From Cardio Queen to LEAN Machine...
When it comes to fat loss its important to establish your goal at the outset. If you don't have a destination that you want to get to, how can you expect to go in the right direction?? Once you have a clear idea WHERE you want to get to, its important to know where you are now, i.e. your starting point. Only when you have the two clear in your head, can you begin to map out what you need to do to get there. Destination CHECK - Current location CHECK - Route Map CHECK.
Taking the time to understand where you are now will help you to workout HOW you bridge the gap to get to where you want to be. Its no different to planning any journey - and one size approach doesn't fit all.
My recommendation is to change one or a few of your current behaviour /habits at a time from your current lifestyle. Do enough to make a change but don't try and do too much or you'll be less likely to succeed or stick to it for the long term.
GOAL ONE 'I WANT TO LOSE FAT & WEIGHT'
If your goal is to lose weight AND drop body fat then achieving a calorie deficit is key. If you are over weight for your size/age and also carrying a higher ratio of fat to lean body mass, your priority must be NUTRITION as number one. The best nutrition plan for you to follow is simply the one that you can stick to over the long term. Your training should simply support this goal and is the second priority after your nutrition. Move more (NEAT - see previous BLOG post), such as daily walking or do something formal that you enjoy. In the gym RESISTANCE training (lifting weights) should be your priority - not necessarily to burn calories but also to maintain lean muscle mass, as ultimately the more lean muscle you have the faster your engine/metabolism is to drop weight and help you get leaner.
GOAL TWO 'I WANT TO LOSE FAT AND LOOK MORE TONED'
If you want to lose fat and look 'more toned' it is all about improving you overall body composition. its possible for slim people to carry too much overall body fat ratio - often referred to as 'skinny fat'. You might have a healthy weight for your size/height and to the normal eye not look overweight but when you're naked you might have areas of stubborn body fat, often around the belly, upper arms. Dieting hard isn't the goal here. And doing more cardio activity or classes isn't the solution! instead you should follow a smart RESISTANCE training programme that challenges you. Focus on getting quality protein in your daily neutron to support our lean muscle building, help recovery and remove junk from the diet that is contributing to the fat deposits. Calorie wise aim for maintenance calories or just very slight;y below, nothing drastic.
GOAL THREE "I WANT TO BE THE BEST I CAN BE'
If you are small and light, not overweight with a petite frame, you might simply want to improve your overall fitness and improve how you feel about your body. Or you might have succeeded in dropping weight and reducing your body fat percentage and now want to continue to maintain the results. The key for you in the gym is lifting weights and progressive/steady over load. Your nutrition should support your training as fuel rather than the other way around. Eating enough for improved performance and progress is key! Build the engine for a fitter, leader, stronger and happier healthier life!
Remember whatever your personal GOAL, change is a process not a destination. Your goals will change over time and how you look/feel /perfrom will also evolve over the process as you continue to learn about yourself and progress in your training.
LOSE FAT & WEIGHT = calorie deficit + NEAT + lift
LOOK LEANER = calorie maintenance or small deficit + meet preen needs + less cardio more lift
MAINTAIN FOR LIFE = Lift + eat to fuel + meet protein needs for recovery
This is something I hear frequently. Okay so there might be rare occasions when some people may have complicating factors that make fat loss harder but, I have to be honest, the vast majority of people who complain about a slow metabolism don’t have a metabolism problem at all. They have a movement problem. A lack of it. Take an Athlete member at GYM G5 for example. Lets say you train 3-5 times a week. In your head you think you're super active! Your friends and work colleagues might consider you to be mega fit, and in comparison to the mass population you are. But, when it comes to fat loss, if you're still not losing the excess weight and blaming it on your metabolism (and assuming that there are no complicating factors with bloods or hormones), then we have to start thinking about where the problem could lie....
The first question we need to ask is "How 'active' really are you?"
Lets say that you burn around 261 calories in a 20 minute Crossfit benchmark WOD (this is an average and not 100% accurate, as everyone will differ based on our individual factors such as height, age, weight,lean body mass, BMR, etc.) then consider that the majority of us probably train around 3-5 times a week, that means you are burning between 900-1500 calories in the gym each week. If the remainder of your working day/week involves driving to/from work, or taking the train/bus, followed by sitting at a desk, or driving or any other non-active job, followed by getting home eating dinner and chilling on the couch in the evening, then the reality is you're actually pretty sedentary. To make matters worse, studies have also shown that people who follow a regular weekly routine of intentional exercise(i.e. gym go-ers), they may unconsciously eat more calories pre/post training to compensate for the training effort or over compensate for the calories burned whilst training by moving LESS after training and therefore negating their efforts to a degree. The long and short of it is, even if you go the gym and train hard 3-5 times a week for anywhere between 20-45 minutes each time, if you sit on your ass all day most days, then going to the gym and 'intentionally exercising' for 20-45 minutes 3-5 times a week, (plus eating more because you train and rewarding yourself with an evening on the sofa because you've been to the gym) - is not going to give you the fat loss results you want.
what is NEAT and how can it help me lose body fat?
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) and when added to our basal metabolic rate (BMR), plus the thermic effect of the foods you eat, this makes up your daily calorie (energy) requirements.
BMR + thermic effect of food + NEAT = daily calories (energy) requirement
Your BMR, or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), is the energy requirement of your body either without any activity or while lying motionless i.e. whilst sleeping. Your BMR/RMR accounts for about 60% of your total daily calorie (energy) requirements. The thermic effect of food (i.e. the amount of calories needed to digest food) accounts for about 10-15% of your daily calorie (energy) requirements, which means the rest of your daily calorie (energy) requirements are wholly dependent on how ACTIVE you are in both intentional exercise (i.e. going to the gym/training) and your daily NEAT i.e. the normal life activities like walking, cleaning, shopping etc. And heres the shocking facts! Your daily NEAT activity can vary from as little as 15% of energy expenditure (calories burned) in the very sedentary (desk job, car owner) to up to 50% in very active individuals (active job, walks everywhere).
So, take Jean* who's a lawyer, has a BMR of around 1,000 calories (we’ll use that nice even number for simplicity’s sake), that means Jean* will burn about 150 calories digesting the food she eats each day.
She may also burn anywhere from 150 to 500 calories more per day, depending on whether she spends the day sitting on her ass at her desk or in Court vs a day being very active full of walking, shopping, house work etc. If we also assume that Jean* didn’t engage in any intentional exercise on a normal working week day the worst case scenario is that she is going to burn 1,300 calories. If Jean's* NEAT activities are at the higher end, she’s going to burn 1,650. That’s a 350-calorie daily difference of calories burned between the different NEAT activity levels. Oh and by the way, I don’t know many people who eat only 1,300 calories per day, but I do know plenty of people who have desk jobs and also don’t train every day.
The hard truth is, the combination of a sedentary lifestyle with a daily surplus of calories beyond your basic energy requirements and over time you have weight gain.
It’s easy to forget or ignore all this, especially when we compare ourselves to friends or work colleagues who seem to effortlessly lose weight or stay lean. Its easy to compare how much we train and how much we are eating, and blame our genetics for giving us a tortoise-like ability to lose fat. But, the truth is we don’t see what these “naturally skinny” people are doing on a daily basis. My guess would be that your 'naturally-thin' friend quite possibly has a very active job, as opposed to sitting at a computer or in meetings or answering the phone all day. Its likely that they also walk more in their day to day life and may also train on top of their active jobs, adding to their daily calorie burn. Their metabolisms aren’t necessarily any better, they just move more. This daily surplus of movement is more expended calories which adds up over time, just as not moving and over eating calories can! Its exactly this subtle but consistent differences in activity and lifestyle that makes it appear that we have two camps: people who stay thin effortlessly and those who do not. But really when you ask yourself the question 'how active really are you' it’s a case of those who are more active in an effortless or routine way and those who are not. Don't under estimate the additional effect that NEAT can have on helping you achieve your fat loss goals, even if you are a regular gym goer. In my experience, its the clients with a lot of weight to shift, and who make EXTRA lifestyle changes to become more active outside of their gym sessions, i.e. walking for 30 mins before work, or cycling to/from work every day instead of taking the car, that lose the weight quicker and maintain it in the longer term. So, maybe you don’t have a slow metabolism at all. Maybe you just need to get off your ass more and get out and move?
The most important thing about competing is NOT WINNING or losing, its the lessons you learn about yourself!
Inspired by an amazing day yesterday at Beyond the Wall The Finals 2017 at Fortius Scotland, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about the high and lows of competition. Competing isn't for everyone, and thats absolutely fine, but even for the 'not naturally competitive' athletes, the opportunity to enter a competition can give you more focus to your individual training and nutrition and also take you out of your comfort zone and an opportunity to learn so much about yourself. It can be a terrifying experience - taking to the competition floor. But it can also be exhilarating. Managing the highs & lows, the nerves and the adrenaline is all part of the learning curve. One thing is certain, you will definitely take away something from the experience....
1. Bad days happen to everyone
Friends, fellow athletes & family cheer from the side line, shouting your name - meanwhile you do your very best to perform for them, trying desperately hard to control the nerves whilst remembering everything you did during your training and preparation. Sometimes though, you just can't pull it off, or quite perform in the way you had hoped you would. We all have bad days—sometimes they can extend to weeks or months!
After the Crossfit Games, Noah Ohlsen took to Instagram to explain to his fans why he may have left them a bit disappointed: “The thing is, for some reason, all week something just didn’t feel right. It’s kind of indescribable and in no way am I making an excuse. I just know that that was not me out there on the floor. I couldn’t quite tap into who I am as an athlete, but for mere moments that seemed far too seldom. It’s tough when a year of work is showcased in one week, especially when it’s such a grueling one.”
Lesson: Listen, bad days happen, sometimes at the worse possible times. You feel disappointed and upset, but it happens to the best of the best! Learn from it and move on.
2. A year of training in the gym can turn a weakness into a strength
You might struggle with the gymnastics side of WODs. It might be running that makes you panic when you see the workout on the board. Whatever your weakness, you can turn it around if you work at it. I recall back to my first Individual Competition - The Rainhill Trials and making it to the final 5, much to my surprise! The Final WOD was pretty gassy which was good except it had pull ups in the middle and at that stage I did everything strict and hadn't mastered the kipping technique. So, I did the only thing I could - and stricted the pull ups (while my fellow athletes chose to butterfly). Needless to say I came 5th out of 5. Two years on, I can happily say I'm now able to kip and am getting to grips with the butterfly. Put the work in - see the progress.
Lesson: Don’t treat a weakness like a lifetime curse—it’s not an excuse as to why you didn’t do well in a WOD or competition. Instead, make it your goal to turn that weakness into a strength. Give yourself a focus—3, 6, 12 months to see an improvement. Whatever the goal is, don’t give up!
3. Your final placing or performance doesn’t always tell the whole story
I really believe this. That doesn't mean that the best athletes aren't the ones on the podium, I just mean that sometimes there is stuff going on behind the scenes. Everyone has something to deal with, pain, injury, nerves, personal life, preparation leading up to competition, home life, travel...all you can do is show up and do your best, giving 100% on the day.
Lesson: On a personal level, don’t judge your own performance by the performance of others. Someone was faster than you in WOD 1? Maybe they trained to peak on that specific day. You lifted more than someone in WOD 3? Maybe they didn’t sleep the night before or they have personal issues that are keeping them from peak performance. Compare you to you.
4. How do you define success
Its not all about the top three. For example fourth is a tough place to finish—especially if its by only two points. Try to remember that xx other athletes entered the qualifying stage of the competition and didn't make it to the final. Im sure many of them would be delighted with a 4th place finish, intact they'd even be happy just to be on the competition floor on the day! Lets be honest, we are all competitive if we compete. If we had come third, part of us would have wanted second, if we came second, we would’ve wanted first. It never ends, so it’s important to take a moment and appreciate what you've accomplished and just be bloody happy about it. It’s not often as an athlete you can just sit back and be content for a while. For me, success is the satisfaction knowing that you did your best. Success isn’t winning a trophy. Shoot for the stars but be happy if you land on the moon.
Lesson: Define success on your own terms.
5. Just BE you
It’s easy to get intimidated—especially by the other athletes you see in your category/heat in the warm up area or who you follow instagram and know from previous competitions or other boxes. You may have it in your head that you aren't on the same level as other competitors. BS. This year many of the Games rookies showed us that success doesn’t care what your name is or how many people know your name; instead, it rewards hard work and what you’re able to do on that given day.
Lesson: Don’t concern yourself with what others are doing, saying or will be doing come competition day. Ask the best from yourself during training and in competition and the rest will take care of itself.
Competing is a good focus for your training. Its fun, challenging, rewarding and at times disappointing. But at the end of the day, there will always be another opportunity to do better, and taking away lessons is an important part of competing. Its so hard to peak for an event. Things happen in life, injuries, sickness, personal problems, work gets in the way, the list goes on and on. I had the pleasure to watch so many incredible local Scottish athletes compete yesterday at Beyond the Wall The Finals 2017, and every single one of them are amazing athletes in their own right, achieving incredible things, inspiring others and even better people! Learn to appreciate the good days, handle the bad days, the pain, enjoy the successes and happiness, but mostly enjoy the opportunity to be around such amazing people!
The definition of Lifestyle Disease:
Any non infectious disease that is caused or promoted by YOUR behaviours and the choices YOU make.
This can include but not limited to: Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Certain cancers, Hormonal Imbalances (Hypothroid, Pcos, Adrenal Fatigue), Fertility Issues, Chronic Aches & Pains, Gut Issues, Emotional & Mental Health Issues (Depression/Anxiety).
Lifestyle related diseases or conditions, medievally diagnosed by your GP and far and away the most common conditions that I come across with clients seeking help. Sadly, whilst it might take a single visit to the doctor to be diagnosed, in the majority of cases its taken years of poor living to reach the point when it is seriously effecting your day to day life. There may have been signs and signals, that lead to the diagnosis, and often one issue leads to another, resulting in multiple problems.
The more concerning factor with most lifestyle diseases is that unlike many common virus or bacterial infections that can more often than not be treated with medication & rest, these issues can have devastating effects, frustrating consequences on your daily life and the time & effort required to undo the damage and successfully treat them can be significant - in some cases months/years.
Lifestyle diseases occur because of the way we live.
To get better, you need to decide to live differently.
For some that might involve moving more. It might be you need to make a conscious effort to remove significant stresses from your daily life to improve sleep & reduce stress levels. It might mean overhauling your diet to eat less/better. (It can also, on occasion mean taking more rest if you are a fitness fanatic thats been over training/under recovering and eating over a prolonged period).
Whatever the underlying reason behind the issue, it requires a lifestyle improvement, a CHANGE.
You can't change the past, but you CAN change the future. And you can make better, conscious choices about what you do from today onwards. If any of the issues Ive mentioned in this post resonate with you, or you know you are on the way to being effecting by lifestyle disease, don't become another NHS/Government statistic. Choose a happier, fitter, leaner, healthier & stronger life.
Should we include fruit in our daily nutrition? Is drinking Fresh Fruit juice healthy or not?
For most of us, completely cutting out sugar from our diet isn't easy. The over stimulation of our taste buds and pleasure messages in our brains means that its harder and harder to satisfy the carvings and almost impossible to appreciate the sweetness of foods like strawberries, carrots or vine ripened tomatoes. the reward-response from sugar means that its highly addictive. When you stop your intake of sugar abruptly you can suffer withdrawal symptoms including headaches, fatigues, low mood, frustration and it can impact on physical performance and brain ability.
Its also worth knowing that the fruits we eat today compared to our ancestors, are a lot sweeter, but they are sill REAL food in their whole form, so although they contain varied amounts of sugars, fruits also contain good fibre, water, vitamins, minerals and photo-nutrinets which are good for the body.
Should you include whole fruit in your daily nutrition?
It really depends on your body composition and also your goals.
Excess fruit can impact your diet in the same way that regular sugar fixes do, so be aware that eating an apple as your mid afternoon snack may fuel your sugar addiction rather than help you break it!
A helpful guidance is to stick to fruit in his whole form, not smoothies or juices,and look for those containing lower levels of sugar, particular if you are insulin resistant and/or want to lose body fat!
Also eating some good fats or protein with your fruit will also help to slow the insulin response of the fruit. For example a small handful of fresh nuts or nut butter on your apple slices, greek face yoghurt with your berries or sliced chicken breast as part of your snack.
I've listed below a few examples of the higher and lower sugar options as a guide;
LOWER SUGAR : Lemon, Lime, Avocado, Strawberry, Grapefruit, Blueberry, Fresh Fig.
HIGHER SUGAR : All dreid fruits, Grape, Banana, Mango, Apple, Pineapple, Pear.
Food for thought!
As the sunsets on the weekend this Sunday evening, remind yourself of this:
Every time you fell off your bike when you were young, you got back on and tried again.
Every time you fall and hit the box in the gym, jump again.
Every time you fall off the bar trying to do a kip swing, begin again.
Every time your mind wanders when you're trying to focus on something important, begin again.
Every time you go off track with your nutrition, begin again.
Every time you fail at something, or mess up, or take the wrong path, or follow the wrong route, or love the wrong person or climb the wrong mountain, or let someone down, remind yourself - that this is not the end.
There is always another sunrise tomorrow.
A new day, another incredible opportunity.
Take a deep breath and begin again.
#sundayvibes #peaceout #lightsout #sleepwell #anewdawn #anewday
Pic: Sunset on Glasgow University
If you're still not convinced that your low fat diet could actually be part of the problem you're overweight then read on. In the past nearly every government and healthy eating message has linked saturated fats with obesity and heart disease and has told you to stay away from saturated fats, warning it will raise your LDL cholesterol, clog your arteries and put you at increased risk for heart disease.
The truth is that these recommendations are in fact based on an unproven hypothesis, and a large number of studies that have since reexamined the theory have shown that saturated fat does not increase your risk of heart disease.
A 2015 meta-analysis20 published in the British Medical Journal found no association between high levels of saturated fat in the diet and heart disease. Nor did they find an association between saturated fat consumption and other life-threatening diseases like stroke or type 2 diabetes. Another study meta-analysis21 that pooled data from 21 studies and included nearly 348,000 adults found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat. Indeed, far from posing a risk, it’s known that saturated fats provide a number of important health benefits, including the following:
✓ Providing building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances
✓ Mineral absorption, such as calcium
✓ Carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
✓ Conversion of carotene into vitamin A
✓ Helping to lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
✓ Acts as antiviral agent (caprylic acid)
✓ Optimal “clean” fuel for your brain and mitochondria
✓ Provides satiety
✓ Modulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer (butyric acid)
It's this fear of healthy dietary fat that I believe is a big part of why we’re currently struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease of epidemic proportions. As noted by Dr. Mark Hyman,22 director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine and author of “Eat Fat, Get Thin”: “For 35 years we’ve been told to eat low fat, but the result is that we’ve cut fat and eaten a ton of carbs and sugar, which accounts for the corresponding surge in obesity, diabetes and other related ills over the same time period.”
So to be clear, healthy fats are not bad! And when we’re talking about healthy dietary fats, we’re referring to natural, unprocessed fat, found in real foods like raw grassfed dairy, meats, pastured eggs, seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado, coconut oil and raw cacao (a phenomenal source of healthy saturated fats and many beneficial polyphenols).