Half Term But Full Measures!

Contemporary Stretch
6:15 pm - 7:25 pm
December 13, 2018

For many of us, half term is something that other people do – a sort of unofficial break in the routine and an opportunity to take your foot of the gas and switch to cruise control. I have noticed over the years that when people take this attitude to their diet and exercise regime that it often spells the end of their ‘new year, new me’ efforts and consequent disappointment when summer arrives and they haven’t achieved the fitness and figure that they were so adamant they wanted back in January. Seeing exercise and healthy eating as something you take a break from is a flawed way of approaching long-term health and weight management. We never take a break from bathing, brushing our hair or teeth! Healthy food and exercise are equally as important; indeed, essential all of the time.

Half term is also a time of stress for many families with ‘exam age’ youngsters. Panic sets in as students crack on (or don’t) with their examination preparation.

Read on for tips to improve examination performance!

Despite the half term break all classes are running as usual, with new music lesson plans and choreography for all the classes plus our final Ski Fit class of the season – come and join us for a fab, fun and really effective workout on Friday. We are taking bookings NOW for our next Friday course, “Big Balls and What To Do With Them”. In this class I will show you how to use those big gym balls safely and effectively for a whole body workout – it’s brilliant for core conditioning, flexibility and top to toe fitness.


Blackpool, Here I Come!

I will be travelling up to Blackpool to present three sessions at the IFS Convention, March 20/21/22nd, with some of our DYBO class posse. The more the merrier so let me know if you would like to come.


Ante Post Natal Teacher Training

The following week (Sunday 29th March) I shall be delivering my ante post natal teacher training course for Pilates teachers in Farnham. Contact me for more details.


Media Launch

Steve’s new cycle team with have their official media launch this coming Tuesday in London, so keep an eye out in the sporting press for Steve and ONE Pro Cycling.


Peak Performance: preparing for success, tips for parents, students – in fact, everyone!

Just as an athlete prepares for a sporting event we can apply similar principles to preparing for and performing optimally in exams. Here are some top tips to help with exam performance.


1) Brain Food. The brain needs glucose as fuel to function and it’s tempting but unwise to eat sugary sweet food and drinks before/during exams. Large amounts of simple sugars will cause insulin levels to spike causing a release of insulin to balance the sugars. Soon another ‘sugar fix’ is needed. Sugar is not just a big problem for our teeth and waistline; too much sugar can cause the ‘jitters’ and problems with fidgeting, thinking calmly and focusing so it’s best to stick with slow release carbohydrates gained from whole grains to keep blood sugars on an even keel. A portion of protein taken with the carbohydrate is an excellent way of keeping blood sugar levels stable too e.g., apple and peanut butter or celery, cucumber, carrots batons and humus dip, a banana and almonds or cheese/ham on an oat cake.

2) More Brain Food. Foods rich in omega fats are brilliant for brain function, so eat plenty of oily fish such as salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds (such as walnuts – they look like brains, don’t they?!). Avocado, blue berries, green veg and whole grains are nutrient dense and assist us to focus on the job in hand (revising and sitting exams); we perform badly when malnourished, so kids, remember – performance requires more than calories for energy, we are hard wired to continue to look for adequate nutrients for our bodies survival, so we prioritise this with our thoughts and efforts. Poor diet will result in a reduced ability to focus.

3) When To Eat. Well this is debatable – I suggest that you stick with your usual routine so if it’s 3 meals a day or 5 or 6 mini-meals then stick with it. Start eating your brain food diet long before exams begin to ensure your body, digestive system and routine can adjust to the changes. Always start the day with a good breakfast to ensure your brain has an adequate supply of glucose and your muscles have sufficient glycogen. Eggs are the perfect food at any time of day, eggs on wholemeal toast or baked beans on wholemeal toast, or porridge sweetened with honey are all fab breakfast choices but avoid most cereals as they are overly processed and have too much sugar.

4) Water. Dehydration has a huge effect on brain and body performance, causing problems with memory and focused thinking – even visual disturbance and headaches. Water, diluted fresh juices and non-caffeinated teas are great options. Colas and sodas are never a good idea as they are loaded with caffeine, which can disrupt focus, cause jitters, anxiety and elevated heart rate (and sugar causing problems as previously outlined).

5) Sleep. Whilst we sleep, our brain re-boots, processes and organises the days information. It can only do this effectively when we sleep (like shutting down our computer whist it runs a cleaning program). Youngsters often need lots more sleep but don’t like to go to bed.

Ensure they get at least 8 hours of sleep, aiming for them to be in bed and lights out by 10pm. To achieve this, ensure all TV’s, computers, mobile phones and games are switched off by 9pm. Avoid stimulating TV, games, music etc. Have a warm bath and small milky drink and a hand full of nuts to help them get off to sleep (remember no caffeine or sugar after 4pm)

6) Exercise. Boosts blood flow, stimulates and speeds nerve messages throughout the body and brain. It’s great for mental performance, and assists us deal with the negative effects of stress. Aim to take at least 30 mins of cardiovascular exercise daily and take mini-stretch and walk breaks every hour or so. It’s possible to walk and revise – killing two birds with one stone.

Sitting a lot is terrible for our posture, and can cause neck and back pain, headaches, and digestive problems. So regularly stand up, reach up to the ceiling, then stretch out chest, neck, front of hips and back of thighs. Hold each stretch for 12-15 seconds.

If possible, set up a standing revision station; research has shown that its far healthier for posture, energy levels and focus.

7)  Keep Calm and Carry On. Poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and stress suppresses our immune system so address theses issues and you are in the best position possible to enter exam season with tip top health on your side.

8)  Avoid Social Media, Turn Off Mobiles. Obviously they are an unhelpful distraction and can cause anxiety and depression. They are like the Bermuda Triangle of time!

9) Focus, Prepare, Practice and Believe. Keep a calm and positive mindset. Believe that you can achieve what you set out to achieve. Plan, prepare and take action. Perfect practice makes perfect performance and your best efforts are enough!

10) If You Need Help… ASK!


Quite simply the above advice is relevant for everyone, everyday especially when we want to feel healthy, fit and well and perform at our best!

If you want advice or assistance with fitness, weight management or coaching, call me – I can help!

Have a fantastic week

Love ya,





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lifecoaching - Helen has been an amazing support and inspiration to me over the last year.  She exudes positivity and has enabled me to see life for what it was and how it could be.  She awakened me to new possibilites and inspired me to make some positive changes to my life.  I now feel that I have dropped all the excess baggage I was carrying and I have renewed vigour and determination to live life to the full and reach my full potential.  Thank you Helen, you are a star!
Julie Tzivanidou Cove