Mid-Week Musings: Water Retention and Scale Weight in Females, Chasing Exercise For Fat Loss and Why Going Meat Free Isn’t That Great.

Here are the pressing questions of the week from the gym- you ask I answer!

Water Retention and Scale Weight In Females.

In conversation with our female clients this week there were questions about why weight fluctuates through a calendar month. The conversation follows the line of “I have eaten perfectly for the last week- exercised, tracked everything on myfitnesspal and done everything right but I have not lost weight.” Scale weight loss is not a linear thing all of the time because we have to account for fluctuations in body water through the month. Any women who has a menstrual cycle has 4 phases, in these phases water retention is affected as following:

Early follicular (first 7 days after menstruation): Low water retention.

Late follicular (days 7 to 14 after menstruation): Estrogen release causes water retention due to a change in sodium handling.

Early luteal phase (first 7 days after ovulation): Low water retention.

Late luteal phase (7 to 14 days after ovulation): Drop in progesterone causing a rebound water weight gain due to a change in sodium handling.

So there you have it, in the late follicular and late luteal phase there is a predisposition to retain water hence weight fluctuations on the scales.

Chasing Exercise and Fat Loss.

Simply, if you are chasing large volumes of activity to make up for your high calorie diet your habits and behaviours will not be shaped to deal with periods of inactivity. As diet is largely habit based disruption to your activity levels means it is incredibly hard to then change your habitual eating habits to match your activity. An hour of exercise may burn anywhere between 200-600 calories but if this how you are creating your deficit to diet then this may prove an issue if you lower your activity levels. Tracking your food intake can help understand your current behaviours and reviewing your intake is sometimes useful when looking to make changes. Daily exercisers may be commended for their efforts but if your goal is weight loss and you are exercising daily and not losing weight your nutritional intake is the issue, not your exercise programme. See it as more exercise is like buying an extra bucket for your leaky roof rather than fixing the hole in it. Exercise is obviously a positive thing but the aim should be to improve aspects of your fitness improving your quality of life not just to nullify poor nutritional behaviours.

Why Going Meat Free Isn’t Great.

Vegan and vegetarian diets are gaining popularity at the moment for no other reason than “trend.” On a quick poll at the gym today most peoples opinion where they are “healthier.” It’s simply not the case. I’m not going to discuss the reasons that people don’t consume meat and/or animal products on ethical grounds, that is people’s own business. The general perception of their “healthier” status is fundamentally wrong. Any exclusion based diet can leave you deficient in certain nutrients. Primarily these deficiencies can be seen in vitamin B12 (anemia, nerve damage and cognitive impairment), iron (oxygen transfer and depression) and zinc (growth impairments in the young and mood). If removing dairy products then there can be a deficiency in calcium (when deficient inline with Vitamin D rickets may be prevalent). Supplementation can be used to fill these gaps but it is worth noting some of the symptoms above if you are deciding to change your lifestyle. From a macronutrient perspective you are able to consume a suitable amount of protein from a variety of sources. What you are inclined to see though is that protein based foods may have take along carbohydrates which if you are looking to control calorie or carbohydrate intake it may be a issue. Any diet has a positive and negative aspect but if you are removing quality unprocessed lean protein animal products from your diet it may prove sub-optimal for health if you don’t fill the gaps nutritionally.

 

What is Fatigue? How To Resist It?

The typical UK winter brings along the standard seasonal ailments of colds and flu’s but one thing I encounter is the fact that people say they are “fatigued.” There is generally no need to feel tired, after all most people have a seasonal break over Christmas and should return to work/ life refreshed but as the nights feel long and the days short it’s hard to remind yourself that we are on the upward spiral heading towards spring.

The actually definition of fatigue in an exercise sense has been dominated by the thought that lactic acid production limits movement. That burning now is known to be the creeping of acidity in the muscles which limits movement rather than the phantom of lactic acid which the body can actually use as an energy source. Whilst physiologist consider technical mechanisms of fatigue the overarching feeling for the layman is that one way or another you hit a wall and your performance is limited en-route to hitting a limit.

