Losing 10 pounds

I am a huge Jillian Michaels fan and I thought this post on how to lose the last 10 pounds, with a simple circuit to follow, would be a good idea for January. Losing the excess holiday weight and getting your fitness back on track can be tough, so have a read of these simple tips and try out the circuit. Add it into your regular cardio (you are doing cardio?), not hours, but a few good workouts a week should help those pounds drop off.

Keep going when you get demotivated. It’s just a bad day, we all have them! Don’t dwell – you can achieve whatever you set your mind to

Are you eating enough?

Trying to lose weight? Cutting calories? Sometimes counting calories can help – other people prefer to use portion control. Either way, cut back too far and you may find the weight doesn’t come down.

Scales are not the only measurement you should take – are you losing fat and gaining muscle? Losing inches? All this could be making you healthier without the scales moving at all.

But, if you are not seeing ANY changes at all, perhaps you should consider checking you are eating enough. Yes it may sound counter-productive, but not eating enough could be causing your body to go into starvation mode. Self preservation from times when food really was scarce meant we used to store any food we did eat as fat to ensure survival. We don’t need to do that now – there are food shops open 24/7, however our bodies still work on that system. If we don’t feed it regularly, with good nutrition, then it will store whatever it gets as fat, and it won’t let go until it has a regular food supply…..by which time you’ve stored up fat and have to work really hard to lose it!

Take a look at these signs you might not be eating enough and make changes to ensure you are looking after your body and not storing excess fat.

Working hard but can’t shift the pounds?

I am sure most people trying to lose a few pounds have wondered why they can’t shift it. Could you change up the workout? If you always do the same thing then your muscles adapt and the body is more efficient – using less energy, and therefore burning less calories. Or maybe it’s your diet? A few tweaks could make all the difference. Work smart, eat well and be consistent.

Have a look at these tips! 

Simple tweaks to healthy eating

There is nothing new here in the advice – eat more veg, drink less caffeine and more water etc. However, I do like the way it’s written, which seems to resonate more than most of these features do.

The advice to include dark chocolate (70% or more) every day, because it means you have a ‘treat’ but it’s actually of some nutritious benefit and it focuses on ‘me time’. Meaning you have to stop what you’re doing for a few minutes. There are other useful tips and explanations which could work for you, to make that day a little healthier (without being too hard, dull or unrealistic). Have a read here.

Gaining weight – the healthy way

At this time of year most people are trying to lose the excess weight gain from overdoing the festive foods and drinks. But, for some gaining weight is as tough and as important for their health, it may sound fun to some – the idea of eating without a concern for the calorie content, but not so good for overall health. This feature highlights the healthy way to gain some weight, using healthy food and exercise. 

Vegan eating

Veganism is something I have been interested in for a while – though not successfully implemented it yet, but maybe I will try it out after reading this interesting feature.

It’s not for weight loss but good health, although I would never recommend cutting out any food group (unless you were advised on medical grounds), but maybe trying this out for one or two days a week could help your general health.

Healthy habits

Sticking to a detox/diet/clean eating plan of any sort takes lots of willpower. And at this time of year it’s even harder…

These tips show how a few simple tweaks to your everyday life can make all the difference. A bit more exercise (easy – walking around Christmas shopping!), cutting down on treats (but not cutting them out so you can still have the odd mince pie), and swapping your daily fix of coffee to a healthier option (you can still have coffee  just reduce the size or extra syrup/toppings).

And don’t forget to get your health checks done – knowing what’s going on inside will help you make the right choices for you.

30 days of healthy habits

As party season gets ever closer, these simple tips could help you keep healthy (or at least stop some of the excess before it gets out of hand) in the run up.

A simple tip each day – should be possible for even the most busy person! Give it a try – and reward yourself (not with food) for completing the challenge.

Sugar Sugar

I admit I have a sweet tooth. Most of the time I keep it under control…or so I think.. Then I read this, I am sure I (like most of us), have more than I think. This simple 7-day plan helps you focus on where you get the sugar fix from and sets you daily tasks to nip it in the bud, It actually looks achievable…..Why not give it a try, might help you get those sweet cravings under control in time for Christmas (when the sweet stuff is in supply 24/7),

80/20

The rule you hear is 80% diet and 20% exercise to lose weight, but is that right?

Well yes cutting out unhealthy options will ensure you are able to lose some of those pounds – but it’s a battle. By adding in exercise you can rev up your metabolism and help your body burn the stored fat. It also means you don’t have deprive yourself of everything you like. So the truth is you need both!

Have a read and see how you can incorporate small changes into your daily life to get you to your goal.

Cutting calories

Calories are not created equal, the nutritional value of a chocolate bar, sugar-laden latte or bag of crisps, will not do anything good for your body but eating the same amount of calories in eggs, wholegrain toast, spinach or avocado and tomatoes, will offer you protein, fibre and carbohydrate – all things your body actually needs.

But, I appreciate that sometimes a treat or two is in order. Choosing wisely can save you (over) eating calories you don’t need. Here are some simple fixes to give you a treat but without adding in too many extra calories. 

Reach your goal

Reaching your goal, whatever it may be, can seem impossible at times. This article has some great tips and inspiration from people who set their goals and met them. Everyone has a different method, finding one (or a few) that work for you will help you stay on track until you get there…and you will.

Remember it will take time and effort, but if you don’t make any changes, then nothing will change. Take inspiration and beat that goal!

Breakfast time

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, I even have it for dinner sometimes. But, if you’ve had a big night out, skipping breakfast means you can undo some of the over-eating of the night before doesnt it? No! Usually what happens is you end up making unhealthy choices instead for the rest of the day. So why not try one of these options, not only will they fill you up (and therefore less likely to hit the sugary snacks), but they healthy and tasty choices which will get you back on track!

Post-baby habits

Every mum I know will relate to some (if not all) of these points. Trying to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans can seem like an impossible task when you’re sleep deprived, rushing from one feed, nappy change or appointment. But, it takes 9 months and lot of work for your body to create and nuture a baby, it’s going to take at least that to recover!

