Don't end up looking like Santa this year! The holiday season is fast approaching. It is a time of celebration for most of us and there are a never-ending array of parties and dinners to attend! It is a time of year when many months of hard work can be reversed in a matter of weeks.
This is NOT about being a grinch and ignoring the enjoyment of the festive season. In fact, I would argue you can have more fun and enjoyment if you focus on some of the strategies I will expand on below. It is about having fun whilst keeping yourself on track.
The Christmas season should be about enjoying friends, family and yes food. Here are a few things to consider over the coming 4 to 6 weeks that will help you stay healthy, happy, fit and enjoy the holiday season the best you can!
Enjoying Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is something I talk about in depth in my book Fit for Life and I have mentioned countless times to clients over the years. At this time of year there are options for food almost everywhere. Parties, Christmas dinners and all the favourite treats come out.
You don’t have to completely avoid these enjoyable foods. On the contrary, I want you to FULLY enjoy them. Enjoying food does not mean shoveling into your mouth as fast as possible. It means truly being present in the process of eating the food!
Savouring and enjoying food means paying attention to the food you are eating. It means being able to enjoy a smaller portion of food as if it were a big serving. The physical size of a meal is only part of the experience. Much of the feedback you get from food comes from things outside of it being in your stomach.
Your brain can only focus on a limited amount of input at any one time. If you are watching TV whilst eating, checking your phone or driving, you are limiting the attention you can give to your food and will feel far less satisfied with what you have eaten. This can lead to eating even more food to try and make up for it. At this time of year it is worth eating mindfully as often as possible and especially when it comes to big feasts!
A few tips for mindful eating:
Getting Exercise In
Whilst the holiday season is a busy time, it is also a time where many have plenty of time off. There is no reason to stop exercising and for many people it is a great time to exercise even more! That hike near your house that you have always wanted to try, a different sport with some friends, climbing at indoor rock-climbing, going for a kayak.
The possibilities are endless. If you are taking time off over the Christmas period then book in some extra time to get out and get your body moving! You will feel the endorphins from the movement and it will reduce the lethargic feelings you often get after the big Christmas feasts.
Get family and friends involved and enjoy the free time you have to move!
Focus on Health Outside the Parties
I will end up attending a big range of functions over the Christmas period, as will most of you. There is a party for every organization and every different group so you can end up with 10 different parties to attend!
With this in mind, it is worth focusing on your health and fitness outside these parties even more than usual. If you know you have 3 events this weekend where you will be drinking a bit of alcohol, you can focus on minimizing your drinking outside of these events completely.
If you want to go big on the feasts at these events then make sure you are reducing your junk food consumption outside of these events day to day so you can make up for it. This is a way to both enjoy the feasts and keep yourself on track!
One of the best strategies to consider over this period is strategic fasting. This is a way to enjoy big feasts without going crazy on the energy intake. Essentially it means planning ahead and knowing when the bigger meals will be.
As an example, if you know you have a big Christmas Dinner at night you can either fast completely through the day, or simply eat a very reduced amount throughout the day. If you are meant to be eating a reduced energy intake, fasting is one of the easiest ways to enjoy bigger meals and stay on track.
Fasting is not for everyone, if you have pre-existing medical conditions it is worth finding out if fasting is for you. If it is, use it throughout this season to control your food intake to reasonable levels!
If you are somebody who is keen to continue as if nothing changes then continue your weight loss and fitness goals as if this time of the year is no different. If on the other hand you are somebody who knows very well they will be eating and drinking more than usual then it is wise to evaluate your fitness goals for this time of year.
I often give clients one month to MAINTAIN their weight and fitness level over this time. This is harder than it looks from the outset if you are into the Christmas spirit and want to go big on the feasts and drinking.
Maintaining your weight means you are setting a realistic goal and not trying to do something unachievable. It also means you are not going backwards, instead you are simply pausing for a month with the promise to continue as soon as the month ends.
Focus on the Company
The most important part of the Christmas holiday season is catching up with friends and family and enjoying time together. The obsessive focus on food detracts from what gives you the most enjoyment at this time of the year!
Consider that a feast and alcohol is only part of the experience and shouldn’t be the total experience. Focus on all the other aspects that make this time of year enjoyable and you will find everything much more fulfilling than just stuffing your face!
It is very much possible to both thoroughly enjoy the Christmas period and keep your health and fitness on track. Being fit and healthy does NOT mean you have to go without fun. Using some of these strategies means you can have your cake and eat it too! You can enjoy this time of year and keep yourself fit and healthy ready to go into 2019 recharged and ready to tackle your fitness goals once again.
A good day makes a good week. A good week makes a good month. A good month makes a good year and a good year every year makes a good life!
Simple, yes but also a basic truth.
Far too often the fitness world is caught up in the perfect body, the perfect choice and the perfect long term goal.
There are common themes among the guys who come to me searching for help with their fitness worries.
The same mistakes come up over and over again. It is not surprising given that the mainstream fitness literature is filled with quick fixes and misinformation!
These sources feed on the desire to gain muscle and improve our fitness by sucking us into the endless trap of short term fixes. Once these short term fixes fail we can just move onto the next short term fix!
