Why everyone can benefit from functional fitness training
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL FITNESS?
Functional fitness is a classification of training that prepares the body for real-life movements and activities.
The Mayo Clinic describes it as “It trains your muscles to work together and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work, or in sports”.
Functional fitness movements, are real life activities such as squatting, reaching, pulling, and lifting. Functional fitness is focused on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, such as lifting a suitcase into the back of your car or picking up heavy shopping or a child without injuring yourself. It is about building strength into your body to protect it during daily activities unlike the stylised way lifting weights in the controlled environment of a gym.
If you want to protect yourself against injury, then it may be time to incorporate functional fitness training
COMPONENTS OF FUNCTIONAL FITNESS
Movements such as bending, hinging, lifting, pushing, pulling, twisting, turning, standing, walking, jogging, running, sprinting, jumping, starting, stopping, climbing, and lunging are all made easier while training to improve functional strength.
Functional fitness training includes strength, balance, coordination, power, range of motion, and mobility. All of these components form part of functional training so you can move more freely and easily without the risk of injury.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM FUNCTIONAL FITNESS?
Anyone can benefit from incorporating functional fitness training into their exercise routine, either as the primary exercise or as a cross-training for a specific sport or activity.
We would always recommend beginners start with bodyweight exercises before adding additional resistance.
During our Group sessions or individual PT sessions, the exercises used are personalised to you and your ability and needs. Each exercise can be regressed to strengthen your particular weakness or progressed as you become fitter and adjust to the movements.
As functional fitness is about moving easily and well it can benefit anyone and everyone!
HISTORY OF FUNCTIONAL FITNESS
Functional fitness can be traced back to our ancestors who needed to move well for their very survival ie hunting and gathering. It may have become a popular term more recently, but it is really just training your body the way it used to be!
WHy FUNCTIONAL FITNESS?
As functional fitness supports everyday life, it includes movements such as walking, pushing, pulling, bending, squatting, lunging, and core. These exercises improve functional strength.
The human body is designed to have all its muscles work together and support each other to accomplish certain movements and tasks.
Functional fitness has been used for rehabilitation and therapy to correct and retrain individuals with movement disorders whether through accident, injury, surgery or just an inability to move well. Exercises used mimic the individuals’ normal daily activities to ensure freedom of movement.
THE RISE OF FUNCTIONAL FITNESS
Along with some other Personal Trainers, I have chosen to move away from the standard gym environment in favour of focusing on more functional training. I also prefer to train outdoors whenever possible as this provides the additional benefits of exercising in fresh air.
We use a variety of equipment from resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, battle ropes and exercises to improve balance and coordination.
We also aim to put the FUN into functional fitness by playing games and team challenges, so it doesn’t feel like you are training hard!
FUNCTIONAL FITNESS BENEFITS
Functional fitness can benefit your health, everyday life, and athletic performance:
- Increased muscle strength and endurance
- Muscle and body stability
- Easier movement
- Reduced stress
- Building muscle memory and exercising brain memory
- Building core strength
- Increased mobility
- Improved balance and coordination
- Improves balance and posture
- Encourages muscle and ligament strength
- Reduced risk of injury
It forces you to utilise your entire body to maximize your physical potential.
Our group Functional Fitness sessions are held on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays 6-7pm outside in our own private training field. Alternatively Personal Training solo or small group is also available. Please give me a ring to discuss what would work best for you.
Paul 0780 0780 039
Recently, someone asked me why I thought I was qualified in training people with mental health issues? Well, here’s the thing. Besides the fact that I am seven months into a year-long Mental Health Exercise coaching course, I live with the big black hairy dog every single day of my life. I think that alone qualifies me in dealing with issues, especially as I have survived over 40 plus years of it.
Recently, my mental health has taken a dive and apart from using exercise and routine to manage my health, I have taken up drawing since the New Year. This drawing I did of Carnage represents how I feel about my inner gremlin or black dog, call it whatever you will!
A lot of the time I suffer in silence as I don’t like to burden others with my stuff and to be honest, I don’t have many people in my life that understand this BS. That is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance of doing the course I am on, the need to be there for others that need a safe place to train and talk, to provide some sort of empowerment.
Back to the point though, shit happens. Recently my life had felt quite calm, and the dog left me (it’s such a relief when its gone) and I have felt like I have so much to look forward to, especially with a grandchild on the way (me a granddad – I was sure I was going to be dead by the time I was 23)!
Last week though the first signs of it coming back hit me. I went through all my usual routines to manage my mind and my mood lifted. It helped that I went to see Russell Brand in the week and being with other like-minded people and having a good laugh lifted me right back up there.
Then this week happened. I was tired and run down. Clients were messing me around dropping out of sessions, so my routine went by the wayside. During my own training session, I suddenly had the feeling of wanting to just curl up and die, to end it all. I felt sick and tired of dealing with the dog and being in the pit of despair. I have no idea why it hit me then, but I put pen to paper and wrote down whatever came out of my head (which one of the many voices was it speaking today, what a nutter), put it down and went back to training.
After finishing what I was doing, I wrote again and this time I flipped it over and spat out positive self-affirmations. It didn’t go away but I felt better for it. I carried on with my day until my evening clients arrived for group PT, I put the mask on and did what I do best and acted as if. Phew I got away with it again. No one knew I was in pain. When I finished I was exhausted. Next day was a 5am and I felt like a different person; happy, confident and on top of it.
I have no idea why I am writing this other than to say we all suffer; even successful business people and athletes go through negative thoughts and depression and there is no magic cure (I wish there was). For me exercise, meditation, writing and gratitude have helped. I was always a functioning alcoholic and the same with regards my depression. I still show up and put the work in be that working for my clients, my family, or my own self-care. I have my non negotiables that I refuse to move for anyone, they keep me sane (I use this term lightly of course).
