5 TARGETS FOR THE MIND AND BODY THIS NEW YEAR

Forget vague resolutions and instead set a wellness goal for 2016. Here are five great targets for mind and body, and advice on how to achieve them.

First published nationally in Body+Soul newspaper supplement on January 3, 2016. Also featured on the website mybodyandsoul.com.au on January 6, 2016.

Do an Ocean Swim

ocean swim

Andre Slade is the founder of Ocean Fit in Sydney

What is ocean swimming?
“It’s all about enjoying the freedom of the open water in the natural environment. It’s a free resource and once you’ve got the skills, you can enjoy it for the rest of your life.”

Why would I want to do it?
“It’s about getting out of the pool, experiencing the freedom of the open water and challenging yourself. For a lot of people, the ocean is a frightening place where they wouldn’t feel in control. The more you understand the ocean, the more confident you’re going to feel to get out there to take on the elements and win.”

What skills are required?
“The core skill is to be able to swim – other than your swimmers and goggles, there’s not much else.”

How much training do I need?
“You’ll need to get into the pool first, clock up the kilometres, get pool fit and ensure you have an efficient stroke. The next step is to jump into ocean swimming training. Ocean swimming is quite different and you need to learn to adapt the different techniques.”

Where can I find an ocean swim to compete in?
“Go to oceanfit.com.au to view a national calendar of ocean-swimming events near you. The most popular swim distance for beginners is 1km. Start small and work your way up.”
Slade recommends starting with private or small-group ocean-swimming lessons.

SLADE’S 5 STEPS TO ACHIEVING YOUR FIRST OCEAN-SWIM GOAL:
1. Find a friend to join you on your journey. It’s always more fun with a partner, and you can encourage each other every step of the way.
2. Get a swimming technique check-up. Swimming is a lot easier when you’re doing it efficiently, so have a coach get you in ship-shape before you start ocean-swim training.
3. Build up your swimming fitness. Coached pool swim squads are the best, or ensure you’re following a self-guided training program.
4. Develop your ocean confidence. Increase your ocean awareness and learn swimming techniques for dealing with open water.
5. Spend lots and lots of time in the ocean. Nothing beats being in the sea and slowly building up your confidence and fitness in this dynamic environment.

SWIMMING BUDDIES

When Zoe (pictured above, right) moved to Sydney from the UK, one of her goals was to embrace the coastal lifestyle. “Ocean swimming seemed a good way to keep fit,” she says.

Anna has always loved the ocean and says, “I signed up for my first ocean-swimming event a couple of years ago. I knew that if I signed up for an event and had people sponsoring me for charity, there’d be no pulling out. Since then I’ve been hooked.”

Both women believe ocean swimming has enhanced their fitness and confidence. “My swimming has improved and, as for my lifestyle, there’s no better way to start the day than behind the waves as the sun is coming up,” Anna says.

Get a Flat Tummy

flat tummy

Amanda Brown is the Jetts Fitness National Personal Trainer of the year for 2015

Why get a flat tummy?
“A flatter tummy means you’re healthy, fit and making good nutritional choices,” Brown says.

How important is nutrition in this goal?
“It’s important you develop a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein.”
What gear do I need?
“A gym membership is ideal because rain, hail or shine you’ve got no excuse but to get to the gym and achieve your goals.”
How much training is required?
“Balance is optimal with the nutrition side but you need to combine that with weight training, high-intensity interval training and weights. Increasing lean muscle mass will help burn fat and get that flat tummy.”

AMANDA’S 5 STEPS TO GETTING A FLAT STOMACH:
1. Create new, healthier habits. Start the morning with a warm lemon water to get the digestive system going for the day.
2. Begin a food diary. It will help to keep you accountable especially during those vulnerable times when you’re tempted to slip and eat badly.
3. Grab a buddy.You can always convince yourself to skip a session, but letting down a friend isn’t so easy.
4. Set yourself some mini milestone goals. Reward yourself along the way – perhaps your first goal means a facial.
5. Make fitness fun. Your best results will come when you enjoy the journey. Find the thing you love the most and do more of it.

Do a Yoga Headstand

yoga headstand

Shyamala Benakovic is CEO at Yoga Australia

What is yoga?
“Yoga is a whole mind-body system that looks after the health and wellbeing of individuals. It’s a holistic system that helps the physical body, the mental body and also involves meditation.”

What’s involved in a yoga headstand?
“A yoga headstand is part of a group of postures called inversions. Inversions are any posture that has the head below the heart, so you can have your legs against a wall while doing a headstand and still get the same benefits. But the difference is that the headstand is also strengthening your arms and core. There are contrary indications to this – someone with high blood pressure or sinus issues shouldn’t try these postures.”

What gear is required?
“All you need is practice, a safe environment and a qualified teacher to instruct you on how to get in and out of the postures safely.”

How much training do I need to do?
“It will take some training with a qualified yoga practitioner and practice to build the core strength to get those legs up.”

Where do I go to get help?
“Seek out a qualified yoga practitioner in your area, go to regular yoga classes and practise, practise, practise.”

BENAKOVIC’S 5 STEPS TO DOING A YOGA HEADSTAND:
1. Find a qualified teacher who’s able to teach headstands with confidence. Check out yogaaustralia.com.au. They should know about the challenges of doing headstands and be able to assess if you’re ready.
2. Develop a daily practice/sequence with the teacher that leads to headstands.
3. Start with less challenging inversions. This lets the teacher guide your progress. Get clear on your limitations and what you need to develop.
4. Understand the safe way to get in and out of headstand. This helps prevent injury.
5. Maintain a regular practice and you’ll find the headstand becomes less challenging over time.

Meditate for 10 Minutes a Day

meditate

Gayatari Phillips of The Australian School of Meditation & Yoga

What is meditation?
“Meditation is more than just a way to calm the mind through breathing and reciting mantras, it’s also a way to understand who you are.”

Why meditate?
“As well as our physical wellbeing, we really need to focus on our mental and spiritual wellbeing as well. We need all three… to move towards optimum physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, in order to be completely balanced and find that harmony we’re all looking for. After meditating, your mind is calmer and more focused. We bring our mind under control instead of letting the mind control us.”

What gear do I need?
“Just your breath and mantras. You can meditate at home, at the park, anywhere at all, but if you can find somewhere quiet, it’s going to be much easier to focus.”

How much practice is involved in meditation?
“You should practise every day and don’t worry if you’re not perfect at it. There are no rules or regulations. Some people think they can’t meditate and it’s just too hard but it’s not really.”

Should I join a meditation class?
“Most people find in the beginning they’re not so disciplined, so being in a class can help. If you hang out with like-minded people you’re going to go in that direction.”

PHILLIPS’S 5 STEPS TO MEDITATING EVERY DAY:
1. Dedicate 5-10 minutes daily to your practice and get into a routine. It will soon become a habit.
2. Set up an area in your home that’s conducive to meditation with candles or incense.
3. Sit or lie comfortably and be aware of your breath. Inhale, filling your abdomen, ribs, and upper chest. Exhale by emptying your lungs.
4. Inhaling, say “gor-ra-ang-ga” in your mind. Exhaling, say it out loud for the length of the exhalation.
5. Join a meditation class to further your practice. Check out asmy.org.au

Take Part in Obstacle Racing

obstable race

Jase Lydom is a partner at Obstacle Racers Australia

What’s involved?
“An obstacle race involves all elements of fitness. You’ll need strength, cardio, agility and flexibility as you’ll be doing different things such as climbing, crawling, dragging, jumping and running.”

Why should I take part?
“The most important element is fun. There’s lots of mud and you go there with friends, challenge yourself, help each other out and just have a really great time. Obstacle races are a great way to test your strength and fitness. And one of the best parts is it’s like being a little kid again – swinging from ropes and running through mud.”

What gear do I need?
“Invest in a pair of comfortable shoes with good grip for when you’re going through the mud and obstacles. As for what you wear, just make sure it’s something you’re going to feel comfortable in – and that you’re not too worried about getting dirty.”

How much training is required?
“You should do training which involves a bit of running and a focus on upper body, core and leg strength. Some of the races have training schedules on their websites. Beginners need to train at least two to three times a week in the lead-up to their first race and eight weeks is a good amount of time between deciding to do a race, training and taking part.”

Where can I find an obstacle race to try?
“Go to obstacleracers.com.au, look for a race near you that’s a minimum of eight weeks away and go for it.”

LYDOM’S 5 STEPS TO OBSTACLE RACE GLORY:
1. Research which obstacle races will be taking place in your state or region.
2. Target a race that’s no less than eight weeks away. You’ll need that time to prepare and train.
3. Find a trainer in your area – who trains outdoors – and brief them on your goal.
4. Follow your trainer’s obstacle-race training program. This should include strength, running, mobility and core exercises, as well as the correct nutrition.
5. Most importantly, have fun. These events can be tough but they’re really about having a good time.
Sisters, Bec and Lou Gerry love competing in obstacle races

 

“Our prep [for the 12km Mudderella obstacle race in 2015] focused on laughter and building of excitement rather than too much physical training,” Bec says. Bec and Lou recommend obstacle racing to anyone. “The empowerment and fun you’ll have is something you can take with you,” Lou says.

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