January – Day 30/31

It’s my baby’s due date!!! Is he here? Is he coming? Is he late? No idea right now as I am writing this in advance – I will update if I get the chance. Waaaa!

***Update – he’s not here. Tick tock little dude, we are very impatient!***

How are you all getting on? Have you had a read every day this month? What have you put into practice and what have you cast aside? I have put this whole program together with it being about more than just the physical body but the mind and the emotional aspects of life too.

Are there things that you have found that have been or particular interest to you? Things that are working well in your daily life? I would love to hear from you and know how you are getting on.

Today, the penultimate day in this series, I’d love if you could share on social media what you have learned and tag me (HM Health & Well-being) into your posts. You’ll find me on Facebook: HM Health and Well-being or you can just copy the blog post across that you have enjoyed the most. I would be incredibly grateful.

I’d also love if you could complete a random act of kindness – when you’re out and about today. Do something randomly kind for someone, it doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just do something that you think if someone did it for you, you would really appreciate. Keep it to yourself. Don’t tell others that you have done it. Keep that golden feeling all to you and treasure it, for it is a wonderful feeling knowing you may have made another person’s day.

January – Day 28/31

Are you thankful for what you have? Do you show thanks on a daily basis for even the little things in your life?

Practising gratitude is a great way to shift your focus from one that’s potentially a little negative to one that’s more positive. Being thankful for little things, like just being able to have a cup of tea when you want one, for the roof over your head, for the people in your life, or that you can eat today are big things to think about. You are so much more blessed that you even realise.

Personally, I like to start my day by writing down three things I am grateful for. It was difficult at first but you soon realise that there are many blessings all around you. Once you start this practice, it gets easier and easier over time as you become more open to showing your thanks.

There’s even been some research done to show the benefits of showing gratitude which include:

  • opening the door to more relationships – showing appreciation can help with new friends and old.
  • improved physical health – people who are grateful report fewer aches and pains.
  • imported psychological health – showing gratitude reduces envy and resentment, to frustration and stress.
  • enhanced empathy and reduced aggression – people who show gratitude are more likely to behave in a more social manner, even when others are behaving in a less kind way.
  • improved sleep – grateful people sleep better. Try spending 15 minutes before bed writing down all the things you are grateful for.
  • improved self-esteem – linked with becoming less envious and resentful, showing gratitude actually helps people feel happier for others.
  • increased mental strength – showing gratitude reduces stress and helps overcome trauma; recognising all that you are thankful for, especially during the worst times in your life, fosters resilience.

From the points above you can probably gauge that it’s not just about writing things down. It’s about showing gratitude to others. Be kind. Be polite. Say thank you and express what you are actually thankful. “Thank you for your help today, I appreciate it because….”.

What are you thankful for right now. Write it down or tell someone. It feels good.

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 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 11/31

We’ve talked about food, daily activity, structured exercise and water. But what other things are important in looking after your health and well-being?

A huge one for me is SLEEP!

Humans are the only species that will actively fight the desire to sleep. We stay up to binge watch TV series, waste hours on social media, and stay out later than we should even when we know we need the sleep. Personally, I think it’s all to do with FOMO (fear of missing out), God forbid someone should have a conversation in the office tomorrow about a TV show that you were just too tired to stay up for….

Anyway, whatever the purpose for staying up, burning the candle at both ends etc there are some real detrimental effects on the human body from a lack of shut eye – here are a few:

Impaired cognition – I’m pretty sure when you’ve been short of sleep this is one of the most obvious effects; your memory is shot to sh*t. Your ability to retain information is less than great, shall we say, and your concentration is poor.

Disruption of our natural time clock (circadian rhythm) – disruption to this can lead to poor white blood cell health meaning weakened response to physical stress.

Higher levels of anxiety – with decreased sleep comes an increase in the brain’s anticipatory reactions, hello increased overall anxiety levels.

Higher levels of depression – a decrease in sleep causes a decrease in neurotransmitters; these neurotransmitters regulate mood.

Increased risk of injury – alongside the poor memory and cognitive function, an increased risk of injury can occur from disrupted concentration.

As far as very physical detrimental effects go, lack of sleep can lead to a higher risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer.

Not getting enough hours of shut eye can also lead you to unhealthy cravings. Lack of sleep causes ghrelin (the hormones that make you feel hungry) levels to increase and leptin (the hormones that make you feel full) to decrease. When we’re tired we tend to go for the quick hunger or sugar fix to make us feel better and a bit more “alive”.

What can we do to help get the sleep that we so desperately need?

Getting more sleep takes practice – it might sound stupid but we have to train ourselves to sleep soundly and sleep hygiene habits are paramount to this:

  1. Make a regular, relaxing bedtime routine – take a warm bath, read a book, light stretches; whatever works for you, having a regular night time routine helps the body recognise that it’s time for sleep.
  2. Avoid screen time for around 2 hours before bed – the unnatural blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the natural production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
  3. Make sure your bedroom is a pleasant sleep environment – a comfortable mattress and pillows, possibly having blackout blinds or curtains, ear plugs or white noise, and a comfortable temperature all help promote quality sleep.
  4. Limit day time naps – naps don’t make up for inadequate nighttime sleep but a short 20-30 minute nap can improve mood, alertness and performance.
  5. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. A limit on alcohol is a good idea too as too much too close to bed time, though can help you get off to sleep, tend to disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
  6. Exercise – it helps promote good quality sleep. Even just 10 minutes in the day can improve the quality of your nighttime sleep. Generally speaking, it’s best not to do any strenuous exercise close to bed time.
  7. Steer clear of heavy, rich or fatty foods, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks right before bed. These things can trigger indigestion for some people and can lead to painful heartburn, disrupting sleep.
  8. Get out into the natural light – exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Personally, I find sleep meditation apps and audio helpful to get off to sleep and often use a YouTube guide to play in the background when I first get into bed. These are also very helpful if you wake in the night and find that your mind goes into over-drive. Just make sure that you turn off auto-play if you plan on doing this!

It will take time to establish good quality sleep but as with everything else, if you put the effort in you will reap the rewards.

Slow and steady wins the race!