Posts Tagged ‘health’

2011 thus far…

9 months in to the year I think it’s about time I took a step back and thought about some of the great successes that my clients have achieved so far.  We all know that January is the busiest month of the year when people start their new years resolutions with regards to their health and wellbeing.  Most fall short of their goals for one reason or another.  Below is the list of successes that my clients (some of which I have trained since January, some since long before) have achieved in the previous 9 months and are the ones who didn’t give up during the quiet times of the year and who have consistently worked hard from session number one!

In 2011 so far have helped clients lose a combined fat loss of over 11 stone, or 154 lbs if you’d rather look at it that way.  My clients have added a total combined strength increase of over 700kgs   (1543 lbs) across all lifts so far since January.  What does this strength increase mean? It means lean muscle gain. And for the ladies out there who worry that weight training will get you big, then let me tell you that that is a myth! Some of my strongest, leanest female clients are under 5’3″ and are size 8-10 with a lifting capacity of at least 1.5x their body weight. Every single week since January 1st, one or more clients of mine have beaten their personal bests in one lift or another.  Some people spend months trying to increase their ability in something, my clients have proven that with hard work, correct programming and nutrition that they can excel upon previous bests week upon week.

I have worked with competing athletes, weekend warriors, mums, dads, housewives, househusbands, the elderly and the young.

I have helped clients who have suffered with weight troubles their entire lives, make drastic changes and drop kilos of body fat and inches upon inches off their body.  I have helped them gain vast increases in self confidence, had the fortune (or misfortune for their wallets) of making these changes result in completely new wardrobes. 

I have helped older less mobile clients with hip replacements become more mobile and pain free. I have helped triathletes and marathon runners shave time off of their previous personal bests. I have helped them train consistently  pain free all year, allowing them to remain on top of their game no matter the season. I have helped football players become drastically more explosive than previous seasons.  

I have helped clients who have suffered with IBS their entire lives eradicate such problems for good. Even after doctors had told them that it is a condition they will suffer for life due to ‘stress’.  I have helped clients with mild to serious intestinal inflammation live a healthier inflammation free lifestyle. 

My clients have enjoyed energy levels higher than they have ever experienced and enjoyed the best nights sleep of their lives, some after suffering with sleeping problems for decades. I have helped clients with low thyroid function increase their bodies natural thyroid ability and even helped them lose body fat whilst not on medication. Much to the surprise of their doctors! 

I have helped clients who have suffered with back pain for years, move and sit pain free. I have helped clients who have come off the back of serious injuries rehabilitate their bodies so that they are able to get on with their daily lives in much more comfort than before. I have helped to create transformations so great that because clients have taken complete ownership of their health and wellbeing that they have gone on to make other drastic changes in their lives and have helped to inspire similar changes on their surrounding friends and family. 

These changes are why I became a personal trainer. I don’t list these things above due to some arrogant need to show off, I list things as a testament to the hard work and success of my clients. So that they might read this and see themselves in these words. I am only as successful as they are. I don’t ask for any thanks or praise as their success is all the thanks I need. Seeing my clients drop more body fat, seeing their surprised and proud faces after lifting 10kgs more on their box squat than they thought they would be able to, or having a client email me saying that they produced a new personal record in a triathlon or half marathon; these are what fuel my passion towards helping them reach their goals!

This is only a list of personal successes in the previous 9 months. Just think of the list of successes I will be able to sing from the hill tops about in another 9 months!? 

If you have personal goals relating to your health, weight or fitness then let me help you so that I can list your success story in my next update. The only thing I ask for is hard work and some self belief that what you want is achievable. Just ask my current clients, they’ll tell you that your dreams aren’t really that far off.

To your continued success!

Joff brown


If you read my last blog post you will i’m sure, realise that I advocate the use of a low carbohydrate nutritonal program for optimal health and fat loss. This blog is a follow on from my sugar addiction article that highlighted the pschological need that some people have for carbohydrates in particular sweet sugary foods. This blog intends to briefly highlight some of the aesthetical and biological things that can occur when such an addiction or indeed simply a diet rich in carbs is in use. It must be pointed out from the off that not all carbohydrates have the effect on our bodies as listed below. Some fruits and a large quantity of vegetables are crucial for our wellbeing and do not have the associated issues that I mention,

Nutrionalists the world over tell us that eating a diet high in whole grains and other rich starchy carbohydrates is a great way to maintain good energy levels and optimum health. What they don’t tell you is the science behind the glycogen stored and how they can affect us aesthetically. My nutritonal principles are mainly based around optimum health, but I work in an industry that requires me to create results for my clients that will improve the way that they look. Luckily for my clients, they get the best of both worlds.

