Give booze the boot

Alcohol cant be stored in the body so it must be oxidised and converted to energy. If this energy isn’t used, it gets stored as fat. If you want to see drastic changes to your body shape knock the booze on the head or at least cut down! With a pint of bitter the same as a medium slice of pizza, and a standard size ‘ready to drink’ bottle (‘alcopop’) the same as 100g of cookies, the calories in alcohol soon add up…

Gin or vodka and tonic =126
Dark rum and coke =142
Medium glass of white wine (175ml) =130
Medium glass of red wine (175ml) =120
Bottle of wine (white) =555
Bottle of wine (red) =510
5% Lager (pint) =240-50
Cider (pint) =180-250

The Government guidelines recommend that women should not regularly exceed 2-3 units daily and that men should not regularly exceed 3-4 units daily. Drinking within these guidelines, and trying to give yourself a couple of days off alcohol every week, will help you avoid piling on the pounds.

Eat up
Along with drinking alcohol comes the temptation to eat fattening snacks – crisps and salted nuts in the pub, and chip shop on the way home. A healthy meal before you go out can help to slow down the absorption of alcohol and so helps you stay in control. With less alcohol inside you that greasy pizza or kebab will look a lot less appetising at chucking out time too. Slow-releasing, complex carbs, such as whole-wheat bread, pulses or brown rice, give your body more energy for longer. Combine them with lots of vegetables and some lean protein and you’ll be the life and soul of the party, without feeling the need to turn to alcohol to keep your spirits high.

The benefits of Personal Training

Personal Training is all about staying motivated, getting results and keeping on the right track. I believe that personal training is more than having someone to train with you. A personal trainer can guide you through your entire programme of health and fitness development, including sessions in and out of the gym.

Below are five benefits that you can expect by working with a personal trainer.

1 – Motivation. You will never do the same workout twice so you won’t get the chance to become bored with your sessions

2 – Efficiency. Personal Trainers know what exercises will work best for you and your body, more effective workouts mean you achieve your aims and goals quicker

3 – Weight Loss. Regular training sessions doing the right type of exercise will mean that you start losing weight and more importantly keep it off

4 – More from your membership. Personal trainers will teach you exercises and programmes to do on your own outside of personal training sessions

5 – Enjoyment. Sessions will be fun with regular challenges and competitions to ensure that working out doesn’t become hard work.

Please feel free to leave a comment about how personal training has helped you or any other benefits you can think of.

Ditch Junk Food

Junk food contains very little nutritional value. Instead it contains a high amount of fats and sugars which raise insulin levels and promote fat storage within your body. If you ditch the following from your diet you will definitely be heading in the right direction.

-Fizzy drinks
-Pastry products
-Ready meals

Load up on veg
The most filling foods are fruit and veg as they have a high volume per calorie. Not only does the water and fibre content in fruit and veg add bulk to food they are also packed with vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. By replacing your junk food intake with fruit and veg will make a massive difference to your body and your energy levels.

Pack in the protein
Protein keeps you fuller for longer, plus your body uses more calories to digest it than carbs or fat. Aim to have a portion of protein with each meal. Not only will this keep you feeling satisfied but also helps you to maintain and build muscle.

Tickle your taste buds
Once you feel confident in eating healthily and exercising make sure that you reward yourself for all your hard work. Many people find that a day off from healthy eating satisfies the cravings. By allowing yourself the occasional bar of chocolate or pizza you will stop thinking of it as forbidden food and avoid messy blowouts that undoes your hard work.

Why I needed a personal trainer

I started training Kirsty in February this year and as she is doing so well I asked if she would explain why she wanted a personal trainer and how she has found it so far. Here is her story.

The main reason I started working with Aimee on my fitness is because for too long I have been sat behind a computer, on a bus, then on a sofa.

On the first session I was really nervous, because the last time I had run was probably at school 10 years ago. But I found Aimee really helpful and we took it at my own pace – it wasn’t scary at all.

I started to feel the benefits of exercising straight away. The first time you do it you get such a great buzz because you have taken the first step to becoming healthier and you instantly feel more alive.

Aimee set me a series of goals – one of them was to take part in the 5k race for life this summer. I think having something to work towards really helped, even if it’s something small like fitting in to a dress. I have found to all my clothes fit a lot better now and after 2 months I have lost over stone! I have to check my scales in case they are lying to me – it is such a great achievement.

The toughest thing I have found is the change of lifestyle. I now eat better and try to exercise three times a week. I walk or ride my bike to work and try to take the stairs instead of the lift. But it is doable and it took a couple of days of sulking from me to get in to the swing of things. However, I really do feel better and having Aimee to support me through it has been invaluable. If I was to exercise on my own I wouldn’t push myself, I would probably walk down my hill and then give up.

It’s not as bad as it sounds this exercising thing – it is actually good fun! Now I need to keep going and not eat too many more cakes.

p.s – try Tea Box tea… it’s amazing!!

Break the Fast

Breakfast is one of the most important, if not the most important meal of your day, the clue is in the name! Breakfast or Breaking the fast, breaks the overnight fasting state that it has been in overnight while you were sleeping. Breakfast will kick start your metabolism and it will provide you with energy to get through to your mid morning (healthy) snack.

Another important point to make here about breakfast is that if you eat it out instead of at home it can increase (studies have shown more than double) the risk of obesity. Eating breakfast at home means you can control your portion sizes and you will be less tempted to “supersize”.

It doesnt have to be a fancy posh breakfast either. A simple healthy breakfast might consisit of bran flakes with banana on top and a glass of orange juice.

Why not plan your breakfasts for the week ahead to make it even easier!

GYMBOSS Interval Timer

I recently bought a GYMBOSS interval timer to use when I am training my clients and I can safely say its the best bit of kit that I have!!

The GYMBOSS is a repeating interval timer that can also be used as a stopwatch. The small piece of kit is easy to use and allows me to concentrate on correcting my clients technique and providing encouragement throughout the training session. I purchased my timer from Amazon for about £14 and it comes in a range of colours.

The GYMBOSS can be set up to beep or vibrate at the start/end of each interval. I prefer the beep as my clients know when to move on to the next exercise. The timer does show the time counting down between intervals so I can keep clients informed of how long they have left before they move on. You can also have two sets of intervals. I use this function for rest and work intervals.

The GYMBOSS looks smart, is easy to operate but most importantly stops my clients from cheating by distracting me between sets!!!!!

Highly recommended if you are a personal trainer or for controlling your own personal workouts.
gymboss timer

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiovascular disease encompasses all disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the largest cause of cardiovascular disease mortality. Death rates from CHD are much higher in Eastern and Central European countries however the UK still has the highest death rate among the more developed countries.

CHD is the most common cause of premature (before the age of 75) death in the UK. Although mortality rates have declined over the past thirty years, medical and scientific advancements in the diagnostic techniques and surgical interventions have resulted in an increase on the overall burden of CHD in terms of health resources. This burden is also increased due to the fact that people are living longer. Measures can be taken to reduce the risk factors for CHD, including living a healthy lifestyle, medication and increasing levels of physical activity.

Like all major illnesses CHD has a physical, psychological and behavioural impact on peoples lives. This can, in turn increase the risk of subsequent cardiac events by introducing a barrier to lifestyle modification. For example patients with CHD may be afraid of increasing their levels of physical activity after an event in case this increased activity then leads to further damage of their heart and another cardiac event that could prove more serious.

Primary prevention strategies and programmes are now becoming more common around the UK as the issues and effects of CHD are becoming more apparent. There is also an increased emphasis on cardiac rehabilitation after a cardiac event in order to prevent a secondary event from occurring.

Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) is a coordinated, multifaceted intervention, designed to optimise a cardiac patient’s physical, psychological and social well being. The overall aim of CR is to return the patient back to full health following a cardiac event, therefore preventing further cardiac complications.

Exercise and physical activity has been a central component of the CR process for several reasons. Supervised exercise can help restore the patient’s confidence and feelings of well-being following a cardiac event. This important component of CR can prevent or even reverse the progression of the underlying atherosclerotic processes, thereby reducing further morbidity and mortality. Exercise and physical activity can also act as a core activity to provide psychological and social support to the patient.

Every Little Helps!

By now most people know about the benefits of being fit and active, however a common barrier is often time, with people struggling to fit exercise into their busy weekly routine.

Even though the government recommend being moderately active for at least 30 minutes on at least five days of the week, a trip to the gym can easily turn into an hour or so out of your day. To make the 30 minute goal more achievable you can break it down into smaller chunks. You might start out with three lots of 10 minutes blocks eventually taking that to two lots of 15 minute blocks and one day being able to do it in a full 30 minute block.

There are four main types of exercise and you should aim to fit in all four during the week. These are


This is any repetitive rhythmic movement involving large muscle group. You can meet your 30 minute target by

Getting of the bus a stop earlier
Parking your car at the furthest point away from the entrance
Walking the dogs (sounds silly but I have had people looked shocked when I suggested this one!!!)
Walking the kids to school
Walking to work
Mowing the lawn or raking leaves
Kicking a ball around with the kids

My favourite one was a lady who took each item of clothing straight up the stairs to the wardrobe after ironing each piece!!!

By making your muscles work harder they get stronger! You can make your muscles work harder by

Doing free weights at home
Taking the stairs rather than lifts or escalators
Walking up the stairs two at a time
Carrying the shopping bags rather than using a trolley
Attending a circuit class
Washing the car

This is the range of movement at each of your joints.

To improve your flexibility you can try a yoga, pilates or tai chi class. These classes really help your flexibility and posture and can be great to help you relax at the end of the day.

Another great tip is to incorporate being active into your social life. If you usually meet friends in the pub why not suggest a pilates class instead. Its much more fun with a group of friends!


Balance and flexibility are so important for maintaining independence as we get older. The more you challenge your balance the better it will improve.

Try brushing your teeth standing on one leg and swapping half way through. You all (hopefully) brush your teeth twice a day and you will soon find that you are not needing to hang on to the side of the basin as you brush!!!!

Try making your 30 minutes fun, that way you are more likely to look forward to it and it will seem less like a chore. Involve friends, go dancing, play with the kids. If you find going to the gym boring – don’t go!! You are much more likely to stick to something you enjoy and see the benefits quicker.

You will be surprised at how easily you can achieve these goals by making a few changes to your usual routine. Remember “Every Little Helps!”

If you need personalised advice on how to fit more exercise into your routine please feel free to contact me.

Physical Activity Referral Schemes

According to the Department of Health the majority of people in the UK are sedentary and would benefit from becoming more physically active and the estimated annual cost due to inactivity and obesity is over £10 billion.

GPs can play a very important role in identifying large amounts of the population who are sedentary and would benefit from becoming more physically active.  However due to time restrictions and a lack of exercise knowledge in primary care, physical activity referral schemes (PARS) can help to increase patient’s physical activity levels in the aim of improving or eliminating certain medial conditions.

PARS are specialist; time limited courses that have become a major route for introducing sedentary people into physical activity over the past ten years.  PARS exist to support, encourage and motivate patients to become more physically active, more often.  The PARS also provide a range of physical activity options for patients suffering from certain specific medical conditions.  GPs can refer ‘eligible’ patients to a scheme in their area where individuals are offered specialist support from appropriately qualified staff in becoming more physically active.  There are some conditions which an individual may have, which are ‘contraindications’ for physical activity i.e. individuals with these specified conditions are unable to take part in physical activity due to the ‘risk’ to the patient such as unstable angina.

The effectiveness of PARS has been questioned in the past, but in my experience creating multidisciplinary partnerships between local authorities, PCT, health professionals, leisure centres and exercise professionals will ensure that this service will reach those who will benefit most from becoming more physically active.

At a practice level, the success of an PARS is dependent upon a strong interface between the exercise professional and the patient. A patient that has a dedicated exercise professional is more likely to adhere to the programme.  A pathway from the 12-week programme into a self-help group or similar is a major factor in sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

I have worked within Physical Activity Referral Schemes for over five years and have worked with some really inspirational people, some of whom are still active today since being referred all those years ago.

“If I can get fit – anyone can!”

Heart Felt Challenge by Samantha Lyth – Red Kite Services

Follow me on twitter @redkiteservices

It was 8:30am on a beautiful April morning on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Cars had been banned and foot power ruled as nearly 30,000 people waited to start the Paris Marathon.

Way behind the elite runners and club athletes were the “fun” runners. First –timers and charity runners like myself. We were all united by the global language of anxiety as we faced our own personal challenge. Each of us had a story to tell. This is mine.

It had been a long journey for me. One that started over 40 years earlier on the day England won the Football World Club. On that July day in 1966 my parents were otherwise occupied: mum was giving birth and my father playing cricket!

I was born with a hole-in-the-heart; a blue baby. Approximately 1 in 1000 live babies are born with a heart defect of some sort: many never require any treatment. Mine was more serious. I had Fallot’s Tetralogy a condition that affects about 1 in 3,500 live births.

The defect means that the blood is not circulated round the heart correctly, resulting in de-oxygenated (blue) blood going round the body. Typical symptoms are blueness, breathlessness and slow physical development. Without an operation few people with this defect would survive to 40. With the operation patients can usually lead a full active life.

Within the first days my blue colour indicated that all was not-right and I was soon referred to a specialist. My parents were heartbroken, as the outcome for people with the condition was not good at that time. As an infant my physical development was slow. Mum soon stopped taking me to mother and baby clinics because my lack of physical growth upset her. I didn’t walk until I was three. Apparently, however, I was always a good talker!

Since leaving hospital after numerous operations I have never looked back. When I remember my child hood I recall spending all the time playing horses in the garden, so I must have made a rapid recovery. In the final year at Primary School we did a sponsored 3-mile walk. I raised a huge amount for such an event, because Dad was so proud of me that he asked everyone he knew for sponsorship!  I had regular visits to the hospital until I was 18, but then I was given the final all-clear.

Like many women, however, I gave up sport through my twenties and into my thirties, although I have always looked after myself in that I eat healthily and have never smoked.

It wasn’t until I was 35 that I decided I wanted to do some running. My second child had started school, so I had a little bit of spare time. I was also inspired every year by all the fun runners at the London Marathon. It always brings tears to my eyes watching people overcome adversity and complete a marathon.

So I started training. I was so unfit that I could literally only manage to run for one minute and then walk for a minute and then repeat this. I listened to my body throughout training and have gone to the doctor on several occasions. The last time I went he said that I was probably the healthiest person he ever saw at the practice!

Gradually I could run further and I targeted the 2003 Great North Run. It was exhausting. It took me over three hours and really showed me just how much training is needed. The next time I ran the Great North Run I knocked about 30 minutes off that time and was still disappointed! But after that I lost some momentum and hardly ran at all that winter.

In the April of 2006 my BIG FOUR-O was looming and I wanted a challenge. Watching Paula Radcliffe in the London Marathon inspired me. Coincidentally that evening my Dad phoned to ask if I’d be a guest at a concert in aid of the British Heart Foundation. I made up my mind.

So that is why, a year on, I found myself at the start of the Paris Marathon wearing the red heart runners shirt and feeling exceptionally anxious. Despite all the training, family and friends had given me fantastic support in this, I wasn’t sure I could make it – especially as temperatures of 30ºC were forecast.

But I set out and almost 6 hours later I returned to the Arc de Triomphe having triumphed myself in overcoming my heart condition, 26 miles and soaring temperatures. It might have been slow, but I did it and raised £1500 for British Heart Foundation. My parents were relieved and very proud of my achievement.

I have never considered myself as special. I have just always got on with my life. Most people who know me now have no idea I was so ill. They don’t even notice my rather large scar, which I never try to hide.

Running the marathon was my thank you to everyone who gave me the opportunity to live a full and healthy life.