How to lose weight through the menopause and how to lose the ‘menopause belly’ are two of the most frequent questions I get asked by women over 50 (well actually also women over 40) and guess what my answer is – “It’s easy with the right exercises”
You may think that once you reach a certain age that weight gain is a given and that there is nothing we can do about this.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Let me dispose of that thought straight away and tell you that YES YOU CAN. No matter what age, you can control your weight, and you can get rid of menopause belly fat. So, if you are in middle age, perimenopause, or menopause, this blog is going to be a particularly informative read for you.
As a trainer helping 1000s of women lose weight successfully and keep it off, I know what works and how to get you results.
WHY WE GAIN MENOPAUSAL WEIGHT
Firstly, the Hormonal Fluctuations with the Oestrogen levels dropping can cause excess weight to sit around our tummies, and it can seem like it appears overnight. Then Sarcopenia (the decline of active muscle tissue) means our basal metabolic rate starts to decline, so our body is burning less calories daily. This natural process can actually start to happen in our early 30’s. Lack of Sleep can be a major player in weight gain, as it jumbles up the hormones that are responsible for feeling hungry and feeling full.
As we hit our 40’s our muscles mass slowly starts to slightly decline (if we do not exercise) as our body simply has no need to burn as many calories as we have less active muscle tissue. Hence that expression “use it or lose it” so we can turn this around by doing the right exercises, but it must be the right ones, which are multi compound moves meaning they use lots of muscles all at once. The wonderful thing with these is that they are super quick to do, and you only ever use your own body weight. The result of doing these exercises is that you then generate more active muscle tissue which then naturally fires up a once declining calorie burn. Then in our 50’s or when the menopause arrives is when we have a shuffle in our hormones and our oestrogen starts to dip, but again here comes the magic word with the right “exercises” we can help stimulate the production of our hormones which will help to then reduce any excess body fat we have gained.
Another important hormone we need to get working is one called HGH this is the Human Growth Hormone as this helps to speed up our calorie burn plus this hormone is responsible for plumping up our skin, making our hair shinny and giving us a sparkle in our eyes. Therefore, in Hollywood certain A-list celebrities have HGH Injections for this effect, but nobody ever needs to go to that extreme as we can do this all through exercise and excuse the pun but that is the beauty of exercise.
HOW TO LOSE MENOPAUSAL WEIGHT GAIN
When it comes to Perimenopause and Menopause, we want to look at working on bodyweight moves, as this helps to reverse the effect known as Sarcopenia – this is where our muscle tissue starts to deactivate which in turn will reduce our natural calorie burn. The good news is that with these exercises we can change this and naturally increase your body’s abilities to burn more calories and get back to how we felt and looked before.
One common mistake many perimenopausal and menopausal women make, in a bid to get their waistline back, is to do exercises like the Plank and Sit-ups, and these can end up broadening our waistline. So instead, we need to be doing standing cardio ab exercises, as this increases the calorie burn, helping to reduce excess belly fat. And by doing a special combination of MCM and MDM (stands for multi compound moves and multi directional moves) you draw in the waist muscles and increase the amount of body fat your body burns.
First, you need to be doing some form of HIIT training – this means High Intensity Interval Training – and the reason this works is that the short bursts of working harder help to spike an effect known as EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). This means you have a rise in hourly calorie burn hours after doing a short HIIT workout. Therefore, I suggest doing any of my short HIIT workouts first thing in the morning as this is a terrific way to help your body burn off excess body fat. (Plus, these workouts help your heart health, fitness, and mental wellbeing.)
Then we also need to be looking at doing Cardio Tone workouts to help reactive muscle tissue that has become inactive due to what is known as Sarcopenia. As I mentioned earlier, this is a big cause of weight gain, the decline of active muscle tissue. So, by doing big dynamic moves, as I do in all my workouts, you can restore the muscle fibres back to being active, and this is one of the quickest and best ways to help reduce weight and manage your weight. The bonus of this is that it helps prevent osteoporosis, helps to improve you posture and it shapes your body up and gives a lift in all the right places. Cardio exercises also help to keep your heart strong and is also great for energy and reducing stress. This can be simply going for a run, bike ride, swim, or anything that is going to help get your heart rate up.
Exercise is truly a girl’s best friend when you’re going through the menopause, as it will help control your weight, shape your waist, keep your heart strong, reduce anxiety, keep your joints supple, and most importantly make you realise that this is simply a new chapter in your life where you can still look and feel your best.
Now let’s just talk about sleep. And this is where making exercise part of your life will help to improve the quality of your sleep, because being physically active requires you to expand your energy levels, and this will then at the end of the day help you feel more rested and give you a better-quality night’s sleep.
Let’s also look at food because it is important to make the right food choices, have plenty of vegetables, lean meats, pluses, good fats and always have protein with every meal, be careful on that sweet stuff known as sugar because this will increase weight gain, so just aim to eat healthy home-made food, and always check the sugar content. If you see on the food label that the ingredients of sugar per 100g are over 6g then put it back as this is high, (and if you are new to reading labels you will be so shocked to see how many products that you may think are healthy are stuffed with sugar).
So, the good news is THAT YOU CAN LOSE WEIGHT OVER THE AGE OF 40 and most importantly the MENOPAUSE is not an illness and does not mean we have to buy bigger clothes! far from it, we can continue to look and feel fabulous and ooze confidence for this exciting new chapter and adventure ahead of us. It is just a matter of doing the right exercises to combat menopause fat and eating the right foods rich in the vitamins and minerals we need.
In this blog I want to show you how to exercise your way through the menopause.
