Monday 10 February 2020 6:16 pm

Fitness advice: How to avoid these five common pitfalls in your bid to lose weight

I write a regular fitness column for City AM, covering everything from the best ways to work-out to how to stay on top mental form

Getting fit isn’t a one-size-fit-all deal. There are at least as many strategies as there are people, and what works for me might be a disaster for you. The key is pinpointing the weak links in your quest to get healthy and finding solutions. I’ve worked with thousands of clients over the years and I’ve almost always been able to find solutions to their problems that allow them to make a healthy lifestyle stick. Here are five problems faced by some of my clients and the solutions we worked out.

The entertainer

I worked with a guy who had a big job in finance, and a big part of his role was to entertain clients to bring in more business. During a typical week he would be out at least three nights, with all the attendant food and alcohol. He came to me wanting to lose 10kg because he was fed up with the weight he had put on.

Giving up booze and going to bed early wasn’t an option, so the key was to work out other ways of lowering his calorie intake. 

We introduced sporadic fasting, which turned out to be the ideal solution. First of all he ditched breakfast, which he only ate because of the fallacy that it’s the “most important meal of the day”. That saved 500 calories before he’d even got to work. Next he committed to four sessions in the gym a week, which was crucial for burning off the calorie surplus. After a year he had lost 12kg and completed two triathlons, all without giving up a single night out.

The early riser

Another client struggled with overindulgence. She worked in an office and would find herself snacking, even if she’d brought in her own lunch. She had a weight loss goal and despite working out four or five times a week, never seemed to move closer to it. We looked at her calendar and saw that she always went to the gym before work, which she said set her up for the day. But it was also making her very hungry.

I moved her sessions to just before lunch, so that she could eat her afternoon meal as soon as she left the gym, and voila, the snacking stopped. Not only did she lose weight, she also saved money. Finding out the training times that work for you and your lifestyle is a crucial part of setting yourself up to win.

The business traveller

Loads of my City clients travel regularly, which is a sure-fire spanner in the works for your fitness regime. After all, staying healthy is about making good habits. We had a guy who was away for two weeks out of every month, sometimes with no access to a gym. Our solution was to make him a personalised training routine that would allow him to workout from anywhere in the world. We got him to invest in a TRX suspension trainer, which is one of our favourite bits of kit and can be used anywhere, including a hotel room (and it’s compact enough to fit easily into a weekend bag). Suddenly he had no excuses for missing a session, and could keep his momentum even after long trips away, instead of having to “start again” every time.

The fibber

Personal training is about more than what happens in the gym – sometimes the most important gains are made outside of face-to-face sessions. Some clients find it hard to stay disciplined and need someone to check up on them throughout the week. 

Having someone to keep you accountable really helps you stay on track.  One example of this kind of micro-management was a client who admitted to ‘sneakily’ overeating, serving themselves huge portions of ‘healthy’ food and ending up with a calorie surplus as a result. 

He agreed to send a photo of every meal to his trainer, and within weeks he started to lose weight. Other clients fill in a shared Google sheet to record their training sessions, nutritional intake and activity levels, giving their trainer an accurate window into their lives. 

Involving someone else in these processes helps keep you accountable. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it might be for you.

The short-termist

Making a dozen changes to your life in one go is almost impossible to sustain. Training five days a week, removing alcohol, eating healthily and going out less is achievable for a month or two, but you should also have an eye on the long game. I’ve seen too many clients go hell for leather for a few weeks, just to go back to their old routines when the initial excitement wears off.

Sustainable solutions might be removing one or two foods from your diet: chocolate or alcohol are popular candidates. Or you could agree to limit your nights out to two or three a week. Setting a small number of solid rules will help you sustain your fitness plans over the long-term.

To book a session with No1 Fitness, visit or call 0207 403 6660