Clean eating: the good, the bad & the ‘dirty’?

pexels-photo-988865.jpegClean eating is something which has come under fire over the last year or so in wellness circles, and has more recently drawn attention from the wider public, originally picked up by Tatler (who published a report on the ‘trend’ sweeping society schools) and also reported in this Daily Mail article on clean eating in boarding schools.

Diet culture needs tackling. Where ‘clean eating’ feeds this – it’s a problem. Individuals need to be educated and supported. Perhaps the lesson here is all viral fads are unlikely to ever be holistic (when things go viral they’re not joined by the scientific papers and research are they?!) and so are potentially always dangerous because a fad, even if it sounds saintly and perfect and #wellness, is still a fad and the lifestyle that follows from it is unlikely to be as tailored, balanced and healthy as it needs to be if it comes from a buzzword, be it ‘clean eating’ or ‘Atkins’. – B, @legallygymliving

pexels-photo-461428.jpegClean eating: what is it?

The way I and many other fitness and nutrition enthusiasts understand it is the idea that certain foods are, for want of a better word, ‘cleaner’ than others… i.e. not processed, as close as possible to their natural state… Essentially from nature. I heard phrases when I first got into clean eating like: ‘if it didn’t die or grow in the ground, avoid it’.

And what’s the harm, right? We all need to be encouraged away from eating so much processed, junk and massively added sugar-laden food don’t we?

Well… to an extent. I personally believe the ‘movement’ started with these good intentions – to encourage eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods as much as possible, to try and ‘re-set’ what people regard as go-to foods to a healthier place. For example, James Duigan’s Clean, Lean cookbooks (he founded Bodyism and coached celebs like Elle McPherson).

But increasingly there’s been a backlash against the movement as it grew – let’s talk about why.

Clean eating: the backlash

Semantically, the opposite of clean is dirty, right? So the backlash can be summarised in a nutshell like this.

People begin dividing foods into ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’. It spirals out of control. Orthorexia rises (an eating disorder where people become obsessed with only eating ‘clean’), presumably triggered by the cultural prevalence of a movement that seems healthy but encourages binary thinking about food as GOOD vs BAD. Instead of being a balanced, encouraging tagline, the term essentially seems to encourage an either/or mindset and this catches on beyond the pockets of health bloggers and fitness professionals via instagram, and grows and grows into a clean eating frenzy – so we’re basically back to demonising certain foods on a fairly wide scale, because they’re not clean, and worrying about whether we can eat stuff – is it ‘clean and lean’ or is it ‘dirty’ or ‘bad for me’. It’s like the 80s and 90s fad diets all over again, but dressed up as balance and health. pexels-photo-236147.jpeg

This is pretty much how and why the backlash happened.

And I agree it needs to be discussed – it’s dangerous, particularly for impressionable young girls, boys and even adults who glean all their nutritional information from the media – to become brainwashed and let this kind of mindset spiral out of control.

Influencers like Alice Liveing realised the movement was having unintentional negative consequences, and distanced themselves – Alice famously changed her instagram username from @cleaneatingalice to @aliveliveing partially for this reason.

A nutritionist’s take

Read the Daily Mail article for Rhiannon Lambert’s (a Harley Street nutritionist) comments on this, as I think it’s key to read what actual nutritionists are saying about these issues!

pexels-photo-296879.jpegMy two cents: clean eating, orthorexia, & foodie language words have power, but also have (& need) context!

I am not a nutritionist, so I’m not qualified, I can’t advise, this is just my personal view! I am a nutrition and fitness enthusiast and I followed the clean eating trend as it rose, and fell. I see both sides of the coin. It didn’t trigger orthorexia in me, despite being an ex-eating-disorder sufferer (of bulimia and body dysmorphia). It has clearly triggered an increase in orthorexia, or at least been problematic for ED suffers and this really needs to be addressed.

I think we need to be so careful about how we talk about food and ensure we’re not promoting things that can make it easier for eating disorders to be triggered. But remember – they are eating disorders and it’s a mental and physical health issue. Describing food as clean isn’t a single cause, and the movement was initially, I believe, well-intentioned and an attempt to educate.

It’s hard to know what language to use because there’s no getting away from the fact that some foods ARE nutritionally more beneficial than others. The problem is, a description of food can’t be taken in isolation (and neither can a meal or a snack!) We need to look at the whole picture.

Yes, labelling foods as just clean or dirty is damaging in isolation.

You can have cake, burgers, pizza, nachos etc. in MODERATION and still be healthy (and lose fat if that’s your goal).

Just like you can eat a caloric surplus of ‘clean’ foods – nuts, rice, sweet potato, chicken, broccoli and gain weight.

Ultimately, it’s about the wider culture, and your wider nutritional intake, self-image, body confidence, the whole shebang. We can’t lie to ourselves and say pizza or chocolate are as great for our bodies gram for gram as broccoli, mixed veggies, potato and lean protein! I appreciate ‘dirty’ is a loaded word but we do need to be aware of the additives in our food.

So I think it’s all about context, balance, and trying to avoid saying ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ around food as much as possible, but sometimes I do say ‘clean’ and I think providing the context is there, it’s totally OKAY. The problem is the way people are educated about their diet in general, the way certain body types are idolised or vilified, the tearing apart of celeb bodies in the media (constant comments particularly with women in the gossip mags!) and the fact it’s ASSUMED all women WANT to lose weight… to name a few!

Diet culture needs tackling. Where ‘clean eating’ feeds this – it’s a problem. Individuals need to be educated and supported. Perhaps the lesson here is all viral fads are unlikely to ever be holistic (when things go viral they’re not joined by the scientific papers and research are they?!) and so are potentially always dangerous because fad, even if it sounds saintly and perfect and #wellness, is still a fad and the lifestyle that follows from it is unlikely to be as tailored, balanced and healthy as it needs to be if it comes from a buzzword, be it ‘clean eating’ or ‘Atkins’.

Where describing foods as clean can be helpful and is done in context, I think that’s fine.

What are your thoughts around these issues? It’s such a complicated topic! Let me know in the comments.

Ooh, and I also published a post a while ago you might like to read if you’re interested in this area (see ‘An Apology’ here)  in which I dealt with how I now feel about past bits of my fitness and health ‘journey’ (cringe), where I did promote clean eating and various things that at the time I loved but now don’t feel comfortable about…

B xoxox

Are you affected by anything in this post?

If you suffer with an eating disorder, think you do, or are struggling with your relationship with food or your body, please contact your GP and a nutritionist (and ideally therapist).

Some of the organisations below may help:

Beat, an eating disorders charity. (They have a helpline too!)

NHS UK Eating Disorders Page

Rhiannon Lambert BSc, MSc, ANtr – an ED specialist nutritionist

Laura Phelan – an ED Recovery specialist

Mind, a mental health charity.

