Fitness and Exercise, Mindset and Motivation

How to Survive the Festive Season

The festive season is well underway now and we’re starting to get in to the season of parties, drinks and over indulging. It can be pretty overwhelming and if you are trying to maintain or lose weight then the prospect of the next couple weeks or so can be quite scary. I’m very much of the opinion that life should be all about balance and you should definitely enjoy the festivities but it doesn’t hurt to have a little plan in place to help you get through it relatively unscathed right?

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So here are a few tips to help keep you on track.

#1 Be kind to yourself and try not to panic

Over-eating on a night out does NOT make you a bad person. Your food or drink choices do not reflect your value as a person so if you have a blip and end up splurging when you don’t mean to, it’s ok. So try to remember to stay positive, even when things don’t quite go according to plan. The festive season is challenging for everyone and there’s no point berating yourself over a few extra mince pies. Practice self-compassion, forgive yourself and don’t let it spoil the festive season. Just pick youself up, dust yourself off and start again. Remember, if you’ve been losing weight you didn’t lose it all in one night and you won’t put it all back on again in one night either!

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#2 Choose your battles

Be realistic about how you’re going to handle the festivities. Saying “I’m not going to drink any alcohol at all until the New Year” or “I’m not going to eat any mince pies or chocolates at all” probably isn’t very realistic, but perhaps “I’m only going to drink at Christmas parties” or “I’m not going to eat any mince pies or chocolates at work” might be a bit more doable?

Look at your diary and decide which events are worth relaxing a bit for and having a splurge if you want it – it might be that you decide to enjoy a drink with certain friends or at certain events, and at others you stick to the soft stuff. Use your own criteria to decide which events you want to splurge a bit more at – it doesn’t matter how you decide, the important thing is that it’s worth it to you. One event a week is a good target,  so choose the special events and then don’t worry about them – just look forward to enjoying them guilt-free. Now that doesn’t mean go mad and eat and drink just for the sake of it, but just relax and enjoy having whatever you want to have that day/night.

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#3 Make a plan

If you’ve decided which events to relax and splurge at that naturally means there are some events where you will want to be more careful. Perhaps you’ve decided that you will be more careful at your work-do, but allow yourself to relax at the xmas drinks with the neighbours.  So you have a few options – you can always politely decline to attend – that gets you out of it altogether… but I’m guessing you may well want to be there, so you need a plan.

First thing to remember is that food or drink is not the reason you’re there – the reason you’re there is to share time with people in your life. Focus on the people and the activities rather than the food and drinks.

Simple strategies include ensuring you’ve had something to eat before going to cocktails or drinks gatherings, or ensuring you have dinner plans already in place for afterwards. If it’s a dinner event then just try to make the best possible choices, fill up with veggies and get some protein in, and drink lots of water. If you are drinking alcohol then stick to lighter beers, white wines and other lower calorie drinks and try to avoid sugar-laden cocktails.

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#4 Plan for the problems

Even though you have a plan sticking to it may be easier said than done. Try to think about the possible obstacles in advance. Are buffets your weakness? Do you tend to not eat enough earlier in the meal and then end up over doing it on dessert? Are the canapes your weak point? Or is it the bowls of crisps….

Try to have some alternative plans in place – for buffets commit yourself to one plate of satisfying food only, don’t go back for seconds. Take your time to pick the healthiest options you can and eat them slowly and mindfully. Make a decision before you go not to dip in to the canapes and crisps and ensure you’re not too hungry when you arrive so you’re not starving when they come round. Making an active decision before you even get there will help you to resist them more easily.

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#5 Be sensible and realistic

You have to be realistic about the situations you’re facing. There’s no point planning on just eating carrot sticks all evening at a drinks party – you will fail, no question. So be smart about your strategy and honest about what you can manage. If you have a friend going with you share your plan with them – they might be keen to help you and give you some moral support – it’s a lot easier to say no to those canapes when you’re both refusing them.

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#6 Don’t forget all those other good habits

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you need to forget all those other great habits you’ve developed. So still have a healthy, protein filled breakfast, drink lots of water, keep junk food out of the house, get your daily dose of vitamin D, walk as much as you can, when you’re not out partying focus on good quality sleep, and get to the gym or do a home workout whenever you’re able.

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#7 Celebrate your successes

When you skip that dessert, or stop after that one glass of mulled wine, or avoid the bag of crisps –  celebrate it. It’s so important that you associate positive feelings with these healthy behaviours as that’s how they become habits. Simply smiling sends signals to your brain that something good is happening so giving yourself a big grin when you skip those desserts will already make it easier to do it again in future.

By focusing on the little successes you’ll also feel like you’re making progress. So take the time to make a mental note and congratulate yourself – you deserve it!

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#8 Learn from the inevitable blips 

As well as little successes there will be little slip-ups too. Don’t panic!

It’s normal, you’re only human! If your plan of no dessert ends up with four mincepies and a dollop of ice cream then it isn’t the end of the world. Try not to dwell on it, just because you had dessert when you didn’t mean to doesn’t mean you need to abandon all hopes of exercising self control over the holidays. Just acknowledge it and think about what you could have done to prevent it? And “being a better person” or “being stronger” and other self-damaging beliefs aren’t the answer – think about actual practical things like were you too hungry that day?  Did you get enough protein in? Could you have filled up with more veggies? Could you have left the table before dessert?

Or maybe you just didn’t realise that you’d be served your favourite dessert that evening – had you known maybe that night would have been one of your splurge nights….

Whatever the issue just acknowledge it, learn from it and move on.

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#9 Adapt!

You’re going to find some things easy, others hard, you’ll have successes and setbacks and you’ll find what works for you and what really doesn’t. So be ready to adapt things if you need to. If the plan works well this year then next year it may still work but your circumstances will be slightly different  – friends may change, your job may change, life moves on so you have to as well. Your strategies will need to adapt but the basic principles will still be the same.  So don’t worry about needing to stick to a rigid plan – flexibility is the key!

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#10 Enjoy and find the joy!

It’s a wonderful time of year to connect and reconnect with friends and family – enjoy it, and find the joy in all the things you do this season. Don’t let worries about food and weight overshadow all your activities – cherish the happy moments.

Enjoy 🙂 xxx

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Fitness and Exercise, Mindset and Motivation

Winter Motivation

Are you lacking in motivation now it’s getting colder and darker? Check out my article over at Sundried for my top tips to stay motivated this winter 🥶🤗 xx

(And why not treat yourself to some nice new winter kit to help with that motivation – 50 % off everything on their site with the code ‘NANCY’ – take a look at their fab range of ethical active wear from recycled plastic and coffee grounds etc) 🌍 🏃🏼‍♀️

Click below for the article:

https://www.sundried.com/blogs/training/get-fitter-feel-better

Fitness and Exercise

My Top Five Sundried Products

I was recently asked to write about my five favourite Sundried products – so here’s my top 5! These products are brill – ethically made both in terms of how they’re produced and the materials they’re made from. So they’re eco friendly (made from recycled plastic bottles, used coffee grounds and some of the products are compostable themselves!) and they’re respectful of human labour rights so not exploitative like so many clothing brands.

If you fancy getting kitted out you can get 50 percent off anything on their site (www.sundried.com) with the code ‘NANCY’ 🌏🐒🐝🦈🐘🐋🦍🌴

Here’s the article : My Top Five Sundried Products

#ethicalfashion #savetheplanet #recycledplastic #getfitandsavetheplanet #everystepfitness #sundriedambassador

Fitness and Exercise, Nutrition

How to Fuel Properly For a Long Cycle or Run

It’s only just over 2 weeks now until the 100 mile Ride London so I’m starting to get prepared. I’ll be riding for Bowel Cancer UK this year and I’m beginning to feel the fear – not least because I’ve not even been on a bicycle since 2017 and I’m still recovering from the multiple stress fractures in my foot – so it’s going to be an interesting one!

But whilst I may not be able to train on the bike I can at least make sure I’m fuelled properly. I have clients and friends who are also riding and have been asking for advice on how to fuel themselves before, during and after the ride. So I thought I’d share a few tips. These are relevant to any endurance event – not just cycling.

So here are my tips!

In the week leading up to the big ride try to eat normally but well, so have three good meals a day, and snacks as needed, avoid all alcohol, and get some good carbs in where possible (brown rice, sweet potato etc).

48hrs before the ride is the time to start ‘Carb loading’. Carbs are the best source of fuel, so you need to make sure your muscles are full of glycogen before the ride. For the 48 hours before the ride, base all your meals around carbs and have carb based snacks throughout the day. So for example breakfast could be cereal, toast with peanut butter and banana, fruit and yogurt.

For lunch, go for wraps, jacket potato, pasta salad etc. And for dinner, try to eat something rice-based, pasta, or lean meat/veggie protein with potatoes. Have something like yogurt and fruit for desert.

For snacks go for energy drinks, dried fruits, and cereal bars.

On the ride day morning have a good carb-based breakfast two hours before the start (or as early as you can if you have a very early start time). Aim for at least two servings of any of these: cereal, toast and jam, porridge with fruit juice, and cereal bars and yogurt.

When you’re actually on the ride the glycogen supplies in the muscles will last about 90 mins so you need to keep topping up. Don’t worry about the first 45 minutes, but from there you need to take in around 60g of carbs every hour (the maximum amount an average body can absorb). energy drinks, gels, bars, or other easy-to-digest carb snacks are good as they’re designed for easy digestion and quick absorption. Or you could go for cereal bars chopped up or dried fruit. My preference is chopped up cereal bars and jelly tots 🙂

Be careful during the ride at feed stations and avoid any foods such as cake, biscuits, pastries, crisps or sandwiches containing cheese or mayonnaise. These are high in fat and will sit heavy in the stomach, taking time to digest. This will make the following 10-15 miles after the stop quite uncomfortable so not ideal!

At the end of the ride you need to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles and repair the damage to your muscles so you need fast digesting carbs and protein, so things like scrambled eggs on white toast, white rice and chicken and veg, tuna pasta etc

An ideal post ride drink is chocolate milk – perfect combo of carbs and protein etc so try to have that as soon as possible after you finish. You can also get various protein based recovery drinks which work too.

Then get back to normal eating after that!

So there you go – a few tips for you! Note I’m not suggesting specific foods as such – just giving examples and the figures on timing and quantity of carbs etc are based on scientific studies and evidence based research.

This is what I’ve done every other year I’ve taken part and I’ve always been fine and recovered quickly and not ‘crashed’ (energy-wise) during the Ride.

Hope that helps – safe riding everyone! See you there ! 🤗xx

Ps. I’m riding to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK – as a current sufferer and for everyone else affected by it. If you wanted to and could spare a few pennies then I’d be very grateful 🙂

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nancy-priston-2019

Fitness and Exercise

Fuelling for a big cycle ride or run!

This time last year I was gearing up for the Ride 100 next week, riding for Bowel Cancer UK (and raising over £5000). Sadly this year I’m not riding – mainly because I didn’t feel I could ask everyone to sponsor me again after they were all so very generous last year, but also because I’m currently in a fracture boot recovering from multiple stress fractures – so it wouldn’t be sensible lol!

However I do have clients and friends who are riding and have been asking for advice on how to fuel themselves before, during and after the ride. So I thought I’d share a few tips. These are relevant to any endurance event – not just cycling.

So here are my tips!

In the week leading up to the big ride try to eat normally but well, so have three good meals a day, and snacks as needed, avoid all alcohol, and get some good carbs in where possible (brown rice, sweet potato etc).

48hrs before the ride is the time to start ‘Carb loading’. Carbs are the best source of fuel, so you need to make sure your muscles are full of glycogen before the ride. For the 48 hours before the ride, base all your meals around carbs and have carb based snacks throughout the day. So for example breakfast could be cereal, toast with peanut butter and banana, fruit and yogurt.

For lunch, go for wraps, jacket potato, pasta salad etc. And for dinner, try to eat something rice-based, pasta, or lean meat/veggie protein with potatoes. Have something like yogurt and fruit for desert.

For snacks go for energy drinks, dried fruits, and cereal bars.

On the ride day morning have a good carb-based breakfast two hours before the start (or as early as you can if you have a very early start time). Aim for at least two servings of any of these: cereal, toast and jam, porridge with fruit juice, and cereal bars and yogurt.

When you’re actually on the ride the glycogen supplies in the muscles will last about 90 mins so you need to keep topping up. Don’t worry about the first 45 minutes, but from there you need to take in around 60g of carbs every hour (the maximum amount an average body can absorb). energy drinks, gels, bars, or other easy-to-digest carb snacks are good as they’re designed for easy digestion and quick absorption. Or you could go for cereal bars chopped up or dried fruit. My preference was chopped up cereal bars and jelly tots 🙂

Be careful during the ride and avoid any foods such as cake, biscuits, pastries, crisps or sandwiches containing cheese or mayonnaise. These are high in fat and will sit heavy in the stomach, taking time to digest. This will make the following 10-15 miles after the stop quite uncomfortable so not ideal!

