How Much Is Enough?

Yesterday I set out to prep my meals for the week in 30 minutes.

It ended up taking an hour because I set all the fire alarms in my building off!

But still, 5 lunches, 4 dinners and a couple of snacks plus a fight with a smoke alarm in 60 minutes – that’s not bad going.

They aren’t the most impressive meals – I’m not being invited onto Masterchef anytime soon, but they will all taste good, are nutritious, are made up of real foods – carbs, proteins, fats – the lot.

My point?

It’s not that you don’t need to cut foods out of live off kale and air to be healthy (that wouldn’t be a bad point to be fair).

It’s not that if you’re busy through the week a bit of meal prep once a week is an amazing tool to keep you on track to your nutrition goals (again pretty good point).

It’s to manage your own expectations of yourself and your week.

Typically Sunday is my only day ‘off’. I know I need to prepare food for the week but if that took up my whole Sunday how often would I end up sacking it off?

So I accept that my food is a bit simple, nothing fancy, in exchange for only needing an hour to get it all done.

If cooking was a relaxing pleasure for me I’d possibly spend longer on it, but that’s not the case.

I try and apply this logic to my fitness as a whole – what would be ideal? How would the ideal affect my life? If it would make me stressed or resentful sod the ideal and find something more realistic to stick to.

4,000 Calories

It was my birthday on Tuesday and someone at work bought me a 4,000 calorie army ration pack as a challenge, seeing if I could eat it in a day.

See I have a reputation at work for eating quite a lot, and having been in the army and had these ration packs they were intrigued if I could eat one.

I have to say when they first said it I thought 4,000 calories would be easy- I eat around 2,500 calories most days anyway on average and can eat more on days when there’s cake in the office.

But when I looked at the amount of food in the box I realised that whilst I eat a lot of calories through the day I tend to eat a lot of high calorie, lower density foods whereas this menu was going to make me feel full and make eating it harder – in particular I was aware of how much liquid there was in the box which I assumed would make me feel full quicker and make eating everything harder.

So my days food looked like this:

8.30 am Breakfast – Potatoe and beans, Grapefruit flavoured energy drink, black coffee with sugar

10.00 am – Sweets, Coffee with creamer and sugar

11.00 am – Fruit biscuits, coffee with creamer and sugar

12.00 pm – Nuts (75g) and what I can only describe as flavoured sugar water

1.00 pm – Spicy sausage and wedges, cola flavoured energy drink

2.00 pm – Trained (weights)

3.00 pm – Brownie and hot chocolate

4.00 pm – Seaseme biscuits, tea with sugar

4.30 pm – Tuna mayo and rank tatsing lemon energy drink

5.00 pm – Cola flavoured energy drink and extra custard tart because why not

7.15 pm – Taught Spin

8.00 pm – Drank wine (not in box lol)

11.00 pm – Thai soup with rice and chicken

Now I wouldn’t recommend this as an average days eating – I was basically forcing myself to eat when I was full and felt completely overloaded on sugar.

BUT HERE IS WHAT I LEARNT.

Firstly, eating enough gives you more energy .

I’m not suggesting I should eat 4,000 calories a day- that would see me in a pretty big surplus pretty quickly, but eating lots made me feel good in the gym.  Obviously in everyday life I would suggest stopping eating when you feel full not powering through endless meals but feeling energetic in the gym is a good thing.  In particular drinking carbs for energy is extremely helpful- on this it went to an extreme that I just felt overloaded but with a more balanced approach it’s a winner.

Secondly, eating foods with a higher density fills you up.

My worry at the start had been that the amount of volume, liquid especially and whether I’d physically be able to eat it.  It was a challenge!  So the lesson here is when you are struggling to stick to a calorie deficit because you’re hungry have a look at the density of the foods your eating and see if you can turn some of those calories into foods that are more filling for their calorie value (a plate of chicken and veg will keep you fuller for longer than a chocolate bar of the same calorie value).

Three Months Remaining

Tomorrow marks the last quarter of 2019.

What resolutions did you set on 1st January 2019?  How far have you got in working towards them?

Hopefully you’ve made progress and are closer to those goals than you were 9 months ago.

But perhaps not-perhaps your resolve slipped away a bit along the way and you feel like you’re back at square one, no further forward than you were.

Have you already said sod it, 2019 wasn’t my year, I will start again in 2020?

Today I just want to note that however 2019 has gone for you so far you still have three months left in the year- that’s 25% of the year still to go.

