My Guide for a Happier, More Positive Life

A lot of people think that I’m confident and happy with myself all the time but sometimes this just isn’t true. I have as many insecurities as the next person, I just know how to deal with them.

Thinking negatively about yourself means that you unintentionally draw negatives from every situation and this becomes a bad habit. You focus on the worst and always focus on the things about yourself and your life that you dislike, instead of appreciating the good things. It’s horrible being stuck in that dark hole of negativity. I have been in this place before and it was my main reason for joining a gym. I now know how to deal with negative situations in my life and how to turn them in to positives. When you learn to become a more positive person then you attract more positivity in and it snowballs to a happier life from there.


Learn to accept compliments – If you think negatively about yourself it can be hard to accept compliments and you often try to reject them by pushing them away. Sometimes you look at the compliments in a negative way and can even assume that they are being sarcastic. When someone compliments you, say thank you and accept it. Allow that compliment to make you feel good because you deserve it.


Stop comparing – There is a lot more to you than what people see and EVERY single person has struggles and battles and we all have insecurities. When you sit and compare yourself to others, it can leave you feeling inadequate and negative about yourself. Instead recognise that everyone is unique and has something to offer, just as that person who you compare yourself too has their own struggles too.


Learn from the negatives – A good workout doesn’t make you the best in the world and a bad workout doesn’t make you rubbish! Try to see all things in a positive way and draw positives from every situation. Don’t stress too much when things don’t go your way or when you make mistakes. All the events that happen in your life are building your character. As long as you can look at things constructively so that you can learn from them, they are not a waste and they are for the greater good. Everything that has happened to me – good and bad has been for a reason, even though I didn’t think that at the time.


Learn to let go – If something does go wrong, learn from it and then let it go. Holding onto the hurt, anger or frustration won’t do you any good. Those kinds of emotions can eat away at you if you let them. If you’re angry or upset about something try taking a step back and see what you can do to let it go and move on. We can’t always control what happens to us in life but we can control how we react to it.


Be grateful – There are a lot of wonderful things you should be happy about and just being alive is great; appreciate it and make the most of it. When you learn to be grateful of your life, even if it’s the small things, you automatically bring so much more positivity into your life. If you really struggle with this then try and write down one thing every day that you can be grateful for, no matter how big or small. Soon you will find that even on a really bad day you can find something that makes you happy.


Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friends – Think of it like this: If your best friend was going for a job interview what would you say to him or her? You wouldn’t say: “Don’t even bother going, you’re not good enough, there will be others going who are way better than you, you’ll never get this job, you’re not smart enough and you don’t have enough experience” (you know where I am coming from). Instead you would say something along the lines of “You are going to kill it today. You are an intelligent, confident and highly motivated person with the drive and determination to do anything. You’ll get this”. So then why do we talk about ourselves with such negativity? We let horrible thoughts creep in and then believe them to be true. So treat and talk to yourself just as you would treat and talk to your best friend; tell yourself what you would tell them and don’t allow that negative self-talk to take hold.

*if your friends can’t sing, please don’t tell them to apply for X-Factor; it will only end in embarrassment!!


Take control of your emotions – When you’re dealing with things in the moment, you’re consumed by it and your emotions and that’s all you are able to see. Take control of your thoughts and pull yourself out of the situation. There’s no point thinking negatively about it. Deal with it the best way you know how and know you have complete control over how you feel.

It’s tough, but so important to look at life with gratitude for all of your experiences – they all add to who you are – your character and your wisdom. Treat every experience as a stepping stone to the next thing. Changing your thoughts to be more positive will make a huge difference and will honestly change your life.


I challenge you to start putting these into practice daily and eventually you will become a positive person and you’ll start seeing positive changes in all areas of your life.


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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Core Training Mistakes You Need To Stop

Summer is here (officially, despite the weather) and I bet there are a lot of you who want to get a holiday body by trying to add definition to your abdominals. There are two components to getting a sculpted stomach. Number one is what you should be doing in terms of diet and exercise and number two is also what you shouldn’t be doing. So here are some of the most common mistakes when it comes to ab training that you need to stop today.


Just doing crunches I can’t emphasise enough, doing one hundred, one thousand or one million crunches is not going to give you abs. In fact, crunches are probably one of the least effective exercises for getting that toned waistline. They definitely have their place in an exercise routine but alone they won’t give you that six pack you desire. Getting abs is all about doing different exercises that engage the core in different ways.  That’s why in my training plans you will be given a range of different core exercises that target different areas on your abdominal region.


Thinking you can plank out your bad diet Even if you have the best exercise routine, that does all the right stuff training wise you will not get those abs if you don’t match your exercise routine with a smart diet. There is a saying that abs are made in the kitchen. Whilst they aren’t solely made in the kitchen, what you eat does have a big part to do with whether or not you get that flat toned stomach. Having visible abs all comes down to body fat and you can’t keep that down if you have a poor diet. Try replacing refined carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice and sugar) with complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato and oats.


Not working the whole abdominal region It’s important that when you want abs, you work the whole abdominal region not just one area. You can do this by making sure you vary your ab exercises and routine on a regular basis. DO NOT JUST DO CRUNCHES!!


Starting with abs One mistake you can make is working your abs at the beginning of your exercise routine. You need your core stabilised throughout your other exercises to protect yourself, so if you work your abs first you can fatigue the abdominal region and risk injury. That’s why in my training plans you will use your abs throughout your workout and then focus on them at the end of your workout.


Only doing isolated ab exercises Don’t just focus on isolated ab exercises in your workout routine. It’s so important to incorporate other compound exercises like deadlifts, squats and overhead presses that also work the whole abdominal region. That way you are getting other body parts working whilst also working your core. So make sure you include these larger compound exercises into your training.


Getting tight toned abs is like winning a trophy for all your hard efforts at the gym. A trophy you will be happy to show off on the beach this year!


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Common Exercise Answers Every Woman Should Know

I’ll start by saying that the title of this is a little misleading as this blog applies to everyone, both male and female. I have titled it as such as these are the questions I get mainly from women.

Whilst the internet is a great way to connect with people, there is also a mass of mis-information out there, especially when it comes to health and fitness for females. So to help you out a bit, here are some answers to common questions I get asked.


Won’t I get bulky from lifting weights? This is one of the most common questions I hear when it comes to training women. They don’t want to get bulky so shy away from lifting weights.

Answer: I can assure you that lifting weights alone will not make you bulky. You will only gain bulk if you lift heavy weights and eat a calorie surplus (eat more than you burn off). In fact, lifting weights will actually help you to lose weight and look better. Whilst lifting weights will mean you will put on muscle, it will be lean muscle that will make you look slim and toned. Muscle also burns more calories, so the more lean muscle you have, the more efficient your body will be at burning fat. Which actually means you can eat more and not store fat. Sound good?


Can you reduce fat from certain areas of your body? There are a lot of promises out there on how to reduce fat only from a particular area of the body. However, you can’t just focus on one area of the body and reduce fat there. The stomach is the most common one you see, where people believe a million sit-ups will result in a six pack.

Answer: In order to reduce your body-fat you need to do the right exercise and eat a balanced healthy diet. If you want to see your abs, you need to burn fat from your entire body. Exercising a body part will help to build lean muscle in that area, you need to burn fat from your entire body to see the muscles underneath.


I only need to do cardio exercises to lose weight? This is another very common myth so many people fall into. They spend hours of running or doing spin classes in the hope of losing weight.

Answer: Cardio has been said to burn more calories in that moment of exercise, which is why people see it as an effective tool to use for weight loss. Whilst cardio is extremely good for you, for the best result you need to incorporate both weights and cardio together. That’s because in order to burn fat, you to have to build lean muscle, which means you need to incorporate resistance/strength training into your exercise routine. Remember, lifting weights is not going to get you bulky.


As long as I exercise it doesn’t matter what I eat? I see a lot of people take on the mentality of “well I did a hard workout, so I can eat whatever I want”. Whilst I promote having a balanced lifestyle and allowing for eating the foods you want in moderation, eating whatever you want all the time, just because you did some exercise, is not going to get you results.

Answer: The biggest component to losing weight is actually nutrition. As you may have heard before, ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. Whilst they aren’t solely made in the kitchen, what you eat has a major impact on the results you will get. Losing weight is a basic equation; burn more calories than you consume. If, including your exercise, you are using 2,500 calories a day but you are eating 3,000 calories you will gain weight. If you are using 2,500 calories a day but only eating 2,000 calories, you will lose weight. My recommendations are to exercise and eat a well-balanced, whole-food diet, that will give you energy to sustain you throughout your day.


Can I go on a diet to lose the weight I want to and get my dream body? The ‘diet’ world has been using the same message for years now and that is in order to lose weight you must severely restrict the foods you eat. We’ve all heard of the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’ and others that are similar. Well, yes, you will lose weight quickly but it will not be sustainable and is likely to result in further weight gain after you ditch the diet.