Hopefully this article will highlight a few pitfalls and maybe you can avoid them! Small changes each day will make it easier to manage to lose weight slowly as you recover from pregnancy.

How much weight should you lose in a month?

Put your mind to it and you can lose weight, however, it depends on what you’re willing to do – extreme diets are out there for people who want to follow a crazy plan that promises huge weight loss. But long term, it’s unlikely to stay off or keep you healthy.

I tell clients to be realistic – you don’t want to be miserable, cutting out food groups, not being able to join friends for a meal out or worse, make yourself ill. So take it slow!

This article highlights the small changes you can make that will help you lose a few pounds in a month. No it’s not a huge amount – but if these small tweaks (and others you can think of relevant to your life), can make the weight come off without changing your life to the point of misery, then the slow steady process has to be better.

Keep it simple – don’t cut back so much that you are hangry but make a few simple changes that will soon add up to bigger ones. Guidelines for healthy weight loss are 0.5lbs-1.5lbs a week.

Tips for a healthy balanced life

There are hundreds of tips for weight loss, some better than others, but some of these tips are just good common sense, or helpful hints for a general healthier lifestyle, whatever your goals are.

This article does that too, some of the points such as getting more sleep, changing your workout routine and eating from smaller plates, are useful and well-known tips. However, being reminded to focus on our daily non-exercise based activities are a simple way to keep us healthier. For people who don’t like gyms, this is a godsend – if you like walking, gardening or spend a lot of time doing chores – it all counts! Just keep active!

Hard work makes you hangry

Working out first thing in the morning is not only a great way to start the day, but it makes sure you get your exercise in before the day really gets under way (and therefore less likely to skip it). But, you could undo your hard work if you get too hungry post workout.

These tips highlight the pitfalls and suggest easy solutions to fix them.  You know that pre and post workout eating is important, but what should you eat? Have you  had enough sleep and drank enough water… All these little things can help ensure you don’t eat more than you work off! Which means results will come quicker.

Boost your metabolism

As we get older we notice many outward changes, but just as many happen on the inside. A particularly annoying one is that our metabolism slows – which can help cause weight gain. Unfortunately the usual reaction to weight gain, is to try to lose it, but a slower metabolic rate makes it much harder.

While reading, I saw this article and how to help yourself, not all of the points are groundbreaking, but there are some very interesting points which could help. Such as, lifting weights (nothing new – we are constantly being reminded we need to increase bone density, better posture etc), but what about doing it in the morning – setting your metabolism up for the day. Small changes could make a difference. Definitely worth a try!

What’s your daily calorie need?

Have you worked out your calorie needs? It is worth doing because too few calories can damage your weight loss goals, yes you know that eating too much causes weight gain, but if you under eat your body doesn’t know when it’s next getting the fuel it needs – so it stores fat to keep protect itself from possible starvation….

Hmm that’s not going to do much for any weight loss plan is it? So if you are cutting calories make sure you try out this calculator and figure out your daily needs first – and don’t forget to review it after you’ve lost weight or are exercising more. Any major change will mean your body has different requirements.

Workout nutrition

For people into serious training the nutrition element is really important, this article talks you through, pre, during and post workout nutrition, including supplements. 

While supplements might not be something you’re interested in, the article gives a good explanation of what your body needs and the reason why.

At the very least, consider the pre and post workout nutrition of protein and carbohydrate to help your work out and recovery.

Non-diet diet tips

Sounds good…. Sometimes concentrating too much on what you’re not having makes it even harder, so how about living a healthier lifestyle, improving fitness, losing weight or just improving your general mood as a by product of a few tips that make you feel good?

Try these tips and see what a difference it makes.

Break your work day up with a walk. Yep even a few minutes every few hours, walking around the office will improve your overall health and can help reduce the risk of later life chronic conditions. To take it further, take the stairs, walk or cycle your commute (or part of it).

Water as you know is vital, but drinking it plain for some people is just too dull. Add in pieces of fruit – berries, lime, lemon, mint, cucumber – whatever you life, if it tastes good you’re more likely to keep hydrated.

Watch an hour less TV a day…. What if you used that time to do gardening or house chores (burning calories while you’re at it), spent time with friends or family, went for a walk? It would give you a bit more time to hit the gym too…..

Most importantly, spend less time being critical of yourself. Too much time telling yourself you aren’t able to do something or you can only do it/wear it/be it if you lose weight isn’t going to help you achieve your goal – it will only help stop you. Be your own cheerleader.

 

Skipping meals

The body needs fuel for energy – the source is food. If you skip a meal it means you have less energy and the body has to start relying on sources already within itself. Doesn’t sound too bad, but this video shows what happens the longer you go without food.

Everyone has skipped a meal at some stage, sometimes because you have to (blood test, operation or sickness etc) but don’t do it out of choice – plan meals and snacks for while you’re out about.

Sadly some people in this world don’t have the choice, severe illness or by being born into a country that is seriously deprived, they have to make the best of what they can get. They wouldn’t willingly allow this to happen to their body.

As the video says  – the human body is amazing so help it perform to the best of its’ ability.

Eat right & Workout – not just for weight loss!

If every you need motivation to keep up the healthy lifestyle, this article can help.  It highlights so many benefits to eating well and exercising regularly. There are the obvious ones you’ve heard a million times, but what about improving your self esteem, boosting your sex life, having better sleep, clearer skin and reducing mental health issues.

There are so many more reasons, not just to beat the scales (or beat yourself up about them). It’s not all about weight loss – there are so many positive health benefits for your everyday life (and for your family too).

Why do people have Personal Trainers?

Sometimes it may seem like an indulgent expense. Everyone has their own reason – mostly it’s because if someone else tells the what to do they will do it! But this article points out why you might want to consider it and what you should consider. Cost is one issue but most trainers do offer deals on block bookings and added value by including nutritional support.