I am a million miles from ever being cured from this BS, but I manage it to the best of my ability. Some things work for me others do not, but I keep trying to improve myself and learn each day. The feeling of loneliness never goes away even when I am with the people I love and that hurts but I know they are there.
Don’t be alone, find someone to talk to find a routine to help you manage. If nothing else get out of your bed, make it, and take it from there, small things lead to greater things.
Love and peace
Mental Health Awareness - May 2022
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time millions of people, from around the world, will be fighting the stigma against mental illness, educating the public, and sharing their stories.
Yes, I am one of those people.
With so many people suffering, it is important to recognise and understand mental health and the impact it has on you and those around you.
We can’t predict the future, so how can we best prepare ourselves to face challenges as they come our way? There are so many ways to build mental strength, here are just some ideas that work for me:
EXERCISE – Exercising regularly can be one of the most amazing mental strength builders. Whether you prefer group exercise or exercising alone, it is the habit of turning up consistently and regularly and doing something physical which in turn releases our positive hormones.
READING – spending quality time reading, reflecting, and simply escaping the busyness of the day is a proven way to quieten your brain.
REFLECTION, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS – whatever works for you, but the act of pausing is an amazing doubt reliever and leaves you feeling spiritually nourished.
NUTRITION – getting healthy nutrients into your body to fuel your energy level is one of the most important things you can do to stay strong. Try to avoid going too long without eating as this can negatively affect your mood.
FAMILY & FRIENDS – spending time with people you love allows you to reset your priorities and see things more clearly. Yes, I know some days you cannot see the wood for the trees and no matter who you are with you feel so alone.
GRATITUDE – practicing gratitude and staying positive in the moment is a de-stressor and fills our head with good thoughts. I do my gratitude every evening and sometimes I am just grateful to be alive.
SLEEP – we all need our rest, and sometimes in the most challenging of times, we get less because we are worrying about everything and nothing which has a negative effect on the one essential thing we need to function well each day. Aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep and try to develop a positive sleep hygiene routine.
Today, we have the challenge of letting doubt and fear seep into our daily lives. All around us, we are under attack – our jobs, our kids, our family, our friends, and society at large. We are surrounded by noise of one kind or another. We hear more about the bad that can happen or is happening than the good. The exercises above are just some ways that we can work daily to overcome the fear and negativity that is being thrown our way.
This month, I challenge you to a few things:
- Reflect on what you do daily to overcome fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
- Share those exercises with someone in your life, it might help them.
- Go into situations with an open mind. You never know what might be happening in someone’s life so be understanding. It’s a fact that those of us suffering will always say we are fine. Think before you speak.
- Take the time to learn something new about mental health and how it is impacting your community.
How exercise helped my client manage her arthritis
My arthritis and me …
I was diagnosed with arthritis just after my 30th birthday.
I had been involved in a couple of minor car crashes in my early 20’s which had resulted in whiplash and had suffered subsequent episodes of lower back pain and torticollis (a very stiff neck, where it gets stuck in one position)!
At the time, the recommendation was bed rest – usually two weeks bed rest accompanied by strong painkillers. At the end of the two weeks, I was still in a lot of pain, felt depressed, had lost two weeks of pay and had no further understanding of how to prevent this occurring again.
Over the following years, I have flare ups of lower back or neck pain, again resulting in more time off work and having to rely on family and friends to help with daily chores and childcare. Then it was confirmed that I had Osteoarthritis just after my 30th birthday.
I was so worried about further flare-ups that I avoided activities which I thought might make it worse including exercise and I even changed career as I couldn’t manage some of the physical demands.
Lower back pain was my daily norm and frequent periods of my neck muscles spasming requiring strong painkillers and anti-spasmodic medication. Again, my GP kept suggesting daily painkillers and sleeping tablets to manage the condition.
I realised that I had to take more responsibility for myself and find things that worked for me. So, I tried a variety of different complementary therapies. Some worked better than others but the trick seems to be regular monthly maintenance treatments to keep flare-ups at bay.
I lost some excess weight I had been carrying to take the pressure off my joints and try to limit foods which can cause inflammation.
However, the biggest change I made was to start exercising regularly!
Research was starting to suggest that weight-bearing exercise was beneficial and maintaining full range of motion of movements.
So, I tried various exercises and gyms but still didn’t stick with anything consistently. Until I found ‘bootcamp’.
Despite being really unfit and inflexible to begin with, I persevered. I would watch the clock intently and will it to get to the finish time, but I kept turning up. Why? What was so different that I kept coming back regularly? The answer was I was having fun despite myself!
It was obvious there was people of all ages and abilities, but they all encouraged each other, and we had a laugh every session. Everyone had exercises they found easier or harder. Every session, I didn’t know what to expect because such a variety of exercises were used. This meant, I couldn’t get anxious about it beforehand and just turned up. With my various physical issues, I was given different options for each of the exercises so on a good day I could push myself but if the arthritis was flaring up, I could opt for a more manageable option.
Attending the sessions regularly, gave me the confidence to try other things. I started a 0-5km running course, then moved onto entering 5km and 10km races. Even entering a couple of Half-marathons and one Full Marathon. I have also taken part in obstacle courses and proudly showed off my bruises to anyone and everyone the following day! To me, this is my equivalent of a gold medal!
I still don’t look athletic or super-fit but my day-to-day life has improved dramatically. Due to the increased core strength, I do not experience the debilitating back pain I used to. The bodyweight exercises have helped me build up strength in my leg muscles which in turn mean I don’t have the knee problems I used to.
As I have a desk-bound job, attending the FUNctional Fitness sessions means I get to exercise outdoors whilst having a laugh with other like-minded people.
As I am getting older it is really important to me that I can keep taking part in all the activities I enjoy now and all the adventures we haven’t yet had including more world-wide travel and playing with our grand-children.
10 things you may not know about arthritis
- Arthritis is painful.
- It may affect your spine, neck, hips, knees, hands and feet and even adversely affect your internal organs.
- It is a complex condition, with over 100 forms, which affects people differently.
- There is no cure but there are things you can do to manage the condition.
- There are a number of factors which can affect the condition eg the weather, your job, being over-weight or your daily routine to name but a few.
- Relief can be found using either hot or cold compresses or a combination of both.
- Although arthritis commonly occurs in the over 40’s, it can affect people of all ages including children.
- Arthritis accounts for one in three of all GP visits and every year millions of working hours are lost resulting in forced retirements.
- Injuries can aggravate the condition so ensure you have an appropriate exercise programme, for YOU, to reduce the risk of aggravating the condition.
- Movement can help … studies show staying physically active is THE most important thing YOU can do to help your arthritis.
Exercise, OA and You …
According to NHS.UK, Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting over nine million people.
It often develops in people in their mid-40s, most commonly in women and where there is a family history of the condition. However, it can occur in any age group and be associated with other joint conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout.
Osteoarthritis affects the smooth, cartilage lining of the joint, making movement more difficult and leading to pain and stiffness. As the cartilage lining degenerates, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and create bony spurs called osteophytes.
Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone which may alter the shape of the bones.
The most commonly affected joints are the spine, hips, hands and knees.
The weekly recommendation for aerobic exercise is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity or an equivalent combination. Ideally this should consist of 30 minutes exercise daily, which increases your heart rate, preferably with at least three 25-minute sessions at a higher intensity rate.
“Exercise is good. But exercise intelligently,” says Bashir Zikria, MD, an assistant professor of sports medicine at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore. “Low-impact exercises, are smart choices … if you do high-impact activities, avoid hard surfaces and don’t do it every day.”
Multiple studies show that mild to moderate exercise is beneficial for people with arthritis. However, everyone’s circumstances are different, so it is vital to so an individually designed exercise programme, following a thorough assessment is vital.
For arthritis sufferers it is also important to get the right balance of activities which help maintain flexibility without aggravating the condition . An area which is often overlooked, is range-of-motion exercises.
Range of motion refers to the ability to move your joints through the full motion they were designed to achieve. These exercises include gentle stretching and movements that take joints through their full span. Doing these exercises regularly can help maintain and improve the flexibility in the joints.
For anyone over 50, regular exercise, combined with a daily regime of range of motion exercises is vital to maintain body functioning to allow you to live life to the full.
Ring Paul on 0780 0780 039 to discuss an individual exercise plan for your needs.
My new lockdown training partner
So, I was really stoked to receive this little beauty today. A big shout out to Ben at https://www.pullupmate.co.uk for getting this to me.
As a PT/Movement Coach this is an excellent piece of equipment. Not just a portable pull up bar/frame but a versatile training aid that literally takes a matter of minutes to unpack and assemble, all you need is a bit of space and a flat surface. My clients will hate me having this.
I love training in our natural environment but sometimes it can be difficult to find something safe for clients to work from. At this moment in time this is even more of an issue with people being more concerned about what they touch. For me this is the perfect solution I can take it to the training area, set it up, get the workout done, easily clean it down pack it away and move on.
The https://www.pullupmate.co.uk has just opened the door for me to be able to push my clients outside their comfort zone once again. Am so looking forward to starting group training sessions again, we have just gained another station or six.
My only negative comment would be it is a little wobbly when you first start out with it but brace your core and trust it will hold you and all is good.
The https://www.pullupmate.co.uk is a great bit of kit to have for personal exercising too, can easily be set up in your house or garage if you are not a fan of outdoor training or its chucking it down outside. Equally you can throw it up in a small back garden to get a great bodyweight workout.
People often ask me what one bit of kit I would want if stuck on an island. My answer has always been a Kettlebell, think that has just changed.
I will only ever promote something if I think it is going to do some good and this is definitely a handy bit of gear.
Lockdown has been tough on everyone!
To try and stay connected and sane whilst group sessions were banned, we hosted an online group for club members with a daily workout or healthy recipe to try. We also held a daily challenge to see who could complete the challenge going all month.
At the start of the lockdown all our club members were encouraged to see themselves goals so motivation wasn’t completely lost. Lindsey set herself some goals including “coming out of lockdown without gaining weight or losing any fitness”.
She made the workout the focus of her day whilst on lockdown and posted her results daily into the private members group.
Lindsey absolutely smashed the daily workouts, embraced the health eating recipes and annihilated the month-long challenge!
To celebrate her success Paul presented her with a voucher from ‘Nude in Bude’ to treat herself to one of their amazing, all natural products.
So what do I do for fun?
I like to challenge myself, find new ways to push myself out of my comfort zone, anyone can do comfortable.
Truth be told I hate running; always have done. That aside I have taken part in numerous obstacle races from 10k to 20 miles with up to 200 obstacles. Have run up and down Snowdon twice, which is 23 miles if I remember correctly and swum through freezing cold water at the bottom to add insult to injury.
Why do something you hate?
It’s all about the challenge, the fun in taking part and the friendships you make along the way.
The last four years I have taken part in Superhuman Games a mix of strength and endurance which pushes you way outside of your safe zone. At the end of the first one if you had asked me to do it again the answer would have been a flat NO … but one day later I was waiting for the tickets to go on sale and am addicted to it!
This year was different for me. Usually I do the same sex pairs but this year due to circumstances I did the individual events (first time they have been held). So many things were different which once again put me into the unknown;
- The event was held in a different place
- I took part as a Individual
- My wife and daughter turned up (no pressure then)
- Three members from my bootcamp suddenly appeared having driven two and a half hours to Bristol from Cornwall (still no pressure then?)
- It was 24 degrees C with no escape from the sun
- Still recovering from a shoulder injury
- Went vegan in January so apparently would be weak and feeble with the lack of protein in my diet, after all I only eat lettuce and grass apparently.
So the variables all changed, did I survive, did I finish and achieve what I set out to do? Damn right I did.
It’s about the challenge, the challenge to see if I can overcome whatever is thrown my way. If my body can beat my brain when that oh so negative voice kicks in and says what are you playing at? You’re too old, too weak, not good enough.
Fuck you and your BS, I can and I will. Don’t want to be on the podium just want to know I can and have fun along the way.
Roll on next summer’s games and hopefully if I can pull a team together this winter too.
Bring it on, if I can so can you.
2017 goals - BE SMART
I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and enjoyed some well-earned time off over the holidays.
We are now approaching that traditional time where many people start to reflect on the past 12 months and begin putting plans in place for what they’d like to achieve in the year ahead.
Have you started to think about some goals you would like to achieve in 2017 or some changes you’d like to make in your life?
If you have (or haven’t) then I want to share some advice with you… think SMART …
Make your goals as SPECIFIC as possible.
Make sure they are MEASUREABLE and TIME-ORIENTED.
Make sure they are ACHIEVABLE and REALISTIC.
Once you have done this I want you to ask yourself WHY?
Why is this important to you?
What would be different about you if you were able to accomplish them?
What is going to happen in your life if you don’t accomplish them?
Asking yourself these questions will help give you clarity and understanding on some of the sacrifices you are likely to have to endure to make these goals happen.
Feel free to share them with me, if you need any help in doing this then just reach out.
Best regards for 2017 and hope this will be your best year ever!
What do you really want?
We all know that nothing in life is free. There is always a cost and I don’t mean the money.
If you want to reach your goals you have to make sacrifices; you may have to give things up and work your butt off. Yes, I know it is easier for some than others but you cannot and will not get anywhere in life without putting your nose to the grindstone.
Don’t say you want to lose weight, turn up to a few fitness classes and wonder why you aren’t losing anything. Did you change your diet as you were advised too? Have you really been putting all your energy into the session when you turn up? Have you made those little changes we talked about in everyday life?
My guess, is NO?
Why the hell would you? Where is the pleasure in eating fresh fruit and veggies, lean protein and healthy fats? Why walk when you can drive? Why drink water when you can down a sugar filled fizzy drink?
God forbid you give up the fast food crap, booze, fags, the processed crisps, biscuits etc. etc. After all, life is too short – right?
However, think forward – carry on the way you are and you will not have to worry. You are what you eat after all.
Think what it must be like to enjoy those fat congested arteries with the possibility of a stroke or heart attack? Or having Type 2 diabetes and the list goes on. Am I scare mongering? No. Just saying it as it is. Your life, your choice.
You know the saying you can’t out train a poor diet. Listen to it, understand it and make small but positive changes to your diet. Be the person you want to be.
If you want to be fit, then turn up and put the work in. If you are new, injured or finding things difficult because you’re not feeling 100% all good trainers will adapt exercises for you … but turn up, dig deep and give it a go.
Spare a thought for your workout buddies: do they want to hear you constantly moaning? Or would they rather have a positive ‘can do’ attitude alongside helping them to achieve more too? Try to train positive – it will help you focus and work harder plus it will be a lot nicer for your training partners.
You have to take it outside your comfort zone. So that means start easy, then change it up a gear. It’s all about progression; you can do it, just turn off that negative voice in your head.
How can you be a better version of you without working for it?
Be consistent: train on the days you say you are going to.
Turn up and give it 100% work.
Try and work it up to the next level, push a little bit harder.
Change that diet; no one said you can’t earn a treat meal or slice of cake. Try and pick the least processed version, or make your own, there are plenty of great cook books out there.
Walk to the shops or work when you can. Use the stairs not the lift or escalator.
Get up and move from the sofa or your desk, you can always slip in a sneaky exercise, a few squats or press ups.
Make the effort, stop with the moaning and excuses. Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude.
Be a better version of you.
New season timetable now available if you need an incentive to make a commitment to change! Or give me a ring to discuss your needs.
Is your food plan working?
We all know that when you are following a strict exercise and eating plan it can get hard. There are times you want to skip the training session or fall off plan and eat that cake or chocolate bar.
To make a healthy lifestyle sustainable you have to see food differently: food is fuel, it heals, it supports the vital organs and systems within the body, and it keeps you functioning to the max. It cannot function well when you feed it crap. Therefore you need to learn to listen to your body; what your body desires to keep it fuelled and running efficiently.
You have to become mindful of what you are putting inside your body by tracking your daily food and liquid intake.
- Write down each meal you eat, what was in it, when you ate it, were you hungry/ full both before and after you ate?
- Did you have any feelings beforehand e.g. did you have a headache, an energy dip or spike, bloated stomach or feeling tired etc.
- Do this for a week; no two days are ever the same.
- Take note of any anomalies, if you had headaches when were they? How were your energy levels at certain points in the day?
- Make sure you track your fluid intake too, this can have a huge impact on eating habits and body functions.
Once you have reviewed the diary then look at what you want to change. Make a list of short term goals (set 3-4 specific and easily attainable targets you can do over the space of a month). Start off small to reach your main goal.
Food tracking will increase your awareness of the foods you eat. Increasing this awareness will make you view food differently thus enabling you to enjoy and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Of course we all deserve a little treat now and again but try not to always base it around food. Does it really have to be a sweet treat?
Why not lose those pounds, turn around the unhealthy eating habits, turn up for your PT session or your fitness class and then reward yourself with something non-food that will make you feel good? Treat yourself to a new outfit, a hair cut, try a new activity or a weekend spa break with your loved one or friends, anything but the greasy burger and fries or the sugary dessert.
Race day fuel - how to get it right
When it comes to getting ready for race day or an event you need to be topping up Glycogen and hydration levels so as not to end up hitting the wall or getting cramps.
