Use this audio file to work out how to judge your day
Use this audio file to work out how to judge your day
I often hear clients tell me that they love food too much and that they can’t possibly give up their daily morning croissant and swap it for porridge or scrambled eggs
Do you really love food? Do you cook every day, with fresh ingredients and from scratch. Do you eat seasonally? Do you relish every mouthful and find a complimentary balance for your starter, main and dessert? Or do you eat the same bad foods over and over and say you love food, when really you just eat the same crap all the time because you’re scared you cant’ commit to change?
Eating the same refined sugars every day is not a love of food it’s food addiction.
Refined sugars get attached to the same receptor sites as heroin and opium.
If you really, really love food, then my advice is to accept that you love food and being content in carrying a little extra weight. But if you are just suffering from food addiction and a lack of confidence in changing what you eat, then it’s time to make some changes to your diet in order to hit your goals.
When you are ready to make some changes to the refined sugars that you love, try swapping 1 meal at a time and if you are really struggling, try swapping it on anywhere between 1-5 days a week. So if you love your morning croissant and coffee, swap it one time for a healthier option in the week and see how you adapt. Then try 2 days the next week and so on until you have swapped the bad food for good.
You will always get different points of view on what a healthy week looks like in terms of food and drink. That’s fine. This is my point of view and it is based on 30 years of life experience in eating and exercising and 20 years of teaching in the health industry.
Two things I have learned over a period of time are:
So, it’s pretty clear to me that you will do well to create some rules and apply them, with consistency, rather than buying into the latest fad diet. So with that in mind, here are some ideas to apply to your life and stick to them 6 days out of 7 and you will feel more energised, and more easily able to control your weight and that includes being able to lose fat consistently, if you want to.
The first thing you will need to learn and accept is that the older you get, the more sacrifices you will have to make to manage your weight. Get over it!! The second thing you need to accept is that the less you exercise, the less you can eat. Make your choice!!
You can either eat whatever and whenever you want and look and feel unhealthy, or you can restrict what you eat and look and feel amazing. YOUR CHOICE.
I’m going to define a healthy eating week for you.
A healthy week consists of eating foods and meals which are known to be healthy and that are repeated several times. These meals are planned, contain a good balance of nutrients and are eaten almost automatically and give you energy, without adding body fat. Only a few meals fall outside of this pattern and these other meals provide you with enough variety to make the week repeatable again and again and again. Consistency first, variety second.
Let me give you some examples.
I eat and ham a cheese omelette or porridge and milk every weekday morning. On weeks when I feel I need to lose weight, it’s the omelette every week day. If I’m within my weight range, I alternate. I do this on auto-pilot and its pretty easy and part of my pattern. On weekends I kind of eat whatever I feel like, but often, it’s omelette or porridge on one of the weekend days because I’m so used to eating them. The other day its a variation of bacon, eggs, avocado, bread or anything I feel like. Every now and again its chocolate cake!!!!
I’m not hugely organised and I often forget my lunch, so this is the meal that I have to often quick buy for. We do our best to make an evening meal with enough left overs for me to eat the next day. Actually, my wife should take all the credit here; she keeps me somewhat organised as I really don’t plan too much nutritionally at all. I used to, but now I know how to apply my rules without too much fuss.
If I remember left overs, it usually is something with some carbohydrates in, but it’s a left over portion and usually not too high in overall calories. If I remember a planned meal for lunch, it is a salad, or another meal with none of the white devils. So no bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, grains or pulses. On a day where I have eggs for breakfast and salad for lunch, my body is in prime fat burning mode all morning and all afternoon. This is enough fat burning for me to have an evening meal with carbohydrates if I want them.
Every day that I don’t have food prepared, I get the same quick buys. Its either a Chef’s Italian chicken salad, because it reduces decision fatigue and it keeps me burning fat in the afternoon, or it’s a M&S ready meal. I usually go for the chargrilled chicken and courgetti spaghetti or the Tikka Chicken and cauliflower rice because they are low in carbs and keep me burning fat during the day.
I tend to split evening meals between a balanced plate of protein, carbs and fats or another low carb option. If I have 3 low carb meals in a day, I know I will lose fat pretty quickly.
I eat whatever I want 1 day per week in the evening, but again, I’ve accepted the fact that healthy food tastes healthy and I like it, so I love a good steak for example.
I must admit to not going out to eat that much (once or twice a month), so when I go out, I eat whatever I want. If I went out 3 times per week, I would apply my rules to all but one occasion and pick a low carb option like a steak with loads of salad or vegetables.
I don’t snack much in the week anymore. I used to think that if I ate 6 meals a day, my metabolism would be higher, but that’s actually a load of rubbish. I’ll eat some slices of ham or cured meat if I get home hungry but I don’t eat crisps or chocolate or have fizzy drinks at all in the day. Forget that rubbish exists and you’ll be happier in the long run.
If you find yourself hungry (not bored, not stressed, hungry), think of a snack as an oil change for the car. Necessary, but not much fun. Eat to nourish here, use a handful of nuts, a boiled egg. I must confess to a scotch egg or two at some point in the week and some chocolate too. I try to eat dark chocolate at night after my last meal.
I love ice cream and I love sweets and I love chocolate. My body fat hovers between 8-12%. I eat sweet foods as often as I can get away with it. But if you want to adopt this approach I suggest you learn how to abstain totally and then add some sweet foods back in. Its good to find the discipline required to abstain. If you are asking, “why is any chocolate or ice cream healthy? My answer is this: If I don’t eat any sweet food in the week, I am totally miserable and that’s not healthy. If I eat too much I feel sick and guilty and overweight and that’s not healthy either!!
LEARN TO SAY NO. AND MEAN IT…..
Remember what I said you needed to accept about food?
You can either eat what you want and look and feel unhealthy or you can restrict what you eat and look and feel amazing. YOUR CHOICE.
This goes double for alcohol.
You can either drink when you want and feel and look like shit, or you can limit alcohol, so you look and feel amazing. The more you limit alcohol, the better you will look and feel.
I often quit drinking for periods of anywhere between 1-3 months. I promise you every time that the longer I give up the booze, the better I feel and the easier I find it to be really fit and really lean. I also have periods where I drink too much. It hurts me physically and mentally!!!!!!!
If you plan to eat really well 2 out of every 3 meals every day and plan to eat moderately well all other times, you wont go wrong. Then, somewhere between once a week to once a month, eat and drink whatever you want. Reset your motivation and will power and get back on the healthy train.
If you think of a week a multiply it by 3 meals a day, you are going to eat 21 meals plus snacks, if you need them. If you have 15 meals that you always eat and find 6 variable meals, your chances of success in the long run are going to be much higher than if you have to constantly plan new meals which fit your goals. You really don’t have to be perfect, you just need consistency and the sooner you get 15 or more meals that you know match your goals, the easier they will be to achieve.
All our habits are driven by the same simple loop. This habit loop has three elements:
The trigger is the cue that starts your habit. For example, hunger is a trigger to eat (eating is the habit).
The reward is that you feel full and have energy to continue with your day.
All habits work like this and this knowledge is going to be powerful for you going forward.
The problem with so many of our habits, is that they function on auto pilot. So we don’t recognise that our behaviour leads to a very negative long term effect, which is not in fact a reward at all. It is just an immediate perceived reward.
40% of Human Decision Making Is Done on AUTOPILOT
So our habit loop often looks like….Tigger…….Behaviour………Result.
I really want you to focus on this and think about it all the time, especially when it comes to food and drinks. The way to combat poor auto pilot food choices is to create this trigger question every time you eat:
“Does this meal bring me closer to my goals?”
Start doing this with every meal and see if you start to make better choices.
This is great!! I’m assuming two things here: Firstly, that you are being honest with yourself and secondly, that you know what food actually helps you towards your goals. If you overcome these two absolute necessities and you answer yes to a meal, it is time to say the word ‘REWARD’. Either say it in your head or out loud, but say it and start to build some momentum with every meal.
This is an opportunity to learn. How many times do you eat meals that don’t fit with your goals? Learn about when you eat these meals and cut one out each week until you say yes more often than not. The key is here to have a good idea about when you eat poorly and to plan food for these times that actually help your goals.
This is common. I see many clients who want to lose weight. Eating healthy foods does not always equate to losing weight. A great example is fruit. Is it healthy? Absolutely. Will it help you lose weight? No. If you need more help in understanding healthy choices versus healthy weight loss choices, then you might like to read about the Habitpal Mantras. Following these will help you lose weight and feel great.
According to Prevention, women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol consume an additional 300 calories on days when they drink (which, depending on the drink, can be as little as one alcoholic beverage.) If you don’t replace those calories in other ways, you may notice some weight loss just by giving up the cocktails. A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition also found that moderate drinkers had poorer diets on drinking days.
According to Drinkaware, a UK-based alcohol education foundation, alcohol affects the quality of your sleep. When you drink too much, you spend less of the night in REM sleep, the deep restorative sleep needed by your body, and are more likely to wake early and not be able to fall back to sleep.
Alcohol is a diuretic, according to Prevention. This means that your body and your skin become dehydrated when you drink too much. Giving up alcohol can rehydrate your skin making it look healthier, and can also help in clearing up dandruff, eczema, and rosacea.
Have you noticed that you feel down in the dumps the day after drinking too much? This is because alcohol can interfere with the neurotransmitters in our brains, warns Drinkaware. When you drink, you more susceptible to anxiety and sadness while you’re drinking, and again once you sober up.
According to WebMD occasional excessive alcohol consumption can increase your desire, but may impede your sexual performance. In fact, Everyday Health warned that regularly drinking means that toxins from the alcohol can build up in your body and affect all of your organs, including those you use for sex.
Have you ever woken up with a stomachache after a night of drinking? A study in the journal Alcohol Health and Research World found that alcohol consumption interferes with the function of all parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Diarrhea and gastritis are common complaints after drinking, and can get worse the more often you drink. Giving up alcohol can help your gut get back to health.
The National Cancer Institute, alcohol consumption is linked to cancers of the head, neck, esophageal, liver, breast, colon and rectum. The more you drink, the greater the risk of developing one of these types of cancers.
According to Healthline, heavy drinkers are at greater risk for gum disease,tooth decay, and mouth sores. The site warned that alcohol abuse is the second most common risk factor for oral cancer. Drinking too much can also lead to increased plaque on your teeth and risk of permanent tooth loss.
Anyone who’s ever ordered a cocktail or glass of wine with dinner knows that drinks account for a big percentage of your dinner bill. Giving up alcohol can greatly lower your entertainment expenses, and give you some extra disposable income in hand. Even better? Put your beer money in the bank and save it for a splurge.
This one can be a hard one, especially around the holidays, festive days, celebratory days, or any days with food outside of your healthy eating plan, but the truth is that in order to lose weight and to maintain weight loss, you will have to say “no” to a lot of things that you want to say “yes” to.
The food will look great, smell great, and everyone around you will look happy as they eat the food that you too would like to be eating. It takes strength and willpower, but you have to implement the “no” and the self-control if you want to lose weight and maintain weight loss.
You will need to do this on a daily basis, until you are eating healthy food most of the time without thinking. Until then, make mindful food choices, and make “no” a word that gives you strength and momentum, when it comes to avoiding unhealthy foods.
Our bodies were made to be in motion and we suffer mental, physical, and spiritual effects when we are not moving sufficiently and when we are not getting enough activity in our daily lives. So get moving and find and way that works for you to track it.
It can be with a pedometer, an activity log, a daily break checklist, or a hybrid of methods but you’ll want to hold yourself accountable and want to see that activity “add up.”
Let’s look at how to implement a strategy that allows you to adopt this mantra with the least amount of stress to the fact that you are making lifestyle changes. Remember these two things:
Choose how many times you are going to commit to exercise. Pick a frequency you know you can stick to. So it might be that you commit to exercise twice a week for the first week and gradually increase your exercise frequency.
Don’t make drastic changes overnight. If you are not used to exercise at all, start by exercising for 10 minutes at a time. Then build up to 15 or 20 minutes, then build up to 30 minutes and beyond gradually, so you don’t get put off.
You will need to make some time in your day to do this. I highly recommend that start to schedule exercise into your diary, so you are making commitments. If you are are already getting up earlier, then I suggest exercise first thing. You have already got a trigger (your morning alarm) and if you just get up and exercise, its done and out of the way before breakfast. This will increase your motivation to have a day with healthy foods.
IT’S NOT ABOUT HAVING TIME IT’S ABOUT MAKING TIME
If you don’t make time for exercise in the morning, you have to make time for it at some other point, for example after work. Again, it’s really important that you schedule this into your diary and make sure you are 100% going all in. Do not let yourself talk yourself out of this.
Exercise will feel hard to begin with, but with every passing workout done and with every week completed, you will start to feel so much much more positive, healthier and better about about your fitness journey. This following is so true….
YOU ARE ONLY ONE WORKOUT AWAY FROM A GOOD MOOD
Write down and say your personalised mantra out loud every night
Here are some of the benefits of exercise…..