- Work out how many calories you burn a day on average and eat this many (to maintain weight) or 20% less (to reduce weight)
- 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.
- 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.
- Eat protein. Aim to eat 1 to 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight. Will help you feel satisfied without overeating.
- 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, whatever your goal- hydration is so important to your health.
- 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.
- Increase your NEAT. However much you exercise aim to increase your non exercise movement by at least 10% each day over the next few months (i.e. walk more)
- Get more sleep. Enough sleep every night will help with weight loss, stress, energy levels. Seven hours is goals.
- Learn something new. Want to learn to do a handstand, swim, play netball? Working towards mastering a skill will get you moving without exercise being the main goal itself.
- Set yourself a challenge. Run 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.
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?
Up until a few years ago I did – I’ve made many New Year’s Resolutions over the years, in fact honestly I’d make the same resolutions year after year which I never kept.
These days I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions as such. Here’s why:
January is a shit time to make drastic changes
It’s cold, dark and everyone is depressed and skint after Christmas. It’s a rubbish time to decide to suddenly make drastic and often restrictive changes to your life. Result is you feel miserable two days in and give up. Planning to give up chocolate on January 1st when you probably have a shed load of left over chocolate in your cupboards is practically setting yourself up for failure. Deciding not to drink in the most miserable month of the year so you’re left sitting on the sofa instead of going out to catch up with friends is going to become unappealing quickly.
Resolutions tend to be negative
Generally we say things like I’m going to give up… sugar, wine, chocolate, smoking. It’s something we are NOT going to do anymore. This means we feel like we are depriving ourselves. Depriving yourself is rarely a long-term plan for success.
Resolutions tend to be vague
I want to lose weight, I want to get fit, I want to earn more money. They are goals / outcomes we’d like to reach yes, but they aren’t very specific and how and when they will be achieved isn’t always clear. How often do you make vague plans with a friend to ‘catch up soon’ only for that catch up to not happen? It’s not because we don’t want to catch up it’s just because we’ve been too vague for anything to actually happen. Resolutions can be a lot like that.
Resolutions end up leaving you feeling worse about yourself
If you don’t succeed then you feel like a failure. Yet if you set something too restrictive and ambitious you’re unlikely to stick to it and so you’re essentially setting yourself up to feel shit.
Negatives out the way – I fully believe in improving things – here’s what I think is better than making New Year’s Resolutions and why:
Change when you are ready
There’s a popular saying that if you’ve thought about it you’re ready. Right now, 2 days before New Year Day – if you’re thinking about stopping drinking fizzy drinks – stop. Right now. Why wait until Wednesday? If you want to start running start running – these things aren’t banned until January 1st.
If on January 1￼ you don’t feel ready to make a change but do a couple of weeks into the year start then, or in February or August or October, you haven’t got to wait until 2021 if you miss 1st January this year.
New Year’s Resolutions have the idea of starting at midnight on 1￼ January – change can however happen at any time. How often do you think I’ll start my diet on Monday and eat a weeks worth of food over the weekend knowing restriction is coming- you ‘could’ start a diet on Thursday (well we ‘could’ not call it a diet at all but that’s another blog altogether). Generally change that happens when you’re ready as opposed to an imposed time tends to be more effective.
Choosing to make positive changes
Positive changes are easier to put in place than ‘I won’t’ type changes. I will drink more water, I will eat vegetables with every meal, I will walk 10,000 steps a day. These are things you are going to do – so you do them and you’ve created a change. You might have also eaten ten chocolate bars but you’ve still eaten vegetables with every meal, the change has still happened. Positive changes make us feel better and so we are more likely to stick to them.
