​​ gary.3fpt@yahoo.co.uk
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I keep hearing clients talking about how much coffee they drink and how they don't wake up, or can't start their day, unless they have a few cups of coffee. Coffee is slightly acidic and can, or does, have a stimulating effect on us because of its caffeine content. Its really this caffeine that gives coffee its kick

So, the big question is how much coffee or caffeine is safe?
The amount of caffeine present in coffees sold on the high street means our daily caffeine intake may be a lot higher than we think.
The caffeine content of a cup of coffee depends on how big the cup or mug is, how finely the coffee is ground, how dark the roast, the brewing method used, how much coffee is used to make the drink and the type of coffee bean used. The list goes on .......

A cup of instant coffee will be different from a mug of brewed coffee, a home-made cappuccino different from a large latte bought in a coffee shop. Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, some soft drinks, and certain medicines. Most people are affected by caffeine in different ways with some people being more sensitive to its properties than others and therefore may have to adjust their intake as a result.

  • 1 mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • 1 mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • 1 mug of tea: 75mg
  • 1 can of cola: 40mg
  • 1 can of 'energy' drink: up to 80mg
  • 1 x 50g bar of plain chocolate: up to 50mg
  • 1 x 50g bar of milk chocolate: up to 25mg
Source: Department of Health

We are all different shapes and sizes, with different tolerances and this is why some people react strongly to caffeine, some don't.
It's a question of knowing your own limit and your own body.

I have read and re-read several studies with reference to how much coffee is safe to drink. The general advice is that four or five cups of coffee a day is safe (that's around 400mg of caffeine). The Food Standards Agency says there is no limit set for healthy individuals and recommend a balance of drinks and a sensible, moderate approach to coffee-drinking.

Good idea, makes sense to me.
So, let's drink coffee in moderation, just like any other food or drink, but (please !) stop using it as a form of stimulant or meal replacement.

There seems to be a countless and totally endless number of adverts on the internet and in magazines about the best way to get a flatter stomach........... and Fast !!! Most of them make quite ludicrous statements and I’d like to share with you why I think so.

First of all, It’s IMPOSSIBLE to spot reduce fat. That's a fact....

Abdominal Exercises are NOT the answer

Emphasizing too much on stomach toning exercises will actually hinder you from getting a flat stomach. To effectively reduce belly fat, you need to lose body fat from ALL over the body. The best, and proven, way to do this is by concentrating on complete body workout routines. In this way, you will see full body weight loss whilst building total body strength that will enable you to burn calories more efficiently and get the desired results from belly specific exercises in the fullness of time. Belly exercises should be the LAST exercises that you perform to finally hone your stomach.

High intensity training and strength training combined with a healthy eating plan is the most effective way to give you a flatter stomach.
You can, and should, do many exercises that increase your spinal strength and stability.

Here are just a few from my list of some of the best exercises to help make your belly flatter.
  • Push-ups - Standard push-ups are the best to start with and target your entire body. Once you acquire enough strength, you can vary the them. Inclined push-ups, diamond push-ups, one-handed push-ups are the various intense push-ups you could try to get a flat belly.
  • Squats - Squats are one of the best exercises to target your lower body. You will gain more strength and it will give you a good shape to your belly, butt, and thighs plus it increases your spinal strength. Adding weights will make the reps more intense.
  • Lunges - Lunges are also good for targeting your lower body. You can try forward, backward and side lunges and add weights for better results.
You should do these exercises to help towards getting a flat belly. If you have the patience and commitment to follow these exercises regularly, you will succeed.

“Be more than you think you can be”.

Muscle is denser than fat - that's a fact!
​So, lifting weights makes you look slimmer, because lifting weights builds muscle.
Lifting weights also burns calories and boosts your metabolism. So if you start lifting you’ll build muscle, lose fat and look slimmer at the same weight – without eating less, in fact you may even eat more!
Meanwhile most people try to lose fat by eating less, without doing any exercise. But few people can stick to low calorie diets for any length of time. Most get hungry, crack and end-up fatter than before. The few who can stick to these diets burn muscle from starvation. They end up being skinny-fat, weak and unattractive.
Other people try to lose fat through exercise. They’re the “cardio-bunnies” in your gym. Cardio six times a week, then a McDo post-workout. They don’t realize half an hour cardio only burns about 400 calories, the equivalent of a Big Mac. Hit McDo post-workout and you just made that half hour of cardio a total waste of time. Now cardio is great for speeding up fat loss because it increases how many calories you burn. But unless you’re training six hours a day like Michael Phelps, you can’t out-train a bad diet – you have to eat right.
Lifting weights should always have PRIORITY over cardio for fat loss. Remember,
  1. Lifting weights burns calories. Your body burns energy to lift weights. The heavier the weights, the higher the intensity and the more calories you burn. especially if you do full body exercises like Squats. This is why lifters can eat more than average people without getting fat.
  2. Lifting weights boosts your metabolism. They call this “afterburn” or EPOC. You burn more calories in the hours after you’ve lifted weights. This helps you lose fat.
  3. Lifting weights builds muscle. Cardio doesn’t. Nor does a low calorie diet. Only lifting weights does – the stronger you get, the more weight you can lift, the more muscular you’ll be.
  4. Lifting weights prevents muscle loss. Low calorie diets and excess cardio will BURN muscle. This leads to the unhealthy and unattractive skinny-fat look. So lifting weights builds muscle and prevents muscle loss from dieting, aging, etc. It makes you healthier and more attractive while losing fat.
Woohoo, an all in one package. But remember you must eat a balanced diet which is healthy and sensible. :-)
I am asked the question, "what is the best exercise for weight loss" on a very regular basis. I usually smile and answer with, "its whatever exercise you like doing".
Reason ? ........There are certain exercises that are good for building specific muscles, just as there are exercises that are good for the heart and then there are those that are just plain hard, but in a nutshell, its all about burning the calories and getting yourself moving. As kids we are constantly running around, never sitting at peace. How often did one of your parents shout at you and tell you to stay beside them? How often were you told in school to stop running in the corridors? We all, yes we all get lazy and slow our pace down as we become older so we basically need to start moving again.
If one exercise was superior in obtaining weight loss, providing everyone could do it, life would be easy for us trainers and of course the people wanting to lose weight.
So remember the real answer to the question is "the best exercise for weight loss for any individual is any exercise that they like doing"
While training clients I am constantly chatting about the exercise they are performing or just more general chat about the weather, eating etc. On two occasions recently, I have trained two clients whom have either, not eaten a breakfast or have had very little eg. a piece of fruit. This was noticeable due to how tired they were.

You have heard it all before about how your breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yes, or yeah yeah, you may say, but it is. You have just been sleeping for several hours so on wakening your body is already needing food. Good food I may add not a piece of fruit or a few cups of coffee.
Breakfast will give you energy, help concentration and medical reports show breakfast will also help fat loss.
There are loads of websites etc. now saying to skip breakfast, burn the calories, don't eat until lunch time and so on.
.........They are just more fads. So guys and girls, be sensible and eat sensible and give your body a chance to work properly.
My rant is over.
This time of the year I constantly hear people saying they suffer from SAD, mmmm, I always think, so what is SAD?
Its proper name is Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The winter months are dull, dark, wet, miserable and because of the lack of light we see, or receive our body clocks are dramatically affected. These are the daily cycles that regulate our moods, sleep, appetite, digestion, and energy. When light enters our eyes it stimulates nerve impulses, if less light enters or there is a fault, the nerve activity is affected and also the functions it controls. Similar to a car running out of fuel.
​A body clock that isn't receiving the right light signals produces more of the hormone melatonin which leaves you feeling tired and sluggish and probably grumpy. When the body clock receives the right light signals it produces more energetic hormones like serotonin. These help you sleep better and feel good during the day. Woohoo.
SAD affects all the countries close to the polar ice cap like the UK where we have long nights and short days and a pretty poor climate. The only cure is to live at least within 30 degrees of the equator, which would be nice but unfortunately not possible for everyone.
Taking control of your lifestyle and diet can make a difference so try the following -
  1. try to find time everyday to get outside
  2. sit near windows when you are inside
  3. eat a well balanced diet
  4. decorate your home in light colours
  5. leave all major projects until summer and plan ahead activities for the winter
  6. try not or don't put yourself under stress
Sort out your diet with these tips -
  1. eat smart carbs for a calming effect eg. fruit, veg, whole grains, oats and beans.
  2. eat protein rich foods to boost alertness eg. beans, lentils, beef, fish, poultry, low fat cheese and milk
  3. include omega 3 fatty acids at least 3 times a week eg. salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds and walnuts
  4. eat foods rich in B vitamins eg. eggs, whole grains, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, beetroot and lentils
So there you have it, plain and simple. Eat a sensible balanced diet, sort out your lifestyle and stop chasing yourself. Take time to enjoy yourself and of course take up a fitness challenge.
Whole grains are part of a healthy, balanced diet, but thanks to all of the hype around gluten-free foods many believe going "g-free" can help shed some extra pounds.

I'm fed up hearing all the noise on this subject .... and listening to the so called experts.
It's worth looking at the facts. It may not be all that it seems - and certainly not worth spending a lot of money on.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and it’s a common protein source and processed food filler. In fact, you’ll find it in many foods, medications, and everyday items — not just your bread and biscuits. Other foods like cereal, soy sauce, whey products, alcoholic beverages, such as beer, and even beauty products, such as lip balms, may also have gluten in them too. There are some people — maybe about 1 in 100 — who suffer from an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease whose small intestines cannot process gluten properly and it causes a serious response in their digestive system. Unless you have celiac disease or are allergic to gluten, going gluten-free will not give you any additional benefit.

