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Clean up your feed

Clean up your feed

Clean up your feed

It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

This post is inspired by a message I received from someone following my Instagram account. It made for a sad read, and I could feel the struggle through the screen as I was reading it. To summarise, it basically said that they’d seen and heard so much negative information about everyday food and diets and now they didn’t know what is right, what is wrong, who to trust or how to get out of the fear that they have around food. This advice was around foods that are seriously nutritionally great. They add sooooo much good stuff to the body, yet she was scared to touch it. The shocking thing was that some of this information had come from a nutrition ‘professional’ (I put professional in quotes because anyone giving that kind of information out should not be allowed to use the word professional – do your homework when you hire someone folks!).

One great thing that you can do for yourself today, that will have an instant impact, is to get some of that crazy nonsense out of your eye line altogether. Out of sight, out of mind is how the old saying goes. We spend so much time on social media now, and that’s not going to stop, but you can protect yourself when it comes to the information you are exposed to.

Clean up your social media feeds. Remove those celebrities trying to sell you quick fixes. Their juices and teas and stupid injections are nothing but money making hype.

Get rid of those people who are trying to convince you that their diet is the best one. They all say that they are scientifically proven, are ‘not a diet’, and that they the one plan that replaces all before them.

Even mute those friends who are always shouting about their weight related issues. You don’t have to delete them, but you also don’t need to see their weight losses or gains, their clothes sizes, the new product that they’re selling, or the award they got from their slimming club this week (urgh!).

You’re not a bad friend for doing that – you’re protecting your mental and physical health.

social media icons

Now make it a positive place to be and replace them with people who will guide you in a gentle way, giving you honest and trustworthy information. There are so many recommendations of incredible sources of safe nutritional information that I would love to share with you. Here are some of my faves, in no particular order. These are all websites (you can click through to them), but if you go to THIS POST on my Instagram or THIS POST on my Facebook you can go through to their social media feeds from there.

Laura Thomas PhD

Laura Thomas owns the London Centre for Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, creators of Intuitive Eating

Pixie Turner

Pixie Turner, anti-diet nutritionist

The F*ck It Diet

Caroline Dooner, anti-diet author

Christy Harrison

Christy Harrison, anti-diet dietitian and intuitive eating coach

Dietetically Speaking

Maeve Hanan, dietician, no nonsense nutrition

Rhitrition

Rhiannon Lambert, nutritionist

If you want something to sit and read I highly recommend these books:

The F*ck It Diet

Caroline Dooner's amazing and funny book on how to say 'f*ck it' and give up dieting. It's full of information on why we diet, why it's so damaging to our health, and how to tackle the thoughts and habits that come up as you are giving it up. Very compassionate and warm, and a giggle or two along the way. All science backed!

Intuitive Eating

Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch - the ladies who originally created intuitive eating and made it the incredible method that we use today. Kind and caring, a step by step guide to tackling the physical and the mental side of leaving diet culture behind. Just revised and re-released so this is brand new! A must read.

Body Positive Power

Megan Jayne Crabbe's book on how to let go of your body hang ups and realise that whatever shape and size you are, you are wonderful. Megan brings her own struggles into the book, and shows you that no matter what your circumstances you can release negative relationships with food and learn to enjoy it. 

Please note:  Links to items available to purchase are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission from your purchase. However, these items have been chosen because I love and trust them, and I feel that they would benefit other people, not because I may earn a couple of quid! You are welcome of course to source them elsewhere, but if you purchase them through my link I will be super grateful.

 

Slimming club mentality

Slimming club mentality

Slimming club mentality

There’s no shame in a gain!

Many slimming club consultants

As a long term dieter I have frequented a slimming club or two. They were a big part of my life for many years. At any given time I thought that was the best plan ever. This was the one that was going to sort me out. This was the one that was the right way to eat. I was going to lose weight, be skinny, and stay that way forever! Needless to say here I am today, not on one of those plans and definitely not skinny.

A little while ago I was thinking about all the crazy things that slimming club consultants used to say that I bought in to while I was going to those clubs. The ‘fun’ little sayings, the competitive side of losing weight, the explanations and justifications for the food you ‘could’ or ‘couldn’t’ eat. Looking back it seems like madness but I’m not annoyed at myself for believing it all. It was part of the journey and everyone else seemed to be going along with it. Plus when you are desperate, which I feel I was, you believe anything. Maybe if the consultants had been more like Marjorie Dawes in Fat Fighters on Little Britain I might not have stuck around……… or maybe I would??

