The Pelvic Floor (and a little prosecco)

post natal sponsors.jpg

Wimbledon Buggyfit (that's us), APPI (amazing physios in the Village) and Cake & Kale (highly qualified Wimbledon dietitian) are collaborating with Wimbledon & District NCT to bring you this informative evening.

This is a night of fun, wisdom and education for women of every stage:

  • What is your pelvic floor and what happens during pregnancy
  • How to train your pelvic floor and what exercises work
  • How to restore your core and what abdominal exercises you can safely do
  • The importance of exercise during pregnancy, post-natal and beyond
  • Top tips on optimum post-natal nutrition

Date and Time: Monday 2nd October 8.15pm - 9.30pm

Place: Hill Place House, 55a High Street, Wimbledon, London, SW19 5BA

Cost: £10 (includes Prosecco and nibbles!)

Book your place today!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Fad Diets

As people start thinking about summer holidays, we hear lots of talk about quirky diets purporting to be the answer to our beach body dreams. Just putting the word "diet" into Amazon brings up some crazy titles such as The Overnight Diet, the Greedy Girls Diet & The Belly Fat Diet. All are high on promises, but none inspire me with confidence.

There's nothing new about fad diets. The same ideas have been remodeled & repackaged for decades & have never really worked. Fad diets are easy to spot, they tend to have one or more of the following in common:

1. Promises rapid weight loss or a quick fix. Yes, most will lead to fast weight loss, but the focus is on the short term, so you will end up putting the weight back on again.

2.  Contains a ritual (drink grapefruit juice everyday) or sacrifice (cut out carbs). Many of these things are based on dodgy science or no research at all. Cutting out certain food groups could prevent you from getting the important nutrients & vitamins that your body needs to function properly.

3. Involves a magical food or food combination. These often make far-fetched claims with little or no evidence to back them up.

4. Rigid menus or monotonous food choices.  These are impracticable to follow in the long-term and may be nutritionally unbalanced. The minute you go back to your old lifestyle, the pounds will start returning.

Lose weight the HA fitness way!

Eat less & exercise more. We put on weight when the amount of calories we eat exceeds the amount we burn off. To lose weight, you need to eat less & burn more. Get in touch if you'd like to know more about how we can make this work for you!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Will Exercising Before Breakfast Make Me Thin?

Cardio Controversy

Some research suggests that if you exercise first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, it may encourage your body to burn a greater proportion of fat as fuel.

The theory goes that your glycogen stores are depleted from fasting during the night. If you get up, don’t eat anything and immediately start exercising, your body then has to burn more fat as a source of energy.

Fat Chance!

Before you jump out of bed at 5am and head directly out for a run, there are few reasons why this isn’t necessarily a good plan.

Firstly, by skipping breakfast and going straight into your workout, you’re likely to tire sooner than if you’d munched on a banana first. 

Flagging energy levels may result in a shorter or less intensive session and you ultimately burn fewer calories. It can also have a ruinous effect on any type of endurance training.

On top of that, you could end up being so hungry following your workout that you scoff more calories than you would do normally!

Let Not the Sands of Time Spoil Your Breakfast!

Admittedly not everyone can stomach food first thing in the morning and then go straight into a workout. A smoothie or piece of fruit with water might be a wise option. It’s really what works for you.

What I’m trying to get across is that the timing of your cardio workout is not an important factor in fat loss.  The key is to burn more calories than you consume overall. Do this by exercising as much as possible and follow a healthy balanced diet.

My ideal is to get up early, eat a banana wrapped up in a piece of bread, and wash it down with a glass of water. Then get dressed and head out for a run.  It gets the workout done plus you glow with that feel-good factor and a smug sensation all day!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Grilled Tuna and Vegetable Kebabs

Jane MichellGUEST BLOGGER, Jane Michell from Jane Plan, gives us a quick and healthy tuna kebab recipe which is only 352 calories per serving!

At only 352 calories per serving, our tuna kebab recipe is quick and easy to do yet healthy and bursting with goodness.

Grilled Tuna and Vegetable Kebabs – serves 4

352 calories


4 X 140g tuna steaks

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

4 shallots, peeled and quartered

12 vine ripened cherry tomatoes

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, de seeded, and diced into 2.5cm square pieces

1 courgette sliced

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the grill to high. Cut the tuna into 1 cm cubes.

