XPERT: SENSE OF SMELL

The sense of smell is one of the most powerful links to memories. It triggers emotions that bring back happy and sad memories from various walks of life. From a young age, Joanne’s daughter had severe eczema. As a mother, you go through all measures to find a solution for your child. She tried chinese medicine, western medicine, anything that you can digest or rub onto your body. Her daughter reacted to the remedies with fevers, aches, coughs… nothing worked. Joanne spent majority of her time researching and looking into what’s available in the market as a cure. She came across essential oils and her life changed. 

At that point in her life, Joanne was willing to try anything that was not evasive nor harmful to the body. Essential oils that you can stomach in your body, means that it’s not harmful and safe to use. You also know exactly where it is filtered from. No two batches of essential oils should ever smell the same, as it’s sourced from various farms from where it is grown. After Joanne applied oil to her daughter’s body and gave her essential oil infused supplements instead of the organic wholefood supplements she has been taking, changes were instant. Soon, the eczema faded and her daughter was on the road to recovery. 

For Joanne, oils is another option for healing and wellbeing. It’s also a way to better yourself, and add more life and love to your body, covering it with what it really deserves. Having used essential oils for over eight years now, this is something Joanne swears by. Being able to apply directly on affected areas, rub it on your body, use it in diffusers; you know exactly what you are putting in your body. The aura, the changes the energy that she gives out and takes in is contagious. It’s just another way to love yourself. These smells bring back memories which floods the mind with a mixture of emotions. It’s worth a try. Just as sweating on a bike helps with fitness, the emotions are linked to smells and scents around you. 

Essential oils have various healing powers. Joanne’s top picks are: Lavender which helps to improve sleep, lemongrass and cypress for dropping water retention, sandalwood/chamomile to release stress and toxins out of the body and mind.

Posted Nov 23, 2019 0 Comments

XPERT: Cooking Gracefully

Fuel your body with the nutrients it deserves. Living in this busy city with so many roles to fulfil and so many commitments, we often find ourselves coming home with little time to prep for the final meal of the day. So we sit down with Certified raw chef and nutritionist, Grace, who shares more about her journey with food and some quick-fix recipes that will have dinner ready in minutes.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO COOKING?
Raised by a Chinese Amah, I was exposed to cooking from a young age. They typically use the concept of seasonal cooking, creating dishes that best use what is in season at that time of the year. I remember always asking my Amah, “what’s for dinner?” and she would always tell me to take a look at the preparation table, and use my five senses to guess the dishes.

WHEN DID YOU START COOKING FOR YOURSELF?
In my college years, I started to put all the wisdom and cooking inspiration to practice. Entering the kitchen can sometimes be scary- it’s an unfamiliar environment. For me though, it is a way of meditating. The cutting, chopping, prepping of the food keeps me focused on what is going on in front of me, and blocks out everything else that is around me.

TIPS FOR BEGINNERS NEW TO COOKING?
I always recommend beginners to start with fresh and simple ingredients. You can’t go wrong with fresh ingredients that have natural flavours, a delicious outcome to this new way of meditating! Also try parchment paper - cut it into a square piece and put a piece of fish in the middle, seasoning it with any seasoning you may have (simple as salt and pepper, tomato, pesto, black beans) and pop it into the oven for 10-12 minutes. You don't need to make a mess in the kitchen, and minimal cooking utensils used for a very tender and healthy meal!

IF WE OPENED YOUR FRIDGE NOW, WHAT WOULD WE FIND MOST OF?
I have a lot of condiments. I love fruits, especially when I am feeling peckish, it’s a healthy and convenient snack to munch on. But I tend to overstock, and end up turning them into delicious jams that I can use as sauces or spreads. Most of my cooking is based on homemade sauces; what my cookbook is based on.

CONGRATULATIONS ON THE LAUNCH OF YOUR COOKBOOK FIRST OF ALL! TELL US MORE.
Thank you! It’s really a dozen of sauce recipes, and healthy and practical meal ideas. People in Hong Kong are too busy to spend too much time cooking, so if they can spend the weekend prepping sauces without preservatives and colours, it will make cooking during the week a lot quicker. Looking through the bottled sauces in supermarkets - there are ingredients with funny names that I don’t even know if there’s a way to pronounce them. That started to freak me out. That gave me the incentive. 200 recipes later, my cookbook was born where I can recreate home style dishes with home made sauces.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE?
To be honest, I just listen to my body and make what it tells me to. Whatever I am craving. I love food that tastes like home. Usually when you ask anyone what their favourite dish is, you think of your mother’s braised ribs, a relative’s secret recipe dish, and it’s all related to happy family memories at home.

BIGGEST INSPIRATION FOR COOKING?
My health - the many layers of physical, mental, spiritual - must feed all layers. If my physical body gives me an alert, I have to pay attention to the warning signs and cook accordingly. I also want to know what goes into my food, and make sure I am fueling myself with the right ingredients.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A BALANCED DIET?
Many diets are fear-based where people limit intake because they are scared to eat this or that. Listen to your body and when you eat, see how your body responds to it. Have an educated mindset and choose accordingly. 30% is what you eat, 70% is your emotions and how you react to it. Explore, have fun and balance :)

Posted Oct 13, 2019 0 Comments

GO RAW

Co-Founder of The Raw Circus, Jenny Tan, shares with us the ingredients to her raw vegan diet and why it is tastier than you think!

