January – Day 16/31

Time for a reality check!

How are you doing with the plan? Are you seeing changes? Are you making changes? Well, if you’re doing it properly, you should be and here’s the hardest fact – if you’re not then you have no one to blame but yourself.

Brutal? Maybe.

Necessary? Absolutely!

The thing is, when it comes to weight loss, I am giving you ALL of the tools here. I have given you the baby steps to put together to create your ideal lifestyle so that you can easily lose weight at the same time as living. If you are not prepared to use these tools properly then you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

Lets recap the things that you should be doing:

  1. Are you drinking enough water?
  2. Have you worked out your daily calorie allowance?
  3. Are you tracking your daily calorie intake via My Fitness Pal?
  4. Are you tracking your daily calorie intake accurately by measuring all of your food?
  5. Are you hitting your daily step goal?
  6. Are you using the 80:20 rule to avoid binge behaviour?
  7. Are you hitting your daily protein goal?
  8. Are you hitting your daily fibre goal?
  9. Are you planning out your meals in advance?
  10. Are you planning out your exercise sessions in advance?
  11. Are you achieving 5 x 30 minute exercise sessions a week?
  12. Are you doing activities which help you relax?
  13. Are you working on your sleep habits?
  14. Are you being honest with yourself?

If you want to see a difference, like really, truly, honestly want to see a change in yourself the you will already be doing all of the above and have taken responsibility for your actions. If you haven’t made the changes then you need to either accept that you want to be unfit, unhealthy and unhappy OR decide that enough is enough and now is time to put the effort in.

No one can do this for you.

No one will do it for you.

People will question what you are doing.

But once you hit your goal – PEOPLE WILL WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU DID IT!

January – Day 15/31

Good morning, how are we all doing with the plan? If you’re following the rules that you should be starting to notice a difference!

Today I want to touch on eating out. I know, I know, it’s the middle of the longest pay month of the year and it’s not really something you’re thinking about but chances are you’ll be out for a meal somewhere in the not too distant future. Here’s a few hints and tips to see you through these occasions without ransacking all of your efforts towards eating better and losing weight:

  1. Plan Ahead – Know where you’re going? Check out their menu ahead of time and choose what you are going to order. This can help in one of two ways – first off, you can then plan the rest of that day’s meals and activities around what you have chosen for your meal out making sure that you hit your calorie and protein goals for the day. Other than this great planning technique it can also help you make a better food choice to look at the menu prior to going out for the meal and selecting what you’re going to have based on WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS PROGRAM SO FAR:
  2. Choose the higher protein content meals and have them with salad or vegetables instead of chips. This is a great example of how to make the most of eating out AND eating well. It also means a sneaky starter or dessert could be included in there to work with that 80:20 rule!
  3. Be aware of what you are drinking. Choose diet soft drinks or water if you can. Going for alcohol? Check the calorie content out and make sensible choices, again go for a diet mixer for your spirits. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
  4. Bypass the bread basket. It’s not necessary, it’s just [white] bread.
  5. Don’t over eat just because you are eating out. Feeling satisfied? Stop eating. It takes your brain a good 15 minutes to establish that the stomach is full. Eat slowly and mindfully and stop before you feel uncomfortable.
  6. Be prepared to see a little increase on the scales the following day. You know you’ve eaten more carbs, more processed items or more sodium (salt) than you’re used to so you should also know that your body will be clinging on to more water; the scales may well show this.
  7. Prepare for your meal out (and follow up). Make sure to drink additional water through the day before you go to eat out and when you get home afterwards. More hydration means less retention. Make sure you’ve done your steps and a 30 minute exercise session.
  8. Enjoy eating out. most importantly, enjoy your meal, enjoy that someone else is cooking for you and doing the dishes. Savour your choices and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY for anything that you have. Just make sure you’re accountable.

The 80:20 rule can be your best friend in an eating out situation and, as much as I don’t really condone it, if you are looking at a big evening out (meal and drinks for example) that’s going to cost you a lot in calories, make sure to have some damage limitation – save some calories from the days running up to your night out. Say you’re on 1700 calories a day, drop it to 1500 calories a day for the 3 days prior to going out (saving 600 calories which you can then use) and then use minimal calories through the day before you go out.

There we go, a quick set of tips for eating out without ruining all your hard work!

January – Day 14/31

The difference between nutrient dense and nutrient “empty” foods.

I’m pretty sure you will have heard somewhere down the line someone say something along the lines of “You’re just eating empty calories” but do you know what they actually meant by it? Did they know what they meant?

All foods contain marco-nutrients which we spoke about in Day 6 – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, in varying proportions. Not all foods contain micro-nutrients.

A micro-nutrient is a chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms. Think vitamins and minerals.

Generally speaking we, as humans, cannot produce vitamins and minerals and so we must obtain them from plant and animal sources. When you eat you consume the vitamins that plants and animals have created and minerals they have absorbed. The micro-nutrient content of each food is different. By eating a variety of foods you are increasing the number of different micro-nutrients available to your body.

So, this should give you a good idea of where we are going with what is considered nutrient dense and what is not….

Let’s start with nutrient dense foods – non-processed plant and animal products/food stuffs in their more natural state. Think organic fruit and veg, fresh butchered meats, fresh fish, whole grains, pulses and legumes and so on.

The “empty” calorie, low nutrient density foods are things that are highly processed and very refined. Think white sugar and bread, highly processed foods, long-life foods etc. Fast food, junk food and so on. They are generally high calorie foods.

Why is this important?

Your body needs a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in order to function properly, here’s a list of just some of them and what they do:

By eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods (like the ones listed above) you create satiety – feeling well fed, not lacking in anything. IF you are eating a whole load of empty food you are taking in all the calories without giving the body what it actually needs, you get hungry again because the body is trying to get what it needs and then you are over-eating and putting on weight, not to mention the risks of feeling wick because your body hasn’t got the fuel it needs to function correctly.

This is why we have the 80:20 rule. By eating well 80% of the time you will more than likely be hitting all of the macro and micro-nutrient needs of your body. Giving you 20% of you calories to the stuff you like; the “empty” calories, or the shit that we all enjoy basically.

January – Day 13/31

Just a quick one today – Monitoring weight loss.

If you can, try to weigh yourself every day, at the same time, in the buff, before you have eaten or drank anything and after your morning wee. Log your weight each day. IT WILL GO UP AND DOWN! At the end of the week add all your weigh ins from the week together and divide by 7 – this will give you your average weight loss for the week.

There are so many factors that can influence how much you weigh each day that you need to understand weight loss is not a straight forward linear process. You will see an overall downward trend over time but it will have little fluctuations here and there which is TOTALLY NORMAL.

Things like how many carbs you have eaten, the type of carbs you have eaten, the workouts you have done, how hydrated you are, time of the month (ladies), are just a few of the things that can make your weight loss appear slightly distorted.

If you were to look at weight loss in graph form, it should look like the following:

If you’re being consistent with your calorie, protein and step goals you will see the scales go down. If you’re not then you’re doing something wrong. You have to accept and own this fact – calorie deficit is law.

January – Day 12/31

It’s the weekend!!! What are you doing?

Serious question, how do you spend your weekends? Do you have a million things to do? Do you work? Do you take time out for yourself?

As well as getting fit and healthy and looking at weight loss, I think it’s important to look at ourselves as a whole. We are not the number on the scales or the size of our clothes. We are not the job we have, nor are we the clothes that we were. We are more than numbers and stats. We are our passions and our goals and we need to remember to make time for these things.

Without passion, love and fun, what do we have? I would say, not a particularly fulfilling life. We need to tend to our passions and nurture the things that are important to us, these things help us to keep a healthy state of mind and look after our well-being.

Little challenge for today: I know many people lose their way with their own passions, hobbies, pass times etc. I want you to reconnect. What do you love to do that has been pushed to the bottom of the priority list? What did you used to enjoy doing that brought you relaxation and satisfaction?

Write a list.

Write it down. All the things you used to enjoy doing that were YOUR interests, and write down all the things you would LIKE to do that are YOUR interests. From this list, choose one activity that you can do today – even if just for 5 or 10 minutes – and go and do it. Don’t find an excuse not to do it, make a point of going and doing it JUST FOR YOU.

These are some of the go to things I always thing of when I think of getting some “down time” or “interest time” in:

  • Photography – I love nothing more than getting out into the fresh air with a camera and seeing the beauty there is all around.
  • Read a book – getting lost in a good book can take you are far away from your everyday life as you can get.
  • Draw or colour – get creative, let your artistic side out.
  • Play video games – again something to get lost in.
  • Do a puzzle – get your mind exercise in with sudoku or a crossword, try a jigsaw or a mind challenge game.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Make something – bake, craft etc.
  • Spa time – so this one might take a little more planning, and might be more of a treat than some of the others but hey, of you can do it, go for it.
  • Coffee at your favourite cafe – I love to do this on my own and just sit and watch the world go by (I very much enjoy time on my own so anything like this is a big win for me).