Did you watch the video? It’s very funny (and very out of date and I appreciate inappropriate at times) but if you went to a slimming club you’ll recognise aspects of it from the actual real-life groups. It’s scarily similar in places.

I did wonder whether anyone else had had the same experiences as me so I posted on social media to ask the question, and the responses came flooding in. Get yourself a cuppa and get comfy. It’s a long list!

Line up!

Let’s start with the very underpinning of the slimming club – the weighing (that is after you’ve been to the loo to get rid of every last drop of weight). You go in and pay your money. A fiver or thereabouts to have the pleasure of lining up like lemmings to hop on the scales at the end. You might be lucky and have someone at the weigh point who is friendly and discreet or you might get loud-mouthed Susan who can’t whisper to save her life. The loud is fine if you’ve lost weight that week but if you’ve gained you don’t want that broadcasting, even with an ‘awww, never mind’. Not to worry though because Karen is going to announce it in the group later. Sitting around, you have to discuss your result that week, share ‘how you did it’ if it’s a loss,  or ‘what went wrong’ if you gained. A sympathetic smile, and lots of suggestions from the group for how you can do better this week. More ideas that you won’t enjoy obviously. Tell me again why I was happy to do that? 

No shame in a gain

Apparently ‘there’s no shame in a weight gain’. This was meant to be positive to make you feel better about having a gain on the scales that week, but actually then you were expected to explain ‘what went wrong’ so there’s no feeling good in that. How about it’s just life Karen?! Nothing went wrong, I just lived life and didn’t just eat dust and air.

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle

Oh that old chestnut. Apparently the diet was not a diet. This was a new way of eating. This was how life was going to be for the rest of time. I will spend my life eating ‘free foods’ (more on that in a mo) and counting points for the foods that aren’t free. Does that sound reasonable? Absolutely not. Does it sound like a diet?

feet standing on weighing scales

Absolutely yes. That’s because it is! Any eating habits where there is any form of restriction is a diet. Given that these plans ALL involve some kind of limiting of foods they are ALL diets. Show me the slimming club where you eat as much as you like of whatever you like, with no rules.

Constant counting

This brings me nicely on to this – the points system. No food in real life comes with a points system. They have calories, that is a fact. They have nutrients, that is also a fact. They do not have points. Why should you have to count the amounts of delicious, nutritious food you are eating? Except the branded stuff that they sell you, that’s good for you. Don’t have a cereal bar from Tesco, have our bars. The problem with these is that you’re so dissatisfied with the things you are ‘allowed’ to eat, and you don’t have any of the really nice stuff you want, that the bars and other food that they sell you taste reasonably good.

Free foods

The other end of the spectrum is the free foods. Have as much as you like. Potatoes, rice, pasta, fruit veg, certain yoghurts and snacks. Now I am totally on board with eating as much as you like of any food. The problem with this is that nothing in life is free, and the same applies to diet plans. Those free foods come with rules. You can have as much as you like, but only if you’ve first filled half of your plate with vegetables. You can have as much as you like, but only at ‘meal times’. These foods are free until your weight starts to plateau and then you’re told to reduce the amount of them that you are eating. Well are they free or not?? For the record, you can eat as much of these foods as you want, and any other foods you choose (unless you have intolerances/allergies/medical reasons why you shouldn’t). 

Plate with a sad face on a pink background, with a silver knife and fork

Tweaking

Whatever you do, don’t get creative with your free foods. Don’t be using them for any purposes other than what they should be used for (oh I know, sounds mental doesn’t it).

Unfortunately though this is what restriction does to you. It makes you find ways to cheat the system. It makes you bend the rules so that you can fill those holes that the restricted foods have left.

You try to make pizza bases from Smash, tortilla chips from baked lasagne sheets, couscous for breakfast instead of oats because you want to have bread at lunch time, and don’t even think about blitzing up or mashing a banana.

Smoothies? absolutely not! 

Swaps

What can I swap that delicious, nutritious, full fat, creamy Greek yoghurt for? Here’s a Muller Light. What can I swap wonderful cheese for? Have cottage cheese? What can I swap lovely fresh white bread for? Have a couple of Ryvita. What can I swap creamy vanilla ice cream for? Whip up a fruit yoghurt with some natural yoghurt and freeze that.

What is also not clear is that these swaps are often processed and lacking in the good stuff that our bodies need. Low fat or low calorie does not necessarily equal healthier. Look at the yoghurt example – the yoghurt that we swapped out is without a doubt more nutritious than the processed item that you are advised to have instead.

Oh please! Can you just eat? Eat what you want and what will satisfy you. I say this because if you make swaps and have a ‘healthier alternative’ the chances are that really you’re still going to want the real thing. Restriction ultimately leads to binging. Do yourself a favour and just have some of the food that you will love. You really shouldn’t eat things that you just don’t enjoy. 

Exercise

Exercise went one of two ways – you were either praised or discouraged, depending on your weight that week! If you’d had a good loss it was bound to be because you’d got some extra exercise in that week, but if you had a gain it was sure to be because you’d done some extra exercise that week. However, you earned certificates for this exercise so on the weeks you’d gained ‘because of the exercise’ you were still rewarded for it.

At some slimming clubs you get extra points for exercise you do, and are therefore having to earn your food. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you never have to earn your food. You are entitled to eat, and your amounts of exercise and food do not dictate each other.

Slimmer of the week

And while we’re on the certificates thread, let’s talk about Slimmer Of The Week and Slimmer Of The Month awards. If ever there was something so demotivating it was this. To qualify for the weekly award you had to have the biggest loss that week and you had to have lost weight the week before. Then each month the person who had lost the most weight got an award. But that is motivating I hear you say – sure, if you’re a person who can lose weight easily, if you have ‘a lot to lose’ and so it’s coming off quickly, if you’re new to the game and your body is reacting to it. What about those that have been doing it so long and their body is fighting back and saying no to the weight loss? What about the person who is struggling to put food on the table and so is eating what they can? What about the person who is just trying to do the best they can and is slowly losing a half pound a week? Are they not to be praised and celebrated too?

Holidays

Then comes the holidays. The summer holidays with the all inclusive, Christmas with all that food and drink. Easter with all those yummy eggs and lunches. Stay on plan though! I remember one Christmas going back to my slimming club the very next meeting and being sooooo pleased with my half pound loss. I’d had such a miserable food Christmas though. I’d restricted and missed out on things. For what, half a pound? I got Slimmer Of The Week though – winner! Looking back now it feels ridiculous that I would have done that but so many of us did it, I’ve heard from you.

Cheat days

These were heavily discouraged. Stay ‘on plan’ 100% of the time and you’re guaranteed to lose weight. But that’s not real life.

Easter chocolate bunny and eggs

Sometimes we just want to eat what we want to eat. Doing this should not be considered cheating. Cheating implies something bad has happened, and honouring your hungry and cravings is not bad.

What, no food?

What about the slimming clubs where you don’t actually get real food to eat? Oh yes, they exist don’t they. Not only do you have the issues mentioned so far but add to this that you don’t even get to eat. Before the advocates all jump on me for this one, I know you eat some food, but nowhere near what your body should have. How does it go – a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, then a lovely (incredibly low calorie) meal for dinner. Oh what a treat. These diets are even worse because they put you in a seriously low calorie deficit. ‘But you have to be in a deficit to lose weight don’t you?’. Technically, yes, but a sensible deficit. The problems with seriously restricting calories can be addressed in another blog post, but for now let’s stay focussed on the fact that you are being subjected to all of that stuff that makes diet culture and slimming clubs horrible plus you not even eating real food….. and you are paying a large amount of money for the privilege. Please remember, there is no substitute for real nutrients found in real food.

 

Resulting actions

As if those things listed so far weren’t bad enough, there were some comments that are quite frankly scary, sad, and infuriating all rolled into one. I don’t think they need any explanation from me………

v

I knew someone who was told milk was the devil at her slimmers’ club and so she decided to stop eating breakfast so she could have an extra cup of milky coffee a day.

v

I was told 1 banana a day ‘is probably too much banana’ at one group I went to. I also used to eat entire boxes of meringue nests and still remain on plan.

v

One tip was to spread the butter on the smoother side of the crackerbread so you might save 10 cals? If I was that concerned over 10 cals I wouldn’t be eating the crackerbread.

