Hi 2018! Bit of a lengthy-ish post coming up!

So I’ve been a little absent from the whole internet-y social media world as of late. While I’m all too aware that 90% of what you see online is fake or only the absolutely best snippets of someone’s life, I found myself profoundly affected by having a 24/7 view-only access to lifestyles that were completely unachievable for me.

So I opted to take a hiatus from all of it; it was doing nothing for my self-esteem and my 2017 has been hard enough without that shit. Amazingly within the space of week I already felt better, the frighteningly long hours that I would have wasted each day on Facebook etc, I spent doing things I actually enjoy. Hell even just sitting staring into space was a vastly more enjoyable activity that looking at “#blessed” 4 million times over.

It’s been a couple of months without (maybe 3/4ish) and now. I feel like I come back at this world with a plan of what I want out of social media. For me I’ve realised for me the enjoyment is in being useful and relatable and to me that means it’s about blogs and sharing with people who enjoy life while being grounded in reality.

I love to learn and get a bit of a useful hint, tip or solution to get me through life and last year I learned countless useful bits and pieces around FODMAP/IBS on various blogs. On instagram and the like, I’ve enjoyed seeing everyday people just getting on with it. I like people who share all that it takes to achieve a goal and then seeing them achieve it, people that tell you honestly what it takes, proper blood sweat and tears (and food of course). I’ll believe the badass Lifter that eats a balanced diet and treats themselves to a pizza before I’ll believe the person that tells you the only way to be like them is some random companies fat burning supplements. The last thing I want is another year of scrolling through nonsense where “athletes” spew out nothing but motivational quotes and constant product placement (lets be real here, we’d all think your products were great if we got them massively discounted or even for free).

So for 2018 I’m getting really real about shit. Instagram, I’ll follow you if your interesting, if you’re about food and lifting we’ll get along just smashingly! If you’re about showing off wealth and the kind of fitness where all you do is take constant gym selfies or any other posing selfie and post ABSOLUTELY ZERO workout or fitness activity I don’t think we’re meant to be.

Also (my main rant about instagram) No longer will I follow people if they only follow me so that I’ll be polite and follow back and then immediately unfollow me (seriously how shitty is that?!). I want to enjoy Instagram the way I did in the begging and if that means quality not quantity; sure I won’t end up “insta-famous” but I’d rather have 10 awesome followers I can relate to than 10,000 shite ones.

So this year I’m all about me; and here’s what you should know

  • I’m no ones “ambassador” or “athlete”, though I will constantly share photos of my socks cause I love them (I buy every pair with my own hard earned pennies).
  • I’ll constantly talk about food, like 99.9% of it will be about food.
  • I’ll seldom post photos of me posing in the gym, I go to the gym to lift and you should too
  • Sometimes (rarely) I’ll post a photo of me, the reason will be I feel particularly proud of myself that day and also I suppose it helps to see what all my eating and lifting is achieving. Though said photos will never involve any expected stereotypical female fitness pose (we’re all equal and I show off the guns if I want dammit)
  • I’ll complain when it gets tough or sometimes (heaven forbid) I’ll skip a workout, cause sometimes I’d rather just sit on my ass.
  • I’ll give you this one motivational quote (just in case you really need one) “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. If you can appreciate and accept that, you’ll figure out how to achieve your goals.

So for now it’s bring on 2018, hopefully I can stay strong and keep at it (blogging and lifting)! Below is me being fearsome for your enjoyment… hehehe

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The Meat-tox: Making a Good Habit out of a Bad one

A few weeks ago I had the absolute joy of going to Pula (Croatia) for a weeks holiday. Now, I went with the best intentions;  I was going to keep working out each day and stick to the meal plan…all I will say is that I came home 7lbs heavier (essentially putting all of my pre-transformation weight, plus some more, back on)…

It’s not that I was eating unhealthy food (quite the opposite), I just ate waaay too much of the good stuff. Part of that was meat, I ate A LOT of meat so, by the time I got home I decided I needed a few days meat-free.

