One size fits all…….NOT!

Healthy lifestyle concept, Diet and fitness  - stock photo

I love to read and research and over the last few months I have been reading voraciously (I love that word!) about diet, health and fitness and have begun to develop my own really strong opinions about what makes a good, healthy diet and about the shocking state of the foods we routinely feed our families, old and young.

Working with clients has made me think again about the advice I give and how my own view on what is healthy colours what I tell clients, so it was interesting to read this article Why One-Size-Fits-All Diets Do Not Work » Metabolic Effect Blog. The whole concept of  ”one size fits all” is something I feel really strongly about especially in relation to health and fitness; one size fits all diet plans, one size fits all exercise plans or one size fits all resistance machines – they all assume everyone has the same range of movement, is the same size, has the same needs and the same goals and we all know that that simply isn’t true. Continue reading

Female trainers are better than men….

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I am quite picky about which research pieces I read or recommend but Jonathan Goodman is one I have liked for some time so when I saw this a while back I thought I should post it here –  “Why its harder for women personal Trainers”

Trying to leave aside my bias (I am female and a personal trainer!) I am curious about the idea of sexism in the role cos I sort of assumed that being a female in a largely male environment but with a large number of female clients, it would be to be advantage. I still maintain that there are large numbers of women who would prefer to train with a woman, someone who understands what she is going through and how she feels and someone who she can discuss her issues with, without feeling self conscious or embarrassed - I trained with my male  trainer for  over a year and there were many things I don’t tell him but I know I would have shared with a woman, it’s just what we do!

Reading the article I find the idea that a man understands what a woman is going through (hello, seriously?) with weight loss etc but a woman cannot understand the concept of ‘bulking up’ to be sexist in the extreme – yes there are good guys out there – some of them are even trainers!- who are empathetic and learn from every client and never presume.  But, we all know these are a pretty rare phenomenon in any walk of life and if you add in the perceived macho culture of the gym and they are an endangered species! Why is it a male trainer can presume to understand a woman’s point of view but a woman cannot understand a man?  That bit just baffled me!

Two young sporty women run on machine in the gym centre - stock photo

Women have a hard enough time of it in the gym as it is and unfortunately, quite often its our own fault.  we judge other women, pass comments, take bitchy glances and don’t hesitate to tell our girlfriends all about it.  We stick to the cardio area never venturing out from the safety  of the treadmill or cross trainer too scared to cross the gym floor and pick up a weight.

Why?  What is so daunting about lifting a few dumbbells?  Part of it I think is that men have claimed that area as their own and in any large shiny corporate gym the area is monopolised by men posing and outdoing each other trying to lift heavy, often with appalling form. I was at a new expensive London gym at the weekend and the weight area was full of pumped up guys whilst the  cardio suite was full of tiny gym bunnies, looking pink and fluffy.  How can we ever feel at home lifting weights when we continually perpetuate the myths that that is how girls look and whilst we still cling onto the belief that lifting weights will get you big – don’t we know enough to make sure our friends know what utter nonsense that is by now?

Women will always have a harder time as personal trainers until they respect themselves and offer a professional service that doesn’t involve flirting, showing off their boobs or basically using sex as a way to get more clients – and that is no different to every other industry. For years I worked in construction and was used to being on sites full of guys who werent used to having women around, let alone having a woman boss – I was good at my job, professional but I still wore a skirt and heels.  I wasnt just given respect I had to earn it and that is no different with fitness

If women want to be treated the same as men they have to stop playing at being trainers and stop with the ‘im doing this until I get a better job/career/finish college’ after all if I was a trainer male or female and was working full-time alongside someone like that I was be more than a little unhappy – why should I lose out on clients cos he/she wants to work for a few months?

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However, there are so many gyms etc owned operated or managed by men who DO only see men as personal trainers and who fail to capitalise on the benefits of employing a female trainer – walk into any gym run by men or where there are only male PTs and you will see a list of things that could be changed but that completely escape most mens attention from the soap in the bathrooms to the smells, the music, the magazines, the macho attitude that pervades the whole environment.

Until women start coming out from the shadows and owning or operating their own gyms and,more importantly start shouting about proper fitness including lifting weights they will always be in the background and I for one, never liked it there!

http://www.jonathangoodman.ca/why-its-harder-for-women-personal-trainers/

How do we make exercise fun?

An attractive young and athletic girl using training ropes in a gym. - stock photoIn my post the other day I talked about the concept of movement, fitness and play from the Exuberant Animal and since then I have read more on this subject from people such Mark’s Daily Apple.  The more I read, the more I feel that that is exactly what is missing from the fitness world, FUN.

But the question is, if we accept that some (or all) of the primal fitness movement to be correct how do we convince the sceptical general public that there is another way to get fit rather than at some nice shiny gym full of treadmills?  And when its hard enough to get people off their armchairs and outside into the real world – let alone actually to do anything – how do we persuade them to go climb a tree?

I don’t claim to have the answers nor am I a lone voice but I do believe that there is more to fitness than cross trainers, weight racks and corporate spaces.  We have all heard of functional fitness and for most people it what we all hope we are doing when we are working out but how representative is that barbell squat – how often do you actually do that in your real life?  Perhaps the nearest thing to a proper lift is as a parent when you have to lift your tired toddler from the floor up to chest height – now THAT is a proper everyday task that represents functional fitness and can be mirrored with weight.

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Fitness shouldn’t just be about grunting, sweating, hard work and aching muscles, no matter what we are trying to achieve.  Fitness should be about doing things because they feel good, laughing so much it hurts, pushing yourself to the next level, gaining confidence from trying things you never thought you could do, learning what you are capable of, challenging your body and most of all challenging your mind.

The more I look into this the more I want it to be a part of my life and I truly am your archetypal scardy cat who never did gym at school, was scared of heights and who hated any kind of organised sport – I can sort of remember doing stuff when I was young but it was never just for the hell of it, it was always cos I had to and that really isn’t the same thing! Getting out of the gym and doing something silly and fun is just so liberating – from learning how to a handstand (never could do them, they always scared me!), doing an assault course to climbing the high-wires course.

Beautiful young woman jumping on  a green meadow with a colored tissue - stock photoWe should all try and add  jumps, squats, climbing, throwing, running, balancing whatever you can think of into your routines; you need to catch yourself thinking “god you look stupid!” and still do it, you should laugh at the complete absurdity of it all, finishing a session not just tired, but tired, exhilarated, emotional, happy and totally high at what you did.  I want to make my fitness fun and that, after all, should be what we are all aiming for!

 

Healthy eating and information overload!

Grilled Salmon with Vegetables, Eggs and Sour Cream Sauce - stock photoI’ve been thinking more and more lately about healthy eating, diets and weight loss, the information overload we are all exposed to and the continual exploitation by the media of people’s worries, fears and insecurities.

Watching a late night repeat of a Biggest Loser winner who had put most of his weight back on and has now lost it again reminded me of all the things I  dislike so intensely about that programme and others in a similar vein (the USA version of Obese a Year to Save my Life being another), namely that anyone can lose weight in a severely restricted, controlled environment – in fact it would be hard NOT to lose weight when you have to completely suspend your real life and your decisions about food and exercise are completely taken away from you.  The hard part is always losing weight or maintaining the loss whilst living a normal life, making everyday family decisions over food and dealing with normal life stress.

Continue reading

Positivity and motivation

Vintage metal sign - Everything is going to be ok - Vector EPS10. Grunge effects can be easily removed for a brand new, clean sign. - stock vectorI am a massive fan of NLP and a while back I received this from the fantastic Bernardo at  NLP Life Training and I thought I should share it:

1.) When you wake up in the morning, open your eyes and ask yourself how you are going to have a good day today. And make sure you give yourself an answer!

2.) Say ”hello” to someone you don’t know and be kind to them. If they smile back, you’ve shared a little bit of humanity. If not … well, at least you gave them a chance!

3.) Treat yourself to a lovely lunch … and invite a friend you haven’t seen for ages to join you. Friendship is one of the most important things in life!

4.) Take 5 minutes to write down all the things that are wonderful about your life. Make this clear and stated in the positive. “Not having money problems” is a negative. “Being free of debt” is a positive.

5.) Give each thing on your list a big “thank you!”. Gratitude is a way of showing you’re doing things right – and making sure that it keeps coming your way.

6.) Take another 5 minutes to write another list of those things that would make your life even more wonderful. Again, make them positive.

7.) Think about ways you might get to those things. Allow your imagination to go for it. And break down the steps along the way!

8.) Take a few moments to remember events that have really made you laugh. Past good times hold the secret to future good times.

9.) Consider how you’re going to have a good laugh in the future – and make plans to start going for it, now. Making plans gives you a direction.

