How to lose weight fast using Maths!!

Hi Everyone,

So if you are like me, or in fact any normal human being, you will have at one time or another wanted to lose some weight. How important that is to you will to a large extent depend on just how overweight you believe you are, and what your end goal is.

So you want to lose weight…….then what? How, over what period, in what way? Does this mean you’ve got to go on a diet? And if so which one, there are literally hundreds of them.

Now at this point I’m going to own up to being something of a hypocrite. I have written articles before (see here) where I have attacked diets and said that they don’t work. For me that still holds true. Rather than going ON A DIET I would advocate adopting a long term healthy eating plan that you can maintain AND that also allows you to eat some of the things you enjoy and have a blow out now and then whilst still controlling your weight.

However, that is not to say that you can’t adopt a plan to lose weight when necessary and this article is purely about the mechanics of how to do that. The subject has become almost fiendishly complicated in many peoples minds and my aim is to simplify it as much as possible. Low carb? Low Fat? High Protein? Which is the right path? Most people become so confused and frustrated they just revert back to their normal eating habits and never achieve the results they want.

So lets start with the basics….Calories. You’ve all heard of those right, your dreaded enemy in the battle with the scales. Well not really, a Calorie is just a calorie, it’s neutral. It’s how many and what you do with them that counts.

Calories and what to do with them.

A calorie is simply a measure of energy, heat energy to be precise. Food releases energy as it burns inside the body, so the more calories something contains, the more energy it releases. Body fat is essentially stored energy. So if you don’t use up the energy (Calories) that you eat, your body will store them as fat for future use (or not). Here is the first Maths fact. Each pound of Fat contains 3500 Calories. So in simple terms if you eat 3500 calories more than you use in a week, you will gain roughly a pound of fat.

Essentially you can think of your body as a bank account and Calories as money. If you use/spend the exact amount you put in the account you will remain level. If you put in more than you use your balance will go up (gain fat), and if you use more than you put in your balance will go down (one of the few times its good to spend too much).

To some extent it really is as simple as that. Use more Calories than you eat and you’ll lose weight. From a purely weight loss/gain point of view it also doesn’t really matter where those calories come from ie whether it is healthy or completely unhealthy food, the result will be the same. However not all calories are created equal and clearly from a health, nutritional, muscular, vascular and overall wellbeing perspective its good to eat as healthily as possible and get your calories from good sources.  Don’t just eat rubbish.

So, here is the key part. How do you work out exactly how many calories you use and how many you should be eating to obtain your goals.

This is where it becomes slightly more difficult, but keep reading and I’ll make it as simple as possible. Each persons metabolism (the speed and rate at which it burns calories) will vary slightly and is affected by how much and what type of activity and exercise you do. It also varies slightly from men to women. Roughly speaking however, these figures will work.

First you need to work out your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the rate that if you laid in bed all day and did very little you would burn calories. Essentially its your maintenance rate each day.

Do this calculation: 66+ (6.3 x your weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years). So to use me as an example:  (6.3 x 168lb) + (12.9 x 68) – (6.8 x 48) = 1675. So my BMR is 1675. You then have to factor in just how active you are. Do you sit at a desk all day and do no exercise, or do you work as a labourer and go to the gym?

Sedentary – desk job, very little exercise. Multiply BMR x 1.2

Lightly Active – Workout or do some activity 1-3 days per week. Multiply BMR x 1.325

Moderately Active – workout 3-5 days per week. Multiply BMR x 1.55

Very Active – workout 6-7 days per week. Multiply BMR x 1.725

Extremely Active – workout everyday in addition to a physically demanding job (rare). Multiply BMR x 1.9.

So again using me as an example. I am probably between moderately active as i workout 5 days a week but do a sedentary job, so i took a figure of 1.55. 1675 x 1.55 = 2596.25. So for me my Total daily expenditure of Calories living the lifestyle i do is 2596 per day or 18,173.75 calories a week.

Remember i said earlier that 3500 Calories = 1lb of fat. So very simply if i cut my calories intake by 3500 to 14,673 per week or 2096 per day, then i should lose a pound of fat per week. For most people it is sensible to cut your calorie intake by 15/20% (in my example it was 19%.

It really is as simple as that. Get a calculator, work out what your Base Metabolic rate is. Multiply that (be honest now) by your activity levels, cut 15/20% off of that figure and hey presto you will lose weight.

Of course what that means is that you do need to count calories fairly carefully. Nowadays most things are labelled so it’s not that hard. It also means you are allowed to have some good days and bad days as long as you achieve your overall target each week. It also means that whilst it is best to get your calories from non processed, healthy and natural products ( fish, meat , poultry, vegetables, healthy fats etc), you are allowed to be naughty now and then and hit the ice cream, as long as you meet your weekly target.

Throw in some intensive exercise and you WILL achieve your targets. I’d also add that if you are heavily overweight and you are currently eating way over your total daily calorie expenditure then you will find that if you get your calorie levels to where they should be, then initially at least the 1lb per week barrier is conservative. You may find that for the first few weeks you lose 2lb or even more.

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve kept this on a very simple level. There is a lot more detail to be covered in terms of exactly HOW you should eat and WHAT you should eat. Specifically there is the complex topic of Protein, Fats and Carbs and if you really want to get into some detail, Macro levels and how to eat to build or maintain muscle. However, I’ll do an article on that in the next couple of weeks. For now lets keep it simple.

Work out your daily calorie rate to maintain your current lifestyle and activity levels using the formula I’ve given you. Knock off 15/20%. Eat as healthily as possible, treat yourself now and then (this is Ordinary Guy Fitness after all) and exercise regularly. Follow these simple numbers and the fat loss will come and weight loss will follow.

Take Care,

John

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How Eggs can help you lose Flab!!

Hi Everyone,

If you’ve read some of my blogs and posts before you will know that generally speaking I am very anti diet. As I explain here , in the long term I just don’t think they work. You can’t live “on a diet” forever  and inevitably at some point you will fall off the wagon. Much better, in my opinion, to change your eating habits for the long term and move to a more sustainable healthy eating plan where you eat well for the most part, but also allow yourself some treats and to misbehave on a regular basis. Read on to lose flab quickly and easily.

However I am now going to show myself up to be a complete hyprocrite and admit….I’m on a diet!! Let me explain. I am currently training really hard, hitting the gym 5 days a week, and trying to build muscle size AND stay lean at the same time (an impossible goal many would argue). However , despite my hard work both in the gym and trying to eat pretty well, I still have some stubborn flab around my lower belly, love handles and lower back. The classic slightly soft mid section of a guy in his late 40’s to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I am being hyper critical of myself, but then again I am a vain bastard and summer is coming, what can I say.

So I wanted a diet/eating plan that would allow me to maintain my size, contained plenty of protein for ongoing muscle growth AND would hopefully help me shift some flab and fat.

So whilst looking around I stumbled across “The boiled egg diet”. It sounds horrific I know, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. For me it ticked all the boxes. Lots of protein, lots of good fats, very few (if any starchy carbs) but also lots of good carbs and fibre from Vegetables and fruit. Would this help me maintain muscle and lose some flab?

I’m well aware that in some circles eggs have a bad reputation. Too high in fat! Too much Cholesterol! The risk of illness etc!

However, from all the research I have done eggs are an extremely healthy food as they contain lots of protein and numerous nutrients. Eggs provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients for our bodies.

Eggs contain a lot of nutrients, high-quality protein, good fats, minerals and vitamins. One egg is rich in Selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B5 and Vitamin B12. They also contain minerals and vitamins such as Folate, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc and iron.

One large egg contains small amounts of carbohydrates, five grams of fat, six grams of quality protein and 77 calories. It is really important to mention that the white contains all the protein, while all the healthy nutrients are in the yolk.

The plan is to do it for just two weeks. Potentially just lose a few pounds, strip as much fat as possible and still ,as much as I can, maintain muscle size. I’ve been doing it for a week now. The diet is below. Take a look and I’ll give you my impressions of it after that.

The Diet:

Week 1:

Monday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: two slices of meal bread and fruit Dinner: cooked chicken and salad

Tuesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: cooked chicken and green salad Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Wednesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: one tomato, one slice of meal bread and low fat cheese Dinner: cooked chicken and salad

Thursday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: fruit Dinner: streamed chicken

Friday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: two boiled eggs and steamed vegetables Dinner: barbecued fish and salad

Saturday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: fruit Dinner: steamed chicken and salad

Sunday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: tomato salad and steamed vegetables with chicken Dinner: streamed vegetables

Week 2:

Monday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: salad and chicken Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Tuesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: salad and chicken Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Wednesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: cooked chicken and salad Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Thursday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: steamed vegetables, two boiled eggs and low fat cheese Dinner: steamed chicken and salad

Friday: Breakfast:  two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: tuna salad Dinner: two boiled eggs and salad

Saturday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: cooked chicken and salad Dinner: fruits

Sunday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch and Dinner: steamed vegetables and steamed chicken

So here we are, at the end of week one, and what do I think?  Well firstly, not to state the obvious, I’m sick to bloody death of eggs!! However I can live with that part and there is only another week to go.

