7 Top Tips to Look Great by Summer!!

Hi Everyone,

I wrote a post previously (see here) about Winter being the time to put in the hard work to get the body you want in the Summer. Well that is absolutely true Summer bodies are made in Winter. However if you over indulged a bit over the Christmas period (like me) and are keen to have a body to die for when beach season comes around (or at least not look like a beached whale), then what can you do to turn things around in the next few months.

Below are my 7 top tips for getting yourself beach ready and looking as well as feeling fantastic when Summer comes around. After all feeling fantastic on the inside will go a long way to helping you look great on the outside.

7 Top Summer Tips:

  1. Drink as much water as you can: Yeah yeah, yeah. I know you’ve heard it all before, hell I’ve even written about it numerous time (here and here) for example. It just happens to be true however. Did you know that drinking a large glass of water will make your body burn 30 calories more over the next hour than it would have done without drinking it, even if you just sit on your arse for that hour. 6 glasses a day = almost 1300 calories a week burnt off. Water also allows your body to work more efficiently, flushing toxins out of your body, improving your skin and also allowing more effective processing of proteins and good fats to help you build muscle and shed fat. Finally drinking lots of water make you feel more full, reduces your appetite and actively helps you shed weight.
  2. Cut out the booze: I know, I know, this is a hard one right. Well I don’t mean completely. This is a site for ordinary people and most of us like a few beers or glasses of wine now and then. However what I do is try to be good and have no alcohol at all from Sunday night when i hit the pillow, until Friday evening. Why? well a number of reasons. You sleep better which is major factor in both physical and mental wellbeing. You sleep well you look better, simple. Proper rest also allows your body to rebuild its cells and grow muscle. As well as sleeping better you will be cutting out tonnes of calories you probably didn’t even think about. A pint of Lager contains approx. 190/200 calories, wine even more at about 210. If you can cut out 8 beers or 8 glasses of wine a week that’s roughly another 1600 calories gone (2900 including the extra water.) Just these two measures alone over the period of 3 -5 months will have you shedding pounds in weight.
  3. Eat right: At this point I can feel you frowning at the screen “damn this all sounds like hard work” you’re saying. Well I have two answers to that. Firstly, I’m all about moderation and enjoying your lives so believe me I’m not saying you have to deny yourself completely. Secondly, yes it does involve a bit of effort…..shock horror!! Did you really expert to transform your lazy arse into Elle Macpherson or Dwayne Johnson without having to do just a little work? So what do I mean by eat right? Well in previous articles (here , here and here) I go into a lot more detail. However lets keep things simple. Try to reduce portion sizes by 10%. Cut as many starchy and heavily refined carbohydrates as possible (that means less bread, less white pasta, white rice, potatoes). Cut out or at the very least reduce sugar as much as possible (sorry, that means very few cakes, biscuits/cookies, sweets and definitely cut out the soda’s and fizzy drinks). Eat lean proteins – Fish, Chicken, lean red meat every day and get as much salad and vegetable matter down your neck as you can. Again, for me, the same rules apply as with booze. Cut it our Monday to Friday and then (within reason) enjoy what you want at the weekends. Do this and again that will be many hundreds of calories less per week. Combine with the above two measures and you’ll be rocking and rolling in terms of internal health and weight loss.
  4. Aerobic Exercise: Or as it’s also known cardiovascular exercise. By this I don’t mean an old school John Travolta aerobics session (leg warmers are soooo last century). Unless you love running and have plenty of time on your hands I also wouldn’t go the route of long distance running (nothing against this, it’s just not time efficient in getting you fit and looking good). I would go the way of HiiT (High Intensity Interval Training, or if you are more old school Circuit training. Pick 6 exercises that work your whole body between them. Do each exercise for 20/30 seconds or 10/12 reps with no rest in between. Once you have completed all 6 rest for 1 minute. Then repeat 3-6 times depending how fit you are. It should only take 10-20 mins max and you can do it in your garden, a park or even in the house if you can’t get to a gym. If possible try to incorporate some weights such as dumbbell/kettlebell into 2 or 3 of the exercises as this will tone muscle as well as build fitness and torch calories. This article and video demonstrates some examples you can use.
  5. Do some Strength/Weight training: I know that some of you hate weights. Ladies either get embarrassed using weights or mistakenly believe that they will turn into a 1970’s style East German shot putter as soon as they pick up a Dumbbell. Guys either don’t know what to do or again feel embarrassed by the muscle heads in the gym. Ignore all that, bite the bullet and do some strength/weight training. This sort of training tones and shapes your body like nothing else can. For ladies it will shape your legs and butt, define your shoulders and neckline and help shed those saggy backs of your arms that you hate when wearing summer dresses (yeah i know about those). It doesn’t have to be Olympic style lifting ladies, some smallish dumbbells and the right exercises will do the trick. Guys, unless you shift some weights around now and then it’s going to be very hard to tone up the muscles underneath that weight you have lost. Every man in the world looks better with slightly wider shoulders, a narrower waist, toned, fat free arms and a chest that is firm and free from moobs. We are not trying to turn you into Arnold Schwarzenegger here (unless you want to), just simply putting some muscle and toning onto your frame.
  6. Be targeted: I mean this in two ways. Firstly think about what you want to achieve by the Summer and write it down as a goal committed to paper becomes much more tangible and real. It could be I want to lose 2 dress sizes and tone up my butt. Or for guys, I want to get into 34 waist jeans and have muscular arms. Set a date to it eg by 1st if June i want to….. . Once you have done that you also need to be targeted in terms of your actual body. Take a look in the mirror and be honest. what are your good points that don’t need much work, and which are the bits that are heading south faster than you would like or are just a bit to squidgy and need some work. Once you have done that tailor your approach around those parts. If you are a lady and you want to firm up your bottom and legs then focus your training around those a little more (lots of lunges and squats). If you are a guy with a Pigeon chest or saggy triceps then target those areas and hammer things like presses and crossovers or push downs. It’s just common sense.
  7. Have fun and enjoy life: This is probably more important than all the others. None of the stuff above should be a chore. It’s all about moderation in life. By working hard and having some discipline some of the time, you can have fun and enjoy the good things in life the rest of the time. However it’s more than just that. I mean really enjoy life. Spend time with your kids, be stupid, laugh a lot, put work second to family, go on long walks, visit amazing places, eat good food, try new things. Get out and experience the world and squeeze the enjoyment from it. This is critical. People that are happy, enjoy life and are vibrant just exude a sense of wellbeing and simply look better. If you want to look and feel fabulous this summer the trust me, the six points above may help you along the way, but it’s this one, number 7 that will make all the difference.

