Sunday, 25 April 2010

Boot Camp 1st birthday - fat loss lessons learnt along the way

It’s coming up to the one year anniversary of the Fat Blast Boot Camp and it’s made me reflect on a few things, while some people will love the boot camp and get a lot from it – others just don’t seem to get the results they desire.

On the boot camp we’ve had people like Yvonne Bell who had a total inch loss of 10.5 and lost 6lbs in 4 weeks and Helen Allan also had a total inch loss of 10.5 and lost 6lbs in 4 weeks, or Phil Benaiges who lost an amazing 18lbs in 2 boot camps and got into his 34" waist trousers for the first time in over 6 years. Then there’s Alyson Down who didn’t change much on the scales yet lost 4” off her waist 1.5" from her hips 0.5" off her upper thighs, upper arms and bust in just 4 weeks. Nikki Scarr who went from a size 16 to 12 in just a few months – plus she passed her military entrance test with flying colours! More recently Becky Shuttleworth who lost 4” from her thighs, 7” from her stomach, an inch off each arm and went from a size 16 to a 12 and lost about 2 and a half stone in just a few months! Jackie box who lost a stone on her first boot camp following the nutritional advice as well as her boot camp sessions, Jackie is currently a shrinking lady and her fitness is coming on in leaps and bounds – and all the rest of the members who have also seen great results.

While there are people who are thrilled with their results from the boot camp there is always the odd one who may not get the results they desire. This led me to research further, why is it that some people are getting these results yet others aren’t. On deeper inspection I noticed a pattern forming with those that weren’t getting results.

The camp members that were following erratic eating patterns such as skipping breakfast, having a poor choice of lunch such as fruit alone or a small bowl of soup followed by a large evening meal including complex carbohydrates, generally followed by snacking seemed to not change or worse yet put on slightly. The same also happened with the campers that were following calorie restricted diets, the more severe the calorie restriction the worse their results would become. Whilst I can offer people advice, some do not change their eating habits and choose to put their health at risk rather than follow professional advice.

This led me to investigate further as to why these people are not getting the results they want – or even worse getting completely the opposite! So over this last six months I have been studying hormonal patterns, and what happens to our body when we put it under stress such as poor diet, excessive exercise (Aerobic style exercise for longer than 45 minutes to an hour at any one given time), poor sleeping patterns and lifestyle stress such as heavy or binge drinking, what I have learnt has been an eye opener!

Cortisol, known as the stress hormone because it’s released when our body becomes stressed may be a huge contributor. Back in the caveman days we needed cortisol for the ‘fight or flight’ phase for hunting, when faced with the stressor such as a lion, your cortisol would increase to prepare you to either fight it or run away from it, either way your body would use that cortisol efficiently . Fast forward several thousand years and although our lifestyle has somewhat changed our body’s have not yet evolved to differentiate stress for ‘fight or flight’ and every day stresses such children, relationship, diet and exercise.

Cortisol encourages fat storage all over our body but more noticeably around the stomach. Whether you yo-yo diet, have suffered with an eating disorder, don’t follow a healthy eating regime, have lifestyle stresses or have poor sleeping patterns then you are among those that will suffer from increased cortisol production and fat storage.

Here are some shocking findings for the excessive dieters:

Researchers from the Birmingham University were studying metabolic effects a very low calorie diet (eight hundred calories per day) for 10 weeks and what they found is that the stress of the diet significantly increased cortisol levels throughout the body, this also increased HSD (11 bet/a-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) - a fat storing enzyme within the fat cells) activity within the fat cells by 3.4 times. Which goes to show that not only are these diets stressful but they make your fat cells work against you! As you struggle to lose weight, your fat cells actually INCREASE their HSD activity, leading to more cortisol, a stronger signal to store fat, bringing you back to your pre diet weight, or in many cases even heavier!

Each book that I have read on the subject of hormonal patterns have all had something in common – to follow a healthy diet, very similar to the one I advocate on the boot camp.

Other things that can help people is taking time out for relaxation, meditation, yoga and pilates can be great to help with the overall fat loss for those who embrace it properly and get the true advantages that they offer you.

