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Carolyn’s Workout Diary: Relaxation

Entering the third week of her six-week Refinery programme to shed some extra kilos and learn how to keep them off, MiNDFOOD associate editor Carolyn Enting discovers belly breathing and relaxation are more keys to the weight loss puzzle.

Carolyn’s Workout Diary: Relaxation

Lying down on the job is something Gaz Brown of GetRunning Ltd normally doesn’t do so I was little surprised the other morning at our weekly Refinery group catch up when he suddenly took to the floor.

Gaz is doing the Refinery alongside us too so I wondered if maybe he was feeling faint after giving up his beloved chocolate but turns out he was about to show us another exercise to add to our programme – belly breathing.

According to Gaz, and sports and exercise nutritionist Sarah Sinclair, belly breathing can make a huge difference to our digestive system as well as our whole exercise experience. So our challenge this week is to complete 10 belly breaths each morning upon waking, and focusing on this during our runs.

Seeing Gaz lying on the floor instantly caused a few smiles though later those looks turned to concentration.

“The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle between your lungs and abdomen and when it gets a bit tight our breathing becomes more shallow,” Gaz says. “When running the importance of drawing a long breath can help from having the stitch through to getting your breathing pattern right.”

Placing a book on his stomach to demonstrate the correct way to belly breathe, Gaz takes a series of deep breaths, the book rises on each inhalation.

“Most people raise the chest when they inhale but the correct way is to breathe down and out so that your abdomen moves outwards,” he says.

The other challenge we’ve been given this week – in addition to keeping a food diary, eating whole foods, consuming less than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams in all food consumed, and exercising four to five times a week – is to eliminate one item of stress per day, and record how we did it.

“We are all victims of stress and constantly are operating in a ‘flight or fight’ mode’. Unfortunately our bodies are not designed for long term constant stress,” explains Sarah. “We are supposed to get away (run) from that stressful situation and move into what is called the ‘resting and digesting’ mode. This is when your body recovers and strengthens. When you are under stress you adrenal glands produce cortisol and adrenaline to assist you in your fight or flight. With all that cortisol and adrenaline being circulated from stress you start to affect how your adrenals function and this interferes with your thyroid, liver, digestive system and hormones. This can lead to fatigue, weight gain, depression, allergies, joint pain, headaches, cause bloating, indigestion, and other irritable bowel problems, and affect your blood sugar.”

Okay, when you put it that way we really do need to take a look at stressors in our lives and work out how we can reduce or eliminate them.

How shall I eliminate one item of stress today? Now that is a tough one. Think I’ll start with going to bed early rather than struggling to stay awake to get more things done. Oh, and I’m going to take a book to bed. It’s something I usually only do on holiday and it makes me feel relaxed and happy when I do, and it helps me to fall asleep!

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