How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain









With the summer holiday season rapidly approaching, many of us are looking to shed a few pounds in the hope of looking and feeling great rocking that swimsuit.

It’s not unusual to try and crash diet a few weeks before the departure date, often reaching out for quick fix solutions like diet shakes, meal replacements and other severe calorie restricted plans.

It might also spur us on to give it all we’ve got at the gym for a few weeks in the belief that we really can get a bum like Kylie’s in 3 weeks flat!

The problem comes when we get on holiday and within a couple of days we’re feeling more like Jabba the Hutt than Kylie Minogue!

So what can we do to stop the holiday bloat and avoid the pounds piling on?


Firstly, we have to be realistic about what we can achieve in a few weeks leading up to the holiday.

Ideally, we’d start the weight loss process way ahead of the holiday date.  The length of time before will depend on how much weight we want to lose but a realistic target is to aim for around 1-2lbs per week (or half to 1kg).

But if you have left it until the last minute then crash dieting is not a good strategy.

Don’t try and ‘cram’ for your holiday – it’s not an exam!

It doesn’t take long for the metabolism to slow down when we severely restrict calories, which means that as soon as we return to normal eating patterns, then the pounds will pile on.

As soon as you get on holiday and start eating and drinking normally you’ll feel bloated and the pounds will pile on quickly.  In fact, most of us don’t eat and drink ‘normally’ on holiday.  We tend to over-indulge – and why not?  Isn’t that why we have holidays in the first place?

So if you have left it all a little bit late, by all means eat sensibly and maybe reduce calories slightly on the lead up to the holiday, but avoid very low calorie, meal replacement style restrictive diets – you’ll feel far worse by the 2nd or 3rd day of your holiday anyway.

Approach your holiday with a strategy for how you’re going to enjoy yourself without coming back feeling like you’re carrying extra baggage and a whole load of holiday guilt!

Maybe you will decide to allow yourself to fully enjoy your evening meal, and yes you will indulge in a dessert or a cocktail or two with dinner, but you’ll compensate by having a light lunch and avoiding the ice-creams and lunchtime drinks.

Perhaps you decide in advance that you will only choose fresh fruit for dessert or that you’ll dilute your drinks with sparkling water or diet soda.

Whatever you choose, try to have a plan before you go.  Set yourself some boundaries, without being overly restrictive, and accept that you aren’t on holiday every day of the year and that some weight gain may be inevitable.

Avoid being too restrictive when you get on holiday.  Telling yourself you absolutely can’t have something will push your willpower to the limit, and when it snaps there’s a good chance you’ll tip the other way and binge on anything and everything you can get your hands on.


Airports are packed full of eateries and it can be very easy to get into ‘holiday mode’ before you’ve even boarded the plane!

But do you really need that massive plate full of cheesy nachos and a double gin and tonic and 5.45am!

Many airline companies no longer serve a hot meal on the flight so we’re left to choose from highly processed hot dogs and burgers.  Not great!

Try picking up something a little healthier to take onto the flight with you – and remember the bottle of water too.  In fact, you might also want to pack your own healthy snacks for the flight since the airport is likely to be pretty expensive.

If you’re on a long flight you should try to get up and walk around regularly so you don’t suffer with swollen legs, there’s nothing worse than starting your holiday with ‘cankles’.  Flight socks can also help to avoid swelling.


Lots of things can affect how our body hangs on to excess fluid, but feeling bloated can really ruin our holiday.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you remain fully hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

This is often easier when we’re on a sunny, beach holiday when it’s hot as we naturally want to drink more, however our needs also increase so making sure you get enough is imperative.    Aim for 3-4 litres of water each day.

Alcohol dehydrates so try to have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink and avoid drinking alcohol during the hottest part of the day.

Check the colour of your pee to see if you’re dehydrated.  A hydrated body has very light yellow, almost colourless and odourless urine.  It’s the best way see if you’re hydrated or not.  Don’t rely on thirst – by the time your thirst signals kick in you could already be pretty dehydrated.

Make water more interesting by asking for a piece of fruit or a mint leaf and some cucumber in it.  Try sparkling water in a wine glass and it’ll feel more like you’re having a ‘proper’ drink.



If you’re a regular exerciser than getting your exercise in on holiday shouldn’t be a problem but if not then what better time to get moving than when you’ve got so much more spare time and so many new places to see.

Stick a pair of trainers in your suitcase and get walking.   Exploring the local area can get your step count cranked up.

If you’re put off by walking in the heat of the day take an early morning stroll along the beach before the crowds spoil the view.

Or go for a leisurely walk after dinner to soak in the evening air (and help your dinner go down!).

Try a new activity, maybe surfing or snorkelling or hire a bike and go exploring.

Many resorts and hotels have a gym and getting up before breakfast for a quick workout can make you feel very virtuous and offset some of those extra calories you might enjoy throughout the day.

Or how about a few lengths in the hotel pool?  Cool down and burn off a few cocktails at the same time.



If your holiday includes all your food and drinks avoid the temptation to go down the ‘well I’ve paid for it so I might as well have it’ route.

You may have paid for the convenience of all inclusive, but if you throw caution to the wind and aim to REALLY get your money’s worth – you could end up gaining more ‘pounds’ than your bargained for.

If you’re faced with a breakfast buffet try to go for some good protein options; cooked meats, eggs and yoghurt.  Also try to include some fresh fruit.

Another good tip is to head to the end of the buffet table and have a good look at what’s on offer before you join the queue.   Remember you’re there for a few days so you don’t need to try everything at once!

Don’t assume a continental breakfast is a healthier choice than a full English – pastries and croissants are packed full of empty calories.

Decide which is going to be your ‘main’ meal of the day and aim to reduce the quantity of food eaten at the other meals.   But, avoid skipping meals as this could easily lead to getting over hungry and over indulging.



If you’re tempted by the hotel bar’s ‘Happy Hour’ try to make good choices.

Fruit based cocktails will generally contain fewer calories than creamier ones.

Choosing olives over the crisps and salted nuts to snack on can help reduce the calories consumed, and avoiding the snacks altogether will be even better.

There’s a very good reason why the barman is offering you salty snacks and it’s not to help with your electrolyte balance!

Salty snacks encourage you to drink more by making you feel thirsty.  Who’s a clever little barman!

Don’t forget too, that alcohol is very good at ruining our good intentions.  Our judgement over food choices goes out of the window after a few cocktails.


Lastly, remember we don’t go on holiday to feel deprived.  We go to let our hair down and have fun, and often that involves trying new and exciting cuisines, wines and other local specialities.

It’s important that we don’t ruin our holiday (and those we’re with)  by putting severe restrictions on what we allow ourselves to do.

We need to accept that there’s a good chance we might come back a few pounds heavier.

How much weight you put on will come down to the choices you make while you’re away.

Whilst being overly restrictive will spoil your holiday, equally, throwing all caution to the wind and simply eating and drinking to excess isn’t going to help you either.

It’s all about finding balance.

So decide what is ‘on the table’ and what’s ‘off the table’ before you go.


For more help with eating well, visit me at or find me on Facebook at Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching or you might want to join my Facebook Group, Fifty, Fit and Fabulous, a fabulous community full of information, motivation and inspiration for anyone heading towards, through or beyond midlife.


Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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Ten Easy Breakfast Ideas


Breakfast seems to be that one meal where we all struggle to be creative.  It’s so easy to get into a rut of eating the same thing day in day out or skipping it all together.

And whilst gone are the days where we believed that breakfast was THE most important meal of the day, for many people it can still be the best way to get their day off to a great start.

When I work with clients, especially those who struggle with sugar cravings and mid-morning snacking, one of the first things I do is get them to switch their usually high carb breakfast for a more protein and fat based one.

This invariably has an almost immediate effect of not only keeping them fuller for longer, but also stopping them reaching for the biscuits and cake at 10 o’clock and getting that mid-afternoon slump.

Often the result is so quick, literally a day or two, that they think it’s some kind of magic!

In reality, it’s simply that fats and proteins are more satiating, keeping you feeling satisfied for much longer.

They also have much less effect on the release of insulin than carbohydrates and therefore reduce the blood sugar highs and lows associated with sugary cereals and processed carbs.

So I’ve put together my Top 10 favourite breakfast ideas to share with you.   They’re quick, easy, tasty and some can be even be prepared in advance to save you more time.

Often people think they don’t have time to cook breakfast or eat better in the morning, but I promise some of these recipes are ready in less time than you think.

1. Make Ahead Baked Omelette

This has got to be my absolute favourite because it is just so versatile.  You can prepare ahead, it lasts for a few days and you can pretty much pack it with whatever veggies you’ve got hanging around in the fridge.

Baked Omelette

I use 6 eggs, beaten, and add whatever I have to hand.


This usually includes things like asparagus, spring onions, red onion, spinach, feta cheese, chorizo, ham, mushrooms, garden peas, broccoli  – honestly just chop them up and mix them through with the eggs.

Pour the whole lot into a lined or greased 2lb loaf tin and bake in the oven (about 180 degrees celcius) for approximately 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

The beauty of this breakfast is that you can cook it in advance, stick it in a food container and take it with you if you’re in a rush as it’s great hot or just as lovely cold.

Slice it up, and it should last about 4 days if you keep it in the fridge.    You’ve got all your protein, fats and veggies in one, portable and very tasty little package!

2. Mixed Berry Smoothie

Another favourite of mine if I need to grab breakfast and go, is a good protein smoothie.

Blueberry Smoothie

Whey protein powders can be a great whey (see what I did there!!) to get extra protein in if you find you struggle.

There are many different manufacturers out there, so try them and see which flavours you like.   In this one I used The Protein Works Banana Smooth flavour.

I just love the rich, deep, pink colour of this Mixed Berry Smoothie and it is surprisingly filling.

I’ve used almond milk and water about 400ml in total. Half a banana. A handful of frozen mixed berries. A dash of lime juice and a tiny squint of runny honey. A handful of spinach. a scoop of whey protein powder and then simply blitzed up in a blender.

Gorgeous and very filling.

3. Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Alright, I know it’s a bit childish, but hey who wants to have to ‘adult’ all the time anyway!

boiled eggs

The trick to getting this perfect is to make sure that the eggs are at room temperature before they go into the water.  If you keep your eggs in the fridge (that’s a whole other discussion!) take out what you need the night before.

Bring a pan of water to a rolling simmer (that means just bubbling on a low to medium heat if you’re not sure) and then add the eggs and time them for between 4 to 6 minutes depending on how well done you like the whites and the yolk, and also how big the eggs are.  You might have to play around a few times to find out what timing gets you your perfect boiled egg.

Toast a piece of sourdough or multiseed bread to dunk into your golden beauties, spread with a thin layer of proper butter (avoid the highly processed fake butter spreads) and enjoy.

Here’s my dad’s top tip – tap the top of the egg that you’re eating last, so that it just breaks the shell, to stop the egg from continuing to cook.

I have absolutely no scientific proof that this actually works, but my dad said to do it so it must be true!

4. Skyr Yoghurt with Honey and Walnuts

I don’t quite recall when I first discovered Icelandic Skyr yoghurt, although in reality it’s not yoghurt it’s cheese, but I’m really glad I did.


It has a fatty, creamy texture but is totally fat free which is great if you’re watching your calories, and it’s packed full of protein.

I prefer the flavour to Greek yoghurt, although there’s no reason in the world why you couldn’t swap the Skyr for Greek yoghurt if you choose.  Remember though if you use full fat Greek yoghurt the calories will be significantly higher.

Here I’ve simply topped a couple of tablespoons of Skyr with about 15g of broken walnuts and drizzled a little runny honey over it.  You could use agave syrup if you preferred.

This really has got to be the quickest breakfast ever, plus, it kind of feels like you’re eating dessert for breakfast so it’s an absolute winner!

5. Perfect Poached Eggs on Toast

Nothing seems to cause as much debate as the question of how to poach an egg.

Do you need a special poaching pan?  Should you prick the yolk?  Do you need to wrap them in clingfilm?  To vinegar or not to vinegar, that is the question?

Poached Eggs

OK I have to say that, at the risk of sounding big headed, poached eggs are definitely my thing.

I have to give credit, once again, to my old dad.  He may not have spent much of his time in the kitchen, (being a proper Northern bloke who spent his adult life working in the ship yards!!) however he did know his way around these little ovoid gems, and he taught me well.

So, here’s my fool-proof guide to perfect poached eggs.

First, and this is pretty crucial, make sure they’re the freshest eggs you can find.  The fresher the better.  If you’ve got a neighbour ‘round the corner who sells eggs, go and get to know her (better still if you can keep a couple of chucks yourself you’ll have a constant supply).

Next is to bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling simmer (see above!!).

Add 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar.  You can use any vinegar but I find that white wine doesn’t add any taste to the eggs.

Get a wooden spoon and slowly stir the water to create a small whirlpool (you do not need to whisk so hard you cause a small cyclone!).

Once the water is spinning break your egg straight into the water, getting as close to the surface of the water as you can without scalding your fingers.  (If you feel more comfortable you can crack the egg into a teacup and pour from the cup, but that just seems like extra washing up to me).

Let the egg cook for about 3-4 minutes, and then gently use a slotted spoon to ease the egg away from the bottom of the pan (assuming it has stuck slightly).  If the egg floats upwards, gently take it out of the water and check that the white is cooked to your liking.  If not, place it back into the water for another 30 seconds and check again.  Repeat until the white is cooked (the time it takes to cook will depend on the size of the egg and whether it was straight from the fridge or at room temperature).

Once cooked, drain onto a piece of kitchen paper and then serve on top of a piece of buttered wholemeal or sourdough toast.

If you want to get really ‘chefy’, stick a sprig of flat leaf parsley on the top!!

6. Waffley Good Pancakes!

My daughter bought me a waffle iron for Christmas a couple of years ago so I could make protein pancakes look fancier.  What she didn’t realise when she bought it was that it also makes them so much easier to make too.

You can pick an electric waffle maker up off Amazon for under £30 and they’re brilliant.

chocolate waffles

Now this really is like having dessert for breakfast but don’t be fooled, it’s still really good for you!

For my waffles I put 1 egg, 1 scoop of whey protein (any flavour you choose, I used Chocolate Silk by The Protein Works), 1 tbsp of rolled oats, half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, a tiny splash of almond milk and half a frozen banana, into a high speed blender.  I have a Nutri Ninja, 1000w and I love it.

Put the waffle maker on to heat and lightly brush the plates with a little olive oil.

When the ready light goes out, pour in your waffle batter and cook for a few minutes (usually about 4).

I’ve topped these with Skyr yoghurt, some strawberries and a squirt of Sweet Freedom Choc Shots to make it feel a bit more indulgent.

If you don’t have a waffle maker you can easily use the batter to make pancakes in a skillet or frying pan and they’ll be just as good.

7. Super Simple Banana Omelette

This has got to be the easiest omelette ever.  I used just one egg (but you could use two if you’re hungry).  I’ve whisked the egg with a fork, and added half a mushed up banana.



Heat a small knob of butter in a small frying pan and pour in the banana/egg mixture.

Cook for about 2 minutes each side until it’s lovely and golden.

Serve alongside some Greek or Skyr yoghurt and fresh fruit.  I’ve topped mine off with some Omega Seed Mix or you could use flax seeds, chopped nuts or sesame seeds.  Yum!


8. Smoked Haddock and Poached Egg on Toast

This breakfast not only packs a huge protein punch but also has the most amazing flavour.

It takes a little longer to prepare but it’s great for a Sunday brunch or weekend treat.


Using a deepish frying pan, bring a mix of milk and water (to about 2/3rds full,) to a simmer.

Add half an onion, 2 cloves, half a dozen peppercorns and a bayleaf  to the milk and let it simmer for a few minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Meanwhile bring a small pan of water to the boil ready to poach the egg (as per the instructions above).

Slide a piece of smoked haddock into the milk and let it cook for about 5 minutes until the flesh starts to lose its translucent appearance.

While the fish is cooking, cook your perfect poached egg.

When they’re both ready, place them on top of a piece of toast, sprinkle with some chopped up baby spinach leaves and top with some ground black pepper.

TIP:  Try to buy undyed smoked haddock.  The bright fluorescent yellow stuff is full of unnecessary added colours, naturally smoked fish doesn’t glow!

9. Spinach and Red Onion Omelette with Avocado

Another great brunch or weekend breakfast recipe, this spinach and red onion Omelette is paired with half an avocado for some healthy fat to help keep you full.

spinach and onion omelette

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a shallow frying pan and gently cook the red onion until just soft.  Add a big handful of spinach leaves and let them wilt down in the heat of the oil.

Whisk 2 or 3 eggs together (depending on how hungry you are!) and season with black pepper.

Pour the eggs over the onion/spinach mix and use a spatula to move the eggs around as they start to set.

Cook on the hob for a couple of minutes to brown the bottom of the omelette and then place the pan under the grill (broiler) to cook the top.

Serve, folded in half, alongside half an avocado.

10. Broccoli For Breakfast – Honest!

A few years ago the idea of having broccoli for breakfast would have been absurd, but now I think, why not?  It’s packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals not to mention protein and omega 3 fatty acids.  Honestly it’s one of nature’s great all-rounders.

brocolli and scrambled egg

What I love about this breakfast is that I can make most of it in the microwave in next to no time.

The scrambled eggs are literally just whisked together in a bowl (I used 2 eggs here) and ‘nuked’ for about 60-90 seconds (I do mine in 30 seconds blasts, then whisk and repeat).

The broccoli and mushrooms also get cooked in the microwave.  I put them into a small bowl, cover with boiling water and blast them for about 4 minutes.

The bacon is simply dry fried in a non-stick skillet.

So much healthier than a standard full English breakfast.

Hopefully this has given you a little bit of inspiration to try a few new ideas for breakfast.

My final top tip would be to try and make time to enjoy your breakfast.  So often we’re rushing out of the door with a grab and go slice of toast and starving again an hour later.

Make breakfast just as big a deal as your evening meal.  Sit down, enjoy it.  Savour it.  Take is slowly and enjoy the flavours.

Not only will it help your digestion, but I guarantee it’ll keep the stress levels down too.

For more help with eating well, visit me at or find me on Facebook at Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching or you might want to join my Facebook Group, Fifty, Fit and Fabulous, a fabulous community full of information, motivation and inspiration for anyone heading towards, through or beyond midlife.


Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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Strength Training for an Independent Later Life!



There is absolutely no doubt that as we get older we need to maintain our strength if we want to ensure that we can lead a long, happy, independent life.


With the average life expectancy going up there’s a very strong chance that we could live well into our 90s and beyond, but the idea of living longer without being able to remain independent is a frightening thought.


As we age our muscles weaken and our lean mass reduces, this is known as sarcopenia.  Good nutrition and regular exercise, including strengthening exercise and moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, can help to stave off the effects of old age.


Many people over 50 are aware of the health benefits of walking and recognise the current guidelines of aiming to include 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  However, including strength training alongside is key to making sure that as we age we maintain as much muscle mass and strength as possible.


The physiological improvements gained through combining moderate aerobic activity with a progressive programme of strength training include stronger muscles (a more independent life), improved cardiovascular function (lower risk of disease) and improved mental health (reduced risk of depression, improved self esteem) to name but a few.


The problem for many people wanting to incorporate strength training into their week though, is that they simply don’t know where to start.


They may feel embarrassed about going into a gym or asking for help and direction, especially if the gym is full of bicep wielding twenty-somethings posing for selfies at every turn!


Finding a gym in which you feel comfortable, that caters for older clientele and has trainers who understand and can empathise with the needs of the older client is important.


Seeking out the help of a personal trainer who has experience of strength training with older clients can also be a good investment.  You may want to find a trainer who will come to you in your home if the idea of joining a gym doesn’t appeal.


You may be worried that you might end up looking like a body builder or hate the idea of bulging biceps but fear not, that’s really not likely to happen without some serious hard work (and probably the odd pill or two!!)


For most of us we just want to look a bit better and be able to do all the things we need to do without difficulty.


The trick to including strength training to improve your quality of life and your body composition is to use effective, compound moves that target the whole body.


A compound movement is one that uses a number of different muscles across a number of joints at the same time such as squats, deadlifts and bench press.


The alternative is to use an isolation exercise which targets just one muscle across one joint, for example a bicep curl or leg extension.


Compound movements tend to reflect real life movement, or functional movements.  Exercises such as squats can ensure that we are able to get up and down from a chair more easily, pick things off the floor when we drop them or climb the stairs with less difficulty.


These are all functional movements that can, if we aren’t prepared, become debilitating in older life.


Rather than waiting to reverse the effects of muscle weakness, we need to start preventing the effects as early as possible.  In essence, don’t delay, start today!


Compound exercises bring other benefits such as burning a greater number of calories since we are engaging a greater number of muscles.


They are time efficient allowing you to work a number of body parts at the same time and therefore reduce the length of your workout.


Because they utilise many muscles across many joints, they help with coordination, balance and core stability.


Some of the big movements such as squats, lunges, bench press etc can help get your heart pumping and therefore aid cardiovascular health.


But don’t think for one moment that compound exercises are an easy option – they take hard work!


But the benefits are huge.


You get to do more in less time.


You get to see improvements in movements that will have a direct benefit to daily life.


You get to burn more calories; great if you want to lose a few pounds or simply improve appetite.


Aiming to strength train 3-4 times per week is ideal.


A Programme of either 3 x whole body workouts or 4 x upper body/lower body splits works well.


This means that for the whole body you would workout for 3 days each week using a combination of compound exercises that target the upper and lower body as well as the muscles that push and those that pull all in the same workout.


Or if doing upper/lower body splits you would workout 4 times per week, doing 2 sessions focusing on the upper body and alternating with 2 sessions focusing on the lower body.


Push exercises are those that push away from the midline of the body such as bench press, push ups, deadlifts, shoulder press and glute raises.


Pull exercises are those that pull the weigh toward the midline of the body such as pull ups, rows, squats, lunges, lat pull downs.


It is definitely worth paying a professional trainer for a few sessions to make sure that your technique is correct, since compound moves require good form to be safe and effective.


You can look on the REPs website (Register of Exercise Professionals) or CIMSPA (The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) to find suitably qualified personal trainers in your area.







Bev Thorogood is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Training with over 20 years in the fitness world.  She’s also a wife, mother, grandmother and cheerleader for feeling amazing through midlife and beyond.


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5 Easy Ways to Reduce Calories


If you’re trying to lose weight then you have to eat fewer calories.  It’s kind of a given right?

Whatever diet method you use, if you don’t sufficiently reduce your overall calorie intake you won’t shift the pounds.

There are lots of mixed messages coming out of the diet world right now with many suggesting that low fat is dead and low carb is the way forward.

The fact is regardless of whether you reduce fats or carbs, if you don’t reduce your overall calorie intake you’re not going to lose weight.

Personally, I’m all for balance and I’m not a fan of extremes when it comes to diet.  The most effective way to ensure that you’re not eating too many calories is simply to track them.  There are any number of smartphone apps to choose from, such as My Fitness Pal, that will help you to stay on track, or you could simply jot down everything you eat and keep track using a calorie counter book, Google searches and ingredient lists.

But there are a few simple things that you can implement that will help to reduce your calories with very little effort.  I’ve put together 5 that you can get going with straight away.


1.      Choose CLEVER low fat options.

Having spent many years jumping from one low fat diet to the next and gradually seeing my weight increase year on year, I became absolutely adamant that we should never be eating low fat products EVER as they’re full of sugar and added chemicals.

So why on earth would I include low fat foods in my list of suggestions?

Well, partly because I’m now older and wiser and a bit more moderate in my thoughts but also because whether we like it or not, fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to the other macronutrients, carbohydrate and protein, which both contain just 4g – therefore if we overeat fat it’s not going to be helpful to our ability to lose weight.

That said, I’m still not a fan of all low fat foods.

If you’re switching a regular chocolate muffin for a low fat muffin well, at the end of the day it’s still a muffin and probably not going to help you get to your goal.  In fact, if you look at the calorie content, and also the sugar content, of the low fat muffin you might be surprised to find that the low fat version actually has a higher number of calories and a hell of a lot more sugar.

Plus, psychologically when we think about low fat foods we tend to give ourselves permission to eat more.  We feel that it MUST be healthier so we are less careful about the amount we have.

But there are some foods that can be easily switched for lower fat versions, and that are good to include if you’re trying to shed the pounds.

Low fat cheese, hummus, greek yoghurt and cottage cheese are all a great way to enjoy these foods without eating extra calories.

It’s worth checking the ingredients list of both the full fat and the low fat versions of foods.  Check whether the low fat version has simply had its oil or fat content reduced (good) or has the manufacturer added a whole load of sugar or artificial flavourings in order to counter the loss of taste from reducing the fat (bad).

It’s also important to consider taste and enjoyment.  For some, having a smaller portion of a full fat version is preferable to having a bigger portion of the lower fat one.  If volume is important then go low!

2.        Be Buffet Savvy

Buffets can be a killer if you’re trying to lose weight.  Especially the ‘all you can eat’ restaurant type buffets.  But there are little tricks you can use to help stop you blowing your calorie budget.


While everyone else goes to the start of the queue and simply works their way along the servery, do yourself a favour and survey the whole buffet first, starting at the farthest end of the table!

A study by Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that 75% of people put the first item served onto their plate, regardless of what that item was.  They also found that 2/3 of a person’s plate was filled with the first few items they came to.   Amazingly, they also found that when less healthy foods were served first, people took more than 31% more food items overall.

Restaurants serving ‘all you can eat’ buffets also tend to put the starchier, cheaper, more dense foods such as chips, rice, pasta etc, first.   Couple this with the stats I just mentioned and you can be easily piling on the calories before you get to any of the ‘healthier’ choices.

So, by surveying the buffet first and deciding in advance what you’re going to have you can overcome your brain’s habitual patterns and make healthier choices.

Other tricks such as going for a small, side plate rather than a full-sized dinner plate can help, as can finding a table as far away from the buffet as you can, and preferably sitting with your back to it.

3.       Leave The Best ‘Til Last

If your favourite bit of a meal tends to be the highly palatable, high calorie foods, then leaving them until last can be a great way to limit the overall amount of calories you eat since you’re generally fuller by the time you get to them.

By piling your meal up with lots of low calorie vegetables and eating these first, you will be adding bulk so that your stomach feels fuller and you’re less likely to overeat.

Munching through a big plate of salad can take a heck of a lot longer than it takes to down a couple of slices of pizza.  This means your ‘full’ hormones have time to register and you’ll be less likely to keep on scoffing the high calorie stuff.

In fact, simply slowing down in general will help.  Putting your knife and fork down between each mouthful is a simple trick, as is making sure that you do actually use cutlery rather than picking with your fingers.  And if you want to really test yourself, try picking up a set of chopsticks and using those instead!

Best of all, by leaving your favourite bit until last, you’re left with the flavour you like most lingering after you’ve finished – bonus!


4.      Share the Love

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then eating out can be difficult, especially when the waiter is waving the dessert board in front of you.

Choosing healthier options such a fresh fruit or sorbet is the best choice, but sometimes it’s just not going to cut it.

The whole point of dessert is that you’re left with a satisfying sweet hit at the end of your meal and not getting this can leave us feeling a bit miserable.  But you don’t have to have much of a good thing for the ‘happy’ signals to be triggered.

Why not try sharing a dessert with your dinner partner. Some restaurants serve a selection of mini versions of different desserts which makes sharing even easier.

You could try asking the waiter to serve any syrups or sauces on the side so you get to control how much cream or ice cream you add.

When you’re eating at home try and leave a hefty time gap between the main course and dessert.  You might find the urge to eat the pudding goes completely.

Finally, try to avoid ‘help yourself’ servings from the centre of the dinner table.  Portion up the dessert and serve them that way, you’ll be less likely to mindlessly reach for seconds (or thirds!).

5.       Go Sparingly

Fats are good for us, despite what we’ve been told for many years.  But as I said right at the start, they also contain a high calorie content gram for gram.

Including good quality fat sources into the diet, such as oily fish, nuts, avocado etc, is necessary for hormone production and a whole host of other reasons, but eating too much when you’re trying to lose weight will not be helpful and certainly eating high fat processed foods that provide little nutritional value are best avoided.

Here are some easy ways to reduce the amount of unnecessary calories you get from fat.

  • Choose lower fat content meat when you buy things like beef and turkey mince.
  • Choose leaner versions of things like steak and lamb.
  • Use a measured amount of oil when cooking (personally, I’d avoid oil sprays!).  A good non-stick frying pan and a bit of vegetable stock can really help to reduce the need for adding lots of cooking oil.
  • Trim visible fat from things like bacon and beef.
  • Allow butter to sit at room temperature so that it’s easier to spread more thinly onto sandwiches or try skipping it altogether.
  • Choose higher protein content meat such as chicken breast and turkey over higher fat meats such as lamb and beef.
  • Choose sausages with a high meat content.
  • Check food labels and look at the percentage of fat – just make sure that the manufacturer hasn’t compensated by increasing the sugar and salt content.
  • Avoid any foods that contain transfats and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

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Bev Thorogood is a Level 3 Qualified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and owner of Floresco Fitness and Fatloss Coaching.


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I Hate HIIT, Does That Mean I Won’t Lose Body Fat?


HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has become the next big fashion item in the fitness world with Facebook and Instagram celebs singing its praises for its incredible fat burning powers.

Conversely LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) has been almost demonised, with supporters of the long, steady run ridiculed for their naivety and ignorance.

So, who is right?

Is HIIT truly the panacea to all our fat loss problems?

Is LISS really a complete waste of time when it comes to getting lean?

Before we get into whether one is better than the other, let’s first make sure we fully understand what each is.


HIIT is basically a short duration training session (usually 30 minutes or less) which intersperses short bursts of high intensity anaerobic activity with short periods of rest and recovery, with a ratio of somewhere between 1:1 and 1:4.

High Intensity Interval Training is nothing new. Runners have been using a form of HIIT called ‘fartlek’ since it was first developed by Swedish coach Gosta Holmer in 1937. Alternating fast and slow runs throughout the duration of the training session.

Circuit Training is another form of HIIT which has been around for many years, indeed I started doing Circuit Training in the mid 90s, but I believe it was initially developed as a training methodology by Morgan and Adamson at the University of Leeds in the UK in 1957.

HIIT is simply a new-fangled term for something that’s been around for many years.

Out of the HIIT trend there have developed numerous different methodologies such as Tabata which typically last about 4 minutes and is intersperse ultra-high intensity intervals followed by short periods of recovery, and Gibala, which consists of 60 seconds intense work followed by 75 seconds of rest, over 8-12 cycles, among others.



LISS is fundamentally the opposite of HIIT.

The intensity of the exercise is much lower and therefore sustainable for longer periods of time. LISS predominantly uses our aerobic energy system, meaning that it needs more oxygen to break down fat as fuel, whereas HIIT is predominantly anaerobic meaning it relies on glycogen stored in the muscle.

Walking, jogging, swimming and cycling, if done at an intensity that means you can still comfortably converse, would be classed as LISS.

Depending on fitness levels one man’s (or woman’s) LISS would be another’s HIIT!



There has been much written in the social media arena of late suggesting that the best and only way to burn fat is through HIIT training. In fact some have even suggested that LISS can cause weight gain! (However most of the articles I found in support of this theory seemed to be written by trainers who focused their business around HIIT protocols.)

Let’s face it, how many fat marathon runners do you see?

So, back to which is better for fat loss.

You may have heard of the ‘afterburn’ effect or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). The afterburn has been ‘bigged up’ as the reason why HIIT training is so effective for fat loss; the idea being that you continue to burn calories for hours and hours after you’ve finished training.

However recent studies suggest that the actual increase in afterburn effect may be significantly lower than some would have you believe.

LISS on the other hand doesn’t provide that same afterburn effect, however it is a great way to expend a high number of calories as it can be performed for longer periods of time.

In terms of fat loss, we need to be in a calorie deficit and both HIIT and LISS can help to create one, assuming that we don’t eat back any deficit gained from the training.

I like to think of it in terms of driving a car. This may not be the most scientific analogy but it makes sense to me.

If I fill my fuel tank and drive from A to B at 70mph and it takes 30 minutes I will use the same amount of fuel as if I drive the same distance at 35mph, it’ll simply take me twice as long.

So from a fat burning point of view either/or will help create a calorie deficit.


If time is at a premium then HIIT is certainly an efficient way to train. You can get a lot done in half an hour and that‘s you done for the day.

A good HIIT session can be done with or without equipment and you don’t need a lot of space. It’s not dependant on the weather so you literally can do it any time, any place, any where!

The disadvantage is that it can be pretty stressful on the joints and if you’re not used to exercise it can lead to a high risk of injury. Ideally you’d build up strength around the joints and allow the muscles to strengthen and adapt and the motor skills to develop, by beginning with a lower intensity combination of cardio and weights.

Building up through the use of MITT (you guessed it… Medium Intensity Interval Training) can give the supporting tissues and joints the chance to strengthen before going all out.

LISS on the other hand can do wonders for your mental health. Many people enjoy the ‘me’ time they get from a long walk or run. It’s good thinking time and can help reduce emotional stress.

LISS eats up calories which is great if you’re wanting to lose weight.

Generally speaking the effect of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is less with LISS and therefore recovery is quicker, meaning we can do a bit more of it.

On the other hand it is very easy to over estimate how many calories we burn from LISS, and there is a definite tendency to eat to compensate. If you’re looking to lose body fat, you will need to be mindful of not undoing your hard work.


As always it comes down to balance and choice. If you absolutely love HIIT and hate LISS, do HIIT. Conversely if you really enjoy getting out and doing a long run and you’ve got the time to do so, go for it.

If you want to get the best of both, why not incorporate both into your training regimen.

Ultimately the best fat loss results will come from consistency, no matter what you choose. Which is why first and foremost you need to do what you enjoy.

Finally, don’t forget that any form of exercise, whether HIIT, MITT, LISS or resistance training, places physiological stress on the body and therefore it’s imperative that you also include recovery/rest days into your training programme.


Bev Thorogood is owner of Floresco Fitness and Fatloss Coaching

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How To Warm Up Properly Before a Workout



I remember many years ago when I’d only just started getting into running, waiting to start a 5k fun run (some would argue that’s an oxymoron right there!) and watching many of the competitors jogging around and kicking their heels to their bum.

I can remember clearly thinking ‘blimey if I do a warm up I won’t have enough energy for the run’.

How naïve I was.

I now know of course that not warming up was a big mistake.

Before I go into the how, let’s look at the why.


The main reason we warm up is in order to prepare the body for the extra workload to come.  This in turn can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

You wouldn’t start a cold car and hammer the throttle to the floor without giving the engine a bit of a chance to warm up first.  It just wouldn’t do the car any good at all.

The same applies to your body.  There are a number of physiological changes that need to take place to ensure that the body is going to perform well and cope with the added stress that any kind of exercise produces.

These physiological changes include a gradual rise in the heart rate.  As the HR increases the amount of oxygen that the body takes in increases too.  This oxygen is going to be required for the increased workload you’re about to place on your body.

It also allows the body to feel warmer.

Warm muscles work better.  They become more pliable.  Imagine a piece of sticky tac.  When it’s cold it’s brittle and snaps when ylegg-2821615__340ou try to stretch it.  But, warm it up between your fingers and it becomes softer and you can pull it apart and it doesn’t snap.  You’re muscles work in a very similar way.

Warming up allows the fluid around the joints, known as synovial fluid, to become less viscous.  This time imagine a jar of golden syrup.  When the syrup is cold it’s hard to move a spoon through it.  It feels thick and it resists the spoon.  But if you warm it up it becomes much runnier, it pours easily and the spoon glides through it.  Just the same as what happens in your joints.

By warming up you give the brain time to catch up with what the body is going to be doing.  Have you ever called someone on the phone and you have to ask them to repeat who’s calling?  That’s because it takes the brain a second or two to catch up and in that time you’ve missed the person’s name.  Doing warm up exercises that mimic the main workout allows the neural pathways to prepare for the work to come.

So now you know why we warm up let’s look at how?


There are 3 elements that should always be included in any warm up.

Mobility, Elevation and Stretch.


Mobility is about taking the joints through a gentle, rhythmic full range of movement.  Starting small and building up to their full range this could include movements such as shoulder shrugs, building to shoulder circles, through to elbow circles through to full arm circles and then reversing the circles.

The warm up should aim to mobilise all the major joints, including the spine.  Spinal rotations and lateral flexion are a definite, but also making sure to focus on the less obvious joints such as wrists, ankles, neck and fingers.  The movements should directly relate to the work to come, especially where this is sport specific.


The warm up needs to elevate the HR and the core temperature.  The process of mobilising the joints will provide some level of elevation but the aim here is to raise the HR to approximately 40-60% of maximum.

The less fit you are, the more gradual the elevation should be, also the colder the ambient temperature, the longer it should take to get there.

The best way to start to raise the HR is by gradually increasing the intensity of the movement.  So things like half squats, half lunges, side lunges – big, compound movements that use a number of muscles and joints at the same time work best.

Including higher impact movements such as marching through to jogging, skipping and jumping and combining arm movements with leg movements means the body requires more oxygen and will help to gradually raise the HR.

The trick is to make sure that the HR isn’t elevated too quickly.  The warm up should leaving you feeling raring to go, not exhausted before you even get started.


There is some conjecture about whether or not you should stretch prior to exercise.  Static stretching (where you hold a stretch in one place for a set amount of time) can cause the HR to drop which is not what you’re aiming for.  Instead, adding what’s known as ‘dynamic’ stretching into the warm up can be beneficial to performance.  Dynamic stretches combine a stretch with an action, so for example a lunge with an upper body twist would be a dynamic stretch.  Things like leg swings, walk outs with a twist or a press up, lunge walks, frog walks etc are all great dynamic stretches.


It’s important that you raise you HR again after stretching – sometimes called a second pulse raiser – to ensure that you get back to that 40-60% of max before you go into the main exercise session.

One final word on stretching – remember the sticky tac analogy above?  Make sure you do the mobility and elevation work first before stretching.  Never stretch a cold muscle – it’ll end in tears (both meanings of the word!!)


Although not essential, if you have time and the equipment, spending a few minutes using a foam roller before your main workout will help to break down any tightness in the soft tissues.  This deep tissue work helps to break down any scar tissue (or adhesions) which helps improve blood and lymph flow by applying deep pressure to the muscle.

Foam rolling is effective and will leave you feeling much better.  But be warned, it’s not a comfortable experience!!


So how long should you spend warming up?

There is no specific length of time prescribed for the warm up but somewhere between 5-15 minutes is probably sufficient.

For sport specific warmups it may be between 20-30 minutes.

In general about 5 minutes for the mobility and elevation and about 5 minutes for the dynamic stretches is probably sufficient.  If you’re adding in foam rollering maybe an extra 5-10 minutes.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re not very fit yet, you might want to spend a bit longer on the warm up.

If the weather or ambient temperature is very cold your warm up will take longer and should be more gradual.  If on the other hand it’s already pretty warm, you may be able to shorten the warm up accordingly.


The take away from this article is that you should definitely not underestimate the importance of taking the time to warm up properly.

Make it an integral part of your workout and don’t skimp.  A good warm up will improve performance and help you to hit those PBs.

It’ll reduce your risk of injury and ensure that you can remain consistent with your exercise regimen.

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Bev Thorogood is a Level 3 Qualified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and owner of Floresco Fitness and Fatloss Coaching.


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Are You Ready To Shift Your But?

No, it wasn’t a spelling mistake, I’m not talking about your bum here, I’m talking about your excuses!

no excuses

I’m not picking on you.  Honest 🙂

We all have them, so you’re not alone.

The thing is, very often we don’t even recognise them as excuses.

To us they are real, they feel insurmountable, they’re part of  the fabric of who we are and therefore unchangeable.  Right?

Well, no, actually that’s not the case.

More often than not, every barrier we have to losing weight or getting fit starts with a ‘but’.

I would eat better BUT it’s too expensive and I can’t afford it.

I would go to the gym BUT I’m too busy with work.

I would cook better food BUT my family wouldn’t enjoy healthy stuff.

I would love to be slim and lean BUT all my family are overweight, it’s in our genes.

I would like to exercise BUT I’ve got painful knees.

I want to start a diet BUT I’ve got a wedding in a month’s time so there’s no point.

Pretty much every reason we can find in favour of doing something, can be countered by our BUT.

So how do we shift our BUT?

Well, I believe we can start by focusing on the following 4 things.


This is about being responsible for your own actions and outcomes.   Being pro-active about the choices you make and accepting total responsibility for the outcome.

optical illusion

In Stephen Covey’s book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ he talks about having a ‘Paradigm Shift’.

A paradigm is a scientific term which relates to a distinct set of concepts and thought patterns.  However, in the broader sense it is simply our personal view of the world around us.

In order to get rid of our excuses, we need to shift our paradigm.

This can be pretty tough for many people.  The idea that they can change the way they view things is challenging.

Imagine suddenly realising that everything you always believed might not actually be true after all.  That’s hard to accept.

But the truth is we see the world through our own lens, a lens that has been formed through our experiences, our surroundings, our conditioning, our family, our friends.  It’s our own interpretation of events.  But it’s our truth, not necessarily THE truth.

Have a look at the image above and think about what you see.  Now look again, a bit more deeply and see if you don’t see it differently.

Changing your paradigm often takes courage because you begin to question what you believe in, but it can also be incredibly liberating.

Imagine walking down the street and seeing a friend walking towards you in the opposite direction.  You say hello but the friend totally ignores you.  You’re confused because you’re sure they saw you.

You start to question what you might have done to upset them.  You begin to wonder if they’ve fallen out with you.

Over the following few hours, days, maybe even weeks the feelings of hurt, anger and confusion grow and grow.

The friend doesn’t call you so it just reinforces your belief that there’s a rift.  Your pride stops you from contacting them and anyway you don’t do confrontation.

In your mind you’ve created a version of the truth.  But it quite likely isn’t THE truth.

Let’s view this situation differently.

When your friend ignores you, you immediately think to yourself there could be something upsetting them, distracting them.

Rather than walking on by, you turn back and call to them until they acknowledge you.  You ask them if they’re ok as it’s not like them to ignore you.

They then tell you that they’ve just received some very sad news and they were distracted and deep in thought.  They tell you they are so glad to see you as they needed someone they could trust to share their sad news with.

The relationship is strengthened rather than damaged.

What happened above is a paradigm shift.

See how the truth changed once you took a different perspective on the situation?

The same applies to your excuses.  When you start to view them differently you begin to find solutions rather than problems, strategies rather than barriers.


Being your own person is about recognising that no matter what your upbringing, your environment or your genetics, you are not set in stone and you can change.

We all have the ability to choose how we respond to events in our life.   It is true that we can’t always control the events around us, but we do get to choose how we react to them.

So often we use other people or events as the reason why we can’t do something.  But when we dig a little deeper, more often than not, we find that once again it’s simply an excuse.

It goes back to taking responsibility.  Blaming someone else is simply abdicating responsibility.

It’s easier to shift the blame to someone or something rather than accept that we are in control.

Whether this is our emotional response or a practical response makes no difference.  We get to choose how we respond.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission”.

Equally, no one can make you feel angry unless you choose to be angry.  No one can make you break your diet unless you choose to break it.  No one can make you drink alcohol unless you choose to drink alcohol.

Every single action you take and feeling you have is your choice.

I confess I struggled with this initially.

I’d lost both my parents in my 20s and to be told that I was responsible was ludicrous.  What I hadn’t understood was that I wasn’t being told I was responsible for the event but purely my reaction to it.

Once I’d finally grasped that, I realised that I could choose how I react to everything around me.  If someone says something to me that I think is an insult, I can choose to get upset or ignore it.  I can even choose to reframe it and give it a completely different meaning if I so wish.  Whether the initial comment was meant as an insult or not becomes irrelevant, and in many ways, my decision to reframe it removes all power from the author of the insult!


I’ve known a fair few people who say they can’t afford to eat a healthy diet because buying lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables is too expensive and yet they’d think nothing of spending £30 on a manicure or £100 on a haircut.

It’s all a matter of priorities.

This is a big one when it comes to a lack of time.  People will say they don’t have time to exercise but will happily sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours a night.

Where time really is tight it still comes down to priorities.  There’s always a choice to set the alarm half an hour earlier to get in a quick HIIT session before the day begins.

You will only get your priorities sorted when you accept that you truly want to make the changes.

This is where you have to be emotionally driven by your ‘why’.  If the result you seek isn’t important enough to you, why would you prioritise the activities that will help you get there.

It’s important to have a clear and defined picture of what you’re trying to achieve.  Setting clear, specific goals are so important here.

Without a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve, it is way too easy to hit the snooze button and pull the duvet over you or blow your Zumba class fee on a pizza!


When you are prepared you can deal with pretty much anything.


Making sure that you have good, healthy food options available stops you from reaching for a quick fix snack (invariably not the most nutritious of choices).

Making sure your sports kit is packed and ready to go stops you from forgetting key items or running out of time in the morning.

But being prepared takes self-discipline.  It comes back to getting your priorities sorted.  It comes down to taking responsibility.

Sometimes being prepared means being ready for any arguments that you might have to face in the quest for your success.

Well-meaning loved ones can often be very quick to derail you.

You look fine, one piece of cake won’t hurt’

‘don’t be so boring, it’s only a couple of drinks’,

‘is this another attempt to lose weight, you know you’ll lose motivation and give in just like you always do’.

Here, you need to be prepared to fight your corner.  Know your ‘why’ and be prepared to defend it.  Remember, you are in control, and no one can make you feel a certain way unless you allow it.

Prepare your script and stick to your guns.  Be assertive, after all this is your ‘why’ not theirs.



Limiting beliefs are psychological barriers that can put a major block on you reaching your goal.  In fact, they can be so powerful that they stop you from even setting the goal in the first place.

Limiting beliefs come from the language and stories that you tell yourself.  Stories that may have started to form from a very young age.

But just like your paradigm, they are only your version of the truth, not THE TRUTH.

Here are some examples of limiting beliefs that you may recognise in yourself:

I can’t run

                I don’t deserve to be happy

                I’m hopeless at maths

                I’m rubbish with money

                I could never be a manager

                I always give in to temptation

Have a good think about the stories you tell yourself.  If you start the sentence with ‘I can’t….’ or ‘Im bad at….’ or ‘I have to…..’ then chances are it’s a limiting belief.

In order to overcome your limiting beliefs, you first need to recognise and acknowledge that they exist.    Ask yourself if the thought is really true or is it just your perception.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT an easy exercise.

It takes a lot of introspection and it might be scary to find out that you’re wrong.

But let’s look at this logically.  Let’s take the first example above ‘I can’t run’.

Now, this could be a genuine truth.  There could be physical barriers preventing you from running.  But assuming that you have all your limbs and no medical reason why you can’t run, ask yourself how true is this statement?

What exactly is it that is stopping you from being able to run.

What is it about other people that make them different to you and therefore able to run when you can’t.

When you work on point 1 above, taking responsibility, and begin to accept that you get to choose everything you think, overcoming limiting beliefs becomes easier.

Limiting beliefs are excuses, albeit sometimes harder to recognise.

Limiting beliefs can be far more debilitating than simply telling ourselves we can’t run.

I’m not worthy…’

                ‘I don’t deserve to be loved…..’

                ‘I am not a good person……’

Language like this can seriously put the brakes on moving forward.

These beliefs can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We tend to attract more of what we believe.  If you don’t feel worthy, you may attract partners who reinforce that belief in you.

Often we have a very fixed mindset around who we are.  We use the words ‘I am’ to describe ourselves which suggests an immovable object.  We are what we are and so be it!

You may say things like:

  I am punctual

                I am untidy

                I am an introvert

                I am disorganised

But these are simply limiting beliefs.

As humans we aren’t immovable objects, we are more like chameleons.  We change with our environment and the people we are with.  Maybe sometimes we are shy and quiet, other times we are chatty and loud.

If we can start to change the language we use to describe our beliefs about ourselves we can begin to free our limiting beliefs.  We can create new statements:

Sometimes I am punctual

                I can be untidy, but sometimes I can be tidy

                I used to be introverted but I’m gaining confidence

                I’m working towards being……..

Here are some examples of where ‘I am’ is totally incorrect.

I am fat

                I am unfit

Being fat is not a final destination.  It is simply a definition of the current situation.  It doesn’t define the person.  It is a transient state.

The same with being unfit.

Changing the language to: ‘I currently carry more body fat than I want to’ or ‘I am not yet as fit as I intend to be’ reinforces a new belief.

A belief that says your current circumstances are not set in stone.  A belief that says you have the power to change.


In summary then, in order to shift your BUT you have to take control and recognise that you have choice.

Whenever you hear yourself including the word BUT in a sentence, chances are it’s covering up an excuse.

Once you begin to recognise the excuses for what they are, you have the power to change.

Your success is yours, and yours alone.


Bev Thorogood is owner of Floresco Fitness and Fatloss Coaching

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Do Our Nutritional Needs Change As We Reach 50 and Beyond?

old people

There are a number of physiological changes that occur as we get older that can affect our ability to guarantee getting the nutrients we need, however there also appear to be quite a few long standing ‘beliefs’ that may or may not be true with regard to an over 50s diet.

Let’s look at the things that do appear to hold true first of all.

As we age we tend to naturally slow down and therefore we generally move less than we did in our 20s.   As a consequence, we generally need fewer calories as we use less energy.

Add to that the fact that muscle loss is a natural part of the aging process and this can have a slowing effect on our metabolism and again, this means we require fewer calories.

But, older people may also need a greater amount of nutrients, despite requiring fewer calories, and therefore it is very important that older adults make sure that their diet is filled with nutrient rich foods that are as unprocessed as possible.  Fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains will help.

We also need to ensure that we are getting sufficient vitamins and minerals as we age, specifically Vitamin D, B-12, calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids.

These nutrients become even more important as we age.   This is because the body’s ability to absorb nutrients can diminish as we get older.

Vitamin B-12 is harder to absorb because it requires the acids in the stomach to help break it down.  As we age the amount of acid in the stomach diminishes therefore we can’t extract as much usable B-12 as we could when we were younger.

In order to retard the loss of bone density that also occurs naturally as we age, we require a sufficient amount of Vitamin D and Calcium.

We can synthesize Vitamin D through the skin from sunlight, however as we age our skin becomes less efficient at converting sunlight into vitamin D.   It is therefore prudent for older adults to increase consumption of things like oily fish, eggs, canned fish such as tuna and mackerel (aim for sustainably sourced fish), dairy products and mushrooms.

In addition to Vitamin D, bone health is also reliant on Calcium.  This is particularly important in order to counter the possibility of developing osteoporosis.

Foods rich in Calcium include seeds, cheese, yoghurt, canned fish, beans, nuts (especially almonds), edamame and tofu and of course milk.

Whilst we would, ideally, be able to get all of our nutrients from our food, in reality as we age it may be wise to supplement Vitamin D3, Calcium, Vitamin B-12 and Omega 3 (found in oily fish an olive oil).

The take away point here is that whilst a varied diet predominantly consisting of whole, natural foods that have been minimally processed is the best choice at any age, it becomes more important as we pass through middle age and beyond.

Some things that you may find beneficial to reduce or remove from your diet, especially if you’re a menopausal or peri-menopausal woman, are caffeine and alcohol.

Both of these substances have been found to exacerbate some of the symptoms of menopause including hot flushes and brain fog.  If you are already sensitive to caffeine then choosing naturally decaffeinated alternatives may be of benefit.

There is some debate about the supposed health benefits of decaff coffee, since there are a number of chemicals used in the decaffeinating process.  My own personal opinion (in light of a lack of any definitive evidence one way or the other) is to avoid it.

If you are sensitive to caffeine then choosing a different drink altogether may be a better alternative since even decaffeinated versions still contain a small amount of caffeine (approx 3%).

It is also suggested that as we get older we are less able to recognise when we are thirsty and therefore making sure we drink plenty of water is essential.   Check out the colour of your urine.  It should be a very pale yellow.  If it is a darker yellow you need to drink more.   However, with the exception of alcohol, all fluids will hydrate so it doesn’t all have to come simply from water.

To summarise then, if you’re an older adult make sure:

You get the majority of your foocolourful vegd from whole, unprocessed sources.

Eat a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish and olive oil.

Try to get out into the sunshine as regularly as you can to catch that Vitamin D from the sun.

Consider taking a supplement of Vitamin D3, Calcium, Vitamin B-12 and Omega 3 Fish Oil.

Avoid caffeinated drinks if you are sensitive to its effects, especially if you’re a woman.

Avoid alcohol if you find it negatively impacts menopause symptoms.

Let’s bust a few myths!

People are often convinced that weight gain is a foregone conclusion as we get older.  Many reasons are cited for this such as hormonal changes, slower metabolism and menopause among others.

Let’s look at hormones and the menopause to begin with.

Due to the relative changes in the amounts of sex hormones in the female body as we age the distribution of body fat also changes.  Women tend to shift a bit of fat from the thighs to the abdomen.  However, eating a healthy diet (as discussed above) and creating a small reduction in the number of calories consumed should counter the hormonal imbalances.

Combining this with increased movement will also help.  A combination of cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking or swimming with some strength training, which will also help to increase muscle mass and improve bone density, should aid weight management and prevent any weight gain.

As far as a slowed metabolism is concerned, research suggests that men aged 50 and over experience only a 5% reduction in metabolic rate over a 10-year period and women about 3%.  Therefore a small reduction in daily calories would be sufficient to offset this metabolic change.

The myth of a slow metabolism is often a handy excuse, when the culprit for increased weight is more likely to be being less active, eating too much, drinking too much alcohol and eating foods that are calorie dense and nutritionally poor.

So, the take away here is that:

Weight gain is not inevitable.

A slowed metabolism is not a valid excuse for middle age spread.

The best way to stay in shape as we age is no different to any other time in our lives: eat naturally, eat variety, move more and stay hydrated.

As a final note, two of the biggest killers of weight loss at any age are lack of sleep and stress, so if you can manage those as well as your nutrition, you’ll be all set for a long and healthy old age.

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Finally Making Friends With Food

food friendlyIt wasn’t until I started to look back at my relationship with food that I realised how dysfunctional it had been in the past.

I’d heard of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and knew I didn’t have either of those.

So it never occurred to me that my relationship with food was problematic.  But, looking back I can pinpoint exactly when I stepped onto the slippery slope of diet dysfunction.

I would have been about 15 years old.  I’d discovered boys and began to question what I had to do or be in order to attract them.  It seems pretty obvious looking back that I must have been very influenced by magazines and TV.

My sexuality was something I was becoming aware of, and beginning to explore, and I remember the boys at school bringing in top shelf stuff like Playboy and other soft porn.  Of course at that age we were all fascinated by the images but what struck me was that all the women in these magazines were skinny and overly made up.  And all the boys were drooling over them!

Probably without even realising it I’d already started the process of comparing myself to others.  When I look back now with the benefit of hindsight, I realise that I didn’t ever want to be like the centrefolds, but I was convinced that since I didn’t look like that, then I was somehow lacking.

This led to years and years of insecurity.  An intense sense of embarrassment about being seen naked – even by my own husband.   A feeling of inadequacy because my belly wasn’t flat and my boobs weren’t perfectly pert!

It also led to years and years of fighting against nature, trying to turn my body into something it wasn’t and could never be.  Never acknowledging the positives such as the fact that I’ve always been strong and reasonably athletic in build.  The fact that I have great shoulders!  The fact that I was fit and healthy and thankfully never had to deal with any major illnesses or disorders.

Instead, I focused on everything I felt I was lacking.  A flat stomach.  A natural tan (can you believe I honestly thought people would judge me because my skin colour is pale!!).  Long, slender legs.  Naturally curly hair.  Almond eyes.  High cheek bones.  Oh my word, the list goes on and on.

I remember going on my first diet at the age of 18.  Did I need to?  I very much doubt it.

I’d started taking the contraceptive pill and probably gained half a stone or so.  At five foot seven I think I’d had to go up to a size 12 jeans.  I genuinely can’t remember what I weighed but I doubt it was much more than about 10 stones.

With the benefit of youth, the weight quickly dropped off me and when I got married at the age of 20 I weighed just under 9 stones.

As often happens after marriage, I settled down into married life and slowly my weight started to creep back up.

It wasn’t long after I married that I realised that I’d made a big mistake.  My ‘loving’ husband became increasingly aggressive and turned out to be an emotional bully.   A combination of physical and emotional abuse, coupled with the struggle of coping with the news that my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, 7 years after battling breast cancer, left me physically and metaphorically battered and bruised.

I found my release in food.  It was the one thing that I had control over and that no one could take off me.

My weight continued to rise.  My then husband kept telling me how hideous I was.  We discussed divorce (at my volition) – he reminded me that no one would be interested in a ‘fat bitch’ like me and I’d be on my own forever.

In a last ditch attempt to save my marriage I crash dieted ready for a holiday to Spain.  This was going to be the turning point where we would fall in love again, he’d stop resolving every disagreement with his hands and we’d live happily ever after!

I came back pregnant.

He told me to terminate the pregnancy.  He didn’t want kids.  I’d finally got myself into ‘decent’ shape, he didn’t want to have to go back to being married to a fat wife.

I refused.

My gorgeous daughter arrived in Jun 1990.  By August 1991 I’d left him.  I walked away from the house we owned and pretty much all our other belongings and moved into a rented house, with my little girl.

I’d love to say this was an easy time but in reality it was bloody hard work.  I was a single mum, with very low self-esteem.  I’d lost my mum in Sep 88 and didn’t feel I had anyone to turn to.  I had a couple of very good friends who gave me amazing practical and emotional support and I am eternally grateful to them, but it was still incredibly tough.

I was 25 years old.  Skint.  My confidence had been hammered.  I was lonely and scared that I was going to be on my own forever.   I was about 13 stone and felt ugly and unwanted.

Probably due to not having lots of money to buy food, ironically my weight started to come down and as it did so I started to attract a bit of attention from the opposite sex.

The correlation between losing weight and getting some attention re-confirmed and reinforced my belief that I could only be attractive if I was thin.

It didn’t once occur to me that what they may have been attracted to was a strong woman, coping remarkably well with a whole load of challenges and feeling empowered having broken the constraints of a domineering and bullying relationship.

About a year later I met my current husband.  He was a total contrast to the first one.  He made me feel beautiful.

He was, and still is, one of the fittest people I’ve ever known.  A competitive runner, his level of all round fitness is inspiring.

Through his influence I started to exercise.  I got into running and circuit training.  I somehow found the confidence to train to be an exercise instructor – gaining my Exercise to Music qualification in 1994.

I got thin.

I got fit.

I looked good.

I didn’t know it.

I still felt fat.

I still felt lacking.

I still hadn’t learned to love me!

I was 9 stone 2 pounds when Mark and I got married.  This was after hitting a high of 14 stones when I was pregnant with my daughter.  If being thin was supposed to be the panacea for happiness I should, at this point, have been ecstatic about being me!

Instead, all I did was shift the focus of who I compared myself to.  Now I was looking at other fitness instructors who were skinnier, more tanned (still had the pale hang up!!) more sporty, faster, fitter……

I compared myself to photos of Mark’s ex-girlfriends.  All slim and pretty and younger than me.  None of them had the ‘baggage’ I had.  I resigned to the fact that before long he’d get bored and go off and find a slimmer, younger, prettier, single girl instead.

In fact nothing much had changed other than the number on the scales.

My diet was poor.  I maintained my weight through exercise – an almost obsessive need for it.  I recall feeling irrationally angry and frustrated if anyone or anything ever interrupted my planned exercise times.

I was teaching diet and fitness classes – based around low fat, high carb diet protocols.  I was obsessed with avoiding fats at all costs.  I somehow didn’t question the fact that I was drinking far too much alcohol, and I would excuse chocolate binges as ‘deserved treats’ because I’d trained hard.

I had my son in Sep 1995.  He was a big baby.  I was a very big pregnant person!

I was 9 and a half stone when I got pregnant and I was 14 and a half stone when I went into labour.

Within 12 weeks of having him I was back down to 10 stone and back to teaching.

I was working for a friend who had a well-known diet and exercise franchise.  I had to go to a training event at the company’s headquarters in Leicestershire.  I stood on the scales, terrified, as one of the big names in the company weighed me.  I was just over 10 stone.  I remember clearly being told I would need to lose at least half a stone in order to portray the right ‘image’ that the company required of me!   This was just 8 weeks after I’d given birth.

Yet more confirmation that only thin people were worthy.

I remained around 10 and a half stone for about the next 8 years. I continued to teach and I continued to exercise although the obsessiveness diminished.

In about 2003 I gave up teaching.  My weight gradually began to creep up.  The more weight I put on the more down I felt and the more I turned to food to feel better.

Over the years I jumped from diet to diet – going through alternating stages of feast or famine!

In my head I was always a big girl.  In reality I was totally average.  I hovered around a size 12 to 14 and somehow managed to carry the gradual weight increase pretty well.

But it definitely held me back from enjoying the things I should have enjoyed doing.

I hated wearing a swimsuit on holiday.  Would avoid playing on the beach in case people looked at me and judged my wobbly tummy or white legs (maybe it’s time to get over the pale issue!).

I think on the outside people saw a confident person, but we hide our insecurities well and instead let them dictate our happiness.

I joined various slimming clubs – mainly the big names that we’re all familiar with.  In all honesty, I believe they simply reinforced all my own insecurities and perpetuated the problem for me.

There was this ridiculous mentality that on weigh-in day calories didn’t count, because you had a whole week to put it right.  So I’d leave the meeting, jump in the car and drive to the fish and chip shop.  I’d buy chips and curry sauce and eat them in the car.  Then I’d throw the wrapper away before I got home so that my husband wouldn’t know I’d had them.  Then I’d eat the dinner he’d prepared for me and never mention the curry and chips.

I’d grab handfuls of food – biscuits, chocolates, crisps, salted peanuts, cheese – it didn’t really matter what it was – and I’d take it into the bathroom to eat so that Mark wouldn’t know I’d had it.

In my head it was almost like, if he didn’t know I’d eaten it, then somehow I hadn’t eaten it.  It hadn’t really happened.

Then I’d feel stupid and guilty and weak because I couldn’t control myself.

I’d even find myself provoking Mark into a row, goading him to admit that he thought I was too fat, picking away at any throw-away comment he may have inadvertently made in the past in order prove to myself that I was worthless as charged!

Have you heard the term confirmation bias?  Finding all the evidence that supports your theory and disregarding anything that doesn’t.  That was me.

The sad thing is this self-loathing plagued almost all of my adult life.

Thankfully, in the last couple of years I’ve somehow managed to turn things around.  It’s been a gradual process and it started with a willingness to want to change.

It started with being absolutely fed up with feeling fed up.

It started with yet another diet plan, but this one triggered a change in my eating patterns, that subsequently triggered a change in my mindset.

I started to read.  I read lots.  I read everything I could find.  I listened to podcasts.  I read articles.  I started to question what I was being told.  I began studying fitness and nutrition again.  I began learning about current science.  I started to surround myself with positive people.

I began to understand.

I began to feel better.

I began to relax around food.

I began to actually enjoy eating food without judging it as inherently good or bad.

I began to look at myself differently.

I began to think mindfully about what I ate and found that I intuitively ate well.

I began a quest to help other people feel more like I do now and less like I did for too many years.

I finally made friends with food.

PS:  I’d still love a tan.

PPS:  Mark and I will have been married 24 years this year so I think my fears were unfounded J

Final Note:

Eating disorders are a physical and mental illness that require diagnosis and treatment.   The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders states that approximately 3% of the total population of the USA suffer from an eating disorder.

However, there is a much newer condition known as Orthorexia, which includes symptoms of obsessive behaviour around food, including anxiety about what we eat.  Specifically an obsession with ‘healthy eating’ or ‘clean eating’.   Whilst it is not currently recognised as a clinical disorder it is becoming more recognised as a real condition.   However, Orthorexia is different to simply making a choice to generally improve the health of our diet.

Most people’s relationship with food will sit somewhere on a spectrum between intuitive eating at one end and obsessive, compulsive eating regimens at the other.  Many of us fall into the middle ground which we can term as disordered eating (as opposed to a clinical eating disorder).

This is where I believe I was for many years.

If you feel guilt around what you eat or judge foods to be inherently good or bad, then you may well fall into the disordered eating category.

Yoyo dieting, extreme dieting protocols such as omitting whole food groups from the diet (unless for medical reasons such as allergies etc), a constant sense of being on or off the latest diet ‘bandwagon’  or anxiety when your usual eating regimen is disturbed, may indicate that disordered eating is present.

It can be reversed.  In my opinion it takes time, but more importantly it takes a willingness to want to change.

If you believe you are suffering from an eating disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia you should seek medical help from a certified dietician or GP.

If you would like help and support with getting disordered eating patterns under control, you can contact me at or by calling 07824 819060.




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Managing Low Back Pain

Lady back

One of the biggest problems encountered by many middle aged people is chronic low back pain.  According to the Health and Safety Executive(1)  in 2016/17 on average each person lost a total of 17.6 working days due to musculoskeletal disorders.

There are a number of causes of back pain; injury and accidents or congenital conditions such as irregular curvature of the spine (scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis for example) but for the majority of sufferers it is a result of long duration, repetitive actions that lead to poor posture.

Sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen, long hours driving a vehicle and repetitive lifting, carrying and twisting can cause muscle imbalances and tension that lead to chronic low back pain.

The good news is that in most cases we can self-medicate through exercise – but we have to be doing the right sort of exercise.

And of course, if the cause of the pain is not apparent then a trip to the docs is needed. The NHS suggests seeking immediate medical advice(2)  if the back pain is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling or deformity in your back
  • It doesn’t improve after resting or is worse at night
  • It started after a serious accident, such as a car accident

Prevention is the Best Medicine

It’s far better to avoid the pain of backache in the first place than to have to deal with the effects once it has set in.  Whilst it is difficult to avoid back pain entirely there are some measures we can take to help reduce our risk.

  • Include regular exercises and stretches specifically for your core and back as part of your general exercise routine.
  • Keep Moving – walking, swimming, pilates, yoga and dancing will all help to keep the back mobile
  • Think about your posture when you’re sitting, lifting or standing for extended periods of time. Utilise any tools and resources made available to you to reduce the risk of damage.
  • Get a decent night’s sleep – change your mattress if necessary.
  • Avoid carrying too much extra weight, especially if you tend to carry your weight around your belly.

 DIY for the Back

 If you’re unfortunate enough to get to the point where back pain has set in there are some simple but effective exercises that you can do daily to ease the pain and strengthen the core muscles.  Consistency is key so carrying out these exercises daily, coupled with the preventative measures listed above, should help to ensure you keep the back pain at bay.

  1. Glute Bridge. Weak gluteals (bum muscles) can contribute to low back pain.  Strengthening and tightening these muscles will help.

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Bring your feet fairly close to the buttocks and about hip distance apart.

Relax your hands by your side and try to keep the neck and shoulders relaxed as you slowly lift the hips by pressing the heels into the floor.  Raise the hips as high as you comfortably can, keeping the shoulders on the floor. 

Hold at the top for 5-10 seconds, then slowly return to the floor.  Repeat 10-15 times, 2-3 times per day.

As your glutes get stronger you can aim to increase the hold at the top of the movement up to 30-60 seconds, reducing the repetitions accordingly.

  1. Supermen target the back extensors which run along the spine and support the spine in the upright position.    Begin gently, and if it causes pain, stop.

Lying on your stomach stretch your arms out in front of you.  Lift alternate hands and feet together, squeezing the bum as you lift. 

 Hold for a few seconds then replace hand and foot to the floor and swap with the opposite side.  Repeat this for 10-15 times each side.  Gradually aim to hold the move at the top of the lift for up to 10 seconds.

As you get stronger aim to lift both hands and feet off the floor at the same time and again, try to gradually increase the length of the hold up to 10 seconds.

  1. The plank is a great all round core exercise that targets all the back muscles including the deep stabilising muscles such as the quadratus lumborum and the rhomboids as well as the transversus abdominis among others.  In fact, the Plank is a fantastic all round stability exercise.

Lie face down on the floor.  Place the elbow directly under the shoulders and lift your hips off the ground so that the body is in a perfectly straight line from the heels, through the hips, shoulders and neck with the head in line with spine. 

Pull the naval up towards the lower back to create tension in the abdominals and hold for as long as possible, building up to about two minutes. 

Try not to let the back dip towards the floor, but also aim to keep the buttocks low (avoid a downward dog type position!).

Repeat a couple of times throughout the day.

  1. Supine Twists. Twists help to release the lower back and open tight shoulders.  It’s also incredibly relaxing!

Lie on your back with the legs straight.  Bring the right leg in so that the foot comes up to meet the buttock and the knee is bent.  Gently pass the bent knee across the body to the left, feeling a stretch in the buttock, use the left hand to add a small amount of pressure to the outer edge of the thigh. 

Keep both shoulders in contact with the floor and turn the head to look over the right shoulder.

Hold this position for anything from 10-60 seconds.

Bring the leg back to the centre and bring the left knee up to join the bent right knee.  Now ‘hug’ both knees into the chest for 5-10 seconds.

Release the legs and repeat the initial stretch with the left leg.  So, the right leg remains straight, the left leg is bent and passes across to the right hand side of the body using the right hand to add a little pressure to the outer thigh.

 Again, keep both shoulders pressed into the floor and turn the head to look over the left shoulder.  Hold for 10-60 seconds and then release and hug the legs in again.

 Repeat each side 2-3 times.

  1. Back Extensions. Back extensions feel amazing if you tend to spend your day leaning slightly forwards, such as slouching over a desk or steering wheel.

Lying on your front place your hands just slightly in front of the shoulders and slowly push up, keeping the hips in contact with the floor.

If it is too uncomfortable to have your hands on the floor, start by coming up just onto the elbows.

Keep the head in line with the spine throughout and breath regularly and easily (without holding the breath!).

 Hold the stretch for between 10-30 seconds.

 Relax and repeat 5-10 times.

male back

Rest is Not Best

When your back aches it’s natural not to want to move around too much.  It’s uncomfortable and instinctively we try to avoid discomfort.  Indeed, up until about 20 years ago or so, bed rest was the recommended course of action for back pain.  However, this is no longer a recommended suggested treatment and can exacerbate the problem.

The American College of Physicians and NICE (National Institute for Health Care Excellence) both advocate the continuance of normal activities where possible.

Take Away

So, the take away point from all this is that it’s best to take measures to prevent back pain from taking hold by being conscious of good posture, especially when undertaking long duration, repetitive tasks and maintaining a healthy weight.

Incorporating strengthening and stretching exercises into our daily routine will minimise the risk of developing back pain.

If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a bout of back pain, don’t be tempted to give in to bed rest – keep active.

And finally, a word of caution – if any of the above exercises cause a sharp pain, stop!


Bev Thorogood is a qualified personal trainer and nutrition coach.

Visit her at

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