In terms of more constructive criticism…here goes. The effect has not been incredible but I’m fairly pleased. Mainly because I seem to be hitting the main goals. I haven’t noticeably lost any muscle size or definition but I HAVE lost about 2 pounds in weight and thankfully that seems to have mostly been in my target area around my midriff and belly. It isn’t dramatic but it is noticeable and strangely, even though I only look slightly slimmer, I really feel different. I just feel leaner, a bit more taught, tighter in the areas I wanted to tighten up. Now that may just be psychological and we will see where we are in another week, but for now it seems to be working.

Other side effects are also positive. The massive cutback on anything sugary and complete cut out of alcohol has me feeling more alert, staying awake later, but sleeping better. I’m also smashing my gym workouts for the last week.

So is there any downside?  Well Yes… I must admit to finding it pretty boring. Eggs, fruit, steamed veg and plain chicken is torture to a man who craves flavour and loves his food. However I’m adding garlic, chilli and ginger to just about everything and that has improved things.

The other definite drawback is that the eggs, whilst not creating the expected eggy fart environment 24/7, are causing some bad breath issues sometimes. The eggs seem to have the effect of drying your mouth out a bit and that creates a sort of sour feeling. I’ve found that if you just drink even more water AND clean your teeth an extra time mid day, it goes away.

So, if like me, you want to still build muscle, cut the flab AND eat healthy then after week 1 I would definitely recommend the boiled egg diet. For me it’s something I may do for 2 weeks every 3 months or so just to strip some unwanted fat.

Having said all that, I am dreaming of next Tuesday when I’ve promised myself a “bad” day and when I sure as hell won’t be boiling any eggs.

Take Care,

John

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The No Plan Training Plan!!

workout-diaryHi Everyone,

I hope you are sitting down as what I’m about to say might shake your world just a little bit. At the very least it will send any professional coaches or trainers reading this into meltdown. Here goes…….”I’m a big fan of not having a training plan!!”  There I’ve said it, you can pull yourself up off the floor now.

Let me try to put a little context around that bold statement. I know that the entire industry revolves around fitness and training plans. Magazines, Websites and many trainers base their entire income and life around designing and coaching fitness, training and workout plans. So who am I to diss them so easily? Well the answer is, I’m no-one, and I’m not dissing them…well not completely.

This site is Ordinary Guy Fitness and for many ordinary people trying to stick to a hard and fast training and diet regime can be very tough. I’m not talking about mentally but more so just because our lives are complex and busy. You may be able to get to the gym 4 times this week but only twice next. You can prep your meals and eat healthily for the next few days but then are going to be away on business and eating out a lot, etc etc.

Don’t get me wrong, properly designed training and eating plans 100% work BUT in the real world, hand on heart, are you always going to stick to it?

time-for-fitness

No Plan:

So what exactly am i proposing…..that you have no plan at all and just turn up and wing it whenever you can? No, absolutely not. That definitely won’t work. However there is a middle way, a way that builds flexibility, some creativity and a longer term approach into your health and fitness. Here is how it works, or at least how I utilise these ideas myself.

Firstly you need to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve, and ideally this should be a medium to long term goal. So the best example I can give is myself. What’s my longer term goals? Well i want to be fit and healthy, able to run, play some sports, look good in clothes and on the beach well into my 60’s (I’m currently heading for 48). That’s the long term goal. The medium term (next couple of years) is to hit 50 looking and being as fit and buff as possible. Shorter term (next 6/9 months) is to gain as much muscle as I can over the next 4 months and then get as cut as I possibly can in time for summer and possibly, finally, at long last reveal some proper six pack abs.

So you would think that to achieve that I need a proper plan right? Not necessarily. What I have is a broad brush , high level plan, and then I just change the day to day components to suit how I’m feeling, what I’m doing and what’s happening in my life.

So for example. I know that to gain muscle I have to train all the main body parts – Shoulders, Back, Chest, Arms, Legs, Abs probably a couple of times a week plus throw in some good cardio/fitness work. A traditional plan would probably split that into something like a 5 day routine with a couple of push days, a couple of pull days and a cardio day. Or 5 days of 2 bodypart splits etc. You would then stick to that routine pretty rigidly for 2 to 3 months.

I’m not suggesting anything radically different to that, I just like to take a slightly more intuitive approach based on what I’m “feeling”. Here is what I mean. I may go to the gym on Monday and blitz a Chest and Triceps session, maybe with a little Abs to end. Then Tuesday I might do Back and Shoulders. So logically Wednesday should be Legs and Biceps right? However , If I came out of Monday’s session thinking “you know what, i really didn’t feel my Triceps and wimped out a bit on them, I’m gonna do them again today”….that’s fine, do what you feel is best. Then the next day you hit the Biceps and Legs. Day after that you should probably do Chest and Triceps again but you’ve already done those twice so maybe do Chest and Shoulders. Just mix it up as and when you feel it’s right.