Whilst we all know that to be the healthiest, we need to be active during every stage of life, in our 40’s and beyond IT IS CRUCIAL, and what’s exciting is it brings us so many incredible benefits. But what sort of exercise should we be doing during this stage of our lives. We are all different, regarding our lifestyle, ability, and schedules. If you are a beginner, where do you start? Or if you are use to running marathons, then should you be doing something else?
Before we talk about what’s best for us individually, as we are all as unique as our fingerprints, one thing that is sure is that EXERCISE will bring us all the same basic benefits. Exercise will:
help to strengthen our bones. This will help protect our bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.
strengthen our heart. The stronger our heart, the more efficient it is as a pump, which will help look after our cardiovascular system and health.
help to reverse a slowing down metabolism. This will help to control your weight and lose any middle age spread.
help produce higher levels of the feel-good hormones, so you can help to reduce anxiety and depression.
help revamp your energy levels (almost instantly).
help keep your joints mobile. It will also help keep your tendons, ligaments, and muscles flexible. This in turn will give you a fuller range of motion and better posture.
The key is simply about finding the right workout for you. Therefore, I have created 3 fictional characters, all quite different, but all either perimenopausal or menopausal and hopefully you will be able to relate to one of them.
So let me introduce you to
Sarah – Single mum of 2 teenagers, part-time PA, never exercised in her life, and lives on a tight budget.
Pandora – Blogger and Designer. Has always dipped in and out of fitness, but not sure what to do now, and is constantly travelling around the world on business.
Mia – Full-time mum and avid runner, and running is her thing, but she’s not sure what else she should be doing.
So, let’s look at the exercises I would suggest for each of them. For Sarah who is a beginner we should start off with easy-to-follow moves that are low-impact, and that are clearly explained, this will give her the confidence to know that what she is doing is correct. These exercises will all be doable moves, so NO BURPEES OR PLANKS which quite frankly would be likely to put off any beginners about exercise in an instant.
I would also suggest she works on just doing 7-minute sessions, as this is a small amount of time that we can all find, and she will be able to squeeze this into her daily routine. This way it is not too daunting. For instance, it could be after the school drop-off, and if she is already in her leggings and t-shirt, then as soon as she is home, she can get indoors and do a free YouTube workout video.
The benefit for Sarah is these workouts are designed to suit her, as all my 7-minute workouts work the full body, and I always show an easier and a harder version. So as a beginner she should like these then as she gets fitter, she can then move up on to another level. These can fit comfortably into her lifestyle and as a busy mum she will be able to do these quick workouts without visiting a gym or investing in equipment.
For Pandora Seeing as she does so much travelling, I would recommend that she focuses on increasing her step count, as she would be sitting a lot while driving, on the train, or plane, so it would be good for her to aim to reach between 8 – 10 thousand steps a day. This is easy to monitor as now nearly every phone has a step counter.
Then she should look at doing some full body workouts. She could make the most of a gym if she is staying in hotels, but if not, any of my Total Body Workouts will work, as she will be using the weight of her own body. As these can be done in a small space, so no matter where she is, these will work. The key for Pandora, as her routine varies from day to day, is to always aim to keep as active as she can and set a goal of at least 4-5 times a week doing those body weight exercises.
The Benefit of these for Pandora is this is all achievable for her, and no matter how hectic her schedule is, she can still get these exercises in. Plus being active is a terrific way to help bring out creativity, so as a business owner she can think up lots more ideas and designs.
For Mia I would suggest some Body Weight Exercises and look at doing some Low Impact HIIT. She will already be cardiovascular fit as a runner, but as running just focuses on engaging your front and back muscles, I would encourage her to mix it up a little and add in some exercises that engage the side of her body too, as this way she will be looking after and protecting her joints. She should also look at trying some Pilates or yoga inspired moves to help increase overall flexibility.
No matter what your ability, and even if you have never exercised in your life, NOW is the time to get going, you won’t regret it, as every workout will make you feel fabulous, help reduce menopausal symptoms, and it will be investing in your future health.
Unlike when we hit puberty and the symptoms that we each experience are remarkably similar, the same cannot be said about the menopause. While some women will experience hardly any symptoms and travel through this stage of their lives with little or no problems, other women may experience many of the 34 menopausal symptoms (which incidentally are also the same for perimenopause) and not all will experience the same combination of those symptoms.
Our menopause experience will be as unique as our fingerprint. Each and every one of us who go through this journey at this stage of life is likely to have a completely different experience to anyone else. The good news is that with the right Lifestyle Choices we can all naturally help to reduce near enough all the menopausal symptoms.
Did you know that currently there are over 37.5 million women going through, or about to go through, the menopause? It is a natural stage of our life that every woman will go through. The average age is 51 but can start as early as our 40s and up until our late 50s.
So, what is the Menopause? – Put in basic terms, the Menopause is simply when your periods stop, and your body ends its fertile life. You are considered to be menopausal when you have not had a period for over 1 year.
What happens with your hormones in the Menopause? – As your ovaries stop producing eggs, your hormone levels start to decline, and it is the decline of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that can bring on many of the symptoms that occur through the menopause.
So, let’s look at some of those 34 Symptoms and what it can mean to those of us that are affected by them
Mood swings can happen within an instant, and you can feel anything from extreme anger to severe anxiety. And one of the best ways to erase this is with exercise. The reason being that when we move, our serotonin levels increase. Serotonin is a chemical that sends a message to our brain to feel good, which is why it is also known as the happy & feel-good hormone. This is where doing a quick little workout or simply a walk around the block will help alleviate any mood swings associated with the menopause.
