Thursday, 31 October 2013

'The fasting and the furious'

There is one 'weight loss method' that makes me furious, and that is 'fasting'. I'm sure everyone knows what fasting is, but just in case some of you don't, its simply starving your body of nutrients. A common form of fasting is known as 'IF', or 'intermittent fasting'. This is where you will go a set amount of hours a day without nutrients. This can be used in different ways - 16-20 hours a day, every other day, every three days, twice a week, once a week, once every two weeks or once every three weeks.

IF has been shown to lose fat, but it is not healthy or sustainable. As I always say, If you can't do it for either a very long time, or forever, then there is simply no point in doing it in the first place.

A major negative of fasting, is the loss of muscle mass. When you starve your body, most people think you will shed fat, but you also shed muscle mass, which is not healthy, and definitely not the intention. Muscle is what gives your body shape, so if you lose that, you also lose your shape. After all, i'm sure everyone wants a slim body with great shape, so make sure you don't starve your body.

Your body is at its best when it is fully fueled with the correct nutrients. Its similar to a racing car - if the car has enough fuel, engine oil, coolant, gearbox oil, tyre pressures and so on, its going to perform at its best. Take away any one of those things, or even reduce them, the car will not be able to perform at its best. So if you don't keep your body fueled correctly and regularly, your performance will suffer. A lot of people moan about their jobs, but imagine if you are also 'under fueled' because of your IF diet, you will literally hate being at work. Your concentration will suffer too, which will make being at work even harder, but on a serious note - if your concentration and alertness are 'low', driving will not be safe!

If you are looking to build muscle, then IF will not help, as it will play havoc with your hormones (which are used to build muscle). Also, its never a good idea to have messed up hormones (girls will know!)

Intermittent fasting, to me, seems like another 'fad diet', that will maybe work in the short term. But there are downsides to it, and the fact that you can't do it long term, or forever, makes it pointless to start.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Get fit on a budget

One thing that I hear from time to time, is that people can't afford a gym membership. I honestly have to say that only a small percent of those people actually cannot afford one, because most people who say they can't, are out clubbing, going to bars, 3 holidays a year and so on. So, some people can simply make a few cut backs if they are serious about getting into shape and improving their health. But here are some ways that you can get fit/lose weight/increase muscle tone whilst not draining your bank account.

1) Walking/running
This is actually completely free, and from what I have personally seen, its becoming more popular. Going for walks or runs is a great form of cardio and can be done at any age. The older you get, the runs will turn to walks, but walking is still a great form of exercise. Both can burn calories - therefore fat, and also increase your cardio - therefore making you a 'fitter' individual.

2) Purchase a stationary bike/treadmill
By going down this route, yes you will have to spend a little bit of money, but it may only work out the same as 2-5 months of a gym membership, and you actually own the equipment. You can pick up an exercise bike for around £60-100, or a treadmill for around £150 and upwards. As I said, you will have to spend a little, but its not a huge purchase, and its a great way of being able to exercise anytime you want. Its particularly helpful if you have a busy work schedule or have children.

3) Purchase some home weights
Again, you will have to spend a little bit of money, but you will be able to get a decent weights set for under £100. This can include some weights, bars and a bench. With this equipment, you will be able to gain more muscle mass (if that's your goal) or use it for circuit training to blast those calories. Some people don't like working out with weights, whilst others do, its all about personal preference.

4) Purchase boxing equipment
Boxing is known to be an awesome workout, burning tons of calories and increase muscle tone. If you look at the top ranked boxers, they are in great shape, and its because of the training they do. You can purchase a punch bag, gloves and a skipping rope for less than £100. If you have a partner, you can purchase some mitts and train together. Again, an inexpensive way to get fit.

5) Purchase a bike
This can be the most expensive method, depending what kind of bike riding you want to do. If you simply want to ride a bike, you can pick up a cheap bike, but if you want to do some cross country riding, you would need to pick up a more expensive bike with a decent suspension system (but even so, there are some great deals out there!). The great thing is you make one purchase and you can use it as many times as you want, and you own that piece of equipment.

I hope these tips help you if you are on a budget but still want to get fit. 'Back in the day', there were not that many gyms around, and these tips were common ways of people getting fit, so they work!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Steroids - Don't even bother....

This morning I have seen a huge debate over Twitter regarding steroids, and it has stemmed from Jodie Marsh's tv show last night, where she went to find out the truth about steroids.

I thought she may have been one sided from the start, but I was wrong. She spoke to a variety of people, to gain more of an insight into the world of steroids. The first half of the show she seemed to have warmed towards steroids, but that didn't last long - she soon disliked them. Seeing some of the side effects that steroids can have, really begs the question of 'why on earth would you take them?'. For example, a female bodybuilder on the show had her eyes pretty much explode with blood during some squats, and a male bodybuilder/model had his heart pretty much explode. Granted, it is not a sure thing that everyone will get those side effects, as they are extreme, but would you want to take the risk? I certainly wouldn't.

Using steroids is cheating, hence why its a banned substance. Also, in my opinion, its lazy, and ill explain why. Some people use steroids because they want to get huge and win the top bodybuilding competitions (where steroids are used - top bodybuilders have admitted to using them, so if one guys takes them, others follow) but some people use them because they simply cannot be bothered to put the hard work that is required in the gym and the kitchen. You still need to work out if you do use steroids, but it is a lazier approach, even people who have used them have said that. It does take a lot of hard graft to get in great shape naturally, and (like a lot of people in life) they just want a 'quick fix', rather than work their ass off.

Should you use steroids? My honest opinion is no. The whole point of working out is to be fit and healthy, and having side effects that are as horrific as those of steroids, that is not being fit and healthy. The main issue is (and Miss Marsh said this herself) as long as one person is using steroids, the cycle will never stop. If you simply want to be muscular, you can achieve that by having a muscle building diet and hitting the gym hard. Steroids do work, that's why people take them, but its just not worth it...

If you are still considering using steroids, please just do some research first.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Social networking sites and your career

I mostly post about fitness and nutrition, but I do post about 'lifestyle' too. Considering how popular social networking sites are these days, many people don't seem to realise the downside to sites such as Facebook. 

I'm 23 years old, and I like to think of myself as grown up and mature, and I also like to think that my social networking pages reflect that. Over the last year I have tweaked my pages so they come across as more 'professional'. Why have I done that? Well, this year I have started my own business (actually started it so everything is in place for the future, rather than 'full on' now...) and I talk to clients, other companies and people that I network with. If my Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin pages made me look immature and stupid, that is the impression others will have of me, which is obviously a bad thing! I've also added custom content such as cover photos to give them a personal touch.

Being 23, I am still young, but that does not mean I should act young. I know many people around the age of 23, and some of them have social networking pages that are rather embarrassing to be honest! 'Liking' pages that are either controversial or obscene, posting status's and pictures that should be kept private etc etc. I have come across people that work in a professional environment and have ridiuclous status's, which brings me onto this.... status's....

If you don't like your job or boss, that is fair enough, but don't go and slag them off on your Facebook or Twitter! Employers now, more than ever, go onto their employee's social networking pages, and if they see obscene things you have written...well...it doesn't look good! Especially if you are in a job that revolves around meeting new clients, because if those new clients search for you over social media, they will see the type of person that you appear to be! People have been fired because of what they put on social sites, there has been articles in many popular magazines about the 'do's and don'ts' of social media, so it is actually a serious thing. How would you feel if you lost your job because you couldn't help writing something bad on Facebook?...

Obviously it does depend what industry you are in, but I think its wise to appear mature and grown up regardless what your job is. Myself and many others that I know have deleted a lot of people from Facebook because of what they always put on there, it's just annoying, like they haven't grown up since the age of 15! Those people just don't seem to see what they are doing. If you are someone who works in a bank or a similar job, which is a very professional environment, by having tons of pictures on your Facebook of you getting drunk out of your mind, and status's always referring to going out getting drunk - do you think that suits your job? no, will it impress your boss? no, will it impress potential clients? no. A lot of people nowadays who are going to meet people for their job, search for them on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, I personally do. They do this so they have a rough idea who they are about to meet and talk to, and what kind of person they are. Just imagine if you were trying to land a client, and they search for you and see tons of pictures of you drunk and always moaning about your job and boss... don't be surprised if they cancel the meeting! 

Everyone has a personal life, and everyone has the right to do what they want with it, but you really should keep your personal life and business life separate. Be careful with what you post over the web, what pictures you upload, pages you 'like' and so on. This can really help improve your image, which in turn can improve your career. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How much protein do you ACTUALLY need

This is a very common question, and to be honest, with all of the research I have done and numerous trainers and nutritionists that I have spoken too, it seems like there is no 'perfect' amount of protein that you should consume.

From what I know myself and have found out, it seems that anywhere from 1-2g per lb body weight is enough. But there's a problem, and that is the fact everyone is different so is their protein needs and absorption rates. Some guys find that packing on muscle is quite easy, whereas others find it very hard, so they need more of everything including protein.

In simple terms, if you want to gain muscle and get big, then you need to eat more. If you want to lose weight, you eat less right? well its the opposite to get big. Everyone knows the role of protein within the body, so if you want to add muscle mass, then you need more of it, but you will have to experiment yourself with how much YOU need. Just because one trainer says 'You need 1.2g protein per lb body weight', does NOT mean that if you follow that instruction, you will become 'hench'.

As with anything, find your own limits and needs. In the gym, everyone has their limits, and everyone is different, it is exactly the same when it comes to nutrition. The nutrition side of muscle building is pretty much 'recovery'. You're trying to repair, recover your body to get stronger and ready for the next workout. I personally noticed a difference when upping my protein intake and eating more in general. Before I used to feel like I needed 2-3 days to recover, but after upping my nutrition, I felt find after just 1 day rest!

Play about with your nutrition until you find what works for you. But as mentioned, it seems to be between 1-2g protein per lb body weight. Obviously depends on your goals as well - if you just want a bit of muscle, you don't need to eat like a horse! but if you want to get big and muscular, then you obviously need more food!

Winter, exercise and nutrition

For those of you reading who live in the UK, it very much looks like winter is now here. Its very easy to put on weight over the winter months, because its cold, wet, even snowy! which makes it easy to have the 'winter warmer' meals that can often be fatty and calorific. What makes it worse, is that a lot of people lose motivation to exercise throughout the winter.

Yes, when its cold, its horrible having to get out of bed in the morning, walking to work, or standing on a platform at the train station etc etc, but end of the day, it has to be done. Firstly, how can you help that? Well, dress appropriately! I remember when I used to get the train to college and seeing people shivering on the platform because they dressed in pretty much summer wear! crazy people... Secondly, stop moaning about it being cold, we live in the UK, it WILL be cold in the winter. I remember being in Australia in December, and it was depressing - hardly any signs of Christmas, and it was blue sky and hot, didn't feel right, so I flew home! It instantly felt like Christmas, yes it was cold (walking out of Heathrow in shorts, tank top and flip flops really didnt help!), but that's part of it!

Working out/training in the winter can sometimes feel like a chore... but it really shouldn't. It's just like in the summer - some people would rather go in the garden and sunbathe instead of having a workout. You just have to remind yourself why you started getting in shape in the first place. Some gyms still love to have the air con on full blast in the middle of winter, which can be a tad annoying, so if your gym does that - put another layer or two on, and once you warm up you can go back to tank top and shorts! If you keep making excuses of 'Its too hot outside', 'Its too cold', 'The gym is too hot', 'The gym is too cold', you will never get in shape because your training will always be on and off.

The colder it gets, people tend to be put off by being in the kitchen making a healthy meal, but that really shouldn't stop you. To be honest, there's not a lot more I can say other than 'get your lazy butt in the kitchen!'. If you want a good physique, you just have to knuckle down and get on with it. Humans are excellent at learning habits, so why not learn good habits? such as eating healthy and exercising?

Whether its cold, hot, snowing, raining, you can still exercise and cook healthy meals. During the winter, considering its a time when the excuses come out to play.... make sure you have things around you that remind you why you started getting in shape to begin with - it
will help motivate you on days when you feel like using one of those silly excuses...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Weight loss Vs Fat loss

Weight loss and fat loss are two terms that seem to be used to mean the same thing, when in fact, they are very different. I personally use both, purely because, saying 'fat loss' can come across as a bit rude to someone (because of the word 'fat') so 'weight loss' is sometimes a bit gentler, but I usually use 'fat loss'.

Weight loss refers to anything of your body that weighs anything. For instance, these 'crash diets' don't just shed some fat, they will also shed water and muscle mass - therefore shedding general 'weight' of your body. Fat loss is when you are eating healthy, training hard, so you are burning fat but maintaining healthy amounts of fluid and keeping (or building) muscle mass. So you are just dropping body fat, which obviously lowers your weight but gives you shape.

To be honest, it does bug me when I see people who go on these crash diets, and say they are losing over a stone a week, because they think its fat that they are losing, when its really not. If you put your body through a harsh 'diet plan', it will almost go into shock and actually keep a certain amount of fat, because it thinks its being starved, so it keeps some fat to use as future energy. Firstly, you cannot keep that kind of diet up for the rest of your life, or even long term, so its completely pointless. Secondly, because your body keeps some of the fat, it will shed the muscle because it doesn't need it all to keep on functioning (hence why you stop weight lifting for a couple of months, you would have lost muscle mass - your body breaks it down).

So you want to be wary of the two terms and how diet/fitness companies use them. The term 'fat loss' is the one you want to stick too. As mentioned above, the crash diets lose 'weight', but is it always the weight you want to lose? no....

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Germs at the gym!

It's quite scary when you realise how many germs are lurking in the gym. You can understand why though - lots of people sweating in the gym, not all of them wiping down equipment, if someone has a cold that can so easily spread etc etc.

A lot of gyms now have a policy that you have to bring a towel with you in the gym and wipe down the equipment after you have used it, so others don't have to sit/lay down in your sweat - that should be a must in every gym!

How to help keep germs away?

To start with, as mentioned above, take a towel with you (preferably a smaller one than your bath towel) and use it to lay on/sit on when using equipment and to wipe down the equipment. This will get rid of your sweat so someone else doesn't have to come and sit or lay in it. If you are feeling under the weather, it's not always wise to go the gym and workout, sometimes its best to stay at home and rest. If your ill and you workout, it can pump the virus around your body faster and end up more ill! believe me, that's happened to me before! An obvious thing to do, and if anyone does not do this, what the hell is wrong with you?? wash your hands after using the lavatory! and, depending where you have come from (you may work at a job that you pick up germs on your hands) wash your hands before entering the gym. I have even seen guys sneezing over gym equipment! that's just disgusting... respect the equipment and those around you and you will not only have a better workout, but you will be healthier too!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Dealing with an injury

Injuries can happen whether you play sport, workout, keep fit, go to work, pretty much anywhere! As annoying as they are, you can't rush the recovery time.

I have had a wrist injury for 6 and a half weeks now, still unsure what caused it, but my best guess would be during a dumbbell workout. It has annoyed me big time, I hate being unable to workout and at times I have thought 'Ah sod this, just workout and put up with it!' - I'm glad I never did that!

When you have an injury and there is pain there, it's your body's way of telling you to stop and let it rest and heal. If you try and carry on with your activities (whatever they may be) you're simply going to make the injury worse, or even permanent. You need to let your body recover properly, so that when you can go back to whatever you were doing, you won't have to worry about it, constantly thinking it's 'going to go' again.

Depending on your situation and goals, if you injure one part of your body, you could work on other parts. For example, if you injure your shoulder, you could still work on your legs and abs (as long as the exercises you do don't hurt your shoulder). So there are ways around injuries, but sometimes you simply need to rest it. Your body is an amazing machine, it does heal itself, but only if you give it the chance.

I have found out that whilst waiting for my wrist to recover, as annoying as it is, I know I have made the right decision by resting it, so that when I can start working out, I know I won't have to worry about my wrist.

So for you guys out there that have injuries, be smart, let your body heal, DON'T try and work through the pain - I know there is a saying of 'no pain no gain', but when it comes to injuries, anyone who works through an injury is insane!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Hench Nutrition

I first came across Hench Nutrition on Amazon, whilst browsing for products. I had a query so I emailed them, and that turned out to become a friendship with the founder of the company.

I was sent some products to try, one of them being 'protein pancakes', the rest will have to wait until I have recovered from my injury. I have never been someone to regularly have pancakes, I haven't had them in a while, and I have never had protein pancakes, so I didn't know what to expect. The protein pancakes are unflavoured, so I decided to try one with coco (low fat, low sugar) and one with fruit. Obviously, adding coco will add a little bit of fat and sugar, but I'm sure it would be a popular flavour to have. The nutrition content of the pancakes are actually really good, so adding a bit of chocolate 'won't' harm them too much. The nutrition content is as follows:

Per 40g (1-2 pancakes)
Energy: 147 calories
Protein: 24.9g
Fat: 1.7g
Carbohydrates: 8.3
of which sugars: 0.2

Both the chocolate flavoured and fruit topped pancakes tasted nice, and its great knowing your eating pancakes, but they are actually healthy! Pancakes are a very common and much loved dish, and the fact that you can purchase protein pancakes that are quick and easy to make, I think, is great. I would definitely recommend these - they are great for breakfast but also for a snack if you are short for time.

'Hench Nutrition' provide great products at very competitive prices, but also, they provide some of the best customer service I have ever had. It has been a pleasure to speak to Hench over the last 6 months or so, and I've not had one complaint.

I think it is very hard to come into the supplement industry when there are already a number of well established brands that people are likely to go to first. It is similar to the technology industry - Apple are still 'the best', and if a new company brought out a tablet and charged the same price as the Apple ipad, people are most likely going to purchase the ipad. I take my hat off to Hench, I think they have brought out some great products that work, and there brand image is very strong. Its a pleasure to now be a Hench Nutrition athlete, and I hope many more people try their products and stick with them! Hench Nutrition is only going to get better!

Please visit their website - www.henchnutrition.com

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Weight loss - the individual way

We live in a world where image seems to be everything, and a lot of people feel under pressure to look a certain way. Its more common with women than men. Women tend to feel the need to be thin and fit into a size 6. Well, that is complete garbage. Everyone is different.

The scales used to be (and still are with some people) the point of reference for people's weight loss/muscle gain goals. But I advise my clients to go by how you look and feel. For example - If you weigh 16 stone and have a target weight of 11, and once you get to that weight, you're still not happy, then that goal weight was a waste of time. You could of actually been happy at 12 stone! who knows? You shouldn't worry about dress sizes or what magazines say, you should workout, train hard, eat healthy, live a healthy lifestyle and when you reach a point where you can look in the mirror and be happy with what you see, then you have reached your actual goal weight.

Some people are so obsessed with being a certain dress size that they literally starve their body, keeping it malnourished just to fit into a certain size dress. Is that any sort of way to live your life? to be happy? hell no! Stop worrying about that kind of stuff, there is no 'correct dress size', their is no 'correct body shape'. If you notice, some of the 'hottest women in the world', that have been voted by magazines/tv shows, actually have a body with shape? (I'm not saying shape as in overweight/curvy, I'm saying shape as in - not being jet thin and showing off your ribs!) Girls - if you want to have a good body, attract guy attention etc, then get in the gym, get a 'fit body' rather than a 'thin body'. Not only will you look 100x better, but you will be far healthier than if you keep your body starved.

GTA 5 review

The release of this game had one of the biggest hypes I have seen, and I'm not surprised. The grand theft auto series must be one of the most popular, and for obvious reasons - guns, cars, theft, killing, drugs, gangs, mafia, the list goes on. Now, I'm not saying all of those things are wonderful, but as a game, that's what people like. The new game cost around £170M to make (so I heard), which is more than a lot of movies! But I did read that it brought in around 800 million within a few days....I guess people liked it! Right, time to review...

I have played the game and actually completed all of the missions, which, isn't a great thing. Its a very short story, which was a bit disappointing. I remember seeing the first trailer, and it gave the impression that there are general missions but also a lot of heists that you perform with your crew. There are only a few of those....which was a let down. I think that is the biggest problem with the game, its just not long enough.

Moving onto the positives.

The graphics I think are great - I'm sure a lot of people will say they aren't as good as the formula 1 game or call of duty etc.. but its pretty much an arcade style game. Its not an out an out racing game, nor is it an out and out shooter game, its like - everything rolled into one, and I think the graphics are more than good enough for the type of game. The variety of cars, clothes and weapons is very impressive. I love the fact you can really modify your cars, especially performance wise. Its great to add personal touches like clothing and tattoos, so that everyone who plays the game will have different looking characters - nice touch. Was another little let down that there are a lack of hairstyles (coming from a customisation point of view), except with Franklin. The map is actually a lot bigger than it looks. I remember gta 3 and san andreas that had huge maps, but this one seemed small, but when you play it, driving around, it is larger than it looks.

I think the story of the game is great, how the characters meet, the personal side of their lives, their different personalities, the detail of the missions. It is literally like creating a movie and writing a script, and I think the team that did that for this game are incredible. I love that they have included the stock market - its a real modern thing to have on the game, as well as being able to purchase a variety of vehicles, planes and bikes.

It is such a shame though, that the 'bawsaq' stock exchange is nearly always unavailable, especially when you're wanting to do the assassination missions where you need to put money on the stocks. I have googled that problem and a lot of people are saying that its because of the lack of servers available. Well, Rockstar should have anticipated how big the game would be, and had the right gear in place, because its hugely frustrating to sit there not being able to do anything because its not working.

Overall, It is a great edition to the grand theft auto series. There are some problems with it, and hopefully they will either get ironed out or the next game will be even better!  A must buy though

So, that's my quick review of the game, Some negatives but mostly positive!