Monday, 21 August 2017

IF IT'S BROKE, FIX IT // TIME FOR A CHANGE

I love writing. It's the one thing I don't doubt myself on and the one thing that I can say with confidence that I am good at. I wanted to be a writer for pretty much my entire life, as far back as I can remember. However, I figured realistically what are the chances of making a living out of creative writing? So, I decided to be logical about it and I started a Journalism course at University. 

Long story short I hated it and I dropped out. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance but, right or wrong, I didn't want it. I didn't like writing facts or reporting news, I wanted more creative license and freedom to use my imagination. Newspapers and magazines have a specific style, language and guidelines that they stick to and I guess I realised that if I was going to write, I wanted more freedom, more opinion and more imagination than that. So, I dropped out and made my other passion my career.

So, now I'm a Personal Trainer. It's not something I'm naturally as gifted at as I am at writing. I don't have a mind that naturally understands maths and science and I'm more creative than I am logical. I'm  not naturally athletic and I'm not in amazing shape. I'm scatty and, despite loving organisation and order, I actually find staying organised pretty tough. I'm self critical and hard on myself and take failure to heart. All of these qualities I feel makes being a Personal Trainer and running my own business pretty tough. But not being a natural at something doesn't mean that you can't be good at it. It just means that you have to work harder. I love my job. I love helping people, I love watching them hit their goals and changing the way they look at themselves, I love that an hour session, for the most part, involves hanging out with and helping a friend and I love the freedom of running my own diary. I love my job but I do miss writing. So a few years ago, when studying for my exams, I decided to combine the two and create a fitness blog. 

For a while I loved it. But I've now realised that I don't actually have a whole lot to say that people want to read. It may be what most need, but it isn't newsworthy and it isn't anything that isn't already out there. I don't buy into bullshit nutritional gimmicks or buzzwords, I don't create 'health food' recipes, make 'clean desserts' (if I want a dessert I'll eat the real thing. I rarely want avocado in my bloody cake) or drink smoothies with hemp and matcha or cacao infused goji berry teas. In fact, my diet is simple, repetitive and probably similar to most of yours. It's definitely not superior or news worthy and I don't want to insult everybody's intelligence by telling you to eat more veg, less shit and move more. My training, again, is pretty similar. It's consistent, it's progressive, it's pretty samey. I don't do ab circuits or 'glute sessions using only a cable' therefore I'm not going to create and put together Instagram videos showing them. My training is effective but simple. That's all it needs to be but it's definitely not blog worthy. I perform the same key movements now that I wrote about 2 years ago. It probably doesn't need another article written about it. 

I don't spend all of my money on gym clothes to post selfies in and I don't keep on top of the latest activewear brands. I don't attend the latest bootcamps or boutique spinning and boxing classes to hit London and I don't post 'tensed / relaxed' selfies as if I'm the only person it's occurred to that I am, like every other person able to use a social media site, a human being. I'm not a 'fitspo' or overly glamorous or someone that would feel inclined to post a load of selfies. Basically I see the same, generic, self important bollocks out there on pretty much every fitness site going. You don't need the crap that you get sold on social media. You need simplicity, consistency and routine. But, unfortunately, it's not the most glamorous, follow-worthy or blog-worthy information. And I don't want to become another voice amongst the masses posting the same old rubbish OR selling out and posting shit I don't believe in. 

So, somewhere along the way I've lost my passion. Not my passion for writing, not my passion for training but my passion for writing ABOUT training. I guess I need to be a little less critical and have a little more blind self belief because the question I ask myself time and time again is, what makes you think you've got anything interesting to say?

But I guess that doesn't overly matter. So, I've decided to broaden the subject of my blog and hope that that inspires me to kickstart my other love again without being restricted to writing within a certain subject. Of course, fitness and nutrition are a huge and important part of my life, not to mention they are the foundation of my career, so it'll always be heavy on the wellbeing topic. But I want to write about books I've read, restaurants I've visited, skills I've learned, topics I care about, makeup and clothing I've purchased, things that I've done, places I've travelled to, new topics I've explored and the brownies I baked last week that have no business being on a fitness blog. I want to write what inspires me and if that happens to be fitness related, so be it, but I don't want to be stuck within limitations I've set myself.

