Weight

If you started a weight loss journey at the start of January you might have found you’ve dropped a few pounds already.  Often at the start of any kind of change in eating patterns we can see a sudden dip on the scales.  That will start to slow / plateau out naturally after a few weeks though.  However that doesn’t mean you aren’t still getting results.  Our weight naturally fluctuates across the day / week / month so using the scales alone to monitor progress can end up being demotivating. 

Here’s a few other ways to monitor your progress which are far more reliable:

  1. Take pictures- front, back, side and compare across the weeks to see a difference in body shape.
  2. Take measurements of your thighs, upper arm, waist, chest and keep track of inch loss.
  3. Keep a pair of trousers that are maybe a bit tight to one side and try on every few weeks to see how the fit changes.
  4. Keep a journal of your mood, water intake, sleep, steps, lifts, running PBs and see how much better you feel as the weeks progress and your fitness improves, you might find you end up not even bothered about your weight.     

One Small Hack

This week I’m trying a little hack to reduce my calorie intake.

Quite simply I’m swapping breakfast for a Whey protein shake 4 days a week.  I normally have a breakfast of around 400-450 calories a day, whereas a shake is around 90 calories thus reducing my intake by about 300-350 calories a day.

It’s actually easier too because it reduces the amount of meal prep I need to do.  On the days I have more time in the morning I’m still going to make breakfast, because it’s one of my favourite meals of the day when not rushed.

If you’re trying to lose weight not everything you do has to be dramatic or complicated.  

DOMS

If you’re new to training and have just joined a gym you might be experiencing a little muscle soreness after your workouts right now. We call this Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS and it’s nothing to worry about, it’s your bodies reaction o doing something new. Here’s a few things to remember:

  1. DOMS are temporary — depending on how intense they are you will feel OK again in about two to four days without having to do anything (if you don’t feel better by then it might be an injury).
  2. Make sure you warm-up and cool-down. Making sure your muscles are prepared for exercise and safely recover from physical stress can help reduce the likelihood of DOMs (they won’t guarantee you won’t get them though).
  3. Build up the intensity of your training slowly. If you’re brand new to any type of training and don’t build up your weights / distance etc. your body will react more dramatically to the stress (plus you increase the risk of injury).
  4. If you’re suffering from DOMs try gently massaging the area affected (tip getting a deep tissue massage will not make you feel less sore!). Likewise using a foam roller to gently roll out your sore muscles may help.
  5. Keep moving whilst you have DOMs. Not really intense exercise, allow your muscles to recover – but getting the blood flowing and muscles moving (walking, easy biking, swimming) can help you feel better.
  6. Drink lots of water – drinking water makes everything feel better!

Advice for the gym 2022

  1. Don’t try and go from never exercising to trying to every day, you’ll feel rubbish when you don’t succeed, knackered and possibly end up injured.  Instead aim to exercise 2-3 times a week which is far more attainable long term.
  2. Don’t cut out carbs, fat, chocolate (it’s a food group) or anything else.  Moderation is key to sustainable weight loss as it’s far more sustainable long term.
  3. Drink more water.  It’s the best health tip you can get, makes you feel better and more energetic and is just good for you.
  4. Gyms aren’t scary once you get used to them, the most nerve wracking thing is walking in but once you’re there you’ll see everyone is friendly.  Get a gym induction or sign up for classes so you can learn the ropes with a gym instructor or exercise instructor, most of the time that’s included in the membership fee.
  5. You won’t get bulky lifting weights.  Like seriously, do you know how hard it is to get that ripped.  What you will get is stronger, more confident, leaner.  There’s nothing wrong with also doing some cardio but incorporating resistance training into your week will see huge benefits to your fitness.

What the PT Ordered

Like most PTs I’ve done a few gym inductions this week, set people up with a plans to get started and so on. Those plans have varied depending on people’s goals, experience and health / injuries. Everything I programmed has it’s purpose and reason. There could be other ways they could train of course, but what I have suggested will help them gain confidence in the gym, get comfortable with movement patterns and key lifts (with modified moves to start with for some). I could have given them more flashy sexy looking programmes but that where I haven’t it’s because I think that would have been confusing, overwhelming and just not what they need at this particular time. I’m not a PT to show people how much I know, I’m there to help others learn to enjoy moving.

Some of these clients however have had people they know say to them ‘oh you need to lift more / go deeper / use a bar or weight.’ As well meaning as that will have been all it’s done is knock their confidence and confuse them when what they were doing was already effectively getting them started on a fitness journey. Keeping things simple isn’t always a bad thing and it might not be for you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for someone else. There’s so many was to train, the best way for one individual isn’t the only way.

Similarly, whilst someone trying to (with good intention) correct the form of someone who is just learning a movement pattern and is moving perfectly safely but just not perfectly isn’t always helpful. Remember when you first started lifting and were trying to remember multiple things? You won’t have had great technique let’s face it. Sometime moving safely and getting used to that pattern then working on improving technique week by week, point by point is going to be more confidence boosting and motivating than feeling rubbish because they can’t get everything right straight away.

