January – Day 31/31

CONGRATULATIONS – YOU DID IT!!!

You’ve followed me for a whole month reading and learning about things you may or may not already have known about, and probably had a few unexpected topics in the mix.

I’m not the strongest of writers but I am working on it and this month has seen me become more confident in what I am doing so I would like to thank you all for that.

Following on from this free series, I would like to let you know I am available for one to one support on fitness and health should it be something you would like going forward. There’ll be more posts on here in future too (maybe after a bit of a quiet spell with baby).

I think for me, from completing this journey, I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that I can stick to something when I put my mind to it – I haven’t missed a single day of posting, even when I have felt so incredibly tired that I didn’t know what to write about. I’ve learned that showing parts of myself is not as scary as I thought – sharing they types of things I do on a daily basis like write about my gratitude and affirmations. I’m still learning the types of topics that you lot all love to read about; the insights on my webpage are really interesting and I’ve actually reached people as far as India and Canada with some of my content on here!

Most of all, I have learned that actually, I really enjoy doing this. And, even if I look back in the future and cringe at the content I have been posting, I will know that I pushed myself into starting a new path at a time when I thought I wasn’t going anywhere.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for your time. Thank you for being you.

On that note – thank you for being you – I truly hoped that this program has helped you realise what you really want; do you want the weight loss or did you just think that was what was going to make you happy? Has the mindset work helped more than the weight loss advice? Has the exercise helped soothe the mind more than you expected?

We all want to be happy but chasing happiness is generally the path to nowhere. If you can take one thing from my program and use it to be happy today then I feel like I have made a true impact on you.

Be you. Be all you. Be un-apologetically you; for you are a unique creature of beauty and life, and you are fabulous.

Lots of love, H xxx

January – Day 17/31

Short post – quick body weight workout you can do anywhere.

5 Minute Warm Up – 30 seconds each:

  1. walk on the spot
  2. jog on the spot
  3. bum kicks
  4. high knees
  5. right leg swings
  6. left leg swings
  7. jog on spot whilst circling arms forward
  8. jog on spot whilst circling arms backwards
  9. jog on the spot whilst crossing arms over chest and opening them wide
  10. walkout burpee

Main Session, Body Weight Circuit – Work through the exercises number 1-10, doing each exercise for a work to rest ratio of either 30s:30s, 40s:20s or 50s:10s depending on your starting fitness level and prior experience. Rest for 1 minute at the end of the 10 exercises – repeat for 2-4 rounds depending on time allowance and ability. One round will take 11 minutes in total (including the rest). You can download INTERVAL TIMER for FREE to your mobile phone which can then be set to your desired work:rest ratio (and how many rounds you want to do).

  1. Squat
  2. [Box/Wall] Push Up
  3. [Walkout] Burpee
  4. Alternating Lunge
  5. Tricep Dips
  6. High Knees
  7. Alternating Side Lunge
  8. Shoulder Push Up
  9. Long Jump with Jog Back
  10. Plank

All of these exercises have a beginner, intermediate and advanced version which you can search for online should you need a video guide (my apologies I haven’t made one myself but trying to move is a struggle at the minute let alone demonstrate exercises correctly). Bodybuilding.com is a great place to go to for video tutorials.

Cool Down – 5-10 minutes slowly allowing the heart rate to lessen, the body temperature to reduce and the breathing rate to come down followed by stretching:

  1. Gentle jog on the spot slowing to a walk over 3-5 minutes.
  2. 30 seconds stretching for each of the muscle groups used – hamstrings, quads, glutes, chest, back, triceps, shoulders.

Again, going back to day 1. Always check with your health professional before beginning a new health or fitness regime. If you feel light-headed, faint, or unwell at any point, discontinue the session.

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 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!

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.

January – Day 4/31

According to research, people underestimate their calorie intake by up to one third.

ONE THIRD!! That’s a whole lot of calories that aren’t being accounted for.

It also makes it understandable as to why people who THINK they are eating the correct amount of calories for their weight loss aren’t actually losing any weight at all – they may be stuck at a certain weight or even gaining depending on how badly their intake is being incorrectly logged.

I’m not having a go here, I just need everyone to understand that you have to be accepting of everything you are consuming and know exactly how much you are having. It can be all too easy to forget about the caramel latte you had on the way to work, the couple of bourbon biscuits you sneaked into your gob in the tea room, the lashings of tomato sauce you had on that smoked bacon butty this morning… You get the picture.

It can also be super easy to incorrectly guestimate the weight of the foods you are eating and be WAY off. Say for example you have a roasted chicken breast, jacket potato and steam veg for your tea – great choices, lots of nutrient in this meal along with a variety of vitamins and minerals, fibre and satifying to boot BUT, how much have you had? How big was the chicken breast, was it cooked skin on or skin off, did you cook it in any oil or with any marinade? How big was the jacket potato, small, medium, or large, is your “medium” the same as someone else’s medium size. What were your steam veg? Did you have a pre-prepared pack? Did you eat a whole portion? Did you check what a recommended portion is? Have you just gone on MyFitnessPal and picked the options you WANT your food consumption to fit in to (Trust me, soooo many people do this; the only person you;re kidding is yourself). This isn’t even everything to consider and you can see there are already a list of things you need to be aware of.

If this is the case then what can we do to make sure we know what we are eating and that we are recording accurately?

It may sound super anal and a total faff to begin with but, the only way to really know exactly what you are eating is to WEIGH YOUR FOOD.

Ok, so I fully accept that I may have lost some of you at this point, and that’s ok, maybe you’re just not ready for the accountability it takes to make the changes you really need….

For those of you who are still here, well done. You accept that there’s a problem and that this is the solution. It’s not as much of a ball ache as it sounds and once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes quicker and second nature to do so. All you need is a set of kitchen scales like these. Just remember if you are weighing your food raw or cooked and then select the correct option from MyFitnessPal when logging them.

You can do this to add recipes to MyFitnessPal too – just log all the weights of all the ingredients and then select how many portions it makes et voila, you have your portion calories (and macros – more about this at a later date).

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