Complementary Fitness Logo

Complementary Fitness 25 March newsletter

Complementary Fitness Logo

Welcome to this week’s newsletter & updates:

As you know, there are lots of modifications, regressions or progressions in the exercises and stretches that we do in our classes which, hopefully, will suit everyone whether they’re joining a class for the first time, returning to exercise/our classes or regular exercisers who’ve been coming to classes for months/years and want a bit more intensity or challenge.  So, it’s always best to go with the option that feels best for you and your body, fitness level and how you’re feeling on that particular day too (some days, we might not have as much energy as others!).  Some days, we also might want to ‘ease back’ eg if we’ve had a have a shoulder, wrist or knee injury and instead of eg doing a downward facing dog/inverted V pose into a 3-legged dog pose, we might want to stay on hands (or knuckles to ‘save’ wrists) and knees/on all 4s and extend leg behind.  You can also do this all-4s position on your yoga mat with the addition of a folded towel on the mat/under your knees or a double-over your mat for more knee cushioning.


In our classes, I always like to ‘work to the beat of the music’ but then again, that doesn’t mean that you have to if you want to slow things down, take your time eg getting down to the floor or back up again.  Go at your own pace, it’s your workout.


Another thank you to: all of our ‘new people’, those who’ve recently returned to our classes after an absence as well as all of our regulars who’ve been coming to our classes for years.  I totally appreciate your commitment and for turning up week after week and working out with me – it wouldn’t be the same without you.

We can do this and we’re ‘in it’ together.


It’s not easy navigating supermarket aisles especially when it comes to the ultra-processed food (UPFs) aisles and availability but here’s a guide that might help.

We might be consuming long-life oat milk in our morning latte, diet drink with lunch, snack-time flavoured yogurt, post-workout protein bar, savoury snacks or sweet baked cookies, mass-produced wraps to make lunch with or even the veggie sausages for dinner.  Ultra-processed foods (UPF) have, of late, been a hot topic of debate which unfortunately has led to mixed messages in the media, making it hard to know which foods to buy.



Cooking, freezing, drying, fermenting … all are forms of food processing that have been used for centuries.  The classification of UPF is relatively new.  The most widely used system was introduced by a Brazilian professor in 2009.  The Nova system group, which is the most commonly used classification system, groups foods into one of four categories: unprocessed or minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods and ultra-processed foods.


Group 1: Unprocessed or minimally processed

Foods in their natural state or that have been minimally processed.  They may have been pressed, dried, frozen, pasteurised or fermented.

Examples are: Fruits and vegetables, pulses, rice, oats, shelled nuts, fresh milk, natural yoghurts, fresh or frozen fish or meat.


Group 2: Processed culinary ingredients

These foods have been through simple processing.  However, they have been used in day to day cooking.

Examples: butter, vinegars, salt, sugar, cold pressed vegetable oils


Group 3: Processed Foods

These foods have been through processing techniques eg canning or bottling as a way to preserve them or add flavour

Examples are: tinned fruit & veg, cheeses, smoked fish or meats, artisan-made bread, beer


Group 4: Ultra-processed foods

These foods have gone through several industrial procedures and contain ingredients we wouldn’t normally find in the kitchen eg preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners and artificial colours.  Within this, there is a very large and diverse group.  Unfortunately, in the UK, up to 60% of our calories come from this group!

Examples of UPFs: sliced bread, breakfast cereals, ready-meals, mass-produced sausages and foods like chicken nuggets, ready-made pasta and curry sauces, crisps and chocolates, protein bars and powders, flavoured yoghurts, sugary drinks, distilled alcohol.

PS I know that in a recent newsletter, I mentioned protein powders and yes, they are a processed product/UPF but it’s not to say we should consume it every day, just occasionally and maybe only a scoop in a protein shake or smoothie along with other healthier choices eg nut butter (still processed) or nuts that have been soaked for a few hours then drained and rinsed, hemp seeds, berries etc.



The research on ultra-processed foods is growing and evolving.  In the past, studies have grouped all UPFs together, which meant it was hard to compare the effects of wholegrain breakfast cereals with mass-produced biscuits, for example.

Observational studies (research that suggests a link but can’t prove causation) that have looked at large groups of people have shown that those who eat more UPFs have higher rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer.  While there is a link between UPF intake and poorer health, we still do not know exactly why.  There are a number of different theories that have been proposed, which include:

  • They contain more saturated fat, sugar and salt and less fibre, which may suggest it’s the nutrients in these foods that could be causing the problem rather than the level of processing. These foods are also moreish, which means it’s easier to overconsume them, leading to a higher calorie intake and therefore weight gain.
  • The processing affects the physical structure of the food making it easier to eat and, as a result, these foods can then be eaten faster. This could also lead to eating more.
  • The additives in them may disrupt gut health for the worse.



We need to continue to grow the body of evidence; however, in the interim, here are some tips to ensure we’re making healthier food choices:

  1. Cook from scratch.The more we do this, the fewer UPFs we’ll automatically have in our diet.  If we’re pressed for time, we could do some batch cooking one day a week and freeze portions for another day
  2. Snack smarter. Many of us rely on snacking as our life is busy and we’re on the go.  In the UK, almost 25% of our calories for the day can come from snacks and this is easily where some of the UPFs come in.  Cereal bars, protein bars, crisps and biscuits may be what we reach for; however, whole food snacks that are higher quality in nutrients like carrots and hummus, oatcakes with nut butters, a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts or some home-made energy balls would be smarter choices if eaten occasionally/regularly.
  3. Learn to read the labels. Look at the ingredients list and see how many of the ingredients are familiar or are recognisable.  Most of the time, aim to eat the foods that don’t contain a long list of ingredients that we wouldn’t find in your kitchen.  If you think you eat too many UPFs, gradually swap these for less-processed whole foods.  If you do end up with a ready meal, that’s OK but maybe think about how we can increase the nutritional value of the meal – maybe by adding a big portion of vegetables, for example would be a good start.
  4. Step away from labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. A healthy diet that is sustainable in the long term is all about a dietary pattern that looks at a diet as a whole.  If most of the time we base meals on vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins and healthy fats as well as wholegrains, then the occasional shop-bought biscuit is not going to do us any harm.


If you want more in-depth reading or to investigate further, scroll down to read through some references*

(& the Class Handout article above was by Dr Linia Patel in a recent FitPro mag)


Reminder about 9am start this Fri 29 March:

This Friday, on Fri 29 March (Good Friday), our fitness yoga is at the earlier start time of 9.00 (and finishing at 10am sharp), just for this Friday’s class

Put the earlier 9am start time in your diary, phone calendar etc now and set yourself a reminder.


When do the clocks go forward?  Sunday 31 March (1 hour less on Easter Sunday).


Lately, we’ve been talking about how to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) – diet, lifestyle including exercise, movement, fresh air, walking, sleep etc but I also heard a neurologist (who specializes in helping people to prevent AD) say that another way to reduce AD and stroke by 50% is by using saunas.

Research from Finland found that those who do saunas 4 times a week for 20 minutes, showed the 50% decrease in both AD & stroke as well as a 50% decreased risk of heart disease.  This research was done using a dry sauna, not a wet steam sauna.

I’m not a member of a gym (but know someone who is!) so might ‘tag along’ some time and use the sauna there.  I also love being in the sauna when on holiday.


Reminder to send me any info, articles, local or other news etc that you come across that we can share with each other, thanks.


*References mentioned above re healthy food/UPFs

  1. Elizabeth L, Machado P, Zinocker M, Baker P, Lawrence M (2020), Ultra-processed foods and health outcomes: A narrative review, Nutrients, 12(7). doi:10.3390/nu12071955
  2. Pagliai G, Dinu M, Madarena MP, Bonaccio M, Iacoviello L, Sofi F (2021), Consumption of ultra-processed foods and health status: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Br J Nutr., 125(3): 308-18. doi:10.1017/S0007114520002688
  3. Isaksen IM, Dankel SN (2023), Ultra-processed food consumption and cancer risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Clin Nutr., 42(6): 919-28. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2023.03.018
  4. Monteiro CA (2009), Nutrition and health: The issue is not food, nor nutrients, so much as processing, Public Health Nutr., 12(5): 729-31. doi:10.1017/S1368980009005291
  5. Monteiro CA, Cannon G, Levy RB, Moubarac JC, Louzada ML, Rauber F et al(2019), Ultra-processed foods: What they are and how to identify them, Public Health Nutr. 22(5): 936-41. doi:10.1017/S1368980018003762


How you can pay for classes:

With cash ie £6 per class

Paying directly on my iphone or

By bank transfer into my account.


Connecting with Susan:

Email me: