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Bear with me boy’s I promise this is not a dressed up Bodyform advert, this is still relevant to the male species and if you read on you will find out why.

High Levels of Oestrogen are commonly linked with weight gain and high fat levels.  But which comes first – Chicken (Sorry Hen, Sorry Mr A!) or the Egg?  Does the fat cause the Oestrogen, or does the Oestrogen cause the fat?

Simple answer…………………………….It’s both! Glad we’ve cleared that up!

Firstly, increased fat cells increase the production of Oestrogen, and secondly high levels of Oestrogen slow down metabolism and therefore encourage your body to hang onto fat. Hence a vicious (probably emotional with all that oestrogen!) cycle.


Oestrogen causes weight gain by inhibiting thyroid function. Ordinarily Oestrogen and the Thyroid play off each other in an evenly matched game of tennis. However if Thyroid function becomes impaired through such things as high or low blood sugar, due to an Insulin imbalance then that game is no longer evenly matched. Think Andy Murray playing me, I’ll give you a clue I can’t even hit the ball! So impaired Thyroid function = Impaired Oestrogen Function.

The reason this is not just a ladies issue is because testosterone is converted to Oestrogen by an enzyme called Aromatase. Aromatase is the primary source of Oestrogen in men-and you thought you were safe from its clutches!

Aromatase is present is all types of body tissue however the vast majority of it is found in the adipose tissue –that’s body fat to you and me. So boys the more fat you are carrying, the more Oestrogen you’re carrying – hence the man boobs!


However this is where is gets complicated – take a bite of your hot cross bun…………………………. Oestrogen actually plays a large role in weight loss!  Don’t spit it back out, it’s true and I shall now in as simple a manner as possible explain why. Without dropping the real science because I know you intelligent folk love it.

Oestrogens presence within a cell decreases the uptake of Lipoprotein Lipase – LPL. LPL encourages fat uptake of a cell, therefore the presence of Oestrogen stops this from happening. So Oestrogen stops cells picking up fat???

Secondly, Oestrogen increases the activity of Hormone Sensitive Lipase-HSL. When HSL is stimulated by Epinephrine it incites the breakdown of fat, this occurs most commonly during exercise, so basically Oestrogen is burning fat whilst you’re on the X Trainer-Cool Huh!

And thirdly, Oestrogen can also stimulate the production of Growth Hormone, which in turn inhibits Insulin Production and forms part of your blood sugar control. It is also inhibits the uptake of carbohydrate for energy and therefore encourages the burning of fat. Yes I’m confused now too!

To be honest the scientists are still scratching their heads a little on this, however what can be proven is that upsetting the apple cart of your other weight loss hormones i.e. Insulin Cortisol, Leptin, Ghrelin has a knock on effect on your Oestrogen function and it should therefore be considered as part of the process.

So I will kick on with what affects your hormones a little more next week , after you’ve all spent the weekend becoming Easter Egg Shaped, if anyone needs me I will be head first into a giant Walnut Whip.


Nicola x




Hormones Pt 4

Right after the epic scienceness of the last few weeks I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet-cue 8 pages…………………..

So after aforementioned scienceness (if I use it enough times it will become a real word!)I did promise that I would go through what things in our daily lives can affect all these hormones that are controlling our body fat levels-like little fat controllers, hats and moustaches, the lot!!!!

Firstly, the one I think is most prominent in our culture today-Sugar!!!! You probably picked up on this along the way, but as a recap. When we eat sugar our bodies release Insulin in order to convert it into energy. However if we are continually eating Sugar our bodies are continually releasing Insulin, which can over time lead to blocked messages from Leptin (the hormone that tells you  that you are full). So your body thinks you are starving and stores glucose (sugar/starch) as belly fat.  Then Raised Insulin causes raised Cortisol (your stress hormone) which also then tells your body to release energy/Glucose because in caveman times you would need the energy to run away from a bear; because there is no bear, your body simply releases more insulin to deal with the glucose and the cycle continues. And as previously mentioned in earlier weeks this then leads to blocked messages for other hormones such as Ghrelin which is your appetite suppressant hormone and your whole food control system becomes out of whack.

