Are you being realistic?

Today I want to talk being realistic. It is time be realistic about the goals you set each day.

What do you really want from life? What are your goals – are they abs of steel; to be completely shredded – yes I did just say that!; to gain muscle; to be the best athlete you can possibly be; to train with intensity and purpose; to have a good quality of life and be able to spend good quality time with your family and friends?

There are so many things that people want from life and aim and work towards, but the paths they take seem to get to that goal seem to be long, windy and bumpy. If you could find a path that is straight and narrow, would you not take it? It would seem a lot simpler to me and less time would be wasted. Time for me is a valuable thing and something that I don’t think should be wasted. If you want results, would you want to walk that path that is straight and narrow and arrive at your destination quickly? If not, you become disappointed at the lack of results, become frustrated and just give up for a few days, weeks or months.

For myself I struggle also, but it is looking at how far you have come vs how far you really have to go. Self discipline is hard, and is not something that can be developed overnight. It is something that you need to work towards. Remind yourself of how much you have changed and how far you have come to keep you motivated.

I have a couple examples say you decide you want to stop eating so much chocolate/chips or just refined products. You have gone from consuming a block of chocolate a day, but now you only consume one bar a day. That for me is a big change. You have cut out probably 300-400 calories a day by doing so. It is one step in the right direction to changing a habit. The next goal might be cutting back to a bar every second day – another step in the right direction, until it is only every now and then when you feel like it.

If you were this person and decided your goal was to cut out all chocolate, how long do you think you would last before it crept back in? Maybe one day, or a couple more, and the cravings start and you break going back to eating however much you want, whenever you want. How realistic would it be for a person who loves chocolate to give it all up at once? I know it is really quite slim, I have seen it and done it myself with other foods – it just is not realistic.

The same goes for preparing food, some people just do not have the time, nor know how to. So by providing them with information with the best packaged/frozen food available – is that a bad thing? To tell you the truth, I do not think so. Why? Because this food probably has a better nutrient profile, is lower in saturated fats or added sugars then what it would be if they decided to have takeaway, or 2 minute noodles or things that just lack nutrition.

If you decide that you are going to change everything at once and start preparing meals and making them, do you think you will realistically stick to this for a long period of time? Would you get over it all after a couple weeks and then just go back to eating whatever? Don’t feel bad because you feel you lack discipline or want to cook food when you get home from work/training at night. I know I don’t want to cook some nights when I get home from training. So having an option there available that has some nutrition over none at all will always be a better option.

Be realistic with what you are capable of changing at one time. I cannot tell you what you are capable of, only you can decide that for yourself. I can help you figure it out, but ultimately it is you. The path you follow to reaching your goals could be much easier and straight and narrow. Pick realistic goals – change a one or two unhealthy habits at a time rather than a myriad. If you know you love a food then don’t cut it out completely, because you will crave it and it will build up and up until you break and typically in this situation and binge.

Why not work in small steps, change unhealthy habits every few weeks rather than cutting everything out at once. The same goes for body weight, rather than fixating on the end goal, work in small goals, whether that is 2-3kgs, that is all you need. Celebrate each time on the fact you have changed. This is something I like to encourage with some weight loss clients. Pick a number and once you reach it, treat yourself with something that is unrelated to food. Buy a new pair of shoes, shirt, some training gear or go get your nails done. Celebrate the fact you are changing your habits, because they are hard to break.

I don’t think I have said it enough – pick small realistic goals and you will get results!

Dairy – Friend or Foe?

Over the last couple weeks, a number of clients I have been working with have told me they have cut out dairy. Whenever I see this or note it on their forms, I ask why? Why cut it out. Around half say because it causes bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhoea, all of which I think is a good reason not to have it. But the other half say because I thought it wasn’t good for you or there are so many issues advertised with it I wasn’t sure.

So the question is, is dairy good or bad for you?

Dairy foods are comprised of protein (whey & casein), carbohydrates (sugar – lactose) and fat (saturated fat).
Did you know dairy products assist with weight loss (as long as you choose low/skim options) :O you are shocked, aren’t you?  Dairy foods are high in calcium. High calcium diets will decrease body fat accumulation and preserve the metabolism during diet restriction. So including low fat calcium rich products such as skim milk, Chobani yoghurt, low fat cottage cheese will help prevent a decline in your metabolism while trying to lose weight. Not only does a high calcium intake help with weight loss, so does the branch chain amino acids found in the proteins in the dairy. Protein is thermogenic, which means your metabolism will increase by you consuming it regularly. So dairy foods are high in protein and calcium, so there are two major benefits to its consumption for weight loss.

Where most people move away from consuming milk is when they feel bloated, pained or have diarrhoea from its consumption. Why is this, because we are mammals, we are meant to be weaned off breast milk. However, not everyone suffers from these adverse effects, so why cut it out if it does not hurt you but in reality can help you? So what is the actual digestive issue with dairy?
The majority of the population have an intolerance to the sugar in the dairy product. Milk contains the highest amount of lactose, then yoghurts and soft cheeses. Hard cheese such as parmesan, swiss and cheddar have a very low lactose content.

The easiest way I tend to identify what is the issue, is I ask my client to try a lactose free milk and see what happens. If there is no pain/bloating on the product, it is the lactose that is the issue.
I have written down a breakdown of the majority of milks found available these days that most people have been consuming in replacement of dairy. In order each number stands for calories, grams of carbs, grams of protein, grams of fat and then milligrams of calcium per 200mL of milk.

