10 questions your body wants to ask you

All the answers to those burning questions we all have about our health, body and mind. Read on for a happier, healthier you.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
All the answers to those burning questions we all have about our health, body and mind. Read on for a happier, healthier you.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos
1 What if I exercise because it makes me feel good, not just look good?

Exercise makes you stronger, keeps your weight stable and helps you feel youthful. But did you know it’s also good for the soul? When leading an active lifestyle, it’s no coincidence that anxiety decreases. Working out releases chemicals in the brain, which can affect your mood and boost feelings of pleasure and happiness. What’s more, it prompts increases the heart rate and prompts hormonal change. In short, your ability to handle everyday stresses will get better if you’re active on a regular basis.

2 Can I get a leaner body without ever running?

When the word “cardio” comes to mind, you think running… and you really loathe it. Don’t stress – the definition of cardio is “anything that gets the heart rate up”. Incorporate stair climbs into your workouts, as they are guaranteed to give your heart and lungs a solid workout, while also strengthening your legs and butt. You could even add some intense moves like jumping jacks, burpees, squat jumps, mountain climbers and high knees to up your cardio fix. Or you can try out a dance or power yoga class – both work up a sweat and burn major calories.

3 Is it possible to develop a much flatter stomach with no exercise?

Forget the “100 sit-ups a day” challenge because it’s never going to give you abs of steel. Surprisingly, it actually comes down to what you eat. First up, ditch fried foods and all refined sugar. Next, increase your leafy greens and fibrous vegetable intake, eat some lean protein with each meal and make sure that you eat a few servings of healthy fats every day. Plus, get a big metabolic boost with anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger, chilli and cinnamon; they’ll give your metabolism a natural boost.

4 If I master a workout, will I be fitter?

Unfortunately, nailing one single workout isn’t going to increase your fitness levels. In fact, it could set you back. The more our bodies follow a set pattern of movement, the less energy it uses and what you get out of that type of exercise decreases. So mix up your activities as well as your movements. For example, add in some sprints, change your direction, and twist and turn quickly on your daily jog.

5 Why bother if I can’t give my all?

One of the most important parts of exercising regularly is the rest and recovery period. If you are nowhere near being able to give it your all, it’s probably not going to be a good workout, anyway. So, instead of having an average gym session today and tomorrow, spend the time that you would have been working out by doing something to help with your energy levels for the next day. But what happens if you’re just being lazy in your approach to exercise? This depends on your threshold. Spend a moment checking in with yourself: do you feel exhausted to the point that your workout would be compromised? Then it’s time to sit it out. And if you’re one of those people who just can’t possibly skip a workout, opt for a yoga class or a walk.

6 Exercise vs sleep – what’s best for me?

Sleep deprivation leads to low testosterone and humangrowth hormones, both of which are important for muscle repair. A clear lack of shut-eye also means cortisol and insulin levels increase, leading to fat storage. On top of all of that, missing out on sleep means you won’t be as mentally strong – goodbye motivation! Now don’t use this excuse too often, but sometimes, skipping your workout for a decent night’s sleep or sleep-in is the best move you can make for your health and body.

7 What’s more important: being healthy or trying to be skinny?

This comes down to how metabolically fit you are. Despite your body weight, how physically fit you are will be a top indicator when it comes to judging your metabolic fitness. There are some people who can be fit on the inside and healthier than some thinner people they know. Those who choose to lose weight by constantly undertaking different diets and appear particularly trim, still carry too much visceral fat and not enough muscle on them. Whether you’re thin, of an average weight or even if you sit a little bit closer to the overweight mark, exercise is always beneficial. It will definitely be a positive influence on your core body systems as well as organs. It supports your metabolic health, despite your weight.

8 Does it really matter if I don’t eat protein for brekkie?

Yes. Ditching the cereal and peanut butter on toast breakfasts and replacing them with a brekkie rich in proteins, fibre and fats can make a big difference.

Why protein is so important:

• You’ll be burning energy from your first meal of the day.

• Your overall fat-burning metabolism will increase.

• Your energy levels will be more consistent, without peaks and crashes (we’re talking about those 3pm munchies).

• You’ll feel more focused and it will increase your stamina.

9 Would you speak to your friends the way you speak to yourself sometimes?

When you’re with your mates, you praise the people they are. But you need to always remember, despite how hard it is, that you’re an amazing person, too. Negative self-talk can become how we actually defi ne ourselves and set the tone for how others treat you. Getting out of this habit takes time and practice. Search for something you love about yourself to start on the journey to self-love. Finding a solution will benefit you and everyone around you.

10 What if I choose meals based on nutrition rather than calories?

Rather than picking meals based purely on the calorie content, start to think more about nutritionally dense, high-quality food. These include unrefi ned, minimally processed foods including vegetable and fruit, whole grains and healthy sources of protein and fats. So make sure that you’re getting at least a few cups of veggies each day, plus one piece of fruit. Aim to eat some protein every meal, a couple of small serves of good quality fats per day, some antioxidant-loaded leafy greens, some dark-skinned fruits, and don’t forget to drink a few litres of water a day.

Then try to switch your morning latte to herbal teas with ginger (for its antiinflammatory properties) and green tea, which is loaded up with antioxidants. At night, drink a cup of chamomile tea for a good, restful sleep. Also, make sure you get in some simple carbs like banana or some dates after a workout, and then have a few serves of fibre-rich complex carbs like brown rice, oats, sweet potato and greens at other times throughout the day. We guarantee you’ll be too full for that after-dinner cookie stash if you do!

Try out a dance or power yoga class – both are great ways to work up a sweat and burn major calories.