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Yep, it’s that time of year, when the invites start flowing and we get ready to toast the end of another12 months. But with temptations ever...


December 2021

Yep, it’s that time of year, when the invites start flowing and we get ready to toast the end of another12 months. But with temptations everywhere, you can feel overwhelmed if you’re trying to stay healthy.


Work Christmas parties, reunions, family gatherings and end-of-year celebrations are all back on the agenda – such joyful occasions, and they’re often coupled with fabulous food and more alcohol than usual. But what if I told you that you can avoid unnecessary blowouts with just a few easy hacks? Here, it is revealed how to stay on track throughout party season...


Invites are flying hard and fast, but don’t get caught in the whirlwind and accept every end-of-year party invite that comes along. There’s nothing like a boring party to have you reaching for more fatty finger foods and calorie-laden drinks. Only RSVP to events that are important or that you are likely to enjoy, and let the others go. This goes for when you’re at an event, too – if you’re getting pressured by friends, family or work colleagues to “have another drink” or “have just one more mince tart”, just say thanks, but no thanks!


Plan when you’re going to exercise. Plan your meals. Plan your snacks. Identify your red-flag situations and develop a plan of action. Decide what you’re going to eat as early as possible so that you aren’t put on the spot and fall back on a less healthy option. Make smart calorie swaps on that vegie bake you’ve been asked to bring and avoid hidden temptations by tracking your intake. For sit-down functions with several courses, have a look at the menu before you arrive, if possible, or at least before you sit down. Remember, you don’t have to eat absolutely everything on your plate. Have enough to taste the dish, but be aware during this time of the year that there is often more food coming.


Get your workout done as soon as you] get up. That way, you can get it over and done with, and focus on other fun things you might have planned. It may be one of the most hectic periods of the year, but whatever you do, don’t let exercise fall by the wayside. Schedule a training session on the morning of the function and don’t skip exercise the next day, even if it’s just a walk or a quick toning session.

Over the holiday period when your calorie intake increases, you will really notice how exercise can help keep your weight under control. So devise some “going-out game plans” and stick to them, and you never know – in a few weeks you could leave party land in even better shape than you entered it.


There’s no need to go nuts with your meals over this period. It’s not called the silly season for nothing – but it doesn’t have to be. Think about using some super-healthy recipes to share with friends and family instead. Fill your plate once and listen to your body. Once you’re full, you’re full. You don’t need to sneak in those “special” foods – in reality, most of those foods are available all year round. Fight the FOMO!


Christmas is a day, NOT a week, so don’t undo all your hard work. Eat mindfully and stay as active as possible. You can still have loads of fun while sticking to your positive food and exercise choices, and you’ll feel so much better for these decisions. A healthy attitude is key.

The bottom line is, there’s no reason for you to avoid the party season and go into hibernation. It’s a wonderful time to be social and to connect with friends and loved ones. With forward planning and a clear strategy before you attend the festivities, you will get through all celebrations feeling your absolute best.

Too tired? No time? Just CBA? There are times when the hardest exercise is just lifting your glutes off the sofa. That's why we've c...


December 2021

Too tired? No time? Just CBA? There are times when the hardest exercise is just lifting your glutes off the sofa. That's why we've constructed fail-safe contingency plans for six of the most common cop-outs. Here endeth the excuses...

1. You’re Bored of Your Training Plan

Training plans may not be as exciting as flitting between the latest trending fitness classes. But they still have their place. If you have a bona fide training plan – not just a bunch of exercises you do out of habit – you’re probably working towards a goal, whether that’s adding muscle, losing fat, or improving on your 10k time. Mix things up too much and you violate two important principles of effective exercising; specificity (to improve your 10k, you should, erm, run) and progressive overload (forcing your body to adapt by applying a greater stimulus than it’s used to).

The trick is to tweak your training plan just enough. “Each week, you should be making small increases – lifting slightly heavier, adding a few more reps, running a little faster,” says Jonathan Dick, an Equinox Tier X fitness coach. “After four to eight weeks, make changes to your plan, so you move towards more advanced versions of your favourite exercises. This way, you can make consistent progress,” he explains. Consistency might not fire you up – but progress certainly will.

