How ‘diets’ are ruining our health

In a recent Facebook poll (via FMH Fitness), 64 woman voted as to whether they had in their life been on some sort of diet (whether that be WW, SW, Atkins, Cambridge, Juicing, Keto etc). 81% of those women said yes.

In a recent study published in April 2019, a study suggested that 1 in 5 deaths globally are caused by poor diet. “In 2017, more deaths were caused by diets with too low amounts of foods such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds than by diets with high levels of foods like trans fats, sugary drinks, and high levels of red and processed meats” – [1]

When someone wants to lose weight, I’m almost certain that the majority would say ‘I need to go on a diet’, rather than ‘I need to change my lifestyle’. In a world where diet pills and meal replacement shakes are available at the click of a button, it is easy to see how those who don’t have an understanding of nutrition would want to choose the ‘easy option’.

People who choose ‘diets’ over ‘lifestyle changes’ often see very quick results. Why? Because some of these diets put people into huge calorie deficits. Keto for example – you’re eliminating carbohydrates from your daily intake. On average, your daily carbohydrates intake should be around 50-60%. Eliminate this and you’re cutting a lot of calories. Meal replacement shakes? Again, you’re cutting a lot of calories. The problem with the diets is A) you are potentially missing out on some major macro and micronutrients that your body requires, leading to poor health as stated above, and B) as soon as you start eating ‘normally’ again, I can almost guarantee you will put the weight back on because you will no longer be in a calorie deficit.

My advice for anyone looking to lose weight and sustain it:

  1. Track your food and exercise through My Fitness Pal to ensure that you are in a calorie deficit
  2. Focus on high protein foods (for muscle repair and reducing hunger levels)
  3. Put more focus onto adding healthier & more nutritious foods into your diet, rather than focusing on what you need to take away
  4. Move more

In my opinion, someone should only be on a ‘diet’ if there is a medical reason for doing so (for example, I recently followed a Low FODMAP diet due to symptoms of IBS). The absolute best thing anyone can do who is wanting to lose weight is to make gradual and sustainable lifestyle changes. Drink more water, eat more fruit and veg, have one takeaway a week instead of two, go for a walk, participate in a sport – any of these things are much more likely to give you long-term results, instead of making yourself miserable on an unhealthy and restrictive diet.



‘I’d rather be fat & happy’

Whilst training my clients I often hear the phrase “I’d rather be fat and happy” (usually when we get to the burpee part of the workout). It’s such a simple phrase, but one that should be explored. The people that I hear this from are people who have spent the time to book, pay for, and attend either Personal Training Sessions or Classes. But that is the major difference between them and other people. They have made an active effort to change or make an improvement in their current lifestyle. So regardless of whether they hate working out or whether they temporarily (I hope!) hate me at that moment in time because of what I have programmed for them, they are still physically there putting the work in to achieve a desired outcome, whether that be fat loss, increased fitness or improved health.

But then you have other people who say “I’d rather be fat and happy” and put this into action by not exercising. Now there is nothing wrong with this if that is their personal preference. I literally don’t care what size they are and whether they train or not. Their life, their choice.

What I do care about though, is peoples perception of exercise and its importance in every day life. Because, people should not hear the word ‘exercise’ and only associate it with being ‘thin’ ‘slim’ ‘skinny’ or any other mentally detrimental word. Because, exercise is so much more than that.

‘…running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%’ [].

For me personally, mental health is the biggest driving force behind my desire to exercise. Anyone who knows me will know that my life is not straightforward and filled with sunshine and flowers. I work ridiculous hours to run my own business, I raise a small human alone (and that human is nocturnal for the majority of the hours that I wish to sleep), and I generally just have to be an adult and deal with bills and food shopping and all those annoying adulting things that sends every persons stress levels through the roof. The kind of stress which makes them want to binge eat cake and drink all the gin. But exercise gets me through all of that. It is the one thing I will always make time for because actually, it’s the only time I get FOR ME. Exercise boosts energy levels, it improves your physical health, and I don’t know about you guys, but it is quite often my go to for stress relief when punching someone in the face is frowned upon (annoying).

Exercise has so many huge benefits including improved cardiovascular health, increased mobility, reduced risks of chronic diseases, improved sleep, enhanced self-esteem etc etc (the list really is endless).

So again, if you want to be someone that does absolutely no exercise because you would rather be ‘fat and happy’, then please be my guest, because it is your life and not mine. But take a moment to sit back and think about all of the great improvements that exercise could bring to your life. And, if you are as you say, ‘fat’ (for the purpose of this discussion, let’s please word this correctly and say overweight/obese) – are you actually happy about that? Will you still be happy about that in 2, 5 or even 10 years time when you’re suffering the possible side effects of obesity coupled with an inactive lifestyle?

