Possibly the most girly post I will even write – Re blog

A re-post of an old blog. Still one of the most common barriers I hear about so…

Most days I train 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 do 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 and more exposed 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!

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit- Part Three – The Hand Job Diet

I spent much of December preaching that if you want to lose body fat you need to create a calorie deficit.  Then it occurred to me that’s fine as long as you know how to do that.  I’ve pretty much always gone by the school of thought that people know what thy should do it’s just hard to actually do it.   I have had lots of conversations recently however which have suggested that actually people are confused.  There are so many different fads around, plus products advertised like Skinny Coffee, Fat Loss shots, magic fat busing pills, ideas that you should only eat fruit before 11 or not carbs after 6 that a lot of people are genuinely confused.

So I decided this month I’d cover some ways you can create a calorie deficit.  So far I’ve covered Paleo and Intermittent Fasting.

Here’s what I see as the difference between a fad and these systems.  A fad requires you do things like cut out food groups completely, eat them in silly combinations, supplement what you eat with products that really just tend to act as a laxative.  They are plans that are not sustainable and are likely to cause binges at some point.

Paleo and Intermittent Fasting are simple systems of eating that help you control calories (obviously people have other reasons for doing them and they can have additional benefits on top of calorie control but for my purpose here I’m only thinking in terms of calorie deficits).  They have rules, yes,  and will not suit everyone, but they don’t require cutting out whole food groups, are safe and, if someone finds they suit their lifestyle, are perfectly sustainable long term.  They can also be done part time (as I do Paleo just four days a week) and still help create a calorie deficit.

Esssentially, if you want to create a new lifestyle habit the easiest way to do this is create a system that allows you to implement this habit into your life.

Now so far I have covered quite specific methods.  You can however create a calorie deficit with much more simple systems and today I want to cover ‘The Hand Job Diet’.

This method invented and named by a coach I’ve worked with a lot over recent years, Ricky Long.  Ricky favours training and eating to live, not being overly restrictive and not being a slave to counting calories and tracking macros when you don’t have to.

He recommends to client’s a simple method of having three meals a day consisting of:

  • One handful of protein
  • Two handfuls of veg (at least two colours)
  • Once a day add in one handful of a big carb such as rice, pasta, bread
  • Add in some snacks each day as need
  • If you feel hungry you need more food so consider adding in another meal
  • If you feel tired you have eaten too much

This allows for no restriction, you could snack on low calorie foods such as fruit but also allow some snacks to be your favourite foods (cake, chocolate, crisps).

You can adjust depending on results – so if you aren’t getting the results you want you may need to be honest about how many snacks you are having and how many calories each one contains.

It could also stop you craving certain foods as no food is off limits, thus reducing the urge to binge.

If your diet is not brilliant at the moment, these small changes will probably create a big difference and easily create a calorie deficit.

If you like food though, such relaxed rules may be hard to follow.  I’m the kind of person who needs some structure to my daily meals or I could just eat constantly for 8 hours each day, so again this won’t work for everyone but it is a way of creating a calorie deficit with minimal thinking or rules to follow.

I’ll repeat, the fundamental characteristic of all fat loss methods is creating a calorie deficit.  The Hand Job Diet is another way to manage portion control thus help keep you within a calorie deficit (without actually counting calories).

I have to credit Ricky Long on this method – if you like the idea and want to have a look into some of his other fitness and nutrition advice check him out on instagram @Rickylong42, Facebook (Ricky Long) or at his website here

 

 

Gym to Office: A Packing Guide

What To Pack:

