Sunday, 23 December 2012

A few tips for Happy Healthy Eating over the Christmas Period

The Bird - Most of the fat is held just under the skin of your bird. If you remove the skin before cooking you could save yourself 50kcals per portion. Pricking your bird and cooking it upside down on a trivet will also help excess fat drain away. Dark meat does contain more calories (as well as nutrients) over white meat. I personally prefer the white meat so would go for breast or crown.

Don't be tempted to coat your vegetables with butter, you could be adding another 25kcals per portion. Instead use a sprinkle of chopped herbs, chives, dill, marjoram, parsley, thyme and rosemary all go really well with hot, just out of the steamer vegetables.

Of course our Christmas lunch wouldn't be the same without the obligatory roast potatoes and roast parsnips. But did you know that by adding some sweet potato and butternut squash you'll reduce the overall GI of the meal.

Try and forget the sausages in blankets, they are a classic addition to your meal, but if you added just two to your meal, you could be taking in an additional 120 plus calories! My alternative to this is the following Sausage meat stuffing recipe that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and serves 5 - 6 people.



·         1 tsp butter

·         1 small onion, diced

·         1 eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

·         225g pork sausage meat

·         100g fresh whole meal breadcrumbs (or half white, half brown)

·         1 sprig thyme, leaves removed

·         1 pinch cinnamon

·         2 tbsp chopped parsley

·         Juice from half a lemon


Method  -  Cook the onions in the butter and soften over a low heat without colouring. Stir in the apples and continue cooking until they are just beginning to lose their shape. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Combine the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, thyme, cinnamon and parsley. Squeeze in the lemon juice and beat well for about a minute to blend everything together.

Use this stuffing to fill your turkey before roasting, or bake separately in an ovenproof dish, or roll into balls/ patties and cook on a greaseproof sheet. Bake at 180C/gas 4 for about 25 minutes and serve hot, but equally nice served cold on Boxing Day with salad and cold meats.

Lastly Christmas Pud, traditionally served with custard or double cream, instead why not serve it with a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt and save up to 50kcals.

Now just a few words on alcohol consumption, as strangely enough it increases during the Christmas period. A recent study showed Britons drink 41% more than the annual average in December. I'm not going to preach too much on this subject, apart from the following;

·        Alcohol is high in sugar - 7 calories per gram, nearly as much as fat which is 9 calories per gram. These calories are 'empty' calories and offer no nutritional value whatsoever.

·        Alcohol cannot be stored; in fact your body sees alcohol as poison. For this reason your body's priority is to get rid of it. While your body is dealing with the alcohol all other processes will be put on hold.

·         Potentially this means anything you eat for the next 8 hours will be stored in your 'fat deposit banks' to be dealt with later.

It's not all doom and gloom, moderation is key. Clear spirits such as vodka, gin and tonic, Bacardi have the least calories. Other options include wine spritzers or shandies. Or why not go mad and a have a 'mock-tail' all the benefits of a 'cock-tail' but without the alcohol. There are some gorgeous ones at I would also suggest for every alcoholic drink also have a glass of water to keep you hydrated and help flush out nasty toxins.


All that is left is to say have a Very Happy Christmas and A Sensible New Year!
Amanda :)


No Gym, no fear here's a home workout for over the Christmas period.....

Can't get to the gym, well that's not a problem, all you need is a deck of cards and away we go!  Haven't got a deck of cards I hear you say, still no problem, got paper and pen then make some! No excuses!

Allocate an exercise to each suit, for example;

Diamonds - press up's
Hearts - squats
Spades - Ab Cycling
Clubs - lunges

Shuffle your deck and pick a card, say the first card you pick is the 10 of diamonds, then bully for you that's 10 press up's.  If someone picked the 7 of Clubs do 7 lunges each leg.  Or the person that picks a card everyone would go with the same number, up to you, experiment.  As long as your working and getting a sweat on that's the object of the game.

You could also bring the Joker and the Aces in.  For example;

Joker - high intensity cardio - 1 minute mountain climbers
Ace - high intensity strength - 30 seconds each side side plank with arm held overhead

There are endless variations for the 'Deck of Cards Workout' just use your imagination when it comes to the exercises.  If you have some exercise equipment at home then by all means use them, if not body weight is the way to go. 

Imagine how you'll feel if you are able to get through the whole deck, that's 54 cards.  So what you waiting for, grab that deck and away you go!

Happy holidays!

Recipe - Prawn, Mango & Avocado Salad

A perfect light lunch or dinner that is high in essential fatty acid Omega 3, low in saturated fats but high in heart healthy cholesterol lowering monunsaturated fats and is also low in carbs, sugar and dairy free.  This would even make a lovely healthy starter before your Christmas dinner and a change from prawn cocktail!  Serves 4 to 6


2 x 175g packs of Peeled King Prawns
1 x pack of Smoked Salmon slices (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 large mango, cut into cubes
2 medium avocados, sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
A selection of green leaves such as rocket, spinach and watercress
1 small red or green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
A handful of fresh chopped coriander leaves
Black Pepper and a dash of olive oil to taste


Prepare the prawns by de-shelling and de-veining if needed. Rinse them under the tap, dry then place in a bowl and sprinkle the juice of half the lime over them.  Leave to stand while you prepare the salsa. 

Combine in a mixing bowl the mango, red onion, chilli, coriander and juice from the remaining lime.
Arrange your plates with several slices of smoked salmon (if using), top with a hanful of leaves then add a spoonful or two of the salsa.

Top this with the slices of avocado and king prawns.  A twist of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and your plates are ready to serve.

An addition especially if you love fish, would be to cook, cool then flake a salmon fillet into the salsa mix, delicious!

Enjoy, and a Very Happy Christmas to you all!

I did try and get a little arty with the balsamic glaze, you can tell I was never that good at art!  Also went a little over on the prawns and avocado, but what the heck their good for you!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Workout Tools - Resistance Bands

An essential bit of resistance kit that can be easily used at home or packed away in your suitcase for your holidays is the resistance band.  There are different varieties, some may just be a length of elastic (often latex) and some are tubing made from rubber or a synthetic material that can also have handles.  Some also come with a door attachment and wrist and ankle attachments.  So there really is no excuse for not being able to do some resistance exercise.

I have bought an assortment of bands over the years, but I have probably got the most use out of my 12 piece tubing kit from  Click the link to check out their product range.
66fit Safety TPR Exercise Tubes & DVD - 12pc Set
It has 5 different strengths of band from easy yellow, through to red, green, blue to black being the strongest.  It comes with two detachable soft grip handles and two wrist or ankle straps.  Along with the door attachment and a DVD. 

There are lots of ideas on the DVD and you can easily progress the resistance of the bands by going up a level if you feel you aren't being challenged enough.

Here's a workout routine to do at home or in the gym, making sure the band is secured around something secure of course.  Before commencing do 5 - 10 minutes mobility and warm up to prepare your joints and increase your body temperature.  Your aiming for 4 circuits of 12 - 16 reps of each exercise.  Remember to stretch afterwards. 

For the first two exercises use the door attachment on the side of your door.  For the next two exercises have the door attachment at the bottom of your door, and the last one you don't need it.

Chest Press (face away from your band)
Row (face towards your band, do the reverse of the above exercise)
Low to High Woodchop (face side on to your band, hold one handle in both of your hands and pull it diagonally across towards your outside shoulder)
Reverse Lunge to High Knee Drive (attach one of the ankle straps, strap this around your ankle.  You should be facing away from your band.  You may need to walk out a little so you have some resistance.  Start with a reverse lunge then maintain your balance and drive your knee forwards).
Shoulder Press (door attachment not needed.  Place the band under one foot, take the handles behind you, your palms should be facing forward.  Action, push both arms upwards and slightly inwards overhead.  Come back down to ears/chin level then repeat).

Sounds relatively easy, but bands can be quite deceptive, give this a shot and let me know your thoughts.

Till next time, all the best


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Legs & Lungs Workout in the Gym (2)

When the weather is cold and miserable you may not feel like heading to the gym, but if you could get in and out in the shortest time possible, hit all your major muscle groups, and get out of your comfort zone so the trip was worth it, you'd go wouldn't you?  Well I'm hoping you would anyway! 

That's where my 'Legs & Lungs' workouts come in.  My first one utilised both the kettlebell (you'll need instruction if  you haven't used them before) and the rower.  Click on the link  to view this one.

This workout, again utilises just two exercises, one is a Farmers Walk and the other is 20 - 45 second sprint intervals on the treadmill.  Let's explain them both in a little more detail.

The Farmers Walk is a very simple yet challenging exercise.  It consists of you carrying a heavy weight in the form of dumbbells or kettlebells for a set distance.  Traditionally the weight you were carrying would be equal to your weight, but if you have never done this exercise before, I'd go with a light to moderate weight.  And as we are doing multiple sets I'd definitely pace myself!

This is not your typical gym exercise, and apart from me and sometimes my clients I very rarely see it used sadly. You'll use numerous muscles during the Farmers Walk, namely your shoulders, traps and lats in your upper body.  Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves in your lower body, as well as your core muscles.  By using the Farmers Walk you'll also improve your strength especially in your forearms and grip, just in time for lugging around numerous heavy bags of Christmas shopping!

How to Farmers Walk
  • Deadlift the dumbbells or kettlebells from the floor or off the weights rack safely.
  • Hold the weights at arms length by your sides.
  • Stand up nice and tall.  Make sure your not hunched up around your shoulders, pull your shoulder blades back and down.  Brace your abdominals, chest slightly elevated and off you go. 
  • If you can walk for a set distance around the perimeter of your gym for example while counting out the paces with a warm up weight this will give you an idea of your distance for the proper workout.  To give you an idea I do 4 circuits of 35 paces with the 20kg weights (which is around 16kg short of my weight).
Complement the Farmers Walk with sprint intervals on the treadmill.  Now anyone that knows me knows I'm not really a fan of long slow distances on the treadmill (unless marathon training for example).  For that metabolic after burn conditioning effect and shear accomplishment, short sharpe bursts is what is needed.  I've suggested 20 - 45 seconds as a guide.  You'll know your limitations and fitness levels.  All I ask is that you are out of your comfort zone, you should be breathing a little harder during these bursts.  You can try using an RPE scale here, this is you rating your effort of work.  If 1 out of 10 is a walk in the park, dead easy and 10 out of 10 is your maximum effort and can't give anymore.  You'd be looking around 7 and a half to 8 and a half to 9 out of 10 for an advanced user.  Experiment and adjust your speed to get you around these numbers during these intervals. 

So for this workout your aiming for 5 circuits of each alternating exercise.  You may want to time yourself for this workout and try to better it on your next visit.  You can also progress your weights with the Farmers Walk and speeds on the Treadmill to increase intensity and keep motivated and challenged!

Of course goes without saying, but before you begin do a minimum of 5 minutes warm up and mobility, then finish with some static stretches on the muscles you've used.

Give it a go and let me know your results :)
Till next time, all the best


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Warm & Hearty Home Made Very Easy Tomato Soup

As the weather is cold and miserable, what's better than to tuck into a warm and hearty bowl of soup that you made yourself.  I've also made the soup a little more filling by adding couscous, which is a medium GI grain.  This soup would work any time, but this time I had it post workout so I allowed myself a tear of Olive Bread and a tomato and mixed leaves salad as my sides.

The soup was dead easy, my ingredients were as follows:

1 medium onion, chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 packet (390g) of Tomato & Basil Passata
5 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 beef stock cube
dash of Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
450ml water
1 portion of couscous
Seasoning to taste


Cook the garlic and onion until just starting to colour. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the Passata, stock cube, water a little at a time, seasoning and dash of Worcestershire Sauce if using.  Turn down the heat and cook on low for a further 10 - 15 minutes, stirring periodically.  Make up the couscous as per the manufacturers instructions until fluffy then add to the soup.  Cook through for another 5 minutes, taste and add more seasoning if needed.

After cooking, either put in a food processor and blend or use a hand held blender (carefully, don't get it up your kitchen tiles, like I initially did!) Continue blending until you are happy with your consistency.

The above amounts made loads, got 5 bowls of soup out plus two portions that went in the freezer.

Enjoy, till next time.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Cheat Meal for weight loss.......

Now we were always told not to cheat, but when it comes to weight loss a 'cheat meal' once a week could actually help re balance everything and aid weight loss.  Please note that I've said 'cheat meal' that doesn't mean a whole day of cheat meals, just have the one and only once a week.  Also don't make this an excuse for 'an all you can eat meal' be sensible, see my suggestions below.

It often feels so wrong to give in to temptation, and how guilty do we feel if we've popped into the petrol station and given in to picking up a so easily accessible bar of chocolate on the way out, had a cheeky couple of biscuits with our elevenses, or couldn't be bothered to cook so ordered an Indian instead!  Well don't feel guilty anymore, experts are saying go ahead, give in to temptation and 'plan to cheat'. 

If someone came along and told you to never eat your favourite (naughty) foods again to lose weight (fat) would you?  Short term answer I expect not, especially if these foods had been part of your long term eating habits.  But knowing you could include your favourites in a meal once a week, even if that meal was 7 days away will keep you on the right track. 

Our body is a very clever machine and aims to keep us in a state of equal balance or 'homeostasis'.
Most of the time your body is doing what it should be doing to keep you well and functioning.  Although during fad diets your body is thrown into a state of confusion and one very important fat burning hormone 'leptin' decreases dramatically.  Your body is going to start conserving its fat stores as it thinks famine is just around the corner.  So that's where are once a week cheat meal is put in place to increase leptin levels and bump start the fat burning process again.  And the bonus news is that apparently carbs send a rise in leptin levels more than any other food group. 

Well there you go, who'd of thought that!

Rules of your Cheat Meal

  • Drink a glass of water 10 minutes before your cheat meal to stop you from over doing it.
  • If your cheat meal is in the evening, then leave a minimum of 5 hours before bedtime so the food doesn't lay on your stomach.
  • Never have 2 cheat meals in a week.  You don't want to sabotage your weight loss results just give them a helping hand :)

When I was thinking of meal idea's the first one that sprung to mind was a pizza.  Yum pizza, who doesn't love a pizza.  You could buy a shop bought one, or make your own.  Just buy a pizza base from your local supermarket, tomato sauce or passata for its base and whatever you want to put on it.  Tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese, avocado, meat, chicken, fish, veg, the list is endless.  Secondly a spaghetti bolognese or lasagna dish with a salad on the side and garlic bread (not the whole one!).  Thirdly, fish and chips from the chippy! A slice of lemon drizzle cake with a hot chocolate!  And lastly a big ole (but within reason) Sunday roast beef, yorkshire pud and all the trimmings! 

My mouth is watering as I'm typing this blog!  But as its Thursday today, a sensible clean eating day, I'm just about to have a fruit bowl followed my favourite lunch of poached eggs, avocado, tomatoes and toast.  This will be my main meal of the day, as I'm off to work shortly for my graveyard shift 2 - 10pm.  No cooking facilities so will have a shake with some fruit and nuts to see me through. 

