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Some 'must-haves' to help with sustainable weight loss

Here's a list of everyday equipment you can buy cheaply which can help you to build a sustainable health routine. I've provided links to Amazon in the UK (as that's the easiest way) but feel free to shop around, obviously.

TAPE MEASURE.

Because you will be putting on muscle and burning off fat, it's important to not only keep a track of your bodyweight, but also your body measurements. An inch of muscle is more dense hence weighs more than an inch of fat. So, when you don't seem to be losing weight on the scales, you can check your waistline, thighs, chest etc. and see where you are progressing.



WEIGHING SCALES

Sometimes known as 'bathroom' scales, these are a must if you wish to track your overall weight loss. Make sure to weigh yourself at the same time at least once a week:
  • In the morning
  • With as little clothing as possible
  • After a 'movement' is preferable
Record your weight each week or daily and log with a 'trending' app such as Libra or similar.



Food Scales

The best way to keep track of your 'calories in' is by weighing your food portions and measuring your fluid intake. If you use a fitness tracking app like MyFitnessPal, you will need to be able to accurately gauge your daily calorie intake and the only real way to do that is by weighing EVERYTHING until you reach a point where you can tell what 200g of Pasta looks like or just how many ounces that steak really is. Believe me, guesstimating just doesn't work and will leave you over eating and may lead to you losing patience. A measuring jug should be used until you know how much water/milk/beer your glasses and cups at home hold.


Once you've weighed yourself in pounds, stones or kilos then it's time to take your measurements. I measure the following areas once a week:


Waist
Belly
Chest
Thighs (largest diameter)
Calves
Arms (biceps/triceps)
Forearms


    I then update my 'Middle Aged Spreadsheet' with these measurements so I can see what has changed. Sometimes I've put on weight since the previous week but lost 1/2 an inch off my waistline. Then, when I get to my quads (thighs) I find I've put 1/4 of an inch of muscle on. Bearing in mind that the Quads make up the largest muscle group in the body, you can see where the weight has come from.

    *You can use a fitness app instead to track your measurements but please do weigh and measure yourself before you start any health/weight loss/muscle gain plan - it allows you to track where you are going right and what areas you need to improve upon. 

    Dumbbells

    Get a good set of dumbbells but don't be tempted to go too light. In order to break down muscle tissue, raise your testosterone levels AND burn some fat, you want to start working out with a set of weights you can do a 'curl' with between 8 and 10 times comfortably. However, as you progress, you need a way of increasing that weight/difficulty.


    Barbells

    Whilst not an absolute must when starting out, at some point you will feel you've gone as far as you can with the dumbbells and need to increase your workload. I've found somewhere like Argos in the UK is fine for picking up cheap weight sets. The best routines to do for fat burning are 'compound exercises' (i.e. using groups of muscles) which include Squats, Military Press and Bench Press. To do these properly, you'll need a bar!


    Resistance Bands

    Literally just giant rubber bands in various thickness to give more resistance when you try to stretch them. You can use them on their own or incorporate them into a dumbbell workout to make the weights feel 'heavier'.



    Pull up bar

    It can be quite difficult to build up your back muscles on home equipment - especially if you want that nice 'V' shaped torso, so it's an idea to invest in a doorway mounted pull-up bar. The benefits of these are that you can install them in almost any doorway (check dimensions before buying) and they're quick and easy to put up.


    I got mine from Amazon for about £15 >

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultrasport-2-Way-Door-Pull-up-Chin-up/dp/B008BQ6WQQ/







    Exercise as an aid to Weight Loss

    Let's face it, there's hundreds of exercises out there to choose from - routines, machines and magic-pill solutions but they basically boil down into 2 categories.

    1. RESISTANCE training. Moving something that resists our attempts to do so. Weight lifting is a great example of this be it using classic bar bells or our own body weight. Also, resistance 'bands' provide increased resistance the more we stretch them, thus putting our muscles under strain.

    2. CARDIO workouts. Anything that increases our heart rate can be deemed as 'cardio'. Jogging, football, checking our credit card statement all cause our engine to burn more fuel. What is interesting to us older gents is - what is the right kind of cardio activity we should be doing to get fit and reduce our waistline?

    Lifting weights. 

    Breaking down and repairing muscle has multiple benefits:

    It uses fat as fuel, even hours after finishing your session.

    More lean muscle increases your daily calorie burn.

    It helps raise testosterone levels.

    You feel better because you look better!


      POINTS TO REMEMBER:
      • Compound exercises target multiple muscle groups which burn fat long after you have finished your workout routine.
      • Muscles are put under increasing stress when you workout, but they can only grow with the right amount of food and, most importantly, rest. If you want to increase size/definition, don't train the same muscle groups too many times a week, they'll never have a chance to rebuild properly.
      • Feed your muscles. High protein is good, no carb is not. You'll need to draw upon your energy reserves to get the best out of the workout and the body needs carbs for that. Just balance them out. Ideally, if you're looking to shift some fat and put on some muscle, you probably want: 

      40% Protein 30% Carbs and 30% Healthy Fats.
      (more info on Healthy Eating for Fat loss here)

      Cardio Vs HIIT

      A lot has been written about the difference between 'steady state cardio' (running machines, jogging, aerobics etc.) and HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training.

      Traditional Cardio sessions can easily last 45 minutes to an hour - or more - and burn hundreds of calories. However, in today's busy society, we don't all have time to spend 4 or 5 hours a week on the elliptical or the treadmill. With HIIT you can burn the same amount of calories doing much shorter routines but at a higher work rate. Also, as we age, our joints become less able to take the repeated shocks that long sessions of steady cardio can put them through. Working faster for a shorter period of time could also help us preserve our knees a while longer!

      You can find more information on HIIT and links to some routines below:

      HIIT - What is it? Wikipedia  American College of Sports Medicine
      HIIT workout routines - Darebee Workout - 30 Days of HIIT  HIIT Workout for People Who Get Bored Easily
      Cardio Workout DVD - an old favourite of mine as you can make it as easy or brutal as you like.
      Fighting Fit, Fighting Fat.





      There's no secret to healthy eating, no magic pill or 'superfood' that will stop you having to do a little work. All you need is BALANCE

      So, if you want to lose a bit of fat...


      Eat Less - Move More

      Easy right?

      However, after the age of about 30 we start to lose our muscle mass and this in turn can lead to weight gain (we continue to eat the same as we always did only now our bodies don't need as many calories - due to muscle loss).

      To add insult to injury, we also stop producing as much testosterone and this again can lead to less energy, less muscle production and thus, weight gain. We also tend to come into contact with the female hormone, eostrogen*, a lot more these days due to its inclusion in:
      • Some meats (Beef in particular can be injected with human growth hormone)
      • Sun tan lotion
      • Hairspray, shampoos etc.
      In simple terms, Eostrogen tells the male body - more or less - to store fat.

      Men store fat primarily:
      • Around the midriff (belly fat)
      • Under the pectoral muscles on the chest (man boobs)
      • Around the neck (double chins) 
      So, to combat the effect of the female growth hormone, we need to ensure that we produce more male growth hormone - testosterone

      There are 2 ways to do this:

      1DIET. Eat meals that are high in vitamins, especially Vitamin D.

      Don't cut out carbs because then you won't have the energy to perform your workouts. Don't cut out fats altogether because you'll need them as fuel and to help your system stay 'regular'. Just balance them. 

      Remember:

      There's 4 calories in a gram of Carbohydrate (bread, rice, pasta), there's 4 calories in a gram of Protein (meat, beans, nuts) BUT there's 9 calories per gram of Fat! 




      If you keep track of your calorie intake using an app/website like MyFitnessPal then you will soon see where your weight gain comes from. We all know that a big pile of junk food is high in calories but, how many of us know how much (or how little) pasta to put on our plates? It will be less than you imagine, no doubt.

      REMEMBER:
      • PROTEIN keeps you feeling full for longer.
      • CARBS are not your enemy - you need them to fuel your workouts
      • FAT should be eaten in moderation and should be unsaturated whenever possible.

      Your diet should be healthy, enriching but overall SUSTAINABLE. It's no good eating perfect portion sizes of balanced food groups if you are so miserable you give up. BALANCE everything out. Eat within your calorie range and don't constantly deny yourself every single thing. Just be sensible. 

      To lose a pound (1LB) a week you need an overall deficit of 3500 calories a week. So work out how much you should be eating a day, what your current level of activity is, and deduct 500 calories a day from that. If you stick to that plan, weigh your food and log it, you WILL see weight loss on a consistent basis. If you do NOT, then you need to check your logging. 

      List of 10 of the best Testosterone Boosting foods to add to your diet. > http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/eat-up-to-man-up

      2. EXERCISE. Perform regular strength/resistance training and break down some of those muscle fibres. The resulting release in chemicals to repair the damage tops up your Testosterone Levels. 

