Tweak 7: Abs ARE Made in the Kitchen!, April 2014
This tweakly will focus on eating clean, the next will give you some training tips to supplement your new clean eating program. Let’s face it, we all want abs. How badly each of us wants them varies, and the extremes to which we are willing to go to vary. We all want a flat stomach. So much research is put out there that it’s hard to know what to follow but for the most part this may sound familiar: limit calorie intake, eat lean meat and steamed vegetables, cut out carbs, eat low fat, do a lot of cardio and spend as much time as you can doing crunches and sit-ups. If any of you have tried this, you’ll know that in no way is this a sustainable “diet” or way of life. If you’re determined enough to follow it you’ll lose weight – there is no doubt about that -but you will also never feel satisfied, energized and eliminate a lot of nutrients which your body needs. We have far too much information now to keep reverting back to fad diets and calorie counting. Yes, manage your portions so in the big picture you don’t consume way more calories than you’re burning, and try to keep spreading your meals out so they’re small and often, but don’t focus so much on the math. Focus on quality, colours and eating whatever you can in the least processed possible form you can find it in. Basically, eat clean and train hard.
Eating clean doesn’t have to be a bore. If you adopt this lifestyle, you’ll find that it’s easy and even more satisfying than giving in to that KitKat bar in the supermarket. More and more people are realizing that our world is becoming increasingly toxic with the rates of cancer and autoimmune diseases rising rapidly. Companies are adding refined sugar and lots of other useless additions to your food. All these additional items (which are usually disguised and hidden by changing their name, using buzzwords, etc.) contribute to your bulging stomach and more importantly your increasing levels of toxicity. So not only is this lifestyle choice going to help you flatten your stomach, you’ve got a bonus (which should ultimately be your goal and your flat abs being the bones) of lowering rates of illness drastically through making a few changes in the kitchen.
Here are a few easy tips that you need to follow to help make this transition:
- Cut out processed foods: the easiest way to do this is try to only eat things you have made yourself (or if you’re invited to a friend’s house or to a restaurant always opt for the least complex item on the menu).
- White is wack: cut out white flour completely. That means opt out of eating deep fried foods when you’re out (these are usually coated in batter which has a lot of white flour) and replacing all your recipes which include white flour with either whole grain flour, quinoa flour, coconut flour, brown rice flour (especially good if you have gluten sensitivity), etc. This is one of the biggest culprits to stubborn fat.
- Cut out refined sugar and minimize salt: yes, that means brown sugar too! All sugar is highly processed which means your body is going to have a hard time breaking it down and using it for anything positive in your body. Instead, opt to sweeten with pure raw honey, pure maple syrup, dates, applesauce or pure molasses (I think I’ve listed enough substitutes to leave you with no excuses). Again, moderation is extremely important here if you’re trying to get those abs you’ve always wanted. One tablespoon of honey a day, a couple of dates…you get the picture.
- EAT FAT: this is my favourite because most people are always scared of fatty foods. Good fat burns fat. If you limit your fat intake you won’t burn fat, it’s that simple. Cut out escalope and nachos but add in lots of salmon, nuts, avocados, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. Aim to consume about 30% of your daily caloric intake in good fats. Recommendations vary from 18-30% but I like to lean towards the higher end as long as you’re making sure they really are good (Physio is happy to provide a list of good fats to incorporate into your diet should you require it).
- Up your lean protein intake and minimize red meat: aim for about 20% of your diet. Good sources of protein are chicken breasts, white fish, salmon, tuna, beans, eggs, chia seeds, spinach, lentils, etc. The remaining 50% of your diet should be made up of complex carbohydrates (more vegetables than fruit, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, etc.). Complex carbs such as those listed will do wonders for your body and will help you feel satisfied. Pasta, cereal, rice and bread (when not 100% whole) are full of sugar and cannot be processed by your body. You can find so many healthier options out there now such as quinoa pasta, brown rice, brown rice pasta, etc. that will give you the same satisfaction without the sugar.
- Drink more water: aim for about 1.5 – 3 litres of water a day depending on your activity level. Add a few slices of cucumber, ginger, lemon/lime squeezed or slices, orange slices or throw in some berries and mint. Adding flavor to your water is a great way to stay hydrated and get some extra nutrients to help cleanse and revitalize your body.
- Believe it or not, one of the most important aspects in maintaining clean eating is actually allowing yourself a cheat day. It will help you maintain a balance and curb binge eating on other days. If you know the day is coming (the weekend is usually a good time to do it since most people eat out and have a few drinks) you can save the temptation for then and have yourself the dessert you want, the pizza you’ve been craving or the burger you’ve been dreaming about.
The catch is all the tips listed above are actually what we believe to be the type of lifestyle most people should aim to lead, not only those aiming for abs. However, if you’re after that flat stomach and follow the above tips coupled with an active lifestyle, you’re pretty much guaranteed one. We’ll have another post dedicated to a training regimen that will keep your body burning for days. Remember, if you’re stuck somewhere and can’t get a hold of anything healthy, if you have cravings and give in to them, if you’re bored and want a change, none of that is considered failure. Giving in to one bad meal doesn’t mean you have to continue down a negative spiral. If you dropped your phone on the floor and were lucky enough to only come away with a small scratch, would you then pick it up and smash it to a million pieces because it fell once? NO! And neither should you apply that mentality when it comes to your health. There will always be setbacks and once you embrace them, enjoy them and move forward down the chosen path of clean eating, you will never let them dictate your way of life. The food part has always been difficult for us here at Physio, but now we’re eating clean and training lean… Are you ready to do the same? *Stay tuned for some mean training tips.
Here’s a homemade granola recipe that you can have for breakfast with yogurt, milk, or simply as a granola bar:
- 200 g (2 cups / 7 oz ) rolled oats or raw buckwheat if gluten free
- 200 g (7 oz) raw almonds
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz) pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- zest from 1 orange
- 2 generous tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup, warmed
- 70 g (2 1/2 oz) dried cranberries or raisins
- 70 g (2 1/2 oz) organic dried apricots, sliced
Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F/Gas 1/2).
Combine oats or buckwheat if using + the almonds, pumpkin seed, cinnamon + orange zest.
Warm honey and vanilla until a pouring consistency is achieved (15 seconds)
Pour into the dry ingredients and mix through well until honey coats the oats and nuts.
Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper / silicone paper.
Divide the granola onto the trays and spread the mix out very thinly and evenly over one layer (note please don’t pile the granola very thick as it will not toast evenly and get soggy underneath).
Toast the muesli in a low 120 C fan forced oven for about 1 hour or until the grains and nuts go a lovely golden colour. Please be sure not to over cook and burn. If you don’t use a fan forced oven then toast at 150 C. making sure to check the muesli during the toasting time and giving it a light mix.
Cool on the trays until crunchy.
Add dried fruits.
Store in a sealed container to keep it fresh.
Tweak 6: They’re standing!, February 2014
‘Buy A Burpee Day’, brought to you by Physio and TD crossfit, was a HUGE success! We would like to thank everyone who believed in our cause and helped make this possible, thank all the athletes who played an instrumental part in making this event a big success and last but certainly not least thank Dr. Mohamed Salah and his team in collaboration with Dr. Nabil Fawzy for supporting us throughout and making this dream come true.
One step, one day, one burpee at a time we are working together to become a fitter, better, kinder Egypt. YOU made this happen. This is only the beginning of many great things to come. God bless you all
Waiting for you tomorrow!, January 2014
Tweak 5: Buy A Burpee Day,
This month is Physio’s first month back after a long break! Even though we were taking some time off, our brains were still ticking. Having had the luxury of working with awesome patients who were dedicated to make a come back and “tweak themselves” from their injuries, we were inspired, in a different kind of way. It got us thinking about the cases we don’t reach; those who were involved in accidents, small children who had lost limbs but couldn’t afford to get fitted for prosthetics. We started brainstorming about ways we could use our own healthy bodies to help those in need?
Hence, Buy a Burpee day was born. It is just that. Along with our friends (and Physio’s personal coaches) at Crossfit` Gezira Club, we are organizing a very special day where we will do burpees until we raise enough money to provide (at least 3) children with new limbs, get them fitted and follow up on them for the coming 12 months to make sure they’re getting along well with their new “equipment”.
Here’s what we need: Sponsors and bodies!
Donators will sponsor one of the three exercises we have decided upon: a burpee, a squat or a sit up – each of which costs an allotted amount (LE 10, 5, and 5 respectively). Once we have gathered all the donations, we will meet at the Gezira Sporting Club (host of the event) on January 31st and get the work done. Teams helping us with this include: BeFit, The WellnessLog, and Crossfit Engine38.
The money that is raised will pay for materials and fitting of a new prosthesis after the prosthetist and medical doctor have established that there are no other sources of funding available for the case.
We will personally deliver each limb to each child, make sure the fit is correct and monitor the children’s progress for the coming 12 months.
The beauty of this initiative is that we are promoting health and fitness awareness vis-à-vis a charity event which will benefit so many children. Most importantly we will do this in the place we all grew up in as children, a place we call home, The Gezira Sporting Club.
We hereby declare January 31st Buy a Burpee Day! We expect all of our patients to come help us drop a squat, do a sit up, or perform a burpee!
If you would also like to make a donation please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tweak 4: We’ve Got Your Back!, January 2014
I get at least three phone calls a week from patients saying the same thing: “Help! I can’t move, I threw my back out!” What exactly does that mean? The good news is that your back hasn’t gone anywhere as the saying implies. In fact, most acute back pain will heal within a couple of days of rest and appropriate care. That’s where this tweak comes in handy! Physio knows how many of you deal with acute back problems on a daily basis, so we’ve dedicated this to the overwhelming majority of you who experience this pain and need relief. *This tweakly will in no way replace a visit to your Physio, but we’ll give you our tried and tested tips and tricks to ease pain on until you manage to come in for the real Physio deal!
What could it be? Back pain is categorized in two ways; acute (injury, sudden, less than 3 months) or chronic (longer than 3 months). This article will focus on your acute back injury.
- Muscular pain: pain in the morning that is localized that responds when heat is applied is probably muscular. In this case, we suggest light stretching and moving, do not sit for long periods of time (especially if you have a desk job—get up every 15 mins take a walk around the office).
- Nerve pain: If the pain gets worse over the day and starts radiating down one or both legs it might be an impinged nerve. In this case, rest is the best acute option.
Physio’s top tips in curing acute back pain are:
- What do I do as soon as it happens (first line of action): Grab the ice (a pack of frozen peas is our pick) and keep it on the area for 20 minutes. Use ice for the first 48 hours, then switch to heat. Ice will make your back feel better after as it works to warm itself up while with heat, it feels good during and stiffens up after.
2. Rest: Lie down and rest your back (place a pillow under your knees), you may need to take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
3. Do not bend forward: once the injury has occurred, people automatically assume they should round their backs and stretch forward. This is absolutely wrong as all it will do is put more pressure on your disk.
4. Avoid bending and twisting at the same time (i.e. pulling laundry out of a washing machine, taking children out of their car sear, etc.). These types of movements strain the injured area even more. Instead, use your feet and bend your knees to take some of the pressure off of your back.
5. Strengthen your core! Your “core” actually consists of many different muscles which work to stabilize your spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle to create a solid base of support. Do this core-strengthening pelvic tilt 2 to 3 times per week: lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back on the surface you are on. Pull in your belly button toward your spine, contracting your abs; your pelvis should lift slightly off the floor. *we’ll have a whole tweakly dedicated to your core soon!
6. Ice and heat therapy: If you have injured your back acutely, apply an ice pack or a cold compress (a bag of peas or any frozen veggies does the job for us!) to the tender spot several times a day for up to 20 minutes. After 2 to 3 days of cold treatment, apply a heat pack for brief periods to relax back muscles and increase blood flow. Warm baths may also help relax muscles.
7. Massage therapy: combined with physiotherapy, massage therapy can reduce pain, relax muscle spasms, and reduce stress and related back pain symptoms.
8. Happy feet: never underestimate the need for good shoes! Comfortable and low to the ground is the way to go (ladies, time to give your high heels a break).
9. Posture: take breaks to unload the structures of the back, straighten up (decrease pressure). We like to say: “chin in, chest out, belly button to the spine, and don’t hold your breath!”
10. Stretching: believe it or not, stretching the leg muscles can actually correct posture and decrease stress and chances of injuring the back.
11. Vitamin K: it’s believed that the vitamin found in broccoli, spinach, and other dark leafy greens helps calcium deposit in the bones, making them denser.
12. The perfect pillow: Your pillow shouldn’t raise your head out of alignment with your spine. How to tell: If you’re a back sleeper, your chin shouldn’t press into your chest. If you’re a side sleeper, it shouldn’t curve up toward your shoulder.
Doctor’s have been turning to injection therapy more and more over the years, be it cortisone, liquid ibuprofen, morphine or vitamin B12. It (sometimes) provides you with instant pain relief, however, the pain will eventually start to resurface, and what will you do then? That’s right, you’ll go back to the doctor for that feel good injection. More and more research is pointing to complications arising from these injections, and pointing towards alternative treatments for this type of pain which can be longer-lasting and more effective.
We at Physio believe in a holistic approach to treatment, meaning we treat not only the part that hurts but anything else we believe to be the cause of your pain. Mental stress can be a major cause of any physical pain, therefore it’s important to be aware of any life changes that have happened that may be causing this. Every one of us is made up differently therefore we hold our stress in different places in our bodies. You may find that you’re the type that has stomach problems when things go wrong, or you may get headaches when you have too much on your mind, and many of us tend to hold our stress in our back. The first step to relieving your problems is awareness. Once we are aware of the issues in our life, we can work on solving them, and hence solving all negative symptoms associated with them. It’s a long process and will never happen overnight, but it’s important to try to heal ourselves through self-awareness and using natural remedies before turning to the easiest and immediate pain reliever.
Tweak 3: The Golden Oldies, November 2013
*This tweak is dedicated to the growing number of senior citizens who have been tweaking themselves with and at Physio, proving that you’re never too old to tweak yourself.
“Youth is wasted on the young”. Oscar Wilde was spot on when he said that. As we get older, we of course get wiser, but that wisdom comes easy. It comes with simply living and experiencing this world every day. But what if we pushed our boundaries, what if we tried to also get fitter? What if we tried to better our health and fitness with every year of age? I guarantee you it’s possible. This is not to say that we should be able to run a faster kilometer, lift a heavier dumbbell, climb a higher mountain, but to simply continuously work on our minds and our bodies to age gracefully. Most importantly, we want to become self-aware in order to help heal our aches and pains or even prevent them where possible.
As it stands, adults aged 65 and older spend an average of 10 or more hours every day sitting or lying down. This makes their age group the most sedentary of all. Higher rates of inactivity directly correlate to higher rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic illnesses. Here at Physio, we want to keep you playing with your grandchildren, carrying your groceries, meeting up with friends and enjoying leisurely activities you always enjoyed.
So what’s the secret? In two simple words: keep moving! As a starting point, any form of physical activity is a positive step, however Physio recommends you keep it to a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 days or more a week. Walking, playing doubles tennis, using the stairs instead of the elevator, swimming, gardening, are just a few of many activities that count towards your 90 minutes a week. Shopping, cooking, daily household chores, etc. do not count towards your 90 minutes as these are not enough to get your heart rate up to where it needs to be pushed. Your 90 minutes of pushing your limit a week will get you doing the latter activities with ease.
Of course, eating right is another integral part of staying healthy as you age. Here at Physio we have tailor-made plans for you to follow in order to stay energized, healthy and satisfied throughout your day. Every client is different, and that’s why it’s important to focus on your likes and dislikes, allergies, medical conditions if you have any, and preferences when advising you on what to eat.
Lastly, we at Physio like to remind you that staying fit and healthy doesn’t only mean keeping your body feeling great, but also keeping your mind alert. We encourage reading two books a month, doing any kind of puzzle once a day (crosswords, Sudoku, etc.) and finding a new hobby to keep busy (volunteering, writing a book, etc.). We are also big advocates of eating right for your brain. Folate, vitamins E and C, and Omega-3s are all found in foods that you should be eating on a daily basis to help keep your mind healthy too.
One of Physio’s favourite books is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. This incredible author said “A century ago, life screwed that poor man and me because we were too young, and now they want to do the same thing because we are too old.”
…Don’t let them!
Tweak 2: Ice, Ice Baby!, November 2013
Over the years, medical professionals have used warm (thermotherapy) and cold (cryotherapy) therapy interchangeably. Many clients tend to be resistant to the idea of icing their aches and pains. Growing up, most of us were taught to apply heat to any injuries and sore muscles. Our intuition tells us heat soothes and relaxes whereas cold makes us shiver and tense up. While for the most part this is true, it’s important to know when and how to use each modality.
So what’s happening under the surface when you have an injury? It’s important to understand this so you can understand the debate and controversy around ice or heat, and hopefully learn to heal yourself. When you get injured, the tissue in that area of your body become inflamed and swell, hence take up more space and create pressure and friction in the area. Blood flow begins to increase in the area as well as fluid retention, causing the injury to feel warm and inflamed. Enter ICE – for the first 48 hours post injury. What the ice does is it provides immediate pain-relief and limits the swelling by reducing the blood flow to the injured area. As the swelling reduces the friction in the tissue reduces, leaving you with a greater range of motion and less pain in the area. A good rule of thumb when icing is to keep the cold compress on the area for 15 minutes and then remove it until the skin has warmed up again. This can be done many times a day. Let’s not forget that ICE plays a role in acute injury treatment method RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate).
Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind when self-treating:
- ICE injuries or pain that is less than 24 hours old, or any injury that continues to produce swelling
- Heat promotes muscle relaxation and is best used on postural muscles like those along the lower back, mid-back and neck
- When heat it is applied over an area of acute injury, active inflammation or swelling can get worse, as heat causes vasodilatation (opening of the small blood vessels), the opposite of ice
- Ice causes a longer-lasting effect on the circulation than heat, and the painkilling properties of ice are deeper and longer-lasting than heat.
After many trials, we found that ice works best in most cases, not only as an analgesic but also as an anti-inflammatory. So when in doubt – ICE ICE BABY!
Tweak 1: A Revolutionary Tweak, October 2013
We’ve all had life changing realizations. Those moments you can trace back to in life where you vowed to make a change and stuck with it. Tweaking yourself is just that. A series of moments that have lead to a fine-tuned, air-brushed, copy-paste-edited version of yourself.
A healthy revolution has hit Egypt. People are going through massive emotional, mental and physical change. Whatever camp you find yourself in, you’re surely feeling the effects of the Egyptian Revolution in one way or another. Physio was born out of a desire to help heal people and treat the whole as opposed to merely the parts that hurt, hence tweaking. Ironically, the last layers of fresh paint were being rolled onto our walls during the revolution, when the future of the country looked bleak. We can’t help but draw parallels to the Egyptian Revolution, and how patience is key in achieving one’s ultimate goals. Every small problem, inconsistency, pain, flaw, must be dealt with utmost attention and detail, to make sure that all surrounding branches are affected positively. Much like the revolution, you have many different schools of thought. No one way is right, but by combining the best forms of treatment after close scrutiny of the problem, the outcome will surely be positive.
What we aim to provide you with these tweaklies are informative, fun and in our opinion necessary tips in order to start with these small changes we all need to make. One tweakly at a time, you’ll find at least 36 positive changes you’ve made by this time next year. It may be getting harder to get to that exercise class you wanted to get to, to cook a healthy meal without being able to find the ingredients you need, to avoid taking your car to places you would have usually walked to. But none of what’s happening in the country should hinder the work you continuously have to do on yourself. Your tweakly will provide you with alternative ways to get your heart pumping those few extra beats it needs a day. Your tweakly will help you get all the nutrients you need without having to look too far. Your tweakly will get you cooking healthier meals without sacrificing taste. Your tweakly will ultimately compliment the treatments provided at Physio, providing you with the holistic approach we truly believe in.
The definition of a revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system; a dramatic change in the way something works. Through focus, criticism and self-awareness we can all revolutionize our health, one tweak at a time.