The quick fix

◆ Make your plan progressive, rather than doing the same squats and biceps sesh every time.

◆ Tweak that plan every four to eight weeks, changing the movements to ensure they remain challenging.

◆ Track your progress via consistent workouts.

2. You Had a Terrible Night’s Sleep 

Noted sports scientist William Shakespeare defined sleep as “sore labour’s bath”. He was right. It’s when your body repairs damage caused by the previous day’s activities. “If you didn’t get adequate sleep, you’re already starting a little bit in the hole,” says physiologist Jim Pate. In a study published in The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, cyclists tasked with riding while sleep deprived had less energy and aerobic power, plus they exhausted more quickly.

Still, onwards and upwards: training is the best way to give your tired brain a lift. One study by researchers at the University of Georgia found exhausted volunteers who took part in moderate-effort exercise experienced a 65 per cent decline in fatigue; separate research from the same uni revealed that a 10-minute stair climb can boost alertness more effectively than 50mg of caffeine. Pate advises avoiding anything too intense and building your sessions around mobility, stability and fun stuff, such as skill development. Bear in (addled) mind, though, that your coordination will be impaired – this is not the time for complicated gymnastics. Practising pull-ups? Perfect. No kipping...

The quick fix

◆ Understand that you’re going to find things harder. Prioritise form over weight or speed.

◆ Replace high-skill movements with simpler versions focused on stability.

◆ Don’t be a hero.

3. You’re Still Sore From Your Last Workout

Perhaps you’re new to fitness or you haven’t trained for a while. Or maybe you overdid what you usually do or tried something new. No one’s judging.

“You should be satisfied that you’ve achieved significant enough overload,” says Pate. The inflammatory response to the tiny tears you’ve caused in your muscles is what drives your body to adapt, so it doesn’t get overloaded next time. “Soreness is a good sign,” confirms Pate. So you’ve earned a couch day? Not quite.

“You need to rest, but you don’t want to be static,” says Pate. “You’re trying to encourage your muscles to work better for you, so you need to maintain them.” In other words, rest is relative. While the thought of it might make you wince, a slightly softened effort will keep your body ticking over and allow it to let go of that soreness. Hop on a treadmill or rower if you have access to them, or take to the streets in your runners, and warm up with five to 10 minutes of cardio at 50 to 60 per cent of your maximum intensity, with a few bursts of higher-level stuff.

Once your muscles are more pliable, dynamically stretch and mobilise (think: lunge rotations), paying extra attention to tight, sore areas. If it’s only one area of the body screaming at you, train the other areas as normal. Cool down with static stretches, holding for at least 30 seconds. See you tomorrow, bright and early.

The quick fix

◆ Warm up sore muscles with five to 10 minutes of moderate cardio, followed by mobility work.

◆ If only certain parts of your body ache, train the rest as normal. If it all hurts, try a light bodyweight circuit.

◆ Remember that soreness isn’t a bad sign.

4. You Just Really, Really Don't Want To

It happens to the best of us: occasionally, your motivation will fail you. But if you feel that your drive is constantly stalling, take a moment to reflect on the underlying causes. "It's often the result of trying to force an end game that goes against your true aspirationo," says Tom Foxley, a CrossFit coach. "Maybe you've never really wanted to get to where you say you want to, or perhaps your desires have changed." In other words , if you genuinelly want to reach a goal, you should feel pulled towards it, rather than always having to push your way there.

If you're certain about what you want to achieve, then think about how that will feel, "Emotional drivers are much more compelling than logical ones," explains Foxley. "Image how stoked you'll be when you achive that bodyd-weight snatch, or cross the finish line of a triathlon." Desired outcomes are the fire that forges the iron of self=control, so bring distant consequences closer in your mind. Or you could cut yourself a deal. "If the full session is an hour long, tell yourself you'll do, say, the first two sets," says Foxley. The chances are that, once you've completed them, you'll be inclined to do more. Either way, you're taking the weight of expectation off your shoulders.

"Frequently, you don't want to work out because you feel the pressure to have a great session," says Foxley. But athletic success isn't built solely on great sessions. Its foundation is unwavering commitment, whatever you motivation level. In a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, subject visited the gym twice as often when they scheduled their sessions ahead of time, compared with when they were given 'inspirational' reading material/ "Turning up and doing 20 percent is better than doing nothing at all," says Foxley. So pull on your kit and get going. Trust us you'll never be disappointed that you did.

The quick fix

◆ To borrow a top phrase, just do it

5. You’ve Only Got 15 Minutes Anyway

Pah! You can get a whole lot done in that time – work your entire body, raise your heart rate, build muscle, burn fat – and, crucially, do so with minimal equipment. Weighted HIIT, such as this kettlebell workout from Sylvester Savyell, another Tier X coach, provides more bang for your buck than standard cardio. “You’ll continue to burn more kilojoules as your muscles recover,” he says. Spend five precious minutes warming up, then perform as many rounds as possible.

AMRAP (15 mins)

◆ Kettlebell goblet squat


Holding akettlebell to your chest with your feet shoulderwidth apart, squat down, chest up, knees wide (imagine sitting back in a chair). Then drive back up, squeezing your glutes.

◆ Pull-over with static hip thrust


Set up in a double-leg glute bridge, with the kettlebell on the floor behind your head so you can reach it. Pull it over until it’s above your chest, then lower. Don’t let your bridge collapse.

◆ Burpee into overhead press


Goblet squat down and place your knuckles on the (ideally, padded) floor. Shoot your feet out and back, then in again. As you stand, lift the kettlebell and press it overhead. That’s one rep.

◆ Kettlebell lunge with chop


Hold the kettlebell at one shoulder, fingers interlaced. Lunge with the opposite leg and simultaneously chop the bell across your body (keep a firm grip on it). Reverse.

◆ Side plank with press


Lie on your side, propped on your elbow, with your feet stacked and top arm (holding the kettlebell) straight above your head. Contract your core to lift your hips so your body is straight, then lower.

6. You Can’t Find Your Bloody Headphones

Whether your partner has nabbed them for their own outdoor run or aggy neighbours mean you can’t blast your home workout playlist without them, use the quiet time as a chance to tune into what you’re doing. “Choose exercises that challenge your coordination,” says Ian Robertson, a personal training manager. “You’ll be far more engaged.” Granted, music is a proven performance enhancer, but aimlessly trawling Spotify is not, and all those seconds spent waiting for the bass drop before you start your next set will add up.

In a study published in Computers In Human Behavior, treadmill runners who looked at their phones during training spent 10 of the 20 minutes they worked out at low intensity and only seven at high. Those who left their handsets in their lockers only phoned it in for three minutes, and dialled up their speed for 13 minutes. Besides, you don’t need your trusty playlist to get amped. “Rhythmic breathing can actually help you push an extra rep and very often you lose this benefit when you don’t hear it,” says Robertson. w

The quick fix

◆ Practise more complex, show-off moves while you can focus on what you’re doing.

◆ Listen to your breathing during your workout, rather than today’s mix.

◆ Once you break the exerciseearbud association, missing ones won’t be an issue.

You don't need to walk for miles or spend hours at the gym to get a good workout. It can be as easy as making a few changes in your dail...


December 2021

You don't need to walk for miles or spend hours at the gym to get a good workout. It can be as easy as making a few changes in your daily lifestyle, or it may involve starting a more organised fitness program. It's up you. The key is to find an exercise program that suits your goals, interests, and fitness level, and your weight loss efforts will begin to pay off. Put exercise at the top of your "for me"  list. The result will be a healthier, happier, and sharper you. Check out these exercise options and choose the one that works best for you.


Increasing your daily activity through little lifestyle changes can be a powerful and effective way to get fit. Burning just 100 extra calories per day, the equivalent of taking a few extra steps each day, adds up to 10 pounds of weight loss in one year. The key is to try to do something every day. Use these eight simple techniques to introduce extra calorie-burning opportunities into your day:

1. Park farther away and walk.

2. Return shopping carts to their proper places.

3. Avoid elevators and take the stairs.

4. Take a walking break instead of a coffe break.

5. Get up from your chair frequently to move around.

6. Listen to upbeat music while you clean your house, and you'll move faster.

7. Pace while you talk on the phone.

8. Walk around the office as you brainstorm you next project.

Get fit

The hardest part of exercise is getting started. Begin by thinking about the principles of FITT: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.