So now you know you really can have your cake and eat it (and still lose fat)!!

What's your favourite cheat meal, leave me a comment.

Till next time, all the best

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Good, the Bad & Ugly World of Carbs........

Carbohydrates, the word that can instill fear into anyone, particularly if you are loosing or trying to maintain your weight.  But it need not be the case, carbohydrates can be your friend (ah friend, you'll get that if your an Inbetweeners fan, sorry if you do not get it, I'll move on swiftly!!). 

Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred and easily obtained source of energy in the form of glucose.  Not only are they essential for energy but our brain, heart and nervous system need a constant supply of carbohydrate in order to function properly.

All carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  They vary in size, structure and the speed to which they are broken down into sugar (glucose) and absorbed into the bloodstream.  From here they can be distributed to cells and muscles for immediate use, or stored as glycogen in the muscles or liver as an energy reserve or and not ideal be stored in your 'fat banks'.

The key is to eat low to medium Gi carbohydrates which release their sugar slowly into the bloodstream rather than refined over processed carbs that release their sugar quickly causing an energy peak and spike in insulin levels, followed by a crash then an urge for more sugar! 

Make carbs work for you by applying the following rules:

  1. Get the majority of your carbs either at breakfast or lunch time, they'll fuel your activity in the afternoon.
  2. Match your intake of carbs to how active you are, on sedentary days eat less carbs, on active days eat more carbs especially pre and post workout.
  3. Eat carbs and protein together.  The protein will help slow down the overall digestion process and avoid an insulin spike.
  4. Avoid refined processed carbs and eat more fibre rich carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds.
  5. Watch your portion size, as a rough guide use one cupped hand for a portion of fruit, starches and grains for women, and two cupped hands for men.  For vegetables use a fist sized portion.
Carbs are also paramount to fat loss (I hear you doubters but yes they really are!) especially in the form of a cheat meal, but more on this on a blog to come soon.

So as you can see, carbs need not be the enemy, just be sensible.

Till next time,


Thursday, 15 November 2012


It's finally here, my take on an indoor Boot Camp, without the inclement weather, endless press ups, running around fields and brutally be shouted at by a drill sergeant!

This class is also just for girls, come and join a like minded group all wanting the same thing, to be fierce, fit and fabulous!

The Spare Tyre Fitness Workout is based on circuit style intervals ranging from 30 seconds to 1 minute using an array of fitness equipment such as kettlebells, sledgehammers, tyre flipping, suspension trainers, ladders and more.  The equipment may not be typical of what you would find in many gyms, that's why this class is a must especially if you do the same old routine. 

Think out of the box and live a little!

This class is based on functional movement patterns, it is low impact and suitable for most abilities (although high blood pressure and CHD may be contra-indication's, if you are unsure please get in touch). 

From participating you will also receive the following benefits:
  • Fire up your metabolism to boost long term fat burning.
  • Burn fat while building muscle.
  • Build strength and power.
  • You'll reduce your risk of injury as your body will move more efficiently.
  • You'll save yourself a lot of time, one of these workouts will burn more calories than two long slow cardio gym workouts!
  • You'll leave feeling exhilarated, strong, empowered and excited for the next session!

So where, when and how much is it?

Where - Warnham Health & Fitness, 16 - 18 Church Street, Warnham RH12 3QW (just 3 minutes from Tesco, Broadbridge Heath)

When - Sunday's at 11am.  How much?  Just £6 per hour session.

So now you have a good reason to come to the gym on a Sunday morning, plus you can have a couple of extra roast potatoes with your Sunday lunch :)

So if you want to be fierce, fit and fabulous I'll see you there.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Functional Medicine Ball Workout

As promised here it is, a medicine ball workout that can be performed in the gym, at home or outdoors (in fact if you have laminate floors you may want to take the ball outdoors especially for the slams).

Make sure you are prepared by completing 5 - 10 minutes mobility and a warm up (see my blog Stability Ball Workout dated 30th July) for ideas on joint mobility.  Have some water close by and rest as and when needed.  When I mention 'core switched on' I mean being aware of the muscles around your torso and lower back.  Think of gently pulling your belly button back towards your spine and sending your ribs down towards your pelvis.  Sounds complicated but if you imagine someone is about to punch you in the stomach, breathe out and brace or tense your abdominals. You should feel a contraction or a shortening / tensing around your middle. (Keep posted as I want to do a blog on getting in touch with your deep core muscles soon).

Medicine Ball Overhead Slam

An all round exercise that gets all muscles both upper and lower including heart and lungs.  And its functional because it includes both flexion and extension of the knees and hips (which is what we do when we sit and stand).  Start position, feet hip to shoulder width apart, core switched on.  Hold the ball overhead (if this is difficult you can hold the ball somewhere between shoulder and head height).  Take a breath in to prepare then expel the air as you slam the ball down with as much force as you can before catching it in both hands and repeating. Remember the lighter the ball the quicker and higher its going to come back up so I would suggest a weight 4kg or more.  But experiment and find what works best for you.  Teaching points - as you slam the ball down keep your knees soft with a slight bend in them to counter balance the force of the ball.  Try and keep the ball quite close to you, not so close that it hits you in the face nor to far away that you have to over reach.  Progressions, use a heavier ball or longer duration sets.

