4 October 2017

The sit stand debate uncovered




standing desks

We know the perils of sitting all day; which culminate in bad posture, tight weak muscles, poor core strength and back pain. But did you know there are also physiological responses to being seated as a result of fat deposition and burning less calories compared to standing relating to cardiovascular and kidney disease?

The case seems strong for getting up off our butts and working at a standing desk, however it isn’t all as clear cut as that:

Firstly given the choice to work at an adjustable height workstation studies have shown that after 1 month the majority of people are sitting! Why would this be? Perhaps because fine motor skills are easier to control when sitting because being seated helps stabilise the body? Or because standing in one position without movement isn’t very comfortable?

Actually standing without movement is not what we should be aiming for, it has long been known to cause varicose veins by putting greater load on the cardiovascular system. 20% more energy is required (calories) to stand so it should be a good argument for the case but most research points to movement being necessary whilst standing. Recently treadmill and bike work desks have found favour on mobility websites and the like, however sales are low and the desks are not receiving good feedback. Tests show that computer performance decreases (ie more mistakes are made) using this type of arrangement.

So whats the answer?

Well no need to go out and buy an expensive adjustable height desk, instead keep your seated desk but make sure you get up from it and perform some movement for a couple of minutes every half hour. Oh I’ve known this for ages I hear you say! Yes but the problem is that people get so engrossed in their work it becomes impossible to pull themselves away from the desk.

Sometimes a simple linking trick works for example every phone call needs to be taken/made whilst standing. Or every time a cup of tea is finished you need to stand up to take the cup to the kitchen and wash it. And for others this just isn’t enough, I have found a great website here  that has a selection of PC, mac or phone apps to download to remind you in various ways to get up and move about a bit…

22 August 2017

Stuck in a rut




gym training rut

The first thing to remember is DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP!!

You’re here now and for whatever reason your routine, motivation or satisfaction has taken a knock and you’re not training at all or far less than you want to. Maybe you have now run the marathon you’ve been training for all year, maybe the seasonal changes have affected you, maybe you got a new job, maybe maybe maybe….it could be a zillion things but you are better spending your time looking forwards than back.

I speak from personal and professional experience. You may hear people say ‘if you can identify the cause you can prevent it from happening again’ but that will not help you out of this rut. That may help you manage your life but to be honest if you identified the cause this time I betchya there would be a different cause the next time, and the next and the next….you are best to roll with the punches. Understand that life will toss you around a bit and that your training regime will take a knock and just get on with working out how to get stuck back in again.

All that said, how do you do it?

OK so lets assume you are mainlining Hagen das cookies and cream on the sofa binge watching Netflix; watching your recently gained weight loss/muscle definition/new trousers/delete as appropriate go to pot. You’re thinking ‘Ah well, I know I can do it because I’ve been achieving these gains over the past 6 months so I’m just going to enjoy myself whilst I can and then when the motivation hits me again ill get back on the wagon’

In this moment I want you to truthfully answer me this: Are you actually happy sitting there? How many of you can say that your stomach doesn’t feel bruised from all the fat and sugar you’ve been throwing down there, or that you don’t miss the DOMs and the post workout euphoria. Can you actually admit to feeling better slobbing out there than the agile, light, strong, lean person you feel (or are getting towards feeling) like when you are working out. Can you say that you are in control, that you have made the choice to sit on your behind shovelling one handful of food after another into your gob? Wouldn’t you prefer to feel on top of your game? Doesn’t it make you feel more virtuous, more in control, better at work, more productive, happier, more positive and upbeat?

Right so we’ve got an admission, and that is that your subconscious mind is playing a trick on you and actually you are much happier when you are working out. Stop immediately what you are doing and stand up. Go pack your gym bag and put it by the front door then place a healthy food order to be delivered to your house/work the next day; set your alarm for an hour earlier, fill your glass up with lots of water and go have a soak in the bath. Physically cleaning yourself may only be a psychological aid but it’s a cute trick to shut your subconscious devil up!

Go to bed early, feel excited, give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve broken through and tomorrow you’re going to reap the rewards. Don’t think when your alarm goes off, grab your bags and get to the gym/out on the road/your bike/your class…..its much better to get the first few sessions done first thing in the morning than after a day at work, it is less likely you will find an excuse to miss the session. Once you are back in the swing of it you can flip your times to suit you but I would suggest for at least the first week to aim for early morning sessions every time. That evening cook some healthy food, maybe even a couple of dishes to split out into Tupperware so you have some for the next few days and there is no excuse to slip. Start planning throughout the first week how you are going to attack your training and food this time, write things down, read about different training regimes. You may even want to start having a look now at what went wrong last time and put some measures in place. But don’t whatever you do BEAT YOURSELF UP!!

25 July 2017

Gym etiquette part 2




how to use a gym

Further to my last post I have included some further unwritten rules of the gym!

‘Mirrors’ – why are they there and how to not use them? The answer is pretty simple; people like to watch their form. Its easy when someone is telling you to tuck your elbows in or keep your back flat but most people don’t have the luxury of a personal trainer with them for each session and need to keep an eye on their form. Therefore whilst they are moving a very heavy weight if you were to block their line of sight by walking in front of them to collect your weights from a rack or have a chat or perform your own lift or even stand behind them distractingly so they can see you in the mirror – then this is understandably considered VERY inconsiderate.

‘Giving and receiving advice’ – A very common occurrence in gyms is for a so called experienced lifter to try to give advice to what may appear to be a less experienced lifter. In reality what this means is a bigger guy telling a smaller guy how to train. Or a man telling a woman. Because the currency in gyms is muscle size, those who are ‘rich’ feel the need to inform the ‘less well off’ how they got to their impressive size without even being asked for advice. If this happens to you my suggestion is to respectfully nod and shut the chat down and carry on with what you were doing. On the other hand if you are being given a piece of safety advice (or giving safety advice) for example – you are going to snap if you keep bending your back like that when you deadlift etc.. then you would be wise to listen. It is up to you to decide whether the advice is real or ‘bro science’

‘Dropping weights’ – why would you do this if not to alert attention to yourself or because the weight is too heavy for you to perform your last rep eccentrically do place the weight on the floor? Its pretty simple; unless the weight you are lifting is comprised of Olympic plates (aka bumper plates) then DON’T drop them! Bumper plates have a special rubber coating and are used in Olympic lifting; they do get dropped at the end of some of these types of lists to enable the lifter to get out of the danger zone quickly after a lift. If you are not doing this with this kit and dropping weights then you are doing it wrong, damaging, kit, and the gym floor as well as looking like a complete idiot.

‘Its too heavy for you’ – the last point today is less of an etiquette and more a reminder: you will develop more lean muscle if you overload your muscle fibres using the muscle groups the exercise is designed for compared to a bit of gravity, a bounce and/or jump. What do I mean? Unload the bar, move the pin down the stack, take a lighter set of dumbbells and perform the lift with perfect technique for your prescribed number of repetitions….then and only then move up to the next weight.

17 July 2017

Gym etiquette – part 1




weight lifting in gym etiquette

If you are new to the gym environment this post is probably worth a quick read. If you go regularly to the gym there are about 50% of you who need to read this too!

  1. The most reported gym etiquette fail by gym owners and staff is that of the ‘Untidy lifter’ – the one who does not place all the weights back onto the racks and stands after he/she finishes with them. Don’t be this person, its rude, thoughtless to staff and other gym users and can be enough to deter others from using a machine if you are a strong person, as less strong gym members can sometimes have a workout unloading a machine you left fully stacked with 20kg discs!
  1. ‘Working in’ – my personal hatred and the most misunderstood rule of gym etiquette. It came about because gyms usually have very busy periods between 6-8pm where they cannot commercially justify fitting enough gym equipment to service all members. To avoid dead time in a session weight lifters decided on an approach where you ask the person using the machine if you can work in with them. This means that during their rest you lift and vice versa. Hypothetically this works well in a ‘lifting’ focused gym with 2 people lifting a similar weight, training at about the same pace, performing simple sets (i.e. – a lift followed by a rest period then a lift and a rest etc…). In reality you often see young hench guys butting into smaller guys or gals sets in a ‘health club’ type gym. They need to change the weight every time they want to lift, getting in the way of the flow of the less strong person and eventually pushing the less strong person away through embarrassment or because that person cant be bothered with all the fiddling about and has lost their focus.

There really isn’t any excuse for this, the gym is a place for everyone and this working in approach needs to be handled with an etiquette, here’s how to do it right: The first thing to ascertain is: ‘is there anything else I can do that will replicate that lift instead?’ if the answer is no and you absolutely need that piece of kit ask yourself this ‘ how is the person on it currently using it?’ if the answer is as a simple set and in-between they are staring into space or poking their phone then things are looking good, but if they are super setting or timing themselves or using the kit for a different exercise in a rest period or any number of other types of protocols that involve precise timing they need to get back onto that piece of kit then respect that and WAIT.

Next, check what weight they are lifting, if the weight is very different to yours then WAIT but if you think you could work in without too much faffing changing weights, or none at all then maybe it could work.

So if at this stage all is looking good the next move would be to stay away from them until they have a rest, do not float around close to them staring at them (see next point), simply ask them if they would mind if you worked in. Allow them the opportunity to refuse you.

And then work in quietly without disturbing their flow, make eye contact, perhaps smile or say ‘yours’ every time you put the bar down so they know you are finished.

  1. ‘Waiting’ – for kit is an art. Obviously if there are a few people who need the kit after the current user is finished, you will need to use it in the order you came to wait…..like a very British queue system! But you need to achieve this without putting off the person who is using it, so you must NOT circle him/her, hang around in the corner of their peripheral vision staring at them, or stand next to them or in front or behind them! You must wait (or better still find another exercise to do to fill the gap) patiently without making the user feel intimidated or like they must rush and without breaking their focus. If needed you can even say to the others who might be waiting to use it; “I am waiting for this piece of kit next”

I could write a lot more here, but I will keep this post short (ish) and continue in a second post…

10 July 2017

How to train in hot weather




brightonfit training in hot weather

There are a number of reasons why you might want to train outside in 30+ degree heat. Firstly it being that hot in this country would indicate summer; in other words shorts and t-shirt weather so of course you would want to ensure your bikini body is buffed, honed and ready for the season! For the vast majority of us we try not to let weather, good or bad, affect our training too much. In this country its often motivation we require to get out in the lashing rain, however at the moment its more like sanity we require to get us out in the heat! So how do you best achieve your training goals without overheating or collapsing?!

There are a few methods that work, you can adopt these on hot holidays too, training at the crack of dawn is the one that most consistently delivers a good session without impacting too much on quality or the rest of your day! At the moment (July) sunrise is approximately 5am; if you are an early bird this is the best time to train, however if there is no chance of getting yourself out of bed this early you probably have 3 hours realistically before it heats up to about 25 degrees and is a little too hot to train in the sun for most people. If your session is a circuit or mat based, obviously if you find a shady spot you can probably train at most points throughout a hot day, in particular if you find a breezy spot. But I am really referring to an outdoor running, cycling, rowing or tennis type session. Once the temperature rises beyond 25 degrees your performance in the heat for a sustained period of time is going to be detrimentally affected, even with an adequate level of hydration you will be unlikely to perform optimally.

Evening training sessions also have the advantage of being a cooler part of the day to train in, however you will need to wait until after 8.30pm really for the sun to down and the heat stored in the land to begin to dissipate before you can really push yourself without feeling ill effects of heat. Even then, I find the morning coolness is much easier to train in than the evening coolness.

If these guidelines are not possible to stick to and you find yourself in the heat having to train then DO:

  • Wear a hat ideally with a peak to shed your forehead and eyes
  • Wear sun cream
  • Hydrate with water or an isotonic fluid to replace sweat, drink every 20mins
  • Try to keep your session under 90minutes
  • Wear wicking clothing to take the sweat away from your body
  • Wear as much white clothing as possible to reflect the heat
  • Try and find a breezy location to train so that the sweat can evaporate more quickly and cool the body most effectively
  • Try and keep moving; at the very least the air resistance with allow more sweat to evaporate rather than standing still in an airless spot.

20 May 2017

Why setting goals is important




brightonfit training plan

 

There are two ways to incorporate exercise into your life. The first is as a pleasurable pastime; the idea that you get joy from using your muscles and working your heart. The second is in the pursuit of a fitness or strength related goal for example a marathon.

When you incorporate exercise into your life for pleasure you sub consciously build in the flexibility to cancel…. why? Because you can. You have no one to meet, no one to be accountable to, no frequency of attendance or measure of intensity is built in to your exercise, you simply exercise for the pure pleasure of it and lets face it there ‘aint many of us who can attest to that being very motivational!! Especially not if you are reading these pages!!

If you’re setting a goal there are some tricks to make sure you are successful. The first and most important is make sure you factor in enough time to sensibly train for your feat. It doesn’t matter how massive your goal is, if you don’t plan enough time to get there you aren’t going to get there. The next thing about goal setting is to make sure you don’t train for a goal more than 3-4 months in advance; why? Because you simply cannot stay that focused for that long. So what if my goal is massive and I need a year? Well the answer would be to break it down into 3 smaller goals each on building up to the big final goal. That way you just maintain focus for a third of a year per goal.

And finally; make sure you pick a goal that means something to you, don’t use someone else’s goals, make your own. You have to want to get to the end so bad that when its raining outside and you’ve planned your sprint session you don’t have any excuse not to get out there and do it.

25 April 2017

How to do the 5:2 diet




how to do the 5-2 diet

 

If you read this blog you will know I don’t think much of diets, diet foods, the diet industry and so on.

I have good reason of course because I deal with people struggling with weight loss on a daily basis and feel that the diet industry does more damage than good. In fact I don’t really see much good done at all within the industry…except in a few instance; when people become accountable to one another in a group situation where the mutual goal of the group is healthy eating and wellness. Or in situations where individuals are educated and start to take responsibility for their own eating and learning. These 2 weight loss strategies I am a fan of.

And to some extent I feel that the success of the 5:2 diet is not in its scientific construction but due to the fact that it forces people to count calories and understand what adds up to what. In a week because of this their total calorie consumption is marginally lower than what it had been and therefore these people loose weight. Because the calorie reduction is only marginally lower than their previous intake they have not crash dieted and therefore tend not to re-gain the weight. Added to this they tent to keep this pattern of eating up furthermore they have educated themselves along the way by having to add calories for such a period that they cannot help but make better choices further down the line. It is a win win win eating plan

….you do not need to buy the books through. In fact if you buy the books in my opinion you loose one of the wins which is huge, because you don’t educate yourself on what meals can make up your 500kcal day and instead you rely on someone else’s knowledge.

 

28 January 2017

Weight loss; which works best exercise or diets?




brightonfit bodyfat

If your body shape falls towards or beyond the right hand side of these sets of images (approx. over 25%) and you are reading this then you are probably interested in the answer to the question of exercise vs. diets.

I’ll try and amass the vast swathes of research done in this field here: Firstly with respect to diets there is simply no diet that works better for fat loss than another; what makes a diet ‘successful’ is one that is adhered to over time. So whatever you can stick to is what will provide the most result. The reason I have highlighted the word success is that by its nature a diet is usually a short term program and what we see has the most success is sustainable (i.e. long term) modifications to ones diet.

So let us consider that verses exercise and take a look at what has the most effect. The best way to consider which of these has the most effect is to compare the results using the same currency. If we consider the body as a physiological entity then we are talking about calories. When we look at how many calories our bodies require on a 24hr cycle we see the majority are needed to operate internal functions such as breathing and metabolising our food (BMR). Only a small percentage on top of this would be burned in an exercise session. Therefore the effect of exercise alone on immediate calorie expenditure is heavily diluted by all the other calorie expenses of the body; you can see your calorie requirement and BMR here.

However in most forms of exercise you build lean muscle either as an intent or a by product depending on your session choice; and here is where exercise wins in the comparison to diets. Lean muscle burns lots more calories than other tissue types and so whilst it is not an immediate effect on calorie expenditure by the body a long term effect of exercise does result in more calories (and therefore fat) being burnt.

So what about diets; or as we said earlier changing your diet? Well if the answer is consistency you have to ask yourself “Can i live like this?” and if the answer is no then you have made your changes too strict and you must change them to be more realistic. If you can keep a food diary this will really help, studies show that what people are notoriously bad at is estimating the calories they eat. If you start with a diary and a calculator you can tot up your intake accurately and wont leave anything to chance. As you gain experience you can probably start trusting that your estimations are accurate, but its worth checking in every now and again to ensure you have not drifted!

A couple of tips that can help you stay on the straight and narrow:

1 = Never eat lunch out unless someone else is buying! This is pretty simply a filtering mechanism to prevent you eating food that you have not prepared but is a good way to remind yourself.

2 = A couple of minutes a day with your food diary is more valuable than 30 mins in the gym.

 

4 January 2017

So what really works?




New years resolutions with Brightonfit

 

Of course we all make New Year resolutions with the best of intentions; gym membership sign ups are at an annual high and January is the most popular month to go ‘dry’. BUT the once busy January gym floor is back to its usual regulars only by March and those who abstained from the booze resume normal drinking habits around this time too. So how do you get resolutions to stick?

The answer is not to change the resolution but change the approach you take to achieve them. If you look at those around you who are positive, happy, successful and in control of their health you probably wont find many of the achieved these life goals overnight. They usually chipped away at them over a period of time and most likely suffered downs as well as ups along the way as life buffeted them around.

We must expect the same when we set fitness/weight loss/health goals and not beat ourselves up when we are beset by adversity. Gaining a pound on a weight loss plan not the end of the world and certainly is not a reason to stop trying. Not hitting a PB in a training session does not mean your not making gains overall, its just not your day. The trick is to stand back and look at your overall progress, you did not get to this place that you are trying to improve from overnight; it took years for you to gain this weight/loose fitness you once had/feel unhealthy (delete as appropriate, or tick all 3!) and you certainly cannot expect to change it all in January.

So my advice to you would be resolve to change your expectations for 2017. Good luck

31 October 2016

It’s all in your head ‘love’




brain

Recently I was approached by a desperate friend whose daughter is overweight and about to leave home to go to University. Worried the daughter would go off the rails having left the supportive environment of her family home, we discussed her options.

Weight gain is a really tough one; both for the individual and for their loved ones. No one likes to see someone they care about becoming unhealthier, missing out on activities because they are too overweight, feeling terrible about themselves and loosing self-esteem or possibly having work issues. Added to this list and more, people stigmatise the overweight; society is conditioned to align beauty and success with slim people.

The solution, however as I explained to my friend, is not in a healthy education although this helps with the ‘rehabilitation’ part but in resolving the root of the overeating. And this is almost exclusively a head issue, which needs careful and professional (often) dissection, exposure and resolve before it can be eradicated in a way that means it won’t bounce back next time that person feels down, unloved, vulnerable or alone. Because there is a better therapy than food and that is self-love….

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