Social Strategy

When you are trying to stick to a calorie deficit social occasions can be tough and you need to decide on a strategy to not let one day or night out derail your progress.

Below are some ideas of methods you could sue to exercise a bit of damage limitation and still enjoy yourself.

  • Check out the menu beforehand

Have a look online at the menu before your night out and plan what you will eat, that way when you are there you are less likely to over order or order things you haven’t accounted the calories for.

  • Fill up on salad / veg

Aim to include some salad / vegetable items with your meals to help fill you up whilst also keeping calories down.

  • Avoid the bread basket

Perhaps you really like bread, in which case knock yourself out and have some.  But if you’re only eating it because the bread basket it’s extra unnecessary calories.

  • Mix your drinks

Not in the way you think.  Mix water in between your alcoholic drinks to help limit calories through drinks.

  • Eat beforehand

If the social occasion isn’t specifically based around food you might want to eat beforehand so you can easier control how much you eat.

  • Save calories during the week

If you want to stay on track but still have a big calorie night out you could consider creating a bigger calorie deficit across the week so you have extra calories to use on your night out.

  • Eat something you really enjoy

If you going to eat more calories than normal you may as well pick something you are really going to enjoy, that way you are more likely to feel satisfied and less likely to overeat on other elements of your meal.

  • Pick an activity that doesn’t involve food and drink

When planning days or nights out try and plan activities that aren’t just based on eating and drinking.

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!

My Favourite (Fitness) Websites (and why)

My Protein

Affordable protein and supplements with quick delivery times and regular offers.

My favourite product is the Whey Protein Powder in Vanilla which you can use in cakes and smoothies as well as on it’s own. I’m not a huge fan of protein shakes and tend to use them as an addition when I need a quick boost of calories and / or protein but I am a fan of adding protein powder to homemade muffins, energy balls and smoothies so a plain flavour like vanilla works well as it complements most recipes.

Added bonus if you do like drinking them as a stand alone drink and want to experiment this product comes in a wide variety of flavours so you don’t have to get bored.

I also really like their seamless leggings rangewhich have a gym shark feel without the same price tag- definitely squat proof, look good and are super comfy and long (useful for long legged people like me)!

Check them out here – My Protein

Muscle Food

Good quality meats for an excellent price (and let’s face it meat is expensive).

Buy one of their bulk packs and freeze!  I like the chicken in particular because it doesn’t shrink when cooked!

They also do nice protein packed cheat style meals (like protein pizza) – now generally if I’m going to have a pizza I’d prefer to have a full on stuffed crust loaded one, but if you want to get the taste at a fraction of the calorie cost these could be a good alternative.

Check them out here – Muscle Foods

They have also recently started doing a meal prep style offering where they deliver your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks weekly and also provide you with workout plans and an online support group.

You can opt to get 5,6 or 7 days worth of food.

I haven’t tried this so my opinion on this service i purely based on looking through their website.

I think I would want to add some extra vegetables and fruit to this plan personally (and tend to prefer and recommend homemade / freshly made meals wherever possible) and I haven’t tried the exercise plans so can’t comment on them, but if you are struggling to meal prep and find yourself buying a lot of your meals off the shelf / living off ready meals this could be a possible way of staying in control of your calorie intake that is quite cost effective.

Have a look below.  They are currently offering £10 off your first order using the code UNTHINKABLE

Muscle Food Meal Prep

What are your favourite fitness product websites and why?

Good Foods V. Bad Foods

How often do you think about food in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’?

You have a 2,000 calories to eat in a day.

You eat 2,000 calories of pizza and chocolate.

You eat 2,000 calories of oats, chicken, salad, fish, rice, vegetables, fruit and nuts.

Either way you’ve eaten 2,000 calories.

So really there are no good or bad foods.

There are foods.

Now that isn’t to say you’d feel the same after eating nothing but pizza and chocolate than if you’d eaten the same number of calories from a variety of largely unprocessed foods.

Generally your body will probably react more positively to the unprocessed foods.

But sometimes you’ll feel better for picking the pizza!

Overtime a diet of nothing but pizza would probably start to make you feel pretty bloated and lethargic.

There was a man who lost weight by eating nothing but McDonalds for 30 days.  He was still in a calorie deficit.  Another experiment involving McDonalds, Supersize Me (which had a a different focus and was designed to shine a spotlight on the American Fast Food Industry) highlighted how aside from weight solely eating this type of food affected the participants cholesterol, sex drive, skin, mood and so on.

