This week marks two years since I started The Body Coach Plan and blogged about my journey to getting leaner, fitter, healthier. My biggest achievement was going skiing and keeping up, not getting out of breath and just generally feeling better - read more about this here.
But where I am now?
It's not always easy. It has to be a lifestyle change but it also has to be sensible, balanced and flexible. I do eat the cake! But as long as I am being mindful of my eating habits then I can relax sometimes and join in with social occasions and rituals, like birthday cake.
I have managed to maintain a healthy weight and size 8-10 clothes and although I am not my smallest I have found a good balance that works for me.
I struggle more with keeping up with the work outs than I do with eating well. I've always been honest on my blog and admitted I don't really like exercise - well I don't like the time it takes which is silly really as once I get started it is only 45 minutes, I enjoy it at the time then it is done and I feel really pleased. But then add in shower and changing etc and I get frustrated as my to list is getting longer and I want to do other stuff (like work on my blog)!
When I was doing The Body Coach I was happy to get up early and get the workouts done but after suffering with a bout of insomnia and menopause problems last year I got out of the habit and have struggled to get back into it. So this is a work in progress to find a better plan - and I do have my 'home gym' all set up in the log cabin so it is pretty poor really.
Mind Body Principles with Floresco Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching
On Sunday I went up to Milton Keynes to attend this seminar that my friend Bev Thorogood was running. The focus was very much on the connection the mind has with our body and fat loss goals. And that fat loss does not have to be complicated, we don't need endless diets or plans that we start and finish, then revert back to old habits and start again .... and so the cycle goes on. We just need the 5 Principles of Fat Loss which Bev took us through - I wrote a bit about my views on this simple approach in a post a few weeks ago - take a look here.
I was a bit frustrated to be 'inside' on the last of day of the sunny weather - the seminar was held at Xscape (the indoor ski run) and I didn't see the sky all day. Incidentally why do people put their ski gear on and wrap up warm and ski inside when the sun is shining outside? Didn't make much sense to me!
As I knew I would be inside all day I wore jeans and a navy and white breton top from Baujken (Zoe Top £69 look out for discount codes though), I have one of these in pink too and I love it's loose fit and lightweight fabric. And of course my current favourite scarf from Sweet Bea.
Anyway, I digress! I really enjoyed the seminar and found it to be a good reminder of the basic principles as well as picking up some new tips and ideas especially how we self-sabotage our efforts with limiting beliefs. Find out more about Bev and the coaching she offers on her website at www.forescofitness.co.uk.
I will be working on my mindset with Bev's support to find a way forward to enable me to fit in a more structured exercise plan. I will update you every month in my regular Being Fifty & Fab post #beingfiftyandfab.
Back in November 2017 I attended a half day workshop with Fearless in the Kitchen - Healthy Eating Main Meals and Snacks and had an amazing day, I learnt new skills, new recipes and picked up some fantastic tips. I wrote about my day here. I then attended another workshop - Wellness in the Menopause - also an amazing, enjoyable and really useful day!! The next one is Friday 20th April if you are interested.
So I was delighted to be invited back recently to do the Healthy Baking half day workshop and what another fabulous day. Okay so the weather let us down but otherwise it was great! Relaxing, a day away from reality, spent with lovely people, learning new skills. What more could I ask for?
Fearless in the Kitchen is run by Jen Roach, an inspirational and passionate cook and gardener. Every workshop is tailored to suit your own health issues and tastes. And Jen is just a really lovely person, a joy to spend time with.
The theme for this day was Easter because it was two days before the Easter weekend!! Which of course meant I had some really delicious and impressive treats to take home for my family. The overall aim though was to demonstrate that it is possible to bake and reduce sugar/calories by including healthier alternatives.
Also attending the day was Jackie who I met through my blog, she found me on Instagram and we have chatted and we met before on the Menopause day.
The recipes Jen had created for us to make that day were:
Hot Cross Buns
Strawberry Custard Tart
Ginger Roots and Nuts Cup Cakes
Poached Fruit and Yoghurt Cake.
