When you decide to do something different with your life - make a change - improve yourself. You get people, who all of sudden seem to care how many times you train, investigate the breakfast you are eating and enquire how much wine you have had this week.
These people are your duvets. They are trying to keep you where you are, snuggled up in your comfort zone where you have been for so long. They are more than likely the first ones to make fun of your new lifestyle changes, suggest that you won’t keep it up, try and persuade you to come out and leave the training for today. But if the truth be told, they want to be like you. Some people don’t like to see others succeed, especially if if they are accomplishing a goal they want to achieve, i.e. fat loss.
We have all had them. It might be someone at work who questions why you are not eating the team doughnuts, it might be a friend who can’t believe you are lifting weights because they make you ‘too big’ (not true by the way). It may even be a partner who sees your training time or your changes as a threat or a dig at themselves.
But you need to be selfish. You need to realise that you are doing this for you, no one else. If you start to do it for external reasons you are less likely to maintain any change in the long term.
Don’t be convinced by the duvets. This is the right thing to do and you will succeed. Yes it may feel uncomfortable at the start, but that is where you have been for so long, in your comfort zone.
Whether it is training in the park or eating a better lunch...screw them! You are the one who is doing it. The duvets are in awe, they are jealous, they want to be out there with you. They want to be making the better choices, but you know what, they can’t yet, they are either not motivated enough or they just aren’t ready to commit.
Who cares...you are achieving...be the one that everyone talks about...be the one actually using their active wear...soon when they realise that it works and that you are not on a health kick, they will start to ask genuine questions and start their own journey.
But until then screw them!
As we progress in to another year and lock-down, things may be already starting to pile up, get on top of you or just feel overwhelming.
But why do we add the extra stress of trying to go all guns blazing in our exercise, fat loss or health goals. What if we just took stock and took our time, it could be so much easier.
We need to make any lifestyle change sustainable. To do this the change should take into consideration the below:
- Specificity to your goal
If you aim for as many of these things as possible as often as possible then your change will stick.
A lot of people generally want the easiest and quickest fix. But we need patience. Quick and easy solutions result in short term results and generally these results are based on quick and short term sacrifice or restriction.
Yes, as the title suggests, having 2 shakes a day and only eating chicken and veg is simple, but then refer to my bullet points.
Only eating celery soup for 3 days per week is simple to follow, but then refer to my bullet points.
You get my point. It is not to say that any diet strategy isn’t worth basing your eating habits around, but something that doesn’t fit the bullet points above or at least helps you understand why you are losing fat won’t help you go the distance (which is essentially life).
It isn’t the 2 shakes a day, it isn’t the celery soup, it isn’t the labelled diet bars causing you to lose weight it is the reduction in calories you are consuming.
Of course you lose weight by only consuming 2 shakes per day because you are very unlikely to over consume on your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Your calorie bank is is more empty than usual.
But what happens when you stop the shakes? What happens when you run out of diet bars?
You go back to eating your regular food, you go back to your old habits, your regular take away and convenience foods. Before you know it, the lbs are back on, and you want to go on the ‘diet’ again or try a new one.
So what to do:
- Roughly work out your calorie need
- Cut back on the foods you know you over eat
- Reduce your liquid calories
- Move more
- Reduce your portion sizes
- Don’t buy the crap that you grab from your cupboards
- Sleep better
- Sub out a snack for a lower calorie one
Again, aim for as many of THESE bullet points as you can, as often as you can and give it time. Don’t overly restrict yourself, don’t remove a whole food group that you enjoy (unless with medical advice).
You are creating habits, lifelong ones and learning what works for you and what doesn’t.
Try the calorie calculator out below to get started.
Give it a go…want some tips or help then please get in touch
Not quite conquering the world, but claiming a very small piece
Sometime before Christmas 2017 I saw a video on YouTube of someone completing 12 hours of burpees and setting a world record in the process. I can’t tell you how I came across it, I’m not sure if I searched for it or if it was just one of those suggested videos on the side. Nevertheless, I watched it (it wasn’t 12 hours long) and for some strange reason, although I thought it looked tough I thought it looked achievable. A few people have said why would it cross my mind to try this particular challenge. I had done 2 or 3 (I really can’t remember how many) Great North Runs (half marathons) between 2005 - 2008, I had also done 2 x 10km obstacles races between 2014 - 2016 and I believe my running days are behind me. A bleep test now and then seems to highlight knee and ankle issues, so honestly, I just don’t run much. I knew I wanted the challenge to be an endurance type event as I figured that a long timed event captures people's attention and is more relatable than lifting a particular weight or obscure exercise. But I think it came down to the fact that I include burpees fairly regularly in my training whether it’s for clients or myself and people tend to love to hate them as a muscle burning, lung busting exercise.
What made me think I could achieve it? It was a handful of training sessions that I did during December. I thought I would just test the water so I did an hour of ‘Guinness standard’ burpees, which is to start standing, jump your feet back behind a measured line, go flat on the floor with arms out to the side, push your chest off the floor, jump your feet back forward, stand up and jump. The hour felt OK, so I then did around 90 minutes and there were no niggles or pains. Now I know that 90 minutes is very different to 12 hours and bearing in mind that I have never trained for more than 1 hour 45 minutes (Great North Runs) but something clicked and I thought that I just might be able to do it. So I committed. I’m always talking and spreading the word of goal setting and training with purpose and for a while leading up to this point I had been floating through my training being quite generic in my progressions. This was what I needed. So in January I posted a Facebook live video explaining what I was planning on doing and the seed was sown, there was no turning back. I tell people to write down their goals and aspirations as I believe it makes them more real and concrete, but posting a video for the whole world to see literally is putting yourself out there to be accountable.
Over the next 16 weeks I was to execute my training plan. The plan itself was based on an ultra-marathon training plan. My thinking was that if I based my burpee time on similar running hours then I wouldn’t be far off. The plan consisted of various length sessions, multiple daily sessions and pace variations. The idea was to get the volume through my body and to push me mentally. The ultra-marathon plan suggested 8 hours as the longest session, within a very high mileage week in around week 12-14. That was my initial plan as well and I don’t know when it changed but it did. I wanted to go for as long as I could to get anywhere close to what it may feel like on the day. But when the weeks came around I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was a combination of a scheduling issues and the fact that I was experiencing wrist and big toe pain and didn’t want to risk pushing it too much before the event.
So I ended up doing 2x6 hours in the space of 10 days. They felt ok, now I know that may sound strange but they did, 6 hours of burpees, twice. The second session was tougher than the first because I wasn’t fuelled or prepped well enough but by managing the rests I got them done and most importantly was on course for the reps I wanted to achieve.
I do remember at this point speaking to a few people reference the challenge and telling them I was only going for 6 hours in training and they were quite surprised that I wasn’t going longer. But I was as happy as I could be that I was on course and sticking with my plan.
Let’s talk strategy. There was a number of options that were open to me. I had 12 hours to do as many burpees as I could. Did I go fast, slow, 1 hour sessions, go for as long as possible in each set? I did some maths and based on the small practice sessions I had done I went for a rep count. It had roughly been taking me twenty four minutes to complete two hundred reps. Granted that was over shorter sessions but they felt sustainable. I would then take a 3-4 minutes rest and go again. If I stuck to that plan, it would give me 4800 burpees in 12 hours.
The big day (Sunday 29th April) was nearly here, about three days away actually. I had been training almost exclusively based on the two hundred reps plan. But the week leading up to the event I had been tapering my sessions and doing steady sessions without breaks. It was then that I had a thought to change my strategy. I decided that if I went for thirty minutes straight, no matter how many reps, then rested for four minutes I would essentially get more burpee time. The extra 6 minutes didn’t seem too much to handle. It would then hopefully get me ahead of my target over the course of the twelve hours.
So with the training done, a day of rest had, it was the big day. I had a not so perfect nights sleep with feelings of excitement and nervousness flowing, a 4:30AM wake up followed by peanut butter on toast. I took on my first batch of a pre-workout drink to give me a kick and headed to the village hall. I arrived at around 5:20AM and started to set up the matts, measured out the taped lines on the floor and set up the cameras and laptops (all part of the guidelines for the record).
My first two volunteers arrived (Glen and Del) at 5:30AM to help finalise the set up. The support I had so far had been amazing and I had a team of helpers scheduled throughout the day to make sure I stayed on track. Just before we were ready to get going a friend of mine (Jon), who I hadn’t seen in a long time turned up as a surprise. He was there to support and help for the day. It was such a great shock and a massive boost to my already high level of anxiousness and excitement, I was even more raring to go.
So it began, at 6:06AM (six minutes behind schedule) I started twelve hours of burpees. I’m not going to go through each rep, don’t worry, but give you an overview of the twelve hours.
I was sticking to my new plan of 30 minutes work, 4 minutes rest and my toe and wrist niggles were being kept at bay. What did start to happen though is at around hour four both elbows started to feel tender. I think it was a combination of compensating to avoid wrist pain and over extension of the arms at the top of the push up part of the movement.
Energy was good, refuelling was going well and I was ahead of schedule in my reps. I tried to keep the thirty minute work rate going for as long as I could. I was hitting around 230 reps per session. I think at around hour 7 though I changed tactics. My reps were dropping and my rest was increasing each block so I changed to doing 200 reps as fast as possible and then resting. It helped to maintain my rhythm and keep me on track.
Fuelling. I had planned to eat bagels and flapjacks as they thought they would sit well and add some fuel. But early on the only things I could stomach were jelly babies, carbohydrate gels, my workout mix drink and sugar tea (how English is that). The tea was the surprising thing for me, I really hadn’t planned it but the sugary warmness really helped in between fresh cold drinks. I tried to chew a few bites of a bagel but it felt so stodgy and dry I just couldn't do it. I had done some maths in regards to the amount of carbohydrates I was planning on consuming so had multiple bags of jelly babies laid out which helped me ration them over the day. What I did need towards the end was a couple of emergency caffeine gels to get me to through which were supplied by some willing onlookers (thank you!). I have also been asked about toilet habits over the 12 hours baring in mind I drank around 5-6 litres of water but I can remember only going once I think. The body is a marvellous thing and when doing something like this pretty smart so preserves and uses everything it can to assist.
The final countdown. The last hour was here. The crowd in the hall was growing and I could feel more and more eyes on me. I had people dropping in and out throughout the day which was an amazing boost. Some were unsure if to talk to me or to each other but when I could I would reassure them to please talk as it was a big distraction and any break from me just grunting and sweating face down on the floor helped. As the crowd continued to grow I could hear beer bottle lids popping and the level of general chat increasing. It felt strange but good that so many people were there supporting me.
A moment of despair. At no point throughout the whole day had I asked for a running total, I was trusting my plan and my team to ensure the numbers were being hit. I think with about 20 minutes to go I was on a break and Jon came over as I was resting. I asked the question, how many have we to do. I watched as he looked at his notepad was clearly doing some maths and then he said a number. I honestly can’t tell you what he said as all I know is that in that moment I did my own maths and I knew I couldn’t do it! I had 30 minutes to go and I’m sure he said we needed over 270 reps. I remember saying “I can’t do it, I’ve only been doing 220 reps all day and now you want me to do 270 at the very end!” I felt sick. After all this I was going to fall short. He then looked away and did some more sums and I said just tell what I’m on now...He then laughed and said you need 20 more and you have done it. I smiled and laughed too and have never felt so relieved. I know he was trying to get me to smash as many as possible by giving me a lower number but in his motivational plan he had over compensated. But we were set to do it.
As I started the next block I knew the moment was coming soon but I was going to go for the full 12 hours. So 20 reps in to my last block and at around 6PM on 29th April 2018 I heard the words announced “And that’s a new world record!” It was met with cheers, shouts, party poppers and streamers from the crowd. I kept going and with the 1 minute warning given I stepped it up a notch to squeeze in as many as possible. Finishing with a 10 second countdown from audience, it was done. I lay motionless flat, face down on the matts that I had been staring at for 12 hours. I came to my knees and felt overwhelmed. It was emotional. I stood and was greeted with another cheer, was handed a beer and took a sip. Thanks were given and hands were shaken. 4696 burpees completed in 12 hours.
