Exercise the way you feel comfortable

This article first appeared on Grazia Daily on 10 September, 2015


Image: Instagram.com/lovelypepa

‘Gymtimidation’ has become a real worry for people looking to lose weight and be healthy. It’s something which affects a large percentage of our population because the perception attached to regular workouts in the gym often intimidates new or potential members.

The image of skinny girls in crop tops and booty shorts is what comes to mind when we think about gym and this has made people, mainly women who are trying to get into shape, feel ashamed of attending a gym. They become self-conscious of what people will say/think of them and therefore don’t go.

Gareth Powell, sports science and nutritional expert at USN, suggests ways in which you can conquer gymtimidation:

·         Don’t compare yourself to anybody. Your only competition is yourself. You don’t know the other person’s story, what drives them and how long they have been training. Research shows that the main reason why people refrain from attending a gym is because of psychological reasons. They are either afraid of being laughed at, fear of the environment or are uncomfortable in their own skin because ‘fit and beautiful’ surrounds them.

·         If you’re worried about entering a gym and not knowing what to do, where to start and how to use the machines, ask one of the knowledgeable and friendly floor staff. You can even log on to YouTube and search for different video tutorials that show you how to work every muscle and even learn fun routines to practice at home so you know what to do at the gym. Also explore the possibility of getting a personal trainer to show you the reigns and get you into a workout routine to ease your fear. This will help you train with the correct form and will avoid you injuring yourself as a result.

·         Find a gym or fitness alternative which suits you best. There are many alternatives to a commercial gym available to you.  If it’s not your thing, try new workouts lie outdoor planned fitness classes, running clubs or CrossFit – which is hardcore High intensity Interval Training exercises performed under restricted time constraints. There are also gyms for unique needs such as Roark and Curves; entering these gyms if you are uncomfortable with your weight are not as intimidating.

·         Dress in a way that makes you comfortable and not the way you feel you should dress. This doesn’t mean that you should get the most expensive and trendy clothes for the gym, it’s about having the right underwear, pants, shoes and socks. This is important for you to feel comfortable, confident and to avoid injuries.

·         Popping in earphones and working out to a playlist of music you love will also ease anxiety by blocking out the people and gear around you. It’ll make you feel less self-conscious and more in your own world.

·         Join a group class. This will help you blend into your surroundings, help you socialise and make friends to gym with while increasing your fitness level in a fun way.

“Gym should not be a place which is feared but rather a place which improves people’s health and wellness. Don’t let your mind get the better of you. By following the above tips – you will not be a victim of gymtimidation,”says Powell. “Take it a day at a time and always remain positive and have a goal in mind. Remember your mind the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.”


The article first appeared on Grazia Daily on July 13, 2015

Image: Instagram/tripsiu

Keeping fit and eating healthy in the midst of the winter cold can be quite a challenge. This time of the year proves to be the hardest season to maintain your healthy lifestyle approach because we are faced with the dark mornings and cold winter evenings. Winter can also cause people to become less productive – your appetite for carbohydrates increases, your sleep duration increases and your mood and motivation levels change which can be a sign of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

If your diet is working for you and you are seeing progression, a change may not be necessary, however consider adding some food variety. “The advantage of rotating foods is that your gut can become more efficient at processing a broader range of foods. This can be beneficial, especially with the abundance and variety of root vegetables available over the winter season and as we change our foods and cooking methods,” says Gareth Powell, nutrition and sports science expert at USN.

Follow these top ten tips and tricks suggested by Powell to help you get or keep your summer body in winter:

1.    Maintain your summer mood:

Get out into the sun for at least 15-30 minutes each day. This is our main source of Vitamin D, which is essential for bone and teeth formation and helps the body to release serotonin, a hormone that has been shown to lift our mood. When you are in a good mood you tend to crave fewer carbohydrates and fatty foods in the winter months.

2.    Alter your diet:

Make sure that you are eating highly nutritious, vitamin rich foods with each meal. Trade off starches like potato, rice, breads and pastas for an increase in green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and vegetable broths. This way, you are ensuring that you meet your calorie requirements, while guaranteeing a higher intake of nutrients. Slow roasts, pot roasts and stews are the order of the day! Even if you have those carbohydrate cravings, you can still eat with a significant variety and satisfaction without going overboard on the calories. Incorporate a good quality Omega 3 supplement, such as USN Omega 3 which provides support for the heart, nervous system, cellular and hormonal health, while ensuring optimal eye health.

3.    Eat with variety as the main factor:

Look at including seasonal fruits and vegetables and the alternative cuts of meat (a chuck roast for example). Ensuring constant variety in your diet means you will get a range of nutrients and ensure the goodness required from a home cooked, hearty and very healthy meal! Don’t forget your dairy, nuts and fruit complement in your diet, which can work well as snacks.

Image: Instagram/amalie_design

4.    Keep hydrated:

Drink water as required, or just aim to stick to a minimum of two liters per day. Getting the correct amount of water in plays an important role in the human body. If water seems like a boring beverage option, zest it up with freshly sliced lemons, strawberries or kiwi fruits. Go for healthy herbal teas as another source.

5.    Supplement your diet:

If there are shortfalls in your diet that cannot be met through a food selection change, make sure that you are taking all of the precautions by supplementing at the right levels early on. Not only will this potentially keep you healthier throughout winter, but it will support your recovery levels and immunity. Make sure you use a comprehensive daily supplement such as the USN Ultra V Daily packs. By doing so you are able to stay healthy and get all your daily nutrients. This option includes all the vital vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids, plant sterols, cognitive performance supporters, as well as support for bone and joint health.

6.    Supplementation should be adjusted according to your goals:

The variety of supplementation available is vast, and selecting the right products help you support and achieve your desired goal faster is what you should be looking for. Since supplementation in the form of snack replacements and protein supplements provides at most 10-15% of your calorie yield on a daily basis, significant changes are not usually necessary, but starting with the right base is.

7.    Sustain your workout routines:

Most people struggle with the early morning and late evening training sessions. If you are one of those who feel more lethargic in winter, move your training time to your lunch times. Have a high intensity lactate-based workout as this enables the body to increase oxygen uptake to improve energy and endurance when training. You only need 25-30 minutes of this training medium to see real results. Alternatively, if you have the facilities and opportunity, try to get out into a park and to do organised group runs with friends or colleagues. You will then get your exposure to sunlight as well as the benefits of your training. To compliment your exercise routine, make use of a good quality workout protein supplement, such as USN Whey + which offers you immune support through its high levels of Biological Value protein and will keep you feeling fresh and energized throughout the day.

Image: Instagram/wellsome_jemalee


8.    Beat the cold if you have to:

Move indoors, this will reduce your exposure to the cold, and you will maintain a higher body temperature in a controlled environment. If you have time to train throughout the day, and then aim to attend exercise classes such as yoga or Pilates with a friend or a quick run on the treadmill. In addition, consider wearing base-layers, designed to provide comfort and support during the colder months, and they are easily removed if you get too hot. Always wear warm clothes to gym and out of gym to avoid rapid core temperature changes.

9.    Invest more time in your warm up:

When it’s cold the body takes longer to warm up. A cold start can result in injury, since training without an adequate warm-up can lead to shock in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Take more time to focus on warming up with every session. Do five to ten minutes of light cardio on the treadmill or bicycle at the gym, or jog around the block – ensure your muscles are warm and ready for your exercise routine to follow. It is also equally important to do a warm-down routine after you have exercised to stretch your muscles out to avoid cramping and injury. Do five minutes of light cardio coupled with five minutes of stretching.

10.  Correct your sleeping patterns:

Make sure that you are sleeping six to eight hours per night. Reduce the use of electronic equipment in the evenings (cell phone, tablets and other devices) as this can stimulate the retina and wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns.

 “I would like to believe that people are health conscious all year around, however we do get heavily influenced by trends, fads and short-term solutions as we begin our journey to wellness. By following these tips you can maintain your healthy self throughout the winter,” concludes Powell.

Panicked perseverance

Today marked the beginning of the second week of in-depth for #teamvuvu. It was definitely a vibe in the newsroom in comparison to last week Monday when we started our research project. People were generally more relaxed but at the same time, the stress was kicking in.

We have six more days left of research before we are thrown into production next week. Some people were quite disheartened today, as I observed, due to many hindering factors which were bound to kick in at some point.

Not having sufficient sources who are willing to talk to us, people phones being off and thus being unable to reach them and the pressure of knowing that our time is running out and our final drafts of our features are due this week.

The lingering thought at the back of all our mind is: do we have enough information to write a 2000 word feature. Not a storytelling feature but something which reflects, through in-depth research, our topic excellently, after all this is investigative journalism and not sunshine journalism.

I suppose at this point it’s looking dim for some of us however, from past experience of being in this situation I know that when Friday or Sunday comes around everything will work itself out and we will cope. ‘Pressure makes diamonds’ as the old saying goes.

I would say I am one of the people who is feeling the pressure a little bit because I’m apprehensive about things going according to plan, because sometimes things tend to fall apart at the last minute.

I have an interview with Mr Pon and his family on Wednesday, however I was suppose to meet him today and on arrival at his firework shop on Commissioner Street I was told that he had left to buy more stock as Diwali is approaching and there will be a lot of business coming to his shop. I tried to call Mr Pon but to no avail.

I understand he is a busy man and therefore I will try again tomorrow and wait it out at his shop if I have to, so I can finalise the last minute details with him before Wednesday rolls around. After, Wednesday I can say I can breathe again because that would be the bulk of my story done. All I would have to do is my multimedia and write up feature, this should be quick as I have already done all the research I need to.

I think that what I have learnt is that you cannot give up your journey at every road block you approach because then you will never reach your destination. It’s just like seeing a beautiful rainbow after the storm. It’s the same principal, eventually your bad luck (if you can call it that) will run out and that is when the good has a crack to seep through.

I hope to crack before Wednesday and see that beautiful rainbow. Until then I will continue to fill that pot of gold and persevere. As someone once told me: “Nothing good comes easy”.