Archive for November, 2013

With Christmas just around the corner and New Year closely following we all face the inevitable Christmas weight gain and January desperation to correct it.

Wouldn’t it be much more enjoyable if you could enjoy Christmas whilst causing minimal weight gain, meaning you don’t need to stress come January?

Below I’ve listed a few little tips that could help you stay in shape this festive season.
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Over Christmas the last thing we want is to be eating salad and avoiding mince pies, its all part of enjoying Christmas. We do however need to find a sensible balance between enjoying party food and maintaining the physique you have worked for all year…

-Enjoy without overindulging
This is a major point.
There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food, instead it comes down to majorly calorie content (among other things).
Enjoying ANY food you like, including alcohol WILL NOT cause weight gain unless you eat enough to cause a calorie surpluss*
Enjoy food, control portions.

– Aim to maintain
Aiming to lose any weight/body fat over Christmas is unrealistic and accepting huge gains doesn’t make much sense either.
If you can maintain your current shape or be within maybe a couple of pounds then you have done very well and will find January much less stressful.

-Make exercise a habit not a chore
December is cold and dark and January is when gyms are packed with new years resolution members….Exercising in either environment can be a struggle.
Incorperate exercise into your life by increasing walks, make exercise fun and make it a social get together with friends.
Over the Christmas period exercise can feel like a chore when you have so many other things going on, make it a fun part of your social plans and you’re less likely to avoid it.
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– Think long term
Don’t think in “Black and white” or “good or bad”…
You had a good breakfast…well done
Now you’ve gone and had a mince pie with your lunch…You’ve ruined your diet today, you may as well eat as much junk as possible today before “starting again tomorrow”

Right?

Wrong!

One meal or snack CANNOT ruin your long term progress.
When did you ever think back and regret one single meal you had a year ago?
It’s the consistent overindulgence or binging that causes any fat gain, not one single meal.
Enjoy it then move on with your day without the feeling that youve ruined anything.

So you make it through Christmas without causing too much damage and you’re ready to push on towards your goal in the new year…What now?

-Don’t make big promises
Doing this is at best, unrealistic and at worst only increases the pressure you put yourself under to “be good” and see instant results, which links us nicely to point 2…

-Be patient
Small, consistent improvements soon add up to a big change and are much more likely to be maintained than any dramatic lifestyle changes, especially after the most indulgent time of year.

-Don’t be too strict
Telling yourself you are going to drop all carbs come January or maybe hit the gym every day will get a 10 out of 10 for ambition but likely a 0 out of 10 for actual success rate.
Start small, maybe even make one change each week.
Week one start to make positive changes to your diet, changes that you feel you could maintain forever, no fad diets.
Week two introduce some fun workouts with social support from friends or training partners to ensure you develop positive associations with exercise and are more likely to maintain it.

-Don’t overindulge

Again…enjoy any foods that you crave, just don’t overindulge

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Give it a try, you don’t need to write off December then be overly strict in January, there is a middle ground.
Enjoy a lean(ish) Christmas

* A calorie surplus is when you consume more calories than you burn off, meaning you store the excess as body fat

I don’t always remember being competitive, but as I reached my mid teens I developed a competitive edge and drive to be the best at whatever I was doing.

This held me in good stead through playing Football and especially Boxing, where I surpassed any level of ability I had previously thought I had by sheer determination and willingness to outwork the opposition.

I learned that if you want something bad enough to work consistently harder than anyone else then you could achieve the best possible results.

This theory was applied to everything I did.

I bought a dog, so I researched how to train gun dogs and managed to train the dog to a decent enough standard to enter him in a retrieval competition at a local game fair.

I hate accepting “average” and always want to do things to the best of my ability…

Its probably more of a fault than a good thing.

This of course, was applied to my physique, diet and training…

Being lean wasn’t enough, I wanted to be ripped….all year round.

I did achieve this on several occasions.

Maintaining this however is unrealistic and almost impossible, it also almost always results in a rebound from one extreme to the other.

Examples can be seen right through the bodybuilding/fitness model community, they get in EXTREMELY good shape only to rebound to being EXTREMELY out of shape.

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Recently I have realized something that has dramatically changed my nutrition and training habits and lifestyle.

The people who live in the middle of those two extremes, the average zone you could call it, are actually the happiest people.

Looking at magazines or pictures of “ripped” athletes it can be easy to wish for what they have and think how great they must feel.

In fact, from my experience, living to those extremes is actually very tiring and not enjoyable….at either extreme.

To get in tip top shape you have to sacrifice, the better the shape the bigger the sacrifice.
You may look fantastic but you are no longer enjoying  a drink with friends, your weekly takeaway, a dessert with your meals etc etc
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You get in such great shape that “average” becomes something you fear and the pressure of staying so lean causes a rebound to the other extreme.

At this extreme you are basically eating and drinking whatever you like but you no longer have a physique you feel good about, so again you are unhappy.

Having experienced this, earlier this year I decided to try to live more average and change my priorities.

I decided that instead of being in fantastic shape for a short time, I’d rather maintain a reasonably good physique for the rest of my life.
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The first thing I addressed was my expectations and patience.

With these changes to my lifestyle I was not going to see dramatic changes quickly, but thinking on the long term I was happy with this.

I also noticed that the people in the middle zone who seemed happiest, weren’t tied to the gym and instead exercised maybe 3 times per week at the most, also using everyday life to exercise, such as walking.

I ripped up any plan that I had

The people I thought were happiest also lived a flexible life, I’ll listen to my body.
If I want a rest I’ll have one…without beating myself up over it
If I want a specific meal I’ll have it…without regretting it
If I want a bottle or two of Guinness I’ll have them…Without feeling like Iv ruined my progress

This time next year I don’t expect to be complaining about the odd bottle of Guinness I had a year ago, but if I go “off track” and binge until I ruin my progress, then that likely will cause long term regret.

Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I went out with absolutely no guidelines to stick to, but I kept it simple and flexible.

For me personally, breakfast makes me more hungry, so I decided to fast until around 2pm then have 2 meals between 2pm and 10pm

I would calorie count to ensure I stay within my calorie limit but as I accepted this was a long term change there was no stress to do anything drastic.

I adapted things to suit what I know about myself.
I have a sweet tooth
I enjoy most of my food on a night
I enjoy being flexible

Everything I do now has my long term goal in mind, to find the balance between achieving and maintaining my physique without sacrificing enjoyment in life or making it more difficult.

So there’s my opinion, take what you want from it.

Setting ambitious goals is good and I admire those who achieve those extremes, but for me now, I have a new philosophy, to live lean and enjoy life.

There are several vital ingredients when it comes to creating a training and/or nutrition programme, whether you create it yourself or you pay top dollar from a professional

Things that you may (or may not) consider when creating the plan could be..
-Training structure
-Nutrition plan
-Rest and recovery
-Periodisation…

In fact you can cover almost every base in tremendous detail in the hope that you will achieve your desired results.

There is however one ingredient that many people fail to address, this one aspect of the programme can make or break your entire effort.

Ever wondered why you find it so much easier to eat well prior to a beach holiday than you can upon returning?

Accountability

The thought of other people seeing you in minimal clothing on a sunny beach is more than enough motivation to change your body.
The holiday WILL happen, on a certain date, in a certain place…..it IS going to happen, you cant cancel your holiday. This means you either do what is required to feel good or you suffer the unavoidable consequences….This is accountability.

Infact you can have the very best Training programme and the most fantastic Nutrition plan ever produced, but….and it’s a big but (no pun intended), without a reason, a consequence or some form of accountability then 9 times out of 10 you will struggle and fail.

Ask yourself….Is there anything stopping you returning to your old habits tonight and “starting again” tomorrow?

(Falling off the wagon is a whole other article)

If not then whenever it gets difficult you have no reason not to quit…no accountability.

So how do you introduce accountability to a plan I think I heard you ask?

Well in short it can be tricky, especially on your own

1/ Enlist social support
Be it a friend, a workmate or a group of likeminded people.
Knowing that you are not only relying on the other person, but they are depending on you can be a big motivation to helping you stick to a programme during difficult times.

2/ Set a deadline
Open ended goal and targets will likely never happen.
How many of us have at some point said “Id love to learn a musical instrument” or “I must get round to reading that book”?

Id bet most of us haven’t ticked these statements off our to-do list.

By making a commitment and adding a deadline to this statement it not only creates a sense of urgency and intent but it ensures that you can actually objectively tell when you have succeeded or failed in your goal.

A better statement would be “I will to play 2 songs on an new instrument this year”

This statement is much more measureable….which brings us to our next accountability tool..

3/ Make your goal measurable

“I want to lose 3lbs before my birthday”

This statement is measurable and can be either achieved or failed.

“I want to get lean”
Not only is this statement open ended but it is also not measurable….How do you define lean? Will your opinion of “Lean” change once your body begins to change?

4/ Choose more than one form of measurement
So you haven’t lost weight on the scales this week?
Do your clothes feel different? Are your measurements different? Do you actually look different?

Putting all of your eggs in on basket and only using one form of measurement decreases accuracy and increases the likelihood of becoming disheartened when results slow.

5/ Commit to a programme
For the right type of person, pay as you train classes or attending a gym can work very well with no problem. However some people require more accountability than others.

For those people commiting to a programme will bring a much higher success rate.
Not only can you not “pull a sickie” whenever you like but you also have a trainer planning and executing a programme with you and enforcing accountability/consequences.

A good trainer will give you as much advice, help and support as needed, but if you do not give 100% in return and do not show commitment then they will likely no longer choose to work with you and remove you from the programme.
I don’t know about you but if I’ve paid for a programme then I am going to get my moneys worth by sticking with it and working with my trainer to achieve my desired result.

So how do we at Bushido Fitness add accountability to our programmes?

-We use several forms of measurements including weekly scale weight, monthly photographs, measurements, fitness testing and optional body fat analysis using skin fold calipers. Non of these things can be lied to, if you haven’t put in the required effort then unfortunately, just like the beach example, you will get found out.

-We set a deadline.
At the end of each month we take a new photo of each member and compare to either the previous months picture or a long term start picture.
We use weekly weigh ins to asses progress and also use monthly fitness testing to ensure you can see the improvements brought about by your efforts.

-We enforce consequences
On some unfortunate occasions where effort and commitment has not been of the level needed to achieve the results the client demands we have been forced to remove people from our programme.

-We keep a register
Its easy to miss the gym when its cold outside and there is no consequence to not going. We require full attendance and monitor it

-We have social support
Training with us allows you access to a huge amount of other individuals either in the exact same situation as you, or having already conquered the obstacles you face and in a fantastic position to help you do the same.

-We post your monthly progress pictures to our private Facebook page with the previously mentioned support group. This is the virtual version of walking down that beach on holiday and has a fantastic effect on adding accountability and helping you stick with the programme.

-We see you face to face
Meeting our support group/training partners as well as our trainers adds another form of accountability and makes for a great atmosphere…success breads success.

Regardless of whether you decide to get in great shape with us or go it alone, if you put some of these accountability tools in place you will be much more likely to succeed.

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