Fit for life!

I spend a lot of time doing my best to keep fit and make progress in the gym. But it isn’t all just for vanity (a bit maybe, but not all!).

What I do in and around the gym helps keep me fit for life, and the benefits accrue in many different ways. They add up to enjoyment in pretty much every aspect of my life.

I wrote an article on this, its been published by the nice folk at WatchFit – take a look on www.j.mp/ChrisA29

Three stage fitness

I’ve written an article about a very simple approach to fat loss. One of my clients calls me the Patron Saint of the Bleedin’ obvious, and I think this article probably qualifies – at least as far as Stage One is concerned! Obvious, but true and sometimes it makes sense to go back to basics…

Take a look, its been published on the great WatchFit website – Click here

As always, I welcome comments, thoughts, questions via email.

New Approved Personal Trainers

As you may know, I am a Personal Trainer offering my services on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle advice to a range of clients.  I do this in person in South Bucks and Central London, and by Skype consultancy sessions elsewhere.

But I can’t be everywhere and available at all times, so to help meet the demand country-wide, I’ve set up a network of other Personal Trainers that I know and trust to deliver a high-quality, client-centred personal training service.  All on this network have the right qualifications and insurance of course, plus they have shown to me their ability to support clients of the age range that I tend to specialise in – my ‘quintastics’, those over 50 in other words!

Very few of these Fitness Over Fifty Approved Personal Trainers are themselves over 50, but they have all shown to me they can work successfully and built a good rapport with the client even if there is an age difference.  But they all work with clients yet to meet the golden half-century mark as well!

Dan squareThe latest additions to the register of Fitness Over Fifty Approved Personal Trainers are Felicity Day in Southampton (below), and Dan Wynes in Telford (right).  Both of these have existing clients, their own fitness experience and knowledge to make them worthy additions to the list of Approved Personal Trainers.   They also bring new locations served, as there were no previous Approved Personal Trainers living either in Shropshire or South Hampshire.

Felicity APT in FOFIf you are looking for some guidance, motivation or inspiration – whether its just a single piece of advice, a weekly training session, or something in-between, and you live near Dan or Felicity, then I suggest you check out their profile and email contacts on www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk/APT.

Indeed, you can see the full listing and details of Approved Personal Trainers that cover the country from Aberdeen to Devon (sorry Cornwall – and Northern Ireland –  I’m still looking!) by searching on that page.

I know the skills, enthusiasm and dedication of all the trainers listed, and I recommend each of them.

I hope you have a fit-increasing, fat-reducing sunny weekend – whether using a personal trainer or your own motivation!

TV Times

The TV documentary about me – called ‘Fat To Fit at Fifty’ – is now being shown by the Community Channel.  It tells my fitness transformation story and how I’m helping others down the same road.

There’s contributions from some of my Personal Training clients, magazine editors, and fitness professional Rob Riches – who is my own inspiration and the guy who introduced me to fitness in the first place.  There’s also views from top local PT Russell Lee, celebrity fitness photographer Simon Howard, and my workout buddy, fitness model Alex Hughes.

It is being shown at the following times on these channel numbers:

Monday 19 May – 11AM
Tuesday 20 May – 5AM

The Community Channel is on Sky 539, Virgin Media 233, Freeview 63 and Freeview-HD 109.

I hope you get the chance to watch!

A double World Championship – and another retirement!

MPW1402I came first in both the Muscle Model and Fitness Model categories, both for the over 50 age group of course!  It was an amazing experience, a draining day with some heavy preparation involved on both training and nutrition fronts over the previous 6 weeks, but well worth it when the results were announced at 10pm.

I’ve decided to ‘retire at the top’ and don’t plan on competing again – I have to say that ‘never’ is a big word, but I can’t see me changing my mind at this point.  I’ve had a great few years on stage, made some great friends doing it, and have accumulated a few British Championship and runner-up World trophies.  But now I have the double World Championship – with the biggest trophies ever! – I am happy to move on from posing competitions.

I’ll still be involved in fitness – in more and bigger ways than before, in fact – but the trophy cabinet is now full.  Many thanks to Angie Weston , Audrey Kaipio and Matt Marsh, plus everyone else I’ve met both backstage and onstage at Miami Pro, all of whom I hope to meet again in the gym someday!

I want to tell you a story…

Well, its not any story, its actually my story.

I’ve created a article for a Los Angeles-based web site called MyFitTribe, as they were keen to tell the world about an obscure 57 year old Englishman that they know.

Depending on how well you know me, and how many of those nearly three-score years  I’ve spent in your company, you may already know some of the info in the article.  Whether its all new or not, I hope its of interest.

http://bit.ly/1kRC7Hf

My thanks, of course, to MyFItTribe for asking me to do this.

Enjoy the article, any questions or comments as always, please, to Chris@FitnessOverFifty.co.uk

I’ll be back with more blogging next Friday (probably…).  And, as usual, have a healthy and fit sunny weekend!

Chris

Its the final countdown…

My blogs usually take the form of advice or suggestions, based on something I’ve discovered, or answering a question, or another form which I believe is of general interest.  It’s not usually about me, but this one is an exception, its all about me – but I still hope its of interest to others.
The reason for this self-centredness is that its just four weeks to go until my World Championships Fitness Model appearance on stage at the Miami Pro.  As a result, training and nutrition are both stepped a notch from this week.  I came 2nd in my age group in the same World Championship contest last year, and – guess what – I’d like to do one better in 2014!
So here are the key things I’m changing to my fitness routine.  And if you’re looking to step up your performance for a big event too, then maybe this could be of value to you.
Firstly, on exercise.  yes, morning aerobic system exercise every day, if possible.
And afternoon/evening resistance training is now ideally 7 days a week from now on, rather than the 5 days up to this point.  Cycling around Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators, then back to Arms again.  Elevators?  My word for ‘Legs’ in my alphabet-obsessed brain.
When is a weights rest day, I hear you say?  None are actually scheduled as such: but the upper body gets a rest when I do Elevators!  And the legs get a rest when I do an A-D bodypart.
On the nutrition side, trying to keep the sugars and fast carbs to twice a day – after training and at breakfast.  Overall calories are down, but within that, protein and unsaturated fats are up – can’t go wrong with grilled meat from the table-top grill and green veg!  I’ve not swung totally pro-saturated fats like many have in the fitness field – I still think they make you fat, so I keep off them (as I do sugar) but not to the extent it harms the protein input.
I knew you’d ask about beer and wine – well red wine is good for a couple of glasses a week, and I won’t be restricting that.  Beer is tough, I’ll cut it down some, but an exception is always made if it is of truly superb quality or exceptionally rare… – and combined with a social occasion that really merits it.
As I said, four weeks to go, and bodyfat to come down from 12% to 9% if I’m going to do well on stage on April 6th.  I hope the above steps will all contribute to that.  Wish me well for the final run-in…

The story of Anne and Eric

It’s Valentine’s Day as I write this, so I thought I would tell you about two good friends of mine, Anne and Eric. Very much in love with each other, they’ve also been just a little bit too much in love with fattening foods over recent years.

Five months ago, they jointly decided to do something about this. 50 year old Eric, at 5 feet 10 inches, weighed in at 260lb (118kg), and had just received a health warning from his doctor. The medic had noticed increasing levels of bodyfat in Eric over the years, and had just seen the LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglyceride numbers all outside the recommended levels. Blood sugar indications had put Eric as pre-diabetic.

Anne had recieved no such warning, but at 203lb (92kg) for her 51-year, 5 feet 9 inch frame, she also knew that she had some weight to lose. By both having the same weight loss objectives, and following similar programmes, they knew they could be mutually supportive and increase their chances of success.

So they took on the services of a dietician, and followed the prescribed diet carefully for those five months. Weekly meetings with the dietician ensured they continues to progress, and as Eric now says, they didn’t want to let the dietician down as well as themselves by having unsuccessful weeks.

Their diets were pretty extreme. In summary, they eliminated sugar and other simple carbs from their diets, and kept fats to a low level too. Protein was kept relatively high – but only high relative to the levels of carbs and fats, not high in absolute terms.

The key principle behind the diet uses a body process called ketosis, and here’s a simplified version of the theory. The body employs energy from three reserves created from the food eaten: carbohydrate – stored in the form of glycogen – protein and fats. In activity, first the body uses its glycogen reserves as fuel. Once this supply is exhausted, It turns to using fat and some protein as the fuel source following on from the depleted glycogen. Looked at another way, once there’s no fuel in the normal tank, the body turns to the backup full source to keep the engine running.

If simple carbs, sugar, are consumed again, then all fat burning stops – because you’ve put fuel back in the glycogen tank, and the emergency back-up supply (mainly bodyfat) is no longer needed. This state of depleted glycogen reserves, in order to compel the body into consuming its fat and some protein reserve to provide calories, is known as ketosis.

The majority of people rarely enter this ketogenic state – they eat sufficient simple carbs and sugar so that the body doesn’t need to turn to the fat reserve for fuel. In fact, they usually eat more than sufficient sugar and simple carbs so that their weight increases.

Following ketogenic diets requires a big change in mind-set. You have to start thinking of ketosis not as being the emergency, carb-depleted, short-term back-up plan, but as being the regular and normal state of bodily function. This wouldn’t have been a huge shift for the humans of between 10,000 and 200,000 years ago (who hadn’t discovered sugar), but it is for those of today. This idea that ketosis is the correct state to be in, rather than an emergency back-up, is – as I said – a massive mind-shift.

Away from the glance at science, and back to my chums Anne and Eric. Their prescribed ketogenic diets provided 800 calories per day on average. This was a protein-supplement based breakfast, a small protein bar at mid-morning, then a lunch consisting of green salad items, and a single portion of grilled meat or fish, with green vegetables, for dinner. Most green veg and salad items are high in nutrients, low in calories and zero in sugar – so they could be consumed in big quantities on this diet, including the substantial 7 ounces of lettuce they each had for lunch.

It may not sound wonderful, but it did the trick for them. He is down to 180lb (82kg), and Anne is 158lb (72kg) – a substantial weight loss which has pleased Eric’s doctor and has moved all Eric’s parameters back to the normal zone. Both are massively happy with the results, Eric has now reached his target weight and Anne wants to lose a further 13lb to take her to 145lb (66kg).

And they achieved this without exercise. That’s right, Anne and Eric didn’t do any exercise during the last five months. They discussed it with their dietician, who said any exercise beyond the normal activities in daily living was not part of the plan. Anne even cut down the activity of her twice weekly spinning session, in order to comply. The reason for this given by the dietician is that the low caloric input didn’t allow them enough energy for exercise, so therefore they shouldn’t do any.

What do I think? Well, in a perfect world, I would have made some changes. Both Eric and Anne say they have lost strength on this diet, which doesn’t surprise me – for they have lost weight (being fat and muscle), rather than fat alone. If I’d been advising, I’d have added some exercise, a daily session of light cardio and a progressive weight training programme to add back at least some part of the muscle lost, just a few sets of the key compound weight movements with regular, incremental increases in resistance based in improving performance. To fuel this, I would have upped the calories by adding more protein and introducing good fats, increasing the daily calorific value to probably somewhere around double the amount they consumed, changing the exact amounts over the months depending on progress, and with perhaps more food for Eric than Anne.

Away from my thoughts, and back to reality. Eric and Anne are now committed to maintaining their new slimline selves for the future. Eric is happy at a weight of 180lb, and Anne wants to lose a further 13lb to take her down to 145lb. And seeing the results first hand, I’m not going to criticise Anne and Eric’s resolve, commitment and health gains. They’ve done massively well. And, for this Valentine’s Day, they have just as much love for each other as before but less body mass on each of them, resulting in more love per cubic inch, and that has to be a good thing – as well as a corny way to end this week’s blog.

Have a loving, healthy and fit Valentine’s weekend!

Supplement time

I recently received an email from Kay, one of the readers of my regular articles in ultra-FIT magazine.

Kay asked me: I need answers to question about the role of Testosterone and Growth Hormone supplements efficacy in older people, what is your view? I am a doctor and the Internet publications on the subject are inconclusive. Would adequate protein intake and weight training be sufficient in stopping the muscle wasting of old age?

My response to Kay was:

Firstly on supplements: I’ll say up-front that that I’m not a fan of too many supplements, I believe that most people should concentrate on getting their diet right first. Supplements are only a valid supplement to a good diet. I wouldn’t touch Testosterone or Growth Hormone, ones you mention. Having said that, I do take three supplements on a regular basis. I choose the ones from True Performance Nutrition, as I am an Ambassador for the brand – I’ve found their products to be the highest quality and generate results, and I am a 100% believer in the people involved in the brand and development of their products.

I take BCAA 4:1:1 capsules which I take before and after training to supply specific proteins to help build and repair muscle. The three BCAA’s are the most fundamental amino acids used by the body for muscle repair and growth, and the numbers 4:1:1 refer to these tablets delivering a four-fold amount of Leucine compared to the amounts of the other two BCAA’s, Isoleucine and Valine. This is the ratio that I believe has found to be the best to promote delivery to muscle cells.

My second supplement is Tri-Creatine Malate which helps the body to deliver energy to the muscles, further assists muscle growth, and also helps control muscular fatigue and pain. The name here refers to the structure of three Creatine molecules linked to one molecule of Malic Acid – a combination determined by the company to be the optimum for delivering results.

Finally on supplements, I like and use the RIPPED product, and use it pretty much daily to help keep body-fat levels under control. I’ve used RIPPED since pre-launch, as I was in the trial group as the over 50′s representative back in September 2012. I now use it most days of the week as my only consumed item before morning cardio – so that’s usually 4 or 5 days per week. In the two-month run-up to my World Championship contest in April 2013, I used it every single day – and am convinced I would not have achieved my lowest ever levels of body-fat that I had at that time without my pre-cardio RIPPED. And even though I’m not heading for another contest at present, I still take it on morning cardio days – and as always come home to a great high-protein, high-carb breakfast afterwards.

I also use Whey Protein Shakes from True Performance Nutrition as part of my regular diet, including that breakfast I mentioned. I don’t really call whey protein a supplement, as such, to me it is basic nutrition, as without protein shakes I couldn’t make the levels of protein that I want to consume daily (delivering 40% of my calories). My favourite flavour is Chocolate Mint, and two scoops stirred into my 60g of breakfast oats, nuts and fruits gives me the protein I need to add to the carbs from the oats and fruits to get my preferred macronutrient split for breakfast. An extra benefit is that it turns the oats into a delicious chocolatey flavour! Another favourite of shakes is Banoffee, which is my preferred post-workout flavour and I take a couple of scoops at that time with an apple and the BCAA’s I mentioned before.

Secondly, on exercise: I’m a massive fan of stopping muscle wastage/atrophy in old age through 40 minutes of cardio and 5 minutes on an Abs:100 set pre-breakfast, then an afternoon or evening resistance training bodypart split workout – cycling around days for Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators (that’s legs!). For each of those body-parts, on the appropriate day, I do 3 sets of 6 exercises, plus a final set of a seventh exercise on more of an endurance basis. So, for example, that’s 19 sets (spread across 7 exercises) for back in workout B, the same for chest on workout C, and covering all body-parts cycling through A-E, then back to A on day six. All done on an incremental progressive overload basis, where every time I do an exercise I make it that tiniest bit harder than the previous time. Much more on all this on my website.

Thirdly, nutrition: You don’t ask about this subject, Kay, but – in one sentence, keep the protein, healthy fats, natural products and fibre up – and keep the calories down, especially those from processed food, sat fats and sugar.

In summary, I’m a massive fan of stopping muscle wastage/atrophy in old age through good nutrition, daily cardio and challenging resistance training – adding (if you like) reasonable amounts of quality supplements. This forms my recipe for keeping fit into one’s old age.

Thanks to Kay for her question, and everyone please keep those questions coming to Chris@FitnessOverFifty.co.uk – including if anything in the above needs a bit more detail. Have a fit and healthy weekend!