It was a sad day today, I was training this morning in the gym and I dropped a 16kg dumbbell on my note book, crushing the ring binding and my special Ladies That Lift Pen
On a more positive note, I actually had a really good, even great, session!
You see, I have been struggling a bit with my training mojo lately.
There are a few reasons for this.
The past 2 months have been pretty intensive with lots of travel in the name of personal and business development and a cheeky one week holiday too. This means that since I’ve come back I’ve been really focusing on my business and I love it!
I love it so much that I feel so excited in the morning to get going and start the days tasks that I don’t want to be held back by going to the gym, showering and eating.
That’s actually the second part of my mojo problem.
You may know I work in women’s weight loss and there are two sides to this coin.
Side 1: There are the women who are overweight because they just don’t have the right calorie balance. They eat too much, they don’t exercise and the reasons why are NOT because they don’t know that chicken and vegetables are better than pizza and that doing some exercise is probably better than sitting on the sofa.
It’s because there is other stuff going on; emotions, stress, family commitments, unhappiness at work. Often these women don’t have the right tools to manage their lives and the self belief that they are even worth it!
So that’s one side of the coin. I love helping people like this. Helping them find their self worth and happiness in their lives. And of course if this is something you want help with, you can apply to work with me here. But this is actually not the best blog for these type of people today. But if you are one you can still read this because you might still find it interesting – and hopefully scare you off doing any stupid restrictive diets!
Side 2: The other side of the coin is the women who are overweight because they under-eat. Or maybe even not even particularly overweight, maybe just feeling like there is “room for improvement”.
Since getting back into a proper routine and being busy and excited about new projects I have learnt something new about myself…
I’m an under-eater!
For over a year I tracked my calorie and macro intake and this has been something that was game changing for me in terms of achieving my best body composition.
In July I let the tracking and counting thing go because I just felt that it was time. I know what good food looks like, I know roughly what a balanced meal is. I don’t need to lose weight and yes, the tracking was helpful but I feel that I have moved past that now and life is too short to be weighing your food long term.
This served me pretty well during the months of July and August when life was all over the show and I was in foreign countries and the attempt to weigh and measure food would have just been impossible anyway.
But now, since coming back to normal life, a busy work schedule and hitting the weights in the gym. It actually doesn’t serve me as well.
One of the biggest changes I noticed when I started tracking my food – eating right and eating more – was a massive jump in strength, recovery and better sleep! Before I would train one day, then feel too tired and achy to train the next. This has started happening again.
This is because my default mechanism is to be lazy with carbs. Unless you are eating bananas (and there are only so many bananas one can eat!), when you are in a rush, it’s a bit time consuming to be boiling potatoes and rice. So I just leave them out. This means that my diet which used to be anywhere between 150g and 250g of carbs a day, is not not even making 100g.
Now my weight has stayed exactly the same! My body composition has stayed the same too. The under-eating has not served me in any way!
A few times I’ve put my food into My Fitness Pal, just to “check”, and I’ve probably been sitting around 1600-1700 calories.
This is too low for me.
So eating less calories and eating less carbohydrate has not done ANYTHING for me. In fact, I generally sleep well but I’ve had a few nights of poor sleep, waking up hungry and feeling particularly susceptible to the effects of coffee, especially if I drink it on an empty stomach.
The best shape I have been in this year was when I was eating up to 250g of carbs on some days and able to train hard because I was properly fuelled.
- Calorie restriction (albeit unintentional)
- Low carb diet (due to laziness)
- Stimulants (because who doesn’t love coffee?)
- Work Stress (I love my job but it is stressful running your own business and doing 12 hour days)
All of the above are just different forms of stress.
I do encourage all my clients to have stress management strategies. I’ve been practising yoga and meditating 4-5 times a week. But sometimes that hour a day just isn’t enough to combat all of the above.
So last night I said to Ben (my fiancé) – I just feel like “dirty chocolate”.
Dirty chocolate is what most people call “normal chocolate”. The stuff that isn’t 70%+
Ben is a bit of a sugar junkie but I mostly manage to keep him under control. So he jumped at the chance to enjoy this little indulgence and between the two of us we polished off 200g of Lindt milk chocolate each.
And hence – my workout today was awesome! All the lifts felt easy and I was able to note in my (now crushed) log book to increase the weights across the board next week.
Now I am not saying that we should all be gorging our faces on Lindt Chocolate and in fact if you are quite heavily overweight maybe you do have to, in the short term, sacrifice some performance to facilitate fat loss. However, there are a few take aways here.
- Less is not always more: If you are already not that overweight, maybe you are stuck because you need to increase your calories, not drop them further. Calorie restriction is a stress on the body and too much stress will slow your metabolism down and can actually cause weight gain and poor insulin sensitivity.
- Look at what life is telling you: Struggling with energy? Poor recovery? Plateau in performance? Poor sleep? Poorly balanced hormones? Grumpy and moody? These are all signs that something is off.
- Learn what is in your food: Some women eat a “clean” diet but might be drastically under-eating and not even aware of it. I have seen so many women feel so much better in a very short space of time by eating more.
I certainly won’t be scoffing a box of Lindt every night but I will do what I tell my clients – plan better. Pre-boil rice and potatoes to throw cold into salads and if necessary top up on extra simple carbs post workout.