Sleep! Lack of sleep has been shown to increase Cortisol levels (just mentioned why that is bad) and also has been shown to lower Leptin levels (so you don’t feel full). Along with that, your lack of energy will make you reach for something Sugary to perk you up and well…………………….we know that’s not a good idea.

Stress. I’m sure you’ve guessed why but just in case it’s due to that pesky Cortisol elevation which although in short term stress is actually a good thing due to it increasing memory, mental alertness etc. when constantly raised due to constant high stress levels it can have a negative impact.

Chemicals. Many chemicals that are found in everyday products can have a negative impact on our hormones. Now I’m not saying the Chemical as it stands is the major cause on its own but unfortunately we are now in a world where nearly everything we touch, eat, breathe has some form of chemical in it and it is this overloading that is the problem. Most commonly are BPA’s found in plastic which affect Oestrogen, Pesticides found in/on our food which yes at the time of spraying where considered safe but day in day out ingestion has been shown to disrupt our endocrine system (hormones!), and also to be considered are household things like cleaning fluids, our beauty products and make up.

So in the view of keeping this short and sweet, here’s a little bullet point list of ways to try and balance those hormones out.

  • Watch your sugar and starch intake. Eat whole, natural (like not in a packet) foods as the majority of your diet. If you ignore the rest, I personally believe this is the most important one!
  • Get plenty of sleep. Surviving on 4 hours sleep is not a badge of honour it’s stupid!
  • Try to control your stress levels. Although you probably can’t remove the stress from your life, things such as exercise, yoga, meditation, reading a book etc. can all help to unwind you and manage your stress.
  • Take a look at how many chemicals you come into contact with a day. Now I’m not suggesting you should lead a life free of anything that has a chemical in it, indeed many of them are indeed safe. But perhaps have a look at manageable ways you can decrease them. For instance having a water bottle that is BPA free, having water filter maybe? For me as well as the water bottle, I have switched to a more natural deodorant ( if you must know) and I’m also doing the same with my skin care-my Lancôme eyeliner however is a chemical combination I cannot exist without! But small steps people, small steps!


Nicola x

If you would like some help with your health and wellbeing please contact me regarding Personal Training across Liverpool, The Wirral and surrounding areas. NS-PT Personal Training can help you with weight loss in your own home or Local Park.

So that’s me out the door dinosaur!

Weight Loss Hormones

Well I am back with Part 2 of the Hormonal Series; I know you’ve been excited all week for this.

Well this week first up is Ghrelin.

Ghrelin is produced and released mainly by the lining of the stomach but also in small amounts by the small intestine, pancreas and the brain.

Ghrelin is your hunger hormone! Think Stomach Growling hormone! Ghrelin stimulates appetite, therefore increases food intake and also promotes fat storage.

Ghrelin also stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, which, unlike ghrelin itself, breaks down fat tissue and causes the build-up of muscle. This is important if you want to bulk up but it’s not something I will go into today.

As well as helping to build muscle it has some more important functions like having a protective effect on the cardiovascular system and a role in the control of insulin release.

Ghrelin levels are high during a fast, or just before a meal i.e. anytime when you have not eaten for a significant period. It can actually fall into a pattern with our regular meal times and therefore bring on your stomach growling when you are close to a regular meal time-clever huh!

It does this by sending a message to your brain, specifically the Hypothalamus and tells you that you are hungry. When you eat, Ghrelin levels drop.

So how can aspects of your lifestyle affect Ghrelin? Firstly, lack of sleep. Ever noticed how hungry you are when you are tired?

Secondly, it has also been shown that having raised Insulin Levels can keep Ghrelin raised. This is where the circle starts to come together from last week’s post! As I mentioned last week Insulin can increase your Leptin levels, which tell the brain it is hungry.  Par exemple you eat something sugary, your Insulin levels increase in order to turn the sugar into energy. Eating the sugar has then increased your Leptin levels-which regulates your appetite and fat storage and decreases production of Leptin. However if your Insulin response is impaired, Ghrelin levels remain elevated after eating so you are still hungry! So you eat and well you know the rest.

So we have just linked up how Insulin, Ghrelin and Leptin affect your weight. Let’s continue the hormone cycle.



Cortisol is a very important hormone as it has many functions including blood pressure regulation, metabolism of glucose, controlling blood sugar levels, supporting the immune system and many more.

Upon waking your Cortisol levels should be high and this should decrease as the day goes on.


Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone, as your body releases more of it during stressful periods. This has positive benefits such as high pain threshold, increased energy and memory. However if this happens over a prolonged period problems can occur.

The Dark Side of Cortisol!

When you are constantly producing a high amount of cortisol, it can deregulate your normal cortisol production. This means instead of having more in the morning and less at night, it can be high all day.

In order for Cortisol to provide you with Energy, it stimulates the metabolism of Carbs and Fats. It will also encourage the release of more Insulin.

So more Cortisol  will increase the insulin which as mentioned above increases the Leptin, and then your Ghrelin stays high so you are still hungry.– Do you ever find you are hungrier when stressed, particularly for carbs?? I feel like that should be a song – “The Sugar increases your Insulin, The Insulin Increases your ….Leptin……..” I bet you all sung that!


But it is not just the increased food intake that will cause weight gain. As Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, there will be an excessive amount of glucose in your body. This Glucose will not be required for energy as is therefore stored as fat. It has been shown that body fat caused by cortisol is predominantly stored around your middle i.e. your stomach and your back. (At no point in my legal career did I grab my back fat and shout to a manager that he was the sole cause of that particular bit of fat, honest……)

So I know that was a great whack of Science for you there but I do feel you are all intelligent enough to cope (except for you Mum, I imagine you won’t have read this far anyway……….) and I promise this is all going somewhere with my crusade against Sugar. Davina just tells you it’s bad, but I respect your intelligence enough to tell you why-just saying!

Nicola x


Ps. If you would like any further help with Weight Loss in Liverpool and the Surrounding areas, or you would like to know more about my Mobile Personal Training Services across Merseyside and The Wirral please do not hesitate to contact me E:

Weight Loss and Hormones

When it comes to the battle of weight loss, our hormones can play a major part in our success – I know something else we can blame our hormones on ladies!

There are several hormones that affect weight loss, Insulin, Leptin, Gherlin, Oestrogen and Cortisol.

I won’t cover them all this week, I fear for your concentration spans!

Also I want to go into how our diet affects these hormones. As it still seems to be (despite my best efforts) that many people believe as long as you stick to this magical calorie allowance (usually about 1200 calories which is actually classes as starvation) it doesn’t matter what you shovel into your gut. Well I hate to break it to you-it does matter! Not just for weight loss but also for your overall health. Your body and how it functions is a reflection of how you nourish it.

So first to take the stand- Leptin.


Leptin is a hormone that is secreted by the fat cells. So obviously the more body fat you have, the more leptin you have. Leptin is the hormone that sends a message to our brain when we have enough stored energy and don’t need to eat. So I know already you’re thinking-well if I have loads of it, surely that means my brain would be constantly getting messages that I don’t need to eat? Well unfortunately those little Leptin messages aren’t getting to the brain. The brain isn’t acknowledging the Leptin meaning you are Leptin resistant.

So your brain thinks you’re starving, so you eat more and…….well we know what happens. And ignoring Leptin is not just a matter of willpower, your hormones are your body’s inbuilt responses, like for your fight or flight response, if a bull is chasing you, you are going to run so if your brain says your starving you’re going to eat!


Second onto the block is one you may be more familiar – Insulin.


Insulin is made in the Pancreas and is responsible for converting the food we eat to Glucose and then storing as energy as either as glycogen or fat.

Studies have shown (The work of Dr Lustig or Prof Sugar as I call him is based on this) that insulin may block the leptin signal to the brain (a ha!). Therefore if we have constantly raised Insulin levels we put ourselves at a greater risk of Leptin resistance. Hence as explained above we are always hungry!

Insulin is also responsible for telling the fat cells to hang onto their stores and to keep storing more. Yes, no matter how low a calorie you go your body is still going to hang onto that fat- it will lose water and muscle mass first before it starts to let go of that pesky fat!

This doesn’t make Insulin an out and out bad guy. We need Insulin for survival as we do need to store energy – for when we are running away from bulls obvs! But if it is chronically elevated, it can cause serious health problems. As with Leptin, the messages can get blocked and the brain cannot see the Insulin and therefore tells the pancreas needs to make more. This is what is known as Insulin Resistance which long term can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and with that brings a whole world of trouble.


