- Fear that they are going to lose a huge amount of their hard earned fitness
- That it's the end of the world and are heavily focused on what they are missing out on
- Think that if they can't do (insert your sport) then they can't do anything!
Sunday, 3 October 2021
Monday, 6 September 2021
Do you find yourself saying “I just don’t have time to exercise”?
It’s not easy (at first) but it is possible to make time to take care of your body.
- Walk whenever you can, getting 10,000 steps a day has a significant impact on your fitness and fat loss (if that is a goal) Use your commute to get your steps in if you can
- Go for a walk at lunch time instead of sitting looking at your screen, listen to music/podcast while you walk. The break from the screen will do you good
- Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Get all your clothes ready the night before so all you have to do is put them on for an early morning workout, sounds so simple but you’ll be surprised what procrastinating tactics you have developed! Likewise, take your workout clothes to work if you are going after work.
- Schedule your workouts like an important meeting with yourself and don’t skip it unless it’s an absolute emergency!
- Shorter workouts ARE effective. If you are doing 15 minutes of exercise a day that’s a great start and it’s most definitely better than nothing!
- Play with the kids for 30 minutes, play chasing games, football, go round the outdoor gym in a park, anything that gets you moving with them, it’s a win-win
- Get up earlier! It’s not a popular one but I have lots of clients who just have to do their work out very early, or it just doesn’t happen. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how good you feel when you start your day with a good old sweat 😊
- Do some exercise while watching your favourite TV programme, you don’t have to sit on the sofa and be entertained. If watching the programme and doing some exercise, makes it easier to do then that’s okay! You can get fit AND watch TV they are not mutually exclusive!
- Mindset – Think of exercise as something you get to do not something you “have” to do. Your body and mind deserve the best care and moving your body is the most primitive form of self-care there is.
Taking care of your mental and physical health doesn’t have to take up huge amounts of time, honestly 3 workouts a week (of any duration) and getting in 10,000 steps a day will reap huge dividends to your health and fitness.
My job is to help make being active as stress free as possible. I’ll help you build a plan that fits your life, not the other way around!
Wednesday, 30 June 2021
I do still have some fluid in my knee which is probably causing the feeling of fullness when I bend my knee and contributing to why I still have pain and stiffness.
I am continuing with the treatment from my physio, taping, icing and bodyweight and band strength exercises for another month.
If I have no improvement by that time my consultant will try a steroid injection to reduce the fluid. Let's see if it goes by itself and the right physio protocols!
The rollercoaster continues but at least I can go about my day to day life not worrying about whether there is more damage, it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.
In the meantime I am returning to regular swimming (with a pull buoy) and continuing to keep my upper body strong with seated dumbbell workouts at home and lots of core strength and my daily physio exercises.
I have enough to keep me busy even if the schedule isn't exactly all the things I love doing, well apart from swimming.
I'll update you if my knee improves on it's own and if not I will let you know what happens after the steroid injection x
Thursday, 17 June 2021
I firstly want to say this post if from my personal and professional experience as a Personal Trainer. I have supported lots of clients alongside their clinical support through their recovery journey. If you need clinical professional support I can help you to find the support you need if you don't already have that in place.
How This Cycle Keeps You Stuck
You deny yourself of foods you deem to be “bad” you build a very restrictive and unsustainable meal plan and struggle to stick to both and then feel “bad” and a failure, know that you didn’t fail, the plan failed you, big difference!
If this sounds like how you work towards changing your body composition, it doesn’t have to be this way.
You get home, you have restricted so much that day that when you get home ravenous. You think I’ll just have something to tide me over, but it doesn’t stop there. A small snack becomes the equivalent of a meal or a period of overeating and then you start to feel guilt and shame.
The “I’m not good enough to stick to this plan” “I don’t have enough willpower, I need to work harder” “I’ll be good tomorrow, I’m not doing that again” thoughts make you feel that you are the failure when in fact it is the plan that’s failing you!
However, if you continue to force yourself to stick to the plan that already isn’t working for you, the next day you do the same. This can happen over and over until eventually you give up and decide “you can’t do it”.
This cycle has a clinical term “the binge-restrict cycle”.
How The Cycle Can Occur
1. Overeating: Events can trigger you, anything from being too hungry or stress or to numb the feelings of difficulties in your life
2. The Result = Self-loathing, shame and guilt, powerful emotions that you don’t want to experience again.
3. “Must Do Better” You don’t want to feel those extreme feelings again, so you decide to “never overeat again”.
4. Restriction: You are determined to not overeat again, but you start restricting. You feel the need to balance out what you have previously eaten and to regain a sense of control.
5. Overeat (again): Some time after the restriction and not honouring your hunger, a day, a few days, a week something happens, and you overeat.
Some Ways To Prevent This Cycle
Two important factors are physical hunger and your negative feelings. There are the areas we want to direct our focus.
Stop Restricting Yourself
The urge to restrict after you have overeaten can be very powerful, it’s not easy. It’s entirely normal but we must fight the need to repeat the restriction.
Make Sure You Eat Your Next Meal
To not restrict forever might be an unrealistic goal.
Start small, eat at the next mealtime, plan what you are going to eat and ask for support if you are finding that difficult.
Plan Your Meals and Snacks
Instead of eating as little as possible the next day and setting yourself up to overeat again, plan what you are going to eat that day in a way that fits around your life. Ideally eat something every few hours. You are trying to eat enough to fuel your body to do your everyday tasks. Fuelling your body every 3-4 hours can have an extremely positive impact preventing the overeating triggers from taking over.
If you need professional support to break this cycle Beat is an excellent place to start to look for the right support x
Food Is Neutral, Not Good or Bad
Labelling food Good or Bad can be a pre cursor to developing a difficult relationship with food.
Carbs are bad, chocolate is bad, this type of unhelpful thinking isn’t true, and it creates more problems for people who already are unsure how to eat in a healthy way for the rest of their life.
Ever noticed the minute you say you are not allowed to eat something; it is pretty much all you can think about? This is just one reason why people crave certain foods and then end up overeating them.
One important step towards Food Freedom is to realise that food is simply food.
Food does not have a moral code. There is value in all the food we eat, some have nutritional value, and some have mental value. Think of all food as equals. Honour your cravings by including those foods in your daily meals and snacks. The power to overeat them is significantly diminished.
If you don’t want to have large amounts of certain foods at home, buy smaller amounts of them. In time you want to be able to have a normal sized amount of them in your home.
Once you have been able to be satisfied with just eating a smaller amount of those biscuits/cake/crisps etc you can begin to trust yourself around those foods.
These are different for everyone. Once you identify yours you can work towards removing them and cope better with ones you can’t remove. We need to work towards replacing our trigger situations with strategies that are more beneficial to recovery.
Trigger situation I have had or seen in my clients:
Snacking at night from boredom or hunger
By eating enough to satisfy you and eating regularly you can significantly impact how often you do this. Also try getting to bed earlier, especially if you are awake late at night and that is when you snack. The health benefits of a little more sleep is worth trying, at least once.
Mindless Eating in Front Of the TV
If you find yourself unable to sit and relax and watch tv in the evenings without eating food, try moving. Go for a short walk, do some chores around the house, take an online course to learn something new. If you are feeling anxious about something/someone talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling and try to express your emotions.
An argument with a loved one, your boss/colleague says or does something unkind, whatever the stressful situation is work towards finding a way to deal with the emotions you feel.
Talk to a trusted friend/mentor/therapist, do something non-food related that makes you feel good. If our only strategy is to eat in times of difficulty, it is incredibly difficult to break the cycle.
If you don’t have or know of any strategies, then maybe think about CBT or another strategy to help you overcome these situations.
Therapy does not have to be lifelong; you will be amazed by how much you can learn in only a few sessions that changes how you react. Therapy is about finding ways to help yourself, not a therapist doing the work for you.
Be Self Compassionate
More important than not restricting and dealing with triggers.
Guilt, shame, and anxiety fuel restriction. Restriction fuels overeating. Stop guilt and you’ll have a much easier time around food.
The most self-compassionate people often have the best body self-image.
Accept that you will have slip ups along the way, we all do. It’s normal to fall into this restrict-overeating cycle, many of us have, it’s also normal to have difficulties getting out of it.
If you have a slip up, give yourself grace. Try to avoid using negative self-talk. Work on reframing your thoughts. Try reframing in this way “I am a failure and I’ll never achieve this” to “I had a slip up. I am still learning. What can I do that will make it easier?”
You do not have to be perfect, try to practice Imperfect Action, it’s a much kinder way to live your life.
Please remember it is possible to get out of this cycle, but you might not be able to do it alone and that’s okay.
If you are suffering in this type of cycle or know someone who is, please find someone to support you/them through this difficult process.
Some trusted places are listed below:
I have personal experience in this area. If you would like to talk through this before seeking professional support I am always here to listen and give you some support to make the first steps to a life outside this cycle x
Monday, 7 June 2021
I thought I would write a little about recovering from Partial Meniscectomy surgery in case anyone would find it useful to hear about the process and give you some ideas of how to stay sane and active during your recovery!
My pain first started after a very normal run one day. I felt good, had no pain I was on very even terrain. When I got home my knee felt very swollen, like it never has before and to the point that I was very concerned about it. At the time I thought I had done something to it but I didn't realise what this extreme swelling was a sign of.
After running for over 40 years now things happen and even I have to accept that things like this might happen. I didn't think it was quite as serious as it was!
I stopped running for a few days and then went on holiday to Cornwall. Walking up and down lots of stairs and coastal paths was very painful but I still thought it was something that would just go away.
I saw a physio at this point who said there wasn't anything really wrong with my knee and to take some ibuprofen and it would settle. Unfortunately it never did settle and I never ran without pain again from that point onwards.
I focused on doing more strength work for about 6 weeks but still every time I tried to run, there was pain.
It was at that point that I contacted the physio I see at The Centre for Health and Human Performance James Vickers, who has helped me recover from various issues over many years. If you have a lingering lower limb injury he is the man to sort it out for you!
James unfortunately had to give me the bad news that he suspected I had a Meniscus tear, an MRI a few days later in December 2020 confirmed this.
I saw a consultant in early January 2021 and we decided to try 1 month of intensive physiotherapy to see if the tear would heal itself. Sadly it did not and the consultant decided it was appropriate to fix it with surgery via a partial meniscectomy.
For someone who's job is very active and loves to train most days I had to have a really good plan of action for a serious amount of inactivity. I guess there is a benefit to having surgery in a pandemic, there certainly isn't much you feel you are missing out on!
That said not being able to train or even move around a lot is something I find extremely challenging and I know can have a serious impact on my mental health if I don't have a plan of action when I'm out of action!
I spent a lot of time building workouts that I could do with my upper body only and seated and a little standing. Within a few days I could do some core work on my bed and then within a few days I was able to get onto the floor and use weights and bands and bodyweights to increase the amount I could do.
I also put a lot of focus into what I put in my body. So I planned some really nice, nutritious meals and aimed for at least 120g Protein each day and ate lots of fruit and vegetables as well as staying well hydrated. I also had some cake/biscuits or chocolate if I wanted it, the time for dieting and severe restriction is not immediately after surgery.
Your body is working hard to heal, it still needs lots of nutrients and it does not need you to be in a huge calorie deficit. I see this a lot in injured athletes where they aren't as active so they think their body does not need fuelling, it does, simply by not fuelling workouts you'll be eating for recovery.
I was naturally more tired and certainly in the first couple of weeks while I was off work I didn't set an alarm, I let myself have as much sleep as I needed to recover.
I also built a list of all the things I would do while I was resting. I had lectures I wanted to listen to, my favourite podcasts I could listen to, watch things on Netflix I never made time for and read a lot more.
I also wrote some training programmes for my clients that they might need in the future. I designed a beginners 8 week upper body (no knee bending) programme so if anyone I know ever has to modify their workouts I can pass on my programme to them.
I designed a whole new onboarding process for new clients and updated all my paperwork. I was just as busy sitting on the sofa working as I would have been if I was out and about!
I had my surgery on 6th March 2021, all went well and the consultant was happy he had given me the best knee he could, fingers crossed that was a knee that could run for quite a few more years!
My tear was a complex one unfortunately, which means a slower return to everything! Patience is not my strong point so this was going to be tough.
The next 6 weeks I focused on doing my physio diligently, keeping off my feet as much as possible and generally resting and recovering. I also planned 3 workouts a week that would get me a little sweaty and keep me feeling somewhat like myself!
6 weeks into my rehab all was going extremely well and the physio I saw thought I was ready to return to running, sadly I was not! Following this trial came a huge setback. I'm not a fan of blaming people so I told this to the physio I was working with. We are all human and we make mistakes, making someone feel worse isn't going to help anything.
The consultant said to back off everything I was doing until it settled. I then contacted my normal physio to get his help rectifying what had happened.
It's now been 8 weeks since the set back and I only have a teeny bit of pain at times so I think I am making progress. I had to back off the heavy weights James initially wanted me to do and go back to bodyweight as my knee is still not ready to get really strong. Hopefully I will be able to progress to the next stage very soon.
I've had to go through a couple of weeks of icing my knee regularly and James has showed me how to apply K tape to my knee to try to take some of the pressure off the knee. I generally don't move around much outside of going to work at the moment. I've returned to doing my workouts at home until my knee is fully settled and I'm ready to start putting more weight through my knee.
Setbacks after surgery are pretty common but it's certainly not an easy process to go through if you are very active.
I like to think of myself as a resilient and adaptable person, this is certainly a time that is testing my ability to be that person! I think I'm doing pretty well, there have only been a couple of minor meltdowns! hahaha.
Things I have found really helpful:
1. Have an expert physiotherapist, I am extremely grateful to be under the care of a physiotherapist who knows my body well and is an expert in his field
2. Focus on what you can control, not what you cannot.
3. Find ways to stay active that do not involve bending your knee, trust me there is a lot but make sure you are doing those things at the right stage of recovery so you make good progress
4. Stay connected with people, have some fun, get friends over for a coffee if you can't walk much, it will help to remind you of the fun things you have in your life
5. Work on a couple of projects you don't normally have time for when you are able to move around a lot, it's rewarding and keeps your mind busy so you don't dwell on what you can't do!
6. Speak to those closest to you if you are struggling with being inactive. It's super tough to have all the things you love doing taken away from you, it's perfectly normal to need a little more support and love through the recovery process.
So for now I continue to do my 3 upper body and core workouts, do my physiotherapy exercises and manage any pain by adjusting how much I move around.
I'll post another update about how the next couple of months go and where I am at in my recovery.
Here's to a speedy recovery process xx
Monday, 17 May 2021
I've written before about the menstrual cycle I think it's very important to talk around all the health issues women face, not just fitness.
It's also very important as a trainer to have as much information as you can to help your female clients.
I recommend books and podcasts to my female clients to empower them to take action to help improve their symptoms. The science around menopause is evolving all the time and that's great news for women looking for help.
Below I have noted some of the aspects of a healthy lifestyle which I help my clients to incorporate:
1. Firstly, if you are having symptoms that are impacting your day to day life, please go and speak to your GP. You really don't have to suffer in silence. You might be able to take some simple steps to being much more comfortable.
2. Eat a healthy balanced diet (I know you know that!) No food has to be banned and there are no good/bad foods. Let's keep food neutral. Some things naturally need to be eaten more often than others.
3. Aim for 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Increase the fibre content of your meals by adding loads of veggies, pulses, nuts and seeds and eat the skin of those fruits and veggies!
4. Cut down or limit saturated fat and perhaps swap for leaner meat or vegetarian/vegan protein sources. Limit processed meats, they are high in saturated fat and linked to heart disease and cancers.
5. Some fat in your diet is a good idea, especially from oily fish, nuts and avocados. Ideally two portions per week, you will get the added benefit of good heart health.
6. Spicy foods are known to trigger hot flushes so avoiding those might help.
7. Vitamin D - Adults in the UK are advised to supplement 400IU per day as we don't get enough exposure to the sun.
8. If you are are at risk of osteoporosis or are concerned about your bone health a calcium and Vitamin D supplement may help.
9. Stay well hydrated, too much information but your wee will tell you if you are sufficiently hydrated or not!
10. Caffeine can trigger hot flushes so limiting your intake might help. Also, if your sleep is affected by menopause then avoiding caffeine after 12pm can help as it can impact the quality of your sleep. You could also find a nice decaffeinated option.
11. Drinking alcohol can worsen some menopause symptoms and is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Staying within the guidelines for the number of units a woman should drink cab help. Aim to have 2-3 alcohol free days per week.
There are many other health benefits relating to exercise, obviously. In relation to menopause symptoms improving your cardiovascular health can help you manage your weight and also improve your mood and generally make you feel more energetic.
There are now studies which show that if you are fit and exercise regularly it can reduce hot flushes.
If you are unfit as your menopause symptoms start your flushes may get worse initially, so start gently and build up gradually, as you would at any point in your life!
The government guidelines are for 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week. This can be brisk walking or 75 minutes at a higher intensity such as running or high intensity type training as well as two resistance based sessions per week.
The most important aspect of exercise (in my opinion!) is that you enjoy it. Okay if it's been a long time since you have regularly exercised you might not totally love it immediately (but keep going once you do start, you will feel differently in time!)
Join a class, get involved in a team sport that you used to enjoy. Try lots of different things to see what you enjoy.
We know that women are at risk of osteoporosis and weight bearing exercise has been proven to help. Our bones are constantly remodelling. Weight bearing exercise encourages bones to become strong.
My Postmenopausal strength icon
Joan MacDonald aged 74, isn't she phenomenal!
Women become more susceptible to osteoporosis due to estrogen deficiency. During the menopausal transition period the reduced estrogen leads to more bone resorption than formation, resulting in osteoporosis.
It is an important and often overlooked aspect of women's health at this stage in our life. Supplementation and medication are options but these must be provided by a qualified medical practitioner. You can take control of your nutrition and exercise needs (as mentioned above) to support your bone health.
Strength based or resistance exercise means using your muscles against resistance which pulls on your bones and they react by becoming stronger. The stronger your muscles are, the stronger the pull on your muscles and the stronger your bones become.
Resistance can be generated by bodyweight, weights, machines and bands. Press ups, squats, lunges are all great bodyweight forms of resistance training.
Get empowered and ask for help if you need it x
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
I found out in January that I needed surgery on my right knee for a small tear in my meniscus. Nothing spectacular happened to cause it, probably just a lifetime of exercising (and I wouldn't change a thing just to avoid wear and tear on one of my knees!!!) I don't know how common it is to exercise regularly for 40 years and not have some part of your body wear out but I suspect it's pretty common :)
So I had the surgery on the 6th March and everything has gone really well and I was walking pain free immediately after my surgery :)
Anyway onto modifying my workouts, staying sane, maintaining my strength and fitness as much as possible!
I had my surgery via my Axa healthcare so I am grateful to have physiotherapy every 2 weeks until I am back doing everything I need to. I make my rehab the first thing I do to start the day and I follow the physio prescription 100%. I don't skip days unless it's not sensible to do it (because it's painful) but thankfully I haven't needed to miss a day so far.
Upper Body Strength Workouts
I do some strength work for my upper body every other day so I don't get really tight/sore/injured. It's easy to get carried away and think I can't work my lower body hard so I'll hammer my upper body, that usually results in either a lot of soreness or an injury, neither are ideal as you recover!
I have programmed a mixture of exercises and rotate them 1 Upper Body Exercise and 1 Core Exercise and repeat that for around 45 minutes. When my energy felt good I would add in 10 minutes of specific core strength exercises so that when I returned to fully weight bearing with weight my core would still be nice and strong.
Then I do some upper body mobility exercises with bands and use the Theragun on my upper and lower body.
The next day will be either a light spin on my indoor bike (I started at 30 mins after two weeks and built up nice and slowly to 1 hour) or get my 10,000 steps.
Some of the exercises I was able to do:
All seated DB exercises (initially) now I can stand and do the exercises but with a slightly lighter weight than before my surgery
Pull Ups, using a bar I have at home (also very good for attaching bands to vary your exercises!)
DB Floor Chest Press & DB Pullovers
DB Standing Row and DB Deadlift (after two weeks I added in these)
Elevated Press Ups (I used a bannister and lifted my operated leg off the floor)
Weighted Overhead Sit Ups
Lying Leg Raises
KB Russian Twist
I used heavy resistance bands to do things like Double Arm Pull Downs, Single Arm Pull Downs, Lat Pull Down, Bicep Curls, Tricep Pushdowns, Chest Press. 3 sets of 30 repetitions with the right amount of tension will feel like a good workout.
I built a make shift ski erg by attaching 2 light resistance bands to my pull up bar and that gave me a great upper body and core workout and out of breath! I also have swim bands which I have actually grown to love through our many lockdowns :) and cycling on my indoor bike when that was allowed.
I have built back up slowly to 10,000 steps from about 3,000 the day after my surgery. Walking is the most underrated form of exercise, not only do we really need to get out in nature in lockdown, it's a great way to build back a little leg strength and see progress as you get back to doing the amount you were before.
My knee did not like me sitting for long periods of time so getting my steps in was a great way to prevent that stiffness becoming an issue.
Your body needs good quality protein regularly even if you haven't had surgery or are injured so it's more important now to aid your recovery.
Don't scrimp on calories, your body is healing itself so depriving it of vital nutrients is not going to yield the best and quickest recovery. Also, you will feel more tired, you will sleep better if you are not hungry and you need a lot of good quality sleep to recover from surgery in particular.
Avoid alcohol, it is does not aid recovery, maybe save that for when you are back to 100% and celebrate a speedy recovery. Enjoy some chocolate/cake or whatever you fancy occasionally, you do not have to eat like a monk to recover well.
Sleep & Naps
I love sleep and 9 hours is pretty normal for me to feel and perform well :) I slept well the night of my surgery thankfully but I did also need naps pretty much every day for the first week. Embrace it, allow your body time more time to repair and rebuild.
Thankfully I am a fan of water and drink at least 2 litres a day even if I'm not very active. If you are not a fan, add some cordial to make it taste better. Drink nice teas and have coffee up to the point in the day when it might affect your sleep.
Vitamin D (which I take all year round as I live in the UK!) , Vitamin C, Omega 3 (2,000mg) (again I take this all year round) it was recommended to me by my Sports Med Doctor.
My physiotherapist did not recommend supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin as he said there still isn't enough evidence that it is going to make a difference. I guess in time that might change.
I have a Theragun and have been using that to keep my legs flushed out and avoid any stiffness building in my knee from having to sit a lot initially.
As an alternative you could use a nice massage cream and give the muscles around your knee a massage every day after your physio exercises.
I hope that is helpful and if you have any questions, please just get in touch and if you are reading this post surgery good luck with your rehabilitation. If you are reading this injured, have hope and do everything you can to recover as quickly as you can. Make sure you have a good therapist helping you x