So generally I eat meat every day, a good mix of fish, red and white meat. Since it’s pretty much tasty with minimal effort, I’m not especially adventurous with my cooking; so taking meat out of the equation has always made me nervous. What would I eat? A plate of raw veg for lunch and dinner? No thanks! So, with this in mind, I decided for 4 meat free days I had to make an effort and get some recipes. Cue ‘Womens Health’ ‘Eat Clean Get Lean’.

This Magazine/book hybrid, along with my Womens Health and Train magazines made this deep dive into vegetarianism  marvellous experience!

Here’s my Veggie Venture in Pictures!
Sweet Treats/Breakfasts: Raspberry Chia Pot and Apple Cinnamon 0% Fage yogurt

Salads/Lunches: Fig/Freekeh Salad (top/bottom left), Chilli Mango Salad (top right), Blackberry Feta Salad (Mid/Bottom Right) and Pea and Green Lentil Salad (Mid Bottom)

Down-right Awesome Dinners: Baked Sweet Potato and Balsamic Lentils (top left), Wild Rice Stuffed Squash (top right), Baked Potato with mixed Pulses (Mid Right), 4 Bean and Quinoa Chilli (Bottom Left), Aubergine and Chickpea Curry (Mid Bottom/Bottom Right)

Conclusions: First thoughts on this experience is that I am a damn good vegetarian cook, every meal turned out great and tasted wonderful! I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to take up “Meat-Free Monday’s”.
Overall my meat-tox was an amazing and eye-opening experience. Vegetarian is an exceptionally varied and colourful diet that does encourage you to be more adventurous with your cooking. Admittedly it is tough to get your proteins naturally and keep the macro’s where you want them; but 110% I’d recommend putting a meat-free day into your meal plan!

(Also worth noting – by the end of my meat-tox I had lost 5lbs of my holiday weight, although I suspect some of it was water weight!)

#GetReal -“Leg it”: The Holiday Mode downfall

So I’m 4 weeks into the new training plan but admittedly I’ve experienced my first set back: I went on holiday…
Now it was an awesome holiday (I recommend Croatia for holidaying) but my willpower folded at the first dinner. The food was AMAZING (and all good clean food) but I ate far too much of and I am now paying the price (I’ll post my recovery efforts another time).

So with this in mind my stats are not really a good indicator of my efforts this time

Current Stats:
138lbs / 62.6kg
15% Bodyfat
20.25in  Leg

Current Leg PB’s:
Press: 90kg
Squat: 52.5kg
Romainian Deadlit: 45kg (never tried to go higher as was perfecting technique/form first)
Deadlift: 87.5kg

So worth noting that my leg measurement has gone up a teeny wee bit so there is progress and my lifts are increasing each week. In fact yesterday was my first post-holiday leg day so there are some rather powerful doms today!

So we’ve got some gains (although mostly in the wrong place due to my being greedy) but now with all that good holiday grub behind me I can push on and work it!

#GetReal – The”Leg-it” Progress Journal

So I’ve just finished the 12-Week transformation challenge and while my upper body and abs are rejoicing; someone forgot to tell my legs we were building muscle…

Current Stats:
133lbs / 60.3kg
14.5% Bodyfat
20in / 50.8cm Leg

Current Leg PB’s:
Press: 90kg
Squat: 45kg
Romainian Deadlit: 45kg (never tried to go higher as was perfecting technique/form first)
Deadlift: 85kg

I shoud point out that I have never skipped leg day, my legs just look like they’ve never seen a squat rack. They are pretty tough but while I’ve buit up their strength, the definition is lacking and this displeases me greatly!

So here we go, post 12 week, stage 2 starting pic!

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Watch those legs – we gonna work em!

#GetReal – My Story

To mark the beginning of #GetReal; I figure the best place to start is with me; so here’s my story. It’s admittedly not the most exciting or life changing but, as is the purpose of #GetReal, it’s a real and unedited story.

