Jump 4.2 – Week 4

I’ve reached the half way point of Jump.

This week was a tough week – work, people, my period; you know those weeks where you aren’t feeling it- I’ve had one of those.

But the great thing I’m finding about this programme is that doesn’t matter. Life doesn’t need to be going perfectly to be able to work through it. Even though there’s been frustrations I’ve not felt down about it – I’ve used habits already practiced on weeks 1-3 such as writing down what I’m grateful for and what I have done well to stop myself getting down about what hasn’t worked and to stay upbeat and keep working to get things done nonetheless.

Training has been ok – I’ve not completed everything but I’ve had some good sessions. My food intake has been ok – I haven’t hit a calorie deficit this week – mainly because I’ve craved chocolate. Again what I’m pleased with here is how I feel about that. Sometimes these things would stress me out and make me feel like a failure because I haven’t done things perfectly. Right now I feel like perfect isn’t a necessity and although I’ve things I’d like to improve in week 5 I don’t feel like not being perfect so far has meant my experience on this programme hasn’t been useful so far.

This week’s message from my experience would definitely be that it’s worth changing your mindset towards yourself and your training / nutrition when want to improve how you feel and train.

Post Holiday Blues

This is the time of year when you are likely to have recently come back from a holiday or will be returning home after one over the next few weeks.

I’m sure I’m not alone from returning from a holiday feeling all fresh and relaxed and brimming with good intentions.  Eating fresh food, rising early, being active, taking time out, spending time with loved ones all seem so easy on holiday and you come back determined to keep up this way of life.

Within a couple of weeks you can find yourself back to normal feeling like all those good habits you wanted to stick to have fallen by the wayside.  In a way it’s a bit like New Year Resolutions.  Post holiday is one of those times where you feel like it’s an opportunity for a fresh start so you create all these good intentions.

But actually, just like the first week of January (when you’ve still got left over Christmas chocolates, are skint and it’s cold and dark) post holiday is a really tough time to put new habits into place.

You come back and will have lots of washing to do, no food in and probably have to go back to work within a day or two.  You’ve just had a long journey and are a little bit knackered.  You go back into work to 5 million emails and a weeks worth of work to catch up on.  You probably caught a cold on the plane.

I, no word of a lie, came back and within a week had around 25 infected gnat bites and was on antibiotics and steroid cream!

The result is the first week back ends up being a bit of blur and keeping up those lovely habits seems like a second thought.  Days turn into weeks an before long you’ve forgotten about all those positive habits and feel a bit like you’ve failed in keeping up those holiday feelings.

How do we get around this?

I said the same in January and will say the same frequently throughout the year.  It’s about changing your attitude to change from ‘I must transform myself’ to ‘I can develop and nurture some good habits’.  Several small habits formed over time can add up to positive changes in how you feel in yourself and, more importantly, last, even being maintained during times of stress.

You could take the things you enjoyed from your holiday and make them the small habits you develop, in fact I did just that when I got back from holiday recently.

So if you vowed to keep up several things after your holiday and are annoyed with yourself, let that go and think about one small thing you could change now and just do that.

Are you a positive person?

Are you a positive person?

The whole positive vibe thing bugs me a bit.

Posting memes on Instagram with ‘good vibes only’ type of slogans.

No education, no advice about how to be positive, just a photo and a catchy caption.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it in itself, all the intentions are good I get that.

But I find it a bit unintentionally toxic.

Of course there are some great accounts where practical advice is offered on this topic and I actually love these accounts, they are not what I’m thinking about here.

I’m talking about the ones that just promote being happy. All. The. Time… but never really indicate what positive is or how to get to it.

Because actually, everyone sometimes feels a bit crap.  A bad day at work, an argument with someone you care about, bad news, general hormone induced moodiness, depression, anxiety.  There will always be days where you aren’t 100%.

To not acknowledge that doesn’t really help people who aren’t currently feeling really positive about life.

Because it isn’t as straight cut as you are either a positive person or a negative person.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim to have a positive outlook on life.  I’m simply saying that someone with a positive outlook will sometimes not feel positive.  Maybe for a few hours, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks.  I can pretty much guarantee everyone who’s ever posted a positive things only type of post has had days where that’s the last way they would describe their feelings.

The healthy thing here is to acknowledge those feelings and deal with them.

This is where I feel the positive vibes only mantra can actually end up making you feel worse.  Feeling bad for not feeling great, like this makes you a lesser human than all those super positive people on Facebook with their quotes and happy photos.

For me what is positive?