My adice.

If you want to get started in the gym and are new, get a plan (most gyms will do one when you sign up as part of your membership) and if your family of friends say ‘oh no don’t do that do this’ remember the gym instructor is trained to plan something specific to you, and whilst your mate might be a regular gym goer it doesn’t mean they have the skill set to safely help you get the most out of getting started. Accept their support and encouragement but know that there is more than one way to skin a cat so doing something differently to others doesn’t make it wrong.

If you have a friend or relative starting at the gym this year and they are working with a PT, encourage them and support them and letting the PT provide the training advice is the best way you can support them.

Lean into Discomfort

If you’ve made some changes in the new year now is when it’s about to get tough.

Typically the first couple of days into something new aren’t too bad, any discomfort is balanced out by some optimism for the new. After that shine starts to wear off but it’s not yet a habit and no results can yet be seen, that is when it starts to get hard.

Because new breeds motivation but doesn’t last.

Results breed motivation but you need to do the habit for a while to see them.

Habits don’t require motivation but you’ve got to purposefully do the thing consistently first to create the habit.

So here is where it might feel difficult. Here is where you have to lean into a bit of discomfort and do things when you don’t want to, or say no to things when you want to say yes, or work when you would rather rest.

The thing is if nothing changes then nothing changes. So if every time you try and make a change you give up as soon as it gets hard noting will change. So if you do really want to make a change in 2022 and it starts to feel tough in the next few days / weeks, know it will get easier if you keep going but you have to lean into discomfort for a little while.

New Year New You

How’s your new year going?

It’s always really tempting to start your new year changes as of 1st, because it feels like a clear slate.

In reality though, chances are you haven’t yet started and that’s ok.  Being real, 1st is generally still Christmas for a lot of us and this week will be the reality of going back into work and emails and to do lists and urgent jobs, which after a week or so sitting on the sofa is likely to feel knackering.

Remember it’s ok to start a new habit, hobby, training plan, calorie counting, whatever your new goal may be at any point in the year.

It doesn’t have to be 1st January, it doesn’t even need to be a Monday.

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t started yet.  Don’t beat yourself up if you started and have slipped up.  In fact this year don’t beat yourself up at all, if something doesn’t go to plan just brush yourself down and get back on it.

Toxic Diet Culture?

Today I saw a post referring to calorie counting / losing weight (dieting) as toxic.

Toxic!

In 2022 can we please stop referring to anything we don’t personally like as toxic? Because whilst calorie counting may not be right for everyone that doesn’t mean it’s toxic. same with weight loss.

Now, quick caveat, there are people for whom calorie counting isn’t a good idea, it can indeed for some become obsessive and be damaging. For those people yes calorie counting is not to be encouraged.

But for many calorie counting is the most simple straight forward, cost effective and practical way of creating a calorie deficit – which if you want to lose weight – is what you need to achieve.

So let’s reframe the notion that calorie counting is toxic. Calorie counting is simply a method of tracking energy intake which for some people will work well but whom for some may not be beneficial.

Swimming is a very good way to exercise. Except not for me, because I can’t swim. Does that mean swimming is toxic and a bad way to train, because it doesn’t suit me? Pretty sure everyone reading said no in their head just then.

Very few things in life are in themselves toxic, our relationship with something may well be toxic, that doesn’t mean it is also toxic for everyone else.

Diets get a bad rap, because traditionally they’ve been seen as restrictive and not sustainable. That’s really not the case these days. Most coaches will encourage sensible calorie deficits and won’t suggest you cut out food groups or stop eating your favourite foods.

Diets are just using a bit more energy than you consume each day to create a physical change in your body. Unless you’re doing that to please someone other than you it is not toxic.

Certain things might be a bit triggering to us personally, that doesn’t mean they’re automatically toxic, I think it’s a bit unhelpful to ourselves not to recognise that, as it puts all the responsibility for our reactions onto society, when in reality we can’t control what other people say or do so we have to instead look to control how we chose to react to it.

New Year New You?

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Up until a few years ago I did – I’ve made many New Year’s Resolutions over the years, in fact honestly I’d make the same resolutions year after year which I never kept.

These days I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions as such. Here’s why:

January is a shit time to make drastic changes

It’s cold, dark and everyone is depressed and skint after Christmas.  It’s a rubbish time to decide to suddenly make drastic and often restrictive changes to your life. Beyond that, with Covid we, let’s face it, have enough restrictions to contend with anyway.  Result is you feel miserable two days in and give up.  Planning to give up chocolate on January 1st when you probably have a shed load of left over chocolate in your cupboards is practically setting yourself up for failure. Deciding not to drink in the most miserable month of the year is going to become unappealing quickly.

