Category Archives: Lifestyle

DNA testing for fitness and fat loss: my experience so far.

As a New Year’s treat in January 2016 I decided to have a go at DNA testing after it came highly recommended to me by a successful professional fighter that I met at a social event. I was curious as to what information about my physiology it would reveal that I hadn’t already worked out with experience, intuition and a huge amount of fitness tests that I undertook in my youth when I was a competitive gymnast.

Where can I get a DNA test?

I looked up a number of companies offering genetic testing in relation to fitness and nutrition and approached a few to get clarifications on how the test works and what security measures are taken to ensure such sensitive information is not leaked or used inappropriately. I also compared the type of results that were being offered and the cost for the DNA analysis.

In the end I decided to go with Fitness Genes who were the company that was recommended to me as they seemed to offer the most comprehensive testing results with strong practical applications at a competitive price. My questions were answered by the founder himself who was very polite and gave me all the info I needed to feel confident about doing this. In addition to the straight forward genetic test Fitness Genes also offer the opportunity to receive nutrition and training plans customised to fit with your unique genetic makeup. I went for the Female Fat Loss plan because I was curious.

How does it work?

Lab technician DNA testingWithin days of making my purchase I received a DNA test kit consisting of a vial with a stabilizing fluid, instructions and the return address. As soon as I registered the test kit I was asked to submit a short lifestyle survey that included questions about my body type, perceived speed of my metabolism, whether I thought I was lactose and/or gluten intolerant and my reaction to caffeine. This part is very important as the information provided will subsequently help the researchers compile your DNA profile.

The actual testing part is incredibly complicated and you can find out how it all works and how the various pieces of information are shared between the DNA Diagnostics Centre and the Science Team on the Fitness Genes website at this link and this link.

What did I learn?

As the results from testing the 40+ gene variations were trickling through I must admit that after receiving the first batch I thought “OMG have I just discovered hot water?” but then as more results were being released I realised that I was actually learning invaluable information about my physiology. Even after all the results were released I can honestly say that the majority of what I learned was very much in line with what I already knew about my body after nearly 50 years of feeding it and moving it with different degrees of intensity.

However, there were many aspects of my metabolism that were still a mystery to me and now they are less so. In essence the test confirmed that I have the ability to grow muscles AND gain strength easily and on top of that I also have good aerobic potential giving me the genetic makeup of an athlete that can do strength, explosive movements and endurance all at the same time. Hello gymnastics, pole fitness, dancing, martial arts and Parkour training.

What I also learned is that genetic test results can be incredibly confusing as what you find for each individual gene can contradict what you find for all the others. For example one gene result indicates that I have a fast metabolism, whereas another gene says I have a slow metabolism. I carry the obesity gene and am at increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome but I also carry the gene that helps lose fat fast. I carry the gene that makes me overeat (great excuse for eating 3 large packs of crisps on my own: “the FTO gene made me do it”) but my insulin works fine despite this. I have the strength of an ox but don’t do too well with Vitamin D (contributes to strength) and it’s best to supplement (which I do). This is why taking the test results and looking at them on their own isn’t very useful as their expression is always related to environmental influences, how the genes interact with each other and our existing lifestyle. They must never be looked at in isolation and it’s always best to have an expert in the subject extract the meaning of the various findings.

This is where the reports and nutritional blueprints really came into their own as all the results were combined and analysed in relation to the information that I provided with the lifestyle survey that I submitted before sending off the sample of saliva. Most importantly the findings are written in plain English that any lay person can understand. My “DNA Diet” and nutritional recommendations were spot on and helped me overcome a fat loss plateau at the time to get “attract-random-compliments-everywhere” lean.

D|NA testing night owlSome of the results are a bit hit and miss like the circadian rhythms test which suggests I am an early bird and that my sleep patterns are unlikely to be easily disrupted. Well, since I can remember I have been a night owl and both dangerous and slow to get started when woken up early in the morning. It’s much easier for me to be up all night working or studying than it is getting up at 5am to exercise. I can do it and have done so without spilling any innocent blood or causing a break up but it’s not my natural tendency. So whatever determines this predisposition wasn’t analysed on this occasion.

The only aspect of all this that left me slightly puzzled is the training plan. It involves doing resistance training 5 days and HIIT 1 day with just one day rest each week. Whereas this level of might have served me well in my 20’s and 30’s now that I am approaching 50 it wouldn’t work, not even by splitting the muscle groups so that I hit each one only once per week. First of all my DNA test results show that I might now have that much of a great ability to recover from a workout quickly and completely (hello stress fractures) so how on earth would I be able to cope with 6 weight lifting sessions per week? My lifestyle questionnaire clearly states my age so I feel that this is something that should be looked into.

As women approach menopause, when they want to lose fat, they tend to benefit more from relaxing activities to counteract the increased impact that stress has on their bodies following the gradual drop in oestrogen and progesterone. Because of this I got the best results, both for myself and my clients, by doing short sharp intense workouts 3 times per week max with a lot of leisurely walking in between. The exercises of the plan are beautifully put together but in my opinion it’s way too much for me. So I changed them slightly to what I normally do and it worked.

To conclude…

Overall, DNA testing was a great experience and I keep referring back to the results whenever I am wondering why something isn’t quite working as expected or to check that I am still taking the best supplements for me. Most of this stuff can be worked out with a little bit of Sherlocking but if you wanted to have a more accurate picture of what makes your metabolism tick and what helps you get stronger, leaner or faster then I would highly recommend the test. If you wonder how much genetic testing cost you can get the full report from Fitness Genes for around £150 and the fat loss or muscle building plans for a little bit more. Plus there are upgrades in the pipeline for existing customers which means that new and revised information will be available in the near future. I find this rather exciting and can’t wait for the day when it will be easy and affordable to have the full genome sequenced and results presented in a similar way.

I would be interested in hearing about your experience with DNA testing and whether you followed similar training and nutrition plans to the letter and if it worked straight “off the shelves”. Of course if you need help adapting the workout or DNA diet to your needs all you have to do is book a complimentary breakthrough call and I will gladly give you some pointers to make the plan work for you.

Step 1 – You Must Transform Your Body Now!

“The first step towards transformation is awareness”
By Rich “Slayer of Stubborn Fat” Tweten CPT, Author

Have you accidentally programmed your body to be fat for life?

That’s an incredibly scary thought, yet it may be true!

Remember back to a time when you made the decision to slay stubborn fat.

Once motivated, I’m sure you did whatever you believed was necessary at the time to drop those ugly and unwanted pounds.

Did you go on a diet?

Did you start an exercise program?

Did you buy a fat loss product that promised amazing results?

Regardless of the path you chose, obviously your efforts were not fully rewarded since you’re here with me right now.

Even the most effective actions for slaying stubborn fat and improving health mean nothing, if you have unconsciously programmed your body to be fat for life.

What stopped you before and may continue to prevent you from achieving rapid and permanent fat loss results?

It definitely isn’t your body.

Instead, it’s your mind that orders your body to respond to its every command!

To actually achieve rapid and permanent fat loss results, it’s essential to install a new and positive program into your mind.

Otherwise, your body will have no other choice but to follow the old and negative programming that has brought you disheartening fat loss results in the past that comes with a guarantee for fat loss failure in the future.

This positive program will allow you to create and own your new body, instead of renting mediocre fat loss results, if any!

Coming up, you’ll find an assignment with questions that are brought to your attention in a simple, step-by-step format.

Valuable insight and self-actualization will be yours for the taking.

However, before you answer the first question, make sure to open a text file so you can simply type out the answers as you advance.

Here is your goal for this assignment…

To take responsibility for the body you’ve created and increase your awareness about why you need to achieve rapid and permanent fat loss results, then make the decision to get started.

This is going to sound strange, but you need to trust me on this.

Create a private moment for yourself and strip off your clothes.

Yes! I mean it.

Strip off and look in the mirrorKeep your underwear on, or get into a bathing suit and walk over to a mirror (ideally a full length one) and stand in front of it.

Ask yourself the following list of questions as you study your body.

I’d like you to verbally respond to all of the questions and then type out your answers.

For the record, this assignment is intense!

It needs to be in order for you to feel the tenacious drive to create a positive lifestyle transformation and as a result, an improved self-image and new-found happiness.

Question 1: What is your immediate reaction when you stare at the body you’ve created? Make certain that you’re standing in a relaxed position and speak out the feelings that enter your mind.

Question 2: Do you believe that your inner health is being affected in a negative way when your body is living in this state? If so, how? Think of your heart, lungs and arteries, etc.

Question 3: How is the condition of your body affecting your everyday attitude, productivity and performance?

Question 4: How is the condition of your body affecting the people around you and the way they treat you?

Question 5: What has your physical condition cost you in the past and present? Think of your health, self-esteem and other areas that have been affected such as your family, relationships and career.

Question 6: Do you understand why you look and feel the way you do? What are some unhealthy habits which contributed towards that result? Think about inactivity and poor nutrition.

Question 7: Imagine how you will look and feel in 5 years from now if you continue to pick-up more unhealthy habits. How about 10 or 20 years?

Question 8: Describe your physical appearance right now after answering the first 7 questions. Are you smiling, frowning or sad? Yell it out with emotion!

Question 9: Do you know of anyone who is at least 5 years older than yourself and has a similar lifestyle as yours? Assuming that you’re both of the same gender and have a similar bone structure, answer the following questions:

In your opinion, how does that person look and feel?

Do you think that person is happy?

Are you going to allow yourself to look and feel a similar way as this person in the future?

Question 10: Are you worth more than what you see in the mirror?

Question 11: Are you ready to work towards rapid and permanent fat loss results?

If you answered “Yes” to the last question, then way to go!

On the other hand, if you answered “No”… don’t worry, you’re just not ready to commit to a new, healthy lifestyle for a healthier mind and body.

Continue to live your life as happily as can be.

If you change your mind in the future, only then do I want you to continue on from here.

If you haven’t answered all of the previous questions, then I encourage you to go back and complete them.

Since you’ve now decided to work towards rapid and permanent fat loss results, understand that you’ve unlocked the magical door that’s at the beginning of your pathway to a heavenly body!

In this next step, you’re going to get excited and have fun as you set your realistic weight loss goals using visualization…


Rich Tweten Fat Loss SlayerAbout the Author: Rich “Slayer of Stubborn Fat” Tweten is a Certified Personal Trainer and author of PFL90, The Ultimate Psychologically Based Fat Loss Plan. Since 1999, he’s helped thousands of people who’ve accidentally programmed their bodies to be overweight for life to achieve rapid and permanent fat loss results through the successful transformation of their mindset.

PFL90Click here for more information on PFL90. 

Inside, ALL of the AMAZING psychologically based fat loss secrets are PACKED into a series of simple thought provoking assignments with questions that will help you to make that FINAL decision to begin working towards rapid and permanent fat loss results!

Bone bruising: a year into my convalescence

Last week (5th September) I celebrated a year since my infamous injury that caused me extensive bone bruising to the femur and tibia. A lot has happened since I last wrote about it back in March and as I learned many new things I thought it was time to record my progress for posterity and in hope that anyone in my situation will find it useful.

Between March and the end of May not much had changed in the way of my regimen: I still had physiotherapy sessions albeit further apart and I carried on exercising at the gym at least twice per week, most weeks. I went for it wholeheartedly within my limitations. I had to make up for muscle loss in my left leg possibly due to nerve damage and had to improve my ROM as the joint was still rather stiff.


Bone BruisingWant to skip to the good stuff and find out how I made a full recovery?

Get my e-book and read the full story of how I beat the odds to fully recover from my injury.

It took me three years and it wasn’t easy at times but I did it despite being told that I wouldn’t.

Now I am fighting fit again and re-learning to bend like a pretzel.


It’s all about QUALITY of exercise, not QUANTITY

This meant sticking with the basics for a little bit longer. Basic leg exercises like static lunges and squats are a great way to develop strength and co-ordination when we get back to working out after a long break. By focusing on technique rather than number of reps I was able to encourage my joints to work correctly and therefore make them stronger rather than compounding on the damage. I can’t emphasize enough how important this aspect is. Using mirrors for this purpose was key to making progress.

For example, although it felt right my squats were all skew-wiffy as the left knee wasn’t keen on bending in the correct way and so I was shoving my right hip out to allow myself to go into a deeper squat. Bad Crissy!! When I corrected the technique I could no longer squat particularly deep and it hurt like buggery as soon as I tried to go past doing 1/3rd of the movement. Not only that, it made me really wobbly and had to hold on to the punch bag at the gym to be able to do anything at all, ready to pull myself up with my arms in case my legs refused to budge.

It was scary and depressing at the same time and on occasions I found it hard not to burst into tears. Still, I carried on and lo and behold the rewards of consistent training, self-Thai-Massaging myself and physio came. I became strong and lean and my cardiovascular fitness also improved. By the time I had my last physio appointment at the end of May I was told that the progress I made was beyond any expectations from both the knee specialist at the hospital and the physiotherapist herself as she said many people in my situation make only small progress and don’t regain full ROM in the joint. Bollocks to that!

More enforced rest is your friend when dealing with bone bruising

As I approached the end of June I hit a massive roadblock in my convalescence. For some reason my knee started to hurt again all the time and so I was forced to stop all non-essential movement, i.e. I had to give up the gym temporarily. On top of this I had to deal with a wounded cat who didn’t like the idea of being on lockdown that much and did his utmost to drive us up the wall in his attempts to escape!

Why do I mention my cat in this story? Because his slow healing wound was the key to the next step in my recovery. He appeared to be suffering from Flea Allergic Dermatitis which caused him severe pruritus (itching) of the wound that he kept on licking and biting like a feline emo. This caused all sorts of issues that required many rounds of steroids and antibiotics plus the purchase of several buster collars. As I was looking for natural remedies that I could give the fluffy beast to help him heal I discovered that MSM was the closest to a magic potion as I could get.

As well as being ace as a joint supplement, MSM is also a great supplement if you suffer from allergies of any kind and it’s especially useful in keeping the pruritus at bay. So I went shopping and purchased a large bag to cover both of our needs.

MSM bone bruising

I review my supplements regime every month to make sure I am still on target and after reading up on healing times for bone bruising I decided to carry on with my usual Lysine, Cysteine, Vit C and D3 and Omega 3 supplements plus my very strong multivitamins and Kombucha. I simply added 2 doses of MSM every day. Oh and carried on resting.

As I approached the anniversary of my injury most of the pain in the left knee subsided and almost suddenly my ROM in that joint increased significantly. The healing hasn’t stopped and I still have some way to go however the swelling in the joint is almost completely gone which is now leaving room for the nerves to do their job and communicate with the mitochondria in my quads. As a result my thighs are now virtually the same size and the muscles feel plump and bouncy on both sides.

The possibility of having suffered from permanent nerve damage became a major concern but it seems that 2 months of almost complete rest was what I needed to let this phase of healing complete before moving on to the next one. The physiotherapist warned me that it would be a very slow process from now on but I am happy to report that as of now I hardly get any pain from the bones and only a few twinges from the soft tissues which I would say are congruent with the nature of the injury.

I am now in my second week of training again working on basic movements and have even managed a few rounds of switch jumps on a soft surface without negative consequences. I call this a win as I can now focus on rebuilding the physique as opposed to thinking about the rehab. Admittedly during my latest period of enforced rest I kept on eating like a bodybuilder without exercising like one which means that my clothes are a snug fit and the steps make creeky noises when I go up and down the wooden staircase.

Because I am exercising again I am back to using the post-workout recovery blend and this too is making a major difference. I am planning to increase my workload in the next week or so by going back to the gym and resume using the cardio machines to increase my range of motion further (the rower is marvelous for this purpose) and also to burn some of the extra fat I acquired during the Summer.

When I stretch my quads I am three quarters of the way to touching my glutes with my left foot whereas the right knee is already 100%. In view of all this I am now almost certain that in time I will make a 100% recovery and I look forward to be able to kneel down without seeing stars. The cat is almost 100% too, by the way.

As an Exercise Referral Specialist in addition to weight loss and fitness consultancy I can offer help with the management of injuries like mine as well as a number of medical conditions ranging from Hypertension, Obesity, COPD, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Depression and Anxiety, Stress, Diabetes. I can also help you manage PCOS, Menopause and sluggish Metabolism. If you need help with any of the above you can get started by booking a complimentary, non-obligation, 30 min breakthrough call here.


Bone BruisingWant to know what happened next and how I made a full recovery?

Get my e-book and read the full story of how I beat the odds.

It took me three years and it wasn’t easy at times but I did it despite being told that I wouldn’t.

Now I am fighting fit again and re-learning to bend like a pretzel.


12 things you need to banish your love handles once and for all

When you take the decision to undertake a Fitness Makeover you have already overcome the first big obstacle in your quest: inertia. Now you have to gather your tools and resources so that you can actually get started and gain the momentum you need to make this task easy peasy. This in turn will help you stay the course and see your body transformation project through to the end.

Below is a list of all the things you need to finally banish those love handles once and for all. By the way, some of the links below point to products for which I will earn a tiny commission if you make a purchase. I am recommending them because both my clients and myself use them all the time and we are all benefiting from them. They are only suggestions and will hopefully give you an idea of what to look for if the items described are not available where you live.

1 – The winning mindset. Without this success will be hard to achieve and perhaps even elusive. In my experience, clients who spent time getting this right breezed through their programs and enjoyed every step of the process. Especially the part where they exceeded their initial goals. I can help you by offering you my FREE mini-course “Sips of Inspiration”: you will receive 8 short emails straight into your inbox every other day that will help you get clear on your reasons and provide you with the inspiration you need to become unstoppable. If you would rather have the short version you can download the infographic from the sidebar on the right.

2 – A preliminary plan. Once your head is in the right place you need to take a good look at your current lifestyle and see where you can fit in the various components of the fitness makeover program you choose to follow. Have a look at this link for an example of what it takes to go through a complete body transformation.

3 – The right gear for the job. Now that you have a good idea of how your fitness makeover project will fit into your life it’s time to find some great and stylish gear that will make you want to get down and dirty just so that you can wear it. Take a look at this post for a collection of the trendiest fitness clothes for ladies in 2016.

4 – A place to exercise. If you don’t want to sign up for a gym or get filthy in the park you can always exercise indoors in your house or flat. You really don’t need a lot of space and you can re-purpose your furniture to act like gym equipment. For most people this will be a perfectly acceptable choice. You can find more ideas here.

5 – Some basic exercise equipment. Although you can achieve amazing results just by doing bodyweight exercises, for even better results I would recommend investing in some basic equipment. You can create your very own home gym that you can store in the broom cupboard with just 3 items: a yoga mat to give you a soft and non-slippery floor surface, a swiss ball to use as a bench as well as an exercise tool and a pair of dumbbells with adjustable weights for when you are ready to give your fat burning moves a boost. If you find the idea of using weights a bit intimidating you could start out with some resistance bands instead. These aren’t as good as dumbbells but will still give you a jolly good workout. Finally, if you want something to do in lieu of traditional core exercises you could get a hula hoop. Depending on how you use it you can also get a cardio workout out of it.

6 – A trusted supplier of good quality produce. I highly recommend signing up for a weekly delivery of organic produce in a box. There are many companies offering this service nowadays and I urge you to give it a try. As well as eating food that tastes like it’s supposed to be you will be supporting your local farmers and encouraging a return to less intensive farming methods that are kinder to the environment and to the animals being part of the food chain. I have been using Abel and Cole for years now and wouldn’t go back to relying on store bought groceries for all my needs. If they happen to deliver in your area and would like to give them a try drop me an email and I will set you up to receive 50% off your 1st and 4th order with them. If they don’t deliver near you check this article for other companies offering a similar service.

7 – A trusted supplier of sports supplements. This is often a tricky subject for many clients. The thing is you don’t need to use any sports supplements at all to achieve your fitness makeover goals. You can do it by eating normal food. However, the task is a damn lot easier (and cheaper) if you use protein powders and other supplements that will help you grow and retain the muscle you are working so hard to build. There are various schools of thought as to how much protein you need to build muscle and lose fat. Some say you need 2g or protein for each Kg of body weight, some say you need a lot less. Regardless of who you choose to agree with, remember that exercising for fat loss is very different from going for a walk and therefore you have to treat your nutritional needs differently. To consume an adequate amount of protein every day you may need to eat large quantities of meat. This is both impractical and expensive whereas by using protein powders that are formulated with the needs of athletes in mind you will be able to meet your targets easily, cheaply and without eating 3 chickens a day. I have been using Bulk Powders for many years now and would highly recommend them. If you want to check them out use this link and if you decide to buy from them you will get 25% off your first order.

8 – A few meal ideas. I hardly ever recommend recipe books to my clients because I’d rather teach them how to construct their meals AFTER we have unlocked the secrets of how their metabolism works. Some people do well on a high fat diet, others do better on a low carb diet, others still are better off eating more starches but staying away from saturated fats. Typically, recipe books don’t do this. However, if you really insist on such a thing take a look at this recipe book for a collection of awesome fat burning dishes. I especially love the desserts section  😉

9 – An intake calories counter. Calories come after nutrients in terms of importance but they are still extremely important and should never be overlooked. At the end of the day if you want to lose fat you need to restrict your calories intake and the best way to ensure you are doing this is to use a calories counter. There are many available for free online, personally I have used My Fitness Pal in the past both for my clients and myself and found it rather useful especially in the beginning to get a reality check as to how many calories we were consuming on a daily basis. Sometimes it was too many, other times it wasn’t enough. The cool thing is the phone app so that you can track your meals on the go. If you used it straight out of the box it might not be very effective but the macronutrients ratios can be customised to suit your metabolism so with a few tweaks here and there it will become a most valuable tool.

10 – An outgoing calories counter. Keeping track of how many calories you burn on a daily basis is equally as important as knowing how many you acquire with your food and drinks. Restricting your intake with a combination of less food and more movement and exercise is hardly ever a good strategy. Exercise is stressful for the body and so sometimes, if we are going to be very busy with everyday physical tasks, it might be better to back off and rest instead of adding to the stress. My Fitness Pal also allows you to take into consideration the outgoing calories when calculating your nutritional needs, however if you want to get an idea of how many calories you burn during everyday activities have a look at this website. You will need to enter your height and weight for a more accurate reading but it’s quick and you don’t have to fiddle with an app on your phone.

11 – A way to measure your progress. It’s no good going through the effort of a fitness makeover if you don’t know if it’s working or not. Here are some recommendations for keeping track of the changes so you can re-assess and adjust if necessary.

12 – Celebrate your success with a style consultation. At the end of your fitness makeover you will most likely look very different and your body will be a different shape (within its natural shape). If you keep on wearing the same clothes as before you started you will keep on looking less than stellar too. That’s why I highly recommend investing in a consultation with a stylist to help you discover the colours that enhance your features and make you look like a rockstar even when you haven’t slept in 3 days. A good stylist will also analyse your natural shape and recommend the best style of garments for you. Although this step won’t necessary help you banish your love handles it will certainly help you camouflage them while you are still working on your transformation. This is a great place to start: the garments are great quality and you can get a few basic items in your best colours that you can add to your existing wardrobe.

So there you have it. If you can tick each item on this list you will be in a great place to start with your fitness makeover or adjust the course with your existing project. If you need help with any of this you can get in touch by calling 020 8144 5531 (please do leave a message if I can’t take the call) or by sending me a message. Best of luck and if you do have any other suggestions please let me know in the comments below!

 

My secret recipe for Fitness Makeover success

Girl on scale

When it comes to fitness and weight loss there is so much information available in the blogosphere that it’s truly hard to know where to start. I suppose it all boils down to what resonates best with you once you find a few reputable sources of information. You could choose between a bodyweight workout plan, exercises that you can do at home without the need for fitness equipment or you could choose a full on gym program to help you lose weight.

Whichever road you choose to follow it’s good to have a map to help you stay the course and ensure you will safely reach your destination in good time, with the minimum amount of detours. And why not enjoy the scenery in the meantime?

Here is my secret recipe that will allow you to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals regardless of whether you choose to work with me or not:

Preparation time

In order to prepare yourself for your transformational journey you need to take some time out and think deeply about the project that you wish to undertake. The way in which you frame this will be key to your chances of success. How long you will need to complete it is entirely up to you and must fit in with your needs and wants but I do urge you to stop and reflect before you take action. Getting clarity on the reasons why you want to do this will help you stay the course until the end.

Cooking time

This also depends entirely on you, where you are starting at and where you want to get to. You may be surprised to learn that it can take different people the same amount of time to shed 10 Kgs of body weight as to lose 2Kgs of body fat. It’s all down to your metabolism, health and determination. Having said this I recommend you give yourself a minimum of three months to see some major results and not be tempted by dubious programs that promise to help you lose weight fast. The human metabolism is an incredibly complicated and exquisitely sophisticated machine, it doesn’t work in a linear manner and when you think nothing’s happening there might be a lot going on in the background that you are not aware of. Consider this an exercise in faith as much as a game of strategy.

Serves: 1

This is for you and only you.

Ingredients

To succeed at a fitness makeover project you will need a few fundamental ingredients:

  • Knowing what you want to achieve. AKA a goal.
  • A good reason for wanting to achieve that goal (your WHY).
  • Letting go of all the stories that have kept you stuck where you are currently at.
  • An open mind.
  • Willingness to do whatever it takes.
  • A hefty does of commitment to yourself.
  • A large serving of integrity with a sprinkling of honesty.
  • A bucket load of self love.
  • Compassion and forgiveness for when you mess up.
  • A pinch of enthusiasm.
  • Nice shoes. You can never get tired of wearing nice trainers.  😉

Always be kind to yourself

You will also need

    • A place to exercise. This could be your front room, your garden, your bedroom, your home gym, your shed, a proper gym… but you will need some place where you can exercise safely and confidently.
    • Suitable clothing. There is nothing worse than having to work out in clothes that aren’t good for the job. Anything that’s tight and unyielding can’t be used for this purpose. Choose garments that will cover up all the bits you don’t like about yourself (yet) so you don’t have to worry about seeing them. Of course if you exercise at home I wholeheartedly recommend doing so in the buff at least once when nobody is watching. It’s just… awesome!

Home gym equipment

  • Fitness equipment. If you choose to exercise in your home all you need are 3 items: a yoga mat (your gym floor), a swiss ball (your bench) and a pair of dumbbells with adjustable weights.
  • Lots of water.
  • A great nutritional plan.
  • An even better supplements plan.
  • A solid exercise plan.
  • A lifestyle overhaul to make sure you change the bits that work against you and enrich those that already work for you.
  • A few good friends to provide moral support and document your progress. Enemies are also good for this purpose: the greener they get when they see you, the better you are doing. Trust me on this.

Directions

On a large piece of paper (A3 at least) draw a map of your current lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be too detailed but you want to include the typical amount of time that you spend asleep at night, the time you spend commuting to and from work, any activities that you do after work, socialising, how much time you spend cooking, eating out, walking the dog, pulling a length of string to entertain your cats, riding your horse, etc. You can do this in the form of a timeline or an agenda. Whatever works for you.

Next grab some index cards or post-it notes and write down the most important elements of your chosen program. For example: say you have green tickets for exercise and your program requires you to do a 30 minutes workout 3 times per week. On three green tickets write down “workout, 30 min”. Look at your lifestyle map and see where you can fit your exercise tickets. Ideally these will go in at the same time Mon-Wed-Fri but of course this has to work for you so put them where you are willing to fit them in.

Do the same for your meals and for any daily activities that are part of your program, like walking for example. Add a few blue tickets to remind you to drink more water throughout the day. When you have finished you can either hang the new and upgraded lifestyle map on the wall OR take a picture and refer to it whenever you need/want to.

Go and execute the plan. And… voila’!

Woman on swiss ball smiling

If you really struggle to find spaces for your tickets you need to make a choice: either find a less demanding program or let go of some activities that don’t suit you at this time. Or maybe, if you find yourself resisting making any such changes, you may want to consider that you are not ready to do this and it would be a good idea to postpone the project to a later time when you will be excited and looking forward to re-organise your schedule.

Sometimes what the head thinks it wants isn’t necessarily what the heart is willing to do. Just let it be and wait for a better moment. It will come.

Summary

Whatever fat loss and exercise program you choose to follow these are the steps you need to take to make sure it fits in with your lifestyle. If you succeed at making a workable plan I can promise you that sticking to it is going to feel like a sweet Summer breeze. The truth is that weight loss and fitness makeovers aren’t that dissimilar from any other project you may undertake in your every day life: whether it’s work, house renovations, a wedding, cooking, a trip, etc. The more thorough your planning is, the easier the execution will be and the greater the chances of success. In fact, make the last one almost a given that you will succeed.

BUT you still have to do the work to make it work. Don’t forget that.

If you need help making an awesome Fitness Makeover plan all you have to do is book a complimentary 30 min breakthrough call and I will gladly give you some pointers to get you started. Don’t hesitate, book your call now!

Image top right by stockimages on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Want to erase the effects of a bad diet overnight? Try this!

TryThisImage

Every now and then I used to do temping for a sports supplements company. I worked in their Customer Service Dept. answering clients’ questions on a variety of subjects. Sometimes I got to see some true gems coming through the inbox. One of the questions that came through on a regular basis was the classic: “I overeat and I live a sedentary life. Will fat burners* help me lose 10 pounds fast?”

…eeerrrr… nope! They won’t on their own.

I promise you, seeing what people ask about supplements is a great learning experience as I used to be resist exploring this side of nutrition in great depth. My clients are reluctant to use them “for fear of bulking up”. Personally I never used to see the need for supplements either but the more I learned about them, the better I understand how they can be useful.

The magic pill for weight loss

Magic pill for weight lossThe thing is there is no such thing as a magic pill OR juice OR shake OR homeopathic remedy OR recipe book that will make you lose weight as a substitute for doing what works. I.e. eating, moving and exercising regularly with fat loss in mind. The only thing that will truly work like magic is the grey stuff in between your ears if you engage it properly.

This is one of my gripes with some weight loss companies who insist that their sponsored athletes are the product of their products. Eeerrr… no, they are not. They are the product of great genetics that realised their potential through a lot of dedication and hard work over time supported by the products (or being paid a lot of money to say so).

There is a big difference between the needs of an athlete and the needs of an ordinary person trying to shrink a dress size or two. It’s unfair to even suggest that by swapping food for chemical milk shakes anyone could look like a triathlon athlete without actually training or eating like one. And yet we see it all the time…

The irony in all this marketing bullshit is that doing what works is actually easier, cheaper and more exciting than relying on diet products to get results. 95% of my clients are against using supplements of any kind so we hardly ever go there. Yet they regularly surpass their original goals and learn very quickly that to be in great shape they need to change their lifestyle and habits forever not just for 12 weeks. Just like in every other aspect of life and business…

Weight loss success is easy once you accept how hard it can be to achieve.

Woman celebrating weight lossBut here’s where expert guidance come into its own: it can help you wade through the tonnes of fluff out there and go straight for the things that work. Weight loss is such a massive industry these days that it’s so easy to get sucked into the various marketing scams that bleed you dry of your money and leave you fat and unfit. Just so that you can save a few £££s on the coaching that would make a world of difference to your chances of getting the results you want (and possibly save you ££££s in useless crap that you don’t need).

I am saying this because, as part of my market research, I purchased and tried many of the “miracle systems” out there just to see if and how they work. The short answer is that they are largely hit and miss. So if you have also tried some of these programs and “failed” know that you are not alone. And it’s most likely nothing that you did wrong, the program in question wasn’t a good fit for you.

The trend over the past 5 to 6 years has been for trainers to publish DIY programs and extricate themselves from being personally involved with their clients. Whereas this approach is great from a trainer’s point of view because they can reach thousands of people at once, from a client’s point of view it’s not always so great because no matter how comprehensive these programs are (and some of them are awesome), even the best ones will only work straight out of the box for some people and not for everyone.

I am one of those people that these programs don’t really work for. I always have to make changes and adapt them so that they help my body (which has special needs) and not destroy it. Whenever I have come up against obstacles I could never get an answer from the person who created the program (unless I wanted to pay £££s). The only support that is provided usually comes in the form of a Facebook group where moderators regurgitate parts of the manual that came with the program and then other members, usually unqualified to give advice, give advice.

Thankfully I have both the knowledge and experience to find effective workarounds whenever I come a cropper but if the amount of questions coming up in the groups is anything to go by, I would say there are many others who have issues and may never be able to solve them. So they give up and move on to the next program that makes outlandish claims. Or, when they reach the end of their tether, they either give up altogether or they seek help from a Fitness Professional.

If your budget only allows you to stretch as far as DIY programs, then go for it and at least you will make a start. But if you can stretch it a bit further it’s really worth you looking into hiring a professional even if only for a short period of time.

I can help you discover what works for you and only you so that you never have to even think about “dieting” or being miserable over your weight ever again. And I will be there to support you every time you have questions or come up to a roadblock on your journey. I will make myself inconspicuous as I don’t want to monopolisze your busy life or become your stalker, but I also won’t leave you in the shit trying to work things out on your own.

At the end of the day the results you get will depend on the effort and commitment you put in but at least you will be able to figure out all the things that work and that will serve you well for many years to come. AND save you a fortune on unnecessary supplements and DIY programs. Hands up who would rather have a chemical milk shake instead of a gourmet meal?

Learn from my experience and mistakes: the feedback that you get from a qualified mentor is priceless. By “qualified” mentor I mean someone who, like me, knows their subject, has many years of experience in their field, have overcome the same struggles as you and helped others do the same. I always made progress in leaps and bounds when under the guidance of mentors so I invite you to do the same.

If you are fed up with fuffing around and are serious about achieving your weight loss and fitness goals once and for all schedule your complimentary breakthrough call right now. Let’s see where you are at and how I can help you get to your destination. Without obligation.

*By the way, fat burners are great help but only if used in the context of a fat loss promoting lifestyle. Not as a stand alone miracle cure.

Good friends are great for your health

Relaxation and time out are fundamental ingredients for a successful Fitness Makeover. Not that we need any reasons to hang out with our favourite people in the world but sometimes we get so caught up with our lives that we forget to stay in touch. We really ought to make a point to never sacrifice time with our friends in favour of other pursuits.

Science offers the theory that we are not so much what we eat but who we eat with… meaning that if you are on a journey to reshape your body you might get a higher chance of success if you hang out with friends who are already lean and have succeeded at their Fitness Makeover projects. They will be able to inspire you and help you avoid common pitfalls, plus they will effortlessly set an example for how to make the best choices to support your goals.

In Italy we have a proverb that says “She who finds a friend, finds a treasure” – here are some reasons why I believe this to be true:

Good friends will lift you up with the rising tide

Ever started up on a Fitness Makeover project on your own and noticed your initial motivation waning as the days go by until it’s all but a distant memory? Well a good friend will hold you accountable to your declared goals and will show up on time on exercise days to make sure you don’t skip any. Let’s face it: going out for a walk with a friend is more fun than going on your own. Introspection time is also great for you and shouldn’t be discarded altogether as we do need some time alone to recharge our emotional batteries. But have you noticed how 20 minutes of intense exercise feel like 2 minutes when you are with a good friend?

I am not suggesting that you should rely entirely on your friend(s) for motivation, you must have some of that within you to begin with but isn’t it a great place to be when you can be each other’s rock and help each other celebrate every little smidgen of progress?

Good friends can increase your lifespan

Being able to offload your most troublesome thoughts with a friend or 10 is very important when we are feeling under the weather. Stress has detrimental effects on our body and being able to share and receive comfort from those in our corner can be incredibly soothing and reassuring. As humans we are meant to be naturally social and social media has brought with it the opportunity to communicate and share our thoughts with thousands of people around the world at any one time.

Although online communities can be a great place to discuss any aspect of our lives, they can also highlight the fact that at the end of the day we can be social online but still be home alone. There is no real substitute for sitting at a table with real people, the same people that have seen us at our worst whilst stumbling on the mess we left on the floor because we have been feeling under the weather. There is no Facebook chat that can be as beneficial as a hug or a shoulder rub from a trusted friend.

Research has shown that vibrant social relationships can increase your chances of survival by 50% so for goodness’ sake go out and have fun with your friends! Your lifespan depends on it! 🙂

Good friends blowing confetti together

Good friends are great for your health

There is scientific evidence that strong social relationship can significantly help us improve our health. A study conducted on 86 women suffering from metastatic breast cancer showed that those who received emotional support lived twice as long as those who didn’t. Another study revealed that patients at risk of Chronic Heart Disease who had strong social relationships benefited from lower blood pressure and therefore a healthier heart. Not to mention that the relaxation brought about by spending time laughing with friends can help lower cortisol levels and therefore ensure the immune system is working at full strength.

Want to take relaxation to the next level? Why not visit your local spa for a day of meditation and relaxation? There are so many different ways in which you can share a very special mental space with your friends: chanting, gong baths, traditional yoga classes and even my new favourite Strala Yoga which I had the pleasure of trying out for the first time in May 2016. It’s a really great way of exploring movement and flow without experiencing some of the pain and discomfort that holding yoga poses for any length of time can bring about if you are flexibly challenged like me.
Good friends help you stay young (I wouldn’t call it regressing…)

Good friends gossipingIf your present sucks it’s good to get together with friends to reminisce the past. This is what happens every single time I go to Italy to visit my family and meet up with friends from my (not totally misspent) youth. A positive mindset is vital when you are instigating changes to your lifestyle in order to achieve the body of your dreams. Sometimes when life keeps throwing you lemons it’s really difficult to stay positive and keep on moving forwards.

So why not take a step back for a day and revisit the past with your closest friends? Laughing and reminiscing always has a wonderful effect on me. Suddenly I feel uplifted again and ready to tackle whatever shit life decides to throw my way with renewed zest. It’s a bit like when athletes take a step backward to launch themselves forward more effectively.

Good friends come in all shapes and sizes

Don’t have enough good quality human company? Let’s not forget our four legged friends. They might not be able to hold a proper conversation with us but they always seem to find new ways of bringing a smile to our face. PLUS you never have to doubt whether or not they meant that friendly gesture. They did. That’s why they are ace.

Good friends trick you into moving when you don’t feel like exercising

Good friends soaking feet togetherHave you ever woken up in the middle of your Fitness Makeover project and felt sick at the prospect of doing structured exercise? Me too. That’s when your friends come to the rescue: a night out clubbing, playing ten pin bowling, visiting an art gallery, browsing the local food fayre or exploring your nearest Mind & Body festival are all excellent ways to keep on moving when you don’t feel like exercising. Regular movement is actually more important than structured exercise both for your health and your weight loss ambitions so embrace your friends’ suggestions and go out for a boogie and a laugh.

I am sure you can probably figure out many more reasons why friends are good for you depending on your unique circumstances. If nothing else, please let this post serve as a reminder to pick up the phone and reach out to “that” friend that you haven’t heard from in a very long time. Liking each other’s posts on Facebook doesn’t count.

So, what did I miss out? In which other ways are friends good for your health? Let me know in the comments below!

Mind your language! Learn how to use self-talk effectively.

The language we use can be very powerful. The words we use to communicate with our loved ones, our colleagues, business partners, bosses, acquaintances, readers can make or break somebody’s day. They can set the mood, they can inspire, they can scare, they can bring about happiness and they can make us feel powerful.

The words that we use when we “speak to ourselves” via our thoughts are just as powerful and way more important than those spoken by others. This is what is known in psychology as “self-talk” and it usually consists of an internalised running commentary of how we are doing what we are doing every moment of our lives. A bit like when we watch horse racing on TV.

Unfortunately, unlike the horses, we get to hear every single bit of this commentary whether it’s positive and empowering or whether it’s negative and disempowering. When clients first approach me they are usually trapped into the latter situation and during our initial consultation I often get to discover new and different ways in which people can berate themselves. I have been there too and actually, truth be told, there will always be times in which indulging in negative self-talk seems like the most appropriate thing to do. For a little while.

Always be kind to yourself

If you have also experienced this type of self sabotaging internal dialogue you will agree that it’s not a nice place to be. Imagine constantly looking the other way to avoid catching your reflection in the shop windows because you don’t like the way you look. And when you do catch a glimpse of yourself you start thinking about how your clothes are too tight, you are too fat, you are too short, you look like you have just jumped out from under a stone, and so on…  How is that going to make you feel?

I know, not very good. And how is being in that frame of mind going to encourage you to find a creative solution to this problem of yours? It won’t.

So, what’s the best strategy for turning this around?

heart shaped cup of coffee in the snow

Well, in my experience, having felt totally dissatisfied with my body size and shape for years, being told to start thinking different thoughts isn’t going to help much. Nor is reading thousands of “be inspired quotes”. In my case (and also many of my clients) the negative self-talk was perpetuated by less than enlightening decisions at the dinner table (I bet I can still out-eat most of you when it comes to Tiramisu’ or pizza) and therefore fueled by guilt over sabotaging myself at every opportunity.

One of my past clients was going through the same experience. The first step in turning this nonsense around wasn’t suggesting that she put on a pair of rose tinted glasses whenever she walked past a mirror and tell herself that everything was lovely… nope… the first step on her way to recovery from the negative self-talk hamster wheel was to simply accept what was, what is. Calling herself names wasn’t very empowering but accepting that that was the situation and forgiving herself for all the choices she didn’t want to admit she made up to that point was very powerful and eventually led her to successful weight loss.

What’s important at this point is being totally honest with yourself. The acceptance has to be wholehearted, not just an affirmation repeated over and over again. Unless it’s truly felt it’s just a whole bunch of meaningless words. After acceptance comes (enlightened) action.

There is a new current of thought that is gaining prominence in the field of Sports Psychology: it’s called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (click here for a bullet point explanation). At its core it encourages people to be mindful of their internal dialogue and evaluate whether it’s useful towards the achievement of a goal or not. If the self talk isn’t of any value thoughts are not resisted or opposed with positive language. Instead thoughts that are not useful are simply “observed” and allowed to go through us.

How do we apply this to body transformations, fitness and weight loss?

As previously said if you catch yourself thinking unflattering thoughts about yourself do not try to counteract this with fake enthusiasm. We have all seen at least a friend or relative suddenly going all Mr. Motivator on Facebook only to succumb to the lure of the greasy burger a few days later because they couldn’t sustain their own motivation without the help of people who in reality couldn’t care less. This approach hardly ever works.

Instead focus on becoming aware of the negative self-talk going on in your head and as you bring each thought into awareness imagine that it’s going to float away like a helium balloon. You may wish to “thank that thought” for making you aware of a situation that’s causing you stress and conflict but always let it go. You will feel lighter and more relaxed each time you do this.

Once you have mastered this exercise you can start asking yourself empowering questions. This is when the magic happens. Once we are in this more peaceful spot we can allow ourselves to see the steps we need to take in order to achieve our goals through our chosen weight loss programmes.

At this point it will also pay off to re-frame your fitness makeover goals using empowering words and sentences. For example: if your initial goal was to “lose X amount of weight” you might find that thinking about “finally being able to fit into a size Y dress” is more likely to make you smile. You will also be more likely to make better choices at the grocery store that will effortlessly support you while you are on this journey.

paper dollsFinally, let’s not forget to tap into our network of supporting friends and family members.

Whereas I always advocate hiding your body transformation project from those who might resist your desire for change, I also encourage clients to surround themselves with a group of people who will always be supportive, kind and will call them out on their bullshit if they steer off course and blame it on someone or something else.

Language, especially in relation to self-talk, is such a powerful yet vastly overlooked tool at our disposal when undertaking a Fitness Makeover. It can really set us up for unapologetic success before we even buy our first lettuce leaf or attempt our first squat. The picture that we paint of ourselves with words can make all the difference in other aspects of our lives too: click here if you wish to read the inspiring story by WishWall creator Simonetta Lein about a young man turned artist after suffering life altering injuries in a car accident. Watch his language!

What is your experience with positive or negative self talk? Let me know in the comments below! And of course if you are looking for an effective weight loss programme that uses all the right words get in touch!  😉

2016 Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet

This post is for all the friends that read my blog posts on a regular basis (thank you!) and with whom I occasionally sit down and discuss what I am doing to promote and grow my fitness business. Social media is a big part of it and I find it both a Godsend (does anyone remember leafleting?) and an almighty pain in my f**king arse, especially when it comes to creating content and images. Content is the easiest one of the two, images are a real headache because of the squillion different sizes and formats required for each social media channel.

I know that the differences are what make each channel unique but still… what a b****rd when it comes to promoting 1 blog post across 5 different platforms: it takes me at least a whole working day just to create all the different images. I say create because it’s often not possible to just tweak the main image: to do a proper job I have to adjust the layout so that it has the desired impact once looked at through each social media channel. Plus I have to take into account that different “types” of people prefer different social media channels and therefore I need to try and think like them to make sure both image and caption will resonate with them.

So, having now almost mastered Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn I am now spending Saturday afternoon trying to figure out Pinterest once and for all. I was actually considering ditching Pinterest but as it turns out my boards are quite popular without me knowing how so I thought I’d better nurture it. One of my favourite tools to create images for Pinterest and for most other social media channels is Canva – I use the free version and I find it to be absolutely perfect for this purpose especially if I don’t have to fiddle with the images.

I scoured the internet to resolve my dilemma once and for all and this, my dear friends, is what I found (with permission to reproduce on here, of course!):

2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

MakeAWebsiteHub.com

P.S.
If you wonder what relevance this post has to what I normally do… consider it a mindset exercise: instead of just giving up in the face of challenges I spanked them all by coming up with a genius solution (having the image in one of my posts so that I won’t lose it in the future).

Happy Saturday everyone! 🙂

The “Elemental Diet” – a brief look at the approach to nutrition for optimum health from a Traditional Thai Medicine Theory point of view

I hate doing cardio at the gym. This much I have in common with 95% of my clients. However, in the ultimate effort of turning a negative situation (cardio) into a positive one, when I really think about it, the time that I am forcing myself to spend sweating on a pushbike going nowhere is actually one of the few opportunities that I have to read a book without stealing precious time away from other Reading a book at the gym while doing cardioimportant tasks. Apart from the rower most other cardio machines are great for this purpose: plonk the book or tablet (as in my case) on the little ledge at the front of the settings screen and you are ready to go.

By the way, this tactic works better when doing steady cardio, if you are doing HIIT it’s unlikely to work as most of your resources will be devoted towards completing the sprints in a safe and efficient manner and you won’t be able to concentrate on the book.

One of the books that I managed to read in this way is “Seven Peppercorns” which has nothing to do with Fitness Makeovers™ but contains some surprising gems of knowledge with regards to nutrition for optimum health from the point of view of Traditional Thai Medicine. As a Thai Yoga Massage practitioner I couldn’t resist buying it as it provides answers to the many questions I had about my chosen style of holistic treatments and it helped me understand better the framework from within which Thai Massage evolved into the beautiful healing art that it is today. Even after reading the book I am still scratching the surface and, in fact, have more questions, but at least I know a little bit more.

SUPER QUICK INTRO TO THAI ELEMENTAL MEDICINE

Cover of "Seven Peppercorns" - click to buy on Amazon

Click the image to purchase this book on Amazon

Quoting directly from the book: “Traditional Thai Medicine has five different roots: Medicinal Sciences, Physical Therapies, Spirit Medicine, Divinatory Sciences, and Buddhism (which can be seen as the mental health root). These roots are bound together by two common threads: Buddhist concepts and view, and Thai element theory. (…) it is the basis upon which all traditional Thai medical diagnosis and treatments are founded”.

According to this theory there are 5 elements that make up everything in our world: our bodies, the trees, the earth, the sea and our thoughts. These elements are: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space. It’s believed that ‘it is the balance, or imbalance of these elements that is the root cause of all health and disease’.

In a nutshell, according to Traditional Thai Medicine (but other cultures have also similar theories) the 5 elements that make up our bodies are:

  • Earth represents solidity and its qualities are that it’s hard, stable and heavy. Earth is tangible, it has mass. The function of the Earth element is to provide support like a skeleton or a building. In our bodies Earth is everything that has mass, like bones, the organs, the skin and the nails. The element of Earth is closely linked with the element of Water without which it would crumble.
  • Water is also a tangible element. It literally represents everything that has fluidity within us: blood, sweat, tears, synovial fluids. Water brings cohesion to our bodies and keeps us supple and moist.
  • Fire is heat or the lack of. It’s bright, reactive but it’s also dry, rough, mobile, causes aging, emotions and fever among others. It’s associated with the sense of sight, with digestion and with the urge to move as well as with the articulation of ideas. For those of you who are into numerology it is associated with the number 4. Whereas the previous two elements are tangible Fire is more similar to a metabolic process rather than a physical part.
  • Wind is movement. This includes breathing, speaking, running, gesticulating, and so on. It’s light and dry, cool, abrasive, subtle. Like Fire, Wind is also considered to be a metabolic process more than a physical element although it’s associated with the sense of touch. It’s the lightest of all the elements and it’s therefore the easiest to throw out of balance.
  • Space is the hardest element to grasp: it’s emptiness, it’s the atmosphere but also the empty spaces within our bodies. Its nature is to be expansive and it can be used to relate to our minds: are the open and ready to receive or are they full of thoughts, feelings and ideas? The element of Space relates to our bodies via the orifices by providing the gateway between the environment inside and outside of the body.

CORE ELEMENTAL CONSTITUTION AND DIET

Now that we have set the scene we can get to the juicy bits leading to the “Elemental Diet”. Please remember that this is just a “curiosity exercise” for fun and it’s not meant to be the next fad diet or fitness program. Got it? OK, here we go…

When it comes to physical appearance and diet we only look at the first 4 elements listed above: Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. Each one of us tends to have a constitution that expresses one or two of these elements more than the others. This “core elemental constitution” affects us in every respect: physical appearance, predisposition towards certain diseases and even character traits. Depending on which element is dominant within us we can follow some basic nutrition principles that will serve us best.

Earth, Wind, Fire and Water

As a general rule, it is recommended to always eat quality unprocessed foods preferably organic, seasonal and whole foods, home cooked whenever possible. It’s best to eat when you are hungry and before you become famished and stop when you feel satisfied but before you are full. Food should be well cooked and warm as raw and cold foods can be hard on the digestive system. You could make some distinctions based on the weather: when it’s hot eat sweet, bitter and astringent foods, when it’s cold choose hot pungent, sour and astringent foods and when it’s rainy or stormy go for aromatic and warming foods (things like cinnamon). Don’t eat after 7pm. Good sleep is always recommended as is exercise although not the intense cardiovascular variant as it’s seen as being too strenuous on the heart. Truth is that’s exactly one of the reasons why we do it, to train the heart but hey, on bad days I’ll go all Thai from now on and skip cardio! Now let’s take a look at each element and see what specific advice is available for them.

Earth element

“Earth people” in Thai tradition are very similar in physical appearance to what we would call endomorphs, i.e. strong and muscular or heavy set, big boned and will have a squareness of shape. Mentally, “Earth people” tend to be grounded, resistant to change, not keen on travel but with a balanced and compassionate disposition.

Earth people will do well on a balanced diet with plenty of organic produce that is nourishing and well cooked. As long as they follow the general rules they will be fine.

Water element

“Water people” tend to have a voluptuous figure and healthy complexion. Like the Earth people they also tend to have a large frame, with a steady stride. They can have a tendency to being overweight but they are usually known for their beauty. Water people can have slow digestion and when injured they are also slow to heal. This general slowness in the movement of fluids leads them to retain toxins for longer and therefore be prone to illnesses. Mentally, water people “tend to be easy-going and flexible with an inner sweetness. They are often intuitive” and have a natural talent for the arts. Very emotional they can find it difficult to embrace new ideas quickly.

Coffee is a big no-no for Water people who should also avoid having cold foods like fruit and yogurts for breakfast and concentrate on warm foods instead. Raw foods are also not good for them as is consuming meat and sweets. The best foods are cooked vegetables, rice and pungent spices. Engaging in active exercise with lots of big movements will be beneficial.

Fire element

“Fire people” tend to have slightly reddish or tan complexions. Red heads will undoubtedly have fire as their dominant element. Physically they are average build but strong and athletic, their eyes are clear and sharp. Mentally they can be very intelligent and articulate, driven, good leaders even when they lean towards being selfish. They can also be short tempered and aggressive.

Spicy foods are not that good for fiery people who should lean towards eating cooling foods. Three large meals are better than smaller ones as long as their digestive system is firing on all cylinders. Black coffee is best avoided as is alcohol. Bitter foods such as rucola, radicchio and mustard greens are great. Moderate exercise in cool surroundings is beneficial.

Wind element

“Wind people” tend to be similar in appearance to what we refer to as “Endomorphs”: with light thin bodies that can be either very tall or very short. They also tend to have dark complexion, smaller eyes and find it difficult to stay warm. Like their Fiery counterparts, they can be very intelligent especially academically and quick learners, however their communications can be superficial and “flighty” quickly jumping from one subject to the next. They can be anxious, nervous, creative but also overstimulated.

The best foods for Wind people are those that are highly nutritious and with aromatic spices. Plenty of oils and healthy fats are good, as well as good quality dairy products. It’s best to eat several smaller meals throughout the day than just two or three larger ones. Food should be either steamed or otherwise well cooked. They should avoid raw foods as well as engaging in extreme dietary restrictions.


What surprised me the most as I read the book was that it actually included a whole section about nutrition and exercise. I bought it because I wanted to learn more about the philosophy behind Thai Yoga Massage as a bodywork art and discovered just how “wholistic” this medicinal system is not focusing on symptoms of disease but instead taking care that all the “systems” within the body are in balance and what to do to keep them that way. Fascinating.

None of the above classifies as “new and revolutionary” information but it provides perhaps an additional framework from which we can review our eating and exercising habits when we don’t seem to achieve results in a timely manner. Could it be that by making a few simple changes according to what we think (there is no testing as such involved, it’s more down to intuition) is our core elemental constitution we will see a difference?

As a final thought, I found all the comments about eating whole and unprocessed foods preferably organic rather interesting. I am sure this part is heavily influenced by modern times as I doubt very much there were things such as glyphosate at the time of the Buddha, however it’s funny that in the XXI century we spend so much time reading and discussing the virtues of organic food as if it was a novelty when it really was the only way of life for so many thousands of years.

Oh! And what about the “Seven Peppercorns”? Well, apparently if we swallow 7 black fat juicy peppercorns first thing in the morning we will enjoy better digestion, less wind and less stressful thoughts during the day.

I think my primary elemental constitution is predominantly fire with some wind and a splash of water. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

The Twitter Dinner Experiment starring my “Venison Ragu'”

ABSTRACT

In the past few weeks I managed to catch up on a lot of unfinished projects and systems that needed to be set up which has freed up a lot of my time previously taken up by stressing over said incomplete tasks. I never really got the hang of Twitter and often wondered why is it that people spend so much time on it. I must say, I don’t often see that many interesting posts as my stream appears to be cluttered with tweets from companies promoting other companies so I set out to turn this around.

METHOD – PART 1

First of all I reconnected with my Audiense account for an in-depth health check of my Twitter account and to address the balance between following and followers. After clearing out a whole bunch of people that I had no idea I was following and who were cluttering my stream with dodgy posts I started looking at some statistics. I am not a bit fan of Social Media but I understand its importance so I participate, some times more wholeheartedly than others. After talking to a friend who gets paid to tweet on somebody else’s behalf I discovered that a) I am more popular, b) there are all sorts of funky metrics that I can look at from within Twitter itself to see how much time I am spending pissing in the wind as opposed to making progress.

I played with a variety of different style tweets for a few days and got mixed results but, amazingly, some engagement and a few new followers. It’s still too early to renounce my self-imposed title of “Anti-social-media Queen” so I decided to carry out an experiment to see if I could move a further step forward in that direction.

BTW

In case you wonder how this post fits in with my SMART Fitness Makeover project and body transformations I shall refer you back to the paragraphs on “A = Amaze Yourself” and “T = Three Dimensional” on the homepage. It’s my experience that whenever people muster the courage to take a tiny little step outside of their comfort zone they will soon be looking in all sorts of different directions to repeat the experience in other areas of their lives. It’s that good that they can’t have enough of the sweet feeling of accomplishment. For example it’s quite natural for me to take a massive leap into the unknown when looking at exercise, nutrition or success mindset. However it’s totally unnatural for me to be social. As I summoned the courage to be bold in my exercise choices for rehab I thought that if I could push myself like that at the gym I could also push myself just as much in an effort to be social on social media. There’s nothing quite like a bit of laser focus and “what if…” attitude to make strides. On this occasion I flexed my Twitter muscle.

METHOD – PART 2

Back to my Twitter experiment. Sometimes the best ideas are those that happen on the spur of the moment if we are in a position to act on them straight away. As I went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner I had a light bulb moment: “Why not run a #Twittermentary of me making #Sundaydinner?” – genius! And so it started. With bad lighting. A retro cooker. An equally retro saucepan that looks shit in photographs and a 3-models-ago tablet that takes even shittier pictures in dodgy lighting conditions. What could possibly go right?

RESULTS

I ended posting 6 tweets detailing in 140 characters or less how to make venison ragu’. I remember to take pictures for 5 of them. The first tweet had 2 likes and 84 impressions, the second tweet had more impressions but only 1 like, tweet number 3 tanked in terms of impressions but people actually started to click on the post. Tweet number 4 is when I got the majority of impressions and media engagements, plus actual interactions with people who had seen the picture of the food and commented on it. Tweet number 5 (without picture) was average and the final tweet with a picture of the food ready to eat shot back up in terms of impressions and engagement.

Twitter Experiment Post 4 Analytics

DISCUSSION

I am well aware that in the big scheme of Twit’o things the stats in the image above are pathetic BUT I am very proud of them because I now know that it’s perfectly possible to go from zero to some kind of engagement in the amount of time that it takes to cook ragu’. No, seriously, when I look at other people’s posts (the one time it’s good practice to make comparisons) I see hardly any engagement of any kind. It’s like we are all tweeting to ourselves with the occasional individual or company who manages to get a massive engagement. So for 8 people to click on a bad photo of my pasta sauce (pre-photoshop too) I think it’s awesome.

PLUS I gained a few new “seem like genuine people” followers who occasionally like my Tweets and have even met one of them in person to chat about fitness and skincare products. Most importantly it’s been good fun doing it and that seems to be the key to be successful with our social media efforts. Yes, we want to get our message out to the masses and, ideally, we would like to gain new clients but I am sure you are all also sick and tired of being sold at on social media. As much as I love Buffer for managing my posts I feel it’s time that we all stop scheduling everything and go back to being social and actually talk to each other as our favourite apps aren’t doing that much of a good job in creating new connections. I never thought I would say something like this!

THE RECIPE

Anyway, below is the full recipe for the Venison Ragu’ with images duly edited and slightly pizzazzed. It’s a great recipe, fairly quick to prepare and that will keep in the fridge for a few days. In Italy 1/2 Kg of Venison mince in ragu’ form would make a dozen meals as typically we are only allowed to use one or two tablespoons on the pasta but in my SMART Fitness Makeover way of doing things I reverse this: I tend to use more sauce (protein from meat) and less pasta (starches). My mum would have a fit but it works from a nutritional point of view by combining sensible macro proportions with great flavour and pleasure.

CALL TO ACTION

Enjoy and if you try it and like it please let me know in the comments below. Also, I send out my blog posts via my newsletter once a week – if you would like to keep on top of my ramblings please use the form in the sidebar to sign up.  Finally if you would like to be social with me on social media you can follow me on Twitter: @SMARTFitnessPro or on my Facebook Page. 🙂

Print Recipe
Venison Ragu'
A "wild" variation on Italy's classic pasta sauce with a strong and rich flavour that's perfect for warming up on a cold early Spring evening.
Step 5: dish out and enjoy!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped organic
  • 0.5 celery, finely chopped organic, leaves included
  • 4 large carrots, finely chopped organic
  • 2 large cloves of garlis, finely chopped organic
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 500 grams Venison, minced from a high welfare establishment
  • 1 glass Red wine Chianti
  • 500 grams Tomato passata organic
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • Seasoning Rock salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 400 grams Gluten Free Pasta Any shape will do
  • 1 handful Parmigiano Reggiano, grated Only the real thing will do!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped organic
  • 0.5 celery, finely chopped organic, leaves included
  • 4 large carrots, finely chopped organic
  • 2 large cloves of garlis, finely chopped organic
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 500 grams Venison, minced from a high welfare establishment
  • 1 glass Red wine Chianti
  • 500 grams Tomato passata organic
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • Seasoning Rock salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 400 grams Gluten Free Pasta Any shape will do
  • 1 handful Parmigiano Reggiano, grated Only the real thing will do!
Step 5: dish out and enjoy!
Instructions
  1. Gather the onion, the garlic, the celery and the carrots together and chop them finely with a half moon knife or kitchen implement of your choice. You don't want to reduce them to dust speckles, and it's actually good if some remain a bit on the larger side to give some texture to the ragu'.
    Venison Ragu Step 1: soffritto
  2. In a large saucepan add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Warm up gently and as soon as the oil starts to release its scent add the finely chopped vegetables. Season, stir and gently fry for a few minutes, until the onions become translucent and they begin to soften.
  3. It's now time to add the venison mince plus the herbs to the simmering saucepan. It's important to spend a couple of minutes stirring the contents to ensure the minced meat is not forming large clumps so that it cooks evenly. If you want to add a bit of "bite" to your ragu' this is also a good time to add some hot stuff: paprika, cayenne paper, chilli powder, real chillies... the choice is yours.
    Setp 2 - add the venison mince
  4. As soon as the venison mince is uniformly browned and "free from clumping" it's time to add a glass of good quality red wine. For this recipe I added a glass of Chianti and it was simply perfect. In Italy we have drinking wine and cooking wine which is often cheap and made from a mixture of grapes. However venison would be considered a "special treat" so you might as well use something with a strong, solid flavour. Stir well, lower the heat and leave to simmer for a few minutes.
    Step 3 - add the Chianti
  5. As soon as the wine has evaporated it's time to add the passata to the saucepan. Stir the lot for a minute or so until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, wait for the passata to boil and then lower to heat so that it can sit there and simmer in peace for a little while. Before you leave the room to catch up on your favourite TV program check the ragu to make sure the seasoning is spot on and adjust accordingly.
  6. When you think that the ragu' is almost ready, in a separate saucepan heat up some water and bring to the boil. Add a good handful of sea salt. Add the pasta. For this recipe I also added some broccoli to make this a complete meal and increase the amount of veggies. You don't have to do this and you can just have the pasta on its own or substitute the broccoli with a different type of green veg. I have to use gluten free pasta which takes up to 20 minutes to become "al dente" and ready to eat, if you use ordinary pasta made with durum wheat this time is cut by half.
  7. As soon as the pasta is giving the first signs of softening up remove the ragu' from the heat and leave to rest for a few minutes. When the pasta is "al dente" remove from heat, drain and leave to rest for 1 minute before dishing out. Share equally in some bowls and cover with the ragu'. Drizzle some raw EVOO on top and finish off with a couple of teaspons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Stir well and enjoy!
    Step 5: dish out and enjoy!
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Bone bruising: how to heal from it. What I learned in the past 6 months

wpid-id-100201333.jpgThis weekend just gone (5th March 2016) was the 6-month-versary of my knees exploding during a tame Parkour training session. To say that it’s been an enlightening journey and an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement. In the immediate aftermath of the silly accident with devastating consequences the prevalent emotions were panic and despair.

As someone who enjoys being active all the time, suddenly finding myself confined to a sofa without the choice of getting up and moving brought on fear and sadness.

I was devastated at the prospect of having to take time off as at my age physical prowess declines at an alarming rate and to this day I don’t really know whether I will be able to regain the full range of movement in my left knee or if I will be able to get my considerable strength back.

It took a good couple of months to reach a definitive verdict about the extent of my injuries: initially, because the x-rays didn’t show any damages, the symptoms suggested I might have suffered damages to the meniscus and/or surrounding ligaments, however the fact that although I was in agony my knee joint was stable and strong called for some thorough investigation.


Bone BruisingWant to skip to the good stuff and find out how I made a full recovery?

Get my e-book and read the full story of how I beat the odds to fully recover from my injury.

It took me three years and it wasn’t easy at times but I did it despite being told that I wouldn’t.

Now I am fighting fit again and re-learning to bend like a pretzel.


Thanks to a fortuitous set of circumstances I found myself with access to a superb team of knee specialists at Basildon Hospital (Essex, UK) who rushed me through the system and got me in an MRI machine within days of seeing the first consultant. The scan revealed the truth about my injury: all the soft tissues were intact and in fact “in good shape all considered”, however the pain was being caused by extensive bone bruising mostly along the outside of my left femur but also in the rest of the areas surrounding the knee joints.

What did that mean for me? Apparently, according to the surgeon in charge of my knees, that I was very lucky as I didn’t require any surgery to fix the damages and that I would make a full recovery, eventually, as long as I give time the time to work its magic.

So, what exactly is bone bruising and how can it be treated?

Bone bruising (aka microfractures) is a result of a traumatic injury but also stress to the affected bones arising from repetitive overload of the area when it is not strong enough to take it and not giving it enough time to adapt and repair itself. This, in everyday English, means overdoing it whether it’s working, running, walking, jumping. The symptoms include excruciating pain, swelling, change in the colour of the skin, stiffness of the joint if one is affected.

The remodeling of fractures is an incredibly complex process and there is still much to be learned about it. For the purpose of this blog post I will try my best to explain in the simplest of terms what I discovered reading a number of research papers on the subject.

First of all, when it comes to “ordinary bone maintenance” our bodies essentially carry out two tasks every day: remove old and damaged tissue (osteoclastic process) and replace it with new and healthy tissue (osteoblastic process) in an attempt to reach homeostasis (i.e. keep the status quo).

When bone bruising occurs the osteoblastic process now also needs to fill in all the tiny little cracks making up the microfractures as well as carrying out “ordinary maintenance”. When the trauma initially occurs an acute inflammatory response is triggered. Although painful and uncomfortable for the patient, this reaction is essential to initiate healing and, contrary to what the “Ibuprofen” brigade would have you believe, shouldn’t be suppressed. This phase peaks for approximately a week and then gradually gets less strong but never really goes away throughout the various stages of the healing process.

Following the initial inflammation phase the process of bone regeneration starts: at first the body generates a fibrous granulation tissue at the site of the injury which is then followed by the formation of a collagen matrix made up from a number of molecules that are being recruited and extracted from surrounding tissues (including bone marrow, soft tissue, periosteum, etc.).

The formation of new blood vessels at the site of the injury is the next important process followed by the mineralization of the fibrous granulation tissue. At this stage, although the bones have reacquired some degree of mechanical rigidity they aren’t fully healed yet. It is at this stage of the healing process that osteoclasts and osteoblasts get really to work to reabsorb the hardened callus and replace it with lamellar bone deposition in situ.

This incredibly complex sequence of events can take months and even years to fully regenerate a broken bone. In my specific case I was advised that it might take up to a year from the moment the injury occurred and possibly longer due to my age. (As it turned out it took almost 3 years to heal my bone bruising and I am not sure it’s completely over yet).

What can we do to support the healing process?

Quite a lot, actually. Here is a quick recap, below is the full explanation.

1. Eat more (of the right foods for the job)

The body requires more energy to repair itself which means we need to eat more to meet the new metabolic demands. Depending on the extent of the severity of the injury this can mean upwards of 4000 KCal per day (but most likely less)!

Although in my books this is a great excuse for eating more high calorie foods like pizza, cakes, ice cream, chips and crisps I am also acutely aware of the immense balancing act that needs to be made here. Yes we need more calories but we are also forced to move less and so unless we are crafty as to how we go about this process we are at risk of getting massively fat which will create a whole other set of issues when we are finally mobile again.

My strategy in this respect was to increase caloric intake by staying away from “man-made” foods like pasta, pizza, etc. and increase the consumption of natural starches like sweet potatoes, potatoes and other root vegetables. This was also the time that my post-workout protein powder came into its own: because they are carefully formulated to provide all the nutrients needed to support the process of repairing the body from the micro-damages of intense exercise I was able to integrate my diet with a product that was relatively high in calories and nutrients but low in volume to consume.

2. Increase intake of proteins and amino acids

The extra amino acids are needed to aid in the synthesis of new proteins to help create new bone tissue. Bones are 50% made of proteins embedded with mineral crystals and if we don’t receive enough through our food the end result is a rubbery callus instead of rigid bone, longer healing time and the possibility of complications arising.

My bone fixing supply of amino acids + vitamins.

My bone fixing supply of amino acids + vitamins.

A number of amino acids are especially important for fracture healing: lysine, arginine, proline, and cystine.

Lysine, for example, is known to increase the amount of calcium absorbed into the bone matrix, and aid in the regeneration of tissue. It’s also your best friend in the fight against viruses, especially in the control of Herpes Simplex – natural sources are: grains, nuts and seeds.

Arginine is known to assist with wound healing through collagen synthesis and the formation of new bone and it’s effective when used in conjunction with Lysine when it comes to muscle growth. It’s found naturally and abundantly in a variety of foods, however supplementing with it is contra-indicated if the patient suffers from cold sores.

Proline is a critical component of cartilage and therefore essential for joint health, we usually get more than enough of this amino acids from our food and doesn’t really need supplementing with.

Cystine is a powerful antioxidant and the precursor of Chondroitin Sulfate which is the main component of cartilage.

Most of these amino acids are found in natural protein sources but also in good quality whey protein supplements. These can be incredibly useful for increasing the amount of proteins consumed on a daily basis knowing that all the nutrients required to support bone healing are there. Again, they are low in volume which means they are easier to consume than the larger quantities of meat or pulses required to extract the same amount of grams of protein as you would get from a scoop of whey powder.

Do pay attention to what your body tells you: I found that as I am going through different stages of healing I am naturally drawn to eat more or less protein. I remember during a particular week eating up to half a Kilo of meat in one meal and then still reach for the protein powder shortly after.

3. Manage free radicals

These are released in large quantities and this can place our anti-oxidative reserves under stress. Plus we need to deal with the inflammation that is a natural component of the healing process. Unfortunately common painkillers found off the shelf act to suppress the effects of the molecules causing the inflammation which are also essential for a speedy recovery.

I cannot tell you enough how much this sucks as after the first 36 hours following my little accident when the pain was excruciating and was preventing me from sleeping, I decided to not take any more painkillers. Thankfully we can supplement our diet with natural antioxidants like Vitamin C, E, Omega-3 and Alpha-Lipoic-Acid to help with the inflammation. Curcumin has recently gained prominence as a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant and the effects are felt quickly.

Personally I prefer using Kombucha for this purpose but have also, admittedly, increased the number of curries I make from scratch every month.  😉

4. Vitamins and Minerals

My daily stash of supplements to heal from bone bruising

My daily stash of anti-inflammatory supplements

Fourth: we need to make sure that we are taking in the correct amount of both. Vitamin D3 is very important for bone health because it’s the primary regulator for the absorption of Calcium and so is Vitamin K which assists with binding Calcium to bone. Zinc, Calcium, Phosphorous, Copper and Silicon are important minerals all having a fundamental role in bone repair.

The best strategy for ensuring adequate supplies of all the important players in fracture healing is to supplement the diet with a good quality multi vitamins and minerals product. When I say “good quality” I mean the sort of supplement that is available from reputable specialist fitness sites as opposed to your local supermarket’s £1.99 special.

5. Rest

This may seem so obvious that it doesn’t warrant mentioning, however it’s important to listen to what our body is telling us even in this respect. Healing from a major traumatic event takes a heavy toll on the human body so it’s OK to give in to exhaustion and sleep like a hibernating bear.

It’s also a good exercise in letting go of everything that we cannot control under the circumstances which is almost everything. It’s a good time to catch up on books, website revamps, blogging, social media, your favourite tv shows and, why not, allowing your other half to be a Knight in Shiny Armour and unleash his/her inner Jamie O at meal times.  😉

I think that during the first couple of weeks after the accident I slept like a puppy as I found it almost impossible to stay awake. I had to sleep on the sofa so that I could have my left leg supported and virtually immobilised against the backrest.

Still to this day, judging when it’s time to stop and rest is probably the hardest thing I have to do each day. It’s so tempting to fall into a self inflicted guilt trip about not doing all the things I think need to be done but won’t cause humanity to become extinct if I don’t tend to them, not exercising, etc. whereas being tired is really feedback from the body saying it needs to slow down and rest to carry on its healing work to get rid of the bone bruising.

6. Exercise

As soon as it’s safe to do so it’s a good idea to start walking gently and for short periods of time to subject the bruised bone to a small degree of loading. If done sensibly and gently this process will speed up healing as it stimulates the activity of osteoclasts and osteoblasts plus it will help keep blood circulation in top shape. Muscle wastage is an unfortunate consequence of spending prolonged amounts of time laid up in bed unable to move. It happens at an alarming rate and it’s therefore imperative to start rebuilding the lost muscle as soon as it’s physically possible and safe to do so.

Once again we must honour our new boundaries and only work within our reduced capabilities. This is a time when it’s totally OK to walk away from a workout half way through it if carrying on could jeopardize our progress. In fact there is no shame in skipping a workout altogether for the same reason (see resting above). It’s also a good opportunity to revisit our basic training and perfect the simplest movement patterns by ensuring 100% correct form at all times. This little exercise will pay large dividends in the long run because it will help re-establish neuro-muscular connections and by the end of this healing journey we will end up stronger and better built than we were before the accident.

Where am I at in all of this bone bruising business?

Well, 6 months on and I have relearned to walk correctly which I seem to manage most of the time. When I cannot and I start dragging my left leg it’s usually a sign that I am exhausted and I need to stop and rest or, if for some reason I cannot stop, at least try to be mindful of how I move to ensure I am using the joint to the full range of motion available to me at the moment and don’t put the opposite hip under too much stress.

My ROM is far from 100% but getting increasingly closer as the bone bruising slowly gets better. The tendons and ligaments in the joint are still contracted to protect it and the only thing I can do is to gently persuade them to let go a little bit more every time I exercise or receive physiotherapy treatment.

Going to the gym has boosted my mobility in leaps and bounds. Because I cannot do anything that involves any amount of impact or loading of the joints beyond my own body weight I have gone back to basics and favour body weight exercises over weight lifting which I limit to upper body exercises carried out whilst sitting on a bench or swiss ball.

Mirrors are my friends: I can check my form and force myself to only do perfect reps. And as much as I hate the idea of doing cardio I have made friends with the recumbent bike that allows me to catch up on my favourite books while I mobilize my knee.

The results of my three dimensional approach to heal from bone bruising taking into account lifestyle, nutrition and exercise, speak for themselves. The affected leg is getting stronger all the time and muscles are building back up nicely even if slowly. Although still a bit painful at times I can now go up and down staircases normally and can sit down on chairs without triceps dipping every time. I still have a long way to go but am confident that I will go back to the normal before the accident eventually.

Over the next few months I will carry on with the same regime in terms of nutrition and supplementation and will start to introduce weights for the lower body exercises very soon too.


Bone BruisingWant to know what happened next and how I made a full recovery?

Get my e-book and read the full story of how I beat the odds.

It took me three years and it wasn’t easy at times but I did it despite being told that I wouldn’t.

Now I am fighting fit again and re-learning to bend like a pretzel.


I sincerely hope that nobody reading this ever find themselves in the same situation as I got into as severe bone bruising truly sucks donkey’s balls, however if you are already in it I hope that you might have found some of this information useful and that it will help you speed up your healing. 


References:

Marsell, R. and Einhorn, T. A. “The biology of fracture healing” – PMC3105171 [NCBI]

Marsh, DR and Li, G, 1999, The biology of fracture healing: Optimising outcome, British Medical Bulletin, 55(4):856-869

J. Jamdar, et al., Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2004,
10 (6): 915-916.

Eneroth, M, Olsson, UB, and Thorngren, KG. 2006. Nutritional supplementation decreases hip fracture-related complications, Clin Ortho and Related Res, 451:212-217

Always look like a rockstar by leveraging the magic of colours

Despite having been born and raised in the fashion capital of Europe (that’s Milan in case you wonder) I must admit that I sometimes feel like I wasn’t bestowed with the same innate sense of elegance that a lot of my friends have and that fashion is indeed a mystery.

gothinlondonMy main criteria for choosing what to wear on any given day tends to be something like this: is it at the top of the pile of clean stuff? Yes = that will do, No = in the washing basket. I love dark colours and black in particular.

Turns out these colours make me look anemic and that was awesome back in my goth/metal chick days (which carried on at least until my late 30’s when I was adopted by my first mostly-white cat). They are not very flattering and neither are most of the items in my wardrobe which I have kept for many years because they have sentimental value: either my mum knitted them or they were bought from one boutique or another. I do suffer from the classic case of “I have a wardrobe full of stuff but nothing to wear” syndrome. It was time to sort this out.

Making smarter choices when it comes to how we present ourselves is a big part of what I do when I work with my clients. My areas of expertise are body sculpting, posture and movement so when it comes to colours and fashion I tend to ask the experts.

I recently reconnected with a fabulous lady, Cass Edwards of Cascade Colour & Style who I have always admired for how smart and elegance her appearance is in a way that looks effortless and had always wanted to work with her to unleash my inner fashionista. Circumstances prevented me from doing so for a long time but when I learned that she was going to retire early in 2016 (hence no link to her website) I booked up my consultation on the spot.

I honestly think it was the best investment I have made on myself in a very long time. It has always been obvious that some colours suited me better than others regardless of how much I liked them, however I was never able to quite pinpoint why and how. Cass sorted that out for me in no time.

This is what happened…

neutral colours for power suits

The first thing we worked on was defining my “colour personality”. This is based on the colour of my hair, eyes and complexion. Turns out that I am a “Midnight Spring” person meaning that colours that are bright, warm (with gold undertones) and perhaps a bit lighter than a pure shade are the most flattering. The Midnight bit comes from the fact that I have dark hair.

The second thing we explored was which “neutral” colours from the Spring family were the best for me. You can see them in the picture on the left. Admittedly I would probably think twice about buying outfits in some of those shades of beige and brown, however when I checked my wardrobe afterwards I discovered that I had forgotten that I had a pair of trousers and matching bomber jacket by Jean Paul Gaultier in a funky pattern with a few of those creams and browns. Result!

The blue on the left was elected the best colour for me for a business power suit to be paired with a shirt or top in either cream, light warm grey of even beige. It’s not bad news for my black designer suits though as I learned that they can be rescued by simply choosing tops and perhaps chiffon scarves in friendlier colours so that those are the ones closer to my skin. Result no. 2!

After playing with many colour swatches we identified the shades of most colours that worked for me. Every time we hit the spot I was gobsmacked at how much difference the right colour makes to how we look. It’s almost as if the facial features seem softer, nicer, sexier.

bright and fresh coloursOn the right is part of the final selections of fab colours for a Midnight Spring like me. As you can see they are all lovely and make me look less sick than I was on the day (recovering from a brutal bout of flu). The digital image doesn’t make the swatches justice: the colours in real life are vibrant and beautiful.

At the end of the consultation I was given a collection of swatches to take away with me that I can now use to choose my future garments AND, most importantly, do an audit of everything that currently lives in the wardrobe with the aim of throwing away anything that doesn’t harmonize with the swatches except for the most expensive designer items which will be either rescued with accessories or, if hopeless, sold on Ebay or donated to a charity shop of my choosing.

20160222_110118Last weekend I made many Ebay sellers happy by buying a shitload of items in either cream, cornflower blue, coral and even a “fake leather” jacket in camel. Other colours I may have to look for in person or from the Kettlewell website. It’s quite difficult to find the correct shades for my skin type online as items are not always listed as “light true green” or “clear salmon” or “orange red” or “buttercup yellow” but I did manage to find “periwinkle blue“!

At the end of the consultation we looked at make-up and jewelry too. Turns out that “gangsta rapper gold” is better for me so there will be a few items of silver costume jewelry for sale. As for the make up I still have to make a shopping trip to the store for which I have a discount voucher for to buy a new lipstick or two and a lip gloss in one of my colours.

I had plenty of fun on the day and learned lots. I would strongly recommend any ladies (and even gentlemen, why not?) who have never done so to book an appointment with their nearest image consultant to experience the same process, especially if you just spent months working on transforming your body with nutrition tweaks and exercise. Think of it as both the finishing touch and a reward for all your hard work and sticking it out to the end of your program. You won’t believe the difference that carefully chosen colours will make to enhance your newly sculpted body. Which is why, whenever possible, I treat my VIP customers to a full on colour & style consultation with an expert of my choosing. Want to find out more? Click here for details of my VIP Program.

I would love to hear from anyone who has worked with an image consultant. Please let me know about your experience in the comments below. Thank you!

NASTY INJURY = LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

The past couple of months (since my last blog post) have been rather action packed with lots of new and different work and business opportunities, travel, fun, friends, new connections and parkour classes. Yes, finally, after struggling for ages to make it happen it all very suddenly came together and I was able to have a go at a sport that I find fascinating and reminds me of my early childhood’s shenanigans.

I have been preparing for it for the past 15 months or so since discovering the Metabolic Effect style of training which helped me reverse my aging process and gave me back the strength that I had in my late thirties. (By the way, I am one of a small group of ME trainers in the UK). So it wasn’t that surprising that I didn’t particularly struggle during my first lesson except for what I would class as normal when learning a new skill or movement pattern.

My confidence in my abilities paired with my determination to succeed and the wisdom to sit things out or ask for help when I feel out-obstacled have served me well and I feel I made outstanding progress in a relatively short period of time. Unlike some of my naughty clients I also followed the training suggestions from the chief instructor and did my homework and guess what? it worked 😉

Knee injury

Image by samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unfortunately last Saturday my fun times at the gym were to come to a sudden and very painful end (for a while) when, as I was doing a very simple and actually safe exercise, my left knee decided to implode in a symphony of cracks and pops leaving me effectively one legged and unable to do most normal things unaided. During the first 48 hrs post accident I couldn’t stand up or hobble without getting dizzy, nauseous and shaking uncontrollably. Hell, I couldn’t even stay awake for longer than an hour or two! But I managed to eat a Sicilian cannolo (food of the Gods) which I know will be key to my 100% recovery. 😉

Thankfully I have a wonderful partner and support network which allowed me to get everyone and everything organised with just a few phone calls so that I could take some time out to recover especially during the initial most acute phase of pain and inflammation of any type of injury. Plus it doesn’t often happen that the neighbours cheer me on to complete the treacherous task of hobbling across the car park with my other half chasing me zombie style. This was the moment when I truly understood how each part of our body is connected to the rest. I never knew that laughing or coughing could make your knee hurt!

So what have I learned so far from my misadventure?

1. Treating your body like a temple and learning to listen to it when you are healthy truly pays off when you suddenly are not. In my case I suffered a mechanical failure and my health is otherwise intact. I don’t yet know the extent of the damages from my injury but I am very grateful to be strong and athletic enough to be able to somehow navigate what in my situation are almost unsormountable obstacles: staircases? Triceps dipping up and down is a doddle and quite fun. Need the loo? One legged squats + triceps dip will get you on and off easily. Getting in and out of bed? Plyometric pushups + rolling will take care of that. Changing clothes? Toes can be almost as useful as fingers when it comes to grabbing and manoeuvring garments up the other leg.

image

2. Don’t give in to panic and keep smiling in the face of adversity. Keeping a cool head during a personal disaster is probably the most important thing to do in the aftermath. It’s ok to cry when it hurts but not because it’s happened. My time and energy are better spent trying to understand my injury in as much detail as possible to get a headstart on recovering before I am fit enough to go to a hospital and have to listen to hours of bullshit just to get a scan or x-ray. For example, I now understand that the excruciating pain I used to feel in my knees up to four years ago was most likely cartilage related. I learned that dietary habits, specifically acidic foods, can cause the cartilage to become thin but, contrary to popular belief, it can repair itself over time. My personal experience supports this theory: after eating a mostly alkaline diet for a few years I haven’t experienced that type of pain again. Until my incident on Saturday. Still, it’s important to stay positive as self inflicted stress will alter my body chemistry unfavourably and will let this situation drag on forever.

3. Make a plan of action and follow it through. Supplements for a speedy recovery
The research I carried out so far has allowed me to identify a few key elements that wil help me get better: L-Lysine is an important component that the body needs to make new cartilage and repair broken one. We usually find this amino-acid in red meat, Parmigiano, pulses, eggs and quinoa among other foods. Or can be bought as a supplement for very little money. Vitamin C is another important ingredient in the making of cartilage as it supports the production of collagen as well as ensuring oxygenation of the blood whereas Omega 3 oils help fight inflammation and prevent enzymes from destroying the cartilage. The amazing thing about these 3 targeted items is that their combined cost is a fraction of that of some joints supplements that don’t necessarily provide all the building blocks required to support healing. In the same way that it’s good policy for carpenters to measure twice before cutting anything, it’s also good policy for anyone to research reputable medical sites and read journals to try and learn as much as possible and then go shopping.

4. Embrace the downtime instead of fretting about it. How many times have I put off writing a blog post, writing a plan of action, catching up on paperwork, reports, sleep, etc. because I was too busy with other things? Too many to count so it’s actually great to be able to catch up on all that stuff during my enforced rest. I actually have time to interact with people on social media and maybe even do the occasional Periscope thing too once I can get my hands on my makeup bag.

5. Be sensible and respect my limits but never give up on the opportunity to push my boundaries a bit. Did you know that drugs like Ibuprofen slow down the healing process? I do now. So I decided to only take some if my sleep would be compromised because good quality rest is also very important. This means that I truly have to pay attention to what I am doing when I venture away from the sofa for a little walk as whenever I get things wrong I feel a wall of pain but if I do things right I am fine and so I can go a bit further every time until it hurts and then I can retreat a bit to the comfort zone before I push it a bit further. In my specific case I find that if I endeavour to keep my best supermodel posture when hobbling I don’t get exausted too quickly, it hurts less and it’s generally more comfortable.

6. Eat for healing, not for my country. I had 3 biscuits since Sunday which is more than I had since the beginning of BST. Although nice I find them disgustingly sweet and really not all that appealing but they are within easy reach and will provide the “food” to go with my supplements. The rest of the time I am managing to eat a high protein diet with fresh vegetables and just enough starches to make sure there is enough sugar in the blood stream to provide the extra energy I need for team body repair. It’s very important that I don’t get fat or my other knee will also implode. So far I haven’t been able to get any crutches but as soon as I do I’ll be out and about for a longer hobble and might be able to resist the temptation to do handstands on them.

Moral of this story is: when shit like this happens try to find a positive spin on the situation as soon as you can and focus on that. Listen to your doctor but do your own research first so you can ask lots of questions and help them help you.

As this is going to be a massive learning opportunity for me I will document my recovery and share it on this blog and social media channels so that in the future it might be useful to someone in similar circumstances. 🙂

No fridge? No problem. What to do when the shit hits the fan.

If you have been following me through my blogging challenge you will be well aware of how important good nutrition is for me. And I am sure that because of that you will be able to imagine just how horrifying it was for me to wake up last Thursday to discover that my fridge-freezer was no more.

In truth I knew this event was imminent but not that imminent. The signs were all there: ice a foot-deep inside the freezer (it was meant to be a no-frost appliance), crazy amounts of condensation in the fridge compartment, loud clonking noises, rust everywhere and the vacuum seal not so sealing anymore. Having read the installation instructions for the new one I now wonder if placing the jars of Kombucha on the top because it was warm played a part in expediting the demise of my appliance. Anyway, it happened.

In my infinite wisdom and perhaps a mild panic attack I somehow managed to not see that there wasn’t a next day delivery option available on the website where I purchased the replacement from and so I spent the last week (just as the weather turned really mild) without a refrigerator and a tonne of fresh food just delivered. To add to my woes I am almost half way through my “Project 8” and eating correctly and at the right time is imperative if I want to shrink and shed fat at that level.

What to do? Make a plan to either use or preserve what I had as long as possible.

First up were vegetables like baby spinach and mixed baby leaves: they tend to wilt very quickly, mines are organic but the company that delivers them has them flown in from Italy so by the time they get to me they are already a couple of days old and need to be eaten fast at the best of times. The calories they provide are negligible so I didn’t hesitate to eat almost all of them in one go.

Second was the meat I had in the freezer. Thankfully because there was more ice around the top and sides than space both the turkey and the pork were still frozen but defrosting so I decided to cook them and then store them in an air tight container resting on an ice pack. I then went on a very high protein diet for a few days eating insane quantities of turkey breast slices at each meal just so I wouldn’t have to throw them away.

Up to the weekend the only casualties were the milk and the spring greens that decided to decompose inside the fridge compartment because I didn’t realise it was actually keeping everything really warm. At this point I removed everything and stored it on the table trying to think which produce you would find in the non refrigerated aisle at the supermarket. Onions, garlic, some green things, peppers, sometimes tomatoes and herbs. And eggs. And vacuum packed cheese. As you can see below.

nofridge

The hardest thing to do was deciding what to eat with what I had on the table before the local store closed at 8pm so that I could go and fetch just the bit of meat or fish that I needed. As the days went on, eventually, the ice in the freezer melted too but over the weekend it was a bit like going for a picnic with a giant ice box in the middle of the kitchen.

It’s always nice to have a takeaway on a Saturday night and it was even nicer on this occasion because it took the pressure off us to find something to cook at the last minute. But on Sunday, after Hamilton got bitchslapped by Rosberg at Montmelo, I decided to celebrate by creating a “whatever is still edible” kind of dish. I decided to use up all the remaining home made pesto with some pasta and the surviving turkey breast to make a highly modified version of a carbonara. To make it healthier I added the only 4 non-decomposed spring greens leaves to the pasta and fried an onion with the turkey breast. Plus raw eggs and cheese. Eating starches as part of the last meal of the day has two advantages: 1. it helps sleep better, 2. it ensures that I don’t wake up feeling ravenous the next day. Amazingly, this random combination of ingredients worked incredibly well and we’ll make sure to repeat the experiment soon, just because.

Then, of course, come Monday I ran out of almost everything, especially time. And so I thought it would be a good idea to have a go at intermittent fasting. This is usually done for extended periods of time either side of sleeping time, i.e. fasting between say 8pm and 11am, however for me it had to be breakfast early am and dinner late pm with only water during the day. The advantages of intermittent fasting are that a) it’s convenient at super busy times and b) it helps raise the production of human growth hormone which is responsible for muscle growth and fat burning. I tend to have whey protein mixed with cocoa powder and nut butter for breakfast, this combination provides me with the protein and amino acids I need to ensure I don’t lose my muscles and keeps me satiated for up to 6-8 hrs even when I do a lot of physical work like Thai Yoga Massage treatments, gardening, etc.

I cannot do this for more than 1 or perhaps 2 days in a row without my metabolism fighting back while I am busy running around all day juggling clients, emails, animals and home. However, when necessary, it’s a brilliant way to boost my fat loss while at the same time giving myself room to enjoy whatever I fancy for dinner without exaggerating with portion size or having to worry about calories reduction. This will happen naturally during the course of the day whilst also forcing my body to use excess stored fat for fuel. It works a treat and the difference it makes in body composition is immediately visible and “Project 8” got a mahoossive boost instead of a blow from my cooling woes.

And being that I am writing this between “blogging Tuesday” and “Thankful Thursday” I can’t help but think about how much I take the luxury of having a fridge and being able to preserve my food for granted. Yes, for a moment I thought my whole world was coming to a warm end, there have been challenges during the past week as I had to incorporate this new variable into my daily life but I soon got used to it and tried to frame the whole situation as “what would my grandparents have done in the same circumstances as they often were during the wars?” or “if I had to live in a tent (not glamping) what would I do?”.  Going basic has in fact been amusing and have re-discovered that sticking a bottle of cider on a bag of ice cubes is actually better than keeping it in the fridge.

whatever risottoBy the way, the new fridge has now arrived. It looks monolithic all in black (matte of course). And having had enough time to cook earlier I was able to create another “whatever is still edible after a week” kind of dish: this time it was a celery, carrot and dried porcini risotto with scrambled eggs (protein), a generous portion of Parmigiano Reggiano and the last splodge of warm Vermouth Bianco. Hic!

🙂

The “Is your body beach ready?” comedy

If you have been spending time on Facebook in the last couple of days you will have seen people commenting on an article that appeared in The Independent where they reported about the uproar caused by an advertising campaign from a company that sells protein supplements. The advert asks the question “Is your body beach ready?” next to an image of a stunning young model looking fit and healthy (and airbrushed) in a bikini.

As i was reading about the reactions that this advert caused I couldn’t ask myself “WHY?“, why is it that people can find the time and energy to get upset over the picture of a fit person like it was a crime to look good and look after your health? What are they saying about themselves?

And what’s with the two girls posing in a bikini next to the advert? It’s funny because the girl in the black bikini isn’t far off the look of the model and she could easily achieve that with good lighting and a tiny bit of clever photoshopping without changing anything else about her life. The other girl… I am not sure what she is trying to prove… that being out shape is visually attractive? It isn’t. That being out of shape is better than being fit? It isn’t. That you should accept your lot and make the most of it or at least learn to live with it if you can’t change it? I support you wholeheartedly, we are all on the same boat on this. Even the model.

If you are interested in learning more about the science of attractiveness here is a great journal from the Department of Anthropology of the University of Nebraska and if you are interested in the evolutionary approach to this subject here is another great journal from the Department of Psychology of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. If you want to read a great book that explains the different psychology of men and women then read this: Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love by Dr. Paul Dobransky.

In a nutshell, there are certain physical parameters that humans instinctively perceive as attractive in other humans. This is in the reptilian part of our brains, the part that acts purely on sexual instincts before we get to add different layers of meaning and rationalise a subject or event. For women these parameters include their age, BMI, waist to hip ratio, size and shape of ears and nose, symmetry of the breasts and symmetry of the face and body. These are the characteristics that signal our male counterparts how good our genetics are for the purpose of producing offsprings that will be able to survive and carry on contributing to the survival of the species. And that, on an instinctual level, is all that matters: survive, reproduce. This is why both males and females recognise people like the model in the advert as embodying all the physical characteristics to make her attractive to potential mates… in our culture at least: she is perfectly symmetrical (although the airbrush might have something to do with that), her waist to hip ratio is favourable, she looks healthy and she is of a fertile age.

So why the uproar? What’s wrong with being young, fit, healthy and fertile?

Isn’t the deep desire to look more attractive that, ultimately, drives us to join the gym and pay attention to our diets or even go as far as having plastic surgery or gastric band surgery? Of all the clients I have worked with so far NOT ONE ever told me that they wanted to get healthier in hope to be able to get off some or all of their meds. NOT ONE! They all wanted to get a slimmer waist, a flat stomach, toned thighs and arms and feel beautiful again or for the first time. And that’s absolutely fine.

One of my favourite parts of the petition to have the advert removed (really?) is the opening paragraph: “Protein World is directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic* body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product.”

First of all I don’t know where these people have been on holiday but there are many places on Earth where you can see plenty of young ladies that look like the model in the picture. Try Monaco for starters and you’ll see plenty of realistic people like her. In fact, I know a few that still look like that in their mid and late 40s after having a number of children. They were born like that, it’s not their fault. Is it realistic to suggest that you could go from stocky and short limbed to slender and long legged by taking supplements? Of course (sadly) not, but the advert isn’t suggesting that. Second, yes the protein company is leveraging scarcity to suggest their products can solve your body weight issues. It’s basic marketing. However it’s your choice to feel offended or inferior. You are in charge of your feelings not the supplements company.

I read some awesome comebacks from PW to people criticizing their ad campaign but I won’t publish the link because some of the comments that follow are IMHO offensive. But yeah, I am deeply envious of these ladies that have nothing more serious to worry about than pictures of fit people on a poster.  🙂

What’s your take on this?