I attended Be:Fit in London this weekend and loved it! Aside from browsing the stalls, finding loads of fab brands to check out and thoroughly enjoying my first Insanity class, I learnt plenty of great things from the experts theatre.

Many of the points made by the experts from the fitness and health industry were things I’ve already discussed on my blog but I loved learning loads of new (and important) things:

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1. Focus on strength rather than just looks

strong-woman-happyI attended a talk with Taylor Anderson, Cosmo Body editor, Svava, a personal trainer whose clients include Nicole Scherzinger and Suki Waterhouse, and Naomi Mead, a nutritionist. During this talk Svava raised a great point about how we all focus on sculpting abs or building a butt, yet few of us seem to appreciate the other achievements we make on our fitness journeys, such as gaining strength.

I couldn’t agree more that we need to stop worrying purely about losing an inch off our waists or getting rid of bingo wings because, although I admit physical appearance plays a huge part in my personal fitness journey too (just like many of yours) even when we lose that inch we will give ourselves a hard time because we didn’t manage to lose two inches. This point made me realise just how far I’ve come regarding my strength and, as much as I love seeing the improvements in the mirror, it actually made me feel more empowered when I thought about how strong I’ve become.

No matter how hard we work and what we achieve, we will always manage to find something else we want to work on…but nothing can detract from the fact that you’re now lifting 5/10/15 kilos more than you could when you started or that you’re able to run 5k in half the time you used to.

2. Don’t eat a banana before your workout

no-bananaI’ve heard this before but had never researched the reasons behind it. This advice also came from Svava (whose approach to health and fitness is amazing and you should all definitely check out her website). So many of us eat a banana before working out because of the energy it provides, but Svava explained that it spikes your insulin levels which reduces your body’s ability to burn fat while you workout…ruining your hard work at the gym!

Instead, Svava advised to eat a protein and good fats-rich meal before heading to the gym and fueling your body with carbs after the workout. So if, like me, you’re a fan of morning workouts, try some eggs and nuts for breakfast. I’m planning to have salmon and poached eggs tomorrow morning and can’t wait.

3. Sauerkraut and Kombucha are great for relieving food intolerance symptoms

sauerkrautBeing gluten intolerant can occasionally mean I suffer from a food reaction (that I refer to as being ‘glutened’) when a restaurant hasn’t quite understood what gluten is (usually thinking I just mean wheat), or it can happen if I fail to check the label on something I had reason to believe was gluten-free but soon realise it wasn’t.

Madeleine Shaw, a nutritionist and author of Get the Glow, hosted a talk in the experts theatre and gave her advice on how you can treat a food reaction, explaining foods that are rich in magnesium are great for relieving stomach issues. She particularly suggested sauerkraut and kombucha as these fermented foods help to calm the stomach lining. Madeleine also suggested my old favourite, hot water and lemon, so I will definitely be trying these methods next time I inevitably get glutened.

4. Listen to your body

love-your-bodyAmanda Byram, model, tv presenter, columnist and all-round good egg, spoke about her health journey and raised a really important point that we all are fully aware of but seem to forget. You need to listen to your body. We all have such busy lives and, if you’re anything like I am, then you actually feel angry when you get unwell because it gets in the way of your plans…how dare your body fail you like that! But if we are all pushing our bodies to the limit – working, looking after our children, exercising, tidying the house, etc, then of course our bodies are going to suffer.

Something that really stuck with me from Amanda’s talk was when she said:

“Treat your body like someone that you love. Ask it ‘what would you like to do today?'”

I loved this advice because, although I do listen to my body to an extent (admittedly pushing it more than I allow myself to rest), if you push yourself through a workout that you really didn’t feel up to, then you’re not going to be giving it your best shot and will either make yourself exhausted or possibly cause damage to your muscles if you really are feeling low. You would probably be better to rest and you’ll have more energy the following day to go for it. Rest days are just as important as workout days and without rest your body won’t be able to improve like you want it to.

Obviously if you ask your body what it wants to do today and it replies “eat every burger and ice cream in sight” it’s not the best idea to undo all of your hard work that way but allowing yourself small treats occasionally is fine. If, however, your body tells you that it’s exhausted and desperately needs to rest…listen to it.