10.) Invite a friend to go along to something with you: a show, a movie, a new shopping centre, an art gallery or a trip to a fairground. Whatever it is, make it fun! An expectation of enjoyment will lift your mood.

11.) Take time to think about the people who really matter to you. Make sure they know it! Friendships require nurturing … be the gardener of your soul.

12.) When you go to bed, take some time to imagine what amazingly good things you can do tomorrow. And expect them to happen!

Think positive, do not negative, colorful words  on blackboard - stock photo

Play as exercise…..

….or exercise as play?

A while back I was introduced to the book The Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich and whilst initially I wasn’t sure now I completely love it and would recommend it to everyone who wants to change their life and their world.

The concept is simple and straight forward and like most pieces of good advice you recognise instantly where it is coming from; that movement, exercise, physicality should be above all else, fun and should reflect not the constraints of the gym (cardio machines, resistance machines etc) but the actions and functions our bodies were designed to do.

In our modern society we have adopted too much of a ‘one size fits all’ mentality and as such our media promotes the image that there is only one way to get fit – by going to the gym.  So we trot along to our local facility and if we are really (un)lucky we get a trainer who inducts us into the bewildering range of torture-like fixed path resistance machines with an emphasis on getting loads of cardio done (for women) and heavy weights (for men).

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So our gyms are full of  ranks of treadmills and cross-trainers occupied by women doing endless hours of cardio and never lifting weights despite the health advantages and the weight rooms are full of pumped up guys determined to show how macho they are by how much they can bench press but all the time not using proper form – it’s all about how you look when you lift the weight not whether you are doing it properly.  If we are lucky some of these people will last more than a few weeks or months and some of them, if we are REALLY lucky, will get interested enough to understand that there is another way to improve your fitness.

Check out the video below

Yes, its different to what we all do every day at the gym, yes its odd, a bit scary and a bit “omg I can’t do that” combined with “just how silly would I look” but the one thing it is, is free, spontaneous and functional.  It comprises the sort of movements we either all do or need to do and whilst I cannot hold my hand up and say “yes this is what I do, we should all embrace it” I believe it has some interesting ideas we could and should incorporate into our daily workouts.

And above all it speaks to me that we should all embrace the little bit scary, the outside of our comfort zone activities every now and again.  If we don’t push ourselves and try new things, how do we know just how much we can do?  Its only by doing that we can truly know how great we are.

Be inspired, embrace the change……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H_GA9JSrAg8

For the love of dogs!

IMG-20140401-00140This has nothing to do with health, fitness, dietmotivation or rebooting my life…..its just me saying I love my little doggies!

Only been with us about ten days now and I have fallen completely in love with both of them (I know, the kids give me that look as well!).  Seeing their little personalities come out a bit more every day is a joy and it reminds me a lot of when the children were small and every day was full of something new to explore.

Lily is just a big teddy bear, full of cuddles and affection to absolutely anyone; a real piggy begging for scraps of food but all scared when we go for a walk in the woods and she can’t see down the hill or round the corner.  Then her bravado slips and she lays down, refusing to budge and letting out these little whimpers – I have to pick her up and carry her until she can see its safe! We go for these long walks and she starts off running ahead with JoJo and keeping up with her but by the end of the walk she is stuck to my side trotting next to me and getting slower and slower – if its too long a walk, she just lays down and has a rest.

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JoJo is a different kettle of fish altogether.  With me she is playful, cheeky, eager to eat her food, go or walks and play in the garden with her ball.  Outside or with other people its a different character that emerges.  She is terrified of some men; some she backs away from but comes round in about ten mins but with others she is petrified for hours. It breaks my heart to see her flinch when someone stands up or raises their voice (not to her just in general).

The two of them play with their ball for hours in the garden chasing each other and taking it in turns to catch each others tail – they are currently lain at opposite ends of the sofa (taking up all the room!) having had a mad twenty minutes in the garden! We are lucky enough to have these woods about five minutes from home where its all up and down hill, with trees, bracken and blissful peace and quiet….every day we go the dogs seem to get a bit more confident and are starting to recognise our route, I can’t wait until I can let them off for a proper run but its early days yet I think.

All in all adopting Lily and Josie was without doubt the best, most rewarding thing I have done – they have joined out little madhouse and made it all the more mad, chaotic and full of love, laughter and joy. We are walking miles, playing in the garden and I have no time to do any of the IT based stuff I used to do but do you know what? I love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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So, all I can say is thank you so much to Elizabeth and Dean for allowing me to have these two, beautiful, adorable dogs who have made our family complete.