26 May 2011

Don't get caught out!

Hi folks,

Have you ever noticed that we rarely eat the ‘bad foods’ intentionally? Foods that contain excessive salt, sugar, & saturates are either consumed in one of two ways:

1)      By eating foods that we don’t realise are high in these categories.

2)      By being tempted on-the-go by items, adverts or special offers.

If you’re like me, you will struggle with no.2.  I try to eat healthy balanced nutrition & my shopping list looks amazing, but then I fall victim to the biscuit / sweet isle or succumb to the isle-end special offers. Another hurdle is to drive on past that takeaway drive- through that springs up at every roundabout. Here are a few strategies to help you stop falling in to these habits:

         Know the basic food groups & do a few quick checks of the food labels before you drop them in your trolley (even the ones that you trust can be misleading!)

         Think about where that food has come from & any processes it may have been through to reach your plate.

         Plan your shopping list in advance & stick to it. (schedule small treats in)

         Only buy special offers if it’s something you would already buy.

         Sail right passed the isles that contain unhealthy foods – don’t give temptation the chance!

         Put treats at the back of the top shelf in your cupboard until u really want them, this will stop you grabbing them when you actually went in there for something else!

Research says that you have to do something / not do something 21 times before it becomes a habit. I’m not sure if this is true or not but it can’t hurt - pick one of the point above that’s relevant to you & your goal is to nail it 21 times! 

Let me know how you get on,


19 May 2011

Mind over matter in your workforce!

Hi folks,

Despite it making tasks a lot easier, I’m not going to teach you how to turn your workforce in to Jedi’s. However, in the more recently published research papers on the management of musculoskeletal conditions (lower back pain, repetitive strain injury, etc), emphasis has been put on the mind of the worker – their attitudes. It’s easy to see how physical exercises & ergonomic aids can reduce such conditions but how can their psychology impact on them?

Here are a few of what we call ‘yellow flag’ psychosocial characteristics:

Ø     Believing that any physical injury is harmful long-term & leads
            to severe disability.

Ø      Avoiding activities in fear that it may cause injury / staying inactive.

Ø      Refraining from communication / social interaction with colleagues & management.

Ø      Believing that prolonged rest is a better management strategy than being active.

If an employee’s mindset ticks the boxes above then they are putting themselves (& those they influence) at a higher exposure to developing work-relevant physical health conditions.

As you can see, much of this is about creating a positive mindset to health & work in each employee, therefore breeding a new workplace culture – not any easy thing to do. The best way to achieve this is by investing in your employees & engaging with their individual job experiences through my Occupational Fitness Workplace Workshops. This type of training has proved a fantastic rate of return, so in this tough economic climate the question is “Can your company afford NOT to have this training?”

Thanks & have a great weekend


12 May 2011

Alternative lunches

Hi folks,

Two weeks ago I posted a template for a balanced day’s nutrition. However I realise that staff canteen facilities differ greatly from workplace to workplace. A well rounded meal needs to contain some protein, some complex carbohydrate, some fibre, & some vitamins in the form of vegetables & fruit. So, here’s a little further help if you, like me, live out of your packed lunch box with only a kettle & microwave for company:

Home made batches – make up a large batch of spaghetti bolognaise or chili using 5% fat mince beef, tinned tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, & season with chili powder or mixed herbs to taste. This can be refrigerated & then reheated with pasta or baked potato at work!

While this is slowly cooking, why not make up a big tub of fresh fruit salad, or mixed salad leaves with spring onions, radishes & cherry tomatoes to use throughout the week too?

Other healthy meal ideas that can be stored in a container & reheated or eaten cold are:

         Cold turkey, brown pasta, sliced red pepper, & spring onion, lightly seasoned & drizzle with olive oil.

         Flaked salmon into brown rice with sweetcorn & chopped leeks.

         Mini boiled potatoes mixed with sliced boiled eggs, grated beetroot & carrot, lightly seasoned.

         Chicken, mushrooms & spring onion, on a mound of egg noodles lightly seasoned or drizzled in sweet chili sauce.

         Tinned mixed beans, mixed leaf salad, sliced peppers, sweetcorn, crusty brown bread, seasoned & olive oil.

Liven your lunch up a bit for a tasty change! All it needs is a little preparation the night before & you’ll be the envy of all the boring stodgy sandwich munchers.



5 May 2011

Supping energy drinks?

Hi Folks,

In both the fitness and the workplace environment, people are always asking my opinion on the effects of energy drinks. Below is my advice on their use & effects:

If you are exercising continuously for 90 minutes or more, and to a high intensity (breathing heavily) our glycogen stores (preferred energy source from carbs) begin to run out. At this intensity your body cannot effectively convert stored fat to energy so this means our body may then start to break down muscle tissue for an emergency energy source. The sugary carbohydrates in an isotonic energy drink taken halfway through the long session will help prevent this.

If you regularly drink energy drinks at work or when not exercising then you may be damaging your body. When your body experiences a boost in sugars, your pancreas releases insulin to help remove the high sugar concentration in your blood stream to your cells. Initially you feel the positive affects but around one hour later you experience an energy crash which makes us want to drink another one (mood swings). By continuously taking such drinks & not burning off their energy, your pancreas is taking a hammering & your insulin levels become erratic. If this is a regular habit of your lifestyle then you are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes where your cells become insulin resistant.

Here’s my quote…‘If you’re not going to use it – lose it! However, if you do need to use energy drinks then why not try making your own? 50% squeezed orange fruit juice, 50% water, with a sprinkle of salt to compensate for sodium loss.