Hurry Last Days!! Get In Shape This Spring With The Starter Pack!

Hurry last days!! Need to get in shape or looking for a great gift idea? Give our starter pack a go!


Shape-Up Shortcuts: 7 Tricks To Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life

shape up

With the cold weather upon us, many of you will have made a resolution to drop body fat before summer arrives. When it comes to nutrition and fitness, knowing where to start can be confusing; with conflicting information everywhere you look. Rest assured that by following my expert advice, you will be on your way to achieving the lean body you desire.

First things first, the basics of fat loss

Before you embark on your physique transformation it is helpful to understand the basics of fat loss, which are really quite simple. The key to losing body fat and appearing leaner is reducing your caloric intake to ensure that you are burning more calories than you are consuming each day. If you consistently consume less calories than you are expending through normal metabolic processes and physical activity you will lose weight. It really is just that simple, there is no need to cut all the carbohydrates or fat from your diet. Yes, you read that correctly, contrary to what you may have heard, there is no need to cut all the carbohydrates and fat from your diet.

So how do I know how many calories I should be consuming each day?

Determining how many calories you need to eat each day is simple with a number of calculators and applications available online. However, many people find calorie counting to be a burden that can remove some of the enjoyment from eating. To control your calories without keeping a written log simply gradually reduce your portion sizes and discretionary treat foods until your weight begins to reduce. Aim to lose 0.25 to 1kg each week, but don’t be obsessive over the numbers as some weeks you will lose more weight than others. Keep tabs on your weight loss by weighing in no more than once a week or fortnight and look for an overall downward trend. As you start to lose weight, your body will take a more lean appearance, which is the product of reduced body fat levels.

To help you drop fat and show off your lean body faster, I have compiled my Top 7 Tricks To Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life.

  1. Stop dieting and be kinder to yourself

Research has consistently shown that diets simply don’t work. This winter rather than imposing a restrictive diet on yourself that is likely to leave you feeling hungry and deprived, try being kinder to yourself. Those who are less restrictive in their eating habits tend to do better at reaching their weight loss goals, and once the weight is lost it generally stays off. If you do feel that you need some structure to you weight loss journey try keeping a food diary until you have things under control. Rather than just writing down what you eat for each meal, keep a record of how hungry you were before and after eating each meal. If you start seeing a trend of non hungry eating, it may be time to find some activities to do in place of reaching for a meal or snack when your not really hungry.

  1. Hit the gym and start lifting weights

Too many people think burning fat and achieving the desirable lean look is all about doing hours of cardio, but this could not be further from the truth. Lifting weights or doing other types of weight baring exercise is a must if you want to melt the fat away and reveal a lean physique. The reason why lifting weights is important is because building muscle mass will increase your metabolism at rest, meaning you will literally be burning more calories while you go about your day and even whilst sleeping. In addition to burning more calories the extra muscle mass will give you an athletic looking physique which is far preferable for most people when compared to the marathon runner look that often results from excessive cardio and restrictive diets. Rest assured, cardio is still considered very good for your health and when completed 2-3 times per week in addition to your weight training can speed up the attainment of your fat loss goals. Just be sure not to over do it!

When hitting the weights for the first time it is best to have some professional guidance from a reputable personal trainer. Qualified experts are able to design a personalised training plan that will help you achieve your goals. They will also be able to demonstrate how to safely complete all exercises helping you stay injury free and closer to reaching your goals.

  1. Cut back on alcohol, it’s really not doing you any favours

With the cold weather now well and truly here in Perth, the endless supply of invitations to parties and celebrations should have started to slow down. This is a perfect time to cut back on alcohol consumption without feeling that you are missing out. Rather than go all out and cut your alcohol consumption to zero, next time you are drinking try to replace every second alcoholic drink with water. This way you can still enjoy a drink with your family or friends whilst significantly cutting your calorie intake. Alcohol provides a massive 7 calories per gram, so it’s not hard to see why a night out drinking could very quickly slow down the achievement of your fat loss goals.

When choosing your alcoholic drinks it is important to note that cocktails often contain a ton of calories, this is usually due to their high alcohol content and the types of beverages they a mixed with, often including high sugar juices, syrups, cream and full fat milk. So if you’re anything like me and want to enjoy a cocktail, feel free to, but keep it to just one or two rather than blowing your entire daily calorie budget on just a handful of drinks. Following this advice will help you drop body fat and restrict the damage to your liver and bank balance.

  1. Choose smaller portions, you’re probably eating more than you think

Rather than cutting out all the foods you love and ending up feeling deprived, just reduce your portion sizes. Obviously try to choose healthy food options when possible, but don’t stress if you eat some less than desirable foods every now and then. For example when eating out in a Perth or Fremantle restaurant with friends you can still order the meal you desire, but just switch the large main portion for an entrée sized meal. Also, when at home it may be beneficial to start using smaller plates. Research has shown that those who use smaller plates for their meals tend to eat less overall than those who use larger dishes. If you still feel hungry at the end of your meal, wait 10 minutes or so before considering a second helping. It takes your stomach a little while to realise it is full and a short break from eating before taking another serve could help prevent you from feeling overly full and eating more than you planned.

  1. Give the supplements a miss, most of them simply don’t work

When many people embark on losing body fat and increasing muscle tone, it’s not long before they are down at the supplement shop looking for a quick fix. This winter be smart and give the supplements a miss, as research continues to show that most fat loss supplements will do little but decrease your bank balance. Also, in some cases they can be downright dangerous as they are seldom subjected to the same scrutiny as pharmaceutical drugs. Likewise, be very wary of meal replacement shakes and powders such as Herbalife and Isagenix. These products are vastly inferior to eating real food and not backed by credible scientific research. They can also be extremely expensive and often promote unsafe eating behaviours. Save your money and invest in eating real food, your body and bank balance will thank you later.

  1. Drink more water, its practically free and really good for your health

Whether you are at home or out on the town water is the drink of choice for those wanting to drop serious body fat. Water contains no calories, helps keep you hydrated and can be easily carried with you in a refillable bottle throughout the day. Next time you feel like a snack, take a drink from your water bottle, you may just find you were not really hungry in the first place. Also if you find yourself overeating at meal times, be sure to keep a glass or two of water close by, as drinking water with your meals will help keep your stomach feeling full preventing overeating.

  1. Fill up on fruit and vegetables, they are low in calories and full of essential nutrients

When planning your daily meals and snacks feel free to really fill up on fruit and vegetables. Experts recommend that each day you should be aiming for 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit. Try to ensure that half of your meal at lunch and dinner is made of vegetables, with a quarter of your plate lean protein such as beef, chicken or fish and the remaining portion complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread or pasta. Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs and they contain very few calories when compared to many processed foods. They also contain dietary fibre, which can help prevent bowel cancer, and will keep you fuller for longer helping prevent over eating.

Fruit is also great for your health and makes a very convenient snack throughout the day. When possible try to chose whole fruit rather than fruit juice, as most of the benefits of fruit are related to its dietary fibre content. The process of juicing removes the beneficial fibre from the fruit and can often require 5-7 medium pieces of fruit just to make a small glass of juice. This is obviously far more than you could possibly eat if the fruit were still intact. Drinking excessive quantities of fruit juice will greatly increase your sugar and calorie intake slowing down the achievement of your fat loss goals. If you do enjoy fruit juice try to limit yourself to a small glass. You may also find watering down your favourite juice to be a useful strategy to reduce your intake of sugar and calories.

Take home message

As you can see, there are no miracle cures or products that can you drop fat and reveal a lean physique. However, by following my 7 Tricks To Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life you can help boost your fat loss results and build the toned physique of your dreams. Best of all, by following this advice you are setting yourself up for results that last a lifetime and don’t lead to rebound weight gain as restrictive diets can. My tips simply recommend small changes that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle regardless of your eating preferences.

When embarking on your body transformation journey its important to be kind to yourself and accept that results will take patience and hard work. If your motivation begins to wane and you find yourself once again searching for a miracle cure, be sure to remind yourself that those who lose weight more slowly are far more likely to have kept it off a few years down the road. Also, be sure to surround yourself with a good support network of friends or family that will help encourage you along the way. And for those who are new to exercise or have not been active in a while, I highly recommend having a medical check up from your doctor before hitting the gym.

I wish you the best of luck in achieving your physique goals this winter! Be sure to let me know how you are getting along in the comments below.

The Top 10 Fitness Myths Of 2015


When it comes to fitness its often hard to sort the fact from fiction. It seems that everyone these days has an opinion and everyone is a self-appointed fitness expert. Today we will count down the Top 10 Fitness Myths of 2015.

10. You shouldn’t eat carbohydrates after 5pm

 Your metabolism doesn’t have a watch and suddenly stop burning carbohydrates at 5pm or any other time for that matter. Eat carbohydrates at any time of day just go easy on the cake, biscuits and less nutritious choices.

 9. Lifting weights will make women bulky

 Many come to this conclusion after seeing photos of female bodybuilders. But its not just lifting weights that have made these women bulky, its also steroids, taking growth hormones and eating a ton of food.

 8. You can’t lose weight without doing cardio

 To lose weight all you need to do is expend more calories than you consume. How you do this is completely up to you. Many like to do cardio when trying to lose weight but it is by no means essential.

7. Carnitine is a potent fat burning supplement

 The research has been done and this supplement is without doubt nothing but unsubstantiated hype. Carnitine won’t help you lose fat and even in suggested doses can have some seriously unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

 6. Cardio should only be done early morning on an empty stomach when trying to lose body fat

 If you prefer to do your cardio first thing in the morning before breakfast that’s perfectly fine, but it is certainly not essential for fat loss. Once again the most important ingredient for fat loss is expending more calories than you consume.

 5. High protein diets are essential for fat loss

 The best fat loss diet is one that you can stick to. Most dieters quickly find that all or nothing fad diets don’t work for long term fat loss, try to eat smaller portions and increase your physical activity when aiming for fat loss.

 4. Lifting weights for high repetitions is necessary to tone muscles

 There is no such thing as toning muscles, they can only be built or maintained. If you can lift a weight for more than 15 repetitions its time to increase the weight.

 3. Creatine is a dangerous supplement

 Not many supplements are backed by strong scientific research, but creatine has been proven to significantly increase muscle strength and shorten between set recoveries. It has also been shown to be perfectly safe for those without any significant health conditions.

 2. Carbohydrates make you fat

 Poor old carbohydrates really have a bad reputation, but it really is undeserved, as they certainly don’t make you fat unless eaten in quantities that increase your calorie intake well beyond your needs.

 1. Isolation exercises are more important than compound exercises when trying to build muscle

 Compound exercises are actually vastly superior to isolation exercises when you want to build muscle. Isolation exercises only work one muscle group whereas compound movements work multiple muscle groups.

Summing it all up

 Well there we have it, the Top 10 Fitness Myths of 2015. If your trainer has told you any of these myths it may be time to start looking for a new one. Remember that when it comes to fitness everyone has an opinion, next time you hear something that just doesn’t seem right be sure to do some research before diving in head first and believing the latest myth. When seeking reliable fitness advice be sure to carefully check the qualifications of your trainer.

How long would you have to run to burn off a Big Mac McValue meal?

Have you every wondered how many calories are in are in a Big Mac? Or maybe how much running it would take to burn it off? Then take a look at this video..

Understanding the Glycemic Index

Have you heard about low GI foods? This video by Catherine Saxelby provides a great explanation of the glycemic index and gives some advice on how to incorporate such foods in your diet.

Setting a goal to help overcome procrastination

Finding the motivation to exercise can be difficult at the best of times. This is especially true at this time of the year when the weather can often be a little unpleasant outside.

Many of my clients are finding it helpful to set fitness goals to keep them focused over the testing winter period. A number of clients have already committed to walking or running the City to Surf and one has been training hard, rain, hail or shine to trek the Kokoda trail in Papua New Guinea.

Each of these clients is busy with a full time job and young children at home. In the past they have all been guilty of becoming unfocussed with their training and nutrition. Since setting a specific and time sensitive goal, they have all remarked to me how helpful having their goal is to remaining accountable with their training.

There really is no excuse not to exercise. What’s your goal this winter?

Weight Loss 101: Cut the Nonsense and Get Back to Basics

Working in the Australian health and fitness industry, I find it quite concerning the amount of weight loss nonsense that gets promoted by many supposed ‘experts’. This often leaves the consumer frustrated, confused and lighter in the wallet.  So here are my updated and foolproof weight loss steps. Best of all they are not tainted by self-interest. I don’t have any supplements to sell you, don’t mind if you have a trainer already and couldn’t care less if you say thank you.

STEP 1: First throw out all the stupid diet books, pills and shakes that the fruitcake Naturopath / Clinical Nutritionist / Nutritional Medicine hippie at the health food store sold you. Also, unless you are pregnant or have a specific medical issue it is unlikely that you need to take vitamin or mineral supplements. And incase you are wondering, this includes the Juice Plus+ supplement you were tricked into buying for you and your family.

STEP 2: Ignore anyone spruiking a very restrictive diet regime. These people are often found at your local gym where they preach the supposed benefits of their latest diet. Their enthusiasm for their regime ebbs and flows, depending on how convinced they are that they have found the silver bullet they were looking for. Unfortunately much like Santa the silver bullet does not exist.

STEP 3: Start keeping a food diary until you get your diet under control. Write down everything that goes in your mouth, if it is food or drink it has to be written down.  Make sure you write down everything you consume as you do it. If you wait to the end of the day you WILL forget or underestimate how much you had.

STEP 4: Examine your food diary and aim to improve your diet gradually. Eating well isn’t hard but it takes a little commitment. Start by reducing portion sizes, increasing fruit and vegetables, cutting out high sugar/ high fat foods, reducing alcohol consumption and drinking more water. If you are unsure how to go about healthy eating and need some specific guidelines see the Federal Government’s Healthy Eating website.

STEP 5: Get off your butt and get moving! It doesn’t matter what you do, the best exercise is one that you enjoy and will keep doing in the long run. Start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise sessions.  If you have not been physically active recently or have any health conditions I recommend you consult your doctor first.

Best of luck and let me know how you go!

– Chris Vavakis

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Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Health Necessity or Nonsense?

Supplement companies, naturopaths and many personal trainers often aim to have you believe that if your not supplementing your diet with vitamin and mineral pills, you are being irresponsible with your health.

What is the reality and what is just marketing spin? 

Research has shown that it is best to get vitamins and minerals from eating a wide variety of healthy unprocessed foods.  This is because the vitamins and minerals you obtain from food are generally better than those in pills. This is despite supplements being synthesized to the exact chemical composition of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. It is thought that this is because the vitamins and minerals in foods are also influenced by other components of the food. A key exception to this is the vitamin folate, which is better absorbed by the body when part of a fortified food or supplement.

Are supplements safe?

Vitamin and mineral supplements can be toxic when taken in high doses. Examples include fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which can be stored by the body and some water-soluble vitamins including B6. Taken in excess these vitamins can build up to toxic levels and cause serious health issues. Minerals can also cause toxic effects, and at just five times the RDI (recommended dietary intake), zinc, iron, chromium and selenium can be raised to dangerous levels in the body.

Multi-vitamin and mineral supplements

The evidence suggests that there is little risk, but also little benefit in taking a broad-spectrum multi vitamin and mineral pill for most people. However, there are specific cases where the supplementation of certain vitamins and or minerals may be beneficial. Examples of such cases include women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, some vegetarians, heavy alcohol consumers, drug users and the elderly.

Feeling tired, stressed? You’ll feel better…

For most of us vitamin and mineral supplementation is simply not necessary. So next time your feeling tired or stressed you should probably look at your diet, lifestyle and physical activity levels.

If you require more information on supplements please seek the advice of your Doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.


Should I Supplement with Creatine?

Lately i’ve been getting a lot of questions from clients about creatine supplementation and the potential benefits for bodybuilders and recreational weight trainers. Creatine is certainly one of the most popular supplements around, attracting a ton of hype and plenty of misinformation.

So, I thought it was time to get the information from the most reliable source and had a look at Sports Dieticians Australia’s (SDA) website. It turns out they have produced a great fact sheet on the topic, so just follow the link below. This will allow you to make a decision about creatine supplementation based on reliable scientific evidence.

If you would like clarification on anything creatine related feel free to contact me or  SDA direct.

Creatine supplementation and sports performance – Fact sheet

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Not all Oils are created equal

I was recently interviewed by a journalist from In Good Health newsletter on the topic of oils in the diet. Unfortunately the newsletter is members only, so I’ve decided to post the questions and my answers here on the blog. Have a read of my answers on this very important topic and let me know what you think.

1. What types of oils are better for your health? Why?

Health authorities recommend that we choose oils that are comprised predominately of mono-unsaturated and / or polyunsaturated fat. Dietary fats are named according to their structure. Each type of fat has a different structure and because of this, the effect each fat has on the body can differ.

Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can both have a positive impact on health. Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can result in a lowering of blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in the diet. The positive effect of polyunsaturated fats is marginally greater than that of mono-unsaturated fats.

Oils that provide predominately mono-unsaturated fat: Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil

Oils that provide predominately polyunsaturated fat: safflower oil, sunflower, corn and soy oils

2. What types of oils are worse for your health? Why?

Research shows that saturated fats contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. It is recommended that the consumption of these fats via oils or food products be kept to a minimum.

Oils that provide high levels of saturated fat: coconut oil and palm oil.

Food products that provide high levels of saturated fat: high fat fast foods, commercial biscuits and pastries, butter, lard and shortening.

3. Typically, how much oil do you recommend we have in our diet?

 The ‘Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’ recommends that for good health and to help maintain a healthy weight we should limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake. Consuming polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated oils in small amounts will help meet this recommendation. It is important to note that oils that are predominately mono-unsaturated fat and / or polyunsaturated fat will still contain some saturated fat.

4. Do you recommend any alternatives to oil?

Predominately polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated margarines can be used as alternatives to oil. Examples would include margarine derived from canola, sunflower seeds or olives.

5. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A number of manufacturers like to promote their plant-based oils as ‘cholesterol free’. Consumers should note that only animal products contain cholesterol. Therefore all plant-based oils will be cholesterol free regardless of whether the manufacturer promotes it or not.

– Chris Vavakis