Anyone who knows me will know I’ve gone 180 on my previous lifestyle and have actually begun listening to, and working with – not against – my body. I joined the gym proper nearly a year ago and make a concerted effort to not only get there, but do well there a few times a week. Where once I’d run a 5K, do a few sit-ups and call it a day, I’ve entered the world of equipment, reps and focus.
Although it’s taking a while to get out of the ingrained mindset of ‘no scale weight-loss = no change’ (more really good bits on that below), my clothes fit better, I feel more confident and I’ve so much more energy. I’m beginning to see changes I’d never have imagined.
One such change was glancing down at my leg during a game of pool in Cyprus and noticing that my pin-leg, little twiglet, so-small-you-can-get-a-hand-round calf had an ACTUAL MUSCLE STICKING OUT. Cue me hopping round the table screaming at Will, poor chap, to “FEEL THIS!”
A lot of my routine and lifestyle is developed by my own research – and there’s a lot of bullshit out there. One such source of solid information is LRD Lifestyle Online Health & Fitness Coaching.
She has been so helpful with my random questions about form, which exercises work best and diet. Everyone say it with me: a calorie is a calorie.
She frequently posts short and sweet videos about timely and interesting issues in the industry, particularly about Mabel down the road trying to convince you onto ‘fat-busting tea’ and isn’t afraid to call big influencers out on their bullshit. Well worth a follow and if you sign up, you can expect a wealth of knowledge and support.
What’s your background in fitness and health?
I was always a sporty kid – I sprinted for an athletics club and played football. I found my way into the gym and became a gym instructor, a group exercise instructor (Bodypump, Boxing and Spinning if I couldn’t avoid it..) and then qualified as a personal trainer. At that point, I didn’t really like what the fitness industry was about, so I stepped away into the finance industry. I still kept myself in fairly decent shape and went to the gym 3-4 times per week and found myself getting more into the weights side of it than the cardio equipment.
I didn’t get into bodybuilding until I was north of 40 – I competed in my first competition just before my 42nd birthday and have been absolutely obsessed with it ever since. I think being an extreme person is why it appealed to me. It is 24/7 and every decision I make will affect how I look on stage. Crazy! I got back into the coaching side of it through people asking for advice, really. I don’t work with bodybuilding clients as (ironically as I do it myself) bodybuilding is pretty extreme (at competition level) and isn’t always the best thing healthwise. I work with general population clients and really encourage the habit forming side of health and fitness.
The worst health / fitness myth you’ve ever heard and why it’s wrong?
Ugh, so many out there. I have rants on my FB page on the regular about all the crap that is floating about. It’s so hard for people to know what is right and what isn’t. I am evidence-based on the whole – so this means understanding the science behind why something works and applying critical thinking. Why does something work?
A big one (helped by a certain curly haired multi-millionaire with an annoying voice) is the ‘afterburn’ of exercise, particularly HIIT or interval training. People rolling around all day thinking they’ve ‘revved up their metabolism’ because they jumped around for 20 minutes. Sorry sunshine. The EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) is a bit of a myth. Yes your metabolism will be raised but so minimally that there is the teeniest tiniest affect.
Genuinely, you’re better off saving your knees and ligaments and going for a nice walk with the dog.
Is there a simple change someone can make that would make a huge difference to their fitness game?
It depends on their current fitness level. I always like to meet people where they are (metaphorically not physically as obviously I work online!) so it varies greatly. It also depends on their current lifestyle habits. But, in general, everyone could always do with more daylight, more fresh air, to concentrate on their rest and recovery and not to sweat the small stuff.
Biggest piece of advice – adherence and consistency is key so find something you enjoy (or hate the least).
Some people can’t afford to join the gym – what else can they do?
Home-based exercise is more tricky from an equipment point of view but absolutely can be done. There are loads of Youtube videos giving simple guides and ways of exercising using only bodyweight. I have a couple of clients who work out at home and they are seeing great results.
What’s the best way to lose weight?
Again, it completely depends. Weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing. It is easy to lose weight by not eating enough. However, losing fat in a healthy and sustainable way is more difficult. I would say the following are the cornerstones and although the concepts are straightforward, they are far from easy to execute: Lift weights, be in a very slight calorie deficit, get plenty of steps in and prioritise sleep.
It is such a complex subject with so many moving parts and elements that it would be unethical of me to give a definitive answer. To me, weight loss is not the same as improving health, having better body composition (body fat/muscle ratio), enjoying a healthy relationship with food, forming good habits and finding ways to improve yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
I love that there seems to be more of a movement towards women wanting to be strong and the whole ‘strong is sexy’ ethos.
What would you say to the women worried about getting ‘bigger’ at the gym?
Once I stopped laughing I’d ask them for their tips…women’s hormone profile means that we typically have to work extremely hard to build muscle. Believe me, I tick every single box in order to build muscle and it is still a very slow process. It is a bit like someone avoiding driving in case they accidentally turn into Lewis Hamilton or not going for a jog in case they become Mo Farah. It’s just a ridiculous concept! If a woman goes to the gym and lifts weight they will change shape, be smaller at the same weight (who cares about weight if your waist is 2 inches smaller?) and get a banging body.
Losing weight just makes you a smaller saggier version of before. Lifting weights will give you that lovely shape and bring other benefits like improved bone density, being stronger etc. Girls who lift look a thousand times better than those who don’t in my opinion. Who doesn’t want a peachy bum and nice defined shoulders in a little black dress? Getting big veiny biceps doesn’t happen accidentally so for anyone who is worried, don’t be
Give me your opinion (no holds barred) on the celebrity ‘fat-busting tea’ trend / Instagram in general?
Irresponsible, unethical and sickening. Basically preying on people’s insecurities to make a bit of dollar. It is indicative of our ‘have it now’ culture and people believe there is a quick fix. There isn’t. I’ve had a right rant about this on my FB page.