Tuesday, 27 May 2014

10 Tips on Building a Winning Mindset.

Thoughts about my upcoming school reunion are taking up way too much real estate in my head space.  Almost 40 years on and the assorted memories (both positive and negative) are as fresh as daises in spring time, even though the season is autumn both in nature and in my life (middle age).   I’m wondering if any of my previous class mates will recognise me after the ravages of time and child rearing have taken their toll on my face and body. The other biggy, is will they ask the dreaded question – “What have you done with your life?”  In real speak – Are you a winner or loser in the lottery called life? 

I’m not sure why I’m letting this worry me.  Other people’s opinion does not define who I am.  Also, we will have all aged, some more gracefully than others, but our outer body is not a true reflection of who we are and what we have made of life’s journey.  As for success – it is a subjective thing. It can only be defined by what is important to you and in relation to a particular point in time.  The most important question we should all ask ourselves is – are we content with our life right now and see ourselves as successful?  If yes, then we should pat ourselves on the back and celebrate; if no, then we should be asking why not and what am I going to do about it?   Going for Gold on Goal Setting outlines my current change quest.

How do you define success?  There are countless answers to this question, but they all boil down to whether you define success as impressing yourself:: that is you’re contented, feel fulfilled and experience love. Or impressing others: that is – you have fame, status, money or top of the career ladder or have an assortment of big boys/girls toys.   It’s a judgment call made by you or about you.   We get to decide though, whose option we value - our own or other peoples. The choice is ours whether we see ourselves as winners or losers.

An old proverb says:
“As a man thinks in his heart so he is”

Success or failure is not an event, it is a process. It is the end result of thoughts and attitudes that have been processed on a daily basis. It is not external, but rather an internal reality.  Attitude determines whether an event is an opportunity or obstacle or a mountain or a molehill. When you build a positive attitude you are consciously making a choice to live on the bright side of life and you literally build a better day. 

Some tips for Building a Winning Mindset:

  1. Focus on the things that really matter to you – live your dreams  
  2. Take control of your life and plan for the future.  Life is not a dress rehearsal – you only get one chance so make each day count.
  3. Act like a winner and celebrate the small steps you make each day towards your goals
  4. Take ownership of the choices you make including the decision not to choose. Choices no chances determine our destiny.  Tomorrow is determined by the decisions and choices of today.
  5.  Don’t blame yourself or others when things don’t go as expected. The blame game distracts you from learning from mistakes. It’s also prevents you  from moving forward.
  6. Educate your Attitude and see the potential, not the problem. We cannot always control the circumstances but we can control our response to them.
  7. Let go of past hurts and losses – You cannot possess the future until you let go of the past. Anger, resentment etc eat up your energy and keep you from moving forward.  
  8. Invest time and energy in supportive relationships: “When others see through you a friend will see you through. When you make a mistake others will rub it in, a friend will rub it out”. ( Building for Success, Gray, M. The Winners Choice, 200, p.70)
  9.  Practice developing a “spirit of generosity”: We live in a society that encourages individualism and consumerism.  It’s all about us and about now.  But in life sowing always precedes reaping. If you want to receive you first have to give of yourself.
“A champion’s life is often short lived, and trophies are no substitute in the end for a shared commitment to something beyond oneself”
(Charles Handy is a writer, broadcaster and lecturer)

10.  Relish the journey – Life is meant to be full of Joy
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy,
I awoke and saw that life was service
I acted and behold – service was joy”
(Rabindranath Tagore - Indian Poet)
Do you celebrate all your victories, even the small ones?  I'd like you to think of all your accomplishments.  It might be easier to make a list of a few major ones, but what about all those little successes that add up to a happy life? . Do you have a family? Do you love them? Do you help your neighbour or volunteer in the community? Do you service your clients well at work. There is plenty to be proud of. . Revel in your accomplishments.  Be your own cheer squad. Big wins might be thrilling but a winning mindset is built on the thousand of little successes we achieve each and every day.  So at the reunion I will hold my head high and be proud of who I am and the life I am leading right now.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Does coffee assist with weight loss?

