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Cravings

Sports Blog

by Lesley Handley

I don’t believe in cutting something out of your diet completely. If you have regularly eaten crisps, sweets and chocolate, to go cold turkey and never eat them again is realistically never going to happen. You start to resent not having them, and with each day that passes you crave them even more – you see them everywhere, smell them, taste them and stare at other people that are eating them! This continues till you cave in… but by this point you crave them so much that its’ not just 1 small bar of chocolate or 1 bag of crisps… it’s a 500g bag of Kettlechips, a 250g bar of Galaxy, and because you have eaten all that, you think ‘ah well’, I will just eat the giant bag of Haribo that’s in the cupboard too! Result – Sugar and calorie overload! Can you recover back to the healthy eating (until the next time you cave in)? Or do you now think it was all a waste of time and you go back to your old diet?

Here is the alternative…

Step 1 – when you crave something, have a glass of water and see if that curbs the craving…

Step 2 – Try an alternative that’s a healthier option – what about Greek yogurt with fruit, it might be sweet enough to take away the craving…

Step 3 – Eat it in moderation! If you have eaten 2 bags of crisps every day for the last 3 months, cut it down to 1 bag a day – that’s a big improvement! Then cut it down to a bag every second day… that’s even better!

It is all about making small progressive steps to a healthier and better diet that will improve your health and wellbeing. To go from one extreme to another requires a massive amount of willpower that a vast number of people don’t have.

Lesley

For information or advice on Personal Training or nutrition contact me on 07512 355 877, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

We are heading into 2015 and no doubt every paper/magazine/TV advert you will see is all about promoting New Year Resolutions, fitness and health… It always happens… The start of a New Year prompts a surge of health kicks, diets, less alcohol, joining a gym, etc. I even done it; this time last year I wrote about SMART goals, saying ‘I will’ instead of ‘I’ll try’ and promoting the New Year. Did it help you? Maybe it did, but, I would hazard a guess that 80% of you that set a goal didn’t achieve it.

Ask yourself what you wanted to achieve in 2014, and then ask yourself how close you were to achieving it? Now make a list of why it didn’t happen. Was it lack of time? Lack of commitment? Lack of money? Change of circumstances?

Truth be told, I failed to achieve what I wanted in 2014. I wanted to regain the level of fitness I used to have 2 years ago before my son was born. Like a lot of people I had let my fitness slip, I had other things that needed to be done that got prioritised over exercise, I also found excuses for not going out for that run! (Maybe as a Personal Trainer this isn’t something I should be admitting to… but it’s the truth! It happens to us all!)

So, I am giving myself 3 months to kick myself into gear and achieve what I wanted in 2014. I’m going to start training again, start eating good ‘real’ food at least 80% of the time, and achieve the body/shape/fitness I want. Not because it is a New Year, but because that’s what I want to do! And I’m going to make sure I have the time, commitment and focus to do it.

And I want you to do it with me!

Give me 2 hours of your time for 12 weeks, as much commitment and passion for your goal that you can, and I assure you that you will be well on your way to your health/fitness goal!

It is said that you have to do something 21 times for it to become a habit… lets’ see if that’s true…

2 hours… 12 weeks… are you up for the challenge? It could change your life…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Lesley

For more information contact me on 07512 355 877 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Already we are heading into February, and maybe, like me, you have made the decision to stop staring at a reflection in the mirror of someone you may not be 100% happy with (maybe you are happy and that’s great!).

So what have you done?

For me, I’m training 3 times a week, cut the rubbish out of my diet, invested in a ‘Nutribullet’ and entered the Kiltwalk (Sunday 12th April - www.thekiltwalk.co.uk).

For others, finding your feet in the health/fitness world is not always easy; it can be intimidating with a vast amount of information that can often be contradictory. I’m going to give some advice that might make you more successful with your venture.

Nothing Really Worth Having Comes Quickly & Easily

It is maybe a bit extreme, but true. Think about it… good career, children, money, dream house, expensive car! Everything often takes a lot of effort, commitment and most importantly TIME.

It’s Not Going To Be A Quick Fix

Quick fix diets and exercise programmes do not work!! A quick fix diet that offers you great weight loss will only help you lose water content and muscle mass… not fat mass that everyone wants to lose; even if you are skinny and want to get toned. You have to reduce the fat tissue to show the muscles. Don’t think of any change being a 2/4/6 week plan… you should be thinking months! Small changes and progression!

Keep A Record

Recently a client of mine was very surprised to hear I keep a record of their sessions, achievements, weights they have lifted, best times etc. I have notepads filled with notes that probably only I can understand; but how else can you track progression (unless you have an amazing memory)? Can you really remember what weight you lifted 5 months ago?

Don’t Be Intimidated

Gyms can be an intimidating place. Personal Trainers can seem intimidating. What you have to remember is that everyone in the gym was a ‘gym newbie’ at some point. Nobody is going to stare at you as nobody expects anything of you. Everyone else in there was ‘new’ at some point and just normal people that might have a few weeks/months/years ahead of you.

Let me know what you have done so far in 2015, regardless of how big or small it is… email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lesley

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Plan to Break The Rules…

Nobody can be perfect with their diet 100% of the time, so you shouldn’t pressure yourself into being perfect.

Fact one. The best diet is the one you can stick too. Consistently. A way of eating that gives you the results you want but also makes you feel good and lets you live your life.

Fact two. It is all very well to go to a trainer and they give you a plan to follow that tells you to ‘eat this and this’ but not ‘this and this’ because it works for them. But if it is too complicated and you don’t like the food, you won’t stick to it and you won’t enjoy it. Also everyone is different and they get results from eating different things!

If you want consistency and results; its best to stick to something simple that can become an achievable and long term routine

Here is one way to do it:

80% of your food should be whole foods – natural, unprocessed, single ingredient foods.

10% is food that depends on your goals or requirements – you possibly need to eat more omega 3 or iron and therefore include foods that contain them, or extra carbohydrates if you are training hard for a race or event, or more protein if you are trying to lose weight.

10% is whatever you want. If you love to drink coffee or eat pizza – no issue! It’s all down to moderation. If you cut it from your diet completely you will crave it more, resent the diet and more often than not end up binging on it.

Using this method you will still see results but not end up hating the diet plan you are following.

Lesley

For more information on Personal Training or anything related to nutrition contact me on 0773 627 4925, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sporting Blog

The Dark Side of Stress

by Lesley Handley

When it comes to changes in body composition, stress can be one of the most important, yet neglected, contributing factors. Stress is a very common issue these days and it can have a negative impact on the body in many ways, including being one of the factors that can hinder fat loss in many people.

When you get stressed your body’s mechanisms and functions essentially start to slow down and stop functioning correctly. Your digestive system gets affected preventing nutrients from getting to cells, the nervous system slows leaving you more susceptible to illness with fat refusing to shift whilst muscle refuses to grow.

The simple fact is that the human body was not designed to deal with massive amounts of stress, which is becoming more and more common in everyday life. In today’s fast paced world, a situation has been created that sees people being faced with constant ‘stressors’ that put you in to a continual “fight or flight” mode. This causes numerous hormone imbalances that alter your metabolism and lead to detrimental changes in health over time. It can lead to blood pressure remaining elevated, continued elevations of cortisol that increases inflammation, imbalances in immune function, disrupted metabolism, elevated blood sugar and cardiovascular stress.

In order to avoid the above issues and allow the body to function optimally it is important to try and keep stress levels low. Everyone will have their own way of relieving stress and certain things that will relax them. I am finding more and more people come to the gym to help relieve stress and get a break and time for themselves. Some love to lift weights, others run on a treadmill. A few of my clients love when they have a few rounds of boxing with gloves and pads. Whatever way it is that you want to relive stress, you will find it helps in more ways than you think in benefiting your health and sometimes essentially your waistline.

Lesley

For more information on Personal Training, exercise or nutrition contact me on 0773 627 4925 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit my new website at www.fitsmartfitness.co.uk for more personal training options.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Step Back and Think

I was sitting at traffic lights driving to work the other day and a boy walked past me on his way to school; he looked 10/11, and was eating crisps and drinking a can of coke. It was 8am. Without being judgemental or wishing to offend, the boy was also overweight. Automatically we make assumptions about the rest of this child’s diet. Did the parent give the boy the crisps and coke? I don’t know, maybe they didn’t even know!

As a parent, it is our job to educate our children to make the right choices in life. My son is 2, and at the moment he can’t make his own choices about what he eats. There is a lot he doesn’t know about; he doesn’t know about any other drink other than milk and water, nor about high fat/sugary cereal bars or even McDonalds. This is the choices I have made for him, for me it is all about educating him and driving him towards a healthy lifestyle.

One fast food meal isn’t going to cause any lasting damage, but in today’s modern society of excess, where do we draw the line? Is junk food twice a week ok? Once a week? Once a month? As adults we influence our children’s lives and diet every day. It is estimated today that 1 in 5 children are overweight, where does this end? I look about today and it is becoming normality that as a nation we are eating worse and gaining weight. The impact on health is massive.

I’m not going to dictate what is right or wrong, everyone has the freedom and choice to make their own decisions. However a child’s interpretation of the world is very different to adults. They are learning the foundations to absolutely everything, which will have a result on who they become as adults, physically and psychologically. Whilst a child may appear to be active and healthy, if they are not consuming sufficient nutrients to meet their growing needs, it will affect them. Childhood is the time when eating the right foods nutritionally couldn’t be more important. 

Lesley

For more information on Personal Training or nutrition contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit my website www.fitsmartfitness.co.uk for more Personal Training options.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Winter Is Here!

Unfortunately winter is here and it’s more important than ever to stay focused on your fitness goals and to keep fit and healthy. Often motivation drops off at this time of year; the cold, dark and usually wet mornings and nights put people off leaving their house or getting up early to head to the gym or train outdoors. So, I thought I would give a few tips to try and help you keep your routines going over the winter.

Sporting Blog

Fight Muscle Loss: Lift Weights

When you think of a typical older person, there is something that communicates frailty and weakness. They probably walk slowly, move carefully and let others do things for them.

Often the cause is muscle loss, otherwise known as sarcopenia. And if you are 25 or older, it is happening already.

Sarcopenia refers to the process of losing skeletal muscle mass and strength; it describes a progressive weakening caused by a “change in body compensation in favor of fat and at the expense of muscle.”

Sporting Blog

Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat

  1. You lack consistency with caloric intake and training. When both of these become huge variables you will not linearly progress with fat loss. Consistency is key to progress steadily.
  2. You are impatient! Rapid fat loss is not sustainable and will inevitably fail at some point, whether it is a week down the line, a month or 6 months. You need to create a lifestyle and dietary plan that you can foresee yourself doing in 5 years’ time. Fat loss is not a quick thing; patience is key to its success.
  3. You consume too many calories respective to those you burn. You need to have a caloric deficit to lose fat and you have to burn enough calories respective to those you consume.
  4. You use all the tools and information too quickly and too soon. You train everyday, you use high intensity interval training, you use low intensity training, you drop your calorie intake, you increase protein intake, you stop eating carbohydrates etc. The first few weeks you simply have to regulate your diet and move/exercise more and gradually alter things bit by bit.
  5. You’ve managed to convince yourself that carbohydrates make you fat. Carbohydrates help you fuel workouts and allow them to gain momentum; cutting them out of your diet completely is a big mistake. Learning when to consume them to assist with weight loss relative to your training could be key to helping the weight come off.

Losing body fat is like running a marathon… start off too fast and even with all good intentions you will burn out and never reach the end; it requires a consistency and a steady pace along with patience and time to get to that finish line.

 

Lesley

For more information on nutrition or Personal Training contact me on 0773 627 4925 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Do you have to count calories??

It’s common knowledge that if you eat more calories than your body needs you will generally gain weight. However counting calories is actually quite difficult and time consuming if doing it accurately. Making yourself ‘calorie aware’ and understanding roughly how many calories you need to consume on a daily basis as well as what foods are surprisingly high in calories can help to make it all a bit easier.