Try a 20 - 30 seconds round repeated 4 times.

Medicine Ball Standing Twist

Now adding in some twisting and a balance challenge. This exercise will promote core strength, hip and back mobility and a greater range of movement in this area.  It also works the obliques, butt and legs.  Start position, feet shoulder width apart, core switched on.  Hold the med ball at chest height, elbows at your sides.  As you twist the ball to your right simultaneously raise your right knee. 
Do 8 - 10 reps this side then swap sides, twisting to the left while raising your left knee.  Repeat 2 more rounds.  Teaching points - use your range of movement, especially if you sit a lot such as in the car or at work.  We tend to do a lot of things front and back and not so much twisting, although I believe it's important to do some twisting and rotational movements for a healthy spine.  Progressions would be to increase your speed as confidence grows and/or use a heavier ball.

Medicine Ball Throws

A little more pushing type exercise that will test your hand to eye co-ordination and cardio fitness.  Throws can be done with a partner, throw both underhand, overhand or push the ball with as much force as you can at chest height to each other.  You could also work the legs a little more by adding in a squat to push overhead, you may need some distance between you for this. 

If you do not have a partner but have a wall then try throwing the ball at the wall, again you can throw at chest height, overhand, underhand or side on so your adding a little rotation into the exercise.  Teaching points - core engaged, try and soften the knees when catching the ball.  Keep an eye on the ball, if tired rest, you don't want to end up with a black eye!

Try 20 - 30 seconds each exercise with a 10 second rest in between exercises.

Squat with a Medicine Ball Bear Hug

Squatting, yes we do it a lot, hate to think just how much of our lives is seated, heck of a lot I reckon.  And all that sitting around can sometimes hinder the way we perform the squat correctly.  You could say I'm in a squat position while I'm seated and typing this blog for you.  But not for long as I've got pilates and spinning later :)

But I am an advocate of the 'squat' it's one of my favourite exercises to do, and even more so when we add some weight to it like a dumbbell, kettlebell or in this case the medicine ball.  Start position, feet hip to shoulder width apart, core switched on.  Cross your arms and hug the medicine ball to your chest, now push your hips and butt slightly out behind you like your about to sit in a chair.  Go down as far as you comfortably can go, try and keep the weight down through the back of your heels. At the bottom of the movement, breathe out and stand quickly pushing your hips forward and squeezing your butt.  Repeat 12 - 20 reps 2 - 4 rounds.  Teaching points - as I've said only go as low as you can comfortably go, you shouldn't feel it directly at your knees.  If you do, don't go as low.  But if you are a desk jockey your knees are probably not used to going any lower than a 90 degree angle until your body gets used to it.  Pain isn't always indicative of something wrong, it may be like I've said you need to try these things. 

If you are unsure please get a qualified instructor like me to check your technique first!

So there you have it four exercises that put your body through a functional range of movement while also working your cardiovascular system.  Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Till next time, all the best


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Workout Tools - Medicine Balls

Whether your training for a specific sport or looking for something to use when coming back from injury or a tool for general fitness the 'medicine ball' is a great bit of kit to have in your repertoire.

Typical 1 - 5kg medicine balls
on a stand.

The medicine ball is a weighted multi purpose, take any where tool that can be used alone or with a partner.

Medicine balls come in different weights anything from 1kg to 10kg.   You can also find medicine balls with one or two handles moulded into them.  These types are great for rehab purposes or the elderly or infirm.  Then at the other end of the scale for hard core 'med ballers' we have the 'tornado' ball.  This is a medicine ball with a length of rope running through it.  Here you can rotate the ball around your head (a little like a lasso) or slam it on the ground or on a wall.  Plus there are other weird and wonderful ball varieties out there which I may well buy and use, but for the moment lets back to the med balls.

By using medicine balls you'll increase your flexibility, functional movement, co-ordination, core strength, reaction times, and overall strength and cardio-vascular fitness.  While all these elements are important I want to focus on functional movement a little more.  Functional movements are similar to movements we do in every day activities such as bending and extending (eg. sit to stand), reaching, twisting, lifting and carrying, and pulling and pushing.  Obviously we want to be able to perform these functional movements with ease and confidence.

To appreciate how important these moves are, study people around you, it could be on the train, bus, at the supermarket or at the office. Notice how some may have trouble standing from a seated position, lowering themselves towards a seat, or simply tying shoe laces, picking something up from the floor, reaching for something on a high shelf, putting something in a low cupboard, carrying the shopping etc.. The list is endless, and it's because functional movement patterns have been lost through age, inactivity or injury. 

This is where the medicine ball is a very useful addition to your home kit or your gym routine.  Stay tuned for a functional medicine ball workout coming next.


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

My all time favourite lunch.............

And in glorious colour, here it is a medium organic Avocado, two soft boiled poached eggs, baked tomatoes and mixed leaves on wholemeal toast x 2.

And why is it my all time favourite lunch, well apart from being yummy, healthy and nutritious, it is well balanced and gives me nutritionally everything I need. 

Lets look at my lunch in a little more detail.

Firstly the Avocado, I love avocados (some people like my daughter hates them, I'll never know why!)  Now while they are high in fat (around 14g in half a medium sized fruit), most of that fat comes from healthy monounsaturated fat.  The most commonly known monounsaturated fat is olive oil.  These type of fats are 'heart' healthy and may help reduce your risk of stroke or heart disease as well as lowering bad or LDL cholesterol.

Avocado's are also packed with carotenoids. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated fat rich avocados helps your body absorb more carotenoids. Which is why I have it with leaves and baked tomatoes.  The tomatoes being cooked (rather than just eaten cold) so the skin just starts to split releases more lycopene.  This super little fruit is also high in fibre which of course is necessary for healthy digestive functioning as well as giving us the feeling of satiety.

I could go on more but I think you get the drift, so if you've not tried avocado's yet, be sure to add them to your next shopping list :)

Next the eggs, love poached eggs nearly as much as I love avocado's!  And as I was taking a photo I managed to do two brilliant soft and oozing poached eggs, Delia would be proud :) 

Eggs have for a long time had bad press due to the cholesterol which is found in the yolk. But the NHS now says "that cholesterol found in food has much less effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood than the amount of saturated fat that you eat".  I could argue that 'trans fats' are much more harmful to your body than saturated fats but I think I'll leave that for a later blog. 

Back to the eggs and why they are good for us.  Firstly they are high in protein and protein is essential for the functioning and development of our bodies.  See protein as our bodies foundation, it renews, repairs and maintains, we wouldn't be able to function properly without it.  And a bit like foods high in fibre, protein also has the effect of keeping us full for longer.

Eggs are also high in Vitamin A, (vision and immune system) Vitamin B2 (skin, eyes, CNS, red blood cells), Vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin, healthy bones and teeth) and Iodine (thyroid and metabolic functions). 

So again as you can see an important food for essential bodily functions, if you are worried about cholesterol just have eggs moderately.  But you'd be better off seriously looking at your overall diet, don't think giving up eggs will suddenly lower your cholesterol levels especially if the rest of it is not so good.

Lastly the bread, yes carbs.  And yes carbs are essential, they are your bodies preferred source of energy.  I will try to have my carbs in the form of bread or cereal for either breakfast or lunch or post exercise.  That way I'm able to be active and work them off rather than store them.  Except in the latter example where the carbohydrates eaten after a high intensity workout will help replenish lost muscle glycogen.  I will also try and have slow release carbohydrates that release their sugar slowley so I don't end up with constant crashing and burning! 

And the green leaves was made up of rocket, spinach and watercress.  What can I say goodness from the ground with no interferance apart from a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic!

I know your probably salivating now, so give my lunch a go, you won't regret it and just think how happy your body will be!

Till next time, all the best

Monday, 29 October 2012

Baked Cinnamon Apple Slices

A quick and healthy nutritious snack using only two ingredients, yep you've guessed it apples and cinnamon.

I used gala snack size apples cos their crunchy and sweet but any apple would do.  Simply wash and dry your apple then core it, I left the skin on.  Slice the apple, I did mine about 1cm thick.  Lay them onto a non stick baking tray and dust with cinnamon both sides, use as much as you like.  Put in the oven at 180C for 10 -12 minutes, turn once.

Baked Cinnamon Apple Slices

Eat them either hot by themselves or serve with mixed berries such as blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries or whatever is in season.  You could even add a dollop of yogurt or vanilla ice cream if you were eating it post workout!

Yum, enjoy :)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Fish Cakes Recipe

Had some great feedback from a client on these lovely homemade fish cakes so thought would share.  Enjoy, yum!
Homemade fish cakes

·         1 small onion finely chopped

·         500g fish fillets such as salmon, cod or trout

·         350ml of fish stock or white wine

·         500g mashed potato (could be half each of white potato and sweet potato)

·         2 tablespoons of parsley, tarragon or dill or a combination of all three

·         flour for dusting

·         1 beaten egg

·         Fresh breadcrumbs for coating, could be a mixture of both brown and white

·         Little coconut oil for frying


1.    Put the onion in a large frying pan, cook for a couple of minutes on a low heat. 

2.    Add the fish on top, pour over the wine or stock, bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 6 – 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.  Remove and cool.

3.    Add the onion to the mashed potato with the herbs.

4.    Flake the fish into the potato, season.  Gently mix together with floured hands and shape into 8 cakes.  Lightly dust with flour, dip in the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs.  Chill for at least 30 minutes (to help the binding process).

5.    Heat 1 cm of coconut oil in a frying pan.  Fry the fish cakes in batches for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until cooked through and golden brown.  Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm till served.  Serve with a mixed green salad and / or the easiest tomato sauce ever (see below).

