Christmas Shopping

Out for hours shopping in busy shops and streets. Means you’ll get hungry and need to eat and that can mean unexpected calories making it hard to stay on track with all the coffee shops and fast food places as pit stop options in most town centres.

Some ideas to help keep your diet on track when out shopping:

1/ Have a big breakfast before you go out then take some snacks with you (nuts, fruit) so you don’t get hungry and need to stop for a Macy’s

2/ Plan ahead and pick somewhere you can get a lower calorie lunch – coffee shops like Starbucks often do things like egg based meal boxes or you could grab a salad from Subway. Add a black coffee or water and you have a filling lunch whilst keeping within your calorie goal

3/ Allocate yourself enough calories from your weekly balance so you can have that Christmas coffee and huge slab of cake knowing your still on track

4/ Shop online so you can eat at leisure at home!

What other strategies do you have to stay on track?

Calories Matter

I write a lot about calorie deficits to lose weight and how what you make those calories up of doesn’t matter in terms of dropping weight.

Of course that doesn’t mean that what you eat doesn’t matter. How you actually structure your diet to meet these calories will have an impact on how you feel.

The fact remains that you can eat foods in any combination, eat specific foods, eat at certain times. If you aren’t in a deficit you won’t lose weight, but once you’ve got the deficit thing nailed looking at what you actually eat can help you progress further and feel better with it.

Increasing your protein intake for instance, that can help you feel more satiated, which in turn makes calorie deficits feel easier.

Swapping out some of your sugary snacks for fruit will make you feel better over time and also reduce the calorie value of your snacks.

Looking to fill up on denser lower calorie foods (piling your veggies high for instance) will keep you full but also help stay within your calorie goal.

Focusing on eating homemade food with lots of salad and veg included will make you feel better than takeaways and grab a go sandwiches, probably be lower calorie (and reduce your spending).

So of course how you chose to make up those calories does have an effect.

Why do PTs tend to say calories matter more as a headline then?

Because it’s a pyramid and you need to have the foundations right before you build.

If you aren’t yet in a deficit then looking at changing everything about what you eat and worrying about the specifics of certain foods is going to feel overwhelming. Quite simply if you can hit a calorie deficit by cutting a snack out, reducing your portion size, changing your McDonalds order from Large to regular, making your takeaway coffee an Americano instead of a Pumpkin Spiced Late every day, well that’s going to make sticking to a calorie goal easier. Once you’ve adjusted to that then you can look at some more small changes bit by bit. Generally speaking we are better at adjusting to small changes over time rather than overhauling our life all in one go, we are much more likely to stick with small changes consistently and consistency is what is needed to reduce weight and keep it off.    

When is a calorie deficit not a calorie deficit?

When is a calorie deficit not a calorie deficit?

You might be surprised at how often people say to PTs, I’m barely eating anything and still not losing weight or I’m in a calorie deficit but nothing is happening.

This is when the idea that it must be your metabolism, carbs, the time you’re eating or the lack of random expensive magic juice in your diet that is stopping the weight loss.

Now I’m reality, on the odd week it might simply be water retention, not having a poo recently, your period or hormones affecting your weight.

But if your weight is consistently not coming down week on week even if you are in a calorie deficit here’s the reason for the scale not going down.

You aren’t actually in a calorie deficit.

– Are you actually tracking and if you are are you including EVERYTHING (sauces, coffees, left overs). You need to honest with yourself here.

– Are you consistently in a deficit. If you are Monday to Friday but waaay over calories on the weekend you probably aren’t actually in a real deficit.

– Maybe you are being honest about what you’re eating but overestimating how much your burning each day.

If this is the case you could try dropping your calories by a small amount each day (250 calories to start) and seeing what happens, you might need to drop a bit further but by bit until you start to see movement.

If you are in a calorie deficit consistently you will overtime drop weight so if you aren’t seeing progress you are not in a calorie deficit. Good news here – now you know that’s the issue you can work to change it.

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

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

Day 1

There’s always so much hype about ‘Day 1’.

You start a diet or a gym regime and people praise the ‘Day 1’ posts. Of course Day 1 is tough, starting anything can be daunting and finding the motivation to start is a positive which should be cheered.

Day 1 is also shiny, new and novel enough to actually be easy though. Those first few meals, gym sessions, days of change have a novelty to them that can help you stick to it.

It gets tougher as the days go by. As people perhaps stop asking how it’s going, as you have long days or challenging days and want to revert back to comfortable habits to make yourself feel better, it becomes harder to stick to your new habits and actions.

It’s not just that. In the early days and weeks results will likely come quick and fast. Depending on how much weight you have to lose you might find the pounds drop off quickly at first. If you are just starting lifting or running you might find the PBs come thick and fast for a while.

As the weeks and months go on and you establish your new habits, those results will slow. This is natural, but it’s also challenging for your motivation, as it gets harder to see progress it also becomes harder to stick to things when times get tough.

Day 1 is tough, starting is tough, but I think staying with it and never having another ‘Day 1’ again is far more challenging and yet also the ultimate goal. Fitness will always be a rollercoaster of ups and downs, peaks and being less at your peak, we don’t need to have a ‘day 1’ every time we have a down though, we just need to keep going with a healthy habits.

Can cutting out coffee help you lose weight?

Can Intermittent Fasting help you lose weight?

Sure, if you eat during a shorter time window every day but don’t eat dramatically more than you usually would at each meal or eat extra meals in that time period (i.e. you don’t just eat breakfast later) you will possibly lose weight. Why?  Because you’re eating fewer calories. You may also find other health benefits to eating in this way and it can really suit some people’s lifestyles and mindsets.  But is it a magic formula in itself? No, if it’s not for you the fact is you’re really not missing out on some great health cheat.

Can cutting out coffee help you lose weight?

Maybe, if you normally drink it with milk and (or) sugar and cut back you’ll reduce your calorie intake naturally and you may see an effect on your weight. Equally, even with black coffee you may find you sleep a bit better and as getting enough sleep is helpful when it comes to both weight loss and training you might see a small benefit there. Having said that coffee can sometimes act as an appetite suppressant so cutting back may affect your appetite a bit at first, if you’re also adding in pre workouts to replace a pre gym black coffee you might even end up consuming slightly more calories.  Essentially, whilst there may be benefits they might well be minimal.

Can using an acupressure mat help you lose weight?

It is reported that Acupressure mats provide many benefits, including weight loss.  The idea being the pressure points relieve stress due to the release of endorphins, lowering cortisol and this reduction in stress helps weight management.  I have an acupressure mat and try to use it every night, I certainly feel I sleep better and feel more relaxed after 20 minutes laying on it, for me, whether there is much scientific research or not it makes me feel good. Does it help with weight management though?  If it does it’s probably minimal and only in conjunction with eating the appropriate amount of calories.  Would laying on this mat alone reduce weight? No.

Will meditation / mindfulness help you lose weight?

Mindfulness, practiced often, can be an effective method for helping change habits and ways of thinking and as such could help you lose weight by helping you adjust your habits. Again, on it’s own it will not help you lose weight, it’s a tool which can help you adjust your behaviours and the change in behaviour is what will lead to weight loss.

There are many habits, actions and behaviour changes which, can when incorporated into your life, make you feel better and assist with weight loss. Ultimately though, weight loss comes from consuming fewer calories than you burn over a consistent period of time.  Sometimes on a weight loss journey, the habits we adopt across the way can feel like the magic ingredient that actually made the difference in losing weight. Perhaps they are, in the respect if they make us feel better and more positive and help us stick to a calorie deficit then they are positive weight loss tools that can also bring other benefits at the same time.  It’s important to recognise that in terms of weight loss however, these things alone do not create a calorie deficit and understanding this will allow long lasting changes to occur.

Gym sayings that should be scrapped

Not all calories are equal

Different foods have different nutritional values, some can offer more more nutritional benefits than others, may be more or less filling, may affect your energy levels in different ways. Fundamentally though a calorie is a unit used to measure the food we eat, a unit of energy if you like and the calories in a 200 calorie salad are the same number of calories in a 200 calorie chocolate bar. In terms of energy in v energy out all calories are equal.

No carbs after 6pm (and other timing rules)

Whether it be this rule, Intermittent fasting, the 5:2 diet or any other rule that suggests when you eat will be the magic ingredient to weight loss. Whilst setting yourself eating windows may help you eat less and therefore lose weight you don’t suddenly store more fat by eating after 6pm or having breakfast.

Muscle weighs more than fat

Whilst it’s true the same volume of fat will take up more space than an equal volume of muscle (hence you can drop a dress size but remain the same weight as your body composition changes, a useful thing to remember) a pound of fat and a pound of muscle of course both weigh a pound.

Never miss a Monday

If you want to train 3 times a week why would it matter that one of those in on Monday? Whilst the concept of starting the week positively makes sense if Monday is inconvenient for you it really doesn’t matter.

Go hard or go home

Yes you want to work hard during your workouts, but life happens. Some days we are tired, have little niggles, we might be recovering from a cold. Some days we might be fatigued from previous sessions. On those days going hard could be more detrimental than positive. Listening to your body and resting, stretching or taking a de-load week when needed can help improve results more than simply pushing through.

‘Baby Weights’

No matter what you lift to someone out there it will be ‘so heavy’ and to someone else ‘their warm up weight’. Judging your weights in comparison to others won’t help you progress or make you feel good about yourself in the gym. Others might be lifting more of less than you but sticking to weights we personally find challenging for the rep ranges we are doing and working on progressive overload in relation to that weight range is the best way to progress.

Weekends and Weight Loss

Happy Friday. As we’re heading into the weekend you’ll no doubt see a lot of posts on Instagram about how a weekend binge will ruin any progress with your diet.

Now at face value this is true. Let’s say you need to eat 2,000 calories a day to be in a 20% calorie deficit and you have stuck to this every day so far this week. Then tomorrow you go out for brunch, then have a takeaway and a few (well maybe more than a few) drinks, including some hefty on the calorie cocktails and eat 4,000 calories and then Sunday feeling a bit worse for wear you have a Fry Up and lots of stodge to soak it up and manage to consume another let’s say 3,500 calories. All those Instagram posts are correct. You’ve eaten 3,500 calories more than your goal. Your deficit goal for the week was 3,500 calories (20% of 2,500 leaves you eating 2,000 calories a day). You’ve just eaten that deficit over the weekend, so yes instead of losing weight that week you’re likely to maintain your current status quo. Not ideal if you are wanting to lose weight.

Yes, to combat this you could just not eat and drink like an utter dick all weekend. You manage to eat homecooked meals that contain the odd vegetable Monday- Friday and not five Espresso Martinis in two hours and you an stick to a nice bowl of yoghurt and fruit for breakfast instead of a stack of pancakes. You could, theoretically do this Saturday and Sunday too right. I mean if you really want results it will be worth it right? And you an decide this works for you. Maybe routine and having the same sorts of food food every day of the week and not eating more one day and less the next suits you, in which case crack on.

But let’s be honest, for those of us who work Monday to Friday it’s easier to reign in the urge to eat like a five year old let loose in a sweet shop because for large amounts of the time we are busy and so sticking to ‘better choices’ is naturally easier. The weekend is when we want to see friends and family, socialise, eat, drink and live. We don’t want to restrict ourselves and so that’s why it’s always ‘do the weekends ruin our diet’ articles you see as opposed to ‘are hump day Wednesdays making you fat’. If we are honest and realistic is just telling people to eat better on the weekend going to stop them eating more? Is suggesting that they substitute rice from broccoli rice so they can feel like they’re joining in or putting their burger between two slices of lettuce instead of a bun going to help (I have such an issue with foods masquerading as other foods but that’s by the by)?

But your body doesn’t start at zero every day. You know how people say one bad day of food won’t make you fat or one salad won’t make you lose 6 stone, our body responds to what we do over a period of time. So your 2,000 calories doesn’t have to reset every morning. So say you actually look at it as 2,000 x 7 = 14,000 calories a week. You naturally easily eat less Monday- Friday so say you eat 1,700 calories each day, except for Friday when you had a couple of biscuits at work and had 1,800. You’ve had 8,600 calories, that leaves you 5,400 for the next two days. Now that still isn’t a fuck it I can go crazy here amount of calories. But that’s say a relaxed 3,000 on Saturday for a big Saturday meal (with maybe some swaps on the booze swapping cocktails for Prosecco to lower the calories- a swap i can get behind!) and 2,400 on Sunday for a decent amount of stodge t clear up the hangover.

That’s a solution that is both not letting your weekend ruin your diet but also not letting your diet ruin your weekend. It isn’t saying sod it and throwing calories counting out the window but it is allowing your diet to fit around your lifestyle. So yes, a crazy cheat weekend will ruin your dieting progress but a plan that allows you to fit those weekends into it can certainly exist.

Back to Basics

As I’ve written recently I’m looking at going back to basics to get back into a routine.

Over the last week my training has been more consistent, my NEAT has been decent and I’m drinking plenty of water and nailing a few other habits. There’s two things I’ve struggled with though have been my nutrition and getting up in the morning.

I’ve not eaten terribly but I’ve not eaten what I’ve planned and as such have ended up going over my calorie goal. The reason? Stress.

It’s been a stressful week, work and personal stuff combined has meant I’ve been anxious at times and just generally strung out at others, feeling a bit like I was never going to fit everything into each day.

I wish I was one of those people who lost their appetite under stress. I am however a person who turns to sugar instead. Between snacking on sweet stuff and then opting to not eat the nice balanced meals I’d prepared and instead eat more carb based high calorie meals has meant that my nutrition just hasn’t gone to plan.

In reaction to this though I’m not going to do anything drastic. I’ve got food planned for the coming week and I’m hoping for a quieter week so I won’t be as tempted to reach for a high sugar stress release.

The key here I think is to not beat yourself out when the week doesn’t quite go to plan, not react by going on some drastic campaign to make up for it and just focus on starting again the next day.

So I’m taking the same approach to my mornings too. Last week I snoozed my alarm a lot, this week I’m reverting back to a cheap old school alarm in the next room so I have to get up to turn it off. A few bad mornings last week don’t need to define the coming week and other than trying to make a few small adjustments to improve my morning routine I don’t need to do anything crazy.