Cow on a Mission – my new book on how to

Posted: 07/09/2013 by Ben Drury in General

Cow on a Mission – my new book on how to build a business that’s not about making money! (Free Chapter) http://ow.ly/oEo1s

Advertisements

Time to HIIT the fat

Posted: 03/03/2013 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

If you want to reduce your body fat, but don’t like pounding the streets or spending hours in the gym, then HIIT training may be for you.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been around since the Roman times (well, maybe not quite), and used primarily with elite athletes, but this form of training has recently been creeping in to the fitness regimes of many regular gym bunnies, due to the incredible results documented in many research articles, one of which is effective fat burning.

The appeal of HIIT is down to not only fast results, but the fact that you don’t need specialist equipment, a gym membership, a lot of time, or large amounts of space. If desired, HIIT can be done in your front room for 20 minutes a few times a week.

The magic of HIIT involves repeatedly alternating between periods of very intense exercise, to low levels of exercise intensity. An example of these workout levels would be sprinting for 30 seconds, then walking for 60 seconds  (but don’t forget you have to keep repeating this – it’s not that magic!).

If HIIT is a new term for you, you may be wondering why all the cardio gym equipment screams ‘fat burning zone’ at you.  Well, first of all, let’s just clarify that both HIIT and steady state cardio burn fat – it’s not that the shiny graphs on your treadmill are now wrong. The ‘fat burning zone’ (i.e. around 65% of your maximum heart rate) was once thought to be the superior training method for burning fat, because at this level your body burns relatively more fat to fuel your body during the workout, compared to when doing high intensity exercise. But, and it’s a big but (no pun intended) for body fat reduction results, we need to be looking at the total fat burned, and HIIT wins hands down, despite a lower fat/glycogen ratio.

A contributing factor to this is the added bonus of ‘afterburn’ that HIIT provides. This means an increase in your metabolic rate, for around 24 hours after your workout, so your body will continue to burn fat even after your workout is completed. So, if working out for shorter amounts of time to get better results wasn’t good enough, you now have the extra feel good factor in knowing that you’ll be continuing to burn fat post-workout, even at rest. Something which you don’t get from those gentle jogs.

You may be giddy with excitement that you can now spend half the time working out, while getting twice the results, however there must be a word of warning before you ditch the long power walks.

HIIT training, as the name suggests, is very intense. It is not for everyone. Of course beginners and intermediates can perform HIIT workouts at slightly lower intensities, but to properly execute HIIT drills, it requires you to push to a very intense level to reap the benefits. The stresses put on the body may not be appropriate for your fitness level or medical state. To maximise HIIT you also must ensure that your body is receiving the correct level and type of fuel to sustain, maximise, recover and benefit from optimum HIIT workouts, so if you’re constantly following a very low calorie diet or you avoid carbs like the plague, then it may not be for you.

Fat reduction is a goal for a majority of people – and personally I think it is brilliant that as a society we are starting to take individual steps towards combatting the obesity problem and improve our own health and well-being – however, despite the noted benefits of HIIT, it’s worth bearing in mind that you may reap more realistic benefits for fat reduction, through adapting your nutrition and building muscle along with some steady state cardio. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

So the key message has to be, especially for any beginner, if you want to improve your health and fitness in general, don’t get side-tracked by picking apart numerous training methods and following the latest trends – even if that is the superior magic of HIIT – just eat well and move more.

Don’t over-complicate things. Keep it ‘simples’.

The super salad that packs a punch

Posted: 17/02/2013 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

After our recent recipe night on Six Weeks to Super Health Bootcamp, quite a few of you have been asking for the details of the super salad that Jane prepared.

 super salad

Not only does it look fantastic, it is packed full of healthy ingredients and nutrients for optimum health. The key to this salad, that sets it apart from your normal boring ‘rabbit food’ salad, is that it has a high protein content due to my favourite super-food, quinoa. Now, you all know how I harp on about protein with every meal and the benefits that come with it, especially for muscle growth and fat reduction, so this salad is actually perfect as a whole meal, not just as a side to a main dish.

