Fitness Writers at FitPro Live 2014

July 20, 2014

fitness writer fitpro liveThanks to membership organisation The Fitness Writers’ Association (please note the impeccable use of apostrophe!), I got a VIP pass to FitPro Live, and popped along on Friday.

Here’s a quick round up of what I did, saw, heard and took away with me:

I spent most of the day in the educational talks rather than at the expo. Room 8 turned out to be where it was at for all things marketing, digital and content. My kinda place to be!

I listened to sales specialist Lesley Aitken talk about how digital is rapidly changing the customer journey (particularly in the fitness industry). Fascinating stuff. Clients, are you aware of just how much research your potential customers are able to do about your business, brand and products… before they even visit your website, shop or facility? What’s out there online about you? And how do you control and optimise it? Lesley told us about “ZMOT”, which pretty much defines how the customer decision-making and buying process has changed due to digital/online. She talked about the ongoing importance of big data but, more than that, what to do with it. Don’t let it languish (80% is never used, apparently). Segment, drill down, utilise “pen portraits”… and then make sure your message (content!) is specific, relevant and targeted. The right message, at the right place, at the right time.

Here are my take away points from Lesley’s talk:
- pitch to the customer journey (understand what that really is, not what you think/hope/assume it is)
- collect data… but use it!
- the future of sales, marketing and comms is going to be much more integrated (hooray)
- plan for conversion and retention (this includes your content strategy)
- social is huge, and it’s not going away. Social marketing, advertising and selling… don’t get left behind (because your future customers are already ahead of you)
- become a publisher of content in some way and on some level
- get your content out there, position yourself as an expert, build trust, engage people and then nurture them. Yes – all through content (but I would say that ;) )

Next up was Jon Lipsey of Jon Lipsey Media and the man behind the new (and fantastic) Iron Life Mag (have you got your free download yet?) He spoke about how fitpros can use Twitter more strategically to get more customers. It was really interesting for me to sit in on this and hear the barriers and challenges PTs, coaches, facilities managers etc face (or think they face) to using social media. Most were things I hear from my clients on the regular: not enough time, not sure how to structure a message, not sure how to achieve the desired tone of voice, how to put together a strategy rather than just being on social media for the sake of it.

Jon gave some real gems of research into Twitter use, and left the fitpros with some useful questions to ask themselves:

- how active are your targets on social media?
- how much time/money per week are you willing to spend on social media content creation, upload, management?
- what is your strategy?
- how will you track and measure success?
- why would someone follow you and engage with you?
- and why would they want to stay connected?
- why would they engage with you, and not your competition?
- what do you offer (what’s unique)?
- why would someone want to share your content?
- what message do you want followers to take away?

I really liked his advice on putting together an authentic Tweet which does the job: ask a question (be specific), push people’s buttons, be subtle and genuine, and always reply!

I then sat in on a talk about the future of exercise and nutrition by Dr John Berardi of Precision Nutrition. It was a real pleasure to hear John talk “in real life”, he doesn’t come over the UK often so there was no way I was missing this! I was a total cliche at this point… yes, I sat listening to Dr Berardi of Precision Nutrition whilst I ate turkey and green beans out of a plastic tub ;) There was a great deal to take away from his talk and it was fascinating for me to listen to a leading name in the industry talk about future trends, challenges and opportunities.

I think the bit which resonated with me most was John’s prediction that the fitness industry will shift more and more towards a holistic consultative role, helping people with stress management, sleep and all the lifestyle and behavioural barriers they present. It’s going to be about change management before exercise and nutrition plans.

I then…er…did a Metcon class! Yes, me! It was fun actually, I’d forgotten how much I like classes :D I don’t do them at all any more but I was really into classes at one time. The presenter reminded me of one of my friends (who also presents fitness classes), the music was bangin’, I worked up a right old sweat, and I jumped in the air! As in, with both feet off the ground at the same time! :-O I KNOW RITE!

This was, by the way, on the hottest day of the year. I then got stuck in horrendous traffic driving home (from London, at rush hour on a Friday… no sh*t). But never fear, because I had left my coolbox in my car, so I popped my (still frozen) icepacks on my legs and drove home like this.

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Did you go to FitPro Live? What were your highlights and take-homes?

Fitness Writers at FitPro Live 2014 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Macros and the bigger picture

July 15, 2014

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I’ve got a story to tell you this evening.

The other day, I was on a long walk with my dog. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere (well, as far as the Kent Downs allow) and the only souls in sight.

Then I saw a chap crouching down, peering at a spot on the ground. He had some pretty hefty photography equipment set up. Being the nosy curious person I am (occupational hazard), I asked him what he was taking photos of. “Just this flower,” he said. “Oh, I thought maybe you’d found some mega-rare newt or something,” I replied (no, I don’t know why I thought of a newt, either).

“I’m just playing around with macros,” said the chap.

Macros. That little word which means so very much to us in the fitness industry. IIFYM. What’s your macro split? Have you met your macros today? What are your macros?

It’s a word we use so often, it needs no explanation.

At least… to us.

For this photographer guy, the word macros means something else entirely. And he probably has no idea what his own macros are, maybe he doesn’t even know what the three macronutrients are and – if he does – he probably doesn’t care.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about our macros. After all, for those of us serious about body composition, physique sports and nutrition, macros do matter. In general, I think it’s a positive thing if you know the makeup of what you’re eating.

But the encounter with the photographer so absorbed in the details of that flower made me realise: the macros that matter so very much to us in the fitness industry really mean very little to a lot of other people. For the photographer, it’s about fine and tiny detail in extreme close up. To us, it’s about three big all-encompassing nutritional behemoths.

So, fitness industry, maybe it’s time to tear our eyes away from the detail of our own macros (and everything else) so we can spend more time looking at the bigger picture. Looking through someone else’s lens from time to time is refreshing.

Macros and the bigger picture is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Prep update: what’s been going on?

July 14, 2014

It’s been a while since I blogged about this year’s bodybuilding contest prep, so I thought it was time for an update!

I’m now mumble-mumble weeks out… let’s call it “about 12″ although it could be less than that, or more than that, depending on what I decide to do, which will depend on when I feel I’m ready. How’s that for vague? ;)

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Training is going really well, I always enjoy my lifting sessions and am enjoying doing my own training programmes this year. I stick to the same split (same bodypart/s on the same days) but tend to mix up my actual sessions from week to week. I have some favourites which I gravitate towards, and always include big compound lifts, but enjoy trying out new things and mixing stuff up, too. I share ideas and new finds with friends (often over whatsapp, in the form of spontaneous videos using household objects in place of the barbell… LOL you know who you are!) In general I am a high-volume person, and also use things like supersets and dropsets.

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Diet is going OK too, it’s tough at times of course but that’s bodybuilding dieting for you! I find it fascinating how my body holds fat differently each year. This year for instance, my quads were as lean at the start of prep as they were at about 8 weeks out last year (on skinfold) and my abs (amazingly!) have remained pretty lean. In previous years, most of my bodyfat has been on my abs. This year it’s on my triceps (standard) but also on my bum and hamstrings. Boo! Oh well, I suppose it has to be somewhere. I just hope it starts coming off soon! Everything else is definitely getting leaner. I spotted my friend Gary Gristle last week (<< this is a weird lump of gristle on one of my shoulder blades, which is only visible when I get to a certain point of leanness). Next up will be spotting the knot on the stitch of my hernia repair operation. Then we'll really be motoring!

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I’m doing a lot more cardio this year than I did last year (which wouldn’t be difficult, since I did no cardio – other than powerwalking with my dog – in last year’s prep). This is partly because I genuinely enjoy it, and partly because I feel I need to extra push (I refer you back to the fat-bum comment above). I’ve been doing either off-road rides on my mountain bike (love it!) or running hill sprints (don’t love it quite so much) in the mornings, or doing a bit of “gym cardio” (usually stepper or Arc machine) after weights sessions. I prefer morning cardio, though, and I prefer doing my cardio separate to my weights sessions.

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Does anyone else find that, during prep, they start to enjoy training bodyparts which are boring or uninspiring off-season? For me, that’s shoulders, and arms. I’m loving both at the mo!

Oh and I got tutted at by an elderly lady in the High Street today. I take this as a good sign! I was wearing gym kit (including sleeveless top) and she stared, patted the top of her own arm, and shook her head crossly. Cheers, lady! ;)

The amount of #gymselfies ^^^ (arrest me, social media police! :-P ) has increased, which is also a sign that I feel I’m getting leaner. So, if you want to keep up with prep in pic form, follow my instagram. Other than that… what can I tell you? Any questions, just ask :)

How’s your training, racing, competing or generally being-active going? Hope you’re having a great Summer so far.

Prep update: what’s been going on? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


“Thank you” reviews for birthday pressies from The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse & Meridian Foods!

July 6, 2014

What a lucky lady I am! My generous industry pals at The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse and Meridian (the nut butter people) heard it’s my birthday soon (…21 again) (and again) and very generously sent me some pressies. Thank you all! When you’re old and live by yourself like me, you don’t get a lot of surprise presents (unless you develop amnesia after a late-night internet shopping spree). This was a lovely treat.

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Let me tell you what they sent, and what I thought of the various products (I’ve sampled them all – they arrived some time ago ;) )

The Protein Works
Huge box of goodies from The Protein Works, online sports supplement people renowned for their crazy (and crazy-good) protein powder flavours, huge range of supplements, and innovative things like zero-cal syrups. I’m kind of embarrassed by how much they sent but hey I guess you only celebrate your 18th birthday once ;)

What’s in the box?

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CLA Do you take CLA? I know some bodybuilders absolutely swear by it, some have tried it but don’t think it does anything for them, and others haven’t ever used it. I’ve used it on and off in the past, but am big on using healthy fats particularly during a prep diet, so I was really pleased to received a good quality CLA.

Whey protein in banana smooth flavour. I’d never choose banana whey for myself (just not a favourite) but it worked out well for The Protein Works to send me a flavour I don’t usually choose – cos it’s lovely! This is their whey protein concentrate 80, with added “Aminogen” (an enzyme system which helps the body digest the product better and absorb the aminos). And TPW’s whey protein concentrate 80 is tested by HFL, which is an added bonus for athletes tested against the WADA banned substance list. Anyway – this banana whey is very yum and might just have converted me to the flavour!

Greens powders Greens powders are another product which people either use and swear by, or disregard. Personally I think greens powders are a great thing to include whether you’re dieting down or not. They’re just such a quick and easy way to pack tons of raw nutrients into your daily diet (and far better than a multivit IMO). This one is flavoured and quite sweet but does also come in an unflavoured option. You may prefer an unflavoured greens powder, particularly if you like adding it to savoury dishes or mixing it with oils to make salad dressings.

Milk protein aka casein in chocolate smooth flavour. I have casein/milk protein most nights as a before-bed snack – I tend to blend it with a ton of ice and a bit of xantham gum to make a sort of icecream. The Protein Works’s milk protein is really nice, blends up well and tastes rich and creamy without being too sweet.

Creatine I’ll be honest – I haven’t actually started on this creatine monohydrate from The Protein Works, because I’ve still got some on the go. But I’m confident it’s great quality, and I do think creatine is a very useful supplement particularly for bodybuilders and particularly during a diet, to help maintain strength.

The Protein Works’s preworkout “Raze”. I love a preworkout, and this one is great! Check out the ingredients: AAKG (Arginine Alpha-Ketogluarate, Beta Alanine, Creapure® (the best type of creatine mono available), l-tyrosine, citrulline malate, taurine, caffeine and instantised BCAAs amongst other things. Totally safe for drug-tested athletes, tastes great – and works! I’m pretty resistant to caffeine (I drink a lot of coffee) but Raze still gave me a little boost when I needed it (for instance when I had a big squat session to do on the hottest day of the year… ) No jitters, no crash or energy slump afterwards. Good stuff!

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Monkey Nutrition

I’ve reviewed a lot of Monkey Nutrition products on the blog before (all reviews are on this page) and I really rate the quality of their supplements. They sent me their new whey protein concentrate – Primal24 whey protein. It’s Monkey Nutrition’s more affordable whey but still has 24g protein per serving (and a full amino acid profile). It’s 80% protein by weight even after being flavoured, so you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a lovely vanilla flavour, not too sweet (as some can be) and I’ve been enjoying it mixed with a (cooled) espresso and a bit of ice in the mornings. Yum!

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Muscle Mousse
Muscle Mousse probably needs little introduction, but in case you’ve somehow missed the buzz: it’s an amazing casein-type protein which mixes up very quickly to make a super-thick mousse which is really like a certain Delightfully Angelic dessert you may have enjoyed as a child. There are loads of flavours, but I was sent the peanut-choc caramel flavour – very tasty! Muscle Mousse is a combination of micellar casein/milk casein, whey protein concentrate and egg protein which gives it its unique moussey texture, and the casein and whey are from grass-fed cattle. The latest formulation has a higher level of BCAAs than previously and more probiotics. It’s 100% gluten and soy free – and HFL tested. I’ve been loving this as a treat!

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Meridian Foods new nut butters

Oh, this was a wonderful but dangerous birthday present for a dieting bodybuilder! Happily I seem to be able to exercise more self-control around nut butter this year than in any previous diet/prep. The little jar size helps. I was sent the new cashew butter, smooth almond butter and crunchy almond butter – all are fantastic but the crunchy almond is my favourite by far. Meridian’s nut butters are 100% nuts – no palm oil, no nasties. Just nuts.

Thank you, friends! What a lovely load of birthday surprises :) The (protein) drinks are on me :D

“Thank you” reviews for birthday pressies from The Protein Works, Monkey Nutrition, Muscle Mousse & Meridian Foods! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


How to beat the bodybuilding post-comp blues

July 5, 2014

With the bodybuilding contest season in full swing, I thought it might be useful to blog about the post-comp “blues”, how to avoid them and what to do if they strike!

Post-event blues aren’t reserved for bodybuilders and physique athletes, of course. It’s a common thing after any big goal: a marathon, a triathlon, a wedding! But there’s another level for bodybuilders, that of “falling off the diet”, potentially dealing with the rebound, sometimes even struggling with bingeing and the body-image issues which come with all of that.

It’s worth noting that the post-comp slump can strike whether you win or come dead last. I’ve experienced both ;) , and I’ve felt great and not-great afterwards. Winning or placing does not guarantee a wonderful few days after the comp, and has little bearing on how you’ll feel, act and cope. In fact, doing well can actually make the come-down worse.

Here are my thoughts and suggestions on how to navigate that post-comp period

Before competition day:

Have a food plan for the following day. Lots of people fall off the diet wagon the day after their comp, and they fall hard. It’s understandable, when you’ve been dieting for months, but it won’t make you feel any better. In fact, it’s likely to make you feel worse – physically, emotionally, and in terms of self-image, motivation and energy levels. So, have a food plan in place before your comp day. Include treats, things you’ve been cravings, meals out or meals in with loved ones. But have a plan, and stick to it. Your body and mind are used to a plan by now, and having one for after your bodybuilding comp will provide a sense of security.

Prep some meals. Again, you’ve got used to eating good solid homecooked food for months now. Have a few meals prepped and in the fridge or freezer for the days following your comp. That way, you can slip back in to a healthy eating routine easily, without having to think about it. Of course you don’t have to get back on your prep diet (unless you’ve got another show coming up), but it will serve your mind and body really well to not fall go completely off the rails. Your body won’t know how to cope with going from prep food one day, to all the foods you’ve been craving the next day. Give it a helping hand. Also, the less choice you have, the easier you will find it to eat well after your comp. And the better you eat, the better you’ll feel (physically and emotionally). I’m not saying you have to prep plastic tubs of chicken and broccoli. By all means prep some lovely nourishing meals you’ve been thinking about. But make them good choices, based around foods you know won’t bust your insides to bits, but with enough nice extras to satisfy your tastebuds.

Write down what you love about bodybuilding
Do this now, before your comp. Write down everything you love about bodybuilding, about training, about lifting. Everything you’ve learned about yourself, your abilities, your strengths. All the bits of prep you enjoyed. You can have a read of this list in the days and weeks after your comp, if you’re feeling a bit down or lost. And you could even go back to some of them now you don’t have the pressure of the competition looming.

