Healthy Lifestyle And Weight Loss Success Ingredient 1: Consistency

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We get started on a diet or plan with the best intentions. Despite that, there are usually a combination of things that prevent 85% of people from succeeding and staying there:

  • Falling off the wagon (inconsistency)
  • Emotional eating
  • Not enough time
  • Stressful life (busy work/stressful personal life etc)

We start on a diet, we stop weeks in and have to essentially restart if we decide to do it over again.

This happens because:

the pain of not doing it is not enough for you to keep doing it

OR

the pleasure of doing it is not enough to keep you doing it.

Imagine a lion chasing you – it’s much easier for you to run and keep running because if you stop, the lion will eat you. We are programmed to avoid pain, discomfort and fear. If we fear losing something eg losing money if we make a bet, or looking embarrassed (losing social standing) if we make a promise we don’t keep, we keep doing the thing to avoid the pain or loss.

The contrast is doing something for the love of it and for pure enjoyment. Imagine eating going out for a drink every weekend with your friends. It feels good so its easy to keep doing it every weekend because we gain more pleasure from doing it than not.

Well in this light, the solutions to building consistency is to create either an avoidance of a certain discomfort, or do things because you enjoy them.

They will both work, but ultimately, a more wholesome and positive experience is created when we do things from a place of love and because it makes us happy.

Choosing to keep doing something to avoid pain or discomfort can definitely be a strong motivator, but lifestyle changes that last usually have the majority of motivation coming from loving to do something rather than avoiding discomfort of something else (80% towards pleasure /20% away from pain).

Please note pleasure is not in the context of hedonism and dopamine adundance i.e. overindulging, taking substances and watching Netflix marathons all day.

In the context of health, moving towards pleasure means discovering that you really like cycling, it gives you energy, helps you lose weight and so you keep cycling as part of your normal routine.

Or doing yoga because it frees up your mind and you can touch your toes. Or eating healthy because you like how much energy it gives you and how well you sleep now.

Find a working program tailored just for you

If you follow what worked for others such as keto plans, 30day challenges that don’t take into account your own lifestyle, preferences, challenges, they wont work.

Following a program that tells you to have 5 small meals everyday while you only have time to eat once or twice a day wont work.

Following a program that tells you that you need to go to the gym 6 times a week while you can only manage 3 or 4 days isn’t going to work.

That’s why a program and a plan tailored around your lifestyle is going to the the game changer for you. You’ll be able to maintain results for a long time because you’ll include the things you do love.

You’ll work around the schedule you have. You’ll work out with efficiency and spend minimal time at the gym. You’ll get a program you like, keeps up with you daily and keeps your relevant goal in line.

This will keep you happy and enjoying things so you move towards pleasure – and are more likely to keep doing it.

You need accountability

You need a partner along your journey who can be objective, but be supportive enough of you goal to give you a caring ear, social support and assertiveness – because you still need to reach your goal.

You will need people in your corner – whether it be friends, your partner, like-minded people, or a supportive coach. They will need to be aware of your goals, needs, be in your corner and give you the push you may need from time to time

This will provide the avoiding the pain factor- because a part of you wouldn’t want to disappoint others around you who are on your team and want to see you win. Its a critical element in success because we rarely succeed on our own without any form of support, counselling or guidance.

This is also a very strong motivating factor that tends to keep most successful people going – being part of a community and having support could mean a world of difference.

If you’re looking for a program, our 1 on 1 coaching provides caring support and tailored guidance, click here to find out more. if its not a good fit for you, it’s no problem. Just find someone, anyone close who can be a caring shoulder to lean on on your journey.

With these 2 elements, it’s much easier to keep going than it is to quit – and that’s consistency in a nutshell.

The Anatomy Of A (Truly) Balanced Meal

We know that a meal should be “balanced” – it should have portions of starch, protein, fat and fruit/veg. We have the general idea – but most of us are actually doing it wrong.

The above is a picture of a secretly balanced meal and we’ll tell you the 3 things why this meal is MORE balanced than the average – and how you can do it too for your own meals.

(Click here for a guide on intuitive eating – and learn to listen to your body’s real hunger signals)

1. Carbs

Of course, we have to have some STARCH. We have emotions about this macronutrient – often a component of comfort food, some call it the “cause of all weight gain”, others rely on it to function (athletes/runners).

They are often the food staples of all around the world – eg rice, maize meal, sorghum, potatoes etc. They are quite often, the stable component of any meal.

So here we have some regular ol’ carbs – some pasta.

But this carb is unlike any other regular pasta.

This is chickpea pasta. It’s made from 100% chickpeas. It’s packed full of fibre – way way more fibre. Let’s compare our usual pastas in terms of fibre:

normal pasta – 3.2g fibre per 100g,

wholewheat pasta – 7.4g fibre per 100g

chickpea pasta – a whopping 15g fibre per 100g

A balanced meal is higher in fibre, and keeps you full longer. Aim to swap your regular starch for the higher fibre version of it.

2. Protein

Beef mince is a simple common meal to many, easy to make, and convenient for a quick meal.

There’s not that much to comment on here, just how its almost 90% protein because its made from extra lean beef mince and NOT ground mince.

This is helpful especially on a weight loss or maintenance phase because you get more protein for the same calories because there’s less fat. More muscle food to retain lean mass plus more filling.

Win – win. Aim for your protein sources to be lower in fat.

3. Veg + Fat

This is a simple rather plain Greek salad  – only made with cucumbers, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and black pepper feta cheese, with dashes of lemon juice and salt.

Why it’s more balanced is because there is INTENTIONAL and careful use of fat sources. NOTE: no oil was added here or dressing, because the feta covers the fat portion and adds flavour too (its a black pepper feta cheese).

The biggest pitfall to salads everyday all over the world is the slobbering of hundreds of calories of salad dressing until it looks like leaves swimming in a pool of 1000 island sauce.

Aim for your salads to be as flavourful as you want without extra fats (unless you have a very lean protein source, then you could have extra fats in your salad eg dressing,cheese,mayo etc).

This meal would qualify as a high protein, high fibre, healthy meal. Why healthy? Because its full of foods that are known to increase satiety, increase food volume, and is nutrient dense. BONUS – It was was made in 25minutes total.

How To Make It Work For You

Easy, swap your staple foods for more filling ones. This creates a 1% change for the better. Do this everyday over a period of weeks, you’ll have made a massive difference without much sacrifice.

Small changes lead to big results over time.

Practical examples

Swap your regular pasta for your wholewheat pasta, or if you can get your hands on some – legume pasta (lentil pasta/chickpea pasta/ mung been pasta etc) – simply because you can feel fuller with eating less, and because they give you extra nutrients.

Switch out your regular beef or ground beef for leaner cuts and extra lean beef mince. Ground beef is typically much higher in fat – which is what accounts for the difference in taste but also means its much much much higher in calories, and lower in protein.

You can flavour up your mince meat with all the herbs, garlic, tomato pepper etc and pair it with a great starch and have a WONDERFUL quick meal.

(Psst – spices and herbs are always your super duper best friends – get generous with them in all your meals. Mind the salt though.)

Have your greens/salads. The biggest tip is to be mindful of the dressings and oils – a drizzle becomes an extra 200 calories – which could be up to 10% of your total calorie intake! Unless, that’s the plan of course.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re constructing a “balanced” meal – and see how it can change everything for you.

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5 Mistakes All Dieters Make

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Dieting sucks. We all hate it. Even those who have been “successful” at it – have to keep doing some of the things they did at first.

Those who are successful at it though, recognise the mistakes and work around them.

Getting started is even harder. Here are 5 things common to ALL dieters – both new and old:

They get comfortable with postponing until tomorrow

It’s really easy to push anything off until tomorrow. It doesn’t feel like we won’t do it, because we tell ourselves we’ll still do it. So it eases our minds, while in reality, it’s giving us an excuse.

Successful dieters have these thoughts, but they don’t listen to them. They do what needs to be done, because what they want most matters more than what they want right NOW.

Excuses now will turn into problems later.

– Unknown

To overcome this, simply give yourself a reward for performing the task you need to do, and get it done as best as you can. Don’t worry about perfection – progress makes more strides, and absolutely no-one is perfect.

They get comfortable on weekends

What does a Saturday look like to an average dieter? Rest. Relaxation. Pigging out on foods they stopped themselves from eating during the week. No gym. Drinking alcohol and getting drunk, while eating greasy foods at the same time (steak and beer anyone?).

It’s not about the one thing they do – it’s about how they look at the weekend. A typical dieter looks at the weekend as a way to get away from the “healthy lifestyle”.

Of course when we see this as a way to “get away” from something, we’ll tend to go overboard with what we felt we were denied. Thus over-drinking, over-eating, overindulging.

However, a winning dieter looks at weekends as a chance to get in tune with their goals – to their advantage. Catch up on your cardio, get some decent sleep, don’t go overboard with alcohol (which are empty calories), and stick to your waking time.

It will build consistency and make the Monday that usually feels dreaded flow instead. Building a steady routine helps you stay on track and not fall off the wagon.

They don’t focus on progressive overload

The common myth is to mix up your workouts; change exercises every 2 weeks to shock your muscles. This could not be further from the truth.

Typical dieters who aren’t successful will switch out a routine every 30 days or only do 2 week challenges with no plan for afterwards. They change the exercises completely from yoga to running to spin classes, yet wonder why they look the same after 6 months of regular 4x a week attendance.

Successful dieters not only understand the importance of keeping active regularly, but how you have to stick to one thing for a period of time and get good at it. When you get good at something, you need to make it harder to push yourself into growth.

In training, we call this progressive overload. There are so many ways to do this – add more weight, more reps, skipping for 2 minutes instead of 3, more advance yoga poses. This is where change is made. You only change when you grow. And you only grow when you constantly challenge yourself.

They stick to a program and learn the essential exercises that take them to their goal, and they get really good at it. Even if it takes 6 weeks, 3 months or 6 months.

Get results with a simple basic plan that is effective – within 8 weeks. Click here for a no BS program and start today.

They overlook the mental aspect(visualisation)

Typical dieters don’t picture how they will look and the habits they will have 6 months, 1 year, 5 years ahead.

They think of only today tomorrow and maybe next week when they’ll be at that wedding (gotta lose those 10 pounds to fit in that dress). It’s easy to get in the moment about what you want right now, because that’s what we want the most.

Those who diet and keep the weight off for the long term think not only about how they will look, but also the action they are taking and how they will keep it up in the future.

In the beginning, visualise how you want to look in 6 months/3 months/ X period of time. When you have hit your goal, you have to visualise how you’d want to be living in weeks to months ie the lifestyle choices you’d need to have to maintain it.

This is a sticking point for alot of people – to a typical dieter the idea that you have to exercise for the rest of your life and watch what you eat sounds like torture or punishment.

Not to a successful dieter – they know that it will take some changes in the beginning but it gets easier over time and becomes so natural for you because it becomes who you are. They also focus on small sustainable changes to avoid getting overwhelmed and quitting.

