Five foods to boost your productivity on a daily basis

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Feeling positive on a daily basis isn’t always easy and there are many factors that can influence your mood.

Fuelling your body with the correct food is something that can impact how you feel and look.

If you want to feel sharper and maximise your productivity levels on a daily basis, here are five foods to include on your shopping list.

BLUEBERRIES

A fruit rich in antioxidants, blueberries help protect the brain from stress and balance blood sugar.

They are one of the best brain foods and an easy mid-morning snack to include in your daily food plan.

Not only are berries high in fibre but they are also pure in minerals which helps protect the immune system.

KEY BENEFITS: They increase the production of dopamine which promotes energy and motivation.

Blueberries are high in fibre and rich in minerals.Blueberries are high in fibre and rich in minerals.

WALNUTS

Another food type that helps improve brain cell communication, walnuts are high in Vitamin E and a powerful food due to their high amounts of fatty acids.

Swapping the work hunger for some healthy fats will promote a slow release of energy and an improved ability to retain information.

KEY BENEFITS: Walnuts have been linked to lower cholesterol and even lowering the risk of cancer, making you feel healthier and more active.

Walnuts can make you feel healthier and more active.

SALMON, TUNA AND SARDINES

Perhaps the best commonly known superfood, fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and keeps the heart and brain healthy.

Salmon, tuna and sardines are examples of fish that are easy to cook and can be added to a salad to help make a simple nutritious meal.

Another benefit of eating fish is its quick production of collagen in the skin, leading to a reduction in wrinkles.

KEY BENEFITS: The omega-3 helps brain power, making you feel confident and alert during your daily routine.

Try to stick to oily fish like Sardines.

SPINACH, KALE AND BROCOLLI

Greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli are essential in providing a high level of iron to the body.

In addition, they help slow down memory loss and maintain a balance between immunity and inflammation to maximise your overall energy.

KEY BENEFITS: The antioxidants in greens are highly nourishing and improve brain health.

greens

‘Eat your greens’ is a sound piece of parental advice.

WHOLE GRAINS

Brown rice and oats are great examples of whole grains that improve the flow of blood to the brain.

They include a high level of Vitamin E and fibre, helping the maintenance of valuable nutrients.

Eating whole grains help distribute healthy fats around the body, keeping cholesterol levels and blood sugar down.

KEY BENEFITS: Whole grains include plenty of fibre to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol – helping to improve your overall health.

Organic Whole Grains

Whole Grains help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

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A workout plan to help you enjoy a healthy holiday

Kara Martin 28/06/2017
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Beach beauties: Surfing is one way to keep the pounds off on holiday.

The holidays are finally here! That means you’re quite likely reading this on your way out, mid-air or further afield. We also hope it means you achieved any beach body goals that you had previously set.

You’ve certainly earned some fun in the sun, but we wouldn’t be fitness and health experts if we didn’t remind you about that terrible feeling you get on return when you realise you’ve undone all your hard work and more.

Whether you want to maintain that figure post-summer, or just keep it tight while abroad to ensure all your Instagram snaps are topnotch, there are easy ways to keep the weight off without stepping anywhere near the hotel gym, says UAE-based personal trainer and competitive bodybuilder, Charlotte Smith.

The first and most obvious one is staying hydrated and well fuelled, even if you plan to indulge in sugary refreshment poolside, and hefty pasta dinners at the hotel buffet on evenings.

“It is common to crave some fruity, juicy thirst-quenchers while you are away in the sun – people often replace their usual water with these or fizzy drinks,” says Smith. “But try to remember that they are full of heaps of sugar at the end of the day, and do not neglect your H2O.”

Take daily advantage of those complimentary bottles of water in the room and get housekeeping to replace them, as well as always packing some extra for the road.

Take a hike: Use your legs to relax on holiday.

Take a hike: Use your legs to relax on holiday.

When it comes to food, Smith observes that people tend to go for very long periods without eating, often relying on the complimentary breakfast and later dropping in on a hotel dinner or a cheeky late-night room service call.

“This means by the time they do eat they are over-indulging,” says the British lifestyle coach. “Of course you are supposed to enjoy yourself and indulge a little on holiday, but there is a big difference between eating for fun and over-indulging. “Don’t skip breakfast and carry healthy snacks (nuts and fruit, for example) with you.”

If breakfasts are complimentary where you’re staying, you’re pretty much entitled to grab a few extra apples, bananas, granola bars, et cetera, to take with you on the tour bus. By the way, you can still grab a decent tan while laying in a kayak or on a standup paddleboard.

Forego the gym, grab a paddle, row yourself out and soak up those rays while staying cool on the water. When it comes to sightseeing, you could slip on a pair of comfortable trainers and explore on foot at a leisurely pace instead of shelling out for hectic, hustling group tours.

Charlotte likes to take a 20 to 30-minute stroll before breakfast ahead of planning her day. “I find when I am on holiday I rise early so as not to miss a thing, I want to take in every last bit of it. Before breakfast I like to get out for a small walk taking in the calmness of the place. I notice and spot things more, things that I might want to check out later in the day,” she says.

We understand that if you’re travelling with a whole troop of littles ones, this may not work for you, but it’s a lot easier lately to find more fun and unconventional tours that stay away from the air-conditioned mini-bus as well – tours via bicycles, scooters, horseback and more.

That being said, Charlotte believes “the best adventures always begin on foot (well they do if you’re me because I have zero sense of direction!)”.

CHARLOTTE’S HOLIDAY WORKOUT PLAN

In case you did pack gym gear and are looking for inspiration for a quick bodyweight training blast before breakfast, StayFit Abu Dhabi Trainer Charlotte Smith shares her in-room exercise routine…

I may be an athlete and quite often my training style will be described as crazy, but my holiday workout plan is something that is suitable for everyone and can be done anywhere with no equipment needed.

Make a splash: Soak up the sun while keeping your fitness.

Make a splash: Soak up the sun while keeping your fitness.

I practise what I preach and will never give a client something that I have not tested.

► From the four lists below, choose 10 total exercises, picking 2-3 from each group.

► Perform each exercise for 50 seconds, taking 10 seconds to transition to the next exercise and catch your breath.

► Do a full cycle of 10 exercises; this is one round. Complete 2–3 more rounds to get a 15-20 minute full body workout.

► If you want to push harder, compromise and use bottles of water as weights.

► When you’re done, stretch each of your main worked muscles for five minutes.

LOWER-BODY MOVEMENTS

► Static Lunge

► Step-up on Box

► Squat

► Jump Squat

► Glute Bridge

► Calf Raise on Step

UPPER-BODY MOVEMENTS

► Push-up

► Chair Dip

► Overhead Press

► Lateral Raise

► Alternating Curl

► Two-arm Bent-over Row

CORE MOVEMENTS

► Crunch

► Leg Lift

► Reverse Crunch

► Flutter Kick

► Plank

► Superman

CARDIO

► Jumping Jack

► Burpee

► Mountain Climber

► High Knee

► Sprint

► Ski Jump

TIP: Here’s an example of how I would order the exercises once I’ve selected them. Notice I generally put a cardio exercise in between every muscle group exercise, to keep the intensity high and heart rate up.

► Squat

► High Knee

► Chair Dip

► Jumping Jack

► Crunch

► Ski Jump

► Glute Bridge

► Mountain Climber

► Plank

► Burpee

Charlie is a competitive bodybuilder and level 3 qualified Personal Trainer for StayFit Abu Dhabi. She offers both home and gym-based training. Using her personal experience and athletic background, combined with professional knowledge, the training is tailored to suit you. For more information contact her via [email protected], or call 026661022.

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Fitness and Health: Take your cardio to the next level at STRONG by Zumba

Kara Martin 15/06/2017
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Global phenomenon: Zumba is a massive hit around the world.

Celebrated as a “fitness party”, Zumba continues to gain popularity around the world and is certainly here to stay in the UAE whether you’re a Latin music lover or not. We’ll admit to never having warmed to it over the years, but are amongst a small few.

