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  1. To start frankly, I'm pretty body confident on most days. I am, of course, human and therefore have days where I don't feel 'bikini ready' and being in my industry certainly increases this anxiety at times.
     
    When I got engaged and started wedding dress shopping, I genuinely didn't think I would get caught up in the 'must lose weight / tone up / stop eating pizza' palava and have even told friends off for doing so when they are utterly divine as they are. And so managed to shock myself when I fell for it hook, line and sinker. 
     
    Let's be honest, not many people look good all in white. And when that is coupled with every single person you know staring at you in it all day, plus photos that will last a lifetime, it is hard not to succumb. I have been angry with myself for putting so much pressure on, when I have a body that I already work hard enough for and am confident in.
     
    Then I read this blog post and was again surprised that I needed another fitness professional's honesty and words to remind me that just because I want to look the most incredible I have ever looked for what is the most exciting day of my life so far, surely that's not worth punishing myself over. Take a few minutes to read the post, because it is 100% true and I'm glad I have been reminded that wanting to change or 'better' your body does not have to be as a result of something negative, but perhaps to achieve something positive.
     
    #vitalitynotvanity
  2. Happy belated Easter everyone. I hope you all had a nice break, especially if you were able to get away.
     
    I was lucky enough to have time off for almost 2 weeks, with both a trip abroad and time at home. And although I was desperate for a break, I didn't appreciate just how much I needed it until I stopped. I spent a week by a pool in the sun with a cocktail, I swam and dined and read two entire books. I then came home and pootled in my jammies and worked in the garden. I went back to work refreshed, tanned, a little fatter (haha) and with the realisation that I needed to slow down a bit. A week back and I've picked up a horrendous cold that has floored me for days! That realisation has therefore deepened from under a blanket with a Lemsip.
     
    It's not until we stop that we often have the perspective we need to reassess our lives and most importantly what they do to our health. Sometimes it's in our best interest to slow down, take a breath, say no and care for ourselves. I appreciate how easy that sounds but you won't realise how much you need your health until it's gone. It's not until you force yourself to take that holiday, to have time off, to tap out of life for a bit that you can see where you need to pull back or change for your own good. Because if you don't, you run this risk of exhaustion, stress and more health problems that may be harder to undo with a bit of R&R. If your body is telling you to chill out, then do what you can to make that happen because your body's voice is one that should never be ignored.
     
    Everything you do in your life wouldn't be possible without your health, so listen to yourself and look after it whilst you still can.
     
    #vitalitynotvanity
    xx
  3. At the end of last week I did a Facebook live video about age and exercise, so in case you missed it I thought I’d share again.

     Sometimes clients tell me they can’t do an exercise because of their age. I’ve been told this by clients in their 40’s, 50’s and even have clients in their 60’s. And the truth is that I don’t care how old you are, I care what you are capable of.

     You may be 50 and are perfectly fit and healthy with no ailments or injuries.

     You may be 40 but have a knee problem.

    You may be 30 and are pregnant.

    When planning sessions for those three clients, it’s not the number that I take into consideration, but their abilities and requirements. Some clients in their 60’s can do burpees. Some clients in their 30’s can’t. Some clients are building their health and fitness back up after surviving cancer. Some just want to shift a tonne of weight. We work with your abilities, your needs and your goals.

     NOT your age.

    Age is not a limit. It does not define what you can and can’t do, it simply tells us how many years ago you were born. So if your age is your excuse not to do something that I know you are capable of then you better start thinking of a better one that I might actually buy in to ;-)

  4. I’d like you to take a moment to ponder something for me. 

    How many times have you been in a gym, a café, a park, etc and seen someone running by, having a workout, doing a boot camp and so on. Now how many times have you looked at that person and thought anything like the following:

     

    “What a loser, thinking they could be a runner…”

    “Ha look at that lady, she’s so unfit…”

    “That bloke is trying so hard on the treadmill but he looks stupid…”

    Or just generally laugh/judge/look down on them.

     

    I hope the answer is never, but even if you do have that fleeting thought are you really thinking about that person all day long or are you too involved in whatever you have going on in your actual life to give much thought to the person attempting to go for a run?

     

    This is the conversation I had this week with a client and often have with people who are convinced that when they go out and attempt to get fit, the world is laughing and judging them.

     

    “But people will see that I’m unfit and laugh…”

    “I don’t want anyone to see me working out in case they judge me…”

    “What if I’m not as good as other people and they’re looking at me…”

     

    Most people are too busy with their own lives to care about what you are doing. And even if a passerby is making a judgement...who cares? It will last for a second because I promise that passerby isn’t spending the rest of their day thinking about whether you looked suave or not. Go back to the start of this post, what was your answer about others? So what is their answer about you when you’re trying that new park workout?

     

    No matter what your level of fitness, or your weight, or your ability – if you are out there trying, then hold that head up high and sod what everyone else thinks.

     

    #vitalitynotvanity

  5. There are two clients in front of me.

    One has lost 3lbs in weight and 1.5 inches off her hips.

     The other has put on 1lb and lost 1 inch off her waist.

    Who has done ‘better’?

     The answer is neither. Because firstly, they are different shapes with different goals. And secondly because the number on the scales isn’t exclusively indicative of success. The first client has high body fat and has been working on reducing this through high intensity cardio training and diet. The second client isn’t particularly overweight but has no muscles tone, so we’ve been concentrating on strength training alone.

    Let’s try another one.

    Both myself and my client weigh the same on the scales. My BMI is at the very top end of the ‘healthy’ zone, but she is 2 inches taller so her BMI is less. Does that mean she is healthier?

    No. Because again, those scales are just one number and one aspect. We may weigh the same but our fat to muscle ratio is completely different. I weigh more because I am small but have a lot of lean muscle. I don’t get hung up on what the scales say or what the BMI graph tells me, because it doesn’t take everything into account. Don’t get me wrong, if you have a lot of weight to lose then yes the scales and your BMI matter, but do look at the whole picture.

     Yet clients get so hung up with linking their worth and their health to the number of pounds they are, even when they’ve totally changed their shape and can wear clothes they haven’t for years. I trained one of my best mates for 6 months and everyone commented on how much weight she’d lost, how good she looked and how toned and healthy she had become. Yet she didn’t change one single pound in weight!

    You are more than just a number on a scale. If you feel this number does need to change there is nothing wrong with that and I will help you on your journey. But please remember the bigger picture before tying all your self-esteem to that one little device!

     

    #vitalitynotvanity

  6. I was chatting with a new client whose job is very distinct and she was saying that as soon as she tells people what she does, the first three questions or statements are always exactly the same. This got me thinking about my own and it gave us a chuckle.

    For example, as soon as I say I am a Fitness Trainer, I get:

    “Wow you must be super fit, do you work out every day?”

    (Yes pretty much, as it is my job)

     

    “I bet you can eat anything you want!”

    (Well no. I need a healthy diet to sustain my health and my energy. Plus I put on weight just by thinking about food so it’s actually a lifelong struggle to keep weight off)

     

    And finally the most amusing/annoying…

     “Fitness trainer eh? I just started/need to get back into my fitness regime, so I used to swim and I was getting really good at it but then I was injured and got out of the habit…what’s THE one best exercise to lose weight, because I hear spinning is really good but I just find it hard…if I do crunches every day will I get a six pack? I guess I need to eat better for that too eh…so I was doing this diet…”

     (Thanks for the chat but you are here to fix my boiler/I’m just trying to buy a cup of coffee/I’M IN THE PUB AND IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT PLEASE CAN I TALK ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN MY JOB haha)

     

    It’s nice people take an interest, and I am of course passionate about what I do so happy to talk about it…but the conversation with my client got me thinking about this and I found it amusing.

     So I ask you – when you tell people what you do with yourself, what’s the first three questions or statements you get?

  7. How to survive the food and booze of Christmas


    Once again, I am not being a party pooper or stopping anyone having fun. However I have the same conversations over and over again with people who have overindulged and then regret it, feel guilty and throw their healthy eating or exercise regime out the window. They’re then in despair that all their hard work to get fit, healthy and lose weight has been pushed back a few steps for meals or nights out that weren’t even that memorable. So here are a few handy tips on how to survive the surplus of food and booze through the festive season, whilst still enjoying yourself.
     

    Christmas parties


    First ask yourself if you HAVE to attend every one that you are invited to, or if you’re just putting yourself in situations that are guaranteed to end in overindulgence of both food and booze. However if you can’t avoid it, then try and limit the booze or go even go sober.

    Alternate every glass of alcoholic drink for a glass of water – this is a must!
     

    Try not to start too early…I personally don’t like (more importantly can’t handle) early drinking so will often have just the mixer of my drink without the booze in it. Makes you feel like you are joining in without the rotten hangover.

     
    Eat something substantial before you go out – this will avoid a) scoffing on the mini burger canapés
    b) getting totally wasted and c) going for a kebab on the way home. No matter how many times people try and tell you, eating is definitely not cheating. Eating is smart, and healthy.
     
    Free bar? Great. Does that mean you HAVE to smash it? No. Drinking on someone else’s tab doesn’t change the calorie content or hangover content of what you’re drinking, so what’s the point in doing it to yourself. They may be a few bob down the next day but you will be feeling much worse…
     
    Just because three courses are included it doesn’t mean you have to eat all of them. How often do you go out for dinner and eat starter, main and dessert? And would you eat this way a couple of times a week? Probably not. Again, don’t do it just because you’re in the situations.
     
    Christmas & Boxing Day
     
     
    Put the veggies on your plate first – by the time you’ve loaded up on meat, stuffing, pigs in blankets, and roast potatoes you won’t have much room left and therefore your veg content will go down. Put the veg on first and if you’re struggling for room then perhaps put a couple less roasties and piggies on.
     
    Wait before you scoff seconds – there’s no hurry is there? The food isn’t going anywhere and no doubt there will be enough to feed a third world so allow yourself at least 20 minutes to digest before you go back for more.
     
    I am GUILTY of picking a roastie here, a piggy there, a slice of leftover roast beef over there…ooh and go on I’ll just have ONE more little scoop of ice cream with my custard…oh ok just one more nibble of cheese cause it’s delicious... But I am not disillusioned about how many extra calories I am consuming; I just know I will balance it out through healthy eating and exercise. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the food you or your family have worked so hard to prepare but just wise up about how much extra you are actually consuming.
     
    Once the festivities are over, clear all Christmas food out of the house…I mean any random boxes of chocolates you’ve not opened, Christmas cakes and biscuits, etc. Donate them to a local food bank and save yourself the temptation to crack them open just because they’re there. I can’t tell you how many clients and friends have confessed to scoffing these throughout January so they don’t go to waste…but if they go to your WAIST surely that’s just as wasteful…get it?? :-)

     

    Christmas is a time to enjoy - just don't make your January any worse than it needs to be by adding extra guilty and weight to an already miserable month! 

     

  8. You don’t have to love exercises….you just have to do it

     Not everyone who has a fitness regime has to love exercise, or even like it. I am lucky in that I love food and fitness so it is an enjoyable balance, but many of my clients or gym members really don’t enjoy their sessions. This isn’t to do with me personally or anyone else, they simply don’t have the fitness gene.

     These people exercise because they know they need to. They bitch, moan and are often pretty cranky throughout (you know who you are) and yet still put themselves through it for the sake of their health, weight and happiness. And I genuinely respect and applaud you lot because pushing yourself through a workout can be a challenge on a good day, let alone doing it for ‘the sake of it’ as opposed to enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, there are many days where the only reason I’ve turned up to spin is because I’m the instructor and it’s my job, but I obviously wouldn’t do this for a living if I hated exercising.

     For many others, this isn’t the case. If this is you, then well done. Most of my clients who start out like you do end up liking – may I even say loving – exercise and even go it solo. And anyone who is working hard for the sake of their health gets a massive gold star from me…so keep going!

     

    #vitalitynotvanity

  9. Everyone has a different shape, but they can often be categorised into these three shapes. See which one you are and what the best exercise focus is for you:

    Apple

    Apple shapes tend to carry their weight around the middle, with leaner arms and legs. If you find that all your weight sits around your waist as opposed to your hips, bums or limbs then target fat burning exercises such as high intensity cardio or whole body circuits with little rest in between. Make sure you accompany this with core-strengthening exercises so that in addition to burning fat you are toning too.

    Pear

    Pears find their weight sits on their hips, bums and thighs whilst their upper bodies remain slimmer. Therefore, the focus should be on increasing strength in the upper body with heavier weights whilst maintaining tone in the lower body with lighter weights. Don’t neglect your bottom half altogether, but balance out your shape with the top half, keeping up your cardio for aerobic fitness.

    Banana

    Also seen as athletic or tom-boyish, bananas have a straight frame and often crave curves. The focus then should be on creating shape by adding strength and definition to both lower and upper body. Booty-shaping exercises along with upper body routines will help add shape – and although bananas may not need to shed weight, cardio sessions will still keep them healthy so don’t neglect this.

  10. I was chatting with a client about intimidating behaviour in the gym and how some of the regular attendees can behave towards other members. One of the things that came up was when people are eyeballing others or looking them up and down, making people feel self-conscious.

    Being around the gym environment my whole life, I can’t say I’ve noticed if this has been done to me because I’m too busy getting on with my workout – aka the reason I am there. However, I have seen it done to others and heard stories that have left me very disappointed. It’s not just the gym, it is anywhere people are working out – take that famous story recently of the woman who was heckled whilst running.

     I have two responses to this behaviour.

     Firstly, people have no right to outwardly judge you, but let’s be honest in that it’s the way life is. But of all the places and times to be judged for your appearance, lack of fitness or general lack of athleticism it seems unfair to do so whilst someone is trying to change that. It’s like mocking someone for their bad driving whilst they are having driving lessons. Or quitting smoking then being judged for having been a smoker. If you are doing something to improve yourself, how can people pass judgements about you for doing so?

     Secondly, in my experience the only reason people stare, judge or put down others is to make themselves feel better. If you need to make another person feel bad about themselves in order to boost your own self-esteem, well I just feel sorry for you to be honest. Because the rest of us are just getting on with it without having to make another person feel bad.

     I’ve seen personally that all it takes is one judgmental comment or look to really affect someone’s confidence at the gym, who has spent months building up the courage to go. Don’t let these fools get you down, hold your head up high and do what you came to do. Then perhaps remind them of a little thing called #vitalitynotvanity :-)

  11. Two people I know recently got married, and both made the decision to get fitter and healthier in time for the wedding day. Now, this usually means some horrible crash diet and military style workout regime but I was so relieved when they both decided to take the slow and steady route. In fact, one of them put it perfectly when she said “If I’m going to go to all this effort to lose weight, I want it to be permanent so I don’t have to do it all over again”…I actually air punched :-) 

     I think I can say that we are all pretty intelligent, aware people. We watch telly, we use the internet and are all part of social media. So we KNOW by now that fads, quick fixes and crazy workout regimes that make you puke are unsafe, unhealthy and will never last. Yet, there’s a whole industry out there selling them and a load more people who will get sucked in.

     I’m not saying these people don’t look bloody amazing after a few weeks. But a few months after that, where are they? Once the wedding pictures are on the mantelpiece, the taste of cake forgotten and normal life begins again, can anyone maintain that lifestyle? As frustrating as it is, slow and steady does win the race here. A whole lifestyle and diet review, hard work and healthy choices will get you the results that you will keep. So not only did these two ladies look gorgeous on their wedding day, they will stay that way.

