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Being fit and healthy around a busy lifestyle!

Being fit and healthy around a busy lifestyle!

Writing this article comes pretty easily to me as I’m still stuck at work and have had to cancel my planned gym session for this evening. Says USN ambassador Emily Lingard

I always chuckle when people tell me they don’t have time for training or eating healthily. I manage a major high street retailer for a global skincare company, am under daily pressure, work full days and regularly have to drive for 6 hours to and from meetings. But with organisation and preparation in advance I can stick to my food plan, do my morning cardio and train in evenings. It’s even harder when I’m in competition prep but it’s still manageable.

It really is about mental focus – the willpower to say no. You’ll find once you’ve said “No thank you” a couple of times it won’t even cross your mind to look and people won’t bother offering you anything anymore.

The main issue I find with work is temptation – birthdays involve an office bombardment of cakes, team meetings involve sitting in front of a bowl of sweets every month, and overnight stays mean I get to watch everyone eat 3 course dinners whilst I eat out of Tupperware. It really is about mental focus – the willpower to say no. You’ll find once you’ve said “No thank you” a couple of times it won’t even cross your mind to look and people won’t bother offering you anything anymore. And if you do find it hard, keep sugar free flavoured gum on hand to sort the cravings.

A lot of people ask me about whether I come off my plan for special occasions and my answer is ‘yes’. Once a week I allow myself a ‘cheat’ meal and I use this as time to catch up with friends over dinner with a more relaxed attitude to what I eat. I can then work this around customer meetings, weddings and birthdays if need be. It also keeps me motivated during the week as I have something to focus on.  I spend Monday to Friday telling people at work what I’m going to eat on a Saturday night – I’m sure they think I’m slightly insane – but it keeps me going.

So what’s the best way to go about it? Get organised! Work out your meal plan for the week at the weekend and cook your meals in advance so you have your food there ready to eat. If you tell yourself that’s what you have for the day then that’s all you will eat. And don’t be afraid of rest days – see them as a reason to stay a bit later in the office and catch up on work, go home and spend time with family or do any chores that need doing. I have one every 4 days.

But the most important thing to do is make sure you’re enjoying your food and training as no one can stick to something they dislike. Never see it as a chore and allow yourself some flex. It can be easy to isolate yourself away by being rigid and nothing is worth that.

It’s a way of life and your body and mind will thank you in the end.

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Once a week I allow myself a ‘cheat’ meal and I use this as time to catch up with friends over dinner with a more relaxed attitude to what I eat.

Posted in Blogs, Fat burning, Fitness, fitness model, Misc0 Comments


Overcoming Injuries – Ciara’s Blog

By Ciara Horne of Team USN, the Welsh Cycling Team


Following the UCI Track World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, our team pursuit squad were straight back into training with a big road block. But an unexpected setback occurred three weeks ago today, on a training ride back from the gym with my Team USN teammate Hayley Jones. I hit a pothole, disguised as a puddle, and hit the ground pretty hard. Immediately I could hear a lot of ‘crunching’ on my right collarbone. Thankfully, Hayley and a lorry driver looked after me until the ambulance came. Hayley was an absolute star and sorted out the logistics of getting my bike home and contacting our coach Darren Tudor and my parents.


At the hospital, X-rays were performed (as shown) and an impressive looking fracture to my right clavicle was revealed. The fracture itself was very nearly an open fracture, which means the broken bone penetrates the skin. Luckily, it didn’t, as I suspect that would have hurt a fair bit. The NHS stated that surgery may take up to six weeks, which would have meant no training for six weeks as there is no way I could have trained with a risk of an open fracture if I was moving around too much. I was extremely lucky and am incredibly grateful for the support of Sport Wales, as instead I was able to have surgery two days post the accident with an exceptional surgeon – Richard Evans at theSpire Cardiff hospital.

My post-op instructions stated that the first ten days had to be no sweating in order to reduce the chance of infection. This was music to my ears as it meant I could train, just not sweat! Two days post-op, I was back on the bike. In the first ten days I did plenty of three hour turbo sessions and also, with the help and guidance from Sport Wales strength and conditioning staff, I was able to start a weights programme five days post op. The weights programme consisted of leg press, sled walks, body weight exercises and a specific core programme.

In order to maximise recovery, under the guidance of our Sport Wales nutritionist and USN – I’ve been ensuring I’m having enough protein in my diet on a daily basis. I personally love the Protein Fuel 25 chocolate cream flavour drink, so have had a supply of these drinks to help aid growth and repair of the bone/muscles injured from the accident.

I’m now allowed to do efforts on the turbo, as pain allows. Three hours on a turbo isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, in fact, it really does test you. But with the Commonwealth Games 157 days away (at the time of writing), how could I not be motivated?

The physiotherapy and physiology team at Sport Wales have been a tremendous help and are working alongside my coach to help plan my rehabilitation. In less than two weeks I will be able to fully weight bear. So I’m currently counting down the days until I’m back on the track and road. For now, it’s a case of putting the work in at the gym and SRM/turbo sessions. As someone wise said to me last week; ‘There are no traffic lights on a turbo’ so hopefully this block will help me.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sport Wales, Welsh Cycling and USN for their incredible support

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?




Posted in Blogs, Nutrition, Sports Training, Women's Fitness0 Comments


Obesity is it really a disease?

According to the World Health Organization, obesity is now classed as a disease. With as many as a third or more of all adults being so overweight that their health is affected, it’s no wonder that the powers that be are at panic stations. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be more overweight people than “normal” people and that statistic sadly includes not just adults but children too.

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To label obesity as a disease mean that medical resources are more likely to be directed to treating the symptoms rather than the cause…..

While it’s great that the WHO has taken such an interest in obesity, I have to question the labelling of obesity as a disease. There is no doubt that being significantly overweight is bad for just about every aspect of your health but surely obesity and its associated conditions is the SYMPTOM of overeating and too little activity. To label obesity as a disease mean that medical resources are more likely to be directed to treating the symptoms rather than the cause – the cause being eating too much, eating the wrong foods and being too sedentary.

This attitude to obesity and its disease status is indicative of Western medicine in general. Western medicine is, by and large, allopathic. This simply means that when you go to see your doctor, he or she will ask you what is wrong and give you medication that controls your symptoms. Got high blood pressure? You’ll be prescribed beta blockers, diuretics and ACE inhibitors. Can’t sleep? You’ll be offered medication that helps knock you out for the night. Feeling stressed? No worries – there is a medication for that too. None of these medical interventions deal with the cause of what ails you – they simply control your symptoms. Come off the medication, the symptoms return. The condition has not been cured but merely managed with pharmaceuticals.

Conversely, Eastern medicine is more homeopathic in nature. Where Western medicine treats symptoms, Eastern medicine treats causes. A homeopathic approach to lowering blood pressure would probably combine diet modifications, exercise, and stress management techniques to address the cause of the symptoms and not just how your body responds to problems within.

Of course, sometimes Western medicine does have the answers and if I was ever diagnosed with a serious disease or suffered a traumatic injury, I’d put my faith in my doctor 100 percent but as for treating obesity medically – I have serious misgivings about that.

Firstly, you can’t “catch” obesity. While some unlucky individuals do have a predilection for gaining weight easier than others, this does not explain why so many individuals are overweight. I remember watching a science news programme a few years ago on which a revered geneticist announced he had discovered the “fat gene” that was responsible for the current obesity crisis.

Hundreds of hopeful overweight people waddled into his practice to see if they had this gene so they could blame their fatness on something other than their lifestyles. Incredibly, out of the hundreds tested, only a statistically insignificant number actually possessed the required genetic marker. The disappointment of the test subjects was palpable and as one fellow said, “Guess it’s my fault I’m overweight then”. Damn straight.

Labelling obesity as a disease removes culpability. Humans love nothing more than to say, “it’s not my fault – I’m a victim of circumstances beyond my control”. The truth of the matter is, in the vast majority of cases, the responsibility for being overweight lies with the person who IS overweight. Of course, there are mitigating circumstances like injury that prevents exercise or essential drugs that promote fat storage but these circumstances are far rarer than most of us realise. Gluttony and laziness are, however, far too common.

Then, consider this – if obesity is a disease, drug manufacturers are going to be pulling out all the stops to find a cure. They’ll be scouring the rain forests, exploring the ocean depths and synthesising lord-knows what in secret laboratories all around the world in search of the magic bullet that will “cure” obesity. As praiseworthy as these endeavours are, don’t forget – the winner of this particular race will make so much money from their discovery that their children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children will never have to work a day in their lives unless they want to! The wonder drug that cures obesity is the pot of gold at the end of the Leprechaun’s rainbow to the power of a hundred.

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(continued from Fitzine)

Also, don’t forget, many governments are going to throw huge amounts of money at funding the search for the cure to obesity and while I believe that’s misguided, I can understand why – obesity is a huge drain on the resources of any country’s health care system and the sooner it’s eradicated (if that is at all possible) the better.

So if obesity isn’t really a disease and shouldn’t be treated with drugs, what is the solution? I hate to sound like a broken record but it’s simply a matter of eating less, eating better and moving more.

While simple enough on paper, the nuts and bolts of these interventions can become incredibly complex when you start to scratch below the surface. What type of exercise is best, what should your heart rate be, how many times a week should you do it, how long should each session last, what about weight training, should I go low carb or low fat, should I eat three larger meals or six smaller ones, should I try intermittent fasting or what about the Paleo diet…? Talk about not being able to see the woods for the trees!

At the end of the day, while some interventions may be slightly more effective than others, eating less, eating better and moving more is the answer and sometimes “experts” make it all so complex-sounding that individuals looking for answers end up suffering paralysis by analysis and doing nothing to change their diets of lifestyles. If you want to see BIG changes, you have to make BIG changes and while knowledge is power, action is more powerful still. Like internet phenomenon and fitness personality CT Fletcher says (and I paraphrase because he swears – a lot!) “Forget range of motion; just get your BUTT in motion!” Oftentimes, simple is best.

Turn back the calendar 50 years or so and the UK was counting the cost of the second World War. As tragic as that period of history was, from the standpoint of controlling obesity – it was nirvana. Food and petrol were strictly limited by rationing and as a result, there was not as much food to eat, people had to walk more and jobs were generally more physical. It was like a forced diet and exercise programme for the entire nation! The result – very few overweight individuals and obesity was virtually unheard of.

Did you know that typically, we spend 32 years of our lives dieting!?

Fast forward and per capita, British people are amongst the biggest spenders on “health foods” and leisure activities in the world and gym membership is at their highest. Yet, the country is getting fatter year on year. We know more than ever about food and exercise but knowing and doing are completely different things. Did you know that typically, we spend 32 years of our lives dieting!? That’s a depressing statistic that goes to show that modern interventions aren’t doing jack for the obesity crisis.

What is the answer to the obesity crisis? Man – that’s a complex question to answer but this is my take on it. Along with ‘eat less, eat better and move more’ becoming a national slogan and drummed into every child and adult across the country, I’d like to see free educational programmes that are compulsory for anyone overweight. I’d introduce penalties for medical treatment for anyone purposely overweight requiring non-essential medical treatment, a tax on sugar and junk foods in general, compulsory two-mile traffic free areas around schools so kids have to walk more, using Smartphone technology to ensure everyone does at least 10,000 steps of walking a day, gyms in all places of work and education, excess baggage charges on planes for obese people… that’ll do for now.

Of course, I know that many of these interventions could be seen as being draconian, big brother-esque and oppressive but it’s clear the touchy-feely approach to curing obesity isn’t working. The carrot approach has proved ineffective so maybe it’s time for the stick?

Bottom line – whatever is being done at the moment to eradicate obesity is ineffective. The solution is complex, requires education and effort and a paradigm shift if we are ever going to reduce the ever growing obesity statistics. The one thing I am sure of is that labelling obesity as a disease and looking for drugs to treat the symptoms is like putting the cart before the horse and about as useful as a handbrake on a canoe!

Wishing you a happy, healthy and active weekend,

Patrick Dale

ultra-FIT contributing editor and author of “Military Fitness” and “Live Long, Live Strong”

Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected]


Posted in Blogs, Fat burning, Fitness, Misc, Nutrition, Understanding Fitness0 Comments

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