Food

Inspo from Squat Mango...

For the launch of my new blog  I wanted to speak to girls who have inspired me to dream big, be open, honest and put myself out there. After deciding to do more 'lifestyle' posts about food and exercise (soon as it is a massive part of my life) This one in particular is a massive inspiration for me. I stalk her Instagram like a crazy fan girl and always look forward to her transformation posts and her honest captions about how her journey is going. I have been following Kayla Itsines on Instagram for years, and working her twelve week training programme recently, you end end up following a massive community. Natsbbg (who is now on week 35) is one of the many I started to follow. She is nothing but open in her posts about her fitness journey and she inspires me on those mornings when I want to sleep or snooze for hours on end, to get up and go to the gym, because hard work pays off. Natsbbg begun her own blog Squat Mango and is selling a recipe book off the back of her amazing hard work and transformations.  Nati talks a lot about what she eats and how she trains on her Instagram  so I wanted to ask this gorgeous girl some different questions. How she began believing in herself and what pushed her on her journey... It is so awesome to get to speak to other girls about body image and liking ourselves as it is something I have struggled with since I was an eleven year old kid standing in Tammy girl wishing I could wear a crop top and denim shorts. I wasn't in it alone.

Were you always confident?

I’ve had my times where I’ve been very confident, and I've also gone through some times where I have had 0 confidence. A lot of this confidence has depended on my body image. I was always fairly lean, until the end of high school / beginning of college. I started drinking A LOT and my then boyfriend broke up with me right when I was starting university. I partied way too much and started gaining weight. I started looking for acceptance while partying, thinking the more guys liked me, the more I would like myself. I was dependent on guys to feel good about myself. For example, there’d be nights where I’d go out and lots of guys would ask me to dance with them. This would be a successful night for me. Then there’d be nights where no one would ask me and I’d feel incredibly sad. Its weird to think about how much random men’s opinions would mean to me. There came a time where I decided I shouldn't put my happiness in other people’s hands, let alone random guys who actually meant nothing to me. I decided I was the maker of my own future. My life kind of took a turn, as I decided I didn't need a man or anyone for that matter to help me feel better about myself. I decided to be happy and confident and I learned to love myself despite my flaws. Turns out, a few weeks after I decided all this, I met my current boyfriend (we've been together for 4 years now!). I know this answer might not really answer the question well haha but what I mean to say is, I've had times where my confidence has been on the floor. I've lost and gained weight and this has always been something that affected how I viewed myself. But my confidence has been great ever since I started loving myself for who I am and not for who other people want me to be.

What actions do you take to be kinder to yourself (physically/mentally)

There’s days where I’m so hard on myself! I have to remind myself that in order to truly be happy, I have to be good to myself. I have to treat myself but I also have to maintain a healthy balance. Food is very important to me. I’ve started eating healthy and it has changed me, physically and mentally. But I’ve reached a stage where I can’t be healthy 100% of the time, so I do enjoy some treats now and then. And when I do, I beat myself up. But then I say to myself “HEY! YOU DESERVE IT!” because beating myself up isn’t going to help anyone! I wake up everyday and promise myself i’m going to make a good day out of it! I smile as much as I can and I think positively, even when i’m feeling down. It’s easy to get caught up in the bad things, and it’s important to remember how many good things I have going on in my life and I have to remain thankful.

Have you always dreamed big?

No! I’ve always dreamed small actually. I started this instagram thinking, “hm, maybe i’ll share my picture and inspire a few people”. I NEVER thought I would actually inspire so many people. I was looking for small jobs that didn’t really make me happy (i considered working in a bank.. what!??) and suddenly I decided, "hey.. I could make a recipe book! That’s not hard right?” I realised I could do anything I set my mind to! And now my recipe book is being sold all around the world and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve actually got a lot more plans for myself and my brand (squatmango) coming up!!

What would you say to your younger self, in hind sight, about loving yourself and body image?

Never let anyone define you. If you’re not happy about yourself today, make the necessary changes in order to be happier! Love yourself each and every day! Eat the right foods, and treat yourself right. Never settle for less than you deserve. You only have one body, so treat it right and love yourself every single day.

Love natsbbg x

 

 

Pick your fights...

Ok, so balance. What does that really mean? It used to mean if I ate a bacon sarnie at breakfast, I would probably eat some kale for lunch and skip dinner. Balance to me always sounds too vague. It's a lazy persons way of saying 'Everything in moderation' or 'only eat one slice of pizza, not the whole thing' PAHAHHAHAHA! One slice, who are you kidding. Why would I only have one slice? This is not the school canteen where they limit you to one measley slice. This is life, my life, and I will not only eat one slice of pizza. But that is the toss up. How much do you want to 'feel' good in that bikini you saw on that girl on Insta. You are pretty sure that just buying the bikini means that you will immediately look like said girl in the Insta pic. Despite your boobs being three sizes smaller, and your bum being three inches bigger and your waist... well your waist does not look like that unless you are wearing spanx. But you know for sure, eating one whole pizza is not going to contribute well to how you 'feel' in your bikini. 

