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Alright you guys, here we go.  The Ignite55 Challenge was so good last year.  There was some absolutely fantastic results.  I done the challenge myself, gave it my all for 8 weeks, and afterwards, I can remember feeling absolutely fantastic.  Actually kept all my healthy habits going right up until Christmas.

Then, 4 whole months of lockdown throughout the winter completely changed everything around.  I emerged from lockdown this year, the most stiffest, unhealthiest I have been in about 8 to 10 years.  Slowly but surely, things started to move in the right direction, as I was able to become more active, with things like golf and football starting up again, and just general moving in normal day to day life.  Unfortunately I never got motivated enough to train in the gym.

Then Covid struck me over the summer, twice, and everything took 2 steps backwards.

But now, with the Ignite55 Challenge about to start, I’m ready and raring to go.  To get back to the healthy place I was in after Ignite55 last year.

My story is quite similar to most peoples stories.  We’ve all had lockdowns, quarantines, Covid and lots of other shitty things to deal with this year.  There is a good chance you have felt unmotivated for large parts of this year. That your fitness has took a major step backwards.  And possibly gained excess weight you’ve never had.

Its the same for all of us.  Speaking from experience, Ignite55 is your ticket back to a healthy lifestyle.

The Ignite55 challenge provides us with a challenge, a purpose, motivation, a reason to get to the gym, go for a walk or run, and not reach for the biscuit tin.  It gives us a reason to replace our weekend take-away with home made fake-aways.

Ignite55 is a challenge that we all take part in together, helping each other, feeding of the motivation and determination of others.  When we see what others can achieve, it helps us believe that we can achieve more.

 

Lets keep It Simples

Setting out to change your body for the better, it’s very easy to over-complicate things.  There is a simple recipe to achieve results, that works for everyone.  It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean its easy to do.  

The winner of Ignite55, and the people who achieve the best results, are the ones who do the simple things, the best.

I’m gonna break your plan down into 3 sections; Training, Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyle.

I’m going to give you simple guidance on each of these sections.  If you can follow the guidance as best you can, you will achieve fantastic results.

Here is the basis of everyone’s plan.  No matter what your goal is, this plan will work for all.  The only thing that really changes depending on a person’s goal, is the type of training.  That part we can tweak for anyone, depending on what they are trying to achieve.

Your Plan

Training

No matter what the goal, a good training plan should have all of the following.  I understand that people’s schedules vary greatly, and some people don’t have as much spare time as others, so I will list the training plan in order of importance.

However, I must stress, training and exercise isn’t something that should be scheduled into our spare time.  It should take precedence over most things in your schedule. 

1. Weight Training – Weight training is number 1 on the list, no matter what the goal is.  Weight training builds strength (not size for women).  It speeds up your metabolism, which is the most important factor for weight loss.  Speeding up your metabolism causes you to burn more calories each day, burning more body fat over a period of time.  Weight training causes an after-burn effect, causing your body to burn calories for up to 48h after a workout.

Weight lifting shapes your body and adds definition.  It also improves your balance, and imbalances within your body, helps improve and regulate your hormones, as well as a host of mental benefits, including increased self-confidence, self esteem, and general all-round feeing good about yourself.

For weight loss, 2-3 weight training sessions per week, full body, 30 mins, is plenty for anyone.  Examples include our Strong class, your own gym workout or a PT.

If you are intending on doing some workouts on your own, or with a friend, let me know and I’ll get you a workout plan. 

2. Cardio – Cardio exercising is essential to train your heart and your lungs.  Cardio improves your fitness, while also burning calories.  Cardio exercising also leaves us feeling great after a good session.

There are 2 types of cardio workouts;  

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – This is bursts of fast paced exercising followed by short rest periods.  Spin classes, BootCamps, Body Pumps, playing sports such as football, hockey or tennis.  HIIT also causes a short afterburn period, so you will burn calories during the session, and for 2-3h afterwards, while your body works hard to recover itself.

Steady State Cardio – This is exercising at the same pace throughout.  Walking, running, cross-trainer etc. This type of exercising generally burns the least calories, and you stop burning calories more or less as soon as you stop the exercising.

For weight loss, aim for 2-3 30 minute HIIT sessions per week.  Weight-lifting and HIIT sessions can be combined, 30 mins of each, but always try and do the weight lifting session first.

For weight loss, aim for 3-5 steady state cardio sessions per week, 20-40 mins.  This could be a 20 min walk/jog, 3 mornings or evenings per week.

3. Stretching – It’s important to stretch out all your muscles after each workout, especially weight lifting.  Working your muscles causes them to contract, and shorten.  That’s why we need to stretch them back out, to help them recover and develop properly.

1 dedicated stretching session per week will work wonders for your body.  15-20 mins, full body stretching.  You can do this in the gym after any session, or at home.  YouTube is full of videos guiding you through a good stretching session.

So that’s a quick breakdown of the types of training you need to do, and a guideline of how much to do, to achieve results.

I have provided a range of sessions for each type of training, e.g. 2-3.  I recommend when starting the challenge, aim for the lower end in all of the ranges.

So your weekly training schedule will look something like this;

2 x Weight lifting sessions (30 mins)
2 x HIIT Sessions (30 mins)
3 x Steady State (20 mins)
1 x Stretching (15 mins)

That’s 3 hours 15 mins of time dedicated to training for your first 2 weeks of the challenge.  After that, you can look to add in another session in week 3, and then another in week 5, as you really get into it.

Commit to your training schedule

Write out your weekly training schedule, and make it a permanent place in your diary.  If you have a session booked in every Friday morning at 10am, you’ll know not to book hair appointments or nail appointments at that time also.  

Make exercise a priority in your life, and it will rewards you in so many ways.

What I need from You

Write out your weekly training schedule for the 8 weeks of Ignite55.
Try to be specific, class names and times, workout times and even include intended durations.
If your schedule is going to change a bit from week to week, include that also.
Write it on paper, or in the notepad on your phone or computer.

Then send it to me by Friday please.  Photo, screenshot or whatever.
I’ll send back any recommendations I may have, and then I’ll be checking in with you each weekend to see if you have completed it.  And hopefully you will be in a position to add in a few extra sessions as we go.

Nutrition

I could write a book on nutrition, actually I already have, sort of, LOL.  But what I have learned over the years, is that keeping things as simple as possible, is the best way.

Actually, the reason I write lengthy, detailed, overly scientific documents on nutrition, is because most clients don’t believe the information you are giving them is correct, so I have always tried to explain the science behind it.

Not this time LOL.  Here are my simple guidelines for nutrition, that if you follow as best you can, will get you results.  

1. Eat 3 large meals per day – Breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day. Between breakfast and your previous meal is about 10-12 hours (half a day), and your body hasn’t stopped burning energy since you put your fork down. A healthy breakfast will have lots of slow digesting carbs, lots of fast digesting carbs, proteins, fats and lots of fibre.  A petite woman requires about 450 calorie breakfast while a large man requires about 1200 calories for breakfast (on average).  A average woman, 30-50 year old, should consume about 550-600 calories everyday for breakfast alone.  Unfortunately the average woman consumes between 0-200 calories for breakfast, which is a major contributing factor to long term weight gain.

Lunch is a tough one, as there never does seem to be too many options, outside of sandwiches.  A good tip, is to cook extra from the previous nights dinner, and then have it for lunch the following day.  Depending on your daily activity levels, lunch can be around the same calories or a little less than breakfast.

2. Quality of Food over Calories – When it comes to weight loss or even building muscle, most people think its just a matter of consuming the amount of calories calculated for you.  However, the quality of the calories is more important than just the quantity.  

Take 2 women both requiring 1800 cals.  One eats a Big Mac meal at 1000 cals, a bar or choc, bag of crisps and glass of wine to total 1800 cals.  She eats this every day for 2 weeks, hitting her cals.

The other woman eats a very nutritious and well balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner, each of 600 cals, total 1800 cals.

Which woman is going to lose the most weight? The 2nd woman by miles, even at the same calories.  So before stressing out on the number of calories you are eating, stress out first on the quality of calories you consume lol.

3. Plants are King – If you’ve not been feeling you usual healthy self for quite some time, look at how much plant food you have been consuming.  For weight loss, plant food is the king.  Vegetables, fruits and salads.  Fill your plate with them.  You almost couldn’t eat enough.  Fruit doesn’t make you fat, wine and junk food does.  Fruit isn’t “full of sugar”, Coke Cola is.  