The extra benefit is that you can make up a batch to last you a few days and stick it in the fridge – perfect for saving time in our busy lifestyles, and will help you to stop reaching for those ready meals! A top tip is just don’t put the olive oil on when making it, so it doesn’t go soggy in the fridge, and instead just add it to your individual portions as and when needed.

There’s no real method to preparing this, just bung it all in! To make it even quicker (and tastier), buy a pre-cooked packet of quinoa. Try one with added pulses and herbs for extra taste and protein!

Ingredients
1 cup of cooked quinoa   (or use a ready cooked packet containing pulses and herbs!)
Handful mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds   (slightly roasted is tasty)
Small handful of small square  blocks of feta cheese
½ red onion, finely chopped
Small carrot, grated
Stick of celery, chopped
Handful of sunblush tomatoes
½ chilli, finely chopped
½ red pepper cut into strips/chunks
Large handful of pomegranate seeds (or an avocado)
Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
½ lemon squeezed over the top
Drizzle of olive oil and dusting of ground black pepper to taste

Give it a go!
Enjoy your super healthy, super filling, super salad!
Nikki Jarvis

Bounce Back with Baby Steps

Posted: 07/02/2013 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

Congratulations! You have made it through the amazing process of pregnancy and childbirth. Now that you’re getting used to motherhood (i.e. walking around like a zombie on a different planet), you may be starting to think about exercising again.

Although your mind may be keen to get going, to shed those pounds and tone those muscles as quickly as possible, your body has other ideas. It is really important that you get back into exercising gently and ensure you do the correct exercises for your post natal level.

Your body has gone through a tremendous amount of effort and has changed in more ways than one. Some of these changes will return gradually, but others may be permanent and therefore your body needs time to adjust and learn how to function in this new state.  You won’t even be aware of all these changes, which is why it is important to take it slowly.

First of all it is important to understand that you will continue to have the relaxin hormone in your system for some time after the birth, especially if you choose to breastfeed, so you should avoid jerky movements and quick changes of direction, or exercises involving heavy weights, as this can damage the ligaments in your joints due to them being softer. This is also true for stretching, so postnatal stretches after any exercise, should only be held for approximately 10 seconds, so not to over-stretch. So bear this in mind, even if you’re just out for a walk or going about your daily routine. Look after your joints and back.

Before embarking on any exercise after having a baby, you must check with your doctor that it is safe for you to do so, which is usually done at your ‘6-week check-up’. Once you’re ready to go, you can start with gentle walking with your pushchair and enjoy the great outdoors. Regardless of the weather, get out there, and enjoy the freedom and freshness that it brings with it. Many research studies highlight the extra benefits of being outdoors, such as lifting your mood and reducing postnatal depression. Your baby will also benefit from the fresh air and you can enjoy watching them as they discover a multitude of new things for the first time, like a tree or a bird, which we often take for granted.

For women who have undergone a Caesarian Section, it is important to remember, that although this procedure is common, it is major abdominal surgery. It is vital that you are given the go ahead from your doctor to start exercising, to ensure full medical recovery has taken place. Generally though, if you have had no complications, you can start walking as soon as you feel ready and progress to a light exercise routine six weeks post birth. Walking increases blood flow which can actually promote faster healing of the surgical tissues.

Slowly build it up by introducing some gentle muscle toning work. You may want to concentrate on general toning exercises for the legs and arms, such as squats and bicep curls, as you will be carrying a heavy car seat around, never mind with the baby in it! Once your baby is a few months old and you feel ready, you can start doing exercises of a higher intensity, like jogging….but of course this is where the benefits of the daily pelvic floor exercises come into play!

It is vital to highlight though, that pregnancy can cause great muscle imbalance throughout the body, so it is extremely important that you aren’t performing exercises that will actually reinforce this imbalance, rather than correct it. For example, a new mum will likely have a kyphotic posture, meaning you’ll feel like the hunchback of Notre Dame! Therefore, you do not want to be working on your push ups every day, or repeatedly performing exercises that cause an inward rotation of the shoulder joints. (For examples of specific postnatal exercise techniques that can help correct this muscular imbalance, see the Postnatal Exercise Tips article).