Gluten is not harmful to your health and is not making you gain weight. Since so many foods now come in gluten-free versions, it’s easy to think that they are a better alternative, which would be wrong. Gluten is found in many whole-grain foods that have an array of vitamins, minerals, and fibre and are vital to a healthy diet. People who eat three servings of whole grains a day are 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The right mix of healthy carbohydrates, like whole-grain products is the best way to control your blood sugar and avoid diabetes, plus they help to keep you full throughout the day. Whole grains are also the vehicle for many of nature’s disease fighters, like phytochemicals. Without these foods, we’d be sitting ducks for cancer, heart disease, and more. So when you’re cutting out gluten for no real reason, you’re losing all of the nutritional benefits found in foods with gluten.

Gluten-free foods aren’t better for your health. Don’t be fooled, gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean “low calorie” or “healthy.” In fact, gluten-free foods are not only more expensive, but full of extra calories and sugars to make up for taste and texture when alternative products are swapped. They also tend to have less fibre than their gluten-containing counterparts. Unless people are careful, a gluten-free diet can lack essential nutrients since a lot of the gluten-free products tend to be low in B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Another rule of thumb, don’t confuse “gluten free” with “low carbohydrate,” some gluten-free pastas are actually higher in carbohydrates than regular pasta.

Weight loss comes from a balanced, healthy diet — gluten free or not. When you’re trying to lose weight, the key is to make conscious and sensible choices about eating whole, real food and getting produce without additives, remember if it doesn't breath or grow - don't eat it. If you think you need to go gluten-free, see your doctor or a nutritionist to determine the best eating plan for your lifestyle, but in general.

The Bottom Line: If you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t cut out an entire nutrient in your diet, such as gluten. Save money and focus on creating a calorie deficit while eating a variety of nutritious foods and exercising regularly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Winter, with its shorter days and inclement weather, can be a difficult time for keeping to your training programme.
But, with a little forethought and some additional preparation, there is no reason why you need to lose any of that fitness you have built up over the summer months.
So, don't hibernate through the winter, just because its colder. If you can brave the elements, the following pointers can help you move beyond those inital cold weather excuses.

10 Winter Training Tips -
Use base-layer clothing made from fabrics that are designed to wick moisture away from your skin. This will keep you dry and warm for the duration of the workout
Do not overdress. Though this may feel nice and comfortable at the beginning, you will sweat much more than you would otherwise, making your clothes wet. Wet Clothes = Cold Body. Generally speaking, if you feel slightly cool before starting your activity, you have dressed perfectly for the conditions.
Dress to your training plan. Hard workouts will require less clothing than easier workouts. If you are unsure how to dress, bring a shell jacket that can be used for your warm-up and cool-down, but can be easily taken off and stowed for the more difficult part of the workout.
Wear shades. In most cool or cold weather conditions, sport sunglasses will protect eyes from the bright sun reflecting off of the snow and prevent them from watering due to the cold or wind.
Keep it down. The down coat is king when it comes to cold environments and intermittent activities that involve stopping. A light-weight down coat is the perfect solution to keep you toasty during winter sports that incorporate periods of prolonged rest.
Staying on your feet and keeping them warm go a long way toward enjoying outdoor winter activities. Over-layering your feet will cause them to sweat, which can lead to cold toes. For cardiovascular-based sports, a single pair of warm, wicking socks will normally do. In very cold conditions or for gravity-based sports, use a double layer of socks.
A good trail running shoe provides extra traction for slippery surfaces and many offer waterproof features that help keep your feet dry. In areas with deep snow, a pair of light gaiters will keep the snow out of your shoes.
H2O. One of the biggest challenges for training in cold temperatures is avoiding de-hydration. While it may feel unappealing, drinking regularly during these lower temperature workouts is just as necessary as in warmer weather. Filling water bottles with lukewarm fluids will help to prevent them from freezing or being too cold to drink comfortably.
Plan your route ahead of time. Use a loop course to avoid getting too far away from home in the event something were to go wrong during your activity.
Avoiding frost bite and hypothermia is the most important consideration when preparing for cold weather activities. Make sure all of your skin is covered and carry an extra layer in case the conditions change during your workout.

Remember too, the winter's an ideal opportunity to try something new - snow boarding and ice climbing are great ways to get fit and enjoy the winter outdoors. And there's always that warm fire and cocoa to get home to !!
Wow ...what a challenge that was! I thoroughly enjoyed completing The Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR with 3 of my bootcamp regulars. It may only have been 2 miles but the ascent of 1000 ft within 1/2 mile was pretty horrendous. Well done Lyn, Colin & Karen. Same time next year? LOL