Go Hard or Go Home?

I am knackered. Honestly, this week there’s been times when my eyes could close by themselves as I sit at my desk. I think it’s because even though I worked and trained between Christmas and New Year, I still did a lot less than usual, had more rest, more early nights, more lie ins. This last two week I’ve been up at 6am or earlier most days, works been busy, I’m back to teaching and fitting in training and running too. Obviously I ate more too, and now I’m, trying to reduce my calorie intake a bit.

This is the time of the year when you want to make lots of positive changes but it’s also the time of year when you need to get yourself back in he swing of things. The two don’t always go perfectly hand in hand, because making yourself too tired isn’t going to help you stick to the changes your making.

I’ve skipped a couple of planned runs this week, just to get a bit more rest and reduce how tired I feel. I know that in a few weeks once I’ve readjusted to my normal routine again I won’t feel as tired, it’s just something I need to manage myself back into.

If you’re completely new to exercise though, have jumped in with both feet, and suddenly feel like you’ve been hit by a bus, remember that you don’t have to do everything all at once and that whilst your body will adjust to an increase in activity, too much too soon can be detrimental. I think you are much more likely to give up on a new habit if it feels too hard.

Ambition is great, setting big goals is too. Go hard or go home isn’t always the best way to look at these things though.

Project 40 – 2023

Hands up if the first week of the year has been a bit of a false start?

We start January 1st with good intentions but it’s always a hard first week back, you still have loads of Christmas food, going back to work after a break is tiring and generally we have a bit of a Christmas hangover.

You don’t have to start new habits on 1st January though, not doing so doesn’t preclude you from starting at any other point in the year.

More than that, habits don’t have to be all or nothing. If you’ve made a start this week but have been a bit hit and miss that’s ok.

Hitting 80% of what you’ve aimed to do 80% of the time will still bring better results that a few super strict days now and then nothing the rest of the year.

I’ve trained and eaten ok this week but still had off days, tomorrow I start back with a. Bit more focus on my diet and a bit more intensity in my training (bigs goals set for myself this year).

If you’ve been beating yourself up for not having the best start to the year so far you can still make the changes you want.

2023 Goals

If you’re looking to make changes or set yourself some challenges for 2023, it isn’t enough to just want things to change, you need to work out what actions you need to take to make those changes happen.

Here’s a podcast all about goals, what, why and how…


New Years Non Resolutions

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. 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. Right now, 2 days before New Year Day – if you’re thinking about stopping drinking fizzy drinks – stop. Right now. Why wait until Friday? If you want to start running start running – these things aren’t banned until January 1st. 

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 2023. 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 2023 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. 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.

Christmas Day Food Survival

Christmas Day Food Survival Guide

You’re going to eat a drink a lot so just say fuck it and eat like a dick (this is my preferred strategy) … But if you want some tips…

– I like to go for a short run first thing – Wakes me up, fresh air and then I really enjoy breakfast

– Have a decent breakfast – I’m a fan of something like a bacon buttie (with Bucks Fizz) – will fill you up until the main event

– Christmas Dinner is actually a pretty nutritious event – enjoy it!

– ALL THE CHOCOLATE now look if there’s one day a year not to enter it all into MFP this is it – but if you want to show restraint get a bowl, fill it and limit yourself to that

– Cheese and biscuits – Again if you must be careful stick to one plate – go for the stronger cheeses as you don’t tend to need as much of these to be satisfied

– Think about having some water as well as all the alcohol to stay hydrated!

But when all is said an done remember it’s one day a year when you hopefully get to spend it with people you care about, don’t spend all the time thinking about your diet – all that fitness stuff will still be there in a few day!

Diet Tips for Travelling In The Festive Season

Diet Tips for Travelling In The Festive Season

If you find yourself travelling to see friends and family over the festive period you might also find yourself eating more calories than normal as you end up grabbing food and drink on trains, at stations and airports.

Here’s a few tips for damage limitation whilst travelling:

1. If you can, eat your nearest main meal (breakfast / lunch / dinner) at home before you travel, that way you’ll be less likely to need to grab fast food on vour journey

2. If you do need to eat on the go and are travelling by train buy your snacks at a supermarket near or in the station rather than at the fast food outlets – you’ll find it easier to pick up something lower in calories (perhaps some ready cooked chicken and a salad). This is also likely to be cheaper than buying food on the actual train.

