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Adapting to change

I want to know how you will be dealing with this next change that is upon us. We have adapted positively over the last year but, as the biggest change so far in this pandemic is implemented, how will you continue your relationship with exercise? 

I find myself on the train to London to head back to the office for the first time in over a year. 

At the beginning of lockdown, Humans of HIIT helped me and you with a new routine that made us feel better about the new working from home rule and all new restrictions that came with it. It has been reassuring to see followers having the same feelings towards the ‘new normal’. 

But, I now find myself in some kind of uncertainty. We have used exercise to help our wellbeing and workplaces have been very flexible when it has come to working from home hours. People have benefitted more than ever from the sudden shift. The ability to exercise, spend more time with children and use commuting time for something more productive has been a blessing. 

I want to reach out to you guys because as I make my way to the office, I’m thinking how am I going to balance exercise with this new change? Yes, I can go back to exercising before and after work, but it has been great to have had more flexibility to do this when I felt up to it. 

There are companies who have used the pandemic to rethink their working environments and listened to staff members to see what will be beneficial to them, which I think is a positive step forward. 

Written by Caroline Jones

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What are Fats?

I hope you enjoyed and took something away from the previous blog on carbohydrates, here is number 2 of 3 and today we are going to be talking about fats. We will be covering the different types & their benefits; as well as debunking the myth that fats make you fat.

Let’s start with the different types of fats, we have 3 types; unsaturated, saturated and trans fats. As touched on previously in the last blog, everything in moderation is absolutely fine, however as always there are some better options nutritionally and that is the same here with fats.

Unsaturated:

You will often see unsaturated fats labelled as the “healthy” fats & that is because they have many benefits within the body such as improving cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation & helping to protect against cardiovascular diseases. Most of the unsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature, so think of your cooking oils (olive, sunflower) but are also found in nuts and seeds. There are two types of unsaturated, monounsaturated & polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated can be found within olive oils, avocados and many different types of nuts. Polyunsaturated are not made within your body, so these need to be consumed through diet, these are your omega 3 & 6 fatty acids so are most commonly found fish such as salmon or sardines.

Saturated:

Saturated fats tend to be most commonly found in meat and dairy products such as the fatty parts of red meat, butter, creams and also in coconut oil. Whilst it is not confirmed that saturated fats lead to a higher risk of heart disease, it is recommended that you limit these and try to incorporate more unsaturated fats.

Trans:

Trans fats are formed from a process called hydrogenation, which is the heating of liquid vegetable oils in the presence of a hydrogen gas and a catalyst. These can be reheated many times without losing form and this is why they are ideal for cooking fast foods. If there are any types of fats you wanted to avoid then these are them as they have no health benefits and can contribute to heart disease and inflammatory issues.

Now we have a better understanding of the different types of fats, it is time to debunk the myth that eating fats will make you fat. Fat does contain more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates at 9kcal per gram but this does not mean it will automatically make you gain weight. You would also gain weight from overeating foods high in carbohydrates or protein. Weight loss/gain all boils down to an energy deficit/surplus, so essentially how many calories you are consuming. So, as long as you are consuming less or equal to the calories your body needs, you won’t gain weight even if you do eat a lot of foods containing fat. Nuts & seeds are a great source of healthy fats, however it can be very easy to eat 4-500 calories of these without even realising. A handful of nuts can sometimes easily amount to 200 calories as they are more calorific than other foods, so just be aware of portion sizes when consuming.

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What are Macronutrients and Carbohydrates?

My name is Lee, I am a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist and the newest member of the Humans of HIIT family. Welcome to the first of three short blogs giving you an insight into the three different macronutrients. 

Firstly, macronutrients are the nutrients the body uses in the largest amount & they consist of Carbohydrates, Proteins & Fats. These can then be broken down into micronutrients but that is a topic for another day! 

Today we are going to delve into carbohydrates and debunk the myth that they are the devil of the dieting world. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and consist of free sugars, starchy carbs and fibre. For this reason, they play a massive part in our day to day functioning & without them you are likely to feel lethargic and unmotivated. A diet without carbohydrates is known as Ketogenic and whilst a very very small percentage of people follow this, I would argue that it is not sustainable for 99% of the population. Sustainability is the absolute key when it comes to nutrition. When you are looking at changing your eating habits, you should be thinking about whether you will still be able to maintain this 6 months or a year down the line, as opposed to a drastic change that only lasts a few weeks and results in the rebound effect. Small consistent changes will yield fantastic results. 

Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram and can essentially be broken down into 3 categories, simple, complex and fibrous. When we consume carbohydrates they are broken down into Glucose. 

Simple Carbohydrates
These will be digested by the body very quickly and will provide a quicker release of energy. If your diet is mainly made up of simple sugars you may find that you feel very tired and lethargic as these will cause a fast spike in your blood sugar levels rather than releasing the energy slowly over a longer period of time. An example of these would be sweets, honey, desserts and fruit juices. 

Complex Carbohydrates
Complex or starchy carbohydrates will be digested a lot slower by the body therefore providing a more gradual spike in blood sugar levels. These will leave you feeling fuller for much longer and will provide a longer intake of energy. Pasta, rice, potatoes and oats will all fall into this bracket of carbohydrates.

Fibre
Fibre is the part of carbs that we cannot digest and instead travels through the body undigested and is then broken down by the gut bacteria.  Fibre is a crucial component of our diets and can help protect against many diseases and help improve gut health. Fibre can be found in a lot of foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and nuts. 

Carbohydrates are certainly not going to make you gain weight, in fact they contain the same amount of calorie per gram as protein, and 5 calories less per gram than fat! Your body will have a maintenance amount of calories that it requires and if you consume more or less than this it will result in fat gain/loss. 

Whilst you should certainly monitor the amount of simple carbohydrates you are consuming as they normally provide little to no nutritional value, you should not be cutting them out completely as a restrictive diet is not one you are going to be able to sustain long term. Plus, sweet treats are something that we all love to enjoy once in a while! 

This is a basic insight into carbohydrates and the takeaway message from this blog is to enjoy everything within moderation & have a look at how your nutrition could support you in reaching your goals.

Recipe time
A short & sweet breakfast idea! This is the ideal breakfast if you constantly find you are pushed for time in the mornings. Prepare the night before in less than 5 minutes & then ready to grab from the fridge in morning and enjoy whilst on your long commute from the kitchen to the living room office! 

Ingredients:

Jumbo rolled oats – 60g (scale to suit your goals)
Milk of your choice (I use almond) – 200ml
Frozen mixed fruits – 100g
Protein powder (optional) – 30g
Chia seeds – 5g

Nutritional breakdown without protein powder:

308kcal
44g carbs
9g fats
9g protein

Nutritional breakdown with protein powder:

426kcal
46g carbs
11g fats
34g protein

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Listen to Your Body

Listen to your body – Part 2 of our Pilates journey with a member of our community.

I managed a few in house classes before we were hit by another lockdown. I didn’t want this to be a step back and it’s thanks to social media I’ve been able to continue with Pilates. 

I came across ALM Pilates on Instagram. I messaged Anthony, the fitness instructor for more details. Anthony informed me of the range of classes available (beginner, intermediate level etc) and mentioned he does fitness workouts as well, all via Zoom. 

Unlike the in-person classes, I wasn’t nervous at the thought of joining Zoom with people I’ve never met. I chose to take up the beginner classes, taking place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s. I was added to a WhatsApp group where Zoom links are shared. 

Although I’ve never met Anthony, I felt included in the class straightaway. His Zoom is spotlighted so there are no distractions. An important part for me about this is it lets me completely concentrate as I have nobody to compare with. 

After the first class, I signed up because I knew I’d benefit from the classes. Also, I’ve struggled with working from home so having Pilates included in the routine has helped me so much. 

Positioning is key

The class begins with positioning. I’ve been taking part in classes since October 2020, but this never fails to amaze me. Before now, I’ve never thought about how important the positioning of your arms, shoulders, neck, chin and PELVIS is. 

‘Pay attention to the pelvis’ ‘Has your pelvis moved?’ ‘Connect to the powerhouse’ 

Trust me, it makes a huge difference to exercises. 

Exercises 

As I’ve mentioned before, running makes me stiff and I really notice this during Pilates. Anthony is very good at clocking positions. Often, my shoulders are by my ears or neck pushed forwards. Straightaway, this is clocked and by simply dropping the shoulders and pulling my neck back, I can see an improvement. 

Also, after each exercise, we are asked to either hug our knees or stretch forward to provide relief. Anthony openly says, do whatever stretch you feel the body needs. It is your body. I think this is really important, even moving away from Pilates because it is important to listen to your body. 

More beneficial than an in-person class

Although we’re not in the class, it feels a lot like having a personal trainer in your living room…

Take the spine twist with saw movement. I’m going to be honest; I hate this exercise as I feel it challenges my shoulders and neck and struggle to keep my arms up. Again, Anthony clocks that I’m not twisting well and asks me to go back to the beginning. He tells me to straighten my back, put the crown of my head up to the ceiling with my neck and shoulders away from each other and gets me to twist. 

‘Keep twisting’ he says. I do feel better once my positioning is correct. For me, I think because I know it feels tight, I stop but in reality, keeping going is the best. I say I hate it, but my point is, even though instructors are not there in-person, it is good to know incorrect positions are still picked up. 

This goes back to what I’ve said previously that one of the reasons I’ve picked up Pilates is because I know the home workouts I was following were doing more harm than good. There is nobody telling you about positioning and also I’d probably always skip the exercises I found hard instead of giving them a go. 

