April challenge

I think April will be a challenge in itself. Social distancing, isolation, working from home (and that has been a sharp learning curve for most fitness instructors). So my challenge is just to sort out some of the cupboards at home, a bit of online learning and keeping as fit as I can. No specific fitness challenge this month.

During March I made a point of going out for walks just for the sake of it. I really enjoyed them, which is fortunate, I enjoyed the time out, not rushing anywhere and being very much in the moment. Of course, I had no idea that I would be doing a lot more of that. Maybe it has helped me get through the first part of this lockdown and hopefully it will continue being a positive experience.

Hopefully everyone will find some positive in this situation. Stay home. Stay safe.

Here s a monthly challenge to get you working out at home.

Covid-19

So it has been a few weeks of a developing and scary virus. So many questions and so much is unknown. We are all asked to do our bit, stay inside if you are older, have various long term health conditions, everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and keep your distance. It’s going to be tough for some time.

As a Personal Trainer I am trying to keep moving, exercise helps your mental and physical health. So do whatever you can to create a daily routine, which includes some movement. I will be posting more exercise ideas for you and maybe even home videos via YouTube (along with lots of others). Make sure whoever you follow for your exercise plan that they are qualified.

I am now offering online sessions, classes or 121 sessions, I can see and hear my clients and they can see and hear me too. We are just in the safety of our own home.

Keep working on the monthly challenge and I will have a new one for you in April…..

Stay safe!

 

March challenge

So February didn’t go quite according to plan. I intended giving up or at least cutting back on sugars. Not the natural ones found in fruit and honey, but chocolate, sweets, etc. I have a sweet tooth, but not so bad I can’t live without it. However, towards the end of the month I caved. I have been working on a new qualification (Exercise to Music) which requires a lot of physical practice, I was super busy, I had a week load of birthdays. All combined meant I did eat much more sweet stuff than I meant to……

Ah well it happens to us all. I have now given up chocolate for Lent (apparently we are allowed it on Sundays), so i reckon I can stick to it. Hopefully I complete my exams next weekend so I can stop the 15 (or more) hours a week of practice.

And on to March – spring will hopefully arrive! And that usually puts us all in a better frame of mind which in turn means we are more proactive and likely to get out to do more. So my challenge is to get out and walk in the fresh air – just for the sake of it – not to/from work, not because i am teaching outside – just down time (my phone will come with me for photos only). I aim to do half an hour 4-5 times a week. Being self employed this should be possible as I have odd hours and often have free time at some point during the day. I will also be keeping up my exercise routine and physio.

If you don’t have quite so much time on your hands – you can always try this months challenge. Give this HIIT challenge a go.

February challenge

FInally January is over! The days are getting longer and Christmas is a distant memory, unless you are still eating your way through Christmas food. So I decided this month I would focus on reducing refined sugars. Note I am not saying I will cut them out completely. With a number of celebrations coming up, it would be unrealistic to think I would cut out every single sugary treat, instead, by reducing it to those occasions will be better for my health but won’t make me crave something because it’s banned.

So now it’s time to focus on eating well and getting back into a routine if you aren’t already. Here’s a 30-day no equipment exercise challenge.  

Happy New Year

January is here, the Christmas decorations are down and the days are grey. So why do we pick this time of year to put pressure on ourselves to be better, work harder, make resolutions or give up something. So this year I am doing what I did last year – a challenge a month, but this year, if I don’t do one a month, I am not going to beat myself up. No pressure.

I am fortunate perhaps that my job encourages a fit and healthy lifestyle (though I am writing this eating chocolate), no one is perfect. I work out regularly, I eat well most of the time, I don’t drink that much and have never smoked. Not because I think that makes me be better than others but because smoking, eating pastries or most other beige food or drinking every week has never appealed to me. I love chocolate coins…..I have probably eaten my bodyweight in them, I have had nights out with plenty of drink and I have enjoyed all the Christmas food, it’s called balance. Now it’s January and I will get back into my usual routine.

My January challenge is to get my physio exercises done each week. I didn’t fit them in as much as I should have done over the Christmas period. I want to improve my ankle mobility so I have to do them! But that is my only challenge, if you are just getting back into (or starting a new) gym programme, here are a few tip to get you started.

And if you are thinking about dieting – here’s an interesting feature I saw which might help anyone thinking about being too strict.

Merry Christmas

Take some time out, enjoy the festivities – however you choose to celebrate them – and give yourself a pat on the back if you have managed to get through December with all the shopping, parties, work and whatever else you have had going on as well as completing the fitness challenge!

If you haven’t – well there’s always January!

Think about what you have achieved over the last year, I have gone on courses, taken on new classes and clients and started figuring out what I want to do the next couple of years so I can progress my business, while also keeping a work/life balance that makes me happy.

Merry Christmas!

December challenge

It’s party season, there are not enough hours in the day, so how do you fit in any kind of workout? Well how about intervals – it doesn’t have to be crazy High intensity (HIIT) sessions, but you can build up to it, just work at a level that feels more intense than usual even for 10 minutes, not only will you feel good, but it will help keep you in shape over the festive time.

Here’s a 30-day challenge you could try, don’t worry if you can’t complete every workout, try to fit in 2-3 a week increasing intensity or time as you feel it gets easier. Don’t overdo it, enjoy the parties and fun times the festive season offers but try to keep in a little exercise over the month.

I intend to add in 2 HIIT sessions a week, in addition to my weights sessions and lower intensity cardio sessions (like swimming). Keeping it varied and fun. I’ll post more ideas here during the month.

Halfway through November

At the midway point of this challenge, I don’t think I am quite doing it as well as I have the others, but I went on a great course for functional movement, which gave me a good workout. I have done about 3 weight workouts a week so far.

In the past few months (before a break), I worked on a traditional split workout each week, this month I am keeping it a bit more fluid. I definitely want to add in some more of the functional movements we did (when I have recovered), and as well as heavier lifts I want to get more band work in You can try it too with this workout.

Always keep an eye on technique even with body weight or band work – a small mistake could cause an injury, and with the party season soon to be on us, that is the last thing you want to deal with.

