Wednesday, 30 September 2015

If It Fits Your Macros! (IIFYM)

'If it fits your macros' is a very common phrase being used these days, but what does it mean? why do people use it?

It simply means working out the amount of calories you can consume per day (protein, fat and carbs), and not going over that number - regardless of what you eat. If your limit was 3000kcal per day, as long as you don't go over that number, then it's fine. This means you could eat healthy foods or junk, but 3000 is 3000. Some people do use the phrase with the only intent of eating healthy foods, whereas I have seen posts on social media showing a McDonald's meal with a comment of "IIFYM, this does, all good!". The number of calories in a fast food meal and a healthy meal could be the same, but the quality of those calories are very different.

It is good to work out your calorie expenditure and the amount of calories you need to consume for your goals, but don't think 'a calorie is a calorie' and as long as you don't go over your limit, you're fine, because you're not. You need to keep the calories as healthy as possible to see the results that you want.

The main thing you need to focus on is eating healthy and keeping things consistent. Yes, you want to stick to a calorie limit, but that doesn't give you freedom to eat what you want as long as you stay on that number - quality first!

Lee Gregory Fitness

(picture is not mine)

Monday, 21 September 2015

'Bigorexia' (muscle dysmorphia) - do you have it?

So this morning I caught part of a program on TV that  focused on 'bigorexia' - a term being used for muscle dysmorphia, where someone is always wanting to be bigger, stronger, more muscular, obsessed with their physique. Apparently 1 in 10 men who go to the gym suffer from it.

'Bigorexia' is a little more complex than one just wanting to be bigger. It is actually a mentality issue where someone who is rather muscular and strong, looks at them self as small and weak. The cause of this is unclear - but there is speculation that it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. 'Bigorexia' is something that takes over someone's life, they become obsessed with working out, obsessed with diet, and if they miss a session or a meal, they can react in a bad way. I personally feel that out of those people who suffer from this, a small-ish percent will actually have something wrong - in terms of a chemical imbalance, or something else in the brain that is at the root of the problem. I believe that a lot of people will end up with 'bigorexia' due to a negative past experience - being bullied at school for example, so they switch to the gym to become 'hyper masculine'. Lifting weights, becoming stronger, bigger, it does result in that person becoming a lot more confident, feeling more powerful, feeling more masculine - and that can become addictive, very adictive.

The one main issue that I personally see with bodybuilding, is that 'perfect' is never achievable - your body is a constant 'work in progress'. I'm sure if you ask Arnold Schwarzenegger if he ever reached 'perfection' with his physique, he would tell you no. He may well have reached 99% of what he wanted, but reaching 100%? I doubt it. When you're building your physique, your muscles will all develop at different rates, hence why you'll hear guys say things like - "My upper chest could be a little bigger", "I need to work on my legs more", "My arms aren't as big as I would like them to be". There is always something that you could improve, and as mentioned, it can become addictive.

The thing with the gym, is that it's you against yourself and the weights. Bodybuilders focus on how they look, but they will also focus on the weights they are lifting - they always want to progress, always want to lift heavier. It really is a challenge - trying to beat what you did the previous day/week/month/year. It can consume someone's life fairly easily, but having other interests that take up time can really help. Me? yes I love to train, it's a passion of mine, I want to improve my body, my fitness, but it doesn't take over my life. I am very strict with the routine that I have - my training, my diet, my supplements, sleep, rest, recovery and so on. BUT! because I have a lot of other things going on in my life, I understand that working out is not all that matters - I have my business that I'm building, a lot of online work, clients, research, investments, family, so all of those things keep me grounded. Some people don't have much else to do except workout - so they become obsessed and addicted, which can easily spiral out of control.

I honestly think muscle dysmorphia, or 'bigorexia', is 100% real, and is more common than people think - just on different levels. The sad fact is that it an wreck peoples lives, and in a small number of cases that I have read, it has even lead to fatalities due to suicide.

'Bigorexia' doesn't really get spoken about, and those who suffer from it don't really have anywhere to turn to. A lot of people will look at 'bigorexia' and think "how stupid, you're in good shape, I have no sympathy for you" - it's just not something people relate to as a 'real problem'. Maybe after some media coverage, it will bring about some awareness.

Lee Gregory Fitness 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Focus T25 - Does It Work?

I'm sure most of you reading this have heard of 'T25' - a workout dvd system that promises the best results. It was designed by a trainer called Sean T (don't actually know his last name, and it's not even on his bio on his website). Anyway, does this system work? or is it just another dvd out there to make cash?

(image not mine, using for illustration purposes only)

The idea is great, and hearing him say about 'everyone has 25 minutes' - that is totally true. Most people do tend to make excuses about not having enough time. Why did a lot of tech companies make smart phones that can do pretty much everything 'on the go'? because lives nowadays are far busier - less time to hit the gym. Can you get in shape by doing 25 minute training sessions a few times per week? of course you can. I have watched the advert and the workouts do look pretty tough to be honest with you, very fast paced, so I can totally see how people could get results. There are a few flaws though...

First of all, Sean is relying on people being able to motivate themselves at home. I work from home and I can tell you that some days I really lack motivation and don't get a lot done, and that's the same with home workouts. Yes you pop the DVD in and you have Sean motivating you, but he isn't motivating 'you', it's not personal, he's not in your house pushing you to workout. So, you still have to get yourself up, get in front of the TV and workout to the intensity level that is required. It's the same problem that people have with nutrition - being bothered to stand in the kitchen and prepare a healthy meal instead of ordering a take away. That is probably the T25's biggest problem. It's all about will power.

Secondly, the advert and his website likes to talk about cash and figures. Here is a direct quote that is actually under his 'bio' section on his website - "10 million DVD's sold, $350 million in DVD sales since 2009, #1 infomercial 8 years in a row". To start with, it's probably the number 1 infomercial because whenever I have flicked comedy central on before 8am, I've always seen a Sean T advert. Whenever people talk about money (especially in the fitness industry) I am always suspicious. The supermarkets 'Aldi' and 'Lidl' only ever talk about how much cheaper they are than other stores, NOT how much healthier their products are (because they aren't). Okay, 10 million DVD's have sold, well, how many of those have actually got results and kept them? showing a few transformations on an advert is one thing, but then talking about those numbers is another. If your product/service is so good, then you don't have to talk about money. Take UP Fitness for example, they are one of, if not the best personal training gym around, having some of the most incredible transformations I have ever seen (a lot of them too!!) - do they talk about money? not at all. Before Sean T launched all of these DVD's, I would have liked to see how successful he was working in a gym, working with actual people one on one, doing actual personal training - it might be a different story.

The last 'problem' with this whole system is that it's a DVD system. Some trainers make a workout DVD to promote themselves and to give a 'taste' to people of their personal training - that's fantastic, that's fine. Then you get some trainers who make workout DVD's for cash - knowing that if you market them in the right way, you can make a good lump sum pretty quickly. It's the same as trainers who become 'online PT's' - you don't have to do as much work (as in training), you can have a lot more clients = more cash. There are millions of people who are 'vulnerable' and will buy the 'next best thing' to lose weight - DVD's fall into that category. To put it bluntly, most people who are overweight/obese, they are in that position because they lack will power and don't have the right mindset to 'get up and go'. Having a DVD at home will only work if they put the effort in - but that requires them to suddenly, completely change their mindset and train hard at home and eat healthy. If those people could suddenly do that, then they wouldn't be the weight they are. Some of the transformation people on the advert said things like "who get's off a treadmill and shouts YES! but I do after finishing a T25 workout". That goes to show the lack of knowledge of a lot of people - thinking you only run on a treadmill at the gym. Most people go to the gym and not know what they're doing (I see them all the time), so yes, of course you're going to have a better workout when you have someone telling you what to do. I would like to see a comparison between 'Focus T25' and a good personal trainer (Jamie Alderton for example). I would say that Jamie would get far, far better results with a client than someone using the T25 system. Would it be more expensive? yes, but ask him about his success rate...

DVD's are very easy to get 'conned into', but most people will give up with them (just like a new years resolution to get fit). If you put the effort in and stay committed, then I reckon using T25 would give you good results, but if you have that mindset, then you probably wouldn't actually need those DVD's...

Lee Gregory Fitness

Friday, 4 September 2015

Sugar Tax - good or bad?

I'm sure a lot of you would have seen this in the media yesterday - taxing sugary drinks, driven by chef Jamie Oliver.

Is it a good or bad idea? both...

It's good because it's raising awareness about sugar and the dangers that come with it. But it's not just the drinks. You can walk into a supermarket and pick up quite a lot of chocolate for just 2 or 3 pounds - that's cheap!

The problem with sugar is that its 'addictive'. I remember watching a YouTube video from Steve Cook (bodybuilder, sponsored athlete, competitor) and while prepping for one of his shows, he said he stays away from sugar because once he has a little, he craves more. Those are words from someone with one of the best physiques in the business!

End of the day, sugar is energy, but it's fast releasing energy. If children are going to be active for the day (parties, sports day etc) then having sugar isn't too bad as they will burn off the energy. However, children are becoming lazier and lazier in the modern day - thanks to the gaming systems, online gameplay, smartphones etc. Back in the day (although not that long ago) children were outside a lot more, over the park playing sports, and actually using energy.

Sugar doesn't fill you up, you may feel a little 'sick' if you eat too much too quickly, but it doesn't fill you up. So once you feel hungry again, you eat more sugary foods and drink more sugary drinks - a vicious cycle.

Just adding more tax to sugary drinks is not the solution for obesity in children. Parents NEED to be educated themselves about keeping their children at a healthy weight, and then they need to pass on that education to their children. People need to understand the 'side effects' of being overweight/obese. Because there are so many overweight/obese people in the this country (UK, and around the world) it's almost like 'the norm', so overweight children and adults don't think there's too much of a problem.

Going back a fair number of years, if you were overweight/obese, you would stand out (I remember my parents telling me that, when they were at school). But now that's not really the case. You can pile as much tax on sugary drinks as the government wants, BUT without educating people - about obesity, how to be healthy, how to cook healthy meals on a budget etc etc, then the problem will not go away. It's quite clear that individuals will not change on their own - they won't learn how to cook, they won't research how to live a healthy life, how to lose weight, how to keep the weight off etc etc, so they need help. This extra tax money can be used for 'the good', but one of the last ideas the government had, was to team up with Weight Watchers - kind of says it all. (that was a diabolical decision considering the long term fat loss results that that company has - it's awful!)

I respect Jamie Oliver for constantly trying to raise awareness, but end of the day he is not a trainer, not a nutritionist, and unless parents take responsibility for their children, nothing will change. How a parent can watch their children get fatter and fatter is beyond me, I would be mortified and feel terrible. Children eat most of their food at home, so I don't buy the excuse of "they eat healthy at home but eat garbage when they go out" - NO! If you provide healthy meals at home, even if they eat some bad foods out of the home, they will not become obese!

Changes need to be made, but the most important thing is to educate the parents and the children. IF the money made from the extra tax is actually used towards positive things such as education for parents and youngsters, then it could work. BUT if the money gets used to simply give people gastric bands, then no, that's not the going to work. That's masking a problem, that's not fixing the root cause. I guess time will tell!

Lee Gregory Fitness 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Learn When To Say No

Success is all about being willing to do what others aren't, and sometimes it's not fun, it's not enjoyable, but you have to do it.

If you take a look at some of the top physique athletes out there (people like Steve Cook, Jamie Alderton, Rob Riches) they are where they are and have the physiques they do, because of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Do they always go out with friends and drink? no. Do they always go out to restaurants eating delicious (but unhealthy) food? no. Do they skip the gym to go and do some pointless activity instead? no. It's learning when to say no that will make you succeed.

Does that make you a boring person? not at all, it makes you a dedicated individual who has priorities. You can still go out with friends, having a good time, having a drink every now and then, but you need to learn when to say no. If the people around you can't respect that and be supportive, then you don't need to be around those people. Sure, even if you have supportive friends and family, they may take the mick out of you from time to time, but it will be in good spirit.

You should always give your all and do whatever it takes - because if you don't, someone else out there will be doing more than you. You may never meet them in your entire life, but on the other hand, they could be your direct competitor.

Be dedicated, be focused, and learn when to say no.

Lee Gregory Fitness 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Keep fighting!

I was in the gym this morning and there are 3 TV screens in there - usually two have music channels on and the other is muted and subtitled with a TV program on. Today the TV show was about a couple moving to Australia to better their lives - why am I telling you this? keep reading...

(photo, credit of BBC)

I didn't catch the whole show (only looked in between sets) but I'm pretty sure one half of the couple, Stan, had a serious motorbike accident, and was in a very, very bad way. The doctors and family at one stage didn't think he would pull through. One of the doctors did say about a small chance of him waking up, but it didn't look good. Stan then woke up. The doctors said there's a good chance he won't walk again. Stan walked again.

I kept looking at the screen in between sets, not because I was more interested in TV than my session, but because seeing him on screen was very inspirational (I still got a great session in). He had to use a mobility scooter to start with as he didn't have the strength to walk. But he kept pushing with his physiotherapy, kept saying to him and his wife that he will walk again, and then he did! Yes he had to use a stick, but he was walking, But that didn't seem to satisfy Stan, as he wanted more, he wanted to one day walk without the stick and to be able to use his arms as normal and live a good life.

They found their dream home in Australia, and it came with an all important gym and swimming pool, two things that would helps Stan's recovery so much. Was that enough for Stan? nope. He wanted to go back to work as a mechanic, which he did before his accident. But he opted to go into being a mechanic teacher, rather than working as a mechanic himself. Seeing him working on a car, someone who struggles to walk and to use both arms like normal, was nothing but motivational.

This is a guy who, out of nowhere, nearly died, and he kept on fighting every single day, to reach his newly found limited potential. No, he won't ever get back to 'normal', but he wanted to get to the limit that he could. He worked so hard to walk again, and then to walk without a stick. Then even that wasn't enough, he wanted to go back to work and help people become mechanics, a job that he loved doing himself.

I wanted to share this because most people in his situation would feel sorry for themselves, blame the accident for ruining their life, give up trying anything and just 'go through the motions' of life, rather than fighting to improve their life. The mindset that Stan has, is one that can be applied to many different jobs, many different situations, and a heck of a lot of people. Mindset is everything, and I do truly believe that if you believe in yourself, you can have success.

Lee Gregory Fitness