Sunday, 31 January 2016

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference

Today I wanted to talk about attitude. It’s our approach to every aspect of life. Something that has so much impact on us but is so often overlooked.
 
So what is attitude? I thought I’d do a simple Google search for this post to see what attitude is actually defined as. And quite simply put Google said it’s:
 
“A settled way of thinking or feeling about something”
 
And I thought that pretty much summed it up really.
 
Over the last 2-3 years I have put so much emphasis on attitude. It’s something I consciously think about every day and in my quest to always be becoming a better person it’s something that’s become very important to me. I genuinely believe that our attitude determines so much in our life. Things will happen to us that upset us or anger us or that we don’t like. And sometimes it’s ok to feel those emotions but we also have to remember that we have control over those feelings too.
 
One thing I’ve learnt to do over the last couple of years is to challenge myself mentally. So when something happens in life that doesn’t quite go as I might have hoped I allow myself a period of time to feel a real emotion towards that situation. And after that time I ask myself one question; ‘so what are you going to do about it?’
 
I developed this skill a few years ago at a time when I found myself very weak and I don’t mind admitting it now, pretty pathetic. And the months after that I had to become a stronger person and more resilient to life. The next 12 months I transformed myself mentally into the person I’ve become today; through one challenge after another becoming mentally tough, focused, determined and self-reliant. Qualities I am extremely proud of and I hope I never lose.
 
For me, I’m a self-confessed control freak and I especially don’t enjoy it when I feel like I don’t have control over my emotions. So this skill helps me regain that control. For example if someone does something that upsets or disappoints me I’ll give myself 24 hours to feel rubbish about the situation (12 hours sometimes if I’m feeling particularly hard on myself) and then I’ll ask ‘so what are you going to do about it?’ and I make a decision in my head both on a practical level if I want or need to do anything but more importantly on a mental level; what attitude do I want to have towards the situation? And I decide what attitude the situation needs and I stick with it. Head strong. And for me it works. It means I pretty much always have a sense of inner peace; I don’t let anyone or anything destroy that even if things are chaotic around me. Which is why I have a quick acceptance level now to people’s behaviours and actions and situations and it’s why I don’t tolerate things in my life that negatively drain on me. I feel settled in my head. This was a particularly important trait to have when travelling solo last year where there was a lot of change and uncertainty on a daily basis.
 
Anyway the reason I write this post is because when you’re dieting and training with a particular end goal, your attitude is one of the most important things in this journey. It will ensure you hit every goal or it will ensure you miss every goal. And since coming home my attitude has been on point. Determined, focused, positive, motivated and from October to December I sailed through everything. Don’t get me wrong when I say that; it wasn’t easy but it also didn’t feel difficult for me mentally.
 
I’ve written before about my new programme that started from 4 January and the main change with this was the diet. Whilst I was eating clean before it stepped up a notch from this point to the most strict I’ve ever done and I went into it with the same attitude I’d had for the last 3 months; determined, focused, positive and motivated. Week 1 was easy. I smashed it and noticed big improvements in my body shape and in my training performance. Winning.
 
I then got ill towards the end of week 2 and from then on it was hard. I wrote last week about how badly I was craving naughty food and how hard the sacrifices were and that rolled on into week 4 too. Last Friday I had the day off work and a little bit more time to think about things and how I’m progressing and to just have some time alone to process my thoughts. Now I am my own worst critic and on Friday something kind of flipped in my head for me.
 
I reflected on my attitude over the previous 3 weeks and again challenged myself. Was I happy with my attitude? Was I being the most positive I could be? Was there anything I could change about my attitude that would make this whole process easier? And when I really thought about it; I was pretty disappointed if I’m honest with my attitude towards the diet. I’ve stuck to it (apart from the trip to Krispy Kreme which I confessed to in last week’s post) but I’ve hated on it. I’ve begrudgingly eaten my veggies, huffed and puffed about having to break down my macros every day and moaned about it to pretty much anyone that would listen.
 
Now that’s not the Rebecca I know and it’s certainly not the Rebecca I want to be. I give myself a bit of a break as it’s something new to me and it’s tough. It genuinely is. Especially when you’ve got a hectic lifestyle too. But from that moment I reminded myself why I was doing this. I reminded myself that I committed to do this and no one forced me to and that I could either make this so much harder for myself by hating it every day or I could be more positive about it which I knew would already make it so much easier for me.
 
I’m allowed a bit of a treat every 2 weeks so I’m focusing on that and I’m focusing on the days where I wake up and look in the mirror and I can see the start of some abs forming. And when I train and I can do it better because I’m not fuelling my body with rubbish. All of those things. One quote I heard from a fitness guru a few years ago which stuck in my head is that ‘you can either be the sickness in your life or you can be the cure’. And how true is that? It takes the same amount of energy to be positive or to be miserable and so it’s all about choice.
 