The point is you aren’t likely to eat nothing but McDonalds.

Nor are you likely to never eat it EVER. AGAIN.

A happy diet isn’t that polarised.

Some days you’ll eat chicken and brocoli from a Tupperware box.  Sometimes you’ll eat fried chicken from a bucket.

There’s that saying you’ll see on memes about this being called balance.

Also realistically.

Most people struggle because they haven’t got to grips with energy in v. energy out.

They eat too much or not enough.

It isn’t that they aren’t eating the right sort of foods.

If you have this down 100% then looking at what you eat and the specific nutrients in those foods could enhance how you feel.  If you want to compete in a show or top-level sport you perhaps need to do this.

For the rest of us (and I include me in that) just hitting those calorie goals (and protein goals if you want to go one further) will be enough to make us feel pretty good and bring results.

So actually from this logic there are no good or bad foods.

Things I’ve Learnt – Re-Blog

I wrote this six months ago- all still remarkably true and relevant.

  1. You aren’t perfect.

I think I’m like most people in that when I start something new I want to be 100% perfect or I feel like I’ve failed and need to start again.  But it’s impossible to never have slip ups on a long term plan.  Getting out of the cycle of deciding a whole week was a write off become of a bad day or bad meal was one of the biggest factors to starting to see results.

  1. Day 30 (or 60 or 100 or 200) is harder than day 1.

People always talk about Day 1- and in some ways Day 1 is tough, it’s the starting something new, the first step in making changes. But by the same token, Day 1 is exciting – it’s the start of something new, when you feel all positive and hopeful.  Sticking to something once the novelty wear off or once results start to slow is the real challenge.

  1. Consistency and steady progress is boring.

Everyone loves a Facebook status or Instagram post where they can show their before and after pictures demonstrating dramatic results.  Realistically though long lasting changes take time and progress isn’t always immediately apparent.

  1. The loudest people in the gym often don’t have a clue.

When I started venturing into the free weight section alone I used to feel so inferior.  All these people claiming space and equipment and confidently broadcasting their strengths and opinions on how things should be done.  I tend to assume that if someone is loud and forward with their opinion they must know their shit- and yeah, some do.  Get comfortable in the environment and take time to look and you will see however that many do not!  Go in, do your own thing with confidence and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing in terms of training or weights.

  1. You need to eat more.

I used to try and keep my calorie intake low – the bigger the calorie deficit the better.  Really, this makes you tired, makes training harder and will eventually stop you getting results.  Stick to a sensible calorie deficit and results will come and will be easier to maintain.

  1. There is no such thing as an ideal diet.

And by ideal I mean those diets you see advertised in magazines- ‘Eat all the cake and still lose weight’ ‘Drink all the Gin and still lose weight’.  We would all like that magic diet which would allow us to eat as much of our favourite foods as often as we like and still loose 10lbs per week.  Essentially, though, if you look at them, all these diets still involve some form of restriction – eat low calorie meals through the day and allow yourself cake everyday in moderation (i.e. a small slice).  You therefore have to accept that you can eat what you want within reason but if you also want to stay within a calorie allowance and hit your Macros you will need to balance that out with sensible options for other meals. I have 4 pretty strict days to allow me the freedom to have 3 pretty relaxed days and stay within my goals.  That means for 4 days a week I sometimes have to say no to things I want in return for that relaxed weekend.

  1. Some days will be shit.

Not all training sessions will be fun, not all will bring PBs, sometimes you will feel like you have made no progress.  If every session was a great session they would just be your normal sessions.  Accept that even a tough session will bring benefits to you and don’t sweat it.

  1. Rest is important

When you start it feels like you will get more results if you keep on going and do as much as you can.  Rest allows your body to recover and prevents over training though and in the long term will improve your results.

  1. You can’t do everything.

It’s tempting to try and master as many things as possible.  Realistically though unless you are naturally talented at something the chances are you will need to devote time to things to master them.  Therefore trying to win a Strongman competition whilst also training for a marathon is probably not going to work.  Pick your thing and focus on that.  I wanted to run a second marathon but with teaching classes around my full time job I had to accept that finding time to fit the training in would not be possible and as I didn’t want to take a break from teaching I put that aim on the back burner.

  1. Weight is a bad indicator of progress.

Muscle weighs more than fat, your body is full of water blah blah blah.  At first you may be able to monitor your weight- eventually you will need to go off clothes size or pictures if you don’t want to feel completely demotivated.

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit- Part Five – Move

The Fifth and final blog in my series about different was you could create a calorie deficit.

So far I’ve focused on what you put in your mouth and when you put it there – identifying different systems you could use to eat less than you burn each day.

Another way to create a calorie deficit is via exercise.

Very simply, if you change nothing about your current diet and eat the same amount of calories as you normally do but move more than you currently do you COULD create a deficit.

Now this only works at this most simplest of levels if the number of calories you currently consume is the same as the number of calories you currently burn.

If this is the case by adding extra exercise into your day you will be burning more than you did but consuming the same number of calories as normal which will allow you to create a calorie deficit.

This is probably highly unlikely to be the case (life is rarely that simple!)

If you currently consume more than you burn (you are in a calorie surplus) and wanted to keep your calorie intake the same then you would need to increase the number of calories burnt via exercise in order to both cover the surplus and then create a deficit.

In this situation you may find increasing your activity levels enough to create a deficit difficult and so a mixture of eating a bit less and moving a bit more is a better option.

So how do you set a plan of action for yourself?

Firstly you need to work out your TDEE and deduct 20% – this is the number of calories you need to aim for daily (or weekly).  Next work out roughly how many calories you currently eat a day (check my previous blog on calorie counting for how to do all of this).  Now work out the difference between these two figures.  Can you burn this number of calories per week via exercise?  If you can you can continue to eat the same as long as you are willing to move more.  If you cannot you will need to work out how much you can burn via exercise and then reduce your calorie allowance to make up the difference.

For instance:

TDEE 2,000 a day (14,000 per week)

Minus 20% to create a deficit = 1,600 a day (11,200 per week)

You currently eat 1,800 calories a day (12,600 per week)

This creates a surplus of 1,400 calories a week

So what could you do?

You could:

= 5 exercise sessions where you burn approx 300 calories per session would allow you to remain in a calorie deficit without eating less.

But perhaps 5 training sessions a week is not practical for you.

So you could

= 3 exercise sessions where you burn approx 300 calories per session, which would burn 900 calories and you would then need to reduce your calories intake by 500 calories a week (about 70 calories a day) to reach a deficit

There are so many ways you can create a calorie deficit.  Hopefully the last five blogs have demonstrated that all the various ‘diets’ and ‘plans’ out there effectively do the same thing (create a calorie deficit) just in different ways.  How you achieve such a deficit is up to you and it will depend on your lifestyle and personality whats does and doesn’t work for you.

If you have any questions resulting from these blogs please drop me a message or comment and let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit – Part Four- Count Calories

As I explained in my last blog I decided this month I’d cover some ways you can create a calorie deficit.  So far I’ve covered Paleo and Intermittent Fasting and The Hand Job Diet.

Today something that in a world full of so many different methods for loosing body fat sounds to obvious and simple to cover.

Calorie Counting.

Obvious really.

But how many times have people decided they need to make changes and looked for some magic method.

Put simply work out your TDEE

Use a TDEE calculator such this TDEE Calculator

Deduct 20% from this figure.

Eat this many calories.

Any foods.

You will have created a calorie deficit.

Just track what you eat.

The easiest way to do this is using My Fitness Pal.

This app is free.

Pros- You can eat what you want when you want as long as you stay within that number of calories

Cons- You have to keep track (at least for a while until you get into a habit).

Calorie deficit level basic.

Basic is often best for success.

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit- Part Three – The Hand Job Diet

I spent much of December preaching that if you want to lose body fat you need to create a calorie deficit.  Then it occurred to me that’s fine as long as you know how to do that.  I’ve pretty much always gone by the school of thought that people know what thy should do it’s just hard to actually do it.   I have had lots of conversations recently however which have suggested that actually people are confused.  There are so many different fads around, plus products advertised like Skinny Coffee, Fat Loss shots, magic fat busing pills, ideas that you should only eat fruit before 11 or not carbs after 6 that a lot of people are genuinely confused.

So I decided this month I’d cover some ways you can create a calorie deficit.  So far I’ve covered Paleo and Intermittent Fasting.

