100K in 10 Days

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Running is exhilarating in every sense of the word. Part of the excitement is the physical challenge and sensation of feet pounding the concrete. Then there’s the feeling of sucking in fresh air, sweating and feeling a chill at the same time, fast heart beats and traveling freely at speed. But one of the most fantastic parts of running is the moments you experience when the world is waking up or going to sleep. Seeing the sun rise before everyone else has awoken. Seeing the grass still frozen as the planet warms up. Views of untouched snow and the sound of morning bird song. A road with no traffic or a lone plane in a cloudless sky. There’s something striking and powerful about experiencing these moments on a run.

When you become ill or someone in your life becomes ill, you suddenly realise how beautiful the world is. You look back at all the moments you took for granted. And all the things that seemed so important at the time, now seem so insignificant. You capture every possible moment of beauty that you can, from sunrise to sunset. Life is so fast, so full of stress and so burdened with unnecessary pressures. It is only when you slow down and make a conscious effort to really look and see what is around you, that you realise the extent to which life is filled with special people, special things and special moments. It is sad that it takes hardship or illness to make us stop and appreciate these moments, but it’s during the tough times that we feel gratitude the most.

When a friend approached me and asked me to run 100K in 10 days, I did not hesitate to say ‘Yes.’ He informed me that the mother of a girl I went to university with had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Rather than accepting the rubbish options the NHS offered her, she chose to undergo an experimental treatment involving lots of nutrient-dense supplementation and juicing. And it’s improving her quality of life dramatically. Being someone who is deeply passionate about holistic health and nutrition, I felt really strongly about Julie’s journey. It’s so promising to see a few select medical professionals embracing nutrition as a healing mechanism. We live on a planet that heals itself, the animals and plants that inhabit it. Why not use the planet to heal ourselves?

When Euan, Sam and I first started our 100K in 10 days, we felt great. The first couple of 10Ks were easy and enjoyable. But personally, my joints were on fire by day 3 or 4. On day five, I could only manage 5K due to a very intense day/week at work. I lacked energy and I lacked time. This meant I had to make up these kilometres at the weekend, which meant two 12K runs in a row. By this point, I was popping ibuprofen just to get through and my body felt extremely inflamed. On the final day, it was just about finishing without stopping or quitting. After ten days of non-stop running, we had done it. Ticked the box. Achieved. Off the bucket list. And we were already planning what we would do next! Every time my mind told me to quit, I pushed through. I told myself that my pain was insignificant and that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for. My ankles were crying, but they got their rest when all was done.

This running challenge was so much fun, because I was part of a team. The team effort was greatly motivating and we could track each other’s progress using Strava and Instagram. I made sure to take probiotics every night to help regulate my sleep and energy. My diet consisted of a lot of vegan protein, turkey, veggies, avocado, apples and bananas. Oh and of course, the odd bit of chocolate-covered nuts (#addict). Challenge yourself. And if you do, do it for a good cause. Please check out Julie’s story here and if you can, donate a couple of quid. It’s a giving time of year after all! Thanks for reading and if you do 100K in 10 days, please do share your experience with me here.

Why It’s OK if you are Not OK

 

