How Much Is Enough?

Yesterday I set out to prep my meals for the week in 30 minutes.

It ended up taking an hour because I set all the fire alarms in my building off!

But still, 5 lunches, 4 dinners and a couple of snacks plus a fight with a smoke alarm in 60 minutes – that’s not bad going.

They aren’t the most impressive meals – I’m not being invited onto Masterchef anytime soon, but they will all taste good, are nutritious, are made up of real foods – carbs, proteins, fats – the lot.

My point?

It’s not that you don’t need to cut foods out of live off kale and air to be healthy (that wouldn’t be a bad point to be fair).

It’s not that if you’re busy through the week a bit of meal prep once a week is an amazing tool to keep you on track to your nutrition goals (again pretty good point).

It’s to manage your own expectations of yourself and your week.

Typically Sunday is my only day ‘off’. I know I need to prepare food for the week but if that took up my whole Sunday how often would I end up sacking it off?

So I accept that my food is a bit simple, nothing fancy, in exchange for only needing an hour to get it all done.

If cooking was a relaxing pleasure for me I’d possibly spend longer on it, but that’s not the case.

I try and apply this logic to my fitness as a whole – what would be ideal? How would the ideal affect my life? If it would make me stressed or resentful sod the ideal and find something more realistic to stick to.

4,000 Calories

It was my birthday on Tuesday and someone at work bought me a 4,000 calorie army ration pack as a challenge, seeing if I could eat it in a day.

See I have a reputation at work for eating quite a lot, and having been in the army and had these ration packs they were intrigued if I could eat one.

I have to say when they first said it I thought 4,000 calories would be easy- I eat around 2,500 calories most days anyway on average and can eat more on days when there’s cake in the office.

But when I looked at the amount of food in the box I realised that whilst I eat a lot of calories through the day I tend to eat a lot of high calorie, lower density foods whereas this menu was going to make me feel full and make eating it harder – in particular I was aware of how much liquid there was in the box which I assumed would make me feel full quicker and make eating everything harder.

So my days food looked like this:

8.30 am Breakfast – Potatoe and beans, Grapefruit flavoured energy drink, black coffee with sugar

10.00 am – Sweets, Coffee with creamer and sugar

11.00 am – Fruit biscuits, coffee with creamer and sugar

12.00 pm – Nuts (75g) and what I can only describe as flavoured sugar water

1.00 pm – Spicy sausage and wedges, cola flavoured energy drink

2.00 pm – Trained (weights)

3.00 pm – Brownie and hot chocolate

4.00 pm – Seaseme biscuits, tea with sugar

4.30 pm – Tuna mayo and rank tatsing lemon energy drink

5.00 pm – Cola flavoured energy drink and extra custard tart because why not

7.15 pm – Taught Spin

8.00 pm – Drank wine (not in box lol)

11.00 pm – Thai soup with rice and chicken

Now I wouldn’t recommend this as an average days eating – I was basically forcing myself to eat when I was full and felt completely overloaded on sugar.

BUT HERE IS WHAT I LEARNT.

Firstly, eating enough gives you more energy .

I’m not suggesting I should eat 4,000 calories a day- that would see me in a pretty big surplus pretty quickly, but eating lots made me feel good in the gym.  Obviously in everyday life I would suggest stopping eating when you feel full not powering through endless meals but feeling energetic in the gym is a good thing.  In particular drinking carbs for energy is extremely helpful- on this it went to an extreme that I just felt overloaded but with a more balanced approach it’s a winner.

Secondly, eating foods with a higher density fills you up.

My worry at the start had been that the amount of volume, liquid especially and whether I’d physically be able to eat it.  It was a challenge!  So the lesson here is when you are struggling to stick to a calorie deficit because you’re hungry have a look at the density of the foods your eating and see if you can turn some of those calories into foods that are more filling for their calorie value (a plate of chicken and veg will keep you fuller for longer than a chocolate bar of the same calorie value).

Scoring an Own Goal?

I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend about goals.

Goals are great for keeping you motivated and on track with your training and nutrition, and people who are quite consistent with their eating and training are often very good at setting and then working towards goals.  This is a good thing obviously, but equally it can cause us to put unnecessary stress on ourselves.

See when we are very motivated to achieve XYZ it can become easy to start comparing yourself to others, to start picking holes in our own progress and under valuing our own results.  It can also become difficult to recognise that as your goals differ from other people’s what their success looks like and what your success looks like will also be different.  Even more so as your goals change what you measure results on might change at the same time at which point it can become even harder to accept the subsequent changes to our body or strength.

Added to this, most of us generally take on board what other people say and think about our bodies with minimal questioning.  So if those around us comment on say our weight when we have been training to increase our strength (as opposed to trying to lose weight) it can be difficult to remind ourselves that our weight isn’t important to us because that isn’t our goal.