2 Divide the tuna, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and shallots between 4 large skewers, or 8 small skewers.

3 Lightly brush the kebabs with oil and sprinkle with lemon juice.

4 Grill for 10 – 15 minutes, turning occasionally (or cook on a BBQ!).

5 Garnish with lemon wedges, and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with new potatoes or couscous and a delicious salad.

If you're interested in losing weight, Jane Plan will design a diet just for you. Find out more:

Website:             Email:  Tel: 020 7731 8453

Posted by Heather Waghorn.


Well it's time to make those annual self-improvement promises again. But research shows that around 80% of people who make New Year's resolutions, fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day. So how are you going to make a success of it this year?

The key is to take your resolutions seriously. Plan ahead, stay committed and remain focused.

Easier said than done I know, so here are my top tips on how to succeed after the New Year's celebrations and hangovers have faded, reality sets in, and you need to squeeze back into those work clothes again.

  1. If you’ve got a long list of failed New Year’s resolutions hidden in your closet, then you need a fresh approach. Don’t pretend you’ll suddenly be a different person this year. If you want something different to happen in 2012, you need to do something different.
  2. Honestly accept your current starting point and do a sanity check on what actually needs fixing. Look positively at the things you can change, rather than negatively lingering over the things that make you unhappy or problems you can't resolve.
  3. Make changes that will comfortably fit within your current lifestyle. What do you need to do to get results without too much upheaval?
  4. Don’t leap blindly forwards with your ambitions. Make a realistic plan that’s sustainable and achievable. Get some advice from friends or professionals to get you on the right track and stay motivated. Why not sign-up for an HA fitness class pass or some personal training sessions?
  5. Finally, treating yourself to a new pair of trainers is a good motivational start, but make sure they don't look/smell new for too long!

Click below for some more HA fitness blog articles to help spur you into action for 2012:
New Year’s Resolutions…How to make and break them

Pleasure or Pain: What Drives You?

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Weight Matters

Beware Of That Torturous Device Lurking In A Corner of Your Bathroom

Do you own a set of dusty, antiquated bathroom scales with a simple needle and dial that allows for a certain amount of optimistic user error? Or maybe you’ve invested in a bells and whistles body composition monitor, complete with WiFi that sends your precise measurements directly to an app on your iphone? Whatever the level of technology, you’re more than likely to have some sort of weight measuring machine tucked away somewhere.

However, no matter how much money you’ve spent on them, bathroom scales are often fickle contraptions that can leave you feeling either deeply offended or over-the-moon, depending on the numbers that they reveal. If this sounds all too familiar, then beware, those numbers are often paint a confusing picture.

The Naked Truth

Surprisingly, when most people glumly stare down at the scales, they don’t account for the actual weight of any food or drink that they’ve recently devoured. It sounds obvious, but the heaviness of whatever you’ve consumed will be included in your recorded weight, as if you were holding it all in your hands, until you eventually excrete it from your body. The same goes for any clothes that you’re wearing.

For women, different times of the month can make you feel bloated and your jeans more of a struggle to do up, even if you have been angelic with your food and exercise regime over the previous few weeks. The best way to manage this is to acknowledge the fact that you may go up and down 3 to 4 pounds throughout your cycle. Learn what your personal levels of fluctuation are over time, and stay positive, as commiserating with chocolate every month certainly won’t help the cause!

Free Yourself From The Daily Insults

If you’re one of those people who regimentally jumps on the scales every morning, then you’re likely to set yourself up for failure at least once a week.

However, just because you’ve put a pound on in the last 24 hours, it doesn’t mean that your weight loss programme is a complete disaster and that you should wave the white flag, giving it all up for a large slice of cake. It’s just a natural blip, and, as your weight goes up and down all the time, you should be back on track in a day or so.

It’s more sensible, however, to weigh yourself on a weekly basis. Plot this figure on a graph, so that you can smooth out any fluctuations, and then look at your monthly moving average. You could also print the graph off and stick it on your fridge to keep you focused. It might all sound a bit nerdy, but at least you’ll be a healthy and slim-looking nerd!

As a guide for weight loss, you’re looking for a general downward trend of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Anymore than this, and you’re likely to be losing muscle mass, and will probably put all of it back on again. Any less than this, and you could possibly be trying a bit harder!

A Balancing Act

The easiest way to do an accurate weigh-in is to get yourself on the scales first thing in the morning, in your birthday suit, before breakfast and after you’ve been to the toilet.

When planning your weigh-ins, it’s worth noting that mid-week assessments will typically give you more favourable results than on a Monday morning after an excessive weekend!

If you’re also measuring body composition (the percentage of body fat, muscle and water), you’re likely to be de-hydrated first thing in the morning, which will affect your readings. Although your actual amount of body fat will not change throughout the day, your overall body fat percentage will, as your water levels fluctuate. It’s therefore recommended to measure your body fat percentages in the early evening, before dinner, and when your body is fully hydrated. Don’t forget that your hydration levels are also affected by exercise, heat and alcohol (even if you can still read the numbers!).

Body fat levels change slowly over time, and so again, you need to be looking at the long-term trend. If you’re looking to loose weight, you should be aiming to drop around 1% to 2% of body fat each month.

If this all sounds complex, and you switched off a couple of paragraphs ago, the most important thing to remember is consistency. Do your best to duplicate your weigh-in conditions every time. This means the same time of day, what you’ve eaten and drunk, the amount of clothing, whether it’s pre or post work-out etc. Remember, the harder you train and the healthier you eat, the better the results.

Don’t Be a Slave to The Numbers

If you’re watching your weight, but are now put off by using bathroom scales, then there is another way. 

My personal preference is how my clothes are fitting, my level of fitness, how much energy I have and how healthy, strong and lean I feel. Your own perceptions can be the most valuable tools to help you track your weight. A full-length mirror and trustworthy friends are also good sources of information!

If you prefer something more mathematical, you can also take body measurements with a tape measure and body fat callipers. Provided that they are used correctly, preferably by a trained professional, they will give highly accurate readings of your size and body fat. Although, be prepared to be prodded and poked a little!

The Bottom Line

Scales are useful tools for watching and controlling your weight over a period of time, however regular weigh-ins aren’t the only or necessarily best option, and there are many other ways of monitoring your health.

And finally, a word of warning about result fixing techniques, like putting the scales on a slope to achieve a favourable weight, or jumping on and off them as quickly as possible to limit the damage.  It’s called cheating and we’ve seen it all before. If this sounds familiar, do give us a call, as we’ll certainly be able to help put you back on track again!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Avoid Gaining Excess Baggage This Holiday

If you’ve spent the last few months working hard to get your beach body ready for action, the last thing you want to do is see the pounds pile back on whilst you’re on holiday. Here are a few tips to avoid turning from beach babe to beached whale:

Count Your Cocktail Calories

Depending on how it’s made, a large Pina Colada can contain more calories than a Big Mac (490 calories), so make shrewd choices when you’re checking-out the cocktail list.  Better still, rather than a cocktail, opt for spirits such as vodka, whiskey or gin and have them on the rocks, or with a low calorie mixer, sipped not gulped!

Drink plenty of water to keep you both hydrated and feeling full. Add lemon or lime and ice-cubes to make it more appealing. Never use alcohol to try and quench your thirst, an ice cold beer may taste refreshing, but it won’t do your hydration levels or waistline any good!

Select, Seduce And Stay Slim

Holidays aren’t the time for strict diets, so do allow yourself some treats. Calorific indulgences should, however, be something that you’re really going to enjoy, rather than just a stale bit of sweet bread, so spend time selecting the best treat you can possibly find.

Don’t rush, holidays are all about slowing down and taking it easy. Allow yourself to be seduced by your food, enjoy everything about it including the presentation, aroma, texture and taste. By literally savouring every mouthful, you’ll end up eating far less and enjoy your food a lot more.

Restaurant Rules

In the restaurant, avoid munching on the mountains of free bread that you’re given. Save yourself for your meal, it’ll taste much nicer if you haven't already binged on tastless snacks first. If you’re waiting for a course to come, use the time to re-fresh your palette with some sin-free water.

Try not to have a starter, a pudding and a high calorie alcoholic drink all in one sitting. Opt for one out of the three or just go for the main meal. Remember that a couple of cocktails and a dessert everyday could add half a stone to your waistline by the end of a week!

If you’re on an all-inclusive holiday, keep reminding yourself that just because it’s all paid for, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it all. And don’t take the “all-you-can-eat buffet” idea too literally!

It’s All About Balance

Finally, try to make some healthy choices everyday, but make sure it doesn’t become a chore that ruins your holiday. Make a concerted effort to balance out any extra calories that you take on, by being as active as possible. Plan to swim and walk everyday, and take advantage of any fitness classes that might be going on, or a gym that you could use.  

Enjoy your holiday, have fun and don’t forget to pack your trainers!


PS. You’ll find some more holiday tips in my 2008 article: Forget Credit, You’re The One Who Should Be Crunching This Summer

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Waist Assessment

It’s no secret that body fat likes to make itself at home on your tummy, thighs and bum. However people who predominantly carry fat around their middle (as opposed to elsewhere on their body) are more prone to health issues such as type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

Working out your risk level is simple, as all you need is a trusty tape measure and the instructions below. You can do this by yourself at home, and no one else needs to know your measurements!

Measure your waist

On one side of your body (rather than the front), measure halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone (iliac crest). This is roughly in line with your belly button. Stand up and breathe out when you do this. Make sure your tummy muscles are completely relaxed, let it all hang out!

For women:

Ideal: less than 80cm (32”).   
High: 80cm to 88cm (32” to 35”).
Very high: more than 88cm (35”).

For men:

Ideal: less than 94cm (37”).
High: 94cm to 102cm (37” to 40”).
Very high: more than 102cm (40”). 

Measure your hips

Next, measure your hips at their widest point, the bum (ie. where your buttocks protrude the greatest). It's important not to cheat and pull the tape tight when doing either of these measurements!

Your waist-to-hip ratio

Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. A ratio of 1.0 or more in men or 0.85 or more in women indicates that you are carrying too much weight around your middle. This puts you at increased risk of diseases that are linked to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Focus on improvement

Anyone who is carrying excess weight, regardless of where on the body, would benefit from adopting a healthier lifestyle. Set some realistic weight loss goals, and focus on improving your measurements, rather than dwelling on what your “norm” should be.

You only have one body, so look after it!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.

The 10 Commandments of Healthy Eating & Weight Loss

Gain control of your diet and weight by following these 10 wise rules.

Thou shalt…

  1. Fuel up frequently. Eat a little and often, and you’ll give your body a constant supply of energy which will help you to avoid cravings.
  2. Think before you eat. Consider why you want to eat something. Is it because you’re hungry? Or because you’re stressed, bored, lonely, angry or depressed? If it’s not hunger, will that sugary indulgence actually solve the problem, or just make you feel worse?
  3. Avoid food shopping on autopilot. Stop repeating your bad habits week after week. Buy something healthy that you’ve never tried before, or flick through a recipe book for inspiration. A varied and interesting diet will help to satisfy the appetite better and is more nutritious. Aim to try a new healthy food or dish every week.
  4. Never buy “foods you can pick at”, such as crisps, chocolates and peanuts. Once the packet has been opened it’ll be hard to stop, so best not having them in the house at all. It’s a slippery slope!
  5. Take control. Prepare your own foods rather than eating out or buying take-aways and pre-prepared foods.  Put yourself in charge of the ingredients list and portion sizes. Your salad may taste better with a thick dollop of mayonnaise, but do you really need it? Is it more important for you to reach your weight loss goal, or have a salad that tastes marginally better?
  6. Opt for wholegrain foods.  We digest them slowly, so they’ll make you feel fuller for longer. Look for wholegrain bread, pasta, breakfast cereals and brown rice.
  7. Steer clear of foods with a lot of added sugar.  Watch out for words, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey on the ingredients list. If you see one of these near the top (they always start with the biggest ingredient first), you know the food is likely to be high in added sugars.
  8. Give a very wide berth to high fat foods. Again, check the ingredients list. High is more than 20g of fat per 100g, and low is 3g of fat or less per 100g.
  9. Under no circumstances be a plate cleaner! Think about how much food you are consuming in each sitting. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, not stuffed. Eat slowly, your fork is not a shovel. Your brain doesn’t start signalling feelings of fullness until 20 minutes after it actually is, so take your time and give your body the chance to recognise that you’ve had enough to eat.
  10. Limit your alcohol intake. Not only is it highly calorific, but it also reduces your will power and ability to say no to alluring fatty foods. You also maybe a little less angelic with your food choices the morning after!

Good luck and remember that you're allowed to break the rules every now and then. Just put yourself back on track as quickly as you can, and don't make a habit of it!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Pleasure or Pain: What Drives You?

Understanding your motivation for getting fit is the first stage in bridging the gap between sitting on a sofa thinking about exercise, and actually going out and doing it.