You can do a lot in three months.  You can make a start on working toward whatever your New Year Resolution was on 1st January 2019 and you could be 92 days closer to reaching that goal that if you chose to start again next year.

You could even have a fresh look at your goals, because what you wanted then might not be what you want now, and then get started on those goals.

Point is you don’t need to start on January 1st, you don’t need to start on a Monday, you don’t need to start at the perfect moment or when you’ve got a ‘clear run at It’ or are in ‘the right place’ .

You just need to start with something small today.

You could do nothing until 1st January or you could do 92 small things between now and then and b 92 steps closer to your goal.

Walk, Phone or Email?

Really quick blog today (am currently dying of man flu so no energy to write until this evening).

I wanted to write about an observation I overheard at work today.

One of my colleagues, whenever he wants to speak to someone, gets up and goes to find them rather than picking up the phone.

Going and speaking to someone rather than emailing or calling can seem odd in many offices but in terms of upping your NEAT it’s such a simple yet effective habit to create.

Each time you get up and go and speak to that person in accounts when you’ve got a query rather than emailing them you increase your step count and make yourself move more often without even noticing.

Think about the people you know who you consider fit and healthy  –  the chances are they don’t just go to the gym, they probably move around a lot in general.  Walking to work instead of driving, taking the stairs, always being the one to get up and make the tea.  Movement is a habit and once you get into that habit it’s easy to keep up.

Yesterday was National Fitness Day and there was lots of encouragement to start a new class or go to the gym but you could improve your health just a little by making one small change to your day right now that gets your moving that little bit more.

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.

In the News

Two things in the news over the last week you may have read about.

The Fat Shaming PT and Instagram banning the advertising of content that “makes a miraculous claim about certain diet or weight loss products, and is linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code”.

Thankfully the general reaction from most people demonstrates the overriding belief withing the fitness industry that fat shaming isn’t ok.  Most fitness professionals are both welcoming and understanding to people from all walks of life, backgrounds and whatever their previous experience of fitness and nutrition may be.  You could argue this should be a given- let’s be real people who need help with exercise and food are the PTs ideal clients right?  Therefore it stands to reason that understanding the obstacles (be it medical, mindset or education based) involved when creating healthy habits and understanding their effect and how to overcome them should be a key skill for any fit pro.  Of course there are some people who fail to see this.  These people are known as dicks and the less airtime or exposure they are given the better in my opinion.

The banning of the advertising of diet ‘miracles’ is an undoubtedly positive thing.

As a fitness professional you can look at these paid ads by minor celebrities with no fitness qualifications and dismiss them as ridiculous.

But if you think you have wright to lose and see something that claims it will help you do this with minimal work or effort the chances are you’ll be tempted.  The fact they are advertised by people you may know add strength to the claim.

The cold truth is given the choice to listen to a semi famous person you’ve heard of tell you drinking this tea every morning will help you lose weight will often win out over that unknown PT on your instagram feed telling you that you’ll actually have to take some bog standard boring action and change your habits.  That costs less but will take longer and seems a bit like hard work and we are all pretty used to being able buy anything we want and get it the next day.

When these products are given less exposure people will have to go and look for them more actively – and if your willing to actively research a solution to your problem you’re more likely to be willing to  actually work to fix it, which means you’re more likely to actually find a healthy sustainable solution.

This week has shown there are many issues within the fitness industry but also that there are positive moves being made all the time to remove some of the bullshit.

 

 

Why I Run

Over recent years I’ve entered a lot of races.  10k, half marathons , even a marathon.  People always ask why.  There is one simple answer.

For the goodie bag.

That’s partly a joke – I like the support from the crowd and the variety in the route which makes running a long distance more palatable than just plodding down the same cycle route or park that I normally run in.

But essentially getting some food and a t shirt at the end is an incentive for me (want to be my friend- I’m very food motivated)!

I have a friend who literally runs for medals- she picks races based on what the medals are like!

I have another friend who does endurance events almost purely just to see how far they can push themselves.

In all our cases the event itself, location, the time we might get, our likely finishing place are almost irrelevant factors in our decision to take part.

Our motivation for doing incredibly challenging things doesn’t always have to be a story worthy of it’s own background music on a Britain’s Got Talent audition.

Do you struggle to set yourself a fitness goal?  Is that because you can’t think of that thing that sets your soul on fire and when people ask you about it you can give a long inspirational speech about how an angel came to you one night and told you that you were destined to do this thing?  Do you have something you’d quite like to try for whatever reason but that reason seems a bit superficial, silly even?

I run for goodie bags.  You can do literally anything you want for any reason you want!