Thursday, 29 September 2016

3 TIPS FOR GETTING AND STAYING ON TRACK

If you've hit a plateau, lost that passion you once had for getting to the gym and eating well or if you've just thought about mixing up your current regime but don't know where to start, I've tried to put together my top 3 tips that might help to get you back on track and stay there.


1. Do what YOU enjoy, not what's trending

It might be all the rage to hit the spin studio and move those legs as fast as you can to pumping music in a pitch black room or maybe you feel like you should be jumping on a treadmill and sprinting away while someone screams at you to up the incline... However, just because these are the latest gym fads, doesn't mean you have to follow them if you don't enjoy them.

Personally, I despise lengthy cardio sessions and hate running so can't think of anything worse than putting myself through the above! Equally, I was brainwashed into thinking that lifting as heavy weights as possible was the only way to get those 'booty gains', when in reality, maybe I don't feel like squatting more than my own body weight and risking injury... 

What I'm trying to say is that you're much more likely to stick to something if you enjoy it and this may not even necessarily be in the gym. It could be anything from hill walking to swimming – just find an activity you love and you'll start to do it because you want to, not because you feel you have to.  


2. Meal prep

This has been a saving grace for me with my busy lifestyle. At first I was shocked of the thought of eating chicken that had sat in my fridge for 3 days but during the week when you come home ravenous it’s SO handy to be able to open the fridge and have healthy food available for you to avoid you making bad yet convenient fast food choices. 

However, if you only prepare one meal a day, I would suggest making it your lunchbox. The lunch break is a period where you're often extremely hungry and short on time. 

Unfortunately, shop bought lunches are often filled with lots of hidden ingredients, which can suddenly ramp up your sugar, fat and calorie intake for the day, despite it being advertised as a ‘healthy salad’. So try to take a prepared lunch to work instead of panic buying something from a nearby shop or always heading for your favourite take out. This will not only save you from making an unhealthy choice but also save you a lot of money and give you a bit more time to relax in your lunch hour.

Preparing your own meals allows you to know exactly what goes into your food and you can often make it much more nutritious than anything you'll find in a shop. If I meal prep throughout the week then it also gives me freedom to enjoy meals out with family and friends on the weekend without taking too much of a back step on my nutrition and fitness goals. 

Lastly, meal prep doesn't have to be boring! Below is an example of my typical lunchbox - thai marinated chicken breast, roasted broccoli and homemade cauliflower, potato and butterbean curry with fresh parsley (and a cheeky energy ball for dessert)! 

I will do some blog posts in the future for meal prep ideas, which taste just as good, if not better, on the third day of eating it as they did on the first! 

My typical lunchbox (description in text above)


3. Baby steps and consistency 

Firstly, it's so important to try and remember not to compare your chapter 1 to someone else's chapter 20. Seeing that perfect set of abs on Instagram makes it so tempting to just go in like a bull in a china shop and make drastic changes to your lifestyle, expecting it to miraculously give you that dream body. But unfortunately, the story behind the picture is usually not told and it often takes years of experimenting with different training styles and diets to find what works for you before you will start seeing results.

If you’ve never exercised before, don’t suddenly start going to the gym 6 times a week. Maybe start with 2-3 times a week and build up your strength and endurance slowly. Running before you can walk, so to speak, will only leave you with reduced recovery time, sore muscles and most likely a negative mind set surrounding the gym!

Similarly with diet, I see SO many people with a lunch of a few shreds of iceberg lettuce and tin of tuna thinking that’s the key to weight loss or fat loss. This is so extreme and more importantly SO unnecessary. I would never advocate such a thing as you’ll likely be starving by the evening and binge on anything you can get your hands on! 

In my experience, consistently eating a balanced diet of wholesome, nourishing foods at every meal has been crucial to seeing the results I've been striving for. I personally eat carbs at every meal as it keeps my blood sugar stable and provides satiety but there are numerous schools of thought. One thing I will say though is that carbs are NOT the enemy and will not 'make you fat' as many myths would have you believe. Cutting out essential food groups like this can often do more harm than good and lead to undesirable consequences in the future, such as metabolism damage. I plan on doing a blog post focusing on all things carbs with one of my good friends, who is an experienced dietician, as it's such a misleading concept that so many people unfortunately still believe. 

My advice would be to start with making small food swaps.
Firstly, identify your vice - What is your weakness? What do you constantly reach for in times of stress or boredom? What do you have every day that you think you could do without?
When you are able to identify this, see if you can consume healthier options of your vices, but do so one at a time so that it's not a huge change at once:
  • mayonnaise or salad cream for avocado (high in heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium and fibre)
  • store bought sliced white bread for freshly baked sourdough or rye loaves (higher in fibre and lower in additives)
  • biscuits for a handful of nuts or seeds (high in essential vitamins and minerals and much lower in sugar!)
  • store bought milk chocolate bar for unrefined dark chocolate (raw if possible e.g. those from the raw chocolate company, which contain raw cacao - the unprocessed version of cocoa. As mentioned in my blog post about cacao, which you can read here, it is bursting full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and can help lower blood pressure and increase mood boosting serotonin. If you really can't stand the taste of dark chocolate, try a sugar free variety with extra benefits such as this Ohso probiotic chocolate)
If theses tips on healthier swaps are useful then send me an email or comment below if you would like a separate blog post on this and I can expand on a whole range of easy swaps. 

The main message is find what works for you because if it doesn't then you won't stick to it, period. The key is not to go to extremes, especially with diet, because you’ll get bored and hungry or even worse, hangry! Most of us are guilty of making an alteration to our lifestyle and expecting instant results, when in reality it takes at least 2-4 weeks to see change. So make small, sustainable adjustments, be consistent and not too judgmental on yourself and I promise you it will all pay off.  

Jess x



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