     One of these brides had a conversation with her wedding guest who is also a bride-to-be on the course to lose weight for her nuptials. Said guest asked “So what was the secret to losing all that weight?” The bride answered “I worked my butt off in the gym and in sessions with Tara, I watched what I ate but I also ate pizza and drank wine and never went hungry”. To me, this should be a normal answer but it seems to cause more shock than if saying “I’ve eaten nothing but kale and I’ve exercised for 4 hours a day for the past 6 months”

     I’m not saying that slow and steady isn’t hard work. You will have to prize the nightly chocolate bar out of your hand. You will have to stop snacking on your kids’ dinner whilst you’re cooking your own. And there will be many days when you wonder whether you can lift yourself off the toilet because your quads ache from that fitness session. But all that will fade, and your healthy life, healthy self and healthy attitude will remain.

     #vitalitynotvanity 

  12. How do you measure the success of your regime?

     In quite a few sessions this week the topic of weight loss in terms of scales, inches and clothes sizes has come up. For many it’s purely focussed on the numbers on the scale going down, even when they’ve lost inches off their waist and gone down clothes sizes. It is cliché to say, but sometimes you really ARE putting on muscle and losing fat. But if your body is slimmer, your clothes fit better and you are fitter and stronger, does the number on those scales really matter?

     I’ll share a secret with you. The size of my knickers has actually INCREASED in the past few years because I’ve turned a flat, barely-there backside into one that’s strong, toned and needs a little more material to be covered! Nor do I weigh myself (in fact, the only reason I know what I weigh is because I recently tested some bathroom scales for someone! )

     If you have a large amount of weight to lose then yes, those scales can play a big part in the process. But if you are in a healthy weight zone and all other signs are telling you that your health, fitness and figure are improving, why do we get so hung up on a number??

     Toss the scales, and focus on the vitality :-) 

    #vitalitynotvanity 

  13. I was recently chatting with a newly qualified personal trainer who was feeling nervous about getting started. She said she felt she had the knowledge but wasn’t confident with how to approach each client and get their results.
     
    “I mean, how do you make people commit to a programme and lose weight?” she asked.
     
    Well, you don’t. You can’t make anyone do anything they aren’t willing to do. Trust me, I know.
     
    Any major changes that are made in your life have to come from you. The decision to lose weight and get fit is one thing, but committing to it is a whole other thing. It takes some home truths, it takes acceptance of yourself and the reasons you need to change and then it takes time, effort, and a whole range of emotions along the way. Those who are ready and willing to make these changes and work hard will then commit to a programme and achieve whatever goals they have set out, weight loss or otherwise.
     
    And then there are those who want to do it, but just fall short of actually changing their life for it. And these people won’t commit to the programme and achieve their goals until they’re ready for it, and there’s nothing any friend, family member or professional such as myself can do. I’ve had to give clients a talking to over the years and ask them to assess whether they are really dedicated to what they signed up for. The results don’t come and you have the same conversation over and over again and yet nothing changes or moves forward. I won't lie, it is really frustrating, but until that person is ready no amount of cheering, talking, motivating or tough love will do any good.
     
    But we can still keep trying, one step at a time. And just maybe one day we'll get there :-) 

     

    which-step-have-you-reached-today2

  14. We do it every year…go on our hols, have a relaxing and great time and come home all refreshed, vowing to book more holidays. A week later…it’s all forgotten and reality is back in full swing. Sound familiar?

     Unfortunately, yes.

     I just had a week off for a ‘staycation’ and spent it pottering about my garden in the sunshine, intermitted with naps in my hammock, naps on my lounge, naps in my bed, swimming, time with friends and the obligatory ‘I didn’t mean to eat and drink so much but ooops I ate and drunk too much’. I didn’t step foot in a gym or even put my trainers on once. I literally have no idea how much sleep I had but it was LOADS. It was what my life could be if I was rich and didn’t need to work. And felt amazing for it. Come my first day back at work, I was relaxed, my muscles felt rested and I missed my garden already.

     A week down with 20 PT sessions and seven classes under my belt I was knackered, aching and ready for the next break! In fact, I felt utterly broken. I’ve no doubt those of you reading this, particularly with kids are feeling the exact same way!

     What this does reiterate to me is that having a holiday is beneficial to your health and we should all make time for one. It doesn’t have to be a trip abroad, or even away at all, but just time out of our busy lives to reset, refresh and reenergise; a time to make memories, rest our bodies and souls and remember to pull ourselves out now again when we get caught up in the chaos of busy lives. Because happy and healthy lives aren’t just about eating fruit and veg and the odd spin class, but about happy and healthy minds and souls.

    So book your next break, for the good of your health :-)

  15. I’m sure you’ve all seen it online but if not – this woman was sniggered at for how she looked in her shorts.

    Body shaming exists, it’s not ok but given we live in such a looks, body & celeb obsessed culture I at least vaguely understand why it happens. What I cannot fathom is why exactly this woman was being commented about, I mean what on earth is wrong with how she looks in her shorts?!?!? She has fabulous legs! It just shows that if you strive and work to look how you think others will approve of, you’ll never stop as you’ll never please everyone. And like this woman quite rightly pointed out, not everyone has a thick enough skin to take such comments. Why can’t we all just stick together and support each other?

    A passing look, a judgmental sneer or supposed small comment can make a huge impact on someone’s self-esteem. I’ve seen it throughout the industry my whole life, I’ve experienced myself and seen the effects on friends and clients when it’s happened to them. And I even made the mistake recently of innocently asking someone if they were ok because they looked really unhappy and didn't realised I'd caught her on a bad day and hit a nerve. So I say bugger what anyone else thinks, keep our mouths closed and just make you sure we are happy and healthy in ourselves!

    #vitalitynotvanity

  16. “I’m on a diet”….four words I simply LOATHE.

    We are ALL technically on a diet, because the words mean the food that you consume in order to feed your body, yet somehow it has become the complete opposite and used when we are depriving, restricting and confining to a set of rules.

    Whenever someone says they are following a diet, I remind them that they shouldn’t be on a ‘diet’ but rather a healthy lifestyle. I remind them that diets don’t work, are depressing and short term and that by making healthy, long term changes then their results will actually keep. I know, I’m so bloody annoying aren’t I? Such a party pooper. But I’m right and so offer no apologies for being a pain in the butt.

     Think of saving for something. If you cut back to the bare minimum expenditure and shove every other spare dime into a savings account, then surely in no time you’ll have HEAPS stashed away. But can you live like that long term or will you be miserable when you have to keep saying “sorry I can’t”? Or if you save less over a longer period of time and still allow yourself some small pleasures just to make quality of life, which strategy will be more profitable over time? The same goes for your so called ‘diet’.

    If you want to tell me about your new revolutionary diet I will stop you before you even start…

    “But you shred 5lbs a day...” NO not interested, it’s garbage.

    “No but if you eat at these certain times you burn twice as much...” NOPE. Not interested.

    “But I got a 6 pack in 3 minutes...” SHUSH NOW. Come back to me in 3 weeks and see how you feel.

    The only DIET you should be interested in is the one made up of fresh, healthy and colourful food; of home cooked meals; limited of junk and heavy booze and with treats and lovely things thrown in so that you enjoy your life. Now THAT sounds like a diet I can enjoy…and stick to ;-)

     

    #vitalitynotvanity

  17. I'm not going to lie, today's blog post is a bit of a cop out...I've not had a good 7 days at all. It's been one of those where every possible expense and bill has come at once along with three separate household items packing up on me and needing repair; a fire emergency at my gym; a client very sadly and suddenly having to stop training and all whilst in the final prep stages of throwing my best mate's hen over the weekend. On Sunday I was comatose and happy to hide away from the world for a day in my jammies!

    So I'm sorry but my brain isn't feeling particularly motivated or inspired at the moment! And the general mood of us all seems to be about the same given the complete and utter mess this country seems to be in right now. 

    I am, however, full of love for my mates after all our hard work paid off and we threw a relaxed yet fabulously fun hen for the dashing bride. And so when I saw this, I went 'yep' and smiled. And so I share in the hope that it will do the same for you. And that next week I will have something more interesting to talk to you about!

    0e983548-1efe-4b94-ba1a-b899ff80899a