- 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.
1) Pick a goal that means something – weight loss is all very well and good but wanting to feel great for that wedding you’re going to in June will provide a bit more focus.
2) Consider a goal that is a physical challenge over aesthetics. Aiming to run a 10km will help with weight loss but also provide so much more of a feeling of accomplishment
3) Try a few different types of exercise until you find one you enjoy. There’s no point running and hating it and wanting to quit when you could be doing Body Pump and loving it.
4) Don’t listen to people. People always have an opinion – you’re doing too much, you’re not doing the right things, they did this and that worked so you should do that. Unless you’re training for the Olympics (and if you’re reading this I’m going to guess you are not) you do not need to make exercise complicated- move more in any way you enjoy.
5) OK maybe listen to the Fit Pros. If you do want advice speak to a PT or fitness instructor. This is particularly the case if you have a specific goal in mind, as this might involve doing some more specific training.
If you want to start exercising and aren’t sure where to start drop me a message today. I will try to help (not sell you anything just help provide a bit of direction) get you started!
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.
I started week 3 feeling good- I had lost a few pounds and generally felt good from being a bit more active than normal and a bit more aware of what I was eating.
Week 3 was a bit harder in terms in fitting in workouts. Certain jobs that needed doing such as my tax return meant that I didn’t train as much as I wanted and I relaxed how much I ate over the week, increasing my calories.
Could I have done more? Yes. But to be fair watching the videos and doing the workouts when I could, has kept me accountable going into December. For me that is going to be the key this month. I don’t want to miss out on the food and drink that’s going to be everywhere but also don’t want to completely let go of my routine. Therefore having an aim each week for training sessions and calories will keep me in check, even if I miss those goals slightly, trying to work towards those will keep me close to where I want to be.
That would be my key piece of advice for anyone looking to start a plan in the New Year. What you get out of anything depends on what you are willing to put in and there is no right or wrong way of defining success. Going into something knowing what you want out of it and how much you need to put in to get there means you’re more likely to succeed as your expectations will be realistic to your lifestyle.
1. You don’t need to start heavy. I mean you want to use challenging weights for you to get the most from the class but that doesn’t mean matching regulars plate for plate in class one, it’s about lifting what you can and seeing how you progress, so don’t be put off by looking through the window and seeing lots of people lifting more than you think you can.
2. If you can get to the class at least 10 minutes before you will have a more enjoyable experience as you will be able to get set up without rushing, including time for that last minute nervous wee!
3. Say hi to the instructor. Tell us you are new to Pump and we will help you get set up and make sure you’re ok during the class.
4. As a general rule you will need: a bar, clips, a variety of weight plates, a step and a mat every release. The only things you actually need to bring with you are some water and perhaps a towel.
5. It’s ok to be confused at first. There’s lots of moves you may not have heard of or done before, the beat can be fast and we have pretty short changeovers between tracks. Your instructor won’t mind (or call you out) if you take a bit longer to grab some water and change your weights or don’t quite get things straight away – all of us have felt that first class confusion!
6. There is a thing called Smart Start. If you get to the back track (track 4) and you have done as much as you can that’s ok – you can leave (no need to put equipment away the instructor will do it at the end of the class). Just give the instructor a nod or a wave so we know you are ok and then next time try and stay for one extra track until you feel ok doing the whole class.
7. Alternatives are there for a reason. If we say you can drop the weight if you’re struggling we really mean it. Doing the moves well in a modified position will bring greater results than trying to do a move with a heavy weight but poor form.
8. The music is a huge part of Body Pump. Not only does singing along help you power through a workout but the tempos we use allow us to work our muscles in different ways across the class, so when the instructor tells you to slow down or encourages you to follow their rhythm they are just an OCD maniac – they’re trying to maximise your results!
9. You will feel it the next day. You do a lot of reps in a Pump class so don’t worry if DOMs hit the next day – it does get easier over time.
10. It’s a fun class. Don’t feel nervous about starting, turn up, smile, do what you can and enjoy the music whilst giving something challenging a go.