Author: Leanne Spencer

What is Body Mass Index and should I be worried about it?

I want to talk about some of the better alternatives to BMI. I’ve heard this number bounced around quite a bit. It stands for Body Mass Index, and it is an equation (based on height and weight) that is done to give you a rough indication of whether you are overweight, or underweight, or so on. If you are a very muscular person, your Body Mass Index is going to imply you are overweight, when usually that isn’t the case – it’s because you have got the dense muscle mass. So it’s not an accurate number, but that said, I’m not particularly keen on any number that you can apply to somebody’s body composition (which I think is a better way of describing things). Body composition is how your body is composed of water, muscle, fat, and bone. For most people, we want a little bit more muscle, and in some cases, quite a bit less fat, but body composition is the right term. What am I a fan of? Look in the mirror. Be …

I’m Worried My Blood Pressure Is Too High, How Can I Lower It?

Are you worried about your blood pressure and not sure how you can lower it? Maybe your doctor has told you that you have high blood pressure, or maybe you keep a track with a kit and you do your own blood pressure testing and it’s a little bit higher than you’d like it to be. There are lots and lots of things you can do to lower your blood pressure. Popular belief has had us believe that salt intake is linked with hypertension – which has been dismissed slightly now. It’s not a bad idea to have a look at the salt content in your food. Often, if you’re consuming a lot of salt, it’s because you’re eating refined and processed foods – and we know that’s not healthy for us. The best drug-free brilliant remedy for high blood pressure is exercise but ensuring the appropriate type and intensity of exercise. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, I strongly recommend you consult a doctor or a personal trainer or both before …

Have you run out of time to get fit and healthy for this summer?

I would say absolutely not, there is still plenty of time to get your body and your mind in better shape and get you feeling really good about your summer holiday. If your fitness levels are not great at the moment, the first thing to do is start increasing your daily life movement. Getting out there and walking much as you can, lifting some heavy things, whether that’s lifting your children up or whatever it is that you do – but start moving the body. Do compound movements – these are movements that involves multiple joints. For example, when you sit down in a chair and get back up again, you’re using the knee joint, the hip joint, and you’re using the ankle joint as well. One of the things I absolutely love recommending to people is running or jogging. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but it’s a really great way of toning and what I love about it most is you immediately start seeing improvement straight off the bat. It takes about two weeks …

Why a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work

The old adage, one size does not fit all has never been truer. We now know that there are so many things that affect our body composition and it wouldn’t be wise to follow the same advice for example, at work, for my mum or my friend or the person off the road – you’ve really got to throw out that one size fits all and focus on personalization. What’s going to work for you? For your particular body type, your personal situation, your injury status, your food, and your lifestyle. We also know the oversimplification of eat less and move more doesn’t work for us. Yes, it’s very good, broad strokes advice – move less, eat more, and there is a certain element of truth in terms of the calorie balance, but what we know now about calories is that a calorie is not a calorie. For example, a calorie of fat differs from protein, differs from carbohydrate and the effect on our bodies of those macro nutrients can vary wildly from one of …

Is stress bad for your mind, body and wellbeing?

The answer, of course, is yes. But why? When we’re in a stressed state, we release different hormones, predominately cortisol, which can have a negative effect on our body composition because cortisol instructs the liver to secrete glucose into the bloodstream (in effect to get us ready for action because it thinks we’re in a threat state). We then have elevated glucose in the blood – which is not great for our energy levels or our body composition (our weight management). But stress can also affect the entire body from top to tail. It can switch on and off genes that we don’t necessarily want switched on or off, it can significantly affect our overall health through our genetic expression, which I think is fascinating! It also affects the nervous system – the autonomic nervous system. There are two branches to this nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic. Sympathetic is our fight, flight, freeze response. That’s our threat state, and when we’re stressed, we’re in a sympathetic dominant state. Parasympathetic is our rest and digest, and that’s the …