I tend to drink fluids throughout the day aiming for 2-3 litres of water (herbal/green teas included) if you are a coffee drinker then no more than 2 cups. You are aiming to have your pee a straw colour or clear.
My preference is to eat carbohydrates that are low GI so sweet potatoes are good and porridge or brown rice. Try to avoid fatty foods and alcohol (which acts as a diuretic). If you can tolerate it then look at eating wholemeal pasta with the addition of fish or beans, brown rice with chicken or tofu or Jacket potato with tuna or cottage cheese. Essential mix of protein and carbohydrates.
The day before a race my eating pan might be a little like this; porridge and berries made with rice and almond milk followed by scrambled eggs, mushrooms and spinach. My snacks will be rice cakes and peanut butter or oatcakes and hummus or nut butter. A baked sweet potato for lunch with some form of protein and plenty of salad or greens. Mid afternoon snack a protein shake or homemade energy/protein bar. Dinner might be risotto. You could eat pasta with a tomato based sauces or rice dishes (not a greasy fried rice, Indian or Chinese dish).
Come race day the focus again is on topping up the glycogen level, maintaining blood sugar and staying hydrated.
Through trial and error I prefer to have my main pre-race meal 2-4 hours before, keeping it simple with porridge and fruit made with low fat, rice or almond milk. Toast/bread with honey or jam or low fat yoghurt and fruit. For those of you that tend to get a little too nervous and feel that solid food is not going float your boat then maybe try having a meal replacement drink. Do not under any circumstances turn up with an empty stomach or you will not finish.
Two hours before try and drink 500ml fluid, not an energy drink (by which I mean the sort that give you wings etc.) but you could have a sports drink or make your own version. 15-30 minutes before take on board between 125 and 250ml of liquid. If you intend to have a coffee drink at least 30-60 minutes before hand.
One hour before the event have a smoothie, yoghurt drink, fruit, an energy bar, dried apricots or rice pudding.
At the end of the race be sure to take on board a recovery food/drink, can be a sports drink or protein shake. You could have flapjacks, granola or energy bars (try and make your own), fresh fruit, a sandwich roll or bagel with meat, fish, egg or cheese, or dried fruits and nuts.
To summarise for race day;
Low GI carbs, low fat, low protein, low to moderate fibre, not too bulky or filling, not salty or spicy, easy to digest. Keep it wholesome and real.
Fuel up well and you will have a good race. Neglect this and you will be cold and miserable and want to give up before you have even started.
This is a nice, easy pancake recipe for whenever you want a little treat or as a high-protein option for pancake day.
3 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1 scoop whey protein powder
1 ripe banana
1/3 cup oats
½ tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
Simply put all ingredients into a blender and mix. You may need to add a little water if the consistency is too thick (this will depend on your protein powder).
Ladle into a warm pan with a little coconut oil.
Cook on one side until bubbles start to appear then flip over and continue cooking, you want a golden brown colour to the pancake.
Serve and eat straight away with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt or sliced banana and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate or maple syrup.
Tai Chi - stress, anxiety and depression
What is Tai Chi (Taiji, Tai Chi Chuan or Tai Ji Quan) and why do it?
It is often described as moving meditation due to the sequence of movements (both graceful and flowing) combined with deep breathing exercises which encourage both relaxation and inner peace.
As the form is performed chi or internal energy is stimulated throughout the body which is thought to improve health and longevity.
That said it is also a very effective martial art, which through its slow practice makes for a peaceful and non-aggressive methodology towards learning the art of ceasing, controlling and breaking your enemy.
Although there are several styles of Tai Chi they all seem to emanate from the roots of Taoist philosophies which some believe is translated through the movements themselves.
The above is one of my favourite quotes from the Dao de Ching and holds so true in my daily training as well as everyday life. Without taking that first step we will never reach our end destination.
For me Tai Chi is a daily journey of self-discipline, self-realisation and self-understanding. Like the movements of Tai Chi, once you set off on the path, there are no beginnings or ends it is a perpetual motion.
I make no secret of the fact that I suffer from depression on a frequent basis and that being physical is my way of coping. Those that know me are well aware that I like to throw the weights around but that can do more harm to my mental state at times and this is where Tai Chi plays its hand. The movement is soft, gentle, healing and at the same time grounding. But to really reap the benefits it must be practiced daily (understand no two days are ever the same).
If for any reason I end up missing a session of self-practice my mental health can suffer quite dramatically, upsetting my balance.
While the world around me turns to chaos one certainty is the peace of mind I will find through training.
The bottom line is that Tai Chi is a mind and body exercise encompassing martial arts and meditation. With its flowing movement and postures it promotes
- awareness of the mind
- mind, body and spirt
These are just a few of its benefits. Studies have shown the potential for Tai Chi as an aid for fighting depression and anxiety amongst other illnesses.
Tai Chi may help reduce stress, anxiety and depression
Wang and her colleagues found that practicing Tai Chi was associated with reduced stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem.
Tai Chi is a gentle martial art form that promotes both mental and physical wellbeing. Daily practice alongside Qi Gung can have a profound effect on how you live your daily life, the way in which you move, and how you cope with demanding situations. Your outlook on life will change for the better but only through diligent daily practice.
Be kind and gentle to yourself and the world around you
If you want to know more about Tai Chi and take part in a session the contact www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk
Do you have a sense of purpose?
Why do you do what you do?
What is your driving force, what makes you get out of bed each day?
What makes you turn up to the gym or your fitness session?
For some it is the usual new year let’s get it on and lose those extra pounds put on over the Christmas period. Others see it as a way to meet and socialise and perhaps are not really very interested in the benefits of exercise at all.
Then there are those that want to be a better person than they were before they walked into their session. If you want to get results then you got to get your ass in gear and sweat some; just turning up and going through the motions will give you nothing. Turn up with the right mind-set and the attitude of a winner and you are on the right path to achieving something good for yourself.
Remember though you have to better yourself each and every day. We can all be brilliant for one day but what about holding that thought and pushing it forward every day. Make each day better than yesterday; you can achieve anything you want so long as you are prepared to put in the hard graft.
- Find a real sense of purpose,
- Find the drive and enthusiasm to take you to the top of your game
- Do not fear stepping outside your comfortable safe zone.
You see it so many times, people just going through the motions but achieving nothing.
You want to achieve? You want to win? Then set the target and work for it like your life depends on it.
That new body shape you desire won’t happen on its own – you have to earn it, sweat it out; you have to give up on some of life’s little pleasures. Now I am not saying you have to become a saint but you do need to live your life differently, eat natural wholesome foods, cut the crap from your life and yes your body may ache a little as you begin to tone and shape your torso.
It’s not just food and training that has to change, if you are going to train hard then you need to love your body some more; treat it with respect, stretch it out, roll it and rest it.
Sleep is just as important as training and clean eating, if not more so;
- The average adult needs 7.5-9 hours’ sleep each night
- The body goes through a detox process during the night; the brain begins to flush metabolic waste
- Muscles begin to repair, etc.
For me I know that each day I must perform better than I did yesterday, no two days are the same, each day providing a new challenge, a new problem to get your head around.
Each time I step into my gym I know that session has to be taken to the next level, if it stays the same as yesterday then I have achieved nothing, my body just says oh that’s right we did this already and just goes with the flow. If I whack the weight a little higher or change up the tempo then I shock the body and it has to better itself it has to work it out and adapt to what I throw at it. I come out of that session feeling like I owned it. My goal is to own every session I do. Each session makes me stronger both physically and mentally giving me the edge on everyday life.
Take each task you do with the mind set of being your best and some and you will get the result you want. Just go through the motions then you may as well sit at home and sit that lazy ass on the sofa while you watch banal TV shows whilst feeding yourself the latest TV dinner packed with chemicals, sugar and salt!
- Set targets, short term, medium, and the big one
- Earn yourself a treat on the way (a smaller dress or pair of jeans)
- Push yourself outside your comfort zone, stop playing safe
- Work your ass off, get sweaty and feel the burn
- Aim high
- Believe in yourself
- Always be better than you were yesterday, except nothing less.
At www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk we aim to make you a better version of you, helping you get fitter, stronger and happier.
Sometimes your best just isn’t enough
Fuel for endurance training
The training has started in earnest but how best to fuel for the endurance season?
Most people think of endurance as just doing an exercise over a long time/distance. This is true but it is the effect on the body and how it copes with these extremes that can make the difference.
In essence there are two types of endurance muscular and cardiorespiratory.
Muscular endurance is the work of either one muscle or a group of muscles and their ability to maintain a continued force of movement without fatigue.
Cardiorespiratory endurance is based around its ability to pump blood and oxygen to working muscles therefore reducing muscular fatigue whilst allowing for continued performance.
To perform well we need to feed the body large amounts of wholesome nutrients, not only to help with continued performance but also to ensure recovery and good health. Imagine putting diesel into your petrol tank and driving off, it won’t be long before the car splutters and chokes to a standstill (yep I have tried it), the human body is the same. Feed it a low nutrient diet full of processed foods, then push it to the extreme and it’s going to get sick, performance levels will drop, fatigue will set in and recovery will take longer.
We all know that a well-balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat is essential to keep our bodies in shape and to fuel us through daily life. When it comes to athletic performance, we need to take it to the next level.
Endurance athletes, be they weekend warriors or full time athletes need a much higher calorific intake than the average person to cope with the extra energy demands placed upon the body , the main fuel source of which is going to be carbohydrates to ensure glycogen levels are kept at a premium both during training and when competing.
As stated carbs are the main energy sources during endurance events and should not be under estimated. That said, the body can only store a limited supply, therefore the amount of glycogen stored in both the liver and muscles will dictate when fatigue sets in, we all know the term “hitting the wall” when it feels like you just cannot move any further and the body just wants to shut down.
As a general rule carb intake for endurance athletes works out at 5–12 g/per kg bodyweight depending on the amount of time spent training/competing. So carb intake should be 50–65% of their calorie consumption.
It is also essential to consume good quality protein to enhance recovery and maintain muscle. Protein is an essential building block for the body. Intake levels will vary for each individual but as a guideline the recommendation is 1.2–1.4g/ per kg bodyweight although in some cases up to 2g can be of benefit. Again this should be based around the training regime and daily calorific intake of the individual.
This is only a brief look at endurance nutrition, there is so much more that can be said about the role of protein and fats, as for carbohydrates which one is best before, during and after training/event day? What are the different types and how do the affect the body? Way too much for one blog.
If you want to know more or get help training, find me at
Delicious detox smoothie
Why not try this delicious detox smoothie?
2 cups of spinach
½ bunch parsley
2 sticks celery
½” fresh ginger
½ lime, juice of
½ lemon, juice of
Add water as needed to the juices and blend with ingredients to desired consistency.
If you like this smoothie, more healthy smoothies are included in all our Fitness and Tai Chi weekend breaks and feature in our Weight Management programmes – all available from Paul Collins Fitness.
Many people will try a home detox in January, which is all well and good if you know what you are doing, but be aware that an un-monitored detox can be dangerous.
Here are a few natural remedies to the common side-effects:
- Honey and Water
- Acupressure (use GB20, a point at the base of the skull in the hollow between the front and back neck muscles, located behind the bony prominence just behind the ear – you will know when you have found the spot as there is one either side of the head – and massage gently with your thumbs)
- Peppermint oil – rub on externally. (Never consume essential oils!)
- Drink more water between meals
- Acupressure (turn your palm upwards and measure two thumb-widths up your arm from the base of your wrist, press here for 30-60 seconds between the two string-like tendons –do this whenever you need to)
- Herbal ginger tea
- Drink more water between meals
If you are going to go it alone, try to self-detox go for no more than one day, stay well hydrated and be very gentle on yourself.
Alternatively please give me a ring on 0780 0780 039 to discuss supported detox or weight management programmes.
Detox = CRAP?
In the last post I talked about Resolutions and, as the festivities are now over, I am sure there will be many people regretting their holiday over-indulgences.
Our bodies are great at detoxing themselves when we hit the realms of pure gluttony but, that said, our organs need a little extra help to recover and be able to function at a premium rate.
Many of the foods we eat require more nutrients than they supply to process them (known as anti-nutrients). Eaten to excess on a daily basis, these anti-nutrients can create a toxic overload and play havoc on our natural detoxification system.
Refined sugar, processed foods, smoking, alcohol, painkillers, antibiotics and pollutants from the environment, are all forms anti-nutrients. And remember, toxins that are not removed from the body are stored as fat.
Give the body a helping hand and cut back on:
- Carbonated drinks
- Refined sugar
- Artificial additives (Alcohol too)
- Processed foods
And aim to eat foods that contain anti-inflammatory agents :
- Omega 3, from fish and flax seed oils
- Curcumin, from the spice turmeric
- Anthocyanins, from berries, dark sweet cherries, red grapes and purple plant foods
New Year - New You?
Diet starts Monday?
How to enjoy your Christmas dinner without piling on the pounds?
Can Christmas day food be healthy?
It’s Christmas time again: the time of over indulgence, hangovers and the inevitable weight gain. Without wishing to put a downer on the festive season jollities, it doesn’t have to be too unhealthy a time.
Believe it or not most of the food we eat on Christmas day is actually good for you; it’s how you eat it and the excessive amounts that we in the rich western world force upon ourselves. A sensible sized plate of food and taking it easy on the booze can have its benefits.
Turkey; a low fat bird providing a source of lean protein, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, niacin, choline and the amino acid tryptophan (good for sleep). The white meat is lower in fat in comparison to the brown and by taking the skin off after cooking you can save a good 40 calories (perfect if you are watching that waist line). Avoid the temptation to fill it with butter under the skin and a ton of sausage and chestnut stuffing which will be full of fat. Make a stuffing of cranberries, chestnut and orange, lower in calories and full of flavour.
Personally I bone out the legs and stuff them, wrap them in foil and bake them letting the fat run out at the end of cooking. Easy to cook and serve. As for the bird; set it in a tray over onion, carrot and herbs. Fill the cavity with lemon, sage, onion and seasoning cover the tray with foil add a little water and let it steam and roast.
What about the piles of veggies you are going to load onto that plate full of goodness?
The humble sprout is personally one of my favourites; I will eat them every day given the chance. If you can resist the urge to boil the life out of them then they are a perfect little nutri-bomb, a source of both folate (a B vitamin) and vitamin C with the added bonus of fibre. Good for the heart and digestion.
Just try and keep them low fat. Boil them for no more than 3 minutes, when they turn bright green then take them out of the water. Forget the butter put in a few chestnuts, lemon zest, juice and some fresh herbs.
Potatoes; A great source of carbohydrate (although personally I opt for sweet potato), just try and lay off the goose fat and other oils which they soak up like a sponge and boom your calories have gone up another notch or five.
Try a simple baked potato, not very Christmassy maybe but good for you all the same.
Carrots; We all know the benefits of carrots? Best known for the vitamin A contained within but did you know they are also full of Vitamin C, K, B8 pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. Not forgetting fibre.
Red cabbage; Take a look at the colouring when you eat this you know full well you are in for a healthy treat. The colour tells you its full of disease fighting antioxidants which can only serve to make you feel good.
Parsnips; Like the carrot, parsnips are full of vitamins and minerals, folate, potassium, vitamin C and also fibre rich. Let’s keep them healthy and steam them to help keep that waist line ripped!
Cranberries; Are little bursts of vitamins C, E and fibre. Great berries but a little tart for most palettes making us reach for the sugar bowl. Try exchanging sugar for a little honey, stevia or coconut sugar instead. Add the berries to fresh orange juice and zest with cinnamon, nutmeg and your chosen sweetener, remember less is more.
Nuts; Always around at Christmas yet often totally abused, left to rot on the side as no one can be bothered to crack a shell. Come on that’s all part of your natural training, hunt, gather and prepare. They are a great source of omega 3, calcium, vitamin E and selenium, depending on which variety you choose. But just remember they are high in fat and therefore calories.
Chocolate; who in their right mind can refuse chocolate (sorry to offend any non-chocolate lovers?) but if you are going to indulge opt for the 70%+ dark chocolate option. Avoid the tinned sweets that come in at 40-50kcal each. You could potentially eat four or five squares from a dark bar at around 100 kcals all in while at the same time taking on a little extra in the form of nutrients, a win-win situation.
Finally there is the good old Christmas pudding full of dried fruit so yes full of sugar too. It is a source of fibre and B vitamins coupled with potassium, iron and calcium. Relatively low in fat but high in carbohydrates so go for a small portion, if you want to bring the calories down a little more then use Greek yoghurt instead of cream and brandy butter. Make a low fat version custard using semi -skimmed milk.
All in all a healthy meal, but like I said it’s how you treat the food that can make or break the waistline.
Enjoy Christmas, just remember, too much of a good thing has a tendency to give a little in return. All that booze, cake, mince pies and chocolate with a ton of calories will add to that ever expanding waist.
Depression and exercise
How many of people in the UK suffer from depression? It’s estimated that 1 in 4 of us will suffer some sort of mental health problem in our life time.
I am no specialist when it comes to depression apart from the fact that I have lived with it since my teenage years, back then though you were told to man up and get on with life, fortunately now mental health issues are understood a little more. Not by everyone though there are still those that shy away from you when you say you suffer from it.
Trust me it ain’t catching.
Got to be honest, sometimes it can be quite enjoyable seeing the world in such a different way, other times though it just crushes your soul when you slip into that pit of despair and self-loathing. The world just goes black and there is no fun, no love and no beauty to this life.
So many times I have thrown away opportunities, relationships and possessions when the darkness has taken its icy grip. There have been times when I haven’t even known that it has gripped me; it’s not been until my partner has said welcome back that I have any idea I’ve been away! My focus has just been surviving each day, coping with each little bit I can manage. When it’s like that no one else exists, it’s just me and my friend “misery”.
Don’t get me wrong, I have never stopped work or just given up and sat down all day (wanted to) that’s not me. I have shouted and screamed that I don’t want to do what has to be done. I have had to get up and perform for my boot camps or tai chi sessions but as soon as they have finished BAM I am back on the floor, would rather do a round with Mike Tyson than be hit by this.
Thankfully there is exercise, a proven method of coping and managing depression. It’s not a magic cure. I don’t believe there is one but it is a way to deal with it.
“Research shows that exercise and physical activity can be as effective as anti-depressant medication in treating mild to moderate depression”.
I have made it quite clear to the Doctors that drugs and me are not going to work, there are other ways.
Eat the right foods, stay away from alcohol, meditate and exercise. Food and exercise are the only drugs I need. Yeah I have tried drugs (illegal) and alcohol and they did nothing except send me over the edge and cover up the symptoms.
Also tried eating shit food, comfort eating and throwing up again, just ended up hating what I saw in the mirror each day,
When I train I am happy, life is good. It’s not a cure all but by god it lifts me up, I feel love for myself, pride in my appearance and invincible. All the things depression strips from me.
According to the Mental Health Foundation report taking part in exercise will;
– less tension, stress and mental fatigue
– a natural energy boost
– improved sleep
– a sense of achievement
– focus in life and motivation
– less anger or frustration
a healthy appetite
– better social life
There are several theories about why exercise is beneficial to mental health. These are related to biology (exercise leads to an increased release of endorphins and enkephalins), sociology (attendance enables people to build new relationships), skillmastery (exercise improves body condition and creates achievable goals), and distraction (exercise creates a diversion from a preoccupation with negative thoughts).
Signs and symptoms of depression
Tiredness and loss of energy.
Sadness that doesn’t go away.
Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting.
Feeling anxious all the time.
Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends.
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Sleeping problems – difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual.
Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Finding it hard to function at work/college/school.
Loss of appetite.
Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems.
Physical aches and pains.
Thinking about suicide and death.
It’s worth remembering that the foods we eat all have a major effect on our mind state, eat the wrong foods and watch your mental health deteriorate. Food can support or stress the body and mind.
Let’s not forget many of our modern day diets are lacking in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from intense farming, foods being held in warehouses for long periods of time and through being highly processed.
To redress the balance there needs to be a focus on foods that support and heal the functions of the body and mind, foods that develop neurotransmitters (serotonin and noradrenalin being the main imbalance in those of us who suffer).
The obvious choices are wholesome, natural foods as we were intended to eat, water, nuts and seeds, oily fish, healthy lean proteins, fruits and vegetables alongside wholegrain foods.
These are foods the body recognises; they help support, regulate and maintain the body’s equilibrium.
It seems obvious then that the danger foods are sugar, dairy, processed foods, cakes, pastries and sweets, along with drinking alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks. All of these help to stimulate and unbalance the mind.
Even so it is noted that when depressed we reach for these very foods, foods that exacerbate the problem, foods that we know can harm us in more ways than one.
Recognise the self-destruct mode? Shove those biscuits and cakes down your throat, feel the guilt, hurt your mind and body some more, feel a little more hate towards yourself, fuel that fire. Watch your stomach swell, fat start to accumulate around your arms, legs and in in your face. Feel the despair, the anger the hatred towards yourself for letting this happen and yes, that’s right feed it some more, slip into that downward spiral that all-consuming pit.
Does have to be this way? NO
Avoid the danger foods or consume limited quantities, eat natural foods. Exercise, talk and destress yourself. It isn’t going to cure you but it will help manage the problem.
For more information check out;
“What you don’t realise about life is that, You don’t know how low you’ve got until you’re are happy. Life takes over, you think you are picking yourself up after every knock but you don’t quite bounce back as well, things get put on the back burner while you try to cope, day to day, kids, relationships, the never ending struggle with money. How can you look after yourself as well? Suddenly 4 years later you are just getting through the days and somehow putting on half a pound or so a month and it not mattering has turned into 3 Stone and you realise that’s the same weight as a three year old!
It hasn’t been about fitness for me, it has been about the journey back although I didn’t know it at the time. I started the classes to support Paul and Tina, but in no time I loved them, I started the lean and clean way of eating because Paul needed a case study and now I recognise how different foods make me feel. Over time I have sobbed through my press ups, shown up at class only because I said I would and regressed on occasion to the cake diet! But with Paul it’s all about moving forward, gentle encouragement when needed, pressure when he can see the time is right and occasional praise until suddenly I’m the size I was when I was 18, can run 10k and somehow am taking part in a Survival of the Fittest race like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
People I know come up to me all the time to say I look amazing or they just don’t recognise me, but it’s not purely about the weight, I don’t have an ex-wardrobe, most of my clothes are the same, although they fit and look better of course. It’s about how I feel that makes me look different. Nothing else has changed, I still have the same day to day problems that I always did, but I like myself, I have a positive attitude, I feel happy and I now have great skin. I’m me again and I look back 6 months and it’s that person I don’t recognise. I couldn’t have done it without Paul and Tina and the other Body Fit Boot Camp members, it feels more like a family than a club, there’s no competition, everyone wants the best for each other, and are genuinely pleased when someone hits another milestone for them, be it be weight, giving up the inhaler, managing an exercise or running that little but further every time”.
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