So, let’s address the stomach area then, because let’s be fair, that’s what most new mothers want to concentrate on. You may be surprised to learn that hundreds of sit-ups is not what you need to be doing (you may also be relieved to hear that). In fact, crunches may do you much more harm than good. Before starting any stomach work, it is important that you have what is called, a ‘diastasis recti’ check done by a trained professional. This looks for separation of the abdominal muscles, which can cause long term problems if not corrected. Performing sit ups and oblique work (the sides of your waist) can make the separation worse, so it’s important you know your abdominal status. More worryingly, it can contribute to a ‘pouchy’ area at the bottom of your stomach that you will not be able to tone up – and who wants that frankly!

Regardless of your postpartum status, the primary focus of starting any exercise regime after having a baby should be the core muscles. These deep stomach muscles support the spine and provide us with great abdominal strength (and a flat stomach!). So think of it as working from the inside out. By the way, this is true for everyone. Baby or no baby. Male or female. A strong core is vital for stability, posture, daily tasks and effective exercise performance. Don’t neglect it.

Your body has taken a long journey to grow and birth your baby. Appreciate what it has done and give it the time and nurture it needs to regain strength and stability. Don’t rush it….practice that patience you’ve had to learn from being a mother. And remember, that although you may be desperate to bounce back to that pre-pregnancy shape, you have to take baby steps.

 

Stuffed Peppers

Posted: 16/01/2013 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

I LOVE stuffed peppers. They are super easy to make and really healthy. I use quinoa instead of rice to reduce my carbohydrate intake and boost my protein. Obviously you can alter the recipe to suit your own tastes, but here’s what I do:

Ingredients

peppers-assorted2 medium peppers – choice of colour is up to you!
1 cup of quinoa
2 pinches of grated cheese (or blocks of feta)
handful of cherry tomatoes
spinach and rocket leaves
grated carrot (or handful of baton carrots)
handful of sweetcorn
extra virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice (and zest if possible)
handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds
mixed herbs

1 – Cut the tops off the peppers, rinse and place on a baking tray in the oven for about 10 minutes until softening.

2 – Add the cup of quinoa to two cups of boiling water and simmer on the hob for about 10 minutes until soft (top tip – look for the spirals unravelling). Leave to stand to soak up any remaining water and fluff with fork. Add herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

3 – Heat the sunflower and pumpkin seeds until slightly toasted (or just use straight from the packet).

4 – Prepare side salad of spinach and rocket leaves, with cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn and grated carrot.

5 – Place cooked peppers on the plate and fill them with the quinoa, herb and lemon juice mixture and sprinkle the cheese on top.

6 – Sprinkle the peppers and salad with the toasted (or untoasted) sunflower and pumpkin seeds and add a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

This is also good to have as a smaller portion with some white fish.

Ditch the Fitness Resolutions

Posted: 02/01/2013 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

I bet you’ve lost count of how many New Year’s resolutions you’ve broken. And I bet you’ve broken one already this year. That’s why I’m telling you not to make any.

If you want to make positive changes to your health and fitness, then don’t make resolutions this January. Ditch them. The large majority of people do not stick to them and inevitably end up feeling discouraged and uninspired due to the lack of commitment and success.

Generally speaking, it is because New Year resolutions are often dreams instead of realistic goals. Somehow, we think that we can achieve in a month what we’ve never been able to achieve throughout the course of the whole previous year. Of course we’re going to fail!

So this year, don’t promise yourself unreachable resolutions, or dreams, and instead, sit down and do some solid goal setting. This will make all the difference and you will have a much better chance of actually reaching those ‘dreams’.

Goal setting is different to resolutions because they are SMART. It is the difference between saying ‘I’m going to get fit and lose weight’, to setting a SMART goal of ‘losing 3 Kg by Easter’. I strongly recommend that you write your goals down. You may know what you want to achieve, but getting them out of your head and on to paper can really clarify things and is the first step to commitment. Once you’ve written them down, then put them somewhere you can see them so it can motivate you on a daily basis.

