1. Principles of progression

Progressive overload - for a body to progress it must be active at increasing levels, it must be gradually encouraged to work harder.  Now that doesnít mean that you have to keep increasing things until youíre spending all day exercising, it just means that due to adaptation the body will alter to enhance its ability to perform.  When the body is asked to work harder, physiological changes occur, particularly during periods of rest between activities.  To prevent injury appropriate rest must be given.  Therefore a fine balance must be found between work and rest to optimise training. 

If progressive overload is not constantly applied, the body reaches a point where it can happily meet the demands made upon it and adaptation stops, this is known as
plateauing. Weíve all experienced the new surge of enthusiasm for an exercise plan, diligently attended a new gym or gone out walking and begun to feel good and see improvements - then all of a sudden what we once found easy becomes harder again, improvements and results stop and it all becomes too much trouble! Thatís the plateau.  If you donít keep changing things, progressing different aspects of your programme then your body stops improving.

Each activity requires the ability to perform a different mix from the five components of fitness and this needs to be taken into account when setting goals. 
Specificity means that to increase efficiency in one task then specific training is required.  There is little point concentrating on yoga if your goal is to run a marathon! Flexibility will undoubtedly improve your recovery but itís unlikely to improve your running ability directly, for that you need to run.  And likewise if your goal is to be able to maintain your garden at the weekend without seizing up for the rest of the week then there is little point in spending hours jogging.

The thing that creates the most challenge for the average member of the population is
adherence - the requirement to keep exercising.  If I could find a way to freeze a persons level of fitness once they had attained a level they were happy with - I would be a millionaire.  The principle of reversibility is in my opinion the worst.  Once you stop exercising all the gains youíve made begin to disappear.

2. Six tips for a healthier you

Ideally you need to have your actual calorie requirement worked out but failing that there are a number of steps you can take to become healthier and leaner.

1. Consume fewer calories from processed foods.  Generally foods closer to their natural state will have less hidden fat, sugar and e-numbers than processed foods.  Buy fresh and cook it yourself - that way you know whatís in it.

2. Reduce your portion size, chew your food and stop when you are full are all good ways to take control of your eating.

3. Aim for 3 meals and 2 snacks during the day. Eating smaller amounts more often will level blood sugar and insulin levels, curbing cravings and boosting your metabolism.

4. Drink plenty of water (no water used to scald a tea-bag doesnít count!)

5. Add as much activity into your day as you can - e.g. walk up and down stairs during the advert breaks whilst watching TV in the evenings, take stairs whenever thereís a choice, go for a walk during your lunch break, etc.

6. Rest - relaxation and sleep are also very important parts of a healthy lifestyle.  Stress has been linked to many health problems so take time to relax.  Without sleep the body cannot repair itself so work out how many hours you require and aim to achieve that goal on a daily basis.

3. There are 5 main components of physical fitness:

Cardiovascular - this is the ability of your heart and lungs to transport and utilise oxygen, i.e. the ability to take a flight of stairs without the need for an oxygen mask at the top.

Muscular strength - is the muscles ability to generate force against physical objects, i.e. lift shopping, or grandchildren etc.

Muscular endurance - is the ability of your muscles to contract repeatedly, i.e. perform a repetitive job such as gardening.

Flexibility - refers to the ability of your joints to move through a full range of motion.  A good level of flexibility in the muscles helps to prevent injury.

Motor skills - refers to sequences of movements performed in a smooth, efficient way. Hand to eye co-ordination and balance and are examples motor skills. 

Each of these components is required for functional health.  Functional health is not only an absence of disease but also a personís ability to perform everyday tasks in their social roles at work and at home.  If any one of these components becomes impaired for any reason then everyday life tends to become more difficult.

Body fat - the dreaded layer that coats us all with more and more ease with each passing year - though not a component of physical fitness has a significant effect on our ability to achieve a good standard in the fab 5.

4. What are the physiological changes as we age?  

Age sees a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat which causes the metabolic rate to lower meaning calories once used to fuel muscles are now stored as fat.

Heart and Lungs
The size and strength of the muscles of the heart decrease which in turn causes higher blood pressure.  Reduced strength of the respiratory muscle, increased stiffness of the chest wall and closures of small arteries make breathing more difficult. The efficiency of the lungs decreases by up to 40-50% by the age of 70; this progressive decline in oxygen uptake may cause a person to feel tired more quickly.

