Exercise & Mental Health

Exercise is the perfect way to maintain your physical health, muscle size and the way you look, it can even add years onto your life and we don’t think it can get much better than that. But in fact it can, the benefits go beyond just physicality. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health, even if you are already feeling perfectly okay, exercise will make you feel that little bit better!

But the point we are trying to make here is that if you are currently in a state of low mental health, something as simple as exercise can work wonders for you. We asked some of our Xercise4Less members how exercise has helped them mentally and we received only positive responses.

Member responses to how exercise has impacted their mental health and well being:

  • Taking an hour myself at the gym helps calm my busy mind
  • It stops me thinking too much. For an hour or 2 it’s my escape and therapy
  • Xercise4Less motivates me everyday
  • Exercise helped me when I was at my lowest. It allowed me to escape and have time for me
  • It helped me control my mind in difficult situations
  • It helps relieve tension and makes me sleep better. Always feel less stressed after training
  • The gym is my therapy
  • It gives me something to look forward to work on, and to keep going
  • Helped me to lessen my anxiety, improve my thought processes and clear my mind

So if you are feeling doom and gloom, we can assure you that a work out will get you out of that mentality.

Exercising stimulates changes in the brain giving you a more positive outlook on life, some of these changes are neural growth and reduced inflammation, as well as just a general sense of well-being.

So whilst you are breaking out a sweat, the exercise that you are doing produces protein that is released into the bloodstream, this protein helps the growth of new nerves and synapses, so you are not only making your body stronger, but also your brain, which can only be a positive for someone who may be struggling mentally.

Exercise is a completely natural remedy for mental treatment and introducing it into your lifestyle also brings along a sense of routine, another great benefit, as mental health is disruptive and can turn our worlds upside down and we feel a complete loss of control, this feeling can bring on a whole host of negative emotions so forming a healthy habit like an exercise routine helps you to regain control, reducing your stress levels.

 Speaking of stress, have you ever noticed how your muscles feel when you are stressed? Tense and achy? Well exercise helps to release these up tight feelings and relieves the tension in your body, relaxing your muscles.

How to tone your muscles

barbell curls-upper body workout guide

Everyone has their own fitness goals, whether it’s to bulk up or slim down, or to just improve your all around health. There are countless goals for you to achieve from working out in the gym, but today we are going to talk you through how to reach a popular goal, to tone up.

Toning your muscles requires time and patience, similar to any other goal, it is not achieved overnight. Consistency is key. You can stay consistent by working out 4-5 times a week, don’t work out every single day, much like your phone your muscles need to rest and re-charge. Aim to work out on these days for at least 30 minutes. But this is a marathon not a sprint, everyone starts at different stages.

Incorporate weights into your exercise. Use weights that challenge your strength, but ensure you can manage just over 2 sets of 10 repetitions. Start off low and add weights as you go, don’t go heavy too quickly as this can cause injury. Body weight exercises work wonders for toning your muscles, these are exercises such as push ups or planking.

To tone your muscles, full body exercising helps a great deal. Cardio is the best day to do this, all cardiovascular exercise will allow you to tone all areas of your body, as well as lowering the risk of mental and physical health problems! High intensity interval training is a quick, effective method of cardio that helps burn fat and tone your muscles. This requires performing exercises at a high intensity for short periods of time, resting and repeating! To try this you can head to one of our treadmills, set the treadmill as fast as you can go for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, please take precaution when running at a fast speed.

Toning requires building muscle and reducing body fat to increase the appearance of muscles. It is essential in every major fitness change to have consistent diet alongside regular exercise. Ensure to have plenty of fruit and vegetables and aim to reach your 5 a day. Carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats, quinoa and pasta are also helpful in reducing the body’s intake of saturated fat, which will increase the appearance of your muscles. And finally, ensure you eat a sufficient amount of protein as this helps you build muscles, foods such as eggs, chicken and almonds are great protein sources for an all-round balanced diet.

Why not take advantage of a complimentary consultation to discuss with your 4FiiT PT how to achieve this in a way best suited to you?

Don’t forget, everyone has their own methods and goals, this is just some advice to support you along the way if your goal is to tone up! 

Relationship with Food

A lot of people have looked in to fad diets and quick fixes for weight loss, and yes they may get you the results you want and fast, but the truth is, they are just not a realistic lifestyle choice that you can maintain and they are not good for you. So before you click purchase on your next lot of food supplements or juice diet packages, just take a little moment to read on and find out why having a healthy and enjoyable relationship with food is so important.

First of all, stop restricting yourself from the things that you love! Everybody loves food and everybody needs food so why would we ever want to restrict our bodies from what it needs to keep us going? Eating foods that we love helps to release serotonin which is a chemical in the brain that makes us feel better emotionally, which means that food makes us happy and the key to being healthy is to be happy. So if you want to eat that donut, then eat it, because everything is okay in moderation. Scattering out your naughty treats throughout the week is much better for you and your calorie intake than waiting until the evening or weekend, when you get hunger pangs for something sweet, also you are less likely to binge when you have balanced out your treats moderately. Not only is the restricting and bingeing cycle unhealthy but it also will leave you feeling full of guilt, making you dislike food, resulting in you going back to your restrictive ways of eating for another week.

A varied diet packed with all the nutrients from carbohydrates, protein, pulses, fruit, vegetables and many more is the best way to maintain a sustainable diet, nourishing your body with all these food types makes eating so much more exciting and something that you can look forward too and even experiment with. If you are looking to maintain your current weight or to lose weight, you can still eat all of the things that you enjoy! With weight loss you will just need to maintain a calorie deficit which is a shortage in the amount of calories you take in each day, cutting the calories is not to about restricting yourself of foods and being left to go hungry in order to make sure you don’t exceed your chosen deficit amount, it is about the choices you make throughout the day, fill your plates with greens and low calorie goodness alongside of your carbohydrates and protein and you will then have a full stomach without the calories! Then add in the odd cheat meal a couple of times per week and you will have mastered this in no time. This way of eating alongside of a moderate workout plan will leave you loving life and not worrying about gaining the pounds or feeling unhealthy.

Following restrictive diet plans and putting yourself through liquid diets can have a negative impact on your body and mentality in numerous ways, some of these are; as mentioned earlier, it can result in cravings and binges, it can lead to an excessive calorie deficit which will damage gym performance, loss of general motivation, mood swings and create feelings of depression.

Xercise4Less want to promote to our members that a moderate and balanced lifestyle is the key to living healthily and a good relationship with food is of upmost importance, because we put food into our bodies every day and it is easy to lose sight of why and what we are eating for!

Eat food for happiness, fulfilment and balance, don’t eat food for the scale.

Tips for busy mums

Being a mum is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job, and with such a responsibility sometimes it’s hard to fit in your ideal fitness regime! That’s why we’ve put some tips together to give you, well deserving mothers, the self-care that you need.

Struggling to find an hour or so to train? Try HIIT! High intensity interval training allows you to do your weekly cardio, for half the time! Short spurts of maximum effort keeps your heart rate high and your blood pumping, you’re guaranteed to work up a sweat in as little as 15 minutes and you’ll feel great after. Trust us, it’s worth the extra effort for that short space of time.

Take your family with you! Outdoor hiking, cycling or running is a great way to bond with your family, and keep everyone fit. With the weather slowly improving, there’s no excuse to postpone family time for some fresh air. Why not exercise while spending time with the people you love the most?

We know it’s hard to stick to a balanced diet when ensuring all your children’s nutritional needs are fulfilled, meal prep the key! Prepare all of your meals in advance to ensure you receive your share of a balanced diet, keep these in Tupperware and store them in your fridge/freezer. This is perfect way to reach your goals if you’re stretched for time. Just pop it in the microwave to heat it up and PING! You’re good to go.

Mum time. Book a class through the Xercise4Less app that fits in with your schedule, within just 30-60 minutes, you’ll to come out the gym glowing and feeling great. Not only this, you’ll meet fellow mums with the same goal as you – to feel your best. Book your class today.

Whatever your fitness goals are as a mum, don’t be afraid to want to feel your best. It’s okay to not exercise every day! You’re doing a great job, and Xercise4Less are here to support your journey every step of the way. 

