Healthy Living: New approach to an age-old problem

Personal trainers Paul Lonsdale and Ann Hirst, who run a private gym and have just launched a new online fitness guide called 'Dump The Diets'.
Personal trainers Paul Lonsdale and Ann Hirst, who run a private gym and have just launched a new online fitness guide called 'Dump The Diets'.
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Dump the diets, ditch the scales and lose the inches... it sounds like a weight-loss regime that’s too good to be true.

But Sheffield personal trainers and nutritional consultants Paul Lonsdale and Ann Hirst claim a new approach they have devised for shedding pounds delivers genuine results.

The couple, who have 60 years of experience between them in the fitness industry, run a private gym called Get Physical at Hunter’s Bar, and have put together a book called Dump The Diets which outlines their fresh approach to slimming down.

A large portion of the book is being given away as a free download to gauge readers’ reactions before the full work is published. Paul and Ann say their new system ditches ‘fad diets’ and quick fixes in favour of a ‘sustained approach’ to lifestyle change, combining healthy eating with a general fitness regime.

The book also debunks a number of myths and misconceptions around healthy eating - such as that eating after 6pm increases the likelihood of weight gain, and drinking cold water helps to burn more calories.

“People look at us, and even though we’re over 50, assume that because we still have well defined physiques with low body fat levels, we must live like saints eating salads and spend all our time in the gym,” said Paul.

But he added: “You will only see us training two or three times per week for about 45 minutes per workout, I will do an occasional jog and Ann will power-march. If you were to look in our fridge, not only would you find chicken, fish and salad, but a pizza, a bottle of wine or a couple of beers.

“It’s all about balance and quality of life. Most calorie restrictive diets will kick in the ‘famine’ mode of your metabolism which not only hangs onto fat but wants to regain it quicker than it went away.

“Successful fat loss is all about mastering your metabolism and manipulating your hormonal balance, rather than counting calories.”

The book begins by pointing out simple scientific and evolutionary facts - such as that there are genes in the body dedicated to storing all available spare fat, regardless of whether it is needed.

“There are no genes whatsoever that will stop you from getting fat from overeating in the first place,” said Paul. “If you add a further ingredient of an inactive lifestyle, you have a recipe for weight-gain disaster. If excess fat was a threat to survival, we would have evolved genes to deal with it.

“The advent of fast food is now outstripping our genetic flexibility, leaving a trail of obesity in its wake. Throughout history, survival has meant being faster and smarter than your food. In our modern, civilised society, food has more to do with pleasure, not survival.

“The point we are trying to make is that when your body is suddenly presented with a regular intake of high calorific foods, it can hardly be blamed for obeying millions of years of programming by laying down a bit a spare fat and then hanging on to it for dear life when you suddenly decide to starve yourself by going on a ridiculous low-calorie diet.”

Paul said one of the most common misconceptions about exercising is that body fat can be ‘sweated out’ through physical activity.

“The only substance you can sweat out of your body is water, along with a few vital vitamins and minerals. Running around in ‘sweat suits’ will only dehydrate you and possibly cause you to pass out from heatstroke or have a heart attack.”

Paul, 52, and Ann, 59, have been together for a decade, and offer one-to-one sessions at their gym.

“Most of our clients don’t really want other people watching them, it’s in privacy,” he said.

Visit to download the book or email for a copy.

Paul and Ann’s dieting myths

Drinking cold water helps to burn extra calories

“This is an idea that, in theory, makes perfect sense but just doesn’t work in practice. The premise is that cold water must be brought up to body temperature, therefore your body has to dig into its energy reserves and burn calories to do so. Unfortunately, your metabolism naturally creates plenty of waste heat which is used instead of new energy. There isn’t enough volume in a glass of water to make a difference. A simple analogy - warming your hands over a radiator won’t affect room temperature, but opening all the doors and windows would.”

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

“This is not entirely wrong, but it’s not written in stone either and needs clarifying. Without question, there is a distinct correlation between people who eat breakfast being less overweight than people who skip breakfast. It’s also true that eating breakfast means you are less likely to snack on sugary foods later in the day, which is a definite advantage but it’s not true that breakfast ‘kickstarts’ your metabolism in any strict sense of the word. Everything you eat causes a slight increase in your metabolic rate, but this effect happens regardless of the time you eat. Listen to your body - it will tell you when it’s hungry and if you don’t feel like eating when you wake up, don’t force a meal down, just try to have a bit of fruit or yoghurt and eat something more substantial later.”

-Eating carbohydrates after 6pm makes you fat

“This myth has a ‘toehold’ on the truth, but it depends more on the amount of food you’ve eaten and on what time you go to bed. While we sleep, our body still needs energy to keep us alive and if there’s no food coming through the digestive system, it has to dig into its existing stores of fat and carbs to do so. If you give yourself four to five hours after your main evening meal before you go to bed, then your blood sugar levels will have dropped by the time you hit deep sleep and your body is burning fat to keep you going until your first meal of the day.”