Be Kind – but please also read this

This is a blog post written in the aftermath of the death of a British celebrity who following a couple of months of intense (not positive) press coverage took her own life.

Yesterday and this morning there has been an outpouring of posts about being kinder, saying that they are there for anyone who wants to talk and other variations of these.

One hundred percent I agree, and this post will echo much the same but I also wanted to delve a bit deeper into a couple of my own thoughts that arose from the news and subsequent comments and posts.

Be Kind –

Variations of this will appear many times over the coming days. Fact is every person no matter how nice has at some point done something not kind.

We have all at some point said something mean, taken the piss out of someone, vented about people who’ve upset us, talked about people we don’t like. We will have always seen our reasons as just at the time, probably said something or written a comment and then thought nothing more of it. We didn’t think this could have a massive impact on the other person, had we thought that most of the time we probably would have shut up. But we’re humans – it’s natural we react then think, that doesn’t make us bad. I’m not saying it’s ok not to be kind – I’m saying you can say something and then reflect and change your mind and shouldn’t be lambasted forever for your past. Because if we can’t forgive each other or ourselves for what has happened then actually we still aren’t being kind.

I can’t say I’ve never said unkind things. I can’t change that, it also means I’m not inherently unkind and doesn’t mean I can’t try and be kind. Life is complicated right.

Speak out-

Again lots of posts saying I’m here if you want to talk. This is nice. To be fair I’ve always said the same – I’m an open ear.

But actually – beyond the specific mental health days etc. are we there to listen? Have you ever said to someone to stop moaning, be more positive? Posted a ‘Positive vibes only’ quote or meme? So we’re you there for that person when they tried reaching out? Did you put that person off from even trying to reach out because they were feeling the positive vibes?

Often people who need support will struggle to reach out to start with. We need to notice more of the people around us and try and help those people if we notice a change.

I’ll be honest this week my mental health has been shocking (nothing I can’t fix I’m tired and I know how I can help myself feel better and I’ve done that this weekend) but I’ve sat at my desk at the point of tears all week – nobody noticed or if they did nobody reached out. A death of a famous person shouldn’t make you offer help. Seeing someone you see or speak to daily a bit off form should (because actually just a do you want to grab a brew or something is a better start to helping someone than a do you want to chat might be)

Nothing is ever clear cut –

It isn’t. The press published a lot of stuff, she was in the news because of a court case. The police had to investigate because they had to. She chose to be in the public eye. That made the court case more reportable. Did you have a water cooler conversation about it? You did because she was famous.

It’s not as simple as people said mean things so she took her own life. It’s a disservice to Caroline and everyone else if we simplify this. It’s awful but also how do you think the people who reported on her in the news, the CPS person who decided to prosecute her feel today? They were doing jobs, they didn’t do that knowing this would be the outcome. In condemning those people we also affect their mental health. Everything in life is a circle. Our actions affect us but also other people. That doesn’t mean doing what isn’t right for us because of how it affects others but it doesn’t mean not acknowledging that fact either.

I think it’s entirely right people mourn but we can’t put everything down to right and wrong good and bad. In no situation are we ever in one camp or the other and all sides in every story are affected in some way.

I debated writing this – I worried this post could be taken as negative to some, but isn’t that the point – your words at any time, however you mean them could upset someone else. Your well meant advice could be perceived by someone else as mean. For every person you might be able to help there will be people out there you’ve upset or hurt at some point because by the time we reach adulthood we’ve all at some point behaved in a way that wasn’t the best. If we really think about every single one of us who writes ‘be kind’ at any time about any thing could be described as a hypocrite because every single of us has at some point in our lives, not been kind.

Social media exists and could be both viewed as the cause of much upset but equally a positive force. A few years ago I couldn’t have expressed my thoughts on fitness to as many people as I can now (be clear my blog gets 50-100 reads a time I’m in no means a wide reaching writer but that’s still a lot more than I could have reached before Facebook), hence the realisation this year that I now have the tools to open discussions on topics that are traditionally less discussed. This is why I’m in the process of writing a series of blogs in conjunction with people where I hope to look at topics which affect many but are less discussed than they should be. I strongly believe talking about stuff honestly and openly can be beneficial.