• Unsweetened Almond milk 40 calories, 2g, 1g, 3g, 200mg
• Oat Milk 59 calories, 6g, 1g, 3g, 7mg
• Skim Milk 71 calories 9g, 7 g, 0g, 250mg
• Goats Milk,101 calories 7g, 6g, 5g, 227mg
• Low fat Milk 102 calories 12g, 7g, 2g, 230mg
• Rice Milk107 calories, 20g, 1g, 2g, 255mg
• Soy Milk 125 calories, 15g, 5g, 5g, 62mg
• Coconut milk 313 calories, 4g, 3g, 32g, 8mg

My main focus when looking at a milk source is the protein, fat and calcium content as I discussed above that protein and calcium are great for weight loss. Fat is also important because again the lower the fat the lower the total calories in the product. You will not find a product much higher in calcium then milk unless the product has been fortified.

So here are my findings:
Almond milk – the lowest calorie, pretty high in the calcium, but no protein. Calcium is fortified into this product. Have a look at the nutritional panel and it will say calcium carbonate was added.

Where skim milk, a few more calories, high in calcium and no fat. Not only that it contains a good source of protein. So in terms of weight loss….it’s GREAT

One product I would like to point out is coconut milk. Super high in calories, almost no protein or calcium. In terms of dairy looks like and what you are trying to replace, coconut milk is probably the worst option. Especially if you are trying to lose body fat. It is 4.5 times the amount of calories!

So in conclusion, my tips are, if you can do it, go for skim cow’s milk, if not reduced fat. However if you feel bloated or have abdominal pain, choose a lactose free product (I like liddels or try zymil). If this still does not work for you, try unsweetened almond milk. However depending upon what you are consuming it with, you will need to supplement it with some other source of protein. E.g. eggs, protein powder, alongside a meat product.

Dairy is not bad for you, so please take the thought out of your head! You just need to learn what is the best option for you! Why remove something that has good nutritional benefits if you do not suffer any adverse reactions to it. Plus its cheaper!

Dehydration decreases sports performance

Water is a vital component of our body composition. It makes up 50-75& of the body and it needs continual supply to help with metabolic functions. Our requirements depend upon a number of genetic factors including height, age, body composition and metabolism. It is also influenced by the weather and activity levels. Fortunately for us we do not just have to consume plain water to reach out requirements. What most people do not realise a number of foods are also comprised almost entirely of water (dairy, fruits, vegetables) and  consuming a wide variety of these foods will also help attain requirements. Depending on the types of foods you consume, 20-30% of requirements can come from food; the rest is needed to be consumed from water/milk/tea/coffee.

Hydration in regards to Sports Performance:

Hypo hydration is when your total body water is below normal. It increases perception of fatigue, elevates your heart rate and body temperature and also decreases mental function for skill work and motor control.

Most types of exercise are adversely affected, especially when completed under hot conditions. For example, did anyone watch the Games athletes compete in Murph? How many athletes suffered from heat stroke or severe dehydration? If you were to weight the athlete before and after the workout, I guarantee they would have lost in excess of 2% body weight (BW) during the event. (for example >1.2kgs for a 60kg athlete). For dizziness and mental/physical deterioration as these athletes suffered they probably would have lost ~10-15% of BW. If they were consuming fluid appropriately during the event, would they have been so fatigued? Nutrition and hydration is so vital, especially for long bouts of exercise or training. For other athletes who are around the 2-4% mark, drinking regularly throughout exercise can prevent any decline in concentration or skill level. Not only this but it will improve perceived exertion, but it will also prevent elevations in heart rate and body temperature.

This signifies its importance in giving an athlete a greater edge of their component and should be something to monitor. Even if you are not an elite athlete, for those who are looking to enhance the own performance in training and increase their capacity to do work, why not ensure you are hydrated. Training sessions will become easier, you will be able to burn more calories and if you want body fat loss, it is another way to assist you.

Hydration test

Weigh yourself pre and post your training session. It is unlikely that you will burn off 1-2kg of fat in a training session; it will be fluid and electrolyte stores. If you want to take it to the next level, if you know roughly what your sweat rate is, then you will be able to know what you need to drink during training to prevent any dehydration. Below I have showed an example of determining dehydration level and sweat rate:

Pre –exercise weight: 65kgs
Post – exercise weight 63kgs
Volume of fluid consumed during the session (1L) – urine losses (~500mL)
Exercise Duration: 2 hours

 Calculations:
Total Body weight percentage loss: 2/65kgs X 100 = 3.07% – signifies dehydration
Fluid Deficit (L): 65-63kgs = 2kgs
Sweat losses: 2kgs + 1kg – 500mL = 2.5kgs
Sweat Rate (L/Hr) = 2.5kgs/2hours = 1.25L/Hr

So for this persons sweat rate, they should be consuming 1.25L of water each hour of training to prevent dehydration and ensure it is not adversely affecting their performance.

Test it out, see if it makes a difference to your training. One other tip I will quickly give this week is to also try and replace 150% of your losses over 4-6 hours after training if possible. I find this will also make a big difference on recovery! So if you have lost 1kg, consume at least 1.5L of water over 4 hours.

Happy drinking 🙂