Glycogen the stored energy source within our muscles and liver cells are units of energy that are massively hydrated (they bind with water cells within the body in order to maintain stable). 1g of glycogen can bind with approx 3g of water.

Fatty Acids on the other hand are fairly hydrophobic (water free) and therefore do not require the binding to water in our bodies when stored and thus not the excess water retention.

What do these facts mean for us aethestically?

If we have a diet very rich in carbohydrates 2 main things occurr. Firstly a large amount of glycogen is stored in the body, each one of these cells requireing a large amount of water to be binded to it. This helps to create the bloating effect in our bodies through extra water retention. Just look at people who have large beer bellies or have chunky arms that just look saturated with water. These are one of the signs of people eating a diet too high in carbohydrates.

The second thing that happens in our bodies when we have a diet containing an excess amount of carbs is this;

Our bodies only require so much sugar to be stored as glycogen. Once this limit has been exceeded or if due to insulin resistance the sugars are unable to be stored as glycogen, our bodies have to do something with the excess sugar floating around in the blood. So in the presence of insulin (whose levels have spiked as a result of carbs in our bodies), the excess sugars are then transported to the adipose (fat tissues) in our bodies to be stored as extra fat. It is our bodies way of preparing for winter much like our ancestors did thousands of years ago, or the same way that a bear stores excess fat in preperation for hibernation.

Swapping a diet high in carbohydrates with one that uses fatty acids for energy has a twofold bonus. Firstly your body will not need to store the fatty acids you consume as excess body fat as it is to be used as the majority energy source in place of glycogen through the energy system ketogenesis. So from an aesthetic point of view, not only will you stop storing body fat, you will begin to use the excess body fat that you have stored in your body as energy. People who start on a low-carb diet usually lose a fair amount of weight in the first few weeks. This isn’t likely to be body fat for the first few weeks, it is more likely to be excess water retention. People on high protein/fat diets allow their kidneys to process fluids more rapidly as a side effect of a high carb diet is one that causes the kidneys to retain more water due to a hoarding effect of salt. Less salt hoarding means less water retention. This only helps to create a leaner slimmer you.

The second point to this is that not only will you start to look better on the outside, you will look better on the inside. Fat storage around the liver and kidneys etc will disperse, insulin sensitivity increasses and energy levels will become more constant helping you avoid the mid afternoon crash.

If you think that you are storing a lot of body fat, i’d suggest you take a look at your current diet. Are you eating a diet extremely high in fat which is one that the governments food triangle would suggest is the cause of obesity. Or are you consuming a diet high in carbohydrates?

Any questions or comments do get in touch!

The definition of insanity is “to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.”

How many of you reading this have yo-yo’d in and out of the gym or attempted and re-attempted the same diet over and over and not really had any spectacular results?

If you are one of the many that repeat the same behaviours and expect different results, or better results the next time, please use this blog as a wake up call. Take a step back and ask yourself the following questions with regards to your training or nutritional yo’yo behaviour….

What are your goals?
Did the diet or training regime you are using work last time in reaching those goals?
If the answer is no to that question, then ask yourself why you slipped up or results tapered off?
Was it because you got bored, unmotivated or that the system you started with worked initially but results stagnated after a while?
If the answer is yes to those questions then ask yourself why you are repeating a training program or nutritional plan that didn’t work in the long run?

We’d all love to look fantastic all year round right? So why not look and feel fantastic all year round? What is stopping you from achieving this?

As a Personal Trainer, the reason that some people come to train with me initially is because they were not consciously happy with the answers that they received to the questions above. No idea how to take the next step or push yourself to train differently or eat in a way that is going to help you reach optimal results? If you aren’t happy or content with progress, let me tell you that there is always a little more you can do to make a change. The goal posts can always be moved and benchmarks reset. If you don’t know what it is that you can do to make a change then find someone who may help you find that answer.

A better version of yourself doesn’t always come easy but isn’t always a journey that you have to undertake alone.

Everyone has what it takes to make a change, some people just need that little nudge in the right direction.

To your health!

My website is live ( The creation of my website has been an important process for my business and something which I hope to use as a great tool to reach many people.

My aim has always been to break away from the norm and offer training that isn’t just reps and sets, or nutritional advice that is simply based around a picture of the food triangle. My blog gives me the opportunity to further spread my training ethos and share my opinions and views on fitness, health and complete mental well being.

I am constantly reading, researching and studying new methods of exercise and nutritional application. The information I give is constantly evolving and as such my client’s are reaching their goals quicker than ever!

My training and nutritional principles are simple:

– Nutrition is based on the effect that food has on our body not on calories. It’s more effective to understand how foods effect the hormones in our bodies than to calorie count. We are complex beings and tapping into and effecting the way our bodies are affected by certain foods is crucial in losing body fat, staying lean, getting strong or increasing energy levels. Calorie counting is out, you as an individual is in.

Not only do the nutritional programs that my clients are on always help them lose body fat and gain lean muscle fast, it increases their overall health. Wouldn’t you like to reach your fitness goals whilst lowering bad cholesterol, reducing triglyceride’s, lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of heart related diseases, cancers and almost removing the risk of the most common problem that the western world is struggling to deal with; diabetes through increasing insulin sensitivity? That’s what my nutritional outlook is based around. Improving health (with the added benefit of losing body fat)!

– Everyone lifts compound movements. It doesn’t matter if you’re a housewife or a rugby player, when you train with me you move your body weight through movements that require many muscles to be used. There are no sit down weight machines required, your body and free weights are all that is required. Why is this? When you train wouldn’t you like to feel like you have achieved something? Wouldn’t you like the most ‘bang for your buck’ as possible? Wouldn’t you like to get there as fast as possible? And finally wouldn’t you like to have a bit of fun whilst doing so? If it’s yes, yes, yes and yes in answer to those questions, then that’s why.

My number one objective that I have as a trainer in relation to the above principles and how they relate to my clients and their goals is thus: My aim is that my training sessions are the best part of my clients day, every day they see me. If I can accomplish this, then I feel like we’re on the way to something good there!

I believe in constant motivation and self belief above everything. Removing the negative people and thoughts from our lives isn’t always that easy but who said creating a better you would be.

Your health and fitness matters above all things and there is never a better time to make a change than now.

To your health!


Probably one of the things I’ll say the most frequently to my clients whilst they are undertaking an exercise is ‘tense your core’ or ‘tuck in that tummy.’ But what does that really mean? Long before I became a personal trainer I’d hear about how important it was to tense my core when exercising, but I didn’t fully understand or realise the importance of our core for bodily movement control and prevention of injury.

The ‘core’ is basically our upper torso minus our arms. It is made up deep underlying muscles that have many functions. They help with keeping the organs in place, they protect the spine from excess flexion and extension and help maintain stability of the body during heavy resistance be it weight or force of movement.

Every body wants a flat stomach or six pack right? But in order to carve out a good one, you need to work from the inside out! The biggest player in keeping a nice flat stomach is the Transverse Abdominis (TVA) muscle. This is a large sheet like muscle that runs from our sides to the middle of our stomach region. It lies beneath the more prominent six pack muscles and when it is well trained helps pull in what could otherwise be a protruding abdomen. Imagine that the TVA is like a weight lifting belt or corset. It will help pull in that tummy region leading to a nice flat stomach! It also supports our trunk area when lifting heavy weights such as when performing a heavy back squat. If an athlete tries to undertake a heavy squat with a poorly trained TVA then we’re looking at a drastically increased chance in failure of the squat and potential injury.

Where most people go wrong when training their core is the application of thousands of stomach crunches each week in the hope of getting a nice flat stomach. Now doing stomach crunches or sit ups is a contentious issue for many trainers and coaches out there due to the flexion of the spine.

So how do we train our core effectively in a way that will help us keep a nice flat stomach and aid us with our daily lives or sporting performance?

There are numerous methods to work your abs that trainers and coaches the world over constantly argue over. Are crunches good for us or should we avoid them at all costs? Is there one exercise that works all of the muscles? How frequently should I train my abdominals?