Frequency: How often you exercise significantly affects your fitness, health, and weight loss. Low-intensity exercise performed most days of the week leads to improved health and moderate weight loss. More intense exercise performed three to five times per week results in more significant weight loss.

Intensity: How hard you work out also determines your fitness level and affects the amount of weight you lose. To determine your intensity level, use any of these methods:

Talk test: Push your exercise har enough that you're slightly winted but can still talk easily.

Scale of 1 to 10: Assign numbers to your intensity level. Give a 1 to an activity you could sustain for hours; a 10 would apply to an exercise that results in major suffering. Most workouts should fall between 5 and 8.

Heart rate: Weight loss occurs when your exercise intensity fallls between moderate (55 per cent of your maximum heart rate [220 minus your age]) and high (85 per cent of your maximum heart rate).  Measure your heart rate by feeling your pulse in your neck (below your ear) or on the thumb side of your wrist. Count the beats for 10 seconds, then multiply by 6. This determines your heart rate in beats per minute.

Time: To improve cardiovascular fitness and to achieve moderate weight loss, you need to perform at least 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic (non-stop) exercise into a sinble session. If you don't need to fit the whole day's exercise into a single session. If you don't exercise regularly, a few 10-minute bursts of exercise spread throughout your day will effectively improve your health and fitness. Three 10-minute workouts - climbing the stairs at work or walking around the mall - add up to a daily workout. However, if you set more ambitious fitness goals, you need to get in longer workouts. Rather than squeeze several mini-workouts into your day, you need to devote a longer block of time to exercise.

Type: Choose an exercise based on what you want to gain from your efforts. For example, if you seek to improve your heart health, try low-intensity walking. If wieght loss is your goal, select an exercise that uses your large muscle groups, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or bike riding. Choose exercise equipment based on your personal preferences. The equipment you select will not affect the calories your burn as much as the time and intensity you devote to your workout.

Walk it off

Walking is one of the easiest and most effective methods to lose weight and maintain health. A pair of walking shoes is all you need. If you feel you're not in good enough shape to walk, try this simple routine: Check your watch. Walk away from your home for 10 minutes, turn around, and head back. You will have walked 20 minutes without much planning or effort and will have burned about 80 calories. Walking 15-20 minutes per day, for a total of 5-10 miles a week, burn 400-800 calories per week.

To walk properly, maintain a full stride and swing your arms. Also wear comfortable clothing and drink plenty of water. Or strive to take 10,000 steps per day. To get a realistic idea of how many steps you take each day, use a pedometer to count them for you. Simple clip the pedometer to yuor hip each morning, set it to zero, and start your day. Use the pedometer for at least one week to get a true picture of your daily activity. If you average fewer than 10,000 steps per day, step it up a bit.

Work out at home

Exercising in the privacy of your home is convenient and inexpensive, though it requires more self-discipline and structure than going to a gym. The key is having a variety of options you can fall bakc on. Keep a few workout videos and a set of dumbbells in your basement. A treadmill can provide  a good option during inclement weather or odd hours.

For a useful home gym, you need to plan a bit. For a little amount, you can create an effective workout pan that will tone your entire body. Here a re a few recommendation for inexpensive equipment that is easy to use and store.

Stability ball: A stability ball provides options for toning, strenghtening, and stretching. The ball is typically used for abdominal exercises such as crunches; it can also be used as a bench in strength exercises. Most stability balls come in two sizes - 55 and 65 centimeters. When sitting on the ball, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. In general, adults 5 feet 5 inches tall or less should use the smaller size, while those taller than 5 feet 6 inches should use the larger size.

Free weights: A set of dumbbells, in weights from 5 to 20-plus pounds, offers light muscle toning to intermediate strength training. Less expensive than machines, they provide flexibility and variety.

Resistance bands: Resistance bands or tubes provide another option for strength training. They're easy to store, come in a varitey of sizes and resistance levels, and can be used in numerous ways.

Step bench: A sten bench - a 6- or 8-inch-high platform - can be used for both cardiovascular workouts and strength training.

Videos: Exercise videos also offer variety. Use ones that focus on two or three different types of exercise.

