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Support!

This week has been one of the the harder ones in regards to being sober.

In Australia Melbourne cup is one of the biggest events in the calendar. We get to finish work early, we get super dressed up and head off to whatever venue has been booked for us. Its a really good day. The free drinks flow, the food is usually delicious and everyone gets hammered. I am usually the one who is most up for it. This year was different. I wasn’t drinking. I was determined to still enjoy myself and not dread the event.

I called the venue ahead of arriving to ask what non alcohol drinks they have, they had Carlton zero, I was happy as! It make a difference if people think you are drinking then you don’t have to explain yourself.

We arrive at 12.30pm, the race is at 3pm, I left at 3.30pm LOL! I have 3 Carlton zero’s, had a nice time but I started to feel the turn in the way people were acting and knew it was my cue to leave. The main reason of telling this story is the my manager didn’t drink and stayed with me the whole time. She wanted to support me, it meant a lot as I would never ask anyone too or expect anyone too. It helped.

I am finding that a lot of people are very supportive, more so than I expected. My best friend is great and really understanding as to why I am doing it. My work colleagues get it. My 8 year old daughter who obviously doesn’t understand the main reason behind it but I think is benefiting from me not drinking the most.

The biggest shout out needs to go to my husband. He is one of my 10 followers and reads every post. If you read my first introduction to the blog you will know that one of my fears was it affecting our relationship in a negative way. We think that our relationship is built on our love to socialise (as well as other things of course) which in turn means our love for alcohol and getting boozy. Nearly 7 weeks to not drinking and I am thinking how wrong that is that we think that. Ok so we are not out dancing the night away until 3am, we are not having drunken conversations that will mean nothing the next day or laughing hysterically at things that are not actually not funny but how often do we even do that anymore? I think the last time was a year ago when we had a night out in the city.

Instead and I hope he will agree we are probably in the happiest place we have ever been. I don’t know why. When I try to pin it down one of the things that come to mind is because I or even we are less irritable, my mood is better so I am more tolerant, I feel calmer, I feel good! He does too, he is drinking a lot less and making an effort to eat healthier. If I didn’t have his support or if he moaned about it then this process would have been so much harder. I am so grateful for him.

Its made me realise how important support is and surrounding yourself with those who do support you is a must.

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FOMO

I don’t get it anymore. It probably stopped about a year ago for me. I used to get it bad. I never missed anything and said yes to everything. Every work event, every social event, literally everything.

When I first got to Sydney form the UK being invited out and attending was the only was to meet people and build relationships. You are not sure who you actually want to be friends with so you have to try them all out, right? So I would go out at least twice a week. They were all drinking events, some free and some not free, didn’t matter, all would end with me being drunk. There is a big bubbles culture here with groups of girlfriends. There’s constantly a bottle being bought by who’s ever round it is and your glass is always full. You cant monitor how much you drink therefore before you know it you’ve drank 2 bottle of prosecco and you are hammered!

After 2-3 years of this is Sydney I started to tire of it. Sick of the horrendous hangovers, bored of the bear fear and I would always get my self in trouble by talking to someone about something I shouldn’t to some I shouldn’t have said it too so would have constant anxiety.

I made some great friends along the way but if I look back I am confident I didn’t make them friends because they liked me wasted, surely it was because they actually liked me!

So yeah, I just got over it. I also know that after 9pm when everyone is sloshed no-one remembers anything anyway so i’m not missing out there.

These days I’m much happier staying in with the fam, movie nice food and bed at 10pm (if not earlier), or a nice meal with a friend, long walks or something active. S many people will say I am boring, that’s there problem, I couldn’t be happier doing those things.

So I think the new term is JOMO, joy of missing out. I love that.

I did it!

It’s been a while since I wrote about booze and my no drinking journey.

If you have been following my journey you will know that after 3 months I was considering drinking again. It was always my aim to not drink for 3 months but then i felt so great and I was loving the benefits so much that just carried on. I also didn’t quite feel like I was ready to drink again, I felt a lot of guilt for even thinking about it and was a little ashamed by it.

I recently moved house and on the day I said to my husband I really fancy a drink to celebrate our new house. I felt no guilt or shame and I felt ready. Still nervous about over consuming I called my friend to see if she would share a bottle of bubbles with me. Of course, being the good friend she is she was happy to help!

We shared the bottle, I really enjoyed it. I felt that light happy drunk feeling, a little giggly. I’m glad I didn’t have anymore as I was have been hammered and the regrets would have kicked in. I didn’t have any hangover the next day and I slept ok. I convinced myself the next day though that my skin had gone grey 😆

So that’s it, I’m drinking again! I haven’t drank since then but I’ve wanted to! Mainly because work is full on and I’m home schooling and if you are doing both you will know what I mean! I will try not to drink than a bottle of wine a week. I don’t want bad habits to creep back in.

I’m happy that I got a point of feeling comfortable with the concept of drinking again, the 6 months was what I personally needed to change my habits. At the moment i feel have changed them habits but only time will tell. I could be back on the wagon before we know it.

What I do know is that I don’t need to drink and I want to drink when I want to drink rather than need it. I know how good it feels not to drink alcohol too and I won’t forget those reasons that kept me going.

One thing I still no is that I never want a hangover again so I’m hoping that stops the over consuming!

Emma xx

Time for change

Firstly, this wasn’t going to be my blog for this week, I have list of blog topics in order and this week it was nutrition myths. I’ll do it next week but this week I have been thinking a lot about the changes we are going through, I’m not a big fan of change. It messes my routine up and throws everything else out of whack. This time I’m not going to let it and I have been thinking how this lifestyle change can be a positive.

