How Strict Do I Need To Be?

I’m a fan of a relaxed Paleo diet- if calorie tracking doesn’t work for you a four day on three day off ‘paleoish’ diet can be a good way of managing calories without counting.

When people start Paleo for the first time the most common question asked is …

Can I … [insert hack here]

Can I have almond milk in coffee?

Can I have nut butters?

Can I have fruit and nut based bars?

My answer is always well technically if you were to follow Paleo strictly no, but as we are looking at a Paleo based way of eating then yes if it makes you happy and enjoy your food.

Essentially you have two choices when you elect to do a method of eating such as this.

Either do it as it is prescribed.

Or roughly follow it but add in a few of your own rules.

Neither is the right or wrong way (and there are so many variations in between).

The choice on how you approach it depends on what you want from your diet.

If you’re doing two weeks of Paleo to kick start a bit of fat loss, well to be honest the more strict you are with the bigger results you’ll see.  And yes, you might really crave pancakes for breakfast for two weeks, but it is just two weeks so just abstaining for fourteen days won’t kill you.

On the other hand if you’re doing two weeks of Paleo to just re-set some habits or if you’re planning on doing Paleo as a longer term way of eating then having a few ‘adjustments’ to the rules might well serve you better.

Equally if you know you won’t last two weeks without a few tweaks there is not point setting yourself up for failure by not making those tweaks.  80% is always going to be more effective than 100% saint for ten minutes before giving up will be!

Hopefully by now you know there’s no right or wrong way of eating – the way that suits you won’t suit everyone else, so it stands to reason that the decision of how closely you stick to something also needs to be personal to you.

Social media is awash these days with judgement over food.  I’m in one particular group where people defend their way of eating (Keto, IM Fasting, plant based) with zeal and lament anyone who doesn’t do the same as them or doesn’t follow that particular diet in exactly the same way as them (who doesn’t love a they’re doing it wrong post).  Don’t get me wrong there are times when I see things and think OK- perhaps you’re over complicating this or hmmm, I think you’re looking in the wrong place for the problem here; but actually if it suits them and makes them happy and isn’t a diet of cyanide that is going to kill them then it’s none of my business.  You can offer educated advice but you have no out and out right to be heard.

I digress – how strict you follow a food plan should depend on your goals and how you feel.

My general rule of how to decide what’s right for you.  Think about making those little adjustments – does the idea of adding a bit of flour to some pancakes for breakfast make you smile and really look forward to that meal when you wake up tomorrow or are you already feeling guilty about ‘breaking the rules’ before you’ve even done it?  That normally gives you a decent idea of which way will work best for you, because if what you eat makes you feel guilty after eating it that’s not going to lead anywhere pleasant.

This outlook can be expanded beyond Paleo to any way of eating, way of training, in fact way of living.

Does what you are doing make you happy.  Yes – keep doing it then.  No – maybe you need to make some adjustments to change that.

Will adjusting the training plan you’ve been given make you feel like you’ve ruined your workout or will swapping those sprints out for a row make you feel 100% more successful.  Depending on your answer to those questions you have your answer as to whether you should follow the ‘rules’ to the letter or not.

What kind of person are you?  If you feel guilty when you bend a rule then stick to them and don’t make yourself feel guilty.

What result do you want?  If you are looking to get very specific results then following a plan very precisely matters, if you are looking to feel better but have more relaxed goals then you can equally follow guidelines in a more relaxed manner.

The key is knowing yourself and knowing your goals then being honest about what you need to do, sacrifice or change and for how long to get to those goals.

Because if you want transformational results on a fitness plan but are only wanting to follow the plan 50% of the time you’re going to be disappointed, but if you know what you want isn’t as dramatic then the changes don’t have to be so dramatic either.  Neither of those extremes are wrong, they are entirely personal and in reality the only person you need to be able to justify yourself to is you.

I’m not saying join a programme and don’t do it here!  What I’m saying is very few of us can do everything 100% perfectly for even a short period of time (well I say very few of us , perhaps others can and I’m just trying to make myself feel better!) so knowing your own expectations of yourself, what will feel like success to you and then working to that level is the key to success.

