About Nadia Tejani

Nadia Tejani lives in Surrey and works as a Personal Trainer specialising in weight management and obesity. She is also a Sports Massage Therapist and fitness model. Nadia runs marathons and does Olympic weightlifting and she has been competing nationally in Natural Figure (Bodybuilding) competitions since 2008. Nadia has a degree in Pharmacology and is qualified in Nutrition. She sticks to a strict clean vegetarian diet and practise what she preaches! Nadia has 3 dogs, a tiny horse and 2 pygmy goats.

Jodie Marsh – Beauty or Beast?

Standing by Jodie Marsh in matching black bikinis waiting to go on stage is rather intimidating to say the least, with her heavily bronzed tan and lights, Jodie’s body was a far cry from the Page 3 look we are accustomed to seeing in the pages of glossy magazines, but is it a step too far for the price of fame? Where does one draw the line of beauty?

No stranger to fame Jodie has spent 10 years in the public eye and appeared in numerous lads magazines and TV programs, even marrying for attention, but this was different, this time she sculpted her body with heavy weights, an intense and grueling cardio regime and a super strict clean diet of high protein, low complex carbohydrates and good fats for several months, culmination in a few final days where carbohydrates are eaten and water is depleted from the body, resulting in a muscular defined body that earned her fifth place and a trophy at the Natural Physique Association (NPA) Mike Willaims Classic and Pro-Am Bodybuilding  Championships.

Many may say her new body is less attractive than before and rather off putting, but few have seen the hard work and dedication it takes, the weeks of dieting, restricting yourself to certain foods, abstaining form drinking, changing your workouts to keep your body guessing, the early morning cardio sessions, the dehydration the night before, this is no easy way to gain the publics attention.

Surely a muscular toned body displays signs of strength, power, virility and health, and with the shift from size zero models isn’t a healthier look more attractive? Should we really be criticizing her for eating carefully albeit extreme, and for training hard?

With the Olympics looming even non sport related companies such as insurance companies are using athletes and sports models to promote their products, implying that an athletic look is in fact appealing.

As obesity rises in the world and in particular theUK, the latest Health Survey forEnglanddata shows us that nearly 1 in 4 adults, and over 1 in 10 children aged 2-10, are obese. So perhaps instead of sitting on the sofa complaining about someone who has altered their body dramatically, reduced their body fat from 25% to 10% and increased their lean muscle – which is hard enough for a man with a healthy amount of testosterone to do, let alone a vegetarian woman over 30 to do, we should be commending her.

After all, what better role model is there to young anorexically inclined girls who are influenced by celebrity magazines and bombarded with usual pictures of skinny gaunt celebrities, than someone who has changed their life for the better and has the confidence to stand in front of a panel of Pro bodybuilder judges against a number of other elite athletes, to be criticized, scrutinized and pulled apart.

And who’s to say that muscles on a woman are unattractive? Woman often join a gym or hire a trainer because they want to be “more toned” so they take up running or spinning or some other form of cardio, but what they really mean is they want to build a little muscle and lose some body fat as Jodie has done. Most will avoid the “mens” area of the gym, the free weights section, in favor of the recumbent bikes and the stepper or cross trainer, but what Jodie has realized is that it’s the weight training that makes you more toned and sexy without becoming butch or resembling Arnold Schwarzenegger in a dress.

To slate Jodie for the clothes she used to wear on a night out in her hometown Essex, or the TV appearances she made or the men she dated is one thing, but to criticize someone for changing their life, taking a stand and creating a body that they are entirely happy with is unfair. Few women can say they are a 100% happy with their figure, most have some body part they would like to alter or improve, their belly, bingo wings, flabby thighs or less than pert behind, Jodie however has meticulously crafted her body using hard work and sheer determination, if that does not inspire people than what does…

Jodie Marsh: Bodybuilder premieres on DMAX in  January 2012.

Image reproduced from Heat Magazine

The 3 Body Types: Endomorph, Ectomorph & Mesomorph

Ever wondered why a training routine that appears to be followed by a celebrity doesn’t seem to be working for you? Or what may work wonders for your friends figure has no effect on your shape whatsoever? This is because we all have different body types and need to account for this when planning a workout or nutritional plan.

To begin, identify what somatotype (body type) you are, untrained. This means what your body would look like without any training.

Ectomorphs are naturally thin with a small bone structure, meaning small wrists, narrow shoulder width and thin muscles. This makes it difficult to put on weight, both fat and muscle.

Endomorphs are softer and curvy, naturally hefty with a round shape and thick joint. It is easy to put on weight, both fat and muscle.

Mesomorphs have a naturally athletic physique with an upright posture and broad shoulders, small waist, T shape or a rectangular shape with thick skin. They can even have good definition and muscularity without lifting weights or doing much exercise.

It’s possible to be a combination of the above somatotypes. It is rare to find a person who is at a total extremity. The term phenotype is defined as “The observable physical or biochemical characteristics of an organism, as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences.”

This scale uses three digits, each of which describes how prominent a certain body type is. For instance, a pure endomorph (hefty build) would be a 7-1-1. A pure mesomorph (athletic build) would be a 1-7-1. A pure ectomorph (thin build) would be a 1-1-7. A totally average person would be a 4-4-4 and would have a little of each body type.

There is a clear visible physical distinction between the three phenotypes, but what is not visible and often ignored is the biochemical and metabolic differences between the three phenotypes.

Each phenotype has its advantages and disadvantages with regards to training and these need to be respected in order to achieve a goal or a change in body shape.

An ectomorph will find bodyweight exercises easy with practice such as pull-ups, dips, push-ups, chin-ups due to having a lighter weight than a meso or endo. Ectos are also able to achieve the best definition because of the ease of losing fat, and the natural lean structure.

Ectomorphs may have a disadvantage in gaining muscle mass, but find it easy to stay lean and are better suited to lower intensities. Losing fat can be more difficult as they have less to lose and will inevitably lose a small amount of muscle which they have less of. Endos will find losing fat easier as they can afford to lose some muscle, as with mesomorphs.

Endomorphs have the most limited range of effective workouts and may be unable to do some effective exercises such as pull-ups, dips, push-ups, and chin-ups due to being heavier.

However endos are able to solely focus on strength gains at first since they are naturally big and can often put on size quickly, shortening the time needed for muscular gains. Endos trying to lose weight can do a variety of exercises.

Mesomorphs advantages are broad shoulders, small waist, thick skin, hard body, strong posture and the readiness to gain muscle and lose body fat and can push their bodies very hard.

Training to your body type will work on your strengths, improve weaknesses and help you achieve your goal without overtraining or injuring your body with wasted hours doing the wrong kind of workouts.

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Eat What’s Right for Your Body Type

Although there are government guidelines regarding the recommended quantity of macronutrients that we all should be eating, there are actually three different macronutrient recommendations one could choose to follow, depending on how your body burns.

If your body tends to store fat easily, you will need to eat a different amount of carbs, protein and fat to someone else who burns their food slowly and rarely stores fat.

During the process when food is broken down, oxidation occurs, converting carbs into glucose. This is released in the blood, stimulating the pancreas to release the hormone insulin to mop up the glucose(sugar) from the blood. This sugar is not being utilised by the body for energy and it needs to be stored in the cells as fat.

Depending on our body types, we oxidise foods in different ways. This can explain why certain diets work on celebs or our friends but not on us.

To eat correctly for your body type, it is important to understand which type you are. This can help you consume the optimum nutrients to achieve maximum results.

Fast oxidisers store fat easily. This is because the nutrients in their food are broken down very so rapidly that the carb content is broken down to glucose and released into the blood almost at once. This sudden increase in blood sugar quickly causes vast amounts of insulin to be released to mop up the extra glucose, which the body then stores as fat in the cells.

The more carb content in a fast oxidiser’s food, the more energy will be available to the body right away, and so more fat is stored.

The hormone insulin works quickly to remove the glucose from the blood, causing a dramatic rise and inevitable fall in blood sugar levels that result from fast oxidation. This is called a sugar crash. For a fast oxidiser, foods with high carb ratios will therefore cause fatigue, carb cravings and fat storage.

Fast oxidisers would benefit from consuming meals with more proteins and fats in order to slow down their rate of oxidation and insulin release, and to better promote stable blood sugar and sustained energy levels.

On the other end of the scale, slow oxidisers burn through the nutrients in their food slowly and do not release the glucose from carbohydrates into the blood quickly enough, which means that they do not get converted into glucose, and energy production and availability are delayed. They will be less likely to store fat.

The presence of protein and fat in the meal will slow down the rate of oxidisation even further, so a slow oxidiser should eat a higher ratio of carbs in order to gain an increase in energy as storing fat is far less of an issue.

As you have probably guessed, balanced oxidisers fall right in between the two. Ideally meals should contain equal quantities of protein, fat, and carbs in order to obtain the maximum amount of nutrients and energy from the foods.

The three main body types are shown below with the ideal macronutrient percentage of your total daily food intake, and per meal.

1. Fast oxidisers: 20%carbs, 50% protein, 30%fat.
2. Slow oxidizers: 60%carbs, 25%protein, and 15%fat.
3. Balanced oxidizers: 40%carbs, 30%protein, and 30%fat

Training Advice for Mesomorphs

This is the best body type to be in and is characterized by the presence of broad shoulders, a small waist, thick skin and a hard body. Also a strong posture, the readiness to gain muscle and lose body fat, the mesomorph is naturally very strong.

Mesomorphs have bodies are actually designed for the stress of sports involving strength and power such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, rugby and other sports that require great physical exertion, but are unlikely to excel at pure endurance sports such as triathlons or marathon running.

This body type can handle high intensities well and respond better than with low intensity workouts. Needing less rest than other body types they can handle high frequency training efficiently due to their finely tuned recovery systems.

This can be because they are advanced lifters or athletes though an untrained mesomorph will still have a good posture with a decent amount of muscularity even without ever looking at a dumbbell.

Their bodies are physically stronger and therefore less prone to injury. Because of this they can attempt advanced training programs such as HTF (High frequency training), Hypertrophy specific training, German Volume Training, Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty HIT Program.

