Throughout the year you will often find me at my favourite place – the gym. It gives me a chance to reflect as well as making me feel good and keeping me in shape.
As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to exercise and stay fit to fight off the negative health issues related to ageing.
So, you can imagine the horror I felt just before Christmas, sat in pain in my local GP after finding it difficult to walk. There was a problem with my knee which had been ongoing, but I had deemed it unimportant and pushed it to the back of my mind. The GP proved less than helpful and sent me for a blood test.
Despite the pain, I was back at the gym on Boxing Day only to throw in the towel after ten minutes. Limping to go for coffee with my ex, he took one look and called his osteopath Ben Glenister – and within the space of a day I was in his office feeling sorry for myself.
Ben was a breath of fresh air and had me book an MRI right away. He gave me a massage with his magic hands and tried dry needling to relieve some of the pain, but the prognosis was that I would need to have regular treatments and might eventually require surgery.
After a week or so, I managed to do some weights at the gym, but they proved near impossible without pain. With the treadmill being the only way of getting rid of the weight gain from Christmas, not being able to do cardio meant my stomach was getting fatter.
Then, bingo! Despite having recently been given the flu shot, I caught a horrible virus. I had never experienced anything like it in all my years and being a man, I thought I was going to die. It stayed with me for almost two weeks, and comfort eating became my self-medication.
By mid-February my normal fit body was not beach ready, but beach ball ready instead. Finally bringing myself to put down the Panna Raisin, it was time to fight back.
For the most I am very disciplined, and my diet is good, but it was time to get some help. My friend Nicki Rodriguez recommended a personal trainer, and while I know my way around a gym, it was obvious I needed to tailor my workout.
If you get a good personal trainer, they can be a real asset and they don’t have to be ongoing. However, it can help you create the right workout to suit your body while also considering the available time you have. They should have a consultation with you to find out your goals, as well as your current health and strengths.
There are a lot of very good personal trainers out there but there are also some very bad ones, so make sure to do your research.
- They are on their mobile phones constantly.
- They talk more about themselves than the workout (some people hire a trainer for the company).
- They are constantly distracted.
- They seem to think you’re entering the Miss or Mr Universe competition, or taking part in the Iron Man challenge, when all you want to do is tone up.
One snowy Tuesday morning I arrived like a drowned rat at Delta Fitness in the business hub of Canary Wharf. It is a beautiful luxury private gym with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as deluxe changing facilities.
My personal trainer is Laszlo Baritz, an award-winning athlete and co-owner of Delta Fitness. He has 8 years’ experience and is one of the most sought-after personal trainers in the business. According to his resumé he gets good results while also making it fun; the latter sounds good to me!
Now, I know a lot about personal training – my pseudo husband is a former personal trainer and I have a long-term friendship with one of the best in the business, Patrick Toplis.
The fact that Laszio was in a private gym led me there. When you have an injury it knocks your confidence, and I didn’t want to be sharing my woes in a public gym. Perhaps that sounds vain, but I don’t really care.
Laszio did not disappoint. Once I’d dried off, he listened carefully and looked at both my MRI scan and the notes from my physiotherapist. He was quick to ascertain that it was not just my knee that was the issue, but my lower back was putting pressure on it and needed to be strengthened.
Usually, my first port of call after cardio is weights. But Laszio said that, after years of not stretching while trying to build a big upper body, my legs just could not support me. It was time to adjust my workout.
He was right – as much as the muscly arms looked good in a t-shirt, my flexibility and core were poor. Plus, my balance has never been good.
Laszio placed two rubber bands, on the upper part of my knee and above my ankles and taught me how to carry out ‘lateral sidewalks’. But my God, it was not an exercise that came naturally to me – even getting the bands on was a challenge.
I can honestly say that, in my first few attempts, Olive Oil and Shrek’s love child would have had more core and balance than me. Laszio was amazing and managed to keep a straight face, and by remaining patient and calming I began to get the hang of it.
Almost right away I felt the exercise strengthen areas that had clearly been neglected for years, so I was so glad I was in a private gym training with someone who had empathy.
Laszio created a workout consisting of eight exercises, concentrating on my core and stretching and strengthening the weaker parts of my body. It all looked easy on paper but after an hour it was challenging, even feeling as if I had never trained before. This is likely because it was a new style of training which I had never tried before, but could easily incorporate into my usual regime. I won’t go into the entire workout here, but it is listed below for those interested in knowing more.
Laszio really knows his nutrition, and with his young Tom Cruise looks and a body carved by God, he is a shining example to his craft.
He was keen to delve into my diet, and right from the start I pointed out that my huge belly was not the normal me – a mixture of injury and comfort eating had taken its toll, but I was keen to get back on track.
He reiterated that small portions of high protein food and a low-carb diet were especially important for the time being, especially if I wanted to see results quickly. A person’s diet is at least 78 percent of getting in shape.
My only criticism of what has to be a gold star trainer was that, despite me telling him several times that I knew what to eat but again had not been feeling well, he did tend to go on about it. This sometimes made me feel even fatter. However, maybe it did no harm as I made sure I stocked up on healthy options that same day.
It was good that Laszio did admit to having a sweet tooth. Altogether he was charming and informative, plus his tailored workout seemed to subside some of the knee pain. He will be continuing to help me on my journey to a full recovery.
Tea – green tea or ginger and lemon tea. Make your own with fresh lemon and peeled ginger.
Omelette made with the whites of four eggs. Add vegetables of choice. Cook in a small amount of olive oil (no butter) and accompany it with a slice of brown toast.
An hour or so later, have a snack. You might choose from a handful of almonds, macadamia or cashew nuts, pomegranate, coconut shavings or blueberries.
Tuna or chicken breast salad. If the tuna is tinned, make sure it is in spring water rather than oil. For the salad, include spinach, watercress, spring onions, beetroot and celery. Use lemon as a dressing or a tablespoon of Udo’s oil.
The afternoon snack can be the same as the morning. If you have worked out, have a protein drink with added water rather than milk, unless it is almond milk or blueberries blended into almond milk.
Chicken or turkey breast with a small portion of brown rice; add steamed broccoli and ginger or lightly stir-fried vegetables if desired.
It is important not to eat much after seven in the evening, but if you want you can have some cherries before you sleep with a small cup of warm almond milk.
Drink at least a litre of water every day.
Just a quick note. No-one is suggesting you religiously live by this diet – life is about enjoying yourself. But it is a good way of eating if, like me, holidays beckon or you just want to lose a few pounds and tone up.
Of course, putting on the pounds after I stopped feeling so ill was depressing, even when I was back at the gym and dieting.
Please know that there is nothing wrong with being a bigger man or woman as long as you’re happy. I have dated bigger guys so I am most definitely not a body fascist. However, being a man who likes to wear clothes such as tailored suits, it’s just not something I am comfortable with in my own body.
Anyway, I really wanted to get back into shape quickly, but emergency lipo-suction was not on the cards. The next best thing? Dr Ioannis Liakas at Vie Aesthetics.
Vie offer a great range of slimming and toning treatments in their state-of-the-art clinic in Rayleigh, a mere forty-five minute drive from London’s Liverpool Street.
Before I go into detail about the treatments themselves, it is so important that you have realistic expectations of slimming treatments. If you’re not prepared to also combine a reasonable amount of exercise and heathy eating please don’t waste your money.
Dr Ioannis will be honest and suggest which treatment might be suitable for you. He may even suggest in some cases that you have your blood checked, just to make sure that any unexplained weight gain or weight that won’t move is not merely due to hormones, allergies or a range of other factors.
For most people, weight gain is merely a result of overeating, and if you intend to stay healthy he can help you fast-track to getting that beach body.
Dr Ioanis suggested that I undergo fat freeze, and that once this had taken full effect a course of Endopeel might help bring a six pack out. This was, of course, only if I kept on track with my diet.
This procedure is based on the fact that subcutaneous fat cells are more vulnerable to the effects of cold than the surrounding tissue. When fat cells are exposed to a cooling below body temperature, they undergo crystallisation and localised cell death (apoptosis) before giving a local inflammatory response. This process of elimination will take a few months but will gradually reduce the thickness of the fat layer. The fat cells in the treated area are in turn gently eliminated via the body’s normal metabolic process.
His expert team led by Aimee Piper, an aesthetician and advanced skin care specialist, performed the fat freeze on me. It sounds as if it’s going to be uncomfortable, but despite being a little cold at the start, it was actually a breeze (pardon the pun)! Aimee checked on me constantly.
What I really liked was the fact that there was doctor on the premises and Aimee and the team are all fully first-aid trained.
It felt great and the results will begin to show over the next few months.
Within two weeks I felt so much better and my jeans were fitting again. I am yet to have the Endopeel (peanut oil), which lifts and defines, but I will update this blog in four weeks’ time when I know more!
SPINE & SPORTS INJURIES CLINIC
1 Wallside, Wood St. Barbican, London
Tel: 020 7374 2272