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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

the challenge: week 8 - an update

all about the girl - fitness gear

Can you believe it’s been 8 weeks since I started blogging again, and started my new kick ass fitness plan? So 2 months seemed like a good time to do an update on all things health and fitness.

As I type this, my bum, my legs and my back are aching.  I did a body pump class yesterday and upped my weights.  It’s not a painful ache, just a dull ‘I know I've done some awesome exercise’ kind of ache, which is no bad thing.

So how am I getting on? If you’d told me a year ago, that in 12 months’ time, I’d be working out 6 or 7 days a week, I’d never have believed you.  For my first 29 years I’d got through life doing the minimum amount of exercise I could get away with.  Approximately once every 6 months, I’d realise perhaps I should do something, so I’d go to one class, or attempt a run, and that would be it, one exertion would be enough to put me off until the next year.

And now I'm doing all types of exercise I never thought I’d do, I'm running (although still not yet enjoying it), I'm lifting weights (seriously, wtf?!) and I'm going to body combat kick-ass style classes that involve me pretending I'm repeatedly punching someone in the face.  I'm also following a relatively clean, high protein diet.

So what is the reality looking like?

The exercise?  In the main, I'm enjoying.  It’s become such a habit that I don’t really think twice about it.  I go to classes straight after work, and I walk past the gym to get home…so no excuses.  However, I'm wondering if maybe I'm doing too much? I really feel like I need to though to progress, I need to get my stamina and endurance levels up, so figured this is the best way to do it.  It’s probably not the right answer, but it’s helping to keep me focused.

The diet?  Is good, I'm enjoying everything I'm eating, I'm allowing myself one cheat day a week (although I think I probably eat a week’s worth of calories in one day) but I’d like to learn more about what I should and shouldn't be eating.  I drool over pictures of ‘flex bowls’ on Instagram on a daily basis, I don’t know what a flex bowl is, and when you’re counting calories like I currently am, it seems unattainable? I still have some serious sugar cravings, which I give in to, and nothing will make me give up my daily Diet Coke, but I'm trying to better understand what my body needs when I'm burning so many calories.  Help?

Pancakes, Smoothies and Protein

The weight? I've been disheartened because I'm not losing any.  I weigh myself once a week, and I know my body is changing, I'm building muscle which again I know is heavier than fat, but reading scales and calorie counting is always how I've measured myself in the past, so it’s really hard to get out of that habit.  The Mr tells me I'm looking good and looking slimmer, but I find it hard not to get down about the fact I'm still a stone heavier than I was six months ago... any suggestions?

The running? I can now do 5k without any walking! Now that IS progress.  My first run (6 weeks ago) I barely managed 3k, and half of that was walking, so it’s really satisfying to see such an improvement.  For the next 2 weeks I'm going to focus on speed, and then I'm going to try and increase my distance.  I'm purely using Strava and the hubby for my running progress and motivation, but if anyone else can recommend anything works for them, I’d love to hear it.

The prospect of Total Warrior? Still shitting it.  Run 10k? Climb over 10ft walls? Swim through mud? Are my yoga classes going to help with any of this? At some point I'm going to have to try and do some kind of training that is vaguely in line with the Total Warrior obstacles.  I'm determined to be able to complete a set of monkey bars by August, but my first attempt at a pull up last week was a disaster, so there’s some upper body strength work to be done there.

video

So the good news is, I'm still feeling totally focused and determined in terms of training and exercise.  I know I've still got a long way to go, and some lessons to learn regarding food and nutrition, but one day at a time as they say. 

And if you’re still reading this, you might be interested in following me on Instagram, I post daily of the things I'm eating and various fitness-y related things so head on over


P.S. If you want to know why I'm on this crazy health kick then check out this post, and if you'd like to sponsor me (which would make me super happy) you can do here.

Friday, 19 February 2016

the #buildupbagel challenge

So everyone and their sister seems to have bought The BodyCoach book recently, myself included because I bloody love a cookery book fad, especially one that promises I'm going to get lean in 15! I assume that means after only 15 minutes, my entire body shape is going to change and I can go back to sitting on the sofa, right?

Anyway, I'm not following the book's fitness plan because I already have a pretty good regime, but I have been making a lot of the recipes (check out this post to see some of the goods I've made recently) and I know I needed to up my protein intake so these meals have really helped.

I digress, the lovely people over at The New York Bakery Company (doesn't that sound like the best place ever to work – New York AND Bagels?) read about my plight and contacted me to ask if I’d like to have a go at creating some of my own #buildupbagels , if you didn’t already know The Body Coach (aka Joe Wicks) promotes bagels as one of his post workout carb meals!  I bloody love a bagel, and I love a food-based challenge, so figured this was a win win situation for me.

Now getting a parcel FULL of bagels was definitely one of my more exciting days, and as much as I would have liked to eat the lot in a few days, even I could manage that much bread based deliciousness so I've cannily frozen half of them which means I've still got plenty left to look forward to.

So here are some of my creations so far:


1.       Ok so technically beans and cheese isn’t exactly haute cuisine, but I’d got home late from the gym, and had some big egg/bagel plans, then opened the fridge to discover we had no eggs, so option number two it was… I wasn't complaining though, beans and cheese is a classic. 

2.       Now this was my fave, scrambled eggs, chorizo, spring onion, cherry tomatoes and spinach, my mouth is watering just thinking about this.  And this was on a red onion and chive bagel, I don’t usually go for onion flavoured this but this was sooo good, I think it’s my new favourite bagel flavour.

3.       Technically, this wasn't mine, it was the Mr’s, hence the lack of creativity, but he had this for his breakfast one day, cinnamon and raisin bagel, one half smeared in jam, the other with stem ginger curd, I don’t do cinnamon but he said it was a delight! (and I've seen him have a couple since)

4.       This is where things got really exciting, I made a ratatouille-type concoction, chorizo, courgette, shallot and cherry toms fried off, then half a tin of chopped toms added, on a plain bagel topped with 2 poached eggs and a sprinkle of chilli flakes, simple yet so good.

And you can’t beat a Nutella and banana combo, but anything that involves Nutella gets eaten far too quickly for me to take a photo, what can I say, me and Nutella are in a pretty serious relationship and not much can tear us apart.

I reckon I could give Heston a run for his money with some of these bad boys.

So the question of the day is - what's your favourite bagel topping? Inspire me...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

the challenge: week 7 - the sportswear wishlist


As I mentioned in a previous post, since I started my training I now need to do washing ALL THE TIME, and when it’s just for a handful of workout clothes, it sucks.  So, it seems that the obvious thing to do is to wash less, and buy more? That logic makes sense in my books anyway…

And while I'm on the hunt for new gear, I figured I’d make a pretty wishlist and share it with my readers, because well, it’s nice to share.

I constantly have an inner battle with myself when it comes to buying new gym wear, whilst I want to buy the good quality (read: expensive) stuff, when it comes down to it I can’t bring myself to part with that much money, but then I never want to buy the cheaper high-street items because when you wash them so often I want them to last, and not fall apart after a handful of wears.  Catch 22!

But when you’re creating a ‘wishlist’ you can get away with adding all the pretty things regardless of price, right? SO without further  ado waffling, here’s my top picks:

1.  Varley Gill Marble Mesh Insert Bralette – I hadn't heard of Varley until Anna mentioned them a few times over on her blog and I have fallen head over heels, yes it’s pricey but who wouldn't be prepared to spend those extra pounds when it looks as good as this marble print sports bra, AND you can get leggings to match so it’s a must really!

2.  Rosie for Autograph Sports Bra – Ahh good ol’ Rosie HW who can do no wrong in my eyes, I love her M&S Underwear collections so I knew we’d be onto a winner with her sportswear, and I wasn't disappointed, it’s super classy (as expected) so it’s easy to wear and team with other styles and items, and you could easily get away with wearing it all not just at the gym, I think I want the whole range.

3.  H&M Running Jacket – I very nearly bought this in London at the weekend, I tried it on, liked it, and decided I’d go away and think about it, of course we then ran out of time to go back and get it, why did I do that?  It was really lightweight, a good fit and still looks stylish.  Obviously, when you’re a sweaty mess when out running like I am, looking stylish isn’t up there in your list of priorities, but if putting a nice jacket on means there’s more chance of me going out for a run then it makes sense for me to buy it, obvs!

4.  Storm Core Ankle Biter Tights – I discovered Active in Style when following Zanna on Instagram (I also LOVE the leopardprint pair she rocks) but these black ones are the perfect pair of simple, straightforward leggings but with the sheer panelling giving them that extra something something, and you can’t beat a ‘something something’.

5.  Sweaty Betty Reflective Run Jacket – another running jacket, because for someone who goes out for a run once a week, I need two, right? I just like this, ‘nough said!

6.  Pink Soda Leopard Tights – Pink Soda has well and truly been doing the blogger rounds of late, and I can see why, it’s affordable, looks good, and who doesn't want a ombre leopard look in their sports gear?!

And, completely unconsciously I've pretty much created a capsule gym wardrobe here, all items inter-wearable (is that a term?) with each other, so I need never worry about which items are clean and which are in the wash… a girl can dream!

 
I've also decided it’s probably about time I invested in some decent trainers (read: not just the cheapest pair in Sports Direct that are vaguely attractive), I'm working out 6/7 times a week at the moment, and I know I could be doing myself more damage if I'm not wearing good shoes, especially if I start hammering those pavements even more, so these are top of my list.  

Ok, ok, I've gone purely on appearance but I can’t resist a good pair of Nikes…


What's your favourite sports brand? Any recommendations, send my way...