Secondly, I am not going to say the C word once in the post, not once.  I think we could all have a break from hearing about it.  However, I will say the F word a few times, so brace yourself as I know it offends people.

I am not claiming I am an expert in life by any measures but what am becoming an expert in through study and practice is lifestyle, I am huge believer in small lifestyle changes making all the different to our physical and mental health so I wanted to share some of my tips.

I am one of the lucky ones, I have a job that has only become busier in the last few weeks and I can work full time from home.  I’m not sure on percentages but lets say 50% of the population are also working from home, plus all of the people in self isolation and people who are unable to work, I hope this will help you too.

I will start with health.

Ok here comes the F word and the brutal truth. If you sit down all day and eat more than you usual do you will get Fat!!  In 2 weeks you will put your jeans on and they will be snug and you’ll be like Oh how did that happen? Let me tell you.  You sat on your arse all day and you ate way more than you usually would when you are at work.    Some of you might be ok with putting on a few Kg’s, like at Christmas you kind of expect it. Its not Christmas and if we should be doing anything its making an effort to be healthy so we don’t become a strain on the health services that are already at capacity.  Being classified overweight unfortunately comes with many unwanted health conditions such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety and can lead to type 2 diabetes, this is to name only a few, I’m not scaremongering just saying!

Any way here are my tips to keep healthy

  • Eat fresh – we have been given the gift of extra time, use this to make your food from scratch. There are tons of IG’s pages and websites offering healthy recipes, learn some new ones.  Do food prep if it help’s keep you on track.
  • Eat your veggies and fruit – do I really need to explain why?
  • Vitamin D – did you know at least 1-5 of us are deficient in vitamin D?  Its very difficult to get the amount we need from food.  If you are in Australia, we are blessed to have the sun out so much, go outside.  Even if you are self-isolating you go out in your garden, just 20 minutes of mid-morning or mid-afternoon sun with no sunscreen with your arms ideally exposed will be sufficient per day.  If you can’t or you don’t have the sun get a vitamin D supplement and take it daily.  The benefits vitamin D offers are supporting the immune system, increase in bone health due to assisting calcium absorption, decrease in depressive symptoms to name only a few.
  • Fish oil or Algae oil (vegan) – if you don’t eat 2 oily fish a week then take this supplement.  Reasons are many, support memory function, improves mood, supports muscle health and energy.
  • If you know your diet is rubbish and are not willing to change it then take a multi vitamin.
  • Get rid of those extra and empty calories – if you have moreish snacks in the house then get rid of them if they are too tempting (me)!  If you drink high calorie fizzy drinks swap them for the diet versions.  You’ll save yourself 100’s of calories without even trying.
  • Keep an eye on your portions.  They get bigger without your realizing, my personal one is peanut butter!
  • Hydration – we tend to drink more at work as we have nice cold filter water.  Try to keep hydrated at home and not just drinking coffee (my vice).  Monitor your hydration but looking at your pee colour, it should be pale yellow.  You don’t have to drink just water, you can have squash, milk, coconut water but be carful of the extra calories.  If you are feeling tired chances are you are dehydrated.
  • Sleep – keep your sleep routine, same time every day, up at the same time every day.  Aim for 7-9 hours per night as this has been proven to aid to control your appetite, improve energy level and help with mood.
  • Social media – this one is for mental health.  Its very easy to be on it all day and it can be so negative.  We actually get very little from it and its distracting our day.  Ditch it or only go on at certain times.
  • Staying connected – I have family and friends in the UK that I don’t speak to enough face to face, I ‘m going to do this more.  Facetime, zoom, WhatsApp’s, facebook messenger we really have no excuses.  It’s so important to not feel alone, we are not, we are all in the same boat.  Reach out to those that are struggling.
  • Be kind – this one is a big one.  Have you noticed that everyone is looking at each other like we have the plague?  Say hello, smile but just do it from afar 😊

Activity

If you don’t continue with the activity level you were doing before you were at home you will put on fat I assure you.  Unless you eat less.  Being active helps with mood, self-esteem, heart health and weight management.

Tips to keep activity up

  • Do the amount of steps you were doing before you were home based.  If they go lower then you need to adjust what you are eating.  This is going to require effort and even planning as to when you can go for a walk or run.  If you are self-isolated use your garden, house, stairs’.  Have you ever done just dance, do it on YouTube it’s so much fun!
  • Take a lunch break and get a workout in.  I usually go to the gym and do resistance training which I am now unable to do.  I am going to use this opportunity to get better at body weight exercises that I never do.  There are 100’s of online workouts, Pilates and yoga.  My manager is doing a virtual Pilates class, how great is that?  There really is no excuse if you are able.
  • Plan in your diary when you will do your exercise and stick to it
  • Do some squats whilst you are making a brew, use the kitchen top for press up, a chair for dips, it all counts and makes a difference.

Alcohol

Its now been 6 months since I touched a drop and can honestly say if there is one thing that benefits your waistline and mental health it cutting back or quitting the booze.  If you do drink more than usual on top of your usual food you will put on weight/fat.  Booze is empty calories.

  • Don’t drink anymore than you usually would, its so easy to fall into the trap of opening the wine earlier because you are at home. Its 12pm somewhere right? 😊  yep I’ve been there. Keep the restrictions in that you had whilst at work, so if that was no drinking on weekdays then keep with it.
  • Put new rules in place such as no drinking before 7pm

Working from home

If you are new to it then I would recommend sticking to your usual routine unless you are very disciplined.  Its very easy to become lazy and its very easy to over work too.  I’m no expert on this but these little tips have helped me.

