The most important thing about competing is NOT WINNING or losing, its the lessons you learn about yourself!
Inspired by an amazing day yesterday at Beyond the Wall The Finals 2017 at Fortius Scotland, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about the high and lows of competition. Competing isn't for everyone, and thats absolutely fine, but even for the 'not naturally competitive' athletes, the opportunity to enter a competition can give you more focus to your individual training and nutrition and also take you out of your comfort zone and an opportunity to learn so much about yourself. It can be a terrifying experience - taking to the competition floor. But it can also be exhilarating. Managing the highs & lows, the nerves and the adrenaline is all part of the learning curve. One thing is certain, you will definitely take away something from the experience....
1. Bad days happen to everyone
Friends, fellow athletes & family cheer from the side line, shouting your name - meanwhile you do your very best to perform for them, trying desperately hard to control the nerves whilst remembering everything you did during your training and preparation. Sometimes though, you just can't pull it off, or quite perform in the way you had hoped you would. We all have bad days—sometimes they can extend to weeks or months!
After the Crossfit Games, Noah Ohlsen took to Instagram to explain to his fans why he may have left them a bit disappointed: “The thing is, for some reason, all week something just didn’t feel right. It’s kind of indescribable and in no way am I making an excuse. I just know that that was not me out there on the floor. I couldn’t quite tap into who I am as an athlete, but for mere moments that seemed far too seldom. It’s tough when a year of work is showcased in one week, especially when it’s such a grueling one.”
Lesson: Listen, bad days happen, sometimes at the worse possible times. You feel disappointed and upset, but it happens to the best of the best! Learn from it and move on.
2. A year of training in the gym can turn a weakness into a strength
You might struggle with the gymnastics side of WODs. It might be running that makes you panic when you see the workout on the board. Whatever your weakness, you can turn it around if you work at it. I recall back to my first Individual Competition - The Rainhill Trials and making it to the final 5, much to my surprise! The Final WOD was pretty gassy which was good except it had pull ups in the middle and at that stage I did everything strict and hadn't mastered the kipping technique. So, I did the only thing I could - and stricted the pull ups (while my fellow athletes chose to butterfly). Needless to say I came 5th out of 5. Two years on, I can happily say I'm now able to kip and am getting to grips with the butterfly. Put the work in - see the progress.
Lesson: Don’t treat a weakness like a lifetime curse—it’s not an excuse as to why you didn’t do well in a WOD or competition. Instead, make it your goal to turn that weakness into a strength. Give yourself a focus—3, 6, 12 months to see an improvement. Whatever the goal is, don’t give up!
3. Your final placing or performance doesn’t always tell the whole story
I really believe this. That doesn't mean that the best athletes aren't the ones on the podium, I just mean that sometimes there is stuff going on behind the scenes. Everyone has something to deal with, pain, injury, nerves, personal life, preparation leading up to competition, home life, travel...all you can do is show up and do your best, giving 100% on the day.
Lesson: On a personal level, don’t judge your own performance by the performance of others. Someone was faster than you in WOD 1? Maybe they trained to peak on that specific day. You lifted more than someone in WOD 3? Maybe they didn’t sleep the night before or they have personal issues that are keeping them from peak performance. Compare you to you.
4. How do you define success
Its not all about the top three. For example fourth is a tough place to finish—especially if its by only two points. Try to remember that xx other athletes entered the qualifying stage of the competition and didn't make it to the final. Im sure many of them would be delighted with a 4th place finish, intact they'd even be happy just to be on the competition floor on the day! Lets be honest, we are all competitive if we compete. If we had come third, part of us would have wanted second, if we came second, we would’ve wanted first. It never ends, so it’s important to take a moment and appreciate what you've accomplished and just be bloody happy about it. It’s not often as an athlete you can just sit back and be content for a while. For me, success is the satisfaction knowing that you did your best. Success isn’t winning a trophy. Shoot for the stars but be happy if you land on the moon.
Lesson: Define success on your own terms.
