Jump 4.2 – Week 2

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!

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 Measure Fitness Success … That Aren’t Connected To Your Weight

Because the scales don’t tell the full story.  If you only judge success by that number going up or down you could end up unmotivated and losing momentum.  I’ve been 10 stone and a size 12, now I’m 13.5 stone and a size 12 , proof that your weight doesn’t tell the full story…

  1. Progress Photos – Take monthly photos of yourself in the same clothes to compare / track changes in your body shape and size.
  2. Take Measurements – Take measurements of your waist, chest, arms and legs every month to keep track of inches lost.
  3. Body composition – Rather than weight and depending on what facilities you have available you could track body fat / muscle composition. Remember these machines are a lot like scales and the method they use for calculating data is not accurate but they could illustrate trends of body fat reducing / muscle increasing which indicate progress.
  4. The Jeans Test – Find a pair of jeans (or any trousers) that currently just about fit. Try them on at regular intervals and note the changes in how they fit – as you reduce body fat they should become looser (note this doesn’t always work as you may find you get leaner but your body shape changes and jeans fitting in general becomes a problem!)
  5. Testings / Tracking Data – So far I’ve focussed on the physical appearance and getting smaller. How about getting FITTER?  Record your current scores on a few key exercises (make them ones you do so if you weight train your scores for 5×5 deadlift / 5×5 squat / 5 x 5 overhead press, if you’re a runner your time for a 2km run and so on- make them relevant).  Every 6-8 weeks do these tests again and look for improvements – have you got faster, can you lift heavier, did it feel easier?
  6. Train for an Event – Pick something that you couldn’t currently do (or it would be a massive challenge) e.g. Run a 10k race. Sign up for that event and train towards it.  You complete it then you know you’ve improved your fitness levels.
  7. Have a Health MOT – If you’re a member of a gym like Nuffield (others offer similar too) you may have access to free health checks. Here they will check and record various health indicators.  You can normally get one once every few months and they can be a good indicator of improvement are a few visits.
  8. Keep a Habit Diary – Log what you’ve done for your fitness has your nutrition been good, did you train, what other positive health choices have you made? This is a great indication over time of the habits you have created and positive changes made. Fitness isn’t merely fat loss and PBs, it’s about creating a positive, happy and sustainably healthy you.
  9. Take note of everyday activity levels – How hard is it to currently climb the stairs at work instead of taking the lift? Or run for the bus?  Or walk to the shops?  Make a note and then compare how those tasks feel after a month of two of training, then in 6 months, again in twelve.  If every day activities get easier you know you’re getting fitter.
  10. Listen to compliments – Have people started commenting on how good you look or how well you’re doing in class? These compliments are a good indication that changes are happening!

Things I’ve Learnt – Re-Blog

I wrote this six months ago- all still remarkably true and relevant.

  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 over training 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 back burner.

  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.

Three Reasons to Ditch the Scales

1) Your weight fluctuates. A lot.

The time of day, time of the month, how much water you have drunk, how much alcohol you have drunk, when you last had a poo, your hormones.  They will all affect the number on the scale so it’s not the most effective way to track your progress and using weighing yourself alone can be inaccurate and disheartening.

2) A number on the scales won’t make you happy.

Being comfortable in your body won’t automatically happen when you hit a certain number on the scales.  Everybody has some body hand ups regardless of their weight or size. Focusing on feeling strong and healthy will help you feel more positive about yourself in a way a number can’t and help prevent an all or nothing kind of outlook on your fitness journey, where how well you week went depends on one number.

3) Your weight isn’t an indication of your health or fitness level.

Have you ever seen one of those line ups of several women who all weight 60kg.  You could weight the same as someone else and have a totally different body shape.  Someone who is a size 10 could weigh the same as someone who wears a size 14.  Height, muscle, body type – how we ‘wear’ a certain weight is different from person to person, and, unless you are medically obese, how fit or healthy you are has little to do with the number on the scale.

Just a note – muscle doesn’t weight more than fat.  A pound of muscle weights a pound and a pound of fat weighs a pound.  However muscle is less dense, so if you reduce body fat and build muscle you might not weigh less but you will look leaner.

 

Good vs. Bad Foods and the Calorie Deficit

If you’ve read my last few blog posts you will by now know that to lose body fat you need to hit a calorie deficit of around 20% by either reducing your calories in increasing your calories out or a mixture of both.

So, where does the notion of healthy and unhealthy foods come from?  If you only need to eat a certain number of calories a day to get results can those calories come from anything at all?

As with most things there are simplistic and less simplistic answers to the this.

Simple answer. Yes.

If you are currently overweight with a diet full of processed foods and you do very little activity then simply reducing the number of calories you consume and creating a deficit will work.  How you make up those calories at this point isn’t really relevant.

Yet once you get used to eating in a calorie deficit and perhaps exercising regularly perhaps you will want to start looking at what you eat to make up those calories.

BUT.

This is because there are lots of benefits of eating less processed food.

This ISN’T because the calories in a banana are different or better than the calories in a KitKat (in fact the calories in a two finger KitKat are roughly the same as a large banana).

So a 1,000 calories of burger, chips and cake is the same as a 1,000 calories of chicken, salad and fruit but you might feel better eating more of the later as part of that 1,000 calories.

The thing is (and this makes me sad because I’m quite partial to junk food generally) eating more unprocessed foods can mean:

  • You have better energy levels and fewer slumps throughout the day
  • You feel less fatigued / bloated after meals
  • You can eat bigger meals (500 calories of chicken and veg tends to be a bigger portion than 500 calories worth of cake)
  • You feel more satisfied after meals
  • Your body composition can change for the better (and remember t’s not all about weight – it’s about how you feel overall)

So …

I’m not advocating living off McDonalds to get that calorie deficit.

I am saying you don’t need to eat ‘clean’ to do it.

You just need to be sensible.  If you eat less junk food you will probably feel better and notice positive changes.  If some of your calories come from processed food though it isn’t the end of the world.

Note, I’ve not even mentioned Macros here.  For some tracking their Macro splits is useful, necessary even – but if you are reading this and thinking about simply switching from ready meals to home cooked food, it’s not the stage where you really need to worry about this.

Ultimately – If you currently live of takeaways then drastically changing that isn’t likely to be sustainable.  Reducing the portion sizes (and so the calories) is more manageable.  Once that’s a habit you can start to make more changes and look at swapping some of the takeaways out.

Small sensible changes that fit into your life will always work better than drastic ‘eat clean’ diets.  Who wants to never have the foods they enjoy!

Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit – Part Four- Count Calories

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.

Calorie Counting.

Obvious really.

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.

Any foods.

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.