November challenge

October challenge was great, I swam, ran and cycled (spinning classes) every week and I really enjoyed it. I am planning on keeping this routine up as it offers a balance of high and low intensity workouts that can fit in around my next challenge.

November, is going to be the month of getting back into weights. I love weight training, from body weight or bands to free weights and machines, there is a workout style to suit everyone. Mixing up heavier weight sessions with body weight or band sessions means you can train each muscle group more than once a week, working on technique and any problem or imbalances.

Try following this beginners weight session if you haven’t done any strength work before.

Try out some other Fitness plans here.

October challenge

September challenge ended a week early with over 400 lengths completed (10km). I celebrated with a hair cut and colour! And then decided my next challenge would combine the last two and add in a little extra.

So for October, I am completing a triathlon a week – not that impressive, I am not actually doing a triathlon but each week I will complete a swim, run and a spinning class (or two). Last week I swam 1km, ran 5km and did two spinning classes. It’s a good way of getting cardio done, challenging my body differently and keeping me motivated with the variety.

But that is not the only challenge, I decided to add in some brain work! Each week I am completing a personal development tutorial – these are included in my CPD points which are required to keep my registration as a trainer. They are also very interesting as they aren’t all fitness based, they over business, marketing and coaching among other things.

So two more months to go – not decided those challenges yet!

September challenge – swimming

So August was a tough challenge, I completed it, but with illness, family commitments, work, plus weight training sessions and teaching classes, running 40 miles over the month was a real challenge. I did enjoy it, most of the time. I plan to keep on running just not as many times a week!

So moving on to September I decided to keep it lighter, with swimming, 400 lengths over the month. I have done my first 40, slowly! I hope a couple of good swims a week will get my challenge done while also giving me a chance to keep up my weights sessions and a run or two. And of course some rest too!

Watch this space…..

Halfway point

So June challenge was about core work, mostly did it, but I found it hard to keep at the mobility/stretching stuff so that needs working on! We all have something that just doesn’t come to us as naturally as other things. All that means is I need to focus on it a bit more.

Headed into July I decided not to have a strict challenge or resolution, but to take stock of what I have done so far and try to set up a routine that works for me. I’ve increased my water intake, trying to keep up fruit and veg – just not as strictly, there are good days and not so good days! I have got into running again, even going out to the park, which has been a psychological barrier for me and I have got back into my structured weight training session. Swimming is on the cards but not so keen during school holidays.

Heading into August I have decided to up my running to 40 miles throughout August. And a bit of swimming when I can.

June – halfway house

Successfully completed my challenge or resolution for May – having done little or no running for a long time, I set myself the task of running a marathon throughout the month of May.

First few days were fairly easy at 1 mile at a time, then, work and other stuff took over and I wasn’t able to do every day so I upped my runs to 2 miles every couple of days. It was good to note I could do them and not feel sore after! I even did a 3 mile run, only once, but it showed me I could easily add in a bit of running to my weekly routines. Marathon completed. So what next….

I have been undecided about my June challenge, I know I need to work more on my mobility/stretching, so I think June will be about dedicated core/mobility sessions, fitting in 3 a week seems achievable and any extra will be a good bonus. Here goes….

April – May challenges

Every month I am setting up a new challenge for myself, I read about this idea on twitter – someone said they would do monthly resolutions instead of trying to stick to one resolution for a year. It inspired me to do the same. So far I have.. attended a new class (Barre – love it – still going), gave up chocolate (have eaten a bit now but still mostly chocolate free!), swam twice a week (haven’t done so much but still going), upped my fruit and veg to 8-10 portions a day (not as hard as you think, will keep this up).

So onto May, I saw lots of running challenges, I used to love running, I got concussion during the the time I was training for a half marathon. Needless to say I never did it, recovery was slow and psychologically running has been a big barrier for me ever since. This month I am running a marathon over a month, so a mile a day with a few days off. So far I am on target! It’s tricky trying to keep up all my training sessions – weight, swim, Barre, Pilates, dance classes plus fitting in work, clients, classes and all the planning needed, but it feels so good to achieve each goal or challenge.

Next up June, half way through my year of challenges…..

Jan-Mar challenges

So it’s been a few months and I have succeeded in my monthly resolutions or challenges, I am already into my plans for April and May, more on that another time. Here is what I have been up to.

January – successful tried out Barre class and now attending most weeks. I really enjoy the slow small moves we do, a very different style to my usual workouts, which challenges me with balance. Highly recommend trying this out to anyone who is looking for something low impact and quite calming.

February – I decided to give up chocolate. I did Dechox, an initiative set up by The British Heart Foundation. I thought it was going to be tough and that I would count down my days until I could eat it again. Yet I haven’t. I have in the last week had a couple of things with chocolate on/in them but not bars of chocolate – even though I have been given some. It just shows how putting your mind to something can really achieve results. I feel good for not using it as a quick fix between classes when I am tired. I sleep better and I don’t really miss it. I am sure I will eat some over Easter, but only if I really want it!

Moving in March – I went back to a fitness challenge, I enjoy swimming when I get on with it, but I slipped out of the habit and kept saying to myself I didn’t have time. So, I made time, twice a week for the month. I have been swimming about half a mile each time and really enjoying the calming benefits of swimming. It has always been my go to exercise when I am stressed. I must keep it up – probably not twice a week every week, but I intend to keep it as part of my overall fitness plan.

And here we are starting April. I decided to go back to dietary choices this month, my aim is to eat 8-10 portions of fruit/veg a day. I have been reading up more on the benefit of eating more than the 5 a day we are often quoted. The governing bodies chose 5 because they thought this sounded more achievable rather than the ideal 7-10 portions. So i thought I would try to reach the higher goal to see how hard it would be. So here goes….

Working and fitness

I was recently interviewed by a local media company, they create some great promotional videos for ATP Tennis, one of them was about the players very tough training regime. Not everyone can or needs to train the same way as a pro, but they asked me how does the average person fit in fitness while also holding down a busy job, travelling with work and then add in family/friends/social life…..

It can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be, a few simple additions like walking to speak to a colleague instead of emailing, taking stairs not lifts, a lunchtime walk or for the more adventurous add in a 10 minute interval session. It is possible. And it can make you feel a lot better. Have a read of the full interview.

January blues or balance

It’s January, how do you see it? A grey, dull month with no money, nothing to look forward to or as a fresh start, a time to make goals and reassess where you were a year ago.

Or maybe it’s a bit of both. That’s balance, and I think that’s what we should all aim for.

I don’t make resolutions because that’s just another thing to add to a list, but I try to find something to aim for, building my business, changing my workouts, balancing home/social time with work. And I know I don’t get it right all the time. But it’s a balancing act.

Last year my friends and I each planned an activity to do each month – the kind of thing we have often said, we should do more often or that we would like to do. It worked quite well, some months easier than others, but it made us make an effort and share experiences.

I saw another version of this – a resolution a month. I think that is much more achievable for so many people, I am planning on trying a Barre class for January, I have never done it and I think this will be helpful because I can remind myself how hard it is for my clients to make that first step.

Next up I need to set some new goals, I am so thankful that I met my business goals last year, so that needs to continue but not at the expense of my sanity, which nearly happened. I took a break and made the bold step to cancel some things and ask clients to move around their days or times, this enabled me to organise my days better – balancing home and work and making me much happier and therefore more productive. I probably still need to learn to say NO a bit more…… don’t we all??

Basically, we all need to find our balance, in all areas of our life. Easier said than done sometimes but a goal worth striving for to keep us happy and healthy.

Happy New Year.

 

Two years on…..

It’s been a full two years since I changed my career to become a fitness instructor, people told me I was brave, but I didn’t really think about it like that. It just seemed to be the right time to do it. So what have I learnt……

The first few months are scary, but I decided that I would stack shelves if I needed to make ends meet and, so far, I haven’t had to, but maybe that’s because I said yes to any opportunity that came my way. I applied (and got) a job at a local gym, the gym I had been a member of, so I had a monthly income, it started as cover and has become structured weekly shifts, I am still on a casual zero-hour contract, it works for me.

In less than a year I had regular clients (about 5), and a couple of regular weekly classes, as well as frequently covering classes. I hadn’t really thought about teaching classes, but with them and the mix of 1-2-1 helped me to build confidence. Which, made me set some goals, if I was going to do this, I needed to do more, so I decided on 5 classes a week and 10 regular clients, while keeping up gym shifts but also having some free time. I also completed my kettlebell training, First Aid renewal including AED training.

I also realised that my diploma had opened up opportunities for me that I hadn’t really thought about, exercise referral was one part, it’s ended up being my niche, a very rewarding one, meeting some fantastic people who brighten up my week.

It’s been hard work, but I end my second year, reaching my goals, which I am proud of, and now setting more for next year. But I wanted to look back on what I have learnt so far, to take a minute to be proud of the things I have achieved so far and what I hope to achieve in the next year.

I have learnt:

  • that if you have faith in yourself you can achieve what you set your mind to.
  • That I can do this job well, earn a living and enjoy it
  • That taking opportunities when they appear can take you in a different direction – and sometimes that is for the best

I am proudest of

  • Taking on classes when the idea of talking in front of groups used to scare me
  • Hitting the goals I set well before deadline – it gave me faith in myself – people do want to train with me
  • I passed my level 4 theory and am on my way to another new opportunity

I want to achieve:

  • Completing my Level 4 Postural Stability Instructor course
  • Teaching a couple more classes a week to keep varying my teaching skills
  • Stop saying yes to things I really don’t want to do so I get free time to do the things I do want to do

I hope this post inspires anyone taking a leap into a new direction that even if it seems scary it can work out better than you hope. Sure, there are scary times, but if you never try then you will never know.

I start the New Year with a new class (Jan 2), and a new client lined up, which means I am heading forward to my 2018 goals and while I am excited I also know that this is a fickle business and it could all change – if it does, I will change direction and keep working hard.

Winter blues

Fed up of winter yet? Thankfully there are signs of spring – flowers, lighter mornings (even at 6am) and longer evenings. Hopefully that also means the cold bugs are also going to disappear. I am sure everyone has (at least once) had a cold over the winter, this year it seems to be a recurring theme.

I have been luckier than some – just had it twice and mildly both times, but for other fellow instructors I know they have missed out on work because of it. We all have our own remedies to ‘shorten’ or ‘kill’ it, Do they work or is it mind over matter? Well this feature offers some suggestions. Maybe worth a try. I definitely agree with a few, like exercising – though it’s important to know when it’s time to rest and when you are well enough to do some gentle exercise.

Here’s hoping spring really is about to be sprung!

The January message

Are you as fed up as me by the number of weight-loss ads out there…it’s always the same, November and December we are encouraged to get out and party – eat, drink, spend etc.. Then along comes cold January, the festive time is over and here come the weight loss, slimming plans, gym  and of course loan and savings ads!

My advice to clients throughout the festive fun, was to enjoy those parties or social occasions – but to remember it’s one meal/event not the entire week, even if it is a weekly thing in the run up to Christmas! And secondly, that keeping up with as much of the fitness routine as possible will be better and more beneficial in the long term.

So I was interested to read this great feature, it struck a chord with me. Slimming Clubs can work, and, like the author, I have respect for anyone taking control of a change they want to make and achieving it in whatever way works for them. It just makes me sad that so many people wind up in a yo-yo situation with clubs/diet plans because they don’t look into the bigger issues like what the barriers are to succeeding (we all have them) and how they can implement simple and sustainable changes into a real and enjoyable life.

My advice would be that the expense of a few Personal Training sessions and possibly seeing a nutritionist or Dietitian could outweigh (no pun intended) the longterm cost of memberships to clubs or diet plans. The advice would be tailored to the individual, taking into account their actual life, goals and barriers.

As the saying goes, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had. Maybe 2017 could be different?

New year resolutions

Happy New Year!

Have you made any resolutions? I haven’t, yet… So I have been asking other people about theirs. At first everyone trots out the usual stuff, lose weight, get fit etc etc but they are so big and unspecific that it’s almost impossible to stick to. Instead I like the ones I heard today – to try harder, although it sounds like a silly response, it actually works in whatever you do,  at work, at the gym, with your diet, with your relationships and friendships. And everyone can try a bit harder.

A client told me they had a few, all written down in places he would see them daily, all were small but very specific – like, doing physio exercises. The things we need to do each day but often push to one side. I think those are achievable and more likely to be successfully completed and give a sense of achievement.

Maybe my decision to take part in another challenge this year will have to be mine, then I will have to do it! But then I do love a challenge so maybe I need to make it more than one!

Getting ready for the festive season

It’s just a month to go until Christmas! I love the festive season – the decorations, lights, cheesy movies and yes the festive food and drink too! I also really like how friendly people are, it makes the shorter days less sad.

But for some people all the fun of the festive season is short=lived, come January, we still have shorter, cold, wet days, but none of the cheer to go with it AND to make it worse, overindulging means you can carry some excess baggage……

My advice (to more than one client) has been to be consistent and this study backs it up… By exercising regularly you can balance out a bit of the festive food. It does mean you have put in the work, but with just over a month before the big day, some careful choices on the days you aren’t having your Christmas party and regular exercise you can make January a little less miserable!

Ab aids

There are so many TV ads promoting various aids to get you the dream six-pack. Most of the time I laugh at them, but I guess people are buying these things….believing that the super-toned person on TV really does use that piece of kit. Maybe they did – for filming, but those toned abs you see are unlikely to be the results of just using the equipment. It takes time and effort….

The bits of kit range from £80 to much higher, why not spend that on some personal training? For the same money, you could have 1-2-1 attention – get your PT to look at your nutrition, put you through your paces in a few sessions and help you plan your own weekly routine. All for about the same price as one piece of kit you’ll probably use once…..

If you’re interested in 1-2-1 or an online 12 week programme contact me for more details.

 

Teaching & Learning

I taught my first structured classes this week, seeing my name on the timetable was exciting, but what if I wasn’t any good in a class situation?

Everyone gets nervous their first time at anything……so I expected to feel anxious, I didn’t expect to feel so excited! And I really didn’t expect to feel as confident or  enjoy it as much as I did on my first time. In my previous line of work I had avoided all presentations and tried to make sure that all meetings were inclusive so no one person had to stand out – all so I could avoid being up at the front and having all the attention! Until now…

While I was busy teaching – getting people to follow my lead, watch what I was doing and listen to my instruction, I realised that I had learnt something too. I can do it, I liked it and it wasn’t as scary as I had thought it would be.

Roll on next week.

Autumn is here

I think that summer is still here – it’s just hiding a bit more, I don’t mind Autumn, but it does mean we naturally do less outside or perhaps need to push ourselves a little more to keep active.

If you’re struggling with motivation, why not sign up to my 12 week programme – an easy to follow plan for in the gym or at home, and cheaper than a gym membership. If that’s not for you, think NEAT, non exercise activity time, that means anything you do that keeps you active each day – walking to the shops, using the stairs, cleaning or gardening.

And if you want some more workout ideas check out my weekly fitness ideas.

 

12 weeks…..

It’s 12 weeks until the Christmas party season kicks off! Why do I know that? Well, I have been busy working on a new project – my 12 week exercise programme, to get you ready for the festive season.

Over the 12 weeks I will send out exercise plans, suggestions for gym and classes as well as nutritional advice. I have road tested a few friends who are all pleased with their progress. Not just about weight loss but increased fitness and strength.

More details to follow when it launches next week!

Making exercise your priority

We all know that good exercise and eating habits make you healthier and can improve your life in all sorts of ways – from self esteem to living longer, so I was pleased to read this interesting piece, which is well worth reading if you are struggling with your work/life balance (who isn’t), and could be worth forwarding to your manager! 

It also reminded me that I have to focus on the balance of my life too. I might train other people to make my living but fitting in my own training can be really tough and I am not alone! That’s why trainers often hire other trainers – because the commitment means you won’t forego it.  I am making that time – even if it means I have to adapt my training plan – so far so good!

What a day

After completing another challenge, I am yet again looking for my next one! Though I am taking some time out…

I took part in the Mighty Hike and I would highly recommend trying one of the 10 walks around the UK going on this year. Or next year. We walked 26 miles, fully supported by a fantastic and organised team, it might not seem much – we weren’t running, but once you start training (and you need to!), you’ll soon see that it sounds easier than it really is.

The views were stunning, walking up and down hills became less fun as the day went along, but the camaraderie, views and sense of achievement made it all worth it. The team I took part with have all decided to carry on the long walks (maybe not 26 miles), so we can do our next one a bit quicker.

Walking is such a great way to get fit, it costs nothing, you can start whatever your fitness level and it gets you outside and can help keep your spirits lifted. Give it a go!

All in a days walk

daffsWe have started training for our marathon walk, we initially planned a 14 mile walk on the North Downs, and as Sunday was such a beautiful day we thought our walk would be amazing. Thankfully we all have good humour and a sense of the ridiculous….. As we uttered the words  “we are doing a good pace” we ran into our first hurdle – MUD – and lots of it – in fact we soon realised that was the theme of the day. Muddy wet feet.

After the initial shock of wading through deep mud, we then had to deal with deviations from our route due to path closures (assume due to impassable mud) and that meant a longer route (we completed just over 16 miles in the end).

We climbed fences, waded mud, crossed a dual carriageway (twice) and live train tracks – all in the name of training!

trainers
Muddy trainers on their way to the bin!

If you feel so inclined, you can sponsor me and my friends for our Mighty Hike in Aid of MacMillan here.

Easter holidays

It’s another time of year when meeting up with friends and families usually revolves around eating and drinking more than you would usually. As with Christmas, I think people should enjoy the few days when (for some) they are not working and able to relax, have fun and over indulge. Just be mindful it doesn’t need to last long past the holiday season!

I am  going to be walking a lot in the build up to the marathon walk in June. So I will enjoy an Easter Egg (if the Easter bunny gets me one) and I will also eat the roast meal with all the trimmings and have Simnel cake (for a marzipan lover – this time of year is bliss!).

If, like me, you’ll be away and/or your gym is closed try a workout at home, get out for walks and mostly – enjoy yourself and get back to your healthy choices after the bank holiday weekend,

Happy Easter

Couldn’t resist a challenge

After completing my walking challenge last year (and however many others I also took part in), I decided not to do any more for a wile…..Until this week,  I have once again found myself excited to try yet another challenge. A group of us are taking part in the MacMillan Mighty Trek in June – from Brighton to Eastbourne, a 26 mile (hilly) walk. While I know I am fit enough to complete it, you can never be sure how you’ll be on the day!

My last 20 mile walk for charity involved me acting as cheerleader to keep up motivation through rain and illness (one of the group was sick every few miles). We completed it – so assuming all of us are willing and able I am sure we will complete this challenge (though hopefully it will be more fun – less rain – less sickness.

I will keep you posted on our training progress (that’s the bit I like most) and of course the fundraising!

Perception

I read this article which made me chuckle, I am pleased to know I am not the only fitness trainer who surprises people with my food choices sometimes…. And I agree with this feature. I have noticed how people confide in me with their daily eating habits or look at me when they order food from a menu. It does amuse me. Firstly, because I don’t make any judgement on what people eat – if you’ve asked for my support, advice and a programme to help you make better choices, that’s one thing, but if you haven’t – then it’s none of my business – make your choice and enjoy it.

Secondly, if I am out for a meal, it’s usually as part of a celebration, in which case, I will eat the things I want to eat, I will probably have spent all day thinking about it, I will enjoy myself and not feel guilty. I expect everyone else to do the same. I won’t be passing comment on who has what – unless I have food envy….

No one is perfect, not even close, so when I ask clients to give me a food diary (which usually includes a commentary of why they made certain choices), I am not judging their choices, just trying to work out patterns and help them make better decisions. There is no point asking someone to give up favourite foods – who would stick to any plan that was full of food they hated. Not even a professional would.

And I am out for dinner later and I can’t wait……

Acts of kindness

A friend of mine decided to make me her act of kindness for the day, it went a little bit wrong to start with but also highlighted how people can be good/kind/generous every day.

She left a tube of mini eggs on the doorstep of my block (albeit a small block of flats), still, no name, no reason for anyone to leave them there. I didn’t get her message the next day asking if I had received them (I would have sent her a thank you message!), so a few days later (having passed the tube of sweets still on the doorstep), she messaged me again. I was tired and working a late shift, when I saw her message, I felt bad. I thanked her and promised if I had realised I would have mentioned it!

When I got home – there the eggs were, Obviously I was overjoyed I could have a sweet fix after a long day (had been up at 6am to train clients followed by a late shift). Add in hormones. I was very pleased to see them!

Not only did it make me thankful for my lovely friend who had thought of me, but I also liked that all my neighbours, any visitors or any one who had come to the building, had also left them there. Just gave me a happy feeling, people can be nice.

Guess it’s my turn to do an act of kindness for someone now…..

Learning when to say no!

This week is already a blur – and it’s only Tuesday! I have signed myself up for too much work, which means fitting in anything else in is almost impossible! I have been as organised as possible – preparing meals ahead of time, having two bags ready so I can go from one to the other quickly and having all the gym kit ready laundered. Not sure I can keep up with this level of organisation……

It’s lucky I was organised at the weekend (cleaned, cooked, laundry etc – all the dull stuff we have to do), because there was little room left to figure out why I wasn’t getting hot water (needs sorting but this week I am showering at work!), let alone fitting in gym time (the irony of working in a gym), socialising, building my business…..

I have learnt that I need to say no and I am sure I am not alone with that. Why is saying no so hard sometimes?. I shouldn’t have agreed to so many shifts that I can’t run any kind of normal life……Perhaps that’s a later than planned new years resolution……

Protein snacks

A couple of my clients have mentioned how hard it is to reach their protein goals, I have days when I find it harder too. When you look at the food you eat in a day, do you base snacks around carbs – try adding in some protein too and you should find it easier to hit your target.

One of the ways I do it, is by adding in protein shakes (using almond milk also helps me hit my calcium goal too). Not every day, but sometimes when I am on the go, they are an easy option. Here are some other ideas….

And if, like me, you want a sweet fix, here’s a healthier alternative to pud!

Chia chocolate mousse (ish)

Chia pud2tbsp of each – chia seeds, agave/maple syrup & cocoa powder

1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or other alternative)

1/2 tsp of vanilla flavouring

Simple – mix it all together (can take a while to blend it all in), this made enough for two. Put in the fridge for about 30 mins or overnight. And it will give you a chocolate fix when you need it.

Bad press

While in the gym the other day the news headlines came on the local radio channel. I was bemused and irritated in equal measure, the headline suggested that working hard in the gym wouldn’t necessarily help shift the Christmas excess weight. I was amused because I (and a number of others) were all sweating it out in the gym and irritated because it was a nothing headline. How many people would get the wrong idea and either be derailed or give up when exercising has so many other benefits associated with it.

The news piece went on to say that doing the same hard exercise each time was shown not to make improvements after a while. Well maybe but there is much more behind this that needs explaining. If you follow a programme card at the gym, have personal training sessions or regularly attend classes you will notice that the exercise plan doesn’t stay the same – after a few weeks/sessions you’re encouraged to progress, why? Because your body gets used to the workout and needs to work harder to keep achieving results. Our bodies are clever and need progression in order to improve. Even if you don’t follow a set routine or class you can make changes to your own work out to see results.

If you haven’t yet shed the excess weight and are struggling, I liked Total Diet Food – this diet delivery service has real food, it feels very personal too, catering not just for allergies but unlimited preferences too. Having researched a few, this is the only one I would suggest might help you get your head around portion control while eating a variety of foods (things you might never try yourself) and they understand when you discover something doesn’t work for you (for me it was coconut yoghurt – it was noted and removed from my meal plans). It’s not just weight loss, they offer help with everything from vegan to macro plans.. It is a more expensive option, you could do this for yourself,  but sometimes we need a little help, and if it gives you the reboot to start your healthy eating it could be worth trying it out.

Happy February

I’m happy to see February – it’s a step closer to spring, there are lots of birthdays (in my family) which means celebrations and fun to look forward to. And of course, the days start feeling like they are actually getting longer.

I’ve also completed my latest little challenge – 21 days of no chocolate, crisps or cake. Not that I eat a lot of any of those, but after Christmas it’s so easy to carry on with festive food, I find setting myself a small challenge helps to break the habit.  I haven’t found it hard, and yes I will probably have the odd treat now and again, but I am not craving it and I do feel much better without it. That said,  I do have some chocolate coins in my cupboard which have remained untouched for the duration – they might not stay that way for much longer, but the odd bit of chocolate isn’t going to be an issue.

February also brings the final exam for my diploma, although I have two more courses to do, they are training days and not as intense as completing the diploma. I am looking forward to a bit less study for a while.

 

 

Work life balance

The last few weeks seem to have been a whirlwind, coursework, exams, work and also a lot of fun.

This week I have learnt about gin, drunk some of it, made my own gin (which friends are going to sample) and been to the theatre. I have really enjoyed January – not something you hear many people say! I love being busy, but I’ve found a way to balance working, with booking in some fun things to do – things I wouldn’t normally do – like making gin. Not sure why we save up special days out (like my impromptu spa afternoon last week) as special occasions. It’s like saving new clothes for an occasion…..why not enjoy them on an average day (or better still, on a blah type day when it might make you feel a bit better). That’s my new plan!

Now to plan some fun days in February…….

 

The power of a nap

I never thought I could get into napping, since making changes to my life, I have discovered the joy of naps (admittedly I always liked them as a child). There is research to back up the positive effects of taking a nap in the day. The key is to limit it to 20-30 minutes, it should leave you feeling fresh, any longer and you could end up feeling more tired.

So this week, while juggling shift work, clients, social life (star wars went on until 2345) and chores (not been so successful on that part), I have also included some naps. And I have enjoyed them. As a morning person I struggle with late shifts, but a nap before work helps. Highly recommend it if you can!

What a week! Diploma complete!

A hectic week, completing my Personal Training Diploma, which involved a lot of concentration, paperwork and assessments. It was good fun and a real sense of achievement to complete all the modules (except for one final practical assessment – booked for a couple of weeks). I met some lovely people, and felt supported and inspired by my tutor, it made the hard work (and sore body) all worth it. A couple of days rest and then I am looking forward to getting back to my routine – swimming, classes, weights and whatever else I can fit in!

In other news….

I watched an interesting programme – Trust me, I’m a Doctor, they discussed sugar alternatives. For years we have been told to avoid sugar and use sweeteners instead, but maybe not now, (or at least not the one we used to use). On test was Saccharine (one of the oldest and most used) vs Stevia (relatively new and claims to be more natural). I was most alarmed that in just a week there were noticeable changes in blood sugar levels in the Saccharine group, interestingly the Stevia group didn’t see any changes of note. Make a note of that!

They also tested eating at set times. One doctor was monitored for 24 hours, he was only given snacks, but at regular intervals. The findings showed that naturally (without a meal) your fat and blood sugar levels increase at night, and drop again by morning. So the old saying breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper, could actually be apt.

Take-away notes from this:

Stevia doesn’t affect blood sugar levels in the same way as other sugar alternatives.

Eating late at night could increase your body fat. Try to eat you last meal before 8pm so your body has time to digest it before you go to sleep.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

 

Good intentions

Have you noticed how many programmes, adverts and how much noise about dieting there is out there. More than usual I think (or so it seems), friends commented to me the other day how they had also noticed it. Does it make you feel more under pressure? Especially if you are struggling to keep up with all the good intentions.

I have one friend who only made it a few days on dry January, probably because the pressure to stick to it and the constant reminders of what she couldn’t have made her want it more. When an innocent offer of a glass of wine and a catch up was made, she took it, without thinking, and then realised she wasn’t ‘supposed’ to.

I am not sure why January is the designated month for starting your fitness and healthy eating, it’s something we should be doing every day/week/month, because setting a start date would then imply an end date – but that’s not how healthy living works.

The key to keeping to a realistic and healthy lifestyle is to make it fit your real life, so putting everything on hold for one month means it’s inevitable you’ll struggle at some point.

Make healthy a habit – it will take at least 21 days before it’s really a habit, but that is a manageable amount of time to focus on. Once the habit is formed, it should be easier to maintain. So for 21 days – plan your gym sessions, prep your meals and snacks, try to avoid alcohol (or stick to one or two drinks once a week) and unhealthy processed foods. You may not make it 100% perfect, but no one is, so just do as much as you can.

Hopefully after 21 days, you will feel the benefits and that’s what will make it stick. And by that point, it will be February and we won’t have all those ads on 24/7.

 

 

New year – new you?

I have decided not to make any new years resolutions, except to stop being so tough on myself. I am completing my Personal Training Diploma, which will enable me to help more people in the longer term, I am trying to build up my business as well as work – I don’t think I have time for much else at the moment. So, I am working on a better me. New Year – not new me – just a better version (because I will have completed my qualifications and hopefully progressed my business).

I was pleased to read that Women’s Health magazine (which I love), has also taken a step to help women be kinder to themselves – by no longer putting headlines such as ‘Bikini Diet’ on the cover. Women generally are interested in the latest diet trend or how to lose weight (and preferably quickly), but it’s good to see they have taken a steer from readers who want more. WH are educating readers to work out, eat well and generally be less bothered by scales or what we think we ‘should’ look like. Refreshing.

While there are many New year – new you slogans out there, I will be encouraging my clients to change it to New Year – Your best year (or a better you). Hopefully it will give them the positive motivation to continue towards their goals or to make new goals, if that’s what they choose. A better you is all about improving in ways you want to, a few life tweaks to get you a step closer to your specific goal.

New Years Resolutions

Now that Christmas has passed, it’s time for New Years resolutions, I don’t make them every year, sometimes they seem like just another thing to add on to a long to-do list. As much as I love a list, I also like to know I can achieve everything on it!

I haven’t decided if I am going to do any this year, but if I do, I will work on the basis it has to be something that will benefit me and not create extra stress. The most common resolution is to get fit/lose weight. As a goal in itself that is fine, but only if you are in the right mindset. Don’t make a resolution that doesn’t really ring true with you.

I’ll try to help if you are committed to getting healthy, with news and ideas – take a look at the fitness and nutrition pages to be inspired.

Most importantly have a happy and healthy 2016.

Happy Christmas

I’ve finished my shopping, I’ve wrapped presents AND delivered cards (for some reason I usually end up with at least a few undelivered). I think I am ready for Christmas now….

The week of Christmas is lovely, generally people are wishing eachother well, I love it when strangers say Happy Christmas. There have been a lot of celebratory drinking/eating. And I love the lights everywhere.

It’s a great time of year, for most people, but my heart goes out to anyone who has sadness or loneliness.

Whatever you are doing on December 25th, I hope it brings you joy.

Happy Christmas!

Exercise for better sleep

I read an article recently that recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week to aid sleep. Since lack of sleep has been shown to be hugely damaging to our health, not just because we can’t function as well, our concentration level drops considerably. It also is shown to cause is to eat more, this piece of advice could help a lot of people get into a healthier routine.

150 minutes is only 30 minutes per day, it doesn’t have to be all at once, so that should be achievable. The slight flaw with this is that people generally overestimate their exercise level, in the same way they underestimate the quantity of food they eat.

Other tips to getting a better sleep routine include, keeping to a schedule – getting up and going to bed at about the same time each day, reduce caffeine – especially in the evening, turning off technology, have your last meal or snack a couple of hours before heading to bed, ensure your bed is comfortable and the room is dark, and where possible sleep when your own internal body clock wants to.

Sometimes this is easier said than done – but perhaps adding in the extra 30 minutes of daily exercise could help. Night!

Fitting it all in

I seem to work on the basis I have more hours in my day than anyone else…. I know this because my friends are bemused by my ability to fill a day especially when I am not working, and, because I struggle to fit it all in and if/when I do, I am exhausted. Perhaps that’s a new years resolution….

I don’t have a big family or a demanding job, yet I am struggling to fit in my exercise, proper mealtimes, general house and admin stuff, let alone keeping in touch with everyone.  I can only imagine how crazy life would be if I had to fit all that in too. Which makes me think, we are too hard on ourselves. I love a list, mostly with the things I want to achieve for the day/week ahead, It’s satisfying to cross it all off, but, it’s not possible to do everything all of the time.

For the first time in months I had a sick day – didn’t set foot outside my front door, I watched TV, dozed and ordered Christmas presents online. It was bliss – but true to form the next day I was back to the gym, collecting pre-ordered items and completing my shopping – of course, by the end of it all I was shattered……

To keep on track (as much as possible) with my healthy lifestyle, I am preparing simple meals, for a couple of days at a time, saves so much time and means I can eat well. I have also tweaked my fitness routine – for now, swimming is working for me because I am not restricted by class times, I only need to do 30 minutes and as I go first thing, it means I can be showered and ready for the day bright and early. It helps that it clears my mind – which is a great way to start a busy day. Today I noticed a lot of parents in with their kids – good idea to get away from all the chaos of the frantic shoppers.

Find what works for you, a bit of me-time, if possible, will keep you sane and perhaps will help you rethink the to do list.

 

 

Festive snacking

As you have probably gathered by now, I like this time of year. So I am always pleased when I can change my snack or cheats to festive ones, here are a few ideas for you.

Can't beat a nakd bar
Can’t beat a nakd bar

I love a nakd bar join them on twitter and #findyourfavourite. I love this Christmas pudding flavour, but also like bakewell tart or rhubarb and custard. Or what about satsumas, I could eat several in one go!

Also found a couple of recipes I think might be worth a try. Take a look here for a list of no bake protein based Christmas pudding, truffle and other favourites.

Or try these Deliciously Ella Gluten Free Mince pies as suggested by Waitrose – it includes nutrition information and the full cooking method for anyone who hasn’t made their own before (like me).

Enjoy the snacks you make or the treats you buy (my guilty pleasure – chocolate coins), just remember to keep it as a treat, and don’t overdo it, Happy snacking!

Obesity hits the news (again)

Isn’t it sad that we have to keep reading and hearing stories about the obesity crisis. The obesity word is used as a headline to grab attention, which isn’t always helpful and sometimes means the story behind the headline gets missed, much like this mornings headlines.  Dame Sally Davies makes some really good points on other issues too. 

There appears to be no simple solution to obesity, we all have to take responsibility for our own health and that of anyone in our care, but if the government – local or central, councils,health professionals and manufacturers could work together to provide a clear message that would surely be a good step forward. Sugar Tax being the latest debate.

The report also highlights issues so many people deal with but don’t want to talk about, such as eating disorders, health in pregnancy and other gynaecological concerns. Dame Sally has some good suggestions to support treatment for women dealing with any of these problems. We should also remember that men face many of these and their own specific issues which also need as much attention. I hope her report gets some real attention and more importantly, action.

Hectic but happy

Wow, December has started out busier than if I worked full time! Just as well I completed my challenge!

My month has started with a wedding, it was lovely, fun and a great way to start of the festivities. The following day I had a Christmas lunch (that went on to the evening!), again a lovely do, filled with friends and laughter. So, like everyone at this time of year –  I haven’t eaten the most healthy foods or trained as much, but you can’t fit everything in.

I made up for it when I went away to Ragdale Hall (highly recommend if you’re looking for a healthy mini break), it was so good to go away, I slept well, tried out classes I don’t usually do (core conditioning and beaming were favourites), ate fantastic healthy food (but more than enough to feel full) and enjoyed a few treatments. I’ve come back aching from those new classes, but feeling like I have relaxed enough to prepare for the next couple of hectic weeks of work, socialising and the general Christmas craziness.

The thing I have noticed most, I am hectic, flitting from one thing to the next, but I am happy, and for the first time in years I am able to enjoy all the Christmas fun to the full (in case you haven’t noticed – I like Christmas!). I want to celebrate the build up, see friends, say yes to random invitations and just enjoy the moments.

That said – I have to go to work now!

1000 miles complete

So pleased to have finally completed my 1000 miles, the goal was before Christmas, but then I realised I was so close during November that I moved the deadline to November 30.

The last few days meant long walk – 8-9 miles a day, quite tough going, some days the weather was not kind! Strong winds, rain and short days meant it was tricky to fit in, but worth it to complete the challenge,

Yet to decide my next I will leave it to the new year.

The impossible dream?

I recently started training a client, who has shown great improvement, whether she notices or not, it’s there to see, and while I may be helping her on the way, it’s her hard work, and commitment to following the training and eating plans that is making the difference, despite her long hours at work. It helps that she is not driven to look for instant success, she is noticing the little changes – her strength improving, a bit more toned muscle showing, how her gym routine is a little easier – and that’s nothing to do with the scale (which also show great results but isn’t her prime focus). The point is, while we joked she wanted to be Cindy Crawford (she is around 5ft2), she is actually just aiming for a better version of herself – not an impossible dream – no trainer I know can deliver increased height and a supermodel lifestyle as part of the package.

Another client, has a baby and a full on busy life, how she fits everything in is beyond me, she is a very cheerful whirlwind. She has a healthy attitude to baby weight – yes she’d like it to go, but not at the expense of getting on with life. Sometimes that means a bit less time doing structured exercising in a week, but, instead of using that as an excuse,  she finds alternatives – walking with the pushchair to the shops, getting on her bike and going to a further station. Every little adds up, and with her positive outlook, it means results are coming along.  Sometimes her baby comes to our sessions in the park – she finds mummy exercising very funny – skipping in particular (I have suggested once she learns that we can return the compliment!). In her case, it’s just getting on with small changes, good healthy eating (helped by the fact her husband is a good cook, using fresh and often home grown produce) and fitting in her exercise around a busy life. I am teaching her the joy of weights and how quickly you can complete a session and still get all the health benefits.

Recently both clients told me how they had bought new jeans – in a size smaller – it was good to hear, not just because it feels good to be helping them achieve their goals, but because it made them feel good, it showed what their hard work achieved and it wasn’t about what the scale said, it wasn’t how quickly they had done it and it certainly wasn’t to make them look like some impossible (possibly airbrushed) ideal they thought they should be aiming for. That was a nice birthday present!

Can a vegan diet for fitness work?

I keep seeing lots of stories about being vegan and how it affects your training. I watched a fantastic TED Talk explaining how you can benefit from a vegan diet and be a top performing athlete.

The principal is sound, the body has to use energy to digest food, energy that you would ideally use for performance (athlete or regular gym goer), meat requires more energy to be digested, what he explained really well, was that swapping meat for starches was not the answer as they also take a lot of energy to be digested. Plant based foods, take much less, and therefore they can offer a healthy solution to vegetarian or vegan fitness regimes. The less energy used in digestion, the more there is for performance.

I am not vegan, but I can appreciate everyone has choices and being healthy is more important – however you get there. I do, think fitnika101 on instagram is worth following if you are thinking about or have recently become vegan – she shows you how fit and well you can be by eating a good vegan diet. She looks amazing, she talks sense and has dealt with struggles to get her to a point today where she trains hard because she likes it, the results show but she also knows when to relax. She gives regular updates and I think is quite inspirational.

If I could walk 500 miles…..I’d still have a long way to go!

I decided in May that I would start a challenge that everyone else started in January, to walk 1000 miles in one year. It isn’t for charity, to win a prize or any kind of kudos, it’s just because I can and I like walking. There are days I like walking less – like when you forget to clock up the miles you’ve done so that day has to be a zero. Yes, I have done that a few times – you’d think you’d learn after the disappointment of doing it once! Apparently not.

What this challenge (and the many I have done before it), has shown me, is that I like a challenge – just small ones, I find they show me things about myself I would not have otherwise noticed. They can reinforce positive thoughts and therefore, behaviour. For example, I took part in the RNLI H2Only challenge earlier this year. I naively thought that since I don’t drink a lot of caffeine, no fizzy drinks and the occasional alcoholic drink, that it would be quite simple to drink only water for 10 days. Not so, I found it tough, but I also noticed how good I felt, I slept well, my skin looked great, and I felt ‘light’ ‘clean’ – just by changing my usual decaf drinks to water. No expensive ‘cleanse’ or strict ‘detox’ required.  It has made me focus on drinking more water, but I have slipped in some other options too – no one is perfect!

This walking challenge has also highlighted small health benefits, how hard some days it is to make the magic 10,000 steps, when you’re in an office all day, sometimes it’s quite an effort to get out and do the miles. Other days I just walk instead of taking the bus, I get my chores done but also the miles too – win/win..

So I would urge anyone to give a small challenge a go, you don’t need to sign up for a marathon, or the latest fad diet, just something to test yourself a little – who knows,you could find it makes a bigger impact than you could imagine!

I am off for another walk…..

Choco Peanut Butter Protein Mug cake

I loved the sound of this – yet to make it! It serves one person – and seems simple enough. I find some good ideas one natesway.com – also good circuits next time you’re stuck for a bit of inspiration in the gym!

1/8 cup cocoa powder

2 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp water

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 egg

1tbsp sugar or stevia

1/2 scoop protein powder

1 handful of dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Mix everything together in a mug – making sure they are all stirred in well, add choc chips to the top of the mix and microwave for 30 seconds. Enjoy!

Hello and welcome!

Thanks for stopping by my website and visiting my blog. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy putting it together.

I decided some time ago I wanted to start a blog, just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. Then I made a major life change – moving from a career in Publishing to retraining in something I had always loved doing for myself – becoming a Personal Trainer. Along the way I decided that it would make sense to have a blog alongside my website, which gives me the opportunity to air my views, thoughts, on all things health related as well a little insight into the real me, not just the Personal Trainer talking health and fitness all the time.

I can say all the ‘right’ things but, like every other person in the world, I also like to let my hair down, relax my health & fitness regime a bit, forget about work (even though I love it)  and just generally be me.