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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.

Sugar Addiction – is there such thing?

If you asked me whilst I was demolishing a packet of hobnobs, I would say yes.  I would also say I was addicted to salt as I finish my 2nd packets of salt and vinegar.

The fact is there is no equivocal evidence to support the claims that sugar is addictive.  Some even claiming that it is 8 times more addictive than cocaine.  This does make me chuckle as imagine sugar dealers charging $250 a small packet of the white stuff!

There is one study that some “experts” refer to that they say proves we are addicted to sugar and that is a study on rats, it’s a study with so many flaws.  Also, we are not rats!

Study link is here if you are interested https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931610/

However, we cannot deny how we feel when we eat a food that may be high in sugar.  We want more and we can’t stop.  Just think about this though, is it the sugar or are we just looking for something to blame?  Would you sit there with a plate full of table sugar and enjoy it, I’m thinking no.  It’s the food itself, it may have sugar but it’s also is ultra-processed with added fats, sugars, additives and is made to be as delicious as possible.   That’s why we love crisps too right?

We also need to consider why we feel it is addictive.  It does have similarities in regards to the feelings we get.  Such as the release of dopamine when we eat these foods, basically making us feel happy even if it is on a temporary basis.

So based on the evidence I would say that no we are not addicted to sugar we just really like deliciously tasting food. 

What can we do stop eating so much sugar?

Just to be clear, I am referring to added sugar (table sugar) here not the sugar that is naturally in fruit or some vegetable for example.

Added sugar foods are usually very highly processed and provide very little if any nutritional value what so ever.  Fruit and some veg are highly nutritious foods and also provide us fibre, this would outweigh any negative effect that is claimed fruit sugars may have. 

Some tips to get rid of some of that sugar are

  • Ditch the soda drinks and energy drinks – switch to the diet version (if you are thinking sweeteners are more harmful for weight gain please read this study, seems the jury is still out) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868411/
  • Get rid of fruit juices – you get zero fibre from them and all the calories. They don’t fill you up either so what’s the point!
  • Ban the booze – no benefits, full of sugar and all sort of other crap, even if its just until you get to your goal.
  • Avoid sugar loaded sauces – BBQ, ketchup, sweet and sour.  You can make healthier versions of these, just google!
  • Breakfast cereals – even if they claim to be healthy, they are probably not.  Experiment with you own granolas and overnight oats, they are super easy.
  • Eat whole foods when you can – its not sexy I know but cooking from scratch is the best way to know what you are eating.  Avoid pre-packaged if you can.
  • Don’t go for low fat foods – they usually have added sugars in to make them taste better
  • Snacks – if you can’t stop thinking about them chockie biccies in the cupboard just don’t buy them.  I buy them for the kids I hear you say, they don’t need them either.

These tips are very easy to implement, even if you made one change per week it would be a huge difference to your health and waistline if that’s the problem.

Low sugar products as a guide are 5g of sugars per 100g.

Why should I cut back on sugar?

I love sugar as much as the next person, maybe even more but we all know that too much of something is never a good thing. 

I mentioned before about all sugars not being the same.  In fact, our body loves sugar (glucose) as it’s the preferred source of fuel and fuel for our brain.  Something we need to unlearn is that all sugar is bad sugar.  Its just not the case.  We are taking about added sugars here in terms of health.

Here’s why you should cut back on added sugars for your overall health.

  • Weight gain – the obvious one.  Now you don’t just eat sugar and the pounds pile on. You still need to be eating more than your body burns (energy surplus) however we do know we over consume these high sugar processed foods so they certainly help get us to that surplus.
  • Increased risk of heart disease – high blood pressure
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712514/
  • Increased risk of getting diabetes type 2 – through obesity.  Prolonged high levels of sugar can lead to becoming resistant to insulin, leading to diabetes
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166864/
  • Increased risk of depression – there are clinical reasons why but from personal experience how many times have we eaten crap and felt like crap?  I personal feel great after consuming healthy nourishing foods.
  • It ages us – enough said!
  • Our teeth – we all know sugar is bad for our teeth
  • Its an energy drainer – it perks us up very temporary then we come crashing down. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4551584/

If you feel you consume way too much sugar and it is affecting your health, I suggest making small changes slowly to help form new habits.  Make one change per week.  We don’t need to do extremes; they are unrealistic and work for very few people in the long term and our aim is our long-term health right?

I hope this helps x

This is me!

For those who don’t know I started this blog over 6 months ago.  It was an anonymous blog which I started at the start of a 3 months alcohol free journey.  I became part of a community of others going through the same things as me and I believe because of the blog it made me successful in my goal.  I actually ended up doing over 6 months.  Along the way I started to be less anonymous and introduce my friends and family to read so they could understand how I was getting on.

I always find myself wondering what people look like when I chat to them or read their blogs.  I really struggled picking the picture, I tried to take a few selfies but they were awful.  I haven’t worn makeup in over 6 weeks and basically live in my active wear, I didn’t think it fair to impose those pictures on you.  I also thought maybe I should put a picture together where I’m like holding a plate full of donuts and a plate in the other hand with like lettuce on it or something, you know like other nutritionists but then I realized that wasn’t me either.  I don’t know how people take selfies of themselves, Its very awkward.  Anyway, I need to work on that but for now this picture was taken at my Christmas party when I’d not been drinking for 3 months and I had a full face of makeup.  😊

For those who don’t know for the last year I have been studying Nutrition and I recently passed my exams and became qualified.  Yey me!  I thought it was now time to put a face to the blog.

I have been blogging now and again with nutrition related posts but I am going to make it more official.  All my post with be nutrition, health and lifestyle related moving forward as I start my journey as a Nutritionist.  They will be evidence based of course but also with some personal experiences.  I am also busy alongside my everyday job setting up my nutrition business which I will also chat about along the way.  I already find it challenging when you have no clue what you are doing.

I would also like to hear any ideas of posts you would like to see?  So many things to cover!

Emma x

Phytonutrients – what even are they?

They are never talked about in the mainstream media. If you follow nutrition then you will possibly have heard of them but all everyone talks about is macro nutrients and micro nutrients. We really need to know about phytonutients too.

Phytonutrients was not even covered in my nutrition training. I’ve learnt about them through podcasts, reading and research. Its because they are not essential to life. There is no recommended daily amount to take or government guidelines for them so they are forgotten.

They are however so important for optimal health.

Here’s why.

Also known as Phytochemicals, they are chemicals produced by plant foods to help the plant stay healthy. We have all heard that we should be eating the foods that are of the colours of the rainbow right? Phytonutrient (PN from now on) foods include colourful fruits, vegetables but also spices, nuts, seeds and legumes. Could this be another reason why eating plant based is deemed the healthier diet?

In the interest of keeping this short and sweet her is a list of just some of the benefits

High in anti oxidants – substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases
Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation and swelling
Enhancing immunity – help us fight of infections
Links claiming that a diet rich in PN’s if effective in reducing cancer and heart disease (studies or on-going)

There are over 25,000 types of PN’s but here are some you may be familiar with.

Carotenoids – red, orange and yellow fruits/vegetable
Flavonoids – almost all fruits/veg and spices
Curcuminoids – Tumeric
Resveratrol – red wine – but more so the actual skin of grapes!

As mentioned before there is no recommended amount for any of these so there is no need to go and buy supplements for them. Aside from it being a complete waste of money the supplements cannot guarantee the bio availability of them so you don’t actually know how much you are getting anyway. All our needs are very individual.

The best way to get them is to chuck as much into your every day cooking. I am really bad with herbs and spices and knowing what goes with what. My dried herbs usually go out of date! I will really make an effort to include them in every meal. Try to include 30 different plants a week into your food. Buy in season veg. Try new fruits and veg that you wouldn’t usually try. 30 sounds a lot but if you cook from scratch and stay away from convenience food it is very achievable. I’m giving Marley spoon a shout out too. I got a veggie box, 4 veggie meals. I had one last night and it had 7 different plants in it. So that was 7 and I didn’t even have to think about it.

Let’s be more mindful of Phytonutients, I mean its only going to make our food taste better right!!!

Emma x


Things I am loving and hating this year so far

I’m quite a positive person over all, the glass is half full and all that. However I cant help but be irritated by things. As its been such a strange and different start to the year I have been reflecting. As I love a list I thought I would note down what I am thinking about my year so far. Not the most interesting post but hey who’s life is interesting right now?

  • I am loving that people seem to be more conscious of activity.  Running, walking and online workouts, its great and I hope it continues when all this is over.
  • It bugs me when people say they are self-isolating then they go to the beach and buy coffee.  This isn’t self-isolation right?

Self-isolate meaning – do not leave your home/hotel unless it is an emergency do not go to public places such as work or shopping centres do not let visitors in – only people who usually live with you should be in your home.

