Project 40 – Week 13

You know when you have weeks where nothing goes wrong but it feels like you didn’t do much right either? That’s been this week.

I literally ended the week feeling like, well I need to kick myself up the arse if I want to achieve my goals for 2023.

But actually it’s wasn’t a bad week. I did eat a bit ad hoc but I was also pretty much in calorie range.

I missed a few days training but did still do 4 gym sessions, 3 runs and 2 classes. I average 20,000 steps a day.

Sometimes you need to reflective on the facts of what you did in a week and then compare that reality to what your head is telling you.

Of course sometimes we think we’ve done great when actually we’re not where we think we are. This is most common with our diet, where we forget the coffees and sauces and so on that add calories to our diet as we wonder how we’ve not lost weight when we’ve been so good.

But equally, sometimes we can just be a bit hard on ourselves and focus on what we haven’t done instead of what we have.

Monday is the start of a fresh week, but no matter what your intentions, forget about being perfect and aim to get a few key things done with anything extra being a bonus. You’re much more likely to achieve this and much less likely to decide to give up come Wednesday this way.

Project Fitter at 40- week 3

Week three of project fitter at 40 and I have focused this week on my diet. Having spent the last couple of weeks looking at where I’m at it’s been clear that for me the amount of calories I’m eating is just too high for me to see the type of results I’d like, so this has been my focus this week.

I’ve not looked to make dramatic changes, but I’ve increased my protein intake (to keep me feeling full), increased my fruit and veg intake and tried to remove the evening chocolate and cake snacking that in reality I know is my downfall.

I forgot to weight myself this morning so I don’t know how this has affected the scale but I feel a bit less bloated so I feel like this change is taking me in the right direction. I know my challenge though is going to be the weekend when I’m at home more and will feel the urge to snack more acutely than I would in the week.

Next week I’m going to continue to stick with my focus on my calorie intake but also look to tackle my morning routine.

I’m a snooze button pusher and it means I feel rushed in the morning and that can have a negative effect on my diet and training as I don’t have food prepared, time for breakfast or end up getting a taxi instead of walking to work. I feel like working on improving this will have a dramatic effect on how I feel overall.  It will also help me consistently hit 20,000 steps a day, something I used to do easily but recently have been hit and miss with.

Back to Basics

As I’ve written recently I’m looking at going back to basics to get back into a routine.

Over the last week my training has been more consistent, my NEAT has been decent and I’m drinking plenty of water and nailing a few other habits. There’s two things I’ve struggled with though have been my nutrition and getting up in the morning.

I’ve not eaten terribly but I’ve not eaten what I’ve planned and as such have ended up going over my calorie goal. The reason? Stress.

It’s been a stressful week, work and personal stuff combined has meant I’ve been anxious at times and just generally strung out at others, feeling a bit like I was never going to fit everything into each day.

I wish I was one of those people who lost their appetite under stress. I am however a person who turns to sugar instead. Between snacking on sweet stuff and then opting to not eat the nice balanced meals I’d prepared and instead eat more carb based high calorie meals has meant that my nutrition just hasn’t gone to plan.

In reaction to this though I’m not going to do anything drastic. I’ve got food planned for the coming week and I’m hoping for a quieter week so I won’t be as tempted to reach for a high sugar stress release.

The key here I think is to not beat yourself out when the week doesn’t quite go to plan, not react by going on some drastic campaign to make up for it and just focus on starting again the next day.

So I’m taking the same approach to my mornings too. Last week I snoozed my alarm a lot, this week I’m reverting back to a cheap old school alarm in the next room so I have to get up to turn it off. A few bad mornings last week don’t need to define the coming week and other than trying to make a few small adjustments to improve my morning routine I don’t need to do anything crazy.

Me: Man Down

This week was tough. I needed to complete my February challenge of 56 miles for the month (I had 9 miles to do) and wanted to hit 100km and also run a half with my friend Hollie.

