Calories and Fat Loss

How many times have you heard a statement along the following lines?

  • ‘I need to lose weight, I’m going to cut out bread’.
  • ‘Ooh, no chocolate for me, that’s fattening’.

These statements are wildly outdated. Not only that, they’re damn right wrong.

So you want to lose weight? Let’s break it down. When it comes to fat loss, it’s about establishing the correct energy balance to align with your goals.

If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, consider the following:

‘Energy in’ = calories.

‘Energy out’ = energy expenditure (through tasks such as living, moving etc).

  • If energy in is equal to energy out, weight remains the same.
  • If energy in is greater than energy out, weight will be gained.
  • If energy in is lower than energy out, weight will be lost.

Energy-Balance-Diagram

So, as you can see from the picture above, fat loss boils down to calories in vs. calories out. In this sense, whether you decide to obtain your calories from chocolate or lean meat/vegetables is neither here nor there. Obviously, there is a logical approach to fat loss (which basically just consists of not being a moron), but whatever approach you take, calories remain as calories. Now, this is not me suggesting that you shouldn’t consume good, wholesome foods. Let me explain…

Your body does not have a magical trigger system to identify the calories obtained from ‘naughty’ (hate that label) foods, to immediately store them as fat.

Evidently, some foods (typically those which are also ‘hyper-palatable’ – v yummy and totally desirable) are more dense in calories. This means you can eat a much lesser volume, whilst still consuming a relatively high caloric intake. Other food groups (often classified as ‘healthy’ – think lean meats, veggies etc) are not nearly as hefty in calories. What does that mean? You can eat a whole lotta volume and still keep the calories low. In other words, you get a lot more bang for ya buck.

What am I getting at? I want to debunk the idea that certain foods are deemed to be ‘off limits’ when trying to shift some fat. Why? Primarily because I bloody love chocolate. No one should have to live without chocolate. Or pizza. Gal likes her food yo.

So no, dieting doesn’t have to mean absolute avoidance of all hyper-palatable foods. In fact, I’d personally argue the complete opposite. In my experience, the inclusion of more calorie dense foods, often identified as ‘treats’ in this context, can be highly valuable.

For me, and most of the clients I’ve worked with, a small, regular ‘naughty treat’ (for want of a more appropriate label) acts to maintain sanity. Look at the bigger picture: if a small bar of chocolate is going to stop you craving a big dirty binge, then surely that chocolate bar can be identified as a pivotal part of your progress?

It’s about establishing a balance that will keep you on track in moving towards your ultimate long-term goal, but also maintain your sanity in the short term. So, perhaps rather than searching for a single identifiable food source as the cause of your weight gain, why not look at the bigger picture?

Consider your nutrition as a whole. Chocolate or bread will not halt your progress. Weight gain will not occur unless there is a surplus of calories. So, providing you are able to establish a calorie deficit (through either moving more or eating less), then you will lose weight. It’s as simple as that.

In fact, it’s as simple as this:

Use your brain.

Don’t be a moron.

Eat your protein.

Don’t be scared of bread.

Your body loves micronutrients.

Don’t be a moron.

That’s pretty much it.

Peace xoxox

Absolutism in the Fitness Industry

Nowadays, the fitness industry seems to be the home of new trends, and everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon. However… They don’t just jump, they seem to leap head first, and lose sight of everything else along the way.

Consider the following:

  • Ketogenic dieting
  • Herbalife
  • Fasted cardio
  • Veganism
  • Dare I say it… CrossFit

fasted cardio.jpg

keto       herbalife

What do all of these health/fitness trends have in common? A cult-like following: a somewhat all or nothing approach. Now, I appreciate that this is one hell of a sweeping statement, and I’d like to point out that I have nothing against CrossFit… In fact, I bloomin’ love it. I’m merely using it as an example.

Back to my point, which is this: whilst the fitness industry broadens, it ironically, simultaneously seems to lose it breadth. As more trends become available for the consumer, the more immediately the consumer becomes literally ‘consumed’ by that trend. Am I making any sense? I’m not sure.

Let me expand in the simplest of terms…

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a ‘ketogenic’ dieter about anything other than the wonders of their keto diet? Me neither.

How about the bodybuilder that advocates only ever doing cardio on an empty stomach? … Because those fat stores wouldn’t be burned as efficiently if you’d eaten something beforehand, duh (sense the sarcasm, pleeease).

Cynical though this post may seem, I’m not attacking the actual trends themselves, per se. What I’m addressing is the idea that people misunderstand the value of variety. If you find success in one area, that’s great. Share your success, but don’t preach it beyond necessity. Why limit yourself to just one avenue, when there’s so much to learn from everything?

Your fitness journey is more than only ever attending Crossfit classes for the rest of your life (although that would be pretty damn great to me), or fearing carbohydrates in an attempt to reach a physiological state of ketosis. Who are we kidding, 90% of keto dieters don’t really care about ketogenesis… Y’all just wanna shift some weight! In which case, ‘keto’ isn’t required at all – calorie deficit is KING. But that’s a story for another day.

If ‘fasted cardio’ (or perhaps just a newly established overall caloric deficit – again… I’ll save that post for another time) has worked for you, congratulations. If you like to cook everything in coconut oil, great! But that doesn’t mean it’s the blanket solution for everyone.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… There’s no one-stop shop that leads to optimum health. To be open, malleable and willing to learn is essential. Don’t inhibit your progress by limiting your perspective.

It really is that simple, which is why I’m confused as to why people are so intent on being gobbled up by emerging trends. Consumerism at its finest, eh?

Just a little something to think about. Ponder away.

Peace xoxox

Review: Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes

If you live in Dubai and you’re searching for the ultimate cheat meal, look no further. Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, located in Jumeirah, is home to the most monstrous grub you could ever imagine.

We’re talking American-sized portions of the most dense, delicious and downright nawwwwwti food. This New York eatery is everything you could want in a cheat meal (and a whole lot more).

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 22.32.58

The Milkshakes:

Feeling brave? I hope so. Imagine the biggest and best milkshake you’ve ever seen… And then multiply that by a million. Stick some FULL SIZE snacks on the side of the glass (quite literally – none of this ‘miniature’ business), and jump right in.

The verdict: creamy, velvety, and totally worth every single sugar-laden calorie. If food could deliver you to heaven, this would be the one (in regards to both its tastiness and questionable nutritional value, oops).

We tried ‘The Cookie Shake’ and ‘Brooklyn Blackout’ (pictured below). I’m not sure what was more difficult… Deciding which drink to order, or overcoming the sugar high and consequential food coma caused by this demon of a shake. If you’re in Dubai, you’ve simply GOT to try one. No questions.

IMG_5232

The Burgers:

Admittedly, I didn’t actually eat one for myself. You’re probably wondering why the queen of burgers would go to a burger joint and only order a milkshake. Well:

  1. Have you seen the size of those shakes!?
  2. Only I could be stupid enough to go to Black Tap on a whim, just moments after having eaten a lunch of two chicken breasts and a whole load of sweet potato fries. Cheat day at it’s finest.

Although I can’t comment on how the burgers taste, one thing’s for sure… They look UNBELIEVABLE. Juicy, cheesy and super fresh.

15589813_746365312198006_8434038647780177276_n

No doubt I’ll be back soon to check them out for myself. Next time… On an empty stomach.

Find Black Tap in the Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel.