It’s a good idea to set a range of goals, broken down in to time slots, for example, what you want to achieve in the next month, by three months, six months and by this time next year.  This makes it much more realistic and not so overwhelming!

When setting goals, no matter what size, and no matter how many, make sure they include the following, to ensure a greater chance of success:

S – Specific: Be very clear and detailed about what you want to achieve. Don’t be general.

M – Measurable: Put a value on it. How will you know if you’ve achieved your goal if you can’t measure it?

A – Attainable: Ensure your goal is something that you can actually achieve, and isn’t just a dream. Make sure you haven’t set the bar too high. I’m all for reaching for the stars, but just ensure you aren’t setting yourself up for a fall.

R – Realistic: Ask yourself if achieving your goal is realistic. Will it be possible to achieve your goal with the commitment needed, resources available and desire to do it?

T – Time-bound: Put a time on each goal for when you want to achieve it by. This will not only keep you on track but will help immensely if you break up big goals in to many smaller ones with a shorter time frame, as it will help avoid that overwhelming feeling of a large goal being unreachable!

It can also help if you share your goals with somebody as this will help keep you on track. Make it public. Tell your family, post it on Facebook and ask your colleagues to nag you about it. If people around you are constantly talking to you about your goals, it will help keep them in the front of your mind.

But the most important thing is, once you’ve set your goals then get going. Stop the ‘planning’ and start the ‘doing’, because planning will never get you to the finish line.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Christmas Wish List

Posted: 18/11/2012 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

With the leaves starting to fall and a nip in the air, our attentions are shifting towards the ‘C’ word. No, not chocolate – Christmas.

Does your letter to Santa usually include a plea for gifts such as clothing, shoes, jewellery, a flat screen TV and a holiday in the Caribbean….to only end up with socks and smellies again! Well, how about creating a different kind of Christmas wish list this year?

Avoid getting seven pairs of slippers by dropping some not-so-subtle hints to your friends and family about what you really want this year – the tools to create a healthier you!

Here are some suggestions for the elves:

Fitness equipment
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean a treadmill and I certainly don’t mean whatever the latest ‘lose 20 stone in a day’ celebrity endorsed gadget is. But how about a stability ball to help improve your overall posture and help tone and reduce your stomach size. They are cheap and easy to store by deflating them. Alternatively use them as a chair, ensuring of course you maintain the correct posture. Keep it in the corner of the living room or tuck it under your desk at work to use for ten minutes at a time throughout the day. It all adds up and you’ll be seeing results in no time!

Clothing
Always wanted to invest in a quality pair of training shoes, but never wanted to part with your wonga? Then Christmas is the perfect opportunity. You will be more likely to stick with your fitness regime if you know an investment has been made in a quality pair of shoes. And do you put off going outside when it’s dark, wet and windy? Then ask your friends and family for some appropriate outdoor fitness wear. A lightweight waterproof jacket and warm but breathable hat and gloves will take away the excuse, so you can get out for a run or walk the dog more.

Vouchers
Not everyone likes to receive or buy vouchers for Christmas, but it can be a great way to ensure you have control over what your loved ones actually get you. Take control to buy your own exercise garments and accessories. After all, who really wants their Uncle John choosing their sports bra for them, or risk Grandma Jean buying you green lycra shorts?

Sports Bottles and Food Containers
It’s a bit of a weird one, but some quality BPA-free water bottles (or aluminium ones), and food containers can make great stocking fillers. Get yourself prepared for your new exercise regime and all the salads and cooked chicken you’ll be taking to work with you in the New Year.

Magazine subscription
Getting a yearly subscription to a health and fitness magazine is a great gift that is both practical and useful. It’ll help keep you on track and focussed on your health and fitness the whole year round. It won’t be long until your lunging towards the door to collect your next instalment from the postman.

Chocolate

Yes you read that right. I said chocolate. Now let’s be realistic, we’re most probably going to eat at least some chocolate over the festive period, if not the equivalent of our own body weight. However, consider asking for quality chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. Because it is so rich you need less of it to satisfy that craving (trust me, you do). It is also packed full of antioxidants so it is much healthier for you too.

Time
The gift of time is so precious. We all live busy lives and often find using ‘lack of time’ as one of our main excuses for not working out. So, why not be controversial and ask your family for some ‘you’ time. For example, let their present to you this year be an agreement to look after the kids for an hour a week so you can workout on your own.

So why not break tradition and put the wheels in motion to achieve a fitter and healthier you over the next 12 months – after all, haven’t you been promising yourself this for the last 12 months?

Happy shopping!

Blame it on the body

Posted: 23/10/2012 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

Do your friends have great success on the latest fad diet but you remain the same? Do you find it hard to shift that fat around your thighs or to bulk up your skinny arms?

Well, to some extent, you can blame it on your body.

Before starting to work towards fat reduction or muscle gain, it can be helpful to learn about your somatotype, that is, your body type. There are three body types, each with different characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your body type can help you plan your nutrition and fitness regime to help you reach your goals and maximise your time and results.

Ectomorphs – skinny, long/willowy limbs
These people appear skinny with long limbs, small joints, chest and buttocks, with a naturally low level of body fat. They often seem able to eat what they like when they like and don’t put on weight due to an efficient metabolism. They can also struggle to build muscle, so gaining weight can sometimes be an issue. They are often good at long distance running compared to strength based activities. Mo Farah and Naomi Campbell would be classed as ectomorphs.

Mesomorphs – muscular, athletic build
These people are the athletic looking ones, who are naturally lean with more muscle mass than ectomorphs and with generally broader shoulders. They have an all-round level of fitness and are sometimes perceived as ‘naturally gifted’ at all sports. They respond quickly to exercise and can gain muscle mass easily and reduce fat with not great effort. Tommy Bowe and Jessica Ennis are examples of mesomorphs.

Endomorphs – heavier build, fat retainers
These people have a higher level of body fat than the other two types (often gathering more on the lower stomach, buttocks, hips and legs) and generally have a bigger structure, with shorter limbs made up from medium-large joints (‘big boned’). They have to work harder to reduce body fat, which is lost at a slower rate than mesomorphs, due to a slower metabolic rate, and they can find it hard to keep any lost fat off. They are generally better at short sharp bursts of exercise and find strength work easier than cardio, with the ability to build muscle compared to ectomorphs. Examples include Jack Black and Kate Winslet.

It is important to note however, that we don’t often fit perfectly into one of these three categories, but rather, have a mixture of qualities. Eg ecto-mesophorphs.

Body type is a combination of your bone structure, bone density and musculature. These factors are genetically pre-determined, so no amount of exercise can change your skeletal structure or the length of your legs! Your fitness goals have to be achievable remember, so wishing you looked like Kate Moss when you have a figure like Beyonce, or wanting a body like The Rock when your physique is more like Chris Rock, is just going to end in disappointment – or ill health! So you have to find the ability to accept what you have been dealt and work to make your body the best it can be.

However, that also means not using the ‘blame it on the body’ excuse to eat junk food every day while shrugging it off that you’re an endomorph to your ectomorph friend. Everyone, no matter what body type, can improve their physique and can therefore either become and remain unhealthy or work hard to stay lean and fit.

So if you are unhappy with your body type, the bad news is that you’re stuck with it (you can thank mum and dad for that), but the good news is, that understanding which type you are, is your first step towards transforming it.

No medals for fitness

Posted: 23/10/2012 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

A study carried out by the World Cancer Research Fund reveals that women in Northern Ireland are the most active in the UK. Really?

(Click here to watch the UTV video that accompanies the blog)

I must admit I was very shocked, but pleasantly surprised to hear this. And then I looked at the stats.

Yes, it is true according to this study, that a higher percentage of women in Northern Ireland do the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day, compared to other UK regions, however it’s definitely not worthy of a gold medal.

There is only a few percentage difference, so it’s not like we’re zooming ahead, reaping the health benefits of being super fit and active! With just 35% of females in NI hitting that daily exercise target, it means that around two thirds of women here aren’t!