These are all valid questions that I have been asked and my answer to these is that there are no definitive answers! There are a dozen ways to get from A to B and some methods will work more effectively for some than others.

The easiest way to start training your core is to stop using weight machines for your workout and replace these with free weight exercises. For example; just performing a lunge forces you to fire up your core in order to prevent you from falling over. It’s starting with the simple things that can ultimately lead to a fine flat stomach or chiselled six pack. Try integrating the multitude of planks, hanging leg raises, revers crunches and swiss ball roll outs into your workout to help with training your core. You will find that your training will come on leaps and bounds as an increase in core stability will result in improved technique and your ability to push yourself harder without the risk of injury.

Any particular questions about how to best train your core just drop me a line!

Last Friday I took a break from the world of exercise and worked most of the day in firstly my grandads garden and secondly my nans garden.  As they are both getting on now, gardening has become almost impossible for them due to the bending etc that you have to do.  The weather last Fri in my hometown of Reading was very warm indeed and whilst I was busily sweating away it got me thinking about how great a workout gardening can be for you!  I remembered reading something about how effective gardening could be at burning calories when I was training to be a Personal Trainer so I decided to have a dig (no pun intended) around to see exactly how effective it can be for general fitness and also weight loss.

There are a hell of a lot of figures out there about the number of calories that are expended during one hour of gardening.  These figures range from anywhere between 280-400 calories per hour.  Now this is a very impressive number!  It’s roughly the equivalent number of calories burnt as someone running at a moderate speed of 5mph for an hour!  Except that gardening as a form of exercise is far more functional to daily life than just going for a jog!

Gardening calls upon three of the most important factors of exercise!

–          Muscular Strength

–          Muscular Endurance

–          Flexibility

When you need to dig a hole in the ground for that new shrub you bought, your body calls upon these 3 physiological functions!  For example, the digging motion using a spade of fork requires movements very similar to those that I get my clients to undertake in the gym!

Firstly you need to bring the spade in an upwards movement.  This single movement requires a pulling, upright row motion brought on by your shoulders and contraction of the rhomboid, trapezius and rotator cuff muscles of your upper back.  This also requires a twist of the upper body flexing and twisting your latissimus dorsi (large muscle extending across your back), whilst your core muscles of the abdomen and lower back are called into play to stabilise and prevent you from falling over!  All of this occurring in just the upwards motion of digging!  The downwards force required to push the spade into the ground requires a completely different pushing movement.  It is this repeated pulling, pushing, twisting and bending that contribute to digging in the garden being one of the highest calorie burning exercises you can do at home!  Not only is this great for calorie expenditure, it is a brilliantly functional set of movements. 

Yes if you are just pruning the bushes you are going to burn less calories, but if you have to go on your tip toes to reach that branch at the back that’s just out of reach, your body will call upon your muscles to help you remain stable throughout this movement.

Our every day lives are full of pushes, pulls, twists, bends, squats and lunges.  Gardening incorporates all of these movements and as such almost presents itself as a very viable exercise option.  ‘Gardening as a sport?’ I hear you say!?  That’s preposterous!  Well perhaps as a sport maybe, but as a leisure activity designed to increase a persons health and wellbeing I think it’s a pretty good one.

Owning an allotment these days hasn’t been this popular since the Second World War when growing your own food was important due to rationing!  We live in a modern society where people are becoming ever conscious of our impact on this planet and how the production of GI foods such as vegetables are seen as less morally right as those organically grown options.  People are living in towns and cities in modern built housing where gardens are only just big enough to swing a cat!  Owning an allotment presents the perfect opportunity for newly housed couples and friends to ‘do their bit’ and feel like they are going back to our caveman roots where we are providing for ourselves.  Not only this but those people owning allotments are undertaking a form of exercise normally overlooked.  And they are doing it outdoors in the fresh air!

So if you are someone that doesn’t enjoy the conventional methods of exercise be it in the gym, out on the track or on the playing field tell your friends you do gardening!  It’s a whole different approach to health, but if you work hard, you’re not only going to increase the chances of bettering your physical and mental wellbeing you’re going to have a beautiful garden to boot.  How’s that for a measure of success!?