Jen has a lovely large, bright kitchen. Her rural cottage is located near Warfield in Berkshire and the four acre garden is beautiful. Jen has an impressive, thriving orchard, organic herb and kitchen garden and if the weather had been better we would have been able to explore a bit more but it was torrential rain! Although it did clear up just before we left and I managed to snap a few photos to share with you.
The day includes morning coffee or tea and a snack as well as lunch - Jen had made us some scones with home made chia seed jam and for lunch we had a salad bowl which I loved and wish I made more effort to do at home. The workshops are relaxed and fun, it is very hands-on and Jen is keen to answer your questions and share ideas for a healthier approach to your diet and family meals.
And here are the results of our hard work! The scones were made with coconut milk, the the hot cross buns had reduced sugar and lots of natural sugar from the fresh fruit, the cupcakes contained parsnips, carrots, beetroot and apple, we decorated them with a traditional icing made with oatly creme fraiche, the poached fruit and yoghurt cake was wheat and gluten free and the custard tart was made with pastry using pea flour (higher in protein) and cocoa powder. The boot of my car was full and my family and visitors over the weekend enjoyed tasting everything. Favourites were the scones and hot cross buns, closely followed by the cup cakes. We had the two desserts with our visiting family on Good Friday and especially enjoyed the Strawberry and Custard Tart.
As we were getting ready to leave the weather did brighten up and I managed to have a quick look in the garden and take a few photos to share with you.
Jen has a number of workshops available to book direct from her website, the day usually runs from 10 am to 2 pm but Jen is very flexible and is able to tailor any of her courses to your own requirements. Maybe get-together with a group of friends? Or you might have a particular diet or concern that you would like help with. Just get in touch with Jen and she will be able to discuss your requirements. The next healthy baking day is on 30th May.
And how about a Field to Fork Cookery Day? Throughout the summer Jen will be offering the opportunity to come along and explore her kitchen garden, pick your vegetables and cook a seasonal recipe then eat lunch on the terrace and take the rest home for dinner! Sounds wonderful! For more details contact Jen direct at email@example.com. What a great way to get-together with friends.
Take a look at Jen's website Fearless in the Kitchen and on this link you can find some recipe ideas to try at home yourself.
I absolutely recommend finding an opportunity to attend one of these workshops though, you won't regret it, now I just need to find some time to try out more of these recipes at home.
Thank you for reading and if you do go along then let me know how you get on!
Jen Roach at Fearless in the Kitchen
Disclaimer: Jen did not charge me to attend this day but I was under no obligation to write a review, the opinions are entirely my own.
I've not done a specific post on this question yet - although I have written in detail about my own journey to being leaner. Last week a friend texted me and asked for help on how to get started and how to get back in the gym. I will be meeting her for a cuppa and a good chat soon but I thought why not write down my recommendations to share with her but also my lovely followers too. That is why I started my blog - it is like chatting to friends and sharing ideas and knowledge - you don't have to listen but you might pick up a little gem of information that makes all the difference. A perfect pair of jeans or the start of a new leaner you!
This is a very simple introduction on where to start but is by no means comprehensive, I am not an expert, these are just some of the tips I have picked up along the way. It is common sense, simple advice ... if you want to change your lifestyle forever and learn how to do it in more detail then at the bottom of this post there are some really good suggestions for who to contact.
Firstly, forget the term 'weight loss' - what you really want is to look leaner, feel better in clothes, a bikini maybe, be stronger, fitter and healthier. The number on the scales is largely irrelevant - more later.
Forget all the 'diets' you've done in the past. We have moved on from traditional diet clubs and meal replacements. How I did it, what I still do and what I have learnt is far simpler and backed my science. Just ditch the word 'diet' or 'plan' ... it is a lifestyle choice.
Remember three key things - Nutrition, Mindset and Movement. Work on each one together. All three elements come together to give you the results you want. Never underestimate mindset! It is where it all starts - get the right mindset and you are off.
Calories are king. Yep macros are useful but we simply want to create a small (emphasis on small) calorie deficit, Worry about macros later when you get more experienced. Download My Fitness Pal and start logging everything you eat. Don't change your own diet yet, just log it, and adjust portion size. Don't let MFP calculate your calories for you though - more on how to do that later. Be accountable - if you eat cake and go over your calories one day then eat a bit less the next day.
Just a little note about clean eating here. Eating whole, nutritious foods is important and a good thing, definitely better than junk. But if you want to lose fat you still need to log what you eat and keep in a calorie deficit. For those that have lost fat due to 'just clean eating' it is simply because by changing your diet you naturally reduced calories. It is possible but not advisable - you can still eat too much whether it be 'clean' or 'junk'.
Don't weigh yourself. You need a starting point to calculate your calories but really stay off the scales - certainly do not weigh daily or even weekly - monthly if you must. Weight is not a good measure of success. Take photos every month (in a bikini or underwear) and measure - I prefer to measure in inches but it is entirely up to you. It is perfectly possible to look smaller and leaner but weigh more. Don't freak out.
Drink more water! Yep I am rubbish at this. There is a calculation for how much you need and it is not as much as you think - I feel some recommendations are way over the top. For me at 59 kg it is about 2 litres per day. But just checking your urine is a good enough indicator - google a chart to find out more!
Move more - walk. Forget 10k steps per day, that was just a marketing tool back in the sixties for the very first pedometer. Just get out in the fresh air and do some short walks - 6k steps per day is a good starting point, then increase it if you can - but you can take a weekly average so don't stress. Just 3 x 10 minute walks a day have been proven to be effective, you don't even need to track steps.
Forget hours of cardio - it is no better at 'fat burning' that any other exercise. I favour short HIIT's - approx 20 minutes. If you like running then run but there is no advantage to running over walking, it just takes a bit longer. I prefer to lift weights - as we get older having more muscle is really important and helps us burn fat - there is a load of sciency stuff about this but basically be strong! It is really good for hormones and menopause too.
If you can't exercise due to ill-health or injury then don't panic, walk if you can, it is just as effective. And remember calories are king!
Slow but steady wins the race - quick fat loss is more likely to go back on, You want to create a healthy long-term lifestyle you can sustain. So eat your favourite foods, don't cut out any food groups, carbs will not make you fat, sugar isn't the enemy - just eat within your calories! And make 80% of your diet nutritious whole foods, the other 20% can come from more convenient choices if that is what works for you.
And back to MINDSET - this is absolutely the biggest tool you will need for any of this. If you are prone to binge eating or emotional eating etc then here is where you start. I have made some suggestions below of who to follow on social media for the best mindset support. I have never been a binge eater - I feel naughty if I have three chocolate squares instead of two so I am no expert but I have seen some amazing success stories once you tackle your mindset.
The BEST educators to follow on Social Media ... I've linked to Instagram but they all have Facebook groups too.
My FAVOURITE support group ...
Fifty, Fit and Fabulous
And if you really want to learn and educate yourself for a long-term sustainable lifestyle change then look up these coaching or education options:
Dan Wheeler - 1:1 Coaching from Life Changing Fitness (or about to launch small group coaching) or join The 80/20 Lifestyle Plan and over 16 weeks learn everything there is to know about fat loss and getting healthier - unique in that they offer MINDSET education and him and his business partner have been obese so they really do understand.
Bev Thorogood at Floresco Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching (also runs Fifty, Fit and Fabulous on Facebook) - Bev has a seminar coming up in Milton Keynes on 22nd April and for £19.99 she will teach you the basics about Mind/Body Principles. I met Bev when we both did The Body Coach Plan and she has gone on to start her own coaching business based on the principles I talk about in this post.
James Smith - love him or hate him he does tell it like it is and he runs an online Coaching Academy that is full of videos on nutrition and weight training - fantastic one stop shop for sensible information. There is a monthly fee for this but you can join just for a month or longer or I think there is a free trial.
To learn how to calculate your calories for MFP then take a look at this article, or if you join James Smith he has an online calculator or Bev or Dan will do it for you as part of their coaching programmes.
You may notice that I have not included Joe Wicks, The Body Coach on these lists, I love Joe, he got me started and I have a huge respect for how he is bringing fitness and healthy eating to the attention of millions. I loved his plan and in fact I have his new, revitalised plan and am using many of his recipes at the moment. However, I feel that he doesn't offer the long term education that I think is needed - but it is a starting point and it worked for me. He has publicly said he doesn't believe in calories - and I feel very strongly that the other educators have pounced on this and misinterpreted his intention. Joe doesn't believe in 'counting calories' forever - his approach is to encourage you to find a balance and portion size that works for you, he thinks life is too short to never eat the dessert or log every morsel on MFP. I agree with him - once you get there you will slowly learn how to maintain and you do not need to log everything forever or be 'on a plan' forever.
For me a big key has been learning to love who I am now and embracing confidence. Accepting my body shape and that I am 50+ now not 20+ and my body has had two children and will never be the same shape but I am much happier at a size 8-10 not a 12 which for me felt huge. I am also well aware that I have never been obese or even really overweight. But I did feel uncomfortable and it is all relative. I have still learnt a lot and I hope that what I have learnt I can share with you and inspire you too.
Let me know if what I have said here proves to be helpful for you.
Feeling strong when I was skiing recently was a huge goal achievement for me, read more about it here. The weight lifting and all the squats and lunges paid off, I may moan at the time but it was worth it!
I started my journey to lean in April 2016 - we were skiing in St Anton, Austria and I felt fat and unfit. My skiing was suffering and I had lost my confidence. I signed up to The Body Coach while I was there and started when I got home.
I lost a stone and 17" but my ultimate goal was being able to ski confidently again, I also wanted to wear my favourite ski trousers and not the replacements I had to buy.
We didn't ski last year so this holiday was the test.
I felt so strong, I didn't ache, my legs coped with a day of skiing and I didn't need to keep stopping to 'rest', my arms and cardio fitness kept up with any poling that was needed on the flat part of the pistes. I was so proud of what I had achieved. In all the months of learning about nutrition and working on my mindset, I didn't really put it all to the test until I got on that bubble lift on the first morning to start my lesson. Basically - I did it! I hit my goal.
And I did manage to fit into the favourite ski trousers BUT I didn't wear them! Once I took into account tucking in all the layers to keep warm they would have been too uncomfortable and they are probably ten years old now - I was 40 then not 50 and the technical fabrics have moved on so I brought a new pair - same style, same colour, a bit bigger, elasticated waist, with space to feel comfortable. They looked good!
These two victories really gave me a new confidence - a confidence to know that what I am doing is working. That regular weight training in menopause is a good and positive thing to do. That we can be fifty and fit, fifty and fabulous - fifty and fab!
Onward to the next goal. In July we are going to Sri Lanka, it is not a beach holiday in the same way as we have had in recent years but I will want to feel comfortable in my bikini. Last year I was suffering with some health / menopause related problems and was feeling a bit bloated/with inflammation so I need to work on that.
At the moment I am using body coach recipes and some workouts from the new relaunched plan but maintaining the 80/20 Lifestyle Plan principles.
I do feel that a holiday should be a holiday - that you should go away and eat what you want without feeling like you are on a diet or plan. I did just that in France last week - I naturally choose wisely anyway, I am not a big eater, but I relaxed and of course I was doing a lot of exercise. This week I will be meal planning again and getting back to my usual routine.
And a final little tip - when you go on holiday you often coming back 'feeling enormous' and saying 'I have put on so much weight' yes you might weigh more but you will not have gained fat (especially if you eat well most of the time), you will be bloated, inflamed, dehydrated and out of routine, just get back into routine, eat well again, move and work on your mindset and you'll be fine! I never weigh myself after a holiday now, I just get back to my usual routine.
Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties, I share fashion, beauty, lifestyle and exercise/nutrition tips to inspire others to be fifty and fab too … join my mailing list below for regular updates and offers. And don’t forget to take a look at my social media pages Facebook Instagram and Twitter.