Many of us are over-achievers. We feel pressure from our parents, our managers, our mentors and most of all ourselves, to achieve and succeed in all aspects of our lives. Having a good job is not enough; we feel the need to have the ultimate career, the perfect relationship, the flawless body, the super-fitness, the good looks, the prestigious education and more. We live in a culture where we not only need to be the best versions of ourselves 100% of the time, but this needs to appear effortless to our peers. Beauty should appear natural, the career progression should simply follow as a result of our innate intelligence and we should simply stumble upon a romantic partner because we are so exceptionally charming. And we must do all of this while never missing a social event and showcasing our fantastic social calendar to our friends via social media, just to reassure them (and ourselves) that we are popular and interesting. God forbid you should admit you had to use Tinder to find someone. How could one possibly fess up that their success, in fact, came as a result of blood, sweat, tears, very little sleep, sacrifices, hardships and some seriously tough sh*t?
It has been engrained into us that tears are a sign of weakness, emotions are not to be displayed in public and low self-esteem is not on-trend. More and more celebrities are coming forward and admitting they suffer from anxiety and depression. For many who don’t quite fall into this category, but are definitely not “OK,” we have off-days and these days suck. But what happens when your off-day becomes an off-week or even an off-month? Sometimes, when life gives you lemons, you become a bitter, sour angry mess and just need to hibernate for a while. The lemonade comes later. Don’t let anyone judge you or reprimand you for feeling this way. Find friends who will empathize, listen, try to understand and love you all the same. You may find that some people in your life feel uncomfortable when you’re not the best version of yourself. It doesn’t fit into their plan for your friendship; they don’t want you in their life unless you’re popping bottles with them, dancing on roof-tops and making a positive contribution to their social life.
This internal and societal pressure isn’t going away and for many people, it has become a rule for living and part of our daily thought process. Once you think this way, and feel this pressure to be perfect, it’s tough to break free. We live our lives one achievement to the next. It’s addictive. If you’re not achieving a goal or learning a new skill or completing a challenge, you feel this restlessness and a sense of dread that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t really living. #FOMO. Life feels incomplete. For the millennial generation, our greatest fear is to settle and to wake up at the age of forty and feel as though we haven’t truly lived. We must be constantly stimulated and occupied and engaged in something, anything. The important thing is to channel this into positive behaviors and positive activities that will benefit us, physically, mentally and spiritually. But also, to know when it’s OK to switch off and rest and simply be at peace.
According to social comparison theory, fifty per-cent of people compare themselves to others. Social media exacerbates this problem as it gives us the perfect platform, by which to compare our lives with those of others. We look to our peers, our friends and our colleagues for guidance as to how we “should” be living, what we “should” be doing and how we “should” look. We benchmark our life timeline against people who we perceive to be similar to us. Everyone reading this is guilty of thinking, “He has got a promotion and I should too,” or “She has got married and I should too.” The ironic thing is that we all know this is illogical and foolish, yet we do it anyway! One of the biggest trends for 2017 is predicted to be Digital Detox-ing; the phenomena of switching off from technology and social media. There are hotels and resorts advertising themselves as Digital Detox-friendly, as consumers search for an escape from the anxiety that technology creates. We can only hope that as advertising, Hollywood and politics begin to embrace diversity and inclusion, we will realize that it’s OK to be different, beauty is unique and success is objective.
For anyone who has felt the pressure to be perfect or has compared themselves to others or who has worried they are not enough; know that we all feel this way from time to time. If you need to cry on the tube, put your sunglasses on. If you need to scream and throw things, those cheap IKEA plates will come in very handy. If you need to turn off your phone for one Sunday and watch Netflix in bed, know that there are millions of people around the world probably doing the exact same thing. And if you just need to have a complete meltdown, don’t be afraid to call your best friend afterwards and ask for help picking up the pieces. It’s OK if you are not OK, one hundred per-cent of the time. This doesn’t define you and having a slip-up is not always a set-back. Get up, brush it off and keep on swimming.

Flexitarian: What the F***?

Last week, I noticed an Insta-celeb posting about a new diet he has designed for weight-loss and it’s called ‘The Sweet Potato Diet.’ This is when I realised that, with the help of marketing and advertising, we have truly taken the word “diet” to new extremes. It has become really, really fashionable to eat a diet that is gluten-free, dairy free, paleo, vegan, raw and the list goes on. The more you restrict your diet, the more trendy you are. And don’t get me started on how some people’s restrictions are simply a cover-up for eating disorders*. Oh, you’re dairy-free but you still eat fro-yo on Leg Day? Cool. Oh, you’re gluten-intolerant but you still allow yourself a granola bar after you’ve run an ultra-marathon and have “earned” the carbs? Sure. Picture that scene where your girlfriends look on in horror as you eat a piece of bread, as in “How could you put that poison into your sacred body?” Speaking as someone who has also demonized bread in the past and then realized that bread isn’t the enemy; all refined, processed foods are in fact the enemy! If the ingredients list is a mile long, it’s not really ‘real food’ is it? We have become obsessed with putting a label on our personal nutrition, branding it in a way that fits with our social image. This is something I have never advocated and will never support. Eat real food, eat foods that will nourish you and help you flourish, eat intuitively and only supplement if/when you need to.
The newest fad is ‘Flexitarian.’ This is defined as a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish. So… you have adopted quite an ordinary, regular approach to your nutrition then? Meat is not essential to our diets; protein is. We should all eat less meat and play our part to save our planet and her resources. There is no need to put a label on it and make it into some sexy, ultra-cool trend. Hashtags like #meatless are cool and help spread awareness of this new cause and how people can change their diet and still maintain healthy nutrition, all while contributing to environmental sustainability.
Veganism and plant-based nutrition have soared in popularity in recent years. For most people, veganism is a huge adjustment and it is very challenging to eat this way and still get enough protein in your diet. If you aren’t getting protein from meat, dairy or eggs, you need to find it from other sources. Many people turn to soy products but if consumed in great excess, soy can disrupt the reproductive hormones in women. Chickpeas, lentils, beans, quinoa and other vegan-friendly foods are high in protein but also high in carbohydrates. Nuts and seeds are high in protein but also high in fats. Vegans and vegetarians can often find themselves gaining weight because they eat more foods that are high in carbs or high in fats. The best approach is to make sure the majority of your diet comes from green, leafy, fibrous veggies dressed in healthy fats like avocado, extra-virgin olive oil and seeds. Check out Instagram for vegan food inspiration and tips on how to cook healthy, filling vegan meals. If you’re London-based, I recommend making a trip to Tibits, Ethos Foods or Wholefoods for some delicious vegan inspo.
Paleo is a diet that I tried for the good part of 6-8 months and ended up gaining weight because I was eating so much fat. Paleo is one of the most restrictive diets I have ever eaten. You cannot eat grains or dairy or any processed foods. All meals are made from scratch and all ingredients must be 100% natural. It’s very meat-heavy and the exclusion of beans, nightshades and many other foods can result in a diet that is deficient in fibre. This diet, if too low in carbohydrates, can disrupt the menstrual cycle in some women so proceed with caution. Or take the principles of paleo but don’t restrict too much! Some attributes of the paleo diet make sense, like not eating refined carbohydrates and grains, but other attributes like avoiding many fruits are not necessary if you’re extremely physically active. Fruit is not going to make you sick or fat.
Try not putting a label on your diet or the way you eat. Diet and food is very personal to the individual and we all have different nutrition needs based on our physical activity, physical and mental health and internal biology. Eat to achieve your goals, feel good, thrive and to maintain a strong, stable immune system.
*If you feel you may be struggling with an Eating Disorder, please contact BEAT who can offer you advice and support on 0808 801 0677.

