How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All

August 23, 2016

fitness writer bodybuilding dieting

How good are you at handling your finances? Bear with me. This does have something to do with health and fitness!

I recently had a massive communication breakthrough about bodybuilding. So big, so rewarding, that I whooped when I heard about its success. In fact, I am claiming it as one of my finest moments in linguistic creativity. OK, OK – it was with my Dad. Dad has never really understood the dieting side of bodybuilding (despite seeing me diet through numerous “preps” in years gone by). But apparently, something I said to him recently FINALLY made sense to him.

What did I say? I simply compared dieting for fat loss to budgeting for financial savings.

We were talking about flexible dieting.

“It’s not that a bodybuilder CAN’T eat anything,” I said. “It just that they have a small budget to play with. So imagine that you only had £10 spend that day. You COULD buy some slightly-overpriced thing for £6.99 that you don’t really “need”, but then you wouldn’t have much cash left for the rest of the day. Plus you’d probably get home and think…”oh…is that all I got for my money? It looked better in the shop!” Or you could spend £1, £1, £1, £1 (etc) throughout the day. Then get home and think “wow! I managed to buy tons with my £10!”

Apparently this made sense to Dad.

I explained “going out to eat whilst dieting” like this:

“It’s not that they COULDN’T have the dessert, Dad. But it might make more sense to come out and just eat a main. That way, they still get to socialise, but no harm done to their “budget”. It would be like inviting someone out for a shopping day when they are saving up hard to buy a house. They can still come out! But they might say “I can come, but I really can’t spend more than £5 today because I’m saving up for the house deposit.” It’s not the going out shopping for the day that’s the problem. It’s how much they spend whilst they’re out.”

Losing Weight Or Saving Money: Why You Only Really Have A Few Options (Sorry!)

On a roll, I also used the finance/budget analogy with another member of my family recently. This person is keen to lose a bit of weight, but doesn’t want to do the meal plan/12-week transformation thing. She’s been there and done that, and doesn’t fancy the backlash (I don’t blame her).

This person is very good at managing her finances. Knowing this, I explained that there really are only a few ways to lose a bit of weight. And they are the same as being successful at managing money.

If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. That’s the bottom line. The law of thermodynamics is key. You have to consume less than you expend, or expend more than you consume.

If you want to save money, you have to create a financial excess. You have to spend less than you earn, or earn more than you spend.

Your options are:

1) Track your food/drink as you go along and stop when you’ve reached your spend limit (track your money as you spend it, or track your calories/macros in myfitnesspal or whatever you use)

Pros: this will help you work out where you are “overspending”
Cons: if you want to “save”, you’ll have to stop when you hit your target, which might be partway through the month/day if you are “spending” more than you thought

2) Pre-plan what you’re going to eat/spend and work to it (a financial budget, or a calorie/macro budget). This can be as rigid as a meal plan/precise spending plan, or as flexible as eating to macro targets/spending within various “categories”.

Pros: it will be very precise and you will likely “save” (or “lose” in the case of weight) quickly and accurately
Cons: it might seem boring and restrictive, depending on your mindset and personality

3) Wing it and hope for the best. This only works if you are a person who naturally doesn’t spend much money, or who earns so much you could never get into debt. (The weight loss equivalent is someone who naturally undereats, isn’t interested in food, or is so incredibly active that your calorie burn is through the roof).

Pros: if you’re one of the lucky ones, this will work for you. Until your lifestyle, income, or habits change!
Cons: it doesn’t teach you anything about finance (or nutrition) and you might be left wondering WTF when things eventually change.

Have my amazing analogies (!) helped something “click” in your brain? Funnily enough, the above conversation actually helped ME wrap my head around budgeting! I realised that if I can track my nutrition, I can track my spending. I’ve already made plenty of savings and changed some of my spending behaviour!

Do you reckon your success at nutrition/money could be transferrable skills?

