Beauty From Within- Food & Fitness

Hey guys, so I’ve been threatening to write this for awhile now and I’m finally getting around to it. As I’ve mentioned before, I think fitness and beauty are heavily interlinked. To feel and look good on the outside, you must take care of what’s going on inside as well and I really do think that starting a new fitness regime and healthy eating plan is almost like a journey of self-discovery.

In just over two months I have managed to completely change how I view things. I went from a couch potato spending waaaaay too much time on JustEat.ie to a person who actually enjoys all kinds of activities and eating good, decent food. For real, I was stuck in a crazy rut for months (maybe just over a year actually) and gradually that began to wear me down. So one day I just decided to get up and go for a run. There was no crazy thinking behind it (actually I’m pretty sure I’d just finished eating another microwaveable dinner) and I decided to just jog down the road to the post office. Afterwards, I was in utter shock at how much my fitness had actually slipped because years ago I used to be that gym rat everyone hated and somehow all that fell by the wayside when I entered the “real world” and got a decent job.

As an (important) side note before I get into the fitness/ healthy eating spiel, everyone’s dietary and exercise requirements are different and I am in no way preaching myself to be 100% healthy. I currently eat between 1,200- 1,800 calories during the weekdays with the plan I’ve created for myself and I do pay careful attention to macros as well. How many calories I eat depends on my exercise burn and on some days that can be as much as 1,000 (which means more snacks for me yippee!) This might not work for everyone of course so have a play around with this yourself- if you’re burning less eat less, if you’re burning more eat more etc. It’s all about balance! I’ve included calorie counts for the meals below for anyone who might be interested. They’re just meal ideas really that you might find interesting. I’m hoping it might give someone out there some inspiration because if I can change my life around, anyone can! So without further ado, here’s a snapshot of an average weekday for me.

Boom! It’s Monday

After a weekend of a few indulgences (and a few liquid ones too), the last thing I really want to do is work out. Let’s be real, it can be hard! But once you get through the first day and the second and the third… it gradually begins to get easier. After a month passes, you’ll actually look forward to your sessions. But Mondays? No, they always suck! Best thing you can do is just get on with it and that’s exactly what I do.

Now I know everyone has their own preferences about how they exercise and when. For me, I actually prefer doing my routine in the evenings because I find I have more energy then. Plus it’s nice going to bed after a lovely hot shower! But whatever works for you, just do it your way and if that means getting up at seven in the morning (heaven forbid!) to do it then so be it. I just love my sleep too much.

Yawn

So I usually wake up about 8.30am and I just get ready for work straight away. I always set the alarm for 7am but that just never happens. But hey, the good intentions are there! I usually pack up breakfast and lunch (if I have groceries lying around) and bring them in with me then for 9.30am. So first thing’s first, it’s breakfast time.

Breakfast at 10

I like to stick to the old reliable when it comes to this one: porridge. It’s the most delicious thing ever and I think I’ve perfected my way of preparation. So get yourself a decent sized bowl, warm up your porridge and sprinkle a good amount of cinnamon over it all. Next, get yourself some Greek natural yogurt and spread it across. For extra sweetness, I usually pop a tablespoon of either almond butter or bounty spread right in the middle where it can melt a little. To top it all off, a large banana cut into chunks and placed around the bowl et voilà, your breakfast is served! Other variations can include linseed sprinkled over everything with a good dollop of honey. A strong coffee with some almond milk with this will really set you on your way to a happy, healthy day.

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Play around and see what variation works best for you!

For those that may be calorie conscious (and I say this because I’m still in the process of shedding a few more pounds) this mixture if done the way I do it adds up to about 400. It’s good and hearty and it will keep you full until snack time looms.

Snack at 12

Sometimes I’m not even hungry but you know when you’re having one of those days and all you want is comfort food? Well, it happens me a lot and there’s nothing wrong with it really! I try my best to keep the snacks semi-healthy so that I can really get a decent lunch soon after. My go-to snacks would be these chocolate covered rice cakes in Tesco and these amazing nibbles from the Nakd range. Actually anything from this brand tastes amazing so if you haven’t tried them out, do give them a shot! Three of these rice cakes and a pack of the coconut bliss comes to nearly 400 calories.

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For when you want something nice

Lunch at 2 

On the days that I do bring lunch in, it usually consists of soup by The Happy Pear and a pitta sandwich, with maybe some fruit thrown in the mix as well. Nothing too exciting but when I “accidentally” forget to bring it in (or I’m just not bothered preparing in advance) I usually aim for the sushi bar. Now I know what you’re going to say… it’s full of salt! Well, it kind of depends on the sushi you get and of course, the amount of soy sauce you use (if any). But my favourite sushi is by the brand Oishii. Their Sakana sushi collection and Superior sushi collection are actually so amazing and pretty healthy too. I tend to stay away from the wasabi and ginger because it’s just a kick that I don’t want in my food! The best part about eating this for lunch? It’s filling but it doesn’t leave you with a sickly, dead feeling in your stomach. Plus, anything is better than eating a boring salad right?

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The Superior Sushi Selection by Oishii

In here I have nigiri rice shapes with fresh salmon, prawn and crabmeat. There’s also some sushi rolls, salmon and prawn tempura maki and of course… soy sauce! All this comes to about 441 calories if you want to keep track of it.

Home by 5.30

So I’ve gotten through the work day, I’m still feeling full enough that I don’t need to devour dinner straight away so I usually chill out for a half hour or chat with the guys at home. I might have a snack on some hummus and a plain rice cake or something like that, maybe a yogurt raking in another 200 calories depending on the day. One thing I forgot to mention is that throughout the day I’ve been drinking a tonne of water (I’d usually have a good 2 litres down by now) and this is very important for the next step…

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Snacking the right way

Motivation to Exercise

Around the 6 o’clock mark, I usually feel the itch to exercise or just do something active. For me, it’s a great stress reliever and the feel good hormones come flooding in both during and after a good workout and I just can’t get enough of these! Step one for wanting to work out is finding the right gear. If I’m doing it at home, I usually wear a sports bra and top with a pair of shorts (like the ones below) with a comfy pair of sneakers. If it’s outside for a jog or a hike, I stick with leggings, sports bra and a warm top (just in case it’s a bit chilly at the start). But really, it doesn’t matter if your workout gear is brand name or from Penneys; as long as you like it and it entices you to want to get up and move that’s all you need it for. And I’m not just saying this it really does work! Ever since I picked up some new bits I’ve been even more compelled to do things and get out so if you’re a bit on the fence about it all, maybe just try out a pair of new shorts and see how you feel. 

If you are shopping, Topshop is actually a good place to hit right now. I got several pairs of plain shorts in there for only €13. The reason I went with these as opposed to Penneys or Dunnes? Well, I figure I’ll be washing them every day and I need decent fabric that will be able to withstand all that and actually last a decent amount of time. So far they’re really holding up and I got them months ago. As well as that, they have a great Adidas collection in there so if you’re looking for nice sportswear, hit them up.

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Left: Sporty Neppy Runner Shorts in Grey €13 | Right: Slim Fit Shorts by Adidas Originals €29

For sports bras, I mean you can get them anywhere. I got a really comfy Puma one that I wear regularly enough and it was on sale which was an added bonus (see previous link). If you really want to splurge on leggings, check out the Reebok ones below that I got recently enough. I actually saw them originally being worn by Rozanna Purcell and I fell in love with the design straight away. They will set you back €35 in Lifestyle Sports but in all honesty they are totally worth it. They are super tight and have a really soft feel to them, perfect for a squat session!

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Great for running in too

Sneakers are also very important and if you have awkward feet like me, then you will need a decent pair to avoid injury. I usually end up going for Adidas or Nike, just because they provide maximum comfort for my feet. For at home workouts, I use these Adidas Originals ZX Flux in black. For outside jogging, I stick with these Nike Roshe One in all white because they offer great support for my arches and it just feels like you’re running on a cloud. Follow the links to check them out and a pro tip: kids sizes go up to a 5.5 now so if you happen to be that size (like me) and want to save €40- €50 off your sneakers… go for it!

