UOW health tips

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Are you up to the challenge?

Are you keen to take your health by the horns? Feeling the effects of the sloth life? We quizzed Programs and Personal Training Coordinator Kurt Ogilvie at UoW’s UniActive to pick his healthy omega-3 brain on everything from motivation to why sleep should be your number one priority.

Kurt Ogilvie from UOW

What are you most passionate about? 

I am most passionate about assisting everyday people toward long-term independent holistic health. In cases of people with sub-optimal health (i.e. diagnosed conditions, unhappy about bodyweight or fitness levels, injuries etc.) most of the time there are a combination of factors that contributed to their state and similarly a combination of factors that will help them toward more optimal health. If I can help people to have a fundamental level of understanding across a wide range of health factors (or at least be aware of the importance of each – e.g. movement, nutrition, recovery, sleep, mindset/mental health etc.) then they are in a better position to be proactive about their health and to become less dependent on others for their health or ill-health.

How can we get more motivated? Is it true that if you want to make long-term changes, you need to start really small and make it a habit? E.g. just jump on the treadmill for five minutes for a few weeks, then gradually build it up over time. Is that a good strategy?

A good program that you can do is better than a perfect program that you can’t do. The same would apply to building habits, so starting small with something that you can achieve and have regular success with can be a great approach to build the confidence to help develop bigger more influential habits. 

Perhaps the most important factor for improving motivation is to understand your WHY. For example rather than just focusing on losing weight or building muscle or running quicker or learning a new skill/movement, instead take a moment to consider why you are driven toward that. If you understand what is behind your motivation then it is easy to draw your attention back to that whenever your commitment is tested and to take the necessary inspiration to help overcome your challenges. Your WHY could be as deep or as superficial as you like, there is no right or wrong it is simply being honest with what things most motivate you to succeed.

Mental health is a massive topic today. What kind of things do you recommend for supporting good mental health? 

Mental health is huge and probably becoming more and more important. Today’s society is experiencing more stress and a wider range of stressors then any generation before us.

Regular physical activity would be one recommendation to help maintain (or regain) good mental health. Other suggestions that people may find helpful are:

  • Spending regular time in nature (even just in your garden or the local park)
  • Disconnecting from technology (even for an hour or two)
  • Keeping a 5-minute Gratitude Journal
  • Scheduling time for yourself
  • Having a simple morning routine that helps to begin the day on the right foot
  • Aiming to decrease any excessive use of alcohol, stimulants, pharmaceuticals (check with your doctor first)
  • Trying relaxation methods like yoga, massage, or introductory meditation – try the Headspace 10-Day Free Trial of Guided Meditation

How important is sleep?

Extremely! Arguably the most important. Most of your recovery, regeneration, hormone regulation (and a tonne of other important things) happen when you sleep. A good way to think about the importance of something is to think how you would feel if you went three days without it. Three days without food would be uncomfortable but it is possible, three days without your iPhone might annoy your boss or your partner but you’d probably actually end up feeling better, three days without sleep and if you manage to still be alive you would be a dysfunctional mess.

If you are looking to really create changes within yourself, aim to get your sleep in order first, then your nutrition, then your movement. This doesn’t mean you cannot be eating well and moving well from the start but your attention should be focused on the priority of sleep.

What’s one thing that we could all do today to make a positive step towards improving our health?

Drink more water! Most people have some level of dehydration and for a body & brain that is 70% water, any dehydration will have a significant effect on our health, wellness and performance. If you already drink plenty of water then take it up a level and look into filtered water and/or alkalised water. To really make a difference use water in place of any time you would normally reach for a juice or soft drink so not only are you improving your hydration status but you are also removing a massive source of processed sugar.  

Do you have any particular clients that come to mind, any particularly inspiring stories about how someone turned their health around?

Everyone is fighting their own battles and has things happening inside that we would never normally be aware of. The UoW New You Stories are a really inspiring window where our clients/participants let us into their minds and open up about all the positive changes they have succeeded with, from body weight to better self-esteem to improved health management and less reliance on medication to improved relationships to overcoming traumatic/tragic events, the list goes on. 

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