5. Just BE you
It’s easy to get intimidated—especially by the other athletes you see in your category/heat in the warm up area or who you follow instagram and know from previous competitions or other boxes. You may have it in your head that you aren't on the same level as other competitors. BS. This year many of the Games rookies showed us that success doesn’t care what your name is or how many people know your name; instead, it rewards hard work and what you’re able to do on that given day.
Lesson: Don’t concern yourself with what others are doing, saying or will be doing come competition day. Ask the best from yourself during training and in competition and the rest will take care of itself.
Competing is a good focus for your training. Its fun, challenging, rewarding and at times disappointing. But at the end of the day, there will always be another opportunity to do better, and taking away lessons is an important part of competing. Its so hard to peak for an event. Things happen in life, injuries, sickness, personal problems, work gets in the way, the list goes on and on. I had the pleasure to watch so many incredible local Scottish athletes compete yesterday at Beyond the Wall The Finals 2017, and every single one of them are amazing athletes in their own right, achieving incredible things, inspiring others and even better people! Learn to appreciate the good days, handle the bad days, the pain, enjoy the successes and happiness, but mostly enjoy the opportunity to be around such amazing people!
The definition of Lifestyle Disease:
Any non infectious disease that is caused or promoted by YOUR behaviours and the choices YOU make.
This can include but not limited to: Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Certain cancers, Hormonal Imbalances (Hypothroid, Pcos, Adrenal Fatigue), Fertility Issues, Chronic Aches & Pains, Gut Issues, Emotional & Mental Health Issues (Depression/Anxiety).
Lifestyle related diseases or conditions, medievally diagnosed by your GP and far and away the most common conditions that I come across with clients seeking help. Sadly, whilst it might take a single visit to the doctor to be diagnosed, in the majority of cases its taken years of poor living to reach the point when it is seriously effecting your day to day life. There may have been signs and signals, that lead to the diagnosis, and often one issue leads to another, resulting in multiple problems.
The more concerning factor with most lifestyle diseases is that unlike many common virus or bacterial infections that can more often than not be treated with medication & rest, these issues can have devastating effects, frustrating consequences on your daily life and the time & effort required to undo the damage and successfully treat them can be significant - in some cases months/years.
Lifestyle diseases occur because of the way we live.
To get better, you need to decide to live differently.
For some that might involve moving more. It might be you need to make a conscious effort to remove significant stresses from your daily life to improve sleep & reduce stress levels. It might mean overhauling your diet to eat less/better. (It can also, on occasion mean taking more rest if you are a fitness fanatic thats been over training/under recovering and eating over a prolonged period).
Whatever the underlying reason behind the issue, it requires a lifestyle improvement, a CHANGE.
You can't change the past, but you CAN change the future. And you can make better, conscious choices about what you do from today onwards. If any of the issues Ive mentioned in this post resonate with you, or you know you are on the way to being effecting by lifestyle disease, don't become another NHS/Government statistic. Choose a happier, fitter, leaner, healthier & stronger life.
Should we include fruit in our daily nutrition? Is drinking Fresh Fruit juice healthy or not?
For most of us, completely cutting out sugar from our diet isn't easy. The over stimulation of our taste buds and pleasure messages in our brains means that its harder and harder to satisfy the carvings and almost impossible to appreciate the sweetness of foods like strawberries, carrots or vine ripened tomatoes. the reward-response from sugar means that its highly addictive. When you stop your intake of sugar abruptly you can suffer withdrawal symptoms including headaches, fatigues, low mood, frustration and it can impact on physical performance and brain ability.
Its also worth knowing that the fruits we eat today compared to our ancestors, are a lot sweeter, but they are sill REAL food in their whole form, so although they contain varied amounts of sugars, fruits also contain good fibre, water, vitamins, minerals and photo-nutrinets which are good for the body.
Should you include whole fruit in your daily nutrition?
It really depends on your body composition and also your goals.
Excess fruit can impact your diet in the same way that regular sugar fixes do, so be aware that eating an apple as your mid afternoon snack may fuel your sugar addiction rather than help you break it!
A helpful guidance is to stick to fruit in his whole form, not smoothies or juices,and look for those containing lower levels of sugar, particular if you are insulin resistant and/or want to lose body fat!
Also eating some good fats or protein with your fruit will also help to slow the insulin response of the fruit. For example a small handful of fresh nuts or nut butter on your apple slices, greek face yoghurt with your berries or sliced chicken breast as part of your snack.
I've listed below a few examples of the higher and lower sugar options as a guide;
LOWER SUGAR : Lemon, Lime, Avocado, Strawberry, Grapefruit, Blueberry, Fresh Fig.
HIGHER SUGAR : All dreid fruits, Grape, Banana, Mango, Apple, Pineapple, Pear.
Food for thought!
As the sunsets on the weekend this Sunday evening, remind yourself of this:
Every time you fell off your bike when you were young, you got back on and tried again.
Every time you fall and hit the box in the gym, jump again.
Every time you fall off the bar trying to do a kip swing, begin again.
Every time your mind wanders when you're trying to focus on something important, begin again.
Every time you go off track with your nutrition, begin again.
Every time you fail at something, or mess up, or take the wrong path, or follow the wrong route, or love the wrong person or climb the wrong mountain, or let someone down, remind yourself - that this is not the end.
There is always another sunrise tomorrow.
A new day, another incredible opportunity.
Take a deep breath and begin again.
#sundayvibes #peaceout #lightsout #sleepwell #anewdawn #anewday
Pic: Sunset on Glasgow University
If you're still not convinced that your low fat diet could actually be part of the problem you're overweight then read on. In the past nearly every government and healthy eating message has linked saturated fats with obesity and heart disease and has told you to stay away from saturated fats, warning it will raise your LDL cholesterol, clog your arteries and put you at increased risk for heart disease.
The truth is that these recommendations are in fact based on an unproven hypothesis, and a large number of studies that have since reexamined the theory have shown that saturated fat does not increase your risk of heart disease.
A 2015 meta-analysis20 published in the British Medical Journal found no association between high levels of saturated fat in the diet and heart disease. Nor did they find an association between saturated fat consumption and other life-threatening diseases like stroke or type 2 diabetes. Another study meta-analysis21 that pooled data from 21 studies and included nearly 348,000 adults found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat. Indeed, far from posing a risk, it’s known that saturated fats provide a number of important health benefits, including the following:
✓ Providing building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances
✓ Mineral absorption, such as calcium
✓ Carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
✓ Conversion of carotene into vitamin A
✓ Helping to lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
✓ Acts as antiviral agent (caprylic acid)
✓ Optimal “clean” fuel for your brain and mitochondria
✓ Provides satiety
✓ Modulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer (butyric acid)
It's this fear of healthy dietary fat that I believe is a big part of why we’re currently struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease of epidemic proportions. As noted by Dr. Mark Hyman,22 director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine and author of “Eat Fat, Get Thin”: “For 35 years we’ve been told to eat low fat, but the result is that we’ve cut fat and eaten a ton of carbs and sugar, which accounts for the corresponding surge in obesity, diabetes and other related ills over the same time period.”
So to be clear, healthy fats are not bad! And when we’re talking about healthy dietary fats, we’re referring to natural, unprocessed fat, found in real foods like raw grassfed dairy, meats, pastured eggs, seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado, coconut oil and raw cacao (a phenomenal source of healthy saturated fats and many beneficial polyphenols).
I'm a big Flat White fan, so much so that I definitely know the difference between a real FW and a 'skinny' one. Interestingly, on occasion if I order one at a new coffee shop, wearing lululemon (which in most cases I am!) without asking for skinny milk, I get given one thats been made with skimmed milk. There's clearly an incorrect assumption that because I train, I must therefore follow a low fat diet. Nothing could be further from the truth!
First of all, lets clarify a common misconception about what we call 'full-fat milk' (AKA regular, full cream, whole, blue top milk). It's actually not really full fat: as it contains only around 3.25 per cent fat, which, if you’re only drinking the equivalent of a glass or two a day, is significantly less than the fat you're consuming in other foods. Interestingly whole milk sales plummeted after the big saturated fat scare of the 70's, when everything naturally creamy and buttery was replaced for processed and man-made “low fat” foods instead. I can't help but think that's when it all went wrong. The Government and the food companies/supermarket giants did such a good job at convincing people that low fat was the healthier way forward that over 40 years on and some people still think that full fat milk is bad for you?!
The truth is that fat or even saturated fat is not the enemy. Fats are an important part of a complete & healthy diet, they also help with the feeling of being satisfied after a full-fat tea or coffee, unlike skinny versions, and fat (along with protein, also found in milk) fills you up longer, which curb the sugar cravings you get when your stomach is empty. Fats also do other important things - they're highly stable, lower cholesterol, enhance the brain and even protect the liver. Obviously, that’s not a free pass to binge on burger and fries, but the small amount in natural milk will actually do you good. As a 70's child, I remember my own Mum being swayed into believing the low fat phenomena. Even in her later years, once I was better informed and educated to know better, she still insisted on buying low fat yoghurts, skimmed milk and flora margarine! Essentially I was fighting against the scientists who for years warned us off full-fat milk because of so-called evidence pointing to increased LDL levels (bad cholesterol). But new research actually suggests that dairy actually increases good cholesterol which helps metabolise LDL anyway. The “blue milk makes you fat” argument doesn’t convince me either. Infact, a significant study of subjects followed over a 12 year period, showed there was a common link with those with a higher dairy fat intake with a lower risk of dangerous belly fat, while subjects with low dairy fat intake showed the opposite! Do you or anyone you know suffer with gut issues? There are some promising studies with mice have shown milk fat globules may heal the intestinal mucosa (protective lining of the gut) and help people with leaky gut syndrome.
So the next time you order a skinny latte, think twice. The benefits of 1) the taste 2) the good fatty acids 3) the satiety and 4) the relatively low fat content/calories may well outweigh your decision to go skinny, especially if you are lucky enough to choose a grass fed, GM free, farm fresh, high quality milk like Mossgiel* from the Ayrshire Cows. Plus I can pretty much guarantee, that if you are overweight or carrying too much fat, its unlikely to be the full fat Flat White thats the issue!
*served at Southside Roasters and other fine coffee establishments in Glasgow.
So, you think you know what you WANT to be, the question is, are you LIVING life now the way you WANT to live?
You say you want more energy but are you actually BEING that change? Are you getting up in the morning and doing something that an energetic person would? Are you showing up at your work place every day and BEING the office energy?
You say you want to be leaner and stronger. But are you actually living your life like a lean and strong person would? When you go out for dinner on Saturday night do you choose what a lean person would choose? Are you showing up like a lean person would when the office birthday cake run comes round by politely saying no thanks? Do you take every opportunity you have to be active, or do you choose to sit on the sofa and eat snacks with a movie instead? Is that what the leaner and stronger person would choose to do too?
You say you want to run your 1st 10k. So, are you living your life like a runner would? Are you actually getting out of bed and going for a run before work or do you opt for that extra 30 mins in your warm bed?
What have you done so far today? Ask yourself, honestly, if you've had a moan or a bitch about someone or something today? Were you guilty of shouting at the other driver that didn't let you out at the junction when you were running late for work this morning? Have you been miserable with your partner lately, dragging other people down? Are you guilty of being part of the 'make excuses in life' team? Or are you LIVING & behaving and thinking like the person you want to be?
What do you tell yourself about yourself? Are you positive and proactive? Do you allow yourself to feel happy & relaxed. Or are you stressed and uptight? What are you feeding your senses with? Who do you choose to spend your time with/hang out with? Are the people you choose to stay friends with the right people - good people, successful, positive, happy people? What do you choose to follow on instagram, read on Facebook, watch on TV, talk about and listen to?
What ENERGY are you giving out?
How are you dressed?
Are you thinking and acting 'as if' you're already that person?
You get my gist here? Life delivers opportunities to people who make room for them and behave and live like they're ready for it. We are all the same, we all have our shit to deal with. Its how you deal with it, that makes the difference. Everything you need is there but your brain will only tune into whatever you're focused on internally. Most of the time you don't need to live anywhere else, you don't need more money, you don't need to change jobs, move to a different gym, or have a thyroid issue. You just need to BE THE CHANGE and show up differently in your day to day life, and then the things and people you need to help you make progress will appear.
One thing that surprises a lot of new clients that I work with is the fact that it is very possible to eat more and lose weight.
In fact, in some cases, this is the key to long term fat loss and results. You don’t need to starve yourself or be constantly hungry. You certainly shouldn't feel tired all the time either. But one of the hardest concepts for people to accept is that counting calories just doesn’t work. the old saying 'eat less : move more' is actually poor advice for a lot of over weight people. Why? Firstly, we are all unique, with different body shapes and will all burn different amounts of calories on a daily basis. As well as the calories we consume as food & drink, we also have to consider the different rates at which we burn calories during movement, digestion, functioning. So we all have a need for calories. When people cut calories that they consume, its likely that the body may lose weight at the start but then once it realises it’s not getting enough fuel in to keep you running properly, it starts to slow things down, you stop losing weight and instead start storing fat. Your body basically thinks it’s starving and so will do everything it can to prevent that.
Let’s also look at it another way. If you ate 2000 calories of broccoli one day and then 2000 worth of mars bars the next, which do you think would make you fat? Not all calories are equal and dropping them too low is also detrimental to our health.
Fat loss is actually more complex than just what we eat and how we move. Our hormones also play a really important role in determining our own weight and shape. Hormones like insulin, testosterone, growth hormone, estrogen, thyroid hormone, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin are some of the most important things to look at when trying to drop excess fat, change your shape and get healthier. As a result of poor lifestyle choices over time, many people are out of balance and produce too much of some hormones and not enough of others, which also results in low energy, weight gain, loss of muscle and strength, poor moods, lack of concentration, low libido and much more. Hormones are produced in places like our adrenal glands, testes and ovaries but in order to produce them we need to intake certain nutrients. As the majority of popular diets restrict calories, they also therefore restrict nutrients, which is bad news if your goal is fat loss. For example, some of the most important nutrients for optimal hormonal balance are good, quality fats. so any diet that encourages 'low fat' nutrition is flawed! Not all fat is bad and understanding this is one of the keys to getting long term results.
Eat well Monday to Friday and fall off the wagon at the weekend?
Does this sound familiar to you?
You religiously record your food in MyFitnessPal during the week, but at the weekend you tend to slack off. You try and stick to a good routine on weekdays but at the weekend you eat more junk and the routine goes out the window? Do you allow yourself a 'cheat' which ends up a cheat weekend of poor food choices and often have a few drinks too. Answer: Weekend eating is just as important as Monday to Friday eating. 2 poor days can erase 5 good ones!
The truth: weekends can kill your fat loss.
Just like snacks and little extras in between meals can also ruin your fat loss. On their own they might not seem like much but little + little + little is no longer little. In the long term, these little nibbles here and there add up and WILL put the brakes on your progress. If it goes in your mouth; it counts.
There's nothing special about weekends. If you can eat well from Monday to Friday, you can eat well Saturday and Sunday. Your Monday to Friday success proves it. There's nothing about a weekend that should mandate a lack of structure - particularly when you’re aim is fat loss and you're trying to achieve a personal goal. If you're serious about your goal, and you really want to shed the extra fat your carrying around, then you'll stick to the program. In this sense, there's no such thing as ‘everything in moderation’. That’s like being 'sort of committed'. You’re either IN, or you're not.
Remember, it was YOU who didn’t like what you saw in the mirror. And YOU chose to make a change. That comes with a responsibility to yourself to accept what is involved to stay ON IT and be accountable. Of course it's fine if you want to ‘sort of eat CLEAN’, on one condition; that you're also willing to accept the consequences of that choice, which means slow, or NO visible change to your body. So next Monday when you go back to the gym and you wonder why you still feel fat compared to other members, maybe ask yourself how much fun the weekend really was? Is it worth it? It’s not rocket science but it's the one thing we ALL need reminding of when we're talking about successful, long term CHANGE : CONSISTENCY is key.
Ultimately when it comes to nutrition, accountability is and always will be, the KEY to long-term, successful fat loss. I don't care how hard you train, or how many group classes you do, or how many extra block runs or calories on the rower you push out, if you can't nail your nutrition week in and week out, you're short changing yourself of the RESULTS you deserve. You're working hard at your training for sub-optimal, or in some cases, no, physical results. If you want great results you need to make good food choices, consistently. Week in and week out. One day at a time.
“Extraordinary RESULTS requires extraordinary effort”
There is nothing more frustrating as a Coach than someone who moans and complains about belly fat, being over weight, feeling unhappy, and not seeing results and when you look at their MyFitnessPal, there are obvious and simple mistakes.
In some cases people tell me that they're bang on with their diet, except for the odd night out and little cheats/odd glass of wine here and there. What? That's not bang on in my book. That's extra. I don't care how small it is, when 'small' is repeated often, it's no longer small.
Sometimes people complain that they feel hungry? So what? What do you expect? If you've been on holiday and got used to eating high calorie/high fat foods you're effectively detoxing and eating in a caloric deficit compared to what you have been eating and your mind (not your body) is craving the sugar and fats.
Hunger level is not always an indication of the need for more food. Look back at your food diary – if you have fuelled correctly then I promise you’re not going to starve or die. So get over it.
Everything counts, and it ALL makes a difference to the results you see in the mirror. Binge drinking nights out, little cheats here and there, additional this or that, it all adds up. If you're needing to lose a few extra pounds you can cope with the odd night out. However if you're carrying 3-4 stone excess body fat then I'm afraid it calls for some serious effort on your part to shift it. Choose the behaviour, choose the consequences. It's fine to fall short of 100% compliance, if you're willing to accept the results of those choices. If not, then don’t cheat. GREAT RESULTS are waiting for you once you're prepared to make the right choices. .
Instant gratification is the mindset of a child. The need to satisfy a WANT (not a need) “ I want chocolate” NOW, NOW, NOW. We've ALL been there; no one said it would be easy. But we can't honestly expect to see and feel results if we don't put in the work. So find ways to stay on track and stop giving yourself excuses or permissions to eat the food you want but you know you shouldn't. That food you want now will still be there in 28 days!
It's Simple, But It's Not Easy. Clearly it's not that easy, otherwise no one would have body fat issues and we'd all be ripped all-year round. But, fat loss IS simple once you realise how hard it is. When you finally understand and appreciate how much effort, responsibility, planning, creativity, intensity, discipline, thought and control the journey involves, and that RESULTS are not going to happen from a half-hearted ‘average’ or moderate effort - you will succeed. This takes work. YOU have to be willing to put in the hard graft with your nutrition!
Some people can work on a 90% rule - meaning that you have to be on plan 90% of the time, allowing you 10% off plan. Sometimes I get asked “what if you're 90% and the results aren't showing?”It might be that 90% simply isn’t going to work for you. I know for me, 90% doesn't really cut it. I’m lean but when I hit 100%, and put in the extra effort, it makes a big difference. I strongly encourage your focus to be on changing your lifestyle to become more conscious of what you eat, i.e. the process and the mindset and not the outcome. Instead of focusing on what weight you want to be, or the size 10 jeans or the number on the scales – aim to make good choices consistently in the way you eat day in and day out, and the outcome will take care of itself!
"I will nail my nutrition 100% of the time this week'. If you meet your process goals, your outcome goals (i.e. RESULTS) will take care of themselves.
Fat loss is a battle: its you versus your body.
The key to winning is NUTRITION compliance. Unless you enter the battlefield with that strategy in place, you might as well wave the white flag before you even start. We work as a Team but your success is ultimately your responsibility.