Energy

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before:

‘We become the sum of the five people we spend the most time with’.

There’s a lot of debate surrounding this quote, but fortunately, we’re not here for a critical analysis. For argument’s sake, let’s just just go with it, because it highlights the subject of this post pretty accurately.

Let’s talk about the laws of attraction, aptly summarised in the quote below:

‘Become the energy you wish to be surrounded by’.

In essence, both of these quotes underline the same notion; that energy is contagious. We quite literally feed off things around us – environments, people, music etc. That being said, it’s important that we invest both our time and energy into spaces, relationships and activities that uplift us.

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Essentially, we build relationships based on energy, tending to be most compatible (both in a platonic and romantic sense) with those on a similar wavelength. There’s nothing better than vibing with the infectious energy of those around you.

We’ve all been placed in a situation with someone whose energy feels noticeably different. Don’t get me wrong, of course it’s beneficial to mix with a variety of characters. However, it’s also our own responsibility to be conscious of how we consume the energy of others.

So, what am I getting at?

If someone around you is inherently pessimistic, and you find yourself being overwhelmed by their negativity, it’s time to reassess. This isn’t me telling you not to be there for a friend in need. I’m not an asshole. Of course, there will be times when you have to offer help and support.

I’m speaking in a more generic sense, when I say that you are perfectly within your right, at any time, to take a step back and focus on re-establishing your own equilibrium. Toxic energy can inhibit you from expansion, development and growth. Detach and protect yourself.

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Fill your mind with positivity. Generate passion, enthusiasm and drive. If energy truly is contagious, make yours worth catching. Find people that resonate with you. Elevate those around you; infect them with a sense of optimism. A positive mindset will directly contribute to self-development. Roald Dahl knows…

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Social Media, That Troublesome Thing

Last night, I was lying in bed, and I found myself stalking my own Instagram. Let me repeat: stalking my very own Instagram. What a curious concept that is. As I scrolled through (primarily fitness or alcohol-infused images of myself), it got me thinking about the abstract phenomenon we have discovered with the rise of social media.

Now, I warn you, these ideas have been hurled around a million and one times before (so if you wish to opt out, perhaps do so now), but I’m in a writing mood, and this just seems to be sprawling from my fingertips.

Instagram; a bizarre space within which we exhibit the best parts of our existence, each attempting to prove our lives to be unquestionably wonderful (whether that  happens to be a conscious decision or not). This may be through the medium of the body we’ve achieved, those we socialise with, or the places we visit, to mention just a few.

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Exhibit A) Major flexing going on. Great lighting. Took the picture again because first time I had my hair up and I wasn’t on that vibe.

It’s peculiar how much of the world revolves around social media. Instagram is, quite literally, at the centre of everything we do (we, being millennials, obvs). Consider the phrase, ‘do it for the gram’; coined by an entire generation (if a generation can be collectively held responsible for coining a term?).

Now, this isn’t a targeted attack at Instagram. My work as a fitness professional is largely reliant upon social media, and evidently, these platforms can be put to good use. I’ve used social networks to connect with people I would never have encountered otherwise. In terms of building a business, maintaining relationships and developing yourself as a brand, Instagram is priceless.

However, social media can become pretty damn damaging, should we let it. Consider the following:

Procrastination:

This relates to a meme I saw last night (it seems my late night scrolling may not have been so mindless after all), stating:

‘Sometimes, when I’m really overwhelmed, I like to sit back, take a deep breath, make a list of everything I have to do and then spend 4-5 hours looking at complete strangers on Instagram’.

This speaks to my soul on so many levels. So many levels, it’s worrying. Social media can single-handedly act to destroy productivity. Time is precious (particularly in Dubai, I mean where does that shit even go?), we need not waste it being inefficient.

Misinformation:

Thousands of people have a very large social media following, and very little education on their chosen subject. It’s genuinely concerning that individuals can have such an expansive reach, with little-to-no factual insight or evidence-based research. I can safely say this is why the fitness industry is an absolute shambles. Did you really do a 30 day squat challenge to achieve that butt, Tina?

Advertisements/Promotions:

This is largely connected to my last point, however it’s related more selectively towards celebrity/influencer endorsements. Skinny teas that upset your stomach to the point of chronic dehydration, and ‘revolutionary’ new diet strategies that suggest we eradicate all carbohydrates (and consequently endure sub-optimal brain function). P.S: carbs are life for the purpose of fitness/performance/overall sanity.