Make the habits part of your everyday by imagining the “future” you as now – that’s how you make it normal. Visualise visualise visualise.

They care what others think

In the times we are living in, a person who makes conscious effort to improve their health is sadly going to be a minority. When you are in the minority, living your life can become the talking point of others, even those close to you.

An aunt can comment on how you didn’t put enough on your plate, or how you don’t have to go to the gym on a Saturday and just “take a rest”. You may be told or you’re getting too obsessed – when you’re really just being consistent.

I recall a time when I was a student when I brought my homemade lentil salad for lunch whereas most bought cafeteria food, and a senior student looked into my Tupperwear container and commented “what is that? that looks so boring”.

Successful dieters know to ignore what others may say about what they choose to eat, exercise, and when they forgo a night of heavy drinking to sleep early. They know that their path is their own and others may not understand what they are trying to achieve – and they take it in their stride and move along towards their goals.

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Think Healthy – Why Your Self Image Is Important In Your Health Journey

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Our behaviours are intricately tied to how we feel. How we feel is tied to how we think. How we think is tied to the beliefs that we have. And our beliefs are tied to the view we have of ourselves.

How do you view yourself in terms of your health? Do you think you are good at managing your health? Or do you think you always struggle to control your weight, have poor eating habits and that’s just “who I am”?

Who You Think You Are Is How You Act

Here is a different point of view – whatever you think of yourself is true. You will naturally take on the behaviours and habits of the person you think you are. It is why its so difficult to decide to do something different like go to the gym regularly and not have it be a struggle – because you still see yourself as someone who isn’t a fit person/gym goer, you don’t see it as natural for you.

Here is a shortcut to life– you can “hack” your habits, emotions, bad behaviours and not stuggle with working out regularly and eating healthily by deciding to become someone who has it easily.

Yes, you can simply decide to change your view of yourself. And the results will follow. Eventually.

You essentially have to fool yourself into seeing yourself as the person who has no problem working out or making healthy choices the majority of the time. You need to be a little delusional; you need to see it in your mind before anything else.

It requires a change in who you think you are. Think to yourself: if I was the healthy fit version of me – what would I eat? What would I do in the morning? When would I work out?

This requires a level of self-introspection, self-awareness and discipline because when you’re faced with that situation where you have to wonder you might be choosing between taking 15minutes to make a simple healthy meal vs grabbing a frozen dinner from the freezer right when you get home

How Would You Deal With Stress?

Would you decide to indulge in comforting activities such as having a six pack of beer/ bottle of wine and eating up some super greasy steak and burgers – vs taking a night to destress in other ways eg calling a close friend, spending time in nature, taking a nap etc. I.e. partake in activities that won’t necessarily move you backwards on your progress.

Once in a while, letting go might not derail you but a couple times a week/month – and you’re likely to be sliding towards the negative.

Why It’s So Hard To Change

The reason is because you see yourself as you’ve “always been like this, so it must be set in stone”. It’s too much energy to fix and it probably wont work.

The combination of comfort in your lifestyle, anticipated distress cause it means giving up delicious foods and “punishing” yourself with exercise – coz working out sucks.

Self-doubt due to prior unsuccessful attempts and a sunken cost fallacy-esque way of seeing things (I’m too old/there’s no point in changing now, it’s too late!).

These all put in barriers to discourage majority of us from even trying, or trying with the expectation of failure.

Well guess what, you WILL have setbacks. You will have episodes of derailment. However the key to remember is that failure doesn’t actually exist – it only does because we give up too soon and don’t stick to it long enough.

Persist In Your New Self Image To Succeed

If you decide to act as if you were the healthier version of you – and wake up early to go to the gym – or try to sleep earlier every night or swap out the cool drink for the sugar free version, it’s not so difficult to do for a week, or 2 weeks or even a month.

But what happens in majority of cases? What do they say that 85% of diets fail? They don’t fail because they don’t work, the fail because people give up.

And people give up because it is so uncomfortable and unnatural for them, and they cannot stand to be uncomfortable for a long period of time. What NOT giving up does, what deciding to continue to act as if does is, it actually makes ehat felt uncomfortable more natural instead. It’s essentially settting in new behaviours to become your new habits.

You get used to it and it becomes your “normal” thing.  It’s no longer so mentally taxing to choose the grilled option when going out and when you go food shopping you buy less packaged stuff and more natural foods.

It might take weeks or month to get to this state though and it’s why people get stuck and give up. We say “it’s too hard”.

Decide to be a healthier version of you, take up the behaviours and act as if you are already the fit version of you.

And you have to stop coddling yourself to always want to be comfortable if you are trying to get somewhere. Unless you’re where you want to be then yes, by all means, live life in comfort.

However if you have a goal, you probably will be in growth/discomfort mode quite often.

So if you can learn who you’d want o be and how you want to see yourself, ask yourself “what would healthy version of myself do in this situation” majority of the day, keep doing that for weeks on end until it’s natural for you, you will succeed.

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A Strong Core For Life – Part 1

Stability is key

Got backpain? Want some shape? Need some flexibility? Want to look good in a bathing suit/bikini?

The answer to all these queries lies in a simple solution – having a strong core. In fact having a strong core plays a very underrated role in our health and wellbeing.

Ouch, My Back!

Up to 80% of people will have backpain at some point in their lives. Besides medical and surgical conditions (trauma such as motor vehicle accident, falls, infections, autoimmune conditions, tumors etc) the majority of back pain we experience comes from improper use of our natural body structure the way it has been meant to be used.

