Fitness watches,devices and apps-are they worth it?

Nowadays we are constantly switched on with personal technology being all around us.From social media luring us into keep upto date with people we follow,personal Netflix accounts keeping tabs on us recommending this or that series to watch next to even the constant beeps of messaging devices ensuring we get back to people.

Being switched is now all over the health and fitness industry too and we can see this with all the current trends that now really dominate the market.From phones that keep tabs of that 10,000 step count,apps to log your calories going in,workout classes that log your calories going out,watches that track our sleep,when to get up and move,devices that keep tabs of our heart rate to social media apps that allow you to share your workouts.

For some of you it might feel you need a little bit more extras than just some workout clothes and trainers to just get started with your training.This is something that constantly pops up in conversations when I am working with new clients.So today I am going to look at whether or not you really need to be investing in a fitness watch,tracker or device to get you started on your fitness journey whats the benefits.

A quote I use quite regularly in this column is “If you are not assessing then you are really only guessing” and this is something that can fit in well here.

I am all for certain trends that have come into the fitness industry.I have found myself using different approaches that have helped me bring my training to the next level both with myself and my clients and there are certainly plenty of useful tools out there to help you with your health and fitness goals.I have seen many from apps,watches and lots of others health and fitness devices enter the market.Some are really useful while others have just been a total waste of money.The ones that are useful really can compliment your overall training once that are used in the right manner and used at right stage of your own personal journey.For others there is no need to wasting your money on something that might look cool but really will only end up gathering dust 6 months later.

Lets look at a few options.

The 10,000 step feature

This really is one of the basics to work on before you start to get a little more specific with your training devices.This is the recommended steps target to be hitting on a daily basis.For the Monday to Friday busy office worker this number might seem a challenge some days but simple devices like your smartphone can track this and will help you be more conscious of getting nearer to that target-you don’t need to be splashing out on the latest fitness watch just yet,the app on your phone will do for now.Having said that,remember the goal is just to move a little more and enjoy getting outside into the elements.Like I mention in many articles getting outside to some of the many parks or hills around and forgetting about the devices is a big win every now and then.Switch off,get the steps in and overall just clear the head-if you did want to get a little more specific with your training then you can go a little further monitoring your heart rate,workouts,steps then looking at a entry level fitness watch can be a good option.

Fitness watch

Year after year the rapid change in technology is incredible with these watches as they seem to get better and better as time goes on. The choice is now endless at this stage with different brands, specs and even colors at this stage.My advice with these watches to people beginning their fitness journey is to commit to yourself first and prove that you can be a little more active on your own accord first before going down this route and once you have stuck with it and want to get a little more specific then look at getting an entry level fitness watch if you feel its going to help a little more.Rather than the phone telling you to take 10,000 steps,watches like the Garmin Insights feature will nudge you if it senses you’re moving less than you usually do on a given day of the week. Fitbit watches allows users to set and track personalized goals related to things like weight and cardiovascular fitness.Overall a fitness watch is great for logging and keeping track of your training and recovery data.It can pick up holes in your training like disturbed sleep to even positives in your training like an improved running time.Whether you’re training for a specific race or just looking to be more active in general, a fitness watch can help you closely monitor your activity and training.-Track your daily steps, heart rate, map routes, and even receive smartphone alerts on some of these devices. My top brands to consider are Garmin and Polar or Fitbit.

Heart rate monitors

Monitoring your heart rate has really been around the fitness industry a long time but it was perhaps really only seen as one of those features that athletes were using.With the influx of new technology it really is quite easy to monitor your heart rate during a session using your watch or device.One of my favorites is the polar heart rate strap that connects upto your watch and most cardiovascular equipment.For a lot of us it seems that the higher we can get the heart rate the better the workout.Yes,in the odd workout this can be useful but in my opinion the more smarter approach is actually trying to find the right heart zone you need to stay in and monitoring that.For a lot of my weight loss clients in some of our workout sessions we use a simple heart rate monitor in fact to actually control their intensity better giving them the right stimulus they need for that particular day-Remember the higher the intensity is not always the right answer and is something I have wrote in a previous article.Again,for total beginners tracking heart rate isn’t the most important step first but can be something you can look at every now and then down the line.It can be a little tricky to understand what zone you need to be targeting for your particular goal so my best tip is to seek some advice from a trainer who knows what is the best approach for you.

