5 Habits to Eat Healthier, Lose Weight, and Feel In Charge

Numerous times, I sit down with my amazing clients, and we talk about goals, and we talk about plans, and all of the diets they’ve followed. Recently, I was asked if I knew about the six pack sensation diet… I hadn’t. There appear to be so many diets, and not a lot of people actually succeeding with them. It’s quite frustrating really, but totally normal. A large part of our training is about habit based coaching.

I never (or hardly) focus on meal plans. I only ever focus on building positive habits, or building awareness through short periods of tracking food choices. I often get asked what is the key to fat loss, and my clients are often surprised (and so was I when I first found this out) to hear that fat loss is largely related to the speed with which we eat. By becoming more mindful about the foods we eat, than we were, and more mindful to allow ourselves to eat more slowly, we’ll often feel fuller earlier, and won’t be over eating any kind of food, let alone unhealthy food.

Food awareness is however very difficult. The reason being that we were raised by (or at least our parents were raised) people who had experienced rationing. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the general population would have had to limit what they bought, and therefore would absolutely made sure they finished what was on their plate. With food scarce, it was logical for all children to be raised to finish what was on their plate. So our parents would have then habitually trained us to finish what was on our plates, right from an early age.

Nowadays, with plates larger, portion sizing also, food more processed, and cheaper to buy, we always tend to eat more than we need, because we’re set on finishing the meal, and we often eat quickly (unthinkingly). We are a society of mindless eaters.

By eating too quickly, we’re not giving our stomach the time to tell our brain that we’re no longer hungry. This is largely due to the fact that eating food reduces the release of ghrelin, (the hunger hormone), and this takes time to be removed from our system, helping to maintain the feeling of hunger, even when we’ve eaten enough for our bodies to handle. We are also slightly, but chronically under slept, which increases the release of ghrelin, in turn causing us to eat even more.

  1. Eat Slowly. (15 to 20 minutes is ideal). So the simple solution to this is eating slower, and we can do that, by setting timers to get us started, or by checking the clock when we start eating and setting the intention of finishing after a certain time. There will be times we’re largely unsuccessful. However, if diligently working on this, we can begin to be more food aware, and slower eaters. When we eat slower, we lose between 50 and 70 calories on average. Add that up over 3 or 4 meals a day, and that’s at least 150 calories less per day. Add that up over a week and thats at least 1000 calories less. Do that over a year, and the weight loss is pretty steadily downward so long as we do the next 4 habits in conjunction to some decent degree –
  2. Eat Protein Rich Foods with each meal. The protein will provide for more growth and repair. It reduces hunger further. Is harder to digest, and leaves us feeling satisfied for longer. It will allow us to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day, and therefore mean we’re able to be even more mindful about our next meal.
  3. Eat lets of deep green or bright vegetables with each meal. They are high in volume, low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals, and therefore is optimal for providing a conditions of health. It is still conjecture, however it seems logical to think, that when a person becomes vegetarian for the first time, their energy levels take a spike, because of the greater array of nutrient dense foods, that allow for optimal bodily function. In this instance, a 1 or 2 handfuls is the best bet with this.
  4. Eat fruit or starchy carbohydrates on days where you perform vigorous physical activity. This includes foods such as bananas, large fruits, potatoes, pasta and bread. These are great for fueling depleted glycogen stores in the blood stream after you’ve trained hard, and pushed yourself. In this instance, one fist of this, will suffice. On non training days, do the best that you can to avoid these foods, and eat less starchy carbs than you would otherwise. The sugars are less necessary, and are more likely to be stored as fat, if you do.
  5. Each healthy fat daily. This includes saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. What do I mean by this? Saturated fats include coconut oil, butter, cheese, animal fats and eggs. Monounsaturated fats include macadamias, pecans, almonds, cashews, and pistachios, olives, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and avocado. Polyunsaturated fats includes fish oil, algae oils, sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds and flax oil, brazil nuts. Aim for 1 to 2 thumbs of which per meal, with a variety of different sources, and you’ll be winning. At each meal choose a different fat source to get ⅓ of each per day.

These are the 5 healthy habits. Let me know what you think, and how you get on. Post any questions to comments.

Archie,
Head Coach
CF Chichester

Succeed with support: how your social group can help you achieve in fitness (or anything else).

In the group we most associate with most, lies a key contributor or detractor for the success that we deserve. If you’d like to find out if your social network is helping you succeed in your health and fitness goals then fill out this very short survey here.

“This is not a piece of gym equipment!!”

A small note written on the side of our giant cork we have in our kitchen. A wedding gift from some friends, that we had everyone sign or write a short note or word of advice on our wedding day. A great memento of a fantastic day. The short note represented such an example of two opposing opinions. The funny thing was, the cork is heavy, awkward and would be an excellent substitute for a heavy dumbbell if I was stuck for equipment and kit and wanted to do a workout.

It was written by a uni mate who was anything but athletic. To him it must have seemed bizarre and a bit odd, me lumping round a left over curb block which I’d ‘salvaged’ from a building site, bundled into the back of my car, and served me for a year as a decent weight to do workouts in our university house garden, overlooking the beautiful town of Falmouth, in Cornwall.

“This is not a piece of gym equipment!!”

To my uni mates, I was a bit weird, because while they’d be getting up, having their cereal breakfast, and strong coffee, I’d already be done and dusted having had my breakfast earlier, post workout, showered and ready to head to lectures. They did work hard though, it’s just twice or thrice weekly curries that we may be disagreed on.

Luckily, I was focused enough to maintain a good routine, until I became enamoured with a girl at uni, who liked making cakes. I ate so much cake over one summer, I stopped training as much and my six pack went to a four pack. They laughed, but hey, I was still getting laid.

Back in ’08 when I thought trying to balance on the front of a light longboard was a good idea.

Ultimately it was not a match made in heaven, and I got back on the routine, of fitness, cold showers, and only the ‘semi-regular’ curry with my housemates. With my six pack back, I was feeling good, and have learnt that ultimately the cakes not worth it, the feeling of being fit and healthy is.

Consider this, when you’re trying to workout, do the people around you support you in it? For instance saying things like “you go get your session done, I’ll look forward to when you’re back” (an example from wife) not “you’re going to work out now???” (also from my wife!). In relationships, support is everything. Especially when it comes to personal goals. Understanding where the other is coming from, and knowing what they want, makes living together, and working together, cohesive, fun and ultimately successful. In a relationship (or surrounded by unhealthy work colleagues for 8 hours a day) if there isn’t a decent level of support in your goals, then making them turn from dreams to reality is going to be much harder. In fact, they might not even be possible at all.

 

Judge buddies.

From working successfully with clients, sometimes, I’ve not even discussed diet, or training, until, we’ve worked out, how to get the partners on board. If you don’t have a partner, it’ll be friends and family who’ll probably have the biggest influence over you and your health endeavours.

If you don’t have what you would call a ‘supportive network’ around food and eating, don’t despair. Neither did I. Now, I’ve got nothing but a supportive, amazing community, wife, friends and family, because of a few simple strategies which I’ve employed (and still use) over the last 7-8 years.

Strategies to Gain Social Support

  • Communicate your goals effectively, earnestly and honestly to a loved one. The best way to do this is to sit down with a pen and paper write them out (a list of about 5 will do) and put a timeline on those goals. Then explain to your loved one, friends or family member the meaning it would give you to accomplish these.
    • Expressing sincerity with your goals, helps to allow you to be more vulnerable, and endearing to the other party. Making them more likely to be fully on board in helping you (especially if they come up with a plan to help you get there).
    • Making it clear that this is really important to you, and you can’t do it without their support, and help, will help them to feel part of the process and part of why you’re going to succeed with this. This step is important because giving them a sense of purpose within the realm of this goal, will bring you together and make it much more likely that you’ll have at least one person who will help.
    • If this conversation doesn’t go well. Find someone else to have this conversation. If you must make this work with the other party (for instance you live with them!) then try a gentler approach over a sustained period of time. Bring it up often, and their negative response will lessen over time. You will eventually ‘wear them down’ to the point where you make it your goal to get them on board first with you achieving these goals. Two people working on a goal is better than one.
  • Join a group of people who have similar goals. Whether this is a gym, club or social group, having friends who are on a similar path is going to dramatically increase your likelihood of success, because they will help you see methods of success that you didn’t see before. They’ll offer a different perspective and with any luck, inspire you along, when times are tough. Being part of a WhatsApp group is highly beneficial in this regard because communication becomes more frequent and sharing information becomes easier.
    • Explain to your work/boss that this is your goal. The key influencers at your place of work will have a major impact on your success. If they know you’re going to be starting later every Tuesday and Thursday because you’re finishing your longer workout/run/bike ride/swim on these days, but you’re going to be finishing later then this can be a help to them in understanding better you movements (if they’re expecting you to attend an office at a set time).
    • You could also do an event for them which helps promote their brand or if they have a charitable arm, gain sponsorship from them if its a run or a challenge such as a tough mudder, and then they’d be getting a direct benefit from you accomplishing your goal.
    • You could always invite your boss/work colleagues along to do the challenge with you. Gaining support in the office for a diet bet, or having the no junk food rule in the office can have a massively positive impact not only on your success but on those around you.
  • Invite people to join with you on something diet bet if your goals are weight loss related. Even being part of something like weight watchers, or slimming world can still have a hugely positive impact on your success because it’s a supportive community geared towards helping all of you succeed, and providing a level of accountability which you wouldn’t otherwise have if you weighed yourself alone. It provides a space to talk about things with like minded individuals who’ve already been where you are now, and can help provide an outside perspective that is impartial and objective.
  • Employ a coach who’s already done it. Professional coaches, are trained in how to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. We know how it feels sometimes, and we can be a positive source of knowledge and support to help keep you on track, and enjoy the success that you deserve. We all need coaches at some point in life. Why not start right now?