I feel somewhat hypocritical for writing this post, because I’m one of those to blame for posting regular updates, and parading the best part of my day on social media. However, I pride myself on being real wherever possible. Most body-related images are paired with a sarcastic caption, which confirms how great the lighting is, or how high my leggings are pulled up. For example: hereherehere and here.

I can honestly say that I have never edited a picture with anything other than a filter, whether that may be on Instagram, Lightroom or HUJI cam. A little bit of saturation and a smidge of structure to highlight any minor ab definition (I repeat, minor). Never once have I altered the shape of my body, smoothed my skin, or whitened my teeth/eyes (because apparently you can do that now huns).

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Exhibit B) This pic was the result of multiple glasses of rosé and around 30 other failed (yet utterly hilarious due to aforementioned rosé) photo attempts. Editing: Instagram only, NEVER ever photoshop. Lark filter + saturation for tan gains.  Just keepin’ it real.

So, what’s the point of this lengthy and arguably somewhat boring post? Something you’ve heard a thousand times before: be conscious of how you consume the information you see online. Remind yourself that your insta crush probably took 400 selfies, before photoshopping the hell out of her favourite one and posting it. There’s a very high chance that her butt isn’t that peachy and her skin ain’t that flawless 100% of the time (if ever). Take everything with a pinch of salt.

You are responsible for the way in which you absorb information. ‘Unfollow those that make you feel bad about yourself’: a narrative that has been widely adopted of late in the realm of social media. Ultimately, it’s true. Next time you see an image that makes you question yourself, or simply annoys you,  u n f o l l o w  (myself included, I’m fully aware that I can be v annoying).

Happiness does not exist in displaying the best parts of your life on a grid. Genuine contentment lies in the mundane, everyday stuff. Watch the sunset, spend time with the people you love, read a good book, learn something new. Instagram will only ever be, at large, an idealised and constructed representation of reality. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by information fed to you through the paradigm of a social platform.

Soz huns, that got deep. Love you.

Peace xoxox

Postnatal Exercise: When Can I Start?

 

Restarting exercise after giving birth can be a point of concern for new mums. A number of questions arise and, inevitably, the answers differ somewhat from person to person, dependent upon a range of factors.

Pelvic floor/Kegel exercises are very low-risk, and can therefore begin very soon after delivery, from the comfort of your own bed. I aim to educate my clients on these exercises during the prenatal period, so there’s no uncertainty  the immediate afterbirth stage.

In terms of regular exercise, with a natural birth, it’s essential to wait for your 6-8 week postnatal appointment. Any qualified practitioner should examine your stomach to determine the extent of abdominal separation (diastasis recti). This, alongside a number of other health-related questions, will determine how soon you’re able to get back to training.

Note: I’ve come across a number of GPs in Dubai that don’t deem it necessary to perform these checks (something that I disagree with entirely). As such, always ensure you are dealing with a qualified professional.

I’m not, in any way, trying to suggest my knowledge on the subject is greater than that of any GP. I am, however, confirming that any Dubai-based readers must take heed when selecting their practitioner. I’ve come across some questionably nonchalant attitudes towards the whole affair. If in doubt, seek a second opinion.

With a C-section, timings are slightly more delayed. You’ll need to wait for a 10-12 week check up, where the GP will examine how the scar has healed. All being well, you’ll be back to exercise no later than the 12-14 week bracket. This is, again, dependent upon individual circumstances.

For individual guidance/enquiries, email charlotteshelley1@gmail.com.

Be Selfish with Your Time

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It’s interesting that the word ‘selfish’ has developed such negative connotations. 

Narcissistic.

Egotistical.

Inconsiderate.

All synonymous with a modern perception of ‘selfishness’. What if we were to rethink the value of this trait?

There are never enough hours in the day. Whether our time is being consumed with social media, working our butts off to try and get on the housing ladder, or alternative millennial clichés. Whatever it is that’s occupying our time, it’s doing a damn good job.

Yet, we’re often criticised for saying ‘no’. Well, I’d like to undermine this tendency, and highlight the importance of putting yourself first. 

We’ve all been roped into plans we’re not wholly invested in, quite literally, in these instances, living for others. Of course, we have commitments to people; that’s natural. There will be the odd occasion where we have to do things we don’t want to. I’m not encouraging you to become an asshole.

Equally, I’m not asking you to bail on plans, or let people down last minute. That’s actually pretty shitty. What I’m getting at, rather, is that we should be more inclined to consider circumstances fully, before agreeing to them.

We live in an age of FOMO; a mindset that could ultimately lead us into a mindless cycle of overcommitting to others, should we let it. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’: what’s the worst that will happen?