Now that’s not to say that since Friday I’m sailing through the diet and relishing each and every single healthy meal and not craving anything bad but it does make a difference. I stayed with friends last night and they had a selection of sweets and chocolates on the table in front of me (including Milky Bar buttons which I adore) and I can honestly say last night it didn’t kill me to not have any. I went prepared and took my big water bottle which I kept topping up, my green teas and a protein snack instead. And I was positive about not having the treats and the reasons I wasn’t having them. And I woke up this morning feeling so happy that I’d resisted.
 
So I challenge everyone to challenge your attitude. Towards everything in life but particularly if you’re dieting and trying to keep fit and perhaps feel like it’s a bit of a chore sometimes and like it’s hard work. Rather than thinking you ‘have’ to go to the gym re-programme your attitude to think more about what your goals are and that actually you ‘want’ to go to the gym because you want to reach those goals. And if you have a down day or a down hour allow yourself those times but then ask yourself what are you going to do about it? And this applies to all aspects of life. So often I hear people moan about things and they seem to forget they have the power to change things and that often comes with changing your attitude towards it first.
 
My personal trainer is very much helping me through this time; not only with the practical plans and diets but also emotionally as he knows I’ve been finding it tough the last few weeks. I very much like Michael’s approach as he’s understanding about it and acknowledges how difficult it is as he’s done it himself so knows first-hand. But he’s also very firm with me which keeps me on track…and scares me a little haha. He text me on Friday and what he said stuck in my mind; ‘the harder you are on yourself now, the easier life will be on you’. I’ll leave you with that thought.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

For the love of food...

I write this post whilst sat on my sofa on a Saturday night after eating my dinner which consisted of fish, spinach and peas and all I can think is how much I could just eat pizza or chocolate…or crisps or sweets or Nandos or cake…ok you get the picture. I’m craving all sorts of rubbish.

Yes it was as appetising as it looks
 
Dieting is hard. Very hard. So much harder than any training I could ever be made to do and to be quite honest I hate it so much. Ok maybe not hate but that’s just how I’m feeling right now. It is TOUGH.
 
Since the 4th January I’ve been eating clean and as you will recall from an earlier post my previous diets have at least accommodated one cheat meal per week but this one doesn’t and as expected the weekends are the killer. Throughout the week I can get through it easy; healthy all the way and I don’t crave anything bad. I’ve been used to doing this for almost a couple of years now and I’m that busy with work and training during the week that I don’t really get chance to think much about any naughty food. But on a weekend when a lot of people are enjoying meals out or takeaways and you have a bit more time on your hands and you go to places where you see yummy food around you all of the time, it’s so hard.
 
I probably shouldn’t be craving much tonight as I have to admit I did cave and have a Krispy Kreme donut last night. I just needed it and I was frustrated. And the worst part was I felt guilty afterwards too and this is where I don’t enjoy what dieting does to me as I don’t want to feel guilty for having a little bit of what I fancy every now and again.
 
Don't worry this was not last night. I definitely did not have a dozen. But one of many previous cheat nights with Krispy Kreme stocked up...those were the days!
 
But I am dieting. Strict dieting. And I’m doing it because I have goals; goals that I know I will only hit by having a strict diet and I know that come the time of my photo shoot at the end of March I’m going to be so thankful I did make so many sacrifices. Being on the diet I’m currently on is not a sustainable one; I know that and it’s only for a relatively short period of time (although at the moment it feels like forever) until May after which I’ll go back to a healthy balance of 80-20.
 
And I know all of this is a personal choice and I don’t have to do it however it is something I’m choosing to do and I’m just sharing my journey and that includes the lows as well as the highs. I find I’m normally ok throughout the day even on a weekend; it’s on the evening I struggle most. Normally my Saturday night would consist of a cheat meal which often was pizza (Dominoes dreaming right now – BBQ chicken base stuffed crust oh my days actually drooling) and then some dessert. What I would do for a piece of chocolate fudge cake right now. Or a cheesecake. Or a bar of chocolate to enjoy with a cuppa. I swear I could actually cry LOL.
 
Cheat nights were the best...yes that is two Dominoes pizzas (unfortunately from a year ago)
 
For those of you who haven’t ever done such a strict diet you probably won’t understand this as you read through and I’m aware I will sound like a crazy person but for those who have dieted I’m sure you can sympathise with these feelings. I constantly think about food. Often I can make my meals fairly tasty even if they are super healthy but let’s be real it’s nothing at all like stuffing your face with a chicken pitta, chips and heaps of mayo from Nandos is it?
 
And I think you find that when you’re dieting temptation is all around. Or maybe I just notice it more now I can’t have things. I’m like a child…if I know I can’t have something I want it more. I went out for breakfast this morning (healthy option of course – which killed me in itself as I just wanted the full English brekkie) and all I could see was the cake counter staring back at me. I nip into the shops and literally every aisle is stacked with chocolate and sweets or biscuits…and they’re all on offer!!!
 
I also find it really tough as no one around me is following as strict a diet and people just don’t get it. I get comments that are said in all innocence or just to tease but it’s so frustrating and makes dieting so much harder. As I type this a messages comes up from my friend telling me she’s eating Nutella cookies. Seriously, what is life? Lucy is one of my friends who does actually get the dieting game though being a fellow gym-bunny so she is extremely supportive and encouraging don’t get me wrong. She keeps me on track so much. She’s living by the 80-20 rule at the moment so cookies are allowed in her life (b**ch haha). My mum also text me earlier as I bought her a cake recipe book for her birthday this week and she said she will make me the chocolate ganache for Easter. I would love chocolate ganache for Easter but with the possibility of a competition in May; I’m afraid chocolate ganache is not going to get me shredded. So again, it’s a no from me. To which I get a reply saying ‘Ok’ with an angry face emoji. My face is angry too mum…especially now you’ve put the thought of chocolate ganache in my mind. But be sure to enjoy it on my behalf LOL.
 
So for anyone out there who is dieting, I feel your pain. People think going to the gym is hard. That 1 hour per day is easy; it’s controlling what goes on your plate the other 23 hours of the day that’s the hardest part. But anything worth having in life doesn’t come easy and it’s all about the mental toughness. I know in 9.5 weeks time it will have been worth it.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Beauty from the inside out

I deliberated about whether I wanted to write this post or not mainly because I felt a bit uncomfortable about it. But then I also thought that gives me even more of a reason to write it and hopefully someone out there will connect with it or take something away from it.
 
So up until being 24 years of age I’d had clear skin. As a teenager I’d get the odd break out now and again but nothing to complain about and this continued in my early twenties. I have to admit I took it for granted really as I didn’t know any different.
 
And then about March last year I started to get more and more breakouts. At first I couldn’t understand why this was happening; I wasn’t using any nasty chemicals on my face; my make-up was the same as what I’d always used, at that point my diet was still pretty good. The only difference was I was now in Australia as opposed to England but surely that couldn’t make that much of a difference, right?
 
For the first month or so I just tolerated it and then it got progressively worse so I altered my skincare regime and when I was travelling I had make-up free days to allow my skin to breathe and getting some sunshine to my face I thought this would clear them up. I was wrong. During May, June and July it got worse and worse to a point you could officially call it adult acne. I have got photos that I took during this time but they’re not photos that I want to share at this point. The only one thing I could identify that had changed was that I came off my contraceptive pill when I moved to Australia to give my body a break after being on it for 8 years.
 
So when I returned home in summer it’s safe to say this was one of my first stops; to go to my GP and get back on the pill in hope that it would improve my skin. For anyone who has suffered from acne in the past you will know how horrible it is and whilst make-up helps, you still feel terribly insecure as it’s impossible to cover it up fully. The pill takes a good few months to get back in your system so for the next 3 months I was in the same situation of having to deal with daily break outs. It really knocked my confidence when travelling as when you’re island hopping in Fiji in 35 degree heat the last thing you want to do is put make-up on but the prospect of stepping out bare-faced was a daunting one but one that I had to get used to doing.
 
Only my close friends and family know how bad it got and I’m not making any exaggerations here. I've shown only a few people photos that I took of my skin throughout the year and they were genuinely shocked at how bad it was. So when I came home in October the pill was just about making its way into my system again but I noticed very little improvement. As I’ve spoken about in previous posts I cleaned my diet up massively when I came home to get back on the health wagon after eating rubbish for a few months and doing little exercise. I also started taking supplements to get more goodness inside my body and pretty much immediately I noticed a big difference in my skin.
 
In addition to this I was also drinking 2-3 litres of water daily and back enjoying my herbal teas. I chose a fully organic skincare regime from The Body Shop and within a month of being back home my skin had improved remarkably. I’ve been home just over 3 months now and also got put on a mild antibiotic for my skin in December and in the last 6 weeks I’ve had 2, maybe 3 new breakouts, that’s all. A world of difference to how bad I was suffering in the summer.
 
The battle I now face is to not only keep any new breakouts to a minimum but also I’ve now been left with a lot of marks and scarring. I have a few products on the go to help with this and it will take time. I am very thankful for good make-up products and fortunately my Mac range is a life-saver.
 
