Bikini comp prep: The begining

As I write I can't quite believe that I have competed in my first ever bikini comp. Even more than that, I can't believe five months from the day I said I was going to, has been, gone and flown by and I have squatted and donkey kicked and rowed my way to the depths of my 'fitness soul' (side note: A different soul to my normal one) 5 whole months of spot on macros, more egg whites than a meringue factory would know what to do with, more tuna than I feel ethically acceptable and more body selfies than you would find on Kim K's phone (well maybe not) Never in a million years did I think that the 5 months would come and go, that I would survive prosper and live to tell the tale. 

Prepping for a bikini comp was always going to be somewhat of a challenge for me. Not in terms of logistics. I work in a gym so that made training, practically, easier. But in terms of what that meant to me, who I was becoming, what my friends and family thought about it, whether my boyfriend could get his head around it. Would I be ready? Could I push myself that hard? Would I push myself that hard? What if I tried and failed? Would I avoid tryin hard in case I failed? Would I push myself to the limit? Did I need to? Should I? Could I? Will I remain sane, healthy, alert, spiritually open and self aware? Could I do this and somehow hold onto the remnants of real life? Would I survive the mind fuck, the challenge, the prep brain, peak week, all the stuff that everyone talks about so horrendously, that you wonder why on earth anyone in their right mind would attempt such a feet?

You hear people talk, people who have done this before you and they speak of losing themselves, their soul, having comp angst, body dysmorphia, chasing a goal that's not sustainable, getting post show blues, feeling lost when its all done. You hear how they don't go out whilst prepping and they only eat chicken and broccoli and how they do cardio for hours a day, 7 days a week and they drop their calories to 1200 and they kill themselves trying to get lean and when it's over they binge and indulge like the world may end and kill their progress trying to eat all the foods that were so restricted before.

I heard it and I thought... hell no! I read it and I thought, "I am not going to do it this way, not if it means loosing my soul, my self, my "ME"I want to tell the tale with a smile and a memory that would not make me shudder at the mere thought.

So... did I succeed in this fundamental goal? I am 1 full week post comp. Currently, I still have my soul in check. I'm 1 week post comp to the day and the last weeks thoughts have varied, between wanting to do another comp asap, wondering if my body can progress in other ways, shamefully wishing that I could stay comp lean and having a niggling thought that maybe I could, if I was really good, perhaps. Then you find your 31 year old, healthy brain and remember that that body was temporary, as it should be. That comp body, despite it being the body you longed for, for most of your teens, all of your 20s, its a body that is not sustainable all year round. The realisation of this was gradual. I had had time to think about that and come to terms with the fact that the body you thought you could get from a quick cabbage soup diet fix and a few body pump classes, is not a body that is attainable doing the above. Not in the short term, nor for the long term. The ( I will dare say it) painful realisation that those IG bodies are not realistic images of a body that is like that day in day out. Do not get me wrong, some people are born having those bodies. The long, lean, lithe bodies you see in Australian Bikini posts in your IG stream. Some people are paid to have those bodies all year round and some people, pose and find lighting and the correct setting to make them look like they have those bodies all year round. And then... some bodies, like my own, (if I want to live a varied, spontaneous life) will sit with at least 3 or 4% more body fat than comp body. That is a fact. I cannot live in a calorific deficit ALL the time. I don't want to. I want to eat pizza sometimes, and go to a cocktail bar on occasion. I want to have avocado on toast daily and not have to plan my days around 3 hrs in the gym. So I have come to terms with the fact that, no, bikini body bodies are NOT and should not be (for the life I want to live) the 'end goal or a goal in which I can maintain day in day out.

Throughout prep thoughts vary...


"Ooo I can see my abs, I'm hungry, do I have time to do fasted cardio. Shit am I gonna be ready? Will I feel comfy on stage? I like my body now, I don't want to get leaner, do I? Tighter? Firmer? Bloody hell, I need to pose, my friends don't get this... but my boyfriend finally does. How did I become someone who actually likes the gym.. ooo I'm hungry, not gonna do fasted cardio today. Go get a bagel. Eat a goddam bagel"

Competition prep means your brain is in "constant" mode. like you have a constant download circle spinning around and around on your forehead. Your body is of course exhausted. The mind and body like to work against each other pushing and pulling and fighting. Its mentally exhausting. Your brain wants to do one. More. Exercise... and your body is saying "hell no" Your brain wants to do ALL the exercises for butt ALL the time and your body is saying "dont you even dare" Your brain is saying... bikini, posing, lunch, carbs, more carbs, less carbs, refeed, not to refeed, is this pose right, oats, coyo... ooo I want coyo, need protein, shit I forgot to order more protein, coffee, black americano please... and your body is saying...

"Mass...age, frapp...u...cino... egg yolk... please"

And people don't understand. They worry you are getting too muscly or that you might get too skinny. They ask if you are losing yourself in it all, they tell you that perhaps you are fighting a loosing battle, they wonder if it's worth it, what's the point? Why bother? They question if you are obsessed, crazy, boring, now that your priorities are different. Now that you have found something that requires more brain power than even you knew you had. People find, because you step on stage in a bikini rather than get grazed knees and covered in mud doing weird obstacles for 26miles, that it's less 'meaningful' Less of a challenge, less important. People lose themselves training for tough mudder/the marathon. They become focused, they train long hours, they avoid eating things that may impact on their training, results, outcome. Yet they don't put on stripper looking heels and get judged half naked and I understand why therefore its far easier to look down on a bikini competition. I judged it before. I scrutinised over my decision to do one, I questioned why I wanted to, I wondered... "Am I really this person? Do I want to be?"

But truly, to do this, to take part... its one of the most mind, soul and body challenges I have ever dove myself into. To me, I now see it as a sport. I feel like an athlete. I like to do things that challenge me. I haven't always. I'm a lazy person at heart. I wanted it all for minimum effort, until you wake up, late twenties, broke, out of shape, unhappy and you think, the common denominator has to be me. It's not the universe, its me. I wasn't helping myself out. I wasn't doing. I was just waiting. All be it for what I thought was my dream job (acting) and my dream body (anyones but my own) and I was waiting for it to happen to me. And with minimal effort. So I started to dig deep, and find what I loved. In all areas of my life. And asked myself this...

Before I do this, will this raise my level of consciousness, or take away from it?

And it literally made me feel like Ginger Spice again. What a bloody awesome question to ask. For me, this was one of those moments. Will a bikini comp raise my level of consciousness? And of course, It might have all the negative side effects that come with a competition. Comparison, self deprecation, ego... but if I stayed aware, alert and grounded, to the earth, to myself... couldn't I do this and take all the positives from it? Couldn't I do it, pat myself on the back and whether I placed or not, find myself with my consciousness in tact and better yet, raised?

This process so far has made me so much more self aware. So much more in touch with who I am, what issues still remain. I have learnt to want to be strong, not skinny, I have finally stopped needing a thigh gap. I find myself wanting more muscle not less meat on me. I have realised my fear of being successful has always held me back. My fear of winning was far greater than my fear of loosing. I have realised what I am good at, what makes me feel good, I am aware of my demons that creep over me and tell me that I am not good enough, I have accepted that actually, I am, whether I win or loose. There is no validation from 7 judges that can tell me whether I worked hard enough, am in shape enough, when I know I tried, enough. And did enough. Because I felt like I owned it on stage, I felt like I won already.

So did the competition raise my consciousness? Hell to the yizzle. Am I loosing myself in it all. No way, I found more of myself. Am I aware that that was a competition and real life will resume. Of course. Am I prepped and armoured ready for the roller coaster of emotions that are yet to happen, post comp? As ready as I'll ever be.

People may not get it. They, thankfully, do not have to. I have never felt more alive and more happy than I have done in the last five months. Not because I got skinny. But because setting goals and nailing them is liberating. My mum asked me just now, your happy now right? You don't need to do anything but maintain where you are. And I explained that I still want to progress. I still want to make some goals and smash them. I still want to see progress with my body in the same way I want to in my career, my relationships, my mind set. Just because I love my job and I am happy doing what I am doing, that doesn't mean I don't want to own my own studio one day, or that I don't want to write a book or develop a fitness programme that women can use to help them feel good in their skin. anting to progress does not mean that you are unhappy with what you have now. I like my body now, but I am up for the challenge to see what else I can do with it. How else I can develop my body composition, my shape.

So as I go to drink my dragon fruit smoothie by the pool in Bali, and I reflect back to this time last sunday when I was about to go on stage, in my stripper shoes and homemade bikini, all I can say is if you want to do something, if you are thinking about doing it, if you have goals you want to achieve, if you are scared, if your fears want to swallow you up and spit you back out in a mahoosive flem ball...FAAAAK IT... Just go DO IT. 

And if someone questions why... just turn around and say "Because I can..."   

My name is Fanni, and I am a bingeoholic: How to get past your binge addictions

Last week at my friends wedding was one of those tests in this process of #bikinicompprep On a mental level that only someone who has struggled with binging may truly understand. For me it used to be one of my downfalls. I could eat healthy, I could not eat alot, I could go work out, I could stop drinking for a few months... but someone ask me to go to an event where food was being offered freely and I could not for the life of me NOT #binge I binged on foods I would buy, let alone free for all buffets. I had grand plans of going to the wedding and not having dessert. Or not touching one drink. #bikiniprep is a serious notion for me and one I want to get right. But I still want to live a little. And theres the crux of the matter. The idea that eating and drinking is 'living' Im not saying its not, im just saying that I have an attachment to that side of things that has enabled me to make alot of unhealthy choices along my journey. Food and drink equals fun. And more often than not, my own fear of being boring meant I would eat and drink (in excess) So attending something where you are dealing with a few deep set issues... the fear of being boring, the fear of missing out, the fear of messing up comp prep... its a headache and soul ache that I wish was fully gone but also I want to share that its still in there somewhere, that food for me isnt as easy as (eat it/dont eat it/make the right choice/or dont) The journey is longer, harder, deeper than being black and white.

Someone messaged me asking, how do I deal with binges... and this is how I do. I clock the urge, I fight it or sometimes I don't, I ask myself my thoughts, I become aware of them, I speak on it, I share it and I (try with all my might) to let it go.

Eating what you want is a joy. Eating alot of what you want is even more joyous. Not being able to control yourself and getting the feelings on anxiety when faced with lots of food. Is quite frankly. Shit.

The aim with my fitness journey has always been... eat well, controlled and just act like any other normal human being.

Unless the journey consists of comp prep. Im not going to be deprived of food for long. I have 7 weeks until I can strut my stuff on stage, and then go enjoy the delights of Bali cusine. It seems simple enough. In the lead up, or in general, to have some self control.The wedding meant I had to face a lot of demons. And I think I survived, unscathed more or less. Honestly.  I made good food choices. I had(lots of salmon n veg) I had a small portion of plaintain, took ssome veg lasana and then left it. (I just need to feel like I had the option) and I was sorted.

Then out came the deserts. And I knew right then and there that I was going to have one. I did the story... "its one dessert, you have 8 weeks till comp, one dessert wont hurt... yolo!"

And all those things I told myself are inevitably true. I would fit my weekly macros around it. I would not screw up my progress with one cheesecake. Would I step onto the stage and think 'I wonder what my results had been like if id not had the cheesecake?' Maybe, maybe not. But the point was, I wanted to do this competition with all this in mind. How much of my real life could I let seep in and still gain progress and results good enough for the stage.

When the binge is on the horizon, when your palms get sweaty and your heart beats faster, the question isn't "how do I stop binging?" its asking yourself why. I havent binged in a long time. I used to every weekend wihout fail. And often for months at a time. I can thankfully say I can count on my hand the amount I have binged in the last yr or two.

Binging isnt just eating loads. Its a mad panic of adrenilin rush, fear, panic, loss of control. Binging is not "opps I ate a bag of crisps' or 'dam it I ate an extra samosa' Binging is a mental struggle of crazy, unthought out, mixed bag of emotions that lay out in a weird head game mess of struggle.

