Podfit
18th October 2018
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The Christmas season is fast approaching! Now Christmas can be a stressful time with all the planning, preparation and rushing around. At some points you may find yourself wondering if it is all worth it! Throughout this period the temptation to indulge and risk of deviating from your fitness routine is high! So this article is here to give you 12 helpful tips to help keep you on track whilst still being able to enjoy the celebrations.

1. Create a Christmas mantra

A  mantra is an affirmation to motivate and inspire you to be your best self. It is typically a positive phrase or statement that you use to affirm the way you want to live your life. Its purpose is to provide motivation and encouragement to you when you need to focus your mind to achieve a goal. You should create yourself a mantra which is personal and specific to you and your goals. You could even try to make this mantra festive and Christmas related. An example could be “I am going to gift myself with the body I want this Christmas”

2. Fail to plan, plan to fail

You should always plan in order to limit the decisions you have to make throughout the day and give you clarity and structure! This will help you stick to your diet and fitness routine and limit the risk of decision fatigue.

Firstly you should plan your meals. Planning your meals takes away the stress of having to figure out what you are going to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

Planning for meals also allows you to incorporate healthy eating within what you can afford. It is important to take into account your lifestyle/schedule/commitment. If you are not willing or do not have have time to make an elaborate healthy dish, then do not plan for that dish and buy groceries for that dish if it is unlikely or unrealistic for you to have or make that dish.

For example, I know that I have a busy life and that I do not always have time to make breakfast/lunch/dinner so I try to plan meals that are healthy and easy to make, but also affordable, durable, and that will last a certain amount of time, and and I only buy groceries that fit into this plan.

Secondly you should plan your exercise. Your should set clear routines and goals when exercising. You should know at the start of the week what exercise you intend to do. Whether this be go for a run, swim, attend the gym etc. This can then be even more specific as you should never walk into the gym and not know what you are going to do or go for a run without a distance or time in mind. You will rarely exercise effectively if you don’t plan your workout or set goals for your session.

3. Don’t go places hungry

The truth is, we are not our ideal, best- thinking, balanced selves when we are hungry. We overestimate how much we need to eat (“eat with our eyes”), we overeat, we eat things we shouldn’t eat, we say things we don’t mean, etc. Our primal instinct and drive to eat takes over and nothing else really matters.

So it is good to not go places hungry, even if there will be food at the place you are going to. Generally, it takes time for food to arrive at the table, for people to decide what they want to eat, for hosts to have things ready to roll, for social and interpersonal activities to take place, etc. which means that going hungry to any place makes you more likely to be irritable and on a one-track mind to get your physiological needs met. Going to places hungry also doesn’t support the best decision-making so it’s good practice to eat something before you go.

4. Decide on indulgences beforehand

Throughout the Christmas period it is easy to over indulge. While this can be avoided with the will of steel, sometimes we will decide to give our wills of steel a day (or two? Or more?) off.

When this happens or when you decide to eat as you should not be eating, be selective in what you are eating and when you are eating it. A treat does not hurt every now and then, but it is a waste to eat a sweet or food item that we do not really care for just because we can.

If you are going to cheat, cheat sparingly and selectively.  Do not waste your cheating opportunities on stuff that you do not really want to eat and are only eating because you are craving something sweet/salty/etc. or because it happens to be around.

5. Be decisive

Indecision can be exhausting so decisiveness conserves both our physical and our emotional energy. It helps us to reduce procrastination, become more productive and organised, and gives us a greater peace of mind by eliminating anxiety and improving our confidence. When setting goals and making food choices your should be decisive and make a firm decision, then stick to this decision. You will gain so much more control over your life and your confidence will dramatically increase from simply being decisive.

6. Drink lots of water

Water is healthy for you and necessary for our bodies to survive. Our bodies are 50- 70% water and the rest blood. You can survive up to eight weeks without food as long as you have water. I do not recommend trying this out unless your life is such that this is unavoidable but rather include this to highlight the importance of water. For many cultures, water is life or is associated with life.

You should be drinking water throughout the day, whenever you are hungry, whenever you are bored, whenever you remember, and before meals. In fact, you should be drinking water right now. Your body needs an average of 8-10 cups of water to replenish the water that our bodies lose each day a n d it takes more water to replenish our water stores when we are involved in activities, heat, etc. It also takes time for your body to absorb the water that you take in and your body cannot take in all the water that it needs in one sitting.

7. Lower expectations

Expecting too much of yourself is a sure-fire way to increase stress levels. Ask yourself what you think you should or must be doing. Sometimes the expectations we have aren’t helpful, especially if we feel others might judge us.  SO throughout this busy time don’t try and cram in too much. Taking a break will give you time to recharge your batteries before the New Year starts.

8. Remember what Christmas is about

Among the Christmas panic and stress you should always keep in mind what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about having fun, celebrating the year gone by and spending time with the people you love. Try to enjoy yourself and relax,  stay positive and think about what makes Christmas great.

