Sunday, 17 February 2013

Give 'fitness' camps the boot!

Boot camps.  No longer associated with places where unruly teens go to find their manners, but a place to go to push your body to the extreme in order to lose that extra stone lingering around your midriff. 
The camps have become something of a ‘celebrity’ craze and not a day goes by without a C-lister donning a skimpy, unforgiving tank top and wincing as they hurl a tyre over their heads.
Every park and open space in the entire country seems to be filled with groups of panting, sweating and growling people being put through their paces by ex-military trainers. 
Boot camp weekends, weeks and even holidays are advertised everywhere promising guaranteed weight-loss, and pronto.
At first glance the grimaces and look of pain on the willing participants’ faces would have you believe that they were having an awful time and regretting ever signing up.
However these boot camps are becoming ever-more popular with people scrambling over each other to secure a place like they are gold-dust. 
Far from being a method of torture, many describe the experience as ‘euphoric’ as they see the results of their hard graft almost immediately, with many participants losing seven pounds on the usual seven-day stints. 
Reality TV stars are cashing in on the appeal of the camps, with numerous TOWIE stars embarking on rigorous regimes from the help of boot camp trainers to lose the ‘wine pounds’ before a holiday.
The expression ‘No carbs before Marbs’ is routinely heard on the show in the run-up to their annual Marbella trip, even though the stars admit they haven’t seen the inside of a gym since their last visit. 
Pictures emerged of TOWIE’s Frankie Essex and Lauren Goodger as they were put through their sweaty paces in Ibiza, and we were kept up-to-date with their rapid weight loss while they shamelessly plug the company on Twitter. 
It seems that the camps are becoming a pre-requisite jotted on the ‘to do’ list along with the bikini-wax, so that you can have the bikini body to die for without the slog of weeks of going to the gym.
Although the camps are great for losing those stubborn few pounds in time for a special event, for those that use the camps for quick fix weight loss it could be the exercise equivalent to the yo-yo diet.
This presents its own potential health risks as well as the negative effects it has on self-esteem and confidence.
Some participants lose up to two pounds a day on these intense courses, with most daylight hours dedicated to exercise and not much time for muscle recovery. 
It’s no wonder that the results are clear in the mirror after only a few days, but what happens when the bags are packed and the mud is washed off when you get home?
Keeping up a weight-loss of two pounds a week is unhealthy and unrealistic. 
Busy work schedules and social lives don’t allow for endless hours of exercise and even if the camp inspired you to undertake an exercise regime, that feeling of ‘euphoria’ is difficult to maintain as the pounds don't fall away as easy as they did before. 
This only leads to many slipping back into a sedentary lifestyle and so, just like the reality TV stars, it’s back to boot camp when the next holiday is booked.
This can create a vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain as fitness and health take the backseat in favour of a quick, trim bikini body. 
Boot camps can be a great way of kick-starting a regime when stuck in a fitness rut and the feeling of comradery can give you an instant confidence boost when you lack the willpower. But you need to take that willpower home with you. 
In many cases little aftercare is offered and this coupled with hefty price-tags of up to £1600 a week, it seems that some are relying on returning clientele.
As someone in the fitness field, I encourage new fun, fresh ways to exercise and that consistency is the key to successful long-term weight management.

Exercise: The new nicotine patch

We are bombarded with the health benefits of exercise and how it is an essential tool for weight management and overall well-being but it could also act as a natural aid to help smokers quit smoking, for good.
The study, conducted in Taiwan, revealed that smokers who participated in moderate activity were 55% more likely to quit than their inactive counterparts and, additionally, they were 43% less likely to relapse after breaking the habit.
The study examined the healthcare data of 434,190 people over an eight year period and has come up with some surprising results, for smokers and non-smokers alike. 
The study showed that those participants who became more active and who had quit smoking saw their life expectancy increase by 5.6 years.
However, smokers who didn’t quit had also reaped the benefits of exercise as it increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years.
The findings were presented at the World Congress of Cardiology and one of the researchers, Dr C.P. Wen suggested that if cigarette users can continue to exercise, not only they can increase the quit rate, but also they can 'reduce their mortality for all cause and for cardiovascular disease in the long-run'.
Wen claims that exercising regularly, as little as 30 minutes a day, should therefore be top priority for all smokers wanting to quit.
Dr Fiona Jones of the University of Bedfordshire has suggested a possible explanation for the success rate of quitters that exercise improves mood and reduces stress and so the effects observed in this study might be explained by these mood benefits helping to reduce cravings for cigarettes.
With 69% of smokers in the UK wanting to stub it out for good and the government investing heavily in anti-smoking campaigns and ‘quit kits’, these findings suggest that exercise should form an integral part of the process of quitting smoking and presents an inexpensive aid for remaining smoke free.
Therefore, the government should utilise these findings by promoting the benefit of exercise in its campaigns, not only to quit but to prolong life expectancy.
As research continues, exercise’s natural high could soon replace the gripping and addictive hold of the nicotine fix and keep you on the steady road to a longer, healthier, smoke-free life.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Detox Manchester Stylee

Glitter is swept away from dance floor, balloons are popped and empty champagne glasses chink in the sink.  That’s it for another year.  And boy, has your body paid it.  Your head gives you a good talking to with a stinking headache. Your stomach is throwing its dummy out of the pram for feeding it that dodgy-looking kebab.  And don’t even get started on your poor feet that look like they have been through World War II.  Don’t be expecting to put them in heels until March. 
Now, it’s time to pay penance for your crime of grievous bodily harm. 
This is not a generic guide on how to detox your body at home.  Oh no, my friends, this is the MM Detox.
So check out our top five ways to get your body back in tip top condition - Manchester stylee. 

Get down t’ gym

We are all aware of the benefits of exercise but research shows that those who exercise regularly have fewer toxins in their bodies.  Yoga is the perfect exercise for a detoxer as the twists squeeze your organs, forcing blood out and creating better circulation.  Yogic deep breathing also empties your lungs of carbon dioxide and fills them with fresh air leading to better overall health. 
So embrace the Upward Facing Dog and visit to find classes near you.

Stick on the kettle, love  

Much to the delight of tea-drinkers, a brew could be the perfect pick me up after a rough night.  Tea is full of anti-oxidants and hydrates you.  To earn extra health brownie points stick to the herbal kind.  It could also help your new year’s diet resolution as it fills you up making you less likely to over-eat. 
Grab a buddy and make your way to the Richmond Tea Rooms in the Village.  You can be happy in the knowledge that a natter over a quaint cuppa is doing you the world of good.  Just stay away from the cake.

Pass us the salt

Epsom salts should be kept within reaching distance of the tub beside your rubber duckie and throw a healthy amount next time you have a dip.  Hot water draws toxins out of the body to the skin's surface, while the water cools, it pulls toxins from the skin. Epsom salts augment this detoxification by causing you to sweat.
You can grab some from Holland and Barret on Market Street. A kilo is a snip at just under £9.  Bargain. 

You right scrubber

Exfoliation will help get rid of toxins from your skin and refresh circulation.  Now you have an excuse to treat yourself to a day in the spa. The rapid brushing movements with cosmetic products improve the lymphatic system, increase circulation and bring fresh nutrients to the skin's surface.  Now you have an excuse to treat yourself to a day in the spa.
Not that you needed one.
Try the £29 Sugar Kiwi Body Polisher at The Beauty Lounge in Radisson Blu Hotel on Chicago Avenue.  It is complete body exfoliation treatment from your finger tips to your toes, to eliminate dry, flaky skin and refine the skin's texture.

Go on my Sauna!

Sweating it out in a sauna is an ideal method for the elimination of the environmental chemicals stored in the fat cells under the skin. Regular use will help improve your energy level, attention span, and release from the joint and muscle aches.  It also converts the blood acidity into a higher alkaline level which decreases fatigue and improves the immune system.  An all rounder in my detox book!
Nip down to Nu Spa at the Pace in the Green Quarter and avail of their 2 for 1 spa days starting from £59.  It would be criminal not to.  

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Chocolate - friend or foe?

There’s nothing like a festivity to give you an excuse to have a good old party. Valentines, Easter, Halloween, Christmas and New Years… But what do all of these holidays have in common? Many of you will be thinking family, friends and a good old get together but the number one common factor that all these festivities share is: Overindulgence… and its right hand man – Chocolate. 
I am far from advocating the presentation of a platter full of carrot sticks, humus and delicious air to disappointed, salivating family members on Christmas Day, or throwing away the remainder of your Easter egg stash (we all have some lingering in the fridge), but when you are determined to eat that last spoonful of ‘Death by Chocolate’ even though you may well be the first victim of ‘exactly what it says on the tin’, there’s a problem. The zealous and crazed overconsumption of chocolate that occurs every quarter would suggest that it was going out of fashion. Not to be the Chocolate Scrooge, I am in agreement that the holidays should spell a break from the healthy and strict diets that we live from day to day but put it into perspective:
Valentines- The Good: Your few of your favourite chocolates that your other half bought you. Bless…
The Bad: The ten boxes of chocolates you have stashed under your bed that you bought yourself from the local garage.
Easter – The Good: A dark chocolate Easter egg that you nibble from the fridge over some days – just the right size for one.
The Bad: Going on an Easter egg hunt- in the supermarket. Pretending that you are buying those seven Easter eggs for your children/nieces/dog is fooling no-one.
Halloween- The Good: Saving the sweets for the trick-or-treaters.
The Bad: Chasing four year olds down the street after you had second thoughts about giving them your giant Toblerone.
Christmas- The Good: Passing on the after-dinner chocolates and choosing a nice glass of white wine spritzer instead.
The Bad: Your lower body becoming completely hidden under a blanket of shiny, metallic sweet wrappers. 
 By New Years the guilt of the year’s overindulgence has set in and as new workout clothes, diet books, exercise videos and detox plans pour off the shelves, we vow to make this year different- a new you. But by Valentine’s, with its velvet lined chocolate boxes and expensive candlelit dinners, the resolution is out the window… and the chocolate cycle continues.   
So here’s a thought. If we can recognise that we pander to the same routine year in, year out, then why not try something different. How many of you have sworn off chocolate until the evil Easter bunny comes a-hopping next year only to crumble at the sight of a caramel square? Don't wait till Monday, or after your holiday or even Christmas, start now! Don't live your life for holidays, live your life day by day, eat a balanced diet and get moving three times a week so you can be who you want to be and have the body that you want, all year round.  

Is the Media Helping?

As I scan the pages of Style magazine I come across the cutting opinion pages of top fashionistas and every well-manicured word that drips from their mouths is accepted by us mere mortals as gospel truth as they pit the latest fashions against each other in the ‘What’s Hot and What’s Not Barometer.’ 

As we crave to fit in with society, these barometers are our lifeline, saving us from the shame and disgrace of fashion faux pas. 
However, gone are the deep analysis of the wedge shoe and the recoiling of horror at the reappraisal of the all in one satin jumpsuit.

It seems that these ‘fashion gurus’, who have immense influence on their readers, have extended their criticism to what is under the clothes; us and our bodies.

Second to the unforgiving, unflattering ‘IT’ cut-out swimsuit that topped the list of what is HOT column this week was the new camera that makes you drop a dress size by instantly airbrushing your holiday snaps.

Praised as the best thing since gluten-free bread, this innovative piece of technology will save you months of hard work at the gym and gives you the green light to knock back all the cider you wish when on your hols… or does it?

This new piece of ‘genius’ just feeds on women’s desire to feel better about themselves without the effort that is needed to achieve just that.

The only thing that it achieves, however, is a head in the sand approach. It might make you feel good for that split moment when browsing through your photos when back in the dreary homeland but YOU will know that it is all an illusion.

But how would you feel if it wasn’t an illusion? If it was reality?
The flattering holiday snaps may be great to show to the family and friends but when you are on holiday you are still going to feel that dread as you unpack that itsy bitsy bikini.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not holiday pics; give yourself that boost of self-confidence the old-fashioned way, by working to drop that dress size yourself, so you can walk with your head held high as you walk down the beach not just when someone shouts “cheese!”.

Six weeks before you hit the beach, embark on your bikini mission and blitz that body.

A healthy diet and exercise regime will help you achieve that ‘one size smaller’ look without the price tag of an expensive camera and you will take home a figure to be proud of.

So… spend that money that you saved on the ‘nifty technology’ on a relaxing massage from a sexy Turk and a slinky new dress for your slinky new shape. 

Nobody's Perfect

How many times have you looked at glossy magazines with scantily clas girls; bums like peaches, washboard abs and Barbie busts? How many times have you thought, ‘If only I looked like that I’d be perfect… life would be perfect’?

Well folks, here’s a surprising piece of news… it is a massive FIB! Hours of airbrushing, touching-up and lighting have created these ‘perfect’ models, not good diet and fitness. Here’s a little perk… even models suffer from the horrid curse of cellulite! 

Just this morning I was watching an advert which featured a beautiful, flawless, 34-24-34 woman and what was she advertising?... Cream Crackers. 

The media use our craving for an ‘unattainable’ body to sell their products but we are so bombarded with these images that we now deem them ‘normal’ and see ourselves as ‘abnormal’ as we don’t fit into that mould. 

However, all you have to do is look at the ‘circle of shame’ that graces the same magazines, where we get a guilty pleasure in getting a glimpse of celebrities’ wobbly bits/cellulite/stretch-marks, to see that they are, in fact, just as ‘abnormal’ as us. 

What we need to do is destroy the dangerous myth of ‘perfection’ that has turned our lovely ladies into a nation of hermits, shunning their bikinis in favour for Victorian ‘all-in-one’ bathing suits, hiding their shapely legs in tights thicker than George Bush. 

Instead of looking in the mirror and think, ‘I’m never going to look like that’ we need to say to ourselves, ‘I don’t want to look like that, I want look like me’. This must be the first step; to be realistic. 

If you are not happy in your body, do something about it but don’t get disheartened by gluing your face onto Paris Hilton’s body and sticking it to fridge door. … Guaranteed you will get more acquainted with the inside of your fridge than before your diet. 

You are setting yourself up for failure from the word go. Instead, root through those old photos and find a picture where you looked and felt you’re most fabulous: this is your new goal so stick this up instead of a stick-insect. 

Remember, this picture is how you WANT to look, not how you ‘SHOULD’ look. It is a slight change in your attitude that makes a big difference to your success.

Liquid diet? Liquid hell!

A smart man once said, ‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going’ and the words of Earl Nightingale still ring true today- particularly when it comes to diet and fitness. 

Coming into the summer I have noticed a noticeable increase in ads for ‘quick-fix’ weight-loss… You know the ones- ‘I lost 4 stone in 5 weeks- find out my secret!’, ‘Ditch the gym and get ripped in 2 weeks with this one tip!’ and ‘Who has time for the gym? Lose 3 dress sizes in a month’. 

Although it is in our nature to go for the quick route, there is no point in papering over the cracks: Yes, you may see results but what happens when you stop taking the ‘miracle pill’ or finish the ‘liquid diet’? You will pile it all back on again… plus more. 
A close family member of mine participated in such a ‘liquid diet’ which is advertised in pharmacies across the country, in the hand of a slim size 8 model with a healthy glow and huge smile. 

Evidently the model didn’t do the diet herself. Instead of having the huge high watt smile, the mentioned family member was constantly moody and would throw massive tantrums at the sight of a chocolate bar. 

The ‘healthy glow’ in the ad was contrasted with her dull, yellowish complexion and hair loss… it effectively is glorified starvation. 

Although she reached her goal of three stone weight loss in almost as many weeks, she piled it all back on… and more.

 It wasn’t that she didn’t stick to the ‘aftercare’ diet, she ate fruit and low-fat food, her body just clung to every morsel that she put into her mouth for fear she would submit it to such starvation again. 

Now said person has been converted to a sensible weight-loss programme by joining a slimming class and embarking on an exercise regime and has lost 3 stone. 

Although it took her longer to lose the same amount of weight, gone are the mood swings and ill complexion; now she has her own ‘glow’ that would rival the ‘liquid diet’ model’s.
Although we sometimes lack the willpower to lose weight and get fit, time is the key. As long as you pick yourself up and learn from your mistakes then you can be where you want to be.

Health and fitness is an education and no ‘quick weight loss’ plaster is going to heal a lifetime of bad choices. 

Next time you find yourself saying, ‘I want to lose weight’, change it into be something productive; imagine yourself in 6 months as opposed to a month and you will feel such satisfaction when you reach your goal, knowing that you have achieved it through hard work and perseverance. 

When you get disheartened and the ‘liquid-diet’ model’s figure is tempting you to the dark side, remember the wise words of a modern guru, ‘Fitness - If it came in a bottle, everybody would have a good body’ – Cher.