And here we will get into how this problem comes about and how exactly we can improve this backpain. It begins with the core.

The core is the basis for all movement. It’s a fine balance of musculature involving LAYERS (we’ll get into it). A correctly working our core is within our control – which is where we need to focus.

It’s More Than Just Abs

Being able to stabilize (correctly contract and brace) our core musculature is vital.

If we go back in time, backpain was a luxury that our ancestors couldn’t afford. They needed to function on a basic level that involved moving rocks, building shelter, climbing mountains, or running after food to survive. Having a bad back or unstable core, their likelihood of survival would have been greatly diminished.

Human anatomy hasn’t changed over the past tens of thousands of years, however there has been lifestyle change – increase in sedentary lifestyles and less physical activity – no wonder back pain is on the rise.

Training For All People Of All Ages?

A weight-training program enables the body to increase strength and stabilization. Resistance training is particularly beneficial for the following purposes,

  • increase and maintain your muscle mass (lower fat:muscle ratio)
  • increase bone density (combating osteoporosis),
  • improve balance
  • strengthen your core (especially compound movements)

As we get older, our body undergoes a lot of changes. Aging brings about with it particular changes including:

  • loss in muscle mass (higher fat:muscle ratio)
  • decrease in bone density – high risk of osteoporosis (even higher risk for women due to decreased post menopausal estrogen levels)
  • higher risk for metabolic conditions (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, stroke, heart attacks etc)
  • Poor posture and high risk for chronic back pain

Elderly people will directly prevent, manage or even reverse their ailing conditions by a regular wokrout program, especially resistance – based program. The best time to start one is when younger and carry on working out into old age.

And no – you can never be too old to start exercising, especially a resistance based workout. Elder folk need to be assesed and provided a workout that is within their level of flexibility, balance and works around their ailments – best done under supervision via coaching.

Our core musculature contributes to vital functions within our bodies and enables us to perform simple to complex tasks. Lower back pain is the number one patient complaint in USA – and other countries are seeing a rise in the number of backpain complaints.

How It Works And What It Looks Like:

We first must look at the functional anatomy of our core musculature. We need to understand the benefits that a good core conditioning program can have on our livelihood. A core conditioning program will

  • decrease the likelihood of back and neck pain
  • incontinence
  • ruptured disks
  • muscle and ligament strains
  • all while improving posture.

Let’s understand there are two units to the core:

1. The Inner Unit

THE “INNER UNIT” provides the necessary joint stabilization for the spine. If the inner unit does not activate properly, our spine, pelvis, and joint structures are placed under undue stress.

  • Transverse abdominis
  • Multifidus
  • Pelvic floor
  • Diaphragm

The transverse abdominis (TV) is the deepest, innermost layer of all abdominal muscles. Consider the TV as your body’s personal weight belt.

When the TV contracts it causes hoop tension around your midsection like a girdle or corset. If this muscle does not tighten up, acting as a girdle around your waist, your spine and pelvis are at higher risk of injury. The TV allows equal transfer of the load on all muscles. If it is not braced (tightened), one area – usually the lower back muscles – has to do more work that it’s supposed to.

For example, if you bend over to pick up the laundry basket and your transverse abdominis does not activate properly, this leads to all stabilisation occurring at the segmental (one-joint) level. This stress eventually leads to overload of the segmental stabilizers and—POW! You have massive lower back pain.

This occurs because the segments of your spine tighten down but the gross stabilizer (transverse
abdominis) does not leave the segments to work on their own. They cannot provide enough muscular strength at the segmental level to withstand such a movement.

Now can you imagine lifting weights, grabbing a suitcase off the conveyor belt, or reaching overhead to get down a box of heavy tapes? When the transverse abdominis does not work properly you suffer. This is what we mean when we say to “brace your core” when lifting heavy things.

2. The Outer Unit

The “Outer Unit” musculature system aids in movement and function. The outer unit muscles are basically the prime movers of the core and extremities such as the internal oblique, external oblique, rectus abdominis, back, legs, shoulder girdle, and more.

They each have a vital function in movement and are connected through four major “sling systems.”

They are the muscles we tend to see when we look at – visible abs, or glutes, and they are also important for our core to work properly. These slings are:

  • Deep longitudinal system
  • Lateral system
  • Anterior oblique system
  • Posterior oblique system

The Basis for an Core Exercise Program

A core program should include exercises for both the inner and outer unit. An outer unit program consists of exercises that allow for multijoint/ multi-plane activities. This issue has been forgotten or not taught at many gyms or in exercise programs.

Some exercises to help to activate the Inner Unit include:

  • Scissor Kicks
  • Planks
  • Leg Raises
  • Dead Bugs
  • Russian Twists

Once a neurological and muscular base has been established, however, we must move on to integrate all the muscles that surround the knee joint, hip joint, pelvis, core, and lower extremities. We need to establish a fully functional dynamic muscular system. Some exercise for the outer unit are:

  • Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Multi-directional Lunge
  • Bent-over Rows
  • Crunches

Outer exercises will include the muscles around the core such as the back, shoulder, glutes, quads and hamstrings. A good workout program will include compound movements as well and direct ab exercises. Free weighted compound movements work the core preferably to machines because machines remove the need to stabilise.

Yoga is a great practise that engages the inner and outer units so is also a good help for those who may be looking to alleviate back pain. A strong core will carry you into the years.

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Understanding Hunger

What’s the feeling at the bottom of the plate?

When was the last time you had true hunger?

Hunger as the true feeling of hunger – not hunger to relieve an emotion (boredom/fatigue/procrastination/stress) or even thirst?

