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.

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.

How to stay motivated

The most common questions I get asked are revolve around motivation;


‘how do you keep it going’,


‘how do you stay motivated’,


‘how do you get to the gym X amount of times a week’,


‘how are you so consistent with your sleep?’,


‘how do you maintain you physique?’.


The answer is…


…I have a plan! In my diary, everything is in there. My workouts, my meal times and my sleep.


Before I did this everything was so hap hazard and off the cuff. I was finding time instead of making time for the things essential to health and fitness.

That’s where the consistency comes from, having a routine! This structure and organisation omits the reliance on motivation. It’s overridden! My sleep regime, my exercise sessions etc. become a matter of course.


This plan for my lifestyle is one I can stick to and that I enjoy. because I have factored in the salient things and I do them day in day out, excellent health is the outcome.


By making time for the important things it makes motivation redundant. I do them regardless. Sometimes my motivation is high to do these things and sometimes it is low.


Because motivation is fickle, but routine and habit is consistent! And being consistent with your regime is how you achieve optimal health.


Another thing to consider is to make sure that your regime is realistic and enjoyable. Because if it is not, it is going to be difficult to stick to. And then you start bringing motivation into the equation. Motivation is what you don’t want to be reliant on/use.


Don’t get me wrong the times I’m motivated I embrace it and take full advantage of it. I’ll push myself a little harder, be more accurate with tasks and my productivity will be higher! But it’s not the foundation or the deciding factor in my actions.


The most important questions I ask my clients are ‘how often can you assign to this?’ ‘How many times a week can you exercise?’ ‘What’s a realistic bedtime for you?’ ‘What foods do you enjoy eating’ and ‘how many meal times do you prefer in a day?’
Because the best plan for your health and fitness is one that you can stick to! (And obviously one that gets you results).


Yes there are exercises that are going to be optimal for improving body composition. And to ensure that they are getting what their body requires for optimal function. And a few adjustments may have to be made. But you have got to be able to stick to it and enjoy it. And there in lies the secret sauce, adherence! It is the same with diet, if I tell you it’s chicken and broccoli for the rest of your days, you’re going to say ‘Andrew, kindly f*%k off!’.


This is why food plans are stupid. You’ve cultivated your diet over years and you eat at convenient times. To completely overhaul your diet is ludicrous! You won’t last very long before you throw in the towel and you are back with the diet you had before. But a nutrition plan well, that’s your diet tweaked to ensure you are getting the macronutrients inside of the meals you like.


I have had friends tell me that they had done a certain personal trainer’s, (let’s call him Joe) diet plan. And they lasted only a couple of weeks. Because ‘prepping like a boss’ (making meals for the week and putting them in Tupperware). And ‘eating clean’ is miles away from their normal diet. No wonder only 10% of the people that buy his plan complete it!


So when you’re thinking about sleep, stress management tactics, exercise and diet. Think about what you enjoy doing and you won’t need motivation!

Emotional Eating

When I first started working with C, his relationship with food was poor to say the least it. When addressing his diet. He told me he kept a stash of chocolate bars in a box in the cupboard.


We established that after a stressful day at work he would find himself going to the box of chocolate. He wasn’t hungry he just recalled that he would be stressed when he would do this. And the chocolate made him feel better, temporarily. Like dragging on a cigarette or getting inebriated does. His chocolate box was a kind of a ‘break in case of emergency’ box.


He wasn’t aware he was doing this until I asked the questions. And unbeknown to him every time he did this he was forming a habit. Get stressed > eat food to feel better (momentarily) and repeat!


Unfortunately after doing so he would experience guilt from eating so much. The stress would be replaced by guilt from lack of self control and he felt gluttonous.
Now, multiply that habit by a few years and it was no wonder his health and fitness was deteriorating.

Plus the other things he was experiencing as a result. Especially at work and presenting. He hated it as he felt uncomfortable talking in front of his peers and work colleagues.


He told me of how he got someone else from his team to present the project he had managed. And as a result he felt someone else was taking the credit for his work.


But he felt trapped from low self-confidence and uncomfortableness when standing in front of people, worried about people looking at him.


This issue had developed over time from the result of his emotional eating.
Emotional eating is a very big problem in society. What makes it particularly dangerous is not only does it work, as an effective acute stress reliever. (Because when you eat fun food, your brain releases dopamine. A neurotransmitter associated with pleasure). But it’s not obvious, compared to other stress coping mechanisms like alcohol or smoking.


Because it’s food! And food is good, we need food. The problem is the reason behind eating. You’re not eating because you’re hungry but because you’re stressed.
So when he and I began working together on the The Limitless Lifestyle Blueprint.

The first step was to create awareness. Listening and identifying the issue and making him aware of what he was doing. A lightbulb moment for him as he realised that he had been using this stress coping mechanism for so long. And it was the cause of his poor state of health.

Then I put in place a plan of action to get him fit and healthy. First was addressing the stress issue. So I put in place tools to alleviate/omit the stressors that were causing the problem. Then we introduced coping mechanisms that would be beneficial to his health. Rather than detrimental.


With other small changes to his lifestyle. This change has permeated through his personal and professional life. He now enjoys presenting his projects thanks to his new confidence and energy.

The best diet for weight loss

Telling yourself carbs is the reason you’re overweight,
is akin to blaming your council tax instalment for going overdrawn!


The reality is that it’s the total calorie intake that is cause of being overweight. Consuming more calories required for the amount your burn. Through movement and body function (metabolism). And yet so many people think that carbs are to blame.


It’s like cutting any macronutrient or food group from your diet. All you are doing by omitting a macronutrient (protein, fat, carbs) from your diet is cutting hundreds/thousands of calories from your diet.


In doing so you have achieved a calorie deficit! That’s all.


The biggest impact in weight loss (not fat loss) is when people take the carb cutting option i.e. keto/carnivore. This is because for every gram of carbohydrate you store (glycogen in your liver and muscles) with it you hold onto approximately 2.3 grams of water. So you have lost that water weight too along with the drop in body fat from creating a calorie deficit.


Not all that weight lost is from body fat! Which is not the optimal way to lose weight!

Your ideal weight loss would see you lose the majority if not all the weight from body fat. And keep the muscle, glycogen and water.


So what’s the best diet for weight loss you ask?!


Well, I want you to put exercise aside and tackle weight loss from adjusting your diet. Keep your regular exercise going (it would be prudent to do some weight/resistance training as part of it).


When setting up your diet for weight loss (fat loss) your diet needs to start off with a daily or weekly energy target. Download my free guide to work out the target relevant to you.


Then inside that calorie target you want to have a certain amount of calories assigned to protein. This is going to be a high proportion of those calories for several reasons. The most important ones being that high protein diets will aid muscle retention during weight loss. And also you’ll see a reduction in hunger (again very helpful when dieting).


Download my FREE guide to work out how much protein you need during weight loss.


The remaining calories are going to come from carbohydrates and fats. These proportions are going to be personal preference. Although I would try and encourage you to have a higher amount of calories from carbs, which will guard against muscle breakdown, than fats.


The end result will be far better as you will have achieved body recomposition. From reducing your body fat levels and retaining possibly slightly increasing your muscle mass.


There you have it, the optimal way to diet for weight loss. And you get to eat donuts and cake in the process! Which will play a big part in the psychology of dieting as you won’t feel restriction or guilt for breaking erroneous ‘diet rules’.

The pigeon hole trap

Have you ever heard about having the right diet and exercise for your body type?

This ‘body type’ premise has gained a lot of traction. The idea that people fit into 1 of 3 body types and they should exercise in accordance with the exercises suited to that body type.

Unfortunately a lot of people are buying into this. I say unfortunately because the body type principle is erroneous. The body types or Somatotypes; Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph are actually psychological profiles. Developed in the 1940s by American psychologist William Sheldon. Based on the theory that the size and shape of a person’s body indicated intelligence, moral worth and future achievement.

For example, an Ectomorph, characterized as skinny, weak, and usually tall with low testosterone levels. Their psychological traits would described them as intelligent, gentle and calm, but self-conscious, introverted and anxious.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good pyramid scheme? People and companies have gone on to make a lot of money selling weight loss and muscle building products based on this antiquated psychological method of generalisation.

What about the right diet for you blood type? Yep that is also a thing. It is the diet equivalent to choosing the fuel for your car based on its colour.

These ruthless and unsavoury characters are inferring that the reason you are struggling with weight loss or attaining a good physique is because you are not eating the right diet for your body type or your DNA.

They know the real reason that you are not losing weight is that you are not achieving a calorie deficit! But if you knew that then they wouldn’t purchase their snake oil.

Once you know the cause of weight loss and weight gain plus understand calories, macronutrients and food choices you then have the power to manage your weight. As a by-product you will look and feel great plus you will have done wonders for your health.

Save your money on expensive products and fads that mask a calorie deficit. Instead set up your own and get results that will be manageable for the rest of your life. For more help with this download your FREE copy of The Fitness Gentleman’s Vitality Handbook

A beautiful mess

As I scan the health and fitness horizon I see that from certain perspectives nutrition is an absolute mess.


Lots of competing theories. One source seems to suggest one thing. The very next day they seem to say the opposite. People interested in health, fitness and wellness are stuck in limbo. Confused.


Another point of view could be, that “mess” demonstrates the beauty of science. Putting all these ideas; good and bad into the ring and letting them fight it out.


This takes place over hundreds of years. And using a particular method to determine the winners. And that’s why nutrition science is so confusing at times. We haven’t yet had the hundreds of years for the best ones to emerge.


Fats, carbs, and protein weren’t even discovered until the 1800s. It’s only in the last 20 years that we’ve begun studying new problems, such as what’s healthy.

In a world full of tasty processed food and very little movement. All scientific disciplines begin with confusion, dead ends, frustration, and silliness.

But what’s young is going to mature. Nutrition science will grow up. Not as fast as we’d like. Yet over time, the scientific method will cut and prune and do its work. Meanwhile, here are some reasons why nutrition science can be so confusing at times. And why (sometimes) the media screws up reporting it.

1. It takes time to master a science – compared to Chemistry, nutrition is in its infancy.

2. Most funding goes to disease prevention, not preventative nutrition. Most researchers would ask ‘how can we prevent this epidemic’ over ‘how can we get abs’.

3. Where funding comes from can affect what studies find. Corporate pressures can influence study design so the results favour what the company want to show!

4. Most nutrition studies are observational. Remember; correlation isn’t causation! Does red meat cause heart disease and cancer?! Or do people with these chronic diseases happen to eat more red meat?!

5. If doing the research is tough, reporting it is going to be even harder! Journalists aren’t usually trained research scientists, which means that they often:

  • misunderstand study conclusions
  • over exaggerate single study findings (intentional or not)

Single studies are interesting but often not important. They only usually provide one piece of a big puzzle that may take hundreds of years to complete! So when you are perusing through the broadsheets. Take an article that’s based on the findings of a single study with a pinch of salt (which is healthy, for now lol).