My latest podcast all about diets and losing weight … how we view it in society and on social media these days and why it’s still ok to want to lose weight along with a bit about why you might be finding it tough to actually reduce the number in the scales
If you started a weight loss journey at the start of January you might have found you’ve dropped a few pounds already. Often at the start of any kind of change in eating patterns we can see a sudden dip on the scales. That will start to slow / plateau out naturally after a few weeks though. However that doesn’t mean you aren’t still getting results. Our weight naturally fluctuates across the day / week / month so using the scales alone to monitor progress can end up being demotivating.
Here’s a few other ways to monitor your progress which are far more reliable:
- Take pictures- front, back, side and compare across the weeks to see a difference in body shape.
- Take measurements of your thighs, upper arm, waist, chest and keep track of inch loss.
- Keep a pair of trousers that are maybe a bit tight to one side and try on every few weeks to see how the fit changes.
- Keep a journal of your mood, water intake, sleep, steps, lifts, running PBs and see how much better you feel as the weeks progress and your fitness improves, you might find you end up not even bothered about your weight.
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!
I wrote this six months ago- all still remarkably true and relevant.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 over training though and in the long term will improve your results.
- 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 back burner.
- 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.
As I explained in my last blog I decided this month I’d cover some ways you can create a calorie deficit. So far I’ve covered Paleo and Intermittent Fasting and The Hand Job Diet.
Today something that in a world full of so many different methods for loosing body fat sounds to obvious and simple to cover.
But how many times have people decided they need to make changes and looked for some magic method.
Put simply work out your TDEE
Use a TDEE calculator such this TDEE Calculator
Deduct 20% from this figure.
Eat this many calories.
You will have created a calorie deficit.
Just track what you eat.
The easiest way to do this is using My Fitness Pal.
This app is free.
Pros- You can eat what you want when you want as long as you stay within that number of calories
Cons- You have to keep track (at least for a while until you get into a habit).
Calorie deficit level basic.
Basic is often best for success.
Up until recently I have weighed myself weekly, every week, without fail, for about 19 years.
When you embark on a new regime and the scales show a downward trend consistently this is all fine. There comes a point when this stops however. Recently I have gained muscle – I know I have because I can see it. My body has got smaller / leaner/ however you want to articulate it- it has changed shape. My weight has gone up. This upset me. I complained. Quite a lot if I’m honest.
So I was advised to throw my scales in the bin. Weight is just your mass, it doesn’t take into account what amount of that mass is fat, muscle, water. It doesn’t reflect the hormonal changes of our body – women in particular are affected by our cycles and other things beyond our control (like werewolves only more vicious). It doesn’t affect how we look naked or in clothes or how strong / fit we are. I weigh 80kg now days – I am the same dress size as I was two years ago when I weighed 70kg.
I didn’t throw the scales away. Logic may be logical but 19 years of habit is hard to break. But I did hide them and commit to not weighing myself every week. That was about 3 weeks ago.
Mentally this is tough. What if I’m putting on weight? What if I have that illness where I look in the mirror and see someone thinner than I really am and so end up obese before I realise I’m doing something wrong? I know this isn’t logical but our relationship with our bodies is very often quite illogical.
Being successful with your fitness goals is as much about mentality as it is actually doing things. Right now i know I’m not ready to completely give up my scales – I’ve said I’ll maybe weight myself once a month or maybe every 6 weeks and look to cut down from there.