May 162009
 

One theory I’ve heard mentioned to me is the concept that we all have a limited number of heart beats after which we die. The people espousing this thoery to me claim I am very quickly using up all my available heart beats and will come to a grinding halt well before my time. I thought about this for a while and decided I should look into it a bit more just to reassure myself that I’m not heading for an early grave. The results are very interesting

If we compare three people – me, someone who is moderately fit and trains for 3 hours per week and someone who does no exercise at all.

First of all lets consider the resting heart rate which is basically your heart rate when you are asleep. Mine is around 32( I’ve heard Lance Armstrongs is 28), an average fit male of 40 years of age is 60 and unfit would be 80.

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Feb 102009
 

>Losing fat is without doubt the most common goal I hear as a personal trainer and although you may here about some amazing new weight loss training program keep in mind that what most people want is FAT loss not weight loss. What’s the difference and why does it matter as long as you are lighter on the scales? There is a very big difference and if you want to keep the fat off it is very important to make sure you understand what the difference is.
Weight loss can come from three main sources ; fat, muscle and water. Unfortunately losing water and muscle is relatively easy. Simply dont drink or eat and hey presto you weigh less. The problem with this you cant go around in a permanent state of dehydration and expect your body to function properly and if you lose muscle you lower your metabolic rate ( your metabolism is closely related to the amount of muscle you have). If you lower your metabolic rate then you reduce the amount of calories you need each day.

In fact any time you drastically reduce your calorie content your body says to itself ” we haven’t got many calories coming in so lets keep our fat stores because they are a good source of energy and lets burn up our muscles to make up for the lack of calories coming in”. Clearly this isn’t a good option.

It gets worse though. If you stay on a very strict calorie controlled diet for a while your body keeps buring muscle until the amount of calories you need match the amount of calories you are consuming ( as you lose muscle your metabolic rate drops and youn eed less calories). As no-one can survive or maintain such a diet long term eventually you start eating more. Now you are eating more than your body requires so you weight goes back up faster than it went off in the first place. Obviously this is not a good long term fat loss plan.

The other factor to consider is we lose muscle at the rate of around 0.5% per year over the age of 30. So our metabolism is slowing anyway.

Fortunately there is a way to combat this. What you need to do is some form of exercise that stops muscle loss from age and increases your metabolic rate so your body burns more calories even when your asleep.

Many people think that cardiovascular training is the best form of exercise for fat loss. Unfortunately this is not true. Whilst it does burn calories and will help to lose weight it’s not the most effective and is very time consuming.

Every good fat loss training program should include weight training and interval training. Both these forms of training will boost your metabolism from 12 to up to 48 hours after your workout as your body repairs the damage you did during your workout.Yes I did say damage. Training causes small micro tears in the muscle which the body spends energy to repair and make stronger than before.

Don’t panic, weight training will not necessarily make you bigger. There are many ways to perform weight training and the body will react differently depending on the weights ,repetitions and recovery time between sets. Choosing the right repetition range and recovery period will ensure that the body doesn’t bulk up. Contrary to popular opinion it is quite difficult to “bulk” up. If it was easy there wouldn’t be any demand for steriods.

Females have even less of a worry about putting on muscle as a womans testosterone level is significantly lower than a males.

Weight training is also very good for maintaining bone density and decreasing your risk of lifestly diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Interval training is cardiovascular training but done at very high intesnity for short bursts. The benefit of this type of training is that because of the intensity it causes chemical changes in the muscles which takes energy to restore to normal levels so once again your metabolism is raised after the workout.

So how do you lose fat and burn more calories in your sleep? Interval training and weight training will cause damage in the muscles that needs to be repaired. Our body goes into repair mode when we sleep!

So if your not already doing some weight training and interval training and you want to lose fat then the sooner you start the sooner you will be on your way to the body you’ve always wanted.

Jan 252009
 

>Recently in the media there has been much acclaim regarding how a new weight loss pill will solve the UK obseity epidemic. This pill works by reducing the amount of fat the body absorbs. The undigested fat is expelled from the body through bowel movements. Now I don’t know about you but that sounds like a bandaid solution if ever there was one. Amazingly it is supported by the National Obesity Forum. Essentially what they are saying is forget about trying to educate the population on the benefits of healthy nutrition and exercise lets tell them they can eat whatever they want as long as they take this pill.

No mention is made of changing behaviour at all. It may reduce the body fat levels of some people but without changing their nutrition and exercise habits they will still have increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and many other associated lifetsyle diseases.

Why is it they we keep looking a a magic pill? Fifty years ago there was no obesity epidemic and there was no magic pill.Why do doctors prescribe these medications and why has the government allowed this new pill to be available without a prescription?

