Intermittent Fasting Results: My 12 month healthy lifestyle challenge to improve my health and lose weight fast!- Part 2
Now that we’ve discussed food and how I am going to accomplish those goals, let’s move onto the mind and body.
I have detailed what I am going to do over the next 12 months to try and improve my overall health and self, so I feel more confident in my own skin.
Note: As I mentioned before, I am not a doctor, nor do I have a degree in nutrition or the like. I am basing my program for myself on extensive reading I have done over the years, and experience I have had practising these in some form. Please consult your doctor and do your own due diligence before using any of the information presented here.
Before I can start to define muscles and work out, I have a few things I need to fix first. I am plagued with constant back problems, and I need to correct my posture. I’ve been told by a physio, these are related.
So to improve the overall health of my body I am going to concentrate on the following:
- Posture alignment/stretching
- Body weight fitness/resistance training
Posture alignment and stretching
Posture alignment is a really interesting subject. I enjoy learning about how the body should work, and the process of looking at yourself in the mirror and working out what to do to try and align yourself again is a very worthwhile exercise.
Basically, if you stand in front of a mirror, all your major joints should line up, both vertically and horizontally. When looking from front on, horizontally, both shoulders, hips and knees, should be in line with each other. Vertically, your shoulders should be over your hips, and your hips should be over your knees.
Looking from the side the same applies. Your head should be vertically in line with your torso, your torso with your hips, your hips with your knees, and down to your ankles.
The problem a lot of us have is that some of these don’t align, so other muscles have over compensated. You might have one shoulder higher than the other, one hip higher than the other, your pelvis might not be in alignment or is tilted in or out, or your knees don’t line up.
I have several such issues and will be completing posture alignment/stretching exercises a few times per week. I have some stretches from my physio and some more that I have found in books, and my plan is to address these issues as a first priority, before building muscle. I don’t want to make my muscles that are already over compensating stronger, exacerbating the problem.
Note: These posture alignment and back issues are my own, and so I am choosing this as part of my regime. Please seek professional advice, if you need to improve or fix any ailments you might have.
HIIT and cardio
I am sure most people have heard about HIIT, which stands for ‘high-intensity interval training.’ Among other things, HIIT training compared to regular steady state training that keeps your heart rate at a consistent rate, lowers insulin resistance and decreases fasting blood glucose. Regular HIIT training sessions have been shown to increase aerobic and anaerobic fitness, increase cardiovascular health, and cause significant skeletal muscle adaptation. Tests have also shown that regular HIIT sessions can result in significant subcutaneous and abdominal fat loss.
Some people associate HIIT as a short cut to exercise, to reduce the amount of time spent exercising, as often the sessions are shorter at a higher intensity level giving you more bang for your buck. The idea is that you do short periods of exercises at a high capacity, getting your heart rate up to 80-95% max, followed by periods of active rest, usually at about 60-75% max, and repeat.
For example: A full capacity exercise might be sprinting for 30 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of brisk walking, or 45 mountain climbs as fast as you can, followed by 40 seconds of jogging on the spot.
There are a whole heap of resources on the internet to find different HIIT exercises. I like Fitness Blender, as it’s varied, offering both short and long workout sessions.
Here is one from their YouTube channel.,but you can’t find heaps more.
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Note: As with all exercises, it’s important to warm up before, and down after the session.
I will be concentrating on aerobic HIIT, at least early on in my challenge, then later in the year, I will work other HIIT programs into my week.
According to Wikipedia yoga is the practice of physical, mental and spiritual practices, or disciplines, which originated in India. Essentially it’s all about postures, breathing and meditation/relaxation. The benefits of yoga are said to be many. Some of these include: increase endurance, flexibility and balance, increased muscle strength and tone, anxiety and stress relief, better posture and connection to the present.
There are so many different types of yoga, it’s really hard to know where to begin. Here are some of the main types of yoga and a brief description, so you can start to investigate which ones might suit you best.
This is great for beginners, as its slower paced and focuses on breathing and poses’.
Focuses on linking movement, together with breathing, flowing from one yoga pose to another. It is definitely quicker, and will raise your heart rate!
Is a fast and high intensity style of yoga, that focuses on building muscle.
Is a series of 26 poses and 2 breathing techniques, that are practiced in a room that is heated up to around 105 Fahrenheit (or just over 40 degrees Celsius), and with a humidity level of around 40%. All sessions are 90 minutes and are quite strenuous, so take it easy if you are new to yoga, and keep hydrated!
Is similar to Bikram yoga, except it doesn’t restrict the poses to 26 like in Bikram yoga. Again be aware of the hot conditions!
is all about alignment, precise movements, and holding poses longer while focusing on your breath. This practice uses equipment like, blocks, straps, chairs, blankets and towels to help you get deeper into your pose.
Is about moving through a series of strict poses while synchronising your breath, and building internal heat. This style is not recommended for beginners.
If you’re unsure about heading out to a yoga class just yet, you can try it at home. One of my favourites on YouTube is Yoga with Adriene. She has yoga for videos for all different needs, like yoga for runners, yoga for backs, yoga for weight loss, she also has videos for beginners, and a great variety of shorter and longer yoga sessions too.
While I’m not traveling, I will hit up the local yoga studio, probably starting with Hatha yoga, and explore from there. When I am traveling, I will use Adriene’s videos a couple of times a week, to help strengthen my core muscles and my back, and for general flexibility.
Here is one of her video’s for beginners.
Body weight fitness and strength trainingBody weight fitness is the practice of using your own body weight as resistance, while performing exercises such as pull ups, push ups, planks, squats, leg raises and dips, handstands and horizontal pulls. You work through progressions, to increase the difficulty of an exercise, without the use of free weights or machines. The idea of body weight fitness is not necessarily to get huge and shredded, but to strengthen your muscles, which in turn increases your overall health. There some great resources on the internet going more in depth, and providing routines and guides. This Reddit group is particularly fantastic, and I also like Nick Janvier’s website about body weight fitness. It’s informative, and provides a great infographic for the progression exercises. Body weight fitness is something that I will bring into my routine later in the year, after I have worked towards fixing my posture and back issues. The reason for this as mentioned before is that I don’t want to make those issues worse by strengthening those muscles that are already overcompensating. I already have a routine for this program, as I have practised this before.
Sometimes mediation seems hard, and too time consuming. Your thoughts stray and it just doesn’t seem like it’s working. How are you supposed to measure if it’s working anyway?
Taking time to relax and meditate has a great impact on our overall wellbeing while reducing stress and anxiety. It takes time to recognise the difference in yourself, and perhaps it will take someone else recognising something in you, before you realise that meditation is having a positive effect on you.
Meditation positively affects the brain, increasing tolerance, improving attention and memory, self- awareness and empathy, while reducing some negative things in your life like tension, anger, high blood pressure, some depression symptoms and negative moods.
Traditionally, meditation promotes a calm mind through breathing, self-awareness and mindfulness of the present moment by focusing thoughts and concentrating on breath, recognising stray thoughts and re-centering your mind.
There is also a different type of meditation called non-directive meditation. It’s a technique that lets the mind drift and wander from spontaneous thoughts, images and emotion, allowing the brain to process these, and work through them.
The aim is not to get rid of any thoughts or label them as bad, but to simply allow your brain to acknowledge them and move on.
This is the final piece of my puzzle, and as equally important as everything mentioned above. This non-directive meditation is the type I will be practicing during my day.
I will be combining a low-carb diet with different types of fasting to gain my desired weight loss results, focusing on fixing my posture through stretching and yoga, and then building my muscle through strength training.
Our bodies are incredibly complex, and there are so many different factors that go into a healthy lifestyle. While my plan looks daunting, by breaking it down into bite size pieces I believe it is manageable, and I look forward to putting it into action and reporting back on my results!
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