The weigh in

On your weight loss journey, there are many ways to keep tabs on your progress.

If you’re going to be stepping on the scales to gauge your progress keep reading, I’ll tell you how to do it so you get it right!

Firstly, stop weighing yourself at every possible opportunity. After a workout at the gym, when at the pharmacy, at random times of the day, or any time you see a set of scales!

There are so many variables that go into the number you see on the scales.

Weight might be down if you’ve been sweating a lot. Weight might be up if you’ve eaten a lot. Weight might be up from water retention if you’ve had a meal high in sodium or carbohydrates.

So to cut out these variables weigh yourself at the same time of day. I would advise that be first thing in the morning after going to the toilet. In minimal clothing and before you have anything to eat or drink. This weigh-in should be the only one you record.

Then it’s on you to resist the urge to step on the scales at other times of the day! As these readings will be irrelevant.

Next, when it comes to the frequency of weigh-ins I’d recommend you go for daily. Making it part of your routine. The reason being is; I don’t want you to miss a new low!

And the most important thing to bear in mind is that you will see fluctuations daily. Up one day, down the next. Going forward you are looking for a trend, a new low each week! Not each day! This will mean that what you are doing is working!

I wish you all the best with your progress.

Surf the wave

When it comes to dieting reducing your calories through reducing portion sizes, or omitting a snack or meal (to create an energy deficit; the only way fat loss will occur!) is an easy way to achieve this.

Yet there will be something to consider during your dieting periods. Hunger!
Along with emotional eating and boredom, hunger is another test you will encounter on your health drive.

Not only is it one of the most powerful diet disruptors but it is also the most misunderstood.

The concept of stress eating and boredom eating are very straight forward. Stress levels are high, we eat something (usually fun food) and it temporarily makes us feel better. And boredom eating fills a void / gives us something to do during periods of downtime. Simple.

But hunger is a different animal. Our body brings about feelings of hunger (due to elevated levels of a hormone Ghrelin).

The common misconception is that as we go longer and longer without food our hunger levels increase.

So it makes sense to ‘flatten the curve’ by eating something. The hunger sensation is notable so we look to remedy this by eating something asap. This urgency sees us bypass mindfulness over what we choose to supress this pang! Making it hard to keep to our targets for our diet.

But, what actually happens (and this is prudent to recall during periods of hunger) is that our hunger levels come in waves.

You have condition these waves to peak and trough with your eating habits overs time. So you will feel hungry at the time you usually have a meal/snack.

So if you are cutting out a meal or snack to reduce your calories. Know that during the time where you would have had this meal/snack you will feel hungry. This is the peak/crest of the wave.

It’s your job to ride the wave, embrace the sensation, accept it and surf the hunger wave. The wave will die down/pass.

Dieting is much like surfing, you have to appreciate the waves if you want to be good at it.

If you would like to know how to reduce the intensity of these hunger wave check out my blog. How optimising ‘protein density’ can help you maintain muscle and stay full whilst dieting.

Confirmation danger

I’m going to talk to you about Dave.

Following the decadence that is this time of year Dave has been considering doing something to get in better shape in the new year.

As part of his new health and fitness drive Dave wants to lose a few pounds. So he makes a decision to try a diet that one of his work colleagues is doing.

He checks progress on the scales every morning. If he has lost weight he pats himself on the back and considers the diet a success. If he has gained weight he writes it off as a normal fluctuation and forgets about it.

For weeks he lives under the illusion that the diet is working. He tells himself ‘it must be the fact that he’s started exercising and that all the muscle he’s developed is offsetting the weight loss’. Because he knows muscle weighs more than fat.

More weeks pass and even though his weight remains constant. He’s not seeing any changes to his body but he tells himself he just needs to double down on what he’s doing.

More time passes. Dave still hasn’t seen any movement on the scales and his clothes are still just as tight.

‘It must be more muscle growth and water retention’ he tells himself.

Sound familiar? I hope not!

What’s happened is that Dave has fallen victim of a confirmation bias. Albeit a harmless one, but it has been costly to him as he’s wasted a lot of time.

The confirmation bias is the mother of all misconceptions. it’s the tendency to interpret new information so it becomes compatible with our existing beliefs.

We filter out any new information that contradicts our existing views disconfirming evidence. It is a dangerous practice; ceasing to acknowledge that facts exist because they are ignored!

Yet, we do exactly that! What human beings are best at is interpreting new information so our prior conclusions remain intact. Hiding the presence of disconfirming evidence.

It is incumbent on you to fight the confirmation bias. So whenever observations contradict your theory take them seriously do not merely brush them aside! Lean into them, test your beliefs.

And do it sooner rather than later as the brain does a very good job of forgetting disconfirming evidence after a short time!

The more certain you judge your belief to be, the more active you should be in looking for contradictions!

Your recovery Rockstar

Did you know that getting adequate and good quality sleep has a significant impact on hormone balance and muscle protein synthesis.


Outside of muscle growth, sleep deprivation has also been directly linked to an increase in appetite and as a result an increase in body fat. Because when you are not getting enough quality sleep hormones called Ghrelin and Leptin are affected and can effect our hunger levels.


Poor sleep will also lead to detrimental effects on your immune system
Because sleep helps T cells, a key part of our immune system, get to other places. Having enough T cells around to keep an eye on things means that we’re better able to start an immune response as needed.


But that’s not all. Remember that sleep helps us learn and remember? Well, it works for immune cells too.


Sleep boosts the immune system’s ability to ‘remember’ particular antigens, such as viruses. And more effectively produce antibodies or specific defenses against a particular antigen.


The most beneficial phases of sleep are the 2-3 hours of deep sleep we should experience each night. Deep sleep is very restorative and is where our stress hormone cortisol is at its lowest. And other hormones that support muscle growth are at their most potent.


Phases of sleep and the circadian system affect our immune and inflammatory responses. During this period there are changes to levels of various hormones.


These hormonal changes help boost the adaptive immune response. By helping it learn and “remember” antigens. When we sleep, our immune system is transferring what it’s learned about specific antigens (such as viruses) into its ‘long-term memory’. Which helps it recognize and respond effectively to the same antigens in future.


Cortisol is a stress-response and steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of vital body processes. And, it plays a crucial role in our sleep.
Under normal circumstances, cortisol follows a strong circadian rhythm. It’s highest when we first wake up, and decreases throughout the day.


When we don’t get enough sleep, we see less variation in the circadian rhythm of cortisol. We don’t get the highest highs in the morning, nor does cortisol drop as much in the evening.


This means that we often end up with higher measurements of cortisol after poor sleep because it doesn’t decrease like it should. On top of that, not getting enough sleep is stressful, too!


So, does it matter if we get a bad night’s sleep, or if our cortisol is too high, or both?


Yes.


Some research has suggested that cortisol could be the factor that links poor sleep to the development of depression. These things often go together.


For instance, a hallmark symptom of depression is changes in sleep. Including more awakenings in the night, difficulty falling asleep, and less deep sleep. Unsurprisingly, people who have depression often also have higher concentrations of cortisol.


If we’re able to improve our sleep and reduce our cortisol levels (i.e., deal with our sleep and stress), it will likely also help us better take care of our emotional, psychological and social well-being.


You can get started on improving your sleep quality by:

  • increasing darkness in the bedroom
  • have a regular time for going to bed
  • remove electrical equipment from the bedroom
  • maintain a cool temperature in the bedroom
  • use an alarm that will wake you up in a light sleep phase

Peanuts

I’m going to share with you a story from when I was working in a Health Club.


I was delivering a seminar and afterwards a couple came to speak to me. They told me they had tried every fad diet and product that I had slammed in my talk. And they still were struggling with fat loss. I could see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, they were desperate, at the end of their tether. We spoke briefly and they booked in for a consultation the following week.

When we met they brought with them their food diaries which I had asked for. As I reviewed their diaries I had to refrain from laughing at the bickering between them. As I went through one persons food diary the other would throw in dispersions and judgements. ‘I don’t know why you eat that crap’, ‘I told you not to eat that!’


