Category Archives: Articles

30Jun/17
addicted to exercise

I Was Addicted to Exercise

A scroll through the #fitfam or #fitspo posts on Instagram will reveal countless images of gym buffs grappling with kettlebells, before-and-after transformations and motivational quotes. If you’re an avid exerciser, perhaps they inspire you to work out harder and longer, to try new moves that will lead to a more defined body, to exercise every day. But where does being fit, healthy and strong end, and an unhealthy attachment to exercise begin?
“Exercise addiction” used to be a relatively innocuous term – a jokey way of saying that you loved exercise – but now it’s a recognised problem and the British Medical Journal has even published a piece about how to recognise and treat it.
According to an Italian study, people who strongly identify as an exerciser and have low self-esteem are at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Women are more likely to suffer from secondary exercise addiction, meaning that it’s associated with an eating disorder. Over 40% of the 120 gym-goers who completed the study were found to be at risk.

What are the signs?

Those with exercise addiction might exercise even when they’re ill or tired. They might miss out on social or family occasions so that they can exercise. They might feel anxious and irritable if they can’t work out or they might exercise to the point that they experience physical injury, such as a stress fracture. They have an inability to stop or reduce their levels of exercise.
But plenty of people love exercise and train to a high level without a problem. So where does the boundary lie between healthy and unhealthy? “The difference is that a compulsive exerciser works out not to feel good, but to avoid feeling bad,” says Dr. Carolyn Plateau, a Loughborough University psychology lecturer who specialises in compulsive exercise. “They rely on it for mood regulation, may get feelings of guilt, failure or anxiety if they don’t exercise, and tend to have a very rigid routine. It comes above all else – exercise will always take priority.”
Polly Hale, 33, agrees. In her late teens and early 20s, she was addicted to exercise alongside having anorexia. She attended dance school, where image was all-important, and during the holidays she would exercise compulsively, seeing it as a way to burn as many calories as she could.
“I started cutting down on the calories I ate,” she says, “but I would also take any opportunity to exercise, such as walking everywhere (even if it took hours) or dancing without stopping all night at a club. If I was away with my family, I would have a strict regime of strength exercises to do. My motives were all wrong. I wasn’t exercising to feel good or stay healthy but to stay thin, and I would get overwhelming feelings of guilt and failure if I couldn’t exercise. I lost the ability to listen to my body and pushed on through, even when I was exhausted and undernourished.”
The triggers can vary. “It can be a small thing, such as a comment on your body made by a friend or family member,” says Carolyn, “up to a dramatic life change such as going to university, having a perfectionistic personality where you’re always striving for high goals, or having a difficult emotional experience and exercise becomes a way of avoiding it.”
“Social media can also play a role, particularly in people that use it a lot as they can lose a sense of the real world,” she adds. “There has been a backlash against being very skinny; now it’s all about lean and strong. But that can be equally damaging if you’re striving for an unrealistic image of a woman with a six-pack and zero body fat – she could be training for hours a day to look like that.”
And because exercise addiction is so often linked with disordered eating, the “clean eating” trend can also play a part. “Hyper-vigilance about what goes into your mouth and a focus on consuming only ‘healthy’ foods can often go hand in hand with compulsive exercise behaviours,” says Carolyn.
A problem with other people recognising it in you, or even a health professional diagnosing it, is that exercise is usually a positive thing. Where starving yourself is clearly a bad idea, we’re encouraged to exercise. “It can go under the radar if it’s not accompanied by an obvious eating disorder,” says Carolyn. “It can also be disguised in much the same way as the early stages of an eating disorder – ‘I’m just exercising a bit more at the moment to stay healthy’.”
“Although my family could see it was part of my eating disorder, they questioned the amount of food I ate but not the amount of exercise I was doing,” says Polly. “I recognised it in myself and knew that it wasn’t normal, but I couldn’t stop myself. The desire to exercise was so overpowering.”

Where to get help

“The first and often the hardest step is admitting to yourself that you have a problem,” says Polly. “Then you can open up to someone else and say you need help.”
You can see your GP, who can refer you to an appropriate service. You could even open up to your personal trainer, who may be able to help you devise a healthier schedule and set positive goals, rather than exercising for exercise’s sake.
Treatment can include cognitive behavioural therapy and psychological help to equip you with healthier ways of dealing with negative emotions. “You wouldn’t necessarily have to stop exercising but you might be asked to reduce it or replace it with low-intensity exercise such as yoga,” says Carolyn. “It’s about reformulating your attitudes to both exercise and food (if it’s associated with an eating disorder).”
For Polly, her turning point was a night at the pub in her early 20s. She had been hospitalised three times but always relapsed. “That night, one friend announced she was pregnant and another that she was getting married. Something in my head just clicked and I realised that everyone was moving on with their lives and I was going to be left behind. No one would want a relationship with me and I would never have children (my periods had stopped long ago). I suddenly wanted this thing out of my life. I worked with a dietitian to help me see food as a pleasure and as fuel, rather than unnecessary calories, and my attitude to exercise slowly changed.”
Change doesn’t happen overnight but Polly proves that it is possible. She’s now a personal trainer and founded The Fit Mum Formula, helping women to learn to love their bodies, exercise and eat well because they want to look after themselves. She’s also married with two children. “It took me about five years to fully recover, but I now exercise and eat well because I want to enjoy life, and I appreciate what it feels like to be strong and healthy, rather than thin and exhausted.”
26Jun/17
celeb diets

Why Celeb Diets Don’t Work – The Sun Newspaper Feature

Fad celeb diets loved by Martine McCutcheon, the Kardashians and Alexandra Burke ‘DON’T work and actually make you GAIN weight’.

 

People who go back to eating normally after losing weight on a calorie-restricted fad diet tend to pile on the pounds much faster.

 

“My main concern is that even if it works short term, it doesn’t educate the dieter on how to live healthy and eat healthy and plan meals.

“That’s one of the reasons people regain all the weight afterwards, because they stop the diet when the weight is gone, but they still don’t really understand how to eat healthily.

 

To read the whole article I wrote for The Sun Newspaper click the link below:

 

https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/3594099/fad-diets-loved-by-martine-mccutcheon-the-kardashians-and-alexandra-burke-dont-work-and-actually-make-you-gain-weight-expert-warns/

31Mar/17
feminist-2136191_960_720

How Wiggly Are You?

Mental health problems affect millions of women around the world.

I’ve had my share – anorexia, depression, and times of danger and darkness running so deep I was hospitalised more than once, for months at a time.

Mental health issues are still a taboo issue, but that needs to change if sufferers are to accept their situation and seek help, as well as for others around them to recognise signs and be able to help.

One woman is doing her (very big) part in sharing her own story of battles with her head, as well as many inspiring stories from women around the globe.

Carly Jennings is nothing short of a fighter, and, a fitness professional by trade, is now helping support and inspire women to embrace who they are, low days and all.

And what sets these women apart is how, far from letting mental health issues hold them back, strength, courage and empowerment can come out of challenging times.

How I overcame anorexia to become stronger than ever – read my story on the Wiggly Girl blog here.

Oh and in case you were wondering a ‘wiggle score’ is a way of assessing how you’re feeling that day, with the aim being an on top of the world 10/10 more days than not.

02Mar/17
eating disorder recovery

My Eating Disorder Recovery Story

Since my Eating Disorder recovery videos went viral and I was invited to speak on Sky News, I’ve been able to reach out and  offer support and encouragement to other sufferers and their families.

I remember the first day I was admitted to hospital – one day, when I was strong enough, I would give back and help others.

It was a long, tough journey, one I nearly didn’t make it though.

But I did it, and you can overcome an emotional relationship with food too.

This time well known Registered Dietician Priya Tew published my story on her blog as she works with eating disorder patients.

Loving and respecting your body is so important. If you can do that, the healthy eating bit becomes easy, because you want to look after yourself.

Priya says:

“When I heard Polly’s eating disorder recover story I knew I had to share it. Working in the field of eating disorders can be frankly hard work. It is a long road to recovery and a battle. It takes dedication, support from others and challenging yourself at every meal time. However it is possibly and it is worth it. I hope sharing this inspires others.”

Click Here to read my story on Priya’s blog, where you will also find other nutrition related articles, recipes, and contact details if you need guidance from a Registered Dietician.

05Dec/16
clean eating

Clean Eating – Is it right for you?

Clean eating has been a massive trend for some years now,

But what exactly is it, is it healthy, and is it right for you and your family?

While there’s no official definition of clean eating, most advocators insist on no processed foods, no refined sugar or flour,

And some cut out dairy and gluten and eat only organic food as well, though not everyone is as strict.

It’s not the same as a vegan diet which cuts out animal products – ‘clean eaters’ often still eat meat, fish and eggs, and some dairy.

clean eating

Click Here to read the full article and learn all about clean eating in Just For Families Magazine: http://www.thefitmumformula.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/KS-JFF-Clean-Eating.pdf

Have you tried a stricter version of clean eating? Or do you simply try and eat more healthy food and less unhealthy food? Let me know in the comments below.

05Dec/16
mince pies

You Should Eat Mince Pies on a Diet

Is it ok to eat mince pies when you’re trying to eat healthily?

What about all the other tasty festive treats we’re surrounded by over Christmas, surely they’re going to ruin your diet?

The ‘problem’ with these foods is that they are usually high in sugar and fat, making them high calorie (which adds up to weight gain), and very tasty, so easy to overeat and not stop at just one.

But here’s the thing – being a healthy weight is not the only thing that matters in life.

Not only is eating tasty treats occasionally not going to hurt in the long run, living a life of restriction and deprivation every day of the year does not make for a happy existence.

Of course there’s a balance to be had, and the reason most people who preach about ‘moderation’ is because their idea of balance and moderation is a little skewed.

But I’ll certainly be enjoying the odd mince pie this Christmas, and when PT Magazine asked me to write about why I was happy to encourage others to relax a little too.

mince pies

Click Here to read the Article PDF on why it’s more than ok to eat mince pies this Christmas! http://www.thefitmumformula.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/pt-mag-mince-pies.pdf

Do you enjoy mince pies, yule log or any other Christmas treat? Do you still eat them when trying to lose weight?

15Nov/16
dee-bg-small

Hustle and Juggle With Pollyanna Hale

What is it like juggling a business you love with kids you love more (but in a different way)?

That’s what I was asked by Devenia Besant of deveniabesant.com , a site dedicated to supporting women in business who are juggling family life at the same time.

You can read the interview where is was originally published on her website here. 

How long have you been doing the Hustle and Juggle?

3 1/2 years

What is the Juggle to your Hustle?

I’ve never been able to sit still and do nothing, and even wrote and published a full length diet & weight loss book on my laptop whilst breastfeeding my first born!But it was when my 2nd daughter Bella was 7 months old that my soon-to-be business partner approached me with the idea of partnering up to create an online weight loss solution for busy Mums who can’t get to the gym or classes.

I always wanted to be a stay at home Mum and only put my kids in nursery because it was right for them, I’m lucky in that I have that option. Bella (now 4) does 3 mornings only, so fitting work in happens very early morning, often as early as 4am! Then during nursery hours, in the evening, while they’re having their tea, and of course from my phone at every opportunity! That last bit I feel guilty about – but otherwise those little jobs would eat into better quality time with them playing at home, so I guess it’s the better choice of the two.

Tell me more about your business?

I help tired, overworked and frustrated Mums look and feel like their old selves again. My members get both their body and their body confidence back, with a system that not only really works well but can be done within the confines of even the busiest schedule, because it’s all online, open 24/7.

I’m not into quick fixes or cookie cutter plans. That’s not to say my Mums don’t get quick results, but they’re not at the expense of long term ones. What works for one won’t work for another, so I work with each Mum so they learn how to nourish their body in a way that’s perfect for them.

What is your Hustle and Juggle story?

Well for starters I’m typing this from my bed when I’m supposed to be recovering from a nasty stomach bug! I’ve *almost* finished today’s *essential* tasks ha ha.

I think when you want something bad enough, you find a way. I’ve pulled all nighters to get websites launched, conducted live interviews with National radio stations in the loo, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s answered a call with ‘can we schedule a chat for this afternoon, I’m just in a meeting’ when you’re actually at toddler group!

The hardest was my longest ever trip away to America – 4 days including travelling. The kids weren’t bothered at all, in fact they were just really chuffed that Grandma had decided all meals must involve sweets….!

What’s your message to anyone reading this to inspire them to keep going and remain visible?

Always know your ‘why’. Why are you doing what you do? What’s the passion behind it? When you have a meaning and message that can help people, you just want to get it out there.

Also importantly, are you enjoying it? Because life is short and if you’re not happy, do something else. Usually this is very short term; some nights I’m just like, sod it, those email replies can be done tomorrow, it’s time hubby and I indulged in a bit of trashy Netflix before my brain explodes!

03Nov/16
baby-17343_960_720

Mums Weight Loss Challenges – Baby Bother

Mums weight loss is different to non-Mums, which you’ll have realised as soon as you became a mother and attempted to get back into your pre-baby jeans!

There are certain factors that all personal trainers, nutritionists and weight loss coaches need to be aware of when helping Mums.

Motherhood is a round the clock job; no holidays, no time off for sickness, and many challenges along the way that can really slow progress.

For example:

A Mum is sleep deprived.

Mums are stressed.

Mums have access to leftover kids’ food.

At home we’re near our cupboards.

Kids get sick and stay off school.

Our hormones are all over the place.

I was asked by respected fitness industry magazine PT Magazine to advise on how Mums like you need support from professionals like us.

Are there any important factors you think I’ve missed that I need to consider when helping you?

What are your personal struggles? Comment below so that I can help you better. 

Click on the image below for a full page version.

mums weight loss

13Sep/16
online personal trainer

A Day In The Life of an Online Trainer

What do you need to become and online personal trainer or nutrition coach?

With many trainers (and indeed people in other industries) wanting to transition to the online world, it begs the question, how do I get started?

Working online, via the internet, is not a passive income.

Make no mistake, there are no 4 hour work weeks and money rolling in effortlessly while you alternate between sleeping and sunbathing.

It is, however, a more flexible way of working, giving you the control to fit your work in and around other things in your life, and be able to adapt them to your circumstances.

For example you can take a holiday anytime, you just need to prepare for it, get ahead, set a few things in place.

Many things can be automated or scheduled ahead of time, such as newsletters, blogs, and social media posts.

Outsourcing regular tasks is also another way to create freedom and free up your time to do the things that only you can do. Bookkeeping and accounting are a good place to start – not many people in the fitness industry enjoy those!

Fitness Insurance company Insure4Sport interviewed me about life as a digital personal trainer and weight loss coach.

Read the article by clicking the link below:

http://blog.insure4sport.co.uk/index.php/the-rise-of-the-digital-personal-trainer/

 

25Aug/16
ibs stress

Keep getting IBS? It could be STRESS

Think your IBS symptoms could be stress related? You’re probably right. 

According to Alison Cullen speaking in the Daily Mail,

“Our emotions and our digestive functions are inextricably linked, because when we are feeling anxious our body releases adrenaline — the ‘fight or flight’ hormone intended to help us deal with stressful situations.

Unfortunately, this adrenaline diverts the blood supply away from the stomach towards our heart and lungs, effectively switching off a digestive system it doesn’t see as critical in times of crisis.

Nutritional therapist Alison Cullen says: ‘This means you’re not producing enough digestive enzymes to help your food travel through the digestive tract and be broken down effectively. It leads to uncomfortable distension of the abdomen and painful inflammation of the gut wall.’”

I was asked about my personal experiences, which show that even people with nutritional knowledge like me aren’t immune from gut problems:

“Yet even with the best diet and relationships, women can also be stricken by terrible stomach aches. The reason? They don’t get enough sleep, as Pollyanna Hale, a mother-of-two and weight-loss coach, from Bosham, West Sussex, can testify.

Pollyanna, 32, who is married to James, 36, a property developer, started suffering stomach aches after her daughter Bella was born in September 2012.

‘With the constant feeds, I averaged five hours sleep a night. I couldn’t nap during the day because I had Bella’s sister, Aurora, then three, to care for.’

Exhausted, she started to suffer from fluctuating constipation and diarrhoea. ‘The more tired and stressed I got the more stomach aches I had. Eating healthily made no difference. I looked so bloated strangers would ask if I was pregnant.’

Tests last summer revealed that she had a bacterial infection in her stomach — common in those who are constantly stressed.”

Read the full article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3757187/Keep-getting-agonising-tummy-aches-STRESS-warn-doctors-seen-rise-high-flying-women-experiencing-stomach-problems.html#ixzz4IKxqkAQc