Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fat pets, fat owners.

After watching this adequately named programme on Sky 1, I was again shocked by the level society has sunk to. The programme showed how a group of overweight people had created overweight pets through a combination of a bad diet and a sedentary lifestyle. One lady took her dogs for a 'walk' in a trolley' as they were too fat to walk. I was amazed that the owners were able to change their lifestyle as I didn't think the cat owner ever could. She was full of excuses and someone who I would never train. However, I was more furious that this situation happened in the first place.

Mankind has an arrogance in which our thirst to progress, learn and survive brings with it cancer, disease and illness. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are western diseases which can be prevented through diet. Yet we ignore statistics because we don't like wake up to the reality of our lifestyle choices. Imagine how animals would describe us on a nature programme?

"Welcome to our nature watch in which we look at human beings in their natural habit. They are a funny bunch. Despite major breakthroughs in science, they are a specie full of disease who have created synthetic foods which make them seriously overweight. To make matters worse, they are now inflicting their lifestyle on cats and dogs."

Agricultural advancements have overtaken the way our body has evolved. Whether we will ever get to a stage where we can tolerate heavily process foods is a separate debate. At the moment, all the evidence suggest that we aren't meant to eat a processed diet. The programme last week backed this up as there are now pet weight loss clinics. 40% of cats and dogs now have weight problems and weight related disease thanks to us. The participants on the show were unaware of the damage they were causing their pets by feeding them the rubbish they ate. We should be ashamed of ourselves need to admit that while we have the capacity to help the world, we do a good job in messing it up too.

Animals have evolved far less than humans so to expect them to live off our food is insane. I feel very strongly about over-domesticating animals and especially vegetarian pets. We have the capacity to make lifestyle decisions, animals don't. We need to be responsible by recreating some of the conditions they would live in. Cats don't have razor sharp teeth to eat vegetables with. Pets need exercise to simulate long treks, hunting and playing with other animals. They don't need toast, sweets and processed foods that cause us so many health problems.

Why the side step to animals? The programme highlighted the naivety that people have to food. It showed that we like to justify anything that suits us. "My cat is overweight but he is happy and I show him lots of love." We also need to realise that animals are not humans. It is bad enough that we are killing each other, let's not inflict our lifestyle on animals too.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

1-2 pounds of weight loss part 2.

If you follow my advice, you will lose fat. Clients who haven't over the years simply can't give up or cut back on their vices. Here are some of the key features which have enabled me to help clients lose fat over the years.

Nutrition. It is no good training hard then spending the next few days ruining it with high GI and high saturated fat foods. Keeping your insulin levels under control is one of the main factors which will help you lose weight and sustain a weight loss programme. Most processed foods and cereals are higher GI than their whole food cousins. Some 'health foods' such as health bars can also raise blood sugar and estrogen levels which make you fat. Alcohol also raises estrogen levels. It is pretty hard to overeat when eating the right kind of foods so learn what your body needs. Eat right for 4 days and have a day off or stick to the 80/20 rule (80% foods that are good for you, 20% treats). Make sure an expert determines what food is good for you.

Protein is crucial to your fat loss plan. Protein needs to be consumed first thing in the morning to ensure you kick start your metabolism. Skipping breakfast is a non-negotiable for my clients. Protein helps to regulate appetite as well as balancing out hormone levels. Protein helps to burn calories through the day as your body expends energy breaking down protein. The scientific name is called DIT (dietary induced thermogenesis). For your body to obtain energy from dietary protein, it must give up almost 3 times more energy than it needs for either fat or carbohydrates. Most people don't eat enough and miss out on these benefits.

HIIT. High intensity interval training is the main cardio that should be performed. HIIT raises EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is what turns you into a fat burning machine after your workout. During your recovery period, your body will burn fat more effectively than same pace cardio and also balance out hormone levels. EPOC can still be present up to 48 hours after your workout, so if you did it every other day, imagine the fat furnace you will create.

Resistance training (metabolic workout). Using weights is still the most effective way for your body to control weight. Some people may claim that the amount of calories burnt during a weight session is lower than that of a cardio session. These people should do one of my weights circuits or try German Body Composition training. Even if you are concerned with the amount of calories burnt during your exercise session, you will continue to raise EPOC through weight training more than through same pace cardio. Not to mention driving up testosterone levels, increasing lean tissue which increases resting metabolism and decreases muscle breakdown. Your body will also look better than if you tried to lose weight by doing same pace cardio.

Same pace cardio has a place. It is pretty low down the list of priorities for weight loss. We should be exercising at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes everyday. If we didn't use public transport or cars, we would easily hit this target. However, as we don't, we need to ensure that we get some light cardio in. Don't go mad thinking that the more you do, the more fat you burn (while partly true) there are a whole list of chemical reactions going on which will make it harder to continue to burn fat during a same pace cardio session.

Be consistent. People start and stop their health and exercise programme and say the programme didn't work. You don't get fit, burn fat or change shape in one session. It is multiple sessions combined with all the above elements that determine success. The days you need to focus on are the days you can't be bothered. The success of your programme will be dependent on your successful days outweighing your less successful days. A personal trainer, training partner or a regular bootcamp holds you to your intention and keeps your momentum. Weekend warriors are just as bad. These are people who try to burn off an over-indulgent weekend with an extra long training session. This is why gyms are at their busiest on a Monday and Tuesday. It simply doesn't work.

Know your areas of attack. Some people walk blindly through life unaware of the subtle subconscious attack they receive which makes them put on weight. The default in the UK is fit and healthy people get ridiculed. You need to develop a thick skin or find a new social group to have a successful weight loss programme. Recognising who are the key conspirators will enable you to ignore their derrogatory comments. You will be surprised the amount of clients I have trained who were constantly put down by their partners or family members.

Times are changing as marathon and triathlon participation is on the increase. Here is evidence of positive peer groups pressure. People feel more able to use marathon training as an excuse for avoiding the Friday night binge. So maybe training for an event will assist you in your quest to be fitter and leaner.

These are the basics. There are advanced combinations (sleep, time of training, size of meals e.t.c) which I need to use if clients are weak in certain areas. It might seem complicated but this is because we have moved so far away from what our body actually needs. Work on the areas you are weak, and be consistent.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Chickpea crumble

This is a great recipe for vegetarians or your vegetarian day. I have tweaked the original that I got from Patrick Holford's optimum nutrition cook book. You are not going to get a huge amount of protein since it's vegetable based. However, the combination of nuts and chickpeas provide you with a complete amino acid so your body can use it. It is also pretty tasty.


1 small onion
1 stick of celery
2 carrots
A tin of peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil
a little vegetable stock
A can of chickpeas
A pinch of ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)


150g oatflakes
100g wholemeal flour
3-5 teaspoons of pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons clod-pressed seed oil

Set the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5. Steam fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and olive oil with a little stock water for about 5 minutes until the veg starts to soften. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and cumin and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the crumble ingredients in a bowl with the seed oil until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Pour the chickpea mixture into an ovenproof dish about 15 cm in diameter and sprinkle the crumble over the top. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

I like to do a big green salad with avocado and tomato. There is no need for bread, potato's or other starchy carbs. This recipe is all about the ingredients. If possible, get your veg and tomatoes from a greengrocer, it will taste much nicer.

Friday, 2 July 2010

#10 Have faith

Faith can mean so many things to so many people. To some it can mean structured religion. Others may find faith in themselves. Whatever your interpretation, having 'faith' seems to get people through life better than those without it.

"Faith is what makes life possible...the alternative is a life that is empty and meaningless. Have faith and act on it today!" Anthony Robbins.

Studies have shown that people who had a faith were more likely to fight depression than those who didn't. In most rehab clinics, as part of their therapy, patients are encouraged to see their life as something bigger than themselves. They are encouraged to find a purpose for their life, as life without a purpose can exacerbate an underlying mental illness. Having personal experience of people with mental illness, the constant theme that runs through the mind is that no one cares about them, their life is meaningless and they have lost all hope.

New parents describe the shift when they see their child for the first time as "seeing your life as more important than your own." This in a sense is feeling a purpose to your life. Living it is another matter.

Every successful sports person will tell you that they had to overcome extreme adversity to get to the top of their field. It is hard to make it without talent. However, amongst the many talented people out there, there are always those who rise to the top. Either they had faith that they would get to the top or someone had faith in them to reach their potential.

"I learnt that it is faith that decides whether something will happen or not." Kaka (Real Madrid and Brazil footballer).

If you feel yourself losing faith or are having a Michael Douglas moment in the film 'falling down', ask yourself these questions.

What am I grateful for?
What do I want to do with my life?
Why am I not doing it?
What legacy do I want to leave behind?

I Hope you enjoyed the series.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

#9. Cut back on stimulants

After reading the last tip, this should make sense. Most stimulants are a short-term fix to a long-term problem. There are some reported benefits of caffeine to boost your workout, however caffeinated products used as a way to fight fatigue aren't a good idea. If you need a coffee to get you started in the morning, address the fact that you are tired and maybe need to get to bed earlier. Then enjoy your coffee!

Most people like a drink after work. However,have you ever considered that the enjoyment of feeling intoxicated is only part of what makes a drink enjoyable? Most people don't eat enough during the day, or drink enough water. By the end of the day, most people are stressed out, hungry and thirsty. A glass of wine or pint will temporarily satisfy all these cravings in one hit. Just the very thought should get you thinking about your beverage of choice. I'm not saying don't have a drink. I am merely suggesting that the drink is temporarily satisfying a list of other natural urges.

Most people who drink are addicted to alcohol. However, alcoholism is the prolonged excessive intake in which deprivation would result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Being addicted simply means you crave it and/or your body needs more to get the same feeling. Addiction is also habit forming. Your addictions are only highlighted when when you try to create behaviour change. The clients who are unknowingly addicted are the ones who tell me they want to get fit but will not give up their vices (alcohol, cheese, Pringles!).

I meet plenty of clients who have normalised their reliance on stimulants to get them through the day because it is considered an acceptable consequence of working life. It's like buying a car and gluing together bits of the panel rather than getting it fixed properly. For most, you are rolling the dice thinking your daily can of red bull can push back fatigue. Others aren't so fortunate and end up with more serious problems. Stimulants can also be a way to numb the pain of your life. Depression and mental health are a serious issue and don't get the attention they should.

Maybe write down a list of the stimulants/pain killers e.t.c that you take and see whether there is a pattern forming. Think about what was going on when you needed a cigarette or cup of coffee. Also get a professional opinion on whether there could be an underlying problem.