It’s important that you have an idea of how many calories your body needs based on your age, body size, sex and levels of physical activity. The NHS advises that trying to lose approx 1 - 2lb a week is a safe target for most people, and to do this you need to take in about 500 - 600kcal less than you require each day. On the flip side of this, eating 500 - 600kcal more than you need each day will make you gain weight at approximately the same rate. And believe it or not overeating by 500 - 600kcal is easier than you think. A big breakfast contains approximately 600kcal, a bar of chocolate can have as much as 600kcal, 100g of cheese can have nearly 400kcal or half a bag of gummy sweets can be nearly 400kcal.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Warming-up

A proper warm-up will prepare the body for activity by hitting all the muscles in a systemized way. This ensures that all the muscles are switched on and working together before you start.

The problem is that not everyone warms up in the right way which causes more harm than good. Also, not everyone has to warm up in the same way – it can be individualised so that certain problem areas are targeted first or more than others. There are two common mistakes often made when warming up.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Before much evidence and research happened, runners just ran... There was no real thought put into it and it was just a natural thing to do. Now, as time has moved on and a lot of research has taken place, runners need to do more than just run; they need to be strong and athletic. If not, even with good running technique injuries and poor performance are common. Some statistics put an injury rate greater than 60% for runners! Many runners now accept that they will perform and feel better if they do more than just run. Reducing the chance of injury and improving performance isn’t too hard to do – by adding some strength training to a regular routine makes all the difference. Whether the goal is to run faster, further or simply to run more efficiently with less aches and pains, strength sessions and exercises can help to correct muscle imbalances and weaknesses, improving performance.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Fitness is not a ‘one-size fits all’. Just like we all have different tastes in food, fashion, movies and a host of other things, fitness too is an individualised thing. We all want different things and different outcomes and it is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s social media fuelled industry to be happy and content with ourselves and our own progress. We see endless images of perfect abs, toned arms and strong bodies - but is this really the true meaning of fitness? Should we all be striving for the “social-media look”?

No!

And here is why... It’s not sustainable for 90% of you. The majority of these social-media stars get paid and sponsored to look the way they look; in most cases to try to sell you a product and I can almost guarantee that they do not look like that for the majority of the year. Most of the images in papers, adverts and promotional material have been taken at precisely the right time to capture the best image in the right environment with the best lighting. So now that the New Year is here there will be images and headlines everywhere you look, with toned/fit men and women promoting things within the industry.

Sporting Blog

"Quitting when progress stalls is like slashing the other 3 tyres when 1 tyre gets a puncture"

New Year’s Resolutions were set; a lot of you (including me!!) probably woke up on the 1st January with new goals in mind and focused on a new mindset for 2017... you might have got up and made a healthier breakfast, you may have went out for a walk that you don’t normally do and you may have had extra vegetables on your plate at dinner time... are you still waking up with those goals in mind?

Everything generally goes great for the first few weeks and then towards the end of the month things start to slow down or even come to a halt. Hectic life may have resumed with work or kids and time restraints start affecting the earlier choices you were making, or you haven’t seen any results and get dis-heartened, or, as a lot of people do, the goals you set weren’t sustainable and you just couldn’t keep up with it.

So what do you do?

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

6 benefits of Weight Training for Women [sorry guys!] 

There are so many benefits of weight training for women (and men of course!), most of the recent training recommendations in the industry are for resistance training as opposed to endless cardio. So what are the benefits?

  • 1. It Burns More Fat!
    • Overall weight training burns more calories than steady state cardio. You will burn fewer calories whilst actually weight training than you would doing two hours continuous treadmill activity, however, after a weight session your metabolic rate is increased meaning you will burn more calories for longer.
  • 2. You can eat more!
    • Training with weights makes your muscles denser and bigger [toned]. To develop and maintain muscle you need to eat sufficiently to maintain them. Muscle burns calories by their very existence, so by having a little more muscle it allows your body to handle more calories without the weight gain that they would normally bring.
  • 3. Stronger bones!
    • The pressure weight training puts on your bones encourages your body to invest in making your bones stronger. This counteracts the propensity for women to lose bone density from their thirties onwards; a process which speeds up after the menopause. Encouraging bone density helps to protect from bone fractures.
  • 4. Stronger immune system
    • Literature today shows a link between healthy habits associated with people who tend to undertake weight training and stronger immune systems. It is considered better eating habits, higher quality sleep, improved circulation and lower stress levels all assist the body to protect itself more efficiently.
  • 5. You’ll age better!
    • The points above all add up to you remaining stronger and healthier for longer. Your improved circulation helps to keep skin, nails and hair in good condition. Being in good sharp enables you to wear the clothes you want and generally feel better plus……
  • 6. More confidence!
    • You will be physically stronger, have more energy and get less breathless when exercising [even when just walking]. You will also be less stressed and more likely to maintain a positive “can do” attitude towards tasks. When combined, this will make you feel and be perceived as being more confident within yourself.

Lesley

For more information on nutrition or Personal Training contact me on 0773 627 4925 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Rest Days – We All Need to Take Them!

When people embark on new fitness program’s they often train as much as they can and don’t give their body time to recover. Rest days are just as important as training days, and everyone needs to take them.

1. Muscles need rest…

It’s not about the saying of ‘no pain no gain’, if your muscles are becoming permanently achy then it’s time to take a day or two rest. Sore muscles after a training session is actually the pain of muscle damage – muscle fibers tend to stretch and break during exercise and these fibers then need time to repair and grow allowing them to develop/strengthen and reduce further breakage over time.

2. Prevent injuries…

There is only so much that the body can take within training and often injuries can come about simply by over use of certain muscles or muscle groups. A great example of this is shin splints; this injury is common in new runners who go from doing very little to trying to run every day and shin splints are often the result – the cure for them… REST!

3. Stronger immune system…

Exercise is a great way to improve the immune system, which also plays a big role in recovery. However too much exercise and no time for the body to recover has the opposite effect on the immune system. Feeling run-down, or colds hanging around longer than usual often indicates that some rest is required to let the body catch back up on itself.

4. Improved Performance…

Yes… believe it or not a few days rest can help improve your performance. Some people don’t want to miss a couple of days in case it affects the progress they have already made, but for most people it generally takes 1 or 2 weeks of no activity before they notice a change in their performance.

Lesley

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Weight Training

Whilst training one of my clients the other day, a friend of his approached us and laughed saying he could never do what my client was doing as he was too old for it... My client was 63 and was lifting a 30kg bar doing a chest press on a bench...

Weight training in the gym has a lot of misguided beliefs surrounding it; women think it will make them bulky and elderly people think it will injure them. The issue is, these populations that think weight training is bad could be seeing massive benefits if implementing it in their training.

The fact is, building muscle is hard work, and it doesn’t come easy to a huge amount of people. Many men struggle for years to build solid muscular tissue and this struggle is compounded more so in females; as females’ have 10x less testosterone than men, (a key muscle building hormone). You also need a calorie surplus when looking to gain muscle, so you need to eat more than your body normally needs to stimulate new muscle growth. It is rare for a female to increase calories if they are health conscious and trying to improve their body composition.

Muscle creates shape and many women want more shape, firm legs, toned arms, and to create the ideal body. Weight training is actually an essential path to creating that ‘look’. Weights, often heavy weights, need to be lifted to condition the muscles under fat tissue, and then reduce the fat tissue enough to see it.

The elderly are another population put off by the apparent negatives of weight training. Often there’s a perception of a high injury risk with weight training in a gym, or perceived as being for the ‘young’. Strength in old age becomes important as the body naturally declines in overall function/condition, joint integrity, bone strength and muscle flexibility. Lifting weights just once a week can protect against these issues. Strong bones, muscles and joints will dramatically reduce the risk of injury and comes from being active and resisting your body against heavy objects, such as weight training or other activities.

Lesley

For more information or advice on any aspect of Personal Training, or for a free consultation contact me on 0773 6274925 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..