Monday, 28 November 2016

7 Top Tips to stay healthy in December

In December many of us tend to let our guard down with regard to our health and fitness regimes (if we have one in place to begin with). We’re busy with “busy work” and our exercise efforts can quite easily take a back seat to shopping, lunches and dinners, hangovers, kids and more.

It’s important to make time to fit your exercise in, even if you have to shorten your workouts or train at home. Skipping workouts leads to skipping more workouts and then, like the classic diet, the “I’ll start again on Monday” promise that translates to a complete blowout.

There’s no denying that at this time of year we have extra work to do – busy times at work or deadlines to meet; yes, the shopping does need to be done; and yes, there are lots of social things going on – but if you don’t take time for yourself you’ll be left in January feeling beaten and depressed and looking at what seems like a huge challenge ahead to lose weight and get fit again.

So here are some tips you may find useful through December to try and keep on top of things.

Remember, at this time of year if you struggle to maintain your exercise and healthy eating, your focus should just be on maintaining your current weight, not on losing weight. As long as you’re not gaining weight you’re doing better than most, and also probably better than previous years!

Tip #1: Make time. It’s not as hard as it sounds, just schedule in your workouts and stick to it – things will crop up and get in the way, but you need to keep to your schedule for yourself. Other things can wait, because in the end, your health is more important and one missed workout can snowball. Find a time that you think you’ll be able to allocate to a workout and schedule it in.

If you have the time to train in the morning – do it then. If not, train as soon as you get home from work (maybe even change into your gym kit before you leave). The longer you leave it, the more likely you are to skip it.

Tip #2: Pace yourself. Just because you’re on a night out, doesn’t mean you have to guzzle your way through 3 bottles of prosecco or a dozen pints. Enjoy your drinks, don’t neck them. And avoid shots!
As an extra bonus you might avoid the end-of-night junk food binge too!

Tip #3: Don’t take cakes, sweets, chocolates etc. into work. Chances are most of your co-workers will be trying to avoid the Christmas weight-gain too so stick together and be strong! If someone offers you treats, try to politely decline as much as possible. If you receive a box of chocolates as a gift, don’t open them, or gift them on (preferably to someone who’s not watching their weight).

Tip #4: Catch up on lost sleep. The late nights associated with all the get-togethers will have an impact on your health. Sleep is your best tool for keeping off the pounds. You’ll feel better and have more energy (= less skipped workouts), you burn the most fat (proportionally) when you sleep, your body recovers and repairs and your hormones rebalance. If you miss sleep, be sure to catch up on it somewhere – try to avoid shifting your wake up time too much, just take a nap in the afternoon when possible to make up for a late night or get to bed earlier the following night.

Tip #5: Walk more. To make up for the extra calories you’re likely consuming, and possibly (but hopefully not) missed workouts, try to get more activity during the day. Park at the back of the car park. Walk instead of taking the bus. Climb the escalators instead of waiting to be delivered at the top etc. Little things that you do daily add up. 

That being said, walking isn’t the most efficient activity for weight loss, so don’t sacrifice a workout for a walk, but if you can add walking in where it wasn’t before without cutting into your day, do it.

Tip #6: Drink lots of water. A glass of water when you wake up (before your tea/coffee) will help you rehydrate; a glass before meals will help you to eat less; a glass or two on a night out will slow down your alcohol consumption; water during the day will help you focus and may help reduce snacking; there are no down-sides to staying hydrated and many upsides, so it’s a no-brainer really.

Tip #7: Use your diary. This is similar to tip #1, but we tend to find ourselves wasting a lot of time all through the year, especially at Christmas. Plan your days and make them efficient. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done when you have a clear plan rather than just winging-it. Plan your day the night before – write your to-do’s, allocate time for meals and workouts, get the small things ticked off quickly and be sure to make time for yourself too. Things will get in the way, but just stick to plan and deal with extra things as soon as they come up.

Obviously there are many more things you can do to stay on track, but scheduling your days will likely have the biggest impact.

If you’ve been prepared and done all of your Christmas shopping already then you have one less thing to worry about – work on your plan of action for the nights out and think about when you’re going to have your workouts, and making better choices when the temptations are abundant.

When January comes you’ll be ready to hit the New Year running and focus on your health and weight loss goals without having to undo all the damage done in December.

If you need help with your training and/or nutrition, visit for more information on Nutrition Coaching, Personal Training, Bootcamp, and other classes.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What is it and what can you do about it?

So it’s nearly winter again. It’s dark when we get up (most of us), and dark when we get home.
Alongside the excitement of the holidays, the treats, and the get-togethers with family and friends, comes the cold, wet weather, the stress of the impending holiday and the expense that goes with it.

For anyone who just feels like hiding under the duvet until spring, there could be something else that’s affecting your mood other than stress.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect many people. You may feel fine all through the summer months, but come November, you start to get the winter blues.

Whilst there may be other factors affecting your mood, don’t immediately rule out SAD as it is real, and can have a huge impact on your life. If you find that you struggle throughout the winter months, it could be affecting you too.

So what is it, and what can you do about it?

It’s a form of depression linked to the seasons. The exact cause is still uncertain, but it has been intricately linked to the lack of sunlight during the winter months. It can affect your hormone levels (predominantly melatonin and serotonin – which are involved in mood and sleep patterns) and your body clock to the point that you feel down, lethargic and like curling up in a ball and hiding.

You might feel sad and depressed, like you’re not getting enough sleep, and be struggling to get out of bed in the morning, and also feel tired during the day.

Energy levels may be low and concentration may be a struggle, and you may also crave high carbohydrate foods leading to weight gain over the holidays (compounded by the plethora of indulgent foods around us at this time of year).

On top of that, reading all of this may just push you over the edge!

But don’t panic! There is something you can do about it – and it’s actually simple stuff.

If you feel that you may be suffering from SAD (even mildly), or even if you’re not, it wouldn’t hurt to do some of the following during the winter months:

Try Light Therapy – Since the cause of this seems to be a lack of sunlight, for most people, simply getting out in the sunlight during the day (when it’s still light obviously) or buying a “light box” and placing it on your desk is often enough to counteract many of the symptoms and have you feeling better. Daylight is the best option, but a light box as mentioned, between 2,500 and 10,000 lux will also do the trick (don’t worry too much if you don’t know what that means, just look for those numbers when you search for light boxes). If you arrive at work in the dark, and leave work in the dark, the light box will likely be your best or only option. Just sitting indoors with your lights on won’t do the trick unfortunately.
As a side note, this would also be a useful tool, year-round, for those who work nights.

Get a good vitamin D supplement – Vitamin D, or “the sunshine vitamin” is produced naturally by your body in response to exposure to sunlight. Even just 20-30 minutes exposure will produce more than enough to get you through the day; but in the winter when we don’t get out in the sunlight too much or on gloomy days vitamin D levels drop causing the symptoms described previously. It is actually a hormone, not a vitamin, and like many hormones, is produced from cholesterol – so also be aware that following a low fat diet may also be affecting not just your vitamin D levels, but other hormones too – be sure to get plenty of healthy fats in your diet and skip the low-fat rubbish you see in the supermarkets!

Exercise – It’s a simple solution, but the “feel good” hormones released when you exercise doing something you enjoy can go a long way towards fighting depression and therefore SAD.
Train regularly for at least 30 minutes to keep your endorphin levels up and feel good. An added bonus to this is you’ll probably also feel good about yourself for keeping up with exercising through Christmas – you can give yourself a big high five for that!

Get a Dawn Simulator – One of my favourites! I’ve used one of these for years and it’s great! A dawn simulator is exactly as it sounds – an alarm clock that mimics the sunrise. 30 minutes or so before your alarm is set to wake you up, a dim light comes on. Over the next 30 minutes the light gets brighter and brighter (like a sunrise) until your alarm goes off and you wake up more naturally as your body has recognised the “morning sunrise”. Some SAD sufferers have great success with this, and for those who don’t suffer from SAD, it’s still a good way to wake up, rather than an abrupt alarm waking you up in a dark room and then shielding your eyes as you switch on the light.

You are not alone if you’re starting to feel a bit depressed as the light disappears for the winter. Try some of these options and especially keep exercising. Before you know it the days will start to lengthen again and we can look forward to spring and summer.

I hope this helps and please let me know if you have success with any of these recommendations J

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Holiday Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again where everything gets more difficult.

Tempting food is everywhere you look – at the office, out and about, Christmas parties and get-togethers, social drinks with friends and family.

Not to mention the stress and lack of time to get to the gym thanks to all the shopping you need to get done.

Sticking to your diet and training plan really is difficult at this time of year. Yes, it may be an excuse, and your trainer may tell you you just need to be stronger and more determined, but none-the-less, it’s difficult.

But with a little effort, you really can make it through the holidays without gaining weight.

The key here is to focus on maintaining weight, not losing it. Trying to lose weight at this time is going to stress you out even more and more than likely end up with a blow-out and the “I’ll start in January” attitude – not that it isn’t possible for those with an iron mind and will, but for us mere mortals, now is the time to focus on maintenance.

And if you’re someone who struggles to lose weight the rest of the year, chances are losing it in December will be too big an ask.

The small amount of effort it will require to maintain your weight  (compared to trying to lose weight amidst all the temptation) will be worth it on January 1st when you have no regrets and a head start on your new-year’s weight loss regime.

So your main goal is just to not gain weight. A much easier task than depriving yourself of the treats surrounding you.

So how do you do this?

Since your goal is now maintenance, for the most part you’re going to focus on just getting your normal routine done.

Don’t skip workouts. Plan things around your training. I know things get busy, but if you plan your diary well, there’s no need to skip any workouts, especially when you will be indulging in the festive treats.

Keep a food diary. By writing down every morsel of food you eat (and everything you drink) you can better track your eating. People who keep food diaries tend to get better results than those who don’t as seeing what you eat written down is sometimes an eye-opener. You’ll tend to eat less because you know you have to write it down!

Plan ahead. Never turn up to a Christmas gathering hungry! It’s like going shopping hungry – you’ll make all the wrong choices. Eat before you go, and then you’ll be less likely to run for the indulgent food the moment you get there.

Weigh yourself regularly. Normally I tell people NOT to focus on weight, but for the holidays, weighing yourself twice a week is a great way to monitor how you’re doing. Keep track and if you see the scales going up, pay more attention to what you’re eating and drinking, and maybe try to fit in a little extra exercise. We don’t need weight loss; we’re just avoiding weight gain.

Watch your portion sizes. The classic problem at this time of year is overflowing plates and “seconds”. Don’t starve yourself and do enjoy the food, just don’t over-do it. Keep your goals in mind and remember, you’re not missing out by not having extra portions! Enjoy the food you do eat and don’t obsess over missing out.

Remember drinks have calories too. Many people forget that it’s not just their food that provides calories. Cutting back on Doritos only to drink a bottle of wine and double cappuccino is a sure-fire way to overdo it and lose your way.

Deal with leftovers quickly. Unhealthy leftovers are too big a temptation for most people. Any food that’s left, either throw away, give away, or freeze for another time. DON’T leave them in the kitchen/fridge where you can snack on them just because it’s there!

Check in every day. Every day, first thing in the morning, remind yourself what your goals are. Focus on today (not yesterday or tomorrow) and what you’re going to do to avoid tricky food situations, and keep your eye on the prize (i.e. jumping on the scales in January and NOT seeing a huge weight gain). Plan ahead and keep your priorities at the front of your mind (or a cheeky drink and mince pie will temporarily take priority!).

Go public. Accountability is a great way to keep yourself in check. Tell people what you’re doing. Let them know your weigh-in results. Get someone (preferably a nutrition coach, but anyone will do) to look through your food diary and pull you up on anything that’s way over the top. Sounds scary, but it works. This is the basis behind many weight loss clubs; not that fear and shame are the best way to go about it, but they are good motivators!

It IS possible to make it through the holidays without gaining weight. Just keep these tips in mind and don’t get too ‘wrapped up’ in the details. Focus on how you want to feel after Christmas and don’t get caught up in short-term pleasures. Have the odd indulgence and enjoy yourself, but avoid the blow-outs.

If you need help with your training and/or nutrition, visit for more information on Nutrition Coaching, Personal Training, Bootcamp, and other classes.

Enjoy the holidays :)

Monday, 10 October 2016

Going too fast is slowing you down

If you’re like most people trying to lose weight, you want the world.

20 years of bad food choices and on/off dieting has left your body unsure of how to deal with food and how to burn fat efficiently. Of course, you want to reverse those 20 years in 2 weeks; and the “insert name’s” 28 day rapid fat loss metabolic shred belly blast toning program has told you that you can do it, and it must be true because a well-paid celebrity is vouching for it.

They have their own branded foods in the supermarket, Jean down the road done it and lost 5 stone and looks great (in a gaunt, tired sort of way).

So what’s the problem? How can it fail? They even offer a free sign-up and a bunch of goodies to get you started!

The problem of course is that you can’t follow the plan! Maybe for a week, or if you’re really good, a few weeks. Then you crack… and eat everything under the sun because “today’s ruined” and you “may as well” make the most of it today and start again tomorrow… or Monday.

Even if you manage to stick to it and lose the weight, you feel like s*#! and you’re left clueless as to what to do now it’s over. You go back to eating how you normally would, maybe replacing the worst culprits with an “insert name’s” approved snack, and you gradually (or maybe not so gradually) start to gain weight again. After all the hard work you put in, why are you getting fatter again?!

The problem is if you’ve gained weight over a period of years it’s going to take more than a few weeks to undo all of the damage you’ve done to your body. You can cheat the system and shred it in that time (some of these systems DO work after all), but there’s a cost to that and it’s likely to be a short-term result.
I’m guessing you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while now. How far have you gotten in the last 12 months? Lost some and put it on again? Tried and failed 4 different diets and are back where you started (or maybe the diets failed you)? Feel like you’re chasing your tail?
If you could sit down a year from now at, or at least a lot nearer to, your ideal weight would you be pleased? Would more have changed for you than in the previous year?
The key to weight loss (and health) success is to find an approach that suits you personally. Something that you can follow easily, without crazy restrictions, that makes you feel great, gives you energy, helps you sleep better and relax, de-stresses you, and you can do without fail every day, even on holiday and on nights out.
Doesn’t even sound like a “Diet” does it?
THIS is the key to success.
It really is that simple. Making healthier choices, changing your habits, and integrating it into your daily life will get you where you want to be.
You can spend the next year going from diet to diet, scales going down, then up again, frustrated, stressed, tired and angry, or you could chill out and take it one step at a time, tweak things to suit you as you go, and make steady progress.
Which do you choose?
If you’re over-weight and just want to get to a “normal” size that you’re happy with, maybe a size or two less than what you are now, then the steady approach is best for you. Nothing complicated, no following a bodybuilder’s contest-prep meal plan and workouts, just a sensible approach to eating and a little bit more activity day to day.
If you’re currently 30% body fat, what do you need to do before you get to 10%?
…you need to get to 29%.
If your current diet is about a 5 on a scale of 1-10, what do you need to get to before you get to 10?
… 6.
If you’re currently gaining weight, what do you need to do before you lose weight?
…just STOP gaining it!
Small, simple changes will get you a little bit further forward. Drastic changes may get you quicker results to begin with, but then you’ll bounce back to square one and the trade-off is you have to go through hell to get there. Why punish yourself for 12 weeks if you can relax for 24?!
Think of one simple, small change you can make right away that would be an improvement on what you’ve been doing; and do it. Maybe swap just one of your cups of coffee for a glass of water; or buy ONE chocolate bar instead of 3 “because they’re on offer”; or swap to dark chocolate instead of milk. Whatever your guilty pleasure is – how can you make a small, manageable improvement to it?
Instead of focussing on what you can’t eat, focus on what you can eat and work from there. As you increase the amount of “good/better” foods you eat, you’ll naturally decrease the amount of “bad/worse” foods you eat.
If you’ve tried and failed at dieting before, take a look at my new Nutrition Coaching program. We take a long-term approach to your nutrition, making small changes one at a time to improve your diet.
 We’ll track your progress (no dingy halls to “weigh-in”), monitor your consistency (the part we’re crap at), and explain how you can enjoy the foods you like, guilt-free but without “saving up for it” all week or “making up for it” next week (that is not a healthy relationship with food!).
The program is delivered to you DAILY via e-mail and you can log-in on your smartphone, tablet or computer to read the day’s lesson (takes about 5 minutes to read or you can listen to the audio version).
The daily “nudges” will keep you focussed on what you’re doing and why, and make you think about your food and why you’re eating it.
The daily reminders are what keep people on track, and the successful dieter is the consistent one. How much easier do you think it would be to follow your program if you had someone reminding you every day what to do and why?
The power of this program is in the sustainability of the changes, and the constant monitoring of your success.
If this sounds like it would help you then get in touch. I’m currently charging just £30 a month for this program.
If you’d like more information visit and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Together we’ll work on improving your diet, health, body composition, energy levels, stress levels and lifestyle; one step at a time.
A year from now you’ll be able to look back with no regrets (diet-wise anyway) and will know what works for you. No more Diets, no more guessing games, no more fads. Just a bunch of new habits that require no extra effort to do, that keep you fit, healthy and well-nourished.
Can you say that about the last 12 months?
Go to now to find out more and sign up.
I look forward to working with you!


Monday, 5 September 2016

Cardio or Weights for Fat Loss?

Are you wasting your time on the treadmill?

For the most part fat loss is about energy expenditure. Calories are units of energy, fat is made up of stored energy, ergo to burn fat you must use up energy.

I’m going to tell you how you can burn more energy, without spending precious extra time in the gym.

Your muscles are the engines of your fat burning. The harder they work, the more energy [calories] you’ll burn.

Whilst running on a treadmill/outside, cycling, or jumping on the cross-trainer for 40 minutes will burn energy and improve your aerobic fitness, it’s not going to work your muscles particularly hard, especially after a few weeks of doing it when your body becomes accustomed to the workout and more efficient at it (more efficient = less calories burned).

For the most part, the sheer amount of time people spend running is what produces any fat loss results, but also normally comes with a loss of muscle too (picture a typical long-distance runner – not the most muscular people).

If your goal is fat loss, without the accompanying loss of muscle and strength (remember you want to keep hold of your muscle to burn more calories, and I see no reason why anyone would want to get weaker!) then resistance training is your best choice.

Already I can hear the usual response (normally from women): “But I don’t want to get muscly”

You won’t.

Let me explain.

To burn fat, you need to be burning more calories than you consume – should be quite obvious.

To build muscle, you need to be consuming more calories than you burn (you can’t build muscle without adequate fuel – it would be like trying to build a wall without any bricks).

So while there are some slight differences between training protocols, training for fat loss and training for muscle gain are very similar. The difference comes from your nutrition.

By lifting weights (resistance training) you will be burning more of the fuel in your muscles. This fuel then needs replacing, which will come from your food, or if you’re burning more than you’re eating, from your energy (fat) stores.

Enter the next problem: Gyms full of machines.

Machines made to target specific muscles are great for rehabbing an injury or for targeting problem areas for body-building, but for the weight-loss community, they’re using too few muscles to burn any significant amount of energy; and if you spend your hour in the gym going from one machine to the next with your “3 sets of 10” programme, you’re missing out on A LOT of calorie burning.

There’s a reason that squats, deadlifts, lunges, burpees etc. are hated world-wide – because they’re hard work! Hard work means they’re using most of your muscles at the same time, draining your energy (burning it) and getting you out of breath (muscles need oxygen to burn fuel – so the more out of breath from lifting weights you are, the more energy you’re likely burning [as a side note – this also counts as “cardio”]).

THIS is how you should be allocating your gym time. Focussing on large movements with resistance.

Remember, if you’re eating less calories than you burn, you won’t be able to build lots of muscle! For women, you also don’t have the right hormones to build muscle easily, especially without eating enough.

Some people will notice an ‘apparent’ increase in muscle size to begin with. If you’re not used to lifting weights, your muscles will draw in more fluid (water/blood) in order to repair, and they’ll also become more efficient at storing energy (which is a good thing because it’s easier to burn it from here, and it means less will be stored as fat if more can be stored in the muscle).

This is not your muscles growing, just becoming more efficient; and it will not continue unless you are over-eating – don’t panic about your jeans getting a little bit tighter around your thighs initially.
Fat-burning is much, MUCH faster than muscle-building so this will be a non-issue very soon.

Another point to remember is that bodybuilding requires the muscles to grow in size. This means striving for the famed “pump” in the muscle. This shouldn’t really be an issue if you’re using large, full-body movements instead of isolating small muscle groups, but if you’re worried about this, avoid lifting light weights for high reps – a sure-fire way to get a pump in the muscle and a common mistake women make when lifting weights, as people generally believe that this is better for “toning”!

This is a classic trap that women lifting weights fall into – too scared to get big and muscly, so they lift light weights.

If you want a leaner, more toned, firmer look, you need to make your muscles firmer and more toned. 

To do this you need to put tension through your muscles with heavier weights.

“Toning” requires heavy weights, not light weights and high reps.

Please be aware though that as with any training there is risk involved and by “heavy” I mean the heaviest weight you can lift with good technique. If you’re unsure of technique, get a good trainer and make sure your focus is on technique, not going for PB’s (personal best’s) every session.

*Until your technique is near perfect, you should NEVER increase the weight you’re lifting!*

In summary:

● For fat burning you need to lift weights (even just bodyweight exercises are sufficient) as oppose to spending countless hours doing “cardio”.

● Choose large, full body exercises over small isolated ones.

● Technique comes first and foremost, only then can you add more weight.

● As long as you’re burning more fuel than you’re consuming (calories), you CANNOT build masses of muscle, just a small adaptation to begin with as the muscles adjust to the extra work.

● More sets, less reps, heavier weights (with good technique) are preferable.

● Eat a healthy diet full of nutritious foods and avoid over-eating, but don’t drop calories too low; as long as calorie intake is less than expenditure you’ll lose weight, but if you drop calories too low your calorie expenditure will drop to match it and weight loss will stop.

For guys (or girls) wanting to burn fat AND build muscle this becomes quite complicated. Without a good coach I would recommend you focus on just fat burning first – if you’re doing strength training you’re unlikely to lose too much muscle so focus on getting leaner. Then, when you have lost an adequate amount of body fat, change to a muscle building routine (it’s easier to build muscle when you’re leaner as testosterone/oestrogen balance is more favourable for this with lower body fat).

For help with your training and/or nutrition, visit for more information on Nutrition Coaching, Personal Training, Bootcamp, and other classes.

And follow us on Facebook and Twitter (do it now……) for extra tips, advice and motivation.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Improving your eating and health without “Dieting”

For most people “Diets” are too difficult. The healthy recipe book or diet plan is great for about a week, then compliance drops off and the excitement of trying something new wears off because you haven’t lost 10 lbs in a week.

Gradually the “Diet” goes out the window and old eating habits creep back in.

For some people, the traditional method of following a strict diet for a few weeks, or the points systems or calorie-counting that have been relied on for so long do work, but for most, they don’t quite get the results you’re after.

Enter Habit Based Nutrition.

The reason people fail at dieting is because their new actions go against ingrained habits. It’s your behaviour and habits that need to be addressed rather than a strict plan telling you what you can or can’t eat.

You don’t need to be told what you can or can’t eat as this is the failing point in most diets, and most people know what they should and shouldn’t be eating. You need to be able to enjoy the foods you like, but still eat in a way that works for your body and delivers the results you want.

By addressing your daily habits, you can make small, healthy changes easily; gradually improving your diet over time so it changes for good, not until “the end of your diet”. Every couple of weeks you should introduce a new habit that you can scale up or down to suit your current level – if it’s too hard, make it easier. If it’s too easy, make it more challenging.

By introducing one achievable habit at a time, you’ll build up step by step to a healthier lifestyle.
Progress should be tracked in a number of ways, not just with weight on the scales (which is useful, but not ideal); photos, measurements, compliance and any other specific markers you feel will be helpful are essential in keeping you motivated.

DAILY reminders will help you stay on track; and learning why you’re doing what you’re doing will help you understand and commit to your habit changes more easily. 

Remembering why you’re making the changes (what your goals are) will also keep you motivated.

One of the main reasons slimming clubs work is because you’re making yourself accountable. Tell someone what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and ask for their support (it doesn’t have to be a facebook announcement to the world, but someone you trust who will hold you accountable and give you a hard time if you slack off – like a trainer or coach). 

The aim is not to embarrass you when you fail, but to motivate you to try harder and boost your pride and confidence when you succeed.

Now you can do all of this yourself, but there’s so much nutritional “information” out there that it can be difficult to work out what you need to do next, or even where to begin!

As a Precision Nutrition certified coach, I can now offer you access to ProCoach, a habit-based nutrition coaching program that will help you to easily integrate healthy eating into your lifestyle.

It covers all of the above – teaching you new habits in a structured way to ensure you start at the beginning and build up slowly, one success after the other. While there’s no right or wrong way, certain foundations need to be laid before you can build on them, so getting the right habits under control first will prevent you from falling off the wagon by trying something you’re not ready for.

This is an entirely new approach to dieting for most people, (in fact, for the first couple of weeks we don’t even talk about food!) but it’s effective and it works. By helping you think about and focus on your goals, it will help you make better choices that will ultimately lead to your desired result.

If you’d like more information on ProCoach, visit where you can watch a video of people who’ve done the program, and contact me with any questions you might have.

If your current efforts aren’t working for you, it’s time to try something new! 

Visit for more information on Personal Training, Nutrition Coaching, Bootcamp, and other classes.

And follow us on Facebook and Twitter (do it now……) for extra tips, advice and motivation.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Weight Loss 101

In their attempts to lose weight and get fit people often turn to the latest “Diets” to solve their problems for them.

From the most recent trends and Instagram gurus to the well-known weight loss clubs that have been around for years. These multi-million pound businesses have a vested interest. While it is in their interest to get people results, the efficacy of their programs is irrelevant once they’ve sold you their product, so clever marketing is their number one concern.

Before your health and successful weight loss, comes your money.

People buy into things based on what they believe from the marketing and word of mouth/popularity.

Before and after pictures bombard every advertisement for these products because they’re convincing and people want the results they see on the ad, but here’s the thing – no one diet works for everyone!

If 1,000 people follow a diet, it WILL work for a proportion of them, maybe 10%; maybe more, maybe less, but it will work for some.

10% of those 1,000 people is 100 success stories and THOSE are the stories/pictures they’ll use for the advertising. The ads wouldn’t be so convincing if under the fantastic transformations it said “you have a 10% chance of achieving these results”.

I’m not saying that all of the diet plans out there are bad, in fact most of them are very good… for some people.

But how do you figure out which plan is right for you?

The key here is not to follow a specific plan.

While this may sound illogical, let me explain…

A “Diet plan” is set, minimal room for variation or flexibility. Since everybody is different, and what works for you won’t necessarily work for the next person, any plan set out in writing will fail the majority of people.

Instead, you need to look for the common factors in all of the successful diet plans. Trends and patterns, guidelines and rules of thumb.

The most successful diets (and I don’t mean for short-term results, but for lasting, “keep the weight off” results) have a few things in common, they:

● get people preparing their own meals

● get people eating fresh, whole foods as opposed to pre-packed ready meals

● help people build healthy habits into their lifestyle rather than tell them “you can’t have this

● help people establish their own eating rules and guidelines suited to them specifically

● help people determine how much they should be eating, how often, and when

● look at exercise as a form of calorie reduction rather than just cutting down food intake

● improve the HEALTH of the person, instead of simply looking at their weight
If the main focus is purely on weight loss, you’ll likely do your body harm and end up, long-term, with a failed attempt.

If you make HEALTH the main goal, weight loss will follow and you’ll feel fantastic for it. Long-term success is much more likely.

In order to have success in dieting, you need to look at many factors and create your very own diet plan that works for YOU (and no-one else).

No-one looks the same, no-one acts the same, no-one has the exact same problems; everyone is individual. Your diet needs to be too.

The above listed rules and guidelines do apply across the board, but to tailor a diet to suit YOU, you need to figure out exactly how to integrate all of these things into YOUR lifestyle; kind of like your very own “Owner’s Manual”.

The bare bones of weight loss (or weight gain if that’s your goal) is energy balance, or calories if you will.

While I hate the whole process of counting calories (or allocating points to calories), there’s no escaping the fact that you cannot create energy from nothing.

…meaning you cannot gain weight without eating more than your body needs, and you cannot lose weight if you’re eating more than your body needs.

What your body needs is unique to you and there is no equation or formula that can tell you specifically what you need. There are formulas that will give you a ballpark figure of what someone your height, weight, size needs, but it doesn’t take into account the myriad other factors, like stress, diet history, hormones etc., therefore it needs refining to suit you.

If you’ve slowed your metabolism by following a low-calorie diet for a long period of time, your daily calorie goal according to the calculations will likely be much higher than your actual need (since your body has become more efficient and shut down anything that requires energy that it deems non-essential to survival).

So following a diet that uses these calculations will mean you’ll gain weight.

As an example,

A 35-year old female, weighing 80kg (176lb, or 12 ½ stone), and 162cm (5’4”) tall, who exercises 3 times a week would require 2,030 calories per day to maintain that weight, and any reduction in that number should see her lose weight.

But if our example has been following a low-calorie diet, say 1,200 calories per day for a long period, chances are weight loss has stopped despite being 800 calories below her daily maintenance level.

What’s happened? Her body has stopped all non-essential energy consuming activities and slowed things down to survive on 1,200 calories per day (which is far too low for this individual anyway).

So if, having “failed” at her current weight loss attempts (now it’s stopped working) she started a new diet that used the standard formulas and said that to lose weight she needs to eat 1,800 calories per day (a reasonable assumption given that her maintenance level is 2,030 calories), she would gain weight; because her body has adjusted to burn only 1,200 calories per day. So we now have a 600 calorie surplus!

This is why the standard calculations don’t work. They do not take into account diet history and current eating habits.

For long term success, you need to start your nutrition plan right where you are. Assess your current eating habits and make adjustments from there.

Anyone who is overweight due to over-eating will have success using these formulas because their body is burning as much energy as the calculations would suggest (maybe even a bit more if they’ve been over-eating for a long time). So for them, a simple cut in calories will result in weight loss.

But for anyone who’s been dieting, not over-eating, and has cut calories already, the equation will fail you every time.

As a coach, I rarely see food diaries with excessive amounts of food on them, but regularly see food diaries where people are under-eating yet still not losing weight.

In order to achieve successful and healthy weight loss (or gain), you need to establish what you’re eating now and what results it brings i.e. if you’re gaining, losing, or maintaining your weight.

Once you’ve established your current calorie intake and its results, you can make adjustments from there to get the required outcome.

Be aware though that if you’re already below your daily calorie intake (i.e. maintaining weight at a calorie count below your BMR as in our example before), further reducing calories is NOT the way to go.

You’ll need to find a way to increase calories without gaining weight to get back to a healthy calorie intake and to increase your metabolism to burn more.

This is the real basics of weight loss/gain, and it can’t be cheated. There is no shortcut and there are no supplements that enable you to bypass this simple fact. Energy cannot be created out of nothing, or burned without the required effort – a pill will not burn fat!

The pyramid below shows the order of importance for weight loss (or gain). 

There is a hierarchy here, and trying to utilise any of the sections before you’ve mastered the section below will result in failure.

This, if you read between the lines, tells you exactly what you need to do.

Anyone, be they a trainer in the gym or on the internet, a fitness “guru”, or a huge trusted company, selling you supplements for weight loss without first covering all of the other factors involved are either after your money, or lacking the knowledge to help you. Be VERY cautious who you listen to.

I’ve mentioned in previous articles to be careful who you listen to, and if something doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not right. Find someone who speaks sense and you trust, and follow their advice over hearsay.

There are many “Diets” out there to choose from, but finding your own will be the best move you ever make. It won’t be one you can find online or buy in a book, or one you can share with someone else once you’ve found it, because it will be YOUR diet, and yours alone.

It will also never be static and will change as you do. As your body changes, so will your dietary needs. If you change your exercise habits, lifestyle habits, or even your job, your nutritional requirements will change too.

So before you choose your next ‘Diet’, think about these things and look over the proposed Diet. Does it tick all the right boxes and does it make sense? Or does it sound easy and too good to be true?

And perhaps most importantly, does it start with you establishing your baseline and work from there (most likely through either a food diary or a number of questionnaires, or both)? Or just ask for your basic details (gender/age/height/weight/goal weight) so it can punch them into an online calculator and generate a program from that.

Or even worse, does it not even ask for any of those and simply give you healthy recipes to eat?! (Which is great – but is just a cook book, not a diet)

Tread carefully and think through your decisions when making dietary choices as they will affect not only your weight, but your health and your sanity too!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

How to diet successfully (and easily)

Ok, so most people reading this have probably, at some point, followed a diet. You may be following one now?

But is it too much? Are you struggling to stick to it?

Most people when starting a new diet aim for perfection.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being terrible, 10 being “perfect”), people aim for 9 or 10 when they start a diet. Cut out ALL of this, don’t have ANY of that, cut 1000 calories a day… then after a week, it all goes out the window. The weekend binge of 6000 calories on Friday and Saturday undoes all of the calories you’ve saved in the week, and does more damage than if you’d not bothered in the first place; and you went through 5 days of hell to get there.

If your diet is currently a “2 out of 10” – what do you need to do to improve and see a change…?

3 out of 10. It’s that simple.

If you normally have a large pizza on a Friday night – would your diet be better, would you be eating less calories, and would you see a change if you swapped that large pizza for a shish kebab or a burger?


You’ve swapped one “bad” food, for something slightly better. Do you need to change it for a bean salad? Probably not right now.

Is this change more acceptable to you? And are you more likely to succeed?

Find compromises that you’re happy with (salad may not be one of them right now) and are confident that you can do, and implement them.

If you swap the pizza for a lower calorie, healthier option, you’re on the right track.

If you can eat what you want, as usual, but just skip dessert – you’ve improved your diet and reduced calories. All without giving up the foods you love.

Like chocolate and can’t imagine not having any? Swap it for dark chocolate. You’ve just jumped from a 2 to a 3 out of 10.

The point is, you need to implement small changes that you can actually see yourself being able to stick to, without draining your self-discipline to the point that when someone offers you a piece of cake you want to bite their hand off or punch them in the face.

Take the guilt out of the foods you love, and just work on a slight calorie reduction through small changes. Trying to cut out bread? How about go for thin sliced wholegrain instead of thick sliced white? Another simple improvement that doesn’t leave you wondering what the hell you can eat for lunch.

Make small, easy changes for the better and gradually your diet will improve more and more. You only need to get from a 2 to a 3, then 3 to 4, and so on…

There are so many little changes and swaps you can make to improve your diet, don’t try to make them all at once or go straight for the big ones. Steady weight loss, without the stress, hunger and cravings is far better than rapid weight loss, feeling like s*** and inevitably failing a week or two down the line. And no-one wants to give up the foods they love for lettuce leaves!

You CAN have your cake and eat it, just a little bit less :)

A quick note on calorie reduction:

While it’s not quite as simple as it seems, the bottom line is you DO need to burn more calories than you eat to lose weight. But the clue there is “burn”.

Don’t drop too many calories out of your diet or you’ll cause a number of other problems that will be far worse in the long run, as well as being constantly hungry (which will chip away at your discipline and diet adherence).

If you drop 200 calories from your diet (a modest reduction and easily achievable for almost anyone), but also BURN 200 extra calories per day (again, a perfectly achievable amount), then you’ve just created a 400-calorie-a-day deficit – more than enough to see changes in body composition and weight loss.

This could be as simple as skipping dessert, having one biscuit instead of 3, taking 1 less sugar in your tea/coffee, having a square of dark chocolate instead of a bar of milk chocolate…

…and adding a 20-minute workout into your daily routine (or if you already workout, tweak your routine to burn more calories – switch from running on a treadmill to lifting some weights or circuit training for example).

Sit and have a think about how you can “improve” your diet, without trying to eat like a vegan supermodel, and find a form of exercise you’d be happy to spend 20 minutes of your day doing.

Then make those changes!

If you need more help, I offer one-to-one and group training out of Crayford gym. Visit for more information on this, Nutrition Coaching, and Bootcamp classes.

And follow us on Facebook and Twitter (do it now……) for extra tips, advice and motivation.

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Importance of Guidance

If you’re reading this then the likelihood is that you’re either trying to lose weight (and searching for more ideas since the ones you’ve already tried haven’t worked), or you’re just into health and fitness and after more information.

Either way, you are probably lacking in a few things that will be holding back your results.
Many people question the value of Personal Training, and it’s easily done – it’s not particularly cheap (and if it is then you need to question it), and there are many, many bad trainers out there giving the rest of us a bad name.

But if you can find a good trainer (look for qualifications and experience over cost – “nothing is more expensive than paying for something that doesn’t work”), then they can be worth their weight in gold.
If you’re buying “workouts” and paying them to count your reps – then get out! (You’ll be better off finding a good workout online and training with a friend).

If you’re paying them for a personalised (hence “Personal” Training) workout plan and nutritional guidance based on your current circumstances (not a printout they hand to everyone) then you could be onto something good. Otherwise save your money and go to some classes!

If you can’t afford the trainer you’d like to work with, maybe find out if they offer group training options and split the cost with a friend or two, or your partner…

Guidance is what most people lack in their routines; both diet and exercise. The more is better approach just isn’t correct and quality over quantity is very much more accurate. Doing the right things, at the right times is far more effective and efficient than simply burning yourself out doing random workouts that look good.

With a structured plan, specific to you and your goals, you will achieve more, faster. Not just in terms of fat loss or muscle gain, but also in health – an often overlooked factor in the quest for better body composition.

Without someone to guide you through your plan, you’ll be left to try all the fad diets that come and go, leaving a trail of disappointed, disheartened people in their wake. The yo-yo dieters, following plans that worked for a friend (who has since put all the weight back on again), or got sucked in by clever marketing to buy someone’s products, or are trusting the magazines who use clever headings to attract your attention and tell you what the latest “trend” in fitness is this month.

You need someone to trust and listen to, who can tell you what plan is right for you (because NO plan is right for everyone).

Diet is specific to YOU. 

What you’ve been eating up until now; what you’ve tried in the past; sleeping patterns; work; stress; time available for workouts; time available for cooking; medication; injuries or medical conditions; whether you were overweight or skinny as a child… all of these play a part in determining your diet and exercise plan. Someone recommending a diet or supplement to you because it worked for someone else is ridiculous.

Find someone to listen to and do as they tell you. By all means question it! If they can’t tell you why they’re telling you what they are, then find someone else. But if they can justify their instructions, and it makes sense, follow their guidance.

It won’t be as simple as letting your chosen mentor do all the work – you will have to follow instruction, monitor progress and feedback to them in order for them to make the necessary adjustments. But if you do this you’ll be constantly narrowing in on what works best for you at this current time (nutritional requirements will change as you do so it’s never static).

So filter through all of the information you have and decide who speaks the most sense and resonates with you, and follow their guidance.

If you need more help, I offer one-to-one and group training out of Crayford gym. Visit for more information on this, Nutrition Coaching, and Bootcamp classes.

And follow us on Facebook and Twitter (do it now……) for extra tips, advice and motivation.

Friday, 22 January 2016

What to do if your Diet isn’t working

This time of year is notorious for people starting new and crazy diets; and by February chances are a good proportion of those new-year-dieters have either given up completely or are starting to lose faith in their “it worked for my friend” diets.

As with most things, people are after quick results. “10lbs a week or I’m trying something else.”
Healthy fat loss doesn’t come that quick. Consistency works better than an all-out effort for a week.
So... You started a diet in January (well, after you’d eaten the Christmas leftovers and only had the chocolates that no-one likes left), and you’re already beginning to lose hope and admit defeat. What can you do?

The first thing is reassess your “Diet”. If you cut too many calories you’ll almost certainly have lost some weight, but your body is smart and won’t play ball much longer. You need to increase calories (but to just under what you were eating before), so you’re still eating a bit less, but not starving yourself or your body.

To make up for this increase in calories you can attack the “calories in vs. calories out” equation from both ends. Increase your exercise; not excessively, but increase it, to focus on the “calories out” side.

By doing this you’re not tricking your body and sending it into panic mode. Too few calories and your body will adapt and stop burning so many calories, ditch some much needed muscle tissue and focus on storing fat! The exact opposite of what you’re aiming to achieve!

If you keep calories up, your body feels safe and maintains its usual calorie burn. Add in some exercise and you’ve just tipped the balance into the energy deficit you need for fat loss, but without the loss of muscle tissue or your body “slowing down”.

Once you’ve established a reasonable amount of exercise and regained control over your calories, monitor your progress. Don’t weigh yourself daily and stress out over a pound here and there; just once a week.

If you see weight loss, great! Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t be tempted to change things to try and speed it up. 

If you see no change, either increase your exercise slightly or cut calories by 100cals a day and see what happens next week. 

If your weight goes up (and if you’ve been, honestly, consistent with your diet and exercise) then both increase exercise and decrease calories by 100-200cals a day.

Use this method until you reach your goal weight, but NEVER, ever, EVER cut calories too low. If you’re eating less than 1500 calories a day, training 3-5 days a week (no more), and still not losing weight, find a good trainer and get help – you may be doing something wrong, or could be doing something better, or possibly (in very few cases) you have a more sinister underlying problem.

As a side note, if you’ve been following a low-calorie diet (less than 1500 calories a day) for a while, then you’ve trusted the wrong people and probably done more harm than good. You’ll need to gradually bring calorie intake back up again (before you get ill) and focus on food quality and exercises that don’t take too much out of you while your body repairs itself and recovers from starvation and shut-down. I would also strongly recommend you seek expert help to ensure you do this correctly as you need to undo the damage, ideally without gaining back any fat.

Diet can get extremely complicated, but can also be very simple. Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly, following the simplest of guidelines I just set out, you’ll do fine.

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