tt_orange_rgb-01

Welcome to my blog

 

Keeping you up-to-date with Total Training news and my thoughts and opinions on all things health and fitness related

By megansianprosser, Mar 21 2016 09:48AM


Last week, in my opinion, was a significant one in the world of health and fitness. From a variety of different directions it was acknowledged that, a) we do have a health and fitness crisis on our hands in the UK (levels of activity too low and levels of obesity too high), b) we know things need to change to address this, and c) there are lots of people who want to make this change.


Firstly, the controversial sugar levy on soft drinks. I appreciate there are holes in the policy e.g. that it doesn't apply to fruit and milk based drinks, unless they dilute the drink which would actually make them healthier- less sugar- and then they would be applicable for the tax. Or the fact that it could increase consumption of diet drinks that have artificial sweeteners in like aspartame that are thought to be very bad for your health. But the overall message that soft drinks with high levels of added sugar are bad, is a point that needs to be amplified, as sugary soft drinks are the biggest contributing factor to child obesity. And, if you increase the cost of a product/ service people buy less, so it's definitely a positive step in my mind.


Plus it's twofold; the money generated from the tax levy will go towards funding more sports in schools. So to all those people who are slating the sugar tax, just think, even if the tax doesn't have that much of an impact on level of consumption at least money it generates will get more kids active and playing sport. Now surely everyone has to agree that's a good thing?!


The second thing that happened last week was Public Health England released an updated Eatwell Guide. This is a user friendly, visual set of guidelines outlining what a healthy diet should include. The previous version was out of date and therefore probably not used that widely due to lack of current relevancy. The new guide (although I don't think bagels should be included in the list of good carbs) is pretty good and I really think it could help many people understand what a balanced diet looks like and where they need to make changes.


Finally, it was Sport Relief over the weekend, which saw the country get sporty to raise lots of money. There were over 1,000 events across the country, with the public walking, running, cycling and swimming thousands of Sport Relief miles. As well as the more extreme challenges by the likes of Eddie Izzard's Marathon Man – an epic 27 marathons in 27 days and Jo Brand's Hell of a Walk – 135 miles in 7 days!


I love the concept of Sport Relief as it gets people active and participating in sport to raise money so more people can live a happy, healthy and active life. The money is split 50/50 to help people in the UK and people in the world’s poorest communities. This year they've so far raised an amazing 56 million!


So all in all, with the doom and gloom that seems to fill our news feeds, last week was a breath of fresh air, and made the future look a little less rotund and a bit more active. Let's hope it wasn't just a one-off week!



By megansianprosser, Feb 4 2016 09:54AM


Entomophagy, the act of humans consuming insects. Although the norm for many cultures (around 80% of the world's population) across South America, Asia and Africa, most Brits' exposure and knowledge of eating creepy crawlies starts and finishes with having watched celebs eat them as a challenge on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And for them, the idea of it isn't an appealing one.


However, with the detrimental environmental effects (air and water pollution, deforestation and overfishing) of farming such vast quantities of livestock 'needed' to fulfil the growing demands for meat and fish, then eating insects might be the answer. It is a cost-effective and eco-friendly process and they're packed with protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre and healthy fats.


The availability of insect based products in the developed world is increasing and cricket flour is one of the main ingredients you'll see. Smash Nutrition have Madagascan Vanilla and Peruvian Cocoa flavoured protein powder made from natural protein sources including soy, casein, pumpkin seed powder, spirulina and, of course, cricket flour. Protein bars using cricket flour are also popping up for your 'on the go' insect fuelled protein hit!


We are yet to see much of a take up of using insects as a main component of a meal, though apparently cheesy locust croquettes are pretty tasty! There is now a restaurant dedicated to entomophagy in Pembrokeshire called Grub Kitchen and Wahaca did feature grasshoppers on their menu for a while, but apart from that, insects are a rare sight on most menus.


I personally don't have a problem with the idea of eating insects, I might not hanker for a cricket 'burger' in the same way I do a tuna steak, although I don't know that as I've never had one. But I can see the massive benefits and I care about our planet, and if we don't change our eating habits, with an increasing global population and an ever increasing meat and fish consumption, then the impact on the environment could and will be catastrophic.


I understand not everyone will like the idea of eating insects, but if we don't shift our stubborn and unfounded views and move this very sustainable, eco-friendly and nutritious source of protein away from a taboo food and into an everyday food then we're asking for trouble. Many of us don't think twice about eating seafood which isn't dissimilar to insects in many ways, and who's had those delicious garlicky buttery snails in France?


There are other ways in which you can help as well:


- Go meat-free for at least one day a week. There are plenty of non-meat products that contain protein that aren’t insects, think lentils, beans, soya, nuts and seeds.


- Buy ethically where you can. Fairtrade helps human rights of producers, Organic helps environment sustainability, and Farm Assured helps the quality of food, animal welfare and environmental protection. Also, think about about buying local and seasonal products, reducing the 'food miles' of your groceries.


- Don't waste food! This is one of my top pet hates. If you have leftovers, great, keep them and eat them. Don't let food go off, and if it is a little after it's best you can still use it. I'm not talking gone off meat and fish but over ripe fruit and veg - great for smoothies and soups, stale bread - great for bread crumbs etc. And remember you can pretty much freeze anything, there's really no excuse!


Now, anyone for some mealworm fried rice?




By megansianprosser, Dec 1 2015 11:43AM

Most of you will have heard of clean eating, a term and lifestyle choice that's grown in popularity over the past few years. Clean eating is pretty much exactly what it says; eating cleanly by avoiding 'dirty' foods such as anything processed, and opting for whole and fresh foods.


With Christmas, comes a month of social events, indulgence and eating and drinking scenarios out of the norm. So can you get through the festive period without becoming a 'dirty eater'?!


I'm an advocate of clean eating and I do pretty much stick to it. I rarely eat processed foods, I cook most of my meals from one ingredient items, as in from scratch: no packets or jars, and I eat whole foods and lots of fruit and veg. Having said that I'm also an advocate of the 80/20 diet, being good 80% of the time and then letting your hair down 20% of the time. It's all about balance, don't you know!


So how am I feeling about the festivities on the horizon, as there will be way more than six days (20% of the month) where there is festive fun to be had.


Well firstly I'm excited – I love Christmas. And secondly a little anxious of the inevitable slip up in my health and fitness levels. This anxiety has been amplified the last couple of years by worrying about squeezing into a made-to-measure bridesmaid dress for a wedding on New Year's Eve last year, and this year heading on a beach holiday on the 27th December. But I do think you can have a clean Christmas.


Eating clean doesn't mean no treats or tasty stuff, it just means thinking and picking a little more wisely when it comes to food. Clean eating isn't about calorie counting, it's about the quality and the balance (in terms of macronutrients e.g. the ratio of carbs, proteins and fats) of food you're putting in your body. So there can still be over indulgence but just the right type of over indulgence! Think salmon rather than salami, dates over doughnuts, roasted chestnuts over chocolates, you get the picture.


There is one thing I haven’t mentioned though, alcohol. Clean eating, unsurprisingly, encourages reducing alcohol consumption… I'll just make sure I drink it in that 20% 'letting my hair down' window and it'll all be fine!




By megansianprosser, Oct 23 2015 04:52PM



Yesterday, Public Health England (PHE) released their long awaited report into sugar. There's no surprise in the fact that it clearly states that sugar consumption in this country is out of hand and if action isn't taken, weight gain and health related issues will increase even further from the current worrying levels we're already at.


With almost 25% of adults in England classed as obese and significant numbers also being overweight, and treatment of obesity and its consequences (type-2 diabetes being one of the most significant) already costing the NHS £5.1bn every single year, if we let this problem escalate further there will be not only catastrophic health, but also economic issues.


The Scientific Advisory Committee of Nutrition (SACN) have recommended the public to halve their sugar intake, so that just 5% of their calories come from sugar. This currently looks pretty unachievable without some drastic change. One can of fizzy drink contains way over the amount of sugar to stick to the 5% recommendation.


I strongly believe that Government, organisations such as PHE, SACN and food manufacturers have a vital and urgent role to play in this battle, and if the recommendations in PHE's report, listed below are fulfilled then this would definitely be a start to addressing this problem.


* A sugar tax between 10% and 20%

* Significantly reducing advertising high sugar food and drink to children

* Targeting supermarkets, takeaways and other food outlets special offers and promotions

* Setting clear definitions for high sugar foods to help create better regulations

* Sugar reduction in everyday food and drink

* Ensure the sale of healthier foods in hospitals and other public places

* Ensure training in diet and health is delivered to influencers of food choices in catering, fitness and leisure sectors

* Continue to raise awareness of this issue to the public, health professionals, employers, the food industry and provide and encourage practical steps on how to reduce sugar intake


The last point above touches on this: it is also down to individuals. Yes, the public needs more information and needs educating, and to not be tricked or persuaded into marketing traps e.g. low fat foods being healthy options when they're actually loaded with extra sugar. But, ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their own health and look after their bodies.


The sugar crisis is pretty much due to added sugar – yes, all sugar is sugar. However when you have a piece of fruit yes, it contains fructose but also vitamins, minerals and fibre. Plus not many people eat excessive amounts of fruit like they do cakes/ biscuits/ fizzy drinks etc. Processed sugary foods like that have very little, if any nutritional value; this is why they're known as “empty calories”.


So, guess what? Yes that's right, if people avoid/reduce processed foods and eat natural unprocessed foods then this problem would slowly but steadily disappear!


Read more on this on the Guardian and BBC websites.


By megansianprosser, Dec 2 2014 09:26AM

Now December is here, your calendar is no doubt starting to get very full with Christmas parties, lunches, dinners and drinks. Which means, unless you have the willpower of a saint (which I assume is equally as endless as their patience!), you will eat less healthily and more, and of course drink substantially more over the festive period. And, to make matters that bit worse, due to all the lovely socialising, you will probably have less time to exercise and train. So you, like the majority of people, will lose a little bit of fitness and put on a little bit of weight.


So what can you do about it? Well, reading the numerous articles addressing this issue that are out at the moment, there are loads of tricks and tips of how to avoid the dreaded Christmas weight gain; from wearing your tightest fitting clothes to social gatherings (rather than your elasticated joggers like so many of us do) to encourage you from eating too much from the buffet table, to the '3 rule' that includes taking 3 steps away from any food so if you want more you have to walk back to it, or take 3 deep breaths between each mouth full, or my favourite, take 3 sips between each mouth full. Although the '3 rule' may work in making you eat less, the first one might make holding a conversation with someone rather difficult. The second might make you look like you're trying out some breathing techniques you picked up at pre-natal classes, and the latter, well would you rather be the person who ate too much at a party, or the drunk?


I believe the way to deal with the festive season is to embrace it! Accept you might put on a little bit of weight but one bad month out of 12 isn't going to have a catastrophic impact on your health. I'm not saying go for it hell for leather. Yeah try and not have a mince pie for breakfast (although I think an advent calender chocolate alongside a healthy breakfast is completely acceptable!) and don't 'write off' December. Ok you might not fit in your usual 10k run on a Wednesday evening but you can still get up 30 minutes earlier that day and do a 5k run in the morning. December is busy so fit in small amounts of exercise where and when you can; nip out at lunch for a power walk, it's better than nothing. It's about time management.


I love December. It's by far my favourite month of the year. You get to spend lots of time with all your favourite people, you get to eat lovely food, drink mulled wine, but what I love most about it is that people are happier. Strangers smile at each other, even wish each other a Merry Christmas. So please don't dread December, enjoy it!



By megansianprosser, Oct 6 2014 02:28PM


I like reading about it, I watch programmes on it (loving Great British Bake Off at the mo and always a MasterChef fan), I talk about it (a lot), I cook it, and most importantly, I consume it. At my flat, friends' houses, restaurants, cafés, pop-ups, parks, I'll consume it anywhere really. I have to admit, I love and am a little obsessed with food!


I have always loved food, but in recent years my relationship with it has changed. This is partly due to being more involved and interested in it due to becoming a fitness professional, which has led me to understand and eat a more nutritious and balanced diet. But also the increasing availability and easiness to develop and nurture this inherent interest of mine. On social media I follow food reviewers and bloggers, health food shops, restaurants and the list goes on. Instagram provides millions of 'food-porn' photos to inspire and drool over. And yes, I am one of those annoying people who post photos of my dinners, often featuring quinoa, tofu or fish– you get the picture!


I get over excited about all food, but I love healthy eating. I'm a fruit and veg fan so that helps, but I genuinely would rather cook a cauliflower base pizza than a normal one. I prefer wholemeal rice/pasta/bread (I'm now making my own bread rather than the rubbish in shops or ridiculously over priced artisan bread you can get). I consume a ridiculous amount of kale, mainly because I grow it so have an abundance of it. I prefer almond butter to peanut butter, rather dark chocolate to a kitkat, cook with coconut oil, have at least 10 different types of nuts and seeds in my kitchen, and so on.


I really enjoy healthy eating and it's not just because I think that's what I should eat. Yes that helps and encourages me as I know the 'fuel' you put into your body will effect what you get out, performance wise and generally with the way you look and feel: but I actually like it.


However, as with many things in life, it's all about the balance! Every nutritionist would advise variation in your diet, this helps you get the range of nutrients, covering all the macronutrients – protein, carbs and fats, as well as micronutrients – minerals and vitamins, that you need. So use your common sense to both enjoy and eat a balanced healthy diet.


I find planning, preparing, cooking and eating food is a pleasure. The process is relaxing and enjoyable and I love the social aspect of it; I rarely do anything sociable that doesn't involve eating!


This is why I find the thought of Soylent, a nutritional drink used as a substitute for food, absolutely bizarre. Soylent is not marketed as a weight loss product. It's for people who don't want to or don’t have time to make or eat meals. In their own words it was “developed from a need for a simpler food source... after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money spent creating nutritionally complete meals. ” But, if you hadn't guessed from my rambles above, I think there should always be time made for the love, appreciation and enjoyment of food!




By megansianprosser, Jun 10 2014 08:44AM

It's getting to that time of the year when people are planning, packing and heading off on holiday, so the health and fitness world decides there's little else to talk about than getting that beach body we all dream of. But in reality if you're flying to a sunny paradise any time soon what can a few weeks of this beach body regime really do?


Of course if you hit it really hard, both training and nutrition wise, you will no doubt improve matters. However, if you go with one of the faddy 30 day challenges that require little time and effort will the 'challenge' pay off and make a noticeable difference?


Maybe a little bit, but with health and fitness as with many things in life if you try to cut corners and achieve something in less time than it normally takes the results aren't really of any worth.


So what's the answer? Basically there isn't a magic answer, yes if you started training and looking at your diet a lot earlier in the year giving yourself plenty of time you could get 'real' results but with the longest day around the corner, summer is already here and probably your holiday too.


So I suggest you get excited about going away and yeah try and ramp up your training, eat healthier but how about also spending a small amount of time learning some basic phrases in the local language for where you're holidaying? Because I'm pretty sure the effort to appreciation ratio will be better for that than the results of a quick fix beach body regime!

RSS Feed

Web feed