  • Gym bag – Small gym bags are cute. They are also impractical for the gym to office routine and will end up frustrating you.  Pick something big enough to allow you to carry a winter outfit and boots as its better for it to be a bit roomier in summer than too small in winter.  It’s a plus if they have a section for trainers / wet towels.
  • Towel: Ideally a microfiber one as they take up less room, are light weight and quick drying (can also be used multiple mornings before they need washing). Most common thing to be forgotten – emergency tip: use your gym kit as a makeshift towel when this happens!
  • Shower gel, Shampoo (2 in 1 with conditioner if you can) and deodorant. miniatures are expensive and don’t last long so just take full size ones. Keep them in a toiletries bag though because a leaking shampoo bottle is never fun.
  • Other toiletries – These will depend on what’s a non negotiable in your morning routine. I’m pretty minimal which helps from both a packing and getting ready with speed point of view but you may need moisturiser, hair spray etc.  Remember though, the less you use the less you need to carry.
  • Hair brush. Mine is foldable to save space.
  • Hairdryer / straighteners. Now I don’t dry or straighten my hair as it’s naturally straight so I don’t need to.  You may have a gym that has these in the changing room anyway.  If you ned to use these products and the gym doesn’t have them consider getting travel sized versions to assist with packing.
  • Underwear. Second most common thing to be forgotten.  It’s never fun going commando to work or wearing a sweaty sports bra (ladies) so just try not to!
  • Work clothes. You may or may not have a choice what you wear to work.  If you can choose go for things that don’t easily crease.
  • Make up – Pack what you need for that day and no more. It helps save time getting ready and space.
  • Shoes – Third most common thing to forget. Some pro packers I know keep a spare pair in work for such occasions!

Why you shouldn’t make New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

We were talking today at work about what resolutions people planned to make.

The idea was that everyone would write down what they wanted to change and hide it away somewhere and then check again in three months’ time to see if everyone had stuck to their resolutions…. or if they had failed.

A few years ago I would have been up for this.  I’ve made many New Year’s Resolutions over the years, in fact normally 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

The actual idea that got me thinking about this was based on hiding your resolution away and checking again in a few months to see if you have succeeded. The flip side of that is if you haven’t then you feel like a failure. Yet if you’ve hidden something away for three months how likely is it you will lose sight of it as a goal as life gets busy? 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. It’s November – if you’re thinking about stopping drinking fizzy drinks – stop now, why wait until January? If you want to start running start running – these things aren’t banned until January 1st.  I get that over Christmas isn’t the smartest time to start a diet or new training regime – that in itself is potentially setting yourself up for failure.  You could however start to make some small changes to set yourself up for after Christmas.  Start walking more, logging your food intake a few days a week, drinking more water so that after Christmas you aren’t starting from scratch and you haven’t just spent a month feeling crap thinking I’ll sort myself out next year. If on January 1st you don’t feel ready to make a change but do a couple of weeks into the year start it then, or in February or August or October, you haven’t got to wait until 2020. New Year’s Resolutions have the idea of starting at midnight on 1st 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 2019.  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 2019 and how I plan to do it.  I’ve got more chance of reaching these goals than if I left I chance.

SMART resolutions

Specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time specific.  If you goal ticks all these things you’re more likely to be able to reach it.  But taking this on a slightly different tangent being smart about what you decide to try and do AND WHEN will help you succeed.  I know I’ll eat more cake and chocolate than I normally would this month. I will move more to stop me feeling sluggish but I also know I will want a bit of a shake up of my diet and training routine in January to make me feel refreshed. Yet I also know that the first week of January is likely to be an extension of Christmas for me so I won’t do this January 1st. Instead I’m committing to joining in with a programme on 9th January which I know won’t drastically change my current lifestyle as I already follow a lot of the principles but will give me a bit of renewed focus at a time I will need it.  Planning ahead, being honest and smart with this planning will help you feel good about change.

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

‘I want to be 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 2018 – 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 and start 2019 not feeling the need to set resolutions.

We all have mental health

10th October is World Mental Health Day.

I have suffered from (do still) depression and anxiety.  It’s an important topic and I’d be happy to talk to anyone – whether they need someone to talk to or want to just gain a greater understanding.

BUT

Mental health isn’t just depression or anxiety or any one singular condition. Mental Health is something we all have – it’s how we deal with life, how we feel.  You might feel great that’s still mental health.  We all need to be aware of how we take care of ourselves, to keep ourselves well mentally and much as physically.  Self care isn’t only for people with illnesses – it’s soemthing everyone needs to practice.

