“Self-care” – 4. & 5. On sweat, my favourite yoga videos, and eating less pizza

Here’s the third post in my “self-care” series, after I wrote last week that although the term “self-care” wasn’t in my childhood or teenage vocabulary, it’s become something I’ve learned is crucial, from listening to wonderful podcasts and reading great blogs on “lifestyle design”, mental health issues, and figuring out how to live and breathe in today’s changing and demanding world.

For the next week or so, I’m going to share some of the best things I do to give myself a little space, even when I’m so busy or anxious I feel like I barely have time to pause. Today, food and exercise (SIGH).

  1. Reducing carb and sugar intake, aka, limiting my Franco Manca visits
food-salad-healthy-lunch

(Credit: Pexels.com)

There are more arguments around this than people on the planet, but basically, through trial and error and diets and periods of eating rubbish I’ve found that I feel better and healthier if I generally avoid carbs with my food about 90% of the time. Everyone has to do what works for them.

I’m still fatter than I want to be and I still have a serious sweet tooth (and bread tooth, and cheese and gin) but even leaving behind all the crap about Atkins and paleo and cutting out food groups and ascribing morality to certain foods – top tip, don’t do it – I know that I feel better if I don’t eat pasta, bread, potatoes or rice, or any of their friends.

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Let’s stop with the negative self-talk, OK?

True, that

True, that

Really thought about this advert from Whole Foods during my workout today. I see this poster every time I walk into the Tube at the moment, and you know what? It’s so right.

I did another HIIT workout this morning, even though yesterday’s workout meant my thighs and calves were killing me (even after a bit of stretching), and it wasn’t easy. I felt tired and weary, and try as I might my legs felt heavy pretty much all the way through.

I kept going, of course, but damn if a tiny negative voice started piping up, going “No point doing it if you’re not going to do it properly”, “jump higher, how lazy are you?”, “ENGAGE the muscles, stop cheating when you bend down, commit to it, for god’s sake”. Etc etc. All the good stuff (not).

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The 8 stages of getting yourself out of bed for a morning workout

It’s been over a year since I started working out 5 to 7 days a week.

As a total night owl who rarely feels human until about 10am or later, I started my routine by doing my workouts in the evening, knowing that if I tried to do them in the morning, they’d never get done. For me, establishing a daily workout habit was tough enough – contemplating doing it in the morning before work seemed like a nightmare too far.

It worked for a bit. I did my workout even if I’d been out for dinner, or if I got home a little late. It was tough, but do-able.

But then, life started to get in the way. I’d go out to meet a friend for dinner and not get back until far too late, I joined a choir with evening rehearsals, I moved flats and it started to look a little anti-social to work out at half ten at night.

And suddenly, the workouts stopped getting done. I felt lethargic, fat, dissatisfied, and unhappy that I couldn’t seem to maintain my new habit.

Suddenly, morning workouts seemed the only way: get it done before anything else, and still have a life in the evenings. Sorted! Ahem, well, yes, but…

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“Are YOU beach body ready?” Oh, do f*ck off

Apparently, if you don’t like this ad, you don’t like being healthy. Well, bollocks, frankly

This blogpost was originally published on The Huffington Post here

I was particularly affronted to be greeted with this monstrosity of an advert on my daily commute this morning. Funny, I thought I was just minding my own business in my usual spot on the Jubilee line platform. But NOPE, actually I should be PERMANENTLY stressing over whether my body is “beach ready”. Duh.

Credit: @Seja75 on Twitter

Luckily, I’m not the only one to be affronted. A Change.org petition against the ads has nearly 30,000 signatures already. Sign it here! Also follow the link to see lots of people’s reasons for signing, including sexism, promotion of eating disorders, constant bombardment of these sorts of images…

But actually, my problem with it isn’t the usual “OMG sexism, skinny women’s bodies on show, bikinis, argh” outrage.

From my point of view, it’s about promoting one kind of body over all others, and suggesting that one magic protein powder will do that.The response of the company, Protein World, is particularly infuriating.

In the inimitable words of the TimeOut London Now Here This website: “Protein World do not appear to give a shit about any of the criticism. They argue that the the adverts are okay because the model has a healthy BMI. They also say: ‘It is a shame that in 2015 there are still a minority who aren’t focusing on celebrating those who aspire to be healthier, fitter and stronger.’“.

That’s suggesting that if you don’t like this ad, you don’t like being healthy. Well, bollocks, frankly.

Because don’t get me wrong. I love being healthy. I even like working out, because of how it makes me feel. I care about my fitness and health, spend time planning my meals and trying to make good choices when I eat and workout, and aspire to a strong, healthy body that looks good.

BUT this ad is promoting ONE type of body – on a rather miserable-looking model, at that – above all others, and making weight loss about looks, and being “beach ready” rather than strength, health and mental positivity, and suggesting that some protein powder rubbish will do that for you. All kinds of wrong.

Body positivity isn’t about shaming or being thin – it’s about feeling good in your skin. It means different things to different people – for me, it’s about being strong and functioning well, as well as being at the best weight for my figure. For others, it’s something else – recovery from an eating disorder, the freedom to eat what they like without worrying, or not conforming to others’ views of how they should look.

Credit: @DoveUK and @MTWTHRL on Twitter

So GTFO of my commute, Protein World, and PLEASE, stop talking to me about beaches when I’m on the way to work, yeah? Ta.

This blogpost was originally published on The Huffington Post here

Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 6 & 7 – All good. Now for next week. Eek.

Three words to describe the days: Controlled cheating (ha!), OK

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Cheated a bit, but got back on the horse)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Ok, managed to make up the one I missed)

Notable comments? The plan worked – I’ve lost 2kg. I am a bit worried about next week, so determined to take what I’ve learned and, for want of a better term, not screw it up…

This is what I was dealing with on Saturday….! Don’t think that’s on the plan…

Overall, the weekend was fine. I didn’t splurge as much as I could have done (I sometimes see Saturdays as my EAT ALL THE THINGS days e.g. white bread, cereal, orange juice, butter, jam, etc etc). Despite going out twice, I still managed to maintain the weightloss that I’d seen by Friday. In fact, I lost a bit more by Monday morning – 2 kilos (4.4lbs) in total.

Despite there being a few chances to  cheat, I felt OK because I was keeping up the exercise levels, and I know that if any weight loss plan is going to work, I have to give myself a break when it’s unavoidable, such as going out for birthdays, and events with work.

This weekend was my mum’s birthday, and we went out to eat for dinner and once for lunch. Each time, I didn’t go too mental, but I definitely let myself enjoy the food without going overboard, or feeling too guilty.

Even though I had duck-fat three-times-cooked chips, steak, and a chocolate brownie-based dessert for dinner (OMG), it was OK, because I ate it slowly and really savoured it. After a week of feeling pretty hungry, it felt really special to eat those things, rather than just piling on more guilt. I didn’t eat everything on  the plate, either, which is quite a feat for me, when it comes to chips…

I also cheated a bit at breakfast, because I had a driving lesson in the morning, and I really didn’t want to feel headache-y and light-headed for that. I did my workout as usual, but added in two very thin slices of toast to my smoked salmon and eggs, and felt immediately better for it. Magical things, sometimes, carbs!

I didn’t manage an evening workout, but that was OK because I did one on Sunday morning instead, even though Jillian calls Sundays “rest days”.

It’s a sign of how much my mentality towards just “getting it done” has changed, in that I generally don’t do rest days if I can help it, unless I’m ill or genuinely busy, or totally exhausted.

My default position now is “I might as well”, which helps get it done. These workouts are so short anyway (20-30 minutes without warmup) that I tend to think it takes more time and mental energy to think about whether to do it, than to just do it.

Sunday was fine, I did cheat a bit with lunch and had some bread with my soup, but no big deal. We went out to a show in the evening, and there were crisps and spiced nuts and all kinds of deliciousness, but I snaffled a couple of peanuts and stuck to a gin and slimline tonic.

Bit miserable, but if there’s one thing this plan has taught me, it’s cutting out needless snacking and grazing, which I can be quite prone to.

Overall, I felt better over the weekend (the added sleep always helps!) and come Monday morning, I had still maintained my 2kg (4.4lb) weightloss. Woohoo!

In the meantime, I’ve planned my next week’s worth of food. I’m still trying to stick to the 1,200 total, but adding a few more foods back in (fruit, wholegrain bread/wrap at lunch some days).

It’s a bit scary as I’m out eating and drinking with work or friends three times this week, but I’m sticking to the morning workouts and will add in evening ones when I’m at home too, even though Jillian recommends only one workout a day for the rest of the plan.

I’m determined to make this work with my life, and if that means working a bit harder on the days when I’m not out, then so be it. Hopefully, if I’m lucky, this time next week I’ll be seeing another positive result…!

Jillian Michaels Kickstart: Day 5 – So nearly there…

Friday 19, day 5 of 7

Three words to describe today: Almost there, headache,

How easy was the food plan? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Actually felt full for the first time! Cheated a bit again…)

How easy were the workouts? ✦✦✦✦✧ (Fine. Super bored of cardio, though.)

Notable comments? CURSE YOU, headache. I’m drinking loads of water, why are you still here?! Surely I can’t be *that* addicted to sugar or wheat, right!? Argh.

Home straight, people! Home straight!

Just two days left (well, basically). Nearly done now. I AM going out at the weekend though, which is a bit of a road bump, but I’m planning on not going too crazy, and being 100% on-plan the rest of the time. Also, if this is to be sustainable in some way, then I have to let myself go out, and not worry about it. Especially on special occasions such as birthdays.

Also, a revelation: eating protein (chicken or ham) plus a bowl of homemade vegetable soup is the WAY FORWARD when it comes to feeling full on not many calories. And you don’t even need any bread! I know! (Although a chunk of country bread with a thick wodge of butter would definitely improve things, taste-wise, anyway. SIGH!)

I’m sure I’ve heard this tell before but discovering it for myself is a nice plus to this long, long, hungry week.

I do still have a near-constant headache or slight feeling of light-headedness though, which I guess is a sign that I really should either be drinking even MORE water (I’m already on over 2 litres a day, and really, how much time can one person really spend going to the bathroom?!) or actually eating a bit more, earlier in the day.

Turns out that *this* with a few raisins is not enough for breakfast, especially after a workout…:(

The teeny-tiny breakfasts on this plan (1 yoghurt and some nuts/raisins) don’t work for me. I’d prefer to eat a more filling breakfast, and then a smaller lunch, and a no-carb dinner.

Jillian does offer “target” calories for each meal though, particularly in the next, slightly easier stage of the plan, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep seeing results if I work with the same calories, more or less, just slightly different foods – e.g. a green smoothie for breakfast instead of a yoghurt, and then maybe the yogurt for the afternoon snack, instead? Anyhoo…

Headache aside, all seems well – my calves have even stopped hurting quite as much as before!

AND – this morning I stepped on the scales, and have already lost over a kilo (3 lbs).

Whoop whoop! Maybe it’s water weight, but either way, I’d call that a little bit of a result. Now all I need to do is *not* put it all back on next week…