Adventures in Croatia and holidaying on the low FODMAP diet

Since being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome I’d spent a lot of time worrying about my summer holiday. “What if the food has garlic/onions?”, “what if there is not dairy/gluten free breakfast option?”, “what am I supposed to eat for lunch if I can’t get a sandwich?” There was a whole host of questions and stress, all ultimately leading to the fear that this years holiday would be like the last where I was unwell for days.

So when we finally arrived in the outstandingly beautiful Poreč in Croatia earlier this month, I could have never anticipated just how much of a eating adventure it would be…

There I am on day one, all excited about the sunshine (and damn I am seeing some good gains there)!

As it turns out the hotel was very good on the non-dairy front, I had a whole host of meats for my morning protein fix and lactose free and rice milk (turns out I rather like rice milk) to choose from at breakfast. So everyday started with a bowl of oats and fruit and then some rice crackers with meat. While my milk was strictly non dairy most days, dairy is where the first discovery lies in this trip. Through some cautious sampling I learned that (after avoiding it for 13 years) I can eat cheese and ice cream! Granted it’s only hard cheeses and 1 scoop portion wise for ice but this is an astronomical discovery of pure joy for me, two of my favourite treats are back on the menu!

CHEESE!!!!! 😀
Oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit and rice milk

In fact I discovered that there are plenty of awesome options on a low FODMAP diet, over the week I sampled some awesome risottos (cuttlefish was my favourite) and tucked into plenty of fresh fish, meats and veggies. I strongly suspect that I ate some disallowed food as pretty much everything is made with garlic &/or onions and one of the rissotos did have mushrooms but I seemed to survive as long as I stayed sensible and kept portions small.

Oh look more polenta and cheese!
Octopus, polenta and ice cream were firm daily favourites and also note the breadcrumbs (that one was not a clever choice)

Aside from the occasional naughty choices (breadcrumbs, mushrooms) the only real issues I faced were 1. Under ripe bananas (I love them, my stomach does not) and one evening when we went to the hotel grill restaurant. The grill restaurant was a preset menu and in reality was all FODMAP friendly food however, I am a child of the “you can’t leave till you finish all of your dinner” generation. So this meant I attempted to consume the overly generous offering of food (there were enough fries to feed 6 people), had the food confiscated by my partner and spent the next 2-3 days in significant discomfort. Honestly when it comes to controlling my willpower, I doubt I’ll ever learn…

I’m not sure why but it was a whole tray of pork (note I devoured the park ribs before I took the photo). It was soooo good though!
Is that not a thing of beauty? Oh the yum!

So in short I worried a lot for nothing, FODMAP is tough in some aspects (mainly no Bread) but there are so many alternative options that I actually barely noticed that I was on a restricted diet. I’ve come home inspired and ready to make the most of what I’ve learned, namely with the desire to up my polenta and risotto game and get cheese and ice cream back into my life!

For now though it’s back home to a rather chilly feeling Scotland, oh well at least I have this memory to keep me warm!

Till next year Croatia! Dovidenja from my creepy wee toes!
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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 – 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 – Roadtrip Prep Part 1!

Next month will be my 3rd ever trip to the Birmingham NEC but it’s the fist trip I’ve actually been excited about. My first two trips were the MODA Lingerie/Swimwear exhibition and the Clothes Show Live. Both were in my Lingerie business time period and looking back now attending both felt like a chore, by jumping straight in and turning my lingerie and corsetry passion into business, I had sucked the joy out of one of the things i loved most. Instead of being excited about seeing all the brands and being immersed in the atmosphere, I was too busy desperately trying to weigh up if I could afford something like this, could/should i exhibit next time, what do I do and say at these events, what if  come away having made no money and no contacts?
In the end, I didn’t enjoy either event, I left both disappointed and disheartened by some of the less than friendly exhibitors (“if you want my opinion/advice, I charge £500 a day”said one rather cold individual and well, I wont name her but needless to say, I’ve never bought a single thing from her lingerie company as a result).

But this time when I go, I’m going to BodyPower and I cannot wait! This time I’m going because I want to, because I want to go learn from top athletes who are there because they want to help you, to stuff my face with all kinds of awesome food and buy enough kit to overload my car! The difference now is this blog is about sharing my passion rather than selling it, certainly one day there could a business in this for me (after all how kick ass is my little branded tank?!) but right now it’s about sharing the adventure and my love of food and lifting!

So without further adieu, Lesley’s BodyPower Prep Pack so far!IMG_4884

  1. BodyPower Power Pass – To get in, can’t enjoy all the gooodness from outside afterall!
  2. THE FIRST EVER GAINS,TRAINS & APPETITES TANK! How awesome is that??!

Stay tuned more will follow as we count down to May 14th!

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

The Protein Bar Chronicles: Quest Bar – Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

It’s always felt there there’s a lot of hype around Quest Bars so I finally got me a taste of the action

Quest Protein Bar – Peanut Butter & Jelly:
Cals:220  Protein:20g Fat: 10g Carbs: 21g (Fibre: 16g  Sugar: 2g)
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Verdict: 8.5/10
It’s not the most attractive thing you’ll eat and it is a bit of jaw workout but I wont lie, this is gooood. At my first bite I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but the flavour just suddenly developed and by the end  was loving it. Certainly the peanut is the main flavour you taste, but there is a little underlying sweetness from the jelly flavour. Another bonus here is that I recognise everything on the ingredients list (this is a rarity among protein bars) so I’m feeling somewhat less guilty about stuffing it in my face (probably doesn’t make it ok though…)

All in all it’s tasty, fairly natural and with 20g protein and a whopping 16g fibre it’s packing some pretty decent macros!

Where to buy them: http://www.musclefood.com/quest-bars-peanut-butter-jelly.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”

The Protein Bar Chronicles: Combat Bar

The first of many protein bars to try out from my Box of Protein, here’s how it went!

MusclePharm Combat Bar – White Chocolate & Raspberry:
Cals: 210 Protein: 20g Fat: 7g Carbs: 25g (Fibre: 12g Sugar: 5g)
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Verdict: 7/10 – it was nice but a little sickly sweet for me. There’s a bit of a whey-ey after taste but you sort of get used to it by the time you’re a few bites in. It’s a nice texture no effort at all to chew so I’d be keen to try some other flavours as I think it’s just this particualr flavour that doesnt appeal to me (in fact I can see cinnamon crunch and Peanut Butter cup flavours so definitely want to try those!)
Buy it from: http://www.musclefood.com/combat-crunch-white-choc-raspberry.html