Sunday, 28 April 2013


Now I get bombarded with such a lot of health and fitness stuff, most of it I disregard, but sometimes, just sometimes I get something that makes sense.  And I have been preaching about intervals and short bursts of exercise till the cows come home!! 

If you are looking for weight loss and a bit of conditioning thrown it at the same time, this is the way to go.  Please read the below article, and if you are still one of the many that does long slow steady boring cardio (and you’re not in training for a marathon) take some heed from this and give the short workout at the end of the article a go. I have added my own adaptation at the end if you are a senior or a bad knees or bad back sufferer, so there’s no excuses!

STOP doing this workout
by Joel Marion

What workout?


That's right, long boring cardio is officially the WORST workout of the year.

Why? Well first, it's boring. I mean, who actually enjoys sitting on an exercise bike or running on a treadmill for 45 minutes? Not many people.

But much more important than that, it fails to produce fat loss RESULTS. Are there health benefits? Sure. But you can get those same health benefits (and more) with much shorter, much more exciting, and invigorating workouts. More on that in a minute...

But first, here's what research has to say about cardio:

Utter AC, et al. Influence of diet and/or exercise on body composition and cardio respiratory fitness in obese women. Int J Sport Nutr. 1998 Sep;8(3):213-22.

-In this 3 month study, women did 45 minutes of cardio a day, 5 days a week, and lost no more weight than those who dieted alone! Seems like a royal waste of time to me!

But perhaps this one study was a fluke? Nope!

Redman et al. Effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on body composition and fat distribution. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jan 2.

-In this study, subjects did 50 minutes of cardio, 5 days a week, and once again lost no more weight than those who dieted alone!

Well, maybe if they increase it to a full HOUR of cardio a day, SIX days a week, then cardio will actual product substantial results? No again!

McTiernan et al. Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat in Men and Women. Obesity 2007 June - 15:1496-1512.

-Over the course of this one year study, subjects performed aerobic exercise for 60 minutes a day, 6 whopping days a week (who even has TIME for that?) and lost only 3.5 pounds on average in an entire YEAR!

3.5 pounds of fat loss after an HOUR of exercise, nearly every day, for an ENTIRE year. Man, oh man, cardio really is the worst workout ever!

But as mentioned, there is a much better alternative, and that alternative lies in short, intense bouts of exercise.

In fact, a recent study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that 15 minutes of a circuit-style resistance training workout elevated metabolism for a full THREE days! And that's only from 15 minutes!

Other studies have found similar results with interval style workouts as short as 4 minutes producing dramatically more fat loss than long, extended bouts of cardio.

Here's an example bodyweight, short-burst exercise routine that you can try today to boost your metabolism and your fat loss results:

  • 30 seconds of bodyweight squats
  • 30 seconds of push ups
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks

Repeat 4 times.

That workout right there only takes SIX minutes and you'll burn way more fat than you will with those long, drawn out, boring cardio sessions.


If you cannot manage a bodyweight squat, use a stability ball behind your back on a wall.  Make sure your knees don’t travel over your toes.  Use your range of movement; go as low as you comfortably can.

If you cannot manage pushups, try and hold a plank position either on your forearms or straight arms for the 30 seconds.

If you cannot manage full jumping jacks, perform half jacks or do seated jacks on a stability ball. 

If you are unsure of any of these moves, ask an instructor to show you technique first.

These sequences can be progressed by doing each exercise for longer such as 45 seconds to a minute or doing more rounds.

If you need any more ideas, check out my previous ‘Legs & Lungs Workout in the Gym’ blogs for more ideas.

Monday, 22 April 2013

One Pot Chicken

Here's a very healthy 'One pot Chicken' recipe from chef Mark Sargeant on This Morning, here's the link

He served it with coleslaw, but as we had it on Sunday, our accompaniment was cabbage.  The recipe also called for 2 lemons, I have to admit it was a bit too lemony for me so next time I'll just use one. 

But it was quick and easy and very moorish, and as a bonus hardly any washing up! 

Makes a nice change to your traditional Sunday Roast, thoroughly recommend it, enjoy!
Till next time, all the best



Spinning Classes - what will it do for me?

Well here's 7 good reason for a start:
  1. You will lose fat, increase the tone and shape of your thighs, butt and shoulders without adding bulk.
  2. You'll increase both strength and muscular endurance of your legs. Which means you'll be able to go for longer and at a harder pace.
  3. You'll feel cardio fit, which means you'll get out of breathe less during daily activities.
  4. You'll rev up your metabolism (fat burning) not just during the class, but potentially for 16 hours after you've finished the class!
  5. Its low impact and safer for your joints, if you are a little unconditioned or overweight too much pounding the streets can cause stress fractures or worse.
  6. You don't need any co-ordination like you would need in an aerobic class for example. Just adjust the bike for you, climb aboard and ride!
  7. If you are an injured runner this is the perfect class to ensure you still get a super cardio workout without the impact.
So what's not to love! Bring water and a towel and I'll see you there.
Where - Warnham Health & Fitness, 16-18 Church Street, Warnham RH12 3QW
(just 3 minutes from Tesco, Broadbridge Heath).
When - Wednesday's 6:30 - 7:30pm.
How much? £5(non-members) and £4(members).


Thursday, 18 April 2013

The best times to eat carbs and not store them as fat

This is a dilemma everyone goes through, especially if you have been trying to lose weight.  Nine times out of ten I bet you've probably gone on one of those 'low carb' or 'no carb' diets.  And while you may have lost weight and the number of the scales may have reduced, that loss may have been from water or worse still muscle.  You may also have gained back that 10lbs plus a little more - now ask yourself, was it worth it!?

But stick with having your carbs both pre workout and / or post workout then carbs will both fuel you and replenish lost energy stores for next times activity.  This ensures you can have your favourite carbs while making them work for you and not storing them as fat.

Let's look at pre workout carbs first.  Working out on an empty stomach is not advisable (some may disagree) this may lead to fatigue, dizziness, fainting and low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia).  So to avoid any of these happening give yourself either a small meal of low to medium GI carbohydrates with a little protein (the protein will help to slow down the sugar release of the whole meal).  Have this pre workout meal 2 - 4 hours before your workout.  Some ideas include the following:
  • 1 sandwich (2 slices of bread), 1 or 2 rolls, 1 bagel or 1 wrap with a protein filling such as beef, ham, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese or pate.  Serve with leaves, tomato and cucumber.
  • A bowl of soup (check out my numerous soup blogs) with either a side salad or slice of bread or roll.
  • A baked potato with a serving of beans, tuna, cheese, chicken or coleslaw.
  • Bowl of porridge made with water or milk eaten with a portion of fruit.
  • Any of the suggestions at this blog
Experiment and find an energy source that works, You want to be able to find something that gives you the energy for a decent workout (by this I don't mean just a stroll in the park, think intervals of short intense bursts and recovery - otherwise known as HIIT and weights with overload).  On the other hand you don't want to feel lethargic and bloated before your workout.

The other option is to have a pre workout snack 30 / 45 minutes before your workout, something quick and easy such as:
  • 1 or 2 bananas
  • 1 or 2 portions of fresh fruit such as apple, grapes, orange, kiwi, pineapple, melon, mango etc.
  • A carb and or carb/protein shake
  • A fruit or vegetable smoothie
  • A cereal or sports bar
  • 2 rice cakes with chocolate spread or peanut butter
  • 2 chocolate covered rice cakes
  • Jam sandwich
Now to post carbs.  The best time to get your post workout carbs (and protein ideally) is as soon as possible so the process of repair and rebuild can begin.  And if you've been working hard the carbs you now take on board will be replenishing depleted glycogen stores within the muscles and liver.  Ideally you want to be taking on fuel within 30 minutes, certainly within an hour for optimum results and recovery.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't always fancy anything solid especially as during intense exercise blood flow is directed more at the muscles your working and less at your stomach and digestion system.  So I prefer to have a drink instead, in the form of a protein and carb shake made with water if at the gym, and soya, coconut or almond milk if I'm at home.  It goes down a little easier, then if I've had my workout in the late morning as usual its normally close to lunch time where 9 times out of 10 I'll be having my usual poached eggs and avocado on toast with baked tomatoes and beans.

But any of the suggestions listed would also work post workout.

I hope you've found this blog interesting and now know how to make carbs work for you.
Okay till next time, stay well and healthy.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Ladies ONLY Spare Tyre Workout

It's finally here, my take on a Boot Camp, but Boot Camp with a difference.  No endless press ups, running around fields or brutally being shouted at by a drill sergeant!  Instead we are talking Boot Camp Tabata style.  What's this you ask?  Well Tabata is 8 x 20 seconds effort with 10 seconds rest repeated for 4 minutes.  It is challenging and at the same time incredibly rewarding, there's nothing like it :)

We will be using an array of fitness equipment such as kettle bells, tyre flipping, wall balls, battling ropes, suspension trainers, sleds pull's, ladders and best of all it's a ladies only class. 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 come on ladies, step away from the Cross Trainers.  Come and join a small group of like minded ladies all there for the same reason; to build muscle (please don't panic, you won't turn into Miss Universe!) burn fat and build confidence.  In a nutshell lets get;


Where - CNC House, Guildford Road, Bucks Green, Rudgwick

When - Starts Monday 5th August 7.30 - 8.30pm

How much? Just £5 per hour session OR Buy 5 get 2 FREE!

All ladies referring to this blog gets their session free :)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The skinny on Fats & Oils................

Sorry we've been a little quiet on the blogging front of lately.  Been throwing myself into a lot of courses and workshops, you never stop learning in this business.  And what I learn I can pass onto you.  Of course you can imagine the main topics of conversation between lots of people, but nutrition always comes up.

One particular subject I wanted to talk about is 'fats and oils'.  This is a subject of hot debate and probably always will be for years to come.  Questions such as; Which fat is best for cooking? Does fat make you fat? Which is best - butter or margarine? How much fish oil should we be eating? What proportion of Omega 3 to Omega 6, what about Omega 9?  And lots more.  This blog wouldn't be big enough to answer all of them questions here and now, but I was prompted that evening to look through my kitchen cupboards specifically at my fats and oils. 

Note if you think that's grease in between the tiles it's not, those tiles use to be bright yellow!
From the left we have Olive Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Omega High Five Cooking Oil and Coconut Oil.  Not pictured is normal butter which I also use for cooking and the odd occasional baking session. 

These four are my essential kitchen cupboard staples and have been for a long time.  When I find ones that suit me and my family I tend to stick with them.  Lets have a look at them a little more closely.  Firstly Olive Oil, now Olive Oil is very much associated with the Mediterranean way of eating, and people who live in the med tend to live longer and have a lower coincidence of conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, some cancers and arthritis.  So there's five reasons already to make olive oil part of your nutritional regime. 
There are different kinds of olive oil, some pure, some may be a refined mix of several olive varieties.  Best flavours come from minimally pressed oils such as virgin or extra virgin oils.  It is very high in fat, but most of that comes from healthy monounsaturated fats.  I tend to use Olive Oil more for dressing salads in favour of my other oils, due it possibly going rancid with high cooking temperatures, but if you buy a high quality 'extra virgin' olive oil I believe this has a much higher smoke point of 210C / 410F which should cover most cooking methods. 
Next Rice Bran Oil which is high in both healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  It has a high smoking point of 254C / 490F which again makes it suitable for all types of cooking methods.  Just recently its been hailed as a 'miracle fat burning fat' probably due to one particular antioxidant 'Oryzanol' found in it.  Came across this interesting video clip from Dr Oz on Rice Bran Oil, click on the link and he'll tell you a little more about it
Lastly, The Groovy Food Company make my Coconut Oil and Omega High Five Cooking Oil.  Again love both these products, I always make fabulous roast potatoes with the Coconut oil (and before you ask they've never tasted of coconut, just fluffy and scrummy the way roasties should be!)  As the oil is solid, I scrape a tablespoon into a roasting pan with a twist of sea salt and black pepper, then heat for 30 seconds before chucking the spuds in.  I've also substituted olive oil for coconut oil in many of my soup recipes.  Coconut Oil as we know is very high in fat, but most of it is in the form of MCFA's (medium chained fatty acids) these are not readily stored in the body but are absorbed directly from the intestines and sent to the liver to be metabolised where they are mostly burned as fuel. So eating coconuts could lead to greater fat burn! 
Another plus for Coconut Oil is that it also contains high amounts of another MCFA Lauric Acid, which is converted by the body into monolaurin.  This is a very important compound that fights against fungal and bacterial infections and viruses.  It is said that people who consume coconut regularly experience less sickness, and I'd have to agree with that :) 
The High Five Cooking Oil is a mix of EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids).  These cannot be manufactured by the body so must be ingested from foods.  Again like all the others can be used in most cooking methods as it also has a smoking point of 185C / 365F
I do hope you've found this interesting.  Nutrition and what, how and when we should be eating is a subject that is forever changing.  If we can keep it simple and eat food that has either grown in the soil, flew in the sky, swam in the sea and grazed in a field, and of course drink plenty of water we shouldn't go far wrong.
Till next time, stay well and healthy.