Treat your body holistically; don’t expect to get fantastic results from exercise alone if everything else in your life is unbalanced. If you concentrate on being happy with you and the body you have at present, respect that amazing body you have by following a healthy diet and cutting down on foods that have been altered from their natural state and gone through heavy processes making them more stressful for the body to digest. Take time out to do the things that YOU love (that doesn't involve abusing your body with drugs or alcohol), get some exercise – challenge your body. Spend time for relaxation which doesn’t include sleep because our minds still work overtime when we sleep.

Just be happy and at ease with the amazing person that you are and realise that some journeys may take time, but learn to love the path that your following to get you there, there may be set backs along the way but the minute you let that upset you and discourage you your on the slippery slope to failure. Remain positive at all times and accept that there are consequences when you choose to follow an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

During this last year I have not only worked with some amazing people on the boot camp, but also my ongoing personal training and fitness class clients, I am truly thankful that you have been a part of my path to become a more knowledgeable trainer, better instructor and make my job so worthwhile - from the bottom of my heart, thank you, you’re my life and I love you all lots

Stay happy and strong and keep rocking it! x

References and further reading –

The Cortisol Connection - Shawn Talbott
Adrenal Fatigue – James Wilson

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Top 5 obstacles to overcome in your quest for the perfect body!

Ok so you’ve just started to follow a specific healthy eating regime and exercise programme and things are getting hard, when we set ourselves goals in life we will always come to an obstacle – here are my top 5 when it comes to weight/fat loss.

Number 5 – The media

We see things on the TV every day, adverts claiming their ‘foods’ will help you lose weight, articles/adverts in the newspapers or magazines about the latest diet craze or magic pill!

The media has a HUGE influence over how we view what’s healthy and what’s not, don’t let it suck you in – we’ve all got it in us to realise what really is healthy and what’s not, a lot of it is common sense – think about how our great grandparents ate, no packets or heavily processed crap then!

On top of the media and advertising campaigns we have the skinny models and celebrities to compete with, including those flawless figures in the magazines that have been airbrushed to get them that way!

Who cares whether you have the perfect body – the key is learning to love yourself and your body (whatever your shape) and when you love your body you will respect it – by respect I mean you will eat the healthy foods it requires to function to the best of its ability and challenge it with exercise – get the best from the body you have.

When you learn to love body you will find it much harder to fill it with crap!

If you’re unsure of what’s healthy and what’s not – find a health and nutritional professional who might be able to help you if you’re confused.

Number 4 – your work colleagues

So you might have just started a boot camp or exercise class that your buzzing about and you tell your colleagues, and you get that blank stare – then the ‘are you mad’ look – they might even say that, while their tucking into their digestive and cup of tea, then in the next breath complain of being fat! Some of them might even make fun of you, and make jokes about you being a ‘health/fitness freak’ they are only directing the jibes towards you to take the attention away from the fact that they are doing nothing about their health!

Then you’ve got the other colleague, when you tell them you’ve given up wheat, dairy and alcohol – ‘what are you supposed to eat!’ as they tuck into their lunchtime sandwich and fifth cup of tea of the day, then come out with the comment – ‘I don’t know how you do it mate – I couldn’t!’ This is already defeatist talk – people like this will never get results if they continue with that attitude – they have no will power.

Then there’s the colleague that will bring in the biscuits or go to the shop and bring loads of crap for everyone to eat, they want to eat s**t but to make themselves feel better they encourage everyone else around them to eat s**t too! ‘But one won’t hurt’ they’ll be heard saying! They have no self discipline and want to bring everyone around them down to their level

If you know any of these people in your work place just be strong, politely thank that person for the offer of food and decline, it’s usually best not to tell anyone in the work place too much about what you’re doing because you can set yourself up for failure. After a few days or weeks they will start to notice the changes in you – that’s when you tell them about it – not before, because unfortunately a lot of people like to see others fail, perhaps it makes them feel better in themselves I’m not sure, but if they don’t know they can’t direct their views towards you or try to make you fail before you’ve even started. If you do tell them just be prepared for some of these reactions and be determined not to let it affect you.

Number 3 – your family

For some of you, you may tell your family what you’re doing and they’ll tell you that you look great and don’t need to diet, they love you so much they might not notice if you’ve got out of shape – even if they have its probably not an issue to them.

Of course then there’s that member of family that just loves to feed you up – you know the one when you do start to lose weight, handing you a fattening treat saying ‘get some of that into you love – get some meat back on your bones’ remind you of someone in your family maybe?