3. If you’re at an airport consider somewhere like Costa where you can normally get a bacon roll – protein and carbs, filling but not as high in calories as a burger from the pub.

4. Meal deals are great for your purse but not always for your waistline – don’t buy the chocolate or crisps to go with your sandwich just because it’s more cost effective. If you fancy them fine, but if you’re only picking them up because you may as well reconsider (or buy them and give them to someone else – a little random act of kindness)

5. Coffee calories add up. If you’re going on a long trip and are likely to have multiple coffees consider switching from high calorie lattes, mocha etc to an Americano

Surviving the Christmas Party – Fitness Edition

Surviving the Christmas Party – Fitness Edition

1. Will there be food? Find out what’s on offer beforehand so you can pick (if there’s the option to pick) or plan the calories into your week to stay on track

2. Can you eat beforehand? Depending on what food will be available eating before you go might stop the kebab munchies on the way home

3. Skip breakfast. A hard one for me as I LOOOOVE breakfast but if you know you’ll eat a lot later maybe having brunch or skipping breakfast will help you stay within your calorie goal for the day

5. Think about your drinks. Now if you don’t go out often I’d highly suggest just having fun and drinking whatever the fuck you want. But if you’ve lots of parties and are worried about the calories in all the alcohol consider favouring a gin and tonic / Vodka and lime over creamy cocktails which tend to be higher in calories

6. The hangover. Often it’s the next day where you really go overboard on your calories. If you know you go overboard when hungover consider pacing yourself on the night. Perhaps having a glass of water in between each drink and having a glass of water before bed to keep yourself hydrated.

Project 40- Week 7

Honestly December has just been a cough.

It’s starting to ease now but I’ve just been laid up with this never ending cough, and it’s not just the cough that’s caused issues.

I’ve pulled muscles and put my back out coughing, have had trouble keeping food down and trouble sleeping just with how aggressive it has been and to be honest it gets you down after a while.

It makes training almost impossible and cooking hard because you just have no energy and generally feeling run down doesn’t make you feel good about yourself does it.

I even had to cancel a trip I’d planned to the Christmas Markets in Cologne because there was no way I’d have lasted outside in the current weather feeling like I do.

I can see the end of the tunnel now though. Let’s be honest of course, Christmas is almost here and a calorie deficit isn’t likely unless I want to be a Scrooge. I am looking forward to being able t train a little over the next week or two before a proper re – focus in January.

Over Indulged?

We all have days when we over indulge – whether that be food, alcohol or both. It’s not a case of trying to never do that because that would make life pretty miserable. We can however choose to respond more positively to these over indulgences so we don’t sabotage our results in the long term.

Over the Christmas period this is going to happen more often that normal so creating some positive responses to days or evenings of overindulgence is important!

So what do you do if you’ve had over indulged?

Do drink more water/

Depending on how you over indulged you may be dehydrated, but regardless extra water will make you feel fresher.

Don’t do extra exercise/

Avoid using exercise as a punishment for over eating as this will create a negative association with training, plus if you have a hangover exercise isn’t really what you want to be doing.

Do use the extra calories to fuel your next workout/

Whilst you don’t want to add extra training in you could use those extra calories to push yourself harder in your next scheduled workout and come out feeling really good.

Don’t starve yourself/

Punishing yourself by drastically reducing your calories in the days after will create a negative cycle of eating. You could look to slightly reduce your calorie intake for a few days subsequently (couple of hundred calories max) but reducing what you eat

dramatically to make amends will only make you feel worse.

Do eat nutrient rich / dense foods the next day/

Eat foods that will both fill you up and make you feel good the next day, making you feel better without starving and allowing you to mentally get back on track.

Don’t skip meals/

By the same token don’t purposefully skip meals to try and compensate.

Do Move on/

One bad meal or day doesn’t define your diet overall, so rather than punish yourself for it look at it as a day / meal you enjoyed and focus on the next day / meal instead.

Don’t scrap the rest of the week/

Try moving on straight away instead of saying well I may as well start again Monday now. This essentially ensures damage limitation.