Monday, 30 December 2013


Life is full of choices...

We need to make choices all day every day just to make it through our lives. What time we get up from bed will determine whether or not we get to work on time. How we choose to greet people will effect our own relationships with friends, colleagues and strangers. I could go on forever but i wont, as long as you get the picture? Choices are everywhere in our lives.

Now in terms of nutrition... or more importantly successful nutritional strategy, choices are THE make or break for your physique goals... and more often than not we are making poor choices with regards to the foods and drinks we eat daily. From the moment we leave the house in the morning, modern day humans are bombarded with advertisements (visual stimulants) suggesting to us what we may like to eat. We are ambushed by ridiculously good smells that seem to whisper in your ears as you walk through the shops trying not to think about food.

                           'Magnum are the new world champions of ambush food marketing'

Just the other day i was on my way to get some nespresso capsules (Yes, im that guy) and suddenly i had an overwhelming desire to maybe go to the cinema. Completely bizaare thought? Puzzled by this, i then looked around the corner to see that Gourmet Popcorn were blasting out caramel popcorn odour at unsuspecting shoppers and the smell had reminded me of popcorns deadly association with watching movies. The queue was filled with depressed, sorry-looking people, nobody dared look up or at each other. The time was 10:45am, thats the sad modern reality of how and why people eat crap.

                     The association between popcorn and the cinema is deep-rooted in our culture

Relax you're on holiday

In my opinion (and experience) holidays are by far the most dangerous time for a "nutritional slip" 

Nutritional slip - a non-offensive way to describe a person eating their own bodyweight in chocolate, cheese, bagels and alcohol.

                                                      A typical holiday breakfast buffet

So as an experiment, i decided to write the latest installment of the blog whilst on my Christmas holiday to Bali. Before i write more you have to know that i have a history of "losing it" on holidays and coming back 5kg+ heavier. Looking back at that now it seems like a strange behavior for someone who usually prides themselves on the way they live, work, train and has an ongoing goal of inspiring others. Anyway, this time i leave the airport not feeling like i want to drink and eat an awful lot outside of my usual routine and i want to share that with readers of the blog.

Situation 1: The airport

The airport is perhaps the only place on earth that can make you want to eat a cinnabon cake or drink a pint of beer at 10am. You know you dont need to have it, you actually admit to yourself you dont really want one... but "its the airport" or "im on holiday" mode kicks in and were off on an empty calorie binge that can last hours! 

Choice 1: Burger King Vs Sushi

There are many options in the airport but the above choice is one that is close to my own heart. If you dont usually frequent burger restaurants in your usual working week then why visit one in the airport? seek out a sushi or salad bar and make a better choice.

                                      Try to avoid burger and fast food restaurants in airports

Choice 2: Orange Mocha frappacino vs Espresso

There are approximately 1700 coffee establishments in every airport, thats a real statistic. I love coffee, a little less than i did a few years back... but i still cant completely get myself off the black gold. So i often find myself helplessly lured by the smell of it and the hope of a caffeine 'buzz'. Only 2 good options exist in these places and they are either Black coffee or water! Nearly every other option has too much sugar, dairy and calories to be called a drink (more like dessert). In truth, you are probably better off drinking water pre-flight, keep yourself hydrated! 

             In the words of King Arthur (guarding the holy grail in Indiana Jones & the last crusade)
                                                           "You must Choose wisely"

Still have some change left in your pocket..?

Why not donate it to the various charities on planes that take spare coins? The reality is you will buy a couple of small bags of percy pigs that you dont want because they were by the cashier and now you have no change left... winner winner.

                            Extra change in your pocket at airports usually leads to percy pigs

                                                   Put the pigs back... Think of the kids!

Situation 2: Holiday evenings

Almost every international hotel restaurant will have choices. Choose a place that has a good menu, find out what the local specilaity is - it will be plentiful, probably well made and may also be cheaper than imported produce.

                                     Jimbaran Bay in Bali has world reknown fish restaurants

If youre a typical Brit you will seek out a full english breakfast, fish and chips or a steak sandwich. They are all solid meals but for the sake of this blog and a change of holiday habits i would suggest looking at other lighter options on the menu like local fish, chicken and salads - keep it light if possible.

Situation 3: Holidays Breakfasts

At hotel buffets i would usually say go for the lean protein source and/or some fruit/natural yoghurt but i was limited this holiday to a (very nice) continental breakfast of fruit, fresh orange juice, assorted pastries and bread and coffee. I made peace with myself by limiting the pastries and having black coffee. Although this is usually a lot more carbs than I would usually eat at breakfast, it's very good quality and psychologically makes sure that I put in a 20 minute workout before or after it.

                                                          My daily breakfast in Bali

Situation 4: Holiday snacking

If youre on a relaxing beach-type holiday then there is a lot of lying around, and thats good - a holiday should by a break from your usual routine. My usual life involves being on my feet for long hours and for long periods of the year so im not guilty to put my feet up when I have the chance. 

However, this presents a new challenge of 'boredom eating' - meaning there is not much to do except eat and drink to pass the time away. This fake 'hunger' can mean you spend the whole day gorging on crappy foods whilst not buring the extra calories off. My tactic and advice would be to visit the local supermarket and stock up on enough nuts, fruit, water and even diet soda (if you have to). These foods will keep you from craving the crisps, sweets, chocolates and sugary drinks that will sabotage your waistline during the lazy holiday daytimes. Just keep in mind calories in/calories out - If youre not using energy there is no need to put it in.

Situation 5: Holiday drinking (alcohol)

I have mentioned in a recent blog that "Alcohol is the single biggest factor in people not achieving their physique goals". This is something that ive noticed in clients over the past 8 years and in my current client base today. Those who drink moderate/heavily 2/3 times per week (supreme genetics depending*) have very little chance in getting into great shape.

*I have met a handful of people over the past decade who can drink/eat daily whatever they want and not put on any bad weight. I used to be quite envious and i (of course) would love to have their genetic luck in that respect, who wouldnt? But i believe gaining fat and weight through bad habits in a good measure that we are doing something wrong. The internal organs of the supremely genetically-gifted will still be taking the same punishment through a lifetime without the visual barometer and decline of the external structures (bodyfat, skin, etc). So long term I believe its bad news not to see the fat you gain. Just my opinion.

                         Its been proven (time and time again!) that drinking is bad for you!

Everyone has their own stress relievers and tolerance level regards alcohol so i will only offer my current strategy towards drinking alcohol.

Taken from "Wooden" (a book describing the habits and practises of John Wooden, a legendary US college basketball coach):

When consuming alcohol:

- Enjoy the first (Youve earned it)
- Sip the second (Make it last)
- Decline the third (there is work to be done tomorrow)

The justifications in (brackets) are my own. I feel the sentences are stronger when they are backed up with solid reasons of why they are important. Saying catchy phrases and mantras is great but you have to make them real. The Wooden rule on alcohol is something i will be adopting in the new year along with great work environment, structured/purposeful training and getting back into top shape being my major goals for 2014. Alcohol and the bad habits that follow plays no part in those goals. 

The subject of alcohol, being such a major contributor to poor gym results (on many levels) is one i will cover sepertely in a future blog.

Thats all for this blog, thanks for reading. Dont forget to like, share and please comment too. I know some really good blogs that ended recently because the writers were disheartened by the lack of comments and feedback. Real story - i started following a kettlebell training blog which was excellent and the guy stopped because he felt nobody was reading. It was a shame to read his final blog describing his efforts and how they were a waste of his time.

Have a great Xmas and New year, if youre in Singapore i will see you for the the January Green & Lean fat loss challenge which runs from 6th-31st. If you are not, you can still join us, get the information sent to you and run along side the competition. Contact for registration details.
Who's in? I am.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Power of saying NO!

Hi all,

The first of my New Year habit changes is to start writing the blog more regularly. Without boring you about the reasons why i had stopped, some of them are:

- Changing my laptop to an ipad
- Becoming very busy at work
- Not really having much to complain about (no ranting worth blog material)

Part of my new approach to work is to schedule in time to do the things that are enjoyable in this job; Reading, writing, planning, learning and basically becoming a better coach and now recently manager of fellow coaches. This blog is me getting a headstart on 2014.

The power of NO

If you've seen the outstanding Jim Carrey film "Yes Man" the you will know the incredible power that comes from just saying the word YES. In the movie, Carrey's character becomes almost a recluse to his friends after a divorce until he is dragged along to a 'Yes' seminar. This leads him into new adventures, promotion at work, saving a man from suicide and falling in love. If you never saw it, its worth 90 minutes of your life.

Today im going to argue the there is equal power in the word and action of NO, especially when we are involved in a diet or our recent 21 day Green/Clean eating challenge. 

"Success during a diet challenge will depend on the the things 
you don't eat rather than the things you do"

The above statement is just my own way of thinking when it comes to getting good results on a diet plan. With all the literature on fitness/health and millions of different diet books/systems available, I believe the majority of us know what it means to eat well or more accurately what we foods need to avoid to get in/stay in reasonable shape. The best way to succeed on a diet challenge is to ban certain foods from your life and set rules for a different periods of time (21 days, weekends, parts of the day, etc) to suit your individual lifestyles and schedules. 

Say NO to:

1. Bread

The problem with bread is that it contains allergens like wheat and gluten and most varieties are high GI and enter the body quickly as sugars. Bread is really not a great food to have in the diet if you are trying to drop bodyfat quickly. The other major issue is that its so readily available to purchase, easy to eat "on the go" and its cheap like most poor quality foods. 

