Amelia Phillips is a Health & Fitness Coach from Sydney, Australia. Find out how you can become healthier and fitter. She provides a range of healthy recipes, motivation techniques and weight loss options.
Typically this is the time our training routine is more stuffed than the Christmas Turkey, so here are 10 Days of Christmas Fitness Challenges to make sure that Christmas pudding doesn’t end up on your waist! They are designed to be short, but intense so there are no excuses. All workouts should begin after a 5-7 minute warm up which includes a jog, skip or combination of butt kicks, jumping jacks and bodyweight squats.
Because too much Christmas cheer will end up your rear, here is a circuit to make that bum burn! 3 rounds: 50 squats 50 alternating lunges (1 leg = 1 rep) 50s hip raises (squeeze 5s and lower) Finish this off with 3 rounds of 1min skipping. Count your reps per round and try to beat the first round or stay consistent.
Push Up Challenge Want to really strengthen those arms so you can carry more presents? Do this challenge twice in the day. Tally your total reps and you will be amazed! 5 rounds of pushups to failure – knees or toes! Rest 30s between the first 3 rounds and then 60s for the last 2 rounds
It’s a STAIR day! The challenge is – everywhere you go, take the stairs for the day and try to achieve 10,000 steps in total!
Burp Off! Too many fizzy things, alcohol or canapés this week? Do yourself a favour with this burpee challenge and burn those calories. 100 burpees challenge. Do it as fast as you can with good form. What time did you clock?
“Shopping is my cardio”, said Carrie Bradshaw! Yep, its getting close – it’s the last weekend before the big day and you are racing around the shopping centre like Santa’s sleigh. Incidental exercise includes racing around the shops so why not boost it for the day by parking further away from the entrance (you may not have a choice on this one!) and stash your bags in your car rather than using a trolley or giving cramping your hands. Aim for 12,000 steps today!
Patience is a virtue, particularly at this time of the year! Test your endurance with these little challenges. Each exercise is done 3 times. 1st round 30s, 2nd – 45s, 3rd – 60s. 60s recovery between each round. (Increase or decrease if required. Exercise 1: Wall Sit Exercise 2: Sit Ups Exercise 3: Tricep Dips Exercise 4: Push Ups
Ab Circuit Let’s leave the round belly to Santa and focus on our core strength. 25 sit-ups 25 reverse crunches Plank 30sec 25 bicycle crunches 25 twist toe touches (hand to opposite toe) 4 rounds to feel the burn!
It’s GRINCH day! All the hard work is almost over; you are tired just thinking about the day ahead. Kick start your day with this energizing plyometric workout – it will get you through! 1-minute blast of each exercise for 3 rounds, 1-minute rest in between: High Knees Mountain Climbers Jump Squats Power Pushups (can do on knees) Tuck Jumps Burpees
MERRY CHRISTMAS! Today’s focus is to enjoy the company of your family and friends, enjoy your food and wine in moderation, BUT, start the morning off, straight away with a 45min run, jog or power walk. The craziness will start soon enough so do this first up and get it done. 45mins will fly by in a flash and you will have a guiltless day of treating yourself!
For whatever reason, this time of year is when some of us lose perspective on ‘moderation,’ our routines fall out the window and instead of starting the year feeling fab, we start the year feeling flab.
This year I want you to keep perspective of moderation and avoid those extra kilo’s piling on. Use these tips to maintain physical, and mental health that will see you through the festive season and cheer!
Drop the ‘no time’ Excuses! I can guarantee that someone busier than you will find time to squeeze in that 30min workout or run and still be albe to relax and spend time with their family. Exercise first up in the morning and there will be no chance of something ‘coming up’. You don’t need to sleep in every day!
Go Hard! Research has shown through a number of studies that short, intense bouts of exercise (H.I.I.T) followed by periods of recovery provide ‘similar fitness benefits as continuous endurance workouts’. So if you are still hanging on to that excuse above, take note right here. The other great news about this is that even a short, 15 minute hard workout can get you decent results.
Earn your Calories!