P.S. If you want to know why I'm on this crazy health kick then check out this post, and if you'd like to sponsor me (which would make me super happy) you can do here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

the challenge: week 6 - what i'm eating

Since I started blogging again, I've been talking all things fitness, but it's not just the exercise I've been focusing on, I'm really trying to re-educate myself in food and nutrition and learn what my body needs to help support the exercise.

I want to build muscle, and get lean (ish) but I also want to be full, stop calorie counting (something I currently obsess over) and enjoy coming up with great meals that give me all the nutritional elements I need.

I don't understand macros, and to be honest, I don't want to get into a routine of weighing/measuring every piece of food that passes my lips, but I am trying to up my protein intake and cut down on my carbs.

There's no surprise that I've jumped on The Body Coach bandwagon (I bloody love a cookbook fad) and to be fair, I have no criticisms.  I've made probably around 12 of the meals so far, which in a 2/3 week period I think is good going.  Usually when I buy a new cookbook, it spends 90% of it's time looking pretty on the shelf.

So here's a few things I've eaten recently, as you can see my beloved Bircher Muesli makes an appearance, I'm actually eating this 3 or 4 times a week, but it's not so pretty to photograph, there's LOTS of chicken, and spinach seems to be propping up the majority of meals too.  But it's fun to try new recipes, they all taste amazing and so far, they're succeeding in keeping me full...winner winner (literally) chicken dinner.


And I'm sitting here now, after completing a Body Pump class on my lunch break, a Zumba class after work and a whole load of tasty meals, so you could say I'm fairly getting on-board with this 'new me'.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

the challenge: week 5 - what i've learnt so far

Running Gear


I've been on my training plan now for a whole 5 weeks, it’s not long, and there was a little wobble in the middle when I was ill, but I thought now would be a good time to talk about what I've learnt and discovered so far, because obviously after 5 weeks I'm a total pro now when it comes to Health and Fitness… 

1. Washing, all the bloody time! I've got a pretty extensive wardrobe which means usually, I can go a good couple of weeks without needing to do a wash,(don’t worry, I've got a pretty impressive knicker drawer), but since doing workouts 5/6 times a week those sweaty clothes need washed, a lot. The simple answer is, I need to buy more workout gear, which I'm more than happy to get on-board with, but it still requires much more washing than I currently do, and that is something I don't enjoy. 

2. Smugness – there is no greater feeling than finishing a gym sesh and knowing you've just worked your ass off. It’s even better when I do it on my lunch break and can spend the rest of my day bragging to my office mates how I've just pumped some iron (yep, I'm that person). 

3. Strength quickly builds – I recently started going to Body Pump classes, in my first class I could barely lift the bar, let alone any weights on it, but I'm gradually understanding what I can manage and increasing it slowly, even if it’s just a kilo at a time, I've now more than doubled what I squat with and I'm working on my biceps and triceps. 

4. Exercising on an empty stomach – this isn't something I’d ever intentionally do, but last night I was rushing out of work to get to my class on time, usually I grab a banana or have something in my bag to give me an energy boost, but due to a hectic afternoon I just completely forgot, and I’d only had a salad for lunch. To note, a Body Combat class is HARD WORK when you've got no energy to burn off, so make sure you always have an emergency snack in your bag...

5. Motivation – it’s much easier to keep myself motivated knowing I'm working towards something (Ism doing Total Warrior if you didn't already know – read this post!) plus I'm raising money so it’s given me even more of a kick up the arse knowing friends and family are giving their own money for me to do this, if that didn't get me to the gym then nothing would. 

6. Overnights oat are da bomb – seriously, these bad boys have changed my life. Now usually they’re a breakfast staple, but I've discovered they’re great for making up and bringing to work for my lunch on the days I go to gym. My favourite combo is coconut milk, a grated apple, some Greek yoghurt and maple syrup, it is soo good (let me know if you’d like my own personal recipe) but I'm also trying to expand my repertoire and have this pineapple and coconut combo lined up to try this weekend. 

7. Enjoyment – dare I say it, I'm really enjoying it, ok that’s an exaggeration, I'm not enjoying the running, and if you asked me half way through a combat or circuits class when I can’t breathe from exhaustion then I probably wouldn't say I'm exactly having fun, but I do like this feeling of being fitter and pushing myself to work harder. Plus knowing I can now climb a flight of stairs without needing a rest is definitely a good thing. 

8. My ass – I've always been one of those people who had a bit of a pancake ass, I never really thought of anything of it until I've now noticed my bum is looking a bit perkier, it's made me realise how flat it was before, I think I kinda like it… 

So there you go, who knows what I'll have learnt by week 10, but in the meantime, if you can recommend any overnight oats recipes, or some good workout gear then point me in the right direction!



If you would like to sponsor me for this challenge, then you can find my justgiving page here, I would very much appreciate it.

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