Wednesday we met to go for a 6 mile run, that day I’d not eaten nearly enough and had a busy day, including going for an ill advised lunch time 3km run. I just about managed the evening 6 miles but also completely wiped my energy levels. I spent the next two days trying to refuel and did absolutely limited amounts of activity to recover, but come Saturday it was clear I wouldn’t be able to run. I woke up and my hip and knee were so sore and stiff I was barely able to walk properly, let alone run 13 miles. Deciding to postpone I ended up sleeping a lot on Saturday and generally felt completely wiped out energy wise.

I think the improved weather today made me feel a bit more energetic. A nice long slow walk with a friend round a park made me feel less lethargic and I decided to give a little run a go to get the last couple of km I needed to reach the 100km in February mark. Four very very slow km later I completed that challenge and went home to have a long stretch. A 45 minute Les Mills Stretch class felt needed and made my hip and back feel much better than they have done the last couple of days.

So my lesson for February is I need to focus on my recovery as much as my activity lessons. I know I need to keep increasing my activity levels, that will help me greatly when we can go back to classes and I’m teaching several classes a week again. I don’t want to suddenly go to teaching after barely moving at all for months on end, as I don’t think that would be enjoyable for me Equally however, whilst I do start to increase what I’m doing I also need to make sure I’m eating enough and resting and stretching adequately to ensure I also stay in a good condition.

March is therefore another 100km challenge, a sensible calorie deficit and more mobility work. Hoping the good weather continues to make this feel easier!

So there’s February’s lesson.

Christmas JUMPer Shred – Week 4

Week 4 contained two main challenges- wave training and increasing my NEAT.  Week 4 didn’t happen.

I’ve actually been working on increasing my NEAT anyway recently, but the way my week fell meant I not only did way fewer steps than normal (as opposed to actually increasing them) and didn’t fit a single one of the training sessions in.

On Monday night I headed to Edinburgh, which meant I wasn’t able to train Monday or Tuesday, Wednesday I had a PT session in the one hour slot I could have trained in and I drank far too much on Thursday meaning that there was no way I was going to be able to train Friday!  Essentially the break from my routine and increase in long distance travel meant I didn’t train as much as normal and definitely walked less.  It also meant I ate more fast food and ended up in a calorie surplus.

That’s not to say I had a terrible week.  I did still get four short training sessions in.  Knowing that I would not have the time to fit in the five shred workouts which all require around an hour, I instead did four short sessions designed by Ricky (between 15-30 minutes each), so I still moved and felt good about those sessions.  I also enjoyed my food, even if there was a lot more of the Christmas stuff and takeaways than intended, just being mindful of what I was eating probably meant that I still ate less than i would have otherwise.

Some weeks you will not be able to get everything you want done, some weeks you will eat more than you intended.  The key for me is not letting one week that didn’t go to plan throw me off track.  I could look at last week as a failure, a week I didn’t complete of the Shred (in fact I’ve been maybe 60% on this 6 week Shred so far, which is what I planned), I could say fuck it and decide to just start again in January.

Or I could do what I’m actually doing.  Look at this week as an OK week, a week where despite not training as planned or eating well I still did get some exercise in, I made the best of the time and opportunities I had and I didn’t let it throw me completely off kilter.

December is not the month to decide to do some kind of strict, I will be perfect plan. Equally December doesn’t need to be the month where you just let everything go and never train and eat and drink every single thing you see.  Throughout the year I’d encourage the use of moderation in training and eating and in December this becomes all the more important (and harder to do due to the amount of temptations out there).

So week 4- outstanding success?  No.  Did it keep me accountable enough to not feel like I’ve ruined all the progress I’ve made this year/  Also no.  That’s why I would always encourage taking part in programmes like the Shred- the accountability to yourself and others that it brings.

 

 

Christmas JUMPer Shred – Week 3

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.

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.

 

 

 

I Hate Mornings

I really hate getting up early.

I do it, I teach at 7 am three days a week and then start work early the other two days.  Even on a Saturday I have a class at 9 am so don’t get a massive lie in.  But I hate it.  Sunday is the only day I can get up when I want and on that day I tend to lie in until around 9, 10 even 11am.

This really isn’t what sleep people advise as a good sleep habit.