So the dilema ensues. You really want that pizza. You really want that lemon drizzle cake that is oozing lemony, sugary, syrup at you and the sponge is so gaaad dam moist that you could imagine a mini version of yourself jumping on the sponge and then sinking, being engulfed in one big lemony, spongey, cakey heaven and you think. 'Faaak it, who wants to 'feel' that good in a bikini anyways. It happens, what? Like once or twice a year? Noone cares., Noone actually cares. And so, you eat the pizza, but then you also eat the dough balls AND the cake. Washed down with half a bottle of wine and when you get home you think, 'Ahh I've been naughty already so... why not eat the left over ice cream in the freezer.' Get it out the way ready for tomorrow, when you are going to be good. When you are going to start that diet. When you are going to only eat the 1200 calories you allow yourself and tomorrow you will forget about the lemony oozy syrup and the cheesey whole pizza and you will move on.

Except, if you suffer from this ongoing, crappy, but real, body image issue, you won't. You won't move on. The guilt will eat you up and the sugar and the flour will  make your belly cramp and your head hurt and you will wish you had just said no to that bit of left over Ben and Jerrys. Or you wish you had just turned down meeting your friends. You should have just gone home, alone, and eaten kale on air bread with a helping of avocado butter with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top with some egg whites. DAM IT. Why can't I just be one of those healthy people. Why do I need to diet? Why do I not have the body I want and why, if I want it so bad can I not just stick to a nutrition plan of turkey mince and leaves. 

Why? Because that life right there is a sucky one. One where you are always on a diet. One where you are always on a treadmill. One where you are always standing in front of the mirror lifting bits up, sucking bobs in, trying different angles to see which way you look skinnier, fitter, healthier. That life SUCKS BUM HOLE. After fifteen years of this, I did not want it anymore. It hurt my head. My soul. My relationships with others, my relationship with myself. 

So I began a journey of eating healthier (most of the time) Eating a balanced set of foods daily. Don't get me wrong. In the two years that I decided against no more diets, no more binges, no more counting calories or feeling shite about my body... I have infact done all of those things. I have tried the 5:2 diet, macro counting, binged on weekends a few times and cried when I haven't seen results quickly. My journey is a journey. Not one where I suddenly woke up perfect at life, because I will never ever be perfect at life. So I just began to pick my fights.

It was my boyfs advise, one night when we were at an italian restaurant and I was torn between stuffing my face with everything on the menu or having a salad and crying whilst I watched him eat his whole pizza. He told me to pick my fights if it was causing me this much stress. What can I not live without? What can I say no to? Really. Give or take. I could not say not to the Arranchini balls. I could say no to the pizza. I could not say no to the salted caramel cheesecake, but I could say no to the two glasses of wine. 

People want quick fixes. I so did. I wanted to look like those instagram girls in bikinis. I wanted to look toit, and firm and I wanted it in four weeks. Then the four week mark would come, and maybe I would be a bit smaller, I would weigh 8lbs less and I would be happy about it. For a week. Until I started eating everything and anything I could because I was no longer 'being healthy' anymore.

This lifestyle did not work. It took my sanity (OK that's a bit dramatic) but it took a part of me. I was either all or nothing. The saddest bit was that it was literally about weight. I had no intention of being healthy, of living a balanced lifestyle, of feeling nourished or getting my head into a state where none of this mattered so so much.

So I began picking my fights. 

Instead of a chocolate bar everyday, I have a cube of dark chocolate. Instead of having a Mac Donalds every month, I have an Honest Burger. I can live without the bun on most burgers, but I can't live without the fries, any fries, all of the fries. I can live without cake everyday at work, if it means when I actually go out socialising with friends I can have the gooey, cheesey fritters. I don't need pizza at home from Tesco, but avoid a pizza express pizza? Hell no. I pick my fights. I chose what is worth it for me. I decide what I LOVE, what I don't, what I enjoy with friends and what I don't need at home alone. 

For me, this is 'flexible eating' There is a more technical term for flexible eating, which I will do a post on, but to keep it simple. This for me is how I started my journey.

To a healthier body and a healthier mindset. 

The rules (that are made to be broken)

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Having a balanced diet (and when I say diet, I just mean, what you eat) came harder than I expected. Balance to me was not eating all day and then stuffing my face with cheese and burgers and chocolate and cake and crisps and... then, having some Special K the next day and detoxing by eating hummus and pita. Whenever I wanted to lose weight (which was always) I would eat about 1200 calories daily, and never really notice a difference. I have flucturated by about a stone over the last ten years. I go up I go down. Every six months. I never had consistency and my metabolic rate had no clue what to do with itself. 

And then, I started working in a gym. 'What? Porridge isn't an ideal breakfast every day when I am being healthy?' 'Whaaaaaaaat? Cardio isn't the bee all and end all?' 'Shut the front door! I can eat butter and not get fat?'

I will delve into exactly what I eat and how I train in other posts, but the first, the most useful thing anyone told me were these simple rules. 

1. Drink a shit load of water. Three litres at least. (This is the hardest thing for me)

2. Cut out fizzy drinks.

3. Eat 5-8 small meals a day every few hours. 

4. Eat a palmful of protein with every meal.

5. Do not cut any food groups out. Eat carbs? YES! 

6. Avoid the processed ones like cake, pasta, bread. 

7. If you do eat the more processed carbs (earn them) and eat them right before or after a work out. 

8. Eat healthy fats. (avocado, coconut oil, nuts)

9. Treat yourself. 80%/20% is the biggest rule I follow. 

10. Be nice to you body. Nourish it. Care for it. Eat well, balanced, not to be skinny but because you deserve to treat it well.