Much has been made of genetics, and it’s effect on how much we eat and how much weight we put on. It is a fact that some people can eat whatever they want and some people look at food and they put on weight. But, genetically we have changed for thousands of years so why are we more obese now then fifty years ago? Fifty years ago health clubs weren’t even around. The range of food available was far less yet obesity was uncommon. What has changed?

Fifty years ago we didn’t have the range of cheap ,highly processed, fatty, sugary food that is available now and the amount of incidental exercise we do now is almost none. So if the major difference is the fact that fifty years ago we ate natural foods, meat, vegetables, fruit, bread and did a lot more incedental exercise why is so much money being spent on coming up with a miracle drug. Why isn’t it being spent on nutrition education and making it easy for everyone to exercise. Yes there are some people that have been dealt a harsh hand with their genes but for the great majority if they cut out refined foods and exercised regularly you wouldn’t find many people obese.

If we started taking responsibility for ourselves instead of hoping someone will come up with the easy answer to our problems that involves no effort on our behalf we wouldn’t have the obesity problem we have today. A lot of this should come about from education. After all if kids aren’t taught anything about health, nutrition and exercise it makes it so much more difficult for them in later years.

So, educate yourselves on what healthy nutrition is – ignore all the diet books, it has been long since proven that diets don’t work and dont result in long term sustainable weight loss. Learn what healthy food is for your body, find some form of exercise you enjoy and make both of these an integral part of your lifestyle and reap the benefits.

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Jan 212009
 

>Have you worked hard to lose weight only to find that several months later you’re back to where you started from? Have you gone on a fitness kick but a year later realised you haven’t done anything for 6 months and have lost any fitness gains you made?

It is a familiar scenario that replays itself year after year. Why do people try and lose weight and get fit but find it very hard to maintain it? Often people start to see some small improvements then all of a sudden they are back to where they started from. It is very frustrating and demoralising and can put people of exercise forever.
There is a way to avoid this trap. There is a way that you can not only reach your health and fitness goals but you can maintain them for the rest of your life with little effort. Sound too good to be true – read on.

To understand the concept I’m about to discuss I’d like you to consider two different people. One we’ll call, Norm and the other Lance. Now Norm is your typical overweight out of shape 40 year old. He makes an effort to go to the gym twice a week each January, by march it’s down to once a fortnight and by June not at all. He often skips breakfast, eats sandwiches or meat pies for lunch, choclolate bars or muffins for snack, has take out 3-4 times a week and drinks on 5-6 nights of the week usually a bottle of wine or 2-3 pints.

Lance on the other hand is also 40 but very fit and healthy. He goes to the gym 4-5 times per week most weeks, has porridge for breakfast, brings healthy lunches to work, snacks on nuts and fruit, eats out 3-4 times per week but almost allways chooses the healthiest option and stays away from takeaway places. He drinks but only 2-3 times per week and at most 2 glasses of wine.

When you compare Norm and Lance it is easy to see that they lead two very different lifestyles. Now if Norm wants to look like Lance then he is going to need to change his lifestyle to one similar to Lance’s.

The biggest mistake people make is to think that they can go on a diet for 3 months exercise 3-4 time per week for three months and feel like Lance for the rest of their lives. Typically once people have lived like Lance for a while and see some results they start acting more like Norm.

The trick to avoiding this problem is simple. All you have to do is think like Lance. Let me explain.

When Lance looks at food he thinks about how healthy it is, how it will make him feel after he’s eaten it, does it contain some protein, essential fats, low glycaemic carbohydrate, plenty of vegetables, does it look like it will give his body the energy it needs, will it leave a lovely fresh healthy taste on his taste buds afterwards, how much food does he need, should he eat everything on the plate or leave some etc.

Norm however thinks about food in a very different way. He thinks about what is the most convenient thing to eat and will it taste good. He ignores the bloated full feeling he gets after he’s eaten, the sudden drop in energy levels that will occur in an hour or two’s time and wont even consider if the meal contains the basic buidling blocks the body needs for proper function.

Now unless Norm starts thinking like Lance he is NEVER going to maintian a healthy weight. He can force himself to eat healthy food in the short term but he will be thinking about what he is “missing out on” and how hard it is to eat healthy and if he keeps on thinking like that then he will never be able to change his habits.

A good anolgy is if you want to learn a language fluently you have to start thinking in the new language, if you always translate everything back to your original language you are never going to become fluent. This is the critical difference. Lance finds it easy to eat healthy, he doesnt feel like he is missing out on anything, in fact he feels he gains an enermous amount by eating healthy compared with eating junk whereas Norm feels like he is missing out on all the fun when he is eating healthy.

The same thought process applies to exercise, Lance loves it, looks forward to it, likes the way it makes him feel, makes time for it every week, see’s it as a high priority in his life, feels sluggish and lethargic when he can’t exercise for a week, whereas Norm dislikes exercise, finds any excuse he can to avoid it, doesn’t notice feeling sluggish if he doesnt do it becasue he feels sluggish all the time and would rather be doing anything else. You can only overide all those negative thoughts for so long before you finally cave in and start skipping the gym and eating chocolate bars again.

You need to start thinking like Lance if you want to look and feel healthy. You need to permanently change the way you think about diet and exercise to achieve long lasting results.

Once you’ve done this everything becomes easy, you dont feel like you are giving up things so you can be healthy. Instead you feel that because you eat healthy and exercise you gain so much. You have more energy, feel better about yourself, have higher self-esteem, reduced stress levels, feel fitter, can enjoy many physical activities like walking or kicking a football with the kids, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, decreased risk of heart disease, oesteoporsis etc etc.

So when you find yourself thinking like Norm try and turn your thoughts around to think more like Lance. It might be difficult at first because you feel yourself saying no to many things, no I can’t have that bit of chocolate, no I can’t have another drink, no I can’t come to the pub early as I have to go to the gym. This kind of thought pattern is never productive.

Don’t think about what you saying no to, instead turn your thoughts around to what your saying yes to. Yes I want to eat healthy because that makes me feel better, yes I’d like a drink of water instead of a beer now because I know I’ll feel ok in the morning if I do and I’ll be able to enjoy a walk with the kids and dogs. Yes I am going to the gym before I go to the pub because being fit is way more important to me than getting to the pub in time for happy hour and I always feel really good after going to the gym which is not something you can say happens every time you go the pub.

This doesn’t mean you have to be angelic, but if you have a positive outlook on the healthy side of life you’ll find you dont want to stray to often from what you know is healthy.

So next time you are finding it hard to say no to something you shouldn’t have turn it into a yes. Think about all the benefits you’ll gain by having something healthy instead. It may not be easy doing this at first but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Eventually you’ll be looking at food and exercise with an entirely knew thought process and finding it easy to eat healthy and exercise.

Dec 152008
 

>Now we have our clearly defined goal with all the reason’s why we want it, we need to create a plan on how we are going to achieve it.The best way to approach this is to write down all the steps you will need to take in order to achieve your goal. Make sure each step is quite detailed , avoid vague general descriptions. For example; exercise regularly is far to vague. Break it down – how regularly, what form of exercise, what days will you exercise, at what time etc. Be very specific.

Once you have a list of detailed tasks that if you followed each and every one of them you would achieve your goal arrange your list according to what order they need to be done in. For example if you are running the marathon the first action might be to contact a running coach to help devise a training schedule and the last action is to organise celebratory drinks at the pub afterwards or if it’s weight loss then you first action may be to contact a personal trainer and the last action is organise a photo shoot with you looking fabulous.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help even if that costs money. Many of us wouldn’t even consider doing our tax each year because it’s far too complicated yet feel that we know enough to make a plan for us to lose weight or get fit. The human body is the most complicated object there is so why do we think we know enough after reading a few articles in a magazine to devise a training program that will give us the body you want? Dont try and save a few pounds at the expense of never reaching your goal. If it costs £500 to see a peronal trainerfor 10 sessions it may be the best £500 you’ve ever spent. A good personal trainer will not only show you how to get the results you want but educate you on how to maintain them for the rest of your lives.

We are happy to fork out thousands and thousands of pounds on education but balk at the thought of spending money on a professional to help us become fit and healthy. So we can resign ourselves to being educated with a good job but overweight, stressed, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sore back and knees or we can spend some money and learn how to reverse all that and keep it off for the rest of our lives. Seems like money well spent to me!

Once you have created a training plan either by yourself or with the help of a professional, breakdown the plan into daily tasks and each night before going to bed review your daily tasks for tomorrow ensuring you know what you are supposed to do.

I often hear people say they couldn’t eat anything healthy because there was nothing in the fridge as if it’s not their fault! All that tells me is they either failed to plan or chose not to follow the plan. Somewhere in the plan should be written “Go to the shops” at a time that fits in with their schedule. If you didn’t go shopping then either re-write your plan or re-evaluate your goals again because it looks like they may not be so important to you afterall.

At this stage you should now know what you have to do every single day in order to achieve your goal ,all you have to do is do it!

The final blog in his series will show you how you can say motivated as a plan is only any good if you actually follow it.