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.

Ten ways to get ‘fitter’ in 2019

  1. Work out how many calories you burn a day on average and eat this many (to maintain weight) or 20% less (to reduce weight)
  2. Swap one of your sugary snacks with a healthier replacement (e.g. a piece of fruit) each day. And yes I know fruit has some sugar in it but a banana over a Mars Bar will help you cut calories and provide less of a post sugar slump.
  3. Stop having cheat meals. Cheat meals create a restriction / binge / food as a reward mindset.  Eat whatever you want whenever you want within reason without viewing food as good and bad.
  4. Eat protein. Aim to eat 1g of protein per kg of body weight. Will help you feel satisfied without overeating.
  5. Drink at least 0.033 litres water per kg of your body weight each day (so if you weight 60kg drink two litres a day).  Fat loss, performance – hydration is so important to your health.
  6. Don’t exercise at all at the moment? Aim to complete a 30 minute session every week for a month, two 30 minutes sessions a week the next month and three 30 minutes sessions the following month. Boom = Exercise habit created.
  7. Increase your NEAT. However much you exercise aim to increase your non exercise movement by at least 10% each day (i.e. walk more)
  8. Get more sleep. Enough sleep every night will help with weight loss, stress, energy levels.
  9. Learn something new. Want to learn to do a handstand, swim, play netball? Practicing towards mastering a skill will get you moving without exercise being the main goal itself.
  10. Set yourself a challenge. Run in a race, do a Tough Mudder, compete in a swimathon. Setting a challenge can give you the incentive to get to your training sessions and maintain focus.

What the new gym person needs to know

  1. Nobody is judging you. We were all new once and only dicks take the piss out of new people in a gym- the rest of us take the piss out of those dicks (not new people).
  2. Most people in a gym are not experts so don’t assume what that person in the corner who looks like a pro is doing is ‘right’.
  3. There is no one way to train so don’t worry if people are doing different things to you.
  4. If you aren’t sure how to do something ask a member of gym staff.
  5. Book in for an induction – gyms are a lot less scary when you know how the equipment works.
  6. Get a programme if your gym membership offers it- it will give you a good starting point.
  7. Try classes. They can be a great place to start if you aren’t really sure about the gym itself.
  8. Smile at people. Gym regulars tend to be a friendly bunch and we don’t think it’s weird talking to people we’ve never met in the changing rooms.
  9. If you aren’t keen on the first thing you try try something else – there will be something you enjoy and that will be the best way for you to get results.
  10. You don’t need to train every day. If you currently never exercise doing something once a week is a 100% improvement on your activity levels. You will still see results – it doesn’t have to be seven training sessions a week or nothing.

10 Things I Wish Someone Else Would Write a Blog About

Because I have zero idea!

  1. How to not to eat EVERY.SINGLE.PIECE.OF.CHOCOLATE.I.SEE.EVER (I’ve just stolen someone elses advent calender chocolate. True story!).
  2. How do people get up on their first alarm? I mean if it’s possible why was the snooze function invented?
  3. How do you put eyeliner on without looking like you’re a member the living dead?
  4. How do Les Mills Instructors learn their releases weeks before launch date? #lastminute.com.
  5. How to stop your laundry basket from overflowing. Seriously as soon as I almost get it empty it’s full again!
  6. Gardening for idiots.
  7. How to flirt without looking like you’re having some kind of fit.
  8. What to do with protein powder you really don’t like the taste of but have purchased 4 million kilos of.
  9. How to get bendier when you are built out of the least bendiest thing you can think of.
  10. How to use the toasters when you go down to breakfast in a hotel (they scare me).

If you have written a blog about any of these please point me to it!

How Paleo Eating Can Help With Weight Loss

5 reasons why eating a Paleo based diet can help you lose weight:

  • Protein

The Paleo diet encourages the eating of protein rich foods which helps control your appetite meaning you naturally eat fewer calories than you normally would.

  • Low Carb

Eliminating carbs such as bread, rice, pasta can reduce the number of calories consumed each day without really trying as these tend to be quite high calorie foods.  Yet you aren’t removing carbs from your diet completely as you continue to eat potatoes and veg – so hanger isn’t an issue!

  • Removes Processed Foods

Sticking to a Paleo diet tends to mean making most of your meals from scratch as you want to avoid many of the foods found in pre packaged meals.  Homemade food is likely to be lower in calories and contain more nutrients than a ready meal, and be more filling at that; so you will consume fewer calories and still feel more satisfied so less likely to snack later (thus keeping your calories lower than you might have with shop processed meals).

  • Reduces Sugar Intake

Processed sugar can add lots of calories to your daily intake (apart from the health issues too much sugar can cause).  Limiting your sugar intake to fruits and vegetables can help reduce your daily calorie intake.

  • No Calorie Counting / Eat When You’re Hungry

To lose weight you need to hit a safe calorie deficit – all of the above ‘rules’ to Paleo allow you to do this naturally – without having to painstakingly count every calorie every day.  By sticking to Paleo principles, if you’re hungry you can have an extra snack or meal without worrying you’ve gone over your calories budget and if you can eat when you’re hungry you are much less liekly to binge eat all the cake.  You may want to track at first to get the hang of how much you need to eat each day but after a while it will become second nature.

You don’t even need to eat Paleo all the time.  I follow the 80/20 rule and try and have 4 Paleo days a week adding a little bread and sugar into my diet on the other 3 days.  This still allows me to hit a calorie deficit most weeks without too much effort.

 

Twenty Things All Les Mills Instructors Will Know – Updated and 100% new content (take that 80% new content Advanced Training)

  1. The words Recommended and Required mean different things.
  2. Les Mills have Live Chat- when did that happen!?
  3. You won’t need to do 2 touchpoints a year if you fall out of a tree and break your leg whilst rescuing your cat in December.
  4. Yes, that appears to be the only example of special circumstances anyone of Facebook can imagine.
  5. Other than that you do.
  6. Except maybe you don’t.
  7. It’s complicated.
  8. But Tribal Gatherings do still count as a Touchpoint for all your programmes.
  9. Yes even if you don’t do that programme on the day.
  10. Maybe check on Facebook though just in case?
  11. Talking of Tribal Gatherings – Combat and Step will apparently always clash.
  12. Body Balance will always be on at the crack of dawn.
  13. This is just the law now. Like wearing Reebok is #thankyoureebok
  14. Future instructors will one day know of Aim 1 and Aim 2 in the same way I know of actual physical copies of releases – a mythical thing people more experienced that me reminisce about! I mean imagine waiting for the postman to deliver your DVDs!
  15. We will now do Advanced Training.
  16. Advanced Training is quite pricey though so Black Friday probably definitely needs to happen!
  17. Advanced, Elite – does anyone now know how the hierarchy works?
  18. Nobody knows how Tribe Coaches will be made now – can we cope with this much change in one go?
  19. But the portal seems able to cope with quarterly bookings this time round – what will we talk about on Facebook?
  20. Ahhh Virtual- we will talk about Virtual.

*Note this is intended as a tounge in cheek look at recent developments in the world of the Tribe and not intended to be taken too seriously!

How to Travel and Train

Travelling can throw you off your training routine, whether it be for a holiday abroad or at home or a short break or work trip.

However, there are a variety of ways you can keep active whilst travelling: 

  • Hotel Gyms

Many hotels now have gyms – albeit the quality of equipment can vary from a full gym worth of equipment to a couple of pieces of cardio equipment and a single dumbbell.  If you are staying in a hotel with a gym then taking your gym kit and an open mind can be one option.  You may be able to get an idea of what equipment the facility has from their website beforehand so you can plan a workout ahead of time, but if not you can probably work with what is there to keep moving- even if it means departing from your normal routine.     

  • Running

Free and something, you can do anywhere.  Often if I’m staying overnight, in a hotel I’ll just take my running gear and go for a 15-20 min run in the morning.  No checking gym opening hours required so you can fit it to whatever your schedule is.  The added bonus is running somewhere different to usual can be interesting – a run around the city’s sights or along the beach is often more inspiring than running round your local park (or for me down the local cycle paths) and the fresh air first thing can set you up for he day.

  • Yoga

Something which you can do in even the smallest of hotel rooms without worrying about people complaining about you jumping up and down and making noise!  If you already practice yoga you can probably run through your own sequences of moves but if you need inspiration, You Tube has lots of free guided yoga sessions which you could follow.

  • Virtual Services

There are lots of workouts you can do from home now- think Les Mills On Demand and Beach Body.  Some of these require equipment but plenty do not.  If you travel a lot it could be worth a subscription so you can workout in your hotel room when you are away.  If you don’t travel that often many services offer week long trials for free which you could utilise whilst on holiday.

  • Local Gyms

A great option to consider – especially if you are travelling in the UK.  Check if your current gym membership allows you access to any gyms in their chain, as you may be able to access without additional charges.  If not gyms such as The Gym Group and Pure Gym tend to do day and week pass options / trials for less than a tenner.  The benefit here is you can pretty much guarantee the gym will have all the equipment you need to stick to your normal workout routine without having to make changes.  You may even be able to get to a few classes if that floats your boat.  I did this when I went to my mums last Christmas – visiting the local Nuffield (I have a Nuffield membership) on Christmas Eve and then getting a day pass for The Gym on Boxing Day.  Managed to get my workouts in for an extra £7 without having to make any adjustments to what I wanted to do.

  • Body Weight Workouts

You can put together an entire cardio and / or resistance workout using body weight only (think push ups, burpees, lunges, squats, jumping, plank work).  This can be done indoors or outdoors to suit you.  I’m quite keen on short bursts of running (say 500m) with sets of jump lunges, squat jumps, burpees and press ups performed after every run- gives you a quick all over workout and lets you take in some fresh air. If space is tight you could focus on core stability moves and work the trunk of the body, taking out impact work.

  • Tabata

My favourite HIIT tool- 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest x 8.  You can do any moves you want.  7 rounds gives you about a thirty minute workout which will elevate the heart rate.  The ability to do any moves means you can do it anywhere with any equipment you have or just your body.  Type tabata timer into the app store and you will find lots of timers you can use.

  • Tennis / Golf

If you are on holiday abroad there will often be tennis courts or similar at your hotel.  Getting involved in some sports whilst you are away is a great way of getting exercise in – beach volleyball, tennis, golf- without really thinking about exercising.

  • Sight Seeing

Walking might seem less intense than your normal training sessions. But if you are on holiday and planning on visiting lots of sites remember that the walking you do will count towards keeping moving, so perhaps you want to leave the gym kit at home and just get in lots of steps whilst away.

  • Rest

If you travel all the time finding a system for training whilst away is a good idea.  However, if you are only away for a week or two on holiday there is no harm in deciding to just take a break from training completely.  This could be the perfect time to let the body rest so you are eager to go again upon your return.

I would love to hear other people’s ideas and methods of staying active whilst on the move.