How I Set Goals and Achieve Them

It can be extremely difficult to make a huge lifestyle change. You have to work hard and be disciplined to break years of bad habits that have been established throughout your life. When I first started getting seriously into health and fitness one of the ways I found it easy to stay on track and measure how well I was doing, was to set myself some clear goals. In fact I still set myself goals on a regular basis so I can continue to grow as a person and achieve what I want in life. Having a goal keeps you focused and means you can track your progress on a regular basis. I thought I would share with you how I set goals for myself to achieve what I want in life.

Be realistic – I’m a big believer in having aspirations & aiming high as long as your goals are realistic and achievable. There’s no point trying to achieve something that is simply unrealistic. For example; I know I am never going to be a professional footballer, so I don’t bother wasting my time trying to be one. If your goals are unrealistic then you will just feel overwhelmed and give up when it all becomes too much. Have big goals but be realistic too about what you can and simply cannot achieve.

Know your potential – It’s important to know your potential and what you are capable of. Too many people look at something they want in life and just simply think “I’ll never be able to do that”. But listen to me, we all have the potential to achieve great things. Choose something that you enjoy and you know is achievable for you. Then go and do what needs to be done to achieve it. If that means changing your hair, losing weight, studying, moving away, whatever it takes you need to be willing to do it if it’s what you really want. Most importantly though remember to believe in yourself.

Find support – It’s so important to surround yourself with a positive group of people who are supportive and caring. Don’t be afraid to tell those closest to you what your goals are and why you want to achieve them. No one has ever achieved greatness by doing it alone, so you shouldn’t have to either. My wife, friends and family have played such a massive role in my journey, so remember it’s okay to ask for help and support. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with a team of great people behind you.

Find an expert – If you have a particular goal and you know someone who has achieved what you want, then go and ask them how they did it. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel when you can find someone who has already got a proven method for reaching your goal. If you don’t know someone personally who has done it, then contact me. It’s great to get support from people as we will know and understand the struggles that you will be going through.

Dream big but plan small – As I said before it’s great to have big goals and dreams but if they are far out of reach then it can be easy to give up when it becomes too hard. So if you do have big goals then break them down into smaller more achievable ones. If you want to run a marathon but have only just started running, then your first goal might be to just reach 10km without stopping as opposed to just aiming for the full 26.2m. When you your goals are broken down to smaller ones then you can celebrate your successes along the way, which will keep you motivated towards the bigger goal. I’d recommend splitting your long-term goal into three. The short-term goal should be between two to four weeks from your start date. This should be more about the ‘process’ of changing your habits and starting your journey. Your medium-term goal should be half-way between your start date and your final goal. That is the perfect time to check progress to ensure you are where you need to be to achieve your overall goal and, if not, make some changes to ensure you will do.

 Track your progress and adapt – Regularly track your progress against your goals and reassess if things aren’t going to plan. I’d recommend splitting your long-term goal into three. The short-term goal should be between two to four weeks from your start date. This should be more about the ‘process’ of changing your habits and starting your journey. Your medium-term goal should be half-way between your start date and your final goal. That is the perfect time to check progress to ensure you are where you need to be to achieve your overall goal and, if not, make some changes to ensure you will do.

You may need to put back the date of your overall goal if things aren’t going to plan, but that shouldn’t worry you. More often than not though, your hard work will be paying dividends and you can be ahead of your target. Just keep trying and keep moving forward.

 

So, when you are planning your goals remember, know your potential, dream big, believe in yourself, do what needs to be done to give you the best chance of success, be adaptable, resilient and keep reaching for those goals.

If you want some help on achieving your goals get in touch and together, let’s make your goals a reality.

 Want to know more?

 Contact me today to ask any questions or book your FREE consultation

 Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

How to Eat Healthier on a Budget

One of the biggest challenges I hear from people when they switch to eating a healthier diet is that it’s so much more expensive then what they normally buy. It can feel like a dramatic increase on your food bill, especially for those who aren’t just feeding themselves, but their families too. When you move to more of a whole food diet, consisting of good quality meat and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables it can feel more expensive. And whilst yes, your food bill may go up a little bit at first, I always like to think of it as a long-term investment in your health.

When you are healthier, your body functions better, you are less likely to get sick and you are happier person for it. To me it’s worth the little extra money you need to spend to get healthy. If money is one of those challenges you face, there are some things you can do that will help save on your food costs.

Shop in season – Get to know what fruits and vegetables are in season. Then when you shop try to base your meals around those ingredients. You definitely don’t want to be buying fresh berries in the middle of winter, as you will be paying double. Remember there are lots of fruit and vegetables that can be frozen too. So if something is on special and in season, buy it in bulk and then freeze it for later use.

Reduce your meat intake – If you are a meat eater, like me, this can make up a huge portion of your weekly food budget. By reducing the amount of meat in your meals you can reduce your costs. I’m certainly not suggesting becoming a full vegetarian (as I couldn’t do that myself) but you could try and start introducing a few meat free meals a week. If the thought of that does not go down well you can halve the amount of meat you have in each meal, making a cut of meat last twice as long.

Prepare your weekly meal plan – Every week decide what meals you will be cooking and what key ingredients you can use. Have a look at what’s in season or on offer and create your meals around that. Take your shopping list to the supermarket and be strict with yourself to stick to it. Also don’t go in hungry as that is when we tend overspend and also make some unhealthy choices of foods. If you don’t use up all the ingredients for one meal, see how you can turn them into other deliciously healthy meals for the next few days. Also don’t be afraid of eating leftovers. Make double at night and then you have something for lunch or dinner the next day. Making it far less likely to purchase lunch at work or those takeaways when you aren’t in the mood for cooking.

Store your fresh vegetables properly and organise your fridge – It’s so easy to forget what is in the fridge and sometimes some of the vegetables you buy ends up going off before you use it, simply because it’s stored in the back of the fridge and gets forgotten. Store the food with the shortest ‘best-before’ date towards the front so you know what ingredients you should be cooking with at the beginning of the week before it goes off. Find out the best ways to store your fresh vegetables, as there are plenty of tips and tricks for keeping those ingredients fresher for longer.

Move away from packets and pre-cut food – It can be very tempting to go for the quick and simple pre-cut fruit and vegetables, but these are often far more expensive, just because they have been cut up for you already. Buy the whole fresh vegetables and then pre-cut them yourself. If they are freezable items then buy them in bulk when on special, pre-cut them yourself and store in the freezer for later use.

Buy your fruit and vegetables from a market – As most supermarkets insist on fruit and vegetables that look good, are pre-washed and are often bagged or pre-packed you actually pay more for your fruit and vegetables than you do when buying them from a local market or greengrocers. If you are able to get to a market or greengrocers a couple of times a week you can save yourself a decent amount of money and help local businesses.

Think of your long term health – Yes, it can be hard to see your food bill go up but think of long term benefits you are giving yourself in your new healthy lifestyle. Eating cheap, pre-packed foods that contain all sorts of additives is not a healthy way to eat. This is why I say eating healthier is probably some of the best medical help you can give to yourself and your family in the long run.

 

I hope you enjoyed some of these tips. If anyone has anything they do to save money, I would love to hear them.

Want to know more? 

Contact me today to ask any questions or book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Can’t Live Without Coffee?

I do love my coffee, especially if it is strong and black. A lot of people believe that a healthy lifestyle means that you can’t drink coffee, but I don’t believe that this is true. It is correct that if you want to reduce the ‘stress’ on your live you should reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks, but there are other drinks that should be removed first, namely sugary drinks.

Here is why you can still enjoy coffee and be healthy:

Health benefits of coffee – As I mentioned, there is a lot of information available about the ‘dangers’ of coffee, but the benefits actually seem to outweigh any risks.

Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants, which are important for your health. These will help fight free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body. Coffee has also been seen to reduce the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention being good for your mood, alertness and physical performance.

How much is too much? – Personally I would say for you to limit your intake of coffee (regular black coffee) to 2-3 cups per day, and to ensure that you don’t have your last one too late. I usually switch to decaffeinated coffee after 2pm as I find if I drink caffeine after this time it can affect my sleep. A moderate amount of coffee on a daily basis is perfectly fine. Just make sure you keep it within your limits.

What about the risks?
Addiction – As you know coffee contains caffeine and this compound is somewhat addictive. Caffeine affects your central nervous system and people can become dependent on caffeine to ‘perform’. If you stop your intake of caffeine you might experience some ‘withdrawal’ symptoms, including a headache, fatigue, depression, concentration difficulties and anxiety. I find that this passes after a day or so.

Insomnia – Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but the timing of your cup of coffee does have an effect on if it will affect your sleep or not. I would normally recommend for you to have your last coffee for the day at least 6 hours before you go to bed. As I mentioned above, I usually switch to decaffeinated after 2pm.

Osteoporosis – There are some reports and claims that coffee will increase your risk of weak bones. However, you need to drink over 7 regular cups of coffee per day to get to those levels of caffeine, ~744mg to be exact. If you drink a lot of coffee I would suggest for you to ensure you get enough calcium to outweigh this risk.

Cardiovascular disease – Coffee (caffeine) does have a temporary effect on your blood pressure and heart rate, especially if you are sensitive. However, there is not enough evidence that coffee and caffeine will cause higher cholesterol levels or heart disease.

Note: If you have heart or blood pressure problems, it is always advised to talk to your doctor regarding your diet and coffee drinking.

Cancer – Coffee (caffeine) has been accused of causing cancer. In fact, most evidence supports coffee (caffeine) as protecting against cancer.

Dehydration – If you have ever had a coffee you have probably noticed that you will need to go to the bathroom a bit more often. Coffee does have a slight diuretic effect, however, unless you have large quantities, it does not seem to cause dehydration. And if you follow my recommendations of drinking plenty of other fluids and keep to drinking coffee in moderation you will certainly not be at risk.

 

Watch the calories! I always buy a black coffee to avoid adding any calories. The fact is that your choice of coffee can have a major effect on your weight loss success. A regular black coffee contains about 2 calories, whilst mocha can contain up to 450 calories, not to mention all the refined sugar!!

 

So, if you are a coffee lover like I am, make sure you drink coffee in moderation, not too late and make sure that you watch your added calories.

If you are a coffee lover I hope you have enjoyed this article!

 

Want to know more?

Contact me today to ask any questions or book your FREE consultation

07815 044521 or martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

How to Save Time with These Food Preparation Ideas

One of the most important factors in getting that body you want is maintaining healthy food choices. Some people can get put off by having to prepare vegetables each day for lunchtime or evening meals. This can then lead to reaching for packaged meals or dialing for a takeaway. However, if you plan well and are prepared to spend some time once a week doing smart food preparation you will be setting yourself up for success.

A huge cause of why people end up eating unhealthy food is because they get caught out and hungry with nothing healthy on hand. That’s why if you are prepared, slip-ups are less likely to occur. Whilst preparing food may take a few hours to do in the one go, you will ultimately save on time over the week. That’s because you are doing all the chopping, cooking and cleaning in the one go. I know a lot of people starting out haven’t cooked this way before, that’s why I want to share some of my tips that I do for my weekly meal prep.

Create smoothie freezer bags – I have to admit that I prefer to eat whole foods over making smoothies, especially for breakfast. However, smoothies are a delicious quick snack to have on the go or a healthy alternative to biscuits or cake when sat at your desk. When you are doing your meal prep for the week get some snack sized zip-lock bags and fill them with your favourite smoothie ingredients and put them in the freezer. All you need to do is grab your pre packed smoothie bag from the freezer, add a liquid of your choice, blend and you have a quick healthy snack in a couple of minutes. By using frozen ingredients, it makes your smoothies nice and thick too.

Cook in bulk – There are quite a few meals that you can cook in bulk that will stay good in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze for meals later. Things like curries, stews and soups are all great freezer meals as they are easy to cook in bulk. I often buy minced meat in bulk and cook up a whole saucepan of it. Once cooked it can be split into Tupperware dishes and frozen for use another day. The joy of this is that when you come to use it you can make a Bolognese, chili or cottage pie (topped with mashed sweet potatoes or butternut squash). Slow cookers are also great for cooking soups, stews and curries. You can simply chop all your ingredients, add them to the slow cooker with your flavourings and liquid in the morning, leave it for the day and then come back to a nutritious home-cooked meal after work.