Muscles and bones
Muscle mass decreases by approximately 30% between ages 50 and 70.  Joints become stiffer and unstable which together with a lack of flexibility causes greater instability and loss of balance, increasing the risk of a fall.  Synovial fluid in the joint capsule decreases causing cartilage and bone to rub and cause discomfort and a loss of calcium and bone mineral causeís brittle bones.

5. Self esteem and body image

Self-esteem is central to good mental and physical health, while self-dislike degrades health and performance.

How we feel about ourselves crucially affects virtually every aspect of our experience - from the way we function at work, in love, in sex, how we operate as parents, to how high in life we are likely to rise. The dramas in our lives are reflections of our most private visions of our-selves.  Self-esteem is the key to success or failure.

The self-esteem check-up

Rate from 0 - 10 how much you agree with each of the following statements. 0 means you completely disbelieve it, 10 means, you think it is completely true.


1.  I am a worthwhile person
2.  I am as valuable as a person as anyone else.
3.  I have the qualities I need to live well.
4.  When I look into my eyes in the mirror I have a pleasant feeling.
5.  I am happy to be me.
6.  I like myself, even when others reject me.
7.  I love and support myself regardless of what happens.
8. I am generally satisfied with the way I am developing as a person.
9. I respect myself.
10. Iíd rather be me than someone else.

Did you score lots of low numbers?  Are there areas that you feel need work?  If the answer to these questions is yes - you may need body image counselling. See 'when negative body image becomes a problem' (below) for more information.

Along with my work as a personal trainer I also work with people who arenít yet ready or able to take-up some form of exercise/eating plan, those who feel that even the thought of exercise is too much.  Working together on the issues surrounding body image steps can be found to start a change. See ĎTried Every Dietí and ĎCounsellingí pages for further details or contact Lesley for more information.

6. When negative body image becomes a problem.

The factors that distinguish someone with a normal body image from someone who has a body image problem are linked to the way they think and act.  It's important to realize that you don't have a body image problem simply because you dislike certain parts of your body, think that you'd like to lose a few pounds, or you regularly wear make-up or love clothes. Nor do you have a body image problem if you have a significant disfigurement or an unusual appearance.

Negative body image becomes a problem when:

- You think about your appearance at the expense of other activities.
- You avoid social situations, workplaces or relationships because of the way you look.
- You believe you can only feel confident or be happy by changing the way you look.
- You believe that the way you look is preventing you from taking part in certain activities .
- You worry excessively about your appearance.
- You repeatedly check your appearance.
- You consistently use very heavy make-up.
- You refuse to leave the house without make-up on.
The above scenarios or ideas can reinforce the idea that your appearance is abnormal and therefore increase any body image anxiety.

Life doesnít have to be that hard.  Counselling can help you work on these issues, teaching you techniques to improve your self-esteem and self-confidence.

There are 3 options to choose from if you decide that you need more than the standard Personal Trainer products of exercise and nutrition guidance.

1. Counselling - this option has no time-frame, you take as many or as few sessions as you need to work through your thoughts relating to food, eating, body image or any other issues that you have.

2. The ĎTried Every Diet Group Programmeí - join a group of like minded people all working on their relationship with food, their attitudes to body image and their self-esteem or join together with a few of your friends and come along together.

3. If you donít want to join a class or cannot attend any of the current times available then there is the option of the ĎTried Every Diet One to One Programme
Lesley Snowdon - Personal Trainer, Counsellor & Diet Coach - Combining the services of a personal trainer and nutrition consultant with the empathic understanding of a qualified counsellor. Based in Wolverhampton.
I will help you achieve your health and fitness goals both mentally and physically.
Lesley Snowdon  is a member of the register of exercise professionals
Personal Fitness Trainer local to Wolverhampton, Dudley, Bilston, Sedgley, Coseley, Oldbury
© Personal Trainer and Body Image Consultant Lesley Snowdon                                             Another Fully Optimised Website by 20206
Principles of progression
Six Tips for a healthier you
There are 5 main components of physical fitness
What are the physiological changes as we age?
Self asteem and body image
When negative body image becomes a problem

Personal Trainer, Counsellor & Diet Coach
Contact Lesley on 07899 745 815
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