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START THE RAW CIRCUS?
We started THE RAW CIRCUS in July last year. My partner and I had a burn out from working in Africa for many years, and my mom (who was already living in HK at the time and had cured her breast cancer with a raw vegan diet and without chemo) said: “Come to HK, I’ll put you on a raw food cleanse, you’ll be better than ever in no time!” So we came over.

Within a week we felt so much stronger; physically, mentally and spiritually. After two weeks we had a complete turnaround - full of energy and life! My partner, who’s a great chef, prepared all our food, and even preparing food for only two people was a full-time job… soaking, sprouting, marinating, dehydrating, fermenting… all these processes take a lot of time. That’s when we realised: “Hey, raw food is awesome but who’s got time to be in the kitchen all day? This is actually a great business idea!” That’s how THE RAW CIRCUS was born.

WHAT IS RAW VEGAN FOOD EXACTLY?
A raw vegan diet is plant-based. It doesn’t contain any animal products, and all food is uncooked. Raw vegan cuisine uses vegetables and fruits of course, but also a lot of seeds and nuts, as well as algae. Uncooked doesn’t mean it’s unprocessed though - as mentioned earlier, veggies and especially nuts and seeds can be soaked, sprouted, marinated, dehydrated, blended and fermented. That’s how we make cream cheese from cashews, burgers and falafels from seeds and mushrooms, and rice from cauliflower or parsnip. To keep the enzymes alive, raw food is not supposed to be heated above 43 degrees.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF A RAW VEGAN DIET?
The key benefit of raw vegan food is that you get the maximum amount of nutrients, meaning vitamins and minerals. Most vitamins and minerals are destroyed when food is cooked, so eating veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds raw gives that extra energy boost. Also, raw food is full of living enzymes. You need enzymes to bring nutrients to your cells. Enzymes don’t survive cooking, so it’s only in raw food. If you don’t consume enzymes with your food, then your pancreas needs to produce them, instead of focusing on rejuvenating your cells. Eating enzyme-rich food allows the pancreas to focus on keeping your cells healthy - which explains why there is a direct connection between raw food and anti-ageing. If you want to prevent any chronic disease, or even support the treatment of one, give the raw vegan diet a go. Even a week a month for a detox makes a huge difference.

HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY THE PREMIUM PRICING COMPARED TO OTHER MEAL DELIVERY COMPANIES?
Especially when it comes to raw vegan cuisine, what matters is the quality of the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, algae and spices you use. We use almost entirely organic produce - which means maximum nutrients per dish. All our nuts and spices are organic as well. We don’t work with peanuts at all, and neither with soy - apart from the odd Tamari or Miso Sauce. We accommodate most food allergies and preferences, and we deliver in recyclable and compostable containers.

HOW LONG DOES THE FOOD LAST FOR AND HOW IS IT DELIVERED AND PACKAGED?
Raw food is quite delicate, but most dishes are still perfectly fine till the day after delivery. We deliver in recyclable and compostable containers, however, if you’d like to go zero-waste, we’re proud to say that we’re the first delivery company in Hong Kong to offer a Zero Waste solution - we deliver in reusable plastic containers and pick them up at the end of the programme. It’s just an additional $150 for extra pick up and handling, plus $50 refundable deposit per day for the containers.

THERE IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION THAT RAW FOOD IS QUITE BLAND. CAN YOU SHARE SOME DISHES ON YOUR MENU?
Raw food has this carrot stick stigma, but with THE RAW CIRCUS we’re really showing the Gourmet side of raw vegan food. We work a lot with spices, and texture, we make our own cheeses, and our menu is incredibly diverse.

For instance, in the morning we have our Oat Walnut Chocolate Granola with Activated Almond Milk or our Banana Walnut Flaxseed Pancakes with Mixed Berry Cashew Cream. In terms of savoury main courses we have our Mexican Walnut Taco with Cashew Sour Cream & Cauli Tomato Rice or our Kelp Noodle Phad Thai with Almond Butter Tamarind Sauce are definite winners, as are our Enchiladas with Salsa, Cheesy Sauce and Nut Meat. We also make really awesome Pizza, like the Tomato Cashew Ricotta and Marinated Onion Pizza. In terms of desserts, we’ve got the Chocolate & Coconut Cream Parfait with Hazelnut Crumble, our Raspberry Cheesecake and our Spirulina Chews with Goji Berries. We have four weeks of menus for breakfast, late morning snack, lunch starter and main, dinner main and dessert, where no dish is ever repeated!

SPECIAL OFFER FOR XYZ RIDERS
If you’re feeling hungry already, The Raw Circus has offered XYZ riders an exclusive offer on their next meal delivery. Click here for more details!

