My latest Podcast is now available on Anchor, apple and Spotify.
If you’ve started working with an online trainer this year, this is for you.
My latest Podcast is now available on Anchor, apple and Spotify.
If you’ve started working with an online trainer this year, this is for you.
If you’re looking to make changes or set yourself some challenges for 2023, it isn’t enough to just want things to change, you need to work out what actions you need to take to make those changes happen.
Here’s a podcast all about goals, what, why and how…
What do you need from a PT?
In the past when face to face was really the only way people saw a PT you’d have one or more sessions a week, maybe get a plan to follow in sessions alone (or perhaps you only trained with your PT), you’d discuss nutrition perhaps with them, maybe they’d measure body fat.
Lockdown did a lot to speed up changes in the way PTs can work though, online coaching was already starting to develop but the need to communicate remotely sped up the process of people realising they didn’t need to physically see a PT in order to get results.
Of course there are still benefits of seeing a PT in person, improving forma and technique, not to mention motivation, but in reality what you can get with online training brings a whole new element into coaching.
You will have heard PTs say what you do outside your one hour of exercise a day matters more than what you do in that hour, what you eat across a week matters more than one ‘off plan’ meal and other such variations of the same. In other words, what you do consistently matters more than any on moment, however good or bad.
So here’s where online coaching can be beneficial. Unless you have a very specific goal, are very new or nervous in a gym or really really lack the motivation to go, you don’t necessarily need someone by your side as you workout. What can be more beneficial is having someone in your corner to give you the push when you can’t be bothered, aren’t quite sure, are having a wobble. To answer the random questions when they come to mind (before you forgot them by your next session), to keep you on track every day not just one hour a week.
Getting fitter, stronger, leaner, whatever goal you have, unless it’s incredibly specific. I’m telling you it’s more about your headspace and consistency than it is your rep range or workout split or exact macros.
That isn’t to say face to face PT isn’t great, but really in the current world your face to face PT should be offering the online support the rest of the week as part of your package because success comes from much more than that specific training session.
What should you look for in a PT?
There’s lots of ways you can work with a PT now: one on one, small group, online programming, apps. Beyond cost, what do you look for when deciding who to go to?
Maybe it’s location, if you want to train in person that will be a big factor; but it could also be their specialisms, experience, how fit they look, how comfortable they make you feel, the recommendation from people you trust or their client testimonials.
All of these things are valid reasons, ultimately you’re picking someone to work with based on things that are important and relevant to you is key, and here’s where I think the most important factor in looking for someone to work with comes in.
Do they get ‘you’. Specifically can they understand your pain points, identify how they affect your fitness and help you work around them?
We all have some sort of pain points, whether you think it or not, Some may be more obvious than others.
If you deal with depression or anxiety, that’s going to have an effect on how you train. Shift worker, busy mum, student; all these things can affect your training and diet.
Whether your issue is with fitting in gym sessions in the first place, struggling to focus during sessions, struggling to pluck up the courage to go to the gym or anything else in between; what you want is a PT who can understand that issue and help you with that.
Because in reality getting a gym plan is useful. Having someone tell you what to do in the gym gives you focus. A good PT will programme your sessions to incorporate progression and work specifically towards your goals.
All of that is useless though if it doesn’t work around your pain points. A good coach doesn’t just give you the right exercises for you, they understand the obstacles you face and look at how you can overcome them. That has an effect on what they have you do.
That doesn’t mean they have to have lived your experience, of course that can help but it’s not essential, but they need to be willing to listen, pin point the issues their clients faced and think about how to incorporate solutions into workouts.
If you struggle to stick to workouts or get results, a plan and a coach who can help you work around yourself and the things that keep tripping you up might make a difference. It might not make fitness feel easy but it might make a difference to your results.
It’s been quite hot the last week and this week it’s set to get hotter with weather warmings and the like. So let’s talk training in heat.
Now schools are being advised to consider letting kids run about in the sun, closing early and so on, but children are more susceptible to struggling in the heat so as adults we really don’t need to avoid training during hot weather. If you’re fit and healthy enough to train anyway the heat, whilst uncomfortable, isn’t going to suddenly make training ridiculously dangerous.
There are of course things you can do to be sensible and look after yourself, ensure you don’t overheat, avoid heat stroke, don’t get dehydrated and quite frankly make training more pleasant.
You might like to train earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler or even switch outdoor sessions to indoor where you can enjoy air conditioning making things a bit cooler. If you are outdoors running or cycling wearing lighter colours, kit with tech that helps absorb sweat might help, and of course make sure you’ve plenty of suncream on.
Hydration is key at anytime but particularly when it’s hot making sure you drink plenty of water is going to be key when exercising (and not exercising folks) to counteract any increased risk of dehydration.
You may want to moderate your expectations for sessions – if the heat affects your energy levels, accepting that you may need to reduce intensity a bit or take a few more or longer breaks will help you complete a session without being annoyed with yourself. To be fair, nows a great time to start learning this lesson if it’s something you struggle with. Our bodies will at various times just have a little less to give, and on those days, whether you be tired, hot, run down or stressed, adjusting your effort levels and intensity and accepting that some days feel better than others can be a key step to training without being yourself up.
But beyond being mindful that it might be wise to take a few precautions when you aren’t used to the heat we don’t need to avoid training or going to the gym.
In fact, for generally healthy people, it’s been shown that training in hot conditions can actually be beneficial to your fitness.
Whilst it might feel harder to train in heat training in the warm weather encourages your body to sweat more (keeping you cool), increases your blood-plasma volume (benefiting cardiovascular fitness), and lowers your core body temperature. These things are all beneficial to helping you perform better in any weather.
When you add heat to exercise, you increases the stress load on your body. This stress can play a role in current and future performance. For example, as a runner you might find you have an easier time at a race if your body is already used to adapting to and training through different conditions. More than that there can be mental benefits to training in heat, from an increased sense of achievement of getting through a tough session and also feeling more capable of getting through future challenging workouts.
So the upshot is if you would normally train don’t let the upcoming weather put you off, just take some precautions to look after yourself and stay safe.
There’s always so much hype about ‘Day 1’.
You start a diet or a gym regime and people praise the ‘Day 1’ posts. Of course Day 1 is tough, starting anything can be daunting and finding the motivation to start is a positive which should be cheered.
Day 1 is also shiny, new and novel enough to actually be easy though. Those first few meals, gym sessions, days of change have a novelty to them that can help you stick to it.
It gets tougher as the days go by. As people perhaps stop asking how it’s going, as you have long days or challenging days and want to revert back to comfortable habits to make yourself feel better, it becomes harder to stick to your new habits and actions.
It’s not just that. In the early days and weeks results will likely come quick and fast. Depending on how much weight you have to lose you might find the pounds drop off quickly at first. If you are just starting lifting or running you might find the PBs come thick and fast for a while.
As the weeks and months go on and you establish your new habits, those results will slow. This is natural, but it’s also challenging for your motivation, as it gets harder to see progress it also becomes harder to stick to things when times get tough.
Day 1 is tough, starting is tough, but I think staying with it and never having another ‘Day 1’ again is far more challenging and yet also the ultimate goal. Fitness will always be a rollercoaster of ups and downs, peaks and being less at your peak, we don’t need to have a ‘day 1’ every time we have a down though, we just need to keep going with a healthy habits.
Can Intermittent Fasting help you lose weight?
Sure, if you eat during a shorter time window every day but don’t eat dramatically more than you usually would at each meal or eat extra meals in that time period (i.e. you don’t just eat breakfast later) you will possibly lose weight. Why? Because you’re eating fewer calories. You may also find other health benefits to eating in this way and it can really suit some people’s lifestyles and mindsets. But is it a magic formula in itself? No, if it’s not for you the fact is you’re really not missing out on some great health cheat.
Can cutting out coffee help you lose weight?