So it’s probably not a shock to hear that 59% of adults in our region are overweight or obese. Nutrition obviously plays a role in this, which can be a very complex and difficult subject for people to learn about and apply in to their lifestyles.

Yes we all know the obvious things such as not eating chocolate bars and chips every day, but it goes deeper than that. Just count how many ‘diets’ you’ve been on and it will probably highlight this.

But the other tool to beating obesity is physical activity, and I think this can be more readily achieved. We don’t need specialist equipment, we don’t need loads of time, we don’t need to receive complex education, we don’t even need someone to teach us how!

We are physically active every day – we just need to do more of it, and more often. Walking, using the stairs, parking at the far end of the car park, cycling, hoovering vigorously until you’re out of breath, having your meetings in work standing up (yes I have taught this in companies and it works!) and playing with your children instead of watching them have fun, all adds up to minutes of exercise.

So we don’t need to enrol in the local gym classes or play a sport – we just need to get our bodies moving! The 30 minutes a day doesn’t have to be in one chunk either. We can break it up in to three 10 minute slots. And for women especially, physical activity can be a great social activity too.

What a great excuse to get out of the house, meet up with a few friends for a walk in the great outdoor spaces we have and leave the bedtime routine and dishes for someone else!

Another positive for us, compared to the rest of the UK, is that our childhood obesity level is the lowest at 27% for children aged 2-15. But again, that means over a quarter of our youth are suffering effects of obesity from a young age and possibly developing lifestyle habits that will carry through into adulthood.

Although we have the lowest rate, it doesn’t mean that all of our children are healthy. We therefore need to ensure that physical activity starts at a young age, and what better way is there, than for women to be fantastic active role models for their children?

So while it’s great that NI is leading the way for active women, we must remember that the very large majority of us aren’t as active as we’re recommended to be.

Let’s not rest on our laurels, there is plenty more activity to be done!

So come on ladies (and men of course), take a look at your daily exercise level, and try to plan in a few more social walks, games of stick in the mud and stair runs each day.

Inactivity is killing us

Posted: 23/10/2012 by tribalfitnessbootcamps in General

A recent report states that around one third of adults are not doing enough physical activity which is leading to 5.3 million deaths a year.

More worryingly it is estimated that two thirds of the UK population are inadequately active. Why is this happening?

I know I promised this blog to be about maintaining motivation, but to be honest, this topical news story is something I’m very passionate about and I’ve been engaged in some great conversations with clients, family and friends about it. So I thought I’d share my views, from a personal perspective and a professional one.

So, (*takes a large deep breath*) where do I begin? Because honestly, I could talk about this all day, every day.

Physical activity, just like nutrition and indeed having an overall healthy lifestyle, is a subject of very complex issues and varying factors. But we all know by now that being physically active improves our health. It can improve our physical health and it can improve our mental health. We know this. So for me, this report should not come as a shock to people. We’ve been told this stuff for years! However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be told it again and again. I think it’s important to keep getting the message across and especially comparing the devastating effects alongside the risks of smoking, which are well known and accepted in our society. And there, I think, lies the difference. Acceptance.

We know that smoking is bad for our health. We know it can lead to many ailments, a lower quality of life and to death. It is somewhat socially acceptable to frown upon smoking and nag your friends and family to quit because it’s bad for them. But we aren’t at the level yet of doing the same with physical activity. Why? Why don’t we nag at our friends because they drove in to work today instead of cycling or walking? Why don’t we tell our kids they have to be physically active just like we tell them not to smoke? Why don’t we decide to take the stairs every time, instead of waiting 10 minutes for the lift to come back up? Why don’t we just focus and make physical activity a priority in our lives each and every day?

Now, I know you’re probably screaming at the screen by now, shouting out all the reasons why you don’t exercise. I get it. We’ve all been there. And don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be people who have medical conditions or some other life situation that makes physical activity very difficult. But for the large majority of people, are their reasons for not being active genuine barriers or are they excuses? I’m not talking about pumping iron in the gym for two hours every day. I’m talking about just getting your body moving. Getting active! So let’s look at the top five barriers.

I have no time
Probably the most common ‘barrier’ I find with clients nowadays. Our lives are very busy and packed to the brim, so I understand where this statement comes from. But, I’m going to go out on a limb here and be brave and say (in the nicest possible way) – rubbish! We all have time. What I find most people actually mean, is that they don’t value physical activity as a priority in their lives so they don’t fit it in. If you manage to sit down and watch a 30 minute programme on the television every night, then you have time to exercise. You just decide to choose the television.

I don’t have the energy
This can be a downward spiral because waiting until you have enough energy can actually make you worse. The goals here are usually unrealistic and there is a vision of going from nothing to training in the gym five times a week. Starting to do something, no matter how small, will actually start increasing your energy. So get the support of a friend or give yourself a wee kick up the bum to overcome this barrier initially. Perhaps the previous Motivation blog may help!

It’s too expensive
Although many people love the gym and fitness classes, they do cost money. But we all know that going for a walk costs nothing. Now you may prefer to go to a paid activity, it might be something you want to take part in for social reasons too, but for the purpose of health benefits, physical activity doesn’t need to cost a penny!

I have three kids
This is probably the most important ‘barrier’ for me. This doesn’t need to be a separate event. Do physical activity with your kids! Ok, I know we all like some ‘me’ time away from the kids but getting kids active now is so important for our society never mind their individual health. They are being brought up in a world surrounded by sedentary pasttimes and technology, something our adult generations didn’t really have. General active play time in and out of school has been drastically reduced. If we aren’t active role models for children, then their health will surely suffer long before it needs to. We have to get out with the kids!

I will never be skinny and toned
Simply put, you don’t have to be. This barrier is a mental one, based on perceptions. Although becoming physically active is heavily weighted on personal responsibility, I feel major industries like the media and modelling, need to do even more to maintain consistent and realistic healthy messages about physical activity. Especially towards children. And I will explain why.

Skinny does not equal healthy. A thin person can have a high percentage of visceral fat (internal) but very little subcutaneous fat (under the skin), but to society they appear healthy. Wrong.

Likewise, having a bit of a spare tyre does not make you very unhealthy. But obviously you don’t want to be carrying a couple of truck tyres around your waist!

You may have noticed that I’ve never mentioned skinny, or thin, or weight loss. As a society, we have to adopt an understanding, and quickly, that not everyone will be the same. I’m glad to say I think we’re moving in the right direction on this, but still more needs to be done. Exercise comes with the vision of a thin, toned body. But we have to accept that some people will naturally be bigger, broader and yes I’m going to say it, fatter than other people! It’s nature.

So taking up regular physical activity should not have the end goal of being that skinny toned person we have come to imagine. Regular physical activity is for health reasons. It is not for the sole purpose of looking skinny and muscular. We should stop being so obsessed with the scales and start simply looking and listening to our bodies. We should take regular physical activity to be in the best shape we can, for ourselves, whatever shape and size that may naturally be.

So perhaps we need to shift our focus away from the barriers to participation for regular physical activity and start thinking, talking and recommending the benefits to our family and friends. Physical activity will improve your health (internal as well as external), help you strengthen your muscles (so you can carry out daily tasks easier and increase your metabolism), improve your cardiovascular fitness (so you can play with the kids more and strengthen your heart) lengthen your life span, and yes, it will also help you achieve that socially aesthetically pleasing figure!

But we mustn’t forget other major benefits, including mental health improvements, bonding with your children, exploring nature and simply enjoying time with your friends. So after I slam the door, put my keys down and I automatically find myself reaching out for the ‘on’ button of the TV to watch Paul Clark, I often think of these points and sometimes just back away (sorry Paul), walk to the back door and head out in to the garden instead. And I never regret it. Personally, and professionally, I think everyone should do this more often. Try going even a week without TV! It may just change your life.

We won’t get all the answers today, and knowing that I can talk the hind legs off a donkey on this subject, (and probably will continue to do so on Facebook now that there’s a fire in my belly), I’m not going to try to and I’ll leave you with my final thought.

There is no one size fits all, no one solution, no one easy way for everyone to adopt regular physical activity – we just have to find what is right for us – and then do it!

Are you going to?