Maybe this will end up feeling messy, chaotic and like there's no sense of topic, order or target audience. If it doesn't work, I can always change it back. But one post every 3 months doesn't exactly reflect a person who's inspired. I want my blog to allow me to continue my love for writing and feeling limited by subject, uninspired and put off by the current wave of vanity and self importance shown by a lot of 'fitness bloggers' out there has had the opposite effect. 

So let's see what happens. 

Lots of love 
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Sunday, 28 May 2017

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AND A TRIP TO MONTMARTRE

My birthday was last week which means that progress was a write off but I wouldn't have it any other way. Steak, booze, pancakes, a barbecue, cake and tapas were high on the list of priorities and, as I'm a female and we love a good birthday, it was obviously spread across the whole week and over two weekends.

Apart from the usual meals and drinks with friends and family, on the day after my birthday my boyfriend and I went to the Secret Cinema screening. For anybody who doesn't know or hasn't heard of it, Secret Cinema is an immersive film experience. It's covered a good few different films including Star Wars, Shawshank Redemption, Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing and this time around it was Moulin Rouge. It's so hard to explain without just heading down and experiencing it but the idea is you get emailed over a character, dependent on the price of your ticket. Cheapest tickets were 'Creatures of the Underworld' i.e. actors, prostitutes, comedians etc. The most expensive tickets were Aristocrats. You dress up as your character, meet at a predetermined location (this time Canning Town Station) and they take you down to the event. The further out you are, the stranger the looks you get on the tube in your corsets and burlesque style outfits but the closer you get to the location, the more people you meet in the same boat and, rather than looking just a little bit slutty, it becomes a bit more obvious that you're on your way to a fancy dress event! Once inside, they've created an immersive set / world based on the film. In this case, 1899 Montmartre.

There's tons of food and drink (all french themed of course), actors roaming around to interact with and so much to see and do. Rather than feeling set up for you to see different things, it truly is incredibly immersive and almost chaotic, as if life is just happening and carrying on as usual and, if you're in the right place at the right time, you'd stumble upon certain things / performances / secret rooms / get given certain tasks. A great part of the evening is that you are given a bag to seal your phone in so that you cannot use it all night. Nobody is holding up their phone taking photos or videos and nobody is texting or calling their friends. Apart from helping to keep the 'Secret' part of 'Secret Cinema' an actual secret, it also helps to keep the experience so much more authentic and allows you to actually experience everything fully.

After a few hours of immersing yourself into late 1800's Paris, you are taken through to a big room, made to look like the Moulin Rouge, to watch the film, during which there's performances throughout and an incredible atmosphere from the crowd. Finally, once the film has ended, everybody takes to the stage for a dance and a sing in the afterparty.

It really was such an amazing and different night. It was so much more extensive, elaborate and extravagant than I had imagined. In fact, the first thing I did when I removed my phone from the bag was set up a group chat with my friends and arrange to go again. Drinks were standard London prices aka expensive. We found it much cheaper to just buy a bottle of wine rather than racking up the price (and spending half the night queueing) by returning to the bar to buy cocktails every few minutes.

I'm not sure what film will be next, when the next run of performance will start or what it will be like but I can whole heartedly recommend checking this one out. Moulin Rouge is running until the 11th June but I'm not sure how many tickets are left so if you do want to grab a ticket, I'd be quick about it.

I know all too well how easy it is for a week of celebrations to turn into two, to turn into a month to turn into an undetermined amount of time of eating crap, binging and being 'off the wagon'. Using Christmas as an example; it always takes me a long time to get my focus completely back to where it was and, for that reason, I always get a little nervous in the run up. Not a healthy way of thinking I know, but something I'm always working on. Although I hate the idea of being 'on' and 'off' the wagon and I like to think that I'm at least 3/4 of the way in having mastered the sustainable lifestyle side of things, I do still have to take precautions to stop old disordered and binging habits creeping back in. So, to ensure that I didn't end up scoffing cake from my Birthday (16th May) well into June, I made sure that I'd scheduled a food shop to arrive on the Saturday after my birthday on Tuesday. That way I had a fridge stocked full of healthy food, could prepare my meals for the following week and head into a new week organised and ready to get straight back to normal.

