Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Why your government sugaring the pill is actually killing you.

Even before I went on a health kick and became a Personal Trainer, I had a mistrust of processed sugar. Whilst my kids only gave up sugar totally once we decided to go paleo, I had always limited their intake.  Also, whilst I am by no means a great cook (awful, some might say) I do always cook from scratch so we have always limited our intake of added sugar in sauces and savoury processed foods.

A recent article in the Guardian makes me very glad we have avoided processed sugar, generally fructose, so much.

On the whole, the sugar that is added to fizzy drinks, cakes and other processed foods is high fructose corn syrup.

This processed fructose is literally poison!

This article in the Guardian puts the scientific spin on this.

In a nutshell, this article shows how dangerous fructose is and how the government and food giants are trying to use misunderstood terminology to put a positive spin on a very negative thing.

The European Food and Safety Agency states that sucrose is better for you than glucose because it has a lower glycemic index.

This is irrelevant.

Glycemic index measures the rise in blood glucose, not blood sucrose!

'Yes, fructose has a low glycaemic index of 19, because it doesn't increase blood glucose. It's fructose, for goodness sake. It increases blood fructose, which is way worse. Fructose causes seven times as much cell damage as does glucose, because it binds to cellular proteins seven times faster; and it releases 100 times the number of oxygen radicals (such as hydrogen peroxide, which kills everything in sight). Indeed, a 20oz soda results in a serum fructose concentration of six micromolar, enough to do major arterial and pancreatic damage. Glycaemic index is a canard; and fructose makes it so. Because fructose's poisonous effects have nothing to do with glycaemic index; they are beyond glycaemic index.'

Glycemic index is not the issue - here's why:

'Glycaemic load is where it's at. This takes into account how much of a given food one must eat to obtain 50 grams of carbohydrate. The perfect example is carrots. Carrots have a high glycaemic index – if you consume 50 grams of carbohydrate in carrots, your blood sugar will rise pretty high. But you would have to eat 1.3lbs – 600 grams – of carrots to get 50 grams of carbohydrate. Highly unlikely. Any high-glycaemic-index food can become a low-glycaemic-load food if it's eaten with its inherent fibre. That means "real food". But fructose is made in a lab. It's anything but "real".'

Here is why sucrose is so nasty and why the idea that something is safe, offering positive health benefits even, based on eroneous science is so dangerous.  

The food industry is fond of referring to a 1999 study showing that liver fat generation from oral fructose occurs at a very low rate (less than 5%). And that's true, if you're thin, insulin sensitive, fasting (and therefore glycogen-depleted), and given just fructose alone (which is poorly absorbed). Conversely, if you're obese, insulin resistant, well fed, and getting both fructose and glucose together (like a sizable percentage of the population), then fructose gets converted to fat at a much higher rate, approximating 30%. In other words, the toxicity of fructose depends on context.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Alongside planning your day comes planning your meals.

If you know what you need to get out of the freezer in advance, what ingredients you need to have ready and what you are eating for each meal, not only will you vastly reduce your food waste and food bill but you will be in control of your nutrition. 

This means you will be less likely to snack on undesirable choices because you won't have bought these items and you will be properly fuelled up regularly on healthy  foods and will be less likely to crave the unhealthy stuff.

Download this planner for free to help you.

I trim the edges and laminate in an A3 laminating pouch so I can reuse it each week - OHP pens work best because they don't smudge but can be wiped off easily with a damp cloth each week.

If you focus on cutting sugar, limiting flour and reducing processed foods, you will change your life - for real!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

How many of us find it hard, if not impossible to motivate ourselves to make time to exercise?

How many of us start exercising regularly and then find it falls by the wayside when something 'more important' comes along or we have a 'busy' month?

Let's address that issue of 'busy' months.  If you are a grown up, you will find, I'm pretty certain, that every month is a busy one.  If you make a list of everything you have to do on a daily basis over the course of a week, you will find it very quickly becomes overwhelming.  Go on, have a go!  Write a list of everything you have to accomplish on a daily basis over the course of a week.  Then it's easy to see why exercise drops off or is non-existant.

Perhaps you do schedule time for exercise, but then along comes an important meeting at work you need to prepare for or a party to plan for or house maintenance or visiting a sick relative and then exercise falls down the list of priorities again.

How many of you go to an exercise class?  I bet you are less likely to skip that than if you schedule your own time to go to the gym or for a run or whatever it is you do.

Why is this?

Because timetables work.

You may think only the overly anal have timetables, only the obsessively neurotic plan their days and that may be a little bit true.  But people who plan, get things done!

Part of the reason exercise might fall by the wayside is if you have lists of other things to do.  I don't know about you but I can even put off procrastinating with effective prevarication and clever tangent creation.  I can make a 10 minute job last literally for weeks, months, sometimes even years! Genuinely!

How do I get round this?  I am learning.  It's a work in progress but at the moment, this technique allows me to fit everything I need to do into a day without ending up a physical wreck, without wasting time and without feeling like I have no time to myself.

I timetable my day.

I make sure that there are blocks of time that, as far as possible, are written in stone, but can, at a push, be moved around - so there is flexibility within rigid structure.

I work part time at the moment, to allow for the demands of a young family but this can still be done even if you work full time - you may just have to delegate more.  I plan a hour of housework a day, an hour of laundry and dinner cooking a day, an hour of exercise a day and an hour of writing work a day.  On top of these are hour slots for PT clients and kids' activities.  Hours can of course be added, when I have copy deadlines etc.

The reason for this is that I am naturally very chaotic and disorganised and I find it very hard to focus on any one job if I know I have plenty of time.  I need a deadline.  I need the panic that not having quite enough time gives me.  If I know I can potter abut all day doing housework, I will get very little done but when I know I only have an hour, I get a lot done.  When I know I can sit at my computer all day writing that copy or revising for an exam or whatever it is I need to do, I can easily get sidetracked by facebook or emails and my mind goes blank.

By scheduling a focused hour, I become super productive.

My main problem, when it comes to making sure I am organised enough to leave time for exercise, is laundry!

I have no problem putting it in the machine.
I have no problem hanging it out to dry.
I even have no difficulty folding it up and putting it in the laundry basket.
(I don't iron.  Ever.  I decided a long time ago that it was a waste of my life.  So I don't do it.  I fold very smooth and flat and be done with it and I have taught my eldest two how to iron their own school shirts; husband does his own.)

What I do have unbelievable difficulty with is putting the folded washing away!  I'm sure I can't be alone in this.  It piles up and up until the mountain of clean, beautifully-folded clothes topple over. 

So I have decided not to do it any more.  I will do the bits I can do - washing, drying, folding but then the rest, I will delegate: the kids will put it away.  Every day.  During the hour I have put aside for cooking dinner and laundry, I will fold and pile clothes and deliver to the kids to put away.  This works like a charm!  I no longer have piles of washing!

I am lucky that my kids are now old enough to do a decent job but you get the idea.  Hand on the jobs you can't do to make time for the job you need to do.

And that job is: take care of your health!  

And so we come to that little idea of other things becoming more important than exercising.  Really? Really?  Are you telling me that there are more important things that taking care of your joints so you are able to get up out of a chair without using handles when you're 60?  There are more important things than making sure your heart and lungs are functioning well enough to allow you to walk to the shops or play with your kids?  Really, you are telling me there are more important things than ensuring your bone density (especially women) doesn't deteriorate to the point of osteoporosis in later years? Really?

Come on!  Exercising daily makes you feel good!  It makes you look good and it cheers you up!  And if you are living in the UK in the autumn, you will know that a bit of daily cheer goes a bloody long way in these short, dark, gloomy days!  Exercising daily makes you feel powerful and in control.

There is not one workout you will EVER regret doing.  
Not ever!  

