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

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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

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

 

Finding Inspiration

For me, inspiration and motivation go hand in hand. That being said, they don’t always exist naturally. Sometimes, you’ve got to get out there and find them for yourself.

I’m often asked how I maintain the motivation to eat good food and get my butt to the gym, so I’ve put together a few handy tips to help you find inspiration when you need it most!

1) Social Media Influencers.

Too many people focus on the negative aspects of social media, without appreciating its value. Fill your timeline with those who share the same interests as you – those who are already where you aspire to be.

If you’re looking for healthy recipes and meal inspiration, there are countless amazing profiles. Equally, if you’re searching for workout ideas, do a little research and discover your favourite fitness bloggers.

Don’t compare yourself to these people, but allow yourself to be influenced by their good habits. You’re much more likely to drag your perky little butt to the gym if your timeline is full of gym girls, than a group of old pals you haven’t seen for ten years on a drunken night out.

2) Utilising your own social media for good.

This leads on from my last point. Social media is more valuable than just selfies. Sure, the occasional progress update/sweaty gym snap is great, but don’t forget to also include quality content that can be genuinely useful to your followers.

We’re talking workouts, recipes, your favourite healthy cafés, or a new gym class. Even a motivational quote may be exactly what one of your followers needs to help them stay on track. By creating quality content, you’ll inspire others. That will, in turn, inspire you at the same time… I promise!

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You had a bad day, and ate half a tray of Krispy Kremes? Yep, we’ve all been there (except when it’s me, it’s most likely two trays of KK, a double cheeseburger and 14,000 bags of Haribo, but who’s counting anyway?).

It happens! Don’t beat yourself up. If you let a blip like this drag you down, it’s going to be much harder to re-establish the motivation to get going again.

Stay positive, and try not to overlook how far you’ve come. Get back on track as soon as possible, and avoid letting that cheat day turn into a cheat week, because it’s a downwards spiral from there. You’ve got this!

4) Tuuuuuuuuunes.

Never underestimate the value of a killer playlist to get you going. Music can totally transform both our mood and mentality. Find the tunes that make you feel like a badass, put your headphones in and zone out. It’s just you and your workout. Get it done.

5) Schedule your training.

If you’re a busy bee (who isn’t nowadays?), the best option is to allocate specific time slots within your week where you can go and workout. My recommendation is always to get up, get out and get it done in the morning, because that way, life can’t create nearly as many hurdles, temptations and excuses to interfere with your session.

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.

Why You Need to Start Weight Training

Lifting weights is often a challenging prospect for someone who has never done it before. Most women have never ventured into the ‘man cave’ that is the weights room in their local gym. Admittedly, it can be daunting to walk into a generally male-dominated environment and start lifting. If you can get over that first hurdle, your body will thank you later.

So many women are hesitant to start strength training because they’re afraid to get ‘bulky’. Fortunately, this is a misconception ladies, and one that needs to be shattered ASAP. Sure, if your ambition is to get bulky, lifting weights can achieve this with the right programme and a strict diet. However, your everyday woman at the gym doing her barbell squats isn’t suddenly going to turn into the incredible hulk.

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The truth about weight training is that it’s the door to a more lean, toned and defined body. I’ve listed some of the key benefits below.

Calorie Burn: In comparison to cardiovascular exercise, resistance training burns more calories. Also, after a heavy lifting session, your body’s oxygen demand remains high for an extended period of time. This is referred to as ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’, or EPOC. Whilst your body requires more oxygen, your calorific expenditure is also increased, so you continue to burn calories once you’ve finished training.

Metabolism: For me this is the absolute best thing about strength training. Building lean muscle contributes hugely to fat loss. The higher your muscle percentage, the more calories the body is able to burn whilst at rest. Yes, you understood me correctly: the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. Pretty amazing, hey?

Bone Health: Lifting weights on a regular basis aids in increasing bone density, which helps keep problems such as osteoporosis at bay in later life.

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Heart Health: Studies have shown that those who lift weights are significantly less at risk of heart disease due to a reduction of triglycerides, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

That Body: Unlike cardio, which helps you lose weight through reduction of both fat and muscle tissue, strength training helps you to burn fat and build muscle. This means you start to sculpt those curves you’ve always wanted; hello new booty.

Confidence: Resistance training will help your confidence endlessly. You’ll feel stronger and able to accomplish so much more. It’s pretty hard not to be happy with a new, lean and toned body!

Stress Relief: Personally, I can’t think of a better way to combat stress than a heavy lifting session. Rather than letting the little things get to you, head to the gym and smash out a resistance workout – afterwards, you’ll feel revitalized and ready to combat anything.

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BodyBuilding.com is a great website to visit for some inspiration. This website gives a muscle-by-muscle breakdown of exercises to try:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/workout-muscle-groups.html