Happiness will never be extrinsic. That night out probably isn’t going to change your life, and your friends (if they’re decent humans), will still love you if you decide to stay in and catch up on sleep, instead of going to watch that movie with them.

Protect your time, invest your energy wisely. Spend time with yourself, working on yourself, for yourself. Find contentment in your own company. Don’t undermine the importance of a little selfishness.

‘Why Do You Go Out So Much if You’re A Fitness Professional?’

Of course, I understand where people are coming from when they ask this question. However, I think it’s all too easy to place fitness professionals on a (in my case, arguably somewhat precarious) pedestal.

The phrase ‘practice what you preach’ comes to mind: how can I inspire others to be healthy (‘health’; that somewhat ambiguous and abstract concept, but let’s not get into that), if I spend the weekends with a cocktail in hand?

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Well, in my opinion, I’m practicing exactly what I preach. I’m 24 years old, and enjoy a night out as much as the next person. It just so happens that I live in a city where both food and alcohol are a prevalent component of most weekend plans.

Yes, alcohol is very calorie-dense.

Yes, I will probably go and eat an extra burger if I’ve had a few drinks.

However, manipulation is key: there is always a solution.

Here are a few factors I like to implement during a boozy weekend, in order to minimise the negative effects of one-too-many rosés.

  1. Always train the next day. Always, always, always. No excuses: you got yourself into this position, so ya better move ya damn peach.
  1. After point 1, you’re probably thinking I’m mad. If you struggle badly with a sore head and can’t face the gym, get out and go for a walk. I tend to train in the morning and then walk in the evening. I like to grab one of my besties, take to the beach (the countryside/city will more than suffice if you live outside of Dubai), and have a catch up. Before you know it, you’ve accumulated 10,000 steps, and you know alllllll the gossip from the weekend. Double whammy.
  1. Be clever with your alcohol choices. Ok, so perhaps rosé is ya jam (obvs). So, why not start with a couple of glasses of rosé, then switch it up to something a little lower in cals. Think spirits and soda (add some fresh lime juice if you need a lil extra pozazzzzz), diet mixers, etc.
  1. Don’t eat like a moron when you’re hungover. You’ve had your fun, now it’s time to reign it in a little. We’re fortunate in Dubai that we can get pretty much anything delivered, so if you’re feeling like a total lazy bum and don’t want to cook, opt for something fresh, as opposed to a dense, oily, calorie-laden fry up. You’ll feel better for it. I promise.
  1. Eat moderately less/move more in the coming few days. You guys know by now that calorie restriction isn’t my favourite activity, so I always opt for moving a little more. Either way, it’s about re-establishing an adequate energy balance (calories in vs. calories out) to avoid weight gain.

Weight loss requires a lifestyle overhaul: there’s no point at which the hard work stops permanently. Yes, you can ease your foot off the gas a little from time to time, but the reality is, you’ve got to be fully invested.

I’m a big believer in allowing clients to enjoy the things they love, whether that may be a pizza or a pint (or both, in many cases). The moment that fat loss becomes excessively restrictive, is the point at which adherence dwindles.

Society propagates short-term transformation ideals every day. But, ultimately, if you want to maintain any sort of positive development, this is a long-term process. Surely, then, it’s of utmost importance that we learn to manipulate certain lifestyle factors, in order to incorporate the things we enjoy?

Unsuccessful Fat Loss

All too often, we (the media, ill-educated ‘fitness professionals’, and probably your favourite health bloggers) target incredibly specific aspects of nutrition, deeming them responsible for ineffective fat loss.

Consider the image below:

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How many times have you heard someone blame one of the above reasons (other than number one) for their inability to lose weight?

The truth is, gluten isn’t making you fat. Sugar, likewise, cannot be solely responsible for weight gain (unless of course you’re eating in a calorie surplus, and 100% of those calories are obtained from sugar alone).

Nine times out of ten, if a member of the general public ‘cuts out gluten’ or ‘goes sugar-free’, they will lose weight. Why? Because they are simultaneously (and subconsciously) cutting out a huge portion of their usually stodge-ridden diet, and likely replacing it with a less calorie-dense alternative. Does this mean that gluten/sugar were directly responsible for making them fat? No, no, no. But the daily cakes, sweets, take outs that contain gluten/sugar (which the subject has now renounced)?  Now we’re talking.

Demonising specific food groups, in itself, demonstrates a lack of awareness on the subject, and it’s a practice that instils unnecessary scaremongering relating to certain aspects of nutrition.

Likewise, blaming basic bodily/hormonal functions for poor weight loss is (in the vast majority of general population cases) just plain stupid. Sally down the road isn’t overweight because she’s insulin-resistant, and your colleague Jeff isn’t piling on the pounds because he skipped breakfast, and his body is subsequently operating in ‘starvation mode’.

Let’s look at the reality…

What Sally didn’t tell you about her diet, is that she spends her afternoon snacking on ‘just a few’ biscuits in the office, which easily total 400 calories every day. Over the course of her five-day work week, that’s an extra 2000 calories. Consider that figure per month – a hefty 8000 cals on biscuits alone. But they were just a ‘little snack’, right?

Jeff, on the other hand, forgot to mention that he makes up for his lack of breakfast by ‘treating’ himself to a sausage roll from the bakery in the afternoon. And we all know that sausage roll tastes better served up with a full fat cola.

Both Sally and Jeff are, of course, completely metaphorical in this instance. But, I hope you can start to understand my point: people are all too quick to seek a ‘reason’ for being overweight, in order to excuse themselves.

Fat loss comes down to consumption and expenditure. We’ve been over this before (if you missed it, read more about the energy balance equation here).

The more you eat, the more calories your body takes in. If an increase in consumption is not met with an increase in expenditure, the energy balance is somewhat out of whack. In simple terms, the excess of calories will be stored as fat.

So, what’s the point in going over the same ol’ nonsense again, Char?

My point is this… We NEED to stop targeting specific food groups, hormones and everything in between, and get to the facts on fat loss. As fitness professionals, it’s our duty to address false claims, marketing ploys and downright stupid theories on the human body.

So, my message is the same as always…

  • If you want to lose weight, stop eating like an ass.
  • Consume good, wholesome foods: a varied, naturally colourful, fresh dietary intake.
  • Base your meals around lean, high quality protein sources.
  • Eat treats to maintain your sanity, in whatever way works for you. Personally, I advocate little and often, as I feel this is the most realistic and reliable approach.
  • Move. Every damn day. However you want. Just move.

One day, it’ll start to sink in. Promise.

Peace xoxox

Pre and Post Natal Series: The Posture Edit

Aaaand, we’re back with the second installment of my pregnancy series. In today’s post, we’re going to be focusing on the postural benefits of exercising whilst pregnant.

Throughout pregnancy, the body’s centre of gravity is shifted forwards, due to the increased weight of the baby. This adjustment increases the load on the mother’s lumbar spine. The below picture demonstrates the impact this places on the musculature of the body.

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For this reason, it’s crucially important for the mother to have a strong lower back before, during and after pregnancy. One focal point of pre/post natal programming is to maintain strength through the posterior chain (muscles on the back side of the body – think gluteals, hamstrings, erectors, etc) . This, in turn, helps to avoid lordosis (excessive forward tilt of the pelvis), which can cause severe lower back pain.

After pregnancy, the aim is to further develop posterior strength, in order to aid the restoration of normal, pre-pregnancy posture. As the muscles of the lower back become stronger, they shorten in length, providing much needed support and stabilisation to the lumbar spine.

For enquiries on Pre and Post Natal Training, contact +971 52 742 1966.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Trainer

Are you feeling uninspired, demotivated, or a little uncertain of what on earth you should actually be doing in the gym? Perhaps it’s time to get a little outside help.

Hiring a Personal Trainer could be just the kick up the backside you need. Here are a few reasons why…

  1. Motivation

It’s all too easy to talk ourselves out of exercise.

‘I’m too tired, I should probably get some sleep.’

‘Maybe my muscles need (another) rest day?’

‘It’s ok, I can just go to the gym tomorrow.’

Before you know it, you’re three weeks out of training, twenty seven donuts down and that bottle of rosé in the fridge starts to look a little too appealing.

However, if you work with a Personal Trainer, your sessions will be scheduled in advance. That, combined with the fact that you’ve probably paid in advance, should be motivation enough to get ya lil toosh to the gym. In short, a coach will help you to maintain consistency. No more excuses.

  1. Variety

Motivation from a coach extends further than just getting you to the gym. Each session will be structured to your personal requirements (and if it isn’t, there’s a 99% chance that you’ve hired a terrible PT).

It’s a coach’s job to ensure that any training regime is diverse, interesting and enjoyable. An individualised programme is likely to differ somewhat from the training you plan (or perhaps don’t plan) when you train alone. This variety can be crucial in maintaining focus and drive, not to mention helping to avoid plateaus in strength/physical appearance.

  1. Form

So you reaaaaally wanna do a deadlift, but you can’t hinge without hurting your back?

Perhaps you don’t even know what a hinge is…. In which case, it’s definitely time to get yourself some professional help.