So the point of my post is that whilst there are a few things that I believe have contributed towards me getting my skin back on track including the contraceptive pill and a mild antibiotic I honestly don’t think the importance of a healthy, nutritious diet can be underestimated. Giving your body what it needs and looking after it makes such a difference and it’s no good having an amazing skincare regime if you’re feeding your body rubbish. I’m all about nutrition from the inside out. Some people are blessed with good skin and their diet doesn’t massively affect it. But for others; myself included it takes a little bit more work and regardless of all the other health benefits I get from eating well I will continue to do this even just for the sake of my skin.
 
My clean diet essentially consists of eating lots of fruit and veggies, meats, very little dairy or chocolate, crisps and sweets, no processed food etc. Pretty much everything I have is freshly prepared and cooked. And extra supplements into my diet include vitamin D3, omega 3 fish oils and greens tablets. I'd done a lot of reading online about acne and skincare and many articles referenced the importance of a good diet.
 
Healthy, wholesome foods.
 
 
My skin bothered me a lot while I was away as it showed no signs of improvement and I was a little bit more body-conscious anyway as I knew I’d put on some weight. Since coming home and training regularly again and getting my body back looking toned my confidence is back and I feel happy in myself so I try not to let my skin bother me too much now. It’s not perfect but it’s getting better and I honestly believe the more confident you are in your own skin the less other people notice our imperfections.
 
I wanted to write this post even though it’s something that still makes me feel a bit uncomfortable given I’ve not shared this part of my story with many people as I think it’s important to share both the good and bad. 99% of the time I’m the happiest, most positive person ever and I’m so thankful for all I have in my life so the majority of my posts on my blog are of course positive and uplifting. But we all have battles of our own, some that people aren’t aware you’re fighting so to anyone out there going through their own battles I hope this maybe gives you a bit of comfort to know that nobody’s life is perfect, nobody has the perfect body or perfect skin; we all have our imperfections and insecurities. So be kind to each other guys.
 
Photo taken last week. No filter or editing just make up. My skin's not perfect but it's definitely improving.
 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Cardi-noooooooo.....

With the diet stepping up a gear last week it was also time for me to step my game up in the gym too. 12 weeks into my training as we headed into 2016 I’d made good progress. I came home from Australia unfit, unhealthy and un-toned so I’ve been smashing out my workouts 5-6 times per week since then.
 
As my previous posts have detailed I’ve mainly been weight training which suits me perfectly as I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than spend longer than 15 minutes doing cardio. Seriously, how boring is it? No wonder people don’t stick to fitness programmes when all their workouts consist of is the treadmill, the bike and the cross-trainer. Throw me some dumbbells or put me in the squat rack any day over that. And cardio is a bit soul destroying as guaranteed you won’t get very quick results from just hammering those machines; you need some weights thrown into the mix. Anyway that’s enough of the cardio-bashing for now. Put simply, I hate it.
 
So you can imagine the sheer look of horror on my face when my PT told me that my new training programme (which I’ve started this week) consisted of some additional sessions…of…fasted cardio. Two of my biggest hates put together; cardio and being hungry. Excellent. Now I did some fasted cardio in 2014 before I went to Australia to try and improve my results in the six week build-up. And this pretty much consisted of me dragging my ass out of bed at 6am every weekday morning, doing half an hour on the treadmill and then heading off to work before doing a weights session on an evening. And my only real memory of this is my body constantly being worn out, hating the cardio and my washing pile becoming bigger and bigger. And more disappointing I didn’t get as greater results as I hoped to with doing such a strenuous regime.
 
But New Year, new programme and there’s very few things I’ll refuse to try (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it and all that!) so like a boss I’ve taken the advice of my PT and it’s back to fasted cardio. This time it’s a little different as I only have to do it two mornings per week and it only takes me 10 minutes (win!) plus on the Friday when I do it I don’t have to train on an evening. So Michael has appeased me with this approach and I’m all over it, open minded, keen to see the results.
 
So Sunday evening I got myself set for Monday; day 1 which is fasted cardio in a morning and PT session in the evening. What a way to kick start your week hey? Outfit laid out for the morning session and outfit packed in my kit bag for the evening session. Alarm set for 05:45 and breakfast stuff prepared for when I get home after my cardio. Preparation on point!
 
20:45 bed time on Sunday (living life on the edge, I know) as I cannot function without sleep and 05:45 the alarm strikes. I’m actually feeling really fresh when I wake up and after the morning ritual of having a quick browse through Facebook and Instagram I jump out of bed straight into my active wear, quick cup of green tea, hair thrown up, cap on to avoid having to make any sort of effort with my face, teeth brushed and I’m out of the door for 06:25. Standard Snapchat video to some of my friends as I moan at how cold it is as I step outside and how dark it is (come on summer, hurry up) and prove how dedicated I am while they’re happily still snoozing away.
 
By 06:40 I’m on the treadmill, music pumping (well as pumping as Justin Bieber gets…guilty pleasure) and I smash out my 10 minutes; 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off of sprints. Quick stretch afterwards and I’m wide awake by now and home for just after 07:00. Breakfast was on the table by 07:30 and I don’t think my stomach had chance to realise it hadn’t been fed by this point as the anticipated hunger pangs didn’t strike at all. Jump in the shower and get ready for work and I'm sat at my desk for 08:10...just call me superwoman (or crazy b**ch as one of my colleagues affectionately referred to me haha - I actually kinda agreed when at 07:00 I was jumping around the apartment block full of energy and loving life far too much for a Monday morning)
 
Action shot on the treadmill...
 
The idea with fasted cardio is to use it as a good fat-burning exercise to start the day and kick off your metabolism. That alongside a clean diet and some strong weight sessions and I should see a big difference on my mission to get shredded over the next few weeks.
 
Was it hard getting out of bed at that hour? Not so much after a 9 hour sleep. Was the cardio as bad as I thought? No, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how easy I found it. After all 10 minutes is nothing right? Did I get tired throughout the day? No, in fact I had more energy than normal. Was I happy to get back squatting and deadlifting heavy weights come my PT session at 5pm? Absolutely; I will never be converted. But for now, fasted cardio…you’re alright!!
 
 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Hello 2016...goodbye treats!

Happy New Year to everyone, I hope the first week of 2016 is treating you well. As you all know I eat pretty clean anyway but as of this week my dieting game has stepped up a gear and for the foreseeable future I’ll be eating 100% clean. For the last couple of months I’ve been living by the 80-20 rule (80% clean and 20% of whatever else I fancy) so my diet hasn’t been bad overall but now it’s time to remove any cheats and treats for a few weeks.
 
The purpose of me doing this is to really shred any excess body fat and see how good I can get my body looking. By 100% clean I mean cutting out all the obvious bad stuff such as chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cake etc. and then also cutting back on certain carbs and fats and just having more wholesome, nutritious foods.
 
So in this post I’ve done a daily diary so you can see how I’ve found my first week. I won’t do weekly updates on my diet but I’ll keep you up to speed with how I’m finding my new training programme and nutritional plan.
 
Sunday 3 January
 
Today is my final day before the 100% clean eating plan starts tomorrow. During the last week I’ve allowed myself more treats than normal in preparation for this and I have to admit I am ready to get back fully clean after over-indulging. Over the last 7 days I’ve enjoyed Krispy Kreme, Nandos, a Chinese takeaway, pizza and an array of chocolate, biscuits and sweets. I can already feel it in my body as I feel more sluggish and I can see it straight away showing on my tummy but I needed this so that tomorrow I’m totally in the zone. It will be a good while before I have any of these again.
 
I’m excited to get started and see what happens to my body over the next 4 weeks but I’m also dreading it. I have a major sweet tooth and I just adore nice food so the thought of not having anything naughty for the next 4 weeks is pretty daunting. Previously I could keep focused during the week as I knew I’d have a cheat meal to look forward to on the weekend so I’m a bit nervous about how I’ll push through the weeks when I haven’t got that one meal to look forward to. But when I set my mind on something; it’s totally happening so I’m not worried about my willpower. I spent this afternoon prepping my food; I’ve got a diet plan outlined for the next 5 days so I know what I’m eating each day and most of this is now ready to grab out of the fridge.
 
Monday 4 January
 
I survived. It was pretty easy today to be honest. Scrambled eggs for brekkie, steak and sweet potato for lunch and a chicken superfoods salad for dinner. I also threw in some nuts and raisins as a snack, a green smoothie, carrots and organic houmous and a protein shake. So anyone who thinks dieting means being hungry; you’re wrong. You can eat plenty of food it just has to be the right stuff. The hardest part of the day was this evening as I went to give blood for the first time. I was feeling a little queasy afterwards so the nurses were trying to force-feed me biscuits and crisps. Now when a healthcare professional is encouraging you and you feel a bit light-headed it can be hard to refuse…but I prepared and I took my nuts and raisins to have afterwards instead. No excuses.
 
My first experience of giving blood.
 
 
Tuesday 5 January
 
Day 2 done and still no drama. Breakfast was scrambled eggs; lunch was a pot of tuna infusions and wholegrain rice. Dinner was a chicken superfoods salad again and my snacks today consisted of carrot sticks, a green smoothie, peanut butter on rice cakes and a protein shake. As I’m sat in bed writing this about an hour and half after dinner I am feeling a bit hungry but it will just be a big glass of water for me and then bed time as I have to be up early for bootcamp. Yay.
 
Wednesday 6 January
 
Still going strong. So far I’m not having any difficulties in staying on track. I am finding I am a bit hungry after my evening meal so I maybe need to look at what I’m having for dinner and just make sure I’m getting the right balance in my diet. Today’s diet has been a breakfast smoothie, tuna and rice for lunch and turkey mince meatballs with sweet potato for dinner. This was a new recipe I tried from my ‘Shredded Chef’ book and the meatballs were really nice and so easy to make which is great as I’m not the best cook. Snacks today were similar to previous days with a protein shake, carrot sticks, a green smoothie and some raisins. No massive cravings as of yet for anything bad so that’s good.
 
Turkey mince meatballs for dinner
 
 
Thursday 7 January
 
Day 4 and I’m chuffed today because I had my PT session this evening and my PT noticed a big difference already in my body looking more lean. This is the only motivation I need to stick with the diet. Today I’ve had avocado omelette for breakfast, tuna and rice for lunch and turkey mince meatballs with sweet potato for dinner. My diet will become quite repetitive which is important so that my PT and I can assess it properly and then make changes accordingly depending how I feel and how my body looks. My snacks today have been a green smoothie, carrot sticks and houmous and a protein shake.
 
Friday 8 January
 
End of the working week, 5 days down and I have to say it’s been an awesome week diet wise. I knew the working week would be though so I’ll see how I get on over the weekend. Today I’ve enjoyed scrambled eggs for breakfast, a healthy homemade chicken curry for lunch with some wholegrain rice and for dinner I went to my parent’s house having given firm instructions of what I’m allowed or not. My mum’s a star and checks everything with me before making it to make sure it fits with my plan so tonight was chicken in herbs and some vegetables. I had some natural fat-free yoghurt and raspberries for dessert. My snacks today were carrot sticks and houmous, peanut butter on rice cakes and a green smoothie. No protein shake today as it’s my rest day and I normally have this within 30 minutes of training. I miss training when I have a rest day but my body definitely needs it today.
 
Saturday 9 February
 
Onto the weekend and today I’ve felt surprisingly ok at being on my diet. Saturday was always going to be my toughest day as I’d normally have a cheat meal but not this week and I haven’t missed it really. Today’s meals were scrambled eggs for breakfast, protein pancakes for lunch and I was permitted to have a jacket potato with tuna sweetcorn for dinner. So a bit of a treat as I won’t normally have potato but it’s not pizza is it? Snacks have been a protein shake, a small smoothie, dried mango and my friend and I made some protein truffles as a treat (details on my recipe page).
 
Saturday's circuit session with Lucy
 
 
Sunday 10 February
 
Final day of the week and pleased to say so far it’s been a doddle. Today I’ve had scrambled eggs for brekkie, a green smoothie for lunch and tonight I’ll be having a chicken superfoods salad. I had a protein shake after the gym and some protein truffles as a snack and later on if I need a little something to eat after dinner it will probably be some nuts and raisins.
 
So overall I’m one week into my diet and feeling awesome. More energy, more alert, my body feels so much leaner in just one week and my performance in the gym has really improved (not just due to the diet but I think it’s helped). As I’ve had such a good week I’m really motivated for this next week too and determined to stay on track. Throughout the week I’ve been having a litre of lemon water within the first hour of waking up and then throughout the day drinking 2 more litres of water plus a couple of herbal teas. I have a normal tea (milk, no sugar) with my breakfast and sometimes if I fancy one after my evening meal but these are the only things I drink.
 
Week 1 comparison pics. Not heaps of difference in my body yet but I feel much more leaner and I know I'm on the right track...
 
 
I’ll keep you posted as the weeks go on…

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Breaking the social norms...

I’m already aware that this post is probably going to come across as a bit of a rant so I apologise in advance but the content is still spot on and I feel like a bit of a rant on this subject after the Christmas period.
 
So what do I mean by social norms? I’m 25, single and got my own place so I should be out partying every weekend and living life to the full right? And by living life to the full I mean drinking, socialising, dating and all the fun stuff that comes with that yes? If you’re thinking no, then thank you I’m in agreement but it would appear the rest of the world does not agree.
 
 
It’s something that regularly frustrates me but I feel it more over the holiday period when it’s one party after another, constant social events, copious amounts of alcohol and whatever other drunken antics that come with that. So over the last 6 weeks I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked why I’m not drinking at social events. Because that’s just not normal right? Actually I hate the taste of alcohol; if I was picking a beverage purely on the taste of it, it absolutely would not be alcoholic as it’s quite simple; I don’t like it. Just like some people don’t like coffee (me included) or herbal teas or milk but god forbid I don’t like alcohol. That’s just not normal.
 
Now don’t get me wrong I have the occasional blow out where I admit I drink alcohol purely to get drunk and just release some stress and have a good time (as I did a couple of weeks ago) and each and every time I live to regret it the next day. For me it’s simply not worth waking up feeling like rubbish, feeling horrendous all day, it impacting on my workouts for the next couple of days and my body just overall feeling horrible. Sometimes you do just need to let your hair down though and have a good night out drinking and dancing with friends and that’s ok, which is why I do it 2-3 times per year but that’s it.
 
