Tag Archives: exercise

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!

 

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 Black Crow

Young black crow

Image by Paul Brentnall at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday as I working at a client’s house I suddenly heard a knocking noise coming from one of the windows. Couldn’t work out what it was until I suddenly saw this gi-enormous gorgeous black crow calling and pecking at the window frame.

I am not a big fan of birds and am happier when they are several hundred metres away from me, however this particular bird seemed to be wanting to chat with me and so, after my client spent a few moments freaking out and touching all the touchable things in superstitious realms, intrigued, I thought I’d look up some folklore about black crows. Just for a bit of fun.

It turns out that what I saw might have actually been a young and fearless raven judging by the size. Apparently this would make a lot of people excited because they are relatively rare in the Southern Counties. I might be wrong though, to me all birds are feathery dinosaurs the size of T-Rex.

A quick Google search returned links to various pages with a bias towards Celtic and Native Americans folklore with the occasional mention of Greek and Roman mythology. It transpires that the negative meanings associated with black crows or ravens are mostly found in Welsh mythology and in relation to witchcraft and omens of death. This is thought to have been enforced during WWII when large flocks of crows were seen feeding on the flesh of dead soldiers on the battlefields.

However according to Native American tradition crows and ravens are symbols of intelligence, fearlessness, higher perspective, adaptability and mischief. Some tribes herald the raven as “the bringer of light that escaped from the darkness of the cosmos”. And because of that they are thought to be, in fact, bringing news that “danger has passed and good luck will follow”.

Since the raven was cawing at me I am happy to believe this and will make sure to tell my client to update her book of superstitions to include all the good things ravens are famous for so that the next time he comes round she can carry on training and might even be able to finish her workout in good time instead of having numerous “touch wood” breaks.