What was confusing to me was that on reviewing their diaries, their diets looked pretty good. They were far from the best I had ever seen but far from the worst. The judgements and condescension from their partner were definitely unwarranted. It wasn’t evident understand why they were in the predicament they were.


My train of thought went to recording inaccuracy, which is very common. People underestimate their true calorie intake by astonishing percentages. I’m talking about possibly 45 percent! Depending on factors like age, sex and body composition.


I asked them in a polite way if they had recorded everything. And how accurate they thought they had been. It looked like they were very thorough. because things like takeaways and alcohol had were on there (plus the amount). Which some people tend to omit out of fear of judgement. There were even some corrections to amounts in their recording.


At this point it was a case of delving a little deeper into where things were going array. As the calories they were consuming were at an amount where they should be losing weight. I went through in detail each of the foods on their diaries to confirm amounts. And then we made a breakthrough.


I identified on both their lists a bag of peanuts. I knew the energy content of a bag of peanuts and confirmed with them it was just a bag. To throw more confusion into the mix they told me that sometimes they didn’t finish the bag. Befuddled by their congruence with what they had told me I sat there perplexed. Until a thought popped into my head.


‘Trust but verify’.


Maybe it was my assumption that had caused my confusion?!I loaded up on my phone images of different bags of peanuts. To my amazement they pointed at the bag they had been ‘snacking’ on was a kilo bag! Yep 4,300 calories per bag!


The reason for which was because they had heard that nuts were a ‘healthy’ snack. So they worked on the premise that it would be healthy to have a lot.
I explained that whilst nuts are a good source of nutrients it was the amount that was the issue.

Unless you are a heavyweight boxer or artic explorer it was unlikely you would need that much energy. Especially with their sedentary lifestyle. From here it was a simple switch to a small bag of peanuts. The most straight forward resolution I’ve ever made to improving someone’s health.


This simple change to their diet saw her close to 5 stone, and him nearly the same. But more importantly it has hugely improved the quality of their lives. They are more active, they have more energy and yes they still enjoy the odd peanut 🙂

The blame game

The big mindset switch for me, the thing that has helped me the most, was from when I was studying psychology.


It was something that resonated with me and has been so important in my perspective of life. Thinking about it today it’s almost like a secret that I’m so glad came to hear about.


This secret, this Bastian of power is taking responsibility. No longer believing that other things were to blame. It was down to me. Thinking this was flipped the narrative and meant I took charge of my life.


I believe that no matter what happens to me I created it on some level. I am responsible for it. It it’s not there because of my physical actions it’s there because of my mental action. Thoughts of things which I’ve attracted.


And here is why you might want to adopt this belief system, because the alternative is scary! Let me explain. If you’re not in control of your life, you’re not responsible. If you blame others or circumstances, you’ve got a big problem! Because you have no power to change it. You are impotent.


But with the belief system I’m proposing to you. the belief that you are not a victim of circumstance. If you believe that whatever has happened is down to you generating it on some level. Then if you don’t like it you can change it!


Do you see where I’m going with this? My point being that I’m not trying to make you feel culpable. But I’m empower you, so if you don’t like how things are going you know you can change them.


In victim mode the following things or circumstances are responsible for your health:


Carbs

Thyroid/slow metabolism

Big bones

Lack of time

Body type


When you take control /responsibility what you’ll see is that your poor health and fitness is down to:


Lack of self control

Unaware of energy balance

Overestimating your calorie expenditure

Rewarding yourself with food

Poor food choices

Poor stress coping mechanisms


Now I know it’s easy to play the blame game. I’ve been there. The universe, him, her, this, that and everything else but myself, was to blame for why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.


But once you take responsibility for everything, good or bad. You can take credit for the wins. But you must also take responsibility when it doesn’t go your way. Knowing that you can change it!


You are 100% in control of your health and fitness!

