Monday, 28 September 2015

What is "Cardio"?

Millions of people around the world insist on jogging. I hate jogging; it’s bad for your joints (especially if you’re overweight), and if you have any muscular imbalances or injuries it will exacerbate the problem.

So if you can’t run, how else will you do your cardio?

Cycling? Rowing? Cross-Training? Swimming?

Contrary to popular belief, these aren’t the only ways you can “do cardio”; lifting weights is cardio!

Cardiovascular/Cardio/CV training is anything that raises your heart rate.

So… if you load up a barbell with your bodyweight, sit it on your back and start squatting, will your heart rate increase? You bet it will! Pump out a dozen reps and you’ll be out of breath too. THAT IS cardio.

Jump up and hang off a bar, and knock out 15 pull-ups – also cardio.

Basically, lifting weights with any sort of intensity is cardio, especially the larger, full-body movements like squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, crawling, tyre flips etc. The more muscles you’re working, the more muscles are crying out for more oxygen.

Basically what I’m saying is you don’t have to do long, boring “cardio” sessions, that will hinder any attempt to build muscle, and is less efficient for fat loss than weight training, and can damage your joints beyond repair. If you lift weights with intensity, you’ll get all of the benefits of CV training, 
with the added, and very important benefit of working and strengthening your muscles.

Want to burn more energy (i.e. calories)? Work your fuel-burners (your muscles) harder.

Yes, there are many ways to train with weights, but for the most part they’ll all work your cardiovascular system and get your heart pumping blood around your body faster and harder, and the benefits far outweigh the traditional and boring methods.

If you’re training for a run/swim/ride etc., then by all means train for that (but remember weight training will also help); but if you’re training for fat loss/fitness, lift weights.

You may not be able to lift weights for as long as you run without stopping, but people have come to realize that interval training is more beneficial for fat loss than steady state (i.e. long and boring) 
cardio anyway. So think of weights as an interval session, but working your muscles too. Win, win!

If you enjoy running, go for a run - just don't over-do it. If you don't enjoy it, then there's really no reason why you need to be doing it.

So the bottom line is this: Lift weights! Regardless of your goals.

The 5 Worst foods in your Kitchen

So you think you’re eating healthily, and compared to most – you might be! But comparing yourself to an unhealthy population, and being in the top half is still far from ideal; and with so much conflicting information how do you know if you’re getting it right?

You might be surprised to find that some of the “healthy” foods you’re buying are actually fattening and bad for you. The very foods that are promoted as being good for you!

Food companies are businesses. They are in"business" to make money, simple. So if they can find a way to reduce costs, increase prices, and sell more products, you can bet they will! (And ethics often doesn't come into it).

So… What are my top 5 worst foods that you might have in your kitchen?

1.       Breakfast Cereal. This is just terrible. It’s loaded with added sugars and sweeteners, and to even be allowed to be sold as ‘food’, the manufacturers have to add synthetic vitamins and minerals to it (because without these, it has zero nutritional value and cannot be called food!). They’ll sell this as a bonus though: “Fortified with…”, “Now with added vitamin…”, and we lap it up like they’ve done us a huge favour! And I won’t even get into how it’s marketed to us but needless to say we're told it's good for us! Also lacking in adequate amounts of protein and fat, it’s incomplete as a meal and totally unacceptable as a breakfast (even if it is “wholegrain” or “high fibre”).

2.       Diet drinks. Cola, Lemonade etc. Fizzy drinks are loaded with sugar which we know is bad (although most people don’t comprehend just how bad!), but replacing them with “diet” versions will have no positive impact on your health! The artificial sweeteners pumped into them, which they HAVE to have to keep them tasting nice, is arguably as bad as the sugar – although we have no idea of all the adverse effects of these sweeteners, some have been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity, IBS, migraines and more. Bottom line – don’t be fooled, drink water!If your kids won't drink water (ask yourself why - if they've been given other, tastier options, it's no wonder they'll kick up a fuss and refuse to drink plain old water!), try some herbal teas - you can get blackcurrant, lemon, strawberry, mint etc. Just brew them up and let them cool in the fridge. It may take a dozen tries before they'll drink it, but they'll soon get used to it and it'll be far better for them than any other sugary (or "low sugar") drink. Give them the option of that, or water, nothing else. They'll soon start drinking them :)

3.       Low-fat options. We need fat in our diet, period. While some fats are better than others, fats as a whole have been demonised by the food industry to our detriment. Take the fat out of something and it tastes horrible, so they HAVE to replace it with sugar or sweeteners. Low fat=high sugar (or to keep the “calories” down, one of the aforementioned alternative deadly sweeteners!). Fats are essential for every cell in your body to function optimally; be aware of where they’re coming from, but definitely keep them in your diet!Whole milk is better than skimmed. Proper butter is better than margarine. You get the idea...

4.       Granola Bars. Healthy snacking at its best. Take all the cereal problems and squeeze them together into a bar to eat on the go. Advertised as “99 calories” or similar, it’s just a smaller portion of the same! Usually held together with some form of syrup or honey etc. and possibly even topped with a low-fat yoghurt or some other kind of coating.If you want a healthy snack, make up a trail mix of nuts and seeds, or chop up some fresh vegetables like carrots, celery or peppers. Avoid cereals in any form!

5.       Fruit Juice. But fruit’s healthy?! While fruit itself contains sugars, they’re naturally occurring and are accompanied by fibre (the flesh of the fruit) that will aid in digestion and slow down the sugar rush. Still best avoided if weight loss is a goal or you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, but for the most part a healthy food.Fruit juice however has all of the fibre taken away. Squeeze all of the tasty sugar out of a fruit, and you have fruit juice. This is NOT a healthy choice, especially for your children.
Again, you/your children should be drinking water. If you want to add some flavour, use the teas as mentioned above, or squeeze half a lemon or lime into your water for flavour and extra nutrients.

There are no doubt many other insults lying around in your kitchen, but if you can start with these 5, which are among the worst, you'll be off to a great start. Once you've done that, you can start to look at other improvements.
Small improvements add up to big changes over time, with consistency, so take the first step now.

If you need more help, visit for information on Personal Training, Nutrition Coaching, and Bootcamp classes.