Keeping focused in the gym..

12 04 2012

Entering the lions cage

I walked into the gym today, that stale smell of festering sweat and grime hit me like a giant custard pie in the face. Always on edge, the moment I walked through the door, I could sense hostility and rage in the air. Now im not going to say what gym I go to for obvious reasons but I think I have seen cleaner student halls than this! The machines wouldn’t look out of place in a small town called bedrock let alone most of the brainless meatheads that are grunting and snarling! For some reason the gym is thriving! Its absolutely packed out every evening and now I think I know what a battery hen feels like.

After battling the dirty looks and 3rd world facilities it was time to get focused which is easier said than done. Do you find it easy to focus yourself in the gym? If not, I have written a few easy steps to help with keep you on track and stay focused to take on any challenge.

Keeping a training diary

Amongst all of the distractions listed above its a constant battle to remain focused on the goal ahead. So being clear on your goal is imperative. Its important to keep the wider picture in mind. Imagine it like planting a seed. It takes time to grow and you need to nurture it to get it to grow and develop into a beautiful plant of flower. Keeping a diary is a great way to visualise what you need to aim for. Whether it be squatting 5 more Kilos or cycling 2 more minutes if its written down its there in black and white.

Timing it right 

Going to the gym is your time to focus on training and your goals for a small part of the day. Don’t think about problems or troubles from the day as this is your time to get away from it! Pick a time of the day when you feel you can train with a clear mind. it might be after work when you want to escape and unwind or before work when you have a fresh mind from a good nights sleep. Finding your routine is key and you need to figure out the optimal time for your training to benefit the most. If you feel there is never a good time for you then you may want to reassess your goals!

Pump up the jam

Music in my opinion makes a training session. I wait for that base to kick in and boom im lifting strong and trying to hold back from shouting out the lyrics! Create your playlist to match the training you are doing. If you are taking part in endurance training then think about something that keeps you going over a distance. For explosive weight training I like to use music with a quick pace and beat. So get your playlist tailored for your goal.

Form, technique and more technique 

When I first started training, my coach at the time used to constantly stress the importance of practicing good form as to avoid any unwanted injuries. I used to give it the old ”yeah yeah” because I knew better right? Wrong. Once you have an injury (and I have had a few) it can be hard to shift and can halt your training and crush your confidence. Concentrating on form and technique helps you keep focused on the task in hand. Those sunbed soaked, hair free, pretty boys flexing their pecs in the mirror might look ridiculous but the mirrors in the gym are great to check on your form and make sure you are completing the exercises properly and keeping you focused.

Finding focus will find results

Training requires processive increases in workload to progress and see results. The classic saying you dont know where your going if you dont know where you’ve been comes to mind. Planning is essential and keeping a log will complement this. If you find yourself standing around on your phone texting then you know you have lost focus.

Have you had any issues with focusing on training? Let me know.





11 04 2012

nutritionalminds

A common problem I have encountered for a while in the work place is ‘crashing’ mid afternoon. It is sometimes unpredictable and brutal and it takes no prisoners! Being sat at a desk all day, I especially notice this after lunch when the formidable ‘wall of doom’ faces you. The shear inevitable looming for most of us has just become a part of our lives and many people just accept it. It may not happen for all of us and if it doesn’t then consider yourself lucky. However for those that face this demon, I have taken a quick look at how we can tame the beast.

Looking at research it can be put forward that the primary cause of the mid-afternoon crash is diet-related. Another major factor can be due to having only carbohydrates for breakfast and no protein. How does this affect us?

After a long nights sleep our bodies have gone…

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Facing the wall. Crashing and burning…the mid afternoon hurdle.

10 04 2012

A common problem I have encountered for a while in the work place is ‘crashing’ mid afternoon. It is sometimes unpredictable and brutal and it takes no prisoners! Being sat at a desk all day, I especially notice this after lunch when the formidable ‘wall of doom’ faces you. The shear inevitable looming for most of us has just become a part of our lives and many people just accept it. It may not happen for all of us and if it doesn’t then consider yourself lucky. However for those that face this demon, I have taken a quick look at how we can tame the beast.

Looking at research it can be put forward that the primary cause of the mid-afternoon crash is diet-related. Another major factor can be due to having only carbohydrates for breakfast and no protein. How does this affect us?

After a long nights sleep our bodies have gone without nutrients and are practically in starvation mode. That’s why it’s called “breakfast” get it? The first meal of the day is the most important and many people skip it and then complain they are hungry mid morning! Its important to look at what your plan is for the day and then eat accordingly. Now for the boring part.

The Glycemic Index

Carbohydrates come in two forms. Simple, that hit the blood fast and provide a quick energy source and and complex, that release energy over time by entering the system slower. The Glycemic Index has been monumental in calculating the rates at which certain carbohydrates are released into the blood stream. The Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a particular carbohydrate is formed into glucose and enters the body.

Below is a list of some foods that are “Low Glycemic”, and are recommended for sustained energy levels:

  • Nuts
  • Pasta
  • Dairy ( Skim milk, whole milk, yogurt)
  • Fruits (ONLY-plums, peaches, apples, oranges, pears, grapes, grapefruit)(containing fructose)
  • Rice (brown
  • Sweet potato
  • Oats
  • All-bran
  • Most Vegetables ( exceptions- carrots, corn, root vegetables)
Below is a list of some of the foods that are “High Glycemic”(quickly absorbed, high insulin response):
  • Sugars (from high to low: Maltose, Glucose, Sucrose)
  • Honey
  • Puffed cereals (white rice, wheat, corn, rice cakes)
  • Potatoes
  • Breads (especially white bread)
  • Carrots, corn, peas
  • Flaked cereals (corn flakes, etc.)
The golden child protein
When Protein is added to a meal it lowers the GI because it has to be liquefied in the stomach before it is released into the intestines for absorption.

Taking into account both low and high GI foods we can mix them both together to come up with an ideal breakfast to get us through the morning right up to lunch. An ideal combination for breakfast would be Oats and Milk for our low GI foods, Eggs for our protein source and Fruit for our high GI foods. Now that may sound like a terrible combination but I can assure you its one of the best tasting breakfasts around!

Its no secret that people want something quick and convenient in the morning and this recipe should take a total of 5 minutes to prepare and consume!

  1. Take half a cup of oats, and put them into a blender
  2. Take a handfull of berries and a banana with two cups of milk and pour into the blender
  3. Pour 4 egg whites (pasteurised in a carton – available from most supermarkets) into the blender and our mix is ready
  4. Blend the mixture for 30 seconds and you have a great tasting and nutritionally sound quick and easy breakfast. A great start to the day.

Less and more often  

Using the same theory, our lunch can follow suit. We need to make sure we are not consuming too many high GI carbs. So those of you who think you are being healthy by eating a jacket potato for lunch are then crashing mid afternoon and are wondering why. Eating smaller meals more regularly can help keep our energy levels from spiking too high or too low. Think about swapping those potatoes or white bread sandwiches for sweet potato and brown bread. Low GI foods will help sustain your energy levels and when mixed with protein again lowers the GI further.

Keeping our blood sugar levels stable is key to maintaining a consistent energy level throughout the day. So if we eat smaller portions more frequently we are helping our body manage a sustained release of blood sugars meaning our energy levels remain consistent. There are also other key benefits to eating more regularly. Our metabolism is kept fired up and therefore helps it to do its job sustaining our weight. Think about a fire being constantly stoked and supplied with wood/coal, its going to burn bright and its the same with our metabolism.

Grabbing the bull by the horns

I am sometimes a major culprit of using the mid afternoon crash as a reason and excuse not to train or exercise in the evenings. This is bad news as it stops us from reaching our goals and can become a vicious cycle.  What can we do to prevent this from happening?

Firstly getting breakfast nailed is our first step. Using a similar recipe as per above can be a start. We should then think about a snack before lunch depending on what time you have your lunch. As I have a late lunch so I like to snack in between with a handfull of nuts and and some dried fruit. Lunch should remain a modest portion depending again on your plan of action for the day and or evening. As I tend to hit the gym after work I like to make sure I eat enough low GI carbs. One example includes a portion of brown rice with a large helping of green vegetables and some chicken. Again after lunch and in between dinner I reach for a small snack. I usually either grab a protein shake or bar making sure they contain low sugar and quality ingredients! Another key in all of this is to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Keeping hydrated should help concentration levels and dont be afraid you may need to pop to the toilet more often. Regular walks from your desk can get the blood flowing again.

If you want to defeat this tyrant and smash the wall down then looking at diet is essential. I’d be interested to hear back from you if you experience this. Have you had any issues with the mid afternoon crash? Let me know.