Get a post-comp training plan in place
It can be a struggle to get back into training when your competition date has been and gone. You might feel a bit lost without a goal. You may feel demotivated. Some people feel that, if they’re no longer “that person who’s competing”, they don’t have a place in the gym community. Others might be struggling with weight gain and/or body image and let that keep them away from the gym. Have a training plan in place before your comp date comes around. Work with a coach, mentor or trusted BB friend, or work it out yourself. Be realistic, and kind to yourself. You’ll likely be sore (from posing), weak (from dieting) and more prone to injury. But this is also prime time to make some serious progress, because you’ll be full of energy, food and nutrients!

After competition day:

Make bodybuilding more sociable
Chances are you got a bit insular, quiet, moody (moi?) during prep ;) So why not plan to make your bodybuilding more social in the weeks after your comp. Visit bodybuilding friends for training and foodie dates. Pay a visit to some other gyms and have a play on the equipment. Attend bodybuilding meets. Maybe even arrange to go and watch other bodybuilding shows, unless you think this will bring up any negative feelings.

Pay attention to recovery
Is your body a bit beaten up by prep? Well, now you’re done, here’s the ideal opportunity to indulge in massages, spend more time foam rolling, maybe even enroll in a yoga class. Or forget the sport-specific stuff and treat yourself to something really lovely like a beauty treatment, spa day etc (I would say ladies only but hey I’m not here to judge!)

Enjoy your success
Whether you won, placed or came dead last, your competition was a success. I bet you achieved at least one of the goals you set yourself when you started out, didn’t you? And I bet you felt great, beat some personal demons, stepped outside of your comfort zone, and transformed your physique? So celebrate that. Don’t be negative, don’t beat yourself up for not winning or not taking the overall or whatever didn’t happen. Celebrate what did happen. Look at your show photos, talk to other competitors about the day, chat with your supporters who were there.

If you’re struggling:

Seek support
If you’re floundering a bit, feeling lacking without a goal, struggling with self-image, eating issues, body-image, identity or anything else, seek support. I don’t know what will suit you best, but you could chat with a good friend, surround yourself with family, talk to a coach, go for actual counselling, read online articles/blogs, use online forums or groups of likeminded folk… Just do reach out and don’t let it fester.

It was only your physique which was judged
This is a subjective sport and not winning doesn’t reflect not trying your best. And the judges aren’t judging your character or the whole you. You’re still a lot of great things, even if you didn’t win a bodybuilding comp!

Take a compliment
Folk will comment on your Facebook photos and send you messages saying you looked fantastic, should have won, were the best one up there, etc. Even if this isn’t strictly true, they mean well, so take the compliment. You never know who you’re inspiring. So don’t say “oh god, no, I’ve got at least another 1/2 stone to lose!” or “are you kidding, look at my hamstrings!” Just say thanks, I’m glad you like the pic, I had a lot of fun. Or similar.

Remember, this doesn’t define you
Ultimately, nobody really cares. And I mean that in the most positive, constructive and kind way. Whatever level you’re competing at, it isn’t as important to anyone else as it is to you. And the people who really matter – the people who really love and support you – will be happy for you as long as you are happy. They only care about where you placed because you care where you placed. If you came last, but enjoyed yourself and are happy, balanced and in a good place after your comp, they will be happy for you. And remember that bodybuilding doesn’t define you. Yes, you’re a competitive bodybuilder, you put a hell of a lot of time and effort into prep, and it means a lot to you. But it isn’t all you are. And the rest of your life is still waiting for you once you step off stage.

How to beat the bodybuilding post-comp blues is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Reducing sugar intake (the pre-schooler edition)

June 27, 2014

Have you heard this week’s news story about SACN’s recommendations regarding our consumption of sugar? SACN – the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition – have recommended that we all consume more fibre and less free sugars. Specifically, they’ve said:

For the population to lower the consumption of free sugars to around 5% of daily dietary energy intake which is 25g for women (5 – 6 teaspoons) and 35g (7 – 8 teaspoons) for men based on average population diets. The consumption of sugars-sweetened beverages (e.g. fizzy drinks, squash) should be minimised by both children and adults.

If you fancy reading the press release rather than the media’s interpretation of it – it’s here SACN draft report on Carbohydrates and Health for public consultation.

My sister made the decision some time ago to vastly limit the amount of free sugars my little nephew eats and drinks. So, I thought it would be interesting to ask her more about the decision, the practicalities of it, and what it’s like to live a low-sugar lifestyle with a toddler in the house.

(Check out my other nephew-related posts: The Nephew Workout when he was a baby (we’ve both grown since then LOL!) and The Nephew Workout revisited when he came to stay with me when I was just a few days out from a bodybuilding comp!)

On with the interview!
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The Fit Writer: Why did you decide to minimise sugar in Henry’s diet? Was there one event, a trigger, or something you’d read/heard?

The Fit Sister: We initially took Henry to have food intolerance tests as he spent the first two years of life with a runny nose and cough. After putting it down to being in childcare from an early age (and him “being a boy”), we decided to look into it further. I mentioned his other unusual behaviours to the herbalist: Henry always seemed angrier than most toddlers, with more energy, had tendencies to push and hit out at other people, and throw and kick his toys. These are usual traits of toddlers, especially boys, but they seemed more pronounced in him (in comparison to his peers). It was at this point that we realised he was intolerant to sugars (as well as lactose and cheese).

TFW: How easy (or not) has it been? How did life have to change in terms of cooking, shopping, sourcing food, recipes, life outside the home?

TFS: It was a lot easier to begin with when Henry didn’t really realise what was happening. We always cook from fresh, so main meals were easy. He had always had cinnamon on porridge for breakfast but instead of following it with a children’s yoghurt, we switched to goats milk yoghurt sweetened with a cinnamon. Shopping was time consuming to begin with. I was genuinely unaware how much sugar is in things like bread, his beloved wraps, cereals and even some crisps! However it only took a few weeks to realise what I could and couldn’t buy. I found that by not having it in the house, it was easier for us all. It’s more difficult when we’re out (the main culprit being ketchup). At first I could just tell him the restaurant had run out, but now he’s nearly four he knows full well I’m fibbing. I believe in everything in moderation, and tell myself that I’m doing better than most when we’re at home and therefore the odd “treat” of a small dollop of ketchup in a restaurant isn’t all bad. (I make my own!)

TFW: What have been the biggest challenges been? Henry himself, or other people?

TFS: The biggest challenge at the moment is kids parties! But I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let him be that kid in the corner who can only snack on natural popcorn. Actually, when he does get a free rein, he often leaves a piece of chocolate cake half-eaten. I suppose it’s just too sweet. I found the grandparents’ attitudes towards it the worst to begin with; I think it’s just their generation. However, even they have noticed a difference in his behaviour, and now they stick to his diet more and more each time they see him. I suppose they have realised what a different boy he is if they are stricter with it. In the beginning I had comments like “well, what can I give him to drink that’s a nice, poor thing, I feel terrible!” Erm… water is nice!

TFW: Has minimising sugar helped Henry? In what way?

TFS: I can’t tell you how much it’s helped. We literally noticed a difference from day one. The funny thing is how much it educated me! Henry and I used to start our day with a homemade smoothie of banana, frozen berries, spinach and flax seed. I thought I was being the best Mum in the world! But actually, I now realise that this wass one of the worst starts I could give him. I wondered why he was bouncing off the walls all morning. The biggest difference I notice is when he does have something sugary (his main triggers are squash, ketchup, beans, and chocolate icecream). I know when to make my excuses, get him away from wherever we are, and back to an environment where he can tear around!

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TFW: Exactly what do you mean by minimising sugar? What do you see as sugar, and do you have any goals in terms of intake, or is it just to reduce it?

TFS: My aim is to reduce it as much as I can, in all forms… when it is within my control. I do allow Henry to have natural sugars in small quantities, but never pureed or in a juice form. I will make substitutes for refined sugars by using natural sugars such as bananas in cakes, cinnamon, agave and sometimes honey. My rationale is that, if I can “control” his sugar intake 80% of the time at home, then it doesn’t matter as much when he is around the bad stuff.

TFW: What has surprised you about this whole venture? Has it been easier or more difficult than you thought?

TFS: It’s got to be not realising how much sugar there was in things. I’m an educated person, but even I was unaware of where it was snuck in. I now choose full-fat rather than the “healthy choice” option (which tends to be padded out with sugar). Smoothies were an eye-opener. The fact that the sugar in smoothies is absorbed in a different way than eating the whole fruit. It’s been easier than I thought, as Henry was young when we started. But, even now he’s older and starting to ask for things, I can just tell him “no, that’s full of sugar, have this instead” and he’s fine. He’s even started to tell people himself that he doesn’t want it.

