The most common fear expressed by women who weight train – and those afraid to start – is that they are increasing, or will increase in size. This is often a frustration for physique and fitness coaches, as it is predicated upon society’s widely-held views; and is in no way a fault of the women themselves.
Sadly, our society (perhaps through the prominence on supermarket shelves of ‘Bodybuilding’ magazines) seems to have pervaded the belief that weight training can do more ‘harm’ than good, and that lifting weights will somehow automatically result in ‘arms like Arnie’.
Let me be clear, ladies – without adequate androgenic support and a massive surplus in calories you are not going to build massive amounts of muscle!!!
Compared to the male populace, females ‘suffer’ from a poor production of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone (with males tending to produce 6-7 times the amount that women do), so whether their aim is to maintain or build lean muscles, or to get leaner, women should ‘take advantage’ of the small amount their bodies produce naturally. One way of doing this is through embarking on a regular and consistent weight training programme.
Hypertrophy (increasing muscle mass) takes significant time – even for the evolutionary ‘blessed’ male population! As such, my message to any woman who may be dismissing carrying on with/embarking upon a weight training regime is simple – unless you drastically change your hormonal structure (through ‘external sources’ shall we say) weight training will not ‘turn you in to a man’.
If you want a physique that resembles either the women in the photograph, or wish to develop the shape you’re currently in, then you will need to start with weight training or maintain and build on your current programme. Don’t be afraid to put some weight on that bar, load up that machine, or pick up those dumbbells – get lifting, and you can only improve your health and physique for the long term.
One of the biggest misconceptions in recent time has been that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains saturated fat.
Coconut and coconut oil are one of the most healthiest things your body can ingest.
People from the Pacific islands and Asia have had this food in their diet for a long time now and not surprisingly this population have a decreased risk of things such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative diseases.
Coconut oil has a form of fat in it called medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Because of MCT’s physical and biochemical make-up it is much easier for the body to metabolise than its ‘long chain’ saturate fat counterparts.
On the whole when you ingest MCT’s they are preferentially used for energy by the body rather than stored and also help stimulate your fatty metabolism which is vital when wanting to programme your body to burn fat as a fuel for the day ahead.
Coconut oil can be cooked with, put in coffee and even had on its own.
Start bringing a teaspoon of coconut oil in at the start of the day as well as cooking your meals with it
Yes you are right avocado is high in fat but the main fat within avocado is monounsaturated which has huge health benefits, one of them being lowering cholesterol.
Avocados also have amazing antioxidant properties as well as being full of fibre.
There are a few grams of saturated fat within an avocado however saturated fat is necessary within your diet and also it is exactly the type of saturated fat you want (from a natural whole food and not from chips).
If you exercise a lot and what to find a healthy fat food high in antioxidants………..If you are looking for a food that can give you half your days fibre quota ……. And if you are looking for a food which has almost no effect on blood sugar then Avocado is your food!!!
Lets face it fat loss is not easy. Our society these days on the whole is lazy compared to 100-200 years ago, most of us live life at 100mph, some burn the candle at both ends and to make it even worse most of us under eat and/or pick the easy processed food option.
Constantly living like this means that the only thing to suffer is our health. If we are not healthy we can forget about fat loss. Its a case of us surviving throughout the day instead of surviving, we are rolling out of bed instead of jumping out of bed, we are nodding off at our desks mid-afternoon instead of sealing vital business deals for your company.
We haven’t got an internal environment set up to sear fat or to build muscle and I hate to say it but you slogging your guts in the gym might be in vain or even worse detrimental to you, your health and fat loss efforts.
This is all because you may have Adrenal Fatigue at some level!
Now before I go explaining what the adrenals are, what adrenal fatigue is and what the signs and symptoms are don’t go jumping to conclusions thinking you have chronic adrenal fatigue. This blog is to make you aware of the syndrome and also making sure you don’t fall in to the trap that I did when starting my own business.
About 18 months ago I remember reading through a book that I had been recommended to by a fellow professional called ‘Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome’.
I remember reading it and looking through the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and there were about 6 out of the 25 symptoms on the page that I couldn’t associate with, all the others I was at that time possessing in some shape or form!
