Things I’ve been asked by members this week so thought I’d share a quick blog ;
“I’ve been on this diet for a week, I’ve lost 3 lbs., but I don’t see any change in how I look."
“I’m getting so frustrated. I’ve been on my Nutrition to a TEE for the last 3 weeks, and although I can feel my measurements are going down I don’t look ripped and I don’t really see anything going on."
Ive heard variations of those comments from many-many-clients over the years. I’m sure some of you guys have heard yourself at some point when following a certain diet or approach to nutrition.
Truth? Typically no progress is fast enough, particularly if you have a long way to go and a lot of excess BF and a history of following fad / yo yo diets!
Take the Paper Towel Analogy and the picture of the two paper towel rolls - one is a before picture at your heaviest and unhappy and the second is you, 12 weeks in having decided to do something to change your poor lifestyle choices and having lost some fat. As you start losing fat (or tearing off sheets of the towel roll) you might not immediately notice any change but as time goes on, the more fat you lose (towels you lose) the more noticeable it becomes and then all of a sudden other people begin to notice and you can see it!
So often, in the beginning when you are putting in the effort to make good choices and lifestyle changes and being consistent, you might think that nothing is happening, it just takes a while to see it, this is particularly true when you are heavier and have a longer way to go. Unfortunately we live in a world where we expect immediate gratification. And fat loss doesn’t work like this.
Stay consistent, be patient and trust the process. Dont get frustrated and think its not working, it is! and you will never see the RESULTS if you always give up before you give yourself time.
You CAN DO THIS!!
It's that time of year when for some reason it becomes harder than normal to keep on top of your Nutrition. Apart from the darker evenings, shorter days & chillier climate, all of which can make you reach for the warming comfort foods, the onset of the festive party season means a constant overload of eating & drinking super high calorie treats.
**HEALTH WARNING** weekends can seriously sabotage your fat loss plans!!
For many people on a fat loss journey, its the weekend overeating (and over-boozing) that prevents them from seeing the RESULTS they work hard for Monday to Friday. It's something I see over and over again. Individuals killing it in the gym and managing their eating during the normal working week and then Friday night comes and BOOM. For a lot of people it's become so routine now its a habit.
The common theme;
"Every Friday around 5pm, as I waited for the bus after work, I’d start to salivate. The end of the work week means red wine, pizza, a giant bag of crisps, and a movie. It's my Friday ritual. Friday night, is eat whatever I want, the highlight of my week. My job is stressful so fast food and booze is my way of unwinding. Friday is a gateway drug to the rest of the weekend. a big breakfast on Saturday, and big lunches afterwards. Either out on Saturday night for drinks and a big meal. Or stay home for a takeout and movie on the couch. Then its Sunday brunch, perhaps coffee & cake during a Sunday walk. And, naturally, winter weekends is a big Sunday roast… because it’s Sunday"
Because it’s Friday. Because it’s Saturday. Because it’s Sunday. Sound familiar?
We aren't talking about compulsive bingeing here. This kind of overeating is a routine, stress-fuelled, social habit. In most cases, your social circle supports it, even encourages it - 'its just what people do at the weekends'.
The problem is, that after a while, weekend overeating starts to bite you in the ass.
As every overeater knows, the over indulgence comes with consequences.
By Monday you feel physically uncomfortable, bloated, and mentally, you feel crap, guilty and angry for eating it all. And while a little weight fluctuation is inevitable when you’re trying to get in shape, if you want to stay healthy and fit, or make fitness and health a permanent part of your lifestyle, then weekend overeating can easily sabotage your goals.
Aside from the obvious extra body fat or poor performance in the gym, there’s all the other associated health related side effects. Your joints hurt because of inflammation from junk food. You’re too heavy to train properly. Or you lie awake in bed with food sweats or get a shitty sleep because of the overdose of sugar, saturated fats & alcohol. The problem is, like any habit, the cycle can be hard to break. Training harder in the gym the Monday after a social weekend isn't the answer. Nor is drastically cutting your calories as you begin another new diet on Monday as the starvation attempt almost always leads to an even bigger blowout the following weekend. The more the binge-diet cycle continues; the further the health and fitness goals remain out of reach.
How do you break free of the weekend overeating cycle?
Are your weekday eating patterns affecting your weekend behaviour?
Do you have a healthy, unemotional relationship with food?
Here are the 5 strategies to help ditch the 5:2 habit (and hopefully the weight) for good.
Strategy #1: Instead of trying to be perfect - start to live with balance.
Aim for “consistently good” instead of “perfect”.
By trying to follow the “perfect” diet and super strict meal plans Monday to Friday and constantly stressing about screwing things up, by the time you get to the weekend, you're mentally exhausted with it all and the willpower gives out. You’re so fed up of restrictive eating you can’t wait to eat ALL THE food you actually enjoy. Bring on the weekend binge! For most people trapped in this vicious cycle, there are only two options in their mind: perfect or crap. So the distorted logic of “It’s Saturday, I’m out to lunch with my family, and I can’t have my perfect pre-portioned kale salad like I usually do, so instead I’ll just overeat a giant bacon cheeseburger and a huge plate of fries.” If you take “perfect” off the table, things change. You feel empowered because there are now other options. Instead of kale salad vs. five servings of fries, there’s:
“I’m actually in the mood for a salad with my burger so ill sub the fires for a green salad.”