Metabolic circuits are useful with little rest as the mesomorph body can withstand a great deal of stress. Whole body movements with free weights or suspension kits rather than fixed pathway machines will use more muscles and keep the body in postural alignment rather than accentuating deviations with isolation exercises.

Weight lifting techniques will boost your progress whether your goals are sporting related, or in the pursuit of a better body. Techniques such as drop sets, rest pause training, eccentrics, forced reps, burns, negatives and variations of supersets keep the body guessing and challenge the muscles. This increases the intensity and overloads the muscles to a greater extent. The more stress your muscles are under, the more they will become stronger and grow to respond to that extra stress.

Changing the repetitions during your workouts will also aid strength gains by preventing your body from adapting to a certain rep range and more importantly it works different muscle fibers. Increasing the quantity of muscles fibres recruited during a workout leads to greater muscle growth and quicker body composition changes.

Any alterations in the speed of lifting and lowering of any exercise can help vary the workout so the body is always being challenged and making progress.

Flexibility can be an issue with mesomorphs due to the large amount of muscularity. Regular deep stretching such as Self mysofacial release will help increase the range of movements and so increase the amount of muscle fibers used.

Changing the workout style is an important point you should consider. Different workout programs challenge and exert the body in different ways that will increase your progress and make your body more physically able.

Although mesomorphs are capable or training super hard, explosively and with heavy weights at high intensities, a new comer with little or no experience of training would benefit from a 2 months introductory program.

As for cardiovascular exercise, a mesomorph should do approximately 2 cardio sessions a week that last anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes to keep the heart and lungs healthy.

For this body type high intensity interval training is the most beneficial. Not only will it help speed up gains, it helps to burn fat and stay lean without losing important muscle mass. Interval sprints and other explosive exercises should be used.

Mesomorphs have the easiest task at gaining muscle and keeping it but still need to do resistance training regularly. They can push their bodies very hard without overtraining and will see results fast.

Image reproduced from menshealth.com

Are You “Skinny Fat”?

We all know someone at work or socially, who spends hours each week doing cardio, be it running, cycling or on the cross trainer at the gym, who stays very thin, with long skinny arms and legs and appears to have low body fat.

But look closely and you may see a little fat around the belly area, this is known as “skinny fat”. A derogatory term, it is used to describe people who are usually underweight but hold fat around their midsection or in the case of men, have a small amount of man boobs, or “moobs”.

Though not the desired effect, nor the logical result of hours of cardiovascular training, these people are at a loss to understand how their body becomes this shape. Surely reducing the calories eaten and plodding along for their morning runs and training sessions, the spinning classes and legs, bums and tums would turn their initially soft body into a honed toned body with Kate Moss’s quads, Abby Clancy’s abs and Kylie’s behind.

And the more flab they see in the midsections the more they increase the distance of their runs, or the volume of their training. In doing so they increase the stress on their already over trained bodies and they increase the load on the tendons and joints. Whilst in this state of constant of atrophy, or muscle wastage, they may well be losing weight on the scales, though little of this loss is body fat.

A similar body shape can be achieved with dieting and limited exercise, when unhappy with the fat stored in the belly area, the person will just diet for longer, restrict their eating even further, resulting in even skinnier limbs, and the same amount of fat in the belly area.

This can all be changed with some careful thought. Instead if depleting the glycogen stores in all the muscles, eating slow release complex carbohydrates around training will bring fill the glycogen stores in the muscles, making them look fuller and more defined. Carbohydrates at the optimum time of day will fuel the body when it needs it, and keep energy levels up. Also once the body gets used to having a regular injection of carbohydrate every 2-3 hours, it will allow the fat to be utilised. When the body is in a state of overtraining and under eating, it will go into a type of “starvation mode” and cling onto any fat that it can.

Good natural protein sources eaten regularly throughout the day will help prevent muscle breakdown. These can be seeds, nuts, eggs, cottage cheese or lean meats.

Resting is incredibly important. Sleeping for 7-8 hours a night and having a day off training at least a couple of days per week will enable the muscles to grow, so that each training session can be tougher and more intense than before.

Weight bearing exercise preferably with free-weights, kettle bells, medicine balls, suspension kits and ViPRs will build muscle and tone the body, changing the composition from skinnyfat to lean and toned in a matter of months. All this can be done outside with only a small amount of equipment and a little know-how, without even stepping foot in a sweaty gym or forking out for a monthly membership.

Instead of jogging or cycling at one steady state pace, reduce the volume and the total time spent, and increase the intensity. Add some sprints in to the mix to strip the body fat and retain the muscle.

Everyone has a right to be completely happy with the way they look and shouldn’t have to settle for second best.

Image reproduced from indiancookerychannel.com

Adaptation Gives Better Results when Exercising

Many clients hire personal trainers to achieve their goals, stating that the particular machines or methods of exercising that they have used for a length of time, have not enabled them to yet see results.

For example they may have been using the cross trainer every day for months and have not lost weight, or have been doing the same weights program at the gym for a number of years and have not changed shape at all.

Conversely many people have had the same personal trainer for a period of time and have yet to see a change in shape, body composition or fitness level.

Adaptation and fitness are both fundamental characteristics of plant and animal species, which enable us to survive in a changing climate and to adapt in time to any changes that occur in our environment.

Adaptation is not a new concept. We have known for hundreds of years that the human body, when presented with an enormous amount of physical, psychological or chemical stress, can adapt to the source of stress, allowing the body to tolerate incrementally larger similar stresses.

However, it was not until 1936 Hans Seyle gave us our first understanding of exactly how adaptation occurred. Selye spent a lifetime pursuing a goal of understanding how various stresses cause humans to respond and adapt. His work in this area forms the essential foundation of exercise physiology.

As we know from English Naturalist Charles Darwin’s work nearly 200 years ago, Evolution involves two interrelated phenomena; involving the adaptation to the environment, and speciation, meaning that any two species on earth today have at some stage in history shared a common ancestor.

As amazing and absurd as this sounds, it does demonstrate the importance of adaptation. With our superior human brains, we can use this information to our advantage, and push our bodies in ways we could never do before, causing an adaptive response.

Remembering that the body will only change, whether this be body composition or fitness, if pushed to a point at which it struggles, enables us to see some amazing results.

Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates workouts, was born over 100 years ago with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. In dedicating his life to improving his physical strength he created a body so perfect that he was used in anatomical charts by the age of 14, and devised a range of training programs including Pilates and Contrology, both of which work on improving core strength and postural control.

In conclusion the body will only change when challenged to its limit or very close to that point.

Reaching muscle failure is a common technique used to improve muscle strength.

Cardio training once a week at continuously around 85-90% of your maximum heart rate for 20-25 minutes will improve your lactic acid threshold.

If you find an activity easy then the chances are your body will not have any reason to adapt or improve change. Challenge yourself and keep altering your routines every 4-6 weeks. The options are limitless.

Training Advice for Endomorphs

Endomorphs carry more body fat than other types and tend to be softer and curvier. While this may sound like a disadvantage, they can lose fat with correct eating habits and by training hard, they can afford to lose a small amount of muscle on the way. In fact many of the best fitness models are endomorphs with a little mesomorph and when trained can have a curvy shapely toned body.

Endomorphs aiming to burn body fat need to eat a hypocalorific diet. In addition to controlling your caloric intake, as an endomorph it is vital to control insulin secretion. This can be done by limiting carbohydrate consumption, especially high glycemic carbohydrates. Managing insulin levels will aid fat loss and avoid crashes and cravings.

One way to control your caloric intake is to eat frequent small meals. Waiting for long periods of time with no food causes your body to send signals to the brain telling it the body needs food. Sporadic meals encourage overeating on those meals.

Smaller frequent meals with the right quantity of carbs, protein and fat will prevent overeating. Including fat and protein in a meal will slow down the digestion of carbs, and slow down gastric emptying.

Eating smaller meals controls the secretion of insulin. For instance, eating a 400 calorie meal will result in less insulin secretion than eating a 1,000 calorie meal.

One of the physiological mechanisms that cause endomorphs to gain fat easily can be poor insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity refers to the cells response to insulin or insulin’s efficiency on cells. A cell that is very insulin sensitive needs less insulin to uptake glucose than a cell that is insulin insensitive.

The hormone insulin is anti-lipolytic and prevents fat oxidation increasing fat storage. Therefore, if one has poor insulin sensitivity then more insulin will be secreted and fat oxidation will be blunted and fat storage will be increased to a greater degree than if their cells were more insulin sensitive. In order to lose fat or keep fat gains to a minimum one must control insulin.

The consumption of carbohydrates leads to a large output of insulin since insulin is necessary for the uptake of glucose into cells. Eating large amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day will lead to elevated insulin levels, thereby decreases fat oxidation.

Limiting carbohydrates to times when your body needs them and so earning your carbs will aid in muscle growth and limiting fat gains. Endomorphs should limit their carbohydrates to breakfast and pre/post workout and obtain their carbs from green vegetables in other meals throughout the day.

Training for an endomorph should include cardiovascular exercise to increase stamina and endurance and burn calories. Cardiovascular training is very important for endomorphs, as they are prone to storing and carrying excess body fat. By implementing cardio into your regime, expect an increase in metabolism, a greater feeling of well being, an increase in fat reduction, and increased endurance.

The use of low-intensity cardio, done before breakfast allows one to burn more calories while not hampering recovery and tapping into fat stores when glycogen depleted.

HIIT is more intense than low-intensity cardio. Interval training involves alternating periods of work and rest (or lower levels of work). Bursts of power walking, jogging then walk recoveries or even sprints with walk recoveries shift body fat and retain the muscle and shape.

Since your basal metabolic rate accounts for such a large component of your daily calorie burn, the more you can do to increase it up higher, the better off you’re going to be.

A solid running sprints workout can boost the metabolism for a whole day after it has been completed, and so is very beneficial for endomorphs.

Endomorphs should focus on increasing their metabolism through their training.

A short intense routine that focusing on circuit training using whole body movements rather than fixed pathway machines should take place. Using kettle bells, medicine balls and Olympic lifting gear will help to increase the endomorph’s metabolism. This can last for 25-30 minutes and be repeated 3 times per week for maximum benefits.