Saying NO to bread means saying NO to the stores that sell sandwiches (e.g. Starbucks, 7/11 type shops) - staying out of these places is key to dieting success.

2. Dairy

I could probably write a whole blog on the perils of eating dairy; for a long time I've been suspect of its negative effect on clients physiques. Approximately 85% become intolerant to lactose after the age of 4 and consuming too much can cause bloating and digestive irritation.

Like bread, there are an abundance of cheap dairy products available on the high streets today including cheeses, yoghurts and a large variety of 'healthy' drinks. The contemporary cultural phenomenon of coffee houses play a huge part in the increase of the average waistline measurements. I would actually be very comfortable saying that 99% of products sold in coffee houses like Starbucks and Costa are detriment to having a good physique, and these places should be avoided to ensure better dieting success.

"99% of products sold in coffee houses like Starbucks and Costa 
are detriment to having a good physique"

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is a poison. Read that again and enjoy your pint! We routinely subject our bodies to a weekly dose of toxins through Alcohol and its making us fat and tired. Im not here to argue about the potential fun and social enjoyment you can have whilst sharing a drink with others, I'm here to say eliminating alcohol out of your life will make you slimmer and healthier, fact.

"Eliminating alcohol out of your life will make you slimmer and healthier, fact"

Over the past 8 years of watching some clients transform their physiques, i would say the biggest and most immediate changes came from those individuals who stopped drinking alcohol. Also, from personal experience i have cut down my alcohol consumption in the past 5 years and noticed a massive change in the quality of my sleep (especially on the weekends) which has resulted in better mood and energy at the start of the week.

Alcohol will effect sleeping patterns and energy 

4. Sugars

The very nature of the Green and Lean diet means there will be very low to zero sugar. There is no need for me to elaborate this point as its obvious.

The most recent experiment

Starting on November 21/2013 approximately 10 workmates, friends, clients, client's spouses started a 21 day Green and Lean Challenge, with everyone who wanted to be involved received a link to my previous blog on the subject:

My colleagues, housemates and PT clients were involved in daily conversations with myself regards tactics and menus but for the most part we all communicated through a Whatsapp group text titled "Green 21" where we shared pictures of green meal ideas and funny stories to keep each other entertained.

Bread free burgers are pretty awesome!

The results

Here are the final weight loss totals for the participants:

NW - 77.5kg to 72.9kg (4.6kg loss; BF% loss of approx 3%)
BM - 69.9kg to 61.8kg (8.1kg loss)
DC - 81.4kg to 77.8kg (3.8kg loss)
HK - (2kg loss)
TK - (5kg loss)
SH - (7.6kg loss)
AH - (3kg loss)
OA - (5kg loss)
LP - (3kg loss)
NL - (2kg loss)
CF - (2.5kg loss)
JC - (6kg loss)
NF - (3.5kg loss)

Total KG loss was 55.3kg at and average 4.25kg per person 

Just looking at the numbers above says this was a worthwhile exercise! However, with the challenge being 21 days of 100% strict green and lean eating - Interestingly, every single person failed the challenge except one!

Of course they did not FAIL as such, with most reporting 95% adherence throughout the 21 days... and this number seems enough to get a great result.

Did we learn anything new?

Looking at the 21 days and group as a whole i believe the following points are worth mentioning:

- You can actually create some fantastic meals during this challenge
- Creating a social group will result in better success when dieting
- Modern day social living/pressures have made it almost impossible to get into great shape
- We now see food as entertainment, this is a major issue when on a diet
- Hard boiled eggs are a easy, fantastic daily snack to stay on track with a clean, healthy diet

- From my own 3 weeks, i created a delicious new shake that i will continue to use as part of my diet. Here are the ingredients:

- Handful of raw nuts (cashews, pistachios or almonds)
- Splash of organic coconut oil
- Scoop of Pea protein (Vanilla)
- Avocado (half or whole)
- Dash of Cinnamon

Mix with cold water and ice for thick delicious shake.

What now?

After speaking to the majority of the group post-challenge, the major theme and lesson seems to be that of HABIT CHANGE. Most or all of them have committed to following the principles in some form, with a few promising to to revisit the 21 day challenge in January to start the new year when UFIT launch a massive GREEN and LEAN 2014 weight loss challenge.

Join UFITs Clean and Lean challenge in January!

For everyone who is interested please visit the UFIT facebook page for details or contact

I definitely encourage all readers of this blog to try it along with our group in January, however the Diamond can only be won by Singapore residents who can commit to the weekly weigh-ins at our Amoy street studio on Saturday mornings through January.

Thanks for reading and i will hopefully see you for the GREEN and LEAN CHALLENGE on January 6th.

Have a great Xmas Break and a fantastic start to your New Year!