What I’ve Learnt in 2014.

I really enjoyed writing the 2013 version of this last year so decided I’d do it again and again, I’ve enjoyed writing it. I think reflection is something people don’t enough of.

Sitting back and realising what kind of year you’ve had, what you’ve learnt and what you will adapt for next year are things that help us stay on track with why we do what we do.

That said, here are 14 things I’ve learnt in 2014:

 

  • Everyone is different –

Doing the job that I do, I see a hell of a lot of completely different types of people. One thing that continually sticks out when I work with more people is how different everyone is.

From what makes them tick, what they love and how they learn and communicate, we really are all pretty dam different.

I honestly do think this is one of the amazing parts of my job; meeting new people and learning how to make them learn to deadlift or how to stick to a new habit, things like this really do make me enjoy what I do.

  • (good) Coffee makes the world go round

If you don’t drink coffee I don’t really understand how you function… In all seriousness though I absolutely love those little beans of joy.

I’ve been using Monmouth, a little London company, for most of the year but recently I’ve started experimenting with different types. I’m now using  Grumpy Mule which is pretty dam good.

Extra bit for this: do it with an aeropress and thank me later.

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Aeropress FTW.

  • Stress has a mahoosive impact on loadsa things –

I don’t know the absolute reasons of why it does because I’m not smart enough yet but what I do know is how much havoc stress can cause on things ranging from illness all the way through to appetite.

I’ve had my fair share this year which was mostly my own fault and through my experiences, and the clients I deal with, I’ve seen first-hand how much of a play it can have on all things life.

  • Time off is important –

Leading on from stress point, taking time off of work is extremely important.

I honestly think this is one of the main reasons we live in such an unhappy society sometimes (no fingers pointed here however, some people have no choice).

This one is pretty specific to an industry like fitness where most of its employees do the job because they love it but get so absorbed by it they start hating it.

Plan in chill out time and do shit you love doing.

  • The independence debate taught me I don’t like politics (more so than before) –

I’ve never liked politics; I just don’t trust the people who tend to sit at the top of it.

This year Scotland had a vote on becoming independent and every man, woman and their dug (Scottish for dog) had an opinion on it.

I know I should care but I really just feel I’ve more important things to worry about (like if Tesco’s has run out of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream).

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More controversy than a standard South Park episode.

  • Make sure that the goal is still the goal –

Sometimes things change, people change and situations change.

I plan in 6-8 weekly check-ups with all my clients where we run over if the goal they came to me with, is still the goal they are working towards now.

  • “People don’t care how much you know, until they know much you care” –

This is probably my most loved quote, written by a man named Alwyn Cosgrove who has probably had the biggest influence on career outside of current mentors and family.

I love it because it’s both truer than the true (Dr Seuss quote) and so often a problem that soo many people have.

I might know my vastus lateralis from my brachioradialis (muscles, not dinosaurs, I promise!), but I’ve yet to meet many people in my job who give a shit about that. What they care about is how I can help them and how I’m going to get them to their goal.

  • Un-comfort is a good thing –

I’ve yet to do something I’ve been nervous about doing that hasn’t either worked out well for me or made me a better person.

Getting out of your comfort zone is a sure fire way to continue to progress and being too comfortable with things gets boring anyway.

  • New cars smell amazing –

I’ve only put this one in here because I bought my first ever new car this year and realised how amazing the smell of it is (as well as how driving it is of course).

Y’know that advert where it says “fall in love with driving again”? That’s what I feel like every time I get in this car.

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  • Every type of exercise works –

Don’t matter if you love zumba or bodypump or crossfit or bodybuilding, if it gets you moving and sweating, it’s good for you.

The only reason you’ll adhere and stay consistent with a type of exercise is if you enjoy it, so do exercise you enjoy.

  • The more I know actually equals the less I know

I’ve learnt more in 2014 than I have in any other year.

It honestly feels like the more I learn about things, especially in the fitness world, the less I actually know.

There are guys out there at the top of their game who’ve been doing this for 40 years that say they still don’t know everything, I’ve a hell of a long way to go and that excites me.

  • I like mornings

No one else is up and I oddly find that satisfying, like I’m being productive when everyone else is still asleep.

The world is cool place at 5/6am in the morning and I get more done by 12am than I ever used to by 5pm.

  • The science of pain is extremely interesting

I’ve recently started looking more into why people feel pain when there isn’t any obvious dysfunction/ problem or reason.

It’s an insanely complicated topic and a lot of what I’ve figured out actually relates not to what is wrong physically with someone, but what their perception of that pain is.

  • The deadlift is still the king of all exercises

Exercises come and go but this one is still alive and kicking no matter the trend.

No other exercise involves simply picking something up (with good technique) and putting it back down and no other exercise has the ability to make people as happy as this one.