This has meant that this last week has been pretty smooth sailing. Entirely back to a normal routine, training my usual 5 x per week with two steady state cardio sessions (which, call me crazy, but I've really enjoyed this week) and healthy, whole foods. Stepping on the scales this weekend means that the weight put on from a week of celebrations over my birthday has already gone and I've enjoyed both the break from the routine and getting back to it. As cheesey as it sounds, that's what it's all about. Learning to create a lifestyle rather than an 'on track' / 'off track' cycle of being 'good' followed by periods of binging. Whilst I'm still learning to rid myself of unhealthy mental habits when it comes to food / training / body image, as I said, I think I'm mostly there. I've learned mostly to accept that progress is never linear and that part of making it a lifestyle means accepting and enjoying the times where your routine won't be perfectly aligned with your goals. I'm not going to stop myself from enjoying my birthday and all of the cake that comes alongside that. And you shouldn't either. There's 51 other weeks in the year to smash the gym, smash nutrition, work, school or whatever goals you have lined up. What kind of life is it if you can't neck champagne and scoff some cake without feeling guilty?

Lots of love

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

THE WEEKLY TURNED ONCE-EVERY-THREE-MONTHLY UPDATE

So I'm back ... again! In case you're reading this and thinking 'I didn't notice you'd gone', I was gone. In terms of why, I'm not actually overly sure on the details as I'm a little bit of a grandma when it comes to most things computers and technology. But basically; my domain (the actual address of my page) had issues due to me forgetting to pay (whoops) and got placed 'on hold'. When I tried to sort it they tried to charge me a silly amount of money to get it taken off hold and linked back to my blog. And I love you guys but that was a big fat no. So I had to wait the 90-ish day period of time that it takes to get placed back into general circulation so that I could just repurchase it again for a normal price. So long story short 'graysfitness.co.uk' is now mine again. 

Despite being forced upon me, it has actually been a nice few months off and meant that I could enjoy Christmas without pressuring myself to get blogposts out every week. (I know I'm not good at the consistency side of it but I do try and I do get annoyed when I fail every week!) But I am happy to be back!

So, if you've got any ideas of posts you'd like to see, any questions you want answering or any subjects you want approaching, you can message me via the contact form on the 'contact me' page or on any of my social media accounts! And please do; I need some inspiration!

In terms of what's been going on whilst I've been away. I had a pretty damn amazing December with a visit to Winter Wonderland, my boyfriend's birthday, a visit to the National Theatre to watch Peter Pan and to see Book of Mormon for the 4th time, a few days away in Bruges with a shed load of waffles and mulled wine and, of course, Christmas and New Year. I did some amazing things, spent some time with some amazing people and generally ended the year feeling pretty grateful and incredibly happy. Oh I also finally got an Olympus Pen Epl-7 camera which has been on my wish list for a good few years now! As I've mentioned more than a few times, my photography skills are pretty crappy and my skills with technology are even worse but I'm determined to learn so hopefully the quality of photos on this blog will improve eventually. For now, however, you're stuck with the shitty i-phone-5-quality collages; sorry!

What's followed has been an incredibly trying January / February. I've written about it on my Instagram today so I won't go into too much detail but the long and short of it is my yearly struggle to get back to where I was. Christmas is always more than a minor set back for me. I'm a perfectionist and I don't cope well with set-backs and I cope even less when jumping back on the horse is more of a struggle than I initially anticipated (which it always is). I place a lot of stress on myself and add to that the standard January issues of being a little bit poorer than you were before you spent all your money in December, and some unexpected Personal struggles that have happened this month and it makes for a vicious cycle. I am trying to get back to where I was but it's tough when you get into an overwhelmed and negative mindset. 

As I said, I wrote about it on my Instagram but I feel like the messages I was trying to put across / pep talk to myself are more important to repeat than the moaning about my life so I guess I'm trying to say several things; 

1. Nobody is perfect. The Social Media highlight reel would have you believe otherwise and yes, it can make you feel like everyone seems to be flourishing but you. But every single person is struggling with their own version of a chaotic and uncontrollable life. 

2. For all of you who are struggling with the New Year New Me bullshit, I hear ya. But there is no deadline on progress. You may have been smashing 2017 so far, I know people who have been and I am super proud. But if you haven't that's okay. You didn't have to be perfect by the time January 31st rolled around. Keep working on it and that is enough. 