The 1st thing that goes through my head is the fear of missing out. The fear of missing out on my taste buds tingling. The fear someone will get tingly tastebuds and I wont. The fear that I'll never have tingly taste buds again. The fear that I will regret not having the tingly taste buds. The fear that I will hate myself for turning down all the foods. And the truth is, I dont need all the foods, but the fear pulls me to a place of illogical thoughts (or no thoughts at all) and therefore I just go cazy and eat ALL the foods instead of some. Then there is the fear that, the food will run out, get cold, or worse, get eaten by someone else. Someone who won't appreciate it as much as you would...

Then there is the thought that lifes too short to not eat all the foods. That if I don't eat all the foods I will be a boring bore who doesnt eat all the foods. And noone wants to be that person. People who eat the foods and do not care, are fun, interesting people. People who laugh and get laughed with. People who care more about joy and peace and love. Not how much cake they ate. Other people eat all the cake, so you wanna eat all the cake too.

This right here is why DIETS are no good. DIETS DO NOT WORK FOR ME on the mental scale. This is why my journey has consisted of this ethos... minimalise binging, eat a balanced, treat yo self, nourish your body,nourish your soul, kind of vibe. And it works for me. Its slower, but it works.

BUT... when your prepping for a comp. The idea of this rainbow and fairy fart lifestyle of 'balance' is less a reality and more something of a distant dream you wake up from and sort of half remember. But, I discovered an amazing bikini comp prep girl called Cory_fit and she has the same ethos I do and it has encouraged me to decide to continue my prep in the same flexible dieting manor. That was the whole point of this prep.

Binging for me is/was like an alcohol or drug addiction. You get the urge, the rush, the serious high of stuffing your face and then you are left in the aftermath of guilt and disorientation. You cant quite remember what happened or why you did it, but you did it anyways and now you feel like a hideous, gross peace of crap. Will power to diet is one thing, will power to not go to your deepest place of excessiveness, is another.

I binge to self sabotage, to rebel, to fit in, to live life... but the reality is, when I went to take my 5th sweet potato pakora and I was eyeing up my 2nd cupcake... no one else was hunkered down by the buffet table waiting with baited breath keeping guard of all the battered deep fried goodies in case someone came by and devoured it all. No one else was anxious all the pakoras would go and you would be left with none, no one else couldn't hold a conversation because they were battling the 'should I shant I' of going all out with the mental preparation of pulling my plate high to my face and sitting in a corner alone inhaling the onion rings.I wanted to fit in, to not miss out. To live the life I've only been given one of (in this bod) and yet, my thoughts were not enhancing any of the above. I wouldn't be fitting in with anyone, I wouldn't miss out, because there will be other onion rings and the one life I have been given (in this body) will not be a better life if I stuff this body with onion dipped in batter and oil.

You have to believe the notion that you can eat reeces cups again. That opting to buy the steak and salad over the pork belly and calamari to start is not saying you will never eat the pork belly again. Sharing a dessert rather than having 3 to yourself is not you NOT living life. It is you making a healthier choice for your body. Going out and having 3 G and Ts over 8 cocktails is not you being boring. Finding comfort in healthier alternatives does not mean that you will never buy a bag of crisps again. Believe that there will always be more food, more cookies, more ice cream. If you need to stop eating some of those foods for a short while to build a habit and take away a routine, do it, it will benefit your decisions in the long run. But don't feel deprived as if that will always be how it is, because it doesn't have to be. Once your triggers are found and put to bed with some realistic thinking, once you have got through some hurdles (choosing the beetroot salad to start instead of the goats cheese and caramelised onion tart; once you have seen some results you can start adding those things back in more often. But chose where you want and CAN make sacrifices and decide where you cant. Pick yur fights.

At my friends wedding I was willing not to drink copious amounts of champagne and opt for cheesecake instead. Nope I wasn't perfect and maybe it will effect results, but, I needed to feel like I wasn't in a headspace where I felt deprived because come 8pm I would have scoffed more than 5 pakoras. It would have been 20 (and that's not even an exaggeration)

If on the other hand we do go all out and our mind gets lost in stories of how (we.must.eat.every.piece.of.food.that.was.ever.made... right here and now or the world will end...) and this we may do here and there sometimes. Then in the aftermath of it, do not lose sleep over it. Do not wallow in self pity or beat yourself up. Stop rethinking every bite of salted caramel profiteroles and how you wish you could take it back, erase it, get rid of it. That is a dangerous mind game to play. If damage is done, its done. But truthfully. With binges, there is a more psychological damage than physical. Yes your body may reject all the sugar and physically make your skin hurt and you may have a severe headache or feel really depressed. These physical things do happen. But... you have not ruined all of your progress. You haven't damaged all your hard work. You can dust yourself off and try again. You can make better choices the next day. You can drink lots of water, eats lots of protein. You can avoid most starchy carbs and eat clean, whole foods. You can do your usual workout, and not some crazy cardio insanity blast of hrs on the treadmill in an attempt to counteract the foods. Just keep it simple and sane. Get on with life the way it was. Don't create stories that will encourage you to eat more rubbish because well... "you've messed it all up now." You haven't. You are human.

Binging happens to the best of us. But dont let it get the better of you. Trust me, I know from experience... a whole bag of onion ring crisps and a tub of humous, followed by cheese crackers and chutney after a big mac and an apple pie. Then later perhaps some cheese on toast and then a tub, to myself, of hagen daz. And if I was still peckish perhaps a bowl of crunchy nuts washed down with fanta or lucazade... followed by a pizza cos, "faaaak it, might as well" Trust me. I have been there to the depths of my bingey soul. And I have come out the other side.

So... my advice is this...

Dont diet or deprive yourself
Pick your fights
Have 'some' of all the foods
Find your triggers

Be kind to yourself
Move on

And if in all of this ramble any of this rings any bells. Truly trust that you have not failed just because you lost a battle of will power. You are trying. Daily. And that there is suceeding in itself.

Xxx

My fitness Journey part 3: The nitty gritty

Ok so I blabbered on in part 1 on how I got to start my journey... And then in part 2 I broke it down. What I did at each part of my journey. How I changed things up, when I plateua'd, when I saw the most changes, how I manage each phase and what phase was coming next.

Part 3 is more of a how to where I will cover a simple guide of what macros are, working out your macros, eating for your goals, calorie cycling, carb cycling, flexible eating, why you NEED to build muscle, why loosing 'weight' isn't important and how to get out of a funk with your progress. OK... so there may need to be a part 4 lol... but we shall start here as for me, this fundamentally changed how I saw eating, upping my calories and loosing the fear of giving up on 'diets'

Your BMR (calories are not evil)

Your metabolic rate determines how much energy your body uses daily. How much you need to function at a basic level (wake up and breathe) standard is your focus. For me, roughly, just to stay healthy and alive, and awake, I need about 1350 calories. That means my body will use up 1350 calories without me doing anything, just to survive. It gets this energy from food. If I werent to eat anything, it would use energy stored in my body. (Fat, glucose stores and MUSCLE)

My BMR (basic metabolic rate) being around 1350 is our starting point.

To calculate your BMR there are plenty of websites, but iifym.com is the one I like to use for this stuff.

You then have to take into consideration your activity level. As just getting up to poo, or walk the dog, or go on a crazy shopping spree, will need and take up energy. Dependent on the activity, you then would need to add this onto your BMR if you want to maintain your weight. 
If it fits your macros.com will help you figure this out, as well as other calculations that I explain below. My BMR plus activity brings me up to a good ol 2100 calories that I can eat, with activity, and maintain my weight.

But...  'I eat 1200 calories and I'm still holding fat or out of shape' or "I cant eat more than 1500 cals without gaining weight."  I hear you cry...There are a lot of factors why clients come to me and say this. I have been victim to it too. Its not lies or a misunderstanding, it was a fact. I couldn't eat more than 1200 cals without gaining weight at the time.

Your BRM is relevant to the amount of muscle you have. (as well as gender/age excess metabolic damage) If you have a lot of muscle your body needs to work hard to keep it, as it uses up a lot of energy. So you know those horrific boys who can eat a dozen donuts and pizza all just for breakfast (yup I hate them too) that will be because they have a lean body mass (your body weight/volume without fat) and the body is chugging away burning calories at super speed. As girls, as a general rule, we have less muscle so our BMR is usually less. We need to eat less to maintain and boys can eat more to maintain. This sucks!

A reason we may not have a good amount of muscle/BMR can be from factors like genetics, lack of activity or exercise/gender or messing about with faddy low calorie diets.

The body loves balance. It wants balance. So any time we want to lose weight or gain muscle, it will do its best to fight for a sustainable level and balance itself out. Hence a plateau. It will get used to your activity level or the amount you eat and it will find a way to keep you from putting extra stress on it. Too much activity, too little food, can mean it can go into a survival type mode and keep you stagnated, just so that it can... well, survive. Your body will adapt, so dieting, or bulking for long periods of time, in my opinion, are not good ideas if you want to see constant progression.

Low calorie/dieting

People think a strict diet is the way to go... where they cut out a lot of foods, often all foods. Out come the juice cleanses and the detox diets and whilst these aren't completely bad as an add on in to your diet rather than a substitute, if we reduce calories to do these faddy diets that is not going to help us in the long run. Some people (I have been this person) go down the route of eating the same fatty, sugary foods but less of them. 1000 calories of Mcoys steak crisps and Boost chocolate bars are OK right because that's low cal. The idea that if we eat less we lose weight...

And weight we do lose... but just fat... we do not! Eating less, but not the correct nutrients, will mean your body will not function at it's best.

Why eating is awesome

If you eat under what your body wants/needs in terms of calories to just go about your day to day business, let alone your sweaty workouts, your body can go into a sort of starvation mode.

Most of us need between 1500 to 2000 cals at least for the body to function at a normal healthy rate. If it has less than that it will likely not get the nutrients it needs.

As I said above, when your body is in this mode, it needs more energy, from somewhere and if its not food... the fastest way to get energy is from FAT. So those lil muffin tops or extra pounds that we don't like on our thighs or bums or waists or moobs... the body will keep, to use for energy.

The metabolism also will not want anything that uses a lot of energy... like MUSCLE, so it will rid of the muscle as much as possible because it needs the energy to just get out of bed in the morning, let alone build/maintain/synthesize muscle. See why muscle is important below.

When you are restricting calories, your mind catches up with your body. It gets tired of not eating much, of skipping meals. It will either binge daily (like an out of body experience where there is no way you will not be able to eat that whole pack of biscuits your mate left out) your too tired to fight the urge. Or you'll say 'eff it, diets are crap, I'm gonna eat cake all day everyday' and for a few months until you feel crappy again and decide to diet, again, we resume to pastries for breakfast and burgers for dinner...(for a lot of people that is the norm, It was for me for a long time)

But in doing this you are loosing muscle and storing fat in this process and we have slowed down our metabolism. If we have less muscle mass on our bodies now, we no longer need to work as hard to survive. The metabolic rate can chug away at a slower rate because it doesn't need to do much with less muscle. We need less calories than we did before...

What then happens is the body stores more fat as it suddenly has eaten more calories than it needs to use (unused calories turn into fat)

So if you do happen to lose weight by not eating much (which is possible) your slightly screwed. You will keep having to under eat to stay smaller. And when I say smaller I mean not toned, wobbly skinny fat, smaller. Where you might be teeny but you wont be tight. And you will go on holiday or go to a wedding or go to your nans house for the day where she will feed you up and you will gain weight so easy that you won't fit into your teeny jeans that fit you the day before.

The reason we talk about eating clean is because you get more bang for your buck as they say. Eating 1650 of whole nutritious clean food means that actually you can eat quite a lot. Eating 1650 of crap food means you cant even eat one pizza or one tub of hagen daaz without going over... I know, life is unfair. But, see how much food you can eat when eating healthier foods on my Instagram freefannifitness.

So the answer is to eat... whole clean nutritious food. Don't cut everything out. Don't reduce your intake. Binge on fruit and chicken and veg (whole foods). Treat yourself to a pizza express here and there. Just do not reduce your calories for long periods of time, skip meals and let your body hold onto fat that you don't want and eat away at muscle that you do want.

Building muscle/the myth about getting bulky

Please please please trust me when I say... diets (ie under eating) don't work. It will not get you the body you want (in the long term) low calories will make you either keep fat or gain fat at some point and at the same time lose muscle (toned tight firm plum pert perky) muscle.