Five Ways to Motivate Yourself to Stay Healthy

Motivation is a term used by many as if to signify some obscure mysterious, stranded concept or object that we must dig and search wide to find. Where can you find motivation? What does it look like? How do you maintain it?

Recently, I met a wonderfully passionate PT in Covent Garden who shared with me something called the Emotional Threshold. This is the exact point when someone becomes emotionally ready to commit to achieving a goal. Many people want to lose weight or get fit but are not ready to commit and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their weight loss goal. Many people want to get healthy but deep down, they don’t want it enough.

In January 2015, I reached my emotional threshold and committed a sum of money to Personal Training as well as a huge amount of time to reaching my fitness goals. I committed to the diet, the personal research on nutrition and health, the time spent exercising and I sacrificed my social life and any activities that involved alcohol! I had reached a point where I was willing to do anything to lose weight and lean out. I wanted it more than anything and I remember standing in front of my personal trainer and saying, “I am ready. Let’s do this.”

Fast forward a year and a half later and I found myself slipping back into bad habits. My motivation and willpower to say “No” to treats has been virtually non-existent. And I find myself asking, “Why?” What has gone so terribly wrong? Why am I eating treats every day and why can’t I say “No” when someone dangles a piece of chocolate in front of me? I am a logical, rational person and I know that the chocolate has zero nutritional value and the bad ingredients in them will have all sorts of terrible effects on my body including acne, cellulite and excess body fat.

My frustration with myself got me thinking and reflecting on how I acquired such strong motivation last year. What motivated me? How did I stick to my plan for achieving my goals? What got me to the gym on the mornings when I was tired? What stopped me saying “Yes” to that piece of cake? My motivations were very personal to me and I have shared them in previous posts, but for this post, I want to share my five steps to motivation so you too can achieve your goals.

The Why. 

Before you can even begin, you need to ask yourself why you want to do this. Are you truly doing it for yourself? Is the reason strong enough to get you out of bed in the morning at 5:00am on a rainy day in December? The “Why” is the most important part. It can’t be too superficial and if there are multiple reasons why, even better. The stronger this is, the more likely you are to succeed.

3 Reasons.

Consolidate your reasons and decide on the three most important ones. You can’t have a list a mile long. This is too much and you will feel overwhelmed. Decide on your three top reasons for committing and write them down. Remind yourself every single day of these three reasons and drill them into your brain. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Baby Steps.

Start small. If you can stick to your diet for 1 day, that’s a win. Then one more day. And one more. And before you know it, you will have hit a week. That is fantastic. One week will turn into two and when you hit the 21-day mark, it becomes a lifestyle change. Try cutting out alcohol for the first short while to avoid messing with your body’s hormones, hunger signals, sleep, etc. Start small and take it day by day, week by week. Don’t overwhelm yourself with saying things like, “I’m going to cut out candy for 6 weeks.” You’ll fail. Start with, “I’m going to cut out candy for 6 days.” This is more realistic and the small wins will strengthen your motivation rather than leaving you feeling deflated.

SMART Goals.

Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Use tools like a journal, a calendar, a spreadsheet or post-it notes to help keep you on track. Write down your goals to hold yourself accountable. Create short-term and long-term goals. Try setting goals daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly to stay focused and to make sure you always have things to work towards.

End Result.

Decide what your end result should be. Is this a weight? A percentage of body fat? A dress size? A marathon? A Bench Press? You need a specific box to tick when you have reached your ultimate goal. This doesn’t have to be the end of your lifestyle change but you need this point to know that you have succeeded. From here, you can celebrate your achievement and figure out what your next goal and challenge may be.

Balance: What does this mean?

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the concept of ‘balance,’ which has become a very overused word in the world of health and fitness. Balance seems to represent something different for everyone, depending on their health and fitness goals. For some, balance means having a teaspoon of peanut butter on their rice cake instead of eating it plain. For others, balance is having an entire pepperoni pizza and a glass of pinot grigio. Balance, as a concept, has been used to validate and justify disordered eating, binges, treats, cheat meals and more. But what does it really mean?

  1. Eating Healthy but not Restricting is very challenging for anyone who feels a strong desire and pressure to be slim and stay slim. We live in a society where restricting is viewed as “motivation” and thin is viewed as “successful.” Salads are the only acceptable option on the menu and everything needs to be gluten-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free, meat-free, carb-free and basically, calorie-free. Pass the celery?
  2. Being Mindful of Food but not Obsessing over ingredients, calories, macros, etc. too much unless you are on “prep” or a professional athlete. The fitness community can be somewhat irresponsible when it comes to sharing the grueling diet and fitness regimes that are followed by competitors on prep and professional athletes. Unless it’s your full-time job or career, spending hours analyzing food content can result in disordered eating and thinking. If you’re on a diet, calorie-counting and macros-counting can be important and will help you lose weight, but know when your diet will end and stick a time-limit on it.
  3. Exercising to Stay Fit but not Punishing your body because this will wreak havoc on your mind. Extreme over-exercising puts stress on your body and elevates your cortisol levels, which affect your sleep, your hunger hormones, your mood and much more. Not to mention that exercising for punishment takes the joy out of something that should be fun and should help relieve stress rather than causing it. Have fun with your fitness and enjoy feeling fast, fit and strong!
  4. Enjoying Food but not Over-Indulging will help you maintain a steady metabolism and balanced blood sugar levels. It will also avoid the urge to restrict to make up for having a few too many chocolates or calories. Food shouldn’t be primarily for pleasure, it should be primarily for nutrition and we should eat with our health in mind. It can become a drug and it’s important not to approach food this way. Try to be aware of your emotional triggers and find another outlet that is not food or alcohol. Easier said than done after a hellish week at work, right?
  5. Having a Drink but not Bingeing is the healthiest way to consume alcohol. Giving up alcohol altogether is not easy and when I tried this, I found myself avoiding ALL social situations for the fear of succumbing to my cravings and having a drink. This was a very long, lonely year and I missed out on many opportunities to enjoy a drink with friends. Going from party-girl to sober and back to party-girl again, I am now finding a new form of balance when it comes to alcohol. Is there a way to drink and not get hangovers? If so, let me know!
  6. Working Hard but not Pressuring yourself to be perfect in every aspect of your life. If you prioritize fitness and health, other areas of your life will take a backseat. I don’t know many people who work really long hours and have very successful careers AND very full, exciting, boozy social lives AND the body of a fitness model. If you’re out there and you have all of the above, please call me ASAP and tell me your secret. For me personally, I feel that I can have two out of three but not all three at the same time. Maybe next year, I’ll have mastered the art but this year, my goal is to have two out of three and be balanced and happy. In my experience, putting pressure on yourself in all areas of your life is not good for your mental or physical health.

Through my journey so far, I have not yet achieved balance. I have see-sawed from ultra-healthy to ultra-indulgent. I have bounced from not drinking at all to boozing and cruising. These behaviors result in extreme distress, anxiety and guilt. The impact on mind and body? Torture! Weight gain ensues and your metabolism and digestive system don’t know what to do with themselves. Sleep is disrupted and mood is a rollercoaster. Your mind torments itself up with feelings of failure, disappointment, discouragement and more. Sugar levels and energy levels are all over the place. It’s not a healthy way to live! During 2015-16, I was eating extremely healthy and exercising every single day. I was on a path of weight-loss and I was the fittest I’ve ever been. But my social life suffered and so did my friendships. During 2016-17, I have been eating and drinking whatever I want and have spent a lot of time indulging. My social life is the best it has been in years. But I feel really bad about myself, guilty about the weight I’ve gained, and disappointed that I am not the lean, mean, fitness machine I used to be. So where do I go from here? The next chapter of my journey will be finding a point halfway between the ultra-healthy and ultra-indulgent. This is scary and exciting but my body feels ready for a positive challenge and some positive changes.

