5 Ways to Kick Start Your Motivation

5 Ways to Kick Start Your Motivation

You’ve committed to getting fitter and healthier, and you are full of enthusiasm at the moment to get started in the New Year right? However, you have a track record of dropping out when life gets in the way, and are worried it will happen again.
Here are our tactics to help you stay on track and succeed in your journey.

  1. Set yourself a goal: Setting a goal gives you an end to your plan of action. A well-known longitudinal study of Harvard graduates found that those who had clearly defined, written, goals were the ones who went on to achieve the greatest success.
  2. Find something you enjoy: Eating plans and exercise can seem like a chore. But finding something you love to do is simple, running or dog walking, tennis or even gardening are all great ways to exercise. Cooking is fun and experimenting with healthy nutrients and ingredients can be as enjoyable as the eating!
  3. Make healthy your default setting: New research has found the most consistent exercisers are those who made it into a specific type of habit – such as jumping out of bed automatically when they hear their alarm and heading for the gym. The aim is to make being healthy your default setting so you don’t have to think about it. Plan your workouts, record what you eat, and the nutrients you take in. Be as methodical and practical as you would work meetings or social events – that way they’ll actually happen. You can have excuses or results, not both!
  4. Tell people what you’re doing: Good friends will want to encourage you on your getting healthier plans (and some may even join you – so even better). If you’ve made a public commitment, you’ll have more motivation to carry on and earn their praise. Setting up a Just Giving sponsorship page for a charity event can be a great motivator too, once people have donated money for your chosen charity you’ll have the added incentive of not wanting to let them down.
  5. Track your progress: Whether it’s a wearable, a phone app, or simply a pen and paper, tracking your health and fitness progress and using data, stats and graphs will get you to your goal faster. Being able to go back and look at what you were doing when things were going really well for you is invaluable, you can use it as motivation to get you back on track and as a blueprint of personal success.

Staying motivated

  • Dangle the carrot: If you respond to bribery, promise yourself rewards for your exertions. If you smash that weekend class you’ve been meaning to get to or run a certain distance – reward yourself with a big meal, a luxurious bath, or put some money towards a sports massage each time you hit your goals.
  • Download some music for workouts: We all have our favourite songs that make us run that bit faster or dig in the cross trainer with more oomph. Load them onto your i-Pod or make a killer Spotify playlist, and see your motivation rise!
  • Work with your body clock: Are you an owl or a lark? Is it realistic for you to get up an hour earlier and run before work, or will you find it easier to pop to the gym after work? If neither are realistic (particularly tough for working parents), think about how you can fit more exercise into your daily routine – brisk walks at lunchtime, walking all or part of the way to or from work and then maybe some classes and a long run at the weekend may be the best solution.
  • Eat to suit your day: Don’t believe you have to rigidly stick to one particular time of day to eat. Research has found if you are under-eating or over-eating for your needs, your performance and recovery and management of your weight will all be affected. What matters is the nutrients you get in over your day, so manage eating plans to suit your lifestyle.
  • Talk to an expert: An assessment of your fitness and nutrition goals are worth the investment. An expert can give you a fresh perspective and advise you on how train, more about your physiological needs and what to eat. Our Amplify Life expert training plans and coaching advice will give you extra support as you face the new year full steam ahead!

7 Ways to Think Like An Athlete


We admire athletes for their focused approach to performance. They tap into discipline, strength and positive thinking and get results. Think like an athlete and perform better at sport – and in life!

 

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  1. Think big. Be limitless in your thought process. In a special article for the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors reveal that the more ambitious the weight loss goal, the bigger the success!
    However, it also makes sense to start small, and remember the phrase, ‘every journey starts with a single step’. The moment you make a commitment to getting started is when things start to happen.
  2. Be mindful. In the run up to Wimbledon 2013, it was widely reported how tennis player Novak Djokovic practised both mindfulness and meditation, paying regular visits to a Buddhist temple in London. Mindfulness is a method of focusing on the current moment through activities such as meditation, yoga and breathing.A 10-year study of mindfulness in sport suggested that mindfulness is effective because it helps athletes focus without distraction. “I have to really focus on the job in hand,” Jessica Ennis told Women’s Fitness. “If your mind wanders, you don’t get the most out of the session,” she added.
  3. Endure the pain. “That’s the closest I will come to knowing what it’s like to have a baby,” said Sir Bradley Wiggins when he broke the world record for distance cycled in an hour in the summer of 2015.Don’t get comfortable! Athletes are happy to put up with pain and a review from 2012 revealed that they have a higher pain threshold than the average. Push out of your comfort zone and keep in mind the phrase made famous by Susan Jeffers’ book: Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.
  4. Have a vision. Visualise and rehearse in your mind your best performance. In the film Rush, there’s a scene when world champion racing driver, James Hunt, drives the entire course in his mind, holding his steering wheel and talking through each and every twist and turn. Visualising your success, your race, a slimmer healthier you in action gets results.
  5. Believe in yourself. A study in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology aimed to examine what mental toughness was all about. They found of the 12 attributes that define mental toughness an “unshakable self-belief in your ability to achieve your competition goals” emerged as the most important.
  6. Repeat a mantra. Positive self-talk works. Researchers have shown that using simple positive phrases, such as “I can” or “ball-target” help with both power-based and more precision-based skills according to the British Psychological Society.
  7. Celebrate success. Mo has the ‘Mobot’ and Usain Bolt has the ‘lightening’. It’s vital to celebrate your success as it confirms that all the work and commitment was worth it – so bask in your glory.

 

Be the best you can be NOW

Stay in the moment, take small steps and make minor daily adjustments to exercise and your life, and you can be your fittest you, today – and every day. Fiona Bugler shows you six ways to be a better you…

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  1. Find the right time for your training. For those lifting weights you’ll have more power in the evening, and to burn fat, it’s great to train in the morning. Work out before you eat (i.e. in a fasted state) and there will be a small increase in the amount of fat you burn. That’s because blood sugar, insulin and glycogen levels are all lower than normal after an overnight fast. And when it comes to morning training, it’s just great to get it done!
  2. Positive self-talk. The ‘psychobiological’ model says that the brain has as big an influence on how hard, and how long you can train, as your physiological state.Scientists at the University of Kent put the theory to the test when they examined a small sample of healthy adults and got them to cycle to exhaustion, repeatedly. They took all the relevant measurements then sent the group away for two weeks, with one half the group being told to talk to themselves in training, with phrases such as ‘You’re doing well’. Two weeks later this group cycled for longer and it felt easier than before, whereas the other group remained the same.
  3. Smile when you train. Smiling when you run can help to release tension in the neck and shoulders, and relieve stress, and doing this can mean you’ll perform better in training, and subsequently get fitter – and don’t just grin, smile big! A study from 2010 analysed baseball cards from 1952 and found that the players with the biggest, widest smiles, lived longer, happier, more successful lives. Find you’re more likely to grimace than smile? Dance, play, do an obstacle race, train with friends – have fun! Studies show simple things like good music can make a difference to how enjoyable exercise is and are more likely to keep you smiling.
  4. Train with your friends. It’s much more motivating to train with friends, as well as being more fun, training with others means you’re more accountable and studies have found that group training is associated with adherence. Work together, try something new each month, and mix up your plans so that you can all play on your strengths and develop your weaker areas.
  5. Get a gadget and record your progress. From heart rate monitors, to lifestyle gadgets that record your steps, your eating, your sleep hours, there’s now no excuse not to keep track of where you’re going and keep your fitness in mind all day long. Research shows that tracking what you do gets results.
  6. Breathe, stretch, relax… A total body approach to your fitness training will mean you get results quicker. If you’ve trained hard set aside time to release the muscles you’ve worked. As well as stretching, iron out the fascia (a web-like tissue beneath your skin) with a foam roller, a physio ‘stick’ or another ‘myofascial’ release tool. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to breathe deeply, and meditate so you can tune into your body and ‘listen’ to how it’s responding to the exercise you’re putting it through.

Introducing our Shop

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We’ve embarked on a journey of building a health service that can help you achieve your health goals, whether you simply want to become more active and eat well, or your managing an active athletic lifestyle

Amplify’s small and passionate team have been working tirelessly on a revolutionary set of services, that will help to transform your health and life. And we are proud to launch a vitamins and supplements store with a wide range of health and fitness products, as our first milestone.

We are dedicated to providing a wide range of products and brands, that we know most of you are taking today, to maintain your health and to supplement your active lifestyle. And we promise what we are building in this store keeps very much in line with our broader health service offering and will always add value to your life.

If you want to continue to hear about our developments, you can drop us your email address here.

We’ll send on more updates as we go along!

 

 

7 Nutrition Tweaks for Active People

If you exercise and maintain a healthy and active life, it makes sense to ensure you are in the driving seat when it comes to nutrition, too. Here are some easy tips to help you make changes for the better NOW!

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  1. Choose ‘active-friendly’ nutrients

One in five adults and one in six children may have low vitamin levels of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin – an estimated 10 million people across England alone, according to NICE recommendations from 2014. Vitamin D is essential for active people as it’s been shown to help build strong bones and boost muscle health. Other essentials for anyone keeping active include magnesium, which is lost when we sweat, and essential fatty acids for a healthy heart. And take antioxidants to protect against damaging free radicals, which according to studies are produced when we train, particularly if it’s hard enough to feel exhausted. Try sports antioxidants from Reflex to beat oxidative stress.

  1. Eat before exercise

Before a run, cycle or cardio event, endurance athletes should focus on consuming slow release carbs and allow time to digest the fuel (this will vary from person to person, but for most it’s around two hours). If you’re in a hurry grab a carb bar, such as SIS’s Go Energy Bar. If you’re lifting weights opt for lean protein and carbs, for example lean chicken and noodles or for time-pressed gym bunnies try a Promax Bar from Maxi Nutrition.

  1. Fuel up on the move

If you’re working out aerobically for 90 minutes or more you’ll need to top up your glycogen stores and keep on top of electrolytes. The American College of Sports Medicine recommend we fuel every 45-60 minutes during a long workout, taking on board 30-60 grams of carbohydrate (120-240 calories) per hour. For ideas on what to eat during your workout visit the Amplify Shop.

  1. Get Carbs on board after your workout

After a long run or bike ride, or hard session at the gym, you’ll need to boost your carb and protein levels for energy and repair. “Choose a three-to-one ratio, carb:protein if you’ve trained hard and re-fuel within the first hour – the acute phase of recovery,” suggests Dr Justin Roberts from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Unrefined, or liquid sources of carbs are a good choice as they will digest quicker, try SIS Rapid Rego Recovery and for more ideas, check out all our post workout nutrition products.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital for total health as well as maintaining good performance in sport and it’s why we’ve included a hydration measure on our dashboard (coming soon!). When you are exercising and active it’s essential to stay on top of hydration levels, particularly as the weather heats up in the summer months. Try Zero Extreme tablets, which have the added benefits of extra vitamins, or Higher Nature’s Performax sachets with added electrolytes, great for post workout rehydration.

  1. Eat for your body type

Precision Nutrition, the world’s largest online nutrition coaching company make the recommendations based on body type. Ectomorphs (longer limbs and skinnier bodies – a typical runner) metabolise carbohydrates better than other body types. The recommendation is for a 55:25:20 diet (carbs: protein: fats). Mesomorphs (stockier, muscular athletic types) need a 40:30:30 diet. And endomorphs (rounder and heavier) are recommended a 25:35:40 combination.

  1. Get rid of refined sugar

Eddie Izzard, the 54 year old comedian who recently ran 27 marathons in 27 days, gave up ‘refined sugar’ three years ago, ‘Once you get yourself off refined sugar, you do get to a much better place,’ he told the BBC. The simplest way to kick-start going sugar-free is to get label savvy. If sugar is in the Red, don’t buy it! Hidden sugar is in most foods, even those we perceive to be healthy. For example, a 100g portion of granola can have around 13g of sugar. Swap sugar-laden cereal for protein, for example, boiled eggs, which will fill you up, and give you energy.

Looking for sugar free fuel for your training – check out the range at the Amplify Shop.

 

 

Vitamin D

It’s estimated that around one in 5 adults, and around one in 6 children, may have low vitamin D status – an estimated 10 million people across England. We explore the benefits of this vital nutrient and explain why you may need to supplement

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What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D isn’t like other vitamins, which are chemicals we need for good health. Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin it’s the only vitamin that can be generated by our own bodies. In fact, it is probably more appropriately described as a ‘pro-hormone’. The energy provided through the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light leads to natural cholesterol stored in our skin being able to change in form twice, leading to production of vitamin D3, the most beneficial, and biologically active form for humans – also known as cholecalciferol. From here, vitamin D is transported to the liver, then kidneys, where some more chemical changes take place. This allows the vitamin to become activated and take part in its many useful processes.


The Benefits of vitamin D

Vitamin D and your health

In the 1900s vitamin D was linked to preventing rickets. Recent research has shown that it has a role to play in all aspects of health. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked with high blood pressure1, obesity2, poor lung function3, multiple sclerosis4, and even schizophrenia5. Taking Vitamin D is also important for pregnant mothers, protecting the unborn baby, and helping deliver babies with a healthier heart.

Bone health

Vitamin D is needed for the incorporation of calcium into the bones, helping bones grow and strengthen. In an article published in the Current Sports Medicine Report in 2010, two scientists Larson-Meyer and Willis discussed emerging evidence that adequate vitamin D intake reduces risk of stress fracture (as well as total body inflammation, infectious illness, and impaired muscle function).

