Cereal Killer!


A great blog post from Warren Mckeown which I’ve been meaning to post for some time. Always remember to start the day with a blood sugar stabilising protein and healthy fats breakfast. You can’t go wrong!

What do you have for breakfast? Cornflakes, Bran Flakes, Special K? Since their inception, cereals have been pedalled as the ‘healthy’ way to start your day but do you reallyknow what they contain? Sure they’ve got all those great health benefits right? Like they’re high in fibre, and vitamins and low in fat? And heck, eating some cereal can even help you shed pounds right?! Well, be prepared – what I’m about to tell you might shock you…

If you’re a cereal fan, what you’re eating for breakfast may actually be doing you more harm than good! Now, I’m not a Nutritionist or Food Scientist, only a humble Personal Trainer with a keen interest in what I put into my body. But the fact is I don’t need to have a degree in nutrition or dietetics to be a ‘FOOD DETECTIVE’ when I go into the supermarket and pick up a box or packet. Like anyone else, I’m drawn to the bright packets and good marketing, but the stuff that really interests me is the small writing on the back of that packaging – the ingredients list! It’s this information that lets me know what I’m eating and what I’m putting into my body to fuel it (would you go down the gas-station to put diesel in your unleaded car and NOT check the label on the pump first?!).

Now, I admit that often when I read the label on a packaged food I don’t know what all the ingredients are. However, this is exactly what causes me concern – If I don’t know what an ingredient is (or especially if I can’t even pronounce it!) I see it as a warning that: ‘If I don’t know what this, I am not going to put it into my body’. Most of the time (not all, but most) the main ingredient in a boxed cereal is refined sugar, and it may be listed using a different name – sugar comes under many guises. Here are just a few to look out for :

- Anything ending in ‘ose‘ (e.g. glucose,fructose, dextrose, maltose, lactose)

- Nectar

- Dextrin

- Fruit juice concentrate

- Syrup

- Molasses

Now you may still think that this is no big deal but how much sugar do you consume in a day? How much sugar do you add to your tea or coffee? What about the sugar added to the sandwich or soup you ate at lunchtime (check the ingredients – sugar won’t be the first ingredient listed, but in most cases sandwiches and soups do contain some added sugar)? How much was in those biscuits you had in the afternoon? …Basically, it all adds up and you could be consuming a lot more sugar than you realise and excess sugar consumption can have devastating effects on health:

1. Sugar is an empty calorie: i.e. it doesn’t contain any fibre, protein, fats, vitamins or minerals! Furthermore, your body has to borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the sugar – for example, calcium is drawn from the bones and teeth to help ‘neutralise’ the effects of sugar, and over time this can lead to an increased risk of both osteoporosis and kidney stones.

2. Sugar can contribute to overweight and obesity.

3. Sugar can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

4. Sugar can increase the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

Now I realise it can be hard to cut back on ALL the sugar in your diet, but perhaps one of the best ways to reduce your sugar consumption might be to swap your processed ‘healthy’ cereal (with its added sugar) for an alternative breakfast?

Personally, I like to ‘eat like a Caveman’. Yes you read that right, A Caveman! Did cavemen open a box and pour milk over the top? No. And did they suffer from obesity? No.

For breakfast I have Meat, nuts (e.g. cashews, almonds, brazil nuts) and berries. This breakfast keeps me fuller for longer as I get the protein my body needs for regeneration and repair from the meat, essential fats from the nuts, and lots of wonderful antioxidants from the berries (blueberries are a personal favourite of mine). Now this is just my own preferred breakfast, but there are LOTS of other alternatives to cereal that are just as tasty and much more nutritious – e.g. scrambled eggs and spinach; oatmeal (from rolled oats with no added sugar or ingredients – not the ‘instant’ oats!) with nuts, seeds and berries; plain natural yoghurt with fruit, nuts and seeds…the list goes on!

Nowadays obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes are getting to epidemic proportions, so now more than ever it’s important to be aware of how you start your day and what you ‘fuel’ you and your family with. Try to make better food choices and become a FOOD DETECTIVE like me – always check the label for hidden sugars! And remember, often the easiest way to know what you’re eating is to keep it simple and eat whole foods that don’t come in packages – like fresh fruit and veg and meats!

Next time I will talk more in-depth about sugar and why it is ‘bad’ for your health (as well as your waistline).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marathon Training – Can less be more

Check out this guest piece of blogging from one of my clients – Katherine Davis. Katherine decided to take on the challenge of the 2012 London Marathon and this piece explains how she got here and gives a great insight into how less really can be more…..

Seven years ago I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I hadn’t run since school so I was a complete beginner and I didn’t have a clue what my body could (or couldn’t) do, so I chose one of the recommended training guides for beginners and followed it religiously. I joined a gym and trained four or five times a week. The schedule included runs of varying lengths and speeds, cross-training sessions and a gradually increasing weekly long run. My body coped surprisingly well, only eventually giving in to an overuse injury three weeks before the marathon date, unfortunately forcing me to pull out.

Seven years on and I’ve got another marathon place, only this time it’s different. I know my body, I know what I’m capable of and I have the knowledge and experience gained all those years ago. In short, I learnt my lesson. When I found out I’d got a ballot place in October I decided I’d make up my own bespoke training schedule. My fitness levels were pretty average and I could only run continuously for 15 minutes so I felt like I was starting from scratch again. I was very aware just how much work there was to be done to make me a marathon runner, but I didn’t want to risk injury again by overtraining. I also wanted my training to fit into my lifestyle, so as well as the fitness sessions I included holistic massages, sports massages and random yoga workouts for flexibility and core strength. I also included a ‘treat week’ every month where I could eat all the chocolate I wanted to, because above all else I didn’t want my training to feel like punishment, I wanted to enjoy it! I came up with a schedule based on a simple four week rota:

Week 1 = 1x 40min session

Weeks 2 and 3 = 2x 60 min sessions each week

Week 4 = 1x 30min session and 1x long run (increasing by 30minutes each time)

Two of the 60 minute sessions were a marathon-pace run, but the other sessions were open for me to do whatever I felt like on the day. Sometimes that was still a marathon-pace run, other times it was dancing, swimming or interval training. For me it was important to have this variation and flexibility within the schedule so it wasn’t the same monotonous training each week. The variety also meant that I worked different muscles and didn’t repeatedly stress the same parts of my body, allowing my ‘running’ muscles and joints time to recover and reducing the risk of injury.

With marathon training there’s a certain amount of pressure to be fit enough for the big day and many people worry that by taking rest days they are losing training time, however rest is a necessary part of any training schedule. Once my monthly long run was up to two hours I changed Week 1 to a ‘no running’ recovery week, which often meant I went a week and a half without any training sessions at all. In this time I didn’t completely lose the ability to run, I didn’t find my next long run any harder and I hadn’t lost any of my muscle strength, lung capacity or stamina. When it comes to training it’s easy to forget that rest and recovery are just as important as running and that sometimes less really is more.

When I trained seven years ago I blindly followed the suggested schedule because I didn’t know any better. I thought that if I didn’t do as much training as they recommended I wouldn’t be capable of running a marathon. It sounds stupid now, but at the time I didn’t consider that I knew my body better than a generalised training programme. I know if I’m getting too tired from early morning runs before work, I know if I need more time to recover after a long run, I know if I need another rest day. A non-specific training schedule obviously doesn’t take any of this into account because it’s not based on me and my needs.

‘Less is more’ training worked for me. I’m not saying it’s right for everyone but I think it’s important for beginners to know that it is an option. By definition, when you’re a beginner in anything you have no experience of what you’re doing and so you learn by example; if everyone around you is following schedules which have them running a minimum of four times a week then you think that’s what you should be doing too. Without having the knowledge and the confidence to trust that you know what will work best for you it’s easy to end up blindly following a generic training guide instead of listening to your body and doing what’s right for you.

On 22nd April I’ll be running the London Marathon to raise money for Mind. All donations are very much appreciated and if you’d like to sponsor me you can do so online at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/katherinedavis


Posted in Personal Training, Running, Sports Massage Therapy, Swindon | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should I consume caffeine before my workout?


Today I am covering a topic near and dear to many of your hearts: caffeine. But I don’t just cover caffeine; I explore whether caffeine truly does act as a diuretic, especially during exercise, and whether or not caffeine can actually be helpful to athletic performance. Should we all be downing mugs of joe or cups of tea before we hit the gym or head outdoors?

First, let’s tackle the dehydration question. It has undoubtedly become “common knowledge” that coffee is a potent, perhaps the most potent, diuretic, that drinking it is like drinking negative water, and that if you’re stuck on a desert island you’d be better off drinking your own saliva than that steaming cup of joe from the Starbucks that inexplicably decided to set up shop on a desert island. Yeah, there are a lot of scary stories about coffee, but does it hold up to scrutiny?

No. A quick search on PubMed turns up a couple German-only studies with vociferously and unambiguously worded titles but no abstracts (“Coffee does not cause dehydration!” and “Coffee does not dehydrate. New studies of Germany’s favorite addiction: coffee.”), as well as some English ones with abstracts:

  • One from the University of Connecticut measured fluid, electrolyte, and renal indices of hydration over eleven days of caffeine consumption in human subjects. Doses of up to 6 mg caffeine per kilogram of body weight had no effect on body mass, urine osmolality (urine concentration), urine specific gravity (concentration of excreted materials in urine), urine color, urine volume, sodium excretion, potassium secretion, creatinine content, blood urea nitrogen (forms when protein breaks down), and serum levels of sodium and potassium, causing the researchers to conclude that caffeine does not cause dehydration.
  • Another compared hydration markers in patients who consumed either caffeinated beverages (coffee and cola), non-caffeinated beverages (coffee and other sodas), and/or water. The effect on hydration status was essentially uniform across all beverage categories, regardless of caffeine content.
  • And finally, a review from the American College of Sports Medicine found that not only does caffeine not reduce hydration nor induce electrolyte imbalances, it has no effect on heat tolerance during exercise.

I think that settles that. Caffeine does not dehydrate you or cause you to overheat. It’s “safe.” It’s not bad for the active athlete.

But is it actually good? Does it do anything except fail to dehydrate you?

Oh, yeah. Let’s dig into the literature to find out what it can do for your athletic performance.

Endurance Exercise

Most of exercise/caffeine literature centers on endurance training and performance. I remember back when I was running, the most oft-cited benefit to caffeine before a race or training was that it would increase the oxidation of fat, thus sparing muscle glycogen. That sounds nice and tidy, and it would be awesome if it were true, but the most recent evidence suggests that caffeine has little, if any, effect on fat or glycogen metabolism during endurance exercise. So what are we to make of the older evidence that does show a difference in fat oxidation after caffeine ingestion? Or the 1992 study that found caffeine reduced the tendency of muscle to burn glycogen early on during extended bouts of exercise, thus “sparing” it for later on?

It may be that caffeine simply makes exercise more tolerable, makes muscles work harder and better, and allows those exercising to do so harder. One study found that while pre-workout caffeine did not spare glycogen, it did boost the endorphin response to exercise. If endorphins are high, exercise is more tolerable, even enjoyable. If caffeine can increase the runner’s high, it’s also going to make exercise more effective and more self-perpetuating.

Whatever the case may be, the literature is pretty clear that caffeine improves endurance performance, perhaps by enhancing fuel partitioning or making exercise more tolerable and enjoyable.

Anaerobic Exercise

The extent of research into the effects of caffeine on anaerobic performance – think sprints, weight lifting, and interval training – is limited, but useful literature exists. One review, from 2009, noted that while caffeine appears beneficial to speed endurance training (in the realm of 60 to 180 seconds) and high intensity interval training (HIIT), it has limited use in power sports. It may help lower body muscle endurance, but it appears to have a minimal effect on the upper body. The authors propose a number of mechanisms for caffeine’s action, including enhanced calcium transport and the old fat utilization/glycogen sparing thing, but the most promising idea is that caffeine simply stimulates the central nervous system enough to blunt adenosine receptors, increase pain tolerance, and dampen perceived exertion.

What about resistance training? In one study, caffeine ingestion boosted trained women’s 1RM in the bench press (PDF). In another, caffeine seemed to have no effect. A review from 2010 determined that short-term, acute ingestion of caffeine is beneficial in team-based and power sports, but mostly in individuals who did not routinely ingest caffeine. Six of eleven resistance training studies reviewed in the study showed benefits to caffeine ingestion, so the evidence remains fairly equivocal.

Thus, when you drink coffee before lifting heavy things or sprinting, your performance will not suffer – and it may even improve.

It may even be a simpler, less exciting explanation than anything overtly physiological: that the “benefits” of caffeine to physical performance may actually be a cessation of the negative effects of caffeine withdrawal. As Sweat Science points out in a recent post, before double-blind trials on the effect of caffeine on performance, participants must abstain from caffeine for a day or two. If they’re habitual caffeine fiends (as many people are), by the time they begin the study they’re already suffering withdrawals. Studies on cognitive performance and caffeine have found that when you account for the withdrawal effect, caffeine has little to no benefit to performance. Researchers have yet to examine the withdrawal effect in studies on athletic performance, but it appears a likely candidate for at least some of the reported benefit to caffeine consumption.

It’s also important not to lose sight of the fact that most of us are drinking coffee, not popping pure caffeine pills. Coffee contains tons of polyphenols, bioactive compounds that could have beneficial (or negative) effects on exercise performance. Most of the studies are looking at caffeine, so they have to isolate it. But if you’re drinking coffee, shouldn’t you look for studies that examine coffee? There’s a recent one that found ingesting coffee polyphenols increased fat oxidation (PDF). Of course, the caffeine, polyphenol, and other bioactive compound contents of coffee are not stable. Coffee is a food made up of hundreds of factors. It’s not just a source of caffeine. Based on soil conditions, climate, elevation, roast, and variety of bean, two cups of coffee can display remarkably different characteristics, and it’s likely that the effects of each on exercise performance will also differ.

Bottom line, though: if coffee makes you perform better, keep drinking it before, during, or after you workout. At least we can say for sure that it’s not dehydrating you.

How does coffee affect  your workouts? Better? Worse? No effect? Let me know in the comments!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dear-mark-should-i-consume-caffeine-before-my-workout/#ixzz1n21dVLq5

Posted in Articles, Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who said triathletes were obsessive?

Check out this hilarious video from the US which I have to say is spot on! It definitely sums up most of the triathlon population I know!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fizzy drinks? Think again!

Fizzy Pop Pop!!

Next time you’re reaching for the lemonade in the fridge or the cola in the petrol station shop just ask yourself “What impact is this soda having on my health?” Not the greatest I can assure you. As well as giving the usual sugar highs and lows after consumption, check the reasons why you should go for the water……..

Asthma - Sodium benzoate found in most soda is used as a preservative in foods. Sodium preservatives add sodium to the diet and reduce the availability of potassium. Some of the reported reactions to sodium benzoate include skin rashes, eczema and asthma.

Kidney Issues & Osteoporosis - Colas contain high levels of phosphoric acid which has been linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. Did you know that if you are male, caucasian and very overweight you are more likely to develop kidney stones?Ministry of the bleeding obvious! Also a high phosphate diet is linked to bone breakdown increasing the risk of osteoporosis. When we urinate after drinking sodas we excrete phosphorus which deprives us of that all important bone nourishing calcium.

Obesity - The relationship between soft drink consumption and bodyweight is so strong that researchers found that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity is increased by 1.6 times. 70% of cardiovascular disease is related to obesity, 42% of breast and colon cancer is diagnosed in obese individuals and 30% of gall bladder surgery is related to obesity. Scary!

Heart Disease & Diabetes - Most soft drinks contain fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that has come under considerable scrutiny. High fructose corn syrup has been associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with an elevated risk of both diabetes and coronary disease. Those who drink fizzy drinks have an 80% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Dissolves Tooth Enamel - The sugar and acid in soft drinks can easily dissolve tooth enamel leading to decay and death of the tooth.

Reproductive Issues - Soft drink cans are coated with a resin that contains BPA (bisphenyl-A). This is the same cancer causing chemical that has been found in some plastic bottles that can reek havoc on the endocrine system potentially causing premature pubity and reproductive issues.

Picture published from Freedigitalphotos.net

Posted in Articles, diabetes, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

To stretch or not to stretch, that is the question…

I was talking to a client the other day and when he told me how often he was stretching I couldn’t quite believe it. In fact if he was stretching as frequently and for as long as he said he was before each run I am surprised he even had time to go out and plod the pavements! What’s more he is still stiff as a board and regularly pulls up with calf problems!

Stretch it out!

So the debate continues, “what does stretching before running actually achieve”? Contrary to the widely held view that stretching before exercise is important there still seems to be little evidence to support this. There have been dozens of studies and years of debate, but nobody really knows whether stretching helps, harms, or does anything in particular to aid flexibility, improve performance or reduce injury rates. Stretched muscle fibres can make them less stable in turn reducing your balance and reaction time hence making you more prone to injury. Yet most people remain convinced that stretching helps. I believe if your goal is to prevent injury then stretching alone probably wont be enough but warming up will definitely help. Using functional exercises that take you through ranges of movement that mimic your desired exercise will help to reduce the risk of injury.

Flexibility on the other hand has is different. I think it has become another area where some people are overdoing it. Now there can be no doubt that certain types of sports require you to be extremely flexible in order to do them, such as martial arts and gymnastics, but do runners need to be overly flexible? I know they need to be efficient and even though I’m no running coach flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean greater efficiency, does it? I mean if you take into account statistical variations (genetic pre-disposition) and the fact that we are all built differently. Just because one person responds really well to stretching it doesn’t necessarily mean that another will. I know people that have never stretched before or after exercise let alone developmentally and rather curiously guess what? They have never had an issues! Now I’m not saying that you should go out stop stretching immediately but I am saying if something in your programme is working for you then have an open mind to making some changes. If that means trying not doing it or changing the amount or even way you stretch then so be it. You just need to make sure you control how you do this by making small changes and monitoring the results closely.

In my experience people who do cyclic types of sports like running/triathlon etc train at those disciplines, stretch a little and that’s about it. Personally I believe there is much more mileage (no pun intended!) in looking at the bigger picture if you are hoping to improve. The people I have worked with that have been prepared to look at an all round cross training package to compliment their current regime have been the ones that have seen improvement. By adding in developmental stretching or yoga to a regime that already covers nutrition, functional movement exercises and regular massage/soft tissue work I believe we can expect better results!

I welcome your thoughts!

Picture published from Freedigitalphotos.net

Posted in Articles, Functional Training, Running, Sports Massage Therapy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So what is it with achilles tendonopathy?

You may well have also heard it called achilles tendonitis or tendonosis but who cares what it’s called right? Technically speaking it’s a right old pain in the backside.

First of all you want to know exactly what it is. The term tendinopathy is commonly used as a collective term for tendonitis and tendinosis. Tendonitis (the most common term) implies inflammation of the tendon while tendinosis refers to tendon pain that occurs as a symptom of a series of microtears in the connective tissue in or around the tendon.

(picture courtesy of health central.com)

In recent weeks I seem to have had a spate of clients coming in to see me with this same persistent achilles problem which is really making me question what is going on. Surely it’s too many people for it to be coincidental. Surely it can’t be that everyone has taken up hill running with no training all at once. Of course if you google it you will find the usual gumpf about exactly what the causes of the condition are. Speak to a running coach and they will tell you its your running style and it is clearly an overuse issue due to all your inefficiencies. Talk to any kind of therapist and they will tell you its down to musculoskeletal dysfunction of some kind that needs to be treated using a variety of techniques including ultrasound, soft tissue work, joint mobilization, eccentric loading exercises, numerous taping strategies. Blah, Blah, Blah! Others will point the finger at environmental changes such as trainers wearing out, too much mileage in new trainers, running on uneven surfaces or up and down too many hills. Maybe it’s over pronation or supination which must surely need treating with expensive orthoses right? Maybe not…..

Although there are some innovative and pioneering approaches out there, more often that not these approaches can be expensive and are not readily available to most of us.

In my experience both personally and professionally there doesn’t seem to be any standardised protocol in resolving this annoying problem. I have had as much success treating this using the gentle approach as I have have had being more aggressive. For some, rest helps, others need more robust and often painful approaches designed to aggravate and re-stimulate the healing process. No two cases are the same. Perhaps it is time to think outside the box. Is there something else going on? For instance could we link this spate of injuries to the weather and climate conditions? What about stress? All I know is that we often find solutions to our problems in the last place we think of looking so I suggest keeping an open mind.

Of course you will be disappointed to hear that unfortunately I don’t have all of the answers. But, I can treat as I find, make suggestions and empathise!

Posted in Articles, Running, Sports Massage Therapy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuffed olives may hold key to beating heartburn misery

This interesting article from the Daily Mail claims that a cure cure for heartburn and acid reflux may soon be on the way. I hope so because I flipping well love olives!


A compound used to make stuffed olives could be a treatment for an extreme form of acid reflux. Sodium alginate, which occurs naturally in brown algae, is commonly used to ‘glue’ pimento strips into olives. It is already used to combat heartburn, and scientists have discovered it also appears to stop acid and other stomach contents escaping up into the throat and nose — the symptoms of a type of acid reflux known as laryngopharyngeal, or ‘silent’ reflux.

A trial at Southampton University involving 1,500 patients will compare the effects of sodium alginate to proton pump inhibitor drugs, which are the standard treatment for acid reflux. Silent reflux is a relatively newly recognised condition — it occurs as a result of the backflow of stomach contents, including partially digested food, stomach juices and acids, up into the throat.

This back-flow is meant to be prevented by muscles and valves at the top and bottom of the oesophagus, or gullet. When the valve at the bottom of the gullet is not working properly, stomach acids flow into it, irritating the lining and causing pain associated with heartburn. This form of reflux is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and experts estimate that at least one in five people will have one episode of it a week.

In some people, the muscle at the top of the gullet stops working properly and stomach acid flows into the throat, voicebox and nasal chambers. Laryngopharyngeal reflux is found in one in ten people with heartburn, though experts say this number may be much higher. The throat and voicebox have much more sensitive linings than the gullet, so a tiny amount of acid can cause irritation.

Laryngopharyngeal reflux is found in one in ten people with heartburn

This results in a range of symptoms including a sensation of a lump in the throat, a chronic cough, excessive throat clearing, voice changes and problems swallowing. The disorder is known as silent reflux because half of people with it do not have heartburn, probably because the acids pass through and exit via the upper valve so quickly that they don’t have time to irritate the much tougher lining of the oesophagus. Nevertheless, it is thought the condition may increase the risk of some types of oesophageal cancer.

Medications for silent reflux include antacids, which neutralise acid from the stomach, and proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid. Researchers involved in the trial at Southampton hope sodium alginate will provide another treatment. This carbohydrate is widely used in the food industry for its thickening and gel-forming abilities. Sodium alginate is thought to work by floating on the surface of the stomach contents, preventing or reducing any back flow.

Though some heartburn treatments use this compound, it has never before been trialled for silent reflux. Trial patients will be split  into groups before they receive   a proton-pump-inhibitor, a placebo or sodium alginate.  Researchers will carry out a number of tests and examinations, including the effects on the voicebox (larynx) and a tissue biopsy before and after treatment.

Commenting on the research, Dr Marcus Harbord, consultant gastroenterologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and The Lister Hospital, says: ‘This is an interesting idea. The concept is that the sodium alginate forms a gel over the stomach contents to prevent back flow.’ 

‘A number of alginate preparations are used for heartburn, but its use in laryngopharyngeal reflux is useful as it prevents not just acids, but other stomach content, flowing back.

‘That is important because they can also damage the sensitive linings of the throat and larynx. ‘Proton-pump inhibitors are in widespread use, but they are expensive. ‘People using them have a threefold increase of acquiring a hospital infection, such as Clostridium difficile infection, a common cause of diarrhoea in hospital.’

Picture published from Posted in Articles, Nutrition, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fed up with your job? You can make the leap but take a good look first

Sorry guys this one is just a bit of  shameless self promotion here and an old article that I managed to get published in the Independent last year (with a little help from my friends!).

Lee Paines always dreamt of earning a living from sport, but he spent more than a decade toiling away at an engineering firm before finally plucking up the courage to quit his job and follow his heart. The football and martial arts enthusiast devoted his free time to studying for a qualification in sports massage therapy before giving in his notice and turning his passion into a full-time occupation.

“I had a good, stable job and income but wasn’t enjoying it any more so decided to go back to college,” recalls Lee, 34, from Swindon. “Once I qualified I started the business part time – working in the evenings after work to build up a client base.”

He also concentrated on getting his name known in the area by distributing business cards and launching his own website, www.leepaines.co.uk, on which he provides details of his services alongside health and fitness tips. Since taking the leap into self-employment, Lee has gone from operating a mobile service to working out of a top-class hotel in Swindon and then on to his own self-contained unit where he can train and treat clients.

“Even when you have a client base you’re never quite sure when the phone is going to ring, but although things were uncertain for a few months it’s been well worthwhile,” he adds. “I’ve even qualified as a personal trainer as well for an added dimension.” Despite the costs involved – he sold his car to help cover the £6,000 for qualifications and the similar amount spent on equipment – Lee has no regrets. “I would tell other people who want a career change to plan their exit strategy and go for it!”

According to Catherine Roan, managing director of the website Careershifters.org (www.careershifters.org), the two most common reasons to begin searching for a new direction are wanting more fulfilment and being made redundant.

“Many people have been doing the same job for a number of years but want to do something that really makes a difference,” she explains. “It’s either making them completely miserable or just not using any of their skills.”

For those that find themselves out of work it’s a slightly different situation. These individuals may be more than happy in their current careers but are in an industry that may be shrinking quickly and the chances of getting an alternative position are slim.

“Some people will have a burning ambition of what they want to do with their lives but the majority aren’t sure – they just know they want to be doing something different,” she adds. “They know they’re unhappy and are looking for a solution.”

So what can those who find themselves in this situation do about it? What steps do they need to take to get on a more suitable career path – and is there a danger of believing that the grass is going to be greener elsewhere?

To read the full article follow this link to the Independent

Posted in About, Articles, Personal Training, Sports Massage Therapy, Swindon | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A step too far?

Now never let it be said that I don’t have an open mind and that I am against trying out new ideas but I’m inclined to think that American personal trainer Drew Manning has taken things too the extreme. In a nutshell this ripped fitness fanatic stuffed his face relentlessly over a six month period to gain an astonishing eighty pounds of weight (that’s nearly six stone!), with the express intention of losing all of this gained weight over the next six months!  Now I’m sure as an American he was able to adapt rather easily to this new regime of incessant gizzard stuffing but I have to say I think it is a good effort. I mean I’ve practised this stuff and I couldn’t quite push the morbidly obese category!

Week 1      Week 23
The 30-year-old, from Eagle Mountain, Utah, wants to use the project as a way to help understand the physical, emotional and mental toll that weight gain and weight loss may have – and hopes that his new knowledge will equip him to help others.

Now I’m all for trying out new things and I have to say all of the things I try out with my clients whether it be therapy, training or nutrition I try out first. In fact one of my more inspiring clients has convinced me to follow the paleolithic diet which is a primal way of eating and I have found this works well for me. But, thought provoking as this is, I’m not sure this is something I’ll be having a go at.

However Drew gets on with his challenge I take my hat off to his monumental effort. Even if he fails in his bid to lose the weight or to truly understand why people struggle with weight gain it is certainly great publicity and I’m sure he will be laughing all the way to the bank in the long run! I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how he’s got on at the end of the six months.

If you would like to read more about this guy check out the Daily Mail website or check out his own website at www.fit2fat2fit.com

Posted in Articles, diabetes, Nutrition, Personal Training, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment