It's mid morning and you've made a coffee and eaten a few chocolate biscuits. Eh, it's a few biscuits, it's not much (2 biscuits = 160 calories)
You have lunch. It was tasty and you need something sweet so you take a mini pack of Haribos
It's no big deal, it's just a few sweets laying around and it's a small packet (85 calories).
It's afternoon time and you need your coffee... and a few more chocolate biscuits
You know you had some earlier but 2 more won't hurt (160 calories)
Ah, end of the working day!
You've had dinner, kicked your feet up
Time for a glass of wine (130 calories)
You get bored watching Netflix.... hmm, what can you find to snack on
You remember you have some almonds .... one handful is alright and they're healthy for you (160 calories)
A few days later, you've forgotten all about those snacks ...and the ones you have most days. You know you had 1 chocolate biscuit with your coffee and you always enjoy your evening wine but apart from that you've been eating healthy so it's all good.
Add that sort of mindless snacking up over a long time and you are confused and frustrated as to why you're eating healthy and working out but your weight just isn't shifting.
You can't figure it out at all.
It doesn't sound much as you read through yet those snacks and drinks added up to nearly 700 extra calories!
If some of this is ringing true with the snacking through the day, it's possible those calories keep sneaking up on you and getting in the way of you losing weight.
In that case give this a try:
Give yourself a guideline to not snack between meals
A guideline isn't a hard rule that you must follow. It's a suggestion to help you catch yourself if you find you're mindlessly reaching for the chocolate biscuits or sweets.
It might seem too simple... effective doesn't have to be grand, complicated gestures - just stuff that works.
As we get closer to Christmas, life can get more hectic and busy.
Unfortunately as we get busier, it's easier for our eating to slip
Do you find this happens to you?
If so, I wanted to give you a few ideas for easy meals. The idea is even if you don't like the sounds of these it could get you thinking about simple meals you do like.
I know this is a bit of a longer post so I would say to save / bookmark it and refer back to.
The main point is getting you to think about what you like, what works for you and then plan ahead for it rather than fall back to takeaways or buying a load of rubbish food.
Once you think up a few meals you like, write them down on a list and keep it handy.
That way, you can easily refer to it for shopping lists or as a reminder.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Scrambled Eggs (on toast if preferred). You could use this as a base and easily add different combinations to it for example - salmon / ham / any combination of peppers, olives, mushrooms
2. Omelettes. As with above, these can easily be made with any combination of peppers, olives, onion, mushrooms / some meat and SOME cheese added in / can have a sauce or condiment added to liven it up such as some salsa
3. Any combination of meat, starchy carb and veg. There are so many possibilities here:
- Meats: Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Salmon, Lamb, Pork, Fish & Seafood.
1 serving size is around the size of your palm. Try around 1 - 2 palms.
- Starchy carbs: Potato (boiled, oven roasted, jacket potato etc), rice (doesn't matter if it's brown, white, jasmine, wild etc), parsnips, pasta, lentils, butternut squash, beans such as kidney beans
1 serving size is around the size of your cupped hand. Try around 1 - 3 cupped hands
- Veg: As many as you can think of, particularly green veg
1 serving size is around the size of your fist. Try around 1 - 3 servings.
Side note: you can wash, chop and prepare a whole bunch of veg and then freeze for a later time
Side side note: Don't want to prep veg as you're too busy then cheat! Buy frozen veg or those packs you can stick in a microwave. The difference between them all is negligible and comes down to taste and preference.
Side side side note: If that sounds bland then a) it's quick fix ideas, not necessarily a long term thing and b) think of spices and rubs you can add to the meats to make them a lot more tasty and brighten up the meals.
4. Stews and Casseroles: These are brilliant for chucking in a lot of veg and some meat then cooking in bulk. Most can then be frozen for later use - so if you know in advance when you'll be busy, you can make these ahead of time and just defrost as needed.
5. Yoghurt with a few extra's thrown in. This is particularly useful for 5 minute breakfasts. Some yoghurt you like and add in fruit, especially berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberry and 1 or 2 pieces of dark chocolate (one or two PIECES, not 1 or 2 bars!)
6. Big ass salads! Lots of green leafy veg, salady type veg like cucumber, tomatoes, beetroot, cress, onion, peppers, avocado, egg, grated carrot. Can have salads on their own or cook up some meat and have with the salad
I would say to be careful of adding too many things like croutons as they will sky rocket the calories
Vinaigrettes can be a nice addition
Putting the salad and some meat in a tortilla also makes for a nice wrap
There are 6 different idea to help give you some inspiration for easy, straight forward meals.
Some of them can literally be prepped, cooked and done in minutes and some will take longer and can be made in bulk for a few meals.
These are some ideas to play around with. You may not like all the ideas and that's cool.
The point is to get you thinking and planning ahead so you are prepared for when life gets busy.
1) List out foods and simple meals you like
2) Keep that list handy and visible
3) Use it as a reference for making shopping lists
4) Use it for when you know you are going to be busy
5) The list isn't set in stone. You can add to it and remove from it based on time of year and your mood.
There's no shortage of fitness and health information at your fingertips right now.
Anything you can think of from exercise knowledge and workout ideas to nutrition can be looked up and used.
Even on my FB / Insta / Website there's loads of practical information.
But sometimes the problem you have is putting that knowledge into action.
Taking that first step.
And then continuing to take those steps forward.
That's where having an accountability partner can really help to get you started and keep you moving in the right direction.
It doesn't have to be difficult to find a partner or a group and work together. It could be:
- people from work
- family & friends
- your partner
- from a club / group you belong to
- Hiring a personal trainer
- From the gym or fitness class
You can ask them directly or put a post up on your personal FB, IG, etc
I belong to a few fitness groups where I've seen people post for accountability partners and had plenty of responses
If you want to go it alone, make yourself a tracking spreadsheet and keep it visible as a reminder. Then work on taking ownership of it and keeping yourself accountable.
Lots of possible ideas to consider and it might make the difference between you sitting there only reading about exercises & workouts and actually getting up and doing them.
Two common misconceptions about motivation are:
1) You should feel highly motivated all the time
2) You need motivation to do a job / task / workout / chore
There is quite a lot of information and theory behind motivation but for the purposes of keeping this post simple and useable for you:
1) Motivation ebbs and flows - Think of the seaside, you have periods of high tide and periods of low tide. Your motivation is the same - it comes and goes - so you will have periods of high motivation and periods of low motivation
This is perfectly normal for everyone.
The key is understanding this and realising you won't feel motivated all the time and that you still need to work towards your goals.
2) Try starting the job / task / chore / workout first - Linked to the above point, you will have periods where you're not motivated to do something and you don't want to start.
However, work on putting that feeling aside and starting the thing you need to do - whether it is a job; a task or a workout.
Give it about 5 - 10 minute of getting into the work and often times, you'll feel more motivated and then want to get it finished.
After it is done, give yourself praise for the completion despite not necessarily feeling like it.
Since the second lockdown announcement, I've seen a lot of negative comments about exercising and eating.
Generally along the lines of:
"Oh great, now I can't exercise"
"My gym has closed so I can't do anything"
"I can't exercise so I'll just starve myself" (Note: If you are genuinely considering ideas of starving yourself to maintain or lose weight, I would recommend speaking to a professional. It doesn't have to be that way.)
I get it, it's all too easy to go straight to focusing on the negative of a situation (and it is a shit situation) and jumping to an extreme.
However, in rushing quickly to that mindset you shut yourself down from thinking up actual solutions which can help you.
The easiest way is to start this change is by asking yourself "How can I?" type questions.
It's a simple question that helps to shift your focus and perspective from shutting down ideas to thinking up ideas.
In action, it would look like this:
Instead of saying "My gym is closed, I can't exercise"
Try asking yourself "My gym is closed, how can I continue to exercise?"
Instead of saying "I can't work towards my goals"
Try asking yourself "How can I continue to train and eat towards my goals?"
When you find yourself only focusing on the negatives. Stop for a moment and try asking yourself "How can I" type questions and making a note of all the answers you can think of.
And I mean give it some proper thought too. Not 5 seconds of "oh I can't think of anything, I give up". Keep working on that question and see what ideas you can generate.
After you have thought up some ideas, read through them and see what ones you feel you could try which would help and put them into action.
You decide to get in shape
You start eating better
You start working out
Then life happens. Something gets in the way and you hit a proverbial brick wall.
Your plans go crashing out and you give up.
Does that sound familiar?
A powerful tool in helping you to achieve your goals is planning for obstacles.
This is because we have a tendency to think "Everything is going perfectly, so I will do.... "
And unfortunately, life does have a habit of taking a giant poo all over that way of thinking because something will always come up.
Whether that is a going out for a meal, going to a birthday party with lots of sweets and cakes, feeling stressed and wanting a massive takeaway or your gym having to be shut down.
Figure out the events (when they are allowed to happen again, obviously), or issues that are likely to come up that could mess with your progress.
This is because once you have defined the issue, you get a clearer picture on why this will get in your way and you can start to think up ways to deal with it.
Then, you don't sabotage your own progress and give up because things stopped being perfect.
So the takeaway points are:
1) You know what you would like to achieve
2) Write down somewhere, the obstacles that are likely to come up or have come up already that mess with your progress
3) Then think up ways you could deal with those issues in a way that allow you to continue making progress towards your goals.
One of the best ways to guarantee you will struggle with your fitness goals right now is to be stuck in a rigid mindset.
A rigid mindset is one where you have a tendency to make a choice based on one extreme or the other.
You create a false dichotomy in your mind that there are only two choices.
All or nothing.
You might have gone through this same situation with the first lockdown and just started to get back into working out. Or decided to start working out after the lockdown ended.
With a 2nd lockdown happening very soon and gyms and fitness studios shutting down for the next month, you might be inclined to think:
"If I can't go to the gym then I can't workout at all"
This doesn't have to be the case.
Instead of thinking gym vs do nothing, think of everything in between you could do instead right now.
For example, the options could be more like this:
- Commercial gym
- Kitted out home gym
- Home workouts with some weights
- Home workouts with some weights and bodyweight
- Home workouts with some bands and bodyweight
- Home workouts with bodyweight
- Mini home workouts
- Stretching and mobility sessions
- Going outside for a walk
- Getting up during the day and moving around
- Do nothing
There could be other options you think up that sit in that scale of options too, for example training outdoors.
The point is, don't get stuck into thinking it's the gym or nothing.
There are always other options.
This might seem an obvious tip to some, however it is easy to make this error if you're not being aware of what you're eating and the calories the food contains.
I've seen it all too often where someone or a group of people are working out and then head out the gym to the nearest Costa or Starbucks (or any cafe etc for that matter) .
They wait in line and order a coffee and, "oooh that muffin looks tasty, what's the harm?"
Important: If it's a one-time thing, to be honest no real harm. Go and enjoy the muffin, seriously!
Also Important: If it's a regular thing then it can be a possible stumbling block to your progress.
Well it's about being aware of the calories you're consuming and how that can impact your goals.
The overall idea behind losing weight is to be in a calorie deficit.
There are lots of training and eating methods and ways to achieve this.
Ultimately they still all come down to creating that deficit.
As the picture says:
A hard workout can burn approx 500 - 600 calories in an hour.
However, you go into Costa:
Coffee: Around 100 - 150 calories
Innocent looking tasty muffin: Around 420 - 480 calories
If you don't believe me, Costa and Starbucks have a pdf on their websites listing the calorie contents of all their foods and drinks.
If you're working out hard in the gym and then having a treat afterwards, that could be offsetting a lot of the calories you've just been burning.
After several weeks, when you stand on the scale or take measurements, you might not notice much difference despite all the hard work you've been doing. Leading to frustration.
If it was me, I would go and have the coffee (caffeine make the world go round) and drop the treats.
Something to keep in mind if you're in the habit of doing this or something similar.
If you can, try to reduce or drop the treats and only have them occasionally. This could make quite a difference for you.
I've seen a lot of 30 day challenges pop up. They can be fun and a good way to pass some time and improve your fitness.
The question is:
Great, you've done a 30 day challenge, what about day 31?
Say you've just finished the 30 day squat challenge. You've done 250 squats on day 30. How many squats do you plan on doing on day 31?
Say you've just finished the 30 day plank challenge. You've held the front plank for 5 minutes on day 30. How long do you plan on holding it for on day 31?
Say you've just done a 30 day transformation. You've been told what to eat. what not to eat. What MLM supplements to buy. You've lost a few pounds and been given 10% off your next order. What are you going to eat and do on day 31?
This doesn't just stop at 30 day challenges. 6, 8, 12 week diet plans are similar. If you complete a 6-week diet that was shitty to get through as it cut out all the foods you liked. What is your plan for week 7?
For many people, the answer is usually along the lines of "nothing, I'm glad it's over" for the exercise challenges or "what I was eating and doing before" for the transformation challenges.
And there is the problem.
Once the challenge is over, you go back to doing what you were doing before and slip back to square one.
Maybe you wait for the next challenge to come along and yo-yo yourself through it again.
The thing is, it's not your fault.
These challenges look and sound fun at the time and you might get a kick out of them.
But, they are only ever designed as a gimmick, a very short term unsustainable "solution" or as a gateway to get you hooked on buying certain products.
If this sounds familiar, ask yourself "What did I really learn and achieve in that challenge or diet?"
And if you do find yourself continually back at square one, ask yourself "How can I approach this differently to stop yo'yo'ing?"
It means working on areas such as mindset, education and skills.
The things that aren't flashy enough for a 30 day challenge (and usually take longer to master) but build long-lasting skills, habits and approaches to reduce the chances of yo-yo'ing.
Here are some of the things I mean:
Working on self-image; self talk; your goals and reasons why; understanding the time and work it takes - not just for 30 days but long after that; reducing that all-or-nothing mentality; understand that once you reach goals they need to be maintained
EDUCATION & SKILLS
Understanding the calories in the food and drink you consume; portion sizes; how to fit in the foods you enjoy without feeling guilty (it can be done); exercise techniques and progressions; exercise substitutions; building better habits to support your goals, learning your triggers
This is what works to help you make sustainable changes and maintain them for the long term.
Yes, I will plug my services here as these are the types of issues I help to coach people through in my online training services.
Not with fad diets, restrictive eating and unsustainable exercise regimes but working with you and your lifestyle to make changes to support your goals.
I'll leave you with one final question to ask yourself as you sign up for another 30 day challenge or buy another restrictive eating diet book:
Look back on all those 30 day challenges and all those diets you've tried and didn't stick with and honestly ask yourself "How have they been working for me so far?"
It's a strange title
I mean - motivation
It's what drives you to do the exercise. Yo eat well. Do all the fitness stuff.
So why would it be a bad thing to have too much of it?
I was listening to something the other day which made me think about how when you want to get in shape, your motivation is super high and without realising, can easily set you up for failure.
Let's take a random person, we'll call her Kate.
Kate is unhappy with how she's looking, how she's feeling and wants to lose weight and tone up.
Kate buys a diet book.
Buys workout clothes.
Joins the local gym.
Everything is new, fresh and shiny and this gives Kate a huge motivation boost.
She's going to conquer it alllllllllllllll!
In this high motivation mood, Kate sets out her plan:
1) Quit all junk food
2) Eat only healthy foods
3) Exercise every day
4) No, wait, twice every day!
5) Get 8 hours of sleep every night
6) Drink 2 - 3 litres of water everyday
Do you think this is realistic or very over-committed?
Is this something you're guilty of doing in the past?
How long do you think this could really last before something slips?
And the problem is, many people like Kate are prone to an all or nothing mindset
"It must be 100% all the way or not at all"
Let's fast forward a few weeks:
Real life has gotten in the way (which the bugger always does), motivation has dropped and Kate hasn't been able to go to the gym every day. She's tired from a long day at work and that boiled broccoli with plain grilled chicken breast doesn't seem worth the effort.
So fuck it. Takeaway.
Then the slippery slope happens.
Gym visits tail off
Junk food creeps back in
Kate ends up back at square one or slightly worse shape.
A better way would be to leave yourself slightly wanting.
Keep some of that hunger to get in shape inside you.
What do I mean?
Say you tell yourself "I'm going to exercise every day!".
How about setting a more realistic target of "I'm going to exercise 2 - 3 times a week"
That way, if everything is optimal and you can get to the gym more times, it's a bonus. If you can only get to the gym 2 - 3 times, you're on track with your plan.
Say you tell yourself "I'm going to stop eating all junk food and only eat healthy food!"
How about setting a more realistic target of "I'm going to limit my takeaway to 1 every 2 weeks and eat healthy meals 50 - 70% of the time"
It gives you some wiggle room if you get caught out or have some snacks. If you can do better for a period of time, bonus! If you can stick to the more realistic plan, it's still helping you to make progress.
If you're guilty of being a bit over-ambitious when you're feeling super motivated to achieve a goal, ask yourself:
a) is this something I am really going to stick to?
b) what could I tone this down to that I know I can definitely stick to and make progress?
This is my, mostly, Personal Trainer musings and information which I hope you'll find helpful!