Calorie Counting vs Intuitive Eating

tea-toast

Everyday we are exposed to the topic of diets in some form, be it the latest copy of Hello, a feature in Daybreak or a girlie conversation at work (couldn’t help myself).  The result is that we find ourselves drowning in a sea of contradiction with huge billboards endorsing low fat milk (endorsed by sports personalities) and other health experts telling us that in fact, whole milk is better for you.

True we live in an information age but your original search term if misinformed will lead you down a blind alley.  So this is your search term:

Calorie counting versus intuitive eating

There, get searching or alternatively read the rest of this post.

So calorie counting was the original method of leading a healthy lifestyle.  It remains the old school method adopted by bodybuilders and performance specialists.  Tried and tested and seems to work for most people.  The simplest way to work it out…well there isn’t but let’s give it a go:

I weigh 150 lbs (yes pounds) therefore my minimum calorie requirement to stay alive is that times 10 so 1500 calories.  I then add my daily activity; I am moderately active so I need to add 50% to this figure.

1500 + 750 = 2250

So daily I need 2250 calories.  Thus, if I need to ‘lose weight’ I need to create an energy surplus and restrict my consumption to something like 2000.  Thereafter, I look for a food database like that on ‘MyFitnessPal’ and start creating my meal plan.

In reality this method I believe only works if you guarantee your surplus by keeping your calories down to 1500.  It’s important to remember that based on this method a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from whether it comes from a slice of lettuce or a chocolate bar.  President of B2C Fitness Brent Brookbush MS says in his book Fitness or Fiction:

No matter what you eat, if energy input is more than energy output you will gain weight.  Heck you could gain weight eating lettuce (Fitness or Fiction, The Truth about Diet and Exercise, p.5)

So that’s the calorie counting method.

As for intuitive eating then this a totally different kettle of fish and forms the basis of many of the new diets we hear about today.  It takes into account the type of calories we consume as not all calories are created equal.  To put this into perspective, a banana contains 100 calories as does 5 brazil nuts.  On the other hand a ‘weight watchers’ chocolate digestive biscuit contains just 40 calories.  So, logically speaking which of these foods is the healthiest? Precisely!

Intuitive eating doesn’t just focus on calorie quality but with also dealing with our psychological approach to food, responding to hunger signals, dealing with them and making the right food choices.  Scott Sonnon said it perfectly in a recent facebook post:

‘If you feel satisfied, but not full, a little hungry, but not ravenous, most of the day, then you’ve probably found the right balance of macronutrients (lean proteins, complex carbs and good fats.)’
3course

In essence I am putting any diet that isn’t inherently calorie controlled under the intuitive eating label and these include extreme methods like Atkins where an entire food group is eliminated as well as some more attractive approaches like Paleo, the Harcombe Diet, the Hay Diet and GI.

So, and stay with me, it is my longest post to date, before beginning any ‘diet’ we ask ourselves which approach to nutrition is this?  Calorie counting or intuitive eating?  Remember, with the latter there isn’t technically any counting just food selection and vague portion control, hence you do not look at labels.  If however you are counting then whether it is cheesecake or tuna it doesn’t matter as long as you stay beneath your target intake.

In addition may I also recommend a better post on this subject and I also advise you to read the accompanying comments as they show people’s real life experiences with nutrition.

http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/its-all-mental/the-calorie-counting-vs-intuitive-eating-debate/

As for my view then I am now believing in calorie counting again as the best initial step towards developing an awareness of what goes into our system.  On this basis I have created a 1500 calorie/day diet plan geared towards weight loss, although most of the products are only available in UK stores.  Click the link to download it now.

https://sbfitnessblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/1500.pdf

Masterclass with Scott and Alberto

meandalbertomeandscott

Wednesday 1st May and the venue is the Field Training Lifestyle Centre, Marylebone, London. I was privileged enough to attend a master class with two awesome trainers who understand movement and practise what they preach. They have a system of training that is unique and innovative, yet still makes sense. A system that is always developing and just gets more and more interesting.

Number one was Scott Sonnon martial arts expert, fitness coach, and wellness speaker. He has worked with movie stars as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fighters. Scott Sonnon was voted one of “The 6 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 21st Century” by Black Belt Magazine in 201o and was named one of “Top 25 Fitness Trainers in the World” by “Men’s Fitness Magazine” in 2011. His fitness system, Circular Strength Training, has been adopted by members of the United States military and law enforcement community. He is also a published author, a public speaker, and an advocate in the fight against childhood obesity.

And number 2 is Alberto Galazzi, who recently featured in Men’s Health Italy. Alberto is an ESI approved protection agent, and head of the European wing of Circular Strength Training.

Learning from these guys is always an amazing experience and what gave me immense satisfaction is how much more I understand from Scott and Alberto compared to 18 months ago when I last saw them. Where other fitness related courses teach us how to perform conventional exercises or learn how to use the latest gimmick, sessions with these guys involve learning and refining the art of movement. We learn how movement is the manifestation of life. When movement is good, the quality of life is good. Perfecting movement does more for anti-ageing then any magic cream or pill. During the masterclass we covered three key areas of the body where movement becomes impaired; shoulders, hips and core. Remember, when our movement fails us in these areas we compensate by overusing other parts of the body.

Shoulders

When getting shoulder problems people turn to this nonsense to rectify it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY2tNBOmvGs

These cable or band rotations are unbelievably stupid. Shoulder problems are invariably a result of poor shoulder mobility so strengthening is the last thing we need. The dynamic duo taught us some amazing mobility exercises to encourage more rotation at the shoulder joint making sure that all four joints of the shoulder complex get the right amount of attention. Some basic examples of rehab exercises are in the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tri0MtGdbvs

Hips

When we have knee problems we turn to this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5BDi8Oj5eM

Strengthening your VMO the tear drop muscle again is a bad move as this is the thing usually pulling on the patella in the first place. The knee is slave to the hip and ankle so restriction in hip mobility, in particular internal and external rotation plays a big factor in both knee and back problems. The solutions to encourage more mobility in this area are quite simple and begin with the Russian shinbox.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wYBZ6Sn55c

 

Core

As for when we have back problems that are blamed on weak pelvic wall muscles we are told to do leg raises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix5h6zAUTNs

I love Pilates but this is where it well and truly loses my vote. The pelvic wall is inactive in many of us that have an anterior pelvic tilt (where the ass sticks out) so the solution is to work on this position.

hollow

Scott and Alberto showed us some innovative exercises incorporating this ‘Power Chamber Workout’. The basics of it are detailed in the following article:

http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/?p=827

It was an amazing day and my clients are already enjoying the new instructions they are getting from me. I look forward to learning more from these guys.

Strength, Power and Resilience

lovett

Today I completed a 2-day seminar on Strength, Power and Resilience hosted by three top fitness professionals in the industry.

Number 1 was Jack Lovett a former champion of British Natural Strongest Man now with an amazing strength and conditioning centre called Spartan Performance in the North-West of England.  With him we covered the basic four lifts in weight-training; Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, and Overhead Shoulder Press.  Check out my video on the subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfTJoYsoVwM

It was nice to see that Jack was very impressed with my deadlift, the one exercise that most people get horribly wrong.  You’d think that after two years as a fitness professional why would I do a course like this.  Remember, sport science is still a baby and there is so much to learn from different people’s experiences and their programmes.  Also, these guys spend a huge amount of time on warm-up, prep drills and mobility/foam-rolling before going in with their exercises.  In addition, they stick to these lifts with very few assistance exercises and do a lot of conditioning exercises like tire-flips and prowler pushes.  This is what goes on at Spartan Performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZipC1DE_4qY

Then there was Sabina Skala, Strength and Conditioning coach at CJS combat.  Sabina taught us the Power Clean which is an important exercise in generating insane power from our hips, important for athletes, good for fat-burning and an advert for combining strength and mobility.  Quite surprising how the Clean is a separate exercise in itself and how technical and varied it can be.  I am relishing the challenge to perfect my clean using this method of double knee-bend.

sabina

Persona number three was Jonathan Lewis, Physio extraordinaire, also part of the CJS team.  There are a lot of old-fashioned physios out there whose treatments are nothing but temporary analgesics providing short-term relief.  I look at what physios do for themselves in terms of their own training.  You can only understand other people’s bodies if you explore your own body and Jonathan is well-versed in different types of training, including various body-flow systems be they yoga or martial arts. In addition he taught valuable release techniques using the various TP massage tools.

I will have taken so much from this course and in the next few weeks people will see a trainer taking huge steps into furthering his ability in the fitness industry.

My Weekend at the Spinning® Clinic

spinning_cert

Just completed my two-day spinning® clinic in Central London and like the barefoot running coaching it was a great course for me to do.  Until now I had been teaching indoor cycling having qualified with a lesser-known brand.  In fact, most instructors that teach indoor cycling are not qualified with the actual Spinning® brand.  I am actually happy to have taught a more freestyle version previously as it gave me the opportunity to improve my skills as an instructor.  Now I feel I am ready to represent the brand.

Now I feel a sense of belonging to a global network using a global language to convey our instructions.  Did you know that all the different drills in spinning®, like ‘seated flat’, and ‘sprints on a hill’, have their own symbols?

For attendees this is of great benefit because if they come across a Spinning® instructor the language used will be familiar to them so even if there is a substitute the class continuity can be preserved.

The spinning programme is a wide and extensive programme.  It can be implemented to achieve numerous goals by following the different training methods discussed briefly on their website www.spinning.com.  Through this, one can achieve all their fitness goals I believe be they improving fitness or achieving fat loss.  A good spinning® bike is about £500 and that really is all you need to get fit with the right instruction.  A few little separate sessions of weight training will help and everything is sorted.  Only those that wish to bulk-up in muscle mass will need more help in the weights room but just to look lean and toned the spinner is really all you need.  I know that is all I would need, I just do the other stuff because I enjoy it and it is also my job.

Another great thing from the course was that most of those attending weren’t even fitness professionals.  They were those with normal office or desk jobs who had a passion for fitness and spin and wanted to do this course in order to help themselves do better in their own classes and to also keep alive that dream of working in the fitness industry one day.

I have also had the opportunity to teach a class today in my new style and I look forward to developing these skills in future weeks.  I have some really good ideas planned.

Big shout out also to my Master Instructor Sandro Morelli who is an encyclopaedia of knowledge and a great inspiration.

I thoroughly recommend this course to anyone whether in the fitness industry or not.  Hope you enjoy your journey into spinning®

The importance of cycling shoes in spinning

cyclingshoes

This is a much belated article and a follow-up to a couple of posts from 2012 when I experimented with two different types of regular trainers.  Since then I have invested in some proper cycling shoes and have never looked back.  I am much less susceptible to injury and I am able to exert myself a lot more effectively and get more bang for my buck in every class.

The purpose behind these is to be able to strike the pedal with something firm and solid.  I always use the analogy of hitting a nail with a hammer rather than a cushion.  Your foot is soft and malleable so striking a pedal with it causes an overwhelming amount of stress on your calf muscles in proportion to the rest of your leg muscles.  If you are sitting now just push the ball of one foot into the ground as hard as possible and feel how the outside of your calf is contracted.  The rigid sole of the cycling shoe will limit this force so that you have a better distribution of load around the lower body.  So even if you are not so fussed about performance, from an injury prevention point of view cycling shoes are an essential investment.

There then remains two reasons why people don’t go for cycling shoes in a spin class:

1. ‘I don’t want to be the odd one out.’  I have taught classes in both commercial gyms and corporate gyms.  My experience is that in the corporate gyms a greater proportion of people are wearing cycling shoes so it is almost the norm.  The key thing is to not worry about it and do what you know is right.  People in London seem very unwilling to try something different…ramble over.

2. ‘I’m scared I won’t know how to use them’.  Simple solution is to find your favourite instructor and ask them to help you.  I’m sure they will be more than willing to help out.  Of course, you will have to take the bold step of talking to them (something else that is hard for Londoners…OK I’ll stop).

Glad I got this post out the way as I will tomorrow attend the official two-day spinning course after freestyling it for two years.  So 14 hours of study including at least four classes are ahead of me, let’s hope I come out alive so I can share my thoughts.

 

Unlocking the Mental Secret to Weight Loss

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The paths to weight loss are many and weight loss is something that preoccupies people all over the world.  With fitness being the most conventional path that people go down for this purpose, we often hear about the importance of nutrition in this process.  However, weight loss, or Fat Loss, as I prefer to call it, is very much influenced by our mentality as well, and the mind plays a huge roll.

So let me create one specific situation for you to place yourself in allowing you to really intensify your goal…

Imagine you are in prison, for whatever reason and now having paid your debt back to society you have now been given your release date… it is only a month away.  Now this really is a goal; you want to make sure that when you are unlocked for the last time and those doors open you are in the most awesome shape you have ever been in.  You no longer have any distractions and you have that date in mind so what do you do? You hit that gym, or that rowing machine, or even your prison cell workout every single day without fail,  knowing that one lost workout is a day wasted.  You avoid that biscuit or chocolate because you know that is an extra millimetre round your waist line and a few push-ups gone down the drain.

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So put yourself in that prison with that release date in mind, and let that create that inner determination and will to help achieve your goals.  This will give you that extra drive to train even when you thought you couldn’t and push even when you thought you were running on empty.

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The workout and routine that I stuck to to help get rid of my stubborn belly fat was a 30 minute row on the ergometer every single morning with the last ten minutes being intervals.  I imagined myself in that situation and got down to it and got on the machine no matter what and soon I began to see those results I craved.

Of course, you could have a different situation in mind like getting into your wedding dress or getting prepared for the beach but it just doesn’t cultivate the same attitude as the prison scenario.  The association between sweat and grit with wedding dresses just isn’t there unlike prison so that connection is enforced and results are achieved.  Hope this can work for you as it did for me.

 

 

A Fairer Fitness Test

Practically all of us have been put through some sort of fitness test, whether at school, by a doctor, a trainer or as part of our enrolment.  The trouble I find with is that most tests require a certain level of technical ability probably because they entail some sort of cardio exercise like running or cycling.  With these being very specific exercises it is hard to guage an accurate fitness level for all people as a ‘fit’ person may have an inferior running technique to a less ‘fit’ individual.  What if the ‘fitter’ person cannot even ride a bike??? Sometimes the exercises involved in the fitness test requires weights in which case you have to set regulations as to what men need to use and what women need to use.  So what if you have a light man like myself.  I’m fed up of authorising bodies setting a weight that only 75kg + men would comfortably manage.

So to address all this I came up with the ‘Lizzy’ Challenge.  The story behind it is a rather long one but it is a series of 8 bodyweight exercises performed back to back.  You count total reps and the target is 200.  It in itself is a great cardio/strength workout and a valuable reference point to return to and assess your current level of fitness.  The eight exercises are

1. Alternating Lunges

2. Press-ups (Girls can go on their knees but I do have girls that are happy to go on theirtoes and still hit 250 +)

 

3. Mountain climbers (will probably have to refer to the video for that one)

4. Bunny hops

5. Step-overs (a stepper or box will be needed for this and the previous exercise)

6. Bodyweight squats

7. V-situps

8. Star jumps (they may look silly for some but it is a good way to finish and take you to your PB)

Many thanks to my client Andrew for doing this workout on film.  His progress has been amazing.  Try the test yourself and let me know your results.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es-AUwxO5Bs

 

Barefoot Running, The Dangerous New Phenomenon

barefootrun

Hope that title caught your attention.  Fact is I had the most amazing experience learning proper barefoot running technique from the coaching team of VIVOBAREFOOT.  I literally felt liberated and born again, no exaggeration.

Of course, it’s not as simple as just taking your shoes off and running.  Luckily I had the priviledge of learning from the students of Lee Saxby, the authority on barefoot running.  A lot has been made of this book called Born to Run, Chris McDougall. The book that allegedly sparked a revolution.  Well, Lee Saxby was McDougall’s coach.  Also present (as a learner) was a London Marathon expert and advisor to over 50 charities on long distance running, Greame Hilditch.  His book on running marathons has even helped BBC presenter Sophie Raworth to complete her marathon, a year after collapsing in one.  It was thus an honour to be in such esteemed company, training in a centre just down the road from me at PremierGlobal, North London.

The team have come up with a great, simple-to-follow, training programme to start getting accustomed to this technique all explained in an ebook, the link for which is below

http://trainingclinic.vivobarefoot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/Proprioception-MakingSenseofBarefootRunning.pdf

So we began the day getting ourselves recorded executing our current technique.  Then we went through the drills explained in the ebook and were filmed again.  The results can be seen, at least with me, in the following YouTube video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hitEcTt_JgM

Say what you like.  Most people say I look healthier in the second video, some say I look weird.  One thing is for sure, I am a lot happier.  It has given me the motivation to take up more running and it might be the answer to beefing my tiny calves.

Of course you don’t have to be totally barefoot and there are a lot of ‘barefoot’ trainers out there.  However, the VIVOBAREFOOT model has a proper training philosophy behind it, most notably the importance of toe-splaying which is compromised by the five-finger models.  As a result, VIVOBAREFOOTs even look like normal shoes so a double bonus.

vivo

There’s a whole lot more around this phenomenon.  Learning to strike with the forefoot as opposed to heel is a skill that isn’t just acquired and needs to be learnt and I am still in that process.  Sure I can coach and advise people on this but I am on the journey myself but it is a challenge that I am relishing and looking forward to sharing my findings with you.

So read up the resources given, as well as the stuff on the VIVOBAREFOOT website and make an informed decision as to whether you wish to embark on the same journey.  Some people like Greame has said that he has been fine running marathons for fifteen years in cushioned trainers so he probably won’t change, so make the decision that is right for you.

Healthy Regards

Pre-exhaust method to build big pecs

Another one of those problems faced by iron-pumping enthusiasts is when you feel your performance improving on the bench press but the chest remains as flat as a pancake. So what seems to be the problem here?

It’s a simple case of the arms taking dominance over the chest  I should think. So here’ s the primary method used to address this; it’s actually a method that we are all taught in PT school but now I stumbled across evidence that this method actually works. It’s called the pre-exhaust method and the idea is that you fatigue the tricep first so that once you hit the bench press exercise the chest becomes more engaged during the move.  The picture above features one of my clients, Jenner.  We never actually practised the pre-exhaust method but what he did have was a slight injury to his left tricep.  After a few months of working with him we see that the left pec is much better developed than the right pec.  My belief is that the weakness in his left tricep allowed him to engage the left pec a lot better.  Again a small portion of people will find their pectorals responding well to any chest exercise and they are that minority regularly attending the gym either because they see their results and are thus motivated or because they are scared of losing what they already have.  This method is more for those that struggle to build the chest or because they have plateaued.
The method is pretty simple; perform an exercise that will fatique the tricep.  The chosen exercise needs to isolate this muscle to make it a complete ‘billy-no-mates’.  The standing cable extension with the rope is a good choice for me.  Once you have done that, hit the chest with an effective pressing exercise, dumbell press or bench-press.
Breaking plateaus is a challenging game and gradually I am building up my repertoire of plateau breakers but this is a common one that every Personal Trainer is aware of.
Hope you have fun trying this out.

Add 10 kg to your Maximum Bench Press

BP wrong

This is not a make-believe Men’s Health claim. I actually did increase someone’s plateauing 1 rep maximum by 10 kilos on his bench press. It was a 3 months process (which you can easily condense into 9 weeks) but now we have built a strong foundation upon which we can beef up his chest which would not have been possible without adopting such a perfect structure. This method is perfect for someone who finds it difficult to build up his chest. If it doesn’t happen easily just with a few chest workouts then you need a plan Like this no doubt.

There is no fancy name for this method because it’s my method and I am a nobody 😦 as i already mentioned it is for people who have

1. Plateaued

2. Lack the genetics needed to get that chiselled physique.

Quite simply you go through a 9-week phase training chest twice a week. All your exercises are press variations. Dumbbell, barbell, smith machine, incline, decline whatever. Each micro cycle is 3 weeks long.

Weeks 1-3

every exercise is 5 sets of 5 (Yes I know this has already been documented so let me finish)

weeks 4-6

Every exercise is 4 sets of eight

Weeks 7-9

Every exercise is 3 sets of 12

Once you complete your 9-week cycle you will find not only that you are stronger on your 1 rep maximum but you have also built up the chest in the process. Try it for yourself because you may as well. What else were you planning a thirty minute time-wasting abdominal workout?

The last point of caution concerns form. Check the ‘big four’ post for more info on this but form on the bench press is extremely overlooked compared to what we are accustomed to with squats and deadlifts.

Hope you enjoy trying this out folks.