3. Stress is detrimental. Pressure is detrimental. Stress is the ruiner of all things good and productive. A little bit of stress and pressure is a good thing. But if you're so stressed that you sit staring into space, panicking about everything you've got to do and where you're going wrong and you look up and realise that 4 hours have passed and you've stressed so much that you've achieved nothing (guilty!) then it aint the good kind. Be kind to yourself. Stop focusing on where you're going wrong and focus on what you're doing right. 

My boyfriend said to me the other day after I commented that I'm rubbish at keeping hydrated and should've drunk more water that day; 'Even if you've done everything right you'll still comment on something you could've done better. You've trained twice today, you've hit all of your targets, you've read your book, you've eaten well. And you've not commented on any of that'. I never noticed that it's something I did but he's right. And it's a shitty, self punishing habit to get into. Of course, always strive to improve. But acknowledge where you're going right at the same time. Let's love ourselves a little bit more. 

Baby steps add up! Take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other

Lots of Love 
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Saturday, 26 November 2016

WEEKLY ROUNDUP // REUNITED WITH THE GIRLS, A CHANGE OF PROGRAMME AND FESTIVITIES

I feel so much better this week. Getting back to training hard makes such a difference to my mindset and changing our programme this week has helped reset my focus. 

After 10 weeks of a 4 day split focusing on full body every day, with the same big, compound moves each workout but adjusting the reps to cover all rep ranges, it's nice to change it up a bit. We're now adjusting back to our old split of Legs, Back and Biceps and Chest, Shoulders and Triceps; keeping our 4th day to our usual interval style training as well as keeping in our two additional cardio sessions. Each exercise now consists of entirely supersets (2 exercises performed back to back with no rest in between) in order to increase the intensity by decreasing our rest and increasing our work time as well as increasing the overall volume by enabling us to get more work in in less time. 

When you get used to a training programme, the ache you get the next day (DOMS) tends to decrease or go entirely (this doesn't mean you haven't trained hard). Changing it around this week has killed me! I haven't felt pain like that in my legs and my chest in a long time. I've got to say I've missed it! 

I'm getting ridiculously excited for Christmas now. I'm sure I've revealed to most of my clients what a big child-like loser I am (Me: 'Ooh a month til Christmas Eve' Sarah: 'Of course YOU made that connection') but I don't care! The run-up has officially begun, with something festive in the calendar to look forward to every weekend from now until Christmas. Including putting up the tree, decorating the flat and Winter Wonderland next weekend, watching a Panto in the form of Peter Pan at the National Theatre the week after, heading to Bruges for 4 days the following Monday, going to see Book of Mormon (for my 4th time!) with the boyfriend for his birthday, spending our Christmas day together on the 23rd and then, obviously, Christmas Day itself. With obvious regular scatterings of listening to Fairytale New York, watching Elf and Love Actually, opening advent calendars and drinking Mulled Wine in between. 

When it comes to December, a lot of people tend to drop off of the gym. It gets quieter and quieter from here on out as people fall off the wagon and bury their heads in the sand. Surely the worst thing you can do is to completely stop every healthy habit you've worked so hard to build up? Okay, enjoy Christmas and the food and drink that inevitably comes with it (try not to binge, but don't sacrifice your enjoyment of the festive season) but keep training hard. Instead, focus your energies away from putting pressure on yourself to achieve weight loss goals and use the extra energy from the extra food to focus towards performance based goals. Stay motivated and hit some targets before Christmas. Keep the momentum going, implement damage control. You won't have so much work to do to get back to base camp come January and you'll have some nice Personal Bests in your pockets as well. 

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been focusing a lot more than I ever have done on stretching, foam rolling and mobility work. I am feeling amazing for it. Trying to keep up with regular-ish physio and massage sessions to identify specific areas to work on has helped as well and I'm already noticing a huge difference in the reduction of back pain as well as range of movement and posture. I'm also starting to go from finding it boring and a chore and rushing through it to finding it really relaxing and taking my time.