So what has all this got to do with Sugar?????


Well, when we eat sugar our bodies release Insulin to convert it to glucose, unfortunately if we eat too much sugar very quickly our body panics and releases too much insulin causing our blood sugar levels to drop – Sugar Crash!!! So we eat more sugar and the circle starts again. If this becomes a repeated cycle our bodies become constantly topped up with too much Insulin, which as mentioned above blocks your Leptin signals so you are constantly hungry, therefore feeding the cycle over and over and creating the Insulin Resistance. All the while your body is hanging onto those fat stores for dear life because despite the food intake it still thinks it starving! So your there eating less and less calories and still the fat doesn’t shift!

For now I think that’s enough food for thought, although there is waaaay more to this story but I bet some of you have already considered a KitKat to keep your concentration levels up……………… know who you are! So I will continue this next week but for now, just give a thought to your sugar intake, read your food labels and see how much you are really consuming you will probably be quite shocked .

To Coffee or Not To Coffee?

To Coffee or not to Coffee? That is the question


The Legend of Kaldi has it that Coffee was discovered by his herd of Goats in the Ethiopian highlands. It is said that Kaldi (or technically his goats) discovered coffee after noticing that upon eating berries from a certain tree, his Goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.

Kaldi then reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery who then made a drink with the berries and discovered that it also kept him awake for long hours.  The Abbott shared this discovery with other Monks of the Monastery and the origin of Coffee began.

So although it can never be proven that this story is entirely true it forms part of the Coffee Associations history and is yet further evidence following on from last week that Goats are in fact magic! I have as yet not tried feeding my Goats coffee as to be honest they are spritely enough and I dread to think the consequences-perhaps in the summer I shall share an iced Macchiato with them. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Anyway in terms of health and nutrition Coffee is a bit of a split subject. As Personal Trainers it is the actual law that we are obsessed with coffee. I’m not sure why it just is.

And in honesty Coffee does have many health benefits, but it also has a downside.

We will start with its good points.

Firstly Coffee contains a huge amount of anti-oxidants. These are the things we usually associate with fruit and vegetables (which you do still need!). Anti-Oxidants clear our body of free radicals gained from chemicals ingested either via food or from the environment. It is because of these anti-oxidants that Coffee has been shown to help protect against some cancers, namely Colo Rectal and Liver Cancer. Coffee also actually contains vitamins!  It contains although in small doses B3, B5, Manganese and Potassium, so you know definitely a health food.

As I am sure most people are aware Coffee can increase your energy levels and improve your mental focus. This is because of the caffeine, which blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain called Adenosine (the brain fog stuff).  This then increases the firing of other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine which effects, most importantly your movement patterns which is why it has also been shown to increase sporting performance; but also your brain reward centre which is why Coffee can make you happy. You can’t look sad in Starbucks can you!

Caffeine has been shown to boost metabolic rate and thus aid fat burning. Studies have shown that it could increase fat burning by around 10% however studies suggest this may be diminished in long term coffee drinkers. I imagine if this were not the case I would be a matchstick as my metabolic rate would be soooo high from my caffeine intake.

Now for the Bad News………………………….

Coffee is actually one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. For this reason I would highly recommend opting for Organic Coffee where possible, Clipper do a nice one and it can be found in most supermarkets. It has a parrot on the jar!

Anyway, onwards.

As so many of us do (by this I mean me!) grabbing a coffee on the run first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, stimulates hydrochloric acid production. This is problematic because HCl is used to digest meals and the cycle of constantly over producing may mean you struggle to produce enough to digest actual meals later in the day.

Coffee can also have an acidic effect on the gut walls which when combined with the potential for less HCL to digest food can mean food, protein in particular is not digested properly and also the increased acidity can irritate the Gut lining which in turn can cause digestive upset such from bloating and gas to IBS, diverticulitis, Ulcers and exacerbate Chron’s disease.

Studies have shown that Coffee (even Decaff) relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter which can lead to Acid reflux and heartburn due to the contents of your stomach being allowed back into the oesophagus and burning it’s lining.

Drinking coffee can stimulate peristalsis (that’s doing a number 2) , unfortunately it can mean it is done too quickly leaving little time for the nutrients to be absorbed by your body meaning you will be deficient in vitamins and minerals (iron and magnesium in particular). Again this early peristalsis also has an irritating effect on your gastrointestinal tract.

Drinking lots of coffee will promote the release of the stress hormone cortisol. This can increase your body’s heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. But if you find you are increasingly jittery or anxious it may be time to cut back.

So I guess it’s still a split case. But I for one will definitely not be giving it up – I think I would actually die and my 6am sessions would not thank me! But I think it is important to consider your intake and notice any issues that me caused by it.

It is a great pre workout on it’s own and many branded sports supplement pre workouts contain caffeine, but plain old Espresso will do the trick for a lot less money.

And as stated it is great for keeping you alert and getting stuff done, but if your edging over 4-5 cups per day you may find you actually start to feel more tired (and then increase your intake to counteract it) and if that is the case you need to cut back. And of course any jitteriness, heart racing etc is a definite message!

But if like me you just enjoy one or two cups a day, avoid it a few hours before you go to bed and have no side effects then I would say keep going with your tasty healthy drink!

Nicola x

PS. NS-PT provides mobile Personal Training across Liverpool, Wirral, St Helens and surrounding areas. NS-PT provides Personal Training to help you with weight loss and Personal Training to improve your health and well being.

Food as a Reward?

I was speaking with my niece the other day and she asked me a question that was for her school homework. She asked “should kids be banned from having junk food and why?”  Anyway you can imagine what sort of answer I gave “hell yes” but what I found most interesting where the answers given by other people. One in particular that said “no, children should be rewarded for good behaviour” which is what I’m going to talk about, tempting as it was to go on a rant about childhood obesity, maybe another day.

Instead it got me thinking about the concept of food as a reward.

You know how it is, you’ve had a tough day so when you get in you reward yourself with a glass of wine, you finished that important report for work so reward yourself with chocolate. You get a promotion so you go out that evening for a nice meal to celebrate. It’s like a normal part of our lives.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate great things with a posh meal, but what about the everyday rewards? Certainly if you’re trying to lose/manage or control your weight this is an area you need to look at.

Let’s face it, we probably by habit reward ourselves for everyday small events with food, which over the course of a week, month etc. can actually add up to some serious diet sabotage!

It needs to be said firstly before I go onto the practical stuff that food is fuel and fuel alone, it’s only purpose is to nourish our bodies to keep us alive and performing at its best. But somewhere along the way, food became a part of all of life’s occasions (historically it was a sign of wealth) and we got lost on it’s real purpose. The only time food should be a reward is when it involves rewarding your dog-and even that has implications but I digress.

Don’t get me wrong I looooooove food, and I of course have celebratory social occasions that involve food, but the little every day rewards? Well they have had to stop, I buy myself celebratory Goats now instead……………………….

So, what should we do instead? Well how about making your reward something none food based? It could be anything. Tough day at work, instead of that glass of wine, what about 20-30mins sat in the bath( I know your busy people feel free to take longer if you have that luxury) and read a chapter of a book. Honestly it will put you in a much better mind space and set you up for a great night’s sleep to recover from your day. Or instead of a bar of chocolate, buy yourself a magazine to read when you get in – as trashy as you like, we all know your secret take a break readers when no one’s looking!

Ok so what about the bigger stuff? Got a big project to finish? Why not book yourself a manicure (gents) when you complete it? Equally treaty (new word!) but less damage to your diet. Basically reward yourself but with something more positive than food.

Of course if you are celebrating something big, then fine go for the slap up meal, pop the champagne cork (I know some of you celebrate Fridays this way…..) but if you are seriously trying to lose weight you might want to make this the exception not the rule. Or of course you could bring in the celebratory run idea???  Got a promotion? Let’s go for a run to celebrate! No takers????

And on the subject of rewarding kids with food, well I honestly think you are setting up a precedent that becomes a habit for life, and it can be very difficult to break. Many of the habits we have as adults are a result of things that were ingrained in us as children – ask yourself why you always clear your plate no matter how full you are??? But that’s perhaps something I will discuss on another day.


Nicola x

PS. NS-PT provides mobile Personal Training across Liverpool, Wirral, St Helens and surrounding areas. NS-PT provides Personal Training to help you with weight loss and Personal Training to improve your health and well being.



What does your Gut Tell You?


Your gonna need a brew for this one, settle in…………………I promise the top notch info is worth it though.

Hippocrates said over 2000 years ago “All disease begins in the gut”. And increasingly we are becoming aware of just how right he was.

More than ever today research reveals that gut health has a significant impact on our overall health, and can contribute to a wide range of diseases including skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, auto immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, autism, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Scary Stuff!

Our Gut Health is reliant on two things

1)the intestinal microbiota, or “gut flora”

2) The gut barrier/wall.

Our gut flora is responsible for proper digestion, regulating our metabolism and is a major part of our immune system helping to protect us from infection. So you can see why unhappy gut flora is a big deal.  Research has linked unbalanced gut flora to diseases ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions.

Unfortunately, many aspects of our modern, busy lifestyles can contribute to an unhealthy gut and unbalance our flora. Such as……………..

■ Antibiotics and other medications

■ Refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods

■ Lack of fermentable fibre

■ Wheat, Dairy, Food intolerance

■ Chronic stress

Next time someone is stressing you out, tell them to stop messing with your flora!

Moving on, Leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyper permeability.

This can happen when junctions in the gut, that control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly. Perhaps I will go into more depth on why this is another time-it’s a whole subject in itself!

This then allows large protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the body your immune system responds by attacking them. Research has shown that this can play a role in autoimmune diseases which are caused when the body’s own immune system turns on itself.

An important point to note is, as these symptoms are presented by the immune response you may not have symptoms from your gut in order to actually have leaky gut. As mentioned the immune response may be by way of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or indeed an autoimmune disease and more research suggests also a metal/brain related condition – depression, autism.

So if you think may be suffering from anything that could be potentially caused by your gut (in summary pretty much any health issue you have right now could come from your gut!) how do you go about fixing it????

Well firstly it’s all the usual stuff I bang on about such as cutting out processed foods, sugar and then looking at potential intolerances that will differ from person to person. However the first and most common causes are wheat/gluten and dairy so start with those before moving onto other starches, vegetables, fruit and/or spices.

A probiotic is a great way of  re-balancing  Gut Flora – and I don’t mean one of those stupid Yakult things off the telly! I mean a proper one.

If you prefer a more holistic approach try adding fermented foods to your diet such as Saurkraut (Those Scandinavians are onto something) or  Kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir “grains” (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter). It is prepared by mixing  cowgoat, or sheep or even coconut milk with kefir grains. It has many uses as a natural pro biotic and I would recommend anyone to check out to read about how it’s owners began her business after using Goats Milk Kefir to treat asthma and eczema in her son and then MRSA in her husband! And you people just thought I liked Goats because they are cute, no it’s because they are magical.

If you have or are taking antibiotics is also a good idea to take a pro biotic alongside or after in order to minimise damage to your gut.

And finally find ways to manage stress in your life whether that be with exercise, yoga, meditation, or reading etc. You know how when you are stressed you can feel knots in your stomach-what makes you think this isn’t just your imagination

So I hope your gut has digested all that, I’m off to snuggle some magic goats!

Nicola x



The best exercise for weight loss

I often get asked “what is the best exercise to lose weight” and although I will usually give an answer –abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym sort of answer, exercise is of course an important part of a weight loss journey, it also the best way of helping you to sustain your weight loss – along with your new dietary habits. But I must stress before I continue the most effective way to lose weight is through your diet, no amount of exercise can out train junk food. However I digress……………

Exercise has many health benefits. It releases endorphins that improve your mood, increases your energy levels (when you say you don’t have the energy to exercise it’s because you aren’t doing any!) as well as more importantly helping to prevent heart disease, many cancers and improving joint and bone health.

There is of course many a scientific study behind what is the best exercise to lose weight and the general consensus is resistance training (that’s weights to you and me), combined with cardio intervals and long slow duration. So short answer – a bit of everything

Resistance training aids weight loss as it builds muscle, and muscle is essentially a little furnace burning fat all day even when you’re sat still. Hence the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. And I don’t mean you have to have guns like Arnie to burn fat, just building a leaner, more muscular physique will do the trick. And no ladies, you won’t suddenly look like a rugby player because you lift over 5kgs (my legs are an exception, I’m sorry to say you will not all be gifted with a pair this Hench). To be honest if barbells and plates aren’t for you (although what is wrong with you!!!) then bodyweight resistance will build muscle too. So things like press ups, squats, lunges, tricep dips added into your routine a few times per week will help to get that muscle furnace burning.

Cardio –

HIIT/Interval Training. This is when exercise is performed at maximum intensity for a short period i.e. 30 seconds followed by a similar rest period and repeated for say 10-20 mins. Interval training burns fat because it basically shocks the system. Research shows that it increases fat oxidisation and the effect continues long after your workout has finished. This is referred to as after burn or in technical terms EPOC. (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) This is an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s oxygen deficit. Which in lay man’s terms means your metabolism is on fire burning, burning, and burning the fat up! Therefore you get more bang for your buck.

LSD training i.e. steady state cardio for around 30 mins is firstly good for your cardiovascular health (your heart) and it sure does burn calories. So in a basic science formula if you do lots of steady state cardio, you will burn lots of calories and so long as you don’t put all those calories back in with food, you will lose weight.

So I’m going to let you into a big secret here that the scientist’s won’t tell you. So this is just between us. The best exercise for weight loss is……………………………………………any exercise that you will actually do consistently!


In reality yes there are studies that will give you an answer to the perfect weight loss formula, and how to build certain physiques, but if you are just after a little help to shift the lbs and the idea of weights or long runs or Insanity style workouts put you off, that doesn’t mean you can’t use exercise to help you lose weight and improve your fitness.

If you enjoy running but not weights that’s fine, keep running. If you love to fling metal but can’t face an hour on the treadmill, not a problem fling that metal! And if neither is for you just going for a 30 min walk 3 times per week is going to help more than sitting on the sofa, if you want to take up yoga – great! It is all movement and if you enjoy it, do it consistently alongside a clean, healthy diet then I promise you it will help you lose weight and most importantly improve your health and general wellbeing. (But if anyone asks I said you have to spend hours in the gym lifting heavy weights and run 10 miles a day ok!).

So go and do some movement……………….Any…………………just move!


Nicola x



Pancake Day


Well this weekend brings us Valentine’s Day –the official day of lurvvve and next week is Pancake Day-the official day of erm….eating lots of pancakes. Ok I am of course aware that it is a religious tradition that is essentially a last feast before abstinence in lent and the purpose of making pancakes was to use up the staples that would be abstained from i.e. butter, milk etc. and generally have a feast . If you are Pagan the Pancakes symbolise the sun and the entire week of Pancake aka Shrovetide week is about welcoming in the spring. I’ll be honest Pagans seem way more glass half full right now than Christians.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering why this has turned into a religious history lesson.

Well lots of people whether Christian or not choose to give something up during lent, (usually chocolate) and I wondered whether you might be doing the same or perhaps it might be a good idea to try and embrace the Pagan way of thinking and do something to welcome in the spring. And by this I mean perhaps instead of giving something up, maybe try and form a new healthy habit?

And how is this welcoming in the spring exactly? Well, remember those summer bodies we were building over the winter??? Yeh that one that you sort of got comfortable with under the comfort of winter jumpers, well if spring is on the way you are going to be baring some skin again before we know it (eeeeekkkk!) so how about welcoming spring in by committing to a new exercise class for the entirety of lent, or vowing to drink 2 litres of water every day, walking for 30 minutes 3 times per week, anything that will make you feel that little bit better about the prospect of warmer temperatures.

Ok so maybe for you this does mean you want to give something up- sugar, starchy carbs (bread, pasta….) or that nightly glass of wine (it’s not dry January you can still have one at the weekend!) that’s great but instead of calling it an abstinence and therefore making it feel like a chore, lets re brand it as “spring body preparation “ – title needs work I know but you get my point, you’re not giving up something to punish yourself you are choosing to do something good for your health and self-esteem. So it is an act of self-love (stop it!) not self-punishment.

So let me know if you’re thinking of embracing lent as a time of forming new healthier habits.

I’ll have to have a think about mine too, what with me being such a perfect human being it’s difficult to see how I can be improved – cue large amount of email suggestions and a text message from Mr A!


The Steak and Champagne Trainer x

Ps. To cover both Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day I have this great recipe from Rachel Holmes at Kick-start Fat Loss

Pink Pancakes


2 Eggs

225g Flour – Try buckwheat for a Gluten Free and Healthier Alternative

1 Heaped Tsp Baking Powder

300ml Apple Juice

150g peeled and grated beetroot

½ tsp mixed spice

Coconut Oil to cook


Whisk eggs until frothy

Combine with all other ingredients and fold together

Heat coconut oil in a pan, then pour mixture in batches depending how big you want your pancakes and cook until golden, flip repeat done!


Food is thy medicine

There is hopefully a quiet revolution afoot. I don’t think it will take hold immediately but slowly, slowly the penny is starting to drop – medicine is not always the answer. What we put into our bodies by way of nutrition can have a huge impact on our health and what goes on both internally with our organs, hormones, digestive system even our nervous system, joints and muscles, as well as what goes on externally in our skin, eyesight etc and how we feel generally – energy levels, headaches, mood swings – our whole being can be affected both positively and negatively by what we eat. I know it’s a massive claim!

For years we have gone to the doctor with whatever our ailment and he has passed over some pills and we go away thinking we are cured. Except for many people, they aren’t. They still have chronic pain in their joints, they still have gut problems or they still have migraines.

Yet along the way, some little revolution starters have started to look outside of medicine and took things back to basics by looking at their diet. And to their surprise they found the answer to their problems.

I am already a great advocate of looking to our diets to try and manage or indeed cure many ailments and I know many of you have looked at me like I’m crackers (I am but that is a separate issue) but it seems I was right about the sugar before the celebrities and media caught onto it, so you may as well get on board with me on this now. Admittedly Professor Robert Lustig was light years ahead of me on the sugar thing but people thought he was mad too-eating their sugar free words now aren’t they!

Anyway back to the revolution.

Recently a great blog been turned into a recipe book . Ella has a relatively rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, which at its worst meant she struggled to walk down the street, slept for 16 hours a day, had never ending heart palpitations, was in chronic pain, had unbearable stomach issues and constant headaches . Ella tried healing through conventional medicine for about six months but it had little effect on her symptoms and she was still bed-ridden 95% of the time. So with nothing to lose she began researching natural healing approaches. This lead her to a whole foods, plant-based diet and she gave up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, anything processed and all chemicals and additives. And guess what????? It worked!!!! She is now a healthy woman who finds the energy to not only get out of bed but do loads of cooking and write a book.

Now I can already hear some of you saying “a life without dominoes and vino surely that’s a life not worth living! Well to you I ask this?

Would you rather live a life feeling uncomfortable, achy, lethargic, possibly in a lot of pain most of the time, to the point where you don’t feel like going out, you don’t have the energy to play with your kids, but you get to eat pizza and drink wine?


Would you rather live a life where you feel energetic, healthy, look and feel good, socialise care free and have loads of energy to chase your kids around the park whilst eating nourishing foods that with some experimentation and a few basic cooking skills are actually really tasty?

Now Ella, is certainly not a one off, Paul Chek, and Patrick Holford  are two great nutritionists who have been helping people solve ailments with nutrition where traditional medicine has failed for many years. But it has taken many years and I still don’t think they are their yet on the wider public radar. But maybe, just maybe as more and more people start to look for alternatives nutrition really will become a form of medicine.

So hopefully this has given you some “nourishing” food for thought. If you have any issues with your health and wellbeing that just don’t seem to have been completely solved by traditional medicine perhaps have a look a little closer to home and see what your body might be telling you about the food you are feeding it.

If you need help with something in particular feel free to shoot me an email back, or I would strongly recommend anyone interested in this area to look up Paul Chek and Patrick Holford.

Nicola x

PS. I am super proud of Mr A who has signed up to a 2 Year Nutrition Diploma with Body Type Nutrition Academy (Owner Ben Coomber also has a podcast you should check out if you want some great nutrition advice). Not only am I proud of him for taking the first step to potentially changing his career in the future,  helping people around him with their diets (including me !) but I’m also looking forward to some potential guest blogs in the future!