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.
Alarm goes off, get up, head to the kitchen, flick the kettle on, check your phone for likes, messages, emails, notifications and then 15 minutes later realise the kettle is cold so flick it back on again. Choose your drink of choice, maybe sit and browse the Daily Mail website or catch 5 minutes of the news. It’s now time to get the kids ready; teeth, clothes, lunch, homework and any other random piece of household equipment that they apparently need for the project of the day. Now time for you to get dressed. You are now nearly ready to start your day. You grab your breakfast and maybe prepare your lunch or mid-morning snack.
Drop off done, possibly stop off at your favourite coffee shop for a snack or second drink of the day and then to get the day done.
Before you know it the day has flown by and the hustle and bustle of your daily life has taken over. You have eaten and drank when you could, got home and done the evening shift and now it’s time to sit and switch off. Now off to bed, ready to go again in the morning.
This might not be your day. But whatever your routine is, it has a massive effect on how much you can implement change. If I said to this person above “That’s great, but now I want you to workout for an hour when you get home from work, prepare your lunch for the next day and eat a fresh breakfast”. I don’t think I would be helping them reach their goal very quickly, they may feel overwhelmed, become disillusioned at the process and just go along with no hope.
Routine can be a good thing. It can allow you to feel in control or alleviate stress from an existing situation as you know what to do, what is happening next and keep you moving forward. If the routine you are currently following (consciously or unconsciously) is achieving your goals then stick with it until it doesn’t.
They can also not be so great though. If your routine is causing you to keep making the same mistake, is causing you to be anxious about not sticking to it or facilitates a habit which you know you should be reducing or removing then you may need to take a closer look at what is actually going on.
We are creatures of habit, as the saying goes. And it may be true, as trying to over complicate your day for the sake of it is not going to help you achieve anything. We like structure and a plan but they have to be geared towards the outcome you are aiming for otherwise you will keep getting the same result.
Start by adding in one small change. Don’t just remove something from your routine, otherwise you end up filling that gap with something else that wasn’t planned for. If your regular breakfast is a large bowl of frosted flakes and you just remove them without replacing them with something else, then you start to feel hard done by, hungry and then possible make a worst choice later in the morning. Instead try to replace rather than remove. Replace your flakes with a small pot of skyr type yogurt, still quick and grab-able yet more beneficial. Instead of removing your tea break chocolate bar, replace it with an apple.
When should you change your routine?
If your routine at your break is to head on the same walking route to get some fresh air, but on the way you head past your favourite coffee shop and get your unicorn-cappa-frappe-hazelnut coffee and then head back to the office then you have a couple of choices; go the same way but choose a different drink (maybe an actual coffee and not a dessert) or walk a different route and grab a diet coke or water from a shop. You still get your break, you still get a drink but more than likely you have just reduced your calories by a few hundred.
If right up to before going to bed you are watching the latest box set on Netflix and then you have one more last minute check of your notifications on your phone and then wonder why you can’t switch off well or have a disturbed night sleep; then it is time to change. Do those things, but start them earlier. Have a clear “no screen period” before climbing into bed. I know a lot of things are on our devices but if you still read a real book, then do that instead. A dimmer, amber light is best and if you must a kindle/phone on night mode + flight mode is a good alternative.
We all have a routine to a degree and we can all change it to suit what we want to achieve. But you must be willing to change - feel a little resentful - feel uncomfortable - keep going - gain momentum - gain confidence in your choice - feel the satisfaction - see the results.
When we decide that we want to make a change, we like to prepare, plan and explore our options. Which route is going to be best to choose. We read an array of books to guide us, view many YouTube videos and google the subject over and over again. This explains the massive amount of self help books on the market with eye catching titles covering all sorts - 10 Reasons to Ditch the Donuts, How to own your life, This Book IS The Answer, Live with Cabbage and feel amazing. Whatever topic you are looking for there will be something or someone out there trying to help you.
People read self books or guides looking for the answer and some may have it. I’ve read some amazing books which have given me ideas and motivation to do something or take some action. Have I put it all in to practice? No. Have I gleaned elements of them and applied the parts I feel are most relevant? Yes, I have. But the clue is in the title SELF HELP.
Self - YOU need to do something. It will probably be different to what you are already doing otherwise you wouldn’t be searching the answer in the first place. It may make you feel uncomfortable, outside of your safe bubble, but unless you do it you will never know if it is the right thing or not. It is your SELF that has to find the way to make this “thing” fit into your life. You can keep asking people or reading more books but at some point YOU have to do it. You have to make the decision and take the action to commit.
Help - These books, videos, people or articles are here to HELP you. They are not the answer but peoples methods, ideas and philosophies on a particular subject that they have found successful and want to share with you. They are helping you figure out what might work best for you.
Read, wait, ask, listen and read again and maybe even read some more. At some stage, you have to put the work in. You can keep putting it off and fool yourself that you have accomplished something by reading a book. The book may have helped but how much of it have you really put into action, be honest with yourself. How hard have you grafted to persist with this method and really tried it out? Did you find it too hard and then move on to the next one only to reject that one because it didn’t work for you? It may be hard and probably will be, especially if it is something you have been putting off for a long time. But you need to apply what you can and work for it, you need to graft. The starting point is usually going to the toughest part of any journey. The fear of failure, social acceptance and the fear of change can all start playing on your mind. But just think what it will feel like 6-12 months down the line when someone is still reading and waiting when YOU have taken the action and actually done something it, whatever IT may be.
You need to stop this...
When it comes to fat loss you may sometimes find yourself looking for a scapegoat or the excuse. Whether that be bread, sugar, wine, chocolate or dairy.
What you actually need to do is stop 'pussy footing' around the subject and just accept where you are and what you need to do.
XXXX doesn't make you fat, consistently eating in a calorie surplus does.
Removing XXXX from your diet doesn't make you lose weight, consistently creating a calorie deficit does. If removing some or all of the portions of XXXX from your diet help you achieve that then great.
Everything you eat and drink needs to form part of a sustainable diet. If you like bread, eat some. If you like chocolate eat some. I like pizza, but I know I can't eat 3 pizzas everyday and still hit my calorie needs and macro nutrient targets (protein, carb, fat).
I'm not using the term moderation. Moderation is flawed.
If you justify eating 2 bars of chocolate a week because that is your moderation, you then go on to use that reason for having 2 take aways, 3 beers, 1 bag of crisps, 3 bags of sweets...because you see each food as consumed in moderation.
But has it been really? Or are these moderated food calories the ones that are keeping you at your weight or helping that unwanted weight creep on?
It is time to account - asses - change.
When you go on a diet or embark on a new eating regime, you set out with high hopes and all the best expectations in the world. You have your guidelines and what you are looking to remove or reduce. You are raring to go and flick your mindset to “I’m going to do this!”.
Over the first few weeks you may find that things are going great, your new meal plan and your snacks are flowing well and you are feeling positive.
Over the week you eat well, your new meal plan and your snacks are flowing well and you are feeling positive.
You start each week with a great food shop. Your meals are planned and you have prepped your lunches for the week, or at least got your ideas in mind. You find that your breakfasts are great and filling and each day you avoid the office biscuits and colleague birthday treats.
It’s that time of year where you start to make changes. You say to yourself “Right, that’s it! New year, new me” and “I’m definitely doing it this time!”. But that last statement alone says a lot... “...this time!” It shows that you may have tried it already or that you have tried something similar in the past.
Whether it is the 1st or 3rd time you are going to shift some excess pounds, join the gym or start running (insert goal here), you need to know your WHY. Without knowing and recognising your WHY you are unlikely to sustain the change over the longer term. If the going gets tough, your WHY will be there to steady the ship and to keep you pushing through. Your WHY is the reason you are making the change. It could be something personal or something external, but you need to find it. It might take some time but once you have it, grab onto it and don’t let go. Write it down. Think of all the different ways in which you can build towards it. Make a plan. Do little things that will lead towards it. A house is made brick by brick, you don’t have to build it all in a day.
We also live in the real world though, so you have to be realistic and honest. January is generally cold, wet and dark. The gyms are busy, your being told to not eat this and eat that. Some days you have a bad sleep, some days you are stuck at work or the kids are ill...things happen and life gets in the way! But if you have your WHY this all starts to look clearer. You get over your obstacles and your excuses because you can see what is at the end.
The biggest challenge standing in front of you is you. You are the one who needs to want to change. Yes, you may have support, guidance and help along the way. But without you, your WHY doesn’t exist.
You need to be SMART about things.
S- Specific -
S- I am going to lose 14lbs
M- I will measure my weight now and then each two weeks.
A- I will achieve this as I have a plan in place
R- It is realistic as it still puts me within a healthy weight range for my height and age
T- I will do this within 8 weeks time
This is where I do suggest writing your WHY down. Visualising it and reiterating it to yourself will reinforce it. Another good idea is a collage, a whiteboard, a notebook...whether it is a collection of pictures, notes or articles to get you inspired, it all helps.
You have the power each day to move a little bit closer to your goals (and feeling awesome). Write or say out loud 2 things right now that make you feel good about yourself. It could be your dedication to something, the smarter breakfast choice you made this morning, the skills you have in a particular field or a goal you have achieved in your life so far.
