The Female Revolution

Finally sitting down to write another blog post after a whirlwind first few weeks back at work, but what few weeks it has been! I have been delivering lots of taster sessions for new members, signing up some awesome new clients and re-grouping with some of the amazing people I have been working with for a while. I mainly train females and I absolutely love working with such as diverse and amazing group of women on a daily basis, I honestly have an incredible set of clients.

The thing that is REALLY exciting me at the moment is the goals my ladies are aspiring to achieve. Over the last couple of weeks, I have barely heard the sentence “I want to lose weight and tone up”. Instead, I have women telling me their goal is to get into weight training, to understand how to build strength and muscle, to learn how to look after themselves for both physical and mental wellbeing, to get fitter & stronger and to smash some new performance goals. THIS IS THE STUFF THAT GETS ME OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING!!!

Over my time as a trainer, I have had so many women come in to see me unhappy with the way they look, constantly wanting to change something and quite simply talking about themselves like they would their worst enemy. Slowly I have been trying to change this perception, to get women to appreciate and respect their bodies and to set themselves different goals that don’t mean they are defined by their weight. Finally, I am starting to feel like I am making change.

The thing is that I myself came to the realisation during lockdown that I am almost 30 and couldn’t think of a single time I have been 100% happy with my body until recently. This shift in mindset has been so ingrained in me over the years that I almost feel like a fraud for trying to get others to think better about themselves when I too am hating the person in the mirror. This last year I have been battling my inner demons to be a more positive powerhouse both to myself and to others, and its working! Personally I am focussing on performance related goals and striving to fuel my body to be the fittest and healthiest version of myself, not neglecting it. I have made changes to the way I think about my weight, about what it actually means and have learnt to absolutely cherish the body I have been given, because I have wasted so many years of my life denying it.

Now, I am starting to be a part of a whole culture shift and it is so exciting! I am working on helping women embrace their bodies, grow to love weight training and the benefits it can bring, changing their mindset and relationship with food and pushing people further than they thought was possible. I might be a bit of a small fish in a very big pond but I feel in my little patch of this world we are really creating a mini movement and it’s so bloody inspiring.

Now, more so than ever, I am absolutely laser focussed on my mission and I am hoping over the next few months I will be able to share some amazing client success stories and hopefully continue to share my knowledge and personal experience to help you all.

I would love to hear from you all and share some positive stories. Us women need to talk more, share more and help to inspire and motivate others to join the revolution, because ladies… it has begun!!

Lots of Love

CK

The Gyms Are Back Again!

So last night before bed I set my 4:30am alarm for the first time in months and IT FELT GREAT! Although I didn’t have the best night sleep because I spent most of it worrying that I would miss the alarm, when I woke up I was excited and eager to get going! After what felt like another very long lockdown I was finally back at work and in the gym today.  Unfortunately, my business, just like many others, has taken a hit, but already I am beginning to fill my diary with potential new clients as well as booking back in some of the amazing people I have already been training.

Come 6am we had people queuing to get in, it was just so lovely to see so many people enthusiastic and buzzing to come back. The atmosphere in the gym today was one of real happiness which was great to see! For me it was the best feeling to be interacting with people again, something which I absolutely thrive on and have missed so much! Of course, there was the die-hard early starters I see all the time, but it was good to see a lot of new faces in the gym today as well, all with fresh new goals which I hope they absolutely smash over the coming months!

Today I actually kept my diary pretty empty as I have learnt from experience of these lockdowns that it’s nice to just get back into the gym environment, get your admin and ducks in a row and almost reassess the lay of the land, as well as lift some weights and get back into it myself!

At 7:30am I taught my first outdoor class. It was full to capacity and as I stood waiting for the class to start, chatting to members, it took me back to when I first started this job, the feeling that I am in the exact place I should be right now, doing what I love! It’s amazing how much energy you have to put into motivating 20 people in the freezing snow at 7:30am to get the best out of them, but it is the best feeling when you do!

The gym is very well organised for COVID. My gym has sanitising stations all around with notes to ensure everyone wipes their kit at the end of use, the equipment is distanced/some kit not in use to allow for social distancing to be practiced and generally everyone seems very comfortable with being back and following the rules! Of course, indoor classes are not due to start until at least May so for now there is just the gym floor to enjoy (and the pool of course).  I wanted to flag this because I know for a lot of people, they are still a little hesitant to come back. Of course, the first few days are going to be busy, but generally I have found with these lockdowns that after a couple of weeks the natural ebbs and flows of people tends to settle down into peak and off-peak times so you can definitely find a good time to train for you.

I also mentioned all of the wonderful new faces I saw today which got me to thinking that many of you may have just joined a gym! I have mentioned this in a blog post before but most gyms offer an induction for new joiners to help them learn more about the equipment and give you advice on what to do for your goals. This is usually with one of the gyms trainers and I really recommend you book in a session as this will help you feel a bit more confident using the gym. You may even meet an AMAZING PT who inspires you to take up some 1:1 training (that is me for any of you reading from my club😊 ha!)

I finished off the day by picking up some weights myself, they felt HEAVY! Just like the advice I have given you all, I took my time today to see where I am on a few of my lifts as part of a full body weights session. My current plan is to do 3 full body sessions a week in total. For those new to the gym or looking to generally build/maintain muscle this should be enough sessions to begin with while you build up. I usually do more weighted sessions a week personally, but I am currently on a different secret squirrel training mission which I am hoping I can share with you all soon! Before I even started, I felt like my muscles were saying they were sore, so I dread to think how tomorrow will feel! All jokes aside you may find for the first few weeks of being back at the gym you will feel a very stiff and sore as your body gets used to lifting weights again. Make sure you allow for adequate rest days and listen to your body!

One final thing from me… I know it is probably tempting for most of you to jump straight back on the gym scales and asses the ‘damage’ of lockdown but I’ve got two thoughts on this; firstly don’t use the word damage, lockdown was tough enough without beating yourself up with negative self-talk and secondly, why not take a couple of weeks just to reignite or inspire a new love for training, enjoy the different environment and the new challenges that may lie ahead and see this whole process as a brand new fresh start for you to come in smashing it! This is not to say you can’t weigh yourself, but maybe try and take the emphasis away from the scales for the time being.

So, if you are heading back to the gym this week, I wish you luck and PLEASE ENJOY YOURSELF!! Take it easy to start with and just relish the simplicity of being able to train in a new environment which isn’t your house! If you are unsure as to if you feel comfortable returning to your gym, it may be worth calling or emailing in to see what COVID measures have been put in place, but from my personal experience I think gyms are doing the best they can. If you currently don’t go to a gym but are thinking of starting GO FOR IT!! It could be the kick start you need to smash your 2021 goals.

Anyway, a more reflective and slightly self-indulgent blog today about my day but I was just so excited to be back and I wanted to share it with you all.

Keep Fit, Keep Active & Keep Doing YOU!!

Lots of Love,

(A Very Tired) CK          

Cheat Days

The word “cheat” in relation to food should be banned.

Saying this word means that we are immediately adding negative connotations to the foods we eat. What then happens is our words expand to “oh I was naughty at the weekend” or “I was really BAD yesterday”.

Fundamentally we are attributing our emotional responses to our food. It is not the food itself that causes this, there isn’t foods out there that have a soul purpose of making you feel like crap. It is simply our perception and reaction to certain foods that we have programmed ourselves. Therefore, it is really important to shift from this mindset and stop associating these words to the foods we eat. Period.

So, when we talk about “cheat days” we are really talking about days where we consume more calories than usual. No food is inherently bad, we could simply plot them all on a sliding scale of more nutritious & less nutritious.

Naturally those who use the word “cheat days/meals” are generally on a diet. What tends to happen is that people severely restrict their calories throughout the week, to then consume a highly calorific meal at the weekend. When we restrict so much during the week, we are far more likely to go overboard because our body is craving food, we feel we have earned it (again not a word I love to use) and we place too much emphasis and focus on it. The next thing that happens can unfold in 2 ways:

  1. We fall off the wagon – We think because we have consumed way more, we have blown everything and there is no point carrying on so we may as well just eat like there is no tomorrow
  2. We feel guilt, shame and anger – This is the vicious energy cycle of word association. We call it ‘cheat’ we go enjoy ourselves and eat what we like… then we feel like trash because we feel we have let ourselves down or we shouldn’t have done it, hate ourselves for a few days, go back into starve mode and then do it all over again next weekend.

Just to be clear both of these cycles are extremely damaging and overtime can lead to long term relationship issues with food.

So, let me try and change your thought process, or at least give you something to think about….

  • Weight loss – Rethink your relationship with calories

It is true that in order to lose weight your energy balance must be greater out than in. The problem is that everyone wants a quick fix and so drop their calories to SILLY amounts to lose weight fast. Adding to this are the calorie tracking/fitness apps that give you the option of how quickly you want to lose weight (of course we all go ASAP) and then output the lowest number possible which people follow. I recommend more of a moderate calorie deficit and rather than thinking of this being Monday – Friday and then a “cheat day” at the weekend think of every day as the same and implement moderation. For example, following a moderate calorie deficit I could enjoy a glass of wine and a dinner out on a Friday night by having a few less snacks on the days leading up to this or a lighter lunch the next day. However, if I sink back a whole bottle and a whopping 3 course meal it would mean I would have to barely eat for a few days to make this back up which I do not recommend!! Does this sound like a healthy balance to you? Hopefully you see my point?!

  • Wording – Rethink how you speak to yourself

Stop applying negative connotations to food. Think about what you say before you say it. If you find yourself saying “oh I was naughty” … why were you naughty? Or “this food is bad” … why is it bad?  You need to start challenging your own self talk and understand that your relationship with food is important. You need to stop putting foods into good or bad lists and instead remember the sliding scale.

We all need to educate ourselves more on how to be healthy not to be skinny!

  • Goals – Review & Reflect

I understand weight loss goals but I don’t always agree with them.  Although many of us have a particular weight we aspire to get to, we must remember this doesn’t define us. I see this with clients… overtime they are getting fitter, healthier, stronger and feel amazing, only to jump on the scales, not see the number they want and feel like utter sh*t again. We must understand that there is more to life than the number staring back at us and to not place so much emphasis and emotion to it. Make sure you have other goals to push towards, things that really matter! Perhaps you want to get fitter so you can spend more time outdoors with your kids, or you want to eat healthier so you have better energy and sleep…. The list is endless.

  • Food – Enjoy it and understand it

Please enjoy your meals and make sure you eat a wide variety of different foods inclusive of the things you enjoy. Make sure you take time to understand food and nutrition more. Half the problem is that people don’t really know much other than what they hear in the media or watch on the TV. Try and learn more about what you are putting in your body, you’ll feel more empowered by your decisions this way.

Hopefully by reading this you can tell it’s a subject I am quite passionate about. I would love to hear your thoughts & comments. My messages and Instagram DM’s are always open for anyone struggling or wanting to know more.

Lots of Love

CK

Primal Movement Patterns

Most of us know that it is important to move our bodies, we also know that we can move our body in lots of different ways, but have you ever taken time to really consider the way our bodies move in detail and how this can we can relate this to our training?

You may have heard some trainers talk about functional training. Put simply this involves movements that are based on real life situations and biomechanics. Generally, it will involve multiple different muscle groups. Functional training focuses on primal movements over training with a focus specifically on individual muscles.

I am quite passionate about functional training using primal movements because the most important thing in my job is to give people a better quality of life through exercise. By selecting and prescribing exercises which will improve their ability to move, they will be able to see benefits in their every day life.

Roll the clock back to caveman times…. When we think about human evolution our ability to move, adapt and survive has been fundamental to our success. Over time we have developed specialised functions in order to survive and have had to adapt to particular environments. Back in the day this would have been examples like moving large boulders, being able to turn fast to react to sounds or squatting down behind a large tree to hide from predators. These days we use primal movements when we reach into a cupboard for a glass, get in and out of our cars, sit down in a meeting or bend down to pick up our shopping and go for a run.

There are 7 primal movements. We development & learn these movements soon after birth and we rely on them throughout our lives in order to be able to live well. The best way to think of it is that our body is works together as one entire unit. These movements become the building blocks of every move we make and therefore it is important o understand them and also perform them correctly.

If we neglect our movement patterns or don’t correct any improper movement, we will over time cause damage to our bodies. Many of us have poor form when performing these movements and it is important, we correct these through training in order to alleviate pain, reduce the risk of injury and ensure we move well for as long as possible!

So, what are the primal movement patterns?

  1. Squat

Squatting involves our ability to both hinge at the hip and bend in the knees whilst keeping our chest up and back straight. This is one of the most commonly known movements and something we do every day when we sit down in a chair. Exercises which relate to this primal movement in the gym include goblet squats, back squats, front squats etc.

2. Lunge

Lunging involves our ability to balance as we step a leg away from the body and then bring it back to the midline. This can be in different directions such as forward, back and side. An example of when we use lunging in our every day life could be when we are fixing something low to the ground or getting up from being on our knees. Exercises which relate to this primal movement in the gym include side lunges, reverse lunges, overhead lunges etc.

3. Push

Push exercises are when we push weight away from our body or from our centre of mass. There are 2 types of push movements: horizontal and vertical. Examples in our every day life would be pushing a box overhead to put it away on a shelf (vertical), pushing a wardrobe into place (Horizontal) or pushing ourself up off the ground (horizontal) which is something we learn very early on as a baby. Exercises which relate to this primal movement in the gym include press ups (horizontal), shoulder press (vertical), bench press (horizontal

4. Pull

We can either pull weight towards us or pull ourselves towards an object, and just like push movements this can be both horizontal and vertical pull. When we were younger, we would often pull ourselves up on a table to stand but we also using pulling to bring things closer to us such as pulling a rope attached to an object. Exercises which relate to this primal movement in the gym include seated row (horizontal), pull ups (vertical), Lat pull down (Vertical)

5. Twist

Twisting gives us the ability to rotate, to turn our bodies to look in different direction and move accordingly. There are two different types of rotation we can achieve and that is rotation and anti-rotation. Naturally anti-rotation is when we resist against the body rotating. We twist to look behind us and to move things from one side to another. An example of anti-rotation is when we are trying to hold something steady that is pulling us in a certain direction. Exercises which relate to this primal movement in the gym include Russian twists (rotation), Palov Press (anti-rotation), wood chops (rotation).

6. Bend

Also sometimes known as hinging, this movement is where we pivot and bend at the hips which in turn leans the body forward. This is by far one of the most complicated movement patterns to learn and many people often get this wrong which leads to injuries, especially lower back pain. We use this movement every day when we pick things off the ground or lift heavy objects such as shopping backs or suitcases. The most important thing to remember is to maintain a neutral spine (which put simply means a straight back) when lifting. Exercises which relate to this primal movement in the gym include deadlifts, RDL (Romanian Dead Lift).

7. Gait

Our most commonly used movement is our gait. This includes things such as walking and running and uses a combination of some of the other movements above in order to be able to happen. Every time you go out for a walk you will be working on this of course and just the same as the other movements it is important that we get it right!

I really hope you found this interesting, and I am hoping for some there will be new information or perhaps things you may not have thought about when moving before. The one takeaway from this is that EXERCISE IS ALL ABOUT MOVEMENT!  That is why in my opinion focussing on movement patterns and ensuring you cover all of these bases in a well-rounded programme is a winning combination!

Lots of Love

CK

Imposter Syndrome

So today I opened by blog page up and saw I’ve hit 100 followers and I’m absolutely BUZZING! 😊

Thank you so much to everyone who has been following, liking, sharing, commenting and reading it honestly means so much! It has also given me the perfect inspiration for my post today.

Just under a year ago in lockdown 1.0 I decided to start up this blog and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I procrastinated and put off setting it up and writing my first post. I can still remember all of the thoughts that were going through my head at the time:

  • Why would anyone want to read what I have to say?
  • Do I even have anything interesting to write about?
  • So many other people know more than me
  • Can I write about things I am not an ‘expert’ in?
  • Will people negatively comment on my posts?
  • I am so bad at writing and grammar people will just think I am an idiot
  • I am embarrassed people are going to judge me

I have to be honest I would say the first 10 posts were a real struggle because I was overthinking everything, I kept avoiding writing a new post because it felt too hard, I kept worrying I was talking too much about myself and not helping others enough and put simply I just felt totally out of my depth. Then I remembered a podcast I listened to on a walk the other day which spoke about imposter syndrome. I remember listening to this podcast and having one of those penny drop moments in my brain. I suffer from this ALL OF THE TIME! As it resonated with me so much, I decided to do a bit more research on it and make it my blog topic for today. Hopefully by the end of this you’ll understand what imposter syndrome is, why we may experience it, the classic signs and how we can work to improve our mindset.

Imposter syndrome refers to an internal feeling of not being worthy or competent enough of the success we may be having in life, or undeserving of the esteem in which others hold us in. In other words, we feel like a bit of a fraud and this can be not only in terms of our intelligence and our achievements but also our social status. Although imposter syndrome to my knowledge is not a clinically recognised disorder it is believed that many of us over a lifetime will experience these feelings and for some, they may be persistent over time.

There are many factors which can influence imposter syndrome, firstly our backgrounds can play a role and it may be that those who come from higher achieving families are more susceptible to developing these thoughts. Changes to our environment can also play a role for example changing jobs, opening a new business and starting a family to name a few as well as new challenges we may face such as a promotion or even something smaller like starting a blog! Finally, those who already suffer with higher levels of anxiety may be more at risk of developing negative thoughts around their success.

There are many different signs to look out for with imposter syndrome. These include:

  • Self-doubt and a lack of self confidence
  • Fear of failure stopping you from progressing or achieving further
  • Believing your success is due to external factors and mostly just luck
  • Fear of not living up to people’s expectations of you
  • Being unable to realistically evaluate your own abilities and achievements
  • Unshakable feelings of being a phony

If you are sitting there nodding your head to many of these the chances are you may be experiencing imposter syndrome. But what can we do to change our thought process?

The good news is there any many different ways we can begin to remove that imposter from our mindset, but like everything it does take time, patience and practice. Try to implement some of the following in your every day and particularly when you feel those negative thoughts arising:

  • Be aware of the signs – It’s important to simply be aware of when we are displaying signs of imposter syndrome and be able to implement some of the mechanisms discussed here at the source
  • Share your feelings – Something I am PANTS at but have been really trying to work on this year is just letting it all out to someone I trust. It’s amazing what a bit of rational talk from someone you love can do to help you reassess your thought process
  • Write things down – Sit down and write exactly how you are feeling down on paper and then against each point write your evidence against the thought… for example:
    • THOUGHT = “I don’t feel I know enough to be a good PT”
    • RESPONSE = Nutrition degree, Strength & conditioning qualification, over 1500 session experience, books I’ve read, positive client feedback

This allows us to challenge some of the deepest ingrained thoughts we visibility see our achievements on paper.

  • Keep pushing towards your goal – One of the biggest things with imposter syndrome is the feeling that because we are not good enough or we fear the failure we sometimes give up on our goals. This in turn further exacerbates those feelings because we aren’t achieving anything! Make sure you set realistic goals for yourself and also write step by step the ways you will achieve them (baby steps).
  • Comparison is the thief of joy – I love this saying! STOP comparing yourself to others, every single person has a unique set of skills so make sure you are focussing on what YOU can bring to the world and not what other people are. This is especially true if you are working in a competitive industry. Yet again I mention social media as this is where most of us seem to make our comparisons. Make sure you take time away from your phone and really connect with yourself! Also ensure you are portraying a real version of yourself to others on social platforms. Authenticity will help you feel like the real deal. 

I am hoping that some of you reading this will have that penny drop moment that I did when I first heard about this and are now able to really start to implement some changes to become ‘imposter free’.  It’s not easy to re-wire our thoughts but even just to recognise, understand and make small changes is a great stop on the way.

Again, from me a huge thank you to those supporting my blogs and content it really means the world! If you are enjoying them please like, share & comment 😊

Lots of love

CK

EAT VS NEAT

First things first I am sure the question a lot of you are asking is what the hell is NEAT and EAT. Well, these acronyms relate to the different types of movement we complete in a day. It is important to understand the difference between the two and also how these both contribute towards our daily energy expenditure. So, what do they both mean…?

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

NEAT encompasses every day movement we undertake that is outside of our planned exercise. This includes things such as walking to work, getting out of bed, walking up the stairs, fidgeting, bending to pick something up… the list is endless. Even the most trivial activities can increase our metabolic rate and impact our daily expenditure. Naturally some peoples NEAT will be higher than others based on their lifestyle, job, environment, genetics etc. As a good example, manual workers will have a higher NEAT than those in a desk-based job as they are constantly moving around throughout the day. We often never really think about our NEAT in relation to our total daily expenditure and people certainly don’t give it much gravitas when it comes to losing weight and ‘calorie burn’, when in reality increasing your NEAT can make a big difference!

Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)

EAT therefore is our planned exercise, for example going to the gym, for a run or to a yoga class. Of course, there are hundreds of different ways to exercise but the key to EAT is that it is something we have planned to do. Naturally this planned activity is the first thing people tend to focus on when it comes to weight loss, however you will later read just how much this activity contributes to our daily expenditure and perhaps think twice about being so fixated on connecting calorie consumption to exercise specifics.

So how do these two activity types contribute to our daily exergy expenditure?

So, our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the sum of our NEAT, EAT, basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the thermic effect of food (TEF) we consume. Quickly touching on the two we haven’t covered, our BMR is the calories we burn every day when we are at rest. Our bodies need a certain number of calories to complete their day-to-day essential functions such as breathing, digesting, brain function and activity and even just keeping our heart pumping. Even when we are lying down doing absolutely nothing our body is still having to burn calories to simply keep us alive. Finally, the thermic effect of food equates to the calories we burn through digestion of the foods we eat. Some foods require more energy to digest than others for example protein. All of these combined make our TDEE and we often use this to calculate people’s total calorie intake for either weight loss, gain or maintenance. Put simply you need to consume less calories than your TDEE to lose weight or more to gain weight. On average our BMR contributes to around 70% of our TDEE, our NEAT 15%, TEF, 10% and EAT only 5%.

How can you increase your NEAT?

You may be surprised to see that your planned exercise contributes such a small amount to your TDEE and actually your NEAT can play a bigger role than you first thought. We’ve already established that our NEAT varies from person to person, however many of us could benefit from increasing our NEAT not only for those looking to lose weight but also to help with our general health and fitness. There are many ways we can increase our NEAT and can be as simple as some of the following:

  1. Getting up from your desk a few times a day to move around
  2. Cleaning the house
  3. Cooking
  4. Taking stairs instead of lift
  5. Walking instead of driving or parking further away from your location to add some more steps in
  6. Increasing your daily step count
  7. Gardening
  8. Taking the dog for a walk

So, let’s all move a little more every day😊

Lots of Love

CK

Running

It’s safe to say that the Corona virus pandemic has sparked a new running phenomenon in the UK, with hundreds of people taking to the streets for their daily exercise. Personally, I think it is great that people are finding new ways of moving and although it’s sometimes really annoying having to weave in and out of people constantly, I do always think fair play to everyone who is out there! The problem however is that a lot of people are experiencing injuries or pushing their bodies too far too soon. Therefore, I am dedicating todays blog to helping those who may be new to all of this, with some simple ways to improve their running.

Build up your Fitness

If you are completely new to running it is ALWAYS best to start small and build up your distance or times. What you generally tend to find is people get over excited and try and smash out a 5km straight away or perhaps go running every day thinking this is the best way to do it, only to then stop because they have either hurt or exhausted themselves. Starting small can be as simple as a few brisk walks a week to build up your fitness or alternating running and walking days to give the body a chance to recover whilst still working on your fitness levels. If you generally live a very sedentary life remember that your body will not be used to moving this way and so it will put a lot of strain on the muscles and joints initially as they get used to the movements. Secondly a good way of regressing your runs initially is to use a combination of running and walking across your set distance. There are a lot of apps out there which help with this including the Couch to 5km.

Get Good Shoes

 It is really important to wear a good pair of running shoes that suit the shape of your foot and provide both support and comfort when running. There are hundreds of different running trainers on the market so ensure you take the time to find what is best for you. It may mean spending a little more than you had planned, but it is imperative to get your shoe right to save any nasty injuries over time. There are lots of specialist running shops which can help to analyse your gait and recommend the best shoes for you. It is also important to bear in mind that shoes do wear over time so you may need to replace your running shoes every so often to ensure you are still getting the support you require.

Warm Up & Cool Down

Something I am sure ALL of us have been guilty is failing to warm up or cool down. Before we begin our run, we should do around a 5-minute warm up which could include a few light bodyweight squats and lunges and a brisk walk, slowly increasing to a jog and then into our main run. The objective of a warm up is to increase our heart rate, increase blood flow around the body to the muscles and prepare the body for the exercise ahead. Once we have finished our run we mustn’t forget to cool down, slowly coming back to a walking pace allowing our heart rate and breathing to return to normal. We should also finish with some static stretches focussing on the main muscles worked (quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes to name a few). This will help to prevent injury and alleviate some soreness post run.

Listen to your body

Injuries tend to occur when we ignore our body’s warning signs and try to ‘push through’ any pain or discomfort we are feeling. I hear a lot of people coming into the gym with running based injuries and more often than not they say they felt pain during their run but continued on to see if it would ‘ease up’ or heal over time. Our body has pain signals and receptors for a reason and it is important to listen to these. If you notice a pain when running ease off and finish your run slightly earlier, ensuring you stretch well. If the pain continues with running it may be best to get this checked with an expert. Running can be quite high impact so it is always best to be safe😊

Set Realistic Goals

Bear in mind that although setting goals is important, we should make sure they are realistic and achievable, otherwise you may lose interest or become disheartened and give up on running entirely. If you are new to running, perhaps set a goal of achieving 2 X 20 minute runs a week, or a short distance run. As you build in confidence and ability you can then adapt your goal accordingly, perhaps aiming for a specific set distance (e.g. 5km,10km, half marathon) or achieving a set distance in a certain time. I have written a whole post on setting goals and sticking to them you can read if you need more advice on this.

Strength Training

Including some weight training sessions in your week can positively improve your running in a number of ways. Firstly, weight training can help to reduce the risk of injury by strengthening the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints. This is particularly important for our core and leg muscles. It can also help to improve any muscular imbalances which may be affecting our running technique and overall form, thus improving our efficiency. Secondly It can help us to deal with the stresses of running, as our muscles our able to perform better under fatigue and can improve our overall running pace. If you are unsure of where to start it is always best to seek the advice of an expert for the best strength training programme for you.

So, get out there and enjoy the wind in your hair! 😊 …just remember…Look after your body and it will look after you!

Lots of Love

CK

Restrictive Dieting

I have touched on dieting in a number of ways on my social platforms but today I wanted to really focus on restrictive dieting. This is something I see and hear a lot and has many negative health implications.

Naturally I believe that with any diet there is going to be a level of ‘restriction’ and therefore it perhaps isn’t the best word to use. We may choose to restrict the number of calories we consume, or the time of day we eat, or the types of food we choose. All of these in MODERATION can be an effective way to diet and lose weight. However, the type of restriction I want to talk about today are those diets where you go extremely low on calories, you cut out multiple major food groups or you may substitute foods for alternative options such as shakes or juices. It’s these types of diets that in my opinion can lead to very destructive behaviours and also have some real negative health implications on the body.

To quickly highlight on some of these, firstly when we reduce our calories to an extremely low level, we put our body under a lot of strain to continue to run as it should with less energy to be able to do so. This can lead to a constant feeling of hunger and exhaustion. It’s like asking our car to take a long journey with no fuel in its tank, in time it will just stop. Secondly what you generally find with these extremely low-calorie diets is that we restrict multiple different foods. You may visualise a diet of skipping breakfast and eating bowls of salad leaves for lunch and dinner, then still expecting our body to function adequately! The other type of diet similar to this of course is substituting foods for alternatives like ‘diet shakes’ or juices. I personally believe that there is absolutely NO REASON to swap your meals for drinks and I would always advise against this myself.

When we choose to partake in these diets, especially over a long period of time, there are a number of health implications to consider. Firstly, we can become deficient in a number of different nutrients due to the restriction of certain foods groups and lack of variety in our diet. This may play out in a number of ways including effecting our appearance and body structure. We may begin to notice our skin getting worse, poor nail quality and our hair becoming brittle and dry. We will also feel extremely lethargic making every day tasks feel a lot harder than they should. We may find we feel the need to sleep more as our body goes into a type of preservation mode. With our body not receiving adequate calories and nutrients we will also begin to see a loss in muscle mass and a weakening of our bones. For women especially, dropping calories and weight significantly can cause disruption in our monthly cycles. If sustained over time this may lead to amenorrhea (a lack of menstruation). Of course, it is quite obvious that with a lower energy and nutrient profile our immune system will be lowered, making us more vulnerable to illness. Alongside all of this we will experience massive fluctuations in our mood which can affect both ourselves and others around us. Finally, and probably my most important point is that with these types of diets we create a negative relationship with food. This relationship can continue far beyond the completion of your diet and can lead to years of food avoidance, yo-yo dieting and even disordered eating.

The problem is that all of us want a quick fix and overnight results, which I believe is partly down to the instant gratification society we live in these days. I truly believe that dieting should be a slow and sustainable process, which promotes positive relationships with food, educating and allowing people to fully understand what they are putting into their body and why. We only get one body in this life, so we should look after it in the in the best way we can.

Before you begin any diet ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I working off a quick fix model or could I sustain this diet over time?
  2. Does this diet include all the major food groups and is there enough variety?
  3. How will this diet make me feel both mentally and physically?
  4. Have I tried something similar before and how has it made me feel/did it work over time?
  5. Have I considered other options before beginning this diet/have I sought expert advice before I begin?

My plea to you all is to really consider what you are asking your body to do before you begin a diet. Be realistic with your goals, be sustainable and consistent with your eating, understand what you are putting into your body and why and remember these things take time.

Anyone struggling my inbox is always open!

Lots of love

CK `       

Why should we lift weights?

It isn’t uncommon to hear that people tend to avoid weights when they come to the gym. I have heard many different reasons for this, firstly they feel intimidated by others who seem to know more than them, secondly, they may be unsure of how to use the machines or what to do with the free weights and finally it may be because they just don’t know the benefits of weight training. Whatever the reason I always make it my mission to convert people because there are so many health benefits associated with weight training, so hopefully after reading todays blog you are also converted!

Before we discuss the benefits, I just want to quickly touch on a couple of the points above in terms of people avoiding weight training at the gym. The main thing I always say to my clients is the more you do it the more confident you become, which seems obvious but actually after a few weeks of training together I am always so happy when I see a client doing their own session in the weights area and smashing it!! It is also important to note that at the gym I guarantee you almost everyone there is solely interested in themselves. I know it can be a very daunting and intimidating environment, but the more time you spend in the gym the more you realise that everyone really is on their own planet and there isn’t any judgement from others (and if there is someone judging others, they probably need to take a look in the mirror and focus on themselves more). Finally, if that still hasn’t given you confidence in the gym it is important to remember that we can do weight training at home, especially if you are a beginner! With a very small amount of kit, you can begin your weight training journey starting with bodyweight exercises such as squats, press ups etc. These exercises can all be adapted to suit different levels. With just a couple of dumbbells you can add a vast array of weighted exercises to your home workouts to help build and maintain muscle mass depending on level.

So, with all of that being said let’s crack on with understanding just how beneficial weight training can be:

  1. Improves bone density – As we get older, we begin to lose bone density, our bones become more fragile and thus more likely to break. Weight training can positively impact our bone density and so it is particularly important in the older generation.
  2. Strengthens our muscles, tissue and tendons – It goes without saying that weight training can improve our muscular strength but we may also forget that it can also strengthen the tendons and tissues surrounding our muscles which support our joints and bones and help to reduce risk of injury.
  3. Improves balance and posture – When weight training, we can work the muscles which help to keep us stable and upright such as our legs and core. By strengthening these muscles, we can improve stability and help towards improving balance. Weight training can also help to eliminate muscular imbalances and work on improving posture based on individual needs.
  4. Increased fat free mass – Our lean muscle mass decreases with age and so weight training can become even more important as we get older to help maintain our lean muscle tissue and compensate for our natural losses.
  5. Greater energy expenditure – Muscle has a higher calorie requirement than fat meaning the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn each day (higher resting energy expenditure).
  6. Better quality of life – Alongside all of the above weight training can simply improve our quality of life. It can help to make us strong which can make all our day-to-day activities much easier, can help with weight management and can also boost energy and improve mood releasing those feel-good endorphins.

So hopefully by now you are well and truly converted! Now where do you begin?

If you are new to weight training it is always best to start slowly. When the gyms re-open it would be beneficial to book an induction with a trainer who can show you how to use the kit and provide you with a simple programme to follow. Of course, after this you can also look into personal training as an option to further increase your confidence, technique and provide a more structured programme and one to one training. Allow plenty of time for rest and recovery between your sessions, perhaps starting with 2-3 sessions a week with one to two days rest in-between. Also ensure you are using the right weights. When completing a set, you want to finish feeling the last few reps were challenging and only being able to complete 1-2 more reps. It is a little trial and error to start so ensure you begin lighter and get a feel for the movement and reps before increasing the weight. Finally, just because you are starting weight training doesn’t mean you have to stop doing other exercise you love.  Weight training should be encouraged as part of a well-rounded programme which is designed to suit the individuals needs and goals.

So guys… get lifting!

Lots of love

CK

Why Should we Eat the Rainbow?

We’ve all heard of having our 5 a day, but something we don’t hear as much is the idea of eating the rainbow. I am obsessed with having as many colours as I can on my plate and nothing upsets me more than a beige meal. I know however that my passion for colour isn’t as widely shared as I wish it could be. Therefore, my mission today is to explain why it is so important to “eat the rainbow”, breaking down each colour of food available and explaining some of the benefits of including these in our diets. Hopefully after this you will be inspired to have a fridge that is packed full and bursting with colour!

For each colour I have highlighted the main properties they include, however it is important to say that most of our fruit and veg has a multitude of different vitamins and minerals available in varying degrees so this blog is by no means exhaustive. I have also added some simple ideas of ways to include more of the colours in your diet.

Red

Instantly when you think of red foods things like strawberries, tomatoes and berries spring to mind. These foods contain different antioxidants such as lycopene in tomatoes and anthocyanins in berries.

Lycopene gives these foods their red colour and this antioxidant can help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and help to protect against cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease for those unsure is a general term that is used for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels.

There are many ways we can increase the number of red foods in our diet for example adding berries to your morning porridge, tomatoes to salads, making homemade tomato sauce for pastas or adding red peppers to a chilli or stir fry.

Orange

Orange foods contain carotenoids which are the pigment that gives them their colour. These include alpha and beta carotene.

Beta carotene provides the colour to orange and yellow foods. When we consume beta carotene it is converted to Vitamin A which has multiple health benefits, the most commonly known benefit is its support in eyesight and function.

Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are also high in vitamin C which can help support our immune system and keep us fit and healthy.

Ways to include your orange food intake include swapping potato for sweet potato, roasting pumpkin or salads of blending in soups, grating carrots into salads of adding to sauces or boiling carrots with swede for a super healthy addition to your roast dinner plate!

Yellow

Not a colour that instantly springs to mind but nonetheless can add a lot of value to our diets. Foods include yellow peppers, swede, lemons and sweetcorn.

Some yellow foods also contain beta carotene but are also rich in another antioxidant known as beta cryptoxanthin. This is also converted into Vitamin A, supporting healthy vision, skin and body’s defences.

Some delicious diet additions could include stuffed yellow peppers, sweetcorn fritters or even simply adding a fresh lemon tea to our morning routine.

Green

Green is my favourite colour! Some of my favourite foods such as broccoli, kale, avocadoes, courgettes, cucumbers and apples all sit in this category.

Green vegetables are packed full of many different vitamins and minerals. They contain chlorophyll which is the main pigment found in green foods and due to its antioxidant properties can support our health, boost our energy and help with fighting illness.

I always try to have a least one bit of green on my plate, especially my lunches and dinners. A few examples of things to try include avocado on toast, adding side salads to your lunches, making homemade kale crisps or ensuring you have one green veg with every dinner.

Purple

Purple isn’t always a colour we see often on people’s plates. This can include foods such as aubergine, beetroot, red cabbage, blackberries and purple grapes. There is so much to be gained from adding purple to our diets. Anthocyanins are the pigment that gives the purple colour and these are a powerful antioxidant which again can support with reducing inflammation and fighting against free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells in the body.

Beetroot is also commonly known to be a food which is rich in nitrates, which can help to reduce blood pressure. Nitrates however can be found in many other foods such as spinach, green leafy vegetables and carrots.

Recipe ideas could include braised red cabbage for roast dinners, aubergine pasta bake, blackberry granola for breakfast and a beetroot hummus to spread over some toast or use as a dip for crudites.

White

White isn’t necessary a colour we would consider when we think of the rainbow but actually these foods such as bananas, potatoes, mushrooms and onions boast many health benefits. Anthoxanthins are the pigments found in these foods and studies have found that they may have some link to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Potatoes are also a great source or vitamin C which can help with immune function and repair and Potassium which can help to lower blood pressure and promote a normal heart and muscle function. Bananas and mushrooms also boast a higher potassium rate.

Again, multiple ways you can include these foods in the diet including skin on potato wedges (keeping the skin can increase our fibre intake), adding bananas to smoothies or juices, including white onions in our sauces/dishes and adding mushrooms to things such as omelettes or pastas.

And there you have it! All the reasons to “eat the rainbow”.  With all of this the key is to remember:

  1. Variety is the spice of life. Try not to overthink your meal choices but simply take a look at your plate and ensure each one has a splash of different colour on it!
  2. Try new things. It is always good to keep trying new foods and adding’s things into your diet you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of before. Be adventurous
  3. Savvy ways to upgrade your meals. It is easier than you think to add more colour to your diet but by trying some of the examples included above or having a little recipe research you will find new and ingenious ways to increase your rainbow intake!

Eat well, Live well, Be Happy!

Lots of Love

CK