I will say at this point that I literally could not have done it without every single one of my helpers, counters and fuel suppliers. To everyone who came throughout the day to support and keep me distracted thank you so much you kept me going. Also thank you to every single person who donated to the event and raised over £5000 for 2 local charities in the process you are so generous.
That night with a mixture of euphoria and caffeine running through my system I didn’t sleep well. I was expecting a crash but it didn’t come, even after consuming 2 Domino pizzas. The next day though was a different story. It felt like jet lag but swollen elbows and achy joints all over your body. I moved and did what I could but it was a day of mainly rest.
The ending. So by now you may or may not though that it was not a Guinness World Record. After all the planning, measuring, timing, counting and filming unfortunately the evidence wasn’t adequate. During the day one of my laptops crashed and missed around 15 minutes of burpees from one of the angles, rules are rules, so this meant that after reviewing the evidence they couldn’t give me the Guinness certification. It is still a world record, on film and witnessed by many people, so without a doubt I am claiming it.
Now onto something new, I’m not quite sure what that is yet but I’ll figure it out.
If you would like to watch the final 3 hours of the day then please click below:
This years Advent Challenge is under way.
24 days of simple workouts/exercises to keep you moving over the festive period.
Head to https://www.facebook.com/176324869239058/posts/1158172411054294?sfns=mo
The pressure to be the ‘perfect’ mum is real. You can’t just be a good parent anymore. You have to be the best business woman, the best athlete, the best chef and the best partner.
More and more is being added to the list of social musts that a woman must achieve on a daily basis to feel that they are accepted. Breastfeed your child for as long as possible, post on social media as much as possible to show how happy and rested you are, be there every waking minute for your child's development, get back to work as soon as possible to show your independence, post every single one of your child's landmarks to keep up with Gillian and her fabulous family, ensure that your family is clean, fed and are enjoying joyous days out together without any arguments.
You do all of this to then not get enough likes on your photos or to see Gillian (sorry Gillian) has posted a picture of her family watching a sunset on the plains of Africa. You just can’t do enough.
Now, whether you choose to do any of the above, I do not care. What I care about is that my wife is amazing and my mum did a fantastic job. Also, the above example is purely based on social pressures that we see and feel regularly in society, from friends and co-workers. I could have used the image portrayed for a middle aged man...or any other person for that matter.
It’s OK to not be perfect. If you are constantly seeking more you will be constantly feeling unworthy and unhappy. There is nothing wrong with who you are or what you have got. You are not inadequate. Stop chasing things you haven't got. Appreciate what you have. You may be in pursuit of the perfect body, hairstyle, skin, family, life or anything else but it doesn’t exist.
We look at others and want what they have got, but what we regularly fail to do is take stock of what we already have. We ignore the fact that others are doing the exact same thing about what we display.
This doesn’t mean you can’t strive for more, set goals or work hard for something. But ensure you are doing it for the right reasons, not just because it is the thing to do or because someone else is doing it. Care about you and the things you hold closest. Give a damn about the things you have an influence over and the things that really matter in your life. How many comments, likes or compliments you get about a new pair of shoes doesn’t really matter if that is the only reason you are wearing them. Because what happens when you don’t get any likes or comments? You might not wear those shoes again, you would feel upset that you spent the money on them and no-one even noticed, you would feel self conscious as you would start to think why didn’t anybody like or comment on the shoes, is there something wrong with them?
But you know what….it doesn’t matter, you may think it does but it really doesn’t. Our happiness comes from accepting that things might be a bit shitty sometimes but without those times there are no good times. If everything was amazing all the time then everything would be average. If you are looking at others and thinking you wish your life was extraordinary as theirs, then your life would end up being normal.
You should work hard. You shouldn’t feel entitled. But whatever you choose to do; do it for the things that you love and will help you, your friends and family.
Be your best you, as that is all you can really ever be.
We are going to talk strategies; fat loss, weight loss, calorie cutting strategies.
Let's start off by putting some facts out there. If you are logging or gauging how much food and drink you are consuming and you have worked it out to be 1000 (or there about) and you are not losing weight...then unfortunately you are not eating 1000 calories consistently.
Unless you weigh 45kg, 100lbs or 7st you will lose weight eating 1000 calories.
I know I am talking about calorie counting again and what I should be calling it is calorie awareness. Without a level of awareness your fat loss goals will take longer to achieve, which is not always a bad thing, but if it means that along the way you give up and feel guilty then this is not the best route.
So let's talk strategies:
1) Cut out/reduce a food type. Whether it is alcohol, carbohydrates, fat, meat, fruit, bread...which ever label you choose. If you eliminate a type of food from your regular diet you will lose fat more likely than not.
WHY does it work?
Because it is quite easy to do. Not many people replace a whole missing food type with something else. It is clear in your head what you need to avoid thus making it easy to adhere to. You have reduced the amount of total calories you consume on a regular basis thus creating a calorie deficit, causing fat loss.
2) Intermittent fasting (also known as The 5:2 diet, The 6:1 diet, Skip breakfast diet).Intermittent fasting is going for a period of time consuming a very small amount of calories or no calories at all, only water and maybe some caffeine. A common method is to only eat between a set time period, say the hours of 1pm and 9PM (it could be any 8 hour period) but this seems to work for a lot of people. This results in a 16 hour fast.
WHY does it work?
Because it is super simple to conduct. You will probably not over consume in the 8 hour period to balance out the missed feeding time. You have missed at least 1 meal and maybe a snack during the fast so you have reduced the amount of total calories you consume on a regular basis thus creating a calorie deficit, causing fat loss.
3) Counting calories. The age old method of calculating what you are consuming to ultimately eat less. From logging on diet apps to writing down portions and weights, calculating calories is a tried and tested method for seeing where you could cut down. It does also come in the guise of 'points counting' and 'sins counting'. Which ever method you use it is a way of monitoring how many calories you are consuming and then reducing them.
WHY does it work?
Because it makes you aware of the foods which you may be overeating or which ones may contain more calories than you previously thought or were aware of. It creates a degree of learning which may be a help in the long term as you are actually relating calories to particular foods. You therefore reduce the amount of total calories you consume on a regular basis thus creating a calorie deficit, causing fat loss.
4) Train harder or move more. Increase the amount of time you exercise or the intensity in which you train if time is tight. Add movement when you can throughout the day, yes take the stairs instead of the escalator, beat your daily step count whatever it takes to increase your calorie expenditure.
WHY does it work?
Because increasing your daily movement increases the amount of calories you burn. By adding in the extra set of squats or increasing the intensity of a workout, you need more energy, you use more fuel. But this is why exercise isn't always the answer. If you are over consuming by a large amount then trying to exercise into a deficit is going to be hard, there are only so many hours in the day. But if calories stay the same and you increase your movement then you have increased the amount of total calories you have expended, on a regular basis thus creating a calorie deficit, causing fat loss
What type of exercise is best - HIIT or LISS
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Many people spout HIIT as the winning formula. Short bursts of hard exercise followed by short rest periods. If you are performing HIIT sessions for 1 hour or more, then you are not conducting HIIT. You may be doing interval training or working hard but HIIT should be all out effort for a short space of time
The go to exercise that most people choose when they decide to get fitter or lose weight is to hit the paths/roads and go for a jog. It is so easy to do, just stick your trainers on and get out there. You can choose how fast and how far you run and who you run with, it’s so simple. You might choose to cycle, swim, walk and these all have similar benefits.
The best type of exercise you can do for fat loss is any exercise that you enjoy doing, can fit into your daily routine and that works alongside you being in a calorie deficit.
The best type of exercise for muscle gain is resistance training of any sort that you can progress with over time. Whether that is increasing the weight lifted, the number of sets and reps or decreasing the rest periods. Progressive overload is key.
Overall do not stress about what type of exercise to do if you are looking for general fitness improvements, fat loss or mental well-being. Choose something that you enjoy, that you can stick with and that gets you closer to your goals.
Which one do you use the most?
Which one do you give yourself?
Which one do you give others?
Do you use a different one to justify different situations?
If you really want to change - progress - advance - achieve - succeed; then you have to decide which of these you are going to use to get you where you want to be.
But I didn’t.
I persevered, grinded through and tested both my physical and mental fortitude. After one round of this workout I knew it was going to be a struggle. I felt sluggish, the weights felt heavy and I was already thinking of ways how I might change the session to get through it or just get out of it.
What made me get it done?
I was filming the session. Straight away this added a layer of accountability. I had decided to film it as it was going to be one of my ‘go to’ testing sessions and I wanted to post about it. Even though I could have just stopped the video and not posted about it I felt that it would be dishonest to not post it, no matter what the result.
I wanted to get those particular muscle groups trained that day. From a training perspective I knew that this was a session that needed to be done so cutting it short would have hampered my training plan for the week.
If I can’t persevere through one tough workout how can I talk about people being uncomfortable and being committed to their goals. I enjoy training and it has become part of my life. But for people I help who are just starting out or who are making some big changes in their lives, they are going to face challenges in many aspects as they start to analyse and adjust their daily habits. Dietary changes, new exercises, tough training sessions and mental battles are all part of the process. So when I come across a hurdle I need to be able get over it or work around it and keep running, just like I expect my clients to.
This may not seem a large challenge in the scheme of things, but the more we push through small battles the big ones will not feel so daunting. One habit change rolls into another, one completed workout increases our chances of doing the next.
Feeling uncomfortable yet not stopping will increase resilience and help you get through the hard days, tough choices and keep going in the face of adversity.
Doing things that are hard will develop strength, determination, fortitude and discipline, all key in accomplishing what you set out to achieve.
If your favourite food is chicken and broccoli then crack on. If your favourite food is chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream then you may need to watch your intake. But you can eat your favourite foods, you just have to put it in to your plan or keep it in check. If you currently eat four portions a week, then you may need to reduce down the size of each portion or get rid of two, bam! 900 calories saved.
Whether you have removed alcohol, are avoiding carbs, not eating meat or just having your diet shake meal replacements, social events may seem daunting. But roll with it, unless you are socialising 4-5 nights a week (and even then it just takes a bit more planning) you can still enjoy a drink or food with friends. Go for the vodka soda instead of the pint or be bold and have the soft drink. Also most menus now come with calories shown in the margin, make the smarter choice and stick to your goals or go for your favourite and bank some calories earlier in the day. If your diet is causing you to avoid these situations then it is not sustainable.
By labelling food good or bad you immediately start to associate a psychological feeling towards it. It is all about context. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island and all you had to eat was a box of donuts then they would be the best food ever. But if you have a doughnut with friends at a coffee shop then you seem to have to justify your choice by saying that you will “make up for it later” or verbally state that “it’s just your weekly treat”. No one really cares what food you choose to eat. They only care when it is going against what they believe or when they feel bad for not making the same choice as you, it is their issue, not yours. There is no reason to feel guilty for eating anything. You have made a choice, if you feel sluggish or bloated after eating something then don’t feel guilty just try to make a different choice next time.
You may get miserable on a diet. You are sick of not eating all the foods you love, missing the nights out with friends, drinking the same liquid diet shakes everyday, the feeling of hunger constantly or the battle everyday to not eat the whole pack of biscuits. Then I refer you to the above paragraphs. It doesn’t have to be this way. You have to admit that you need to make changes otherwise you wouldn’t be in this situation. But do so in a way that makes it sustainable. Yes, stop buying the biscuits in the first place (out of sight out of mind) and yes, you probably can’t drink a bottle of wine a night (but do you really need to) but consider all of the above and start to change.
Until you really want to change you will keep finding excuses and reasons not to start. You are in control and you can do more than you think, but why make it so hard on yourself that you will find it difficult to succeed.
Me, myself and I posting information about fitness, health and many things wellness.