Educational

I love the educational side of the classes too. There’s often a historical background of Joseph Pilates and how gravity wants to pull legs/arms down but there needs to be resistance to ensure strength can increase.

What I also like about the classes is that I never know what type they are going to be until the Zoom code is shared. 

‘You’ll need a chair’ / ‘You’ll need two tins’ 

Who needs gym equipment?! The chair ones are tough. Often, I run before Pilates so the chair move involves being on your tiptoes, half up and down and pulsing, that really burns. Also, the squats on my tip toes and pulsing it out is a killer. I’m yet to complete all reps of this but I’m slowly getting there. 

What I find interesting is the difference I feel when classes are either fast or slow paced. The slow paced class is where I notice my stiffness whereas during the high energic classes, I go with the flow and don’t think about moving to each exercise as much. The faster paced classes are my favourite, but it is still good to get the technicality of the moves correct during the slow classes. 

Two exercises I struggle with are the crab and teaser. I’m unable to get the balance or the strength to come back to my tailbone. Again, Anthony is aware of everybody’s level and never points out or puts pressure on people. He reiterates that we are all at different stages and we will improve and master eventually. Anthony also knows about any injuries and adapts exercises to suit the person. It’s great that nobody is being judged and you still feel you can join in.

Meditation 

We end the class with light meditation, enabling us to focus on breathing. What is really good for me is we are told when a thought enters our mind, to hold it there for a second and say ‘thinking’ before letting it leave. This sets me up for the day and is really good for my mind. 

Overall 

I am glad I’ve come across ALM Pilates so I’m able to progress with Pilates. Anthony is a great and calm teacher. I enjoy that I’m learning too. It is interesting to get the reasoning behind the importance of posture and why Pilates became a form of exercise. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’ll have to go back into the office again. I hope there is flexibility so there is opportunity for people to continue to have the balance of exercise and work. It’s great for the mind.

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This Girl Can Write

Did you see our first collaboration with Active Suffolk and their This Girl Can ambassadors?

Humans of HIIT was born as result of the pandemic. Motivation was low and routine non-existent. Humans of HIIT brings the motivation to be active through your inspirational stories and are pleased to have This Girl Can ambassadors involved. Collaborating with an organisation with similar values is a great way to inspire more of our community to participate in physical activity.

Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign aims to inspire women to take part in physical activity without the fear of judgement. Humans of HIIT want to encourage you to talk about health and wellbeing through inspirational stories and this is exactly what the This Girl Can ambassadors portray. There are currently 70 ambassadors who have each overcome barriers by doing physical activity and sport. If you are struggling with motivation, this collaboration will give you that much needed boost.

Between 3-9 August, Humans of HIIT shared inspirational stories from the ambassadors. Just like the Humans of HIIT community, the ambassadors highlight the positive impact physical activity has had on them.

This campaign has been particularly important during lockdown because research suggests women are not meeting the 150 minutes of moderate activity over five days. This Girl Can ambassador, Angela Soames felt she could no longer fit everything in. You are probably feeling the same and we hope the stories will inspire you to undertake activities. If you are not sure where to begin, the Humans of HIIT community have regular workouts for you to follow in your own time. No matter your ability, there is an activity out there for you.

The Campaign also celebrates how Ambassadors like Charlotte have overcome barriers relating to mental health. Charlotte opens up about how her fitness levels dropped as she suffered with PTSD but is now walking and horse riding again and like Humans of HIIT, wants to inspire others to overcome barriers.

We hope the stories will encourage you to look at ways to include physical activity into your ‘new normal’ and show you are not alone. We are only human and our stories are from real people who open up about their health and wellbeing and how physical activity has helped them. We want to be an open and honest community to positively help one another.

Check out the full Campaign here! (https://www.activesuffolk.org/news/2020/08/this-girl-can-ambassadors-from-suffolk-share-inspirational-stories-as-part-of-an-exciting-new-collaboration)

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Why I picked up a Pilates in the middle of a global pandemic…

A blog written by a member of the Humans of HIIT community.

A 3km run a couple of times a week was always enough for me. Then, routine faded away.

But, exercise soon became my routine and coping mechanism. 

With all this free time we’ve had, many of us turned to new hobbies. For me, this time has been used to increase running distance and improve pace. Running has always been my way to switch off and having to unexpectedly move away from London during lockdown, focusing on new goals has been a great escapism. 

Perhaps I did push myself too quick, but straightaway I was running 5km five days a week. As a result of (and the sofa working from home setup I have going on), my body became stiff and was a barrier to further development. My solution was following a stretching video, albeit most likely incorrectly. 

‘We’re back, fancy giving it a go?’ 

