I haven't posted for a while and its just because I've lacked the creativity to write a post. That happens sometimes and that is perfectly okay. However, I pondered and I remembered a while back that I wrote a post about Fitness equipment and gear. That got me thinking about the equipment I mentioned and how I should expand on my knowledge about chest expanders, (haha, get it? Expand). Anyways, carry on reading to hear my knowledge on chest expanding. The original post mentioning chest expanders is linked below if you want to check it out.
Benefits of chest expanding
Although chest expanding is no where near as good for your muscles as a fully equipped gym and lifting weights, I can definitely recommend the exercises and piece of equipment to people who are injured, unable to get to a gym or be fortunate enough to have pieces of equipment. Even if you aren't wanting to gain muscle, chest expanding can be an excellent way of increasing your ability to breath and fully open up your chest (like you would when doing yoga). With a standard chest expander, you can usually add springs to the expander in order to make the resistance tougher. Chest expanding will help to tear your muscles so they can repair and grow, however your rate of muscle growth may only be gradual compared to lifting and working out with weights. Chest expanding will also build strength in your tendons and ligaments. Even if you arent going to purely be using this piece of equipment for working out every day, it is good to have one for whenever you want to warm up or cool down.
Types of chest expanders to purchase
I use the gold's gym chest expander which my coach gave to me, the only link I could find to the exact one was to their amazon page, this is in linked in my other blog post about fitness gear. However, there are other alternatives which you can buy. You can pick up cheap chest expanders from sportdirect.com, but I have not tried them so I am unsure of the quality. Where I do my Olympic Weightlifting, we have some metal chest expanders but I am unsure where my coach bought them from. Personally, the metal expanders are not my forte as they can pinch your skin, trap fingers and rip out your hair! The rubber expanders are a lot safer in my eyes, although sometimes metal chest expanders can provide more resistance. I will link below the chest expander featured from sportdirect.com and the gold's gym metal chest expander. The gold's gym chest expander is not the cheapest metal expander you'll find, however if you've got the money I'd recommend buying one.
Chest expanding exercises
My coach gave me this slip of paper with exercises to do with a chest expander, I have no idea if they're from a book, whether he found them online or if they're his. Its quite old but i've tried my best to demonstrate the exercises shown. One by one (going along sideways) I'll show demonstrations of the diagrams. Please note that exercises 8 and 9 I have not demonstrated solely because I cannot show them correctly. They are both chest expanding exercises for your wrists, however images do not show much difference between the contraction of muscles with the start and finish images .
Chest expanding exercise #1
The first diagram is blurry, however I have managed to show a better demonstration of the exercise. This exercise simply can help with fully breathing through your chest.
Chest expanding exercise #2
Chest expanding exercise #3
I haven't taken a photo for this exercise because I feel that it is very easy to explain. Just like in diagram #1, the chest expander is stretched across the chest as the person completes a situp. When sitting up straight after completing a sit up, the expander is simply stretched. By not having your feet hooked under anything, the exercise can work your abdominals more.
Chest expanding exercise #4
This exercise is once again very simple to do, so I felt it wasn't necessary to have an image. Exercise #4 is very similar to exercise #1. The only difference is that you don't arch your back when stretching the expander, so you are stood upright when it is stretched.
Chest expanding exercise #5
Chest expanding exercise #6
This exercise is very similar to the standard bicep curl, however without the use of weights. This one is good and can either be completed by sitting or standing. Just be careful not to let the expander slip from under your foot, otherwise it could hurt if it hit you.
Chest expanding exercise #7
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it. It took a lot of time editing so many images together! Please note that if exercises have been demonstrated incorrectly, that it is my fault and I would appreciate any correction in the comments below.
Due to injuring my ankle recently (being precise, I have Tendinopathy) I have been unable to complete any exercise involving Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting. However, I have still been Weight Training at home as I didn't want to fall behind by not doing any upper body strength exercises. However, I did want to write a post which compared all three of these different ways to build muscle. Please continue reading this post to find out more!
What is Olympic Weightlifting?
Olympic Weightlifting involves two overhead lifts called the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. The sport uses full body movements which focuses on technique (the way the bar is lifted) and how much is being lifted (usually heavy poundages). The term 'Olympic Weightlifting' is the full name for the sport because it is the type of Weightlifting seen in the Olympic games. Usually, the poundage used for the Snatch isn't as high as the Clean and Jerk amount. If you'd like to know more detail on what these lifts are exactly, please check out this post of mine linked below.
What is Powerlifting?
Powerlifting involves three different exercises called the Back Squat, Bench Press and the Deadlift. If you didn't already know, I'll explain what exactly the three events in Powerlifting are:
Back squat: A normal, full squat which includes a loaded barbell on the back of the lifters neck. When the lifter squats down and rises, their heels are usually flat on the ground and their knees are apart (the knees do not touch together).
Bench press: The bench press involves the lifter lying on a bench, facing upwards so that the bar is above them. It helps if the lifter has their back arched on the bench as then they don't have to lift the bar as far. The loaders will pass the bar to the lifter and will be ready waiting to catch the bar once the lifter has finished the lift (completed one repetition) or incase the lifter cannot lift the weight. The lifter will lift the bar from above their head to their chest and pause for a few seconds before pushing the bar back up above their head.
Deadlift: The Deadlift movement is very much similar to the beginning of both Olympic lifts. The bar starts on the floor and the lifter picks up the bars to above the knees. Once the bar is past the knees, the lifter drives their hips forward and places the bar back down. Lifters can choose to have their grip on the bar as the same as the Olympic Weightlifting grip, however the hands are closer together (both hands facing the same way, palms inwards). But there is another way of lifting the bar by having one palm facing inwards and one palm facing outwards.
The sport uses a range of movements depending on which powerlifting event you're doing. For example, the Back squat would involve full lower body muscle use (glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings etc), whereas the Bench Press is mainly upper body strength. Then the Deadlift uses mainly lower body strength and some arm strength. Powerlifting is not a sport found at the Olympic games, however there are competitions involving the sport. Powerlifting may seen as an alternative for those who cannot Olympic lift. From looking at people I know who are Olympic Weightlifters and Powerlifters (including myself), I have noticed that poundages when Powerlifting are often higher than Weightlifting poundages. This may not be correct for everyone, but it is something that I have noticed.
What is Weight Training?
Weight Training can be seen commonly in gyms (compared to Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting). Many gyms nowadays have features involving Olympic Weightlifting platforms and equipment, however there are some gyms which mainly contain machines and free weights. This can also be the case for Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting clubs not containing any free weights. I would describe Weight Training to be any sort of exercise involving free weights (Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Barbells that aren't being used for Olympic lifts etc). Weight training isn't a sport which has a specific routined technique, although it can be a method of building muscle to help other sports, maybe even Olympic lifting or Powerlifting. Many may class the Bench press exercise from Powerlifting as Weight Training, as it is an exercise which many may do at the gym but not call themselves Powerlifters if they do not partake in the other two strength exercises which Powerlifting involves.
From my knowledge of Weight Training, here are three exercises which many would class as Weight Training and are different to the other sports mentioned in this post. For each of the exercises, I suggest that a slightly heavy weight be chosen (not too heavy) and that the person should complete 8-12 repetitions of the exercise. By completing 8 to 12 repetitions, the person will be building muscular strength rather than their endurance ability.
Dumbbell flyes: Dumbbell flyes involves a person either lying completely flat on their back (on a bench) or slightly upright but still close towards the ground. The person should bring the dumbbells out from beside them, so that they're sticking out their chest. Then, the dumbbells should be brought towards them, so that they're chest is more relaxed and that both dumbbells meet above their body. The movement should almost be as if the person is hugging a barrel as the weight may be too heavy to completely straighten the arms (as they would do if the weight was lighter which could perhaps enable them to complete more repetitions if they wanted to improve their endurance). This exercise will help to build muscles in the chest, shoulders and biceps.
Bicep curls: Bicep curls can be uses with either dumbbells or a barbell. This exercise can also either be completed
using either two arms or one arm when using dumbbells, however if you're using a barbell, two arms should be used. The bicep curl begins with both arms locked with the elbows facing backwards and should finish with the elbows bent so that the weight is near the upper body. This exercise is easy and ideal to build your biceps.
Bent-over rows: This exercise can involve the use of either dumbbells or a barbell. This exercise can be completed using either two arms or one arm when using dumbbells, however if you're using a barbell, two arms should be used. The person will bend their body over, so that they're closer to their knees. Whilst their back is flat, the person's arms begin as locked and slowly bend as the weight or weights are pulled towards the chest. This exercise will help to build muscles in the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps and trapezius. There is a great challenge online to do with bent-over rows, which is interesting to see the technique of others and how many repetitions different people can complete. If you want to check it out, please click on the image next to this paragraph. I recommend checking out the full website for sport-based fun challenges. See how you rank against others around the world! Heres a link to the website below as it wouldn't let me link my profile, if you'd like to check it out I'm registered under thisgirlcanlift. I haven't been registered for very long, however I plan on completing more challenges in the future and hope that perhaps I'll be able to create more blog content from what I learn from completing the challenges.
Thank you for reading this post. Its pretty short but sooner or later I'm going to thoroughly explain the Olympic Weightlifting technique which I proudly use and coach. Firstly, I need to hit the books so I can explain precisely without confusing anyone. Please note that I am no expert surrounding these three sporting areas, however I've had 7 years experience of Olympic Weightlifting and 3 years experience of Powerlifting and Weight Training. This entire post is purely based upon opinions and experiences of my own, so please don't take the information provided to heart if it isn't completely correct.
Eating when you're bored can be very difficult to stop doing as it's a very easy habit to get into. For instance, you're sat on your sofa watching tv. You may feel strange without food in your hand, therefore resulting in you searching your cupboards for any junk food you can find. Then, sitting back down and continuing to grab more food until you're occupied with something else. Its an endless cycle and in order to improve fitness wise, it may be best to get rid of the habit. I often question myself whether I am actually hungry, craving food, thirsty or just bored and procrastinating. Please continue reading to find out more on how to stop eating out of boredom. If you aren't sure what junk food is classed as, please check out this blog post of mine:
Distract yourself with something else
Often the key to stopping yourself from doing something can involve distraction. So if you're struggling to fight the urge to walk in your kitchen and rummage through the cupboards for anything you can devour, why not decide to do something else instead. For instance, I'm sure there are plenty of better things you could be doing rather than eating something unhealthy which you may regret later. If you know you usually eat when you're bored, make a list of some things you can do instead. For example, since its the summer holidays here in Britain, I made a list of things I need to do this summer. Some of them are big, some of them are small, but its something I can focus on when I'm tempted to eat when I'm bored and not hungry. Here is a small list of other tasks you could do rather than eating when you're bored:
I've found that when I'm eating food, it may not necessarily be because I was hungry. Often, you may be thirsty if you find yourself eating for the hell of it. Drinking water is the best thing you can drink when dehydrated and can also help you to stop feeling addicted to eating junk. Water has its benefits too! It can help your skin to improve and make you feel refreshed. I wrote a blog post all about drinking the correct fluids, so heres the link for that if you'd like to give it a read.
Motivate yourself to know what's right
This is something which may work for you, as it works for me. Basically, if you feel the urge to grab some unhealthy snack out of boredom, think about why you're doing so. Is it because you're hungry or bored? Be honest with yourself whether getting food is going to push you a step backwards during your fitness journey. If you've done this before, perhaps learn from the experience and think about whether you felt guilty after you ate the unnecessary food. It may be very tempting and easy to go into your kitchen and scran on whatever you can find, however if you want to make progress, you must resist and overcome the feeling of eating food when you're bored. Why is it that we eat food anyway? because we're hungry and in need of energy, not just because it's there or for an accessory. By changing your mind set and realising that eating junk won't do anything but make you regret it later, you can avoid eating out of boredom. Checking your fridge for food won't help and may just make you feel frustrated and reminded of the food you shouldn't be eating.