Maybe, if you normally drink it with milk and (or) sugar and cut back you’ll reduce your calorie intake naturally and you may see an effect on your weight. Equally, even with black coffee you may find you sleep a bit better and as getting enough sleep is helpful when it comes to both weight loss and training you might see a small benefit there. Having said that coffee can sometimes act as an appetite suppressant so cutting back may affect your appetite a bit at first, if you’re also adding in pre workouts to replace a pre gym black coffee you might even end up consuming slightly more calories. Essentially, whilst there may be benefits they might well be minimal.
Can using an acupressure mat help you lose weight?
It is reported that Acupressure mats provide many benefits, including weight loss. The idea being the pressure points relieve stress due to the release of endorphins, lowering cortisol and this reduction in stress helps weight management. I have an acupressure mat and try to use it every night, I certainly feel I sleep better and feel more relaxed after 20 minutes laying on it, for me, whether there is much scientific research or not it makes me feel good. Does it help with weight management though? If it does it’s probably minimal and only in conjunction with eating the appropriate amount of calories. Would laying on this mat alone reduce weight? No.
Will meditation / mindfulness help you lose weight?
Mindfulness, practiced often, can be an effective method for helping change habits and ways of thinking and as such could help you lose weight by helping you adjust your habits. Again, on it’s own it will not help you lose weight, it’s a tool which can help you adjust your behaviours and the change in behaviour is what will lead to weight loss.
There are many habits, actions and behaviour changes which, can when incorporated into your life, make you feel better and assist with weight loss. Ultimately though, weight loss comes from consuming fewer calories than you burn over a consistent period of time. Sometimes on a weight loss journey, the habits we adopt across the way can feel like the magic ingredient that actually made the difference in losing weight. Perhaps they are, in the respect if they make us feel better and more positive and help us stick to a calorie deficit then they are positive weight loss tools that can also bring other benefits at the same time. It’s important to recognise that in terms of weight loss however, these things alone do not create a calorie deficit and understanding this will allow long lasting changes to occur.
Not all calories are equal
Different foods have different nutritional values, some can offer more more nutritional benefits than others, may be more or less filling, may affect your energy levels in different ways. Fundamentally though a calorie is a unit used to measure the food we eat, a unit of energy if you like and the calories in a 200 calorie salad are the same number of calories in a 200 calorie chocolate bar. In terms of energy in v energy out all calories are equal.
No carbs after 6pm (and other timing rules)
Whether it be this rule, Intermittent fasting, the 5:2 diet or any other rule that suggests when you eat will be the magic ingredient to weight loss. Whilst setting yourself eating windows may help you eat less and therefore lose weight you don’t suddenly store more fat by eating after 6pm or having breakfast.
Muscle weighs more than fat
Whilst it’s true the same volume of fat will take up more space than an equal volume of muscle (hence you can drop a dress size but remain the same weight as your body composition changes, a useful thing to remember) a pound of fat and a pound of muscle of course both weigh a pound.
Never miss a Monday
If you want to train 3 times a week why would it matter that one of those in on Monday? Whilst the concept of starting the week positively makes sense if Monday is inconvenient for you it really doesn’t matter.
Go hard or go home
Yes you want to work hard during your workouts, but life happens. Some days we are tired, have little niggles, we might be recovering from a cold. Some days we might be fatigued from previous sessions. On those days going hard could be more detrimental than positive. Listening to your body and resting, stretching or taking a de-load week when needed can help improve results more than simply pushing through.
No matter what you lift to someone out there it will be ‘so heavy’ and to someone else ‘their warm up weight’. Judging your weights in comparison to others won’t help you progress or make you feel good about yourself in the gym. Others might be lifting more of less than you but sticking to weights we personally find challenging for the rep ranges we are doing and working on progressive overload in relation to that weight range is the best way to progress.
Have you seen the latest suggestions from various Government Ministers for how people could survive the current cost of living crisis that people across the UK have been facing.
People could work more hours perhaps (because if you already work two jobs or 40 hour plus a week you have lots of extra hours to spare).
Maybe you could look for a better paid job (because we all normally try to work in the lowest possible job we can find of course).
Perhaps people could swap to supermarket’s basic brands to reduce the cost of their weekly shop (because no person on a budget has ever thought of doing that already).
The most perplexing was Bois’s flex that he was responsible for free bus travel for pensioners (because riding the bus all day means you don’t need to switch the heating on at home).
My point here isn’t that the current Government is so out of touch it’s not even funny, it’s that sometimes, even though advice may be factually correct it’s not actually very helpful to the average person. The average person who is stretched financially now is very likely to already be working as many hours at the highest pay rate as they can and probably shopping in the most economical way possible. It’s not these efforts that are the issue it’s that costs are rising higher that wages and people are feeling the squeeze on their money after bills.
The same can be said for some diet advice out there.
Think about your average magazine headline or ‘lose weight without trying’ fitness post on Instagram.
Swap sugar out for sweetener in your coffee, take the stairs instead of lift each day, increase your daily step count by 20%. Little changes like that can make a difference and help you lose weight almost without noticing, but only if you don’t already do them.
If you currently have 3 sugars in your tea that small change is going to reduce your daily calories, so is swapping from a milky coffee to a black coffee. If you don’t do much exercise upping your NEAT will help you see results. What about those people though, that already drink black coffee sans sugar, train 3-5 time a week and walk around 20,000 steps a day. It has to be acknowledged that sometimes there aren’t little easy wins out there for everyone and sometimes the changes needed to help someone see some results are a bit more complicated than anything the Tories have thus far managed to come up with for our finances.
That’s not to say that once you reach a certain point you can’t get further results of course, just that the idea of making little cut backs here and there in calories or adding in a little bit of extra exercise isn’t going to be appropriate for everyone. If you are already training every day and your NEAT is high trying to do more is possibly going to be detrimental in terms of overtraining, stress and impacting your life. If you are already in a calorie deficit very day reducing your calorie intake further is likely to be both impractical and misery inducing. At this point you need to speak with a PT or nutritionist and get an action plan that’s specific to you.
There’s lots of generic advice out there that assumes a starting point of nothing, and if you are just starting out it can be helpful, but you need to remember that not every tip and piece of advice will be beneficial or right for you. Have you tried eating less food is not going to be the advice every person looking to lose weight needs.
Last month I went to visit my friend who has always been into technology and she had recently bought a Virtual Reality headset and one of the things you can do on the headset is a virtual Les Mills Body Combat and I gave it a go.
Now it’s not doing Body Combat in the normal sense, you don’t do a full class and it’s not to the music in the traditional way and of course is largely punching as virtual reality kicking isn’t quite yet a thing.
What it is however is actually pretty addictive, once you have the headset on it feels very real and you can feel the objects coming towards you as if they were real. The classes are pretty short, the beginner / practice ones are as short as 5 -10 minutes, also the headset means your movement can feel a little clunky and you can’t really jump about. However you can really get into it and get a bit of a sweat on just because of how immersive it can feel.
Overall, with the technology as it is, it is still probably more of a novelty activity rather than a full on exercise regime, however if you aren’t currently doing that much exercise it can get you moving and is motivating enough that you might actually want to do it every day.
It is of course expensive, I’m not sure how many people at the moment could afford the headset, remotes and subscription but as the technology progresses I’m sure it will become more affordable.
In terms of Les Mills it’s clear Body Combat lends itself to the new technology although to make it more fitness and less experience both the headset would need to be lighter and they would need to work out how to incorporate more lower body into the workouts. What I’m not sure of is how they could lend the technology to the other programmes – Body Step potentially if they developed a Virtual Reality Step but that would add to people’s cost but beyond that I’m not sure. Whether that will affect Les Mills decision to continue to invest in the technology will be interesting as there is certainly potential and it would potentially encourage a whole other demographic of people to move more. That being said they have invested a lot in the Trip, which also requires a big investment by gyms so they may well decide to stay in for the long run with it.