This will never cancel out the bad aspects of what has, and probably will still, happen on social media but we can all move forward, learn from the (our own/other peoples) past and hopefully be more understanding and forgiving of each other and ourselves.

Slagging off Slimming World doesn’t help people

On Sunday I’ll be appearing on Ricky Long’s podcast talking about the fitness world in general.

One of the things we talk about is Slimming World, I myself did Slimming World before I became a fit pro and feel like I have a decent understanding of it from many angles because of this.

This wasn’t the focus of the podcast so I went into a lot less detail that I could have so I wanted to delve a bit deeper into a point here – it’s not enough as fitness professional to say what’s wrong with slimming clubs – we need to look at what we ourselves can do to help people who may otherwise have turned to such clubs

I did a podcast last year which you can listen to here, where I spoke about my own personal experience of Slimming World and what I think is wrong with the system.

Rather than rehashing that here I instead want to talk about something I’ve touched upon both here and in my upcoming podcast.

Slagging off Slimming World doesn’t help people.

When I needed help I went to Slimming World, I didn’t go to a PT – the idea intimidated me and didn’t feel accessible. All these perfectly nice people I know now would have intimidated me- me now would have intimidated me. I wouldn’t have gone to a fitness event or gym because I’d have felt like a fraud like I didn’t fit it.

Sliming clubs felt accessible for me. That’s why I took that route.

I eventually found training and with it learnt about nutrition and left Slimming World and am where I am now. BUT for that to happen took PTs and group ex instructors who didn’t criticise the route I’d chosen to take, they didn’t point out in distaste all the things that were wrong with Slimming World. They educated me within a framework that allowed me to see why Slimming World can work on a energy in / energy out basis and allowed me to come to the realisation that I didn’t need the club and see the faults for myself.

There weren’t Facebook groups back then for Slimming World but to be honest if there had been and some people had come into them and attacked what was, at the time, working for me I’d have probably defended Slimming World and I wouldn’t have felt like I wanted to go to those people for advice.

In short – as Fitness professionals I think we need to find a balance between exposing myths and educating people without making them feel stupid for trying to reach their goals. How I see this…

That PT thinks everything about Slimming World is stupid

I do Slimming World

So they must think I’m stupid

I’m not going to them to help

In attempting to help there’s a real danger we actually alienate without meaning to.

Now actually Slimming World can be successful in that it creates habits that lead to a calorie deficit. It’s not unsafe or faddy as diets go.

It doesn’t educate.

But you know what – I played rugby for a while, no idea of the rules I just ran at people.

Would I have been a better player if I knew more – yes. Did I still play? Yes.

I honestly don’t know how the best way to go about it is, but I feel like supporting and understanding peoples choices creates an environment of trust that might convince people away from Slimming World and into training and understanding basic nutrition more than simply laughing at the notion of syns, body magic and star weeks ever will.

Glasgow to Manchester (Kind Of)

Over the weekend I traveled to Glasgow where I was working on a fitness seminar called Jump Live, it was all about training, nutrition and mindset.  On Sunday myself and two other attendees (Ellen and Ellie) traveled back during Storm Ciara.

When we left the hotel we were a bit apprehensive about the weather but we’d checked and everything looked ok for travel so we went for lunch before our 3 pm train.  When we got to the station at 1.30 pm it became apparent everything was not ok.

After being told we’d probably need to find a hotel for the night we were then advised to try and travel around the flooded areas to get back to Manchester.

So off we set to Edinburgh, to catch a train to York.  Once on this train we discovered it was going to take around 5 hours (speed limits), however when we reached Newcastle the train was cancelled and we had to alight and catch another train to York.  At York our train to Manchester was cancelled as it pulled into the station so we made our way to Leeds where we finally managed to get a train going to Manchester. Ten hours after we set off we arrived in Manchester and turned to Uber to get home!

We went through a lot of emotions over those ten hours of travel and on reflection learnt a lot of things which related right back to the seminar we’d been at on Saturday.  Here’s my reflections on the longest train journey I think I’ve ever done (and I’ve inter railed round Europe).

  • Having a support network makes things easier

We said several times over the journey that if any of us had been in this situation alone we’d have probably just sat and cried.  What actually happened is we all kept pretty positive in the face of so many twists and turns and obstructions and stressful situations, because we had the support of each other and could keep each others spirits up and we knew that we weren’t alone.  We actually made a good team and I know that in the future we could call on each other for support.

  • Sometimes you have to rely on your gut and take risks

We had minutes at times to decide what to do- give up travelling here and look for a hotel, get this train to Leeds or wait for the next train to Manchester, go to this platform or that, stop to use the loo or hope there’s one on the next train.  We worked on the basis of general consensus and gut feeling and made choices that went against what people messaging us were advising at times.  In the end it worked out but at every choice we agreed if it didn’t we knew we’d made the best choice for us at the time so were fine with the consequences,

  • You can plan all your like but you need to be able to be flexible     

Every train we got on we had a plan of our next move, but delays and cancellations meant those goal posts moved constantly.  We realised that whilst having that plan was important, being able to react to the changes and not get stressed when we had to change those plans was vital if we were to remain sane.

  • There’s no need to rush things

Every time we reached a station we rushed to get to the next platform – and you know what, every train was late.  We could have walked, could have gone to the loo or the shop and made our next journey more comfortable.  Really we knew this at the time.  We rushed because we were worried we’d miss the trains but in hindsight we realised we were rushing against our own self imposed time limits that we actually knew weren’t real.

  • Be kind

The staff must have had a horrible day.  It was not their fault but they had to deal with so many stressed out people.  We encountered conductors and drivers and station staff who had done ridiculously long shifts in conditions just as tough (probably tougher) than ours.  None of them snapped or complained, some of them thanked customers for their patience, all of them went out of their way to help each customer get to where they needed to.  Passengers offered each other food and passed on information they knew.  I didn’t see anybody shout or shove at anyone in an attempt to get on a train or anyone complain about standing for hours.  People messaged saying if the roads had been safer (they really weren’t) that they’d come and pick us up.  Being kind to one another makes things easier.

  • Say thank you

On that note, I made an effort to say thank you.  I tweeted the train companies we had interacted with and praised their staff, i randomly managed to thank one conductor who happened to be in a Facebook group I’m in.  When people help you, appreciation can mean a lot to them and takes very little effort to show.

  • Laughing makes things better

At times we wanted to cry- instead we laughed.  In fact I’ve not laughed so much in ages.  It made things better, just seeing the funny side of the situation.

  • Your mum will always worry

I probably don’t need to explain this universal truth – they can’t help it and it’s nice!

  • You can use stress to your advantage

We noticed we were full of energy right up until we got on the last train.  As soon as we realised we would make it home our bodies just relaxed and we realised how tired we were.  A little bit of stress can keep you moving and help you be decisive in your decision making- it’s not always a bad thing.

  • Work with what you have

We had gin.  That was it.  A sandwich or other type of meal would have been more nutritious but we didn’t have any so we consumed what we did have and didn’t stress too much about that.  There will always be ideals- ideally I will train, ideally I’ll eat this but when that can’t happen worrying that it can’t won’t help.  Look at what you can do and work the best you can in the parameters available.

  • Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react 

This was said on Saturday and when we were sat on a train to Edinburgh immediately came to mind.  It’s so true.  Sunday on paper was so stressful.  Sunday in reality was tiring but quite funny, a story to tell, a great opportunity to get to know two people better, we were safe, we got home eventually and how we approached it mattered more than what actually happened,

  • Gin fixes quite a few problems

Like really, it just does.

Nutrition 101

This is a cut and paste from an email I received today from a PT (Ricky Long – check him out on Instagram @rickylong42) …


17 ways to lose body fat

– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend
– Eat less calories than you expend

You can create this calorie deficit in 2 ways.
– Food intake decreasing. Eat less mate.
– Exercise activity increase. Move more mate.

There are 1000’s of different training methods and dietary choices you can use to follow the above two principles.

The principle will not change

Calorie Deficit

How you achieve the deficit is where you have choice for your lifestyle.

Make it achievable

Make it safe. One method I champion to keep within calorie goals:

The original Handjob diet, by Ricky Long. 

I get emails regularly around the counting of macros.
– You do not need to count macros
– It’s a very accurate way of measuring your food
– It’s also time consuming and could potentially ruin your enjoyment of food.
– You can instead use the Hand Job Method measurement scale. Something I made up 5 years ago and named 6 months ago.
– Eat 1 handful protein
– Eat 2 handfuls veg
– Make the veg have 2 colours.
– Do this 3 times day
– One of those times add in a big carb, like rice, pasta, bread. Again just one handful
– If you feel tired you’ve eaten too much
– If you feel hungry you haven’t eaten enough
– Hand Job Diet established 2018, creator and author Ricky Long WTG – Weeker Trainer Guy


I have a lot of conversations with people about food.

So often people over concern themselves with macro splits, shakes and supplements, meal timings, how certain combinations of foods might affect the metabolism or hormones.  They often suspect the reason they can’t change their body composition is that they haven’t quite nailed one or more of these.

What they haven’t sorted is the bottom of the nutrition pyramid – Energy in v Energy out and they are either eating too much or too little in comparison to what they expend.

If you are an elite athlete, training for a comp or have very specific nutrition needs you may well need to concern yourself with more very precise details relating to your nutrition.

In actual reality for the majority of us who just want to be a bit smaller or even a bit bigger than we are you really just need to focus on the amount of calories you eat and that will largely do the job.

If you feel rubbish when you eat more carbs and less fat adjust that, if you feel good on a higher amount of protein do that, if you stay within your calorie goal the reality is for the vast majority of us the actual split isn’t too important (well eating enough protein is important – aim for 1-2g per kg of weight, the more active you are the closer to 2g you want to get, but not hitting this number in itself will not affect weight loss or gain).  If some protein shakes help you hit you calorie goal have them, if being Vegan, vegetarian, Intermittent fasting suit your life and help you hit your calorie goal then do them.

Essentially I’m saying as humans we have a tendency to assume our pain points (in this case nutrition and weight wise) must require very complicated solutions, when often the issue is we don’t do the basics very well and instead focus on the things that don’t really matter.

I’m not saying you will never want to look at the finer details in your diet.  I am saying that until you master the basics there just isn’t much point.  I’m also saying that unless you really want to spend your whole time calculating macro splits you really probably don’t need to.

Today

Today I am sticking to one of my 2020 goals and doing nothing.

It may sound odd to say that but at the start of the year I had a Saturday when my classes hadn’t started back yet and my plans were cancelled last minute so I had a random day off with nothing planned.  As in I didn’t need to set an alarm, get out of my pajamas unless I actually wanted to, where I could sit and watch TV aimlessly all day.  I realised I needed it.  I have a lot of roles and as such am on the go a lot, I start early and finish late most days.  I look after myself and generally feel fine for the business – but taking a day off made me realise how beneficial that rest was.  I made a commitment at that point to take one full day off a month, to guard that day with my life against anything.

I’ve had a stupidly busy January, to the point where the last week or so I’ve felt exhausted and actually achy and crap.  My February is even busier, I’ve lots of exciting things coming up but that also means it will be non stop.  I need today.

Goals can be personal to you and won’t always be what people expect.  Going hard is good but knowing when to take a pit stop is equally as important.