The arrival of winter. A look back at the summer of 2018.

The weather has finally turned colder here in the UK. Unlike the majority of people I know, the winter is actually my favourite season. I love the cold, misty mornings; snow is the greatest thing ever and I even love the slight smell you get when the heating is on. All that being said, I have attempted to enjoy the warmer weather we have had this year. After all, summer has got its good points, for one, everybody else loves it and cricket, cricket is ace.

Below is a selection of photographs looking back over my summer 2018.

Body composition, not weight, is the key.

All the time these days you hear about the issue society has with weight, how obesity is a huge and growing problem. It is undoubtedly true that this is an issue, and one that has a effect on all of us, even if not directly. Using weight is not the best metric when focusing on this. Body composition is a much more important indicator of what is going on in your body. The issue with using measuring weight is that lean, metabolism boosting muscle actually weighs more than fat. Therefore losing weight may actually mean that you are loosing muscle mass, possibly even actually increase your body fat percentage while your weight is going down.
Having lean muscle is known to have a heap of benefits, but this does not mean that you should focus solely on having as little fat as possible. Body composition is effectively a measure of the amount of lean muscle compared to fat in your body. Keeping your body fat percentage in the healthy range for your age and gender should be the primary focus of your diet/exercise regime. Don’t focus on losing weight, focus on having the correct body composition.
One of the most commonly used methods for checking body fat composition is called bio electrical impedance. This is usually measure using smart scales that send electrical impulses through the soles of your feet and see how fast these impulses return. There are more accurate devices, usually found at gyms that also send impulses through your hands.
Other ways of measuring body composition include body fat calipers, devices that grab the fat around your waist and work out a percentage from that. Hydro-static weighing, this has you weighed both in and out of water. The fat floats, so your weight will change while submersed, this is then used to calculate composition.
Now you know that weight is not the most important body metric to keep track of.

RED January 2019 – In support of the mental health charity Mind.

Following on from completing RED January 2018, I will again be running every day in January 2019 in support of Mind UK. In January 2018 I set and achieved the target of completing 150km of running across the month. Next year I am aiming to hit 200km in support of this worthy cause.

As I mentioned in my post on completing 2018’s edition of RED January, the work Mind and other mental health charities from across the word do is so important. For anyone who has suffered from any mental heath condition, whether diagnosed or not, the support offered by organisations like Mind is priceless. I personally feel it is so important to continue to raise awareness of mental health to help remove the stigma attached to it, and to enable those suffering that it is okay to talk about their problems.

For more information on RED January and to read about the great work done by Mind UK click here: Mind UK – RED JanuaryRED_Jan2019_TFrontRED_Jan2019_TRev.

To make a donation to Mind, and sponsor me while I hit the pavement in January 2019 clike here: Just Giving – RED January

Creating a stess reducing playlist

The effects of music on the brain are well known and have been documented by scientists for years. Listening to music is known to activate our whole brains, so the potential for it to modify our moods is great.

By thoughtfully selecting music, you can create playlists that will allow you to combat stress, evoke positive emotions, increase relaxation as well as many other positve benefits. The starting point is to determine what your current state of mind is and what you would like to acheive instead. Using this goal, it is important to gradually build in the change, starting with songs that empathise with your current mood; before slowly building towards your goal.

Using familiar music is a good place to start here. Songs that you are used to listening to will evoke certain emotional responses based on your previous associations with them. Memories are stimulated by music, therefore we can be transported back in time in an instant through music. Based on your ideas of songs that you know have a certain impact on your mood, suppliment them with songs that have similar characteristics.

One important thing is to never use music you don’t like. This is only going to have a negative impact on your mood. If, after creating your playlist, you find you don’t react the way you intended to a certain piece of music, remove it.

If you are using music to try to relax, consider using instrumental music. When listening to songs with lyrics, we use a lot of our brains trying to process these lyrics. Lyrics can also increase the stimulation of memories which may not be what you want when trying to relax.

The most important thing is to trust your own music intuaition. You will have almost certainly discovered songs in the past that make you cry, or ones that motivate you to push a little bit harder while exercising. If this is the case then you are already aware of the huge impact that music can have on your brain. Trust in this knowledge and you will be able to harness the power of music to cmobat stress, improve your motivation or help you relax.