  • Stick to your usual times and routine as you already have this habit formed.
  • Take a lunch break and other breaks to stretch.  Remember we don’t have the long walk to the toilets like at work so try to get up every hour at least.
  • If you have a job like me where you are on the phone, walk and talk, you’ll be amazing how many steps you get in and you will have better conversations.
  • Create a work stations that you like to go to.  That could be by putting flowers on your desk or just making it organized.

Other positives – I can wear active wear all day, I don’t have to wash my hair as often, I don’t have to wear makeup.

Kids

I have an 8 year old girl who at the moment is still at school but I’m sure the schools will be closing soon.  I am thinking how the hell am I going to work full time, educate my child from home and also make sure she is active.  The conclusion I came to is that it is what it is and we just need to do what we can and get on with it.  Others have 3 kids, I only have 1.  

  • I am going to ensure she does 2 hours per day of something, that could be reading, math’s or one of these other website thingy’s they give them at school.
  • She will come on the walks that I can on, we can run together, she can jump on my back and I can squat her LOL! Joe Wicks (the body coach) is doing a daily keep fit class for kids on line, we will do that together.  I will get my husband in too (just checking he’s reading; I like to test him now and again)
  • I will teach her to cook.  We can have actually have meals together as a family.
  • I will do things with her that I don’t usually get time to do because I am always too busy.  Puzzle’s (erm I better go buy one), Lego and board games.

Overall perspective

As crazy as all of this is, we don’t have to be doom and gloom.  Does anyone feel like some people are actually loving the doom and gloom?  The are loving the drama and complaining about other people.  Oh everyone is buying too much toilet roll, as they are putting 6 packets of toilet roll in their trolley. They frustrate me so much.  Lets just get on with this and do what we can to stay safe and keep others safe.  I mentioned it before but we have been given the gift of time, something I complain all the time about not having enough of.  I am going to make the most of this time with my family, continue to work hard, stay healthy if I can and know that I am doing what I can and playing my part.

In the risk of being cheesy and some of you wont even know the song but always look on the bright side of life.  (is anyone else singing it in their head) 😊 We choose how we feel and we choose how we deal with life.

Final note – wash your hands!

TDEE

Total Daily Energy Expenditure – TDEE

This is basically how many calories you burn in a day.  

This is so important to understand, I feel that once I understood how my energy (calories) was expended I understood how I could minipulate it for my goals.  I didn’t have to ridigidley count my calories that I was eating and could focus on small changes away from counting calories and focus on upping my activity and food choices.

See chart below.

Image result for TDEE

I will break this diagram down.

BMR – BASAL METABOLIC RATE

This is how many calories are burned by your body carrying out basic functions such as breathing.  So you could lie in bed all day, watch TV, just breath and eat your BMR calories and just stay the same weight.   Sounds good eh?  There are many ways to work out your BMR but to get a pretty good idea take your body weight in kg’s and if you are female multiple by 22 and male’s 24.

Example 60kg x 22 = 1320 calories BMR.

Then we add onto this with our movement as this is not a lot, well certainly for me personally.  Which bring me to NEAT.

NEAT – Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

For those who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about then I hope I am going to change your world as I believe it changed mine.

NEAT is basically all the energy we use that isn’t sleeping, eating or organised/planned exercise (such as gym classes, running or sport games).  So it’s your step count, walking up the stairs, fidgeting, shuffling in your chair or any unplanned movement.

The reason this will change the way you think about your activity goals is because this is what burns the most of your calories throughout the day aside from your BMR.  Most people think they need to go to the gym because they need to burn those extra calories but planned exercise is such a small contribution to your energy expenditure.

Ways to get your NEAT up

  • Aim for as many steps actually possible in your day.  The general rule seems to be 10,000 steps but this really depends on your job.   Walk home from the train station instead of driving.  Get off the bus 1 or 2 stops earlier.  Park your car on the opposite side of the car park.
  • Walk up the stairs and the escalator
  • Get a standing desk
  • Go for that walk at lunch or walk to a further away coffee shop
  • Cooking
  • Wash your car
  • Cleaning

Just making an effort to be more active will make a world of difference over the week.   Just make small goals to begin with to increase your activity.  An extra 1000 steps per day week 1, then continue to add each week until you are happy with the amount you are doing.

I want to break this down so you can see that something small over time can have a huge impact.

Lets take Sally. Sally weighs 60kg and she wants to maintain her weight.  She loves food so she know that if she wants to eat as much as she does without gaining fat she will need to increase her activity.  She already goes to the gym 4 times a week so she needs to increase her NEAT.  Sally picks her daughter up from day-care every day, it’s on the 7th floor and she always gets the lift.  Sally decides to from now on she will walk up and down those stairs. It will take 5 minutes to get up and 3 minutes to get down.

Let’s say that 7 minutes of climbing up and down the stairs will burn 50 calories per day.

So doing that 5 days a week is 250 calories per week.

If she does that 48 weeks of the year (4 week off annual leave) then that is 12,000 calories over the year.

There is 7700 calories in 1kg of fat.

This means that over the year Sally will lose 1.55kg for making that one small change that will just become a very normal part of her routine.

TEF – Thermic effect of food

I have spoken about this before.   This can also make a small difference to your daily energy expenditure.

TEF is the energy required for metabolic processes such as digestion and absorption.   The higher your metabolism the more calories you burn.  There are some food that can help this process.

