A throw back to one of my favourite podcasts to record.
Recorded just before Lockdown in late February 2020 with my running partner in crime, Hollie Green, here’s our running top tips.
A throw back to one of my favourite podcasts to record.
Recorded just before Lockdown in late February 2020 with my running partner in crime, Hollie Green, here’s our running top tips.
Can Intermittent Fasting help you lose weight?
Sure, if you eat during a shorter time window every day but don’t eat dramatically more than you usually would at each meal or eat extra meals in that time period (i.e. you don’t just eat breakfast later) you will possibly lose weight. Why? Because you’re eating fewer calories. You may also find other health benefits to eating in this way and it can really suit some people’s lifestyles and mindsets. But is it a magic formula in itself? No, if it’s not for you the fact is you’re really not missing out on some great health cheat.
Can cutting out coffee help you lose weight?
Maybe, if you normally drink it with milk and (or) sugar and cut back you’ll reduce your calorie intake naturally and you may see an effect on your weight. Equally, even with black coffee you may find you sleep a bit better and as getting enough sleep is helpful when it comes to both weight loss and training you might see a small benefit there. Having said that coffee can sometimes act as an appetite suppressant so cutting back may affect your appetite a bit at first, if you’re also adding in pre workouts to replace a pre gym black coffee you might even end up consuming slightly more calories. Essentially, whilst there may be benefits they might well be minimal.
Can using an acupressure mat help you lose weight?
It is reported that Acupressure mats provide many benefits, including weight loss. The idea being the pressure points relieve stress due to the release of endorphins, lowering cortisol and this reduction in stress helps weight management. I have an acupressure mat and try to use it every night, I certainly feel I sleep better and feel more relaxed after 20 minutes laying on it, for me, whether there is much scientific research or not it makes me feel good. Does it help with weight management though? If it does it’s probably minimal and only in conjunction with eating the appropriate amount of calories. Would laying on this mat alone reduce weight? No.
Will meditation / mindfulness help you lose weight?
Mindfulness, practiced often, can be an effective method for helping change habits and ways of thinking and as such could help you lose weight by helping you adjust your habits. Again, on it’s own it will not help you lose weight, it’s a tool which can help you adjust your behaviours and the change in behaviour is what will lead to weight loss.
There are many habits, actions and behaviour changes which, can when incorporated into your life, make you feel better and assist with weight loss. Ultimately though, weight loss comes from consuming fewer calories than you burn over a consistent period of time. Sometimes on a weight loss journey, the habits we adopt across the way can feel like the magic ingredient that actually made the difference in losing weight. Perhaps they are, in the respect if they make us feel better and more positive and help us stick to a calorie deficit then they are positive weight loss tools that can also bring other benefits at the same time. It’s important to recognise that in terms of weight loss however, these things alone do not create a calorie deficit and understanding this will allow long lasting changes to occur.
Have you realised you’re just a few weeks out from your run and you haven’t really started training?
In my latest podcast I talk about my current situation, factors to help you decide what to do and how to approach the situation if you decide you’re still going to run.
You can listen here:
How are you feeling about your nutrition right now?
It’s really tempting when you aren’t feeling on top of things to look for radical solutions. But what we really want to do at times like that are revisit the basics.
If you’re currently feeling a bit lost think about
– Your TDEE
– Macros / proteins
– Your calorie deficit
– Your habits and anchors that make you feel better
Remind yourself of the most important principles.
You don’t need to drastically cut calories or change what you’re eating just remind yourself of the basics. Once they are in place you can think about more in depth aspects of your nutrition, but until then you will likely be sabotaging your own results by ignoring the foundations in an attempt to build the house quicker.
It’s not unusual to review your life at the start of a new year and decide what you are happy with, what you want to change, what you would like to achieve within the coming year.
Often we want to lose weight, earn more money, travel more and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things being motivators.
It’s understood by most people who work in any kind of field where motivation is key (fitness is a great example) that people are more likely to meet those goals when they genuinely want them for a real reason that they feel some real passion or connection to.
So if you want to lose weight you’re more likely to achieve that when the reason is improved health or to be able to play with your children than because you think you probably should be a size 10.
Not only are you more likely to achieve a goal when there’s a purpose behind it, it’s also more likely to make you happy.
What about when one of your goals is to help other people?
As a society we are sceptical of anyone offering help, the saying you don’t get something for nothing springs to mind. When people offer things for free we tend to immediately assume there’s a catch.
But sometimes, some people’s purpose does involve, in part, just helping people.
Again fitness is a great example of this. It’s an area that many of us who work in it feel real passion about. We want to help people, bust misconceptions and encourage. Now of course we need to earn money too, so we have to charge for some things. But equally a lot of us want to help and will happily provide a lot more for free than you may get in other sectors. Hell, it’s a little selfish because the feeling you can get for knowing you made a difference is some people’s purpose in itself.
