Category Archives: In The Media

03Nov/18

Kids Lunch Boxes – are we failing them? Live Sky News Feature

In a back to school special earlier this year, charity Action for Children set out to help parents improve their kids lunch boxes, and asked me to help.

 

As a parent myself it’s a cause I care about – kids need good nutrition to have energy, learn, grow and behave well. Yes the studies even show conditions like ADHD and Autism are improved when diet is improved!

 

But most parents know that already. The problem is getting your child to eat a good meal in the middle of the day that they won’t reject. Kids tend to favour sweet and processed foods, so how do we create a win win situation?

The charity Action for Children are on a mission to help parents improve kids’ lunch boxes and set out to do some research:

 

  • A massive three quarters (75%) of British parents with children aged 5 to 13 who make a school lunchbox admit to feeling guilty about what they pack, according to new research (1).
  • The poll showed parents’ top four favourite lunchbox items are a ham sandwich, yogurt, a packet of crisps, and an apple. A carton of juice was the most popular specific drink picked out by parents, while biscuits and chocolate bars were also popular. (3)
  • Worryingly, the latest Government statistics show one in three children in England are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. (2) But the charity’s research found that the most important factor for parents in packing a lunchbox was being confident their child would eat what they were given (38%). Making sure the lunchbox is nutritious was the second most important reason at 28%.

 

I was invited onto Sky News as they were covering the story  to talk about the issue live on air with my 9 year old daughter Aurora in tow (she did such a good job and I was so proud of her!):

 

Here’s the clip if you missed it (or here on YouTube):


My local radio Spirit FM (as well as many National radio stations) also covered the story here using my words below.

 

Or listen to the full compilation of soundbites with my views on what we can do about kids’ lunch boxes my clicking on the video or here on YouTube.

“Children can be notoriously picky eaters – they do have a preference for sweet foods and they will go on hunger strike. I disagree with people who say if children are given no other option but healthy food, they’ll eat it. I’m a nutritionist and if I can’t get my children to eat lentil spinach salads then I don’t know how anyone else is supposed to be able to. If they don’t like what they’re given they won’t eat it. If that happens at school they won’t be able to concentrate, they’ll be falling asleep in class and they won’t have the energy to take part in sports.

“I think it benefits everyone, not least the children, if they’ve got a full belly. The easiest way to do that is to give them food that you know they love and you know they’re going to eat. Children being children, that’s going to be the sugary junk foods. that’s why people do it; it gives everyone an easy life.

“But healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. Children can eat things that are very familiar to them but also nutritious such as swapping processed cheese for mild cheddar cheese or cocktail sausages for sliced ham off the bone. Instead of giving them a packet of crisps it could be plain breadsticks that don’t have loads of added flavourings and salt and sugar. I don’t know many children who won’t eat some sort of fruit and vegetables, even if it’s just a couple – maybe blueberries or cucumber sticks. If that’s all they’re going to eat, it’s better than nothing. 

“Children are creatures of habit and they tend to prefer routine. They probably prefer it if you give them exactly the same thing to eat every day . It’s familiar to them and it taps into that safety net – they understand the food and they know it’s safe. Variety doesn’t tend to be a problem for them. 

“It’s about making compromises. They may not like granary bread that has loads of seeds in and tough crusts, but they might eat a wholemeal wrap that’s a bit softer and easier to eat. I can’t shove salad into my kids’ sandwiches but a few slices of cucumber might be ok or some cherry tomatoes chopped up. There’s lots of options out there. I think people make it more complicated than it has to be.”

Polly Hale, nutritionist, Chichester

 

Parents need the knowledge and confidence to give their child the best start in life when it comes to nutrition. Anyone in need of inspiration for packing a fuss-free healthy lunchbox that your child will want to eat can visit //actionforchildren.org.uk/lunchbox.” 

Registered Public Health Nutritionist Mari Clark, who designs menus for Action for Children’s Eat Better, Start Better service, says: “Through no fault of their own, many parents simply don’t know exactly what their child needs. This isn’t helped by confusing packaging that has pictures full of fruit and happy children, when the products inside are packed with sugar and fat and salt.

“There is no need for any lunchbox to contain crisps, sweets, processed food, cereal bars, chocolates and things like that – if you have sandwich with some good quality protein, a portion of fruit, veg and dairy then that’s enough.”

 

TOP TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PACKED LUNCH FROM ACTION FOR CHILDREN’S NUTRITIONIST 

  • Swap juice for water or milk. Or choose a low sugar drink or dilute fruit juice 50/50.
  • Give your sandwiches or wraps different fillings; cooked chicken, turkey, egg, tuna, low fat cream cheese are all good options
  • Ditch the crisps for chopped vegetables and a tasty low-fat dip like hummus
  • When you’re shopping, choose the lower salt bread options stocked by most supermarkets
  • Use spreads and condiments sparingly and choose lower salt versions
  • Don’t pack a sandwich every day. Think salads with pasta, potato, couscous with vegetables and some protein like chicken. Other things to think about include boiled eggs or omelettes.

