You don't need breakfast!
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
No, it’s not.
We’re talking fat loss here so let’s look at the basics.
You need less calories.
You need to eat less.
Is removing a meal going to help?
Of course it is.
Nutrient timing plays a very small roll within fat loss, not that important.
Calories are THE MOST important!
Now I am not saying don’t have breakfast but what I am saying is you don’t really need it.
Especially not if you’re planning on eating shit like cereal bars, cereal or crumpets.
You’re throwing calories into the equation for the sake of it.
If you’re hungry eat, have something proper.
But if you’re late, working away or just ‘don’t have time’ then hold out for a few hours.
We can go days without food, you’ll make it to lunchtime mate.
For most, breakfast is one of the meals that lets you down the most as far as NOT containing ANY nutrients.
It's usually loaded with Wheat, Gluten and Dairy.
The 3 things the western world are most intolerant to.
Funny that, use your brains!
11 Reasons I hate 'Boot camps'
I’m not saying they’re a bad thing for you, I just don’t like them – here’s why:
1) It’s outside – not because it’s not good to be outside, it’s because the trainer wants to keep his outgoings down. They’re probably offering you a discount to retain you too because they’re too tight to spend more than 47p on an online advert for their business.
2) You’re limited – burpees, high knees, kneeling pressups… from here most exercises come from the ‘I just made this shit up’ book of exercises. What do they do when you become used to the stimulus from the exercise.
Urm, do more?
Nice programming bro.
3) Burpees, people are paying someone else to be told to do them. How is this happening?
4) Group Prescription – Oh yeah, you all want exercise? Here it is!
Imagine that happening at a doctors surgery.. “You all ill?” Here ya all go. Slight exaggeration but you get the drift.
5) I may be wrong but it’s called Personal Training because it needs to be personal. I highly doubt people are opening up about their emotional drives to over consume hedonic foods during a Wednesday night boot camp.
Exercise isn’t a holistic solution to composition.
6) People dressing up in military kit to take exercise. Whether you’re military or not it doesn’t mean you’re a better coach than someone who coaches in ‘civvi’ clothes.
7) ‘Beasting’, again a terminology I feel shouldn’t belong in the fitness industry unless you’re a sadistic bastard. In that case join Crossfit instead.
8) Programming – most is off the cuff, in most cases NO REGARD for impact, volume and stress on joints etc.
9) Form – You’ll see the same in Crossfit boxes that try and host a class with too many people. Poor form can be over looked leading to injury.
10) ‘The Completion Aspect’ as I call it.
Completion is seen as finishing the allotted exercise in the given amount of time with no regard to anything else.
BURPEES FOR 30 SECONDS GO GO GO!
No good stimulation of muscle tissue should or ever has been rushed.
11) It’s for the ‘keep costs down ‘fitness’ people of today.
Well, good luck when you purchase your next car, house or holiday keeping costs to an absolute minimum – nothing will go wrong there….
p.s I do genuinely think that ANYTHING that gets people off the sofa is a GREAT THING.
I could just list 2938 things better than a traditional boot camp...
9 REASONS YOU CAN'Y GET AN ASS
1) You think that doing the movement and contracting the muscle are the same thing. You think just because you lifted a 45kg deadlift that your glutes will have fired, functioned and contracted against the load, you’re wrong.
2) You don’t eat enough, you think that low calorie = better results. Well muscle is an entity the body doesn’t require necessary unless we have a sufficient amount of calories in our diet.
3) You eat the same calories every day, you think your caloric intake, like programming can stay the same – well actually you’d be better off splitting your calories into a share of days of too many and too little.
4) You think you can go through the entirety of your fitness and ‘lifting life’ without having to learn basic anatomy. If you don’t know the terms: hip hinge, RDL, hip flexion/extension, external rotation, pelvic tilt, dorsiflexion and many others then you’ll need to get clued up to get the best out of your lifting – if you need any help with that ask any of the girls I train, they’re probably more clued up than you are.
5) You lift in the same rep range every time you lift, if you’re getting used to it, chances are your muscles are too.
6) You don’t eat enough protein, don’t worry 90% of people don’t.
7) You under recover, you’d rather be on Instagram than be asleep. (That’s when muscles repair)
8) You think that a detox, cleanse, quinoa and vegan superfoods will get you a perky butt. I’ll simplify it for you, a great butt is a presence of lean muscle with an optimal amount of fat, not too much, not too little. Save the quinoa for the hippies.
9) You think that lifting your leg in the air is going to stimulate muscle tissue. I’ve said it before – Imagine me if you will, I’m in the free weights are of the gym, I’m 10 days out from California. I’m by the mirror, I’m doing bicep curls however instead of loading a weight I am trying to use the weight of my forearm and my forearm alone to stimulate the muscle.
I’d look like a complete idiot, right? Well, ladies when you’re waving your leg in the air for 50 reps, you’re kind of looking the same. TOP TIP: Instagram videos have one purpose and one purpose only, to get you to interact with it. These babes love to put up INTERESTING videos of lunge variations and ways to use the smith machine… I watch you girls re-enact them on the gym floor and well, you wouldn’t be reading this post if those worked for you, would you?
KEEP IT SIMPLE, BE CONSISTENT.
BOOM! It’s Friday!
As it’s been a busy week, let your hair down and have a few drinks in the sun this evening. BBQ over the weekend and maybe have a cheeky take-away in front of the tv tomorrow.
That’s cool but remember that your body doesn’t know it is a weekend, or even that a ‘week end’ exists.
All it knows is that extra calories are coming in and it has to deal with it.
So lets not eat like a twat.
If you are on a diet and have stuck to a rigid structure throughout the week, don’t go bonkers at the weekend as all your hard work will go straight out the window!
By this I mean, if you are working at a calorie deficit throughout the week, don’t then have a huge surplus at the weekend, as all that hard work and sacrifice will go to waste!
My 2 pennies’ worth, have a few bits that you wouldn’t have during the week and enjoy yourself.
Don’t go overboard as you still have a goal in mind.
The bigger your goal and depending on your time frame, have your luxuries to scale that. Most of all, be happy, smile and look out for one another.
Oh and enjoy your weekend 😉
Motivation is such a big part of every gym goers life. Whether it be summoning the motivation to even go to the gym in the first place or to do your absolute best when you’re there.
Motivation comes in many forms too, music is a big one for a lot of people, but it could be something like not letting your training partner down.
This is just one of many uses a training partner has!
I personally prefer training with a partner as I get an extra little push when I feel like I am fatiguing.
I also rely heavily on them to help me with safety and spotting. It’s not just what you get from the session which is why I like having a training partner, it’s the banter too bro
I much prefer to have a laugh when I’m in the gym rather than keeping myself isolated from interaction.
Don’t get me wrong, I work fucking hard (and I make sure my partner does too) but there is something to be said for enjoying a workout too, rather than just grinding your way through it everyday!
When you step back and look at it, this is one of the reasons Personal Trainers even exist!
Sometimes people just want to have someone with them when they are training to make sure they are heading in the right direction.
Of course there are a lot of benefits to having me as a personal trainer...
The good looks,
I bring 10 years of knowledge which you would otherwise be left to trawl the internet for hours and still not get a concrete answer, I make sure you are performing the correct movements (safely) and motivate you as you go along, but I can also be your training partner.
Whichever way you cut it, your training partner should be there for you come rain or shine, have your best interest at heart and make sure you get the most out of each session… sound familiar?
Let me know whether you prefer to train with a partner or on your own 🙂
If you are interested in training with a friend give me a shout, you can make some big savings too!
Finding the time to stay fit and healthy when you’re a busy mum can be difficult as demands from the children can make it almost impossible. Use these following tips to help you live a healthy lifestyle around your family.
1. Block out a preferred time to exercise. If you have an appointment you will be more likely to adhere to your plan.
2. You don’t have to join a gym to exercise. Your living room, garden or local park can be the perfect locations. Walking and taking the stairs when possible can be great calorie burners.
3. If you are time restricted, use full body exercises which will work more muscle groups in a shorter amount of time; A quick, simple programme you could follow would look like this:
4 sets of 15 reps of each exercise. Take 1 min rest between each set.
A1 - Squats
A2 - Lunges
A3 - Press ups
A4 - Banded rows
A5 - 45 seconds mountain climbers
A6 - 1min front plank
A7 - 30 second side plank each side
1. Include your children while you workout, it’s a great way of keeping your children active too!
2. Surround yourself with a network of mums and like-minded individuals. Having that support around you will make your fitness journey even more motivating
3. When it comes to nutrition, preparation is key. Take some time out once/twice a week to mass cook some healthy meals. Throw a load of mixed veg into a pan with some lean protein e.g. chicken or turkey and separate into bags for freezing. That way you have healthy meals ready to go.
4. Try not to pick at your children’s meals as these extra calories can add up very quickly and hinder your goals. Have your own healthy snacks readily available.
5. Use an app like MyFitnessPal which will help you track your calorie or food intake.
6. Adherence is key! Stick to a nutrition plan and exercise routine that is sustainable and enjoyable.
1) Do full body workouts
Workouts should focus on compound exercises that work as many muscle groups as possible. This leads to a better anabolic hormonal response to training, meaning greater testosterone release, ultimately meaning more muscle. Full body workouts also result in greater energy expenditure per workout.
2) Remember, you can’t out exercise a bad diet!
The foods you eat are going to have the biggest impact on you reaching your training goals. Eat real foods and focus on getting plenty of veggies and fruit onto your plate!
3) Keep it simple
Don’t over complicate training whether its weights or cardio, focus on quality work over quantity.
4) Perform maintenance on your body
Make foam rolling, mobility drills and stretching part of your routine. These will enhance performance, help prevent injury and make your body feel great.
5) Use weights to improve cardio and burn fat
Perform density-style circuits to improve work capacity, build muscle and torch body fat. Pick an exercise for each of the following movements; lower body, upper push, upper pull and core. Complete as many rounds as you can within 15 minutes working in the 8-12 rep range. This is a great way to train when time is short.
6) Find a training partner
Training partners will help push you harder and add an element of competition to workouts. Being accountable to a friend will improve adherence to any training programme.
7) Develop a pre-bed routine (I don't mean masterbating)
A lot is made of the number of hours you should sleep each night, but most importantly is ensuring the sleep you do get is good quality. Creating a pre-bed routine that involves habits such as reading, taking a hot bath, dimming the lights and including crabs in your evening meal all help to ensure a restful slumber.
I am going to try and keep this short and sweet, which I am awful at – here it goes.
If you want to lose some body fat, here are some very simple rules you will want to abide by, I will give you a little insight into them without going into too much detail. For more answers or expansion on any questions please just email me at email@example.com and I will get back to you asap!
1. Accept the fact you’re consuming too many calories. When you earn more than you spend you will gain negative weight, its that simple, do not argue with the laws of thermodynamics.
2. Look into what you’re eating and point out the foods that are causing an issue, if you’re not sure then get someone to help – like a PT. (plug)
3. Eat less carbs. Now this does not mean NO CARB, I see you lot all moving your carb intake from 70% to 7% and fluctuating, I never said LOW carb I just said less. Carbs have one job and one job only in the body… energy. Use it or store it, that simple, yes really.
4. Eat more protein. ‘But Andrew I do not want to be bulky’. *sigh*.
Listen, theres 50 blokes in free weights doing whatever they can trying to bulk on muscle mass with 4 shakes a day and more protein bars than you could shake a stick at – they are still failing at putting on muscle…So trust me on this one, upping your protein intake by 20-40% will have no side effects apart from enabling you to sustain a leaner physique and generally looking and feeling better. Like I said, trust me on this one.
5. Move more, this can be as simple as parking a bit further away from the supermarket. I see people cramming their cars as close to the gym entrance as possible to avoid walking another 11.5 steps to the door. Stop it.
6. Lift weights, heavy ones too (if possible). I have been using weight training to improve male and female physiques for a while and still going strong. Besides training your physique will put you in good stead for when you do lose the fat. Your cardiovascular ability will rarely get you laid, yep I said it.
7. Plan what you’re doing. It does not have to be complex but at least have some direction and perhaps a goal and timeframe to ensure you’re on target, or not on target but still have a plan.
8. If it's not working, change it.
“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
I hear Einstein said that, I am pretty sure I have said it more though. I ‘walk the floor’ whenever I want new clients and I am afraid I target the slaves to cardio machines. Oh, you’re using steady state cardio for fat loss along side no nutritional change? How is that going? How long have you been doing this for? People have sometimes invested months of time into a training program and seen NO RESULTS. Change it up, mix it up, or get help using a PT. (plug ;)
9. More is not always better. I had a client last year, fat loss was halted over a period of 2 weeks. I asked for a food log and actually saw calories were near the lowest I had seen them in the last 2-3 months and asked about personal life. Huge amounts of stress with work amongst other things and still hitting the gym 5 times a week. I got this client to drop 2 sessions a week and replace them with a pretty big meal. Guess what? Fat loss the next week.
10. Stop eating (as much) rubbish
It will creep in everyones diet, anyone who tells you they eat clean 100% of the time is either full of shit or has an eating disorder bigger than yours (if you have one, most of us do.) Just try and eat less and replace it with food that has a PURPOSE.
Wrapping it up here but if I had to summarise in 30 seconds the best fat loss strategy. It would be down to consistency – do what you know you need to do, but be very patient and more consistent.
Have a great day!
I mean its a silly question, really.
I know yeah, a few of you may have jobs you don’t like but training should be something you WANT to do.
I personally think that if you don’t enjoy your job you should go do something you want to but that’s digressing from the point of this post.
Training needs to be enjoyable for one main reason.
That’s another reason why I am ‘pro weights & anti-cardio’, the better you become or ‘fitter’ you become the more you have to do…
Even if you LOVE running, 6.5 hours of it isn’t really going to be a barrel of laughs.
Nor good for your joints.
So whys sustainability so important?
Well, look at your last diet.
Its your last diet and no longer your current for a reason because it wasn’t sustainable.
Juice+ this, herbashit, IIFYM and all that.
Find something you can do.
Find something that you can enjoy.
Find something that you can see yourself doing until the day you have to trade it in for a Zimmer frame.
Otherwise don’t bother doing it at all.
Sustainability is the most important thing in this game.
Even more important that meal prep snapchats.
This is why I’ve created an online platform with every single piece of know how you will need for a successful transformation. There are also a huge variety of workouts to choose from too!
61.7% of people in the uk are over weight or obese
The health problems we now face in the uk are staggering.
Yet we often fail to do something about it until it's too late.
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Heart disease & strokes
Fatty liver disease
Here's some reasons you can't lose weight
1. You don’t track calories
2. You don’t walk 10,000 plus steps per day
3. You don’t lift weights
4. You don’t do the right intensity
5. You have no willingness to try
6. Your rest between sets are far to long
7. You think you want it enough but you actually don't
8. You are just fucking lazy
9. You get up late
10. You don’t get enough sleep
11. You give up when things get tough
12. You always make excuses
13. You don’t drink enough water
14. You don’t hold yourself accountable
15. You know what to do but you don’t do it
16. It’s always someone else’s fault
17. You have no routine
18. No consistency
19. You don’t set small weekly achievable goals
20. You lie to yourself
21. You haven’t established the main reason you gained weight in the first place
22. Your too busy
23. Healthy food is too expensive
24. You don’t have time to cook
25. You didn’t plan your day out
26. You ‘fell off the wagon’
27. You have a ‘slow metabolism’
28. You refuse help
29. You haven't joined my fantastic team
Quite often I find that female clients can be hesitant to pick up the barbell, this also goes for males often too!
Let alone getting them to train for strength.
Why are some females so scared by the concept?
For most its the preconceived conception that they will pick up a heavy weight and in the morning be the female Hulk.
This is bullshit.
Before we head into things, what are the benefits of strength training for women?
The biggest benefit...
Greater rate of fat loss!
Your rate of oxygen consumption post training is increased, and the more oxygen you are consuming, the more you are burning. This is known as Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
Not to mention other factors such as curves, greater calorie expenditure, better quality sleep, increased energy and a better sex life.
Did you know;
▪ Women require less rest between sets.
▪ Women can train heavier more frequently than men.
▪ Women can do sets of 5 closer to their 1 Rep Max (1RM) than men.
I have listed some simple tips for you to start strength training.
1. Build yourself up slowly.
2. Start off with small, bodyweight movements covering basic movement patters (eg bodyweight squat, press ups, assisted pulls ups and so on).
From here you can then start to transition them into resistance machines and free weights.
It’s often not until you can physically see progress that you will become less hesitant to try new things.
Build your strength and confidence before throwing yourself in the deep end of the free weights area.
3. Use self motivation.
Motivate I hear you say? I am referring to the Self Determination Theory (SDT).
This simply put is everyone has the desire to feel involved or “be in the know” and have some form of structure that they have control of.
This theory concerns with human motivation, personality and optimal functioning. Rather than just the amount of motivation, self-determination theory focuses on different types of motivation.
4. So how do I apply this? Let’s say you’re about to take yourself through a back workout, and you hate training back.
If you really don’t want to do it, take control over that session, chose the destiny of the day.
Chose one of the exercises, give yourself an option (“OK so i can either do a barbell bent over row, or a deadlift”).
This gives you a feeling of ownership and comfort. You have chosen the exercise whether you like either option or not, you still in your mind have that feeling of control.
5. For those of you training with me you have alternative exercises to chose from. This is one of the great benefits of my training app.
6. Always let me know how you get on. I can see all of your logged workouts on my app so you’re in good hands.
I can see whether you’re doing something correct, or perhaps better than previously.
7. Make yourself familiar with a barbell.
8. As you progress you can slowly start to introduce the smith machine and barbell.
9. Remind yourself that utilising free weights will help you to increase your energy expenditure during and after training.
Perhaps even check out your favourite fitness athlete training with free weights. Start off with the barbell, this doesn’t require as much stabilisation as dumbbells and is used in most compound lifts.
10. Introduce the basic compound lifts (Squat, Deadlift, Shoulder press and Bench press).
11. Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it simple and easy to follow.
So there we have it, we will slowly break the misconceptions of females and weightlifting and help bring more strong women into the fitness industry.
It won’t be easy, some will jump into it straight away like a fish in water and others will struggle, but that’s what I am here for.
Give me a shout.
I'm going to try and make this really simple for you.
TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is the total amount of calories you burn in the entire day, this could include, sleeping, eating, training, general moving around.
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is how many calories you would burn without getting out of bed, for example your braining ticking over in your head will burn around 700 calories.
TEF (Thermal effect of feeding) this is how many calories your body will burn whilst consuming and processing food. Your TEF will increase with a high protein diet.
EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the amount of calories you burn in a gym.
Now your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is a big component and is everything you do outside of a gym. For example, taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking rather than taking the car.
Studies show that those who increase their NEAT have far superior fat loss results than those who just go to the gym everyday. Do Not neglect your NEAT, it is the golden ticket to results.
Sugar cravings are when presented with a choice of foods, we chose the ones which are sugary, not always the ones we should.
Why is this?
Poor willpower? Usually not!
OK firstly you need to understand something called HOMEOSTASIS
It means the body is always in a state of balance:
- You get too hot, you sweat and cool down.
-You get too cold, you shiver and warm up.
This happens all over the body in much more complicated circumstances.
All foods have a different affect on our blood sugar level, this is the amount of sugar in the blood, it circulates around the body.
Some foods elevate our blood sugar fast. (High Glycemic Index G.I)
Some foods elevate our blood sugar slow. (Low GI)
You have probably heard you should eat carbs low in GI.
Most “whole” foods are of low GI.
Many processed foods are high GI.
Sugar is like cocaine to the bloodstream, it elevates it incredibly fast.
Its breakfast time, you fancy some corn flakes with a bit of sugar and skimmed milk.
That is a lot of sugar.
Sugar content enters the blood stream quickly and causes your blood sugar level to rise very fast.
The bodies response is to secret insulin, in an almost unnatural manner, its going ape shit to control it in most cases as it needs to bring your blood sugar down.
(If blood sugar goes too high you can lose a foot, eyesight etc. from lack of circulation. These are the dangers to diabetics from being hyperglycemic (high blood sugar).)
So in most cases in non slim people (politically correct haha) do not secrete the right amount of insulin for how much sugar is in the blood, besides you went a little ape shit to control all that sugar so chances are you have driven your blood sugar down too fast and too much.
So – its now about an hour after your breakfast and you’re feeling sluggish.
Insulin makes you sluggish.
You’re feeling tired and reaching for a cup of coffee, you have brain fog.
This is probably the low blood sugar, now…
Your bodies evolutionary response kicks in…
RAISE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR TO OPTIMUM LEVELS
It sends you a signal, eat something that will raise it.
Now you have your willpower vs an evolutionary response.
Usually you can guess who wins…
So how can you avoid this?
Eat less foods that elevate blood sugar.
THIS is why we want to avoid sugar, not because ‘it makes us fat’ but…
Because it kicks off a huge chain of high and low blood sugar, false hunger and shit food choices.
Which usually messes up your diet for the day… Which I am sure you will start again tomorrow…
This is why I am such a big advocate of avoiding carbs in the first part of the day during breakfast.
ALSO – You are more sensitive to insulin first thing in the morning, where it can do more bad than good.
It's not just all poor will power after all, just poor food choices that lead to poorer food choices.
There are four hormones that are critical to the success of your weight loss program. Cortisol, insulin, thyroid, and the sex hormones (testosterone in men, and progesterone in women). When kept in balance, these hormones have the largest effect on metabolism. When out of balance, they can prevent you from achieving the fitness results you desire.
Hormones could probably be one of the contributing reasons why you oftentimes don’t see continued results. Increasing caloric expenditure while decreasing caloric intake is a tried and true method for achieving weight loss, but many times that foolproof system fails.
Cortisol is a glucocorticoid produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress. Mental stress (work), emotional stress (divorce), physical stress (exercise), or environmental stress (toxins) are all forms of stress that cause your body to increase the production of cortisol.
When cortisol levels increase, it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, aka the “fight or flight” system. This activation tells your body you are in some form of imminent danger and it immediately increases your blood pressure, elevates your heart rate, and releases glucose into the blood stream from your liver. If this happens for an extended period, it will start to affect other hormones and wreak havoc on your metabolism.
Some of the more important symptoms of elevated cortisol include increased insulin resistance, reduced production of thyroid stimulating hormone, blockage of T4 to T3 (thyroid), and depression of testosterone production in men and progesterone production in women2. Left unchecked, chronically elevated cortisol creates an internal environment that becomes very difficult to allow for weight loss.
How exercise can improve cortisol balance:
High intensity exercise done when cortisol levels are elevated above healthy ranges can add more stress to an already stressed system. If you think you may be in a state of chronically, or acutely, elevate cortisol, reducing the intensity of the training will not further increase cortisol. Reducing intensity helps the body to recover sooner, lowering cortisol.
Insulin is produced in the beta cells of the pancreas in response to elevated glucose levels in the blood. In small doses, insulin is very anabolic, but when insulin is secreted over long periods of time, such as when someone is in a state of insulin resistance, then the metabolism does some interesting things.
First, since the muscles are not getting fed, they signal the brain telling it you are hungry, especially for sugar since it is the fastest thing to bring energy levels up. Next it increases inflammation systemically which then increases cortisol. Lastly, when glucose levels rise, your body tries really hard to do anything it can to lower it so it shifts fuel utilization away from fat-burning to carb-burning. Bye-bye fat loss.
How exercise can positively affect insulin:
Since insulin balance and blood glucose regulation go hand-in-hand, and elevated blood glucose has been shown to slow down fat utilization4, maintaining a healthy insulin balance is important for the metabolism. High intensity interval training has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. However, if cortisol is also suspected as being elevated, HIIT can also increase cortisol, worsening insulin resistance. A proper balance of 1-2 HIIT sessions per week, mixed with lower intensity, and recovery-based activities is a good way to start to positively affect insulin sensitivity, while allowing for long periods of recovery between bouts.
Thyroid hormone is the main metabolic hormone in the body. It is produced by the thyroid gland, located in the throat, in response to thyroid stimulating hormone that comes from the pituitary gland. However, the initial hormone produced by the thyroid, thyroxine4 (T4), is metabolically inactive. It must be converted into T3 in order to affect your metabolism. As previously stated, elevated cortisol can inhibit this conversion.
Many people that have been “diagnosed” with hypothyroid have a functioning thyroid, but their T3 level are low due to other factors. While many doctors will quickly prescribe synthetic thyroid drugs, it is important to identify what could be causing these decreased levels.
How exercise can improve thyroid balance:
Exercise intensity, especially in terms of cardiovascular exercise, has a profound effect on the thyroid hormones. A study on exercise intensity and thyroid hormone levels found that at anaerobic threshold (~70% of MHR) all thyroid hormones were improved from baseline. As intensity continued to increased, TSH also continued to rise.
Testosterone and progesterone are the two main hormones in males and females, respectively. In males, if testosterone levels fall, it causes a loss of energy, limited ability to build and maintain muscle mass, and a loss in libido. In women, lowered progesterone production causes an imbalance in the oestrogen to progesterone ratio resulting in irregular menstrual cycles, an increased risk for PCOS, pre-menopausal symptoms, and an increase of fat storage around the hips and triceps.
Ironically, elevated cortisol (i.e., chronic stress) can lower both testosterone and progesterone production through a phenomenon known as pregnenolone steal. In addition, there are several other causes to lowered sex hormones, including pesticides, xeno-estrogens, and nutrient deficiencies.
How exercise affects sex hormones:
High intensity resistance training has been shown to have the most beneficial effect on testosterone in men, and cardio training and resistance training at a moderate intensity has shown similar results on the sex hormones in women.
We all know leading up to Christmas is a time where we find it hard to resist the temptations of over-indulging, often leading to feelings of guilt, anger and disappointment if we lose the battle of the bulge. So what do many of us do?
We resolve to kick-start the New Year with a plan to trim that added weight. Unfortunately, this act of conceding to the Christmas festivities and waiting until the New Year (termed Waiting List Effect) is nothing short of an excuse to avoid some simple mindful efforts. Efforts we could easily implement to help curb our excesses or weight gain. More importantly, by implementing some mindful strategies, especially this time of the year, we can avoid the discomfort associated with allowing ourselves to fall so far into despair where regaining our true form seems almost impossible, rather than possible or even probable. Consider implementing some of these simple ideas that require only a modest amount of effort and notice the results for yourself!
Self-Awareness: Hunger versus Appetite
Increasing self-awareness of undesirable behaviours (i.e., making us more consciously aware of our actions) can help progress our well-meaning intentions into a formal plan. However, if there is not a means for execution, then any plan (no matter how well-intentioned) will most likely fail.
One effective strategy for improving self-awareness is to first differentiate hunger from appetite. Appetite appears to be the root of many cases of over-eating. While key differences are presented in the following table, hunger is essentially a biological response reminding us to replenish depleted energy reserves for physiological purposes, whereas appetite is a desire or interest to eat specific foods. Appetite can be triggered by various stimuli (i.e., smell of freshly baked bread, sight of a large dessert buffet) in the absence of hunger that oftentimes results in impulsive consequences. In other words, you may eat due to your appetite even though you are not technically hungry.
Although we have some conscious awareness to various eating triggers, most influence our sub-conscious mind, frequently driving us to eat mindlessly. Researchers demonstrated this when surveying individuals who believed they only made approximately 15-food related decisions on a daily basis. These researchers determined that we actually make approximately 200 food-related daily decisions, reinforcing the notion of a sub-conscious influence (1, 2). Therefore, improving self-awareness to these stimuli offers a critical opportunity to exercise greater conscious control of eating. The fundamental idea for success is focused around awareness of the triggers in our own lives. Start with your dietary danger zones (e.g., times snacking at your desk, while driving, when bored, at social events or restaurants, etc.) and begin recording a log of any events, experiences or situations that act as a trigger (e.g., meeting with your boss, meeting your friends for happy hour). Over time, this aggregated information should reveal problematic areas that can then be addressed with a plan to control them.
Another effective strategy is to learn to recognise and manage our own hunger levels, preventing unnecessary over-eating that can lead to increased body weight. Although hunger and appetite are quite different, they are often confused when trying to lose weight. Managing and not ignoring hunger is critical to weight loss. The practice of ignoring hunger should always be avoided because it significantly slows the body’s metabolic rate, which can impair any weight loss strategy.
Use the hunger scale presented below – aim to remain within the four-to-six score range as much as possible to avoid overeating and control unnecessary snacking (3). We have numerous biological responses that work to preserve energy reserves in the body and they push us to eat when those reserves become depleted (to some extent). Allowing your hunger scale to drop below a score of “4” will increase the tendency for binge eating as the body aggressively aims to restore energy reserves. An interesting observation in the U.S. (where obesity is an issue), is that Americans tend to stop eating at a score of “7” whereas in leaner nations, individuals tend to stop eating at a score of “6”, eating less calories (1). Numerous reasons can be identified for this overeating that includes large portions sizes, our ‘clean the plate mentality’ and abundance (value) of available cheap food.
Success at changing our eating behaviours involves small initial victories that build our self-efficacy, which can in turn influence our attitudes and beliefs. Therefore, before telling clients what they should or should not eat, stop for a moment to explore whether you actually understand why certain choices are made (i.e., seek to understand before being understood). Why would you ever tell someone to eliminate a food that may be connected to some deeply rooted emotion or experience? Remember, eating is a social and experiential behaviour that needs to be fully understood before making any change. Given this logistical challenge, perhaps we should consider tackling existing eating behaviours in a simpler way; by reducing portion sizes.
Portion sizes have steadily increased by 15 – 70% over the past 40 years due to various economic, social, technological and other reasons. As portion sizes have slowly increased during this time, we have sub-consciously lost track of a standard serving size, and now consume more calories than ever before (4). Coincidently plates and cups have also become larger to accommodate bigger servings, so mini-size your plates and glasses (e.g., use side plates). Researchers using Chex Mix®served in various sized bowls found that individuals consumed 59% more calories when eating out of the larger bowls (5). Another study using 5-day old popcorn (described as tasting like Styrofoam®) also found that even with horrible-tasting food, people eating out of the larger containers consumed 53% more food (6).
By strategically mini-sizing eating utensils (using smaller plates and glasses), the perception of food eaten can be positively influenced as illustrated below. This can reduce total caloric intake. Researchers have also determined that reducing portion sizes up to 20% usually go unnoticed, whereas reducing portions sizes by up to 30% or more creates more conscious awareness to the reductions and increased perceptions of being deprived of food and choices, which can lead to
threats to change (1).