I’ve also been questioned whether I’m going to be eating ‘normal food’ over Christmas. Because you see eating healthy, nutritious food like fruits and vegetables, fish and meats, shakes and foods that are high in protein that my body actually needs to function correctly aren’t normal. But if I overdose on pizza and pasta eating myself into a carbohydrate coma and indulge in the chocolates and the foods high in fats and other stuff that makes your body feels rubbish and sluggish, that’s perfectly normal. Now that probably sounds crazy based on the actual facts stated above but in reality that is the general view and response to nutritional habits.
 
 
The amount of times I get asked if I’m going out partying this weekend. Which more often than not my response is no. To which I get perplexed responses asking ‘well what will you do instead?’ Now sometimes I really do sit in disbelief at people. What could I possibly do other than go out partying and get drunk on a weekend? Maybe I’ll just hang out with my friends, go to the cinema, go for a nice meal or actually…wait for it…I’ll stay in on my own watching TV on a Saturday night. Shock horror. But that’s not fun is it? For a 25 year old girl to spend her weekend doing that. Especially when you’re single; it’s not like you’ve got a guy to cuddle up to on a Saturday night and watch a film with is it?
 
Nights spent in the hot tub instead of going out...
 
I also enjoy my Nutribullet shakes. Often the green ones made up of spinach, apple, kale, banana, chia seeds and water. Granted, they don’t look like the most appealing thing in the world but they actually taste pretty good, have so much nutritional benefit and are a great filling snack to have during the day. Most of the time I have these whilst I’m at work and I’ve lost count of the amount of weird looks I get or ‘what the hell is that?’ questions I get. Now a lot of it is light-hearted banter with my colleagues as they know me well enough by now to know this is the norm for me, but the principle stays the same. If I sat with a big mac on my desk with a side of fries and a large full-fat Coke no one would bat an eye-lid (well they might do if it was me eating it but in general that’s the attitude). And that’s the challenges we face daily.
 
Now when it comes to dating it’s a whole challenge in itself and I start to line up the coincidence in the fact I’ve been single almost 3 years and it’s almost 3 years since I started training and living healthier haha. You get chatting to guys and standard questions come up as to what you do in your spare time to which I respond gym, train, a bit more gym and a bit more training. And generally guys seem to quite like that at the start with the comments ‘oh it’s so great you look after yourself’, ‘I like a girl that enjoys training’ etc. etc. The most cringe element of this is when guys pretend to be into training and the gym as much as you are and also assume that because you’re a girl you have no idea about training so try and reel off some bullshit about what they do and you know it’s simply that; bullshit. But that’s another story.
 
And then all of a sudden it’s not such a popular choice when you can’t see them that often because you’re training or you turn down going out for dinner as you’ve already had your cheat meal that week. Or you won’t be out on the weekend getting drunk ready to be someone’s ‘booty call’. Yes I realise you’ve got to have a balance in your life and sometimes you think screw it I’ll go out for dinner twice this week and eat what I want but to be honest there are few people out there who fully understand when you live the sort of lifestyle that I enjoy living. And I think especially with guys if they aren’t into that lifestyle they find it perhaps a bit intimidating that a girl is and maybe off-putting too.
 
Come on abs...I know you're in there somewhere...
There are all these ‘societal expectations’ all of the time and I feel for everyone in a similar position to me. The amount of times I get called boring or that I’m old before my time or that I need to ‘live a little’ is unreal. And some of that might be tongue in cheek but I just think it’s rude. Don’t talk to me about ‘living a little’ when I’ve spent 10 months this year at the other side of the world doing things that most people will only ever dream of doing and experiencing new things every day whilst people have plodded along in their everyday lives at home just getting drunk on weekends. Now there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you choose to do but don’t tell me that I’m boring and insinuate that my lifestyle is the wrong one and yours is the right one.
 
My dad made a comment recently when we were driving to visit family on Christmas Day. We saw someone out running and he said ‘it’s a pity they’ve got nothing better to do on Christmas Day’. Bless my dad; this is a typical dad comment. But I’m sure there are many others who would think the same thing. But what’s wrong with that? Maybe that person loves going out running but due to work commitments never gets much chance in daylight during winter so thought what a good opportunity on a rare day off. Or maybe they got bought some new trainers for Christmas and they just couldn’t wait to get out there and try them. Or you know what; maybe they just wanted to. And that’s as simple as it needs to be. No one would get quizzed for drinking 5 pints on Christmas Day would they? But someone going out running they will get questioned why. And that’s what I find so often frustrates me; the constant need to justify and explain just because of a certain lifestyle I choose to live.
 
