There are a plethora of low-carbohydrate diets in the market place and loads of studies linking refined (processed) carbs to chronic illness and obesity. It now seems that carbs, like fat - its predecessor, has become food enemy number one without us having a broad understanding of what carbs are and how we can utilise them to our advantage. We tend to look at food containing carbohydrate cautiously and the food industry, as per usual, are riding on the back of this like Zorro.
So let’s set the record straight: Heavy consumption of refined carbs affects gut health and the body’s hormones, leading to fat storage and inflammation. However, for muscle growth, general wellbeing and performance, healthy, complex carbohydrates are a necessity. The challenge being for a large majority of us who are chained to our desks or leading a sedentary lifestyle, is knowing what carbs to eat and when. Having this knowledge and understanding a process called carb cycling is a sure way for you to find better balance during your working week and manipulate carb consumption to maximise muscle growth while minimising the negative affects of over-consumption.
Now, carb cycling is often used by body builders and it means following a strict protocol, which isn’t for everyone. However, implementing the basic rules of carbs cycling during your working week, will have a profound affect on your health and your waistline. Cutting back on your starchy carbs will generate results and more importantly for many people it does mean you can alternate between high-carb days and low carbs days. I’m sure we all agree that complete restriction is depressing and unsustainable.
How does carb cycling work?
Carbohydrate cycling is a process which is going to enable fat loss without sacrificing performance and muscle gains. It requires you to alternate between High Carbohydrate days (Training days) and Low Carbohydrate days (Non-training
days). On your rest days (the days you’re sitting behind your desk with minimal physical activity) you are predominantly using fat to fuel your body, therefore there is very little use for lots of carbohydrates (the energy used to work at a much faster pace). You want to force your body to access more fat stores and not store the carbs you eat as fat because they are not being used. You have to bear in mind that your body can only store a certain amount of glycogen (converted carbs), so an excess of carbs (especially on your non-training day) will result in turning those carbs to fat for storage.
Your working week is going to be divided in to 2 types of day:
Low Carb day (non-training day)
On these days you will eat high fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, onions, peppers, mushrooms, leafy greens and asparagus. Refrain from eating energy dense, starchy carbs such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals and oats. Get your carbohydrate from fibrous vegetables and don’t get too hung up on counting calories. Do your best to avoid stodgy foods, get those veggies on-board and remember to increase your protein and good fat intake.
High Carb day (training day)
This is a day when you can eat more energy dense carbs, but make sure your sources are from complex and healthy, slow releasing carbs, as opposed to carbs that are quickly absorbed. Remember this is your training day and if there is
a time for you to sin a little it is straight after your workout. If you’re following my wellbeing programme and doing a 30 minute HIIT training session 3 times per week, you want to create a sugar spike post-workout with some faster absorbing carbs, so the hormone insulin can quickly help replenish the glycogen (glucose) that has been depleted from your muscles during your workout. A high carb day is not an excuse to binge eat, it’s a systematic way to reset muscle-building and fat burning hormones. Since carbohydrate intake will be increased on the re-feed days, it is important to scale back the fat and protein intake slightly. Carbohydrates have a protein sparing effect so less dietary protein is required.
From a psychological and scientific perspective this watered down version of carbohydrate cycling can be a satisfying method for achieving your weight and fitness goals. It is not an extreme way of staying lean or losing fat and it means on certain days you can enjoy a complex carbohydrates guilt free. Ultimately this equates to sustainability and you are far more likely to adhere to a programme like mine and the demands of your training schedule.
I know many of you are sitting at your desk feeling your belt digging into your waistline, feeling sluggish and out of shape.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
You can broaden your knowledge and learn science based life hacks which will turn things around for you. Carb cycling is one of my best tips if you’re looking to get lean and more toned whilst sitting at your desk. Short, effective lunchtime workouts is another, but I’ll talk to you about that another day.
Have a good day at the office and thanks for taking the time to read this.
If you’re anything like me, over a 16 hour period you charge from one important meeting to another. I’m up at 5.30am most days, training clients, calling into businesses, running my own business (although at times I think it’s running me) and doing my best to be a good husband and a fun but responsible (an emphasis on the word ‘responsible’) dad to my two lovely, little kids. There are not enough hours in the day, and I’ll be honest, for many years I’ve found it really hard to fit in all the elements of my life that are most important to me.
