Strive by Matthew Douglas Personal Training

Matthew Unmuted EP2 – Confusion in the Fitness Industry

Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!

Rock hard abs in 1 month with just 5 minutes a day!

The revolutionary diet that will transform your body in just 2 weeks!

We’ve all heard these slogans. In fact, I’d bet my last penny that most of us have tried at least one of these types of diets or exercise programmes in our lives. We like to think that the fitness industry has come a long way since the days of Kate Moss and her infamous saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Of course, in many ways it has evolved with more content being accessible on the likes of YouTube and Instagram. However, one fundamental truth remains: the more confused you are about diet and fitness, the more help you need to understand it.

This is the foundation upon which so many fitness influencers have built their empires. In an attempt to always provide the next quick fix, the next key exercise to finally get abs, the next diet that will revolutionise the way your body loses fat, fitness influencers are perpetuating a culture of mass confusion. When we try their diet or exercise programme and don’t suddenly have 20% less body fat and feel ravenously hungry all the time, we are left feel deflated and defeated. Returning to bad habits until we hear about the next fad to try.

It is for this reason that I wanted to cover this subject in the second episode of my podcast. Go and check it out if you haven’t already! In this blog, I wanted to explore this issue further and give you the key tools to unlock a better understanding of health and fitness, at the same time helping you to avoid the quick fixes and save money in the process. Who doesn’t love that! Once you understand how simple it really is, there is no going back. Trust me – I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

Before I get into the juicy stuff, read this:

Exercise won’t get easier; you just get stronger

When starting a fitness journey, it is key to remember that there will be highs and lows. You might feel like you are still struggling. That is why it is important to document the wins from the beginning so that even, to quote the Friends theme tune, if it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your yeaarrrr (you’re welcome) …. wait, I lost my train of thought. Oh yes, even if you feel like you’ve failed, this most likely isn’t the case. If you look back to where you started, you’ll realise that you’ve probably come a heck of a long way.

This sets me up perfectly for the first subject: Exercise.

I have always believed that physical activity is essential for a healthy body and mind. It can boost confidence, improve energy and make us stronger. Workouts are more widely available now. We can fire up YouTube, Tik-Tok, Instagram and get a workout within seconds. The problem is that everyone is telling you different things. New methods of fat loss, muscle building and performance are thrown in your face, and it can feel extremely overwhelming. This is why you see people give up, switch plans and feel completed confused and lost with the barrage of information.

Common things I see which annoy me to my core – trust me I could actually write seething blog on these alone:

  1. HIIT is the fastest way to burn fat (bollocks).
  2. You don’t need a Calorie Deficit to lose weight (bollocks).
  3. Weight Training makes you bulky (bollocks).
  4. Exercise needs to be every day (bollocks).
  5. Chocolate makes you fat (double bollocks).

These are just some of the countless mistruths (read: outright lies) that are told in this industry. Inherently, and there is plenty of research on this but you’ll have to find it yourself, humans are drawn to things that are quick and resourceful. When we are told we can drink a shake and lose weight, you best believe we’ll do it – even more so if there’s a pretty celebrity attached to it since we humans enjoy idolising and putting others on a pedestal. Despite the fact that the product is utter rubbish. In return, we get to try the shake that makes Jennifer Anniston eternally thin and youthful, and Jennifer Anniston slaps on all the expensive creams and hires the best trainers in the world with the money she gets from pretending this shake does all the work. I mean no offence to Jennifer Aniston, I just wanted to continue the Friends metaphor…

With all that being said, it is refreshing to finally see some amazing influencers putting out truthful information. Go and check out these people on social media:

  1. James Smith
  2. Sean Nalewanyj
  3. Sean Mcinroy
  4. Greg Doucette
  5. Ben Carpenter
  6. Natacha Oceane

The main point all these influencers get across, is that hard, honest work will trump anything. It is all about showing up consistently and enjoying the journey. That is when you really get results. They don’t promote quick fixes or fad diets, just effective ways to be sustainably fit throughout your life. That really is the goal.

My belief with exercise is that you should do the type you enjoy! I strongly recommend a form of resistance training and following something you feel passionate about. Get yourself into a routine, stay consistent and watch yourself become a total badass. If you are really struggling to find this, move in any way you can.  Do housework, walk to the shops, cycle, take the stairs, walk in the morning, walk in the evening. This is all much better than no movement at all, and it could be all you need to get started.

Diet & Nutrition

Here is where many of the issues and misinformation lie. Now, I’m a nice guy, I wouldn’t want to drag any influencers’ names through the mud, but if you want advice on who to stay away from then send me a message whenever. You’d be shocked at just how many are bullshitting you.

First and foremost, I want to talk about calories. Still to this day, you get people claiming that you can lose weight without being in a calorie deficit. Just last week I had a client say that someone had told that that a calorie deficit doesn’t work! Being in a calorie deficit essentially means that you are either consuming, or burning, more calories than your body needs to function.  Eventually, this will lead to weight loss. Being in a calorie deficit is the ONLY way to lose weight. It’s just basic science. How do you expect to lose weight if you are consuming more calories than your body is using?

Key point here: there is also no such thing as a bad food or a good food. The fact we think like this results in deeply rooted issues in the way we look at food. We have been conditioned to believe that if you eat sweets, crisps and chocolate then the weight just appears. This is far from the truth. We have some foods that are higher in nutritional value and they should equate to around 80% of our intake. 20% should be the more calorie dense and less nutritious food i.e., the foods we love. Increasing protein levels will also help you stick to a lower calorie diet due to the thermic effect: foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts etc will be more like to fill you up for much longer.

In short, if you want to lose weight, set your calories below maintenance and improve quality of food. DO NOT overcomplicate it. I promise, it is THAT easy. Also remember, you are allowed the foods you enjoy. I am sipping a Tea with some chocolate as I write this. It is all about balance and making is sustainable for YOU. If you want chocolate, have chocolate. Just be aware of the amount you are eating. This is where calorie trackers, such as MyFitnessPal, can be a very useful tool in helping people to realise the number of calories they are consuming.

To finish, here are 10 things that will help you feel less confused about health and fitness:

  1. Rest days are good. Walk, read, stretch, mediate. The body and mind need this to stay healthy.
  2. Make time for YOU. I fell into this trap a few years back. If you aren’t giving yourself time, then how can you help others. Always make your needs a priority and never feel selfish for it.
  3. Do the things that bring you joy. If you like to walk in nature, do it. If you enjoy a night in watching films, do it. I want you to avoid feeling guilty for them. Productivity will often be better if you have enjoyment in your week.
  4. Lift weights. I mentioned this above and I want to remind you of how good this is for the body and mind.
  5. Plan ahead. I have found in recent years that preparation makes stress levels and anxiety decrease. Take time to set out your week and you will end up having more free time and be less likely to scroll on your phone. FUN FACT: The average person scrolls through 300 feet of mobile content per day. That is the equivalent to the size of the Statue of Liberty!
  6. Spend time in nature. This has completely changed my life. I feel happier, less anxious and more productive when I get more time outdoors. It is usually when I think more clearly and get my best ideas.
  7. Drink more water. This sounds easy. But I bet loads of you reading this are dehydrated. Drink more water and watch energy levels surge.
  8. Focus on the mental just as much as the physical. This is another one lots of you might neglect. Be kind to yourself and make sure to face any problems with mental health. Ignoring it will only make it worse.
  9. Read and listen to podcasts more. This one will help you gain more knowledge so the next time you see a bullshit claim, you can identify it and laugh.
  10. Avoid feelings of guilt and dwelling on the past. The next time you miss a workout or go over calories, move forward and focus on the next. It is never one bad day that causes the problems, it is the negative feelings we present ourselves with that will lead to eventual downfall.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew.