A different side to panic attacks

I had an anxiety attack. When you hear this you maybe think breathing into a paper bag and feeling like you’re having a heart attack? Thats certainly what a panic attack can be like but anxiety attacks can also be a little different.

Where a panic attack might last a few minutes anxiety attacks can last hours, and can build for even longer (even days) and because they’re less dramatic in appearance you can almost go through the day in some king of foggy trance without anyone realising, and even if you realise yourself at the time what can you do? You can’t exactly just say I need to go home can you. Most work places don’t have the policies to recognise this sort of thing or allow for staff to easily say things aren’t right and I need to take time out.

Nothing specific caused it, (it was a little ptsd trigger related I think), a general feeling of being unsettled and over sensitive to noise for a few days became feeling red hot like my skin was on fire, irritable, my heart beating faster and hearing every little noise. As the day went on I felt restless, a bit foggy and like I could cry at the drop of a hat and my skin felt itchy.

As it eased I started to feel almost hungover, tired, a bit sick. Like all my senses had been heightened and as a result I was drained. i couldn’t sleep though.

The annoying thing is I knew I didn’t feel great in the days leading up to it and I’ve had anxiety for a long time. I know why and how to help keep it h see control but sometimes you just can’t. But it’s a weird thing because it’s kind of hidden, you might think someone was a bit ‘off’ but it’s not so obvious that they’re laying there with a broken leg so you don’t know they’re struggling. They might be so distressed at that moment but just come across as having a bad day.

Anxiety Disorder is more than just being a bit of a worrier and people can have anxiety and be totally fine for long periods of time but then have an attack when it is concentratedly worse. Attacks are also more than just being short of breath like you see in films. I don’t think I knew this even when I first started being treated for depression / anxiety and I’m not everyone understands this, but the more people do the easier it might be for people to deal with it.

Advice for the gym 2022

  1. Don’t try and go from never exercising to trying to every day, you’ll feel rubbish when you don’t succeed, knackered and possibly end up injured.  Instead aim to exercise 2-3 times a week which is far more attainable long term.
  2. Don’t cut out carbs, fat, chocolate (it’s a food group) or anything else.  Moderation is key to sustainable weight loss as it’s far more sustainable long term.
  3. Drink more water.  It’s the best health tip you can get, makes you feel better and more energetic and is just good for you.
  4. Gyms aren’t scary once you get used to them, the most nerve wracking thing is walking in but once you’re there you’ll see everyone is friendly.  Get a gym induction or sign up for classes so you can learn the ropes with a gym instructor or exercise instructor, most of the time that’s included in the membership fee.
  5. You won’t get bulky lifting weights.  Like seriously, do you know how hard it is to get that ripped.  What you will get is stronger, more confident, leaner.  There’s nothing wrong with also doing some cardio but incorporating resistance training into your week will see huge benefits to your fitness.

I’m 80% Cheese

Ahhh so we hit that between Christmas and New Year time when we feel alike we consist entirely of Christmas Pudding and haven’t moved much further than from the sofa to the fridge.

It can make you feel sluggish and heavy and like you probably should do something drastic right?

This is the time when everyone tells you not to sign up for any drastic detoxes and embark on some drastic 800 calorie a day Vogue 1970s egg and wine style diet.

And yeah, don’t do that. What might make you feel a bit more virtuous for a few days is unlikely to last long, show any sustainable results and you’re likely to feel worse than you did at the start with an added layer of failed diet remorse.

There are of course better more sustainable ways to feel better in 2022 if that is your goal.

Calories deficits whilst eating normal food, moving more without punishing ridiculously dull workouts, drinking more water (you know the free stuff that comes from taps not some kind of hyped up fitness water at five quid a bottle), getting better sleep, more daylight, eating more fruit and veg. There’s plenty of habits you can incorporate which will help you feel more energetic and better in yourself without having to eat nothing dust.

The truth is these next few days aren’t necessarily the time to start anything much. You could but if you’ve still got a house full of Christmas food maybe it’s not the most realistic idea. But it is a decent time to think about goals, to make a plan so come the first week of January or so you’re ready.