9. Routine is key

The word routine can often be frown upon and seen as being restrictive and boring. However routines can be fun and having one can lead to many health benefits. With the Christmas period being hectic and stressful a routine will be especially beneficial. A solid routine can result in:

  • Better stress levels lead to improved mental health, more time to relax and less anxiety. A lack of healthy stress management techniques can put you at greater risk for heart disease and negatively impact your overall health.
  • Better sleep will leave you refreshed. Your daily routine influences your quality of rest. Your sleep scehdule and bedtime habits affect your mental sharpness, performance, emotional well-being and energy level. It’s best if you can maintain a consistent time for waking and going to bed.
  • Better health is a result of just a little extra planning. Set the alarm a little earlier and you’ll have time to exercise and eat breakfast, fuelling your body for the day. Even a quick (and healthy) breakfast will get you energised. Whether you like to just go for a run or go to the gym for a bigger workout, it’s important make time for exercise.

10. Learn to say no

This one can be a hard one, especially around the holidays, festive days, celebratory days, or any days with food outside of your healthy eating plan, but the truth is that in order to lose weight and to maintain weight loss, you will have to say “no” to a lot of things that you want to say “yes” to.

The food will look great, smell great, and everyone around you will look happy as they eat the food that you too would like to be eating. It takes strength and willpower, but you have to implement the “no” and the self-control if you want to lose weight and maintain weight loss.

11. Get up and make movement your “modus operandi”

You may feel like throughout the Christmas period that you do not have time to exercise and that there is simply too much else to do. However it is essential to exercise, even if it is simply taking the stairs instead of the lift in the shops, as our bodies were made to be in motion and we suffer mental, physical, and spiritual effects when we are not moving sufficiently and when we are not getting enough activity in our daily lives. There are numerous articles and research that has been done highlighting the detrimental health.

So get moving and find and way that works for you to track it. It can be with a pedometer, an activity log, a daily break checklist, or a hybrid of methods but you’ll want to hold yourself accountable and want to see that activity “add up.” It also helps with consistency and routine in making movement part of your “modus operandi.”

12. Reduce sugars in your diet

Now throughout the Christmas period there is so much more sugary foods which are put right in front of you, whether this be a advent calendar, box of celebrations or a bowl of Christmas pudding. A high sugar diet can lead to health conditions such as:

  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Dental plaque and cavities

Reducing the amount of sugar in the diet can help reduce the risks for these conditions. Replacing sugary foods with healthful ones can help a person get all of their essential vitamins and minerals. It may also help a person lose weight. To help you do this you should try:

  • Reading food labels
  • Avoid simple carbs such as white rice and white pasta
  • Avoid artificial sugars and sweeteners
  • Do not drink sugar (fizzy drinks etc)
  • Plan your meals
  • Focus and unprocessed whole foods

So there you have it! Try use these tips to help you get through the Christmas period and help you stick to your goals. Merry Christmas from all of us here at Podfit!!!


Podfit
12th October 2018
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Why do we make unhealthy choices that prevent us from losing weight — even when we know we should do better?

If you ask most people, they will say that poor food and drink choices are a result of a “lack of willpower.”

In fact, you may be surprised just how much small daily decisions impact the willpower you have for important choices. And most importantly, it turns out there are simple choices you can make that will help you master your willpower and make better decisions on a more consistent basis.

About 40% of the decisions we make are made on autopilot. So the first thing to do is to retrain the brain to make automatically smart choices. This takes time and practice and I will discuss this in another article.

Why Some Criminals Don’t Get a Fair Hearing

So this might seem a little off topic, but It is fundamental to you uderstanding decison fatigues. In a research study published by the National Academy of Sciences, psychologists examined the factors that impact whether or not a judge approves a criminal for parole.

The researchers examined 1000 judicial rulings over a 10-month period. All of the rulings were made by a parole board judge, who was determining whether or not to allow the criminal to be released from prison on parole.

Now, you might assume that the judges were influenced by factors like the type of crime committed or the particular laws that were broken.

But the researchers found exactly the opposite. The choices made by judges are impacted by all types of things that shouldn’t have an effect in the courtroom. The most notable factor was the time of day!

What the researchers found was that at the start of the day, a judge was likely to give a favorable ruling about 65 percent of the time. However, as the morning wore on and the judge became drained from making more and more decisions, the likelihood of a criminal getting a favorable ruling steadily dropped to zero.

After taking a lunch break, however, the judge would return to the courtroom refreshed and the likelihood of a favorable ruling would immediately jump back up to 65 percent. And then, as the hours moved on, the percentage of favorable rulings would fall back down to zero by the end of the day.

This trend held true for more than 1,100 cases. It didn’t matter what the crime was — murder, rape, theft, embezzlement — a criminal was much more likely to get a favorable response if their parole hearing was scheduled in the morning (or immediately after a food break) than if it was scheduled near the end of a long session.