Protein!!  Eating protein rich foods makes your metabolism work harder to digest the food.  A high protein diet can increase your metabolic rate by up to 15-30% in comparison to fat being 0-3%.  It’s hard to say exactly what difference this could make as it would be different for everyone but certainly no more than an extra 100 calories per day extra burnt.

However that can make a difference.

Let’s half that for Sally.  So Sally decides that she is going to increase her protein intake from 60g to 120g per day, because of this she burns an extra 50 calories a day due to TEF.

50 calories per day for 365 days per year equals an extra 18250 per year.

That’s 2.37kg lost per year just by upping her protein.

EAT – Exercise activity

This is your planned exercise.  So your gym class at lunch time, your morning swim, your horse riding at the weekend. Yes this makes a difference to your calories burnt over the week but not as much as you would think compared to getting your NEAT up.  Whereas this is important for heart health and body composition if they are your goals but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up as much as we do if we skip a class.

A lot of us have the mindset that it’s ok to sit on the couch all day watching movies because you went for a 20-minute jog this morning burning 150 calories.   You would be much better doing your 10,000 steps over the day and generally being more active for a higher energy burn.

Don’t get me wrong, exercise activity is super important if you have body composition and health goals but it’s just not the most important thing and I think once you have a good idea how are energy is burnt you can make small changes to your day to day life that makes a lot of difference over time.

Making two small changes Sally just burnt 3.92kg over the year without even having to restrict any food.

Take away – get your NEAT up, make one small goal per week as it will make a difference.  Eat more good quality Protein if you are not already.

Emma xx

Macronutrients

I mentioned macro’s yesterday to my husband and he didn’t know what it was.  Once I said it was simply carbohydrates, protein and fat he was still totally clueless.  I mean yes he has heard of them but he is very old school in what he relates them to.  He knows bread has carbs in and he thinks that’s bad.  He thinks protein is for people wanting big muscles. 

I also recently had a friend recently ask me if the protein shake, she is drinking to aid her recovery after a major operation will even help because her husband told her that protein shakes are only for bodybuilders and they will make her fat if she drinks it without training.

I had to write a post about it to help clear the misconceptions up.

Some of you will have heard the term if it fits your macros (IIFYM).  You will have heard it’s the only way to lose weight.  You can eat whatever you want as long as it fits.

I’d like to break this down and explain what the macros actually are, what they do for our body and why this style of eating can be beneficial but also why it does not suit everyone.

First of all IIFYM is not just used for fat loss it also very popular for those wanting to build muscle and also just maintain their current body composition (maintenance).

So let’s take each macro one at a time.

Carbohydrate

The poor old carbohydrate gets so much bad press but I see it changing with more and more evidence coming out to support its health benefits and also showing that you don’t need to cut it out to lose fat.  Although this macro is not essential to the body like the other macros are the carbohydrate offers so much benefit to the healthy function of our bodies.

First of all it’s the preferred source of fuel and the main source of fuel for all living organisms. If you go for a work out then its carbs that will be burnt first if your body has access to them (if you have eaten them).  It’s also the main source of fuel for our brains.  Have you ever cut out carbs and had that horrible brain fog? Your brain uses around 20% of your energy requirements every day, its wants to be fueled to have optimal function.

There are 3 types of carbohydrates and theses are sugar, starch and fibre.

Carbohydrates can be simple of complex.

Simple carbs are made up of sugars or sugar and starch.  Things like white rice and white bread.  The sugar hits your blood stream quicker which mean you get a quick hit of energy; these are called high glycemic foods. (GI)

Then you have complex carbohydrates which are made up of starch and fibre.  These foods include wholegrains, brown rice, pulses and lentils to name only a few.

It’s the complex carbs we need to be having more of and we should be reducing the simple carbs.  I am only talking in terms of optimal health. 

Here’s why carbs are great for us.

Energy – 1 gram of carbohydrates equals 4 calories.  This is the same for both simple and complex.  When carbs are digested, they are turned into glucose which is the body’s main source of energy. Simple carbs are released quickly into the blood stream but complex are released more slowly so you get energy for complex carbs for a longer period of time.

Digestive health – The fibre in the complex carbs helps to stop constipation and also help the formation of the stool to prevent diarrhea

Weight control – Complex carbs can help us to feel fuller for longer and also help us to feel satisfied by our food.  This is only the complex kind though; the simple carbs can actually do the opposite and can be overconsumed!

It’s recommended that we get 45-60% of our calories from carbohydrates.  This may seem high but it is very individual based as we tolerate them very differently.  Conditions such as IBS can have an impact on your tolerance of fiber for example.  You may feel better having a lower amount.  You will need higher carbs if you are very active.

I think it is important to note here that each gram of carbohydrate holds 3 molecules of water.  Have you ever cut back on carbs for a few days and jumped on the scales to find you have lost 3kgs in weight and you get all excited and think going low carb is the only way?  Its just water, its not fat! Sorry to disappoint.

Complex carbs are also very high in essential vitamins and minerals, if you cut them out you are cutting out not only the amazing benefits you get from fibre but also a mass of nutrients your body needs.

Protein

I only became aware of how important Protein is for our bodies in the last couple of years.  What a wonder macro this is.  People think protein is for weight lifters and to grow big muscles.  Yes it does help with that (however you also need to lift heavy weights) but it’s so much more and this is an essential macro nutrient we all need and most of us do not get enough of.  I’m going to try hard to keep it shorter than I did with carbs and maybe do a whole post on protein another time.

What is protein?  Proteins are a large molecule consisting of amino acids.  Proteins are made up of essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.  I’m not going to go into the science so I will just tell you why we need it and why it’s great.

  • To grow, repair and maintain muscles and tissues in the body
  • Boosts your immune system – proteins help form antibodies to fight infection
  • High satiety – Protein keeps you fuller for longer
  • Higher thermic effect of food – the body works harder to process the protein thus burning more calories (approx. 80-100 extra per day)
  • Can help to lower blood pressure
  • Eating more protein can help with recovery of an injury or after an operation

Like carbohydrates protein also has 4 calories per gram.

The government guideline recommends 0.8g per kg of body weight.  This is an absolute minimum and nutritionists would recommend 1.5-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight to get more benefits.

Protein can be found in all animal products in higher quantities and is also available in plant based food such as oats, pulses, rice, quinoa and other cereals.

Again we are all different.  Muscle Michael will need a lot more than laid back Lucy who isn’t very active.  Michael will need a lot more protein to make sure he is recovering from his gym sessions and building up his muscle for his goals.  Lucy needs 0.8g per kg plus to maintain good health so it really does depend on your goals.

Protein drinks and shakes are not necessary but they do have a place.  Again they are not just for muscle Michael.  They are convenient for anyone struggling to hit their protein target and they are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids our body needs.

Many people are not hitting their protein target.  Check yours, you might be surprised!

Fats

Fats has also been in the firing line in the past.  I even remember back in the early 2000’s trying to eat as little fat as possible with absolutely no idea why but someone said it would help me lose weight.   Low fat diets were the thing to do.  Then came Atkins and the roles reverse completely.

Fat is an essential macro nutrient and is a major source of energy.  It helps you absorb vitamins and minerals, helps with muscle movement, inflammation and is essential for blood clotting.

Fat has 9 calories per gram therefore is the most calorie dense out of the 3 macros.

Let’s talk about the different types of fat.

The good stuff – monounsaturated (MUFA’s) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s)

MUFA’s – olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds
PUFA’s – essential fats.  These are your omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.   Great for your cholesterol and heart health.  Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds and walnuts to name a few.  

Most of your fats should be coming from MUFA’s and PUFA’s.

Trans fats

This is the bad fat.  There are no known benefits to them so we should get rid of them from our diets. They increase harmful cholesterol, create inflammation and contribute to heart disease.  You will find these in highly processed foods.

Saturated fats

They are not bad in moderation but can be if over consumed. It is said that high consumption of saturated fat is linked to heart disease and high cholesterol.  However recent studies have shown that this link isn’t what we thought and it may not be as bad as we have been led to believe.  I think we all know that bacon, high processed meats and large amounts of high fat dairy is not great for out waistline and heart health. I say moderation on this one but don’t fear it.

The recommended daily amount of fat we should be eating is between 20-35% of our calories.

Alcohol

Ok, not a macro but I thought it was worth a mention as this was a quitting alcohol blog originally.  Alcohol has 7 calories per gram and has absolutely no health benefit to us.  Its literally empty calories.

Still confused??  Me too, so much to take in and I’ve barely scratched the surface but I think I have covered the basics.

If it fits your macros (IIFYM) and why it’s good for some people

It’s a flexible approach to eating that is planned around your needs.  Your needs being your age, activity levels, gender.  It’s also based on your goals if that’s weight loss, muscle gain or even weight gain.

This is what the Australian government recommends for good health.  45-65% carbs, 15-20% protein, 20-35% fat for good health.  Again this is very general.

The downside to tracking your macros

It can be quite obsessive.  I know, I’ve been there.  You need to know that macro content of every single food and it can become very time consuming.  You also start to keep your foods the same once you have mastered what fits therefore you lack variety therefore lack vitamins and minerals.  It also doesn’t promote eating good quality food as you can eat a tub of ice-cream if you fit it into your macros.  

The take home summary

  • IIFYM is basically down to calories at the end of the day, it’s just another way of tracking them
  • That each macro is super important for our health and there is no need for extreme diets to cut whole macros out (unless for a specific health condition)
  • Moderation is key – it always comes back to this
  • What works for one person does not always work for another person
  • Eat complex carbs and reduce simple carbs
  • Up your protein intake if you are not meeting the requirements
  • Avoid trans fats and moderate saturated fats

I hope this helps

Emma x

Next post – NEAT – Non-exercise active thermogenesis

Calories

We throw the word calorie around a lot but I’m betting a lot of us don’t actual know or understand what it actual is?

Are all calories equal?

Is fat loss just down to calories in calories out?

Diets don’t work!

These are big debates in the nutrition world.

So what is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy.  More scientifically a calorie is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 0 to 1 degree Celsius.  Way to complicated eh!

So are all calories equal?  Well, yes in terms of a measurement.  100 calories of chocolate is the same as 100 calories of broccoli.  Just like 1kg of feathers weights the same as 1kg of sugar.

Are all calories equal in how they are broken down in the body? No they are not. It’s just not that simple. 

Let’s start with the thermic effect of food.  This means the energy required for digestion, absorption and the disposal of ingested nutrients. 

Protein for example has the highest thermic effect of food, 25-30% of the calories of protein are lost as heat when it metabolises in the body.  Carbs is only 6-8% and fat 2-3%.  This is one reason why higher protein diets are favoured by some for fat loss.  However it’s not such a big difference over the day, some studies have shown that high protein diets boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day. So interesting!

 I could go on about protein a little more but I think it deserves its own post so I will do that at a later date.  I’ll try to stay on track talking about calories.

Fibre!  We all know what this is but did you know that it is not absorbed in the body?  Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that helps us to feel full without contributing to calories because it doesn’t digest.  High fibre foods are not fully absorbed, for example it’s said that the energy content of an almond is over estimated by 32%.  Great news!  Let’s eat more fibre! It will make our gut happier too!

Is fat loss just down to calories in calories out?

In principle yes.  This has been proven over and over again in studies. The principle of fat loss is that you need to burn more calories that you take in.  The method is the diet choice you make for example if you track macro’s or you do a low carb diet all of which create a calorie deficit.

The other view point is that calories in calories out doesn’t take into consideration hormones imbalances, insulin resistance, PCOS and other health problems.  This view point claims that certain diets help with their health condition, let’s say some believe that a low carb diet helps with insulin resistance.  Again all these methods create a calorie deficit.

So you see, it is about creating that calorie deficit for fat loss and this deficit can vary depending on each individual.  Taking into considerations such as activity levels, your energy you burn at rest, the energy you burn by metabolizing food, calories absorbed through your food quality and hormones. They all matter but if you want to lose fat you still need to be burning off more than you consume.

So do diets work? 

Yes they do if they are creating an energy deficit and you can adhere to that method.  You need to find the right method.  Why would you do low carb if you love bread?  Why would you skip breakfast if you wake up starving and hangry?  Why would you stop eating gluten if you are not intolerant or have celiac disease?  People tend to set themselves up for failure with extremes.  Extremes are not necessary for fat loss.

So yes, calories in calories out is an oversimplification as you need to factor in many variables but the principle for fat loss, weight maintenance or weight gain is scientifically proven.

I will do another post specifically on fat loss soon but I think it’s important to understand the not so simple calorie to begin with.  

I felt this blog was difficult to write as there is so much more to say and it would be very easy to make this post the size of war and peace so I hope I picked out what I think we need to know and understand.  I hope the takeaway is that we are all very different in what works for one and that the quality of food matters.  There is no needs for extreme diets that you cant stick to because they are unrealistic and not sustainable.  You just need to find the deficit that works for you and your lifestyle.

Emma x

What is Healthy anyway?

What does Healthy mean?

I thought I would base my very first nutrition post on overall health, it’s a huge subject so brace yourself for a long post.

In a bid to keep this blog a personal one to me and my experiences I will give you a brief breakdown to my own ongoing journey to achieving optimal health.  As a teenage I was chubby, I was always active though.  I was on the netball team, cross country team and walked to and from school every day.  I would say if I didn’t do these things I would have been a lot bigger.  My relationship with food was awful and I had no idea about nutrition. It wasn’t a thing like it is now.  From being a teenager I would binge, mostly on chocolate but also crisps.  It was in the family, both my sister and me used to sit there devouring all this food in the evening and it didn’t stop for me until my 20’s.  I remember my first diet.  I ate 1000 calories per day, spent 60 minutes in the gym doing only cardio machines, never lifted a weight in my life as they made you bulky, I also worked in a job where I was on my feet 9 hours a day.  It’s fair to say I lost a couple of stone very easily in a short space of time.  My nutrition was so poor I had bad spot breakouts and my hormones where out of whack but I still binged and I thought I was fat. I was a stone underweight and was lucky to still be getting my period.  My relationship with food was not good!  I had never heard of quinoa or a complex carb.  I healthy meal for me was a low calorie ready meal from Marks and spencers.

I could go on and on about the different diets I’ve tried over the years, same as many I’m sure, weight watchers, slimming world, keto, Atkins, intermittent fasting none of which actually promoted health eating.  I mean, come on, you can eat unlimited Muller light yoghurts depending on the colour of the day.  It’s no wonder we are all confused about what we can eat. Don’t even get me started on exercising makes you fat!!  I have lost weight, gained weight, had a baby, been healthy, been unhealthy, drank too much alcohol, stopping drinking alcohol, over exercised, under exercised.

Fast forward 15 years and I am studying nutrition and hope to qualify in May but I am still trying to find that balance just like everyone else.  I have learnt that health is not just about your number on the scales and that there is so much more involved.  Educating myself has helped so much but I still get confused with all the miss information out there.  Constantly questioning myself which I think is part of the learning process.

I don’t claim to know it all but I what I talk about in my blogs comes from a very good place of wanted to spread information what in my opinion based on my learnings and experiences which is what an evidence practitioner should do.

So what does Healthy mean?

There are 6 facets of health.

  • Social – This is your lifestyle, your social life, being part of a community, sense of purpose would come under this facet
  • Physical – this can be aesthetic, activity and movement, health goal, nutrition
  • Emotional – spiritual health, your thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Economical – what resources you have, for example your financial situation
  • Intellectual – Your education
  • Psychological – your mental health

I could break these down one by one but I fear I will lose you so instead I would like to talk about the blue zones as we are on the subject of overall health.

There are 5 blue zones across the world.  This means these places have the highest concentration of people living to the age of 100 +.  They are the healthiest people on the plant.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/books/features/5-blue-zones-where-the-worlds-healthiest-people-live/

What you will notice if you clicked on the link is that none of the blue zones are vegan, low carb or fasting for 16 hours.  Instead they eat probably 90% plant based food including fresh fruit and vegetable, legumes, some fresh fish and good quality meats.  Pretty balanced eh?

The blue zones are not the healthiest in the world just because of diet.  This is what they are doing.

