Sunday, 23 October 2016

WHY LIFTING WEIGHTS WON'T TURN YOU INTO THE FEMALE VERSION OF THE HULK!



When I first started training I remember saying to my trainer "I want to get strong and muscly but not bulky" and at that point he probably wanted to punch me in the face as now I realise it was such a ridiculous thing to say.

There are so many myths that if a girl lifts heavy weights she will become "bulky" and because of these myths most women are too scared to even enter the weights section of the gym, let alone pick up enough weight needed to get the best training results.  Instead they follow workouts in magazines that give you "abs in 15 minutes" or "fat loss from your stomach in 2 weeks" but do they really work? The straight answer to that question is no!!

As someone who's been weight training for a few years now, what I can tell you is that lifting weights will not turn you into the female version of the hulk and that's because women's testosterone levels are significantly lower than men's.  Instead it will help you have a healthy and strong body.

Most women spend hours and hours doing cardio and feel so happy when they've burnt 450 calories in 45 mins because that's about the equivalent to a doughnut right?  Yet despite spending all those hours sweating away they don't end up seeing the results they're looking for.  If you enjoy running then by no means should you give it up but if your goal is a lean, toned body then strength training using a program with the correct exercises is a much more efficient way to achieve it and will give you the best results aesthetically.

A lot of women freak out when they first start to see their muscles develop, I'll put my hands up and say I've been there myself but it's science that the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn and training with weights increases muscle mass.  Yet so many women are scared to set foot in the weights section... I don't know if it's because they're scared to lift weights or because they feel intimidated by all the men but you've just got to walk in, be confident and own it.  If it's the latter one then I can assure you that most guys in the weights section are probably comparing themselves to each other rather than looking at what you're doing.

To build strong muscles you need to lift heavy weights.  As everyone's strength levels are different I can't tell you what weight you should be lifting this is something you'll have to work out yourself, but what I can tell you is that you should be aiming to lift a weight that's comfortable for 5-12 reps. The weight should never affect your technique and if it does then it's too heavy and you need to lower it.  Lifting weights that are too heavy will only lead to injury and that's the last thing anyone wants.

High repetitions (15-20 reps) with low weights will build your muscle endurance and low repetitions (3-5 reps) with heavy weights will increase your strength.  Everyone's bodies are different and a training technique that might work for one person may not necessarily work for you, so it's a matter of trying different things.  When weight training it's important to always be challenging your muscles and so when you're doing a set the last rep should always be hard.  If for example you're doing a set of 10 squats you shouldn't be thinking to yourself I could have done more. If you do have that thought then you should look at increasing the weight.  As mentioned in a previous post it's a great idea to take note of your reps/weights during each training session so when you train next you can look at possibly increasing the number of reps/weights to build your strength. This is also a fantastic way of tracking your progress.

A huge advantage to weight training as a girl is that you'll start to develop curves in the right places which creates an hourglass figure.  Strength training isn't for everyone but it works for me.  I don't spend hours doing cardio, in fact right now the most cardio I get is walking to and from the gym yet I'm constantly seeing results so why would I change the way I train?

Plus at the end of the day there is no better feeling that being able to lift heavier than some guys.

A. x

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Sunday, 16 October 2016

"ALL YOU NEED IS SLEEP" - TIPS TO HELP YOU SLEEP TONIGHT!

"Just a sleepy girl with a really busy schedule!"

Getting enough sleep each night is just as important as training hard and eating correctly.  Sleep is so valuable in order to reset and restore your energy levels and so you should be aiming to get around 8-9 hours per night.

For the last few months I've been struggling with tiredness which has really affected my training sessions, my productivity levels and my mood as my energy levels just aren't always there.
Some people fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, whilst others lie there for hours counting sheep.

Having a bedtime routine that you regularly follow can help you prepare for bed to ensure you get a good night's sleep.

1. Have a bubble bath
Having a warm (not hot) bubble bath a couple of hours before bed will help your body relax and you'll begin to wind down.  Although your body temperature will increase, by the time you go to bed it will have cooled down again.

2. Cut out the caffeine
Cut down on caffeine especially in the evening as it's only going to make it harder for you to get to sleep.  Try swapping a cup of tea or coffee for a warm milky drink or camomile tea instead.

3. Create an ambience
Lighting a fragrant candle in your bedroom an hour before going to sleep will help create a relaxing ambience but just remember to blow it out before you go to sleep.  You could also try using The Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray.  This will slightly fragrance your pillows and help calm you once you've climbed into bed.

3. Switch it off
These days we all seem to be glued to our phones, whether it's to scroll through social media, shop online or read articles.  However, the bright light will signal your brain to stay awake and alert which is the opposite of what you want it to do.  Half an hour before you're about to head to sleep either put your phone on silent or turn it off.  If notification alerts keep going off then it's more likely to break your sleep pattern throughout the night.

5. Time to relax
If you're bad for overthinking and trying to put the world to rights when attempting to fall asleep (guilty) then why not try listening to relaxation music.  It stops your mind from wandering and instead helps you relax and fall asleep quicker.  An app that I've found recently that really works is Sleep Genius.

4. Write it down 
We all live such busy, hectic lives these days and can find it hard to switch off.  If you're stressed or worried about something and it's stopping you from falling asleep or waking you during the night, then try keeping a notebook next to your bed and write it down.  Organising your thoughts like this means they won't play on your mind as much and instead you can tackle the list you've made the next day.

Try not to worry about not being able to get to sleep or waking during the night as this will only make things worse, instead keep a positive mindset.

I hope my suggestions help you get a great night's sleep and you wake up feeling wonderful!

A.x
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Sunday, 9 October 2016

"BE STRONGER THAN YOUR EXCUSES" - TIPS FOR STAYING MOTIVATED!


I can't believe Monday is on the horizon already... why does the weekend go so fast?!

It's a new week and if you've had a bad weekend of missing training sessions and having "snaccidents" (eating more food than you originally planned) then this is a great time to get back on track.  In order to reach your fitness goals you need to stay motivated, however from time to time everyone's motivation levels can drop.  With winter just around the corner and the dark mornings creeping in, you may find yourself struggling even more to drag yourself to the gym.

I get asked a lot how I keep myself motivated, so here are my tips for staying on track.

1. Set yourself goals
Like everyone, you may have a final goal you're looking to achieve, however I would suggest making yourself a small goal that's realistic and achievable in a shorter time frame.  If you give yourself over ambitious goals you're more likely to throw in the towel when you don't achieve them as quickly. Your goal could be anything from losing an inch off your waist, squatting a certain weight or running 10km.

2. Schedule your workout 
The saying goes that a workout takes up 4% of your day and so there's no excuse that you don't have time.  Once you start scheduling exercise into your routine you'll find it so much easier to keep up the training.  Some people like to train first thing in the morning whilst others at night, so work out what time of day suits you best and fits around your daily schedule.

3. Mix up your workouts 
I always have 4-5 workouts as part of my training program to help mix things up so I'm not doing the same thing day in, day out.  Having a mixture of workouts means that I concentrate on training certain parts of my body and can alternate these as and when I like. Your training program should usually be updated every 6-8 weeks as by this point your body is starting to become familiar to the exercises and you'll start getting bored doing the same thing.

4. Take note
It helps to make a note of what you did in each gym session.  By doing this you can revert back to see what you've previously achieved and try to increase your reps and/or weight for each exercise.  This is also a great way for looking back and seeing how far you've come.

5. Find a training buddy 
I prefer putting my headphones in and training on my own, however having a training buddy is a great way to motivate yourself and ensure you stick to your training program.  Exercising with a friend means you're less likely to skip a workout and instead are more likely to push each other harder to reach your goals.

6. Don't over train 
Now this is something I was previously bad for doing as I found it really hard to take rest days. However, I can't stress to you enough how important rest days are in order for your body and muscles to recover.  Depending on the type of training you do, I would recommend having 2-3 rest days a week.

7. Buy new activewear 
Feeling fantastic will instantly give you more motivation to exercise.  Wearing a flattering pair of leggings or an on trend vest will make you want to work up a sweat and you should love your gym wardrobe just as much (if not more) than your everyday wardrobe.  With an obsession for activewear this is my #1 self motivator.

8. Imagine hitting your goal 
There may be days when you don't feel like training and can't seem to move from the couch, but just think how much worse you'll feel when you've got to slip into your favourite dress or bikini knowing that you gave up on your fitness goal.  Reaching your goal may be a slow process and results don't happen overnight but the hard work you put in will really pay off and that's when it's all worth it.

"So when you feel like quitting think about why you started!"

A. x


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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

MY TOP TIPS FOR CHOOSING A PERSONAL TRAINER!



Finding a personal trainer that's going to work for you can be hard and at the end of the day you want to pick someone who is going to kick your ass into shape but also be supportive in helping you to achieve your fitness goals.  With so many personal trainers out there, you want to choose someone who is an investment rather than feeling like you've thrown your money out the window, so it's definitely worth shopping around to find someone that will fit your needs.

I've been using personal trainers on and off for the last 5 years and although they can be expensive, in the long run it's definitely worth it.

Here are my top tips when choosing a personal trainer.

1. Certifications
This is probably one of the most important tips as anyone can put the letters "PT" after their name, but you want someone that knows exactly what they're doing otherwise they could cause you more harm than good. So look at what qualifications they hold but also look at their experience.  Some trainers may be more experienced in powerlifting/bodybuilding whilst others in running, so have a think about what it is you want to achieve as I would suggest going with a PT who is more specialized in the area you are looking to train in.

2. Personality
When looking at your options it's a good idea to meet with the trainer you're interested in for a chat and/or taster session to help you decide if you're comfortable around them.  You want to choose someone who you get on with as you'll be spending a lot of 1-2-1 time with them and so you want to create a bond that will help you stay focused and engaged during your sessions.  You also want to be able to trust them and know that they are invested in you and your goals.

Look at it as quality over quantity.... there is absolutely no point choosing the male personal trainer who's a straight 10 if he's not going to make you a straight 10 too and whose personality sucks the life out of you!

3. Professional Attitude
If your trainer is going to stand a flex their muscles in the mirror every 5 minutes throughout your session to make sure they're still there then this isn't the trainer for you.  You also don't want a trainer who gets distracted easily and wanders off to speak to every other person in the gym.  Choose a trainer who is focused throughout the session so when you leave you feel like you've been pushed to your limit and really achieved something.

4. Your Goal 
If you go to a trainer without a goal, there's no way in determining quality.  You should have a specific goal in mind so you can grill personal trainers on how they would propose getting you there. If you don't have a goal, have a lengthy chat with a personal trainer before starting so you can both come to an agreed goal and time scale.  Once decided you will then have a clear idea of what is expected from you and can have regular conversations together with regards to your progress.

5. Training Style
Each personal trainer in the gym will have their own training technique and you need to decide if this also works for you.  Some trainers will gently encourage you, but still push you whilst others will shout at you as if you're in the army.  I personally find that being shouted at is not encouraging at all... in fact it has the opposite effect and makes me demotivated.  The trainer should also be able to adapt the session around your needs.  Some people are in need of a coach, whilst others may use the session to vent and move around after a long day sitting at a desk. There is no point in a trainer coaching you through a complex workout if you're there to unwind.

6. Client Feedback
When you first meet with a trainer ask if they have any client feedback or testimonials.  This is a great way in showing what a trainer can achieve, especially if they have clients that have achieved similar goals to what you're aiming for.  As the saying goes there's "proof in the pudding".

7. Fitness Knowledge
Your trainer should have a fountain of knowledge in their field and if they don't this is a warning sign. When they set a training program for you they should be able to explain why certain exercises have been included in order to help you achieve your goals and certainly don't choose a PT who thinks eating 1000 calories a day is sufficient.  My personal trainer is very knowledgeable and so when I ask questions (which is a lot! Yes I'm needy!) I know I'm always going to get an in depth answer.  A personal trainer shouldn't get annoyed with you asking lots of questions as it shows you're keen to learn and progress and it's helped me to build my knowledge over the years.

8. Tracking Progress
I'm a huge fan of taking photos and measurements in order to track my progress as small changes happen and you may not realize until you compare against photos.  Your trainer should want to know what your weight, body fat and measurements are on a regular basis so that if you're not progressing they can realign your program or look at your diet.  They may also ask for progress photos but more so if your goal is aesthetics and only if you're happy to send them.

9. Cost & Availability
Now-a-days we all live quite busy lives and seem to be on the go 24/7 so ask your trainer what their availability is.  Do they work early mornings, late nights and weekends and will they fit into your schedule? It's also worth asking how many clients they have as you'll want to know they'll be able to fit you in.  Also ask what the cost is going to be so you know that it works around your budget and you're not paying over the odds.

Have fun finding your perfect personal trainer match!

A. x

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

WELCOME TO "THE LUMINOUS LIFE"

After months of planning and prepping I can finally share with you my blog, "THE LUMINOUS LIFE".

Fitness has become a main influence in my life over the last few years and my go-to stress buster, endorphin releaser and general spare time filler. I started out as most in their twenties, just wanting to become more body confident and look good in a bikini, but now my obsession has evolved and given me the motivation to overhaul my lifestyle, eating habits and general outlook on life.

I don't profess to be a personal trainer, nutritionist or dietitian.  However, I am a fitness, fashion and healthy lifestyle enthusiast who always tries to strike the right balance between hitting PB's in the gym and spending my Sunday eating burgers and ice cream.

This blog is a home for sharing my fitness, style, food and lifestyle scribbles and I hope you enjoy.

Amy x


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MY TOP ACTIVEWEAR BRANDS FOR A GREAT GYM WARDROBE!


"Be that girl that gets told time and time again, omg I love your leggings!"

I'm not going to lie, I am obsessed with activewear and I mean literally obsessed!

It's so true that having a great activewear wardrobe inspires and motivates you to achieve your fitness goals... in fact nothing motivates me more.  There's just something about a great fitting pair of leggings, bright trainers or a trendy sports bra that makes you want to work up a sweat.

Whilst most people like to blend in at the gym, I find it the perfect time to stand out and feel confident (you've got to own it right?) and with athleisure being a huge trend that looks set to stay, there are so many brands to choose from.

With an extensive and ever growing activewear wardrobe, I get asked a lot "where did you get your leggings?" or people saying to me "I love your outfit", so I thought I'd share with you my top activewear brands that will make you look and feel the part whilst working out.


1. NIKE 
Now this is probably the most obvious brand, but they just get it right!  The activewear they offer is edgy, fun and most importantly functional yet stylish.
Out of all the brands they are probably one of the more expensive, but their products last and that's why I like them.  They are my go to for leggings especially as there are so many bright prints to choose from and most importantly they're not see through.... I mean we've all been there squatting away only to realise the whole gym can see your ass!!!
My top pick leggings from Nike would be the Legendary Tight Fit; with the high waist they create a flattering fit.


2. H&M 
This high street retailer have really stepped up their activewear range lately and their Victory range is right up my street as it's simple yet stylish with a hint of sport luxe.
Their matching sports bra and leggings sets look great paired with a dropped armhole vest or if you're brave enough to bare then on their own.  With a selection of solid colours and seasonal prints you can still be on trend at just a fraction of the price of Lululemon, Sweaty Betty etc.


3. AIMN SPORTSWEAR 
This is a Swedish brand that I discovered about a year ago and although their range isn't extensive, their products are far from being dull - in fact if you want to stand out this is the perfect brand for you as the colours used in their eye-catching prints are happy, bright and playful.  Their leggings are a great fit and do wonders for your bum, plus their sports bras are stylish yet comfortable which is a bonus.  If you're looking for activewear that is different from everyone else in the gym then this is your go to brand.


4. FOREVER 21 
Forever 21 definitely doesn't disappoint in the activewear department and what's more is their range is affordable, with tops starting from £5 and leggings from £11.  They have so many variations of leggings and their tops are a little more interesting than your basic vest which means you can take your gym outfit to brunch with the girls.

Now that I've shared with you my top activewear brands, HAPPY SHOPPING!

A. x









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