In theory, no movement pattern should cause pain to an injury free, able-bodied person. If it does, chances are, you need to fix the way you move. A good coach will be able to assist with cues and guidelines you didn’t even know existed.

For Dubai-based Personal Training enquiries, contact me on 0527421966.

Juice Cleanses, Bone Broths, Skinny Teas: The Myths, Debunked

This morning, our work group chat went offfff. Someone shared an image that had been posted on Instagram, promoting juice cleanses and bone broths as a photoshoot diet strategy. Enough is enough. It’s time to call out the bullsh*t.

Firstly, I want to address the issue of social media itself. Our social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc) can be incredibly informative. However, with the rise of influencer marketing, we have to be aware that not everything we see is 100% truthful. In reality, I’d estimate that about 70% of the ‘health and fitness’ related content over Instagram is factually inaccurate.

Why? Money. It’s amazing what some individuals will do/say/promote in return for a little cash. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that this is some people’s livelihood, but come on… Let’s retain a little bit of integrity. Kudos to the influencers that only work with brands they genuinely believe in, you guys are the real MVP. However, far too many people are willing to promote ‘fad’ products, which have little-to-no value to the consumer.

On that note, let’s get to the nitty gritty. We’ve been here before. It’s a conversation that’s all too familiar for me now, and hopefully, it’s getting that way for you too.

Here it is: a single ‘weight-loss’ product is not an adequate diet strategy.

A juice cleanse is not a sustainable way to lose weight.

Bone broth is not the reason you dropped some body fat.

‘Skinny tea/coffee’ DOES NOT MAKE YOU SKINNY.

So, you want to go on that juice cleanse which is advertised to help you ‘drop 10kg in 5 days’… Firstly, let’s just point out that it’s physically impossible to drop 10kg of body fat in three days. Here’s what will happen:

  • You’ll drop some water weight.
  • You will lose a small percentage of body fat.

But… continue reading for the important stuff.

A juice diet, bone broth cleanse, or skinny coffee regime will not, itself, stimulate a reduction in body fat. Despite some very clever marketing strategies, none of these products have a mystical effect on your internal state. They will not ‘flush out’ your gut, or promote an increased metabolic rate.

The real reason you’ll drop some body fat? Because you switched up an excessively calorie dense diet (which made you overweight in the first place) for lower calorie liquid alternatives. Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking… Ah, so liquid must be important to lose weight then? Nope! Wrong again. The fact that these ‘weight loss’ products are liquid is totally irrelevant.

So, what does this all boil down to? Calorie deficit. This topic must be somewhat fresh in your minds, remember my post ‘Calories and Fat Loss’ a couple of weeks ago? Same same. But I’ll say it again (and seemingly again and again after that).

Fat loss occurs through a caloric deficit. Fat loss does not occur because you had your fruit and vegetables in liquid form. Fat loss does not occur because you drank animal broth. Fat loss does not occur because you consume skinny coffee. Expend more than you ingest, and you will lose weight. That’s just science.

Don’t be a sucker for consumer marketing.

Peace xoxox

Exercise and Adherence

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Let’s talk a little bit about adherence…

It goes without saying that sticking to something (whether that be a training plan, diet strategy, or something entirely unrelated to fitness) is a whole load easier if you enjoy what you’re doing. I have multiple clients come to me, claiming to ‘hate exercise’. Not only does this baffle me, it also annoys the helllll out of me.

Why? Let me explain.

Exercise is commonly defined in the following way:

‘activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness’.

But I want to break it down into even more basic terms.

Exercise, as I see it, is movement. It’s that simple.

Walking: exercise.

Gymnastics class: exercise.

Playing with your dog: exercise.

Tennis: exercise.

Kiss chase: exercise.

Spinning: exercise.

Wife-carrying: exercise (it’s an actual sport… Google it).

Evidently there are various levels of exertion involved in the above examples, but you get my gist. You simply cannot classify all forms of movement into one category.

So, you hate running? God damn, I feel you! But your hatred for running doesn’t mean you hate movement as a whole. Why not try something new? A dance class, an obstacle course, paintballing. Heck, get out roller skating for all I care.

Test the waters: it’s a simple case of trial and error. You’ll never exhaust every option. There’s an old saying that goes a little something like this: ‘When you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ The same principle applies to exercise… It’s much easier to sustain an active lifestyle if you enjoy it.

The body was made to move; don’t disregard its purpose. Find something you love as much as I love barbells, and maybe you’ll exercise with a grin (and double chin) as cheeeeeeesy as mine.

Peace xoxox