It isn’t easy. NO ONE is saying it is easy. Finding the motivation, determination, willpower and even time to exercise and eat well is bloody hard work. For some people there are huge barriers in the way, for example things like socio-economic status, chronic disease or mental health issues; we cannot ignore the fact that it is considerably harder for these people to actively pursue a healthier lifestyle. There are other people though, however, who simply choose to not exercise because ‘they don’t like it’. I wonder if these people actually just don’t like ‘the gym’, but haven’t found an alternative yet that they do like? That’s cool, we can work with that. Maybe joining a club like netball or tennis, walking to work or the shops instead of driving, walking the dog (or if you don’t have a dog, borrow someones dog?!), gardening, or maybe even a home workout dvd?

If we took our focus away from our body image, and turned our attention to our health, maybe it would seem a whole lot easier/more important.


The Journey of FMH Fitness

It was September 2014 that I became a Personal Trainer, but FMH Fitness didn’t reaaaally become a business until January 2018. Partially because at the start it was a whole new ball game to me after 7 years in Childcare and Education, and looking back now, I had SO much to learn. Mainly though, because life was just bloody mental for one reason or another, and it wasn’t until I had my daughter and was left to raise her alone that I actually got my sh*t together and could finally put in 100% to make my mark in the industry.

So where did this desire to become a Personal Trainer come from? Sit back and grab a cuppa…

I was a really self conscious kid from the start from what I remember. Like most kids, I was bullied (kids are bloody cruel). I wasn’t even big, maybe a bit chubbs, but not big. I was definitely that pain in the arse child that wouldn’t eat their lunch so had to be sat with until I’d eaten a ‘suitable amount’ to be able to go out and play. But equally I was definitely the kid at Christmas who said yes to third portions of pud (who even says no to extra Chocolate Gateux!)

During my teens I spent 99.9% of my time worrying about what I looked like. I obsessed about being ‘fat’. I had periods where I would obsess over calories and staying below a certain number. I was so desperate to be ‘skinny’. This is something I can say I honestly didn’t grow out of until I had my daughter, and then reality slapped me in the face. I hated PE at school, I refused to get dressed in the changing rooms and would only do so in the toilets, and I literally passed out within the first 5 minutes of the School Cross Country. Yet for some unknown reason I picked PE as a GCSE?! I failed by the way. I really hated it.

It was my best friend asking me to join her for an outdoor bootcamp around 2012 that started it all. We went once, and then we were hooked. From what I remember we went 2-3 times a week, maybe even more, whether it was rain, sun or snow. We LOVED it. A group of lads from the Bootcamp convinced us to do Tough Mudder with them. We turned up, they didn’t meet us, we nailed it alone (one of whom I’m still friends with and if you’re reading this we still haven’t forgiven you!). Then we became obsessed with Obstacles Races/Running and considered ourselves pretty hardcore. We joined a new gym in Swindon, and that’s where my Personal Training Journey began.

It was not the easiest of starts to a new career. Due to personal circumstances in my home life there were huge barriers in the way. My confidence was at an all-time low. I knew what I wanted to achieve but I just wasn’t able to for so many reasons. Then I became pregnant with my beautiful little girl, which obviously had such a huge impact no my life that work was no longer the priority. Until June 2017, when I began to raise this girl alone. Then work had to become my priority.

FMH Fitness has really taken off since then, especially over the last 18 months – and something I am told regularly is that it is because of my honesty about my own journey, and how relatable other women find it. My attitude towards Health & Fitness has changed dramatically since having my daughter and is a whole world away from where I was just a few years ago.

I have been underweight, overweight, lean and pregnant. I have suffered bouts of depression/anxiety for various reasons. I have survived an abusive relationship and raised a child alone. But all of these different experiences have taught me so many different lessons and changed my attitude towards myself and my clients in so many ways. A fitness journey to me is no longer black and white ‘diet and exercise’. Being ‘skinny’ is no longer an acceptable goal. Other people in the industry are no longer ‘the competition’. I am now at a place where I am accepting and somewhat, content, with my body. Some days I’m even quite happy with it. I have realistic goals and expectations. My focus has shifted from aesthetics, to health. Above all else, I strive every day to be the best role model for my little girl.

I have learnt so much and continue to learn more every day, and I hope that I can begin to start sharing more of this with you through this blog and through any sessions that you may attend!

Here is to building an army of strong, empowered and beautiful women!

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