TFW: What are your top tips for other parents who want to minimise their children’s sugar intake?

TFS: Cinnamon to sweeten porridge and yoghurt has been great, especially as he likes to sprinkle it on and make patterns. I’ve gone back to a lot of the “baby” brands for biscuits etc: although they are sweetened with grape juice, that’s a lot better than refined sugar. The internet has hundreds of blogs, recipes, hints and tips from other parents that have gone sugar free, so it’s a lot easier than it would have been years ago. My top tip would be: cut sugar out yourself for a few weeks, and see the difference it makes to you. As a sugar addict, this has been my biggest learning curve. Monkey see, monkey do! If you don’t eat it, they won’t ask for it.

I’ll leave you with a pic of my nephew lying on my floor having a picnic of nuts, blueberries and oat cakes (if memory serves me correctly)
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Reducing sugar intake (the pre-schooler edition) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


TheFitDog on Take Your Dog To Work Day

June 26, 2014

*This is a blog post from Frankie the office dog*

Yo guys! What. Is. UP?

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Last Friday was Take Your Dog To Work Day. How cool is that?

See, I didn’t realise, but apparently not all humans work at home and this means some dogs get left at home all day, or they go to a different house, or a different human comes in to take them for a walk. I never knew! I sit at home all day (mostly in the garden) and Nic sits at home all day (mostly at her desk). Sweet!

So, I didn’t actually have to be “taken” anywhere or do anything different at all to celebrate “Take Your Dog To Work Day”. I used the time I saved (by not having to commute) to write this blog post.

I’ve actually written about how hard I work in previous blog posts. The best one is probably this one I reckon, it’s got pictures of me with Doom the Gladiator!

Today I thought I would address the important topic of Staying active and limber even when you work from home.

It’s a very important subject. See, most big offices are set up only for people to work in them. That’s the point. So they have proper office chairs, big desks, proper computers with fancy keyboards, and maybe the people who run the office even do “employee wellness” and make the humans do stuff like have health tests and walk about and things. Oh and most offices have stairs, so the humans can be active by walking to other floors and going to meetings.

When Nic is working from home, just writing stuff, she doesn’t do any of that. Nobody makes sure her desk is set up properly, she can sit on any chair she wants, and we have no employee wellness incentives here.

This is my advice to Nic (some of which she does) and it’s my advice to you, too, if you also work at home:

- get a dog ;) They’ll definitely help you be more active, and will also help “top and tail” (<< hahaha!) your day with walks. This in turn helps you create a boundary between work time and home time

- take a proper lunch break even if it’s only 20 minutes, and don’t eat your lunch at your desk

- make activity a big part of your day, and be mindful of it. Walk :D, potter in the garden on your break, go to the gym, walk to do local chores if possible

- don’t sit there for hours and hours and hours! Get up, walk about. Take phone calls standing up. Maybe even set a beeper so you remember to get up even when you’re totally engrossed in your work

- try to separate your work life from your home life, otherwise you might find yourself on that computer morning, noon, and night, weekdays and weekends

- get a separate keyboard for your laptop, one that’s shaped properly by clever people who understand wrist pain and RSI

- don't sit on a rubbishy chair to do your work. Get one of those "saddle stools", seriously, they're great!

- have regular check ups with an osteo, and/or regular massages to keep yourself pain free

- do stretches and postural exercises regularly during the day

Nic doesn't do all of these things :( no matter how often I remind her. She's good at walking, and at going to the gym. She has a saddle stool (best decision ever, she says!) And she sometimes sees massage people and an osteo to keep her relatively pain-free.

One more thing, before I go back into the garden: Take Your Dog To Work Day isn’t just about dogs going to work. It’s a well serious day, actually! It’s all about adopting rescue dogs, and supporting people who work on behalf of rescue dogs, and basically about how brill rescue dogs are and how you humans should all love us! I’m a rescue dog actually, so I’m totally behind this whole thing. Anyway, if you have a mo, check out the Take Your Dog To Work Day website and maybe see what you can do to help. Not every dog is as lucky as me, you know!

Bye!

TheFitDog on Take Your Dog To Work Day is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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