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The last 14 months have been difficult for everybody.

With the gyms closing and indoor social gatherings being restricted, it has been so easy for health and fitness slip away from our daily routines.

In this post, our good friends at UNIT 13 Fitness shares a simple roadmap to returning to a level of health and fitness similar to what you had before.

  1. How to enjoy a night “out” without the guilt
  2. How to redevelop strength & fitness that you previously lost
  3. How to manage your nutrition / cravings.
  4. What to do when on a staycation.

How to Enjoy” A “night out” / few drinks

Firstly, its so important to acknowledge that we have been starved of social interaction. Therefore its more important than ever to understand that social interaction is needed.

Doing this over a few drinks can be something that we have ALL looked forward to for quite sometime.

Here are some tips on enjoying that evening with friends:

  1. Plan your drinking ahead of time – if you know you can have a good time on 3 drinks, drink 3 drinks, not 10 (easier said than done mind you!). Then plan what you will and won’t be drinking (see calorie table).
  2. Avoid situations that are conducive to eating poor food. The main ones are – takeaway after the nightclub (The outdoor bar these days…) , pub food , and hangover eating the next day. The best advice I can give you here is try head home before the nightclub ends and stay at your own place where possible.
  3. Plan the next day. Have food prepared ahead of time for the next day. Pick your favorite breakfast from the meal plan (one that you may be able to look forward to – poached eggs, avocado etc). If you can commit yourself to doing something you know you can’t be too hung-over for agreeing to take the girlfriend (or boyfriend) to Kildare village or Dundrum, or agreeing to take the kids somewhere, or going on a hike with a friend on the health buzz. All are disgustingly unbearable when hungover and may limit your intake and hangover if you 100% can’t back out of them.
  4. Offset drinking by…. Click Here to read more.

How to re-develop your strength and fitness:

Lack of energy… Stiff… Pains in places that you didn’t know existed. For some people they feel all 3. For others they simply feel a lack of spring in their step.

But why?

Simply because we have all been doing less. We have been going through a pandemic which for many means they haven’t moved their body much. That then causes our body to become weaker, especially if we haven’t been doing strength training or any “moderate manual labour”.

What to do?

We see a HUGE amount of our client experiencing this issue. Especially those who stopped training for the last lockdown and then it ended up being 5 months with no real movement… The big issue her is focus. We suggest to focus on 1 goal and work on that.

STEP 1:

Start with a plan.

Ask yourself: What do you need?

  1. Strength training
  2. Flexibility
  3. Breathing work.

From the above 3 its important to highlight your most important. At UNIT 13 we find that 2.7 hours per week of strength and conditioning style training (when programmed by PROFESSIONALS in a structured way) yields the best results.

WHY?

A high quality professional coach will work with you on what YOU need in order to get you moving and feeling better ASAP. Therefore a strength and conditioning coach is your best bet.

Here are some helpful tips from coach Rob on how to schedule your weeks training:

Bonus video ‘Feel good in 10 minutes’

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition 🍎🥗

The Ultimate Guide To Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Investing your time in the gym without adhering to a proper nutritional plan MIGHT result in wasted time and effort…

Quality nutrition is arguably the most important element of your training.  

In this article:

  1. The areas you need to focus on when it comes to pre and post workout nutrition
  2. The purpose of focusing on pre and post workout nutrition
  3. Macro Nutrients
  4. Meal timings and what to eat before training.
  5. Snacking before training 30-60 minutes before.
  6. Food during exercise.
  7. Carbs and food after training
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Eating before a workout gives the perfect opportunity to feed your muscles strategically as quality nutrition fuels our bodies for maximum performance.  During exercise your muscles will fill with blood and become very sensitive to the nutrients you consumed.  So why not take advantage of this process by giving your muscles exactly what they need to thrive?

You probably already know that if you eat too few calories you’ll loose strength and if you eat too many you’ll gain body fat.

But did you also know that ‘when’ and ‘what’ you eat is a major factor in your training?  You’ve probably read about it’s importance online or maybe came across someone who tried to sell you an overpriced meal plan that made the ‘what’ and ‘when’ seem like overcomplicated biological science.

Fortunately, the science of knowing what and when to eat isn’t as complicated as sales people will try to make you believe.  But it is very important.