Take Care,

John

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8 Top Tips To Defy Age!

sly-stalloneAge….It gets us all in the end!! However there is no need to be defeatist about it. We are all living longer, generally are healthier and with a little work can look and feel amazing well into our latter years. We may not all be able to look as incredible as Sylvester Stallone as we approach 70 (or even want to) but we definitely can defer, defy and defeat some of the symptoms that we’d all rather avoid.

Below is a list of 8 top tips to help you beat nasty Mr Age!! if you adopt at least some of these you’ll hopefully be looking and feeling fantastic well into your latter years. I’m 47, approaching 48 and fully intend to be fit, fun and ageing disgracefully for as long as I can. These tips apply equally if you are in your 20’s as your 70’s. The earlier you start, the easier it is.

Top 8 Tips:

  1. Mentality: This is hands down THE most critical thing for helping you stay young. How you feel about getting older will to a large extent determine not only how you age but how you deal with ageing. Of course getting older has it’s frustrations but if you get down about it, worry about every little ache or pain and generally live a life where the whole concept of getting older makes you miserable then that will be reflected in your health and face. Worry and frowning ages us, both medically and facially. Worry and stress release a chemical called Cortisol into our bodies which has a whole plethora of negative effects. Instead try to be positive in all things. Count the blessings that you have, laugh loud and hard as often as you can, shrug off all those daily little setbacks and generally squeeze as much fun from life as possible.
  2. Walk: This sounds very basic but again it makes a massive difference. Walk as often and as far as possible, ideally with some scenery thrown in. It has been proven in study after study that people who walk regularly are fitter, happier and live longer. If you are going on a short journey, just popping to the shops or heading into the country for the day then ditch the car or bus and walk. Get your head up, look around you , take in your surroundings and really notice the world. Most of us are in a hurry and don’t really look around us. Walking every day and getting into the outside air WILL have a hugely positive effect on both your fitness and mental wellbeing.
  3. Stretch: Maintaining your mobility is key as you get older. Many people start to suffer with aches and pains, lack of mobility in their shoulders and hips, lower back problems and general creakiness when getting out of bed or chairs. Unfortunately, to a degree it’s just a wear and tear issue. However you can really help yourself by stretching regularly. Spend 10 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes every evening doing a proper routine of yoga like stretches (loads to look up on YouTube) and focus on your back, hips, legs and shoulders and you will feel loose and mobile for as long as you want. Actually this applies to everyone, not just older readers.
  4. Exercise: “No shit!!” i hear you all cry. Yes I know this is an obvious one. We all know we should exercise but to me it’s important what type of exercise you do. If I’m honest any form or exercise that gets your heart rate up and lungs working will benefit you, but for maximum benefit as you get older you definitely need to incorporate some weight training into your regime. Why? I know many people are scared of weights. The answer is that by regularly doing some weights (doesn’t have to be hugely heavy) you will build and maintain muscle strength, tendon, ligament and joint strength and even more importantly It will help with bone density and strength. As we age many people, especially women suffer from decreased bone strength and even crumbling bones. if this happens in your spine or hips it can immobilise you. Regular bouts of strength or weights based activity fights this off.
  5. Drink Water:…..and lots of it. Yet another obvious one. Yes maybe it is obvious but how many of you do it? I wrote a previous article here proclaiming the many benefits of water consumption, but as we get older it’s even more important. If you want to fight off things like kidney and liver infections, bladder problems, joint stiffness and a whole host of other irritating age related issues then drinking 4 -6 glass of water a day WILL help. I guarantee it.drinking-water-2
  6. Supplementation: By that I don’t mean cramming a load of pills and vitamins down your neck. What I mean is using natural ingredients that have proven health and wellbeing benefits. Such as? Well if you can get as many of the following into your diet as possible on a regular basis they will have a wealth of benefits for your physical and internal health; Ginger, Turmeric, Chilli, Lemons & Lemon water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Natural fish oils, Organic Honey, Chia seeds, Cinnamon….and as stated above lots of water.
  7. Booze: Waheey…..that’s more like it. Don’t get too excited. This is not a license to go out on the lash 3 nights a week. However a couple of drinks in moderation has been shown to be good for the heart AND to help alleviate stress (see Cortisol above). So what do I mean by a couple of drinks? Well one glass of red wine 5 or 6 days a week will do you no harm. Or if you abstain 3 or 4 days a week then a couple of glasses of wine or 2 or 3 beers now and then should also be fine. I wrote a piece way back when i started this blog (see here) all about consistency and how it can give you freedom to enjoy your life. A few drinks here and there will allow you that enjoyment that is key to looking and feeling younger, and if you are consistent in your approach to fitness and wellbeing in most areas of your life, cutting loose now and then will do you no harm at all.
  8. Diet: Yet again a pretty obvious and boring one, but vital all the same. Lets be honest here, we all know what we should and should not be eating. Just to recap and break it down into basics. Lots of good protein – Chicken, Turkey, lots of fish and less often, good quality red meat. As well as Nuts, eggs and some good cheese. Don’t avoid fat as long as it isn’t processed fat. So some fat from meat, nuts, eggs, natural dairy products, real butter, real yoghurt, Avocado…it’s all good for you. Lots of fruit, veg and fibre. Basically as much veg as you can get down you. Things to avoid? Well, processed and packaged food as much as possible, sugar in all it’s sneaky hidden forms, almost all drinks other than water, tea, coffee and some occasional alcohol, and try to limit starchy food such as bread, cakes, flour based products, pasta etc.

That’s it, all pretty straightforward and basic stuff. The truth is however that its often the obvious things that we ignore. This article is not aimed just at us old/older gits. Whether you are 22 or 72 you are still ageing. If you can incorporate as many of these tips into your daily, weekly and monthly routines as possible then it will help everyone to age more healthily and gracefully and to actually start to forget that age is even a problem.

Take Care,

John

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How to Look & Feel Younger….Guaranteed!!

Looking good older

We all want the secret of eternal youth right? We all want to know how to slow down the ageing process, look our best, and convince the world that we really are 21 and always will be. Not only that , but as well as Thursday being the new Friday, most of us believe that 65 is the new 45. I’m 47 years old now and still do most of the same things and behave the same way (sometimes stupidly) that i did when i was 25. I plan on growing old disgracefully and being as fit and youthful looking as possible for as long as I can manage. Below are some tips which i guarantee that if you follow as much as possible you will look, feel and act younger than you are.

Tips on Staying Young:

#1. Do Resistance Based Weight Training. I know a lot of people hate the idea of this, especially some women who associate weight training with big bulky muscles and a lack of femininity. Well forget that idea straight away. You’d have to train your arse off and eat like a horse to change your body that way. It has been proven that weight training, done correctly has all sorts of benefits that make you look and feel younger and as i said in a previous blog post on my facebook page on 24th March there have been various studies that confirm the anti ageing benefits of training with weights. For a start it strengthens and tones not only your muscles and ligaments but also helps to increase bone density and strength. We all know that bones can weaken and even start to crumble as we get older and regular resistance training fights this process. Even if you don’t have access to a gym, resistance training using body weight or bands can have a fantastic positive effect. As well as strengthening and maintaining muscle tone, regular resistance training will raise your metabolic rate, aiding fat loss. Not only that but muscle is more metabolically active than fat. What does that mean? Well it means that 1 kg of muscle uses up more calories to maintain it than 1kg of fat. This means that as you become stronger, leaner and more muscular it actually becomes easier to maintain that shape and keep the weight off as your body naturally burns more calories. Great eh? Being fitter, stronger and leaner is guaranteed to make you look younger.

Old bodybuilder

#2. Reduce traditional lengthy cardio sessions and do HiiT (High Intensity Interval Training) instead. Why? Lots of reasons. Firstly from a purely practical point of view it takes a lot less time. You can achieve in 15 minutes what traditional cardio would take 45 minutes or more to do. HiiT has been proven to build more muscle tone, give a more intense cardiovascular workout thus improving your heart and lung function, AND raises your metabolic rate allowing you to continue to burn calories and fat for much longer after your workout than a long slow cardio workout would. Also from a purely aesthetic point of view there seems to be a connection with how people look. Take a look at many (not all) endurance athletes, long distance runners, long distance cyclists, triathletes etc. They often have a somewhat taut, gaunt appearance and lean, loose, sometimes saggy muscle tone. Compare that with sports that tend to use shorter bursts of more intense exercise such as sprinters, boxers (3 mins on, 1 minute off), gymnasts etc. They look more toned, less gaunt and yes it’s true….younger.

#3. Drink lots of water….loads of it, as much as you can get down your neck (within reason). Our bodies are largely made up of water. Studies have shown that up to 75% of people walk around partially dehydrated for much of the time. It’s just plain logic that if you are fully hydrated your cells will be more full of this life giving substance. Full cells = plumper and healthier looking skin, more luscious hair, clearer eyes, fuller muscle tone. That’s aside from the longer term health benefits of better digestion, less gut issues, improved kidney function, improved vacscular performance etc. People often think tea, coffee, juices all count for hydration but it’s not the same thing. Tea and coffee are both diuretics which means they make you pee or expel water from your body and juices, all juices, contain sugars. Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every single day. Do it for a month and i guarantee you will be shocked and amazed at the difference it makes to your skin and overall sense of well being. People make me laugh when they say “how hard it is to drink 6 glasses of water a day” then go to the pub and drink 5 pints of larger or 5 Gin & Tonics in 2 or 3 hours. Don’t make excuses, get to the tap and drink yourself younger.

#4. Eat natural and whole foods. Again you don’t need to be a genius to work out that what you put inside your body is going to have an effect on how the outside looks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a food facist that is going to dictate that you ONLY eat organic, never have a treat and never drink again for the rest of your life. God knows i have some bad habits and love a blow out now and then. However consistency is key. If you can eat well 75% of the time AND drink a lot of water it will 100% be reflected in how you look. What do i mean by eat well? Again it’s pretty simple. Try to eat loads of fresh foods. Fresh fish, meat, poultry, lots of veg, salads with 4 or 5 meals a week, lots of nuts, proper butter and dairy products, fruit, and DO NOT be afraid of fats as long as they are good fats eg fatty fish, lean meat and poultry, nuts, eggs avocado etc. A report came out in the UK press only yesterday  (see my facebook page) talking about the benefits of good fats and they aid not only muscle development and fat loss but keep your skin looking healthy, and some studies claim they even protect brain function longer term.

#5. Keep active. I’ve already talked about training and exercise so that is not what i mean. By keeping active I mean keep your mind and body active. Be passionate about life. Have hobbies, go to museums, eat out, travel, go on walks, read books, go to concerts, play golf or bowls, have a wide social circle, keep working even if part time once you reach retirement age. This mostly applies to older people who are perhaps at or beyond retirement age but the mindset also applied to the younger ones of us. I firmly believe (and I’m sure you can think of and name examples) that if you keep doing stuff (anything counts), stay active, keep your mind engaged and keep that verve for life, then it keeps you young in both mind and body.

#6. Act younger than you are. This one is very closely to linked to number 5 above. Some people use the phrase “act your age”. Well screw that. As soon as you start to do that you are on the slippery slope to doom. The world has changed, you are no longer middle aged as soon as you hit 50 and old when you hit 60. I’m not saying behave like an idiot the whole time, I’m saying that just because you get older that doesn’t mean you can’t do all or at least most of the things you always used to do. You may need to make some minor adjustments but just keep going for it. Laugh loudly, sing badly, dance embarrassingly (my friends will tell you I’m a world beater at this but I don’t care, i love it), take up hobbies that you enjoy and just generally try to seek out fun and big experiences wherever you can. The minute you start to think you are old, that’s what you will become. I think someone once said “I think therefore I am”…..or something like that. It’s true. You become what you believe you are. If you believe you will be successful in life, you will. If you believe you are invincible and will always stay young, you will, if you believe you are getting old and “can’t do that any more”…guess what, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

#7. Supplements. This is a very quick paragraph. I’m not really one for taking pills and potions. I take a protein shake and some creatine when I train, that’s it. What i mean by supplements are natural products that I believe, and there is a lot of evidence to back ity up, that are supremely healthy and have some amazing benefits for your body, fitness and skin. So just to briefly list some favourites. Ginger – add it to everything from tea to stir fries to salads. Honey – preferably a non mainstream organic honey. Green tea or other variations on herbal and green tea’s. Lemons – squeeze them into and onto everything, grate the skins, drink lemon water as often as you can. Chilli, again add to food as often as possible and put in salads, soups etc. Turmeric – add to food or make Turmeric milk, its has amazing properties. Cinnamon – the same as with Turmeric. Tomatoes – eat as often as possible. Avocado – eat almost every time you have anything cold. Nuts – all sorts and also spread nut butter everywhere and anywhere you want. There are others but if you can use these as often as possible you won’t go far wrong.

ginger-tea-with-lemon

#8.The obvious stuff – basic skin care, look after your teeth, dress well. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit slack here. I have never ever used a moisturiser or ANY sort of skin care product of any type ever. So I can’t really preach. All I’m really talking about are the basics. if you are covered in spots, have yellow teeth and wear baggy, shapeless clothes are you really going to look good and younger than you are? Probably not. So all I’m saying is to do whatever works for you to keep your skin looking moist and fresh, your teeth as white as possible (a 6 monthly dental hygienist appointment does wonders) and if possible choose some well coordinated, properly fitted clothes so that you look good when you go out. I bloody hate shopping and buy very very little, but when i do I like to buy a couple of things that are good quality, fit me well and show off my best qualities. Am I a vain overly egotistical sod….yeah probably, but you know what I don’t care. I embrace many of the tips I’ve given you above and am proud of it, i enjoy trying to look younger than I am. If people don’t like that, tough. In fact that may be my tip #9. Learn to not give a S***. Do things for you, because you want to and because they make you look and feel good. If some people don’t approve that is their problem. This is your life, grab it by the scruff of the neck, go out and live it.

Take Care,

John

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