How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Stealth Cardio Tactics (No Treadmill Required)

June 23, 2016

Cardio doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It’s been a long time since I was involved in endurance sport, but I still enjoy cardio*. However, I don’t often fancy the idea of plodding on a cross trainer for half an hour.

(*I realise that i might be kicked out of the bodybuilding “fam” for admitting this.)

So I employ Stealth Cardio tactics.

If you enjoy working up a sweat, but don’t want to do “traditional” gym indoor cardio, here are my 4 current favourites.

nicola joyce on a bike
Cardio disguised as commuting
I’ve been riding my bike to the gym (and back, obvi) a couple of times a week. Only when it’s sunny, mind. It’s not far – maybe 4 miles each way – but it involves a steep hill whichever way I go. (The gym is in the “East Cliff” part of town which should tell you something). So there’s 30+ minutes of cardio right there.

Only it doesn’t feel like cardio because 1) I like riding my bike, 2) it’s serving a purpose to get me to the gym and back again and 3) there’s plenty to see.

PS That photo is not recent. But it makes me laugh because it’s me, riding my bike, apparently to swimming club (note the 80s towelling swimming bag).

dog in a kayak
Cardio that’s funny
If you only need to do cardio for general activity levels, then the best kind is the funny kind IMO. Frankie thefitdog would agree. Here we are, attempting to paddle about together in a sea kayak. Quite possibly I found that funnier than he did. But you get my point. Challenge your kids to some sprints around the local playing field. Go and play badminton (or whatever sport you used to love) with a mate. Cardio can be fun, honest.

tabata on concept2
Cardio that’s so tough you can’t think about it til later
When I do cardio at the gym, my new favourite is the rowing machine. I’ve had some great advice from my fellow writer friend Patricia Carswell of Girl On The River, who’s a Proper Rower. I don’t know why I love the Concept2 so much, but I do! I think it’s because it’s proper hard cardio which makes me sweat buckets and feel like I might die a bit. (Don’t forget, I come from a very “ultra distance” endurance sport background).

I’ve mainly being doing “a href=”https://www.tabataofficial.com”>tabata on the rowing machine. If you’re not sure what tabata is, it’s a structured form of intense interval training. One “tabata” is 8 rounds of 20 seconds HARD work/10 seconds recovery (4 minutes). I do 2 Tabatas – 16 rounds, for a total of 8 minutes.

I’ve also done a couple of 5000m rows, and a 2000m row just to see how long it would take me. Point being, if you choose a form of cardio that’s so challenging that you can’t zone out or get distracted, you might actually feel more inclined to do it. Maybe. If you’re weird like me!

Cardio that’s so short you don’t notice it til later
Finally, this is something I’ve been doing once a week: adding 1-minute bursts of cardio in to my weights workout (as giant sets). At first I wasn’t sure if this would actually feel effective. Erm… I can report that it definitely does.

The idea of course is to make the 1-minute bursts hard, so your heart rate stays high and you break a sweat. You could do this by hopping on a piece of cardio equipment, or by using a skipping rope, or doing any kind of bodyweight move like burpees. If your gym has conditioning kit (battle ropes, sled, prowler) or strongman events equipment (farmers walk handles, tyres to flip) then that would work, too. You can easily add 20 minutes of cardio to your day by doing it this way. 20 x 1-minute feels more manageable – and more fun – than 20 minutes of zombie mode on the cross trainer.

Do you do any cardio at all? What’s your favourite approach?

Stealth Cardio Tactics (No Treadmill Required) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Step-by-step guide to getting featured in local magazines

January 10, 2016

How would you feel about being the health or fitness expert in your town’s local lifestyle magazine? Pretty good, right? Imagine it: a page (or a double page spread) every month with your words, your logo, your business name.

How can that local health and fitness column be yours?

Novemberweb

I’m going to show you. You might think “why me?” Well, why not you. You’re good at what you do, aren’t you? And you genuinely want to help people in your local area with health, fitness, nutrition?
Plenty of fitpros want to be in their local magazine. But hardly any of them will actually take action.