The reason this becomes a symptom during the menopause is again down to the natural decline in levels of oestrogen, as this is what prior to the menopause helped to keep our joints fully lubricated. Yet the good news is that with exercise we can help naturally to increase this, as mobility will help produce synovial fluid which is a natural lubrication for our joints. Every time you exercise you can help to stimulate this, which will then be just like you are oiling your joints, and this will reduce the joint stiffness.
Weight gain can turn up seemingly overnight! It can happen quite suddenly, and we may think “but I am not eating more than normal, so why am I piling on the pounds?!!”
Which is why it may come as quite a shock. However, the actual cause of that menopausal weight gain is due to an effect that few people talk about, and failure to address this, is why so many women then struggle to lose weight in and around the menopause.
The best way, and in my eyes one of the only ways, to lose weight is to start addressing the cause, which is SARCOPENIA- meaning the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength because of aging – which has a big effect on our resting natural calorie burn. In our younger years we could pretty much eat what we want and not worry about our waistline changing, but as soon as SARCOPENIA takes effect things change, and suddenly, we don’t burn off those calories as we once did.
But with exercise we can reverse this, and by doing specially created full body moves that engage multi-compound and multi-directional moves, you can reverse the SARCOPENIA EFFECT and get your metabolism back up, and then you can increase your resting calorie burn you will also be helping your joints, strengthening your bones, and lifting your mood, and it will help with improving your sleep and increasing your cardiovascular health. It is the only way to reduce the excess menopausal weight, and better still to help keep it off.
During the menopause we start to lose our bone mass, so our bones become less solid and more brittle – but again the good news here is that exercise can help to re-strengthen your bones. The reason being that every time we apply pressure on our bones by movement it creates a piezo-chemical reaction, and this then helps the bone (which is a living and growing tissue) to become strong again. So, you can build up your bone strength.
Sleep can be disturbed through the menopause, with night sweats, anxiety, and poor-quality sleep. Again, lifestyle plays a key role here in helping to reduce these effects. Something that’s particularly needed is looking at a healthy diet, and avoiding certain foods close to bedtime, such as any foods high in caffeine. Get into a set routine so that your body clock has a good pattern that it follows. Possibly aim from Monday to Friday to always be in bed at 10:30 pm, say, with all technology switched off, and give yourself a nice book to fall asleep to.
Finally let’s talk heart health, as to be honest this is the most important item of all.
As we know, in the menopause we have a decline in the production of oestrogen, and one of the roles oestrogen plays is to help protect our arteries. It helps to reduce any plaque that builds up inside the lining, so with the decline of oestrogen the plaque can then build up, and this can cause blockages in our arteries, which then puts the heart under pressure as the circulation is being restricted. Therefore, more than ever before we need to look at ways to help to naturally increase our cardiovascular health, and guess who comes back to the rescue here again – yes, our best friend – Exercise!
By doing exercise we strengthen the heart, and the stronger your heart is, the more powerful it is at pumping blood through your arteries. You then get a healthy supply of oxygen to your vital organs. Plus, a strong and powerful supply of blood helps keep the artery walls clear of plaque.
Nutrition is also key, because if we are eating high fatty foods and high sugar, we are going to build up fatty plaques which sit on our arteries. However, if we eat whole grain foods, and plenty of vegetables and fruit, we are going to be reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In summary, as our lifestyle will have a significant impact on how we feel and look during the menopause. Let’s embrace this new chapter. It is time to invest in a pair of trainers and take on the Menopause with a positive mindset, regular exercise, and healthy eating, so that we start feeling good again and back in the driving seat of being us.
Watch out for my next blog which will look at all the 34 symptoms and give you an explanation of each of them.
Getting rid of belly fat is often on the top of people’s wish list when it comes to getting in shape and being healthy and fit. To melt off excess tummy fat we need to focus on several elements, and guess what doing 100’s of sit ups won’t give you the results and in fact can make things worse!
There many of crazy posts, blogs and products claiming to give you a flat tummy with either one ab workout, eating a certain food or worse still just drinking a cup of tea. Well, let me tell you as a Trainer with over 25 years’ experience I can assure that none of those work – because if they did, we would all be showing off our flat tummies.
The good news is yes, we can reduce belly fat, and with my approach not only do you reduce belly fat, but you also get super fit and healthy at the same time. Below are my 6 top tips to help get rid of tummy fat.
Tip 1 Re-setting your metabolism
This means your naturally calorie burn may have started to slow down (this can happen after the age of 25)and therefore we need to increase it back up again – so we do this by doing HIIT training – this is simply shorter workouts where you push yourself to the max for 20 seconds then reduce the intensity, the good news is these workouts can just be between 4-7 minutes long and are suitable for everyone. What happens is these types of workouts produce an effect known as EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) and it is this that is the clever bit, because now you will have raised the number of calories your body is burning for the next 10 hours, and this on average can add up to around an extra 350 calories.
Tip 2 Increasing your active muscle tissue
Start doing a few body weight exercises even things like squats and lunges will help activate more active muscles tissues which helps your body burn fat faster.
Tip 3 Get to bed before 11pm
Believe it or not having 7 hours of good quality sleep is a great way to help reduce excess tummy fat, this is because sleep helps to control your hormones, and by having less than 7 hours your hormones can tend to be all over the place and get confused with feeling tired to being hungry which is why we can crave more carb rich food after a bad night’s sleep
Tip 4 Tightening your core muscles
The stronger your core is the better your body functions, and this helps with all activities as the stronger your core is the better you will perform them. Even if just sitting at a desk try and do some core strengthening exercise, this will help to stop you slouching and causing that lower tummy pouch.
Tip 5 Sculpting your abdominal muscles and waist
So many people get this wrong and just do the plank and sit ups, but this means you only engage the muscles through one range of motion known as sagittal (this simply means moving forwards) whereas the abdominal muscles need to be engaged through all 3 ranges (the other two are frontal and transverse). By doing this you will then be working your ab muscles to the max. The more toned these muscles are the more they will help to reduce the excess belly fat and you are likely to achieve the desired results quicker too.
Tip 6 Eating a clean diet (meaning cutting down on sugar)
Cutting down on sugar can be a quick way to see that ab fat melt away and those toned abdominal muscles start shining through. It is also important to avoid foods that make you bloated and don’t be fooled by some healthy foods as with anything, too much of a good thing is never a good thing.
I always say to all my clients when they ask how to get a flat tummy or a flat belly, that to get your best abdominal muscles you need to focus on 3 things: exercise, toning, and the biggest player of all, what you eat.
So instead of just thinking of a flat belly diet – focus on these foods, as they will help to get rid of excess belly fat and lose the belly bloat, add them to your weekly shopping list, as they are some of the best foods to help you reduce belly fat.
EGGS:Boiled, smashed, poached – however you have them, eggs truly are an excellent choice to have in your diet when it comes to banishing belly fat. The reason being that they have an incredibly low glycaemic index and are very filling.
BERRIES:Berries are a must, and choose red or blue with your berries, as the chemicals in charge of giving these fruits their colours are called “anthocyanins,” and research has shown these can help burn abdominal fat.
DARK CHOCOLATE (yes you read that right):Believe it or not this, which in my eyes is one of the wonders of the world as I love chocolate, can help reduce belly fat, this is because it helps to stabilise our blood sugar, which in turn helps with controlling our appetite and reducing cravings.
ALMONDS:Let’s go nuts about almonds, as they help to stabilize blood sugars, which helps prevent cravings that can lead to overeating and weight gain.
APPLES:An apple a day helps to keep the belly fat away, and this is because they are high in fibre and they are also high in water, which helps you feel full.
YOGHURT:Whether you go Greek or just low-fat, yogurt helps keep your digestive system healthy and prevents bloating.
SALMON:Let’s talk fish. Especially salmon, tuna, or mackerel, as all these are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help promote fat-burning by making your metabolism more efficient.
TOMATOES:These can help reduce water retention in the body, and the magic of these fruits is that they also help with reversing leptin resistance. Leptin is a type of protein which helps to control the appetite and metabolic rate, so our bodies rely on it to shed those extra pounds.
OATS:Why not copy goldilocks and choose porridge for your breakfast if you want a flat tummy, the oats will give you energy and fuel your metabolism and help reduce hunger throughout your day.
RICE:Let’s add one more that is a real winner and that is brown rice, which is a super friendly flat-tummy food, because it contains a rich supply of energizing B vitamins, which could help you burn calories faster.
So, if you are aiming to reduce your belly fat, aim to do some HIIT training 5 times a week, get 7 hours of sleep every night and add some body weight exercises into your week. Remember to condition your core muscles and sculpt those abdominal muscles from every angle.
And say no to that sticky toffee pudding and focus on eating clean!
In this short blog I thought I would let you know about 7 Myth Busting facts to do with exercise and I hope that some of them will be news to you!
Myth 1: Longer workouts are more effective than short ones!
Good news here is that shorter workouts can burn more calories than a longer one!
This possible by doing to the INTESITY of the workout. If you do a shorter workout, you are more likely to be able to push yourself to work a little harder, so you burn more calories than if you did a longer workout at a lower intensity. These are also known as HIIT workouts.
Myth 2: Doing the Plank and sit-ups will give you a flat stomach
Not at all! Swap your floor-based abdominal muscles workouts and planks for standing up cardio abdominal muscles, this way you work your abdominal muscles harder plus you have the benefit of engaging more muscles and working your cardiovascular health at the same time.
Myth 3: You need to lift weights to do strength and toning exercises!!
Using your own bodyweight is just as effective as doing a workout with weights. Another benefit is you can do this type of exercise anywhere, and it is a safe way of training, so using your own bodyweight is one of the best and safest ways to train your body.
Myth 4: To get fit you must do high impact moves like high knees, burpees, and squat jumps!
No, you don’t, which is great news as so many people don’t like jumping impact moves as they hurt their knees and backs, instead of high impact you use high intensity these are moves that require no jumping but engage lots of muscles and work through a full range of motion, and these are great for increasing fitness.
Myth 5: Morning Workouts burn more calories.
While a morning workout is great as it often means you have done it before excuses or your daily routine get in the way, the truth is no matter what time of the day you work out you will always burn the same amount of calorie and get the same effects, the key is just to make sure you do your workout AM or PM!
Myth 6: Exercise makes you tired.
It’s quite the opposite as exercise is one of the best ways to stop you feeling tired because when you exercise your body generates energy.
Myth 7: The only reason to exercise is to lose weight!
Regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not everyone should look at exercising to care and look after our body. When you work out you do more than just burn calories, you boost your heart health, you strengthen your bones, you reduce anxiety, you increase your energy, and you mobilise your joints.
So that’s my 7 Myth Burning Facts – How Many Did You Know?
H.I.I.T. is the biggest fitness trend and this one is set to stay.
The reason why is that High Intensity Interval Training WORKS!!!
I speak as a Fitness Expert who’s been doing this for 20 years. I first learnt about this style of training when I joined the Army. Back in those days I was seriously unfit, and in fact at school I did no sports and had little confidence. And this was one of the reasons that in my 20’s I decided to sign the dotted line and join the army, as I wanted to become a strong, fit girl. This was one of the best things I could have done, as this is where I challenged myself and changed. Fitness was a big part of our daily training sessions and was always H.I.I.T.-based workouts. I found that within 2 weeks I was fit and able to do all the workouts, and had quickly got in shape.