Ultimately, it all boils down to calories in and calories out.  But how and when you use those calories can make a massive difference. 

The areas you need to focus on when it comes to pre and post workout nutrition are:

  • Food Quality:
    • Unprocessed high quality proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and vegetables
  • Portion Control:
    • Eat until your stomach is ¾ full and avoid stuffing yourself.  
  • Mindful Eating: 
    • Enjoy your food stress free, without distraction.  Really concentrate on the flavours as you eat to enhance the digestion process.  Eat slowly!

The purpose of focusing on pre and post workout nutrition is so you can ensure you get the following benefits:

  • Sustained energy
  • Boost performance
  • Remain hydrated
  • Preserve muscle mass
  • Improve recovery

The nutrients you ingest will only stay in your bloodstream for a few hours so plan your pre workout meal 0-3 hours before your workout to get the maximum benefit.  

Macro Nutrients

Counting macros has become a bit of a trend in the fitness industry, but it is for good reason.  Each macro has a specific role in your body and when eaten correctly at the right time, you can maximise your training sessions.

Protein helps to fight off hunger and food cravings.  It is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.

Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels.  Simple carbohydrates give you a quick burst of energy while complex carbohydrates offer lasting energy.

Fats provide slow burning fuel for longer sessions. 

Meal Timing

3 Hours Pre Training

Consume a mixed meal with a low calorie beverage – preferably water.

The meal should consist of a fat, carb, protein and a mixture of vegetables.

The portion size will depend on various factors such as individual goals, metabolism, weight, or the duration and intensity of exercise.  But the general rule to follow is:

Man

2 Thumbs of fat

2 Cupped handfuls of carbs

2 Palms protein dense food

2 Fists of mixed vegetables

Woman 

1 Thumb of fat

1 Cupped handful of carbs

1 Palm protein dense food

1 Fist of mixed vegetables

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30 – 60 Minutes Pre Training

Eating a smaller meal before a workout is optional and depends on how you’re feeling on the day/ what you have already eaten that day.  If you don’t feel hungry, you don’t need to eat.

If you are looking for an extra bit of sustenance, it is recommended you consume something in liquid form, such as a protein shake or smoothie.  

The closer you get to a workout, the less time your body has to digest.  You want to ensure that all your energy is being put towards the training instead of being split between training and digesting.

An example of a post workout smoothie is:

  • 1 Scoop of protein powder
  • 1 Fist full of vegetables (leafy greens work best)
  • 1 Cupped handful of carbs (sweet potato, banana, berries)
  • 1 Thumb of fat (avocado, flax seeds, coconut oil, nut butter)
  • Low calorie liquid (water, unsweetened nut milk)

Choose foods that won’t bother your stomach, for obvious reasons.

During Exercise

The goal here is to maintain hydration.  Generally, water should be the only thing you need throughout your workout.  However, this is dependent on the type of workout, the intensity and duration, and your goals.  

Resistance Training (Strength work):

Protein

Similar to the pre workout rule, if you’re going to have protein it will need to be in liquid form.  Protein will help prevent muscle breakdown and can therefore lead to quicker recovery.  You will only need a small amount, to control the breakdown (15g per hour).

I would only recommend this if you’re either looking to make serious gains, you train on an empty stomach (3+ hours since your last meal), or if you’re doing long intense training sessions/have multiple sessions throughout the day.

BCAA’s are a popular low calorie option to use during a training session for everyone as they provide essential amino acids and don’t require any digesting.  

Conditioning/Endurance:

Carbohydrates

Carbs are good for providing an immediate fuel source, boosting performance and improving recovery.  Again, liquid form is best.  Consume a mixture of glucose, fructose and maltodextrin as these use different transport mechanisms.

I would only recommend this for long intense sessions, marathons, anyone on a high calorie diet looking to gain serious muscle mass or highly active individuals who struggle to get enough calories.

Note: 

Fats are difficult to digest as they delay gastric emptying.  They should therefore be avoided during exercise.

Post Training

Getting the right nutrition after your workout is essential.  If you fail to refuel your body with appropriate nutrition, your performance in your next session will suffer, your gains won’t be as good and you could even lose muscle mass.  

Always choose real foods that have a blend of macros, micros and phytonutrients. 

The goal is to help you:

  1. Rehydrate
  2. Boost Recovery
  3. Build Muscle
  4. Decrease inflammation
  5. Replenish Energy
  6. Improve Future Performance

If you trained on an empty stomach or only had something small pre workout, you should eat straight after your workout, or at the very latest one hour after your session.  Simple carbs are best straight after a workout, as they are easy to digest and elicit an insulin response to build muscle and prevent soreness.

You might not feel hungry after your workout.  If this is the case have a smoothie or any kind of liquid nutrition.

The best post workout shakes contains a 2:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein when gaining weight or 1:1 when reducing fat, e.g. protein powder of choice with a banana and nut milk/water.  The fat in milk can delay the digestion process, which isn’t ideal post workout.  You want the protein and carbs to be digested very quickly so they can go to where they are needed.  This also means no flaxseed, nut butter, chia seed etc.

Your post workout meal follows the same rules and portion sizes of your pre workout meal.  The most important macro to consume post workout is protein, in order to prevent protein breakdown and stimulate protein synthesis.  

Carbs are good to maintain and restore liver glycogen, which will help protein synthesis.  Choose a minimally processed, wholefood option with a small amount of fruit.  

It is recommended to eat within two hours post training to avoid slowing recovery.  How much you need to eat will depend on what you ate throughout the day.  Always be mindful of your daily intake.

At the end of the day, the people who benefit most from meal timing are athletes.  So if you’re only really looking to loose a few pounds, your main focus will be on energy balance (calories in and out).  

However, these tips will help you to improve your performance in the gym and who doesn’t want to be able to last a bit longer or lift a bit more?

Happy training!

Core Training

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Everyone is interested in training their core!

Increasing core strength can lead to:

  • Reduction in lower back discomfort
  • Better posture
  • Less trips to the physiotherapist.

This is a full 20 minute workshop explaining EVERYTHING you need to know about your core.

Please Note:

You cannot develop “ABS” by just doing core. That stems from a lot of good quality nutrition, lifestyle and other factors.

To get proper advice consult a professional coaching team (like ourselves) or a Nutritionist!

See Below for Slide Notes

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Originally posted on UNIT13Fitness.ie. Shared with permission.

DASHERS To The Rescue take on the ‘Mizen To Malin’ Cycle Challenge in aid of Cycle Against Suicide

Have you always wanted to combine doing something you love with helping others? Or perhaps you have a deep desire to test yourself and push your body to its limits, all in aid of highlighting a great cause? With so many fitness events taking place throughout Ireland every year, we wanted to be part of something that is not only enjoyable and challenging but contributes toward making a difference to those who need help. DASHERS To The Rescue would like to announce, our involvement and sponsorship, in Cycle Against Suicide’s, ‘Mizen to Malin Cycle Challenge!

We have planned a number of action-packed and exciting events leading up to the challenge, all of which aim to not only get the best out of our riders in terms of preparation, but also create a platform for DASHERS To The Rescue to highlight the importance of mental health in Ireland, and likewise, the world. We are also looking to recruit ‘DASH Champions’, who will have the opportunity to represent DASH and our values as they promote our brand and interest within the community.

What To Expect?

DASH has always been proud of working alongside and collaborating with the community. By continually supporting and donating to various charities and good causes every weekend. We want to take this platform to the next level!

Regular Café Rides

DASH Container Café and its location to the famous Phoenix Park, makes for the perfect Cycling hub for any keen cyclist. Ever since our container opened back in 2020, it’s always been a regular meeting place for many fitness and social occasions, whether that be early mornings or late afternoons. We’re looking to start our own unique DASH Cycling Club, where riders can get together, head off for a cycle and enjoy some delicious coffee and healthy treats afterwards.

Fitness Training & Preparation

Through Larry Brady and his team from UNIT13 Fitness, our fitness partners, we are bringing professional insights and training catered to the needs of the avid cyclist. UNIT13 Fitness will host regular sessions on areas such as strength, conditioning, nutrition and wellbeing, all with the objective of preparing our cyclists to take on the Mizen to Malin cycle challenge. Larry Brady, our Personal Trainer, will delve into the finer details on how to practically and sensibly change your everyday habits in order to develop a healthier balanced lifestyle while enjoying everything that the summer months have to offer.

Bicycle Mechanics On Duty

DASH will have bike mechanics available once per week who will service bikes for all our community riders. They will be responsible for ensuring bikes are well maintained to the highest standards at all times and repairs are carried out efficiently to ensure our riders are safe and prepared for any challenge they may face.

Become a DASH Champion

Are you a fitness fanatic who enjoys being part of a community of individuals who love quality coffee, giving back to the community and all things related to DASH? Do you have a passion to help promote our brand, our community involvement and our commitment to grow interest in the DASH Lifestyle? If yes, then we recommend you sign up to become a DASH Champion.

Our DASH Champions will be our own ambassadors during this journey, as they cycle in aid of Cycle Against Suicide. We’re giving individuals the chance to taste the DASH Lifestyle by applying to become a DASH Champion.

If you’re interested in applying to become a DASH Champion and representing DASH in this momentous event and in future, we encourage you to signup below.

Support the Cycle Against Suicide Mizen to Malin Challenge

Cycle Against Suicide’s, ‘Mizen to Malin Cycle Challenge’, promises to be fun, challenging and ultimately, a great cause in promoting the importance of Mental Health. Participating in this challenge and experiencing the camaraderie with fellow cyclists, our riders will make their way through Ireland’s picturesque views of the West Coast, all in aid of this amazing initiative.

Designed specifically for Cycle Against Suicide’s, ‘Mizen to Malin Cycle Challenge, our professional lightweight DASH cycle jersey, made by Mc Quaid Custom Clothing. If you’re interested in applying to become a DASH Champion and representing DASH in this momentous event and in future, we encourage you to support and donate to this worthy cause.

Why Donate?

Cycle Against Suicide’s aim is to train and deploy ‘Community Buddies’ across Ireland.

The Cycle Against Suicide Buddy Programme prioritises peer-to-peer action as a means

to identify and help those who may be vulnerable.  Our programme trains and equips

participants with the practical, hands-on skills and knowledge they need to deliver

support to those in mental health distress in their local communities.

Why the Buddy Programme?

According to the World Health Organisation communities can play a pivotal role in

preventing suicide and are in a powerful position to mobilise themselves in support of

the individuals affected.  Research shows that the greatest impact is made when support

is provided locally by people and organisations who are part of the communities they

serve.

Research shows that talking – and having a trusted confidant to talk to – is one of the

most powerful factors in promoting good mental health.  Research also shows that

people facing mental health challenges often feel they do not have anyone they can talk

to or rely on to come alongside them. Even when they have people around them, they

are reluctant to engage because they don’t think other people would understand what

they are going through.

Every day in Ireland at least 1 person dies by suicide! Cycle Against Suicide Community Buddy Programme train individuals in OUR local communities – to be able to offer free mental health support. A Community Buddy will be accessible to all persons, free of charge, whenever and wherever it is needed. Recent research into mental health in the workplace found that a large proportion – nearly 80 percent – of Ireland’s corporate employees suffer from concerning levels of

stress, anxiety and depression.

Cycle Against Suicide’s evidence based Schools; Programme – is designed as a whole

school approach to mental health. It supports mental health education in schools,

reduces stigma, promotes resilience and fosters a sense of belonging among young

people.

As a child running was simple.

Put on the runners. Run out the door. Keep running!

Simple. 😇

However as we age there are a few more considerations.

Here are some common notes before starting your 5km, 10k or Marathon programme. These alone will make a massive difference in your running performance. 💯

How often should I run?📆

Run a little and run often. This can be taken one or two ways. However what we may suggest is considering how much time you can realisitically spend running. Give or take it will take you a total of 45 mins – 1.5 hours to get your run in. Even if its just a 30 minute run. (10 minute stretching, 30 min run, 5 mins recovery).

Lifestyle considerations need to be made. This is where a coach will come in handy.

However we suggest starting with 3 times per week. Two running “sessions” and one very slow recovery run.

How far? 😳

If the fastest man in the world was to run 5km it would take him under 13 minutes to do it. If it takes you 25-35 minutes then would it not be wise to run for time.

At the end of the day the guy who ran 13 minutes is finished in half the time. So therefore technicaly he did half of the work.

We would recommend that on 2 days of the week you run for a set amount of time. then on one day of the week run a set calculated distance.

Often times injuries come about from 2 things:

  1. Drastic increase in volume
  2. Drastic increase in intensity.

Therefore take it easy and work from a programme.

How many miles? 🤯

Same answer as above. Realistically you want to run the 5km or 10 k or marathon faster. Therefore to do so you need a good structured programme. I would never prescribe mileage to someone who had been running for less than 1 year consistently 5-6 days per week.

So if you havent been running consistently 5-6 days per week for the last year then forget about miles and follow the rule outlined in the previous point (See the above section on: ‘How Far’)

Hydration

Hydration isn’t a solution for when you have a decrease in performance. Its the solution that you need for optimal performance in every avenue.

If you are a coffee drinker, like most runners are, hydration becomes even more important.

Our rule at UNIT 13 is:

2 Before 2

That simply means 2 litres of water drank before 2pm. Also on hotter days or on heavy training weeks we often encourage clients and runners to consume a Dioralyte 2 to 3 times per week to replace salts and minerals that you have perspired.

Overall you want to be consuming 1 litre per 25kg of bodyweight. Typically 3 litres per day.

Nutrition

If you are running you need fuel.

Your body needs recovery. To find the best solutions consult with a nutritionist. However we do suggest having foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and rich in protein pre and post workout. Fats like avocados or other tend to be a bit more difficult to breakdown after your workout so keep these for other meals.

However when running you want to insist you get the timing of meals right.

Nobody likes running while food sways around in their stomachs.

This then comes down to trial and ‘SMALL errors’. Don’t be silly. Eat wholesome food and leave the takeaways until AFTER physical activity

Why strength train 🧐

As we age we tend to lose lean muscle mass. The reason for this as that at the end of puberty we have a reduction in “growth”. Growth and strength of muscles can only then occur if they have resistance placed upon them and our limbs are challenged to ben and move (strength work).

Think about it…

If you have any join on your body which doesn’t move in its full range of motion because of lack of strength and mobility that joint and the muscles around it are vulnerable to injury…

Therefore our strength and posture isn’t as resilient as it was back X amount of years ago. This may yield some issues in your running performance.

  • Stride length reduction
  • Efficiency decreased due to weak postural muscles
  • Range of motion issues in major joints
  • Bone mineral density issues

However do not let this deter you. Simple contact a professional strength coach (US…. wink wink). Strength coaches and coaches are typically a lot cheaper than they used to be. But a good one can cost you anything from €30-75 per week for 2-3 sessions per week).

How fast? (Pace) 💨

This is my favourite one.

Its so so easy to get wrong.

When we talk about 70% or 100% that does not mean sprinting pace when we talk about anything longer than 100m.

Technically a human being can only reach max 100% sprint pace over the course of 50-80m. Coming to the end of a 100m race the fastest athletes in the world are actually fatiguing and slowing down!

SO…

When training for anything take the below chart and implement that pacing strategy.

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In terms of training intensity over the course of a 5 day running programme I would start with something that involved all running at 50-70% for 2-3 weeks and then move to something like this:

Mon: Steady LIGHT run 30 minutes

Tues: Intervals 3 minutes on 1.5 minute off x6 (80-90%)

Weds: Rest

Thur: 20 minute Tempo (70-80%)

Fri: 35 Minute light run (50%)

Sat: Long run 35-40 mins (60-70%)

Sun: Yoga / Pilates / Strength work.

What footwear? 👟

  1. Dont buy the ones that look fancy just for the sakes of it!
  2. Typically here the best thing to do s go into a running shop. A running shop is best. Typically the people working in here are athletes / runners themselves so they all you loads of questions, then ask you to have a look at your feet (have the nails done…) so that they can assess for pronation / supination.
  3. I would suggest being assessed by these shops and trying a pair of runners that suit you. The key here is have enough room in the ‘toe box’ to wiggle and flatten your toes for some sense of comfort.
  4. When you find the right pair. Buy 2 pairs. That way you can then switch them out when wet from the day before and also your feet get used to the same type of shoe so that you dont have to get used to them every-time you put them on.

Food can influence your mood! Now more than ever we need to be mindful of our mood and mental health, whilst some may feel a sense of anxiety due to our current circumstances, the food we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel and manage stress.

Laurann O’Reilly, a qualified nutritionist and owner of Nutrition by Laurann, provides us with some nutritional strategies which can play a role in regulating stress, improving our mood and overall health.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that whilst our mood can have a huge influence on our food choices, our food choices can also influence our mood. For this reason it’s even more important to make right food choices for our body and mind and weigh up the short term rewards of sugar and processed food with the long term rewards of nourishing foods, which provide us with energy, promote brain function and support our mental health.

1) Blood Sugar Balance

During challenging times our stress hormones such as cortisol can cause us to crave foods high in fat and sugar as part of our fight or flight response. Unfortunately this can result in sugar crashes and cravings which have a negative effect on our blood sugar levels and can cause our mood to fluctuate.

Tip: Avoid foods high in sugar such as white bread/pasta/rice, cakes and biscuits and opt for wholegrain bread/pasta/rice/oats and seeded options instead.

2) Avoid Processed Foods

Recent studies suggest that some mood disorders may be linked to inflammation and that a greater consumption of foods associated with inflammation such as trans fats and refined carbohydrates which are found in processed and take away foods may also have an effect on our mood.

Tip: It can be helpful to check the labels of your food, long ingredient lists can often indicate that foods are more processed. Also be aware of the cheaper vegetable oils as they are often high in ‘trans-fat’ mentioned above, instead opt for extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil for cooking.

Recent studies suggest that some mood disorders may be linked to inflammation and that a greater consumption of foods associated with inflammation such as trans fats and refined carbohydrates which are found in processed and take away foods may also have an effect on our mood.

3) Mood Food & Gut Feelings

Have you ever experienced a ‘gut feeling’ or tummy issues when faced with anxiety and stress? That’s because there is a ‘gut-brain connection’. Inflammation and imbalance in our gut has also been found affect our mood and anxiety. Often referred to as the ‘second brain’ our gut contains billions of receptors and messengers which send messages to our brain and almost 90% of your serotonin (happy hormone) is produced in your gut. Our gut bacteria also send messages to the brain which can impact our stress responses.

Tip: To keep your gut healthy try to include foods such as probiotic yogurt, fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. It may also be helpful to take a course of probiotics, particularly if you have recently been on anti-biotics (it generally takes about 3 months for the gut bacteria to re balance)

4) Omega 3 Fatty Acids

As almost 60% of the brain is made of fatty acids, omega 3 fatty acids play an important role maintaining healthy brain and supplementation can help to improve the mood of patients diagnosed with depression.

Tip: Aim for 2-3 portions of oily fish/week  (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines), as well as walnuts, chia seed and flax seed (or oil). You can also get omega 3  in supplement form in most pharmacies and health stores.

our food choices can influence our mood

5) Dark Chocolate/Raw Cocoa

Yes, chocolate is good for you, that is without the added milk and sugar. Studies have found that dark chocolate or raw cocoa can boost brain function, improve mood, as may even lower anxiety and depression. This is because cocoa causes the brain to release endorphins, boosts serotonin levels as well as being high in the fiber and valuable minerals magnesium, zinc and potassium. Remember the higher the cocoa content (the darker the chocolate) the better.

Tip: Add two squares of dark chocolate (70% +) / two teaspoons of raw cocoa nibs / raw cocoa powder in cereal,  yogurt or smoothies. You can also make a tasty and nutritious hot chocolate made with raw cocoa powder, coconut/dairy milk & honey. Raw cocoa powder or nibs should be available in most health stores and some supermarkets.

6) Bananas

Who knew, the innocent banana would come up on this list? As it turns out bananas contain an amino acid (protein building block) called ‘tryptophan’ which is essential for creating serotonin (the happy hormone) and also melatonin (the sleep hormone), thus having positive benefits for both mood and sleep!

Tip: As the sugar from bananas is quickly released you can balance this out by having it on wholegrain brown bread, topped with a little cinnamon.

7) Valuable Vitamins & Minerals in Mood Food

Our micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) play an important role in regulating our mood as they are involved in the synthesis of messengers called ‘neurotransmitters’ which send messages to the brain. The main messengers associated with mood are serotonin and dopamine (otherwise known as the happy hormones) as well as gamma-aminobutyric acid GABA (which plays a role in anxiety regulation). Balancing these messengers can help to support our nervous system, reduce anxiety and improve our mental health.

B Vitamins

Deficiencies in the vitamins B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (folate) have been linked to low mood and in some cases depression. This is because these vitamins play an important roles in the manufacture of serotonin, dopamine, GABA and help to support the adrenal glands which regulate stress and anxiety. Other B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism (the creation of energy) and can help reduce the fatigue and tiredness which often accompanies low mood.

Food Sources

Wholegrain foods, meat, dairy, eggs, seeds, nuts, fruit and vegetables. It may also be helpful to take a ‘B Complex’ vitamin supplement which can provide you with the full range of B vitamins to support your nervous system and energy production. This should be available in most pharmacies and health stores.

here's some nutritional strategies to help regulate stress, improving our mood and overall health.

Vitamin D

As our bodies produce vitamin D from sunlight, our levels of this vitamin can seriously decrease during the dark winter months. It has also been suggested that that this drop in vitamin D may be linked to ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or SAD, a mood disorder  which is also common in individuals during this times, this is because vitamin D is involved in regulating the production of serotonin.

Food Sources

Oily fish, eggs, fortified foods such as breakfast cereal and milk. Due to the low levels of sunshine in winter I would recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement during the winter months, which is available in most pharmacies and health stores.

Magnesium

Known as ‘nature’s natural sedative’, magnesium is plays an important role in regulating our stress response, recovery, repair and sleep. Studies have also found magnesium to be effective for mild to moderate depression in adults.

Food Sources

Wholegrain foods, oats, bananas, broccoli, dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds and soybeans. Magnesium supplements are also available in most pharmacies and health stores

Zinc

Essential for brain and nerve development and can assist in balancing GABA, the anxiety regulating messenger. Studies have also found that supplementing with zinc results in improved mood and brain function.

Food Sources

Red meat, liver, eggs and wholegrain foods. Zinc again can be taken in supplement form which should be available in most pharmacies and health stores.

Selenium

Plays an important role in the brain and nervous system, improves brain function as well as regulating dopamine (happy hormone).

Food Sources

Lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, brazil nuts and wholegrain food.

Nutritional strategies and food to help regulate stress, improving our mood and overall health.

Choline

Although neither classified as a vitamin or a mineral, this nutrient plays an important role in the production of the neurotransmitter (cell messenger) acetylcholine which is promotes mood and improves memory.

Food Sources

Beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, mushrooms and beans. This can also be purchased in supplement form from most health stores.

For further information see www.nutritionbylaurann.ie  or contact Laurann at info@nutritionby.laurann.ie

About Laurann:

A farmer’s daughter from Tipperary, Laurann has always had an appreciation for food, nutrition and health promotion.  Laurann has an honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin. She is also an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London.  With a passion for nutrition and experience working in Ireland and the UK,  Laurann uses her knowledge and skills to help people achieve optimum health and assists in the prevention and treatment of nutritional related problems through means of nutritional consultation, personalised diet plans, health promotion and education.

A farmer’s daughter from Tipperary, Laurann has always had an appreciation for food, nutrition and health promotion.

Laurann has an honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin. She is also an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London.

With a passion for nutrition and experience working in Ireland and the UK,  Laurann uses her knowledge and skills to help people achieve optimum health and assists in the prevention and treatment of nutritional related problems through means of nutritional consultation, personalised diet plans, health promotion and education.

DASH launches the Active in April Challenge, 2021 which is an exciting virtual community-based fundraising event in partnership with Peter McVerry Trust. This lockdown is hitting every one of us hard so we at DASH are using this opportunity to get motivated, mentally fit and spread some positivity and goodwill.

By participating you will not only feel great as you accomplish your physical, mental, and fundraising goals, you will officially become part of the DASH community. Your Active in April challenge will have a far-reaching impact on others as the funds you raise will help someone accessing a Peter McVerry Trust service. Your support will help those experiencing homelessness to take the next steps towards a life of independent living which is currently out of their reach. If you are the type of person who feels excited about making New Year’s resolutions every year but find yourself losing enthusiasm as the weeks go by and giving up entirely by the month of March, remember you are not alone. We at DASH won’t tell you what to do but we will offer you lots of tips to recommit to previously set goals, to set new targets, stay motivated and have fun along the way. This challenge is the game changer in a year of never-ending restrictions and lockdowns as it gives you total control to set your own realistic goals which are challenging enough to excite you, achievable and have meaning and purpose for you.

Set Your Challenge & Open doors to people experiencing homelessness

All you need to do is set your own challenge. It could be anything – get fit, run 2k a day, learn a new skill, walk outdoors every lunchtime, learn to play an instrument, eat clean… the list goes on. If you haven’t done so already start thinking about your goal and your whys, your motivation. Get reflective, make your decision, and commit to it for the 30 days, or even just a single day, of April. As humans we are attracted to pleasure so picture a healthy, happy proud version of yourself. Think of the difference the amount raised will make to the Peter McVerry Trust who help open doors to people experiencing homelessness.

Active in April limited edition t-shirt
Limited Edition T-shirt

Once signed up you will receive a limited-edition Active in April t-shirt and a free coffee at DASH Container Cafe every Sunday in April.

Welcome to the club – you are officially a member of the DASH community, supporting one another through our Active in April Challenge.

Create a virtual and face to face social life

There are fun times ahead, you are now a DASHER to the rescue. DASHERS to the rescue are a growing community of like-minded people who are living active, healthy lifestyles and are passionate about contributing to society along with enjoying good quality coffee, chats, and treats. Each week we at DASH will keep you motivated, give tips and hints on how to maximise your wellbeing. Active in April will look different for everyone yet we are doing this together, keeping one another accountable, raising awareness, boosting our wellbeing, and building connections during this pandemic.

Over to You

What is your challenge? Why is it important to you? How will you look/feel at the end of the challenge? What do you hope to gain by participating in Active in April? Keep us and the rest of the community inspired by posting pictures & inspirational quotes on social media and use the hashtag #ActiveInApril2021 and tag both DASH Container Café and The Peter McVerry Trust.

Written by: Kay Murphy, DASH Mindfulness Coach 

In this profile we feature Barbara Kruta, your Slovakian Power Pilates instructor, who fell in love with Ireland during her travels to the Emerald Isle 15 years ago. Fast forward 15 years and she’s still here!

What is power Pilates? And what is the difference between strength and cardio classes?

Power Pilates is Pilates with elements of strength, conditioning and cardio with the main focus on core, balance, endurance and stability.

This class is slightly faster paced than traditional classical Pilates.

Cardio Pilates will be focused on heart rate increase and flexibility while Pilates for strength will be slower on pace with some static exercises targeting larger muscle groups.

We have asked Barbara a few questions, let’s see what she said!

park pilates with barbara kruta

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I grew up and attended school in Bratislava, a gorgeous city in Slovakia.

What is your most precious childhood memory?

Because I love Christmas time, I would say that every Christmas with my family is a super precious memory.

Why did you move to Dublin?

I came to Dublin for holiday after finishing high school in Slovakia. I booked a two month trip to travel and explore Ireland and 15years later I am still here.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Baileys on the rocks (a very rare guilty pleasure).

Do you like coffee?

I actually can’t imagine a day without my few cups of coffee.

Coffee is my daily energiser!

Super-salad or death-by-chocolate?

Super salad

Who has been your biggest motivators in life?

My biggest Irish motivators are Rachel Lee and English Adam Walker (two phenomenal open water swimmers that absolutely amaze me).

I love cycling and so another person who inspire me is definitely Peter Sagan (Slovakian) who makes Tour de France these days super exciting. (I wish I will be able to cycle like him one day😃).

But perhaps my biggest motivator has to be my mam because of her strength, love and kindness. She is also exceptionally fit at the age of 67.
She cycles almost everyday and swims locally in open water. A true inspiration!

What other activities do you do?

I play piano. I love to swim in the sea. I enjoy getting lost in the mountains – either hiking, running, or cycling.

Reading, I could read forever…