 

(1) All survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4348 adults, of which 535 are parents with children aged 5 to 13. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 10th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

(2) National Child Measurement Programme England 2016 – 2017

(3) List of most regularly packed items: ham sandwiches (59%), yogurt (54%), crisps (60%) an apple (53%). 31% selected biscuits and 26% selected chocolate bar. Whilst the most selected drink was “Other drink” (47%), the most selected drink from the list provided was a carton of juice (39%).

HOW ACTION FOR CHILDREN WORKS: Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK through intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption, supporting disabled children, and by campaigning tirelessly to make life better for children and families. With over 550 services the charity improves the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year. Actionforchildren.org.uk

 

 

 

03Nov/18

Are these popular diet trends worth the hype?

With every year that goes by a new popular diet crops up, but is there any merit to these new diet trends or are they just silly fads?

Protein snack company Seven Bars asked what I thought of 7 of the most popular diet trends; read it on their website here or my thoughts are below. Have you tried any of these?

 

  1. Low carb

Reducing carbohydrates means cutting out rice, potatoes and pasta, as well as dairy and fruit. It’s thought that reducing carbohydrates helps to balance blood sugar and therefore energy levels, as well as keeping hunger to a minimum.

Pros: You can eat a filling diet without over-consuming calories. It’s also simple so makes meal planning easier.

Cons: Going low carb doesn’t work for everyone and some people don’t feel great without enough carbs. And while you can make and buy low-carb treats, traditional sugary snacks are off-limits, which can lead to blow-outs and binges.

 

  1. Paleo

Paleo basically means eating like our ancestors (well some of them, there are lots of variations depending on where they lived) – cutting out grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and processed foods.

Pros: Cutting out processed foods and focusing on whole, natural, nutrient-dense foods makes this a nutritious way of eating, while some people will also benefit from reducing dairy and gluten.

Cons: The types of food may be restricted, but the overall quantity and proportions of fat, carbohydrate and protein are vague, so you won’t necessarily be getting the right balance of macronutrients. It’s also easy to under-eat, says Polly, and you could be cutting out some “banned” foods unnecessarily, losing their potential health benefits.

 

 

  1. Whole30

Whole30 is similar to Paleo but also cuts out natural sugars like honey.

Pros: The foods you’re allowed to eat are very nutritious and, so long as you’re getting a good variety, you’d get all the nutrients you need.

Cons: Avoiding whole food groups like dairy, grains and legumes could leave a person deficient in certain nutrients. Cutting out all treats completely is also unsustainable for most people and may even lead to bingeing on ‘forbidden’ foods, or orthorexia – a fear of ‘unhealthy’ foods.

 

 

  1. 5:2 Diet

This form of intermittent fasting means consuming 500-600 calories two days a week, with a “normal” diet of 2,000-2,400 calories on the other five days, effectively creating a calorie deficit across the week.

Pros: As well as weight loss, results can include improved blood pressure and cholesterol profile. It could also help you to learn to go for longer without eating, so in the long run you might be less inclined to snack.

Cons: The drastic drop to 500 calories a day can cause hunger, low energy and poor concentration. Women tend to fare worse with intermittent fasting as our hormones stay better balanced when we don’t go too long without eating.

 

 

  1. Meal Replacement Plans

Plans like Slim Fast and Lighter Life see meals replaced by calorie-restricted products including shakes, soups and bars.

Pros: For some people, the convenience of a readymade product is appealing, meaning there’s no need for cooking, preparing or calorie-counting.

Cons: Pre-made foods will never match up nutritionally to fresh, whole, natural foods, especially when many of these products use cheap ingredients and bulking agents. Sticking to the same products day-in, day-out can also lead to “flavour fatigue”.

 

 

  1. Ketogenic

A ketogenic diet forces the body to switch its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. When the body is in “ketosis”, insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases, helping you lose weight.

Pros: Some people find the diet really satiating, and the lack of sugar and carbs can help get erratic blood sugar under control.

Cons: Getting into ketosis means cutting out even healthy foods like fruit and many vegetables, so it’s very nutrient deficient. The science behind keto being good for everyone isn’t very sound – in fact, the only place it seems to really be beneficial is in epilepsy sufferers.

 

 

  1. Intermittent Fasting

As its name suggests, intermittent fasting involves fasting for certain periods of time, though the timings can be varied. 

Pros: Intermittent fasting can help get someone back in touch with their natural appetite by realising they didn’t need food at certain times and were eating out of habit. Limiting eating times tends to limit calorie intake by default, so it can be helpful for weight loss.

Cons: In some people it simply leads to low energy, poor concentration, and making up by eating way more later. Like keto, the science behind intermittent being great for your body and brain health is mixed. There’s no solid reason to recommend skipping meals if it doesn’t suit someone.

 

 

How can I diet safely? 

Sticking to any form of “diet” long term has to be enjoyable. As well as keeping you feeling, looking and performing at your best, whatever that means to you, it has to fit to your lifestyle in a convenient and not too disruptive way.

 

Temporary diets can work to kickstart weight loss, but the key is knowing how to eat healthily once you reach the end of the plan. Unfortunately that’s where short term diets fall down. They don’t teach long term habits and strategies for health.

 

If swapping unhealthy habits for better ones sounds more appealing to you then rest assured over time these changes really add up to big results.

 

To get you started I’ve got a FREE 5 Day Healthy Habits Challenge you can sign up to here.

 

 

 

Seven is a new, healthy, natural, high protein, low calorie protein snack made in Hampshire in the UK from high quality, responsibly and locally sourced beef and chicken, marinated in natural ingredients that have been carefully balanced for maximum flavour with minimal sugar.  Vegan versions will also be available soon. Find out more at https://chooseseven.com/

 

 

03Nov/18

Could Exercise Help Your PMS Symptoms?

You might feel like binge watching Netflix with a family size bag of chocolates but doing some exercise could really help ease those horrible PMS symptoms.

The figures show that getting active can really improve the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS. One study, analysing young women over an eight week period, found that exercise made a ‘significant difference’ in improving PMS symptoms.  Overall, 31% of PMS symptoms were reduced over the two months, in participants who had been doing aerobic exercise.

 

The Metro Newspaper asked for my advice on exercising before and during your period, and how exercise advice might change at different times of the month.

 

Here’s what I had to say:

“Steady state cardio like running, cycling, hiking and power walking are perfect during PMS, and will also help regulate mood and even help reduce water retention, common problems with PMS.

Body temperature also rises during this time, which can make intense exercise less comfortable.

A lower carb, higher protein and fat diet will complement this type of exercise and since the body is less insulin-sensitive during PMS, will reduce blood sugar and energy swings.

During your period is the time to hit those heavy weights and take all that tension out with a big workout. Your body uses carbohydrates more efficiently now, and the extra carbs will help fuel the harder workouts.”

 

In other words;

Premenstrual: lower intensity exercise and a lower carb, higher fat diet

On your period: higher intensity / heavy weights, while eating a few more carbs.

Exercise also induces endorphins; powerful antidepressants and pain relievers, which help at any time of the month but especially when you feel grumpy with period cramps!

 

(You might like this video too: The Stress and Weight Gain Connection)

 

Of course each woman is different and the best way to see what works for you is to try a few things out and see how you feel. At the very least, try and get a walk in to keep active on a basic level, and take appropriate pain killers for cramps if you need to.

Read the full article here.

13Aug/18

The Instafit Challenge – a Bournemouth Uni Diet Documentary

Could you eat like an ‘Instafit’ Instagram ‘wellness’ influencer?

 

That’s the challenge one Bournemouth University student took on when she decided to make a documentary about the different diets people follow in a bid to lose weight, be fitter and healthier and look, well, like an Instagram wellness Influencer!

 

I was asked to bust some myths around diets and why they do (or don’t) work. Here is their final short documentary about their findings.

 

Want to try ‘clean eating’ yourself? There’s a free 3 day plan here. 

 

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube and Subscribe to hear as soon as new videos are uploaded.

Or click on the image below.

16May/18

How to Get More Protein for Women who are Too Busy

Protein powders have been popular in the fitness industry for years, but only recently have they become more mainstream, and too often I find people, especially those new to getting fit and healthy, suspicious about a big tub of powder with labels they don’t understand.

 

But dismissing protein powders is missing a trick, and today I want to show you how high-quality protein powder can make healthy eating so much easier, more convenient, and often tastier and cheaper!

 

This blog was originally published on the MyProtein blog here. Myprotein make lots of tasty, convenient and nutritious foods, snacks and shakes

 

When my first daughter was born I suddenly found my life thrown into a whirlwind of nappies and washing, with virtually no time to shower myself let alone prepare healthy meals. As a health-conscious person and personal trainer by qualification, how was I going to find time to eat well?

Now my two girls are at school not much has changed, time wise. Us Mums are constantly running around after everyone else, sometimes on not enough sleep, and it’s very easy to rely on quick energy fixes like biscuits and crisps to keep us going through the day.

But these foods have very little in the way of nutrients, don’t keeps us full for long (so we need more to stave off hunger), and lead to energy crashes, and more sugar cravings!

It’s a vicious cycle but one that I see rectified with one very simple addition to a person’s diet; more protein!

protein shake

 


Why is Protein Good for Women?

