a steak with veg and grilled mushrooms or fish/chicken dish (ask to serve you more veg or to give you extra mushrooms instead of chips (sweet potatoes are another option)). And there’s always a salad on the menu which is a great option (check about the dressing as they can contain more calories than your salad. Opt for olive oil and balsamic vinegar or similar)

rump-steak        4. Have a coffee (if it’s not too late) or a tea instead of a dessert or have some dark chocolate (or if it’s your treat meal – go for a dessert!).

        5.  Breakfast: full English GRILLED breakfast is your best choice (excluding fried bread and hush browns). You can even have a sneaky slice or black pudding or a sausage  (grilled). If the hotel you are staying at does porridge  – it is also a good choice (not my favourite but better than sugar laden cereals), though I would stick to the more protein rich breakfast of eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms to keep your energy levels up for a few hours.

full breakfast

And if you are used to exercising – you can always squeeze in a short 20 mins workout in your hotel room – push ups, sit ups, triceps dips, mountain climbers, planking, etc – there are loads of body weight exercises out there that you could do if you are limited for space! Most hotels do have gyms and swimming pools, which could be your other option.

HIIT-Blog-Pic

Thanks for reading the blog and if you have any questions please post them on here or pm me!

Natallia

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STEAM AWAY TO A HEALTHIER YOU!

 steam-engine-loco

 How can you lower cholesterol, lose weight, and get vitamins from a lamb chop? The answer is simple: by cooking with steam!

Steaming renders the fat from meat, leaving it in the water to be discarded. The conventional cooking methods broiling, baking and frying cook the fat back into the meat. Because steaming gets rid of fat, the meat is lower in calories and cholesterol. And you can steam just about everything!

vegies

►Do YOU have a steamer?

►Do you USE it or is it still in its packaging or in the shed or you can’t even remember what you’ve done to it?!

My guess is that almost all of us have a steamer but only 1 in 10 people (maybe even in 15) actually use it.

I must confess that I only bought one a few months ago but after buying it I cannot imagine now how I managed to survive without it for so long! If you are a busy mum/dad  – get yourself a steamer! It’s easy, tasty, and packed with goodies! And if cooking is not your strongest point (definitely not mine!) then a steamer is the solution to all your problems! You can steam chicken, fish, burgers, rice, veg, fruit – so basically almost anything and everything!

Here are just a few health benefits of steaming:

1. It retains food valuable nutrients, vitamins and mineral and maintains food moisture and freshness.

 vitamins

2. Steaming keeps food vibrant colors and natural flavors and softens food fibres, making food tender and easily digestible

vegies3

3. No need for cooking oil or fat, which results in light and healthy meals.

4. Cooks almost all kinds of food from vegetables to meats to seafood to fruits and pasta fast and easy – you have a complete meal in less than 30 minutes!

steamed food

5. Great alternative to white carbs and processed food.

bread rollsausage

6. If you have children – introduce them to the healthy colourful food from early ages! 

baby and veg

Hope I have managed to convince you to invest into a slow cooker!

And here’s one of my easy clean eating recipes:

STEAMED TURKEY BURGERS

 turkey burgers

500G lean turkey beef

1 onion finely grated

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste (I don’t add salt, just pepper)

parsley/coriander/or any other herbs

(you can also add wilted chopped spinach)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, shape them into burgers and steam for 35-40 mins. Serve with steamed broccoli and cauliflower or salad.

Enjoy 😉

Natallia

http://www.natalliasfitness.com

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Hi guys! This blog post isn’t about fitness, clean eating or anything exercise related. I came across this picture on Facebook last week and thought that these were the most true to life set of quotes combined together. We are all walking our own unique paths but I am quite positive that 99.9% of us could relate to the quotes below. 

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Love,

Natallia

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