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The 80/20 Rule!

Ever heard someone say (or even said yourself! – yikes!) “I’ve done a spin class today, so I can eat this cake!” Or “I haven’t done a workout today, so I won’t have a glass of wine tonight”?
This type of relationship between food and exercise makes what is or isn’t consumed a reward for doing exercise or a punishment for not. Both are unhealthy attitudes that can lead to oscillating between binging and restricting diets and exercise habits, that can leave you nutrient poor and feeling burned out physically.

We need to employ the ‘B’ word …no not Boring – Balance!
It would be boring though if we never had a piece of birthday cake again or a pudding on a special occasion. An equal balance is of course 50/50 but in this instance, to make sure we keep our waistline stats in check, we need an 80/20 ratio between eating well the majority of the time and the remaining 20% gives us a little leeway to indulge in the things we enjoy every now and then, that doesn’t mean to say we have to be literal about it and eat rubbish for two days every week, see it as more of a buffer zone thats there for when parties, holidays and weddings happen.

The other aspect of balance here is to see exercise as something we do to remain healthy, acknowledging all of it’s benefits and not because you over-ate at the weekend. Look for a style of exercise you really enjoy, this may mean thinking out the box a little, for instance, if you hate the gym but love being out in nature, get a dog with lots of energy that needs plenty of long walks, or if you prefer to swim but find lane swims dull, challenge yourself to try open water swimming, the options are endless but ultimately remember we need exercise regardless of what we’ve eaten and vice versa!

– This article has been published in the October edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

One Kit Wonders!

You don’t need a whole load of gym equipment to do an effective workout, especially when exercising at home where it may be necessary to keep your paraphernalia to a minimum.
Choosing one key item that has lots of versatility can maximise your space and time, less kit is easier to store and often you can do a very comprehensive workout in as little as just 10 minutes!

You’ll need workout gear that creates a resistance to work against, so an obvious choice for this would be a kettlebell or dumbbell. Other items you could use are good old fashioned Medicine Balls and you can have great fun flinging a Slam Ball around!
Swiss Balls can also be an excellent piece of home kit though a little more tricky to store and then there’s the TRX suspension training strap if you’ve got a strong tree or beam to hang it from.
Choose any one of these excellent training options and you can do an entire full body workout with each one alone.

A ‘one piece workout’ must always be balanced, meaning you work both sides of the body equally, with the same amount of repetitions, constituting one ‘set’. The amount of ‘reps’ you do within the set will depend on how heavy the weight is and your fitness level, usually the heavier your weight the fewer reps you will be able to do per set. You’ll need to do several sets or rounds of each exercise to get a beneficial workout, so challenge yourself on how many you can do within a set time frame.
In the case of using a Swiss ball or TRX strap the same principles apply. The difference here is that you are using your own body weight to create the resistance. You can adjust your weight by the angle, depth or method of each individual exercise.

Most fitness equipment items will come with instructions and often an entire exercise chart, so all you have to do now is choose which one?!

– This article has been published in the September edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

All about face – wearing makeup at the gym!

We know instinctively that wearing makeup while working out isn’t the right thing to do and that having a bare face is best; but how many of us, already rushing to fit the gym in after work, really take the extra time to remove the days maquillage before sweating it out in boxercise?! I’m sure I won’t be the only one to confess that, unless I’d worked out first thing in the morning before the application of foundation et al, I was unlikely to cleanse my makeup off again if I went to train straight from work.

When we exercise with our face au naturel, the pores open as we begin to sweat and the perspiration sweeps away excess sebum and toxins, leaving it fresh and revitalised. It stands to reason then that if this process is hampered by a veneer of contouring cream – the natural cleansing is less effective and the makeup products can lead to clogging, causing spots and blemishes.

For those of us who still want a bit of rouge while on the rower, here’s a few practical tips on the best gym makeup options whilst still allowing our skin to breathe. Keep it simple and light with just a BB cream or a little concealer and if you’ve arrived at the gym wearing foundation from work, keep a pack of remover wipes in your kit to take off the foundation, preserving your eyebrows & mascara so at least your complexion is clear. To add a pop of colour, a cheek & lip balm will do the trick nicely and it nearly goes without saying that waterproof mascara is always the better choice to avoid the ridiculous sight of panda eyes and the sting of both sweat & kohl mixing together as they drip into your eyes – ouch!!
Finally rinse the face with cold water straight after your workout to close pores and make sure you double cleanse before bed. Et Voila!

– This article has been published in the August edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Exercise for wellbeing, not just aesthetics!

Exercise is a great way to get your body into shape – we all know this! Usually one of the most common reasons for people embarking on an exercise regime is to loose weight or change their body shape in some way, so it’s fair to say these motivations are based primarily on aesthetics. The trouble is, approaching fitness with purely aesthetic goals in mind often results in a very inconsistent relationship with exercise.

Stop/Starting an exercise routine according to whether we have an up coming holiday or special occasion, means we are always back to square one. It would be so much easier to have a constant, manageable exercise schedule that could be temporarily increased if needed in preparation for an event and then ultimately be able to decrease or cease without too much detriment to ones figure/physique while on a typical two week vacation!

