Posts tagged exercise
Happify are translating the latest cutting-edge research into fun and interactive, science-based activities and games to teach us the skills of happiness. Optimism, self-confidence, gratitude, hope, compassion, purpose, empathy – these are all qualities that anyone can own – and Happify believe that we can train ourselves to develop these and become happier as a result.
I have been invited by the Happify team to be one of their “pioneers” – to test out the platform.
The aim of Happify is to provide users with an innovative new online/mobile product that uses interactive activities and games to help users form daily happiness habits and build social connections with like-minded happiness seekers.
So far I have played a game to find certain objects in a scene, made (and eaten) home-made meatballs, posted a photo of my bunnies (pets help make us happy), and thought about how my leisure activities match up with my values. The little tasks, exercises, are quick, but appear to encourage me to consider things and their impact on my mood.
Can we really train ourselves to become happier? Science says yes. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of CA-Riverside, is among several researchers who’ve determined the role genetics plays in one’s well-being. Although each of us has a certain genetic set point in the way we do for weight, genetics only determines 50% of our happiness levels. We determine most of the remainder by choosing our behaviors, actions, and thoughts.
When we have new experiences or look at something in a different way, neurons carve out new pathways in our brain to process that fresh information. By practicing certain techniques, we can create stronger neural connections in the regions of our brain associated with attention, motivation and empathy. And we’re just beginning to identify what behavioral and mental techniques work best to increase our well-being.
Recent research into the kind of “interventions” (i.e. “exercises”) designed to promote positive emotional qualities, such as kindness and mindfulness, suggests that such qualities may be the product of skills we can learn through training—in the same way that practice improves our musical or athletic abilities.
This is an experiment. I already know that my attitude in advance of any given scenario in life does indeed affect my mood (and sometimes also the outcome) – so I am very interested to see whether joining Happify has any lasting effect in developing new good-for-my-mind habits. I agreed to take part in Happify to find out what it is all about. I’m interested to know if this stuff works. I’ll let you know.
Are any of you taking part in Happify too? If so give me a follow over on the Happify Pioneer site and let me know what you think. If not – would you consider taking part in little tasks and exercises to help improve your mental well-being? Do you believe that happiness is something you can train yourself to achieve? Is it something that you can take control of? What do you do to help pick yourself up – any tips and tricks?
A good friend pointed out this afternoon that I’m not really a good advocate for the Weight Watchers programme. She’s quite right. I have neglected it somewhat over the last two or maybe three weeks.
I started so well. I like a challenge and being a Weight Watchers Blog Ambassador was the perfect opportunity to combine my need to be healthier and lose a few ponds with my love of writing here on Splodz Blogz. I lost consistently for the first few weeks and met my first target within about six. I cut down on foods that were bad for me, was good at not giving into temptation, and learnt a lot about making the right choices. I had a week off for a holiday but still lost a little bit, and got back to counting pro points as soon as I got back.
More recently I have not been as attentive. I’ve just eaten whatever I fancied – not just once a week as a treat, but more like every day. Lots of bread and potato has crept back into my diet. I’ve purchased crisps – often daily. I’ve sat and scoffed chocolate in the evening without a second thought. There has been no attempt at counting. I’ve also missed a couple of weigh ins because I didn’t want to know. I’ve just not been bothered.
My friend is a good one because her comment has made me stop and think. As a result of that quick chat this afternoon I am here right now telling everyone that I am back on it as of now. Honest. I am hereby announcing that the last few weeks of my Weight Watchers Blog Ambassador trial will be fruitful ones. And to prove it? I went out for a little jog around the block when I got home from work this evening and cooked a very healthy chilli for tea.
The fact that I’ve fallen off the wagon as it were means I know exactly what my weaknesses are. Apart from cakes and chocolate, which are actually quite easy to avoid (if I want to), my biggest “oh go on then” food has to be potato. Fried, mashed, roasted, baked, chipped; I’m not fussy! If I’m cold or feeling a bit blue I like nothing better than a baked potato for lunch. With cheese if it’s raining. And there’s something wrong about meat, two veg and nothing else on the plate at dinner time. I totally love potato. I need to cut back on that again.
I know I’m not unusual for lasting a few weeks then giving up, this is a problem that people have over and over again. The Weight Watchers new approach to Pro Points is supposed to address some of the reasons for that and help us not to give in. There is nothing they can do about the number of cafes we pass on our way to work, nothing they can do about the fresh cream cakes brought in to work by a colleague celebrating a special birthday, and so on, of course. But they do offer some tools to help. So I will go back to my app and the Weight Watchers website and re-learn some of those skills I’ve obviously not been putting into practice.
My name is Zoe and I’m a poor Blog Ambassador. I will do better.
Using protein after exercising isn’t something that I consider is designed for people like me. I’m not interested in bulking up my muscles, or becoming super strong, and I don’t spend hours (or any time actually!) using the free weights at the gym.
Protein is, however, a key nutrient we all need in our diets. It provides the building blocks for growth and repair.
1lb of body fat is 3,500 calories. In order to lose 1lb fat per week you need to create a 500 calorie deficit each day. Ideally made up of exercise as well as cutting back on bad food groups. A lot of women are afraid to try protein out of fear that it will bulk them up, it won’t! A high protein diet keeps you fuller for longer, increases metabolic rate, enhances recovery and muscle repair and can preserve lean muscle which in turn increases resting energy expenditure.
Maxitone have a range of protein products aimed at women, and I was asked if I wanted to give them a try. After explaining that any exercise I do is aimed at general fitness and toning, they sent me a handful of their Definity bars to try out, explaining that they’re higher in protein to encourage recovery and muscle repair when working out and are currently being used by our very own GB Netball team, which is a good advert I reckon.
The snack bars are designed as a post workout snack or for the mid-morning munchies. The fact that it’s not a shake makes it more accessible to begin with, and so I decided to give them a go. I ate my bars after cycling and after doing the 30 Day Shred DVD.
Taste wise these are actually very nice. They are quite small and have cranberries in them which give a lovely flavour. Each bar contains just 83 calories and so they don’t take up a massive chunk of your daily allowance.
Am I more toned as a result of using them? Well no, probably not, but then I only had a handful of them. But I would say they helped with my energy levels after eating, noticeably better than a standard cereal bar. And if they were also doing my muscles some good in the process then all the better.
Our Blog Ambassador challenge this week has been move more, sit less. We were encouraged to stand up more, walk around more and generally exercise more.
At the beginning of the week I ordered 30 Day Shred, a workout DVD by Jillian Michaels that I have been told over and over again really gets results. The premise is that you exercise for 20 minutes every morning for 30 days, and thanks to the combination of strength, cardio and abs circuit-type exercise, you notice a difference to your body very quickly. I can give 20 minutes each day, it’s practically nothing. It arrived on Saturday so I started it Sunday morning – so this morning was day three. And oh my goodness. Those of you who said I’d hurt? Yea, that. Those of you who said I’d sweat? Yea, that. Those of you who said day three would be really difficult because your body is already hurting? Yea, that. I’m on level one at the moment – I can do the vast majority of the exercises without too much difficulty – the cardio is much easier than the strength stuff. But I can’t do a single proper press up. Nope, not one. I’ll keep trying!
Apart from the DVD I’ve been using the exercise bike and doing my best to move around more. I have a desk job and sit at a computer for the vast majority of the day. As there probably no chance I will ever be provided with either a treadmill desk or a standing desk I am trying to get up off my chair as much as possible – there are things I can do stood up and I can make sure I make the most of my lunch breaks. I would use my Weight Watchers pedometer to track my daily steps but unfortunately I broke it less than a week into being a blog ambassador – it flung off my jeans and straight into the toilet bowl. Oops! I’ve tracked my steps before thanks to the GCC Walk the World scheme, and I know that wearing a pedometer does encourage me to move around more as I end up competing with myself trying to beat my average step count every day. I actually received a pedometer from Tesco in the post today, so from tomorrow I’ll wear that (even though it’s not all fancy and won’t work out any activity points) and see what happens!
I have to say I don’t much like the activities points on the Pro Points tracker. What I mean is I do like them – they mean extra food each week – but I don’t like how they are worked out. They take no account of how hard you work. Cycling on the exercise bike at full speed for 30 minutes is worth the same as cycling at a really leisurely pace barely raising your heart beat. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to work hard. Also, I earn the same points cycling for 30 minutes as I do for walking 30 minutes and doing aerobics for 30 minutes – but these exercises are not comparable on calories burnt. I guess I feel a bit hard done by when two Pro Points are added when I’ve got up early and worked really (really) hard before work. This doesn’t mean I’m not working hard, though…
Oh, and for the record, I have continued to eat breakfast. I find that exercising, then eating, then showering works for me and is a routine I am trying to get into during February. Apart from having that DVD which is motivation in itself I’ve also been challenged by a friend to exercise for 20-30 minutes every day for the whole of the month, to give me a bit of a kick and hopefully see some quick results. I would hope the DVD will cover that but if I get to the point where I can’t face Jillian Michael’s one morning I will still do something.
Food wise I’ve had another okay week, using up my daily points every day with mostly healthy food (the thai curry pictured above was a particular success!) and most of my weekly points too. I had pizza on Friday night which was particularly yummy and have continued to munch on the sweets and chocolates we have at home. I like that the counting system means I can still eat the things I want to. I’m eating loads of fruit and vegetables – even more than before (I’ve never been afraid of vegetables!), and I’m drinking lots more water. I am getting used to counting Pro Points now, I understand them more – I know what foods are free and what will cost me lots (although some things still surprise me!) and I like the way I can use those weekly points to treat myself to a nice hot chocolate or some fudge.
The proof is always in the numbers I guess and this week I lost another pound. I’ll take that – I don’t mind little losses, as long as I keep losing slowly but surely.
I made it clear in my last post about my Weight Watchers journey that I would not be counting while on holiday. For LincsGeek and I food on holiday is a very important part of the experience – we enjoy our food, enjoy eating out, enjoy finding a restaurant we love and going back to taste something else from the menu… and I enjoy just picking what I fancy from a menu rather than thinking about how many calories or how much fat I’m consuming. And anyway, you can’t spend valuable time away worrying about what you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Of course now I am back and ready to start again. I stepped on the scales this morning to assess the damage and was incredibly surprised. I lost weight. Just the one pound but if you could see the pile of hot chocolate glasses… and sweet wrappers… I know that skiing is good exercise, and you probably burn more calories when it’s -20 outside, but it has still come as a happy surprise.
Now I’m home again I’d better make sure I take positive steps to continue the trend downwards – I need to get meal planning again and desperately need to do a proper shop as we’ve not got a lot in.
Because I missed a week I have two challenges to concentrate on over the next seven days. The first is all about breakfast. Yes, yes, I know it’s the most important meal of the day, but unless I’m doing something that requires being fuelled up before I go (like skiing, a long walk etc), then nine times out of ten I don’t bother. I go through phases – I’ll eat breakfast properly for a few days before giving up and just waiting til my stomach starts moaning at 10am (or before). I’ve had boxes of cereal under my desk at work before now to try and get me into a routine of having breakfast as soon as I get in (I start at 8am so it’s early enough), but again I never get into a proper routine. So this week I will eat breakfast every single day, and try and vary it to keep me interested. It is most likely going to be cereal – weetabix, alpen, country crisp, that sort of thing. This morning I had some Sultana Bran. I give me til Friday.
I’ll introduce the other challenge later in the week.
What tips do you have for getting back on a decent diet after you’ve been off it for a week? What do you eat for breakfast?
Oh yes. You read that right. I have actually completed my 2012km in 2012 challenge. A whole week early!
I decided I needed to get out for some fresh air this afternoon after spending much time getting Christmas Day food ready. Unfortunately the rain was so heavy I’d have got soaked in no time at all so I went for the next best thing instead – my exercise bike. I had a quick look on RunKeeper which told me I had 16.8 km to go to complete my challenge so I decided I would just get it done.
32 minutes and 17 km later I am able to post this screen shot:
The final stats:
2012 in 2012 Summary, Monday 24th December
Total for December >> 129.3 km
Total for 2012 >> 2,012.2 km
Average per day (360 days) >> 5.59 km
My total consists of 1,245.4 km cycling, some outside, some inside; 645.9 km walking, which included both the London Moonwalk and the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge; 112.1 km of downhill skiing; a teeny 6.8 km running and an even teenier 2 km rowing.
Over the course of this year I have learnt that I can actually complete a massive and long term challenge if I want to (and I have people asking me how I’m getting on – this blog has really helped me be accountable!). But not only that, I know I can complete a massive long term challenge even with so much other stuff going on in my life that might otherwise get in the way. I think I can safely say that without this challenge I may have accrued zero km of any sort some months as it would have been very easy to just sit and watch copious amounts of television, even more than I actually did.
I’m feeling pretty happy. I know there will be many of you who have easily done many more kilometres than me this year without having to work too hard at it, and good for you, but I’m pleased with my achievement. I am chuffed because twelve months ago is a really long time, and I stuck at it.
Am I fitter? Yes I think so. I’m certainly no thinner – I weigh more (too much!) – but thankfully that wasn’t what this was about. These wide legs of mine can take me a very long way, and so not fitting into super skinny jeans isn’t so bad really.
And I have absolutely rekindled my love of the outdoors. I already knew I loved being outside, but this year I have made a real point of getting out and about. When I’ve had a day off I’ve made an effort to go on a little trip to see or do something – take a walk along a beach or see the seals at Donna Nook. I’ve enjoyed that very much, and I will definitely keep that up in 2013.
So what should I do next year? I feel I should set another challenge along similar lines. What do you think? Maybe the same – 2013 km in 2013 – aiming to do even more of those km outside than I did in 2012. But I’m not sure I’ve got the motivation to do it all again in the same way.
Maybe something in a single sport; only walking or only cycling for example. How about walking the equivalent of John O’Groats to Land’s End? It’s about 1,000 miles and I could plot my route on a map to make it visual. That challenge would keep me outdoors too.
Any other suggestions? I’ve got a week to decide…