So today I wanted to highlight one fitness professional who does just that, and this year has (in my opinion) stepped it up even more.
Lauren McDowell is a Les Mills instructor, who has long been a Tribe Coach (a position where instructors volunteer time to mentor other instructors) and is well known on the instructor social media groups for providing technique videos and feedback.
This year she seems to have stepped it up a notch. After asking on Instagram what people wanted help with she has already produced videos on Body Combat kick technique which anyone can view (check it out here).
But beyond that she has also started producing regular simple and practical tips aimed at people starting out or getting back into a fitness journey.
None of this makes Lauren any money, but she believes and is passionate about encouraging others to participate in fitness and doing it in a way that you enjoy and makes you feel good.
I have the pleasure of working with Lauren as part of Jump 4.2, which has a massive support network for instructors, all helping each other out, and she is also always available to support everyone in that group.
Lauren is of course one of many fit pros I know who provide so much help to others beyond the selling of their services, and they do this because part of their purpose is to help others. They can keep helping people even when they get nothing concrete out of it because it serves their purpose and they feel they get value from it regardless.
So back to my original point, there’s absolutely zero issue with your goals being money motivated or weight orientated but to achieve them you need to be motivated, and to stay motivated those goals need to mean something to you. Sometimes what you realise means something to you might not make sense to anyone else, sometimes the value you get out of a goal may not be physical but mental. Having a clear idea of your purpose will however help you make 2020 a year you get closer to your goals and those goals making you happier.
Equally, your goal really doesn’t have to be what you’d normally expect. Could it be to help more people or help specific people, rather than get a promotion or drop a dress size? Would that create a fire in your belly that pushed you to achieve your goal?
You can of course have a mixture of goals and I’m not suggesting becoming Mother Theresa here, but thinking beyond the norm of New Years Resolutions could help you find something your truly passionate about.
I’m pretty confident one of Lauren’s goals is helping more people this year (I’m sure she has others). You can help her teach more people by checking out her Instagram here, and if you do Combat do check out her technique videos!
Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed with everything that is going on?
I suspect a lot of people do because one of the most common reasons people give for not exercising or looking at what they eat is that they are too busy.
I’ve said here before that really this can be overcome with planning, working out what you need to prioritise and what you can realistically do, being realistic about your goals. I stand by this, but I also get it.
I think it’s a natural feeling to have sometimes, to be completely overwhelmed. Whether you already train regularly, eat pretty well, juggle lots of jobs and tasks or whether these are things you aspire to do but don’t feel like you do right now, sometimes it just feels like there’s too much stuff.
Sometimes out of nowhere the balls your kept in the air for ages feel like too many balls or trying to change one small thing in your house of cards feels like it will bring the whole thing down.
This is when you need to stop and evaluate.
‘Hustle’ is great. If you want things you do have to work, whether that be in your career or working towards your ideal physique, but when you attempt to do everything perfectly you can end up reaching the point you actually are doing nothing because it’s all just got too much.
Sometimes you need to sit and look at everything on your to do list. Take off some of the pointless tasks that don’t really matter. Look at your training, look at your diet and pin point exactly what is you need to focus on right now and forget about everything else you hear about and think maybe you should be doing too.
My plan for the 6 weeks or so before Christmas? Well I noticed these last few days I’ve been putting off important shit because I’ve felt a little bit overwhelmed. When I’m overwhelmed i comfort eat, when I comfort eat I feel sluggish and don’t really want to train.
I’ve stripped my work load back to a manageable amount of work, with the things that will earn me money taking priority. I know I’ll get more results taking longer to do things I want to do but actually doing them rather than just saying I really must get on with that.
I’m going to track my food, not cut stuff out or eat differently (It’s Christmas, there’s going to be cake and I’m not saying no!) just make sure I’m staying within my TDEE. That will make me feel better about training – Training I want to hit hard. Not hard as in spend hours in the gym, but plan my sessions in and treat them like appointments and be 100% present in the session to be the best of my ability that day.
Essentially I’m planning to finish 2019 by focusing on doing the basics well. That’s going to make life feel simpler and therefore reduce that feeling of juggling lots of balls.
If right now you feel like you can’t hit your fitness goals because you’ve too much on try taking a look, seeing what you can drop and what really simple things you can commit to right now to get you closer to your goals by the end of 2019.
Following Mental Health Awareness Day Thursday I wanted to offer some ideas of simple things you can do relating to fitness and nutrition to help improve your mental health (whoever you are) and perhaps even help manage depression and anxiety:
1) Drink water
Most of us don’t drink enough water at the best of time and if you feel low the chances are you will drink even less. Fill a water bottle and sip throughout the day. Dehyration causes fatigue and has been linked to feelings of depression so drinking water is a cheap, low effort way of helping you feel a bit better.
2) Vitamin D
This can help make you feel better natutally. You can buy supplements, a light box, possibly use a sunbed or even better get outside and get some fresh air at the same time. Little effort required for a potential improvement in your mood.
3) Fish Oil
Omega 3 has been linked to improving symptons of mild depression. Make the effort to take a supplement each day – you can buy it in liquid form if you can’t swallow tablets (and are brave!). This was one simple habit that has worked well for me.
4) Eat regular meals
When you feel low eating proper meals at regular times can go out the window. Set an alarm for regular intervals and eat a small simple meal when it goes off. This will help stabilise your mood and create a feeling of routine and normality which can help when life feels like it’s crumblig around you.
5) Eat colourful food
Go to the shop and buy lots of different colourerd food. If you don’t feel like cooking buy prepared veg and fruit. Eating a variety of colours will mean your getting a variety of nutrients and will help improve your mood as well as your health.
6) Eat simple healthy meals
Eating healthy foods can have a dramatic affect on how well your mind feels. If I’ve had a bad week a simple healthy meal can help me feel more positive and in control of my own mind and body. It may sound stupid but when I eat well I feel like my body feels better and I’m looking after myself which in turn makes me feel brighter within myself. On days like this I won’t have the energy to cook a fancy meal so I go for a simple piece of salmon I can microwave or grill and a pack of microwave veg. 10 minutes to prepare a good quality meal.
7) Try some alternative meal prep
The holy grail of fitness freaks! Cooking is the last thing you want to do when you feel depressed. So if you find yourself having a good day make the most of it and prepare so batches of food that you can freeze. Then on days you just can’t face cooking you can defrost one of these meals and still eat something homemade.
8) Buy a slow cooker
Slow cookers allow you to make healthy tasty meals with little effort -and a casserole is brilliant comfort food. They are great for preparing a comforting meal without much effort and will make you feel better than turning to chocolate and other quick food sources that we often crave when we feel low.
9) Drink less coffee
Adrenal Fatigue and depression / anxiety are linked. Too much coffee puts you at risk of developing adrenal fatigue – drinking less will help reduce stress levels. You could try a herbal tea instead which many people find helps then relax.
Getting outside helps you move more -that will help your mental health. Fresh air will help lift your mood. Being outside will help increase vitamin D intake. Walking can help clear your head. Walking is free. In short one of the best and most simple things you can do to help yourself fell more positive.
As I said moving has been shown to help manage many mental health issues. You may not feel much like it but it can be in any form and doesn’t need to be for long periods of time to help. Start small and build up as you start to feel like you can.
Stick music on and just move to the music. Music can improve mood as can moving which makes thos fun activity a win win mood boosting activity.
13) Try group exercise
Nerve wracking and requires motivation. Sounds awful if you aren’t having the best day. But if you can push yourself to walk into the room you can find exercise, motivation, good music and social interaction in one place. It’s hard to leave a class not feeling at least a little bit more positive than when you walked in.
14) Join a team or club
Another nervewracking idea. Another idea which will allow you to exercise which will help your mental health and get to meet new people, another great mood booster. It can also help boose confidence which will help your mental health dramatically.
15) Try yoga
A chance to challenge your body and stretch along with a focus on breathing and mental wellbeing. You could try a class or find a free video on You tube. You could do an hour or even 5 minutes. Whatever you feel like at the start there is an option you could try out and you may feel more relaxed by the end of it.
Do you have any other tips for improving your mental health?
New to Body Pump?
Classes with lots of equipment can seem scary, but Pump is a great way to introduce weights based training into your routine with the added benefit of having an instructor there to help you get the hang of the moves.
So this is my ‘what you need to know’ guide to taking your first Body Pump class:
So when the whole class looks like they know what is coming they do for a reason- and after a couple of classes you will too!
I hope that the above tips have made the idea of trying a class less daunting! If you do decide to give the class a go, I would love to hear your thoughts!
I’ve trained on holiday- not everyday, but I’ve got a couple of short workouts in and a couple of 20 minute yoga practices. As a fitness instructor I am used to training most days and often multiple times a day so for me this is still a massive break for the body.
Should you train on holiday though? And if you do what should you do?
Well to start the most obvious answer is it’s completely up to you. If you train regularly and are going on holiday taking a break from your everyday routine is exactly the point so there’s nothing wrong with deciding that you aren’t packing gym kit.
