Ok there is Halloween but by all accounts there is also 'National Pizza Month'! I'm not sure exactly which nation we're talking about because its news to me - I'd take a wild guess at the US of A though. A whole month? The poor old pancake only gets a day and with so little build up, I think most people miss that.

Anyway love it or hate it, October is the month dedicated to Pizza - the notorious calorie loaded, high fat, high salt junk food - nice though isn't it and it would be a pity not to celebrate at least once during national pizza month. Right then, looks like you're going to be needing to refer to The Daily Calorie Pizza Eating Guide:

1.Take out pizza 
If you're ordering take out pizza make it a thin crust and avoid fatty meats (pepperoni, sausage, bacon), stuffed crusts, extra cheese and cheese loaded styles like quatro fromage.  Avoid anything that contains the words 'Supreme', 'Feast', 'Ultimate', 'Loaded' or 'Lovers' in the name (Unless the word 'veggie is also in there). And even then we're still talking 200 calories (roughly) per slice.

2. Eating Out
Got to be Pizza Express - Thank god for Leggera - lighter pizzas with the dough taken out of the middle and filled with a salad. Only 500 calories for the whole thing.  Also they now do mini desserts at Pizza Express - the Dolcetti which is just the right amount to satisfy a sweet tooth! 

3. Buy in from the supermarket and share
Best supermarket ready pizza's are:

Pizza Express La Reine Italian Ham & Mushroom £3.99
Per pizza: 614kcal, protein 26.6g, carbohydrate 83g (of which sugars 6.2g), fat 19.6g (of which saturates 7.6g), fibre 7.4g, salt 1.8g
(I'm not working for Pizza Express - honestly!)

Tesco Finest Italian Style Sausage Pizza with Char-grilled Artichoke £3.49,
Per pizza: 610kcal; protein 32g; carbohydrates 82.5g (of which sugars 10.1g); fat 16.8g (of which saturates 6.9g); fibre 9.3g; salt 2.8g.

WeightWatchers Thin & Crispy Garlic Mushroom Pizza £2.28 (Asda), 220g
Per pizza: 410kcal; protein 26.9g; carbohydrates 69.1g (of which sugars 7.2g); fat 3.1g (of which saturates 0.7g); fibre 7.2g; salt 2.3g.

4. Make your own.
Come on get with it - Gwyneth has her own pizza oven and even Madge has been caught indulging. Over to Goop then to find out how to make i as she must be somewhat of an expert by now (and I've never actually tried myself) http://www.goop.com/newsletter/132/en/
Obviously Gwyneth's Pizza's are free of calories...that goes without saying. Love you G! 

I have tried these though and they're ridiculously easy and surprisingly nice:

The Daily Calorie Pizza Guidelines
  • Have a side salad with your pizza so you're filling up on greens and getting some nutrients
  • Blot the oil off your pizza - who cares if you look like a freak, you've probably just saved 100 calories!
  • Wherever possible opt for a whole-wheat or whole-grain crust (especially thin-style),
  • Go for you life with: fresh veggies, red pepper flakes, sliced olives, garlic powder, extra tomato sauce, jalapeño slices, and hot sauce. (all that heat and spice can help you feeler fuller faster and add lots of flavour without the fat)
Well at least pizza month is almost over (strategically timed blog post on my part) and you can start looking forward to pancake day...just checked it - 21st February 2012! Sorry folks its ages away!

I bet she's an oil blotter!
I bet you've got your heating on - it's bloody freezing...heating on means its time to bring back the soup! Comfort food is the only good thing about the weather cooling off (actually there are new coats, boots and ski holidays too) but I know I'd be miserable in the colder months of Autumn/Winter if it wasn't for one particular comfort food...soup. I swear I get more rock&roll everyday. I'll be a total bad ass soon

But soup can be both friend and foe to the gals and guys who likes to stay trim and healthy. Soups should be satisfying, warming and nourishing but they can vary a lot in terms of how healthy they are. Here are things to look out for when buying soup:

1. Salt content.
The main problem when it comes to shop bought soup. Some of the worst offenders are actually from what you might consider health conscious chains like Pret. The Pret Very Big Soup, Bold Thai Green Chicken Curry contains more than 8g of salt- that's more salt than 20 bags of ready salted crisps and 2g more than the recommended daily amount!  Aim for no more than 1.5g of salt per serving.

2. Calories (of course!)
This is where you can really earn some low calorie points. Even the most substantial soups are relatively low in calories. The New Covent Garden Big and Bold, Beef and chunky Vegetable soup is still only 138 calories per half carton and it claims to fill even the heartiest of appetites.  New Covent Garden also do a 99 calorie range - which is practically nothing!  You'd inhale that just walking into your local chippy! 

3. Fat
Avoid the cheesy and creamy based soups to keep the fat content low. The clear broth style or tomato based soups are rarely high in fat so usually the better choice.

4. Sugar
If you're going to buy soup rather than make your own then always go for the fresh stuff to avoid the sugars and preservatives that are contained in the tinned varieties. One tin can often contain 12g of sugar - that's twice the amount of a glazed doughnut!  

5. Superfoods
Look out for soups that are packed with veggies, lentils, beans, lean meats and metabolism boosting spices to get as much nutrition as possible from your calories. I sometimes buy The New Covent Garden Winter (or even summer, depending on whats available at the time) vegetable soup and add a cooked piece of haddock or cod to make a really quick and substantial protein rich soup. 

Some of my favourite shop bought soups include:
1. The Yorkshire Provender Beetroot, parsnip, ginger and horseradish - and its not because I'm Yorkshire, it's because its pink!
2. Tesco Finest Puy lentil & Vine Ripened tomato soup
3. Glorious Skinny Soups, Goan Spiced Tomato & lentil
4. New Covent Garden Soup Company, Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

But..the best soups are always the ones you make yourself.  Incredibly fresh and therefore still vitamin rich (soup veggies lose nutritional quality by the hour and the 'fresh' soup in the supermarket wasn't put in its little plastic container an hour ago...or probably even a week ago!). You know exactly whats gone in to your own soup so no hidden nasties when it comes to salt, fat, sugar and extra calories.

Not only that but nothing is easier and quicker than making soup and you can use up all those veggies in the bottom of your fridge.

This is one that I made tonight:

Pumpkin Curry Soup
Serves 4
Per Serving:
100 Kcal
Preparation time:
20 Minutes
Cooking time:
30-35 Minutes

1 small Pumpkin
1 tsp olive oil
115g (4oz) fresh young carrots, washed and sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, chopped
1-2 teaspoons medium curry power (e.g. tandoori mix)
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the pumpkin in half lengthways.  Remove the seeds with a spoon and discard.  Using a sharp vegetable knife, peel away the thick skin and cut the flesh into chunks.

Place the squash, other vegetables and garlic in a large non-stick saucepan and fry in 1 tsp of olive oil for 4-5 minutes until they soften and start to colour. If the veggies seem to be sticking, add a little water.

Add the curry powder and cook out for 1 minute, keeping the mixture moving to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pan.  Gradually add the vegetable stock and the bay leaves, stirring continuously, and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Allow the soup to cool slightly, then place in a food processor or liquidiser and liquidise until smooth.  Return the soup to the pan and adjust the consistency with a little extra stock. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve.

I made the soup and then after tasting for seasoning, decided it was missing something. So I added the juice of half an orange in a moment of madness and it worked!  It was very nice even if I do say so myself...and there is enough left over for tomorrow's lunch.

My ingredients
My pumpkin soup - finished off with a whirl of natural yoghurt (not cream!) just so it looks fancy!
Whats your favourite soup?
Accountability is an important driving factor, and another big reason why personal training is so successful but there are other people who you can be accountable to. Get a friend or family member on board to support you with your fitness goals and make yourself accountable to them by sharing with them your goals and asking them to check up on you every week. You could even go as far as to email them your weekly progress tracking sheets which might be something as simple as this:

Support from your family and friends is the best bet but if you don’t want to get your loved ones involved then there are some great forums out there that can provide the accountability you need.  Spark People is the one that I work for, it has millions of members so its really easy to find a groups/individuals that you can connect with.


I always ask my clients to approach their fitness objectives as they would their work objectives. You’ve got to have a plan. You know by now where you’re heading, now you just need to figure out how to get there. Prepare yourself a periodised exercise plan based upon the goals you’ve set and stick to it. In this plan include long, medium and short-term goals and take it step by step. The first short-term goal might be to try out new exercise techniques to find out what you enjoy the most.

The more detailed the plan, the better. For example, if your goal is to lose 20lbs then break that down into months, weeks and days. Work out how long you have to lose the weight, how many times a week you are going to train and how many calories you’ll need to expend in each exercise session to create the right calorie deficit. The method for calculating this can be found here. Same applies if you’re planning to run a marathon or swim the channel – you need to periodise your training and stick with a plan, scheduling exercise into your diary as you would business meetings otherwise its too easy to skip it.  Set monthly markers so that track your fitness levels gradually, this will spur you on to keep going and ensure that you’re on the right track. Refer back to your plan often to remind yourself of your original goals in order to stay on track.

Embarking on a training plan is never just about the exercise. Other factors that you need to take into consideration are:
- Alcohol Intake.
- Nutrition.
- Sleep Patterns.
- Smoking.
- Stress.
- Water Intake

We all have our vices and people are often scared off at the prospect of having to make big changes to their daily routine and lifestyle habits. That is why it’s better to start off making small changes and writing these into your objectives.  For the first week or two, I always find it more effective to add healthy elements into my client’s lifestyles rather than start taking things away.  For example, week 1 lifestyle objectives may look like this:
- Drink 1.5-2 litres of water.
- Eat 6 portions of non-starchy vegetables.
- Be in bed by 11pm.

It’s already enough that you are taking the necessary steps to get fitter. Trying to change too much too soon usually results with a crash and burn. It’s too difficult to try a complete overhaul right from the beginning. Soon the seemingly small week 1 objectives will turn into habits, you’ll start to feel the benefits of these small and manageable changes and then want to do more.  Add in new lifestyle objectives slowly, building these in to your daily routines one by one without really noticing big changes and always add healthy changes before attempting to take out the unhealthy ones.

What Motivates You?

It’s important to work out your personal motivational trigger. Whether it’s the thought of you on the beach with friends, a fitness challenge or attending a school re-union, find it and think about it. This will provide the motivation for you to kick-start a program of exercise and healthy eating. In my experience it’s the initial push that is important.  After that, finding your motivation becomes easier as you track the progress you’re making, start to fulfill your short term goals and see results in terms of fitness levels, weight and body shape. Once you get the ball rolling, those three things provide all the extra motivation and confidence you need to carry on.

There is lots to say on motivation - and I think Tony Robbins say's it better than I do...he should, he gets paid the big bucks...and he's got a lovely voice! I know all this motivational stuff is embarrassing to us Brits but just have a listen, its helpful and no one needs to know! shhh ;-)

Tomorrow: Part 4 of Fitness for free - Lifestyle Appraisal
Do you work out better in a social environment or alone?

Are you quiet and reflective or intense and competitive?

Are you motivated by music or do you prefer a Zen like focus?

Asking the right questions will allow you to find a type of training that you will enjoy and therefore stick with and get results from. Be aware that you are identifying your fitness style and not just your personality type or current attitude towards exercise.  Don’t identify yourself as laid back and relaxed and create a fitness regime around that. The type of training you do is dependent on your goals but if you fit into what the majority of people want from their exercise – to become fitter and leaner – then intensity is key.

Your work-out should always challenge you but also be suited to what you find most enjoyable.  This way you’re more likely to push yourself to work harder and stick it out. If you have tried and been unsuccessful at an exercise regime before, don’t let that experience cloud your perspective of what you would otherwise find enjoyable. There are lots of different training methods to try and it’s important that you find one which works for you.  Exercise should lift your mood, confidence and overall energy levels, not produce a negative effect, which is what some exercise psychologists have found to be true of exercise that you don’t enjoy.

Tomorrow Fitness for Free part 3: What motivates you?

The health and fitness industry is big business. Gym memberships, exercise classes, personal training, home fitness equipment, online subscriptions, DVD’s, not to mention the vast array of sports wear and training gadgets to record every beat, step and calorie. Everywhere you turn there are potential opportunities to spend money on getting fit. Some of it is worth it, some of it isn’t.

The attention delivered by a professional trainer gets you results, which is why it’s costly but if you're determined to put in the time and effort, creating and maintaining a fit and healthy body is free for the taking, not a special club that you have to buy into. What you do need is the right knowledge, lots of motivation and some accountability.

I’d like to teach you how to become your own personal trainer by taking you through some of the stages that my clients go through in order to get results.

Stage 1 - Your Consultation

1) You’ve decided that you want to do some exercise. Why? Write down your reasons.

2) Find out your starting point. Firstly, take your weight and then take your own measurements. Best way to do this is to wear as little clothing as possible and make sure you’re not sucking in! Breath out, relax and pull the tape snug but not tight and measure the circumference around:
- Chest (measure at nipple line).
- Largest point around waist (usually the muffin top area below navel).
- Narrowest point around waist (above navel).
- Hips (Stand with feet together).
- Thighs and upper arms (widest point).

3) Time for some fitness testing. Do the following tests after 5 minutes of warming up so your body is prepared for exercise, you’re taking in more oxygen and feeling alert:
- Cover a distance of 1.5 miles as fast as you can (doesn’t matter if you walk, jog, run or sprint, work hard at your level). Record your time and perceived level of exertion out of 10.
- Count the number of sit-ups you can do in 1 minute to test abdominal strength. Click here to see sit up guidelines on how to do the correct sit up.
- Count how many push-ups you can do in 1 minute. Make sure you’re lowering your chest all the way down and your body remains in a rigid plank throughout.
- Hold a wall sit position for as long as you can to test your lower body strength and record the time. (Have your back against a wall with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, straight out in front of you and feet directly under the knees).

Fitness testing is a great motivational boost when you go back after a few week to re-test. I always prefer my clients to compare themselves on their own previous results but if you’re competitive by nature and want to know how you fare compared to the average Joe then click here when you have your results to compare your scores.

4) Now translate all of this information (fitness test results, body composition measurements and your reasons for exercise) into some objective goals and make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).  It’s essential that you write these goals down and remind yourself of them often. I know my clients goals and I refer to them all the time during training sessions.

5) Attach meaning to your goals by visualizing the end result and imagining in as much detail as possible how the situation will look and feel once your arrive there.

In tomorrows blog I'll write up stage 2 of becoming your own PT: Working out your fitness style.

This quick blast is perfect for times during the day when you feel lethargic. Ok it might be weird if you jump up from your desk and started lunging in front of the office, but if you work from home (or if you can sneak into an empty meeting room, empty office or the toilet!) this is perfect to get your blood pumping and that much needed uptake of oxygen to your brain at times when you're feeling drained and uninspired. Or when you want to snack - not out of hunger but out of boredom it's good to do something like this. A quick calorie burn and all over body toner - Now that's better than a jaffa cake! (Yes it is) 

It takes less than 10 minutes and you don't need anything but yourself. Although if you're in a pencil skirt or a tight pair of trousers it could be tricky. I'm not responsible for wardrobe disasters.

100 x Alternate lunges
Do these as fast as you can whilst keeping your knee and ankle in line and your torso upright throughout.

50 squats
Keep your chest lifted, abs drawn in tightly and drive up through your heels. Make sure you flex down deep enough. Thighs should be parallel to the floor.

30 x Tricep Dips
A chair or a coffee table will do but even in the absence of these you can do your dips from the floor.  keep your shoulders back and your bottom tucked in close to the chair.

15 x Push Ups
Either full push ups or with your knees down. Doesn't matter what level you're at just as long as you feel challenged. If your knees are down and you don't feel that it's hard...time to get on your tippy toes!

10 x Plank Ups
Start in plank position (wrists under shoulders, legs extended behind you, abs engaged, toes tucked under).
Drop right elbow, forearm, and palm to the floor, keeping elbow directly under shoulder.
Repeat on left side. Then straighten right arm, placing right palm on floor; repeat on left side.

5  x Knee Tuck Jumps
Use your arms to help propel you up as high as you can jump, tuck in your knees whilst airborne and land with soft knees...quietly!

So as you can see you've got 6 exercises which decrease in reps but increase in intensity. What would your 1 or 2 rep exercise be to add on to this?