 

If you’d like to learn more about whether you could do with some extra strategies to help be more focused, and gain extra support from those around you take our all new social support questionnaire. It’s totally free, and if you’d like to talk some more put your details into our get started page here.

Social support link here too – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFCsocialsupport

Thanks for reading,

Archie,
Head Coach.

A Mindset For The Injured Athlete: How to stop injuries from harming the rest of you

If you’re short of time, or in the car, you can download the article here and listen to it.

Injuries change lives. They affect how we move. They affect how we sleep. They affect how we think. They affect how we feel about ourselves. The truth is that injuries happen. No matter what sport you’re in. However, that does not mean that you can’t turn an injury into an opportunity to grow.

The first major injury that happened to me, was riding a bike down hill. I had no helmet. I had a narrow path to stay on. I was going too fast. At the bottom of the track was a small bridge. Either side of the bridge were concrete posts and a metal bar. As I approached the bridge, I knew I was going too fast and knew I didn’t have time to break. I hit the post with my handlebars, was flung onto the steel bar, and proceeded to crack both front teeth, and badly cut open my arm. I was 10. Not a great move. It took me a few weeks to recover and have the stitches removed (I did that at home myself because I thought it was cool) along with a trip to the dentist.

I didn’t learn the lesson though, and following that accident, I proceeded to have a second more serious crash. This time it took me out of rugby for a year, and pretty much stopped any chance of being a professional player later on due to the severity of the injury to my neck. Oh well. The good thing was, that I then became really good at judging when I was going too fast and showing off. Now, I’m much more cautious, and have managed to avoid anything of that severity since.

The view I now take is that there is always something to be gained in equal proportion to the accident. Every injury that you suffer (and they will come) is a gift.

In our training program we see a great deal of people who are injured (a most, you’ll be happy to know are injured outside of the gym). However, it often affect a person’s mindset towards training, and will if confidence has been lessened often prevent them from continuing with us. For us, this can be frustrating, because it’s my goal to help as many people as possible, live happier healthier lives, with or without injuries.

The major benefit I see, is that it is an intensely personal event. Therefore, forces us to forget all competition, and focus solely on our own progress. This in an of itself is a massive gift that can be unlocked, if then set realistic metrics for success, you can begin working towards them. If for instance you’ve injured your back, and it hurts at night on a scale of 1 to 10 pretty close to a 5 or a 6. The goal I would set is to find things that lessen the pain, so that I can lower it down to a 3 or 4. In this instance the method may be a combination of seeing a good physiotherapist, and performing twice daily mobilisations to the glutes and back muscles and surrounding tissues using a lacrosse ball, with a weekly sports massage. In this case, back pain can be lessened and voila, you’re on the path to recovery and feeling good because we can feel like we’re making progress.

A second example, for myself has been my right hip. I’ve damaged it in some way. Meaning that I can no longer perform single leg squats. It goes weak at a certain point of hip flexion (when my knee gets closer to my chest). So, my metric of success is currently, to increase gently the range in which it feels strong and stable. So far, I’ve scaled back my progressions, to one which I can feel the same recruitment of muscle fiber in both legs, and then over the last few months have been progressively increasing the depth of the squat, and soon will be able to increase the difficulty of the progression further once I’ve developed further strength and stability in the joint. In this instance, I never would have quite focused so greatly on the nuances of a single leg squat as much had I had not experienced this injury. I wouldn’t be emphasising the point as much of glute activation and strengthening. Of watching for valgus (inward) knee in my clients as much, had I not been experiencing this injury to my own right hip. In fact, getting injured in my right hip has been a god send. It’s allowed me to become a more caring and diligent coach as a result and allows me the opportunity to help my clients before they get to this point. It’s also forced me to focus more on gymnastic progressions, rather than lifting heavy weight (I’ll get back to those later).

I suspect that any injury within the body, can be seen as a metaphor in how to approach challenges in life. That is why I believe so passionately in the benefit of injury. The opportunities they present are unique and will lead each and every single person on a journey they never thought they would take, and with the right approach, setting proper and achievable metrics for success, we can come to appreciate them for the gift which they really are.

If you’re injured, or recovering from one, it’s also important to concentrate movements that you can do, in recovery, and not focus on the movements you can’t. Our classes are intense, but they can 100% be adjusted towards each individual person. For those who are curious, I’ve added this guide which you can download here, and use any time you come to a Crossfit class and are not sure what movements to substitute to. Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Training Substitutions Guide

If you fancy a good listen you can download the audio guide here:

Key takeaway – “if its pain free, it works.”

Notes:

Back Pain – Some tools to help fix it – link here. 

Terminal Knee Extension – Link here. 

 

Archie Cunningham, Head Coach