What To Do When You’ve No Self Control

I’m a big believer in habitual change. It’s been shown time and time again to be the best way to establish lasting changes which improve health, fitness and sustain nutritional changes. Building over old habits takes time but it’s worth it in the long run and gives you things that a 6 week meal plan never can.

At Cross Functional Fitness, I try to work with my clients to put together strategies which will enable them to continue to enjoy eating and drinking the stuff they like, while allowing them to drop inches from their waist and improving their body composition. If you enjoy eating chocolate I’ll do my level best to help you put together a nutritional plan that still keeps you within a calorie deficit. This means you’ll still see positive changes in your body composition.

This approach “works” for many people because they have a decent level of self control and they understand the importance of calorie tracking. However it wouldn’t work for me. I’d have to get rid of every piece of junk food in sight if I was going to try and reduce my body fat. Maybe your self control sounds something like mine. I can’t just stop at 1 square of chocolate like some of my clients can. I’m like a dog. I’d have to have the whole bar of chocolate, and then some more.

Be honest with yourself and your level of self control

It’s important that you know yourself and recognise your limitations and faults when you’re trying to get slimmer. If you’re like me and you don’t have great self control, then you maybe need to be honest with yourself, your family and your friends.

Quite often it’s your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend who will be your downfall. They’ll convince you to go for that “treat” … every night! They’ll maybe not understand your weakness or that you desperately want to make a change to your habits.

Sit them down and explain to them that you don’t want to die early. You don’t want to end up with bowel cancer, heart disease or other nasty illnesses and so you want to minimise your risk of doing so.

If they don’t believe you or dismiss your concerns, send them to me. Seriously. I’d love to chat with them.

Just because your significant other has great self control and is in a great moment in their life, doesn’t necessarily mean you are. It’s important to recognise this and it’s important that the important people in your life understand this too. Instead of adding to the pressure of temptation that you’re already under, they should instead help you in every way they can.

Are you killing yourself the respectable way?

If you’re the sort of person who can easily finish an entire packet of biscuits, a full tub of ice cream of multiple bars of chocolate, I’m going to make a polite but strong suggestion – DON’T HAVE THEM IN YOUR HOUSE!

If you have junk food in your cupboards there is a 99% percent chance that you or someone else in your house will end up consuming it – usually in a moment of severe hunger, boredom, stress, anxiety, or weakness. It’s at these times junk food is most appealing to you because 1) they’re convenient, 2) they taste amazing and 3) they fill a void, for a while.

But it’s important to be honest with yourself. Your lifestyle and lack of self control is slowly, but surely killing you and reducing your quality of life substantially. If you have a takeaway meal once per month that’s not the worst thing in the world. That’s about 1 meal in 90, which isn’t much. But if you have 3 takeaways every week then that’s a big problem. Some takeaways contain as much as 2 days worth of calories, never mind the ridiculous amounts of salt, sugar and unhealthy fats.

What about your alcohol intake at weekends? How about that packet of biscuits you’re having every evening after dinner? What about those crisps you’re eating every day, along with that chocolate bar? That’s 30 days out of 30 every single month. THIS is what is doing the real damage. It’s that consistency which is dramatically increasing your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, various cancers, diabetes, strokes, joint damage and other preventable illnesses.

Here are some helpful steps to changing your habits which you can start implementing today:

1- Sit down and evaluate what sort of personality you have – do you have self control and you just need to start counting calories and managing your portions? Or does your self control suck, like mine, and you need to go cold turkey on all the junk and get them out of your cupboards and car?

2- Take the stairs every time you can instead of the lift or escalator.

3- Schedule walking into your daily / weekly activity.

4- Rather than coffee meet ups with friends, suggest going for a walk or do something active.

5- Instead of sitting in front of the tv or netflix at night, get outside, go for a cycle, walk, a swim, hike or something else active. It’ll do wonders for your mind and your body.

Before you know it, these habits will take hold of your lifestyle and you’ll do them unconsciously and without reservation. But it’s important you practice them lots in the early stages.

8 Muscle Building Mistakes Most People Make

1 Prioritising “the burn” over progressive overload

We’ve probably all heard it in the gym, or seen it in a movies. Someone yelling, “feel the burn,” as they rep out the 500th rep of the same exercise. There must be something to it, right? Wrong!

If you only ever go for “the burn,” or “the pump”, then you’re missing out and you’re missing the point. The burn is generally caused by a build up of lactic acid which your muscles fail to utilise as fuel for energy. What’s referred to as “the pump” is caused by blood being force fed into your hard working muscle to carry away all the waste by products. As the cells expand it reduces the flow of blood from leaving your muscles causing “blood pooling.”

The build up of lactic acid causes what’s known as “the anabolic cascade,” which is basically a potent mixture of growth hormones. However, if you repeatedly elevate lactate levels, it doesn’t necessarily translate into more muscle growth.

What to do instead

Instead of making the pump and the burn your main objective in a workout, focus on progressively overloading them in a more systematic way. For example, you could try to increase the load you’re using, increase the reps you perform from last time, increase the sets, increase the number of times you train each week, decrease the rest time between sets, change the angle, the amount of time under tension, the tempo and lots of other variables.

2 Overtraining

Lifting weights with the intention of building muscle is a lot different to other types of training such as circuits, bootcamp or bodypump. You might know someone who hits classes almost every day and hitting the same muscle groups every day.

Or you might know someone who spends 2 hours at the gym lifting, 6 days per week.

What many people don’t realise is that more work, more sets and more time at the gym doesn’t translate into more muscle. In fact, if you’re spending more than an hour at the gym, you’re potentially doing more harm than good. If you’re training heavy and with intensity you shouldn’t be spending more than an hour at a time at the gym lifting.

Over training can lead to impaired muscle growth, general fatigue, reduced levels of anabolic hormones, raised levels of catabolic hormones and even muscle loss!

What to do instead

Instead, keep your training sessions under an hour and maximise the intensity. Time your rest periods and be strict with them. Have a plan and don’t waste any time chatting to people. You can socialise later. If you do it right, you should be coming at between 45 minutes and an hour later feeling absolutely wrecked.

3 Choosing machines over free weights

Most of us want the most effective exercises and workouts. Why? Because we don’t want to waste our precious time. If you’re choosing machine weights over free weights you’re not making the best use of your time. It’s as simple as that.

Many various studies have shown that you can make much more progress by training with free weights such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands and even your own bodyweight than by using machines.

When you use machines you’re removing some crucial elements that you might not realise. For one thing, machines mean you don’t have to balance the weight yourself. When you cause your body to balance something, it builds stability which is crucial for staying injury free and also for building more muscle.

Most machines encourage an artificial range of motion and so your muscles aren’t worked at the right moments in the rep.

What to do instead

Take the time to learn correct technique and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. You’ll build healthier joints, ligaments and tendons, as well as stronger muscles and bones.

4 Performing random workouts

I get it. Workouts can become boring. Change is important mentally as well as physically. But many people just go round the gym doing whatever they fancy with no real plan or purpose and then get frustrated that they aren’t seeing or feeling changes.

Unless you’re noting down your performances then you have no idea whether you’re progressing or going backwards. This is part of the reason why so many people give up on going to the gym altogether after a while, despite hitting it hard to begin with.

What to do instead

Have a plan. Even a bad plan is better than no plan. Be consistent with the exercises you choose. Perfect them. Add more weight, do more reps. The fundamentals should never change too much.

5 Going through the motions to tick a box

This is another major reason that many people never progress at the gym, get frustrated and never go back. If you aren’t hitting your workouts with intensity and purpose then you’re missing out. Building muscle isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen by accident (generally).

If you’re going to the gym as a social outing, good for you. But you’re not going to build any serious muscle. Telling your friends or checking yourself into the gym on social media isn’t going to cut it. When you’re training, you need to work hard if you’re serious about putting on muscle.

What to do instead

Dig in! It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. It is going to hurt. It is going to ache for a day or two after. Ignore your instincts which tell you to avoid pain at all costs. Embrace it. You’ll learn to love it. You’ll build mental toughness and fortitude you never though possible. Each extra rep, set, kilogram is another victory and a stepping stone in your progress.

6 Using too much weight

To be perfectly sexist in a politically correct world gone mad, guys tend to be much more prone to this one than ladies. As guys we love to ego lift. I truly believe that most guys require a personal trainer to hold them back from lifting too much weight and most girls require a personal trainer to coax (or trick) them into lifting more weight.

What often happens when you load too much weight is your form goes out the window. You use momentum instead of muscle. You bounce the weight instead of control it. You get away with it for a while and you tell your friends you benched 130kg, and you might even believe it yourself, for a while. Until you get injured or tear your rotator cuff.

What to do instead

If you can’t control the weight, don’t pick it up in the first place. Bouncing or smashing it off yourself of the ground is wasting your time and massively increases your potential for injury. Go slower, set your ego aside and think about the muscles you’re engaging. You might want to tell your mates your benched 130kg, but the bad news is when you’re injured, you can’t train. When you can’t train, you get weaker. When you get weaker, you lose your muscle and it can be a frustrating pathway back.

7 Not consuming enough calories

If you’re trying to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, you’ve got a very hard job on your hands. It is possible, especially for beginners, but it’s incredibly tricky.

What to do instead

If you’re serious about building more muscle tissue, you need to be consuming more calories than your body currently needs. If your body requires 2000 calories each day, you need to ensure you’re taking in slightly more than this.

8 Consuming the wrong type of calories

I used to work with a guy who was “bulking” for a bodybuilding competition. To be honest, he never did come off that bulking phase. He was using it as an excuse to overeat and indulge in unnecessary calories. He may well have put on extra muscle during this time, but it was minimal. Why?

Although he was getting more than enough calories in, they were the wrong type of calories. He was opting for doughnuts, biscuits, sweets, ice cream and chocolate – predominantly carbs and fats – and not the good kind. This led to excessive fat tissue gain rather than muscle he said he was aiming for.

What to do instead

Instead of binge eating anything and everything you want, and calling it “bulking,” aim to increase your protein intake across the day. Add more starchy carbohydrates as well to enhance your training performance and help you to recover better before your next session. As a general rule of thumb, aim for at least 1.5g of lean protein per kilo of your body weight.

Bride-To-Be – Biggest Mistakes – Avoiding Weight Training

“I don’t want to do weight training because I don’t want to get big and bulky.”

I’m sure you’ve wondered about this yourself or heard someone rejecting weight training for this reason. Many brides-to-be take up running, spin class or the cross trainer to get in shape before their wedding while ignoring weight training in case it makes them “big and bulky.” Where does this belief come from? When someone discloses this fear and I dig a little deeper I hear two main underlying reasons:
  1. “I know a girl who took up weights and she looks bigger than ever.”
  2. “I don’t want big muscles like a man.”
Here are 7 reasons why avoiding weight training is a mistake for Brides-to-be. 1.Weight Training is an extremely efficient way to burn calories. Burning energy (calories) is very basic. To burn energy you have to do work. That work can come in many forms including running on a treadmill on a spin bike, swimming or, weight training. You don’t have to be out of breath for an extended period of time to show that you’re burning energy. If you’re lifting heavy objects, your body is using energy. As you get stronger, you have the capacity to lift more weight and therefore do more work. 2. Weights aren’t the cause of a girl becoming big or bulky. I hate to be the bearer of bad news and I don’t mean to harsh, but if your friend has started doing weights and she has since become “big and bulky,” guess what? It wasn’t the weights that made the difference. It was Calories In V Calories Out which has made the difference. If your friend’s goal was to become slimmer yet she didn’t adjust her diet so that she was in a calorie deficit then your friend will become larger. This would happen whether your friend did weights or cardio or no training at all. When it comes to body composition, Calories In V Calories Out is King. The type of training you adopt is secondary. So avoiding weight training because of an ill founded fear of becoming “big and bulk” is a big mistake. 3. Weight Training won’t make you look like a man. I can assure you that weight training will NOT make your body more “manly.” But what about female bodybuilders? What about the high level CrossFit girls? Good question. The truth is many women who do weight training but end up looking what you consider to be “more manly” due to a number of possible reasons.
  • Hormone manipulation (ie, Testosterone, Oestrogen suppressants) – These will dictate how much muscle the human body can build as a response to resistance training.
  • Training Programming – Not all weight training programmes are the same. There are some exercises and training methods which will cause you to put on muscle in desirable areas producing toned legs, arms, and a firmer waist. However, if your weight training programme is designed in a way that emphasises areas which you aren’t keen to build such your upper back or shoulders, then this can happen as you get stronger.
  • Goal – Not every lady has the same goal as you. Some women want bigger arms, shoulders or wider back and other features which you might consider to be “manly.” Others simply don’t care. They just want to get stronger and the shape of their body is simply a by product of their increases in strength.
I can assure you that sensible weight training programme will not cause you to turn in to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The reality is, building muscle is not easy. It takes time, effort and other conditions have to be just right for it to happen. Your sleep, nutrition, hydration, recovery are also massive factors. It’s not just about the weight training. The other fact is, the female body simply doesn’t have enough testosterone to build significant amounts of meaningful muscle. So every millimetre of muscle you add will be hard fought for. The process of building muscle is even more difficult when you’re in a calorie deficit and almost impossible for anyone who has been lifting for longer than about 6 months. 4. Weight Training speeds up your metabolism. Weight training produces a similar impact on your metabolism that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has. Typical weight training involves performing a desired number of repetitions for a few sets. Each set dramatically spikes your heart rate and then it gets a chance to drop in between during the rest periods. This stimulates your metabolism for up to 36 hours later so that you burn calories at a higher rate while resting. Sounds good, right? If you’re focusing on going for long, steady runs for 30 minutes or an hour you might burn lots of calories while you’re moving, but the impact on your resting metabolism isn’t anywhere nearly as dramatic and so you’ll have to rely on going for longer runs more often if you’re trying to burn calories. 5. Weight Training enables you to TONE and SHAPE your body. In order to tone and shape your body, you need to increase your muscle tissue which is below your outer layers of skin and fat tissue. Increasing your muscle tissue is what gives your body shape. If your nutrition is in check and you’re maintaining a calorie deficit, you can reduce your outer layer of fat and as the muscle tissue increases, (for beginners) it amplifies the toning effect. 6. You aren’t maximising the use of your time if you avoid weight training. In order to change your body as effectively as possible, you need to make the best use of your time. Your body can only do a maximum amount of work and it needs a minimum amount of rest time to recover before exercising again. If you only do cardio and avoid weight training, you might see and feel some positive changes to your body, but you’re leaving a lot of progress on the table. In short, you’re wasting time if you avoid weight training. 7. Exclusively doing cardio is only beneficial for some people. This isn’t intended to put you off doing cardio. Cardio is great for your mind and your body and it carries its own unique benefits which weight lifting cannot offer. However, if you’re trying to shape and tone your body but you’re concentrating exclusively on cardio you should be aware that it’s only going to offer significant beneifts if you already have significant muscle mass already developed underneath. For example, if you have a previous background in sports or resistance training then doing cardio might be fine for you. However, if your muscle mass is relatively low and you’re hoping to tone and shape your body for your big day while avoiding weights, you’re going to find it much tougher. Hopefully this clears up some of the myths regarding weight training for you. One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is teaching girls how to lift weights and then seeing them get stronger and lift heavier with amazing technique and filled with confidence and fearlessness.