Are you in safe hands?

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I love social media and I use it a lot both for fun and to promote my business. However, one of the aspects of it I find most concerning is the amount of free health, fitness and nutrition advice doled out by people who are blatantly unqualified to offer it, or where specialists in one field offer guidance in another and cross professional boundaries. Here are a few points to bear in mind when getting your information from places like Instagram and Facebook.

Food and nutrition

This one is a particular bugbear of mine. I see too many pictures of smoothies and bowls of fruit for breakfast on Insta – eat solid food and get some protein in there, please! – from people who have no understanding of balanced nutrition or how to eat safely for weight loss (tip: you actually need to eat carbs to burn fat, just the right kind).

I see yoga teachers advocating vegan or raw diets all over the shop and these are not only difficult to maintain but also not suitable for many people; ethical decisions are not the same thing as understanding the specific needs of an individual who may have range of underlying health issues. Raw food as a component of your diet is great, but we have evolved to lose the significant length of intestine required to digest a mainly raw diet, hence the belly aches a lot of people get when they go raw. As for those who say gorillas do ok on it, well, they still have that lengthy digestive tract and all they do is chew – all day long…

Changed your life by drinking lemon water every morning? That’s because your body is getting some extra hydration, not because of any magical properties in your drink. Think you are alkalizing your body? You can’t. Your body regulates its pH level very carefully and you cannot influence it. Your stomach acid is, yes, acidic to break down food, while your blood is slightly alkaline. Dietary modifications can only change the acidity of your urine.

Please do some research before swallowing so many unhelpful nutrition myths and check the qualifications and insurance of anyone you hire to take advice from. Only a state-registered dietician or qualified nutritionist can give meal plans and diagnose & treat a condition. As a health & nutrition coach and even with my qualifications as a personal trainer and a certificate in advanced nutrition for weight management, I can only offer general guidance to my clients.

Fitness and exercise

If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Impressive 12 week transformations are possible and there are plenty of trainers who get good results of clients this way, but you have to grasp that you can’t go back to your old ways when that three months is up – you’ve signed up to eating with care and exercising regularly forever to keep that weight loss off.

Please be careful too of online packages that require high volume, high impact or complex exercises with zero assessment or supervision. This is a recipe for injury. Any good trainer, even working online, will carry out an assessment before giving you a programme (stand by for my brand new Badass Body Online package launching in December – with plenty of built in safety!). These packages often also come with nutrition plans that are too restrictive to sustain long term, so steer clear and get your guidance from a qualified professional who can help with your individual needs.

I offer guidance on fitness, health, nutrition and yoga because I hold recognized qualifications in all these fields as well as all the relevant insurance to practice. Please check the credentials of the people you take advice from. If they seem to be promising miracles, then apply a healthy dose of skepticism before you part with your precious time, money and health!