All our friends, their friends, and those friends’ mums can’t seem to get enough of it – probably because it does feel more like clubbing than cardio, and since the franchise includes DVDs and CDs of the remixed party tracks for sale, alongside very funky and flambouyant, Zumba-exclusive active wear and footwear.

Reporting more than 15 weekly participants across 186 countries, you could almost call the Zumba community a cult. That being said, if all its leaders are doing is putting smiles on people’s faces while they Samba and sweat away any extra kilos, then why not.

It’s a cool club to be a part of indeed, but if you’re looking for a workout that’s a little less dance oriented but still has that tight, fun community feel, why not check out STRONG by Zumba, their new trending cardio class.

Founder of the “dancercise” fitness movement, Colombian choreographer Beto Perez, struck gold in the 90s when he came up with Zumba on a whim while improvising in an aerobics class, and now he’s upped the ante by introducing something that’s even more inclusive, especially for those, like us, with two left feet.

HIT the floor: STRONG Zumba gives you the perfect workout.

HIT the floor: STRONG Zumba gives you the perfect workout.

STRONG by Zumba is less about copying Zumba’s fancy footwork and sassy Latin dance-inspired choreography, and instead focuses on the more familiar high-energy moves you’d typically find in a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class.

Think athletic conditioning, body weight and resistance training. Knowing Beto though, we reckon this class still has spunk and plenty of loud music to go around. After checking it out at Abu Dhabi’s Tone Fitness gym, we can confirm that of course it does.

STRONG uses fast-paced rhythms like EDM, hip-hop, and fusion genres like moombahton to rev you up and get you in a zone where you are fully focused on the moves instead of counting reps – because there are plenty of them.

Your mind is meant to switch off to allow the music to do the motivating, and Beto has really done his research there. In a 2012 study by Sheffield Hallam University, it appeared that moving in sync with music allows the body to use energy more efficiently.

Other research cited by Scientific American explains that music may distract people from pain and fatigue, elevate mood, increase endurance and even promote metabolic efficiency. We have no idea how many pushups, planks, punches and lunges we tallied in the end, but there was plenty of sweat on the floor as evidence that it was a jaw-dropping, calorie-torching amount.

The aches only came days later. The 45-minute session is typically divided into four parts – Ignite (warm-up and mobility work); Fire Up (heavy, no-rest cardio moves); Push Your Limits (essentially, it turns moves done in the previous section into combos, eg. a squat would become a side squat with punches; and Floorplay (yes, down on the floor core work).

Basically, if Zumba branched into boot camps, this is what you’d get. While a lot of the music genres in the exclusively remixed STRONG soundtrack weren’t particularly our personal preference, you could tell that Beto also spared no expense in curating the body-pushing playlists.

According to Google, apparently Grammy Award-winning super producer Timbaland was involved and the tracks were even reverse engineered to match every move. Fan or not, it didn’t take long for us to get swept up into a good groove (which is very annoyingly typical of any and every Zumba class) and to grind out yet more squats and burpees in time with the bass-heavy beats.

If there’s one thing the studio wasn’t lacking in it was atmosphere and energy – Zumba, no matter the style, just seems to have that effect on people. Students in the room had this strange gleam in their eyes that screamed something like: ‘Bring it on. Nothing is going to stop me from meeting my summer body deadline’.

Some ladies were whooping and clapping in between sets. And that’s the appeal of this class – you’re working as hard as you might in a normal Zumba class but making less of a fool of yourself trying to keep up with an incredibly-cut dancer on stage, and you’re benefitting from both a bit of fun as well as a good strength training burn.

We still don’t care much for Zumba but we’ll be the first to say it – this class puts your average HIIT circuit workout on the back burner because of how cleverly and seamlessly the gang has synced music to movement.

WHAT: STRONG By Zumba
WHERE: Tone Fitness, Co-op Society Bldg, Al Maqtaa (this gym is ladies only)
WHEN: Will return to running five days a week (Sundays – Thursdays) after Ramadan.
COST: Call ahead for package options
CONTACT: Phone 0503168999 or search Facebook: Tone Fitness – Abu Dhabi.

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