Those days when you really feel like shit.  But you get up and do what you need to do to make your day or week better.  Maybe that means on a Sunday all you really want to do is stay in bed but you get up and go food shopping and meal prep for the week or do laundry or tidy up.  Those little actions you don’t feel like doing but do because you know you’ll feel better the next day if they are done, you know your week will be more productive, so you look to make your future better even though right now you aren’t feeling it.

For me being positive is doing little things in the hope that those little actions might combine together to start making you feel a bit lifted.  To not hide away until it all feels sunny again but keep on going until the sun comes back out.

Above all it’s acknowledging that your feelings don’t need to be black and white – you don’t need to be positive OR negative, you can try to look on the positive side but have days where that just seems a bit too much, and when that happens you can just keep going, not forcing yourself to feel happy but just letting yourself be as you are for that moment.

Above all I believe your actions demonstrate your positive outlook.  Words are intentions.  You can have ambition but if you don’t take action they remain ambitions.  You can say positive things but if you don’t live by positive actions they are just words.  Positive actions aren’t just things like saving the rain forest or giving someone a kidney, they are doing the little things that make your life and the life of those around you a little bit better.

I have battled depression and anxiety, it’s better these days but it never really goes 100%.  Some days I do not feel great- my words (my self talk if you like) can be negative.  I’m not saying that’s a good thing, perhaps on those days if I were kinder to myself it would help.  But on those days you know what I still always do?  I show up.  Teach my classes, go to work, complete work I’ve agreed to do, do those bits of life admin I have to do.  Keeping going regardless of how I feel because I know just not doing things won’t help me feel brighter.  On those day my words might be negative but my actions are not, and I can guarantee you that combination helps me get back on track better that telling myself to be positive about things would.

Next time you look at Instagram and see someone post something inspirational and feel shit that you don’t feel that amazing and think badly of yourself, remind yourself of the good things you are doing right now for you and those you care about, that’s you being positive in a way a smiley photo with a great caption can’t compete with.

JUMP 4.2 – Week 3

Week three of eight is almost over.

This week I moved from a Paleo based diet to monitoring calories. This has felt brilliant as as much as I can cope without bread it’s always nice to be able to eat these things when you fancy them.

I’ll openly admit that I’ve had cake or chocolate every day this week and have largely eaten what I fancy whilst sticking to making the majority of my meals rather than relying on ready made stuff.  Despite being quite relaxed I was pleased to come out in a nice 20% calorie deficit, a nice position to be in without actually trying.  That felt especially good as it makes me feel like my habits are strong enough to maintain a balance between eating well and enjoying food without having to fixate on what I’m eating.

Training wise I’m feeling good and despite it being Les Mills Launch week managed to get three training sessions in so I feel in control of my training.

I’ve also started focusing on what I’m grateful for, what I’m doing well and where I can compliment people.  Writing these things down daily takes a couple of minutes but really focusing the brain on thinking in a more positive way.  This really helped on Thursday when after having a horrible day at work I went home and moved on as opposed to letting it completely ruin the rest of my evening, a massive progression for me in terms of managing my own emotions.

After three weeks I’m feeling positive and loving that the exercises, videos and audio recordings don’t take up too much time and I can fit around everything else in my life.

Over Eating

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.

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.

 

Jump 4.2 – Week 2

Today I’m entering week 3 of Jump 4.2.

Yesterday I finished two weeks of eating a Paleo based diet and having spent last week reviewing my TDEE I am about to embark on a week where I track my calorie intake to help me see where I am food intake wise and hat I need to change to stay on track.

I do feel quite comfortable on a Paleo based diet and have in the past done 4 days on / 3 days off for long periods of time, so for me fourteen days wasn’t too tough, although weekends are still tough when you are used to being able to relax your diet a bit and social occasions require thought and planning if you want to stay on track.

The reward for sticking to it however was worth it.  Yes I’ve lost  little weight (around 4kg but my weight fluctuates a lot anyway so this number doesn’t mean lots) and my body fat went down whilst muscle mass increased (according to my scales I would add so again take that as you will depending on how you feel about scales).

More importantly for me I feel better- less bloated, more energetic and like I’m fully back in the habit of eating homemade, fresh food over processed foods.  I think you can see a difference around my waist and I feel like my skin looks brighter.

Today I’ve had toast with my breakfast (which also contained plenty of protein and veg) and a really nice slice of homemade coffee and walnut cake courtesy of a colleague, my lunch has still essentially been chicken and veg.  Mentally I’ve noticed how much I’ve enjoyed adding foods back into my diet without feeling guilt, instead focusing on how much I’ve enjoyed what I’ve eaten today.

Training wise I’ve largely stuck to my normal training routine, although where I’ve had time I have tried out some of the sessions (I’ve done three so far), and these have been challenging but fun.  I like the fact they have all taken less than an hour to complete and that each one has a clear focus and is easily adaptable to your own current fitness levels and equipment availability.

There is also a strong mindset focus each week and this week the focus has been on morning routines.  I have long felt I need to work more on my morning routine as I often feel rushed in the morning.  This week has made me realise that in order to get my shit together in the mornings I need to get a better night time routine to help me get to bed earlier ad get a good night sleep so I’m less desperate to snooze come morning.

A week with a trip to Edinburgh and being away from home over the weekend wasn’t the best week to get into regular night and morning routines but this week I am making it my one goal to really develop a more positive morning routine.

The thing I like most about this programme so far is being able to read through the downloads and listen to the audios and videos when it suits me rather than having to be in a particular place at a set time.

All in all I’ve enjoyed the first fortnight and am looking forward to week 3, and to keep me accountable I will update you again next week!

I’m Talking About Periods Again I’m Afraid

We pretty much accept that our hair, skin, bowel movements, mood, mental health, headaches, sex life and more can be affected by our periods.  It isn’t just our period itself that affect us however, how we feel can be massively affected by all the various stages of the menstrual cycle, and as our cycles are continuous we essentially go through a never ending series of physical and emotional changes for a large part of our adult life.

Whilst we all know this we often tend to try and eat and train in pretty much the same way throughout all stages of our cycle and expect the same level of performance from ourselves.  Now I’m not suggesting that we should adjust what we do on a daily basis, none of us have time to do that; but an awareness of how your own cycle affects your mood and body will allow you to approach your nutrition and training with more awareness that sometimes those feelings of being fat or weak are not what they seem.

Most cycles last between 24 and 38 days (my cycle is roughly 25 days) and the cycle starts as your period begins.  Effectively your cycle has two stages 1) preparing for an egg to be released from the ovary and the re-building of the lining of the uterus and 2) preparing the uterus and body to either accept a fertilised egg or start a new cycle if you are not pregnant.

Stages of your cycle (these overlap so it’s not always clear cut)

Menstruation 

Shedding the uterine lining.  This lasts on average 5-8 days but with dramatic variation.  During this time oestrogen and progesterone levels are low and you may find your tolerance to pain increases and also that muscle recovery times improve.  Due to feeling like your womb is being tortured you may find it mentally tough to generate the motivation to workout, however whilst gentle exercise is often recommended there is no reason you cannot carry on your normal training if you can motivate yourself to do so and you may find your body actually reacts well to it.  This is the time when you crave comfort foods so it may be beneficial to give yourself some leeway with your diet and eat more to make yourself feel better (chocolate in moderation won’t hurt) although eating iron rich foods may also be beneficial to how you feel.

I teach classes so have no choice but to continue to exercise pretty much as normal in this period.  It doesn’t always feel great at the time but does tend to make me feel better afterwards so I also make the effort to train as often as normal during my period, albeit I try to go a bit easier on myself depending on how heavy my flow is that day.  Equally I now purposefully let myself have chocolate every day whilst I’m on.  I’ve realised that I’m going to crave chocolate more this week so I’m better off telling myself in advance I will have some as that way I’m less likely to binge and eat 5kg of  Dairy Milk in half an hour.

Follicular phase

Lasting between 10 and 22 days this is the time between the first day of your period and ovulation.  Oestrogen levels rise as your body prepare for egg release.  During this time the uterine lining is also rebuilt following your period (the Proliferative phase). In this stage there is evidence that women are at greater risk from musculoskeletal injuries but may also find their strength increases due to the increase in oestrogen meaning you may find you are able to lift more during this phase of your cycle.  Therefore this is a good time to focus on your lifting and enjoy it.  This stage ends with Ovulation.

Whilst some women will feel good about training in this phase because you can feel pretty strong this isn’t always the case.  For me the week after my period is often my worst week for training and nutrition.  I put this down to a less documented stage of some women’s cycle (not everyone will experience this) – Post Menstrual Tension.  Pre Menstrual Tension is widely accepted but some women often find they experience similar symptoms (moodiness, feeling flat, feeling teary, feeling useless and clumsy) in the days immediately after their period as well.  This can make training and eating well difficult during this period as you feel much the same as just before / during your period.  This is possibly due to a surge of Oestrogen and there is some suggestions that a Magnesium supplement may help ease this.  Much like during your period there is no reason to not train but motivation may be something you struggle with so go easy on yourself.

I actually struggle to train more during this week than when I’m on my period.  I think I accept that I will feel crap during my period so I’m more accommodating of my own feelings whereas the emotions the week after always catch me unaware (and someone has to actually remind me that this is that week of the month where I always freak out about being fat and unfit – like, every month without fail, it’s probably getting boring for them now but I always need that reminder that it’s my hormones and my world is not actually falling apart, and because I’m a moody cow this week I will also always tell them they are wrong even thought they aren’t).  I rarely feel like training this week, not because I have any physical symptoms just because I’m a bit of an emotional wreck, however not training is the worst thing I can do as I beat myself up for being lazy.  I therefore have to force myself to go do something just to not fall to pieces, because quite frankly if I do during this period I know I can stay in a slump that goes straight into PMS.

Ovulation

The release of an egg (mid cycle).  Oestrogen peaks just before ovulation and then drops (this tends to be 13 to 15 days before your next period).  As oestrogen peaks you may find this is the best time to work on a PB, however good form is vital as you are still at greater risk of injury.

Luteal phase

The time between ovulation and your period (lasts around 9 to 16 days), this is where the body prepares for pregnancy and Progesterone is produced, peaks and then drops.  The Secretory Phase also means the uterine lining produces chemicals that will support a pregnancy or, if there is no pregnancy, break down and shed.  It is this shedding that can cause the cramping feeling as the muscles contract to allow the shedding (this is where exercise or movement can help).

During this time you will potentially (probably) experience PMS.  Mood changes, breast tenderness, bloating, headaches and so on.  This gets stronger the closer to your period you get.  For many this is the ‘I could kill everybody’ phase.  Try not to actually kill anyone of course because that is frowned upon.  Here you might want to move your training away from performance based sessions and do things you enjoy and which improve your mood.  A rise in body temperature may mean you feel a drop in endurance levels so being aware you might not hit max lifts or feel as good training is worth being mindful of.  Water retention can make you feel heavier and sluggish so weighing yourself or measuring your progress in this time window may be counterproductive to your mindset.

Whilst the above is a basic outline of the different stages of a cycle all women know that your cycle is a very individual things and not only are our cycles of various lengths we are all also affected differently by the various stages with some feeling the impact more acutely than others, not only that but our own cycles can change over time.

Something which helps me is tracking my cycle.  I use the Fitbit App (which I believe you can still use even without a Fitbit).  You can log when you are on your period along with the more common symptoms you may feel or notice.  As time goes on the app allows you to predict when your period will be allowing you a greater understanding of what stages of your cycle you are in, as well as allowing you to record and therefore potentially see a pattern in your mood and behaviour.  Once you are aware of the pattern of your own cycle it makes handling the changes easier and can help you feel like you are training and eating better rather than reacting to your hormones.

Quick disclaimer to finish – I am not a scientist – I literally just about passed my GCSE.  The above is based purely on my own experience and how I understand my cycle so I’m at no point saying this is gospel as there are definitely people out there with greater knowledge on this topic than me.

Jump 4.2 – Week 1

This week I started two weeks of Paleo based eating.  I’m currently on day 5 and feel like I’m starting to get into a rhythm with it.  The first couple of days I find hunger always hits a little no matter how much I eat and I often feel a bit of a drop in energy as my body adjusts to not having some of the things it’s used to.

I’ve tried to keep my meals varied with eggs, chicken, pork, salmon, different vegetables, salad and fruits as well as nuts and so far haven’t missed chocolate too much- although all the nice cakes and biscuits people keep leaving in the kitchen at work don’t make this easy!  Thankfully I normally drink black coffee so the lack of milk isn’t too much of an issue.

The reason I’m doing this is that I’ve decided to work through the 8 week Jump 4.2 Programme with Ricky Long.

I’ve trained with Ricky for a couple of years and his coaching has always extended beyond simply giving you a training plan, so he has encouraged the formation of numerous habits and mindset shifts for me in that time.

This has allowed me to be in a position where I am able to be involved in helping support those who are going through (and have previously gone through) Jump.

I realised however that what I haven’t yet done however is actually fully work through the full 8 weeks from start to finish in the format and order the programme lays them out in myself.  This is something I felt would be both useful in allowing a greater understanding of the challenges within the programme so I can provide more support whilst also continuing to work on my own mindset, habits and fitness.

I haven’t started the workouts or mindset work as yet but plan to get going with that this weekend.

I’m committing this down on my blog to hold myself accountable to you for the next 8 weeks and plan to keep a regular diary of my progress on here over the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about what I’m doing please contact me and I’ll be happy to answer anything you may want to know.

Les Mills Launches Are Coming

For the Les Mills Instructors among us launches are coming!

One thing that keeps cropping up in conversation this week is how hard it is to keep on top of your training, nutrition and positive habits whilst also learning new choreography.

Here’s my ideas for getting through the next 10 days of cramming and still feel good about YOU:

1. If you can, meal prep once a week, that’s going to mean you have good choices ready to grab and stick in the microwave and reduce the chances of getting a takeaway when you are tired and busy cramming.

2. Same with snacks – have lots of good snacks to hand because learning chorey always makes you want to snack – FACT!

3. Another option for these two weeks each quarter is order a week or two of meal prep to completely avoid the stress of thinking about food yet stay on track!  If you’re prone to buying food rather than planning when you are busy leaning the new stuff this could actually end up more cost efficient anyway.

4. If you’re short of time drop out the cardio element in your training sessions and use your physical practice sessions as your cardio. Added bonus is that going all out at least once when practicing the new releases means you’ll be prepared for how it’s going to feel on launch day!

5. Don’t be an all or nothing person…

Do you know what positive habits you practice daily?  Perhaps you have a great morning or evening routine or drink a pint of water upon waking, maybe you always pack your bag the night before.  ALL those little things help add up to a positive mindset and approach to your health. IF you don’t train for a week or end up going over your calorie goal a few times you haven’t gone off the rails and lost all progress / fitness levels – keep up with those little daily habits and everything will still be in place for you post launch!

6. You are in control – one of the best ways to make lifestyle changes is to create systems. One systems could be to take some time to plan in appointments for when you will learn chorey and stick to those appointments. Feeling more in control of how you use your time can help reduce stress levels even if you’re still crazy busy!

7. Don’t create undue stress for yourself- you’ve got new stuff to learn. So the week or two before launch I like to go back to my go to tracks, the ones I know in my sleep- you haven’t got to add extra pressure to yourself by learning members requests or extra tracks for your current mix if you’re already feeling pressure (be honest the ones you know in your sleep are actually probably the members favourites anyway, hence why you know them so well!)

8. Sleep. Sleep helps you retain information – being tired doesn’t, so no matter what you need to let slide for a few days don’t make it sleep!

9. That being said don’t beat yourself up about letting the not important stuff slide.  You will know what is a non negotiable in your life.  Yes, you will need to keep balancing those plates, but everything else, well it will still be there on 7th July.

10. The week after launch can also be a tough week physically – all the adrenaline from learning and then teaching for the first time is draining and I often feel more tired and emotional the week after. So if that happens don’t beat yourself up, a few days off training can be beneficial in cases like that.

I hope some of the above ideas help, and if you aren’t a Les Mills instructor many of these ideas would also work for other stressful situations not just launches!

This blog is based on some of the principles we work on developing in Jump 4.2 – an 8 week online fitness, nutrition and mindset programmes designed specifically with group ex instructors and enthusiast in mind. If you want to find out more click the link below to get details for the next intake on July 1st.

Jump Priority List

Holiday Hangovers (The Good Kind)

Holidays make you feel relaxed and good about life, giving you time to unwind and making you feel positive.  Whilst the sun has something to do with that there are also lots of things you do on holiday which also contribute and which you could continue doing at home.

😊Drink lots of water

When you’re away and it’s hot you tend to always have a bottle of water with you.  Keeping up that level of hydration once you return home and it’s not quite so warm can provide lots of benefits to your health and well being.

😊Eat fresh, local and in season food

All that fresh food you eat on holiday- suddenly vegetables, salads, fruit, fresh fish seem so appealing eating well doesn’t even seem hard.  When you return filling your diet with the same types of fresh foods (ideally in season foods) can help you keep that feel good feeling you get on holiday, as well as helping you maintain a healthy diet.

😊 Walk / Swim

Even on a pool holiday you probably go for a daily swim or walk even though you’d never class this as exercise.  In the nice weather walking to your restaurant is far more appealing than grabbing a taxi.  Keeping up walks outdoors or going for a swim as a leisure activity will help increase your activity levels as well as helping you maintain that relaxed feeling.

😊 Sleep 

Whether it be earlier nights or longer lie ins you often get a full 8 hours of rest on a holiday.  Keeping to a good sleep routine back home will make help maintain that rested feeling.

😊 Read

Much the same as walking and swimming, taking time out to read once home is a relaxing habit to get into that can help you stay relaxed post holiday.

😊 Look

On holiday we take the time to notice things – buildings, nature- and to appreciate our surroundings.  Continuing this habit will help you continue to feel grateful for your surroundings once back home.

😊 Smile at people

I find myself smiling at everyone abroad- largely because I only speak English and it helps aid the performance art communication method greatly!  Smiling at strangers and people who serve you in shops just makes you feel more positive about your day, helping maintain that feel good feeling you have whilst you’re away.