I have been published in Oxygen Magazine Australia discussing the annual yo-yo that so many people fall victim to. Allowing yourself to fall off the wagon when the weather cools down, only to blow out then panic when summer starts to approach is not only damaging to your physical health (stressful on your body which can lead to metabolic damage) but is also an extremely negative angle to approach your care for your self from. To only eat and train properly when others can see your body is to negate a love for the true self, which can lead to many more negative spirals of thought. Consuming the nutrients that your body requires and ensuring that you are not at risk of any of the modern diseases associated with inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet should be important to you for reasons much deeper than what others will think. To choose to prioritise your health because you care about your physical and mental well-being instead sets off a positive domino effect of thought patterns, choices and further action.

Here you can see a sneak peek of the article.

To subscribe to the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or to follow their updates, check out their Facebook page HERE

 

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I have been published in Oxygen Magazine Australia providing a very honest and open account of what can go wrong with Body Building competitions. With the growing interest to compete in fitness modelling and body building I felt the need to share what I have experienced. I am by no means trying to deter anybody from competing, but rather I present challenges that are common, and some which presented themselves to me. I provide some advice on how to avoid some of these issues, and hope to help some who may be competing or considering competing for the first time.

Here you can see a sneak peek of the article.

To subscribe to the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or to follow their updates, check out their Facebook page HERE

 

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Losing unwanted body fat can prove exceedingly difficult, depending on our genetic propensity for storing fat, access to proper nutrition, and ability to train without injury or any other limiting factor. But, as is more often the case, many the difficulties we face when carving the excess are of our own making. Often we become so fixated on blasting our fat stores that we neglect the fundamental prerequisites that are of greater importance when burning adipose than are the endless bouts of cardio which often comprise our fat loss plans; namely, resistance training and optimal nutrition.

By trundling away on treadmills to nowhere for extended periods of time we deplete energy reserves that would be better devoted to building lean muscle tissue. By employing lengthy cardio sessions on a daily basis we also dig into our muscle protein reserves, provided sufficient energy from either carbohydrates or fats is not readily available (though all cardio activity utilises a combination of fats, carbs and proteins, muscle is degraded to provide energy when cardio is overdone, making it far from anabolic compared to weight training protocols, which stimulate muscle regeneration). Although cardio is an important muscle building and fat burning component, to truly become leaner than ever we must emphasise lean mass gains over the direct targeting of stored body fat.

Muscling up to lean out

Cutting the cals, reducing the resistance and upping the cardio will almost always stifle the fat burning process. The fewer clean calories we consume and the more cardio we do, the less energy we are left with to train hard and heavy and the lower the anabolic response post training (without enough protein sparing carbs and fats circulating in our systems, the protein synthesis process is likely to be shortchanged). In other words, whenever we overdo dieting and cardio we sacrifice lean muscle tissue and may create metabolic damage which is closely connected to adrenal fatigue and weight loss resistance. Muscle depletion is counterintuitive to weight loss. Rather than steadily decreasing calories to where we our body is placed in a caloric deficit, begin by cleaning up your diet, and slightly reducing your overall nutrient intake. Add more lean proteins (which must be maintained at 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight per day at all times) and starchy, complex carbs, including many of the fibrous kind. Eliminate simple sugars (with the possible exception of those taken directly post training) and include around 20% fat calories per day (essential fatty acids primarily, but also some saturated for optimal hormonal functioning). Muscle, as opposed to fat, is active and its development and maintenance requires sufficient daily calories. Given extra recovery time, a higher caloric intake, and a surplus of protein to repair and rebuild we become more muscular and greater muscularity means faster fat loss and a more pleasing shape.

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Photo:The Fit Housewife

Instead of performing cardio each day, as many trainees, in their quest for fat loss, do (many are also turning to twice-daily aerobic activity to strip excess fat) it is important to keep cardio consistent at 4-5 daily sessions per week, max (for no more than 45 minutes per session of steady state and no more than 25 minutes of HIIT). By replacing those additional cardio sessions with an extra bout or two with the iron, we are better able to address weaker muscle groups, and build more muscle overall. Given the extra recovery time we have and, with the higher caloric intake, a surplus of protein to repair and rebuild we become more muscular and greater muscularity means faster fat loss and a more pleasing shape.