Posted Mar 29, 2019 0 Comments

NEW WAY OF HEALING

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BODY
You will be surprised by each human’s ability to self-heal. To activate these abilities, you have to combine your body, mind and spirit as a whole. We sit down with Ms. Chung Sze Chan, a Director/Principal Osteopath at Central Healing to learn more about treating your body in an Osteopathic way.

OSTEOPATHY TREATMENT
“Osteopath is a type of manual therapy originating from the US, specialising in realignment of your muscles and bones by using a variety of different techniques ranging from deep tissue massage, mobilisation, bone manipulations to fascial unwinding.”

As a form of drug-free and non-invasive manual therapy, Osteopathy is generally considered as a gentle treatment. However, “often people think Osteopathy is too gentle, but we can treat in a very direct and deep method too. We have a wide range of techniques in our tool box and we will apply the best treatment that’s suited for each individual.”

DEFINING THE SOURCE OF YOUR PROBLEM
Osteopathy looks deeper into your pains and finds out why they are happening or why they keep happening.

“If you have particular aches and pains, Osteopaths are very good at finding the source of your problem and treating it. We can also help you identify the cause of the problem to prevent re-occurrence.” says Chan Sze. “If you feel unbalanced in your body, e.g like when your jeans don't hang evenly on your hips, we are also very good at fine tuning your posture, and help you rebalance.”

DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO HEALING - OSTEOPATHY, CHIROPRACTIC, PHYSICAL THERAPY
The difference between Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists cause some confusion when we decide to have a consultation with a practitioner to ease our body pain. Osteopaths take a broader approach and treat a larger area while Chiropractors and Physical Therapists tend to focus on treating specific pain-related parts.

“Every modality has their strengths. I like to think of Osteopaths being more wholistic, as we aim to treat the body as a whole rather than just treating body parts that you are experiencing issues with. We also use a range of different techniques that treats your muscles, ligaments, joints and bones. All three modalities treat the same ailments so it is a matter of personal preference.”

PREVENTING POTENTIAL INJURIES WHILE RIDING
“Riders are very active athletes so having an Osteopath session to release the deep muscle tightness in your back, gluts and legs whilst realigning the spine will not only maximise your performance but prevent any potential injuries.” says Chan Sze.

She suggests to spare some time after an intensive workout to stretch and foam roll muscles that you have just worked. Muscles shorten after every workout and makes them more prone to tears and sprains. By stretching and relaxing the muscles post workout, it will improve your flexibility and strength, allowing you to keep riding for many years to come.

Here are some Osteopath guided moves you can perform at home to further strengthen your bones and muscles. 
Before working out we should focus on dynamic movements to help warm up our muscles and increasing blood flow throughout the body. This will help reduce the risk of injury.

KNEE TO WALL PRESS
 
  • Starting position: parallel to the wall with the body leaning forward on an angle
     
  • Take the leg back into extension (you should feel the glutes contract)
     
  • Press your knee towards the wall (the opposite heel can lift as you rise onto the ball of your foot)
     
  • Repeat each leg 8 reps x 3 sets.
LEG SWINGS FRONT TO BACK AND SIDE TO SIDE
 
  • Starting position: parallel to the wall with the body standing up right
     
  • Keep your gaze forward and start by bring the leg out the side whilst trying to maintain a straight knee
     
  • With your other leg stable (can bend slightly for support) take your swinging leg across the body and repeat.
     
  • Each leg 8 reps x 3 sets
 
  • Starting position: side-on to the wall with the body standing up right
     
  • Keep your gaze forward and start by bring the leg back into extension
     
  • With your other leg stable (can bend slightly for support) take your swinging leg in front of the body whilst trying to maintain a straight knee
     
  • Each leg 8 reps x 3 sets

After working out it’s best to peform static stretches, these will help with post exercise soreness and optimize your recovery. 

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
 
  • Set up in a lunge position with front leg at 90* and knee stacked over the ankle. 
     
  • Tuck the pelvis in and shift body weight forward until you feel a stretch
     
  • If you are not feeling stretch in the hip flexors progress to the second stage. 
     
  • Reach behind the body with your opposite hand – Using the left hand to hold the right foot and shift your body weight forward, this will engage your hip flexors.
     
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds repeat 3 times for both sides.
GLUTE STRETCH
 
  • Starting position: lying flat on your back
     
  • Cross the ankle of one leg onto the knee of your opposite leg
     
  • Position your hands under the knee 
     
  • Slowly whilst breath encourage the knee towards move slowly towards your chest
     
  • You should feel a stretch in the opposite glute
     
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds repeat 3 times for both sides.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR XYZ RIDERS
All XYZ riders are entitled 50% off of your initial consultation with Osteopath Mr. Peter Fishman in January and February. If you would like to enjoy the discounted rate at Central Healing, please quote XYZ when booking and present your ride confirmation emails in person at the clinic.

Posted Jan 19, 2019 0 Comments

RAISING AWARENESS

It can be tricky to bring it up, but if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, don’t be. The best way to start is to just ask someone if they’re okay.

If you think someone might be dealing with depression or anxiety, you might avoid them because you don’t know what to do or say, or maybe you don’t really understand what it’s all about. This can make it harder for them to get through it. To make it go better, for both of you, here are a few tips:

1. Choose a place that's quiet and private and set aside some time.

2. Listen, more than talk. Most of the time it's not answers they are looking for but just to be heard. 

3. Try to keep any questions open-ended and offer reassurance and hope. 

4. Let them know you care and thank them for sharing. 

5. Don't try to fix it but check to see if they are getting the professional help they need.

It is a big step for someone to open up to you. So here's what not to do:

1. Tell me they can snap out of it. For sure they have already tried that.

2. Avoid them. They already feel alone and this can make it even worse.

3. Suggest they are being weak. If they have opened up recognise the bravery in that.

4. Assume the problem will just get better. 

5. Judge or criticise them for what they are going through.

One of the most important things we can all do to raise awareness is to educate ourselves. 

For access to more knowledge https://www.mind.org.hk/

Posted Oct 26, 2018 0 Comments

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Q: NEALY, WHAT WERE THE DRIVING REASONS BEHIND CREATING THE FLEXIBLE CHEF?
I spent the first 25 years of life living on extremes. I experimented with various restrictive diets—like that time I crunched my way through the cracker diet or sipped my way to skinny with the lemonade diet and crazy fitness fads. I guess you can say I was desperately chasing perfection— the perfect body and the perfect life (whatever that means). But, when my willpower became exhausted, you could find me elbow deep into a bag of potato chips. Sound familiar?

Over time, I’ve adopted a more flexible approach: the cooking, eating, working out, and just life in general.

I've learned that with a little creativity, no food has to be off limits. Sure, I'm a huge advocate for filling your plate with vegetables and lean proteins 90% of the time. But who says you can't enjoy a piece of dark chocolate after Friday night dinner or a short stack of gluten-free pancakes during Sunday morning brunch? Our diets need to fit our lifestyle— not the other way around.

With many people out there going through the struggles I once dealt with, I knew I needed to pass my flexible message onto others. My mission? To inspire people to let go sometimes, give themselves a break more often, inhale confidence, and bend the rules so everyone can live the life they crave!

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR LIVING A FLEXIBLE, HEALTHY LIFE?
1. You will often hear me refer to flexibility as the key ingredient to thriving in life. But here’s something that might surprise you: Being adaptable and able to “wing it” takes the exact opposite. Yup, meticulous organisation is the backbone of flexibility. I’d be a frazzled mess without my lists, notes, and laid out schedules. So, start by getting organised.

2. Start to view recipes as springboards— a starting point to create something perfectly tailored to your taste preferences and dietary needs. You see, while some ingredients are essential to a dish's success, others are suggested. Try swapping regular flour for a gluten-free alternative, refined sugar for a natural sweetener, roasting vs frying, etc. You may be surprised to find out how many of your favourite comfort foods can be re-created into lighter versions without sacrificing flavour! Take my cauliflower “fried rice”, for example:

3. Turn Your Flops Into Successes
Sometimes flops (like burned brownies or over-baked bread) can turn into your biggest successes. Some of my go-to dishes these days have come from experimenting with things that didn’t go my way. Rather than throwing things out or getting frustrated, just stop for a second and figure out other ways you can use it.

Q: DO YOU HAVE SOME FAVOURITE FOOD SPOTS IN HK THAT FOLLOW YOUR FLEXIBLE PHILOSOPHY?
No matter where I am in the world, my favourite food spot is always my kitchen! I work from home and try to test new recipes daily. Sometimes when I’m desperate, I order a Mana salad box or Tokio Joe’s sushi from Deliveroo! I also love to grab salads from Wagyu, Limewood, Yarbird, Zuma and Mandarin Grill & Bar.

Posted Mar 31, 2018 0 Comments

FESTIVE SPICE BALLS

INGREDIENTS
 

1 cup sweetened desiccated coconut
1 cup raw Cashew nuts
1/4 cup plain protein powder
3 tsps ground cinnamon
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
Pinch of salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup softened extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp rice malt syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice

HOW TO?

Place coconut and cashew nuts in a food processor and whizz them until you get fine crumbs. Next add in the protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt and whizz again until combined. Next step, add the vanilla extract, coconut oil and sweetener and whizz until all the mixture comes together like a dough. 

Now the best part, roll the mixture into balls and coat in the coconut. Allow to set in the fridge or freezer.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Consume with delight!

Posted Dec 8, 2017 0 Comments

HOW TO BEAT THE OFFICE COLD…..YOU KNOW IT’S COMING

No matter your age, we all wish that when we get sick, our parents could be there to take care of us. Here’s some surprising ways that Mum’s and Grandma’s from all over the world have been using home remedies to make us feel better.