Easiest tomato sauce ever;

·         garlic (as much as you like, or omit if you’re not keen),

·         1 small red onion chopped roughly

·         500ml carton of passata

·         250ml vegetable stock

·         4 / 5 small plum tomatoes roughly chopped

·         Pinch of Italian herbs

·         seasoning to taste 

Cook the onions and garlic in a saucepan with a teaspoon of coconut oil.  When onions have softened add the passata and vegetable stock.  Continue cooking on low heat on the hob.  Add the plum tomatoes, cook for a further 2 minutes, season and add Italian herbs to taste.
This sauce can be eaten hot or cold. This will store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, or up to 4 days in the fridge.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Some Tips for Happy Healthy Eating

1.    Eat Protein such as organic lean meats, topside or silverside, sirloin or filet of beef for example, poultry, chicken, turkey (everything trimmed of fat), beans, pulses and fish with at least once a week make this be an oily fish such as fresh tuna, salmon, herring or mackerel.  Soya and Tofu products are also very high in protein. 

To the protein add complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, brown rice/ pasta and fibre rich vegetables, and fruit.  Complex carbs release glucose into your bloodstream more slowly, therefore making you feel fuller for longer.  Our bodies find complex carbs harder to break down; hence you get more energy from it for longer.  Both protein and carbohydrates are essential for bodily functions.  Protein helps with the growth and repair of muscles, bones and cells in the body.  And carbohydrates are our bodies preferred energy system. 

2.    Cut down on saturated and more importantly trans fats, that is the kind we find in cakes, biscuits, baked goods, chocolates, processed foods and junk food, pastries, pies, pasties and always trim the fat off from around meat.


3.      Eat a wide variety of foods.  Your aim is to have a colourful plate of appeasing foods, rather than a bland uninteresting one.

4.      Ideally 40 % of your plate should be made up of carbohydrates, up to 30% should be protein, and up to 30% good fats.


5.      Eat breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day! 

It will start you off for the day, kick start your metabolism into gear and boost your energy too.


6.      Eat little and often.  Our stomach doesn’t like to be overloaded at any one meal.  Try and have at least 3 meals a day, breakfast, dinner and tea with a healthy snack either side of dinner and tea if possible.  Eating this way helps keep energy levels constant throughout the day.  Plus if you sporadically eat, only once or twice a day, you slow down your metabolism and the food you do eat may well be kept and stored as extra fat!  Try and trick the brain into thinking you are full by eating off a slightly smaller plate.  Take your time and chew properly, it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach receptors to tell the brain you’ve had enough. 

7.      Avoid sugar, or at least try and cut down on the amount you have.  For example, if you have 2 teaspoons of sugar with your morning coffee try and cut down to 1!  Remember sugar causes rapid energy highs, followed by energy slumps, which make you then crave more sugar or sugar loaded snacks.  Instead always make sensible nutritional choices to keep your blood sugar levels constant throughout the day.  Although that said I would prefer to have sugar (which is a natural product) over sweeteners, which is a man-made refined processed product.  As I’ve mentioned just be sensible.

8.      Also watch portion control, we tend to be a very visual, and what’s better than seeing a great big plate full of Steak and chips literally piled high on a plate!  As a general guideline a portion size is what you could fit into the palm of your hand (more detail on this subject to come).

9.      Eat fat to lose fat.  Essential good fats such as Omega 3 found in fish, oily in particular such as sardines, mackerel, trout, tuna and salmon. Omega 6 fats are found in nuts, seeds and pulses.  Other good fats include both poly and monosaturated such as olive, sunflower, vegetable and plant based oils or spreads and avocados.  These types of fats are vital for healthy bodily functions. 

10. Try not to add any extra salt when cooking or at the table. Recommendations are less than 6 grams for an adult and 4 grams or less for children per day.  If you must have your salt fix, look for a low salt or sodium alternative at the supermarket.  Also check food labels, a lot of hidden salt can be found in things such as bread, and cereals.

11. Keep hydrated.  Water is valuable and very important to our daily bodily functions and it helps cleanse are body of nasty toxins.  Try and drink as much as you can, up to 2 litres a day is perfect, more during exercise.  If you find plain water a bit of a chore, try adding a little fruit juice to make a little more appetising.  Rather this than a fizzy drink that will be loaded with sugar and chemicals.

Note on Alcohol, the experts now say, drinking moderately is actually okay.  It allows the arteries to open a little more allowing greater blood flow.  But this is NOT an excuse to drink inexcusable amounts, be careful!!  No more than 14 units for women per week or 2 per day and 21 per week or 3 per day for men.  If possible try and have a couple of ‘non alcohol’ days during the week to allow your liver to recover.

12. Obey the 80/20 rule.  This means if you can be good for 80% of the time, you may allow yourself a little treat or reward 20% of the time.

13. Make time to eat.  In this hectic lifestyle that we tend to lead inevitably we may sit down in front of the telly with a meal on our laps after a stressful day.  Try and make time to sit down at the table and enjoy a family meal together.  Take your time, enjoy your food and enjoy each other’s company.


