FIVE weeks to xmas!! Panic time!

Most people have two choices this time of year, they either throw in the towel, or they go on some crazy schedule to lose as much weight as is humanely possible in the next 5 weeks to get into that special dress or suit! Neither are great examples of health being at the top of the list and here’s why;

If you say “that’s it, i’ll start back after xmas, no point going for it now”, then that’s fine, but the facts are that you are wasting 5 weeks of your life, and are going to be miserable going into christmas, and even more miserable after christmas, when not only will you be feeling rubbish, your immune system will be down due to all the bad food and likely alcohol consumption, and you will be prone to all sorts of colds and viruses. Have you ever noticed why cold and flu remedies are advertised in force after christmas? Simple advertising because statistically they know the country is in it’s worst shape in early january!

If you go on the very restrictive route, you will typically go on a very low calorie controlled diet. If you go under 1200 calories per day diet, you are classed as being malnourished, if you go into any doctor’s surgery or hospital and ask if that is true, you will find it is.

The best way to go about any eating reduction is to bring it down gradually, 250-500 calories per day being the maximum amount. This has been proven to have a longer lasting effect on weight loss, and it will be better for your sanity too! The best way to do this is, like i always suggest, to “clean up” your eating habits and shopping lists.

Doesn’t it make common sense to use lean white meats, fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables as the foundation for good health, instead of worrying about every single last calorie you are consuming? This way, food doesn’t become your only thought all day, and you are able to relax more and get on with the more important things in life.

Doesn’t it make sense to eat these good foods to look after your insides, and protect yourself more against serious disease? It must be common sense to eat well, drink more water, workout more and get some fresh oxygen into your system every day? You will find your body will react by getting into great shape, and truly being energised by the good care you are taking of your body! Keep your portions small, measure your carb and protein portions by the size of your fist, pile on the veg, snack on fruit and nuts and your skin will look amazing too, it really is the way to go and there’s no other way around it.

The quick fixes of this world will encourage you to go on calorie reduced diets of sometimes 3 digits, they are a sure-fire way to fail, and the weight always comes back on, plus 5% on average according to studies.

Members of this blog have posted privately and publicly about how, after a while, your body rejects the sugary/fatty food, because your taste buds will have changed for the better, and those high calorie snacks will taste “sickly” to you now. It’s a process that’s tough for the first couple of weeks, but once you have gone through it, you will appreciate how good it feels to feel energetic, and how it feels for your body to be getting tighter and leaner.

Summing up, if you take a longer term approach based on science and common sense, it may take longer to get there but you won’t have so many of those roadblocks in the road to come, there will be no more yo-yo dieting, and you will be sure your insides will be firing as well as possible. Don’t become obsessed with weight, look at the overall picture and aim to get that waist down to under half your height in inches, that will be a far more realistic measurement of progress and overall health.


How much should i lose?

Regular poster on here Cyril has asked some very important questions this week, and i think everyone needs to know the answers.

He asks “how much should i lose in the programmes posted here”?

The answer would be that the best way to think about it is in times of inches and body fat. We all have become slaves to the scales over the years, judging our success by a few pounds lost here and there, and when we put a few on, we shoot ourselves in the foot by “stress eating” again. It’s always better to look at your weight maybe once a week, or even once a month.

Once a month i measure clients and if you’re doing this at home, measure key things like your waist, or even better get someone to do it for you. Measure your waist and here’s a good test. If your waist is less than half your height in inches, then you are fit and healthy and likely to avoid serious disease, or at least improve your chances significantly!

For example, if Cyril was 5 ft 10 inches, that would be 70 inches. If his waist was 40 inches, he clearly needs to bring that down under 35 inches to really be close to his better health. If you were 5ft 4 inches, that would be 64 inches, so you would need to be 32 inch waist or below to be really healthy.

This is a simple guide to being healthy and takes all of 2 minutes, if that! Try this test and let me know how you get on. Waist to height ratio has a direct relationship to heart health so this is pretty important you check on this regular.

Plus this won’t play games with your mind! As long as your waist is coming down to the healthy range, then you are making good progress. Chances are too that your weight will eventually come down in relative terms! And you will feel MUCH, MUCH better!

The other question i was asked was about lack of motivation this time of year. The days are short, we are having an unbelievable amount of rain, wind and cold and it’s not even proper winter yet!!!

I would go back to one of my first posts under motivation. The DRIVING FORCE post was pretty powerful i think, and it will remind you of what you really want in life, what makes you do things and i will tell you one big thing i tell all my clients, this time of year IS THE TRUE SECRET of getting in shape. While others are giving up and saying “what’s the point”, here’s the time to absolutely put 200% effort in and really raise your standards!!

Another plus is that you won’t have the post christmas blues of ill health and being so overweight, you will have had a great run in to christmas and really be proud of yourself that for the first time in a long time, you managed to stick to something really worthwhile and you will reap the benefits before and after christmas, TRUST ME!!

Another SECRET for you, motivation doesn’t last!!! Strong structures do and that’s what i am encouraging. Nobody gets out of bed every day feeling amazing, but if you eat healthily, cut out the rubbish, don’t drink alcohol in the week, get to bed early, workout 4-5 times per week, the chances of you feeling amazing are SIGNIFICANTLY better!!

So in summing up, don’t see this time of year as a barrier, see it as another challenge that when you overcome it, YOU WILL GET HUGE AMOUNTS OF SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-CONFIDENCE!! Please, please, please, try it out and let me know every day, every week until Christmas (5 weeks friday) how you get on, are you ready for this challenge and ready to change your life for good?!!!!


My kids programme research

As you may know, i have run successful programmes for kids for many years, and you may be interested to read some research i have done over the years that may surprise you.


 Reasons for kids becoming unhealthy

The biggest influences of a child’s eating habits are

Behavioural factors-Time and convenience, meal patterns and dieting

Family (income, working status of mother, family eating patterns, parental weight, diet and knowledge)

Friends (conformity, norms and peer networks)

Schools (school meals, sponsorship, vending machines)

Commercial sites (fast food restaurants, stores)

Consumerism (youth market and pester power)


80% of parents in many surveys say they have the greatest responsibility for their child’s health, schools come out 52%, food manufacturers 43%, government 33% and media 32%. Parents admit they are the group that could do most about their child’s eating. Parents tend to make only reactive efforts and don’t make any long term changes, more token gestures.


Teachers do make some effort in trying to educate children about eating healthily, although there is little or no supervision on what children actually eat at lunch and break times. Most schools give the kids what they want, burgers, chips, pizza, cake etc and plenty of vending machines. Finance seems to be the barrier to schools providing better nutrition too.

Got more stuff on advertising of junk foods but you may be bored by all that!

More facts about kids in this country

Uk eats more than 15% more ready meals than the rest of Europe, double the amount of france and 6 times as many as spain, 80% of households have microwave in uk compared to 27% in Italy for example.

Many mother’s have more cash available now and rely on readily available foods that are quick to cook but have lots of sugar, salt and bad fats. Many mothers are also working or claim not to have time leaving kids with money to make or buy their own snacks, who then tend to make bad choices.

Since many parents see breakfast and lunch boxes a hassle, the media is targeting the parents by advertising quick options instead, again usually full of fat and sugar.

It’s a fact that the more you don’t cook yourself as a parent, the more you rely on poor nutritional choices and you lose track of what you’re really eating in terms of fat, sugar and salt.

Fruit and veg don’t usually go with fatty/sugary foods, so your chances of getting kids to eat fruit and veg are cut that much more again.

The facts are that children are getting more of a choice in which foods they have, and often make lousy choices!

Most children don’t eat anywhere near enough fruit and veg, well below in fact and is usually up to a third less than 30 years ago.

Most children know that fruit and veg does them good and do not know seem to realise that being fat is not good to them, they avoid being fat simply because the opposite sex won’t find them attractive, the link to health doesn’t seem to enter their mind!

Sweets, fast food, sugary snacks, sugary breakfast cereal, crisps and sugary drinks are now the REAL staple foods of kids these days!

The kids with the least money and their families usually have the poorest diets.


I have numerous examples of kids who worry deeply about the way they look, even if they look very fit and healthy, they can often have 95% compliments or more, but maybe the odd insult will often stick that much more and really hurt them so much that they don’t even notice the good stuff said about them. They often admire the very skinny look that is so common  with pop stars and actors/actresses, but when you talk it out with them, they will often admire more curvy and fuller figure stars but are afraid to go against the grain. It’s important to talk it out with the child and really listen to them about their fears and worries about themselves. It often takes constant reassurances to get the message over. A good way sometimes is to get the child to make a list of good and bad comments they have had over the week, and then they can see for themselves that life is really not so bad, in fact it’s often very good! Most kids are told or heavily influenced in the way they think by their friends and the media. Encouraging individual thinking is vital.

Kids have pressure to dress the same way, eat the same way, dye their hair the same way, have their ears pierced, like the same music, have same clothing styles, to hang around in the same company and friends, to constantly change their look and cut their hair the same way.

Its a fact that most kids are teased in school if they eat healthily. A good start can be at home and actually make your child feel special for eating good foods, give them plenty of encouragement. A good way of doing this is using role models, using Ronaldo, wayne rooney, actors, pop stars like beyonce knowles etc and telling your kids that these people rely very heavily on a good diet, and then give examples of someone overweight, spotty etc as someone who eats badly!

Tell your kids who are sports that they will become stronger, run faster, jump higher and have strong muscles and bones if they eat well, as well as good skin and have a good looking body for life if they make the effort now.

It’s impossible to make kids eat right all the time, encourage the odd sugary snack from time to time, and if they have a party for instance, encourage them to eat badly, the usual response from a child is to turn the “bad” food down, because it’s all about rebellion at that age and they sometimes do the opposite of what you say.

Many kids who have a “too healthy” lunch box are sometimes bullied or called posh, the fast food option is often seen as cool. A tactic sometimes is to get together with some of the other parents in the class and make a healthier lunch box the cool way to go. It doesn’t matter whats cool in the rest of the country, a classroom can be cool all on its own with the parents help.

When you make the lunchbox for the child, experiment by making it a bit more exciting! First of all, try picking a cool looking lunch box, there are many around and there’s nothing worse than a bland lunch box, hows that going to inspire a kid to at properly. Studies have shown that 8-10 year olds prefer lunch boxes while 11-12 year olds prefer brown paper bags.

How about using a cold pack or small cooler box for the food. Nothing worse than having soggy, warm food lunch time. Also try keeping lean white meats in the fridge in good supply, as well as low-fat yoghurts and fruit juices.

Pack in some favourite foods from time to time. Nothing wrong with a small slice of pizza, some pasta or wedges now and again. The key guide to doing it healthily is portion size, by keeping them relatively small, you will reduce the calories while still satisfying their sweet tooth.

Celebrate special occasions such as valentine days, the Chinese new year, Indian special days with putting appropriate foods in the lunch box. Variety is the spice of life and keeping it fresh and exciting only takes a couple of minutes longer the night before and a bit of forward planning with your supermarket shopping list.

Use dips and sauces in your lunch box, kids love using dips because it can bring vegetables to life for them. Believe it or not, vegetables are only second to chicken nuggets when it comes to kids favourite dips. Also popular are low-faqt dressings and low fat sauces.

Kids like foods that are fun and tasty so let’s make the effort!

Some suggestions from parents i’ve seen are

“in our home, we like to encourage our kids to decorate their own pizzas with different vegetables, making faces or whatever with peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives and tomatoes. It has changed our kids perceptions of pizzas”

“i encourage my kids to buy a different food every time we shop, like mangoes or pineapple, a new type of bread with different grains, all of it is healthy so they are keen on trying it out when we get home!”

“we have special theme nights, like Japanese night, Chinese night, Indian night, and get the healthier recipes off the internet, it creates real interest in food and different ways of cooking healthy food that my kids say is incredibly tasty”

“ i make baked potatoes and let the kids create a potato bar. I can get healthy toppings such as low-fat cheese, shredded cheese, salsa and some thin broccoli pieces. Kids seem to love the idea of making their own special potatoes they don’t get anywhere else”

“every april, we plant different fruit and veg with the kids in the garden. When they ripen, the kids take pride in their efforts and love to taste all of their good work!”