What’s Going on Here?

As it turns out, your willpower is like a muscle. And similar to the muscles in your body, willpower can get tired when it is used repeatedly. Every time you make a decision, it’s like doing another rep in the gym. And similar to how your muscles get tired at the end of a workout, the strength of your willpower fades as you make more decisions.

This phenomenon is known as decision fatigue. When the judge on a parole board experiences decision fatigue, they deny more parole requests.

This makes sense. When your willpower is fading and your brain is tired of making decisions, it’s easier just to say no and keep everyone locked up than it is to debate whether or not someone is trustworthy enough to leave prison. At the beginning of the day, a judge will give each case a fair shot. But as their energy starts to fade? Deny, deny, deny.

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue happens every day in your life as well. If you have a particularly decision-heavy day at work, then you come home feeling drained. You might want to go to the gym and workout, but your brain would rather default to the easy decision: sit on the couch. That’s decision fatigue.

The same thing is true if you find it hard to muster up the willpower at night to cook a healthy meal for dinner. You will come home, open the wine and order a takeaway. Tha’t not going to help you lose weight. That’s decision fatigue.

And while decision fatigue is something that we all deal with, there are a few ways that you can organize your life and design your day to master your willpower.

5 Ways to Overcome Decision Fatigue and Boost Willpower

1. Plan daily decisions the night before.

There will always be decisions that pop up each day that you can’t plan for. That’s fine. It’s just part of life.

But for most of us, the decisions that drain us are the ones that we make over and over and over again on a daily bais. Wasting precious willpower on these decisions — which could be automated or planned in advance — is one reason why many people feel so drained at the end of the day.

These are examples of daily decisions

What am I going to wear to work? What should I eat for breakfast? Where shall I get my lunch from? What groceries shall I buy? Shall I exercise today? Should I weigh myself tomorrow? And so on.

All of those examples above, can be decided in 3 minutes or less the night before, which means you won’t be wasting your willpower on those choices the next day and you are much more likely to lose weight if you reduce the decision making process. Taking time to plan out, simplify, and design the repeated daily decisions will give you more mental space to make the important choices each day.

2. Do the most important thing first.

If there was the most important court case in the world, when would you want the judge to hear it?

Based on the research above, first thing in the morning. You’d want their best attention, energy, and focus to go toward the decisions that were most important.

The same thing goes for your work and life. What’s the most important thing for you right now?

Is it getting in shape? Is it writing that book you have inside of you? Is it learning to eliminate stress and relax? That’s why I train first thing in the morning, usually around 6am, when ever I can. I make exercise my modus operandi and I don’t make that choice when I get up. It’s pre determined in my long term planning and entered into my diary.

Whatever it is for you, put your best energy toward it. If you have to wake up 30 minutes earlier, then do that. I’m a huge fan of getting up early.

3. Stop making decisions. Start making commitments.

I think advice like, “you just need to decide to do it” gets dished around too much.

Yes, of course you need to decide to do the things that are important to you, but more than that you need to schedule them into your life.

We all have things that we say are important to us.

“I really want to feel fitter.”

“I really want to lose 40 pounds.”

“I really want to get started on XYZ.”

Unfortunately, most of us simply hope that we’ll have the willpower and motivation to make the right decisions each day.

Rather than hoping that I’ll make the right choice each day, I’ve found much more success by scheduling the things that are important to me.

For example, I scedule in gym sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6am. I have a 2 week plan of the food I’m going to eat and If I forget that food, I have a back up plan of 2 shops I will get my lunch from when I am at work, to reduce the decion making process on things that I can control. As a business owner, the buck stops at me and I have enough decisions to make in my day. I’m sure you do too.

If you sit back and hope that you’ll be able to make the right decisions each day, then you will certainly fall victim to decision fatigue and a lack of willpower.

4. If you have to make good decisions later in the day, then eat something first.

It’s no coincidence that the judges became better decision makers after eating. Now, if you cram french fries into your veins every day, then I doubt that you’ll enjoy the same results. But taking a break to feed your brain is a wonderful way to boost willpower.

This is especially important because although it’s great to do the most important thing first, it’s not always possible to organise your day like that.

When you want to get better decisions from your mind, put better food into your body.

5. Simplify.

Whether you are trying to start eating a healthy diet, the biggest frustration for most people is the feeling that you need to use willpower on an hourly basis.

Find ways to simplify your life. If something isn’t important to you, eliminate it. Making decisions about unimportant things, even if you have the time to do so, isn’t a benign task. It’s pulling precious energy and willpower from the things that matter.

Willpower is the one area of life where you can improve your output by reducing the number of inputs.

The Bottom Line

Willpower isn’t something you have or something you lack. It rises and falls. And while it’s impossible to maximise your willpower for every moment of every day, it is possible to make a few changes to your day and your routine so that you can get the most of your decisions and make consistent progress on the things that are important to you.