Resolutions tend to be negative

Generally we say things like I’m going to give up… sugar, wine, chocolate, smoking.  It’s something we are NOT going to do anymore.  This means we feel like we are depriving ourselves.  Depriving yourself is rarely a long-term plan for success.

Resolutions tend to be vague

I want to lose weight, I want to get fit, I want to earn more money.  They are goals / outcomes we’d like to reach yes, but they aren’t very specific and how and when they will be achieved isn’t always clear.  How often do you make vague plans with a friend to ‘catch up soon’ only for that catch up to not happen?  It’s not because we don’t want to catch up it’s just because we’ve been too vague for anything to actually happen.  Resolutions can be a lot like that.

Resolutions end up leaving you feeling worse about yourself

If you don’t succeed then you feel like a failure. Yet if you set something too restrictive and ambitious you’re unlikely to stick to it and so you’re essentially setting yourself up to feel shit. 

Negatives out the way – I fully believe in improving things – here’s what I think is better than making New Year’s Resolutions and why:

Change when you are ready

There’s a popular saying that if you’ve thought about it you’re ready. You can chose to make a change any day of the year – it doesn’t have to be tomorrow.

Choosing to make positive changes

Positive changes are easier to put in place than ‘I won’t’ type changes. I will drink more water, I will eat vegetables with every meal, I will walk 10,000 steps a day. These are things you are going to do – so you do them and you’ve created a change. You might have also eaten ten chocolate bars but you’ve still eaten vegetables with every meal, the change has still happened. Positive changes make us feel better and so we are more likely to stick to them.

Goal setting over resolutions

I don’t make resolutions any more but I have sat down and done some goal setting for 2022. I have decided what I want to achieve, these are specific goals so they aren’t things like ‘I want to get fitter’ they are set things I’d like to get done, some will be quick and relatively easy others less so. Along with these goals I have made detailed plans of what I have to do to reach these specific goals and planned out realistic timescales for taking these actions. I’ve asked for feedback from people more experienced than me on these plans and discussed goals that include other people with them so we are on the same page. I know what I need to do personally and professionally in 2022 and how I plan to do it. I’ve got more chance of reaching these goals than if I left I chance.

SMART resolutions

Specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time specific.  If you goal ticks all these things you’re more likely to be able to reach it. 

Commit to creating habits / systems instead

If you want lose weight you could think of it as working towards creating habits that in turn help work towards weight loss.  Make drinking more water, creating a calorie deficit and training three times a week a habit and you will achieve your goal but you also find it is something that starts to fit into your everyday life as opposed to something you have to work towards constantly.  The benefit of this is you can pick one small thing to work on then once that has become a habit work on something else, building change gradually.

Re-framing how you think

Take a non fitness resolution (because it isn’t always about weight!) ‘I want to get over my ex and for them to see me looking happy.’ 

You could re-frame this thought process to what would make you happy?  Seeing your friends more perhaps? So instead of I want to get over my ex you could say I want to go out and do something fun with my friends once a week / fortnight / month (commitment and Tier depending here – but there is always Zoom I guess).  Instead of focusing on becoming happy or getting over someone you could just commit to doing something that has the potential to make you happy and allow feeling happy and getting over them to happen naturally – all the time your still succeeding in your actual goal.  It sounds very self help book but when you start to habitually re-frame your thoughts, you start to find it easier to make changes.

Whilst I’m at it – what do you read? Now I love a chick lit / crime thriller audio book, but I’d also recommend you consider some non fiction personal development books. I recently bought a couple of work books for things I want to work on this year, Amazon has books on anything you want to work on for yourself and it’s a small investment in working toward what you want to improve.

A New Year is a natural time to look to start things afresh but approached with more clarity and thought than just a New Years Resolution you can feel much better and positive come February, March, April and beyond.

I’m 80% Cheese

Ahhh so we hit that between Christmas and New Year time when we feel alike we consist entirely of Christmas Pudding and haven’t moved much further than from the sofa to the fridge.

It can make you feel sluggish and heavy and like you probably should do something drastic right?

This is the time when everyone tells you not to sign up for any drastic detoxes and embark on some drastic 800 calorie a day Vogue 1970s egg and wine style diet.

And yeah, don’t do that. What might make you feel a bit more virtuous for a few days is unlikely to last long, show any sustainable results and you’re likely to feel worse than you did at the start with an added layer of failed diet remorse.

There are of course better more sustainable ways to feel better in 2022 if that is your goal.

Calories deficits whilst eating normal food, moving more without punishing ridiculously dull workouts, drinking more water (you know the free stuff that comes from taps not some kind of hyped up fitness water at five quid a bottle), getting better sleep, more daylight, eating more fruit and veg. There’s plenty of habits you can incorporate which will help you feel more energetic and better in yourself without having to eat nothing dust.

The truth is these next few days aren’t necessarily the time to start anything much. You could but if you’ve still got a house full of Christmas food maybe it’s not the most realistic idea. But it is a decent time to think about goals, to make a plan so come the first week of January or so you’re ready.