The Actual Routine

Right so you’ve your clothes on and you’re ready to do this! What next? Well cardio is a good start. For me, I love the cross trainer, so much so that I decided to buy one for the home. I suppose for me, I wasn’t ready to face the gym just yet and I liked the idea of being able to do whatever from the comfort of my own home. I’m still that way now, I don’t think I’ll be stepping foot in a gym for a long time because I’ve found what works for me and I’m happy to do just that. If you want to have a look at home gym equipment, you can do so at Argos. It’s where I got my cross trainer from and honestly I will never look back! 

A good session on this will really get your heart pumping. I like to work in sprints so to warm up I do about ten minutes at an average pace. I then pick it up and do intervals (one minute really high intensity and two minutes moderate) and I’d do this on and off for about 30-45 minutes. I use a five minute cool down period then to top it all off. Now I’m not saying I do this every day exactly but it’s what I aim for especially on a Monday just to set me on the right track for the week.

After this, I do some dumbbell training. I particularly enjoy this because we all know that we can’t train to lose fat in a particular area (cough, stomach!, cough) but what we can do is spot train to gain muscle in certain areas. So I do different moves such as a one-arm swing, one-arm overhead press, goblet squats, standing scap raise etc. Basically anything I want to do at that time I do it. If I’m not too tired by the end of all that I might do some crunches, lunges, sit ups and a nice cool off then with stretches. It takes about an hour in total of my day (sometimes it can be a lot less, even just twenty minutes depending on what I’m doing) but I feel great after!

Dinner by 7.15

I try and eat everything before 8pm and that’s just a basic rule of mine that has worked for me over the past two months because I don’t go to bed feeling all bloated. I try and pack in the protein after a weights session because it’s really important to nurture your body after doing something like that. Ideally, this meal should be a mix of muscle-building protein and energy re-fueling carbohydrates. 

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Yes, you don’t need to give up carbs!

So I might have grilled salmon (if I haven’t had sushi) or I might have some pasta with  pesto and a veggie burger… it depends on the day really and how much energy I have. This will usually add up to between 350 and 400 calories. I must admit though that some days I just get so lazy and I might just cook up some eggs or porridge and leave it at that with a protein bar (awful I know, but we all can’t be perfect!) I just feel like if I’m hungry, I’ll eat loads and if not I’ll eat something regardless. 

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Here we have: salmon, rice and quinoa salad, red/ yellow sweet pepper strips

Treats???

I do love a hot chocolate and honestly is there really a better way to finish your day than to have a nice, hot drink to take to the couch with you or bed? I love the Options brand that you can make with hot water because you don’t have to feel to guilty afterwards and they really do fix any sweet cravings. At 38 calories a pop, they’re well worth it. So go on and treat yourself, you’ve a long week ahead until the next weekend comes around. 

Bedtime by 11… or 12ish

Sometimes you just can’t get an early night and that’s okay too. I try and get to sleep at a reasonable time but Rick and Morty (below) marathons just keep me up till the wee hours of the morning! But after a good workout and hot shower, you can’t help but feel better. And I suppose that’s what this is all about. So if you think you might be stuck in a rut or just in a similar situation to what I was only a few months ago, just know that if you tweak a few things here and there, you can really start to feel better in yourself in no time.

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Head over to Netflix now if you want a laugh

The Results

Whether your goal is weight loss or simply getting fit, the end result is always the same: your mental health and attitude will change for the better. There is no point in starting on a new journey with a negative attitude. There is no point in saying “No, I can’t do that” or “I’ll start tomorrow.” There is no point in beating yourself up about your failures or your losses. There is no point in losing energy trying to change the things you can’t about your life. Above all, there is no point in being stuck in that rut.

I’m not saying don’t get takeaways and I’m definitely not saying that you need to do all this to be happy. What I’m saying is, I’ve found a way to get myself back to where I was before and I’m happy enough now to pass that information on so maybe someone out there might read this and relate. I never thought that diet and exercise could have such an impact on how you think, how you dress, how you react to things… but it does. And I’m happy to have made the change!

Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you’ve ever found yourself in a rut, just know there’s light (and good food!) at the end of the tunnel.

-RTG

 

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