So how’s your lockdown going then? After a year of enforced inactivity for many of us, with gyms and swimming pools off-limits, it’s no wonder we’re feeling the pinch of waistbands.
Almost half of us put on weight during the first lockdown and few will have lost it since. Winter always means we move less and snack more, and who could resist a bit of comfort eating at a time of such uncertainty? For piling on the pounds, last year was the perfect storm.
But now, as the vaccine rolls out and we look ahead to summer parties and sunny days on a beach, it’s time to re-set your diet and fitness goals.
Over the past decade, I’ve built a hugely successful personal training business called Be The Fittest. With an amazing team of trainers, a fabulous client list and an international online following, I’m a leading expert on head-to-toe transformations and losing those extra inches.
Tyrone Brennand (pictured) who charges £180 an hour for personal training at Be The Fittest in Chelsea, has penned a book revealing his 12-week diet and training plan
Though my business is based in Chelsea, I’m not from the posh bit. I grew up in a flat with a single mum who worked two jobs to put food on the table, and I went to a school where one teacher told me, to my face, that I’d be a failure in life.
What spurred me on was my love of fitness — and I’ve loved proving that teacher wrong. Fashion model David Gandy follows my techniques; I’ve trained the pop star Mollie King, Made In Chelsea’s Binky Felstead, Game Of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel and hundreds more. Today, my training and diet services are so in demand, I charge £180 an hour.
Now you can follow my methods, too. In my new book, Be The Fittest — and here for readers of Inspire — I outline the 12-week plan I put all my clients on — a blend of training, diet and yoga that comes with guaranteed results.
I reckon anyone following it — fairly strictly! — can hardly fail to lose at least 1kg, or a little over 2lb, a week. That’s almost two stone in just three months.
But it’s not just about what the scales say. If you follow my exercise plan — a mix of cardio with beginner’s at-home circuit training — you’ll not only lose inches, but look more toned, feel more flexible and improve your strength.
I especially love working with midlife women because they’re so up for the challenge. Many of them blow my mind with the transformations they’re capable of achieving — from untoned and overweight to strong, lean and awesome.
So let’s forget out-of-condition 2020 and embrace a confident, gorgeous 2021!
FROM FLABBY TO FIT
Tyrone (pictured) said it’s never too late to begin a training regime and explained a good playlist help you push through when you’re running out of energy
Don’t worry if you didn’t start on January 1. It’s never too late to begin a training regime. All of the exercises in my plan can be done at home, with a mat and, ideally, a couple of weights.
Here you’ll find a sample circuit for a full body workout for a complete novice.
1. Consistency is key. You’ll always have days when you don’t want to train or are short on time, but even if you snatch just 15 minutes a day, so long as it’s almost every day, you’re kickstarting your journey to fitness. I tell my clients to workout five days a week, with two days off.
2. Mix it up, so your fitness regime works for you. To start, I advise one cardio workout a week (15-20 minutes of any continuous ‘steady state’ cardio exercise such as running or running on the spot, cycling, swimming or rowing) and three circuit training workouts a week for strength and muscle tone, plus one yoga session (see below).
3. Create a good playlist. Music helps you push through when you’re running out of energy. Whenever you need a boost, add a new tune.
MY FAVOURITE CIRCUIT
Tyrone recommends a circuit involving walking high knee, squats and high-level lunges (pictured)
Do three consecutive rounds with a 15-sec rest between each:
- Star jumps — do 30 reps.
- Walking high knee — do 30 reps. Begin standing, with your feet hip-width apart. Alternating them, one leg then the other, bring your knees up towards your stomach at walking tempo, keeping your back straight and chest open. Try to drive the knee as high as you can, working the hip flexors and stretching out your glutes. Keep your arms bent and swing them backwards and forwards as if you were running, spreading your fingers out.
- Squat on sofa or low chair — do ten reps. Begin standing in front of a sofa or low chair, with your feet hip-width apart, keeping your core engaged and back straight. Keep your arms straight out in front of you. Squat down to sit on the sofa or chair, then come back up to standing.
- High-level lunge — hold ten seconds each side. Start with your feet slightly apart. Move one foot forward about four steps in front of you so that your legs are split apart, one forward and one back. The back heel should be off the floor, resting on tiptoes. The front foot should face forwards. Bend the front leg 90 degrees, with the back leg as straight as possible. Lift your arms up in the air and hold. Your core should be engaged and back straight.
Tyrone said the only points of contact on the floor when doing the straight-arm plank position (pictured) are your hands and toes
- Straight-arm plank — hold 15 seconds. Lie on your front, with your feet together and hands flat on the floor directly under your shoulders. Push up with your whole body, so that your arms are straight, keeping your shoulders over your wrists.
Protract your shoulders (rounding the upper back, moving your shoulders away from your spine) and tuck in your pelvis in a posterior tilt. Keep your legs straight. The only points of contact on the floor are your hands and toes. This is the straight-arm plank position.
WHAT TO EAT
I put clients on a low-fat, low-sugar diet, with plenty of protein for energy. You eat three meals a day, with one or two snacks, but keep portions on the small side. Since we’re training, I want you to keep your carbs to breakfast and lunch and minimise them past 5pm to 6pm. Drink lots of water.
DAY IN A DIET
Mighty greens on sourdough toast
Mix the following together and spread on a slice of soudough toast:
- Half a mashed avocado
- Half a handful of baby spinach leaves
- Half a handful of torn kale
- A handful of quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- Salt and black pepper
Energy smoothie. Blend two ice cubes with pineapple and mango slices, 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, a squeeze of fresh lime and enough water to cover the ingredients.
Baked sweet potato with tuna, chilli & lime
Top a baked sweet potato with:
- 5 oz can of tuna
- Half a sliced red onion
- 1 finely sliced red chilli
- The juice of one lime
- 2 handfuls of wilted baby spinach
- Chopped fresh coriander
- 3 tbsp of crème fraîche
Low GI fruit (1 pear, grapefruit or apple, or a handful of grapes or strawberries).
Tandoori chicken & cucumber salad
Pictured: Tyrone’s Tandoori chicken & cucumber salad
Cut 2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs into 5cm pieces. Coat in:
- 25g full-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with
- 2 tsp tandoori spice
Marinate the chicken for at least ten minutes, then bake for 15-20 minutes at 220c/fan 200c/gas mark 7.
- A bed of lettuce and cucumber sliced into ribbons
- Dressed with another 25 g of full-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint and 1 tbsp white wine vinegar.
1. Go to bed hungry. Even feeling a tiny bit hungry is good. Sumo wrestlers maintain all that bulk by eating a big, carb-heavy meal and then going to sleep. We want to do the opposite.
If you don’t eat after, say, 7pm, you’ll wake up feeling leaner. Having a chamomile tea with fresh mint will help you sleep and satisfy cravings if you have a sweet tooth in the evenings.
2. Cut out dairy and sugar. Ditch cow’s milk and use lower calorie almond or unsweetened coconut milk. Minimise cheese intake.
Swap your usual milk chocolate bar for two squares of dark chocolate. Replace sugar in hot drinks with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. Only snack on low-glycaemic index (GI) fruit such as cherries, plums and apples.
Other good snacks include low-calorie popcorn, a small handful of nuts and raisins or two dates.
3. Cut back on carbs. Aim for around 100g (3½ oz) starchy carbs (such as pasta, rice or couscous) at breakfast and lunch. The rest of your carbs throughout the day should come from vegetables. Cut out white bread, white rice and white pasta and eat wholegrain or brown versions. Avoid processed foods.
4. Once a fortnight, have a treat meal. If my clients have stuck to my low-fat, low-sugar diet for 14 days, I let them have one treat meal of anything they want — fish and chips, burger, takeaway curry, anything.
That’s one meal, mind you, not one whole treat day!
THE PELVIC FLOOR NEEDS A WORKOUT TOO!
When following a fairly strict exercise and diet plan, you’re pushing your body and your mind, so you need to know how to relax them too. Feeling fit is about looking after yourself and unwinding.
1. Yoga is key. I’m passionate about it as a tool to keep the body physically mobile and strong. But not only that: yoga teaches us how to breathe, too, which allows us to relax and stay calm no matter what life throws at us.
Yoga plays a major role in my weight-loss and fitness plan. Don’t worry if you find it hard at first — I found it a real challenge. One session a week is enough to kickstart a practice for life. Do it at home with my book or look online for virtual classes.
2. Don’t neglect your pelvic floor — and this is especially important for women in midlife when it can start to weaken. If you’re going to get fit, you need your pelvic floor to be fit too. Your weekly yoga session is a great time to focus on toning and controlling it.
Throughout the session, I want you to implement what’s called the ‘mula bandha lock’ or the ‘root lock’, and consciously squeeze the perineum to strengthen the muscles.
3. Meditate every day. Meditation is another core element of the plan, not only to improve concentration and reduce that brain fog, but to help control stress. Start with just a few minutes — say, three to five — and increase it by one minute each day until you’re doing ten minutes of meditation a day.
Adapted by Alison Roberts from Be The Fittest by Tyrone Brennand (£15, Quadrille).
© Tyrone Brennand 2021. To order a copy for £12, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15. Promotional price valid until January 25, 2021.