Pancake Day 2019

Five protein pancakes to celebrate Pancake Day in style

With pancake day fast approaching, Max Bridger, co-founder of LDN Muscle shared with us his five best protein pancakes for those fitness fanatics looking to mark the occasion in style!

Protein pancakes with bacon

If you’re someone who finds pancake day a daunting proposition as the temptation to ‘pig out’ looms larger than ever, fear not and save your own bacon with this recipe. Packing quite the protein punch, this naughty combination of sweet and savoury will be sure to satisfy your taste buds!

Ingredients

200g powdered oats

75g chocolate whey

Large teaspoon of a sweet/dessert spice mix

350g almond milk

9 bacon medallions (or normal rashers but these will be higher fat)

100g blueberries

Squeeze of honey

Directions:

Blend the oats, whey, sweet spices and almond butter together until smooth, and pour into a bowl.

Heat a large, flat frying pan on a medium heat with some olive oil or low kcal spray.

After 4-5 minutes add two tablespoons slowly to create each pancake.

When the sides appear cooked (after 1-3 minutes usually), flip, and cook for a similar amount of time.

Meanwhile, add your bacon to a grill and cook to your preference – remembering to flip halfway through cooking.

When the pancakes are served, throw the blueberries in the pan and push around until hot and leaking, before dividing evenly across your 3 pancake and bacon towers (what a fantastic structure!).

Finish with a squeeze of honey, maple or golden syrup.

4-ingredient vegan protein pancakes

Tackled veganuary and caught the vegan bug? If so, look no further than this simple stack to give you everything you’re after and more. For those with that extra sweet tooth, why not go bananas and top yours off with nut butter and your favourite fruit.

Ingredients

120g instant oats

1 medium ripe banana

1.5 cups non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened soy milk)

25g vegan protein powder

Directions:

Preheat a non-stick pan on medium heat.

Place the oats in a blender or food processor. Blend, or process, until the oats resemble a fine flour.

Add the milk and the banana and blend till the mixture is smooth.

Add the protein powder and blend again. If the batter looks too thick, add a little more milk.

Pour 2 tbsp of the batter onto the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip them with a spatula when bubbles have formed on the surface and the edges are slightly dry.

Cook until browned on the other side.

Muscle mousse protein pancakes

Simplicity in a nutshell pancake – If you’re pushed for time, this is perhaps the easiest recipe out there, yet it never fails to disappoint! Great as a snack, evening treat or urge killer, the possibilities are endless – our favourite additions include chocolate almond butter or dark chocolate to give them that extra boost!

Ingredients

1 whole egg

4 egg whites

½ scoop of LDN Muscle Mousse

Dark Chocolate

Directions:

Pre-heat a pan with a splash of coconut oil (half a teaspoon will suffice).

Add ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.

Allow to rest for 30 seconds and then add to your pan.

Top tip – wait until the pancake has cooked on one side before attempting to flip!

Flower power – vanilla protein pancakes

Savour the flavour – these savoury pancakes will have you blown out the water with the power of the cauli-flower! Why not throw a boiled egg on top to give you that ‘eggstra’ punch – if you do, we guarantee you’ll be raring to go!

Ingredients

2 tbsps pureed BOILED cauliflower

2/3rds scoop vanilla whey

¼ cup oats

1 tbsp coconut flour

2 tbsp cottage cheese

½ tsp baking powder

Sweetener of choice

Pinch of salt

Directions

First simply mix everything together with a hand mixer

Then fry in a small amount of coconut oil about 2-3 minutes each side.

Carrot cake protein pancake surprise with cream cheese and greek yoghurt frosting

Easter may not be for another month, but as any bunny would we recommend getting your teeth stuck into these carrot cake pancakes. With just the right level of savoury to boot, live the dream and dust off with cream – cream cheese frosting that is of course. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

1 scoop (20g) vanilla whey

1 egg

1 egg white

2 tbsp greek yoghurt/quark

1.5 tbsp carrot puree (baby food type)

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

1-1.5 tbsp coconut flour

Sweetener of choice

1/6 cup shredded/grated carrot

Directions

Mix everything except the grated carrots with a hand mixer or in a blender.

Add the carrots and stir until you have a thick batter

Fry in a small amount of coconut oil for 2-3 mins each side.

Voila! Top with pecans or walnuts and enjoy!