What I’m trying to articulate here is that at a really basic level setting goals is a great start to a fitness journey but for people where fitness is already part of everyday life we can sometimes get confused about what our goals are and what they mean by paying too much attention to other people’s opinions and other people’s goals.

For me, previously my goals have been running orientated and next year I’d like to pick that up again, at which point my training and nutrition will need to reflect that.  Right now though, if I am totally honest I need a break from a specific goal.  I’ve spent the last few years chasing one goal and qualification after another and need a bit of a break.  I actually just want to train and eat to feel good.

I often say I’d like to be leaner, but if I’m honest right now I’m no willing to stop eating cake in the quantity I do or train more often or for longer that I currently do, so I’m not likely to get leaner than I currently am as I don’t want to change my current lifestyle.

That will change- probably next year I will reset everything and work towards a running based goal.  But until then if I see someone smashing out some PBs, running marathons or looking stage ready and feel that sense of failure that I’m not in that condition right now I need to remember I’m not in that condition because I haven’t trained to be in that condition and I haven’t trained to be in that condition because that is not my goal.

Set a goal by all means. Set one that means something to you. Then work to that goal and don’t be swayed by what other people think, say or are doing.  And if you change your mind and change your goal that’s fine, you can always readjust your own goal posts.

 

 

 

Easy ways to work on your own mental health

Following Mental Health Awareness Day Thursday I wanted to offer some ideas of simple things you can do relating to fitness and nutrition to help improve your mental health (whoever you are) and perhaps even help manage depression and anxiety:

1) Drink water

Most of us don’t drink enough water at the best of time and if you feel low the chances are you will drink even less. Fill a water bottle and sip throughout the day. Dehyration causes fatigue and has been linked to feelings of depression so drinking water is a cheap, low effort way of helping you feel a bit better.

2) Vitamin D

This can help make you feel better natutally. You can buy supplements, a light box, possibly use a sunbed or even better get outside and get some fresh air at the same time. Little effort required for a potential improvement in your mood.

3) Fish Oil

Omega 3 has been linked to improving symptons of mild depression. Make the effort to take a supplement each day – you can buy it in liquid form if you can’t swallow tablets (and are brave!). This was one simple habit that has worked well for me.

4) Eat regular meals

When you feel low eating proper meals at regular times can go out the window. Set an alarm for regular intervals and eat a small simple meal when it goes off. This will help stabilise your mood and create a feeling of routine and normality which can help when life feels like it’s crumblig around you.

5) Eat colourful food

Go to the shop and buy lots of different colourerd food. If you don’t feel like cooking buy prepared veg and fruit. Eating a variety of colours will mean your getting a variety of nutrients and will help improve your mood as well as your health.

6) Eat simple healthy meals

Eating healthy foods can have a dramatic affect on how well your mind feels. If I’ve had a bad week a simple healthy meal can help me feel more positive and in control of my own mind and body. It may sound stupid but when I eat well I feel like my body feels better and I’m looking after myself which in turn makes me feel brighter within myself. On days like this I won’t have the energy to cook a fancy meal so I go for a simple piece of salmon I can microwave or grill and a pack of microwave veg. 10 minutes to prepare a good quality meal.

7) Try some alternative meal prep

The holy grail of fitness freaks! Cooking is the last thing you want to do when you feel depressed. So if you find yourself having a good day make the most of it and prepare so batches of food that you can freeze. Then on days you just can’t face cooking you can defrost one of these meals and still eat something homemade.

8) Buy a slow cooker

Slow cookers allow you to make healthy tasty meals with little effort -and a casserole is brilliant comfort food. They are great for preparing a comforting meal without much effort and will make you feel better than turning to chocolate and other quick food sources that we often crave when we feel low.

9) Drink less coffee

Adrenal Fatigue and depression / anxiety are linked. Too much coffee puts you at risk of developing adrenal fatigue – drinking less will help reduce stress levels. You could try a herbal tea instead which many people find helps then relax.

10) Walk

Getting outside helps you move more -that will help your mental health. Fresh air will help lift your mood. Being outside will help increase vitamin D intake. Walking can help clear your head. Walking is free. In short one of the best and most simple things you can do to help yourself fell more positive.

11) Exercise

As I said moving has been shown to help manage many mental health issues. You may not feel much like it but it can be in any form and doesn’t need to be for long periods of time to help. Start small and build up as you start to feel like you can.

12) Dance

Stick music on and just move to the music. Music can improve mood as can moving which makes thos fun activity a win win mood boosting activity.

13) Try group exercise

Nerve wracking and requires motivation. Sounds awful if you aren’t having the best day. But if you can push yourself to walk into the room you can find exercise, motivation, good music and social interaction in one place. It’s hard to leave a class not feeling at least a little bit more positive than when you walked in.

14) Join a team or club

Another nervewracking idea. Another idea which will allow you to exercise which will help your mental health and get to meet new people, another great mood booster. It can also help boose confidence which will help your mental health dramatically.

15) Try yoga

A chance to challenge your body and stretch along with a focus on breathing and mental wellbeing. You could try a class or find a free video on You tube. You could do an hour or even 5 minutes. Whatever you feel like at the start there is an option you could try out and you may feel more relaxed by the end of it.

Do you have any other tips for improving your mental health?

5 Reasons Group Ex Instructors should consider signing up to Jump 4.2

Hello!

So today’s blog is actually a video. If you follow my blog you know I’ve been blogging about my progress on the fitness nutrition and mindset programme Jump 4.2. This is a bit of a follow up to that where I explain 5 reasons why any group ex instructors or regular participants who train a lot but aren’t getting the results they want should consider doing Jump.

I’m not your traditional advert for a fitness programme. I haven’t had a massive physical transformation in 8 weeks – I haven’t developed a six-pack. What I have gained from working with Ricky is a healthy relationship with food, my training and my own head. I can have weeks where I eat too much and don’t train of course, but now I can deal with them – they don’t derail my progress or make me feel like I need to start again. I know what I can achieve if I want to get super lean, equally I know where my happy place is where I’m fit, healthy and able to enjoy life.

I think that’s what most of us really want. Most of us don’t want to give up cake and cocktails or spend hours in the gym in exchange for abs- we just want to feel good whilst still enjoying our favourite indulgences. If that’s you then I’m the proof that Jump 4.2 works – I’m the most boring yet honest advertisement going!

The last intake in 2019 opens on 1st September. If you are interested and have any questions you can contact me on instagram DM @heather.sherwood or Ricky Long @rickylong42 or @jump4.2.

I have a couple of discount codes for 15% off – if you would like to sign up with a discount drop me a message.

Anyway – here’s my video!

Jump 4.2 Video

Jump 4.2 – Week 8

I’ve been AWOL for the last week, rather busy between a mixture of work and personal stuff, and I started writing this blog last Thursday but then never got round to finishing it.  I could have finished it if I’m honest, it’s just that in the grand scheme of things a few other things were more urgent.

So I guess that’s the lesson for me on week 8 of Jump 4.2; time management, priorities and allowing things to slide occasionally.

As a PA / administrator I would like to say I am pretty organised and hitting deadlines is vital for me to be good at my job, this blog would suggest otherwise perhaps, BUT another thing that is vital is knowing how to prioritise your work and getting the most important things done first.

A heavy workload last week, along with a spa afternoon booked in and mum mum visiting for the weekend meant I was a bit limited on time to do things I enjoy but aren’t money earners (like this blog) or non negotiable appointments (my mum, the spa).  So I accepted that some things I wanted to get done but which weren’t essential needed to be put on the back burner.

The thing is (and we all do it) it is easy to get caught up in the tasks we enjoy or feel comfortable with, but sometimes we need to be strict with our own time management to be more productive and serve our self the best we can.  Your priorities will constantly evolve so just being aware of what you need to do compared to what you’d do in a ideal world is the best thing you can do to stay organised.

By organised I actually mean sane.  When you don’t feel on top of your to do list (at work or at home) it’s difficult to feel good within yourself as stress levels rise and self care may begin to slip.  Can you always be on top of your to do list though?  Unless your superwoman/man probably not.  So as much as planning and sticking to your plan is important, part of time management in itself is knowing when to put something on the back burner for a bit, so you can get the important stuff done and feel positive rather than like a failure.

So what did I do in week 8 of Jump?  Well I stayed aware of my calorie intake even though I wasn’t actively aiming for a deficit, I stuck to lots of positive habits most days, I barely trained but decided around Wednesday that I’d accept that because I was actually a bit tired and felt like I needed a rest.  Oh and I had a massage!  That’s not sticking to Jump 100% but it’s not a bad week either.

What I’ve learnt over the eight weeks is more important than what I’ve done this last week.  What I have learnt is to be a bit more pragmatic about my diet and training.  Accept I’m in control of it, but it will still never be perfect because I’m an average person who will have social occasions to go to and days when I want ice cream for breakfast.  The key is to acknowledge that for every few ‘good’ days there might be some ‘bad’ days, yet one bad day doesn’t ruin a week that has otherwise been positive.  In training your mind to accept this you allow yourself the freedom to improve your training and nutrition rather than staying trapped in a never ending cycle of assuming you need perfection to achieve results.

So your training and nutrition is much like your to do list, sometimes you need to adjust your expectations and be flexible with timescales and actions to keep yourself sane, it doesn’t mean you’re doing badly just that your managing your time and your priorities appropriately.

Two things to finish:

  1. If you are a group exercise instructor or do a lot of group exercise classes as a a participant and would like to know more about Jump 4.2 drop me a message, I can answer any queries and maybe even help with a discount….
  2. Because I think it ties in well below is a link to my productivity planner which I designed to help you stay focused when you feel like things are getting on top of you.  If you are struggling to stay focused try using his for a few days to keep you on track (p.s. this is a day organiser not a fitness organsier).

Link To Productivity Planner

 

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.