Check out the video below, showing some of my female clients’ weight training workouts.
Archive for the ‘Fat loss’ Category
How are those new year resolutions coming along – still going strong or fallen by the wayside? The commonest area people try to control is eating habits, life coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner Paul Brown is here to offer some insight.
Over half the population of the UK is now overweight – this worrying trend has been unaffected by the economic downturn and is forecast to get worse. ‘Sizeism’ is a word that is now in everyday language, it can be frustrating for those discriminated against because of how they look. This is especially the case when you consider that overeating is not a conscious choice for the vast majority whose quality of life is affected by it, something that the skinny ones fail to appreciate!
At the start of January battle cries are sounded up and down the land – “This time my willpower is strong and I’m finally going to overcome that habit of overeating to become slim!” The problem, however, is that the more we try and force that part of us responsible for overeating into submission, the more we back it into a corner and it explodes with an episode of binging. The result is that we’re back to square one but, with all the resulting guilt and exhaustion, actually feeling worse than before!
This pattern will be all too familiar to many people – we kid ourselves into thinking “this year I’m really going to change” but, even if we try an alternative to last time, a radically different approach is required – one that will get to the root cause of the issue.
A long-standing habit of overeating is usually the result of the conscious mind failing to solve the problem by itself. Whenever issues of ‘willpower’ arise, it can be incredibly useful to delve a little deeper. Sigmund Freud may have given the subconscious mind a bad name but it’s in the deepest parts of our mind that the cause, and hence the solution, lies…..
The Single Most Important Cause of Overeating
‘Will you lose anything if you reach this goal?’ is often ignored and yet is the most important question to ask oneself when setting goals. Unless it’s properly addressed (and any issues brought into the light) we may experience a part of ourselves sabotaging our efforts. This will resonate with anyone who has ‘fallen off the wagon’. Quite often the answer may be below the radar of the conscious mind but a deeper part of us is actually providing (in its eyes) a useful service. OK the behaviour may be seen as unhelpful or even destructive (in the same way that a neglected child may create a scene to get attention), but there is always a positive intention (or value) behind the actions (as we say in NLP). Only by identifying what this is (reasons will vary between individuals but may include comfort, security, self-esteem etc) will empower a person to find alternative, non self-sabotaging alternatives.
Without engaging with this ‘rogue’ yet integral part of us we’re likely to experience fluctuations in weight for many years to come. Whilst this process is best carried out with help from an NLP practitioner, here are some other useful tips:
1) Focus on what you want (for example being slim and in control of what you eat) rather than current body image or ‘not being overweight’ (the subconscious mind can’t process negatives!) We get more of what we think about – our thoughts shape our future so let’s try and make them good ones!
2) Brainstorm a list of what being in control of eating would do for you. By ‘stepping up’ into our goals we can really bring them alive, and this will provide us with the day to day motivation to develop new habits. For example, if eating sensibly would give you more confidence really imagine what that would be like – what could you see, feel and hear? Also what would other people notice about you? It’s the ‘goal beyond the goal’ that contains the driving force of emotion. Do this exercise for everything on your list – how do you feel about the original goal now?
3) Take ownership of your life – there are people for whom there is a medical cause for being overweight (such as hypothyroidism) but many more who blame circumstances outside their control. These may include genes, upbringing or work-related stress. Like all beliefs, this will create your reality. Taking control may appear daunting at first, but it’s the first step in getting back the life you want to lead – one of possibilities, not restrictions!
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that a desire to change (and having a clear idea of what you actually want) is the single biggest factor involved in success in any field. Our current situation is a result of our past thinking, not our current – every day is truly a fresh opportunity. Good luck!
Find out more at www.empoweringbeliefs.co.uk
My book on Seasonal Awareness and Wellbeing will be coming soon!
This is a fresh approach to looking and feeling better. By harmonising with the seasons, it is possible to reduce problems such as winter depression, and to make the most of other seasonal energies. For example, making massive lifestyle overhauls in January is out of kilter with what happens in nature at this time of year – it is not a time of great change. By refining your goals at this time, making small modifications and waiting until the days lengthen to really get going with a new diet or exercise plan, you greatly increase your chances of success, and will avoid reinforcing the idea that “healthy living is difficult”.
See the book’s Facebook page for seasonal insights and the opportunity to discuss seasonal topics!
Also follow us on Twitter @BPC_Wellbeing
We have a great event in the diary at Tres Health & Well-being, Chelsea that will help you look and feel your best!
Find out how to get younger looking skin – without surgery, how to lose fat for good, and how to sparkle with your own personal style! You’ll have the opportunity to network with experts, try out superb products and will get a fantastic goodie bag, worth over £30 to take away, as well as a number of special offers on the night.
Tickets cost just £20, and this is redeemable against any treatments. Places are limited so book soon on 0207 622 2252!
MC will be contributing to the “Unlock the Secret to Weight Loss and Well-Being” spa break at Armathwaite Hall spa in the English Lake District.
The break will take place form 8-10 November, and is a fantastic opportunity to boost your weight (fat) loss plan, whilst relaxing in beautiful surroundings.
Places are limited, so hurry to book!
It’s very rare to see women doing weight training in a commercial gym and if they do, it’s usually incorrect. I think this is due to a lack of understanding and the widespread nature of some of the myths about weight training.
“Core training” is the magical phrase that women like to hear. Quite often when I have a consultation with a potential female client the most important area for them is core training. What they want is a flat belly and a narrow waist, and so they believe that by performing all kinds of abdominal exercises(plank, swiss ball crunches, sit ups etc) they will get the result they want. In most cases, it is not the strength of the abdominal muscles that is the problem, but the presence of unwanted fat – which will not be spot-reduced by any amount of abdominal exercises. The overall level of body fat must be decreased.
Instead of wasting time on a swiss ball doing hundreds of sit ups, you should be doing some of the basic exercises such as lunges which target large muscle groups.. By doing that you will increase your metabolic rate, so you will burn more calories even at rest. Combining your resistance training with a good diet will further help you to reduce your body fat.
As for strengthening the core, the main function of the core muscles (which are not just abdominal muscles but also the hip and back muscles) is to stabilize. So provided you are using challenging weights whilst doing exercises such as squats and lunges you will activate your core muscles throughout your whole workout.
Women usually tell me they don’t want to get “big” and want to just look “toned”. There is no such thing as a “toned” muscle – muscle can get bigger or smaller, and the only way to look “toned”, or rather defined, is by increasing the size of the muscles and lowering the body fat level.
Resistance training will never make a woman look like a man – testosterone treatment is needed to achieve this. Women do build muscle when they train, but women’s muscles are naturally smaller than men’s, and they have fewer fast twitch muscle fibres, which means bulk does not come easily.
But I will not deny what many women already know – building up muscle can sometimes result in a “chunky” look, if this is done in the wrong way – women are programmed to have more body fat under the skin than men, and so retaining much of this layer of fat whilst increasing the size of muscles does not result in a toned, athletic appearance, but simply the impression of having “bigger” arms or legs. The key here is to design the resistance training programme well, so that as muscle mass increases, body fat decreases. Diet and management of oestrogen can play an important role here too.
As with men, there is a wide variation in terms of genetic predisposition. Occasionally I see women who are genetically predisposed to muscle gain, and who naturally have a low level of body fat – they look athletic even without training.
Looking nice in the gym
Lots of women come to the gym in their expensive pink exercise clothes and spend hours using mini hand weights. It seems they don’t even work up a sweat. This sort of workout is useless. Women should not be afraid to use real weights, to push themselves and to sweat – even if this doesn’t look particularly feminine. A few generations ago, most women were engaged in physical labour every day, their bodies are designed to work as hard as mens, if not harder. So you should get some proper guidance, get into the freeweights area and stop wasting time!
Women often neglect resistance training, as they feel it is the cardio work that will burn stubborn fat – especially low intensity, long duration cardio. In any workout, whether weights or cardio, the amount of calories burned is actually small – even the calorie deficit created by a super high intensity martial arts class could be wiped out by a snack. It is what happens in the body after exercise that is important. Resistance and high intensity training can increase the metabolic rate for several days after the training session, this is one reason it is important to rest between sessions. Repairing the damage done to muscles during a resistance training session requires energy, which often comes from fat. Also, resistance training has a large effect on improving cardiovascular fitness – the heart rate increases dramatically during an exercise.
Resistance training is the only way for both men and women to improve the body shape. It is impossible for a woman to look masculine through resistance training, and following a well designed resistance programme using real weights and eating well are the keys to achieving a slim and “toned” physique. See the video below of Fiona, one of my female clients who does the same exercises as my male clients and who looks slim and feminine.
Some people get great results in the gym through setting clear goals, and working towards them with a progressive programme. They tend to be consistent and when their routine is disrupted, this sort of person just gets back into it as soon as possible. Other people start diet and fitness regimes with great enthusiasm and discipline, but soon are distracted by other life elements, or are put off course by a few weeks out of their rhythm. Yet another group has little real interest in physical activity or eating in a specific way, and needs an intellectual motivation to make lifestyle changes. Understanding which type you are will help you to design an effective exercise plan, that you can stick to in the longer term.
The following questions are designed to give you an insight into your personality as applied to exercise behaviour, but do not focus only on exercise-related topics. Answer each question and keep a note of your score. You may have a predominance of one type, or a mixture.
1. Which of the following sounds most like you?
I hate to be bored (LT)
I really dislike instability and uncertainty and try to avoid it (BN)
My emotional life is something of a rollercoaster – I wish there was more harmony (O)
2. Which of the following statements about career/work do you agree with most?
Work is important for providing me with a sense of self-worth (O)
Work is important, but mostly as a means to an end. It provides me with stability and a regular income, but I don’t feel emotionally attached to it beyond that (BN)
I really enjoy intellectually stimulating work, and throw myself into it. I have no patience for boring or mundane work, though (LT)
3. Can you relax easily?
No, I often find it hard to switch off irrespective of how much I have to do (O)
Yes – relaxing can mean cooking and enjoying a meal, catching up with friends or going for a walk (BN)
Yes – I daydream a lot and enjoy stimulating my mind with books, films or puzzles. I don’t need to be around others to relax (LT)
4. What would you say your biggest strength is?
My ability to commit and stick to things, even when the going is tough (BN)
My creativity and ability to innovate (LT)
My energy and drive, which can sometimes be super-human (O)
5. What would you say your biggest weakness is?
I get bored easily and give up on things that don’t interest me (LT)
I have large ups and downs – one week I am all-conquering, the next week I struggle to get out of bed (O)
Sometimes I can be stubborn or closed minded, sticking with things just because they are familiar or established (BN)
6. Do you currently exercise?
Yes, as much as possible (O)
Yes, I have a routine which I try to follow (BN)
When I can be bothered – I do what I feel like (LT)
Not at the moment – I know I could find the time, but I have too many other things on my mind (O)
7. Whether you exercise or not, which of the following do you agree with most?
The human body is designed for movement, and being active is natural (BN)
Exercise helps to relieve stress, it can help a person to forget the other issues in their life (O)
There are many reasons to exercise – weight loss, preparing for a sporting event, socialising (LT)
8. If you had an exercise routine disrupted by illness or a holiday, for example, how would you react?
I would just get back into my routine as soon as I could (BN)
If I had a break from the routine, other things would take its place and I would probably forget about exercise (O)
I wouldn’t allow anything to disrupt my exercise routine (O)
It would knock my exercise off track for a few weeks, but I would get back into it if there was a reason to do so (LT)
9. Imagine you are at the gym – where would you be found?
Trying out a strange new piece of equipment, or in an interesting-sounding class, like Boxercise, Body Attack or Salsacise (LT)
Following your usual routine, recording your progress (BN)
Doing another 45 minutes on the cross trainer or treadmill – you need to reach a certain calorie target this session (O)
10. Which of the following sounds most like your exercise behaviour to date?
I usually have some sort of routine, and stick to it – it might not always be the best routine, but at least its something and at least I have regular activity (BN)
When I have a reason to exercise, I do it, but I can get bored of it quickly, particularly if it is too much effort or I don’t see results (LT)
I go through phases of exercising a lot, or not at all. I don’t always have a particular plan, but I know I can achieve a lot (O)
Exercise is the most important thing in my life, I have to fit in a certain number of sessions every week (or day) (O)
What your results mean
The Obsessive. Lives through emotions, desires, compulsions
Obsessives are motivated by their compulsions. They can have immense drive, setting and achieving extremely ambitious goals – at any cost. However, Obsessives are by nature inconsistent – they can fluctuate between doing the work of several people, to being barely able to function.
In terms of exercise, an Obsessive could have an unhealthy relation to exercise, using it to avoid dealing with psychological issues. More commonly, they are the “all or nothing” types – able to be incredibly strict, but also vulnerable to binge eating or drinking, depending on circumstances. Many Obsessives feel they do not have time to exercise, as they have too many other things on their minds
Advice for Obsessives
- Whilst exercise is useful for relieving stress and letting off steam, dealing more openly with any psychological issues will help you to better focus your drive and energy
- Make time for regular practice of balancing exercises such as yoga and pilates – these will help to calm your mind
- Try to include different types of exercise, allowing you to improve the connection with your body and take enjoyment from activity. Get outside when you can, and try things “just for fun” – the idea is to bring balance. If you feel you don’t have time to exercise “properly”, you can start with these kinds of activities
- Avoid setting too many goals, and focus on the process more. You know you can achieve goals, but now think about what you can do for yourself for the longer term
- Exercise is not about proving a point, or passing or failing – it is about you and your health, and no-one else. If your routine slips because of a temporary change in your circumstances, accept it, but don’t dwell on it. As soon as you can, simply start your activities again
Sample exercise routine for an Obsessive, to help with achieving harmony
Monday – Resistance training/interval cardio gym workout (programme designed by fitness professional)
Tuesday – Walk in the park after lunch
Wednesday – Resistance training/interval cardio gym workout (programme designed by fitness professional)
Thursday – Yoga
Friday – Walk in the park after lunch
Saturday – Exercise class of choice
Sunday – Walk in the country with friends
The Body Natural. Lives through sensory experiences, the body
Body Naturals are not always high energy “sporty” types, but are in fact the type most likely to achieve and maintain the best results or to master a sport. With a strong connection to the body, this type appreciates the sensual, and understands instinctively the need for movement.
A Body Natural usually includes some form of activity in their life, because it feels good. However, this is not always the progressive training required to achieve results – Body Naturals risk being “stuck in a rut” and continuing with a routine because it is established. This type responds best to goal setting. A Body Natural at their best will be committed and consistent – and will always be rewarded by changes.
Advice for Body Naturals
- Consider working with a Personal Trainer, or having an exercise programme designed for you. Record your progress each session, and make sure that each time, you do more
- Set sensible, yet challenging goals, breaking them down into sub-goals and adding checkpoints – keep a log
- If you don’t already play a sport, consider it. Your commitment means you do well with mastering new techniques (no matter how long it takes), and you can be an excellent team player. This could be any kind of sport, from field and track to golf to football
- Don’t forget the fun – as well as progressing with your routine, occasionally inject something new into your activities. Plan an active break, try out a class or exercise with a friend or a group
- Every so often, either alone or with a trainer/instructor, critically review your exercise programme. Is it helping you to achieve your goals, or does something need to change? Don’t be afraid to make changes when necessary – by making sure you have good advice on technique, etc. you reduce the risk of a new exercise not suiting you
Sample exercise routine for a Body Natural, to help with making progress
Monday – Personal Training session, resistance work and cardio
Tuesday – Sport skills training
Wednesday – Personal Training session, resistance work and cardio
Thursday – Sport skills training
Friday – Resistance work and cardio session (alone)
Saturday – Walk in the park
Sunday – Rollerblading in the park
The Lazy Thinker. Lives in their head
Lazy Thinkers tend to be dreamers and theorists, who live in their heads and thrive on intellectual challenge, and who therefore may have less of a connection to their physicality. They are able to commit themselves wholeheartedly to an interesting project, but lose interest with mundane tasks.
Lazy Thinkers can motivate themselves to exercise – if they have an intellectual reason to do so. They can therefore masquerade as other types, committing to an ambitious regime if they realise they need to lose weight, for example. But once the activity becomes too much of an effort, or is not yielding results, momentum is lost. Lazy Thinkers may be captivated by the latest fad, class or piece of equipment, but are likely to give up when the novelty has worn off.
Advice for Lazy Thinkers
- Accept that you have little real interest in exercise and stop trying to set goals that don’t mean anything to you on an intellectual level. Try to find a real reason for exercise – this might be something as broad as improving your health for the longer term
- Brainstorm how you might include exercise in your life, and make a note of ideas that appeal to you
- Once you have decided to exercise, your challenge is to prevent boredom. Whilst some element of progressive training is required to see results (which you need to see to stay motivated), this can be balanced by activities that are stimulating and fun
- Speak to a Personal Trainer or fitness instructor, and consult fitness magazines and websites for ideas. Consider working with a Personal Trainer at least once a week
- Consider taking up a sport with a mental/strategic component, such as a martial art. Read up on the history and culture of the sport, and look forward to the time when you have mastered the basic techniques (a stage which you will probably find boring) and can apply them creatively
Sample exercise routine for a Lazy Thinker, to prevent boredom and to achieve results
Monday – Sports class, e.g., martial arts
Tuesday – Personal Training gym session – resistance and interval cardio
Wednesday – Sports class, e.g., martial arts
Thursday – Dance class
Friday – Resistance and interval cardio session
Saturday – Thinking time – whilst walking outdoors
Sunday – Outdoor Personal Training/Military Fitness type session