Hiitgirl

The best workout for busy women. Ever.

No more endless cardio! Each HiitGirl session delivers a full body workout in a fun and energising atmosphere, in just 30 minutes - equivalent to more than 2 hours of traditional exercise.

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Four ways to keep your sparkle this christmas

First, some good news. Much of the claims about excessive weight gain over the festive period have been shown to be exaggerated, with 5lbs touted as the average adult weight gain. Scratch beneath the surface, though, and it appears that many of these surveys were funded by diet and supplement companies to get you to buy their products.

Now the not so good news - yes you will add some extra weight over Christmas and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that a combination of rich food, copious alcohol and a comfy sofa is the cause. According to researchers, the average weight gain over Christmas is just 0.5kg, but they also found that any weight gained during this period stays around much longer than expected, so you may find your festive overindulgence lasting through to Easter. If you want to enjoy yourself without the weight gain try these 4 tips to keep your sparkle for Christmas and beyond.

1. Slow down? yes. Stop? definitely not

It’s alway nice to take your foot off the accelerator at Christmas but stopping activity completely isn’t the best idea. After just 3 days of lounging around you'll start to lose your hard earned fitness. What’s more, Christmas couch surfers find it much more difficult to break out of the post Christmas slump and get moving again in January.

The answer is to do the minimum to keep ticking over - researchers found that just one workout a week will help you maintain up to 70% of your previous fitness level. You don’t even need to go anywhere  - our Hiitgirl.tv video can give you an amazing 30 minute workout wherever you are. The other solution to keeping up the habit is to do a tiny bit every day and our Fit in 5 videos are the perfect resource for a daily 5 minute fitness fix. If you want to leave working out completely then the next best thing is to do some regular walking - it’s great for digestion, burns a few calories and keeps the pasty ‘TV Tan’ at bay!

2. Set some booze boundaries

There are two words that describe the role of booze in weight gain - 'liquid carbs'. It’s all too easy in the festive period to drink throughout the day without really noticing, but all those empty calories will soon add up. Set yourself some ground rules to manage where, when and what you drink. For example, no booze before 6pm, alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks, use a smaller glass - you get the idea.

3. Don’t be a cow

Cows graze, people shouldn’t. The surefire way to pack on the pounds over Christmas is to keep snacks and treats within arms reach - if it’s there, you’ll probably eat it. Keep them out of sight, preferably somewhere you need to make a bit of an effort to get to, so that you really have to need a snack to make it happen.

4. Try our ultimate hangover cure

Overindulgence is pretty much a fact of life at Christmas so it’s always handy to have a remedy that can bring some much needed relief from a heavy night. The answer is a breakfast shakshuka - no it doesn’t come in a bottle with a spoon, it’s actually a traditional Tunisian dish you may know better as ‘Eggs in Purgatory’.

Containing little more than tomatoes, eggs and some chilli, it’s much healthier than a full English, packs a punch that will get you the lift you need and is so simple to make even the bleary-eyed can manage it. Stock up with all the bits beforehand and we think it’s almost worth a big night just to enjoy the morning after!

Check out the recipe from Nigella here...

References:

A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain. Jack A. Yanovski, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D., Kara N. Sovik, B.S., Tuc T. Nguyen, M.S., Patrick M. O'Neil, Ph.D., and Nancy G. Sebring, M.Ed., R.D. N Engl J Med 2000; 342:861-867March 23, 2000DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200003233421206

 

Ten simple rules for the 'F' word

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The 'F Word' in question is food. If you’ve spent years battling with the scales and jumping onto the latest food fads and diets without success, then it's time to change all that.

But before we get into it, have you considered why there are so many diet books, videos, meal replacement plans and so on if they all work? You would think that everyone would simply stick with the diet that worked, with no real need for any alternatives, right?

Unfortunately, the diet industry often makes money on the confusing and contradictory information about food, so failure is often built into diets, and are seen as something to ‘go onto’ and then ‘come off’ when some suitable transformation has taken place.

Our aim, therefore, is simple – to put a stop to this using evidence-based scientific information that will get you the results you want, forever – without lotions, potions or diets. So, let’s get started with some basic facts…

  • What you eat is 4 times more important for fat loss than exercise.
  • The latest science suggests that low intensity aerobic exercise gives marginal fat loss benefits and can actually make you hungrier.
  • Diet and lifestyle advice from Government agencies isn’t keeping pace with the latest scientific findings, so don’t be alarmed if we contradict them.

The Rules

1. Don’t restrict your calories too much – don’t follow a low calorie diet or worry about counting calories. A big restriction in calories for days on end will reduce your metabolic rate (the thing we want to increase!), which can make it even harder to lose weight. Plus it will make you feel hungry all the time and probably miserable – not a recipe for long term success. This isn't a ticket to pig out though - eat within your daily requirements based on your exercise and general activity levels.

2. Don’t follow a low-fat diet – these have been shown to be ineffective in the long term, plus some fats (e.g. Omega-3) are very healthy. Low fat diets also tend to encourage more use of carbohydrates, which affects insulin secretion – more about this later.

3. Don’t go hungry – hunger is the enemy of good food choices and makes the whole process a miserable experience. Eat enough of the right foods as frequently as you need.

4. Don’t weigh yourself – weight isn’t a reflection of body composition and can therefore be misleading. If you add lean muscle and reduce fat levels your weight may be the same or slightly heavier, even though your shape improved. Book one of our ultrasound body assessments to keep track of your lean and fat weight.

5. Eat fewer refined carbohydrates – they cause disruption to blood-sugar and insulin levels and encourage fat storage. Try to eat as little as possible of sugary and starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles and breakfast cereals.

6. Eat more protein – a protein rich diet helps fat loss as it causes less insulin secretion, plus you need more protein to help build muscle (which is more metabolically active than fat). Another bonus is you won’t feel hungry and you burn more calories digesting it. Result!

7. Eat more veg – eat as many vegetables and salad as you like, except for potatoes.

8. Stick to water – stay away from sugary soft drinks (including so-called 'sports drinks') and stick to water, tea or coffee.

9. Slips ups allowed – it’s OK to fall ‘off the wagon’ occasionally. It isn’t succumbing to the odd treat that matters; it’s what you eat most of the time that’s important. Stick to the 80/20 rule - do it right 80% of the time and you'll be fine.

10. Don't rely on willpower - your motivation is usually sky-high when you start out but the usual stresses and strains of life soon erode your good intentions and it's easy to slip back into old habits. The trick is to work on establishing new habits so that they become 'mindless', requiring very little willpower or motivation. 

That’s it! Lots of protein and veg, less carbs (and, if you do, stick to whole grain and/or unprocessed), and you’ll start to have a ‘diet’ that you really can stick to.

As part of our regular F word posts we'll give you the Hiitgirl take on the latest developments in nutrition - from intermittent fasting to paleo and beyond. Until next time...

Ten tips for mastering the art of the comeback

Become a comeback queen with these tips to get your exercise routine back on track

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If you take a break from fitness, the shocking truth is that your hard earned results can start to be lost in as little as 72 hours and, the longer you leave it, the longer it takes to get back to your previous level.

We’ve all had times when it seems impossible to exercise when, before you know it, a short break turns into a long layoff. Whether it’s pressures from work, family, travel or illness even the most perfect workout schedule can be interrupted and, before long, you’ll start to notice things getting that bit softer and climbing those stairs seems just a little bit harder.

Follow these simple tips to take the pain out of starting and ensure your comeback sticks.

Don’t break the habit in the first place - the easiest way to keep on track is not to stop. If you find your few days off regularly turn into weeks take a tip from the world of athletics and try ‘tapering’. Instead of stopping completely, try one session in a week just to keep on it. If you’re away do a couple of the Fitin5 virtual workouts on our Youtube channel. That way you’ll maintain your fitness levels and easily get back into your regular workout pattern.

Something is better than nothing - our mantra is '80% of success is about showing up’. Don’t worry about how much you do, just do something. There are some weeks where you just need to take everything down a notch - less sessions, shorter time or not as intense - you decide what works, however small. It’s so much easier to keep it going than starting up again.

Don’t beat yourself up - you’re in this for the long run so don’t confuse a temporary setback with a defeat. You may be uncomfortable about coming back after a break but don’t be. We want to help you succeed but we can only do that if you come in!

Find the cause - if long breaks from exercise are a regular thing you may want to have a think about the patterns that lead up to the layoff and work out some strategies to combat those patterns. For example, before taking a short break make sure you book a workout beforehand, so that your break has an end point already.

Match your mood - it’s unrealistic to think you can go full tilt all the time. Motivation and energy levels ebb and flow and the key thing is to recognise this and work around it. If you’re feeling low on energy, don’t cancel your session and flop on the couch, change your booking and try something like Jagati yoga instead.

Commit for 30 days - forming a habit means you spend less energy on willpower and motivation to get it done. 30girl is perfect for making a comeback and really helps to form your exercise habit again in the shortest possible time.

Two heads are better than one - If you’re serious about getting back it’s really useful to do it with a friend. That way you make sure there’s someone waiting for you so it’s much harder to get out of. Ask our trainers and they’re happy to contact you to confirm your attendance on a session you book. When they put in so much effort and preparation to setting up a session it’s disappointing for the trainer when people don’t turn up.

Enjoyment first - When starting back don’t dive in with the toughest workouts and end up stiff for days - focus on what you enjoy doing, rather than what you think you should be doing. That way your enjoyment levels will be high until your habit kicks in and you can move on to more challenging sessions.

Schedule it - Whatever system you use to manage your day, make sure your workout is scheduled and has an alarm set to give you enough time to get there. Be realistic and schedule when you think it’s achievable - before work, after school drop off, lunchtime or early evening - whatever works best. If you have to change your behaviour too much, chances are it won’t get done.

Measure it - regular measurements are the best way to stay on track and take into account those times when you take a break. Scheduling a benchmarking session every two to three months will not only enable you to check your progress but also provides a focus and structure to your exercise routine. For example try a measurement session and then commit to 8 weeks of workouts. Take a one week break but make sure you have another measurement session booked for the end of the week, ready to start your next 8 week block. Simple!

6 Reasons Yoga should be in your fitness plans

More and more people are getting into Yoga nowadays, from the deeply spiritual aspect to tough power Yoga there's something to fit all types of people and personalities. At Hiitgirl we've stripped everything back to basics so that we can give you a 30 minute Yoga session which will focus solely on the physical benefits of this ancient practice. Not sure if Yoga is for you? Check out the 5 reasons we think it's the perfect complement for our kickass Hiitgirl workouts...

1. Active Recovery - Yoga is an effective and low impact way to move on your non-Hiitgirl days without compromising recovery. Much of the research proves that keeping the body moving and supple the day after a tough workout can really help with muscle recovery.

2. Increased Body Awareness - Flowing through poses while barefoot without a mirror to assist requires a great deal of control. Yoga requires you to listen to your body and sustain postures without visual aids and it's this that gets you back in touch with your body again. You start to feel instinctively where your head, feet and hands are in relation to each other which can help in all sorts of complex movement patterns, Hiitgirl movements in particular. Do Yoga and get better at Hiitgirl.

3. More Flexible - The exercise world seems to be divided up into those who do and those who don't - stretch, that is. No matter how often we're told we need to spend more time stretching our muscles, many of us continue to steer clear of the stretch. Improving your mobility and flexibility will increase your movement efficiency, greatly benefiting all your physical activities. Bottom line - Yoga is a fun and effective way to get bendy.

4. Better Breath Control - Yoga places significant emphasis on the breath. Just being aware of how you're breathing will deepen your awareness of your body. Yoga will encourage you to focus on deep, meaningful breath, kicking into gear your parasympathetic nervous system and leading you into a state of relaxation.

5. Get Stronger - Yep, you will get stronger. You might not think of yoga as something that can make you stronger, but it sneaks up on you like that. Yoga poses can wake up seldom used muscles and encourage muscle groups to work together. Our lovely Yoga Ambassador (Genny) made some handy benchmarks to gauge your level and track progress; but the most obvious way to see your strength improving is when the muscles stop shaking, and you stop falling over in certain poses! 

6. Mix it up - One of the best and most fun ways to improve fitness and avoid injury is variety, and Yoga is a perfect complement to your 'bread and butter' workouts. If you think you suck at stretching and are therefore hesitant to give it a go, you're missing the point. Every yoga newbie has limited flexibility. And everyone who sticks with it improves. Quickly

Ready to start?

If you want to test drive a few Yoga moves check out our Fitin5 video on YouTube.

Take it to the next level and join one of our Yogabomb or Jagati sessions. At just 30 minutes long, we can guarantee you get a great Yoga workout without spending hours on the mat. It doesn't matter if you've never done Yoga before, the most important thing is to give a go - we think you'll like it!

Namaste...

How much is enough?

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Apart from 'I forgot my hairband, do you have a spare one?',  the question we're most asked is 'How many Hiitgirl workouts should I do in a week?'. The simple answer is 'it depends' - here's why...

Apart from when you're ill, everybody will be in one of three physical states at one time or another:

  1. Doing Nothing - slowly and imperceptibly your physical condition is getting worse, so doing nothing actually means going backwards. In fact one study found that 3 weeks of bed rest  was the same as losing 30 years of fitness - eek!
  2. Maintaining - This is the minimum level of activity required to keep things as they are. Remember though, a maintenance programme would be very different for an athlete versus someone new to exercise.
  3. Improving - This is the phase most people want to be in. However, many woman are doing things that they think put them in this zone but really they're just in 'maintenance'.

Hiitgirl says... 

We're only interested in improving and maintaining what you have and we do it using something borrowed from the world of top athletes - periodisation. Top performers don't work at the same level all the time, they have natural peaks and troughs to ensure they're in tip top shape for a big event and to provide enough rest periods to avoid injury. You need to do the same too.

Improvers

If you've hit a fitness ceiling and you're serious about breaking through you need to do 3-4 Hiitgirl sessions in a week. These should be on non-consecutive days as your fitness improves during recovery NOT during the workout. If you don't set aside time for recovery you'll overtrain and get injured.

The perfect cycle is - 

Week 1 - 4 sessions
Week 2 - 3 sessions
Week 3 - 2 sessions

Treat week 3 as an 'active rest' week to enable your body to recover and then in week 4 you can do the Improver phase again or stay at twice a week and maintain your gains. You can also use this cycle to plan around the events in your year where you need to take your foot off the gas such as Christmas, Easter and your summer break. Follow this 3 week cycle and we can guarantee your friends and family will be amazed at your transformation.

Maintainers

Twice a week will ensure you keep your hard earned fitness gains, but once a week will also help if you're doing other fitness activities too. We don't recommend one Hiitgirl session a week with nothing else as you won't get the benefit. If one session is all you can do, invest in a Pedometer and up your daily activity steps as well. Don't forget you can also follow along with one of the 'Fit in 5' videos on our Youtube Channel if you want to fit in a quickie Hiitgirl session.

So to summarise, twice a week to maintain and 3-4 a week to look and feel amazing. Follow these guidelines and at the very most it's just two hours a week of working out for a guaranteed awesome result! Time to get your sweat on... 

Your biggest meal of the day should be...

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There may be something to the old adage to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper when it comes to better managing your weight, a new study reveals.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University looked at how changing the size of meals in the day would impact weight loss. In this 12-week study, 93 overweight women were randomly assigned to one of two groups each eating exactly the same total calories and same food. However one group divided up their calorie total with a breakfast of 700 calories, a lunch of 500 calories, and a dinner of 200 calories and the other group did the exact opposite.

While both groups lost significant amounts of weight, the women consuming the large breakfast lost an average of approximately 19 pounds compared to only about 8 pounds in the large dinner group. The large breakfast group also lost twice as many inches around their waists than the large dinner eaters.  Since the hormone ghrelin, which increases your appetite, was lower during the day in the breakfast group, these women also felt full for longer throughout the day.  In addition, large breakfast eaters also had significantly lower levels of insulin, glucose, and fat in their blood, which may help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease in the long run.

There are various theories as to why this happens, ranging from circadian rhythms to metabolism but the honest answer is the boffins aren't sure at the moment. So, if you're trying to shed a few pounds, flipping your calories to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper may just help you switch the dress size on that LBD!

 

Sore today, stronger tomorrow...

For anyone new to Hiitgirl, there's an awful lot of new things to take in but the biggest memory of all for those starting out is the feeling after a workout. This affects hard-core fitness nuts and absolute beginners alike - you will get sore, really sore, walking down the stairs on your bum sore. This is completely normal and is actually to be welcomed - here's why.

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Sore muscles or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is what happens when you force your muscles to move out of their comfort zone. This soreness is evidence of microscopic damage which the body then repairs ready for next time around. Keep doing this and amazingly your body cottons on that this is going to happen regularly so improves things quite a bit each time. This is you getting fitter.

What causes DOMS? 

Scientists worked out that only certain types of muscle action bring soreness. These are the so called  'eccentric' muscle contractions familiar when lowering a weight or yourself into a squat, for example. Lowering your weight, a baby or a lovely crate of wine is a fundamental movement in life so don't avoid these kind of moves just because you get sore.

One thing we now know that doesn't cause DOMS is a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. This was the pet theory for a while but has been pretty much discounted now. 

DOMS after a workout also doesn't mean you have an injury of some sort. In fact doing more of the same over time will result in protective adaptations as a result of the 'repeated-bout' effect.  If you keep doing the same thing you can look forward to your post workout soreness rapidly disappearing.

Can it be prevented? 

First of all, stretching and warmup exercises don't prevent soreness. You could avoid lowering movements altogether by using things like hydraulic exercise machines, but then you're not working 50% of your muscle capacity.

In other words, new Hiitgirls get sore and this can't be avoided - but it will go away as you get used to our kickass intensity.

What can be done to treat it?

You've probably seen athletes and sports people jumping into wheely bins full of ice after training as this seems to be the fashionable prevention method at the moment. However, the jury is still out on this one as some of the studies into this provide contradictory results. Plus it isn't the most practical or convenient method for all the obvious reasons!

Current thinking seems to point to doing a little bit of what made you sore in the first place. This probably seems a bit contrary but we don't recommend you rest up and have a 'duvet day', you need to move around. 

A handy thing to have is a foam roller.  It's a great way to help you keep moving and banish DOMS after a hard workout, plus it's cheaper than a sports massage!

Source: Greatist.com

Source: Greatist.com

Flummoxed by food?

Curious about calories? Perplexed by protein? Confused by carbs? Check out this funny little site that reveals what's in all those naughty bites we love to eat! Click on the image to get started. 

Mmm cake! Click the image to find out what's in a slice.

Mmm cake! Click the image to find out what's in a slice.

Letting you in on the secret of NEAT with our 30 day movement challenge

Regular exercise is an important foundation for anyone who wants to be fit and healthy, but exercise alone isn’t enough. Here’s why, and what you can do about it.
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Walk down any street and you'll see people of all shapes and sizes, particularly when it comes to weight and body fat. A lean person usually carries enough energy as fat to last 2-3 months at most, whereas an obese person can last for over a year! In simple terms, this difference is related to energy balance – the difference between energy expenditure (activity) versus energy intake (food and drink). Take in more than you use and the excess is stored as fat, reverse this and you’ll use up stored body fat. Simple enough, but there’s a little more to it...

The total amount of energy you expend in a given day is divided up like this:

  • Resting
    You may know this as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and is the energy used at rest. You may be surprised to know that this can account for as much as 60% of total energy expenditure for the day (we’ll talk more about how to increase this later).

  • Eating
    Eating, digesting and processing your food accounts for around 10-15% of energy expended in a day.  Studies have shown that the digestion of an average meal, causes the resting metabolic rate to increase by 50% for around four hours.

  • General activity (or inactivity)
    This is divided into activity associated with exercise, plus everything else. The scientific name for 'everything else' is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) and relates to the things you do outside of exercise that use up energy. These include everything from chewing, fidgeting and talking, to filling the dishwasher and pacing around. Studies indicate that NEAT explains much of the differences in energy expenditure between individuals, ranging from 15 to 50% of total calories expended in sedentary versus active people. There's also compelling research evidence that too much sitting is such a risk to health that experts are recommending 'fidget breaks' after 20 minutes of sitting down.

So, if you want to lose the muffin tops, you can’t workout and flop on the sofa – you need to increase your NEAT levels too. Try the Hiitgirl 30 day pedometer challenge and see what a difference moving around can make to your appearance and mood.

This is where your pedometer comes into play. The one we recommend is used in many scientific studies and has been shown to be one of the most accurate for a general population. Follow the instructions carefully on how it should be worn as this can affect your measurement.

Step One - Calculate your baseline

  1. Wear your pedometer all day, from as soon as you get up to when you go to bed. Before you hit the hay write down the number of steps for the day.
  2. Do this for three different days, preferably two weekdays and one weekend day to get a fair reflection of the pattern of your week. 
  3. Don't do anything different because you're wearing a pedometer, it will only distort your baseline and make it tougher for you to make progress. 
  4. Add the figures together and then divide by three to get your baseline activity level.  E.g. (Day 1 - 6,320) + (Day 2 - 7,100) + (Day 3 - 6,760) = 20,180 / 3 = 6,726
  5. Armed with your baseline you need to wear your pedometer for the next 30 days and record your step count at the end of each day.
Your 30 day target is to make sure you NEVER drop below your daily baseline!

Step Two – Step it up

On your non-Hiitgirl days top up your NEAT levels with 30 minutes of steps at ‘exercise pace’. This is purposeful walking rather than a dawdle and corresponds to around 120 steps a minute - 3,600 steps in 30 minutes.  At the end of the 30 day challenge you should be able to hit 10,000 steps in a day. Don’t forget to keep your pedometer on all day and let everyone know how you get on – good luck!

How close can you get to the 30 day perfect score of 300,000 steps?