How to avoid piling on the xmas pounds..


How to not pile on the pounds over xmas…


If Christmas was really only one day then we wouldn’t really need to worry about piling on the pounds, but as Santa arrived at Harrods about a month ago and the lights have been on at Oxford street since mid-November. This is the reason we tend to expand over the festive season.


Ok, so get all the excuses out of the way… it’s cold outside and I need some comfort food, I need some extra blubber over the winter to keep me warm, I’ll just go for an extra run this week , I always put on weight over Christmas, that’s just the way it is.


The big culprits of putting on weight over Christmas


Booze: We always have so many extra parties in the calendar over Christmas that involve drinking. Before you go, tell yourself how much you are allowed to drink. Stay away from the mixers such as coke, lemonade etc as it’s fully packed with sugars or sweeteners. Eat before you go so you are not tempted to eat rubbish throughout the night or even on the way home. You make much worse decisions after a few bevies and your goals don’t seem quite as important. Mulled wine- have you ever made this? Do you know how much sugar is in it?

Cakes: Mince pies, chocolates, Christmas cakes/ puddings. Just say No or at least just wait until Christmas day. One extra little treat a day over a week can cause an extra 3000 calories in your diet, which is an extra day and half worth’s of food!

Starbuck gingerbread lattes and other hot yummy drinks! You can’t help feeling festive when you sit down with one of these followed by one of their muffins, but you could be packing away a good 6-700 calories before you even take a bite of the muffin. As you know I am not generally interested in counting calories, its more about what type of calories you eat, but a hot chocolate with cream and a white chocolate and raspberry muffin has very little nutritional value. Your body will just deposit the fat right on your hips about the same time it sends you into a sugar crash and craving the same again.

A few little tips:

·         Take your time to eat. As I mentioned last time it takes about 20 mins for the signal that you are full to reach your brain, but quite often we have already reached for a second serving or a massive piece of Christmas pud.

·         Don’t skip meals. Make sure you eat before you go out, otherwise you will end up binge eating later.

·         Get moving. It is inevitable that we will consume a bit more over the next month at the various events. I love Christmas so make the most of it before January sets in. But as this is the case you will need to up your exercise. Make sure you are doing at least what you currently have in the weekly diary. Get another session in with me or sign up to an extra class at the gym, get off the tube a stop early and start to walk further, always take the escalators/ stairs, get on your bike with the kids for the afternoon.  Go for a walk after your Christmas lunch ineatd of vegging on the sofa and nibbling for the rest of the day.


·         Avoid stocking up on the carbs. Pile up your plate with meats, fish other protein and veg and you won’t crave the sweet stuff as much.


·         It is so much harder to shift that extra weight in January, when the nights are dark, cold and everyone is suffering from post-holiday blues. Getting yourself out for an extra run and not eating comfort food is much tougher at this time, especially if you have lost sight of your goals from putting on weight.



Decide now how you are going to deal will the Christmas booze and food situation. Make a goal of your measurements at our first session in January, what you are allowed and not allowed. Be realistic as you still want to enjoy the parties. Include how much exercise you will be doing. Even better sign up for an event in January/ February or March that you will need to start getting in shape for. Many of you have mentioned signing up to your first 5 or 10km race, so this would be the best time to commit. There is nothing like having a target/ event to keep you motivated through the rivers of mulled wine and hot cider.

Listen to your belly

Listen to your belly


As I mentioned in the last newsletter, losing weight doesn’t need to be a complicated science, for 95% of us it is just eating less, eating better quality food and doing more exercise. This newsletter is focusing on eating less. It’s not rocket science, but if you eat less you will lose weight right.

We have two hormones that if we listen to, will help us drop some pounds.

Ghrelin: Ghrelin is a hormone that is released by the cells that line the stomach. It lets us know when we are hungry as levels increase when we haven’t eaten for a while and decrease following food intake. Ghrelin release becomes aligned to our eating routines, so if you typically snack all day, then your body will become used to this and will release ghrelin to let you know that you normally eat now. Bad habits are hard to beat but can be beaten. We have all heard the old phrase it takes 21 days to form a habit. It’s true. If you stop drinking wine every day/ eating chocolate at 3pm or always going for a second serving for 21 days you will no longer have that habit.

Ghrelin also works with the reward sensors in the brain, which are linked to addictions and cravings. So if you normally have a chocolate bar mid-afternoon, your brain will tell you it’s chocolate time again and cause the craving. You don’t need it and if you stay strong you can beat these cravings, set new healthy habits.

Leptin: Leptin is an appetite suppressant. It basically tells us that we are full and should stop eating. One of the problems with leptin is that it can take 20 minutes to reach the brain to alert us to stop eating. As many people eat food on the go or in front of the TV, we eat too quickly and don’t wait to see if our body is satisfied. Before we know it we are reaching for a second helping or a desert, which if we waited we wouldn’t crave.

You can also become leptin intolerant. By not listening to the leptin response and continuing to over eat the brain becomes less sensitive to leptin and doesn’t send the full/ satisfied signal. Leptin intolerance is caused by eating too much, too quickly and eating poor quality foods. It is thought that leptin intolerance is one of the main reasons of our ever increasing obese nation.


A few tips to help you work with your ghrelin and leptin levels?

1.       Act early on hunger. The longer you wait, the more desperate you will be come and the worse choices you will make.

2.       Develop a routine of 3 meals a day.

3.       Take time to eat. Move away from your computer at work or your TV at home while you are eating. Wait at least 20 minutes and then ask yourself do I need more food. 95% of the time the answer is no.

4.       Use a smaller plate. Portion size is again another habit.

5.       Get a good 7-8 hours sleep a night. If you deprive your body of sleep you will crave food when you are not actually hungry. Lack of sleep upsets your ghrelin and leptin levels. If you haven’t had enough sleep you will tend to feel hungry and crave carbohydrates.

6.       Reduce or avoid starchy carbs (pasta, rice, breads, wheat, cereals) as these lead to high blood sugar levels and then a sugar crash causing a craving for more.

7.       Make sure your meals are stacked with nutrients. Meals that lack nutrients (starchy carbs) will stimulate your body to source these nutrients leaving you with a lack of satiety and craving.

Triggers of weight gain

Triggers of weight gain


Regulating your insulin levels

Everything I promote with regards to weight loss always comes back to regulating your insulin levels. I have spoken about this many times before in my blog But here is a quick recap.

After consuming a meal, digestion occurs; the carbohydrates are broken down into sugars and released into the blood stream via the small intestine. The elevated blood sugar levels trigger the pancreas to release insulin to help regulate the blood sugar levels. Insulin causes the cell walls of the muscles, organs, fat cells etc to become permeable to glucose (sugar). The glucose is transported into the cells and stored as triglycerides/ fatty acids, which can be later used as energy. In order to lose body fat you need to reduce the amount of insulin released throughout the day as this will reduce the amount of sugar being converted into fat.

Once the sugar has been transported into the cells and stored as fat, we want the fats to be broken down and utilised by the body instead of staying stored as fat on our hips, thighs, bellies etc. There is a protein that is responsible for this function called hormonsensitivelipase. This protein breaks down the fats, which are then released and can be metabolised by the body. When there are high levels of Insulin in the blood, this inhibits the function of hormonsensitivelipase and therefore prevents/ reduces the breakdown of fats in the cells, which results in weight gain.

Another way of increasing the function of this hormone is exercise. It is thought that exercise increases the activity of hormonsensitivelipase.

Where are you storing fat?

An increase in your insulin levels can cause fat storage around your hips and around your shoulder blades. So if you suffer from muffin tops and back fat this may be you!

If you are storing fat around your belly you may also be insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is when the cells no longer respond or become less sensitive to the release of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Because the fat cells have been over exposed to insulin they continuously receive fatty acids and therefore cause weight gain. This is thought to be one of the main reasons for the increased obese population these days. Too much of the western diet is quick fix carbohydrate and sugary foods.



So what can you do?

1.       Eat low GL/ GI carbohydrates. I will go into this again soon but you can see the list of Low GI/ GL foods and can read more in this blog I did earlier in the year.

2.       Have protein in every meal and ideally every snack. If you have protein and fats along with your carbohydrates it slows down the breakdown of sugars into the blood stream.

3.       Realise that all carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, so all breads, pasta, rice, cereals, fruit all cause an insulin spike.

4.       Avoid chocolates, sweets, cakes, pastries, fizzy drinks, sugar in tea and coffee.

5.       Increase the amount of exercise you are doing. As mentioned above exercise increases the function of the protein responsible for breaking down the fats stored in the cells.

6.       Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Eat three good meals a day and if you feel peckish then listen to your body and have a snack. But watch it is not a sugary snack as you will just have a sugar crash and crave more in about an hour.

7.       Are you getting enough sleep. If you body isn’t getting enough sleep you will crave sugary foods and carbohydrates, which will produce an insulin spike.

8.       Portion size. This is something that I can’t see from the food diaries. Everyone is looking for the quick answer to weight loss. There is no quick fix. The method that works every time is eat less, eat better quality of food and exercise more. Use a smaller plate, eat slower and don’t go back for seconds. Listen to your body, if you don’t need more don’t have it.

