“Exercise is as important as sleep”

How do you keep your newly found workout motivation, and how could training become a natural part of your everyday life?

What kind of advice you receive depends on whom you ask. The reason? We are all motivated by different things. However, there are some general advices we all could find useful.

“At first, sit down and determine why you want to make a lifestyle change, and write it down. This way you can read it if your motivation drops. Then you are reminded why you started, and you hopefully continue the good habits that you started in January,” Health and Fitness Therapist, Hilde Kyllo, says.

She runs a fitness centre in the attic of the barn on her farm, and is a self-proclaimed “fitness farmer”. Every day she motivates people to live a healthier and more vigorous life, and one of her tips for success is to write down your goals for your new training regime:

“But don’t make them too extensive. Focus on simple and achievable goals, and feel free to set a new goal for each month.”

“For example, set a goal to train twice a week in February, while in March you will carry out 6 interval sessions. There you have some concrete and achievable ambitions,” she continues.

Photo: "Fitness farmer" Hilde Kyllo.
“Fitness farmer” Hilde Kyllo.

As important as sleep

Kyllo says connecting training to something else important in life also could be motivating for some.

“Consider that exercising is as important as, for example, sleep. Exercise protects our health, and if we have a sedentary job it is something we must do to keep us healthy. And remember that exercise is good for both body and head, she motivates.”

According to the fitness farmer you should also find a type of exercise that makes your body happy, and conduct the training in a way that lives you with a smile.

“You can train with someone, listen to music that makes you smile, and you can dance, jump and bounce instead of running. It may also be wise to make training appointments with a friend. Then you’ve committed yourself to more than a monthly fee at a gym, which makes it harder to skip the planned workouts.”

Illustration photo: Find someone to train with.
Find someone to exercise with.

Exercise tips

Finally, Kyllo have some exercise tips that can be both motivational and healthy:

“If you really want to get in good shape, and not just getting started with exercise, I would probably recommend interval training and strength training for larger muscle groups: deadlift, military press, pull downs and squats are some examples. Personally, I am currently motivated by exercises where I can implement jumps. Bulgarian squats with jumps, jump lunge, skate jumps and squats with jumps are some examples.”

“And I cannot exclude the exercise that really gets your heart rate going: burpees,” she concludes.

Motivating intervals

Health and Exercise Therapist Hilde Kyllo wrote this article.

I like to share training tips, and best of all I like to share specific exercises I know others will benefit from. Therefore, I will share an effective, short and motivating interval session with you.

Nothing compares to a run outside in nice weather. And I’m guessing many will agree with me on this. However, you often end up running the same rout each time, which can quickly become both boring and ineffective. This interval session, on the other hand, is far from boring. It only takes twenty-five minutes and the speed increases 0.2 km/h each interval. As you probably have understood, these intervals must by carried out on a treadmill.

Hilde after a motivating intervall workout.
Hilde after a motivating intervall workout.

How to (example):

– Run at 10km/h for 45 seconds

– Jump off the mill for 15 seconds. While you have your pause, increase the speed to 10.2 km/h.

– After 15 seconds, jump on again and run at 10.2 km/h for 45 seconds.

– Jump off again and increase the speed to 10.4 km/h.

– Repeat this until you have reached 15 km/h.

This is just an example. Set the speed corresponding to your physical fitness and running skills. If you’re a good runner, you can start at 12 km/h and finish at 17 km/h. However, you can also start at, for example, 8 km/h and finish at 13km/h.

There’s no need for a warm-up, because the first ten minutes should be relatively slow.

Try to carry out these intervals 2-4 times a month, in addition to other training, and I guarantee you’re running skills will improve. Even though it’s dark and cold outside.

Good health is no “quick-fix”.

