Tag Archives: holidays

Fitness Out of the City (and discovering the ‘Fountain of Youth’..)

27 Jul

Earlier in the year went to Nepal to try and get a quick fix of zen and culture but thanks to a hectic schedule it feels like a lifetime ago!! All I am left with is brief indulging moments staring at my photos remembering the fresh (i.e. freezing) mountain air, the hours of stair climbing, the awesome people I met along the way and the daily yoga practice.

There was one particular yoga session that has stayed with me and I have been meaning to explore. Our teacher (complete with shaved head and permanent content smile) took us through a routine a little different from the modern yoga we have become accustom to called the “Five Tibetan Rites”.

I have read about this simple 2,5000 year old routine in the past but to be able to actually practice this deep in the mountains was kind of perfect.

While demonstrating the movements our teacher told us the five Exercises are for Healing, Rejuvenation, and Longevity and have been practiced by Tibetan monks for centuries helping to keep them youthful.

According to author Peter Kelder who penned the book called ‘The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth’ the benefits of the “Five Tibetan Rites” include

  • Slow aging and turning back the clock (goodby Oil Of Olay..)
  • Increase energy
  • Calm the mind
  • Strengthen the body
  • Improve mental clarity and focus
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve strength and flexibility
  • Improve breathing
  • Strengthen lower back core muscles

Performing the five rites with 21 repetitions each will take you from 10 to 20 minutes, and it is best to do it every day to reap the benefits. If the exercises are done less than six days each week, the results will be greatly reduced (meaning no fountain of youth results.)

If you want to see video demonstrations just type it into youtube, but finding one with out bad music may be a challenge.. here is one I have found that takes you through each movement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cI39FzXHou8

First Rite

Stand with your arms stretched out at shoulder level and your palms facing down. Look directly ahead and spin in a clockwise direction. Allow your vision to blur when you spin. Breathe in and out deeply as you spin. Stop if you begin to feel dizzy; increase your number of daily spins up to 21 gradually.

Second Rite

Lie flat on your back, face and palms up. Extend your arms and legs fully. Your palms should be pressed against the floor, with your fingers close together. Keeping your legs together, begin to inhale and simultaneously raise your head and legs of the floor. Keep your knees straight. Lift your legs as high as possible toward your head, then relax and slowly lower your legs and head while exhaling. Perform up to 21 repetitions.

Third Rite

Kneel on the floor with spine erect. Position your hands on the sides of your thighs. Drop your head and neck down to your chest, tucking your chin in. Inhale while raising your head and extend your neck and head backward, arching your spine. Support your weight by pressing your hands against your thighs. Return to the starting position, exhaling as you do so. Repeat up to 21 times.

Fourth Rite

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Your feet should be around shoulder-width apart. Position your hands at the sides of your body, with the palms flat on the ground and fingers pointing forward. Drop your chin toward your chest, begin inhaling and raise your body off the ground, bending your knees as you do so. Your arms should remain straight. Continue to lift your buttocks until your torso and thighs are parallel to the floor. Return to your starting position while exhaling. Repeat the rite up to 21 times.

Fifth Rite

Lie on the floor, with your feet and hands in the same position as if your were to perform pushups. Inhale, while raising your head, supporting your weight with your arms. Only your toes and hands should be touching the floor. Arch your back and tilt your head back as far as possible. While continuing to inhale, raise your hips until your body is in an inverted “V” position. Your legs and back should remain straight. Lower your hips back toward the floor while exhaling. Return to the previous position with your back arched and your head tilted back. Repeat up to 21 times.

So I am not promising you will look 10 years younger but if you do manage to practice this every morning you WILL feel great – it is also perfect for the time poor and less ‘limber’ folks who aren’t ready to face a power yoga class!

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Sweet sweet holidays (and returning home to even sweeter motivation)

14 Apr

Is it weird that one of the things I most look forward to when going on holidays, is returning from holidays?

As strange as that sounds… in the day’s leading up to the departure date I get a little giddy, not because I am about to jet set off to a previously unexplored country (ok yes that is really exciting) but because I feel an inward smile forming as I know that when I return, that ‘reset’ button will have been pressed. You know, the one that deletes any misdemeanor you have had earlier in the year and  is replaced with a sense of new possibilities, where your newly formed motivation to take on the world kicks your (former) weary self in its lazy questioning ass.

It’s true, returning from holidays for me is just like the first day of a new year (possible hangover aside..). My mind is clear and my goals seem so much more achievable. Surely I am not the only one?!

It is importance to keep this feeling alive post holidays (and also to prevent the well documented ‘post holiday blues’). We have covered this point previously (https://fitnessinthecity.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/the-early-bird-really-does-get-the-worm/) but let’s take it a step further and explore something that not all Fitness In The City readers may admit to being in touch with… your inner self. And lets make this ‘inner’ you god dam friken healthy!!

Take a moment and think what you want to achieve? What changes do you need to make for this to happen? Only you know this. Then, lets reassess your health.

Step 1: Tighten up the diet. Yep, you have been on holidays so chances are so was your diet. Was there pancakes’ for breakfast instead of your usual omelets and green tea? I assume so, hey you were on holidays after all so I hope you enjoyed it!

Get back to basics with your eating. Ignore fad diets. Actually ignore anything that features the word ‘diet’ – I prefer ‘lifestyle changes’ – as fad diets have a 95% failure rate, it makes sense to approach your food choices in a practical yet holistic view that can actually be sustained long-term.

Look at reducing as much man made food as possible and increase anything and everything that is from nature – meat/protein options, salad, veges, fruit, seeds and nuts, good oils like avocado.. or think of it as staying away from anything that comes in silver foil! I would encourage you to look into the paleo style of eating.

Once your body is working in harmony by eating correctly, it is amazing how different you feel and function. What food you put into your body (and what you leave out) affects your hormonal response,  in a nutshell.. your hormones are responsible for how you feel, how you handle stress, your energy – everything!! Once you have this step down packed, everything else will slowly fall into place.

Step 2: Consider a cleanse.

This doesn’t have to be with lots of potions and powders (although the structure of a good cleanse can be very helpful to get back on track). Simply eating as per above can do the trick – we need to alkalize the system, cut out alcohol, grains, sugar and coffee for 15 days + and you will feel amazing – those pesky few kg that crept on over the holidays will be gone – eating paleo style also has this benefit of fat loss (without loosing muscle) whether you like it or not!.

Step 3: Move that body, break into a sweat and get that heart rate up – it may have been awhile in between workouts but stick with it. After a week of eating clean (meaning no man made rubbish) you will have more energy to assist with exercise.

Everyone is time poor today so don’t waste yours with hour-long workouts. The key is short duration but high intensity. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is the fastest way to torch fat, build muscle fast, and get fit even faster! This training style shocks your system and body,  and best of all you only need 15 – 20 minute a day. Be sure to include resistant/weight-bearing exercises.

Check out www.crossfit.com and www.facebook.com/fitnessinthecity for workout ideas.

Step 4: Do something you enjoy and often. Sounds lame and obvious, but once you get caught up in working again and stress takes over, this step often gets pushed to the sideline.

Step 5. Plan your next holiday…you have to have something to look forward to next!

Me? I am going to go pack and get ready for my yoga/trek in Nepal. Yes I am excited to go and you know I am excited to get back to that fresh slate!

The early bird really does get the worm

22 Dec

Not to state the obvious but god dam I love holidays – not only do you get to escape the normalities of your everyday life/work/technology and responsibilities, but for 2 whole weeks (if you’re lucky) you unknowingly allow yourself to morph into a better version of you– a more relaxed, fun, stylish, and adventurist (lets be honest – awesome…) version of you.

Just a little extra bit of time up your sleeve automatically transforms you into the you you wish you could be all year long. So this got me thinking, how can I (realistically) keep some of this holiday glow and use even just a little for my everyday life, post holiday bliss?

Waking up at 5am may sound like a bit of an overkill (hey I am still on Sydney time) but this has allowed me to walk my pup along the beach, followed by a run myself, then a short kayak across the river for a tad of exploring – all before 9am.

We then feast on an amazing breakfast of free range farm eggs (the yolk is out of this world yellow) with some avocado, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes with a little bacon.

The rest of the day is filled with playing with my gorgeous nieces, a few swims and lots of reading and cooking for my family.

So what have I summarised as the key to maintaining this feeling?

As hard as it is initially.. the early bird really does get the worm – and then some. You just can’t beat going for a swim or walk in the morning before work to separate the two – no one and I mean no one feels good rolling out of bed straight into the office chair where you sit for the next 8 or so hours.

The next is finding a balance between selfish (hello overdue massage) and selfless acts like cooking a meal for others, which leads me to my last point…eating and preparing clean but tasty meals. Christmas time is about food, it always has been and always will be, though it is now you have to be smart about adapting your favourites into a healthy version.

While most people around me are having crayfish sandwiches on white buttery bread (super tasty I know but since I follow ‘modern paleo’ principles, grains are out) so instead I opt for a fresh and colourful crayfish salad (recipe below) or for sweets I have made almost chocolate balls (with a splash of rum for a Christmas twist) and banana bread (see deserts for the recipes).

Yes, holidays give you the needed time to prepare healthy food at a leisurely pace, which of course can be hard to replicate in a real life. I am all too familiar with the daunting task of creating healthy masterpieces during a busy week, but my using the extra hours in the morning to prepare meals for the day, or dedicate a block of time every Sunday to making holiday glow worthy meals, you will soon see the benefits and reduced stress that meal times can bring.

Happy holidays x

Crayfish Salad

1 cup of baby spinach

Handful of cherry tomatoes

Half an avocado

Slow roasted pumpkin with rosemary

A sprinkle of pine nuts

1 fresh caught crayfish drizzled with lemon juice or vinegar

Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Nutrition Highlights

Crayfish, 3 oz. (84.9g) (cooked, moist heat)
Calories: 70
Protein: 14.2g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 1.02g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Selenium (31.2mcg), and Vitamin B12 (1.83mcg)

In addition, there is a healthy supply of vitamin D and A as well as calcium and potassium, copper and zinc in crayfish. Iodine is also often mentioned as an important ingredient

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