Review: Quorn vs chicken, calories and nutritional values – can it sway a bodybuilding meat lover?

I have an ongoing life-long love affair with red meat but I also LOVE trying new foods. It dawned on me that to my knowledge I’ve never knowingly had Quorn so it seemed like a good place to start.

Review: MyProtein Sugar Free Syrup – Maple, Coffee, Chocolate and Butterscotch flavours

I’ve tried many sugar free syrups in my time like Waldens, Skinny Syrups, Starbucks and random own brands I come across so I’m interested to see how MyProtein stacks up.

Front -The Photoshoot: 12 Week Body Transformation with Laurie Carr

The Photoshoot: 12 Week Body Transformation with Laurie Carr

Today I received the images from my photoshoot – the pinnacle of my challenge. Looking back now I am so gratified with the experience and contented that I pushed myself as hard as I did; I know I really gave this every ounce of my soul.

Cauliflower Protein Pudding Mousse Low Carb Low Fat High Protein Recipe  

Cauliflower Protein Pudding Mousse Low Carb Low Fat High Protein Recipe  

I’ve really struggled with finding simple desserts that are low calories, low fat and low carb whilst I reverse diet. I don’t want to bump my calories up to normal levels just yet so this little beauty satisfies my sweet cravings for under 200 calories!

Diet and training update: 3 weeks out: feeling sh*t, dieting and cutting 

​The title says it all really! I’m just taking a moment to share some of the downsides of dieting because I think it would be unbalanced to gloss over it, I also think social media and content often highlights only the good bits!

As the weeks have spun on my calories have dropped little by little and I’m now in quite a substantial deficit while the last few bits of fat loss are chipped away. At last check I was sitting around 13% body fat at 50kg.

Dieting for a competition or goal is very stressful on the body… I doubt that’s news to you, it sure isn’t news to me! As expected cutting/dieting is having an impact on several physical and mental aspects of my mind and body, such as:

  • I’m tired
  • I’m grumpy
  • I miss my boobs
  • I miss socialising over food with my boys and friends
  • I miss my sex drive
  • I keep falling asleep sitting up
  • I’m near constantly hungry
  • I can’t concentrate
  • My strength seems low
  • And all I talk about is the gym and my food!

So all in all, feeling pretty sh*t right now and I’m pretty delicate. I got real sad when Laurie took my morning protein oats out and I had to give my head a wobble… There are far more serious things going on in the world; war, famine, injustice, and here I am having a melt down over a few weeks without oats. Pretty pathetic right?

My body perception is completely warped now too. One day I think “OK I’m looking on track” and another day I’m thinking “why am I still so fat”.  These swings of perception seem to have ramped up now I’ve got less time to play with (20 days to go). It’s a phenomenonal mental challenge to not allow yourself to be drawn in to self loathing and criticism. This whole process absolutely magnifies every aspect of your body, and I consider myself to be relatively level headed, but even so, this is tough!

I think one thing that’s really driven home to me now is that all of the above really indicates how this kind of diet and lifestyle is just not sustainable long term, at least not for me anyway!

In the digital world we’re blasted with images of fit girls and competitors who look incredible seemingly day in, day out. These girls have millions of followers and fans wanting to know what the secret is, what the diet plan is, what the training plan is. But there isn’t really any big secret. I truly believe looking like that is a full time job, and it has to be one you’re truly dedicated to.

I have no doubt that people do really love and enjoy this process with the good and the bad, but I just feel like it’s not for me. I’m certainly pleased that I’ve done it, it’s been an exploration of myself, my motivation and my will power. It’s definitely taught me some valuable lessons that I can apply to other areas of my life, like self discipline and restraint.

So what’s next?

Right now I probably look the best I ever have… So wouldn’t it be great to sustain that long term? Well of course, but do I want to do this every year, F*£K no!

I work full time and I’m studying for a diploma and so all my weekends are spent studying and all my evenings after work are spent training in the gym. My body and mind are starting to cry out for some balance. As it is I have little time for my creative projects – and the horror I’ve had to give up my favourite hobby, baking! This is really nagging at my soul, and although diet and training are definitely a huge part of my life, I don’t want it to be my life!