No one is going to tell you not to indulge a little but if you want to earn your calories you need to expend the energy. The good ol’ calories in vs. calories out are what we’re talking about. You want to treat yourself, you need to earn it, otherwise it may end up on your hips. If you’ve had a food blowout, plan a big calorie burn workout. Maybe it’s a three hour hike, maybe it’s a hardcore class, or just a good solid run.
Skip the Gym and Workout at Home Let’s face it – parking anywhere at this time is a nightmare and making that extra commitment to get to the gym for a particular class may just be pushing your luck. Why not do a workout at home? Check out my Full Body Workout here, or simply go for a run or powerwalk.
Book in a Fun Run or Event in early January If you lock yourself into an event in the New Year, you are more likely to stay committed to being active over the festive season and keeping a closer eye on just how many mince pies you consume. Look around your local area – there are loads of community park runs!
Ditch the Smartphone There are only so many Facebook posts and Instagram’s you need to see that is wishing you a Merry Christmas. Traditionally this is a quiet time of the year so ditch the social media and head to the park or beach with the kids – pack a ball, Frisbee, cricket set or even a bucket and spade. Being active is not all about gym, weights or running.
Get your Boogey On Michael Buble, Mariah Carey and Barry White, oh the list goes on! Pump up those Christmas carols and dance like no one’s watching. Get those arms above your head – not only do you look more awesome, but you increase the intensity of your dance moves.
Time Out and Sleep Make sure you get plenty of it. Sleep repairs the body, puts you in a better mood, and reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A lack of it leads to a decrease in the immune systems and most likely a reason you will skip that workout – not what you need at this time of the year or while on holidays! Getting enough sleep helps maintain your weight; too much stress or lack of sleep means ‘leptin’ levels drop resulting in the craving for more high fat foods.
Exercise for Mental Health Stressful times lead to anxiety, moods and well, feeling crap! The good news is Exercise is Medicine (among many others) say that “most people relate to feeling happier and more positive after a workout thanks to the natural release of endorphins when you exercise”.
From Jennifer Lopez to Beyonce, every woman wants a good, toned tooshie. In fact, research has shown that men prefer women to have a nice butt as opposed to sculpted abs, shoulders or arms.
To help you get that perfectly shaped butt, I have come up with four of my favourite and most effective butt exercises. These will tighten and sculpt the bottom like no other, and you are sure to feel the burn.
You can do these in your living room, local park or the gym.
The four exercises: – Single Leg Squat
– Round the World
– Hip Raises from the Ground
I want you to do 12x reps of each exercise and do the entire circuit 3 times.
Team these with cardio workout and do these three times a week.
Grab a mat, a chair and follow the video.
We all know alcohol isn’t the best inclusion for optimal health and weight management, but Christmas and the New Year involve a lot of celebrations, and the good news is that you don’t have to miss out altogether.
Have a drink or two, but keep within these guidelines, as a little swap here and a little shuffle there can make all the difference.
Calories in a 120ml glass of white wine = 87kcal
Calories in a 120ml glass of red wine = 80kcal
Wine is great when drunk in moderation. The good news is that the fermentation process leaves minimal fructose when alcohol is formed from grapes. Choose red over white as it contains the lowest fructose content, plus it has the benefit of multiple antioxidants, which could help your body to neutralise some potentially harmful toxins in your body.
Calories in a single 25ml measure of malt whiskey = 64kcal
Calories in a single 25ml measure of Vodka = 50kcal
White spirits such as vodka and gin and dark spirits like rum and whiskey are low in fructose. Mix them with soda water and fresh lime and you have the perfect refreshing Christmas beverage. Also, Whiskey is a popular Christmas drink, usually drunk on the rocks or with a mixer. If you like it, try to stick to single measures and go for low-calorie mixers.
Calories in a pint of cider = 230kcal
Calories in a pint of lager = 164kcal
The sugar in beer is maltose and can be well metabolised by our bodies in comparison to fructose. It gets a bad rap, but it’s not that bad. It’s got much less calorific than most ciders, mixers and cocktails. However, keep in mind that with ciders, you have to factor into your diet that drinking more than two pints means you’ve consumed the same amount of calories as eating a meal.
Calories in a 120ml flute = 80kcal
Calories in a 120ml glass = 80kcal (but cheaper than champagne)
Unfortunately champagne and dessert wine don’t make the cut for the goodie-goods in the alcohol department. Both retain high amounts of fructose and should be drunk with caution. But what’s a Christmas dinner without a glass of bubbles? So by all means have one glass of champagne to toast, but then switch to vodka, soda water and lime.
Also, champagne has more sugar content than wine, i.e. more nasty hangovers.
Calories in a Pina Colada with cream and two shots of alcohol = 526kcal (as much as a Big Mac)
Calories in a Margarita with two shots of alcohol = 170kcal
Calories in a Long Island Iced Tea = 170kcal
Calories in a Cosmopolitan = 99kcal
While most cocktails are packed with sugar and empty calories, there are ingredients you can swap that will bring the calorie and sugar content down in your favourite cocktails:
If you’re making cocktails at home, and a recipe asks for sugar syrup, avoid it and add muddled fresh fruit instead.
Avoid mixers such as soft drink, tonic water and fruit juice. These are very high in sugar and will just hike up the calorie content. Substitute with soda water, sparkling water or coconut water.
Avoid cocktails with creamy liqueurs. Calories in a 37ml of Baileys = 129kcal – swap with dry sherry instead, which clocks off 80kcal for a 50ml serve.
If your cocktail says it’s got ‘sugar syrup’ in it, ask the bartender to hold it and not include that.
If you’re going for the big gun – Long Island Iced Tea – then reduce the calories in it by swapping the coke with cranberry juice or coconut water with a big squeeze of lemon.
The safest and healthiest cocktail that you can order from the bar without making any adjustments is the Cosmopolitan – it’s got antioxidants (courtesy the cranberry juice), Vitamin C (lemon juice) and lowest calorie spirit.
A great mixer to use (especially during Christmas and New Years) is coconut water! Use it instead of soda water, coke and sprite and see how delicious your drinks become. It’s definitely a personal favourite in the Phillips household.
Merry Christmas! (and drink responsibly)
What are your tips on reducing the calorie and sugar content in holiday cocktails?
Last week, I put up this interview with author and healer, Dr. Dain Heer, who I was grateful enough to meet while he travelled around the east coast of Australia for his book tour.
While Dr. Dain spreads the powerful message of “being the best person you can be“, he doesn’t bypass his physical health. He has an exercise regimen (a slightly strange one), and in the video below, Dr. Dain shares the relationship he has with his body.
You can buy Dr. Dain Heer’s book, Being You: Changing the World, from Amazon or visit his website for more information.
Using free-weights for a training session is incredibly empowering. Lifting weights can make you feel super strong – invincible! However, we often forget that using our own body weight for a particular exercise can be just as rewarding, perhaps even better, some would argue.
So keeping that in mind, I want to place a challenge before you, where I want you to use your own body weight to complete five exercises, as seen in the video below. They’re all basic, everyday moves that you’re probably used to doing, but here you must do them in circuit format for six-continuous-minutes. I call this my AMRAP circuit, i.e., as many rounds as possible.
No stopping, no breaks and no cheating!
The five exercises: – Plyometric lunges
– Mountain climbers
– Push ups
– Over-the-fence jumps
– Tricep dips
Give me 12x reps of each exercise and repeat the circuit for as many rounds as you can do in six minutes. Repeat 2-3 times per week and try to beat your personal best. Set an alarm on your phone, if necessary.
I guarantee you’ll be huffing-puffing by the end of this workout. Watch the video for a quick demo and do the routine at your gym or somewhere outdoors.
Have you ever wanted to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Well, you might just be able to – okay not quite, but it’s still good news.
A new study shows that eating a little chocolate on a regular basis might help you manage your weight. It sounds too good to be true, right?
