Your body needs fluids to be able to transfer energy to muscles and to enhance the metabolism, which in essence is the body’s ability to burn fat. Waiting until you feel thirsty is not a good indication for when to drink, as this means you are in fact already dehydrated! By not drinking enough fluids, not only can your health be damaged, but your physical performance will also suffer.

As little as 2% dehydration can cause a decreased ability to be active, but at 5% you may experience as much as a 30% drop in daily performance. Feeling hungry is another potential sign of dehydration, so when your stomach rumbles, have a drink and wait 20 minutes to see if that reduces your craving for food. Drink tepid water (between 15 and 22 degrees), as water that is too cold won’t be absorbed into your system properly until it warms up.

If you don’t enjoy plain water, try weak tea or fruit tea, or add lime or another cordial.  Fruit juices are OK, although they can cause discomfort if drunk to excess.  The best approach is to consume a variety of different drinks.

Strong tea and coffee are diuretics and assist the dehydration process by making you lose fluid by going to the toilet regularly. Alcohol has the same effect, so make sure to drink a glass of water between beverages; I know that doesn’t sound as much fun, but at least you’ll drink less calories, save cash and avoid a hangover the next day! Alternatively choose a carbonated water as the bubbles fill you up in similar way to beer or lager, as well as aiding your digestive system.

Must Do

  • Drink at least 8 tumblers of fluid a day
  • Drink a glass of water every time you fill the kettle
  • Try to reduce your alcohol intake by having alternate days off
  • Drink a small glass of water between alcoholic beverages
  • Keep a bottle of fresh water in the car

Activity and energy

Being more active in daily life as well as trying out a more formal type of activity like FitSteps is a great way to shift the pounds, improve energy levels and enhance your body’s ability to process its fuel. Essentially it’s a bit like driving a car and making sure the oil travels around the engine to lubricate all the parts.

Of course, if you park a car for too long, or only drive short journeys, soon enough problems will begin to emerge. However the brilliant thing about the body is that it continually repairs damage. So it’s always better to enhance your daily life with physical activity to help you increase your energy levels.

This week I suggest that you to record exactly what you eat and how much activity you do each day. Why not stick it to the fridge to remind you to keep track of everything your consume?

Success always starts with a good plan and monitoring is key to Achievement. Checking progress regularly is important so that you can see how much of a daily energy deficit to achieve to enjoy positive weekly results. In terms of weight, you should initially aim to lose 1–2lbs per week for sustainable, safe weight loss.

To lose body fat you need to consume 500–800 calories less than your body needs each day. However, in general terms, women should never eat less than 1,200 calories per day and men no fewer than 1,500 calories.

Mark Foster
A Health Tip from Mark Foster

Pilates celebs: Posh and Becks

David and Victoria Beckham were spotted attending Pilates studio sessions last August. The article in the Daily Mail describes their use of a ‘torture device’ otherwise known as the cadillac or trapeze table. At first sight, I admit that the cadillac might look a bit scary, but when you start to exercise on it, the extra support and challenge that you get from the springs and other attachments is great! Get in touch if you’d like to try it.

Consuming Carbs

Consuming the correct amount of carbohydrate and fluid before, during and after exercise can greatly enhance your results. The carbohydrate and fluid stores in your body are naturally limited and are challenged during activity, so it’s important to ensure that they are as full as possible prior to a workout, especially at the beginning of the day.

If you don’t have enough fuel in your body for the day ahead, it becomes hard to lose weight. This is because your body will tend to use your muscles for energy, which in turn makes it more difficult to lose fat mass.

Using muscles demands energy and your body will look first to stored carbohydrates, prior to burning fat stores. The lesson here is not to diet and be active, because you will make it more difficult for your body to get better at burning fat!

  • Between 35% and 55% of your plate should be carbohydrate
  • Between 30% and 40% of your plate should be fruit and vegetables
  • Between 10% and 15% of your plate should be protein
  • Between 05% and 10% of your plate should be fat

Activity and energy

Ideally, you should eat a high-carbohydrate meal 3-4 hours before exercising. If this isn’t possible then remember that ‘something is always better than nothing’ and grab a quick bowl of cereal, packet of rice cakes or a sports drink.

We recommend carbohydrates that are easy to incorporate into your daily diet, so choose brown rice, potatoes and brown, seeded bread. The best cereal by far is porridge; if you add fruit to this you not only improve the taste but also provide essential fruit sugars and vitamins.

Must do

  • Choose carbs that release energy slowly so your body benefits from a steady release throughout the day, e.g. porridge, brown bread, rice and pasta.
  • If you dramatically reduce your intake of carbs and then exercise you can expect to feel tired more quickly, struggle to complete today’s activity and struggle even more tomorrow!

Breakfast is vital for good health and you should make time to eat earlier in the day, thus consuming most of your calories before mid-afternoon – this enables your body to use that energy throughout the day. Preparation is key: cook a little extra pasta or rice one night, then add corn, fish or vegetables to the surplus to use as a snack the next day.


  • Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for muscles and is the fastest source of energy.  Protein is also crucial for health and wellbeing.
  • Eating carbohydrates leads to the release of serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ hormone and results in an improved mood state.
  • High protein diets increase the workload placed on kidneys, which already involves the filtration of some 200 litres of fluid per day!
  • Most bags of crisps contain 12g of fat. Try to avoid them and choose healthy alternatives like rice cakes.

Mark Foster
Consuming Carbs,
A Health Tip from Mark Foster

Where are my sitz bones?

In Pilates class, we do a lot of work in “neutral pelvis”, that is when our hip bones and pubic bone are level. When I ask you to place your legs “hip-width” apart, I mean in line with the hip bones at the front of your pelvis. When seated, I ask you to feel your weight pass through your sitz bones.

This diagram shows you where these bones are. When you can find these bony landmarks on yourself, you will be able to improve your alignment during class and your general posture.

Bones of the pelvis
Bones of the pelvis

Simplyhealth back care app

Simplyhealth provide a free Back Care app that includes information and advice supplied by the UK charity BackCare to help you manage and prevent back pain. There are graphics and videos of exercises for you to follow and you can input the area and strength of your pain to find those suitable for you. You can also search for practitioners near you.

Download it via the Simplyhealth website and they’ll donate £1 to BackCare (up to £120,000).

Why do my muscles shake during class?

During any exercise class you may notice that your muscles start shaking. This means that your muscles are working near the limit of their capability and are getting tired. This is not necessarily a problem. As you become stronger, the shaking should subside or only start as you do more challenging exercises.

In the interim, it might be time to reduce the effort you are making, take a rest or change to another exercise working a different muscle group. In Pilates we keep the number of repetitions that we do low, so your shaking may stop as we move on to the next exercise.

If you find that your muscles are continually shaking it might be because you are dehydrated or you haven’t had enough time to recover from your last workout. Always ensure that you have enough to drink and give your muscles time to recover between workouts.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

At this time of year, we often make resolutions to lose weight and get fit. The weekend newspapers are full of advice on how to go about it. If you’re stuck for ideas, look no further! Attending Pilates or FitSteps classes can help you achieve your fitness goals.

This January, I am starting a new Pilates class on Thursdays at 6pm specifically for those who are newcomers; have limited experience; or who want gentler exercises for the prevention and management of low back pain. Contact me to book.

As well as teaching Pilates, which is excellent for developing core strength and managing back pain, I am to start teaching FitSteps. This is a dance fitness class which is a cardio workout and a good complement to Pilates, which is not aerobic until the most advanced levels. Sign up for more information.

10th Birthday

July 2013 was the 10th anniversary since I first qualified as a Pilates matwork teacher with Body Control Pilates in London.
10th Birthday
We celebrated with a special Pilates circuit class, sharing out cupcakes and holding a free raffle. Karen from the 8pm class won a home practice set, including “The Pilates Bible”, a cushion, an overball and a band – all in a jute bag.

Karen's Raffle Prize

My thanks to all of you who come to  Pilates classes regularly and make it so interesting and enjoyable to teach.