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How to Stay Motivated & fit in workouts with an Office Job

pexels-photo-905336.jpegTired of those generic ‘how to stay fit & healthy and juggle your office job’ posts which say things like ‘meal prep’ and ‘plan’ and ‘tupperware’ and ‘get off the bus or tube one stop earlier?’

I’ve seen loads of them, and although having worked in various jobs (post-graduation office jobs I’ve juggled with my fitness interest have included account management for an online start up that IPOd, marketing for a real estate (mostly) company The Crown Estate, and paralegalling at a city firm, now trainee at another city firm… blah blah blah, but basically I’ve done a mix and various hours and environments and office cultures!) I feel pretty au fait with managing my time – I am almost 27, I’ve had a while to nail this – but I’m ALWAYS keen to learn more, get new tips and see how other people do it.

However, I’m usually disappointed. Telling me to invest in Tupperware isn’t my definition of helpful.

So I figured, what can I write that contributes in a concrete way? There are some generic tips I’ve kind of dismissed above that anyone can give, and to be fair they’re always worth stating. But I think I have a few more I can add in the context of my fitness journey, so apologies in advance for the long post, but I hope some of it is vaguely helpful!

This post is long but covers:

  • Workout scheduling
  • Resisting office treat temptation
  • Finding motivation when you’re busy
  • Making time
  • Top tips to make it easier on yourself
  • Maintaining a healthy mindset

So grab a cup of tea and have a scroll!

  • Assess the time you have available

 

If you work a 9-5 or 6ish job, you have significantly larger chunks of time than those in, say, certain aspects of finance who might work beyond 10pm most nights.

This isn’t a judgement thing – however many ‘free’ hours we have in a day, it never feels enough. I get it. I’ve done 9-5s, 9-7s, 7-10+s in various contexts… and then if you have kids, god bless you I don’t know how you do juggle them with a job, so I appreciate that’s a multiplier of a million in terms of toughness and finding a slot to workout.

But ultimately, you need to be honest with yourself.

Where can you carve out the time that is REALISTIC?

If, like me, you hate mornings, you might be able to squeeze in the odd morning session (I managed to get up at 5.30am for a week to go to Kobox but I had just started my new job so didn’t have late nights at the office and after that week, I wasn’t gonna carry on doing that!) but you won’t stick to it long term.

If you can rarely leave the office before 9pm and have an hour commute home, you probably won’t be an evening exerciser either.

If you have a job where the culture dictates your desk presence during the day, or clients do, you may not be able to do a lunch session. If you have flexibility with work not picking up til the afternoon or your manager/supervisor/colleagues not minding, then maybe there’s your window.

It’s not easy. I appreciate that. But if you’re feeling screwed for all of the above reasons, then I think, personally, the solution is to do workouts for an hour on both Saturday and Sunday, and then snatch a couple more 40 minute workouts where you can during the week (even if you only manage one – that’s 3 workouts across your whole week, which I think should be a healthy minimum!) – force yourself up for one or two mornings, or snatch a lunch time here or take advantage of the one day you can leave work at 7.30pm.

I like to workout about 4 times during the average week – I’m lucky that I can usually squeeze in an evening one (my fiancé works long hours too so it’s fine to be super late home) but usually at least once a week I’ll do a morning one.

That frees me up to either fully rest at the weekend or if I’m on a roll or fancy it I can do 2 more workouts Sat and Sun taking my total to 6.

On a fabulously motivated week where I manage the time then sure, I’ll do 6 workouts a week because I love to. Some weeks I only manage 3 and if I’m particularly slammed, I drop to 2. I tend to feel I don’t have time but I MAKE THEM A PRIORITY. There is no way you can’t carve out a little time for 2 workouts if it matters to you. If it doesn’t… that’s totally okay, don’t do them! Family stresses, serious work crises, bereavements, there are so many legit reasons for the gym to be shunted off your priority list. But I assume you’re reading this to try and fit more in, so that’s why I’m hammering home the point about planning and prioritising and making time. But…

YOU DON’T NEED TO WORKOUT 6 TIMES A WEEK TO BE HEALTHY. I’d say 2 minimum, 3 ideal and any more than that do it because you love it.

My number varies according to my busy-ness, work, laziness, illness, social comittments… but I feel 2 is the absolute minimum as I have a desk job. We need to MOVE to be healthy and while a week of no workouts won’t kill, I think habits are key. Which brings us to…

  • Let’s talk about habits…

If you can have a habitual routine (workouts Mon, Weds, Fri mornings) it makes life easier as it feels less negotiable – you can just do it. This isn’t always possible but a baseline default habit can be SO HELPFUL! Deviate when essential, but if you can have a routine that you stick to automatically, it simplifies things SO MUCH. One to strive for, but also not beat yourself up about if you can’t quite manage it – some jobs are so erratic (or babies or toddlers!) that you’ll just have to seize the moment when it presents itself. Not much you can do. But if you’re 20 something, child free and only working 40 hours a week… no excuses!

Don’t drink diet drinks, fizzy drinks or juices when thirsty – always go for water, herbal tea, and only have these as a TREAT.

Don’t take sugar in tea/coffee – not because it’s ‘bad’ but because it’s added to so many things – save it for a REAL nice sweet treat – that Sunday slice of cheesecake or that Friday champagne cocktail or that flapjack on your department’s weekly bake-off day.

Make it a habit to always take the stairs, and to at the very least go for an hour’s walk at weekends (take the kids or the partner, no excuses!)

Try to at least, if you can’t do that because of work/kids/travel, form some sensible habits that lay groundwork… make it feel compulsory to workout twice a week (unless injured).

These are all pretty generic but I guess the key is re-programming your defaults to a healthier setting. Nothing is BANNED. It’s just about ENJOYING indulgence and recognising it for what it is – indulgence – rather than accidentally consuming excess sugar, empty calories, and skipping workouts because you’re in one of *those* spirals…

The BIGGEST TOP TIP I can give on habits is this one too – sounds cheesy but it’s critical. WE ALL HAVE DAYS EVEN IF WE LOOOOOVE FITNESS where after work we’re like fuck it, CBA to workout. Have a Person (I can’t say buddy, sorry) you can speak to. Mine is my fiancé. I’ll call him (best) or whatsapp if he’s too busy at work and be like I can’t be bothered. He knows me well enough to tell if I’ve trained too much or too little, if work stress would be best alleviated by a workout or a rest day, and so can encourage me to train where it’s best, or let me off the hook where relevant so if I do rest, it’s guilt free.