  • It also bugs me when people say we are in lockdown.  Sydney has been lucky enough to not be in full lockdown.  We can still get takeaway, still visit Bunnings, go for walks on the beach.  Not really that restrictive.
  • People love drama.
  • Social media is the catalyst to all negative feelings towards people. I should think about coming off it.
  • I ordered Marley spoon which means I don’t have to think about what we are having for dinner, they will give me new veggie meal ideas and I will have time to make them.
  • I am no longer missing the gym.  I am loving my home workouts and recently bought a TRX.  Its enough! I’m actually kidding, I miss the gym so much I am just trying to be positive!
  • I love how many films I am watching.  I love films but for the last year I haven’t been watching as many, I watch at least 5 a week now.  I’m re-watching old classics like pulp fiction and rocky.
  • I haven’t felt my heart race with stress for over 3 weeks now.  Although home school starts again tomorrow so that could change
  • I turned 39 and I have never been or felt so healthy in all my life
  • Hating – my skin is bad – I was so excited for fresh skin with less pollution and make up.  I don’t think I have ever been so spotty!!
  • I am enjoying the slower pace of life.  No rushing, over committing and trying to please everyone.
  • Its been 4 weeks and I am not really missing people.  I am liking my family bubble.
  • Me and my daughter Hanna are so much closer and I have learnt so much more about her during this time.
  • I am not a school teacher and cant believe I ever wanted to be one.
  • I’m drinking again after a 6 month break and I’m still not sure how I am feeling about it.  I have enjoyed the odd glass, usually the first.
  • I love working from home. 
  • I am on top of my cleaning and washing.
  • The environmental benefits we are seeing makes me smile
  • Less traffic on the roads
  • Cheap petrol prices
  • I chopped all my hair off that I have been trying to grow for 2 years because one day I felt it made me look old
  • I have learnt to pluck my own eyebrows (not very well but I am giving it a go)  I also attempted my own pedicure, dyed my eyelashes and attempted a home facial 😊

Goals

This is not nutrition or alcohol related really but I really feel like this is something to talk about.

I recently completed my nutrition exams. There was a huge build up to it, revising at 5 in the morning or last thing at night, whenever I could find the time. I thought I would be relived to finish, to have all this extra time. Instead the next day I felt flat and unmotivated. All I could think of was what now? The the voice in my head says no Emma just have some time to chill out, do nothing in that spare time, enjoy it, watch outlander and drink coffee. The other voice is saying you’ll be bored Emma, lets start planning the next thing.

Do you ever make yourself so busy but then just moan about how busy you are, that is 100% me! I actually annoy myself.

I have to have a goal, a target, to achieve something and I don’t mean just long term but daily. Everyday I have a to do list of things I need to do that day and I just love to cross those things of that list and go to bed with a big smile on my face with absolute achievement. I have a work list and a personal list. Personal list might be do workout, write blog, call mum, wash bedding, hit 10,000 steps, each 7 different plants today (seriously), chill out and watch Netflix for an hour. I plan my relax time, how messed up is that? I do wonder if this is a disorder but then I spoke to my manager and she does the same, shes a freek like me too! A control freek maybe? I do have long term goals too. If I don’t have these goals then I don’t have direction, how would I ever achieve anything? If others are not like me then how to they achieve things?

In the nutrition course that I just finished we did a large module on goals setting. I thought if I share it may help people find the best way for them to motivate themselves. Its also a great way to implement behavior change, by setting small goals. In order to believe in a new identity we have to prove it to ourselves. (not my words, I stole it) we do that by reminder, routine and reward.

Approach goal – reaching or maintaining desired outcomes. For example, I will eat more vegetables his week or I will call my mum this week

Avoidance goal – avoiding or eliminate undesired outcomes. So for example I will eat less chocolate or I will try to work out more. This type of goal setting has been shown to bring less satisfaction and control. I personally need to be more specific with my goal.

Outcome goal – this is a goal that has an agreed timeframe. So for example, in 4 weeks I will have lost 2kg in body weight. This is the most popular type of goal.

Process goal – what did we implement to get to the end goal, so the process you need to follow to achieve the result. So to follow on the above example, to lose 2kg in 4 weeks I must do 12,000 steps every day. This is the one I do a lot of and it increases feeling of control.

I have to stress I am no expert with the above but found it fascinating how different we all are in how we motivate ourselves. I use outcome and process goals and I find that makes me successful in what I want to achieve because they are specific. I don’t well with general goals, too many grey areas for me.

I would love to hear from anyone who may know more, or what goals work for you.

Emma x

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