One of the best aromas in the whole wide world is fresh ground black coffee.  I love to wake up in the morning to the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee.  Yes, this is a great way to start the day or is it?  If you browse the recent literature, you'll find over 19,000 studies examining the various benefits and downsides of ingesting caffeine. If you Google it there is a massive amount of information on both the positives and negatives health impacts of drinking one of Australia and the world, for that matters, favourite drink. Protective health benefits include reducing the risks of diabetes, stroke, some forms of cancer, mental illness, and overall mortality. If you’re interested in finding our more about the pros and cons in regards to your health then have a look at the Coffineinformer web page

I enjoy a variety of coffee types including peculated and instant. I enjoy it so much I have several cups a day. The thing is I've been wondering whether or not this habit is having a negative impact on my weight loss and fitness goals for the year.  (If you haven’t been following me then take a look at my blog Going of Gold on Goal  Setting and other posts.) In an endeavor to find I have again turned to some Women's Health magazines and my good friend Google.  

A closer examination of the information revealed the following:

Weight Loss


  1. Decreases Appetite: Research currently being conducted at the Griffith University’s Centre for Health Practice Innovation is finding that study participants are reporting decreased appetite when drinking regular coffee as opposed to decaf or caffeine tablets as part of an ongoing study. Drinking coffee during the afternoon or after dinner can help to reduce cravings for snacks or sweets, by filling the stomach and suppressing the appetite, without the addition of calories.
  2. Boosts Metabolism: Coffee might stimulate your metabolism by increasing your rate of thermogenesis (how your body burns calories to create heat and energy). However, this is only a slight increase and studies have not shown it to have a very large effect on weight loss. Also ingesting caffeine jumpstarts the process of lipolysis, which is when your body releases free fatty acids into the bloodstream. This occurs when your body is breaking down your fat stores to convert it into energy. In other words, caffeine boosts your metabolism sightly and helps you burn fat.
  3. Low in Calories: A cup of black coffee contains 5.4 calories and it is also known as a calorie free drink. 
  4. Coffee is a diuretic:  Coffee is often claimed to be a diuretic.  Some people are heavy due to  excess water content in their body. Drinking black coffee reduces high water content as it eliminates the unwanted waste water and fluid accumulation in the body through urination. A significant number diet pills are high in caffeine.


  1. Increase in stress hormones: A new book by Eugene Wells’s, titled The Decaf Diet, based on recent research suggests that drinking coffee, tea or caffeinated diet beverages can cause you to pile on the pounds. According to Wells, when we drink coffee, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol — the same chemical that we produce when we’re stressed or scared. This increases blood sugar levels, and it’s this that is turned into fat. He cites a U.S. study that suggests if cortisol is raised for a prolonged period, the body also relocates fat deposits from other parts straight to the abdomen. You end up with what Wells calls ‘coffee belly’.

The recommended daily limit of caffeine is 400mg and there is up to 94mg of caffeine in one cup of coffee. Therefore, the moderate coffee connoisseur will consume 3-4 cups/day providing 300-400 mg/day of caffeine)

The amount of caffeine in a particular coffee drink depends on the brew and beverage size:
·         Restaurant espresso (1 oz.) 40-75 mg
·         Instant coffee (8 oz.) 27-173 mg
·         Typical brewed coffee (8 oz.) 95-200 mg
·         McDonald's brewed coffee (16 oz.) 100 mg
·         Starbucks brewed coffee (16 oz.) 330 mg
Source: Mayo Clinic

How many mg are you consuming each day and is it giving you a coffee belly?  I consume on average around 500mg/day and switch to Decafe coffee after lunch as caffeine interferes with my indigestion and sleep patterns. Might have to reconsider my total intake of coffee after all. 
  1.  Caffeine interacts with some medications, Studies show that drugs like antidepressants, thyroid medication and osteoporosis drugs can be affected by coffee.  Also interfere with absorption of the antibiotic Cipro and the heartburn drug Tagamet. In my case, I take thyroxime, and I will need to ensure that I delay my first cuppa for the day  for ½ hour after taking my medication. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about whether coffee can interact with your medication. With some drugs, you may need to take your pills with water and wait awhile to have that cup of coffee.  With others, drinking decaf or cutting back on your coffee habit may be in order.
  2. Coffee Plus: Coffee itself has very few calories and no fat, but people rarely drink it without something added to modify the taste. Even a shot of flavoured syrup can add calories to a coffee, and some of the more creamy and elaborate concoctions can have as many calories as an entire meal. Milk and cream are also very high in saturated fat, which not only contributes calories but is also dangerous for your health. Plus, there’s also the ‘little treats’ we have with coffee such as biscuits or a sugary breakfast.
  3. Caffeine Use Disorder: Coffee is on of Australia and America’s favourite drugs with millions using it to jump start their day, including me. It is an addictive substance that many people associate with increased energy and alertness. However, over time, many of us we find ourselves having more and more of it and at some point, many people, find they can’t quit even if they want to or if they had to for other health reasons ( pregnancy, or  heart condition).  Anyone who's ever quit cold turkey knows it can trigger pounding headaches, mental fuzziness and fatigue for a couple of days until the body adjusts. Researchers have named the condition “Caffeine Use Disorder,” which characterizes people who find it difficult to quit to the point it interferes with their daily routine. Caffeine is so socially acceptable that people’s unreasonable dependencies often slide under the radar. (Caffeine dependence was even named as a new mental disorder this year.) http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/



  1. Reduces post workout pain: The University of Georgia has found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can reduce post-workout pain by up to 48%.
  2. Increase performance during exercise: A cup of coffee will increase your performance and endurance during training and boost muscle recovery afterwards (Women’s Health magazine 2011).  A little shot of caffeine can give you the energy you need to give 100% during your workout. And giving 100% in the gym means you'll get the results you want more quickly.Ensure you drink coffee an hour or so before a workout as the acid coupled with the agitation from exercise may lead to an upset stomach.


  1. Dehydration. The caffeine in coffee is a mild diuretic and can increase urine excretion. To stay hydrated and keep your stomach fuller, drink a cup of water for every cup of coffee you drink. More if you are exercising or if it’s hot, humid condition
  2. Bone Loss: Caffeine potentially leads to some spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women if they typically drink more than three cups, or 300 mg of caffeine, a day, but don't get enough calcium in their diet. Counter act this with increase in vitamin intake .


After considering all the pros and cons it seems that caffeine may slightly boost weight loss or prevent weight gain, but there's no sound evidence that increased caffeine consumption results in significant or permanent weight loss. The bottom line: Make sure you are staying within the healthy range of use  (400 milligrams or less) . Also keep in mind that some caffeinated beverages, such as specialty coffees, are high in calories and fat. So instead of losing weight, you might actually gain weight if you drink too many of these. 

So, it looks like i'll have to make a few changes to my coffee consumption, especially around how it impacts on my medication.  Also, because a love a milky coffee (no sugar) I know I'm consuming more calories in my beverages than I originally thought. So it looks like i'll have to cut down on my intake somehow (either number of cups or amount of milk in each cup). 

I'd love to hear from you with any hits or tips on how to make the most of your coffee habit. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Not loosing weight at the gym: 7 solutions to common pitfalls

Been going to the gym for what seems like ever but your have not lost weight or changed body shape!  I know a number of people who fit this description. They religiously attend a set number of gym classes (eg Monday aerobics, Tuesday Pilates etc), on set days for  a duration of 60 minute per session almost every week  of the year but are still overweight and out of shape.  It seems to be a paradox really -  regular exercise but not weight loss, increased muscle tone or fitness level.  How could this be the case? 

Common mistakes that reduce the effectiveness of your gym workout. 

I know form my own experience there could be several contributing factors. These are:
  1. Social Outing - The gym visit has become a social outing by proxy: the attendee meets up with  like minded gym attendees who have a similar view.  Lots of time is spent walking on a treadmill at low speed to enable maximum talking time.  
  2. Increased Food Consumption - Gym class is followed by a social visit to the coffee shop where the attendees reward their hard effort with a latte and carrot cake ( kidding themselves this is a healthy option compared to the slice of chocolate mud cake).   The other mistake is following the exercise class your appetite is elevated which can inadvertently lead to the consumption of high carbohydrate/calorie foods. 
  3. Same work  out different days - While it can be comforting to perform the same routine each time your go to the gym, particularly if your unco like me, your muscles adapt to the exercise and you're  likely to reach a plateau. 
  4. Cardio but no strength training - Women tend to avoid free weights and the weight machines in the gym fearing they will develop large muscles 
  5. No workout plan-
    Just going to the gym and using what ever machine or equipment is available means your workout is probably all over the place and missing the aim all together. Half the time your are probably standing around doing nothing.
  6. Lack of intensity in the workout -Do you see your gym time as the perfect way to catch up on your reading? Are you leaning on the machines? in addition, most big gyms tend to have a series of TVs all around. It is easy to get in the mode of just watching them and lose complete focus of the workout. Same goes for using your mobile phone while walking on the treadmill or exercise bike.  Some people are just going through the motions, even though they may look like they’re working out. They think that as long as they’re moving, they’re going to lose weight, but if the intensity is not at the level that it needs to be at, it’s almost a waste of time.
  7. Timeout - After vigorous exercise at the gym some people spend the rest of the day on the couch in front of the TV or performing minimal incidental exercise.  


Buddy Up:  Ask someone who has a similar goal and commitment to improving their fitness to be your exercise buddy. You can provide each other with encouragement and motivation.  In addition, you can help each other stay focused and on track.

Diet and ExerciseWhile your body does need some extra carbohydrates post workout, throwing a sugar and calorie bomb in your body is not ideal and not helpful. People tend to consume more calories in general, following a gym session in the mistaken belief they can get away with it as they do exercise. Unfortunately it’s not the case for most of us.  For best results combine your exercise with a balanced healthy diet and weight loss program. (Diet tends to be the major aspect of weight loss rather than exercise alone).

Mix it Up :  Keep your  body guessing by mixing up the equipment you use and the order of the exercises you do. Also try out new fitness classes, and work different body parts on different days. It'll not only challenge your muscles, but you'll get a more effective workout, which translates to a leaner, more sculpted body. Try upping the stakes a bit. Increase the weights you are using or introduce new exercises. Interval kind of training tends to provide variety and intensity so why not give it a go. You could still be working the same muscles but with a different exercise. If you are the type to go for a run instead of the gym then try a different route or try introducing some side stepping/running, stop on the side to do a couple of squats or a couple of arm exercises. Why not have one day of doing some resistance instead of going for a run. You can do as much in your living room as in a gym. This will also improve your running and provide variety and challenge.

Strength Training: A good fitness program should incorporate one to two strength training sessions per week. Strength training can reduce overall body fat since muscle burns more calories than fat. And don't forget the after burn: after an hour-long strength training session, the average woman burns an extra 100 calories over the next 24 hours. But if you're lifting weights that are too light than you're not building muscle mass effectively. You'll know your weights are heavy enough when your muscles fatigue after 10 to 12 reps. The same goes for strength training moves like push-ups or crunches—do enough reps to feel the burn.  Make suer you use good form. Check yourself in a mirror or meet with a personal trainer because if you're doing the moves incorrectly, like using momentum instead of your muscle strength, it can lead to injury and not getting as good a workout as possible.
 A Workout Plan: Some experts advocate that a short high intensity workout may be as good as or even better than long medium intensity workouts. If in doubt have get the assistance of a personal trainer to devise a workout plan that meets your fitness goals, then stick to the plan  in terms of what you doing, how long and in what intensity.

Focus: If you've paid your gym membership and your goal is to get firm and fit then make that your focus (otherwise you've wasted your money).  You don’t need an expensive gym membership to socialize, watch TV or read your favourtie magazine (this includes social media).   Whether at home or at the gym avoid the TV stations and leave your mobile phone in your locker or room. Concentrate on putting maximum effort into your exercise routine. That way you will maximise the return in calories burnt and fitness gained.

Sustain Activity: A gym session should only be part of your health and fitness regime.  If you go home and become a lounge lizard for the rest of the day then you have either overdone it or reduced the effectiveness of the workout.  Incidental activities like vacuuming, cleaning and gardening all contribute to your overall activity level and calorie burn. Other activities could include a regular sporting activity or yoga session. Also, following your gym session make sure you reflect on and record the progress you've made towards your fitness goals to keep you motivated.   
Finally remember the any exercise is better than none.  If you are happy with what you are doing - then just keep doing it.  Have a great workout.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fall back into Fitness : Autumn fitness Tips

Oops! We’ve come to a fork in the road. With autumn temperatures dropping to below 0 degrees Celsius in some parts of the Darling Downs (the area where I live), summer seems to be a distant memory that has been packed away with my shorts and sandals.   At this time of year, as we pull out the flannelette sheets, “tracky dacks”, and Ugg boots, we need to ask ourselves:

  • Will we slack off on exercise because we’ve put away the swimmers?
  •  Will we eat whatever we want because we can hide behind big, cold weather clothes?
  •   will we use the excuse of no time for outdoor activities to turn us into an autumn crop of couch potatoes?
  •  Or will we use this as an opportunity to get into better shape than ever so we can blossom come spring time?

If you’re a lizard like me, your blood flow and metabolism (along with any movement) is slowing down to a crawl in this cold weather. So how can we get moving and motivated this autumn. Believe it or not, this is supposed to be one of the best seasons to workout. Why you might ask? Here are just a few of the reasons:
·         Training in the chill has been shown to burn fat faster, which is exactly what we want! Our body works harder to maintain a constant temperature, and thus it has to burn more calories!
·         We sweat a little less in the cooler weather which means we are able to do more without the added stress and hindrance of the heat. We also feel more energized after working out.
·         The cold, clear crisp days stimulate our senses along with vibrant colour of the trees and leaves.  A fresh feeling to invigorate a renewed commitment to our diet and exercise program.

So use this season to your advantage by following some of my tips for developing a fitness routine this autumn.
  1. Set specific goals: Success comes by knowing what you want to achieve. Set your goals and remind yourself of them frequently. Your goals don’t have to be competition-oriented, they can be as simple as flatten you stomach or being able to touch your toes. Regardless of the goal, make sure to write them down and pin them up on the fridge, or anywhere else you will be able to see it every day. Reminding yourself of your target will help keep you on track. In fact, scientific research has actually proven that people who pre-plan a weight loss program and WRITE DOWN their goals, succeed 90 percent of the time, as opposed to non-planners who succeed less than 10 percent of the time. It takes about 30 days to cement a new habit into your routine. Stick with your fitness plan for this month, and you will be on your way to staying fit through the cooler months.
  2. Dress appropriately. Dress in layers of clothing with a synthetic layer closest to your body to keep you cool. Remember to cover your hands and head. If you are planning to exercise after dark, wear light coloured clothing and make sure your bike has a light or reflectors attached. 
  3. First warm up:  
    No matter what the temperature is outside, ensure you warm your body up first for at least 5-10 minutes. Many people injure themselves because they don’t take the time to get their body moving and ready for exercise. The colder the temperature the longer you should warm up your body before any strenuous activity. After your exercise routine is completed performing some stretches and cooling down is also important
  4. Get outdoors:  This is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor exercise activities with the cool, clear mornings making it more comfortable than the summer heat. The crisp air will keep your body temperature down so you’ll stay cooler longer while walking, jogging or playing your preferred sport.  Set yourself up for success by finding a close and convenient exercise location to your workplace or home (a park or gym). If you find it too difficult to get out from under the covers, than check out your local parks or bike routes during your lunch break. You can continue other activities, like swimming, by finding a great indoor heated pool.
  5.   Join a gym: If heading outside after the temperature dips doesn't appeal to you, you can take the more traditional route and join a gym. The scenery on the stationary bike may not compare to a beautiful local park, but there are other advantages: you can read or watch TV instead. The free weights and weight machines available at the gym will help you get a great full-body workout, and if tennis is your thing, you might consider switching to squash– most gyms have courts and rackets available for rent.
  6. Plan ahead. Eliminate any excuse you may have for skipping a workout by having a gym bag packed and in your car at all times. Set a specific time that you will exercise each day and stick to it. Know your exercise location ahead of time. 
  7. Make use of Waiting time: Take advantage of your child's sports team or exercise class by walking the perimeter of the court or do lunges and push-ups next to your bench (instead of just sitting on the bench). If your daughter does a ballet or gymnastic class perhaps they offer an adult class at the same time.  Look for ways to get up and moving while you wait.
  8. Work out at Home:  
     Make TV time your fitness time. Turn your regular TV viewing time into fitness routine time. Bring your home fitness equipment (stability ball, bands, dumbbells, stationary bike) into the TV room. Complete a full fitball workout while you watch, or use the commercials to blast away calories with some weight training exercises or ab workout.   b) Check out fitness DVDs at the local library. If you find a workout you like you can pursue the DVD and any additional equipment you might need.  I find this convenient and practical for those really miserable days when outdoors is out of the question. c) Set up a small home gym with a few pieces of equipment. Any combination of an exercise mat, a stability ball, dumbbells, exercise bands, and a medicine ball is a great start.   
  9.  Work out with a Buddy: Being accountable to someone helps you roll out of bed on those dark mornings. You are not the only one who could benefit from a fitter lifestyle this autumn.  Encourage a family member or friend to join you for a hike, bike ride, or even a fitness class. Motivation stays higher with an exercise partner and you can both encourage each other to continue towards your goal.  If you can’t temp family or friends then take “man’s best friend” – .  You’ll both benefit and have fun at the same time.
  10. Stock up on in-season, fresh produce:  Each season features a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits that our bodies need for sustained health. Educate yourself on what is in season and how to best use it in autumn friendly meals and recipes. Produce such as apples, pumpkins (and pumpkin seeds!), pears, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips– all the things you need to make a healthy stew, salad or casserole. Bonus - you’ll not only save money and consume the essential vitamins and nutrients but have a delicious, healthful meal waiting at home after your workout.