Remove the junk food
This is the main factor I changed which helped me stop eating food out of boredom. It can be a bit more difficult if you live in a home with many people, as you may not be able to remove all junk food from your house. However, if you can, throw or give away the junk food in your house. I recommend giving the food that is in good condition to a local food bank or homeless shelter. If you cannot do this, perhaps separate the junk food in your home from the healthy food and have specific place for it in your house. If you think you'll still be tempted, why not put a lock on the cupboard it's in? When I removed all the junk food from my house, I managed to buy healthier and more nutritious food, which really helped me to progress on my fitness journey. You could workout every day, but what you eat is the main part of being fit and healthy.
Tell people not to buy you junk food
People buying you junk food could be seen as nice or appreciative, however if you're trying to improve fitness wise, you may need to tell these people to stop. Many times before, people have bought me junk food when I haven't wanted it but because it was in my house and I viewed it as a gift, I'd still eat it. Although its difficult to decline, food gifts from other people can often cause feelings of guilt if they are left uneaten. To make it simple, I'd straight up tell somebody that you're thankful for the thought, however that you are trying to take care of your body by eating healthy foods. Many people who used to buy junk food for me, now either buy me healthy food (which I appreciate greatly) or only buy me small portions to eat on my cheat day. If you do have a lot of self control and are able to resist the food gifts from others, maybe you can keep them until your cheat day.
Thank you for reading this post, please note that when I am discussing topics on nutrition that I am no where near as experienced as a professional nutritionist. However, these posts are purely my opinions and experiences. In no way, shape or form am I trying to explain that not eating much food is good for you. It is good to eat a variety of food and important to eat portions of healthy food in order to gain muscle mass and lose fat mass.
This is a topic which is quite personal to me and is something which I wouldn't have felt comfortable discussing two years ago. In my 'about' section on this website, I addressed the subject by saying "I can't truly say I’ve been healthy ever since I began lifting as I did end up in a situation where food became an issue for me, but there was a stage in my life where I decided that I wanted to improve my lifestyle and what I was eating. I struggled with an anxiety disorder which had an impact on what I ate for some years, I became underweight and despite my love for exercise I felt completely unmotivated to do anything. I had time off school and spent most of my days having panic attacks, but that’s all behind me now. I got help and began to look at life in a different way. I believe that without this experience I wouldn’t be the person I am today." So here it is, a more in-depth but tricky to write blog post about how exactly my anxiety has improved through my fitness journey. Please note that this topic may be sensitive material for some.
Where it all started
My anxiety disorder first really developed in the year of 2013, when a big change happened in my life. It's something I'm not prepared to broadcast to absolutely anyone in the world. As much as I'd love to, I know I'm a better person and for the sake of others, I'll keep that part of my life to myself and those who already know it. Anyway, my anxiety disorder didn't really surface and impact me daily until 2015. I can remember when suddenly it just clicked and something changed. I was on a train at the time, I felt really different and terribly paranoid. I was already seeing a counsellor at the time, so getting and waiting for help wasn't a problem.
Picture this, I'm 13 years old, thinking about everyones opinions of me, very addicted to my phone and not at all interested in exercising everyday. I occasionally went Weightlifting but began to fall behind and stop for many months as people at my school would humiliate me for saying that I was a Weightlifter. I'm still not entirely sure what that was all about, maybe it was because I didn't 'look the part' or it was just hilarious to draw attention to someone who was doing what they loved and simply wanted to be left alone. So if you're reading this and you know why, then please contact me and let me know. After all, that was what helped me to get stronger and become more determined to succeed. The person I was back then, is not at all who i am today. I would sometimes respond to people who annoyed me or were 'teasing' me, which probably just made things worse. I could make this deep and say that those people caused me to have an anxiety disorder, in fact I could list names and complain. But I won't, because I set high expectations for myself. There were a few more fall outs I had with friends, which of course are going to happen as you don't always keep the same friends in high school forever. By then, my anxiety was just rocketing and I had 4 months off school. I gradually began returning to some of my lessons, but this time was hard as I didn't go out most days and many people required an explanation for my mental health. This I couldn't provide, meaning that some people thought I just wanted to skip school.
Being off school didn't mean that I was able to have fun and do nothing all day. I was constantly living in fear from crowds, seeing people I knew, loud noises, feeling trapped, people in general, text messages, social media, making mistakes and being the centre of attention anywhere. Right now, I cannot recall the last time any of these things caused me so much anxiety that I wouldn't be able to breath or function. However, thats not to say that now and again I'll still feel as if I cannot cope if I cannot escape a situation quickly or with ease. I can truly say that once my anxiety began to improve during the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, that I am incredibly amazed at all I have overcame. The lowest point I reached with my anxiety relating to sports was when I would struggle during Weightlifting competitions and could no longer go out for runs. But, very gradually I began to start Weightlifting, running and genuinely feeling happy again. This next part of this post will explain how fitness helped my anxiety to improve.
My next step
I knew when I departed from my counsellor that although I'd been given ways of coping, that I needed some sort of distraction or hobby to help me have something to do other than occasionally Weightlifting or sitting around all day wondering if my anxious feelings would ever pass. I decided that even if I was going to feel anxious a lot, I should have some activity which would help the feelings to pass and something I could set goals for. This made me realise that in order for my mental health to improve, I needed to put all my effort into Weightlifting and running in order to feel good about myself. I did this and noticed that my anxiety would no longer be there when I could put my passion into the sports. By setting myself targets and noticing improvements, I felt very motivated and felt as if I could do anything! But around this time, I still felt as if there was something missing. Although I was competing again and was constantly running to feel refreshed and calm, I became motivated by The body coach (Joe Wicks) through Alfie Deyes. I'd often spend a lot of my time on YouTube when I wasn't engaging in sports, so a certain video entitled '90 DAY CHALLENGE' really made me feel intrigued. Alfie was doing the 90 day challenge which was created by Joe Wicks, so i decided to try it too. Alfie stopped after a bit, but I continued and even reached past the 90 days. I was working out daily and eating much healthier by planning meals and cutting out junk food. After a while, I didn't even crave junk anymore and could definitely see the progress I had made.The video below is what first inspired me to begin my fitness journey (towards the end).
By exercising daily and organising my workout, healthy eating, Weightlifting and Running schedule, my anxiety improved by miles as I developed a positive attitude and put my heart into my passions. I think that without the determination I had, I may not have returned to being active with a new mindset, resulting in me giving up easily. But when I began the 90 day challenge in August and finished in November, I felt so inspired and proud of myself that I knew I needed to continue putting in the hard work. Hence, why I'm still active now. I realised that although I went through a very difficult situation, that I currently work hard for what I have and love what I do. Once I'd been living my new lifestyle for a year (August 2016), I realised that there was still something missing. Although, I had taken up a new hobby of Irish Dancing in February 2016, I had many creative ideas that I needed to express. I already had created my Instagram account, but I needed somewhere else where I could explain my ideas and help others. December 2016, I created this website and realised that I had found the hobby which would help to inspire myself and others.
Real me, right now
Right now, I would say that a lot has changed about me since 2015. I've became more focused on the important aspects of my life. I currently love myself and my hobbies, unlike back then. I feel that without my fall in life, I may not be where I am today and may look at life differently. Right now, I have plans for the future and each day I feel more and more inspired by many different things and people. I no longer spend my days worrying about what other people think of me, but more about how I'm looking after my body. Thats not to say that I still don't have problems with anxiety sometimes, it isn't very often at all and I have an excellent way of coping with the build up into a panic attack. Usually, I'll completely remove myself from the scene and look outside or distract myself by thinking about something.
Thank you for reading this post, it was slightly difficult to write as I've not really discussed many personal topics about me on this blog. I hope that my experience may inspire those with similar issues to find something big or small which can help them. Whether it is sport related or not, it may be something which could help you on your road to recovery.
I've been thinking about writing a post like this for a while now, since it's summer here in England and in most places (although I believe its just became Winter in Australia!). Even when it isn't hot outside, it is important to stay hydrated as being dehydrated can make you feel awful. I understand there can be problems with people not feeling thirsty or not actually liking the taste of water. This has never been a problem for me as I was never a big fan of fruit juice or squash as a very young child. Please continue reading for my tips on how to drink healthily. Apologies for lack of recent images, I wrote this purely from no plan and didn't have many relevant images to add.
Why staying hydrated is important
For those of you reading who don't have much knowledge on this subject, staying hydrated should be just as big a priority as exercising or planning what you eat when keeping fit. Whether or not you're trying to keep fit, drinking fluids is crucial in order for the bodies muscles, brain, heart and other parts to successfully function. By not drinking fluids, your brain may be unable to function throughout the day. Hence why it is even more important to regularly drink when learning or trying to recall any information. Dehydration can also occur faster when exercising, meaning that you should alway have liquids ready to guzzle near by. If you don't, due to the vast amount of exercise, you could begin to feel fatigued, dizzy or sick. This could stop you from continuing your exercise due to your body being too hot and needing regular fluids.
How to stay hydrated
Staying hydrated isn't always easy for everyone, especially when you aren't used to the amount you should be drinking. Here are my 4 tips on how to stay hydrated:
Drinking large amounts of fluids
Drinking too much water or fluids can often be a problem if you don't know the correct amount you should be drinking. However, there's no need to panic if you're over your limit by a few litres on a hot day. I'm talking about drinking gallons upon gallons of liquids (this is around 25 litres). Drinking too much water can be dangerous as your kidneys can only remove an average of a litre an hour. Many websites provide the amounts of water which should be drank depending on age and weight, however the websites can differ by almost a litre. I recommend tracking how much normally you drink within a week and comparing this to whichever site you wish to use for your example of a fluid intake goal. Personally, I aim to drink between 1500-2000 milliliters of water a day (1.5-2 litres). When attempting to set yourself a new goal with how much you drink, please don't immediately go from drinking less than 500 milliliters to nearly 2 litres! I did this and you may be needing to goto the toilet alot, may have lower abdominal pains, bloat and feel very full. That is why I suggest slowly drinking more each day before you eventually reach your goal or an amount which you're comfortable with. Many people are different and shouldn't feel pressured to drink a specific amount set by online statistics (unless they feel the need to do so).
Drinking the wrong fluids
This is usually the most common problem within people when drinking fluids. Not knowing what is good to drink and what isn't. Lets begin with what isn't good, often drinks containing caffeine and sugar are not going to help with keeping you hydrated (of course these aren't healthy either). Caffeine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure (hence why it helps keep you awake) but the caffeine amounts in energy drinks is an amount which makes drinks unhealthy. In fact, consuming energy drinks before exercise can make you more dehydrated than if you didn't drink anything in the first place. Smoothies and juices can be delicious, but drinking a lot can be awful for your teeth due to the high percentage of sugar from fruit. These drinks are still okay to drink, just not large amounts of them, perhaps viewing them as a treat would be better when setting limits. Personally, I only usually drink water, milk and the occasional treat drink. However, I am on the edge of converting to almond milk as I have heard information about milk which I am not keen on.
Not feeling the urge to drink fluids
I have spoken to many people I know who don't feel the need to drink water or don't feel thirsty. That may simply be the case that they don't drink water unless they're thirsty. However, I'm talking about those people who don't drink any water throughout the day. I've been there and once you get into habits where you don't drink water, it can be hard to get out of them. The only tip I can provide for this is to find a flavour of squash you like (although squash isn't no where near as good as water)to add to water. Perhaps change the percentage of water to squash ratio each week by eventually increasing the amount of water in your cup. Eventually, you may still be able to taste a weak amount of squash, but it could be the closest you'll get to drinking water. Even if you're drinking 1% squash and 99% water, it is better than drinking energy drinks which provide you with no or very little water amounts.
Thank you for reading this rather wordy blog post, I tried my best to explain my concepts of drinking and I understand if there are points which aren't mentioned or explained in detail. Due to the fact that my posts are nowhere near to a nutritionists level, my posts are purely written from personal experience and advice. Please do not use these nutrition posts for strict dietary advice, I suggest you seek a professional if in need of this help as I am merely a child.
Recently due to tearing a ligament in my ankle, I've sadly had to step away from my Olympic Weightlifting schedule and training. On the bright side, this has given me much more of a chance to coach, shadow my coach and understand what it requires to coach children Olympic Weightlifting. Carry on reading to hear tips from a child about coaching younger children.
Getting to know who you're coaching
I think its excellent when coaches know about their kids individually. Its one thing knowing the name of who you're coaching and their performance ability, but it's also great to get to know other things about who you're coaching. For example, learning about any other sports they may be good at, what they want to be when they're older, what their goals are in the sport, what they think about their achievements etc. If a coach knows these things about who they're coaching, this could give them the chance to provide opportunities for the kids. Whilst shadowing over my Weightlifting coach, I have noticed that with new lifters who are beginning to learn the technique, he'll ask them if they do any other sports and perhaps mention how Weightlifting will improve those sports or mention something he knows about the sport.
Let them have fun
This is something that not all coaches will apply when teaching children a sport or skill. It's important to remember that children are still growing and learning from their mistakes, this means most children will want things to be fun and dislike boring activities. There are infact ways to make learning sports fun, rather than coaches repetitively instructing and cramming information into small growing minds for long periods of time. Personally, looking at a coaching situation from a child's eye, it is probably better to teach children when also letting them have fun, in order to let them release energy. However, including games when coaching is great but making sure children are safe in the process is the most important. Some children (because of their age) may not understand the danger of some activities, hence why the coaches should decide when children are to train and when children are to have fun.
Use different methods of coaching
When coaching children, not every child learns the same way. For example, here are some ways a child may learn something:
Changing what you coach
Its important to alternate what you're coaching to children during sessions, but still making sessions relevant to the information you're trying to pass across. For example, if you were trying to teach children how to understand the point system or noticing the technique of others, getting them to score each others lifts would be appropriate but different. I've also encouraged my coach to explore the variation of coaching Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting to the children as this is something which we both feel will help build strength, improve the key positions and even help gain points through the squat. Even if children aren't gaining new personal bests every session, it is still an achievement if a child is taught something which they didn't know about the sport or skill. For more information about the Olympic Weightlifting point system for children under the age of 13, see the link below.
Instructing the group, as a group
When I went on my work experience in March to a gym, I often overlooked individual personal training sessions and fitness group classes. I noticed that when personal trainers were helping their clients, sessions would be a lot more close as the personal trainers were able to guide just the one person. However, in a group fitness class, a person was given help when others were occupied. Meaning that groups were never left standing around or waiting for the class to continue whilst one person caught up. To instruct a person in the group class, quick demonstrations or key words were often repeated or the entire group was reminded again about the issue. This should be the way that groups of children learning a sport or skill should be handled. Sometimes if children are left to their own devices, boredom or distractions can occur. Often instructing individuals in a group can be appropriate if the group are watching the person being put on the spot. For example, if a group of children were to examine one lifter in the group to help recognise competition structure.
Showing strictness with reason
A mistake which shouldn't be made is being too strict when coaching children (or simply being too lenient). Coaches should remember that children are merely growing and trying to grasp new concepts almost daily! Some may take longer than others and some may differ in confidence. But this isn't something which coaches should view as a weakness or simply that children are being naughty. To recognise whether a child is purposely doing something which requires strictness or some rules being enforced, think about the child's age, emotions, capabilities and reason. There may be a significant reason behind the child's actions which could easily be resolved by somebody just taking the time to realise that the child cannot always help what they're doing. Being too strict when coaching could cause a childs behaviour to worsen if they dislike the way they're being treated. By being too lenient when coaching, children could mess about which results in being in a dangerous situation due to feeling the need to gain the attention of the coach. Thats why by explaining and asking the child why they're behaving like that or telling them the benefits of the activity which they may be refusing to do, can help give reasons to the child as to why they should listen to the coach.
Thank you for reading this post. Please note that I am still a child myself when writing this and have some experience when coaching Olympic Weightlifting to children. This post is simply from my eyes and explains my examination of several years worth of coaching. In no way have I gained a coaching certificate yet and simply provide this post to give tips and advice from a child's point of view.
Watching mouths devour the rich, creamy chocolate bar, whilst trying to resist the overpowering feelings of temptation. 'Maybe just one piece' your mind tells you, the urge to eat is getting unbearably stronger. You may be able to relate to this situation, whether you've been living a healthy lifestyle for a while or have just began trying to eat healthy. Whatever your dietary conditions are, you will probably have cravings for unhealthy and healthy food throughout life. I'm not going to write this and lie by saying that it's going to be easy, because sorry it's not always going to be. If you're craving food which you class as healthy, then go eat it! However, if you're craving food which you know is unhealthy and you want to resist the urge to eat the specific food, carry on reading to find out my tips on making the urge to resist cravings easier.
Set yourself an example by sticking to your word
Often if you find yourself in situations where you're the only person in the room who eats healthily, you may feel pressured into eating the foods which you don't want to eat. However,I've found what works for me is remembering any comments I've ever received about how healthy I am and remembering the feelings of joy I experience when I'm able to lift more weights or complete more pullups. By remembering how I felt during these situations, I think to myself how happy I will be if I resist the craving. Some thoughts which usually run through my head when surrounded by others eating unhealthily is 'the people who look up to me because of my self control would not appreciate if I couldn't control myself in such an easy time like this' or 'I have an example to set for myself as there are no other healthy role models here, I should become the rolemodel for myself and others without having to mention to others about what they're eating, as it is their choice after all'. As you can see by the way I typed that, when I'm in challenging positions I'm able to motivate myself easily, but some thoughts may be controversial depending on the food. On the other hand, i've noticed by using this method of encouragement to resist cravings, that I stick to my word and plan of eating healthy which makes me feel happy.
