Not Getting the Results You Want!?

davFrom spending hours in the gym every day, I am able to observe many people training either by themselves or with a personal trainer.  There are definitely some proficient trainers, but there are also many that appear clueless and outdated in their training approaches.  Almost just making it up as they go along!?

It’s called exercise science for a reason!  There are scientific principles that should be applied to develop a strength-training programme for an individual.  Important considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Goals,
  • Training history,
  • Genetics,
  • Diet,
  • Lifestyle,
  • Athletic capabilities, and
  • Training preferences.

Exercise technique is important to maximise results and minimise the potential for injury.  However, this seems to be mostly ignored by those in the gyms.  Time and again I see the most odd “exercise” movements being invented and I struggle to fathom how and why this is happening!?  It’s certainly very creative, but much of it is practically useless when trying to achieve strength and physique goals.

And this is what I see from trainers and people considered to be in good condition!  You may assume that someone who is in good shape must know what they are doing…  This is sadly not true!  Some people are simply genetically blessed and were in good shape even before they walked into a gym.  These are the same people who tend to get great results even whilst training “badly”.  And never forget that some use performance-enhancing supplements and/or drugs to get the results that they do.

The Bottom Line is that copying someone who is already in shape is generally a bad idea, because you cannot be sure of how they got there.  If you are not genetically blessed you will need to have an individually-structured and optimised training programme relevant to your goals and abilities.  A training programme that is based on the scientific principles of strength training.  And unfortunately if you don’t approach your training in this way – nothing is going to change!  You’ll simply be “spinning your wheels” and ultimately be getting nowhere, and then it really is only a matter of time until you give up.

It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, the MOST IMPORTANT factor of any training programme is personal preference.  In other words, the optimal programme for you is the one that will actually want to do and be able to stick to in the long run.  If this sounds interesting  let’s get together and have a chat, and together we can develop an individualised training and nutrition programme that works for you.

For more information or to book an introductory session, please complete the form below or contact me directly via email: alexcampbelltransformation@gmail.com or by phone: (061)436-7499.

 

Tips & Suggestions from a Novice Flexible Dieter

HB - FaceBook Post-page0001As I move towards my weight-loss and fitness goals there have been some tricky times, trying to figure out what #FlexibleDieting is all about, how to master using the My Fitness Pal app for calorie- and macro-tracking and just how to keep myself on track…  There are days when 1,600 calories seems like an effortless accomplishment and others when it just isn’t as enthralling to be living in a calorie deficit.  So as I have progressed I have been putting together a list of tips and suggestions that can possibly help other novice Flexible Dieters and make things just a little easier as you become familiar with the approach and things that have made my process far more manageable.

These are not expert tips or advice, simply a few learnings I have developed for myself…

Tips & suggestions from a novice Flexible Dieting…using My Fitness Pal

  • Track and eat, rather than eat and track!
  • Give some thought to your meals for the week, so that you can plan and shop…don’t leave things to chance so that you end up without ingredients to cook or prepare meals.
  • Plan and track your meals for the following day each evening so that you can take lunch to work, and you know what is on the menu for dinner when you get home (and that you have what you need).
    • Keep your essentials in stock such as marinated chicken breasts, lean mince, fruit and veg, protein/whey powder, eggs, popcorn, bread & pita bread (in the freezer), etc.
    • Don’t put temptation in your path…try and keep uncooked, high-calorie foods out your kitchen. If you are planning to include a little chocolate or some other treat in your day plan for it and only buy what you are going to eat.
    • If you are going to have a high-calorie dinner (such as an Andiccio’s pizza) plan for it, as you will probably need to restrict your calories during the day (depending on your calorie target).
  • There are NO SUCH THING as good or bad foods, only nutrient-dense or calorie-dense foods.
    • Nutrient-dense foods will keep you full for longer, so save calorie-dense food for later in the day!
    • Carbs are not bad! Sugar is not evil!  Dairy is not fattening! But always in moderation and within your calorie- and macro-targets.
    • Include some of your favourite foods (in moderation if calorie-dense) everyday…There is NO NEED to deprive yourself which is NOT sustainable over the long-term
    • Focus on mostly nutrient-dense foods and leave a little space for calorie-dense foods on certain days as a treat (e.g a kit kat J)
  • Be flexible with yourself and avoid becoming too rigid within your tracking [calories first, protein next, then be flexible within carbs and fats to make up the balance] and you’ll feel satisfied and healthy at the end of the day!
  • Track accurately:
    • Use a digital kitchen scale for weighing food
    • Use green-tick foods on MFP
    • Use DCSN or USDA entries where possible on MFP
    • Use grams/ounces rather than cups for measurements
    • SCAN foods using MFP app for increased accuracy
    • Most big restaurant franchises (e.g. Spur, Andiccios, Nandos, Starbucks, etc.) have nutrient information on their websites which can be entered into MFP.
    • Save your favourite meals or dishes on MFP for ease of use (e.g. homemade lean mince hamburgers, creamed feta spinach, chicken & salad pita, etc.)
  • Eat your first meal later in the morning [if not training first], and then spread food out during the day. Try and keep some calories for a banana before bed [it helps with hunger and sleep!]
  • Allow calories for a snack, protein shake, or pre-workout drink if you are planning to train after work and before dinner so that you have energy for your workout.
  • Eat protein in the morning [e.g. boiled eggs] rather than carbs as it’ll keep you satiated for longer.
  • Plan and prepare for diet breaks (with your coach) which are incredibly helpful in keeping motivation high, stress low, results on track and enjoyment going…
  • Eat and prepare 90% of your meals at home, and plan for meals that are away from home (or have a non-tracking day which you can discuss with your coach).
  • Develop a growth mindset around nutrition and fitness:
    • A slip is not failure but an opportunity to learn and move forward!
    • Dieting does not need to be black and white.
    • There are NOT good or bad foods, only nutrient- or calorie-dense and nothing is “forbidden”- moderation is the secret!
    • Learn from those that are successful – ask experts, speak to your coach, follow professionals & join groups on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

The more I use these little practices, the more habitual they become and the less thought and effort goes towards making decisions, and staying motivated and focused on my eating-plan and weight-loss goals.  The benefits of not restricting myself, allowing myself some wiggle wrong and being gentler on myself as I go through the process have been so different and more sustainable than ALL THE OTHER diets I have ever been on!  And as I mentioned in my first post, Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes, there have been a lot of those.

And of course the more weight-loss and muscle-gain I achieve the more my self-confidence improves and the more committed I become to my desired outcomes.  Though to be honest, the ideas I had have changed somewhat over the last few months.  I have learned to accept what I can and can’t achieve, given my body type, age, genetics, etc. but having a coach has been the one thing that stands out as being the biggest difference this time around.  Although, being able to eat the occasional pizza, Kit Kat and post-workout chocolate muffin cannot be ignored!

Written by Leigh-Anne Brierley

Flexible What!?

When Alex introduced me to the idea of flexible dieting late last year I was completely bemused.  How could I possibly continue to eat what I loved, still lose weight & fat, and gain muscle…  I thought he was trying to BS me into another fad, detox, cleanse, miracle diet that could not possibly be science- or evidence-based.  But since I had nothing to lose (except 28 kilos) I agreed to work with him and all I can say is WOW!

Since early January 2017 I have been following a flexible dieting plan and the results have been amazing.  After struggling to lose about 5kgs in the last three months of 2016 under the advice of a dietician, I was despondent and ready to give up as I mentioned in a previous post, “Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes”.  Alex has coached and guided me as I’ve learned to track calories and nutrients, developed meals and menus comprised of food that I enjoy, and has really helped me work through my black-and-white, good-food-bad-food mind-set.  It’s been challenging at times, but having an accountability partnership has been a huge part of the ongoing success.

I’ve begun to understand that nutrition and dieting doesn’t need to be a restrictive, punitive attack on myself, but it can be a lesson in self-love and body-awareness.  For me it’s also been a developing a healthy set of practices and habits around food and how I buy, plan, cook and eat it.  I have started to see how important my mental and emotional relationship and attitude to food is, and how I need to develop and maintain a healthy attitude in this regard.

Being very rigid in my approach to dieting over the years has not worked well for me…deprivation, resentment and unhappiness during my dieting phases means that I have inevitably failed to lose the weight and been left feeling like a failure, with no willpower and even less self-esteem.  To then spend months or even years back in the denial of “If people really loved me my weight wouldn’t matter!”  The crux of the matter was that I was battling to love myself, beating myself up for my inability to stick to diets that had seen thousands and thousands of people (apparently) get thin and stay thin!

Flexible dieting has allowed me to experience the other side of the dieting coin…  The one where although there are certain limitations and restrictions (mainly around my chosen calorie tracking), I have been eating fulfilling, enjoyable meals, rather than spending the last few months picking through mounds of endless salads and chicken stir-fry.  Rather than dreading what I won’t be able to eat at the next meal, I have started to reconnect with my body and the food I choose to put into it, rather than seeing food as good or bad.  If I eat nutrient-dense food I get to eat more during the day and feel fuller for longer.  But if I choose to eat a Kit Kat as a snack or a Pizza as a meal, then I simply have to account for that and be a little stricter with my intake for the remainder of the day.  And like any eating or diet plan there are days when I feel hungrier than others, even a little frustrated or disillusioned, but then I have my coach, and my charts to have a look at which have gone a long way to making me feel focused and motivated.