Every year there is a specific focus of World Mental Health Day–This year being “young people and mental health in a changing world”.

According to WHO “Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Our focus is on building mental resilience among young people, to help them cope with the challenges of today’s world.”

One challenge highlighted is the impact of technology in people’s lives.  This topic can go beyond young people however, there will be few people of any age who do not find themselves increasingly relying on various forms of technology in all aspects of their lives (if you’ve lost your phone recently you will probably have realised just how much this is the case).

Social media is probably one of the most obvious ways in which technology has changed the world in a matter of years. The expanding use of social media undoubtedly brings many benefits to our lives – we can develop social contacts and business relationships regardless of location.  However, the same technology can also bring additional pressures into our lives, as connectivity to virtual networks at any (ALL) time of the day and night grows and becomes the norm.  Being ever connected and seeing more aspects of other people’s lives in a way we previously would not have can have a profound effect on our own mental health and how we view our own situations.

Only this morning I was having a conversation with a member at a gym I teach at who recently removed themselves from Facebook for this very reason.

They have been away studying at university and seeing pictures of friends from home together every week, having fun together as a group, whilst this person was miles away and couldn’t be with them produced negative emotions. Despite speaking to them and knowing that these Facebook posts were not the full picture (during the week these friends barely get a chance to speak and it’s not all constant socialising) the emotions the Facebook posts created wasn’t positive and since removing themselves from Facebook they feel happier.

We all know social media posts create a version of our lives whether we mean to put a filter on things or not it’s inevitable that it happens.  Whether we present something as glossy and amazing or terrible – we have decided how it is presented to the world.  The world then views it from their own prism and puts their own spin on what we’ve said.

All this sounds like I’m anti social media but I’m not.  I use Facebook, Instagram (occasionally Twitter, never really got the hang of Snapchat) and obviously I blog.  I have got work from and made business connections through the advances in social media.  It has so many benefits and can add value to your life as long as you are aware that it can also add new types of pressure.

So here are a few ideas of things you can do to protect your own mental health and help create a healthy relationship with technology:

  • Keep social media buttons organised together in a folder on your phone and keep it away from your home screen so you don’t feel like a slave to the sometimes endless notifications popping up.
  • Decide when you will look at messages and emails (maybe once or twice a day) and ignore all incoming things in between these times – if it’s urgent people can call you!
  • Try not to look at your phone for the first hour after you wake up. Getting some fresh air and thinking about your day without seeing what others have posted can change your outlook on the day completely.
  • Try not to look at your phone for an hour before you go to bed. This allows you time to unwind and relax before you go to sleep which will probably help you get to sleep quicker.
  • If you use a sleep app which tracks your REM cycles they often mute all social media notifications once turned on which helps if you struggle with self control on reducing message checking.
  • Just like parents do with their kids – give yourself maximum daily screen times. Don’t let yourself mindlessly scroll through social media platforms.  Give yourself a limit each day and once it’s been exceeded stop mindlessly scrolling through your feeds.
  • Call people sometimes. Having a chat can be great for your mental health and takes away the anxiety that can be created via the misinterpreting of a text message.
  • Actually arrange to meet up with people too when you can!
  • Remember that what people post isn’t always 100% what you think it is- those pictures of smiling people don’t show the argument they had 10 minutes beforehand because someone forgot to put the bins out.
  • If you find yourself getting annoyed by someone’s posts there are a variety of ways of muting them whilst remaining their friends
  • If you enjoy using an app – use it. If you start to feel it adds stress – stop.  I use Facebook and Instagram and enjoy interacting with people on it.  Snapchat just stressed me out so when I got a new phone I just didn’t install the app.

As much as technology may cause some increased stresses to our mental health it also allows people to talk about it more openly about the topic of wellness and to a much wider audience so there are lots of positives to our changing world.

Talking about and being aware of the potential issues arising from change can help us work though them and stay well.  We all need to be aware of our mental health and develop systems to help us maintain a happy healthy life as our surroundings change.  That’s not easy- believe me I know – but days like today and discussions like the ones created by days like this can all play a part in helping work towards better mental health.

Buddy Box Review

Earlier this month I received the September Buddy Box in the post.

Buddy Box is one of those subscription boxes a product which has grown in popularity recently often boxes filled with the latest beauty products – that you get in the post once a month, filled with products you don’t know you’re getting until they arrive.  The appeal here coming from not knowing what you will receive ahead of time, and getting to try new and different products you may not otherwise.

These boxes have a different purpose however.  They are designed to promote self-care, with each months box having a theme related to looking after yourself and taking some time out for you.  You can buy the boxes on a subscription basis or as a one-off box.

I first came across the company, Blurt, a couple of years ago when I was going through a period of severe depression and a friend gave me a subscription to these boxes – now every now and then I buy one and it gives me a little push to look after myself a bit more than normal.

Blurt, in their own words “exists to make a difference to anyone affected by depression. Being diagnosed can be overwhelming – there’s a lot to learn and plenty of prejudice to battle. Telling people is tough, and not everyone will understand. That’s why we’re here for you, whenever you need us, for anything at all.”  One of the ways they do this is by their subscription self-care boxes.

https://www.blurtitout.org/

This is what I got in the September box:

https://www.blurtitout.org/product/grotty-times-buddybox/

  • Bath bomb for the shower – I’ve not tried this yet but the Lavender smell is designed to help you sleep – something which can help you feel better when you’re stressed and down. I’m not a huge fan of baths so I like he idea of  a bomb for the shower.  I’m saving it for the next time I want a chilled early night – possibly this weekend.

  • 54 Self Care Idea Cards – A set of 54 cards- each with a self-care idea on them. The idea is when you need to take a moment for yourself you can pull out a card at random and try the idea on the card.  I’m not sure how well this will work if your already feeling unmotivated but I like th idea of small actions creating self care and it does take away the need to have to think of what to do away from you- which during low periods can help in iself.  These might live on my bookcase so I can grab them as and when.

  • How To Grow Your No map – A map guide of how to learn to Say No! Not sure how I’ll use this but it’s an interesting little guide into how you can build up slowly to saying no when you really don’t want to do something – a great tool for those who suffer from anxiety and find themselves saying yes a lot.

  • Peopled Out Door Hanger. Pretty self-explanatory but a cute little door hanger to brighten up a room.

  • 365 Days Self Care Journal – This is Blurt’s second book. A journal which you can use in any way you wish with the idea that every day you jot down how you feel to help you work through any low periods. I’ve not started using it yet but plan to get into the habit in spending a few minutes each day jotting to see what impact it has.

  • Magazine and Postcards – little extras to read / use as you wish.

If you’re looking for a little pick me up, or even a nice gift for someone else who could do with a bit of a mental pamper these make a great buy – whether it be a subscription or one-off purchase.

Systems

The week before last I hit a bit of a slump – my training and nutrition has slipped and I was eating far too many calories and not nearly enough fresh food. Hello sugar!

When this happens I find the easiest way for me to reset is to have a week of no ‘rules’ but decent food and for me the simplest way to do this is order in some meal prep.

I’d love to be able to afford to buy meal prep every week but it’s a bit beyond my budget however for a week to take away stress, add variety without having the stress of cooking it’s a really good idea.

I used PerfectPrep. They deliver nationally (UK) and I got 14 meals for £72. They were delivered Tuesday and lasted me until the end of Sunday (on Wednesday and Thursday I had 3 meals).

I added in my own breakfasts and snacks and by the end of the week with zero effort or proper planning I’d hit my calorie target and my protein targets for the week. I felt better and this week have eased back into my normal eating habits feeling like my mind has re-see itself.

Have a system that allows you to eat well but accept that sometimes you will need to mix things up for a bit and having some back up plans, like I had here, allows you to re-set without just saying sod it and eating everything and anything you can lay your hands on.