Fitness Life Hacks

These tips/rules aren’t necessarily just for the newbies amongst us. The seasoned pros can also do with a little help every once in a while.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a killer playlist. Those days when you’re just not feeling it (and even the days when you are), pop on some badass tunes and go be a gangsta in the gym. Get ya swag on. My go-to? Drake or Future – undoubtedly both way too cool for me, but they do the job.
  2. Buy some kitchen scales. No doubts, no guess work. If you’re tracking macros, accurate calculations are important, otherwise you’re not really tracking anything at all. Just think, there are 9kcals in just one gram of fat, so inaccurate estimations could take you way over your desired daily intake.
  3. Carbs are not the devil. No, no, no. They’re an essential macronutrient, and play a vital role in energy production. They’re also the primary source of energy that the brain uses to function (full blog post to follow on this topic, as there’s simply too much to say here). For now, all you need to know is not to fear carbs, or avoid them completely. Instead, research how best to incorporate this food group into your diet, to help you reach your goals, alongside your preferred style of training.
  4. Sleep sleep sleep. Both your body and your brain rely on a good night’s sleep to operate effectively. A lack of rest will leave you feeling flat, depleted, and unable to perform at your full potential. If you’re busting your butt in the gym, make sure you’re allowing yourself adequate time for muscle growth and repair. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
  5. Understand that the best way to learn is by doing. This industry is full of contradictions. One opinion undermines another on pretty much every subject. It’s unbelievably frustrating and will leave you questioning what to believe. The solution is to do your own research, broaden your knowledge and then put things into practice. Every individual body is different, and you won’t know what works for you unless you give it a shot.
  6. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with your training; change up your routine on a regular basis. If you don’t alter your workouts, the body will adapt and a plateau in progress is inevitable. Not to mention, you’ll soon become bored and lose interest. Mix things up, try a new programme – your body will thank you for it!

15 Gym Girl Problems

Whether you’re a newbie to the fitness world, or an avid gym-goer, I’m sure you can relate to a few of these struggles. If you haven’t been faced with these problems just yet, then take my word… They’re REAL.

  1. The moment when you unthinkingly pour boiling water directly onto your protein powder, and your proats consequently become a disastrously-textured mess. Yuck! (Fitness life hack: mix in the protein powder after you’ve combined the oats and water, duh.)
  2. The constant struggle between your love for peanut butter and the desire to have visible abs.
  3. Coffee or preworkout. Is it acceptable to have both? Probably not, but let’s do it anyway… BAD IDEA.
  4. *WHY IS MY SKIN TINGLING?* Oh wait, that’s probably the result of consuming coffee and preworkout at the same time. Caffeine overload – SEND HELP.
  5. Not being able to sleep properly because of said caffeine, and stressing because sleep is the home of gainzzz.
  6. The battle between the aforementioned need for sleep (for muscle growth and repair purposes, not laziness – obviously) and that 5.30am workout you’ve scheduled.
  7. When you get to the gym and realise you forgot your headphones. Nightmare.
  8. Let me just pull my now somewhat sweat-laden phone out of my sports bra. Oh great, did he just see me do that?
  9. Learning to accept DOMS as a part of your everyday life… Cannot sit down like a normal human being. Cannot get up without looking like a grandma. Cannot climb stairs at all. Cannot comfortably raise arm above shoulder height.
  10. Cancelling social plans that don’t involve exercise or healthy food, in order to exercise or eat healthy food.
  11. Owning 487,000 pairs of leggings, but very few normal clothes.
  12. Wearing the same 3-5 pairs of leggings most of the time, despite previous point.
  13. Buying more unnecessarily expensive leggings, so the other 487,000 pairs can sit in your drawer for eternity.
  14. Wearing gym kit all of the time; even when you’re not going to the gym. Judge me all you like, I’m free to high kick in public whenever I feel like it (always).
  15. Need to wash my hair, but haven’t worked out yet today. Is it acceptable to leave the house like this?

Review: Ivy Park

Let’s be honest… If you haven’t heard of Ivy Park by now, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. So when the opportunity arose to review some items from the collection (stocked by JD Women), I just couldn’t say no.

The brand, co-founded by none other than Queen Bey (yep, the Beyonce), aims to take you from the street, to the gym and back again – in allllll sorts of style. We’re talking lux activewear, at high street prices. The best part? There’s no scrimping on quality either.

img_3111img_3129img_3252

The Leggings:

Any gym girl knows what she wants when it comes to a pair of leggings:

  • A thick-but-stretchy material, which SURE AS HELL ain’t see-through.
  • The squat-proof guarantee: when we drop it down low, do the leggings stay up? Don’t want to be giving any onlookers a cheeky (pardon the pun) peep at your peach.
  • A chunky waistband, because it’s most flattering, and also contributes to extra stay-uppiness.

Check, check, check – these leggings have got it all. Whilst the waistband doesn’t have a tie adjustment for extra peace of mind, they’re reliable enough at staying up on their own, because of the resilient, almost scuba-like material. SO GOOD.

They’ve even got a pair of built in undies – seamless of course, so no VPL issues. What more could you ask for!? I mean, really…

img_3225img_3126img_3146

The Top:

An oversized fit, teamed with drop armholes and a statement print. It gives off the kind of gym-chic vibe as seen on your Instagram girl crush (you have those too, right?).

This piece (along with most of the collection, when I think about it) is all about the little details. The tape trim gives just the right amount of sass, and a monochrome colour scheme is always a winner in my eyes.

img_3200

img_3172img_3278

As a whole, the brand suggests a pairing of ‘technical innovation’ and ‘fashion led design’ throughout their collections; a very fair claim, I’d say!

I’ll definitely be buying some gym clothing from their collection (and you probably should too), stocked both in store and online at JD Women.

img_3116

img_3114

‘Quick Fixes’ to Weight Loss

I bet that title caught your attention, hey?

Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may have guessed what’s coming… Despite what you see on tv, or read in the media, there simply aren’t any quick fixes to weight loss.

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful models and Instagram celebs who promote these products; it’s amazing what some people will do to get a little cash in their pocket.

Trust me, these girls didn’t get abs like that by drinking three cups of detox tea per day. A strong, healthy body is the result of hard work, effort and determination. If you want to reduce body fat, you’ve got to put in the work. It’s that simple.

Here’s a list of key words that you may want to be wary of:

Cleanse: ‘purify your digestive system, with our three day juice cleanse’.

Hahahaha – nope. Consuming only juice is not a healthy or sustainable way to reduce body fat. Whilst your overall bodyweight is likely to drop whilst on a juice diet, this will primarily be water weight. It’s impossible to lose 10lbs of actual body fat in three days, despite what some very clever marketing campaigns will lead you to believe. Not to mention that reducing micronutrient-dense fruits and veggies to a juice depletes them of much of their fibre content – the very thing your gut loves about them in the first place… Work that one out.

Detox: ‘a miracle tea which will help you shift stubborn belly fat’.

Really!? No… Just no. If you believe these ludicrous statements, you’re the ideal target consumer for large corporations, who seek to make money through marketing ‘wonder’ products, which absolutely DO NOT WORK. Yes, a detox tea will have you sitting on the loo more than usual – so, again, you’ll shed a few pounds of water weight. But REALITY CHECK: your ‘stubborn belly fat’ (or any other fat for that matter) ain’t gonna shift as the result of a cuppa. Get to the gym, lift some weights and/or smash a short, high intensity cardio session. Done.

Low-Fat/Fat-Free: I’ve talked about this a lot before (check out my rant here), but it’s a fact that some people just can’t get their heads around. We’ve been driven to believe that fat is the root of all evil in the nutrition world, because people equate the word directly to body fat. However, fat will not make you fat. Fats are an essential macronutrient, which the body needs in order to function efficiently. Products stripped of their fat content are nearly always full of sugar and artificial ingredients, in order to compensate for the lack of fat(which is actually much more useful to our bodies than a whole load of chemicals), and make them as tasty as possible.

Protein: *WARNING* – just because a product is advertised as ‘high protein’, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy! There are too many ‘health food’ products on the market which are ridden with sugar and packed full of preservatives. The only way to find out is to always read the label, thoroughly. You know my rule by now, if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what the ingredient is, you probably don’t want to put it into your body.

So there you have it. Nothing can replace discipline. Stop searching for a quick result, and instead focus on the bigger picture.

‘Fitness’ is all-encompassing. There is no set destination, no end date. This is a lifestyle, and when you’re in it, you’re in it for the long haul. But trust me when I say, you’ll learn to love it.

 

Making the Most of Your Workout

As a Personal Trainer, I come across plenty of people attempting to lose weight, but going about it in the wrong way. I’ve come up with a few tips to help you make the most out of every workout.

1) Plan Ahead:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again). Getting to the gym with no session plan will lead to time wasting, and plenty of it. Arrive with a structure to follow – it’ll make your session a whole lot easier. If the machine you want to use is occupied, switch up the order and come back to it later. At least the session will be written down for you to see, so there’s no danger of mindblanks… We all know it happens!

2) Form:

Completing an exercise with bad form can make the movement much less effective, not to mention the extent to which it increases risk of injury. Deadlifting with a rounded back, or squatting with excess anterior (frontal) tilt places severe, unnecessary stress upon joints. To ensure you know how to perform exercises correctly, I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as bodybuilding.com), where you can watch a video that demonstrates perfect form. This will help you to gain more out of every movement.

3) Ditch the Phone:

You know as well as I do that taking a phone to the gym is the ULTIMATE distraction. Yet, we all still do it! Whether used for selfies or Facebook stalking, a phone simply isn’t helping you to get results. In order to maximise your time in the gym, leave the damn phone in your bag. You’ll survive without it for an hour…I promise.

Now it’s time to put these into practice. Enjoy!

High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training is a topic I’ve discussed before, but I’ve never dedicated a post solely to the subject. So, it’s about time for a little explanation! No doubt you’ve heard of HIIT – it’s everywhere nowadays. But for those of you that don’t really understand the concept, I’m here to help.

HIIT is an ideal form of exercise for those aiming to shed some body fat. We’re talking maximum calorie burn, minimum amount of time. It all sounds a bit too good to be true, right? Keep reading to find out how it works…

What is HIIT?

It’s a method of training which involves alternating between timed periods of high and low intensity. For example, circuit training with 40 seconds of hard work, followed by 20 seconds rest. The idea is to exercise at maximum capacity during the ‘work’ phase, before allowing your muscles to partially recover, and then repeat.

How does HIIT work?

Training at maximal effort shifts the heart rate into its anaerobic zone, meaning that muscles are forced to work without oxygen for a short period of time. An ‘oxygen debt’ is therefore established.

However (alike to all debts) this must be repaid; a process referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This is the increased rate at which muscles take in oxygen, after having performed strenuous exercise. The result? The body’s metabolic rate will remain elevated for hours after you finish working out. In simple terms, you’ll burn more calories whilst at rest, all because of that HIIT session.

The Benefits:

  • No gym? No problem! HIIT can be done at home. Basic, functional movements, such as squat and lunge variations (jumps are ideal), push ups and mountain climbers are all suitable.
  • HIIT doesn’t have to be hours long. It can be short and sweet – even just 25 minutes will do the job, provided you’re working at maximum capacity!

Now, get out there and give it a go for yourself.

Making Time to Workout

As a fitness professional, I’m certainly not new to the phrase ‘I don’t have time to exercise’; it’s something I hear all of the time. I get it, absolutely. If you have a full time job, or a family (or both… superheroes right there), then it can be difficult to take a little time out and focus on yourself. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important to do so… In fact, it becomes all the more vital.

Here are a few handy tips to help you find those extra minutes in the day, so you can smash a workout and feel great afterwards!

1) Get organised.

Buy yourself a diary, write out your plans and make a schedule. If you organise a specific time in the day for a workout, it’s much more likely that you’ll make it happen. I would recommend doing a session in the morning, because very few things can get in the way, such as having to work late, or last minute arrangements to see your pals. You don’t want to miss out on that!

2) Go to bed earlier.

A lack of sleep will leave you feeling lethargic and de-energised. If you want to have the motivation to workout and feel your best, optimum snooze time is 7-8 hours. Just think, an early night means that you can also wake up a little early, and fit in that much-needed workout to start your day.

3) Don’t train for hours.

A workout need not be excessively long. 20-30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is plenty. It’ll boost your metabolism and aid in fat burning throughout the course of the day! Not sure what HIIT is? Head over to YouTube, where there are plenty of real-time examples for you to try.

4) A workout doesn’t have to be in the gym.

When we think of exercise, we tend to think of a gym. For some, this thought alone is enough to avoid working out. In which case, try training at home. It’ll save you time and money. All you need is enough space for a yoga mat, as this is sufficient to perform a whole array of tough, fat-burning bodyweight exercises. Another top tip is to make use of your furniture… A dining chair alone is plenty of equipment – use your imagination!

Now, time for some tough love…

When it comes down to it, there are 24 hours in the day, and that’s the same for everyone. Admittedly, some people have more to squeeze into that period than others, but it’s all about organisation. If you want it, you have to make time. And I know as well as anyone that if you want it enough, you’ll make it happen.