How many days have you already regretted not getting in shape?

Plan it.  
Schedule it.  
Organise your day to make room for your health and well-being!  

Why on Earth wouldn't you?

Monday, 21 October 2013

Junior Hero Academy are classes I run just for kids.  The little Junior Heroes that come to see me are AMAZING!

They never give up, they work really hard and they listen really carefully (generally more carefully than my grown up clients!)  This means they do the exercises I give them carefully and with great form, meaning they get the most out of each exercise and they vastly reduce any risk of injury.

I'm so proud of my little Junior Heroes!

Today I thought we'd have a go at developing a party piece for Christmas.  I said we were going to look at pistol squats.  We did some TRX pistol squats to get them used to it.  Then we got into the pistol squat from the bottom up.

I told them they would have to practise really hard between now and Christmas and that then they would have a great showing off thing to do to impress people.  In case you don't know what a pistol squat is, they are REALLY HARD!

Have a go - this is how you do them.  Stand on one foot with the other staying dead straight in front of you.

Keeping your heel on the ground, squat down until your bum nearly touches the ground but doesn't and make sure your leg is straight out in front of you.  Then get up again without putting your other leg on the ground!

So, I told the kids to have a go.

They only went and did it!  A little practice.  A few fallings over.  Then they went and did it!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


It's easy for workouts to become stale and boring and this is when people tend to stop exercising or going to the gym - the same old thing day after day is dull.

This is why I'm a bit of an equipment junky - my husband swears you can achieve whatever you want with a bar bell.  It's true but it's also boring day in day out.  I like to swap and change and try out new things.

My latest favourite bit of kit is the XRSlide  that I was shown on a Functional Resistance Training course I recently attended.  The XRSlide is two innocent-looking pieces of shiny plastic with foam pads on one side but they are deceptively versatile and effective and will deliver a killer workout to even the fittest of you out there!  For only £25, I think they're a very versatile bargain!

It simulates the effects of a cross trainer and ab-wheel as well as other functional movements while adding an unstable element which forces you to engage your core muscles more than you would normally.  So a lunge, for example, is made more challenging with the addition of the slide. Like with suspension training, they really target your core abdominal muscles because you need to recruit these muscles big time to complete the exercises.

And, as you should know by now, we like any exercise that does more than it says on the tin, so anything that combines multi joint, multi-planar, multi muscle-group exercises is not only functionally great but also saves time!

If you are looking to mix things up a little, then these are a great addition to your exercising arsenal and like resistance bands, they they take up hardly any space, so you can take them anywhere.

Slow the exercise right down for a deep core workout, speed them up for a more metabolic, cardio workout or incorporate them into your daily routine for a bit of a change.

Be sure, clients of mine, we will be using these a lot!

Get your own pair for extra workouts on between PT sessions and have a go at these workouts with them:

Warm up with:

Skating Lunges - both feet on the XRSlide, move your feet backwards and forwards independently for one minute

 Jack Knives - both feet on the XRSlide, hands on the ground, move your feet backwards and forwards independently for 1 minute

Sled Push - with your hands on the pads and feet on the floor, push your hands along the floor.
Plank Pull - with your feet on the pads, in a straight arm plank position walk your hands along the floor, pulling your feet behind.

Upper Body:
One Arm Sliders - on your knees, core tight, push each arm out to the front and back independently for one minute.

Sliding press ups - on your knees, core tight, push both arms out to the side and back together for one minute.

Lower Body:
Lunges - with your feet on the sliders lunge either to the side or to the front and then back to the start position then swap legs.

Hamstring Hip Raise - lying on your back, with your feet on the sliders, push your legs out straight in front of you and lift your hips as high as you can.  Slide your fet backwards and forwards, keeping your hips as high as you can.

Abductor/Adductor Slide - with your knees on the sliders and your hands on the floor in front of you, slide your knees in and out.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

We are creatures of habit.

I regularly hear comments about not having time to plan meals or exercise.  But making time (not finding time) to plan meals carefully and prepare and cook food from scratch and to exercise isn't about making time it's about creating habits.

I'm sure we could all list things we do daily without thinking because they are habitual behaviours that we just get on with as part of our daily routine.

And there is the key!  Routine.

You need to make planning food and exercise part of your daily routine.  It isn't that difficult.  If you have time every day for TV or reading a magazine are you honestly saying your time couldn't be better spent exercising or planning and prepping meals?  I know we all need down time and if you work full time that is hard to come by but you genuinely can make time just as easily as you can make excuses!

Is Eastenders really more important than your health?

= )

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Stop poisoning yourself with fake food!

There are so many things I put down to just getting older (which my Doctor also put down to getting older) that since changing my nutrition and doing some exercise have TOTALLY disappeared.

It is obvious to me now, after the fact, what an enormous role diet and exercise play in how we feel. It's hard to imagine how good you could feel when you don't realise quite how bad you already feel.

I could not have imagined how well I could feel when I was still feeling unwell.

At the age of 39, I used to wake up in the mornings tired and sluggish, with stiff and aching joints.  I used to feel overwhelmingly sleepy at around 2 in the afternoon and more often than not, nod off on the sofa in the evenings.

I used to have headaches regularly, probably once a week or so.  I used to get tummy aches occasionally.

I couldn't knit for more than ten minutes at a time as my knuckles would start to ache.

Walking up and down the stairs many times would make my legs ache.  Walking fast any where would leave me out of breath and sweaty.

I was very quick to anger with my kids, I was incredibly impatient and grumpy.

My bottom was heading south.  My arms had become a bit flabbier than I remembered them being in my early thirties and my thighs looked wrong.

New wrinkles were appearing daily and seemed deeper by the week!

These all seemed to me just how things were.  My doctor asked me how old I was when I told her my knuckles ached when I knitted and my joints were a bit stiff and achey on the mornings.  She sighed and nodded and said with a smile, 'It's your age.'  I accepted this and went away a bit sadder than I'd entered but resigned to the beginning of the end.

Since cutting out wheat my joints have stopped hurting.  They don't hurt AT ALL.

Since cutting out starchy carbs, I no longer have the urge to sleep at 2pm.  I wake up, if not leaping out of bed with joy, at least not sluggish and stiff.  I can't remember the last time I fell asleep on the sofa. My moods have stabilised and although I still yell at my kids, I don't have the seeing-red meltdowns I used to have.

Since cutting out sugar and processed foods, I no longer get headaches (I had one the other day before a thunder storm....the first one in about a year.)  It could be that I am just less worried about my wrinkles now that I am in control of my health and my body but it does seem to me that cutting processed food and getting fit and healthy seemed to have slowed their progress rather dramatically - I'm not saying, like Victoria Principal, that I have literally turned back time but the slippery slope seems to have evened out a little.

Since beginning exercise, I can put my socks on without sitting down, my back doesn't ache and my posture has improved meaning my tummy sticks out less.  My arms are toned and less wobbly, my bottom is heading north once more and I feel better than I did in my twenties!

Now at the age of 42, I feel well! 

I can see now that how I used to feel wasn't real life, it wasn't just how you start to feel as your youth slips away.  You don't have to put up with aching joints, headaches, sluggishness, indigestion and a saggy bum.  There are things, simple things, you can do to change it.

Why take iron tablets to make up for a deficiency when you could up your intake of red meat and green veggies or if you already do that, cut wheat to make sure that iron is absorbed properly?  So many people take tablets for high blood pressure when a combination of decent nutrition and exercise would do a better job of it!

Why medicate yourself with drugs when the food you eat is still poisoning you?  Food can be all the medicine you need!

It is a choice to malnourish yourself with fake food; it is a choice to be unfit; it is a choice to allow yourself to feel tired and old and weak.  
You have the choice to make a change, to take control, to feel better than you have ever felt in your life!

Why on earth would you choose not to?