I know that sounds confusing but it really isn’t. It’s just about doing what your body and mind feels is the best to do on that day. You know in your own mind that you need to train all your body parts regularly AND do cardio. None of you are dumb and can remember what you have been doing over the last week or two so just adjust and flex as you go along. Rather than a weekly plan, have a more holistic 3 to 4 week plan where you roughly speaking hit everything that you need to equally during that period. This has so many positives for your training and lifestyle.

  • It means you don’t get stale by following the same routine all the time
  • It means that if you are really sore and need to rest a body part, fine, just hit something else
  • It means if you feel a body part is lagging behind, or you need to focus on weight loss or need to bulk up you can do it. Hell I’ve trained Biceps 3 days on the trot sometimes….it’s not against the law. Going off plan isn’t illegal despite what your PT says.
  • It means that if your life gets in the way and you can’t train as often or when you want you just adjust things. Do 3 bodyparts or a whole body workout for a few sessions.
  • By having an overall strategic plan but not a rigid daily plan you don’t feel like you are letting yourself down when you miss something out.
  • It’s fun. Last Friday I drove to the Gym with no idea what I was going to do and in the end did a load of stretching , made up a HiiT routine and then went on the rowing machine. I loved it. Follow your intuition.

Psychologically I really think this works. So many people set off on a training regime with fantastic intentions. Then something happens, an injury, family commitments, work issues etc. They fall off the plan for a week or two and their mind set changes. They believe they can’t get going again, become despondent “this damn fitness stuff is just too hard!!” and they give up. Having a “No plan, plan” helps with that because you haven’t really missed anything or let anyone down.

The critical thing is, you DO need to understand what your targets and goals are. You need to know that when you gaze into the distance, you do have a specific destination. As long as you get there at roughly the time you want and in the shape you want, does it really matter what route you take?

So if you have an organised life and can follow a strict plan fantastic, that will work for you. If not, if your life is a bit more chaotic like the rest of us, then ditch the rigid plan and follow your instincts. To recap, here are my top tips.

  • Have an overall plan of what you want to achieve some way down the track
  • Figure out the things you need to do regularly to get there.
  • Incorporate all of those things regularly and semi methodically into your routine BUT mix it up based on what’s happening in your life and how you feel.
  • Adjust the plan (or no plan) regularly based on the progress you are making and what you feel needs extra focus and work.
  • Above all, be happy with yourself and enjoy what you are doing.

Take Care,

John

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Winter is the time to transform your body!!

summer-winter-bodiesWe all train and try to keep fit for a variety of different reasons: Health, weight loss, sport, to achieve a goal or simply for enjoyment. However one thing I think very few of us would deny is that we all like to look good, or as good as possible. That is especially the case as we move into summer. When the tree’s start to bloom, the sky brightens and the weather gets a bit warmer every lady I know swaps from winter wardrobe to summer wardrobe………often involving hours of deliberation and a great deal of standing in front of mirrors muttering to themselves.

It’s not just the ladies, us guys, or at least the vain ones like me, break out the t-shirts and shirts, and then stand side on to the mirror patting our guts and saying “I really must do something about this beer belly”.

Winter Training:

However what so many people fail to realise is that by then it is almost certainly too late, or is going to take an incredible amount of hard work and self discipline to really make the changes you want in time to hit the beaches in great bikini shape for July/August.

There are a few points I would make here. Firstly so many people see fitness, weight and shape control as exactly what I’ve just described……a summer sport if you like. Something not to be thought about too much when the days are cold and nights are dark. Then panic sets in as soon as spring comes. Well it’s pretty clear that that is the wrong way to approach things. Rather than crash diets and crash fitness plans it’s far better to take a much more year round, lifestyle and holistic approach. In previous articles here and here I talked about why continually going on seasonal or crash diets don’t work and how by being consistent over the long term you can achieve amazing effects AND still lead a fun and treat filled life.

Secondly, by leaving things late you will have to work much harder, physically punish yourself much more and also be much more rigid in your eating plan. If you have any significant weight or fat to lose or intend to build any real noticeable muscle, then trying to do that in 8-12 weeks is so much more difficult than doing it over a 6 month period. By going more slowly you can gradually shed the weight, still eat healthily but also still allow yourself the odd blowout. You can also work more effectively on your fitness regime as you will have more time to build in both cardio and metabolic training to help you shed the pounds or kilo’s, as well as time for muscle building and toning to give your body the shape you want.

winter-weight-trainingFinally, most people have more time in the winter. There are less BBQ’s to attend, holidays to go on, sunny evenings with friends and a bit less temptation to drive you off course. Even as a committed fitness fan I freely admit that when it is a sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden all I really want to do is crack open a couple of beers or get stuck into a nice chilled bottle of white wine, often washed down with some fattening snacks. In winter there is less cause to dress in your finery and go socialising and more chance to dig out the old tracksuits, set yourself some targets and warm yourself up by working hard. Then by Summer you can emerge like a Phoenix from the flames with a brand new set of feathers and looking magnificent (well that’s the plan at least).

So how should you go about this. Firstly you should spend five minutes giving some thought to and ideally writing down your goals. It could be as simple as “I want to fit in those skinny jeans that used to fit me”, or “I want to lose 20 lbs in weight”, or it could be something much more specific like I want to be able to run 5 miles and have built my shoulder, chest and arm muscles up significantly.

Then you simply break that down into workable and mouthful sized pieces. So if you want to lose 20lb in weight, that’s roughly 3.5 lb a month or just under 1lb a week. Believe me with some dietary changes and an increase in your exercise that is achievable for anyone over 6 months but would be far more difficult if not impossible in 8 weeks. Similarly if you hit the weights fairly hard in a structured programme, throw in some cardio and also make some changes in what you eat, then you can really transform your build and musculature over 6 months, much more so than you can do in 8-12 weeks.

The final and fun benefit of training hard in the winter is that it is hidden. Just think how you’ll feel Ladies on that first sunny weekend (about the end of June if you live in England) when you finally shed the heavy jumpers and wear a sleeveless blouse for the first time and all your friends gasp at how you have traded in your batwings for svelte and toned arms…….it can be done. So what you really need to do, as with almost everything I advise is change your mind set. It’s September now, the dark days are coming (if you’re in the northern hemisphere at least). Plan ahead. Picture how you want to look and feel by May/June next year and put your plan into practice now. Summer bodies are built in Winter so this Winter make it count!!

rocky-balboa-winter-training

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Don’t Believe the Hype! Food Fascists.

Food FadsSo I’m going to be completely contradictory here. How? Well I’m a blogger in the Health, Fitness and Food sector and I’m just about to tell you not to take food bloggers seriously. What…..why? Well mainly because I believe in you, you as an individual, you as a person with their own mind who can make their own decisions on what is best for you.

Food Fads:

Blogging has become a huge industry in it’s own right in the last 10 years. It has created and made superstars of some bloggers, many of whom have gone on to write books, appear on TV and become media stars. A large proportion of those have been in the health, food and fitness sector. Am i just a teensy weensy bit jealous……of course I bloody am. However that doesn’t stop me from seeing through all the shiny success and great ratings to recognise some of the truth.

Many of these people are promoting and pushing pretty strident messages about what you should and shouldn’t do. You MUST eat this way or that way, you must NOT eat this, DON’T touch that, THIS will make you slim and healthy, THAT will make you fat and kill you. Many of the messages that are put out there are food fascism. I don’t have an axe to grind on any particular way of eating. I don’t really care if you are a vegan, a raw food nut, a high/low protein geek or a no carbs junkie. My personal belief is that ALL of these systems have the potential to be harmful or good for you depending on how you approach them.

I watched a documentary on TV last week (see below) and it brought home to me a) how huge this industry has become, b) how the message can become corrupted by the amount of money involved and c) how much harm it can potentially do because there are a large number of sensitive, needy and sometimes vulnerable people out there.

Now don’t get me wrong, having watched this programme I am pretty sure it had it’s own axe to grind and was trying to set an agenda of it’s own. It was occasionally quite cruel and overly personal about some of the topics and people involved. However it did get me thinking and actually made me consider what I was doing and how i go about things. Are there that many people out that really do slavishly follow what so many of these online guru’s are producing, and just how well researched and factual is it after all?

As I said even though it’s not my particular choice if you happen to be vegetarian or vegan, a raw food only fan or any other subset of mainstream eating then that is entirely your choice.

However what I would advocate is DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH….and by that I don’t just mean watch a few Youtube channels and jump in with both feet. I mean do some proper research. Consult recognised and properly qualified nutritionists, speak to a variety of health and/or fitness professionals, read about the real life pro’s and cons of adopting any eating system for a long period of time.

If you have read my blogs for a while you know what I advocate…..it’s very simple and pretty easy to follow. I advocate eating a healthy, varied diet for about 80% of the time, doing some vigorous form of exercise or training as often as possible, and then eat/drink whatever the hell you like (within reason) the other 20% of the time. I called this blog and my sites Ordinary Guy Fitness for the most basic of reasons, because I am an Ordinary guy and so are 90% of you, and being fit and healthy for many people is challenging enough without making it overly complicated.

So just in case you haven’t read my blogs previously what exactly am I suggesting you eat? Again it’s really simple. Lots of natural produce with fairly high protein levels, high NATURAL fat levels and slightly lower carb levels….but nothing excessive. That means good quality meats, poultry and fish, or beans, pulses and nuts for your protein. Again good meats and oily fish or nuts, eggs, avocado, real butter, good cheese etc for your sources of good fat. Still have carbs but as much as possible get them from vegetables, sweet potato, brown rice and eat a bit less bread, pasta, white rice etc.

Try to reduce your portion levels just slightly and as much as possible (5 days a week) steer clear of sweets, snacks, refined sugars, fizzy or sweetened drinks and booze. The other two days a week….go out, enjoy yourselves, eat the food you enjoy or the treat you craved. That doesn’t mean stuff yourself or overeat for the sake of it, but DO enjoy. By doing that you will stay on the right path and ensure you can follow a healthy plan for the long term without feeling you are denying yourself.

Whatever you do, be confident in yourself and your OWN ability to make the right choices. Try not to follow the latest fad, become devoted to the latest online food sensation or healthy eating guru, and don’t convince yourself that you or anyone’s else’s version of “clean eating” is the only way forward. It’s a big wide world out there with many things to experience, enjoy and savour. We all have our own ways of doing things so celebrate your own individuality and work out what is right for you.

Healthy Eating posterI hope you enjoyed this article and I apologise for my lengthy absence. Please continue reading and there will be many more articles to come.

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6 Reasons Water is your best friend!!

Drinking water

Boy oh boy……it’s hot!! It’s been 33/34 degree’s c or pushing into the 90’s F in the UK the last few days and with no wind or air it’s felt hotter. Not that I’m complaining, I’d live the rest of my life in just shorts if i could. However when it’s like this we all tend to spend a lot of time looking in the fridge and thinking “what the hell can i drink?”

We all realise that when it’s hot like this you need to drink more, not just to quench your thirst but to keep yourself hydrated. We are all aware that hydration is so important and that dehydration is a BAD thing right? Of course……but do we really go about it the right way and do we know what we really should be drinking?

The answer is WATER!!!! We probably all know that but do we know why? Do we know just how good for us it is and what many of the amazing benefits are of drinking plain ol simple H2O? We are probably all vaguely aware from our school days that our bodies are largely made up of water, 70%+ and that should tell you why it is just so vital for so many elements of our health.

Below I’ve detailed 6 reasons why drinking more water daily will have immediate, positive and visible benefits to you, your body and your health. Firstly though lets deal with one of the big issues. You’ve probably all heard the “You need to drink 2-4 litres of water per day, or at least 8 large glasses”…….hmmmmm really? In an ideal world that might be true, but this site is all about reality and ordinary people. How realistic is that? For a start, with the best will in the world, drinking 4 litres of water a day + other drinks would mean you’d spend half your life in the toilet. There is also the practicality element depending on how and where you work, and then there is the boredom factor (I’ll cover that a bit later). In my view we need to get real here. Most of us don’t drink enough water so any extra is an improvement….but what should we be aiming for? If you can drink 1.5-2 lires of water a day or 3 to 4 pints, plus your normal consumption of other drinks, that’s plenty. That equates to a couple of decent sized glasses in the morning (when it’s most important), 1 at lunchtime, 1 at dinner time and maybe a smaller one before bed. Job done.

Reasons to drink Water.

  1. Drinking water actively helps you to lose weight. How? Well in a number of ways. Water actually helps to fire up and fuel your metabolism. An increased metabolism helps burn more calories even without exercise. Not only that but the water helps flush away excess fats in the body. An additional benefit is that drinking water helps alleviate hunger pains. Try drinking a large glass of water 15 minutes before a meal and you will feel slightly less hungry when you eat. Do this at every meal and it will aid your weight loss.
  2. One for the ladies. Drinking extra or more water will have a dramatic effect on your skin. Many of us, especially ladies who apparently are “so much busier” than us guys, are walking around partially dehydrated much of the time. Your skin and the fatty layer just below it contain a huge amount of water. If you allow your overall water levels to drop that skin and fatty layer will shrivel and tighten, and you know what that means……….the dreaded wrinkles. I’ve no idea who this lady is but hope she doesn’t mind me using this picture. Check out the difference after just 4 weeks. Noticeably less wrinkles and grooves in the face, dark marks under the eyes are gone and the general colour and tone of the skin looks so much better. Give it a go ladies…it works.

Skin-benefits-of-drinking-water-anti-aging-remedy

3. Big improvements in the function of ALL of your internal organs. Your kidneys and Liver cannot function properly without enough water in your body and these are vital for flushing out toxins, cleaning your blood and generally purifying your whole body. Over the long term these can be badly damaged by prolonged lack of water but this can be quickly improved by upping your daily intake. However it’s not just those. Your heart and arteries love water, as it also helps to clear away some of the clogging that age and diet produce and also helps the heart pump blood more effectively around your body. Finally your stomach and intestines use water to regulate and make your digestive system work much more effectively. You will go to the loo more regularly (both types) and less painfully and after a time will feel less bloated and cramped in the stomach area. There are even some studies that suggest that drinking plenty of water can help prevent certain types of cancer such as colon cancer.

4. Reduces fatigue and improves mood. Many people wander around constantly saying “I feel so tired all the time”, or feeling grouchy and grumpy, unable to easily deal with the day to day issues that life throws at us all. Research has shown that just a 2% drop in ideal water levels can dramatically increase fatigue in the body, lead to an inability to concentrate and can also alter mood in a negative way. Upping your water intake will over a period of time give you more energy (and that alone will improve your mood), but also has a direct positive effect on your brain function and actively puts you in a more positive mind set and improves your mood. Water makes you smile…….not sure if that’s a catchphrase yet but maybe it should be.

5. Drinking water improves joint pain and issues with muscles and ligaments. Joints are just that, joints. If you have a door hinge and it gets stiff, what does it need…..oil. Well joints in the human body are no different. Our shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles etc etc all move and all need lubrication to do that easily and effectively. Cartilage, spinal discs, ligaments, tendons etc all contain water to give them their flexibility and sponginess. If you become dehydrated or just don’t quite have enough water then guess what? All those joints stiffen up a little. I’m not going to tell you that it is a miracle cure and if the cartilage in your knee is completely shot that drinking water will solve it, that just isn’t true. But it is true that if your are a normal person , drinking extra water will help lubricate those joints, add some extra tone and flexibility to your muscles, soften and relax your tendons and ligaments and over all that may add just an extra 1-3% improvement in how your body feels. Isn’t that a great result from something that just flows out of the tap??

6. The last one is not so obvious but increasingly seems like it may be important. Drinking water helps to regulate your bodies PH levels. What’s that? The PH level is the balance between Acidity and Alkaline levels in your body. It is best to be pretty neutral or moving slightly towards Alkaline. There is some research that seems to indicate that excess acidity in the body “may” be a cause of various diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Things like bad diet, lack of water, smoking etc can all cause higher levels of acidity. Drinking extra water helps balance your PH levels and although this is not proven , a balanced PH level is much more likely to lead to longer term health benefits.

Hydration - water - lemon

So here are just a couple of tips to help you add more of this vital, life giving and health promoting substance into your daily routines. Firstly, drink a large glass of water pretty much as soon as you get up. Head down the stairs or into the bathroom and glug down a decent sized glass before you do anything else (coffee comes 2nd I’m afraid). Not only does this get one of your days glasses done before you can think about it, but your body which has had no hydration for the 5, 6 or 8 hours (if you’re lucky) that you’ve been asleep, desperately needs it.

Drink another glass 15 minutes before lunch and 15 minutes before dinner. You will eat slightly less but it will also actively improve the digestion of the food you eat.

My final tip, cos lets face it, gallons of water can be slightly boring, is add some simple ingredients to freshen up the flavour slightly. I’d suggest fresh lemons and/or some mint or Ginger. Simply get a large jug or 2 litre bottle. Fill with water. Slice up a lemon and add to the water, stick it in the fridge and away you go. Mint and ginger as extra’s if you want to be totally radical.

I hope you enjoyed this and please please give it a try. Make drinking 3 to 4 pints of water (around 1.5-2 litres) a day your mission over the hot summer months. Do it every day and then come back to me in a month and tell me how you feel.

Take Care,

John

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Why Diets Don’t Work……..Ever!

muscle-building-foods

You’ve all been there. You look in the mirror and sigh, try to pull on a pair of jeans or skirt you haven’t worn for a while and mysteriously can’t get the zip done up no matter how hard you tug. “That’s it, I’m going on a diet” you say. On a Diet, those three words sum up the problem with diets and the reason they just don’t, won’t, can’t work….not in the long term anyway. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Atkins, the Cabbage Soup or the Caveman diet, ultimately they will fail and you will gain back any weight you lost. Why? Well because the whole phrase going on a diet implies that at some point you will come OFF of that diet, and what happens then? Inevitably the bad habits come back and the weight starts to creep back on.

Also the whole psychology behind dieting creates a negative mindset. It’s all about denial. Denying yourself the foods you’d like to eat, being hungry all the time, forcing yourself to do something you aren’t mad keen about in a desperate drive to lose some weight. If you have that mind set how does it make you feel. Anxious? Depressed? Stressed? At some point you are going to crack. No matter how much will power you have you can’t keep that up for the rest of your life.

Wouldn’t it be soooooo much better to feel positive about your food, what you eat and how you eat? Wouldn’t it be better to east tasty, fun foods, eat decent sized portions and also NOT to feel guilty or beat yourself up when you occasionally tuck into something bad like a sticky toffee pudding with cream. “What, how can i eat that on a diet?”.  Well on a diet you can’t, but if you follow what I’m about to say you CAN!

What you need to do is change your whole outlook and attitude to food. You need to change how you eat and what you eat FOREVER. You aren’t going on a difficult diet, you are going to change your lifestyle and become a HEALTHY EATER. This really isn’t rocket science, in fact it’s absolute common sense and to be honest our grandparents generations and the ones before that did it as a matter of course.

It’s really really simple to do. Basically you just need to eat fresh food. That’s it. “It can’t be that simple?”  Well actually it pretty much is with a couple of rules. The key is to avoid processed and packaged produce as much as you possibly can. Avoid sweet or packaged snacks as much as you can and avoid fizzy or sweetened drinks as much as you can, and cut back slightly on Carbs such as potatoes, bread and pasta. That is pretty much it. Other than that you can still eat 2 to 3 meals a day and for your main dinner you can eat pretty healthy/large portions.

So what do i mean by processed foods? Again it’s simple. Anything that comes in a packet or packaging that has a list of ingredients needs either to be avoided or the label carefully studied. ALL ready meals, most childrens meals, ALL fizzy drinks, anything that has lists of chemicals, sweeteners or E numbers on the label. “Hmmmm, so what can i eat?” As i said, basically it is fresh stuff. Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Beans, Nuts and Vegetables / Salad / Fruit. Within reason you can eat as much of these as you like. Throw in some exercise and you will either lose weight (if you are currently overweight), or maintain a healthy weight (if you are not really that overweight).

Is it a bit more difficult, less convenient in this busy modern world. Yes it is slightly but would you prefer the slight inconvenience of having to buy and prepare fresh food and healthy meals that you can eat a lot of and enjoy, or suffer the misery of continually being on a deny yourself everything type diet?

So what does this mean in practical terms? The best way to illustrate that is probably to tell you what I’m eating at the moment. I am on a drive to lose some weight and strip some blub from around my middle area. I’m not overweight at all really. I was about 12 stone 5 pounds  and want to get down to about 11 stone 10 if possible. Why? Well because as I’ve already told you I’m vain and would love once in my life to have some proper 6 pack abs. So I’m training quite hard and want to lose some weight but at the same time don’t want to lose any muscle and therefore need to eat well and decent portions. So here is what i ate yesterday and will eat today.

Yesterday: Went to the Gym first thing. When i got back i had a medium bowl of Greek Yoghurt (the real stuff, not Greek style) with a large handful of blueberries thrown in and a drizzle of honey over the top. This was washed down with a double scoop protein shake. Late morning i had a Banana. At lunch i had 2 eggs, simply cracked into a bowl, salt and pepper and microwaved for 1 minute. Mid afternoon a large handful of mixed nuts. Then for dinner we sat down as a family and smashed into 3 beautiful lamb cutlets (with the lovely crispy fat as well) and a large salad. The salad was mixed leaves, loads of tomato’s, red pepper, spring onion and a large avocado. It took ten minutes to make the salad and about 7 minutes to cook the chops, what’s hard about that? I was full and very happy.

Today is a no Gym day. So far I’ve had the same bowl of Yoghurt, Blueberries and Honey plus one banana. For lunch i plan a couple of Ryvita’s smeared in delicious Nut butter, probably another Banana and some Melon I’ve got in the fridge. Mid afternoon I’ll probably break cover, be bad and have a cup of coffee with a biscuit. Then for dinner it will be similar to last night. We have some marinated spicy turkey breast steaks with a different type of salad and maybe some couscous.

Is it working? Absolutely! I’m down to 12 stone 1 pound. Feel great and am seeing some Abs appear (although long way to go yet). Also the trick here is that I don’t deny myself. We have got a few social nights out coming up in the next few weeks and on those nights I’m going to eat and drink what the hell i like, no denial whatsoever. Can you do that on a diet? No. However on a lifelong healthy eating plan you can cut yourself some slack and break loose now and then.

To just go back over this and make things very clear. The critical thing you need to change is not just your diet, it’s your attitude to food and eating. Be proud of the fact that you are changing your life for the better. In the book I’m writing I talk about pride as being a big motivating factor and maybe my next post will be about pride and other tools you can use for motivation. Your attitude needs to be “I am going to eat well, eat healthily, prepare my food myself instead of letting the supermarket do it, and I can eat big portions and be bad now and again”. It’s just common sense, it’s just going back to what our Grandparent did and adopting their “meat and two veg” lifestyle but making it more fun.

Future posts will start to give recipe advice, tips on how to prepare food in advance to cut down on time and if you want I’m happy to give more examples of what I’m eating.

Take Care,

John