Think about the future
Sometimes when I'm on the edge of deciding whether to eat a specific food, I'll think about how it will impact me. Your future goals should be clear and important to you, therefore if you aren't motivated by where you want to be, perhaps you need to set your goals differently. Don't forget that after you eat something you didn't want to, you may experience feelings of guilt or stupidity. But try not to beat yourself up over it, the majority of people know the feeling when you've let yourself down. It is also good to know what guilt feels like so perhaps you can think to yourself how bad you may feel once you've eaten the food. Maybe you could even try to turn this around and not think badly after you've eaten something you shouldn't have. You could do this by being mentally strong and determined to strive, therefore it is just a part of your learning journey. You could think about the short-term future too, for example how it would benefit you by waiting until the weekend or a specific date when you think it is acceptable to have a 'cheat'. Sometimes when I'm on the edge of deciding whether to eat a specific food, I'll think about how it will impact me.
For example, take a look at the table I made.
Thinking about alternatives
Sometimes the best way of getting over cravings is through distraction, as often people eat when they're bored (which is okay, but not if they're eating unhealthily or eating foods they don't want to eat). Some things which may help to distract yourself if you're tempted to eat something unhealthy are:
I think that a huge part of getting over cravings is developing a positive, determined and self-controlled mindset. You may not be able to live healthily if you're attitude towards everything is going to be weak, negative and acting as if something takes 'effort'. I recommend if you've failed to start eating healthily many times, to start slowly. Write out your goals, what you might crave, what you should eat instead, foods you could perhaps place somewhere else to prevent you from eating them and most importantly how much you want the life you're trying to gain. If you aren't prepared to fight for what you want when trying to eat healthily, then you may find yourself stepping backwards, defeated by your own mind. Don't forget that many people who are high in the fitness industry all had to start from somewhere, I had to start from somewhere, your role model had to start from somewhere. But in order for progress to be made, changes must be made and these changes must not be reversed (no matter how hard it is, as remember your body can conquer anything, it's your brain you have to convince).
You'll have to trust me on this one...
When I first began eating healthier again back in 2015, times were tough when resisting cravings and I remember the feelings of how I was so addicted to unhealthy food. I remember that the first month when I started my plan, I found it incredibly difficult to even go a few hours without some form of junk food. But eventually, every time I resisted a craving, the cravings slowly went away. Bit by bit, I didn't even occur to me when the last time was that i'd eaten a specific food. I mean now and again I definitely had slip ups which resulted in me eating junk, but afterwards I'd step my game up and return back on track. I paid the price of guilt when I ate food I didn't want and I can truly say that I paid it so much that now I don't feel the need to eat junk in the slightest. However, every saturday if I am up for it, I will eat some form of junk. But the cravings for unhealthy food no longer put stress upon me as I only crave foods like fruit, vegetables, chicken (oh no I'm hungry now), cheese and carbs (I am ADDICTED to bread, but as long as I'm happy with my diet then I don't really care). The image attached to this paragraph is me in 2015, the day I began my plan (I never thought I'd still be taking progress pictures 2 years later!). I look so young on the images and my muscles are definitely more tone now, I will eventually post an image of a before and after, however it may be better to post in September when it has been exactly 2 years.
Thanks for reading this post, I hope i've helped as much as I can. But its all up to you now to make those final craving decisions!
Depending on your own personal lifestyle decisions, you may not have cheat days or know what one is. Some people may choose to eat whatever they want whenever they want, eat one cheat a day/week, follow a 'if it fits your macronutrients' lifestyle, or not eat cheats at all. Personally, I choose to have one cheat day a week (a total of 4 or less a month, depending on how I'm feeling and how much I'm exercising). Sometimes I won't allow myself to have a cheat day one week if I feel as if I haven't had a valid excuse not to workout or if I simply do not want one. However, I must admit that some days I'll find myself eating small unhealthy treats in the middle of the week instead of waiting until Saturday. But again, I may choose a different day in the week to have my cheat day. In my eyes, its completely a personally choice! Carry on reading to find out more about what I class as a cheat day, what happens during the day and some unhealthy but addictive cheat foods I enjoy.
What I view a cheat day as
I view a cheat day to be a day which consists of consuming some (not all) food or drink items which may be unhealthy or seen as bad to eat when trying to eat healthy. These food/drink items being consumed may be high in sugar, carbohydrates or saturated fats, this means you should try not to consume large amounts but an enjoyable amount (so don't make yourself feel sick because you've been resisting cravings all week, this is a mistake I made at first). They're usually the items which have long lists of chemical names on the pack of product packages, names which are long and that you're probably unfamiliar with. Although these items are not good to consume regularly, if you're craving something I would say go for it! If you're working hard enough, you should be able to reward yourself and if you view a reward as a cheat food, then go ahead and eat your favourite treat. A cheat day could contain mixtures of unhealthy and healthy items as you don't want to have a sugar crash or eat so much junk that you feel sick. Also, many people may view cheat days differently to me depending on how they eat. For example, someone who doesn't eat carbs in their diet may not eat carbs on their cheat day or may eat many carbs (if that's what they wish to do).
An example of what happens during my cheat days
Here's an example of how my cheat days usually go:
Saturday morning (8:00am - 12:00pm)
Firstly, I'll eat a healthy breakfast which usually consists of fruit with either yogurt, weetabix or porridge. Then, I'll usually go to Irish dance or Weightlifting, if I can't do these things I'll go for a run. During this, I'll usually have a snack (raisins or granola bar) or drink some water (I wont have any cheats in the morning).
