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.

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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.

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Beat The Holiday Bulge!

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_HeaderRecognise this very frustrating scenario? You have been super-disciplined for a few weeks or longer , you have lost weight, you are looking and feeling good, you are ready to bare all on the beach and determined to enjoy every single minute of your well-deserved break. But, somehow or other all that fun seems to result in the pounds creeping back on and your return home sees you having to find yet more of that iron discipline. Here are a few tricks that can really help while you are on holiday:

Bin the Starch: If you do nothing else, this is the one that is most likely to keep your waistline feeling trim throughout your holiday. The heat is enough to make you bloat a little and when you add starch it may be a real struggle to slip into your shortest shorts of your skin tight sheath dress when you go out in the evening. If you manage to say no to the bread, pasta, pizza, cones and wafers most of the time you can enjoy the odd ice cream sundae and mile-high cocktail guilt-free.

Big up on fat busting fats: essential fats (particularly Omega 3s) fill you up, keep cravings for sugary foods and drinks at bay and boost the production of enzymes which help transport stored fat into our energy factories to be burned as fuel. Have local fresh eggs for breakfast, replace salty snacks with fresh nuts which are abundant in hot countries, gorge on delicious, filling avocados stuffed with local fish and drizzle nut and seed oils over salads.

holiday buffetHave chilled soups for starters: soup keeps the stomach wall stretched for longer than solid foods, even when water is taken alongside so our appetite is dulled and we eat less during the rest of a meal (studies show that it can be up to 200kcals less!) Most hot countries pride themselves on their regional soup specialities; Gazpacho, Ajo Blanco, Vichyssoise etc so be adventurous, give them a try and feel smug that you haven’t overdone the calories!

Consider taking water tablets: Direct exposure to the sun over a number of hours in a day causes water retention as the body holds water in the cells to prevent dehydration and should you have too much exposure and suffer from sunburn, the situation worsens. Whilst it is vital that you drink more water than usual throughout the day when in a hot climate (at least 1.5 litres), you may also wish to consider taking water tablets during your holiday to assist in the release of retained water and avoid feeling and looking bloated. Whilst water tablets contain natural products, they can interfere with the effect of certain medications so check this out with your GP. Also, if you are pregnant, breast feeding or under 16 years of age, don’t think about it, just ensure you stay hydrated. And, stop taking them when you return home.

And, if you haven’t left it too late: do a 3 day cleanse before you go to give your system a metabolic boost so it can better cope with a bit of indulgence on holiday: first thing in the morning and every few hours thereafter have a mug of hot water with ginger and lemon (it’s also great chilled), have fruit on its own (sliced/diced/smoothied) until lunchtime, a bowl of meat, fish, bean or lentil soup for lunch, crunch on raw vegetables in the afternoon if you are having hunger pangs or experiencing energy dips, have a stir fry with plenty of vegetables and some protein (poultry, game, lean red meat, fish, shellfish, tofu) or a big mixed salad (also with a good helping of protein) for dinner and a mug of chicken bouillon or miso soup before bed.

How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet or to a Gym

The idea of being able to lose weight without going on a diet or to a gym may appear like an elaborate claim. However, having been overweight myself during my former years, navigating myself out of it and witnessing the struggles of hundreds of people with weight issues, I have discovered certain things in my life.

So many people go on extreme diets, losing weight quickly, only to put it back on again. This cycle creates misery, frustration and pain. This can lead to depression, low motivation and even in a lack of will to live. Life for you if you are overweight can be intensely frustrating and feel like an impossible task at times. This is a very common concern and one that I battled with for my entire youth.

I once spent a Summer at an American “Fat Camp.” Here I saw the struggles of hundreds of kids with weight challenges. I couldn’t help but wonder whether it would have benefitted me to attend such a camp during my youth.

Each day the children were made to exercise for several hours, whilst only being given tiny amounts of food. During their dietary lessons they were clearly taught that a healthy diet allowed them to eat anything that they liked, as long as it was part of a balanced eating plan.

Simultaneously, the children were banned from eating sweets and French fries during their stay at the camp. Clearly, this provided a contradiction in what the camp was teaching and what they were doing.

So many diets focus on strict and extreme changes that are unsustainable to most dieters.

All of the children at fat camp lost weight. However, the process was designed to be so difficult and emotionally draining that almost all of them would put the weight back on and return the next year needing to lose weight again. That is the cruel, business-like efficiency of a place that makes money through returning custom. If someone is exercising for 4 hours a day more than they do usually then surely it would be better to allow them to eat at least as much as they were eating before?

