Christmas Eve Eve

Christmas Eve Eve.

Officially now the time when all food consumed, bar a bit of a roast on Christmas Day, is chocolate based.

Train if you want to train, eat a vegetable or two if you fancy. Or don’t.

There will be lots of posts from people like me after Christmas about how to get your fitness goals on track but let’s face it, after the last twelve months, we all deserve to celebrate as we see fit.

And if anyone tells you otherwise just make sure there’s some wine and cheese to and and tell them you’re in a business meeting.

Technicalities

Whilst primarily a fitness based blog I occasionally can’t help but comment on what’s in the news and have been watching the slew of Tory leaders / figures / Government aides breaking Lockdown rules stories with interest.

I don’t really care if within the bounds of technicalities none of these parties broke the Lockdown rules of the time. I don’t really care if that cheese and wine in Downing Street garden was a work meeting that technically did not break Lockdown rules.

Whether they were within the letter of the law or not they undoubtedly were not within the spirit of the rules.

Back in the March – May lockdown period last year, when people were fretting about taking a two hour walk instead of one hour, missing funerals (I missed my nans funeral because of these rules), trying to limit supermarket shops to once a week and getting guilt tripped about going to a shop to buy Easter Eggs because they were not ‘essential’ people were encouraged not just to follow the rules but also not to look for loop holes.

You know, those very loop holes the Government are now using to defend their actions. Because coming out with the truth and saying,

‘Look, guys, the fact is those rules were for you, not us.’

just isn’t good PR.

In fitness, one thing we learn is to lead by example. You can’t tell people one thing and not live by those same principles, because then people won’t respect what you say, and rightly so.

And so here we are. You told us we had to make sacrifices to save lives and by and large people did, except you lot. Which means going forward when you tell us we have to do thing to save the NHS people will regard you as someone akin to selling skinny tea. In fact I’d probably trust the person selling skinny tea more.

Should you train over Christmas?

Should you train over Christmas?

It’s really up to you. One the one hand if you want to take a break, relax and do nothing that’s perfectly fine. Equally if sticking to your training exactly makes you feel better there’s absolutely no reason you should feel bad about still training on Christmas. You just don’t want to get to the point where you are running a half marathon on Christmas Day because you feel like you should.

This is the thing about training on holiday / over Christmas / during celebrations. There’s a difference between doing it because moving makes you feel good and doing it because not doing it will make you feel guilty. I personally will do something over Christmas, I genuinely enjoy a little 20 minute run on Christmas morning, it sets me up for the day and the fresh air and movement just makes me feel good. I’ll probably go to the gym on Boxing Day or the day after, again because it’s my favourite time to train, I’m not in a rush to get somewhere else so can really focus.

I think that’s the sign that you train in a way you like. If the thing you normally so in the gym feel like a punishment that you deserve a holiday from maybe it is time to try some new things and do something that makes you feel good, you enjoy, you actually kind of want to do, even if you occasionally have to drag yourself to it initially.

Even then if you want to take a break over the holidays do it. See training as a complimentary thing in your life.

Fitness Business Tips

Bit of a different blog today – I send out emails occasionally regarding running a fitness business – here’s today’s email about planning for the next 12 months and some things to think about …

I think for plenty of people in fitness, 2020 and 2021 have been a bit all over the place business wise.  Gym closures and changes to capacity, people’s training habits and general uncertainty have led to changes for almost all of us, some dramatic, some less so, some positive, some maybe not.

The new year is a great time to look forward with your business though, make changes, fine tune things, start new projects.

So here’s my practical tips for 2022 which I hope might help some of you as you hopefully take some time to review your plans for the next 12 months:

  • The goal of business is not to make a loss just to not pay tax.  Buying things for your business you need will of course reduce your profit thus your tax bill, but buying things for your business for the specific sake of reducing your tax bill (as many people often seem to do) is a false economy as all you’re doing is recuing your profits by buying things you don’t actually need.
  • Instead look for ways to increase your actual profits so you’re happy with your income after paying tax.  This of course is done by selling more of your product but you can also do this by reducing outgoings smartly.  For instance,  are you a group ex instructor or PT as a second job?  See if you can volunteer to be a first aider for your workplace meaning you don’t have to pay for your own First Aid training.
  • In terms of increasing your business do you have lead generators set up?  If not this is the year to sort that.  Do you have a mailing list to keep in touch with people (if they leave your gym, can’t come to class and so on)?  Do you advertise on Instagram but only to your current contacts without thinking about reaching out to your potential customers via paid or unpaid options?  Have you established enough of a brand that potential customers feel you are the fitness professional they want to trust?  Do you need advice on how to do these things?  If you do maybe this is the year to look into this, because being a great coach is only part of running a self employed business.
  • On that point though, are you still being a great coach or instructor?   Especially over the last couple of years as client’s needs and situations have changed it’s important to check that we are still offering the best service for clients.  Lead generating is important but ultimately retaining clients and getting referrals is the best way to make a decent profit, so now is a great time to check that you’re still offering what your current clients need.  Refine your products, check they are clear in what they offer and that you are delivering it.  If your clients are getting what they are paying for they will a) stay b) recommend you.
  • Develop a plan for growth.  Do you want to scale your business in the next few years?  Use 2022 to start planning how.  In the meantime though coach your clients with the model you currently have with 100% commitment.  Ambition is important but so is staying focussed on the present at the same time because we can’t build on our current foundations of clients if we provide a poor service whilst developing bigger plans in the background.
  • If you’re working and developing a business in the background accept you’re going to have to be tired for a while and put in a lot of hours to get to where you want to be.  Your ambition may be to reach that perfect work life balance but the hard truth is that whilst you work to get your business to the point where you can work the 4 day week or work anywhere in the world you will actually have less ‘you’ time.  Take care of yourself to avoid burn out but if you start providing a rubbish service because your tired after work you won’t retain clients and struggle to build up the business. For now make sure what you offer to clients is realistic for what you can do with the time you have.  A smaller client base or smaller product offered really well is going to be better for your business than an all ‘singing all dancing but never quite reaches the standards you sell it as’ one.  That way you are less likely to be miserable and more likely to grow.  

I hope these are useful when you sit down and think about your plans for the next 12 months.  I know they are all things I’m considering as I do this personally.

You can sign up to receive more tips in 2022 here… MAILING LIST SIGN UP

Advent Calendars

I may have just opened 13 windows of my advent calandar in one go.

I only got given it today (Covid has a lot to answer for).

I was going to open 2 windows a day.

Then I sat and opened all 13.

At this time of year you can exercise control or you can accept that you will eat more and probably move a little less. 

And that’s ok because we want to look after our bodies to be able to live, not live to train and diet.

If you want to stay strict and controlled this month do, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for that.  But if you don’t that is also ok.  You don’t have to go crazy in either direction, but if you want to, then eat all the advent calendar chocolates!

Best Christmas Fitness Tip

What’s the best fitness tip I can offer for the Christmas period?  If you were to think about nothing else related to your diet or training across December.  Something hat would make you feel better.

Hydrate!

Staying hydrated all year is important but as December festivities commence we often drink more alcohol, more Christmas Coffees and as a result end up drinking less water.

Yet because of the increase in alcohol very often more water is exactly what we need.

So if your training goes out the window.

If everything you eat is Christmas food related.

Still try and drink plenty of water each day.

It will make you feel better if you have a hangover, be it foor or alcohol related. 

How much water – aim for around your weight in kg x 0.033.

So if you weigh 80kg that’s 80x 0.033 = 2.64 litre.  So between 2.5-3 litres a day.

If you exercise for an hour try and an extra 0.5 litre.  If you’re hungover maybe try and increase a bit too.

1 pint glass of water is about 0.5 litre.

Keep things simple whilst your busy over Christmas and aim for small wins.

How Strict Should You Be Over Christmas?

How strict should you be with your diet over Christmas?

A question that is asked every year again and again and will always garner some varying answers. Some will argue you should continue to track, offer ideas for damage limitation. Others will be aghast at this and say this is extreme and Christmas should be enjoyed.

Now let’s be honest here.

If you are happy where you at, are not working to lose weight or towards any specific goal and want to binge eat mince pies from 1st December then go for it.

If you are trying to work towards a goal however that mindset is likely to leave you feeling a little crap by January. What might be a more balanced approach is to decide in your mind when Christmas actually is. Because Christmas is really the days between, say, 24th- 26th December maybe even 24th- 31st December. The rest of December is the Festive season sure, but not actually Christmas.

So a strategy of:

  • Not tracking at all and eating whatever you like between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (or New Years Day)
  • But tracking for the rest of December so you are aware of what you’re eating
  • Yet also being aware that you might not hit a deficit or even maintenance every week because you’re still going to be going to events and celebrating with friends
  • But being aware that by tracking you probably won’t go madly off track every single day and you’ll feel in control which in itself can stop you from going on a mad binge
  • When you do go out you can then chose whether you just eat whatever you want or if you decide to follow damage limitation strategies (not depriving yourself but substituting full fat mixers for diet, having a small wine instead of a large, lining your stomach or pace yourself so you’re less likely to eat a kebab shop on the way home and so on).

The upshot is in December if you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there are 93 meals. If you eat whatever you want between 24th- 31st December that’s 24 meals. That’s 25% of your month. If you are sensible (not strict just not a dick) for 75% of the month to be honest you’ll start 2022 feeing pretty good.

So how strict should you be over Christmas- the answer is not strict at all but Christmas isn’t 31 days long unless you want it to be!

Do Fad Diets Exist?

I was having a chat about Sliming World today. If you’ve read or listened to any of my content before you’ll know I have both positive and negative views about the club.

Essentially, my view is, that in it’s true form it’s not a bad way to eat. It encourages making food from scratch, eating from multiple food groups ad eating processed foods in limitation. It’s also pretty balanced so you could eat like that well beyond losing weight.

