Fitness, Life

Summer Dieting – 8 Essential Tips

Summer is upon us once more, as people attempt to gain the body of their dreams, or at least give it their best shot. Between the months of June and September, holiday bookings reach their peak level, particularly throughout the school holidays, and this generally sees prices soar far beyond off season prices. Despite this, many people choose to jet off to destinations around the world, and in an attempt to prepare for their holiday, many people choose to go on a diet to lose some weight to fit into their summer wardrobe. The following blog post shares some tips that will be useful for those wishing to learn more about what it takes to become confident in hitting their fitness goals, and achieving the body they desire.

  1. Abs are Made in the Kitchen

A rather cliché term, but one that actually makes a lot of sense. As much as some people will try to tell you otherwise, dieting is the most important aspect when it comes to achieving your goals. Regular exercise including cardio and strength training will certainly help in the process, but it is generally common knowledge that you cannot out train a poor diet. One of the biggest mistakes people make regularly is that they believe once they have completed their workout, it now justifies them being able to visit a fast food restaurant, or indulge in some of their favourite treats. This essentially defeats the object of working out in the first place, so bear that in mind. A balanced diet coupled with regular exercise is what is needed in order to effectively meet your goals.

  1. Don’t see it as a diet, More a ‘Lifestyle Change’

The word diet itself has somewhat negative connotations, but for the purposes of this blog post I will use the term to explain essential tips in order to reach your goals. Some refer to dieting instead as a ‘lifestyle change’, and this turns it into something much more positive. Diets often leave many feeling unhappy and lacking in energy, and so called ‘crash diets’ are not sustainable in the long run, as although it is possible to lose a considerable amount of weight in a short period, many people get fed up and end up falling of track quite quickly and easily. Weight loss is something that takes time and commitment to happen, and if you make the right choices you will remain happy as well as hit your goals. Certain diets make some foods off limits, and sometimes temptation will strike. You do not necessarily have to go cold turkey on what are generally known as ‘bad foods’ in your quest to tone up and lose fat, what is important is knowing when to say no, and as difficult as it may be, paying attention to portion sizes. This is where people often go wrong, as they end up eating far more than they realise which then leads to falling off track in some cases gaining weight. One tip which will be very useful is to experiment, try new foods that you might not have necessarily considered in the past, you may end up discovering your new favourite fruit or vegetable! Adding in additional vegetables into your diet can be a sure-fire way to bulk up your meals and leave you feeling satisfied, and less tempted to reach into the treats drawer. If you really have a sweet tooth, a good option would be to incorporate more fruit in your diet, although you might want to keep an eye on your sugar intake, despite the sugars found in fruit being natural. Another tip would be to find healthy foods that you enjoy eating, and so you can keep your calories down and it feels less like a diet knowing you can eat something that is good for you but also something you can look forward to eating.

  1. Track Calories

One of the easiest and quickest ways to fall off track when dieting is not tracking calories. This can potentially be a big mistake as simply by guessing you could easily go over your calorie count for the day, so controlling of portion sizes, keeping a record of any food/drink you consume and weighing your food is definitely the way forward. Invest in a set of scales so you know exactly how much you are eating, and this makes it far easier when tracking calories. You could use a notepad and write down your food for the day, or you could use an app such as the popular MyFitnessPal, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. At first it can seem quite tedious however once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t so bad, particularly if you eat the same foods frequently, and it is easy to add new ones by simply scanning the barcode.

  1. Remain in a calorie deficit

If it is your goal to lose weight/fat it is important to factor in that in order to do so, you need to burn more calories than you consume, whether this be exercising more, or eating less. This is another reason why it is important to track your calories, so you know you haven’t gone over your calorie count for the day. Use an online calculator to work out what your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is, this is essentially the number of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight. If you wish to lose weight you need to eat less than this per day, and more than this to gain weight. However, what you also need to factor in is how active you are, and take this into account when working out the total amount of calories you need to hit your goal. This is called the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) formula. I recommend using as here you can work out both your BMR and TDEE in one simple calculation. When in a deficit, try not to start with too large a deficit at first, start off with 100-200 calories, and once you hit a plateau cut down your calories further by 50-100. Do not cut your calories too much otherwise you will sacrifice your muscle mass, and did it difficult to build or maintain muscle. To enable you to keep as much muscle mass as possible, keep your protein intake high, typically 0.8-1.0g of protein per pound of body weight.

  1. Don’t drink your calories, Keep water intake high. 

It is no secret that keeping your water intake high is really good for the body. Especially when the sun is shining, where it is even more important to stay hydrated. When consuming water, particularly before a meal this can help you feel full, and you are less likely to overindulge when eating meals, so are far more likely to reach your goal and stay on track. Another way to suppress your appetite can be to use caffeine. As well as giving you a boost when it’s needed, caffeine can be consumed to suppress the feeling of hunger, so instead of reaching for a snack, try a cup of coffee or perhaps a tea depending on your preference, as this can often lead to the feeling of hunger going away. Additionally, it is important to consider the number of calories that are in drinks such as alcohol, fizzy drinks and fruit juices. If you do not track them you can easily go over your calorie count. If you really wish to satisfy your sweet tooth then stick to diet options, and when drinking try to stick to diet mixers with spirits such as Vodka and gin as they contain far less calories and carbs than beer and cider for example.

  1. Cardio

One thing that often gets forgotten about is cardio. If your goal is fat loss then cardio is effective in allowing you to reach your goals and burn additional calories. It is not necessary to spend hour after hour on the treadmill running at a steady state. For some this may be a preferred option and there is no harm in doing it, but particularly for those who are short on time then HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great option. Short bursts of intense cardio at full effort followed by a short period of rest/low intensity over a period of about 10-20 minutes and you can get just as much benefit from doing this, and studies have proven the benefit of HIIT, which produces an ‘afterburn’ effect, meaning that the body will continue burning calories for up to 24 hours after completing a HIIT session. You can do this anywhere and don’t need to use of a gym in order to take part in any cardio activities. You could go for a run in your local park instead, for a bike ride, or even from the comfort of your own home doing exercises that involve no equipment. Again, several YouTube videos can be found online to mix up your workout routine and it really doesn’t take long, so throw your excuses out the window and get active!

  1. Meal Prep

Head on down to your local store, purchase some reusable food containers and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals. Ensure that the containers you purchase are suitable for use in the microwave, as well as freezing, depending on how far in advance you intend to prepare your meals. Meal prep is essentially preparing your meals for a certain number of days in advance. This works well because although you have to spent a certain amount of time by bulk cooking foods, this is most certainly save time in the long run, and you will be less tempted to choose fast food for convenience or perhaps you had a long, stressful day at work and don’t feel like cooking. You can choose to place your meals in the fridge and they typically should be fine for 3-4 days. If your planning more in advance then you can freeze your meals and just defrost them overnight. Either way, you know that a healthy, well balanced meal will be ready for you having done meal prep, and once you get used to it it won’t seem so much like a chore.

  1. You don’t need to live in the gym

For some, the idea of joining a gym can be a daunting prospect for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is all new to you, and you’re terrified of embarrassing yourself as you may not have a clue what you are doing in terms of using equipment. What you have to realise is no matter how intimidating it may seem, no one is there to judge you, and even the largest, most muscular people in the gym had to start somewhere, and maybe one day in the past felt the same way you do. Don’t be afraid to try out new exercises, and stick to a weight you are comfortable with, or at least a lighter one until your form is perfected. This is when you can move onto heavier weights. Building muscle and fat loss isn’t something that happens overnight, and it will take hard work and dedication, but when it comes to sticking to a workout plan it is definitely quality over quantity, and consistency is key.

If the gym isn’t for you, or perhaps you don’t have time to go to the gym due to work commitments or having kids to look after, there are several videos available on online sources such as YouTube, and here you will find millions of videos to watch for workouts you can perform easily at home. Often no equipment is required, and many workouts can be performed in 30 minutes or less, so if you really are stripped for time this is a great option. With dedication and consistency, you can achieve great results from the comfort of your own home.

  1. Have a plan, and stick to it.

The key to sticking to a habit is effective planning. This goes for both your workout regime as well as planning and tracking what you eat. Before you go for a workout whether this be at home or in the gym don’t wander round aimlessly thinking of what machine to go on next, that goes for both cardio and strength training. Figure out a plan that suits your lifestyle and stick to it, at first it can be hard particularly if you’re new to exercising but stick with it and you will eventually get used to it, then you can build upon this by upping the time spent working out, or lift heavier weights. When it comes to dieting, ensure you track your calories having worked out your BMR and TDEE, prepare your meals and weigh out your food. One of the most important aspects however is remaining consistent, no one said it will be easy but hard work and dedication really does pay off. You will feel more confident, healthier and you will be proud of yourself for sticking to your goals, overcoming any obstacles in your way.


Man Utd Season Review 16/17 – Successful First Season for Mourinho? 

Despite ending the season with an FA Cup win, Manchester United took the decision to sack manager Louis Van Gaal after league performances faltered, meaning United missed out on a Champions League spot for the second season in a row, instead having to contend with a spot in the second tier European competition the UEFA Europa League. The Dutchman spent two seasons at the helm having been chosen as the club’s second manager since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson after 26 glorious years, off the back of an abysmal campaign under the reign of former Everton manager David Moyes, who failed to hold the position a full season after a poor run of results. The Old Trafford club finished the season under the leadership of club legend Ryan Giggs, who then took the decision to retire after spending his entire senior career with the Red Devils. The former Welsh International then became part of David Moyes’ coaching staff as a player coach, and later chosen to be Van Gaal’s assistant for his two seasons in the hotseat. Upon the sacking of the former Netherlands boss, Giggs decided to step down as assistant despite being offered the chance to remain in the post as former Chelsea boss Mourinho was appointed manager ahead of the 16/17 Premier League season. 

The Portuguese boss, who’s former clubs also include Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Porto, was said to be after the United job for some time. Many thought he would be the man to succeed Sir Alex upon his retirement in 2013, but upon leaving Real Madrid eventually ended back at his former employers Chelsea. After seeing the Stamford Bridge club finish in 12th place after an appauling run of results, notorious Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has become famous for appointing and sacking a considerable amount of managers since his purchase of the club in 2003, became frustrated at his team’s performance, and took the decision to sack Mourinho. When appointed manager of United, José got straight to work to build the team to his liking, signing four players in his first transfer window at the helm, including Villareal defender Eric Bailly, Dortmund winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and finally the capture of former youth team player Paul Pogba from Juventus, having to break the world record fee in the process. 

Each of the players that were signed by Mourinho slotted into his setup remarkably well, with the exception of Mkhitaryan who unfortunately suffered setbacks in the form of injury throughout the course of the season, however when called upon after being publicly motivated by Mourinho, performing exceptionally well in United’s Europa League campaign scoring 11 goals in his debut season. Arguably Mourinho’s best signing was that of Swedish giant Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was signed on a free transfer from French club Paris Saint German. People were quick to judge the the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker who was approaching his 35th birthday, and argued he would not be able to cope with such a physically demanding league which is widely regarded as the best in the world. The Swede proved his doubters wrong, scoring an incredible 28 goals in all competitions despite cruelly ending his season early with a long term injury, eventually leading to his release from the club. Upon the season ending, Mourinho must now make it an absolute priority to replace the Swedish international, as United have been linked with several big names, such as Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata, as well as former player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly also had a fantastic first season, receiving plaudits from around the world, becoming accustomed to the Premier League with ease, and for the majority of the season formed a formidable partnership with Argentinian international Marcos Rojo in the centre of defence. The towering center back once plied his trade in La Liga with Villareal, and was a loss to the team when suffering from injury towards the latter stages of the season, as well as being called up to his national squad for the African Cup of Nations at the start of the year. 

Mourinho’s final signing of last summer was French international Paul Pogba, who left United for Juventus having failing to agree to a contract with The Old Trafford club under the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. He was signed from French club Le Havre and formed part of the United youth squad. However having seen his first team chances limited departed for Serie A, and went on to become a huge part of the Juventus setup, scoring spectacular goals which most certainly caught the eye of José Mourinho, who then re-signed the player for a world record fee of around £90m. Many questioned the monumental fee that the Frenchman commanded, and a huge amount of pressure was placed on his shoulders, as he had a lot to live up to to justify the huge price tag United had spent on him. Despite not scoring perhaps as many goals over the course of the season as many expected, the 24 year old formed a huge part of Mourinho’s squad, featuring regularly and stats proved his worth overall despite him scoring 5 goals in 30 appearances. 

United finished the season in sixth place, having endured a frustrating amount of home draws, performing better on the road. The final league position was lower than what was achieved by Louis Van Gaal the previous season, and many ridiculed Mourinho for placing more emphasis on the club’s Europa League campaign to gain entry to the Champions League next season, as opposed to a top four finish. However, after beating Ajax in Sweden to earn United their first ever Europa League trophy last month, the Portuguese boss achieved his goal of getting United into the top European competition next season. Coupled with a League Cup Final win against Southampton, United finished the season with a double, which is more than can be said for the first seasons of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, and so overall Mourinho’s first season in charge can most certainly be classed as a success, despite an under-par performance in the league. 

It goes without saying that United have room for improvement, and Mourinho’s plans for next season are fully underway, with several arrivals and departures expected at Old Trafford. The Red Devils have already began their summer transfer business having sealed the transfer of Swedish international Victor Lindelof in a £30m deal from Portuguese club Benfica, and have been linked with several other players. The question remains however on the future of club captain Wayne Rooney, who has received a heavy amount of criticism for recent performances, and was resigned to the bench for a considerable amount of last season. Will he still be at Old Trafford come next season? That remains to be seen. 


Cristiano Ronaldo – The Story that Will Not Go Away

Cristiano Ronaldo’s love affair with Manchester United never seems to fade away. The Real Madrid star regularly speaks of his admiration for his former club, and his close relationship with his now retired former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who signed the player from Sporting CP for a mere £12m back in 2003. Ever since his debut for Manchester United against Bolton Wanderers in his first season at the club he quickly became a fan favourite, with his spectacular skills on the ball, which most certainly did the club’s iconic number 7 shirt justice, donned previously by United legends Eric Cantona, David Beckham and George Best. Ronaldo quickly became regarded as one of the best players in world football, which by today’s standards makes the fee United paid for him look minuscule. 

The player went on to win several titles with the Red Devils, and after winning the Champions League with United in 2008, Ronaldo played one more season with the side that arguably made him famous, and was widely tipped to join the team he dreamed of playing for when he was a boy, that being Real Madrid. Breaking United fans’ hearts, he left the club for a then World record transfer fee of £80m, a figure which has since been exceeded with Madrid paying in excess of this for Gareth Bale, whose fee was reported to be around £85m, as well as United’s signing of their former youth team player Paul Pogba from Juventus, who commanded a fee of £90m.

Upon transferring to Real Madrid, Ronaldo continued his remarkably successful career, going head to head with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and continued to receive plaudits from around the world, and has won 4 Ballon D’or awards in his career, the most prestigious award that can be won by a player in terms of their personal success. 

Despite achieving his ultimate goal of playing for his boyhood club, Ronaldo has many times over the years been consistently linked with a return to his former team, only for the player to sign a renewed contract at Madrid. Eight years on from his dream move from Manchester United to Real Madrid however, Ronaldo continues to be linked, and despite Real Madrid recently becoming the first team to retain the Champion’s League Trophy, the Portuguese International has reportedly stated his intention to leave the Spanish club after becoming upset and angry after allegations of tax fraud from the Spanish authorities, and has even mentioned seriously considering a return to Manchester United. Sending Red Devils fans into sheer excitement, Ronaldo would most certainly be welcomed back with open arms, but despite coming towards the latter stages of his career at the age of 32, he will without a doubt command a phenomenonal transfer fee, and Manchester United will clearly need to break the bank to see a return for their former star.


Will He Stay or Will He Go? The David de Gea saga. 

The summer has arrived, and once again the English Premier League season draws to a close. That can only mean one thing, time for departures and arrivals from across the footballing world as the transfer window opens, giving teams the chance to offload unwanted players, and acquire new ones to bolster their squads for the start of the new season in August. Despite not officially opening until the 1st July, many teams have already begun their transfer negotiations, including Everton with their £30m capture of England international goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland. A remarkably high figure for a player of such a young age, albeit with bags of potential.

With transfer records being broken season after season, the transfer rumour mill is now in full force, and it is common for clubs like Manchester United to be constantly linked with just about every player under the sun, only for the vast majority of rumours to be nothing more than just plain old gossip (cue if it’s not on Sky Sports, it isn’t true). Conversely, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has been consistently linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid, who have been chasing his signature for the past two seasons after a series of scintillating performances over the years, and it would not be surprising to see him as Spain’s first-choice goalkeeper for many years to come, following in the footsteps of legendary Real Madrid and Spain keeper Casillas. Arguably United’s lifeline in several games under the management of ill-fated managers David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, and more recently under current manager José Mourinho it comes as no surprise to see De Gea linked with the European champions once more.

Real Madrid, who have recently become the first club to retain the Champions League trophy since its inception in 1992, along with domestic success in finishing first in La Liga under legendary midfielder turned manager Zinedine Zidane, remain highly interested in making De Gea their new number one, and club President Florentino Perez remains determined in his quest to make De Gea his latest ‘Galactico’ signing, replacing Costa Rican international Keylor Navas, whom Perez doesn’t see as the club’s long-term solution between the sticks. A £60m bid was submitted just weeks ago, a fee that dwarfs the amount paid by Everton for Jordan Pickford, but this was swiftly rejected by Manchester United who will certainly play hardball when it comes to selling one of their star players, who is seen by many as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, having progressed leaps and bounds since his move to Manchester United from Athletico Madrid in 2011. Two summers ago, De Gea came within minutes of joining the club on transfer deadline day only for the swap deal involving Navas to fall through due to a ‘faulty fax machine’. This led to his exclusion from the first team starting line-up by then United manager Louis Van Gaal for the beginning of the term as his head was not in the right place, but was then reintroduced into the team after the first few games of the season, replacing summer signing Sergio Romero, and his magnificent performances returned.

With the transfer window yet to open, let alone close, it remains to be seen whether De Gea will still call Old Trafford home by the start of the season. However, with a question mark over the future of former United star Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently stated his intention to leave Real Madrid this summer (a return to United on the cards perhaps?), coupled with United’s pursuit of a successor to the recently released Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Madrid forward Alvaro Morata, could De Gea be used as a bargaining chip for both parties to come to some kind of player plus cash agreement? Either way, if De Gea were to leave in some capacity he will certainly not come on the cheap, Real Madrid will most certainly have to pay a premium if they wish to get their man.