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.
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.
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!
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! ?
I had an interesting conversation with my beautiful training partner Kim tonight about judgement. More specifically how feeling judged by people can really hold you back from your full potential.
We live in age where even the most private aspects of people’s lives are documented online, from the depravity of human nature right up to the most wonderful achievements of our kind.
For me personally I find it difficult to put myself out there as sometimes I feel my word holds less value then others. I used to be so much more confident than I am now and bizarrely over time I have developed a fear and nervousness of being judged for who I am or what I believe in. I suspect each one of us experiences this to some degree.
What seems to be a common thread is that those who can let go of fear, push other people’s negativity away from them and not care so much about opinions seem to achieve more in their lives.
Those people who are willing to take a chance and hell to anyone else are not constrained by imaginary barriers.
“I can’t post that it makes me look weak”
“I can’t write about that it’s too personal”
“I can’t talk about this I don’t know enough about it”
But that’s the thing, anyone can, and the only difference in the people doing it is that they have balls. They have the confidence. It makes me wonder how much wisdom we miss from the quieter souls of this world.
Basic psychology teaches us that to create confidence we need positive experiences. So I’m making this an extension to my own personal challenges… To choose to be free of judgement, feel the fear and do it anyway.
I suppose really very few people care as much about you and what you are doing as you do, and as Kim very succinctly put it “it will always say more about them than it does about you” if they bring negativity.
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
Today I am going to talk about something that is maybe slightly off topic… mindfulness.
You may have already heard of the principles of mindfulness, but if you haven’t here’s a quick summary;
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. (BeMindful.co.uk)
Now don’t panic I’m not about to go off into too much of a babbling monologue of philosophy, but I am going to show you how mindfulness can be applied to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Starting right now, not tomorrow
Mindfulness and its techniques can be really useful if you struggle to stay motivated and concentrate on the here and now. We can apply its principles to the gym, exercise and motivation.
We’re often so worried about what we need to do later, tomorrow, next week, by summer, that we forget that the actions that we take right now are our life.
In a world of work, traffic, people, stress and responsibilities how often do you take to just breathe?
If you’re struggling to get motivated to hit the gym try this first.
- Sit in a position you find comfortable
- Take in a breath and observe the sensation
- Feel your chest rise and fall
- Listen to the sound of your inhalation and exhalation
- Clear your mind of thoughts, concentrate on you, your body and that present moment
- Take a few moments to reflect and be calm
Stop thinking and start doing
When you’re in a gym or exercising it’s quite easy to slip into negative thoughts of self consciousness.
“What if I’m doing it wrong”
“What if they’re watching me”
“They’re doing it different, they must be right”
The trick here is to zone into yourself and your body, ignore everything else in that room. Think about;
- The muscles you are using
- The limbs you are moving
- How your body is achieving those things
You might have heard this referred to as the mind-muscle connection. If you can master this you will find your gym sessions are far more focused.
What are you doing and why
You never really think about doing the washing up, you just do it, and joyfully let your mind wander elsewhere. Which is fine, because really the washing up is a mundane task and it doesn’t much require focus to achieve the end goal! But when you’re training for your body you need to keep your mind on track.
If you’re working out in the gym and you’re thinking about what Burt over there is doing, you’re not thinking about what you are doing. If you’re thinking about the pizza you’re having in two days, you’re not thinking about how you’re working on your range of motion. Try to keep yourself in the moment.
Ask yourself, why am I doing this? And constantly remind yourself, that at this present moment you are doing it for you! And that you deserve your own full attention…
The festive season is quickly upon us and with it the mince pies, mulled wine, Christmas parties and drinks with friends.
If you’re on a diet plan you might feel like all your hard work is about to start unravelling in front of you. ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all.
For those of you just starting out you may be worried you’re about to enter in to an un-navigable few weeks.
So let’s be realistic and talk tactics!
Eat before events
If you’ve got a meeting with friends, works do or meal with family, eat before you go. Fill yourself up with some healthy options that are within your exisiting diet.
This is where a lot of people go wrong, they’ll reverse this theory and not eat all day to “make space” for their off plan meal, don’t do it! If you’re full you will be much less likely to be lured by the Christmas pud and brandy cream.