 “Try a different fruit in the box/bag every day for a month, make it a mystery what you’re putting in so its different every day, and try to be really imaginative every day, Monday to Friday”.

 Most lunch boxes become tiresome and tedious, as a parent you have the chance to make a real difference in your childs life! Many studies have shown that early intervention in your childs eating has very long term effects in terms of reducing body fat throughout the child’s school life, versus the children in studies who experienced no nutritional intervention.

Some good stuff there i think you’ll agree and sums up how big the problem is right now!


Count on yourself!!

In recessionary times, there are lots of things that you’re not going to be sure of. Have you got enough money, will your job last, will you have enough money for christmas, will you get that loan or mortgage, will i sell my house for what i really want, are our energy bills going to go up again, what about council tax etc etc!!

These are all worries we all face day to day, and especially coming up to the festive  season. All or many of these things are sometimes out of our control, but there is one very important thing that we CAN control, and that’s what we do with our bodies which has a direct relationship with our mind.

Scientific studies show that happiness is directly related to the control we feel we have over our lives. The bottom line is that most people i’ve ever seen get on some kind of sound fitness plan, backed up by a sound eating plan, have directly improved their quality of life. When you are fitter you ARE directly taking control of your life, you are overcoming challenges and increasing your self-esteem, you are setting yourself up to be in far better shape to handle life’s never ending challenges.

If stress comes (and it always does), you handle it better when your heart is in good shape, you can deal with it and seek instant solutions when possible. When you are feeling strong, you not only will help yourself, but feel inclined to help others and take some leadership.

If you’re on a good fitness plan right now, you should be very capable of dealing with problems and giving yourself the best chance to succeed. If you think before you make any decision, base your choice on what will give you the best chance of success.

So with all the uncertainty out there, you can surely count on yourself to do the right thing and give yourself and family a great chance of being successful. If you workout most days, eat well, and are positive in attitude, i know you will be highly attractive to an employer. If you smoke, drink, don’t exercise and takes lots of sick leave, then the chances are not so good? Common sense there i think.

Whatever programme you’re on, good luck on it, and any questions you have, send them in! If you don’t want to do that, there’s quite a lot of information on here already for you to browse to help you. This blog has barely been up a couple of weeks but by year end, there should be over 100 articles/resources at your disposal!

Stay healthy,


What time is “church”?

Some of you may be religious on here, some may hate religion and blame every war on it in the world today! Whatever your persuasion, here’s a good way to get your own brand of exercise religion into your life.

We have been over excuses before and how they disrupt your efforts to get into shape, or even start at all!!! Here’s a nice new tactic to make sure your plans are not thrown off course, and actually you start making some appointments with yourself!

A client of mine is quite religious and would never miss a workout with me, but would often miss my prescribed workouts. This was hurting his progress and although we would have fantastic workouts together, his fitness was not gettting to the level he wanted. I asked him one day what was the most important appointment he kept in his life, he said that’s easy “it was church”!

I then asked him if he treated his own workouts like his church appointments, what would happen? He replied that he would be in amazing shape! He then looked at me with those light bulb moments and discovered that he had been neglecting to spend time for himself, and soon promised to set up these “church” meetings in the week as well, and experienced more progress in the next 8 weeks, than he had in the previous 5 months!

Making time for yourself in often difficult, but what happens if you schedule it into your diary, like a dental appointment or a solicitor’s appointment? You wouldn’t miss those so pencil it in your diary now, there’s really no excuse for missing workouts, it may be getting up 30 minutes ealier, getting to bed earlier, missing a bit more television, or simply organising your time better!

Making time so you can have a healthier, higher quality of life can only take 30 minutes or less, make that promise to yourself that you are finally going to “do it” this time and nothing’s going to come in between your workout, no matter what!

Make sure you visit your own “church” this week, a few times!!