Tomorrow (Sunday) my girls are coming down to London to visit. I'm meeting up with Laura for brunch at Jackson and Rye before she heads back to Kingston to prep for some work she has the next day. I love a brunch but my boyfriend doesn't understand the concept or why women love it so much. Being the totally indecisive human being that I am I've had to look up the menu beforehand to save hours in there. The verdict? I still can't decide. It all looks so good so I'll keep you updated! I'm then meeting Rubie (who I've not seen in 3 years. Time flies) and Jade to train them at my gym before grabbing a very hungover Maddie and heading back to mine for a big plate of Chilli and Nachos. It's likely to be a very carb heavy day so I'm going to need that extra training session and Saturday kept pretty clean! But, I'm ridiculously excited to spend a girly day catching up with my friends so I'm not going to sacrifice a single nacho. 

Lots of love 
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

KEEPING ACTIVE AT CHRISTMAS


It's hit November and suddenly everything has turned super frosty. It's dark when we get up for work, it's dark when we leave work and stepping outside without a hat, scarf, gloves and at least 3 jumpers is just not an option. There's festive food everywhere and even the checkouts in Sainsbury's are lined with tins of quality streets and big tubs of biscuits ready to stock us up for Christmas. The cold makes us want to hibernate, fill our bellies with warm, comforting food (and not the healthy kind) and squeezing ourselves into lycra and heading to the gym tends to be the furthest thing from our mind.

So how can you make sure that you stay active in Winter? 

KEEP TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS

There are tons of different ways to track your progress. Using scales, a tape measure, body fat percentage, progress pictures, a pair of jeans that don't allow for extra pounds...Whatever your chosen method, make sure you keep it regular throughout the winter months. As we start to succumb to the work do's and festive days out with friends, family, clients and colleagues there's no denying that our diets start to slip as the obligatory mulled wines and mince pies start to make an appearance. Don't bury your head in the sand and ignore the effect it has on your body. Keep aware, keep track of your progress and use it as motivation to keep on top of things and not to turn the occasional indulgence into a month long binge. 

SET YOURSELF A GOAL TO ACHIEVE BY CHRISTMAS

Yes, it's hard to keep motivated. We want to eat chocolate, get into our PJs and get cosy as soon as humanly possible. Setting yourself a goal or two to achieve by Christmas time will do wonders for giving you a kick up the arse when you need it most. 

CHANGE TACT 

Most people's goals revolve around weight loss and aesthetics. And lets face it, December and Christmas isn't exactly prime time for achieving those goals. This causes most people to write the month off as a time to take steps backwards in progress. Naturally this can be demotivating. So, use December to change tact. Don't focus so much on on how you look and the weight you may or may not gain in December. Set yourself some performance based goals. Use the extra calories you'll inevitably consume every now and then to fuel some hard work in the gym. Hit the deadlift weight you've had your eye on for a while. Set a new Squat PB. Beat that 10K time. Focus on what you can DO not how you look to keep spurring yourself on.

HAVE A PROGRAMME TO FOLLOW

Get in, get it done, get out and get to the warmth of your bed. That's what we want the majority of the time but at Christmas time, after a long day of work and leaving in the pitch black and the cold, this need is all the more urgent. But how are you going to do that if you're spending an hour faffing around trying to work out what to do? Nobody wants to drag out their gym sessions longer than necessary and, to be honest, you don't need to be in there hours to be effective. The most efficient way to train is to have a plan or a programme to follow. Not only will this give your workouts a sense of purpose, you'll enjoy it more as you'll see more progress and you'll be in and out a hell of a lot quicker if you know exactly what you're going there to do. 

PUT YOUR GYM CLOTHES BY YOUR BED / IN YOUR BAG

A simple but effective trick. If you train in the morning before work, put your gym clothes by your bed. You won't want to get up in the cold and wander around trying to find alternative clothes to put on and once you're in your gym clothes, half the battle is won. Similarly, if you train at lunchtime or after work, put your gym clothes in your bag the night before and make sure you change into them whilst still at the office.  Don't go home first. Once your butt is on that sofa it's not leaving. Make it your stop to the gym on the way home before you can talk yourself out of it.

HOME WORK OUTS 

Working out inside where there's light, warmth and a lack of exposure to the cruel British elements is standard advice. But, if you really can't drag yourself to the gym, work out at home. There's YouTube workouts all over the internet, your bodyweight is sufficient equipment for a full body workout and, as long as you have a bit of space or can push your sofa to one side, you're sorted and you don't even have to leave the house. No excuses!