Then unfortunately you may have that member of family that just doesn’t believe in you, they might have seen you fail once or twice so will tell you you’re going to fail before you even give it a go, I’d be lying if I said I’d never done this myself because I have a member of my family told me they were going to give up smoking......after they had finished the last of their holiday duty frees – I told them that they were setting themselves up for failure before they’d even started because they clearly weren’t ready yet as they felt they needed to finish all their cigarettes off. The best way is to set a date and stick with that date – no matter what! When this does happen to you and someone doubts you or puts you down don’t let their comment affect your decision – make a point of proving them wrong or again just don’t tell them right away.

If you do tell your family give them lists of what you can’t eat and I’m sure they will try to help out, ask them to get herbal tea bags in for when you visit so you can still catch up over a brew!

Number 2 – your friends

This is one of the worst ones your ‘mates’ can sometimes be the ones who bring you down, whether it’s the one who sits in their house all day moaning about their life and how they wish they were thin – yet won’t do anything about it, except moan at you when you won’t go around to sit with them anymore, these types of friends I like to call the ‘un-loaders!’. They like to unload all of their problems onto you, their own unhappiness and complain about anyone else who is happy. They’ll be known to slag people off constantly and always see the bad in other people, if you know someone like this have a break from them for a while and hope that they find happiness soon – unfortunately if you continue to let them unload on you, you could then begin to suffer.

Next we have the friends that bitch at you for not going out and getting wrecked with them anymore, they might come out with comments like ‘you’ve changed’ or ‘you can’t miss this it’s been arranged for ages (like last Saturday night!) or it’s a friend’s birthday, there will always be an occasion that you should go and get wrecked with them. If you have these friends around you just have a think, are they drinking to excess and just need someone to drink with them? Have you been that person in the past (I know I have) but now you want to make a positive change for yourself they can’t handle it?

A real friend will support you no matter what you’re doing and accept it if you choose not to drink with them, if you enjoy their company you should have a great night with them even if you’re not drinking, if not then perhaps your not as close as you thought you were.

Surround yourself with positive, likeminded people you will succeed much quicker.

Number 1 - you

Let’s face it we’re all partly aware the obstacles we’re going to face when we prepare ourselves for a new challenge but the fact is, that work colleague isn’t shoving the crap food down your throat, your mates aren’t forcing you to drink and poring the alcohol down your neck, the only person who has control over anything is YOU!

If you haven’t got the strength to see things through then you will never succeed on your goals, no one wants to hear about the excuses about why you failed it’s all excuses. If you set yourself a goal then be aware of the price you have to pay to reach that goal, it might be not going out on the weekends for a while, not seeing your friends for a while, not sharing your life story in work for a while but so what – the difference in how you will feel in yourself once you get to that goal is worth much more than that moment of weakness!

So there you have it – my thoughts on the 5 biggest obstacles to overcome on your quest for getting your perfect body, the number one is YOU, if you haven’t got the will power to do what it takes to get to your goal then you will never have the results you want.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. ~Henry Ford

Friday, 9 April 2010

Could you be eating too much?

Here’s a quick blog post based on a few questions I have received lately.
Ok so you’ve been following a healthy diet for a few weeks now and you’re still not seeing any results? You’re eating the right foods but that waist line still isn’t dropping?

Well there is a chance you could still be eating too much! So I said in a recent post that when you are eating the right foods its hard to put on weight because you will be more satisfied with the foods that you are eating. What I forgot to mention is that although you can be eating all these great healthy foods you still have the ability to overeat on these healthy wholesome foods.

A lot of people just enjoy eating/snacking (me included) and may not realise that that extra handful of nuts they’ve snuck into their daily intake might be what’s stopping them from losing weight. Be honest with yourself when you reach for that snack, are you bored or are you starting to get a little peckish and need to curb your hunger until your next meal? This is where listening to your body comes in, if you’re eating foods for the sake of it then you need to be prepared to pay the price and suffer the consequences of overeating.

I’m not particularly a fan of calorie counting but it can work for some people, just by cutting your calorie intake by about 500 per day (through both exercise and diet) you will start to lose weight at a steady level. But if you’re eating a poor diet and are just reducing your calories on that poor diet you might get results short term but you will still be holding on to the fat stores and your weight loss could be coming from muscle rather than from fat.

The best way to keep on track with your weight loss is by using a diet planner to plan your meals ahead and a diet diary to keep log of everything you have eaten (yes that means everything – even that tiny bit of chocolate you pinched from your children!).

Start making your portions that little smaller, if you’re having porridge on a morning it can be easy to overdo it, just make your porridge using a small cup ¾ full or for larger males a full cup. Watch your snacks in the day and be careful of overeating at your meals. You should never feel totally bloated after a meal – if you do its counterproductive.

If you have been exercising and you have stopped getting results you need to increase your intensity of the exercise, increase the amount of exercise your doing in the week so that your body has a challenge again and also be sure that you are progressing with your exercises on your training sessions too – if you have been doing press ups from your knees for 6 weeks in a row – guess what your not progressing, by now you should be doing a few full press ups!

If you’re not seeing results then you may need to reduce your daily food intake and/or increase your energy output (exercise more): eat less – move more!!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

How much food can I eat?

I get asked questions on this subject so often, especially from clients who have stopped getting results or who aren't following a healthy diet, there have even been occasions when I have thought I've been eating healthily but when I've really looked into it I know I haven't!!

Recently (before Easter came along!!) I was following a really clean diet which involved no sugar, caffeine, wheat, dairy, alcohol or processed foods and after the initial period where I had headaches I felt absolutely amazing, hardly needed my alarm clock to get up at 5.30 in the morning as I was bounding out of bed. When I had a drink of alcohol and went out for a few meals over Easter I just felt a lack of energy and my concentration levels had just plummeted, I’m so pleased to be getting back to the healthy eating again!!

So the question - how much food should I eat? I believe should be re-phrased to: am I eating the right foods? When you are eating a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, and a mixture of proteins, carbohydrates and fats your body can absorb all the nutrients it needs and you won't have to worry about how much you’re eating as you will feel much more satisfied when you eat.

Its generally foods that have been tampered with and processed that makes us want to eat and eat, ever noticed if you have a sandwich your starving within a few hours and nothing seems to fill you - that’s because (this is my theory based on my research) your body isn't getting the right nutrients it needs so its sending signals to your brain to get you to eat more. Then rather than eating healthy foods you eat more rubbish because you’re now craving refined carbohydrates and the vicious circle of eating crap starts again! Sometimes when we make poor food choices and try to make ourselves feel better by eating healthy foods our attempts may be wasted because our body can no longer absorb the vitamins and minerals from the healthy foods as effectively.

I urge you to just give it a go – try cutting out wheat, dairy (eggs, natural yoghurt and butter are all ok in moderation), sugar, processed foods and alcohol for a minimum of two weeks and see how much more energy you have in the day! Here’s an example of what you could try eating in the day:

Breakfast: banana and almond smoothy:

Banana, small cup rice/almond milk, small handful of almonds, sprinkle of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, handful of spinach and tea spoon of olive oil) the ingredients might sound funny but you can’t taste the spinach- trust me!

Snack – small handful of mixed (unsalted) nuts and an apple

Lunch – avocado salad:

salad made with spinach, rocket and watercress, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cooked beetroot (not pickled) avocado, onion, olive oil and a lemon squeezed over for flavour – you can also add a few toasted nuts and seeds/ cooked quinoa)

Snack – small handful of mixed (unsalted) seeds and a handful of blueberries

Dinner – chicken dinner with vegetables:
Free range chicken with steamed cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, green beans and sweet potato

Desert – citrus fruit salad – made with apples, oranges, mandarins and pink grapefruit – sprinkle over nutmeg for flavour

Here’s just an example of how great and flavoursome your meals can be, there’s much more you can do with this healthy eating but I’ll leave that up to you to be creative!

Drink at least 2 litres of clean mineral water throughout the day (drink a large glass of water an hour before eating and leave for at least half an hour after eating to drink so not to dilute your foods and stop absorption), remember to stop eating once you are satisfied, there’s no need to ‘fill up’ on food and become uncomfortable.

Now I'm not saying that there's no room for the odd treat, after all we all need to let loose once in a while, thats where a 'cheat meal' can come in, once a week you enjoy your favourite meal with a glass of wine. If your planning a big night out (and have chosen not to be the driver) why not prepare yourself before hand and get lots of fruit and vegetables in for the following day so that you can go straight into healthy eating and try to reduce the effects of the alcohol as much as possible.

If after the initial 2 weeks you follow this healthy eating plan for at least 80% of the time you will feel much healthier and energised.