New year, new you discounts

Want to loose a few pounds of the Christmas paunch? I’m offering discounted personal training sessions in Pool, Harrogate, Otley and North Leeds in the month of January.

Until January 31, 2015 block booking costs are:

5 sessions for £150 (save £50)

10 sessions for £290 (save £110)

In both cases, your health check and mini session (1 hour in total) are free.

Unfortunately, block booking discounts can only be redeemed for one-on-one sessions. For groups prices, please see here 

Looking for a nutritionist?

If you’re looking for a nutritionist in Pool in Wharfedale, Otley, Harrogate or North Leeds, read on…

We’ve reached a stage in history where people who are obese vastly outnumber those with malnutrition in the world – yet despite a barrage of information, so many of us know so little about what we put in our bodies.

I’ve recently been taking a greater interest in nutrition. When I was growing up, I was always a bit of Porsche engine fuelled by Coca Cola kind of guy. I had a physique that should have made me a semi-decent sportsperson but by fuelling and re-fuelling habits were terrible.

Thankfully, I’ve put all that behind me and now eat a mostly balanced diet, cutting out the CRAP (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol and processed) food as much as possible.

But the thing that astounds me is it’s almost impossible to know where to look next when it comes to advice. Only in the world of nutrition can both a high protein and a high carb diet both be scientifically proven to be good for you! So who do you believe?

Many of us simply take in some of the cod science when it comes to newspaper or magazine columns and while that will have some health benefits over simply not caring what you eat, a health professional is the kind of person who can really help you.

As a disclaimer right now, I’ll say that until I do more studies, I am NOT that person. I did a personal training course that had two nutrition modules and have a basic understanding of how things work. I offer my clients a dietary analysis where I look at what they eat over a week and try and make some recommendations as to what they could do better to further their aims, but I am as far from a nutritionist as the next person – I simply have a very good understanding of how it all works.

If you are looking for someone who is (or should that be claims to be) a nutritionist, things start to get really murky – simply because in the UK it is not a protected name and anyone can claim to be one! The rest of this article will try and clear up who’s who and what’s what in the world of nutrition, so when you come to make a choice, you will be better informed.


According to the NHS, a dietitian is someone who translates the science of nutrition into everyday information about food. They are involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of disease and you will normally find them in a clinical setting such as a hospital or a GP surgery.

To qualify as a dietician, you need to have a four-year degree in dietetics and be registered with the  Health and Care Professions Council, meaning that dietitians are the only nutrition professionals that are regulated by government law.


Nutritionists tend not to see people on a one-to-one basis, rather they work with bodies such as the NHS and local authorities to give advice on nutrition.

To qualify, one needs a BSc (Hons) in nutritional science and should be registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN)  which is regulated by the Association for Nutrition. Only nutritionists with the required learning can register and call themselves a Registered Nutritionist or a Registered Public Health Nutritionist.

Why is this important? Because unlike the term dietician, the term nutritionist is not protected, so anyone can claim the title!

Nutritional therapists

These are the kind of people we are more familiar with thanks to their semi-celebrity status, the like of TV’s Gillian McKeith and ‘Food Doctor’ Ian Marber.

Similar to a nutritionist, but nutritional therapists more often than not work directly with clients. Some work in private practice and people, sometimes even from NHS referrals.

They are usually registered with the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and have studied on a course approved by the Nutritional Educational Commission (NTEC). While these courses are often not degrees, they do tend to last for two or three years and have an element of biomedicine in the curriculum.

Many nutritional therapists believe that good nutrition is the key to a healthy and productive lifestyle – and that in cases, good nutrition can replace medicine. It should be noted however that they are not a replacement for a visit to your GP.

The rest

Under these qualifications are a number of people who have studied short courses (I am one of them) who may be able to offer some general advice. The length and quality of courses can vary – I have seen some that last no more than a month and are studied totally online with no clinical practice at all. While that might give some understanding of nutrition, it is certainly not a replacement for a therapist who has completed a course over several years, has an understanding of science and who has undergone regulated clinical practice.

Before booking a session with any nutrition professional, I’d advise asking for their qualifications and checking them against the above bodies to see who they are registered with.

Dead within two years? No thanks…

There was a great story in the Daily Mail a couple of years ago about Carole Wright, a mum who has lost 20stones – or 12 dress sizes – and was voted Slimming World’s Woman of the Year. She did this after being told by her GP that she would die within two years if she stayed the same weight.

You can read the full story here.

While I’m not entirely familiar with Slimming World’s dietary program, I do know that it’s not just about food and eating but that they advise people to take part in activity as well.

Losing weight is, at its basest level (i.e. for most of us) a simple equation – you need to burn more fuel than you put in.

A pound (or 500g) of fat equals 3,500 calories – which means that by eating just 500 calories a day more than what you should would add on a pound a week. That’s less than a McDonald’s burger, a couple of packets of crisps or a couple of pints of beer.

Extrapolate that over a year and you’d gain 52 pounds in a year – almost four stones or 27kg in new money.

Conversely, burn more than 500 extra calories a day and you should lose the same amount.

Play the numbers game when it comes to food and exercise and you can’t fail to lose weight.

Staying hydrated

Staying hydrated: How much water should I drink a day? 

Believe it or not, it’s one of the questions I’m asked most often and the truth is, there is no set answer – but one thing is for certain: staying hydrated is essential for the body’s homeostasis (the body’s need for stability).

Usual health advice claims that eight glasses a day should be the norm – but that’s hard to back up, not least because who knows how big a glass they mean? Eight pint glasses would obviously be twice as much water as eight half-pints!