How much sugar are you really eating?

How much sugar are you eating?


The main reason people find it tough to lose body fat is that they are eating way too much sugar.  One of the problems is that many people want to eat healthily and cut out their sugar but they have no idea how much sugar is actually in their food.

I have written many times before about regulating blood sugar levels, but it really will help you lose body fat.


When we eat a sugary food, our blood sugar levels spike. To regulate these levels the pancreas releases Insulin, which causes our cells to open and the sugar to be transferred to these cells, causing us to put on fat. This release of insulin causes the blood sugar level to dramatically drop and we will experience a sugar crash. Our energy will drop; we may become irritable and will crave more sugar/ carbohydrates. So the cycle continues, more insulin is released, more fat is stored and even though you are doing lots of exercise you have no idea why you can’t get rid of the fat around your belly… sound familiar! So in conclusion, insulin makes you fat.



The problem is that when people start to “eat healthily”, they cut out chocolate and sweets but don’t realise how much sugar is still in their diet.


How much of the following are you eating?

·         Sugar in your tea/ coffee?

·         Chocolate/day/ week

·         Sweets/ day/ week

·         Fizzy drinks (if you want to lose weight cut these out, even the diet drinks)

·         Cereals; Special K has as much sugar per 100g as vanilla ice cream. The manufacturers have also been increasing the amount of sugar added over the years. Since 1978 special K has twice as much sugar.

·         Packaged food- salads, sandwiches etc.

·         Processed foods;  Ready meals can have as much as 23g sugar/100g

·         Tinned foods 

·         Bread and bagels

Just so you are aware all carbohydrates are sugar’s and cause your blood sugar levels to spike and fat to be stored. It is the type of carbohydrate you are eating and what you are eating it with that will determine how much of a spike you experience and how much insulin is released. Therefore breads, pastas, rice, fruit, cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks are all responsible. So for those of you that have toast with honey or jam for breakfast and wonder why you get an energy crash mid-morning, this is why.

Bread and bagels are another food that can be very high in sugar. When the grains are harvested, the manufacturers remove the brown outer layer (fibre) and the germ (minerals and nutrients). They are left with the endosperm which is made into flour. This flour contains no fibre and very little nutrients (many manufacturers add some man made vitamins and minerals). When we eat the bread, bagels, cookies etc. made with this flour our blood sugar levels spike as there is no fibre to slow down the digestion process. That is why eating whole grain bread, pasta and rice are all better for you as it still contains the brown outer layer/ fibre and helps control the insulin release.


·         Wholegrain breads, bagels, pasta, rice, quinoa . Brown bread is quite often white flour dyed brown. 

·         Protein with every meal; again this slows down the digestive process and stops an influx of sugar being released into the blood.

·         Full fat dairy products. Low fat yoghurts and deserts may well be low in fat but they are high in sweeteners and additives to make them taste better. These also cause an insulin release. It is not the fat in the food that makes you fat it’s the sugar or sugar alternatives.

·         Eat fresh food. Why buy packaged foods/ ready meals when it is so easy to make good healthy food?!

·         Read the labels. Look out for the words sugar, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn starch, mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol, maltodextrin… these are all sugars or sugar alternatives.

The key is to stop the rise and dip of the blood sugar levels. Just remind yourself that every time you have an energy crash after eating food, your body is storing fat as insulin has just been released. Eat protein along with your carbs and don’t eat processed foods and sweets!

Your body only craves these foods because you eat them regularly. If you stop feeding yourself these types of food you will stop craving them. It may take a few weeks to get out of your system but once you cut them out you won’t even miss them. If you have ever given up something for lent of a long period of time, you will agree that after a few weeks-month you stopped even thinking about it.

Correcting Poor Posture

Poor posture and what you can do about it


It is highly likely that you will have some level of postural imbalance even if you are not aware of it. Very few people have the ideal posture, where the muscles tension is balanced and the joints are in alignment. Poor posture may be the result of a number of factors, the most common being sitting in an office chair for 8+ hours a day, which the human body was not designed for.  The result comes from certain muscles being long and weak and others being short and tight. To correct poor posture, we just need to work out which muscles need to be stretched and which need to be strengthened.

So why is it important to assess your posture, especially if it is not overly obvious and is not causing you any problems?

Poor posture can cause imbalances in your hormonal, digestive and respiratory system plus neck, back, shoulder and hip pain. So you may be taking medication or suffering when what you really need is work on your posture. Many people continue to live their daily lives with neck and back pain and accept the situation, but from strengthening and stretching the correct muscles these problems can be reduced or even resolved.


The four main postural imbalances are Kyphosis, Lordosis, sway back and flat back. I will talk about the two most common problems and some of the weak and long muscles as well as the short and tight muscles for each syndrome.

Kyphosis is the rounding of the mid back and shoulders and a forward head carriage.

Some of the muscles that are short and tight may be the pectorals (chest muscles) and certain back and neck muscles. This will be combined with long week lower and mid trapezius and rhomboids, plus certain shoulder muscles.


If you suffer from kyphosis you may also suffer from headaches, neck pain caused by nerve damage or impingement, back pain, restricted breathing and digestive, kidney and menstrual problems.


Lordosis is the hollowing of the lower back.

This is caused by short and tight hip flexors, quadriceps (front thigh), erector spinae and long and week abdominals, gluteals and hamstrings

Lordosis can contribute to symptoms such as lower back pain, hip pain and kyphosis due to compensatory mechanisms.

There are various exercises you can do to strengthen the necessary weak muscles and stretches needed lengthen the short tight muscles.

In order to understand if you have a poor posture you will need to have a postural assessment, which I can carry out in one of your sessions.


It is not something that can be fixed overnight but something that we can work on in every session in conjunction with your original goals. Even if you are not experiencing any problems at the moment, in 10-20 years the weak muscles will become weaker and Kyphosis, lordosis etc will only worsen.

Healthy Snacking Ideas

Snacking, which ones to have and when..

I am always asked about snacking ideas, as one of the toughest parts of eating healthily is falling down on sweets/ fizzy drinks/ chocolate and crisps etc. All of which are empty calories and add to your on-going sugar cravings. To help you lose weight you need to be eating little and often. If you get to lunchtime and are starving you are much more likely to over order at the sandwich bar and chuck in a chocolate bar and fizzy drink. You are also more likely to snack all afternoon on more sugary bits and bobs to keep your energy up and cravings at bay.


The secret is to keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day by snacking on quality foods between your meals. In order to do this you want to be eating protein with your carbs to help slow the breakdown of carbohydrates and reduce the sugary snacks to minimise the insulin spikes throughout the day


Below are various snacks that are healthy, will keep your sugar levels even throughout the day and help you with your weight loss goals. I have also added which are best for pre and post workouts snacks. As a general rule you want 3:1 carbs to protein before a workout and 3:1 protein to carbs after a workout. Carbs help with your energy levels and protein helps with muscle repair. Also, ideally eat your post workout snack within 30 minutes to an hour.


Why they’re good: Bananas are full of carbohydrates. They are a good source of vitamin B6, which is vital for managing protein metabolism.  

When they’re good: Before, during, or after exercise. They’re great blended into a fruit breakfast smoothie. Or simply whip frozen banana chunks with milk in a blender for a delicious recovery shake.


Why they’re good: Carrots are low in calories, but filling. This makes them excellent if you’re watching your weight. They contain carotene and vitamin A, which promote eye health and a strong immune system.

When they’re good: Eat them at night when you want something to munch but don’t want extra calories. Or eat them before dinner if you’re famished. This way, you won’t overindulge once you sit down for your meal.

Cereal bars

Why they’re good: A cereal bar will satisfy your sweet cravings, without chocolate bar. And unlike chocolate bars, cereal bars also come with B vitamins and iron. Check the label first though as many low fat/ low calorie options are full of artificial sweeteners and additives. Best to go for natural looking bars with no E numbers.

When they’re good: Whenever you feel like satisfying your sweet tooth.

Nuts (unroasted and unsalted)

Why it’s good: Nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, protein and fibre. Plus they are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Plus they are really filling.

When they are good: As an anytime snack and post workout as they are a great source of protein. People seem to freak about nuts and how many calories they contain. Nuts are good for you and as long as you don’t polish off the packet in one go it is fine to snack on nuts while watching what you eat.


Why it’s good: Nutrient rich- Vitamins E, B1, B5, K, Manganese, Magnesium, folate, zinc, protein. Have been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, lower cholesterol and neutralise free radicals.

When are they good: Anytime. They are quite filling and are great on their own or mixed in with salads.

Cottage cheese

Why it’s good: It’s packed with protein, which is great for a post workout snack to help with muscle rebuilding and repair. It serves as a good calcium source as well.

When it’s good: Any time except just before exercise. 

Dried apricots

Why they’re good: These chewy little morsels are low in fat and high in carbohydrate, and provide a decent amount of vitamin A, fibre and potassium.

When they’re good: Any time. Toss chopped apricots over your cereal at breakfast, or eat whole ones plain before your afternoon training session or as a sweet treat after dinner.



Why they’re good: Prunes (dried plums) contain no fat and are packed with carbohydrates. They’re also a good source of fibre and potassium. Eating potassium-rich foods such as prunes helps lower high blood pressure.

When they’re good: Prunes make a healthy snack almost any time. But don’t eat them just before your exercise, as they can act as a laxative!

Energy bars

Why they’re good: Designed especially for athletes, you can choose from high-carb bars, protein recovery bars, or ones that contain a mixture of carbs, protein and even vitamins. They’re tasty and come in all kinds of flavours. Not a great option unless you are training hard though as they are calorie dense and could just wipe out all the good work you have done in the gym. Good option if you are in a rush after a workout but there are much better options if your overall goal is weight loss.

When they’re good: Post-exercise. Liquid energy is better during or just before exercise. Not meant for an anytime snack.

Fruit ice-lollies

Why they’re good: This refreshing, low-calorie treat is loaded with vitamin C, which fortifies your immune system and helps boost iron absorption. (Make sure you choose lollies made with fruit juice, rather than sugary artificial versions.)

When they’re good: They’re great any time.

Fruit yoghurt

Why it’s good: Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, protein and potassium – and it’s low in fat and fairly high in carbohydrates. The live and active cultures added to certain types of yoghurt (often called ‘bio’) will also boost your immune system. Don’t go for the low fat options as all the goodness has been removed and artificial sweeteners have been added to help with the taste. Full fat all the way!

When it’s good: Any time, its good for pre and post workout or whenever you feel like it.

Home-made pizza

Why they’re good: Fresh tomatoes, peppers, sliced onion and mushrooms piled on a ready-made pizza base and lightly sprinkled with low-fat mozzarella or feta cheese. A slice of pizza supplies energy from the carb-rich base, protein and bone-strengthening calcium from the cheese and a range of vitamins and phytochemicals from the vegetables.

When they’re good: Post exercise or an anytime snack. Have a slice though not the whole thing!

Hummus on pitta bread

Why it’s good: Split the pitta bread and toast until crisp. Then simply break into pieces and use instead of cracker biscuits. This filling snack packs plenty of protein, fibre, vitamin B6 and folic acid. The latter is especially important for a healthy pregnancy, and has recently been shown to prevent anaemia and breast cancer.

When it’s good: Hummus works well as a mid-morning or afternoon snack..


Why it’s good: Studies show that a bowl of porridge helps lower cholesterol. Porridge will also fill you with plenty of carbohydrates to boost energy and alertness.

When it’s good: An excellent meal/ snack before a workout, or whenever you wake up feeling hungry and ready for a hearty breakfast.

Wholemeal bagel/ Ryvita with peanut butter

Why they’re good: Wholemeal bagels and ryvitas are much better for you than white refined breads as they will reduce the insulin spike and rise in blood sugar levels. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. It also contains vitamin E, which helps with muscle recovery.

When they’re good: A perfect filling snack for mid-morning or mid-afternoon or post workout.


Why they’re good: If you use fruit and milk, smoothies (made by blending frozen fruit such as bananas, with milk, orange juice and ice) are an easy way to consume a healthy dose of calcium, potassium and vitamins C and A.

When they’re good: Anytime really- a smoothie works well for breakfast, before a workout, or as a refreshing, re-energising, post workout snack.

Smoked ham and cheese wholemeal bagel

Why it’s good: Wholemeal bagels are a conveniently-sized source of complex carbs, while smoked ham is an excellent source of protein and folic acid. A light slathering of cream cheese will provide additional calcium and potassium. Top it off with a sliced tomato and red onion and you’ll add vitamin C, vitamin A and antioxidants as well.

When it’s good: As a post workout snack or light meal.



Tuna fish

Why it’s good: Tuna comes with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Research shows that men who eat at least 80-100g of fish per week are less likely to die of a heart attack, and that women who eat at least two servings of fish per week reduce their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

When it’s good: Perfect for lunch or an afternoon snack. Consider a tuna salad with mayonnaise and sliced tomatoes on granary bread.


Good fats vs bad fats

Good fats vs bad fats


One of the first things people cut out why trying to lose weight is fats, but there are so many fats and oils out there and some are essential to our diet and are actually good for us. Here is some information to help you pick and avoid the fats that are good and bad for you.

There are 4 main groups of fats:

·         Saturated Fats

·         Monounsaturated Fats

·         Polyunsaturated Fats

·         Trans Fats

Saturated fats

Sources of Saturated fats



Non Animal

Meat- Beef, Pork, Lamb

Palm Oil

Poultry- Chicken, Duck

Coconut Oil

Dairy- Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt, Cream, Butter





Saturated fats have had a pretty hard time in the press over the years as they have been blamed as a cause of coronary heart disease. Recent research has shown that the original studies may have been misinterpreted and misrepresented. Studies have now stated that fat found in the artery walls of coronary heart disease patients are made up of 26% saturated fat and the rest is unsaturated or predominantly plant based.

Benefits of saturated fats are:

·         Enhancement of the immune system

·         Enhancement of liver function as it helps protect against the effects of alcohol

·         Great source of energy

Unsaturated Fats are split into two groups, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats.


Monounsaturated Fats



Sources of Monounsaturated Fats

Avocado oil

Olive Oil

Hazel nuts



Peanut Oil

Rapeseed oil

Canola Oil


Monounsaturated fats are thought to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, which is the reason the adverts at the moment are trying to get us to represent a Mediterranean diet. Even though these fats are good for us be careful how much of these you eat as they make up the largest part of our body fat, comprising 52%.


Polyunsaturated Fats

These are split into two groups.


Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 6 fatty acids

Oily fish and cod liver oil

Sunflower oil and seeds

Falxseeds and Oil

Corn and soybean oil


Safflower oil

Pasture reared eggs

Pumpkin seeds


Sesame oil and seeds


These are also known as essential fatty acids as they are essential to our diet, as our body cannot synthesise them itself. These fatty acids are needed for the functioning of our cells and must be eaten in the required amounts to promote good health.  A ratio of 1:2 or 2:1 of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids should be consumed. Over eating of omega 6 in the modern diet has been shown to increase cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Omega 3 fatty acids are very beneficial to us as they reduce the tendency of blood to clot lower total cholesterol and raise levels of HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol and can lower the risk of coronary heart disease.

Trans Fats

These are the bad ones and are not good for you on any level. They are 100% man made unsaturated fats. Our bodies do not recognise the structure of these fatty acids and therefore cannot utilise them. These are responsible for coronary heart disease and some experts believe that trans fats are closer in structure to plastic than fat! Common foods that contain trans fats are:


Many Margarine’s





Pre-prepared foods


Many “low fat” processed foods. (Low in saturated fat but high in trans fat

Take away foods



Many food manufactures make out their products are healthy and good for us are they are low in saturated fat, as we have been made to think these are bad for us through the media. These “healthier options” are actually full of trans fats, which can be labelled unsaturated. If you are looking to lose weight steer clear of these as our bodies cannot utilise them and they become stored as body fat. It is much better to go for the full fat option as it contains natural nutrients that our body needs and they taste better, so it’s a win win situation.


This is something to think about when reaching for the margarine instead of the butter next time in the supermarket. This is how margarine is produced.

1.       They start are natural vegetable oils, Soy beans, corn sunflower or rapeseeds

2.       Oils are extracted by high temperature and pressure

3.       Remaining fraction of oils removed with hexane and other solvents

4.       Oils are now rancid, they are steam cleaned to remove all vitamins and anti-oxidants, but the pesticides and solvents remain

5.       Oils are mixed with a nickel catalyst

6.       Oils with the catalyst are subjected to hydrodegn gas in a high-pressure, high temperature reactor

7.       Soap like emulsifiers are mixed in

8.       Oils steam cleansed to remove the horrible odour

9.       They are now grey in colour, so are bleached

10.   Artificial colours, synthetic vitamins and natural colour are added

11.   Mixture is packaged in tubs and advertised as a health food

I never go near margarine, full butter all the way for me.


So in summary, stay clear of anything that contains trans fats and eat a good balance of saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fats.

Stretching, whats the point?

Stretching, why bother its boring?!


I know it can be boring and perceived as a waste of time but it is really not. If you want to be more powerful, run that race faster, kick or throw the ball further, increase your energy and generally be fitter, take the time to stretch.

Flexibly is one of the components to a person’s fitness. Others include strength, power, endurance, speed, balance, co-ordination, agility and skill. One of the end results of stretching is the increase in the length of your muscles.

So just to list a few, here are some of the benefits of stretching:

·         Improves your range of movement.

o   This basically means the distance/ amount you can reach, bend and move- all pretty important for day to day living. It also defines the distance your limbs can move before damage occurs to your muscles and tendons. For example a foot baller kicking a football, needs to have a large range of movement, the more flexible they are, the more powerful the kick.

·         Increased power.

o    Like I mentioned, stretching increases the length of your muscles and can therefore increase the distance your muscles can contract. This in turn increases your muscle power and athletic ability.

·         Reduces muscle soreness.

o    I know all of you have suffered from this at some point, especially after your first session with me! The soreness is a result of tiny muscle tears, blood pooling and a build-up of waste products, such as lactic acid. Stretching lengthens the muscle fibres, increases the blood circulation and removes waste products.

·         Postural improvement.

o   Not stretching can result in short tight muscles, which can cause poor posture and eventually pain, typically in the shoulders, neck and back. A very typical person in the city sits at their desk for 8 hours a day, in a poor position with their shoulders rounded. This lengthens and weakens the muscles in the shoulders and back. They then head to the gym and work on their “mirror muscles”, such as the chest and abdominals, and don’t stretch as they are short for time or think it is a waste of time. These chest and abdominal muscles are now short and tight, causing the shoulders to round over even more. Down the line this will cause them to take time off work from lower back or neck pain.

o   Stretching to improve your posture can actually make you look slimmer too!


·         Added benefits include, increase energy levels, stress relief and improved circulation.


There are two main types of stretching, static and dynamic.

·         Static stretching is performed without movement, so for example stretching the front of the

thigh, by holdhing your ankle.

You should hold these types of stretches for 10-15 seconds. But if you are looking to increase your flexibility, hold for 10-15 seconds, increase the stretch, hold for 10-15 seconds, increase stretch and hold for 10-15 seconds.


·         Dynamic stretching involves stretching with movement. This does not mean swinging aggressively or bouncing (never do this). Dynamic stretches involve a controlled soft swing and the force of the swing should gradually be increased. Eg. Swinging your arms above your head.

One of the common thoughts of stretching is that if I stretched before my workout then I don’t need to do it again at the end, or vice versa. Wrong! There are totally different reasons for stretching before and after exercise.

·         Stretching before exercise.

o   Firstly never stretch before you warm up. It is like trying to stretch an old, dry rubber band; they can snap. So warm up first for 10 minutes with a light-moderate exercise, and then do various dynamic stretches. This will continue to warm the muscles, deliver nutrients to the muscles and loosen the joints. The main reason to stretch before exercise is to prevent injury.

·         Stretching after exercise.

o   This is to aid the recovery of muscles and tendons and reduce the soreness that can come over the next couple of days.

o   A good 5-10 minute cool down should also be involved in the post exercise stretch, as it prevents the blood pooling and promotes the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles also aiding in the recovery.


So in conclusion, when you are working out outside our sessions stretch!

Healthy Pancake recipes

Pancake Day!

Happy Shrove Tuesday all! Pancake day can typically be a day of overeating and piling on the sugar, so I thought I would give you a couple of healthy recipes so you can enjoy the pancakes without the guilt. The main issue with the pancakes is that they are typically made with white flour, which is devoid of nutrients and fibre and produces an insulin spike which causes the body to store fat. Then we add a shed load of sugar, which causes another insulin spike and adds a bit more onto the wobbly bits!

It’s really easy to make pancakes healthy. Firstly, don’t buy the pre made mixture as it is full of white flour, loads of additives, sugars and sweeteners and it’s really easy to make them from scratch, so don’t be lazy. Secondly, substitute white flour with whole meal flour or oats. Both of which have a much lower GI and will reduce the insulin spike and wobbly bits.


So a couple of batter recipes:

The basic:

4oz of whole meal flour

Half pint of milk

1 egg

Pinch of salt


To make the batter using a blender or food processor, put the milk, egg and salt into the bowl and blend thoroughly. Then add the flour and blend again for about 30 seconds.

To make the batter by hand, put the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a balloon whisk, beat the egg in a jug with the milk, then pour this into the flour and whisk in until the batter is smooth.
Let the batter stand for 30 minutes if possible.

To cook the pancakes, heat a little oil in a suitable pancake pan and, when hot, pour in about 2 tablespoons of batter. Tilt the pan so that the batter coats the base of the pan evenly.
Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then loosen the edge and either toss or flip the pancake over with a spatula, then cook the other side for 1 minute.

Oatmeal pancakes

• 3/4 cup rolled oats (instant or regular)
• 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 1/2 cups milk or soy milk
• Oil

Lightly oil your pan with vegetable oil. Preheat the pan over medium heat. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Gradually add your milk and mix until all of the ingredients are well blended. The batter should be lumpy but well mixed.

Using a soup ladle, drop about ¼ cup of the batter for each pancake onto the preheated pan. Cook for about 90 seconds, or until bubbles appear and burst on the surface of the batter. Flip and continue to cook another 1-2 minutes on the other side. Continue until all of the batter is used. Pancakes should be golden brown.


Filling ideas:

·         Blueberries. Add fresh or frozen blueberries to the mixture before cooking and serve with natural or Greek yoghurt.

·         Banana and peanut butter

·         Loads of fruit and yoghurt- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc. Add some honey

·         Add chopped nuts such as walnuts and pecans  and raisins to the batter before cooking.

·         Chopped banana and honey


How Breakfast can help you lose weight..

Breakfast… Why is can help you lose weight

I know all of you will have heard a million times before that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but still so many people don’t believe this and are either skipping breakfast or eating all the wrong things.

So my goal today is to convince you of the importance of breakfast and give you some ideas.

One of the main excuses I hear is that I just don’t have time in the morning, which is rubbish (I am conscious of sounding a little like my parents right now!). Would you rather have a smaller waist line and less wobbly bits or 10 minutes longer in bed? 10 minutes come on, that is all it takes.


Reasons to have breakfast EVERY day:

1.       Skipping breakfast increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. To be honest I shouldn’t need to write any more points, but here are a couple more.

2.       Helps you lose weight. This may seem like a contradiction asking you to eat in order to lose weight, but there are many proven reasons why.

a.       It kick starts you metabolism and tells your body to start burning calories. If you eat dinner at 7 and then not again until lunch that is a good 18 hours of not eating.

b.      It helps your body function efficiently. If you eat a nutritious breakfast, (which should include, protein, carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals) your body can start to operate properly. But if you deprive it of these nutrients, then it will start to store fat and go into starvation mode. The majority of obese people are actually suffering from malnutrition as they are eating all the wrong foods and not getting enough nutrients.

c.       A good healthy breakfast puts you on the right track early in the day. You more likely to eat and crave sugary fatty foods all day if this is how you start, and the opposite is also true.

d.      Stops you over eating at lunch. Plus, many overweight people skip breakfast but reach for a sugary snack mid-morning- breakfast stops this.

3.       Helps your concentration and focus. You will function much better at work or at home with your kids after a good nutritious breakfast.

4.       Breakfast elevates your mood. Not only is it fab to be in a positive mood, it is also important to remain positive when trying to lose weight. We have all had those low days when we think only Ben and Jerry can save us.

5.       If you have kids, all these facts are just as true for them.  Just because children seem to like sugary processed breakfasts, doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Their bodies function and operate the same way as ours do, plus they look at us for good habits.

Ok, so those are some of the reasons to eat breakfast, now here are some ideas. As I mentioned before you ideally want a mix of protein, carbs, fat and vitamins and minerals.


The main thing to know here is to avoid sugary processed cereals. Go for high fibre ones such as bran flakes, Weetabix and shredded wheat. Add milk or natural yogurt, plus fruit such as blueberries, kiwi, apple, banana, strawberries etc.  Dried fruit and nuts.

Muesli. Go for muesli that has no added sugar or salt. Add the same type of ingredients as above.



Eggs are a brilliant breakfast as they are packed full of protein,  high in iron, calcium, vitamin D (protects bones and boosts immunity) and are less than 80 calories per egg.  Plus they boost satiety, which stops your body craving more.

Fried eggs are obviously not the best, but poached, boiled, scrambled and omelette are all great. Have them with: 

·         wholemeal bread

·         Salmon

·         Mackerel

·         Gilled bacon

·         Good quality sausages

·         Chorizo

·         Spinach

·         Tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms are all great chopped and fried along with scrambled eggs.





To be honest this is my personal favourite and I think I am a little addicted to porridge! Make it from scratch as it is so easy and much cheaper and healthier.

Have it with milk and water, which ever proportions you prefer. Add:

·         Whatever you like! It’s like cereal and muesli, where you can do whatever suits your taste buds. Great options are, fruit, cinnamon, dried fruit, nuts, honey, yoghurt etc.




Toast/ Bagels


These are fine, but make sure they are wholemeal to keep you blood sugar levels low and to add foods that will make up the protein and vitamins. Ideas:

·         Peanut butter and banana/ apple

·         Honey and banana

·         Salmon, spinach and cream cheese

·         Eggs and grilled bacon

·         Cream cheese and grilled bacon/ quality ham

·         Tomatoes and cottage cheese

If you don’t eat breakfast at the moment it can be tough starting to eat early in the morning, but try introducing something small such as a banana and slice of wholemeal toast, or yoghurt and piece of fruit.

Lastly, cut out the sugar from your tea and coffee. If you have 2 sugars in your tea and have 3 cups a day that works out as 42 teaspoons of sugar per week! Cutting this out will 100% start to shed the pounds.