It is true, we do not really think about stretching our calf muscles that often, compared to our hips or hamstrings. How often do you walk in to a yoga class, hearing the instructor say “we will be focusing on hips in today’s class...”
As I teach more students throughout the past 5 years, I came to realise that I should pay more attention to the calves because tight calves will eventually led to many other aspects such as accessibility to a yoga pose, body pain etc. Taking my personal experience as an example, I used to dislike the pose - Malasana (squat pose, see photo at the end).
For the longest time, I thought my tight hips was the main reason why I had a hard time trying to flatten my entire feet down on the floor or I could not stay long in it. Doing more hip opening poses did help a bit, but I also forgot to stretch my calves which is crucial in a squat form.
Aside from accessibility to yoga poses, our calves play a big role in leg movement and tightness will often lead to pain in other body parts eg. lower back pain
Often when we have lower back pain, it is true that tight hamstrings and hips do play a big part. But what if after stretching our hips and hammies out, we still feel the pain? Maybe it’s time we think about the calves in this case. For some people, they probably do not even know they have tight calves, because they do not feel ache or pain in the calves at all, yet their lower back pain could be caused by tight calves. Pretty amazing yea? There is probably an anatomical explanation behind it but I will leave it to the experts to explain it. This is why every “body” is different and we all need our own kind of yoga - there is no “one size fits all” in yoga.
If you wear heels regularly or sit at a desk for the whole day, daily calf stretches will benefit you in the long run. You do not need to have any body pain to start stretching your calves.
Here you will find an article on 5 good calf stretches which I personally do and include in my own classes. My recommended daily dose will be 2 sets of 30s for each sets. Feel free to increase the sets when you do not feel much stretch after a while.
Photo by Pixabay
Balance is a simple concept but difficult to develop in real life. There’s always something getting in the way of plans to exercise and eat right. However, part of the difficulty may be in our definition of what balance means. Here are some thoughts on redefining balance, as well as developing and maintaining it.
First, we need to realize that our whole being, our mind, body and soul, needs nourishment. Our flesh and blood need air, food and water, and our spirit needs nourishment, too. Sometimes when we’re focusing on the former, we forget the latter.
Exercise can be a form of enrichment for the soul, as we learn to listen to our body and give it what it needs and avoid what it doesn’t. For instance, you might think you need french fries, and occasionally you might, but your body will tell you whether it feels good or not. Just as exercise needs a recovery period to build muscle, your soul and spirit need rejuvenation periods as well.
If you’re so busy doing everything you’re “supposed” to do that you don’t get enough sleep or relaxation -- “me time” -- then you’ll be just as burned out.
Like night follows day, we need rejuvenation following activity. This world encourages working and excelling while overlooking being, relaxing and recovering. But we can’t have one without the other. Even too much exercise is unhealthy. The point of balance is having both activity (exercise, eating healthy foods) and relaxation (down time, occasional comfort foods). Moderation is key. Somewhere in our rush to be all that we can be, we forgot that it’s not just bigger, better, faster. The rhythm of life demands slow as well as fast.
So what’s the answer? I say it’s in listening. Listen to what others suggest, yes, but also do what our body is telling us. Do we feel good after eating a huge meal, or are we lethargic? Does exercise make us feel better? If not, let’s try another. Maybe yoga or tai chi is more your thing than Zumba. As long as you’re moving your body and strengthening muscles, you’re moving in the right direction. If it makes you feel good, do it. If not, try something else. Your body is a well-built machine that will let you know what it needs, if only you listen to the signals it’s sending.
If you are recovering from addiction, your ability to listen to your body has been compromised and will need readjustment. It will take awhile before you feel like yourself again, but eating right and exercising can help in the healing process. Your body was subjected to chemical stimulation or depression, so your normal rhythms were masked.
You need to relearn how to feel what you’re feeling and respond to it. Make exercise part of your routine. Exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood. If you can exercise outside, all the better as you flood your body with healing vitamin D. Find a friend and go for a walk; socialize while working out. You will be healing your body and your spirit. Slowly, surely, you can get better and stay sober. Replace bad habits with good ones that will make you stronger, physically and emotionally.
Caring for yourself and finding balance are a daily pursuit based on your lifestyle, family and friends, and your definition of what balance means to you. Every day you decide what you’re going to do to be healthy, and every day you weigh those choices against your schedule, things that come up unexpectedly, and the importance of knowing what can control and what you can’t. You can’t control a work meeting that runs late, but you control whether you eat that doughnut. Maybe a margarita with friends after work is important, because you’re supporting each other and building relationships. But maybe it’s a weekly or monthly activity, not a daily one. Going home and reading a good book or dancing around your living room with the kids is important, too.
You need all these things in your life, but only you can decide when and how much. Balance is elusive but not impossible. It’s determined by you as you choose each day how you spend your time. Do what’s “good for you” and what’s good for you. Only you can determine which is which.
Author: Sheila Olson (www.fitsheila.com)
Article Source: https://nuzest.sg/burn-fat-efficiently/
We’ve learned that fat burning is a system we’ve developed to allow us to use energy over long distances. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors, whose genes we share almost unchanged, would roam their environments on the hunt for food for hours or even days on end. We would not be around today if they cold only hunt successfully if they could refuel on bags of potato chips or cans of coke every few hours. They would genuinely be running on empty, using fuel that they had previously stored. Someone who gets lost in the desert and is unable to hunt successfully will die, usually after a few days without food and water. But it’s not the lack of food that causes death, it’s the lack of water. Most of us can function, given water, for well over two weeks without food. That’s because we burn first of all our fat reserves, and then we that runs out, we start burning protein as muscle tissue. What’s ingenious about it is that we also generate another fuel when we burn fat called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies – or ketones for short – are actually are brain’s favourite fuels. If you keep burning fat, and continue to not eat over many days, the levels of ketones in your system can get so high they kill you. That’s why for many years ketones were thought of as bad compounds because they were known to occur at very high levels in people who were starving to death. To keep ketones as low as possible, you need to shut down your fat burning system. The best way to do that is by taking in lots of carbs.
Now, think about all those overweight people in the gym who you’ve seen working out on treadmills and cycling machines who never seem to lose weight. Chances are they’re working out for under an hour at a time and they’re also downing glucose- or sugar-laden energy drinks or energy gels to keep them going. Their diets might also be low fat and high in refined and processed carbs like white bread, pasta, pizzas and white rice.
What we now know is that we need to back off eating carbs to encourage our bodies to burn fats. This is one reason that there’s been so much interest in law carb diets, as well as ones that increase the amount of healthy fats. These kinds of diets are often referred to as Low Carb High Fat or LCHF diets. But it’s not just a question of what you’re eating, it’s also about how much and when you’re eating.
When we start exercising aerobically our bodies normally rely on the most readily accessible fuel. It’s actually not fats, carbs or protein. It’s a compound called glycogen that’s stored in our liver and muscles. If we’re replenished with glycogen from a good meal with plenty of complex carbs from vegetables, starches or grains the night before, most of us will have a reserve of some 500 – 800g of glycogen. This will be sufficient to act as our main fuel for around 60 to 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. So if you’re going to do some aerobic work in the gym and stop after just 30 minutes, you will have barely started to burn your fat reserves, irrespective of whether the machine in the gym tells you you’ve been in your fat burning zone for that half hour. You’ve burned part of your glycogen reserve that will be replete if you down an energy drink or another carb source after your workout.
What the fat burning zone inscribed on your treadmill, stepper, rower or gym bike is telling is however is right if you’re prepared to stay in this low to moderate heart rate zone for some time. This fat burning zone is approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, which is roughly 220 minus your age, although it can be considerably higher than this if you’re very fit. But how many people can manage over an hour of aerobic work in the gym. Three or four times a week. Not many as it happens.
That’s one reason why, when it comes to burning fat, getting outdoors and doing a long walk or cycle ride makes a lot more sense for many people. But it requires time – something not many of us have in abundance. But perhaps you can manage this once or twice a week if you really try, ideally not on consecutive days.
Such is the flexibility of our bodies’ systems that there are also other ways of burning fat. Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways of getting there. It’s a somewhat fancy term referring to a pattern of eating that involves eating both less as well as less often than a normal Western person might typically eat. There’s actually nothing odd about this way of eating – our ancestors almost certainly ate this way. They certainly didn’t eat three meals a day with snacks in between. They would go through cycles of feast and famine – and it’s important to realise we are supremely well-adapted to famine because if we weren’t, we’d not be here today. And bizarrely, it’s now the excessive feasting that’s much more likely to kill us than the famine…
One of the most useful rules with intermittent fasting is to try to cut down on your meal frequency by avoiding eating within five hours of your last meal. Another point involves cutting out snacks between meals, as well as all refined and processed carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and white rice. Doing a couple of training or exercise sessions on a completely empty stomach (other than water) will also help you shift towards being a better fat burner. As will engaging in very short bursts of high intensity exercise, with rests of the same or double the duration in between. This is called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT and you’ll find plenty of information about it on the internet, such is its popularity given its proven role in triggering mitochondrial function and fat burning. Depending on what your fitness goal is, you can adjust the pattern of your HIIT sessions to deliver different results.
With a personal trainer with extensive experience in HIIT, there are even HIIT regimes suitable for people with serious diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. It may seem a bit tough, but think of it as short and sharp, with good rewards. Get it right and your metabolism will become super flexible, using whatever fuels are most efficient. You’ll generate ketones at low levels (nutritional ketosis) to keep your brain super sharp and you’ll even burn fat while you sleep!
When you’ve finished a bout of training over 20 or 30 minutes, make sure you consume around 20 grams of good quality protein to help your body recover and your muscles to grow stronger following the exercise trigger you’ve delivered to them. It’s a good idea to get this protein in within a 30-minute window of completing your activity. If the activity has involved long periods of endurance, you might also want to add some complex carbs and branched chain amino acids to the mix, as well as a good quality multi-nutrient product with plenty of good quality vitamins and minerals, botanicals, probiotics and other micronutrients that help support your multiple body systems.