So what does my lifestyle look like on a weekly basis?
 
Monday to Friday I work office hours (somewhere between 07:30-18:00 generally). I have PT sessions Monday and Thursday evenings, I go to Bootcamp at 06:45 on a Wednesday morning, train Tuesday evenings, often have Friday as my rest day and then train Saturday and Sunday morning. So during the week I make minimal social plans as my job is very demanding so often I’m worn out and training is my priority. I will occasionally hang out with friends who will come to mine or I will go to theirs and we’ll just have a cuppa and catch up but generally I don’t go out during the week.
 
On a Saturday I will wake up around 08:00 head to the gym, get a couple of hours training in and then Saturday afternoon go shopping, visit family, see friends, go for food etc. Saturday evenings vary in what I do depending on what everyone’s doing and then Sunday is often similar to my Saturday.
 
Mornings spent throwing these around for fun!
 
Do I actually enjoy my lifestyle? This is something that people will ask me. I’m assuming they ask this on the basis of me spending a lot of time in the gym and also having a restricted diet mainly. And yes I absolutely love my healthy, active lifestyle. Would I rather wake up on Saturday fresh after 9 hours sleep, raring to go, my body feeling rested and have a productive day doing nice things? Or would I rather wake up about midday hungover from the night before, eat rubbish food all day, nap on the sofa, then curl back up in bed at night desperate to sleep it all off? It’s a no brainer for me. And yes I’m all about enjoying my Friday night too before any of you jump in but again would I rather spend my Friday night with friends enjoying a nice dinner and chat and maybe be in bed for 11pm or would I rather be in a rowdy club with some drunken teenager spilling their drink over me, a middle-aged guy trying to chat me up and finish up with a greasy takeaway at the end of the night before rolling into bed at 4am. Again, no brainer.
 
Not to mention would I rather look toned, fit, feel good in my clothes, be proud of my body I’m working hard to get or would I rather cover up in jumpers, pose for photos breathing in for dear life and picking outfits that hide my wobbly bits? Again, no brainer. Bit of a pattern forming here.
 
Another day...another training session.
 
Because of the life I have it can sometimes be tiring. Not just from training but I have a high-pressured job and I live on my own so have all the usual stuff to do such as washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning etc. And one thing that annoys me as well is if I have a day where I’m tired I will often get the comment ‘you’re doing too much have a few days off the gym’. Ermm no. For me the gym is not a chore, it’s not something I do begrudgingly; it’s something I do because I enjoy it. Work stresses me out and tires me out a lot more than the gym but obviously I can’t just have a few days off work when I feel tired. But again, the gym is something I do to keep fit and healthy and people use that as the first suggestion of what to drop when you’re feeling tired. Forget the other things in your life that stress you out; I know let’s suggest you drop the one thing that keeps you sane and actually healthy. It’s madness!!
 
And I honestly believe that leading such a healthy and active lifestyle has had such a positive impact on the rest of my life. It helps me so much mentally to be in a good place in my head, to be in control of my thoughts and my decisions and look and feel at my best. Before I started training I was such a worrier and not that confident in myself and felt a bit lost in life. Part of this was down to other aspects of my life and I’m not going to lie and say I have everything fully together in my life right now and never have any doubts etc. because I do. But overall I’m a much brighter and positive person and since this change in my attitude and approach to life, so much good has happened. In the 3 years since I changed my lifestyle I’ve built the confidence to go out there and travel, seeing some of the world on my own, I’ve secured 2 great promotions which for someone of my age are not to be underestimated, I’ve graduated with a first class honours degree whilst I also worked full-time and I’ve gained so many awesome people into my life.
 
Now you might think this is all coincidence with my lifestyle change and if you want to think that, that’s fine but I know the difference that health and fitness has made to my life overall and I know it has for so many others in more than just a visual look with your body and that is not to be underestimated.
 
I do enjoy my weekly cheat meal and a couple of days relaxed diet over Christmas or winding down on holidays but I realise that my lifestyle is more to the extreme of living a fit and healthy one and a lot of people don’t get that. That’s ok. It’s not your journey to understand and I’m perfectly happy with my lifestyle. I’ve had the years where I’ve gone out getting drunk every weekend and I’m thankful for those times and have a lot of good memories. But it’s time for me to make different memories now. And I get that my lifestyle does make it harder to meet someone who’s compatible but I’ve never been one for settling for second best and I will hold out for the day I meet someone who shares the love for my lifestyle and who’ll wake up with me on a Saturday morning to go train and then bond over protein shakes haha.
 
So I realise I have ranted on now for a considerable time but I hope I’ve made my point. Everyone chooses to live their life differently; there’s no right and wrong; it’s individual choice. But let those individuals make that choice without judging them. Don’t question what you don’t understand and don’t make comments on things you know very little about.