A general rule of thumb, the more plant food you eat, the more weight you lose.

You’ll never meet an over-weight person who will tell you that they just absolutely love to eat lots of vegetables, fruit and as much salad as they can.

4. Food doesn’t make you fat, junk does! To lose weight, you need to go on a diet… a junk calorie diet.  Unfortunately, a lot of people would rather keep the junk and cut down on the quantity of normal food, but its the opposite that is needed.  If you’re serious about losing weight, go on a junk-food diet.  Cut out all junk food and junk calories and replace with healthy food, and you’ll lose loads of weight.  It’s that simple, but its just not easy to do, hence why we call it a challenge.

5. Did I mention, the more vegetables, fruit and salad you eat, the more weight you will lose.

6. Don’t do the 5/2 Diet – This is the most popular weight loss diet in the world.  5 days healthy eating, followed by fcuking everything up on Saturday and Sunday, although I think we could include Friday in that also. 5 divided by 2 = zero.  Whatever you eat on Monday, consume the same on Friday.  Whatever you eat on Tuesday, eat that on Saturday, and duplicate Wednesdays food on Sunday.  Do that, and you shouldn’t be far away.

7. Have a “wee treat” – Everyone needs a wee treat now and then, for all their hard work and efforts.  On Ignite55, in my team, we treat ourselves every 8 weeks, so enjoy a wee treat meal after week 8 LOL. But on a serious note, treats are for kids and dogs.  If you are doing well on the challenge and want to give yourself a wee pat on the back, you can reward yourself with anything that doesn’t require being put into your mouth and through your digestive system.  Book in for a massage, buy yourself a new pair of sneakers, etc, etc.  Just don’t treat yourself with anything edible or drinkable, at least for 8 weeks.

8. Look for the Better Choice – One question we get constantly about nutrition is, “is [food] OK to eat?” Generally the answer is “yes, but [food] is better”.  

“Is white rice OK to eat?  “Yes, but brown rice or sweet potato are better, because they have more nutrients and fibre.”

“Is it OK to make my porridge with milk?”  “Yes, but oat milk or almond milk are better, because cows milk has a strong link to causing cancer in humans.”

“Is bread OK to eat?” “Yes, but sweet potato or potato or squash is much better as they contain lots more nutrients and no gluten.”

“Is a wee fibre90 bar OK for a wee snack.”  “Yes, if you must, but an apple or orange is a much better snack.”

“Is one wee glass of wine OK, I really couldn’t survive without it?” “No!  LOL, only joking, if you must, have it, but you know what the better choice is.”

Always look for the better choice, and if your not sure, just ask me.  

9. Don’t aim for perfection – Continuing on from the last point, you don’t need to always choose the best choice.  Firstly, try you best not to choose the worst option.  But even though you know that mashed sweet potato is better than air fryer chips, have the air fryer chips.  Just don’t opt for a bag of chips from the Shambles instead.

Where ever your nutrition is now, just start making a few better choices.  Then after 2 weeks, you can make a few more better choices.  And so on.

But aiming for perfection, trying to eat the bestest most healthiest foods from day 1, is usually the quickest route back to the Chinese.

10.  You’re Not Eating Enough Food – I know, I know, you think you are eating enough food, and you always feel full, but trust me, you’re not eating enough food.  Neither am I.  Not even close.  

I be in my best fat burning mood when I’m consuming around 2700 cals of good food.  At the leanest I’ve ever been in my life, I was eating around 3000 cals of healthy food a day.  Due to Covid and lockdown and all that crap, my nutrition went out the window, and now I struggle to eat even 1500 cals per day.  I went days through lockdown with less than 1000 cals, which caused me to gain more weight that I have in 10 years.

Remember, healthy food doesn’t cause weight gain, junk food does.  99/100 people are not eating enough good food.  

If you can begin to increase the amount of good nutritious food that you eat, especially plant foods, you’re whole life will change for the better.  I guarantee it.  Don’t believe me.  Then prove me wrong 😉

 

Meal Plan

Below is the best meal plan ever created by man.  

Meal plans are usually very strict, and rigid.  This meal plan is very flexible.  It gives you several healthy choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks, and has all been pre-calorie counted for you.

Meal plans can get quite monotonous, so you can just use if for ideas if you wish.

I’m going to get some printed versions sorted, to help make for better reading.

What I need from You

I need to get an idea of the food you are currently consuming, especially the quantities.  Please take photo’s of every meal and snack that you eat, as well as drink, except water.  Then at the end of they day when you have finished all eating and drinking, send me through all the photos from that day at one time.  You can send via Facebook messenger or Whatsapp.

Please do this for Thursday 16th Sept, Friday, & Saturday.  So that’s 3 sets of photo’s to be sent through to me this week.

I’ll then give you some advice and recommendations on Monday, where you can make changes, what needs dropped etc.

Don’t try and make any changes now, give me the best image of what your nutrition is really like. This will give me the best chance to help you.

Lifestyle

It’s not training and nutrition that causes your body to change, it’s your lifestyle.  Training and nutrition do make up a large and important part of your lifestyle.  However, there are other factors that have just as much impact on your body, as training and nutrition.

Water – Vital for life.  Fat burning is fastest when you are properly hydrated, and slows down drastically when you are dehydrated.  General rule of thumb when it comes to hydration, just drink as much water as you can.  Also know, alcohol, coffee and soft drinks like Coke Cola, dehydrate you.  Also, if you do spin or sweat a lot, you need to replace that water.  If you do sweat a lot, also try and drink a sports drink, deloralite or coconut water to help replace lost electrolytes.  

Sleep – Another vitally important factor in a healthy lifestyle.  6-8 hours good sleep per night will help your body recover and rebuild itself, especially after all your training.  Lacking in sleep for whatever reason, will certainly have a drastic effect on your health, and in most cases, your waistline.  If you are having trouble sleeping, there is a good chance there is something in your life that’s causing it, with stress being one of the main things.  Let me know if you are having issues with sleeping, and i’ll be able to give you some pointers.

Activity – Activity in this section, is your daily/weekly activity excluding exercise.  How active is your lifestyle?  Are you always on the go, have an active job, play sports regularly, go walking with friends, weekly mountain hiking or other active hobbies? Or do you spend most of your day seated? At work. At home.  Inactivity is one of the fastest ways to age your body and increase you’re waistline.  And coming into the winter, daily activity is generally reduced by all of us.  One of the reasons most people gain weight during winter.  The more active you are, the better your health and lifestyle will be.

Rest & Recovery – Another important part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.  In addition to sleep, a healthy lifestyle includes dedicated time to recovery, like stretching, epson salt bath, chillax time with a bit of music, or a forest walk.  A few hours in a day spa is hard to bate also.

So that’s most of lifestyle covered. It’s all common sense really, but sometimes we just need a wee reminder.

The thing about your lifestyle is, if you’re struggling with one part, it will have some sort of effect on the other parts, and on your body and life in general.  Again, just be conscious of your lifestyle, and try to make some positive changes in each area.  As these changes become habits, try and add in some more positive changes, and so on.

The Last Part

If you’ve read this far, hopefully you have found my guidelines simple enough to understand and follow along.  Most of it is common sense, apart from the bit about eating more. That part seems to go against the common knowledge.

If there is anything your don’t understand, or are not sure about, just message me and i’ll help you. Or catch me in the gym.

The rest is all down to you.  Ignite55 is a challenge.  We’re challenging you to change your lifestyle, to change your life.  To make better choices.  Your lifestyle is a combination of your habits.  To change your habits, you need to make new choices.  The people who do best on the challenge, are simply the ones who make the most good choices.

Remember, don’t try and achieve perfection, as you will fail quickly.  7 average days is better than 5 perfect days followed by 2 off-the-rails days.

Just give it your best shot.  Do the best you can, and that’s all anyone can ask.  Make the best choices your can, and leave yourself with no regrets.

Of course, the next Ignite55 challenge is only a few month away, but this one is here now.  Do it for yourself.  Give yourself the best chance of living the best version of you.

And, if you do happen to fall off the wagon, just get up, dust yourself off, and jump back on.  8 weeks is a very short time in the scheme of things, but plenty of time to achieve some fantastic changes.

Best of luck,

Anto

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