Personal Training for Motivation

People are mostly creatures of habit; it’s simply the way the mind works. We leave so much to the autopilot inside, the one we've actually conditioned to make all our responses automatically. Personal training from a motivator can actually un-train your old worn out and inappropriate responses so that you make changes in your lifestyle to make real progress.

Motivation is probably the number 1 reason you need to make personal training a part of your weight loss solution or exercise routine.

Personal Training - Advice for Exercise Equipment

If you have been doing the same exercise routine regularly and not achieving the goals you had planned for, the chances are you may have 'plateaued'. It is very common to keep on doing the same program especially if no one has encouraged you otherwise. Your body is stale and bored; it's probably looking for a little variety. It could also be that when you started, without personal training, you lacked motivation, stayed in your comfort zone and didn't use progressive 'overload' to challenge yourself.

A Personal Trainer will ensure you use equipment with maximum effect to get maximum results; you will not have time to become bored!

Personal Training - Diet Solution

Nutrition is about 80% of the big picture. Without sensible eating habits you may as well throw in the towel before you've even started! Sounds harsh I know but bodies that are given everything they need will work at their most efficient. They'll process the foods put in faster and better. They'll give us the energy we need to move more, they'll protect us from illness, and they'll clear all the fat and crap that is clogging up our arteries so that we can effectively burn those stores of fat that are weighing us down.

It is important to know how to work with your metabolism and the correct diet solution to accelerate fat burning. A Personal Trainer will work with you to address your nutritional needs.

Personal Training - When You Hit the Wall

Any personal training advice will tell you that a lot of this is psychological in nature, when people in sight of the finishing line, "hit the wall" and lose energy, drive and sometimes even the hope of finishing the exercise routine or weight loss solution program. Motivation and drive from personal training can help you break through that wall. A personal trainer will help you build a different belief system - a "can do" attitude, rather than a "can't do" attitude. It's a lack of motivation to get started and to sustain your exercise routine and weight loss program, when you need that personal training element to succeed and actually get the results your autopilot inner being has been depriving you of.

Personal Training - Getting the Right Information

How many of you have trawled the net looking for a specific diet solution, a specific weight loss solution, an exercise routine or where to get, how to use, or what is the best piece of equipment for a particular purpose? When it comes to fitness, healthy eating and diet solutions, personal training will be able to give you the answers you are looking for, and often trainers work with other health and fitness professionals to get all the answers you need to get the results you crave.

Personal Training - Rehabilitation

If you are coming back from an illness or an injury, personal training will take all these factors into consideration so that you do not overexert yourself unnecessarily. Your personal trainer will ensure that your routine is complementary to where you are in your physical recovery.

Personal Training - Results Driven

Money does not grow on trees, you have invested in a personal trainer because you want results, you may need them quickly for that last minute holiday you've decided to book or your best friend's wedding.  Whatever the reason your personal trainer is there to make sure they get the best results for you. All you need to do is bring along some enthusiasm, commitment, willingness to have a go and the desire to be your absolute best!

No matter what weight loss solution, diet plan or exercise routine you are looking for, as you can see personal training has so much more to offer than most people realise at first glance, so come on what you waiting for, contact me now and take advantage of the special offer below!


Monday, 24 September 2012

Legs & Lungs Workout in the Gym (1)

As we know sometimes time is of the essence in the gym, ideally you want to be burning fat and creating lean muscle in the least time possible (or I do anyway).  You also want to get a response quickly and hit all your major muscles in an effective way, job done!  So here's my 'Legs & Lungs' workout utilising both the rowing machine and kettlebell (or dumbbell) swings. 

You'll be performing a down or descending pyramid with both the rower and the swings.  Both exercises are cardiovascular and although they both are working your legs, the rower is seated and the swings are of course standing.  But believe me every muscle and energy system will be fired up. Do not underestimate this workout towards the end you will really be feeling it! 

                                    Rower                    Rest                       Swings

                                    500 m                     3 mins                      50
                                    400 m                     3 mins                      40
                                    300 m                     2 mins                      30
                                    200 m                     2 mins                      20
                                    100 m                     1 min                        10

As you can see you have a rest period, but sadly thats not your total rest as this is the time for you to perform your swings.  If you are proficient at swings you should be able to get through them in the allotted time with some to spare as rest.  If not you may give yourself more time, like 3 minutes could be 4 or 5 minutes.  As you can see I have also reduced the time towards the end as you are doing less swings.  Again you can adapt this to your level, the important thing is that you keep correct form especially with the swings (please make sure you have correct technique, speak to an instructor if you are unsure). 

I usually use a resistance of 10 (so my rower feels like a slow power boat), below 5 is your quick, sleek, fast boat. But experiment with the damper setting, find one that suits you.

So by the end you will have completed 1500 metres and performed 150 swings! 

If you do not use a gym, an outdoor version could be to set yourself a distance between two points.  Perform travelling lunges (you can hold weights if you like) one way, dump the weights, then run or sprint there and back.  Grab the weights and repeat.

Do this as many times as possible. You could progress this by carrying heavier weights or repeating more times. 

These examples are simple and effective, helping you to achieve greater and longer term weight loss and improving your respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Give them a go and post your results.
Till next time, all the best