DON'T OVERESTIMATE THE CHRISTMAS WEIGHT GAIN

People put on a lot of weight in December because they expect to put on a lot of weight in December. They get into the 'fuck it I'm going to get fat anyway, might as well embrace it' mentality and use every social event and occasion as an excuse to indulge that mindset and eat and drink like it's going out of fashion. In reality, Christmas is, at worst, a week long affair but, for most Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve is the most of it.. December doesn't have to be a binge and you don't have to put on half a stone. A few pounds, yes but that's easily reversed and a small price to pay for an amazing day spent with loved ones. If you are sensible throughout the month and control yourself you don't have to pile it on. Using myself as a case study; if you read my 'weekly roundup' blogposts you will see that I eat out pretty much every weekend, indulge in ice cream and have been consistently losing weight over the last few months. If you train hard, consistently and are careful and savvy with your food intake, you don't have to be completely restrictive and every unavoidable social event doesn't have to be written off as a need to binge and take a step backwards. It's all about balance.

Lots of Love
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Sunday, 20 November 2016

WEEKLY ROUNDUP // MY YEARLY NIGHT OUT

Progress is never linear. You will have weeks where you gain weight when you've worked your hardest. You will have weeks where you lose a kilo when you spent the weekend eating shit (that doesn't mean to say you should spend the whole weekend eating shit though!) And yes, training and making progress is amazing for the body and mind and the majority of the time you will feel amazing for it, but there will be weeks where you feel like you're back at square one, whether that be in physical progress or in mindset. 

I try to be totally honest in my blog posts. I want to show that I know the process can be difficult, that yes, I 'do fitness' as my profession but that I struggle with motivation and mindset and confidence just as much as the next person. That sometimes I can be stupidly negative, overindulge or binge and that, despite knowing the facts, occasionally I need a pep talk to remind me of the facts and that, actually, I'm doing fine.

I've not had the most motivated or positive of weeks; hence my lack of appearance on social media and the lack of photos taken to put on this post. It was my deload week which means a week of lighter training, stretching and mobility work to give the central nervous system a rest from a tough training programme, allow the body to recover and work on any little aches and niggles you've acquired along the way. I missed my first 'lighter weights' session on Monday which set me off to a bad start. I then got into the mindset of 'Well I'm deloading so what's the point?' which meant that, other than stretching and foam rolling, my week stayed pretty much inactive. Which in theory is actually not a horrendous thing as I was getting the much needed rest in. But it's good to stay active, stay in the routine and keep mobile and, if you're someone like me who loves to beat yourself up if you divert from a plan or a goal you've set yourself, it's not a good idea. 

The way that my week was laid out meant that I had big gaps most days between morning and evening clients so I spent a lot of time running home to get some sleep or do some work between sessions. So being pretty inactive, combined with spending a lot of time at home meant that I felt a bit like I wasn't doing very well. I felt like I was doing a shit job at work ('I shouldn't have this much free time?!') when actually it was just the way my sessions were timed, I felt like I was doing a shit job with training when actually in the grand scheme of things, a deload week is for recovery. I know that I've smashed the last 10 weeks of my programme, lost 7kg and reduced my body fat by 5.5%. And of course, in hindsight, I know I'm doing well and I'm proud of myself. But try telling me that when I'm picking my week apart! My issue is that I like routine. If something breaks my routine it throws me. 

I took my stats on Saturday as usual and I had stayed the same which considering my inactivity and the expectations I had of the outcome, I was pretty happy with. Next week is a new week to reset, get back to training and routine and get a positive mindset back. So, if you feel like you're struggling or you're getting down on yourself and your progress, stop. Take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture. Look at how far you've come so far and ask yourself if you're doing all the right things. If you are, it'll happen. If not, is there a valid reason? If the answer is no, reset and make a change. 

This weekend has been my yearly night out (just kidding it's slightly more frequent than that). We headed to Regression Sessions at Fire in Vauxhall. I'm not really a clubbing kind of girl. I like my comforts so I like to be able to sit down, be warm, wear comfortable clothing and be able to hear my friends. I like a pub or a bar with my girls and a bottle of wine or a night in with films and pizza. I'm a bit of an old lady and start to get sleepy. Staying out until 7am just isn't going to happen with me so if I drink, I tend to day drink and be tucked up in my bed come the evening. I also don't overly enjoy the taste of alcohol and I'd much rather spend those calories on a big old tub of ice cream than a bottle of wine. God I'm so bloody boring. 