It was around the time when I first started running my own gym working 7 days a week, 14-16 hour days, staying within the confines of a gym day-in, day-out, sleeping terribly, eating poorly, not finding time for myself or people that were important to me, relying on stimulants such as coffee to keep me going throughout the day, the smaller tasks were seeming like mountains, I had no motivation to train and I was starting to get fat.
What made it even worse was that I was prescribing all nutritional and exercise protocols to my clients who I was trying to prevent creating these type of symptoms that I possessed at the time!
It was a wake-up call to me and I had to make changes on all fronts, business, lifestyle and family. If I was to continue like I was i don’t know where I would of ended up.
I wasn’t THRIVING I was merely surviving
It was time to change.
What is adrenal fatigue and where are your adrenals situated?
Adrenal fatigue covers a broad spectrum from you struggling to get out of bed in the morning to lacking motivation in something you used to be so passionate about. It is a condition that is usually not serious enough to feature on a TV programme or be considered medically as serious however if untreated or not addressed hormonally it can wreak havoc with your life.
With each incremental reduction in adrenal function, the chances of you burning fat as a fuel also reduce.
Your body will do its best to compensate for the underperforming adrenals but it does so at a price.
People with forms of adrenal fatigue may look relatively normal with no obvious sign of illnesss, yet behind the curtain they feel unwell, use stimulants like coffee to get through the day, have joint pain , frequent inflammation, abnormal blood sugar levels, increased anxiety, depression, fears, confusion, and decreased concentration, memory recall, tolerance and become easily frustrated. Also when the adrenals are not secreting proper amounts of hormones, insomnia is a likely outcome.
On the outside to friends and family you might appear to be lazy, unmotivated and to have lost your ambition which you once had when in reality the opposite is true. You have to drive yourself much harder than the average person with healthy adrenal glands just in order to accomplish everyday tasks.
The purpose of your adrenals is to help your body cope with stresses and survive. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your life as a whole depend on the functioning properly.
They are known as the ‘napoleon gland’ just as napoleon was a small man with great power, these walnut sized glands situated on top of your kidneys command powerful hormones to extend their influence throughout the body which then translates in to your life. They affect every tissue, organ and gland in your body as well as affecting the way you think and feel.
It is estimated that up to 80% of the adult population in western countries suffer on some level with adrenal fatigue!!!!
Adrenal fatigue in all its forms is usually caused by some sort of stress. This can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, infectious or a combination of all these. You need to know that your adrenals respond to all different kind of stresses the same wherever it comes from
These stresses at their most severe can be such things as:
- Death of a loved one
- Major surgery
- car accident
And less known stresses such as:
- an abscessed tooth
- a period with the flu
- intense exercise
- an unhappy relationship
- an intense argument
- pressure at work
- environmental toxins
- poor diet
Factors affecting the adrenals
It is imperative that you understand that if these smaller stresses occur simultaneously, they can accumulate and can possibly become chronic. This therefore means that the adrenals have no opportunity to fully recover therefore meaning that adrenal fatigue is more than likely to be present.
In short adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress overextends the capacity of the body (mediated by the adrenals) to compensate and recover from that stress or combined stresses. once this capacity to cope and recover is exceeded, some form of adrenal fatigue occurs.
How is adrenal fatigue hampering your fat loss efforts?
The hormones secreted by the adrenals influence so many physiological processes in your body. They are a massive player in affecting the utilisation of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of protein and fats in to energy and also the distribution on stored fat (especially stubborn areas).
Who suffers from adrenal fatigue?
- Drives themselves constantly,
- Is never satisfied and is a perfectionist,
- Is under constant pressure,
- Feels trapped or helpless,
- Feels overwhelmed by repeated or continuous difficulties,
- Has experienced severe or chronic emotional or physical trauma or illness.
- Lacks enjoyable to rejuvenating activities
- makes poor food choices
- has a consistently poor sleep night after night
- uses food and drinks as stimulants when tired
No one is immune to adrenal fatigue. From a top poiltician to a university student or the mother with more than one child and very little support to the factory worker with varying shift patterns. All these lifestyles in some way promote adrenal dysfunction which can lead to:
- loss of productiveness
- loss of creativity
- poor business decisions
- poor health
- poor quality of life
Look at your Job and lifestyle
There is no doubt about it some professions are harder not he adrenal glands than other. Shift work such as being a nurse in the NHS can be very hard on the adrenals. The long hours, the varying shift patterns, seeing trauma and being exposed to emotional situations are a lot of things for the adrenals to deal with.
Being a nurse is just one example but have a look at the questions below and answer them honestly.
Do you finish work at work or do you take it home with you?
Have you got time to switch off throughout the day and at weekends?
Does the stress with family life continue when you get home?
Do you have an interest/hobbie which is just for you?
Is 24 hours not enough time in the day?
Is you diet poor throughout the week?
Do you drink alcohol most nights of the week?
Do you rely on stimulants to get you through the day? (coffee etc)
Do you struggle to get to sleep and once asleep get in to a deep sleep?
These by no means are the definitive questions which would confirm whether you have some form of adrenal dysfunction but hopefully it may ring a few alarm bells and will mean you start to address your work/life balance if you haven’t already.
As some one who went through some level of adrenal fatigue make sure:
- You put time aside for yourself
- You put time aside for what you love (family, hobbies sport)
- find a place at work which is quiet and tranquil where you can gather your thoughts for 10-15 minutes (park bench, quiet room)
- Off all the 100’s of thoughts going through your head deal with 1 at a time. Also make sure you write them all down on paper so you are seen to be emptying your head
- Find a well qualified personal trainer who can help you tidy up your nutrition and give you an exercise programme which isn’t too much of a stress on the body but is enough to create a training stimulus and make sure you
- enjoy life!
This blog was written to help make you are aware of this condition which isn’t talked about enough yet it is so rife in our society. You will go to doctors with these sort of symptoms listed and they will prescribe you with medication which 9 times out of 10 is detrimental on your health and doesn’t address the root cause of the problem that you are facing.
Like I said earlier don’t go jumping to conclusions and think that you now have a severe form of adrenal fatigue because you have 9 out of the 12 symptoms listed!
Just take note that how you work and live your life affects your day to day running, productivity, happiness, creativity and I would hate you to fall in to the traps I did 18 months ago.
Melatonin is a neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps regulate sleep. It is the reason why people tell you not to go to sleep watching TV or with any electrical devices as it appears to be sensitive to light therapy. And therefore the primary reason why people use melatonin is to normalise sleep patterns.
If you are a frequent flyer and suffer with jet lag, or work shift patterns or just general long and unsociable hours I would strongly recommend you trying Melatonin if you want to keep improving your fat loss + muscle building efforts as well as being productive throughout the day.
I would recommend taking 1 tablet 30-45 minutes before bed and you should find that you are falling in to a much deeper sleep.
With Christmas just more than a month away I thought I would right to talk about the benefits of one of the ‘marmite’ of vegetables, the brussel sprout!!!!
Brussel Sprouts have been show to help to detoxify nasty toxins that enter the body. These can be environmental toxins or alcohol from all the social events you will be going to over the next few weeks.
Within the brussel is sulforaphane which increases the production of an enzyme called ‘phase-2 enzymes,’ which help destroy damaging free radicals and help fight carcinogenesis (good cells transformed in to cancerous cells).
The active ingredient within brussels is sinigrin which is responsible for the smell of brussel sprouts. It can suppress the development of precancerous cells and has been shown to help reduce the incidence of cancers such as colon cancer.
Being a child who has seen both his parents die of cancer this food just from a health perspective is a no brainer even if it is just for the festive period.
Brussels also supply a great amount of folic acid, potassium and bone building vitamin k.
Whether you love or loth brussel spouts you can’t deny the health benefits of the food so make sure you include them on your plate over this festive period!!!
Its very rare that someone comes to me and I have to reduce their calorie intake. In fact the opposite is true. Most of the time I have to gradually increase what they eat on a daily basis.
Not giving your body the fuel it requires on a daily basis can have huge health consequences for the short and long term and generally starts a domino effect of problems which take time to reverse and change for the better.
I prime example would be what happens when you try a FAD diet.
1. first of all you are calorie restricted which means you lose shit loads of weight in the first fews weeks
2. Secondly you start to plateau. This is mainly because the body has now readjusted its BMR (number of calories your require to survive) in order to meet with its new calorie intake and therefore has learnt to be more efficient and store energy for when it needs it. (By the way being more efficient in relation to this point isn’t a good thing).
3. After 8-10 weeks or so you stop the FAD diet and go back to eating how you used to. The likely hood is that you are now eating more calories than when you were on your FAD diet and because your Basal metabolic rate has lowered to a much lower calorie intake all additional calories you are now taking are surplus to requirement and store as fat and get this you actually become heavier than when you first started the FAD diet!!!!
After a few weeks or months you look to start the next FAD diet and the process starts again. All in all you become an internal mess and you are just making results harder to come by.
This type of person who Yo Yo’s from diet to diet are then ironically after the quickest results which just won’t happen because you need to make yourself healthier before changes start to occur.
When anyone comes to see me and they call something a diet I get worried. Calling something a diet has a definitive beginning and at some point a definitive end. There should be no end. It should be a way of life.
If you are eating plenty to start with then you should find results easier to come by than someone who hasn’t been eating enough for the last 1-20 years of their life.
If you have been eating on a very low calorie diet for the past X number of years be realistic and don’t expect results to happen straight away. Start by gradually increasing what you eat week by week. This should in time make you so much healthier and then you just may be in a position to see some great body composition changes.
Here is a scenarios for you:
A client comes in to see me for a free 30 minute consultation where i try and find out as much information about them as possible. I try throughout this period to gauge some sort of ‘gut’ feeling about their psychological state. This is one, to know whether i can work with them and secondly, to know the appropriate ways i should act around that person in order to get the best out of them.
They fill me in on how they are fed up with their belly fat and how they want nothing more than to lose it and see those ‘6 chunks’ of muscles gleaming at them in the mirror. I carry on listening and start to hear bits about their social life such as nights out, lack of sleep, a busy job, meeting with friends etc……
So at this point in the conversation we have a clear goal (Client wants to lose body fat%, specifically belly fat) and i can see maybe there are areas within their lifestyle that need addressing in order to manage stress, control hormone levels and put their body in to a more anabolic state.
I let them know nicely that if they want to get the six-pack they have always dreamt of these points below need to happen:
- Cut down dramatically on nights out binge drinking
- Increase your sleep to 8-10 hours quality sleep a night
- Weight train 3 times per week
- Metabolic training session once a week
- High intensity interval training 1-2 times per week
I see them processing their diary in their heads thinking this is going to disrupt my social life (and this is without even touching on the nutrition!!!!).
Straight away i hear
“Well Wednesday night will be a struggle because there my Orange Wednesday nights at the Odeon. I also get in late so wont be able to get 8-10 hours sleep that night and Friday nights are a no because thats my night with the girls where sleep will definitely be deprived.” So this leaves me questioning whether this person really understands how much hard work it is to get lean. So my next question is:
“how much do you think is enough to reach your goal and how much of your lifestyle do you think you need to change?”
I already know what they are going to say its just trying to let the penny drop with them.
If you want to look awesome and be awesome you have train and live like a warrior and ultimately sacrifice/change your lifestyle. In other words you HAVE TO MAKE EXERCISE AND NUTRITION A TOP PRIORITY.
For example if your top goal is to lose 1 stone in weight and drop 7% in body fat over the next 8 weeks, will current lifestyle and exercise habits be the answer when the last year of your life you haven’t seen any long term consistent change to your body at all. The answer is no. You need to change bits of your lifestyle. You need to pump Exercise and nutrition up the priority list, above Wednesday nights at the Cinema and Saturday nights out drinking with mates. Simply saying to a trainer or anybody for that matter that you desperately want to have a six-pack however are unwilling to change your lifestyle for the better is very frustrating and it doesn’t go down too well.
I fully understand that family and work are the main priorities but why cant your health and performance be the third. Surely fitness and nutrition as a main priority will improve your productivity at work and the time you spend with your kids.
The majority of you reading this post will understand the importance of fitness and nutrition and understand how much hard work and sacrifice it takes to look lean and increase your health and performance.
Have a look at your lifestyle and i guarantee there will be one thing that you can change for the better. I changed one at the weekend which was improving the quality of my sleep i.e. no TV or other electrical items in the bedroom at night!!!!! I know this will go a long way to improving my productivity for the next day as well as manage my stress levels and recovery.
So try to change one aspect of your lifestyle for the next two weeks and let me know how it goes.
That’s all for now guys.
May 20th, 2011 my Dad sadly past away. He had bravely battled cancer for 5 years. Dad was the rock of our family and he helped me out tremendously in my life and when starting my career as a PT. He was a succesful business man so I was always asking for his advice when it came to business. Why is this relevant to your body transformation. Well his death caused me to totally re-evaluate the way I lived my life.
- Was I the best person I could be?
- ?Was I being honest to myself and others?
- What do I want to achieve in life?
- Was I being the best Fitness coach I could be?
- Was I a role model for my clients?
I’ve never been big on worrying about what has happened. I cant alter what has been and gone so why worry about it? I always look to the future and try to shape that. Would Dad want me to sit around feeling sorry for myself while I let my business and full time degree I was doing at the time of his death suffer? No of course not. He would want me to ‘crack on’ with my life and be successful. Dad’s death was the driving force behind me re-evaluating how I lived my life and out of this negative event if there was a positive that has come out of it, it is that Dad’s no BS approach to life has made me a better fitness coach and person (A lot of friends and clients may disagree!!!).
I believe every now and then we need a bit of a reality check (such as I got when Dad died) and a re-evaluation of the way we live our lives. Is it suited to achieve results? Are you being honest with your peers and your coach? Are you making fitness a priority in your life? I think sometimes it is easy to just keep plodding along in our comfort zone and magically expecting things to happen.
I personally think people try to convince themselves that everything is ok when in fact it is far from ok.
Throughout my 7 years as a fitness coach you meet different kinds of characters. Thats why I love my job because nobody is the same and every programme and session I write is different from the next. For the purpose of this blog I am going to categorise 4 of the most common clients I see.
PERSON #1) THEY LISTEN, THEY LEARN BUT CANT COMMIT FOR THE LONG-TERM
This kind of person I find it increasingly frustrating to coach. They are open to try new things and are open to learning about their body however they struggle for one reason or another to commit to a training/nutritional plan and therefore lack the consistency that every long-term exercise plan needs to see results. This type of person tends to put others before them and doesn’t find time for themselves. They are honest and realistic about the fact they haven’t been doing enough and realise they need to change and find more time for themselves. They are often too nice for their own good and cant seem to break away from helping others before sorting themselves out.
PERSON #2) ALL TALK NO ACTION
They tell you what they want you to hear and convince themselves and try to convince me and others that they are doing enough to see results.They will tell you all the good things they have been doing but forget to tell you all the bad things they have been doing. This is a bit like a poker player. They tell you how much they have won but never tell you how much they have lost. These types of people are often quick to blame external influences rather than looking internally at themselves.
PERSON #3) ALL ACTION
These people just crack on with what is asked of them and set in their programme. They love fitness and nutrition and find time for themselves, their work and their family and tend to be on the whole better organised. You sometimes have to hold this type of person back as they have beliefs that more is better etc….
PERSON #4) I MUST SEE RESULTS IMMEDIATELY!!!!
These type of people are set up for a big fall. They most likely have tried every FAD diet going so metabolically their body is all over the place. This makes seeing results immediately even harder and their body must re-adjust and recover from all the stress that has been placed on it previously. When they don’t see results immediately they become de-motivated and tend to not stick to the plan or try extreme unhealthy measures which puts them back to where they have started. Its like a vicious circle.I recently had a client who lost 5Ibs in their first week but lost nothing in their 2nd week and as a result became de-motivated! However they had lost 5Ib in 14 days!!!!!
So which person do you think you are? Be honest and spend just 5-10 minutes listing 3 things that you want to start doing differently in your lifestyle. Start to put them in to action from this week and see how you go.
In conclusion I think sometimes its easy to hide behind ‘the curtain’ and pretend our lifestyle is ok when in fact if we put our hands up and admit that we need to make changes that will bring about better results. We occasionally need to ‘man up’ and I can say first hand that doing just that has made me a better person and coach. I don’t kid myself anymore or expect miracles when I miss a training session or have one too many cheat meals!
To finish on just ask yourself this question:
‘Am I doing everything required to look, feel and perform the way I want to in life?’