Always aim for “good enough”. Don't separate weekdays from weekends, instead make every day an opportunity to consider your health and fitness goals, what you're in the mood for, which healthy options are available, etc. Remember: The consistently good method you stick to is better than the “perfect” one you quit.
Strategy #2: Let go of rigid food rules.
Food rules tell you:
* what you can and can’t eat,
* when you can or can’t eat it,
* how you can or can’t eat it, and/or
* how much you can or can’t have.
These rules take up an awful lot of mental headspace. They also set you up for failure… aka “the Fucked It Effect”. Here’s how the Fucked It Effect works.
If #1 food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs. No bread with the soup; won’t touch a sandwich; no toast with your eggs. Then Friday night, you find yourself out with friends, and everyone’s having beer and pizza. You try and hold out but you give in and grab a slice. You've fucked it, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you might as well keep eating. Cue the binge and miserable, guilty after effects.That normally means you let go all night. Maybe all weekend. Eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating, because once you deviate, there’s nothing left to guide you.
Ditch the rules and let your healthy lifestyle be your guide. Non-dieters (or so-called “normal eaters”) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full, no matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, work lunch or weekend brunch. Remember every choice has a consequence and don't let it spiral out of control.
Strategy #3: Don't allow yourself Cheat Days.
Monday through Saturday is all about sticking to your diet. But Sunday… That’s Cheat Day. The happiest day of your week. You wake up on Cheat Day morning like a kid at Christmas. Go wild all day long, eating all the stuff you don’t allow yourself during the week. As evening nears, you start to freak out. So you eat (and maybe drink) even more. Because tomorrow, it’s back to reality, diet starts again. Back to fidelity and compliance. And no fun.
Some people find the idea of a weekly Cheat Day useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then by all means crack on. But ill be honest, for most of the people I’ve coached, having one Cheat Day means the rest of the week is food purgatory. Instead, don't exclude anything and make good choices all week. You don’t need to “cheat” because there’s nothing, and no one, to “cheat” on. Maybe you enjoy some dessert on a Tuesday night because you’re in the mood for it, or maybe you don’t because you’re satisfied from dinner. Either way, you're on control of your daily calorie intake. What and when you eat is up to you — and your hunger and fullness cues. No matter what day of the week it is. And whatever you choose is going to be key to how you look & feel.
Strategy #4: Own your choices.
There is no “good” and “bad” food. Sins aren't for adults. Mind games like this undermine your health goals — and your authority over your decisions. Instead owning your choices, and letting your adult values and health principles guide you when you sit down to eat. By making food decisions by acknowledging the outcome, based on your past experience. For example:
“I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream on Saturday night. I’ll probably feel nauseated and anxious afterwards. In this instance, I’m okay I understand that.” In the end, own your choices: But don’t try and justify them. You’re free to eat and drink anything you want. You choose your behaviour. Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes. It’s your call.
Strategy #5: Stop justifying your behaviour.
Weekends present all sorts of justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods. And trust me, Ive heard them all!
* You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.
* You were travelling. Or maybe you were at home.
* You had to work. Or you were bored.
* You had a family/social. Or maybe you were home alone.
We can all try to rationalise our beehive with excises. Busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. People eat or drink too much in lots of different situations. The explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.
Rationalisations are a convenient way of helping us make sense of — and perpetuate — our overeating.
Stop justifying your behaviour or blaming something or someone else, and ask yourself why you are really overeating. On the odd occasion, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal. But instead of justifying it, take the opportunity to ask yourself what’s really going on in your head at that moment. Are you bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy? If you do this you’ll start to see some patterns. That’s the key, your opportunity to change overeating behaviour — and do something to address those emotions instead of bingeing.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
There is no perfect time to eat better, or to live a healthier lifestyle Not tomorrow; not on Monday. Not after Christmas. Life is always a busy, there will always be an excuse. All we can do is our best with what we’ve got. Right here, right now. Ask yourself: How’s that weekend overeating working for you?
If you’re loving all your junk-food nights out or gut-punching Sunday brunches, and you’re happy with the results, keep going. But if you’re fed up with how you look, how you feel and the vicious cycle it could be time to make a change. Ask yourself: What does weekend overeating do for you? What does it lead to? What does it add to your life? How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?
Often weekend overeating is self-medication for stress, stimulation and novelty, and a way to connect socially with friends/family.
To reset your mindset and break the cycle of weekend overeating, try:
* aiming for “good enough” instead of “perfect”,
* letting go of your food rules,
* giving up the idea of Cheat Days or Cheat Meals - carte blanche permission to eat everything,
* own your choices, and/or
* quitting the rationalisation/justification for your behaviour.
If you do over eat, park it and move on. Don’t try to compensate. Just get back to your normal.
You don’t “pay back” the damage in the gym or on the treadmill, nor do you need to kamikaze your way through a whole jar of peanut butter. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to doing your best. Sometimes it helps to put someone else in control for a while.