Create Self Awareness Around Food – WHY Are You Eating?

Food is delicious – and in the primarily hedonistic world we live in nowadays, eating food fulfils a lot of roles – comfort, reward, currency, and commonly a mode of escape from different aspects of our lives. The main reasons people get hungry include:

  1. Genuine hunger – maintenance of bodily functions (true hunger)
  2. Thirst – most don’t drink enough water (distraction)
  3. Boredom (distraction)
  4. Reward/celebration (neutral – neither distraction nor true hunger – based on food as a form of pleasure)
  5. Stress (distraction)
  6. Low mood/Emotions(distraction)
  7. Procrastination (distraction)

Notice that most of this list is using food to attempt to fix a non-food problem. The second is mistaking thirst for hunger. The reality is that this is the way we operate 80% of the time – our hunger cues are off course.

Get down to the nitty gritty reason why you want to eat – which can be an uncomfortable activity. This is because we might realise we are feeling that hunger as a craving to fill ANOTHER emotion.

Embrace True Hunger

If you have generally unhealthy habits in your life, you might find your reasons for hunger are usually beyond true hunger OR you indulge in foods that are less nutritious (“unhealthy” foods). Take away all the emotion, craving, dysfunction and want and you will have pure hunger for food left.

Our health journeys thrive best when we return to our simple preferred basics and roots (in fact most of life becomes easier when you simplify). Plus there is more room to eat what you crave from time to time and still be healthy if you are primarily simple with your nutrition.

The basics on food are – eating to NOURISH your body – you should feel better after you eat and even more so hours after you eat. This is a more basic level of understanding that would benefit most people.

Move from seeing food as something that plays numerous complex and psychological roles in your life to seeing food with a simple basic purpose of providing nutrition. This require removing bad and unhealthy habits, and replacing them with good ones.

Accepting Hunger Is The Way Forward

This is to say that you shouldn’t run to kill every feeling of hunger that you have. Get to know that experiencing hunger from time to time is one form of being comfortable with discomfort which is a key in maintaining success in your health journey.

Get to find out your TRUE source of hunger – and when it truly is because you need to eat, aim to make more nutritious food and less of hyperpalatable foods which will tend to make you overeat and less likely nourish you.

Coping with hunger and not being impulsive as a rule is a form of self discipline that will work in the long run. It will be easier to fight temptations the next time, which will build momentum and builds confidence.

How To Tell If It’s True Or False Hunger

One way is to identify the feeling attached to wanting to eat. Will having the thing you’re craving fix the feeling that makes you want to eat in the first place? If the answer is yes – then it was likely a food a craving. If the answer is no – then you a probably using food as a fix for a non-food problem.

One other way is to pay attention to the kinds of food that you desire to eat. Salty food? Sour Food? A cold glass of juice? Or vegetables?

Although what you crave will probably be what you have been used to eating. A person who has grown up disliking vegetables and usually doesn’t eat them has developed a “taste” for foods other than vegetables – even if they are craving vitamins and nutrients.

It is more complicated when we get to the specific foods because if you lack awareness to your body’s true nutritional needs, the cravings may go unsolved – craving cold juice might mean you should probably drink some water instead.

Get to know and understand your cravings and you will find the solution to what you need.

An Exercise To Understand True Or False Hunger

The next time you feel hungry or a thought comes for you to eat – take 30 seconds to think about it and ask yourself a few questions:

-Is there an urgency or a sense of anxiety or NEED to have this food? Then it’s likely from a place of distraction.

-Will you be uncomfortable if you don’t have this food? If the food you feel hungry for is replaced by a meal with substance (whole foods, nutrients etc) – will your hunger be sated? If no, then it’s likely from a place of distraction. If yes, then it is true hunger.

-Is there something you know you should be addressing in your life and instead of tackling it, eating seems a better course of action? If yes, then it’s a high chance of being a distraction.

-Will the issue still persist after eating? This is probably the biggest sign of eating as a way to deal with a non-food problem.

Master your hunger awareness and gain control back of your nutrition.

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Double Cheese Burger Or Salad? What Actually Matters About What You Eat

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I have great news for you – you can eat anything you want and be healthy. Yes this is a true statement – of course with the exclusion of poisonous and dangerous foods – there’s in reality no such thing as good food or bad food.

You can eat exactly what you want and lose weight. You don’t have to workout 6 days a week and eat only leaves and dry chicken, cut out all starches and have all your meals tasting like cardboard to be healthy. Blanket statement such as certain foods are for weight loos or certain foods make you gain weight are technically misleading. To truly understand why, we must see food within the context of your lives and not right up close.

These are the 2 points to remember:

  1. Healthy food is better to eat regularly and over time (weight loss beginning stage).
  2. You can eat unhealthy foods from time to time and be healthy if your lifestyle is in check. (weight loss maintenance stage).

Everything Adds Up Over Time

Starting a weight loss journey or pursuing a health journey/goal, it’s important to note whether the food is taking us towards or away from where we want to be. This is the mindset towards food we must have if we have a goal (weight loss, weight gain, build muscle etc). And then from there decide to do more of what takes us toward rather than away from your goal.

In the article The Power Of The Compound Effect we briefly went into how a 1% change everyday will lead to 365% improvement in a year. Having one salad isn’t going to make you a healthier person overall. In the same way eating pizza isn’t going to undo all your efforts.

However these behaviours will have cumulative effects over time. It’s probably better for you to keep good food and reduce or even eliminate foods that make you overeat/overindulge, trigger foods etc IN THE BEGINNING STAGES or if you aren’t where you want to be.