You are an achiever! You have done it before, you can do it again and again.
And if you have a wedding coming up and that is your WHY, my wife does amazing bridal hair ;) www.katiejanewhitlock.co.uk
When it comes to eating around your training sessions, let's try and keep things simple.
Ideally you should be looking to have a full balanced meal, including carbohydrates, fat and protein (20-40g approx) in a 3-4 hour window of your training.
If this doesn't work for you everytime, don't stress, just do what you can and if you feel hungry before your training then of course have something light, such as a banana, handful of nuts, even a couple of squares of dark chocolate, as working out hungry doesn’t always feel great.
If fat loss is your goal then over the course of the week (I like to use a week rather than focussing on 1 day) you need to be in a calorie deficit. You need to expend more calories than you consume. This can be just a small amount, 200-300 calories a day. The small deficits will help in achieving long term fat loss, hunger pangs and overall adherence to your change in diet or activity levels.
If you are happy where you are in terms of weight or body composition then stick with what you are doing and tweak when you need to.
Here is some bones of the matter. The ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) has seen evidence that a protein intake of between 1.4-2g per kg of bodyweight for individuals who participate in resistance training is optimal when looking to build or maintain muscle. This depends on how many times a week you train and to what intensity. This is also noticeably higher than the Reference Nutrient Intake of .75g per kg bodyweight but, this is not based on someone who trains.
What does this mean?
Weight = 80KG
80x1.6(taking it in the middle range)=128
128g protein daily
Split over 3-5 meals, roughly 25g in each
This could be achieved through:
Regular resistance training plus protein consumption helps you build muscle. The more lean muscle mass you have the more efficient you are...in essence you can consume more calories relative to your bodyweight as you need to fuel more muscle.
We need to talk...
Most of us know what we need to do to improve our health/weight/fitness levels. We just need that umph to get us going. But let's cover some truths about where to start and what might be going wrong.
Are you gaining weight?
You are consistently consuming over your needed calorie intake for your given bodyweight.
Is your weight fairly static?
You are consistently consuming enough calories to maintain your current weight.
Are you losing weight?
You are consistently producing a negative calorie balance through consuming fewer calories or by exercising.
What's the best exercise for getting rid of your belly fat?
You cannot choose where your fat is broken down from. You need to create a calorie deficit through food or exercise to reduce body fat. To get a "flat" stomach you need to focus on plank progressions and roll out type exercises.
What's the best exercise to do for fat loss?
Choose exercise that you enjoy doing and do more of it. Building muscle does help improve a whole host of things but just get moving first.
My friend is on the "XYZ" diet will it work for me?
It depends. Any diet aims to leave you in a calorie deficit. If you can handle the lack of whatever food is being removed then it may work in the short to medium term.
My friend has stopped eating "Insert food type or product here" and lost weight, what do you think?
Your friend has cut calories. The majority of the time when you cut a food group or product from your routine you don't replace it. The result is you are consistently eating less calories (see point 3 above). It isn't the lack of that particular food that has caused the weight loss it is the lack of calories.
How can I tone up?
Toning is the reduction of body fat combined with having muscle mass. So in other words you want to lose fat and gain muscle. This is a tricky conundrum as gaining muscle requires extra calories and losing fat requires fewer calories. By using resistance training (i.e kettlebells, bodyweight, weights) you can create a calorie deficit through exercise and that will help create muscle tone.
I don't want to use weights and get too big?
This will not happen. I will say it again, this will not happen. It takes years of programmed training and a spot on diet to get "big". How many times have you actually heard anyone say they got so big and muscly they had to stop going to gym?
This will not happen.
Anything I've missed please ask away or send me an email/message and look out for similar posts soon.
I love to learn and continue to development my skills and knowledge in health and fitness. One area that I have gained a greater understanding is pre and post-natal exercise prescription. Being a husband to a wife of two c-sections, the qualification seemed a perfect fit and a great addition to help many women on their road to birth and recovery.
The course went through a logical sequence, going from explaining what happens to a woman from conception to post-partum. I won't go into detail on everything, but here are the key things I learned and took away from the syllabus.
- Hormonal and physiological changes that occur and how these change over each trimester. The hormone relaxin plays a big part in what happens to women during pregnancy. One of its roles is to prepare and allow the body to adapt to a growing baby and then to assist in the delivery of said baby. It allows the uterus, pelvic and pubis area to expand and change. Although this is targeted at the joints and ligaments that need this change it can affect other parts of the body and this is where range of motion, stretching and exercise adaptation will be needed to ensure that damage isn't done. Along with these can come side effects such as sickness, nausea and change in appetite. These will all affect how a women is feeling and may lead to amendments in training schedules.
- The importance of pelvic floor muscles, exercise, and posture at all stages.
- The benefits and risks of exercise during pregnancy. This was covered fairly well and a large number of benefits were explained; although a few risks were mentioned including hypoxia (reduced blood flow to the foetus) and supine hypotensive syndrome (lack of blood flow to the mother’s heart), at the end of the element, it did place a big caveat on the information saying that there is no evidence that links these to exercise during pregnancy but as with many things they are risks and common sense would say we don't want to increase their chances during pregnancy.
-Nutrition over the trimesters. This section of the course covers which foods to avoid during pregnancy and is still valid from recent readings. It states to not eat raw fish, raw meat or pate along with other things.
- Exercise prescription. Here the course content covered the different elements that are needed to be considered during the initial stages through to recovery. It explains the mechanical effects pregnancy has on the body and discusses what to look out for in clients to help determine their level of recovery. Some simple observations and adaptations would be that as the baby grows and the woman becomes larger at the front, by around the end of the first trimester exercises in the prone (face down) and supine (face up) positions should be reduced or minimised. This would probably naturally occur as many would feel uncomfortable in those positions. Changing from elliptical-trainer to recumbent bike; this simple change in equipment choice later in pregnancy can help ease or prevent pubis synthesis pain (pain around the pelvis). Also the need to stop all resistance training during pregnancy is false. I would agree it is not the time to take up extreme kettlebells or begin heavy Olympic lifting but, maintaining your gym routine and keeping active is key to a healthy you and baby. You can still achieve a very effective training programme whilst pregnant whether that be strength training, running, swimming or boot-camping. It just means that the PT or instructor must amend and adapt the training to suit you (which should be their job, right?) and still allow you to swing the kettlebell and lift the barbell until further changes need to be made.
- Recovery. This is different for everyone and does need a doctors sign off usually after the 6 week mark. But in terms of exercise planning during the recovery, it is almost the pre stage in reverse. Your goal is to slowly get back to where you were before giving birth and then gradually rebuild your strength, range of motion and fitness through layering of exercise prescription.
APPLICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION
Most of the mums who have attended Get Fit have joined around 12-24 months after their last baby. This isn't to say that they could not have started sooner, but it seems to be a time when they have finally got time and a lifestyle that allows them to get out and get their body back to full strength. It is this time gap that can also present some issues as most have done minimal exercise and although have recovered are not back to where they were before the birth in terms of fitness levels and/or core repair.
For me, there are two areas that I ask them to focus on: the core and glutes. I still also recommend kegel and PFM exercises in most cases as a lot of the ladies just weren't aware of what to do in the initial stages after having their babies. I explain neutral positioning and how to try to involve this in everyday life and throughout the sessions. Most of the exercises we do are compound exercises, so involve many muscles. I stay away from crunches and sit ups which suits quite well with postpartum women and many clients to be honest. A lot also complain of weak or bad backs, so creating a strong frame and base is where I like to start.
I use plank progressions, hollowing and leg raise progressions to target the core. This varies person to person in terms of their level of recovery including diastasis recti (separation of the abs) and doming (a dome shape occurring when sitting up at around your belly button). From the outset I try to get them to strengthen their glutes through various exercises including squats, goblet squats, step ups and kettlebell swings. If they strengthen their glutes it will ultimately help create good posture and fix the lower back issues.
For me its all about 3 factors:
- Being realistic in terms of your starting point after the birth (remember your level of fitness before the birth).
- Start early (during all trimesters and within days of giving birth) and be consistent with kegel and PFM exercises
- Keep your nutrition on track; during all trimesters try your best to fuel your baby’s growth yet keep your own health in check (this can be only be a few extra hundred calories, you are not actually eating for two adults).
So to the 3 P's; Planning, Pre-natal and post-natal. You could class it as pre but, I honestly think that even if people are thinking and planning to have a baby then they should start to focus on preparing their body as early as possible, that way they are in the best starting position once things like morning sickness or hormonal changes kick in. Every health advantage you can gain will help not only in the pregnancy but in the actual birth and recovery. The pre-natal is all about monitoring how you change and adapting to how you feel and what is happening with your visible signs and also things like your recovery, your heart rate and how you feel during your exercise sessions. A simple tip here is to keep a log, not only of the times, weights etc...but the way you felt throughout and after your sessions. Then as things change you can see for yourself and realise that it is just part of the amazing process.
Stay strong mummas!
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!
Me, myself and I posting information about fitness, health and many things wellness.