Saturday afternoon (12:00pm - 4:00pm)
When I arrive home from the activity I've done, I'll have lunch. This usually consists of some form of fruit and veg, bread, protein (quorn meat) and possibly cheese. Now is when I'd have a small cheat with my lunch, this may be: crisps, a chocolate bar, a small packet of sweets or an ice lolly. A good hour or two after my lunch I'll usually be revising, completing homework, writing a blog post or I'm out with my friends/family. Whilst doing this I'll have three snacks which may be a mixture of unhealthy or healthy treats. An example of unhealthy snacks I may have are: biscuits, cookies, donuts, crisps, energy drinks, chocolate or fizzy sweets. An example of healthy snacks I may have are: fruit, veg, crackers, nuts, seeds, toast or a cereal bar.
Saturday evening (5:00pm - 9:00pm)
Sometimes on a Saturday evening, I may go out for dinner somewhere with my family (but not often), however if we do go out I'll usually eat something similar to the following: A roast dinner, pasta, pizza (minus any sauce or meat, literally cheese and bread), salad or if there's anything else I feel like eating. If we don't eat out somewhere I'll have a pretty standard meal at home usually consisting of vegetables, fish or quorn meat, rice, pasta or bread. After my meal, I'll often have a dessert which may consist of some cake, ice cream or simply sweets/popcorn or pretzels (It varies depending on what I've eaten previously, sometimes I won't even feel like dessert). After this, I'll often chill on my phone, watch a film or tidy my room. Just before I begin my workout for the day, I may eat a small snack which may benefit my workout or can be classed as a 'pre-workout' food.
Saturday night (9:00pm - 12:00am)
Once I've finished my workout, I'll probably shower and perhaps have an apple or a small packet of dried fruit. Then I'll relax, get myself reading for bed, fill in all of the food I've consumed on to my Lifesum app and fill in my bullet journal for the day. I use lifesum to measure my macronutrients and to see if the food I'm eating meet my macros. I'm not strict with fitting in with the numbers but it is very helpful to understand the amounts of fats, carbs and proteins you're eating and is great to track if you're eating too much or too little. For example, from my personal calculations (depending on my weight, height, gender and physical abilities) I limit myself to eat 2,280 calories a day. This adds up to 1140 carb calories, 684 fat calories and 456 protein calories. Here's a link to the Lifesum app/ website, I recommend checking it out:
My favourite cheat foods
Some of my favourite foods to eat on my cheat days are:
Kinder bars - Quite small amounts of chocolate
Double peanut butter magnums - Great dessert when it's hot
Airheads - I took these on my DofE too, taste great
Cookies - Always been a fan, my favourite brand is Nougatelli or Oreos
Cadburys daim chocolate bar - I usually have half or a quarter of a bar
Pringles - Nice, but I can never manage to eat a lot
Caramel galaxy bars - My favourite chocolate bar
Thanks for reading this post. Please note that this is just my personal cheat day and that I encourage you to find what is best for you when wanting to have a cheat day.
Two weeks ago, I went on my practise expedition for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. If you aren't sure what this is, I'll explain now. Basically Duke of Edinburgh is a qualification with three stages (Bronze, Silver and Gold). All of the stages involve a Physical activity being completed, a Skills activity and a Volunteering activity. After these have been completed for the period of time (depending on the stage you're at) an expedition should take place. Many schools or clubs which take part in DofE, may allow a practise expedition in order to help those become familiar with equipment, food and the amount of work before the the real expedition. Carry on reading to find out what I learnt on my practise expedition and my advice/tips for those doing DofE or thinking about doing DofE.
When choosing your physical, skills and volunteering activities, try choosing things which will either be fun, useful, new or something you can improve in. DofE is great to step out of your comfort zone and try something that you might be great at. For my physical I did Olympic Weightlifting, for my skills I wrote blog posts and for my volunteering I helped at a Youth Club. However, for my Silver and Gold I may change some of the activities by perhaps volunteering with elderly people. By doing these activities, I feel that I have became more caring but also able to instruct and organise activities for children. I've also improved greatly in my Weightlifting and blog writing, gaining so many of you reading weekly now! At first I was nervous about my skills and volunteering sections, however I feel happy and proud that I've almost completed my Bronze. Not sure what to choose for your DofE activities? Check out the link below.
Before leaving for your expedition: Clothes
Clothing is important for D of E, but don't worry nothing needs to be really expensive. The most important clothing items I'd say are walking boots, waterproof jacket/ pants and walking socks. Because whatever the weather is, I guarantee you'll want these items to be good quality. I decided to purchase Berghaus waterproof pants/ jacket which included a detachable fleece (as I'm doing my Silver and Gold, I thought it'd be worth it). However, you can find much cheaper waterproof jackets and pants from Go outdoors, Sportsdirect, Cotswold Outdoor and any other sports shops. My waterproof walking boots were by Northwest territory, which I've had for the past 3 years and have still stayed in excellent condition. Depending on the weather when leaving for the expedition, you may want to wear warm thermal layers and leggings which aren't restrictive. But I do advise bringing clothes and accessories which are suitable for all weather conditions (sunglasses, sunhat, gloves, beanie ect.) I also advise bringing a spare pair of shoes with you for when you reach where you're camping, I was relieved to have another pair as I didn't want to get the inside of my tent dirty with my boots.
Before leaving for your expedition: Food
I suggest buying food no more than a week in advance before your expedition. Buying lightweight food which won't go off or smell is the best thing to look for. You'll want to be eating around 3000-3500 calories in order to have enough energy when walking for so long. This means that food which are high in carbs, fat and protein and best to choose. Personally, I felt like I limited the amount of sweets I took with me as I knew as my body wasn't used to high amounts of junk, that it could cause me to feel sick and unfocused (not what you want when you're in the middle of Snowdonia walking for hours). That meant that I took a lot of dried fruit, granola bars, protein bars and nuts. Other than this, I do advise taking a pack of bagels and some cheese spread, as they can easily be eaten. squashed and put into small sandwich bags. With the cheese spread it was easy to walk around with and eat as it was in a tube.