Goal setting over resolutions
I don’t make resolutions any more but I have sat down and done some goal setting for 2020. I have decided what I want to achieve, these are specific goals so they aren’t things like ‘I want to get fitter’ they are set things I’d like to get done, some will be quick and relatively easy others less so. Along with these goals I have made detailed plans of what I have to do to reach these specific goals and planned out realistic timescales for taking these actions. I’ve asked for feedback from people more experienced than me on these plans and discussed goals that include other people with them so we are on the same page. I know what I need to do personally and professionally in 2020 and how I plan to do it. I’ve got more chance of reaching these goals than if I left I chance.
Specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time specific. If you goal ticks all these things you’re more likely to be able to reach it.
Commit to creating habits / systems instead
If you want lose weight you could think of it as working towards creating habits that in turn help work towards weight loss. Make drinking more water, creating a calorie deficit and training three times a week a habit and you will achieve your goal but you also find it is something that starts to fit into your everyday life as opposed to something you have to work towards constantly. The benefit of this is you can pick one small thing to work on then once that has become a habit work on something else, building change gradually.
Re-framing how you think
Take a non fitness resolution (because it isn’t always about weight!) ‘I want to get over my ex and for them to see me looking happy.’
You could re-frame this thought process to what would make you happy? Seeing your friends more perhaps? So instead of I want to get over my ex you could say I want to go out and do something fun with my friends once a week / fortnight / month (commitment depending here). Instead of focusing on becoming happy or getting over someone you could just commit to doing something that has the potential to make you happy and allow feeling happy and getting over them to happen naturally – all the time your still succeeding in your actual goal of getting out and socialising. It sounds very self help book but when you start to habitually re-frame your thoughts, you start to find it easier to make changes.
I’ve made lots of changes to the way I approach things in recent years– old habits die hard admittedly but by looking at making changes in a more positive light you can create a you that you are happier with without setting a single resolution on New Years Day!
January 1st is the day where traditionally people go on ‘a diet’.
The word ‘Diet’ conjures up images of restriction, lettuce leaves, starving, no chocolate, cakes or sweets, cutting out carbs, cutting out fat … the list goes on.
What ‘Diet’ actually means is the sum of food consumed by a person – what we actually put in our mouth.
Some diets may be more health focused than others, some may promote weight loss and others weight gain, but we all have a ‘Diet’.
So if you were planning on starting a ‘Diet’ in 2020 – good news- you’re already on one and have been for the last 365 days!
So actually all you need to do is make some small improvements to that current diet to see weight loss.
If you have booked sessions with a trainer, signed up to a programme or plan (in person or online) then you know you will get the advice you need to do this sensibly.
If you are planning on making the changes yourself then don’t look to quick fix diets or plans that promise you a six pack in six weeks.
Work out how many calories you burn daily, take 20% off this and aim for that number of calories each day. This will create safe and sustainable calorie deficit which will allow you to reduce body fat steadily.
You can eat whatever you want as long as you stick to that calorie allowance. Perhaps you will want to make more sensible choices and eat less junk but overall the way to reduce body fat (which I am assuming is the goal) is to consume a little less than you burn.
Overtime you might want to start fine tuning what you eat, but to start just focusing on hitting a calorie deficit is a great habit which will make a huge difference to how you feel and one small change to your diet at a time will have a longer lasting effect on your health in 2020 than any quick fix fad diet.
What should you wear to the gym? Simple answer.
Whatever you feel comfortable in.
And that answer is fine if you spend a lot of time training and know what does and doesn’t work for you. This blog isn’t for you though.
Because that answer isn’t very helpful if you are thinking about starting some form of exercise in the New Year and really don’t know what to wear. Then it’s just another obstacle to getting started. I know because years ago when I was overweight and knew that I probably needed to do something not knowing what I should wear (and not feeling comfortable in a ton of lycra) was a good enough excuse to keep putting getting started off.
