Today I wanted to share my thoughts on the importance of keeping track.
I think everyone can get a little lost sometimes and lose track of what they are working towards and if you don't record what you are doing it is difficult to keep perspective.
Keeping a record of both nutrition and in particular workouts is extremely valuable.
Keep a record via a notebook, diary or for my clients via the LiveFitNow Online app. This is one of the best ways of measuring progress in both the short and long term. The best way of ensuring you are making progress each week is knowing exactly what you did the week before. It will also show you when you reach a training plateau and it's time to change things up.
It's a common question, are fitbits or any activity tracker any good? You may have a fitbit, samsung gear, apple watch or one of the numerous other makes out there. More and more I hear negative headlines about how we shouldn't bother with them. I have to say I don't disagree with the points that are made by the critics, most of the observations are correct but this does not mean that they are a waste of time.
I think it is a matter of how you use them. I know for a fact, because numerous clients have proven so, that these watches get people moving more than they did. Many people have such sedentary lives, these watches make people aware of how little they are moving and thus the incentive to increase the number of steps that they carry out is great.
One of the biggest criticisms of these watches is the accuracy of them, or rather lack of accuracy. If you wore three watches at the same time it is highly unlikely that by the end of the day you would have the same step count on all of them. Why bother then? Well does it really matter the exact number that you carry out? Or is it more important that you move more in general, we are probably talking a few hundred steps different, not the difference between someone who naturally does 3-4000 a day trying to ensure they reach 10000. In this case the watches do a good job.
One tip that I think is important to remember is to not use the additional calories that it calculates for you, this will particularly be relevant if you link your fitbit to myfitnesspal, the inaccuracy of its calculations coupled with most people rough estimations when they track food can mean it is easy to throw yourself over by a few hundred calories each day.
Heart rate and sleep tracking is another significant element to the functions of these watches. Again, I do think that the accuracy is not perfect but it does make people more aware and accountable to there habits and patterns.
I absolutely believe that fitness trackers have there place. They can be a great encouragement and support tool. Having one does not mean you are going to use it, after all you still need to take action to reach the goals but for most I find it gives you that helping hand and encouragement to get going.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any questions please get in touch and I will get back to you.
Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a great week! Today I want to bring up the topic of support. I sent out a mailshot last week asking for support of LiveFitNow by subscribing to our YouTube channel. And it got me thinking about the importance of support. It is extremely powerful, especially when you are striving towards personal goals.
As a personal trainer and online coach I consider support as one of the most important skills to practice day after day. It is the foundation of the service that I offer.
Support may come from a professional, a partner, family member, colleague or friend. Not forgetting your own “self” support. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. It can increase the confidence that you have in taking each small step towards your goals rather than feeling alone.
Setting yourself up with a good support network is an important thing to consider. You should consider both professional and personal support.
Do you have the help of your family and/or close friends? When you have goals to work towards it is extremely helpful if you feel supported, let people know what you are trying to achieve so they can help rather than hinder. The last thing you want as you get started is the offer of office biscuits or a night out down the pub, as much as there is nothing wrong with having those things in your life, temptation when you are trying to change habits is often counter-productive. You are trying to break old habits and great new ones. Most people thrive off routine and it all about taking small steps to change your routine to a healthier, fitter and happier one.
Professional help can come in the form of showing you how to put a structure and routine into place that will allow you to work towards your goals. They can then keep you accountable and help you with your bumps in the road along the way. Remember you need to remind yourself this is a long-term plan for long term results, it may not all be plain sailing and that is when support is so important for achieving the long term goals.
Professionals have often dealt with many of these issues before with clients and through their own experience so know how to guide you and people within your personal network have probably shared some of these experiences at some point too. Prioritise time for yourself and those who can aide you, it pays dividends.
I hope this gets you thinking about your own support network and how you can use it to your advantage and also be a support to those around you who need some help.
As always, if you have any questions please get in touch! :)
If you are looking to improve your health and fitness a good way to fit this into a busy lifestyle is HIIT. HIIT or high intensity interval training is a popular method used in the fitness industry that you may have heard of especially in the last few months as popularity seems to keep increasing. It generally involves bursts of intense exercise, with rest periods and takes place over a relatively short period of time, generally 15-30 minutes but can be as little as 4. It is a very effective way of training but it isn’t suitable for everyone and you should check with your doctor before you start such an exercise programme. It is also important when you are performing new exercises to warm up appropriately and make sure you can execute the moves safely and correctly before doing it at the intensity required for HIIT. You may need to start with an easy routine then increase the difficulty, working up to the more challenging workouts.
Why do HIIT?
There are many benefits to HIIT.
HIIT workouts you can try
Running (you can apply this to walking, bike or hills depending on fitness levels and goals)
Beginner: 20 seconds sprint, 1 minute rest (either walk or stop). Repeat 10 times.
Intermediate: 60 seconds run, 2 minutes rest. Repeat 5 times.
Advanced: 2 minutes run, 30 seconds rest. Repeat 10 times.
HIIT targeting the Core
30 seconds on, 10 seconds rest
Mountain climbers (up)
Laying ankle tap
Laying ab cycle
Mountain climbers (diagonally)
Full Body HIIT
30 seconds on, 10 seconds rest
Sprint on the spot
Record your workout, exercises and times. That way you know what you can do for your next session and push yourself harder. You want to be giving maximum effort to get your heartrate up during your work period, during your rest period your heart rate will come back down ready for the next interval. You may find it useful to get yourself a heartrate monitor. This way you can track how hard you are working, how quickly you are recovering and see improvement in your fitness over time.
Hopefully you will give HIIT a go and try something new, for more workouts or HIIT to target your specific needs get in touch, we are always happy to help.
Now of course, this is not me, I don't hate exercise. But it is something that I hear time and time again from various sources. People don't exercise because they don't like it. And a conversation with an old friend, client and health professional got me thinking a few days ago.
You know, I wasn't the sporty kid at school, I wasn't the one my peer group would have expected to end up as a personal trainer. You would have found me in the library not the sports hall at lunchtime. I did always like swimming and have to say always enjoyed sports at primary school but as the school teams passed me by at secondary school the very usual route taken by many girls of less and less sport ensued.
My new found love of exercise came a few years down the line, when I realised the importance of exercise for my overall health and well being (I was far too sedentary for my liking and this needed to change) and I took the leap of joining a small, friendly, independent gym. Little did I know this action would change the entire path of my life. I had never been in a gym before, I didn't know if I would like it but I made the decision to give it a go and I never looked back. That first step got me trying all sorts of different activities over the years, I've lifted weights, joined in with various fitness classes from Step to Spin, Pilates, got myself a mountain bike and participated in races and running too. I have to say I have enjoyed these things for many different reasons but what's most important is the fact that if I hadn't tried it once, I wouldn't have known that it is something that I enjoy and now choose to carry on with.
So I guess it's time to come back to my original point: don't say "I hate exercise". If you have given every sport, or activity in the world a try, fair enough, I guess you can. But you know what, I truly believe that everyone has at least one thing that they enjoy, find fun, want to keep doing. You just may have never tried it to find out. If you are someone who doesn't currently look forward to exercising this is my advice to you: try something new. You may not even realise that you are working out, for many I guess this would be the best part of all. You may find it useful to have a think about why you haven't enjoyed exercise in the past. Is it the feeling, you prefer to work individually or work better as part of a team, lack of knowledge...the reasons are endless, but have a think about what it is that you haven't enjoyed in the past and it may guide you in the right direction as to the sort of thing to try or avoid.
Good luck on your quest and please let me know what you find!
For most, I honestly believe setting New Year resolutions are a waste of time...
Taking the time to think about what you would like to achieve in the coming months and year ahead is a fantastic idea. And that is what this time of year allows. A time for reflection on what you may or may not have achieved in the last 12 months and what you would like to focus on going forward.
It’s really quite an exciting time. New things to keep you moving forward and driven for the year ahead.
My advice to you is to set yourself realistic long, medium and short term goals. Don’t just ban or cut things out (there are of course the odd exceptions i.e giving up smoking etc) look at what you want to achieve and set yourself sensible and achievable goals. Keep focused, make regular progress and try and find some fun in what you do. Enjoying something makes it seem so much less of a chore and improves the chances of you sticking with it throughout the year.
So I wish you good luck with all of your goals for 2018, set your mind to what you want to achieve, figure out what you need to do it and work hard every day to reach them.
Happy New Year... wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2018!