Today I will share with you 10 of the most common mistakes I see and what to do instead:
One of the most common questions I get is "what should I eat if I want to lose weight?"
Most people want the answer of specific foods. You should eat steak, vegetables, or some sort of superfood combination for optimal health.
The trouble is – we are all VERY different.
I have had so many clients over the years come with the same story. The story is one of frustration.
Trying and trying and trying but never seeing results.
Repeating through with some minor success only to be met with the same frustrations again.
The story can be outlined as follows:
Your brain isn’t always looking out for you. It isn’t always the good guy.
In fact, often it is the bad guy.
Imagine a person 10,000 years ago. They have the same brain as you yet their environment is totally different.
Frequent life threatening dangers were faced and dealt with.
Food was sparse and hard to come by. It took a lot of effort to either hunt down food by tracking it or by foraging for different foods in the wild.
Days could pass without a solid meal and when food did come it was nothing like what we eat today.
Contrast this environment to the modern western environment.
Have you tried losing weight or getting fit on your own?
For that matter, have you tried doing anything alone?
You need support.
You also need to look at who IS NOT supporting you as this is just as crucial.
Today I want to talk about the important of getting support around you if you are in pursuit of fitness goals (this also goes for any goal really).
You know the best way to tell if somebody will achieve their fitness goals?
What is a normal day for you?
Is normal eating poorly, rarely exercising or feeling terrible?
Or is normal feeling great, being active and eating well?
Life is a journey.
We define end points that we want to achieve but the only time we have is the now, the day to day.
Yes, it sounds like I am a hippy, a Zen master, Yoda or an ultra spiritual master. But this is the reality of our existence.
We need goals – in fact this is the first thing I focus on when it comes to helping people make a fitness change!
But without ENJOYMENT we will likely never reach our goals AND we will be unhappy along the way!
Enjoyment and fulfillment are what most people search for. Sometimes it is called happiness but what it really means is that you ENJOY every day and go to bed at night feeling a sense of fulfillment. Feeling like what you are doing each day is ‘worth it’.
If you HATE exercise, will you feel as much enjoyment?
If you have a bad relationship with food and view it as good and evil, will eating ever be fun?
Will you be able to achieve your goals?
Possibly, but it is making the entire process harder and less rewarding.
Do you feel you don’t have enough ‘energy’ to get things done?
Do you feel like your energy levels are too low?
Today I want to dig deep into what energy is about and how you can get ‘more of it’.
(bonus points if you count the number of times I use the word ‘energy’ throughout the article)
So, what is energy?
Recently a friend was troubled by her weight (a common story I know) and decided that enough was enough and this time things would change!
So the 'healthy' foods started to appear and the avoidance of all 'unhealthy' foods began.
After a few weeks they had already caved in and eaten the 'unhealthy' foods again!
But let's go further here, was changing to eating what she considered healthy foods actually helping her achieve her goals of weight loss?
No. The 'healthy', homemade foods were still calorie dense, her activity was still too low, her sleep was poor and her stress levels were still high!
No weight was lost... and the cycle began again.
The 'unhealthy' foods had been avoided! How could it go so wrong?
Running has been talked down even among fitness circles in recent years as the benefits of weight training are becoming more well-known. Whilst I agree that weight training is beneficial, that doesn’t mean running is not as important! Last week I wrote about the enjoyment of trail running. This week I want to introduce running as a general exercise.
Running is one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise especially once you are moderately good at it! When starting out, running can definitely feel hard and not worth it. This blog will outline how to begin running and encourage you to give it a go! This is not an in depth guide to running but will give you some idea of how to begin a running program.
Running on a paved road has never interested me and I find I get bored and stop very quickly. I can run much further and actually enjoy myself going trail running! As an Australian I am lucky that even in our major cities most of us can find a bush trail not too far away. Today I will share with you some reasons I love trail running and how you can start trail running!
Most trails have a much softer ground to land on than paved roads. Often the trails are sandy or have some vegetation. This makes it easier on your joints when running and wearing barefoot style shoes is a lot easier.
Welcome back to the blog for 2015! I hope everybody had a good break and had fun with family and friends. I certainly had many different things on and had an awesome time. After the hangovers pass, a new year makes us feel fresh and ready to tackle the year ahead; a clean slate to start anew. Let’s use the new year’s motivation to set solid goals and work towards owning them, making 2015 our best year yet!
Do New Years Resolutions work? Why you should set goals
We have all seen the people in the gym year after year lifting the same weights and not losing weight or improving their fitness. Maybe you’ve noticed the same for yourself, I was in a similar position when I started weight training at 16 years old.
This seems like a basic question but one that gets asked regularly. Whilst regular exercise is the best thing you can do for your health beside a healthy diet, there are many other reasons that we should exercise. If you ask anybody who exercises regularly why they do it there will be a variety of reasons why they choose to continue. Today I will share some of the reasons I exercise. Everybody will have slightly different motivators to exercise and there is sure to be at least a couple from this list that will motivate you!
What are calories?
Calories are essentially a way to measure the energy that comes from food. This will be measured in kilojoules or calories depending on your location. They are both the same thing, 1 Calorie = 4 kilojoules. All foods are made up of three ‘macronutrients’ they are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The cover photo shows 4 different foods in very different portion sizes all containing 200 calories!
The festive season is upon us which often means a lot of Christmas events and an abundance of food and alcohol. I like to celebrate as well but try to be sane about it. Many people can undo a lot of hard work throughout the year over the month or two of the holiday season. You can celebrate and not be deprived and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout this time. If you do not struggle with your weight then you probably don’t have to worry too much. If weight is an ongoing struggle for you then here are some tips to help you over the holiday period.
So how many meals should you eat each day? The short answer is that you should eat as many or few meals as you want as long as you are eating healthy. For the longer answer keep reading below. I personally eat 2-3 meals a day as it fits my goals and lifestyle. It is possible to have 1-10 meals per day and still be perfectly healthy, it all depends on the reasons you are eating that amount of meals.
One of the longest lasting myths within the fitness world is the idea that eating smaller meals more frequently is a healthier way to live. This has been told so many times that most of us take it as a fact. The reality is there is little evidence to support this notion. Here are a two of the most popular statements:
The human mind likes to work in absolutes. The cliché of black and white thinking can be seen everywhere. Health and fitness is no different. There are endless statements from people on all sides with claims of either good or bad things in relation to health and fitness. The reality is that like most things in life, health and fitness and most things associated with it exist on a continuum.
This continuum is what makes things so confusing. One person said salt is bad and another said salt is good, who do you trust and what health decision do you make? Often there is so much information out there now that people struggle to decipher the reality from the endless black and white.
We are all different, different people with different lives. A lot of fitness regimes and diets are very generalised and may not apply to a lot of people. Even where these programs work they may not be optimal for you as an individual. This is why I would always advise against trying to emulate the workouts or lifestyle of anybody else. You can try it out but the chances are trying to do the same workouts as a professional athlete is going to leave you worn out and not in optimal health.
How are we different?
There are some major differences between us. Some big factors are your gender and age as well as lifestyle factors such as how much you sleep, how well you sleep, how many hours you work each week, whether your job is physical or where or not you are you stressed from work.Your genetics will also determine how well you respond to exercise and diet.
Male body image is somewhat of an overlooked topic. Female body image is discussed at length and the damage that an unrealistic view of your body can cause is well known. This affects men in exactly the same way and there is a growing trend of younger males being very image conscious. Men feel they are meant to ‘man up’ in this area but research shows body image issues are almost as widespread among men as among women.
Body image can be a motivating factor to improving your fitness level but more commonly it is becoming an obsession that is having a negative effect on the overall health of men. There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight to look better or gain some muscle. The problem lies in the obsession with body image and often the people with the ‘best’ looking bodies are the ones worrying the most!
The myths about women doing weight/strength training are still going strong. Both men and women have many misconceptions about women and their response to weight training. There are many health benefits to regular weight training and in many ways women benefit even more than men. This article will clear up some misconceptions and show some ways that women can get into weight training. If you still have questions after reading please feel free to comment or contact me and I can help you to clear it up.
This is written for women who want to lift weights but are holding back for some reason. I will clear up a few of the major reasons why women don’t want to lift weights, outline why lifting heavy weights is good for women and how to get started lifting weights. If you truly don’t want to do weights then that is your choice, just make sure your reasons are your own and not based on myths or others people’s judgments!
Reasons against weights
The fire season is fast approaching here in Sydney and in many places it has already begun. As a volunteer firefighter, I understand the fitness level that is needed to fight fires once they come around. Whilst this is targeted toward local members, it is applicable for anybody in emergency services around the world getting ready for an upcoming season. This was suggested by a friend who is a member and is not directly about my own fitness business but I think it will be helpful for many people regardless. The exercises mentioned will help anybody trying to improve their fitness!
Why is fitness important?
We have been fed a lie. The lie that processed junk food is better tasting that healthier alternatives. Large corporations have been pummelling us with advertising for the last 50 years and we have been convinced that their food MUST taste better! If you say something often enough it starts to become real. I am not convinced that junk food tastes better than healthier alternatives.
The mind has a huge impact on how we view the world. Different people will see the same situation in totally different ways due to their preconceived assumptions. You can see this in the way people hold political or cultural beliefs. The same is true of food! Research has found that people will rate foods as tastier if they have been told it is unhealthy. The brain is a strong influencer on our taste and means that taste is very subjective.
Image: freedigitalphotos luigi diamanti
Eating is one the most basic things that humans do. We do it several times a day and it can become a side issue and even an annoyance that we have to spend so much time on it. This is unfortunate as eating is one of the most pleasurable activities we do and focusing on a few small things can increase the satisfaction and fulfillment we get from it. More satisfaction means less overeating and being much more content with the food you eat.
The approach I will be talking about is known as eating mindfully. Mindfulness is a common term used in regards to meditation. In the most basic sense it means thinking about what you are doing when you are doing it. For food, this means paying attention to your meal and not being distracted by the endless distractions present in the modern day. It is used as opposed to mindlessness, where you are eating without thought of the food and sometimes not even remembering eating.