Apps to track nutrition goals

Its not just your activity and workouts that can be logged and monitored.There are endless options nowadays to keep tabs on your nutrition end of things too and this really is quite important if your goals are looking to improve performance or body composition.At the end of the day calories matter and the right amount of macro-nutrients should be monitored to get a guideline of where you are.One of the biggest common mistakes I see with clients is playing the guessing game here and not really knowing where to work off.The best advice for total beginners is to hon in on the basics first and get them right before starting to look a little further into apps to monitor your nutrition requirements.Drink enough water,quit the junk food and have a balanced 80/20 realistic approach with your nutritional lifestyle first then go delve into the numbers using an app like MyfitnessPal  to see where you can brush up a little.

Conclusion

Overall I feel the overall landscape of fitness in Ireland has drastically changed the last 10 years with the influx of all these watches,devices and apps.There are a lot more positives than negatives in my opinion with them and they certainly have a place.However you don’t need to get bogged down with them if you are just starting out-Sure if you want to get a little more specific with your training eventually then absolutely some of these tips above should help you out.Keep it simple first and get a little consistency into your overall lifestyle then find what works for you,have fun and stick with it.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here

 

 

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Key areas to incorporate around your running sessions

They say once January is gone a lot of new years resolutions go too!I hope my fist few articles of 2019 that talked about your new years goals setting have kept you on track and that your now over the initial tricky stages of creating good new healthy habits.

Over the last few weeks, the large number of people who have taken up or got back into running for the new year has been very noticeable and I am a big fan of people bringing their fitness regimes outside away from the gym floor which also tends to be quite busy at this time of the year.All you have to notice is the filled weekly park run events,the 2019 Dublin marathon sell out before Christmas or even the recent popular Raheny 5 mile event with full attendance peaking towards the 4000 mark.

Running nowadays is more popular than ever before and there really are so many reasons for that.From the freedom of getting outside,the good feeling you get after completing a tough run or maybe just the easy accessibility of it all nowadays of linking into different groups, clubs,teams or events.

The goal of today’s article is give you some advice on what areas are best to look at which can only help you with complimenting your running routine.Whether you want to loose some weight,hit a milestone or work upto an event later in the year then these tips will help you out.I train clients from going couchbound to 5k,marathon runners right upto ultra runners along with myself working towards this years Dublin city marathon so its safe to say a plan like this can only help you out too if you’ve been running at least twice a week.

Are you mobile?

The biggest hurdle I pick up on when working with a new client is mobility/flexibility restrictions.I have worked with a number of runners down through the years, and the one thing I have noticed is how easy it is to pick up silly niggles along way.Of course, you are always vulnerable to this whatever training plan you follow but you really shouldn’t be picking up anything too serious once you look after your body the right way.People who run a lot really need to assess their mobility and then go work on areas that are tight or inactive. Mobility work isn’t generally seen as cool and a lot of the time you won’t see the fitness industry focus on this — but it’s just as important as anything else.If you are fairly unsure on how to asses yourself with a basic mobility screen then go check out this video below or go source a trainer who has the knowledge to do so.Running with limited range of motion,tight,inactive or stiff muscles to me is like driving your car with your handbrake on-Down the line its going to lead to an eventually stop with an injury.

Incorporate some weight training

If you are running at least twice a week then this is something I would suggest for you to consider bringing into your plan.Its only going to help you stay strong during those runs along with keeping your bones,joints and muscles in good condition as you continue to clock the miles.Lower body unilateral movements are perhaps my favorite to add to my weight training program-So thats really exercises like lunges,step ups or bridges.Below I have included a video of my favorite drills in which I have scaled both levels from beginners all the way upto the advanced.