Baptism of fire

I remember when I first started in a Health Club many years ago and I had a consultation with a new client.


When I asked him about his goals I was a little taken back by what happened next.


He went to his bag and out from it he pulled a copy of Men’s Health magazine. He held the magazine and pointed to the bronzed Adonis on the front cover.


‘I want this guy’s body’ he said.


In my head I was thinking ‘this is something one would do in a barbers’.


This was one of my first consultations and turned out to be quite the baptism of fire. The rest of the consultation was spent managing expectations and understanding why he wanted this man’s body.


I mean the chap on the cover looked great and I could see the appeal. In my teens I would have had copies of these magazines and trying to emulate the model on the cover. Thinking this is what I need to look like.
Needless to say I never came close (partly because the info in the magazines was so confusing). Partly because of what I’m about to tell you next.
His goal, although endearing, didn’t make sense. He wanted to look like someone else!


I had to the explain to the portly, middle aged gentleman sitting in front of me. The professional model on the front cover had spent years training and nourishing himself to achieve that physique. It was his job to look like that.
Also the model would take extra steps in the months leading up to the shoot. Lighting, tanning, makeup and airbrushing would do the rest.


I told him that ‘the guy on the cover doesn’t even look like the guy on the cover!’


I explained to the gentleman that it would be prudent to focus on himself and getting his body to the best it can be. And we agreed on goals that were going to make him feel good about his body, improve his confidence and health.


This instance wasn’t a one off. I noticed more and more guys were proposing the same thing in consultations. And I know why. It’s because we are constantly subjected to these images of physical perfection. Magazines, advertisements, commercials etc. And we compare and contrast. We look at other people’s chapter twenty and compare it to our chapter one. This seldom feels good and it seems so far removed and unobtainable we become apathetic.


Now, if you didn’t already know; comparison is the thief of joy! So don’t do that! It’s not going to help. Yes you can appreciate the time and effort these people have devoted, but that is all.


When setting your goals concentrate on improving yourself. Becoming a better version of you, then put your energy into the small steps to achieve that. Things like:


*Eating better, without dieting or feeling deprived.

*Being active, no matter what shape you’re in now.

*Ditching the food rules, dropping the fad diets, and conflicting advice. *Building fitness into your life, without it taking over.

*Achieving and maintaining your goals, even when life gets busy.


Which will see you:


*Losing the weight/fat you haven’t been able to shed for years.

*Building physical strength and confidence in your body.

*Gaining mental confidence, no longer hiding your gifts and talents.

*Letting go of food confusion, learning what to do, how to do it.

*Getting off the diet roller coaster once and for all, and never looking back.


So, stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to your previous self.

What alchemy is this?!

You see your co worker, friend or family member at meal times and they seem to have a lot of food on their plate.

This isn’t the first time you’ve noticed. You ask yourself ‘how do they eat so much and stay slim?’


It feels like you’ve got hardly anything on your plate but you’re stuck in XL clothing. Nothing you’re doing is going to get you back into your suits. And now you’ve had to bite the bullet and buy the next size up.


All sorts of reasons come into your head to make sense of what is happening.


Maybe they have one of those fast metabolisms?!


‘Their meal seems to be low in carbs maybe that’s it?!’


You want to put an end to your curiosity but a thought stops you:


I couldn’t possible ask them how they are eating so much and stay so slim that would be rude.


So you there you are, left in wonderment.


Let me explain what is going on and put you out of your misery and confusion.


This is the majesty of energy balance at work.

That person has an equal amount of energy coming in as they do going out. Over the long term.


What you are seeing is a snap shot of that persons day, one food serving. You don’t get to see what they do for the rest of the day.


Unbeknown to you that big meal that you saw them eat could be the only meal they are consuming all day (calories in).


Unbeknown to you they could be a super active person through the day. They might also exercise in the morning a bit more in the evening (calories out).


In answer to your question; their energy intake matches their energy output over the long term. Calories in match calories out.


Your body is very comfortable in this position and won’t try and convince you to move from this point. Only when you start changing your weight will your body push back and convince you to stop.


The most important thing to take from this is; if you are trying to lose weight but it doesn’t seem to be happening. It’s because your calorie intake is matching your calorie output.


So what you need to do is tip the energy balance scales in your favour. To see you expending more calories than you are consuming. This is what is known as an energy deficit and is the mechanism that every weight loss diet works on. Every single one. It’s only the methods to get you to achieve this that differ from diet to diet.


When looking to lose weight you need a starting point! And you want to keep it as simple as possible. You need to know your energy requirements for weight loss (a daily or weekly target).

Then you need to record what your energy intake is. (Don’t say I’ll tot it up in my head, you are not rain man, plus you’ll be way out). Use something simple like a tracker (MyFitnessPal).


Sticking to this will see you achieve weight loss, but that’s only one half of having a healthy diet. The other is making sure that 80% of the energy/calories you are consuming are from nutrient dense foods.


Stick with this and it won’t be long before you might get someone plucking up the courage to ask you;


‘How do you eat so much and stay so slim?’


If you need more help with this get your copy of my Guide to Vitality.

Danger on the climb down

I read a fascinating article yesterday about mountain climbers. It was the Headline that caught my attention;

Mount Everest record-holder says — ‘it’s the trek down that kills people!

Veteran Everest climber Kami Rita Sherpa — (who holds the world record for Everest summits with 24 to his name). Said all Everest climbers should focus on making sure they have enough energy to get back down the mountain.

And that’s the thing, most people don’t even consider the journey down. All their attention is on clambering up 8849 meters of rock reaching the summit and celebrating.

Which is the same when people are working on a weight loss goal, when they manage to meet their goal weight they fail with keeping it off!

Most people don’t even contemplate the part where it comes to maintaining their new shape. (That’s if they get there).

Which is why so many people rebound hard to a wosre postion than which they started. That’s because they only tackled the diet aspect of their lifestyle and not the other aspects which have an effect on their diet.

They are hanging by a thread. Until the other factors that haven’t been addressed (stress, poor recovery, poor sleep, inactivity) start to make an impact. Then the diet gives way, which sees the weight rebound.

Your weight management is an indicator that those other factors in your life are in a good place (excluding smokers). So it is prudent that those things are addressed as well as your diet.

Rather than all the attention put on your diet, getting to a certain weight, falling down the mountain and ending up in a mess at the bottom.

If you are in need of a Sherpa to guide you on the health and fitness terrain click here.

Cholesterol – The Silent Killer

Cholesterol is often dubbed the silent killer because it doesn’t manifest itself through symptoms or a person’s physical appearance.

It only get’s talked about when you hear about a co worker who keeled over on the treadmill at the gym or on his driveway cleaning his car.

Which may get you to thinking ‘how do I avoid the same fate?’

Here’s the low down on cholesterol and what steps you can take to keep it at a good level.

Firstly it’s prudent that you know what it is. Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Cholesterol is carried in your blood by lipoproteins.

HDL (High density Lipoproteins) which some people refer to as “good cholesterol”, and higher levels are better.

LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) which people refer to as “bad cholesterol”.

Having an excessively high level of lipids in your blood can have an effect on your health. High cholesterol itself doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, but it increases your risk of serious health conditions.

Causes of high cholesterol include: Eating high levels of saturated fats (think cheese and fatty meats), smoking, having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension).

So how do you go about being in a position where you don’t need to worry about needing a stent or shuffling off this mortal coil a bit previous. Well, being in a healthy range of body fat (not a specific weight) will put you in good stead.

Eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds. Increase soluble fibre. Soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fibre is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.

Exercise, this should include resistance or strength training which has the most health benefits of all exercise modalities.

Cut down on your alcohol intake. Yes weekends of debauchery are amusing but what about the occasional alcohol free beer or mocktail?

It’s easier said than done to say stop smoking. However, have you ever considered vaping? Which is a step in the right direction. Then from there it could be patches a bit of hypnosis (if required) and before you know it you are off the cancer sticks and an ‘ex smoker’.