Making fitness easier, so busy people become stronger, healthier & happier!!
Imagine yourself 5 years from now, are you happy? Are you fit? Are you healthy?
What does healthy mean to you?
Do your current lifestyle habits align with your health and fitness goals?
There are all questions that you should be able to answer. As we get older, we spend more money on doctors appointments, hospital treatment and medication.
What we do today, will have an impact on that. In this section, there will be articles and tips to help you live a healthier lifestyle.
Many of us work long hours and have jobs that make our lifestyle sedentary. This causes health implications as we put extra strain on our body. Our posture and mental health can take a negative spin, unless we do something about it.
Along with those variables above, our blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat and heart rate will increase, whilst our flexibility, fitness and range of movement will decrease.
Being active, through NEAT or exercise, helps to release hormones and endorphins which not only help us to look good but feel good too, keeping our body in working order.
The fitness industry is always evolving, which is why we offer face to face and online Personal Training services.
Contact us today to set up a consultation where we will help coach you to a fitter, healthier and more active lifestyle.
You can’t reduce your daily calories if you don’t know how many calories you are currently consuming.
Many people will try to eat less to lose weight by reducing their calorie intake. This is correct, you do need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. There needs to be a negative energy balance where energy in is less than energy out. However, you need to know where your starting point is.
If you reduce your calories too aggressively and too much, you will affect your hormones, become malnourished and feel hungry all the time. A gradual increase to start is best.
Weighing your food, tracking the weight of it and improving your awareness of your current habits can have a really positive impact.
We all want instant gratification. We want results…now. But we need to understand that we didn’t gain weight overnight, so we aren’t going to lose it overnight either.
Doing the right things, consistently over time is fundamental to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. It is also fundamental to you losing the weight safely and not rebounding afterwards to put it all back on again.
Here are some basic but highly effective non negotiables you can set:
- Sleep for 7 to 9 hours every night
- Eat protein with every meal (1.5g x KG of BW per day)
- Strength train 3 to 4 times per week
- Drink 2 to 3L of water, every day
- Increase your daily movement (NEAT or step count)
- Focus on weekly improvement vs the previous week
I‘m not sure about you, but I’m willing to bet that, like me, you are your own worst critic?
When we look in the mirror, we expect to see a change. Why wouldn’t we?
You‘ve been training in the gym for 1 month now. You’ve tracked your food, improved your sleep quality and duration, but feel you aren’t making as much progress as you would have liked.
People tend to give up at this stage.
My advice, keep going - you are just getting started.
By taking photos before and during your fitness journey can really help us see our own progress. Journaling or looking back at our strength training log book has the same effect.
It gives us more discipline and motivation to continue. So celebrate the small wins and trust the process.
If you need help or support on your fitness journey, drop me a message today.
This is where we choose the all or nothing approach. This works for some but not for most, causing us to lose motivation and go right back to where we started.
First, start off gradually and try to replicate the basics. Second, layer these habits and aim to progress each week. It's no good hitting the gym and being good withy your food for 1 week then not doing it the next.
Consistently layer the good habits and the results will come.
Running is a great form of cardiovascular fitness. Not only is it physically challenging but mentally challenging too. I’m sure the readers reading this article will have a variety of fitness levels and a 5k for one person might be achievable but for another a challenge. The principles I will talk about can be applied for any distance.
Taking part in a 5k, 10k or half marathon event is a great way to challenge yourself or to have something to focus your training on. You may go one further and complete a full marathon, which take it from me, is such a buzz. Setting yourself a target and completing it will give you a buzz and a great sense of achievement. Here are my tips to help you cross that finish line:
Alongside the above, I would recommend running x3 times per week, gradually increasing the distance each time. I wouldn't worry about the time, it is more about getting the miles in the legs but focussing on increasing the distance and not the speed. The greater the distance, the greater the mental battle, so having a way to distract your mind when you run can often help.