Weight - 29 AprilOver the past 110 days, I have lost 11 kilograms, gained muscle and strength, and lost 62 centimetres in my waist, hips and thighs.  My clothes are at replacement stage and I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin.  Not because I have fully achieved my weight-loss and fitness goals, but because I have taken back control in this ever-daunting area of my life.

Average Weight - 29 April

And as you can see from the data we have captured and tracked, it hasn’t always been a smooth, linear achievement.  There have been some plateaus and even a week here and there where there was a bit of a weight gain.  But I have learned to be friends with my scale (most of the time) and understand that weight fluctuates with my moods, my stress, my cycle, water retention and a host of other things, and that just because the scale is slightly up for a week here or there is not the end of the world.

Measurements - 29 AprilAnd that if I remind myself from a growth mind-set point of view, that a small setback is not a failure, but rather an opportunity to reflect and learn, then the habits and the attitudes I am developing become even stronger and more embodied.

The restrictions I am willingly following at the moment around my daily 1,600 calories are interspersed with 2,000 calorie maintenance days to give my body and mind a little respite.

I am steadfast in the (newly acquired) knowledge and understanding that this is going to be a way of eating that will be easy to sustain and maintain once I have reached my envisioned weight range.  Then, depending on where I am physically, emotionally and mentally around nutrition and fitness, I will re-evaluate how I look and feel, and adapt from there.  Maybe I’ll want to be a little stronger or a little leaner, but with what I am learning through this process, I know that it doesn’t all have to be decided today and my goals and aspirations can also be a less rigid, and like my diet plan, a whole lot more flexible.

Written by: Leigh-Anne Brierley

Flexible Dieting | It’s Not Just Black or White!?

So it’s been three months of really focusing on my nutrition and fitness, and I am definitely seeing and feeling the results as I mentioned in my previous post.  And then suddenly at the end of month two it all became a little overwhelming.  I didn’t actually notice what was happening, but Alex did!  He’d been commenting on my stress levels and the work pressure I was under, along with the training intensity and the calorie deficit.  And I resisted!!

He’d prepared me from the beginning that there would be diet and training breaks at times, to allow my body and mind to rest and recover.  I pushed back, not understanding that it is important to give my system a chance to “take a deep breath” and just refuel a little.  And because he explained it to me and supported me through the process, I was able to come to terms with the idea that I would be eating more calories for a few  weeks and spending a little less time in the gym.  It was difficult for me to grasp as I saw it as “falling off the diet wagon”, rather than taking a hiatus before starting the process again.  For someone who has always followed rather rigid, regimented diet plans, I have had to be very gentle with myself over these past 21 days when I got on the scale every morning.  It felt like I was cheating on my diet, even though Flexible Dieting does allow a little room for certain foods that some might consider dieting and nutrition no-no’s!  Dieting and food has always been so black-and-white for me!  No wiggle room to enjoy the process and actually learn a little along the way!

But the diet break has taught me that even though I was not eating as few calories as I have over the previous months, it was still extremely important that I was intentional and aware of what I was eating.  I have continued to plan, log and track my meals (which has become an effortless daily habit on My Fitness Pal).  I have got up every morning and weighed myself, and the scale has actually been kind to me over the last three weeks.  A 100 grams here and there, but nothing as drastic or terrifying as I had imagined over the first two weeks, and even some weight loss over the third week of the break.  The numbers did not shoot up with the extra calories, and the break has done exactly what Alex said it would…  Lowered my stress levels and allowed me to better cope with my personal and professional challenges, given my body a bit of recovery time and shown me that the increases in nutrient-rich food was not going to take me back to square one, as long as I was consistent within the break period.

So on Monday I went be going back to my 1,500 calories a day and I am once again feeling focused and motivated to reduce my weight and body fat.  I’m more than likely going to miss the extra calorie allowances, but I’ve been informed that there will be another break within three to six weeks, which is something to look forward to while I continue working towards my goals, develop healthy eating and training habits.  And this makes the journey I am on feel far more sustainable then previous programmes where I was simply given a goal weight and told to keep going until I got there…I rarely did!

mindsetThe flexible approach is giving me space to anchor my new behaviours, habits, thoughts and ideas around nutrition and exercise and to challenge some of the old, destructive ones I have developed over the years.  I  have a compassionate, self-loving and exciting relationship that is growing and developing around myself, and how I engage with food and exercise.  It’s been revolutionary for me, and I don’t feel trapped within the cycle of the ever-restrictive, always distressing, no-end-in-sight diet plans I have chosen before.  And because of this I am in no tearing hurry to get to some quantitative weight loss figure, but rather enjoying the experience and the process, as I feel myself shifting to a growth mindset in this area of my life, where I have always been so fixed in my ideas, beliefs, thoughts and behaviours.

By Leigh-Anne Brierley

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

change1Since the age of 14 I  have been subjecting myself to a series of diet plans, eating regimes and weight-loss interventions.  These include Weigh-Less, Atkins, Low-Fat, Low-Carb, medically-assisted programmes, Slender Wonder, Herbalife, Dieticians’ programmes and all sorts of combinations thereof.  And yes I’ve lost weight and inevitably gained it back (with a little extra for prosperity) to the tune of probably 100kgs, until the point of desperate hopelessness where I was ready to push through to a size 20 and be done with it…  The prescriptive nature of the programmes and a real lack of understanding about how the process actually works has been a constant stumbling block for me.

My unhealthy relationship with food over the years, periods of binge eating and complete starvation have led to awful guilt and shame around my eating habits, body image and self-esteem.   I felt defeat and self-loathing every time I was unable to stick to the plan, beating myself up emotionally and mentally at my inability to be able to “get it right”.  And inevitably this would lead to me seeking comfort in the fridge or the chip bag!  And then the cycle would repeat itself.  A “slip” would more often than not lead to a full-blown “relapse” and the weight-gain journey would begin once again.

For anyone who has not battled with food issues and weight challenges, this might be difficult to comprehend.  It’s got nothing to do with willpower, eating less and exercising more.  There have been diets when I was eating 650 calories a day and staying committed to the process until it became completely unsustainable due to emotional, physical and mental fatigue, lack of financial resources (eating that little costs a lot of money for supplements and appetite control) and feeling miserable about not being able to eat.  For me it has been about not understanding what I am doing, not being given the right kind of support and feeling like the dieticians, doctors, programme leaders and experts are not really that invested in me achieving the required outcomes.

So after years of failed attempts and a plummeting self-belief that I was ever going to be able to have a half-decent chance, I started working with Alex, of Alex Campbell Transformation.  He introduced me to the concept of flexible dieting and habits-based nutrition.  And even though it is about calorie-counting, using the My Fitness Pal App makes that easier than paging through my most recent diet-plan manual and trying to figure out what I am “allowed” to eat.  Instead of feeling deprived and constricted, I get to eat delicious food within the calorie limits, while ensuring that I get enough of the right nutrients.  There’s even room for the occasional, guilt-free chocolate, pizza or homemade burger and chips.  And I am only eating 1,500 calories a day!

Over the past two months I have lost over 6kgs,  but even better than that is that I have lost more than 50cm around my waist, hips and thigh.  I have been spending time at the gym, but rather than slogging it out on the treadmill for hours, I am doing short strength-training sessions and am noticing enormous changes in my body.  Not only that, I am feeling an incredible sense of wellness and in the way I showing up in my life on a daily basis.  Normally when I am on a “diet” I am grouchy, miserable and feel very deprived; the focus of my day on the things that I can’t eat and dreading another boring, tasteless meal.  So I am feeling grounded and motivated, and the nutrition coaching and support I am receiving is making me extremely accountable and in control of my programme (and progress).  Although when I am unsure I have the support of a coach to keep me on track and dispel my fears around whether I am doing it “right”.

There’s space for conversations about food, mood, stress, sleep and exercise.  I am not simply being TOLD what to do, which has given me the chance to own this programme and allow my ideas, experiences, and challenges to be part of the process.  Alex is always available to offer input and support, as well as introducing me to great education and information sources, as well as blogs and FaceBook pages that are in-line with what the programme approach entails.

After more than two months of eating a fairly low amount of calories, attending the gym regularly and getting back into the kitchen (which I am loving), I feel more motivated than ever to push towards my health and wellness goals, that are not simply physical, but also mental, emotional, spiritual and social. This approach feels sustainable and individualised, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach which has never been sustainable for me in the past.  I feel hope and positivity where just a few months ago there was one of defeat and futility.  And for this I am extremely grateful and thankful to Alex Campbell Transformation for the knowledge, expertise, support and no-BS approach.

I will continue to write about my personal health, wellness and body transformation as the weeks and months unfold.  I know there are no magic potions and quick fixes, but with support and accountability it feels like I am on the right path to exactly where I want to be.

Leigh-Anne Brierley