My transformation isn’t about dramatic weight loss, yes like most, I’ve been heavier than I wanted to be, but I’ve never been in the medically defined “overweight” category. My issue was that, as of late was I was growing into a terrible snacker. I was starting to feel as though I had no “off” switch when it came to snacks (why eat one biscuit when you can eat the whole pack then that’s it gone right?) It was a habit that if I didn’t bring no check I was going to lose control…

On a separate (but related) note, my interest in weightlifting began with my boxing coach a couple of years ago; we’d do one session a week focusing on power and I found myself really enjoying the challenge in lifting and of course I was liking the improvements it was making to my strength and abilities. It wasnt until around July last year that I really linked my food to my fitness and started getting into the idea of having a more structured eating and training plan (upon the discovery of Bodybuilding.com). Again I could see it was having a positive effect as much as it was growing my interest, I was eating healthier meals and immersing further into lifting; but the snacking was still there (and feeling like it too was gaining strength)

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Me in July 2015
This year however, has been the game changer. In March I signed up for the ‘Protein Discount Card’ “12 Week Transformation Challenge”. This consisted of a prescribed meal and training plan and an accompanying Facebook group to get to know your onine coaches and fellow challengers!

The first noticeable change was my eating. Ok in week 1 it was my birthday and I ate a whole cake over that week, but I think at that point I realised that I really did need to sort out my eating… Within 3 weeks I found the snacking had stopped and the urges were fading until they stopped altogether. Plus with all the training, I was seeing changes that I really liked, and this was actually a strong enough incentive to put the biscuits down and carry on!

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Me week 1 of the Challenge – Feb 2016
So after 12 weeks of working out and eating right I lost 5 pounds in weight, 2 inches off of my waist and dropped 2% in bodyfat. I have muscle definition and a developing 6 pack! Something that I can safely say I have never had in my life; I’m stronger and more motivated than ever to keep going. My diet is full of vegetables and low in dairy (being lactose intolerant this is a huge and beneficial accomplishment to have made), I enjoy food so much that I was driven to start this journey into blogging, nutrition and the fitness world. I’ve also met some wonderful people, the real eye opener here was seeing how vital a good support system is in staying on track.

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Me at Week 12 – May 2016
So with the first stage of my journey done, I move onto to stage 2. Now I am building on my 12 week base and working toward becoming even stronger and, as I make my way in the world of Fitness and lifting, I shall be taking you all along for the ride!!

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Before and After! One lesson from this challenge is that it is very tough to see muscles on my super pale skin!
Interested? A new Challenge is starting soon, head over to https://www.proteindiscountcard.com/ to find out more and sign up!

BodyPower Expo 2016 -My first fitness roadtrip!

So now that I’m firmly back in reality, let’s talk about my weekend adventure to Birmingham and the BodyPower Expo!

So what is BodyPower?
Lifted straight off their website (www.bodypower.com)
“Started in 2009, BodyPower UK has grown into the most celebrated and comprehensive fitness event in the UK, attracting, inspiring and motivating 90,000 plus health and fitness enthusiasts over three days.”

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In my words it’s a weightlifters heaven – A few of my favourite things are weights, clothes and food and this place had all 3 in abundance. With events, fitness challenges, bodybuilding competitions, clothing/food/equipment stalls and lots (and lots) of free samples, you eat, shop and show off your skills all in one very big place. And if that’s nt enough, you’ve got seminars, demonstrations, workshops and a gym to g along to should you wish!

So here are my Bodypower Highlights
Sampling and Free Stuff!
Yep virtually every stand had a protein bar, shake, pre/intra/post workout drink and glorious nut butter to sample! A personal favourite was Dr Zaks; where I attempted to overdose on nut butter and protein bread/bagels (& came home with a truly wonderful Apple and Cinnamon Peanut butter). Another was “Oh Yeah!” protein bars, I resisted buying any at the event although they were sooo good I’ll definitely be putting an order in sometime soon! Also most of the big nutrition names (Optimum, Maxi, CNP, Bodybuilding.com) had bags of freebies to giveaway if you were willing to wait in the Disneyworld style queues and sign up to a mailing list. I got around most so I now have a collection of free t-shirts, lots of whey and a MyProtein shaker (win!)
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(my day 1 freebie haul alongside some of my purchases)

Shopping! This was my whole purpose in being at Bodypower, I wanted to shop and shop I did. Discovered LOADS of new brands and got some new kit from my go-to brands (Greens Powder from Bulkpowders was a very pleasant surprise).