Perhaps then, our attitude to fitness needs another dimension? A little tweak to our way of thinking sooner rather than when it’s too much later, could save us a whole lot of trouble. How about prevention rather than cure?!
Many people, especially in their youth, work-out just for the body image. Then at the other end of the spectrum, many older adults find themselves ‘having’ to exercise. Often for the first time at much more senior ages when it is a lot harder, out of necessity or strong advice due to a poor health report.
Adopting the idea of working-out for your wellbeing and not just your looks from an earlier age, could help to stave off many health issues and provide yourself with a much more functional body for a whole lot longer.

As a Personal Trainer my most elderly client was 90 years old and at the time, he still regularly played table tennis. I asked him once what kept him so vital and his answer was simple “I’ve always, always stayed active!”

– This article has been published in the July edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

String Theory

Any idea what your waist measurement is at the moment?

Did you know that regardless of what your height or weight is, a healthy waist measurement should be under 80cm for a woman and 94cm for a man? Any amount over these measurement guidelines indicates that you are carrying too much visceral fat and when fat is stored around your internal organs, such as your heart, liver and pancreas it could mean you are significantly increasing your risk of developing serious diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and all sorts of other nasties, so it’s really important to keep tabs on your stomach status!

If you don’t have a fancy tape measure to hand but you do happen to have a humble piece of string, there is another method used to determine if you have too much pudgy stuff around your midriff – without the use of numbers. The ‘String Test’ – which measures your height to waist ratio, could be a more individually accurate way of determining if you’re packing too much paunch.

How to do the string test: First of all cut a piece of string long enough to span your entire height, measure from your heel to the top of your head, then fold the string in half. The folded string should then be able to fit around your middle, the ends of the string must at least meet together but preferably overlap. If the two ends do not meet, you are carrying too much belly fat baby! A healthy waistline needs to measure ‘less’ than half of your height.

The good news is that once you start to apply the simple rule of < less calories consumed + > more calories burned, the visceral fat is gleaned by the body for energy, which = < less excess fat stored around your precious organs, keeping you much healthier and potentially adding years to your life. Remember to keep your piece of string handy for regular check ups around the Ol’ front porch! - This article has been published in the June edition of Life Magazines - http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Mayday!! Mayday!!

Summer bodies are made in the winter apparently – but what if you didn’t and now the first warm bank holidays of the year are upon us? As you peel off the layers an internal distress call might be going off in your mind – “Mayday! Mayday! Emergency body buffing needed!”
It has been such a long, cold and wet winter, it was easy to get complacent and hide away under warm jumpers and bulky coats but now it’s time to do some catch up work and quickly!
So how does your body respond to exercise and in what time frames?

Within just 10 minutes of beginning exercise your heart rate will increase, supplying blood to the brain and around the body, making you more alert and blocking pain receptors. After 1 hour of exercise, the body will have supplied blood to the active muscles. The body is designed to conserve energy, so there are different types of energy systems it draws from, so which one will depend on the type of exercise being performed i.e. aerobic work or resistance training.
Recovery will then begin as the body tries to return to it’s pre-exercise resting state within an hour after exercise.
1 – 2 days after exercise you may experience DOMS or delayed onset of muscle soreness, due to the micro damage exercise causes to the muscles. Collagen and nutrients come to the site to repair the damaged muscle and this is how it grows and strengthens. 3 days after exercise the metabolism can still be elevated, this is great news for burning calories even at rest.

After only 1 week of exercising, significant changes can already be experienced, including improvements in mental wellbeing, particularly in lifting symptoms of depression.
From 2 to 4 weeks of regular exercise you can expect to see measurable changes, including weight loss, increased muscle strength and improved cardiovascular fitness. It really doesn’t take long to change your physical status, so panic over – Roger!

– This article has been published in the May edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Maximus Bootius Medius 🍑

Don’t you just love that moment in the movie ‘Gladiator’ when Russel Crowe announces his character’s name “Maximus Decimus Meridius”?! Such a powerful name, such a powerful scene!
Well it turns out your very own bootè has one of those strong Latin names and is a very powerful muscle too! Your backside houses the biggest muscle in the body, the Gluteus Maximus, along with the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. This area of the anatomy has in recent times become a fashionable asset, though some of the ways and means of attaining a larger bumper are somewhat macabre, with Frankenstein-esque implants and injections gaining popularity, unfortunately with dire consequences for some.

Outside of aesthetics however, the glute max has a very important role to play and should never be overlooked in anyone’s fitness regime.
A strong set of glute’s is part of the body’s ‘core’ and is essential for protecting the back and spinal column. Slack or weakened buttocks are often the culprit for painful back problems. So it is essential to make sure the G-max, med & min are honed to peachy perfection.

The science of Butt’ology is needed to learn how to safely and effectively tone your tush. Fortunately there is an abundance of exercise methods to chose from including high impact plyometrics to gentle Pilates, ballet barre and not forgetting good old LBT (legs, bums & tums) classes, with all those endless squats and lunges!
All of us should keep this area fit and firm and it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a personal trainer to show you proper technique or join a class with a qualified instructor, especially if you have any health concerns, such as knee or hip injuries.

So remember toning your bum cheeks is not just about looking cute in your skinny jeans. It is also, and primarily, about staying strong and functional.

How many different words did I use there to describe your money maker?!

– This article has been published in the April edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Inhale / exhale

Breathing – the essence of life!
In Pilates and many other forms of exercise it is important to master the technique known as lateral breathing. This is a pattern of breathing where you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, synchronising the breath with the exertion of an exercise.
There are other benefits to this technique as well, but primarily in the case of Pilates it is related to the activation and engagement of the core muscles at the same time.

We get more air in and out through the mouth, so the breath is controlled more when brought through the nose, as typically we cannot expel all the air from one inhalation with the next exhalation, so a build up of carbon dioxide can occur, not only will this make you feel light headed but can also end up, in the moment, weakening the very muscles you are trying to strengthen – particularly the abdominals and of course in Pilates they are integral, so we need to keep them fresh and optimise their function for the tasks we are asking them to do.

It is of no great surprise to know that the way you breathe can have a significant effect on your health and wellbeing generally. Many of us are guilty of ‘shallow breathing’ where we only partially fill the lungs with breath, limiting the amount of oxygen we get into our system. This was something Joseph Pilates (The creator of the Pilates method – contrology) was very keen to educate us about once he’d developed his ‘Lateral breathing’ technique. All forms of conscious deep breathing is beneficial for health but it should be noted that the breathing technique used in Pilates, also referred to as thoracic breathing, is different to the deep breathing exercises used for relaxation and stress management, and also that of yoga.

So if you are practicing Pilates at home or in a class, it’s definitely worth learning the correct way to Inhale & Exhale!

– This Article has been published in the March edition of Life Magazine – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Matters of the heart ❤️

Your heart is a muscle and like all other muscles in the body, it needs to be flexed to stay healthy and functional. We don’t often think of the heart in these terms, so it’s good to have a reminder now and again and since February is the month most associated with matters of the heart it seems an appropriate time. Amazingly each day your heart beats about 100,000 times and just like our limbs, facial features and other internal organs, it is unique in shape and size to us individually.

The size of the heart can change according to how you are using it. Just like your bicep, when you load the muscle repeatedly it gets bigger, and so the heart increases its capacity to house a greater volume of blood and then pump it around the body more efficiently to serve the body’s demands for oxygen and nutrients.

What’s the best way to maintain your heart health then? – Cardio – but not too much!
Yep, cardiovascular exercise in all its many forms, such as running, cycling, swimming, dancing, aerobics and everything in between, all help to keep our ticker in tip top condition. Cardiovascular exercise also increases blood vessels, giving the body more places for blood to flow and making the circulation more efficient.

One way to know how effectively your heart muscle is working is to measure your resting heart rate. Do this by finding your pulse on the wrist or neck and then count the beats whilst timing yourself for 1 minute. 60 or less = Good, 61 to 80 = Average, 81 to 100 = Highbut acceptable, 101 or more = Abnormally high and not good! So if you want to improve your RHR incorporate some regular cardiovascular exercise to your daily routine and measure again after 1 month and unlike most other tests, in this case if you have a lower score then you know you’re improving and your heart is getting fitter!

– This Article has been published in the February edition of Life Magazine – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Procrastination Nation

Warning: This article contains positive quotations, motivational cliches and a lot of exclamation marks!

Happy New Year Life magazine readers!

So what are your New Years resolutions? Same as last year? To tone up, lose weight & get fitter?…thought so!

Well let’s not ponder a minute longer, we’re really gonna do it this year – starting right now!

New Year, New You, right? Unfortunately that new you isn’t suddenly going to appear overnight, we all know it’s going to take some work. Especially if you’ve let yourself go a bit lately, but you’ve got to start somewhere, so your most important and profound change right now is simply to quit the inertia, to stop the procrastination, end the excuses and get going. The only way to heal that paralysis of motivation is to DO SOMETHING – ANYTHING!

There’s no use waiting till the middle of January or even February to begin, 2018 started on the 1st of January, so you’ve already lost one day if you’re reading this on the 2nd!
Make every day count!

You’ve probably heard the wise words of Lao Tzu saying “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” well if you haven’t been counting your steps with your Fitbit for a while and not done much in the fitness department generally then it’s time to take that first step literally, and go outside for a walk. Let the fresh air blow the cobwebs of apathy away and if it’s cold out there that’s even better as your body has to works harder to keep warm, giving you more calorie burning potential!

While you’re out there set some fitness goals, think about what you’d like to do, what you want to achieve and when you get back home start putting pen to paper. It is proven that goals are more likely to be successful if you write them down in your own handwriting. Now you know what you’ve got to do, procrastinate no longer!

– This article has been published in the January edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk