Sunday, 27 November 2016

ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN


The saying goes that abs are made in the kitchen and so the truth be told that no matter how many times a week you workout you can never out train a bad diet.

No matter what your end goal is your diet is just as, if not more important than your training program and the secret in helping you achieve your goal is to "meal prep like a boss" as Joe Wicks, The Body Coach would say. We all live such busy lifes and as nice as it would be, we don't always have time to spend hours in the kitchen when we get home from work. However, by preparing some or all of your meals for the week ahead it will not only make your life easier but will help you get closer to achieving your fitness goals.  Remember "if you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail", so here are some of my tips.

1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN 
As the name suggests planning is key and so it's a good idea to set a few hours aside one day a week to cook up a storm in the kitchen and prepare for the week ahead.  I usually find a Sunday works best for me but you need to plan around your lifestyle and what works best for you.

Write down what you're planning to eat for each meal for the week and decide if you're going to prep for every meal or just lunches/dinners, breakfast/lunches etc.  If you're new to the whole idea of meal prepping then I suggest you plan ahead for 2-3 days so it's not too overwhelming. For some of you, you might only prep lunches and snacks if you're going to be home for breakfast and dinner. However, I find it easier to prep every meal as it keeps me organised and saves time, but again fit your meal plans around your lifestyle.

You will also need to make a list of snacks that you plan on nibbling throughout the day as this will prevent any "snaccidents" from happening... yes we've all been there.  When deciding on snacks take into account what time of day you will be training so you can eat the right type of food pre-workout and post workout.

2. KEEP IT INTERESTING
When choosing recipes for the week ahead I swear by Joe Wick's The Body Coach books and Clean Eating Alice for recipe inspiration (before you ask I've not been paid to recommend these books). Just because you're eating healthily, it doesn't mean it needs to be boring.  You should enjoy what you eat and so using recipe books will help mix things up a little.  If you cook food you enjoy rather than sticking to plain chicken and rice everyday you're more likely to stick to your plan.
Remember the meals you choose to cook regardless of whether you use a recipe book or not need to be balanced with the correct macros (protein, carbs and fat) and need to be nutritious.  Below are the ingredients I tend to stick to.

Lean Protein: Chicken, Turkey, Fish (any), Eggs, Beef (sub 7% fat)
Carbohydrates: Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Quinoa, Potatoes, Wholewheat Pasta, Oats
Fats: Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Avocado, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter
Vegetables: Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Lettuce, Green Peppers, Green Beans, Onion, & Cucumbers

Tip: Try and come up with meals that you can make in large batches and pop in the freezer; for example turkey burgers or chilli.  However, remember to use lean mince.   

3. STICK TO THE LIST
Once you've decided on all the meals you're planning for the week, make a list of the ingredients you require before hitting the supermarket.  By doing this you will be less inclined to throw random items into your basket then realise you've bought the whole of aisle 4 and have to hope for the best when you get home.  Note that spices will become your friend and will help keep things exciting, so it may be worthwhile stocking up on these.

4. COOK UP A STORM 
Now that you've got all your ingredients take a look through your recipes and decide if there are any ingredients from each that can be cooked together.  Can a few chicken breasts be cooked at the same time?  Can you cook a number of vegetables together? How much time you spend in the kitchen is entirely up to you but you want to allow enough time to cook all the food and snacks you need for the next few days but not too long that you get bored and give up.

5. BE A TUPPERWARE KING/QUEEN
Preparing all your meals means you will become the king or queen of tupperware boxes.  If you haven't already got some, go out and buy some in a selection of sizes.  Once all your meals are prepared you are going to need these boxes to divide them up.  At this point it's useful to get a set of scales out so you can weigh everything.  This will make it easier to track your macros for the day to ensure you are hitting them and getting the nutrients that your body needs.

Finally, once all your meals have been divided up, ensure they are kept in either the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh.

Have fun meal prepping like a boss!

A.x


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Sunday, 13 November 2016

MY TOP TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR WORKOUT!


Picture it... you're heading to the gym in your favourite gym outfit with a motivating playlist ready to get a sweat on, yet you leave feeling like you could have achieved so much more.  Well you're not alone, it happens to most of us and there are so many reasons as to why we leave feeling this way.  It could be because you're stressed/tired, you're unsure of how to use the equipment or you just have so many things going on in your head that are distracting you.

At the end of the day when you really think about it all of the above are just excuses, so I thought I'd share with you my top tips on how to get "in the zone" and to help you get the most out of your workouts every time you hit the gym.

1. Plan, plan, plan!
If you don't have a plan then you're most likely to wander around the gym aimlessly from one piece of equipment to another. Creating a workout plan so you know exactly what it is you're aiming for will help stop this from happening and instead will help you get closer to your training goal.  A trip to the gym without a plan is only going to turn into a waste of your time.

2. Stick to a schedule!
You need to get into a habit of scheduling a workout into your daily routine.  Once you do this things will become a whole lot easier and you'll begin to keep on track without even realising.  Decide when's best for you to workout; is it mornings, afternoons or evenings?  You will also need to decide how many times a week you can train, remembering that you should be having at least 1 rest day a week.
Once you know your gym schedule you can allocate different workouts to each day.  For example on a Monday you could train legs/glutes, Tuesday arm/abs and so on.

3. Fuel your body! 
It's so important to eat before you train as this will help fuel your workout and improve your energy levels .  Planning a pre-workout meal or snack 30-60 mins before you train such as porridge with protein powder, a bagel with eggs or just a banana will help give you an energy boost so you get the most out of your training session.  Just make sure you don't eat too close to working out otherwise you may end up being sick!

4. Work harder!
Having a motivating playlist will only help you get through your session and make it easier for you to push yourself.  Fitness is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and the saying goes "your body won't go where your mind won't push it" and by that I mean if you do 12 reps but know you could do more then push your body to 15.  Pushing yourself will only help you get closer to your end goal...It's mind over matter.

5. Watch the clock! 
No one wants to spend their entire evening in the gym after a long day at work so it's a good idea to manage your time.  Doing a 1 hour workout can be just as, if not more effective than a 2 hour workout if you use your time efficiently.  With a workout plan in place, time your rest periods between each set/exercise so that you're only resting for 30-60 seconds instead of 5 minutes.  This will help keep your muscles moving.

6. Stretch it out! 
At the end of your workout it's so important to spend 5-10 minutes stretching and/or foam rolling. So pop on a chilled playlist and stretch it out before leaving as this will help reduce muscle soreness. Lastly, having a protein shake or protein bar after your workout is what your body needs in order to help build your muscles back.

A.x


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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

NO SUGAR. NO SALT. IT'S TIME TO CUT - PART ONE


For the last 10 weeks I've been training using a program aimed to build as much strength and muscle as possible.  My workouts have all been weight based with no cardio; mainly concentrating on a mixture of isolated and compound exercises.  Due to the intensity of the workouts, I've been training for 4 days a week with 3 rest days and trust me I've needed every single one of them.
The aim at the end of the 10 weeks was to have built as much muscle as possible and so this meant carefully monitoring my progress through measurements, my body fat % and progress photos.  By doing this it was easier to spot areas that weren't progressing or growing as quickly as others, for example my back which meant I could spend extra time trying to engage these muscles.  Three weeks prior to this cut my abs and teeny tiny baby obliques started to show through which wasn't part of the plan but I just had to go with it.... and to be honest I wasn't complaining.

The changes I've seen in my body/strength in such a short space of time have been amazing and it just goes to show if you put the hard work in it will pay off.  By comparing my progress photos from 10 weeks ago to now, it's clear to see muscle growth even if I am a little puffy... so now it's time to cut! When I use the term "cut" or "cutting" what I mean is that it's time to burn some of the fat in order for the muscles I've been building to show through.

This is my first proper cut and luckily I have a trainer to coach me throughout so I know exactly when to taper my carbs and water intake as the week's go on.  This week I'll spend time cleaning everything up and trying to get into a routine of eating as simply as possible and increasing my water intake to 2-2.5litres a day.  This is going to be a shock to my system as I LOVE food and have a pretty big appetite.  Right now I'm carrying a water baby and feel bigger than I did a week ago, however I've been rest assured this is all part of the process. 

During this training program I've eaten lots of food (yes you need to eat in order to grow muscle) and have played around with different types of food to see what works for my body and what doesn't.  I would add and remove foods from my diet depending on the affect they were having on me.  By doing this I've established that a 40-30-30 breakdown of macros works wonders and so for the first part of my cut my calories will remain the same and this is the breakdown I'll be sticking to.

I haven't planned this cut well as I have a lot going on in November/start of December but I'm prepared to give it my best attempt.  As I'm not cutting for a competition I'll allow myself to have a slice of cake on my birthday, because it's not your birthday if you don't eat cake right? However, it will mean I won't be allowed any other simple carbs that day. 

My current weight is 61kg, not that I like to go by the scales and my body fat is 26% which has risen quite significantly since I started my training program but I'm ok with that.

I'm aiming for this cut to last between 4-6 weeks as Christmas is sneaking up and I definitely don't have the willpower to be doing this over the festive period.  I would have to be crazy to do that!!

I'll be tracking my progress throughout the 4-6 weeks here on my blog and also on my Instagram page the_luminouslife so for now it's goodbye to burgers, pizza and ice cream and hello to my hard work and determination paying off.... well fingers crossed.

A.x
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