SUNSHINE WHILST THE CATS (CLIENTS) ARE AWAY
Majorca and yours truly has been the surprise winner of the September client of the month! I know this sounds crazy, but the vast majority of my clients have been away in September so I decided to book a quick getaway for some last minute sunshine rays of vitamin D before the English winter settles in.
And beautiful Majorca did not disappoint. Glorious sunshine, warmth, food and lovely friendly people. I do love this Spanish island.
A long way from personal training at Stanza Fitness in Bath, taking a break enabled me to recharge my batteries, read a great book – The Wheat Belly , soak up sun rays and have a well-earned rest from exercise.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A BREAK
I’m a great believer in rest several times a year from scheduled training. Why?
Well, the body needs to recover from the daily grind of hard sessions at the gym. Some years ago, I read an article about the top bodybuilders having a week off training every 10 weeks of intense exercise. And I have to say that for mind, soul and body, I agree. You feel great after a break and I’m always itching to get back and train having been invigorated from a rest.
So what happens when you go on holiday and take a break without the pressures of everyday life.
HEAL THE HEART
Wear and tear of years of heavy-duty workouts, especially those long endurance sessions can weaken heart muscles predisposing you to ventricular arrhythmia.
Endurance athletes such as rowers, cyclists and runners can show signs of fibrosis (scarring) of heart tissue which can weaken heart muscles causing the heart to beat erratically. This is likely due to the damage of the right chamber of the heart.
And avoiding excessive exercise is one way to fix this issue.
But that’s difficult if you compete. So ensuring you engage in good warm-ups, cool-downs and do not add excessive volume to numerous high intensity workouts will help your heart. And do include recovery days and recovery weeks.
Many athletes and gym goers spend lots of time engaging in excessive carbohydrate laden foods which play havoc with the body’s insulin levels. Filling up with sugary foods pre workout and then hitting the energy bars, gels, drinks, pizzas, pastas, muffins, bread and all in the belief that you’ve earned it. WRONG!
Unfortunately, you will respond by producing higher levels of insulin from the pancreas to help the high blood sugar in the body (glucose) find its way into the muscles. Any excess blood sugar gets stored in the fatty tissue around the belly.
So on holiday, I aim for those good healthy fats from the Mediterranean such as cheeses, oily fish, olives, olive oil, nuts, fresh organic locally sourced vegetables and avocados. Staying way from carbohydrates is easy as there is no need for them when I’m not exercising.
My pancreas and digestive system now have a chance to rest.
Oh and the red wine but that’s another story!
Exercise can increase production of free radical damage in the body. This happens when oxygen is used to convert energy into ATP for muscle contractions. The enhanced free radical oxidisation causes oxidative damage to muscles and other tissues. Intense and high volume exercise can cause significant free radical damage. That is why rest and diet is so important.
Continuation of oxidative stress from free radicals damages cellular proteins, membranes and genes and leads to chronic systemic inflammation.
So resting and allowing the body to have a break from free radical damage is vitally important for health. In addition, increase your anti-oxidant foods such as berries, nuts and dark leafy greens. Indulge in these foods.
The adrenal glands produce cortisol, norepinephrine and DHEA hormones which allow your body to adapt to stressful situations.
If the body becomes too stressed, the adrenal glands can become exhausted and the hormones they produce become depleted. This results in serious deficiencies such as testosterone deficiencies in men and oestrogen dominance in women. These deficiencies are linked to sleepless nights, low libido, illness and overtraining.
Excessive wear and tear is caused by excessive exercise. I certainly don’t want a knee or hip replacement.
Avoiding exercising in one plane of motion is easy unless you are a competitive runner, cyclist, rower or swimmer. So mixing up your training by doing other activities and ensuring adequate rest periods throughout the year is vital to the heath of your body. And a good diet.
It’s time to stop being selfish with exercise and spend time with the ones you love and care for.
Give them 100% of your time. We can all become obsessive with our training. Wanting to get that extra session in at the cost of spending some quality time with your family and loved ones.
And by resting when you’re on holiday, you will refresh your mind, body, soul and relationships. There’s nothing better than spending that gym time guilt free with your special person or/and family and friends.
A healthy relationship has so many positive effects on a healthy body so spend time going for walks, swimming and playing in the sea. Eat together without the tv, computer or phone distracting your positive energy.
SO EXERCISE BUT REST TOO
A lifetime of physical activity is very important to your physical and mental health.
However, overdoing it and not planning in rest weeks after 2-3 months is a mistake and one that can have a negative impact on your life.
I finished my holiday, refreshed physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the onslaught of the next 3 months at the British Indoor Rowing Champs in London in December. It’s going to get hard. The training will be intense. There will be some long and hard sessions.
There will be tiredness.
However, I have scheduled a mini break half way through the training block with a trip down to Cornwall and then a week off straight after the race to rest and recuperate.
Life is good, as long as it’s balanced.
ALWAYS BRINGING A SMILE TO THE GYM
Cecilia has been training with me over the past 12 months. A student at the University of Bath and finishing her final year, Cecilia wanted to get fit, lower stress levels and use exercise to develop a healthy lifestyle during her final year of study.
Despite high stress levels associated with final year students causing over indulgence in sugary and junk foods and alcohol, Cecilia always turned up to the gym happy and excited to exercise and followed a healthy diet. Even when she worked in the university library through the night, Cecilia would turn up in the gym next day for a workout happy and motivated.
It’s her positive fabulous attitude that gained her the August client of the month.
A big fan of hitting things, Cecilia loves to workout on the pads. We developed various combinations to test her cognitive learning as well as practising some famous fighter combinations including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Wladimir Klitschko knockout combos.
Cecilia may have missed the pads a couple of times but she always insisted that it was a mistake and apologised – Hmm!
We added some resistance training to strengthen the core and maintain good mobility to combat the issues related with sitting down studying for hours each day.
As we know from research that has been well documented, exercise is a big stress reliever. Exercise causes an activation of the immune system. Cortisol and adrenaline stress hormones are released through psychological stress. Exercise reduces these stress hormones by stimulating production of endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that elevate moods and are natural painkillers.
And aerobic exercise will positively change your physiology and moods. It counters depression and stress through these chemical releases of good feel hormones. PLUS, exercise will increase stamina, shrink your waistline and as a result, you’ll feel better about yourself.
It’s not just the gym where you can only experience these ‘happy’ hormones. Take a walk, run or bike ride out in the fresh air and soak up the additional advantages of vitamin D which help regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. Vitamin D keeps your bones, muscles and teeth healthy.
Mental stress can produce physical symptoms. When the body is stressed, muscles are tense and this can result in headaches, back and neck pain. It can also produce symptoms such as a dry mouth and the feeling of a lump in the throat. Intestinal issues can occur from stomach cramps, anxiety, chest tightness, hyperventilating, fainting, heartburn, overeating and diarrhoea (just to name a few).
Due to this excessive release of stress hormones in the body, people can suffer from insomnia, gain weight and have memory impairment. Not great for revising.
So the answer is moderate exercise and healthy eating. It will keep you fresh, improve your mood and help you to be more productive when revising and studying. And you’ll always bring a smile to the gym, just like Cecilia.
Cecilia has now moved to the ‘big smoke’ (London) to begin her new job. She is committed to keep active as her life is about to get even busier.
As we change our life routines, certain levels of stress occur and we find ourselves unable to exercise at the gym. However, there is a solution. You don’t need to go to the gym. You can use your legs and walk, cycle to work or go for a jog. It doesn’t have to be hard or even long. Just moving is a great coping mechanism when you have big life changes.
And eating a healthy diet of natural fats, protein and limiting carbohydrate / sugar intake will help you to sleep better, produce growth hormone and increasing your energy levels.
Cecilia is continuing to work on her ‘down time’ by exercising as she settles into her new life.
Well done Cecilia. Wishing you the very best for your future and keep on smiling.
2ND TIME WINNER OF CLIENT OF THE MONTH.
Imogen has added an incredible 9kgs of lean tissue in 30 months. Her body fat has remained constant around 20-23% and weight has increased from 49kgs to 58kgs since 2017.
In addition to this gain in extra lean muscle, there has been an increase in the deadlift from 40kgs to 75kgs (4×8 reps) plus squats, bench press, bench pulls and push press have all improved . Further increases are expected. The increased muscle mass has reflected the increase in strength.
As a vegan, it is extremely tricky to ensure Imogen manages the macronutrients that are supplying the body a the micronutrients needed to continue the gains. Through eating a varied organic healthy diet and supplementing the food with amino acids, minerals and vitamins, a balance is being achieved.
SUPPLEMENTATION FOR VEGANS TO CONSIDER
Supplementation of Vitamin B12 found in meat, dairy products, fish and eggs is obviously off the menu. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and essential for developing red blood cells and maintaining nerves and normal brain function.
Carnosine is a powerful anti-oxidant found in the brain and the muscles. Carnosine is only found in meat products such as beef, pork, fish and to a lesser degree, poultry. It has been linked to improved athletic performance and reduced muscle fatigue.
In addition, there is evidence to suggest that carnosine repairs the telomeres of DNA and is linked to fighting age-related diseases. It is a dipeptide molecule made up of beta-alanine and histidine amino-acids.
Vitamin D3 deficiency is linked to an increase in osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, impaired brain function and reduced strength caused by muscle wasting. There are two types of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) found in plants and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) found in animal-based foods.
So for vegans, supplementation of D3 is vital for good-health. Imogen also ensures that she is out and about in the sunshine (mainly hiking) to ensure she can absorbed as much as possible from the sun.
Docosahexaenoic (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Required for good mental health and brain function. It is mainly found in fatty fish and certain types of micro algae. Therefore, vegans are at risk of deficiency.
DHA can be made from alpha-linolenic (ALA) which is found in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts but conversion is inefficient.
Heme Iron is a type of iron only found in meat, especially red meat. It is much better absorbed than non heme iron found in plants. For this reason, many vegans are anaemic unless they supplement their diet.
Taurine is a sulphur compound found mainly in brain, heart and kidneys and other bodily tissues. It appears to play a part in muscle function, bile salt formation and the body’s anti-oxidant defences. Found in fish, meat, dairy, poultry and dairy products, synthetic supplementation of Taurine is essential to a vegan even though the body does make it in small amounts.
Creatine supplementation is something we will be looking in the near future as the molecule is only found in meat products.
Imogen is currently lifting twice a week and training 4 days of cardio, mixing up the intensities. After the Alaska trip which Imogen is currently enjoying, the programme will change to accommodate another lifting session at the expense of a cardio workout to maximise potential.
Watch this space as Imogen continues to improve.
FROM 24 WORKOUTS IN 24 WEEKS TO 24 WORKOUTS IN 8 WEEKS
Adam is a busy man. He runs a successful business and employs many staff. He has a lovely family, 2 dogs, great neighbours and enjoys a holiday or 3 from time to time.
To fit anything extra into his life creates a big demand on time. In addition, he recently started a new business which had put further stress on his time.
Despite numerous coffee meetings around Bath, constant messages and phone calls to encourage him back into fitness, Adam was always too busy to workout.
This wasn’t the response that was needed. I had to get him back in the gym to reverse the damage that he was doing to his body.
The only way to entice Adam back into training was to offer him a fitness assessment. Adam loves targets.
Adam’s body fat percentage was much higher than normal and his lean body mass was low (muscle, bone and connective tissue). In addition, his blood pressure was elevated and had a higher than average BMI.
The assessment had worked. It shocked Adam into action.
The plan was to reduce bodyweight mass, blood pressure, body fat mass and lower BMI.
In addition, to improve VO2max, increased peak flow, lung function and lean body mass.
The timeline to achieve the goal was 12 weeks.
The sessions were rotated between strength, HIIT and endurance circuits.
There are 4 weeks left before Adam goes away on holiday. Adam has put the hours in the gym. His strength and fitness levels have increased. He has improved flexibility and mobility, greater core strength and higher energy levels.
A good improved performance.
THE FINAL HURDLE
In the last 4 weeks, the target is diet.
This is fundamental to the success of the plan. He must reduce his body fat mass and blood pressure.
Adam is embarking on a diet of fresh vegetables and lean meats for the next 4 weeks and is limiting grains and dairy in his diet.
Alcohol and caffeine is to be reduced as well.
His love for take-ways is banned in this last phase of the programme as are all cakes, crisps, sweets and processed foods.
The 80/20 plate rule is applied (not to be confused with the 80/20 diet).
In addition, his calories will be restricted to 2000 calories per day for the final month. All of these calories will come form natural food sources.
The end of the month will reveal the outcome of his 12 weeks of hard work and determination to get back into shape.
Then he can enjoy a relaxing time in the sun before we embark on a new programme on his return.
Keep up the great work Adam. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
“A goal should scare you a little, & excite you A LOT” Joe Vitale