Building muscle is more important than fat loss in my opinion. If you're in it for the long haul, the home run, a lifetime and lifestyle change. Building muscle will be your no 1 savior. Why? Because put simply your body needs to work harder to maintain muscle (more so than fat) and when your body is working harder it is using more energy. See above...

Its not all that easy to build it, especially when you are trying to drop fat/loose weight etc. Most of us girls are trying to be in a calorie deficit so that we can continuously loose weight. That's pants, but its true. A lot of us are scared of calories in fear of putting on weight. I also hear girls talk of how they want to be toned. Yet they say they don't want to build muscle. And the shock horror matter of it all is, to be toned you NEED to (have muscle)

But firstly to build muscle (size), you need a surplus of calories. That means more calories than you maintain at. If you want curves (hips/bum) and you have a low fat percentage, you gotta eat more. Men If you want guns and nice pecs, then u need to eat more. Muscles will NOT grow in size if you are eating too little. And on that subject. If you are worried about you calves/quads/biceps getting too big ladies... no need to panic. They will not get too big as you do not have as much testosterone in your body, enough calories that your eating, definitely not enough protein and I'm sure no steroids in you that would make this happen.

Yes, might start looking smoother/perkier/firmer, even, if you are on a diet (less than maintenance calories) and you are working out. And a lot of girls this is what you are after (so if you are telling me your calves or quads are getting bigger and you dont want them to, and you eating under your calorie maintenance (which most of you are), its just not happening. It cannot. They may lok more defined, but that is because you are dropping fat percentage. (All over fat)

You may look smoother/perkier/firmer (or perhaps 'seem' bigger in areas like my arm above) because you are dropping fat, therefore the muscles you have underneath the fat begin to show, and muscle looks firm, toned more solid. We can condition muscle. The density, how much water and blood is pumped into it and yes if you have a high fat percentage we do want to tackle the fat before 'building' muscle as such. But we also want to be building stregnth in the muscle. The condition of it. We want to be able to, when fat percentage is going down, make sure that you are strong enough to put enough resistence on the muscle in order to build it (tone it) we want the muscles you do have in the best condition with the most strength possible.

Now... to grow your muscles/and essentially be toned... you want a lot of resistence. (Weights) I suggest mixing up sets and rep ranges so your muscles are kept guessing. The main aim is that you really put ur muscles under tension. Tear those muscles so that they repair and as they get put under alot of force and fed alot of fuel, the muscle will grow and/or condition. I got asked the question the other day... but what about those girls that look toned but they are still skinny? Not bulky. That is because they have some muscle and very low fat percentage.

I don't want to bulk. I want my muscles to be defined and shaped long and lean

Here's the thing. You cant 'shape/tone/define your muscles. Not by doing different exercises, eating certain foods, getting special treatments. The shape of your muscles are the shape of your muscles. They are either covered with 30% fat (a bulkier look) or covered in 10% fat (a leaner look) or you either have 40 kilos of muscle or you have 45kilos of muscle. The tone of muscle is just that. Muscle. If you want to be toned girls, you want muscle. If you want to look lean, firm, smooth, you want low body fat and to have built up muscle. Be it 2 kilo or 7 kilo of muscle. For your muscle to looked defined, you just need a lower body fat percentage and maintain your muscle condition. Girls you cannot get bulky (just to reiterate) unless you are taking steroids/testosterone or eating a lot more than you maintain weight at.

If you feel that you have enough muscle and want to just lose fat... you still don't want to just do cardio or hiit. You still want to do weight resistance. Why? Because you need to maintain muscle (tone) and if you just do cardio and do not eat enough, your body will eat away at your muscle and you will be left with skinny fat vibes. see above.

What are macros?

Macros are macro nutrients. These are known as big nutrient food groups we need to survive. Fats, carbs and proteins. The body uses all of these sources pf nutrients to be healthy, fit and functional. With too much of one and or too little of another, the body will not function to its full potential. This might mean that your teeth arent too strong, or your hair is brittle, your joints are not as flexible or, that you are holding too much fat or not sustaining enough muscle.

Foods high in proteins-Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, salmon, prawns, scallops,  mackerel, cod, seabass, greek yogurt, quorn, tofu, soy beas, peas, brocoli, lentils, beans, quinoa, buckwheat. 

Foods high in good fats-Nuts, coconut, coconut oil, nut butters, salmon, avocado.

Foods high in carbs-Grains such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat, spelt, pearl barley, wholemeal pasta, sweet potatoes, lentils, veg, fruit. Bread and pasta and white potatoes too but they are not good quality low GI carbs that we ideally want to eat.

Flexible eating

I started flexible eating about two years ago. Id been advised to check out iifym.com and decided this was the best way for me to not feel like I was on a diet but still watch what foods I was eating enough of etc. Flexible eating means that you don't have to cut out any foods. You can even decide to eat a pack of crisps and if it fits in your macros, your sorted. (BUT DON'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS) The only thing is that when I first started I would often not have enough protein through out my days and just watch my calories rather than my macros. I never realised back then that you need to have a constant in protein and work around that. Back then my aim for protein was 120g but I would always end up having an average of 80g. Flexible eating is a really good option if you are not good at being strict, but also know you have some will power not to just eat a MacDonalds a day and fit it into your macros. No amount of Mac Ds or macros filled with crisps and cake will give you the right macro ratio for a healthy diet.

Which brings me to percentages. I have tried a few as seen in my previous post. 
The idea is that your protein never exceeds 35% your fats never go below 15% or above 40% and your carbs are whatever is left over. I would stick to never going above 50% if you are trying to lose weight and I wouldn't go below 25% for sanity. A lot of people do high fat low carbs diets. Where there ratio maybe 35% protein 40% fats and 25% carbs. Often people who find it hard to lose weight in general, work better with a ratio like this rather than someone who maybe more carb tolerant and do a ratio of 35% protein 15% fat and 50% carbs. I will be honest. I've never hit either of those.Your body needs a certain amount of fat to function and be healthy hence why 15% is the lowest it should go. Protein also needs to actually be utilised. Generally the amount of protein you need is 1g per 1 pound that you weigh. But anyhing between 0.8g to 1.5 dependent on how much you train or your goals is what works best for building and maintaining muscle. Keep your protein number constant and anywhere between 25% and 35% is a good starting block. My fav ratio is 30% protein 30% fat and 40% carb but it is a little middle ground and for my comp prep I am gonna play around with the lowering my fats and keeping my carbs high and vicer verser. Ratios are a good starting point and something to consider, but in all fairness I think you are a lot better off working in grams. There are many macro calculators on the internet and they may all have different versions of how to get your numbers. I like going in iifym.com but if you want to calculate your macros as a ball park figure please see below. And remember, as I always say, figure out what works for your body. There are so many variables, what works for me may not work for you and what works for Beyonce may not work for J Lo... these numbers and way to do things are all over the internet with people and there own opinions. My way is not going to be 'the' way but there is so much conflicting info that I suggest feeling out what works for you.

Calorie cycling/carb cycling.

Macro ratio and body composition is always about building muscle and/or maintaining it. And the most important function in this is your protien in take. This is always going to be your constant. But often we are trying to build muscle and lose fat at the same time and this is really difficult. Because to build muscle you need a surplus of calories and to lose fat you need a deficit of calories. I find if you are trying to loose fat as a main goal, try calorie cycling by choosing two high calorie days, four moderate calorie days and one low calorie day. During the higher calorie days you will mainly focus on upping your carbs but you can up your fats to raise your calories too. But what is more sufficient is upping the carbs as the body utilises carbs far better than it does extra fat.

The idea is that on heavy weight training days (days where you exert a lot more energy with resistence) you will have more calories from carbs. And on days where you are resting or only doing cardio or interval training you will have lower carb days. 

During cycling phases (and there are so many variations) you will always keep the protein the same. And I suggest roughly keeping the fats the same too. 

If I total all these days up and then divide by 7 I want an average of my fat loss calories per day. My main focus is the total amount over the week. All I want to do is create a deficit in calories weekly, but at the same time I want and need to fuel my muscles so that they can sustain cardio, keep in good condition and do not get eaten away whilst I am in a deficit. My body will do its best to try and get rid of something that uses up too much energy, if it lacks it (which it will being in a deficit) so my ultimate focus is fuelling my muscles as much as possible.

Carb cycling firstly means that your body is never getting used to a particular calorie intake and has to work hard (use energy) to always keep up with you and not adapt. And also, you are eating more calories on your training days so that you have more fuel/energy and nutrients to be used to build/maintain muscle. I also find carb cycling good when my calories get lower because some days I get to indulge a little more and the other days (the lower cal days) are easier to get through knowing that I have higher cal days around the corner.

If you google carb cycling A LOT of info and formulas will come up. There is a lot of research to do. For me, I currently do what is above. 

If my main focus was to build muscle I would make sure the majority of my days were above my maintenance and my moderate cal days at my maintenance with one low calorie day. 

Maintenance calories

 1200 calories and binging Vs 1800 calories and treats most days

1200 calories and binging Vs 1800 calories and treats most days

Getting to maintenance calories is important for a few reasons. If you feel that you are not seeing progress ie losing fat, yet you are eating low calories or you are a low fat percentage and don't want to loose too much weight, but you want to be a bit leaner. In general, maintenance calories for people tend to be in the (14-17) x (body weight in lbs) range. This number can be influenced by genetics, age, dieting history, and lifestyle factors, but most people will be able to hang out here comfortably. The formula isn't perfect, of course, but it’s a good ballpark estimate. 

If your calories you are eating are lower than what your maintenance number comes out as, and you feel that you are the two examples above, you need to up your calories and get to maintenance and try to stay there for as long as possible. At least 2 months in my opinion. In general, the longer you've been dieting, the longer you should be out of a caloric deficit and stay at maintenance.

Again, that doesn't mean that you have to bulk or pile on tons of fat. The ideal way to do this carefully is to reverse diet. Maybe another post soon as I may have bored you senseless with all this text...

As an example of calculating maintenance calories...Because I am very active I will do my body weight of 118 lb x 17 and I total 2006 calories. Which is roughly right from where I was sitting in my pre prep for my competition. 

Fat loss calories

Most of the time creating a 20% deficit in calories is more than enough to lose fat. 20% off of 2006 would mean to lose fat I could eat 1600 calories. Or you can use the math of your body weight in lbs x 12-14. Because I am very active I will use 118lb x 14 and I get 1650. So I know that anywhere between 1600 and 2000 are the amount of calories I will go from and to, to lose fat. Whilst I do this though I want to maintain my muscles. This is where a good balance of macros come in. 

Calculating Macros

Protein... Usually is anywhere between 0.8-1.5g per lb of weight. Stick with 1g to start with. At 118lb that would mean I would need 118g of protein. 

Then work out your fats... Usually anywhere between 0.3-0.5 per lb of weight. Again start in the middle giving me 118 x 0.4 equaling 47g. 

To work out your carbs you need to see how many calories you have used up with protein and fats. To do this take you protein in grams (118) and x by 4 (because there are 4 calories per gram of protein) 118 x 4 equals 472 calories from protein. 

Then multiply 47g by 9 (as there are 9 grams of calories per gram of fat) 47 x 9 equals 479cals. 

You then want to decide what stage you are at with your calories. I am in fat loss stage at 1800 calories. So I take my fat cals 479 and my protein cals 472 away from my total calorie intake. 1800 - 479 - 472 equals 849 calories left to have via carbs. To work out the grams divide your carb calories (849) divide by 4 (because there are 4 calories per gram of carb) and I get 212g carbs... 

Protein 118g

Fats 47g

Carbs 212g

Because I am in comp prep stage my protein is a lot higher in reality at 1.35 and therefore my carbs are lower than this. You need to figure out your carb tolerances/your activity level/and how much you love fat. If you love fats go with the higher end of 0.5. if you NEED more carbs, go with the lower fat end at 0.3. If you are doing a lot of heavy weight days then try upping your protein in take to 1.1 or 1.2 and upwards. 

I shall end this post here with some good old maths and just say this. If I have one piece of advise to take from all of the above. Stop eating really low calories and depriving yourself. It literally saved me from insanity. I hope some of this info is useful and if you have any questions post a comment or DM me of Instagram. 

Lots of love and protein.

xxx

 

 

 

 

My fitness journey part 2... macros, more calories and no cardio!