The list of things you can do is pretty much endless, as long as it something that you enjoy doing, that you feel good about doing, and that makes you feel better once you have indulged in it a little then it sounds like you’re on the right track. Different activities for different people and all that, it has to fit you.

Try and get some of this enjoyment time in as often as possible. Like I said above, even if it’s just 10 minutes that you can fit in, it’s better than nothing and you know you have done something that is just for you. You may feel guilty at first but please try not to, there is nothing to feel guilty about. By looking after yourself and your own needs you become more chilled and able to cope with the stresses and strains that come with life.

Look after you first, you can’t pour from and empty cup.

January – Day 10/31

Good Morning! How is everyone getting on?

I want to have a look at exercise today and what the best exercise is for fat loss…

So, where are you right now? Are you brand new to exercise, never done it before and don’t know where to get started? Have you tried a few classes back in the day but not dipped your toe in the water for years? Does the thought of the gym terrify you? Have you done it all before but somehow fallen out of the habit?

Whatever your starting point – don’t worry. I promise you that this is not going to be a post all about how you must do X, Y, and Z each week. How you MUST attend the gym and how there are MUST do exercises to get you burning the most fat possible. That’s not what we’re about.

Remember when I said that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to your weight loss, fat loss and your habit change – the same goes for your exercise.

There is only ONE hard and fast rule to finding the nest exercise – finding the exercise that is right for YOU!

If you hate the idea of stepping foot in the gym and dread it even before you’ve left the house, guess what? Chances are you ARE NOT GOING TO STICK TO IT! What we need to do is take a look at where we are now, where we would like to be and work out what we do and do not enjoy. There are soooo many options to getting more active, the gym is definitely not the be all and end all. Here are some ideas of things you could do to start getting more active on a regular basis:

  • Walking
  • Power walking
  • Jogging / running
  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Body Pump
  • Spinning
  • YouTube Fitness Videos
  • Fitness Subscription Services (I write a personalised exercise program for clients)
  • Weight Lifting (this doesn’t mean getting hench. Ladies you WILL NOT get “bulky”)
  • Cross-fit
  • Functional Training
  • Swimming
  • Body-weight Training
  • Home Workout DVDs
  • Boxing
  • Karate
  • Thai Chi

There’s more than this but this just gives you an idea of some of the things you could try. You want to aim to do around 30 minutes designated exercise per day, 4-5 days per week.

Now, if all you’re going off are the numbers on the scales then this could affect those – if you start to exercise and all of a sudden you are increasing your muscle mass then the numbers may not change, or may very much slow down in terms of loss. What you should focus on at this point onward are your measurements and before and after photos.

If you have one pound of fat and one pound of muscle sitting side by side, you will see how compact and dense muscle is in comparison to fat. As long as you are sticking to your calorie deficit you will be losing fat. By making sure you are hitting your protein goal you are ensuring that you are maintaining your lean muscle mass which is what makes you look sexy!

Note here: Less fat and more muscle = “toned” appearance.

It’s not all about weights but resistance training does have a wealth of health and well-being benefits for women. The “weights make me bulky” comment comes from women who have weight trained without cutting their calories – they increase their muscle mass but don’t lose any of the fat as they are not in a calorie deficit then they THINK that it’s the weigh training that is the issue…

Take away from today – go and try some different types of exercise. Try different environments. Try the things that suit your lifestyle. Trial and error is great for discovering what we really want (as well as what we really don’t). Once you’ve worked it out you’re winning!

January – Day 9/31

Yesterday we covered meal planning; today we’re going to take that one step further and look at prep.

I’m talking meal prep AND I am talking planning how to hit your activity goals prep.

First up, meal prep.

We spoke about making a weekly meal plan yesterday so that you know, in advance, what you’re going to be eating that week AND that you have planning it all to fit your calorie and protein goals. Now we can look at those meals that we have thought out and book in one or two meal prep sessions for the week.

Personally I love a meal prep session on a Sunday afternoon – nothing else much is really happening, my husband is home to be able to entertain our little girl (although she does enjoy helping if needs be). I take a couple of hours and batch make food. I will make up things like bolognese, curry, oven cooked chicken breasts etc I will cook up all in one go then separate them into storage containers of the correct serving size – some of these will freeze – bolognese, curry, sausage casserole and “saucy” type mains take absolutely no hurt in the freezer to use at the end of the week. Things like chicken breasts, I will cook enough for 3 days and store them in the fridge after cooking and cooling. Veggies I like to cook fresh but you could include them in the batch cooking if you’re going to use them in the next day or two. I tend to use microwave wholegrain rice for my meals that require it – 2 minutes in the microwave when you need it then weigh it out to serve. Pasta and jackets I would cook fresh but maybe have portions weighed out ready to go.

Basically, the more prep you can do in one or two short hours the easier your week will be. There is something incredibly satisfying about going to the fridge or freezer on an evening and just being able to take out what you need and heat it up to enjoy something delicious and home made!

Next, activity prep.

It might sound daft but if you make a plan to even do something as small as going for a 10 minute walk on your lunch break the following day you are more likely to go and actually do it! It may take no actual prep at all to make the plan, just know what and when you are going to do it. It may take a little organisation, maybe you have told yourself you will go swimming before work – lay all your clothes out, pack your bag, set your alarm – just make sure everything is ready to go. If you’re planning on going to the gym or a class after work, pack your bag, make sure you have your water bottle, headphones, activity tracker etc all ready just to pick up and take with you in the morning. Maybe your planning involves making sure you have some childcare so you can go out and do some uninterrupted “you-time” exercise – do it, call who you need to, arrange drop off and collection time and then set all your clothes and items out ready (including anything your little one might need while they are apart from you).

These aren’t difficult things to do. Obviously the food prep takes a fair bit more time than the activity prep HOWEVER by doing all of your meal prep in one or two sittings you will find that you have so much more free time during the week – the time that you would usually be making the evening meal, you’ve already done it. This also opens a window of time for you to be able to add some exercise into your day, I know everyone I have ever worked with or spoken to has, at some point, used the excuse “well, I just don’t have any time”. MAKE IT! Make the time, plan your activity, plan your meals and achieve your goals.

Prep, prep, prep. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the more it becomes common play. It can even become something you really enjoy that becomes part of your motivation to do more!

January – Day 8/31

Make a plan to make life easier.

If you know what you’re going to be eating for breakfast. lunch and dinner then it makes it a whole lot easier to stick to better way of eating. If you can aim to get the majority of your protein quota in with your main meals then the rest of the calories can be used up with the thing you like.

You have a list of high protein foods on the Day 6 about macro-nutrients – you can use this to plan how much of which protein source you would like and what you would like to make with it. For example, you might want a spag bol for tea – it’s family friendly and easy to add extra veggies (fibre, vitamins and minerals) to. You can chose to either make it with lean beef mince (5% fat) or turkey mince.

You can add the recipes you make to MyFitnessPal and how many portions it makes so that each serving is exactly the same – remember we’re weighing everything as we make it.

What you can also do once you have made a weekly meal plan is make a weekly shopping list. By having a list of the things that you need you won’t be tempted to buy extras just because they are on special, you should find that your shopping trip is cheaper in the long run, and less wasteful as you’re only getting what you know you need and are going to eat.

And guess what – you can put those things that you WANT to eat into your meal planning too. Whether you know that you fancy a pasta bake one night, or you think a ready meal might be the easiest option for lunch one day, or you know you are going to want a chocolate bar during the week, fine, just make sure that it fits in with your plan.

Your meal plan MUST:

1 – Fit your daily protein goal as this is what we need to hit to maintain your muscle mass (give you that sexy “toned” appearance)

and

2 – Fit your calorie goal – we’re aiming to hit the same calorie goal every day, once your protein target has been hit you can make the rest of your calories up however you like from the carbs and fats. Be mindful that you will have less food in front of you if you choose to eat more fats. If you opt for a lot of carbs instead, choose whole-grains and vegetables – you can eat a whole load of vegetables making sure you feel full and don’t want to “pick” between meals and snacks.

Example of a weekly meal plan, including planned take away, Sunday lunch, bacon sandwich, chocolate and wine. Of course there are no set amounts provided on here as it will be specific to every person – as will the meals of your weekly plan. Over time you will learn how to make meals yourself and make the best choices of the ingredients for these meals, suiting your lifestyle, family and sustainability.

Don’t get me wrong, this takes time and practice to get to the exact goals. Just know that every time you make a change for the better in your food consumption, you are making a change for the better for your health.

We are working on the long term, not the quick fix.

January – Day 7/31

We’re on to day 7 and I want to know one thing; ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH?

Enough fibre that is! Today is all about why fibre is important and making sure that you get your daily quota!

Dietary fibre has a number of benefits when consumed in sufficient quantities including the prevention or relief of constipation, helping maintain a healthy weight, and lowering risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

You’ve probably heard of dietary fibre being referred to as roughage. It includes the parts of plant foods which the body can’t digest or absorb – fibre isn’t digested by the body, instead it passes pretty much intact through the digestive system and out of the body.

There are two types of fibre:

Soluble – dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. Soluble fibre can assist in lowering blood cholesterol and glucose levels and is found in oats, peas, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, apples, barley and psyllium.

Insoluble – promotes the movement of material through the digestive system and increase stool bulk. Insoluble fibre can be beneficial to those who struggle with irregular stools or constipation. Good sources of insoluble fibre are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables.such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.

To ensure you receive the greatest health benefits, you should aim to eat a wide variety of high-fibre foods.

How much fibre do you need?

How much fibre we need varies depending on age and gender:

Men age 50 years or younger require 38 grams of fibre per day whereas those aged 51 or older are advised to consume 30 grams per day.

For women, it’s 25 grams for those aged 50 years or under, and for those aged 51 and over the recommended amount of fibre is 21 grams per day.

How can you get the required amount of fibre each day?

  • Start your day right – grab a bowl of high-fibre cereal (5 grams + per serving). Look for those with “whole grain”, “bran”, or “fibre” in the name. Alternatively you can add two or three table spoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favourite cereal.
  • Chose whole grains – Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another grain as the first ingredient and have at least 2g of dietary fibre per serving. Try things like brown rice, wild rice, whole-wheat pasta and bulgar wheat.
  • Get in the beans – legumes – beans, peas and lentils, are great sources of fibre. Add mixed beans to salads, kidney beans to mince meals etc.
  • Snack on fruit and veg – aim for five or more serving of fruit and vegetables per day, eating the skin too where possible. Not only will you bump up your fibre intake but you’ll get a load of vitamins and minerals in too.

Note: Though high-fibre foods are great for your health, adding too much too quickly can produce some negative effects including intestinal gas, bloating and cramping. To avoid this, increase fibre gradually over a few weeks.

And to round it all off and take us back to day one – make sure you are drinking plenty water. Fibre works best when it absorbs water, making your poo soft and bulky. Oh, and you can track your fibre on MyFitnessPal too without having to add it all up yourself!

So there you go, a whole post on how to poo better. You’re welcome!

January – Day 5/31

Just a short one today – It’s the 80:20 rule!

The 80:20 rule is designed so that your eating habits are maintainable and avoid any binge behaviours. Basically, 80% of your daily food intake should be nutrient dense foods – whole foods that are unprocessed and are high in nutritional value (they provide you with all of the essential macro-nutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as a multitude of vitamins and minerals) then the other 20% can be made up of what you like, as long as you stick to your calories – think a chocolate bar or a glass of wine, those types of things.

Notice how I refer to the foods; only by nutritional value – foods which are either high or low in nutrition. I don’t refer to foods as “clean” or not, or as “good” or “bad”, or even as “treats” – these terms affect how we feel about foods and how we feel after consuming them. There should be no guilt involved when it comes to eating – only understanding of what you are consuming.

There is more to tracking food than just the above which I will go into in tomorrow’s post but I am just trying to ease you in gently, making it small steps rather than overwhelming you from right away! By allowing yourself to have the thing that you like and enjoy in small servings you avoid the yoyo process of a strict diet. You aren’t restricting yourself to any extreme and so avoid that “fall off the wagon” moment, if you want a glass of wine with your evening meal you can have it, you just have to make sure it fits in with the rest of your day (in terms of calorie and macro consumption).

If you’ve been in the habit of eating ready made meals and this is a huge change for you then start out small. Say for example you start with breakfast; instead of Coco Pops try some porridge with milk and fruit, or maybe toast and a boiled egg. Just making small changes like this on a consistent basis quickly add up and you will see and feel improvements.

And remember, we’re weighing what we eat – example: even if the packaging say one slice of bread equals 100 calories, weigh it – all slices of bread in a loaf are not the same size and weight. Weigh it, log it in MyFitnessPal with the correct weight and you will be accurately recording your calorie intake.