Some people enjoy their training however and will feel better for a quick gym session some days (or you may be training for an event and still want to get some sessions in whilst away) and if that’s you don’t feel guilty about recognising and acknowledging this, although it’s worthwhile remembering there is a difference between wanting to go and do a little bit in the gym a few times and feeling guilty about not sticking to your normal busy training schedule – a holiday is about finding more time to relax after all.
So if you’re going to train what should you do? Again this is entirely up to you. You might want to go with some form of plan but try and be flexible – there could be activities there you’d enjoy trying instead of your planned routine or you could arrive to find a less than well equipped hotel gym. I would try, however, to keep sessions quick so you’ve more time to go enjoy the sun, and also keep them fun – things your enjoy rather than things that are going to kill your legs and leave you aching for days!
Some ideas of things you could do:
Above all if you train you want it to enhance your mood whilst away not feel like a chore or a penance for all the food you’re enjoying so make the choice that suits you best and enjoy!
Today’s blog topic is a request (possibly my first ever topic request!) and is focused on the Post Marathon Blues.
This doesn’t just need to apply to marathons, it could equally apply to people who have trained for any big sporting even (half marathon, 10k, big swim or cycle, triathlon, a show, a tournament- anything where all your focus for several months has been working towards being in your peak physical form and at the top of your game for one specific event).
How we feel after an event is not something we tend to focus on. We put lots of thought into preparing for things and on the day itself and even on the immediate recovery in the hours or days after a physical event.
But many people report feeling a bit down in the weeks after a marathon or other big event. Words like lost, aimless, flat, down, void, lacking in motivation come up in conversations. It’s a lot like that feeling you get when you come back from a holiday and the realities of normal life hit you and now because the holiday has been and gone you don’t have anything to look forward to.
This is due to both physical and psychological reasons.
Physically the day itself will probably have left you feeling extremely tired, a cumulative effect of weeks of training hard and the extra effort of the day itself and you may have picked up blisters, bruised toenails and niggles which don’t help make you feel great about yourself. Your endorphins will have been high during the event and as you settle back into normality this can have an effect of how you feel as you struggle to replicate the high you felt in that moment again.
Mentally, you no longer have the event to focus on and that can leave you feeling like life has no meaning or focus after months of everything you do revolving around training (can’t go out Saturday have a long run on Sunday morning, can’t eat that as I’m in training and so on). It can make it harder to you to motivate yourself to eat well or train as you no longer have that reason for doing so. Many of us thrive on routine and having something meaningful to us to work towards and once you reach your goal where do you go from there?
Thankfully, these feelings tend to only last a few weeks and people normally spring back to their normal self but there are things you can do to help yourself feel better in this situation and feel the positivity you probably expected to feel after your big achievement.
Plan to do something nice to celebrate your achievement – a massage, spa break, celebration meal. Take time to congratulate yourself for what you achieved so it doesn’t feel insignificant now.
Book something nice
Similar to above, you could consider booking a weekend break or holiday- something to focus on that is nice and not exercise. This is bound to improve your mood
Think about what you achieved, all the positives and even what you would have done differently in hindsight. Think objectively about whether it’s something you would like to repeat or if once was enough. That way if you choose to train for the same event in the future you know what pitfalls to avoid and if not you know you can confidently say once was enough. Sometimes reflecting on your feelings can give you more ownership on how you feel and help you both make decisions and manage your emotional responses better.
Get a sports massage, continue to eat nourishing food (and enough of it) to help the body recover, stretch, get some good quality sleep and take some time to just sit and chill. Any sporting event which take a toll on your body requires some proper mindful recovery in the days after to help you feel better physically which in turn will help you feel better mentally.
Do some low impact exercise
Don’t feel like you need to be back training he day after. A week or two off could be exactly what your body needs. If you feel the urge to exercise though try and stick to low impact options which place less strain on your CNS. You may want to try some yoga or similar during this time.
Don’t run for a couple of weeks
Similar to above, a couple of weeks not doing the exercise you have just trained hard for can be beneficial, both in allow you to physically recover but also give you that little bit of excitement when you do go back out for that first run after a couple of weeks.
Find a new challenge
After a couple of weeks when your rested and refreshed this could be the time to think about what comes next. Another run of the same distance, a step up to the next distance (Ultra anyone), maybe looking at trying something new instead. Setting your next goal will give you a renewed sense of focus.
Above all, don’t stress about feeling a bit blue after a big event. It’s human nature and being sensible and kind to yourself is the key to letting it subside.
Equally, if you suffer from depression anyway, don’t let the idea of post event blues put you off training for an event. Research has shown that having something to aim for and the training and self care associated with that training can be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of depression and as long as you are mindful that you might feel a bit down immediately after the event and have your coping strategies in place this should have a generally positive impact on your mental health.