Les Mills Launches Are Coming

For the Les Mills Instructors among us launches are coming!

One thing that keeps cropping up in conversation this week is how hard it is to keep on top of your training, nutrition and positive habits whilst also learning new choreography.

Here’s my ideas for getting through the next 10 days of cramming and still feel good about YOU:

1. If you can, meal prep once a week, that’s going to mean you have good choices ready to grab and stick in the microwave and reduce the chances of getting a takeaway when you are tired and busy cramming.

2. Same with snacks – have lots of good snacks to hand because learning chorey always makes you want to snack – FACT!

3. Another option for these two weeks each quarter is order a week or two of meal prep to completely avoid the stress of thinking about food yet stay on track!  If you’re prone to buying food rather than planning when you are busy leaning the new stuff this could actually end up more cost efficient anyway.

4. If you’re short of time drop out the cardio element in your training sessions and use your physical practice sessions as your cardio. Added bonus is that going all out at least once when practicing the new releases means you’ll be prepared for how it’s going to feel on launch day!

5. Don’t be an all or nothing person…

Do you know what positive habits you practice daily?  Perhaps you have a great morning or evening routine or drink a pint of water upon waking, maybe you always pack your bag the night before.  ALL those little things help add up to a positive mindset and approach to your health. IF you don’t train for a week or end up going over your calorie goal a few times you haven’t gone off the rails and lost all progress / fitness levels – keep up with those little daily habits and everything will still be in place for you post launch!

6. You are in control – one of the best ways to make lifestyle changes is to create systems. One systems could be to take some time to plan in appointments for when you will learn chorey and stick to those appointments. Feeling more in control of how you use your time can help reduce stress levels even if you’re still crazy busy!

7. Don’t create undue stress for yourself- you’ve got new stuff to learn. So the week or two before launch I like to go back to my go to tracks, the ones I know in my sleep- you haven’t got to add extra pressure to yourself by learning members requests or extra tracks for your current mix if you’re already feeling pressure (be honest the ones you know in your sleep are actually probably the members favourites anyway, hence why you know them so well!)

8. Sleep. Sleep helps you retain information – being tired doesn’t, so no matter what you need to let slide for a few days don’t make it sleep!

9. That being said don’t beat yourself up about letting the not important stuff slide.  You will know what is a non negotiable in your life.  Yes, you will need to keep balancing those plates, but everything else, well it will still be there on 7th July.

10. The week after launch can also be a tough week physically – all the adrenaline from learning and then teaching for the first time is draining and I often feel more tired and emotional the week after. So if that happens don’t beat yourself up, a few days off training can be beneficial in cases like that.

I hope some of the above ideas help, and if you aren’t a Les Mills instructor many of these ideas would also work for other stressful situations not just launches!

This blog is based on some of the principles we work on developing in Jump 4.2 – an 8 week online fitness, nutrition and mindset programmes designed specifically with group ex instructors and enthusiast in mind. If you want to find out more click the link below to get details for the next intake on July 1st.

Jump Priority List

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.

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

 

 

Things I’ve learnt over the last 18 months

  1. You aren’t perfect.

I think I’m like most people in that when I start something new I want to be 100% perfect or I feel like I’ve failed and need to start again.  But it’s impossible to never have slip ups on a long term plan.  Getting out of the cycle of deciding a whole week was a write off become of a bad day or bad meal was one of the biggest factors to starting to see results.

  1. Day 30 (or 60 or 100 or 200) is harder than day 1.

People always talk about Day 1- and in some ways Day 1 is tough, it’s the starting something new, the first step in making changes. But by the same token, Day 1 is exciting – it’s the start of something new, when you feel all positive and hopeful.  Sticking to something once the novelty wear off or once results start to slow is the real challenge.

  1. Consistency and steady progress is boring.

Everyone loves a Facebook status or Instagram post where they can show their before and after pictures demonstrating dramatic results.  Realistically though long lasting changes take time and progress isn’t always immediately apparent.

  1. The loudest people in the gym often don’t have a clue.

When I started venturing into the free weight section alone I used to feel so inferior.  All these people claiming space and equipment and confidently broadcasting their strengths and opinions on how things should be done.  I tend to assume that if someone is loud and forward with their opinion they must know their shit- and yeah, some do.  Get comfortable in the environment and take time to look and you will see however that many do not!  Go in, do your own thing with confidence and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing in terms of training or weights.

