Q. Last Christmas was a disaster for me, I put on over a stone in 3 weeks. Can you give me some options so I can eat without feeling guilty 🙂

A.

1. If you know that when you drink, you eat more = then don’t even start drinking. It’s tempting to drink more and more as the festivities grow throughout the night.

2. If you are eating, try not to have an alcoholic drink before the meal. The alcohol leads to a rise in blood sugar, and then insulin does it’s job (clearing it away) very quickly, leaving you a little hypoglycaemic. This starts hunger pangs, and you will order more than you actually want!

Not the best pre-meal idea

3. Have a small meal or snack 1-2 hour prior to the meal. It’s fine to be hungry when you order – but you do not want to be at the point where everything and anything will do!

4. The best choice in most restaurants/pubs is likely to be grilled meat or fish. Try to avoid sauces where possible, these are where hidden calories sneak in.

5. Bread sometimes comes out at the start of meals in some places. Pass on this unless you have been training and earned the insulin rush. Chances are, you haven’t just been training and should just say ‘no’.

6. When ordering pasta, asked if the pasta is cooked in oil. High glycaemic carbohydrates and fat are not a good combination. As above, watch out for the calorie-loaded sauces (pasta dishes often have a ton of cheese involved).

The secret is in the sauce! (The secret being the calories)

7. Wherever you want a sauce, you have 2 options: 1; Ask for it separate to the dish (so you can use as little or as much as you want). 2; Don’t think you HAVE to eat it all up (i.e. licking the plate!)

8. Drink low calorie drinks wherever you can. Water, tea and coffee are often better choices. Just make sure it’s not your typical ‘mocha’ with a load of cream in it.

9. Don’t stuff yourself. You should never be stuffed full or be starving. Regular eating patterns will help this and need to be part of the big picture.

10. Skip dessert where possible

Keep these tips in mind over the xmas celebrations and you will be better off than most. Please be aware though, that it is not just one or two binges that make you fatter. It is a positive lifestyle that
needs to be adopted and put in place. When you have the proper habits occurring almost automatically……you can then afford to eat more of what you want.

Q. I’ve recently heard lot’s about power plates – are they any good?

A. Are they any good for what …… doing shivering impressions? Whats is the world coming to when we have to stand on a
vibrating plate in an attempt to burn some fat? “It’s not lazy because Im contracting my muscle against the vibrations”.

The easy way…….to spend a ton of cash

Do some proper work!

The way that power plates are ‘supposed’ to work, is that the frequencies make the muscles in your body subconsciously contract (uk.powerplate.com), presumably maintaining muscle mass and burning calories.

However, when muscles do not contract fully, and more specifically, to high levels of force production, you are going to get very little in terms of results. This is not too dissimilar from BOSU balls and instabilty work that attempts to ‘blast your core!’
The bottom line – The more unstable the surface, the lower load you must use, leading to a lower force production. This leads to less calories burned and more importantly less muscle mass used/maintained. This will inevitably result in less calories burned int he long-term and increased chance of fat gain.

Here are just some of the results of a few studies I found:
One study that found power plates at a very low frequency cause less bone fractures than walking – yet there were only 28 women in the study (low sample number) and also BMD (Bone Mineral Density) had only increased 4.3% (not much really!). You could also argue that if walking is too strenuous – power plates might be better suited for rehab gyms rather than promoted as ‘fat loss machines!’ Another finding of the study was that balance had improved 29%,
which is fairly positive. However, I think the cost-to-benfit ratio isn’t great. 8 months to improve balance? And by about 25 percent? This shouldn’t take as half as long and even losing weight in overweight individuals would probably be more effective in increasing balance.

There was a study in which bobsled athletes jumped and sprinted to achieve quickest times possible, either using vibration techniques or rest in-between sprints. It was found that vibration training slightly helped recovery between sprints, although this was not significant. There was also only one male tested, and 6 females.(2)

A review of many vibration studies (3) found that benefits were either non-existent or minor. At this point in time, I agree in that there could be use of vibration training from a rehabilitation standpoint, but as far as strength, speed and fat loss are concerned, there are tried and tested methods to improve. I also believe the cost of these machines is ridiculous!

Generally people, more-often-than-not, take the easy way out. Leg extensions over squats. Chest Press machine over Dumbell bench press or Press ups. Lat pull down over pull ups. We need to realise that ‘machines’ make things a bit easier for us. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine from the absolute beginners level, but when you’ve been training for more than 8 weeks, free weights exercises need to be introduced.

Also, the way a person trains can often be seen to mirror the outside life of an individual. A person who sticks to easy machines and makes little or no progress is often the person who doesn’t take risks in their everyday lives. They might even have low confidence levels. OR, they could just not be confident with free weights. It’s thought for another article but is an interesting discussion point nonetheless.

Q. I constantly find myself reaching for snack food – how can I stop?

A. Breaking a bad habit can take days, weeks or months. It’s been said that it usually takes at least 21 days to break a bad habit properly.

Have you ever wondered WHY we eat snack foods – and how much better or worse we ACTUALLY feel afterwards? Its almost as if our society encourages eating foods that are BAD FOR YOU in LARGE AMOUNTS in both GOOD and BAD situations.

Have you had an amazing day where you’ve finished a deadline, made some progress in a working/social relationship, had something go really well at work? How did you celebrate?
Did you go for a slap up meal at a fancy restaurant? Or, did you head down the pub for a few lagers? Have a think about that for a minute.

Now consider the opposite. Have you had a crap day where you’ve missed a deadline, broken up with a girl/boyfriend, had something really important go so bad at work? How did you console yourself?
Did you grab a cheeky takeaway? Or did you head down the pub for a few lagers to drown your sorrows?

You see, we have been almost conditioned to use food/alcohol as BOTH reward AND a pick-me-up.

Next time there is a situation where you are drawn to NEED the snack – you should be asking yourself: Do I REALLY want this? How will I FEEL after I’ve had this UNHEALTHY SNACK
We need to get ourselves out of these habits, and actually think about what we are eating, when we are eating it, and how much we should be eating.

On a different note, (and another article!) If you already have unhealthy food in your house, then it is 10 times easier to consume it than not. Cut it out at the source (the shopping list) and go from there.

Q. I have a friend who says goal setting and time management are a waste of time, do you think they can work against you?

A. Goal setting can be enormously helpful, as described in “Are you working intensely enough?” Yet, they can
become almost tedious and create another problem – rather than help sove the problem of time management in the first place! So while I think they are great tools, they need to be done the right way.

Here are some more easy tips to make sure you do not over-analyse:

Make your goals YOUR goals.

If you want to aim to earn x amount of cash a year then set out to do just that. If you value quality family time over financial gain – then don’t over analyse your target earnings and focus on spending x amount of hours a week with your family. It is YOUR goals which are important, no one elses.When you will inevitably look back, you don’t want to think: “I wish I’d done that”…..and could’ve done.

Make them brief.
Split bigger goals into smaller ones, so that they do not over whelm you and you can actually enjoy accomplishing something everyday. Try to do 1 or 2 (no more) things a day relevent to that goal and stick to it. This could be big like taking the kids shopping for the day or just buying them a small toy.

Start with the end in mind
Imagine that you have actually completed this goal, and the feeling that you will get when you have done it. You will feel a sense of satisfaction that will spur you on. You can work backwards from this end scenario if it makes it easier

Make your goals specific
If you do not know where you are – you will not know how far you have to go – or how far you have come! Create landmarks that indicate you have reached certain levels and are really progressing.

Make your goals flexible
Life happens! Things will come up that you never expected – at the worst possible times! Goals need to be able to be put on hold, so that we do not break down or self destruct.

We need to remember that while planning is needed, we often rush into making rules for ourselves that are not entirely thought through. Spend a bit of time, identifying what the right moves are, and make sure they help you get what you ultimately want. We can make more money – but we cannot create more time.

John Cammish (B.S.C) is a local East Yorkshire Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and real-world fat loss expert. He has helped countless individuals change their lives through postive habits with a focus on tried and tested methods. For more details about Personal Training, Fitness Bootcamps, Free Articles and more – check his website (www.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk) and his Bootcamp Blog (blog.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk).

References

1 Gusi N, Raimundo A, Leal A. (2006) Low-frequency vibratory exercise reduces the risk of bone fracture more than walking: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord.Nov 30;7:92.

2 Bullock N, Martin DT, Ross A, Rosemond CD, Jordan MJ, Marino FE. (2008) Acute effect of whole-body vibration on sprint and jumping performance in elite skeleton athletes.J Strength Cond Res. Jul;22(4):1371-4.

3 Nordlund MM, Thorstensson A. (2007) Strength training effects of whole-body vibration? Scand.J Med Sci Sports. Feb;17(1):12-7