Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas - the protein holiday

Bit of an odd post title, but an interesting one. I was speaking with a personal trainer friend of mine, and he said to me "I love xmas mate, it's the protein holiday!". I had to ask, "protein holiday?", and he responded with "yep! all the chicken, turkey, real ham joints, sausages, some people have duck too! it's the holiday filled with protein!". When he put it like that, I had to agree. 

The majority of people's xmas dinners will be unhealthy, and I can completely see why. Unless you're into health, nutrition, fitness and cooking, you're not going to worry about making a healthy xmas dinner. It's easier to buy the cheaper meats, fatty gravy, calorie packed stuffing and so on. But you can make a healthy xmas dinner. There's not that much more time and effort that you have to spend to make a traditionally unhealthy dinner, healthy.

First thing's first, get the good quality meats. Whether you're buying turkey, chicken, duck, pork, lamb, sausages, ham joints, go for the better quality - will have more protein and a lot less fat. Next is the veg. You can't go too wrong with vegetables to be honest, the cheaper ones just tend to taste a bit different, and can be grown a little unhealthily. But even the cheapest veg is better than no veg. Vegetables are great for 'packing out' a meal - adds bulk to the meal, makes you feel fuller and doesn't contain many calories. With the gravy, most people will go for a cheap ready made or gravy granules. They will be less healthy, but obviously it's very quick and convenient. There are many recipes out there to make your own, and a lot of them are healthy recipes. The one my family have is from Jamie Oliver, takes a little time to prepare but it is extremely nice and is healthier than the traditional gravy.

Now, it's not just the xmas dinner itself that can have a good amount of protein, it's the snacks too. Another xmas favourite is salmon (not fillets or tin salmon). A great snack to have is salmon and cheese in a bagel or sandwich. Salmon is amazingly healthy and tastes great. You don't just have to have the unhealthy pastry foods, which don't tend to fill you up that much, which means you eat more. The more protein you eat, but quicker you'll get full up - meaning you eat less but are still full.

I guess it comes down to the individual though, do you want to have a healthier xmas? do you want to spend that little bit more time and effort? do you want to hit the new year in a slightly healthier position? Just because you make a xmas dinner more healthy, doesn't mean it's any less nice. My xmas day food is incredible and the fact it's healthier is great bonus!

Have a wonderful Xmas, enjoy yourselves but don't go overboard! Keep your fitness goals in mind!

Lee Gregory Fitness 

Friday, 19 December 2014

YOU are your own worst enemy

When it comes to improving your physique and fitness levels, the toughest obstacle you can often come up against, is yourself. Granted, there will be certain factors that get in the way which are out of your control, but most of the time it's yourself. Let me explain.

If you don't have any medical problems, no current or permanent injuries, then you will be able to train and get into good shape, the only thing that could stop you, is yourself. Is changing your physique easy? not at all, is changing your lifestyle easy? not at all, but are they possible? of course! Getting up in the morning to train is hard, prepping your food for a few days takes effort, being strict with your nutrition takes dedication, working your ass off in the gym takes commitment. BUT....

There will be a voice in your head, one telling you to quit and take a nap, or to sit on the couch and have a few beers. Things won't be easy, you're going to burn, you're going to sweat, you're going to be tired, you're going to feel sick. Those are all things that the body does not like, so it will do it's best to urge you to stop. You have to push through the tough times.

You will get invited to parties, out to bars, clubbing, drinking, takeaways and so on. YOU are the one to say no, or to say yes but keeping everything on track!. YOU are the one to refuse the bad food, to refuse the alcohol, and to stick to your nutrition and training. If you want to go from 20 stone down to 12, you have to give it your all. If you want to go from 'skin and bones' to Dwayne Johnson, you have to give it your all. Going into a nutrition and fitness plan 'half hearted' will give you half of the results, or probably less than half actually.

Other people may tell you, you can't do it, that it's a waste of time. Want my advice on how to deal with those people? Give the finger and prove them wrong. There are two main reasons why people say things like that - 1) because they are overweight themselves and have tried and failed miserably at getting fit. 2) because they are in shape, and you make them look better. Both reasons are selfish to those people. Don't let them bring you down and stop you from doing what you want to do. You have to be strong minded and fight against the negativity.

You really can be your own worst enemy, but you know what? keep fighting, keep trying, keep getting back up when you get knocked down, and believe me, you will succeed. I once got told a saying from a very wise man - "those who succeed do fail, often more than once, but they never ever give up, and that's why they succeed".

Have a great weekend!

Lee Gregory Fitness

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Do you NEED supplements?

Supplements, where to start? they are everywhere these days. In the last 2 years I have personally seen at least 8 NEW supplement brands pop up. Why are so many people going into the supplement industry? Because it's HUGE business.

Many people second guess using supplements because they can be expensive, and also, the range is so large that it can be confusing as to which ones to use. Supplements are mostly used by those who want to build muscle mass, but they can be used for those looking to burn fat too.

Let's get down to it - do you NEED supplements in order to get results? NO! You do not need them to get results, but they can help. Being a nutritionist, and someone who loves their food, I always advise my clients and others to try and get as much nutrients from actual food as they can. Some people do tend to rely on supplements, and their actual food diet is extremely poor - that's not the way to go.

I myself use supplements, but over the past 2 years I have tried many different ones, and have now found a 'base line' of supplements that I use and that works for me. I use whey protein, grounded oats, maltodextrin, bcaa's, glutamine, caffeine, electrolytes, creatine and beta alanine. To be honest with you, I don't use that much though, a few grams here, a few grams there, and then some protein shakes. I know some guys who have a huge amount of supplements everyday, as they are convinced that you need to do that.

First thing's first, get your food diet sorted. If you have a poor food diet, then using supplements isn't going to do that much. Many people are on a budget when it comes to food and supplements, and so am I, but always try and get as much fresh, quality food as you can within your budget, and then with what's left over, you can experiment with supplements. It is an individual thing, just because one supplement will work for one person, doesn't mean you will have the same benefits.

Just remember one thing - every supplement brand is there for a reason, to make money, it is a business after all. Some brands will have poor quality products and still try and charge a fair price, but other brands will have far better quality products and their prices will reflect that. The better quality products will tend to be more expensive, same with many things in life really. But don't get conned into thinking that you actually need supplements otherwise you won't get the body you want. Supplements can make it a heck of a lot easier, and more convenient, but you don't need them if you have your food diet completely sorted out.

Just a quick post today, a few more before Xmas too!

Lee Gregory Fitness

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

You don't have to be wealthy to be healthy

This morning I read an article on the Daily Mail website about a woman, Deanne Wilson, who shops at Waitrose and M&S and spends around £30, and she's on benefits. She had to give up work due to an unfortunate diagnosis of cancer. She does what she can to ensure her and her family eat healthily and shops very wisely. This made me want to do a post about shopping on a budget - you don't have to be wealthy to eat healthy.

Every supermarket has offers, bulk buys and heavily discounted items, you just have to be smart. You can pick up some amazing deals by buying items with a best before date of that same day or the next. Supermarkets will not intentionally sell 'gone off' items (every now and then, one will get left on the shelf) so they heavily discount those items to ensure they get rid of them and still make a tiny profit. This is what Deanne does, she looks out for items that are heavily discounted because of the best before date. She says she always cooks with fresh produce, so if the item has 1 day left, that's fine because she cooks with it the same day. That's smart!

Bulk buying is another great tactic. It may well cost more to start with, but if you save a fair percentage by doing so, it's well worth doing. I personally bulk buy, mainly from Muscle Food (free gift code - LG21156), where I stock up on chicken and beef, and a few other bits. It requires a bit more effort, as I separate all of the chicken and beef into freezer bags so I can get a portion out everyday. It's much easier to buy on the day, but it will be more expensive.

Deanne Wilson is the perfect example of being able to eat healthy, buying produce from the best supermarkets, if you just put in a little time and effort. Follow these quick tips to buy healthy on a budget:

- Bulk buy when healthy foods are on offer

- Do a bit of recon! - go into supermarkets at different times to find out when their 'best before' dates are ending

- Don't try and get everything in one store - you will find great offers on different products in different stores

- Be prepared to put in some effort to prepare foods yourself - don't buy ready cooked/pre-prepared/pre sliced etc etc. Do it yourself, you'll save money and get better in the kitchen

- Make cut backs in other parts of your life to ensure you are eating healthy. Everyone can always make cut backs in certain areas.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Sunday, 14 December 2014

My Xmas survival guide!

With Christmas coming around next week, I'm sure many people are worried what toll it will take on their body. Unless you're not bothered about Xmas and are treating it the same as every other time of year, then you're going to indulge a little bit! Here are some tips to help get you through the holidays without putting on too many pounds!

Accept that you will gain a little! - If you go into the holidays hoping not to put one pound on, then you may want to rethink that strategy. Accept that you will gain some weight, whether it's 1 pound or 10. You will be eating and drinking more than normal, which will naturally add on my weight. By accepting this, you will be more relaxed about it.

Try and get enough sleep! - With the partying, the drinking, the binge eating, the chocolate and so on, your body will need time in order to process all that junk and clear it out of your system - that's when sleep counts! If you're going to bed in the early hours of the morning, then (if you can) have a lay in - give your body time to recover.

Try and be organised! - By having things planned out, you can then sort out what you're eating and when. For example, knowing that you're going to have a night out on a Friday night, you can then ensure you get good calories in during the day, so not only have you eaten well, you will have food in your system prior to drinking booze. When you don't know what you're doing, you can very easily just eat whatever is around - usually the junk!

Don't start too soon! - Just because its Xmas, that doesn't mean you have to eat junk food and drink booze early in the day. Try and eat good, healthy food and drink plenty of water leading up to when you go out.

Watch what you drink! - Alcohol is high in calories, but some are higher than others. A typical lager is probably 'average calories', whereas if you have a cocktail, the amount of calories can very easily shoot through the roof. Mixing different spirits with different mixers, it may taste very nice indeed, but that will lead to a very high calorie drink! So try to not have too many of those kinds of drinks. If you like spirits 'neat', then that's probably a better option as it will be lower in calories than a cocktail, and still packs a kick!

Avoid sports drinks as a hangover cure! - Many people do this, but it's not the best thing to do. Most sports drinks contain a LOT of sugar, which is not good to recover from a night out. Instead, try supplementing with some bcaa's (powder or tablets, prior to going to bed and then when you wake up), foods like banana's (which are high in potassium), green tea, water, and some electrolytes on their own or a pinch of salt.

'Gun-it' in the gym! - Try and get a few high intensity workouts in during the Xmas holidays. By getting a few tough workouts in, it can help sweat out the toxins as well as burning some of those unwanted calories! You will feel a bit better within yourself for doing it, and your body will thank you too!

I hope you all have a great Xmas! Enjoy yourselves, but don't go crazy if you're concerned about your figure!

Lee Gregory Fitness

Friday, 12 December 2014

Fitness New Years Resolutions

It's that time of year! Not long until January 1st, the day when millions of people make a New Years resolution to become fitter and healthier. But unfortunately around 85% of people quit their resolutions by the end of January.

Are you someone who has planned to hit the fitness lifestyle hard on January 1st? 

The thing that bugs me about New Years resolutions, are that many people seem to rely on a 'certain day' in order to start becoming healthy. Many people who plan on getting in shape at the start of a new year tend to fail, and this is why I think that happens.

The 1st of January is in the middle of the winter - It's dark when you get up for work, it's dark when you go home from work, the weather tends to be miserable, its wet and cold. All of those combine to make the perfect recipe for 'lazyness'. Even those who are fitness addicts, will admit that training in the winter months is a little harder and requires a little more effort. So to the newbies out there who plan to start right in the middle of winter, they will struggle. People tend to be more lethargic in the winter, and that seriously affects their motivation to get up and train and to cook healthy meals.

I can understand why all of that happens. I personally find it a tad tougher to get up and train in the winter, purely because us humans don't like the cold. But I still do it, and you eventually get into a 'winter routine' and you're fine. I wrote a blog post a little while ago about starting your New Years resolutions a few weeks before Xmas - that way you kick start things and you don't rely on a 'certain day' to begin. A lot of people will make fitness resolutions purely because its a 'trend', but as soon as it starts to get a bit tough, a bit of a struggle, they quit, as it's the easy thing to do. The whole idea of a New Years resolution is for it to last the whole year, but most people don't quite understand how tough changing your health and fitness can be, and also how long a year is. That's why people will quit early, because the initial 'rush' of everyone starting their resolutions soon dies down and then it's down to you, and the quitting begins.

You shouldn't have to wait for a certain day. If you want to become fitter and healthier, then start anytime of the year, don't wait for that one day. It's also hard to start on the 1st of January, because your body is still recovering from Xmas. All of the effects from the processed foods, the sugar, the alcohol, the late nights - that all takes time to completely work its way out of your system. The effects of Xmas can last a few weeks after the holidays. During that time, you will feel a lot more lethargic.

Don't be one of the people to quit their New Years resolution. If you want to change your body, then start at any time, don't rely on an external stimulus in order to start.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Failing is okay

I always say that failing is perfectly okay, as long as you get back up and try again. It's when you don't get back up, that's when you become a failure. With health, fitness and sport, failing is always going to happen.

I remember back to when I used to play cricket for Essex County Cricket Club, I failed a lot....whether it was with batting, fielding or bowling, I failed, but I always got back up and tried again. You fail when you push yourself passed your limits. If you always stay within your limits, you will most likely not fail, but you also won't progress. I failed because I kept trying new things, learning new skills, and in order to perfect them, I failed a lot, but I kept trying and trying, and in the end I got it right.

If you want to be a professional sportsman/woman, you have to push your mind and body and learn to succeed outside of your comfort zone. This will require a lot of hard work and dedication, but most of all, it will require a huge amount of self belief that you can get back up off the floor and try again. Let's take boxing as an example. There are certain fighters out there that will only stop fighting if their team throws in the towel or they physically cannot continue. They will always get back up and keep fighting until they physically can't. That is an extremely strong and determined mind. Why do they keep getting back up after being knocked down? because they want to win! and you can't win when you're on the floor.

You can apply that to fitness. You want a good body? then you have to train hard, push your body and mind to their limits. Is building muscle hard work? you're dam right it is. Is burning fat hard work? you're dam right it is. Are there times when you feel like just hitting the showers and calling it a day? you're dam right there are. But the ones who are dedicated, the ones who will keep getting back up, they are the ones who will succeed.

So, what are you gonna do? stay knocked down, or get back up and fight?

Lee Gregory Fitness

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

"skinnier the better!" - Really??

There's something that I see regularly on Social Media, and to be honest it tends to be women rather than the men. I'm talking about the 'skinny' pictures and the comments that people write on photos. 

I've lost count with the amount of times I have seen 'weight loss photos' and friends of that person write comments such as "you're so skinny! I'm so jealous!". Is that what people really think and feel? are people actually jealous of those who have turned skinny? I guess so....

If someone goes from plump/overweight to skinny in a relatively short time (with no sign of going to a gym), then they have literally starved their bodies - gone on a very low calorie diet, or some kind of juice diet. Is that healthy? not at all. Women who are 'skinny' tend to have no real body shape, and they also think that because they're not fat, they must be healthy, that's not the case. Being skinny can bring some pretty serious issues. 

The human body is not designed to be skinny, and to maintain a skinny physique, you would have to eat very little, which brings problems. Eating too few calories can lower your energy levels, which affects mood, focus, emotions, work ethic and so on. Being skinny also has a direct impact on your health. By not eating enough, your immune system becomes weakened, which leaves you open to many illnesses and bugs. 

Looking at it from a physique point of view, skinny is not what people call 'attractive'. Being skinny gives you no real shape to your body, it simply shows your bone structure. Being dressed up in a fancy dress or an attractive outfit will probably look fine, because that will cover up the lack of shape. But as soon as you're in a bikini, or summery clothes, or without clothes, the skinny shape will be completely visible, and seeing bones isn't the best thing. 

The main problem is that it does become an obsession. Wanting to be skinny is partly down to 'social pressure', but also down to past experiences. Some people who used to be 'big' could literally go to the other extreme - being skinny. I do understand why those people do it, and if they were bullied for being fat, they would want to be skinny so there is no fat on them, which means they can't be bullied. With cases like that, it's a mental issue, and they can be helped. I'm not a psychiatrist so I won't go into that. But it's more and more common to see people dropping a lot of weight, quickly, so they can be skinny, as they think that's what they should be like. By losing weight like that, you get rid of fat, but as well, fluid and muscle tissue - hence why skinny people don't have any real shape to their bodies. Muscle gives the body good shape, fat gives the body bad shape and skinny gives the body no shape. I follow a lot of athletic women on Twitter and they have great physiques, because they have worked on their muscle size/definition/tone. 

If you starve yourself to get thin, then as soon as you start eating real food, you will put weight straight back on. I would say it's pretty impossible to eat a low calorie diet for the rest of your life, so weight gain is inevitable. However, if you do stick with that diet, then you will consistently have low energy and the other side effects of starving yourself.  

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Post-Christmas Detox

I have had a fair few emails lately to do with detoxing after the Christmas holiday, and I'm not surprised. Christmas only comes around once a year, and people to 'let themselves go', but obviously want to detox and start fresh for the New Year.

First thing's first, You cannot possibly clear a couple of weeks worth of alcohol and unhealthy foods in 3 days, so if you are looking at these '3 day detox' plans, don't even bother. I have seen them around, usually just a 'shake diet' consisting of vitamins and minerals and that's about it. Considering if you get drunk on say, a Friday night, the alcohol affects can last up to around 48 hours. So if you think a detox system' will clear you out after a couple of weeks worth of boozing and binge eating, then think again.

Secondly, stay away from liquid detox plans, as they are pretty useless. One thing that actually detoxifies your body is protein (amino acids), and those kind of plans contain no protein whatsoever. In simple terms, you want to go 'ultra healthy'. Stock up on fresh vegetables, lean proteins, lots of water, green tea, exercise, and that will clear you out a lot better. For your body to detoxify itself, it needs the right nutrients, not just some water with a few vitamins. Green tea is my favourite, its great for clearing your system out, I know many people who drink a few cups of it in the morning after a night out, and it works. Another great product to use is 'BCAA's'. If you have some before you go to sleep after a night of drinking, and then again in the morning, you will feel a lot better. It's the same with eating protein (depends what's easiest for you). As for after Christmas, you can still use them. Having BCAA's everyday for a little while after the holidays have passed, will really help your body to clear the junk out.

People do push the diet aside at Christmas, and I understand that, but you can undo the damage but you just have to put in a bit of effort. It's not like a couple of weeks of boozing and eating bad food will have a permanent effect on your body, but it's always best to clear the toxins out as fast as possible, you'll also feel a whole lot better, and start your New Year off in a far better state!

So, forget the 'gimic' detox plans, stick to real food, vegetables, proteins, a few supplements (green tea, bcaa's) lots of water and exercise. That's what I do, that's what a number of fellow trainers and nutritionists do, and it works for me and them. Give it a try!

I do offer a Detox nutrition guide on my website, simply click the link below:

Lee Gregory Fitness

Saturday, 6 December 2014

'One Size Fits All' - NOT with Fitness!

You can go into a clothing store and buy certain items such as baseball caps that are 'one size only', but when it comes to nutrition and fitness, there's no such thing as 'one size fits all'. Everyone is different, everyone has different needs and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another.

I follow a number of guys in tremendous shape - actors, athletes, personal trainers and guys who just love to workout. They upload their training routines, reps, sets, diets, supplements and so on. I always read them, I always note things down, but I never think 'I have to copy them perfectly', because even if I do, that doesn't mean i'll have a body like theirs. I do try things that others do, and to this day I still do things that I have learned from other people, but I have learned what my body responds to and I am always learning and understanding what works for me, and that is the most important thing. 

It's not a bad thing to copy celebrities or athletes training routines, I'm sure you will get good results, but don't expect to look like that person after a few weeks of copying them. People do expect results to quick, especially if they copy someone who is in awesome shape. Genetics plays a large part - some people simply struggle to pack on lean muscle mass, others struggle to burn fat, others struggle to put on size. 

You need to learn about your own body, learn what exercises are best, what sets and reps are best, nutrition and supplementation, and more. It is trial and error, but once you narrow down what is best for your body, you'll soon start seeing great results. It does take time, but i'ts well worth it. 

So, it's fine to copy others who are in great shape, but don't expect to look like them after copying them. Learn about your own body, learn what you respond to best, and train smart. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Best Way To Burn Fat

I want to start off by saying that this is my opinion, and I know other people will have their own opinions and will disagree with me.

I'm always researching, learning, reading, and follow top nutritionists and personal trainers, and with all that, and my personal experience, I have my own opinion on the best way to burn fat.

Pump that iron!

Back in the day, fat burning used to be running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. These days, if your personal trainer still does that, sack him/her. The way the top trainers do things nowadays is to use weights. Think about it, lifting something remotely heavy requires energy, so using more energy to lift weights will burn more calories. Have you ever helped someone move house? lifting a lot of things? if you have, you'll soon know that you can easily sweat, get out of breathe and feel tired after lifting heavy objects, it's the same with weight lifting.

Now, you don't need to train like a bodybuilder, you just need to lift weights that cause a tough enough resistance. If you look at a lot of body weight exercises - squats, lunges, press ups, pull ups and so on, they are all good, but by adding weights to them, you will be working harder, therefore burning more calories. As well as those exercises, you have ones such as a deadlift, clean and press, upright barbell row and so on. All exercise which burn calories, and by adding them into a circuit, you will be working hard!

Burning fat is all about pushing your body, and by adding weights you will be pushing your body harder because lifting weights requires more effort. Compare that approach to running on a treadmill. Treadmill running does burn calories, but not as much as weight training. Also, treadmill running is rather boring and people soon become fed up with it, whereas weight training is far more engaging and fun.

I know a guy who used to be fairly overweight and he decided to train like a bodybuilder - just heavy weight training. Me and a few others did tell him that he might want to just concentrate on fat burning first, rather than just worrying how much he could lift. He went ahead with it regardless. After a while there were two differences I noticed - 1) His strength did improve, and 2) he lost body fat. It wasn't that me and the others didn't think training that way would burn fat, we knew it would, but jumping straight into heavy lifting isn't the ideal thing to do, and only worrying about how much he can lift, not exactly the best strategy. But end of the day, the training he did, worked. He shed body fat, and his strength increased, so he just stuck to it, and now he is in pretty good shape.

So, before you think you should go straight to the cardio machines to burn body fat, give the weights a try. I advise you train with someone experienced with weights, or hire a personal trainer, otherwise you could pick up an injury.

Lee Gregory Fitness