High physical activity
Sense of community and purpose – friends/family
Good sleep
Low stress and good mental health
Balance approach to nutrition
Very little alcohol or moderate
Good amount of sun exposure – vitamin D – I notice they are all coastal locations

Should we be taking a leaf out of the blue zones book?  Is it achievable? I personally like the sound of it and I think there are lots of things we can take from what they do.  I think we do try.

I have days where I feel like I am smashing through life, it’s all in control then other days where I am balancing all the plates and couple might fall and then it’s all out of whack.

I think striving for balance has a lot to answer for too!

What is balance?   Home/work life balance.  Energy balance. Getting enough sleep.  Moderate alcohol intake. Taking your own time but also being there for your family and friends.  It’s all so over whelming isn’t it? I sometimes think striving for balance equals striving for perfection which I am certainly guilty of and then it can affect your anxiety.

Maybe if we aim to master a facet at a time, forming habits before moving on to the next facet.

All the facets link.  This is how they link for me.

Intellectual – educating myself on what works for me

Economical – this for me would be what food is affordable for me and my family, what supplements can I afford to take if any, what activities can I take part in

Physical – if I get my nutrition right this then goes hand in hand with activity and I feel good, getting enough sleep

Emotional and social – feeling more confident to socialise, more energy for work, clear minded and good habits, taking time for myself, getting out in the sunshine, spending time with family

Psychological – all the above help to keep you mind in check

When I do all this right then I am on a roll.  Unfortunately life can get in the way and upset the balance and it doesn’t always go to plan. 

For me the take away from this and I hope you are thinking about too is that Health is so broad and not just about the food we eat and what we weigh, there is a lot more to think about.

I would love to hear what health means to you and what you think of the facets of health?!

Emma x

Emma are you still off the booze?

My final alcohol only blog!

I’ve been quiet I know, the thing is as time goes on I have less to say about my sober journey. At first I blogged to keep me accountable, then I discovered this wonderful community, I even realised I looked forward to writing the blog as I had so much to get off my chest. I don’t anymore. Although I love my life as it is right now there is nothing eventful happening, no big parties to stay sober through, its just work, family, study, gym and I love it.

So I have been thinking about changing the theme of my blog.

If you haven’t read previously I am at the later stages of a nutrition course, once I pass my exams I will be a nutritionist. I love to learn about health, all aspects of it and not just nutrition. Aside from the study I am doing I non stop listen to health, training and nutrition podcasts, listen to audio books and read articles all to develop my passion and knowledge for it. From all the learning I do about health I also love to practice being healthy too!

From my next post I will pick a subject to write about based on the evidence I have discovered/learnt to back it up and the experiences that I have also had with that subject. It will still be a personal blog and alcohol will still feature a lot i’m sure (er health!)

Aside from it being great experience for me to write about nutrition its also a stepping stone to building my confidence to get out onto other social media platforms eventually so I would love any questions or feedback along the way especially if you don’t agree with what I’m saying. Even though social media is a positive in some respects I also need to develop a thicker skin so I can handle myself out there. So when I am a famous nutritionist to the stars you can say you were with me from the beginning LOL!

I don’t have a huge amount of followers however the followers I have I would love to keep as you have offered my support when I have needed it and I hope the blog will still be relevant/helpful to your journey to a healthier life, that’s why we don’t drink isn’t it?

Emma xx

PS – yes I am still off the booze!

Out with the old in with the new!

As time ticks on and I go into my 4th month of not drinking I realise it’s the 4th of February and I have not planned to have the first drink yet.   If you have read previous blogs you will know that I have been thinking about trying moderation.  I still am.  I was committing to 3 months off the booze initially, then dry Jan.  I realised it’s the 4th of Feb so there is no need to not drink anymore yet I am not.

It made me think why? I then started to think about habits and the new ones that I have formed without realising.  One habit I am keen to keep is my mornings. I am so productive in the mornings now.  Every podcast you listen to related to the habits of highly successful people talks about how having a morning routine is vital.  As far as I can tell they are right!  Nailing that morning routine really sets you up for the day.  Last night I went to bed extra early so I could get up at 5am, make a coffee, do some study, 10 minutes of yoga and then get to work for 8am.  There is something really nice about it being dark when you get up and to complete silence before anyone else is up.  By the time I arrive to work I feel like its mid-day and I have achieved so much.  I wouldn’t be doing that on a Monday morning if I was drinking over the weekend.  I’d be tired and my mood would be low, I wouldn’t be motivated.

I heard this recently in an audiobook, Get up and get shit done!  I love that.  So to the point and not dancing around it like so many tend to do.

My mindset has changed too.

I am going to see Jack Whitehall this Friday night and I have no plans to drink. I just don’t want to.  I don’t want to have to queue up at the 5 deep bar only to buy 3 single glass bottles of gross wine but be charged through the roof for it, spend the concert trying to balance them and make sure I don’t knock them over and spill them.  Then have to keep going to the toilet because I drank so much and actually miss the show.  If I don’t drink I will have none of that hassle, I will genuinely laugh at the show knowing I am laughing because its actually funny and not because I’m drunk and best of all I will remember it.  I will save heaps of money and get to drive home.  4 months ago I would never have thought like this no way!

Its true when people who have quit drinking or successfully gone from heavy to moderate drinker say, you need to do at least 3 months to really see the benefits and have that attitude change.  I also think you need to be ready to do it, if I had to stop drinking for let’s say a health reason when I was 30 I wouldn’t have done it whole heartedly as I loved to drink then, I wouldn’t have been ready, you can’t be forced to do it as you are more reluctant to change that way.  It’s not even about age, I have friends older than me who probably drink more than I did yet they don’t want to stop, they are just not at the point I was, everyone has a different point, a different motivation or reason, they may never get to it.  I am truly grateful that I did, it really has been life changing. 

Emma xx

Myth busting

You can’t have a good time without a drink! You are boring without alcohol. Drinking makes you cool. Alcohol is not a drug because it legal.

All the above I believed. Why wouldn’t I? It is ingrained in us from an early age that when we get older we should drink alcohol, it’s what makes us an adult. It’s only this last 4 months of my 38 years of life that I have realised we do this and it’s the most ridiculous thing isn’t it?

We grow up asking dad for a sip of his beer, we see mum drinking wine to relax her and can’t wait to be old enough to feel those grown up feelings. It’s normal to drink, or so society, or at least the society i have been part of made it normal. Up until recently I was bringing my daughter up exactly the same way.

Most humans including myself are stupid. We have a tendency to believe everything we read and not question it. Advertising and marketing are the absolute worst, glorifying alcohol. Pimms o’clock. Lambrini girls have more fun. The Budweiser advert!

This post has come from a little reflection. I went camping this weekend. I was a little nervous about it, camping to us is about cracking open that beer at 10.30am putting the tent up and just leisurely drinking throughout the day into the night. Before you know it you have had 4 beers and 2 bottles of bubbles cranking the music up and chatting shit. Then you sleep horrendous, get up at 6am the next day as you have no choice because the tent has turned into a sauna and you do the whole day again but not as well as the day before. Then morning 2 you wake up wanting to die rather than pack away all your tent feeling queezy as hell hoping your husband offers drive home so you don’t have to admit you probably shouldn’t as you are still drunk from the night before.

It’s funny as writing it down is making me wonder why I would miss that but I was worried I would. I had an absolute blast without the booze. I had so much energy although still had the shit sleep but I think that’s just camping isn’t it! I was playing tennis with the kids, playing laser tag, swimming, morning walks fresh as a daisy. I was anything but boring. I went to bed the same time as everyone else who were drinking. I didn’t feel left out at any point. I had zero arguments with my husband. An overall success! It made me want to drink even less.

I have to give credit to AF beer though, it really does help.

I am reading more about the harsh facts about alcohol lately that not many of us make reference to because they are classed as scaremongering but I think we should have a bit more scaremongering to counteract the glorifying that alcohol gets!

Scaremongering coming up. Alcohol is a drug and we need to remember that. Every time it goes into our body we are poisoning it. Some are more sensitive to it and I think I was one of them with the severity of my hangovers. There is sufficient evidence that ethanol – the chemical present in all alcoholic beverages – is a carcinogen!!!! It’s causes cancer! If you have breast cancer in your family and drink a lot of alcohol you are increasing your risk of getting by 35%, this is big and frigggin scary as hell. Alcohol per year kills more people than global terrorism and alcohol kills more people than any other drug! Yet the government still let the media glamorise it because they want the money but think of all the money they could be saving the health service of no one drank.

Ok as I write this I see I have gone off on a tangent, I’m not preaching. If you have read my previous posts I’m not planning to be a non drinker forever but I am glad I know all the bad stuff because if I do drink again I can do it knowing what I am doing to my body as that would be my choice. I’m hoping this information will help me moderate especially now I know I’m not boring and I don’t need the alcohol to get through any event.

Happy Aussie day weekend to Aussie family xxx

A side of guilt!

This is one emotion I struggle to control.  I feel guilt for everything.

Guilt for say no to playing a board game with my daughter because I have 10 other things to do, guilt for eating the cake, guilt for taking a day off work sick, guilt for not getting up on time to do my yoga, guilt for not writing my blog as often, guilt for skipping the gym, guilt for thinking of drinking alcohol again. 

The last one is consuming me at the moment.  Then I think why, why am I striving for perfection all the time?  Why is it bothering me so much, I’ve not failed, I’ve done the 90 days and then some.  Why?!!!

I googled it.

We experience 5 hours a week of guilty feelings – WOW that’s a big chunk of time.
Guilt makes us reluctant to enjoy life – this makes me sad
Guilt trips make you feel guilty but also resentful – I can understand this

If you googled the meaning of guilt and this is what it said.

Guilt is a feeling people typically have after doing something wrong, intentionally or accidentally. A person’s sense of guilt usually relates to their moral code. Guilt isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes it’s even productive.

Ok so how can I make my guilty feelings productive?  I google also.

Move beyond comparing and competing – I have said before and do try to remember that comparison is the thief of joy it’s very difficult not to compare.  Example – when you see someone making not drinking alcohol look so easy, it’s hard not to wonder why you are struggling. 

Own your choices – yes!  I mean what’s the worst that can happen.  So I took a day off work, my daughter was sick, I chose to take the day off so I could be with her, I shouldn’t feel guilty for that.

Think about what you would say if a friend told you they feel guilty for the same reason – this one is the best.  So true, for every reason above I would say don’t be silly, give yourself a break, don’t be so hard on yourself.  No-one expects you to be perfect.

Practice mindfulness – this one keeps popping up.  I put it off all the time. Then I feel guilty about it LOL!

There are more but these are my favorites and the ones I will really think about specifically with the drinking guilt.   Not comparing with everyone, everyone’s journey is different.  If I do drink again, I will own that decision and if it doesn’t work I will go back to not drinking.  It’s not the end of the world!