Because while this is about how to fit in training and healthy eating, it’s not healthy to obsess about it and push yourself too hard. Exercise releases cortisol so adds stress to the body, in addition to all its health benefits, so some days rest may be what you need. Don’t get sucked into the marketing speak of ‘go hard or go home’ ‘never miss a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday…’

Admittedly, if your partner isn’t super into fitness or wouldn’t be very good at that, then they’re not the best choice. Try a friend. Or get on instagram and join the fitness community there and find a buddy. I’m happy to do it for you (only if I don’t get too many requests!) although the only thing there is someone you know well in your daily life is best for the reasons I describe above with my fiancé.

Some communities you can join on insta are #bbg or #kaylasarmy (where I first got into the fitness community online), #GFG, #tiu / #ToneItUp, or #queenteam.

  • Planning Planning Planning & Booking classes… should I pay & schedule to force myself to go? 

 

Not always, but I’ve found this to be a fab method at times. The key is to know if it will force you to go when you’re feeling a bit bleh, which is good… or if you might have an unforeseen work crisis that prevents you going and makes you feel unfit AND rubbish AND you’ve just lost your money/credits for booking into the bargain.

These can be good for forcing early morning starts if you’re not an early riser like me – having a scheduled class like Kobox makes me feel like I have no choice but to get out of bed (even if I have to set 10 alarms to manage it!) Classes I recommend are Kobox (review here) and Run Junkie (review here).

  • Variety is the spice of life but also…

 

Your body adapts to what you do, so while variety is good to keep it interesting and jolt yourself out of plateaus, if you’re looking for set results you need to be consistent over time. (Does that make sense? Basically, there’s a time and a place for changing things up, sure… but you need to stick to something first to get the results, give your body a chance to make the adaptations). So try (for example) 12 weeks of something before you switch, if that makes sense (that’s not a set in stone number, just a suggestion of an extended period where you might be able to commit to a programme and get results)

The other thing about variety is it’s all well and good but it’s wise to know what you’re doing when you get to the gym. Don’t go and improvise – if I ever do this I have mediocre workouts at best as I feel a bit aimless. Have a plan. Even if you draw it up in notes on your phone en route!

  • And then some mini motivation tips:

These (above) are the big ‘lifestyle’ things that can sound a bit tough to implement but I really recommend trying to get these down for a month or two and it will get easier as it stops being something to try to do and starts being something you do automatically (although don’t beat yourself up for low motivation days – they happen to all of us! That’s what the Person under tip 2 is for).

I think if you can really think about and master some of the above, you’re well on your way to making fitness and health a priority that holds its own against the competing demands of your life. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t smash it every week. But equally the idea of creating the habits and mindsets above is to help you set a fairly constant standard… you’re allowed peaks and troughs like any human being, but that’s your baseline!

Now here are some smaller things that may or may not help you fine tune this regime!

Outfit planning: I like to lay out my fave lulus and choose pretty sports bras etc. the night before, especially if I know I’ve been struggling to feel excited about gym. Sounds stupid, but it helps me.

THEJUSTDOITMETHOD: if all else fails, I swear by a power lip (usually red – fave lipsticks are chanel, dior and Charlotte Tilbury), shot an espresso, put your hair in a messy bun, blast out some gangster rap and JUST GO. You won’t regret it*

(*subject to the usual exceptions – injury etc. Be sensible. Don’t force yourself if its clearly unhealthy!)

The controversial insta scroll: I have a policy of only following people on insta who make me feel empowered and motivated, so a cheeky scroll usually does wonders for my motivation. However, I know social increasingly gets linked with poor mental health. If you feel bad about yourself for going on it, I’d suggest unfollowing anyone who makes you feel that way, and/or considering deleting it altogether.

Make it a date: with friends, the bf/gf, culture is weirdly centred around pub dates, coffee dates and wine bar dates. Find some likeminded friends (see community recommendations above for ways to find some on social media if you don’t have any) and go to a class together then have a smoothie to catch up, instead of necking ten G&Ts in the pub…! Or go for a run in your neighbourhood together. Or drive out of the city and hike together. I love and fairly regularly do all of these options.

Just 20 mins: If you really can’t face it, tell yourself you’ll just do 20 mins. That’s all you have to do. Chances are, 15 mins in you’ll have broken through the block an really enjoy it, and stay for 30, or 40, or 45, or an hour. (I love 40-55 min workouts. I rarely do a full hour these days!)

If in doubt, sweat at home: If making the gym is proving impossible, there are tonnes of workouts online, on youtube, on fitness blender, on this site where you can get a sweat on quickly at home! Any movement is better than none and it doesn’t take loads of fancy equipment. I prefer to go to the gym or a class but if I really really can’t, then 100 burpees, 50 press ups, and playing with my kettlebell at home will get my heart rate going rather than lying like a vegetable on the sofa…!

An App a Day: tech these days is EPIC and  there are so many apps that are free and/or super cheap. I’ve loved the Kayla Itsines app for simple and easy to fit in 28 min workouts, and used it successfully when I needed some fat loss action. But Playbook App has tonnes of trainers on it for just £10 a month, I love Magnus Lydgback (creator of The Magnus Method), the Tomb Raider trainer (he also trained Alexander Skarsgard and Ben Affleck!) and am a subscriber! Also search for Tone It Up, Jillian Michaels, Made with Jade, Grace Fit Guide… there are tonnes!

Resisting office temptation: This is a tough one right? Sweets, cake, doughnuts abound – team birthdays, celebrations… how to stay on track?

My policy is simple. I mindfully assess whether I really want it. 9/10 times my body actually doesn’t want the sugar bombs! Do I really want it? No. Then I say no as a matter of policy. A simple ‘no thanks I’m not hungry’ will do.

Do I want it? Maybe 1/10 times there’s a little sliver of red velvet cake… and maybe I do want it. So I have it!

It’s about working out if you’re eating for the sake of it, boredom, or to appease someone else – those aren’t reasons to indulge! But if it will actually SATISFY YOU then do it! Remember, a simple 80/20 rule. It’s not ‘bad’ to have a treat… unless you’re overindulging and damaging your health by doing it daily!

Read this post if you want comfort food but need some healthy swap suggestions as stress eating isn’t good for anyone!

Lunch habits: a protein and fibre rich lunch will keep you fuller for longer and stop you snacking mindlessly! Include complex carbs, lean protein and lots of veggies. Meal prep can help with this, or check out salad bars like Vital Ingredient for good options. Obviously you can vary things and you don’t need to worry about it too much – but making mindful lunch choices can stop that 3pm slump which half the time is because we’re not nourishing ourselves properly, and half the time is a psychosomatic myth so people have an excuse to grab a daily Twix and tell themselves they need it!

AND FINALLY!

 Working out should be because you want to take care of yourself, not to punish yourself or burn off food or force yourself into a certain body shape. We all have aesthetic goals and preferences, sure, but try to view food and exercise as fuel and training, not dieting and it’s unnecessarily hard-work twin!

Also, I get that its tough in this day and age – we’re all so busy! But unless you’re super gross, you always clean your teeth without fail, or shower. They’re non-negotiables for health and hygiene.

You need to view some degree of movement as a non-negotiable like this too, for your health and wellbeing. Magazines have done a good job of making us feel you only do it to lose weight. I really want to kick against this, and make people see it’s a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, one of the most underutilised tools for avoiding all kinds of illnesses, both mental and physical. So EDUCATE YOURSELF and change your mindset – I’m so glad I have!

To help you, check out:

***

Rhiannon Lambert – Harley St Nutritionist @rhitrition

Hazel Wallace – Jr Doctor @thefoodmedic

Shredded by science – for the actual facts (fully backed up scientific study-based nerdery here!) about training and nutrition

***

Chessie King – influencer and body confidence activist @chessiekingg

Zanna Van Dijk – PT, environmental guru, fitness influencer @zannavandijk

Tally Rye – PT tackling diet culture and looking to change the fitness industry @tallyrye

These are just some examples of sources of good quality information above, and inspiration below (obviously there’s a crossover there, but in terms of science, evidence and qualification, the top 3 are amazing). The other three are just great, healthy, inspiring girls who won’t give you body hangups and are changing diet culture and helping women across the world.

So, sorry for the essay, but I hope that helps! I’ve tried to address all the things I find help me, all the stuff I’ve learned over my “fitness journey” (cringe!) and answer all the questions I get on the regular.

PS. you may also want to read this post on body confidence for those days when you can’t workout or you’re just feeling bleh and this post on sustaining motivation!

PPS. If your relationship is what’s making it tough to fit in workouts (perhaps your partner loves French food for date nights!) then I write about fitting fitness around relationships here.

Love & sweat 😉

B xoxox

 

 

 

 

Body Confidence & Fat Loss: new taboos, and some tips!

63F00890-78D0-4731-AA57-7DB8CA5E6AB7Over the course of, for want of a better phrase (!), my ‘health and fitness journey’ *mini cringe*, my outlook has changed a lot.

Ironically, I discovered that the influence slogans were true – trust the process, fall in love with the process, and you’ll get better aesthetic results.

I didn’t believe it when I first started either.

However, as I have become happier with my body, fitter, stronger, admittedly my goals have shifted towards process-driven ones (to be able to do an unassisted pull up, to improve my boxing technique, to be able to do plyo push-ups) which is a much healthier place to be instead of obsessing over body size.

I’m glad to be in a healthy physical and mental space, and to be trying to share that message more, instead of feeding the ‘must get skinny’ toxicity that still runs through society in a big way.

HOWEVER it does mean that talking about fat loss for me is difficult. How do I do it without promoting orthorexia (we can’t say clean eating anymore) or implying that fat is bad?

A poll on my Instagram lately indicated that loads of you are still super interested in fat

12987141_552182498289577_8596720344473536431_n
From post bulimia weight gain to happy with Kayla Itsines BBG programme – the beginning of my fitness love!

loss so I wanted to address it as a topic in a healthy, balanced, sustainable way. Because I think it is possible (though perhaps tough!) to change your body composition and lose some fat in a body positive way… it all depends on your mindset.

 

As always, bear in mind that while I’ve had a successful weight loss journey to a place where I’m happy, that followed times of being underweight and bulimia before my excessive weight gain, and while I’m recovered and I have been active in the online wellness and health community for over 5 years, I am not a nutritionist or doctor. The only qualification I’ve done is a group exercise instructor REPS level 2 course where the nutrition content is minimal. My knowledge is from personal interest and research only, and so you can use it as a jumping off point to conduct research yourself, but you can’t rely on me for personal advice. Ok? 🙂

Fat Loss: how do we do it healthily?

You may or may not have heard the saying ‘you can’t out train a bad diet.’

This is totally true.

So if you really want to alter your body composition (i.e. lose some fat) then you need to address your nutrition first and foremost.

This can be a bit of a minefield as I think it is CRITICAL that you do this in a way that isn’t detrimental to your health (which is where so many people go wrong – fad diets encouraging cutting food groups, for example, are not sustainable long term and deprive your body of vital nutrients).

The way I have approached fat loss that I feel is most physically AND mentally beneficial is:

  • NO CALORIE OR MACRO COUNTING (however I know some people without ED backgrounds can count numbers and not obsess, and I acknowledge that maybe the reason I can eat healthily and intuitively is because I know a lot about the nutritional contents of food because I HAVE calorie counted and macro counted in the past!)
  • But DO address portion sizes! If you’re sedentary in your day job like me, you don’t need insane plates of food! I like to make 2/3 – 1/2 of my plate veggies (mostly greens!) and then a palm size of lean protein and hand-size of complex carbohydrates.
  • Educate yourself on the basics of what your body needs as a minimum – macro (protein, healthy fats and carbs) and micro (vitamins A-Z, magnesium, zinc etc!) nutrients. Books like ReNourish by Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert are the best place to start.
  • Spend a week (or ideally two) keeping a food diary which includes WHAT you ate, but also how you feel mood-wise (before and after eating. It can help you learn the difference between ACTUAL physical hunger, emotional hunger and psychological hunger, and assists you in cutting out ‘mindless’ eating.
  • Give up alcohol for a while. I think this gives you the mental space to assess your relationship with food and your body and confidence, as well as being an easy way to trim out non-nutritious food. I had a 6 month period without alcohol because its essentially of no nutritional benefit, it’s a depressant, and it makes you less aware of the choices you’re making. I’m not suggesting you quit for half a year! I’d say do a 2 week break and then introduce it back in a mindful way – have a drink as an indulgent treat, but stick to one or two and savour them.

Once you’ve mastered streamlining what goes into your body (think 80-90% foods that are top quality fuel – nutrient dense, natural, whole foods, try to limit processed food as much as possible and avoid additives – extra sugar and all kinds of stuff gets added in to things you’d least expect! – and 20-10% treats, because this is about sustainability long term – no food is bad, no food is out of bounds, but you need to get out of a binge-restrict mindset).

Mentally reset: leaning down safely

Once you’ve worked on your dietary approach, you need to check in with yourself about how and why you’re losing weight. You shouldn’t embark on any regime without consulting a GP or medical health professional, particularly if your goal is solely aesthetic – there are a range of health problems that can come from being underweight including loss of bone density, osteoporosis and infertility as well as heart problems, so have a think about why you want to lose weight.

Regularly mentally check yourself that you still love and appreciate your body for what it is and can do NOW.

Realise that losing weight isn’t inherently good or bad; it won’t ‘fix’ your life, and if you have self-esteem issues, for example, a perfect physique (what is perfect anyway?!) won’t solve those problems.

Every time you’re thinking about fat loss, try to tune in to how you feel emotionally. Are you anxious, stressed, self-loathing? These might be signs you need to take a break from this goal and talk to someone. Or are you happy, enjoying being full of energy, with a nice bonus of preferring some of your aesthetic changes, without obsessing about it? Then you’re in a good place.

The fat loss formula

Essentially, to assist your nutritional changes, you want to up your energy expenditure.

DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP of thinking you need to ‘burn off’ eating food.

DO try to find physical activity you enjoy, and build up slowly. 

Low intensity steady state training (brisk incline walking, swimming, cycling) may burn fewer calories overall but its technically most effective for fat loss as to use fat stores as fuel rather than stored glycogen in the body, you need oxygen available to do this. So while anaerobic exercise like HIIT burns more calories in the same time technically, less of this will come from stored fat.

When thinking about a workout schedule, here are some key tips:

  1. Be realistic. Don’t aim to train 6 days a week for an hour if you hate the gym and have a mad work schedule. 6 days is overkill even if you love training, probably… overtraining can be counterproductive.
  2. Try to pick exercise you enjoy. Basically, consistency is key. Don’t think about ‘I have to just do this for 10 weeks to get my dream body then I can stop woohoo!’ We’re talking LIFESTYLE CHANGES people, because otherwise once you hit your goal, you won’t stay there for long.
  3. Variety helps you stop getting bored. It can also be used if after 6 months of training you hit a plateau and need to re-set and boost results.
  4. SET PROCESS DRIVEN GOALS TO USE AS A FOCUS INSTEAD OF FAT LOSS. It will help you melt the fat off anyway! Examples might be to be able to do your first high box jump or pull up, to do 20 on your toes press ups, to run 2k, 5k, 10k, to go to a boxing class and not feel like death at the end…! Anything that means you’re working on something outside of the fat loss thing. Think about strength, agility, flexibility.

So what kind of training is optimum for fat loss?

The goal here is to lose fat without exercising solely thinking about that, right? I’d say DON’T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS BECAUSE IF YOU HATE THAT KIND OF TRAINING, YOU WON’T STICK TO IT. And if you can’t stick to it (i.e. see yourself being happy to do something similar for pretty much the rest of your life, obviously amounts will vary, but still…) then the benefits won’t stick.

Personally, I think balanced training is the way to go.

  • Increase your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This is energy you burn while not ‘exercising’, so taking the stairs, extra walking, that kind of thing, falls into this category. Do as much of this as possible – for health reasons as much as anything! I ALWAYS take the escalator at a walk / jog, climb stairs if I have the option, and add a 45 minute walk in to my weekend.
  • HIIT is a great way to exercise if you’re time poor. They say it’s great for revving the metabolism and torching calories in a short session. Just be careful not to overtrain in this way as it’s touch on joints where it’s super high impact and the central nervous system. If you’re a beginner I’d do some simple weight lifting first instead to make sure you’ve got the form and stability.
  • Plyometrics – often used with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) uses explosive, often jump-type movements, really rocking those fast-twich muscle fibres. As above with HIIT, while this is super effective and efficient, it can be tough on the body so don’t over do it.
  • LISS (low intensity steady state) – the bread and butter that you should try to get in as much of as you sensibly can.

How do I train these days? I’m not saying copy this, but this schedule works for me:

  • Most of my LISS is NEAT to be fair – weekend walks, climbing stairs. Sometimes I’ll do rowing, cycling or a high incline walk at the gym once a week.
  • HIIT / plyometrics – for my biggest weightloss period I used Kayla Itsines BBG programme which is basically this which involved 28 mins of this three times a week. Now I do boxing style workouts with my PT or at Kobox 1-3 times a week for 50 minutes.

Don’t start at max capacity. If you currently do nothing, schedule 1 high intensity and 2 low intensity sessions a week.

If you do some, up it a little.

But all of this goes hand in hand with checking in with yourself mentally (how do you feel? Are you feeling drained, stressed, desperate to lose some fat? You may need to stop, reassess and do some work on your mindset. I’d recommend Mel Well’s The Goddess Revolution here. Or are you feeling empowered and starting to enjoy the process more and care less about the fat? That’s the ideal!)

Consistency is key

This is probably the most important thing to remember. Consistency with both nutrition and training is the way you see changes in your body. Slow, steady progress means your results are likely healthier, and sustainable long-term.

If you’re struggling with motivation, maybe this will help.

Structure

Structure can be super helpful if you’re a beginner. I guide my own training now, but following Kayla’s programme in the past was perfect as it was basically three 28 minute workouts that fit around work.

There are tonnes out there – see the free workouts section on this site too! – so find something that appeals and give it a whirl.

Final thoughts

I hope this dive into trying to do fat loss in a body positive way was helpful.

As I said, I’m just a former group exercise instructor and fitness fangirl who loves to connect with people who have similar health and wellness interest. My tips aren’t a substitute for qualified advice.

Just try to remember that our bodies are here for the long haul (our whole lives!) in fact. Don’t sacrifice health and happiness to weigh 5% less people.

However, that said, you don’t need to feel bad for having aesthetic goals. While it’s not why I train now, I LOVED feeling on top form training hard last summer and seeing my abs and myself get leaner (although not my leanest!) whilst also getting stronger.

I’m looking at further study soon because I want to feel more able to advise and share information from a place that’s safe and sensible to do so. If you might be interested in coaching in future if this becomes available, let me know.

B xx

 

An apology

DEE7D881-3233-469C-BE55-FA38D47677C7Something has been on my mind over the last few months, and exams and various things have meant it’s taken me FOREVER to get around writing this.

But over the last year or so, I’ve MASSIVELY re-educated myself about nutrition, about self-care, about the science of health and looking after ourselves. I’m so excited that Instagram is starting to have healthier advice from qualified professionals seep out there – from @thefoodmedic, a junior doctor to @rhitrition, a Harley Street nutritionist, and from there it’s trickling down to influencers and professional bloggers, and also out to the wider world – including your at-home-normal-girl-online (like me!) who just takes an interest but doesn’t work in the field.

This dawning realisation of how qualified advice is key, and of how to truly look after 12801480_10154017394389571_243980647230974058_nmyself made me realise something: even when I thought I’d recovered from eating disorders I was still obsessive, counting calories and macros made me miserable, I tried crazy tips and tricks I’d find online…  I was exhibiting damaging behaviours, but because I have always documented my journey on Instagram, I was sharing them. 

I am not an “influencer”. I’m just a girl online. I’m not a nutritionist. I’ve never pretended to be able to give advice in any official sense, but the problem with sharing our lives on social in the health and wellness sphere is inevitably there will be people who give something you’ve tried a whirl.

Social gives you a channel that if what you say reaches even one person, it can have an effect.

So I am writing this to say I’m sorry.

Obviously everything I’ve ever written is just my opinion and so I can’t be responsible for anyone copying or trying anything, I know that, but I still want to write this to make clear that moving forward I want to distance myself even more from the obsessive ‘weight loss’ and ‘clean eating’ online movements… clearly each and every one of us takes responsibility for our own health (unless you hire qualified practitioners who then presumably assume responsibility for any good or ill effects of you implementing their official advice), and I’m not under any ego-centric illusion that me essentially sharing my health and fitness ‘diary’ has changed lives…

12809559_10154022763194571_8624223923645781642_nBUT I am sorry for sharing things about my journey, my experience, any informal advice or tips when they were wrong (as I now believe them to be – obviously at the time I was excited by them, and believed in them! And there are evidently people who still do). I think posts of mine even a year ago mention macro counting. I’m sure that for certain people this works fine, but it’s not something I’d now want to promote personally at all.

It has never been my intention to mislead, but in genuinely believing stuff that was wrong myself, what I intended doesn’t matter – maybe I contributed to promoting unhealthy habits in the past entirely mistakenly. Trying to convince myself that obsessing about macros made me feel great might have made someone else do the same, possibly, and I’m sorry for that.

I’m sorry for sharing so much on #cleaneating in the past. (I think this movement started off as well-intentioned – to encourage increased consumption of whole foods, vegetables, and reduction of over-processed, super sugary products… but the way it caught on has led to the rise of orthorexia in recent years (see the book ReNourish, by Rhiannon Lambert, and also there are various documentaries you can watch on this) and it is tricky, to be fair, to find vocabulary to express these ideas without them being loaded and causing problems!).

I’m sorry for not finding the right path sooner, and for falling prey to pseudoscience and myths in the hope they’d be quick fixes.

I’m sorry that society hasn’t yet fully embraced sensible healthy living and still encourages diet culture.

Of course I’m still sharing my journey but I’m trying to cite sources, to seek scientific verification before I try things out for myself let alone talk about them in public online, and to constantly emphasise that we can’t take information we find on Instagram as correct without fact-checking from credible sources – and that includes not just blindly believing hobby bloggers like me!

We have all probably accidentally pushed material around in the public sphere that with hindsight we realise actually wasn’t the right thing. I don’t think there are many people out there who do this deliberately (maybe with the exception of skinny/detox/diet teas and body wrap products!) But I think we can all try to be more responsible about how we use social media and ground what we say in sources that aren’t dubious in origin!

I hope this helps, and let’s all do our best to join the revolution of evidence-based health and nutrition and counteract diet culture!

(And in the event that anyone comes out of this post feeling a bit blue about social media, have a little read of this where I’ve shared my musings on the dangers but also the AMAZING BENEFITS of social!)

B xxxxx

PS. You might also like to have a mosey of this post on boosting body confidence

PPS. all images here are of recipes which you can find on this site, or on my Instagram!

PPPS. As if I haven’t said it enough, I think we should ALWAYS SEEK ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS about diet, nutrition and fitness. The internet might be great for inspiration, but your health is the most important thing and you need qualified individuals to help you make sure you’re making safe and sensible choices for your body. 

Bloggers, randoms like me, instagrammers (who aren’t nutritionists and doctors, and even when they are, they can’t give tailored advice without seeing you in clinic!) and internet forums aren’t sources of info you should copy unquestioningly, or even at all. Use them to investigate, but always always always verify. Have I emphasised this enough yet hehe?!!!

ReNourish: An Honest Review

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 12.15.31I’m so passionate about health and wellness – it’s been great to blog and Instagram and connect with others who feel the same – but I’m conscious that a lot of the time, while we can share our tips and tricks, we’re not qualified to give ‘advice’. Rhiannon Lambert is someone I found on Insta after my lovely friend Alex (@theleanlawyer) posted about her, and I’m so glad I discovered her. And she is so, so, so qualified! So there’s finally a great source of information who is also an influencer in the health sphere on Instagram who actually knows their stuff and has the degrees and post grad qualifications to back it up, not just a 6 week nutrition quick course! (The title nutritionist isn’t legally regulated in the UK so sadly anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, leading to a lot of advice from un-qualified, even if they’re well meaning!, individuals who can do more harm than good).

Rhiannon Lambert is changing the game completely. Evidence-based, science backed learning… I am literally so excited to see how her following is growing and message is spreading!

Her book is basically Rhiannon, bound in book-form! It describes her nutrition philosophy and is packed full of information on how we can eat well, simply, and healthily without doing ridiculous fad diets, or buying crazy expensive superfoods. Her recipes are accessible and so tasty, and the presentation is really lovely too – the book is basically almost as pretty as she is! I wanted to give you guys a fuller review of it rather than just hash tagging it constantly on Insta, so here you go!

If you want:

  • Fad diets
  • Quick fixes
  • Pseudoscience and detox ridiculousness

Then this book is not for you!

If you want a book that gives you:

  • advice from a qualified Harley Street nutritionist;
  • to learn about what your body really needs;
  • the science behind nutrition (micronutrients, macronutrients, myth-busting);
  • gut health;
  • mindful eating;
  • body confidence;
  • a sustainable approach to eating that helps you ditch the diets;
  • a book that is kicking ‘diet culture’ in the a**!
  • to learn about Rhiannon’s nutrition philosophy of taking it back to basics and keeping it simple;
  • delicious recipes including breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert;
  • and loads more!

then this book is absolutely the book you need to buy for 2018!

I’ve so enjoyed making recipes from this book, and I can’t wait to try every single one – it’s my 2018 resolution to cook each of them 🙂

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Here’s my amazon review too ❤

I’ve followed Rhiannon ever since hearing her speak at a wellness panel and her approach to eating changed my life, quite literally. I was so excited to buy this book and it’s turned out to be even better than I expected which is saying something!
I love that for once there’s a book encompassing being your healthiest, the science behind food, myth busting and explaining micro and macronutrients as well as including sections with sample meal plans, putting together healthy packed lunches plus LOADS of amazing recipes!
So many books promise content and don’t deliver. This book more than delivers…. in addition to all the above, it helps you with mindful eating, body confidence and healing your relationship with food for such a reasonable price.
It’s refreshing to see a quality book on this subject written by an actual nutritionist in a day and age where anyone and everyone offers advice on social media (often dangerous celeb faddy diets). The care and attention and knowledge Rhiannon brings to the table having specialised in eating disorders is really incredible… and it’s super accessible, an interesting and fun read. You’ll look and feel your best for implementing her advice – if you buy one book this year I’d make it Rhiannon’s! (As an ex ED sufferer I don’t say this lightly!)

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You can visit her website and find out more about her Harley Street clinic here.

Also check out Rhiannon’s facebook page and instagram – @rhitrition.

Am I having a baby?! | Life, fitness & diet update | The Pill & Weight

img_3351Baby News, The Pill Drama, Weightloss & Life

BOMBSHELL DROP! I had to take a few preggers (eek!) tests over Christmas!

To digress a little, we had our 20 month year old nephew up to stay last night (with his mum and dad, luckily haha!) and he is SO ADORABLE. Like, super super cute. I think it’s amazing how much energy my (pretty much!) sister in law Sophie is able to give him – it’s so impressive!

But back to the point – I LOVE kids (when they’re other peoples’!)  and have been broody occasionally in the past around babies, but there’s nothing like a pregnancy scare to clarify what you want!

Also having our nephew over watching them parent him for one night made us realise how 12923201_10154136317859571_5665512560369424144_nmuch work it would be and how completely our lives would change. We’re so happy right now and we love our lives sans bebe and need years and years more freedom (if not forever!) before we even think about kids. I don’t even know if I necessarily want my own children now – never say never though! But we have a lot more travelling to do, our careers are so important to us and because of work it’s going to be a minimum of 4 or 5 years before it would be feasible for me, and even then… I’m not sure anymore! I like the volunteering I do in a primary school, but like… a lifetime commitment to another being that doesn’t exist yet is huge, and it’s so dependent on you until about 16-18…!

We also want to have bought our house in the next couple of years so that would always come first for both of us, especially my boyfriend who feels strongly about this!

So how is this fitness related?! Well, part of the reason behind the scare was my faulty 12734021_10154007229759571_7609994661510553966_nbirth control plan, because the pill and implant over the last 10 years have been tricky for me, and I’ve been afraid of them affecting both my weight and my moods.

Luckily, the scare made me discover a new pill (it’s not new as in NEW new, but it’s new to me!) Yasmin which I’ve been on for over a month now, and it’s great! No side effects, and it hasn’t hampered my fitness or weight loss AT ALL. I love it – and have heard anecdotally from other women it’s helped them lose weight. So I think it’s CRAZY IMPORTANT to get your peach emoji down to the GP and make sure you have explored all the options to find a birth control plan you’re happy with if you won’t want to be breeding any time soon!

Fitness & Diet Update

I’m so happy the pill isn’t ruining my progress, as I’ve been working really hard lately.

While for life generally I’m a huge proponent of intuitive eating, as I mentioned before I’m on an 8 week plan with my coach Elle Darby to get myself back into the healthy swing of things post-Xmas, because she’s so supportive and great for keeping me accountable!

So that means I’m tracking macros! Which I know a lot of people aren’t sure about, so I wanted to link you to Elle’s video because it’s amazing. It’s a great jumping-off point for anyone curious about the world of IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and want someone who is a qualified PT to explain it to you!

There are a few reasons why I couldn’t track macros for life:

  • too restrictive
  • it makes me think about food more, and worry a bit
  • it’s a pain to keep weighing food
  • eating out becomes a challenge

BUT there are some reasons why I’d recommend at least a month to someone who was willing to try it (but by all means, if you don’t fancy it, DON’T DO IT! You can get great results without it!) but the benefits are:

  • it’s so educational – you really start to understand exactly what is in the things you’re eating
  • while you want 80-90% of your foods to come from clean sources, it allows ‘cheats’ while you stay on track within your macros – WOOP!
  • it is SO HELPFUL for adjusting your portion sizes
  • it ensures you stay full and get all the nutrients you need
  • it’s far healthier and more accurate than calorie counting which can be silly as sometimes people just don’t eat much and then eat a chocolate bar or two and say they’ve met their goal for the day – not good for anyone’s health!

My workouts are a combination of plyometric training (BBG at the moment via www.Kaylaitsines.com) HIIT (sprints and fitness blender) and Elle‘s and GracefitUK‘s lifting workouts. I think with workouts it’s important to find what works for you and stick at it – don’t feel pushed into copying people because of instagram pressure!  The Lean Lawyer (the lovely Alex Buckley) does a fantastic post on this here! The sentiment also very much links in or complements what I was trying to say in this post about Instagram pressure.

Some of the workouts I do are also my own, which you can find here – I love the Elle Woods workout and Temple Training. I’ll also be sharing an awesome Disney Little Mermaid Leg Day workout very soon 😉 ❤

I’ve been experimenting with lifting and at the end of my 8 weeks I’ll let you know if it’s for me or not. But if it is – it doesn’t mean you should do it. If it isn’t – maybe it will work for you!  #youdoyouboo haha.

Hope you’re all crushing your goals my lovelies! Tonnes of love

B xoxoxo

 

Motivation 101: get it, and keep it!

12987141_552182498289577_8596720344473536431_nMotivation to work out and eat healthy is SO EASY for all of 2 minutes. You see a picture of someone on instagram with flat abs, or your friend drops a load of weight and you’re like WOAH HOW DO I DO THAT, or January and February roll around after an indulgent Christmas and you begin a new year with the best intentions.

Then Netflix calls. Friends ask you to go for a glass of wine. Friday nights glimmer with the possibility of pizza. Stuffed crust not optional. It’s too good to miss.

Or you have a GREAT couple of weeks doing new workouts; you’re excited, you’re determined to make it last this time… but then it’s cold and dark in the morning and you’re SHATTERED. Sleep seems preferable. Colleagues start tucking in to Krispy Kremes right in front of you, you’re starving and forgot your nicely meal-prepped lunch, and to be honest you’re probably too busy anyway to faff with all this prepping healthy fancy meals.

Any of this ring any bells?

Ding-a-bloody-ling, right? And we’re all only human. So here are a few tips for grabbing motivation with both hands and keeping it. And the final tip is the biggest, but it’s a bit of a misnomer! Check them out 🙂 Some may appeal, some may not, so take your pick!

1. Write down your goals. Think about exactly what it is you want to achieve. Keep this on your phone or in a notebook, and write down little changes you can make (it’s all about step-by-step changes) to make it achievable.

2. Get accountable! Whether that’s through creating a fitness instagram or finding a 12799441_10154036120029571_3180138461961573348_nworkout buddy, or paying for a class in advance, do something that creates a real commitment to make it harder to wriggle out of.

3. Create a vision board. This can include aesthetic stuff – healthy delicious looking meals, flat abs etc, but it should also include REASONS why you want to get healthier – examples might be getting stronger, being able to do full push-ups, fitting into a new dress more easily, building self-confidence.

4. PLAN PLAN PLAN! If you plan your meals in advance at weekends, you’re less likely to cave to cravings at weak moments.

5. Modelling… nope, I’m not talking about the catwalk kind (I’d be terrified haha!) Find examples of people in your life who have made changes, or find girls on instagram who you can relate to and model what they’re doing. I find having ‘role-model’ people so helpful because when I’m feeling lazy, I just think what would so-and-so do?

6. Visualisation. When you’re reluctant to do that workout, visualise how AMAZING you’ve felt after previous workouts. Try to mentally recreate the high. Squueze a fist. Try to train yourself to associate this movement with feeling great, and create that link in your mind. Google CBT for more stuff like this. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I’ve started to experiment lately.

7. Find a motivating pre-sweat track. Play it LOUD, on repeat. GET AMPED UP. I’ve used various songs as my ‘get hyped up to workout’ anthems in the past – from Wings, Black Skinhead, and Formation to Do It Now… whatever you’re feeling at the time. I change mine every few months!

8. Mix up your workout routine. Boredom is a major motivation-vampire!

9. Find workouts you enjoy. What I mean here, is if you hate running… don’t do it! Find something you like more, be it dance and circuit training, boxing and swimming, yoga and CrossFit… there are so many options out there, and the second you start dreading your regime is the second your progress is ready to take a nose dive, if it hasn’t already.

10. Treat it as compulsory. Fitness is about health, pure and simple. Abs and a booty are a fab side effect, but nobody cleans their teeth for kicks! Exercise should be automatic, like cleaning our teeth. It’s so important for our bones, muscles, heart, and even mental health. PLUS it releases endorphins, unlike cleaning those teeth 😉

11. Stick motivational quotes and pictures or your vision board on your fridge. This isn’t to guilt you, girls. This is so that you always make choices with your goals in mind. Sometimes, you should STILL REACH FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE. But having your goals right in front of you reminds you do make those choices MINDFULLY.

12. DON’T RELY ON MOTIVATION. FORM HABITS! This is the biggest and best tip of all. Everything above should help you get revved up to get fit and healthy, but at the end of the day, we’re not happy cheerleading robots! Sometimes we have down days, lazy days, sad days, and that’s ok! But on those days, you still get dressed, you still clean your teeth right? Fitness should be like that – a habit. Once it’s a habit, you don’t have to rely so heavily on motivation.

Motivation is great to get you started. But habit is what really keeps you going!

 

Any other tips and tricks?! I’d love to hear them!

 

B xoxoxo

Grapefruit

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I love half a red grapefruit in the morning for breakfast, and some studies show it helps burn fat! I like to have mine with a couple of blueberries and strawberries for the additional nutrients ❤

The only thing missing from this breakfast above is protein, so it’s good to have a protein shake, or a scrambled egg, or some smoked salmon alongside if possible. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t but it makes the above the PERFECT breakfast instead of just damn good 😉

If you have fruit in the morning, what do you have?

B xoxo

What I eat in a day

12832325_10154039482294571_11428457637709826_nIt’s always interesting to see if trainers practice what they preach, and if you follow me on instagram, you’ll know I do keep a food diary to keep myself accountable. I’m starting to condense this into a single shot at the end of each day to save time, so I’ll check in here with sample food diaries every now and again so you can see what my personal plan looks like every now and then! Feel free to monitor me more closely on instagram too (I’m @legallygymliving), it’s always great to have more accountability buddies ; )

Above: 1) breakfast – dairy free hot cacao oatcakes & cinnamon grilled pear, 2) lunch – cod, brown rice, spinach (I pour it out of my tupperware into plates in our office cafe to make it seem nicer – psychologically it helps me be more satisfied with my healthy option if someone else is chowing down pizza!) 3) snack – bakewell nakd bar (100% natural, fruit & nuts), 4) dinner – vegetable omelette, spinach & crudités. Fresh orange & grapefruit juice as a treat on the side

Prep routine

I prep my dinner and lunch for the next day at the same time, and sometimes they’re the same thing for ease, or sometimes a variation with similar ingredients… you’ll see an example below. Cooking and prep takes me about 20 minutes max.

Breakfast, I make first thing in the morning. I used to be a roll out of bed and skip it person, but these days I opt to do my workout in the evenings, and get up with an hour to play with in the morning. Half an hour of that can be showering, makeup etc, and half cooking / breakfast prep, and washing up.

12814246_10154039442334571_554769347611297712_nMultitasking
Here’s a lunch I was able to make at the same time as my vegetable omelette – I just beat the second egg, added in the other half of the spring onion I’d chopped, poured it into the other half of the pepper I’d used for crudités, and baked it while I prepped raw carrot for tonight and a quick salad for tomorrow. Simples!

Forming the habit

It took me a while to form this habit as I work full time, and have lectures some evenings, so I don’t get home til about 9 o clock. This led me to be lazy with cooking for a while. Then I gave myself a bit of a kick and realised eating well and healthily, as well as making me feel better, could be just as quick if I got my skates on and got creative. After all, a frozen pizza takes about 20 minutes in the oven.

Top tips

Make a decision to just go for it. Once you commit to making a change, you’re halfway there. Use instagram checkins with your favourite fitness communities to keep you accountable.

Make your meal plans in advance for the week. When lunch time rolls around it means you reach for what you’d planned automatically, and you don’t have the Pret sandwich or burger with your colleagues or fish’n’chip Friday dilemma! If you need help finding nourishing, healthy options that still taste great, there are loads of recipes on this site under the ‘nourish’ tab, or follow me on insta, check out Rhiannon Lambert’s book, and bloggers I love include Food Fitness Flora who does great recipes!

Good luck!

 

Spicy spinach scramble

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I love this breakfast option – it’s great to start your day with protein, and the spinach gives you plenty of nutrients. Bread selection will make or break the healthiness of the dish – go for a good rye or wholegrain, and don’t have bread too often. The one pictured here is the walnut cob from Sainsbury’s as a weekend treat!

For 1 person, you should beat 2 eggs, and start to scramble them in a frying pan. Your pan should be prepped with as little olive oil as possible or half a tsp coconut oil. 

Add in around 2 handfuls of raw spinach (make sure if you haven’t bought ready-washed that you run it under the tap first!) and shake a little cayenne pepper into the pan. Less is more when it comes to this, I find. Chop 1/4 – 1/2 a fresh, red chilli and add to the pan. Keep scrambling ; )

The fresh chilli is great Vitamin C and for boosting immunity. Some suggest it helps raise the metabolism too. The cayenne adds an extra kick if you like the spice.

I like my scramble firm, but it’s personal preference of course, so once done, serve on your unbuttered wholegrain/rye toast, with spinach on the side.

You can also add red bell peppers, watercress, or asparagus too, to mix up your brunch.

Enjoy.