Rishi announces Covid to be furloughed for Christmas

As we all predicted series 11 of 2020 is all going to end in tiers (boom boom).

The writers have gone with the somewhat predictable let’s put London in tier 2 and most of the North in tier 3 even though the North Wests R rating is lower than the Capital plot line. To be honest most of of us up here are just waiting for the day Boris announces the start of the Hunger Games in one of his daily briefings, I suspect this may happen in an early series of 2021.

Tier 3 means no group exercise (despite it being arguably the safest area of most gyms and proving that the people making the decisions are basing them on polls of Daily Mail readers) and the likely death of the hospitality industry as they miss the vital Christmas trade.

On the plus side BoJo has announced that Covid plans to take a 5 day holiday over Christmas when we can meet with Granny without killing her. Whether Covid will be furloughed in this time has not been announced. Of course none of this seems like a bit of a kick in the teeth for those who had their Eid celebrations cancelled the night before and nobody at all is expecting the plot twist of a third lockdown in episode 1 of 2021, honest.

As a side plot away from Covid the most pointless main character in the history of any show ever, Matt Hancock, smirked his way through a TV interview with Piers Morgan trying to justify why him and his mates should get a pay rise but the rest of the country should be grateful if they manage to hang onto their jobs at all. You know it’s bad when Piers Morgan starts sounding like he’s talking sense so we all wait with nervous anticipation for the final ever season of 2020… will it be jolly? Will it be miserable? After the last 11 series all bets are off on this one.

Lockdown 2 Training

I don’t know about you but I’m finding training in second Lockdown harder. During the first lockdown I did something almost every day, some days it may have only been a 10 minute run but I moved; I did Zoom classes, ran, walked, lifted, albeit limited, weights I had and used by body weight as resistance.

We’ve been in lockdown 2 for 11 days and so far I’ve run a total of 10km across four separate runs and that’s it. I actually struggled with my training when gyms re-opened. Having got into a groove at home I found making the transition back to working in the office and training around that hard. After teaching for around 8 weeks I’d just started to feel like I was getting back into some kind of routine again and bam – back into lockdown we went. My brain has literally and inexplicably decided it cannot be bothered, I’ve spent the last week kicking myself about why I’ve been so lazy when I know that training would make me feel better.

What I’ve realised over the last couple of days however, is that we are learning to react to constantly changing situations at the moment, with a great deal of uncertainty about what we will and won’t be able to do when. If that occasionally means that I have a week or two where not much gets done that’s ok, I can always get back to it. Training should be something done because we enjoy it, it makes us feel good not because we think we must. It of course was going to be harder this time round, as the weather and darker evenings make training outside much harder and less appealing, so this second Lockdown I’m adjusting my expectations of myself. When I do get back to training I’m sure it will feel all the better for doing it because I want to and not because I’m forcing myself out of a sense of obligation.

2020 – A brief interlude in the proceedings

Whilst we expected Series 11 to mainly be about Lockdown 2.0 the writers decided to break the tension with an episode with a difference this week, a bit like when the Crown did that episode that was just about the Queen and Prince Philips relationship in series 2. Yes, Bojo and Cummings broke up.

Apparently it was always going to happen in season 12 but something happened behind the scenes which led to a shock early departure and a well staged carrying of desk items in a cardboard box out of the door of number 10 (no back door to slink quietly out of, I take it).

The precise reasons why have only been hinted at which leads me to guess we’ll get one of those looking back episodes in a future series where we find out what really happened, but it appears to have been some kind of strange love triangle between Boris, Dominic and Carrie Symonds who apparently is “one of the few people around the prime minister who understands the Conservative party”, which given that he is largely surrounded by the Conservative cabinet is a bit disconcerting.

Anyway, we await to see who will run the country now Cummings has gone and whether, as I suspect, he has actually left to front a major Specscavers campaign.

One thing we can all be grateful of, at least all this in fighting isn’t happening at a time of national crisis, in the midst of a pandemic, economic recession and whilst we are on the brink of an EU no deal Brexit.

Expert v. The Internet

Today I read a post on a weight loss Facebook group. The person posting was disappointed because they had ‘only’ lost 10lbs in 5 weeks. They did note their clothes fit better.

I don’t tend to comment on these things but today felt I had to, not to go into lots of detail and be all preachy but just to remind them that a) they had actually seen a good weight loss in those 5 weeks and even better, could see it in how their clothes fit which is a far better way of monitoring progress and that b) many of the other comments offering advice, whilst well meaning, were not helpful.

There were suggestions that the person posting may be in starvation mode and that’s why they were not losing more weight, that they should have a cheat meal or cheat day to ‘reset their metabolism’. I’m not writing this to make fun of those comments, the people making them were trying to help, but ultimately they were passing on false information to someone who was looking for advice to follow.

The internet is brilliant for researching information on topics you need help with, but be mindful of where you look for your information. If you are looking to improve you fitness or reach your goals check the people you are listening to are qualified to help you so you don’t end up trying to follow guidance which isn’t factually correct.

90% Effective

Episode 9 of series 11 was a corker as we all got excited about a vaccine that could be 90% effective.

Good news. Except the UK has 10 million doses with 30 millions on order which, as apparently each person would need two doses, would be enough to immunise 20 million people. There’s 66.7 million people in the UK. Now I’ve never been great at maths but that doesn’t sound like it’s going to be quite enough to solve the problem to me, but Boris isn’t known for cocking things up is he so I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. Either that or he’s counting on Marcus Rashford to come up with some kind of solution, which to be honest sounds more likely. Or maybe clapping for those who don’t get the vaccine will work?

So if only 30% of the country will be able to get the vaccine how will they decide who those people are? Here’s a few options for Hancock and co. to consider:

🔘 You could win one with the People’s Postcode lottery

🔘 You could buy one on TicketMaster, with a presale for all paid up members of the Conservative Party to make it as ‘fair’ as possible

🔘 Regional Egg and Spoon races (socially distanced obviously) with vaccines for the winners

🔘 Everyone called Malcolm, Steve or Vera could automatically qualify

🔘 They could put golden vaccine tickets in chocolate bars aka Charlie and the Chocolate factory with the winners getting a vaccine (odds are I’d be a winner here)

🔘 You could collect 5 special tokens from the Sun like one of those £10 holidays (subject to availability)

🔘 Everyone who supports Manchester United or Liverpool could automatically qualify (this would cover a wide selection of the country)

🔘 They could sell them in the special buy section of Aldi

🔘 They could vaccinate the vulnerable and front line medical staff first of course but that seems a bit too boring and sensible so I just can’t see it

2020 Continues

Despite Lockdown 2.0 being released in the first few episodes of series 11 it hasn’t had the response from critics that the Government perhaps hoped for, largely because the plot feels a lot like Lockdown 1.0 and there isn’t enough originality to inspire the public this time round, but also because they’ve shut all the cinemas so we can’t actually go and see it.

Some notable changes from Lockdown 1.0 have included more people and businesses being fined as more people resist the restrictions, with at least a couple of gyms refusing to shut their doors.

Meanwhile students in Manchester tore down fences that were put up overnight in an apparent effort to cage them in. I can’t help but think that this could be a clue from the writers that student uprisings could be more of a plot focus on coming episodes.

Rishi, possibly in an attempt to redeem himself extended furlough until March – which largely just made a lot of people suspect we are going to be stuck in lockdown until then. The big Christmas finale to series 12 is starting to look a little doubtful.

The big focus of series 11 so far though has been the U.S elections. Despite the fact that many British people couldn’t explain our own political system we’ve all become experts on the American voting system (which appears quite frankly bonkers) in the last few days.

Unlike the UK the votes aren’t counted as quickly as possible in a church or school hall with results announced within hours of polling stations closing (largely because step aerobics will start at 10am the next day whether that counting is complete or not). There are no people dressed as a panda or other random character standing on a stage as the results are called out and we don’t take to the street with weapons claiming fraud because our team is losing.

Trump, a long standing comedy character, has performed predictably well, portraying a narcissistic crazy man with startling accuracy. You know it’s bad when news channels cut away from a live statement during an election stating that everything he says is absolute bollocks.

In the latest episode we see Biden win the presidency meaning we can look forward to lots of crazy Tweets from Trump, a legal battle, possibly the first every squater in the White House as Trump refuses to leave office.

Series 11 looks like it could be a surprising series with more twists than we expected.

Lockdown 2: Return of the Lockdown

Series 11 of 2020 kicked off today picking up where series ten’s cliff hanger left off.

BoJo had just announced that we must act now and have a second lockdown.

So we are acting now by waiting until Thursday.

This means you are safe to go out for food or to the gym tomorrow but on Thursday those things become far too risky.

The Government absolutely could not afford to pay 80% of the wages of those whose places of work are forced to close last week, when it was just the North affected, but now the South is going to also be closed they have found a bit of spare change down the back of the sofa and furlough at 80% is back.

It’s absolutely only until 2nd December, except Gove (not a new character, just one so bad we try to avoid thinking about him unless we can avoid it) has let slip that that’s probably another one of those lie things that Boris is so keen on.

So we now get ready for the premiere of Lockdown 2 ‘Return of the Lockdown’ on Thursday. Hopes are not high for another box office hit to honest.

Goals

Do you know what I think we are all guilty of sometimes?  Not being clear enough on our fitness goals.

By this I don’t mean training without a specific goal.  I mean having a goal but not being clear on what that goal means and what you can expect from it

For instance – do you want to train for performance?  This might also lead to you being able to reach an aestetic goal at the same time, but at other times training to reach a performance goal may mean you cannot also attain to or maintain a certain size / weight.  You need to eat adequately to assist your training and this in turn could also affect your physique.  Aspiring to both drastically change your shape and also hit a physical peak could lead to frustrating disapoitnment in yourself (equally trying to become a body builder and a marathon runner at the same time will probably end in tears).

Do you want to lose weight / get leaner / whatever you want to call it?  Realistically to do this you need to eat less and move more.  This might not be compatible with also aiming for a specific training goal, like lifting more, if you are drastically limiting your energy intake.  Have you ever tried going harder in training sessions when you’re also eating less than normal?  It’s not massive amounts of fun.

I have long said about myself that my training goal is largely mindset orienated.  I train to feel good, it helps my mental health and acts as an anchor.  Equally I enjoy eating and try not to be restrictive with my diet.  For this I also have to accept that I’m not going to be super lean or be breaking any training records any time soon.  Training has a point and that’s to kee me fit, healthy and to make me feel good.  I can quite happily stick to light weights and not feel bad about myself. 

If I wanted to change that, lose some weight or improve the amount I lift I’d also have to seriously reconsider how I approach my diet and how I train.  I’ve done that before and it can, I’ve found, have a negeative effect on my mindset and how I feel about training.  In trying to focus on multiple things it has a negative impact on the thing most important to me.

Essentially, we need to be aware that we can’t do everything.  Of course, there will be knock on effects, you may well find that as you train for an event or to hit a certain PB you also find your body changes and you’re really pleased with that.  But if you’re goal is one specific thing try honestly focusing on that one thing – not getting distracted by trying to do everything at once.       

Laying the Foundations

When people want to make changes to their diet in order to lose or even gain weight they are often tempted to focus on supplements and shakes, when they eat certain food groups or even food at all and their very specific macro splits.

I get why this is the case – it’s really tempting for us to think that making a small change to meal timings or taking a tablet / shake and keeping the rest of our diet and routine the same is the ideal. Maximum results for minimal change.

In reality however what people are doing when they do this is focusing on the top end of the nutrition pyramid without building a solid foundation.

The foundation of your pyramid needs to be your calorie intake. You can take the right supplements, drink enough water, eat at the best times but if you’re eating too much or too little you won’t achieve your desired results. You need to eat enough to have the energy to be as active as you need to be whilst also not finding yourself in a surplus (unless you want to gain weight) and hitting a deficit if you’re goal is to lose. How you do this to begin with is almost irrelevant. If you eat nothing but chocolate but burn more calories than you’ve consumed over time you will lose weight. You won’t be getting a good range of nutrients, you’ll probably be tired and hungry but you would lose weight.

Only once you get your calorie intake right for your goal is it worthwhile starting to look further up the pyramid. How much of your calories comes from protein, carbs and fat; your micro nutrients; when you do and don’t eat and what you eat at that times and what supplements you add to your day all have their part to play in how you feel and how you perform, but they will not provide you with effective results if you have not first got your calorie foundation firmly in place.

We are bombarded daily with adverts for teas, and pills and other ‘magic’ potions; with ideas of when our body best burns calories and other tricks that will help us magically lose weight. These are of course attractive because we all want to get results fast and effectively, but nailing the basics and making them habit is ultimately the most effective (and dare I say cheapest) way of getting results.

A Neat National Fitness Day

Last Wednesday was National Fitness Day. This is a day where to be honest, people who exercise anyway post about the exercise they’ve done and gyms perhaps use it for promotion purposes. Does it actually make people exercise who wouldn’t normally though?

One thing Lockdown highlighted however is, as vital as exercise is for physical and mental health, your non exercise activity is also important for achieving results.

During lockdown I did some form of exercise most days. What also happened however is my step count reduced dramatically. From walking everywhere everyday I went to not really walking anywhere (lets face it we couldn’t actually go anywhere). The reduction in steps had a dramatic effect on my body even though I was still training in some form or another- fact is I just wasn’t burning as many calories a day because overall, away from exercise, I was moving less.

When we want to lose weight we generally think the most important thing to do is to do more exercise. Adding training of some form into your life is of course incredibly beneficial, but equally it can feel daunting and it can also take a while to create this type of habit. The quickest and easiest thing anyone looking to reduce body weight (lose weight) aside creating a calorie deficit is to just move more.

Going out for a walk at lunch time, making part of your commute a walk, walking whilst on the phone – all those little bits of extra movement make a far greater impact on your results than you think they will. When you think about it- an hour of planned exercise a day is 1/24 of your day, so what you do in the other 96% of your day can make all the difference.

So if you missed National Fitness Day that doesn’t really matter, same if you missed the gym today- just move a bit more each day as a starting point.