If you feel inspired contact me!

Carb myths

This article (a long read) highlights many of the myths around carbs, explaining why they are myths. Carbs are a macronutrient – one of the building blocks to a healthy diet, the unhealthy aspects are – processed, sugar-laden, nutrient void carbs that we eat as ‘treats’. There is a big difference, understanding that difference will help you create a balanced healthy diet without the need for faddy diets you can’t keep to.

Not all carbs are created equal, it’s a case of choosing the right ones to fuel your body, fruit and veg are carbs, and are a healthier option than say white bread, but wholegrain breads, rice and pasta can also provide you with good quality energy from carbohydrate too.

Have a read and learn why you shouldn’t believe all the things you hear about carbs.

GOAL!

So when you’ve hit your fitness/weight goal – what happens? It’s hard to know how to maintain – you’ve spent so long trying to achieve the goal, to finally make it (or at least this goal), you need to learn what to do next – this article keeps it simple and achievable.

But don’t forget to set yourself another goal – it keeps you motivated, ideally something that keeps you fit and healthy without excess. Maybe take part in a charity event or become a workout buddy to a friend that needs a little extra motivation……

Eating post workout

So you hit the gym for an hour, worked hard, and you’re really hungry, but haven’t planned ahead……

You’ve probably made at least one of these mistakes, as highlighted by Women’s Health. .

Eating a pre-planned snack or meal (depending on the time of your session) is key, you need to replenish your body with healthy food, but sometimes (and we’ve all done it), what we actually do isn’t always the best option.

 

Fat loss blunders

I came across this article, yes another one telling us where we go wrong when trying to lose the fat – but it also includes useful suggestions about how to avoid those pitfalls.

Simple, useful advice, some of it is obvious, but sometimes the most obvious solutions are the ones we forget about.

Counting macros

If you are interested in nutrition and want to take your healthy eating to another level, then you may have looked into macronutrients – the building blocks of any healthy diet.

Counting macros can be complicated, so most people end up focusing on protein (they help repair and build muscle), but to do it properly you need to take into account all macros, this guide has some helpful tips to get you started.

Weight loss blocks

Easter is over, the eggs have been eaten. Now you’re getting back to your healthy lifestyle, but if that seems harder than usual – or Easter was a good excuse to let go because the plan wasn’t working, have a look at these tips.

Some are obvious and well documented, but did you know that your mental health may affect how successful you are with weight loss or that eating too little could cause you a problem, or that it could be your exercise regime.

 

 

Diet sabotage

We all have those days when healthy eating goes awry. One meal or one day of unhealthy eating isn’t going to sabotage all your good work – unless you let it. However, you might be sabotaging it without realising, a food diary can help you get back to your healthy habits, but even if you don’t compete one – just being more mindful of what you eat can help.

  1. Don’t eat in front of the TV
  2. Sleep well – studies show less than 6 hours sleep means you’re likely to eat more calories
  3. Don’t drink your calories – juices, soda, alcohol – all adds up
  4. Not eating enough – keeping yourself hungry – you’re more likely to make up for it later!
  5. skipping breakfast – eat plenty of protein and you’ll stay full for longer
  6. Mindless snacking – because you’re bored? It’s a habit?

We all do these from time to time – make a few tweaks and you should notice the difference.

Healthy changes to burn the fat

A few simple tweaks to your day could help you boost your metabolism, alone they won’t make you lose fat  instantly, but each day you keep making the healthy choices, eating right and working out hard, you will see results. Keep at it.

These tips don’t tell you anything ground breaking – but are a good reminder – eat your protein, try a harder workout than you usually do and drink more water. Simple tweaks = results.

What’s a diet meal?

There isn’t one, a good healthy diet includes everything you need – all your macronutrients in each meal/snack. Some people like calorie counting,, but others prefer portion control, which is hard to learn, but once you can visualise what the correct amount of food is (which will take a while so measure/weigh everything to begin with) it means you can create healthy meals and snacks.

If you’re stuck for ideas – here is a healthy eating plan based on approximately 1400 calories, but instead of exact calorie amounts, look at the weights and the variety of food suggested. I wouldn’t call this a ‘diet’, it’s healthy eating done well – all you need to do is adjust the quantities to fit your daily requirements – this calculator can help you work out yours.

Tip top health

If you’re confused by the ever-changing advice on nutrition, a few myths being blasted might help.

Frozen fruit and veg ARE good, they are frozen soon after harvest, which means they retain many nutrients and you can keep them for longer, limiting wastage. Opt for in-season produce when you can but supplementing with frozen is also a healthy option.

One size fits all – it doesn’t, so while you’re friend might find their diet plan works for them – it might not for you. You have to learn how to read your body….so you can adjust a plan to suit you.

Fat DOESN’T make you fat, good fats are essential for your diet and are one of the key three macronutrients – along with protein and carbohydrates.

Juices WON’T kickstart your metabolism, if you like them, and need to eat on the go, they can be useful. If you hate them, then just make sure you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Eating a balanced diet and exercising will keep your metabolism working efficiently.

Eggs are BAD – no, they have protein and good fats, and are an easy, versatile meal or snack. They don’t increase cholesterol levels, you may need to limit your intake if you already have a cholesterol problem, but even then it’s not proven that eggs have any effect on it.

Eating late makes you gain weight….well no, if you haven’t eaten enough all day, you may well overeat in the evening, but ultimately it’s energy (calories) in versus energy used. If you take in too much whatever time of day and you don’t use it, then you will gain.

 

Keep the carbs

This old chestnut! Carbs aren’t the enemy, they are one of the key macronutrients in your every day healthy eating plan. Consider the type you are eating…..avoid the sugary sweet ones… Wholegrains, fruit and veg all give you energy (the first choice of fuel for the body) and also include many vital vitamins.

Here are more reasons to eat them:

Brain power – your brain needs glucose (which it gets from carbs) to help it run properly. Low carb diets can leave you feeling a bit out of sorts – because your brain is struggling to think straight!

Carbs you need to eat such as whole grains, vegetables & fruits also contain fibre – which keeps you feeling full and encourage your body to eliminate waste (without bloating)

Happiness in carbs – most carbs contain tryptophan (and therefore Serotonin – referred to as the happy hormone). Eating foods rich in trptophan also help you sleep well (warm milk, turkey sandwich – both suggested for people struggling to sleep).

Good for your heart function and lowering cholesterol.

And if that’s not enough – they taste good too! Who wants chilli without rice or potato?

Eat your carbs – but choose wisely and watch your portion sizes!

Healthy snack decisions

Most people like a snack, there are conflicting views on if we should or shouldn’t snack. Some people don’t others can’t survive a day without a snack. More importantly, what you eat is key, especially when it comes to snacking. It’s not a meal (which should be balanced), a snack, to most people is a treat item, something to have on the go. Here are a few tips to help you decide if you should have that snack or not!

Will if fill you up? If not, you;re likely to keep on snacking. So make sure you base it around protein and fibre to fill you up (cheese and apple), or nuts (also full of good fats which keep you full). Keep it as real as possible – avoid processed treats which contain limited nutritious value. But make sure it’s something you like – no point having a snack you know is good for you but you don’t enjoy, you’ll just reach for something to give you another mood boost.

And don’t focus solely on calorie content, eating a snack that has valuable nutrient content, is less likely to harm the diet. 200 calories of chocolate and 200 calories of nuts have the same calorific value, but they differ hugely on value by your body and the affect they have on it.

Choose wisely and you can enjoy that mid afternoon snack!

Meal prep doesn’t have to be hard

More and more people talk about preparing their meals ahead of time. Not only does this make sense financially, limiting food wastage and saving you lots of time in the week – it is also a great way to keep on track with your healthy eating.  Having food ready, or almost ready makes those moments when you’re really hungry and tempted to tuck into something that could derail you less likely.

But how should you prepare? If you’re struggling to get your head around it – here are some suggestions to get you started.

Protein snacks

A couple of my clients have mentioned how hard it is to reach their protein goals, I have days when I find it harder too. When you look at the food you eat in a day, do you base snacks around carbs – try adding in some protein too and you should find it easier to hit your target.

One of the ways I do it, is by adding in protein shakes (using almond milk also helps me hit my calcium goal too). Not every day, but sometimes when I am on the go, they are an easy option. Here are some other ideas….

And if, like me, you want a sweet fix, here’s a healthier alternative to pud!

Chia chocolate mousse (ish)

Chia pud2tbsp of each – chia seeds, agave/maple syrup & cocoa powder

1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or other alternative)

1/2 tsp of vanilla flavouring

Simple – mix it all together (can take a while to blend it all in), this made enough for two. Put in the fridge for about 30 mins or overnight. And it will give you a chocolate fix when you need it.

Top Tips for change

If you really want results you need to make changes, everyone knows it, but it’s easy to underestimate quite how much change is needed. Here are a few simple pointers from Women’s Health which answer a few of the usual questions, such as how long until I see results and is age is a factor in your fitness level. Worth a read as it could just be the motivation you need to get started!

Fat Loss

Aiming to torch the fat can be hard work. It’s key to eat and exercise right, without going OTT. In the gym, you need to burn it off, 30 minutes on the treadmill will burn calories, but continuous training won’t really torch the fat. Add in some high intensity training, blasts of cardio that make your heart work harder – not only will it help you keep burning fat it will also increase your fitness level – and it can be done in 30 minutes or less. Don’t forget to cool down and stretch (to aid recovery and reduce DOMS).

To take it to the next level, add in weight training, if you don’t have time for one or the other add it together – mix some CV with weights (instead of rest), but be sure you work different muscles otherwise you’ll tire quickly and the workout won’t be so effective. How about high intensity jump squats into press ups. Alternating upper and lower body exercises means you should have an effective all over work out in no time. And you’ll burn fat, build lean muscle (which burns fat even after training) and all in less time.

Now to the food, it’s all well and good to burn fat in the gym. But if you don’t fuel your body well it will be for little gain, if you know how many calories you should be eating that’s great, remember to count everything from dressings to drinks – everything you eat has an effect (even the tiniest spoonful).

To get the most benefit you actually need to manage your macronutrients –  work out how much of each (protein, carbs, fat) you need to eat each day, focus on protein as this will repair and build lean muscle. For protein aim for 1-1.5g per pound of bodyweight (even if you aren’t going to count the rest this is a good start). So if you weigh 65kg, you need to eat 65-97g per day. Break it down to include it in every meal and snack.  Don’t fear the fat – healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, salmon and avocado are good – in moderation, and like protein, will help you feel full, among other benefits such as healthy skin, hair….

In short, cut out processed foods as much as possible, eat fresh foods (if you have a packet with a long ingredients list then it’s processed), save that for your cheat meal (if you want to), make sure you eat enough (too little and you will lack energy, and your body will hold onto fat). Focus on effective gym sessions – short and sweet, keep changing it to avoid boredom. Don’t believe the hype, sports drinks and bars aren’t necessary, use real food and if you are restricting food (to a healthy range – not less than 1200 calories a day for women), you might need to add in a supplement to cover the micronutrients. Ideally you’ll be eating well enough not to need this but sometimes a little extra help is required.

Workplace eating

Eating healthily at work can be tricky, we’ve all been in offices where birthdays, Christmas, Friday, Bank Holiday etc all become a reason for celebration and usually involve food (and not veg sticks). While the social interaction of these occasions is important for morale and team-building, they can cause contention for anyone wishing to avoid the sweet stuff.

Eat breakfast, if you turn up at work hungry, eating whatever is on offer is more likely, take a healthy snack too – you can join in the tea run, but avoid the pastries or cakes by eating your own snack. Or tell colleagues you’re just eaten, but will take one for later (to avoid questions or causing upset) and then bin it, or pass it on. Bringing in lunches and afternoon snacks will also help you keep control over how much you eat in a day.