Because muscle is the most metabolically active tissue we have, the more of it we can build, the faster and more effectively we may blitz stored body fat. Building muscle also feels good and is motivating. A major barrier to fat loss success is our unwillingness to stay the course; that lack of motivation to continue doing all that is necessary to fulfill our mission. Slaving away on the treadmill and eating the same boring foods day after day, aside from being ineffective ways to achieve long-term weight loss success, can also negatively impact our motivation to continue. Being creatures of pleasure, most of us will either take the path of least resistance to achieve our goals or do whatever is most pleasurable regardless of the consequences. Such strategies often place us back where we began. This two-steps-forward, two-steps-back approach may help to explain why optimal fat loss is considered by many to be an impossible task. By properly balancing weight training with cardio, to where cardio does not take precedence over the iron, and by eating a wide range of foods to stave off hunger and allow for full recovery (harder and more frequent weight training sessions allow us to consume more calories), we begin to enjoy the fat loss process. We also have more energy, which can be applied to further fat loss efforts.

Become a fat burning machine

Many people feel that to optimally burn fat they must prioritize cardio training. Change this thinking now! Take a look at the average long distance runner. Such competitors have cardio schedules which, by comparison, make the average fitness trainee look positively sedentary. They also have a scrawny, flabby look characterized by much protruding bone, making them, at least in appearance, undesirable representatives of the fitness lifestyle. Though the average fitness enthusiast does not overdo their cardio to the same extent, we can learn a valuable lesson from the examples set by such athletes: cardio alone does not create a positive physical transformation. Unfortunately for many, cardio is over performed to such a degree that excessive protein is depleted, workout intensity is diluted, and recovery time is minimised. This is clearly not conducive to achieving one’s dream physique. So back off the cardio, increase the weights, up the (clean) calories and watch as your transformation unfolds.

 

 

This post was written by David Robson in conjunction with Gym and Fitness Australia. David is a specialist health and fitness writer who has written professionally for such publications as Muscle & Fitness magazine, FLEX, bodybuilding.com, New Zealand Fitness, Inside Fitness, ALLMAX Nutrition, and Status Fitness magazine. As Founder and Managing Director of the New Zealand Wheelchair Body Building Federation (NZWBBF), Fit Futures Charitable Trust (both not for profit organisations set up to provide sporting and exercise options for people with physical disabilities), and Advanced Personal Training, David also doubles as a trainer, health and fitness educator and mentor to both established elite athletes and novice trainees alike. A competitive bodybuilder, David believes in leading by example.

If you are on social media then you will be aware of the fitspo (or should I say #fitspo) pictures that are inundating all social media. Everything from professional fitness photo shoots all the way to the unstoppable selfie fills my Instagram, Facebook and the list can go on. So what is the purpose of viewing these pictures?

If it’s a friend then you (hopefully) will feel proud and happy for their progress and will encourage them to keep up the great work. In all other situations where it may be a professional athlete, and in most cases a complete stranger though – then what? Inspiration may be the goal, but is not always the outcome.

Inspiration is something that should make you feel driven to proceed with your goals with energy and purpose. They are not supposed to make you feel disempowered and like you are incapable of achieving your goals. If the words “I wish I could…” or “I never could…” or any spiteful or jealous thoughts come to mind when you look at the fitspo pictures that normally pop up in your feed, then you need to change strategies of how you are consuming this social media.

I have recently had an article published in Oxygen Magazine Australia on this topic and encourage all who find this to be a relevant issue to find a copy. You can get a sneak peek of the first page here.

To subscribe for the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or follow their Facebook page HERE

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“I need to find myself” – a very commonly used phrase for when people go off soul-searching. I believe that this is a very important thing to do, but I don’t necessarily agree with the need to stop your entire life and disappear off into the sunset. By all means, if that’s what you feel like doing, then knock yourself out, but what if you are feeling a little bit hollow but are not in a position to drop everything and go? It is not always a realistic option to stop day-to-day life in its tracks without there being serious repercussions.

Very often this can lead to a situation of feeling trapped – you need something to change but you are locked into responsibilities left, right and centre. I have often found myself in this situation, and the truth is that you don’t even need to be unhappy with your life in order to experience this. I love what I do and this year has been the most exciting in my life, where I am finally able to more than ever do what I love, and I am so grateful for this. However it is also the year where I have needed to work harder than ever before with no days off, sometimes for weeks on end, without a single day off to myself.

No matter how passionate you are about what you do and how much praise you receive for all of your achievements, work is not everything. For the last 5 months work has been my everything, and while I knew that this was necessary to do everything that I wanted to do in the time-frame that I wanted, in the last few weeks  I was starting to feel an overwhelming sensation that I was losing touch with my true self.

This is why I have not posted for a few weeks. In a moment where you realise that you need to reconnect with yourself, the most important thing you can do is give yourself time, just like you would with any other relationship. Most people forget that we actually need to have a relationship with ourselves. We need to spend time listening to our needs, treat ourselves to things that we love and allow ourselves to be heard. Communication, trust, respect and many of the other central values that must be upheld in order to make a relationship successful with another person are equally important to uphold with yourself, yet this is where so many of us fail.

I had a whole bunch of achievements that I wanted to tick off, and they were being crossed off the list consistently, which brought me a lot of satisfaction, but there were days where I felt like an empty shell that could no longer switch off from work mode. I love writing and I love working with people and helping them achieve their goals. There was however no Me time happening, and that is where I was failing to take care of myself.

Now I could not take time off work – sometimes this is simply not an option, so if you find yourself in this situation I encourage you to simply give yourself a few weeks where you trim off everything that is optional in your life and only keep doing what is necessary. Do this for about 4-6 weeks and spend the time that opens up, even if it is only 5 minutes in a day, doing something that is all about you, and is not in any way oriented towards a specific goal – just something that you feel like doing.

For me that was music. I have always played, sung and loved listening to music for as long as I can remember; I have been making time recently to start playing the piano again and to just sit back and listen to music, and I feel like a totally new person. I unfortunately have lost my voice with the flu that is going around so am unable to sing, but absolutely intend to get back into that as well. The time that you give to yourself just to be you and to do what makes you happy, whether it be reading a book, getting pampered, going for a walk somewhere beautiful, meditating, or anything else that will replenish you, is essential at all times, but of particular importance to bring back when you are feeling drained and disconnected.

This trimming down of life to the bare minimum will create the space for growth, but of course must come with an expiry date. Without adopting this minimalist approach, you will just not find the time to be with yourself, but conversely, if you let this drag on without placing a limit on it then work and other commitments will begin to suffer. Be realistic about how long you can leave each commitment to its own devices and set specific timeframes so that you can be organised and don’t spend your newly found time worrying about the things you are not doing. Often when we are under pressure we can start to believe that everything is SO URGENT that is simply must have our attention at all points in time. Try staying off emails and away from the phone for a few hours and you will quickly learn that this is simply not the case.

We all need the time to reflect; we all need the time to decide what we want next ,but this will only happen when the chatter of the external world is allowed to stop for a moment and you are able to turn your attention inwards and simply spend some time being with yourself.

I am very happy to announce that I have been published on another online blog. This time it’s my first ever post on positive psychology. I share my views on achieving happiness – it’s all about mindset and learning to practice gratitude. The post can be read HERE

BboysIntroducing Michael and Christian Baker. I love these boys – they know so much about supplements and are always happy to share what they know and help others. They train hard, read hard and work hard. They recently had an interview with 180 Nutrition on potential risks associated with the extensive use of artificial sweeteners in supplements. You can listen to the podcast HERE

They took some time out of their insane schedules to answer some questions about supplementation with us.

 

How did you guys get into the health and fitness industry?

M: It all began in my last few years of high school when I started going to the gym. After much resistance and stubbornness Christian decided to give this gym thing a go.I think it was a combination of me pestering him and the ironman magazines he was reading. He was basically addicted from day one, and Christian’s training definitely played a huge part in his growth spurt. Pre-gym days Christian was about 6 inches shorter than me, and now he is about 4 inches taller. A few years out of high school we completed our certifications in personal training. We originally moved to Sydney to enter into a totally different career – ironically, in the fast food industry. Instead we ended up buying a supplement store together at the end of 2009, which launched our journey into the world of health, nutrition and supplements.

 

What made you want to specialise in supplementation?

C: Magazine ads: I thought that all supplements were magic thanks to the advertising I used to see in magazines and this made me embark on a quest for knowledge – I needed to find out the truth behind nutritional supplementation. For Mick it was the perfect combination of his two loves; health and business.

 

What would you say are the must-haves for the general public, if any at all?

C: A greens supplement (veggies, wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina mix etc.), a multivitamin, and fish oil. Take these three daily and take a probiotic supplement several times per year.

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What do you think everyone should be aware of that is not really common kno
wledge for supplementation?

M: Always read the label, as there are often hidden nasties that won’t be immediately obvious. Immediately ignore fancy claims, such as “double your bench press in 2 weeks” – they’re always lies. Also beware of propreitary blends, where you have no information about dosage. Some of the biggest companies have written on the back of label: propreitary blend, then show, for example, 5g with 20 ingredients below it. The problem here is that you don’t know how much of each ingredient is in the product.

C: Pay attention to the form of vitamins you take. For example, take vitamin D: Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) is the same vitamin D our body makes when exposed to the sun, but Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) is very commonly used in supplements because it’s cheap to produce, yet our body has a much harder time absorbing it properly. This rule applies to all vitamins and minerals across the board: learn the most natural forms and always seek them out.

 

What supplements do you both currently take and why?

M: We both use basically the same supplements on a daily basis. Greens super-food powder (to keep body alkalised), a multivitamin, fish oil, zinc, naturally sweetened protein and unflavoured BCAAs. Check out the PODCAST for more information on why we only choose naturally sweetened and unflavoured products.

 

What are some of the projects that you are currently working on?

M: We have been fortunate enough to speak in in front of some amazing corporate audiences, so definitely focusing on increasing our reach, and spreading our health and nutrition knowledge globally.

C: Working with Mick to do more speaking events and also hoping to release a nutritional product in the not so distant future.

 

What is your favourite workout and why?

M: When I’m in full speed training mode I enjoy doing the CrossFit Grace WOD (workout of the day). It involves completing 30 clean and jerks with 60kg for time. It burns but you feel great after it.

C: Training my triceps – it’s a special kind of pain and I love it so much. It helps that my arms are one of my genetically favoured muscle groups.

 

Keep an eye out for these two in the health and fitness industry, as they are sure to keep learning more and sharing all their great knowledge. Thanks Baker boys!

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The Movement Guide was created as a business to encourage happiness and health through body movement. This is one great influence on why I like to spend a bit of time on my hands hanging out upside down whenever I am able to. Founder Sean Smith started the Movement Guide in Sydney, Australia but has since taken it back to Dubai, UAE, and is about to launch the brand to a whole new level of adventure and knowledge.

 

How would you describe what you do?

I am a researcher, a teacher but also always remain a student. I study movement, research new methods of these movements, then teach my findings to others. My ‘system’ is a personal expression of my definition of movement; my method is built using physical development tools and techniques from gymnastics, circus, ballet, martial arts, and weight-lifting. I combine Eastern principles of longevity, flexibility and body care with Western methods of periodisation and programming. I help others to move better, and guide them to learn how to teach themselves.

 

This isn’t how you have always trained though – you have a very diverse range of experience in fitness. How did this evolve and change?

Growing up I went through many sports and physical outlets ranging from archery, horse riding and swimming all the way to free climbing, but my main focus as a teenager and early 20s was rugby. I began playing low level when I was 14 and made my first international cap when I was 16 for the under 19’s AGRFU. At the age of 19 I began playing for the Men’s AGRFU international team in the Asian world cup qualifiers. I then found myself in Australia playing 1st grade Shute Shield and heading toward bigger things when the injuries started to interfere on a large scale. When I eventually retired from playing rugby, I considered entering into the Australian army and was introduced to Crossfit as a result. Crossfit in many ways was and is a wonderful tool, but if used poorly it can be disastrous for the practitioner. I found the sacrifice of form, control and safety for the sake of completing a WOD (workout of the day) with alarming frequency and came to the conclusion that a firmer foundation and patience was needed. I began to study movement in assessment and corrective work, tutoring under specialists and trainers focused on the body’ natural movement patterns. I then researched heavily into gymnastics strength work, but also started training with some circus performers in Sydney. Together that journey lay the foundation for where I am now, studying and working full time as a movement trainer and performer.
Why do you think it’s so important for people to train in movement art?

Movement is our way of life, and our form of expression whether we know it or not. It is a complex process that boils down to a simple combination of tension and relaxation, flexion and extension. I have found that the more athletes I meet, the more my understanding of imbalance and weakness increases; I am meeting people who have spent their lives moving in one set of predictable patterns – they tend to favour certain actions, muscular capabilities and body awareness abilities. There is no one sport or training method that provides all of the stimuli for a truly rounded ability. However, by addressing our first function of movement to a higher degree, we can balance our body’s patterns and capabilities more, and become smoother, stronger and freer.

 

Can you please tell readers about the projects that you are currently working on?

I will be leaving for China on the 27th of June with my partner to study Tai Chi and Wudang Kung Fu full time for two months to study under one of the most respected masters. We will be studying martial arts, internal healing and longevity arts, meditation, scripture and language and of course Chinese traditional medicine. We will be documenting the entire trip, creating records and tutorials, and I look forward to incorporating what we learn into our current system

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We are also currently working with a charity called Harmony House, located just outside Delhi, in India. They help to educate, feed and provide a more comfortable life for underprivileged children in India, and also offers an educational program for creating yoga masters. We are currently running a series of fund-raising workshops to help raise money for Harmony House. We will be travelling to India at the end of the year to teach and share some of the theory and practice that we learn in China. If you would like to find out more, or help Harmony House, check out their website: www.harmonyhouseindia.org

I have officially now launched my online coaching for everyone who is interested and driven to improve their physical abilities and mental toughness. Coaching is uniquely tailored for your personal goals and provides regular feedback and a fully comprehensive and detailed program, which is emailed at the start of each training block. Places are limited though so please drop me an email on seansmithsydney@gmail.com to find out more, with the subject line ‘Online Coaching’. For all members that sign up, 10% of our earnings go to Harmony House.

 

What is your favourite exercise and why?

Rope climb – It is such a versatile tool, and provides an incredibly demanding stimulus to the body. In one movement we are using the shoulders to pull and balance, the rotator cuff muscles to stabilise the shoulders, there is a back and abdominal contraction almost constantly, there is hip and leg tension to maintain lift and height… you get the idea! The other awesome thing about rope climbs is the variety and intensity that can be achieved. Changes in leg height, the distance between hands during the climb, the speed and hand grip all can dramatically change the effects obtained. Get up there!

 

You train hard and a lot – what is your diet like?

I eat a relaxed form of Paleo, so I do eat some foods that strict Paleo does not allow such as rice. I avoid processed foods, refined sugar and dairy, and I limit my fruit intake, as it contains quite high amounts of sugar. I also carb cycle, so some days I will limit my carb intake, and then increase carbs again the following day. This keeps me lean, fuelled and healthy, and I always make sure to stay well hydrated. I keep my supplementation quite minimal, and avoid pre workouts (I much prefer an espresso). I take a multivitamin and mineral complex, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), Zinc, vitamin C and magnesium. This keeps me working hard, progressing weekly and enjoying life. Oh and if I want a slice of cake, I will eat that too. It’s all about having a balance.

 

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If you would like to follow the progress and development of the Movement Guide staff and clients, track the experience through China and access all the free tutorials and articles then please follow on:

FB: www.facebook.com/themovementguide

YT: www.youtube.com/themovementguide

W: www.the-movement-guide.com (site under redevelopment, stay tuned for a relaunch in September 2014)

 

Stop the SabotageI really think that if anybody else said some of the horrible things that I’ve said to myself at times I would probably punch them in the teeth. I know that I am not alone here either – so often do we question our own worth, and sometimes even outright tell ourselves that we are not good enough. The horrible thing is that we then listen to this and act accordingly. This may result in not really trying our best because we don’t really believe we can achieve something, and sometimes not even trying in the first place.

Self-doubt is the destroyer of dreams.

This little voice loves to be particularly mean whenever we want to look and feel our best. We are all constantly bombarded with super fit and super thin and hyper sexualised images of men and women in the media that simply are not achievable (especially given that even the models don’t even look like that – thanks Photoshop). This leads to desiring bodies that aren’t even human shaped sometimes, and definitely are not healthy. Match that up with all of this information about how you too can get ripped abs in just 30 minutes, and really what you’re left with is a feeling of serious disempowerment.

We are shown an extreme and told how easy it should be and then reality does not match. We are also then told a whole heap of conflicting information and sold every restrictive diet under the sun. This makes weight loss a particularly popular target for that mean little voice. It might tell you that you’re never going to make it, and it might tell you to just give up. It also has the capacity to really help mess with our relationships with food.

I am very happy to announce that yesterday I was published in a glossy fitness magazine for the first time! My article is about self sabotaging behaviours that can mess with our healthy eating goals and lists a few strategies to help overcome the common issues that arise. In there I challenge a few common things that will help make that voice shut right up.

Grab a copy of the latest edition of Oxygen Magazine to read more!

To subscribe to the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or to follow their updates, check out their Facebook page HERE

Once upon a time I ripped a hole in myself and underwent a horrible experience getting stitched back up. As part of the process I discovered that my body does not take well to general anaesthetic nor to morphine (fun!), and in the process I experienced months of unhappiness, issues managing my body fat, mood, and had not invested in such a wonderful support network as I have nowadays (you live and you learn). The end result was that I had some rubbish months recovering from that situation. Nowadays it’s just a scar, and every now and then the carbon fibre gauze in my left hand lower abdomen has the layers of tissue healed through it rip apart. For a few days thereafter, depending upon how big this is, any twisting motion results in the sensation of being stabbed.

While you may think that such an injury might not in any way relate to you, I would like to point out that my first hernia happened outside of a gym. I had in fact never set foot in a gym yet. I just had a weak core and pushed a table in the wrong way and BAM. That was is. Our cores keep us upright, stable and our insides on our insides properly. A weak core can lead to all manner of health issues from back pain through poor posture, through to similar injuries such as mine that can lead to the operating table.

My second hernia was a gym related incident, and I will admit that it was in a time when I had less awareness of safety and on the vulnerability of the body at all times when care is not taken to push to your limits and to question those limits, but to also always listen to that firm voice in your head that says “This is a stupid idea – you are not ready for this. You will hurt yourself”. I was much less experienced and was preparing for a power lifting competition (which I never got to do) and I was pushing too hard too fast. I had become physically capable of holding and moving around weights that my core was not strong enough to support. So I went for some ridiculous lifts on a day when I wasn’t feeling completely on top of my game and BAM – AGAIN!

Needless to say, my second hernia left me pretty unwilling to revisit the operating table. Luckily, I had an option. While I was told that I probably would need surgery, it was a direct inguinal hernia that came from a spot of weakness in the core. It was a long shot, but with adequate rest, rehab and gradual and sensible introduction of exercise and core strengthening I might not need surgery. Here is where I discovered body-weight training and my beloved rings. Here is also where I discovered GMB Fitness, who make some really nifty plans for people who are keen to learn about gymnastic training but making it accessible to people who may not have a gymnastics background.

So I learned a lot from them, and you can read a bit more about the experience of my recovery from my injury HERE. Nowadays I am once again able to lift heavy and never needed surgery, but I train my core religiously and more than anything else, have learned to listen to that little voice that talks sense to me when I’m tempted to do something silly.

Enjoy and I hope that you find this helpful.