It was only a few months ago that I found myself delivering a corporate fitness class in Hyde Park, before darting across West London to watch my son in his first school rugby match. In my attempt to win the ‘parent of the year’ award, the 1-hour journey to Richmond was fraught with a plethora of self-induced mental obstacles and a build-up of internal pressure. I was questioning my sanity, worrying about work and getting frustrated with the lack of structure to my life. I was victim to the high levels of stress I encourage my clients to avoid and upon arrival at the game (bang on the start whistle) I was close to a cardiac arrest. I’m not sure how ‘health professional’ I looked when I collapsed on the sideline.
The game/tournament only lasted 15 minutes (45 minutes less than I anticipated), but my son’s year were victorious. Post-match celebrations were comparable to England winning the World Cup final against Australia in 2003, but it was great to see the boys embrace the true spirit of rugby and a joy seeing the little band of brothers enjoy the highs of winning and doing it together as a team.
My journey back into London was much calmer than my outbound trip. I was rational again and reflective. To see my son’s little face light up when I arrived at his first game was all I needed to put things into perspective. I not only realised how important it was for him to have me there, but how much I needed to be there for myself. The whole experience left me thinking how easily I let myself get sucked into a world that pulls me away from my main priorities, such as my health and having fun and happy times with my friends and family. I consider myself incredibly fortunate because I love my work, however, I do need to remind myself every now and again that my existence is more than my career. There are other elements to my life that give it greater purpose. It’s very easy to be complacent and I’m sure, at one time of another, we have all experienced ways in which the world provides harsh and cruel ways of reminding us what we value most. Why is it we have to feel unwell before we appreciate our health? Or experience great, personal loss for us to truly value life itself and the people we love? I have neglected both at various times, but this is not about me sharing my guilt or insinuating that you should feel guilty for the way you think or behave. It’s about appealing to your intelligence and asking you to consider adjustments to your current way of living to make you feel more centred and calm. It’s about being mindful and reflective occasionally. Wellbeing isn’t about thrashing out a session at the gym or going on a two week fat loss plan. It’s about finding overall balance, mentally, physically and socially. I’m not dismissing the importance of financial stability, just merely trying to find perspective and with it share the notion that equilibrium is fundamental to our health, our happiness and our continued existence.
In essence the rugby game was about 7 year olds throwing a ball around and rolling around in the mud. But it felt much more than that to me. It was about the connection between my son and I, and perhaps nature’s way of telling me that wellbeing is as much about relationships as it is my work, eating, drinking and sleeping well. Perhaps we should consider that there is a time and a place for everything in our lives. If something is important to you and beneficial to your wellbeing and the people around you, then surely your actions need no justification.
There is one sure thing in life, we are all destined to die. I’ve met many people who use this fact to justify their ambivalence toward wellbeing and health information. It’s not that I pursue good health in the hope of immortality. I just believe wellness is about being able to fully enjoy the time we have on this planet. For me it’s about being able to stay strong and healthy for my family. It’s so I can fully enjoy this journey and have fun and adventure long after retirement. It’s an investment which runs alongside financial stability, and it’s about being as functional as possible throughout my entire life to try and avoid disabling, painful, and lengthy battles with illness and disease. There are better ways to die, and to live.
PS I'm welcoming people to share my vision for hardworking people. Click here if you'd like to get started on your own wellbeing journey.
Are you struggling to get (and keep) slim, fit, happy and healthy during your working week because you're tied to your desk most of your week, slouched over your computer and eating too many office cakes?...what is it with office cakes?
There are millions of people all over the world who are letting their office job negatively affect their posture, their mental health and their waistline. You're not alone!
Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is:
What am I going to do about it and why would I turn to Zip Fit Club for help?
It's a fair question, and the one I endeavour to answer within every aspect of our business. How can we make sure busy, working people have the tools they need to get fit and healthy during their working week?
I'll let you read on if you're interested in finding out more. Firstly I'm going to share a brief history…
In 2010 I delivered a health and wellness presentation at the Google office, Victoria, and went on to train some of their team in Hyde Park, London. It was a sunny day in the park and a conversation with a time poor, working mum that gave me the idea to provide short, effective and convenient workouts to busy people. Zip Fit Club was born. It was (is!) all about people zipping out of their office to clear their mind, get some fresh air and do something physical to mitigate against the negative health implications associated with leading a sedentary lifestyle.