Those words caught my eye on my usual scrolling through social media. This was an advertisement for a local Reformer Pilates class. Intrigued by this, I tagged my friend. 

‘I can book you in for a trial if you want?’ 

I thought why not. After a straightforward message providing the instructor with email addresses, my friend and I were booked in.  

A few days before the class, the instructor shared ‘Strong Reformer’ and ‘Cardio Reformer’ Pilates videos. This made me nervous because I hoped the class wouldn’t be full of strong people, making it obvious I was a beginner. My nerves were soon settled after talking it through with my friend. 

The trial day…

My morning run wasn’t the best. BUT! I remembered I had the class in the evening. This is the first time I looked forward to it. I met with my friend a couple of hours before to have a light bite. We weren’t sure where the studio was so meeting in plenty of time was good to be able to suss this out. 

When we arrived, there was a class finishing up. Straightaway, the instructor and other people in the class welcomed us. We were asked to sign a consent form outlining potential risks and advised to declare relevant medical history. 

On top of the nerves of trying something new, there is the added risk of Covid-19. All the safety precautions were in place and machines were cleaned prior to use. 

We were assigned a machine and the instructor spent time going through how to change weights. The instructor told us not to worry if we got stuck. Each exercise required a different weight. If we felt this was too much, there was no pressure to stick at a lower weight. Exercises were aimed at legs, arms, glute muscles, shoulders, abs etc. 

Most exercises were repeated on both sides. Quite early on in the class, I noticed I was weak when exercises involved my right side. This was picked up by the instructor who explained our bodies have stronger sides and Pilates aim to balance this. I didn’t know our bodies had a weaker side and thought to myself, whilst I’ve come to strengthen my body, I could also learn about my body too. My weight was reduced and was reassured this will improve.  

45 minutes of exercises was followed by a 15 minute warm down consisting of leg and arm stretches to remove stiffness. I felt relief, especially in my upper body as I tense my shoulders when running. 

For me, I learn best visually which I think is why I enjoyed the class so much. The instructor showed us how to do every exercise. As I said before, I was probably doing the home stretching videos incorrectly; the instructor told me if there were any exercises I was doing wrong. 

I often compare myself to others and found I did in this class. This is something I need to work on and have to remember everyone starts somewhere and others would have been in my position at some point. 

Pretty much from the start of the class, I knew I wanted to continue. After the trial, I approached the instructor to ask about class times and payment. The instructor explained there is an app advertising classes and you can pay via your phone. My friend and I have signed up for two further classes and I’ve signed up for a class on my own. I knew I’d be fine once I had sussed it out. 

I feel great and I know it will help build my strength and improve my posture. I’ll report back to you in about a month on my progress with Pilates and to see if I notice a difference in my running.

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Something New

Humans of HIIT Founder Alex here and I’m trying something new! 

Am I good enough? Will I be taken seriously? Will I fail? 

The usual questions I  have used in a professional setting to  understand the barriers to sport participation and to develop techniques to motivate others to be active. From managing participation programmes to challenging myself ‘on the field’, I have always thought of myself as confident in the world of sport. 

Now, the unknown feeling of my new venture makes me feel anxious. It’s been a long time since I have felt this way and for the first time, I am asking myself these questions. If anything, I can now relate even more to those who are scared. 

I believe in my ability and passion for helping people get into sport or starting a fitness journey but, there has been one factor that has made this possible, SUPPORT.

From my amazing friends, family, fiancé and YOU, the Humans of HIIT community. 

This is what this movement is all about. Supporting others to be active. We share stories, have fun, start healthy conversations and give people the support they need to start an activity. 

So why create a blog? As Humans of HIIT rapidly evolves, I want the community to be at the core so I will be updating you every step of the way. Also, I want to share cool things from within the world of physical activity and working out. 

 

What is coming up? 

The podcast and collaborative story partnerships are well under way! Currently, we are finalising the podcast graphics and then they’ll be ready for release! Our guests are being kept top secret because our big reveal is going to be awesome. 

We are currently working on a new campaign with @Vybe365 and I can’t wait for this to be shared in the near future. 

 

Want to feel inspired? 

A cool clip I want to share with you is from the BBC and Madu Mmesoma Anthony, an inspirational 11 year old ballet dancer. He demonstrates there are no barriers when you are doing something you love. There are also lessons to be learnt from his mother’s supportive words at the end.

Check it out! 

 

A Recommendation

I’ve got to say, I turned my nose up when I heard Primark were doing fitness bits but I’ve got to say, this skipping rope is really good! For £3 you get a very decent skipping rope for beginners and it lets you adjust the length in case you are on the shorter size like  Becca. Not all jump ropes let you do that!

 

Future Blogs

These will be written by the amazing Caroline. She is a new member of the team who shares our passion for engaging people in physical activity whilst also being a talented writer. I can’t wait to share all the cool articles she’s writing!