Building an achievable fitness plan

The most important first step to becoming fit is making a workable fitness plan, otherwise it’s too easy to lose focus. Try asking yourself these five questions below and make sure you answer them completely honestly:

Building an achievable fitness plan

1. What are my bad health habits?

Your answers might be poor eating, having too many snacks or sitting down for too many hours…

2. Where do you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10?

One being completely out of shape – breathing heavily while doing daily tasks – and 10 being perfect fitness.

3. How much time do you currently dedicate to exercise or activity each week?

And is it enough?  Would you like to be more fit and do you want to have more energy?

4. What three fitness activities do you most enjoy? 

Be honest – do you like walking, exercise classes or simply playing outdoors with your kids?  Don’t hold back from putting something more adventurous down as a bonus answer  – you can work up to high-powered activities as you build your fitness.

5.  What roadblocks have caused you to lose focus in the past?

Maybe you’ve stopped exercising because you’ve become busy at work, or your routine was interrupted and you didn’t get back into fitness.  Put down anything that derailed your plans.

Now let’s use your answers to make a fitness plan

You can decide to fix just one thing at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.  Let’s go through your answers and build a fitness plan you can stick to all year.  You don’t need to aim too high – right now, we just want to improve on where you are now.

Overcoming bad habits

If you eat unhealthily then you should focus on making your next meal more healthy because you can’t change what you’ve eaten in the past but you can make sure your next meal meets all your nutritional needs.  Approach fitness in the same way: focus on your current or next workout and do the best you can. Decide right now when you are going to do an activity… or even go and grab your running shoes and prepare for an activity session as soon as you finish reading this!

Your fitness rating

It’s good to know where you are – but you also need to think about where you want to be.  I’d like you to aim for two points higher than your current number.  So,  if you rate a five then your fitness plan should slowly take you up to a seven. And, if you’re already at level 10 then I know you’re ready for any challenge but maybe you could diversify?  Think about whether there are any areas you could further develop or learn to love more?

Your exercise routine

If you want to give more time in your life to exercise then try to increase your exercise habits by 10 minutes per week until you reach at least 30 minutes of activity a day.  Exercise doesn’t have to be daunting: if you currently sit down in an office for long periods then promise yourself that you’ll go and visit a colleague instead of emailing at least twice each day.  Or, plan a walk straight after work – even if you only go around the block then at least you’re out and about.  As you build your fitness plan, you’ll soon see that adding 10 minutes of activity here and there can make your day more fun and that has to be better than thinking of exercise as a chore.

Choosing an activity

You can start out by only doing the activities on your list – the ones you listed in answer to question four. The start of your fitness plan is not a good time to try new types of exercise, so focus on your favorites – they’ll help you feel confident and comfortable for the first few weeks.  Activities like walking, jogging and body-weight exercises are a great way to start out. I love the phrase: “don’t run before you can walk” because a slow and steady approach builds results that will last.

Avoiding roadblocks

If you find yourself always stumbling because of one particular obstacle then avoid it!  It sounds simple I know, but if you always plan early morning workouts but you can’t get out of bed then consider lunchtime or evening sessions.  You know yourself and your fitness plan needs to be tailored to who you are so, don’t pledge to do something that you won’t enjoy because then you’re less likely to succeed.

Finalizing your fitness plan

Now you should have everything you need to create a fitness plan that meets your needs.  You know what you want to achieve, how you what to achieve it and why.  You even know what might knock you off course.  With your fitness plan, be kind to yourself and choose an easier route that you know you will be happy navigating over the long term.

Once you have gathered all your thoughts, why not write them out clearly? For me, transferring my thoughts to paper helps to make them concrete – and if I have my goals written down, I know I can’t ignore them. Place your fitness plan somewhere prominent to remind you of your starting point and your aims.  I recommend sticking it on the fridge because keeping it visible will help to keep you motivated.  I also always keep an exercise journal because it’s a great way to track my progress and, when it works, you want to be able to remember how you did it.

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Are You Facing A Weight loss plateau?

Have you hit a weight loss plateau? Has your fitness plan stalled and you don’t feel you’ll reach your goals?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I can help you power back up and start seeing results again.

Weight loss plateau

 

If you ever feel that you are doing everything just right with your fitness and nutrition plan but your results don’t seem to represent all of your hard work then I have a simple but effective piece of advice. Hitting a fitness or weight loss plateau is a very common problem in the world of sports performance and general weight loss. There are many theories on why our bodies sometimes hit a temporary yet frustrating roadblock but, by thinking outside the box, you can power through the frustration and start seeing results again. Keep on reading and you may be surprised at just how easy it can be to jump-start your flat-lined results.