Here’s what I see as the difference between a fad and these systems.  A fad requires you do things like cut out food groups completely, eat them in silly combinations, supplement what you eat with products that really just tend to act as a laxative.  They are plans that are not sustainable and are likely to cause binges at some point.

Paleo and Intermittent Fasting are simple systems of eating that help you control calories (obviously people have other reasons for doing them and they can have additional benefits on top of calorie control but for my purpose here I’m only thinking in terms of calorie deficits).  They have rules, yes,  and will not suit everyone, but they don’t require cutting out whole food groups, are safe and, if someone finds they suit their lifestyle, are perfectly sustainable long term.  They can also be done part time (as I do Paleo just four days a week) and still help create a calorie deficit.

Esssentially, if you want to create a new lifestyle habit the easiest way to do this is create a system that allows you to implement this habit into your life.

Now so far I have covered quite specific methods.  You can however create a calorie deficit with much more simple systems and today I want to cover ‘The Hand Job Diet’.

This method invented and named by a coach I’ve worked with a lot over recent years, Ricky Long.  Ricky favours training and eating to live, not being overly restrictive and not being a slave to counting calories and tracking macros when you don’t have to.

He recommends to client’s a simple method of having three meals a day consisting of:

  • One handful of protein
  • Two handfuls of veg (at least two colours)
  • Once a day add in one handful of a big carb such as rice, pasta, bread
  • Add in some snacks each day as need
  • If you feel hungry you need more food so consider adding in another meal
  • If you feel tired you have eaten too much

This allows for no restriction, you could snack on low calorie foods such as fruit but also allow some snacks to be your favourite foods (cake, chocolate, crisps).

You can adjust depending on results – so if you aren’t getting the results you want you may need to be honest about how many snacks you are having and how many calories each one contains.

It could also stop you craving certain foods as no food is off limits, thus reducing the urge to binge.

If your diet is not brilliant at the moment, these small changes will probably create a big difference and easily create a calorie deficit.

If you like food though, such relaxed rules may be hard to follow.  I’m the kind of person who needs some structure to my daily meals or I could just eat constantly for 8 hours each day, so again this won’t work for everyone but it is a way of creating a calorie deficit with minimal thinking or rules to follow.

I’ll repeat, the fundamental characteristic of all fat loss methods is creating a calorie deficit.  The Hand Job Diet is another way to manage portion control thus help keep you within a calorie deficit (without actually counting calories).

I have to credit Ricky Long on this method – if you like the idea and want to have a look into some of his other fitness and nutrition advice check him out on instagram @Rickylong42, Facebook (Ricky Long) or at his website here

 

 

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit- Part Two – Intermittent Fasting

I wrote last week about how I tend to use a Paleo based diet to help me remain within my calorie allowance for the week (whether that be calorie deficit or maintenance).  Restricting certain foods is not for everyone – another way some people control their calorie intake is Intermittent Fasting (IM Fasting).

IM Fasting in a nut shell is only eating during an 8 hour window each day (e.g. 10 am-6 pm / 12-8 pm) and fasting the rest of the time (consuming only water and perhaps black coffee).

Now this naturally restricts your calorie intake each day because it’s hard to eat THAT many calories in only 8 hours.  The plus side is you can eat relatively freely in terms of what you eat knowing that the time window will assist in preventing over eating.

Like Paleo, this is also not for everyone.

I tried it for a while and liked some things about it but ultimately struggled to stick to it- largely because I’m very active across two jobs most days of the week.  This being said I do know some people who regularly use this as a tool.

For me the Pro’s were:

  • Being able to eat all food types freely during the 8 hour window.
  • Eating larger meals (I like big plates of food!).

Ultimately the Con’s outweighed this for me though:

  • Having to teach at 7 am and then wait until mid morning to eat.
  • My eating window closing and having to teach an evening class and then not eat afterwards.
  • It takes planning – you need to have a good meal ready for when you break the fast. That’s hard in an office.
  • I found that in actual fact I was creating a massive calorie deficit on many days because I didn’t want to eat as many calories as I needed in such a short space of time.  FYI- A massive deficit is not ideal / sustainable over time and I need to be adequately fueled to do my job(s).
  • It made social occasions difficult.

As I concluded last week.  The fundamental characteristic of all fat loss methods is creating a calorie deficit.  IM Fasting is another option which will assist in eating less than you burn if used correctly, although probably only genuinely suits a small proportion of people.