Kindness

On a lovely dog walk with a friend recently we were talking about what I wanted to achieve with my Jumpstart programme. The overwhelming thing was kindness.

By this I don’t mean going and giving all your worldly goods to charity, or taking a steaming pot of  stew to an elderly neighbour, although those are great things to do. What I mean is kindness to yourself.

Huh?

All too often we think of everyone else’s needs before our own. Got children? You put them before you. Got a partner? Their needs are pretty high up. Friends? Yep, you’ll rush to help them out. Animals? They need to be cared for. You? Sorry, who? ME? I don’t have time to be kind to me!!

OK, let’s put this another way around: if you never make time to be kind to number one, you’ll run out of steam to help everyone else. So rather than saying “I don’t have time to be kind to me”, let’s try “how can I make time for me?” I’m thinking maybe 10 minutes. How about you grab 10 minutes before the chaos of the day and do some yoga stretches? Or take 10 minutes at lunchtime and walk around the block? Or include the family – take 10 minutes before dinner and all dance like loons around the living room.

Kindness, in this context, is about giving yourself the time to keep having the energy for everyone else.

If you’re struggling with how to find the time, or what to do to fit little bits of activity in, why not join our Community over on facebook. Lots of hints and tips on how to get a bit more active and ultimately be kind to yourself, and all while surrounded by lovely kind people.

Wine Friday issue 1 – Prosecco.

I asked a business group I’m in on Facebook whether they felt it was appropriate for someone promoting moving more and getting active to blog about wine. The answer was a resounding yes. I used to be a wine merchant, have various wine qualifications, and love a glass of good wine in the evening, so why not share the love?

So the plan is that I will talk about a wine region, a grape variety, a method of wine-making, something oenological (love that word) on the first Friday of each month. Sound good?

I thought I’d start with Prosecco. It’s just so popular at the moment, and much more affordable than many other sparkling wines. OK, so we all know it as the lovely light bubbly wine we can grab for £7 a bottle in the supermarket, but how much more is there to know?

Region: Prosecco is named after the village it originated from, and can now be produced in nine provinces in northern Italy.

Grapes: It is primarily made from the Glera grape (formerly known as Prosecco), but up to 15% of the total can come from another 8 different varietals, including Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Why isn’t it as expensive as Champagne? Well, now here’s the thing. It’s all about how it gets its bubbles. There are 2 ways of making wine fizzy – secondary fermentation (after the first fermentation which makes the wine alcoholic, a 2nd lot of yeast is added and the fermentation of this makes the bubbles – simplistic explanation, but it’ll do!) or CO2 injection (think soda stream).

The latter is only used in really cheapy wines (that’s why Lambrini girls have so much fun…), with the former being used in pretty much all sparkling wines from the most expensive Champagnes down to the cheapest of Proseccos. HOWEVER, the difference between the Champagne method (methode classique) and the Prosecco method (Charmat-Martinotti) is that in Prosecco the secondary fermentation takes place in large stainless steel tanks, and the wine is bottled already fizzy. Champagne has its secondary fermentation in the bottle, but I’m not going to elaborate on that now – Champagne will be for my December wine post!

In short, then, Prosecco manages to be lighter in taste than other sparkling wines because of the grape varieties used, lighter in age because it needs to be drunk young due to the way it’s made, and lighter in price because of the tank method of secondary fermentation.

Don’t know about anyone else, but having given this all this thought I know what I’ll be supping while I watch Strictly this weekend.

Cin cin!

 

Success stories

Being terribly British, I’m not one to sing my own praises. However, as my clients’ biggest supporter I am desperate to sing their praises and share their successes. While I may have shoved these clients in the right direction, only they have ultimately made the changes in their life. That’s pretty cool, right? I am privileged enough to be involved in big changes. Wow.

I am genuinely honoured when people choose to start their fitness journey with me. I’m touched beyond belief when someone who has always considered the exercise world to be out of their reach trusts me enough to make the little changes I suggest. I could do a happy dance every single time someone does something they had always believed was beyond their reach, something “other people” do.

Give us some examples then, Emily…

Client A – she sidled up to me at a networking event about 6 months ago and quietly said “I think I need your help”. We started working together a few weeks later, when the time was right for her. At that point she was battling various health issues and had to allow 45 minutes to walk to work partly to give her time to catch her breath, partly because her knees were so sore. After only a couple of months of us doing a 30 minute session a week and her then doing shorter sets while dinner was cooking (with an emphasis on building leg strength so her knees were supported), and with some small switches in her food, she had a medical follow up which showed she had lost 7% body fat. Wow.

Fast forward another 3 months and we ran together for the first time. I think she had expected we’d do maybe 1km, or that after a couple of minutes she’d be crawling on the floor gasping for breath. Nope. 3.5km in half an hour. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Oh, and that walk to work – now takes 7 (SEVEN) minutes.

Client B – she has always felt exercise was for those fit people. She never felt it could possibly be enjoyable. It was some sort of torture people did, and the effort of even getting to a gym or other fitness gathering point was tiring enough to mean the class she might have set out to take part in would be off the cards by the time she arrived. In an early Skype conversation she mentioned her husband has a stationary bike “he goes on there for an hour at a time, you’ll never get me on there”. I suggested it might be a good warm up. For 3 minutes, before doing some other exercises at home. Maybe while listening to a podcast.

A couple of months later, and after a pause when life, family, cake, got in the way, we got back to speaking regularly and establishing where we were with the stationary bike. 2 mins was enough, with a short at home session after it. We’re building back up. What she didn’t notice was that the other day when we spoke on Skype she answered downstairs and so had to walk up 2 flights of stairs to get to her office, where we always speak. No being out of puff; she kept chatting to me the whole way up the stairs.

Client C – she has wanted to make some changes, to get more active, to work with her body again. We started out with some at home exercises, including doing some sessions together over Skype, so she stayed accountable. Then, a couple of months ago, she decided it was time to face her fear (phobia, fear belittles it) of swimming. Working with a life coach friend, Debi, she addressed the phobia, and then she gave me the great honour of being the person she wanted in the water with her when she first took a dip.

 

I am passionate about helping people get started. I can’t put into words how amazing it feels to hear and see these wonderful women discover that actually they CAN.

It may be odd to say, but I don’t want to work with people who are already going to the gym. For me, there’s no fun in that. There are lots of people who do that. But being trusted with someone’s first foray into getting more active? For me, that’s just awesome.

Loo vs exercise!

I saw an article yesterday saying that the average Brit spends more time on the loo than they do exercising. (You can read the full article here)

OK, the headline is pretty powerful, but actually the facts are scary. Apparently the majority of us spend double the time on the loo than we do exercising.

I’m just going to give this a little consideration. Double the time on the loo than exercising.

Nope, saying it again isn’t making it any less shocking.

Right. How do we change this? Well, we start multitasking (not while on the loo – I’m not encouraging Zumba at the same time, or anything like that, don’t worry!!). We can do exercise while cooking. We can add in some activity while brushing our teeth. There are so many ways to fit more time being active into even the busiest of lives.

I am a firm believer that little changes equal big results. If I ask a client to do an hour of exercise everyday, she’ll most likely fail after a week. That’s not a harsh indictment of my clients, it’s a realistic view that someone who is currently inactive won’t do an hour a day. It’s too big. It’s daunting. It’s terrifying. It doesn’t get done. Failure occurs.

So what do my clients do? They start with what is achievable. With what will bring about success. If that’s 5 minutes a day for the first week, and it gets completed, then it’s a win. We can move onto 10 minutes in week two. 10 minutes a day, 6 days a week is suddenly an hour of exercise. For someone who was previously inactive. Awesome.

Now according to the article about the loo, we spend 3 hours (and 9 minutes, but I’ll over look the 9 mins for now) on it a week. Well, working on my building activity levels theory that’s 30 mins a day, 6 days a week. In the mantra of little changes equalling big results, and in the mindset of wanting to bring about success not failure, I would rather my client completes her 30 minutes in whatever way works for her – that might be a brisk walk to work in the morning (10 mins), a 10 minute dash to the shops at lunchtime and then 10 minutes of exercises she can do while getting dinner ready in the evening. Voila, 30 minutes a day on work days and we’ll work out what is fun exercise for the weekend. It might be a longer walk. It might be roller skating. It doesn’t matter – by this point she only needs 30 more minutes and she’s beaten the stats in the article. Winning!

In my head there’s a really good punchline here about movement being about more than bowels, but I’ll erm leave that there!

Seriously, though, if you or someone you know fits the bill for this, please put them in touch with me. I’d love to have a Skype chat with them to see how we can fit more activity into their everyday life, and get them away from being a statistic.

Willpower

Of late I have found myself having quite a lot of conversations in which the topic of willpower has come up. It’s got me thinking about the wider implications of the word.

There is a widely held belief (or certainly it’s portrayed in the language we use) that things fall into “good” and “bad” or “naughty”. Take food, for example: I regularly have people confessing to all the “bad” or “naughty” food they have eaten recently, as though in telling me they’ll somehow absolve themselves. Or maybe I’m expected to berate them and be pious about the fact I never eat anything “naughty”. This conversation inevitably leads to the confessor reaching their own conclusion that they have no willpower and therefore they’re a failure.

Here’s the thing. I don’t ever eat anything “naughty”. I enjoy salads, I enjoy pizzas, I enjoy wine, I enjoy chocolate. I don’t like coffee or tea. I don’t like pineapple. The difference is in my labelling of these things. Over the years I have learnt that my internal language is the only thing that helps or hinders me. If I tell myself I have no willpower because I eat chocolate, I will eat more chocolate, feel guilty, feel a failure, eat more chocolate. And repeat. If I tell myself I can have some chocolate, I will eat the amount I want AND THEN STOP. Because I have permission to eat all of it.

The same goes with exercise. I don’t have any willpower for exercising. I go for a run because I enjoy running. But (unless I’m training for a specific event, and need to cover a specific distance) I am allowed to turn around at the top of the road. If when I get to the top of the road I want to carry on, then that’s what I’ll do.

Am I rambling? The point I’m making is that the word willpower needs to go in the should box. It’s an external pressure “oh well I should do some exercise, because, you know, society thinks I should” vs “I want to do some exercise because I want to be more active”. External pressures inevitably lead to guilt because we can’t ever meet the expectations of this external someone who is applying the pressure. And so we believe we have no willpower. And so we feel guilty. And so we have some more chocolate and do no exercise. Cos, well, we have no willpower, right?

My biggest piece of advice for having willpower is to stop requiring willpower. Reword your inner monologue. Get rid of ALL SHOULDS. Replace the ones you like with WILL, and get rid of the ones you don’t want in your life.

I should go for a run = I won’t go and then I’ll feel guilty and tell myself I have no willpower.

I will go for a run = I will run because I have chosen to, and I didn’t need willpower.

Everytime you catch a should creeping in, ask yourself if the sentence is right with will in place of should. If it isn’t, don’t do it. There’s no guilt, it just wasn’t right for you right now.

Permission granted to say no when things aren’t for you and to feel zero guilt for it.

 

A sugary treat?

One of the things that led me to become a personal trainer was the wish to help people feel better about themselves, primarily through exercise, but also through food. Now let me set this straight from the start: I am no nutritionist, but I do have basic nutrition qualifications, so when I analyse clients’ food diaries I am looking for little tweaks they can make so their food works with them, not against them; things like spotting where there’s a blood sugar slump during the day and advising on healthier snacks that could be eaten to ward that off, or advising on healthy yummy breakfasts that will see my clients getting through the morning at work without needing to reach for the biscuits.

For more detailed food work I look to two friends, one I see as my female hormone and energy level guru, the other I view as my sports nutrition guide. They are actually both qualified the same and can advise on each other’s areas, that’s just how I fit them into my little world.

Anyway, last week Health Coach friend, Kathy Payne, who runs Kathy Payne – Hormone Health and Fertility, ran a facebook challenge called Curb Your Cravings. Every day she set us a challenge, some easier, some harder. The one that really got my ears pricked up was her sugar day. We were challenged to add up our sugar intake (either all sugar or just refined sugars, it was for each of us to choose, I went for all sugar, including those from fruit, veg, etc) as we went through the day until we reached the daily recommended amount for an adult woman, which is 30g. 30g of sugar. That’s about 5 teaspoons. That’s nothing!

OK. Breakfast – soya yogurt, muesli, ground linseed, mixed berries. Yep, I’m feeling pretty smug. Oh. The muesli is 9g sugar/100g. OK, have a look at the other box of muesli in the kitchen. Oh. 14g sugar/100g. Breakfast in total was 10g (I went for the lower sugar muesli and had nowhere near 100g of it).

Lunch – right, let’s do this. Made a veggie/chickpea/spinach thing 3.3g sugar/100g. Smugness back. 1 apple. 12g!! What????? OK, mental note to self, stick to berries when wanting fruit. Total 15.3g

Mid afternoon – OK, I’ll have some mixed nuts, they’ll be fine, right? 4g sugar/100g. Wow. But you know, nuts are good fats and all, so I’ll still have them, just add them to my sugar tally. Total 4g (ish, didn’t weigh the nuts)

Dinner – cod on a tomato and butter bean sauce, with tenderstem broccoli. About 10g

So on a day WHEN I WAS FOCUSING ON MY SUGAR INTAKE I got to 39.3g. Nearly 10g over the recommended daily intake. Granted I was counting fruit and veg sugar, not just the refined stuff, and had I only counted the refined stuff I’d have been at about 9g over the day, but what an eye opener.

Interestingly nutritionist friend, Claire Doherty, who runs Namaste Nutrition, is running a sugar challenge on facebook in September. I may report back. If I survive a low to no sugar September!

Why exercise?

Seems a silly question – the media are always telling us we should be more active, there are government guidelines for how many minutes a week we should be doing, most people have had a gym membership at some point.

But actually, why exercise? Why do something you keep being told you should do? I for one hate being told what to do, so why do I exercise?

I run because it makes me feel better. I cycle because it gets me out into nature so I see beautiful scenery and wildlife. I swim because while I’m focusing on not drowning I can’t worry about anything else in life. I do short exercise sessions like the ones I give to my Jumpstart clients because sometimes there isn’t the time for anything more, and I enjoy being out in my garden doing something active. I walk with the dogs because it clears my head.

I don’t go to high octane classes that I perceive will make me feel bad about myself (I have little coordination!), I try not to compare my speed to other people’s. I exercise because it fuels me. Just like eating healthy food, it makes me feel better. I exercise in the time I have available – some days that’s just 15 minutes. Some days it’s more.

And why am I a personal trainer? Because I want to help other people find their little bit of peace through exercise. I want to enable others to feel better, happier, brighter in life. Join me!

www.embracingfitness.co.uk/jumpstart

Jumpstart

Ever since I qualifyed as a personal trainer I knew I wanted to be able to do distance sessions via Skype, so I could work with clients anywhere rather than being limited geographically. For me the reason for retraining was to be able to help people who don’t know where to start to do just that. I wanted to enable these people to get more active without the pressure of going to a gym, without the humiliation of going to a class where they don’t know the moves already, without the expense of buying equipment but with the full support of someone who understands where they’re coming from.

So, why do I understand? Well, I am not that person who has been sporty since childhood. Getting active is pretty new on me, too. I ran my first ever mile in 2012. Also, I’m a size 14-16, I know that cake and wine fall into people’s mouths. I am realistic about this. I can give you a list of excuses as long as your arm why not to exercise. I also can give you a list of reasons as long as both arms why actually doing the exercise will make you feel better. And I want to help you add reasons to the 2nd list.

OK, so how does Jumpstart work then? We start with a chat over Skype so I can establish both what your goals are but almost more importantly what your barriers are. If you’re someone who doesn’t function until they’ve had 5 coffees, I won’t ask you to “just set the alarm 15 mins earlier”. If you’re a straight in from work and the pyjamas go on type, then I won’t start expecting an hour run from you at 8pm. Jumpstart is simply about fitting exercise into YOUR life. It doesn’t matter how I fit my exercise into my life, or how your partner, your mum, your auntie’s cat or anyone else fits it into theirs, I want YOU to succeed. We’ll start small. Achievable. You may well think I’ve not set you enough in the first week. Good. That means you’re succeeding. It’s achievable.

So if you want a personalised exercise plan that is designed to fit into YOUR life then Jumpstart is for you. 3 different levels – Silver, you get the plan, but then you’re on your own; Gold, plan plus weekly chats to see how you’re getting on and adapt the plan accordingly; Platinum, all that plus a food diary analysis. The food diary part is done in a very similar vein – I won’t give you an hour by hour plan of what you MUST eat NOW, rather we’ll have a look at achievable changes that will make the food you eat work with you, not against you.

Sound good? Sign up here – I for one can’t wait to help find a fitter you.

Fitness for health

One of the reasons I love being a personal trainer is when clients see real benefits to their health through the work we do together, and the extra effort they put in between sessions. I always want to make fitness fit into my clients’ lives, and I would always rather know they’re doing 10 minutes here and there than ask so much of them that it becomes prohibitive. So here are some examples of clients who are really feeling the benefits:

Client A (I’ll keep everyone anonymous) has had medical people keeping an eye on her for a while in terms of her weight and the effects on her hormones, as well as possible type 2 diabetes. We have been working together for 8 weeks, one session a week and I give her short sets to do in between times, we’ve also made some small but manageable changes to her diet. At her last hospital visit she had lost 7% body fat. That is amazing. I am so proud of her achievement. She had tried all sorts of diets and the like, but nothing had worked because it had been too big, too much. Unsurprisingly the doctors are all very happy with what they’re seeing, and it sounds like she’ll be monitored less closely going forwards, as she’s at less risk.

Client B had lost a fair bit of weight before we met, but still had high blood pressure. She and I see each other weekly and she does a lot of walking as well as some small sets of the exercises from when we see each other in between times, and the last time she saw her Dr her blood pressure was back into the healthy range. All from getting more active.

Client C has long suffered with low energy and as such has always shied away from exercise, believing that it would zap what little energy she does have. Since doing some short sets in her home in her own time she’s finding she already has more energy and her muscles are working with her, not against her.

I can’t put into words how happy this all makes me. I love that finding ways to help people fit activity into their lives can make such big differences. For me, exercise is all about how it makes you feel, and I want that to always be positive. If a client, therefore, comes to me saying they hate a specific thing, we won’t incorporate it. If they know that exercising after a certain time of day means it won’t happen, we find ways to make it work in the doing time of day. Tiny little things that make exercise work for you, not against you. I don’t want it to be a chore. I don’t want you to fail. I want you to feel better, happier, healthier. And with Jumpstart (and me!) you can. Promise.

 

 

Live Happy

*Advance apologies for a ranty post*

I was cycling this morning and spotted a sign from a well known weight-loss club headlined “Live Happy”. The message of course being that if you are overweight you can’t possibly be happy, and that your only route to some holy grail of happiness is via this fat club.

Excuse me while I step onto my soap box.

So, we can’t be happy if we aren’t lining the pockets of the fat club? We can’t be happy unless we’re parting with £5 a week to stand on some scales? We can’t be happy unless we label all foods as “good” or “bad”? We can’t be happy in our own skin? Happiness is found in diet drinks and Muller light. Happiness is found in deprivation and guilt. Happiness is found in being “good” while other people enjoy their meals.

Erm, OK. But what about the fact that the vast majority of people who diet put the weight back on, with interest? How about the fact none of these fat clubs address WHY their clients are making the food choices they are. Well, obviously, if you address the WHY then people might stop coming. They might lose the guilt. They might make their own choices.

And what happened to generally living a healthy lifestyle? If your only measure of “healthy” is the number on a set of scales, there’s a lot that is being overlooked. Your blood pressure could still be through the roof, you may still have no energy, you might be at risk of seriously injuring yourself when you walk up the stairs, your mental health might be being neglected as you continually find yourself failing. And who decided what number was right for YOU?

I have a good friend who is the same height as me and wears the same dress size as me, but weighs 3.5 stone less than me. Hang on… same dress size but 3.5 stone difference? Indeed, just looking at my own weight (for interest, not for scales-obsessive reasons) I gained 6.5lb in a day according to the scales a couple of weeks ago. Imagine the guilt and self-loathing I would have had to go through in class for that!

The number on the scales is NOT a good measure of how you are doing health-wise, exercise-wise, energy-wise. It is a good measure of how fat clubs can find reason, week on week, to rob you blind.

Right, could someone give me a hand off this soap box? I need to go and  release some more feel-good endorphins (diet coke doesn’t do that, by the way), before I enjoy my barbecue this evening.

 

Oh, and all my clients will vouch for the fact I don’t use weight as a measure of success with them any more than I do for me. We work on fitness levels, energy levels, how clothes fit. Of course I’ll offer advice for clients who want me to review their food diary, but I am ALWAYS looking for positive changes that can be made, never guilting people into giving things up.

** Cheeky edit to add: wherever you are in the world, have a look at my Jumpstart – it just might be the key to helping get you or your friends out of the diet cycle 🙂