Within Anytime, Anywhere Fitness I encourage members to ask fitness questions they have. Here is one question I had recently.
“Hi Lianne. I am starting to get dimples in my arms and belly. Apart from the obvious is there anything else you would recommend? I am going through menopause and a probably drink too much beer. My problem is I start exercise with great intention then either some part of my body starts to bloody hurt so I stop!!!”
There are many parts to answering this question.
1. Dimples (cellulite)
2. Alcohol (covered in my previous blog here)
3. Exercise hurting
Let’s look at cellulite first. Whilst you can reduce the appearance by reducing overall body fat, we can never fully get rid of it. It’s a completely natural thing and one that we as women need to embrace a lot more than we do. Take a look at this picture. Paris Hilton has next to no body fat and still has cellulite. Rock it! We need to all start rocking our cellulite!
If you want to reduce your overall body fat, and therefore the appearance of cellulite (it will never fully go away) is to create a calorie deficit (a negative energy balance).
Before you read about calories you may want to watch this 4 minute video. It simplifies what calories actually are.
Simplified even further for this brief chat about calories is that in order to lose excess body fat we need to be in a calorie ‘deficit’. We need to be eating below the requirement needed to get through each day. If you have an active job/life you would in general need more calories to get through the day which is why exercise or movement in general is a great way to help you get into a deficit.
People with inactive jobs will need less food to survive the day as they’re moving less. For instance, if you have an inactive job and are eating as much as someone with an active job, inevitably you will gain excess body fat. So, moral of the story- work out your daily calorific needs, track what you eat and MOVE lots! Link at the bottom to lots of calculators.
A great place to reduce calories is by reducing the amount of alcohol you consume. These are empty calories and have no benefit to our bodies. As well as this alcohol can inhibit fat loss in MANY ways. Please see my previous BLOG about alcohol for more in depth detail about this.
3. Exercise hurting
If exercise is hurting you, definitely change what you’re doing. Consider a different method. If it’s because your muscles are aching, this is normal to an extent but if it is uncomfortable, find something you enjoy doing to get your movement in. Anything that raises your heart rate a little and moves your body is great. You don’t have to absolutely flog yourself.
Any questions and discussion points are AS ALWAYS welcome 😊
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I recently had a friend reach out to me for some online training becoming a regular client of mine. This person will remain anonymous of course but I have permission to share what was said when we had our first consultation.
Whilst my client has always been at a great fitness level to me, she was concerned about her energy levels. Hitting 47 soon she was concerned that she was gaining excess body fat and her energy levels weren’t as high as they used to be. She had also plateaued with her fitness level and wanted to regain the buzz she always had for fitness with some guidance.
Whilst discussing where we were going with the sessions and her goals, an open and honest discussion revealed that over the past year she had increasingly drank wine of an evening after not regularly doing so in the past. Over the past week before the consultation 5 out of 7 nights she had consumed 2 glasses of wine.
I want to take the alcohol part of this consultation and reveal some facts about alcohol in this blog; which I believe is a major factor towards the negative effects my client was feeling.
If any of the above resonates slightly with you or you are simply interested then read on….
1- It is highly calorific and each calorie has zero nutritional benefit (or any health benefit for that matter).
At 7 kcal per gram, even one pint of beer a day (200kcal) is an additional 1400kcal a week. This is 5600kcal a month.
It takes 3500kcal to burn 1lb of body fat. Cutting down (or cutting OUT) alcohol is therefore a perfect way to reduce your calorie intake and therefore burn excess body fat.
2- When we drink alcohol our bodies use it as its primary source of fuel over other nutrients such as carbohydrates and fats.
As your body is desperate to get rid of the alcohol (poison) from your body it will select this as a primary source of fuel over the usual carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Unfortunately the excess calories from the other sources of food will then be stored as excess body fat. If you’re on a weight loss journey this is really not ideal as the alcohol tends to be on top of daily calorie intake ... resulting in a BIG calorie surplus. In other words, calories that you would have otherwise burnt, get stored as excess body fat.
3- Excess alcohol consumption can lead to what is known as alcoholic fatty liver.
The primary role of your liver is to act as the “filter” for any foreign substances that enter your body, such as drugs and alcohol. The liver also plays a role in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. ‘Fatty Liver’ condition can damage your liver, affecting the way your body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fats. Changes in the way your body stores energy from food can make it very difficult to lose weight.
4- You WILL overeat!
Even the most die-hard fitness and health fanatic will have a hard time fighting the urge to dig in when intoxicated. (Guilty!)
Firstly whilst intoxicated, alcohol lowers inhibitions and can lead to poor decision-making in the heat of the moment — especially when it comes to food choices.
Whilst hungover your liver has worked overtime it has used up a lot of glycogen which is why we tend to crave carb and fat loaded foods the next day. This isn’t ideal as again, these foods are high in calories and therefore can put you into calorie surplus making it very difficult to lose weight.
5- Alcohol disturbs natural sleeping patterns.
A nightcap before bed may sound like a ticket to a good night’s rest but you may want to reconsider. Firstly if you re-look at the above points, in no way is your body “relaxed” by alcohol. If anything it is a stress on your body.
Research suggests that alcohol can lead to increased periods of wakefulness during sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation, whether from lack of sleep or impaired sleep, can lead to a plethora of health problems. A great book to read about these is “Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker” life changing!! As well as the many health issues surrounding sleep deprivation, studies have also suggested it causes an imbalance in hormones related to hunger, satiety and energy storage.
So..... quite a lot on alcohol! I’m not saying never drink, just be aware that it affects us in many ways! If you’re serious about losing excess body fat, these are all things to consider.
My client has reduced the nights she now has wine to 1-2. This is realistic, for now. My aim is to get her to reduce further as time goes on. I would never say give up completely; that is a decision she needs to make for herself. Consequently my client now has a tonne of extra energy and is smashing her fitness goals weekly! Proud!!
Personally I stated in January I was giving up alcohol for good. However, since then I have drank a few times. I am just highly, highly (annoyingly) aware of the effects on my body and hope to help others understand as well.
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Scales are ok as one measurement of success but only one of many. People who know me well know I have a thing with scales.
Before I knew much about them (at all!) I was a chronic ‘weigher’ every single day. I would jump on before every shower in the morning. I based that little number on the scale on how well I was doing in fitness and frankly I am ashamed to admit as well on my general health. I am happy to admit though that I knew nothing back then about scales, what they were measuring and how the number on that scale had absolutely NOTHING to do with my health and my level of fitness!
My memories 15 plus years ago would suggest that people in general knew very little about the correlation of ‘weight’, health and fitness…. I could be wrong about this but I am talking from my own experience and point of view- maybe you could comment below and let me know whether it was the same for you or not. Here are a couple of memories I have:
We were a generation (it seemed) obsessed with scales. I hope so much that we have moved on even if just a little as I am certain the obsession with scales has had a really negative effect on people and developed bad relationships with food. Look at the articles below.... none are helping anyones relationship with food or educating them in nutrition whatsoever.
Look at the pictures below....
Article 1 - 'How I lost 10lb in 10 days!'
It is completely unrealistic and horrendous for your health to lose 10lb in a week. You would have had to have severe water retention to lose that in the first place or just completely starve for a week. Not good.
Article 2 - Comparing celeb weights.
This article stated, 'Don't compare yourself to celebs'. Actually, by posting pictures of them and their weight, readers will AUTOMATICALLY compare! It is natural! There really is no point to this article! The 'weights' are made up anyway!
Article 3 - 'Lose 5lb in 7 days just by getting enough of this weight loss vitamin'
this kind of rubbish can be saved for another blog. *face plant emoji !!!
I know we haven’t fully moved on and scales DO have their place at times. I still have friends, colleagues and clients who still will state happily ‘I lost 3kg this week!’ after deciding to increase exercise levels and cut down on calories. The next week they may have gained 1kg and it seems like they’ve lost all hope with their healthier lifestyle. ‘It’s not working, I may as well not bother’ are words I have heard and been so frustrated with.
So, if you are a ‘weigher’ and you feel that sudden dread before stepping on a scale, if you feel down if the number on the scale has gone up, if you weigh yourself more than once every few weeks, here are things to bear in mind and I hope you can take away something from this blog:
1. They measure your gravitational pull to the earth and not how healthy you are. You can weigh 9 stone but be incredibly unfit, unhealthy, have a high body fat % etc Scales weigh everything included in your gravitational pull – bones, water, muscle, organs, food you ate recently and wastage…!
2. When you initially lose weight on a health and fitness regime after overeating and not exercising for a long time, the initial “weight” loss can be really high. That’s great, expected and never anything to frown upon. The one thing you need to bear in mind is this “weight” can be a huge amount of water retention that the body would have been holding on to. You just need to not expect this much weight loss every week from there on in. You may at times gain ‘weight’ on the scales… there is nothing wrong with that!
3. Scales don’t measure how great you feel although sometimes seeing a number drop can instantly give you a buzz. The only thing is, sometimes that number won’t drop or will even go up. If you weigh yourself every week this could happen so it should just be expected. As I said before I used to be a chronic “weigher”, I have experienced this!
4. When scales don’t go down there are a number of reasons why and it isn’t because you’re over-eating. If you’ve been sticking to a varied nutritionally beneficial diet, balanced with exercise and lots of water, scales still may not drop. That could be because you’re developing muscle tissue. 1lb of muscle and 1lb of fat look very different in terms of space they take up. 1lb of fat takes up a lot more space than 1lb of muscle in your body. Therefore, taking pictures in this case is a MUCH better method of measuring success.
When should we be using scales?
Doctors use scales to get your BMI measurement. Whilst I also don’t agree with ‘BMI’ measuring, it has got it’s place in some circumstances. (Again, my opinion and happy to discuss in the comments!)
Male, 30, 5’10. 100kg/220lb Rugby Player.
High amount of muscular strength and muscular endurance. He runs around in games twice a week, goes to the gym 4 times a week, goes running once a week. Classed as obese according to BMI calculations.
Male, 30, 5’10, 100kg/220lb. receptionist.
Never goes to the gym. Gets 3000 steps a day on average. Classed as obese according to BMI calculations.
This is the reason I am not a fan. However, BMI here works for client B, they clearly do need a small intervention into their lifestyle. Client A however will know that a huge percentage of their body weight is in fact muscle and they don’t actually need to worry about changing their lifestyle.
These are extreme case comparisons but I hope it enables at least one person to understand that sclales, BMI etc are not completely accurate in predicting how healthy or unhealthy each individual is.
I’m not saying ditch the scales entirely (although I would love you to!) it’s just being aware of them, understanding what they are weighing.
The best advice I can give is weigh yourself just as a side note. For example if you are female and you started the year as a size 22 and you are now a size 16 you don’t need scales to know you’ve lost excess body fat. You probably feel amazing. The scales may not show much difference but you know what a massive positive difference you have make on your health and your life.
Just keep taking pictures, going on how your clothes feel and noticing how GREAT you feel. REMEMBER if you’re losing inches and not losing weight- that is a fantastic thing! ENJOY the process!
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PT, Teacher and Mum. Currently living in South East Asia. Thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do.