“Research shows a clear correlation between the amount of physical activity and health. Already by light muscular activity we see positive effects in the body; it increases blood flow, and blood sugars are regulated better than when you rest. The rewards are simply formidable. Regular physical activity prevents a total of 30 diseases, and can even cure mild depression, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

– Jakob Linhave, Deputy Director in The Norwegian Directorate of Health –

Good health is no “quick-fix”. If you want a good health, you have to exercise regularly throughout your life. The question is: how do you motivate yourself for such a big change in your life? Personal trainer, Victoria Schram, have given us some advice.

“The important thing is to really figure out why you want to live a healthier life,” Schram says.

“You have to dig deep within yourself, and figure out why you should change anything,” she continues.

Personal trainer, Victoria Schram.
Personal trainer, Victoria Schram.

The personal trainer tells us she often sees people decide to go through a lifestyle change, without really knowing why they do it.

“If, for example, you want to lose weight, you should know exactly why weight loss is your motivation to start training. There should be some good arguments as to why you should bother getting up from the couch. For me, it’s not a good enough argument that: I’m going to look better if I lose a few kilos.”

Specific goals

Schram also advice us to set goals, and as she has pointed out, they have to be specific.

“You should decide where you want to be within an exact date. The goals should be attainable, yet they should not be “easy” to achieve. You should have something to strive for and work towards.”

“We have to remember, had it been easy you would probably have reached it already,” she points out.

The coach also specifies that it is important to set smaller ambitions along the way, and decide what to do when one actually reaches the final goal.

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Establish a good exercise routine

However, even if you have established a goal for the training, it’s not given that you’re able to keep your newly found motivation.

How can you make the training routines last?

“My best tip is to adapt the training to your everyday life. Don’t bite over more than you can chew, and be realistic when setting up your training week,” Schram says.

She specify, however, that it’s equally important to prioritize training:

“Everyone knows there will come days you feel you don’t have time to work out. You should decide to hit the gym anyway, and do as much as you can of the other stuff afterwards. You have to be stern with yourself.”

“A lot of people also benefit from a training partner, a personal trainer or joining group sessions at their gym.”

LH

Have fun!

According to Schram it’s also easier to find motivation if you find an activity you look forward to.

“For those wishing to get in shape, I recommend finding an exercise you actually enjoy. If you hate to run, don’t run. There are many forms of exercise that can give the same result. Be a little creative and don’t be afraid to ask a specialist for help,” she explains.

“Another tip when it comes to training, is to choose quality over quantity. If your goal is to reduce the fat percentage, you don’t have to scuff around the fitness centre and do innumerable strength exercises with long pauses.”

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Victoria recommend interval training

How do you reduce your fat percentage?

“Get your heart rate up, and use the pauses effectively. An example is to do another exercise between sets to keep your heart rate up. You could, for instance, do agility jumps between your bench press sets. Far too many use the pauses to keep themselves updated on on-line newspapers, Facebook and everything else.”

“When you’re training, TRAIN,” she says.

Finally, the personal trainer recommends an effective exercise:

“I recommend that you run intervals. It’s the most effective way to work on your endurance! And always make sure to challenge your body to work harder by increasing the speed of the mill. You should actually sweat when exercising, you know.”

Eat yourself slim

One in five Norwegians is carrying excess weight, according to the public health report from 2014. The report blames changes in environmental conditions: “At population level, changes in environmental conditions, rather than changes in genes, explain the significant changes we have seen in weight in the Norwegian population during the last decades. We live in a society that encourages physical inactivity, and where food offerings are both substancial and tempting. “

Eat yourself slim

Berit Nordstrand is a doctor at St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, cognitive therapist, author and popular speaker. She is passionate about diet and exercise. She believes that people should love the food they eat and the life they live – and that everyone should enjoy themselves more. Earlier this year she published the book “12 weeks to a healthier life and a narrower waist”, and she believes that many people bite over more than they can chew when they try to lose weight.

“It is important to focus on small steps, not major changes. Many small steps lead to a big change,” she says.

Nordstrand has devised a 12-week programme which the book guides you through. Step by step and week by week.

“It is about changing a pattern and creating new and better habits. You should make a permanent change,” she says.

She continues to say that you will lose five to ten kilos over the twelve weeks if you follow her advice.