Scientists from University of California asked 1000 men and women how much chocolate they ate in a week and how much they exercised in the same time period. Those who ate chocolate five times a week happened to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
However, it’s important to note that the participants in this study were all of a healthy body weight and exercised regularly. Not quite a completely balanced study!
Too Good To Be True? As exciting as this may sound, there are more loopholes in this study than anticipated.
By measuring only active, healthy weight participants, it is hard to show if eating more chocolate actually leads to weight gain. What if you are one of those people who has chocolate every day, and as a result now have a higher BMI. You would not have been eligible for the study, which can really skew it’s results.
Also, the research nowhere proved that chocolate could help promote weight lose, however, it did raise a point that maybe a small treat every day, helps us maintain a balanced approach to what we eat.
What kind of chocolate? Now before you get all disappointed, good news is that, chocolate isn’t all that bad for you. If you exercise regularly – three-four days a week – and 85 percent of your diet constitutes of healthy food groups, then a piece of chocolate here and there is more than okay!
Although, you have to be careful with the kind of chocolate you consume because there are some nastiest out there.
Dark Chocolate: The obvious and the best choice out there, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that help lower stress levels, inhibit blood clotting and lower blood pressure. Go for 70 percent and above, when shopping for dark chocolate. Milk Chocolate: Not a wise man’s pick, milk chocolate is rich in dairy fat and sugar, resulting in providing very little benefits this sweet stuff is capable of. When eating this, limit yourself to maximum two-four small squares, a week. White Chocolate: Don’t even go here, that is all I have to say for this variety of chocolate. White chocolate has close to zero benefits for your body; you’re better off drinking liquid sugar (don’t do that even!)
How much can you consume? This is a very personal decision, as it entirely depends on how much self-control and willpower you have. If you’re the kind who can look at a huge block of chocolate and eat only one square of it, you’re on the right path.
But if you can’t stop at one or two squares, then an intervention is definitely called for.
Similar to the participants in the study mentioned above, if you exercise on a very regular basis and consider yourself fit, then eating a small square of dark chocolate will prove to be very beneficial for you. But if you can’t count the number of chocolate bars you’ve consumed in a week, you know you’re on a very wrong path.
On a personal level, I have two squares of Lindt 70 percent dark chocolate dipped in herbal tea, most evenings, as my dessert. It’s a small treat that satisfies my sweet tooth without being a calorie catch out.
If you’re looking for an authentic brand of healthy, raw chocolate, give Pana Chocolate (formerly known as Conscious Chocolate) a go. These are handmade in Melbourne with 100 percent raw and organic ingredients. Trust me, these chocolate blocks are to die to, you won’t be looking back after you get your hands on these bad boys.
Find this brand at your local health store or buy them online here.
Watch my segment at Mornings9 with David and Sonia where we discuss all things chocolate, at the video link above.
How much chocolate do you eat per week? Have you ever kept track? Do you think it’ll help you lose weight?
If you’re looking for the ultimate calorie burner then you better scramble through your childhood play set and get that skipping rope out. This rope can boost up your metabolism, send your heart rate to the moon and pump up your body’s fat burning system like no other.
The number of calories your body burns while skipping is reliant on the speed of your jump rate and your own body fat percentage. However, it’s for sure that if you put aside 10-12 minutes of skipping towards the end of every workout, you’re in for a treat for your body.
To keep things interesting, I have put together six of my favourite variations of skipping in the video below: – Double Bounce
– Basic Jump
– Alternate Foot Jump
– Double Unders
– Cross overs
– Side to side
Challenge your legs, challenge yourself and do these at least 3-4 times a week until you master each of these variations. Have fun with it, because guess what, summer is just around the corner!
I have a burning oblique set for you that will fire your side abdominals like never before. In this video, we’re working the obliques that will help give you the V-shape and also stay toned under low-rise jeans.
There are 4 exercises, 12 reps and 3 sets all together. All you need is a yoga mat and a 3-4 kilo dumbbell (even more if you can handle it). Do this circuit three times a week for best results.
– Side Raises
– Bulgarian Twists
– Side taps
Watch the video to see the technique behind every exercise.