January – Day 19/31

Hands up of you’re doing? Dry January?

Hands up if you started but then gave in?

Hands up if you couldn’t give a toss about dry January because you enjoy your glass of ***insert beverage of choice*** after a long week?

Fair play whatever you’re doing. It’s always good to take time out and give your body a rest from alcohol but as long as it’s not a problem then a couple of drinks a week isn’t going to do you any harm.

The thing is – do you track your alcohol intake? Like the macros, protein, carbs and fats, alcohol holds it’s own caloric value: 7 cals per gram and at zero nutritional value.

If you’re serious about your weight loss but don’t want to drop your glass of wine, cider or whatever then you need to factor it in to your daily allowance. You can still enjoy it, it just needs accounted for. As with the 80:20 rule – hit your protein goal with 80% of your diet being nutrient dense, then stick to your calories and you can have whatever else fits in with it all.

Our plan is giving you the tools to have a maintainable LIFESTYLE whilst feeling fitter, healthier and dropping weight, we’re not a restrictive crash diet.

January – Day 18/31

Yesterday we did a home workout, today I want to share a very basic gym workout – should you find that you fancy it!

Warm up – 5 minutes on any full body cardio machine plus the following dynamic stretches:

  1. Hamstring swings
  2. Arm circles
  3. Arm across the chest
  4. Torso twists
  5. Shoulder shrugs

Main Workout – these are machine exercises – complete each exercise for 12-15 reps for 2-3 sets resting 30-60 seconds between.

  1. Leg press
  2. Leg curl
  3. Leg extension
  4. Chest press
  5. Seated row
  6. Shoulder press

Once you’ve hit these COMPOUND (multi-joint) movements you can cool down OR if you have time try some of the following:

  1. Calf raise
  2. Bicep curl
  3. Tricep push down
  4. Ab curl
  5. Dorsal raise

Cool down – 5 minutes gentle walk on treadmill followed by stretches as per home workout.

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 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 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 3/31

Let’s talk about exercise vs. daily activity and what we can do to increase calorie expenditure…

First off, what is the difference between  exercise and daily activity?

Exercise is any activity which requires a physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness.

Daily activity are the things we normally do in daily living e.g eating, dressing, taking a shower etc.

Why is this important?

I don’t want you to feel like you have to go out and join a gym or a fitness class to lose weight and get fit; you can if that’s what you would really like to do, and if that’s what fits in best with your lifestyle. I want you to be able to add activity to your day that will contribute to your calorie expenditure which is easily achievable. I’m talking about your NEAT calorie burn.

N.E.A.T = Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – the energy we expend during normal daily activities (chasing after the kids, walking around the shops etc). NEAT is the energy burnt during all daily activities except sleeping, eating or taking part in formal exercise/sports.

Cartoon kid daily routine activities set

In a nutshell I am saying I want you to MOVE MORE ANY WAY YOU CAN!

Let’s say Sally and Sue both have the same body type, weight etc which means if they both basically sat and did nothing all day they would burn the exact same amount of calories. Sally and Sue both have the same office job, they sit at a computer to complete their work during their 37.5 hour a week 9-5.

Sally sits all day, only getting up when she absolutely has to.

Sue gets up and walks around the office at least once an hour. She gets outside on her lunch break and has a 20 minute walk in the fresh air.

At the end of the day Sue has burnt more calories than Sue in the same amount of time from simple doing more normal activity and how difficult was it for her to achieve? Not hard at all!

YOU CAN EASILY DO IT TOO! Throw some excuses at me and I will give you some ways to fit more activity in.

I bet you manage to log onto social media a few times a day, or manage to vegetate on the sofa in front of the TV for at least 30 minutes on an evening – nothing to stop you being active whilst you do these things. You don’t have to go anywhere, just walk on the spot. You might feel like a bit of an idiot to begin with but once you start seeing and feeling a difference you’ll soon get addicted.

Even when you’re talking to someone, a person who is a more animated conversationalist will burn more calories during a 5 minute chat that someone who just stands there with their arms folded (hint; if you’re talking to someone who is standing like this, end your conversation, generally speaking, they couldn’t give a crap about what you’re saying. Go and move instead).

You can track your activity too. Things like a free step tracker app downloaded to your phone are handy (though you have to keep your phone on you at all times and they aren’t quite as accurate) or more suitably an activity tracker watch like a FitBit are ideal. They track your steps, give you reminders to move, track your workouts (if you’re doing them), and they link up to MyFitnessPal which I recommended was great for tracking your calories.

Personally I love a Fitbit, I currently have the Fitbit Charge 2 but I need to upgrade as I have cracked the screen. I think I’ll be going for either the FitBit Charge 3 or the FitBit Versa.

We should each have a goal of steps to hit per day and for the average Joe this should be between 10,000-15,000 steps. No excuses, get up and start raking up those numbers!

Note: Links taking you to products are via amazon associates. I may earn a small commission should you purchase items following these links.

January – Day 2/31

If we’re looking at this month in terms of weight management as well as general health and fitness then we need to be aware of what we are actually consuming. Yes, I’m talking calories.

cut-calories

A calorie is a unit of energy – One calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. The calories in food provide energy in the form of heat which allows our bodies to function.

How many calories does a person need each day?

The NHS provide a rough guide that suggests men should should consume around 2,500 calories per day, and that women should be on an intake of around 2,000 calories per day. This is a very rough guide and is based on an “average” person (whatever that is).

In all reality, caloric needs are entirely dependant upon the individual, their goals, activity levels and starting point amongst other things. We can work this out using a couple of simple calculations, or in this case, a couple of links to external sites to do it for you…

Let’s talk about the caloric needs of the body.

First off, BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the number of calories you would need to eat each day just to process the most basic of bodily functions while at rest. If your weight were to increase so would your BMR.

Next, TEF – Thermal Effect of Food. This is the energy required by your body to digest and absorb food and beverages.

And, TEA – Thermal Effect of Activity. This relates to the calories required to complete all forms of activity throughout the day, deliberate exercise or daily tasks.

Why are these things important?

If we use all of the above information together we can work out our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) or simply put, the total number of calories we burn each day.

BMR + TEF + TEA = TDEE.

Wow, that’s a whole lot of information if you’re just starting out! To make it all easier for you to work out head over to the TDDE Calculator here. You’ll be asked to fill in the following details: gender, age, weight, height, and activity level – be honest on all of these details, incorrect information here is not going to help you in the long term. Don’t worry about the body fat percentage if you don’t know it, you’ll get a good estimate without it.

Once you have input all of this information hit the “calculate!” button and you’ll be taken to a page where it gives you the information you want: Your Daily Maintenance Calories.

If you want to keep your weight the same your daily maintenance calories is the number of calories you need to be consuming. If you want to lose weight then we are going to adjust this number, reducing it by up to 500 calories. And similarly if you would like to gain weight we would add up to 500 calories per day to your maintenance number.

TDEE Page

***I do not encourage very low calorie diets, they do not work as they leave you feeling hungry and then you end up in a food binge. Ideally your weight loss or “cutting” calories should be no lower than around 1450 calories per day. Slow and steady wins the race.***

Now that we have learned a little more about the body and it’s caloric needs we need a way to track them. I highly recommend downloading MyFitnessPal to your mobile phone; you can search for the foods you eat, add your own recipes, scan in food via barcode and select portion size as well as sectioning your food intake into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You can also track your water intake on MyFitnessPal as we discussed yesterday.

This is all I would like to give you for today, as I said earlier, if you’re new to this type of information then it is a lot to take in. It’s also only the 2nd of January and it’s probably the first day that you’re really actually thinking about any of this.