Join the gym

You might find a class setting to be more motivating and challenging than working out alone. Group fitness classes offered through a recreation centre add varitey your routine, allow you to-discover new exercise options, and provide and instructor who will oversee your techniques. Good instructors have plenty of energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the activities they are teaching. For those new to group fitness, I suggests the following:

1. Check out a fitness centre's class schedule and ask friends and fitness managers for recomendations.

2. Look-for instructors who are cerified in group fitness.

3. Find a class that will push you a little but won't push you over the edge. If the class works at a high intensity or if the movements are too difficult, your risk of injury increases and the experience won't be much fun.

4. Join a class that is convenient and works with your schedule.

5. Get to the first class early and introduce yourself to the instructor so he or she can offer individual help, if needed.

Take it to the next level

Once you establish a fitness routine and follow it for a few months, you may find it becomes, well, too routine. Keep exercise from becoming boring by finding another activity you like and train for it. You don't need to run a marathon, but 5-kilometer races, walks, bike rides, and golf tournaments take place year-round. If you take tennis lessons, sign up on singles ladder with your local tennis association. If you enjoy soccer or softball, ask if your employer, church, or community center sponsors a team. Martial arts, such as tae knon do, are fitness-friendly and offer competitive options.

Reach your goal

Wheather you add small amounts of activity into your day or begin a formal exercise routine, your body will beome stronger and leaner. Deciding when, where, and how to exercise comes down to your preferences. Wheater you whish to slim down, tone up, control blood sugar, or boost your health, exercise is right when it works for you.

Used in isolation, scales won’t tell you much about your fitness at all. If you understand that there are five quantifiable elements that re...


December 2021

Used in isolation, scales won’t tell you much about your fitness at all. If you understand that there are five quantifiable elements that reflect how fit you are – strength, aerobic capacity, mobility, emotional wellbeing and body composition – scales refer solely to the latter. Standard scales measure your weight, while full-body smart scanners read the amount of muscle, fat, bone and water you carry, but none of these metrics are much use without addressing the other four pillars.

It’s better to view your fitness holistically. Sure, you can prioritise one or two elements while dialling others down for a period of time to achieve a goal, but you shouldn’t ignore them. To that end, don’t disregard scales, but use them in tandem with other measurements. Say you want to build strength. A one-rep max test (see below) will give you an idea of your ability, and scales show how much muscle you’re building. Likewise, if you want to lose weight but focus only on the scales, you’re shooting yourself in the foot – monitoring your aerobic capacity means you’ll be able to work out for longer and achieve your goal sooner. Trying to keep each factor of fitness in mind, here are the best ways to track them...



Use a simple one-rep max test in which you assess the heaviest weight you can lift without falling out of form. The more you can carry, the stronger you are.


The time it takes you to run or cycle a distance is an indicator of aerobic fitness – the quicker the speed, the fitter you are. VO2 max testing is more precise: it shows how much oxygen you take in. Wearables take an estimate, but timed cardio is the DIY version.


A physiotherapist analysing joint angles is the best way to track mobility, but anything as simple as being able to tie your shoes without feeling as uncomfortable as you used to means mobility gains.


Complex tools such as hydrostatic weighing (an analysis of body composition while submerged underwater) give you exact numbers. A tape measure and scales give you an estimate of fat loss.


Keep a note of sleep quality, mood and energy levels, identifying common denominators. Are you feeling low due to PMS? Is your wellbeing better on workout days? Seek help if you feel low most of the time.

Have you heard the expression mind over muscle, the first definition of Mental Fitness was built through an analogy of physical fitness wher...


December 2021

Have you heard the expression mind over muscle, the first definition of Mental Fitness was built through an analogy of physical fitness where it is something you build through training, and is seen as “your ability to cope with and meet the psychological demands of life, without undue fatigue or damage to your mind or body.” If mental health is your “state” of wellbeing, then mental fitness is the environment and the set of behaviors within which you cultivate it. Just like training for physical gains can help prevent the body from being injured, getting those brain gains in can help prevent emotional damage — both to you and to the people around you.


When you are mentally fit, you feel fully functional and confident of your ability to affect your own emotional state. It isn’t that you feel happy all the time or that you never have a bad day. It just means that when you do have a setback, you are able to recognise that it’s only temporary and you don’t panic. You’ll be better able to retain information, manage distractions, listen effectively and build more meaningful personal connections. You’ll be more likely to respond not react. You’ll have improved cognitive function and communication, increased optimism and confidence, improved sleep and an enhanced ability to develop positive habits in all areas of life. That’s a pretty handy skill set to have if you ask me.


Just as there are four different components to physical fitness — cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition — there are four components to mental fitness.

- EMOTIONAL: Self-acceptance, self-esteem, resilience and the ability to manage strong emotions.

- SOCIAL: Connection, communication and belonging.

- FINANCIAL: Feeling in control of your finances and able to handle monetary setbacks.

- PHYSICAL: Strong Body, Strong Mind and vice versa.



Activating your parasympathetic nervous system by breathing through your nose can help you regain a sense of calm. Since your lungs fully expand when you breathe through your nose, you are also able to extract more oxygen from the air. Try inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds.


Try to complete your next training session in silence. No music. No podcasts. No distractions. All you’ll have to listen to is your body and any stories that you start telling yourself when shit gets hard. Reframe any negative thoughts that arise – you’re not struggling, you’re being challenged. 


Aside from the many physiological benefits, exposure to cold has been shown to increase the blood level and brain release of norepinephrine — an adrenal hormone that can help people feel more ‘up’ naturally. If you don’t have any previous experience, start slow. When you’re done with your normal shower, finish with ten seconds of cold. If you don’t feel comfortable exposing your chest to the ice-cold, aim the shower head only at your feet. When you get used to the feeling, make it thirty seconds and go for your chest. Once you are more comfortable, embrace it with your full body and aim to stay under the water for two minutes. Try it first thing in the morning and you’ll have already overcome a challenging task before your day has even started, which will help set you up for success.


Usually in this column, I’m talking you through training variables; exercise selection, reps, sets, load and rest. But even though we’re not lifting weights, it doesn’t mean we can’t use the same parameters to make shit simple. We’re just going to flip the switch from Beast Mode to Least Mode

EXERCISE 1: Chill Time


SETS/REPS: 10-60 mins

TECHNIQUE: Find a space free from distractions, get comfortable and just be ok with being alone. You could listen to a simple guided 5-10 minute meditation (I have both the Headspace and Calm apps on my phone), do some gentle stretching/ yoga, listen to a podcast, write down some thoughts in a journal or just think of 3-5 things that you’re grateful for. This time is yours so do whatever it is that relaxes you and brings you back to the present.

EXERCISE 2: Time With Friends And Family

FREQUENCY: Weekly or fortnightly

REPS/SETS: Anywhere from an hour to a couple of days

TECHNIQUE: Make a list of the people that you genuinely like hanging out with, and who make you feel good. List them in order of importance — the better you feel afterwards, the higher on the list they should be and the more time you should spend with them. Try and set regular plans with your Top 3 so you have something to look forward to.

EXERCISE 3: Hobbies

FREQUENCY: Daily if possible, weekly at minimum

REPS/SETS: 30 mins minimum

TECHNIQUE: Self Care at it’s simplest is finding the things you love to do and doing them as often as possible. Whether it’s “gym-ing”, golfing, driving, music or reading – find the space and time to indulge yourself. It’s the little things in life that can often bring the most satisfaction.

EXERCISE 4: Task-Based Mindfulness

FREQUENCY: A couple of times per week is ideal

REPS/SETS: Five minutes minimum

TECHNIQUE: Simply focus ALL your attention on a menial task that you’re doing. It could be anything — washing the dishes, mowing the lawns or exercising. For example, if you’re washing the dishes you could focus on the temperature of the water, the smell of the detergent, the action of washing. It’s just about learning to pay attention to all of your senses in that moment. The beauty of this is that you can do it anytime and anywhere – there’s no set venue or time or equipment.

EXERCISE 5: The Great Outdoors

FREQUENCY: Once a week to once a month, whenever you get the chance

REPS/SETS: 15-30 Minutes Minimum

TECHNIQUE: Walk the dog, go bike riding, hiking, organise a picnic, book a camping trip or just get outside and walk barefoot in the sand or grass. The key is to get out of your home or office. Try and tune in and focus on your surroundings and take some big deep breaths in the fresh air.