Identifying the triggers that drive you, and using them as a springboard to getting and staying fit and healthy, is the key to success.  The more you focus on these, the more likely you’ll be able to fire up your enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle.

So what encourages you more, the carrot egging you on or the stick beating you up?

Running Away From Pain

The stick is something that you want to move away from, you may like to think of it as a form of pain. It could be a health issue you want to stay clear of such as obesity and heart disease, or physiological problems like stress or depression.

The catalyst could be your doctor dropping some strong hints, or a friend or family member suffering from these complaints.

The motivation comes from your fear of the stick and wanting to take action to avoid it at all lengths. If you keep reminding yourself of this potential beating, it can be a really powerful self- motivator.

Try taking measurements or photos of how your body is changing as you get leaner and fitter. Look back at these and remind yourself that you don’t want to go there again!

Pursuing Pleasure

The pursuit of pleasure can also be a very powerful self-motivational tool. This is the carrot, or aspiration. It’s about wanting satisfaction by achieving something significant. For example, running a marathon, racing a PB, losing 2 stone etc.

Setting realistic goals and bite-sized targets is key. It doesn’t have to be a marathon or reaching a specific weight. It could be completing 3 workouts a week, or managing to run up a particular hill.

Visualisation can be a very powerful motivational tool. Picture yourself finishing a race or buying clothes in a smaller size. Imagine how good you’ll feel, and how proud you’ll be of your achievement.

Treat yourself when you achieve a step towards your goal. There’s no law against self-bribery!

Moving Beyond The Carrot & Stick

So what happens when you achieve your goals and the stick becomes a distant memory?

You may find that your motivation starts to diminish, so it’s important to plan ahead to avoid drifting backwards and having to start the whole cycle again.

Set new goals, challenges and targets and keep adding in variety by trying out different things. You may have moved from being in fear of the stick to wanting to pursue the pleasurable goals. Keep it interesting and inspiring and try to maintain the momentum. Look at what you’ve achieved and where you want to go next.

Don’t Stop Me Now!

Believe it or not, at some point you may actually find that you enjoy exercising. This is your ultimate goal, when fitness becomes a way of life and you’ll need less and less to rely on the stick or the carrot to keep you going. You train because that’s what you do and who you are.

Remember, regular exercisers don’t waste time sitting on the sofa weighing up the pros and cons of doing a workout, they just get on with it!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Celebrating Spring Onions!

Although available all year-round in supermarkets, spring onions are now just about coming into season and are at their peak in taste and flavour…well they didn’t get that name for nothing!

They’re basically a normal onion picked early, before the bulb has had a chance to swell up, and they belong to the same family as garlic, leeks, shallots and chives.

Spring Onions are Good for You Because…

They contain no fat, no cholesterol, and are low in calories and salt. They’re also packed full of good stuff including vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and fibre.

Research has shown that eating onions may help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and prevent the formation of blood clots. They’re also thought to protect against cancer and heart disease.

There’s More to Them Than Crispy Duck Pancakes!

Despite being small and immature, spring onions can still pack a punch! They’re ideal for quickly injecting a burst of flavour and a dash of colour into your food.

Raw spring onions are great for adding an earthy kick to salads, sandwich fillings and salsas. The greens are also a tasty alternative to chives, and can be tossed into scrabbled eggs, cottage cheese, omelets and dips.

When cooked, they can bring a subtle hint of onion flavour into a wide range of dishes, especially stir-fries and soups. They’re also delicious partnered up with ginger in Thai, Chinese and Japanese-style meals.

Handle Your Onions With Care!

Look for a bunch that’s got bright green and perky leaves. The bulbs should be hard, crisp and unblemished. Steer clear of any specimens that are slimy, wilting or limp!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

New Year’s Resolutions…How to make and break them

It’s time to make those annual promises to kick bad habits and devise fresh new self-improvement programs for yourself. But how can you ensure you’ll actually make it happen this year?

If you don't want your bad habits hanging around for another 12 months, and want to improve your health, wealth and general happiness, here’s a few tips on how to succeed after the New Year's celebrations and hangovers have faded, and reality sets in.

Small Steps to a Smaller Jeans Size

You don’t want your resolutions to appear like a huge insurmountable mountain. If your goal is too big, you'll feel defeated before you even get started.

Set a realistic overall goal, and then break it down into smaller more attainable chunks that can be achieved throughout the year.  Then give yourself a pat on the back every time you achieve one of these smaller targets.  This will help you to keep the motivation going.

To ensure success, be really specific with your targets. Vague plans usually get derailed within a few weeks.

For example, instead of focusing on getting into a certain pair of jeans or looking good for a beach holiday, make the commitment to loose 2lbs a week. It shouldn’t be too long before that top button does up without a stomach-holding-in power struggle!

Make Your Goals Comfortably Challenging

Be realistic and avoid perfectionist thinking. Focus on setting achievable goals, rather than mere wishful thinking.

Choose goals that are important to you, and not what you think you ought to do, or worse still, what others expect you to do. The more meaningful and personal they are, the more likely you are to achieve them.

Be Brave and Go Public!

Don't keep your resolutions to yourself. Tell friends, family and anyone else who will listen. They can help you to keep on track by offering encouragement and support. You’ll also be less likely to back out if more people know about your intentions.

Write down your resolutions and pin them up somewhere prominent. This will increase their significance, and you’re likely to be more committed to achieving them.

Most people find it conveniently easy to forget about their resolutions by the end of January! Start as you mean to go on, and get into the habit of regularly revisiting your plan whilst also recording your progress.

The Power of Positive Thinking

You’ll find it more beneficial to think about your positive achievements rather than how much you fall short of your goals. The glass is half full rather than half empty, kind of thinking.

Life is rarely straightforward, and unexpected events are usually just around the corner. So don’t get too disheartened if your plan and goals need to change. Be prepared to adapt and be flexible, whist still concentrating on your end goal.

Accept that new habits can take a while to become established and learnt, whilst old habits can be frustratingly difficult to lay to rest. Try to remain committed and focused. Remember, nothing really big and worthwhile is achieved in just one day!

And if you do fall off the wagon, which most people do at some point, don’t be too hard on yourself. See it as a lesson for the future, rather than a failure. Don’t allow the experience to become an excuse to give up. You’re made of tougher stuff than that!

Bite the Bullet & Get Started!

The first few days are crucial. If you hang around waiting until the time is right, or you have a bit more energy etc, you just won’t do it.

Action will often pave the way for enthusiasm, and not the other way around. Instead of waiting and hoping that energy and enthusiasm will somehow materialise, you need to go out and do something about it. So even if you only manage a 10 minute jog, you’re likely to come back with the motivation and determination to do more. 

And the more you do, the more momentum you’ll pick up, and the easier it’ll become.

What You Should Do Next…

1)    Strip bare your ambitions, and turn them into achievable targets and plans
2)    Brag about your intentions to family and friends
3)    Put your trainers on and head out the door

Go on……What are you waiting for???

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

What is the difference between Clementines and Satsumas?

Citrus Celebration - The Ultimate Guilt Free Snacks with Health Benefits

For me, the deliciously tangy aroma of a Clementine or Satsuma being peeled and eaten goes hand-in-hand with the festive season. At this time of year, there are so many pleasurably calorific foods and drinks around, and these sweet fruits, which come in their own convenient and natural packaging, are one of the few Christmassy things that can be enjoyed guilt-free.

Clementines and Satsumas are in season just when we need them. They’re loaded with vitamin C, so can help prevent colds and flu at a time when our bodies have to battle hard to ward off infections. They’re also a bright and sunny addition to the fruit bowl on dull, grey winter days (and you may find a few jumbled up with nuts and chocolate coins at the bottom of your Christmas stocking…but only if you’ve been good!)

But Is There Any Difference Between Them?

Lets first talk about mandarins and tangerines. Mandarin is the collective name for all small orangey-type fruit (but not the bigger oranges). Tangerines are a variety of Mandarin, and usually have seeds in them.

Clementines and Satsumas are similar to tangerines, but are cultivated to be seedless (although you’ll occasionally find seeds in them due to uninvited bees getting in on the breeding process) and are usually sweeter.

Clementines are traditionally from North Africa, whereas Satsumas originate from Japan. It’s not easy to tell the difference between the two, although the Clementines are meant to have a slightly tighter skin.

To make things even more confusing, different countries use different terms for defining the fruit. And shops have been known to mis-label the various varieties, so you may believe you’re eating a Satsuma, when actually it’s a Clementine!

The Weighty Ones are More Juicy!

As with most fruits, choose carefully and go for the ones that look shiny and healthy, without any bruising or discoloured skin. If you can, try and feel how heavy the fruit are. If they feel light, they’re likely to be disappointingly dry and juiceless.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Crunch Your Way Through Some Apples & Pears

Summer berries and salads may no longer be in season, but that’s no reason to cut back on your 5-a-day fruit and veg portions.

British apples and pears are delicious and definitely worth hunting down at the moment. Food that has been grown locally always tastes better, and you can feel virtuous for supporting British growers and reducing your food miles! Choose organic for the best taste-bud experience.

Both apples and pears have a stronger flavour if you eat them at room temperature, although storing them in the fridge will keep them fresh for longer.

Apples and pears are both low calorie and low GI, so make good weight-loss snacks. Nutritionally, they’re much better if you eat them raw with their skins on. 

Nice Pear!

One chin-dribbling, juicy pear will provide you with zinc, vitamins C and E, some B vitamins and lots of dietary fibre.

Pears are great on their own and are also really tasty in salads. Try combining the sweetness of pears with slightly bitter salad leaves such as radicchio, rocket and watercress.

For a special treat (that'll make your diet go a bit pear-shaped!) try poaching them in red wine, or drizzling baked pears with chocolate!

An Apple a Day…

Crunchy apples are full of lots of good stuff. They’re a great source of nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, vitamin C and dietary fibre.

Apples are a great snack when eaten raw, sliced up with yogurt or grated on muesli. They can also be made into a healthy sauce when pureed and served with meats such as pork.

Of course they can always be made into yummy, diet-demolishing crumbles, pies and strudels!

Did you know...

Conference pears are named after an international pear conference, where the variety won first prize in 1885.

All Bramley apples are descended from a tree that is still growing in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Fats: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly…

Most people are familiar with the terms trans, saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. But how do they differ, and what do they do?

The first thing to understand is that fats are classified by their "saturation". This means the amount of hydrogen atoms attached to the fat molecules.

The Loveable Rogue: Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are completely "saturated". In other words, each fat molecule is completely covered in hydrogen atoms.

Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature. They’re found in meat and dairy products, cooking fats and hard margarines. They're typically to blame for the high calorific value of most cakes, biscuits, chocolates and puddings!

Unfortunately, these are also the fats that raise blood cholesterol levels, promote hardening of the arteries, and contribute to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Your Oily Ally: Polyunsaturated Fat

These fats are typically liquid at room temperature and are not "saturated" with hydrogen atoms.

Polyunsaturated fat may help prevent heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels, and could reduce the symptoms of joint problems and certain skin diseases. They include the healthy heart and brainfood fat, omega-3, which is found in oily fish salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh (not canned) tuna.

Your Mediterranean Mate: Monounsaturated Fat

Found in vegetable oils that remain liquid at room temperature, monounsaturated fats are also not "saturated" with hydrogen atoms.

Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, olive oil, groundnut oil, nuts, and avocados. The so-called "Mediterranean diet" is rich in monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturates, have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and therefore help in reducing the risk of heart disease.

The Frankenstein Fat: Trans Fat

Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. They're found in processed, fried (especially doughnuts) and baked goods (including partries and biscuits).

They've been popular in the past because they're cheap, easy to use and last a long time. However, recent research has shown that trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, and increase your risk of developing heart disease.

How Much is Too Much?

All fats are equally high in calories and should be eaten in moderation. A good place to start is to look at the labels on the back of foods.

  • High fat is considered anything more than 20g fat per 100g
  • Low fat is 3g fat or less per 100g.
  • High levels of saturated fat is more than 5g saturates per 100g
  • Low levels of saturated fat is 1.5g saturates or less per 100g

Trans fats don't need to be labelled separately under European law. However, hydrogenated vegetable oil must be listed, and this may contain trans fats.

Don’t be Fooled by “Low-Fat” Labels

Don't always assume that 'low fat' on a label means that it's a healthy choice.

All the 'low-fat" really means is that the food is 25% lower in fat than the standard equivalent. If the food is high in fat in the first place, then the low-fat version may still be high in fat!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Forget Credit, You're the One who Should be Crunching this Summer!

Summer holidays are a time to relax and take a break from life's stresses. However, you're also likely to be treating yourself to a few extra deserts, drinks and ice creams, so it's important to try and fit in a bit of activity too. Whether it's doing a few crunches in your hotel room, or swimming a few lengths in the pool, every little bit counts. Here's some more ideas to help you keep in shape.

Release your Inner Child

If you’re on holiday with children, invent challenges that get everybody moving around. Make up ball games, races and time trials (who can build the biggest sun-castle in 1 minute?). Not only entertaining, these games are great for burning calories and improving agility and co-ordination.

The local playground can also be a hidden workout zone for you. Pushing your kids on the swings will work your upper body, especially your shoulders and tricep muscles. If no-ones watching (and it looks sturdy enough!), see how many chin-ups you can do on the climbing frame.

Waves Were Surely Designed to be Surfed or Jumped!

Battling with the sea’s natural resistance, your body will be challenged in ways that a gym session won’t come close to. Half an hour of aquatic fooling around will burn loads of calories and strengthen both your leg and core muscles.

Why not take the plunge and try out some of the local watersports? Not only great fun, it’ll work muscles you didn’t know you had, especially in your core area.

If you you’ve got the use of a pool, don’t just lie around on the sun-lounger, swimming is a great all round exercise that uses every major muscle group.  Challenge yourself to see how many lengths can you do in 30 minutes. Then try and beat it the following day.

Become the Holiday Gopher

Burn a few extra calories by carrying the luggage, getting the drinks from the bar (even if it isn’t your round), heading off for ice creams and running back before they melt!

Beach Bum Basics

Walking and running on sand is great for toning the legs and bum. A sandy and slightly unstable surface will  improve the strength in your ankles and calf muscles. Your core will also have to work extra hard too. Just build it up slowly, so that you don’t get injured.

I hope you have a lovely summer, and don’t forget to pack the trainers!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Deflating that spare tyre!

How to get rid of that bulging waistline

Performing hundreds of sit-ups maybe great for developing a six-pack, however most of us need to concentrate on reducing that not-so-attractive layer of fat top first.

It’s not just about the way you look that’s important. If you tend to store fat around your middle you have a greater risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Just how big is too big?

The British Heart Foundation says that you have a greater risk to your health if your waistline is larger than 94cm (37”) for men or 80cm (32”) for women.

You need to measure around the bit that is mid-way between your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs (don't cheat by holding your tummy in, let everything hang out!)

How to loose a pound of fat

The best way to get your waistline back is by eating a healthy, low fat diet plus lots of regular exercise.  Basically you need to burn off more than you put in.

To quantify this, one pound of stored body fat equals 3500 calories.

Put another way, if you create a 3500 calorie deficit in a week through diet, exercise or a combination of both, you will lose one pound. That might sound a lot, but over a week, it amounts to just 500 calories a day.

The best way to do this is to increase your activity levels so that you are burning an extra 250 calories, and decrease your food intake so that you are consuming 250 calories less a day.

How to burn 250 calories

This will depend on your age, sex, weight and metabolism, as well as how intensely you exercise, but here are a few examples of what it takes to burn around 250 calories:

  • A 10 stone person running moderately hard for 20 minutes
  • A 12 stone person moderately cycling for 30 minutes
  • A 14 stone person walking fast for 35 minutes (not necessarily all in one go).

It's often difficult to fit in structured exercise into a busy lifestyle especially if you work long hours and have a family. Here's a few things you can do to help to knock off a few calories each week:

  • Take the stairs rather than the lift (up as well as down!)
  • Walk or cycle to work or the station
  • Walk to a sandwich shop at lunchtime that’s further away than your regular one
  • Stand on the bus/train instead of sitting down
  • When you get home from work, play with your kids on the floor rather than slumping in a chair
  • Go out for a bike ride, football in the park or kite flying with your kids at weekends

How to consume 250 calories less a day

The following are easy things to cut out of your diet that are around 250 calories each (some are a hell of a lot more!):

  • High calorie breakfasts: 1 Danish pastry, 1 muffin (American-style), 2 small croissants or 1 Starbucks Grande latte made with whole milk
  • Meals extras: Half a naan bread, 1 small potion of chips, 1 large dollop of mayonnaise or a large spring roll
  • Snacks and puddings: 1 piece of cake, 1 chocolate bar, 2 small portions of cheese, 1 portion of ice cream
  • Alcohol: 1.5 pints of lager or 1.5 large glasses (250 ml) of wine

Every little bit helps!

If this all sounds too much, just think that doing more than you are doing now is a step in the right direction.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.