Sleeping in longer on Sunday as a way of ‘catching up’ on sleep means that I find it harder to switch off at a decent time on Sunday night which then makes me groggy on Monday morning.  Getting up at the time needed for my day’s diary rather than at a set time each day means I don’t find getting up a habit and it pains me (it really does).

I actually know that I’d be better off getting up at 5 am even on days I don’t need to and letting my body clock settle at this, I could after all always nap at some point in the day if needed (at the weekend at least!) and I would probably find going to sleep at the same time each night easier if I did this too.

This is one of the things I’m working on – having a set morning and evening routine.  It’s tough when you work long hours as you need to find things in of an evening and the urge to snooze the alarm is strong of a morning!  I’ve got a list of strategies to help me get into the habit and am getting it right more often than I used to, albeit with a lot of slip ups.  That’s to be expected though – I know changing and creating habits doesn’t happen overnight.  I know that as you create habits progress isn’t often linear and you often have set backs along the way.

Three things.

First, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.  This will help the quality of your sleep long term and make getting up and getting to sleep easier.

Second, knowing what you need to do doesn’t make it easy.  Knowledge is all well and good but it is the application of that knowledge that makes the difference.  If you know what you need to do but are still struggling find someone to help you apply that knowledge- coaching and support doesn’t have to only be for those who aren’t sure where to start.

Three, don’t be put off if you don’t manage to hit your new goals straight away.  It might take several attempts to get something right or you may make progress and then hit a road block and need to get moving again.  That’s a normal part of change and not letting that make you feel like you’ve failed is the key to getting past it and creating that change.

Patience, Honesty, Yoga

Over the last two weeks I’ve taken on my own little personal challenge.

I think I’ve mentioned before how I struggle with my flexibility (I know planks of wood that bend more) and as much as I’m aware I need to work on this and it’s something I would always say to clients and class members it’s an area of my health that I neglect.

With this in mind and knowing that tightness in my hip and quad is very probably the cause of a recent knee injury I sign up for a twelve week yoga course.  Several things appealed to me about this course.

  • It’s all video based so you can do it in your own time following the instructor via a weekly video.
  • The yoga instructor is also a Body Combat instructor and having seen a previous video they had produced on mobility wok for Body Combat I felt this was likely to a type of yoga beneficial to my mobility.
  • Each week has a different focus which appealed to both my limited concentration span and learning a variety of moves to be able to use going forward as and when I want or need to focus on one area.
  • The sessions are around 20-25 minutes long and you are encouraged to practice several times across the week rather than just doing one hour long yoga practice- this for me seemed much more manageable.
  • You are also part of a group with weekly Facebook lives where you can ask questions and get feedback, for someone not from a yoga background that is really useful and increases your accountability.

So far I’ve practiced three times in week one, twice on week two and once so far this week (week three) although I intend to get another two to three sessions in this week.

In my head when I signed up I said to myself – I will practice every single day.  That obviously hasn’t happened, but that’s OK, because I’ve gone from zero mobility work to 50 minutes plus a week over the last couple of weeks.  However you look at it, that is progress.

Another thing that I have gleaned from the last couple of weeks – and it’s been centred around the yoga practice but is really key to how you approach all aspects of your own health / fitness regime – is about being honest with your practice.

By being honest with your yoga practice they mean accepting your body and it’s current ability.  That means not progressing a move to progress it until you are comfortable and performing the current move week.  It means acknowledging when you need to adapt a move to get the best out of your session and not being too proud to do so.

These two key elements of the mindset of your yoga practice are equally beneficial when applied to the rest of your training.

I’ve had lots of conversations with people over the last few weeks, and can openly admit it’s something I’m prone to do as well, about the all or nothing approach to fitness.  We want to be fit and healthy – and we want it now.  Society is result oriented and whilst we all want change we also want it now, we tend to be less keen on the idea that those results can take time and require gradual change.  It’s why we do often start a new plan or course with the intention to commit 100%  and then get disheartened and feel like we have failed when we aren’t 100% perfect in week one.  Then we get the urge to quit, start again, that this isn’t for me.

The reality is few of us will ever do anything 100% perfectly.  Life will get in the way, require adaptations and compromises and if we give up on things when the first stumbling block comes along we will not reach our goals.

What experience does show me however is that if you do stick to things for ‘most of the time’ results come.  Set backs are just that, they aren’t the end of the road, simply something to overcome and move on from.  If you are doing nothing and this week you do something you have progressed.  Results may be slower but they will be more long lasting.  Quick fixes tend to be quickly back to ‘where you were before’ as well.

Equally, being honest about where you are and want to be with your fitness is important.

Your goals need to be reflective of the effort you can put in.  If you can train twice a week then training for a physique show is unlikely to be a realistic goal for you.  However, reducing your body fat and getting fitter in two sessions a week is entirely possible.

You also need to be honest about what you are really doing.  Putting weight on even though you’re eating less? Yet you aren’t using my Fitness Pal to track your calories and aren’t really counting the calories in your two coffee shop coffees or the sauces that you put on food because they are barely anything.  It’s easy to think you are in a calorie deficit but when you track EVERYTHING realise you aren’t.  It really comes down to being honest about what you are doing.

You could even go more specific- what do you lift?  Do you lift it was strong technique?  Would you get more out of your session if you lifted less, better?

My message for this blog, which following the conversations I’ve had recently more than just me needs to remember, is this.

Wherever you are at with your fitness goals, it is a continuous journey, when you reach a goal it doesn’t end, new goals will arise and you will keep on working.  What you can do and, indeed, want to do will change over time.  Sometimes you will not do everything right, maybe for days and weeks on end, that doesn’t mean starting over or failure.  Sometimes you will meet people who can lift more than you, are leaner, more flexible and this doesn’t mean you have failed because the only progress that genuinely matters is what you can do now compared to what you could do before.

Patience and honesty are key tools to have in your fitness armour.

Also, I can highly recommend adding a bit of yoga to your life!

I have been practicing Yoga with The Kicking Asanas 12 Week Yoga Challenge.  You can find more information on the services Michelle offers here:

The Kicking Yogi

What’s the hardest thing in the land of fitness?

What’s the hardest thing in the land of fitness?

Working out how to train?

Working out what to eat?

I don’t think so.

For me it’s accepting that you will never be perfect.

You decide to start something – training for an event, looking to drop a dress size, whatever it may be.  You have your plan in place and you’re committed to doing it.  Day one does well, so does day two, then day three something comes up and you can’t eat what you planned or miss a training session and suddenly it all feels like it’s unravelling.  Fast forward a week later and you’ve completely dropped your plan and feel like you need to start again.

It’s so easy to fall into this trap.

It’s why so many people don’t reach the goals they set themselves.

A lot of us are very bad at accepting that one slip up doesn’t really matter.

I’ll admit this is something I’ve always been bad for.  I’d start the week ready to have a totally perfect week and get to Friday upset with myself that it hadn’t happened.

Then I learnt (OK I had drummed into me) that PERFECT DOES NOT EXIST.

BUT.

A couple of not perfect things in an otherwise positive week won’t derail my progress.

Now, I get if you are on show prep or similar and a few days out then a slip up could make a massive difference.  But if you want to feel good on the beach in a couple of month times and go over your calorie goal one day in a week it really isn’t going to matter that much.

As people we tend to focus on the negative over the positive.  So there could be 9 great things about our week and one bad thing and you can almost bet your life we will spend more time thinking about that one negative.

So how do you get the results you want?

You accept that things don’t have to always go to plan for progress to happen.  If in a week you miss one training session but have two really good ones, those two good ones haven’t been cancelled out by missing the third.  If you’ve eaten everything you planned most days but on Tuesday had a cake, that cake hasn’t cancelled out all the nutritious stuff you’ve also fed your body.  If the last month felt really really positive but this week you’ve felt a bit off that doesn’t cancel out last month.

In the same way people say one healthy meal won’t make you slimmer or one exercise session won’t make you fit.  Well nor will the cake make you fat or missing that gym session and going to the pub mean you’re back to square one.

Find your goal. Make your plan. Then stick to it?

Nope.

How about:

Find your goal. Make your plan. Do it as best you can and when life gets in the way don’t start again just keep going and do what you can.

Not as catchy so probably won’t catch on but might mean you’re a little more likely to hit those aims.