Life Fitness

Saturday 20 January 2018

Shape Up: Find some extra time in your day

Library image. Photo: Getty Images
Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Damien Maher

Debbie, our protagonist of the last few weeks, continues to make good progress. She has made the transition from having cereal for breakfast to one containing protein and nuts or other healthy fats.

She found the change to a protein breakfast hard at first as she had to get up earlier to cook and she felt that she did not have the appetite to stomach such a meal.

I suggested she ask her butcher to grind some beef or turkey for her and to make sure it was rusk free so that she was not adding hidden gluten products to her meals, which had previously caused her bloating.

Debbie was sceptical at first about switching to protein but after she talked to a few of our clients in the gym she felt more reassured.

One explained that his mental clarity had improved, his energy had soared, his mid-morning headaches were gone and his productivity had drastically increased during his working day once he switched from eating a cereal breakfast.


A recent study from Harvard showed how a child's breakfast influenced their food choices and calorific intake for the day.

When they ate a protein breakfast, it increased their satiety and they had less sweet cravings.

Combined with the protein, Debbie also ate a quarter of an avocado with her breakfast or else a portion of raw nuts, different types each day, and a small cup of blueberries.

She was unsure of the quantity of the nuts to take so I told her for almonds, it should be roughly 12-15 or for brazil nuts you should consume between six and eight.

With her food settling into a nice new routine, Debbie's next great challenge was time for training.

Initially she planned to commit to at least two training sessions a week at home. She would drop the kids off to school for 9am and her first collection back at the school wasn't until 1pm.

During that time Debbie said she would cook, clean and do all the housework for the whole family, which included her husband and three kids aged 12, seven and four.

I explained to her that research shows a significant difference between training three times a week and training four times a week -- results increased by 50pc.

She thought she was being selfish by going training in a gym but I pointed out to her that the stresses of trying to keep up her current routine would eventually take their toll.

We analysed which activities were taking up Debbie's time and we came up with the following solutions.

She went food shopping every day after she dropped the kids off at school. This took over an hour between driving to the shops, parking and driving home.


Debbie changed tactics and decided to shop twice a week, on Saturdays and Wednesdays. She also agreed to look at the option of shopping online.

Debbie also wrote out her food diary plan for the week in advance and made a shopping list based on this.

She felt she spent longer in the shops than was necessary and her husband agreed to look after the shopping list on Saturday.

Debbie had large gaps between her meals. She would eat her breakfast standing up whilst organising the kids for school or else she would eat her breakfast in her car.

This led to problems with her digestion and her next mealtime was when she finished the last school run at 3pm.

I explained the old Chinese proverb to her, which states that your stomach doesn't have teeth.

It is so important to chew your food properly in order to release the digestive enzymes necessary for absorption of the nutrients.

By batch cooking her meals she would eliminate some time in her meal preparation.

Debbie also agreed to explore the possibility of organising the school runs with some of her neighbours where they would alternate days in picking up the kids from school.

Now that Debbie had clawed back a number of hours a week, she felt confident she could make time for exercise and her health.

She agreed that her training time would be confined to one hour in the gym, during which she would follow a structured training programme to get maximum results in minimum time.

The lesson this week is that if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

Next week we will go through the exercise plan that was prescribed to Debbie to go from frumpy to fabulous.

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