It’s the middle of October and the mince pies are out! Yes, every year it seems like they appear earlier and earlier. I haven’t eaten any…yet 🙂
I believe that we should feel comfortable and happy any time of the year, and body positivity is very important! But I also know that being healthy is important too – that’s what really helps with our confidence, not the size of the jeans. And, yes, as women, we do want to look good. However, often, looking good equals being slim and attempting to achieve this “goodness” brings so much unneeded stress.
So here are things that tend to backfire when getting ready for the Christmas party season and how to fix them. Let’s assume we have six weeks to go.
You know the drill, Foxes. You’ve got your eye on a dress and a killer pair of heels, cocktails and dancing is imminent. You panic thinking about how you’re going to fit into the dress, decide to starve yourself in the vain hope that you’ll lose weight and look better but, well you can guess the results: you lose couple of kilos, look soft, feel awful and just want to stuff your face full of doughnuts. Crash diets never work.
The emergency fix? Eat more veg! Replace any bread, any pasta, any rice that you have on the side of your fish or meat with any cooked leafy greens, courgettes, cauliflower, mix in lentils or quinoa. You’ll probably feel strange for the first few days whilst your body adjusts and adapts to burning fat as its main fuel source. Keep your activities levels high to help it. Remember to drink – veg has fibre, liquids help to process it. After a week not only you will feel lighter, less hungry between the meals but also your cravings for sweets and snacks will diminish. Watch out for reaching out for the food purely out of habit. Stop yourself for a second and think – does your body “need” that “healthy” granola bar because you are still hungry or because it’s elevenses?
We all probably want toned thighs, slim arms and a flat belly but focusing just on these areas for our workouts, so called body sculpting, toning or any other name marketers call it by is a huge time-waster. Why? Isolated exercises are rarely done heavy enough to trigger any sort of effect, and, if done for a lot of reps, end up making the muscle bigger – not necessarily a bad thing but usually not the desired effect.
The emergency fix? Stick with big, compound exercises working the whole body – squat, deadlift and overhead press. Go heavy with good form for intensity rather than lots of reps. Your muscles respond by getting tighter – in a good way, they get that pleasing hard and firm feel, and you’ll feel energised rather than wiped out after a training session.
Too much cardio.
In general, too much cardio is a bad thing anyway as for many people the gains do not equal the wear and tear. When we’re talking about getting ready for a little black dress, it’s even worse. Exercise is all about making your body adapt, and cardio adapts your body by minimising body mass – lean muscle. You might think this is a good thing but you’d end up with a soft, weak body. Not the desired outcome!
The emergency fix? If you do “cardio”, do high intensity cardio. Hill sprints, kettlebell swings, heavy carries will burn fat whilst maintaining lean muscle. You’ll also be done in ten minutes which is a huge bonus, if you find an hour on a treadmill or elliptical boring.
Too much of the same thing.
Usually, when you train with me we focus on strength, building lean muscle, and some form of anaerobic conditioning to keep your cardiovascular system tuned. What we don’t do is random things session from session, as we need technique and strength in place, this focus delivers results and delivers them steadily. However, we train with weights. When it comes to bodyweight exercises and cardio – we do need to mix things up regularly as over time your body gets efficient at whatever it does, which means it burns fewer calories. You’ve just gotten good at jogging, that dance class, can do those burpees and pushups – that’s it, time to mix things up!
The emergency fix? Recognising that being bad at something actually means you are working and your body is adapting. Don’t be embarrassed to be bad again and again. Use it to get results.
Stressing over your “LBD Body”
Putting effort into something and not seeing results straight away can be very, very frustrating. Really this refers to everything, not just fitness. You begin to wonder if there’s any point, doubt yourself, etc. Drop things you’ve started, then kicking yourself for not having the patience/willpower to go on. All this results in extra stress. And how your body reacts to this? Yep, by demanding comfort food and storing more fat.
The emergency fix? This is the time to remember that squeezing into a slinky dress is just for Christmas. You want a healthy body that serves you well making you happy all year round. Switch on your body positivity onto full volume and remember what is it that you want? Quick unsustainable fix or a happier, stronger, more confident version of yourself that looks great and feels amazing all year round?