7 Day Challenge – Dairy Free?


My last 7 day challenge was to try and go diary free for the week. The main reason for this, is that dairy or more specifically lactose is a known trigger for Psoriasis and having had “P” for a number of years thought I should give it a go. I’ve had tried elimination diets before in relation to my Psoriasis but dairy was one factor that I hadn’t tried as I felt that I had very little dairy produce in my diet.

How wrong I was!  It turns out I actually have quite a lot – chocolate, milk on cereal and in my protein shakes, cheese in sandwiches/salads/pizza, yoghurts…….

Over the week I tried a few diary alternatives – Almond, Coconut and Rice milks and “Alpro” Cheese.

The milks weren’t too bad a switch although I thought they all tasted “sweet”. This was fine for my cereal and shakes but I wasn’t so keen using it in my coffee.

The cheese tasted fine and was ok grated on pasta but it’s texture was a little rubbery and not great on a home-made pizza – it’s just not the same as mozzarella!!

At the end of the week it seemed to have made very little difference to my Psoriasis – I did have a feeling that it wouldn’t as I know my trigger is usually stress…..  at some point I’ll write a post on my ups and downs with Psoriasis.

Switching to dairy free products was a relatively easy process as there are plenty more options I could have tried – but as the health benefits of switching (for me personally) are very little and they tend to be a little more expensive I don’t think it is a habit I want to continue.

The experience has also shown me that I really do miss my chocolate and at least I know for sure that it is not affecting my P.

Now to think about my next 7 day challenge……   😉


Breaking/Making Habits – “Try” Before You “Buy”


Just before the new year I wrote a post on setting and keeping goals, in which one tip was to break your goal onto smaller “chunks”.

When you are trying to reach a big goal, sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming and doomed to fail before you even start. By breaking it down into smaller bite-size pieces, it becomes a lot more palatable and you are more likely to succeed.

Breaking a bad habit (or making a new one) is hard work! Studies have shown that on average a habit takes 66 days to be fully embedded (UCL, 2009) depending on the type of challenge and your attitude towards it. Bigger challenges that seemed “hard” took longer (doing 50 sit-up each day after breakfast), whereas smaller “easy” challenges (walking for 10 mins each day after breakfast) were quicker to embed.

In this sense 7 days may not seem like much however bear with me!

7 days may not break or make a habit, but what it will do is let you know if it is something that you want to do!

For some people trying to do something for a month is tough… Think of those “30 day abs/booty challenges” that many start but few finish.

On the other hand – one day simply isn’t enough of a challenge for most, as the majority of people would agree that they could do or go without something for a day (like their phone) as they can usually makes changes to their lifestyle for a day to ensure success.

7 days appears to be a happy medium ☺

It is generally long enough to mean that the new challenge has to take into account work and home life – so there may be a number of obstacles to overcome.

The trick is to reflect on your performance at the end of the week and assess how you did:
– Did you complete every day?
– What obstacles did you face?
– How are you feeling? Physically and emotionally.
– Do you want to continue?

The last two questions are key.

If you completed the challenge successfully but don’t feel any better for it then why continue?
Similarly, if you “failed” maybe once or twice, it may be that you have too many distractions or other more important things to do, or you may not currently in the right mindset to be able to succeed – so it would be sensible to postpone that challenge to see if it really is something you want, before trying again at a later date.
If you have learnt something from it – then it is not a failure 🙂

If however you completed the challenge and can see and feel a positive change then you may want to continue….. Maybe try a second week to be sure and if that is also successful, then try a whole month!

In this sense it’s a bit like try before you buy…… It’s a smaller commitment and will give you a good indication of whether you can, or even want to “buy” and make it a permanent change.

My Weekly Challenge

Last week I volunteered to cover a colleagues Bodycombat class. I was originally asked to cover with a circuits class, but being a combat fan and being a regular “warrior” I knew that this is not what the participants would want, so I set myself the challenge of learning the coaching aspects to be able to instruct the class.
I broke it down further learning 2 of the 10 tracks a day which would then give me two days practice at a full run through, or if it proved too much could then do circuits as suggested.
A week is in no way long enough to be an expert but I managed to do it and the class went well. I did make a couple of mistakes but the class knew me and we had a laugh about it afterwards.
The challenge has given me a huge insight into my abilities and I learnt a lot.
– I was able to make the time to study and practice on top of work and without affecting my social life too much.
– I was able to teach the class! One of my biggest fears was I would forget the teaching points and or the routine or wouldn’t be able to do the routine and talk at the same time. It was also the first time I had to consider instructor left and right! Very different to coaching circuits and Metafit.
– I loved it! I actually really enjoyed learning the routine and coaching notes, so much so, that I am now booking onto the instructor course as I want to do more!

My challenge this week is to do with diet.
Not a big change, simply trying to be dairy free – so no milk/cheese. Will let you know how I get on……

So what are you going to try before you “buy”?

Remember 7 days, keep it small and review at the end of the week.

Let me know how you get on.

For more tips on making and breaking habits head over to Huffington Post where there is a great article by Jeremy Dean http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2535787/slideshow/276495

My plans for 2015


When I look back over the last year – overall I’m really pleased with what I have accomplished.

In 2014 I quit smoking, started exercising properly, traveled to 2 new countries (Denmark & Singapore), started this blog, researched fitness careers and………


The time seems to have gone by so fast but I’m really quite happy at the moment and feel so much fitter and positive about everything.

So onto my plans for 2015……(well – the first 6 months at least)

1. Further reduce my current work.

After my last post I already made a start on my plans for the new year – putting in a request to reduce my hours at work and am chuffed that it has been accepted with effect from the end of January and means I will be doing my current job just 3 days a week. It’s a little scary as it is quite a big drop in my income, but is just enough to still be able to cover my bills and gives me the time to be able to spend more time on my fitness plans.

2. Find Part-Time work at a local gym.

Now that I’m qualified and reduced my hours, this will hopefully give me more flexibility to find some hours work at a gym to get me some experience, creating programmes, using different machines, dealing with client fitness queries etc.  I’ve already started applying to a couple and keeping my fingers crossed about one in particular. It will also hopefully make up for some of the income I’ve lost.

3. Gain a Personal Trainer & Group Exercise qualification.

Having enjoyed the Level 2 course, I was really keen to move on to the next level. I’ve “ummed and arrrred” whether to do this with college, online or distance learning and decided that the college option is the best for me at this moment as this gives me a set time-table. Plus I’ve made some good friends on the course which provides a great support network – we all want each other to do well. After that I’d like to learn some form of group exercise class like Metafit or Circuit Training  – currently still researching/deciding what I like the most  ;p

4. Improve blog/Create website.

I’m really enjoying writing a blog, but this year I want to put more effort into it. My problem is that I’m not sure where I want it to go….  so I’m doing a lot more research on other people’s blogs and PT websites so I can understand what other people do and offer, so I can then see what I can offer that is different but still provide readers and potential clients what they want/find interesting. It’s amazing the amount of information and sites available! My little book of ideas is filling up fast!

5. Get lean.

Although I lost nearly 5% of my body fat over the last 6 months – I want to drop my body fat to 10% or below. I’d really like to have abs and be toned by the time I finish my PT course: current thinking is..

Sunday – Body Combat (cardio)

Monday – Body Pump  (strength/tone)

Tuesday – Body Combat (cardio)

Thursday – Gym (lower body)

Saturday – Gym (upper body)

But will see how it goes – it may change once I start the PT course and learn more.

I’ve also started looking properly at my diet focusing not just on calories but actually the “macros” of these ie. % of calories from Carbs/Proteins/Fats etc and trying to eat “clean” as much as possible.


It’s a little daunting looking at it all written down, but in reality I have it all broken down into smaller chunks and everything is in my calendar to remind me of what I need to be doing each day – so as they say – I’m taking it one day at a time – with my eyes on the prize of a successful career at the end of it…



Variety is the Spice of Life – monthly update


Another busy month….

College has been great – I’m really enjoying the Fitness Instructor course and I am learning so much!

The number of students has increased since I first started so there’s now about 24 of us, so it’s a pretty big class. I think this has hindered their speed in completing practical assessments but overall seems to be going well.

My biggest worry was the Anatomy & Physiology section, not being great at science (even though I have Biology & Chemistry GCSEs and a Psychology Degree!) it was the sheer depth of knowledge that was required that surprised me – but I really shouldn’t have worried and passed with the highest marks in the class – such a swot – lol.

The practical assessments are also going well and I’ve been getting fantastic feedback from the tutors, so overall I’m feeling quite confident. One further exam to go next week then it’s the final practical assessments – so fingers crossed I will be a fully qualified Fitness Instructor by mid-December.

Work at the bank continues along the theme of “same old, same old” – ha ha.  My reduced hours/amended shift has now been confirmed as permanent and I’m so much happier.

My career plans for the future continue to expand and develop. My current plan is to get trained in MetaFit in Jan/Feb and start a Personal Trainer (level 3/4) course also early in the new year – so I’m busy looking at a number of providers, as I’ve decided I’m going to try the next course via distance/online learning  as it will be cheaper and I can also work at a quicker speed – now that I’ve got back into the swing of studying/revising etc.

I’ve also been playing with new logos etc for my blog/twitter – so will be uploading them soon – I think they look really fresh and professional – but any feedback/suggestions are always welcome.

Home & social life have been hectic as always with lots of meeting up with friends (old and new) and seeing family and had a great birthday (another year older/wiser).  You can definitely tell that my friends and family know where my interests lie now – so many cards/presents were fitness related – weights, dvds, shorts, t-shirts…..  brilliant!!

Also been trying some new classes. I returned to try “BodyPump” again and also tried a new class “Clubbersise” – both very different – but I’ve decided I want to try at least one new class a month and will post a review/description on here. I think it’s important that an instructor know what classes are available and what they’re like so that they can talk about them with clients etc.

Physically, I’m feeling really good – weight is still around 69kg but my body fat is now at 12.5% – so it’s still going in the right direction and my clothes are fitting so much better!

I think it’s really important to vary your fitness activities, first to make sure you don’t plateau/get bored, but also to keep your body guessing so it doesn’t get used to the same thing day in/day out.

It’s also good to remember that every waking minute does not have to revolve around exercise – fitness covers such a broad spectrum –  physical, mental, emotional……  to be truly “healthy” we need to make sure we cover ALL aspects of our well-being and I’m certainly doing my best to do that!

The Start of a New Career


Bloomin’ eck has it really been a month since my last post?! Oops.

Thankfully things should be back to normal now.

I had a great couple of weeks seeing family who are working in both Singapore and Thailand. It was a fantastic break with lots of sightseeing, eating and drinking.

Thailand’s islands and beaches are beautiful and the city is a sprawling, mad and busy metropolis. Singapore is completely different, wonderfully clean and easy and if I could, I would happily move there tomorrow. Everyone in both countries were extremely friendly and relaxed, which made for a relaxing holiday despite doing as much as we could fit in.

Also despite of the eating (food was fantastic and cheap – there wasn’t a meal I did not like) and drinks – not only did I actually come back the same weight but had even dropped a little (0.2% – lol) body fat!!  I was amazed, but think it was down to the heat, increase in water intake, the sheer amount of walking we did as well as the fact that 2 out of the 3 places we stayed had a gym……   that I actually used !!  This was something I had never contemplated previously, but proved to be excellent as it gave me something to do on a morning whilst waiting on the other half to wake-up, and they were all set-up brilliantly. Although they were small, they were perfectly formed with all the cardio machines you could want, free weights and more – I was a little jealous but it got me to thinking about what I could do with a small space if I was to eventually set up my own place !

Needless to say when I got back I couldn’t wait to start my Fitness Instructor course – in spite of the holiday blues while I was at work.

Although I had missed the first week, the tutor was welcoming and it seemed I wasn’t the only one who had missed it – but at least I was prepared and had read through the first chapter of the course book while on the plane.

Tuesday’s are class-room based – learning anatomy, physiology, programming etc with Wednesdays being gym based, learning stretches, equipment, exercises and so on.

The other “pupils” are a bit of a mixed bag, who are on Exercise to Music, Sports Massage and other courses, so the age spread is quite large which is good – though I am the 2nd oldest for the Gym Instructor course – ha ha ha – but I had a feeling I would be and though I am certainly not the fittest, I don’t feel out-of-place… thankfully.

Hopefully, I might make some acquaintances through it – being the first week some seem a little stand-offish especially the young “alpha male” types, but hopefully that will pass as the course moves on.

This week we’ve learnt about the major bones and joints, introducing yourself and how to instruct/coach form on pre-stretches and how to instruct the use of a couple of the cardio machines. It feels like a lot and we’ve even been given homework! First Assessment is in just 4 weeks !!  Argh!

I’m really enjoying it though and feel that it truly is the start of a new career which feels extremely exciting – it still feels a long way off before I can do this as a career but it’s just that little bit closer.


Where does the time go? Progress update

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Blimey – where is the time going? Has it really been 4 weeks since my last post?!? Shocking. Apologies for the delay – I must not be so tardy!

My weekend social life over the past few weeks has been a bit hectic, with trips to Edinburgh and Glasgow (for the Commonwealth Games – which were brilliant and a great inspiration), birthday parties, BBQs and such – to the point that my diet took a bit of a hammering in terms of cake, alcohol and well lets just be honest – everything! However I did try and compensate by being extra good for the rest of the week.

Fitness activity wise I have improved – currently doing “something” four times per week – two Body Combat classes, a session at the gym, and a home gym session, as well as a 1-2 hour walk on Sundays when possible.

The weights I’m lifting at the gym I have increased by 5 kg on each machine used over the last 4 weeks – which I’m quite chuffed about, and it’s taking me a lot shorter time to recover between Body Combat tracks – which is also great!!

Weight wise I’ve only lost 5lbs, but Body Fat has dropped from 16.5% to 13.5% – which again I’m really chuffed about, but on the other hand my body measurements are pretty much the same.

This is what I’m finding quite frustrating – I’m seeing lots of improvements in terms of body fat and weight lifted – but find it hard to understand why I’m not seeing them in terms of my measurements. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s muscle replacing the fat which is why I can see drop in % but not in inches and at the end of the day I’m still just beginning, the increase in muscle size will come once the fat goes…… this isn’t a race – I’m in this for the long run!

In terms of tracking myself – I’ve calmed it down a little – I think I was going a bit overboard with the amount of details I was looking at and I don’t think tracking to that extent is good for your mental health – I was starting to get a little fixated about it!  I read a great article on it here:


In other news – I’ve had my request at work to reduce/condense my hours approved – which means from September I will have a free day during the week which I am going to use as a study day as I have also registered on a part-time Fitness Instructor course at my local college !!!   Soooo excited !!  Eeek.

While I might not be seeing huge muscle gains – that isn’t my main aim – this “journey” (such a cliche!) is about improving my health and well-being, and maybe/hopefully helping others along the way – and at the moment I’m actually quite happy with it.

Wk 5 Stats update – baby steps


Like a baby learning to walk – so it is with my improvements……

Diet:  No real change – no cheat days – no massive nights out… (that will change next week – ha ha) I’ve started using the “My Fitness Pal” app to track my diet/calorie intake and I’m consuming an average of roughly 2000 calories per day. Considering the daily guide for men is 2500 as well as doing exercise I should be dropping weight – but on the other hand if I’m looking to build muscle then I need to be eating more!! I’m going to continue to use it and will post a full review once I’ve used it a few weeks.

Exercise: Yay! Back to 4 sessions – Body Pump, Body Combat, Home session (30mins x-trainer 20mins free weights), Gym session 😀  Feel much better for it – starting to get used to “Pump” and remembering what weights to use for each of the tracks etc. I do need to find an easier way to keep a record of it all though and make a proper “plan” for the gym/home sessions rather than just making it up depending on what I feel like.

Weight:  Lost again this week – now at 69.4kg – seems getting back to 4x exercise sessions and “normal”  food/drink intake does make a difference – it’s easy to think that “Just this once….” won’t do any harm – how wrong that can be!

Body Fat:  down to 14.3% – Loving seeing this come down each week – I must be doing something right!

Measurements: No real changes – HOWEVER – finally lost half inch off my waist !!!!!  Didn’t think it was ever going to happen.

BP/HR:  133 over 82 and 64 bpm – slight increase in my BP but still within “normal” range if at the higher end.

Steps:  Continuing to use my activity tracker and I’m now averaging 5300 steps per day – I even had one day that was just 300 steps short of the “required” 10,000 – if I’d checked it earlier in the day I would have done something to do the extra steps – lol.

Sleep:  Have really been focusing on my sleep this week – going to bed at 11pm weeknights and by 1am on weekend and I’ve been averaging 7 hours a night with around 3 hours of deep sleep (according to the tracker). I also tried using a herbal sleep-aid – which also seems to have helped as I haven’t been waking up during the night like before – the one night I didn’t take one  – I ended up waking up and lying awake for half hour. I will continue using them again this week – but then I think I will need to stop as I don’t want to start needing to have them.

Overall then – I’m quite chuffed yes they may still be baby steps – but that’s how we all start and as we start to grow in size and knowledge we learn and are able to make leaps and bounds.