  1. You need to eat more.

I used to try and keep my calorie intake low – the bigger the calorie deficit the better.  Really, this makes you tired, makes training harder and will eventually stop you getting results.  Stick to a sensible calorie deficit and results will come and will be easier to maintain.

  1. There is no such thing as an ideal diet.

And by ideal I mean those diets you see advertised in magazines- ‘Eat all the cake and still lose weight’ ‘Drink all the Gin and still lose weight’.  We would all like that magic diet which would allow us to eat as much of our favourite foods as often as we like and still loose 10lbs per week.  Essentially, though, if you look at them, all these diets still involve some form of restriction – eat low calorie meals through the day and allow yourself cake everyday in moderation (i.e. a small slice).  You therefore have to accept that you can eat what you want within reason but if you also want to stay within a calorie allowance and hit your Macros you will need to balance that out with sensible options for other meals. I have 4 pretty strict days to allow me the freedom to have 3 pretty relaxed days and stay within my goals.  That means for 4 days a week I sometimes have to say no to things I want in return for that relaxed weekend.

  1. Some days will be shit.

Not all training sessions will be fun, not all will bring PBs, sometimes you will feel like you have made no progress.  If every session was a great session they would just be your normal sessions.  Accept that even a tough session will bring benefits to you and don’t sweat it.

  1. Rest is important

When you start it feels like you will get more results if you keep on going and do as much as you can.  Rest allows your body to recover and prevents overtraining though and in the long term will improve your results.

  1. You can’t do everything.

It’s tempting to try and master as many things as possible.  Realistically though unless you are naturally talented at something the chances are you will need to devote time to things to master them.  Therefore trying to win a Strongman competition whilst also training for a marathon is probably not going to work.  Pick your thing and focus on that.  I wanted to run a second marathon but with teaching classes around my full time job I had to accept that finding time to fit the training in would not be possible and as I didn’t want to take a break from teaching I put that aim on the backburner.

  1. Weight is a bad indicator of progress.

Muscle weighs more than fat, your body is full of water blah blah blah.  At first you may be able to monitor your weight- eventually you will need to go off clothes size or pictures if you don’t want to feel completely demotivated.

My Personal 10 Commandments for a Healthy Life

  1. Aim to hit a 20% calorie deficit across the week. Find a system for doing this and stick to it- don’t be swayed by new fads. My system is to eat to Paleo principles (not strict Paleo) 4 days a week and then allow myself three days where I can enjoy treats (read cake).
  2. Start your calorie week on a Friday. You are more likely to have a calorie surpluss at the weekend – this allows you Monday to Thursday to pull back and still hit that 20% weekly calorie deficit if that does happen and stops you feeeling like you are being overly restricted.
  3. Eat at least 2g protein per kg body weight every day (for me 160g). This will make you feel full, help your body recover from training and means Carbs and Fat will look after themselves.
  4. Drink 3.5 litres water a day (this is based on based on 30ml water per kg of body weight plus 500 ml for every hour of exercise – I just average out based on my normal training week).
  5. Drink a max of 3 coffees per day.
  6. Take a multi vitamin and fish oil supplement every day.
  7. Have a little bit of dark chocolate each day when on your period if you suffer with cramps (magnesium can help relax muscles reducing cramps, and sugar can boost your serotonin levels which can drop – hence feeling like you want to cry). I believe Kale can also help reduce cramping but for some reason doesn’t hold the same appeal as chocolate!
  8. Train in a way that suits your life and your week. I don’t lift as heavy as many and my sessions are shorter than most people I know – but they fit into my working life allowing me to stay consistent enough to see results. If it’s going to be tough one week to fit in your training – adjust your plans to feel successful.
  9. Stretch every day.
  10. Get up 30 minutes early and develop a morning routine that helps set you up for the day. I like to get some day light, drink a large glass of water and read a chapter of a book (as I don’t get much ‘me’ time during the rest of he day).

Credit – Ricky Long, who bullied me into most of these things – but they work!

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/243767835762478/

Instagram @rickylong42

You Control You

I feel like my posts this week have been quite deep so I thought I may as well keep to the theme (don’t worry next week I’ll write about falling falt on my face doing box jumps or something).

I feel like I’ve changed and progressed a lot in the last twelve months and most of that has come from a change in mindset.  I’ve written about this previously in various forms but essentially I’ve just started doing little things, considering certain questions I hadn’t thought about before which has led to me taking more control of my outlook and emotions.

  • What are my aims- for this week, month, year, five years, 10 years?
  • Why do I want to do these things?
  • What is my purpose for doing what I do? What purpose will doing these things serve and will it get me closer to my aims?
  • What do I need to focus on right now to get to where I want to be?
  • How can I use my goals to motivate me to do things right now?

By starting to think about these things and structuring my life around these questions I feel like I’ve started to gain more control.  Even if things are not perf6ect right now there is a purpose for what I am currently doing which fosters a more positive outlook that before.

There are lots of things that happen in life I can’t control of course but I can control me and my reaction to those things and turn those reactions back to focusing on my why and purpose.  This is so much easier said than done and I often have blips where it doesn’t quite happen immediately but building mental fortitude takes time.

Have a read of this email which pretty neatly sums up where you can start with thinking about your why:

Why?: https://mailchi.mp/08cb9784151a/free-workout-316403

Body Pump Aim 1 Take Out: the content is more interesting than the title I promise

This weekend I re-did my Body Pump Aim 1.

If you aren’t a Les Mills instructor – Aim 1 is effectively a one day upskill where we look to improve our own technique and our coaching. We also teach a track twice during the day and get feedback.

Normally one of the UK trainer team takes the course and there are around 5-15 people in attendance. This one was a bit different because the Creative Director for the programme, Kylie Gates, had travelled over from New Zealand to lead the day along with several UK trainers and there was over 100 people in attendance who has travelled to Woking (Surrey apparently!) from all over the country.

There are so many things from the day I could write about so I may revisit the day in more depth again in future blogs when I’ve had more time to process the information, but I wanted to touch briefly on a few of the things I took from the day.

Body Pumper or not these things apply to everyday life.

Own your Strengths

We tend to be very quick to look to our faults. When we review our performance in most things in life we look to what we could have done better or where we need improvement. That self awareness is great for self improvement but we also need to look at what we do well, the skills where we own it, our strengths; because when we work towards these strengths we can get the best results possible.

This isn’t being vain and thinking we are better than others or have no faults, just being aware of what we do contribute and do well. I have recently been working with someone who’s strength are very different to mine – I would say we are both aware of each others strengths and we work accordingly – as a result we get more done and we get it done well.

Know you purpose

Why do you do whatever you do? What do you want to get out of it? What do you contribute to the world?

When you know this it can shape how you approach your work and your interactions with people. Until recently I didn’t really know – I kind of just bobbed along. Now I have a clear vision of what I would like to do ultimately and why I want to do it.

Placing that at the centre of how you interact with others can both enhance your relationships, create meaningful connections with people and make it easier to start working towards your goals.

Be present

We generally aren’t great at hearing. There is a difference between listening to someone and hearing what they are saying, making an effort to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from.

One of my pet hates is when someone asks you a question then ignores the answer. Either interact with my response or don’t ask to start with – because asking me a question but not listening to the answer makes me feel irrelevant to you. Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, nobody likes to feel irrelevant.

Yet we all do it to varying degrees – we are busy and feel like we don’t have time to focus on the person we are talking to. When you say it like that it actually sounds as crap as it can make people feel!

We did an exercise where we had to listen to our partner speak for 60 seconds without responding or interjecting – do you know how hard that is!?

I’m taking away from the day that I need to get better at this – if I’m talking to someone they are to be my focus and I need to be present in that conversation rather than mentally multitasking. One thing I noted from talking to Kylie was that when she spoke to you it felt like she was focused on that conversation – like it was important- and that makes you feel more positive. I want people to feel more positive from talking to me.

When you have passion for what you do it’s easy to find your ‘people’

This is possibly the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written (I’ve almost made myself throw up a little) but it’s actually very true.

When the tickets for this event were put on sale I wanted to go but was aware that the distance from Manchester meant it would be expensive. A friend of a friend who also teaches Pump was in the same position – we had come across each other in Facebook groups but never met – so we decided to share a hotel room to reduce the costs.

Some people thought the idea of sharing a room with, effectively, a stranger was weird, and I think we would both admit that we were a little nervous beforehand. In the end it didn’t feel strange at all. We slipped easily into conversation and it felt like we had known each other for ages.

It shows that when you share the same interests and goals with people, it’s easier to feel comfortable with them and like you belong.