This is your time!
With kids going back to school next week, now is when you need to start planning and preparing your health and fitness goals.
I get it, school holidays are freakin’ mental. There are kids everywhere. Some of them yours, some that just showed up for the free food and some that you really have no idea what they’re doing in your house! Your usually tight and tidy living room is now a war zone of sleeping bags and pillows. The TV has been on non-stop since 6:00am YESTERDAY and if you get on more request for takeaway pizza you might just scream. Pause, breathe, I’m here for you.
What I want to achieve today is a plan for re-entry. When life goes back to normal. When kids go to school, you finally have time to get to the gym and when all is right in the world. Setting up this plan ahead of time prevents you getting to Monday on the third week back of school and thinking “Shit, I only have 10 weeks of freedom left and I haven’t lost a kilo yet”.
Your plan needs to include these 5 crucial components:
- The workouts
- The meal plan
- The body maintenance piece (think foam rolling, massage and stretching)
- The mental health piece (meditation, and motivation management)
If you have had some time off due to school holidays its absolutely crucial that you start slow. Racing back to the gym and going all out on day one is a sure-fire way to injure yourself or at very least be so sore that you will dread the thought of going back. I see this time and time again when school goes back and my clients (and other mums in my gym) go a little to hard to fast. They come in, ‘warm up’ with a body attack class and then follow it up with a lower body weights session on the gym floor. Then they don’t return until the following Monday. I understand that you have your freedom back but crushing your body in your first workout just isn’t the way to go. The most effective way to increase your frequency at the gym (and likelihood you will actually achieve your goal) looks like this.
- Start with cardio only (I suggest 4-5 days / week for 30-45mins @60-70% effort). This slow and gentle approach will allow you to build up a routine around going to the gym and keep the stiffness and soreness to a minimum. Remember we are building into your routine here so a week or two like this is a good idea.
- Add weight training but keep it full body (2-3 days/week, 5-6 exercises, 3 sets of 12 each @75% effort). The goal here is to begin to condition your body while giving you plenty of time to rest and repair. Also training in a full body style will let you burn the maximum amount of calories while not overloading any particular part of your body.
For a free program aimed at getting your through the first 30days of your training go here.
The Meal Plan
Meal plans are a dime-a-dozen on the internet these days. There is keto, high carb, low carb, no carb, all fruit, all meat, no meat, white meat… honestly its exhausting. After food choice you then get to decide if you are intermittent fasting, how long you are fasting, if you fast at all, when you eat, how you eat and who you eat with! But fear not, there is a simple answer.
For my clients I try to keep it as simple as possible. Here is my process that is guaranteed to get you losing weight and still feeling happy and healthy.
- Start with your diet. Yep the foods and drinks that you are already consuming. Record EVERYHTING for a week and then sit down on Sunday and inspect. The biggest win here is that even knowing that you are going to record your food will improve you. I promise that having a food diary and knowing you need to write it down will steer you away from the cake counter at Coles.
- Circle the naughty stuff. You know what I mean, the food and drink that isn’t helping you achieve your health and fitness goal. The coke, the chips, the lollies. The takeaway food (even if its ‘healthier’ like Thai food), the beers and wine. The extra cappuccinos, the garlic bread with your pasta and even the cannoli you shared with hubby on Friday.
- Now you need to think. How much of this did I actually chose. Did I really want to eat the Tim-tams at work? Or was it just because they were being passed around? Did I need to buy that muffin with my coffee or would a delicious home mad protein ball have done the trick?
- Cross out the silly stuff. The foods you know you shouldn’t have eaten or the drinks that only went down because of habit.
- Underline the important stuff. This might be a wine on a Friday with your girlfriend who has had a big week. It might be the breakfast you simply die for on a Sunday morning. These pieces are staying.
- Do your second week exactly the same as the first with these changes
- Cut the ‘silly stuff’ entirely.
- Keep the ‘important stuff’ being mindful of how much and how often
- Make sure your other meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, 2 snacks) are as nutritionally full as possible. Colour, veges, variety and vibrance is your goal here.
- Get on the scale. If your weight has decreased or stayed the same (for one week) – no change. If your weight is consistent for two weeks or is increasing we need to look closer and you can get on a call with me here.
The Body Maintenance Piece
As you are getting back into fitness after the lay off, things are going protest. You are going to be a little uncomfortable as your muscles find their new normal and the workouts do their job. But all is not lost if you keep on top of your rest, recovery and body maintenance. Too often my clients forget how important it is to take care of your self along the way. Tipping in a massage here or there, some consistent self-treatment and the odd sauna can do wonders for keeping you in tip top shape. The best bang for your buck comes from:
- Making sure you are looking after yourself with the foam roller. This tool is massage for free. But… you need to put the effort in. Aim to get at least 5-10 minutes each night, emphasizing the problem areas. For a majority of my clients this means targeting the thighs, hip flexors, and middle back most nights. A hidden perk here is the sleepy-stimulus you get. Massage is a great way to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and gets you ready for sleep. I keep my foam roller and trigger ball under my bed!
- Hot/Cold cycling. Getting in your shower and cycling between hot and cold is another way to get your body and mind ready for bed. The sudden temperature shocks in addition to the soothing massage before bed will have you drifting off in no time. Keep it simple and aim for 20-30 seconds as hot then as cold as you can manage for 5-6 mins.
- Knowing when to pivot. If you have gone back to the gym and are finding the treadmill a little hard on the knees – change it up. Rotating through different equipment and exercise types will reduce the total weekly load on joints and still allow you to burn enough calories to get the scales moving. Try walking, riding, rowing, stair climbers or a combination of the lot to get your minutes in.
The Mental Health Piece
The most commonly overlooked part of any health and fitness program is the head. We train biceps and triceps, back, chest and bum but rarely brain. Its your head that is going to get you to the end of this journey so you had better pay it some attention too!
Locking in a tough mental state is one of the fundamental pieces of changing your health and fitness forever. It’s from this stable footing that you can really build your new healthier lifestyle. First is understanding the eb and flow of your year and preparing yourself appropriately. When am I going to be under stress, when will I have time, when will food choices be hard, when will working out be easy, when will I take time off. These are all questions that if answered give you the frame work to build off.
For example. I know that during the last few weeks of the year, I am working flat out. All of my clients are trying to get in great shape and this means between November 1st and December 25th its on. My session count goes up, the emails flood in and my free time is consumed with Christmas parties, social events and shopping! I know in this time that my workouts will decrease so I plan accordingly. I aim for 4+ workouts per week instead of six. I manage my expectations around body composition (likely not going to lose weight here – maintenance is the goal), time (meal prep is essential) and sleep (probably down an hour or 8 per week!). Knowing this going in I can make sure that my health and fitness is in tip top shape by September.
Also managing my stress at this time is crucial to stop the comfort foods (that are in abundance) from creeping in. This means bumping up meditation, booking more ‘still’ time on the weekends where possible and getting help with things that become difficult. This might mean leaning on parents to take care of my little one, prepping more dinners as well as lunches for mid-week and skipping normal weekday outings that effect my sleep.
Here are a few guidelines to sure up mental toughness in your new fitness plan:
- Be still. Be as consistent as possible with a 5-10 meditation process as you can. Get it done early before any one wakes up or late after kids are in bed. Just, GET IT DONE. There are a multitude of great apps and tools to check out – headspace and calm to name just two.
- Plan your month – see what is coming and prepare for it. I think of my workouts as Tetris blocks to be moved. At the beginning of the week they go into my icalendar. From then, they can be moved but not deleted. This is a great technique that keeps me calm knowing everything is booked in and will get done.
- Get help. Having a partner, friend or spouse that is striving for improved health at the same time is a great ally to have. You can bounce ideas and frustrations off each other and stay on track as a team.
You need to find time for fun. Being a mummy is hard work (much harder than any of us can imagine I assure you) and you need to find time for some luxury as well. A part of any long-term strategy is rest. I know we have already spoken about recovery but rest is different. Rest doesn’t include the foam roller or remedial massage. It doesn’t involve ice baths or sauna. What I am talking to now involves margaritas, chocolate and a hammock by the beach.
Now, feel free to include your choice of pleasure in this picture but the concept remains the same. Booking in days of luxury. By strategically and deliberately adding these days into your program we are ensuring a few things:
- You can manage the total caloric load of your treat to still keep you on track with your weight loss goals
- You actually get the full mental benefit of a cheat day well spent.
Too often my clients fail at giving themselves a treat worth waiting for. They set out on this fitness journey with a promise to themselves ‘I will not drink wine until I have lost 10 kilos’. The problem is that losing 10 kilograms of body fat might take you half a year! Are you really going to leave the chardy on the shelf that long? I doubt it. And when the first Friday afternoon rolls around and someone at the work party thrusts a cheap glass of whatever into your hand, its over.
The secret is to book in meals, drinks, treats that actually hold value to you. Its an easy choice really. Would you like the cheap wine at a work party, or a carefully selected pinot over a bowl of pasta with your best friend? No brainer. Making the reward exceedingly high value is how you make this technique work as a part of the overall strategy.
Putting it all together.
So how do you make this all happen? Step one is deciding that enough is enough. That you are ready to look after yourself the way you deserve to be. Step two is laying out the plan. To do this, map out your first four weeks. As we discussed earlier, I suggest keeping it incredibly simple for weeks one and two. Cardio only for the workouts and setting your pass mark at four total sessions – anything above this is just bonus points. Step three is arranging your food. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. I can’t tell you enough how preparing a majority of your food at least one week in advance will save you here. Step four, the fun! In your calendar find a day two weeks from now to have some fun, book in the margaritas, source the best couverture chocolate you can and find a friend to share it with. It is really that simple you just need to start.
If this seems like to much to handle on your own – you are not alone. I completely understand the overwhelm that comes with huge lifestyle change so I have a gift for you.
I have it all laid out for you. Everything. The food, the exercise and even a few recommendations for fun!
The (best) first four weeks of the rest of your life.
It’s free. You deserve it. Check it out.