“Klaus Sonstad (a Norwegian television celebrity) followed the programme while I was writing the book, and he lost eighteen kilograms during the twelve weeks,” she says.

Berit-tekopp-Lasse-Berre
Berit Nordstrand

Replace the unhealthy calories

The doctor and mother of six says that you do not have to eat less, nor eat tasteless food, in order to lose weight.

“In my house we eat cakes, cookies or desserts every day,” she says.

“However, we make these treats ourselves, and by replacing the unhealthy calories with more nutritional ingredients, we get smarter building blocks per bite,” she adds.

Nordstrand explains that diet is 90 percent of your weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you have to replace food that switches off the metabolism to food that turns up your metabolism, and gives you more energy and motivation.

Misinterpreting sugar cravings

“The first food I advise anyone to replace is sugar. Replace it with other sweeteners, such as honey. Honey is a natural sweetener, which additionally contains a carbohydrate called palatinose. Palatinose is a low-glycaemic carbohydrate that provides long-term and stable blood sugar,” she says.

“Slow sugars can also produce results such as improved memory and concentration, a better mood and prevention from lifestyle diseases. You can get a far better quality of life with more useful building blocks without removing a single calorie,” she continues.

Nordstrand points out that it is important to replace all foods containing sugar, but there are many good alternatives.

“Replace soft drinks with carbonated water flavoured with lime or lemon, mix frozen berries with a small amount of overripe apples in a blender to replace sugary jam, use sweet dates or organic maple syrup as a substitute for sugar on for example porridge. There are plenty of good options,” she says.

Nordstrand explains further that people often misinterpret their own body and the signals it sends.

“A craving for sugar is the body’s way of saying that it needs proteins, not that it needs sugar. You have to learn to interpret your cravings,” she explains.

“Eat a small handful of nuts and a little dark chocolate if you fancy something sweet. It is enough to take away the craving, and it will also provide some sensible nourishment,” she adds.

Think outside the box

Next Nordstrand recommends replacing baked goods containing wheat flour, but not to worry, there are many good alternatives.

“Modern flour slows down metabolism and makes you put on weight. The modern flour also promotes allergies and weakens the bacterial flora in the intestine. This allows the creation of more inflammatory substances in the blood, which has a correlation with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. If you choose whole grains and seeds, like bran and germ, you will gain more stable blood sugar levels,” she explains.

There are many recipes for both breads and crackers that contain no wheat flour. The diet enthusiast also suggests mixing nuts and seeds in a blender and stirring this mixture into porridge for a little extra nourishment.

“Also, if you replace rice and pasta with hearty options such as lenses, barley or baked vegetables, you will quickly see a change in weight,” Nordstrand says and points out that all you have to do is to think outside the box a little.

“Who said that pasta sauce absolutely must be used on pasta? It works equally well over vegetables,” she tips.

Do not hold your breath

By following Nordstrand´s program, you do not eat less, you lose weight by replacing the unhealthy ingredients with more reasonable food. At the same time, you reduce diffuse health problems, improve your mood and your memory.

“The programme is as important as the tips. To complete this programme successfully, you have to change your focus. Instead of focusing on what you should stop eating you should focus on what to begin with, instead. Your brain wants more of what you are about to stop eating, so do not go around thinking that you are quitting sugar! You are not suppose to quit the sweets – you can actually have desserts every single day during the twelve weeks.”

“It is more about pleasure, not about holding your breath until you have lost ten kilograms. This should be a lifestyle change that lasts,” the doctor says.

Visit Nordstrand´s website for more tips and recipes, or buy her book 12 weeks to a healthier life and a narrower waist for the complete diet programme.

Work out – lose weight

Professor of Medicine at NTNU, Jan Hoff, says it is important to be active to get the best results from a diet. He has, through years of research, found the most effective training method for those who want to lose a few kilos, and have a healthier and longer life.

“Four times four-minute intervals is the smartest training we know for dieting and burning fat,” he says.