Another theory though considers a link between effort and motivation. Motivation factors such as rewards affect performance without changing physiology or a muscles capacity to produce effort. Perception is everything when it comes to effort and motivation and therefore fatigue is also a partial product of motivation. As things get harder your physiology encourages you to slow down and your perception of this is very important. It’s understandable therefore why pushing the body to new lengths or breaking through plateaus is hard as our physiology is working against us.

This resonates perhaps with endurance athletes but for the normal person what does this mean? If you are in a situation where you feel fatigued is it your physiology or is it your head? Answer these questions to see what your answers are:

  1. Do you sleep for 7+ hours?
  2. Do you eat a well balanced diet with a good share of protein, carbohydrates and fats?
  3. Do you perform over 3 hours a week of scheduled exercise or pulse raising activity?
  4. Do you remain active e.g. 10,000 steps a day?
  5. Do you drink 2 litres of fluids daily?
  6. Do you eat over 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily?
  7. Do you eat enough fibre daily?
  8. Are you part of an active community/ family that can help you?

Each of these factors are associated with improved health and therefore will help buffer against fatigue. Activity and exercise build fatigue resistance and a healthy lifestyle and diet will help you feel better.

Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you smoke?
  2. Do you drink alcohol regularly (2-3 times a week)?
  3. Do you sleep less than 7 hours a day?
  4. Is your diet made up mainly of high glycemic carbohydrates/ sugar?
  5. Is your job sedentary or do you perform little daily activity?
  6. Are you part of a sedentary community that hinders you?

If you answer yes to the above they can potentially increase your fatigue levels and they can potentially chip away at your health.

But where to start, consider this- if you have a behaviour on the lower list perhaps consider switching it with one on the top of the list. The top list could be considered foundational behaviours to not only resist fatigue but also to maintain a healthy body. Perception is important as we stated before and encouraging yourself to perform things to make you feel better will help build your self efficacy and confidence going forward. This is not just for people who are struggling for fitness- these positive behaviours will resonate with any athlete who has been successful and the negative behaviours pretty much would shut down anyone’s sporting career a lot quicker than it needs to be. When it comes to motivation or resisting fatigue the evidence is clear- if you give your physiology the best chance to resist fatigue your head stands a greater chance of helping you.

 

The Simple Approach to Weight Loss

Eat less, do more.

That’s the flippant comment that most people make. If it was that easy then we all would be sporting a six pack. When you remove the nuances of the psychology of weight loss such as habit formation and habitual behaviour then what is the stark reality around how to lose weight.

The Laws of Weight Loss 1

There are 3 main components that make up the amount of calories you burn. BMR or basal metabolic rate- this is how many calories you need to sustain yourself and basically not die. Activity- how much you move or your energy expenditure beyond just existing. Digestion- yes, you heard me right. Digestion actually is responsible for around 10% of your calorie turnover.

Simply said when you eat as much as you burn your weight stays the same.

The Laws of Weight Loss 2.jpg

When you eat more than you need this makes you gain weight. Pretty simply concept really. This is usually as body fat unless your aim is to build muscle in which case you do need extra calories to build up.

The Laws of Weight Loss 3.jpgWhen you eat less calories then you need you will lose weight. Simple.

If this is the case then why can it be hard work? If you have a sedentary job you may not turnover many calories from activity. As you get older your BMR decreases as you lose muscle mass (something you should aim to preserve).

The Laws of Weight Loss 4.jpgAs you can see the differences between a sedentary person is quite big. It means the active person needs more calories to maintain their weight.The Laws of Weight Loss 5.jpg

So when it comes down to your diet it has to be individual. An active exerciser has a greater calorific burn then someone who doesn’t exercise. Activity is important in general as it aids calorie turnover.

If you are dieting without exercise or activity you will actually create a smaller window to create a deficit meaning that your diet may have to be more precise and limited in food volume as simply you just have less wiggle room.

What are the take home points here:

  1. Diets that create deficits but without exercise create a smaller window for success.
  2. Exercise creates a better chance of being successful as it allows you more calorific leeway- basically if you match a deficit with an inactive person you can eat more.
  3. Activity in every way matters and can help you with your results.
  4. Maintaining a high BMR is important by maintaining muscle.
  5. Training that encourages muscle maintenance and calorie burn such as our group conditioning sessions are important in maintaining and encouraging weight loss.

 

Why You Aren’t Achieving Your Weight Loss Goals and What You Need To Do About It

When it comes to losing weight from my experience people have good and honourable intentions. Intentions and grandiose plans aren’t always enough though for success. From short term detoxes to crash dieting there is a wealth of schemes to help you, but like most get quick rich schemes they are on the whole statistically more likely to fail than to be successful. Not all of us have a cast iron will 24/7 and most people will suffer from adherence issues. The key is though if you are going to take a measured approach then how do we maintain successful behaviours for our long term goals.

Adherance1.jpg

Now I joke a lot of the time that when it comes to losing weight that fat loss diets always start on a Monday.

Why?

Perhaps the grind of the “work” week (whatever that means now) breaks down your adherence. Simply stuff is getting in the way of your success, be it fatigue, stress or the fact that that you are focussing on other things. Maybe you are rewarding yourself for a busy week by smashing a whole bar of milk chocolate, 2 bottles of red wine and half a block of cheese over the weekend. Either way you have decided that the diet starts on Monday. What we have here is typically not an issue with creating a calorie deficit, we have an issue with creating a consistent deficit. In essence we can’t maintain our adherence through 7 days consistently.

Adherance2.jpg

Now if we look deeper at people when they are motivated to change when are you likely to fail?

A study has recently looked at this. When are people most likely to lapse and how are they lapsing. At this point it might be a good idea to compare this with your behaviours.

Adherance3.jpg

In essence a lapse was a period of over eating or consumption of an undesirable food. Science and research sometimes gets a lot of criticism with people questioning it’s real world application. This study is the real world- we all screw up and what you might see here is a way to access your adherence to give you a greater chance of success.

 

Adherance4.jpg

What you can see is that your lapses effect your maintenance of weight loss- which makes perfect sense. People on average lapsed 4 times a week mainly on the weekend evenings at home. That glass of wine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday might be catching up with you now hey!

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What’s the reality of this though when it comes to your plan?

Individualised strategies are important as one size does not fit all here. It highlights that willpower is not enough and is variable from person to person. What though can you do to be more successful at adhering to your diet?

  • Limit highly desirable foods at home. Perhaps keep your treats for when you aren’t at home?
  • Organise and plan your evening schedule to avoid eating calorific food. That may involve changing eating time or incorporating more balanced snacks at different points through the day (especially in the evening).
  • If you have balanced your intake throughout the day you earn yourself more flexibility later on in the day. If you had a fry up for breakfast and lasagna for lunch you may be coming up a bit short of calories later in the day which may leave you hungry.
  • Success is only achieved if you can stick to something. If your diet is extreme you will fail at some point as failure occurs when you don’t want to suffer.
  • Your lifestyle, who you eat with and where you are when you eat matters as you will have to fit your diet to your lifestyle. That could mean 3 square meals that could mean 5 small meals- either way try to experiment to see what works best for you.

 

Adherance6.jpg

As a disclaimer the smarter stuff around carbs, fats and proteins does matter. At an initial level though adherence to a plan which has lower calories than you need is the most important factor. What you also have to consider is that with a few lapses it is tough to maintain a progressive calorie deficit and therefore fat loss.

How to we help with your adherence to balanced nutrition and exercise. At Results FAST it’s key that we keep you organised (by booking your training in), offering you flexibility (so it’s easier for you to fit your training in), provide you with positive messages and education (through our social media) and hopefully keeping it fun!

 

What Does 1500 Calories Look Like?

Practical usable advice is the name of the game. We are told to eat healthy and we know that calories make up food. We even know that certain foods have different calorie make ups. Where most people struggle is putting it all together in to a daily plan.

What we have here is a base 1500 calorie day focussing on lean proteins and sensible amounts of carbohydrate and fats. For some people this may be enough food- for others it may be a good base before snacks depending on your size and your goals.

Feel free to share your snaps of your creations with us and if you decide to tweak any of the recipes with your own spin!

 

Breakfast

Low Carb Egg Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 spring onions
  • little cherry tomatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 50g of cheddar or your choice of cheese.
  • ½-1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 390°F.
  2. Wash and dice the pepper, onions and tomatoes. and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Wash the spinach, lightly chop it and add it to the bowl as well.
  4. Add the eggs and salt. Mix well. 
  5. Add the chilli- add depending on your preference for heat!
  6. Grease the muffin tin with oil and kitchen paper/baking brush and pour the egg mixture evenly into the muffin slots. (If you think they might still stick to the pan use some muffin cups or cut out some baking paper and to use as cups.
  7. Add the cheese, grated or layered.
  8. Pop the tray into the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch.
  9. Bon Appetit!!

This is about 250 calories a serving so 2 will do the job to start of the day (original source http://www.hurrythefoodup.com).

 

Lunch

Spicy Chicken and Avocado Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast (approx 180g), thinly sliced at an angle
  • generous squeeze juice ½ lime
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 seeded wraps
  • 1 avocado, halved and stoned
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, sliced
  • a few sprigs coriander, chopped

Method

  1. Mix the chicken with the lime juice, chilli powder and garlic.

  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan then fry the chicken for a couple of mins – it will cook very quickly so keep an eye on it. Meanwhile, warm the wraps following the pack instructions or, if you have a gas hob, heat them over the flame to slightly char them. Do not let them dry out or they are difficult to roll.

  3. Squash half an avocado onto each wrap, add the peppers to the pan to warm them through then pile onto the wraps with the chicken, and sprinkle over the coriander. Roll up, cut in half and eat with your fingers.

This is about 400-500 calories so perfect as a sensible lunch (original source www.bbcgoodfood.com).

Dinner

Healthy Steak and Chips

Ingredients

  • 150g baking potatoes
  • 5ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 175g lean beef rump steak
  • 1 tomato
  • 50g button mushrooms
  • 80g mixed leaf salad

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C / Gas Mark 7 / 425°F

  1. Peel and cut potato into 8 wedges.

  2. Place on a baking tray and brush with 1 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika.

  3. Bake for about 35 minutes or until cooked through and crispy.

  4. While the potato is cooking, grill or griddle the steak, 1 tomato and a few sliced mushrooms.

(Original recipe courtesy of www.weightlossresources.co.uk).

And for those of you who want to pimp that steak up a bit check out Jamie Oliver’s how to guide… https://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/how-to-cook-the-perfect-steak/

How To Get The Results You Want: Part 2

What happens once you start?

Starting is the hardest part of the process but what is happening to your body in this time?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked about our free trial. Usually we will ask you “What’s your why?”

It’s not always a case from going from A to B though- it’s often a case of getting as far away from A as you can. I

In the first two weeks we listen to what you want to do and will help get you started on your exercise programme and we look to highlight what you need to do to hit your targets.

We give you a free two weeks, so you can see what times and days are going to suit you the best. We believe that fitness should be personalized to you so from the get go we start looking at how you move and where you are strong so that we can pick the right exercises performed in the right way for you.

Adherence and finding routine is your first target– this is an example of a process driven goal. Setting yourself a session target for the month will help you build routine and be successful in the long run.

Understanding your starting position to get a baseline of where you are fitness wise and nutritionally by completing a food diary is your second target. From here it’s down to us to worry about your training and it’s up to you to worry about maintaining positive habits like session attendance.

What will you achieve in the first 2 weeks?

You are probably going to ache in muscles that you haven’t felt for a long time….

We can’t disguise that fact. You are going to start to pick up the exercises that we will be coaching you and start to become confident that these exercises are being done properly.

You are going to perform exercise sessions that have exactly the right exercises for you and you will get more in to an hour than you would training on your own. In the first 14 days you are going to perform between 4-8 training sessions that will be the start that you are looking for.

When it comes to the results….

Well, results can vary on your fitness levels and starting position as well as other factors. If you come in with an open mind hopefully we will see you a little bit stronger and a little bit leaner and from here you are in a great position to achieve fantastic results. We have members who have lost 6 stone in weight and members who have dropped a stone in body fat in 4 weeks.We have clients who have been recognised internationally in their sports and we have clients whose main focus is to keep to their 3 sessions a week maintaining their fitness levels. Your goal is yours alone but we are there to help guide you.

What’s a normal result? That depends on you. Any training programme can be flexible in nature. Some people may train 2 times a week some people 6. Some people eat in a calorie surplus, some don’t. Understanding where you are, what you are doing and how you are going to progress is key.

But why a personal approach? There is not a one size fits all result as our programmes are customised to your needs. A cookie cutter programme is general and not personal and this is where we differ as we can tweak our approach to serve your needs making our service smarter and more reactive to what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by.

How to Get The Results You Want: Part One.

When you are at the start of your fitness journey and you type in to google “personal trainer Ware” or “gym in Ware” did you realize the path that you where undertaking. We often get asked by our clients at Results FAST simply….

“How do I get the results I want?”

It could have been a case of Christmas or New Year excess motivating you to make a change or it could be the fact that you want to challenge yourself in a different training environment. The big question is what is going to help you make that initial positive intention turn in to a well-oiled habit that fits regularly in to your lifestyle and helps you achieve your goals?

gym-23Goals are in effect of are a product of repetitive behaviors or habits. Habits in themselves are processes that become well practiced to the point that these behaviors become easy to perform. By their nature habits usually are developed because there is some form of reward which is deemed to be positive. This highlights why the sugary sweetness of chocolate can create a habitual behavior just as that early morning cup of caffeinated coffee can help you start the day just right.

No one wanted to be more successful at eating more sugar- it appears that this would be an easy habit to maintain.

Certain behaviors have a chemical reward and it makes their adherence easier. Over time the reward although still “rewarding” may not have the same effect but the behavior is well grooved and provides comfort as it becomes what you to daily. How does this relate to maintaining exercise and what is the positive reward?

There are a number of benefits from exercise which are well researched from enhanced mood, improved health, increased self-confidence being among them. Most people may have an outcome orientated goal such as losing weight.

However, this may be the first mistake… focusing on the result may not be the best way to work.

At Results FAST we often focus on process goals initially as opposed to say an outcome goal such as losing a specific amount of weight. For almost all our clients initially this is a target of between 8 and 12 sessions a month. Why is this effective? Well adherence is a process task orientated goal- it is focused on the present as opposed to a result which may happen over time. Task based goals are gratifying in the short term and build a consistent behavior in the long term which will help you achieve an outcome orientated goal.

In simple terms it’s about working on the process as opposed to the result.

gym-37Initially starting an exercise regime can be hard as initially there may be a period of adaptation which can leave you sore. Working through this point is vital to allow you to develop this behavior and often it is off putting for new exercisers and using a process or task related goal is more effective- science also proves this as it has been shown that outcome goals may weaken motivation where constant process goals which can be regularly achieved can help maintain consistent behavior.

When considering your goals, it’s important to define what they mean to you. Your perception of the overall target is important, but you have to make sure that you feel it is realistic. That is why process goals are a lot more self-motivating than outcome goals. A goal based around the repetition of simple, easy repeatable tasks will build your confidence, your self-belief and overall build your consistency of habit. It is also to highlight that at this point that success is important- each exercise session or logging of your food diary is important as it contributes to the overall goal.

When things go wrong this is usually a surrendering or weakening of self-confidence and you resort to prior behavior. This could be emotional eating, this could be eating when fatigued or just disorganization all it means is that belief or confidence in the overall goal has been surrendered and a behavior or habit that you perform usually is in competition with your new “positive” habit. Writing down your goal and making it is visible daily can be a powerful motivator as it reminds you of the positive path you are looking to pursue.

Individuals who write their goals down are 42% more likely to achieve them.

The simple task of recording your targets is good enough to improve your chance of success. This can also be a good motivator for times that you feel your self falling away from the habits that you know will make you successful.

