The basics of veganism

 

Definition of Veganism

According to the Vegan society, Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.  In terms of diet, Vegan’s eat a plant based diet, avoiding all animal foods such as  meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey.

What does a vegan diet consist of?

A vegan diet is richly diverse and comprises all kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans and pulses. While vegans have a wide variety of foods to choose from, the diet may seem very restrictive to those who are used to an omnivorous diet. However, many dishes are already vegan or can be easily adjusted. Some examples include bean burritos, veggie burgers, smoothies, nachos with salsa and guacamole, sandwiches and pasta dishes. With many vegan versions of familiar foods available you can still eat your favourite foods such as non-dairy ice-cream, vegan hot dogs, cheese and vegan mayonnaise, to name a few.

Meat based products are generally substituted for meals including the following:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Tempeh
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

However, following a vegan diet as a lifestyle needs knowledge and understanding on how to eat foods to get all needed nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride explains about going on vegan diet and what it does to your body in her research book ‘Vegetarianism Explained: Making an Informed Decision’.

Reasons to go Vegan

  • For ethical reasons – Many find a sense of gratification on a moral level by going vegan. There’s a compassion element to going vegan, as Ethical vegans strongly believe all creatures have the right to life.
  • For health – A few potential health effects include the reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. This could be due to the fact that the consumption of plant based fats provides necessary fatty acids without raising levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Vegan diets are also consistently linked to lower body weight and BMI.
  • For the environment – Some research says that plant-based diets have shown to contribute the least to the greenhouse gas emissions, water wastage, deforestation, and climate change, all of which are side effects of large-scale meat production.

Possible negative side effects:

  • Hunger – because plant based food is considered to be more as cleansing food rather feeding foods. You might experience more hunger than usual, so eating more portions per day would be a possibility.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency – because the only natural sources of Vitamin B-12 are animal foods, vegans are at a higher risk of developing vitamin B-12 deficiency.
  • Low Iron and Zinc – the form of iron in plants is less easily absorbed than that from animal foods.
  • Risk of Osteoporosis – a vegan diet might increase your risk for osteoporosis or low bone density and bone fractures, according to Vanderbilt University Health Psychology Department. Vegans tend to have lower levels of calcium and vitamin D than non-vegans.
  • Muscle loss – animal protein helps to build and contain muscle. Switching to vegan diet can largely decrease your muscle mass.

To know more about vegan diet, speak to one of our fitness professionals at SportsDock.

 

by Aemilia Cooper

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What is the scale telling us?

In this day and age, many people are concerned with the concept of weight. Many see having high weight on the scales or gaining weight as a bad thing, but what if it didn’t have to be.

Getting in shape doesn’t always mean losing weight when looking at a scale. Some people feel disheartened when they start going to the gym or attending exercise classes regularly and get on the scale only to see they are still the same weight. But this does not mean that you aren’t getting results; it’s all about knowing the difference between losing fat and losing weight.

Recently, I have seen posts on social media of people documenting how they managed to stay the same weight whilst achieving a body that they are happy with and this was by working hard to reduce body fat whilst gaining muscle which led to overall body toning. A lot of them also made conscious decisions to stop stepping on the scales and instead use transformation pictures to document their progress. The average scale cannot tell you which percentage of your body weight is fat or muscle and therefore you could be losing fat and gaining muscle and a scale would be unable to tell you that. That’s why transformation pictures are great concept because they allow you to compare your body to previous states and allow you to recognise they physical changes your body has undergone which can help highlight that your progress.

So if your next scale weigh-in has you feeling down, consider using transformation pictures to help minimise the effect the scale has on how you view your progress.

by Beverley Osei-Henewaa

Kettlebell Class

Using a Kettlebells offer a different kind of training. It uses dynamic movements which target strength, agility, balance and cardio endurance and general fitness. The Kettlebell works different muscle groups within a single workout. You take the workout at your own pace and control the weight level so it is perfect for any age and ability. 

The dynamic training of the kettlebell means fast lifts rather than the slow and controlled strength training most of us are used to doing. Dynamic types of exercises get your heart rate up in a whole different way than cardio. In the research by American Council on Exercise found that after 8 weeks of kettlebell exercises, there was a significant improvement in endurance, balance, and core strength. The greatest improvement was in the core where strength increased a whopping 70 percent. 

Benefits of kettlebell training include: 

  • Improved coordination and agility. 
  • Better posture and alignment – Many exercises work the postural muscles in a functional way. 
  • Time efficient – You train multiple fitness components in the same session including cardio, strength, balance, stability, power, and endurance 
  • The exercises are functional and weight bearing which helps increase bone density and keep the body strong for daily tasks. 
  • Increased power development and endurance, which is great for a variety of sports. 
  • Reduced lower back pain 
  • Simplicity – the exercises are simple, the workouts are straightforward and you only need one piece of equipment. 

If you’re interested in getting started with kettlebell training, it’s best to take a class or get some guidance from an experienced instructor to get detailed breakdowns of the exercises. Many of the swinging movements may be unfamiliar and a professional can help with your form and in choosing your weights. 

Why not join our kettlebell classes for free on Wednesday to get started!!

Gym Challenge – Balance Board

How long can you hold your balance? 

Balance boards are used by athletes, elderly individuals and general fitness enthusiasts who are looking to improve their balance and coordination. Including a balance board to your training routine will give you many benefits. Balance boards can be used alongside other strength exercises to maximize workout efforts, placed under a standing desk, or can be used while completing everyday household tasks, such as washing dishes, folding laundry, or simply watching TV. How cool s that? 

How to use a Balance Board   

Set your feet onto the board so that they’re shoulder-width apart with the toes pointed forward. You can also try to control movement of the board, tilting it side-to-side without the edges of the board touching the floor. Make sure you use the board in an area free of obstacles. Once you’re ready to challenge yourself further, try balancing with your eyes closed. 

Health benefits 

  • Strength – using a balance board also increases strength and stability in your core muscles. 
  • Helps prevent injury – increasing your functional strength will reduce the likelihood of suffering from injures or potential falls – especially for seniors. 
  • Aids in rehabilitation – whether you suffer from a sports injury or a work-related injury, anyone can benefit from introducing stability training into their rehab programs. 
  • Improves posture – poor posture is a result of muscle imbalances, excess body weight, sitting for long periods of time or an injury.  
  • Reduces back pain – as previously mentioned, improved core strength can aid in correcting postural issues, but it can also help reduce low-back pain. Using a balance board to increase muscle strength in your abs and oblique’s will help correct back pain due to muscular imbalances. 
  • Improves coordination & body awareness – good coordination is something you need to complete even the most basic everyday tasks. 
  • Keeps you more alert – using a balance board at work will help you power through those mid-work day slumps by keeping you on your toes. 

For more information about using balance board, please speak to our fitness professionals at SportsDock Fitness Centre.

 

  1. Participant can use a wall or a rack to find their starting balance. 
  1. Starting positions is when board is parallel to the floor. 
  1. Once participant lets go wall or rack – the timer is on. 
  1. As soon as they touch a wall/rack or tilt the board and touch the floor – timer stops 
  1. The area should be free of obstacles. 
  1. Longest time wins.

January Gym Challenge: AMRAP

AMRAP, known in the world of CrossFit as ‘As Many Rounds as Possible’. What does that mean? Exactly what is says. For this month’s gym challenge, it’s all about how many rounds of the following circuit you can complete in 8 minutes: 

  • 10 Bodyweight Squats 
  • 10 Push ups 
  • 10 V-sits  

This particular AMRAP workout focuses on strength and endurance using bodyweight only. The exercises focus on lower body (squats), upper body (push ups) and abs (v-sits). In order to complete a round, all reps of each exercise much be completed fully and with correct form is important, especially when fatigue/tiredness beings to set in. The key to being able to complete a higher number of rounds is to not start off too fast. This can cause you to burn out towards the end of your workout and be unable to complete further reps and rounds. Starting with a steady pace that can be maintained throughout is the ideal and pace should be intense enough that you are able to push yourself for the whole 8 minutes. You should try to complete each rep/exercise/round back to back, taking rest only when it is desperately needed. A warm up should be completed prior to participating in this challenge. 

AMRAP workouts have been known to focus on cardiovascular fitness, strength and conditioning and muscular endurance. You will therefore be able to use this workout as a test of fitness to see how you are doing in your training. Or you can create your own by substituting the exercise, number of reps or the time. You can then choose to complete the AMRAP workout in 6 weeks’ time to see how you are further progressing in training. You could also incorporate the workout itself as training and see if the more you complete it, the more rounds you can do in the 8 minutes.  

How many rounds do you think you can complete? Head to the fitness centre to find out and ask one of the Fitness Instructors about the January Gym Challenge.  

 

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Rules 

  1. Only full rounds count. If the time runs out and the person had few reps to finish on V-sits – the round does not count.
  2. If the person does exercises incorrectly – he has to start from the beginning
  3. Exercises done using body only
  4. Squats – technique
  • Stand up straight with your feet at approximately shoulder-width apart. 
  • Keep your feet pointed either straight or angled slightly outward. 
  • Initiate the movement with a fold at the hips by reaching your bum behind you, as if sitting in a chair. 
  • Maintain a mid-foot balance and a lengthened spine as you fold at the hips and bend at the knees – squatting between your legs, not on top of them. 
  • Keep your knees in line with your feet, being careful not to allow them to bow inward. 
  • Lower yourself to 90 degrees angle. 
  • In the bottom position, your hips and knees should be fully flexed, your posture “tall” and feet flat on the ground. Arms reaching forward to help with balance. 
  • To get back up, reverse the motion by contracting your core, glutes, and thighs and driving your feet into the ground with a mid-foot balance while extending your hips until you are back in the standing position. 

 

  1. Pushups – technique 
  • Start by placing your hands underneath your shoulders. 
  • Your legs should extend straight out behind you, so that the balls of your feet are on the ground. You’re now in a high plank position. 

 

  • Keep your core tight and your glutes engaged as you lower down until your chest touches the ground. 
  • Continue to keep your body in a straight line as you push away from the floor and bring your body back up to the starting position. 

 

  1. V-sits– technique  
  • Begin in a seated position with hands and feet on the floor. 
  • Contract your abdominal muscles and core and lift your legs up to a 45-degree angle. 
  • Reach your arms straight forward or reach up toward your shins as you are able. 
  • It’s important to maintain good core posture and a strong spine throughout the movement and to avoid rounding the shoulders forward. 
  • Return to your starting position while continuing to keep your abs engaged and tight. 

Exercise of the Month: Headstand

Headstand might sound scary at first, but don’t run away just yet. Read about the benefits of the headstand first!  

Mostly, when people think about headstand, they think it is a yoga practice. Which partly is true. The science of yoga is extremely beneficial for the mind and body and the knowledge comes from ancient times. Headstand happens to be one of the inversion postures (asanas) in yoga and it is called sirsasana in Sanskrit.  

How to perform a head stand (Sirsasana): 

  1. Kneel on the floor.To create a strong base imagine a triangle on your mat. The top angle should be your head and the two bellow your hands. Another base positioncould be done by interlocking your fingers and placing your forearms on the floor. Keeping elbows shoulder-width apart and rest the crown of your head on the top angle or against the clasped hands.  
  2. 2. Come into an upside-down “V” position. Walk your feetcloser to your elbows, heels raised.
  3. 3. Slowly, uplift your feet off the floor and bring your knees closer to your chest.
  4. 4. Gently straighten your legs and keep them perpendicular to the ground.
  5. 5. Keep your weight evenly balanced on the two forearms and stay in this pose for 15-20 seconds.
  6. 6. After lowering the legs, keep the head lowfor few secondsand slowly raise your body to normal position. 

Benefits 

  1. 1.Calms the Brain:The upside-down position of headstand amplifies the flow of blood to the brain. The freshly-oxygenated blood stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands which calm and rejuvenate the mind.  
  2. 2.Increases focus:When you go upside-down, the blood flow is directed from the feet to the head. This improves mental function and in turn, elevates the focus of the person. 
  3. 3.Therapeutic for a Headache and Migraine:Sirsasana effectively relaxes and strengthens the blood vessels in the brain thereby preventing headaches and migraine. Also, the practice of headstands increases nutrients in the mind that tranquilizes the brain and prevents headaches. 
  4. 4.Strengthens Arms,Shoulders and Core: Sirsasana strengthens the core by improving the upper body strength, and muscle endurance. 

 

  1. 5.Improves Digestion: By performing an inversion, you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on the digestive system that removes stuck material, releases trapped gases, and increases the blood flow to the digestive organs.
  2. 6.Triggers Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system is responsible for the removal of fluids from the tissues and waste products from the blood. When you flip onto your head, you stimulate the lymphatic system and assist in removal of toxins from the body.
  3. Cure for Piles and Varicose Vein:The disease of piles and enlarged veins occur due to the accumulation of the blood within the anus and legs. The sirsasana yoga posture breaks down the blood build-up in the veins and anus and transfers it to other parts of the body while alleviating the problem of piles and varicose veins effectively. 

For advice on practice, please consult with our SportsDock fitness professionals first. Good luck!

Hatha Yoga

The word hatha means wilful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises and sequences of postures, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. 

How often to practice? 

Even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. Don’t let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle—do what you can and don’t worry about it. 

Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Even within the physical practice, yoga is unique because it connects the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. 

Postures to try: 

  • Downward Facing Dog – used in most yoga practices and it stretches and strengthens the entire body. 
  • Plank – teaches to balance on forearms while using the entire body for support. It is a great way to strengthen the abdominals and back muscles. 
  • Tree pose – an awesome standing balance for beginners to work on to gain focus and clarity, and learn to breathe while standing and keeping the body balanced on one foot. 
  • Cobbler pose– strengthens and improves flexibility in the inner thighs, groins and the knees. Helps prepare the hips and groins for meditative seated poses, which require more flexibility in these areas. 
  • Childs pose – everyone needs a good resting pose and Child’s pose is an awesome one not just for beginners but for yoga practitioners of all levels. 

 

Feel free to try our live studio yoga classes at SportsDock: 

  • Monday Detox Yoga at 12.40-13.10 
  • Wednesday Hatha Yoga at 19.30-20.20 
  • Saturday Hatha Yoga at 19.00-19.50 
  • Selection of virtual Wexer classes as a free user choice from 13.45 to 17.00 on weekdays. 

Another fantastic new! SportsDock is starting a Yoga club very soon. If you want to learn more or join the club, speak to our fitness instructors for more information.