Be happy

Important date or concept for busy day being overworked - stock photoLife is manically crazy for me right now  – my lion isn’t so much outside the door but pretty much sat at the end of my bed (but I think he might be having a bit of a nap!)

But, despite the levels of stress, tiredness and physical injuries, I have managed to accomplish so much and kept most of the balls in the air, which reminded me of the old adage ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person’! It seems that just when you are facing your most complex challenge, life decides to add another two or three to the mix and you really do have to draw on your reserves of strength to get through.

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Vegetarianism is dangerous

Raw fresh meat on board with condiments on white background - stock photo

I love meat  – right from the start lets just nail my colours to the mast. I have always enjoyed meat, my family are meat eaters (my brother briefly flirted with being a vegetarian for a couple of year but he came back to the fold!) and my children both love meat!

Long before I started trying to eat healthily or getting fit meat was always a staple part of my diet but, in reality it probably consisted mainly of chicken and the odd piece of beef when my parents cooked a roast dinner.  I was never that keen on steak – I would always have salmon rather than steak – and whilst I have always enjoyed meat, a full varied meat-eating diet wasnt a high priority. To be honest, I was kind of sick of the sight of chicken we had it so often!

So, when I tried to eat healthily,  my protein consumption from animals was pretty poor at around 40g per day and I was eating dairy and a few nuts to try and compensate.  When I upped my protein intake to around 80-100g per day and started HAVING to eat protein at every meal I rediscovered my passion for meat and now I am a complete convert – given a choice I would rather have a nice hunk of beef than almost anything else.

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Meat in general is now centre stage in my diet and I try to eat steak as often as I can; I love the protein hit I get from a good piece of beef and I am slowly widening the variety of meats I eat – saying that, I just can’t stand the taste of roast pork so that will not be making a reappearance, yuk!!

One of the reasons behind my newly discovered passion is that the more I learn about food, health, diets etc, the more I understand that the foods we should be eating are the ones that are unadulterated and the ones that we genetically evolved to consume.  Part of our evolution did not involve eating white bread or grains (they are relatively recent additions to out diet) but we developed to eat meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and berries and they should form the cornerstone of our diet.  We evolved to be able to run at a high intensity for brief amounts of time, to run slowly or walk for great distances and to be able to handle periods of intermittent fasting or no food.

All of which is about a million miles from the average western diet which is packed full of highly processed foods, steeped in sugar, preservatives and chemicals, with little or no actual nutrition – combined with a highly sedentary lifestyle it really is no wonder that we have such an epidemic of obesity sweeping the western world.

Rant over (for now) off to go and enjoy a nice buffalo steak and some salad!

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….

personal trainer man coach and woman exercising abdominals push ups on bosu silhouette  studio isolated on white background - stock photo

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?

Gym woman push-up strength pushup exercise with dumbbell in a workout - stock photo

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!

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.

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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