Muscle Mass – not all weight gain is bad!

I was directed to this article this week:

and it simply explains the importance of building muscle and the benefits of it to many aspects of our health and well being – not just the aesthetics!

So often I am asked ‘how can i lose this bit of belly fat?’ or ‘how can I lose the fat on my arms/inner thighs/waist?’ and the answer, along side healthy diet, is WEIGHT TRAINING! 

When you undertake an exercise programme which involves using weights and body weight, you will more than likely gain some weight. This is OK! Muscle mass is LEAN weight and makes up a significant proportion of our body’s over all weight. Muscle requires energy to fuel it and maintain (most efficiently calories from a healthy diet, not chocolate bars and wine!), therefore, muscle BURNS calories that you consume. Building muscle protects the skeleton, stabilises joints and takes pressure off knees, hips and ankles. Building muscle creates lean definition, thus making the body appear more toned and ‘tight’.

One of the best ways to workout your body fat to muscle ratio is to use a Bioelectrical Impedance Scale (I have one, give me a shout!) which breaks your body weight down into muscle, bone, water and fat. This can be really encouraging especially if you feel you aren’t making the progress you want.

Eat healthily, with a sustainable and varied diet. Keep an eye on portion sizes and reduce the amount of refined sugars and unpronounceables (artifical sweeteners, preservatives and chemical additives). Drink plenty of water and avoid eating late. and..



So: most of us are feeling a little squishier, a bit guilty and in need of getting ‘back on the wagon‘ and feeling fit again. (If this isn’t you….what’s your secret?!:p)
That’s OK! Don’t feel bad for enjoying yourself! Of course, there are ways of being a little bit more virtuous when socialising (as mentioned in previous email!) But, what’s done is done and let’s LOOK FORWARD.
Fact: Resolutions made on Jan 1st are 40% more likely to be kept than ones made at any other time of the year
So, what changes would you like to make for this coming year? Continue as you have been, working towards your goals in a manageable, sustainable wayDo you need to ‘up your game’ and have a little word with yourselfOR do you need to be a little LESS hard on yourself and celebrate your successes more?
Whatever you want to do, make the goals SMART:
SPECIFIC (what is the goal, what does it look like?)
MEASURABLE (is it in weight, amount, size, shape, ? Eg 10 pull ups!)
ACHIEVABLE (There is no point in choosing something so far out of reach you will always be disappointed!)
REALISTIC (as above! Make sure you have chosen something you know is possible, even if it’s a challenge)
TIME BOUND (set a time period to achieve this in, to keep focus and limit how overwhelming the task might seem!)
Loosely set goals like ‘eat better, move more’ aren’t going to be as successfully met as ‘stop mid week drinking’ or ‘ exercise every Friday’ …!
Let’s make 2020 GREAT


Eat correctly
  • Yep  the old adage “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is spot on.
  • I never recommend ;dieting’ per-se, healthy habits are for life, not for a short amount of time. Quick-fixes are just that – quick and short term. I promote long-term lifestyle changes which will be sustainable, non restrictive, and ensure maintaining progress for life.
  • General rules apply – avoid processed sugars and carbohydrates as much as possible (white bread, white pasta, sweets, chocolate, foods and drinks with added sugars and ALCOHOL). Eat wholegrain and protein with every meal (eggs, wholemeal bread, brown rice, fish, white meats, soy and vegetarian alternatives), drink plenty of water throughout the day (carry a bottle everywhere) and don’t have a heavy meal late in the evening, it’s not needed!
  • Additionally – eating TOO LITTLE can mean you aren’t going to be fuelling the new muscle you are building, you don’t have enough energy and you feel generally rubbish! It’s a learning process, but I can help if you seek specific weight management help when it comes to food.


Rest when needed
  • Stress hormone Cortisol can actually make your body hold on to fat, particularly around the waist.
  • It’s hard with jobs, families and social commitments to ensure you rest enough. This doesn’t mean a take away and a bottle of wine in front of the telly, this means allowing yourself a day when you are not going 100 miles an hour – take a gentle walk in the fresh air, do some stretches, read a  book, go to bed earlier and lay off the caffeine and alcohol.
  • As much as you need to exercise, you need to rest to avoid the symptoms of ‘over training’ such as fatigue, plateaus in progress, injuries and losing motivation.



1: Strength Train
  • Training with me, we will use weights.
  • Building your muscle WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY (GIRLS!) It will increase the lean muscle mass in your body, meaning your body burns calories more effectively due to needing to fuel these muscles. Building lean muscle improves your aesthetic – definition, shape, less ‘wobble’! It also means support for joints and improved posture. Guys – you have testosterone – which is why guys and girls can lift the same weights and guys will ‘bulk up’ (in general) and women will not achieve the same shape.
  • Aim to lift weights, or use resistance bands, 3-4 times per week, covering each muscle group and not just doing what you like! 3-4 Sets of 8-10 repetitions is a good area to aim for, you should just about to be able to complete the last couple of reps whilst still keeping good form (this gives you an idea of the kind of resistance you should be using).



Today I’m just asking a simple question :
What are you doing today?
As in.. What exercise activity are you undertaking?
Every day, there is AT LEAST 15 minutes  which you can use to make a deposit into your ‘fitness bank’.
  • Will you do a fast and furious HIIT session?
  • Go for a run?
  • Have a brisk walk?
  • Pop to the gym?
  • Drop into the swimming pool?
  • Pump some iron in a home-strength workout?
  • Get down to the yoga or pilates studio?
  • Or maybe… You’re seeing me?!
If you’re at work today, pick before, during (lunch break) , or after work to do SOMETHING beneficial to your health and fitness... And stick to it.
It’s not a luxury or an option to be overridden: your health and fitness is your priority, after all, you only get one body 💪👍

‘weight’ loss

Today I wanted to say a little bit about weight, losing it, maintaining it and what IT is!
When we fitness folk hear the phrase ‘i want to lose weight’, we probably get REALLY annoying by asking what this means. Our body’s weight is made up of
Fat (Subcutaneous and Visceral)
So when you say you want to lose weight…we need to define this as ‘losing body fat’ or more specifically: ‘reducing body fat percentage’.
I offer for you to hop on the BEI (Bio-Electrical Impedance) scales to see just what your body is made up of, in what proportions, and where this sits in the healthy to unhealthy range for each element. Now, DISCLAIMER: none of these portable scales is going to be as accurate as a DEXXA scan at a hospital or specialist centre, however they are pretty accurate and great to track trends and progress over the weeks. 
A little about fat vs muscle
If you come to me with 30% body fat and 2.5kg of muscle on your body, and tell me you wish to lose weight, we are going to be focusing on reducing that body fat percentage, and aiming to maintain or possibly slightly increase your muscle mass (depending on your needs)
If you lose 1kg body fat, and gain 0.5kg muscle mass, then the general ‘weight’ on the scales won’t look like it’s changed much. BUT your body INSIDE will have. You will have shed some useless, unhealthy fat, and gained lean muscle. More muscle doesn’t mean bulky – it means more calorie burning to maintain the muscle, it means support for the skeleton, it means more strength, balance and resilience.
Eg. pics  taken from the internet :
Both these women are the SAME WEIGHT. However, one clearly has a higher body fat percentage than the other, less muscle tone, and that is only what you can see on the outside. An unhealthy lifestyle can also impact on fat around your organs (visceral fat) which we DON’T want!
So, when you say you ‘want to lose weight’, my aim is to lose some of the ‘unhealthy; weight, the body fat, and build lean muscle which may not have a massive impact on your ‘weight’ but will show a change to your BODY COMPOSITION.
AND, of course,  none of which can be fully achieved without regular exercise AND a healthy diet 😉


This week I want to remind you of the importance of not only strength, but flexibility when it comes to fitness. Some of my clients recently have experienced the joy/pain of my flexibility band!
Whether you have had an exercise session today or not, your body will need a STRETCH.
Did you know:
  • Simply sitting down at a desk all day will tighten your hip flexors (top of the thigh) which will cause your glutes to lengthen to compensate, causing possible hip pain.
  • Sitting slouched will also cause more pressure on your intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine (lower back) which can cause lower back pain and stiffness.
  • Stretching specific areas for up to 60 seconds each regularly (at least every other day, or when tight) can help posture improvement, reduce muscle soreness and improve circulation and help to heal and prevent back and knee pain..
… So why wouldn’t you do it?!
6 Key areas to stretch:
Erector spinae (the muscles either side of spine). Lie down and bring both knees up to your chest by grabbing either around your knees if you don’t have any knee pain, or underneath if you do have knee pain. Then tuck in your chin and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. 
Hamstrings Lie on the floor on your back. Loop a long bath towel around your toes and hold the ends of the towel in both hands. Slowly pull on the towel to lift your straight leg up. Bring your leg up until a stretch is felt behind your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, and then relax.
Glutes Lie flat on your back and bend both knees. Cross one leg over the other so your foot is on the opposite knee. Bring both knees towards your chest and gently pull the uncrossed leg towards you until you feel a stretch in your buttock. Hold for 30 secs
Hip flexors Kneel on your left knee.Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor. Squeeze your bum UNDER; this will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more. Then, rotate your torso open to the left. Hold 30 secs if you can, then repeat on other side.
Calves Stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other, front knee slightly bent. Keep your back knee straight, your heel on the ground, and lean toward the wall. Feel the stretch all along the calf of your back leg. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Upper back. Hold arms straight infront of you, twist so palms face outwards. And place palms of hands together. Interlace fingers and round the upperback. Push hands fowards, away from you to feel your upper back opening. Drop chin and hold thisposition for 20-30 seconds
These are just a few ideas, but give them a go each eve to relax you before bed, or each morning to wake up and set you up for the day! Do this for a week and see how much better you feel.


5 reasons you’re not hitting your weight loss goals

I want to begin by strongly stating that ‘weight loss’ is the term I am using to improve body composition – gaining muscle, reducing body fat. Remember that every human body needs a certain amount of body fat to function, fat has an important role to play in the functioning of the human body,  and the ‘goals’ I encourage are to be healthy, fit and strong – inside and out.


1)     You’re not taking notice of what you consume

A nibble here, a spoonful there, half of this and that. When we think of our day’s food and drink consumption, we regularly think only of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, not the milky coffee with a muffin, slice of bread and jam, or banana we had randomly. These mouthfuls all add up, and could be the reason you’re not shifting the weight.

2)     Underestimating portions

So, you are keeping a track of your daily intake of food and drink, but are you weighing and measuring? Are you checking the back of packets for what a ‘portion size’ means? We can greatly underestimate our consumption by 10-50% which can have a huge effect on our weight-loss goals.

3)     Not keeping a weekly calorie deficit

To lose 1lb of fat per week, we need to be in a calorie deficit of 500kcal per day (=3500 per week). This is a healthy and sustainable rate to lose body fat at. However, if you are inconsistent, then this will not be the case. For example, yo-yo-ing between very low calorie days and high calorie days, bingeing at weekends way beyond your daily calorie expenditure, not taking in to account the 1000kcal of alcohol you consumed in one night…this will all add up to a detrimental effect on your diet goals.  (similarly, too large a deficit will slow the metabolism and have a detrimental effect on your goals as well as your health. Don’t be fooled into thinking ‘the less I eat the better’).

4)     Not mixing up exercise routine

Do you spend hours on the treadmill? Or bike? Or ONLY do weights because you HATE cardio? Whilst the digits on the screen might say you are burning a huge number of calories, your body will be getting used to the exercise, and its weight-loss effect will become diluted. Cardio is great for heart and lung health, and does burn calories, but to get more out of your time, mix up your routines with some resistance training and HIIT. The human body burns more calories per day to maintain a lb of muscle than a lb of fat.  Therefore the more muscle your build, the more calories you burn. And ladies – YOU WILL NOT GET ‘CHUNKY’! High Intensity Interval Training is a time-effective way to challenge your cardio system and boost fat burn through the EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption), or ‘after burn’ which you will benefit from long after the workout.

5)     Not chilling out enough!

After all of the above, don’t forget the importance of sleep and rest. Yes, being ‘lazy’ isn’t going to help, but you will learn to listen to your body. If you have been ill or excessively busy and feel downright exhausted, don’t throw yourself into a gruelling HIIT routine. Aim for a walk, maybe some stretches. Overtraining is a real phenomenon and symptoms can be fatigue, failure to recover from workouts, and plateaus in progress. Aim for good ‘sleep hygiene’: get to bed at a decent time, avoid caffeine late and night and have less crazy nights out!


If you’re serious about hitting your goals, you will make these changes.


Whether you walk the dog every day, go for a run on your favourite route most days, or go to a gym class every day of the week …your body MAY be getting used to the exercise and therefore stopped adapting to exercise (ie, stopped burning calories as efficiently as at the start, stopped challenging your heart and lungs as much as before, and stopped using the energy systems as well as when you began).
In short, you plateau
So, what can you do?
1) Consider your diet, look at reducing by a couple of hundred calories a day, or if you don’t calorie count, make portion sizes slightly smaller for each meal. If you are hungry, fill up on protein and fibre-rich foods such as Greek Yoghurt, wholemeal bread, no added salt or sugar peanut butter, egg whites and chicken (be careful to keep an eye on the carbohydrate content of foods, particularly sugars)
2) add 15-30 mins to your usual routine. If you are short of time, try an extra 15 mins at a higher intensity. If you are exhausted at the end of each workout, maybe try just adding 5 mins extra for a week or so and then building up. The extra push will challenge your system. 

3) Change your routine! If you always run, or always cycle, or always walk, your body may be used to the movement and the load and not working as hard as you would like it to. Try a different exercise, or go heavier with weights, or go for more hills when running (for example).
4) re consider your ‘cheat days’ if you have them. Some of us eat VERY WELL Mon-Fri and then indulge over Sat and/ or Sunday. This might be hampering progress, and instead think about only having a ‘cheat meal’ instead of a whole day.
5) get enough rest! You may think if you are on the go all the time you will be burning loads of calories and therefore getting closer to your weight loss goal. NOT necessarily. The body is designed for survival and when we push it too hard without enough fuel, it begins to hold on to reserves. You may have heard of the  stress hormone cortisol  – both these things can lead to the body retaining fat reserves , usually around the tummy in the case of Cortisol.
Be kind to yourself – work hard but also ensure you have ‘down time’. This doesn’t mean eating chocolate and drinking wine, but spending time with friends and family, having a lie-in, doing yoga (great vids on you tube!) or going for a coffee.