I’ve never had a client set a PB on the deadlift and not be absolutely thrilled by it.

It also replicates very nicely what we do in daily activity very well which makes it incredibly functional for any kind of client (excluding a few – lower back pain clients for example).

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What a relevant time of year meme.

 

There you have it folks, my 14 things I’ve learnt in 2k14.

There was loads more but I wanted to make it 14 things for 2014 y’know…

Have a safe Xmas, NY and 2015 and make sure you do your deadlifts and drink your coffee.

 

 

 

What I’ve learned from Waking-Up before the Birds.

Before we start the article, this particular piece of writing was written at 5.15am so if it’s pants, I’ll hang my head in shame and go back to rising just as Jeremy Kyle starts.

 

I’ll set the scene for ya.

It’s midnight and due to some unforeseen reason I haven’t managed to fall asleep as planned.

I’m thinking to myself “even if I do fall asleep, I’m up in 5 hours, what’s the point?”

This was my first attempt at waking at 5am, now I’ve simply turned it into something I just ‘do’.

This article’s headline may not look like it’ll give you the usual information on fitness and health related things but there is in-fact some seriously good points you can use in your own journey.

 

  1. Life is better at this time –

Seriously, if you are one of those people who ‘starts work at 9am, wake up at 840am’, this will seem extremely foreign to you but don’t close the page just yet. There will be content you 9am risers can use.

At 5am, you’re the only person up in the world… Or at least it feels like that. By 9am I’ve usually completed more than most people will all day; this is a really satisfying feeling.

 

  1. You get more shit done –

Hands up if you’d like more hours in the day?

Every single one of us is busy – yes, even you, the guy at the back who’s playing Angry Birds and we would all kill for a few more hours.

Why not just get up an hour earlier and do what you need to do before your house rises?

I hear EXCUSES. We need SOLUTIONS.

-You’d be too tired – go to bed earlier.

-You’ll do it later on anyway – I bet you won’t. False promises like “I’ll do it later” never end up occurring.

-It’s hard getting up this early  – Is it easy to get up at 8.40am or would you like more sleep then? Exactly, we all want more sleep but at one point we do need to get up, why not just make it slightly earlier.

-I’m not a morning person – and I’m not a night time person but I still deal with it. Man/woman up.

 

  1. You become part of a cool little club –

I’m not even joking here, type “the 5am club” into Facebook. The guys who run it are pretty switched on, and, oddly I found them while reading some articles at 5am…

 

  1. It forms habits –

This is where we delve into providing you with information you can use to accomplish more and become more productive, especially if you just laughed your way through the last first part.

So why would we want to form habits?

Say your goal is to lose weight – an extremely common (if incredibly poorly thought out) goal of a lot of people.

A good habit for you to form would be exercise regularly, or eat vegetables at every meal.

Good habits are what get us to the goals we set ourselves, bad habits however are what take us away from our goals.

 

How do you go about setting habits that actually work?

First up I’m going to credit James Clear (of jamesclear.com) as he is literally the kind of building habits and his content is pretty exceptional.

  1. Plan it –

Write your goal down and have it somewhere you see it all the time. In your car, on your office desk, heck, even stick it on the back of the toilet door.

Think through exactly how you are going to succeed with that goal.

If it’s weight loss, how are you going to lose it? Do you need to find a gym or get rid of the food that you know isn’t helping you?

If it’s improving your marathon time, do you need to do more running or is there a part of your diet you could do with a revamp?

One thing I’ve found that has helped me stay consistent with exercise recently is having it at the same time on 3 days every single week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8am). I’ve managed to stick to this for the last two months now. My schedule doesn’t give me a choice but to exercise now and it’s made sticking to it a whole lot easier.

 

  1. Start Small –

The number one killer mistake that everyone falls prey to when it comes to attempting any kind of goal is trying to do too much too soon.

Let’s backtrack to losing weight.

If you decide to do the same things every poor muppet who doesn’t know any better does when they start a diet – cut carbohydrates, slash calories, go cold turkey on junk foods and do 10 exercise sessions per week right at the beginning – you are setting yourself up for failure.

Always think to yourself ‘can I keep this up long term?’

If the answer is no, you should probably change what you’re currently doing to make it suit you for the long run.

 

  1. Figure your trigger

Everybody has things that just get in the way.

For example, I’m susceptible to annoying injuries.

This could derail my progress, make me quit the gym, and kill my progress. But I’m an action taker, and this just doesn’t sit with me.

All I’ve had to do to get around this has been to train movements that don’t cause me any pain. And if something does, I’ve taken it out and added in alternatives.

Let’s look at my mate Liam.

Liam used to be a Mcdonald’s addict, and had to drive past his local Golden Arches every single day on his way to and from work.

He knew he didn’t have it in him to avoid the lure of a succulent Big Mac and a tempting strawberry shake after another stressful day at the office, so instead, he found a different route home. It might have taken him an extra 10 minutes every day, but this one simple switch was the trick to finding fat loss success, rather than crashing and burning as he’d done so many times before.

Here’s another – do you always feel that you need something sweet after dinner? Cookies and chocolates calling your name? Sugar cravings so strong you can’t sleep until you’ve had your fix?, Why not try making a healthier version of something you love (banana bread or flapjacks for example).

Whatever it is, find your weak spot and try substituting something in or removing it completely.

 

  1. Be consistent –

Think tortoise over the hare here.

Consistency gets you places, perfection is not needed.

Remember back to the times in the past where you’ve lost a few pounds, then gained it all back again. Feels pretty crap, right? That initial feeling of elation and success, only to be undone agai.

You want to create habits that mean you keep that weight off for the rest of your life, not the next 3 weeks.

 

Where to start then?

Set your alarm for tomorrow and put it somewhere you physically have to get up to turn off. This will ruin the inevitable ‘press sleep button and repeat until the last possible minute cycle’.

That and try laying your clothes out for tomorrow ready to put on as you get up.

Little things like this really do make a big difference.

Good luck.

Tips for Eating Healthy when you’re Busier than a ‘One-Legged Man in an Ass-Kicking Contest’

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Now there’s a mouthful of a headline and excuse my immaturity for the above picture…

I actually spent ten minutes searching Google for ‘as busy as…’ quotes… I know, don’t judge how much time I obviously have but it is rather sad isn’t it? Even still, that’s the one that drew my attention in most so that’s why I chose it!

Every single one of us is busy nowadays.

One of the first excuses I hear off from clients when they haven’t had a great week nutrition-wise is that they’ve just been ‘too busy’.

Work, family time, cooking, cleaning – and that’s all without a hint of consideration for yourself or spending time with your friends.

Where does fitting in time for healthy eating come into it?

This article will be dedicated to giving you some tips for hopefully making that transition between life and eating healthy that little bit easier.

  1. Cook in bulk –

I tell this to every single person I meet who struggles for time and is attempting to eat healthier.

When you cook a large meal, make double the size and eat this for your breakfast/ lunch/ dinner the following day. This will mean that you’ll have the easier option of simply re-heating something you know tastes good, and is healthy for you with no cooking required.  Plus, pre-cooked meals often taste better when left overnight. Eat your heart out Gordon Ramsey.

Microwave, Tupperware box and a fork and you’re ready to go. You could even eat it at your desk if you’re that busy.

  1. Grab and Go –

I tend to make a big batch of protein flapjacks (recipe is below) on a Sunday and this lasts me and my girlfriend right through to the end of the week.

Other options I use pretty religiously (as I tend to be busy myself) include carrying bits of fruit around with me, along with small packets of nuts, popcorn (yep, you read it right)  protein bars from Quest or The Protein Works, and bounce.

  1. Smooth Operator –

Smoothies are great for people with a lack of time.

Throw in some milk, a scoop of protein powder, some spinach, a tbsp of nut butter and a banana and you have yourself a great tasting liquid meal that beats any plain protein shake hands down.

Keep a small blender in your office, and there’s no excuse.

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  1. Protein & veg when eating out –

A common conundrum among busy folk is what to choose during lunch or dinner meetings. You don’t want to look like the weirdo who doesn’t eat, and just orders a glass of tap water, but you don’t want to blow your diet either.

It’s always possible to have something completely made up for you, even if it’s not on the menu. If this sounds completely outrageous to you then simply making a wiser choice with your meal is a good idea.

Prioritising protein and vegetables in this situation is a good idea so for example try ordering a steak and a large side salad or a chicken or fish dish with extra vegetables.

  1. “Make” Time for Cooking –

Busy people rarely “find” time, but everyone can “make” time if it really matters.

I do this twice per week (Sundays & Wednesdays) for around one and a half to to two hours. This way I get most of my meals done and dusted in a short time frame and it means for the other four or five days of the week I don’t have to worry about cooking.

I also like to use Sundays to plan my week’s food, and this means I’m sorted in terms of shopping and for having the correct ingredients.

There’s nothing worse than starting to make Bolognese to only realise you forgot chopped tomatoes.

  1. Fasting –

I personally don’t do this as I get grumpy and unhappy when I don’t eat.  However, this is an option if you’re extremely busy.

Stressful morning ahead? Try missing breakfast and having a bigger lunch and dinner.

Horrendously full afternoon and evening? Have a bigger breakfast and lunch, miss dinner and have a light snack when you finish.

As long as you don’t go mental and reach for a whole packet of biscuits when you miss meals (very easy to do this) and have something planned to eat, you’ll be fine.

It’s the amount of calories you take in at the end of the day that matters, not when you eat them.

  1. Stay hydrated –

Water helps with everything our body does and when we don’t have enough, we don’t function properly. In other words, staying hydrated may help curb hunger and keep you feeling awake which, if you are busy is of fundamental importance.

  1. Food on the Run –

I always like to have fast food and options I can grab on the run for when my day just hasn’t gone to plan or I’ve forgotten my meals.

Something like nipping into Tesco and grabbing a packet of chicken, a side salad, a packet of nuts and a bit of fruit is extremely easy and nutritious.

M&S also have some great healthy options. Even fast food places are catering to the health-conscious among us more now than ever before. It’s just a case of manning up and choosing a grilled chicken wrap over a Big Mac and extra large fries.

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There you have it, eight useful tips you can use for when life becomes overly busy and you still want to maintain eating healthy.

Next time you start complaining about not having time to eat properly – ask yourself this –

“Do I really not have time, or am I just not making the time?”

If you’re not sure, add up how many hours you spent this week Tweeting, Facebooking and general interweb time-wasting and you might just have your answer.

 

Edited by Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting

How to Lose Weight without Actually Exercising

For starters, you must be thinking “what the hell is Stuart talking about here”, “he’s a personal trainer who ISN’T promoting loads of exercise?!”, and you would be correct.
I do promote exercise and the last thing this post is saying is ‘don’t do any exercise’. Exercise is one the best, if not THE best, thing you can do to keep your body and mind healthy.
The point of this post however is to educate you on some methods that can be used to aid weight loss without actually doing what you might think is actually exercise (exercise being things like running, cycling, swimming, weight training etc ).

This was kicked off by a question I received yesterday:

I was talking to one of my clients, Karen, and the conversation went something along the lines of…..
Karen – “Stuart, can you lose weight without actually doing any exercise? It’s not that I don’t want to exercise and take the easier route, but I was simply wondering if I could still lose weight without doing anything in the gym? I’ve a really busy period coming up at work and with a third child due I’m going to struggle to fit anything in”
Me – “Karen ……… Let me write an article on that for you”

Weight loss:
That much loved goal that 99% of the population are aiming for in one way or another. First up, I’m going to say that I will get to the meat and potatoes of this article, I have to say that the best way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit and to exercise regularly, preferably weight training as this will make you look and feel much better…
With that out the way here goes.

6 Ways to Lose Weight Without Exercising

1. Walk more –

Although walking is kind of exercise (c’mon it’s not really, unless you’re 87 years old…), it’s one of the simplest forms and can be a very effective way of burning fat.
It doesn’t have to be speed walking like you see some people doing (INSERT PIC) and can be done anywhere,. Get out of your car a five minute walk from work, get off your bus a stop early, go for a walk during your lunch hour or walk before your family and kids get up (yep, 6am walk oh what fun…).

2. Use the diet option –

Diet drinks, diet salad dressings, even diet crisps – they might not be great options, but they’re “better bad” options.
3. Eat more protein –

I don’t write many weight loss driven articles that don’t include something about this pretty amazing macronutrient named protein and there’s a reason for that. When it comes to weight loss, increasing your protein intake is a MUST. Why? Not only does it fill you up (so you’re less likely to snack on jaffa cakes and celebrations), it is also the one nutrient that is used up during digestion. This basically means that your body has to burn calories to actually chew, swallow and digest protein containing foods (it’s called the thermic effect of food in case you wanted more info).
Nando’s anyone?!

4. Set a timer for when you are working –

This is one I’ve been using to keep my back in better shape recently. Set a timer for 50 minutes and every time that timer goes off, get up and either get yourself a drink or just simply walk about for 5 minutes and stretch off. It’ll help your muscles and joints, waken you up, improve your concentration and you’ll burn some much needed calories in the process.
Can’t get much simpler than that can you?!

5. Eat slowly and mindfully –

Ever watch that show “Secret Eaters?”
Well they did a little experiment where they asked 2 groups of volunteers to go up to an all you can eat buffet and get a plate full of food. They then blindfolded half of the group and asked both to eat food as they wanted. The results of the study found that the people who couldn’t see what they were eating, ate around 30% less except they all identified they felt full.
Next time you go to eat a meal, turn off your TV and be mindful of what you are eating. Take small bites and take as long as needed to eat the meal. Finish it when you feel around 80-90% full, not stuffed out of your face. It’ll help your digestion, make you feel more energetic and it’ll help you eat less overall food.

6. Top up on veggies –

Not only are these lovely things great for adding taste and variety to your palate, they also happen to be very filling and contain loads of vital vitamins and nutrients for your body.
Whenever you think of what you are going to eat, think firstly of what vegetables you could have and secondly where is the protein source coming from.
All veggies are good, but prioritise leafy green ones like broccoli, spinach, kale and green beans as these contain a better nutrient profile and are also fewer calories per serving.

There we have it. Six ways you can lose weight without having to add any ‘specific’ exercise into your routine.

Oh and just so I don’t do myself out of my job, I still recommend you use weight training as it is the bee’s knees when it comes to basically everything…

 

“Edited by Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting

How to Keep Lost Weight, Lost – Preventing the Regain of Stubborn Body Fat

Picture the scene:

I sit down with a client, pen and clipboard in hand, waiting with a bated breath to hear all about their past dietary experiences. We run through pretty much everything they’ve ever tried with regards to dieting and weight loss.

There’s one thing that crops up time and time again.

Diet cycling.

Although there is no doubt males have this problem as well, it is definitely more prominent in female populations. Cycling through different diet plans/ juice detoxes/ miracle supplement regimes, it all goes through what I’m calling ‘The Cycle of Weight Loss’.

It looks something like this:

Start diet -> lose weight -> plateau in weight loss -> lose motivation -> regain weight -> repeat with different diet/ very similar diet to one before.

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This is something many people go through and it’s understandable why it happens, after all, why would you continue to try to lose weight when you aren’t actually losing it anymore.

First off it’s important to explain why weight loss occurs and in the simplest of explanations, it goes as follows;

You eat less calories than your body burns, and you lose weight. Simple.

Second, we must explain the mistakes most people make when starting a weight loss plan.

1. They cut calories too drastically –

We’ve all done this one.

You think ‘Hey, I want quick results, sod this 1 to 2 pounds per week lark, I’m going all in’.

This usually means you start with a big weight loss (5-10lbs) which plateau’s very quickly as your body gets used to such a drastic cut in calories. We have to remember the body is amazing at adapting to what’s being given to it, it’s been designed to adapt.

2. They throw the kitchen sink at it –

When you first start out, you’ve probably gone from one, maybe two exercise sessions each week up to as many as you can fit in. This creates an unsustainable amount of exercise to keep up and also means your creating a massive calorie deficit due to the volume of exercise you are doing.

Again, this might sound like a good thing – bigger deficit equals bigger weight loss, right? Well keep reading.

3. They create unsustainable habits –

This continues on from the first two points. Eating foods you would never usually eat and doing amounts of exercise you know you’ll never continue. We’d be a whole lot better creating habits we can do for the long term.

So, how do we go about solving some of these problems and actually prevent regaining lost weight?

1. Start off slowly –

No one likes the idea of going slow, and start talking about sustainability and steady progress, and people instantly switch off. But remember the tortoise and the hare.

If you are going from zero exercise sessions, build in one per week and see how this goes. We create long term habits by doing things we can’t fail at, this would be an amount we would have little chance of failing at. The same goes if you are starting from doing two sessions, try upping it to three.

This also interlinks pretty well with nutrition. Try simply eating a better breakfast choice or ensuring you eat one serving of vegetables per meal or you are drinking at least 2 litres of water per day.

Start so basic you know you can’t fail and once you’ve managed that for one week, add in something else.

2. Stay consistent –

This one is a bit cliche admittedly, but it is something that really has to be mentioned. Most of the time the sole reason people don’t sustain their weight loss is because they stop doing what they had been doing before. Staying consistent with your healthy eating and exercise is essential for either continued progress to be made or maintenance to happen.

How much exercise should I aim to do long term?

I like three sessions.

This is an amount that most people can do quite easily. Whether this involves you getting out of bed an hour earlier or dedicating an hour after work, three times per week is an amount that warrants little in the way of ‘I can’t manage that much’.

What to do next?

If you are starting out on a weight loss journey, start gradually. Build up habits you know you can maintain and be willing to commit to the longer term. I know it’s a bad ending but.. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and neither will the body of your dreams be.

Edited by Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting

Getting Out of the Morning Weigh-In Ritual – Better Ways to Track Progress.

A morning in the life of Sue.

Sue gets up at 6.30am sharp and heads through to the toilet where her fate awaits her. Yesterday she started a new diet and has been eating healthy for over 24 hours now. She steps on the scale and to her delight she’s lost 4lbs. She has an excellent day and tells all her friends.
For the next 2-3 weeks sues weight continues to decrease however, the increments are starting to reduce.
It’s after around 4 weeks she starts to see no change and some days she has even started to regain the weight she had previously lost. This decreases Sue’s motivation to exercise and eat healthy as, well.. what’s the point when she’s not making progress?

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

This is a common theme among many people and where scale weight, really isn’t the right thing way to measure how you’re getting on. It ended up with Sue inevitably stopping what she had been doing simply because that number wasn’t going in the direction she wanted it to.

Scales can however be a great tool for measuring progress when they are used correctly. They tell you how much you weigh and due to the media’s fascination with celebrities weight, we have become obsessed with that little number. To a lot of people scale weight determines how the day ahead goes.

Let me first list how it can be a good way to measure progress –
– weight is an important indicator of health. The lower it is, the better your health (most of the time).
– it shows progress in a very easy and understandable form.
– it can help with accountability, when used correctly.

Ok, so there isn’t too many positives to scale weight for most people but as it has these positives, it’s still something I use as a form of measuring progress. What’s the best way to ensure your weighing yourself correctly if you feel you have to use it? Do it at the same time, on the same day, every week and track it this way. This will give you something to actually compare it to in a accurate way.

The main point of this article was to identify better ways to measure progress, so here they are:

1. Use progress pictures. Take a picture of yourself wearing tight fitted clothes from the front, back and side on. Do this every 2-3 weeks and use this as your main measure of how you are doing. Lighting is also key here, make sure it’s consistent.

2. Circumference. Preferably you get someone who is experienced in using tape measures to do this as this will influence accuracy of results however, measuring hip, waist, leg and arm circumference can be an excellent way to see how you are progressing.

3. Clothes. Ever noticed clothes starting to fit better or perhaps you’ve managed to fit into a shirt or pair of jeans you haven’t for years. This is an awesome way to see you’re making progress. Another good one is to note how your belt is fitting, if you use one that is.

4. Love yourself – start eating healthy and doing exercise because you love the way it makes you feel, not because you hate the way your body currently looks. Weight loss will not make you a better parent/ friend or work colleague, yes this may make you happier as you progress but try to start viewing things as the first sentence of this article says.

Granted although number 4 isn’t really a way to measure progress, it’s still a really important point I feel needs brought up more. If we stopped going to the gym and eating better because we hated the way we looked and started viewing it as something we know is improving the way we look and bettering our health, we’d have so many more happy people.

5 Reasons you aren’t Losing Weight.

It’s often the case that after a period of time where most likely you’ve lost a reasonable amount of weight to start with on a diet (you always do), you hit a plateau and wonder where it’s gone wrong or how to move forward.

Without destroying the point of this blog post already there really is only one reason you aren’t losing weight, and that’s because you are eating more than you are expending however, there is some other reasons that may be unknown to some of you when we break this down further.

The influence for this article has come from recent activity on facebook I’ve viewed. There really is some horrid information out there and you really do need to be careful who you take your information on health/ fitness/ nutrition from, especially if you’re a beginner. Without me rambling on anymore here we go:

  1. You’ve no idea how many calories you are eating per day – It’s a common thing that a lot of people are doing nowadays, my fitness pal and other calorie counter apps are pretty dam popular. They are a pretty good tool for weight loss as they do give you the most accurate starting point of how much food you are actually eating. Although they are a nightmare for the first couple of weeks using them as you HAVE to measure everything you eat and take the time to input it, getting a true view of how much food you are actually eating is a very good starting point. Download my fitness pal, fill it out as honestly and specifically as possible and you’ll have yourself a baseline.
  2. You aren’t counting liquid calories – More calories in a bottle of wine than a big mac? You bet. Drizzle olive oil on all your salads? Having a daily starbucks regular sized white chocolate mocha? All of these have a pretty high amount of calories in them and if you aren’t including them in your daily totals you are missing out a whole lot of extra calories. I’m not saying exclude them here, I’m simply saying remember to measure how much you have as something like a tbsp of olive oil can have around 120 k/cals in it and that coffee is around the 400-500 mark.
  3. You are snacking subconsciously – Secret eaters anyone? It’s this program that brought this subject up pretty well (although I don’t agree the whole shaming part of it). Ever nip into the petrol station and grab a freddo harmlessly? Or open the fridge 10 times per day and have a small slice of cheese or swig of orange juice? Or have 1 or 2 celebration chocolates as everyone in the office is having one? It all adds up and you’d be surprised how much it can add up to. Start paying more attention to how often you snack around your meals, even the tiniest of things you don’t even think can contribute significantly. I’ve managed to get pretty substantial results with some clients by simply cutting out snacks.
  4. You aren’t exercising – Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand and compliment each other very well when done in tandem. One without the other is, in my view, far from optimal. You can get results by doing one or the other but you stand yourself the best chance possible by including both of these. Aim for at least 3 dedicated 1 hour long exercise sessions per week. Not much when you consider there is around 120 hours you spend awake per week.
  5. You have an underlying issue – It’s extremely uncommon for this to occur but it still needs mentioning as it may affect someone who reads this. If you feel you are being completely honest about your food intake and exercising regularly and you still aren’t losing weight, go and speak to your doctor who can do blood tests to see if there is some sort of underlying hormonal issue. I’d recommend getting a food diary analysis completed by a dietitian/ personal trainer or nutritionist before you go to your doctors as you may be missing something that a professional could help with.