We continue to offer group classes in Hyde Park for individuals who want to zip out in their lunch break, and we have been developing our relationships with businesses. We now deliver many private corporate classes across London, which is having such a positive impact on peoples' lives. You can find out more about these services by clicking on the links below.
I always felt that to truly engage with employees and improve organisational culture, Zip Fit Club needed to offer more than training in the park. I started exploring other areas of wellbeing in the workplace, with the idea of creating an entire wellness package that would get office workers slim, fit, happy and healthy during their working week.
We launched 'The Wellbeing Being Guide For Busy People' in January 2019, and it's specifically designed to get people into the best physical and mental shape possible. It contains short, manageable and highly effective methods that are preventative against the negative health implications of working in a demanding and pressurised environment. In a nut-shell it teaches office workers how to train smart during their working week.
The programme provides the following:
I created this programme to make sure that hardworking people, who are letting their health suffer in the workplace, can have access to an intervention that will radically transform their body, their mind and their working week.
If you like the sound of this and are keen to get started without making a full commitment, click the link below to have 7 days of wellness tips delivered straight to your inbox.
I hope you'll join our club and help yourself make the essential changes to your life so you can improve your health, your happiness and your performance.
I’d like you to read this story about Joe. Yes, it’s our customer avatar and a fictional piece but sadly it’s also a realty for lots of people and an all too familiar truth about how we lose our way in life.
Joe is a 40 year old, career driven man. He works long hours in the office to support his family. He and his wife have had two children within the last 5 years, so the pressure is on to sustain a decent income and work at the pace his employer has become accustomed to. He needs to pay his mortgage and cover monthly bills, likes to take his family on a couple of holidays each year, he goes on many social events and dines out with customers a lot. It goes with the turf! Joe earns an above average wage but he doesn’t manage to save a huge amount each month. The cost of living is rising.
Joe has worked in an office most of his adult life and has noticed, over time, that his waist line is getting bigger. He’s got a stiff back and neck from being slumped over his desk all day long, he’s eating anything and everything at his desk - knowing that most of what he consumes is not good for him and he lacks energy. Sedentary work life is taking its toll on his body, he’s not coping with the everyday stresses that his job throws at him and it’s affecting his performance. He feels negative thoughts creeping in too often and he doesn’t like how that makes him feel about himself.
Joe hasn’t always been this way. Joe used to be very active when he was younger. He enjoyed exercise a few times each week and as a result considered himself a pretty fit bloke. He often managed to do some exercise before or after work, but now, if he hasn’t got a client dinner or a project that needs finishing, he rushes home to read his kids a story before bed. By the time they are in bed he is shattered and ready for bed himself. He is starting to resent certain elements of his life. He is not seeing his kids and his wife as much as he would like and he has very little time to pursue any hobbies, including the necessity he feels to keep fit and healthy. Joe is searching for an answer to his frustrations. He wants to start up some exercise again, but doesn’t know what to do, where to go or who to turn to. He finds the whole gym experience quiet frustrating. He can’t get there half the time, he often feels unsure about what exercises he needs to be doing to achieve his goals and he gets bored working out on his own and with no direction. What Joe wants is something affordable, near to his office, some guidance and support so he can make better choices. He is time poor so it has to be something quick and effective. He is worried about his future because he has known too many people look forward to their retirement plans only for them to be scuppered by longterm, serious illness. He doesn’t want this to happen to him, but deep down it’s what he envisages if he doesn’t start sorting himself out. He wants to travel and be a strong for his kids and grandchildren. He wants to spend his hard earned cash on adventures with the people he loves. Most of all he wants to get back in good shape and feel healthy and normal again. He’s got himself stuck in a rut and is sick of making the same old promises to himself about changing things but not taking action and seeing those promises through.
The End…not of Joe! : )
I’m pretty sure (having worked in the corporate fitness industry for the last 8 years) that if you’re reading this, you can relate to Joe and understand the negative health problems associated with office work. It is certainly strikes a cord with me, which is why I’ve spent the last two years writing and developing an online wellbeing guide,“The Wellbeing Guide For Busy People” that helps office workers positively change their behaviour, their attitude and their working week.
If you would like to learn more about my approach, click the link below and you’ll have some of my best wellbeing tips delivered straight to your inbox over the next 7 days. You’ll even get the chance to sample one of my audio training sessions.
