Aware Defeat Depression Mood Walk - top tips for walkers!

We’re just a few weeks away from Aware NI’s Mood Walk, and so the amazing organising folks have asked me to share some of my thoughts and top-tips for those hoping to come and join in.

First of all I’d like to say thanks to them for asking me to be part of such an amazing event and charity. 

As Fitness Belfast, I work to help my clients improve their physiological health and wellbeing on a daily basis, and with many of them, the lifestyle and diet choices I advocate also means they see improvement in their psychological and mental well being. 

I try to practice what I preach, and so I know that the structure of eating good food, exercising on a daily basis and ensuring I get enough quality sleep, leaves me feeling focused, determined and motivated to handle any situation that life may throw at me, and plays a key role in allowing me to feel confident and happy in my own skin. 

That’s why I’m super excited about the Mood Walk – no matter what level of fitness or experience, it’s a step in the right direction to being more active, more positive, and feeling great.

ABOUT THE MOOD WALK

This years Mood Walk is on 12th June and will cover a beautiful (& hopefully sunny) 5k or 10k stretch of Belfast’s most scenic walking routes, stretching from Mary Peters track and taking in Barnett Demesne and Shaw’s Bridge - find out more and register here.

The guys at Aware and I are keen to make everyone aware that the walk really is intended to be a light to moderate stroll, with the focus being solely on enjoying the route, meeting new people and having fun.

If it has been a little while since you exercised last, you may benefit from the following few tips to ensure you are prepared and feel good on the day.

HYDRATION

I recommend that my clients drink 2-3 litres of water per day {8-10 glasses} and I think you should too - regularly drinking water in the lead up to the walk will see you fully hydrated, alert and focused on enjoying the walk. 

During the walk, make sure to bring a water bottle with you, especially those completing the 10k walk. I will be packing at least 1 litre of water, and hope to have my water breaks well timed so that I don’t end up running off to the side to pee in the Lagan…

Food

Before the walk

You may benefit from having a little extra carbohydrate in the hours leading up to the walk particularly if you have not exercised in a while. 

Nothing to stress about, just ensure you get some healthy low glycaemic (GI) sources {those that provide us with longer lasting energy ideal for long walks} sources like whole grains, basmati rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruits, or mixed beans or pulses at lunch before the walk are perfect. 

Stuck for ideas? Try –

  • A handful mixed berries, banana, ½ cup of oats and some Greek yoghurt and mix together and enjoy!
  • Slice a sweet potato in two and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, top with your favourite protein source like egg, chicken, turkey, tuna or some cottage cheese and serve with a generous helping of some leafy green salad, 
  • Grab a wholemeal pitta; add some chicken, egg, tuna or falafel, a spoonful of hummus and fill with some juicy vine tomatoes and spinach.

After the walk

The guys at Aware really are keen that we all bring along some of our own food, so we can picnic and bask in the hopefully glorious sunshine after the walk also

Personally I think this is an excellent idea as it allows us all to feed on the positive energy that the walk will create as well as share some healthy eating tips and ideas. That’s what this is all about right?!

When eating after exercise the focus should be on replenishing blood sugar levels and facilitating recovery with some protein also. For snacking and convenience purposes Ill stick to what we can easily carry, as I really doubt any of us want to carry a beef stroganoff while walking for a few hours with friends.

Berries, fruit, dates, figs, dried fruit, nuts, nut butters, seeds, yoghurts, rice cakes, Jaffa cakes and fruit loaf all spring to mind and here’s a few examples:

  • Grab a few rice cakes, smear on some nut butter and chopped banana and your good to go.
  • Bring a jar of homemade hummus {recipe here} add some chopped peppers and some celery sticks for dipping and possibly a banana to help replenish sugar.
  • Alternatively why not try my hazelnut and goji berry powerballs or coconut and banana cookies that my Bootcamp Superstars use to aid recovery after our Bootcamp sessions.

If time is in short supply however feel free to bring along your favourite sandwich filling and some fruit. We’re not here to compete on Master Chef we just want to recover well and feel good, so feel free to bring along any of your own healthy snacks.

Clothing

It will be mid-June, but it is also NI, so while we’ll try our best to keep you well informed with regular weather updates in the lead up to the event, it’s best to come prepared for any weather phenomenon you may face! Suncream, an umbrella and a canoe.

We’re going to be walking and you may get sweaty. Comfort and breathability are key, so I will be wearing a light T-shirt {sign up online to get your Mood Walk t-shirt!) comfy tracksuit bottoms or shorts, and some light comfortable trainers or tennis shoes.

Basically the priority is that you are comfortable, but no mankini’s please lol!

Enthusiasm

Sunshine after the rain at a recent Kickstart Bootcamp!

Sunshine after the rain at a recent Kickstart Bootcamp!

Everyone at Aware, and myself, want you to enjoy this event. We’re here to raise funds and awareness about a worthwhile cause that really does affect each of us here in Northern Ireland. 

This walk is about exercise, meeting new people, basking in sunshine and having fun! I will be on hand throughout the walk to offer advice or answer any queries you may have regarding exercising and a healthy lifestyle. (I’ll be the tall somewhat skinny guy with what I’m informed is ginger hair {although I’m keen to dispute this} so come over and say hi or ask me a few questions, I won’t bite or make you drop and give me 20!)

To me, doing exercises I enjoy on a daily basis is not a chore but an enjoyable pastime. Whether its running, walking, lifting weights, doing yoga or playing team sports… the outcome is the same. I feel much better with these activities in my life than I would without. 

Give exercise a try and you could to.

If you have any nutritional, health or exercise related queries then please feel free to contact me in advance, and I look forward to meeting you all at the Mood Walk.

Gary