With four minutes intervals, Hoff means a four-minute walk, jog or run uphill. You should do this four times with a three-minute active rest between each four-minute interval.

“You burn more fat instantly by jogging at a “long distance pace”, which means to jog for about 50 minutes on medium intensity. However, that does not increase your work capacity. With interval training, you will increase your work capacity, which will allow you to be more active throughout the day and burn more fat during the hours you are not exercising. It is far smarter,” he explains.

“You can increase your work capacity by half a percent each time you complete a four times four-minute interval session. If you train like this twice or more per week, you will burn more fat in the end,” Hoff continues.

Professor at NTNU, Jan Hoff, says you can live up to 15 years longer if you are more physically active.
Jan Hoff

Oxygen uptake is crucial

Furthermore, Hoff explains that your body’s oxygen uptake is crucial when it comes to how quickly you lose weight.

“With increased maximal oxygen uptake, your metabolism will be burning fat for the rest of the day to a greater degree. Increased oxygen uptake also leads to greater activity level the rest of the day, and thereafter increases the total metabolism and reduces weight.”

Hoff is also of the same opinion as Nordstrand, and says it is the long-term plan that is most effective. He recommends two interval sessions a week, in addition to the Saturday or Sunday walk. In the long term, this will be beneficial for weight reduction, health and quality of life.

“In order to lose weight, it is important to include both training and eating habits in a long-term plan. Exercise is perishable and accumulated capacity disappears in half the time.”

“You must make room for rest though, if you feel tired and have trouble reaching the correct heart rate,” he concludes.

Five important exercises

There is no need to invest in expensive equipment, or a gym membership, to work out effectively. In this article you will get to know five effective exercises that don’t require any equipment. By doing these five exercises twice a week, in addition to doing something active during the weekend, you will lower the risk of lifestyle diseases.

The exercises

Four of the exercises are strength exercises, while the last one is an effective endurance workout. They are all fairly easy to carry out, and all come with different degrees of difficulty.

4×4 minutes intervals

Endurance is the muscles ability to perform over a certain period of time. When you work on endurance, your muscles burn energy, preferably in the form of carbohydrates and fats, using oxygen. Oxygen flow to your muscles is therefore the most important factor affecting your endurance.

The whole purpose of endurance training is to increase the size and elasticity of the heart and blood vessels. This increases the maximum oxygen uptake, and prevents lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, reduced circulation and age diabetes.

How to conduct 4×4 intervals:

– Sessions must start with a 6-minute warm up at moderate intensity.

– Each interval consists of 4 minutes at high intensity, with a 3-minute active rest between each interval. In order to get the most effect out of the training, you have to be at 85 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate at the end of the first interval, and reach the same intensity after 1 minute in the remaining intervals.

– You reached the right level when, after 2 minutes, you breathe heavily, but do not experience any discomfort or stiffness in the legs.

– During the breaks, your heart rate should drop down to 70 percent of maximum.

– After the four intervals, you should have a five-minute cool down to finish.

[vimeo code = “137769072”]

Squats

One of the most important body parts to work on is your legs. They get the biggest impact throughout the day and need to be strong to keep you upright throughout life. Professors Jan Hoff and Jan Helgerud at NTNU have done a lot of research on training. They have reached the conclusion that the most efficient workout for your legs are leg presses or squats with heavy resistance, along with interval training.

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Heavier alternative

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Diagonal lift and Sit-ups

The muscles of the torso stabilize the back; therefore exercises like sit-ups and diagonal lift is important. It’s difficult to make diagonal lift heavier, but you make it more challenging by dwelling time in the top position. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds. If it’s too easy to do 4×4-repetitions, you can increase to 10 repetitions in 4 sets.

Diagonal lift

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Sit-ups

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4×4 Push-ups

Push-ups strengthen your triceps and chest muscles. You activate these muscles by pushing heavy things or climb obstacles.

You can make this exercise easier by standing on your knees, or do the push-ups against a chair or wall. You can make the exercise harder by placing your feet higher than the floor.

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Easier alternative

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