Life & Living
Health & Fitness
I’m a 41 year old mother of two & Personal Fitness coach. I work one to one, in person & online with clients aged 18-80. My specialisms include pre & postnatal training, cancer rehab, pilates, & GP exercise referrals. I run fitness classes online and in person in the Suffolk Coastal area. I am also a Mental Health First aider.
Mirafit 3pce kettlebell weight set with stand (total 30lbs), £29.95,
Resistance band tubing set – 11 piece home workout, ankle straps & door anchor, £19.99, www.mymeglio.com
“I just want to tone up my wobbly bits…”
I hear variations of this phrase every day. As a coach who works predominantly with women, I would say at least 60% of my clients come to me with this type of goal.
There are lots of fitness programmes, gadgets, diet plans and shakes that promise to ‘burn fat’ and ‘tone’ your tummy/bum/ thighs, but is that really how it works?
The short answer is no.
Let’s break it down a little bit. When we see someone who looks ‘toned’, what actually gives that particular body part that firm appearance, is muscle, not fat. Fat cannot be ‘toned’
However, despite what some people may have you believe, exercising a body part does not burn fat in that area. That’s just not how it works I’m afraid…If you are carrying more body fat than you would like in a particular area, in order to get that toned appearance, you will need to develop the muscle, while reducing your body fat.
I like to use the Sun vs Clouds analogy. The sun is always there, shining in the sky, but on days where there is cloud cover, it’s much harder to see. It’s the same with your muscles.
Trust me they are there, if they weren’t you wouldn’t be able to stand upright!
For most people having toned legs/arms/abs etc, serves no useful purpose other than aesthetics. But, we do know that having lots of excess body fat can increase your chances of suffering from health complaints including heart disease, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure and cancer. So from a health point of view, wanting to reduce body fat is not always a bad thing.
So how do you do it?
Lift heavy stuff!
Resistance training using either weights, or your own body weight is absolutely key to developing muscle. A resistance based exercise session will use as many calories (if not more) as cardio exercise, and will also benefit your heart in the same way, with the added bonus it will also help to develop muscle. This is essential if you are trying to tone, but is also really important to help protect our bones and joints. Aim for 2-3 sessions per week that use resistance. From an overall health point of view, try for a minimum of 150 mins of exercise per week. Break this up however you like. Do exercise you enjoy, whether that’s dog walks, fitness classes, hitting the gym, or running around with the kids.
Eating a well balanced diet with all of the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats), in the appropriate proportions and serving sizes. Protein is absolutely essential to help build and develop muscle, but in my experience, most people do not get enough in their diets. As a rough starting point, most adults should aim for around a 30g serving at each meal.
Daily activity levels:
Be as active as you can day to day. Find ways to add in extra movement to your normal daily routine. A few steps here and there may not seem much but it all adds up when we’re trying to burn a few more calories to help reduce body fat.
Get good quality sleep & less stress: Being permanently tired and stressed can affect our hormones which then affects our motivation, energy, mood and appetite. This can mean we eat more, and move less, which is likely to lead to increased body fat.