Exercise and Weight Loss

Losing weight is a common health and fitness goal for many people for a variety of reasons. There are many ways to go about achieving this fitness goal, but there is also a lot of misleading information that can actually sabotage weight loss efforts!

If you are trying to lose weight then it is likely that you have adjusted your diet and that you are also regularly engaging in some kind of exercise. The following points are things that you should bear in mind when you are exercising and try to incorporate into your existing efforts!

Cardio

Cardio is known to be a great way to lose weight, but it has to be approached in a sensible way. If you overdo it with your cardio workouts then you are going to be causing harm to your body, and this can have an impact on your weight loss. This is because excessive amounts of cardio can cause inflammation.

Overdoing it when it comes to cardio can also mean that you end up eating more as you have used up a great deal of your energy stores! When you do too much cardio you will also be allowing your body to release excess levels of stress hormones into your body. These hormones can not only disrupt your sleep pattern, but can also cause your body to store more fat.

Mixing up the types of cardio that you engage in, and the amount that you do, is key to success here. Team sports and dancing are exciting alternatives to a 5km on the treadmill!

Ab Exercises

Exercising your abs is a great way to tone these muscles for definition. Also, the strength of your core is an important component of your overall optimum health. However, when you over-do it with the ab exercises when you are trying to lose weight, you could hinder your efforts. This is because exercises that develop the abs will help to build a layer of muscle in this area, and this can go against the slimming down of your waistline!

During the first few months of your weight loss attempt, I would advise that you mostly utilise short periods of cardio – around 20 minutes max – and then engage in weight training exercises that work the larger muscle groups. As you move towards your desired weight, you can then begin to include exercises that target the smaller muscles in order to improve overall muscle tone.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

My New Favourite Non-Alcoholic Beer

As with anything else, alcohol is something that should be enjoyed in moderation. And, the negative health effects of not heeding this advice can soon become apparent!

The number of people choosing to drink less, or not drink at all, is on the rise – which is of course great for the health of the nation! And for those of us who don’t necessarily want to drink alcohol, but still enjoy the pleasure of having a beer, there is an ever-impressive range of alcohol-free beers available!

Heineken Zero Alcohol Beer JulieMontagu

Stats show that drinking habits in the UK have experienced a change in the last 15 years, with alcohol consumption dropping by a massive 26% between 2002 and 2012! (Source).

Heineken have recently released their very own alcohol free beer, Heineken 0.0 and it is rapidly becoming a favourite amongst those abstaining. Made with the same high quality brewing process as their regular creations, the alcohol is then gently removed afterwards, leaving a slightly fruity taste with the usual malty flavour. I was able to attend the launch of Heineken 0.0 in Barcelona during the Grand Prix and it was heaven to sit on the beach and drink this delicious beer!

Spanish F1 Grand Prix - Heineken

So what are the health benefits of choosing the alcohol-free version of your drink of choice?

Well first of all, of course, there’s the calorie count. Non-alcoholic beers contain roughly half the calories of their alcoholic counterparts, making them a better option for those watching their weight. The new alcohol free Heineken 0.0, for example, has just 69 calories per bottle.

Secondly, drinking alcohol dehydrates your body, and your skin will be the most noticeable thing that pays the price for this! When you drink regularly, you will be depriving your skin of the vitamins and minerals it needs to look its best. You will probably have noticed that your face in particular looks puffy and dry after a night out!

Your body will benefit in many ways from sobriety, but your mind will also be much clearer and free of brain fuzz! What’s more is your memory will of course not be affected on a night out when you opt for a zero alcohol drink!

Is Your Sleep Cycle Causing You Harm?

Getting a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep every night is something that many of us are aware that we need to do, but the reality is that it is not always achievable!

There are many reasons why you might not get enough sleep – or enough good quality sleep. This could be because of a busy schedule that keeps you up late, a young child that wakes during the night, or perhaps disturbances from other sources, such as noisy neighbours!

Whatever the reason for a poor sleep cycle, it is important to address and work to resolve the problem in order to preserve and boost your health. The following issues can quickly appear when you are sleep deprived, and can lead to further health issues.

Fatigue

Fatigue can often be accompanied by a short temper and a lack of focus, which can quickly cause problems during your day! Being fatigued can also become a safety issue as your ability to drive and complete other tasks will become impaired.

Obesity

Studies have shown that those who sleep less tend to be at a higher risk of obesity. It has been suggested that this is because there is a higher presence of leptin when a person is sleep deprived. Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full. Sleep deprivation also causes increased levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.

Illness

If a poor sleep cycle is a consistent problem then your immune system will soon become compromised and your overall health will suffer. This can contribute to the onset of relatively small health problems, such as a cough or cold, but can also lead to much more significant issues over time, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The risk of developing diabetes appears to be particularly prevalent in those who regularly sleep for less than five hours each night.  This is thought to be because a lack of sleep changes the way that the body processes glucose.

If you are aware that your sleep cycle is becoming damaging to your health, and your life in general, then it is important to take steps to improve the length and quality of the sleep that you enjoy. This is something that I will be discussing in a blog post next week, so check back soon!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Handle Your Hormones

Mood swings can strike at any time and although there are certain common likely causes, it is something that can’t always be managed in the same way.

What Are Mood Swings

Your mood swings may be characterised by a variety of things, such as unexplained crying or unjustified irritability. It is important to remember that although your emotions may seem out of proportion, your feelings in each moment are still valid and true, and there is no need to beat yourself up about this!

Diet & Gut Health

A hormonal imbalance is a likely cause when it comes to mood swings, and this can be handled by addressing your lifestyle and making positive changes where necessary. This will largely be in relation to your diet. Your diet can impact your emotions in several ways, and it will also have an impact on the health of your gut. Your gut health is linked to your mood, and it is important to play close attention to this aspect of your overall health. The bacteria in your intestines will influence your hormones, and this of course will then impact your mood. So, a large presence of good bacteria will go a long way to helping!

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent is one of the best ways to keep your mood from fluctuating. You may think that skipping a meal will help you to lose weight, or save you time if you have a busy schedule. But doing so can actually wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling annoyed, fatigued and generally unhappy. Fortunately, you can keep your blood sugar levels up by regularly eating nutritious foods, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks!

Sleep & Stress

In addition to your diet, certain lifestyle factors such as sleep will also influence your hormones and therefore your mood. When you do not get enough sleep your body will produce excess levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This will put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands, and can cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is super important for keeping your mood up, and you should always try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep, or find that you are often waking in the night, then you may find some relief by drinking soothing herbal teas before you go to bed.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Get a Good Nights Sleep

We all know that getting between seven and eight  hours of uninterrupted sleep every night is best for optimum health but we also know that it isn’t always easy! For some people getting this much sleep might sound like a luxury as opposed to a necessity but it is essential if you want to maintain optimum health and look and feel your best. If you are one of these people who understands the importance of sleep but does not always manage an adequate amount then the following tips could help you to remedy the problem.

The first thing you should do is turn your bedroom, or at least your sleeping area, into a sanctuary. Make sure it is always clean, comfortable and free of distractions. It is also a good idea to make sure that any outside light is blocked and also that the room is neither too hot nor too cold.

Setting yourself a bedtime might be an amusing concept and something that you haven’t been subject to since childhood but it can really help to organise your sleep. If you know that you have to be up for work at 6 a.m then make sure you are on your way to bed at 21:30. This gives you plenty of time to wind down, get comfortable and fall into an eight hour sleep.

Your actions prior to bedtime can also determine if you get a good sleep or not. Most importantly, do not consume any alcohol, refined sugar or caffeine in the hours before you go to bed. Even if it does not keep you awake to begin with, it is likely to cause you to wake in the early hours. Choosing herbal tea or a warm plant-based milk drink will help relax your body and ease you into sleep. You might also find that a warm bath with lavender oil will also help to relax you.

Meditation and mindful breathing are the perfect pre-bedtime activity. Your sleep sanctuary can also become your space for meditation. You can even try meditating lying down in bed in order to wind down from your day and eradicate any negative thoughts. You simply have to lie back, breathe through your nose and concentrate on your breathing while you imagine all negativity and stress leaving your body. Do this for between five and ten minutes and you will find that your mind is much clearer as you fall asleep.

Once you are sleeping properly you will quickly notice that your energy levels increase, your mind is more balanced and you may also find that your weight is more stable. You will soon adjust to your new routine and this positivity will follow you into other areas of your life!

Why is Vitamin D Essential for Optimal Health?

As many of my clients are already aware, vitamin D is one of the only vitamin supplements that I often recommend people include. Getting an adequate amount of this vitamin is incredibly important and unfortunately many of us fail to do so! Experts have predicted that at least one billion people around the globe are deficient in this vitamin. A quick blood test will determine your vitamin D levels and an optimum range is between 50-80 ng/ml. On the other hand, it is also important not to overdose on vitamin D as excess amounts will remain in your system, often leading to high blood calcium levels, nausea and sometimes even kidney stones.

The main roles that vitamin D has in the body are to maintain bone mass, help the body to properly absorb calcium and also to protect against injury whilst also alleviating any musculoskelatal pain.

Your immune system is one of several aspects of your body that will benefit from optimum vitamin D levels. This is especially true if you are an athlete or if you are someone who engages in regular exercise. Strenuous workouts can have quite an impact on the body and keeping healthy is key to efficient recovery. Vitamin D helps to defend the body in this way and combats viruses.

Your brain will also benefit from this vitamin, with studies showing that cognitive function is improved as the damage caused by free radicals is reduced. Not only does this mean that your general brain activity in the present is optimised, but also that your risk of degenerative diseases becomes less. Alzheimer’s is one disease that is thought to have strong links to decreased levels of vitamin D.

Testosterone levels, in men and women, are directly influenced by the amount of vitamin D present in the body. In fact, those who are taking testosterone for hormone replacement therapy are generally advised to take a weekly dose of vitamin D in order to keep their levels of testosterone up. Testosterone plays a huge role in building and maintaining muscles and making sure vitamin D levels are adequate will aid this process.

As we can see, this is an extremely useful and essential aspect of our basic nutrition. The best ways to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D are to enjoy sufficient time outdoors in the sunlight, consume foods that are high in this vitamin and then also of course you can take supplements if you find the first two option aren’t hitting the quota.

If you feel like you might be lacking in any areas of your nutrition, then click to get a nutrition consultation!