Muscle function: power and strength

A study of ballet dancers found that supplementation with vitamin D helped to improve muscular strength in vitamin D deficient dancers: they were able to jump higher and had fewer injuries. Other research found vitamin D was positively related to muscle power, force and velocity.

Vitamin D deficiency lowers immunity

Many studies (including one of 19,000 people over a six-year period6) have found that low levels of vitamin D result in a higher reported incidence of upper respiratory infections. This has negative consequences for those under physical stress and with often stressed immune systems, such as endurance athletes, and even those who share locker facilities at the gym!


When to take a supplement

Unlike other important vitamins, like vitamin C, dietary sources of vitamin D, usually found in eggs and oily fish, are simply not widely available in sufficient quantities for our needs. In addition, the sun, in northern latitudes, is only strong enough to stimulate vitamin D production in your skin from May to August. To benefit adequately from the sun’s rays, we ideally need 20 minutes skin exposure daily, without sunscreen, between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Even if a person is regularly outdoors (e.g. runners, walkers) the sun exposure they do get is compromised by the use of SPF creams and pollutants. Researchers have found that even distance runners are often not exposed to enough sunshine as they choose to run early morning or evening. A recent US study found that one third of a large cohort of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college athletes at a single institution had abnormally low vitamin D levels.

References:

Blood pressure and vitamin D

Low vitamin D status is associated with greater bone turnover, bone loss and obesity

Poor lung function and vitamin D deficiency

MS and vitamin D

Schizophrenia and vitamin D

Immunity and vitamin D

 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

For a healthy heart, mind and body, make sure you are getting essential fatty acids.

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What are essential fatty acids (EFAs)?

EFAs are unsaturated fatty acids that are essential to human health, but cannot be manufactured in the body. “The two main essential fats that we must absolutely get from food are alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA (the ‘mother’ Omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid or LA (Omega-6),” explains Lucy Ann Prideaux.

Humans have some potential to convert ALA to the highly-beneficial longer-chain Omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA. Both, however are already present in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as seafood and some sea vegetables (see below).


Benefits of EFAs

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important to the normal functioning of all cells of the body and play a critical role in the development and maintenance of proper brain function; heart function; normal vision; and the production of hormone-like molecules that modulate immune and inflammatory responses. EPA and DHA are strongly associated with healthy cardiovascular function, and DHA is essential to brain development and visual health.

These two polyunsaturated fats can, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), “reduce blood cholesterol, including triglycerides”. They are recommended for a healthy heart, preventing the blockage of arteries as well as help prevent heart disease and stroke. Studies of heart attack victims have found that supplementing the diet or increasing consumption of omega-3 fatty acids daily can reduce the risk of stroke, follow-on heart attacks, and death.

They can also relieve the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, menstrual pain, and joint pain.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids may cause the following:

  • decreased immune function
  • depression
  • dry/scaly skin
  • hormone imbalances
  • joint pain and inflammation


EFAs and Fat Loss

“EFAs have been found to inhibit fat storage, increase the chemical process ‘beta oxidation’ (i.e. fat burning), improve insulin sensitivity, and increase thermogenesis (i.e. calorie burning),” explains Lucy Ann Prideaux, “and therefore have a very positive effect on fat loss,” she adds.


Food sources

  • LA is commonly found in nuts, seeds and their cold-pressed oils, as well as vegetable oils and animal foods.
  • ALA is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds and most abundant in walnuts, hempseeds, flaxseed, chia seed and the oils from these foods, as well as rapeseed oil, red meat and dairy.

Oily fish contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) fatty and its recommended we eat it two to three times a week (see suggestions below). “This is regardless of whether we’ve had a heart attack or not due to a change in guidelines from NICE (National Institute for Care and Excellence),” say the BHF. Do check on mercury levels, PCBs and other toxins in deep-water fish such as tuna.

  • Anchovies
  • Bluefish
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon (wild has more omega-3s than farmed)
  • Sardines
  • Sturgeon
  • Lake trout
  • Tuna


Should you supplement?

  • For heart disease prevention and management, a 500mg combination DHA /EPA from fish oil per day is often recommended. For optimal brain and immune system functioning, 1000mg/day is the preferred dose.
  • Pregnant women and mothers, nursing mothers, young children, and women who might become pregnant should choose supplements over potentially contaminated fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neurodevelopment and may be important for healthy birth weight as well. It is worth noting that supplements made from the body of fish, often called omega-3 fish oil supplements are safe to take in pregnancy. But those made from the liver of fish, such as cod liver oil, are not recommended to take in pregnancy.
  • Note: fish oil has both EPA and DHA. Algae oil has DHA and may be a good option for people who don’t eat fish.