If you’re anything like me, which I imagine you are if you’re reading this blog (or you’re just my friends and family who support me – and thanks), then its not necessarily just understanding nutrition that is the gateway to your dream body.
Like, you don’t scoff down on a Big Mac, or pick at a bag of Tesco’s Finest Cheese and Caramelised Onion crisps because you think they will help you achieve your goal and feel good. You usually do it for one of these reasons:
- You’re drunk
- You’re hungover
- You’re feeling low/sorry for yourself or stressed
- You felt you deserved a ‘treat’
- You’re bored
If there are any other reasons then let me know and we can investigate and address them.
But I imagine your woes will fit in under the above. So lets pick these bastards apart.
This is the first one because it is the easiest to talk about. In basic terms – you’re in trouble. Your limbic system (the part of your brain that is very primal and only thinks in the now and the survival) has taken over and you have lost self-control.
If you were say, at a wedding reception – then the buffet is looking like a dream right now. If you’re on your way home from the pub then a kebab is singing your name. If you have managed to get home unscathed – then suddenly that takeaway menu or Deliveroo app are both just a few clicks or a phone-call away. How the hell do you resist?
Few things you can do the minimise the damage –
- Eat before you go out. Have a decent amount in your tum tum – pre-rave curry is one of my sister and I’s favourite – loads of veg – even some cheeky potatoes if you’re going to dance the night away. Just make sure you’re not running on empty before you even started
- Water water water! It seems obvious, and you know this, but if you’re drinking always order a glass of water with every round. Not only will you not get as drunk, but you’ll fill up that belly of yours at the same time
- Make the right choices – so if you’re in the pizza place, just have some (non-deep fried) chicken wings. This is damage limitation time. Ditch the carbs and add salad where possible. Your drunk self will thank you in the morning
If you wake up in the morning after a night out, half eaten ham sandwich in one hand (perhaps some still in your mouth… ew don’t recommend it), fully clothed lay on your bed (and yes that was me). Or with your mum and sister having to carry you upstairs as you fell asleep with your head in the fridge (again me, but happily I didn’t get as far as eating that time) – then the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up for it.
Today is a new day, so let’s start afresh. Especially if you have nailed the rest of the week – you’re allowed a bloody cheat day so lets write it off as that and move on.
LORD HAVE MERCY!
This is the HARDEST thing to resist. Your body is SCREAMING for carbs. Its BEGGING for fat, and its CRYING OUT for sugar. So if it isn’t your cheat day (and I mean, do try and time them correctly) again, it’s time to call in our old friend damage limitation.
- Have a full English breakfast
Yep you heard me right. Get out the EGGS, MUSHROOMS, SPINACH, AVOCADO, TOMATOES and EVEN one slice of BACON or a CHEEKY SAUSAGE if you want (one). That’s right – give yourself some SUSTINENCE that is actually still bloomin good for you. And like seriously – will you really miss that bread and hasbrown or beans whilst you’re chowing down on gorgeous real nutritious food? Nope – and you’ll fill yourself up and feel great.
- Have a roast
Nope, your ears haven’t deceived you. Chuck a delicious bird in the oven, get the vegetables into the steamer, and bloody enjoy it – ditch the potatoes (unless its a cheat day), and fill yourself up on heaven. This is actually a favourite of mine during the week for lunch at work. A massive pile of veggies with a tiny bit of Bisto gravy.
Comfort on a plate – whilst hungover = satisfied.
- Go for a run
Or swim, or class or a walk. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing exercise wise. Get your heart pumping, sweat out the booze. Spark those endorphins (happy hormones) and feel a bit of an achievement. Like YEAH F*CKERS, I was out DOING SOMETHING on a JEFFING SUNDAY! Honestly, you feel so so smug – and you get to do that weird nod ‘hello’ thing to passers-by that only happens on a Sunday (sorry, this only happens on a Sunday in London. Anywhere North of Watford – this is just called common courtesy during walks).
You’re feeling low/sorry for yourself or you’re STRESSED
This is a toughy. Like I get it. I have BEEN THERE! It might be hormones, or just life has given you a kick in the kidneys for no reason. If it’s something deeper, then take a read of my blog on ‘taking ownership of life’. If its something smaller then try making a distraction list.
These are all the things that you can do in the evenings/weekends that bring you tiny bits of joy.
For me its:
- Long bath whilst watching Coronation Street (bliss)
- Painting my toenails or finger nails
- Writing this blog
- Planning clothes to wear
- Editing photos of holidays and putting them into a scrapbook
- Drinking herbal teas
- Cooking something healthy
- Planning future trips and holidays
- Listening to music
- 10 minute meditation app
- Picking up a book
You might take inspiration from this, or you might have a completely different list. The thing that it needs to have in common however is these need to be little, minimal effort things. (We will come onto the bigger things later).
These things need to give you an instant hit of ‘Ahhhhhhhh’, or ‘Yeahhhh!’ or even ‘Mmmmmmmm’. (Ask my boyfriend, whenever I get into the bath there are lots of happy de-stress vibes that radiate through the flat. Or is that the lavender?).
They’re tiny distractions that takes you elsewhere, and give you another focus – and before you know it its bedtime and you’ve avoided eating shit.
So write out your distraction list NOW.
And next time you come home feeling like shit from work, then pick one and DO IT.
I realise, as a caveat that I don’t have children – and that brings with it, a whole NUTHA LEVEL of stress shit – and you’re like ‘Yeah Lucy, I had a bath back in 20o3 that was ambushed by my kids and was not even worth it.’
Then I would suggest there are a few things you can do:
- Are there distractions you can do with your kids? (e.g colouring, cooking or reading a story?)
- Can your partner help (if you have one, if you don’t then point 3 might help) – if you sit them down and say – look this is going to benefit you because I won’t be coming home and drinking too much wine/eating 17 sausages/getting angry at you because you don’t do enough… I will take 30 minutes for myself and feel so much better
- Can you make it, through the daylight hours doing all of your kickass parent stuff, then once the kids are in bed (AND I REALISE SOME OF THEM NEVER SLEEP) – but when the little angel(s) are asleep THEN you have your time hopefully
No matter what work/life pressures you have on yourself – do you not think that you’re worth like 30 minutes for YOU per DAY? Yes, the answer is yes.
You felt you deserved a ‘treat’
Omg this is so me. Like I have a few days of smashing it, and then I am like ‘Dag nammit I think I deserve some wine/cheese/sausage/chips’. I mean I have WORKED SOO HARRRRDDDD.
At this point my lovely and very patient boyfriend (who is a bloody whippet and never puts on even a pound of weight – sob) raises an eyebrow, tactfully takes my arm in his hands and says; “We can have XX to eat, but I don’t want to have to deal with you later crying that you shouldn’t have eaten XX, and now you’re bloated, and ‘how will you fit into that skirt at the weekend – WOE IS ME”.
I am like “What on earth would give you THAT impression. I DESERVE this treat! Look, I have lost like three pounds this week… its all FINE”. Then I think back to every single other time this has happened, and understand where this narrative has come from.
So again there are two strands to dealing with is:
Is it your cheat day?
Yes – crack on.
No – then just have one line prepared for yourself –
“Lucy, you have done so well, and on Friday we’re going out for a delicious meal. So let’s wait till then, and you can be so proud and enjoy it.” REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT!
You cannot argue with your limbic system (remember it is more powerful that your ‘human’ rationale side of your brain), it always wins. So you have to be clear and concise – then go back to your distraction list.
The other problem here, is that people completely overestimate the impact of exercise – like you should be moving about and doing whatever it is that gets your body and heart going around 4/5 times per week.
But you shouldn’t be clocking up the calories to use later, or thinking a half hour run will cancel out a three course meal. Believe me, it doesn’t. Think of your exercise as just bread and butter for being healthy and happy – and focus on nutrition for weight loss.
So firstly, the obvious thing is going to your distraction list.
But I was lay around the other day (I was actually poorly which is why I had time on my hands), and I was wondering why I had this constant inner turmoil and battle against food, and tried to remember back to when it wasn’t so hard… when I was at university.
Don’t get me wrong, I ate a lot of crap then (who doesn’t), but when I was at uni I spent my time thinking about this massive big picture and I had all these DREAMS and ASPIRATIONS! I was writing essays, doing work experience – working towards something BIGGER! Now I am living those bigger things (which I am so so grateful for), but it’s like – what now. So this is where you need to find some BIGGER THINGS.
What would you like to achieve outside of work (or inside work)?
Is it a language, painting or an instrument you want to nail? Is it a history class you fancy, or do you wish you had passed your maths GCSE back in the day, and would like to complete now? Would you feel better if you had a pet to look after, or deep down do you want to become a parent?
Some of the BIG THINGS are MUCH BIGGER than others – but with those BIG THINGS come CHALLENGE – and us humans bloody RELISH them.
We are like pigs in SHIT when we can roll around in self-achievement, development and celebration. We are not designed to stay still – metaphorically and physically.
Plus, I bet your bottom dollar, if you’re really struggling with something that’s slightly damaging (be it food, alcohol or drugs) that there is actually something MISSING because you’re not STRIVING.
I know this is a biggie to think about – or maybe actually it isn’t. Maybe it’s one of those things you knew deep down anyway. Either way – address it and MAKE A CHANGE.
On that note, I am off to buy a hamster.