Results in Real Life

I had a bad week at work. Stressful and early mornings, late nights.

It did two things for me. Firstly when I’m stressed I want to comfort eat which tends to make me feel worse. It also meant I just got out of step with what would make me feel better. When I got in late I either ate quick fast food or just grabbed some toast, in the morning I grabbed more toast at the office. This meant my resolve was low to saying no to the many cakes in the office because simply put, I was already hungry and had limited food already prepped (I did have lunch prepared so I at least had a proper cooked meal for lunch). My brain kind of set into a cycle where I hit the fuck it button with my diet. I kind of trained a bit but I didn’t feel committed to it so all in all I felt rubbish.

You can prepare all you want for the week ahead but sticking to intentions is tough when you face changes to your plans. It goes to show diets and fitness plans aren’t just knowledge dependent, although of course that is the first step, they’re also very mindset based and having the ability to remain consistent in the face of life is the key to getting results. That isn’t about doing everything right no matter what happens, but it is about being able to bounce back from rubbish days and keep going so that you do what you planned more often than you don’t.

What should you look for in a PT?

What should you look for in a PT?

There’s lots of ways you can work with a PT now: one on one, small group, online programming, apps. Beyond cost, what do you look for when deciding who to go to?

Maybe it’s location, if you want to train in person that will be a big factor; but it could also be their specialisms, experience, how fit they look, how comfortable they make you feel, the recommendation from people you trust or their client testimonials.

All of these things are valid reasons, ultimately you’re picking someone to work with based on things that are important and relevant to you is key, and here’s where I think the most important factor in looking for someone to work with comes in.

Do they get ‘you’. Specifically can they understand your pain points, identify how they affect your fitness and help you work around them?

We all have some sort of pain points, whether you think it or not, Some may be more obvious than others.

If you deal with depression or anxiety, that’s going to have an effect on how you train. Shift worker, busy mum, student; all these things can affect your training and diet.

Whether your issue is with fitting in gym sessions in the first place, struggling to focus during sessions, struggling to pluck up the courage to go to the gym or anything else in between; what you want is a PT who can understand that issue and help you with that.

Because in reality getting a gym plan is useful. Having someone tell you what to do in the gym gives you focus. A good PT will programme your sessions to incorporate progression and work specifically towards your goals.

All of that is useless though if it doesn’t work around your pain points. A good coach doesn’t just give you the right exercises for you, they understand the obstacles you face and look at how you can overcome them. That has an effect on what they have you do.

That doesn’t mean they have to have lived your experience, of course that can help but it’s not essential, but they need to be willing to listen, pin point the issues their clients faced and think about how to incorporate solutions into workouts.

If you struggle to stick to workouts or get results, a plan and a coach who can help you work around yourself and the things that keep tripping you up might make a difference. It might not make fitness feel easy but it might make a difference to your results.

Weight Loss & Diets … Dirty Words

My latest podcast all about diets and losing weight … how we view it in society and on social media these days and why it’s still ok to want to lose weight along with a bit about why you might be finding it tough to actually reduce the number in the scales

https://anchor.fm/heather-sherwood/episodes/Diets-and-Weight-Loss–Dirty-Words-e1nm3r7

The Queen

After a 70 year reign the Queen passed away yesterday.

Monarchist or not most people could find something to admire in the Queen. She dedicated her life, at the age of 21, to representing her nation for the length of her life, and after coming to the throne at 25 she did so right up until her last days, inviting the new Prime Minister to form a Government only two days prior to her death.

Her family may have caused a number of controversies over the years but throughout the Queen remained scandal free, and was by and large a symbol of duty, service and a kind of moral compass to the Nation.

Yes, she had wealth and the privilege that comes with and never had to worry about bills, or having enough to eat like many women her age. She didn’t seek out her role however, and whether you agree or not with the principle of monarchy, she felt that she had a duty to carry out her role and she did take that duty seriously. In the early years of her reign she picked duty over her sister and I’m sure there were many other times, right up to Prince Harry stepping back where she had to make tough calls that went against her own personal wishes, but she took the view of what she thought was right and proper.

During the Pandemic, it was the Queen’s address to the Nation that caused comfort far more than those of the politicians in charge. She was a bit like the Grandmother of the Nation, someone with the calmness that comes with age and experience. The image of her sitting alone at her husbands funeral, whilst her Prime Minister flouted his own rules at parties demonstrated her commitment to follow the rules and do what is right, regardless of her wealth and status.

There are not many of us who will remember a time before we had a Queen. My mum was born the year of her Coronation, she was already thirty years into her reign when I was born. To me, the Queen as a young person at all is a foreign idea that I’ve seen only in video footage or on the Crown – she was 55 when I was born. So she is quite simply, a fixture of the Nation, God Save the King sounds strange, money and stamps have always had her face on, it’s the Queens Speech – the Kings Speech is a film about the war.

In this blog, which is of course fitness based, I talk often about Anchors, the small things that we do that keep us well and grounded and feeling ok. The Queen was an Anchor for the Nation, a figure head that was just there, really, how often did you ever think about it? She is probably the only Monarch of her type we will ever see. In years gone by when people didn’t live as long and the Monarchy changed between Dynasties, Kings and Queens came and went often and people may see more than a couple in their life time. The Queen came to the throne young because her Father died young, Charles is already over 70, he will not see a Jubilee, but equally if he lives until his Mothers age William will also be at Retirement age before he becomes King and George the same. Save illness or accident we are unlikely to see another Monarch like the Queen, someone who presides over so much change in technology and society.

For this her reign truly was remarkable.

Things that affect weight loss

Our weight can be affected by lots of things and being aware of the things in our life that might have an impact can be helpful, for instance:

  1. Sleep – When you are tired you not only have less energy to move but are also more likely to eat more in an effort to feel more energetic.  Lack of sleep can also have an impact on your hormones and this too can affect your appetite and cause you to eat more than you need.
  2. Stress- The more stressed we are the more our cortisol levels increase which has shown to cause weight to be stored around our midsection more easily. Feeling like you are constantly in a state of flight or fight can also affect our hormones and affect our weight.
  3. Age- Our metabolism does slow with age and so (especially for women around menopause where estrogen levels start to decrease) it can feel like it’s harder to maintain our weight as we get older.  This is probably heightened by the fact that weight distribution can also change as we age (so we start to notice new ‘problem’ areas we’d never noticed before).
  4. Hydration Levels – Dehydration affects our body functioning properly and can affect amongst other things digestion.  Some people will also confuse thirst with hunger, so whilst the old ‘you’re not hungry drink a glass of water’ saying may feel like outdated diet twaddle, if you haven’t drank much that day but have eaten recently you may indeed actually be thirsty.
  5. Genes- Yes how and where we gain weight is affected by genes and also family background, how we were taught to approach food , our families eating habits and so on will likely subconsciously affect how we think about food now and may be the source of some of our misconceptions about diets and certain food groups.
  6. Medication – Everyone reacts differently to medications but for some weight gain can be a side effect from taking medication long term. That may be because they cause carb cravings, water retention, affect your metabolism, increase appetite (some medications do the opposite and supress your appetite).  Some medical conditions themselves can have an effect on your weight, be it through appetite changes or being less able to exercise / move, and thyroid conditions for instance have a direct effect on your weight away from food and movement.

All of these things can affect our weight and how easily we might find it to lose weight, of course this is just a selection of a variety of circumstances and factors that can play a part.

But whilst it’s good to be aware of these things (and beyond weight reducing stress, sleeping more, drinking more water are going to have a positive effect on us) let’s not forget that they alone are unlikely (medical conditions aside) to be the sole reason you aren’t losing weight. 

If you are eating more calories than you are burning a day that is the reason you are not losing (or even gaining) weight. Your medication might be making it harder, stress and lack of sleep may not be helping,  but these things are great things to review either for the other benefits they bring or as additional considerations AFTER you have established whether your energy in versus energy out is where it should be.

Think of it like trying to ice a cake before it’s cooked.  You need to get the absolute basics (calories) right before looking into the minute (lifestyle factors, macros, whether your Deadlift on a Monday or Friday) aspects of your life for the results to turn out as you’d like.

Calories in a 1 Minute Read

  • The Energy Balance Equation = Calories in V Calories Out
  • You burn a certain amount of calories just existing (Your BMR)
  • You burn some calories depending on your activity levels through the day
  • This combined is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
  • This is your Calories Out
  • Everything you eat has a calorific value, everything you eat in a day gives you Calories In.
  • If Calories In and Calories Out are equal consistently you will maintain your current weight
  • If Calories In is more than Calories Out consistently (creating a surplus) you will gain weight
  • If Calories In is less than Calories Out consistently you will lose weight
  • Calories In being less than Calories out is the definition of a Calories Deficit
  • Consistently is the key word, one day in surplus or deficit will not make a difference
  • If you want to lose weight and are not you need to review Calories In
  • You could keep Calories In the same and look at increasing Calories Out but this may be difficult to do depending on your current activity levels
  • It may be ideal to look at both reducing Calories In a little and increasing Calories Out a little
  • Calories are calories regardless of whether they come from fat, carbs or protein. Different amounts of calories make up different foods but when it comes to being in a calorie deficit how those calories are made up is not relevant

Getting Started – An Update

Have you ever noticed how much how you feel about your body and how you feel about you diet / training are interlinked?

When you feel good in yourself training and eating feel good and easy and that tends to make you feel better about how you look at the same time. Equally when you feel a bit rubbish it’s so much more tempting to comfort eat and easier to feel self conscious in the gym and lack motivation. It’s almost like a vicious circle where because you don’t feel great it’s so much harder to stick to the habits which make you fee better.

I’ve really found this to be the case since Covid. After lockdown, changes in my teaching patterns, injuries, changes in my personal life, all coming as a kind of perfect storm, I’ve really struggled to regain strength and lose gained weight and this is largely because I’ve struggled with motivation and body image at the changes to my body shape which I perceive as negative (negative comments from some people haven’t helped here).

I’ve been working on the basis that just getting started helps with motivation and trying to make myself do things regardless of how I feel with the hope that this will start to manifest itself in feeling better. It hasn’t helped that works been stressful but I’ve tried to keep doing small things regardless. It’s been frustrating because I’ve still felt bloated and I’ve had an outbreak of spots. Then this morning I woke up and thought urgh I feel bluegh but then realised I’d started my period, I suppose that explains the bloating and spots! So there’s another thing to remember about motivation and body image, your hormones are going to influence these things as much as your habits so sometimes you can do everything right and still need to accept you’ll have bad patches you need to ride out.

Right now I do feel fat and weak and slow and unfit, I have to accept that whilst I keep rebuilding habits that will help me turn that feel around because the changes won’t happen without me keeping going regardless of how I feel at the time.

NEAT in seconds

NEAT

  • Burns more calories per day than exercise
  • Measuring your daily steps is an easy way to monitor / increase your NEAT
  • Generally a goal of 10,000 steps per day is considered to be good for the average person
  • 20,000 steps a day would be considered active
  • If 10,000 currently seems unachievable look at your daily average right now and try and increase it by 10% for the next week. Keep doing this every few weeks as you adjust to the change.
  • Each 1,000 steps added to a person’s day reduces risk of mobility loss
  • Don’t just focus on steps though, think about moving more in general (dancing, playing with the kids, housework, shopping)

Food v Exercise

I don’t know about you but I find it so much harder to keep my nutrition in check compared to training.

People always seem to think that the training is the hardest and most important part of a weight loss goal.  In reality though exercise forms a small part of your daily energy expenditure (even if you train everyday) and as it is a calorie deficit that results in weight loss it stands to reason that your energy intake is likely to be a bigger variable each day than expenditure is and therefore more likely to negatively affect weight loss.

Plus in reality, once you get into a habit training regularly isn’t actually that hard.. If you can find something you enjoy doing it will be less hard work getting the training in and more a part of your day you look forward to.

Food on the other hand can be tricky. Trying to eat a balanced diet, stay within a calorie goal and still eat foods you enjoy often enough you don’t end up on a crazy binge is tough.  There are far more variables to contend with here and we often have a more emotional relationship with food, which adds to the challenge.

So it’s perhaps unsurprising that although I feel like my training is getting back to a more consistent state and I feel better for that, my nutrition feels much less in check.

For the last few weeks I’ve focused on the training side and let myself feel more comfortable with my routine, this week I’m going to focus on what I’m eating.

To do this I’m trying to eat higher protein and to my calories each day, not trying to go super low with calories, so that  I end up getting really hungry and eating a horse (and by horse I mean whole cake).  Instead I’m trying to plan in tasty meals and snacks which won’t leave me hungry so I have less urge to grab additional higher calorie snacks.

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday posts. Posts where people either:

a) Post a motivational quote telling you to just go and do something

b) Post what they’ve done that morning

Both of these can be motivating. That little kick in the form of a meme, seeing what others have done pushing you to getting up and going to do something themselves.

They can also be a bit pointless though. If your posting them to motivate yourself fair enough, and if it does the job super, but if it’s to motivate the reader I think they sometimes backfire.

I mean I’ve posted them before too, but in reality, for every person they do motivate there are people who will look and go so what, you’ve done that doesn’t mean I can, or even look at it and just feel bad that you’re doing amazing things whilst they can’t find the motivation.

Here’s what I think is a more motivating Monday Motivation type of post.

What do you need to do when you feel unmotivated?

You need to do something, any one thing to get started. Book a class, order a pair of trainers, go for a walk on your lunch break, go to the gym after work and do ANYTHING it doesn’t matter what, buy some fruit and veg on the way home from work, cook a simple nutritious dinner with enough left over for lunch tomorrow.

Doing that one thing, whatever it is, will make you feel a bit better, in control, organised. It will provide momentum to do another small thing and then another and there you have it, you start to see results or feel a bit better in yourself and before you even realise, you have your motivation.