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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Not Another Health Coach

Do you find the sheer amount of coaches overwhelming?

Coaching has become a massive industry, quite often I’m approached by coaches who coach coaches (yes it’s a thing!) generalising my business with “how long have you been a coach for?” as if they can suddenly help me be an expert in my field. I classify myself as a strength and nutrition coach, but really, I’m a personal trainer with an extra qualification in nutrition and experience competing in powerlifting at a national level.

Being a part of the coaching industry

I started out when life coaching was becoming a thing, but honestly I never went down that path because I felt like I wanted to be more specific. Being so invested in training and nutrition I chose personal training first, then worked my way towards nutrition. In the future, I’m planning to study health science as it combines physical, mental and socioeconomic factors which are all important areas to consider when helping someone become healthier.

I understand that a lot of people do identify as health coaches, but unfortunately, it looks like a lot of courses are lacking in practical knowledge based on research and science, and instead, they are often based on current trends because that’s what’s popular to talk about. I’ve even seen trending and unproven information being shared by people with nutrition qualifications because it at the end of the day, it comes down to the quality of the course and the individual researching the subject.

Why am I writing about this?

I just need to say this point-blank – your life coach is not qualified to handle your health concerns. Hell, your health coach might not even be qualified. Maybe they have some extra skills up their sleeve, they may specialise in a certain area but generally, they shouldn’t be offering advice on fitness and nutrition unless they’re trained to do so. And going deeper, none of us are qualified to handle your medical concerns alone, you need to go to do doctor for that.

Don’t even get me started on business coaches that start giving out diet advice that simply isn’t true and goes against the absolute basics of nutrition – something I’ve seen far too many times.

Unfortunately, it’s not a regulated industry. Anyone can specialise in anything they want to without the relevant skills, experience or certifications. See how many hormonal specialists that there are out there giving advice that’s unproven by endocrinologists? And how many gut health specialists there are claiming that they can alter your microbiome? It’s funny how they can’t offer you the tests to prove that their claims are true, isn’t it?! 

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My final word on this topic.

If you want to sort your life out, get a life coach. If you want to sort your business out, get a business coach. If you want to sort out your fitness and diet, please, get someone qualified in that area.

I’ve spent countless hours and thousands of pounds on courses, workshops and assessments so I know I’m offering you correct and up to date information relevant to my industry.

I’m not saying every coach in every area is a quack, there are plenty of people that have worked their way towards specialising in that area through personal experience and years of hard work. But it is scary how much BS there is out there, so all I’m saying is be vigilant, know what you’re getting yourself into and remember why you’re reaching out for help in the first place.

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Daily Exercise: How Much Is Too Much?

Daily Exercise: How Much Is Too Much?

According to the NHS website and national guidance, we’re meant to be exercising every day. The issue is that exercise is should a broad term. 

Some of us even turn to going to the gym every day, even multiple times a day, which is largely unnecessary for improving health and even weight loss for the general population.

A lot of people would actually benefit from improving their NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogensis) from general daily habits like walking, housework, gardening or even just getting up more if you have a desk job.

Do you overdo it in the gym?

Have you ever done a little bit too much in one week? I’ve done it and I’m sure many of you have too! But taking days to recover or never feeling fully rested isn’t ideal. But the type of training you do matters too…

High-intensity sessions causing your body to exceed more than 90% of your max heart rate for more than 40 minutes per week is likely to raise cortisol levels, the body’s stress hormone (1).

Because of this, it’s important to do a mix of training and not just stick to HIIT sessions alone as you can cause excess stress to the body.

This is often a problem I see amongst women who exercise frequently!

How hard should you push yourself?

While high-intensity sessions can be beneficial, you might want to work to some sort of metric to measure increases of the working sections of your workouts and make sure you allow substantial time to recover. 

For instance, someone who is fairly fit would be capable of shorter rest periods of a ratio of 2:1 whereas someone who considers themselves to be unfit would benefit from a ratio of 1:1 or more.

It might be an idea to work to an RPE (rate of perceived extertion) scale, where your high intensity time is at an 8/9 out of 10. Or, you could keep an eye on your heart rate if you have a heart rate monitor, work to 85-95% of your max heart rate and allow it to come down during the rest or active recovery (2). 

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What about Non-Exercise Activity Thermogensis?

More and more jobs involve sitting at a desk all day. While jobs where you’re having to stand all day can definitely have negative effects on the body, sitting is now considered to be a major influence on our health. This is where a focus on NEAT is beneficial.

Ever heard advice to take the stairs when you can? This is to improve your NEAT. As mentioned previously, increasing your daily activity levels alone can have positive effects on health and body composition (3). 

Of course, regular workouts also contribute to energy usage, but overall calorie intake is going to be a contributing factor when it comes to weight loss (4).

Key Takeaways

  • Consistently being active actually takes up more time throughout the day and therefore gives you a higher activity level and overall energy burn, as opposed to being very sedentary and then doing a 30-minute workout.
  • While some workout programmes require 4-6 training sessions per week you should first take a look at your overall lifestyle if weight loss is your goal
  • As little as 1-3 workouts per week will have a positive effect on your health

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References

1 – Gottschall JS, Davis JJ, Hastings B, Porter HJ. Exercise Time and Intensity: How Much Is Too Much? Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020 Feb 

2 – Taylor JL, Holland DJ, Spathis JG, Beetham KS, Wisløff U, Keating SE, Coombes JS. Guidelines for the delivery and monitoring of high intensity interval training in clinical populations. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2019 Mar-Apr

3 – Malaeb S, Perez-Leighton CE, Noble EE, Billington C. A “NEAT” Approach to Obesity Prevention in the Modern Work Environment. Workplace Health Saf. 2019 Mar

4 – Obert J, Pearlman M, Obert L, Chapin S. Popular Weight Loss Strategies: a Review of Four Weight Loss Techniques. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2017 Nov

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

How Working From Home Could Be Saving Your Feet, Back and Posture.

How Working From Home Could Be Saving Your Feet, Back and Posture

A lot of corporate jobs either require or expect women to wear high heels as part of their professional look. Even  other industries women may feel obliged to wear them on a day to day basis, but is this good for our health?

A few hours wearing heels on a night out isn’t likely to contribute to long term niggles, but wearing heels for a  considerable amount of time for normal working hours obviously takes up a good chunk of your week.

So really, work from home life could be benefitting your health more than you think for the simple fact that you can wear what you want, as long as it’s out of shot during your video call anyway.

Let’s look at the research…

How if affects the body

Long term high heel wearing causes major changes in the functionality of the feet, ankle and knee joints as well as the lower back. An increase in height of the heel also forces the foot into an exaggerated pointed position which in turn increases knee flexion and lordosis of the lower back (1).

As well as affecting the lower back and lower limbs, one study also shown significant affects on the shoulders and upper back (2).

It’s also detrimental in adolescents as they’re still growing. It can cause postural disorders, where the head is unusually far forwards as well as lumbar hyperlordosis, pelvic anteversion, and knee valgus (3).

It does depend on heel height

In one study, the majority of females that took part preferred wearing heels that were at least 3 inches high and over half of them suffered with lower back pain and discomfort. From the entire study, a considerable increase in muscular fatigue was noticeable when the heel was higher than just 6 cm (2 inches). Higher heels cause the body to tense to improve balance, causing muscular fatigue and pain in the back, shoulders and neck (4).

In the adolescent study, it was observed that the height and width of the heel are the prime characteristics that were the most influencial in affecting posture and imbalance (3).

Lower, blocky heels are considerably less likely to affect your body. Lucky for us, that’s what’s actually in fashion at the moment! So this style is readily available.

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What about other types of high heels?

Shoes with a high heel that aren’t your typical high heel shoe, (shoes that have a high wedge for example), can actually cause the same amount of damange as a traditional high heel shoe. But, the advantage that this type of shoe offers is that is applies greater stability to the ankle joint (3).

The same is likely to apply to high heel boots as it covers the foot in it’s entirety as well as supports the ankle.

But faltforms are the absolute winner as one study explains that “footwear that has a heel size that is equal or close to the height of the forefoot does not cause horizontal imbalance of the sole and, therefore, will not affect the biomechanical alignment of the ankles, functioning similarly to the shoes without heels” (3).

Excuse me while I invest in loads of flatforms for this summer!

What can you do if you don't want to part with your heels?

Of course, I’m not saying you should just go ahead and throw out your high heels. I’d just suggest wearing them in moderation. 

Also, the use of a full inner sole actually alters the biomechanics and therefore improves the comfort and functionality of high heel shoes (4).

But when you don’t need to be wearing them, i.e. at your desk, swap them out for a flatter supportive shoe and give your feet a rest.

I’d also recommend toe spreaders to correct the restriction that high heels apply to your toes. Any structured smart shoe can affect the toe area of the feet and cause bunions, so toe spreaders should be worn for a few hours to try to counteract bunions from getting worse. (Of course, if they are too far gone, then surgery is the only corrective option!)

Key Takeaways

  • Wear flatter shoes when possible, that preferably have a wider toe box to allow more room for a natural foot shape.
  • Consider just wearing high heels for special occasions or certain work related meetings rather than all the time.
  • Look after your foot health by walking barefoot at home when possible and spread the toes.

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References

1 – Wiedemeijer MM, Otten E. Effects of high heeled shoes on gait. A review. Gait Posture. 2018 Mar

2 – Malick WH, Khalid H, Mehmood Z, Hussain H. Association of musculoskeletal discomfort with the use of high heeled shoes in females. J Pak Med Assoc. 2020 Dec

3 – Silva AM, de Siqueira GR, da Silva GA. Implications of high-heeled shoes on body posture of adolescents. Rev Paul Pediatr. 2013 Jun

4 – Hong WH, Lee YH, Chen HC, Pei YC, Wu CY. Influence of heel height and shoe insert on comfort perception and biomechanical performance of young female adults during walking. Foot Ankle Int. 2005 Dec

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Is HIIT the Best Option When It Comes to Workouts for Weight Loss?

Is HIIT the Best Option When It Comes to Workouts for Weight Loss

So when people think of doing a workout for weight loss, most turn straight to high intensity interval training (HIIT) as their go-to plan. A lot of people believe that this is indeed the best way to lose weight, but let’s see what the research says.

You might also wonder what does HIIT actually involve? I’ll tell you my experience of what’s it’s not, what I recommend and what researchers use as their method.

Training Frequency

So first off, let’s look at traning frequency. Training frequency is literally how often you do a training session, so let’s say once a week vs. multiple times a week.

Based on overall activity levels it’s likely that an individual would be better results with more training frequency of 3 sessions per week. This would give greater benefits for weight loss and cardiometabolic risk factor improvement than just training once per week (1).

However improvements to your health can be made with less that the recommended 30 minutes a day of vigorous (cardio) activity combined with 2-3 resistance training sessions per week. This has been trialed on women with insulin resistance, both HIIT sessions and resistance training alone were effective in improving glycemic control over a 12 week period (2). Both groups did 3 sessions per week of just one type of training and still benefited from it from a health perspective.

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss & Health

I’m sure many people are familiar with regular cardio workouts where you would do more of a ‘steady state’ or continuous style cardio session, rather than intervals. But what gives the best result for weight loss?

Well in one study, there was no significant difference in terms of body composition, but due to the style of training, HIIT sessions required around 40% less time (3). HIIT sessions have also been shown to be more enjoyable and easier to adhere to than regular cardio sessions as well as improving health factors, even without a change in body mass (4). 

But HIIT can be a significant impact to recovery ability, particular in overweight individuals, as it’s more stress to the body. I must note that these studies are often done on treadmills (for a total of less than 20 minutes) but running on a treadmill is not the sort of exercise I would ever give a client looking to lose a considerable amount of weight. A low impact alternative such as a bike or crosstrainer is much more ideal for less stress to the knees and hips. 

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What about other types of training?

Given that they’re are general health benefits to every sort of activity, we can’t ignore the mass amount of benefits that you’d get from resistance training.

Resistance training is highly effective in improving many aspects of physical and mental health. Studies have also consistently shown significant increases in lean body mass and increased metabolic rate.

Plus it’s defnitely not lacking benefits when it comes to comparing it with HIIT sessions.

Regluar resistance training sessions have been associated with…

  • reduced low back pain 
  • reduced arthritic discomfort
  • enhanced movement control
  • improved glucose and insulin homeostasis
  • a reduction in resting blood pressure
  • greater impact on bone density than other types of physical activity
  • significant increase in bone mineral density
  • decreased symptoms of depression
  • increased self-esteem and physical self-concept
  • improved cognitive ability

Finally and fundamentally, resistance training has been shown to reverse aging factors in skeletal muscle.” (5) How incredible is that?

 

My take on this

If you’ve ever worked with me, you’d know that I don’t have a personal vendetta against HIIT, I have an issue with classes and training sessions that are classed as HIIT when they’re not. They’re just long exhausting sessions!

If you go to a gym, and they have an hour-long HIIT class, you know that the training style is not HIIT. A proper session should be around 20 minutes or less, and combine a difficult working period following by a very low intensity rest. This is then repeated multiple times. 

I often like to include these at the end of clients sessions as because I go for low impact options, it’s doesn’t require you to be fresh and there’s room for error in case you feel a bit tired.

You may want to try bursts of 10 seconds on, 20 seconds off and repeat, or you could choose a different time scale to suit you! But you do need adequate recovery time.

weights workout for weight loss

Key Takeaways & Actionable Steps

  • The best method of weightloss is going to be the one you’re going to be most ready and willing to do.
  • Pick a workout routine that’s going to benefit you physically and mentally.
  • Find something you relatively enjoy and that you’re likely to stick to.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t do multiple sessions per week because one session is better than nothing!
  • If you’re going to do HIIT sessions, pick equipment or exercises that you’re confident with.
  • Remember that you can never outtrain a ‘poor’ diet – meaning if you’re eating more than the energy you’re using, you can’t lose weight.
workout for weight loss

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References

1 – Campa F, Maietta Latessa P, Greco G, Mauro M, Mazzuca P, Spiga F, Toselli S. Effects of Different Resistance Training Frequencies on Body Composition, Cardiometabolic Risk Factors, and Handgrip Strength in Overweight and Obese Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2020 Jul

2 – Álvarez C, Ramírez-Campillo R, Ramírez-Vélez R, Izquierdo M. Effects and prevalence of nonresponders after 12 weeks of high-intensity interval or resistance training in women with insulin resistance: a randomized trial. J Appl Physiol (1985)

3 – Wewege M, van den Berg R, Ward RE, Keech A. The effects of high-intensity interval training vs. moderate-intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2017 Jun

4 – Vella CA, Taylor K, Drummer D. High-intensity interval and moderate-intensity continuous training elicit similar enjoyment and adherence levels in overweight and obese adults. Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Oct

5 – Westcott WL. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Answering the Top Fitness and Calorie Related Questions on Google

Answering the Top Fitness and Calorie Related Questions on Google

Wondering how to lose weight? Or what exercises burn fat?

I used Google autocomplete to give me loads of questions to answer in the video. I do have some fun with this because some of the questions are unbelievable!

Watch it and let me know what you think.

A side note...

Like it says at the beginning of the video (after the introduction), I don’t blame the individual for not knowing this stuff. I find it really frustrating when health and fitness professionals spread confusing or plain wrong information. 

Often, we see an overwhelming amount of conflicting information in the media, and it’s confusing for the consumer. I was making this video as a bit of fun but it became more and more worrying regarding the content people are searching for. 

This information should be readily available and it’s not because the internet is full of incorrect information. Despite all this, I’ve tried to keep the video quite lighthearted!

Your task for today...

I’d love to answer some of YOUR questions. So if you have any burning health, fitness or diet related questions. Please head over to my contact page and ask me!

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