You want to build the habit of having good food and better meals so it’s better to focus more on the good and this will take you to reaching your goal.

What You Eat And What Else You Do Is What Actually Matters In The Long Run

This is regarding point number 2. It is a more advanced idea that more people who are in beginning stages or not reached their goal might not easily implement because as we start off, most things are seen as black and white – good and bad.

But when you have some experience with reaching your goals, and are now at the maintenance stages, you become more flexible and realise that there are grey areas and you don’t really need to be strict. You need more self-awareness and big picture thinking about your lifestyle.

Let’s take these 2 people:

Person A: workouts out 4-5 times a week resistance training and cardio workouts, drinks 2.5L of water a day, calorie conscious (eats at or just below maintenance), aims for 25g of fibre a day from mostly whole foods including vegetables daily, and follows IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) style of eating, has double cheese burger for lunch 3x a week and makes sure she has extra vegetables on those days she does.

Person B: Doesn’t work out, stays up late watching Netflix 6 nights a week resulting in 5-6hours of sleep a night, hydrates with juice and soft drinks, drinks <1L of water/day, doesn’t really watch what they eat and frequently has take out or pasta for dinner but makes sure to have a salad for lunch 3x a week coz she has heard eating salads makes you healthy.

In these examples, the idea is Double cheese burger = not good and salad = good. However from these two, the reality is that person A will be significantly in better terms of their health because what actually moves the scale is all the other behaviours. Long term success is based on birds eye view and not looking at a particular thing but at everything.

Health Is Not Binary, It’s A Spectrum

Such is to say that there is not one single act that will change things magically. There can be certain behaviours you change that will trigger OTHER positive changes in your life.

For example a person saying cutting out sugar is what helped them lose 10kg likely means – they stopped eating processed foods containing sugar and replaced them with more whole foods – high fibre starches and vegetables (decreases appetite so you eat less), ate more protein (muscle sparing and decreases appetite), drank more water instead of juice and soft drinks.

Improvements that bring results rarely happen in a vacuum and it’s this point that matters. You can make little changes that will add up but making one change and not shifting your whole lifestyle around will not work in the long run.

How To Make It Simple To Carry Out

Take a paper and write down your daily habits and behaviours for 1 week – observe and document what you eat, how much of it you eat, how much water you drink per day, how many hours of sleep you get, whether you eat to feeling full at your meals, how much exercise you got that day, how your energy levels are, your mood, how many meals with vegetables you eat, how much take out/junk food you ate and how often.

Keep the record for a week and you will find yourself already noticing behaviours you may not have noticed you were doing and instinctively want to change them even without anyone having to tell you.

And the even better news is once you do one thing, make one change, you won’t want it to “go to waste” and it’ll be easier to make other changes for your benefit.

So a cheese burger is not wrong in the same way a salad is not right, they are a 0.5% impact action with power to influence things over a big enough scope of time. It is more potent when you change other behaviours around you.

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5 Core Things You Need For Your 2021 Weight Loss Journey

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As we come towards the end of the first month of the new year full of craziness, our health remains pivotal. Even among a pandemic we have the same desires for a better version of us.

With that, studies have shown that >90% of people who lose weight regain it – so what do the successful <10% do to beat the stats? They understand that you need these 5 unconventional things:

1. A Plan That Works For YOU

When you make a decision to finally do what you need to do and make a lasting change – you’ll need a system and not simply an instruction manual.

Using a plan that doesn’t take into account your own preferences, challenges and allowing for flexibility will take you to a short distance, yet in a few weeks will likely lead you to fall off the path.

Personalising your journey that fits into your schedule will always yield better results than blindly following someone. A bodybuilder who has time to hot the gym 6x a week will not help a busy employee working 2 jobs and has time for the gym only 3x a week. So you’ll need a .

2. Accountability

It’s a fact that when you have someone to keep you in check, you are more likely to reach your goal. This is because we tend to not want to disappoint others, whereas without someone to account to, you are likely to let things slide.

Using a friend or family friend could work, however the best is someone who will be objective and tell you what you’ll need to hear and not let things slide too easily – a coach is actually your best bet if you haven’t been successful in the past. (Click here to find more about our coaching.)

3. Tenacious Changes

Once you have the plan that works for you, you will need to be able to see yourself carrying out those behaviours for the next few months if you want a lasting change.

“How you get it is how you’ll keep it”

-Unknown

In this case, the changes you make to LOSE the weight is what you’ll need to do to maintain it. It’s the reason why crash diets and eliminating food groups doesn’t work long term- it’s simply not sustainable.

You need to create small changes doing things you can see yourself doing – and it’s why they have such great effects – they are not too far away from your own reality and they won’t seem so difficult to do – so you can see yourself doing them all at the time, and you’ll keep what you’ve worked for.

4. Reliance On Habits More Than Willpower

Using sheer force will help in the beginning – however it’s a limited resource. There will be days where you will be too tired,stressed or sad to even want to make the right decisions. Too many of these days can undo all the work you have done using all your will power if you havn’t catered for them. You have to create a system of habits in the beginning that you will fall back on when life definitely gets in the way (it is a guarantee to have bad days – it’s simply those who handle bad days better than others and make sure the bad days don’t do too much damage, who win over the long term. Do you want to be a winner long term? Then take the time and put energy into your habits and not just your decisions in the day to day.

5. A New Version Of You

You have to come to terms with the fact that the person you have been until now has gotten you here. The person you WANT to be who has lost 10kg, is full of energy and confidence requires a different version of you – otherwise you’d be them already!

This means you have to let go of some things you have been used to doing and eating – in the name of “I’ve always been this way” or “It’s always been like this”. The truth is that for you to truly achieve your weight loss goal you have to start seeing yourself as the person who has lost that weight – how often do they eat, what do they like to snack on, what is their attitude towards exercise etc.

Once you have that solution, then you need to ask yourself one question: “how can I be more like that person today?”. And then make a decision in line with what they would do.

Over time without noticing you’ll BE that person – and it becomes much easier to make healthier decisions because you have accepted it as who you are – and not a person who clings on to excuses and reasons why they won’t do the right thing.

This probably the most challenging part initially but it’s the ultimate reason for success in the long term. BECOME the person you want to be. Everyday.

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25 Hacks And Tips For The Festive Season

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It’s Christmas time!

It’s all about the holiday spirit and of course spending time with your loved ones. It only comes around once a year so you can relax and put your rigorous fitness journey on a pause because life is meant to be celebrated. Of course Christmas and holiday time is usually synonymous with over-eating of delicious food.

The important thing is to prioritise spending quality time with your loved ones: family and friends, however you can still have some hacks to help you stay on track, if you so wish.

Christmas is 1 day out of 365 which is 0.27% of the year. One day will not derail any progress you’ve made during the year if you have already built good habits on the other days during the year.

Even 7 days is 1 out of 52 weeks which is 1.9% of the year, which also will not derail your progress, if you have good habits as a baseline.

However if you would still like to have some simple health hacks and tips you can use to incorporate into your day, here are 25 that may help you out:

1. Use Your Satiety As A Measure/Control

Use your feelings of fullness to assess your level of whether to keep eating or to take a break. Needing to unbutton the top of your jeans is expected, but if you need to unzip it too and are sweating profusely, you may have gone a bit far and can hold off for a few hours to give your body a chance to rest.

2. Have Water In Between Your Meals

Staying hydrated will keep your from unnecessarily eating. It’s still important to drink water – with the expectation of all the salty, spicy, oily food about to be eaten, it’s important to keep your water up. It can help with bloating and definitely prevent hangovers.

3. Eat Your Meals Slowly – Savour Every Bite

Take your time and eat slowly, without distractions to enjoy your food. This will help you not only cherish the food more but you will eat less due to the mindful nature of the activity. Eating mindlessly and quickly is an easy way to end up overeating.

4. Make Time For A Walk

Staying active is a good habit and even something as simple as a 30 minute walk with the family can bring you together while getting your feet moving.

5. Eat Your Greens First – To Get Them Out Of The Way

At breakfast time, be sure to include some vegetables eg a spinach omelette or green smoothie, because as the day carries on usually the indulgences roll in and eating properly is the last thing on your mind. So you can use your higher willpower and freedom in the mornings to get ahead on your greens.

6. If You Do Have Time – Go To The Gym Early In The Morning

Squeezing an early morning gym session before the family is up can energise you, keep you on track for your fitness journey and put you in a great mood ahead of the day. You’ll be ready for the delicious meals and activities the day will have to bring.

7. Focus On The Moment and Be With The People Rather Than Focus Solely On Food

Being present and focusing on spending time with and catching up with your loved ones will help reduce food focus, rather than only thinking about what lunch will be and what dinner will be. Nuture your connections tothe people around you as a point of focus instead.

8. Eat The Foods You Don’t Eat Often

If you must overindulge, do it on foods you don’t frequent – special delicacies, homemade recipes from your granny or a local food. Eating food you eat everyday eg cookies, soft drinks, staple home meals eg plain rice, pasta etc can be seen as a “waste of calories” since they aren’t really that special. See the day as a day that is special and to enjoy special meals and drinks and it can reduce your overconsumption of calories.

9. For Alcohol – Stick To Dry Wines and Spirits

Dry wines and spirits with mixers have lower calories for the same effect. Cocktails tend to to high in calories, whereas beers and ciders can because you’d usually have to take several to reach the effect. So choose your alcohol mindfully if you so wish – and remember to drink water to prevent a hangover.

10. Minimise Snacking Unnecessarily

This ties in to points number 2 and 7 – snacking mindlessly can unnecessairly overshoot your daily intake. So do be mindful of what you eat and save the snacking for those that are truly worth it.

11. Intermittent Fast – And Have Christmas Dinner In The Eating Window

Planning to have a big meal? Intermittent fasting can help becuase you wil limit your intake to theose meals – which will most likely exceed your usual intake. It serves as a buffer to keep your calorie intake moderate, rahter than if you eat freely all meals at all times.

12. Do Some Extra Cardio

If you are working out, adding in a 20 minute HIIT workout or a 30 minute cardio session 2x a week can also be a buffer. However, it’s important not to see it as a punishment for eating because there should be no guilt attached to any activity – both eating and working out should be enjoyable.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

13. Focus On Good Quality Sleep

Even with all the holiday madness and happening, it’s still important to have a good sleep routine so be sure to do so if the option is available. If you’re having a late night bonding session with a cousin you haven’t seen in so long, have the session and have better sleep the next day.

14. Don’t Forget Mindfulness And Meditation

It comes down to being in the present moment and avoiding distracctions such as your phone for savouring the time you have with your loved ones. YOU are also important so don’t neglect your self care routines and meditation – especially if you need it in the case of moments of frustration with family (we know how family can be).

15. Have Protein Filled Meals Around Your Big Meals

Having meals high in protein will keep you full and keep you from overeating, especially on the “simple” foods we mentioned – the basics everyday. You’ll have room for granny’s special meal while hitting your protein for the day.

16. Incorporate Some Activities – Cycling, Dancing Etc To Stay Active

Having a dancing session or doing outdoors activities during this time is a good way to stay active as well. When everyone is moving, the endorphins that are released will get everyone ina good mood which helps with nuturing the connections even more.

17. Don’t Stress About Tomorrow/Next Week And Fully Enjoy Your Meals

Live in the moment – enjoy your day and make the most of it. Enjoy it for what it is.

18. If You Want To – Do A High-Volume Resistance Training Workout -Food Is Great Fuel For Gains

The benefit of high calorie high carb meals? They are just the fuel for growing muscles, so go and stimulate those muscles to use the food by doing a challenging workout and make gains all the way through the festive season!

19. Bring/Make An Alternate Healthy Meal – If You Want

An option of making a healthier version of a meal eg cake made with oat flour instead of wheat flour, can help you stay on track. Do remember that most people are not thinking about health of fitness at this time and some may not be eager or understand why. However your journey is your own, and you are free to do as you wish and what you feel is best for you regardless of others’ opinions. Just don’t be the annoying health nut at the Christmas table.

20. Practice Portion Control

Have 2 servings instead of the 4 you had last year. Use a smaller plate. Use a smaller serving spoon to measure out the cheesecake. Reducing portion size with reduce intake, and if you eat mindfully as of point number 2, it will be just as delicious and you will have savoured the moment.

21. Less Soft Drinks – They’re Too Everyday – Have The More Limited Drinks

Drinks are an easily over-consumed calorie source, so it is wiser to have the more limited and special drinks, in order to make the calories worth it

22. Share Your Meal With A Family Member/Friend/Partner

Share your plate with your little niece or nephew and reduce your total calorie intake whil bonding closer to your loved one.

23. Don’t Think Of It A Cheat Meal/Rarity

Think of it as a special time to bond with your loved ones while enjoying food with them as part of a social setting. Thinking of it as a cheat meal might make you see food as being deprived and you’re now “allowed” to have them. Think more in terms of abundance and joy than limits and restrictions being lifted.

24. Don’t Eat For The Sake Of Eating

If you don’t want to eat or you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat. Just because the food is there, doesn’t mean it has to be eaten. This ties in to mindful eating.

25. Enjoy Yourself!!

Enjoy the day, be grateful for the blessings you have,the loved ones in your life and the opportunity to afford to BE health conscious.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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How Snacking May Be The Answer To Your Weight Problems

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It feels good to chew on something, especially to carry on in between meals, or when just bored at home watching Netflix.

Or maybe it’s tea time at work and you’re feeling peckish and could go for a light pick-me-up before the meeting at 11.

Nutrition is one aspect that is interweaved with our lives; it’s the TOTALITY of your lifestyle is what leads you to where you are on a weight loss journey. Picking a point such as snacking is a strategy that can help a long way because it’s a commonly overlooked potential Achilles heel.

Having filling nutritious meals will reduce the urge to snack in between so it’s simply another alternative. Cover your bases (main meals) so you don’t need to snack. This requires an element of meal prep and might be easier than having to hassle about snacking.

So let’s get into it. We have to play devils advocate here because nothing is ever truly bad or good. It just depends on whether it’s serving you or not.

To Snack Or Not To Snack, That Is The Question

Snacking adds up calories to your daily total, and usually quantities are not measured. In the context where one has full meals, snacking especially when unchecked and taken in an automatic fashion tends to overshoot total calorie intake.

When keeping in mind our struggle with weight loss and not seeing results, its the small things that we tend to gloss over that actually contribute the most and have the ability to swing in our favour.

Reducing your snacking will help if you tend to snack on cookies, cakes daily or even regularly. One lady I was talking to says she has chips (french fries) everyday at tea time yet she was struggling to lose weight.

Any idea where a starting point for her could be? Even before dwelling into the rest of her dietary habits.

Snacking the wrong way could be worse than snacking at all. In this case, cutting out meals in between will likely help especially if there are no available healthier snacks available.

If all you have are ultra processed foods available and you’re having issues with your weight, it might benefit you to reduce your intake. Decrease from 5x a week to 2-3x a week and eventually zero.

An Argument For Snacking

On the other hand, snacking is a way we can use to alleviate our hunger between meals, especially for those with busy working hours and little time for proper meals in between.

Commonly if we leave too much time in between meals we tend to overeat – fill up our plate more than usual and eat beyond satiety (11/10 on the hunger scale – you can even get the “itis”). Or when we get home without having had lunch, we grab the easiest quickest food to bite – usually packaged or something we can heat up in the microwave quickly.

This is where having a healthy filling snack would keep you full until the next meal.

The Best Snacks For You

  1. Medium apple and 1 tbs of any nut butter eg peanut butter, almond butter
  2. A boiled egg
  3. A handful of nuts – ie ~ 15 almonds/macadamia/cashew nuts
  4. Beef jerky/biltong
  5. A single serving of yoghurt
  6. Raw carrot sticks
  7. A cup of coffee/tea
  8. A small bowl of air popped popcorn
  9. 500ml of cool refreshing water (You may be dehydrated and think it’s hunger.)

The list above are the preferences I would recommend to someone who likes to snack or needs to due to time, their job etc. They are based on being higher in fibre, protein or nutrient dense in varying combinations.

If you can nail that, then snacking will be a helping hand towards your goal of losing weight. If you can’t however, rather than indulging in Jane’s freshly made cookies she brings everyday to the office, you might have to put in more effort in your main meals as mentioned at the beginning.

Are your snacks your downfall? Do an inventory on your dietary habits and you’ll probably find out what needs to change.

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