Benefits of Exercise by Helen Sutton

Following on from this week's Wellness theme, Helen Sutton, a Manchester based PT has shared some insight into how exercise can help you with your health and mindset. Thanks Helen!

Just a bit about me, living a healthy balanced lifestyle hasn’t always come naturally to me. I used to struggle with my weight, I have yo-yo dieted, I have tried fitness fads and over the past 5 years researched and gained knowledge to know how to optimise my nutrition and training so I am confident with the way I look and happy in myself. If you are after a quick fix sorry to say there isn't one! For me it was finding a training program I loved to do and getting into a good routine doing it (forcing myself to go even when I could not be bothered), eating nutrient dense unprocessed foods  the majority of the time and setting myself fitness goals e.g. a daily step count to hold myself accountable to! I have a big positive mentality and believe I can achieve anything I want to and so can you.

I really found my passion for fitness when I lived in Sydney 2017 – 2019. That was then I thought I could change my career and build my own business which would enable me to share my passion and motivation. My vision was to inspire and educate as many women as possible. I  moved to Manchester last year (I actually landed back in the UK a year ago today!). Here is where I trained to become a PT and after a 6 week VERY intense course fell in love with the city and decided to stay here. In that year I have grown my business from scratch and now have a successful 1-2-1 PT business and an online monthly membership site Fit Girl Club which is an online group empowering & coaching women on their fitness journey. Providing education so they can be confident in their bodies whilst creating healthy habits that last a lifetime. Whilst living a balanced lifestyle. Supporting each other so we hold ourselves accountable. Including live classes!

How exercise has helped me?

Exercise has changed my life and my mindset. It has been like a catalyst that has completely moved my life in a different direction. 5 years ago I was a holiday rep (well team leader at the time) most free time was spent lifting pints not weights! But as I got older (27 at the time) I couldn’t just skip a meal and be slimmer, and after a few years of fun my body was starting to pay the price and I was getting a bit fluffy, and although I ate healthy ish I still enjoyed one too many unhealthy meals. I needed something more substantial. At the time I was working on a tiny Island off the coast of Madeira ( Porto Santo 11km by 3km) and there wasn’t much to keep me occupied, so when a colleague and ex PT suggested I train with her at the gym I thought why not. That summer I shed all the excess weight, got my nutrition on track , really cut down my drinking and felt more confident in general. The funny thing is I never weigh myself, I couldn’t tell you how much I weighed but I was squeezing into a size 14 and by the end of the season I was ordering size 8/10. Just by cutting out crap food, eating well and moving more. My mood improved, my energy improved and as I said my confidence improved. I guess I haven’t looked back since then. And that is why I exercise. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel alive and like I am superwoman!

5 years later I know A LOT more about exercise and nutrition. I train smarter, know more about recovery, nutrients, macros, calorie deficit, but the all the other feelings are the same and the passion increases by the day with being able to help others!

How nutrition can help with bloating?

Nutrition has a direct link to bloating. If you are suffering from bloating first and foremost seek medical advice from a Dr, just to rule out any underlying issue. I have previously had blood and stool tests done it is simple and easy. The next stage is to look at possible intolerances, I think I am the queen of intolerances I have dairy and soy! Plus others like onions, peppers, mangos and chickpeas. But strangely enough I can eat brussel sprouts till they are coming out my ears no problem! There is a great diet system to check if you have food intolerances, look up Fodmap diet, it uses a process of elimination then reintroduction (don’t eliminate all food groups from your diet at once, you will be VERY hungry!).

Other than intolerances to reduce bloat look at your water and fibre intake. Most of the population do not get enough dietary fibre and this can cause gut gas e.g. bloating. We should get at least 25g a day, fibre can be found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses, lentils, chickpeas, fruits and veggies!

Lastly make sure you are drinking enough water. Our bodies are 70% water and it is essential for the functioning of our digestive system and to move things along smoothly! Try to aim for 1.5 litres a day!

How exercise helps your mindset?

I have a very positive outlook on life, one of my clients even jokes that I am ever the optimist. I honestly believe my cheery outlook on life is linked to my energy, which I get from my diet and exercise. Exercise is a massive stress reliever, it also provides escapism when you need a break from work or your personal life. Even on days when you are feeling low something as simple as a walk can boost your mood. Exercise releases endorphins the ‘happy’ hormone, it revitalises use and is a natural mood booster. I have also suffered from anxiety in the past, I am a high achiever and find my mind can be whirling with thoughts that can turn into overwhelm. I have worked out that if I am feeling anxious I need to get outside at least for a walk… it is honestly such good medicine!

Honestly have you ever felt down, then gone and down a training session and felt even worse after… no? That’s why exercise can have such a positive impact in mindset.

I am a massive activists for female body confidence, I want all girls to have that and it is my aim to empower them with this. This is definitely all down to mindset…. And not about being what they think they should look like. To be able to run 1km more than you could last week, lift 5kg heavier, or complete a workout without having to take a break all boosts your confidence. Set realistic goals and go out there an smash them. The only competition is yesterday's you!

Helen Sutton – Personal Trainer

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