What it doesn’t do is educate you as to why it works, leaving you in a catch 22 where if you leave and stop eating ‘to plan’ you may well put the weight back on. It doesn’t educate you you enough to provide the freedom to maintain weight loss without still subscribing to ‘the plan’. Life changes and if you understand the energy balance equation you can adjust your eating and training habits as life changes and still get results. If you are simply following a plan with no idea of how and why it works, adjusting it as your life changes is difficult and that’s when a way of eating becomes unsustainable.

What might be a suitable way of eating for one person could be a ‘faddy’ way of eating for someone else. By that I mean, if you are using a way of eating (let’s say Intermittent Fasting) as a way of managing your food intake and you understand how and why it works for you then if it becomes unpractical to fast you will likely have the knowledge to adjust how / what / when you eat to a way that better suits but still works. If you are IM Fasting because someone gave you a set of rules (which work but why you’re less sure) what do you do if following those rules no longer suits you?

So essentially, I’d argue, there aren’t bad and good ‘diets’/ ways of eating. It isn’t that Slimming World is evil and tracking in MFP is the way forward for everyone. It’s a case that without knowledge of why something is working almost any way of eating could be viewed a fad.

Running and Snow

It may have escaped your attention but in many parts of the UK currently it’s pretty snowy.

Snow and ice is all well and good but if you’ve got running goals to work towards it can be a right pain in the bum. I personally have 50km left to complete before 31st December as part of a running challenge so not being able to run for multiple days is not ideal.

But the good news is you can run in snow and ice with a few adaptions and some preparation:

  1. Be prepared to adjust your route. Think about staying closer to home so if conditions change you can get back easily. Also consider finding a park or some roads that have been cleared and completing loops – boring yes but you’ll get a clearer run and if you complete laps you’ll get used to where is safe and where is slippy pretty quickly. If you lie near a gold course these are often used for sledging on snowy days (no golf) and can be good run routes too – less likely to slip on grass!
  2. Forget a PB. You’ll need to take it a bit slower, shorter stride, keep and eye out for ice patches. Focus on getting a run in instead of stats, and maybe consider reducing the mileage a bit. It might be slower but it can actually feel like hard work running in icy conditions so think of it as a different type of run, you might find you ache in different places to normal.
  3. If the snow is deep you’re less likely to slip but you’ll need to think about lifting the knees higher. It will slow you down and might make your running feel less efficient but think of it as a different type of workout. Bit like running on sand.
  4. Dress for the weather. Layers, long sleeve running tops, hats, gloves. Especially as you might be going a bit slower make sure you are warm. Of course you’ll warm up once you start moving but don’t go out in shorts and a vest! Pick the most appropriate shoes you have. Running spikes / grippers if you’ve got them would be ideal as would fell running shoes but in this country many of us won’t have spikes to hand and unless you’re a running buff likely you won’t have specific fell shoes, so trail shoes might be the next best option – something with a bit of grip! Oh, and good socks – believe me, they make the difference.
  5. Be prepared. Have your phone and cash / cards. If you slip and hurt yourself in bad weather or it suddenly worsens you’ll thank yourself. Oh and take a bloody headtorch if you’re out in the afternoon. Me and a friend went for a run the other afternoon and it went from day to pitch black in minutes- hard enough running when you can’t see normally, add in ice and ouch!
  6. Walk when you find icy patches. Turn your route into a walk / run if need be. Much better than being out for months with a broken leg.
  7. Accept you might fall over though – just don’t go hell for leather across ice and make it inevitable!
  8. Enjoy the view. Things are prettier in the snow, take time to look instead of just bombing round. It can make a run feel so much more pleasant and counteract the I hate running in these conditions feelings.
  9. If outdoor running in this weather really isn’t for you switch to a treadmill. If like me you hate treadmills with a passion try a spin class or the rower and think of it as a bit of enforced cross training.

Black Friday

Black Friday deals. A bit like the January sales, it’s only a bargain if you actually needed (or wanted it) it anyway.

Your fitness and diet regieme is a bit like that too.

A transformational plan is only transformational if it is aligned with your goals. Your goals are only really attainable if they genuinely suit your lifestyle and personality. By that I mean if you’re trying to lose weight because you think you should be a size 10, but really are pretty happy being a size 14 other than that nagging thing in your brain that tells you there’s such a thing as your ideal weight; then you’re likely to keep tripping at every hurdle, because not sticking to your plan is always going to become more appealing whenever your tempted.

A great offer on a training plan, a magical supplement, a plan everyone else is raving about is all well and good. But if it doesn’t actually suit you. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, or isn’t designed to get the results you actually want, it’s still not worth the money.

That doesn’t mean that plan, trainer, product is rubbish. There are lots of really great products out there that just wouldn’t suit me but I’d happily recommend to others.

Just like buying a dress that really doesn’t suit you in the sale because it’s 75% off isn’t a good deal, signing up for a diet or training plan when it’s cheap isn’t going to be successful unless it actually aligns with your life, goals and is designed to do what you actually want.

Just a little something to think about as the Black Friday / January sales start to hit the inboxes.