But as a one off it was a nice change and, despite the fact that it wasn't really my scene, I was in good company with the friends we went with, didn't overly drink, danced with my boyfriend and had a nice evening. It was nice to spend some time doing my hair and makeup rather than the usual 'get-out-of-bed-and-go' look and I was also pretty proud that I convinced myself to have a shower at 3am. Moisturise, hand cream, the lot. Honestly if you don't already, whatever time you roll in, I highly recommend it. It made such a nice change feeling fresh compared to the usual routine of waking up after a night out with grey looking skin, a few rogue spots, tan stained sheets and fake eyelashes stuck to my cheek. 

I feel like this weekend has reset me after a negative week. Maybe the retail therapy yesterday helped (I bought a ridiculously soft new jumper from Gap), maybe it's the fact that I'm in bed with a cheese and onion sandwich but either way, I'm looking forward to next week; to my clients hitting their goals and making me proud, to starting a new training programme, to being a week closer to Christmas and to next week's progress. 

Have a good one!
Lots of love
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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FOOD DIARY

It doesn't matter how much effort you put into eating 'the right things' or 'eating clean'. If you're over-eating, you're over-eating and you aren't going to make progress. You need that balance of energy in vs energy out.

It's hard to know how much is too much. If you've grown up conditioned to eat large portions, to not leave the table before you've cleared your plate or to always have a dessert after a meal then what may seem normal to you may be a huge quantity of food to somebody else. If you've just started training you may find yourself with increased hunger. If you struggle with your time of the month you may find yourself constantly hungry. If you eat absent-mindedly in front of the TV or pick at food when you're bored or stressed you may not realise just how much food you're putting into your body. So how can you keep track and make sure that you're not over-eating?

 Keep a food diary.

A lot of people don't like the idea of it. They find it obsessive and a bit of a faff to have to weigh their food and write down everything that passes their lips. Now, I'm not saying you have to do it forever. But keeping a food diary, even for a short period of time, can be so valuable to your progress. It makes you aware of when you're over or under-eating, where you fall down or struggle to resist the snacks, it can teach you which foods are rich in which nutrients and where to turn if you need to up your protein, fat or carbohydrate levels. It also begins to teach you about portion control. Eventually you will get to the point where you can eyeball a bowl of oats and pretty accurately assume that there is 50g there. But, at first, you may realise that what you thought was 50g was wildly inaccurate.

I don't want to come across patronising. You've probably heard it time and time again and, of course, it's not a revolutionary concept. But a lot of people don't do it and, when they do, they do it wrong. So here's how to keep an accurate and efficient food diary.

DOWNLOAD AN APP

I agree. Writing down everything that passes your lips can be time consuming and a bit of a pain in the arse. Download the 'MyFitnessPal' app to get a comprehensive look at what you're consuming, how many calories you're putting into your body as well as a breakdown of different nutrients and set yourselves goals and targets to hit. It's much easier and so much more time efficient than putting pen to paper.

Input your details along with how much weight you'd like to lose per week (0.2-0.5kg per week is plenty enough for most people. We need it to be realistic and we want you to have enough calories to lose weight whilst being able to sustain it). When it asks you how active you are on a daily basis, be honest. If you sit behind a desk for 8/9 hours a day you are likely to be 'inactive'. Even if you train 3 times per week on top of this, lightly active will probably be about right. This will then work out your daily calories.

From there, input everything you eat and drink into the database. It will save your regularly used foods so the more often you use it, the easier and quicker inputting that data it will be. You can scan the barcodes of foods that you eat and create recipes which will allow you to divide by portion and accurately work out how much you're eating when you batch-cook that big old portion of chilli con carne.