Then you have to take into account things like body weight, whether male or female and how much you exercise.

The best calculation I have come across is 0.03 litres for every kilogram of weight. So if you weigh 60kg, the amount you should drink would be: 60×0.03 = 1.8 litres

That’s actually about eight half-pint glasses, so the old adage has some truth in it – as long as you weigh 60kg.

If you want an old money calculation, it is 0.5 fluid ounces per pound – and there are 20 fluid ounces in a pint.

And if you exercise, you probably want to take on another half litre per half hour of exercise – although this should preferably be in the form of  a sports drink.

That’s a lot. How do I, er, stop peeing?

Well that’s a good question – but going to the loo is one clear sign that you are drinking enough water. Your wee should be the colour of light straw to ensure it is flushing out the toxins it should be, darker and you need more water, lighter and you need a bit less.

The best way to avoid constantly going to the loo though is to just pop a dash of sea salt into one of the glasses – and make sure you drink the lion’s share of your water (around 60-70 per cent) before noon.

Does it HAVE to be water?

The good news is to stay hydrated, it doesn’t have to be all water – other fluids: tea, coffee, milk and soft drinks do count. But do not use these as a total replacement for water… There is an excellent list of the pros and cons of all drinks on this NHS web page.


Free total body monitoring

I now offer free total body monitoring for my personal training clients in Pool in Wharfedale, North Leeds, Harrogate and surrounding areas.

A couple of years ago, I was given the chance to tour the Football Association’s new coaching centre at Burton on Trent. It’s a magnificent complex with 13 pitches, one of them that is indoors.

There’s also a great medical centre there two and the public can go to St George’s, stay in one of the two Hilton hotels on the site and get themselves checked out by the same people who do the England team.

While touring the centre, we came across a Tanita Body Composition Monitor and all of us on the tour were allowed to have a go. The monitor sends impulses through your body and works out your weight, bone mass, lean mass (how much muscle you have) and your body fat percentage. It also calculates, based on all those figures, just how old your body is on a metabolic level – I’m glad to say I came up as 31, not bad for a 46-year-old man a few months short of moving up the categories list when I fill in age-related forms.

The fact I come up 15 years younger comes from my regime: I train hard, eat well most of the time and enjoy the odd blowout and occasional drink. It’s not rocket science but there are so many barriers to getting started on an exercise programme that many people never get round to it.

They’re too busy, too stressed, can’t afford it… I’ve been there. In fact I spent most of my late 20s and all of my 30s there, so I know just how hard it can be. Sometimes though, all you need is the push and the support that can be offered by someone who has been in your position to help you along and away you go. I know that when I made the decision to get fit, it was the best decision I made in my life. Not because other things are less important, but because I now know that I can enjoy those other things, like family moments enjoying my daughter’s grow up, for longer.

The Body Composition Monitor at the FA Centre can be booked by people as part of a larger programme that can cost 100s of pounds – this is private healthcare after all.

But I’ve purchased a portable version of my own and am now offering total body monitoring as a free add-on to consultations for clients wishing to embark on a block of personal training sessions.

If you want to find out how old your body is, come and see me for a consultation. The good news is, whatever the result, we can start immediately on making the number much, much smaller…

How to lose an inch from your belly

I suppose instead of How to lose an inch from your belly, this article could be called How to put on an inch on your belly!

We’ve just returned from a family holiday in Tenerife. The weather was gorgeous and the hotel was great, it was the perfect solution to a busy December and a great way to let our batteries recharge in the sun.

The problem with our break was we were staying at an all-inclusive resort – a great way to budget but not great on your waistline when you can go to the restaurant or bar and eat and drink what you want, when you want.

In less than a week, I managed to put on almost 1.5kg in weight – that’s almost four pounds in old money. Imagine if I’d not been going for a daily run!

So how does it work?

Well, in its simplest terms, weight gain is a purely mathematical concept.

Of course, some people have faster metabolisms or different body shapes than others and this can affect the maths, but as a general rule:

  • take on more fuel more than the energy you expend and you will put on weight,
  • take on less fuel than the energy you expend and you will lose weight.

According to Runner’s World, researchers have found that an inch of belly fat equates to around 14,000 calories – and believe me, it’s not hard to put that on in a month.

We need a basic calorific intake to maintain our bodily functions if we remain sedentary or largely inactive – that figure is around 2,000 calories for a woman and 2,500 for a man. Anything over this is excess and will make us add weight, anything less will make us lose weight.
In weight terms, 3,500 calories is roughly equivalent to a pound of fat – if you take on just an extra 500 calories a day more than you expend, it would take just a week to put on a pound, and just a month to put on four pounds (2kg) and an extra inch of belly fat (four weeks at 3,500 calories is 14,000 calories).

So what constitutes an extra 500 calories a day?

Well, take your pick: two cans of Stella, a glass and a half of Bailey’s, three glasses of champagne, two small Danish pastries, 100g of chocolate, a Big Mac… any number of things that can easily slip into your diet and soon add up.

Equally, of course, you can expend an extra 500 calories a day, eat your regulation daily amount and you should lose an inch around your belly (providing you are not cheating!)

What can you do to burn an extra 500 calories?

For a 180lb man, an hour of shadow boxing, walking with a rucksack, light cycling or football training will all burn more than 500 calories.

Plus there’s an added benefit to exercise – the fitter you are, the more calories you burn when resting (muscle needs more fuel than fat), so the benefits last much longer than just the hour in which you will have exercised.

If you’re finding it hard to banish the new year blues, stick to your fitness resolution or need some tips on nutrition, drop me a line via the contact form and I’ll give you the push you need.