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.

A slimming club spokesperson and 75 PTs

“I don’t trust them. I don’t think they want me to lose weight quickly. I realised, Oh, you’re paid by the hour. Of course you don’t want me to shift this quickly.”

This is a quote from James Corden, who is currently a spokesperson for Weight Watchers.

Now many fitness professionals doubtlessly found this slightly ironic. After all Weight Watchers entire business model would flounder if it actually educated people on how to lose weight rather than hiding behind points based systems.

But beyond the irony of him promoting one weight loss method for which the exact same thing could be said let’s look for a moment at the myth that it is not in the interest of a PT to help you reach your goal.

I suspect this may be something many people have though over the years, and on the face of it it makes sense as to why. Client wants to lose 2 stone, client sees PT, client loses 2 stone, client no longer needs PT, PT no longer gets paid. Why would the PT want to get the client results in 2 months if they could keep them as a client for a year or more?

Doctors don’t see healthy people, so when you go to the doctors they don’t try to make you better because if they did they’d be out of work. They give you medicine that might help a bit but won’t actually solve the problem.

Mechanics need cars to fix to earn money, so when you visit a mechanic they will always leave one thing not quite working so you have to go back to them again soon.

Now obviously those things don’t happen. If your doctor was continuously not providing patients with the best advice eventually there would be investigations due to complaints. If a mechanic gained a reputation as never fully fixing cars people would go elsewhere.

So why do people think it would be any different with a PT?

PTs gain clients by word of mouth, reputation, recommendation. If you do not show integrity and true care you may get some clients but you will struggle to maintain a healthy business. It’s quite the opposite of Corden’s statement – a successful PT wants to get people the results they desire. It will increase client demand and provide a satisfied customer, and most fitness professionals really do care about people – it’s a people person business.

Beyond this, there is the assumption that everyone who has a PT wants to lose weight. People see PTs for all manner of things. Some do have specific goals – be their weight loss, weight gain, training for an event. Once that goal is reached they will branch out alone. PTs are ok with that, getting that person to that goal shows they are good at their job and will help attract new customers. But beyond that there may be a time again that that person will again need assistance. Will they return to you if you got them great results last time – damn right, so why wouldn’t you want to get them results. Equally though, if we can provide enough knowledge that you can make it on your own and not need us, great, we’ve done our jobs. In this respect it is Weight Watchers not PTs that are guilty of what Corden is claiming.

More than that, some people start with a PT to reach a specific goal and then get new goals on the way, they realise they like having the accountability or need the accountability and so keep training with us beyond reaching that initial goal. Again, helping someone get what they want is not automatically stopping them from being your client. The mindset that it is is the mindset of someone with a greedy, non customer based business model and it is interesting that a spokesperson for a slimming club might have that cynical view.

Finally, apparently Corden “burned through” 75 PTs before trying Weight Watchers. now I’m not saying there are no bad PTs, of course there are. But I’m guessing that if that is not an exaggeration that the PTs were not the problem here. If 75 people have all acted roughly the same way, said the same sort of things, maybe it’s you not liking what you are hearing, rather than them being in the wrong. Maybe those 75 PTs were encouraging slow and steady weight loss, not because they wanted more of your money, but because that would be more sustainable and better for you in the long run. Maybe instead of a slimming company which tends to trade on hooking people in with big first week losses, they were trying to get you to alter your mindset and take into account improvements to health, strength, fitness, body shape changes and not simply the number on the scale (if you’ve ever been to a slimming club you’ll know it’s standard to try and have a big poo before weigh in).

“I don’t trust them. I don’t think they want me to lose weight quickly. I realised, Oh, you’re paid by the hour. Of course you don’t want me to shift this quickly.” Said the Weight Watchers spokeperson.

Weight Watchers. The company which takes money off people weekly to be weighed in front of people and only makes money until you reach your target weight.

I love irony.

Need a nudge getting ready to go back to the gym?

Last week my friend launched a short online course to help group exercise instructors and participants feel good about the lifting of lockdown and the return to the gym / classes.

He’s a coach and trainer who knows Group Exercise and it’s demands well.

The course is free!

What you’ll get:

  • Jump Pyramids of Priority
  • Jump 4.2 Method
  • Access to Jump Facebook Group

To get involved and start now head here:

This is perfect for you if you need a bit of a nudge to get you ready for the gyms opening again in April.

Easter Eggs

Obligatory Easter post about eating at Easter.

Eat all the Ester Eggs, and don’t feel guilty etc. etc.

But what if you do feel guilty? Even if you know you shouldn’t, sometimes your emotions can over rule your brain on matters such as food.

If that is the case it can take a long time and a lot of work on your mindset to be able to eat freely and not feel the emotions that most of us attach to certain foods, a few posts of blogs or your PT telling you not to feel guilty for eating lots of chocolate at Easter won’t necessarily help.

So if you know that you want the Eggs but also know you’ll likely feel some guilt afterwards think about rationing the chocolate you may have amassed. It doesn’t all need to be eaten today or this weekend and you might find you feel mentally better if you eat it in more controlled amounts over a longer time.

That’s not to say you have to do that or should feel guilty if you don’t. But in the movement to remove guilt associated from food (all a good thing) it can be easy to forget that emotions and habits can be engrained and difficult to just shake off or change. If that is the case a strategy to allow you to enjoy your Easter Eggs without the feelings of guilt after might work better for you than just saying f**k it – even if that’s what you feel like you should be able to say.

Calories Counting v Intuitive Eating

I’ve written previously about intuitive eating and how I feel like you cannot eat intuitively until you understand calorie tracking. Two ever so opposite end of the scale things but they kind of work together.

I get why people don’t necessarily want to track calories. I get that for some people it could get a bit obsessive. I get that you don’t just want to make food about numbers. I get that it’s time consuming and dull. I get that there’s so much more to life than how many calories you eat and constantly thinking about what you have left in your calorie bank.

But. But but but.

If you want to lose weight… or gain weight for that matter… you have to be eating the right amount of calories compared to how many calories you expend each day / each week.

Now you might be someone who is happy with their weight. If that’s the case you probably can just eat intuitively, because what you are eating right now is keeping you where you want to be. This post is not for you!

If you want to change your weight, up or down, that indicates that what you currently eat right now either provides you with too many (if you want to lose) or not enough (if you want to gain) calories. Before you say it, yes maybe you are that rare person who is struggling because of a condition and the reason is far more complex, but harsh truth – the majority of us are not that person, the majority of us just aren’t eating the right amount for our goals.

So if you aren’t eating the right number of calories right now you can’t eat intuitively. Because to do something intuitively requires knowledge of how to do it in the first place. At work, do you do tasks you’ve done many times before instinctively, without thought- looking at a problem and knowing the issue and solution before you’ve really even thought about it? Can you answer the question before it’s even been asked because you know what they’ll ask because it’s what everyone always asks? Could you do that on your first week of the job? Of course not. You learnt your job and over time through doing your actions became more instinctive, more confident.

Same with calories. You need to understand how much of the type of foods you eat is right for you to reach your goal. To do this you need to track. The more you learn about this as you track the less you need to rely on tracking, because you can learn to start reading you own body and hunger and getting used to the right kind of portion sizes for you and your goals.

So over time you can track less, maybe just checking in occasionally to check your still in the right zone, or using it as a refocus if you’ve found yourself going a bit off track. You don’t have to commit to a lifetime of strict tracking everything that passes your lips. But to get a handle on where you are at and work out where you need to be you do need to be aware of what you are really eating, and tracking is really the only way.

If you don’t want to track you don’t have to of course, but if you’re frustrated you aren’t reaching you goals and aren’t tracking you may want to reconsider because whether you track or eat intuitively calories do count.

Men should have a 6pm curfew

“mmm so hot nearly broke my dick looking at u xx”.

Just a random message from a stranger on Facebook Messenger the other day. I mean at least he put a couple of kisses at the end of it right? At least he didn’t actually send me a photo of his dick. But you know what if women kept every unsolicited photo of a stranger’s penis they had ever sent many of us would look like we had some kind of porn addiction to anyone who viewed our camera albums.

These kind of messages and photos get received so often most of the time women just delete them without comment. We haven’t engaged in conversation with the sender or indicated we enjoy receiving such messages, yet some men feel that it is their right to be able to expose themselves or send lewd messages to women they don’t know.

This attitude has been seen in multiple stories in the news, on Social Media and in discussions between friends in the last week. Women are used to be shouted at or commented at on busy streets, in the day, with other people around. The fact that men can do this and know that they are unlikely to be called out by those around them allows them to do it again and again with confidence and means that most women learn, at an early age, to brush these comments and incidents aside as if they are nothing.

All women know the dangers of walking at home alone at night, I only run at night with my friends and on well lit streets, we all text one another when we get home at night to confirm we are safe. We get taught at an early age about sticking to busy roads, staying alert, not leaving drinks unattended in bars. Women grow up essentially being conditioned to avoid attack yet at the same time are expected to brush off unwanted comments or attention because it’s just ‘a bit of fun’. The fact that men (strangers) have exposed themselves to me in a busy street whilst I was on my way to work, slapped my bum as they walked past, felt it ok to make comments about what they’d like to do to me or blatantly look down my top telling me they are doing so, and the fact that a couple of hours after the event they’d slipped my mind as they seem so normal shows that there are plenty of men out there that think that treating women like this is ok and that are confident they won’t suffer any consequences.

Suggesting that Sarah should not have walked home alone at night, when women routinely and obviously get harassed every day in plain sight with bystanders saying nothing, is insulting (to her, her family, women in general). Women face potential harassment and worse at all points of the day, whatever they are wearing, whether they do ‘all the right things’. Sarah did ‘all the right things’, she stuck to busy roads, phoned her partner, was wearing bright clothes. But again the people saying she shouldn’t have walked home at night are doing what so often happens when women get attacked or accosted. Blaming the woman for doing the wrong thing (i.e. not going out of their way to avoid getting attacked) rather than the attacker for attacking them. We should not dare live our life freely, unless we accept that in doing so we may be attacked.

Is it education that we need? I don’t know. Because it isn’t all men, of course it isn’t. Maybe men could do more at calling their mates out if they see them acting inappropriately, but actually, I know an awful lot of men that do call out inappropriate behaviour, who don’t just stand by. Stopping shaming or blaming women would help though, in the media, and in general perceptions throughout society. Women should be able to go places and wear what they want without being accused of making themselves open to attack. I really don’t like the socks and sliders look – does that mean I can use this as an excuse for attacking someone? Extreme? Not when you think how many people think a women in a revealing outfit was asking to be raped. Instead we need to focus on the people who attack women, not give them excuses but treat them for what they are , criminals. Beyond that we should take the every day harassment women just accept as ‘nothing’ more seriously, because if we take this more seriously it might be a start to changing people’s perceptions of how people think women should be treated.

And for the record, the woman in the news suggesting men should have a 6 pm curfew. I didn’t actually pay much attention to this story so don’t really know the background, but maybe, just maybe, she was making the point that women have a kind of curfew. Once it gets dark we need to be careful about going out alone, where we go, what we wear. It’s not a legal curfew or an official one, but one which we get taught to observe as soon as we are old enough to go out alone.

Female Fitness on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, so I thought a post focusing on female fitness would be appropriate.

With periods and child birth and the menopause amongst other things affecting a woman’s body over her lifetime, women face different challenges to men when it comes to training, fitness and weight gain / loss. Thankfully more fitness professionals are starting to use their knowledge on these factors to help women achieve better results. By tailoring training and diet around a female’s menstrual cycle for instance a PT can not only help their client improve their results but also feel better in themselves, more energetic and less like they are failing during those weeks where they just don’t have the energy to hit the big lifts.

One such coach and nutritionist is Chris Ward. I’ve known Chris for around four year now, and in that time he’s qualified as a nutrition coach and delved deep into female fitness. The podcast below discuses some of the struggles females can go through on a monthly basis, including the menstrual cycle, hormones and PCOS and is a great listen for any female looking to greater understand how these things can affect our training.

Me: The Running Edition

I miss the gym. For me the gym is what makes training. I know there are people that always loved home training and many more have found they love it too during the last twelve months but for me there is nothing that makes me work as hard as doing my workout in a different environment.

When I go to the gym I go though the process of getting gym kit on, putting trainers on, walking to the gym, putting my stuff in a locker. That process mentally puts me in the mindset that I’m about to train and helps me get moving. It’s an environment where training is the only option whilst there. When I’m at home I get distracted, I see where I need to dust or hover and my workouts are never as intense. I think that’s why I like running outdoors, it again requires leaving the house and being outside with a purpose, to move, to get from A to B.

That’s why I’ve struggled with training in lockdown. The not feeling the same as I would training in a gym means I don’t feel the same motivation. The training because I feel I need to when I don’t really want to is not something I want. But, as I said previously, I want to get moving more again, for my own fitness, some weight loss and because quite frankly I’m stiff as a board. So I’ve been running lots more. As running is one of the only forms of exercise I really enjoy I can still easily do that seemed the best bet.

This month so far I’ve run around 47 miles. I only need to do another 9 to hit my February virtual running challenge and I’m making a decent dent into the Land End to John O Groats challenge too. One of the best things about running outdoors means I can also run with someone and Hollie has been my running buddie. A bundle on energy and knowing that I haven’t been feeling great about my fitness she’s been a great motivator and encouragement and really made me feel better about my running. That I think is the key at the moment, finding the thing that you want to do and having the accountability, be it to a challenge or a person (or both) to keep you going.

Here’s a little video of our 9 mile run this week which shows why I’ve enjoyed my runs!

Hollie’s video of our 9 mile run (that I thought was 6 miles!)