Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

On the outside it’s a simple question.

Do you have ‘It’

‘It’ is the magic ingredient that separates those few people from the overwhelmingly large number of people who don’t have ‘it’.

Now what specifically is ‘it’!? ‘It’ isn’t something that only a few people can have, it’s something that everybody on this planet can attain. ‘It’ is a group of behaviours, it is a pattern of actions that lead to a desired goal. Let me give you a few examples of the sorts of behaviour that those who have ‘it’ exhibit (all names are fictional tho most of the stories below are examples of what I have personally seen in clients).

Dan has a tough week ahead, he will be working 12 hour days 7:30-7:30pm plus some evenings in preparation for an important presentation to present to the management team at work next week. Instead of cancelling his training with his training partner or PT he organises to finish work at 7:30, down a protein shake and head to the gym. He trains hard for an hour before getting home at 9:30, eating a quick dinner, prepares meals for the following day before completing an extra hour of work before bed. He then rinses and repeats this day for the rest of the week. There was never any question about making it in for his workouts or making the time to prepare his meals for the following day. He knows that hard graft builds the body and that his food is what fuels his fat loss.

Jodie has a lot of friend’s birthday’s coming up where she will be going out a lot. Instead of conforming and drinking and eating whatever sounds delicious, she decides to drive and carefully select her meals at the restaurants. She is ridiculed by her friends for being ‘obsessed’ or stupid for opting for the salad rather than going for the pizza and chocolate fudge cake for afters.  She doesn’t need to make excuses to them because she knows that to her, her goals are more important to her than conformity to social eating and drinking habits. She knows that the term ‘obsessed’ is a term used by the weak about the dedicated. She’s paving her own route and still having a great time with her friends because she knows that she doesn’t need cake or wine to be happy. Besides she has a workout planned for tomorrow that she wants to be fresh for.

Gerard comes into the gym fresh after a few days rest looking forward to another absolute monster of a session. He leaves an hour or so later, legs shaking and has to pace the car park as his legs just won’t stop burning from the hell he’s just endured.  He paces with a grin on his face, sweat still running down from his forehead.  A year ago he was a lazy, overweight dude that had run out of excuses and was heading to a place called metabolic syndrome where the lucky residents there have a cocktail of high blood pressure, high triglycerides and cholesterol and a very high chance of cardiac disease. Now he’s in the shape of his life still coming back to the gym for more each time, still hungry to erase the memory of who he used to be. He could have given up after his trainer initially told him to cut down on alcohol, to drop a large percentage of his carbohydrates or even when he said he wouldn’t necessarily reach his long term goals for some time.

This last example is one that a very dedicated client gave me before Christmas;

 We all know that Christmas is a time when socialising tends to take precedence above most other things.  So when one of my clients was asked by a work colleague to bum off work early to get a few drinks in before the work’s Christmas party my client replied with

“sorry mate I have a PT session this evening.”

The work colleague came back with;

“Nah, sack that off and come to the pub.  Besides you can always go tomorrow.”

Finally my client silenced his work colleague with;

“It was taking the attitude of doing things tomorrow that got me fat and unhealthy in the first place.  I’m not going to miss my session”

That is a true example of the magic ingredient ‘it’.

‘It” is simply the actions the above example people chose to make in situations that weren’t always easy.  The toughest route is usually the path less travelled on.  It usually reaps the largest rewards but takes the most amount of effort.  Individuals with ‘it’ don’t choose the easy option on the restaurant menu, they choose the option that best suits their goals. They might at that time prefer the burger with chips but they know for a fact that it won’t help them reach their goals so why the hell should they consider it. Hell yeah we only live once and we should enjoy it, but if you are desperately miserable because you can’t eat a burger or an ice cream when you go out because you have fitness or health goals, I would suggest you take a look at your relationship with food.  If giving up that makes you miserable then maybe you aren’t in a position to tell your ‘obsessed’ friend that they need to enjoy themselves. There is more to life than food.

People with ‘it’ don’t make excuses for not making a workout, they make time for it. 

People with ‘it’ make time to prepare their meals for the week, they don’t hide behind the excuse of not having time. They make time.

People with ‘it’ don’t give up when they reach a plateau. They find a way around it or through it because they don’t have the quitting attitude.

People with ‘it’ go to bed early because they know that the extra sleep will help them with their body composition or athletic goals.

People with ‘it’ aim to inspire the people around them, their girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, sons, daughters etc to do better for themselves. 

People with ‘it’ don’t say that they’ll start such and such ‘tomorrow’ or they’ll drop X or Y from their diet in a month or two. They do it. However if they do phase in a behaviour or nutritional change, they plan for it and do it.

People with ‘it’ don’t hide behind excuses of any kind. If they don’t achieve their goals they understand that it is their actions that define whether they achieve them or not. They are responsible for their actions and if they have slipped up or if life has got in the way, they are the people who hold their hands up and admit their mistakes but they are also the people who will jump right back on track and work double hard to undo any lost progress.

If you are reading the above examples and see some of your own actions listed, then you probably have ‘it’. If however you are reading them and do not see any behaviours common with your own then perhaps you haven’t quite found ‘it’ yet.  That doesn’t mean you won’t ever do what it takes, it just means that at this present time you aren’t ready to.  Which is ok, most of the people that I have worked with or trained didn’t always have ‘it’, most of them stumbled across it and once bitten by the rewards of positive actions for themselves, were bitten for life. 

It’s not all as Hollywood as one might imagine. The guy in the example above pacing the car park wasn’t doing a victory dance because he had worked super hard in his training. He was pacing the car park because his legs hurt and sitting down in the car was painful.  Not every workout was like that for him, but that is just a metaphor to show you what some people are willing to do to reach their goals. The girl mentioned above who was mocked by her friends for not drinking or eating the sugar loaded foods that the rest of her friends did of course have doubts.  Yes she felt unsupported and a little hurt that her friends thought she was being silly, but she persevered because she wanted to reach her goals badly.

To finish I’ll leave you with a couple of my favourite quotes regarding people who have that magic ingredient, who are prepared to lead from the front and do whatever it takes.

“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful” – Eric Thomas

Basically, if you want something bad enough, you’ll do what it takes.  You won’t make excuses and you will allow your actions to speak for themselves.

So ask yourself, do you have ‘it’?



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

Cardio vs Weight Training for fat loss

It’s a debate that has gone on for years in the fitness industry and beyond; what really is better for fat loss, cardio or weight training?

Now before I go on,, this article isn’t about what is better for you or what is the best training on the planet, it’s about what is the most efficient form of training to help with fat loss.

So January comes each year and millions of people the world over make New Years Resolutions to make the upcoming year their most productive yet. They want to get that nice flat tummy, toned legs or even just aim to lose a few pounds. Now I ask those people here that are members of a gym to think of their gym and then think about what area is the busiest at this time of year? The answer will 9 times out of 10 be ‘the cardio area’ where all the treadmills, bikes and cross trainers are housed. So naturally we now all assume that the usual steady state cardiovascular exercise is clearly the most efficient form of exercise to help lose that extra winter fat that we’ve accumulated over Christmas because everyone seems to be doing it???

Well they are in fact wrong. I’m sorry to all of those people that may be reading this and have, or are planning to hit the gym 3 times a week every week and undertake 45 mins of steady state cardio work on a variety of machines with the goal of losing weight, because you are unfortunately wasting a lot of your time.

I’m afraid the winner when it comes to efficient training for fat loss is in fact WEIGHT TRAINING. Now before people start slating me for saying this, I’ll now go through what happens to your body when you do both cardio and weight training in relation to fat loss, then I’ll explain that despite weight training being the most efficient, having a blend of both is also in fact absolutely fine.

What happens to your body when you undertake steady state cardio

– The levels of the stress hormone Cortisol raise inhibiting fat burning
– Calories expended ceases after you stop exercising
– Your body adapts extremely quickly to this style of running
– Loss of muscle mass increases due to lack of overload on type II muscle fibres
– Aerobic capacity increases helping to keep your heart and lungs healthy and strong
– Steady state cardio is boring!

What happens to your body when you undertake Weight Training

– Levels of the stress hormone Cortisol actually DECREASE, resulting in further fat loss.
– The numbers of calories expended by the body by weight training continues long after your workout due to increased metabolism and the energy required for cell repair.
– Joint stability increases
– Bone density increases
– The amount of lean muscle mass in your body increases. Muscle is up to 3 times more metabolically active than any other cell tissue and thus burns more calories.
– Increase in muscle mass results in a firmer more toned body
– Your aerobic capacity still increases (not to the same level of cardio training)
– Weight training is dynamic and fun! A diverse training session is so much more fun that running at a steady pace for 40 minutes!

Weight training really is a superior style of training for fat loss. This is not to say that I don’t recommend steady state cardio at all. I think that having a brisk paced thirty minute walk on rest days in between weight training is a fantastic way to loosen tight muscles (especially in the hips) whilst still maintaining an increase in resting metabolism. Body builders of old have used this method of using walking to help keep body fat levels low for decades.

If you do want to include cardio as part of your fat loss (something I’d encourage) then the ultimate form of cardio training for fat loss does not include any steady state work at all! Sprinting or high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a phenomenal way to push your body to the max whilst burning a large number of calories. Studies have shown that sprinting near to your anaerobic threshold is the range best suited for fat loss utilisation.

To really show you what I mean, think of 2 athletes. One is a marathon runner, the other is a sprinter. Now what body types come to mind?

The marathon runner is going to be very slim with little obvious muscle. The sprinter is going to be extremely lean, with well defined muscles. This ultimately comes down to the muscle types that those athletes train, but in essence if you are planning on losing weight why start to travel down the long distance runner route? If you want to train to run then run but don’t run specifically with the sole intention of losing body fat.

Training for fat loss is completely different to training to run. I train runners and triathletes. They need to run a certain number of miles a week in order to be able compete in marathons etc but even they need to complete sprint training and weight training to be the most efficient runners they can be. If you don’t believe me, please get in touch and I’ll explain in more detail.

So what’s your excuse for not dropping the cardio and hitting the weights?

Oh and one last thing, if you’re a woman and you are scared of weight training for fear of getting ‘big’ like the men then you need not worry! The reason men grow large muscles is because the levels of testosterone in our bodies is significantly higher. Women have such low levels of testosterone that growth of muscle size is on a much smaller scale!

Any further questions please get in touch:

Mind over matter. This is a common saying that all of us would have heard at some point in our lives. It’s the type of phrase that is normally grouped with the oh so catchy clichéd ‘no pain, no gain’. Both of these are globally quoted when talking about sports or athletic performance and are also casually disregarded as some cheesy saying that’s been around since the dawn of the Rocky movies and are therefore not really useful phrases to consider when analysing performance.

But are they?

It is widely considered that the difference between greatness and the ordinary is the mindset of an individual. This applies to all areas of life but is most prominent in the world of sport and exercise.

There are millions of people on this planet that undertake a sport or form of exercise. Now what is it that separates someone from achieving their dreams and someone that does not? Is it luck, is it genetics, is it talent or is it a person’s belief in their own abilities or drive to achieve?? I would say that it’s a mix of all of the above. Millions of exercisers take to the streets each day for a run. A certain percentage of these people will be able to run a mile in under 8 mins, some others will be able to break the 5 minute mark whilst another rather drastically smaller number of these people will be able to run a mile in 3 minutes or less. Some people would say that these individuals are just gifted with superior genetics. They’re genes allow their bodies to work within their anaerobic threshold for longer hence being able to sprint constantly for 3 mins. However other analysts would propose that athletes who mentally train and prepare themselves to succeed are more likely to reach that mythic land of the < 3 minute mile than individuals who don’t.

Muhammed Ali, undoubtedly the greatest boxer of all time was not simply brilliant because of his talent alone, his legacy was built upon the mans character and self belief. Yes he was good and he knew it but it was his unstoppable belief that he was the finest boxing specimen of all time that saw him through each round of every fight. Are we only as good as our genetics allow us to be? Hell no! If this was the case, why would we choose particular songs to get us into the right frame of mind when exercising? If this was the case then there would be no need for motivational speeches before important sporting events. Al Pacino’s stirring speech at the end of Any Given Sunday would be fruitless if the power and concentration of an individual or teams mind had no effect on their performance. This one scene for example must have inspired thousands of athletes the world over. I have heard on a few occasions of coaches choosing to play this particular scene to their team before each game in order to help them focus on the game ahead.

When I train my clients I constantly use metaphors of strength and power to help them visualise an exercise. Be it asking them to imagine throwing the bar of a bench press into the ceiling or throwing the bar up when performing a clean. It’s these little things that can sometimes make the difference when you are not mentally prepared.

The biggest contention when talking about the ‘mind over matter’ approach is that a person’s mental toughness and self belief cannot be measured. So it is almost impossible to tell how much more mental toughness accredits to a persons ability than physiological ability alone. This however shouldn’t stop you from harnessing your brains ability to make you a superior athlete! My last blog was about Motivation, and how it can be used to push us to great heights of physical ability. Having unstoppable motivation is the very essence of ‘mind over matter’. If you are working towards a goal, or have a something that inspires you to exercise then use these as tools to close your mind from external stresses and focus on the game/class/exercise in hand! Working hard does not just include concentrating on your physical training; training of the mind in preparation for exercise is equally as important and can ultimately make the difference between success and loss.

As I frequently do I’m going to end by including a quote that summarises this article perfectly:

‘The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it’s a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free’

Yesterday morning at 3am English time I was sat in Poznan airport in Poland looking back on an extremely eventful weekend that had just taken place.  Sat next to my 10 other snoozing Stag Do comrades I listened to the empowering mid section of Gustav Holst’s Jupiter thinking about how the weekend that had just passed was a complete change from my current lifestyle and how important it was for me to understand that this is actually healthy!  As a Personal Trainer I live in a world where I preach to my clients the vital importance that health and wellbeing can be for us.  The application of exercise and a healthy diet being the forerunners.  On a personal level, I spend my weeks exercising hard, eating as much of the right stuff as possible in order to maintain a physique and level of health that I am constantly striving to improve.   A weekend in Poznan was a complete turn on it’s head for me!  Not that I am one of these PT’s that refuses alcohol or cakes when offered (in fact its normally the opposite), but a weekend of sitting on my backside in a random selection of cave bars drinking beer and eating fatty greasy food all weekend was actually a welcome change!

Back in the airport I thought about how important letting go of strict regimes can be.  Modern society is constantly reminded of how healthy we should be in order to live longer or fit a particular look.  I don’t know of any particular statistics on dieting but just stop for a second and have a think.  How many of you reading this blog know less than 10 people in your lives that are dieting right this minute!?  It could be Slimming World, Weight Watchers or the awful Slim fast and Special K diets (watch this space for a further blog on why these particular diets are ineffective in the long run), but either way, anyone that is dieting has a strict regime to abide by.  You may only have a certain number of ‘points’ that you are allocated a day, or you may have to avoid certain food altogether, but whatever way you look at it your life is controlled by exterior influences.  Spending a weekend eating and drinking an extra 2000 calories in alcohol a day is seen as a huge no no.  And this is true, but the point of this blog is that sometimes you just need to let it go and dive in regardless!  Now I’m not saying that you should drop your diets completely and just eat what you want because this is really not the case, I’m suggesting that on those important events in your life such as Weddings, Parties and in this case, Stag Do’s, enjoy them for what they are and get back on track as soon as they are finished.

One weekend of calorific debauchery in most cases won’t define your weight for the rest of the year!  Anyone that has ever been on a diet has had days where the diet has gone completely out of the window and I say that this is important!  Life is ultimately about having fun and doing the things that make us happy.  And when we are doing these things we shouldn’t be thinking about how many calories we are drinking at that precise moment because if we are, then we aren’t really living that moment at all!  Life is full of peaks and troughs, your diet included so my advice is take the rough with the smooth.  Spend some time altering your diet if you feel that changes need to take place.  Be healthy and eat responsibly as this is proven to help with weight loss, energy levels and metabolism rates but at the same time recognise that an event such as a Stag Do should be fun and enjoyed to the max!

As ever, if you have any dietary or fitness related questions, please get in touch with me at or check me out on facebook!

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’??