The Mindset that helped me achieve my Fitness Goals

I wasn’t always fit.

Well.

I was.

And then I wasn’t.

And then I had no idea how I ever was.

It was weird.

Long story short, I was a junior athlete, represented my country internationally, got injured, went to university, stopped athletics and got fat(ter).

At my heaviest I weighed 70 kg on a 5 ft 3 frame. Not obese, but overweight.

And I felt horrendous. I was fully addicted to over-eating and sugar, I was tired and lethargic. I had NO SELF CONTROL which was emotionally stressful. You know the feeling when you really want to stop eating but it feels like you literally can’t? That’s deep. And it sucks. Although I kept most of this internal, and thought it was normal at the time-  I obsessed over my weight and body. It was always a thing, if you know what I mean.

University ball? I need to lose 10lbs. Tagged in picture on facebook? I need to lose 10lbs. Person looked at you funny? It’s cos I’m fat and need to lose 10lbs.

It feels crazy looking back. Turns out my journey to lose weight, to become fit and healthy was about FAR MORE than my weight loss. It was a whole journey of learning to love myself in a real and practical way – but we can discuss that another day.

I tried diet after diet. I’m quite an impatient person, so I usually went for the ‘2 week fix’ protein only no carb run 10 miles every day type of fixes.

Needless to say, they failed.

Year after year.

With each fail I learnt new ways to fail. I learnt the importance of accountability, enjoying my food, maintaining quality of life and meal prepping.

But for me the one thing that changed the game was when I took the time limits off and stopped rushing.

After around two years of yo-yo dieting and no lasting success, I realised that (by God’s grace) 5 years from now I’d be five years older either way.

So I took the time limits off.

I stopped googling ‘how to lose weight fast’. I stopped setting stupid targets of 2lbs weight loss per week. I decided that it didn’t matter how long it took – I would simply never quit. I’d eat a realistic, enjoyable and sustainable diet for however long it took. I’d keep exercising, slowly but surely increasing the intensity – not in a rush, but gradually enough to cope and improve.

I didn’t need to get fit for the ball or get fit for my 21st anymore.

I just needed to be fit – and fit doesn’t have a time limit.

Removing unrealistic time limits from your fitness goals sounds simple – but it is huge. It changes everything. It changes your perspective, your route, your focus and your tactics.

It’s like two people (let’s call them Lindsey and Chukwu) want to get from point A to point B. Point B is 100 miles away. It’s the year 1734 and the only method of travel is by horse back (weird analogy coming up but hear me out..).

Lindsey is inpatient. She wants to get there as fast as possible. She doesn’t pack a lunch or provision for the journey. She sets out with a dodgy plan that promises to cut the journey by 3 days by taking her through short cuts. There are no rest points in this journey plan. No time to feed the horse or nap. But Lindseys like, ‘that’s cool!’, she really wants to get there a.s.a.p so she will simply power through and go extra hard for a shorter period of time.

50 miles into the journey, Lindsey finds herself stuck in front of a river with no bridge to cross – one of the promised short cuts fell a bit short. She’s tired, discouraged and has not reached her destination. She quits and stays by this river for about 6 months because she’s super disheartened – after all she did try super hard. One day she hears about another shortcut. She’s about 6 months behind schedule now so she decides she needs to hurry and sets off on this new short cut. Lindsey does this with great enthusiasm for each new short but she hears of. She tries to take short cuts for the next 5 years.

Chukwu on the other hand, doesn’t take a short cut. In fact he takes about 10 days to simply plan and PREPARE for the trip. It takes him ages. Along the way he even adds in a couple more rest points because he had not anticipated how tiring the journey would be on his horse. It’s tough. It’s difficult, but he keeps on keeping on in the knowledge that he will reach his destination. In the end he arrives 3 days late.

But he arrives. In fact, he arrives 5 years earlier than Lindsey – not that he minds, because he wasn’t rushing. His only aim was to arrive.

And that’s the whole point right?

To actually achieve your goals.

I truly believe that I achieved my fitness goals the moment I chose to stop rushing. The moment I said – I don’t care how long it takes, I’ll take the long, trusted, genuine route. No short cuts, no fad diets. I’ll keep going until I get there.

Practically speaking, this change of mindset changed the game for me in many ways:

  1. I improved my diet. No instant fixes, no cutting out of whole food groups
  2. I didn’t get discouraged when I failed because my goals were realistic so I was much less likely to fail.
  3. I wasn’t running late any more. When you are rushing for a target – it’s like running late. There’s no room or margin to allow for error. Suddenly, my errors (e.g woops just ate 10 digestive biscuits) didn’t matter any more because I wasn’t in a rush and I had margin. This meant I didn’t beat myself up over my inevitable mistakes because they were already accounted for
  4. I enjoyed the process
  5. I was happier

 

And here I am.

However many years later with a lifestyle that I truly love, healthy food that I genuinely enjoy (honestly didn’t know this was possible at one point) a body fat of 14.6% that I am maintaining without any strenuous effort, and a truly happy relationship with my body.

It’s a process, learning to both love and look after your body. Like and good relationship it takes time and patience.

Breath in, breathe out.

There’s no need to rush.

You’ve got this.

One step at a time.

 

xoxo Dr Saz

3 ways to be Healthier in 2019

lool

 

New year, new me, new buzz new goals?!

I LOVE IT!!

If you haven’t seen my New years eve vlog yet, then you may or may not know that I lowkey LIVE for the magical momentum that a new year brings. That’s why you won’t see me hating on your goals. You won’t see me slying rolling through with pessimistic nillism. Call me a consumer at heart because wow I BUY INTO THE BUZZ.

For me, the new year is the perfect opportunity to reflect, set goals and make valuable life changes.

Will you achieve all 58 of your goals? No. Probably not. But does that mean that you shouldn’t try?

Absolutely not!

You could achieve one! Maybe even three! Every success is a success to be celebrated.

With that in mind here are

3 ways to be healthier in 2019.

1. Rest.

CAN I GET AN AMEN?!

Physically, Spiritually, emotionally – REST.

This point could be applied to many areas of life. We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS and it’s important to take.. no. It’s important to MAKE time to rest.

More specifically – sleep.

Sleep deprivation can have significant consequences on your health. Sleeping poorly regularly can put you at risk of heart disease, obesity and can significantly shorten your life expectancy – madness right?! Don’t believe me ? I don’t blame you. Click here to read my research packed post on the health risks of too little sleep.

Aim for 8 hours a night.

Prioritise it, defend this restful time with all your might. You NEED to sleep, and if you’re anything like me (former 6 hour per night sleeper, repentant, saved by grace) you may find that the rest of your life will glow up as a result.

 

2. Get active.

We are sedentary.

We are literally the most sedentary generation that has ever lived. We walk to the car or bus, then walk to our desk at work, sit down for 8 hours then maybe do a 30 minutes gym class after work if we are lucky. Don’t get me wrong, 30 minutes of exercise is great. That gym class is awesome – well done! But this year I challenge you to make activity a part of your life. Try getting off the bus a stop early and walking a little further. Maybe invest in a bike (I have done this!) and make activity a normal part of your every day life rather than an additional task.

Do you NEED to take the lift? Why not take the stairs instead?

We were made to move!! Make activity an integral part of your life rather than a one off special event. Your future, older self will thank you for it.

 

3. Mind your alcohol

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but alcohol can sneak up on you.

One minute you’re an 18 year old fresher feeling fit as a fiddle the day after consuming an ungodly amount of gin, the next minute you’re a full time working adult drinking two glasses of wine per night but experiencing near death trauma the morning after you consume anything more than three.

In our British society, alcohol is a regular, social and pretty normal part of life. But alcohol can have big effect on your health when consumed excessively.

And you may be pretty surprised to find out what is considered excessive (I’ll tell you in a min 1 sec).

Long term excessive alcohol consumption can lead to brain and liver damage, nervous system damage, mouth and throat cancer and stroke.

You won’t see the results immediately, you may manage work and life along side an excessive drinking habit – but the risk is there. It’s real.

Of course, there are short term effects of alcohol consumption too. Most of us know about the high amounts of calories alcohol contains (note for those looking to lose weight), and the health risky behaviour one can partake in while drunk (e.g lost wallet, lost friends, lost dignity), but did you know that alcohol can disrupt your sleep pretty badly too?

Yes, that glass of wine might help you fall asleep quicker – but once asleep alcohol actually decreases the quality of your sleep. One way it does this is by behaving as a diuretic (makes you pee more), meaning you may get up several times in the night to urinate. Another way alcohol disrupts sleep is by changing your sleep cycle and reducing the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. Instead you spend more time in the less restful REM sleep.

Reducing your alcohol intake is GOOD. There’s no perfect level, but aim for no more than 14 units per week – this is considered low risk.

As an estimate – one shot of spirit = 1 unit. One glass of wine – 2 units. One bottle of cider = 3 units. So you can see how if you are drinking two glasses of wine each night with dinner – you’re very innocently and easily exceeding the recommended amount.

Cutting down on alcohol will help you to save money, improve the quality of your sleep and reduce your risk of long term health damage while looking after your temple of a body.

If you struggle with cutting down on alcohol and feel you may be dependent on it – there are helplines.

And that’s it.

 

3 simple steps that can help you treat your body like the gift that it is.

These are all steps that I’ve slowly implemented since the start of the year. There’s no pressure or stress – I don’t beat myself up when I opt to take the lift instead of stairs after a longass day. But I do make an effort. Every extra step, cycle, hour of sleep, glass of water instead of wine – it all helps for habits that will impact my life, my health and inevitably the life and health of those around me.

 

Do you have any New Year resolutions? I’d love to hear them!

 

Xoxo

Dr Saz

Why You NEED to Exercise

When I first started exercising, I wasn’t thinking about my health.I know, I know, that’s shameful right? But it’s true!

As a 20 year old student, the concept of maybe or maybe not having a heart attack at 55 years old didn’t motivate me half as much as the thought of having a banging six pack and toned legs.

And do you know what’s even worse? I’m not ashamed of that. Heck I don’t even regret it. My motivations – as vain as they may have been  – actually lead to me developing healthy habits that are likely saving my life.

Yep. Regular exercise can save your life.

That seems dramatic right? And if you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you are healthy, it may even seem irrelevant. A lot of us aren’t in a job where we see the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle take their toll on the human body, but I see it day in day out and my goodness it is relevant.

There is an OVERWHELMING amount of medical evidence to show the ways in which exercise can help you.

I’ll hit you with some statistics, and to help them seem a little more real for you,  each time you read one of these I want you to imagine the percentage written is the increased chance of you winning the lottery the next time you buy a ticket. Got it? Let’s go.

83% lower risk of osteoarthritis. SHOULD WE STOP HERE BECAUSE YOU BASICALLY WON THE LOTTERY BUT OH NO THERE IS MORE

35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

50% lower risk of colon cancer

68% lower risk of hip fracture

30% lower risk of depression

30% lower risk of dementia

20% lower risk of breast cancer

50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

HOW MANY LOTTERIES DID YOU JUST WIN AND WHEN ARE YOU SENDING ME MY SHARE?!

Seriously though.

This is a lottery win.

Ask anyone with a cancer diagnosis what they’d give for a lower chance of having it.

See families who have watched their loved ones change due to dementia. Would that morning cycle would have been worth it?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, please exercise. Even if you are a lucky enough to naturally be straight up 12/10 with legs long enough the BE the Victoria Secret model runway and abs so defined you often use them to grate your cheese – you STILL NEED TO EXERCISE.

Despite what my youtube channel and society may often suggest, changing the way you look is far from the biggest benefit of regular exercise. And don’t worry – fitness doesn’t need to be your new THING. You don’t need to sprout up a new FitnessByChiChi instagram page with more booty pics than a Pampers ad. You don’t even have to join a gym if you don’t want to.

Exercise can be fun . You simply need to find your fit.

Maybe cycling to work could save you from that horribly depressing morning commute. Perhaps starting dancing lessons with your partner could get you guys back on your feet in more ways than one. Maybe joining a sport you used to love is the way forward. Or maybe doing some of this super cool youtubers 10 minute follow along workout videos? What’s her name again? Cassey Ho Sara Sienna ! (Click here to exercise with me – it’s free!)

However you choose to do it, please, please do it.

We weren’t designed to live these modern sedentary lifestyles.

We NEED to exercise.

 

xoxo

Dr Saz