 

CHINA
From Pak Fah Yau, a white flower oil rubbed on your chest, to Grandma’s favourite, Congee. Made from rice and water, you then add ingredients depending on whether you have cold cold or a heat cold. A heat cold comes with sever fever, mild chills, sore throat, sweating and thirst. Where as the cold type is severe chills, profuse, clear discharge from the nose, mild fever, no sweat, headache and general aching…..confused? It’s ok, Grandma knows best.

 

SPAIN
Garlic tea, made from garlic cloves, honey, lemon juice and water. Supposedly the properties of the tea help stimulate the immune system and can help shorten the duration of a cold.

 

RUSSIA
Gogol-Mogol a hot drink that supposedly will help ease an itchy throat. Made up of an egg yolk, a teaspoon of honey, and half a cup of warm milk mixed with a tablespoon of unsalted butter. For a little kick they often add cognac as well. Or you could try soaking your feet in hot water mixed with dry mustard powder and then get into a pair of warm socks and dive under a heavy blanket.

 

JAPAN
Umeboshi - A super salty plum which is high in citric acid and known for its antibacterial qualities. Grandma would soak it in green tea or in a bowl of okayu, a congee-like rice gruel that’s perfect when feeling under the weather.

 

HONG KONG
Snake soup - Yes you’ve got it, a soup made from snakes. It is believed that it is a “warming food” so it heats up the body and keeps you warm in the cooler months. Supposedly it can also help boost the love life….. so two birds, one stone with this one.

 

SCOTLAND
Hot toddy - Probably not one your mum or grandma would recommend given it’s whiskey based but maybe your favourite aunt or uncle. Whiskey is a great decongestant and then you combine it with known cold fighters, honey, lemon and hot water. Don’t forget though, with this remedy you can have one too many then you have something else to cure in the morning!

Posted Nov 18, 2017 0 Comments

STRETCH SERIES 6

WRIST EXTENSOR STRETCH 

When the wrist is in a shortened position for long periods, it adaptively compresses the tendons and nerves that pass under the retinaculum, a connective tissue sheath that wraps around the wrist. This is where the carpal tunnel is located and can easily, when constricted and inflexible, cause impingement of the medial nerve associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. The wrist joint is a hinge joint and can also become compacted from lack of range of motion. 

HOW TO STRETCH
Extend the forearm with hand and fingers outstretched in the prone or palm down position. Flex the wrist to the end-of-range by drooping the hand downwards and with the opposite hand gently pull to elicit a stretch of the wrist extensor muscles which attach  at the outer elbow. You can also perform this stretch with a fist which will emphasise the wrist attachments at the distal end of the forearm. Perform this stretch carefully as it can be very sore and irritated at the start of the movement. Try also altering the angle of the hand to the right and left to fully stretch the wrist.
 
As a variant to the above mentioned fist stretch adduct and or abduct the wrist to isolate different tissues to locate tender points and then flex the wrist  to move the connective tissue and increase blood shunting to those surrounding tissues.
 
If you want to recap on any of the previous stretches, click on the links below

The Piriformis stretch - https://www.youarexyz.com/blog/stretch-series-5

The hip flexor stretch - https://www.youarexyz.com/blog/stretch-series-4

The lumbar stretch - https://www.youarexyz.com/blog/stretch-series-3

The anterior neck stretch - https://www.youarexyz.com/blog/stretch-series-2

The shoulder stretch - https://www.youarexyz.com/blog/stretch-series

If you want to find out more about this stretch or how you can better give back to your body, check out MOTION DYNAMICS or reach out directly should you need any further information to Chris Watts.

 

Posted Oct 21, 2017 0 Comments

STRETCH SERIES 5

The Piriformis Stretch

Seated on the bike, draw the right knee up towards your left shoulder. Pull gently on the femur with your right hand and hold the tibia lightly in your left. Open up and extend the lower leg (tibia) to around 70-80 degrees and then gently pull down on the tibia, in effect rotating the hip which in turn will release the piriformis insertion point. This may feel quite sore and irritated at the start but with a gentle pull and a 2 second hold at the end of range and a full release back to the start position, this muscle will gradually release and open up allowing a full 45 degrees of range The objective is to be able to create a more centralised hip where the knee, the foot and the hip are all pointing forward.

Do not pull too hard when performing this movement as the myotatic stretch reflex system will over engage and try and protect the tissues from being overstretched.
Structurally situated right behind the piriformis runs the largest neural sheath in the body; the sciatic nerve. So releasing the piriformis also releases this nerve bundle, hence the optimisation of neuromuscular engagement and thus power and speed.

When you have performed 10 repetitions on one side proceed to the other side.

Due to common muscular imbalances, one side will be considerably tighter than the other. If that is the case with you then do 3 times more on the tight side to one on the lesser tight side.

If you want to find out more about this stretch or how you can better give back to your body, check out MOTION DYNAMICS or reach out directly should you need any further information to Chris Watts.

 

Posted Oct 5, 2017 0 Comments

STRETCH SERIES 4

The Hip Flexor stretch. 

Dismount from the bike or do this one at home.  The left knee is in a kneeling position and the other leg is in the full forward lunge position.  Tilt your pelvis backwards in order to flatten the lumbar spine and to fully lengthen the psoas major and minor, our target muscles being stretched (Hip Flexors).

With a fully upright and extended spine, slowly and gently lunge forward until you feel a mild pull on the anterior lumbar spine where the psoas muscles are attached. Place the left hand on the left upper gluteus maximus or butt muscle and proceed to push the hip forward to gain a greater lengthening of the hip flexors. Hold this extended position for no longer than 2 seconds and return back to the start position. Repeat 10 times on each side. 

To add an extra lengthening to the movement, as you reach forward on the side that is being stretched, you will reach the arm up to a full upward elevation in order to further increase the intra abdominal expansion and extension.

Breathing and locomotion are dependant on the flexibility and pliability of both the diaphragm and the hip flexors that are indelibly interconnected through a fascial web and the connective tissues called the crura.

A tight psoas can and often does pull the spine forward into an anterior tilted position over arching the lower lumbar spine creating pressure and weakness in the lower spinal segments. This will set off a chain reaction of poor postural habits such as forward head posture and a slumped look in the shoulders and upper back.

Remember a tight muscle is a weak muscle.
The flexibility training of these powerful anterior abdominal muscles should be performed daily whether at the Spin studio, at the office or at home. 

If you want to find out more about any of these stretches or how you can better give back to your body, check out MOTION DYNAMICS or reach out directly should you need any further information to Chris Watts.

Posted Sep 23, 2017 0 Comments

STRETCH SERIES 3

Seated on the bike, have both hands interlaced behind the head with elbows wide. Rotate the trunk fully to the left side with around 45 degrees of trunk rotation. The right side obliques are then contracted so that the right elbow drops in between the legs. or towards the centre of the handle bar. Hold the stretch at the end of range for 2 seconds and then return back to the start position. You will feel a stretch in the lower left lumbar quadrant where the ribs meet the lumbar spine and where the muscles attach on the crest of the left hip.

Repeat this trunk rotation 10 times on each side.

Should you experience any irritation or discomfort in the lower back when performing this movement reduce the rotation and reduce the range of spinal flexion. The lumbar region is usually very compacted and compressed due to excessive sitting and weakness of the lumbar erector muscles. It is essential to lengthen the restrictions and resistance first before stabilising and strengthening the lower back.  The lumbar spine should allow a 5-10 degree extension and a 130 degree spinal flexion as well as 15 to 20 degree spinal rotation.

This stretching exercise is ideal to warm up and warm down this highly sensory region of your back which needs movement, motion and lubrication to work at its optimal best
 
Tip: The more you engage the abdominal muscles, the more  protection you will have in your lower back when flexing the spine.

BRACE, FLEX, STRETCH

 

Posted Aug 25, 2017 0 Comments

STRETCH SERIES 2

Second of a series of specially designed stretches from Motion Dynamics

Following on from the Forward Shoulder Elevation we continue to focus on the upper body by looking at an Anterior Neck Stretch. The neck is an often forgotten area when it comes to stretching, yet we can hold so much tension there, especially if you stare at a computer screen all day long.

Try this one out next time you’re on the bike or even at your desk.

Sit on the bike, place your elbows on the handlebars and lean forward. Place both hands together with fingers pointing up in a prayer position. Maybe say one if you have time! Placing your fingers under your chin, use them to assist you in extending your neck by looking straight up to the ceiling. Breathe in prior to the movement and breathe out as you perform the stretch. At the end of the range use the fingers to push under the chin to add an extra lengthening to open up the 14 anterior neck muscles and soft tissue. Hold the stretch past the end of your range for no longer than 2 seconds and then return all the way back to your neutral position.

The neutral position is often referred to as “zero tension state” where all the nerves and tissues are relaxed and switched off. This is when the blood can shunt easily into the softened tissues to hep re-oxygenate and alkalise the muscles. The lymphatic system can move out of the metabolic waste from the contracted tissues where the tension and restriction has impaired circulation.

Repeat this movement 10 times to increase the joint range of motion throughout all 7 cervical vertebrae. You may feel the muscles at the back of the neck feeling fatigued from the workout contractions. It’s not uncommon as these extensor muscles supporting the back of the neck are generally very weak from poor postural habits. These movements will re-engage the muscles and stabilise the cervical structures to increase support for the head sitting over the shoulders. .

It is recommended to perform this stretch everyday. Remember, a tight muscle is a weak muscle.

Posted Aug 5, 2017 0 Comments

PULSE YOUR WAY TO A HEALTHIER YOU

Pulses definitely deserve the title of a superfood, as not only are they loaded with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, but they are also sustainable, affordable and versatile. If that doesn’t convince you, here are a few more reasons why good things really do come in small packages:

  • You can get 9 grams of protein from ½ cup of cooked lentils.
  • Helping lower your risk of heart disease, pulses have 3 times more fibre than brown rice.
  • Consuming ½ cup of black beans will give you more iron than a 3 ounce flank steak.
  • Having a lower carbon footprint than almost any other food group, you are also keeping the environment a little healthier.
  • Need more antioxidants in your diet? Add some red kidney beans to your salad to get your daily dose

So how to get more of them into your diet? 

  • Swap out half your ground meat in a chilli for black or kidney beans. This not only cuts the saturated fat down but it also increases the fibre,
  • Thicken your soups with pureed white beans instead of cream.
  • If you’re one to grab a packet of crisps/chips as a snack, make your own with chickpeas. Toss in your favourite spices or just simple salt and pepper, then bake them at 200 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
Posted Jun 30, 2017 0 Comments

TOP TIPS TO BEAT THE HEAT

After what feels like weeks of endless rain, the clouds are clearing and the sun will be shining brightly so we’re finally able to enjoy all that Hong Kong has to offer in the summer.  Whether you choose to spend your days hiking, swimming, boating, spinning or just enjoying the long, warm days with family and friends, there are a few things you should keep in mind to beat the heat:

DRINK MORE WATER
You know how important it is to stay hydrated all year round. Especially when you’re sweating a lot either because of exercise or the summer heat, drinking enough water becomes even more crucial.  To help ensure you’re getting enough water, don’t leave the house without a refillable bottle and endeavour to have the equivalent of at least 8-10 glasses each day. 
 

EAT LIGHT
There’s a reason why we reach for salads in the summer; they’re easy to digest compared to ‘heavier’ food, which easily leaves you feeling sluggish in the intense heat.  Instead, go for fruits and vegetables, which are watery and help keep you cooler and hydrated. 
 

FIND SOME SHADE AND GREENERY
The city can feel stifling at times in the middle of summer, so make the time to get out and explore the best of what Hong Kong has on offer – the ocean, the parks, the outer islands.  When you make plans outside, make sure to wear sunscreen, take plenty of water with you and find a pocket of shade to hang out in when the sun is beaming.
 

JUST CHILL!
Take it easy if you tend to overheat.  There’s plenty of hours in the day to accomplish your daily goals.  Create time to relax and don’t over exert yourself running around town!
 

SPRITZ YOURSELF
Keep a spray bottle in the fridge and when the going gets hot, give yourself a good spritz!  Here’s a quick refreshing recipe for you: combine one cucumber, a squeeze of lemon, one teaspoon of aloe vera and one tablespoon of rosewater.  Put them in a blender for one minute, strain and drop the liquid in a bottle and spray over yourself as needed. Also good post-spin class!
 

EXERCISE COMFORTABLY
Just because it’s hot outside, doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising - you may just need to change things up a bit!  Try avoiding working out outdoors in the middle of the day and use the warmer weather as an excuse to try out some water sports. You can always move your exercise indoors and pick up another class or two at XYZ!  Remember also that you’re likely to sweat more when working out in the heat, so make sure you hydrate before, during and after exercise. 

Posted Jun 23, 2017 0 Comments

HOW TO CURE A CRAMP

Most importantly prevention is always better than a cure. So here are a few ways you can prevent a cramp - don’t worry we’ll get to the treating part in case you forget to follow these tips:

PREVENTION

  • Drink lots of water. Dehydration can be a leading cause of muscle spasms, so make sure you arrive at class hydrated.
  • Warm up and cool down. We have this covered in class already  but a few extra stretches won’t go a miss before and after. Especially if you nipped out before the cool down started!
  • Electrolytes. Low sodium and potassium levels can lead to cramps especially side stitches. A natural choice to lift up the levels is a banana or you can opt for a sports drink -  just watch for the sugar content.
  • Supplements. If you find you’re regularly experiencing cramps you may want to look at supplements. Magnesium, Zinc, and Vitamins B, D and E can help limit the onset of cramps or at least lessen the severity.


Ok so you missed out on the prevention part, or you followed it to a T and still got hit by a workout dampening cramp. Try these tips to help ease the symptoms:

TREATMENT

  • Take a break.
    There is no point pushing through when you get a cramp as it often just makes them worse. You can’t win every battle, so just take a break and let the cramp pass.
  • Stretch it out.
    Stop, drop and stretch. Often in cycling it will be the calf that is affected. So find a wall and stand about a metre away, lean forward with your arms outstretched to touch the wall while keeping the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Hold this position for about five seconds before releasing, repeat 5 times.
  • Massage.
    Honestly it works and really since when do you need a reason to get a massage?
Posted Mar 17, 2017 0 Comments

GROOM YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS

Breaking a good sweat from a good spin session is incredibly satisfying. It gets your endorphins flowing, improves your cardiovascular health, and gets rid of toxins from the body; since sweat contains dermcidin, an antimicrobial peptide, it helps to fight off germs and viruses too. So yes, sweat is good, but if you let it sit on your skin for too long, you're going to have to deal with some less than desirable results.

It goes without saying, you've got to wash and cleanse after an intense workout session. Your skin will be a warm and moist breeding ground for odour causing bacteria, and when sweat mixes in with dead skin cells and sebum, you have the perfect scenario for acne.

So enjoy the achievement of your conquest, by taking a well-deserved shower. 

This is where your grooming game starts and we have a few tips courtesy of Selvedge Grooming so you get the most out of it.

  • Use a mild, anti-oxidant rich face wash to gently remove impurities and excess oil. 
  • It is also the perfect time to shave, as the pores will be opened because of your ball-busting workout. So lather up some shaving cream and get grooming. 

    Hold the razor in your dominant hand and use your free hand to pull your skin tight. Using light pressure, shave along the grain and run the blade under water regularly to prevent buildup. For a closer shave, lather up one more time and do another pass across the grain. 
  • Freshen up and tighten the pores with a splash of cold water; apply aftershave to soothe razor burn.
  • Once that is all done, apply a dollop of moisturiser to rehydrate your skin. 

Mission completed ridden, refreshed, revitalised and ready to roll

Posted Dec 25, 2016 0 Comments

SNOOZE YOU LOSE

So what type of snoozer are you? First crime? Multiple offender? Do you steal an extra 10, 20 or 30 minutes?

Well all of this is called “drockling”, the old, official term for dipping in and out of sleep in the early morning. Sorry to break it to you though, it actually does more harm than good.

Your body needs some time to get you ready to wake up; to prepare your awakening your core body temperature starts to warm up about 2 hours before your body feels ready to wake up. If you wake up before your body is ready, your core temperature is still in the deep sleep range - this is why your bed feels cosier than ever, as your body isn’t ready yet.  Reinforcing why it’s important to get enough sleep.

However hitting snooze is not the answer. As we have mentioned, you need time to get ready to wake up. When you hit the snooze button, it’s sending a “false alarm” signal to your body and off you go back into deep sleep. When the alarm goes off a second time your body and brain are taken by surprise, as you told them to go back into deep sleep. This results in you feeling groggy, fuzzy headed or the official term, you have sleep inertia. Oh and by the way this feeling can hang around for up to 2 to 4 hours!

So what’s the answer to kick the snooze habit? Simple, set your alarm for when you actually have to be up and then get up when it goes off. Try to set your alarm the same every day. Our bodies like consistency, so yes that means going to bed at a regular time as well. Try it for a week and see how you feel.

Posted Nov 18, 2016 0 Comments

RECOVERY

Any change or acceleration in your daily workout can cause tiny injuries to your muscle fibres and connective tissue (check out our previous article on DOMS). To avoid further damage in the future, your muscles are designed to quickly adapt to being able to handle new activities and/ or intensity.  This is what makes your muscles stronger.  So while these are technically small injuries, they actually help improve your physical fitness. So what can you do to help ease the way?

1 - If you prefer going the natural route, try including ginger and turmeric into your daily nutrition as they are natural anti-inflammatories that may help minimise the pain. If you want to take a recovery supplement then try the Vega recovery powder which can be bought at front desk.

2 - Protein is well known to help muscle’s recover so always try to include some into your post workout meal. There are many ways to get protein into your diet from beans to lean meat to protein smoothies. 

3 - If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle free of pain then try incorporating stretching into your daily program. This can be done through yoga or by just executing a few simple stretches every morning or night as part of your routine.

4 - Hydration is key to life. When we are dehydrated we feel sluggish and so do our muscles. So keep your body hydrated by making sure you arrive at class ready to ride. If you are a caffeine drinker be aware that you will need to rehydrate even more, as one of the effects of caffeine on the body is dehydration. Once class is done and you have sweated out all your stresses make sure you take back in the water you have lost.

5 - Take your body for a treat and get a massage. To really reap the benefits you want to look for a deep tissue massage that will help ease out any areas that are tight from your workouts.

Posted Oct 9, 2016 0 Comments

3 Things you need to know if you’re trying to lose weight fast.

It takes a deficit of approximately 3,500 calories to shed one pound of fat, so if you cut your calories by 500 a day this should lead to a weekly loss of a pound per week. Weight loss that stays off is usually down to making substantial behavioural and lifestyle changes as opposed to crash diets with unhealthy restrictions.

Here’s how the fast approach can actually backfire on you:

HELLO STRESS!
Eating less than your body needs can trigger the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. When we are stressed our appetite is usually driven upwards and can also increase fat storage, especially around the middle. It’s literally a lose lose situation and neither of those loses is weight loss. 

YOUR METABOLISM GETS LAZY
Losing weight rapidly can drive your mind into famine mode. Our bodies recognise caloric deprivation and flips into metabolic survival mode, telling it to slow down and conserve energy. So while you are in starvation mode, your body is in survival mode hitting you with a weight gain.

YOU BECOME A FOOD SAVAGE 
Most people who decide to go on a crash diet start to obsess about food, finding themselves ravenous and primed to binge. This is because on a crash diet your levels of leptin, a hormone that controls hunger, plummet and literally food becomes your life.

SO HOW TO WIN THE BATTLE?
Forget about the scales and focus on eating right, portion sizes, exercising, reducing stress, and getting adequate rest. In a world of insta-everything give yourself permission to take a little more time reaching your weight goals and get there in a healthy, sustainable way. 
 

Posted Sep 25, 2016 0 Comments