WEIGH YOUR FOOD 

So many people just guess at how much food they're consuming or just put in what the packet says is the recommended portion size. But how many of us really eat 30g or cereal of 100ml of orange juice? I definitely don't. The number of times clients come to me concerned that they're under-eating. Usually it's the opposite issue, their food diary has just been inaccurately recorded. Make sure that you're being accurate in what you're putting in and pay special attention to the serving size you're actually eating in comparison to the recommended serving size. Have a look at the package to make sure the sandwich you're recording from the database matches the nutritional information on the packet and weigh your food so that you know exactly how much you're consuming. Often you'll be shocked at how much you thought was a realistic quantity and you'll start to learn how to better control your portions. 

PUT IN YOUR PICKINGS

Again, it sounds like common sense. But so many of us absent-mindedly munch on crisps in front of the TV, pick at the kids' leftovers whilst we make our own dinner or grab bites of the other-half's more deliciously but less healthy dinner. Often we don't put these little bits in. But this habit can add up to a big difference in calories when we're consistently doing it day by day. Make sure you're either mindful with your eating and try to curb that habit or, if you can't stop yourself, make sure you record it. 

DON'T PICK AND CHOOSE

When I say input everything. I mean Input. Everything. Don't bury your head in the sand and only choose to face the days that you know you've done well. If you've had a cheat or blowout day and eaten 8 doughnuts, a river of coke and a multi-pack of doritos, put it in. How are you going to get a realistic idea of progress if you aren't recording that data accurately? It can be difficult when you go out for a three course meal and the restaurant doesn't have the calories listed. But don't just pretend it didn't happen; pick a similar restaurant that does have the calories listed. Making sure that you put in the bad times will make you aware of how much you're really consuming. Are you treating yourself or are you binge eating? It could be a shock to the system to realise that you're eating around 10,000 calories over a 'naughty' weekend (easier done that you'd think). Not making progress? Maybe it's those binges causing that halt, but you're not going to know why or what to change unless you're being honest with that food diary.

DON'T FORGET LIQUID CALORIES

We forget a lot of the time that often what we drink has calories, carbs, sugar, etc. I've mentioned before that a latte every morning adds up to over 1000 calories in a week. A standard 175ml glass of wine often comes in at around 170 calories. And do we ever really stop at 1? A few cocktails with the girls on a Friday night can quickly rack up even more with all of the sugary mixers and syrups. Even glasses of squash can really tip you over. Stick to water, tea or Americano's where you can (and try and hold the sugar) and, if you can't part with that latte, log it!

IT'S NOT A CHALLENGE

Particularly as women, we're conditioned to believe that the less we eat the better. But that's not the case. We need food to fuel our bodies to train, perform and live optimally. Don't view your calories and your targets as goals to beat. If your recommended intake is 1900 calories, don't aim for 1500. Aim for 1900. Similarly you are an individual. Your goals are individual and your body is individual. Don't compare yourself to others. If their intake is higher or lower it's because they require that, not because they're doing better or there's something wrong with you. 

REMEMBER YOUR EXERCISE

On training days you can afford to eat a few hundred extra calories (200-300 although that's a total estimate and not a golden rule). You'll need them. But don't use it as an excuse; 'I've trained so I deserve this entire chocolate cake'. Be sensible. 

DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP

The risk with keeping a food diary is that it can be very self destructive. The temptation to try and 'make up' for an unintended surplus of calories over the rest of the week can be high but a lot of the time it's not necessary and promotes an unhealthy cycle of binging and purging. So you've had a bad weekend? It happened to me last weekend. I went over my calories by a good few thousand. I scoffed Churros, pizza and brownies. Was it necessary? Probably not. Did I enjoy it? Yep. The next day I forgot about it and carried on with my training and diet as usual. I didn't restrict myself to make up for it, I didn't hit self destruct mode and think 'oh fuck it I'll go mad then start again next week'. I just carried on as normal. Trust me, though, it took me a good few years of struggling mentally to get to the point where I didn't over think.

The process is a long one and it's a long one for a reason. We want to be able to live life. For most of us, it's a lifestyle change not a diet and, unless we are competing or have a reason to be that strict, it's just not necessary. So it takes a few weeks longer to get to that goal weight? If you're in it for the long haul take the highs with the lows. Progress is never linear, look at the bigger picture. Over a year of training hard and eating well, will a weekend or two make too much of a difference? Probably not. 

Diet really can make or break your progress. Being aware of what you're putting into your body is an important step and keeping a food diary is an amazing way of helping you get there.

Lots of love 
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