 

 

Sunday Fun-day: Golden Milk and Meal Prep

Some of you may be reading the title of this post and thinking, “Hmmm… what the hell is Golden Milk and meal prepping is the last thing I would label as Fun.” Today was not a typical Sunday, it ticked a lot of little happiness boxes for me. And Golden Milk was something I had been wanting to try for a while after putting turmeric in my tea and chugging it with my nose closed. Turmeric in hot tea alone isn’t great… but Golden Milk was actually quite drinkable. What makes me happy/content in life? My family, my friends, good coffee, a nice morning run, a super training session, dark chocolate covered rice cakes, a great vintage find, a successful meal prep… to name a few. Today, I had all of the above.

What is Golden Milk? This is a concoction of Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Honey, Chilli Flakes and Almond Milk. From browsing online, there are so many variations you can make; some people choose to use coconut milk and some people use black pepper rather than chilli flakes. I used what I had in my cupboard. Then I heated it on a hob for 7-10 minutes on a medium heat so that it simmered. It was then somewhat of ‘Golden Tea’ as I consumed it whilst hot. The key benefit of turmeric is that it’s an anti-inflammatory. This article explains some of the other health benefits really well.

Meal Prep this week was simple, clean and healthy. Turkey breast seasoned with cumin and cayenne pepper, raw kale, boiled broccoli, roasted courgettes and parsnips seasoned with coconut oil, salt and pepper. My carbohydrates will be incorporated into breakfast (Winter is now going to be known as “Porridge Season”), snacks (Rice Cakes: the basic bitch’s snack) and dinner (ALL the veggies). Last week, I met with a nutritional therapist who recommended I try Rye Bread so that may work it’s way into my diet this week too. More to come on the Nutritional Therapist meeting in a future post so stay tuned!

Now I shall leave you with my Sunday routine and my workout for all of you who want to try training GFARS style.

8:00am – Woke up and felt overjoyed that I had gained an extra hour of sleep

8:45am – Ran just over 6K through foggy Gladstone Park for some #fastingcardio with my sister

9:30am – Made some Avocado on rice cakes for breakfast with a side of banana, coconut and yoghurt… and a side of dark chocolate rice cakes with peanut butter. Oops, that’s a feast.

10:30am – Said Goodbye to my sister 😦

12:00pm – Hit the Puregym in Victoria and trained legs

1:45pm – Post-workout Phd Diet Whey Protein Shake for recovery

2:00pm – Walked down to some Vintage shops in Pimlico / Victoria area and had a browse… OK fine, I bought a cashmere Reiss sweater in a Vintage store (£15 = Bargain).

4:15pm – Bought 4 Sainsbury’s chicken drumsticks and demolished them (#PROTEIN)

4:30pm – Took the Underground home

5:00pm – Went to Sainsbury’s, bought food for the week and meal prepped

6:15pm – Made Golden Milk for the first time

6:30pm – Laundry, organisation for the week, email, etc.

7:00pm – Sat down and realised I still had a couple of hours to #NetflixAndChill but instead I’m blogging and reading because I have zero attention span for TV

 

Sunday “Fun-Day” Workout: 

Split Squats – 12kg (10 reps), 10kg (14 reps), 8kg (18 reps), Bodyweight (25 reps)

Step-Ups on a bench – 20 Reps X3

Jumping Squats – 15 Reps X3

Full-Body Clean and Press – 20kg // 15 Reps X3

Curtsey Squats – 20kg // 15 Reps each leg, X3

Leg Extension – 32kg // 10 Reps X4

Dumbbell Swings – 10kg // 20 Reps each arm, X3

Mountain Climbers – 40 Reps X3

Sit-Ups – 100 Reps

Russian Twists – 6kg // 30 Reps, X3

Leg Raises – 15 Reps // X3

Stretch and Foam Roller !

Sunday Workout: Full Body and HIIT

Croatia Gym Selfie

Do you ever feel like you live your life in gym clothes? I do! On the plus side, that means I’m always ready for a workout!

Weekends are not for resting! Unless you’ve smashed gym sessions from Monday to Friday, in which case rest those muscles and reset yourself for the next week. During the week, I find my workouts are at half or two-thirds capacity and I always find myself wishing I just had one more hour or a little more energy. But when you live and work in a city like London, you essentially live your life from one alarm/reminder/calendar event to the next and spend on average an hour each day commuting. As a result, I find that Saturday and Sunday are perfect days to get some ‘Train Insane’ sessions in. After a lie-in and some extra sleep on Friday night, my body is ready to hit the gym hard. This weekend, I decided to stay booze-free and give my body a break. I caught up on sleep, had a few rich Americanos and had two fantastic training sessions at Puregym in Piccadilly and Victoria.

My early morning weekday sessions are typically 45-60 minute HIIT sessions with light to medium weight and a lot of cardio. Think: burpees, sprints, lunges, press-ups, and lots of short bursts with short rests. My pre-workout is black coffee so my body simply doesn’t have enough “fuel” to lift heavy. On Saturday and Sunday, I have an Americano and 20-30g of oats with protein about 45 minutes prior to my workout. This gives me the fuel I need to lift heavier weight. Recently, I’ve been making a formula of Green Tea, Water and BCAAs to fuel me through my workout, which means I can do longer sessions of 90-120 minutes.

If you have been following me a while, you will know that I LOVE sharing recipes. But healthy eating is only half of my weight loss story. The other half of my story is all about the hours I have dedicated to working out, lifting weight, running and staying fit. Over time, I have seen the physical and mental benefits of exercise and it has had a hugely positive impact on my life. For anyone who is not a regular gym-goer or who spends their life on the cross-trainer (that was me a few years ago…), it is hard to know where to start! I hope that through sharing some of my workouts, I will give you a little bit of inspiration to try something new in the gym, challenge yourself and get more creative with your exercise. And if you aren’t sure what an exercise is, YouTube it! If you try the workout below, please let me know how it went. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram. Happy Sunday Health and Fitness Lovers!

Full Body and HIIT:

90 seconds running 12.0Km/h

20 burpees

REPEAT X6

 

27, 21, 15, 9 cals on Rower

27, 21, 15, 9 Thrusters 15kg

 

20 Reps 39Kg Hip Abductor

(20 second rests inbetween)

REPEAT X5

 

Rope pull-downs 12Kg X15

TRX Inverted Rows X15

60 second plank

REPEAT X3

 

Kettlebell Swings 16Kg

Ball Roll-ins X10

Ball Hip Thrust X10

REPEAT X3

 

40 Russian Twists 6Kg

15 Leg Raises

20 Sit Ups 6Kg

50 Crunches

20 Bicycle Crunches

REPEAT X3

 

15 Minutes Crosstrainer

Stretch! 

Saturday Workout: Legs and HIIT

Gym Selfie

Checking out my progress in the mirror at Puregym following an upper body session. Shout out to all the ladies who lift!

There is nothing I love more than waking up on a Saturday morning hangover-free, having an Americano with Calorie-free Walden Farms caramel syrup and hitting the gym for a huge training session. Many of my commutes, lunchtimes or evenings are spent scanning personal trainers and fitness models on Instagram for ‘Fitspiration‘ and ideas for new exercises and workouts. Why not take #inspo from the best?

While I am on my way to the gym in the morning, I plan my workout in my head or on the Notes app on my iPhone. One of the joys of living in London is that the Puregyms in Zone 1 are virtually empty at the weekend because everyone who lives in Zone 1 probably has their own gym! For this reason, the weekends are when I typically get some of my best sessions in. No queuing for machines and more space to do explosive exercise and to create my own circuits.

More on the benefits of Weekend Workouts next Sunday, but for now, below is my Saturday Session. Remember to adjust the weight to your own fitness goals and always prioritise form over reps. Rest when you need it but try and keep your heart rate up. If you cool down, smash out 20 burpees to get warmed back up! Let me know if you try it and what you think. You can reach me on Facebook and Instagram. Happy Sunday Fun-day!

Legs and HIIT:

90 seconds Running 13.5 Km/h
15 Kettle bell swings 14Kg
10 push-ups
60 second plank
REPEAT X3

15 Reps Leg extension 45Kg
30 jumping jacks
REPEAT X3

15 (each leg) Split Squat 10kg (20Kg total)
15 Jumping squats
REPEAT X3

15 Full Clean and Press 20Kg
30 seconds Mountain Climbers
15 (each leg) Curtsey Squats 20Kg

REPEAT X3

12 Smith Machine Squats 60Kg
REPEAT X3
6-8 Reps @ 70Kg

90 seconds running 12Km/h
15 Burpees
REPEAT X5

Stretch! 😊

How to Train for an Endurance Event

 

For the longest time, I was running 5Ks and going to the same circuits classes at the gym. I would work up a sweat but after a few months of training, I plateaued. Training was fun but I reached a point where I no longer felt challenged. It was time to shake things up.

I am a Type A personality. I f***ing thrive on achievement and my favourite person to compete with is myself. In July 2012, my sister introduced me to endurance events when she persuaded me to sign up for the Tough Mudder. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it is 12 miles of running interspersed with mud pits, lakes, rivers, electric wires, ice water, fire, gravel tunnels and other obstacles designed by the military. It took us over three hours to complete and as we crossed the finish line, I burst into tears out of sheer pride (that I actually finished it) and relief (that I didn’t die). We were fed a protein shot, water, a burger and a beer. That evening, we continued re-feeding ourselves with an indian meal and some cocktails. The next day, I could barely walk. My body felt broken! But I was hooked.

The Tough Mudder was fantastic but I wanted to try something new. In 2013, I signed up for the Belfast Half Marathon. This was new to me. I had never run more than 10-15 Km so I had to educate myself about training and supplementation. Thankfully, I worked with a girl who was an avid, competitive runner and she gave me some great advice. The training was great and I love running so it was really fun trying new routes and incorporating uphill runs to build my strength. I completed it in 1:48 and crossed the finish line with a rush of adrenaline and emotion.

This spring, I completed the Clapham Common Half Marathon in London and it was a very special event. Shortly after signing up for this event I tore a muscle in my lower back and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to participate. I didn’t run for 4-5 weeks and stuck to the cross trainer and some strength training. With the help and advice of a physiotherapist, I managed to recover and rebuild my strength. Things happening in my personal life messed with my emotions and I had gained a bit of weight, which made me even more nervous about running. Nobody wants to feel heavy when they run! You want to feel light and speedy! I focused on strengthening my muscles. This was all I knew how to do. I decided I would strengthen my hamstrings, glutes, hip abductors, core and just run 5-10K a couple of times a week during the weeks prior to the event. It worked. I ran the half marathon in 1:42 and finished 2nd. And I may have collapsed on the grass afterwards and cried (or sobbed) happy tears before phoning my mum to tell her the news.

My preparation for each event was entirely different. Each time, I was armed with more knowledge and experience. I had done my research, spoken to other athletes and tried and tested my own methods. After this most recent event, I felt fantastic. Of course my body was fatigued but I had zero pain, I still went for a long walk afterwards and I didn’t feel ravenously hungry during the hours following. I was tired but not exhausted. This is how I knew I had found a strategy that worked for me. And I want to share it!

One Week Prior:

During the week prior to the Clapham Common Half Marathon, I ran two 10Ks, two 5Ks, did two full-body strength sessions and two days of rest with plenty of walking. My eating was low to medium carb but with lots of protein. I wanted to feed my muscles and make sure they were fighting fit for the run.

One Day Before: 

On the day before the Clapham Common Half Marathon, I ran approximately 5-6 kilometres on the treadmill (easy on the knees) and did some core and upper body work. I took BCAAs for recovery and that night, I CARBED UP. I had chicken with tons of colourful veggies and some rice for dinner. I had a lot of pic n’ mix (mostly chocolate) at the movie theatre. Oops! And before I went to bed, I ate 4 rice cakes with some peanut butter and apple sauce. It was A LOT of food! I was stuffed.

The Morning Of: 

Prior to the Tough Mudder, I snacked on trail mix slowly and steadily until 30 minutes before the event. Banana, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, m&ms and raisins. It was pure energy food and the mixture of sugars and fats meant it would slow-release. Halfway through the event, they handed out half-bananas to us. This worked really well and I didn’t lack energy during the event at all. During the first half marathon, I took the advice of a nutritionist friend and had a paleo breakfast (avocado, bacon, egg, butter, black coffee). It was the WORST decision ever! Zero carbs meant zero energy. And I had an upset stomach prior to the event, which meant I was extremely dehydrated before even starting the run. As a result, I had a cramp in my side for the first 8km. This time, for the Clapham Common Half Marathon, I knew exactly what to have. Porridge! All you need before a run is carbs. I had already fuelled up the night before so I didn’t need a huge breakfast. Two cups of green tea, lemon water, a swig of BCAAs and 40g of oats with a scoop of Diet Whey protein, and I was ready to go.

30 minutes Post-Event:

Immediately after the event, I swigged some water and grabbed a tall black Americano. I ate some dried mango and headed home to get a hot shower. After my shower, I had another cup of green tea. Caffeine = energy. I also ate a small granola bar. I was feeling peckish at this point.

60-120 minutes Post-Event:

By this time, I was ready for a meal. I had begun to feel tired and knew that I needed a good feed! I went to a lovely restaurant called Brasserie Zedel and had a salmon filet with a small portion of wild rice, two small slices of crusty baguette with real butter and a huge portion of sautéed spinach. Then, a cup of black tea for a perk-me-up. This hit THE spot and filled me with nutrients, starches and omega-3s.

Please know that I am not an expert! I have never done an Iron Man or a Triathlon or a Marathon. But I have done a LOT of running, a lot of strength training and I am a bit of a “fitness freak”. I spend a lot of time doing it, reading about it, researching it and constantly learning so that I can try new things and share my experiences and knowledge with other fitness-lovers. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have anything you’d like to add, please leave it in the comments! You can see photos from these events on my Facebook and Instagram pages. Happy Exercising!

Meal Prepping: Staying on Track

 

Meal-prepping is the best way to get started with a new diet or eating plan. After a couple of weeks, you will become a pro and will be delighted at the time and money it saves. If you are a food-lover, sugar-addict, snack-muncher like me then you will know that staying on track with your diet and healthy eating is VERY difficult if you do not have a packed lunch or pre-prepared meals and snacks ready to go. It is a very simple concept. When you are hungry, you think with your stomach rather than your brain. When you meal prep, you are putting more thought into the food that you are preparing and the nutrients that you need to feel great and keep your energy levels up. It may take a couple of hours on a Sunday evening or a Monday night but you will thank yourself for it during the week when you save money and time during those weekday lunches. Just make sure you have snacks prepared too and don’t make the same mistake I have in the past, which is buying $10 worth of snacks on the way home because you haven’t eaten since lunch! Oops!

Meals:

My meals are usually very simple. Tuna with brown rice, butternut squash and broccoli. Chicken with sweet potato and sprouts. Turkey breast with boiled carrots, asparagus and kale. Lean meats, eggs and plenty of veggies. Choose a green vegetable (broccoli, sprouts, kale, spinach, asparagus) and pair it with a starch (sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, brown rice, plantains) and a protein (turkey, chicken, lean beef, egg). For goodness sake, don’t eat Tofu. It’s a soy product and nutritionists are screaming out about the dangers of soy. It’s not digestion-friendly and in my opinion, you’d be better off eating something like chickpeas, quinoa, beans or another comparable high-protein carbohydrate. Also, in the colder seasons, my favourite thing to make is stew. Just throw in some stock, chopped tomatoes, a whole ton of veggies and some meat or fish. As for seasoning, cumin, coriander, paprika and chipotle chills for a Mexican flavour OR maybe ginger, garlic, coriander, lemongrass and lime for a Thai flavour. Bulk-cooking requires less time than cooking different meals every night. If you get bored easily, just pair your main course with a different side dish or use different sauces and seasonings. I am salivating at the thought of this right now…

Snacks:

Forget carrot sticks and hummus… this is such a boring snack and it’s been overdone. We are all bored of it! What about making your own granola out of oats, coconut oil, flaked almonds, peanut butter and chia seeds? What about taking a little pot of apple, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and coconut strips? Make your own “cookies” using banana, oats, almond flour, butter and cacao nibs. Make a PBJ sandwich using Meridian peanut or almond butter, smashed berries and wholegrain rice cakes. Steam some edamame or sugar-snap peas and sprinkle them with salt. If you snack on chocolate, try to make sure it’s 70% dark or higher (major challenge for an addict like me…). When it comes to yoghurt, try and always buy Total 0% greek yoghurt since it’s one of the only brands which contains live bacteria. If you love picking at popcorn, try to pick the brand with the lowest sugar. If you fancy snacking on fruit, go for berries since they are lower in sugar. There are so many other options besides carrot sticks! Just get creative, check out Instagram and try to make healthy versions of your favourite snacks.

Tips:

  1. Invest in good tupperware.
  2. Meal-prep 3-4 days in advance so that food stays fresh.
  3. Plan your meals before you do your grocery shopping.
  4. Don’t meal-prep when you are hungry.
  5. Search for inspiration on Instagram!

To anyone who calls this behaviour obsessive, I say this: I would rather spend the rest of my life obsessively meal-prepping and macros-counting than going back to my old ways of eating shitty food and feeling shitty as a result of my diet. If you haven’t read my story before, at the age of nineteen I was in a place where I was smoking, eating junk food, drinking sugary soft drinks, consuming too much alcohol and as a result, feeling sluggish, getting headaches, having regular stomach issues, and feeling breathless after climbing a small hill. I was an overweight mess of a human being! Today, I feel strong and fit and I have healthier skin, hair, nails and never suffer from headaches or diarrhoea anymore (TMI). My health isn’t perfect but I am a million times better than I was before and I am constantly trying to make better choices whilst achieving balance in my life. I thrive with a little touch of routine and organisation; it’s part of my nature and something I have always found comfort in. Meal-prepping helps me stay on track and saves me a lot of time and energy during the week when I am busy working and living my life. Try it for a week and see how much time and money you save!