Let boys, be boys!

Had a very interesting conversation with a friend earlier who stated that the different choices boys and girls make as children, but even as adults, are predominantly as a result of Social Influence or even Engineering. 

While this is a very popular thesis in modern Academia and particularly with certain political leanings, the evidence actually points more to genetics than Social Engineering.

Meaning boys, without the influence of their environment, TEND (key word) to play with “boys toys” and girls TEND (key word) to play with “girls toys”.

The paper, which I’ve linked below, highlights that both Genetics AND social influences play a part, but it definitely sticks a thorn in the side of those who believe that gender roles are socially engineered. Socially influenced is acknowledged – but generally speaking the genetic differences are down played – and according to this extract and summary;

“Despite methodological variation in the choice and number of toys offered, context of testing, and age of child, the consistency in finding sex differences in children’s preferences for toys typed to their own gender indicates the strength of this phenomenon and the likelihood that has a biological origin.”

The paper – which is a study of several thousand other studies concluded the above statement along with;

“Gender differences in toy choice exist and appear to be the product of both innate and social forces.”

Meaning that those who argue nature, can’t deny nurture, but more importantly those who argue nurture, can’t deny nature.

This, rather interestingly, lead me to wonder why it is that anecdotally, I’ve noticed that boys tend to not only develop academically later in school, but also struggle with traditional classroom based, learning environments.

It’s confused me because for generations, boys (due to social factors and often having better access to education than girls – especially in later teenage years) tended to study well into their twenties and achieve such great academic successes, compared to girls who were often robbed of a further education rather steered into courtship and bearing children – much to the detriment of society’s development!!

This begs the question, why now, that we have better equality than ever (please feel free to dispute me on this) are boys, specifically those aged between Early Years and Secondary School, experiencing specific reductions in academic achievements; and not only scoring worse on academic tests – but why is this trend accelerating?

In a word;

Why are boys’ scores in Academic tests getting progressively worse, and why are girls’ scores getting progressively better?

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My assumption, based on evidence which I’m happy to provide, is that up until the last 20 years or so, children were given more free time to play under their own direction.

ALL children, both genders were ushered out to “go outside and play”.

Even in the playground, with one or two teachers supervising maybe 100 children, boys and girls were allowed to let loose and with the occasional separation of the odd fist fight (even split dare I suggest between boys and girls) – kids were left to their own devices.

Enter into the age of Health and Safety, computer games, television, media scares and whatever else has changed since Victorian times it is now either more dangerous for children or to equal effect, perceived as more dangerous for children to be allowed to simply go off and play on their own.

Children are now more controlled, more restricted and learning environments have reflected this.

“No running in the playground”

“No balls in the playground”

“No wrestling”

“No chasing”

“No bulldog”

“No charging”

“No screaming”

Etc etc

Now in essence you would assume this would apply equally to boys and girls right?

But any person knows – if you look in any playground – MOST, (key word) of the boys, TEND to be the ones wanting to play the more violent or “boisterous” games – clue is in the name here guys, and MOST girls, TEND to be the ones happy to simply run and play WITHOUT the now banned elements.

Let me explain this with a simple real life example.

Boys and girls played bulldog.

Boys and girls got injured.

Boys and girls took and gave heavy tackles.

Boys and girls both got into it.

But I would expect – MOST of the heavier, harder, more aggressive, more boisterous tackles were offered by the boys.

Now does this mean girls can’t tackle? Girls didn’t get hurt? Girls didn’t win?

No – of course not; it simply means at the extremes, boys TEND to be more boisterous!

And boisterousness is being discouraged by our schools.

This is no secret.

The effects of the extremes of gender aren’t a secret.

The prison system, violent crimes, physical social attacks, front-line soldiers, dangerous jobs, adrenaline junkies, etc etc – are all dominated by Men.

Does this mean women don’t go to prison, don’t commit violent crime, don’t attack people in public, don’t do dangerous jobs, aren’t adrenaline junkies??

NO! Of course women do these things.

But more men, do them, more of the time. And it’s because of Genetic differences that are instilled from birth – as per choosing “boys toys” over “girls toys”.