For maximum EPOC circuits should be fast and intense. Short rest periods (45-60 seconds) with moderate weights will increase the heart rate, resulting in a greater breakdown of fat tissue. Compared with cardio, circuits will increase EPOC, calories burned after training for up to 72 hours after a session.

Endomorphs are strong and do not need to concern themselves with the risks of overtraining such as with ectomorphs. Endomorphs can push themselves far harder and need to do so in order to shift fat that they naturally store.

Image reproduced from menshealth.com

Muscles and Exercise


1. Quadriceps
2. Hamstrings
3. Calves
4. Chest
5. Back
6. Shoulders
7. Triceps
8. Biceps
9. Forearms
10. Trapezius
11. Abs

 1. Quadriceps

The thigh is formed of 4 large muscles hence the term “quads” or quadriceps. These are easy to work effectively using a range of exercises, the most popular ones being:-

  • Squats
  • Overhead Squats
  • Clean and jerk
  • Lunges
  • Barbell hack squats

Runners tend to have relatively weak quads and building them up will improve performance. Working on your quads can also help reduce knee pain.

2. Hamstrings

The hamstrings are a huge muscle group on the back of your thighs, the antagonist to the quadriceps.

They are the biceps of the lower body yet many people never work them.

Enormously useful when running, and should be trained regularly.

They are used during squats, but you should give them more attention with:-

  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Stiff legged deadlifts

3. Calves

The calves are the one major muscle group that most people fail to train. The calves are a very stubborn muscle group and can be very tough to build without hard work.

The key to building calves is to work each major muscle group in the calf area: the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the tibialis anterior.

Calf raises are the best way to train them such as:-

  • Standing
  • Seated
  • Donkey calf raises
  • Block calf raises

 4. Chest

The chest is one the muscle group most often trained as it is very important to both men and women. However training the chest more often than other body parts will cause injury, pain and a rounded posture. Bench press repeated again and again will not improve your chest. Instead try varying your routine and ensure you train each major body part equally.

There are a variety of exercises including:-

  • Pressups
  • Pec flyes

5. Back

The back is one of the largest muscle groups and needs to be trained as much as the chest. Pulling exercises generally involve the back, and pushing exercises generally train the chest.

To work the lower back, deadlifts are great and increase thickness. They also strengthen your back to prevent injuries when lifting, and train your body to squat down and lift using your legs rather than by bending over, causing injury.

To widen your back chose pullups and chin ups.

Bent over rows work on increasing width and thickness in your back.

6. Shoulders

The shoulders consist of front deltoids, side deltoids, and rear deltoids that make up the shoulder muscle.

The overhead press is the best overall exercise for the shoulders. It works all 3 heads of the shoulder muscle well when the exercise is done with proper form and technique.

Although sometimes ignored, it is important to build strong shoulders to avoid injury and pain and learn how to lift with proper form and technique.

7. Triceps

The triceps make up about 2/3 of the upper arm as opposed to the bicep biceps which only makes up about 1/3 of the upper arm. However most men especially work on the bicep alone in an effort to build bigger arms.

Women tend to work on the triceps as it’s the part often called ”bingo wings” and can be worked by a variety of exercises.

  • Rope/bar Pushdowns
  • Dips
  • Extensions

Compound exercises are much more effective than isolation exercises as they allow you to lift heavier.

Don’t be afraid to use heavy weights, you will get results much quicker.

8. Biceps

The biceps help with back exercises such as chin ups, rows and pull ups.

Compound exercises are the best for developing the biceps such as the close grip pull up with palms facing towards your body. Alternate dumbbell curls also allows you to lift the heaviest weights of all the curl variations.

The biceps get worked very hard during back exercises like rows, chin ups, and pull ups.

9. Forearms

Even though many exercises involving holding, lifting or gripping weights work on the forearms, there are still a few exercises to increase size and strength including:-

  • Hammer curls
  • Wrist curls
  • Pinwheel curls

Improving your forearm strength will enable you to lift more weights and positively affect the rest of your training.

10. Trapezius

The trapezius or ‘traps’ for short is the large muscle in your upper back. It makes a triangle shape with the point in the middle of your upper back.

The deadlifts work the traps very effectively, as do upright rows. Another important exercise for the traps is the power shrug.

11. Abs

Most people dream of getting a perfect 6 pack but unless your body fat is super low, below 9%, the 6 pack wont show.

As long as you train the rest of your body hard with free weights and functional core exercises, you don’t need to invest too much time doing ab exercises.

One myth is that doing ab exercises burns fat, spot reduction is not possible. The best way to get your abs to show is to reduce bodyfat slowly by training hard and keep the lean muscle by fuelling your workouts.

Doing 100 sit ups or crunches a day will just accentuate a bad posture. One should never work one muscle more than the rest as this will result in postural deviations.

As long as your routine includes compound weight lifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows, and pull ups, your core strength will increase and your abs will stay strong.

A good cardio fat burning workout or metabolic circuit will help get that elusive 6 pack!

Therapy or Tough Love?

One in 5 Britons has had therapy and the number of qualified counsellors has tripled in the last 10 years to keep up with demand, but does therapy work in the long term?

Hypnotherapy is often used to help obese clients and those with eating disorders, obsessive disorders or generally unhealthy habits such as smoking. This aims to change bad habits for good ones.

With the help of the therapist, a trance-like state alters the state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert and receptive. The brain is inhibited from using any conscious processes and the subconscious mind is more directly accessible than prior to the hypnotherapy.

During this time under the trance, the therapist can start to suggest ideas and concepts and can add healthier more beneficial adaptations to the client’s lifestyle directly into the long term memory.

The advantage over traditional types of therapy is that hypnotherapy achieves results much faster and avoids the need to explain your life story to the therapist, opening up to them and working backwards to understand what went wrong and how and why.

Traditional therapy attempts to fully understand the conscious mind and delves into deep rooted issues of the past, to shape a new and brighter future. This can be slow and arduous and at times ineffectual as the conscious mind has many barriers. The therapist has to work through various emotions and analyse insights to desensitise the client to making progress.

NLP aims to improve one’s your life by installing positive attitudes to life and uses goal setting. Unlike other approaches to therapy, NLP is a how to technology that tells you how to be what you want to be. Widely used to achieve personal success, it helps you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and enables you to take responsibility for your actions in all areas of your life.

Behavioural therapy aims to change any behaviours that are harmful or not helpful. Various techniques are used such as avoidance and exposure. Using deep breathing techniques the therapist helps you cope and control the anxiety when a feared situation arises.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a mixture of cognitive and behavioural therapies. They are often combined because how we behave often reflects how we think about certain things or situations. Depending on the condition being treated, the particular emphasis on cognitive or behavioural aspects of therapy can vary,

Cognitive therapy can be very useful in dealing with depression, but behavioural therapy is useful where repetitive compulsive actions take place such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

One of the disadvantages of therapy is a feeling of dependency. It may be the first time you have someone to talk to who actually listens without judgment. Finding someone to take over this role once the therapy ceases can be tough but necessary, as long term therapy can actually inhibit a career or lifestyle change.

Long-term psychotherapy may encourage self-absorption and narcissism. Two qualities that make relationships at work and at home very difficult.

There is the possibility that therapy may also rationalize inaction and encourage procrastination. Certain therapists also encourage inaction by resisting giving advice, whether this is due to a conflict of interest or a general unwillingness to be blunt with the client.

Although therapy may bring a new insight into why you do what you do, is your life any better? Has it enabled you to blame your past for your actions and give you a reason to be the way you are today?

Perhaps instead you should try tough love, a method widely used in military forces throughout the world. You may think you need sympathy and support, but in fact being shown that your problems are not life threatening, may actually be relatively insignificant in the complex web of life and being told to “man up” may work much better for certain individuals.

If you are still unsure, ask yourself, are you holding yourself back from achieving your goal? Are you blaming others for your failures? Whether that be your parents, partner or boss, do you find a barrier to changes?

We don’t need to see a therapist to tell us to focus on the positive in life. Mother Teresa always said she was not Anti War, she was Pro Peace, she preferred to focus on the positive rather than the negative, an attitude which stood her in good stead and for which she will be well remembered.

Try writing down your goals in life and in business. Each night take a moment to write down 3 things that you have done during the day to work towards your goals.

When a stressful decision arises, ask yourself which action would be most beneficial to achieving your goal and go do it.

You may just find this approach quite liberating, making you more productive and helping you develop a more positive attitude about yourself and your life.

Images reproduced from dheesanyogini.blog.com, mybindi.typepad.com and ivyleaguedandunemployed.org

On The Milk Round

Nutrition and Fitness Expert Nadia Tejani takes a look at the different types of milk currently available and assesses their health benefits… there’s more to milk than you might think!

Each year we purchase 5 billion litres of milk and an additional 6 billion litres are used in dairy products. But is it healthy for us? Milk is essential created from the mother’s blood, for the sole purpose of nourishing the baby during the first few months of its life. Once weaned, should we be drinking milk at all?

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is the most common milk that we drink, and has recently been linked to prostate cancer, and various hormonal imbalances. The reasons for this can be realised when looking at the process of milking the cows. Cows produce milk in order to feed their new born calf, but are milked up to old age. To keep up the milk production and fend off illnesses, many cows are injected with antibiotics and other medicines. Whilst additional medication is applied topically, seeping into the bloodstream and thus the milk that is produced.

To increase milk production further, cows are often injected with both growth factors and growth hormone inhibitors which have been genetically engineered. In particular rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) has worryingly been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer in humans.

When cow’s udders become infected causing mastitis, the pus produced is found in the milk. Studies show at least 322 million cell-counts of pus per glass. This has been linked to Crohns disease. There are also a large amount of white blood cells found in a glass of milk. Surprisingly in certain countries, the governing body actually allows up to 1.5 million white blood cells per millilitre of commonly-sold milk. Bacterial diseases suffered by cows will also affect the contents of the milk produced.

Cortisol, a hormone produced in times of stress is usually found due to the stressful living conditions of cows, and the effects of being over milked. When we drink milk with cortisol we are exposed to the same stress hormones as the cow.

To make matters worse, the process of pasteurisation, sanitises the milk killing both the bad and good bacteria and making it harder for the body to digest the nutrient value.

Soya Milk

This healthy alternative is growing steadily in popularity. High in calcium and free from dairy, it is suitable for lactose intolerance people and vegans alike. Soya is the best form of non–animal protein, and contains isoflavones which are linked to fighting cancer.

With protein and carbohydrate including sugars in the sweetened varieties, it is great for a post training drink, just be wary of brands that contain maltodextrose. From an environmental perspective, no animals have to suffer to produce it and the growing soya plants emit utilise carbon rather than cause it to be produced as cows do. The main disadvantage is that as the demand for soya milk and soya products grow, deforestation increase in various rainforests.

The isoflavones found in soya have been found to help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. However as the very same ingredients produce a similar effect as oestrogen; soya milk has been less popular with men.

Ewe’s milk

Those who choose ewe’s milk often believe it is healthier as the sheep isn’t subjected to the same stresses and medications as cows. Full of nutrients, up to twice as many minerals as cow’s milk and creamier in taste than cow’s milk, this can be a good alternative.

From an environmental perspective, sheep graze on land that is unsuitable for farming and produce less methane. However ewe’s milk does contain lactose so is unsuitable for lactose intolerant people, and is twice as high in fat.

Goat’s Milk

Higher in calcium and vitamins and minerals, this makes another good alternative as goats as with sheep are not subjected to the same hormones as cows and like sheep, and so is far healthier. Goats produce less methane, eat a variety of crops and weeds, live in harsher environments and even rocky mountainous terrain. The taste is an acquired one, and can vary depending on the goat’s diet.

Rice Milk

Suitable for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant, lower in protein but much higher in carbs (sugars) this is unsuitable for diabetics. Full of good unsaturated fats to lower cholesterol, and various important minerals it is unfortunately low in calcium.

Almond Milk

This is harder to source so a little more expensive but becoming more popular. Full of vitamins, unsaturated fats and protein, it is lower in sugar than soya milk. Lactose free and has a relatively low impact on the environment. However it is more expensive and different to cow’s milk in taste.

To Supplement or not to Supplement?

Looking back at prehistoric man’s diet, humans managed to consume a large quantity of vitamins and minerals from natural foods that they found or hunted that was sufficient for their dietary needs.

These cavemen and women had to be active in order to survive, and coped without supplements so why do we rely so heavily on supplements now?

Although the Paleo (caveman) diet includes meat fish and vegetables grown above the ground, plus fruit and nuts, modern day Paleo followers do not always get an adequate quantity of nutrients from their foods, which are not as natural and nutrient rich as they were during the Paleo era 17000 years ago.

Also, if cavemen were satisfied with their diets, it begs the question, why did they go in search of grains and root vegetables, beginning the Neolithic era.

However even though the Paleo diet appears to be natural and balanced, the average age of a caveman was shockingly low at only 16. The average age for a Neolithic man was almost twice as old at 34.

The Neolithic diet includes a wider range of foods and a larger quantity of carbohydrates making up a good proportion of the diet.

This was more sustainable and kept humans fulfilled until the population increased to a point where intensive farming and food production made food more accessible to the masses.

With the population rising to over 7 billion, intensive farming, factory farming where the animals are kept in factories as opposed to fields, often in dark cramped conditions, plus plant breeding, conventional and using genetic modification, are the best ways to produce more food from the same amount of land.

This all leads to a lowering of nutrient content. This has caused a rise in deficiencies and the emergence of diseases of the dark ages.

Although macronutrients such as carbs, proteins and fats can be synthesised or scavenged by the body in times of crisis to meet the basic physiological functions, the dietary vitamins and trace elements are organic and inorganic compounds. These have specific requirements that can’t be met by the body.

There are also vast differences in the micronutrient content of foods grown in and out of season. The storage processes and food production deplete the nutrient quantity further.

Fat soluble vitamins D,A,K,and E are found in oily fish, liver, dark green leafy veg, dairy, soya beans, whole eggs, nuts and seeds.

Water soluble vitamins, B, C Folate, Niacin, Panthenoic acid are found in whole grains, cereals, liver, shellfish, rice and fruit and veg.

Minerals Iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese are found in dried fruits, meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables.

Tinned fruit and vegetables lose some micronutrients during the heat treatment process such as vitamin C.

If food choices and availability do not allow for a wide ranging diet, ensure your supplements are from a reputable source.

Active individuals obviously require a larger amount of micronutrients than less fit people and so often turn to supplements.

Regular high intensity exercise is extremely stressful on the body, which means a greater demand for certain vitamins and minerals that drive the energy metabolism.

Hormones can be affected by an insufficient nutrient intake so it is important to ensure that the diet is varied and high in nutrients.

Also exercise causes free radical damage and sufficient micro nutrients are needed in order for the endogenous antioxidant properties of the body to mop up the free radicals. Consuming antioxidants aids this process.

Eating an insufficient quantity of micronutrients when training can hinder recovery; even sweating can deplete the body of vital minerals, zinc, magnesium, copper, iron calcium and sodium. A good post training electrolyte drink can be made simply at home by mixing one part water to one part sweetened orange juice and adding a pinch of salt.

Supplements can be used to counteract deficiencies. However cheaper supplements can be mixed with magnesium oxide which can reduce the bioavailability by to up to only 4%, and the rest lost as urine.

Good supplements can cost a considerable amount more and often it is more beneficial to spend more on a wider variety of foods than on a cheap supplement.

Image reproduced from triathlon.competitor.com

Empowerment

Empowerment is a valuable tool if used effectively, to enable those around you to be able to make decisions, take the initiative and feel valued. Empowerment is especially useful as a managerial skill, to empower colleagues, allowing them to take ownership of their own work and to have a certain feeling of having power, albeit limited. A manager can then prioritise his own work, safe in the knowledge that his team of staff are working towards a common goal, as a team.

Empowerment starts early in life, when our parents have seen that we have learnt by experience, we can be empowered to start decision making, whilst adhering to boundaries of action and movement. Gradually we are given more freedom to be responsible for our actions and the world opens up to us with opportunities.

Early experienced of being controlled or overprotected shape our adult ideas about boundaries that may not exist, and we may find we make excuses for not doing activities as we are fearful of the result. Lack of empowerment can have a negative effect on our feelings of capability.

However once we understand why we act the way we do, and that early conditioning has shaped us in certain ways, we have the ability to change.

Empowerment is most often seen in the workplace. Instead of a manager having to oversee every piece of work his workers do, he can trust them.

Empowerment requires an organization to work in an open honest environment, informing workers about regular developments, opportunities and threats as well as making sure employees are well aware of the company’s main aims and vision.

Involving everyone on major changes such as office moves, Christmas parties helps people feel involved and valued, knowing that their contribution matters. This also enables workers to feel that management respect their humble opinions and value their skills and experience.

If managers are sufficiently trained on how to empower staff the circle widens, with all workers feeling that making decisions when empowered will not cause them any negative impact, and will simply be used to learn from.

In the event of a crisis, an empowered person can take charge, knowing that they are taking the right actions to help the situation.

Empowerment includes feeling involved, having sufficient knowledge and experience, feeling like part of a team and understanding that your actions would impact on others, and most importantly self esteem, knowing that you are valued by your manager or peers.

Unfortunately empowerment can be hampered by a boss who is indecisive and cannot allow workers to take own initiative. A boss who lacks trust in his workers and needs to micro manage them will not be able to empower them. Any undermining of power and authority will also have a negative impact on feelings of being valued and respected, decreasing the likelihood of having a motivated team.

An empowered boss in a small company can make the difference between the company increasing in success in the marketplace. Allowing workers to make their own decisions in a trusting supportive open environment, can give the boss the time to be pushing the business forwards and taking it to the next level.

Image reproduced from ivyleaguedandunemployed,org

Insulin Spikes

The hormone insulin is secreted by the pancreas in order to reduce sugar levels in the blood. An insulin spike is created when you eat foods with a high glycemic index (GI),that is a large amount of simple sugar. The simple sugars enter the bloodstream and insulin is needed to store the sugars as glycogen in the liver and the muscles. Insulin also stops protein breakdown after a workout and increases amino acid uptake into the body.

Muscles have a high demand for glucose and utilise an enzyme called hexokinase. This is found in skeletal muscle and promotes glucose uptake independently of blood glucose levels. Hexokinase has a high affinity for glucose, which allows muscle to take up glucose from the blood even when blood glucose levels are low. When the glucose reaches the muscle, it remains there and is not released back into the bloodstream. Thus skeletal muscles do not need insulin in order to obtain much needed glucose, however any insulin secreted will cause additional glucose to be taken up.

Another enzyme called glucokinase found in the liver works when levels of glucose in the blood rise. Unlike skeletal muscle, the liver can release glucose when the cells require it. This enzyme only acts in the presence of high blood glucose levels.

Exercise, especially resistance training, has been shown to increase glucose uptake for skeletal muscle in the absence of insulin, so that you do not necessarily need to consume simple sugars in your post workout meal in order to cause an insulin spike so that your muscles will uptake glucose.

While insulin will certainly enhance the anabolic response of a meal post workout, glucose is not actually needed since skeletal muscle is already able to uptake glucose in the absence of insulin after a workout.

For optimum results however, consuming a meal post workout with simple sugars and protein, will bring glucose into the muscles and allow an increase the uptake of amino acids into the body.

Insulin not only controls the uptake of glucose into cells but also has an impact on fat oxidation and storage. When blood glucose and insulin levels are low, fat is the main fuel burned for energy. This is why a low intensity cardio workout on en empty stomach before breakfast can be so effective at tapping into the fat stores when glucose and insulin levels are low. But when blood glucose and insulin levels are high, fat burning is blunted and glucose oxidation is elevated.

When the body senses there is glucose in the bloodstream, it wants to return blood glucose levels back to a homeostatic level. In order to do this the body must get rid of the glucose, which is accomplished by increasing glucose oxidation and storage.

Since the body is focusing on storing nutrients, it would not make sense for fatty acids to be released from adipocytes because they would not be burned. Therefore it is important that blood glucose levels return to normal quickly so the oxidation of fat can once again become the primary source of energy. This can be done by controlling your carbohydrate intake and controlling your insulin secretion by consuming less high GI foods; simple sugars, and more slow release low GI complex carbohydrates.

In the presence of high blood glucose and insulin, hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), the enzyme that catalyzes the liberation of fatty acids from fat cells) cannot act on stored fat. Therefore, fatty acids cannot be liberated from fat cells and fat oxidation is put on the backburner while glucose oxidation and storage is made a priority. Insulin is termed an anti-lipolytic hormone because it blocks lipolysis – the breakdown of stored triglycerides fat into fatty acids.

In addition to blunting fat oxidation, insulin secretion stimulates fat synthesis in the liver and increases fat uptake by fat cells.

Insulin spikes can also be caused by prolonged periods of sitting, such as in an office environment. Studies show that a short walk to the bathroom or the water cooler can alleviate this by getting away from your desk every 20mins after one hour of sitting still.

As useful as insulin spikes are at aiding the uptake of amino acids into the body, a large number of spikes throughout the day can cause the storage of fat and decrease fat oxidation. Regular exercise and a diet consisting of complex carbohydrate allows the body a steady flow of glucose without spiking the blood and increasing fat storage.

Image reproduced from femalefitnessandstrength.com

The Paleo Diet – Eating Like a Caveman

Ever since the gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin coined the phase Paleolithic diet, people have been copying the diets of caveman in an attempt to eat healthier and lose weight.

Foods can be either hunted and fished, such as meat, offal and seafood, or gathered, such as eggs, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and spices.

In particular it is recommended to eat only lean cuts of meat, free of food additives, preferably wild game meats and grass-fed beef since they contain higher levels of omega-3 fats compared with grain-produced domestic meats.

The reasons for these food types are that prior to the Neolithic (agricultural) revolution, humans were unable to produce grains eg. Rice, flour, also they were unable to cook legumes or beans, or produce any form of dairy products, refined sugars and processed oils

It is thought that this diet is very beneficial to health as we are essentially omnivorous. There are far more vitamins and nutrients in a Paleo diet rich in fruits, vegetable, nuts and seeds than in the modern day refined processed foods diet we now consume

Medical problems that can be alleviated with a Paleo diet include Chrohns disease, IBS and Colitis. Paleo diets are Gluten free and so suitable for Coeliacs. Casein which is a protein found in milk and dairy products, and may impair glucose tolerance in humans is also not part of a Paleo diet,

Various books have been written and studies carried out on un-westernized communities, and the Paleo diet with a high protein content, low carbohydrate content has been linked to a lack of strokes, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension

However, also raw, Paleolithic dieters are even more strict and who believe that humans have not adapted to cooked foods, and so they eat only foods which are both raw and Paleolithic

The idea is to avoid any processed foods and stick to foods of plant or animal origin. GI indexes and loadings are not specified, there is not a point system or Atkins type of regime, nor is it a quick fix solution. Its more of a lifestyle change, not to lose weight fast, but to enhance ones health and minimise the risk of disease from modern refined foods

This diet is in stark contrast to a typical western diet which consists of up to 70% refined sugars, processed oils, processed cereals, dairy and alcohol, all of which are banned from the Paleo diet

These banned foods when eaten in excess have been linked to the obesity epidemic that is spreading across the Western world, as well as high volume of cases of Type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular disease and high blood pressure. The reason for this is that our former functional diet aided natural selection and the growth of the human population, our current dysfunctional diet differs greatly from what we have evolved to eat and so cause us various medical ailments

The proportions of animal to plant foods that our ancestors ate are vastly unclear. We know that around 64- 68% of the diet was from animal origin, the rest originated from plants

Our digestive system, organs, teeth, stomach pH and gut size are moistly similar to that of Chimpanzees, which are essentially fruit eaters. We share 98% of our DNA with Chimps who consume around 95% plants and 5% animal foods. However the one difference between our digestive systems if the way we synthesize polyunsaturated fats, in that we require more from our diet than Chimps, as we are require a greater quantity and are not as adept as synthesizing these fats ourselves. The best source of these fats is fish.

One mineral that is lacking from a Paleo diet is Vitamin D, which modern day humans require in much greater amounts in our sunless climate than in the Paleolithic era

About 10,000 years ago, humans began to domesticate animals and produce dairy. New foods such as beans, cereals and salt were introduced due to agricultural methods, as well as alcohol.

The industrial revolution enabled us to use food processing and intensive farming methods to produce refined cereals, sugar, vegetable oils and fatty meats.

Whilst crops 10,000 years ago were nutrient rich, after thousands of years of intensive farming, the mass produced vegetables and fruits we find in our local shops contains far less nutrients, and so would need to be more varied to ensure all the essential vitamins and minerals are consumed.

Although food production methods would have to change drastically in order to sustain the work population that has surpassed 7 billion, a Paleo diet is the healthiest way reduce the risk of modern diseases.

Strictly adhering to a Paleo diet may mean making some changes with eating out socially, avoiding alcohol and involves a certain amount of preparation. But it is well worth at least considering reducing the amount of processed foods we eat and incorporating more natural, seasonal foods which are more nutrient packed and full of health benefits that the packaged processed foods we have become accustomed to eating sadly lack.

The Most Annoying Thing To Ask Vegetarians

exasperated-womanThe most annoying thing you can ask a vegetarian is “you eat fish don’t you?” Firstly, let me point out that vegetarians do not eat fish, the clue is in the name. Secondly, if we ate fish we would be Pescatarians, easy to say. Sadly for us actual vegetarians this term is so seldom used that it doesn’t even come up on my Word Spellcheck.

Its quite simple, carnivores are animals who eat meat only. Omnivores can eat meat and vegetation, and herbivores can not consume meat, only vegetable matter. Vegetarians fall into the middle category as we are capable of eating meat, we just chose not to.

Whether this choice is based on religion, health or because we don’t agree with killing and eating animals, the resulting conclusion is still the same, we are vegetarians and we don’t eat meat or fish. I have met many so called vegetarians who give us a bad name, eating only white meat never red meat, apparently constitutes being a vegetarian. Eating just poultry apparently does too. Avoiding meat at home but eating a Big Mac when out of the house also constitutes being a veggie I am told.

For those of us true to the term vegetarian, being asked at social functions if we eat fish and seafood  is very grating.  The answer is always no. Fish are still living creatures and we have made the choice not to eat them.

vegetarianismVegans are more extreme and totally eliminate all animals and derivatives from their diets. Avoiding dairy and products containing dairy such as chocolate, which can be very restrictive. It is also not permitted to wear leather if you are a vegan. However it is possible to be healthy on a vegan diet and some of the fittest athletes and body builders have been vegans.

Raw vegans as the name suggests eat only raw vegetables, fruit, nuts seeds and grains. These food types can not be cooked over 40C as the heat is thought to kill the food, reduce nutrients and increase toxicity. Foods are eaten alive and supposedly full of nutrients. Though cooking does deplete the vitamin C and some B vitamins, overall, steaming vegetables releases the nutrients, increases bioavailability and makes food digestible. For example carrots, tomatoes and spinach release more vitamins if cooked slightly than when raw. Deep fat frying and boiling food is obviously not the answer, but a diet containing some raw and some lightly cooked or steamed food is advisable

Fruitarians are even more restricted as they consume fruit, nuts, vegetable and seeds and avoid eating grains, animals and derivatives. Although there is some evidence to show this holistic diet is similar to that of early pre human ancestors, followers typically have low amounts of protein and iron in their diet which can be unhealthy.

Radical fruitarians only eat fruit that has fallen from the tree and not been picked. More restrictive than normal fruitarians this is incredibly antisocial and difficult to maintain, but the least likely to affect the balance of nature. With the population of the world growing steadily, it would be impossible to feed many of the 7 billion people on this diet,

However whether a veggie, a raw or standard vegan, a standard or radical fruitarian, the answer is still the same, we still do not eat fish!

How to Avoid Cellulite

We are all familiar with the term cellulite which has been around since the 20’s, also known as orange peel and cottage cheese skin. We find it often on the thighs and glute areas, mostly in women after puberty, and for many it is the bane of their lives.

The dimpling effect occurs when herniation of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue, leading to an orange peel–like appearance.

Cellulite is often classified using three grades:-

– Grade 1 classification sees no clinical or visual symptoms, and cellulite is only visible with the help of a microscope to view anatomical changes.
– Grade 2 has the above symptoms plus the skin is pasty, cooler than the rest of the skin and less elastic.
– Grade 3 has the above symptoms and also includes rough orange peel skin.

No matter what size or shape, anyone can have cellulite as it occurs in the layers of fat just under the surface of the skin, when the connective tissue is stretched or pulled, restricted in some way.

Genes can determine your susceptibility to getting cellulite. Race, gender, fat deposits, metabolism and circulation also affect the likelihood of cottage cheese thighs.

Hormones have been thought to greatly influence the chances of having cellulite. The female hormone oestrogen may initiate and aggravate cellulite hence why more women have cellulite and such few men.

Stress can cause the level of catecholamines which are organic compounds linked to the formation of cellulite. Catecholamines are hormones which include adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine among others.

Anti cellulite massages to breakdown the cellulite, deep tissue massages and sports massages are always popular, as are massages that stimulate lymphatic flow, heat therapy, ultrasound, radio frequency therapy, magnetic therapy, radial waves therapy, and electrical stimulation. Foam rollers (self myofascial release) may also help break down the cellulite and push toxins up towards the lymph glands. Sadly however, there is no scientific evidence that these methods are effective.

There are numerous creams and potions available claiming to cure cellulite, most include the ingredients caffeine, green tea and sometimes Ginko biloba. Pharmacists have other options of creams to apply topically, as well as oral and injectable medications, however none have yet to be given scientific approval and as yet there is no known cure.

Loose underwear that does not restrict blood flow to the arteries is essential in staving off cellulite; good options are G strings, thongs, boy shorts and hotpants, as long as the elastic is not tight across the glutes.

Diet is very important. Even a few months of eating junk food and carbonated drinks a couple of times a week can take its toll, changing the appearance of the skin.

Although not viewed as a medical condition by the medical community, it isn’t something we have to settle for, so here are my top tips for avoiding cellulite, and joining the 5% of us who don’t have any.

Tips for avoiding cellulite include:-

1. Dry body brushing with a stiff brush – this is my top tip as it improves circulation and prevents cellulite, it is simple and takes as little as ten minutes per day
2. Avoid eating or drinking toxins – processed food and drinks
3. Avoid fizzy low calorie drinks
4. Eating a healthy balanced clean diet, limit the quantity of fruits, plenty of dark green and colourful vegetables, and fibre
5. Staying hydrated with plenty of fluids, at least 3 litres a day
6. Exercising regularly using weights as opposed to cardio is the way forward to tone the muscles and decrease the body fat and cellulite
7. Keep a healthy weight and body fat percentage
8. Avoid crash diets
9. Avoid smoking
10. Avoid drinking coffee and tea excessively as this causes dehydration which will not help the cellulite
11. Rub ground coffee granules into the thighs and glutes to prevent cellulite. Cindy Crawford is a fan of this method
12. Keep moving – don’t sit or stand in the same place for too long
13. Avoid liposuction, this can actually worsen the effects
14. Avoid eating too much salt

Images reproduced from dailybeautycare.com, alittlemorebeautiful.blogspot.com

Sugars in Fruit

Many of us who are trying to lose body fat still continue to eat fruit. Whilst fruit has large amounts of vitamins and minerals, it also contains high amounts if sugar, some more than others, and so can hamper your fat loss results considerably.

When we eat sugar (sucrose) it is broken down into glucose and fructose which are absorbed into the blood stream, increasing the blood glucose.

At only 4 calories per gram, the sucrose can cause a variety of health issues from dental cavities to obesity, as any extra glucose that the body is unable to utilise is stored in the liver as glycogen and the fructose part is processed by the liver and stored as fat.

Ever since caveman times, humans have snacked on seasonal fruit and berries containing sugar, in small quantities when they could find these foods. In these limited quantities, humans still gained antioxidants and nutrients, as well as gaining energy for their active lifestyles.

Processed foods containing refined sugars are different. We are not designed to consume large quantities of sugars, and especially not processed sugars. Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus), high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome can result.

When embarking on a fat loss food plan or even when looking to maintain your weight, it is sensible to limit the uptake of sugars including fructose and thus limit fruit to once or twice a day, and preferably with proteins to aid the uptake of protein by the body.

Just looking at the glycaemic index which measures the speed at which glucose is released into the bloodstream, we can see that certain fruits can be very high in sugars, in comparison with vegetables below.

  • Dried fruits        -103
  • Watermelon      -72
  • Pineapple            -66
  • Raisins                  -64
  • Apricots               -57
  • Mangoes             -56
  • fruit cocktail       -55
  • banana                 -53
  • kiwi fruit              -53
  • grapes                  -52
  • canned peaches  –47
  • oranges                 -43
  • peaches                -42
  • blueberries          -40
  •  plums                   -39
  • pears                     -36
  • apples                   -36
  • strawberries        -32
  • raspberries          -32
  • blackberries        -32
  • dried apricots     -30
  • grapefruit            -25
  • cherries                -22

In comparison with vegetables:

  • sweetcorn          – 55
  • green peas          -48
  • carrots,cooked   -39
  • green beans        -15
  • peppers               -15
  • spinach                -15
  • tomatoes            – 15
  • artichoke             -15
  • asparagus            -15
  • broccoli                -15
  • cauliflower          -15
  • celery                    -15
  • cucumber            -15
  • lettuce                  -15

Fresh ripe fruit taste sweeter than under ripe fruits due to having a higher level of sucrose which increases during the ripening period.

Hence greener bananas for example, have less sucrose then blacker ripe bananas. This is due to an enzyme called sucrose phosphate which increases during the ripening period, synthesising sucrose in the fruit.

Dried fruit is more concentrated and contains more sucrose per gram than fresh.

Many fruits contain very low levels of sucrose, either having a low sugar content overall or containing more glucose and fructose as individual sugar molecules rather than linked in the disaccharide.

Ideally low GI fibrous fruits such as apples and pears increase satiety and are very beneficial for health. More sugary fruits high in GI such as grapes are good as a treat. Bananas and dried fruits are great after a hard training session with a scoop of unflavoured natural protein shake as they have plenty of sucrose. Cherries and berries are a good way to perk up a bowl of porridge in the morning, and will help the absorption of the protein if eaten with a handful of nuts and seeds.

Image reproduced from lifetimefatloss.com

Diet & Fitness Goals

Michael Jordan, the famous American Basketball player, once said “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

So if you have a goal in mind, go for it but make sure you plan ahead.

To aim for a goal half heartedly will just cause frustration and the end result will be a loss of interest and possibly a waste of a gym membership.

How many of us have flicked though a fitness magazine and tried a few weeks of a workout before becoming bored or giving up because we are not getting the intended results? This look may be completely achievable with some thought and careful planning.

Aiming for one goal at a time is the first step. To aim to lose weight and improve fitness are two separate goals. Cardio may help with both of these but the body can only do one thing at a time.

If your primary goal is to lose weight, ensure you train simply for fat loss with cardio, weights, and a careful balanced diet.

For muscle building, make sure you eat enough carbohydrate and protein at every meal. Protein will only build muscle in the presence of carbohydrate. Keep the cardio low as that will just burn up vital calories and over stress the muscles.

For serious shredding to reduce already low body fat, carefully deplete your carbohydrate but watch your fat intake so that your total calories consumed stay above the Resting metabolic rate. This ensures your body doesn’t go into starvation mode and your metabolism doesn’t slow down.

For a more specific goal such as completing your first marathon, ensure you divide your training program into sections, changing your training every 4-6 weeks. This not only alleviates boredom but allows a change in intensity around the point that your workouts become easier as your body becomes used to them. Also remember that running or indeed any training for over around 45minutes will start to burn up muscle, so increasing your protein intake with each meal will help. Also energy drinks and gels will fuel the body over longer runs, minimising muscle breakdown or catabolism. Runners actually require as much protein as a weightlifter of similar weight.

The problems arise when goals are unclear. For example it is very difficult to build up muscle while partaking in hours of cardio. It’s also almost impossible to build muscle without increasing your calorie intake unless you have a large amount of fat stores to utilise. This is why bodybuilders and athletes tend to have an “off season” around winter, allowing themselves the extra calories and resting from the cardio sessions. The extra calories can then be used to fuel more intense workouts, increasing strength and power.

For serious athletes, triathletes, or anyone doing regular high intensity training sessions a healthy diet rich in sources of high quality protein, complex carbohydrates and super foods will help. Large amounts of exercise will cause free radicals to be released just like the effects of smoking or stress. The effects of overtraining as well as stress to the body can include wrinkles, low immunity, soreness, fatigue and insomnia.

Super foods which are high in antioxidants, plenty of water and strong good quality vitamin supplements will not only aid recovery but also increase your health and vitality.

Goals should also be realistic. We all have specific body types and just because we want to change a rounded body into a thin limbed version of ourselves does not mean the body will allow it. Work with what nature gave you and make the best of it.

Image reproduced from richlucasfitness.com

Visualisations

On the X Factor auditions recently a contestant began her audition by saying “I can win, I will win”. Clearly she was utilising powerful mantras to give herself confidence and enable her to perform at her best in order to win.

Unfortunately her confidence was misplaced and her dreams of winning did not come true.

Whilst mantras are a great tool to gain extra confidence to enable one to cope better with difficult situations, the goal needs to be achievable and realistic.

Conversely, all the talent in the world will not help a person to achieve their goals without drive and ambition Support from friends and family are invaluable but an inner self belief and the ability to push yourself forward in life can be created with a few easy steps involving visualisation.

Focus on where you want to be and use your imagination as a powerful tool to shape your future. Allow yourself to daydream and move away from reality.

This can be particularly useful when preparing for a potentially stressful event. Try the power of your imagination, which may not be something you have fully utilised since childhood.

Relaxation is crucial to the visualisation process, and also simply to maintain wellbeing. It gives us more energy, enhanced immunity, less headaches and pain, a stronger grasp of our emotions, and better sleep.

If finding the time to incorporate regular relaxation time is proving impossible with a hectic life, then simply use relaxation techniques whenever necessary.

A quiet warm, comfortable room is ideal. Although physical exercise is essential for good health, in order to fully relax, a sitting or lying down prone position is preferable.

Whilst creating an environment of calm receptivity, the mind can fully relax, allowing the right hemisphere of the brain to be accessed more easily.

Relaxing shuts out the logical parts and enables the imagination to flow.

Pilates and yoga stretches are great for practising relaxation techniques if carried out safely and with good form.

Releasing tension, stretches such as the Pilates Full body stretch soften the muscle fibre and calm the mind. Lying in the prone position, reach your arms overhead, straighten the arms and the legs and imagine your hands and feet are being pulled away from your body. Tense every muscle initially including your core as you push your limbs away from your torso, imagining you are pushing away negativity. Breathe in deeply and slowly, fully exhale taking your time, and slowly repeat. Using lateral thoracic breathing such as this means that the rib cage is fully inflated and then deflated, using the full capacity, and also working the muscles between the ribs, increasing flexibility of the upper body.

Whilst relaxing, allow your imagination to take over and allow the process to unfold, creating your inner vision.

Next visualise what you desire the most. This could be a new relationship, a family, new home, letting go or finding happiness and peace. If unsure what you are looking for, or where you are heading in life, imagine yourself with increased confidence.

Try remembering a time you felt confidant and happy. Shut your eyes and imagine how that would feel again, how you would smile, how you would appear to others, how you would walk, concentrating on feelings of self-esteem, security, self-worth, and most importantly, love. Allow these feelings to permeate through your body, pushing any fear and self-doubt away.

Repeat this regularly until the negative feelings subside and are replaced with positivity.

As Henry Ford said “Whether you can or can’t, you are right” .

Image reproduced from changeoflifecoaching.com

Trans Fats & the Dangers of Low Fat Food

woman shoppingIn the pursuit of health and weight loss, many of us choose low fat or fat free options which we deem to be healthier. Surely a low fat product is better for us than full fat product. A gram of fat is calorie rich and contains 9 calories, more than double the calories in a gram of carbs or a gram of protein. We are constantly told to reduce the fat in our foods and in particular the quantity of saturated fat.