It’s easy to let all hell break loose when you’ve already committed your mind to having a meal that’s outside of your plan. You need to be conscious; although one meal is not going to ruin it all, you don’t want to allow yourself to binge and overeat.
No doubt there are going to be some culinary delights you just can’t bring yourself to resist, and, in my opinion, this is OK! Just try to pick the best options available to you and keep your portion sizes relatively small.
Know your alcohol
Pat mentioned in his last blog post about the danger of liquid calories. Alcoholic drinks soon tot up to a significant amount if you let yourself get carried away. Two glasses of wine is 318 calories, three pints of beer is a whopping 546 calories. Drink Aware has a really handy calculator (www.drinkaware.co.uk) that can help you work out what is a reasonable amount. Check it out, pick yourself a limit and try to stick to it.
Ignore the nibbles
As hard as it may be, try to ignore the nibbles presented to you. Forget the complimentary bread and olives and concentrate on your main meal. You don’t need to be ridiculously strict with yourself, but by eradicating these extra calories you can enjoy more of your main courses without overeating.
Always have a glass
….of water. Yes I know, I’m not giving you much fun here am I? Keep a glass of water topped up nearby, if you’re feeling tempted between courses, take a sip. It’s a great distraction technique and keeps your hands busy.
Meals out are often loaded with salt too, which may cause your body to increase it’s water retention. By keeping hydrated you’ll help to minimise this impact.
And finally, aside from all the above, give yourself a bit of flexibility and don’t harbour guilt for enjoying yourself!
Does this sound like you? Are you gym shy?
When I first started thinking about getting in to shape my ridiculous shyness was one of my main concerns.
This might come as a surprise to some people, as I am a relatively out-spoken confident person to those who I know. However I am afflicted with a shyness that often comes across as aloof arrogance. Acquaintances often think I’m too stuck up to speak to them, don’t like them or that I’m just plain rude! Which is not the case at all; it’s generally because I feel like I have absolutely nothing useful to say and don’t want to make a tit of myself!
If the thought of going to a crowded gym leaves you with irrational fears like:
- I’m unfit and everyone is going to stare at me
- People might laugh at me because I don’t know what I’m doing
- I’m fat compared to the other girls
- I’m small compared to the other guys
- I don’t really want to talk to anyone
- It’s going to be full of uber motivated people who are generally better at life than me
Then I can sympathise with you! And please read on…
Being afraid of trying something new is entirely normal. You’re not a freak or a misfit, you’re not socially inept and it’s not something you can’t change.
You just have to provide yourself with some coping mechanisms to get you going and think about things from a different perspective.
Strategies for shy people
- Sign up online or over the phone: if even the thought of stepping foot in a gym makes you squirm, sign up online or over the phone. Try to avoid peak hours for your first session if you feel a little daunted.
- Get a PT to write you a training plan and follow it yourself: you don’t have to undertake PT sessions to get a training plan. A good PT will happily write you out a training plan and go through it with you without tying you into an expensive ongoing contract and sessions.
- All hail the headphones: the international signal for “don’t talk to me”. If you want to avoid social interaction get some of your favourite music on a playlist, plug yourself in and tune the world out.
- Sign up at a smaller gym: I’ve been to a lot of different gyms in my town, and there’s only a handful which have a nice atmosphere. It seems the bigger the gym the less welcoming it is. Independent gyms are normally run by local people who have a genuine interest in fitness and not just raking in your money. I go to two gyms in Lincoln on a regular basis; Performance Gym and Fit4Less Lincoln. Both have a nice, relaxed atmosphere, with friendly staff and I feel comfortable training there. Don’t be afraid to try a gym out before you sign up, go with one that works for you and your personality.
- No-one is laughing at you: seriously, people at the gym are busy working on themselves. They aren’t looking at you or laughing at you, and if you think they are, well who’s the mug here? They’re wasting their time while you’re doing something positive!
- Everyone is working on something: that guy over there eyeing himself in the mirror? He’s probably hating on his arms and wishing they were bigger. That slim girl working her abs on the mat? She probably thinks she’s fat. Everyone has issues with their own body, remember that.
- People are just people: that’s right, just a bunch of cells like you and I. They’re not better than you, they’re not more motivated than you. In fact, step into any gym and you’ll find plenty of people idly sitting on their phones not really doing much at all. Sometimes the gym is just a place to escape for people, you’re not going to be surrounded by a bunch of hyped up lions pumping iron and gazelle like beauties pounding the treadmills like they’re training for a zombie apocalypse. Just normal people, doing stuff.
- Get a training partner: if you’ve got a friend who is also interested in going to the gym, go with them! You’re much more likely to succeed if you’ve got someone there to talk to, and it’s always great to have someone to spot you (help you with your weights).
Still not sure you can do it?
Acclimitisation is a proven method to conquer fear or anxiety. By repeatedly exposing yourself to the situation that you feel unsure or afraid of, you will gain tolerance. Here’s 3 things you can do:
- Learn the basics: there’s plenty of information on this website and across the internet. Learn some basic exercises and how certain machines work by reading tutorials and watching videos.
- Look at transformation pictures and read some real life journeys: there’s nothing more inspiring than reading about someone who has managed to change their body completely, especially if you can relate to their previous body type.
- Set yourself a goal: start small; be it sign up to a gym, buy some new trainers, or commit to attending the gym once this week.
Things to remember!
The way you feel is not insurmountable; you just have to challenge yourself step by step.
Everybody in life is winging it!
Everyone in that gym was a newbie one day too, no-one came flying out the womb with a dumbbell in their hand.
Excuses are funny little things really. You make a plea of bargain to yourself to allow yourself to do (or not do) something. Even if ultimately that excuse is stopping you from achieving a bigger goal and you know it’s counter productive. It’s a completely backwards way of thinking; in the world of psychology it’s called self-handicapping.
So here’s a little excuse I made for myself…
“I can’t do fasted cardio in the mornings, I don’t have time and I need to get to work as a priority. If I get up any earlier I’ll be too tired.”
…I was going to the gym pretty much every night of the week to get all my training and cardio in, and I wasn’t getting much time to myself (tiny violins please). Something needed to change, but as far as I was concerned there was no way around it.
In my mind there were many reasons why this wouldn’t work. I already get up at 5:45am, walk Captain (my dog), feed him, clean his run, cook my food for the day, have my breakfast, get ready for work and leave the house for 7:30am. If I got up any earlier I was sure my world would implode, I’d be arriving at work resembling an Orc and I’d be tired all day. (I’m sure there are some sleep deprived parents rolling their eyes at this!)
But the thing is deep down I knew I did have time, I just needed to be more organised and motivated.
Sometimes you’ve just got to give yourself a kick in the proverbial.
Challenge excuses with solutions
If you have excuses yourself, analyse what the deep rooted motivation is behind them and then challenge those thoughts. Is the ‘reason’ you’ve given yourself really true? Is there a way round it…?
I figured that if I prepped my meals and had my change of clothes packed and ready the night before I would only need to get up 15 minutes earlier. I’d still have time for a 30 minute dog walk and to do cardio before heading to work.
So then my two excuses became a bit void and the real reasons reared their heads:
- I’ll be too tired e.g. I love my sleep and I’m a lazy oik
- I don’t have time e.g. I can’t be bothered to do all that extra stuff before bed
Now for the motivation… start small
I said to myself: “I will trial this morning cardio business for one week; 3 morning sessions. If you do turn up to work resembling a creature of the earth and it negatively impacts on your performance then you can re-evaluate, but first, you must try.”
I wasn’t scaring myself with crazy over-commitment, but it’s enough of a trial that I’d feel like I gave it a good go. Because in my mind this was just a trial it didn’t seem quite so distressing to wrench myself out of bed for a few days, after all, it wouldn’t be forever.
Since Sunday is a relatively free night for me to do all my food preparation I agreed with myself a Monday morning would be my first go. I peeled myself out of bed at 5:30am and zombied myself to the gym by 6:45am. And hey presto I got my cardio done with all limbs and organs intact!
The thing that came to me as a shock most of all; I felt awesome.
Mountain, molehill; excuses abolished.
Fasted cardio is now well and truly part of my routine.
Now time to challenge your excuses, write a list and then ask yourself each of these:
- Is my excuse really valid?
- What is the real reason I do/don’t want to do this?
- What is a realistic solution?
Set yourself a mini-trial to see if you can do it… you might just surprise yourself.