And the differences are demonstrated MORE in countries where the gender neutrality index is higher (i.e. Sweden and other Scandinavian countries alike) – indicating even more so that gender roles are genetically influenced as well as socially influenced.

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To conclude, if you want boys to achieve better test scores in school, allow them access to boisterous activities, similarly to how school children would’ve played in yesteryear, so that when they’ve expelled all of the hormonal cues for boisterous behaviour, they won’t be tempted to misbehave or be frustrated by monitoring one’s actions and not able to concentrate as well in classes.

Let boys be boys again.

#letboysbeboys

Sources:

https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.2064

Abstract: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/icd.2064

Quick Weight Loss VS Quality Fat Loss

It’s a minefield out there; Summer is here and surprise surprise the market, media and industry is flooded with the newest, most gimmicky, celebrity endorsed weight loss programme.

But which of these are worth hearing about, what works, what isn’t worth even a second of your time? To understand this we need to first understand what your goals may be and what you’re hoping to achieve. In my six years as a Personal Training, there is one phrase which towers above all others as the dominating request my clients and members have made when I’ve asked them what they’re trying to achieve; “To lose weight and tone up”.

Firstly, this is a 2 stage process, and the second isn’t accurately described. To lose weight could take its form in a number of ways. Weight in the body can fluctuate based on food in the stomach, water retained in the body, muscle, Fat and Glycogen. All of these can change based on multiple factors – so when someone talks about Weightloss – really, it’s a far too ambiguous statement to lay any thought to.

The issue with most people’s weight loss journey is they do simply focus on WEIGHT, rather than what that weight may actually consist of. “Chop off your arm – that’ll help you shift a few pounds”. It sounds laughable but many don’t consider how vital the weight their losing could be. Muscle and Water are often targeted in the Fad Diets, Shake Diets and Pill Based systems that promise Guaranteed Quick Weight Loss. Though very often don’t highlight the potential drawbacks of losing weight, through that method, that quickly.

If we’re talking weight loss and reducing the number on the scales then really controlling what you eat is the obvious first port of call. A calorie deficit is the only sure fire method of losing weight. But without exercise, you’re not going to be able to target what that weight is and how you’re going to lose it, often losing muscle and water, giving a tired, deflated and saggy look to the muscles and skin.

Not the most desirable aesthetic!

Let’s focus our attention now specifically on Fat Loss. This can be easily targeted with some specific application. First off, don’t restrict your body of what it needs to function properly. Dropping to 800 calories a day may help the weight to drop off, but is not going to do your body any favours – you can’t survive on that few calories for too long, days, maybe a few weeks at the most – come month 2 you’re going to look, tired, deflated, drawn and generally pretty awful. Plus you’re going to be pretty grumpy too! Introduce food? Blam! Weight comes back on with vengeance. Welcome to the Yo-yo diet.

Maintain a healthy intake of calories – 1400-1800 for women, 1800-2200 for men with activity and lifestyle considered.

Next up, exercise. Now, this doesn’t have to be going HAM in the gym, 5 days a week, knocking out set after set after set of heavy weight lifting, equally there’s not much use simply going for a 3 hour run once a week and hoping that’ll cover it – because neither will.

Consider 3 factors when designing an exercise programme – Firstly-  is it Effective? Will this burn fat and build muscle? Is it going to be testing for my body and is it varied enough?.

Secondly, is it sustainable? Can I do this every week, twice or three times a week? Can I afford to do this every week or month. Can I recover from this to do it often enough to see some results?

Thirdly – am I accountable for my results? Am I doing something because someone else told me to and I have no clue? Am I too dependent on someone else or am I taking responsibility for my body?

Next look at the WHOLE PICTURE. Slow the process down and see what changes you can make to your existing lifestyle without the need for excessive cost and expenditure. Can you walk to work, cut out the pastries and drink more water? Can you go to the gym twice a week and play football on a Saturday? Can you increase your fruit and veg, cut out takeaways and go for a daily walk.

THESE are the kinds of changes which create Fat Loss: they’re sustainable, effective, manageable and hold you accountable. Don’t go for the quick fixes and you’ll see QUALITY results, instead of Saggy, Deflated Muscle and Water loss.

💪🏼😊👍🏼

You can’t train in the gym on your own!

Bit of a click-bait title I know, but hear me out. Yes of course you can train hard in the gym on your own but I suppose what I’m talking about here is the role of a Personal Trainer or Coach compared to ‘Going-it-alone’; what are the drawbacks and what are the benefits.

So first up – Going it alone. Let’s get the Cons out of the way first.

1) Motivation. Now this is a big one. Getting motivated to go to the gym, or more specifically, most people’s lack of motivation to go to the gym is probably one of the primary reasons why most Personal Trainers are as successful as they are. It’s inbuilt into human nature to create a natural balance with our surroundings, routine and lifestyle. As a result, the effort it takes to keep a new exercise habit in place, such as going to the gym twice a week, is all too often too much of an ask considering how busy our lives tend to be.

2) Knowledge. Ok, well done, you’ve actually made it to the gym – now what? Can you cast your mind back several months to the half-arsed induction you were given by a lowly member of the gym team? What order was I supposed to do it? How many reps and sets was it?? Was I supposed to stretch at the beginning or the end??? Total confusion ensues. What normally happens is you go and complete the same workout you’ve completely a thousand times before. If you’re used to it, do you think your body might be too?? Of course it will. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing time and time again and expecting different results. After all we’re creatures of habit. Use the same parking space when you go to the gym? Same locker? Same shower when you’re done? Same workout gear? It’s habit. Problem is after 2 weeks, the body starts to get accustomed to the same workout you keep throwing at it. Meaning the benefits you once got from going, you now don’t have. Boom boom – your gym visit is now one big predictable waste of time.

3) It’s a bit lonely ☹️ Ok, the gym may well be full of leotard-wearing, neon-coloured gym bunnies – but do you actually know any of them? Even if you do, are you training together?? Probably not. If you’re exercising correctly, with planned rest periods, the gym can be an awfully dull place. Let’s assume you’re spending all your time, illadvisedly on the cardio machines, simply turning over calories – again this time is seriously going to drag unless you’ve got something to occupy your mind.

Ok, that’s enough negative – onwards and upwards…

1) You get that sensation that you did it all on your own. It’s a great feeling, knowing you’ve pushed yourself and then succeeded without help from anyone else.

2) You aren’t going to be hanging around for anyone else, friend, gym buddy or otherwise. You’re master of your own destiny and you can come and go as you please; (this could also be a con).

3) You’ve got the freedom to do whatever workout you want without having to worry about structure, construction or pacing.

Without wanting to sound like a pessimist, I’m struggling to pull many more pros for going to the gym or entering a workout plan on your own…?

Yet surprisingly more people than I care to remember enter into a gym routine on their own. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone grab an exercise buddy and make sure they go round the gym holding hands with their fellow neon-cladded gym bunny, but it’s worth considering the benefits of having someone there who can be held accountable for your workout and ultimately your enjoyment from going to the gym or starting a new fitness regime.

Having a Personal Trainer can mean that your gym time is more enjoyable, more efficient, more effective and safer. The flip side to that is the cost but in my experience, those who use a PT are far more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. The results justify the costs alone. 2-3 months of Personal Training normally works out to be the same cost as a year’s gym membership and the results of both are very often comparable.

And as for the sense of self satisfaction?

To be honest when you’re standing in front of the mirror, and the reflection of yourself brings a smile to your face – It won’t matter whether you did it alone or with someone else. It truly is a priceless moment 😊

Sick and tired of being sick and tired?

I must admit the past few months have been less than ideal when it comes to my own health and fitness. The perception is that all FitPro’s are Kale-eating, Tupperware-packing, exercise freaks – granted some are, but most are just normal people who have a love for Health and Fitness and have decided to make a career out of it.

Like all people, I go through periods where I don’t prioritise training or eating right. Fit Happens yes, but also Life Happens too. With a business to run and a young family at home often my own training can slip. I found myself recently struggling with my energy. Usually I’m pretty good when it comes to getting what I need to get done, done – but convenience had taken priority over substance when it came to my food.

Albeit healthy snacks can be a good substitute when you’re in a clinch for some fast nutrition, but when their use becomes more substantial that decent meals, I noticed my energy drop some what. As a result my training reduced, then reduced some more. Further to that my energy levels dropped more, and so quickly the convenience food increased and the sessions dropped to even less often.

I was caught in the downward spiral.

I had a word with myself and got my arse to the gym.

It wasn’t the best workout in the world and to be honest I felt rather feeble – 31 year old Personal Trainer struggling with his own bloody workout.

“Get over it Brett, you stopped training, what did you expect? Do your best and stop beating yourself up.”

I cracked on. The session ended well. I got showered and changed and headed off and cycled home. And then something that I had over-looked happened.

My endorphin rush. I had more energy. I had more energy after my workout than I had before. I knew the facts and I knew the science but I’d forgotten what it felt like. It felt great.

Sometimes you have to go a little hard on yourself, then give yourself a break, back and forth we shuffle and eventually the right result turns up.

Take a chance on yourself and give a little back. Your body might need it!

What barriers do those who exercise have to overcome?

The decision to exercise is not a single decision that a person makes once. It’s a movement or progressive idea that takes constant energy to affiliate and link to. Often it is driven by a belief – a belief that if I run more, I’ll become faster, or be able to run further. If I cycle more often, then I’ll become better at cycling, either by technique or simply by the act of practicing. If I lift weights, then my muscles will become bigger, more defined, more toned.

The reality is that that belief is often scored into our subconscious days, weeks, months or even years before it may take hold. It may be something that bubbles it’s way to the top of your inner mind on a regular basis yet your busy conscious brain dismisses it like a petulant boy asking for more. You may have reminders that surround you and a couple of times a week they’ll rear their seductive glance your way.
These “triggers” can be your worst enemies, or your saviours. It often depends upon what they are and how they motivate you. Having done this job now for a number of years and also being (hopefully) a fairly normal person myself, I go through the same thought processes that are often echoed by many of my clients.
Before progressing down the route of thinking to yourself “I must go to the gym”, “I must go out for a run”, “I must go to that class”; ask yourself why.
Why must you? You don’t have to go, do you? You have a choice. You can choose not to go. And sometimes that’s quite a nice feeling isn’t it? You have the power, the intelligence, the ability and the control to be able to NOT do something you know you should.
But why exercise that right? I’m a keen film buff, one of my favourite early films when I was growing up was Jurassic Park. Jeff Goldblum’s character in that film was a fantastic Scientist who specialised in Chaos Theory. I won’t bore you with his specific eccentricities, but there is one line which absolutely applies to this concept. He is arguing with the creators of Jurassic Park and exclaims beautifully “You were so obsessed with the concept of whether you COULD, you didn’t stop to ask whether you SHOULD.”
And this is true for many of us, simply because we have the ability NOT to exercise, really doesn’t mean we should exercise that right. I consider myself to be a reasonably balanced person, though some may protest! But if we look at the state of the world, our continent, our country, our economy and the health system specifically in the U.K., we are at breaking point. We have the highest obesity rates in history, we are now becoming fatter than we ever have done and the medical community seems to always offer the same advice “Eat healthier and exercise”.
We all KNOW what we should be doing, but why don’t we? Because we don’t have to.
I’m not aiming to come across as an Idealist. I’ve often been accused of being a blind Optimist, unrealistic with my delusions of grandeur! But at least we all must be realistic – it’s our responsibility to look after ourselves, to keep ourselves not in acceptable states – but in Optimum states. To be the best we can be. We owe it to ourselves first, and those in our inner circle second and those in our outer circle last.
It is totally accessible and the knowledge is pretty much free to anyone who wants it. The call of “I can’t afford it”, “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t have time” simply aren’t acceptable in my eyes.
Why? Because I’ve seen all manner of people, from all manner of backgrounds and there is ALWAYS a way. Walks with the kids on a Sunday, football in the park, walk the dog, take the stairs, do some sit-ups in the commercial break, squat whilst doing the washing up, drink more water, eat more vegetables, have some fruit – THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS.
For goodness sake, make the decision, grab the idea and become a part of the revolution.

Am I an idealist?
Yes probably, but it’s not a bad idea.