Should you train over Christmas?

Should you train over Christmas?

It’s really up to you. One the one hand if you want to take a break, relax and do nothing that’s perfectly fine. Equally if sticking to your training exactly makes you feel better there’s absolutely no reason you should feel bad about still training on Christmas. You just don’t want to get to the point where you are running a half marathon on Christmas Day because you feel like you should.

This is the thing about training on holiday / over Christmas / during celebrations. There’s a difference between doing it because moving makes you feel good and doing it because not doing it will make you feel guilty. I personally will do something over Christmas, I genuinely enjoy a little 20 minute run on Christmas morning, it sets me up for the day and the fresh air and movement just makes me feel good. I’ll probably go to the gym on Boxing Day or the day after, again because it’s my favourite time to train, I’m not in a rush to get somewhere else so can really focus.

I think that’s the sign that you train in a way you like. If the thing you normally so in the gym feel like a punishment that you deserve a holiday from maybe it is time to try some new things and do something that makes you feel good, you enjoy, you actually kind of want to do, even if you occasionally have to drag yourself to it initially.

Even then if you want to take a break over the holidays do it. See training as a complimentary thing in your life.

Fitness Business Tips

Bit of a different blog today – I send out emails occasionally regarding running a fitness business – here’s today’s email about planning for the next 12 months and some things to think about …

I think for plenty of people in fitness, 2020 and 2021 have been a bit all over the place business wise.  Gym closures and changes to capacity, people’s training habits and general uncertainty have led to changes for almost all of us, some dramatic, some less so, some positive, some maybe not.

The new year is a great time to look forward with your business though, make changes, fine tune things, start new projects.

So here’s my practical tips for 2022 which I hope might help some of you as you hopefully take some time to review your plans for the next 12 months:

  • The goal of business is not to make a loss just to not pay tax.  Buying things for your business you need will of course reduce your profit thus your tax bill, but buying things for your business for the specific sake of reducing your tax bill (as many people often seem to do) is a false economy as all you’re doing is recuing your profits by buying things you don’t actually need.
  • Instead look for ways to increase your actual profits so you’re happy with your income after paying tax.  This of course is done by selling more of your product but you can also do this by reducing outgoings smartly.  For instance,  are you a group ex instructor or PT as a second job?  See if you can volunteer to be a first aider for your workplace meaning you don’t have to pay for your own First Aid training.
  • In terms of increasing your business do you have lead generators set up?  If not this is the year to sort that.  Do you have a mailing list to keep in touch with people (if they leave your gym, can’t come to class and so on)?  Do you advertise on Instagram but only to your current contacts without thinking about reaching out to your potential customers via paid or unpaid options?  Have you established enough of a brand that potential customers feel you are the fitness professional they want to trust?  Do you need advice on how to do these things?  If you do maybe this is the year to look into this, because being a great coach is only part of running a self employed business.
  • On that point though, are you still being a great coach or instructor?   Especially over the last couple of years as client’s needs and situations have changed it’s important to check that we are still offering the best service for clients.  Lead generating is important but ultimately retaining clients and getting referrals is the best way to make a decent profit, so now is a great time to check that you’re still offering what your current clients need.  Refine your products, check they are clear in what they offer and that you are delivering it.  If your clients are getting what they are paying for they will a) stay b) recommend you.
  • Develop a plan for growth.  Do you want to scale your business in the next few years?  Use 2022 to start planning how.  In the meantime though coach your clients with the model you currently have with 100% commitment.  Ambition is important but so is staying focussed on the present at the same time because we can’t build on our current foundations of clients if we provide a poor service whilst developing bigger plans in the background.
  • If you’re working and developing a business in the background accept you’re going to have to be tired for a while and put in a lot of hours to get to where you want to be.  Your ambition may be to reach that perfect work life balance but the hard truth is that whilst you work to get your business to the point where you can work the 4 day week or work anywhere in the world you will actually have less ‘you’ time.  Take care of yourself to avoid burn out but if you start providing a rubbish service because your tired after work you won’t retain clients and struggle to build up the business. For now make sure what you offer to clients is realistic for what you can do with the time you have.  A smaller client base or smaller product offered really well is going to be better for your business than an all ‘singing all dancing but never quite reaches the standards you sell it as’ one.  That way you are less likely to be miserable and more likely to grow.  

I hope these are useful when you sit down and think about your plans for the next 12 months.  I know they are all things I’m considering as I do this personally.

You can sign up to receive more tips in 2022 here… MAILING LIST SIGN UP

Black Friday

Black Friday deals. A bit like the January sales, it’s only a bargain if you actually needed (or wanted it) it anyway.

Your fitness and diet regieme is a bit like that too.

A transformational plan is only transformational if it is aligned with your goals. Your goals are only really attainable if they genuinely suit your lifestyle and personality. By that I mean if you’re trying to lose weight because you think you should be a size 10, but really are pretty happy being a size 14 other than that nagging thing in your brain that tells you there’s such a thing as your ideal weight; then you’re likely to keep tripping at every hurdle, because not sticking to your plan is always going to become more appealing whenever your tempted.

A great offer on a training plan, a magical supplement, a plan everyone else is raving about is all well and good. But if it doesn’t actually suit you. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, or isn’t designed to get the results you actually want, it’s still not worth the money.

That doesn’t mean that plan, trainer, product is rubbish. There are lots of really great products out there that just wouldn’t suit me but I’d happily recommend to others.

Just like buying a dress that really doesn’t suit you in the sale because it’s 75% off isn’t a good deal, signing up for a diet or training plan when it’s cheap isn’t going to be successful unless it actually aligns with your life, goals and is designed to do what you actually want.

Just a little something to think about as the Black Friday / January sales start to hit the inboxes.

Scales

In the last 10 years:

I’ve weighed 15 stone and been a size 20.

I’ve weighed 15 stone and been a size 14.

I’ve weighed 14 stone and been a size 12.

I’ve weighed 13 stone and been a size 12.

I’ve weighed 11 stone and been a size 12.

I’ve weighed 10 stone ad been a size 12.

Tracking your weight on the scales on a weight loss journey is one of the most frustrating things. So many factors affect how much you weigh, and your size or inches coming off won’t always be reflected in that number. It can be disheartening and doesn’t truly reflect progress.

Ways to track your progress that aren’t scales.

  1. Clothes – how your clothes are fitting is a great indication of progress.
  2. Measure yourself- Keep track on inches lost around the waist, hips, chest, arms and thighs.
  3. Take photos- to compare where you were to where you are.
  4. Track your performance in the gym – are you lifting more or running further or faster than before.

Overall, loosing some inches or getting fitter won’t necessarily seethe number on the scale go down, but it will see you feeling more confident and energetic.

I train with the goal of still being able to move about and be active when I’m older, rather than the goal of being skinny now- a number on a plastic scale doesn’t help towards that goal at the end of the day.

Good v. Evil

Good food versus bad food is a concept fully ingrained into general diet culture. The idea that eating ‘superfoods’ ‘clean foods’ ‘good foods’ like avacados, nuts, nut butters, healthy bars are good for managing your weight whereas chocolate, burgers and pizza are going to derail your diet completely.

Yet in reality for he vast majority of us calorie consumption matters more than where those calories come from.

Yes, if you eat nothing but pizza and crisps your body composition is going to differ from someone who eats the same amount of calories but in only chicken and veg, but on the basis most of us aren’t so polar in our diet that we only eat one type of food or the other, mixing the foods you like in is going to have minimal impact.

Equally though, the calories in some of these ‘good’ foods are pretty high in comparison to the calories in ‘bad foods’. That’s particularly the case with snack type foods, where say a smoothie might seem a healthier option to a fizzy drink but is going to take up far more of your daily energy intake than a zero calorie drink will.

The key here is balance and moderation, being aware that certain foods do provide your body with more nutritional benefits but equally foods which simply taste good and you like are not going to suddenly drastically change your bodies composition.

Eating a mixture of foods you like and foods that make you feel good and energetic is going to make you feel so much better and feel much more sustainable than trying to spend you whole time attaining to a holy grail of clean eating, and actually probably have a lot less impact on your physique than you think.

Try Something New

Well, I managed to not write a blog post for over a month! Completely unintended, I kept thinking ‘oh I should write soemthing’ but a mixture of being ill, tired, busy and having no idea what to write all conspired to stop me! So today I decided to follow the idea that you should juts write about what’s happened in your day.

Yesterday I taught two HIIT classes.  I really like HIIT.  It’s my own class so I can play around with the format to keep it interesting and make the focus whatever I want.  I tend to keep 80% of the class weight based with a  little cardio  and core added in. 

The thing I like about teaching HIIT the most is that, for a class that sounds and looks scary at first glance, it can actually be really inclusive.  You’re working to your maximum effort, with weights challenging to you, you want to get to that point where you need a rest- that’s not a failure.  Understanding these points as a participant can be freeing and allow you to just go for it the best you can, without fearing comparison judgement.   

There’s also something liberating and great for people’s confidence when they complete a tough class where they felt challenged.  Over the weeks I love watching people improve in technique, start to push their weight selection and best of all look so much more confident in their own ability, enjoying the feeling of being challenged and not shying away from it because they’ve gained that confidence that they can do more than they first thought.

I also love how with these classes I can go round and coach people and give them advice personal to them, making the workout suit their needs.  Classes where everything is strictly coordinated are great but sometimes that limits the time you can spend really connecting with the peole in frnt of you.

As an instructor this is one of the most rewarding parts of the job for me, seeing people feel good during and at the end of a workout, setting up frot he class with confidence because they know what they’re doing when they were really nervous the first time they attended.  This is what exercise should be about, doing things that leave you feeling positive even if they’re challneging at the time.

If you’d like to try a class but you’re worried it looks to advanced or you couldn’t keep up just go and give it a go.  There are always multiple options and modifications in any class and instructors are there to help you adapt things as needed to enjoy the class.  Often the class might look intimidating because of the loud music, fast pace and regulars knowing the normal format so looking like they know what’s coming (which is intimidating when you’re not sure) but if you relax and go with the flow you’ll find it’s nowhere near as scary as it first seemed.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Someone in class asked last night about losing weight for a wedding in a couple of months time, they wanted to lose way more than you could without going on a crash diet. I get it of course, I too always dream of quick fixes for things I want and there is so much on social media about transformation challenges where abs are popping after 90 days an the like.

Realistically though, beyond the fact that you really aren’t very likely to actually stick to anything that strict for that long without giving up (because it will likely be misery inducing), where do you go after that? If you managed to achieve drastic results with drastic measures how do you maintain those results without maintaining those measures too? And the fact is if you’ve forced yourself to train regardless every day for weeks on end chances are you’re going to want a break at the end of the ‘challenge), making maintenance doubly hard.

This is why most PTs and coaches favour the long game, the steady, the small changes and small habits. The turning no training a week into two sessions, the five takeaways a week to two takeaways a week. Slower change? Yes. Will it feel like your still not a super fitness clean living guru? Yes. But small changes are sustainable and will allow you to still have fun whilst getting results. Those results are more likely to be sustained as you will be creating lifestyle changes that actually fit in with your lifestyle as opposed to changes where you need to change your lifestyle to fit the plan. More to the point, training can be something you enjoy and feel good about rather than a hinderance to your day.

If you had the choice right now between the training genie promising they would make you magically training every day for the next three months or three times a week for the next 12 months which would you choose? The three month thing might be tempting because it would get to your goal quicker, but what about after? Whereas a year of solid regular training would really create lasting habits and results.

It can feel amazing to feel like you’ve got training nailed and you’re eating really well, but the goal of perfect leaves so much chance for slip ups which can then make you feel bad. Fitting things in around what you already do can create a much nicer mindset where stopping for a coffee and cake with a friend doesn’t equate to beating yourself up for breaking a diet.

That is a much more amazing feeling to have.