So here’s some tips to get started:
- You don’t need to spend lots of new kit. If you want to and can afford it and it will make you feel more confident by all means go splurge in Victoria Secrets. If you’re starting to dip your toe into the water you don’t need to though – go to Sports Direct or Primark and buy a couple of pairs of bottoms, a couple of tops and a couple of pairs of socks (and if youre female a couple of sports bras). They don’t need to be any fancy materials to start, as long as you feel comfortable and can move about in them they will work to get you started. As you get more into training and get to decide what you enjoy doing you can then invest in kit that works for that particular sport in time – right now those expensive compression running tops could be a waste of money if you find out that really you much prefer Zumba.
- You don’t need super expensive trainers. Same as with clothes. Once you settle on a sport or area of training you may wish to invest in certain shoes (lifting shoes, dance shoes, running shoes, cycle shoes) but to start just buy a pair of trainers that are comfortable. Think about what you are planning on doing. If you are going to try classes out a trainer with a spin spot on the sole (a circle type mark on the sole will indicate this) can be useful as it allows you to turn on the spot (which you will do in most dance based classes but is also useful in classes such as Body Combat) – most trainers in the ‘studio’ section on a sports store website will have this. These shoes will also work well if you plan on venturing into the gym. If you are going to go running look for a trainer in the running section of the store / website- it doesn’t need to be expensive right now. For cycling classes you may eventually want to be a cycle shoe you can use cleats with but until you know it’s the exercise for you just pick a trainer with a decent sole (very thin soles will make the class a little painful).
- You don’t need to wear very fitted clothes. Of course you can if that’s what makes you feel good but don’t feel the pressure to go super skimpy lycra clad if that will make you feel self conscious. People wear all sorts of things to the gym from baggy tops to brightly coloured comic strip style leggings so whatever style will make you feel good is the style to pick and if that means covering up or wearing something loose go for it (just try and make sure it’s not so baggy it impedes safe movement / is something you risk tripping up on!)
- You don’t need to expose lots of flesh. As above, wear what makes you feel good. Some people like wearing shorts or a crop top to train in, others people prefer to wear leggings and vest tops or long sleeve tops – it has nothing to do with how ‘fit’ people are or what their abs look like – it’s just personal preference as to what makes people feel comfortable whilst training so go as covered or uncovered as you wish.
- Your basic kit shopping list might look something like this:
- Gym bag (big enough to fit everything in)
- A sports bra (females) and a comfortable pair of knickers / Boxers
- Leggings or shorts
- A comfortable, breathable top (t shirt, vest, crop top) – not something like a jumper because you’ll just be too hot
- Hair bobble if you have long hair
- Water bottle
- Small towel
Most days I train / teach three times a day: before work, lunchtime and after work. This means twice a day I shower and get ready for work in a gym changing room. I normally have 10- 20 minutes to do this so I’m pretty used to getting dressed fast (and I’m probably at the low maintenance end of low maintenance to be honest – if you’ve met me you have probably seen me without make up on and almost definitely on a day when I haven’t brushed my hair).
So when someone said they couldn’t train at lunchtime because they wouldn’t have time to shower etc. afterwards it got me thinking who else is put off by this and I decided to list my tips for a quick no frills routine which might help anyone who wants to train around work but is put off by the post sweat grooming issue!
- Pack your bag the night before so you know you won’t forget anything. When I forget my bra or one shoe it’s always because I’ve packed in a rush that morning.
- Buy a camping towel- a) they are lightweight and fold up small b) They dry quickly and don’t retain water so don’t make your gym bag wet and heavy after use
- Pack a wash bag with all the things you will need and it leave in your gym bag at all times – this is less than you think: shower gel (or not – some gyms have those little shower gel dispensers in the showers), shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste – anything else just adds unnecessary time
- Minimise your routine as much as you can – quick shower, 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner – if you have to wash your hair (I’m not so much of a tomboy that I’d go as far as suggesting combined body and hair wash but to be fair it is an option)
- Baby oil is great as moisturiser – makes your skin super soft but much quicker than a lotion as you can put it on whilst your skin is still wet
- Baby wipes and dry shower gel (it exists- try Boots) are great cheats if you didn’t do too much cardio – you will know if you can get away with this or not on any given day (more often than not the answer is no but they are useful for emergencies none the less)
- Dry shampoo is also your friend. As are high pony tails/ the scraped back / Croydon Facelift pony tail.
- You actually need to wash your hair less often than you think even after training. Give it twenty minutes and it will dry out and won’t actually smell – I wash my hair maybe 2/3 times a week max.
- Don’t waste time doing the towel dance. All women know what the towel dance is and quite frankly it’s a waste of time. A) Nobody is looking at you and b) you normally end up being naked for longer whilst trying to put your knickers on balancing on one leg and holding a towel round you than if you just got dressed.
- Whilst I’m at it – do not be one of those people who gets dressed in the shower- you will get your clothes wet and you are holding up the people waiting.
- Pack clothes which don’t crease – I’m fond of lycra.
- If you can get away with not wearing tights you will save at least five minutes- putting on tights when you’ve just exercised is almost as much exercise as taking your sports bra off after a session.
- You don’t need to put on lots of makeup after a workout- keep it minimal and take advantage of the natural glow your skin will now have to speed up the process of putting on your make up
- Get your eyebrows and eyelashes tinted if having a bare face isn’t an option – this will save valuable drawing on yourself time!
- Work out what your gym has in the way of hairdryers – if they have them don’t pack one! I personally don’t blow dry my hair as it dries by itself in about 15 minutes but I’m led to believe that’s not usual.
- Do you actually need to straighten your hair?
Getting ready for work is dull and should take as little time as possible anyway – don’t let it stop you from getting a workout in – life is too short.
Note: This is a bit of a blog for the girls really- I’m going to assume most men are pretty much wash and go anyway but if not please re-read the above!
Do you need a PT?
Given the number of expenses we all have these days this is a fair question and if you are going to part with a chunk of cash each month you are more than entitled to ask and understand why having a PT might benefit you, so I thought a brief summary of why you might find hiring a PT useful.
1.You are new to the gym
New to exercise and not sure where to start. Even just a one off block of sessions with a PT could give you a solid starting point, an idea of how to use equipment, execute moves safely and help you feel confident in the environment.
2. You have been going to the gym for a while with limited results / are bored
You’ve used the gym for years, kind of know what you’re doing but your workouts feel stale and like they are no longer challenging you and results have halted. A PT can help reinvent your training patterns to make your workouts feel fresh again as well as effective.
3.You have set yourself a goal
Just set a goal (running a marathon, entering a triathlon, joined a football team, want to be able to do a set of 5 pull ups unaided) a PT will be able to design sessions specifically tailored towards that goal.
4.You want to lose (or gain) weight / mass
Much like point 3, a PT can guide you so your nutrition and sessions are tailored to this goal.
5.You are lacking motivation / accountability
Sometimes it isn’t the knowledge that you are lacking it’s having someone there to keep you going, ensuring you get the sessions in, help you enjoy them and just generally keep you on track.
6.You want to improve your technique
Maybe you just want to focus on one of two lifts – a PT can work with you on those specifics, so even if you wanted to train mostly on your own and just have weekly or monthly technique focused sessions that could benefit you in terms of results that could always be an option.
7.You lack confidence in the gym
Maybe this links in with being new to training or maybe you do lots of classes but would like to add more variety to your week and aren’t sure where to start or how to use some of the equipment. Working with someone can increase your confidence and in turn help you enjoy training more.
- 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).
- Most people in gyms are not experts so don’t assume what that person in the corner who looks like a pro is doing is ‘right’.
- There is no one way to train so don’t worry if people are doing different things to you.
- If you aren’t sure how to do something ask a member of gym staff. They are doing this job because they like helping people.
- Book in for an induction – gyms are a lot less scary when you know how the equipment works.
- Get a programme if your gym membership offers it- it will give you a good starting point.
- Try classes. They can be a great place to start if you aren’t really sure about the gym itself.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This time last week I went to Les Mills Tribal Gathering in Twickenham (London).
I’d ummed and ahhed about going, booking a space but not booking travel until the week before. I like going and trying the new releases and meeting people (and to be fair now unlimited CPD is now included in the price of your music I kind of think why not go to as much as possible, I’m quite keen on self development and learning). Equally however I always feel a bit apprehensive going to these things alone.
It was interesting to read on some social media forums this week that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Logically you know it isn’t the case that everyone has gone with a massive group of people and knows everyone, but when you walk into a room of chattering noise alone it can feel that way.
I’m fortunate I know quite a few Les Mills instructors around the country and have spoken to so many people via social media over the last couple of years that there’s always people I know pretty well without having ever met who I can catch up with, and it’s brilliant to put real faces to names (this is another reason I love travelling a bit further to these events – getting to meet those people). Equally, I’m naturally quite a shy anxious person so, even with all those absolute positives, there can be moments in the day when it feels a bit overwhelming and you just want to see a familiar face.
I was planning to write a blog on the topic and then saw the posts bringing the topic up and I think it’s really positive that people feel they can have these conversations and highlight those feelings, because sometimes there’s an urge to hide them away for fear of looking weak or like a billy no mates. In highlighting that it’s common for people to feel a bit nervous and alone at these events it encourages you to make the effort to speak to strangers, go up to people on there own and say hi and generally make a brilliant event even better.
I know, even though I get a bit nervous at these things, I can make conversations with people I’ve not met so it’s manageable for me, but for some people perhaps we need to be the one to go and break the ice and that’s a great reminder for us all. Equally, some people may look quite confident (I will go and chat to people I don’t know which may make me appear more outgoing than I feel) but be anxious behind that, so just smiling and saying hi to everyone is a great way to go.
It also made me remember how our new participants feel when they first walk into class. That feeling that everyone seems to know everyone and what they are doing and perhaps they don’t really belong here. It’s a great reminder of the care we need to take to make them feel welcome.
It is also worth while remembering what we would say to that participant and applying that to ourselves in a situation like this.
Ultimately, I know that it’s ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes, it’s good to make yourself do those things you’re a bit scared of sometimes even. I also know by going and enjoying the day, even if there were times I was a bit lost or nervous I overcame those feelings a bit. I had a great day, met some brilliant people in real life who I’ve known via Facebook for a while and next time I go to a Tribal Gathering alone I have a couple of positive experiences of doing so behind me to help me reduce the nerves (I also travelled to Glasgow alone).
What can I suggest you do if you’re nervous about going to the next Tribal Gathering alone or if you want to try a class at your gym but are anxious about making that first step?
- We all get nervous about stepping out our comfort zones (hopefully the above demonstrates that) – knowing these feelings are not exclusive to you can reduce their impact.
2. Find out whose going who you do know and arrange to meet before hand so you have someone to walk in with – those first few moments are normally the ones that are the hardest and once you’re moving it’s not so bad.
3. Take some time out if you need to during the event. Grab a coffee and a quiet spot and regroup (but Tribal specific that one!)
4. If you’re new to a class let the instructor know you’re a bit nervous – they’ll help ease those nerves and make sure you have a good first class… now if you’re at Tribal you might not be able to speak to the presenter beforehand but you can chat to those around you – let’s face it they too are all instructors!
5. Remember it’s always ok to leave. I can almost guarantee once you’re there you’ll have fun and decide not to, but knowing that at the start of the day / the class can help get you through the door.
Sometimes doing things you actually want to do is still hard because our brains get in the way of us – there’s ways to get over that though!
I’ve written previously about the fitness programme for group exercise instructors and enthusiasts which I’m involved in and have also completed myself, Jump 4.2. For six weeks across November and December Jump 4.2 is holding shorter 6 week Christmas Shred (the Christmas JUMPer shred- get it?). So given that I think it’s always tough to stay on track with your training and nutrition at this time of year (I work in an office with never ending mince pies, chocolate and meals out over Christmas I thought it would be great to try and do the Shred alongside everyone taking part.
We started last week (well we technically started on 11th November when everyone got access to their learning platforms and lots of videos to watch introducing the Shred, how everything would work and covering some basics on training, nutrition and goals.
Week 1 then commenced with some ‘testing’ exercises to do (in other words some key exercises to do and record where we currently are with them) which I mixed in with my normal training for that week, calculating how many calories I should be aiming for (now I normally use an online calorie counter so calculating using the traditional calculation method was an eye opener as I came out with a lower amount than the calculators provide) and adjusting how many calories I was eating to fit in with this new target. There was also some mindset videos to work through focusing on being productive with your time. That’s going to come in useful over the next few weeks as I try and fit up to five workouts into my week at what is (as I suspect it is for most of us) one of the most hectic periods of the year.
Already after one week I feel good. It’s always rejuvenating to refocus and I’m looking forward to getting some tough training sessions in, seeing if I improve with any of my weights (I’m not that competitive so this is something I struggle with normally) and hopefully using the accountability of the group to keep my mince pie consumption to normal person levels (note to self a whole box of mince pies and a family sized yule log is not a small daily snack even if it is Christmas!).
I’m going to keep you up to date over the next six weeks, partly to keep my self accountable and partly to hopefully inspire some of you to stay focused whilst still enjoying Christmas.
If you have any questions about what I’m doing or think you might be interested in taking part in Jump 4.2 in January let me know and we can have a chat about it.
Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed with everything that is going on?
I suspect a lot of people do because one of the most common reasons people give for not exercising or looking at what they eat is that they are too busy.
I’ve said here before that really this can be overcome with planning, working out what you need to prioritise and what you can realistically do, being realistic about your goals. I stand by this, but I also get it.
I think it’s a natural feeling to have sometimes, to be completely overwhelmed. Whether you already train regularly, eat pretty well, juggle lots of jobs and tasks or whether these are things you aspire to do but don’t feel like you do right now, sometimes it just feels like there’s too much stuff.
Sometimes out of nowhere the balls your kept in the air for ages feel like too many balls or trying to change one small thing in your house of cards feels like it will bring the whole thing down.
This is when you need to stop and evaluate.
‘Hustle’ is great. If you want things you do have to work, whether that be in your career or working towards your ideal physique, but when you attempt to do everything perfectly you can end up reaching the point you actually are doing nothing because it’s all just got too much.
Sometimes you need to sit and look at everything on your to do list. Take off some of the pointless tasks that don’t really matter. Look at your training, look at your diet and pin point exactly what is you need to focus on right now and forget about everything else you hear about and think maybe you should be doing too.
My plan for the 6 weeks or so before Christmas? Well I noticed these last few days I’ve been putting off important shit because I’ve felt a little bit overwhelmed. When I’m overwhelmed i comfort eat, when I comfort eat I feel sluggish and don’t really want to train.
I’ve stripped my work load back to a manageable amount of work, with the things that will earn me money taking priority. I know I’ll get more results taking longer to do things I want to do but actually doing them rather than just saying I really must get on with that.
I’m going to track my food, not cut stuff out or eat differently (It’s Christmas, there’s going to be cake and I’m not saying no!) just make sure I’m staying within my TDEE. That will make me feel better about training – Training I want to hit hard. Not hard as in spend hours in the gym, but plan my sessions in and treat them like appointments and be 100% present in the session to be the best of my ability that day.
Essentially I’m planning to finish 2019 by focusing on doing the basics well. That’s going to make life feel simpler and therefore reduce that feeling of juggling lots of balls.
If right now you feel like you can’t hit your fitness goals because you’ve too much on try taking a look, seeing what you can drop and what really simple things you can commit to right now to get you closer to your goals by the end of 2019.