For a real expedition, you must make a three course meal according to the DofE rules. For my starter I took a chicken cupasoup which tasted amazing. Then I had two packets of cheesy Pasta with canned tuna for my main meal, which was nice and warmed me up. For my pudding, I took brownies and ate any left over food which I couldn't keep until the next day. For breakfast, I ate granola bars, quakers porridge drink and weetabix protein drinks. Then for the rest of the day, I snacked on the food I had left.
Before leaving for your expedition: Bag packing
Packing your bag correctly and making sure it is fitted correctly is very important. Whether you have your own bag or have borrowed one from the club/school you're doing DofE with, I advise buying large surgical plasters to go on your hips and shoulders if the bag rubs (or if you're quite boney). This definitely helped me avoid blisters on my body from the bag. If you've purchased a bag, sometimes sports shops can fit them for you. Heres an excellent link if you aren't sure how to fit your bag:
When packing your bag, make sure you pack items which you won't need until you're setting up camp, towards the bottom. Then, you'll want to put food, spare changes of clothing and first aid items towards the top so you don't have to fiddle around looking for important items whilst walking. This photo explains a lot more on how to pack your bag.
During your expedition
Whilst walking on your expedition, make sure you're always careful where you step and that you stick with your friends. Its also great to have someone in your group who's good with directions (that was me) and someone who is calm when mistakes happen. If you don't know who you're going on your expedition with, get to know them beforehand as you'll be trusting these people a lot. Its also great to help other people with their tents or if someone is injured. Me and my friend woke up in the night to help some girls with their tent as it was raining and all their tent pegs wouldn't stay in the ground. But overall, the practise expedition was great and I cannot wait for many more to come! Thanks for reading, I hope this was a useful post.
Personally, I love eating breakfast every morning. I feel physically and mentally weaker when I don't eat. However, this may not be the same for everyone. You may wake up in the morning and never feel hungry until lunchtime. In this post, I'm going to discuss the importance of breakfast, how you can start eating in the morning (if you don't already), what makes a good morning meal and some examples of what I eat for breakfast.
Why is breakfast important?
Breakfast is the first meal you eat in the day, as you are 'breaking your fast''. This means that because you have been asleep for a long amount of time, you haven't eaten. When you're asleep, you lose calories, energy and your blood sugar drops. Therefore, when you first wake up your body will want to restore your energy and blood sugar levels to help you get through the day. Although a teenagers brain isn't scientifically at its best until 10am, you will want to have enough energy to make sure you're as mentally and physically prepared for school as you can be. If you don't eat until lunchtime, you may feel more irritable, sleepy or less productive at the beginning of your day. Breakfast is especially important if you are active first thing in the morning. If you don't eat anything before doing sports in the morning, your body may be weaker and not have as much energy. This could cause you to feel ill and affect your performance.
Struggles with eating breakfast
In primary school, I wouldn't always feel like eating breakfast as I would feel sick in the morning. Other times, I wouldn't have much time to eat before school. These are just two reasons why you may not eat breakfast, there could be many more. I can't remember how I began eating breakfast again, but I do have some good tips now on how to start eating in the morning.
What makes a good breakfast?
Its obvious that some food is better than others for breakfast, but I'm not going to discuss that in this post. However, I will talk about food which I eat for breakfast and what I don't recommend eating first thing in the morning. First of all, if you cannot get hold of healthy breakfast food then simply make the most of what you have and perhaps convince whoever does your shopping that you'd like to try something else. If I'm in a rush, I'll usually grab something quickly like fruit or granola with yoghurt. But usually I'll eat something like protein weetabix, porridge, banana pancakes, acai bowls, toast or some form of egg. Most of these things i'll eat with fruit and sometimes yoghurt. I recommend eating any food which is high in protein, fibre and carbohydrates in the morning but try to avoid sugary cereals, chocolate, sweets and energy drinks. There's no problem in having a small amount of these foods later in the day, but in the morning your body will receive a huge rush of energy which could result in a sugar crash. This would mean you'd feel fatigued and weak, preventing you from working hard and thinking as clearly than if you'd eaten a proper breakfast.
Healthy breakfast examples
Banana pancakes are probably my favourite thing to eat for breakfast and they're especially nice to eat whilst relaxing in the morning sunshine on a weekend. I use two bananas and two eggs (you can use one banana and one egg or other numbers of these ingredients depending on how many pancakes you want). Once I've mixed them together, I simply pour the mixture into a greased frying pan (left to heat on medium). After that, I'll flip them to let them cook on each side before serving them with yoghurt and fruit. Before I'd made these, I had very little confidence and knowledge when using a frying pan but soon began to try making different food after trying this recipe. Its easy, tasty and definitely healthy.
Another example of something easy to make for breakfast is an acai bowl. Now if you aren't sure what an acai bowl is, then let me explain. Acai bowls are commonly made by some health cafe's in America (sadly there are few in England) and health freaks like me. It consists of blended fruit/ frozen fruit, sometimes protein or acai powder and fruit juice or milk. To top it off, you can add more fruit, seeds, raisins, nuts, granola and other toppings. The word Acai is a type of fruit which used to be served with fish in Amazonian countries as a dinner recipe. Eventually the trend passed around to Brazil and now many people create their own around the world. There are some places where you can buy acai bowls, however I have never tried store or cafe bought ones (I will eventually). I don't use Acai berries and I have no clue if this means that what I make isn't a 'Acai bowl' but it still tastes nice. You can use a blender to mix your fruit and liquid together, however I think it's much quicker to use a fork to mash up the fruit you're using. Overall, this breakfast recipe is fun to make, colourful and tastes great.
Thank you for reading this post, writing this has made me hungry for some pancakes! Want more breakfast ideas? Why not check out my Instagram?
A 17 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.