It is something I hear all too often, “I’ve left it too late”, “there is no point starting now” or “it isn’t good idea to start at my age I may hurt myself”, the list could go on. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s never too late to begin or restart exercising and whatever your age exercise is fantastic benefit to the body and mind. The NHS guidelines suggests that everyone should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. The easiest way to achieve this is do something every day for at least 10 minutes. If you do 30 minutes five days a week you will be able to meet the guidelines. This is the minimum amount so don’t stop if you feel you can do more! To achieve the moderate activity threshold, you will need to do activities that raise your heart rate. Examples of activities that you can do include brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike or mowing the lawns. In addition to these activities it is also recommended that you “work your muscles” by doing activities such as weight training, carrying heavy loads and gardening, for example digging, would put your muscles under load.
A simple change that everyone can make is to try and sit less. Many people spend large periods of the day sitting, for some it is up to 10 hours every day. Whether it be watching the TV, at the computer, driving, reading or listening to music most of the time people are sat whilst doing them. If these are common activities for you and you are aware that you spend long periods of time not moving the key is to try to get up and walk about regularly. Ideally every 15 minutes or so but try not to go longer than 60 minutes without getting up. Some of the activities that you sit to do may be able to be done whilst standing or even walking around, such as making a phone call.
One of my focus’ when I train people is lifting weights and being able to lift themselves. This is something that can seem incredibly daunting to some people. Not only that but there is a common misconception that it isn’t beneficial to start lifting weights. But as the joints and muscles start to ache this is exactly the time to make sure you use them and keep or make them stronger.
Muscles support your skeleton and joints, if they deteriorate and weaken the chances are your posture and general mobility will reduce. Weight lifting is proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and preserve bone density. As well as reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. Not only this but it can also improve sleep and reduce depression. All of which I think we would all like to improve or reduce the chances of them happening or worsening.
It’s never too late to start doing more and trying something new like lifting weights so why not give it a go. If you are unsure or want to make sure it is suitable for you to get started it is recommended that you discuss it with your doctor and you may also want some guidance from a fitness professional to get you started and moving in the right direction. The benefits are numerous, make a start and get ready to feel better on the inside and out don’t let age be a reason to stop you.
1. Get up and move throughout the day
2. Do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week
3. Work your muscles by doing weight bearing activities
4. Be prepared to try something new
Thanks for reading, until the next time...
The festive season is full of parties, food and alcohol and although it is the time to be merry it may be worth taking a few measures to ensure our waistbands don’t expand to the size of Santa Claus! No one wants those post-Christmas blues because they have put on a few extra pounds so try these neat tricks to stay on top.
By making a few good choices when you have a tipple or have a meal you can maintain a reasonable calorific income.
1. Alcohol: Spirits with a mixer or prosecco rather than wine and beer. Drink lots of water during this time.
2. Nibbles and Starters: go for the nuts and fruits when snacking. Look for the protein and salads for starters and try and avoid the bread.
3. Main Course: The trimmings are the bit that can tip the scales in terms of calories. So focus on the protein of the meal, for most the chirstmas turkey and then have lots of vegetables (especially the carrots, sprouts and swede). There is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy every part of your Christmas dinner just keep a check on how much you are having, portion control goes a long way on keeping the calories in check.
4. Desert: you can either go for the healthy option, such as fruit, give it a miss, share with a friend or plan the meals at which you intend to have whatever desert you want.
5. Keep moving, it’s easy to go from one place to another always sitting down, from the car journey to the relatives house, why not meet in a park or at a local nature reserve so everyone gets some fresh air and exercise. Christmas party games are another great way to keep active.
6. Short workouts. Don’t let a lack of time be your reason for not working out over the festive season. If you can’t make your usual 1 hour sessions try and complete a 20 minute high intensity workout.
7. Get walking. You’ve finished your Christmas dinner and you want to sit in front of the tv, get up, out on your gloves, hat and scarf and go for a walk, that sit down afterwards will feel even more deserved after stretching your legs.
8. Stop eating when you are full. It’s so easy to over indulge and have ginormous plates of food at this time of year but you should still stop when you feel full.
9. Don’t skip meals. Even though you may know that you will be having a more extravagant meal than usual don’t send your body into starvation mode because you know you are going to eat later on in the day. Also try to eat slowly so your body realises when it is full.
10. Drink a glass of water. Before a meal and when drinking alcohol a great way to reduce the amount that you are eating and reducing dehydration is to have a glass of water.
11. Portion control. Try to not overeat. Often you can make good choices but eat much more than usual and that alone can stack on the pounds. Quality not quantity.
12. Go for a run or a cycle ride.
Hopefully this will help you enjoy your Christmas parties and Christmas dinner a little bit more this year safe in the knowledge that you are more likely to feel good going into the New Year.
As always, please get in touch if you need any help formulating a plan of action...
I’m sure that many of you will have heard the term “core” before. Some of you may know what it is, some may know how you use yours and others have no idea at all. I’m going to take a look at why it is important that we all know what it is and how we work it.
What is our “core”?
When we talk about our “core” we are referring to the muscles in our torso, generally people think of their stomach muscles and lower back. Specifically, the major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius. In summary the core involves many muscles some are superficial and can be seen on the surface and others are muscles that lie deep within our torso, it is important to be aware of this when looking to strengthen and engage your core. It isn’t just about bracing your “6-pack”.
When do we use our core?
- Daily tasks: from housework to gardening, every time you bend, lift, twist or carry something your core will be involved.
- Sports: from walking to running, racquet sports to cycling, swimming to golf, you will be using your core to do so. If your core is weak you may find it difficult to do certain movements or improve technique. You may experience pain whilst performing these activities such as lower back pain, if you find this it is worthwhile checking how strong you core is and if you are engaging your core correctly whilst performing that activity.
- Posture: in order to stand tall with good posture you need to ensure you engage your core muscles and that they are strong and working correctly and effectively. If you find that you have bad posture it may be because you have weak core muscles.
How to engage it
In simple terms, you should take a big breath and then you want to try and imagine that you are pulling your tummy button towards your spine at the same time as ‘drawing up’ from the pelvic floor. If you are unsure about how it feels to engage the pelvic floor imagine you want to stop yourself from going to the toilet. Think of the action as ‘hollowing’ out your tummy area rather than just bracing your abs.
Some find it quite challenging to get the hang of but once you’ve got it, it is invaluable for all movements whether it be day to day or exercise.
There are a number of tests that can be carried out to assess core function. If you would like to find out how well your core functions, get in touch.
Exercises to strengthen your core
Here are some exercises that you could try at home (seek professional advice if you have any medical issues or are unsure how to carry them out)
Lie face down on the floor with feet together and forearms on the ground. Draw abs in and tighten glutes. Lift entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on forearms and toes. Hold. Slowly return body to the ground, keeping chin tucked and back flat. If your lower back starts to ache, or you are dropping or raising your hips out of position either make it easier by dropping down to your knees or rest before trying again. Time how long you can hold it for and try and improve each time you do it.
Lie on back with legs extended and hands folded across chest. Pull right knee in toward chest while twisting left shoulder toward right knee. Return to starting position and repeat with other knee and shoulder.
Balance on hands and knees. Lift right leg and left arm, extending right leg to the rear and reaching forward with left arm. Hold. Repeat with opposite arm and leg.
Hopefully that gives you a little more understanding of your core and how important it is.
Any questions please get in touch.
When people want to get in shape it can often be a challenge to get started. It can be even more difficult to make working out a routine habit. There are many ways to try and make a change but I am going to focus on one potential solution. Getting yourself a training partner.
Boredom, loneliness and lack of knowledge are some of the reasons that stop people doing regular exercise sessions. As I have said before consistency is key and if these factors affect you then chances are you won’t stick with your routine for long (if you even have one!).
In an ideal world a training partner would be working towards the same sort of goals but there is no reason they cannot have different goals to yourself. Couples can often have different goals but still make a good team. You can complete similar or different workouts but having someone on a journey of their own whilst you are on yours will make it seem far less daunting. So talk to people around you and see if someone else is ready to commit to getting the results that they want. This may be your partner, friend or work colleague, if you already go to the gym you may find someone there looking for the same as you.
Advantages of having a training partner
Tips for success
So now you know the benefits it’s time to find a partner. Come up with a plan and execute it together and see the results.
Vicki is a Personal Trainer, and Online Coach with the aim of helping others achieve their health and fitness goals via training and habit building for a healthier lifestyle, for life.