Eat your leftovers – If you don’t have time to do a big bulk meal prep session then when you do get time to cook make extra, so you can have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. It’s all about making smart use of your time, so if you are going to the trouble of cooking, then you may as well cook a few meals in the one go. Now before you roll your eyes at having to eat leftovers, remember that’s it’s far better to eat the same healthy meal a few times, then it is to fall off the wagon when there is nothing healthy on hand.

Chop your vegetables in bulk – When you move to a healthy diet that doesn’t come out of a packet then you will find that there is a lot more time spent chopping vegetables. So whilst you are spending the time chopping them you may as well do it in the one go. I usually do this while an evening meal is cooking, making use of the time I would previously have spent leaning on the worktop checking Facebook. You can chop your vegetable sticks for snacks and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge (carrots and celery are my favourites). I know that the vegetables I buy will last over a week in the fridge once chopped and stored. If you are making stir fries, chop all your vegetables and then store in serving sized snap lock bags. You can either keep these in the fridge or freezer and are ready to go for when you need that quick meal. You just need to add your protein and sauce to the pan and you have an instant quick dinner and something that is far better for you than takeout.

Get good storage – If you haven’t realised already from all of these tips, you are going to need containers and room in the fridge to store all the food you are making. If you can, try and get containers that are serving sized so you don’t overfill them and overeat. Other handy things to have in the cupboards for meal prep are zip-lock bags (for your smoothies, vegetables and freezer meals, meats and fish).

Save money by wasting less – Somebody once told me that they didn’t like to prepare food in advance as they didn’t want to waste food. They preferred to eat ‘what they felt like’. Now, either that means that they shop every day for their daily food, or they take their daily food from their fridge or freezer on a daily basis. Shopping on a daily basis can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to healthy eating, especially if you had a habit of previously making poor food choices. Being in a supermarket when hungry can often lead to buying packaged, processed foods.

If you are taking food from the fridge or freezer on a daily basis, then having prepared the foods in advance will save time when it comes to cooking.

I’ve been preparing food in bulk for a few years now and I can honestly say that I waste less food now than I ever did before. I have vegetables in plastic dishes for the week, ready to be cooked and I can dip into the freezer at any time for meat or fish for the following day.

 

I know all of this can seem like a lot of work to start with but remember why you are doing it and that big changes don’t come easy. Once you start cooking this way, you will soon get in to a habit and I promise it gets a lot easier as time goes on. There is so much truth in that saying “by failing to prepare you’re preparing to fail”.  Remember by having quick instant healthy meals on hand you are less likely to fall off wagon and grab a takeaway when you run out of time. If you can use some of these tips, then you will be well on your way to getting the results you want.

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

A Balanced Eating Guide and What I Eat in a Day

I don’t really follow a defined way of eating. I am not a vegetarian (far from it if I am honest), nor do I eat a paleo diet. I do not eat low carb, low fat or low sugar. What I do ‘aim’ to eat on a daily basis is a balanced selection of ‘whole’ foods.

You will notice I have written ‘aim’. It is my intention to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods but I am the same as everyone else, I do like my treats; and I will eat my treats. What I won’t do though is binge.

I believe balance eating is about feeding your body with the right nutrients it needs to look and feel great. It is not about a cheeseburger in each hand!!!

There are so many different ‘diet’ theories around and it can get be overwhelming to understand what you should and shouldn’t eat. To help you out a little I’m going to share with you some of my guidelines around healthy eating and a look at what I eat in a typical day.

My balanced eating guide:

Clear out the processed foods First of all to understand what are ‘whole’ foods, it’s good to get an understanding of what food should be cut out of, or minimised in your everyday eating. Personally, I stay away from as much packaged and processed food as possible. I steer clear of foods that are high in sugar and try to minimise ‘white carbs’ like white pasta and white bread (these are usually more processed than the ‘brown’ versions). The more processed a food is, the more likely it will be bad for you. If it has an ingredient list a mile long and you don’t recognise the ingredients as a food source, then it’s probably best to stay away. Also, look at what added sugars and additives have been put in the food. So much food that is marketed as ‘healthy’ has all sorts of added extras that are not only bad for your waistline, but also your overall health.

Ditch the diet I’m a firm believer that ‘diets’ aren’t a good approach to your health and fitness goals. I see so many people go on major deprivation diets, giving themselves metabolic issues, only to put the weight back on after they return to normal eating. My belief is about finding a healthy way to eat that is sustainable over the long term. If you don’t totally deprive yourself of foods, but instead have a little bit every now and then, you can enjoy a balanced diet without feeling as though something is missing. If weight loss is your goal, then make sure you are eating in a way where are losing weight at a healthy rate, but still providing your body with the right nutrients it needs to fuel your body and brain.

 Eat whole foods Focus on eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Most of the foods that I buy are not packaged. These include meats and fish that are from the fresh counters of a butcher/fishmonger (although most supermarkets have these as well), fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts, seeds and grains in (or as close as possible) to their natural state. My daily meals are generally made up of lean meat like salmon or chicken, lots of vegetables like dark leafy greens, complex carbs like sweet potato, brown pasta or brown rice, nuts and seeds with some fruit. I will also eat when I’m hungry so I don’t deprive myself.

 Eat protein Protein isn’t just for bodybuilders and is an essential nutrient to include in every meal. Your body needs protein to repair and refuel its muscles, making it even more important to eat when you are exercising. As protein is denser than carbs you will usually feel fuller for longer by eating a balanced amount of protein rich foods. Always make sure your protein is from a quality source like lean meat, fish, legumes and free-range eggs.

 Don’t be scared of carbs I say ‘carbs are not your enemy’ to people all the time. There is this total myth that carbohydrates make you fat. You need eat carbohydrates, in as close to their unprocessed-self as possible, so your body can absorb protein and you can build lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn. In addition, carbohydrates are essential for our body and brain to function properly. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal and it’s important to eat complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, butternut squash and oats. Stay away from simple carbs like white bread, white pasta and sugary snacks.

 Fat will not make you fat Fats are essential for your body, brain and organs to function properly. Fat also helps rebuild cells, gives you energy and produces fat-burning hormones. That’s why it’s an essential nutrient to include in your daily diet. Especially when you are doing extensive exercise and your body requires ‘longer-lasting’ fuel. However, you need to make sure you are eating the good kind of fat that comes from whole foods like salmon, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Try to keep an eye on saturated fats and cut out foods containing trans fats.

 

My typical day of eating:

Breakfast At the moment my breakfast is usually porridge oats, peanut butter (made from 100% peanuts) and 200ml of semi-skimmed milk. I will add a dash (less than 1g) of dark cocoa powder to give it a chocolatey taste.

If I have exercised I will also drink a glass of semi-skimmed milk to add a few more grams of protein and help me hydrate.

Morning Snacks A banana, an apple and a selection of celery and carrots. If I did more than an hour of exercise I may also include a small bag of crisps to help replenish salts (and crisps are something I would binge on if I didn’t have a small bag every now and again).

Lunch This week has been two eggs cooked in a frying pan together with a selection of vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and carrots), a quarter of a chopped chilli and half of a clove of garlic. I may also add mushrooms and a bit of stilton cheese to add a bit of taste.

Afternoon Snacks A banana and a homemade flapjack (I’ll post the recipe soon)

Dinner Dinner varies but usually consists of meat or fish, carbs and vegetables. For instance, tonight I am cooking salmon with brown rice, a mixture of vegetables and a homemade tomato and chilli sauce.

For those of you who lead a busy life (don’t we all), this will take approximately 20-25 minutes to cook and that is due to the rice. While the rice is simmering the sauce will be made (more than is needed tonight as the rest will go into tubs and into the freezer for use another day) and the salmon and vegetables cooked in the last 10 minutes.

Evening Snacks I always have a snack in the evening as I don’t like to have my main meal too late. At the moment I am having two squares of dark chocolate. Once again I do like my chocolate so by having a couple of squares most nights stops me binging.

Now I would say that I mainly eat ‘whole’ foods and have a balanced diet between proteins, carbs and fats (in the peanut butter and stilton cheese) and the fruits and vegetables I eat. I have my treats when I feel I want them as I know my food choices, in the main, are ‘whole’ foods. I do not get hung-up on thinking “I can’t eat that”.

Remember, to be your best you need to feel your best, which means you need make sure you are fuelled with wholesome nutritious food. Once you start eating this way and feeling great, your body will continue to crave more good food, making it easier to stay away from the processed and the packaged.

 

Want to know more?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire