What’s the best exercise?

How can I get in shape and what’s the best exercise?

In the zone

You may be thinking about getting in shape and wondering about how to go about it. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution stalled and you’re still getting your act together. There are a number of considerations about how you tackle the issue of getting in shape and there is an array of advice out there which may have left you overloaded and paralysed by inaction.

My preference is to keep things as simple as possible. When it comes to getting in shape there is one rule to bear in mind. ‘Run a calorie deficit’. If you’re expending more calories than you are consuming then eventually you’ll lose weight. You need to keep in mind what you’re eating nutritonally in order to improve your body composition in combination with exercise. Whilst you may lose weight on a calorie restriction diet you don’t want to lose valuable muscle in the process. That’s why body composition and bodyfat percentage is the key indicator to observe.

Measuring your initial bodyfat percentage needs equipment but Boots the chemist has in-store scales which when you grip the handles will measure your bodyfat percentage. It’s crude and not the best option but nevertheless you’ll have a starting point and you can also see your total weight in kilos or pounds as well as Body Mass Index.

Ideally, the equipment to measure bodyfat percentage should also give an indication of muscle mass or ratio of fat to muscle. This can be achieved by visiting a nutritionist or some gyms have installed better measuring equipment than what you’d find in a Boots store and more wide-ranging metrics.

Set a goal. You may have a target weight you want to reach but overarching this is the bodyfat percentage measure. You want this to decrease and you may find when you get there you weigh more than your goal weight but your body composition has improved because you’ve gained lean muscle. Lean muscle has a very metabolic quality. It burns calories whether you are exercising or not all-day and all-night long. If you can increase your lean muscle then you’re well on the way to getting good weight loss results and improving your bodyshape.

So what exercise should you do? – Cardio or weight training? Ideally both; regularly, although if you have a preference for one over the other, as long as your exercising regularly and eating healthily you’ll shape up. The advantage of weight-bearing exercise is that you’ll get stronger, be able to lift more, improve your core strength, increase your lean muscle and sculpt your body to a desirable shape. Cardio exercise alone will improve your heart health and combined with interval training will burn fat and boost endurance. The consensus now is that you need both forms of exercise in your regime.

So what weight bearing exercise should I do? I’d recommend starting with compound weight bearing exercises. These are exercises which work a number of muscle groups at once. So think barbell chest press, barbell shoulder press, bent-over-rows and squats. Even if you limited your workout regime to these 4 exercises you’ll get off to a good start and I recommend 2 to 3 sets done in a circuit fashion with little rest between exercises but rest for a short while at the end of the round or circuit. This means your are incorporating an element of cardiovascular training in your weight bearing workouts and will torch more calories rather than having long periods of rest between exercise. Ideally, on the last set or circuit if you want to, then you could push to exercise ‘failure’. This is where you reach a limit to the number of repetitions you can perform and so tear and recruit as many muscle fibres as possible in order form them to repair when you rest and grow larger.

Between compound weight training, try and add some cardiovascualr work. Alternate between intensities such as long walking, interval training which can be quite intense but burns a lot of calories however is only done for a short period which means it’s an efficient workout and you can fit it in if you’re busy.

On a nutrition front, try to have protein at every meal. Following a moderately ketogenic diet helps where you limit the amount of carbohyrate and compensate by eating proteins, healthy fats and some carbohydrate. See if you can make clever carbohydrate swaps such as sweet potato instead of ordinary potato – and if you are going to have carboyhydrate then choose wholegrain or wholemeal. Beans of most variety are a good source of energy and contain a decent level of protein. Lentil varieties are also a good food source and provide slow-release energy and promote even blood sugar levels.

In summary; a ketonogenic nutrition programme, healthy foods a combination of cardiovascular and weight bearing exercises will set you on the road to improving your bodyshape and body composition. A final word about exercise length. You should avoid prolonged torturous workouts. A compound exercise wholebody regime could be done in about 20 – 30 minutes two or three times a week supplemented with some decent amounts of walking or stairclimbing. It needn’t be so difficult that a. You never start or b. You are put off repeating it. Once you build the habits it should be self-sustaining, and if you fall of the wagon, don’t worry but restart as soon as possible. It’s normal to have setbacks or low motivation but re-commit and you’ll be on the way to getting the bodyshape you desire.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting

You may have heard of ‘intermittent fasting’. It has become quite vogue. Essentially, it involves periods of food restriction. One of the most popular intermittment fasting protocols is known as the ‘5:2 diet’ put forward by Dr.Michael Mosley in a book entitled the same.

His principal is to eat as you normally would for 5 days in every 7 with two of those days only eating up to 500 calorie meals. Quite cultish, the 5:2 diet inspired a mass-following with legions of fans swearing by its weight loss effectiveness.

Indeed, a close friend of mine has experiment with 5:2 and according to him he’s seen pounds drop off.

The reality according to him is you need to be disciplined. On the days you are effectively fasting you will crave food and constantly think about food. Although the intensity of this feeling may diminish with practice it is still a very real challenge.

He prefers on his fasting days to eat just one small meal at the end of the day although there are people who will graze at morsels of food throughout the day until they reach their 500 calorie threshold to sate their hunger.

Some people prefer to leave their fasting days for the weekend with the idea that it is easier for them to comply with the program without the pressures of work and with the comfort that it is the weekend.

The risk is non-compliance with the regime. You may give into your hunger and overeat and suffer the setback but the idea on the 5:2 diet is that if you reduce your total weekly intake of food by at least 3500 calories that should equate to about losing a pound of body mass. It’s important to stay hydrated on the 5:2 diet and some people complain of headaches initially.

An alternative to the 5:2 is the ‘6:1’ where you fast on one day only a week which may be more manageable however the results will be less dramatic or it will take longer time to reduce your weight.

Another alternative is to try the 16:8 where in a given 24 hour day you have a 8 hour window only to eat food. Individuals following this protocol tend to eat just 2 meals a day usually staggered at strategic times during the day. The idea being you’re eating less calories from 2 meals than you would with 3. However when you do eat, it’s important to be mindful of portion size, and good quality wholesome ingredients that make up your food. A recommendation by fitness professionals is to eat a meaningful amount of protein with your meals as this will leave you feeling more satisfied and contribute to greater saitey.

Whether you choose to undertake intermittment fasting is up to you but you should always speak to a health professional before undertaking such a regime especially if you have any health conditions or take any medications for ailments.

Warm Lemon salts detox

#Warm Lemon salts detox

Try this easy detox first-thing after waking in the morning. You’re body will be dehydrated after sleep and this warm lemon dextox is a perfect start to your morning routine.

Couple of slices of fresh lemon preferably organic

A few grinds or granules of Himalyan pink sea salt to provide replenshing minerals

Add boiling water and let cool for a few minutes.

Optional extras included adding manuka honey and some grated ginger root for added sweetness and zing.

#Brainfood recipe of the week

Healthy low-calorie iron-rich omega-3 rich salad.


2 x beatroots roughly chopped

Rocket lettuce

Few cubes for full-fat French cheese

One-mackeral fillet torn into pieces

Half an avocado sliced

Drizzle of balsmic di Modena vinegar

Drizzle of Extra virgin olive oil

Few grinds of Himlayan seasalt

Few grinds of black pepper

Prepare a bed of rocket lettuce on a plate. Scatter the remaining ingredients over the bed of rocket. Splash some balsmic vinegar and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with a few grinds of seasoning. Prep time about 7 minutes and voila! Sumptous nutritious brainfood to keep you going through your working day.

#brainfood salad #fastprep

Mental health is not cut and dry

Mental health is complex.

I have been to some dark dark places in my mind. I have travelled to the centre of a black hole of depression right into the heart of its singularity from which no light escapes. If it wasn’t a phonecall to my friend Steve at the critical time then it could have been oh so different. He saved my life (and I had saved his – a few years back).

It’s a different experience for different people and affects people in differing degrees and profundity. The medical protocols can have quite an impact but the aim of any practitioner is to support independence and freedom of living, management of the condition and functional wellbeing.

Often, those who have a mental health issue have accompanying challenges. It is known amongst this cohort they have the highest levels of wanting to work but the lowest levels of in work rates. Issues such as employment, making work work for them, substance abuse, complex family issues and housing needs all burn at the same time in somesort of crucible.

It is added pressure to those who are already stressed and in need. Needless to say a lot of the services have been cut. A lot of the support that exists beyond your GP – who isn’t a specialist – can be hard to travel to, and costly to get there. Across London, there are a patchwork of services and organisations – charities or otherwise doing the best they can to mitigate the problem but provision needs to have more concerted thinking and delivery.

I am fortunate, that in my part of the Borough, services are joined up to a greater degree but when you walk out that door, you walk out alone – and then it hits you. You’re on your own, trying to survive and this is a test of your own leadership to solve. You have to be leader to lead yourself out of what can be a quagmire. And if you can make it, anyone can.

#TimetoTalk #TimetoChange

Samaritans call 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)

How to get fit – the Low Effort Way

You have the desire but perhaps something is stopping you.

You understand the benefits of getting active but are constantly putting it off. You’ve heard the individuals, organisations and celebrities extolling the virtues of an active lifestyle. You understand but feel overwhelmed.

I’d like to share my experience of getting fit. I’m biased here as I have always been active in some shape or form. I just love exercise and try to fit in what I can when I can and perhaps you can do it too.

First of all, start small, then make incremental increases. Starting small can mean doing chores at home; gardening, climbing the stairs between ironing, dancing to music, parking your car a little further away from the your local supermarket or carrying reasonably heavy shopping back to the car.

Increase the frequency; have different days of varying intensity such as light, moderate and tiring. There is a concept in health and fitness called “Perceived Exertion Level”. This basically means trust your judgement as to how intense or physically demanding the activity is you are taking part in. If you feel it’s making you tired then the chances are you are working your body – and that’s a good thing.

It’s a fairly reliable indicator of exertion in the absence of any wearable tech. Use that as a guide and – use your common sense. Keep a diary of your activity. This can be a pen and paper journal or electronic notepad. Most mobiles come with software that allow your to make notes or journal. Once you’ve completed the activity make a note or perhaps put it into somesort of calendar for reference.

One you have tracked your activity, this will give you the facts on frequency. Make a note of how tired you feel afterwards. You can also start cataloguing your sleep and your moods if you are going through a stressful period. It all helps with the ‘Mind – Body’ connection.

Keep going. Keep making incremental increases or undertake more challenges once you’ve built up enough confidence. You’ll find that soon you’ll build a virtuous cycle. Do not beat yourself up if things get in the way and you have not been as active as you’d like to. It’s normal to have emergencies, lazy days or otherwise known as rest days. This is an invaluable opportunity to recover, rest, recharge and regroup. Taking adequate rest is an important part of the health and wellbeing equation.

Do not underestimate the power of nutrition and sleep. If you’re a family and have a baby, or young children then you may think this isn’t going to work for me. Just think about the activity of loading and unloading a buggie from your car, take turns as parents to push it round a circuit of your local park or as you wind round Ikea.

You may be able to ask your partner for some time off from running your household to go out for a walk or cycle ride. Indeed this will benefit your family in the long run as you are acting as a team to support your household and it’s important that as a couple you both takes turns to be rested. You’ll both be more resilient in the long run and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment.

So, just get started and ACT for your own health and wellbeing and for your kids.

If you want to read more about the subject of health and wellbeing I recommend anything by Patrick Holford and Dr. Michael Mosley.