I’ve been on the path to a healthier lifestyle since early 2013 and I intend on continuing it. I love eating for health, I enjoy training and seeing my body change and I’m not going to return to circa 2010 Amy who used to eat chocolate for tea – though that does sound like #lifegoals right now I have to say.

Once this prep is over I’m going to really work out what my long term aspirations are, and never say never, but I have a feeling year round abs are probably not going to make the cut! ?

Current diet and coaching – by Laurie Carr Performance PT

This year I’ve taken on the challenge of a 12 week prep with Super Heavy Weight bodybuilder Laurie Carr. I’m not intending on doing any shows so this is not a contest prep but I am treating it as though it were and throwing myself whole-heartedly at the whole experience

Newbie diet tips from a newbie

Being a newbie I’ve had to learn some lessons the hard way. I’ve put together some tips that hopefully you’ll find useful as you start your journey too.

Working in an office environment can be particularly tricky; you have to navigate bacon butty Fridays, endless birthdays, leaving do’s, retirements, cake and coffee mornings, and all the related sugary delicious treats that come with them.

You have to deal with the bargaining; “you’re being silly, take one”, “come on, one won’t hurt” and “you don’t need to lose weight, have a slice of cake!”.

This is where you really need to dig in your heels and show restraint. Eventually friends, family and co-workers will see you’re dedicated. Just the same as they wouldn’t offer a peanut to a nut allergy sufferer, they’ll stop offering you those all too alluring indulgences…

  1. Trust your PT; Pete in finance may well have won the 100m sprint at school but that doesn’t make him qualified to offer you nutrition advice. Your PT has designed your diet plan for your body and your goals. If you want to avoid shooting people down in flames try responding with “that’s a great tip thanks, I’m going to see how I get on with this first though”.
  2. Swap in an “on plan” item; OK so everyone’s having bacon buttys and you’re not, you feel really left out right? Take this opportunity to order yourself a coffee or a hot/cold drink that is on your plan. Half of the enjoyment is just the ritual of doing something together. Soon you’ll feel a sense of pride that you’re choosing to have something healthy while everyone else is on their second breakfast of the day!
  3. Tupperware, it’s important; When you’re out and about or at work for the day you need to prepare your food and take it with you. I can’t stress enough how important good quality plastic storage containers are; vaccum sealed (click and lock) tupperware will keep your food fresh for a good few hours even out of the fridge. Invest in some decent boxes and a cool bag. (I never thought there would come a time in my life that I got excited over tupperware; quarter-life crisis maybe!). I made the mistake of using cheap boxes once and found that when I came to eat my meal it smelt like a thousand dead fish, I then had to scrabble around to find something to fit my plan.
  4. Eating out; Staying on your diet can be difficult if you are trying to maintain a social life. Avoiding situations so you aren’t tempted to slip on your diet can mean you end up isolated. I meet with my friends and just have a coffee while they eat. You might think that would be awkward but eventually it just feels entirely normal. Eating out every once in a while isn’t going to hurt your diet, check out menus and find somewhere that offers something like your scheduled meal. Remember restaurants nearly always tailor to your requirements, don’t be too shy to ask them to keep the sauce and butters off for you.
  5. Eating in; If you’re going to be eating in with friends or family make sure you have your food either prepped or ready to prep. I often take my meals uncooked round to a friend’s house and cook it while they cook theirs, it makes me feel more included.
  6. Seasoning is your ally; If, like me, your cooking skills originally featured culinary delights such as potato wedges with grated cheese, then cooking healthy is a learning curve in itself. Stock yourself up on a plethora of spices and herbs to season your foods. Try to spend some time discovering what you like and your diet will stop being a chore. I have to give props here for this to Rob “The Chef” Lynch; he has been training for over 11 years and has spent an inordinate amount of time showing me how to prep my meals properly. Do you know someone who is a good cook? Get them to help you too!
  7. Kill the cash; Working near to a vending machine or shops is the death knell of all diets. Mitigate this risk; leave your card and cash at home or somewhere else out of the way. This way you can’t enable yourself to buy and eat something off that you perhaps shouldn’t be.
  8. Set reminders; I am hideously forgetful, and live a very busy life which has me often on the go from 5:45am to 22:00pm. To make sure I’m getting enough water and don’t miss meals I have reminders on my phone to help me keep on track. It’s a great way of being accountable and keeping to a schedule.
  9. Gross yourself out; Chocolate is my weakness, cheesecake too. But have you ever looked at the ingredients in packaged foods? Take some time to educate yourself on what exactly those ridiculously long named ingredients are. Mostly they’re preservatives, fillers, cheap syrups and oils. Glucose syrup in prepackaged ham, for example. The food industry is a machine, geared towards cheap ingredients for maximum profit, which is pretty icky when you start researching.
  10. Be proud; What you’re doing is a good thing, it takes resilience, strength and determination. Be pleased with yourself for sticking to your plan and making a positive change and don’t let anyone tell you different!

Amy-Kate

How I finally found the motivation to start

I was the kind of girl at school that would forge notes to get out of PE (sorry mum). I hated it. I’ve got asthma and I ran like a pigeon (I probably still do), so for me anything involving sport was just a means of me hideously embarrassing myself.

Taking that through to adulthood I still had a phobia of anything that was going to push my body too far, because it was uncomfortable and a horrifically pointless waste of energy to me. I have dipped in and out of going to the gym on occasion. And by that I mean sitting on a treadmill for two minutes and rewarding myself with some congratulatory chocolate immediately afterwards.

Alongside my irrational fear of anything heartbeat inducing, I’ve always had quite an unhealthy relationship with food. If I felt down some days I would eat nothing at all, or worst case I would eat 7 chocolate bars and an onion ring sandwich. I knew nothing about nutrition and little about cooking. Baking on the other hand, well, I can whip you up a batch of cookies in 15 minutes flat!

I’ve never been very big but I’ve yoyo’d from my smallest at a size 4-6 (7st 6lbs), to my biggest at a size 10-12 (8st 9lbs). The weights don’t sound that different I know, but I am short and a small weight gain is a big difference on me!

The most important thing, though, is I was not healthy or physically fit…

That defining moment

The turning point for me was on a holiday a couple of years ago. I noticed a mum playing with her child in the swimming pool and she had an incredible figure, slim but muscular. She was probably ten years older than me and I was in awe of her.

I looked back on the photos of myself in a bikini from that holiday and I was suddenly very ashamed of myself. There was no excuse for me, I was young, I had few responsibilities and yet here I was looking like an absolute blob in comparison. And yes maybe you shouldn’t compare… but I did, and I’m glad for it.

I had a really tough year last year, it’s not something that I am going to go in too much detail with just yet (we lost a close family member to cancer). But personal challenges left me having to reconfigure my life, find a new home and start a new chapter in my life. At this point I was very contemplative and my health and fitness was one thing I thought I could drive all that negative energy in to.

After that I read hundreds of articles. Hundreds. I confused myself, went round in circles, and then finally settled on Paleo and yep I lost a stone in weight. But… I looked bad for it. I looked skinny and flat… nothing like slim-muscular-goddess-swimming-pool lady. Not only that but I suffer with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as Seasonal Allergy Syndrome) and the paleo diet was leaving me with very few options.

Now I needed some guidance, I didn’t know what to do in a gym or what I should be eating to get where I wanted to be… so I chose a local PT and approached them for a nutrition and training plan.

Armed with more knowledge and direction I gained the confidence to go to the gym by myself. I was no longer bumbling around looking lost meagrely picking up a dumbbell and holding it like it might give me rabies. I went with purpose, knowing what I was doing and I got my training done.

If you’re struggling to find the motivation, I strongly suggest you find a coach or PT to get you started!

Amy-Kate