If you are still unsure, do it for the amazing sense of achievement when you cross that finish line. You will be filled with endorphins, pride and accomplishment, there is no feeling like it. You’ll get the buzz, be happy it’s over then probably want to book your next one shortly after.
For specific training programmes to help you run your first 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon, please contact me.
Most of the time, we don’t. It gets very confusing, one person says to lose weight you need to cut out Carbohydrates, another person says you need to eat less then someone else says you need to exercise 7 days a week. As a fitness professional in the industry, I get distracted by the cool video’s, music and graphics, so much so that I question my knowledge, my 12 years experience and what I learned from my degree. I know my clients feel the same, when they tell me about a new trend they saw online and ask me if they should try it. Just in case you didn’t realise it yet, there is no secret to losing weight or achieving the body you want.
The fitness industry knows how busy we are. It also knows how much we want a quick fix and how we crave that instant gratification. We want results fast, even though realistically it took us 5 years to gain weight, we want it gone in 5 weeks. As a result, to try and cater to our demands, there are new products being created and added to the ever growing list of supplements and pills which you must take to achieve a certain goal…most of which you don’t actually need.
For the record, supplements can be a good way to compliment your diet and help you get the adequate amount of macronutrients and micronutrients, but that depends on the foods you eat daily and the lifestyle you have. You must find what works for you.
Moving on to exercise. It ‘should’ be fun, so if you like going to the gym or to an exercise class, great. If you prefer to go outside for a run or a cycle, great. Too much of one thing can be bad, so include variety in training. Similar to food, boring tends to be best. Sticking to a basic programme which includes compound exercises, strength based resistance and cardio is probably more effective than the HIIT workout you saw on youtube or the cool functional workout using battle ropes and slam balls. Again, it’s all relative to you and your goal but trust me, if you enjoy what you do, it will be more sustainable. If you do something you like, you are much more likely to continue and keep doing it. Join a football team, play a sport, turn your garage into a home gym. You must find what works for you.
Once you have found what works for you in terms of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits, you need to stay consistent. This requires discipline and hard work, but it doesn’t feel like that if it’s something you like to do which still allows you to socialise with friends and maintain your life balance. There are a few ways in which my clients stay consistent in making fitness a part of their lifestyle.
Understanding the above, can have a big impact on your overall health, mental and physical wellbeing and your life. Compare yourself to you only, because what works for other people might not work for you, so spend the time trying to establish what works for you. Then it’s just a case of being consistent and fitting it into your lifestyle.
I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. You have a goal in mind, you commit to the training and you know what exactly you need to do. You start strong, feel good about yourself and then bam. All of a sudden, around the 3-4 weeks mark, you question whether you are making progress or have set the right goal for yourself. You begin to doubt what you are doing and you stall, losing direction and motivation which can be detrimental to your results.
The good news is, this is very common. Think of it like your mind is playing tricks on you. When this happens to me, I make sure I have a few ways to measure my progress and look at the facts, without leaving anything to chance.
Below are a few examples, which can help assure you that you are on the right track, some of which you may be already using:
For me and my clients, it is incredibly powerful to know that you are making progress. Whether that is something as small as attending the gym three times a week when you used to go twice or doing 20 minutes of cardio instead of 15 minutes, that is still progress.
Here are three key tips, that can really help you…
First, you need to analyse your sleep, hydration, recovery, strength, cardio, nutrition, flexibility and identify which needs the most work. You could simply score yourself out of 10 for each one. These are the 7 fundamentals which I explain to my clients and they all interlink. If you neglect one of these areas, it could really hinder and impact your progress.
Second, hold yourself accountable. You can enforce this by speaking about your goal or sharing it with someone, even using social media. From the bullet points above (Eg taking a before and after photo to illustrate the changes made) you could show the differences on social media or to a friend. This helps with ownership because the more people you tell, the more you won’t want to fail.
