Plan your meals, see results

It’s possible to limit our calories and still eat like kings and queens. But to make sure our food isn’t putting the brakes on our progress, we need to plan ahead.

Why? Well, planning your meals means that you’re less likely to end up in a situation where your blood sugar levels are so low that you lose the ability to think logically. Then, instead of eating a healthy plate of food, you end up binge-eating on all the wrong things (hello calorific muffin at 3pm!) just to get by.

It’s basic maths. No goal = no purpose. No purpose = very little motivation. Very little motivation = very little progress. The worst.

So, here are some tips to turn you into an A-grade planner:

  • Define your goals. Write them down. Put a time on it. What do you want to achieve and by when? Be specific.
  • Implement changes gradually, one step at a time. Nothing’s worse than too-high expectations. This is about the journey, not the destination.
  • If necessary, consult with a health professional to make sure you’re on the right track.
  • Share your goals and plans with friends and family – the more support you get, the easier it is when it comes to socialising and all the potential temptations that come with it.
  • Get your hands on healthy recipes (you can start by looking at myvirginactive.co.za) and plan your menu for every day of the week.
  • Stock up on some basic ingredients that you know you’ll always need – olive oil, herbs and spices and so forth.
  • Create a shopping list before you go to the shops – we all know what happens when we just roam freely down every isle. Oh, and make sure you don’t go when you’re hungry. That sweet aisle looks crazy tempting when your stomach is growling.
  • Track your progress on myvirginactive– the more progress you see, the more progress you want to see.

Planning your meals can seem like a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it. Before you know it, you’ll have reached that goal, ready to set the next one!

Eating well for better health

Are your good intentions for sticking to your New Year resolutions a distant memory? It’s Health Awareness Month, so there’s no better time than right now to re-focus on being the healthiest you that you can be.

Not sure where to start? Instead of focusing on everything you need to cut out, start by choosing healthier, nutrient-dense foods.

For healthier bones

Milk and yoghurt are good sources of protein – and they’re also good sources of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin B12. Calcium is vital for developing and maintaining strong bones, so it’s beneficial to include some in our diet every day. KAUAI’s new Breakfast Bowl with yoghurt, honey, chia seeds, toasted almonds, and tropical flavours of fresh pineapple, banana and strawberry, is a great way to start the day with a calcium boost.

For healthier muscles

Protein is the building block for muscle, aids satiety and can be found in eggs, red meat, fish, poultry, dairy and legumes. Eggs are complete proteins and also contain B vitamins, iron and folate, so nutrient wise they rank pretty high. The new Full Island Breakfast with scrambled eggs, button mushrooms, free range beef sausage, Rosa tomatoes and Low GI toast is packed full of protein and flavour. If you’re not up for a big meal, try the Amino Recovery Drink made with free-form amino acids, pineapple and crushed ice for a refreshing protein option.

For a healthier digestive system

Fibre plays a very important part in keeping your digestive system working optimally. Try to include sources of insoluble as well as soluble fibre in your diet. Increasing your fibre intake doesn’t mean eating dry-as-a-bone diet foods – it can be found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. If you’re going to increase your fibre intake, remember to increase your water intake too.

For a healthier heart

Consuming unsaturated fats, including omega fatty acids, has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Try replacing some of your meat during the week with fish, especially fish such as salmon or mackerel. If preparing fish seems just a little too much for you, try KAUAI’s Smoked Trout Wrap or Smoked Trout Scrambled Eggs, both made with Franschhoek smoked trout. You can even choose to have it made with a low carb wrap (only 10g carbs) if you’re watching your carb intake.

For a healthier immune system

Vitamins and minerals do a whole lot of good when it comes to keeping your immune system working the way it should. The good news is that these nutrients don’t have to come from supplements; they can be found in various food groups so following a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you’re getting a little of everything you need. Keep your iron (raisins, spinach, eggs, etc.) and vitamin C levels (berries, citrus, tomatoes, etc.) up before winter kicks in to keep you a step ahead.

Written by Lesley Scott, Qualified Nutritionist (All Good Things blog)

Functional fitness training – is it for you?

Actually, functional fitness training is for everyone. If you move your body on a daily basis – whether you’re picking clothes up off the floor or reaching for that jar of peanut butter – you will benefit from functional training.

Adding functional training to your workout routine is all about incorporating natural movements, so that you can perform these moves every day without struggle. It’s that simple.

With The Grid (our new functional fitness training), you’ll push, pull, squat, bend, twist, and lunge – the six movements that can make you fitter and stronger. You can book your spot on myvirginactive.co.za.

Let’s get functional fit

We’ve put together 6 functional moves to work into your workout routine (when you’re not working hard in The Grid). Check it out.

Top 6 functional fitness moves to try

  1. Squats

Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Your toes should face forwards. Squat down bending your knees, as if sitting on a chair. Your knees should be in line with your toes when you’re in the squat position. Hold for three seconds, then return to the starting position.

  1. Lunges

Begin in a lunge position, in a split stance, with both of your knees bent. Bend both your knees to 90 degrees, then return to the starting position.

  1. Bent-over row

With a dumbbell in each hand (and your palms facing your torso), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forwards by bending at the waist. As you bend, keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. The weights should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso.

While keeping your torso stationary, lift the dumbbells to your side (as you breathe out), and keep your elbows close to your body (don’t exert any force with the forearm other than holding the weights). On the top contracted position, squeeze your back muscles and hold for a second. Slowly lower the weight again to the starting position as you inhale.

  1. Deadlift

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, your toes pointed forward. Squat down and firmly grasp the bar just outside your knees using a closed grip. Position the bar 2 – 3cm in front of your shins. Keep your spine in neutral position. Keep your chest lifted and your head in line with your spine or chin slightly lifted, looking ahead.

Before lifting, tighten your core and abdominal muscles to stabilise and protect your spine. Straighten your knees and hips at the same time, bringing the bar off the floor, coming to a full standing position. The barbell will rest against the front of your thighs with your arms straight.

With control, hinge at the hips, bending your hips and knees at the same time. You’re your core muscles engaged and try to keep your back flat while lowering your hips and shoulders together.

  1. Stability ball leg rotation

Lie on your back with your lower legs on the stability ball and your arms stretched wide on the floor for support. Roll your legs across the ball from side to side.

  1. Push up

Face down in a low position on your hands, with your arms extended and your knees off the floor. Bend your arms at your elbows and lower yourself down as low as you can, pushing yourself back up to the starting position.

Functional fitness training could really up your fitness but don’t forget about the more traditional forms of exercise. Moderation and balance are words to live by. Constantly challenge your muscles to see massive results.

Calling all Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town supporters

If you aren’t taking part in this year’s Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town, come along anyway! You’ll be able to see all the action and, on top of that, the V&A Waterfront is also providing great entertainment, so it’s a fun day out for everyone.

Our Active Angels will be there cheering on the athletes. Be sure to join them!

Why come out and support?

It’s a great motivator. You know how, when you watch reality talent TV shows, you immediately feel like singing or dancing just like the contestants? Well, the same goes for watching a live race. You’ll feel that excitement. You’ll get that amp to just put on your running shoes and go for it. Stand near the finish line and watch the athletes achieve their goals up close. There’s nothing quite as inspiring.

Cheer, sing, and clap your hands. Make their day. Plus, all that jumping around means you’re bound to burn a few calories of your own. Now that’s a win-win.

By the time you’re done spectating, you’ll want to go set your own records. Start your own workout plan. Challenge yourself to new goals. And that’s awesome.

Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town:

When: 25 & 26 April 2015

Where: V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Get up early. Pack some treats. Apply sun tan lotion. Bring the family. And come enjoy the day with our Active Angels. It’s going to be fun. Trust us.

And to those of you taking part, good luck!

adidas Climachill – Uncontrol yourself

The new adidas Climachill product range helps you perform at your very best, regardless of heat, through new design and material selection for maximum cooling.

The new and valiant black training shirt is not only sleek in design and aesthetics, but also at the forefront of active-cooling technology within the sporting goods industry. Thanks to its cutting edge instant cool sensation, advance breathability and supreme heat and moisture transfer capabilities, the shirt keeps body temperatures under control even in the hottest conditions. Enabling athletes of all levels to train harder, run longer and stay focussed, enhancing athletic performance.

The adidas Climachill range has revolutionised active cooling technology through its uniquely engineered design profile:

  • Industry-first 3D aluminium cooling spheres are strategically located on the back and neck to correspond with the warmest area of the body, and provide an instant cooling sensation on contact.
  • Micro fibre fabric allows the garment to act like mesh and transports excess moisture away from the skin.
  • The revolutionary SubZero flat yarn contains titanium and maximises surface contact with skin, transferring more heat away from the body.

The cooling revolution truly continues – in black. Get the new black adidas Climachill training t-shirt, now available at adidas Performance Concept Stores.

For more information visit www.adidas.com/climachill

Earn bonus Vitality fitness points

It’s World Move for Health Day on 10 May 2015 and Discovery Vitality are celebrating by giving all Vitality members a chance to make their moves to earn BONUS fitness points at Virgin Active from 10 to 17 May 2015!

Join the global initiative to improve your health and increase your physical activity.

Get moving with a fun workout at Virgin Active. You will earn Vitality points for a workout at a Virgin Active health club (if you have activated the Vitality gym benefit) each day, PLUS bonus fitness points equal to the Vitality points you have earned for the workout. Terms and conditions apply.

Need to know

  • If you complete a workout at Virgin Active you can earn 150 Vitality points for your workout PLUS an equal amount of 150 bonus points that you can earn toward your bonus fitness points.
  • A limit on fitness points. Vitality members earn fitness points for using any of the fitness-related benefits. The yearly limit is currently 15 000 for each main member, spouse and dependant aged 18 years and older.
  • A limit on bonus fitness points. Vitality members earn bonus fitness points for healthy activities that we recommend. The yearly limit is 24 000 for each main member, spouse and dependants aged 18 years and older.
  • Only one workout per day from 10 to 17 May 2015 will earn you extra bonus points. Vitality points will only be awarded for one fitness activity on the day. If you complete two fitness activities in one day, then the higher points between the two will be awarded.
  • If you have already reached 15 000 fitness base points you can only earn bonus points for qualifying fitness activities.
  • Vitality points will be awarded during June 2015.
  • Discovery Vitality reserves the right to change or cancel the offer at its discretion. In the event of such cancellation or alteration, all participants shall waive and abandon any rights they may have against the promoter, its affiliates or associated companies to the extent permitted by law. Prior notice will be given to participants in the event of cancellation or alteration. By participating in this offer, all participants agree to be bound by these rules. Vitality members can obtain a copy of the terms and conditions for this offer at http://www.discovery.co.za

What are you waiting for?

Seven days and so many ways to earn more bonus fitness points this May with Discovery Vitality and Virgin Active!

5 ways to get the whole family moving

Yes, we want our kids to be fit, happy and healthy. But how do we expect that to happen when we aren’t leading by example? It’s important to practice what we preach as adults. So, let’s make family fun an active thing.

We’ve rounded up 5 cool ways to keep moving with the whole family:

  1. If the weather’s good and you have a little extra time, put on your walking shoes instead of taking the car.
  2. Plan fun family outings. Make it a regular thing. Visit animal rescue shelters and take dogs for walks. Go for runs on the beach (or a nice swim). Fish and chips at the harbour.
  3. Shopping doesn’t need to be a drag. Turn any trip to the mall into a good workout. Wear comfortable shoes and get moving.
  4. Take regular strolls on the sand (sand = a great workout), play with a Frisbee, beach bats or enjoy a game of volleyball.
  5. Playing with the kids in the pool (or sprinkler) is a great way to keep active and beat the heat. Add water pistols or a water slide for extra fun.

What other fun ideas can you think of?