You are the boss of you, and you should own your choices. But changing a deep-seated habit — like overeating on the weekend — is challenging. And just like your fat loss, the process of changing your habits will have ups and downs. Its a lifetime journey. It helps to have someone who will support and encourage you - a friend, a partner, or your trainer who will listen to you and keep you accountable. Good luck, I know you can do this.
I hope that by now, after the first two Nutrition Workshops in the series you are beginning to understand the simple basic rules of PROGRESS Mode, in that;
To LOSE weight (i.e. fat) you need to be in a consistent calorie deficit. This might mean that from time to time you will feel hungry. And guess what? Thats Okay!
To GAIN weight (i.e. muscle) you need to be in a consistent calorie surplus. Which means that sometimes you will feel full and you still need to eat, even if you're not hungry. And guess what? Thats totally fine!
If you are in FAT LOSS MODE then your focus should be to eat LOW CALORIE, NUTRIENT DENSE whole foods. Why? Because they provide essential nutrients & vitamins to fuel your body to move & train, its the most effective way to blunt hunger, they can be created into tasty meals which satisfy you & prevent cravings for sugar & shit, and they will fill you up, whilst remaining in a calorie deficit. This can include, but is not limited to: Oats (yes, I did say CARBS, because you can eat carbohydrate and lose fat!), Green Soup (CARBS), Strawberries/Blueberries (FRUIT also CARBS), Fish (PROTEIN), Poultry (PROTEIN), Eggs (PROTEIN), Greek Yoghurt (PROTEIN), Cottage Cheese (PROTEIN), Spinach/Broccoli (GREENS).
If you are in trying to GAIN more lean muscle mode then you should eat HIGH CALORIE and not very filling foods so that you can eat more, without feeling like you're going to explode and maintain your calorie surplus. This can include, but is not limited to: Avocado (FATS), Nut Butter (FATS), Quality Red Meats (PROTEIN), Rice (CARBS), Granola (CARBS), Full Fat Milk/Yoghurt (FAT).
Thats not to say that these lists are exhaustive, or that you can/can't eat things in the other camp. One of the reasons I avoid giving clients prescriptive Nutrition plans where I tell you exactly what to eat is because rather than tell you what to do, I prefer to help you to understand HOW it works and that whatever is 'best' for the individual largely depends on you then individual, because despite what social media might have you believe ONE SIZE definitely doesn't fit all. There isn't really a RIGHT or WRONG way, some people choose to eat meat, others are vegan. And thats cool. There are no BAD or CLEAN foods - be careful with health food halos, that would have you believe that because you bought it in a Wholefoods store and its organic/gluten free/vegan its also healthy and calorie free. Nope.
Take home message here? Stick to the basic principals for whatever MODE you're in. You can eat carbs and fruit if you're trying to lose fat as long as you maintain a consistent CALORIE DEFICIT. Protein sources and fats fit well on both sides. Finally, its not fancy. Its not magic nor does it guarantee FAST results (or Jessica Enis abs in a week) in 7 days. But it is realistic and sustainable. And it works.
More to come...
e**The 5 BEST Exercises for RAPID & EFFECTIVE Fat Loss**
1. Track your daily calories.
2. Track your daily calories.
3. Track your daily calories.
Surprised? Disappointed? If you were expecting quick fix exercises I apologise. But heres the truth : its important that you understand that REAL progress takes a TON of effort (by you), time and patience. There is NO 21 day fix. There is no pill or potion that will burn fat or dissolve fat from your chosen areas and keep it off for life. There is NO fast track to success. And anyone who tells you or sells you that there is, is not being truthful.
NOTE: There are rare occasions when rapid fat loss methods might have a time and a place within a well designed nutrition plan. But these are not long term solutions or sustainable plans and I wouldn't recommend this for anyone with a history of dieting. disordered or emotional eating. They are not a quick fix, and at some point you need to switch to something that you can sustain and follow so that you can continue to make progress and maintain your weight in the long term.
In the Nutrition workshops we have been discussing about how tracking your nutrition (via MyFitnessPal) along with consistency & accountability is essential if you are in PROGRESS (i.e. Fat Loss or muscle gain) Mode or Maintenance Mode. Why? Because fitness & health is a life long process. No matter how lean or strong you are, there is always room for some improvement, more to learn and an option for a better you.
Thinking that you will be happy & fulfilled when you reach a certain weight or size is not practical. And its not how it works. Happiness isn't attached to a number on the scales. If you don't love or like who you are right now, it won't suddenly be different when you're xx kg lighter/lose the belly/reduce the cellulite.
Instead, get ready for a journey of ups & downs, highs & lows. The long haul. Because when you start the process to a Fitter, Healthier, Leaner & Stronger you, you're in it for life. And enjoy it! If you hate every second or can't wait to finish the 'diet' you aren't going to last.
So, what am I saying here. Whats the take home message?
Don't look for a quick fix. And don't sign up for a rapid results guaranteed programme.
Instead, identify your goal, commit to CHANGE, be prepared to put the effort in, consistently and be patient. And I promise you will see the RESULTS.
More coming ......
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!
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.
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.