The Mediterranean Diet

mediterranean dietThe Mediterranean diet has been around for decades; however, only recently has it received much publicity and rave reviews. It is thought of as much more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle change in your eating habits, improving your metabolism and reducing any hunger cravings. It is based on the dietary patterns of the people of southern Italy, Crete, Greece and Spain from the 1960’s, which feature an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and fish. It also emphasises the importance of exercising and including this as a regular part of your daily routine.

People who adhere to such a lifestyle can have a 70% longer life expectancy and an 80% better quality of life. Therefore this diet is not specifically for those wanting to lose weight, but can also be used by those wanting a healthier lifestyle. It is believed that this eating style can help to prevent many diseases and conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, unstable insulin levels, asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancers. A main point of this diet is that it strongly encourages you to not smoke, and for the most part people follow this rule and it’s better for their health.

Now let’s get into the diet itself: it is considered low in saturated fats (bad fats like red meat), and high in monounsaturated fats (good fats like olive oil), and fibre. It is broken down into proteins comprising 20%, fats 35% and carbohydrates 45% of your daily meals. The overall breakdown of the diet is:

  • A high consumption of olive oil
  • A high intake of fruits/vegetables/ legumes
  • Non-refined carbohydrates (no processed products)
  • Fish 3-4 times a week
  • A moderate amount of milk/ cheese/ yoghurts (low fat variety)
  • 3-4 eggs a week
  • Low consumption of red meat
  • 1-2 glasses of wine, preferably red, a day
  • Nuts as a snack
  • Honey as a sweetener (instead of sugar)
  • 6 glasses of water a day

The are many protein options including fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, yoghurts and very little red meat in this diet. Although the traditional Mediterranean diet provides 40% of your total daily calories from fat, it is via monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, which is a good source of antioxidants and omega 3, and is cholesterol free. It is important to remember that if you are trying to lose weight you will need to watch your intake of olive oil due to its high caloric value.

The final major component of this diet is the inclusion of daily exercise, at least 30 minutes. Not only will this help you achieve any weight loss goals faster, it will improve your cardiovascular fitness and leave you feeling fitter, stronger and healthier. The overall health effects of this diet are credited to the small portions, regular exercise and the emphasis on fresh foods.



What’s that painful feeling in your ribs?

woman running with stitchSometimes when you’re running along a sharp pain can develop and often causes you to stop exercising (good excuse to tell your trainer that you can no longer keep running). This is known as a ‘stitch’ which is a sharp pain felt in your side just under your ribs. Although it is not clear what the cause of a stitch is, it is thought that breathing has a lot to do with it.

The diaphragm and intercostal muscles (located between the ribs) are involved in the breathing process and can become tight and not function properly if there is a lack of oxygen. So the sharp pain you are feeling in between your ribs are perhaps a result of inadequate oxygen delivery to the muscles that are involved in breathing.

So how do we treat a stitch? Most of the time, stitches occur on the right side of the body. When the side stitch is on the right side, try to exhale when you’re left foot lands. Also try and drop the intensity slightly and hopefully it will settle after a few minutes. Another recommendation is breathing through pursed lips is to ease the pain, but stopping your exercise activity is sometimes the only solution. If you stop exercise the pain will usually stop in a few minutes with no harm done.

Now that we have treated them, how do we prevent them?

Here are some ways:

  • Improve fitness
  • Strengthen the diaphragm by using exercises such as those that aid respiratory rehabilitation
  • Strengthen core muscles (abdominalslower back, obliques)
  • Limit consumption of food and drink two to three hours before exercising (in particular, drinks of high carbohydrate content and osmolarity (reconstituted fruit juices))
  • Drink water beforehand to prevent muscle cramps
  • Warm up properly
  • Gradually increase exercise intensity when running
  • Run on soft surfaces
  • Deep breathing with full exhalation
  • Slow the pace of the exercise.



Lazy Sunday Keeping Cool

Good morning, it would seem that summer has finally arrived with sweltering temperatures predicted for today so todays lazy sunday post is all about keeping cool and trying to escape the heat with a few of my favourite ways to keep cool.

Go to the beach – One of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer day is to head down to the beach and have a long splash around in the water to keep cool. But if you plan to do this make sure you slip, slop, slap. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to head down early to avoid getting stuck in traffic when everyone suddenly gets the same idea.

Watch a movie – A great way to spend a few hours in the cool is to check out a movie at the cinema. you can watch a movie in air conditioned comfort and it wont run up the power bill at home.

Ice Skating – The docklands ice skating centre is a sure way to keep cool especially if you havent skated much before as I’m sure you will end up spending a lot of time laying down on the ice.

Just a few suggestions to keep your body temperature down in the heat. if you can think of any other great ways to cool off we would love to hear them.

Have a great day and remember to keep hydrated & slip, slop, slap if your going to be in the sun.

View image at original source: http://bit.ly/fced6W



Do Powerbands and Powerbalance bands really work?

Do powerbands really work?The latest craze in the sport and fitness industry… Powerbands!

These days they are in every sports store and most athletes are wearing them. So how does a rubber band make you stronger and increase your balance? The answer is very simple… magic tricks from a sales person!

When a sales person is trying to sell you a power band they will get you to do a balance test. The test involves standing on one leg with your arms out and someone pushing down on your arm. The test is done first without the powerband and then repeated while you are wearing the band. Miraculously you will be able to balance better with the magic device known as the powerband!

Funnily enough this increased balance is not magic energy running through your body but a simple trick. During the first part of the test the sales person will push slightly out and away from the centre of gravity, hence the subject will fall quite easily. Now give the subject the magic device and push down towards the person’s centre of gravity they will then be able to balance much better. Also they will push down harder on the second part of the test which looks quite impressive to the on looker however it is actually causing an advantage. The harder you press down the more anchored the body is to the ground, therefore they are able to balance better.

Another reason for the increased performance can be put down to The Hawthorne effect. This has nothing to do with Big Buddy Franklin however.

The Hawthorne effect is a form of reactivity whereby subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior being experimentally measured simply in response to the fact that they are being studied, not in response to any particular experimental manipulation.  In short, you learn how to manipulate the test.

So there you have it, save your $60 for something else that actually works! Although I believe they do look cool, so it might be worth getting the cheaper version and look fashionable, or go with a fundraising version. At least they are not posing as something they are not and the money is going to a good cause.

Bargain Power Balance Powerband

Or if the placebo effect of you believing they are helping you out and there for they are works for you keep wearing them! Who are we to tell you that’s not good enough! What ever gives you the belief to perform at your best stick to it.

If you liked this post don’t forget to keep checking back for Kiara’s Tuesday posts.

Kiara’s posts will be up each Tuesday morning so check back weekly.

Thought I would update this post with a funny photo I took on Friday night… It seems if you are in the market for a Power Balance Power Band and you have been able to wait it out this long you’ve done well.  Looks like you will be able to pick up one of these beauties for a bargain $4.99.  Interesting considering they were at around the $60 mark before they were shown to be ineffective. – Luke Scott

OK – I decided that given that a picture is worth a thousand words… Ah you’ll get the drift.

I would love some more examples of how far these things got… Please post more photos!



Exercise Myth Busters #43

I shouldn’t eat between meals

In fact the opposite is true, eating a small, healthy snack between meals will help keep your blood sugar at an even level meaning you will feel more energetic and prepared to face the rest of your day. It will also sustain your metabolism so any food you consume is digested and processed faster. Eating regular meals will help control your appetite whilst also reducing the likelihood of over-eating at your next meal.

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How Can Exercise Reduces Stress?

How can exercise reduce stress

In today’s society we try to fit so much in which leads to a busy and hectic life. Between work and family there is often a reasonable amount of stress that we need to deal with in our day to day lives. The stress begins to build and often there is no outlet for it, therefore, we carry it with us creating emotional and physical problems.

As you know, (because it has hopefully been drummed into you by now) there are many physical benefits of exercise – exercise reduces obesity, reduces the risk of heart disease and increases the longevity of life. But did you know that exercise is a great way to reduce stress. So how does exercise help reduce stress?

Exercise is a very effective stress management technique because it provides an outlet for negative emotions such as worry, irritability, depression, hostility, anger, frustration, and anxiety. You can dissipate these feelings by simply taking it out on the tennis court, by running, or punching a bag.

Exercise reduces stress in a number of different ways:

Exercise relaxes muscles. Have you ever felt ‘uptight’ when stressed? Well A typical symptom of stress is muscle tension. Exercise can help the muscles to use the pent up energy and is effective in releasing muscle tension before it can result in muscle pain or spasms. A good example t relieve muscle tension is a yoga class.

Utilizes the stress hormones. A number of hormones are secreted into the blood stream when stressed. These hormones if not used up these can lead to feelings such as irritability which can eventually lead to a number of stress related illnesses. Exercising can help you to use some of the stress hormones that can accumulate in the body in response to stress. An example exercise for releasing stress hormones is boxing (also a great way to punch your trainer for making you work too hard).

Exercise gives you a feeling of happiness. Exercise also releases endorphins into the body, which give your body a natural boost of happiness and positive well being. They usually peak about one hour after exercise. An example of a good exercise which gives you the feeling of positive well being is a long run or cycle.

Exercise can reduce pent up frustration. Stress can lead to higher levels of pent up frustration. Exercise can help to reduce this pent up frustration.

Exercise can take your mind off your problems. Exercise can help to take your mind off your problems. How often have you been stressed after a hard day’s work or worrying about paying a bill, only to have it all wash away as you take in a change of scene, kicking a ball, or running in a beautiful park.

Improve your resiliency to stress. Exercise can also improve your resilience to stress. Research shows that those who exercise are more likely to have less of a stress reaction to adverse situations. Fit people are more likely to handle the effects of stress and are less likely to ‘burn out’.

Now that we now how exercise reduces stress lets all go for a run and relax!