What goes in to a fantastic plan though? How can you guarantee success?

If we are looking at things from an exercise point of view what do our personal training and gym clients say? Most importantly what is the difference between achievement of your goals and maybe not getting your approach right this time?

The things that seems to have a resonance with our membership (in a bit of a straw pole of our client trainees) are these factors in order.

  • Accountability

When I asked our clients what they thought helped them achieve their goals we got the following feedback.

“It’s the fact that you keep me organized and remind me to book my sessions in.”

“You make me feel a little guilty…. In a good way.”

“I know if my name is not in the diary you will call me…. So I got in there first.”

All these statements highlight that adherence can be built if there is an element of expectation. This expectation needs to be met and it’s a motivating factor for individual’s who care about achieving their target number of sessions for the week. This doesn’t highlight a fear of failure, but it instead indicates that being accountable to someone else can help maintain motivation. Show me someone who is not training regularly, and I will show you an individual who doesn’t have a strong goal as a motivating factor. That is fine, but it shows how the habit of exercise can be easily dropped if the individuals experience of it is negative or they feel hopeless in achieving their goals. As all of our clients work with a trainer it means the majority of them have goals which they share with their coach and in turn encourages adherence as they are accountable to the coaching team at Results FAST.

  • Flexibility

When asked about how someone has maintained their “diet” we have got the following comments:

“I just found a new normal- it was easier to be consistent once I knew what to do.”

“I worked on a few things and the rest just fell in to place.”

“I got organized.”

None of these points address food in itself. There was no magic bullet, no secret powder, macro ratio or “plan.” Each of these people found a flexible approach that bought them success. When it comes to nutrition we can achieve dietary success in a range of ways as human metabolism is very adaptable. It means that diets can vary greatly in foods but may be very similar in the results they bring. Having a flexible approach to nutrition and exercise and letting it become part of your lifestyle is important in long term success. Traditional dieting is closeting, short term in approach and often hard to maintain in social situations. In extreme cases they can result in poor relationships with food as well as socially. Having a good relationship with exercise and nutrition doesn’t mean leading an extreme lifestyle. It means knowing what works for you and having flexibility day to day so that it doesn’t dominate your life. Modern life is only getting busier and having flexible options around your exercise is important.

  • Expertise

“It’s all about eat less and do more isn’t it.” This is the leading statement that has been said by many a person. If this was the case we would all be walking round with six packs. Exercise and nutrition are more nuanced. As indicated before if we are all leading busier lives we want smarter more efficient solutions to exercise and nutrition therefore it helps if you work with an expert. Our clients highlight:

“You give me the best possible result for the spend of my time.”

“I only have 3 hours of training a week so I want to make the most of it.”

“All I have to do is turn up.”

We all have a lot of decisions to make in a day- if you have more decisions about how you should be exercising or eating for a specific goal it is another decision you have to make. It’s also a decision that you may make from perhaps a position of experience but not necessarily expertise. We aim to cut through the dogma for our clients. In simple terms:

“We work on the result, you work on the execution.”

This points back to my earlier references to goal adherence. When you as an exerciser are task orientated it allows your coach to be results orientated. To take that further as a personal trainer it allows us to adapt and change your programme as necessary. As we train people in small groups as well it can help your motivation seeing others who are working hard towards the same goal as you.

Creating the right environment for success is therefore important with the right blend of expertise, adherence and flexibility. What brings it all together though is personalisation. We all need expertise, adherence checks and flexibility but the cherry on the top is personalisation for where you are now. An individual who works 50 hours a week with an hour commute either way has different needs to a new mum who is only released from child care when her husband returns from home. What differs in these individuals from an Olympian. Well nothing really as they all have jobs and things they must do daily as well as various life pressures.

In summary, getting what you want is not just about a programme card or celebrity endorsed plan, it’s not about coconut oil or heavy squats. It’s about consistency, adherence, flexibility and creating an environment for success being led by the right expertise which is personalised to your needs. It’s what our small gym in Ware strives to create in our approaches and it’s these nuances that have helped us create a personal training centre with a difference.