Throughout my 20 years in the fitness industry I have always used this style of training, and for me it is not new. It has actually been around for a long time, but finally the fitness industry has named it and branded it, and now everyone wants to be HIIT FIT.
SO WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF H.I.I.T.?
It is quick. It burns body fat 9 times faster, even after you have worked out.
It increases your natural calorie burn.
It slows down the ageing process as it stimulates the Human Growth Hormone (this is what keeps us looking radiant).
It burns fat, not muscles.
It increases your lung capacity.
It is doable.
It makes training more fun.
And you can do it anywhere.
CAN ANYONE DO IT?
H.I.I.T. can be applied to any form of exercise, from swimming to cycling, lunges to skipping. You simply focus on doing short bursts of working at a harder faster intensity, and then have bursts of recovery. These bursts can be from as little as 20 seconds up to 60 seconds, then recovery can be in spells of 10 – 30 seconds.
Intensity is key to getting results, and I have devised a scale which will help you be sure that you are working out to the right intensity to get your desired results.
As with any exercise, you get out what you put in. You want to be feeling slightly out of breath, but not to a point of utter exhaustion; equally, don’t let it be too easy.
Hitting the right intensity in you exercise is what will give you incredible results.
After you have completed your exercise session look at the list below and score yourself on a scale of 1-10 for your perceived rate of exertion:
Scale Level of Exertion
1 Not exhausted at all (as if you are seated)
2 Very, very light (as if you are walking around at home)
3 Very light gentle exercise
4 Moderate (easily able to hold a conversation)
5 Somewhat hard (feeling a little out of breath)
6 Feeling challenged and out of breath, hard to hold a full conversation
7 Very hard (not able to talk)
8 Very, very hard
9 Near exhaustion
To get the best results, you should aim to be in the 5 to 7 zone, as this is the best for burning calories and is often referred to as the fat-burning zone. However, you should build up to that level of exertion, especially if you are new to exercising.
Walking your way to Fitness – The Benefits of Walking
Walking is the perfect exercise for everyone regardless of their age, shape, weight, or ability. The list of benefits from walking is longer than you might expect. Your body reacts quickly to walking, and you burn excess body fat, reduce inches all over, melt away muffin tops, sculpt and lift the butt, tone the thighs, and narrow the waist. And you can wave goodbye to bingo wings. Even more important are the many other benefits to your health, fitness, weight and aging that walking provides.
So let’s look at these in a little more detail, starting with health, which is the most important. Regular walking can help to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic illness, obesity, strokes, depression, and even some cancers. Read on to see how walking positively affects your health.
Strengthens the Heart When we walk, we strengthen the most important muscle in our body-our heart. The stronger the heart becomes, the more effectively it works. The heart’s job is to pump blood throughout the body. When a heart is weak (which can be due to lack of exercise), it becomes less effective at pumping blood. A good analogy I use is to imagine a foot pump that you are using to blow up an inflatable bed. If the pump is not very effective, you are going to have to pump it up and down lots of times for it to fill the bed. Yet if the pump is powerful and strong, just a few pumps will push in lots of air but with less effort. You want your heart to be a powerful pump so that with each pump it pushes blood through your system efficiently. The other benefit is that a strong blood flow keeps the arteries flushed and helps prevents them from narrowing, meaning you lower the risk of high blood pressure. The more effectively your heart pumps, the more oxygen it supplies to your body and then you feel less out of breath and have more energy.
Reduces Cholesterol Walking is a fantastic way to keep your cholesterol levels healthy, because walking at a brisk pace can help to reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein). LDL is known as bad cholesterol that can cause a plaque lining in the arteries, and this can lead to heart attacks.
Prevents Osteoporosis Stronger bones are essential for our frame and body support as we age. As we grow older, we can be susceptible to osteoporosis, which is a weakening within the bones that makes them more likely to fracture and break. Not only does walking tone and strengthen your muscles, but it also strengthens your bones, because every time your heel strikes the ground it produces a chemical process in your bones known as the piezoelectric effect. The piezoelectric effect helps to stimulate the cells that contribute to building stronger bones.
Walking is a terrific way to keep your weight down and help prevent obesity, which also can lead to diabetes and other diseases. Simply put, when we walk, we use energy known as calories, and this is how we can stay in shape. Nowadays, obesity is a huge problem, and the reason is simple. People move less and eat more! If we sit all day-at the desk, in the car, shopping online-the body is not using energy, so it won’t be burning calories. Instead, we start storing calories and gaining weight, and this brings on a whole host of problems. But the good news is that by walking we can prevent all these health problems.
Lifts Depression A great way to improve your mood and reduce stress levels is to go for a walk. Walking stimulates the production of the feel-good hormone known as serotonin. Therefore, when someone is suffering from depression, a doctor will often recommend walking, because it is the most natural way to help lift depression.
More Flexibility Walking engages lots of muscle groups. With every stride we take (and this is true for each of my total-body moves), we use a full range of motion (ROM) through all our joints, which helps keep them healthy and flexible. Every time you engage a movement through a joint, you naturally increase lubrication knows as synovial fluid, which helps keep the joints smooth and mobile. Again, lack of exercise has the reverse effect, which is why joint problems can occur from inactivity.
Faster, Stronger, and More Stamina Every time you work out, you increase the fibres in the muscles, making them stronger and increasing their endurance. Your muscles can keep going for longer before they tire, and they can carry more weight as they become stronger. The results of this are that you will feel fitter, and you will also find that you walk faster.
Better Balance Walking, especially when you are walking outdoors over uneven surfaces, is a terrific way to work on improving your balance. You’re naturally engaging what are known as the stabilising muscles, particularly around the lower legs, and this will lead to better
Weight Burns Calories Walking can be an amazingly straightforward way to manage your weight and even lose excess weight The key is to walk at a very brisk pace, and with my walking workouts. The reason is that we add short bursts of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). We use HIIT when we increase the speed of our walk, so the effort feels more challenging. These faster paces are between 20-40 seconds only, and then we bring the intensity back down, I will explain more later in the book, but what you need to know now is that this has an amazing effect on weight loss, because it produces an effect known as EPOC (excess post-oxygen consumption). EPOC occurs when your body burns calories at a higher rate for hours after you have finished exercising. This can burn an extra 35 calories an hour and can stay at an elevated rate for up to 10 hours, so you can see why I get excited about this and why weight loss then becomes easy. That is going to be an extra 350 calories you burn even after exercising. This also applies to my total-body moves, as it tones so many muscles at once, and the more toned the muscles are, the more calories you burn.
Turns Back the Clock Believe it or not, walking can turn back the clock. Exercising helps promote the hormone that is responsible for fighting aging-the human growth hormone (HGH). In our late 20s, this hormone naturally starts to decline, resulting in the loss of plumpness and radiance in our skin. So, as we age, our skin texture and appearance start to change. This hormone starts to retire at the end of your 20s! People pay fortunes to have injections which contain HGH just so they can improve the look of their skin, but the good news is that you can re-employ this hormone, and we do this simply by exercise. Exercise stimulates the production of HGH. Your body will then be producing this hormone back into your system, especially when you are exercising regularly. The result is that you boost your collagen levels, plumping up your skin, reducing fine lines and giving you back the radiance in your skin, whatever your age.
What Else Will You Get from Walking?
Increased calorie burn
Less tummy fat
Melted away muffin tips
Banished bingo wings
These and all the other amazing benefits mentioned already are why walking is about to become your number-one exercise!
Being active is important for every generation and especially for young children. This will give them the building blocks to remaining active and healthy as an adult. Whilst we need to educate our children to be active and healthy, it is essential that we make it fun for them – they are much more likely to engage in a task that means they can have fun doing it.
Here are a couple of ways in which you can get your child started by helping them understand what making healthy choices is all about.
Make a Star Chart
Get each child to design their own star chart. Decorate the edge of the chart by them writing all the words they can think of that are associated with being healthy and strong, or this could be in an additional column at one side of the chart. Design the chart to look like a weekly planner with the days of the week down the side and have 5 columns across the page, in which they can put a star or tick every time they do some form of exercise. Then in the last column get them to draw a picture of their favourite fruit or vegetable that they have eaten that day.
This is a fantastic way to keep them motivated and on track and of course the benefit is that it will also help to boost physical health as well as mental health and let’s be honest even as adults we do love a good old tick chart!
Educational Stickers or Cards
Education is key to teaching children from an early age how healthy food is going to keep them strong and healthy. This way they have the knowledge to make the healthy choices themselves later in life.
A fun way of doing this is to gather any vegetables and fruit that you have onto a table or tray and then get some stickers or cards and on each one write one of the following:
Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin K
The children then need to guess which fruit or vegetable has which vitamin in it by placing a sticker next to that item.
Here are some examples
Apples =Vitamin C
Carrots = Vitamin A
Broccoli = Vitamin K
Sweet Potato = Vitamin A
Tomatoes = Vitamin C
Peas = Vitamin B
Peppers = Vitamin C
Avocado = Vitamin E
Cucumber = Vitamin K
Strawberries = Vitamin C
Bananas = Vitamin B
Oranges = Vitamin C
Mango = Vitamin C
For an additional task they could then explain what the benefits of these vitamins are.
Vitamin A helps with eye health.
Vitamin B is good for energy.
Vitamin C boosts the immune sysyrem,
Vitamin E helps eyes, skin, and heart.
This is of course a small part of the key nutrients as the list can include all the other vitamins and minerals that are good for our health, but this is a good starting point and a fun way to generate an interest in health in an incredibly positive way.
Research has shown that how active and healthy a person is during their childhood will have a direct effect on how active and healthy they are likely to be as an adult?
With the evidence from this research, it’s clearly important to help encourage young children to exercise, but the key to success is ensuring that the children find exercise FUN! Making exercise a joy that they look forward to means they are more likely to engage with whatever the exercise you get them doing. The benefit of movement is that it helps to build a stronger heart, stronger bones, and stronger muscles, which are all a big part of healthy development and growth.
So how can you make fitness fun for kids, well the best way is turn it into a game or an adventure. Below I describe some games that adults and children can play together, and the good news is that they can all be done for free.
Game 1: “What Animal am I?”
For this all the parent needs to do is make the noise of the animal or say the animals name, then the child must guess (if a noise has been made) and then mimic the movement of the animal and do it for a count of 20. A couple of good examples are a frog, so they jump around, a bear so they crawl around, rabbit so they bounce around, snake so they belly crawl around.
Game 2: Don’t let the Balloon Drop
For this all your need is a balloon or balloons, (the more you have the harder the game). The idea is that the child must keep tapping the balloon to keep it high up in the air, when the balloon touches the ground, the game is over. If you try this one indoors make sure you put away any fragile items before you start!
Game 3: Walk the Alphabet
This is a simple game which can be done whilst out on a walk together. Starting with the letter A and then working all the way down the alphabet each of you must spot something beginning with that letter and they all must be different things for the same letter. If the child is having trouble seeing something you can give them clues and make it fun – so for each clue you give them they need to perhaps do a jump, hop or a skip. Your can always play along and get them to give you clues too as they will love seeing you hop, skip or jump too!
Game 4: Follow along to a Fitness Adventure Story
I have several of these on my YouTube Channel and the children love listening to a story whilst following along too. You can also do this with any of their favourite children’s book too and pretend to act it out – some children’s favourites are The Gruffalo series or We’re Going on A Bear Hunt.
As you can see children’s exercise can be fun and free, remember movement is a wonderful way to boost a child’s happiness, health, and energy plus you will be giving them the foundation to continuing to have a healthy lifestyle in adulthood.
You’ve been training hard; you’ve signed up to run a 5K race and you’ve got your race number. Now it’s the week of the race. So what can you do on the final few days pre-race and in the race itself so that you run your 5K to the best of your ability.
To help you with your pre-race preparation I have compiled a check list for and if you do all these, I can assure you that you will run your 5k with ease and enjoy the run.
So, let’s get started – the race preparation needs to start a few days before your race day.
Fours Day Before
Start with a dress rehearsal, decide on your running outfit, remember once you start running your body temperature increases so go for layers, then you can easily peel them off if you feel to warm. A good tip is to dress as if the temperature is 10 degrees high (as your body will increases its core temperate approximate by this amount. Head out and do a run, ensuring all your clothing is comfortable.
Start checking the weather forecast for your race day.
.Couple of Days Before
Aim to drink 8 glasses of water a from now until at least a few days after your race day. By drinking this each day, you will be getting your body fully hydrated which is super important as this is going to help fuel your body on the race day.
Eat a healthy diet (but avoid trying any new foods) a good rule of thumb is to have a slightly higher amount of carbs, as these supply your body with the required energy you will need during the race. If you’re going for pasta or rice then choose the healthiest versions, i.e., brown, or wholemeal.
Aim to get a good night’s sleep, don’t change your routine too much as this can mean you wake up to early, instead aim to be in bed and lights out 30 minutes earlier than normal.
The Morning of the Race
So, you won’t want a big breakfast and you may well have an early start. However, a good idea is to have a pre-race snack to hand if you need it and this can be a banana or a few nuts and raisins. Don’t forget your water bottle and watch/fitness tracker if you wear one.
15 Minutes before the Race
Even if a group warm up is organised, give yourself a warmup. You can do this by taking a quick brisk walk, this will be warming up your muscles and preparing your joints and body for the run ahead along with calming your mind and helping you focus on the race ahead.
3,2, and 1 and you are off. The key now is not to go to fast, as tempting as it is to sprint to stay at the front, you should try and avoid this. Think of the long-term goal which is to finish the race so for the first part of the race go at a steady speed then when you have the last 1k left of the race then if you have the energy you can go for gold and pick up your pace.
Crossing the Finish Line
As you take that step over the finish line you need to be super proud of what you have achieved, celebrate that achievement and how you have just taken a huge step (well several) in looking after your physical and mental health.
Don’t forget to do some gentle stretching after the race, this will help ensure that your muscles don’t tighten up, have a soak in the bath will also help. Plus, don’t forget to drink those 8 glasses of water for at least the next few days too.
All the above steps will help you run your 5k and do if you take on this challenge then why not take a picture of you with your race number on and let me know on social media how you got on!
Before writing this blog, I was doing some reading on obesity and was shocked to find out that 2.1 billion (yes billion!) of the world’s population are now considered to be overweight or obese!
This is now a major problem worldwide and this number is likely to increase. We seriously need to be doing something about this.
Weight loss/losing weight is one of the most searched for phrases on the internet – but what is scarier is the number of searches for weight loss tablets or green tea for weight loss. People need to understand that these will never solve the problem, as it is all down to an individual’s lifestyle. Remember, those companies making gimmicks for weight loss won’t care if you don’t lose the lbs, as they will be making the £s.
It’s time for us all to get smart. The only way to successfully lose weight is to eat clean, eat the right size portions, believe in yourself, and move more. Fact: if you try these 4 things you will see results.
As a trainer I have been pulling my hair out with utter frustration for years and years, as I see so many people suffering with weight issues and then finding that as they see no progress their weight increases because they either adopt an unhealthier eating approach or move even less, because their motivation and self-belief take a nose-dive.
I see diet companies making billions with crazy diets, and the media doing weight loss programs with a model showing off a six-pack, alongside the most unrealistic workouts, which are never going to be suitable for someone who is obese.
I feel desperately sorry for people that are misinformed, however, with the advantage of being online I am excited that I can reach out with an honest message of how for once we can address obesity.
We don’t need to go down the road of weight loss surgery, gastric bands, & so on, because it is all about teaching individuals the basics, and providing step-by-step adjustments that can be made to their lifestyle patterns.
If you are carrying extra weight the last thing you want to do is an intense workout which makes you and your body uncomfortable. Recently I saw a celebrity trainer on a tv show training some women who were all plus sized, and after posing there for the camera, they had them getting down on to the floor to do insanely hard exercises! After shaking my head in despair, I analysed what I’d seen, and I concluded that in my opinion it was all about the trainer and not about these ladies who wanted to lose weight. The sad thing is that if someone who is overweight finds themselves in this type of scenario then they are likely to be put off exercise for life after being asked to attempt such a ridiculous choice of workout.
Instead of posing for the camera, that trainer could have worn something to make them feel comfortable so that the ladies were less inclined to be self-conscious of their shape and size and start to compare their bodies with that of the trainers. Then the trainer should have got them all out for a walk and chatted to them whilst out, about what they wanted, what they found hard with exercising and then start to educate them, by means of a doable workout and some healthy eating tips to get them started. But that wasn’t the case, and I imagine that it was more about the trainer increasing their profile and gaining more followers on various social media platforms rather than helping this group of ladies!
I don’t normally rant, but when I see this, it really gets to me, because it is the people struggling with weight issues that we need to help, and yes, I am now talking about that 2.1 billion worldwide. So, this is how I would go about addressing this worldwide issue.
First, we must be positive about this and accept that we can address the issue, if we have a positive mindset we will get results, whilst a negative one tells us we can’t, and therefore, we give up before we have even started!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this can be solved by a quick fix with a drastic diet, which may solve the issue short term but as soon as that diet is over the weight is likely to start creeping back on again unless you have also learnt about the crucial elements of adopting a healthy lifestyle. It is all about learning how to make healthy nutritious food choices, try cutting down on sugar and make sure any snacks are healthy and a key factor too is learning about getting the portion sizes right.
Then whether you call it exercise, fitness, or just healthy activity, simply moving about more is too overlooked when it comes to weight loss. As a trainer, if someone is obese, I would not suggest they do any exercises which are going to make them, and their joints feel uncomfortable. The perfect choice for getting started is with some gentle home indoor walking workouts.
These are low-impact and terrific way to burn calorie and most importantly are DOABLE – yes, this is the magic word, and I will say it again DOABLE. So, start off doing some gentle indoor walking workouts, these are quick and usually can be done be in just 15 minutes. By starting to move more you will start to see some weight loss and with each walk that people do, the fitter they get, and as the weight starts coming off, it becomes a positive spiral. Then when you are comfortable and walking more you can look at trying some of the other simple standing or seated workouts before you know it this kind of simple and DOABLE exercise routine becomes a lifestyle.
So, the way to tackle this for the 2.1 billion is not to go down the failing road of gimmicks (pills, drastic diets, or surgery), but instead just add a little determination, and a lot of education, along with more movement and the right size portions. That is how we can then start to tackle obesity.
I have specially created a Plus Size, 4-week plan, and have seen clients get results. I also have some walking workouts on my YouTube channel. As a trainer with over 25 years’ experience, helping tens of thousands of people lose weight, believe me I know what works, and the most important thing every trainer should remember is to make someone feel good from the start.
As a teenager, in addition to becoming more independent, you are likely to start being more aware of your body, the changes that are occurring and maybe even comparing your physical shape to others, either those that are in your school, friendship group, family or even those whom you see via social media.
During this time that it’s so important that you remember that everybody is different, each and every one of us is unique and this needs to be celebrated. Do you know how amazing that is? Just think about it – out of 7 billion people in the world not one other person has your hair, your teeth, your brains, your face, your personality, or your fingerprints – it’s time to start appreciating this and celebrating uniqueness not perfection.
A very famous man and former President of the USA, Theodore Roosevelt, said a long time ago that “Comparison is the thief of Joy”. This is so true and supports what I said at the beginning of this post, let us embrace who we are and learn to love who we are!
As a teenager this is such a crucial message for you to hear. With social media now, there is so much pressure to look a certain way, get more likes and of course compare yourself to others, but by doing this you can damage your self-confidence, happiness, and health. You can end up being so worried about being perfect rather than unique that it can damage not only your physical health but your mental health too. Whilst social media can be great in many ways, for keeping in touch with friends, enjoying the places that people visit or finding people to follow who inspire you, it can also have a very dark side. It is important to understand that and be aware of how easy it is to get swept along with the picture of perfection. The truth of the matter is that if you are wishing to look like someone else, then the chances are they will also be wishing they looked like some else too!
As teenagers it is important that you embrace your uniqueness and start to focus on you, to have a healthy lifestyle which includes not only your physical health but your mental health too. So how can you do this – well below are a few tips to get you started.
Tip 1: Focus on what you love about yourself.
Think about what you love about yourself, this can be anything at all –
is it the colour of your hair?
your strong nails?
your legs? as they keep you moving.
No matter who we are we can all dig deep and find something we like about ourselves. Once you have thought about what you love, think about why you love these things. For example, do you love you legs as they help you run or dance, your hair as it feels good when it blows in the wind, or your eyes because they allow you to see everything around you.
Tip 2: Change your focus
So instead of focusing on what your body looks like, start thinking about what your body can actually do. Whilst your nose may be a shape that you love or loathe just think that without it you wouldn’t be able to smell the changes in the seasons, someone’s perfume or aftershave, your favourite meal being cooked or the smell of flowers in the garden and what about all the amazing parts of your body that you can’t actually see – seriously what about your heart – it is amazing when you think about it, this muscle beats about 100, 000 times a day, doesn’t that deserve a “like”.
Tip 3: Sleep
As a teenager you may think that you can keep going for hours with little sleep, but the truth is that the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is 8-10 hours per day. During this time, your body recharges itself so that it can keep you going and enjoy all the activities you do on a daily basis.
Tip 4: Eat Healthy (and maybe with family too).
Ensure that you eat healthily, do not just eat what everyone else likes to fit in – if you like olives, fish, certain vegetables, and fruit then eat them, just because others don’t enjoy then why should you miss out on eating what you like. Whilst you may rather eat hidden away in your bedroom or den, taking mouthfuls of food in between interacting with friends on-line do not make it a habit, make it a treat. Whilst you may not always want to eat with family like you use to – it can be enjoyable, fun, and sociable. A time when you can be you!
So, my wish is that as teenagers we are taught to love who we are and remove the pressure to look a certain way and dare I say that instead of idolizing the people who take part in Reality TV Shows, aspire to be like the athlete like Emma Raducanu or Professor Sarah Gilbert the woman who helped design the oxford vaccine.
Remember that the key to happiness is genuinely loving who we are!