Improve your personal health and wellbeing

Nick Owen, our resident nutritionist shares his advice on the key pillars in improving your personal health and wellbeing. 
  • Define your priorities
  • Exercise
  • Food
  • Rest and sleep
As our knowledge of health and fitness has increased, both the science and reality have shown us that health is about far more than just what we eat and how much exercise we do. Short term goals to give us a bit of a kick-start are fine, but it is with a plan for the medium and long term that we will really reap the health benefits. 

Define our priorities

We need to be clear on what we are trying to achieve - both physically and mentally.
  • Physically it may be to be fitter, add muscle, lose body fat, have more energy or just feel more at ease in everyday movement and activity. 
  • Mentally we may want better concentration, more focus, a greater ability to relax and reduced stress levels.
Next we need to consider some of the additional fundamental pillars that will help us move towards these goals - for this June 2018 blog, I will focus on exercise, food and sleep.


Having a plan for our exercise regime will help greatly with the physical side. Our PT Teresa Waite sums up this importance of focus well:  “Random workouts are better than no workout, but not as effective as they could be. Follow a smart plan with exercise and nutrition”. 
  • Remember that resistance training, movement and mobility are the foundations of any training routine - even with an objective is to lose body-fat. Terri Siabi's great blog article explains why compound resistance exercises, particularly for the legs, are so good for many things including fat loss.
  • For those of you wanting to focus on your stomach area, our nutritionist Nick Owen reminds us firstly that it's a consistent nutritious eating regime that will have the best results. Nick also says to avoid adding more ab exercises in the pursuit of that defined mid-section – it will make so little difference as we use our abs far more effectively in our big compound lifts, or in unilateral exercises such as single arm shoulder press and chest press, or even a forwards and backwards lunge routine.


To get the best from your food and stay happy and healthy it is vital to have an eating plan to support this. 
  • Real foods give us our nutrients, including vitamins and minerals in their natural state - the state in which our body has been designed deal with them – as these are far better than convenience foods or supplements. Try to avoid:
    • Anything processed, packaged or marketed as low-fat or diet etc. 
    • Anything that talks about calories or calorie restriction
    • Anything with traffic light labelling – this usually means it is processed, and often a green or amber light is achieved by a ridiculously small portion size.
    • And remember too that we can never out-train a bad diet - our food and lifestyle choices will always have more of an impact than our exercise routine.
  • It is important to eat a balance across all food groups (including carbohydrate and fat), primarily utilising plant sources, and including plenty of different coloured vegetables.

    • Carbohydrate is essential for our energy to power both our training routines and our brains.
    • Fat is essential for many things including our ability to utilise fat soluble vitamins ADEK effectively. 
  • If we aim to eat healthily for 85% of our diet, most of us will progress towards the results we are looking for. Remember that we are all different, so it is also our responsibility to listen to our body, and if we aren't achieving the results we want, to review our regime.

  • If you are in the habit of snacking, or buying the latest health bar, question its purpose. Do think – is it helping you achieve your goals? If your goal is fat loss, you might be surprised how quickly cutting this out can make a difference. 

Rest and sleep

Historically we have often over-looked the importance of rest and sleep.

Both are fundamental to our mental and physical well-being. Sleep is where the body and mind are repaired, re-ordered and readied for the next day. The optimum recommendation for sleep is between 7-9 hours per night. Gone is the view that we are some exceptional human-being if we say we can manage on four hours per night. 

Research is enabling us to understand significantly more about sleep, the different phases and what happens in each, and we will cover this over the coming months. Here is a great overview from InBody looking at the effect of sleep on your body composition.

Remember, too little or too much sleep on a regular basis can have significant negative health implications beyond just your ability to exercise effectively.

Along with sleep, mindfulness & meditation is another area which is now becoming recognised at one of the fundamentals to our well-being - we will explore this in a forthcoming blog.

And finally...

As summer approaches, we all probably have that desire to look great for our summer holiday and those lighter summer clothes and t-shirts - so come and find out your body composition here at the club on:
  • Wednesday 20th June, 7am to 7pm and,
  • Saturday 23rd June, 10am to 1pm 
The InBody Body Composition analysis gives us a far more useful assessment of our health and body composition. For most of us overall weight is not the most effective measurement, like BMI it fails to differentiate between muscle and fat. If we really want to start focussing on some tangible objectives that will improve our health, aesthetics, and physical and mental capabilities, this analysis is a useful stating point.
Here's to a great summer 2018. Be consistent and you can be confident that you will begin and continue to achieve the changes you desire.
ymca | 25 May 2018