By educating people about food groups, balance and the need for exercise it would be possible for attendees to lose weight without going on a diet or to a gym. This would be a friendlier, more sustainable way of losing weight.

There are 2 ways to lose weight sustainably.

If you are currently eating too much then it is possible to lose weight through two different methods. One of them is by going on a diet and staying on it. Re-frame what the word diet means to you. A diet is for life – not just a short-term fix that is a struggle. By slowly introducing changes that add up over time – you can lose weight naturally and sustainably. Keeping a food journal is one way to do this. List everything you eat, what time you eat it and why you think you need to eat it. By having to do this for everything you eat, it is far more likely that you will eat less.

Hunger is often dehydration in disguise.

So often dehydration can lead you to think that you are hungry. By introducing a new rule into your life it is possible to lose weight and improve your health. If ever you feel yourself become hungry in between meals then make a rule to drink a pint (600mls) of water first. If you are still hungry 20 minutes after doing this then you can eat. By doing this the worst case scenario is that you will use your excess eating to keep yourself properly hydrated. You may find that this reduces your hunger significantly and leads to natural weight loss.

The second method is to add balance to your life.

If you are going to eat extra food then you can balance this by adding something that is good for you. For some they may see going to a gym as the answer. If you are like me and do not feel inspired by gyms then you may want to consider something a little less extreme. For this reason, I have created The Active Energy System. This is a way to add balance to your life by harnessing your walking time in a more productive way.

Whether you are walking to work, going shopping, walking your dog, walking around your house or trekking around the globe, you can turn your body into an Active Energy Dynamo, raising your motivation, confidence, focus and general health and wellbeing.

How The Active Energy System can help you to lose weight and keep it off.

By balancing any extra food that you eat with extra walking with The Active Energy System you can bring balance to your life. It’s a simple principle – if you eat more, you walk more. By doing this you can use your eating habits, whatever they are, to feel better, get fitter, more motivated and focused. The Active Energy System can help you to do all of this. So, if you are not ready for extreme dieting or exercise routines then The Active Energy System can be your best friend as you lose weight naturally and sustainably.

Fiona Kirk: So What The F*** Should I Eat?

As soon as I saw the title of the book, I was intrigued.

So What The F*** Should I Eat? It was a question I had asked myself many times over the years as I moved despondently from one fad diet to the next, trying to find an eating plan where I could lose weight but didn’t feel like I was starving myself or denying myself foods I enjoyed.

Fiona Kirk’s Fat Loss Plan detailed in So What The F*** Should I Eat? is radical and rebellious. Primarily because it’s all about you – the individual – rather than a prescribed method of rules that MUST be followed as if your life depended on it. Whether you are a Disciple, Rule Maker or Rule Breaker, her weight loss advice will work for you. I’ll let you guess which category I fell into but let’s just say that chocolate and I have been having a meaningful relationship for many years!

What becomes apparent as soon as you start reading Fiona Kirk’s So What The F*** Should I Eat? is that she knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the struggle most of us will face at one time or another when we’re trying to shed those extra pounds. Most diets are about deprivation, boredom, starvation and dull repetitive regimes. Fiona Kirk is a qualified nutirtionist and has spent years researching what a healthy diet actually looks like. I love her straightforward, no-nonsense approach and how she is able to take the confusion out of dieting to give the reader a clear and confident path to follow and a great deal more understanding about nutrition. Throughout the book, Fiona’s humour and wit ensure that the advice she gives is entertaining, engaging and as fresh as the foods she champions.

Fiona Kirk

The first revolutionary thing about Fiona’s advice in So What The F*** Should I Eat? is that she tells the reader to BIN THE SCALES! She quite rightly states that muscle mass increases while you lose fat if you are following a healthy weight loss regime of diet and exercise. So obssessing about where the needle is wavering on those bathroom scales isn’t the best way to monitor weight loss. Fiona advocates the WAISTBAND METHOD instead. Take your tightest pair of jeans and see how they feel every day as you follow her fat loss plan. As the weeks go by and the waistband feels more comfortable, you know you’re heading in the right direction. Being able to get a thumb or two between you and the waistband of your skinny jeans or skirt is much more satisfying than looking at a number on a dial.

The second revolutionary thing about the book is that there are few rules but lots of suggestions. Fiona knows that following a prescribed way of eating doesn’t work for everybody so instead she takes a Pick ‘n’ Mix approach with her Fat Loss Plan. There is a whole chapter called Lots of Eats which give you countless options you can choose from to eat. Fiona also takes the radical approach of not defining meals as Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. She believes that five or six small meals are better than three large ones and there is no reason not to eat porridge as an evening meal. That’s probably her Scottish roots coming through as any Scot will tell you how filling and nutritious a bowl of porridge is, no matter what time of day you eat it. Eating something healthy from her Lots of Eats suggestions every 2 to 3 hours is one of Fiona’s recommendations to keep your metabolism fired up and lose fat without losing your sanity. Fiona also gives plenty of advice about exercise and clever tactics to increase your levels of fitness.

In addition to the Fat Loss Plan, Fiona has also devised a 14 day diet called 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane which is detailed in this book and is also the title of her second book which promises maximum fat loss with maximum nourishment in minimum time. Quick fix diets always attract bad press but here Fiona “decided to concentrate on the positives and ignore the negatives and find out what the 5-15% of successful dieters do and why they not only reach their goal but maintain fat loss long term”. After extensive research, she discovered that certain quick fix strategies can and do work and devised a diet that combines the revelations of successful dieters with the latest research into foods, eating and lifestyle practices that accelerate fat loss – a unique and exciting recipe.

Fiona also has an even quicker 3 day plan when time is of the essence where you live on fresh fruit, nuts (not peanuts) and water for three days, eating a handful of nuts or a couple of pieces of fruit every 2 hours. I tried her “3 Days in the Super Fast Lane Plan” and must admit the results were amazing.

Moving onto Fiona’s Fat Loss Plan, I continued to lose weight steadily and after 4 weeks I felt very comfortable in my tight skinny cords. In fact I could even get a thumb inbetween me and the waistband! I enjoyed eating a wide range of foods and based my meals around soups and salads, eating fresh fruit or drinking smoothies in the morning, avoiding carbs after 6pm and snacking on nuts or raw veggies. I found that eating every 2-3 hours gave me lots more energy in addition to the fat loss results and I slept better too.

I was so impressed with the results achieved that I shared Fiona’s book So What The F*** Should I Eat? with City Connect’s Editor-in-Chief Sloan Sheridan-Williams. Sloan did the 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane Diet and lost enough weight to go down a dress size and fit into this season’s fashionable skinny flares with no hint of a muffin top! Sloan also reported that she had more energy and clearer skin after following the eating plan.

If you’re looking to shed those extra pounds and want to try a diet that works with you rather than against you, I highly recommend you buy Fiona Kirk’s So What The F*** Should I Eat? or if you’re looking for a quick fix that will still teach you strategies to lose weight after Day 14, then buy Two Weeks in the Fast Lane Diet. Both books are available from

From Boot Camp to Bootylicious!

Get ready this October for the launch of the Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp by elite boot camps. The Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp is a unique ladies only weekend boot camp run by a specialist team of personal training instructors who understand your limits and will provide you with the ultimate fitness experience.

These highly skilled instructors, led by elite boot camps owner and lead trainer Paul Jewiss, will support and encourage you to reach your personal goals.

You’ll be motivated to push yourself to your limits and inspired to work towards the body you’ve always desired.

If you are looking to kick start your fitness routine, need something different, want to feel good or just want to see what your boundaries are, elite boot camps is for you.

elite boot camps are run outside all year round in the beautiful Norfolk countryside and are aimed at helping you achieve your goals, push your physical & mental barriers whilst having fun with like minded people. Everyone is catered for no matter what their current level of fitness.

The team at elite boot camps provide everything you need during your boot camp weekend such as camping accommodation, nutritious meals, refreshments & snacks, equipment but most importantly bags of motivation and enthusiasm from the fully qualified & experienced PTI’s. The boot camp programme includes training sessions such as core strength & stability, cardiovascular training, kettlebells, powerbags and team building exercises.


elite boot camps are running their first ladies Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp on the 1st & 2nd October 2011.

This unique weekend event is limited to 20 places and has been discounted by an amazing £100 to a special reduced price of just £200 per person!

Such an amazing offer means that you should book your place TODAY before spaces get filled up!

For more information about elite boot camps and to sign up to the Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp, please click here or call Paul on 07919 202 282.