Balancing work, socials, family, friends and fitness when faced with a mounting to-do list and limited time can be a daily challenge for many modern women. We spoke with London-based doctor and personal trainer, Frankie about the realities of food and fitness and how little wins can go a long way to achieving a healthier and sustainable lifestyle.
What are the main benefits of regular exercise for young women?
There is a common misconception that we should just be going to the gym to stay in shape or to keep up with the trends like growing a bum! There are loads of benefits to exercise that you can’t see! Exercise strengthens your bones and joints and reduces risk of osteoporosis which can affect women later in life. Exercise also reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease, regardless of your BMI so even if you’re not losing weight, you’re still improving your health!
Best advice for those looking to get fit when juggling a busy schedule?
It’s about priorities. I get up an hour earlier in the morning and get my workout done and dusted so that if something pops up in the evening or I have to work late, I’ve already had my ‘me time’ in the morning. I love workout classes like F45 where I’m in and out in 45 mins! Also working out actually gives me more energy to fit more into my day.
Can you recommend any small lifestyle changes which can improve fitness and general well-being?
My biggest tip is to prioritise SLEEP! It’s a misconception that being ‘busy’ is good for you. If you’re exercising and eating well, it’s important you don’t do that at the expense of sleep. Getting enough sleep is superior to exercise and healthy eating in terms of overall health!
Don’t over think it! If you’re cooking dinner then just double up your portions and take some into work the next day. You can get quite healthy ‘on the go’ food options if you look for them, such as sachet packets of lentils, pair with a bag of salad leaves and a protein source and you’re good to go!
What are your top tips for healthy eating when meal prep time is non-existent?
Favourite tasty (*healthy) desk snacks to satisfy sugar cravings?
I like fruit! People often think that the sugar in fruit is bad for you! It’s natural sugar and fruit contains fibres which slow the release of the sugar in your digestive tract, meaning the energy can last quite a while. I love yoghurt, berries and almond butter too!
New year gives rise to new diets, what are your thoughts on dieting and ‘getting fit quick’ following the festive period?
Quick fix diets simply don’t work. Stats show 90% of people who go on a diet put the weight back on + more. It’s better to make small sustainable changes that are easy to keep. Maybe that’s swapping your lunchtime sandwich and pack of crisps for a home cooked meal, which will save you both money and calories! Or making the effort to bake your favourite cakes and treats rather than buying shop-bought sugar laden versions. Homemade is the way forward! I think it’s also important to educate yourself a bit on the nutritional content of food so that you understand why certain foods are better for weight loss. If you understand the why, it’s easier to adopt long term.
Any flexible alternatives to gym memberships if scheduled workouts no longer work?
Lots of gyms are now open 24 hours so you could do your own workout any time of the day to suit you! But exercise can be free! The NHS recommends 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week + 2 resistance sessions. This doesn’t have to be in the gym, the cardio could be dancing, swimming, outdoor run, home workout, playing a sport like tennis. The resistance could be at home and include bodyweight exercises like press-ups and body weight lunges. We over-complicate exercise with what we see on social media. Any movement is good for your overall health.
How has the use of social media impacted self-perception and female fitness?
On the whole I think it’s really encouraged women to exercise. It’s no longer a shock to see females in the weights section of the gym and that’s brilliant! On the other hand, it means certain exercise styles like weight training has become trendy and other modalities of exercise are not represented as well. There is a definite lack of women in sport on social media. Playing a sport is also beneficial for your health, it doesn’t have to just be hip thrusting in the weights section!