What have you got to lose?…apart from some bad habits perhaps.
I’d like to go back to a story I told a couple of years ago, when on one very wet September day in the park, I put one of our Zip Fit members through our wettest workout on record. Do you remember that one, Koert? It was bucketing down! but fun in a sadistic way. When Koert turned up to an empty Hyde Park, apart from the solitary and sodden figure that would be me, the rain was torrential and we were both soaked to the bone before the session had even started. The look we exchanged was one of many complexities. It was obvious that neither of us could decide whether we had lost sight of our senses or we were just plain stupid for contemplating training in such conditions. I’m sure we were both secretly hoping that one of us would back down and decide that the best place to be at that moment was somewhere devoid of any form of water. I was close to suggesting a run to the pub as the workout.
Koert and I joked briefly about being real men and heroes of our time, as though the bravado would, in biblical terms, part the sea and wash away this force of nature. But it wasn’t to be. Bizarrely we moved on to converse about something far more serious, which held a surprising juxtaposition next to the ludicrousness of the situation. We stood in the pouring rain and had a chat about what motivates us to stay fit, strong and healthy, even beneath apocalyptic skies.
It turns out that, Koert and I had a similar opinion on this topic (hence being out in the rain like dumb and dumber) and it can be summed up with one simple statement and one which, Koert and I agreed upon:
‘One day we won’t be able to do this!’
It’s a sobering thought, but it is a reality all the same and something the majority of us are guilty of, in various measures, is neglecting our bodies and living under the illusion that we will stay young and healthy forever.
Events over the years have made this far more a reality for me. It wasn’t that long ago in Bournemouth when my own dad, who was waiting for a heart bypass operation, turned to me defeated by a short but steep hill walk from the beach to the apartment, and said in-between breaths – ‘Do you know what Chris, I would do anything to be able to run again…or march up the hills in the lakes like we used to do together’ and I knew exactly what he meant. I remember the strong man he used to be and how, as a young boy, I saw him as a pillar of strength, dare I say immortal? It saddens me deeply to see how, after years of neglect and too much stress, it has left him weak and vulnerable. Sadder still is that I am now acutely aware of his mortality. Life is indeed very precious.
My father’s bad health has become my biggest motivation to stay healthy (well that and my slightly competitive nature). I want to stay strong, well balanced and physically able to push myself when required. I want to bound around with my children for as long as possible and show them that they too can live their life with energy and youthfulness. I want to enjoy my retirement with travel and adventure, not live at the peril of a body that has packed up before my mind is ready. It’s not easy, but that’s what I aim for.
What is your motivation? Do you have one? Can you think of one if you don’t have one? Once you have decided what that is, hold it close to you and draw upon it when it’s easier to lie on the sofa rather than exercise. When you least feel like doing some physical activity is when you should throw on your training gear, do up your laces and get moving. We are not designed to lounge around and sit all the time and you have an opportunity to keep yourself strong and healthy for your future.
If you like outdoor fitness then go and enjoy it – whatever the weather. There is no gym in the world that can offer you an array of seasons and colours and ignite your senses the way working out in parks, fields, mountains and by the sea can do. That workout in the damp and muddy park, the clouds sweeping across the sky, the sound of the beating rain on your head and the feeling of your heart drumming hard in your chest, might be the place you dream of one day, when you are wondering where time has gone and how you’ve lost that strong and youthful person you once were.
Just over 12 months ago my father (Pops as we call him) had a double heart bypass and a new aortic valve. It is simply incredible what medical science has allowed surgeons to become skilled at and master. During 8 hours of surgery the patient is connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, so the surgeon can work on a non beating heart without interference. A healthy artery or vein is grafted (attached) to a blocked coronary (heart) artery. This allows the grafted artery to “bypass” the blocked artery and bring fresh blood to the heart. The choice for a new aortic valve is either a pig valve (yes the animal pig) or a mechanical valve. In my dad’s case (because of his age) they chose the shorter shelf life but better quality pig valve. Jokes post surgery about needing oinkment and new fetishes for rolling round in mud, did not go down as well as I had envisaged. I was only trying to put a smile on his face.
The importance of the heart, in both its essence and functionality, is undisputed. From a spiritual point of view we talk about our heart (and that of others) as though it controls our beliefs, which includes who we love and the path in life we take. There is scientific proof these days that the heart does indeed have it’s own energy field, which does, to some degree, control our emotions and thoughts and can effect how others respond to us.
Experiments during natural disasters and catastrophes have measured an increase energy force from the heart on a global level, which stem from a collective feeling of sympathy and compassion. Perhaps this muscular power house, so vital to our continued existence, does actually drive our intuition, our ability to love and be loved and have some jurisdiction over the journey on which we boldly travel.
The function of the heart is to pump blood so it can transport oxygen and vital nutrients around the body and to the muscles. It has two circulatory systems, one for blood low in oxygen, which requires a journey to the lungs to receive oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide, and one for oxygenated blood, where the oxygen is used for energy and the metabolism to carbon dioxide.
Like any other muscle in the body the heart needs exercise (chronic cardio training) because when we train the heart grows bigger, gets stronger and beats harder. A conditioned heart beats much less at rest, only 40 to 50 beats per minute or even less (as opposed to the average 72 beats or more), which means that with each beat there is a bigger burst of blood and fewer heart beats are needed. The cardiac output, stroke volume and functionality of the heart and arteries are drastically improved with aerobic work (running, swimming, cycling, walking) on a daily basis. Internal blockages from bad diets (too many saturated and trans fats, sugars, alcohol and smoke) and little exercise can, over the years, lead to a sluggish motor that is chugging along at best, unable to provide the body with all the oxygen that it requires. This is what happened to my dad and I thank the wonders of medicine and some talented people for their intervention. There is no doubt at all that without it my dad would be on a road to meeting his maker. It was clearly an emotional time for my father leaving the hospital. I think he felt, as we all did, that he may not make it. When my mum picked him to head home he was standing fully dressed, tears rolling down his cheeks. He was vulnerable and scared, but beneath that just grateful to be alive.
We feel love, believe and trust with this muscular power house, its design is such that it drums on, responding to electrical impulses as it continuously beats throughout our lives.Typically a human heart has the capacity to beat over 2.5 billion times. It never gets a day off, it never sleeps and it loves exercise. Next time you hear a pounding in your chest, listen carefully and remember there is a life long friend in there, guiding you emotionally and driving all the other body mechanisms. Maybe you should consider giving it as much love and attention as it gives you.
You’ve got a million things on your mind, deadlines to meet and a boss breathing down your neck. How could you possibly consider doing a 30-minute fitness session in your lunch break?
Well, you should and you can. Just about everybody has time to do something active and healthy with their lunch break but it does require good organisation skills, some willpower and a desire to break some rather damaging office habits.
Think what you do with your own lunch break. Do you find yourself tapping out messages on your phone, eating yet another office cake or heading out for a meal deal and your third latte (oops!)? Even if you type at lightning speed or spin around on your chair at great velocity, you’re not going to loosen that top button or undo your devolutionary monkey slump.
If this sounds all too familiar, perhaps it’s time for you to look at this wasted bit of time and rethink your lunchtime antics. Take some time to consider what a short and effective training session three times per week can do for your body, your sanity and your future? Grab yourself a green tea and listen in…
Sitting down has a negative impact on your posture, circulation and mobility. We are designed to move…a lot. When you’re not moving your muscles and bones become weak and you lose balance. You become tight and stiff, your metabolism slows down and all the unused calories that you’re consuming get stored around your hips and waistline. The long-term threat to your health is severe and the worst thing about it is that most people are not conscious of this until the damage has been done. Poor health in the workplace slowly destroys your body, your mind and your happiness.
Worry not! While this is all a touch depressing you can turn your life around quite quickly, make some small adjustments to your working week and begin to shape up, slim down and turbo charge your life (not to mention your 3 o’clock slump). There are interventions at hand and it’s not rocket science. Lunchtimes are the perfect (yes perfect) opportunity to Zip out of your office to burn calories, boost your metabolism, stretch tight muscles and improve the functionality of your heart, lungs, muscles and joints.
There is a plethora of science supporting short, convenient bursts of fast exercise, but even swapping a few sugary treats with a walk and talk in the fresh air is a good start. Grab an office buddy or suggest a meeting in a local park for a change. Fresh air and an increase in blood flow and oxygen to the brain might just give you the perspective you’ve been searching for. It has to be better than another boring sandwich.