Generally, when someone asks about their fitness goals, most people start with the outcome(s) they want:
-I want to lose 20 pounds.
-I want that thin-skinned, ripped look.
-I want to binge less often.
-I want to deadlift double my bodyweight.
Outcome goals describe our dream destination, which is fine, more than fine in fact as it is important to know where you want to go
But wanting something isn’t enough, no matter how badly you want it. Why?
We have no control over an outcome. Where we end up is a result of our behaviours, built up over time and it can also be affected by the environment too:
-Your job gets crazy busy.
-Your kid gets sick.
-Your mum with dementia needs help.
-Your hormones get out of whack.
-You develop a chronic illness like flu.
-Your stress levels go up.
-You’re having problems sleeping.
Having an outcome goal is like knowing where you want to go without taking the time to fill your car with fuel, read the directions or consider traffic and roadworks!
Outcomes are affected by lots of things you cannot control. So what is a better goal to aim for?
Take control of the things you can, your habits and behaviours.
Focus on the things you do have control over.
Behavior goals are a commitment to work on a set of actions consistently and regularly until you have mastered them.
So lets take the following outcome goal:
- “I will lose ten pounds in ten weeks.”
Although this goal is specific and measurable, outcomes are often beyond your control.
After all, you can’t wish your fat cells smaller and the scale does not go down through will alone.
So how can we make this goal better, how do we break it down into manageable steps?
Weight loss requires an energy deficit and a nutritious diets some example goals could be:
- I will exercise for at least five hours per week.
- I will eat slowly and pay more attention to my intake.
- I will eat vegetables with every meal.
- I will avoid alcohol this week.
These can be broken down even further if you wish:
- I will buy 5 different vegetables on a Monday and Thursday
- I will eat only at the dinner table and put my cutlery down between mouthfuls.
You get the idea. Identify the behaviours which are holding you back and commit to mastering only these. By doing this your outcome goal will take care of itself and before you know it you’ll be a lean mean dream achieving machine.
Want to give it a go?
Draw 3 columns. In column 1 write out all your outcome goals be it weight loss, finances or family. In column 2 choose one of these goals and try and identify all the behaviours you need to consistently perform to make this outcome a reality. IN column 3 break this behaviours down even further and choose 2-3 of these small behaviours to make your focus. Once they are mastered choose a couple more until you have reached your outcome.
Autumn is well and truly upon us and some days it feels as though Winter is not far behind. Now is the perfect time (if you haven’t done so already!) to switch to more warming and satisfying foods. This doesn’t just mean piling in the stodge but taking advantage of some of the great and quirky food which is seasonal this time of year.
Here are three of November’s finest that I have chosen to look at in more detail:
Bletting is the storage of fruit until it has become half rotten at which point the aromatics have developed and the taste intensified. Once your medlars have bletted you can scoop the flesh out and eat it raw or mix it with cream and sugar to eat alongside port. You can even make a fruit cheese or curd if you are feeling brave enough. See below for a medlar jelly recipe, a perfect accompaniment to your cheese board selection.
Probably not a fruit bowl staple, but definitely one which would be interesting to try and experiment with.
Fresh and bletted Medlars (www.delishably.com)
2. Cavolo Nero
Although Cavolo Nero is at it’s best in the October month, it is one of my favourite vegetables and something I wanted to mention here. It is one of the few, truly seasonal vegetables that we don’t see in the supermarkets all year round which for me makes it much more interesting and appealing.
Cavolo Nero originates from Tuscany, where it has been grown from as early as 600BC and is a staple in many Italian classics including the Tuscan Ribollita.
Very distinctive dark green almost black leaves make this cabbage stand out from the crowd. It can be used as a cabbage substitute in all recipes and is also delicious simply fried in olive oil with garlic.
Cavolo nero is a good source of lutein, vitamins K, A and C, a significant source of the B vitamins, fibre and calcium as well as containing manganese, copper, iron and many other elements.
Fresh Cavolo Nero (nancyharmonjenkins.com) Classic Ribollita (food52.com)
With a name which literally translates into “Turnip cabbage” this vegetable is suffering (or benefiting!?) from a bit of an identity crisis. An edible bulbous root and cabbage like leaves with a taste somewhere between water chestnut and turnip make this a versatile little creature.
Once peeled the bulb can be lightly steamed, cubed, and roasted or used to bulk up stews whilst the leaves can be stir fried or sautéed on the side. Want a lighter lunch option? Try shredding the Kohlrabi flesh and adding to coleslaw for a seasonal twist.
Part of the Brassica family, Kohlrabi is packed full of anti-oxidants and immune system boosters. Also a good source of vitamin C, fibre, B vitamins and minerals this nutrient packed powerhouse will help fill you and keep you firing on all cylinders throughout the winter.
Purple & white Kohlrabi (healthyseasonalrecipes.com) Kohlrabi & apple slaw with lite dressing (tastyeatsathome.com)
For more seasonal produce inspiration check out this great calendar to find out when your favourites are available: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/seasonal-calendar/all
This porridge really hit the spot and although many breakfast cereals claim to keep you full until lunch , this one really came through, a feat I attribute to its high protein and fibre content.
Our 6 weeks 6 diets challenge is well underway now and the volunteers are doing a great job of adapting to their new regimens.
An interesting challenge which has faced some of them this week is the pit-falls of self-talk. The way we rationalise our behaviours and then apply judgement. Our internal dialogue is powerful, but most of us aren’t even aware that Is going on.
Take a moment and have a think about who your biggest critic has been throughout your life…
One of your parents? Your boss? Maybe your best friend?
I’m willing to bet that for most of you, whether you know it or not, your biggest critic is yourself.
“It’s my fault that things have gone wrong this month”
“I can’t do anything right”
“I should be thinner”
“I should, I should, I should…”
Now I’m not saying that we should never question our actions or thoughts. being critical can allow us to grow and achieve our goals, but it can also keep us paralyzed if we don’t apply it constructively. Two common but negative thought patterns which can be applied to all avenues of life and specifically the areas of diet and weight loss are:
- Catastrophising: Viewing a situation as worse than it is AND/OR applying one situation to every situation.
- Should: Any phrase which starts “I should…” is based on a comparison with another person or situation and generally implies that you feel inferior in comparison.
These thought patterns lock us into a negative spiral so making long term positive changes can be difficult.
Most of us are motivated to make a change to our diet because we compare ourselves to somebody else or a perceived ideal. Social media is full of un-attainable images and messages which lead us to believe we should be better, so we are rarely satisfied. This mixed with the deprivation of a diet, is not a sustainable place to put ourselves!
Tips to change your mindset
-Turn your ‘should’ into ‘could’. The word should implies that you feel obliged to do something. Could implies a choice. When your self-talk contains ‘should’, re-run the sentence but replace it with ‘could’.
-Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being present in a situation without being judgemental. This allows you to see a situation for what it really is, and recognise that thoughts are transient, they come and go.
-Be compassionate. Next time you are being negative to yourself, ask, would I talk to my friend that way? If not, it’s time for a change. The following sentence from one of our participants is a perfect alternative.
"Listen, you're doing okay, you have a fair few things on your plate, you're doing the best you can, and anyway whose keeping score?"
Health improvement and nutrition is more than just the food, it’s a whole mindset issue. Before you can make long term change your mindset has to be right, and your intentions must be good.
If you want help breaking out of this negative mindset then at Courtyard we have plenty of services which can help, including hypnotherapy and relaxation (www.courtyardclinic.com). If you think that you would benefit from addressing your thoughts and motivations around food and diet then send an email to email@example.com to see how we can work together to achieve your goals.
Protein is one of our essential macronutrients and its benefits include preventing frailty, improving sports performance, boosting the immune system and aiding fat loss!
Most people in the UK get plenty of protein to meet the recommended intake (0.8g/Kg body weight/day), but this is probably due to our relatively high meat consumption. Of course we can get enough protein from a plant based diet to meet our needs, you just have to eat a lot more food. Also, those with increased needs such as athletes and those recovering from injuries may struggle to get all they need from a plant based diet.
Now I have nothing against including a moderate amount of high quality, welfare meat and fish in the diet, but most people would benefit from including more plant foods in the diet and decreasing their meat intake. Step up, vegan protein powders, a perfect way to increase the nutrient quantity of a meal without affecting taste or texture. Pea protein in particular is high in branched chain amino acids which may have benefits for those involved in lots of exercise/activity.
Some of you may be familiar with the PULSIN brand of snack bars and brownies, but they also do protein powders which can be added to a variety of foods. They are based in Gloucestershire just up the road from me, and I can really get behind their ethos and mission .
15 minute falafel burgers and extras
2 tins of chickpeas
2 tins of green lentils (steamed)
1 cooked parsnip
1/3 cup of sesame seeds
2 big spoons of pea protein
Method: Throw it all in a bowl, season, then mash together either with a fork, potato masher or electric mixer. Pan fry or grill for 5-6 minutes on each side.
To serve: What ever extras you feel like. In this meal we used balsamic red onion, humous, guacamole, sweet potato wedges and carrot and beetroot salad.
This is the perfect sharing meal, quick to rustle up, can be made in advance and can be adapted to suit people's tastes.
High in protein
High in fibre
High in micronutrients
This meal has so much going for it and there is also the added benefit of being meat free. whether it is for your health or for ethical, sustainability reasons, try going meat free for a couple of days each week and see what new foods you can try out.
From tree to plate in under two hours! It's a great feeling when you get to serve up something which you have grown yourself and the British summer is full of wonderful produce.
In the last couple of months we have seen rhubarb, raspberries, gooseberries, plums and greengages to name just a few. The benefits of fresh, seasonal fruit include:
-Less environmental impact
When you get a glut of fruit in such a short period of time it's hard to manage to eat it all and this is where preserving methods such as jams and chutneys come into play.
I decided to go down the baking route this time:
Plum and ginger cake (adapted from BBC goodfood)
Butter for greasing
2 tbsp of demerara sugar
175g dark muscovado sugar
140g golden syrup
2 chia seed eggs (https://detoxinista.com/how-to-make-flax-eggs-or-chia-eggs/) (only because I ran out of normal eggs!)
300g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1) Heat the oven to 180 oC. Line and grease a 23cm square cake tin. Halve the plums and line the tin/
2) Melt the butter, muscovado and syrup together on a low heat, stir until smooth. Cool for 10 minutes and add the egg and milk. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients.
3) Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45-55 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.
Now, this might not be classed as a super healthy cake by most, it's not "free from", paleo, low sugar or anything, it's just wholesome, tasty, seasonal goodness! That being said, of course it has some health benefits;
Plums - High in vitamins and minerals, high fibre content, good amount of antioxidants
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, reduces nausea, helps with digestion
Chia seeds - High in omega 3, fibre, iron and calcium
Food doesn't have to be boring, expensive or exotic to be good for you. Unless you have a specific medical reason for avoiding a food or ingredient then they can all be enjoyed in the appropriate quantities.
Get out there and take advantage of all our local, homegrown produce whilst it is still available!
What better way to kick off the new blog than by show casing some of the quality produce from Stroud Farmer's Market. It is always fun to see how the town transforms on a Saturday morning and to take in all the sights and sounds whilst doing a little bit of people watching!
This week it was straight to Salt Bakehouse for one of their amazing sourdough loaves, plus some of their other goodies. I would have taken a photo of the chocolate brownie croissant, but to be perfectly frank, it didn't last that long.
Now we are into July it is Chard season and the rainbow chard and candy beetroot looked too good to leave behind. Being slightly cooler today and a bit on the rainy side, a simple soup made from lentils, Chard and Tomatoes fit the bill perfectly. The chunk of seeded sourdough rounded it all off beautifully. Super easy to make, cheap and seasonal.
My top tip to anyone is to eat a wide variety of different foods. This ensures you get a good range of nutrients and keeps cooking exciting. Chard is not something I eat a huge amount of so it was fun to give a new dish a try.