      Balance the 2 out

      For anyone wanting to put on a bit of muscle but avoid the risk of over eating and adding to your fat stores, check out this Diet example


      *Eostrogen in Cosmetics > http://www.news-medical.net/health/Estrogen-in-Cosmetics.aspx

      New client - Competition winner!

      I ran a competition last year and chose a winner but, due to schedules not matching up and life getting in everybody's way, I've only just started working with them. So a warm welcome to 'T', a lady in her 40s from Selby.

      We had our second session last weekend and ran through a host of exercise options as well as discussing nutrition and calorie goals.

      The plan is to run a hour+ session each Sunday for a month and then decide from there how we proceed.

      I'm very impressed so far on level of knowledge and amount of dedication put in already.


      New Mum as a new client

      Am glad to be working with 'S' in York who had a baby just 6 weeks ago!

      Key point to remember with postpartum ladies is to take everything slowly so, after assessing her carefully, we started on Stronglifts 5x5 with a 'broom handle' to learn proper form. We'll progress slowly but surely with tiny weight increases until we're both confident that she is well and truly healed, and can perform the moves safely with more weight. We're supplementing with regular walks with baby and some gentle cardio. Once S' level of fitness has built up, we'll incorporate more intense cardio once or twice a week.

      *As 'S' is feeding baby herself, her calorie intake must be monitored carefully to ensure she is taking in enough to produce the best quality milk so we're using MFP to track calorie intake [CICO]

      We're also logging her weight and body measurements and recording them on the weight-loss spreadsheet so we have a record of her 'gains and losses' as well as some targets to aim for over the next 12 months.

      Protein shakes - what you need to know

      Whey protein shakes
      Protein shake
      If you're looking to increase your protein intake but don't want guzzle down storage containers full of Wildebeest then protein shakes could be your answer.

      However, go online and you're met with a bewildering amount of different products, some with added amino acids, some with creatine, BCAAs etc. -  and then there's a myriad flavours to choose from...

      Fear not, I've done some testing over the years and found what I feel  the best protein shake on the market.


      1. Start with Vanilla. Unless you absolutely hate it, this is the flavour least likely to put you off. You can then experiment with 'Raspberry Ice Cream and dark chocolate' or 'Lemon Cupcakes and Bananas' or whatever flavour they come up with next.
      2. Buy the smallest tub/pack available. Some people have an intolerance to whey that they just don't discover until they try it. Don't spend money on a 5KG sack only to discover that it melts your dentures or similar. 
      3. Look at the ingredients. If the list resembles Hollywood film credits then stay away. You want your Whey to be as simple as possible. 

      Whey protein powder
      MyProtein
      My recommendation is My Protein's Impact Whey Isolate. It's affordable, it works and it's not packed full of chemicals and fillers like some other brands. It also mixes really well (with very few lumps providing you use a shake 'cup').  

      Start with 1 scoop blended with some skimmed milk (if you partake of dairy) and go from there. If you're trying to reduce calorie intake, you can mix it with water instead. 



      Check out labdoor > https://labdoor.com/rankings/protein for their 'top 10' type list of whey protein powders.

      That's it really. Give it a try. If you're over 40 then you should be looking at incorporating more protein into your diet and this is an ideal 'whey' to do it. :-)






      How to lose weight simply, with no fads.

      You don't need to buy the latest 'superfood' or down whole bottles of those new 'fat burning'' pills. Weight loss is simple. You ate too much consistently and put that weight on, so you just need to reverse that process consistently to take it back down again.


      To lose a pound (1LB) a week you need an overall deficit of 3500 calories a week. So work out how much you should be eating a day, what your current level of activity is, and deduct 500 calories a day from that. If you stick to that plan, weigh your food and log it, you WILL see weight loss on a consistent basis. If you do NOT, then you need to check your logging.

      But how can I work out how much or how little to eat?

      You can keep track of your calorie intake using an app/website like MyFitnessPal. Using this you will soon see where the majority of your daily calories come from and probably be surprised! (We all know that a big pile of junk food is high in calories but, how many of us know how much - or how little - pasta to put on our plates? It will be less than you imagine, no doubt)

      Your diet should be healthy, enriching but overall SUSTAINABLE. It's no good eating perfect portion sizes of balanced food groups if you are so miserable you give up. BALANCE everything out. Eat within your calorie range and don't constantly deny yourself every single thing. Just be sensible. 

      REMEMBER:
      • PROTEIN keeps you feeling full for longer.
      • CARBS are not your enemy - you need them to fuel your workouts
      • FAT should be eaten in moderation and should be unsaturated whenever possible.
      Stay strong and you'll see results.