Add some core work into every session

Core work is essential.In all of my clients sessions we will generally always add in core work at some stage of our session and if you are out running then it really should be at the top of the list as it will compliment your overall performance.My top tip here is to have at least one core block of  2-4 exercises paired in with your running session.This doesn’t have to be a 10-minute routine of sit ups. I would advise something a little smarter like a 10-minute routine consisting of planks, holds and variations of twists and rotations.Below is a video of my top 5 core exercises in which you don’t need any equipment what so ever and can slot in nicely after a running session.

Look after you body

Running will take its toll on our body and that is just something we have to accept as part of the course.However it doesn’t mean every time you step out with the trainers on you should be struggling with shin splints,muscle pain or overall fatigue as the sessions go on.When you train its pretty normal to be sore every now and then with some delayed onset of muscle soreness but its how you manage it the right way that can make things a little easier.Simple things like drinking adequate fluids,fueling your body the right way and getting enough recovery in is what is best.If you are someone who is constantly tight and sore then you should look at incorporating some basic stretches,epsom baths,recovery walks,yoga or even a simple body maintenance plan just like the video below

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts-a sensible approach for 2019

FOR MANY, JANUARY is a time were we tend to shoot for new goals. And 90% of these goals tend to be health and fitness related.In last weeks article I gave you 5 good tips on how to get your fitness goals up and running

I see everything from people wanting to complete dry January,cut out sugar for the month,go vegan,sign up to a local gym, lose weight,or even signing into an event like the Dublin marathon.

However, at least 50% of this crowd will fall off the wagon and go back to old ways within four to six weeks.

Below are the do and don’ts and an overall sensible approach to go about your goals for 2019.

The local gym just isn’t for you

Every January we see the influx of people sign back up again to their local gym.This is the time we see the special offer and more than likely end up signing into the 12 month deal.Come March the majority of these faces wont be seen attending but the monthly direct debit still continues to roll out.For some,the gym is the best place yet for others it really wasn’t the best avenue to go down and you perhaps should have considered a few more other options.You chose the wrong gym, perhaps fell for the so-called cheaper option, had little to no guidance on your fitness journey, became bored and eventually turned your gym trip into a chore.

Advice

It doesn’t have to be the local gym to sign up for.Choose your training venue wisely. Don’t assume they are good just because they are affiliated with a certain franchise with all the fancy trappings. Having saunas, jacuzzis, flashy spin bikes and treadmills with built-in TVs may not be the best option when it comes to your goal of looking and feeling better.Options are now endless and a lot more affordable these days.Personally for me,I feel one of the best memberships you should look into this year is incorporating some form of outdoor activity into your exercise regime this year.I am a huge fan of getting up into the Dublin/Wicklow mountains.Whether you want to walk,run,hike or bike places like this can do wonders for your physical and mental health and best of all-Its free!

If it didn’t work in 2018 it wont work in 2019

A lot of the time we tend to see people chase down that same goal again each year and the majority of the time that really is to get in better shape,drop some weight or overall look and feel a bit better and healthier.The bottom line is if the way you went about the previous year didn’t go as to plan then a similar approach for this year simply wont work.As Albert Einstein once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

Advice

‘If you are not assessing then you are only guessing’, is a quote I am always mentioning.What I really suggest here is to sit down and look at the approach you took the last time and weigh up why it didn’t go as to plan.Was it the avenue you went down,the lack of motivation,the unsustainable approach,the structure,or possibility the boredom that sat in eventually.If whatever plan is to be successful whether that be with your training,nutrition or any other lifestyle factors you want to better in order for it to work it needs to be sustainable,realistic and actually something that you might actually enjoy with of course a little bit of hard work and consistency thrown into the mix!

Going all in with the plan

We have all seen this approach.Going from bottom to the top,zero to hero or A to Z straight away!I have seen this both with peoples training and nutrition goals.Going all in straight away simply wont work.Sure,its great that you want to make that change and you have that goal in sight and for the first few weeks you might get places with this approach but overall with time I have seen people fall off the bandwagon and return back to square one.Now is the time we see people delve straight into the workouts 100 miles per hour while cutting out this,that and everything to their new food plan while adding in this and that supplement all at the same time.Its asking too much in a short space of time and will only lead to burnout,injury,boredom or failure!

Advice

Take it one step at a time.Have the long term goal in mind but go about the smart short term important steps that really will get you places.There really is no need to jump straight in and expect to hit the goal overnight.Your best bet is to ease back while making small steady changes.Lets be honest,the past few weeks have been filled with lots of nice food with little to no exercise activity so now really isn’t the best approach to totally flip it.The bottom line is that there really is no quick fix, magic training programme, special fitness trainer or any wonder drug out there that is going to help you.One of the main reasons I see people achieve their goals is because they took a sustainable approach,stayed consistent and put in the right steps and work required. Everybody really can start a new plan, goal or venture but not everybody will stick with it. The journey sure is tough and not doubt there will be plenty of ups and downs along the way but consistency is key. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Here are four tips below to help you stay consistent and remain on track.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Making the change and taking the first steps is hard, uncomfortable and, for a lot of us, it’s something we perhaps don’t enjoy initially.We really now live in a world were we are expected a lot from ourselves and its not right to fail,falldown or perhaps even start again.All this pressure can get to us and force us to crack if we don’t stick to the regime.If you do fall off the wagon with a missed workout or a slip up with your food its not the end of the world.Let it happen and get back on the horse.Focus on the positives changes you have adapted into your 2019 regime and forget them one or two slip ups that are likely to surface.

Advice

Reward yourself.If you are going to work hard on those new goals, then eventually rewarding yourself every now and then along the way is important.Smashing a new goal, staying consistent with the plan,hitting a milestone or simply achieving something new what you thought was impossible all deserves a moment for you to reward yourself with.Think about new training gear, a break away or a night out at the end of the week. If you have worked for it, earned it and made it happen, then you deserve to treat yourself to something you want.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information, you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

 

 

5 steps to set you up for your 2019 goals

So that went fast!

Christmas has been and gone and the new year has kicked in.

First of all, I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and New Year with family and friends,plenty of food and drink,nights out,parties and everything else that goes with the festive season.

January is the time of the year where we generally aim to get going again-New year,new me as they say!

For a lot of us these goals tend to be focused around our health, wellness and fitness.Getting going again after the Christmas season is hard for us all and its generally the first few steps of going again that is the biggest hurdle but once you take those first few steps it should become a little easier especially if you have some goals in sight.

Today I am going to give you the best approach on setting you up with your goals for 2019.These 5 steps will help you keep on track from short to long term and should be quite realistic and sustainable with hope it will keep you working towards achieving your goals for 2019.

Sit down and set your goals

Sounds very simple but I guarantee you a lot of us don’t do this.This January I would encourage you to sit down with a pen a paper and list down goals that you want to work towards and achieve this year.Everything from short,medium to long term and goals that go from simple to achieve right down to the ones that seem quite outlandish and out of your comfort zone at that present moment.Having short- to long-term goals is something I believe works very well.A short-term goal could be something as basic as aiming to take three litres of water on board a day for the first seven days of your new healthy lifestyle — allowing that to become a new good habit and moving on from there.A medium-term goal could be to do a couple of 5-10k runs and work towards that long-term goal of a half-marathon.

Start small and build up from there

A lot of the time I see people attack their goals full on from the get go.This is great that you have the drive and motivation initially but sometimes we might have just gone into the deep end too early on which can only lead us to falling off the wagon in a few weeks.The best option here is to take it steady and build yourself back up taking it one step forward at a time.As for getting going again with your fitness goals for the new year-my advice here is for everyone, whether you are a complete beginner or the advanced gym-goer who has taken an extra few days of rest over Christmas.It is very common for people to dive straight into the deep end . Over the years, I have seen this happen to many and it only leads to burnout, injury or loss of interest within a couple of weeks-Start small and go from there.

Choose the right path

We have all seen the contrast in the gym between December and January.The gym to yourself at Christmas and the ques for the treadmills come January!

My best advice here is if your going after a fitness goal this year then make it something that you might actually enjoy.Many will walk into a commercial gym in January and sign up for their 12-month special offer.Having worked in these gyms, I have seen many people follow this path and come March a lot of them are nowhere to be seen.It is great that you have a goal to get fit and want to improve your health but my advice is to look at the different avenues out there before going down this route-you dont always need a gym to improve your health/fitness.

The options now are endless from outdoor activities from hikes,running,walks,biking or swimming to even a variety of clubs from yoga,pilates,running clubs to the endless amount of small studios and local clubs dotted around the country offering plenty of activities.

Get the basics right again

Lets face it,over the last few weeks the basics were thrown out the window-and that’s fair enough as it was Christmas after all.Back then there was plenty of TV and Netflix,good food,alcohol and late nights on offer so its fair to say we drank a little less water,ate a little more,moved a little less and slept a little less!My best advice here over the next week or so is to get back on track with the basics before you get a little more specific with your goals.

Water-I recommend starting your day with a glass of water and shooting for a total daily intake of 2.5-4 litres, depending on the individual.

Food-The 70/30 or even 60/40 approach was perhaps what we all went for the last few weeks which gave a little more leeway to enjoy the nice treats over the festive period.-At this stage most of us are sick of eating Christmas food and ready to get back on track.My advice is to clean up the diet and get on the 80/20 approach. I have written about this before and you can find all that information here.

Sleep-This is another pretty basic rule that people need to focus on. It is an area that lets down many when chasing their fitness goals.Believe or not, it’s not the training or food plan you’re on that is not always working, a lot of the time it’s the fact you’re not getting the basics right first.Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night is one of the fundamental rules when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle.

Visualize,write down and asses your goals

I am a big believer in writing down your goals for the year ahead and using daily reminders to keep you on track in getting after those targets.I have talked about using a journal and logging your daily progress or even having a visualisation board to put all your goals on show for the year as another useful way of helping you out.

As for assessing your goals.I like to say, ‘if you’re not assessing your really only guessing’. I would suggest you test and retest your progress every four-six weeks and this is something you could do towards the end of January.

This could be anything from retesting your body fat readings,comparing and repeating a benchmark workout or something as simple as retesting your mobility/flexibility work that you started doing daily.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information, you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

Christmas gift ideas for the fitness person in your life

THE HOLIDAY SEASON is well upon us, and if you are anything like me, you are most likely searching for last minute gifts for friends and family.Buying gifts for the health and fitness enthusiast in your life can sometimes be difficult. To help you out and get you inspired,I have selected my top Christmas gift ideas that anyone into their fitness will absolutely love!

Active wear

Probably my personal favorite. It’s hard to go wrong when buying some fresh training gear for a loved one or friend. Fresh exercise wear can provide you with that added motivation heading into the New Year.An Irish brand that seems to be on everyone’s fitness Christmas gift list this year is Gym+Coffee who really have a great selection of active wear for everyone.As well as that they have a great community that run lifestyle events dotted throughout the year that aims to attract people with similar healthy interests

New footwear

You cant go wrong with new footwear as a gift idea.For the friend or family member that enjoys a weekend run or even has the Dublin marathon 2019 in site then perhaps this is a great idea.Or for the outdoor adventure type a new pair of hiking boots is a super gift idea for those hill walks in 2019.

Build a healthy hamper

Putting together your own hamper for a friend or family member is a really nice touch.A good way of doing it is picking up small affordable bits and putting them all together.Everything and anything can be considered here from some fitness supplements,workout resistance bands,a new shaker,yoga mat,foam roller,workout gloves to even liquid chalk.I find D8fitness a really good store and online shop that can cater for all those small items that can be put together for a nice Christmas fitness hamper

Workout equipment

Now I am not talking about a big clunky home treadmill here.I am referring to small,simple effective exercise equipment that can be used at home or even packed away on the bag if your on the road.If you are a regular reader of my column then you will know how I value equipment like a simple set of resistance bands or mini loop bands.These are very affordable and extremely versatile when it comes to different exercise movements.Other than that I am also a huge fan of the TRX,the kettlebell or a simple set of Olympic rings.A home pull up bar too is another great idea that can be set up between a door frame.Just like above,I find D8fitness a great place to get looked after here.

Health + Fitness books

Is it just me or has every almost every health + fitness blogger published their own book or eBook at this stage?A lot of these books just repeat the same thing but some are really worth considering.All of them of course will have great workout ideas and recipes to follow but to me the ones you want to watch out for are the ones that promote the right path to health and fitness which to me are sustainable,realistic,enjoyable and simple to follow and implement.My favorite book this year is Move,train,nourish-The sustainable way to a healthier you by Dominic Munnelly and Grainne Parker.

Healthy retreat away

One of the biggest points I mention in a lot of my wellbeing talks and articles is that “Sometimes we have to slow down to speed back up again”— doing things that help the mind slow down, destress and unwind are vital.Nowadays we really are always on the go and constantly switched on so it really is important a little slow down break every now and then when the body is showing signs that it might actually need a break!Physical fitness is very important but how you train and look after your mind is just as, if not more, important.Bringing in things like mindfulness, yoga or even meditation are areas that can improve your stress levels, fatigue or burnout. A healthy mind helps a healthy body.The Cliffs of Moher retreat is an amazing venue that caters for all of the above in which offers healthy weekends away in fabulous surroundings with amazing food on offer as well as incredible body recharging activities from yoga,meditation,hikes to even a wim hof breathing experience weekend!

Exercise watch

Another favorite of mine and one that makes the list nearly every year.Year after year the rapid change in technology is incredible and these watches seem to get better and better as time goes on.The choice is now endless at this stage with different brands,specs and even colors at this stage.These are a must-have for anyone who is interested in logging and keeping track of their data. Whether you’re training for a specific race in the New Year or just looking to be more active in general, a fitness watch can help you closely monitor your activity and training.Track your daily steps, heart rate, map routes, and even receive smartphone alerts on some of these devices. My top 4 brands to consider are Garmin and Polar,Apple or Fitbit.

Headphones

Just like the training watches above, headphones too seem to be improving as time goes on with consistent improvements in sound quality,moisture resistance, different wearing styles,reliability which all tick the right boxes for those that like to tune in while on the go with their exercise routine.

Subscriptions

These make the list every year for me.They wont break the bank and are a simple click of a button away to purchase which leaves out all the hassle of competing with the last minute run to the shops.

I find all of the four below to be very useful:

  • Spotify — for listening to music while working out
  • Headspace — for some daily meditation
  • ROMWOD — to improve mobility and flexibility
  • Audible — to listen to inspiring audio books

Gym/Club membership/Personal training voucher

The timing might not seem right for talking about the gym on Christmas day but this really is a good gift for someone to get them on the right healthy track for 2019

Working with a trainer one-on-one can really ignite that fire one needs to get them going in January.

If your friend or family member isn’t the gym type but still likes to keep fit then look at what they enjoy and get them a voucher from that particular club/hobbie they spend their time at.This could be anything from mountain biking,rock climbing/bouldering to maybe even some yoga sessions.

I’d like to finish this article by wishing you a very happy Christmas. I appreciate you reading and taking an interest and I look forward to continuing to help you out with advice in 2019

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

The Christmas nights out party season

I hope you are in full swing with your Christmas parties, late nights,dancing shoes,sore heads, and perhaps even running around picking up last-minute gifts.

Over these last few articles I have stuck with the Christmas theme.I have given you a realistic approach on how to enjoy the festive season.The biggest message I want to pass out in these articles is yes, enjoy yourself firstly, but if you are someone who wants to hit the ground running on a fit and healthy 2019, then you should bring in balance and maintenance over this period.

 

With the month that’s in it, I am sure you have a big night out planned — heck, you might have two or three big nights planned! So what I decided to do this week is to give you a quick list of tips and advice on how you can maintain and look after your health, fitness and wellbeing over this particular party month.

This is the time of the year that bring on plenty of parties,nights out and get together’s with family and friends.Everything from alcohol, food and perhaps getting less sleep and a little less exercise is all on offer.-So this week I am giving you some tips that should be able to help you out and perhaps they can keep you that little bit fresher on your feet.

Build a calorie bank

If you know you have a big night out planned coming up then build up a calorie bank.In the days leading upto your night out cut back a little on your calories and give yourself a little bit more wiggle room when it comes to that Saturday night on the town.Something simple on leaving yourself short of a 200 calorie snack on days Monday to Friday will make it all worth while when it comes to that bit more overindulgence on the Saturday night.

Squeeze in another short session

Sure,for some of you December isn’t the month to be thinking about your normal exercise regime.However if you did want to relatively stay on top of things this month then I suggest trying to squeeze in a few HIIT style short workouts.We just don’t have as much time as we might normally do in December so it’s probably difficult to squeeze in a full 60-minute session — in this instance, high intensity workouts are something you should look to add into your week.All you need is a 10-20 minute window and doing these workouts will help keep your metabolism high, maintain your fitness levels and help burn off those excess calories over the Christmas break.

Control the controllable

At this time of the year this is easier said than done for most but it is important.If you do find yourself drinking a lot, my advice would be to go with the drink you truly enjoy but the main message here is to keep it in moderation.On top of that, try to limit spirits,sweet mixers and too many dark beers.

As for the food,drinking on an empty stomach is a bad idea. If you eat before ingesting alcohol, your body will thank you later on.Before a night out eat something that is slow digesting which also has a good source of protein and slow-digesting carbohydrate. This helps slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach. The longer food stays in your stomach, the slower the alcohol gets absorbed into your bloodstream.

As for the take away home-this is a very easy way of picking up an extra 1,000 calories that you’ll barely remember!If you are someone who has a few parties on the town lined up this Christmas then my best advice is to try to steer clear of this habit as much as you can and have some food already planned before you head out so when you head home, it will keep you away from those late-night greasy calories.

Rebuild yourself back up again

We have all been there. Getting through the day after is a tough task and it can be tough 24 hours ahead for most of us

Upon awakening, you should be looking to rehydrate and stabilise your blood sugar levels. Some fluids that have electrolytes, some water and a little bit of a cordial mix, or even a dioralyte will help you out here.

Soon after, the best step is to seek out food that is going to help you bring down the inflammatory responses in your body after a heavy night out. Of course, for a lot of us, the first food port of call generally involves a Christmas fry or even the turkey leftovers; however if you can start the day with a super smoothie, that really can be a great choice to get you back up and motoring again.

The next port of call generally is the sofa.We have all been there before and the last thing we want to do after a night out is move and exercise the next day. What we generally do is stick on the Netflix and park ourselves on the couch for the next five hours.

My advice here is, yes stick to some Netflix, but try to give yourself 30 minutes to do some form of physical activity. This will help everything from clearing out those toxins to getting the blood flowing around the body again, and overall it will just help you come back around to normality.

Embrace the festive cheer and enjoy yourself

At this time of the year you shouldn’t have to be searching for a “Christmas survival guides” to get your through this period.This is the time of the year to switch off and enjoy good quality time with family and friends.Embrace the Christmas period,nights out,food and drink and enjoy them — don’t dread them in fear of setting your fitness goals backwards.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

 

 

December tips to consider before the Christmas cheer

If you are here to hoping find this article will give you a “Christmas fitness survival guide” then think again.Lets face it this is the time of year when you should enjoy yourself with good food and drink and use the holidays to switch off,party and spend quality time with family and friends — but my advice is always to maintain balance and this really is the goal of my next few articles over the festive season.

 

If you are someone who goes completely off the wagon in December and loves the grind of starting all over again in January then good for you.However,if you are someone who generally wants to have a good balance with their fitness and health all year round and wants to maintain,push on or even hold onto them goals they achieved this year then perhaps these tips I highlight in today’s article is for you.

Plan December

December is a month with a lot going on.Its a month which can certainly take you away from your normal routine.From Christmas work parties,get together’s with family and friends,late nights out,to the Christmas shopping rush.Now is the time to pencil in and choose the gatherings you go to — you don’t need to be attending every social event.On top of that if you are someone who wants to stay focused on your fitness goals then a good idea should be to sit down and map out a training plan for December. Its a month where you can slip a little with your training which is perfectly OK however its a good month to at least aim for maintenance and relatively on track with your goals.Some of you spend enough time chasing your goals looking after your health and fitness all year round and now shouldn’t be the time to let that hard work go to waste.

Don’t let December stress you out

Christmas is a great time of the year for most. As they say ‘tis the season to be jolly’, however it’s a time of the year where we can all stress a little too much over silly things.In the past, I have seen Christmas cause stress, fatigue and burnout and all of this builds up to effect our mental health and wellbeing.My advice is to not let this time of the year suck you up effecting your stress levels.Physical fitness is very important but how you train and look after your mind or mental fitness is just as, if not more, important. Over the festive season allow some time to work on your mindset.A healthy mind helps a healthy body.Doing things that help the brain slow down, de-stress and unwind are vital and this could be anything like doing some yoga,a walk,some meditation or even a 15 minute home workout.

Don’t deprive yourself-embrace the festive season!

After all, it is Christmas.Now is a time to be realistic with your lifestyle choices in December. This is a time of the year where you should and can afford to cut loose a little. I have talked about having a realistic approach when it comes to your nutrition and I have always felt that having a 80/20 realistic approach is something that always works in the long run.Let yourself a little loose at this time of the year and go with a 70/30 approach as realistically there is going to be far too much nice food around. Enjoy it but just don’t go overboard.

Start the month strong

For most of us the true madness doesn’t kick off until the later in the month.For the final few days of November and going into the start of December aim to keep going with your exercise routine.This could be anything from a walk, run,gym class or even get a home workout in. What helps me in December is training early in the morning and getting that job done first thing — if you leave it until later you probably won’t get around to it and more than likely something is going to pop up later in the day.You don’t necessarily have to force yourself out to the gym nor do you need to do this everyday but aiming to try move, stretch or get a little sweat on a few times over the festivities will make everything that little bit easier when you return back to your full routine in January 2019.

Get the simple things right

At this stage we should know a lot of the simple basic things. It’s the basics I always try and write about here on a weekly basis and the reason is because these are the things that work. Believe it or not it’s the basics and simple things that really are the little BIG things.

Here is a little checklist that can help you keep accountable over the month of December:

  • Keep a bottle of water around you at your desk in work and drink at least 2.5 litres during the day.
  • Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Give yourself a goal of exercising at least  2-3 times a week in December.
  • Aim to get enough protein in your day (If you are really not sure on this then check out this article).
  • Continue to stay on track with your food prep. For the month of December we can easily loose control of our meals, prepping our food or even getting that weekly shop in. My advice is to still use those one or two hours of the week sitting down planning your shop and weekly meals.

In my next Christmas article I will be giving you plenty of tips around Christmas nights out involving lots of good food and drink!Hope this article has helped you out and hope you can implement some of these tips for the month of December.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.