Nail New Year Nutrition

So this week everyone has gone back to work, kids have gone back to school and it’s all New Year New Me……


Although actually I think there has been less of that this year which I think is a good thing. You aren’t magically going to wake up on 1st Jan only wanting green juice and coconut water. Neither should you.


Life is for living and yes food is fuel but it should also be enjoyed. But of course some of us want to lose a few pounds and that’s fine but doing that needn’t involve sacrificing all the food you enjoy and surviving on meagre rations of bird seed. 


The key to long term weight loss is actually just simple maths. You need to create a calorie deficit. Calories in needs to be less than calories out. That’s it.


Of course it makes better sense health wise to make the majority of your diet up with Vegetables, Fruit,  lean meats and pulses but there are no hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t eat to lose weight. 


I like to keep simple with my clients. We set up MyFitnessPal accounts, then start tracking every day. In the first few days we aren’t worrying too much about being over the calorie goal, we just need to know where we’re at and what sort of patterns are showing up. 


Then it’s time to make some tweaks. Are we over our calorie allowance because of lots of snacking or because certain meals are much higher calorie than the others?Can we start to look at lower calorie meal option? Are we snacking through boredom or because of genuine hunger? If it’s boredom we need to either accept that its boredom not hunger or look for some lower calorie options to at least keep a limit on how much is consumed. Things like sugar free jelly, low calorie hot chocolate etc are great for this. If it’s genuine hunger we either need to make the meals or the snacks more filling. Usually upping the protein levels so lean meats, boiled eggs, nut butter with your apple  or a protein shake are filling options. Also ensure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.


We continue this just making tweaks as we go along until we’re comfortably in a calorie deficit without really feeling like it’s dieting, more like -This is how I eat now. 


I know this approach almost sounds too simple, and well that;s because it is simple. You still have to make the effort of logging food, starting to plan how meals will fit into your calories etc. However the freedom to make your own food choices based around what you actually like and what is convenient to your lifestyle is what throws people who are used to rules of giving up certain food groups or having weird (non scientific) points attached to things that mean they struggle to navigate an M&S lunch counter or a restaurant menu. 


So, if you’re committed to losing weight for good this year, make the commitment to keep it simple, follow the basic science of calories in vs calories out and create a diet that fits your lifestyle long term.


Here’s a couple of things I will add that will make this process easier.


  • Start to plan your meals and snacks in advance. Take into account the time you will realistically have available on those days to prepare and eat food. If you’re on the run or home late have portable and quick to prepare foods.
  • For the most part coloured vegetables -greens, purples, reds etc. have a low calorie value for the volume of food so use them to add bulk to your meals.
  • Admitting you won’t have the time or inclination to cook and therefore buying low calorie ready meals, soups, packet rice and microwave veg bags is a much better option than throwing in the towel and ordering takeaway. 
  • Weighing, measuring and searching for things in myfitnesspal can seem like  a pain at first, but you can save recipes and meals, copy them into other days etc. which makes it much easier after a couple of weeks and it starts to become more instinctive.

Reflect on 2019

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

I think this time in between Christmas and new year is a great time to reflect on your achievements this year before you start planning your 2020 goals.

Have you done some big stuff this year?

Ran a marathon or your first 5k? Got a PB in your event?

Perhaps you lost weight and kept it off this year?

What about other stuff? Did you get a new job, take up a new hobby or do something mad like a sky dive?

Perhaps it’s something simpler like you managed to handle your anxiety better this year, stuck to an exercise habit or you made more time for friends and family.

These are all achievements that have contributed to your happiness this year so it is important to acknowledge them. 

I’ve grown my business with new classes and clients this year and  I’ve done two new qualifications. 

I started the year with one pony out with a serious injury, one in rehab for  minor issues and the other with a vet saying she was dangerous and I should consider having her put to sleep. I’m ending it with both injured ponies back in work and the other not being quite so scary anymore. 

Then I’ve got back in the gym properly and taken up Olympic Lifting. Orla and I also finally took up agility this year too-she’s a natural. 

Looking at this I realise how much I’ve achieved this year and if you’ve been with me on this journey you will know how many ups and downs there were along the way, and how many times I could have quite easily have thrown in the towel and swapped it for an office job and pet hamsters! 

However I know both personally and from my clients if you want something bad enough you will make it happen. 

So, before you start planning 2020 look at what you achieved in 2019. Be proud of yourself for those achievements, and then look at what you didn’t achieve and ask yourself why? Did circumstances just throw you off course (injuries and illness etc) or did you just not want it hard enough? 


This will make planning 2020 a little clearer.

Time Saving Workouts

Last week I said you should be sticking to your exercise habit as much as possible so here’s some Inspiration to help you out.

And I know you’re thinking “I haven’t got time for that at this time of year” 

Well how about taking just 4 minutes to get your workout in.

Pick 2 exercises and set a timer for 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds. Alternate the 2 exercises each round so you will do 4 of each. That’s 4 minutes exercise you can make as tame or heavy as you like.

No equipment:

Squats – Press Ups




KB/DB Swings

Weighted Squats 


Single arm overhead press

Single Leg Deadlift 


Pure Cardio option.


Kb Swing


Lunge Jumps

Mountain climbers 


Why stop what’s working?

Remember when you decided to sort out that problem with your back and you went to a Pilates class and it worked. Then you stopped going………. and the problem came back? The same applies to Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Massage etc…..we do them to fix our problem and then when we feel great for a few weeks/months we stop doing it.

The same goes for diets and fitness regimes. You eat well, exercise consistently, feel amazing; then you stop. You eat rubbish, don’t train and begin to feel tired, sluggish and bloated. 

Why do we do this??? 

A couple of things. 

Once there is no pain point-whether that is actual pain or feeling overweight, unfit etc we can lose the motivation forgetting it was this journey that made us feel so good. 

Following on from that is the commitment to a lifestyle change at the outset. 

If your current lifestyle is causing you a problem then you need to make permanent changes to solve the problem long term. This is why I always question people who go on restrictive diets or mad exercise regimes that take over their lives. It may work for now, but will you still be doing this in 3,6,12 months? If you’re not it’s highly likely your original problem will still be there.

This is something to think about as we start looking towards the new year and how we might want 2020 to go for us. 

If you’ve found a way of dealing with a problem this year, ask yourself whether it’s sustainable as a lifestyle change and if it is stick with it. That may be exercising 3 times per week or having a Sports Massage every month. Whatever it is, if it works and is sustainable stick with it. If it’s not sustainable found something that is.


Save your Shoulders

I often get people coming to see me with shoulder pain.

Sometimes just the upper back tension kind-usually as a result of being in a hunched position all day. This can cause muscles to become weak and unable to do their job properly. It can also cause overuse injuries of some of the shoulder muscles in particular the upper trapezius. 

I also deal with more mechanical problems with shoulder pain such as only pain when lifting over head or to the side. 

Firstly there are a couple of nerves in this region that if being pinched can cause pain. Median nerve and Ulna Nerve originate in the neck and run down the arm -so they can also be responsible for elbow and wrist pain. Nerves can get pinched by muscle tension, being in a static position for lengths of time or overuse and underuse injuries.

There is also the problem of the small space under the Acromial Clavicular joint. This joint is the bony bit on the tip of your shoulder just above your arm. The Shoulder muscles and a tendon bursa pass under here and if they get inflamed they can struggle for space trying to pass under here.

The risk of these common issues can be minimised by doing some “pre hab” to keep your shoulders moving well.

Here a couple of simple exercises, one no equipment at all; the others just a resistance band.

Firstly release the shoulders with scapula retraction.

Then open the chest and shoulders with up and overs.

Activate the chest and shoulders with band pull aparts.

Finally switch on the scapula stabiliser muscles with dumb waiters.

Plantar Problems

Heel pain or pain in the arch of the foot is very common amongst both active and sedentary individuals.


It is generally an irritation of the plantar fascia/tendon which connects from the Achilles under the heel right up to the toes. There are also potentially bone spurs or nerve entrapments but I’m not going to look at those here. 


So what causes the pain? 

It can be caused by various things such as Overuse, age,obesity, hard surfaces, flat feet, high arches, calf tightness. But also it can be multi factorial and there may be more than one issue. 


Identifying potential triggers is a good start, it does not necessarily mean you would need to eliminate these triggers just find ways to manage them. As obviously if you spend a lot of time at work standing and that is a trigger, not going to work is not an option! However changing shoes, perhaps doing some stretching throughout day and adding in some strength work could help you manage it.


So let’s look at those management options.


Firstly footwear. Experiment with different footwear to see which makes it better or worse. Usually footwear with good arch support helps but different types work for different people. 


If a change of footwear doesn’t help, Orthotic insoles fitted by a podiatrist can help.


Stretching. This can be done a couple of ways. 


Putting the foot across the knee, and flexing the ankle whilst pulling the toes toward you stretches the entire bottom of your foot.


You can also try rolling the foot on a ball to stretch it out.


Stretching the back of the calf both with the knee straight and then bent can help to release the Achilles and therefore the Plantar Fascia.


Strengthening exercises include.


Heel raises. 


Single Leg Deadlift 


Squats on toe tips. 

React Fast

If you play a team sport you may be familiar with reaction training. Basically it’s training to react to situations quickly and continue play. 

For example in hockey or football you need to be alert as to where the ball is going, other players etc which could mean you have to stop and change direction quickly and frequently at speed. Being able to do this firstly makes you a better player but also having trained your body to do this means it is less prone to injury in this situation.

I also had a think about whether reaction training would apply to more solitary sports such as running or cycling and I believe the answer is yes. If you run off road then you constantly need to adapt to the ground underneath you, and if you’re a cyclist the terrain, other cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles could be moving around you that you may need to react to.

There are various ways in which sports teams add this into their training.

Here are a couple of simple ways you can help train your fast reactions.

  • Reaction ball-These little bouncy balls are odd shaped and when you bounce them on the floor they fire off in any direction meaning you have to react fast to catch it! 
  • Using a timer set it for say 20/30 secs then put it somewhere you can hear it but not see it. Sprint as fast as you can, then when the buzzer goes stop dead and change direction.


Pain got you Sidelined

If there is one thing I am totally obsessed with in training its Stability (I’m talking physical not mental we ain’t got time for that discussion!) 

Stability means strong and balanced. Strength is such an important part of injury prevention and of course in rehabilitation.

I see a lot of niggly injuries in my studio often hip pain, calf problems and lower back pain that can seem like they might put an end to that person’s sport. 

Often that person will have tried stretching to no avail, maybe it feels better for a bit but as soon as they run, cycle etc. the pain returns.

With some assessment of movement patterns it becomes clear that there is either a lack of strength, an asymmetry or a dysfunction in the movement pattern that although may not be repeated exactly in the sport will affect the biomechanics of that pattern too. 

You may think with a strong set of thighs on show surely that isn’t possible? 

The thing is, there is more to strength and stability than just the big muscles. We also have lots of stabiliser muscles that play a huge part in how those big muscles function.

I  often start with the hips as they are the centre of the body, and therefore responsible for a huge part of the stability of the whole skeleton. They stabilise the spine and therefore the limbs that attach to it. 

Hip Stability can be improved with some really basic (not necessarily easy!) exercises. 


Some of my favourites include.


Hip Hitch Single Leg Squat

Single Leg Squat -With a ball or TRX for support

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift – If you do have Calf issues try them on your tip toes to really work on your strength here. 

Curtsy Lunge to 1 leg balance. 

Recovery Rolling

If you take part in regular exercise or sport it is really important to do some mobility work to keep your muscles moving freely.


When we train, our muscles micro tear and then build back stronger. In order to maintain their length and therefore your flexibility we need to ease out the scar tissue that has repaired the micro tears. 


There are several ways you can do this but this week I’m going to focus on foam rolling and trigger point ball work.


Foam Rolling is essentially self massage. It stimulates the tissues, increases blood flow to the area which encourages the bodies natural healing process and releases the fascia-the long bands of connective tissue that connects you from head to foot.


So, how do you get started? Obviously you need a foam roller and you can get soft ones, hard ones, knobbly ones (stop it!) and it’s personal preference as to which one you like.


It’s really simple there is no great technique to foam rolling just do what feels good.


Today let’s focus on an area that most people find gets sore after a heavy training session -Legs!


The front of your thighs -Quads


and the back of your thighs-Hamstrings can be done by simply lying with your legs on the roller, your arms holding you up and rolling your legs up and down. 

The Glutes and Hip I like to do with a ball although you can do it on a roller. However, using a tennis ball, hockey ball or physio ball put the ball in your bum cheek and either sit or lie down and roll around a little on it. Rotate the leg in and out see how that feels, then move the ball further out towards your hip and start again. This can help to release the Piriformis which is often linked to lower back, hip and Sciatica pain.