v

My nana had a fridge magnet from the group which told you what you could and couldn’t eat. I’ll always remember that!  It’s huge as well, covers the bottom of the fridge door! I said to her I wouldn’t be able to remember all this!

v

I don’t like the fact that you are encouraged to get a summer body, who owns it in winter then?

v

From the horrors of standing on the scales to the applaud for people who have restricted themselves the most and hence lost the most amount of weight. It’s sad really.

v

I was told that I should avoid fruit as it was so full of sugar – by a lady who makes kombucha.

v

“What happened/ went wrong?!” is the one I remember most.

v

“If it swims it slims”, “drink to shrink” & “little pickers wear bigger knickers”

v

‘I remember my mum being told Jaffa cakes were ok as they were low fat so she ate the whole pack. I did love that an exercise class was included so felt I was getting my money’s worth. Did weightwatchers… just to get weighed while doing Atkins for accountability. Hated their ‘don’t eat that bar of chocolate, eat our bar of chocolate’ mentality. Did one where I had my bloods taken and the plan was individualised ….yeh right? Can’t actually remember any of the weird stuff said tho. Too long ago thank god!’

v

I remember being told I was too young to diet….I was 20. I was told that I could eat as much fruit and Muller light yoghurts I wanted as they were free from “sins” (full of sugar). I remember the whole class being about how you could “bend the rules” of the diet. Really unhealthy advice, no focus at all on health. Being weighed in front of everyone acted as an ‘incentive’ to basically starve yourself. So group humiliation………. scary stuff… oh and of course, fat makes you fat, anything low fat is healthy. Extra extra low fat spreads spray cooking oil…. just lots of processed food, but then it was the 90’s – (By the way, that’s still the advice 30 years on)

v

a friend had a positive experience, lost weight and maintained this weight loss…… It did make her change some habits to healthier ones such as replacing carbs with wholegrain versions when possible. From what I’ve gathered, the rare session leader appears to actually have a clue about nutrition (not justifying they are qualified in any sense) where as others provide information which is dangerous to health. These instructors need to be monitored and it may be worth the company looking into the role being carried out by volunteers whom are second or third year student dietitians / nutritionists once they have learned the necessary information about healthy and sustainable weight loss!

I included this last one to give some balance, but giving a balanced view on this topic is near impossible. This was genuinely the only almost positive feedback that I received. It is absolutely well said. The consultants out there that take the time to do some actual nutritional training and be able to pass that on to their groups are like needles in a haystack. I’m happy to hear that someone has gained some positive habits from their time there. Sadly these members are few and far between. 

P.s Apologies to those who sent me comments on their experiences that I haven’t included. I had so many that it was tough to choose which to use. 

Final word

Have you heard enough to understand how bad these slimming clubs are yet? The mental damage that is done sticks with you for a lifetime. The habits learnt of how to restrict and how certain foods are good and bad become so ingrained that you will second guess your eating habits for a long time. It takes hard work and support to undo that damage, but it can be done.

I understand how for some people their slimming club can feel like a social event, somewhere you have likeminded friends, people who share your pain and frustrations about your weight. But that’s what it is, pain and frustration. Imagine a life where you weren’t constantly thinking about food, counting your allowances, worrying about weigh day on Tuesday because you dared to have a good night out with your friends at the weekend. Don’t be that person in your 50s or 60s, still sat in slimming club after literally decades of trying to lose weight. Choose to be happy instead.

Please, if you are still thinking that diets are fine and won’t do you any harm please re-read this post. If then you still believe it’s fine please email me and we’ll have a conversation. I’ll point you in the direction of real science, real studies, real people who had their body and mental health devastated by diets. If you’re on a plan now I’m sure you think you’re happy but I promise you the second you stop you’ll be so much happier. The second you realise that your body is able to regulate itself if you let it and that you will be able to eat well intuitively if you stop restriction you will feel a huge weight lifted. There is a massive community of people that can help and support you, proper healthcare professionals that are educated and know the real facts behind weight and health, and you won’t even have to pay £5 a week to access it!

Let’s show diet culture up for what it really is and encourage people to take part in a gentler, more relaxed, happier way of eating. 

‘You’ve convinced me. I’m done! What next?’

If you have just said that to yourself you do not know how happy that makes me. I’m so pleased and excited for you. I know you’re about to start a much happier and healthier way of life.

I know the prospect of giving up dieting is scary, it really is, but there are so many great resources out there to help you to do it.  Here are some of my very favourites. I promise they’re very friendly, an easy read, and not full of heavy jargon that will confuse you. Plus, isn’t the money spent on a book or two much better than £5 a week for the rest of time???

Don’t forget to follow me on social media though too. I’m all about sharing tips and motivation to keep you going. Anyway, back to the books……..

 

The F*ck It Diet

Caroline Dooner’s amazing and funny book on how to say ‘f*ck it’ and give up dieting. It’s full of information on why we diet, why it’s so damaging to our health, and how to tackle the thoughts and habits that come up as you are giving it up. Very compassionate and warm, and a giggle or two along the way. All science backed!

Intuitive Eating

Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch – the ladies who originally created intuitive eating and made it the incredible method that we use today. Kind and caring, a step by step guide to tackling the physical and the mental side of leaving diet culture behind. Just revised and re-released so this is brand new! A must read.

Body Positive Power

Megan Jayne Crabbe’s book on how to let go of your body hang ups and realise that whatever shape and size you are, you are wonderful. Megan brings her own struggles into the book, and shows you that no matter what your circumstances you can release negative relationships with food and learn to enjoy it. 

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠. 

The links to the books are affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you buy them. The price to you however has not changed.

Thank you so much to all the people who took the time to write in with their comments when I asked for feedback. You never know, you might have just convinced someone to give diet culture the heave-ho forever and live a better life for it. Well done you 🙂

 

There’s no such thing as bad food

There’s no such thing as bad food

There’s no such thing as bad food

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.

Erma Bombeck

How many times have you heard someone say they can’t eat something because they’re on a diet and it’s ‘bad for them’? It’s so sad. This way of thinking has been around for a long time but I think it’s getting more pronounced, especially with the appearance of ‘clean’ eating. What a nasty term that is – but more about that in another blog post! The reality is that there really is no bad food, unless you have an allergy or intolerance. Even then the food isn’t ‘bad’, it’s just not something your body could tolerate so you can’t really eat it. Other than that everything can be enjoyed. Every food has a place in your diet.  

Let’s talk about cake. Why shouldn’t you have a slice of birthday cake if everyone else is celebrating? Does it make you happy to avoid it when everyone else is having a slice? No, probably not. Will that slice of cake do a whole heap of damage to your body, your weight, or your mental health? No, it will not. ⁠The ingredients of a cake are usually based around flour, eggs, butter, sugar, some flavourings, and then the glorious filling. Oh my life, how I love cake!! Are those ingredients bad? No. Are they each full of nutrients and energy that the body can use? Yes. Do they suddenly become ‘bad’ when combined and baked? No!

Not convinced yet? Ok, let’s break some of the ingredients down to explain it. Flour is a source of protein, vitamins, fibre, and carbohydrates, all necessary for your body to function well. Eggs are a wonderful source of protein, fats, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Butter is a great source of vitamins A along with vitamins E, B12 and K. Also, calcium, phosphorus, and other B vitamins, and some fatty acids that have been shown to benefit health.

‘But sugar is soooooo bad for you!’ Nope, wrong. Table sugar is actually a great source of energy. Our body’s primary energy source is glucose. Sugar is a disaccharide made up of only fructose and glucose, so it doesn’t take an awful lot for the body to break it down into its constituent parts and get that quick energy burst it might be looking for. 

Canva - Delicious Slice of Red Velvet Cake

Sugar really is about as close as you can get to providing fuel for your body. Do I need to go on? Probably not. I’ve made my point. It’s been long engrained in us that cake is ‘bad’, but actually you can now see that there are some great things to come out of that lovely slice of victoria sponge. (Here’s a recipe by the way, just in case you’re now motivated to make one!)

Just in case I haven’t sold you on this yet, let’s do another. How about ice cream? If you have a craving for ice cream on a hot day will it make you happy to not have one? No of course it won’t. Will having an ice cream create lasting problems for your body, cause massive weight gains, or negatively affect your mental health? No, of course not. ⁠What will actually happen is you will deprive yourself and trigger a fixation on ice cream. It will be all you think about for a while. Nothing will quite hit the spot. Maybe you’ll eat a stack of other foods to try to curb that craving, or maybe later you’ll eat several ice creams, or a big tub of it. That’s because that’s what restriction does. This is the binge-restrict cycle. If you actually let yourself go and have that ice cream what will happen? You’ll eat ice cream, you’ll feel refreshed from the heat, you’ll have some pleasure in your day, you won’t spend the rest of the day wishing you’d had one, and guess what – you won’t have suddenly expanded your waist line (not that that would be a problem anyway). 

What if you released your restriction and have a slice of cake, or a second if you fancy it? Having an ice cream, and maybe another one later if you want it. That’s all ok.

The problems only arise when our diet is made up largely of these items and you have too few nutrient dense foods in your diet. Then there is likely to be a negative impact on health and wellbeing, and not because the one food is ‘bad’ but because our bodies need the things you’re not giving it enough of. ⁠

In actual fact, the restriction you are putting on yourself will have a more negative impact than good. Saying no and being so strict makes you feel bad, makes you sad, and ultimately leads to later binges of the restricted items.⁠

Ice Cream on Cone With Gray Metallic Holder Photo

So here is the message for a healthy, happy relationship with food – eat it. If you stop restricting and start allowing yourself to eat anything you want you will almost certainly find that after a while those foods actually don’t hold that much power over you. The drive to eat them won’t be so loud because you’ve given yourself permission to eat it. You’ll have them when you want them, and other times you’ll have other, more nutritious foods. If you feel like you’re needing some more of the nutritious stuff then have it, but you don’t need to remove the other stuff in order to do that. You can have both! Your body knows what it’s doing, and once this becomes a way of life you will instinctively know what you need from your food, and you’ll realise that your overall balance of nutrients over time is perfectly fine.

Be kind to yourself, enjoy eating. There is no need for guilt. Know that every food has a value, and if you shake off those food rules you can love food so much more.

 

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠. 

Why you can’t trust a PT to give you nutritional advice

Why you can’t trust a PT to give you nutritional advice

Why you can’t trust a PT to give you nutritional advice

Bad advice will blind you.
Good advice will instruct you.
Great advice will enlighten you.

Matshona Dhliwayo

PTs (Personal Trainers) are very quick to give nutritional advice. It’s all part of the service alongside the training right? Wrong!

Here’s why……

Something that angers me is the tough rap that Nutritionists and Nutritional Therapists get. Let me explain. Dieticians are regulated by law. Therefore, if someone is a dietician they have been through plenty of training, will have a degree or higher, and will undertake regular continued professional development in order to be able to continue to use the term dietician. They will be registered and regulated, and you can probably trust that they know what they are talking about.

The terms ‘Nutritionist’ and ‘Nutritional Therapist’ on the other hand are not regulated which leaves them open to some abuse. This means that anyone can do a bit of training and then give themself one of those two titles. These courses can be as short as a couple of days long.

Now have a think about that – how much nutritional information do you think you can learn in a couple of days? Not much huh? What about if it was a couple of weeks long? I reckon you could learn some basics. Ok, so what about a couple of months – that’s bound to give you everything you need to know right? I don’t know about you but I couldn’t learn the complete ins and outs of the human body and the interactions with food in that time.

In contrast to that, my degree is 5 years of constant studying. Heads in books, a never ending stream of journal reading, and countless assignments, case studies, essays and clinical practice. 5 years of learning about the human body at a cellular level, anatomy and physiology, biochemical imbalances, disease, gut health down to a microbial level, hormones, the components of food and how each vitamin and mineral interacts with the body in a multitude of ways from the brain to the gut and all the surrounding complex systems.

Then add into that the many health issues that people might have, and the clinical practice involved in helping that person overcome them. Still think that can be learnt in a couple of months??

Let’s bring this back to the PTs I was referring to. Most of them will have done some personal training qualifications, and some to a high level and high standard which is excellent. As an expert in their 

personal trainer stood in a boxing ring

field I would expect that. Within these courses there will be an element of nutritional training, and probably some guidance on how to set meal plans to get the best from their physical training plans. A basic understanding of nutrition is good for them to have and can be a real help to the trainer, but I truly believe that at that level of knowledge you should still not be advising people. A PT cannot possibly have a full understanding of their client’s health status, and quite frankly to mess with their nutritional input can be quite dangerous.

Here’s an excerpt from a training manual for a currently available Level 3 personal training course.

excerpt from pt course

This clearly tells the student that after this course they can legally call themself a Nutritional Therapist. They are taught by personal trainers, not by nutrition health professionals. Their assessment for passing the nutritional aspect of the course is a multiple choice exam where they are required to achieve a pass of either 70% or 90% depending on whether they are a full time or part time student. Now, if only my degree was decided using a multiple choice test!

To bring this into context for you, a level 3 qualification is the equivalent to an AS or A level, or an advanced apprenticeship. Would you trust someone straight out of college or an apprenticeship to advise you on how to get the best from your body by telling you how to alter your diet? Before you answer that take into account that this course that I’m referring to is 2 weeks long if you are full time, and 6 weeks long if you are a part time student. If that isn’t worrying enough and you are still thinking it’ll probably be ok, be sure to think about the fact that getting the balance of just ONE single vitamin wrong can have drastic, even life threatening, results.

My registration with a professional body says that I cannot advise people until I have completed the full 5 years of the degree, yet these PTs are happy to advise after 2 weeks. What are your thoughts now?

Now technically…. TECHNICALLY… that person can indeed call themselves a nutritional therapist because they have undertaken some nutritional training. But so have I, and when you compare their snippet of information gained in a two week training course to the vast and in depth knowledge that I have through multiple training courses (at level 5) and the degree I think you’ll agree that I am more deserving of that title than they are.

What this rant is basically saying is please do your homework on the people that you are taking advice from. There are some really excellent Nutritionists and Nutritional Therapists out there that have done years of training to be able to help you in a competent and safe way. Never be afraid to ask someone what their qualifications are when they try to give you nutritional or dietary advice. Check out their registrations and ask them what they are required to do to stay up to date with the latest information in their field. Ask them what they specialise in. Does that translate to what you think you need? They might be very lovely and make you feel safe with them as a trainer, but that does not mean they are the person to coach your nutritional needs.

I’m not saying that all PTs are bad or that all PTs will give this advice. There are some that will happily say that they aren’t able to give nutritional advice, and they should be praised. Unfortunately there are others that do though, and will often charge extra for the pleasure! These are the ones to avoid. This is your health, your life, your wellbeing that they are messing with. That person could do you some good, or could do you a whole heap of damage. Make sure the person you are paying good money to really knows their stuff.

You deserve to be in the best health. Have the right people help you with that.

Who is on your support team?

Who is on your support team?

Who is on your support team?

We don’t heal in isolation, but in community

S. Kelley Harrell

I cannot do what I do in my life without several people – my husband, my kids, my family, and my close friends. These people are my support network. I’m not referring to one particular aspect of my life, but all of it. Everything I do I pretty much rely on the support of other people, and I think that’s the same for most people. Life is tough. No-one gets through it unscathed. There are good times and bad for all of us, and it’s only human that we should want to share that with others.

Each person plays a unique part. No two people really give me the same support. My husband is ever supportive, and my sounding board. He is the calm to my ‘have to do everything NOW’ approach to life. He listens when I’m down and encourages my ideas.

My friends pick me up and encourage me, and give me a laugh when I’m feeling rubbish. No two friends are the same. They give me individual pleasures. One I talk to about music, spirituality, life, dreams and ‘real’ stuff, whereas another I talk to about work, and body positivity, and eating, and the trials of being in business. I have a friend that I have daily motivational chats with that are beyond helpful – thank you Lyndsey.

No two friends are the same but they all are very much needed in my life.

Happy senior couple hugging in a supporting manner in autumn park

My kids inspire me to be my best and give them someone to hopefully look up to. A role model, a teacher, and someone to help them through life. But in helping them it helps me. It gives me a purpose that isn’t just my own issues, and the pleasure I get from seeing them thrive and grow into beautiful adults is amazing.

Everyone needs this support network around them, no matter what they are trying to achieve. There are few people who can go without and do it alone, and I’m sure that even they would appreciate a friendly face and a few kind words every now and then. No man is an island and all that.

Some might say that this support is even more important if you are on a journey with your health, body size and nutrition. It’s such a personal thing to work through and you need people close to you to celebrate the wins and help you up when you’re down. Share with people around you what you are trying to achieve.

Make these people are people that you trust to help you. Is that your partner or your parents, maybe your grandparents? Have you got a large group of friends that can help, or just one or two that are totally trusted? Trust is super important because you’ll be more likely to open up and be honest when you need a pick up from them.

Tell your chosen team how they can help and what they need to do in order to support you. Explain your reasons why and tell them how important it is to you.Tell them the things that affect you and where you might need some extra support. If you don’t like comments that you regularly hear, ask them to stop and reframe what they are saying. Ask them to respect your choices (as long as they are safe and healthy!) and then speak up and use them when you need to. 

Four women sat laughing, chatting and supporting each other

Whether you need time to talk about something, or just need a hug, it will make all the difference to your success and they will undoubtedly be happy to help you.

Who’s on your team? Who is your biggest supporter? Gather your tribe and look after each other. Remember, whether you have a team around you or not I am here. I will help, support and guide you. I will be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. I’m very good at making people feel a little cheerier you know! Be sure to stay in touch on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and we’ll get life’s ups and downs together.

Movement, not exercise

Movement, not exercise

Movement, not exercise

Your body is the most complete and miraculous piece of gym equipment you’ll ever need

Toni Sorenson

Do you exercise and love it, or struggle to find the will to get up and do it?
Do you feel excited to do the activity, or feel fear and anxiety? 
Do you exercise somewhere you love and feel safe, or somewhere you feel you are constantly being watched?
Do you do it because you want to, or because you feel you should?

I feel so sad for people who don’t enjoy their exercise. Not that you have to do the traditional definition of ‘exercise’ but if you do you should at least enjoy it. All too often people moan about dragging themselves out for a run, or to the gym, or to a class that they detest. And don’t even get me started on people who say they have to do it because they had something to eat earlier that they feel they now need to burn off. Let’s just get this straight – exercise is not a punishment and you never have to earn food or burn calories. 

I like to think of it as movement, not exercise. Movement is good for you. It’ll keep you supple and keep your muscles in a good functional condition. It keeps your bones healthy and helps with circulation. It helps you regulate your energy levels and your sleep. It has a multitude of benefits throughout the body that you wouldn’t even think of.

Movement should be done for the sheer love of it. It should be something you can’t wait to do, something you do because you enjoy the way it makes you feel.

Remember when you used to jump on a trampoline as a child, or when you used to dance around your bedroom with a hairbrush as a microphone. Do you still dance around the house when music is on, or has that disappeared from your life? What about when you used to kick a football around the park, or ride your bike so far that you got lost and had to find your way home (oops! Navigation never was my strong point!). What about when you used to go to the swimming pool and splash around, just having fun?

Where has the joy gone? Where has the fun movement gone? Has it been swapped out for sweaty gym classes or the dreaded spin bike?

two ballet dancers

If you don’t enjoy it just don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. What is the point in half killing yourself because you think you should be doing it? Life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t enjoy. Find a way to move that you do enjoy. It’s going to be each to their own.  One man’s pleasure is another man’s torture, but that’s fine. The world would be a dull place if we all liked to do the same things.

Even if you really truly love the activity you have chosen you should not be uncomfortable in that space while exercising. If you are in the gym and feel like people are criticising you for example that’s not ok. The reality is they’re probably not! They’re far too busy checking out their own ‘guns’ and their abs in the mirror, but whatever the reality if you feel awkward and can’t get past that then you are not in the right space for you.

Find a friendly class where you’re welcomed with a smile when you walk through the door. Go jogging with a friend you love to catch up with. Do some YouTube videos with your partner or kids if they’re up for a giggle and a bit of movement with you. Or just do something alone if you like your own space.

legs wearing running shoes on the beach

Find something that you love to do, something you are excited to start, excited to go to, in a place that makes you feel joy, with people you enjoy spending time with. If the by-product of this movement just happens to be health benefits then that’s amazing, but it shouldn’t be the main reason you choose your movement.

It doesn’t have to be overly strenuous or make you feel like you’ve been trampled on by a herd of elephants the next day. Ideally something that gets the blood pumping and the heart rate up a little for the health benefits, but you do you and if you are finding a way to move every day that’s got to be better than spending your days on the couch.

Move in a way that makes you feel fantastic, empowered, strong, free, mentally stronger, excited. Walk, dance, run, skip, ride, play, lift, breathe, stretch, connect. Which of those words makes you feel good and like you’d find happiness doing them?

What movement do you do that makes you feel amazing? Maybe have a look at possible new opportunities locally. Is today the day you try something new?

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant. As always, please see a registered professional before undertaking any new exercise routines. Please continue to follow any professional advice you have been given in respect of movement and exercise.