Protein is needed to build and repair muscle. Want to look toned? That’s simply muscle definition you see on ‘toned’ people, and without protein, you won’t have much muscle. For weight loss, protein is the most satiating type of food. Eating enough protein at each meal and snack will satisfy your appetite and help stop you picking at junk in between.

Protein, or rather the amino acids it’s made of, are even necessary for immune function and detoxification. So yes, protein is a better choice than (virtually protein free) vegetables juices to undo the effects of a heavy night out!

Vegans and vegetarians are even more likely to be lacking protein, since meat and fish are good protein sources.


Why Use Protein Powder in a Busy Lifestyle?

Not all protein powders are created equal and it’s important to buy one that isn’t bulked up with cheap fillers and sugar. In addition, while whey is the fitness industries favourite, casein is slower to digest so can keep you full for longer, and people who can’t or choose not to consume dairy have the options of pea, hemp or rice proteins which are all nutritious.

Protein powder has a long shelf life, is extremely versatile, quick to prepare depending on how you’re using it (more on that in a moment), and comes in a variety of delicious flavours, or alternatively unflavoured for savoury meals.
While protein powders are traditionally used to make protein shakes, in this article I’m going to show you some other ways of how to use protein powder in your meals and snacks to boost the protein content.

Protein mug cake


7 Easy Uses of Protein Powder to Help a Busy Lifestyle

If you’re struggling to make nutritious meals and snacks in a hurry, then try some of these ideas I’ve listed here. You’ll likely find you lose excess weight more easily, recover from exercise better, and even have as much energy as your kids!

1. Protein pancakes

So easy, as batter can be made the night before and simply poured into a hot pan. Try one egg plus one scoop of protein powder, plus your choice of  nut butter mashed banana, oats, ground flax, or anything else you fancy. Top with fruit for a nutritional boost. Savoury pancakes made with unflavoured powder, with added herbs or spices, make a great lunch with salad.

2. Mug cakes

The cheats’ pancake. Same mixture but whisked in a mug and cooked for 1-2 minutes in the microwave. These are a life saver on school mornings when I need a satisfying and warm but quick breakfast.

3. Proats

Protein oats, porridge; whatever you want to call them, just add a scoop of protein powder to your morning porridge to make your bowlful keep you going that much longer.

4. Protein bars

Either buy some protein bars in a flavour you like or have a look online for easy recipes. Wrap individual bars in clingfilm then freeze; simply take a bar out instead of going to the corner shop for a chocolate bar.

5. Soup

Turning slightly past it vegetables into soup by boiling and blending with stock is a great way to reduce waste and eat your veggies, but for a meal it needs some protein too. Unflavoured vegan proteins work best here as they’re thick and are less likely to clump. I got through a week of flu this Winter on pea protein boosted soup.

6. Shakes

It wouldn’t be fair to leave shakes off the list completely. Mix the protein powder with your choice of liquid, and shake in a shaker bottle or blend in a smoothie maker or blender. If your blender can crush ice it makes your smoothies thick and slushy! Add other ingredients like nut butter, yoghurt, berries, spinach and oats depending on your needs.

7. Pudding

Mix protein powder with plain Greek, soy or coconut yoghurt, or cottage cheese, for an instant pudding that’s also super nutritious, especially when topped with extra fruit, or some seeds.

 

Check out Myprotein’s huge range of high quality protein powders to suit all preferences and tastes, which are appropriate for all the ideas I’ve mentioned here and more.

Experiment to see what works best in your favourite meals and you’ll see there’s way more to protein powder than just shakes and no easier way to make your food healthier with such convenience, however much those little people keep you on your toes!

16May/18

Closer Magazine Beach Body Special

About this time of year I get panic emails from Mums who have booked a family holiday and want to get beach body ready so you feel more confident in a skimpy swim suit.

 

If I’m honest I don’t really like the ‘beach body’ concept for several reasons.

 

1) It implies a temporary goal. Presumably once Autumn returns along with baggy jumpers, you won’t feel such a need to take care of your health.
Health should be a goal for everyone, regardless of size or shape. Health = a better quality of life, more energy, fewer illnesses and better mental well-being.

 

2) It suggests you can only be confident on the beach if you like at least slightly more like a Baywatch (showing my age there?) lifeguard.

 

Confidence is psychological, a mental state. Even if you do actually need to lose a few pounds for health reasons, you should still be confident. You’re still an amazing, beautiful person with or without those extra pounds.

 

3) It suggests bigger bodies must be covered up.

 

I hate overhearing people slag off big bodies in skimpy outfits on the beach. Mind your own business will you?! People can wear what they like, you and me included. Being slim doesn’t necessarily you even look good so it’s a mute point. And carrying extra weight usually increases body temperature, so larger bodies are even more in need to strip down and cool off.

 

But of course magazines are all over the ‘get a beach body’ theme at the time of writing so I guess if it encourages a person to make healthy, positive, long term changes to they way you eat and exercise, that can only be a good thing.

 

So Closer Magazine asked me to contribute to their Diet & Fitness special and here’s what I told them:

 

“Carbs aren’t the enemy. The body uses the right kind of carbohydrates for energy. But if you’re trying to lose a few pounds pre-holiday, ditching processed or refined carbs is a good way to see quick results. This is simply because carbs are metabolised by the body into sugar. And that sugar is then turned into fat.

 

Of course all food that’s ‘excess’ calories get turned into fat, but refined carbs and sugar are the easiest to overeat and least satiating, so since weight loss requires a lower calorie intake, they’re usually the best place to cut calories from. – This bit was missed by Closer, so I thought I’d clarify it here!

 

Closer suggests you swap refined carbs like white pasta and potatoes for high fibre foods like beans, brown rice and nuts. For breakfast, toast some rye bread and each with two protein rich poached eggs. For lunch, have a crisp green salad with prawns or mackerel. Then feed your body with nutrients with a dinner of stir-fried chicken and broccoli with brown rice.

 

“People try to improve their fitness and health by punishing their bodies with exercise they hate and horrible diets they can’t stomach. If you take a positive approach you’ll make better fitness regime choices, which will lead to a healthier body – without you becoming so resentful that you give up”.

 

This last quote is really important. If you hate your body, you won’t treat it well. If you don’t treat it well, it won’t feel good, it won’t look good, and diet and exercise plans that you do out of spite to your love handles just isn’t the way.

 

Respect your body, care for it and nourish it, and trust me the aesthetic results you’re after will happen too.

 

Click on the images below to enlarge them to see the magazine feature. And for a great exercise that tones your bum as well as giving you a stronger (less injury prone) lower back, click here for my fave glute exercise. 

 

  

31Mar/18

Why Do We Have To Make Lists For Daddy?

Every time I go out for longer than half a day, child-free, I have to make a list as long and comprehensive as the NHS budget report just to make sure the  day runs smoothly.

Read This where it was originally published on The Motherload website here

Your first thought; “You went out for the day?!”

No, not very often (I run my business from home during school hours), but very occasionally I’ll have a work-related trip to London which entails a 6:34am train to Waterloo, leaving Daddy in charge.

Now I don’t know about your significant other, but mine seems to think being ‘the parent’ is easy; they are old enough (5 and 8) to dress themselves and even get basic non-heated, no-knife foodstuffs, but on a typical school day there are just a few more details in between.

And we’re not talking days like ‘Bella – ballet day’.

Oh no, that particular scenario would require:

1. Start prepping tea early so that they can eat right after ballet.

2. Snack after school – oat biscuits are in the red tin by the cereal.

3. Ballet bag is ready for you on the sofa – she needs to be dressed by 4:45.

4. She wears coat too, it’s cold by the time she comes out.

5. 4:50 set off – lots of traffic so need extra time.

6. Buy Aurora hot chocolate while Bella is in ballet. NO sweets.

7. Tea as soon as home, they’ll be starving.

You get the idea.

A whole day out? The list gets pretty long.

It’s not the big stuff he’ll forget. It’s the details. Vests when it’s cold. Sun cream in summer. And no, 8 hair clips randomly placed does not counter not brushing hair.

What’s Dad’s usual response?

Well, six times out of ten I’ll get a call mid-morning from school asking if the kids are sick, since they’re not there. My reply is ‘Daddy is in charge today while I’m away’. They understand.

If they do go to school, he won’t need to cook, because he’ll meet up with a single Dad friend and they’ll all go for pizza. The kids will stay out too late and then go to bed in their uniform. We’ll locate the book bags when I’m back the next day, and explain again to the very understanding teachers that ‘Daddy was in charge’.

Aforementioned ballet will probably be skipped, though this week I (smugly, I’ll admit) threw him because I have a sensible arrangement with a fellow Mum where one takes Aurora and her friend to tap dancing, the other collects, so he couldn’t get out of it. I did giggle to myself over that one.

For all the ‘why are you so tired, you don’t do anything’ comments I get during a typical week, you can guarantee Daddy has fallen into bed (also fully clothed) by the time I arrive home that evening.

I’m used to it and I don’t even resent it, but a day out is more than a military operation, and the one time I went away for 4 days (! – to America, including 2 days travelling) I actually got my mother-in-Law to stay. Four days would have finished him off.

The Aftermath

As I’m driving back from the station I’ll be anticipating the state of the kids, and the house. I’ll go through each step of the day and assess how it went like any real business-woman (or Army Sergeant) would.

Did they eat breakfast? Doesn’t look like it judging by the bowls of uneaten, soggy Weetabix still on the kitchen side, dried a little only because the cat has been helping herself (cat alive? Win).

The dishwasher is still full of clean plates, the wet washing is going rancid in the machine, the toothbrushes are dry and I’ve no idea where aforementioned ‘ballet bag’ is. They seem to have tried on every outfit they own at some point in the day, dirtied it, and left it on the floor. Perhaps this is a positive sign they were always clean and presentable?

It sounds like I have the worst husband ever that’s useless in every way right? Actually no, as my best friend and soul mate, there’s no one I’d rather spend my life with. He’s just good at other stuff.

And that’s fine with me, because after dealing with the possibility of not being able to have children, and yearning to be a Mummy, I’ll put up with anything knowing that I’ve got the most wonderful kids and a lovely home. Even if they are for the most part totally my responsibility. And so long as they’re alive and well, Daddy will do things his way.

As any Mum will know, a 14 hour day, child free, to be an adult and be able to switch off from having to make Weetabix correctly and remember the book bag, is the parental equivalent of a week at a spa in Bali.

I’m writing this on the train, by myself, hot cup of tea next to me, on my way back to the hurricane that will be my home in about an hour, refreshed and spirited after a day of metal rejuvenation. And I’ve blocked out tomorrow to clean the house.

Image credit: Mug by Lavender and Wolf

31Mar/18
fat loss tips

Fat Loss Tips from 8 Fitness Professionals

Everyone trying to lose a few pounds is looking for the secret fat loss tips that will make their progress faster and easier. In this post you’ll hear from 8 fitness professionals who share their insight into the best ways to burn fat.

 

But rather than take it from just me, the article I contributed to contains advice from no less than 8 health, nutrition & fitness professionals who all share our pearls of wisdom on the best ways to lose fat.

 

Note that we talk about ‘fat’ not ‘weight’ because weight can be water, which might happen if you have water retention before dieting or suddenly lower your carbohydrate intake. It could be muscle which we definitely don’t want to happen as muscle keeps you strong, prevents injuries, and gives you the defined ‘toned’ look most people want.

 

Here’s my excerpt:

 

“To lose fat you must be eating in a calorie deficit.

While there are various ways to do this, all weight loss diets work by creating a deficit in some way. However, this can lead to hunger when you’re eating less food, which you can only ignore for so long before ‘falling off the wagon’.

One very effective way to prevent hunger is to eat a diet that revolves around protein and fibre. Protein from meat, fish, eggs, some dairy products and also good quality protein supplements are best, or Quorn and tofu for vegans. Vegetables are both high in fibre and very low in calories and are high in water which adds bulk.

Example meals could be an omelette with lots of vegetables, big chicken salad, Greek yoghurt with blueberries, or a steak, salmon or Quorn fillet with loads of veg.

Eating enough protein has the extra benefit of supporting muscle, which will help keep your metabolism high while eating less and as you lose weight.

The Government’s recommendations for protein intake are too low for active people, and most health professionals agree we should be eating much more than the advised 5 portions of veg and fruit a day.

Eating a diet rich in both has helped many of my clients lose weight without ever going hungry.”

 

You’ll like this video too: Why a Low Calorie Diet Won’t Work

Read the full article here:

19Nov/17

The Truth About Being Pretty: Why Being Attractive Shouldn’t be so Attractive

A departure from my usual blog topics? Yes, but I felt it was something I needed to get off my chest, so wrote this post from the heart for Mum’s website The Motherload.

 

For what is a fairly controversial and potentially segregating subject, I hope that I’ve opened some eyes and dismissed the misunderstanding that to be traditionally good looking is always a positive. I’d love to hear your feedback after you’ve read it.

 

It was around my early teens that I noticed I was getting attention from men. Not just boys in my year at secondary school but in older years, and even adult males who didn’t seem to notice, or perhaps mind that I was in my school uniform as they’d chat me up in town after school, or on the beach on weekends where I’d hang out with my friends.

 

Far from being bothered, this was the self-esteem boost I’d needed after recently moving to the area and having to adjust and make new friends.

And what teenage girl doesn’t want to be made to feel attractive?

I learned as I grew up that leaning in at a bar (necessary due to my 5’3 stature) would get instant service, a smile could get the best table in a restaurant, free entry to a club, backstage entrance to a gig. I could get the attention of the most attractive man at a party, from models to celebrities. Yes, I exploited it and had fun. Heck, I was 18, and I was going to make the most of the party years. Some minor modelling work came along at various points over the years (I’m too short to take it seriously), so I even made money from how I looked.

It’s funny how the world has become so image obsessed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t part of that, but there’s a fine line between vanity and insecurity, and while I didn’t realise it at the time, my insecurities were brewing into a host of mental health problems that were to surface later on.

When asked if I’d rather be slim and pretty, or fat and ugly, the answer isn’t simple. The question itself is flawed. I’d rather be happy. If being attractive makes you happy then sure, take that. Unfortunately if it was that easy cosmetic surgery would be the answer. It’s never that easy, and while many people think I’m lucky, or have life easy, or am #blessed with wonderful genes, I’d like to shed light on a life that so many are craving.

There are two sides to every coin, including this one.

1. You will be seen first and foremost for your appearance

It’s not just blondes who are stereotyped. People think it’s not possible to have brains and looks. Okay, I may have fluttered my eyelashes to get out of a speeding fine once, but I’m not proud of it, and it says as much about the shallow policeman who let me go. Perhaps the reaction was encouraged by the fact I was wearing my beauty therapist uniform, another career choice put into the ‘all looks and no brains’ category.

Looking good becomes your identity. I’ve done a bit of modelling so it’s even on my CV. But that means people expect you to look good. Not in the way that it’s on their mind but if I turn up somewhere looking tired, with greasy hair, no make-up and premenstrual spots, it doesn’t go unnoticed. For many years I couldn’t let this go and would make the effort to live up to these expectations, which I think in hindsight were my own as well as others’. Thankfully age and confidence have both risen simultaneously, and I happily don’t give a damn if people start wondering if I actually own a shower. I’m pleased I’ve made this turn. Self-esteem built on looks is doomed. Even the most beautiful woman in the world will lose her looks eventually.

2. I’m young and inexperienced (except I’m not)

I remember when I was handed a leaflet in the street about a support group for young (aka teenage) mothers, as I waddled along 8 months pregnant with my first child. I had to hold my tongue not to go into a hormonal rage and wave the ring on my finger in the well-meaning social worker’s face. This isn’t to dismiss teenage or unmarried mothers at all – in fact my own sister is a fantastic young mum, but some people do have preconceived ideas about unplanned teen pregnancies, and I guess it said something about my own insecurities that it bothered me others may also have these judgemental ideas about me.

Now that Aurora is eight, nothing has changed. I ‘must have been a teen mum’ given I’m not old enough to have an eight year old. If I had been, it wouldn’t make a difference to what kind of mother I had become, but why is it that people feel it’s appropriate to make a point of it? You wouldn’t say to an older looking mother, ‘oh, they must have been an IVF baby, you’re too old to be a Mum’. And yes, it is the same thing

3. I have to work hard to be taken seriously

When people presume you are young and dumb, try walking into a business meeting and being taken seriously as a mature and level-headed business woman. I can hold my own very well on the phone but the looks on the bank manager or company owner or potential joint venture’s face doesn’t evade me; ‘she’s not a business woman, she’s just a girl’. It takes a while before they realise what comes out of my mouth isn’t all fluff, after all.

4. I’ve never had male friends

I’m actually quite a tomboy at heart, and with three brothers I understand the other kind quite well. But somewhere along the line a great budding friendship has always turned awkward when they try and make a move, or admit they’d like to be ‘more than friends’. Was it my fault? Was my friendliness giving the wrong impression? I don’t know. I thought being friendly was a good thing. I didn’t know it could so easily be misinterpreted.

I was at a marketing event recently and a lovely guy kept coming over to chat. About halfway through the second day he asked if I was single and I showed him my left hand and said actually I had two children too! He walked off and never spoke to me again. Shame, he was really sweet.

5. I have to be so careful of what my girls pick up

Any mum of girls knows it’s pretty much built into them from an early age, this instinct of wanting to look ‘pretty’ to attract a mate (though that last part thankfully hasn’t clicked in our house yet!). Whether it’s insisting on wearing a princess dress to the supermarket or plastering pink glitter on their eyelids, being pretty matters.

They are pretty girls, but that’s not what I want them to be valued for, and even more what they value themselves for. When friends and relatives call them pretty it angers me, and maybe this is an overreaction, but I wish they were called kind, or thoughtful, or generous, or someone said that they worked really hard at their painting. I don’t call my girls pretty. We must look presentable to go to a party, yes, and dresses and bows and shiny shoes are part of that for my girls (I never pushed this stereotype on them, I battle every winter for them to wear jeans outside when it’s cold; pink dresses always win). But that’s because self-pride is important. Making an effort for others is important. It’s a sign of respect to yourself and to your hosts. You don’t have to be conventionally ‘pretty’ to do that.

6. Male attention can turn bad

While a wolf whistle is nice on occasion, I noticed something as I was growing up that was different about the way these men behaved towards me compared to my friends. I was curvy as a teen – I had boobs worthy of page 3 (breastfeeding sadly said goodbye to those), and somehow wearing a fitted top (as you do, in your late teens) meant men felt they had license to pass all boundaries. It’s one thing getting a ‘hey chick’ across the street, quite another to be cornered, pushed up against a wall, boobs grabbed, and having to resort to kneeing them between the legs to escape.

7. Looks don’t make you happy

While most people think they know this, to really see how true this is you only need to look at my mental health history. I have recently been diagnosed with cyclothymia (a form of bipolar), was hospitalised three times with anorexia, complete with drug-resistant depression and organs that were failing. I’ve overdosed on legal drugs, self-harmed, and have to put my mental health first just to stay functioning on a daily basis. As a personal trainer who’s in okay shape, I frequently hear ‘it’s okay for you and your lack of wobbly bits’. No, it’s not ok for me. I wish it was, but it’s not. Exercise is my therapy, not beauty treatment.

Do I resent looking a certain way?

Absolutely not, I resent and regret nothing in life; I’ve always seen both as a little pointless. And I don’t blame or resent anyone who’s judged me on my looks, from the builder who pinned me up against a wall to the businessman who looked down at me to the dance teacher who casually stamped on my dreams saying I probably wasn’t good enough to get tonnes of work, but why not try modelling? Oddly enough, that was not why I’d spent nine hours a week training for the last six years. This was the same dance school where I’d been praised for being the only one who’d not gained weight over Christmas; I’d been vomiting and taking laxatives.

I hear some women say their looks have alienated them from making friends with other women who feel threatened and jealous. Thankfully that’s never been the case for me and I have some wonderful female friends, maybe even because I don’t want to rely on looks to get things and attract people; I’ll always be as good a person as I can be first and foremost.

In Dr Nancy Etcoff’s “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty”, she believes that appreciating beauty is not learned, but rather it is a biological adaptation. Research on infants’ perception shows that children as young as three months are staring at attractive faces longer than at unattractive ones. Uneven skin and lacklustre hair are a sign of sickness, which to the ancient instinctive human in us means less fertile, which means less attractive. Humans were designed to survive.

Some things just are as they are. There are plus sides, there are downsides, but isn’t that the same with everything in life? At nearly 34 and having found my first two grey hairs already, I’m finally feeling comfortable with who I am as a person, and if I lose my looks completely, that’s okay with me.

02Nov/17
cheap workout

How to do a Cheap Workout that works

If you’re trying to get fit on a budget then learning how to fit in a cheap workout that’s still effective is essential.

 

While some people will claim if they didn’t go to the gym they wouldn’t work out, or the fact they have a personal trainer or own expensive equipment keeps them accountable, is simply a matter of mindset and motivation.

 

But the fact is that if you don’t have a budget that stretched to gym memberships and personal trainers then you’re just going to have to get on with it and do some exercise anyway. If that sounds harsh then if it’s any consolation I don’t have time to spend ages in a gym each day anyway.

 

Once you factor in travelling there and back, shower time, dressing appropriately….at home and old pair of shorts (or even pyjama bottoms in my case) and a tatty sports bra will do. Drag out your old workout mat, grab a glass of (free) tap water, and you’re good to go.

 

Remember, it’s not the fancy new leggings or technologically advanced shaker bottle that keeps you healthy. It’s just getting moving and eating well, which you can do on even the tightest budget if you know how.

 

The Sun Newspaper asked me for my top tips on working out on a budget (find the original article here).

 

Here’s my tips for getting in a cheap workout and extra movement that really does add up:

 

  1. Free apps: Apps are great for people who love using their phones and most offer a free version, with paid upgrades for premium features. WatchFit has tons of free articles as well as relatively cheap plans you can buy.
  2. Gym classes aren’t necessary: Home workouts can be really effective if you can motivate yourself. YouTube has lots of free workout videos to follow too.
  3. Make it up: Make up your own workout using bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, sit-ups, burpees, press-ups and sprints on the spot. Interval training is great if you’re short on time. Or if you prefer getting outdoors then running, cycling or a long walk are all free.
  4. Household chores: Play some lively music, put some effort in and work quickly — you’ll get the jobs done twice as fast and have a tidy house by the end. If gardening, ensure you work up a sweat for it to be effective.
  5. Keep moving: Take every opportunity to move more, like using a standing desk and pacing up and down while taking phone calls. All movement helps boost circulation and prevents stiff muscles and an achy back.
  6. Playing with the kids: If you have children then playing with them is certainly better than sitting on the sofa or park bench. In fact playgrounds are fantastic for an all-over workout, with a good mix of climbing, pulling yourself up, holding your core tight to support yourself and chasing after your kids.
  7. Get creative: Most workout classes will ask for a small fee but if there’s nothing suitable for you why not create your own class with a few friends? Keep each other accountable by committing to meeting in the park or in someone’s living room or garden if there’s space.
  8. Go online: Numerous online support groups are popping up where you can get support and ask advice from people with similar goals. Facebook groups in particular can be a good way to meet other budding fitness fans. Weight Loss and Fitness for Mums is my group aimed at sharing tips on how to get fit and eat healthier.