GirlPower!
The real winner for me in terms of content was the irlPower zone. This was an area set up just to present and educate the women in the industry. My absolute number one top highlight was Erin Sterns talk (she is my hero) on motivating, training and eating. I left feeling truly inspired and ready to really lay out my goals and start making my place in the fitness world.
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Seeing actual bodybuilding Competitions in Person
While there I stopped by the arena to watch one of the competitions. Since I started lifting  have been intrigued by the “Bikini” class bodybuilders. Curious to see just how defined a competition state athlete was, I watched the Junior Bikini USN Classic. To my surprise it was a fantastic event to watch (putting aside my sparkly bikini envy – swarovski superfan here); it made me change my view on these type of competitions. I was always suspicious of an event based purely on women strutting around in bikinis and being judged. However, on seeing how much the competitors enjoy it, and the enthusiasm of the (male and female) audience; made me realise that isn’t a bikini parade, it’s a celebration of really hard work, building a body like that is not easy, nor is choosing to face up to the stereotypical idea of female beauty. These women are showing us that pride and perseverance are assets worth showing off!
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(sorry for the fuzzy photo, I’ll be better prepared next time!)

So yes BodyPower was AMAZING and I am already excited for next year. I am now fully recovered from my nut butter hangover and feeling really inspired to carry on lifting!
And for your own amusement, here is me pulling a really stupid face for a photo!
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Feel free to sign up for the Maxi Nutrition Challenge if you’re feeling inspired (the website is a the bottom of the photo there)!

#GetReal – My first 1-Woman Mission

#GetReal is my first campaign/mission on the blog and I reckon it’ll be an ongoing one rather than the short-burst viral campaign vision I had in my head (mainly as I have no idea how to create a viral campaign).

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The inspiration for “Get Real” came from two things: very annoying (and often hurtful) stereotypes aimed at women and the excuses people make when it comes to improving health through food and/or exercise.

The Stereotypes:

“Real women have…..” “Real women are…”

I am so very tired of seeing these phrases. While I’m certain that there are plenty of wonderful women out there that do have curves or are size whatever but, just because I don’t fit that particular brief, it does not mean that I am somehow less of a woman. Real women have and haven’t got lots of things, in my eyes, if your heart tells you’re a woman, then you are woman, you need to pass a checklist to join the club…

“Weight lifting makes women look manly”

All I’m going to say is: No. No it does not.

The Plan: What it #GetReal going to do?

Well, let’s be honest, this campaign needs to give you something worthwhile as it’s most likely you’re reading this because you’re:

  •  Interested in fitness/nutrition and just like t follow other people who are too.
    You want to lose weight/get more active/eat healthier
  • You’d like to change up you eating/activity to improve health but you dont really know   where to start
  • You’re just curious to see what I’m going to write
  • You know me personally and I have guilted you into reading my blog

My main aim is making “being realistic” a part of your own plan when approaching change. I know that sounds negative but long term success comes from long term change and this is by far the most difficult aspect of any plan, it’s not just a few weeks kind of thing. There is no quick fix to changing your lifestyle and at times it’s really bloody hard, so setting realistic goals can make a big difference.
However, by being realistic we can create goals that suit our own needs (your plan needs to be about you, no one else) and make changes (big or small) that make you feel good and motivated to keep striving for more.

So! Finally these are my goals for #GetReal:

  • Using my own story of getting into shape to highlight the realities of making a lifestyle change. We very seldom see beyond the”Before and After” of most peoples stories so, with no idea of what happened in between, it’s hard to understand just how that person succeeded. So I’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly, the challenges, successes and failures, in a bid to help you see the truth behind the end result.
  • Share simple steps that you can take to help you in reaching your health/fitness goals
  • Build a community for everyone to share their story – I would absolutely love to create a place where you can go to share success, stories, motivate and be motivated. Recently I’ve found Facebook groups to be such a great help to me and it’s my ultimate goal to bring the benefits of a community to as many people as possible. If you’d like to share your story, please get in touch through our Facebook/Instagram page!

There will be take-away tips for help with planning a lifestyle change however, as always just make sure that you always seek professional (GP, personal trainer, Dietician etc) guidance before trying anything new or if you have medical conditions/requirements/concerns.

The Protein Bar Chronicles: Grenade Episode 1

I have yet to find a Carb Killa Bar I don’t love, long may it continue!

Grenade Carb Killa Bar – White Chocolate Cookie:
Cals:214  Protein: 23.3g Fat: 7.9g Carbs: 13.5g (Fibre: 6.7g  Sugar: 14g)
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Verdict: 10/10 – Honestly I would pick this over any standard chocolate bar they are that good. The fat content rates a little higher than some but the pay off is that you are tasting actual chocolate and not some chocolate flavoured coating. The texture again just like any other chocolate bar (so not quite the jaw workout you get with other brands) so the main issue here is trying to remember that if you buy them in bulk, eating them all at once isn’t healthy (even if it is more macro friendly than a mars bar)…
Where to get them: http://www.musclefood.com/high-protein-snacks-1/protein-bars-1/grenade-carb-killa-bars.html

Snack Attack: Yogurt Experiments

Yogurt was one of the surprises in my eating journey; I’ve learned the value of knowing the difference between “Greek” yogurt and “Greek-Style” yogurt (key lesson: “Greek”-filled with protein and helpful bacteria/cultures and “Greek-Style” full of sugar and little to no protein). I’ve also learned that Greek and Natural yogurt are very versatile foods, you can make anything from pancakes to savoury dips and of course lots of lovely flavoured snacks!

Today’s happy experiment is Cinnamon Maple Crunchy Protein Yogurt!
170g serving: Cals:220 Protein:41.8g Fat:0.6g Carbs:12.8g

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It tastes pretty good although I would be tempted to use 1/2 scoop whey isolate to reduce the whey flavour or if you don’t want the added protein switch up the whey for a teaspoon of maple syrup (remember that’s extra sugar calories though). I think the maple syrup/ground cinnamon combo would make a a nicer (& less artificial) flavour so ill definitely be trying it next time!

Also to make it all natural and get some extra protein, try switching the maple pecan crunchies for a handful of walnuts or pecans!

Make it yourself:

  • 170g greek/natural yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
  • Mix in 1 scoop myprotein Cinnamon Danish Whey Isolate (blend may make a smoother mixture but i just mixed by hand)
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • top with about 10g crushed Musclefood “Maple Pecan Crunchies”

Food! My first breakfast on the Blog

This is the 1st of many things today; the first breakfast, first food photo, first review and the first item I’ve tried from my Box of Protein (https://www.boxofprotein.com/ i’ll review fully later but in short: seriously worth a look)

So here it is – Today I gave Chocolate Protein Porridge (MyProtein) a go.

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What is it?
It’s a ready mix sachet with oats, flavourings, Whey powder and some other things. My guess is the idea is it’s quick, easy, low calorie and protein packed

Macros Per 50g Sachet/Serving (minus mik/water):
Cals:197 | Fat: 3.89 | Carbs:23g | 16g

The Breakdown:

It’s speedy and definitely easy
I like breakfast to be a quick process in the mornings, the quicker it’s made and eaten, the chances of me catching the earlier tram to work increase, and this is pretty quick. You chuck it in a bowl, add your milk/water/whatever you choose to use,quick stir, microwave it for 90-120 secs and that’s it.

How is it tasting though?
Admitedly with Whey in there I had my doubts (whey can leave a horrible undertaste sometimes) but this is pretty nice, I taste chocolate rather than whey. For me though it’s not quite rich enough on the chocolate front. I like cocoa powder in my porridge normally so this feels a little like it’s slighthy sweeter and more artificial cousin. But that aside it’s a welcome and tasty discovery

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The final verdict?

It’s good but in truly bias fashion, i think my homemade version is nicer. When I make chocolate porridge myself it takes the same amount of time, has a richer flavour and is minus sweetners and thickening gum. Homemade has more calories and a less protein but has way more to give in my eyes.
So it’s definitely a worth a try but there’s more to gain from having a go at making your own!

Check out my Friday Breakfast favourite: Coconut, Chocolate and Banana Oatmeal/Porridge