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.
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.
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!
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:
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:
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!
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.
Bypass the bread basket. It’s not necessary, it’s just [white] bread.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This one has a bit more body to it. We’re going to look at macro-nutrients or “macros”.
All food stuffs are made up of three macro-nutrient groups: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Each of these macro-nutrients are essential to the healthy function of our bodies. Let’s have a look at what each of them does and why we need them:
PROTEINS – Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of body tissue and can also serve as a fuel source.
Here are a couple of lists to help you get your head around the foods that contain protein and how much they contain. Note: 3oz = 85g, 1oz = 28g, 1 cup = 237ml.
FATS – Fats are a type of nutrient that you get from your diet. It is essential to eat some fats, though it is also harmful to eat too many.
The fats you eat give your body energy that it needs to work properly. During exercise, your body uses calories from carbohydrates you have eaten. But after 20 minutes, exercise then depends on calories from fat to keep you going.
You also need fat to keep your skin and hair healthy. Fat also helps you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, the so-called fat-soluble vitamins. Fat also fills your fat cells and insulates your body to help keep you warm.
The fats your body gets from your food give your body essential fatty acids called linoleic and linolenic acid. They are called “essential” because your body cannot make them itself, or work without them. Your body needs them for brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting.
Fat has 9 calories per gram, more than 2 times the number of calories in carbohydrates and protein, which each have 4 calories per gram.
All fats are made up of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Fats are called saturated or unsaturated depending on how much of each type of fatty acid they contain.
CARBOHYDRATES – One of the primary functions of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy with the majority of carbs being digested and broken down into glucose before entering the blood stream.
The glucose in the blood is taken up into the cells of the body and used to produce ATP (a fuel molecule) through cellular respiration. The cells then use ATP to power a variety of metabolic tasks.
ATP can be produced from several source, including dietary carbs and fats. If you eat a mix of these nutrients, the majority of your body’s cells will prefer to use carbs as their primary energy source.
Excess glucose can be stored for later use. This stored form of glucose is called glycogen and is found in the liver and muscle. In the liver, these molecules can be released into the blood to provide energy throughout the body and help maintain normal blood sugar levels between meals.
The glycogen stored in the muscles can only be used by the muscle cells; it is vital for use during long periods of high intensity exercise.
WHEN YOUR BODY HAS ALL OF THE GLUCOSE IT NEEDS AND YOUR GLYCOGEN STORES ARE FULL, YOUR BODY CAN CONVERT EXCESS CARBS INTO TRIGLYCERIDE MOLECULES AND STORE THEM AS FAT.
Glycogen stores are vital to ensure that the body has enough glucose for all of it’s functions.
Carbohydrates are not the enemy when it comes to weight loss but you do need to choose the right ones. Here’s a list of the best carbohydrate choices:
Vegetables: All of them. It is best to eat a variety of vegetables every day.
Whole fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries, etc.
Legumes: Lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.
Whole grains: Choose grains that are truly whole, as in pure oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
Now, using MyFitnessPal I would like you to set your macro goals. You do this by going into the menu -> Goals -> Calorie, Carbs, Protein and Fat Goals -> input your calories at your specific allowance, then toggle the macros to 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, and 30% Fat. Click the tick and that should be your new goals saved. You can monitor these goals throughout each day by clicking into the nutrition section of the diary.
Carbohydrates contain around 4 calories per gram, proteins are also 4 calories per gram, and fats contain 9 calories per gram.
Note: your nutritional goals will automatically adjust through the day if you have your fitness tracker linked to your MyFitnessPal account. Ideally, I would like to you stick to your original allowances and not use the burned calories that the app automatically applies. Eg. if your calorie goal is 1500 calories and your doing the 40/30/30 ratio of macros then you should be only consuming the 1500 calories through 600 calories from carbohydrates (600/4=150g), 450 calories from protein (450/4=112.5g), and 450 calories from fat (450/9=50g). Ignore the auto-adjustments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
***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.