Wednesday, March 20, 2019 / Singapore

Is weight loss all about balance?: The see'em-saw'em paradox

Tipping the scales

You've probably heard health and fitness professionals talk about 'balance' when it comes to weight loss right?  But actually, if you kept things balanced, you're probably not going to lose weight.   When think about it, there needs to a be shift otherwise they'll be no movement.  
I use the analogy of the seesaw below.  If both parties on either of the seesaw weighed the same there would be no movement, ie balance (effort = result). 
 If we imply effort at one end and weight loss/weight gain (result) at the other end and put in little to no effort (eating more and moving less), then the see-saw negatively tips away from results.

Now, if we put in bags of effort (increase the 'load') for a short period of time, the results will show in quick time too, great! However, quick results tend not to last too long. So yes, you will 'see'em' but not for long and you'll have only 'saw'em'.

Tipping the scales in your favour

Let's use a slightly different strategy.  Let's increase the time line (ie the level), keep the effort the same and we'll see results and we'll continue to 'see-em'.   This way it's easier to tip the seesaw, as we're using a longer 'lever' (time), we won't need as much effort in one go, we'll save energy, both physically and mentally.  We'll more likely to stay motivated and more likely to sustain healthier habits, ultimately staying where we want to be, for longer (hopefully forever).

The importance of Why

When starting out with any objective, it is important to remember why you're doing it in the first place. With reference to weight loss, generally speaking (in one form or another) it's to increase confidence and likely to feel better about yourself.  On the diagram below, I've called the effort axis on right, the 'Why? axis'.  When the seesaw is tipped negatively with the results end low, your why is important to give you the initial motivation to make a change.  As the axis decreases with the increase in effort, hitting your target may start to become a little bit trickier (mainly because you'll be feeling more content and happier with yourself) and so, it is still important to keep in mind your why, to continue giving you the motivation to reach the end result.

Effort = results

At the end of the day, if you're about to start losing weight or you're struggling to lose weight, it is going to take effort and honestly, the result will be relative to the amount of effort you put in-that goes without saying.  All you have to do, is work out why you want to lose weight.  Then work out fast you want results and then finally, how much effort you want to put in to see'em, so you won't have just had to saw'em. 


Sunday, March 3, 2019 / Singapore

Five reasons why you should want to do exercise

I can’t be arsed

Ever had that feeling where you really can’t be bothered to do anything, let alone put your body through an hour of physical punishment. I have and I’m supposed to a ‘happy-clappy’ fitness professional. Truth be told, if I can’t tear my arse off the couch, then I won’t train. I’ve excepted that, sometimes its ok not be bothered. Granted it’s never gone more than two days, but if I’m not in ‘training mode’ then I won’t beat myself up for it. Far from it. I actually tend to go the other way and eat a load of crap while I’m at it. Which actually, motivates me to get my arse in the gym the next day.

Five reasons why it's important to exercise

1: To look good: Right, let’s be clear, if you’re wanting to start a new fitness regime it’s more than likely because you want to look good in whatever you wear. Which ultimately means you want to increase confidence and theres nothing wrong with that either. Feeling comfortable about your appearance will help with a lot of things; feeling confident and respected at work, be more outgoing, help you meet new people (possibly a new partner), wear new outfits you may normal not. Whatever reason it is, be confident in the real reason. I have clients say they want to ‘feel fitter to climb the stairs’, for health reasons, to increase energy etc, which granted I’ll except, they’re some legit reasons. But really, 99.9% of the time, the main reason for starting a healthier lifestyle is to look good.

2: Increase heart health: Theres loads of studies demonstrating the benefit of exercise on heart health which ultimately means less risk of heart disease and heart failure. Cool thing is, it doesn’t just have to be long slow and sometimes painful running to get some cardio. By lifting weights, you can get the heart racing higher much faster than a 45 minute jog. Even if you don’t want to ‘bulk up’ (which doesn’t just happen overnight from doing weights by the way folks), just aim for higher repetitions, lower weight and do less sets.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is being bounced around a bit a the moment too. You can read more on that here. But its another great way of getting the heart rate up quickly into that ‘fat burning zone’ in a reasonably short session time. HIIT is basically pushing your body hard for a short period of time, say 10-60 seconds with a short amount of rest in between sets of exercises.

3: Decrease mental stress: A little bit of stress for everyone now and then is a good thing. The stress you put on your body through exercise, increases level of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps aid in providing us energy and to burn fat. Prolonged levels of cortisol can be bad and can linked to other organ disfunction. But the post exercise high is well worth it. After your workout you’ll decrease cortisol and increase all those ‘happy hormones’ like dopamine and serotonin. Other great ways of decreasing cortisol are eating better, yoga, meditation, or basically anything that chills you out, like hobbies you enjoy. For me it's reading.


4: Meet like minded people: The social benefits of exercise are becoming more recognised now. The point is, sometimes it's hard to motivate yourself. So knowing there's other people you can look forward to seeing in a class, makes the pain of exercise much more bearable, knowing that others are in it with you. Also, at home not everyone can be supportive. So hanging out with like minded people like a Personal Trainer or Fitness & Nutrition Coach can give the missing support and motivation needed to push you through barriers.

5: Learn something new: The mind thrives on learning an developing. Ever watched a kid learning something new, it’s amazing. Challenge yourself and your body, by learning new movement patterns which will help with injury prevention, increase strength and help get through any plateaus. Seek help from a fitness professional, so they can mix up your training programme or workout. If they’re any good, they’ll help with the nutrition side as well. So, if you know what better choices there are, the easier it is for you.

If you’re finding hard to get those results then get in touch and lets have a chat to see how we can help.

Phil Snowden
The Fat Loss & Performance Coach

Six essentials for mens fat loss

On paper losing weight is easy, consume less energy (calories) and expend more energy (activity and exercise). That’s it, job’s done, nothing new there. Anyone spouting ‘that’s it’, is naive. You’ve only got to the look at the statistics of overweight and obese across the world - hell just keep your eyes peeled next time you’re in a supermarket.

There’s so many factors effecting fat loss. In my opinion, it starts with timing. If you’re overweight or you have any goal you want to achieve, you’re waiting for the right time to take action. You see, you already know you need to eat less and exercise more, right? But what you’re waiting for, is a reason to take action. Common reasons I hear are;
  • Taking a different perspective after a close friend or family member, has passed away, due to lifestyle related factors. 
  • Someone to cause you so much offence, it makes you so pissed off and upset, you want to change. 
  • An old photo you’ve seen of yourself in a much better shape. 
  • The reality of the shape you’re in now, after seeing a recent photo of yourself. 
  • A holiday coming up, you don’t want to feel embarrassed about wearing your trunks in public, beer belly out. 
  • Wanting to be a role model and super hero for your kids.
It goes on and on, but there will always be that ‘time’, when something just ‘clicks’ or you ‘snap’ and say “enough’s-enough”
Take action, start using these essential six to start seeing some fat loss results:

1: Get rid of cereal for breakfast

Start the day right, make sure you get some protein with your breakfast/first meal of the day, (it doesn’t have to be an early morning meal - it’s whenever works best for you). You’re after around 20g to 40g of protein. This doesn’t mean cut out other food groups either! The calorie counting advocates, will say “it doesn’t matter when you eat your protein, as long as you don’t go over you’re calories”. Yes ok there is truth behind that, but lets introduce some protein with the first meal of the day, which’ll help stimulate your metabolism, keep you satisfied for the morning and will give you more energy too.



2: The Six Ps

Prior - Preparation - Prevents - Piss - Poor - Performance. Plan your meals around the day/week ahead. Check your schedule and know your movements. I personally aim to know the forthcoming, breakfast lunch and dinner at least 36 hours before. It keeps me focused and cuts out the stress of any decision making, if I’m out and about, you know the ‘standing in the aisle, desperately unsure want to pick off the shelf, for the healthiest’ scenario.


3: Cut out the ‘white devils’

I don’t care if some of the white/beige carbohydrates have less calories. The fact is, they’re less nutritious and can have a massive detrimental impact on our long term health. That’s not to say never eat any, again that would be naive. But instead consider the healthier alternatives, the brown stuff; wholemeal-wholegrain, more fibrous and nutritious sources. For example, whole meal pasta over white pasta. Wholegrain rice over white rice etc.

Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Again certain foods, may have less calories, but still may be full of sugar. There’s no denial, that an increased sugar consumption, can lead on to a whole host of metabolic disturbances, bone erosion (including teeth), and mineral depletion (essential for homeostasis i.e healthy bodily function), inflammation and destruction on the gut lining (opening you up to another load of aliments and immune system disturbances) and deterioration of mental health. Oh and ever hear about diabetes…?


4: Eat three meals per day

This is a general recommendation. The reason for this recommendation, is to reduce feeling hungry and feeling deprived, potentially leading to binging and overconsumption. This doesn’t have to be a big meal, by any means, but enough to suppress hunger and temptation.

5: Keep hydrated

The average adult is made up 70% water depending on age and gender. Water is essential for existence and performs many crucial roles in the body including transporting nutrients and waste products to major organs. It helps regulate body temperature, lubricate our joints and gives blood its fluidity.

The amount of water required will vary from person to person, but you’re looking for between 2-3 litres of water per day (6-8 half pints glasses). Contrary to popular belief, teas and coffees are okay and do help to keep you from dehydration. Although they should not be the prime source of hydration.  2-3 cups per day is enough (unless caffeine has a negative effect on you, then maybe choose decaf or herbal teas instead).

Signs of dehydration are:

• Constipation
• Dark yellow or brown urine
• Dry, sticky mouth
• Headache
• Increased thirst and even hunger • Muscle tiredness
• Tiredness

Recent studies have shown that prolonged exercise can lead to a 2% loss of lean mass, reduced cognitive (mental performance) and around 20% decrease in performance. That can go up to 40% in higher temperatures. So yeah, staying hydrated whilst exercising is a big deal and if you don’t like cramp, drink up!


6: Always eat better

Always make the better choice where possible. Whether it’s eating a wholemeal cheese and pickle sandwich, over a cheese and pickle panini, or fat free yogurt over a muller fruit corner, always make a conscious decision, to pick the lesser of the two evils. Failing that, if you’re really caught short and you can’t refuse or avoid, just consume less than you normally would. Remember, be realistic about when you want to achieve your goal. If you’re in a hurry to, then you need to be ‘more on the ball’. If you’re in no particular rush, chill out a little bit and enjoy yourself; but you can’t blame anyone else, if you don’t get the results you want at your next weigh in.

Phil Snowden
The Fat Loss & Performance Coach

Andy vs Phil challenge: The 72 hour (water only) fast


Intermittent Fasting

With thanks to televised work by Dr Micheal Mosley and the 5:2™ diet, intermittent fasting has recently become a popular way to encourage fat loss. The evidence being that, one can eat normally five days out of seven (though still controlling calorie intake) and on the other two days, cut calories down to 1/4 the normal amount, eg 500 kcals for the ladies and 600 kcals per day for guys, on Thursday and a Sunday for example. The evidence shows benefits such as:

  • Changing the function of cells, genes and hormones: Reducing insulin levels. Increasing growth hormone and improving cellular repair
  • Fat loss
  • Reduced risk of Type II diabetes
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
  • Improved heart health
  • Prevention of cancer
  • Prevention of Alzheimers
  • Increased longevity

What is the 72 Hour (water only) fast?

Basically a hardcore version of the popular 5:2™ fast, whereby you only consume water (and pink Himalayan salt-to help replenish electrolytes) and that’s it. No tea. No coffee. No fish or coconut oil, just good old salt and water for 72 hours.

Nutrition and therapy researchers promote fasting to reboot your immune system due to stem cell based regeneration. As your body has no more incoming glucose (from carbs), it needs to break down your body fat and create ketones, an alternative form of energy.

Ketones can get a negative ‘wrap’ and are often portrayed as the dangerous, as they are associated with diabetes (but thats more to do ketoacidosis). But ketosis it is actually a natural and harmless substance produced by your body.

If you’ve heard of the ‘Atkins diet’, you’ll likely be familiar with using ketones instead of glucose for ‘fuel’. Benefits include purging your body of cancerous cells, which are unable to process ketones and having a positive effective on sufferers with epilepsy.

Before the start

Now, there was a bit of mis-communication about when the start time was actually going to be. I had it my mind, when I mentioned it to Andy, about starting it on a Tuesday morning after breakfast, taking us up to Friday morning. However, I later received a text from Andy that he had started his fats at 5:30pm on that Monday evening. I didn’t see that text until 10pm Monday, my last meal was at 6pm, but I had had an apple just before 10pm. I was like ‘cheers mate’. It meant then, I would have to until 10pm Thursday and Andy would’ve only had to go until 5:30pm Thursday. That’s not a problem, but it wouldn’t have been an accurate, or fair set of results to have measured, because no one would’ve been around Thursday evening at 10pm to do my measurements. Meaning, I would have to wait until 0800 Friday morning, for someone to be about. making it an 80 hour fast instead. CHEEEEEERS MATE!

Day 1

The first was actually pretty hard, in terms of going without food. I think that was out of habit more than anything. I found myself with new spare time (where I obviously wasn’t going home to prepare my food and actually eating it). Which made it harder, as I guess, eating was a ‘filler’ or part of my daily routine, so I found myself thinking a lot about food…but nothing a nice coffee wouldn’t solve - DOW! Training was normal, I didn’t struggle there, but we were only just doing resistance training.

Day 2

Waking up and needing a boost from my first coffee of the day was tough. I felt like I couldn’t get ‘into it’. My favourite meal of the day is breakfast and I always look forward to it. It’s like my reward for training, as I eat after my first session. I felt duped having to go without and was left unsatisfied and craving, texture and something to get rid of the emptiness of my gut, it wasn’t used to.

I definitely started slowing down though. Concentrating was tough. Counting reps and set for my clients was a struggle and towards the late afternoon, I was caught having a nap. Getting up from that was tragic. Andy woke me up from the settee, in his office. I was so irate, ‘how dare he wake me’- for his session - that he paid for! The training session was tough and felt pointless. Andy and I barely spoke and the performance, well, was more ‘poor’-formance. We had to drop weights from the previous week and saw no value in the session. After, I’d normally eat, so again was left with time to think about eating and how much I needed food now. 'I’ll be fine, after a coffee’ - DOW!

Day 3

I just wanted it to end now and the end seemed so far away, well another day away. Andy was happy as Larry, as he only had to get through the day. But I was struggling and when I tested my urine, I hadn’t even hit ketosis yet either. Meaning my body wasn’t using fat for fuel. It was a double blow, as I was hoping to see some evidence, that this process was working and having a positive effect.

It came to 5pm and it was time for Andy’s assessment. It was a positive start, he’d lost 4kg on the scales. But when we tested his lean mass, that had dropped by 5.5kg. His body fat had gone up 1.5kg and his body fat percentage had also gone up 1.2%. He put on more than a kilo of fat! WHAT!!! Obviously Andy was gutted. (I was actually in hysterics. How could a man not eat for three days and still put on fat - only Andy!). Because he was obviously gutted and doubtful of the measurements, he insisted I did mine. Guess what??? My weight on the scales dropped 3.9kg. My lean mass dropped by 3.1kg and my body fat…went UP by 1/2 a kilo, and my body fat percentage went from 7.9 to 8.4%! Say whaaaaat! I know, I couldn’t believe it. I still officially had four hours to go. So I said "sod this” and stopped the experiment. There was no point continuing, I wasn’t going to seeing any fat loss, improvement in immune function, reduced risk of cancer, improved cell turn over or digestive cleanse in that time. I was slurring my words by this point and felt like a baby could’ve pushed me over, and still had four hours of back-to-back clients to get through.

Tensing pics, you can see a mild difference

Why’s that then?

The only way I could explain the results, is that we depleted the muscle of glycogen (and in turn water) and in turn, the muscle ‘circumference’ may have decreased. Meaning that the diameter between lean tissue and the surface increased. So when we physically grabbed the skin to take a skin fold measurement (basically, pinching the skin to see how much fat you’re gripping on to, with a set of measuring callipers), there would have been more to pinch. That’s all I’ve got. I think the weight loss would’ve been down to dehydration (of the muscle) and completely emptying the body of food, which obviously still weighs something.

The first meal

Was only small, as we didn’t want to ‘distress’ the digestive system, as it had had it’s ‘knees up’ for the last couple of days and could’ve caused havoc. So we ate a small, healthy meal with protein, fat veg and a small amount of starch. I actually felt satisfied after, but couldn’t wait for breakfast! No coffee, just tea, again not to cause distress. All good.

A week later

Immediately after the experiment and pretty much all through, Andy and I ‘poo-poo’d’ the process. But actually, ok we didn’t lose fat, but we learnt a few lessons on the way. The main one being, it’s ok to go with out food. If we can’t eat right away, that’s fine, ‘I can hold out’. Which is valuable really. As what do you do when there’s no ‘healthy’ option at a party or whatever. We make the conscious effort to make a ‘better’ choice, but actually we could wait a while and eat something absolutely healthier, within our control later on and avoid any need to food that doesn’t fit with our healthy lifestyle or goal.

A week later I’ve not had the desire to have a coffee - I’ve completely lost the ‘taste’ or urge for it now, which was a big surprise. Not that I was an addicted (2-3 cups of white americano per day), but it was more than I wanted to drink.  I now savour my food. I’m slower to eat it and enjoy it more, rather than it being ‘fuel’, I look forward to every meal. I sit down to eat and take my time.

My body shape has changed back, but now I look ‘full’ rather scrawny, I think I’m quite happy this way.

Would I recommend it to client, absolutely NOT! Let me make myself clear, I DO-NOT ENDORSE THIS WHAT SO EVER. So if you choose to do it, it’s on you. There are much better ways to lose weight and as you saw by the stats, it was only the weight on the scales and muscle mass that dropped, our fat didn’t actually come down. You will look leaner training and controlling your portions sizes, over starving yourself.

I’d like to thank Harry Thomas, for the inspiration of the experiment and actually, he had a really positive experience. You can check out his 72 hour fast here.

You can even watch the video, of our journey here.

Phil Snowden
The Fat Loss & Performance Coach
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