If you have high expectations cool- but know you’re going to have to be stricter on yourself to reach them, in that case looking for the hacks and quick cheats won’t serve you.  The opposite applies just as much.

Pick your stance, work to that stance and don’t be swayed by what others are or aren’t doing.

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 2

Today I’m entering week 3 of Jump 4.2.

Yesterday I finished two weeks of eating a Paleo based diet and having spent last week reviewing my TDEE I am about to embark on a week where I track my calorie intake to help me see where I am food intake wise and hat I need to change to stay on track.

I do feel quite comfortable on a Paleo based diet and have in the past done 4 days on / 3 days off for long periods of time, so for me fourteen days wasn’t too tough, although weekends are still tough when you are used to being able to relax your diet a bit and social occasions require thought and planning if you want to stay on track.

The reward for sticking to it however was worth it.  Yes I’ve lost  little weight (around 4kg but my weight fluctuates a lot anyway so this number doesn’t mean lots) and my body fat went down whilst muscle mass increased (according to my scales I would add so again take that as you will depending on how you feel about scales).

More importantly for me I feel better- less bloated, more energetic and like I’m fully back in the habit of eating homemade, fresh food over processed foods.  I think you can see a difference around my waist and I feel like my skin looks brighter.

Today I’ve had toast with my breakfast (which also contained plenty of protein and veg) and a really nice slice of homemade coffee and walnut cake courtesy of a colleague, my lunch has still essentially been chicken and veg.  Mentally I’ve noticed how much I’ve enjoyed adding foods back into my diet without feeling guilt, instead focusing on how much I’ve enjoyed what I’ve eaten today.

Training wise I’ve largely stuck to my normal training routine, although where I’ve had time I have tried out some of the sessions (I’ve done three so far), and these have been challenging but fun.  I like the fact they have all taken less than an hour to complete and that each one has a clear focus and is easily adaptable to your own current fitness levels and equipment availability.

There is also a strong mindset focus each week and this week the focus has been on morning routines.  I have long felt I need to work more on my morning routine as I often feel rushed in the morning.  This week has made me realise that in order to get my shit together in the mornings I need to get a better night time routine to help me get to bed earlier ad get a good night sleep so I’m less desperate to snooze come morning.

A week with a trip to Edinburgh and being away from home over the weekend wasn’t the best week to get into regular night and morning routines but this week I am making it my one goal to really develop a more positive morning routine.

The thing I like most about this programme so far is being able to read through the downloads and listen to the audios and videos when it suits me rather than having to be in a particular place at a set time.

All in all I’ve enjoyed the first fortnight and am looking forward to week 3, and to keep me accountable I will update you again next week!

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit – Paleo

I’ve written before about my own nutrition and how I mainly eat a Paleo based diet.

I say Paleo based because I don’t follow Paleo eating at all in the strict sense or all the time and I adjust it to suit my own needs.

Essentially Paleo is eating what cavemen ate so basing your diet on meats, veg, nuts and seeds.   It’s high protein and fats and low in carbs and dairy free.   I eat largely like this with some exceptions (I include potatoes and often some chocolate milk after my classes in the evening).  This is largely because my job means I’m very active so it wouldn’t be sensible to stay low carb.  I try and do this 4 days a week with three days where I eat freely (although often along the same lines just with the addition of some bread and maybe pasta or rice and some sweet treats).  If there is a social occasion on one of the days I’d normally eat Paleo I just don’t do it for that period of the day / that meal.  Some months I just keep a check on my calories because that’s how the mood takes me.

So if I’m not strict about it that begs the question why do I bother.

Quite simply it is a way of keeping myself within my calorie requirements that suits my lifestyle and reduces the need for me to count calories.

I know I eat more at the weekend.  I’m not in the office and more likely to go out for food or get a takeaway and eat chocolate whilst I’m sat on the sofa etc.  By slightly reducing my calorie intake Monday – Thursday whilst still filling up on lots of protein I leave myself room for three more calorie dense days.  This happens without even thinking about what I’ve eaten and how many calories is in it.

My message here is Paleo is one method of eating – it can have many benefits (and equally some drawbacks depending on your activity levels and lifestyle) but whatever way you look at it, it is one way you can reach a calorie deficit.  So if you lose weight with it this isn’t because of a magic combination of food just a general reduction in your calorie intake.

For me personally it’s still the best way of eating most of the time as it reduces how often I think about food and encourages me to eat more homemade and less shop bought.  Sometimes the idea of banning certain foods (even though it’s just foods and not food groups and even though it’s only ever for a few days each week!) is bad for my mindset so I will have periods where I don’t follow this and just eat to a bog standard calorie deficit.  Not getting hung up on what foods you do or don’t eat is more beneficial to your long term health than cutting out bread to feel less bloated will ever be.

So it might suit you, it may not, but the habits of eating less processed foods and getting enough protein whilst keeping in a calorie deficit are all positives however you chose to eat.

Meal Prep for Mr or Mrs Normal

One of the biggest barrier to eating well for me is being out of the house for around 15 hours a day Monday to Friday. 

If you have a job which leads to you being out of the house most of the day you will probably agree that when you get home the last thing you want to do is cooking, not only some food for that night but also lunch for the following day (unless you really enjoy cooking).  If you don’t make your lunch the night before though, the likelihood is you’ll end up going to Tesco to get a sandwich and packet of crisps which won’t be that filling or inspiring and won’t benefit your nutrition as much as a home prepared meal would.

Meal Prep tends to be something that immediately makes you think of body builders and chicken with broccoli. But, whether you go to the gym every day, twice a day or once a week preparing your meals for the week ahead can help you stay within your calorie goal, save money and keep meals tasty and interesting with minimum effort.  They don’t need to be just chicken, rice and veg either you can make any type of food you like that fits within your calorie goal for that day / week.

Recently I’ve taken this one step further and started to prepare a months worth of meals at a time but if your new to meal prep start with a few days and see what does and doesn’t work for you.

Benefits of Meal Prep

  1. Save time – a couple of hours cooking at the start of the week can save you having to spend half an hour every day making food. When you are busy or tired during the week you will have food that you ca pop in the microwave to heat up quickly.
  2. Save money – Unless every meal is fillet steak the chances are that making your meals for the week is going to be cheaper than going to the shop every day for a Meal Deal and getting takeaways or ready meals on the way home for dinner.
  3. Save calories – A homemade curry will often have fewer calories than a shop bought one – you can use chopped tomatoes and herbs to make sauces and pack in as much veg as you like. You will also be in a position to prepare food in advance that you know will fit your calorie allowance for the week – it’s much harder to keep to your targets if your going into the shop each day and picking food out whilst hungry.
  4. Save on boredom – Be honest, if you go and buy a sandwich everyday do you always pick the same one or two fillings. If you plan and prepare your meals you can add as much variety as you want.
  5. Save on stress – Once done that’s it for the week. No cooking in the evening or having to work out what you have time to pick up on your lunch break.  You can pick up your tupperware boxes in he morning and then just wack them in the microwave when your hungry.  Whilst I’m at it – home prepared meals are often more filling than your average Greggs or Meal Deal.

Meal Prep Tips

  1. Plan – Work out how many meals you need for that week and what you are going to take to hit that number of portions.
  2. Have the necessary equipment to hand- Tupperware boxes don’t need to be expensive. I buy the cheap boxes from B&M Bargains (10 for £1.99) which last for a reasonable amount of time but can be replaced cheaply when they break.  Sandwich bags are ideal for freezing food in.  A slow cooker is the god of meal prep in my eyes – it doesn’t need to be a fancy one, mine was £10 from Asda.
  3. Cook things in bulk- Make a curry / chilli / spag bol / casserole with 4-6 portions.
  4. But keep it varied – Eating casserole every day for a week is rubbish. Try making at least a couple of different meals at a time so you have some variety.  If that means you have excess portions left over you can freeze them for another week.
  5. Portion out your food – Separate food into portions so you know exactly how many meals you have for the week- it will prevent you eating more calories than you planned and stop you running out of food half way through the week.
  6. Freeze half your portions – Pop half the portions into tupperware boxes to store in the fridge, the rest can go in sandwich bags to freeze.
  7. Pot Luck or Plan? I tend to just chuck the sandwich bags in the freezer and take them out at random but if you like to know what you’ll be eating that day label up the bags as almost all meals look the same once frozen.
  8. Let food cool first – My main rookie error with freezing food prep was putting it in the freezer before it has totally cooled. This resulted in a very frosty freezer and an evening of defrosting it because I could no longer open the drawers.  Let everything sit on the side until it’s totally cool before putting in the fridge or freezer.
  9. Slow cooker anything and everything – Meat in a slow cooker will taste so much more tender than that cooked on the hob. You can throw almost anything in and just leave it for a few hours and come back to something with lots of flavour.  Amazing taste, minimum effort equals a meal prep win.
  10. You can meal prep breakfast too- I tend to only do two or three days at a time but if you eat breakfast at work instead of at home or are in a rush in the morning this can allow you to have a good breakfast without the fuss. Sausages and bacon taste ok cold (eggs can be microwaved when you get to work) as done banana and egg pancakes amongst other things.

Experiment and see what works best for you – once you find a routine that suits you it will become second nature to prepare al or some of your meals each week and this system / habit will free up so much time and help reduce the stress in your week.

Most People are Kinder to Others – Discuss

This week I’ve only trained twice (about 30 minutes both times) and I’ve only taught three classes.  This isn’t because I’ve been lazy (well not totally), I had a trip mid-week and whilst I could have fitted in a couple of extra sessions I decided to listen to my body and get some extra sleep.

I’ve also not really paid any attention to my eating.  Some meals I’ve prepped and taken with me to work (perhaps 60%) but whilst travelling I didn’t really think about what my body needed and have largely eaten what was convenient and I wanted.  Normally I do four Paleo based days a week and this week I haven’t done this at all.

These two things combined have left me feeling a bit sluggish.  Logically I know it’s stupid.  I’ve still done about 3.5 hours exercise over five days and statistically I’ve eaten vegetables more times than I’ve eaten chips.  But I’m very much an all or nothing person.  One bad week won’t undo months of hard work in the same way one good week won’t immediately turn you into an Olympic Athlete.  The brain, however, isn’t always a muscle that reacts logically to events.

When I feel like this I often instinctively think, right I need a really ‘good’ week next week and I’ll do every training session planned and eat perfectly and not eat cake and so on and so on.

But, this isn’t good for me.  We are only human.  We need to know that when we have weeks where we do a little less or eat a few too many calories it’s ok as long as we don’t let it continue for too long.  I know that if I feel ‘fat’ because I’ve not had a perfect week of eating or training then there’s something wrong with my own mindset towards my body.  Nobody can be perfect all the time and trying to be sets you up for failure (and there we have that never-ending circle of feeling bad about ourselves)

Of course this is easier said than done and writing this doesn’t mean I suddenly feel great and healthy and happy with how I look today.  Knowing something isn’t logical and not letting it bother you are two different things and overcoming those little demons in your mind isn’t always easy and even when you do overcome them sometimes they can creep back in!

But I’m not fat – a ‘bad’ week hasn’t made me fat.  I’ve put a little weight on recently, yet in comparison to a few years ago I’m fit, I’m healthy and I’m in a much more positive position than I was.  It’s ok to have a little wobble at times but we need to be kinder to ourselves in terms of our own expectations.  Because if someone else outlined my week to me as their own I’d be pointing out all the positives, but because I’m looking at my own week I’ve focused on all the things I haven’t done.  Most people are kinder to others than they are to themselves I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person reading this to need to be reminded of that.

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.