The main issue with this is the quality of the fat in a low fat product after the food processing has taken place to lower the fat content of the food.

During food production, instead of using a full fat saturated ingredient, vegetable oils are used. To make them solid in order to be used as a viable replacement, the vegetable oils have to be hydrogenated.

The hydrogenation process turns polyunsaturated fatty acids into solids. This is done by adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fats, eliminating double bonds. This makes them into partially or completely saturated fats which are solid or semi-solid at room temperature.

This also produces transfats which cause ill health, coronary heart disease and raised cholesterol. Many thousands of cardiac deaths each year are directly attributable to transfats. Although transfats are found in small doses naturally in food, much of the low fat products which are readily available to us contain transfats in higher doses.

Many studies have taken place over the years proving that the quantity of transfats in the diet is inextricably linked with the risk of mortality. Whereas polyunsaturated fats have the opposite effect and actually decrease the risk of dying.

Transfats increase the amount of unhealthy LDLs in the body. The level of HDL to LDL is a key factor in determining the risk of coronary issues, and it is vital to keep the ratio of healthy HDL high and the amount of bad LDLs low.

Transfats have been linked to depression and in particular suicide. Eating transfats has a risk of infertility in women. Transfats require different metabolic processes that take place in the liver and so can cause dysfunction of the liver. Aggression is another side effect and most worrying of all, transfats are linked to cancer.

Transfats are linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, however good fats such as fish oils have been found to be beneficial in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and are recommended for improving brain function.

As transfats are not required to be listed on the label, the easiest way to avoid eating them is to choose the full fat option and have a smaller portion. Labels to avoid include “Light”, “Low fat” “Half fat”.

As well as containing transfats which are harmful to the health, low fat products contain additional high levels of refined sugars and sweeteners to increase the taste and palatability that has been reduced by removing the fat. This is not advisable for a weight loss diet. Eating good fats in small portions won’t make you fat, but eating refined sugar can. Sugar causes spikes in the blood, causing insulin to be released. This reduces insulin sensitivity over time. Over production of insulin also causes fat to remain in the cells and therefore this fat storage is unlikely to be metabolised.

Overeating the sugar can cause obesity, Type 2 diabetes as well as dental problems. Excess sugar will also be stored as fat, mainly in the liver. Transfats also cause obesity, more so than eating a similar quantity of normal fats.

Fat is essential in small amounts in our diet, the quantities depend on our body type. Fat cushions our joints, balances our hormone levels and keeps us warm. Eating good fats allow us to absorb fat soluble vitamins D, A, K, E. Sugars conversely do not contain any vitamins or minerals and are basically empty calories.

Fats containing Omega 3s are especially good for mental health and emotional health. To conclude, a small amount of full fat with a low sugar diet is far healthier than the equivalent quantity of reduced fat. Good sources of unsaturated fat include Extra Virgin Olive oil, flaxseeds, linseeds, and nuts.

Say Bye Bye To Bread

As a trainer and nutritionist I always start to clean up a client’s diet by removing bread. Reactions to this are often mixed, so I shall summarise my reasons below.

caution-bread-loafBread has for decades been seen to be healthy, appearing in vast portions on the old food pyramid which has been used by dieticians and nutritionists since 1992, based on the earliest food recommendations from 1894.

This is now known to be due to an overproduction of wheat which caused us to be encouraged to consume more wheat and therefore bread in order not to waste the wheat.

Since 2011 this was replaced with a food plate which has fewer grains and doesn’t mention bread at all. In spite of this we are still led to believe bread is part of a healthy diet and are bombarded with health adverts involving bread. Even popular health magazines and TV programs actually advise clients to eat bread.

During the Paleo era prior to farming, before grains and flour production, humans managed to sustain themselves and reproduce without bread, pasta and wheat in their diets until the Neolithic era 8,000 BC. Although farming methods have changed drastically with the cultivation of crops, domestication of animals and mass producing food, our genes are still remarkably similar to that of our Paleo ancestors.

Whilst grains are good for you; oats are especially good for the heart, refined grains cause a sugar spike similar to that of consuming raw sugar, meaning that any excess sugar not used by the body is stored as fat.

Too much glucose in the blood causes the release of free radicals which cause damage to the muscle tissue, wrinkles and premature aging. A diet rich in antioxidants is necessary to combat this.

Along with the sugar spike there is also an insulin spike, which is needed to store the excess sugar. Frequent insulin spikes have been linked to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and various other diseases due to the cells becoming resistant to insulin.

Homemade whole meal bread would take a couple of hours to bake. However shop made bread takes around 30 minutes. The yeast is only partially fermented, meaning that it continues the fermentation process in your gut.

The quantity of carbohydrates found in bread is too high for the average sedentary person. A regular exerciser hoping to put on muscle may need to increase the carb intake but a non-exerciser will simply store fat after eating excess carbs. A meal rich in vegetables will be more nutritious, full of vitamins, valuable minerals and antioxidants

Wholegrain shop made bread contains high levels of phytates which make zinc and iron and other macro nutrients un-absorbable. It is therefore impossible to obtain the full benefit of a nutritious meal, and will have to consume more of the foods in order to gain some benefit.

Lectins also are found in whole grains and increase gut permeability. This allows toxins in to the blood and can cause acne and multiple sclerosis.

Most people have heard of endorphins and the good effects they have on the body, but cereal grains and also dairy contain exorphins. This has a negative effect, causing mood changes and addictiveness. They are essentially opoids, proteins produced from the digestion of gluten, and due to their addictiveness can cause obesity.

As food production techniques have become increasingly more advanced, gluten intolerant individuals have increased in numbers. Up to half the population are sensitive to gluten to some degree, with 1% being Coeliacs. Such individuals can have the following symptoms:

Fatigue
Depression
Joint aches
Bone pain
Abdominal pain
Bloating
Diarrhoea
Low nutrient absorption
Short stature
Infertility
Premature balding
Cancer

Even though over 10 years has shown that salt levels have come down by an average of 20%. Approximately 75% of the salt consumed in the UK and other developed countries come from processed foods. In the UK bread forms a large part of our diet and so the high salt levels are a health issue.

Thankfully bread bakers have gradually reduced the levels of salt in their products, preventing 2,400 strokes and heart attack events each year, but more can be done.

Lastly a little known fact, that supermarket bread is often injected with fat to ensure it keeps its shape. The perfectly pliable dough is enhanced with L-Cysteine which is extracted from feathers. Due to relaxed labelling rules, these ingredients do not have to appear on the label, and so often the buyer is unaware.

If giving up bread is too difficult and depressing to contemplate, try baking your own at home, with the best ingredients you can afford. Be sparing with your salt, try a gluten free flour if possible, bake slowly and consume in small amounts, ideally after exercise with a portion of protein.

Alternatively try root or leafy vegetables, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, marrow, broccoli, the list goes on…

Do You Live It?

As a trainer and therapist, I constantly find myself being sized up when meeting potential clients. Being asked what I eat, how often I train, and whether my life is in order are questions I am asked on a daily basis.

The potential client looks me up and down as I answer and process the info, building up a picture in their minds, working out if I practise what  I preach, if I truly believe what I advise, if I truly live it.

As it happens I do live it. I am a personal trainer who has always trained twice a day – days a week even when working in exess of 60 hours a  week. I am a nutritioinist who eats superfoods 95% of the time and who recommends clients a similarly clean tailored program incorporating a weekly cheat meal to keep them sane, which is something I do and immensley enjoy.

Nadia Tejani

 I am a life coach who like many has had various ups and downs but has managed to get my life in order and get my dream job and lifestyle, and am lucky enough to be able to help others to do the same.

But how many nutritionists actually eat clean? Many dieticians and nutritioinsts are more than capable of advising clients to lose weight and maintain a healthy eating plan, whilst indulging in less than healthy snacks.

Gyms around the country are filled with personal trainers and fitness instructors of varying shapes and size all with a client base or following. Some trainers say clients seed them as more normal, more personable if they are less than in shape, but isn’t it hypocritical to tell a client to do something you wouldnt do yourself? Is it fair to be expecting a person to fit exercise into their lives when you can not or do not make time?

On the other hand, would a larger person prefer to be trained by a trainer who has been obese and has managed to lose the excess weight and so sympathises with the plight of the bigger person, or one who has always strictly controlled their food and kept fit.

Some people have more respect for the larger trainer, who they believe to be more sympathetic to their needs, who understands the reasons for their weight gain. Looking down at the more svelte trainer who would clearly have no idea of the clients struggles, putting the reasons for slimness of the trainer down to good genetics, not having a busy life, or the worst excuse, being fit because it is our job to do so. This couldn’t be furthest from the truth, we make it our job to train clients because of our immense love for fitness.

The truth is, that as trainers, therapists and nutritionists, we all have the tools to change and be the best versions of ourself, if we chose to use them, but can or should a client really respect a professional who does not practise what they preach?

Kundalini Energy

Kundalini energy is a Hindi word for sacred, transformative energy that awakens the consciousness. It literally means coiled. In yoga, a “corporeal energy” – an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force or Shakti that lies coiled at the base of the spine. The kundalini resides in the sacrum bone in three and a half coils and has been described as a residual power of pure desire.

Kundalini is described as a sleeping, dormant potential force in humans. It is one of the components of an esoteric description of the ‘subtle body’, which consists of nadis (energy channels), chakras (psychic centres), prana (subtle energy), and bindu (drops of essence). Kundalini is described as being coiled up at the base of the spine, usually within the root chakra. The image given is that of a serpent coiled three and a half times around a smokey grey lingam.

Through meditation, and various esoteric practices, such as Kundalini Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, and Kriya Yoga, the kundalini is awakened, and can rise up through the central nadi, called sushumna, that rises up inside or alongside the spine. The progress of kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until the kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, Sahasrara chakra, producing an extremely profound mystical experience that is said to be indescribable.

Chakra Kundalini Diagram

During kundalini awakening, the kundalini rises from the root (or muladhara) chakra up a subtle channel at the base of the spine and from there moves up to the top of the head merging with the crown chakra (also known as the sahasrara). When kundalini energy is conceived as a goddess, then, when it rises to the head, it unites itself with the Supreme Being (Lord Shiva). Then the aspirant becomes engrossed in deep meditation and infinite bliss.

The arousing of kundalini is said by some to be the one and only way of attaining Divine Wisdom. Self-Realization is said to be equivalent to Divine Wisdom or what amounts to the same thing: self-knowledge. The awakening of the kundalini shows itself as “awakening of inner knowledge” and brings with itself “pure joy, pure knowledge and pure love.”

This energy builds up in the base of the spine waiting for a stimulus to awaken its potential.

Once active, an intense outpouring is experienced, usually around 38-42 years old, triggering what appears to be a midlife crisis.

Moving up towards the spine, in men a blockage can occur in the heart chakra if the man finds emotions hard then a physical illness can manifest. If the man is allowed to release the emotions, mostly negative, and to express positive emotions, then the blockage will be cleared.

In women, kundalini will block at the throat if the woman has been unable to express herself in order to get what she wants. A thyroid problem can result. If the woman is able to find her voice and expression, then the blockage will disappear and energy continues to flow.

The following physical and psychological effects are either common signs of an awakened kundalini or symptoms of a problem associated with an awakening kundalini (commonly referred to as Kundalini syndrome or physio-Kundalini syndrome):-

– Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
– Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
– Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
– Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
– Emotional upheavals or surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with certain repressed emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long periods of time
– Headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull
– Increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
– Emotional numbness
– Antisocial tendencies
– Mood swings with periods of depression or mania
– Pains in different areas of the body, especially back and neck
– Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
– Trance-like and altered states of consciousness
– Disrupted sleep pattern (periods of insomnia or oversleeping
– Loss of appetite or overeating
– Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness

In psychiatry recently, there has been a growing interest within the medical community to study the physiological effects of meditation, and some of these studies have applied the discipline of Kundalini Yoga to their clinical settings. Researchers in the fields of transpersonal psychology and near-death studies have described a complex pattern of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms associated with the concept of kundalini, sometimes called the Kundalini Syndrome.

Rising of kundalini is not an endpoint but an awakening, a start of transformation. Most of those who experience this will discover who they really are and will gain contentment in their new lives and a stronger connection of who they really are.

Image reproduced from Wikipedia Commons

Certain parts of this article have been reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Barefoot Running

Before roads were created and shoes were produced, humans have been running in the most comfortable and safest manner possible.

There are three ways to land when running, on the Forefoot, the Midfoot or the Heel

Studies show that forefoot or mid foot striking can alleviate injuries such as repetitive stress, plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee as less injury is caused

Heel striking is said to cause a higher impact and as the heel hits the ground 1st, sending shockwaves through the body.

We also know that forefoot running actually strengthens the muscles in the foot, in particular the arch, making it less likely to collapse. If you naturally pronate at all then it is worth considering trying forefoot running

When you spring off your forefoot you use less energy. The more minimalist shoes also weigh less so that each step will be easier than with a heavy trainer. Studies show fore/barefoot running uses 5% less energy

As long as you are careful when choosing the terrain, forefoot running can be very enjoyable as long as you are wary of twigs and sharp objects that minimal footwear will not be able to protect you from. A shoe with a flexible sole is essential to let the foot bend naturally. Though it is possible to forefoot run in standard trainers with a built up heel it is much easier in minimal footwear

To make the transition from heel striking to forefoot/barefoot running, make small changes to avoid injury. As with any changes in your exercise routine, do consult a Dr and take advice from a physician if you have had any injuries from running in the past.

Changing to forefoot or even midfoot striking too quickly can cause many problems including sore calves and Achilles tendonitis.

If you are a heel striker wanting to make the change, try a couple of minutes of forefoot running during your usual training runs. It is easiest to attempt when running up a slight incline. Try it when running at a moderate to fast speed, perhaps during a sprint session, it will be easier to pick up than if you attempt it jogging slowly or on flat ground. The incline/hill will enable you to lean into it and help your hips stay forward

If you develop lasting pain, stop and consult a physician. Attempt to increase the quantity of forefoot running by only 10% a week. Taking it slow will decrease the risk of injury. Make sure you stretch your calves out often after a run when muscles are still warm, preferably with a foam roller (self myofascial release)

There is no right way to forefoot run, but try to relax and land on the ball of your foot towards the lateral side. After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down gradually, bringing the foot and lower leg to a gentle landing as you dorsiflex your ankle under the control of your calf muscles.

Practise this by jumping off a small wall. When you land, you should naturally flex the hip, knee and ankle. The landing should feel soft, springy, and comfortable. Aim to land with the foot nearly horizontal so that the calves don’t need to work excessively. Land gently on your forefoot and gradually let the heel come down towards the ground

Next try running on the spot for a moment, or jumping with a skipping rope, striking the ground beneath your hips

Be wary of over striding while forefoot or midfoot striking. This style of running requires you to point your toe more than necessary, adding stress to the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and the arch of the foot.

When watching a forefoot runner, the movement is far more fluid and natural than a heel striker’s laboured motion. Conserving more energy, the forefoot runner can cover more ground efficiently and can move faster with practice.

Image reproduced from foothealers.com

Explore, Dream, Discover

Change is an evitable process we all have to go through. Sometimes we chose to make changes, starting new jobs, changing careers, new relationships, moving home. At other times in our life we have to adapt ourselves to a changing environment, for example, redundancies, divorces and illnesses.

As humans are creatures of habit, we feel safe when our lives contain a balance of consistency and predictability, change can be quite disconcerting and as a result we can often resist by putting up barriers.

We all have an inbuilt mechanism called homeostasis. This ensures that every part of our body stays in balance, at an optimum level. For example, if the core temperature of our body deviates from the optimum temperature of 37 degrees C, various actions will take place, either the shivering response if the core temperature has dropped, or we will start sweating if the temperature is too high.

This homeostasis emulates into the rest of our life and ideally our lives as a whole would remain balanced. However life is never as simple as we anticipate, but the way that we deal with problems can not only make us more resilient, but can teach us what we value in life.

Material objects do not seem so important when a relationship ends badly, large amounts of money don’t seem to matter when faced with a serious illness, and moving away from family and friends can make us remember why we love them and just how much we miss them.

Taking every opportunity to embrace change can make us better people. Losing a permanent job through redundancies can be a chance to find temporary positions, learning new skills and working in differing environments. Showing future employers how adaptable we can be.

Alternatively it can be a chance for a career change, starting up something completely different that we have always wanted to do.

The ending of a relationship can be the start for a new friendship. Time is never wasted, and we learn something from everyone we allow ourselves to become close to.

Although having a routine can be beneficial and is certainly good for children and pets to get used to, a steadfast routine, or being “set in your ways” can make change particularly hard and can be very trying for those around you.

Instead, try doing something different. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, try to do something that scares you at least once a week.

Instead of having a bucket list of things you want to do before you are 30, or before you die… do it now.

Ask yourself, what makes you come alive? Dispel fears of failure and have confidence in yourself. There is no such thing as 100% certainty so there will always be an element of risk in every decision you make in life.

So to conclude, change is healthy and life is a process of growing and creating oneself, as Mark Twain said, “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, catch the trade winds in your sails, explore, dream, discover”.

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Functional Training

Functional training involves exercises which mainly focus on the strengthening of abdominal muscles and back muscles. As core strength increases so does balance and efficiency which reduces injuries.

Functional training involves primal movement patterns and multi-planar ranges of motion. These are movements that children do naturally. This improves coordination by re-training the muscles to work together in more efficient patterns. Instead of using fixed pathway machines in one plane of movement, free weights are used along with other equipment. This stabilizes the joints and allows a far greater range of movement.

Functional training is especially useful in our sedentary lives. We are not designed to sit at desks for up to 10 hours a day nor have we evolved to sit in cars and trains. Neanderthal man would have remained active throughout the day, hunting and gathering food, rarely sitting for any length of time.

This means that our hip flexors fail to develop and the gluteus (Gluteus Maximus Medias and Minimus) are not utilized. Calves tend to shorten from wearing heels and flexibility decreases. This makes anything even walking more difficult as the hip flexors do not properly engage.

Functional training helps to alleviate problems caused by a bad posture,  it prevents injuries later in life and improves back strength enormously. Lifting objects and bending become easier and fitness improves.

Even fit people and regular gym users can get injured if they do not incorporate some functional training in their routine. Training chest and biceps causes a rounded posture and weakened back. Using fixed pathway machines does not use the core which weakens further. Functional training can lead to better muscular balance and joint stability, in turn decreasing your risk of injury as a result.  Lifting heavy weights without having good core strength will make injuries very likely.

Runners often have knee problems due to overload of forces on certain structures in the knee joint or surrounding region –  namely the ilio-tibial band and patella-femoral joint. This is usually caused by problems in the hips.

As with every fitness program, once your body adapts to the program, gains slow down, so challenge yourself by varying the routine every 4-6 weeks.

Expect slow steady progress, an increase in coordination, strength and balance if used on a regular basis. Weightlifters often find it much harder than they would expect at first, using their own body motion to train, improve and extend. It is perfect for anyone no matter how fit, and has its roots in rehabilitation of people with injuries. In fact many of the pieces of equipment used including ViPRs were first used in rehab patients.

There is a large variety of equipment that can be used, all are easily portable and frankly a good deal more fun than fixed pathway machines.

Kettlebells, dumbbells, suspension kits such as TRX’s, gymnastic rings and even cable machines are very effective. It is even possible to do a functional workout in the park without any equipment.

A common myth about functional training is that it leads to an increase in muscle mass. Actually the muscle that is created by functional training is leaner and stronger, the ligaments and tendons are more effective than that created with generic bodybuilder type training regimes.

Another misconception is that functional training leads to a decrease in flexibility. On the contrary, functional workouts increase flexibility and often do not need to involve a stretch at the end of the session. The clean and jerk for example stretches all the major muscles, the overhead squat is great at increasing flexibility in the Lats. The stiff leg deadlift increases flexibility in the hamstrings.

To get started with functional training, carry out some research and locate a good trainer or coach. Once you learn all the basic moves, it’s time to start your new regime for a leaner, fitter stronger body.

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