If you’re eating out with work, check the menu online so you can make a healthier choice before you arrive (and are less likely to be swayed into unhealthy choices), being on the road with work can also be a minefield. Take snacks with you and try to avoid the motorway services (unless you can go to one which offers more than just fast food places).

And sometimes, have that treat, just limit how often or how much. It’s important to have balance and not beat yourself up.

All in the mind

Mindfulness is a hot topic, but it’s not just about meditation, it can be used in all aspects of life. Ever been to the gym without a plan in mind? Or to the shops without a list? Quite often you end up with disappointing results – but if you spent a few minutes planning what you wanted to achieve you would get better results.

Most health professionals would agree that time spent planning and thinking about the results you want, will help you stick to realistic goals. If you want to lead a healthy balanced lifestyle, which means no more fad diets, then you need to plan and keep it in mind when making decisions, from the weekly shopping, being at work, eating out or to snacks on the go.

Mindful eating isn’t a fad diet, it doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself of favourites, it’s about thinking about the choices you make, enjoying your food, eating food you like (just less often with the treat things) and be realistic. Can you keep eating this way for a week or a month? If not then how can you stick to it for a lifetime? Make small changes that will lead to a healthier way of life and the end of ‘dieting’ stresses. Has to be worth a go…..

Body fat vs Weight

One can have an effect on the other, but how much body fat you carry is actually more important than what you weigh. You may have heard the line – muscles weigh more than fat, but that’s not correct, 1lb of fat weighs the same as 1lb of muscle. The difference is 1lb of muscle looks smaller and firmer than the fat – which takes up more room and more importantly, excess fat is bad for your health.

Losing body fat can be tricky, it takes a concerted effort to eat and exercise well consistently to see results. To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit, however, to lose body fat, it’s got to be the right balance of macronutrients. If you need to eat 2500 calories a day to maintain your weight then anything less will mean weight loss, 2000 calories of processed foods high in sugar will mean you lose weight – but it won’t reduce body fat and will (in the long term) badly affect your health. It’s about making the right choices.

Monitoring both body fat and weight (without being obsessive) will ensure you lose fat and find a healthy weight you can maintain. If you’ve built muscle from your exercise routine you may well look leaner but weight slightly more.

Remember that overestimating calories burned and underestimating calories eaten will hinder your results – keep a food diary. Weigh in once a week (ideally with a scale that measures bodyfat too), keep hydrated and be consistent – you’ll get there!

 

Dieting a step too far

It’s January, ads are everywhere for weight loss plans, and you’re on one, but are you taking it too far?  Here are a few pointers in case you are….

  1. Over drinking – water is key to the body, however, water isn’t a meal substitute and won’t give you all the nutrients you need. The chances are you’ll end up overeating because you’ll be so hungry you won’t know when to stop (and that will lead to weight gain). Drinking water before a meal can help you reduce your portion size as well as keeping you hydrated, but learn to listen to your body – and eat if you are hungry.
  2. Don’t cut out anything, an all or nothing plan will mean you crave anything you have deemed ‘naughty’. Plan in cheat meals (if you can follow the rules), and don’t cut out any of the main food groups, (macronutrients) as these will ensure you get everything your body needs, which will help you keep control of your diet. And don’t go too low with your calories/portion size, you need a certain amount to function (even at rest), dipping below your basic needs will not only be harmful to your body, but will inevitably mean hitting a plateau. Work out your basal metabolic rate and don’t go lower than that.
  3. Working out all the time – your body needs rest to recover, overtraining leads to injury and has many negative effects such as losing sleep and low mood. A healthy routine which includes fitness, healthy eating and social interaction will make losing weight a happier and healthier experience.

Weight yourself once a week and try to make it about being fit and healthy – not just how you look. The changes you make should be sustainable for the long term, not for a set time, no one can be 100% perfect – don’t try to be.

Health & Fitness for 2016

I read an article about the trends for 2016, it’s funny how new trends are just revamped old trends, but sometimes with a bit more sense and science behind them!

We’ve had detox, juicing, clean eating, paleo, vegan, mindfulness and so many more, but this feature highlights some healthier suggestions – my favourite three are:

  1. Exercising to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, it’s long been accepted that exercise can help you manage your mental health. Easier said than done when you’re feeling low, but it works (in my experience), it’s got to be worth a go!
  2. Carbs – not the devil food – once you understand the nutritious value, portion size and the difference between healthy and unhealthy options.
  3. Vegan + eggs –  not a true vegan diet, but possibly more achievable for the general population. True veganism can be a healthy option, if you do it right.

Sticking to the healthy habits

It can be hard to stick to new healthy eating habits, but these few tips might help make it a habit. It takes 21 days to create a habit so it’s worth keeping at it, eventually you will get there.

  1. Breakfast – not everyone can face it, but eating first thing will kickstart your metabolism. A good breakfast which contains protein (eggs, yoghurt) will also keep you full for longer and a healthy mix of carbs (porridge, wholegrain toast) but not too many, plus a portion of fruit or veg, will ensure you have energy and aren’t reaching for a mid-morning sugar fix.
  2. If you eat what you always have, you’ll weigh what you always have. In other words, you need to make a change – that’s the only way to see results. No one can eat 100% perfectly – not even top nutritionists or trainers, if you can apply the healthy eating to most of the time, then the odd treat isn’t a problem It’s all about balance.
  3. Maintaining the loss. Trickier than losing it in some cases. Once you have learnt the healthy habits, you can have the odd treat or cheat as long as it’s not every day. If you return to all your old habits, then the weight will inevitably creep back on.
  4. Food preparation – remember to prepare your meals as much as you can, shopping with a list, packing snacks and lunches will make it much easier for you to control what and when you eat.
  5. Don’t starve! Cutting out too much is as bad as not eating too much. The body can’t work as efficiently if it doesn’t have the nutrients it requires.

Bored of the diet?

Just over a week of healthy eating and you’re bored? Diet ads are being force-fed to us from every direction and it just makes it seem like hard work. Why not try these suggestions from Women’s Health – tasty ideas to help boost your eating plan. There are some great suggestions out there – on twitter, instagram and facebook, Share yours too – you never know how your ‘boring’ meals might be the boost someone else needs. Here’s a sweet snack idea for your cheat day.

Sugar hit

Sugar hits the headlines again, an app devised to help parents monitor how much sugar their child has each day. Do we need an app for that? How can you be sure you have monitored every little bit? Surely food labels do the job and this is just another reliance on technology rather than our own ability to make a sensible judgement?

The BBC ran a piece on it this morning which you can read here – if nothing else it includes the daily amount of sugar considered acceptable, which in itself should help us all monitor our own intake with or without the help of an app.

Make a shopping list

And more importantly, stick to it! If you make a list before you go shopping (and don’t go when you’re hungry), then you’re more likely to avoid temptation. Here are some tips that might help you make some healthier tips.

Avoid shopping at busy times (not always possible), but long queues mean more time for you to be tempted while waiting to be served, remember to check out the cheaper aisles – they could well offer healthier alternatives as some products are cheaper because they have less added to them.

Buy some healthy foods in bulk – that means you could make savings and you’ll have a healthy option to hand, if you’re time poor, why not buy pre-cut fruit, if it means you’re more likely to eat it then it’s worth the extra cost.

If you’re looking at labels – make sure you know what the ingredients are – very few natural foods have long lists! The more natural the better and there are a lot of good options for deliveries (locally I like Lets Grow Wild)heathyfruitandveg.

And don’t forget the freezer section – fruit and veg are particularly good, they are cheaper, frozen quickly (which means they keep in their nutrients) and have longer shelf life.

Happy shopping.

Hot for 2016

What diet tip will you take on board this year? As soon as the New Year celebrations are over we are inundated with diet tips, the latest trends and what you should/shouldn’t be eating.

We all know that creating new habits, especially around this time of year, is hard work. Shape magazine came up with this list of trends for 2016, while some of the suggestions aren’t new, others might encourage you to include one or two new foods. Variety is key to sticking with your healthy eating plans so give it a try.

Back to healthy habits

Had a good break? Feeling rested? Now is the time to plan your return to healthy eating and fitness, maybe you’ve decided on a new goal or training plan. Or you’re new to any of this, starting out slowly is key – over do it and you’re likely to end up injured, fed up and demotivated.

If you’ve eaten any and everything (hard not to with all the tempting treats on offer everywhere you go!), then plan to cut back over the next few days. New Years Eve is just around the corner so a strict diet is unlikely to happen – so don’t set yourself up for a tricky task, you need to prepare, plan and ensure you have SMART goals set before you get started.

Keep it simple, look up the gym class timetable, as a little extra motivation might be needed at this time of year, or get friends out for a walk to catch up, make a meal plan for the next few days, making healthy choices ensuring you cover all the main components (macros) but don’t stress if you can’t stick to it – this is just the warm up, a little preparation now, will get you a step ahead in January when everyone gets on the health kick.

 

It’s Christmas!

The word sets panic in those following strict diets or fitness regimes! If you’ve followed your plan with the odd cheat day then you’re unlikely to ruin your hard work in one day!

Christmas day is a day for appreciating all that you have and part of that is often a big special meal, watching TV or playing games – a lot of time and effort goes into it and all the traditions that a family has, unique to each family unit (and that could be friends who are as close as family). Enjoy the moments and the food and then think about the diet the next day.

Happy Christmas!

Emotional eating

There have been many articles about how to lose weight, eating right, getting some more exercise, willpower are all highlighted and are obvious factors, However a recent study showed that only 1 in 10 people connected the emotional eating as a key factor.

We eat to sustain life, however, we also use it as reward, comfort and celebration. While that can be a positive experience, it does trigger the brains response to feeling good (dopamine is released), but the brain does that for any positive feeling, unaware of it being food or not. That’s where issues arise, we repeat the behaviour because we felt good after it – we associate it with food, which then takes us into a cycle of eating for comfort and feeling rewarded by it. Without dealing with the emotional issue, you can’t get past the need to keep self soothing with food – which won’t help you achieve your goal, which in turn, will ensure you look for comfort….and so the cycle continues.

Ask yourself if you’re really hungry, don’t restrict yourself (you’ll find out quick enough that you become focused on what you aren’t allowed), keep a food diary, and if you struggle perhaps see a registered professional.

Protein for breakfast

Whatever your goal, lose weight, gain weight, build lean muscle. Start your day right with a protein-packed breakfast. If you aren’t a breakfast person, try to at least get a protein snack in the early part of your day. Why? because protein keeps blood sugar levels stable, it makes you feel full for longer and it’s what helps you build muscles and helps muscles recover from exercise,

Good options include Greek yoghurt, nuts and seeds or hard-boiled eggs. All easy to find, no complicated cooking instructions and are therefore easy to grab on the go too.

Why isn’t it working?

If you are trying to lose/gain weight, at some point you’re likely to reach a plateau, where nothing you seem to do makes a difference to the number on the scale. Firstly check your eating, your activity level and also your hydration, being as little as 2% dehydrated can have a real affect on how your body functions.

Be completely honest, have you slipped off your eating plan? Maybe it’s time for another food diary? Or maybe you’ve been too strict and started reducing your food intake? Your body needs to to be fuelled properly, diets can change your metabolism, which in turn can affect your results.

The scale might not have moved for a week or more, but what about your clothes, do they feel looser? Take measurements instead, they not only might show something a scale doesn’t, but they also indicate if you’re losing fat which is more important. The hip to waist ratio is good way to track what’s happening with your body. It’s simple to do and requires only a tape measure.

Try shaking up your eating plan, maybe it’s too strict, also consider changing up classes or gym routines. 

How do you measure up?

Most people use a scale to see if they are gaining/losing weight, but the scales can’t tell you the whole story, some are better than others as they can monitor your body fat percentage, which is an important indication of your internal health, the fat you carry but can’t see.

We are all different body types (often referred to as apples (carry weight around the waist) and pears (carry weight around the hip/bottom area).  Apples are more prone to holding fat around the abdomen (stomach) and this has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. Reduce your internal fat and reduce your potential risks.

BMI (body mass index) is often cited as the go to measurement because it’s an easy measurement to do and there are numerous calculators online, to do it yourself – divide your weight in kg by height in metres squared. A reading of 18.5-25 indicates you’re in the healthy range.  There have been some good articles about why this isn’t good for certain areas of the population – like athletes who have a much higher muscle than fat ratio (muscle is heavier than fat), but the BMI calculation means they are assessed as obese. Have you seen an obese athlete?

A good alternative is the waist to hip ratio, which can also be done with just a tape measure. Measure your hips at the widest point (just by the hip bones) and then your natural waist, the narrowest part (where your stomach button is). Divide the waist reading by the hip reading to get the result. Being under 0.95cm for men or 0.80cm for women is healthy.

And don’t forget, muscle weighs more, but looks considerably less bulky, than fat. Muscles also have more health benefits. We all need to carry a certain amount of fat – men, less than women, but if we carried more muscle, less fat, we would look leaner and be healthier.

Falling off the plan

It happens, you’re going great, you’re achieving the small and medium term goals, you are in line to achieve the main goal, but then it goes wrong, a bad day/week or a night out which leaves you tired and craving a sugar and caffeine fix. And at this time of year with so much going on it’s also harder to get back to your plan.

Don’t panic! These things happen, one blip won’t ruin everything unless you let it. There are 7 steps to change and one of them is this, it’s just a small setback, and it can be a good thing, because it shows you what you don’t want, which can help spur you on to get back on track. And yes, you guessed it – going back to a food diary for a while will help you get back on track.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like winter

Today is the day meteorologists call the first day of winter, albeit a mild one so far. With shorter daylight hours, stressfully busy and long working hours, not forgetting it’s the party season, our bodies are under stresses that we often don’t have at other times of the year.

Something about the build up to Christmas makes us all want to be the life and soul of every party and that each one should be ‘perfect’ It’s impossible, but every year we try. If you haven’t already started, look into taking Vitamin D – it’s not right for everyone, but in the UK, we are generally deficient in this vitamin because we don’t get enough daylight (who has time to leave their desk to go outside when you have a deadline?). Also worth looking at multi vitamins.

Ideally we would get everything we need from our diet – but sometimes we need a helping hand.

Goals

Goal setting means you’ve decided on a course of action you want to take and how you are going to get there. It can be done with friends or family or with professional help – Personal Trainers do it with clients for fitness, and the same rules apply for your nutrition goals.

It can seem confusing and too difficult to start, so think SMART – Specific (what exactly you want  to lose/gain 1kg or 10kg, eat 5 new veg daily, increase protein intake by 10g a day by a set date or timeframe), Measureable – by being specific you have something to measure against. Have I eaten 10g of extra protein/5 veg today? Achievable – are you going to be able to commit to a plan which will get you to the goal? Realistic – do you need to change your weight that much? Does it keep you within the healthy range for you? Does your lifestyle mean you need to eat extra protein? Timely – is the time you set achievable? Do you have the time in your daily life to make the changes needed?

Once you have a SMART goal you should set smaller marker points along the way – so maybe goal one is 2 weeks away and you aim to have increased your new veg to 2 a day or lost/gained 0.5kg. Reward your small goals (not with food!) and review the long term goal – are your smaller goals helping you to achieve the main aim?

The cheating game

Should you plan in a cheat meal/day? That depends on the kind of person you are – some people can have one piece of chocolate, a cake or a few crisps, cheese or whatever your guilty pleasure is and others can’t.

Depriving yourself of your favourite treat – whatever it may be – could set you on a mission to sabotage your goal, however determined you are to achieve that goal. Why? Because the brain makes decisions about food constantly – more than you can ever be aware of, so, sticking rigidly to your plan might seem like a good idea, but for some people, it will just make them crave foods, by allowing yourself a cheat meal or day once a week can actually help you stay on target because nothing is completely ‘banned’ or defined as ‘naughty’. It could also help to reboot your metabolism.

Just remember – it’s a once a week/fortnight treat and not the start of falling off the healthy eating plan! If it happens – maybe it’s time to go back to the Food Diary!

To snack or not to snack

Snacking, some experts think we should, others say not to. As with so many things in life, one size does not fit all.

Ultimately, it’s food in versus energy used. The ideal is a perfect balance of the two, altered only to help you lose/gain weight/muscle. The real question is – what snack to have and when. Snacks are quite often the downfall of an otherwise healthy eating day – preparation is key – if you have healthy snacks on hand then should hunger strike you can have a healthy option before you get to the ravenous stage and eat everything in sight.

The chances are, if you plan to snack, you won’t want it anyway, that’s ok too. It’s all about what’s right for you – there is no wrong answer.

Doctor in the house

There was a recent interview with a Doctor (promotion for his TV series), which highlighted a really good point. Instead of seeing people for 10 minutes at a time, where he could be asked the same questions about the same issue – such as diabetes – by a lot of his patients. His suggestion – put them all in a room, run an hours surgery, on that topic, such as obesity, diabetes or other issues that affect so many of the population.

Not only do the patients get more time to ask questions, they can also see there are others going through the same thing – it opens up the opportunity for support and shared knowledge. This has to be a good thing, education is key to so many of these issues.

Social media

There are pros and cons to social media – in general – not just for nutrition, there is good and bad/positive and negative information out there. There are so many apps offering their services to help you achieve whatever your goal might be, it’s easy to get sucked in and follow their suggestions, even if you are confused by them. So, use them for what you want from them – not the other way round.

For example, an app helping you track how many steps you take, how many calories you’re eating, sleep, mindfulness – they are all good, as long as you remember, that they aren’t the answer – whatever change you want to make – it has to come from you in the end .

Looking at amazing images of people, food, and hearing their stories can be inspirational – but they are only putting up the good bits. It’s not real life – it’s edited.

Food Diaries – friend or foe

Food diaries send a shiver through most people – what, actually write down everything I eat/drink and show it to someone else! The theory behind it can actually help you figure out where things go awry, it’s not to judge your choices, but, a professional is looking for the patterns and potential triggers that if tweaked could help you have a healthier diet.

So, next time you are struggling to see why you aren’t losing/gaining weight, why you feel sluggish, tired or generally out of sorts – consider writing a food diary and having it analysed. It has to be 100% truthful, for at least a week, ideally with timings of when you eat/drink, not just what and how much. You will see for yourself a pattern that you might not have realised. You just need to get over the fear of handing over your diary!

Metabolism

You will undoubtedly have heard about metabolism and that it can affect your body. It’s true definition is.

The physical and chemical processes that occur inside the cells of the body to maintain life.

Seeing it in black and white, perhaps that makes its’ importance more obvious. Exercise and diet both play a role in our metabolism, ideally we want to keep it running smoothly, but sometimes changes to our eating or exercise regime can increase or decrease it. Too little and it slows down (to reserve energy), too much and we can overload the system. In a perfect balance we do enough to keep it ticking over.

You may have heard of the Basal Metabolic Rate, which is defined as the rate at which your body uses energy when you are resting in order to keep vital functions operating – such as breathing.  Calculating your BMR using a calculator is probably easiest, as it requires varying scores for activity level. Be honest though – don’t over or under estimate too much.

Macronutrients – why are they important

What you eat is as important as how much, macro-nutrients (macros), are the building blocks of our daily diet. There are three types – carbohydrate, protein and fat. Of course there are so many variations on each – some better than others, lets just concentrate on the basics.

Carbohydrates are required for energy (see Food is Fuel), they are split into groups – we just really want to concentrate on the ones we need –  fruit & veg mainly but also oats, wholegrain rice/pasta/bread. We need enough to help the body function. Protein, not only helps build and repair muscles, it also keeps us fuller for longer, think lean meats/fish. Fats cause the most confusion – the ones we want are as natural as possible found in things like nuts and oily fish.

Too much of any one macro-nutrient is bad (yes, too much of even the good stuff is bad). If we put in more then we need to use – it leads to weight gain as the body has to store it until it might get used – and that’s where problems arise – stored food becomes fat – too much fat doesn’t just make you feel uncomfortable in your clothes – it could also be hanging around your internal organs. And that can happen whatever your shape or size. A little of each should be the basis of your meals (once you have mastered portion control this becomes easier), but focus on protein as snacks with a veg/fruit – eg a few nuts and an apple.

Calories or Portions?

So often there are debates on calories counting versus portion control. Isn’t it a case of both? If you know what a healthy portion looks like then that’s great, but is it that simple for everyone? Counting calories to start with might be time consuming, but it will help you put together a healthy meal of the appropriate size – and that gives you portion control.

It’s what works for you – some people like the ‘scientific’ process of analysing calories and then breaking that down further to counting macros , others prefer visual guides – like the eatwell plate. Find what works for you – that is the surest way to stick to a plan and learn how to monitor the quantity you eat (most people underestimate). Food diaries can take this a step further. .

Diet

The word diet has become synonymous with weight loss fads and with that, a lot of negativity. The word diet (according to the English Oxford dictionary) is ‘The kinds of foods that a person, animal or community habitually eats’ – and that’s what it is supposed to be, our typical daily food and drink intake.

No mention of no-carb, blood types, times of day to eat/not eat, fasting or any other ‘diet’ you’ll have heard of. So next time you think  ‘I need to go on a diet’ change it to something more positive – for example, ‘I’m going to tweak my daily diet to include some more vegetables and a little less caffeine/chocolate/processed meat’ the idea is to make it a lifestyle change – and for that to happen it has to be realistic so it can be achieved without making life miserable… Yes you can go to the other extreme and ‘eat clean’ ‘raw’ or look into ‘fasting’ but is this realistic for you? Look at your real life (not a celebrity/sports person) and do what works for you and your family.

Good Carb/Bad Carb when trying to lose weight

Carbs (carbohydrates) cause a lot of confusion – unnecessarily so – we need them – like a car needs fuel, to help our body work effectively. So you have probably heard of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ carbs. Keep it simple, don’t beat yourself up about them. General rule of thumb a portion of wholegrain (bread, rice, pasta), a sweet potato, oats etc are going to help your body work (alongisde other food groups), fruit and veg also count as carbs (of a different type). Eating these won’t cause you a huge problem – unless you overeat (think double helpings). We NEED them to function.

Ever been on a low/no-carb diet and felt low and tired – yep that’s the lack of carbs… An athlete monitors their intake to ensure they have enough in the system for training and not too many on rest days. Think like that – a bit less on non-exercising days, and stock up on veg and a bit of fruit.  The problems only come in when you go for the comfort factor – that’s when you generally go for sweets, cakes and what would be classed as ‘bad’ carbs. You don’t actually need them but carbs fuel Serotonin (the happy hormone) in the brain…..you see a pattern yet? If you eat ‘good’ carbs then you don’t have that loss of energy (because you have fuel) and you don’t feel low (the good ones also hit the happy hormone). Don’t deprive yourself – the odd ‘cheat treat‘ won’t cause you a problem as long as it’s an occasional treat….

First step to good health – nutrition

Welcome to my nutrition page!

Healthy eating is a heavily discussed subject, with ever-changing do’s and don’t’s, which can cause a lot of confusion. This is where I can help, in here, I will supply you with snippets of information aimed at helping you on your path to leading a healthier lifestyle.

Want to know more about healthy living, see the latest on fitness, catch up with me on my blog, or contact me for 1-2-1 nutritional advice.