There we go, 5 reasons you may not be losing weight. Agree/ disagree or found it informative? Let me know!

 

Should I do Cardio or Weights to Lose Fat?

So you’ve started going to the gym and been given a program by a gym instructor which involves a mixture of cardio (treadmills, bikes and crosstrainers) as well as some weights (most likely all machines) and you start to wonder, which one should I do more of?

You read up on it online and a simple google search provides you with no specific answer and leaves you more confused.

Cardio – why is it good?

Cardio burns more calories than weight training does. Calories, at the end of day, are all that matters when it comes to losing weight so I suppose I could just leave this article here… but I’m not, and for good reason. Back on track anyway, another benefit to cardio is that it can be very relaxing and de-stressing for a lot of people. This is certainly a good thing as we live in a pretty highly stressed environments nowadays.

Why is it bad?

It isn’t necessarily bad but as most people are searching for fat and not weight loss, weight training will be more effective. See, you may think you are looking to lose weight, but in fact you are looking to lose fat. Know the words ‘toning’ and ‘shaping’? These are the words created by a good weight training regime. We should always be looking to maintain as much muscle as possible as this will ensure we look good, feel good and can grow old while moving effectively.

Why is weight training good?

Apart from the section for why is cardio bad, weights are also better for us in the long term. If we maintain our strength as well as our muscle mass, we give ourselves the best opportunity of maintaining proper movement patterns as we grow older.

Weight training will also build that lean, athletic look most are searching for (think Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt).

Why is it bad?

It can be scary. This is where I think a good personal trainer can make the world of difference to someones opinion of weight training. Working with someone who knows what they are doing and who can instill confidence in you will help a massive amount, even if it just for a small amount of time.

It also does not burn as many calories as cardio as was mentioned, but the way I like to think about this problem is that you could simply eat a little less than have to commit to doing more days/ sessions in the gym.

What’s best?

It is really all down to your goal.

Weight/ fat loss = weight training + diet = win.

If you enjoy doing cardio then by all means continue, this article is not dedicated to slating either, it is simply about informing which is the best overall method for healthy, effective fat loss.

You can lose weight by doing 1 of either or by mixing things up but the most effective way to lose fat, in my opinion, is to use weight training as your main form of exercise. This will ensure you lose it healthily while maintaining as much muscle as possible as well as shaping your body. Throwing in some cardio for enjoyment purposes will do more good than harm but this is dependent on whether you enjoy cardio!

What I haven’t done in this article is provide a plan of a weights session or how to structure things. I won’t do this until I have seen someone move and feel this isn’t part of the basis of this article. I do have another one in the pipeline which may be published soon and deal with that problem.

Hope this helps clear some confusion up and you enjoyed the article.

 

 

 

20 Things That’ll Make Your Life More Awesome.

Been meaning to write this one for a while as I’ve discovered loads of little things that have made my life better in the last year. Only thing to take into account is that this is my view on things and you may disagree, this is obviously cool and hopefully you take something away from this.

1. Do shit you enjoy – Very simple number 1 but one that stands in all things enjoyable in life. I always hear people say they enjoy certain things but never do them. To me this makes no sense. There’s always time and unless your counting this as something like going on holiday, there’s no reason you can’t do it more often.

2. Any movie with Tom Hanks – The man is legend and his movies are always gooood.

3. Buy an aeropress – Coffee only tastes properly amazing when you make it yourself.

4. Fill your aeropress with Monmouth Coffee – Best coffee I’ve had.

5. Compliment people – This is another simple one. Tell someone they are looking well or that you like their hair today. I bet they appreciate it.

6. Try something new – There’s a host of things out there I bet you haven’t tried yet. Only one way to find out if you enjoy them.

7. Speak to friends and family more often – I’ve fallen victim to this since starting my job and it makes a massive difference when you start making more time to even just have a quick chat.

8. Make this banana bread – http://www.foodforfitness.co.uk/banana-bread-recipe.php#.U6gympRdWSo – once you’ve made it and its still warm smoother almond butter on it, thank me later.

9. Read – I always remember someone telling me that I’d never pick up a book and not learn something, they were right so far.

10. Exercise – The benefits of it are substantial enough that every single person should be doing some form of exercise often. Walking counts.

11. Be Punctual – It keeps everyone in a good mood when everyone manages to be on time. It’s also good manners and they bad boys are important.

12. Go outdoors – We own too many things that keep us in doors nowadays. If your like me and live in sunny Scotland there’s also some pretty amazing views and places to see.

13. Take yourself outside your comfort zone – We all hate doing it and it never turns out as bad as we think it will and quite often, much better.

14. Eat Steak – Steak solves many of life’s problems.

15. Watch Peter Kay – The man has the power to make anyone laugh and laughing is good for ya.

16. Go for a regular massage/ sports massage. Your body will thank you in years to come.

17. Lift heavy things often. It’ll make you look good, help your overall health and make you feel like your on top of the world.

18. Learn how to cook eggs in different ways – They are versatile, healthy and tasty, there ain’t no excuse to not know how to cook good scrambled eggs or a tasty omelette.

19. Be positive – People like happy people. It tends to rub off on other people and that makes more happy people and a happier world, win.

20. Read all of the blog posts on this blog…

 

C’mon, I couldn’t have finished with just another tip could I?!

 

Hope you all enjoyed that post and you live a more awesome life because of it!

5 Things I’ve Learnt During my First Year of Personal Training.

Around 1 year ago to this date, I started my personal training career. All set with a level 3 award, insurance and all the business propagnada you need, I assumed I was ready to get going. Little did I know I barely knew anything.

See in personal training courses, they tell you everything you’d think you’ll need to become successful but in all honesty, it doesn’t set you up in the slightest. The biggest difficulties I’ve had so far have not been anything to do with a lack of nutrition or fitness knowledge, but in fact how to actually go about building a business that makes money, how to get my clients complying with what I tell them to do and actually getting clients in the first place.

I’ve probably learnt more in the last 12 months about myself, the psychology of other people, applying what already I know and all things business than I’ve learnt in my entire life, which is why I decided this would be an interesting blog post. Even just solely for myself to reflect on what really has been a pretty amazing year.

  1. Having a mentor has been fundamental to my success – As I already said, when I first started out I thought I knew everything there was to know and reality hit me fast after only my first couple of sessions. I then went out and found the help of someone who had been where I currently was. It’s easily been the best thing I’ve done for my career. Having someone who is in consistent support of what you do and giving you ways to improve is such is useful thing to have around and I really don’t think I’d be where I am without working with the people I have. Special mention to Jonny Crowe, Stephen Dale, Chris Burgess and every other PT who is involved in Lift The Bar.
  2. Keeping up my own training is extremely important – I suppose I could say I got into personal training because I got the weightlifting bug. This is half the reason really but it is still a massive factor. It’s easy to make excuses and say you’re too busy to train or work is too busy and stressful but really, there isn’t any excuse bar injury. I love training but have found myself making those said excuses and slacking off. It’s only recently I’ve started getting back on track and realising how important training myself in the trenches is for both my development and sanity.
  3. Nutrition –  It’s dam important. Eat your fruit, veggies and lean meats and you’ll not go far wrong. That’s enough for that.
  4. Time management is pretty essential – All of those years of writing how I planned on improving my time management through Uni and now I’m actually realising the importance of it. Having 30+ clients a week, plus classes, plus admin time, plus food prep time, plus my training, plus program design, plus client/ family/ friends contact, plus time for doing my own learning and things like this all adds upto one heck of a busy schedule. Fitting it all in has been a task and I really have to thanks Apple for designing their Iphone and Ipad calendar as it’s been a godsend. I really find getting into a routine of up at the same time and sleep at the time and not leaving important tasks till later on in the day crucial for getting shit done.
  5. Everybody is different – Yep, it’s a rather cliche fifth but one that needs special attention. No one way will work for everyone and thinking like this is just plain stupid in my view. When it comes to weight loss/ muscle gain/ what ever fitness or health goal you have, and gaining enjoyment out of it, every single person is different and this must be taken into account when a program for diet or training is designed. It makes my life a nightmare having to spend so long working out what makes everyone tick but this is part and parcel of the job in my opinion (unless you’re in this for the money then it’ll be a lot easier to fall into the multi-level-marketing bullshit that so many trainers do).
  6. I know I said 5 but I have a few more and this my blog so sod it. Find something you enjoy and do it no matter what, don’t let life get in the way of it. Having time for myself and being selfish with this. I hate people who aren’t punctual, why can’t everyone just be on time? Read, honestly you’ll never pick up any book and not learn something.

I could have probably went on to about point 20 with this blog but that would’ve got boring so I’m keeping it at 5 + 1 so it keeps you all enthralled..

I’m gona leave you with this quote as it’s one I picked up right at the start of my career and it’s stuck with me since:

‘People don’t care how much you know, until they know how you much you care’

Thanks for reading. I tried to write this in a way that hopefully everyone can take something away from it and not just other personal trainers, let me know if it worked!

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