Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Top 10 Ways to create healthier habits

Have you tried to change your lifestyle for the better in the past, and been unsuccessful? As a Personal Trainer and Healthy Habit Coach I find the most common mistake made by all of us is expecting too much.

Life is busy: Work, kids, relationships, monetary concerns, as we set about changing our lifestyle typical goals include: Lose weight, get fit, be more active, and eat less. The issue here is that although these aspirations are well meaning they are simply too big. The key with habit making is small/ micro goals which are too easy to say no= setting yourself up to succeed! We all like to succeed!!

1: Keep it simple:
This is incredibly important. Understand completely what you have asked of yourself. For instance: If you want to lose weight, the habit you chose to focus on maybe “eat one extra vegetable per day” This will work for a number of reasons: fibrous vegetables have little energy/ calories, the bulk of them can help to displace more energy dense foods. For many this will be achievable.

How can I do this?
Cut vegetables into batons twice weekly, store them in the fridge in portion size containers and eat for a snack. As Bruce Lee famously said: “Simplicity is the key to brilliance!”

2: Keep it quick and easy:
The habit you choose should be so easy you can’t say no. It should be completed and logged in a matter of minutes each day. A busy individual, who does little activity, with lots of commitments who wants to move more, is likely to struggle to walk for an hour a day.

How can I do this?
Plan your day so that you have time to take the stairs on the way in and out of the office, likely to take a couple of minutes (provided you don’t work on floor 38 at Canary Wharf).

3: Keep a record:
One of the main objectives with habit forming is consistency; we are all the sum of our small repeated, effortless actions! In order to monitor consistency you could keep a log, a simple tick sheet, like the one below does a great job.

How can I do this?
Download and print the habit tracker below. Amazing what a simple tick in a box does for adherence (remember gold stars when you were at school? –the principle is the same).

4: Keep a trigger (AKA a reminder):
How many times have you told yourself “Today I’m going to…………” in order to become healthier. The problem is that unless we commit to when this will happen, it’s likely that we will get caught up on other things (walking the dog, feeding the children, visiting relatives etc.).

How can I do this?
All of our lives follow a similar pattern, take a look at your day… you already have loads of habits, such as: Wake up, shower, have breakfast, brush teeth……… Attach the new habit to an existing one, I like to call this HABIT STACKING…. Soon, you won’t be able to old habit without the new

5:  Keep it small:
They say size doesn’t matter, it’s certainly true when it comes to habits.
It's much better to create a small sustainable habit than to ask too much. How many times have you tried to change without success? It's a good idea to ask less of yourself and be kind as you set about changing your habits. Small habits can always be made bigger!

How can I do this?
If the habit you’re working on takes more than 2/3 minutes a day you are unlikely to sustain it! –Enter failure, and all the emotions that go with it! Perhaps take a look at some of your previous attempts to change and ask yourself why it didn’t work, the likely response is: “It’s too hard! I can’t do it!, I don’t like it!, I don’t have time!“Incubate the habit, make it bigger over time!”

6: Keep consistency (Routine):
Our brains like repetition, it views repetition as safe! Lets take advantage of this!

Remember: “A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly, and tends to occur subconsciously”

Think of the brain as a field. If you tread the same steps often enough, you create a pathway.
Try taking a walk in a field but don’t use the footpath, see how strange it feels!

How can I do this?
Make sure your habit can be practised daily at exactly the same trigger. This will build Neuro footprints in our behaviour/ pathways.

7: Take a break, once a week:
Yes! That’s right! Choose one day a week and have a break from habit building and tracking. You did great for 6 out of 7 days so take a day off (of habit tracking only, everything else stays in order). When you return to tracking the following day, it will be with new enthusiasm. Remember: “It’s so easy you can’t say NO!”

How can I do this?
Choose the day, and take a break from habit tracking. It’s that simple. For many people it will be a Saturday. Remember this isn’t a carte blanche to eat whatever you want and spend the day on the sofa, you don’t want to waste the effort that you’ve put in this week ;-)

WATCH OUT… Weekends are dangerous as our routine is often more relaxed. The weekend begins Friday so each Thursday, think about how will you manage the weekend? What are the boundaries make sure these are clear every Thursday!

8: Keep it real:
That’s right Gangsta! …………
It’s Friday, you look at your tracker and you have managed to complete the habit twice this week (SIGH!). So revisit the habit: Why hasn’t it worked? Too complicated? Takes too long? It's too expensive? Then revise the habit.......

How can I do this?
Make the habit and your expectations of yourself smaller, SET YOURSELF UP TO SUCCEED. Once you have consistency (12 out of 14 days) you can make the habit bigger and more challenging.

9: Rinse and repeat:
You know you should be drinking around 3 litres of water a day, but you were smart, when you set this habit up! Having tried to increase water intake and given up before, you chose to have a glass of water before your first cup of coffee each day. You’ve smashed the habit for 14 days, you’re proud and you know you can do more. 
Go ahead, progress… maybe you will have another glass of water before lunch?

How can I do this?
Review the tracker, 12 out of 14 is your pass to progress the goal. Keep progressions small to ensure success.

10: Keep trying:
So you tried, it went wrong. Spend some time looking at what it was like to complete the habit in real life. Sometimes we have lofty aspirations and our daily life gets in the way. What was the obstacle and why did it get in the way?

The thing that separates those who succeed from those who do not is successful people don’t give up! Check out this video link, where James Dyson speaks about failure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5eIyRVpwmc

Feel free to use this link to get your own habit Tracker:

If you have any questions or would like to talk to me about how you can change your habits, long term – then why not get in touch? Call me on 01273 258212


Andy Payne is a Personal Trainer, based near Brighton in East Sussex, and founder of Three Pillars of Fitness, Exercise : Diet : Mind. You can follow him on Facebook and twitter 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Top 10 Tips for losing weight:

Losing weight is never easy, keeping the weight off is even harder. I lost over 8.5 stone over a two year period, that was over 10 years ago and have maintained a healthy weight and lifestyle ever since.
I have a real understanding of the challenges individuals face and my top 10 tips for losing weight are based on my own experiences as well as the experiences of my truly exceptional clients.

1) Hydrate: (water means life!):
It’s basic but vital, it’s all around us, it’s FREE and it contains no calories….

Your body is using water from conception until the end of your life. Water hydrates the brain, lubricates skin and tissues, eliminates toxins helps digestion, regulates body temperature, generates energy and reduces water retention. Our requirement for water varies, somewhere between 2 and 3 litres (total hydration) per day is ideal. Water is the simplest, best way to hydrate.

The human brain is exceptional BUT it confuses thirst with hunger, so when you feel hungry hydrate first, then reconsider.

In one study, middle-aged overweight and obese participants who drank water before each meal lost 44% more weight than a group who did not.

Another study also showed that drinking water before breakfast reduced the amount of calories consumed during that meal by 13%.

More information can be found here:


2) Find a way to move more: (with resistance):
Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, kettle bells, the method is unimportant, move your body and include a resistance. This will help you to increase muscle mass, speed up your metabolism and BAM! You can eat more!!!!!
Increasing muscle mass means your body is burning energy quickly and efficiently, it also means activities of daily life (ADL’s) become easier (think household chores, playing with the kids, even getting in and out of you car!).

According to www.webmd.com , every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day.

More info here:


3) Fruit and vegetables: (Yep old school, but it works!):
I like to call these little beauties “natures jewels” They pack such extraordinary qualities, water, fibre, colour (anti oxidants), vitamins and minerals.“Natures jewels” will fill you up without wasting valuable calories.
-       Fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates are 4 kcals per g,
-       Proteins are 4 kcals per g
-       Fat is 9 kcals per g.

“I don’t like fruit and vegetables” I hear you scream!  So try something new – sweet potato, doughnut (or Saturn) peaches, grilled pineapple are all delicious.  On a budget? Try a wonky vegetable box from your local supermarket, just as nourishing and there’s an element of fun in seeing a tomato with a nose, which looks like a face J

Tip: Keep fruit and vegetables whole or make home made smoothie (not juices- as you will be throwing away much of the goodness).


4) ) Forget starvation:
Drop your calories too low and your body senses a threat to life. In response it down regulates many functions to preserve life. A body lacking energy will behave as such: slow, lethargic, threatened, your hormones will be all over the shop and your metabolism will slow in order to cope. Understanding your energy requirement is critical to optimising life, use the link below to calculate how much energy you need:


5) Sleep (Yes rest can help you lose weight):
You eat well, you move lots, you hydrate but you’re still not losing weight? How much do you rest? Most adults require between 7.5 and 9 hours sleep per night. Sleep is really important, it’s an opportunity for you to process thoughts, rest and repair, balance hormones (particularly leptin and ghrelin AKA hunger hormones), which aid weight loss.
Sleep is the way your body preserves itself. You need it!

Read more here:


6) Celebrate small successes:
The mountain that separates where you are today and where you want to be, is huge right? So celebrate when you reach base camp. Having made the journey from obese to where I am today I know that If I had focused on the long term goal (over 8 stones/ 100lbs) in weight loss I would have become pretty disheartened every time I made a mistake. To succeed we must learn to enjoy small successes: walking for 5 minutes extra per day, preparing dinner using single ingredients, drinking more water.

Find a way to celebrate these successes in a healthy manner, try to avoid rewarding with food. Celebrate with a new album from I-tunes, a pair of shoes, or a new dress. If these things are out of reach financially then keep it simple, a five minute break after you have got home from work doing absolutely nothing but drinking that hot cup of tea, a relaxing bath, a walk around your garden… basically you choose something that makes you feel good!


7) ) Build a lifestyle (not a DIEt)
I hate the word DIEt… it contains the word DIE, that can’t be good! Over the years I have seen clients, family and friends setting themselves up to fail, trying the latest fad DIEt. How long do you think you can live on cabbage soup? Seriously?

Build a lifestyle, which you are happy with, one, which supports your goal, one that you can stick with! Yoyo dieting (diet, give up because its too hard, diet again) does more to damage health than to sustain it, put simply your body (particularly hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin) become out of balance and cortisol / adrenaline (stress hormones) are elevated.


8)    Eat slowly (slooowwwwllllyyyyyy):
Walk the dog, do some exercise, make dinner, pick the kids up from school, do some work from home, check social media, take an obligatory selfie, be a Wife, Mum, Sister,  Daughter Friend. Our whole lives seem to be geared around rushing…Rush, rush, quick, quick!

When was the last time you compared the time taken to prepare a meal with the time taken to eat it? SLOOOOWWWWWW down, according to http: //www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/slow-down-you-eat-too-fast#1 eating slowly and mindfully can help you eat less but more importantly it enhances the pleasure of the dining.


9) Snack wisely (include protein to boost satisfaction and reduce cravings):
When time is at a premium, snacks offer consistent energy throughout the day, for many people fruit is the snack of choice, a great choice at that, but even better if we can add a bit of protein! Studies have found that increasing protein can reduce cravings by up to 60% Great snack choices include: cottage cheese, peanut butter, nuts and hummus, all of these can be added to a fruit or vegetable to make the Perfect Snack. – Watch point: getting the volume of a single snack right is really important (for many a snack of 150-200 kcal is a good place to start)


10) Be patient (learn to fail!):
It’s 10 years since you were in shape, it’s going to take more than 10 minutes to get back there. The road to health is a long one, with many twists, turns and opportunities to screw up: Birthdays, Weddings, Funerals, Graduations, Easter, Halloween, New Year, Christmas, WEEKENDS. Learn that any form of self-improvement requires mistakes. Learn from your mistakes, embrace them as experiences, move on and stay consistent.

More about failure here: http://jamesclear.com/plan-failure


If you would like to talk to me about how you can loose weight and keep it off for the long term – then why not get in touch call me on 01273 258212


Andy Payne is a personal trainer, based near Brighton in East Sussex, and founder of Three Pillars of Fitness. You can follow him on facebook and twitter  

Friday, 17 March 2017

What is Trigger Point Pilate's?

Trigger Point Pilate's is most often taught in a group environment, it combines traditional Pilate's core movements and Self Myofascial release principles.

These principles are most beneficial for those seeking relief of chronic pain, those aware of muscular tightness (hyperactive muscles) and those wishing to restructure the body or improve posture.

What is Myofascia?
Myo means Muscle and Fascia means band. Fascia is a system of connective tissue fibres which lay just under the surface of our skin. Magnified fascia looks like a net of tubes which hold water. The role of fascia is to stabilise, enclose and separate muscles and internal organs. It's a highly active tissue full of nerves. Fascia recoils with every bump, bruise and injury, it also reacts to repetitive and functional movement.

Fascia is often referred to as a "net" or "web" (similar to a cobweb)  which surrounds, intertwines, protects and supports every part of the body, from bones, muscles fibres, organs, arteries, veins and nerves. Think of this net as a single net stretching from the finger tips, across the chest and from the brow to the tips of our toes. Fascia creates our form, it shapes and supports us, it also affects our breathing, posture and emotions.

What are Trigger Points?
The researcher Dr Janet Travell, defined a Trigger Point as "A hyper irritable locus within a taut band of skeletal tissue, located in the muscular tissue."

Most people refer to a Trigger Point as a knot, although no physical knot exists. These "knots" are painful spots which form in the muscle fibre or fascia. They occur when the portion of muscle fibre which contracts (Sarcomere) becomes overworked and "locked" in a shortened state, that restricts blood flow. Trigger Points form in areas of the body which are susceptible to strain due to postural or physical activities.  Certain sleeping and sitting patterns where a muscle is shortened for  long periods of time can also cause Trigger Point activation. These, locked shortened, knotted sarcomere need to be released!

Trigger Points will often cause stiffness and weakness of the affected muscle and restrict it's range of movement, they will also be tender to palpitation. Tenderness in response to palpitation will disappear once the Trigger Point has reduced in size. Pain as a result of a Trigger Point will be deep and dull, rarely burning or tingling.  Trigger Points can develop in any muscle in the body.

How can we tackle Trigger Points?
Trigger Point Pilate's movements and compression can be an affective solution. During our TPP class a number of tools are provided:

Massaging your muscles with foam rollers and prickle balls softens your myofascia, so that the structures within-contracted muscle fibres- can receive oxygenated blood. This technique is called Self Myofascial Release (SMR). Massaging our tissues can return them to a a lengthened flexible state and can reduce adhesion's often caused by trauma and hyperactive tissues. Practising SMR on a regular basis can result in increased circulation, reduction in pain and and improvement in range of movement. Pilate's ball (Bender Balls)  and Resistance bands are also used to facilitate a supported stretch to lengthen muscles. 

Who will benefit from the class?
- Drivers
- Desk workers
-Those suffering pain
-Individuals of all ages regardless of fitness 
- People who suffer with postural imbalance
- Anyone with muscular restriction or lack of flexibility
- Stressed individuals needing to relax and breathe more easily and counter busy lifestyles