week 20 : what have I been learning about this week? Plus the trials and tribulations of a Personal Trainer/Entrepreneur in training

Here goes… week 20 began with more group training sessions last Sunday followed by a lovely day out at Malton Food Festival with my sister. It was the second year which I have been and it is a great way to spend a few hours, especially seeing as though the weather was so brilliant still last weekend. We sampled quite a lot of different offerings, from cheese to chutney, from brownies to ciders. It is made up of lots of different local sellers, food trucks and a large drinks tent. There are also demonstrations and talks on over the course of the weekend.

Malton Food Lovers festival 2017

For lunch we had a mexican tortilla bowl with pulled pork and chicken, it was delicious. Then of course we had to make a visit to Groovy Moos for an ice cream! This is simply the best ice cream which you will taste, and i should know as somewhat of an ice cream connoisseur. I had to use the opportunity to try out a couple of new flavours, rhubarb and custard as well as coconut and white chocolate. Beautifully indulgent!

Groovy Moos ice cream Malton

Bank holiday Monday was just a usual day for me, full of clients at the gym, although it was an earlier finish which meant that Laura could come over for tea and to discuss holiday plans! We were hoping to be able  to get away this week for a last minute sunshine break, but unfortunately couldn’t find anything. It is only 8 weeks until August when we are hoping to get something booked for Croatia and Montenegro. Has anyone been? If so, any recommendations?

After a few cancellations last week, this week has been the complete  opposite! Not one person has text to rearrange or postpone, which has meant another crazy week for me! The past couple of weeks I have blocked out Wednesday evenings from the gym. I was finding that after Monday and Tuesday, i was snowballing into the weekend without any time to get on with client plans, and business in general. Just by taking this evening away from the gym, I am able to set up at the laptop and just get on a roll and get stuff done! It has certainly helped not only my organisation, planning and business, but also my mind by giving me that mental break.

Speaking of business, I was able to speak to somebody who is much cleverer and more experienced than me in regards to my Youtube channel. It is something which I have been working on for a while but growth has been slow, and if I have struggled to get to grips with some parts of it. It was so kind of this person to give up their time in order to help me on some things and I now feel much better about certain things and how to create better videos in the future which people will find more enjoyable and useful (fingers crossed anyways!) Speaking of which, I vlogged the whole weekend last weekend and would love you to head on over to my Youtube channel and check out the full video! Link here. Any comments, i would love to hear from you!

I was writing a Facebook post about reasons why I became a Personal Trainer, and it ended up turning into a full blog post which  I published. Check it out here. 

abi durrant fitness

I have had some really good training sessions this week, whether it is the realisation that it is only 8 weeks until I put on a bikini or whether I have found some internal motivation from somewhere else, I don’t know but I am not complaining! I also found a photo on my phone from July 2015, this is the look which I am going to try and reach once again this year….well we shall see! Diet wise, it has been a bit up and down, a mini binge episode on Tuesday evening followed by 4 pretty good days. I know what I need to do, just sometimes the ice cream and chocolate scream at me from behind their respective doors. If this is something which you suffer from, I have a video on my top tips for getting over a binge here. 

Right, what have been learning in week 20?

28th: Peas are actually a fruit as they grow from a seed and picked above ground.

29th: A captain can deliver a baby or marry people.

30th: A group of parrots is called a Pandemonium.

31st: By the end of this century, 70% of all known cold water corals in the entire ocean will be surrounded by sea water which is so acidic that it will be dissolving their coral structure.

June 1st: Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the Danube river with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank in 1873.

2nd: Today was National Fish and Chip Day. There are around 10,500 fish and chips shops in the UK. Ninety years ago there were 35,000.

3rd: The Champions League was introduced in 1992 and replaced the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, or simply European Cup. The pre-1992 competition was initially a straight knockout tournament open only to the champion club of each country

I can’t believe we are up to week 20 already, I have just updated my photo a day for the year and that is now over 100! Crazy!

Love Abi xxxx

 

What are the benefits of Bodyweight Training?

You always hear me harping on about how good weight and resistance training is and why in my opinion everybody should be performing some variation on a weekly basis. However, I realise that access to a gym isn’t available to everybody and therefore they need to be able to put together workout routines which they can do at home or outside. This is where bodyweight training can come in handy.

bodyweight training

Bodyweight training does have its limitations, but there are also a lot of benefits!

#1 It can be done anywhere
You don’t need a fancy gym set up or any weights to do a bodyweight circuit. I especially like to do them whilst I am on holiday! If you are just getting into fitness and are intimidated by the gym setup, it can be a great starting point.

#2 It can be challenging for any fitness level
You can tailor workouts to suit anybody. From the absolute beginner right up to the super advanced, there is a way of putting together an effective workout routine.

#3 It’s free
You own your body, no need for a gym membership.

bodyweight training - the benefits

#4 It can vary up monotonous gym sessions
No gym session should be monotonous or boring, however if you are in a bit of a rut, throw in a 20 minute bodyweight circuit and reignite that fire!

#5 Certain bodyweight exercises will target multiple muscles at once
Bodyweight exercises force you to use your core for stability as you work out instead of relying on outside support such as machines and benches.

#6 Bodyweight exercises can combine both cardio and strength training
Think about how much your heart rate increases when you perform a simple burpee? This type of exercise can therefore be a more efficient way to workout.

HOWEVER, there are a few limitations.

> There are only so many reps of burpees and bodyweight squats you can do and in order to see results you need to be progressing over time, i.e. making things harder.

> Plyometrics are not for everyone. They are very high impact and the force through some peoples joints is just too much and will cause injuries.

> Not everyone has a safe place or area to work out at home. Plus, training outside in the winter isn’t the most fun…unless you live in LA.

> It can be hard to motivate yourself.

Here are a couple of routines from an upcoming project (wink wink) which I am working on for you to have a go at…

bodyweight training workout

bodyweight training workout

Give these a try and send me a snapshot!

Love Abi xxxx

Do I need to cut out dairy?

Do I need to cut out gluten?

Do I need to cut out chocolate?

Do I need to cut out alcohol?

Do I need to cut out fizzy drinks?

Do I need to cut out carbs?

Do I need to cut out X/Y/Z?

I must have been asked this question or similar 100s of times, and the simple but annoying answer is….it depends.

No food should be classed as bad for us, just the same as there are no super foods. Obviously some foods are better for us than others, but no way should we be labelling foods good or bad, it just creates the wrong mindset when it comes to eating and life.

There was a certain amount of uproar a few weeks ago when the programme regarding ‘clean eating’ was aired on TV. I thought the presenter did a brilliant job of putting across the facts and thus enabling the viewer to make his or her own opinion.

‘You do not need to eat clean in order to be healthy or reach your goals, whatever they may be.’

One of my favourite quotes regarding the clean eating debate is from Alan Aragon, one of the most well respected nutrition researchers in the world; “if you are defining foods as clean and dirty, then celery would of course be classed as good and ice cream would be classed as bad. However if you were on a dessert island and could only survive by eating only one of these foods, which one would you choose?” (sic)

It depends.

Context is key to any of the questions above.

 

Gluten and Dairy
If you are intolerant to dairy or gluten, then yes you should go a period with cutting it out of your diet completely and see if this improves your health. Dairy, gluten and sugar are not the killer foods which the media likes to label them. On their own, they are not the reason for the obesity epidemic which is sweeping the world.

“A recently published study in the journal Digestion found that 86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it. Individuals with celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune condition that affects roughly 1 percent of the population, must avoid gluten.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26043918

Swapping regular bread or pasta for gluten free is also expensive if you don’t need to do so! I see people choosing things like ‘gluten free cake’ as they think it is healthier than regular cake….it definitely isn’t. Therefore if you don’t have an intolerance, and you like the taste of a glass of milk, or a slice of toast then continue have it!

ryan reynolds gluten quote

Chocolate and treats
If your goal is fat loss, then yes there is the possibility that you will need to cut down on your chocolate consumption or similar palatable tasty foods (!) Chocolate is a calorie dense food, therefore if you are trying to sustain a calorie deficit, which is the most important thing for fat loss; you want to be sticking to nutrient dense and low calorie foods to fill you up as well as hit your nutritional targets. BUT that does not mean you need to cut it out completely. If a square of chocolate is going to keep you sane at the end of the day; on track with the rest of your diet and able to sustain a calorie deficit by including some, then go for it. I know I include some every single day.

Morrisons Slted Butterscotch Milk Chocolate

Alcohol and fizzy drinks
Similar to above, if your goal is fat loss then yes the chances are that you will have to cut down on your alcohol consumption if you want to reach your goals quicker. People don’t realise the amount of calories in alcohol, it all still counts. I just had a client text me yesterday shocked at the amount of calories in vodka as she was planning a night out! This does not mean that you need to become a hermit and stop drinking altogether, it just means you need to become a bit more aware of what you are consuming and fit it into your life and diet accordingly.

A couple of drinks a week is not going to kill you or completely derail your progress. But a bottle of wine a night, or a big binge on a weekend (plus the kebab on the way home) will put a halt to any fat loss goals.

Check out my blog post on best alcohol options if you are going out.

Fizzy drinks; this is a controversial one. I think Scott Baptie has written the best blog post which I have seen on the topic so head on over to his site if you want to read more.

Non diet fizzy drinks such as regular Coke, Sprite or even Lucazade should be avoided if fat loss is your goal. There is absolutely no need to be taking in that amount of calories from a drink, especially when there are zero calorie alternatives available. The number of people I see in the gym drinking a bottle of lucazade, which probably contains more calories than they are even likely to burn off during that session, is way too high. Key here is to realise and take notice of what you are putting into your body.

That said, I don’t think that having a Diet Coke, or any other zero calorie drink every now and then will do you any harm. Yes there have been some studies published to show that artificial sweeteners may in fact be detrimental to our health, however this is not substantial and as yet there is not enough data to fully support these claims.

Get into the habit of drinking water when you can, but if having a diet coke is going to suppress your appetite and stop you over consuming calories, then I cannot see it being a problem.

Carbs and Fat
Your diet is made up from the main three macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat.

‘Macro’ = you need them in larger amounts.

Hopefully you can see the problem if you are thinking about cutting a whole macronutrient out of your diet? This is completely the wrong thing to do. It seems that Fats and Carbs interchange roles as the ‘baddy’ in the media, but the simple truth is that you require both in certain amounts in order for your body to function optimally. You need carbs for energy (amongst other things), you need fats for brain function, and to regulate your hormones (amongst other things!), therefore cutting them out entirely will have a huge effect on your well being.

Both need to be eaten in accordance to your personal goals.

I hope from reading this blog post you can see why my answer to all of the questions at the beginning will be ‘it depends.’ It really does come down to context.

There is no ultimate fat loss diet. The optimal diet is the one which you enjoy and can stick to for a period of time.

You do not need to cut anything out.

There are no good or bad foods.

I know how confusing nutrition can be, there are so many conflicting things published or spoken about every day. I want to banish these theories for good and bring it back to the basics and make it simpler for you to understand and implement yourself.

Don’t get caught up in fad diets or the latest craze.

Think about things sensibly. Do your own research. I actively encourage you to go away and read up on anything which I have said and form your own opinion!

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Love Abi xxxx

The health and fitness industry is full of so many contradictions and unnecessary nonsense that it can be so hard to know what to believe and what not to believe, especially when it comes down to nutrition.

Not a day goes by when the Daily Mail doesn’t publish an article on ‘The latest superfood’, or ‘Which foods will give you cancer/live longer/be happier/lose weight faster/etc etc.’ The latest tabloid magazines print a different diet every week to follow. Celebs on social media push products which they have been paid to promote, which quite frankly are usually a bag of doodoo.

There is no wonder you are confused. So here I am just going to bust just 5 nutrition myths which I have heard countless times and want to put a stop to!!

#1 Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
No it isn’t. If you don’t like breakfast or cant eat first thing in the morning, then don’t force yourself to eat it. Overall calories are king, do what works for you.

#2 Eating clean is the only way to lose fat.
No it isn’t. Firstly, there is no such thing as clean and dirty foods. Secondly, you can still overeat ‘clean foods,’ especially the higher fat ones such as avocados and nuts. Yes, what we deem to be ‘clean’ foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, fruits etc are much higher in nutrient value and therefore are going to be better for us. But overall calories are of most importance when trying to lose fat, so you know that clean healthy protein bar which contains over 300 calories, swap it out for a protein shake and a bar of Dairy Milk and be happier.

#3 Carbs are the forbidden fruit.
No they aren’t. We need carbohydrates to function, they are our brains main source of energy. So don’t automatically cut out ALL rice, potatoes, bread, pasta etc, eat them mindfully and in accordance with your goals.

#4 You have to avoid sugar.
No you don’t. It would be near on impossible to cut out all sugar from your diet. When I hear people saying they have cut out sugar from their diet yet are still consuming huge fruit smoothies every day, or even eating vegetables, then I shake my head a little inside. Sugar is not the devil, and it is not the reason you are putting on fat. It usually comes down to the combination of sugar and fat in the highly palatable foods such as brownies, cookies, doughnuts etc. So don’t cut out sugar thinking it will work, it wont, you will just end up moody and grumpy.

#5 You need to eat little and often.
No you don’t. I feel like i am a broken record, but once again overall calories are king. If you prefer smaller more often meals then great, go for it, but if you prefer larger meals with no snacks, then great go for it. Diet is all about personal preference so find what works for you and your life and you are more likely to stick to it!

Hopefully this brief little article will have cleared up any confusion which you may have had but any questions then please let me know and I will do my best to answer them!

Love Abi xxx

What to do when your fat loss has hit a plateau?

Weight loss or gain, comes down to the simple equation of energy in vs energy out.

If you are wanting to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit.
Calories in < Calories out

Same as those wanting to increase weight should be in a calorie surplus.
Calories in > Calories out.

How we think fat loss should happen

If your desired fat loss has hit a bit of a plateau; by this I mean that you haven’t seen any progress for 7-10days; then it may be necessary to change things up a little bit, increasing your calorie deficit to kickstart any changes once again. BUT don’t be too hasty and implement different methods all at one go. Fat loss isn’t one steady line on a chart, it has its ups and downs so you want to think of these methods as tools within your own personalised tool box, using each one only as and when necessary to get the best results. None of them are superior to the other, it is whatever works for you. Some people may prefer increasing their exercise rather than eating less, others may just need to walk that extra 5000 steps per day in order to see a bit of a change. Health and Fitness is personal to you, the main factor in your success will be ADHERENCE; can you stick consistently to a plan for any period of time.

(Please note how I have used the term ‘fat loss plateau’. You shouldn’t be 100% focused on the results on the scale, read my blog post here on why not!

There are 3 key ways in which you can increase your caloric deficit:

1)Increase NEAT activity
2)Eat Less Calories
3)Move More

stairwell-clipart-l_152Increase your NEAT activity.

NEAT stands for ‘Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’; basically everything you do during the day which is not targeted exercise. This could be walking up stairs, hoovering, mowing the lawn, fidgeting etc, all of these activities still burn calories as they require some form of energy to carry out. Research has suggested that one simple way to increase your calorie expenditure is to increase your NEAT on a daily basis. For active individuals it can account for up to 50% of daily calorie expenditure but for the more sedentary it can be as low as 15%. If you are one of those at the lower end then there is plenty of room for improvement!

This could be as simple as tracking your step count and aiming for a certain number per day, I find this especially useful for people who have a desk job and spend most of the day sitting down. You can get one of the activity trackers such as a Fitbit or a Polar watch to do this, but now most phones have a step count on them so just use that as a guideline.

  • Park your car further away from work than normal so you have to walk that extra bit further each day. Better still, if your journey is less than 10 minutes walk the whole way.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or lift
  • Clean your house more often!
  • If you are feeling peckish on an evening and usually turn to the kitchen cupboards, make the point of putting on your trainers and going outside for a 20minute walk around the block. chances are you will feel better and your cravings will subside by the time you get back. Even better would be to plug a podcast or audio book in and learn/zone out whilst you do so.
  • I have said in the past about having a big bottle of water on your desk to increase your h2o consumption, but if you are very sedentary make the point of only having a small glass so that you need to get up and down multiple times per day to refill it.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour and get up and stretch your legs for a few minutes.
  • Instead of having lunch at your desk and browsing facebook, get up and outside.
  • Fidget more!

These may all seem like really simple suggestions but it will be amazing how they add up throughout the day and then throughout the week, before you know it you will be burning 100s more calories without even realising it.

knifeEat Less Calories

I preach that everything you do should be sustainable and enjoyable, you shouldn’t have to cut out everything which you love; but sometimes small sacrifices do have to be made in order to see results and make progress.

One way of increasing your calorie deficit is to decrease the amount of calories you are consuming from food. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to decrease the amount of food which you are eating, it is all about being savvy with your choices. Try and choose more voluminous food rather than calorie dense items. One of the best ways to do this is increasing the amount of vegetables and salad which you are eating. There is nothing worse than finishing a meal and still not feeling full. I absolutely hate it, especially if you are hungry and have been looking forward to a meal all day. My favourite voluminous foods include lettuce, courgette, spinach and cucumber. All of these foods are low in calories (but also high in nutrients and vitamins!) and they will fill you up. So start replacing some of the more calorie dense foods in your meals and bulk them out with foods that I have mentioned! If you like pasta, half the quantity you are having and add in some courgetti; if you like rice, half the quantity and use cauliflower rice to make up the rest. Add lettuce and spinach to everything!!!

Untitled design-23.jpg

Just a small sample of some of the delicious meals which my clients are enjoying on a daily basis! As you can see they are certainly not just eating chicken and broccoli everyday!

Trying to reduce the amount of calories you are eating also doesn’t mean that you have to start tracking everything you eat and counting every calorie which enters your mouth, there are other ways of monitoring it. It could be as simple as halving your usual portion of rice at dinner (as mentioned above!); skipping dessert; swapping your mid morning chocolate bar to some carrot sticks; halting the amount of sugar in your tea or avoiding it altogether; stopping grazing whilst you are cooking; stop picking at the leftovers on your children’s plates. All these little habits will add up over the course of the week and it may be one of the reasons why you aren’t seeing progress as quickly as you expect.

If you have tried both of the above and nothing is happening still, then it may be time to start tracking what you are eating accurately. As humans we have a tendency to underestimate the amount which we are putting into our mouths, just look at the programme ‘Secret Eaters’. We sometimes get so into the habit of grabbing a biscuit, taking an extra spoonful of peanut butter or ‘just’ a handful of nuts as we pass through the kitchen, that it has just become the norm and we forget that we have done it. All these little things add up. So maybe try tracking your intake for a week or so just to see where you are at and be honest with yourself! Just being accountable in itself may make you stop having that extra spoonful of ice cream! From here you will be able to make any adjustments to your macro and calorie intake and get yourself back on track once again.

myfitnesspal-logo-transparent_tcm256-11335

This app is my choice for calorie tracking as I find it the simplest to use. BUT I only recommend using it with certain people, not everyone needs to track their calories and macros in order to get results!

If tracking calories and macros is new to you then it may be worth looking for some advice before heading into it blind. If this is you then I can help out, just drop me a message.

Knowing what to eat and eating the right thing is hard. I know. I am human too, and as most of you know enjoy ice cream and chocolate, a lot. Going to the gym and doing exercise is the easy 2-5 hours of the week, the remaining 160 odd hours you have enjoy your life is the difficult bit. But get your nutrition in check and results will come.

 

gym-512Move More

As I mentioned just above, the 2-5hours you spend in the gym each week can be the easy part of your fitness journey, but not if you are confused about what exercise you should be doing, you are haphazardly using every machine in the gym like a whirlwind, or your workouts have simply become a little bit stale. There are a few methods which I advise you take a look at in order to increase your caloric output.

No, you don’t need to be killing yourself in the gym for hours on end every day of the week, #teamnodaysoff. But, in order to see progress you need to be increasing stimulus to progress. This could mean upping the number of sessions which you are doing each week, increasing the time which you are there, or increasing the intensity of your sessions.

I love weight training, and think it should form the basis of every workout programme, however there is a place for cardio, especially if you are trying to lose fat. So cardio wise, you could hop on a piece of equipment for an extra 15minutes at the end of your lifting session and perform some steady state cardio, elevating your heart rate but keeping at a manageable level. Maybe try and add a spin class or body pump class in once a week. Try some form of HIIT training or intervals. I used to prefer HIIT rather than steady state, for the simple fact that it got it over with quicker. But choose whichever method you prefer, if you don’t mind being on the cross trainer for 20minutes whilst watching a youtube video, then go for it. If you would rather blast yourself with intervals on the rower, then go for it.

Untitled design-24

A few examples of different exercise methods to increase your caloric output (apart from the shameless selfie!) Do things which you enjoy and you are more like to stick them! 

Take a critical look at your resistance training routine and see if it is really challenging you, if not, seek advice and look to potentially change it up. If you are wanting to see some muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth basically) research strongly suggests you should be hitting body parts at least twice a week. So if you are still stuck in the same routine of Chest = Monday, Shoulders = Tuesday etc etc, it is worth looking at switching things up to maybe an upper/lower body part split, a push/pull/legs split or just a full body routine multiple times per week. It will all depend on what time you have available, plus personal preference.

Are you tracking your workouts or just going into the gym with no plan and jumping from machine to machine, trying to remember what sort of weight you lifted last time and for as many reps as it takes to feel tired/fail? There is a better way. Get a notebook and start writing things down. You need to be implementing progressive overload over time in order to see changes. This means, increasing the number or reps you are doing on a certain weight; increasing the number of sets or increasing the amount of weight lifted on a particular exercise. If you cant remember from one week to the next what you have done then you will struggle to see any sort of progress. Some sort of structure and plan to your workout will in all likeliness increase your motivation per session as you look to improve each time, this in itself will lead to better adherence and consistency. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing that they are getting stronger and improving each week? By focusing on these types of behavioural goals, chances are the outcome goals (such as fat loss) will follow suit and fall in to place also.

There are lots of ways of programming your training, there is no one correct way. Once again it is all about adherence and therefore personal preference, I could give you the most perfect programme in the world of a mix of resistance and cardio training which would see you achieving your goals, but if you don’t enjoy it or it is not attainable and will not fit into your lifestyle, then you are not going to be consistent and stick to it.

Consistency = results.

So there you have it, the three methods for breaking through a fat loss plateau. Like I mentioned at the very beginning, don’t think that you need to implement everything which I have spoken about all at once. Be selective, keep some tools back as inevitably you will hit another plateau at some time further down the line and you want to have some tools available to use.

If you have any questions regarding anything which I have spoken about then don’t hesitate to get in touch. I write these posts in order to try and be helpful and provide you with a little bit of knowledge to apply to your own lives and fitness journeys, so hopefully they are doing so. If there is anything else you would like me to write about then I am open to suggestions, chances are that if you are experiencing a problem or have a query then somebody else is also in the very same position!

Until next time. Stay sassy.

Love Abi xxx

#trainwithabs