 Early 2015 vs early 2016 (1 year progress)

Early 2015 vs early 2016 (1 year progress)

So, as I was saying, my fitness journey continued... January 2015 came and went... I was slimmer, I was comfy in my skin. I had been doing a play and I was planning for a trip to spend three months in LA. To be honest, I didn't really freak out about LA and all the obnoxiously fattening food. I had been drinking and going for dinners out. I had even survived Christmas and New year. I was being mindful and I had just completed Kayla BBG for the first time for the full 12 weeks. I wasn't posting much on Instagram at the time. I was just plodding along. I felt like results were nice, but not amazing, so I planned to move onto BBG2...

But first LA. The plan had been to complete BBG 2 whilst I was there, but life, auditions and a million excuses got in the way. 

I put on ten pounds TEN POUNDS) in the 1st 3 weeks of being in LA, even whilst being mindful. I was angry at my body. Like the years progress didn't matter. Id ruined it, and felt resentful that I had a body that would react so quickly to more food/less exercise... whatever it was. I was so peed off that I couldn't just relax for more than a second as I would bloat, get thick, put on weight. I didn't know then that it was certain foods (dairy and gluten specifically) and the fact that some food in America is pumped full of hormones etc to make it last longer and what not. I also didn't account for the portion sizes being HUMUNGOUS. A starter salad is the size of a main salad (times 2) So my point is. Things regressed. By the time my boyfriend arrived for a ten day holiday I had decided to eat pancakes everyday with chicken and waffles every other day. We drove up the Big Sur and snacked and ate and snacked some more and I didn't exercise for a good 4 weeks. 

If you are on a fitness journey, if you know anything about consistent exercise and mindful eating and then a full on month in the opposite direction, you know that a lot of progress will be ruined. One missed day here, one pancake there will NOT affect you. One month and 28 plus portions of pancakes, really, unfairly, will. 

So March 2015 I arrived back from LA sun kissed and bloated. I was miserable. Mainly because I felt like I had undone so much work. I wasn't back a week when I decided to restart BBG1 and week 10 I started using IG to really hold myself accountable. 

This may seem a little boring, but when I was at the start of my journey I was really interested in how people really got the before and after pictures. So here is a breakdown of what I did.

During what I like to think of as phase 1, I trained BBG with minimal and inconsistent LIIS (steady state cardio) I was following macros roughly. I was eating clean and non processed 80% of the time. And treating myself when I felt I needed it or wanted it. My head space was in a very good place about food, but I was still scared of calories. This is where reverse dieting sort of began, without me really knowing it. I was introducing more food as time went on. Here is a breakdown of what I typically ate during phase 1. March to July.

My marcro breakdown was typically 30% carbs 25% protein 45% fats and my calories went from 1350 in April, 1450 in May, 1500 in July. 

Typical day in phase 1 (March-July)

Greek yogurt and fruit with seeds and oats or eggs and veg

Quinoa and salad with chicken/fish

Salmon, sweet potatoes, phillidelphia, pesto

Ham with veggies/Cottage cheese and veggies/greek yogurt and fruit

 March-May PHASE 1

March-May PHASE 1

 May-July

May-July

I lost 3 pounds in the first month, but then my weight plateau'd for a long while doing this, but I didn't gain weight at all. Doing BBG you are reminded that weight loss shouldn't come into it. As a PT I knew weight loss wasn't the most important thing. Progress pics and measurements are the best thing to go by, but even in my pictures I didn't feel completely satisfied. I lost an inch here and there and saw slight changes in my body. I was less bloated, more toned ie) I was building muscle slowly. This was the aim. Inside I was still anxious about my weight plateuing and eating more, but I had a niggling thought inside from the personal trainers that I used to work with. Whatever I had previously done, did not work, or if it did, it hadn't lasted, so I needed to persevere. 

In July the boyf and I happened to watch a lot of documentaries on factory farming, animal slaughter and veganism. I was suffering from bloating (all of the time) and certain things would make me smell/give me hives and make me constipated. That along with ethical reasons led me to try to be vegan for 5 days. The boyf did it with me, and to celebrate the 5 days we went out for burgers lol... I know, this is backwards. After our meal we were so tired and bloated that the boyf decided he wanted to go veggie... and I decided to challange myself to one month being vegan. Which happened to turn into 4 months with one hiccup in Italy (it was Italy guys, I needed cheese) During phase 2, (my vegan phase) my calories went from 1700 in July to 1800 by the end of November.

My macros were typically 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat. I was lean during this phase. Abs still weren't showing, but I dropped an extra 4 pounds and stayed there for a good while.

On a typical vegan day I ate

A smoothie with oats, dates and non dairy milk

A buckwheat salad or brown rice pasta with piles of veggies and beans

Noodles with veggies and tofu for dinner

I snacked on nuts, fruit and one vegan protein shake a day.

 July-September PHASE 2 (Vegan phase)

July-September PHASE 2 (Vegan phase)

From July I had begun weight training alongside round 2 of BBG1. I was doing all the LIIS and HIIT training and my weeks were generally 3 days BBG, 2-3 days weights with 3 LIIS and 2-3 HIIT sessions. 

September I began BBG2. I had had 3 holidays and 3 weddings and 1 big birthday celebration by the time we got to mid October. I had beat the bloat with a month in November of eating cleaner and as December approached I was far more comfy in my skin after getting used to eating more without putting on weight. I was now in what I am calling phase 3. In this phase weight training became my focus. I also added in fish to my diet, but still avoided dairy. I was lifting heavy 3 times a week and doing BBG 3 times. I was doing LIIS about 4 times a week and HIIT twice. 

On a typical day in phase 3 Sept-Nov

My macros were 45% carbs 25% protein and 30% fat and my daily food looked something like this:

Oats and a quest bar

Pasta/fish and loads of veg or tortilla wraps with veg/quorn sausage and veg

Tofu and veg and sweet potatoes/eggs/fish and greens with sweet potato

Rice cakes with humous/soy yogurt/quest bar/fruit/protein shake

 Sept (after all the hols and weddings)-November PHASE 3 (Post hols)

Sept (after all the hols and weddings)-November PHASE 3 (Post hols)

My treats daily during all phases were always a pudding made with dark choc/raw cacaoa/dates/oats/peanut butter etc and I would generally eat out at least once a week and include dessert in my trips out. I was very mindful all week, filling in my fitness pal and making sure I was roughly within my weekly calorie allowance along with my macros being hit. I never went hungry, deprived or starved. Ever. I drank alcohol on average once a month, but I did have spurts of holidays to Ibiza and Italy etc where I drank far more than usual. 

During December I decided to challenge myself to see results, in real life, during the busiest season ever. I reduced my calories over the course of the 3-4 weeks from 1800-1300 (this is a lot but I was ill so I dropped more than I had wanted to) I dropped another three pounds and I was the leanest I had been in ages. My training programme was consistent. I removed hiit and 1 BBG2 training because I decided all the exercise was putting stress on my body and therefore probably causing me to plateau. My periods had also stopped and I wanted to ease off a little bit. I felt in a very good place with my nutrition and my mindset. Throughout these phases I had always had treats and cheats. Usually incorporating them into my macros. I was a flexible dieter and I calorie cycled. (More on how to do that in part 3) This meant that some days I had higher calories and other days I had lowers calories. I would try to stick to the same amount of protein throughout (although I was rubbish at this) and up my cals with higher carbs or fats/treats or no treats. 

In my training I would lift for strength doing 5 x 5 on all compound moves spread over the week and increase my weight weekly. I then would do all assisting exercises in a hypertrophy range of 8-12 reps.

My weeks looked like this in December.

Monday Deadlifts 5 x 5 (assisting posterior chain either 4 x 8 or 3 x 12) & LIIS

Tuesday BBG leg day & LIIS

Wednesday Chest press 5 x 5 (assisting upper body 4 x 8 or 3 x 12) 

Thursday BBG abs & LIIS

Friday Squats 5 x 5 (assisting quad 4 x 8 or 3 x 12)

Sat Rows 5 x 5 (assisting upper body 4 x 4 or 3 x 12) 

 Nov-Dec 4 week challange

Nov-Dec 4 week challange

Over xmas I continued to exercise minimum of 4 x a week. The week of xmas when I wasn't in the gym I made sure I did a few interval sprints and BBG 2 from home getting in all my resistance days that I had mapped out. I also flexible ate. So I made sure I had some low cal days (trying to reach my protein goal) knowing full well that I would have some high cal days too. Along with cheese and booze and a lamb on xmas day. Over that 2 weeks (my birthday is the 18th Dec) up to Jan 4th I managed to balance my cals at roughly going from 1300 to 1700 slowly increasing them over the xmas period. I gained three pounds but managed to keep my measurements all in tact. with some bloating battle wounds and minimal damage on the scales I felt very settled in my head that I had found a very good balance with food and diet.

I think I knew now how much my body could handle without gaining weight. 1800. I knew loosing cals down to 1300 would help me loose weight. I knew that the biggest hurdle I could face in the journey (xmas) was not going to set me all the way back to the beginning of my journey and I knew that for me, lifting heavy made all the difference. For me, I see most results when I lift. I still love BBG and still incorporate it. I find it to be such a good workout and structure that there is no way I would stop it. It fits in with my gym routine perfectly and my mindset too. 

January felt awesome, my mind and body image seemed balanced and at ease and the last few months seemed like such great learning curves that I felt I wanted a new challenge. I felt ready, mentally, for using this new knowledge about what my body liked and disliked, what it reacted to and didn't, to try something so out of my comfort zone that I may poop my pants. 

This is when I decided to try a prep for a bikini competition. See here...

Over Jan, phase 4, I have increased my cals from 1700-2100, with only 2 pound weight gain. I will do my fat percentage this week to see muscle gains and fat loss.

My macros are now 40% carbs 30% protein and 30% fat on average. My workout programme is a little more intense and I am doing no cardio, NO CARDIO whatsoever. Life is currently immensely blissful.  

My current workout schedule

Mon Deadlifts 5 x 5 plus(hammys/gluets/quads/lower back)About 10 exercises at 4 x 15 or 25 x 4 plus 20 mins handstands

Tues Kayla leg day plus 20 mins abs (3 x 15) 6 exercises

Weds Chest 5 x 5 plus (Upper body day lats focused) 10 exercises 7 x 8

Thurs Kayla abs day plus 20 mins glutes (4 x 15) 6 exercises plus 20 mins handstands

Fri Squats 5 x 5 plus (quads/abductors/glutes) 4-5 x 15 plus 20 mins handstands

Sat Row 5 x 5 plus (Upper back lats focused)3-4 x 12-15 plus 20 mins abs

Sun REST DAY

 Mini bulk Jan-Feb 2 pound heavier :) UKBFF Bikini comp PRE PREP

Mini bulk Jan-Feb 2 pound heavier :) UKBFF Bikini comp PRE PREP

 

Tomorrow I start PHASE ! BIKINI PREP after my 4 weeks pre prep. I will do a post on macros and reverse dieting in more detail if you would like me to. I just want to point out everyone's journey is so different. So unique and something I may do may not work for you. I know bananas, cashews, kidney beans and quinoa bloat me slightly. I know that I can handle carbs far more than I ever imagined. I know that dairy is something that slows my progress greatly, therefore I chose to have it sporadically (because who can live without ice cream)I know that I see results lifting heavy, but I also know that the consistency of BBG has lead me to where I am now. I literally don't think I would have seen the results without BBG, the community and my IG account holding me accountable. Not all one thing will work for all of us, but the things that will make every difference to your progress are simple. 

If you want to see results, make the unfamiliar familiar.

Be consistent, create habits, be positive, have a routine, be patient, there will be trial and error, drink lots of water, eat EAT, reset your body to get used to more food so that when you do want to lose fat, you have somewhere to go. Let go on any resistance you have to getting the body you want, let go of the expectation and just take each day as it comes. Let go of the fear of failing. Sleep. SLEEP. rest, stretch, foam roll, eat yummy foods for the soul, and trust your journey. You will look back and be grateful you kept going. 

Part 3 next week xxx

My fitness journey... what not to do!

So some of you girls have been asking about my fitness journey. What I do in the gym. What I eat and how I do it. And the biggest one of them all, what I do to stay motivated.

I share a lot of info on IG, if you follow me you know I love a long arse post  but incase you have only just stumbled upon my copious amount of mason jar shots I thought I'd do a little round up. And if by chance you have been forced to read this after tweet, IG post and facebook link, then hi, hey there and I'm (not really) sorry :)

My journey into fitness is quite a long one, so I will try my hardest not to bore you senseless. Growing up I was not a sporty person I tried. Netball/sychronised swimming/hockey etc mainly because I wanted to fit in with the cool kids I guess, or I enjoyed some of them. But I just wasn't very good at any of it. I was a chubby kid (see above) who didnt seem to care about my weight until I got to secondary school and from the age of 14 you can find diary extracts where all I did was long to be skinny...

 I literally find it so so hard to read this...

I literally find it so so hard to read this...

 

I couldn't fathom why I wasnt slimmer. Why hipster jeans didn't fit me like they did Sam or Natalie. I couldn't grasp why I always felt bloated or thick and on a trip to Falarki (yes Falaraki)  I didn't get why I wasn't  cute, lean and petite like the girl in the group across the pool in the black thong bikini. I felt like it was so unfair that I couldnt eat sugar on toast everyday of the summer holidays and not put on a stone in weight.

I spent a lot of time contemplating being sick, not eating or trying to starve myself on 1000 calories only to rebel and binge on beans on top of pizza.

I thank the universe daily that I never got an eating disorder as such, but I had for the longest time, a really awful relationship with food. I remember the first real diet I went on where I lost a stone. It wasn't too faddy or drastic. I just stopped drinking alcohol along with my peers who would get drunk on the common every weekend or for the under 18s disco. I stopped eating pizza and beans every lunch and sausage rolls for snacks and generally ate a controlled version of what I ate. It seemed simple, but I remember standing on the outskirts looking in at the girls on the dance floor giggling and typsy on one White Lightening and longing to be with them, falling over and embarrassing myself on cheap cider. I wished I wasn't watching, resentful because I A) wasn't naturally as slim as them or B) having fun with them. I hated that we would go back to Carolines house after a party and they would all eat mini chicago pizzas and down a pint of coke and I would want to cry that I couldnt scoff down 4 waffles and chicken dippers. (ridicuously enough this was a good thing, not to being drinking and eating that food, but you learn that later in life)

That 3 months seemed like the longest 3 months ever, but I remember the feeling I had at my 16th birthday party in my new Jane Norman backless dress. I was on top of the world. I felt like I always thought I should feel in my skin. Like my body made sense. Thats the only way I could describe it. I was 7 stone 10 and for so many years to come I would chase that number like my life depended on it.

I can tell you exactly what I did, where I was, how I felt in moments in time, just dependent on what weight I was. I cannot explain enough how sad and embarrassed I am that I wasted so much time caring so so much. I had this thought yesterday that perhaps it was all an avoidence tactic. Perhaps it was a numbing activity. If all I worried about was my body I didn't have to concern myself with real things. Like if I was a nice, kind person or not. It meant I didn't have to deal with my other negative thoughts that I wasn't very likeable, or whether I had done my homework, or my audition, or my rent to pay. Perhaps, it became my only coping mechanism to avoid real life insecurities of never feeling enough. Perhaps it was never about my body after all. 

My weight yo yo'd from then on in. Up a stone 6 months after my GCSEs due to cheese on toast everyday in the summer holidays and a new boyfriend that worked at Pizza Hut. In my imagination I was the sort of skinny girl that could eat pizza everyday and not put on weight. In my imagination, it was normal to eat cheese for breakfast lunch and dinner and lie about watching 'Bug Juice' on TV all day. 

In reality it would be years to come until I realised what was good for my body, but information wasn't as accessible then. Being healthy wasn't in fashion and I was unhappily unaware that my patterns would stick for years to come and the weight would creep back on in no time at all, where I would wallow in self pity until I would find it in me to diet again.

Id book a holiday. And go crazy insane and do 3 hrs in the gym (i worked at a leisure centre so this meant free gym and shift work) I'd diet diet diet, always trying to reach 7.10. Id get there, just about and stay there for the 1st day of my holiday and then slowly as the the days went on I would blow up like a blow fish. One holiday when I was 19 I put on 10lbs in 7 days.

That is pretty good going. I couldnt fit into my 'boy fit' baggy jeans and I wanted the world to swallow me whole.

And not in any of this yo yo rubbish did I think there was another way. There wasnt the same information out there about nutrition and exercise as there is now. I'm old. Social media wasn't a 'thing' All you used it for was to poke people and write really boring status's that you thought were funny so your 500 (pretend) friends would perhaps give you a thumbs up. Hashtags didn't exist #morningabs weren't a thing, Eat clean, Get lean, girls that lift and pictures in our undies were not the done thing. All you knew that to lose weight you went on a diet and pretty much did aerobics/yoga (the Geri Haliwell fad was in) pounded on the treadmill or if you were stupid enough, you took slimming pills. 

I was uneducated, misled and totally not clued up about what was healthy, what my body needed, and what food did once you ate it.

I despise the fact that this is the route I went down for a while. All I can say is that I was ignorant, and desperate. It's hard to explain the feeling and the need to feel comfortable in my own skin. But it was a thought I had daily. I hate to admit it, but my body was something I thought about day in day out. I would look in the mirror every time I walked past and analyse myself and tell myself all of the things I didn't like. My waist was too thick, my thighs touched, my belly was bloated, my boobs were small and saggy, my nipples were large (when I was a teenager I had the pleasure of a boy who had seen my boobs) calling me burger nipples... so you get the picture. Over all, I couldn't see my body objectively. I couldn't grasp why I wasn't petite. I was short, I was meant to be petite. To other people, who cared about me, who loved me, who knew I was more than a body, thought I was crazy. Yet they didn't even know the extent of what was going on in my head regarding how I felt/looked... I didn't even realise it wasn't normal. All I knew is that noone else cared about my body size, but I did. 

The first time I dabbled in weight training I was 21. A personal trainer at this gym I worked in part time gave me a programme as I was getting ready for another holiday with my (ex) boyfriends sister (who looks like a Victoria secrets model) and two other petite, teeny small framed girls. Panic had risen, palms had gotten sweaty and I even stupidly went to see someone about lipo suction.

Who the eff was I? And why did it matter so so much? 

My body did change, but I was taking slimming pills. My diet consisted of one or two meals max, a day and  1 hour weight training and 2 hours cardio. For the life of me I still never understood how I didn't look ill. I never looked malnourished, which was sort of my saving grace but also my downfall. Because noone realised I was treating my body with so much hate. I didn't. I got smaller yes, but I was constantly worried that I was going to have a heart attack and keel over or that I would just put on weight again if I even looked at a burger.

At 24 being the last time I took a slimming pill, I'd split up with my eight year boyfriend and spent 6 months being skinny. The heartbreak diet being one of many that I tried... including Slimming World, The Atkins diet, The low GI diet, Juice cleanses, colonic irrigation, and always roughly aiming for 1000-1200 calories max. I spent time running doing 5k 5 times a week and tried just cutting out carbs completely for a good old six months. I got slimmer, but never toned and tight and lean, never how I imagined I wanted my body to look. These fad diets worked, to a point, for a certain amount of time. And then I would either lose my will power and binge, or I would plateau for a while and give up. Because the body I was chasing was never going to come to me with the routine I was doing and the thoughts I was having. I wanted to be lean and tight and toned, and I didn't know how to obtain that. I had no muscle, my metabolic rate was running at a snails pace because the less I fed it the slower it got. Then the more I ate the more my body didn't know what to do with and would store it as excess fat. I was putting so much effort into all the wrong things and I was emotionally drained from caring so much, yet never seeming to be able to let it go or make steps to being healthy, because I wasn't trying to be healthy, I was trying to be skinny really.

And then In 2013 aged twenty eight, I started working at a private personal training gym part time. And despite it being one of the worst work environments I think I have ever worked in, I learnt a lot from this place in terms of exercise and nutrition. I spent 2013 dabbling in weight training and eating better. I was on a low carb diet most of the time still, but I was learning.

January 2014 my fitness journey finally, properly began. It took me a while to hear the people I worked with, to listen to their advise. To try what they said, to take on board their expertise. I was still trying to only eat 1200-1400 calories a day. I did change what I was eating. They taught me about protein and macros and I started to get 120g protein a day and I started weight training consistently. I spent 6 weeks doing Kayla BBG before getting angry at my lack of results, giving up and continuing with weight training.

But I was still scared of getting 'bulky' like all us girls seem to have the fear of. So I didn't want to squat heavy and I didn't want to risk eating more cals because I was adamant I was going to look like a man (THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN FACT) or get fat.

I was turning 30 the following December and I had decided that I was not going to go on a diet ever again. I decided that I was going to spend the year getting as fit and healthy as possible and I was not going to get to 30 feeling horrendous in my own skin. As 2014 carried on I refrained from binging a lot more than I ever had. I didn't want to waste another minute, another decade, whining about my body and obviously not doing the right things by it. This year, 2014, was my reset year. My habit changing year. I stopped popping into the petrol station for a chocolate bar because that was a pattern, a trigger. I haven't had a Maccy Ds since January 2014, because that was another pattern for me. Feel lazy, feel sad, feel drunk, feel hungover? Big Mac it was. I also haven't binged drank since Jan 2014 for exactly the same reasons. 2014 was a massive learning curve and I couldn't have continued my fitness journey without the immense knowledge I built up about my body, my thoughts, my triggers and what I needed for a healthy lifestyle. If someone had ever said I needed to put in all that ground work just to get an ounce of positivity about my body, I would have probably said it was too much effort and not fair. I had always wanted a quick fix. Funniest thing is. It didn't ever work long term.

If something isn't working, change it. 

And so, that is exactly what I did. I changed what I had always done, to get something I had never had. Enter 2015.

To be continued... 


Bikini competition time

So... this is where my fitness journey has led me. To a bikini contest. A freaking bikini contest. I promised Id be honest about all of feelings whilst prepping for this and that is what I shall do.

After a good year/year and a half of teaching myself how to eat properly, love my body, aim for goals not soley on (being skinny) and devising a mind set that let me find a balance... I have decided to throw caution to the wind and possibly throw all that by the waist side and go against all that I ever thought my fitness journey was about and would lead to.

Something in me decided that I needed a challenge. I needed a focus and I wanted to see what my body was capable of. After copious amounts of time watching you tube vids of Nikki Blackketter and Heidi Somers, I felt like a competition was the next step. I've been lifting weights since 2013 at least four times a week (with a mini break in LA) and with  a good time spent doing Kayla Itsines BBG. I love both and think combined they work great. I spend most of my time in a gym working as a personal trainer so it only makes sense to utilise my time and go forth and do a 16 week bikini comp prep.

I am currently in what I am calling 'pre prep' where I am eating a good ol amount of calories (2000) and pretty much not doing cardio. Currently life is bliss.

I flexible eat with calorie/carb cycling by making sure I eat the same amount of protein daily (120g) but my carbs/fats change to vary my days. I go by the 'if it fits my macros' rule but not with anything overly processed. I am having one cheat meal a week and I am not eating dairy or drinking. This is pretty much my daily routine anyways, accept towards the comp I will obviously have to alter this. But I am hoping to flexible eat somewhat through the whole prep... eeeek. The aim is to lower my cals to 1500 by peak week and up my cardio to twice a day.

I feel good about the phases but... I do have worries and concerns.

I am worried I will not get the results I want. I am worried I will not be able to stick to my macros dead on for 16+ weeks. Worried that I will go into a mental whirlwind regarding my body image, that I will not know how to prep properly, do enough research and ultimatley worried that I am not mentally strong enough and knowledgable enough to do this.

But I know that's just typical ego thoughts. Because people have done this before. Eating well is not hard, working out is not hard. Loosing a leg or fighting cancer is hard. So truthfully I am not going to make this a drama and get on and do my research. Train the best way I know how and get my head down and enjoy the journey.

I really want to document it all. So this week I will do my first you tube video looking at my 1st pre prep weeks.

Here is what I have done so far...
*Written a 4 week workout plan (I will change up exercises/order or tempo in another 4 week) (I am going to work through different reps over the 4 weeks for now)
*I have worked out my calories deficit over the 16 weeks. 
*Paid my UKBFF membership fees and printed my entry form. 
*I am researching my butt of of what has worked for other bikini competitiors and worked out what my areas of weakness are. My obliques, my fat percentage and my back. (Oh and my glutes)

 

Here Is what my routine looks like roughly Pre prep weeks 1-3... 

MONDAY: Heavy lifts Deadlifts (and assisting lifts glutes/hammys) & 20 min abs

TUESDAY: PLYO/BBG (legs) & 20 mins handstands & 20 mins LIIS

WEDNESDAY: Heavy lifts Chest (back/shoulders/bics) & 20 min cable glute work

THURSDAY: PLYO/BBG (core) & 20 mins handstands & 20 mins LIIS

FRIDAY: Heavy lift Squats (Quad focused legs) & 20 mins handstands & 20 mins LIIS

SATURDAY: Heavy lift Rows (Back/trics) & 20 mins abs & 20 mins cable Glute work 

SUNDAY: REST DAY

I am now going to get my head down, get enough sleep/water and supplements. I will take glutamine/BCAAs/B complex/vit D and probiotics.

I am in pretty alright shape already. I am healthy, I workout 6 days a week of varying degrees, I treat myself, I don't do any crazy fat burners or what not. I want to do this prep as mindfully and sanely as possible. I will keep a daily diary where I note down my thoughts and feelings and rationalise any negativity that goes on upstairs. 

I will keep you updated with any tantrums/ups/downs/good days and bad. Oh and some before and afters along the way.

   After 1 week of Pre prep. 1900cals 125g protein 215g Carbs 60g fat

After 1 week of Pre prep. 1900cals 125g protein 215g Carbs 60g fat





You're enough... even if you don't look like 2015 Kylie Jenner

Ages ago, I got into a debate (a debate? Me? No way) The debate was about body image and the medias part it had to play. And then a couple of months later their was the scandal with 'Essena O'Neill' and then there was the fact that I started personal training and got a bit fitter and also started a fitness IG... and I thought what better time to discuss the medias responsibility in body image.

The boys argument:

Back back back in the day, as cave men and women, we had a predisposition to procreate, therefore as women we have always needed to be better than our competition in order to get said baby making partner. Therefore the media are not responsible for body image issues, us women are. It is in fact human nature and instinct for women to NEED to be 'the best' To always be in competition with other women. We want to have the prettiest feathers/petals/boobs/face/arse... so that we can attract the best mating partner. 

Alright alright, get off ya high horse with ya facts and your anthropology knowledge. I can understand the science that psychologists and scientists have researched for years. Men subconsciously look for an ideal baby maker. Large hips (ability to carry a child) Large eyes (high oestrogen) Women look for a protector (large shoulders, taller than themselves)

All I am saying is that there is a simple fact that we are subliminally persuaded by a social construct that leads us to believe that what the media tells us. And that image the media puts out, is simply not a fair, well rounded, true, honest, representation of women (and men) around the world.

The industry has spent decades telling us what the ideals are, what is supposedly beautiful/perfect and not all of us will succumb, but as a generalised main stream rule, in terms of our argument, a lot of us will buy into this.

BUT I do not want to be told what is beautiful, I do not want to be given a context in which to compare myself to. I am bored of being force fed what is supposedly beautiful. I am bored of seeing what the ideal girl is like on TV or in films. I want their to be more of a true representative of real body shapes and real women. In an ideal world I want to be beautiful, because I feel empowered, real, open, honest. I want to be beautiful because 'I' think I am, not because someone else thinks I am. I also want it to be OK (with myself) if someone else does not think I am beautiful, because who cares. If I think I am dam fitty boom ting, why does it matter if anyone else thinks I am or not. Someone elses opinion will not validate my thoughts. Yet it is so so hard to drill this into my own brain. Especially where social media is concerned, because I won't lie... when I put up a picture and it gets likes, I do feel (what is the word?) it isn't validated, but is it that I feel accepted? Understood? Is it that you feel like you belong, to a group of people that have rationalised that yes, you do look pretty today, or yes, your body is in shape? Is it just that it is nice to have appreciation for the hard work you put in at the gym, or the hard work you put into your make up that day (cos really sometimes it is an effort) Is it that we feel appreciated when our red hearts rack up and I panic... how do I teach my daughter that those notifications or those follows, do not mean love and do not have any bearing on her being. That she is not less loved because she has 1000 followers when her school friend has 50k? My only answer, I think, Is to find that acceptance within myself. To know that what I put out into the social media world is a fair true representative of who I am, and that I love myself in the good, the bad and the ugly pics, and that I am a true, multi fas-cited, unique version of one of the billions of humans out there.

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT wear matching undies, I do not have long, thick hair that looks good when I wake up in the morning, I do not like beer, have an hourglass figure, big boobs, perfect 5p sized nipples and I most definitely don't just have a toned body AND get to eat pizza everyday. I DO have a pretty pert, rotund bottom, lean arms, a pretty decent sense of humour, frizzy short hair, quite decent eyebrows (when drawn on well) and small saggy boobs that I'm pretty sure will do the job they are meant to do when the time comes. I DO NOT love pink, glitter, drink spritzers, love shopping or paint my toe nails. Nor do I love football, hairy armpits or watching the news. I sometimes have abs, sometimes look good posing and the other 82 times, I look weird sticking my bum out, or sucking my belly in. I have an odd ability to take things very personally, cry at random things and then be cold hearted at others and I have a hairy belly button that I shave once a week.

 Did you look for the hairy belly button?

Did you look for the hairy belly button?

I am not in a box, just because two guys from a bar told me so.

The truth is, I want to be the best version of myself, and I want that be acceptable. I want it to be OK that sometimes I make the best of myself and sometimes I dont. I want to shave my belly hair not because it makes me a better person, but because it makes me feel, well, less Gorilla like. I want to look beautiful for me, and not because I am trying to get laid. The truth is, I spent a long time wanting to be beautiful, thin, pretty, the girl everyone likes, the one that got invited to all the parties, that made everyone laugh. I wanted to be the one that booked acting job after acting job, that could hang out with the boys and talk about fannys and boobs (yehhh boobs) I also wanted to be the girl that girls would trust and share secrets with and invite shopping (even though I didn't like it). I wanted to be the girl in dungarees that never tried too hard, but was just that freaking awesome, laid back, pretty, natural, cool chick... I wanted to be the girls in the films, the models in the posters. I wanted to be the bicycle Barbie that I so desperately wanted aged 9, that I thought, if I had her, I would literally turn into her because the advert showed me I would. That is what media had a helping hand in. Perhaps my foundations of loving who I was already were not securely cemented in me yet. But at such a young age, even though I look back and didnt care about my size or my frizzy hair, I still did want to be Bicycle Barbie... subconcious thoughts that have taken me until my thirties to work out, battle and work on. 

I object to being told what beauty is. I object to wanting to 'look' beautiful, just to peacock our way through life to attract a mate. I want to look pretty for me. Get my nails did, my hurrr did, my bum tight because if that is what I think the best version of me is, then I want to utilise my assets. But I don't want to lose sleep over it, spend thousands on it, I don't want men to think it's to entice them or women to think it's to compete with them.

The media pick up on this 'human' stuff and create a multi billion pound industry. The media thrives on the basic human trait. Our ego. And the egos biggest fear... 

We are not ENOUGH!

The industry knows the power it has to sub consciously berate me daily, to encourage the less confident voices in my head that tell me, I am not enough. 

All you want is to belong.

To fit in. To be accepted. To be understood. By something or someone. (CHEESE ALERT) And it wasnt until I was older that I realised it was me who had to accept myself.I talk about our self worth and feeling good a lot in a previous post called 'Are you beach body ready?'

I personally believe that we cannot and will not EVER be able to stop ad campaigns selling products to make us skinnier, glossier, plumper, firmer, perkier. Because we will always have 'ego' I just want to teach my daughter that her worth has nothing to do with 'looking' better, What is important is how we'feel' and that is a practise which we can teach, and learn and become familiar with. 'Feeling good' has nothing to do with how we look, but more to do with the thoughts we have about how we look. And that no butt injection, lip implants or three hundred pound hair treatment will make us 'feel' better IF we innately do not feel good enough, worthy enough, in love with ourselves'enough' already.

So whilst I concentrate on trying to subliminally insert this thought process into my clients heads, and my own for that matter (its always a working progress) The lack of empathy for the fact that 'loosing weight' or changing our thoughts about ourselves or 'feeling motivated' enough to do something, runs far deeper than just 'doing it' I walk into the super market and I see twenty magazines with women on the cover that look 'a certain way' I go on my social media and I see women that look like they were genetically modified, or I turn on my TV and see women that look like Disney princesses, in between ads for a new luxurious Hagen Daz advert and the pressure and the angst is so real that I feel I may develop a hernia. We feel 'less than' when we see people we will never compare to because they are nipped/tucked/brushed and filtered, we then numb the feelings of crappyness with all the Haagen Daz and then when I beat myself up for not being as will powered as the girls in the magazines, we buy an expensive ridiculous faddy weight loss detox product to try and look as good as the 20 girls on the 20 magazines and then, when we don't (surprise surprise, we numb the 'less than' feeling with even more Haagen Daz. (My gaaaad I want Haagen Daz)

The hideous cycle is horrendously easy to get caught up in. The You tube video I watched the other day, stated that our human minds love familiarity. We thrive off of the familiar. If it's familiar to you to feel crappy, you will keep returning to a world where you make choices to feel crappy. Put the Hagen Daz down and start making the unfamiliar, familiar. 

If you want something you have never had, you need to do something you have never done

The reason I wanted to smash a piece of poo into these boys faces, were firstly, the old fashioned mentality that we women want to solely be wanted by men, full stop, that our main necessity is to be the best, in order to be chosen to procreate with and to do this, we must look the best? The statement irked me, as if we are waiting to be picked off a shelf, as if we do not do any of the choosing, as if, funnily enough, we have not evolved into a generation of women that perhaps do not base validation on men finding us attractive or not. I could be disillusioned that we are perhaps getting past 'dressing for men' 'working out for men' and looking our best, for anyone other than ourselves. Then I had to stop and think, have we just evolved from wanting validation from men, to now wanting it off our peers or worse still, off strangers more. Enter social media.

I thank the universe everyday that I didn't grow up in the era of social media as an extra helping hand to knock me right back down. ...Truhfully, I worry that having a Fitness page, a place where I post pictures of me in underwear.... is a part of the problem. You have to ask yourself why you have it. Ask someone different and you'll get a different answer...  But I do believe you have to ask yourself why you post certain pictures and you have to be accountable and responsible for what you put out there.  I worry that subconsciously fitness pages give out a message to other girls, that, if they (get skinny/fit and post half naked pics, that perhaps finally they will then feel, accepted, appreciated, loved... enough) 

DISCLAIMER: Loosing weight, feeling like you look good in underwear, getting likes on your #transformationtuesday... will not make you feel... ENOUGH, if you feel that getting those things will validate you, make you feel whole, contribute to you feeling accepted, liked, enough... it will not!

Sometimes I feel awesome when I am in my PJs with my hair looking like I birds nest and my lips look all crusty and chapped. I still know I am loveable, likeable, and incredibly worthy and more than enough, without the juicy lips and the glossy hair (my hair will never be glossy for that matter) That's what I want a fitness IG for. So that girls can see another normal girl get fit and healthy, without it validating her worth. I want to encourage girls to feel confident in their skin, not for losing weight, but for changing their mind set in realising that they are in fact, enough (fat loss or no fat loss)already. I remember being so scared that if I started loving my body or thinking I was'enough' already, it meant I was going to stop caring bout how I looked and get fat. The irony is ridunculous...

Leading a healthier lifestyle, getting up and active, eating nutritious food, treating your body right, this will all help you feel great. But please know that there is not a quick fix to getting fit. That even if you buy into the quick fix to get skinny and it works (for a short space of time) and even if you post pics where you look good in undies and you get 500 likes, even if you start to look like those other IG fitty girls, you will not feel enough if you have already decided that you will only feel enough, once you look like those girls. 

DISCLAIMER: Even if we did spend weeks/months/years of training getting a 'beach body' we will not feel happy with it, nor will it be good ENOUGH if we haven't realised our worth before getting the body we think we want in the first place.

Hating your body hasn't worked this far, try loving it instead. 

I'm a personal trainer. I work out six days a week, I care about my body and what it looks like, I eat well and it isn't just because I want to be healthy and feel good on the inside. I also want to look good. And I have clients come to me and want to change their bodies. They want to get abs like Kayla Itsines or a thigh gap like Way of Gray, or they want a butt like Jen Setler and I relate. I want that too for gaaads sake! I want to give them what they want, point them in the right direction and help them make healthier choices to get them on their way.

DISCLAIMER: I will never be able to get you looking like these girls, because these girls do not always look like these girls. Yes Kayla does have abs of steel, and yes, Sophie Gray has a phenomenal body and Jens bum is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Yes the pics they post, the same way we all  post, show us looking good, they show our progress, and hard work. They show #morningabs or great shots of #belfies and a good hip to waist ratio, but I need you to know that we all get bloated, that sometimes we stand normally and our thighs touch together (SHOCK HORROR) Sometimes we don't have amazing lighting where our abs pop and sometimes, well, lets face it, most of the time, we are not walking around flexing.

I only reiterate this because I am vulnerable to it. I scroll through and I see girls that are 'my ideal' I see shapes and bums and waists that I would like to have. I think, maybe, it's OK to want to work hard to get 'in shape' but not to want to look like someone else, maybe we need to change WHY we want 'these particular products/looks/bodies' then perhaps, what we are chasing, won't seem as important anymore. The lean thighs, the slender arms and the abs, they will come as a bi product of loving ourselves and feeling enough and that it would be best to work on how we 'feel' before working on how we look. We also mustn't think we can get there in 8 weeks/12 weeks/6 months. Yes you will look like a better version of you in 12 weeks if you put in the effort. Fact! It is why I love BBG. Noone is promising you that you will look like anyone else, accept a fitter, stronger version of who you already are. That is something worth working towards, and the physical aspect of liking what you see will help the mental aspect of how you feel. Working hard and finding a way to sustain a healthy lifestyle is worth achieving, which is exactly why I rate and talk about BBG. Kayla has created a format and a community that is about sustainability, routine, accessibility and community. as a PT, I am in awe and inspired by such an achievement. The BBG community is special perhaps because of the honesty about how we feel in these pictures, or honesty about how we look day to day, or honesty about how hard it is to flex a bicep (it's really hard people) or just be because there is honesty that some thigh gaps are created just by standing like a duck.

Who would we be if we stopped needing validation and stopped looking for attention and who would we be if we... dressed for us, worked out... for us, felt good... enough? Who would we be if WE dictated what BEAUTIFUL meant, and that beautiful just meant, feeling enough!!!

We'd be the fucking Spice Girls...

 

 

and we might just take over the world!!!! 

How to stay healthy on holiday (sort of)

This summer has been, the most busy summer I think I have ever experienced. I am truly grateful to have had plans, been invited to weddings, gotten some sunshine, been able to take those typical Instagram shots. I mean, how would you remember how amazing it was if it wasn't for those IG shots. Between July and October I had 4 hen do's, 3 weddings, a trip to Italy, Ibiza, Scotland,  the boyfs 30th and I started a new job. To say that I am tired, is an understatement. I may or may not have had a few 'moments' along the way. I was getting 4-5hrs sleep, my brain wouldn't stop, I was training myself daily, and I may have gotten slightly overwhelmed.

In the midst of all of this I was twenty days late for my period... if your a girl... well actually... a boyfriend, a son, a husband, a brother... then you'll know that this meant carnage. I quite literally am adamant, during the lead up, that life is utterly awful. I am sure that my body is failing me, my friends don't love me, my personality is nothing short of horrendous, all my clothes are hideous, the tupaware I own is pointless and the exercise I am doing is nothing but a waste of time... during the lead up to the 'time of the month' I quite literally should be locked away and only let out when the anger flows away from me heavily and aggressively(sorry guys)

So anyone can imagine, where I was at in my head for a good ol long, dark, hectic TWENTY freaking days.

The idea of going away in the whirlwind of all of this and working out or eating healthy would have been far from my mind if someone had have asked me 3 years ago. The idea I could go on holiday and be somewhat mindful of what I ate, was unimaginable. Anything less than a Mac Donalds at the airport and lays crisps for breakfast/as a side dish/dessert... would have been ridiculous. How could I possibly go away and enjoy myself if I have to be 'healthy' the very idea of going away meant to NOT be healthy right? 

Holidays were for creamy sweet cocktails with at least 5 meals a day and white bread and olive oil by the truck load. Holidays meant the only exercise would be turning the pages to the latest best seller I got at WH Smith in the airport.

Despite mentally changing the way I see food and exercise over the last few years and feeling confident in the ability to not eat a small hippo if I saw one deep fried in bread crumbs smothered in aoili, there was still a mini freak out.

(DISCLAIMER) I want to be honest, I really want to put good content out that people want to read and can take something from.  So this was going to be a 'how to be healthy whilst going on holiday' with tips and tricks like... pack chia seeds and dates in your hand luggage. And whilst that is a helpful tip it just doesn't feel honest/real or anything I 'want' to write about passionately.

What I want to write and tell you is that I panicked. I nearly pooed myself at the thought of being on holiday and putting on the weight I had lost or loosing the muscle I had built. 
I panicked that the mere idea of being on a plane and heading somewhere far away from my routine would jolt me into an old head space. That it would somehow leave me stranded in the horrendous body image war, of feeling 'thick in my skin' chunky, plump,  square, fluffy...

I was determined to 'feel good' on this trip to Ibiza and I was so worried that, that determination, would be abolished as soon as I set foot on the tarmac and someone waved an ice-cream sundae in front of my face.

I was also shit scared that I wasn't going to be fun. How fun is a girl that packs almond milk in their 100ml fluid allowance? I mean show me a 'fun' girl that takes protein powder away with her and I will eat my hat. 

I didn't want my friends to think I was a dick. 'I' didn't want to think I was a dick... and the sheer mental state of wondering who I was and who I had become on this fitness journey was enough to send me head first to a pot of Hagen Daaz and bury myself in the gooey, doughy, sweet balls of cookie, never to surface again...

Here's how it went down. I packed protein powder, dates, quest bars, chia seeds, figs, oats... no one commented (too much) no one slagged me off (to my knowledge) I made my own breakfasts (that I enjoyed) I avoided dairy (apart from the slice of pizza I ate whilst drunk, that doesn't count because I don't remember) I didn't eat bread every morning (nor did I miss it) I worked out twice (once hung over) I avoided Mac Donalds (and didn't regret it whilst eating fruit and nuts opposite a burger sauce filled big Mac)  I 'felt' awesome in my bikini, I didn't feel out of place or over sized or bloated the whole time I was there, and I came back home, unscathed and able to get back eating my normal healthy balanced diet without the need to stay off the wagon and eat everything and anything that may have a snippet of sugar in. 

I do not have a magic answer to how I managed to pull that off without it feeling like a chore. I am not sure how I managed to beat a massive trigger for me. The only thing I can put it all down to (Other than the big realisation dairy and me are now enemies) is that consistency pays off. That those choices you make, to have over night oats rather than a croissant, or to not have 10 chocolate brownies and only have one, or to get in the gym before work when you want to stay in bed for another half hour... those daily, teeny choices that you think are a waste of time, somehow, along the way, count. They help create a pattern, a routine and lifestyle choices rather than 'quick fixes'. They all battle thought patterns that would usually go and make me reject any sort of balance whilst away. Not only consistently working out meant that a few treats and a few drinks did not regress me back to my starting point,  but that consistently speaking to myself positively and consistently making small changes to my lifestyle meant that, that continued, whilst I was away. It meant that I had beaten old patterns and got rid of past triggers that inherently used to make me make crappy decisions in the past.

My biggest trigger that used to encourage me to binge eat all the time was the thought that I was a dick for caring about my body. The fear that people would think I was boring if I cared enough to exercise whilst away... and once I was aware of that thought process, and very open and accepting of that thought process, the thought itself had no importance anymore. Resisting the thought and fighting feeling boring, only made my insecurities worse in the past, which would lead me to say 'fuxkkkk it' and eat all (allllll) the foods. Whining about these fears and moaning about how the carbs used to make me feel bloated... that is what was mind numbingly boring. 

So finally I found a place in my head where none of that mattered. Because I finally realised my thoughts were just thoughts I made up about myself to keep self sabotaging and never making progress.

The ability to realise that I could still eat yummy food, have a choice about what foods I did eat, treat myself to dinners out and feel less guilt because I chose a healthier breakfast... felt so overwhelmingly awesome that it was hard to believe I had ever had a holiday not doing that.

Fast forward to two weddings later, a trip to Scotland and the boyfs 30th birthday and I am not feeling as balanced and zen about my body as I had done post Ibiza. With progress also comes moments of impatience and snippets of discouragement.  Because not all life changing head patterns are as easy as abolishing them for good.

Patterns of guilt have crept in slowly. And whilst they have been kept at bay with belief that this fitness journey is a lifestyle and that I am not looking for any quick fixes, the feeling of bloat and letting the treats pile up, have, and do, bring back thoughts of annoyance that 'I can't always be that girl in Ibiza feeling good about all my issues' Because despite what anyone else thinks or what I can tell myself on a good day, I still have demons that can overwhelm me. The only difference is that I know they will pass. That the thoughts are just thoughts and my balance will, well, re... balance.

So now I am home, with weekends doing nothing other than brunching and house work (rock and roll) I now look forward to some routine. To home cooked food and some healthier head talk. 

So here's to my top tips that aren't really top tips at all, but an example of how life happens and funnily enough. .. you just get through it. With a helping of carrot cake... and a peppermint tea with cider vinegar (to counteract LIFE bloat)

How to (not)be obsessed with your body...

So, you've had body image issues for years. You wake up daily and wonder if by a miracle you're as skinny as you always wanted... even though perhaps, you maybe ate, the whole loaf of bread and jar of nutella that your annoying boyf had bought home last night,(does he not know you are on a diet) that it would sit there calling you to eat it, "Go on, one little bit won't hurt... one more slice isn't gonna kill you, four slices won't make a difference at all..." and before you know it your lying in bed, Nutella smeared around you mouth and you try your hardest to recoup the feeling, the taste, the enjoyment...you swish your tongue around your mouth to get a hint of a trace that it was worth every little, smooth, nutty mouthful. But it's gone. All you are left with is the faint hint of an awkward feeling, the guilt. So you do the only thing you can, you sleep. You sleep and you wake up and you feel your belly. Is it flatter? Grab your bottom, is it firmer? You cup your hands around your waist, is it teenier? You get up, check in the mirror you hesitantly open your eyes... Mehhh, well, you are either proud that the Nutella in fact did not make you the size of a house, or you're upset because the loaf of bread did make you bloat like a blow fish who had eaten a loaf of bread and a jar of Nutella. Either way you spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of the mirror, pulling your butt and thighs backwards to create a thigh gap, and then sucking in your belly so perhaps you look Victoria Secret modelesque and you think, "WHyyyy, why the eff did I eat that jar of Nutella... if i hadn't, I would sooo look like Giselle right now, dam that one Nutella jar. dam it" 

Many a morning has been spent like this, followed by daily mirror checks, (or checks in the mirror, not Newspaper article updates.) Momentarily checking your posture throughout the day. The umming the ahhing, the wondering... "if I had this sandwich for lunch, should I have the crisps? Oh but the crisps have 250 calories, so maybe I should get the fruit salad AND have the bag of crisps as that's less calories right? But wait, whats for dinner?" And you spend long periods of time mentally calculating how many calories you may have inhaled, how many you might have pooed out, burnt off whilst running for the bus and whether the chocolate brownie you were offered at work (and ate) at elevenisies will be worked off in your two hour cardio gym session and your one hour body combat class?

Many evenings you come home so proud of yourself that you worked out today and you still only ate 800 calories. You now have a whole 400 to play with and you carefully select what you can eat for dinner. You question skipping it, because how hungry are you really? Whilst your belly growls at you for food. "PLEAASEEE it screams, give me some bloody nourishing food" So you prep a healthy dinner. A small jacket potato with some ham and a little bit of cottage cheese. You could add salad, but lettuce leaves make you sick to your stomach and taste so dam plain that all you would do is smother it in Italian dressing. (low fat mind) 

You survived. Your relaxing, watching Master chef and as you see that Z list celeb pull out a baked, marzipan, and cherry cheesecake out the oven, 'after dinner treat' springs to mind. "Go on, you worked so hard in the gym, you need a balanced diet. You don't want to starve yourself. It's all about balance. You deserve a treat. You have 50 calories left anyways and truly, if you have the Mr Kipling Angel slice that was left over from your boyfs mum coming over at the weekend, what harm would it really do? You only live once. Once it's gone it's gone anyways so tomorrow will be a perfect day. My Fitness pal will be so on point, so spot on that I will literally be able to fit into my new dress without spanx this weekend..."

And you lie in bed with Nutella round your face and guilt smothered across your soul and you pray for that little miracle... that tomorrow will be different, that tomorrow won't seem so hard, that one day, you could just wake up and it not seem like such a big deal, such an issue, such a mind consuming, horrible, pointless, boring obsession that no one else seems to have or understand. Everyone else seems so perfectly happy with their bodies. Everyone else either has thigh gaps and waists like Ariel from The Little Mermaid or they don't care if they don't. Noone else seems to bloat, seems incapable of eating healthy, noone else seems to have to. Why is it so hard to go through a day without not caring at all. It's because no one else puts on an inch by looking at a digestive biscuit or a bowl of Crunchy Nut cornflakes... "OOO crunchy nuts, I could really go a bowl of crunchy nuts..." 

And years go by... 1, 2, 3... 10, 11, 12... suddenly your approaching adulthood (your twenites washed away with insignificant angst and worry) over a body that was perfectly fine, was working, was in proportion, was doing what it needed to do. A body that looked pretty decent in denim shorts although you convinced yourself it didn't. A body that made sense, and truthfully, in pictures, you think "Ay? That's not how it looked in the mirror at the time? I swear I was never that trim" and you question all the time you have wasted on the thought process, the wishing, the wanting, the trying, the planning, the questioning, the hoping... Why not me? Why can I not have the body I want? Why do I 'feel' so huge and thick? Could I, if I really stuck to something, have the body I have wanted since I was fourteen years old? What if I really tried? I hate my body, so why don't I try and change it... really, properly, truly! 

And there is a transition period...

And you spend six months, going at it. Really trying. You cut out carbs, you weigh your food, you meal prep, you go to the gym consistently, you eat more, drink more water, up your protein, start lifting weights. You take protein powder, Phsyllium husk, you cut out all treats, add super greens to your shakes, you stop going out for dinner as much because god forbid someone thinks your as obsessed with your body as you are. God forbid people think you are that person. The one that is taking care of it. And you wake up one morning and... 

Yes you see results...

but wait a second... you still hate your body. All these sacrifices, all this avoiding a glass of Prosecco and eating chicken for breakfast. All the dinners or nights out you have missed. That time when Sally bought in cake to work and you pretended you felt ill because you couldn't just turn it down or just have one slice like a normal human being. The Big Macs you have resisted, the cheese and crackers you avoided, the crunchy nut cornflakes that. you. didn't. buy...

ALL OF THESE SACRIFICES AND YOU STILL DON'T LOOK LIKE AN EFFING VICTORIA SECRET MODEL!!!

So you take a second, a few. And you reassess.

You freak out, you ask yourself who you are? After a lot of tears, a lot of tantrums, a lot of thought about what all of this is for and why it seems and feels so important. What is it you really want? Noone else cares what you look like. You know for a fact you are far more than just a body, I mean, come on your a really funny person (hahahha) you know life is more than just about going to the gym, or having a dimple free bum. You know that there is a world where you can not wake up and the first thing you think isn't "Do I feel fat today/look fat today/eat fat today" That you take the energy that you somehow slyly, slowly indiscreetly waste daily on such stupid, yet deeply important to you, thoughts, and you change it around. Because you do not want to be this girl anymore. One that pretends not to be so much that you eat cream out of a tub with a spoon. You don't want to pretend your OK with your body. You want to be OK with your body!

You have spent years hating your body, and that didn't work. Try loving it and see what happens...
 

Who knows what, or why, or when... The moment when something changes, something shifts. I can't tell you if I had an epiphany, or a simple realisation that the only way I could be free of hating my body, was to just stop...

hating my body.

The simple truth is there wasn't a special formula. It wasn't killing myself in the gym, or sacrificing yummy food. (Been there and bought the gym crop top) It wasn't found in the bottom of a crunchy nut cereal box or a Nutella jar either.It wasn't found in obsessing daily about the things I hated and couldn't stand. As cheesy as it sounds it started with one small thought...

I am going to eat a balanced diet and work out consistently, not because I hate my body, but because I like it. (man screw it... because I love it) because it has the ability to change, evolve, respond.It surely has the ability, if given what it needs, to give me back what I need. And it wasn't to look like a Victoria Secrets model. It was to FEEL like one. And who knew. Eating nourishing foods and working out for 30 minutes a day was enough to make me FEEL good. To FEEL healthy and lean and glowy. 

I realised that one healthy meal wasn't gonna make me Jessica Alba, but that I didn't want to be her either way (well... maybe a teeny bit) The shift was to just keep going, because the time is going to pass anyways. There wasn't an end game. I finally realised I wasn't going to eat well for a bit and get the body I want (except for A BIT) The shift was to eat to nourish and fuel my body because I want to 'feel' good afterwards. The shift to figure out that nothing is out of bounds, that I can eat crunchy nuts and Nutella, together if I so wish, if I consistently, the majority of the time, eat nutritious food. The shift that Nutella will nourish my soul sometimes and that carbs will not make me fat. The shift was to realise it wasn't a fear of being fat, it was a fear of always hating myself. Of always feeling horrendous. 

You feel great that you have consistently been feeling good. That your head is in a good place. That your dysfunctional relationship with food, your body image, feels on its way to healing. But out of the blue, you will still get people say disapprovingly "Your getting a bit obsessive, you've lost weight" and you panic. OMG... I am that girl... That girl that you never wanted to be. That awful one that orders spinach with her steak instead of fries. The one that gets up and goes to the gym before work. The one that drinks tons and tons of water and spends alot of time peeing. Your the girl that has one cupcake and not ten and drinks green smoothies and doesn't get wasted all the time. Your the girl that you used to judge. The one that cared more about her looks than going out and having fun... eating loads... 

Wait just a second... the funniest thing is, I was obsessed before, way more obsessed prior to finding this new balance. But the other version of obsession never seemed to offend anyone? Your suddenly one of those girls that has spinach with steak because she is having cheesecake for dessert, or the one that fits in going to the gym because it makes her feel good the rest of the day. Drinks tons of water because the body actually needs it and has one cupcake because ten, well ten would make me throw up. The smoothies, they actually taste good (with dates) The girl that used to think going out and getting so wasted that I wouldn't remember if I had made love to a fox on the way to Maccy Ds and then eaten a big mac mindlessly at 4am on a Friday night having a deep and meaningful with the homeless guy sat next to you whilst you share your fries (and you never share your food) WAS FUN, she's reassessed and decided that in fact, that just isn't that great. It just really isn't.

And in no way am I judging that girl. The sexy fox, fries sharing, convo with the homeless chatty, drunk, slurry girl. I have been her, and I may be her again. But no one realised that you were obsessed and unhappy before. No one knows that actually, you wake up free of the guilt now, free of the worry of what you will see in the mirror. You don't mind if you bloat for a day. Because you 'feel' rather good. Because you consistently look after your body yes, but also because you started to tell yourself you love it either way. People can sometimes be weirded out by the lifestyle choice to not want to binge any more or to want to get your 30 minute exercise in daily, they get confused, annoyed, thrown by it. They don't know how obsessed you once were. How unhappy you once were that you were in a never ending cycle of negative thoughts, how much it mattered before, for all the wrong reasons. And that's OK. Because your obsession you found no longer lies in how chubby you are or think you are, but in how good you feel to have found a lifestyle that benefits your mind, body and soul... It is no one else's job to tell you what makes you feel good, nor is it your job to have to justify why you don't want to down a pint of beer and eat croissants every morning. You finally feel like you have found a healthy place, that used to seem so alien. Loving your body? That's ridiculous? Perhaps the juxtaposition of wanting something that really you thought was always impossible was only impossible because you thought that loving your body made you an obnoxious, gym obsessed, vein douche bag. And the relief that actually you are still a douche bag, but one that has stopped battling all the vein demons that were there before.

OH MY GAAAD I ATE PIZZA AND BEN AND JERRYS AT THE WEEKEND...

and it tasted so dam mighty fine that my fanny tingled greatly. Job done! 



To vegan or not to vegan...

Sooo, I thought I would document a lil vegan trial on here. It will hold me accountable for the month, plus it will journey the good bits (feeling lean) the bad bits (dry lips) and the ugly bits (really smelly farts.)

Why try vegan? When I love meat. Love it as in, I dribble at the thought of a lamb shank, or ribs, or an Honest Burger. Why try being vegan when Haagen Daz is my favourite cuisine and a cheese board is my second favourite. Ohhh cheese how I am missing you so... 

Admittedly the reason I thought Id try it, was not for ethical reasons as such, but more because I was always feeling bloated. I've had a good nutritional diet for the last year and a half (bar a few binge moments) yet I still felt bloated. I also was breaking out in severe hives and I couldn't figure out what is was. Something in my diet was peeing me off. It wasn't weight I wanted to lose any more, but that extra body fat/bloat. So I started seeing people on insta doing 801010 or raw before 4 and it interested me. Everyone was saying how they felt cleansed and detoxed and lean. 

To accompany these first few thoughts, the boyf had been trying to get me to watch some food documentaries for a while. My initial response a year ago was (hell no-ignorance is bliss) I liked meat wayyyy too much and I really didn't want to be put off mi spag bol with CHEESE on top (did I mention I love cheese?) But curiosity got the better of me and I decided to watch about 4 documentaries that talked about the meat industry. What meat does to our bodies, the earth and what we do to the animals. I was not ready for what I saw. At all.

I won't say too much, but I cried for 80% of the programmes. 

Needless to say, I thought about what I was actually eating, whether I knew where it had come from, what they had done to it and if I wanted to put meat into me that had been so so badly treated. And for now, the answer is no. I have no judgement of meat eaters, gosh, I may return. I stand on the fence still. Sure of my ethics, but not sure how strong I am on them, I am yet to decide what choices I want to make. But I did want to give it a go. To see. The effects on my body, my mind and my soul. 

Would I miss it, crave it, need it, dribble over it or not even blink an eyelid... 

Right now I am 2 weeks in. I did a week previously, and then went on to eat fish and dairy for a week before deciding to try vegan  again as I immediately felt bloated. This is day 10 consecutively. Currently I am not craving anything too much, accept I wouldn't mind some cheesey eggs. The one thing I think I would miss the most if I kept this up is ice cream in general. But one step at a time. Currently no one has forced me into an ice cream parlour, where I may not be able to leave without jumping in a tub and bathing in the luxury, creamy,sweet, milky gloop. My gaaaaad. 

So far I have kept my cravings at bay with Nice cream, date and oat bars and scrambled tofu. Oh lordy. I may call my child Mildred-Augustos Bernadetta Vaughan-Smith and have her tell her friends that 'she doesn't eat cheese because Mummy says its not a nice thing to do' while she trots off to do her biology text book and eat her cashew cheese on Rye, aged 4. Throw me to the crocodiles and let them eat me slowly please.

Eeeeeek.

Tonight I am out for dinner with friends. I got through a hen weekend, so I am sure this will be OK. My only real issue so far is that I haven't been organised enough to get to hold foods and pick up some good vegan protein sources. Its in the diary for tomorrow. 

Truthfully, I know vegans don't call their children silly names and force feed them buckwheat. It's a lifestyle choice that so many people seem to benefit from. The stigma surrounding being vegan is rubbish... and I do think a worthy, ethical cause. Who knows if I am strong willed enough to refuse Camembert or a Gaucho steak ever again. All I do know is I will never force my child to eat rye bread. 

It will be a home made gluten free, oat free, dairy free, taste free loaf :)