At the end of the ride you need to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles and repair the damage to your muscles so you need fast digesting carbs and protein so things like scrambled eggs on white toast, white rice and chicken and veg, tuna pasta etc

An ideal post ride drink is chocolate milk – perfect combo of carbs and protein etc so try to have that as soon as possible after you finish. You can also get various protein based recovery drinks which work too.

Then get back to normal eating after that!

So there you go – a few tips for you! Note I’m not suggesting specific foods as such – just giving examples and the figures on timing and quantity of carbs etc are based on scientific studies and evidence based research. This is what I’ve done every year and I’ve always been fine and recovered quickly and not ‘crashed’ (energy-wise) during the Ride.

Hope that helps – safe riding everyone! See you there next year! 🤗xx

Fitness and Exercise

Ethical, environmentally friendly workout wear!

Super excited to get my new Sundried vest top and thrilled to be working with these guys as one of their brand ambassadors.

Ethical, conservation friendly workout wear from a small uk business – and this top is made from recycled plastic bottles! What’s not to love! 🙌🏼

Love this top – comfy, cool and sweat wicking! I’d highly recommend it (phew! Glad it met my expectations! 😬🤣)

If anyone else is keen to save the planet while you workout then you can get 50 percent off by using the code ‘NANCY’ on their site! Go check them out (www.sundried.com) ! 🏃🏼‍♀️

Articles, Fitness and Exercise

How to get the best out of your exercise class or personal training session?

It sounds simple doesn’t – all you need to do is turn up and do the class, or turn up and be beasted by your trainer and you’ll get fitter. Well, yes, on some levels that’s true but you could be getting so much more out of your sessions. Have you ever wondered why your trainer or class instructor was telling you to do a particular exercise? Have you ever wondered if there was a different movement you could do that would get the same results? Maybe one that was less scary to try? Are you doing everything you can to maximise the benefits of your time spent working out? Here are a few tips. Now many of the things I mention here you may think only apply to personal training or one on one sessions but think about bringing them in to your exercise classes too – I promise you’ll see the benefits.

Be prepared

Ok so this may be an obvious one but you’ve got to be prepared for your session. This doesn’t mean a massive time investment or lots of thought, but just a few simple things. You don’t want to miss your session because you forgot to have your kit with you right? So make sure you have your kit with you or keep a spare set at work, or factor in the time you need to get home and get changed. I often hear people telling me they can’t make the evening classes at the gym as there isn’t time to get home, get changed, eat and get there after work. I get that – but if it’s a class you really want to do then the simple solution is to take your gym bag to work, have a high protein snack in it to eat on your way and head straight to the gym from work! Simple 😉

Being prepared also means preparing your body so hydrate well before you start – try to drink 500ml – 1 litre of water in the hour or so before you train or do your class, also do get some fuel in – something light and high in protein would be good (a protein shake, some nuts, a banana etc).

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Be there

Yes you do actually have to be there 😉 Easier said than done though right? Life’s busy, things get in the way, the train’s delayed, the weather is pants – the last thing you fancy is getting in to some lycra and jumping around… now whilst it’s much harder to skip a personal training session (you will usually have to pay for cancelling last minute), exercise classes can be really easy to skip. The intention is there, you mean to go every Tuesday night… but… somehow you never make it…well start by actually scheduling it in to your diary – write it down, block out the time and make it a priority – not something you can choose to do or not. If it’s a class you enjoy then it’s important you allow yourself the time to go to it – it’s YOU time and it’s vital. Don’t arrange things for that time if you can possibly help it – treat it like a work meeting that you can’t just skip. If there’s a booking system at your gym – book in, it will make you far more likely to attend. And then once again, give yourself the time to get there.

Be present

So you’ve made it to your session – be it pump, aerobics, or a PT session. Now you have to actually be present. Again this is far easier in a PT scenario as if you start to zone out your trainer should notice and bring you back to the workout. In an exercise class it’s very easy to just go through the motions. You’ve made the effort to get to the session – so try to put everything else out of your mind – the shopping can wait, that big deal at work isn’t going anywhere, the kids are being looked after (presumably! 😉 ). Engage with the class – that doesn’t mean you have to sing, shout or respond when the instructor tries to get the class to join in, but just be focused on the workout in whatever way works for you. Some people like to be up front, singing, clapping, wiggling, connecting with the instructor… others prefer to focus on getting the moves right, watching their form in the mirror, or just enjoying the music – that’s all fine – whatever works for you!

Be open about your goals

If you’re having PT sessions then hopefully your trainer has discussed your goals with you – if they haven’t then you need a new trainer! But have you been completely open? Is there some crazy goal you actually want to achieve but are too scared to mention? Tell us. No goal is crazy, and no goal is wrong. Never exercised before but want to run a marathon? – fab! Regular weight lifter but really want to up your flexibility and master the splits? – also fab! Anything goes!

Fitness instructors and personal trainers do what we do because we want to help people reach their goals – that’s one of the biggest things I love about my job so we want to know what you’re trying to achieve. We want you to succeed 🙂

This doesn’t just apply to one on one sessions – talk to your group exercise instructor if you have specific goals. You may just find they’re able to give you some tips to help support your route to that goal in class and in turn you will start to get more out of the session. They may also be able to recommend other classes to try that will help you that you’d never thought of, or ways to modify moves etc. At the very least you’ll find another supporter who will be cheering you on your way 🙂

Be questioning

What’s the point of that exercise? Trainers and instructors love movement – we love how the body moves, we love what certain moves do for the body and we want to share that knowledge. Of course we also don’t want to bore you rigid in sessions harping on about it so we often hold back on the “why” – but if you want to know more – ask! Why is a knee repeater in bodystep such a powerful exercise? What does a plank actually do for me? Why am I doing a wide legged squat….?  We are desperate to tell you why exercises are so great and what they will do for you – so ask!

“I don’t understand that exercise?” – tell me – if you don’t understand it, then I didn’t explain it well and if you’re in a class then I bet you’re not the only one thinking that. So you’ve done me a favour – I can now explain it another way and make sure everyone gets it. If it’s in a one on one session then this is even more important – remember that the PT session is YOUR time. Yes it’s about getting those reps done but it’s more important you understand the exercise and what you’re meant to be doing than just bashing them out for the sake of it.

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Be critical

I think I may be opening myself up for a whole world of abuse here.. but that’s good too 😉 Be critical – if you don’t like an exercise – say so. Chances are that if you don’t like it there’s a good reason for it and it might be a reason I can fix! So what don’t you like about it? Is it weird? Does it hurt? Do you feel like you’re rubbish at it? Lots of this can be fixed with some simple cues or explanation from your instructor or trainer or we can modify it for you. Maybe part of the reason you don’t like it is because it’s uncomfortable – so it could be I need to give you a modification, or suggest some other exercises that you could do outside the class or session to improve your joint mobility for this exercise. Do you feel like you’re just getting it wrong? Well I can spend some time with you at the end of class or whenever and we can go through it together to help you get it right. Do you feel the move is just too advanced for you? Well I can give you something else to try first to build up to it…   Instructors are happy to do that – it only takes a few mins and if it makes you feel stronger and happier in class or your PT session then that’s brilliant!

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Be aware of your body

Most importantly be aware of pain. If something hurts – and I mean really hurts (not just the aching muscle/ mucle burn pain) then that’s not right and you need to tell us – the last thing we want to do is hurt you. We can probably modify things for you but we might also need to refer you to someone to check it out. Chances are we know a fair few physios, osteopaths, etc so can give you a personal recommendation. Or we may be able to refer you to another trainer with a special skill set.

In general though think about your body – so when you’re doing an exercise try to look at yourself in the mirror (yes, I know, as cringeworthy as that may seem). If you’re in a group exercise class try to position yourself so you get a glimpse in the mirror (even from the back), or if you’re in the gym and you’re near a mirror check out your form. Now if you’re doing a one on one you’ve got the trainer watching you but it never hurts to watch yourself too and see if what you think you’re doing translates to what you’re actually doing. In classes – take a look – if the instructor is telling you to keep your chest lifted, is it? Is your knee over your ankle? Is your butt in line with your shoulders etc etc It’s not vain to look at yourself – it’s sensible and will help you to become more body aware. More often than not our bodies just don’t do quite what we think they are doing and it takes are while for muscle memory to develop, so help it along by keeping an eye on yourself.

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So there you go – a few tips for getting even more out of your sessions. Working with a personal trainer or instructor should be just that – working WITH them – never be worried about starting up a conversation about the workout.  It really is OK to ask questions, tell us that you like (or don’t like) certain exercises and, most importantly of all, tell us that something hurts. And if you don’t feel like you’re being listened to then find a new trainer, or another class! This is your leisure time so make it work for you! 🙂

Nancy 🙂

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(This article was originally published on Pureformfitness.co.uk)