Green Tea.  The leader in the new breed of healthy café culture drinks.  For many years it sat in the shadow of its bigger brothers and sisters, English Breakfast, Earl Grey and the bog standard PG tips!  But it seems that in today’s uber health conscious society, this green variety is around to take its place in our daily lives.  I frequently get friends asking me about health foods, and ‘what’s in’, in the dieting world.  Quite often these include Green Tea and its supposed revitalising and uplifting health properties.  Everyone has heard of it, many people swear by the positive effects it can have on their bodies (specifically when feeling down or after exercise), but what is it all really about?

Green Tea, predominantly grown in China and Japan has been the subject of numerous scientific studies into the health and wellbeing properties that it may possess.  Before going into more detail I shall start by listing some of the positive effects that Green Tea may have on us as humans:

–          Lowering of total cholesterol

–          Oxidation of body fat

–          Increased thermogenesis (raising the temp of the body)

–          Preventative for build up of teeth plaque

–          Preventative measure for the onset of Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease

–          Helps reduce blood pressure

–          Increased body metabolism

–          Prevents Free Radical damage on muscle cells

 The above are all widely publicised and are becoming even more popular to report on in today’s ever increasing ‘health aware’ society.  The links to weight loss are obviously going to get attention and rightly so in my opinion!  The main reason behind the ‘potential’ fat burning properties of Green Tea are largely thanks to the rather wonderful polyphenol EGCG.  An extremely potent anti-oxidant that has many brilliant uses within our bodies!  This anti-oxidant has a fantastic ability of lowering and balancing the body’s LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, speeding up our metabolism and protecting our body from cell damage! 

According to studies, if we replace our standard tea with Green Tea, we open up the possibility to potentially lose weight.  Many say that the British Empire was built on the tea trade.  We are a nation that drinks millions of cups of tea per year!  We are also a nation which has one of the highest rates of cardiac heart diseases in Europe, largely related to an ever increasing number of obese people that live in this country!  I wonder what effect Green Tea would have on all of the shocking figures that are released each year regarding the deteriorating health of our nation.

Drinking 3-4 cups of Green Tea per day is reportedly supposed to help our body burn between 70-100 extra calories.  That’s a potential 700 calories per week, 2,800 per month and a whopping 33,600 potential extra calories expended per year!  Just by drinking a different variation of the nations favourite drink!  That is equal to 134 pints of cider, 176 Whisper bars and 100 Jam donuts!!  Is that not an impressive figure or what!?!?

As a Personal Trainer and keen preacher of exercise and physical activity, the application of Green Tea into a person’s diet is particularly interesting to me.  Not purely for it’s abilities to encourage fat burning!  When we exercise there are simply dozens and dozens of chemical reactions that occur in order for the transfer of energy, oxygen and waste products and all importantly the movement of our muscles and joints to take place.  Unfortunately as part of these reactions with our body, chemicals called Free Radicals are produced.  These chemically unstable oxygen molecules are formed as a result of exercise and remain in our muscles.  These chemicals can cause serious damage if they bind with the cell membranes of muscle fibres for example.  This is one of the reasons why we sometimes struggle to recover from exercise for a few days.  Extra damage being undertaken by Free Radicals hinders the body’s ability to repair damaged muscle tissue.  The anti oxidant EGCG found in Green Tea interacts with the Free Radicals and halts the chain reaction of destruction that they can impose on our cells!  So for all the keen sportsman and women reading this, I would suggest you give Green Tea a go!

Unfortunately not all of the positive effects listed above have been proven beyond doubt.  The figures regarding extra calories burnt can’t be verified and I would in no way suggest that just because you may be able to burn these extra calories from drinking green tea, that you stop watching what you eat, or slow down on the amount of exercise you undertake!  I’m using these numbers as a metaphor to show that some times the tiniest changes in our lifestyle, can in fact have profound effects on our long term health and well being.  A friend of mine recently commented on my facebook page during the British election after I had said that I doubted whether my vote could change the world.  He said: ‘Even the smallest wave, can start a tsunami’!  I believe these words extend to all aspects of life.  And if adding Green tea into your diet could have a positive effect on your health, the question is not as the title of this blog suggests ‘So Why Green Tea’, it’s surely got to be ‘So Why Not Green Tea’??