Thirdly, keep the faith. There will be times when we lose direction or think we have hit a plateau. Go back to the 5 bullet points above and that will tell you if you are making progress or not. If not, change what you are doing. This could be that you need to increase the effort you are putting in or re-evaluate your goals to be more realistic and achievable but don’t stop, you got this!
Small progress is still progress.
Last month when I was in Swansea, I watched the Ironman 70.3 with hundreds of people swimming, cycling and running across our lovely city. If you are one of those people who took part, congratulations as it was an incredible event. I was in awe and inspired, not only by how many people took part but also the diverse ages of all the competitors. I’m a firm believer that you are as old as you think you are and in this article, I will explain why and how you can change your perspective on age, to help you live for longer.
Should you still be training and taking part in triathlons in your 60’s? Some of you might think yes, others might think no, let’s look in more detail. As we get older, changes take place in our body. Our ligaments (which connect bone to bone) and our tendons (which connect muscle to bone) can change and may not be as strong. There is the risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis, where our bones get weaker and more brittle. Our metabolism can slow down, resulting in us burning less calories at rest and therefore gaining weight. This can impact our cholesterol, blood sugar and body fat levels.
As our body grows and goes through changes, we tend to stop exercising and stop doing the fun day to day tasks like we used to. This lack of activity can actually accelerate all the changes in the paragraph above. But before I continue, I must add that it is sometimes inevitable that we are faced with challenges which stop us from exercise, such as overuse. If we have always been incredibly active, our bodies can be affected. In this case, it is really important you speak to a specialist who can advise you on what exercise you can do and speak to a dietician who can advise you on what foods you can eat which can help you.
Ikigai, is a Japanese word which means ‘reason for being’. In Okinawa, Japan, there are the most super centenarians still living on this planet. Their reason for this is that when they retire, they still have a purpose in life. This means, they continue to do:
Doing the above keeps the people of Okinawa active, mentally and physically. It helps socially with communication and relationships, it helps financially and gives them a sense of fulfilment. To these people, age is just a number and you should continue to live your life the way you want despite how old you are.
If you are over 50 and reading this article, doing strength training such as lifting weights can keep you muscles active and strong. Walking or swimming is a great form of cardio that can keep you heart healthy. And if you’re good at this or enjoy it, maybe you will be taking part in next years Swansea Ironman. This leads me back to my initial question ‘should you still be training and taking part in triathlons in your 60’s?
My answer is…yes. If your body allows you to. Not everyone reading this article will have performance based goals or be able to commit to the level of training needed for a triathlon which is fine, it’s all relative. If you improve your health or fitness in any way, you’ve done well.
Remember, you're as old as you think you are and it’s never to late to improve your health, fitness or lifestyle.
Invest in your health, to save your wealth.
You should take your body for a Fitness MOT every 3-6 months. This will identify any concerns. You should keep a record of the following pieces of information and try to stay as active as you can.
From these, a Fitness Professional will be able to help you with your goal and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
To carry out our day to day tasks, we all need a basic level of fitness. To carry the shopping in from the car, requires a level of strength. To walk up stairs, requires a level of cardiovascular fitness. Even though we may not think that we are fit, we actually need to be more fit than we realise.
Let’s think about it from another perspective. Imagine you are unable to lift or carry anything. Imagine you get too tired or too out of breath to walk up stairs. How would that feel?
Many of us compare ourselves to people with a greater social media following, to celebrities or sports athletes, to other people who we look at or follow. As a result, we then feel that we are far far behind. We feel that we will never look or be like that, which makes us depressed and demotivated. Can anyone relate?
In a previous article I spoke about how important it is to ignore what you see in magazines, on television and on the internet. The most important comparison is one you can make with yourself. Compare yourself to you and strive for progress not perfection.
Whether you work in a 9-5pm office job or whether your a taxi driver, if you spend time sitting down all day, you need keep active. What happens if you don’t? A lot of bad stuff can happen. Your weight will increase. This is mainly due to the fact that you’re eating but not burning so your energy expenditure doesn’t counteract your energy consumption. Another consequence of not keeping active, is that your blood pressure will increase along with cholesterol. At rest, our pulse, for most adults, should be between 60-80 beats per minute. This can increase if we don’t keep active, which means we become less fit. In terms of anatomy, this means our heart has to work a lot harder to pump blood around the body. Over time this can add more stress to the heart increasing it’s cardiac output and stroke volume. An increase in cholesterol will have an impact on our arteries, which transport the blood away from the heart, which may cause arteriosclorosis, leading to the parties getting narrower and a potential blood clot.
I often get asked ‘what type of exercise should I do?’ and that is a great question. One which depends on what type of person you are. It’s much better to do something that you enjoy, which is something you are more likely to continue to do.
Does exercise have to be walking or running on the treadmill for 10-20 minutes? No. If anything, that is one of the machines I limit my clients to, when they’re having a session with me. Anyone can walk or run on their own outside, right? If we associate an exercise like that with the gym, the chances are that we won’t enjoy it. We associate walking and running as a negative emotion, which makes going to the gym seem like a chore. Therefore, as a result, we will stop or give up. Can anyone relate to this?
After explaining this, the client then asks me ‘so what should I do at the gym?’
Firstly, you don’t need to go to a gym to be active. Secondly, you can choose a variety of activities that will get you fitter. Thirdly, choose something you enjoy, which doesn’t cost too much money and isn’t too difficult to replicate weekly.
One of my biggest satisfactions about being a Personal Trainer, is helping people make lifestyle changes. For me, I like to educate my clients. I want them to not only learn the exercises, what muscles they’re targeting with the correct form and technique. I want more than that. I want my clients and you reading this to make behavioural changes and better choices. How? By teaching and educating them how to make ‘being active’ a lifestyle change.
Ultimately this is down to our daily routine and what we do consistently. It requires discipline but like anything think about the consequences of not changing. Think about you in 5 years from now without change, how does that look and feel? Now try to visualise yourself in 5 years from now…healthier, more active, fitter, stronger, happier, motivated. How does that feel?
Small lifestyle changes like eating one vegetable a day or going for a 10 minute walk after work. Parking the car further away so you have to get more steps in to get to the office or supermarket. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. All of these are simple but effective. For more help on how you can increase your NEAT, get in touch.
In the meantime, start doing more, start being more active and make it a part of your lifestyle.
Most people would say it helps to motivate them, to structure their training, to achieve a specific goal or to make sure they exercise, because without one, they wouldn't train at all.
to aspiring Personal Trainers, I understand all of these reasons and more. But the reality is frightening as more and more Personal Trainers are putting people’s health in danger. How? I hear you ask. Let me explain.
Imagine you have to go to the doctor because you need an operation. Would you prefer a person with lots of experience or a person who is newly qualified? I have nothing against either but ask yourself what would you prefer. Then imagine if you could find out the doctors qualifications, would you prefer a person who has the proper, relevant qualifications or would you prefer a person who says they are qualified, but has nothing to back it up?
Here’s the thing…fitness is a big part of most of our lifestyles. The industry is becoming more and more saturated with Personal Trainers, which are not qualified or don’t have the relevant qualifications. Forget about obesity, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and bad lifestyle habits. Those will take care of themselves if we choose to follow the guidance of qualified Personal Trainers.
In other parts of the world, it is seen as being a luxury. As I visit many gyms across Dubai, to train my clients, I often see some very bad exercises and some very bad trainers. Some are demonstrating poor technique that can cause injury, while some are on their phones texting or on social media. Others are taking selfies or videos whilst training and some are just rep counters who count from 1-10. I must add, there are some very good Personal Trainers in Dubai but there are also some very bad and unfortunately these are on the rise.
How do you choose a good one?
My advice is to do your research first. Don’t jump to the conclusion that they are good ‘just because' they are in good shape themselves…that’s great, but can they TRAIN YOU? Don’t be afraid to ask to see their certificates or qualifications, this will give you piece of mind and you will be able to establish if they really are qualified from day one. Speak to their clients to find out about them as a person and as a trainer. Both are important if you are going to be spending time with them 3-4 times a week. This will save you time and money.
I’m going to leave you with a little quote, you can decide if you agree with it or not.
‘If you think investing in a Personal Trainer is expensive, try paying for hospital bills, doctors prescriptions, medicine and other health related remedies’
Many people will have their own opinion on what ‘being fit’ actually is. If you were to ask someone randomly, they may reply with one of the following… ‘it’s about how you look’
‘it’s about your body shape and how much fat or muscle you have’
‘it’s about how far you can run or how much exercise you do’
To me, fitness means ‘to be able to complete daily tasks without getting tired easily or getting out of breath too quickly’
So Nicky, what does that mean?
Well, everyday we carry out basic tasks. Some include, walking up and down the stairs. Some include standing in a queue at the bus stop or at the shop. Pushing a trolley around a supermarket. Running around after your young child. These are just some examples where we need to be fit. As we get older, we will not be able to do some of the above, because we are not fit.
When we do any form of movement or exercise we are working our circulatory system, where blood is pumped around the body by the heart. The blood contains oxygen which gets transported to our muscles to help us move. Our lungs also play a part here by helping the body to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
If were were to focus on our Cardiovascular system, by doing exercises or activities that raise our heart rate, we will then see our fitness improve.
Below are some tips which you can do to improve your fitness levels…
Initially, you might find yourself getting out of breath from doing some of the exercises above and that’s ok, as long as you are not feeling too faint or tired. You know your body better than I do, so make sure you don't over exert yourself. A good way to measure this is using the ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion scale’
This is basically a scale of 1-10 where 1 = easy, very light and 10 = exhausted, can’t do any more need to stop.
When you are performing any exercise, you can ask yourself this question ‘on a scale of 1-10, how do you feel?’ From the answer, you will be able to judge whether you are working too hard or too light. Then you can increase the speed or the amount you do. It is important to note, everybody is fit. Some more fit than others but fitness can change if you work at it!!
Check out my Instagram page for more tips and videos @nicky__fitness
There are many rules and regulations that we should follow and many decisions we have to make on a daily basis. So many that we often get bombarded with so much information, we don't know what to do with it. The important points are sometimes overlooked.
In this article, I have highlighted 5 key points which can be categorised as 'Common Mistakes'
Don’t go food shopping when you are hungry. This can be a big test of willpower as we are more likely to overindulge when we are hungry. Therefore we put more of the ‘bad’ foods in our trolley, more of the foods we want but don’t need.
We starve the body all day, then eat one big meal at night. This causes us to increase portion size and doesn’t give out body enough time to break down the food before we sleep. The digestive system can only break down food quickly if we eat often, which affects our metabolism. If we don’t exercise, this food will then be stored as fat.
We don’t drink enough water or fluids. We wait until our body tells us we are thirsty before drinking, which is the way our body tells us we are dehydrated and need to drink.
From experience in years of Personal Training, people will either be really good, training hard and eating clean or…really bad, not exercising and eating anything and everything. Small adjustments are needed for sustainable results.
We expect results too soon. Usually, on average it takes 4-6 weeks for your body to adapt to exercise. Therefore our fitness will improve. It takes 6-8 weeks for our strength to improve and 8-12 weeks for our physical shape to change. Trust the process, be consistent, results take time.
Each month a new topic will be written which will help to give you invaluable information, that can change your mindset and help you get more positive results.
If we take these tips board, we are more likely to see better results. Health is important and we need to look after our bodies order to live longer. Avoid these common mistakes and by combine a well balance nutrition plan with an exercise programme can help you get the results you want.
Check out April's edition of Outdoor UAE magazine for a better read.