Answer: To get the body you want you need to eat healthy whole foods. Whilst it’s important to not overeat, obsessing about calorie control and majorly restricting them only leads to an unhealthy relationship with food. The best thing to do is aim to eat the majority of your daily foods that are not processed or packaged. Still have your favourite snacks in moderation, as by doing this you will not feel deprived and that way you are less likely to binge on foods that most ‘diets’ would ban.


Remember, we are trying to build a sustainable healthy lifestyle. A strong body, built with a varied exercise routine, coupled with good sustainable nutrition means that you will look and feel better than you ever have before.


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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What is the Best Training Plan For You?

If you type ‘running training plans’ into a search engine, you will be greeted by pages of different plans. How do you choose which one to follow? Which one is going to be the best one for you? Are you going to choose a high-mileage plan, or one that gets you running less miles but at a more intense pace?


Most of the plans you will find in the search engines have been designed to get results from the majority of people that follow them. If you are able to pick the right plan for your ability and you can follow the plan, then you are more than likely to improve. However, what happens if the plan doesn’t fit in with your life?


This is where most of the online plans fall down; real life gets in the way of running. It always has done; it always will do. Family, friends, work; they all are higher up in the pecking order than running (and rightly so) meaning that if something comes up, your run will be changed or ditched. So what do you do next? Do you change the run, just forget it, or play catch up and run further or faster the following day?


The next big stumbling block with online training plans is what happens if you get ill or injured? The plans do not have any alternatives if the worst happens and you have to take time out due to illness or injury. Do you jump back in on the day you feel able to run again? Do you go back to the day you last ran and try to play catch up?


There are so many variables during the standard 12-16 weeks of a marathon training plan, and those variables still apply even if you are training to run a faster 10k or if you are just starting off and you want to run your first 5k. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to run every run on your training plan.


So this is where I can help you. I’m not going to beat around the bush, from now on this is me blatantly advertising my services. I have written my own training plans since 2011 and I’ve seen my marathon time reduce from 3:04 to 2:44 and my shorter race distances improve as well. I have also suffered fewer injuries, which mean I train more consistently, which in turns improves my fitness. It is a circle I am pleased I have got into.


Following an initial consultation meeting (either face to face, telephone or via email) I will write a training plan that is based around the days and times you are able to run and what you want to achieve (realistic goals only please; I cannot turn you into a 2:04 marathon runner). Depending on your budget, I can check in with you on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in order to make any changes necessary to your plan if your lifestyle has changed, or you have suffered illness or injury.

This means that you always know what runs you should be doing and when. Your plan will keep you working hard and improving, but will also keep you sensible when first starting, or if you are ill or injured. There are also options for me to keep you company on the runs that you dislike the most (if you are within the Leicestershire area).


All of the information on my personalised training plans can be found here and if you want anything that is not on my website then please let me know and I will work out how I can help you.


Remember, the best running plan for you is one that you will stick to. It is that simple; if it fits around your life and you can follow it consistently you will improve.


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online personal trainer

How to Get and Stay Motivated

I’m sure you already have goals you want to achieve. I previously wrote about setting yourself goals being a key ingredient to success. However, just as goals are important, it’s also extremely important to stay motivated when working towards them. So many people start their journey with these great intentions to make some serious changes and then they hit some challenges, lose momentum and don’t reach to where they want to go. So to help you stay on track I thought I’d share a few things with you that help me stay motivated and working towards my goals.


Have a clear picture of what you want – Firstly, have a clear picture of your goal. It’s nearly impossible to achieve something if you don’t really know what it is you actually want. Write down the specifics of what you want and the more detailed you can be the better. Then plan what you’re going to do to reach your goal(s) and write it down. When you have a clear picture in your head of what you want and what you are going to do to get there, it will be easier to stay on track when things get difficult. And they will get difficult, so be prepared. I am used to writing plans for people to help make their goals achievable. Please contact me if you need help.


Write down your ‘why?’ – The best way to stay motivated is to remember your ‘why?’. Your goal may be to lose weight, get fitter or stronger, but ‘why?’ it is important to you is a key to success. If you explore deeper into that ‘why?‘ then you will probably find that whilst losing weight or getting fitter is the aim, you will actually have a deeper reasoning behind it. You may want to feel more confident or perhaps it’s so you can get your health back and have more energy to be around your family. Making sure you know your ‘why?’ is so important and is going to be the key to getting you through the tough times.


Get organised – If you want to stay on track towards your goals then you need to get good at being organised. Prepare your meals in advance so there’s no chance of slipping up. If you know you’re going somewhere where there’s no healthy food then prepare healthy food to take with you (work, etc). It might seem boring and like you’re “missing out” but people will be asking you what you eat soon. When eating in restaurants, go online and check the menu so that you can plan your choices in advance and don’t make snap decisions when you arrive. Work out what days and times you are going to exercise. Fit ‘healthy eating and exercise’ into your life; plan a way to make it work and stick to it.


Find other motivators – Find photos of a body that is similar to your shape and close to what you want for yourself (make it realistic). Every time you feel unmotivated look at the photos and remind yourself what you want and again ‘why?’. Remember that you’re not trying to look like the people in these pictures; you are using their success as motivation for you to become YOUR best self. Create yourself a little vision board (on paper or your phone) of something you can look at on a daily basis to remind yourself of those goals. Before reaching for that chocolate bar, or skipping out of your exercise session, go take a look at your board and you’ll be straight back on track.


It’s okay to treat yourself – Allow yourself some treats, plan for them and have them without any guilt or regrets. Throughout the week if there is something in particular that you keep craving then tell yourself that you can have it, in moderation. I have two squares of dark chocolate most evenings as I love chocolate and it is a way of me stopping the cravings that come from denying yourself food. By overly restricting yourself you are bound to binge at some point, which will lead to the negative thoughts of ‘failing’.


Motivation is a daily habit – Staying motivated is a day-to-day thing. You don’t just become motivated and then you are motivated forever. You have to work on it every day. It’s the same with everything in life. If you want to change something that you’re unhappy with, you have to make an effort every day. You’re re-programming yourself to think and act differently to how you were previously. It takes time and the beginning is always the hardest. If you keep at it, it will get easier every day and eventually it will become part of who you are.


Remember when you are aiming to make big changes in your life, things are going to get tough and you will hit bumps along the road to success. The important thing is not let those things deter you from the bigger picture. The good news is, if you are consistent (key word) you will never have to go back to your starting place ever again. Once you know what it feels like you won’t want to stop. Trust the process and stick at it. You can, and will, do this.


If you are making some changes in your life, whether big or small, then make sure you join me on Facebook (MH Health and Fitness) and Twitter (@MHHealthandFit) and let me know what they are.


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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How to Get Fit and Healthy Without A Gym Membership

Let me tell you a little secret; if you want to get fit and healthy, or lose weight, you don’t actually need to go to the gym. So many people use the excuse of not wanting to sign up to a gym as a way of them not being able to do exercise. This then stops them getting fitter or losing the weight they want to.


Getting fit and healthy should be fun and something you want to do, especially if you want to make long lasting changes. So if you are one of those people who can’t stand the thought of stepping foot in a gym then here are some ideas to get in shape without a gym membership.


Get outdoors Exercising outdoors is fun and there are plenty of options to choose from. Running is great way to stay in shape, get the heart rate up and is a great stress relief. If you run then try and mix it up with interval training and hill sprints to burn more calories. If running isn’t your thing, then head into the garden and do some body weight outdoor workouts. My training sessions are great if you want to be given that extra push in your workouts, and I can tailor sessions from individuals, up to four people. Being outdoors when exercising really energises you, so that’s another bonus.


Do something at home Most of the workouts I get my clients to do can actually be replicated at home. Most use little or no equipment and can be completed with just your own bodyweight. That way you don’t need to be paying to see me every day of the week as by signing up to a block of sessions you will also get a programme of exercises to take away with you. This allows you to work out at home in front of the TV or while listening to your favourite music.


Make it social If you find you aren’t motivated exercising on your own, commit to something with a friend, or group of friends. If you have nobody who’s keen, let me know and I will fit you into a session with others, helping you to make new friends. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is achieving fitness goals with other people similar to you, where you can get support and motivate each other. You may end up making lifelong friends out of it.


Get active daily Being active isn’t just about going out there and exercising. Look at ways you can incorporate more activity into your daily routine. Perhaps you could start walking to work, or get off a couple of stops earlier on your bus and walk the rest. Instead of driving to the local shops, walk. Rather than taking a lift or escalator use the stairs. Also try to get out of work at lunchtime for a quick walk; this also helps to clear your mind.

When you start making more activities like this a habit then you make being active part of your daily activity. This helps burn more calories during the day and keeps your fitness levels up.


Starting something new is always hard, but once you start feeling the benefits it becomes easy. It’s the snowball effect; the better you feel, the more active you will do and then you get even more fitter and healthier. So go out there, get out of your comfort zone, do something positive for yourself, find some fun and start getting active today.


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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online personal trainer

How Can a Running Buddy Help You?

There are three ways a Running Buddy can help you; whether you are new to running, looking to improve your speed or endurance, or you just want to explore new routes.

For new runners, the first few runs can be the hardest, both physically and mentally. Not knowing what is a sensible pace to run at, can often mean starting too fast and then having to stop quite quickly. This then affects your enjoyment and can often lead to people giving up within the first few runs as it is ‘too hard’.

Having me run with you, or run/walk for the first few sessions, I can keep you at a pace that means that you will be able to go further than you would if you were to go out alone. This will then build your knowledge and confidence so that you can get out alone and progress without the fear of going off too fast and having to stop at the end of the road.

Most people know how to get fitter and faster; it is just when it comes down to doing that interval session or hard tempo run, you just cannot muster the motivation to do it alone. Or, like a lot of runners that train alone, you will do the session but you know you are not quite pushing hard enough. Sound familiar? This is where I can help you with my Running Buddy sessions.

I will keep you company through those hard runs that you do not like doing alone, in order for you to hit your required paces, improving your speed and endurance. I will run alongside you at your required pace, providing the motivation and company for you to get the session done to its full potential.

Alternatively, now that summer is here, would you like to be able to run in areas where you would not feel safe running on your own? I can run with you on routes that you wouldn’t usually do alone due to safety concerns (canal towpaths, fields, evening runs, etc) or I can guide you on new routes or in areas you haven’t ran before.

Running Buddy sessions are available to runners of all abilities, whether it is for the first few runs you have ever done, or if you are a good club runner looking to improve.

With all block bookings of Running Buddy sessions, you will also get a personalised training plan (if you want one) so that you can continue to exercise and improve which I am not with you. You will also get a spreadsheet of exercises that benefit runners and help to reduce injury.

So, if you need that little bit of extra motivation or help with your running, please get in touch.


Do you want a personalised training plan or a Running Buddy?

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Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

Why Resistance Training is Good For Fat Loss

As a Personal Trainer, resistance training is the part of weight-loss that I have to explain to people the most. Many people believe that eating less and increasing cardio exercising is the only way to lose weight. This is only half right.

Eating less, or ‘improving your nutritional habits’ as I prefer to say, is certainly beneficial to losing weight. Burning calories doing cardio training is also very important and I’m not telling anyone to neglect this. In fact, anyone who knows me will know how much I love cardio exercising. However, this is only part of the weight-loss story (and more importantly fat loss).

Resistance training should always be an important part of your exercise programme but is the one that often gets overlooked. The reason for this? The benefits of eating healthily and burning calories through cardio training are often published in the media, but resistance training is not so readily understood or written about.

So, if you are new to the concept of resistance training, it is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against a resistance. This can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, or your own body weight as the resistance. It is also known as weight-training.

This, over time will increase the mass of any given muscle. This allows you to influence your metabolic rate. Many people are aware of metabolic rate and have some understanding of what it means, but may not truly understand what it refers to and how it is such a key factor in weight-loss training.

It’s a relatively easy concept to understand. Your metabolic rate is the level at which you burn calories. The good news, you can improve your metabolic rate so that you burn calories more efficiently. How? Resistance training, of course.

As previously mentioned, resistance training builds lean muscle mass, (importantly, we’re talking muscle mass, not muscle size), i.e. dense, lean muscle. Don’t panic, you are not going to bulk up as you need to eat more calories than you burn. So why build muscle mass? Simple, because muscle burns more calories than fat. Therefore, the more muscle we have the better our metabolic rate and thus the more calories we are burning.

The good news doesn’t end there. Muscles don’t just burn calories when you’re training; calories are being burnt 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so every bit of muscle gained increases the rate at which you’re burning calories around the clock!

Therefore, the conclusion is simple, if you want to lose weight, you need to improve your eating habits, do your cardio training, but also make yourself a more efficient calorie burning machine by incorporating resistance training into your training programme.

All of my Personal Training programmes include resistance training, as do all of my online training plans. My Running Buddy sessions and running training plans also include resistance exercises to make you stronger and leaner.

Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

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