Here’s how to get your content published in local lifestyle magazines.

1) Get The Magazines

Firstly, you need to actually get hold of physical copies of local magazines. Go for a wander round your town, look in dentists’ reception areas, hairdressers, health food shops, railway station waiting rooms. Maybe your town has a local magazine or two put through the door – great, you already get those. Keep hold of them. Ask local friends and family which lifestyle magazines they receive or read, then find a copy.

2) Read The Magazines

Crucial step! What content is already in them? What type of person reads them? Will it be a worthwhile use of your time?  If they already have a health/fitness contributor, they probably won’t want another (but if you’re very niche and think it’s still a fit, go for it, just be very clear on why you should be featured). Familiarise yourself with the topics, style, angles and type of content they feature. Get to know the magazine, audience and advertisers.

3) Check Out Their Online and Social Content

Now you’ve narrowed it down to 2 or 3 local magazines. Go and find their Facebook page, Twitter feed and any other socials. Look at their website. Aim to familiarise yourself as much as possible with the magazine’s content and ethos. Now, when you make contact,  you look like you’ve done your homework and you can speak their language.

4) Find The Correct Contact

This is the easy bit. The editorial staff will be listed in the magazine and/or on the website. If there’s a health/fitness editor, contact them. It’s unlikely, though. The team is probably pretty small, so contact the editor.

5) Get Your Ideas Together

What can you offer this magazine? You need to show that you will be a never-ending source of good content. You’ve read the magazine, you’ve looked at their online content. It shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with 3 or 4 ideas for a column. Think about your local demographic. What will they want to know? Think time of year, local events, awareness days, hot topics, things which these people will be wondering or talking about. Present your ideas as solutions to things readers want to know.

6) Write An Intro Email

There are a number of ways to actually get in touch. But I think the best way is to send an introductory email to your editorial contact. Just as with your own email marketing, think about email subject line. Then simply introduce yourself and say what you want to do. Be clear, concise and polite. If you need some pointers on this, I can help so please get in touch Here’s a rough outline:

  • you notice they don’t currently have a health/fitness contributor
  • you’re a local expert with XYZ credentials
  • local people are currently talking about XYZ
  • you would love to contribute monthly content to the magazine
  • here are a couple of examples
  • you can quickly provide compelling, engaging and accurate content on an ongoing  basis
  • and you can provide high res images

7) Send It, Then Follow Up

Follow up with a very short email after a couple of days. Then a phone call if necessary. Keep a note of responses. Start a spreadsheet of magazine, editor, contact details, when you got in touch and what the outcome was.

8) Be On The Ball

Editors need contributors who are reliable. Make sure you give them exactly what they ask for in the brief (no more and no less). Meet their deadline. Provide logos, images and whatever else they ask for. It goes without saying that you’ll need to make sure your copy is accurate, so check for typos and errors.

9) Didn’t Work? Try Another Magazine

If your follow ups lead to a “no”, move on to the second magazine on your list. Simples.

10) Still Didn’t Work. Have A Plan B

If you’ve exhausted all the relevant online and print magazines in your local area, there’s one more thing you need to do. Do not let that content go to waste. You came up with several ideas for articles. So use them: on your own blog, Facebook page, in emails, as video…. just use them.

11) It Did Work: What Now?

Now you’re the magazine’s go-to fitness expert, how can you make the most of this valuable relationship? Who’d like a blog post about what to do once you’re an established contributor?  Let me know.

Here’s another blog post from TFW which might help: How Fitpros Can Connect With Editors/Bloggers/Media

I hope this works for you, or at least gives you some ideas (or a kick up the bum!) Let me know how it goes. You can get me here in the comments section or at Facebook
or Twitter.

Step By Step Guide To Getting Featured In Local Magazines is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Week 5 catch up – congratulate yourself

November 26, 2015

Another late “weekly catch up” from me! I like to keep things fresh. Thursday is the new Sunday (or something).

Truth be told, I don’t feel I have a great deal to report which is perhaps why I’m dragging my feet. We’ve talked about setting a goal for the 8-week challenge/thing, discussed keystone habits, fessed up to our red flags, and I’ve banged on and on about journalling.

As we head into the second half of our 8 weeks, what would be useful to discuss?

How about celebrating even the smallest successes? I’ll admit that my “measurable” progress with my goals have been up and down, certainly not linear, and I’ve felt a bit like I’m going two steps forward and one step back.

But I’m essentially an optimist and like to see the positives, or at least the opportunities for doing better.

So here’s what I’m giving myself small pats on the back for this week:

– not just keeping up with my dog walking activity since it’s turned so cold and dark, but actually increasing it. I’ve switched my daily schedule around a bit (when I can) so I can make the most of light mornings, and I’ve been heading out for 1 hour+ and tackling at least one decent hill in that morning walk.
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– identifying “red flag” feelings (this week it’s mainly been feelings of frustration about a work project) and doing something proactive rather than reacting by getting all wound up. When I can, I’ve gone for that daylight dog walk when a conference call got rescheduled (etc). Work frustration and feeling “stuck to my chair all day” is a key “red flag” feeling for me, so this week I’ve been trying to flip my reaction to it.
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– going training even when I didn’t feel like it
. For some reason, just this week I have really started to struggle with training after work. It hasn’t just felt a bit hard, it’s felt awful! I can barely keep my eyes open, the drive to the gym is horrible, I feel in a foul mood, and I don’t feel strong at all. So I’ve made it my mission to get motivated: play music in the car or at home before I go, dance about a bit (before I go, not at the gym), arrange training with a buddy, design myself a session I know I’ll love (or that scares me bit!)

– having a full day off when I really thought I needed it. On the flip-side, there was one day this week when training just wasn’t happening. I started getting ready to lift weights, and realised I really, really didn’t want to go. Not only did I not want to go, but I didn’t “need” to (in that my other sessions over the week covered everything). So… I didn’t go. It’s hard to do, actually! But I knew it was the right decision. Instead I ploughed through a load of work, did some housework and got other sh*t done. Later that day, I was due to go boxing (which I love). But the thought just made me want to curl up and go to sleep. So after a bit of soul-searching, I decided to give myself a break. I had an evening at home, and thoroughly enjoyed it. And you know what, the next day I set a new PB in the gym!

What can you congratulate yourself for this week? Even if it’s not something you would normally think of as “good”?

In other news: two new PBs this week! A deadlift PB of 142.5kgs (I’d been stuck at 140kgs for ages and knew I had a bit more in me) and a debatable 62.5kgs for bench. I think my training partner might have helped a teeny bit. It certainly wouldn’t have passed in a powerlifting comp. But I put 62.5kgs on the bar and I pressed it! I’ll get it properly-properly soon, and I’ll certainly congratulate myself for it! It wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t even bench 60kgs!

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
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Week 5 catch up – congratulate yourself is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Lift Heavy Things Up & Down, Once

November 20, 2015

I’m going to do a Powerlifting comp.

Before I go any further, here’s a quick “strength sports 101” for people whose brains go blank when they see a barbell*

(*hi Dad)

Bodybuilding: the one where you use weights in the gym to make your muscles big, but then at the competition you don’t lift any weights up and down. You pose on stage in sparkly pants/bikini. The judges neither know nor care what weights you can lift.

Powerlifting: the one where you lift weights up and down in the competition. You only do three different lifts. Bench press (lying on your back on a bench and pressing the bar up and down), squat (standing up with the bar on your back, and squatting up and down), deadlifting (leaning down to grab hold of the bar, then standing up with it). The judges don’t care what you look like in a sparkly bikini, but they are very strict about how you lift your weights up and down.

Olympic lifting: the one you might see on TV sometimes during major sporting events, where people in singlets do athletic stuff with a barbell like lifting it over their heads. The lifts have funny names, “snatch” is one.

Strongman: the one you probably watch on TV over Christmas. You’ve probably only seen massive great big giant men doing it. The events are very memorable, even if you’re not sure why they’re doing them; things like pulling a truck, deadlifting a car, or lifting a series of very big heavy stones.

OK, so the one I normally do is bodybuilding. I’ve done strong(wo)man a couple of times. Now I’d like to have a go at powerlifting. If I ever give Olympic lifting a go, you have permission to make me eat any one of my numerous hats.
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Which federation?

There are lots of powerlifting federations/associations (just as with bodybuilding) but I’m choosing to compete with the BDFPA (British Drug-Free Powerlifting Association), partly because lots of my friends lift with this association so I’m guaranteed to have friends at my comp, and partly because – as a natural bodybuilder – I’m serious about competing in tested sport wherever the option exists.

Full Power? Whassat?

At most powerlifting competitions, you can either do “full power” which means you have a go at all three lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) or you can opt to do just one lift.

Equipped or unequipped?

You can also lift “equipped” (which involves bits of kit which help you be able to lift more weight, such as bench shirts, knee wraps) or “unequipped” which means you can use a belt and that’s about it.

I’m going to do full power (yolo) and unequipped, because I just want to see what I can lift, and I can’t be bothered getting used to lifting in kit – it’s a whole new world of technique.
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What do you wear?
As an unequipped lifter within the BDFPA, I wear a singlet (kindly lent to me by my powerlifting buddy from the gym) with a t-shirt underneath, long socks for deadlifting, a belt, and any suitable shoes. I’ve got myself some Olympic/squat shoes for the…er..squat (obvs) and I must say they make a lot of difference. I really love them. They make me feel much more secure as I squat, I feel I can go deeper (which is important, because if I don’t go deep enough at the comp, my lift won’t count), and my posture feels better. The belt and I are not enjoying such a harmonious relationship at the moment, but it’s early days. I hope that, with time, I will be able to see past the belt’s tough, unrelenting exterior and that it might soften up and be more gentle with me. Until then, I will (wo)man up and deal with the pain!
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I’ve barely started training for the comp, but I’ll post more about training another time. I do bench, squat and deadlift regularly, and can lift OK weights for all three. But obviously I’m keen to do as well as I can at the comp. And training for just one maximum rep is very different to using the three lifts as part of hypertrophy-style bodybuilding training.

At the moment I can lift:

– 60kgs for 2 reps (bench)
– 100kgs for 1 rep (squat)
– 140kg for 1 rep (deadlift)

And yes those are all executed properly according to powerlifting rules – I train in a powerlifting gym and my training partner is a powerlifter.

I’d like to get the bench up a bit, the squat up quite a lot, and the deadlift up a fraction if possible.

Here’s what I need to do before the comp:
– get used to the belt
– make sure my technique is “comp legal” for all three lifts (hitting correct depth, locking out, pausing at the chest etc)
– poss smash belt with meat tenderiser?
– try to get my lifts/numbers up as much as possible (particularly bench which is my weakest one of the three)
– poss run belt over with truck
– decide on my openers (the weight I’ll nominate as my first attempt on each lift)
– decide how much I’ll probably go up by after that (you do each lift three times, so you nominate your opener, and then have two more goes on each lift, obviously going up in weight each time, but by how much is up to you)

Have you done a powerlifting meet? How was your first comp? I’d love to hear any advice, funny stories, dos or don’ts.

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
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Lift Heavy Things Up & Down Once is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Week 3 & 4 catch up (red flags)

November 17, 2015

I really am winning at life with this whole “return to blogging thing”!

You know how it is, the longer you leave something the more difficult it is to get back to it.

So – I’ve just decided to write something tonight even though I’m not sure what I’ve got to say.

We need a catch-up for weeks 3 and 4 of the 8-week challenge/thing.

How have you been getting on?

I can report that I’ve been making slow but steady progress, getting my sh!t in order, knuckling down to a more regular training routine and structured eating plan.

It hasn’t been perfect (what is?) but I’ve been tracking and journalling everything, so I can look back and identify what’s still causing me to stumble, how I can improve, and what I can do better in the remaining 4 weeks of our “challenge”.

In the previous round up post, we talked about keystone habits.
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Today, let’s talk about what I call “red flags”. These are things which you know full well can derail you, and which you can sometimes see or feel as “incoming”, but which can also trip you up when you least expect them.

I’m getting much better at seeing my own “red flags” coming at me, and better too at identifying and understanding them.

The clever bit, of course, is in dealing with them! Not sure I’m quite there yet, but here’s what I try to do… when I remember…

Here are some of my red flags (in the context of sorting out productivity, eating habits, and healthy lifestyle changes – my general aims for this 8 week challenge)

Being tired
– What I do about this: go to bed! If this isn’t practical, then I just try to be gentle on myself. Take a rest day from training if I’m feeling really rubbish. Or go for a walk instead of a hard training session.

Creating too big a calorie deficit (either from food in, or energy out)
– This is an obvious one, but it’s something I still find difficult. Maybe it’s from doing so many years of bodybuilding contest prep in a row, or maybe it’s just that I’m not very good at maths. But I can quite easily go “too low” in calories either from not eating enough, or from expending too much energy. And then after 5 days, almost like clockwork, my body sends me very clear signals!

Being pissed off at having to walk the dog in crappy weather
– This sounds really silly, but I’m just being honest! If it’s dark, cold, raining and/or blowing a gale, I can feel “hard done” by and get in a really foul mood about life in general LOL! What I do about it: just try to calm down. Walk the dog, but then come home and take my time getting warm and dry, and chilling the f*ck out…

Feeling “left out” (possibly what some people call FOMO – fear of missing out?)
– An odd one to try and describe. Because I live alone, I can sometimes feel as if every one else (yes, every single other person on the entire planet) it out doing amazingly fun things, and I’m just at home, and nobody knows where I am or cares… wah wah wah… (you can probably see how this can quite easily turn in to a negative mindset, especially if combined with “being tired” and “having to walk the dog when it’s really windy”!) What I do about this? Get a grip. Call a friend. Or just chill out at home and do something I enjoy. Mainly get a grip 😉

Having hunger or cravings triggered by something I see or hear
– I’m sure this one is something leftover from contest prep. I can quite easily have cravings triggered by the oddest things: a lyric in a song, a fleeting glimpse of someone’s food on social media, even an advertising billboard. What I do about it: I don’t watch TV, and if I did I wouldn’t be one of those people who watches Bake Off when trying to eat healthily. If I know I’m in a particularly vulnerable mood, I will switch radio stations when adverts come on (no, I don’t want Burger King’s new breakfast menu!) I don’t follow many foodie-type accounts on Instagram, particularly not the IIFYM type ones.

Procrastinating over a piece of work
– I love my work, and most of the time I can’t wait to get my teeth into each day’s project. But sometimes, let’s be real, I’m just not feeling it. It could be the work itself, but more likely it’s me. I’m tired, I don’t want to be sitting at my desk for such a long time, I want to be a stuntwoman or a jockey instead. What I do: unless I’m up against an immediate deadline, I switch my focus and do something else instead. The only rule is, it has to be something else productive, which will free up time later so I can do the work I’m avoiding. So I might do business admin, or update my website, or answer email enquiries.

Feeling lethargic or generally “blah” for any reason
– We all get those days when everything just feels flat. Life is boring. Work is boring. Walking the dog in the rain is boring. What I do about it: usually go and train 😀 If that’s not practical, I do something to just get my energy up. I live and work by myself, so putting cheesy 90s dance music on and dancing around the kitchen is an entirely doable thing for me. The dog is used to it, and there’s a big tree outside my window so nobody can see in.

Right, told you today’s reboot blog post might be a bit random.

What are your “red flags” which can lead to bad choices or poor habits which you’re trying to avoid?

Coming soon:
– I’m doing a powerlifting meet! (Blog post featuring photo of new shoes)
– Why I love boxing so much
– 7 signs you might be thinking about doing another bodybuilding comp

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Week 3 & 4 catch up (red flags) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Week 2 of 8 (and a word about Keystone Habits)

November 3, 2015

How is it Tuesday night already? This is my check-in post for the end of week 2 of our 8-week challenge/thing. Never mind that the end of week 2 was…er…Sunday.

Still. Moving on!

In last week’s round-up post I explained that I’d spent the first week tracking things and sort of observing myself from afar, gathering the data about the things I wanted to work on over these 8 weeks, so I can see where I need to make some changes.

This week just gone I’ve been focusing on making those changes.

As explained in the initial post (here), I’m using these 8 weeks to work on a business plan (not suitable – yet – for talking about here) and for working on my somewhat haphazard eating routine.

Week 2 was good. About 75% good, I’d say. Which is presumably some kind of improvement (74%? Not a clue. I do phrases, not percentages.)

What went well:
– I planned almost all of my meals
– I tracked everything (I use myfitnesspal)
– I definitely ended up eating less than I have been!
– I remembered how much I actually enjoy eating pretty simple meals and snacks, and I didn’t miss the “extra bits and bobs” I cut out.

What still needs work:
– Weirdly, I’ve actually been under-eating a few days a week, and this isn’t helping me achieve the consistent balance I want. Perhaps I’m still in that contest-prep mindset? I don’t know. But on a few days last week I ended up towards the lower end of the calories I need to fuel my everyday activity and training. This isn’t the plan at all – the whole point of this 8 week thing for me is to work out a good consistent plan which gives me what I need, every day. No ups and downs.

Measurable progress:
– I weighed in at the start of the 8 weeks, and have weighed in once since. I’ve dropped a small amount of weight.
– I’ve gone down one notch on my gym belt.
– I’m sleeping a lot better.

Right, I’m shattered from tonight’s boxing session. Before I sign off, let’s talk about something useful: keystone habits.
powerofhabit-loop
Keystone habits are those habits which are fundamental to your day going well. If you don’t do them, it feels like your day can easily spiral out of control and get away from you. But if you do them, everything else falls into place.

Keystone habits are linked to other good habits (for example, training in the morning means you choose healthier food for lunch….) They set in motion a kind of chain reaction that help other, less fundamental, habits take root.

I’m big on habits and I’m always reminded how integral my own keystone habits are to the success (or not!) of my day, particularly when I’m trying to work on changes to diet, activity levels, productivity at work, or sleep.

Here are my keystone habits

– Writing in my paper journal every morning before I get out of bed
– Planning my meals (however loosely) for the next day
– Writing a to-do list for the next day
– Moving my a$$ every day (usually training, of course, but if not training then a really decent long/hilly walk with the dog)
– Eating at the table (as opposed to standing up, or on the sofa)
– Leaving my phone downstairs when I go to bed

If I do all of those, I can be pretty sure that the rest of my day will go well. I’ve just noticed that they top-and-tail my day, actually!

If I don’t journal in the morning, the day starts running away from me without me “checking in” with myself and I feel a bit…disconnected.

If I don’t work up a sweat doing something physical every day, I feel lethargic and crappy and can end up moping about making rubbish food choices in the evening. (I never said this stuff makes logical sense!)

You can read more about keystone habits in Charles Duhigg‘s book The Power Of Habit (I listened to it on Audible.co.uk)

What are your keystone habits?

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Week 2 of 8 (and a word about Keystone Habits) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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