All you need to do is take a few days rest in order to kick start your results.  Honestly – I’m not crazy or cracking one of my usual jokes – you need to do something really different to put body back on track and move past your fitness or weight loss plateau. I believe that if you’re ready to break free from a weight loss plateau or prevent yourself from hitting a future roadblock then a good rest may just be the magic ingredient you need.

Being consistent with your activity level and nutrition plan is an important strategy when it comes to sports performance, weight loss and fitness but have you ever heard the old saying that “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing”?  In my opinion this saying is especially true when it comes to overexerting your body. Pushing your body to the point of exhaustion can spell disaster for your fitness level and weight loss goals. A plateau can happen at any point if you don’t schedule some quality down time into your program.

Three great reasons to rest your body

Here are my good reasons why a rest is sometimes more beneficial than a training session.

  • Avoid fatigue

Your body needs to re-generate, restore and repair itself often. The most effective way for your body to naturally heal itself is for you to rest. Overworked muscles and over-stressed joints just don’t perform as well and luckily our body lets us know when our muscles are overworked.  Your pain receptors will make movements uncomfortable and your joints can become tender when you push your body too hard. The nervous system also needs time to rest in order to adapt and improve from training.

Always listen to your body and rest if you are sore.

  • Natural Cycle

Athletes train in cycles for a reason, the timing of training may vary from athlete to athlete but one common factor in every athlete’s training program are pre-planned rest days. One of the main reasons athletes rest is to avoid fatigue, but resting the body also helps athletes avoid common overuse or stress injuries. Many athletes notice an improved general performance after taking time off from training.

A well-rested body will get better results than a tired one.

  • Spark Excitement

If you are putting your body through the motions day after day, you can become complacent and your exercise intensity is likely to drop without you even realizing.

Have you ever seen a dog that hasn’t been walked for a few days? As soon as the dog goes out, it’s like a whole new world and they are just so excited. Well, it can be the same for humans when we’re working out.Taking a day or two off from your current workout routine can make you come back to the gym with a renewed commitment and excited approach.

 ***

There could be many factors that impact your results but if over-training is one of them it is easy to fix with a simple day or two of rest. My goal is to help you discover ways to improve your current fitness level and emphasize that you should to listen to your body. We are all individuals and our bodies adapt at our own personal rate: giving your body adequate rest so it can be strong for your next workout is a smart approach to achieving sustainable results.

You only have one body so use it wisely.

Although I am encouraging you to add a few rest days into your intense training weeks, this is not an excuse for you to sit on the couch and do nothing all the time! A simple change of routine or incorporating activities that are at a lower intensity such as a gentle walk or swim are acceptable rest day activities.  Occasionally my family enjoys a ‘duvet day’ where we sit back, relax and read or watch movies.  We’re usually active and we like getting out and about but now and then it’s good for everyone to recharge.

I know that taking a rest definitely improves my performance and helps me reach the next fitness level.  So, aim for one or two rest days a week but keep your completely inactive couch days to a few times a year!

Getting Active …

So often when people hear the term ‘active’ it brings on a feeling of dread!

People imagine having to dedicate hours to insane workouts or worse, they might think of extreme sports that they’d hate like, perhaps, skateboarding and skydiving. I think this is because the term ‘active’ can have so many meanings.  We hear the word being used in commercials with a visual of a man diving off a building and the tag line “Active men use this deodorant” and it sets an expectation about what ‘active’ really means.

Some people think you have to be skinny to be active. Again this is because the media often uses the term ‘active’ while showing incredibly toned bodies with 6 pack abs. Subconsciously, this can make us associate an active lifestyle with too much hard work and danger. So if you, like so many others, find yourself saying “I’m not cut out for this active lifestyle thing” let me try and change your mind.

The perils of our modern lifestyle

The modern world of technology and advanced transport has changed the way we live. We often spend far too much time sitting at a desk staring at a screen. And, it’s a sign of the times that many people go straight from front door, to car, to parking lot.  Then they ride the elevator up to their offices, often with no fresh air in between leaving the house and arriving in the office.

Being active doesn’t take much; adding a walk around the block or even to a colleague’s desk can at least get you up and out of your chair.  I always like see how people mix up their commutes by adding a walk, climbing the stairs or even cycling if they’re feeling courageous.

Talking of bikes, have you seen the ’push bikes’ that now have engines on the back?  Or the little motorized scooters?  I bet that no one dreamed how popular these would become back in the 1990s…

Technology is wonderful but it has made us a little lazy. Just because you can sit on a bike and let it propel you to your destination, it may not be the best choice for your body especially if you want to stay healthy.

Find your own ‘active’

Find your own ‘active’, Samantha Clayton, Discover Good Fitness

The truth is that if you are not sleeping or sitting still, then you are being active.  Even fidgeting counts as activity and helps you burn calories!

Finding the level of activity that is right for your body is the best piece of advice I can give you.  Increasing your activity level can be as simple as taking a midday stroll or as dramatic as training for a marathon. Once you make a commitment to increasing your activity level, guess what? Every few weeks your body will adapt and you may be inspired to take it to the next level.

In my world the meaning of ‘active’ changes every day.  Some days it’s riding real bikes around the yard with my kids and other days it’s an extreme mountain trail adventure… Both are active, both are enjoyable and both are fun!

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Getting on the activity ladder is often the biggest step of all, but now that you know that being active does not have to mean skydiving and high intensity workouts, you may be ready to start climbing up your ladder to a more active life.

Good Nutrition & Convenience Can Go Hand-In-Hand

Focus on good nutrition while making use of pre-prepared foods and you’ll find that healthy eating is easy.

Good nutrition & convenience can go hand-in-hand

One of the biggest complaints people have about eating healthily is the perception that it requires more hours in the kitchen to prepare nutritious meals.  But there are so many convenience items available now that preparing healthy meals is a snap.

For protein, you can buy fish or poultry that’s already seasoned and ready for quick grilling or frozen pre-cooked prawns that can be tossed with some pasta and veggies for a quick dish.  And don’t overlook canned tuna, salmon or chicken breast that can be added to salad greens, rice dishes or soups.

You can also boost the nutritional value of condensed soups by mixing them with non-fat milk or soy milk instead of water.  As the soup is heating, toss in some frozen mixed vegetables, or some loose pack spinach to add nutrition, flavor and bulk.  Frozen-loose pack vegetables allow you to use only what you need and are ready to eat in minutes.

Salad preparation can also be quick thanks to pre-washed salad greens, all sorts of pre-sliced and chopped veggies and baby carrots.  Add a splash of low-fat bottled dressing and some pre-cooked chicken or shrimp and you’ve got a quick and healthy meal.

Fresh, pre-washed and cut veggies are available in the produce section, and if your market has a salad bar you can often find them there, too.  Pop them in the steamer, toss with some pre-chopped garlic or onions when they’re crisp/tender, and you’ve got a gourmet dish in minutes.

Master Your Diet Demons With A Food Journal

Think keeping a food journal is a waste of time?  You might want to think again.  Study after study consistently tells us that self-monitoring – that is, keeping track of what you eat, how much exercise you get, and how much you weigh – is one of the key components to successful weight loss. 

food journal

In a recent reviews on the subject, the conclusion across the board was there was “a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss.”

What the studies tell us is that when you’re accountable to someone – not just to yourself, but also to a healthcare provider, a life partner or a friend – you greatly improve your chances of losing weight and keeping it off.  And, the more often you keep track, the more successful you’re likely to be. In one study involving nearly 1700 people, those who kept food journals six days a week lost double the weight of those who kept food diaries only once a week or less.

Why does this work?  Because a food journal’s one of the best tools around for helping you to monitor – and change – your behavior.  You can’t change your behavior until you analyze – and acknowledge – what you’re currently doing.  Once you’ve got a clear picture of how much you’re eating and  how much (or how little) you’re exercising, you’re in a much better position to figure out what you need to work on.

And there’s more to it than simply writing it down in your food journal.  What’s even better is to record not only what and how much you’re eating – it’s also good to note why.  Were you hungry?  Or was your eating was triggered by fatigue, boredom, anger or stress?  This honest self-appraisal will help you see where you’re eating appropriately – and where a little behavior modification is called for.

There are all sorts of ways to keep track – anything from low tech paper diaries to high tech apps for your phone – but no matter how you keep tabs on yourself, there are a few things that will help ensure your success:

·     Be honest

Just keeping track of your ‘good’ days isn’t going to help you.  You need to come face-to-face with your behavior – the good, the bad and the ugly – before you can make positive changes.  Write it all down, and give yourself a pat on the back when you’re good.  But don’t beat yourself up when you’re not.  Tomorrow is another day.

·     Log your eating as you go, or even beforehand

Some people like to write down what they plan to eat and how much exercise they plan to do each day, and use their food journal like a checklist.  If you can’t do that, at least keep track as you go.  For one thing, if you pull out your journal each time you eat – or get the urge to eat – that little delay might make you think twice before you indulge.  And, if you wait until the end of the day,you’re unlikely to remember everything you ate – and by then it’s too late to change it.

·     Hone your skills when it comes to calorie counting and estimating portion size

  Your food journal is a great tool, as long as the information you’re logging is accurate.  So practice, practice, practice!  Weighing and measuring your foods at home will help you better estimate what you’re eating in restaurants, too.

·     Don’t forget the details

The cream in your coffee, the butter on your toast, the dressing on your salad and the mayo on your sandwich – all those calories add up.  Analyze your food carefully, to make sure you don’t forget any of those ‘extras’.

·     Where do I start?

If you need any help setting up your food journal ask your Patient Care Manager or contact me directly Sara@SecretSurgery.co.uk

 

Top Tips To Keep Your Weight Loss Surgery Tool In Check!

women exercising

 

Don’t drink calories.

Your calorie intake will be very limited after surgery, which should help you lose weight. Don’t work against your surgery by taking in liquid calories that provide no nutrition and slow your weight loss. Make every calorie count by focusing on protein, fruits and vegetables.
Avoid sugar.

Sugar is the ultimate empty calorie. Sugar will make your blood sugar climb, cause hunger pangs, provide no nutrients and, for patients of certain types of gastric bypass, cause dumping syndrome. Avoid sugar and any foods that list sugar in the first three ingredients, whenever possible.
Avoid carbonated drinks.

The bubbly nature of carbonated drinks, such as soda, can cause gas pain and increase the pressure in your stomach, which can be harmful to staples and sutures, especially in the months immediately after your surgery.

Don’t drink fluids immediately before, during or after your meal.

It is essential that you reserve the small amount of space you have in your stomach for high-quality, nutrient-rich food. Drinking before and during your meal will fill your stomach with fluid, instead of food, and drinking immediately after your surgery can “wash” food out of your stomach, making you feel hungry sooner. Separate food and fluid by at least a half an hour, whenever you can.

Keep your follow-up visits.

After surgery, your progress will be closely monitored. Skipping appointments may mean that a nutritional deficiency, surgical complication or other issues may not be discovered in a timely manner. Also, appointments are a good motivator for staying on track with your goals.   Once you return home to UK check in with your Patient Care Manager for any help or advice.
Don’t stop taking any medications without your surgeon’s approval.

Many diseases can improve with surgery and weight loss, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medication. Talk to your physician prior to stopping any medications.
Don’t snack.

Snacking is a habit that can slow your progress and hurt your long-term success. Stick to high-quality meals and avoid junk foods. If you are hungry, have a meal, but don’t snack between meals.
Protein, Protein, Protein!

Protein should be your primary focus when sitting down for a meal. Not only will it help you maintain your muscle mass while losing fat, but it will also help you feel full longer after your meals.
Skip alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol is full of empty calories that provide no nutritional value. It can also contribute to stomach ulcers, which you are already at risk for because of your surgery. Weight loss surgery also makes you more sensitive to alcohol than you were before, so a little goes a long way.
Chew and then chew some more.

Chewing your food thoroughly is essential to preventing nausea and vomiting during and after your meal. Large chunks of food can have trouble passing through the digestive tract after surgery, and if it gets stuck along the way, it can cause pain.
Find a support group.

There are more than 140,000 people having weight-loss surgery each year, so people who have walked in your shoes are not hard to find. Not only do support groups offer emotional support, but they can also provide advice on the wide range of changes you are facing as you lose weight. Support groups are available in most areas that have a bariatric surgeon and are plentiful on the Internet.  At Secret Surgery Ltd we run our very own online 24 hour support group along with monthly group meetings throughout the UK.

Listen to your body.

Don’t eat if you aren’t hungry. Just because the clock says it is time for a meal, doesn’t mean you should eat one. Learn to listen to your smaller stomach and only eat when your body wants you to.
Avoid simple carbs.

Simple carbohydrates are highly processed foods such as white bread, pasta, sugar and white rice. The rule of thumb is this if it is white, it may be a simple carb. You are better off with more wholesome alternatives such as brown rice that contain fiber and nutrients that white rice does not. Simple carbohydrates can also elevate blood glucose levels, triggering hunger pangs and cravings.
Exercise.

From the moment you are able to after surgery, exercise. Even if you can’t walk far or for very long, get started. Your results will be better, and you will be encouraged by how quickly your stamina improves as the pounds shed. Walking also helps prevent serious complications, such as pulmonary embolus and blood clots, if you start immediately after surgery.
Eat mindfully.

No more eating while watching television. Focus on what you are doing when you eat, and stop the moment you feel full. Giving food your full attention will help you learn to say when and develop new healthier habits.
Stay hydrated.

Drink lots of water. This will help you feel more energetic, and it will prevent you from mistaking hunger for thirst. Many adults confuse the two sensations, so if you are well-hydrated, you won’t ever wonder if you are truly hungry.

 

 

Surgery won’t fix your life. Remember that surgery is a way to lose weight, but it is not a miracle fix for every problem in your life. Being thin won’t make your children clean their room without being asked, it won’t fix a bad marriage and it certainly won’t make your nosy relatives behave themselves. Be realistic in your expectations of life after surgery.

 

Say goodbye to caffeine.

Caffeine is the most-used drug in the world, and it is a drug. Caffeine alters your mood, increases your heart rate and is a diuretic. If you drink caffeine, you will be working against your efforts to stay well-hydrated and increase your risk of a stomach ulcer.
Find healthful coping skills.

If you need bariatric surgery, the chances are high that you used food as a coping mechanism for stress. It is time to find a new way to cope, whether it is exercise, reading a book, talking to a friend on the phone or whatever works for you other than eating.

Kiddie meals and doggy bags.

Restaurant portions are going to be massive in comparison to your needs after surgery. Plan on taking food home or ordering a child’s portion. If you aren’t sure you can resist joining the clean plate club, divide an acceptable portion away from the meal and have the server remove the rest before temptation sets in.

Stop using straws.

If you are going to drink, don’t use a straw. Straws not only allow you to drink too quickly, so you may end up with an uncomfortably full stomach, but they also allow air into the stomach that can cause serious discomfort.

Help My Weight Loss Surgery Tool Has Stopped Working!

sabotage your diet

It doesn’t matter whether you have 10lbs, 20lbs, or 90lbs to lose, the truth is your current weight is perceived by your body as it’s ideal ‘STATE’ it knows no numbers! You’ll lose weight at the rate that your body allows not your mind nor your ego expects/perceives.

Weight loss is about biology and you can not and will not outsmart your body. If you think you can, then wait until the ‘snap back effect’ or the ‘rebound weight gain’ occurs.

The harder you push, the harder the body will push back!

That’s why most people don’t maintain their weight loss and opt to have weight loss surgery to assist in the reduction and maintenance of weight loss – remember though the weight loss surgery is a tool that works with the body and not on it or against it!

If you’re feeling out of control with your eating, feeling like you’ve failed at weight loss surgery and/or have stopped losing or started gaining since your bariatric procedure, then immediate action is necessary.

Establish a regular pattern of eating

If you’ve started gaining or stopped losing weight after weight loss surgery, chances are you’ve fallen into chaotic, random eating.

That’s eating whatever you want, whenever you want. Sure, you may only be able to eat small portions since having your lap band, gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or duodenal switch, or gastric wrap, but eating small portions, too frequently, adds up to too many calories!

That’s why you should establish a planned pattern of eating. This will provide you little “stepping stones” to get through the day.

Ideally, eat within 1 hour of waking and plan to eat little meals every 3-4 hours thereafter.

A sample schedule might look like this:

7am Breakfast
10am Snack
1pm Lunch
4pm Snack
7pm Dinner

Get back to the basics

If it’s been months or even years since your bariatric procedure, you may have forgotten about the basics:

  • Protein first
  • Avoid drinking and eating at the same time
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
  • Exercise

It’s easy to get away from doing any one of these, but if you forget them all…

…hello extra weight!

Keep a food log

The best weight loss tool is not a treadmill! It’s a pen.

According to research, if you write down everything you eat each day, you’ll lose twice as much as if you didn’t.

It just makes sense, because food journaling makes you accountable for every lick, nibble and sip you take, and it’s likely mindless eating has played a part in slowed weight loss or weight re-gain after weight loss surgery.

Get back on track. You can do it!

I’ll even help you if necessary.  Contact me directly at Sara@SecretSurgery.co.uk or speak with your Patient Care Manager.