Monthly Archives: March 2015

Baking Roundup

If I blogged every time I baked some delicious protein noms then I’d have to create a separate blog for them, so gonna attempt to condense them down to a weekly/fortnightly blog post.  I’ll link recipes where I can, however I tend to tweak the recipe I’ve used.  any alterations will be mentioned though.

PROTEIN BAKING SUNDAY is officially now a thing, so we’ll begin there:

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First up, Banana Nut Muffins, courtesy of Protein Pow! For mine I used 2 tablespoons of cashew butter & 1 tablespoon of peanut Butter.  It will mess with the Macros, but I shouldn’t imagine it’d be too much difference.  Mine were cupcake sized, as opposed to muffins.  Pictured above with some chocolate spread on the top.

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Next (also from Protein Pow!) are Mini blueberry muffins – they’re not on the site, but solely on the app (which is a purchasable download) Er, oats, protein, egg, coconut flour & blueberries. Her recipe states to place two blueberries on top before going in to the oven, but I chose to cut mine up & add them to the mix.

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And finally, baked oatmeal.  Sadly, I googled for a recipe on my phone & cannot find it when I search for it again.  I do remember what was in it though!  Oats, protein powder, coconut, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon & chopped dates.  It went in a loaf tin and baked for what felt like forever, but wow! So good when it came out.  It was my breakfast for a good few days after baking!

Sunday before that:

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MINI cashew & banana muffins – exactly the same as the ones mentioned above, but I made these in miniature.

Then, because I’m not a massive creature of habit (& because a friend linked the website so I *had* to try something from it,) yesterday I made lemon cookies!

I added poppy seeds to mine because Lemon & poppy is amazing! These are (so far) the closest to “proper cookie” kind of texture that I’ve found so far.  I made two batches, one with poppy seeds & one without.  I prefer the one with but they were both incredible.  I may attempt a carrot cake version in the future!


Foam Rollers – The Modern Day Torture Device You Should Be Using

Foam rolling is a fairly new thing for me, before I moved to LSF Gym I’d never heard of them.  Andy suggested using it to help release any muscle knots from my cycling.  Sweet baby jeebus!!  It was gooooooooooooooooood but it also hurt; adding additional hand pressure just amplifies the pain/pleasure that emanates from these little rolls of plastic.  I now own my own little torture roll & have combined breakfast eating with rolling before.

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There are many types of foam rollers, some are harder than others – these hurt more & some have grid/nodule patterns on them.  When I started foam rolling I’d opt for the softer version, however the one I purchased was a medium density foam, because I’d used the harder ones in the gym and they’re evil – good evil but not something I’d want to use all the time.  The one in the image is identical to mine.

Foam rolling has a posh name; SMR meaning Self Myofascial Release.  Essentially, it’s like having a massage without paying for a therapist every day to help get blood flowing through your muscles, relieves soreness as well as stiffness.  It’s good to do as part of your warm up, however I tend to use mine if I have epic DOMS, or if my back/hips are more angry than usual.  I usually stick to IT band, glutes & have recently started doing my quads.  I need to do my lats after doing some heinous dumbbell moves yesterday.

Apparently you can use them for more than just rolling to help ease muscles – however I’m not going to comment on that as, aside from using mine as a little seat from time to time, I’ve used it for its original purpose…..sort of.  I don’t do full body rolls with mine, but I have seen people do them in the gym.  I might reach the stage where I feel a full roll is necessary before training, however for now it’s my DOMS helper.

I found this pretty helpful video on Livestrong Women for a full roll:

As she says in the video:

  • It will hurt
  • Pause if you find a knot
  • Hold your form
  • Never roll over a joint

They really are evil little devices & will probably be the most “ouchy” part of your training, but you feel so much better afterwards!  I’ll be honest, I wondered what the point of them was when they were introduced to me, but I’ve never needed to question Andy’s methods; I’ll tell him he’s mean – but he always has the clients well-being in the forefront of his mind, so I do as I’m told.  I’m glad I was introduced to the evilness of foam rolling.  It’s helped SO much!

I bought mine locally from TK Maxx, but I know places like Argos, John Lewis & sports stores sell them – you could get one on-line but I prodded and poked all the rollers in store til I found one that was a good density.


Training With Prior Issues/New Injuries

I figure, that due to almost rendering myself unable to train yesterday due to massive pressure on my left side (that I ignored) it’d be prudent to make a post like this, as all of us at some point or another will suffer some level of injury that hinders our training; whether it be for a few days or a few months – it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the basics for training with injuries/issues.

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I’ll use myself as an example; I have a series of issues with my back & sometimes it can flare up & render me to an almost immobile state – over the weekend I felt my left hip beginning to burn; the first sign of more pain to come.  It must’ve been bad as I had terribly interrupted sleep on Sunday, however I still went to the gym on Monday. I was doing ok until I got to 40kg barbell squats, did one….felt a pull across my entire lower back & made a noise that may have been heard by hades himself…I heard it & I had headphones in.  TBF, should’ve know as after I walked up the stairs I could feel my hips rubbing.  Sounds gross & painful??  Yeah, it is.  Anyhoo…..I was training on my own.  SHIT!  What do I do??  The urge to run downstairs, cobble my gear together & get the fuck out of the gym was my first thought.  However, I seem to be growing as an individual, so I racked the bar & attempted to compose myself.  I managed to (while thinking lots of encouraging things) do another one before I decided that it was probably wiser to drop the weight down, so I took 10kg off & did 10 reps before deciding that it may not be wise to continue with more reps.

Because of this, I began to wonder what would I do if I’d injured myself further or if it was a new injury & I didn’t know how to deal with it. The misconception that you should rest all injuries is still pretty popular & couldn’t be further away from the truth, resting completely can cause issues along the road – sitting immobile while you heal is gonna cause hindrance as the muscles seize up over time, making recovery longer and more painful.

You can still train if you’ve broken a limb, you can still go to the gym if you’re full of cold, you can even go to the gym after breaking your nose & recovering from concussion! That last one, I did actually do.  I just made Andy aware of how I felt & whathaveyou before we began training.Which leads me to how do you know if you’re fit for the gym? I’m came up with my own little checklist:

  • Does it hurt? Pain levels can vary immensely, let’s use this scale chart:

I’ve experienced all levels based on this scale.  Monday I’d say I was at about a 2-4, at this level I’d still go to the gym. I’d probably still go to level 6, pushing it a little with 7 & above.  So, go with this.  Does it hurt? Yes. Will I be off work cos of it? No. GO TO THE GYM.

  • Will it stop me from going to work? I know I’ve already mentioned this in the pain point, but it’s worthy of another mention. If you’re still able to go to work, then you’re able to train, however you may wanna take it slowly initially depending on the level of injury.  There’s the flip side too; post op it’s probably best to steer clear of the gym for a while (I avoided the gym when I’d had a rather large tattoo session) When I broke my nose I didn’t go for the first week after it’d happened, so I guess to assess on an individual basis.  However, if you feel well enough in yourself, then as long as someone in the gym knows you’re a little ill/post op/in severe pain so they can recommend things to do to avoid hurting yourself.
  • Progress or pain? This is an odd one, (I wrote some of this at work then carried on thinking about it on the cycle home & I think this was my point) Think about the pain you have – Remember the handy scale!! Now, if you’re teetering on a 7, will going to the gym hinder your progress? Yes, probably.  However, if the pain is localised to a body part that you can omit; a leg say then (imo) there’s no harm in going to the gym to do an upper body workout. Just remember if it hurts, STOP & assess the situation – can you carry on, even with a lower weight? yes, good on you – the Marines would be proud of you!
  • Is it gonna be a long-term injury? I consider my back issues to be a hindrance more than a debilitating irritation; however I received some interesting reading material to my work email today that suggests my back issues are worse than I thought, but I digress…..I have friends that are trying to regain strength after months of limited training due to needing bones pinning back together & extensive physio sessions. I have had my fair share of physio & I guess my issue is long-term too, seeing as how I’ve dealt with it since my twenties.  It was only when I started training with Andy that I learned how much of a complication it has been on my body, my left side is completely shot.  I say is because I still have a deficit that I’m trying to correct (I’ve blogged about this annoyance before)  What I will say though is that any progress is STILL progress! no matter how small, take the little victories! Did two more reps than before? Fantastic! Could lift a slightly heavier weight? Incredible!  Recovery takes time & it’s frustrating, but I refer back to the previous point; going too fast because you wanna catch up to the beautiful people will only make your journey more of a struggle in the long run.
  • DO NOT FORGET TO EAT! Oh, I’m not feeling too well, so I won’t have lunch or I’m not training today so I don’t need as much protein. Right? Wrong! I learned this the hard way. I started to do barbell squats; my first lot were going pretty well, then the following session I went to do them again & couldn’t.  During a conversation with Andy he explained my body hadn’t recovered from the last session, or my lurgy (I had a cold when I started BB squats) and that was why I couldn’t lift the weight. I was really annoyed with myself cos I thought I was doing ok, but I wasn’t.  I’ve since made a conscious effort to eat better & it’s definitely paying off dividends in the gym!

 


Personal Trainers – The FAQs

Before I start, I just want to add that this is my opinion & by no means a definitive “be all & end all” to Personal Trainers. I’ve asked around before creating this post about others opinions & will add that where I see fit.  Everyone will have a reason that they want to spend time with a PT, mine is mentioned very briefly on here.

I want a personal trainer, gimme! Gimme now!

Calm yo’self young Padawan!  You wouldn’t just walk in to a shop, pick the first thing you saw & pay for it would you? No!  (if you do, stop it. Stop it right now!) There are many ways to get one, main way being Go. To. The. Gym. There are independent ones out there, but unless you have a really bizarre schedule which means you can’t go to the gym then (imo) this isn’t really necessary.

OK, I’m in the gym, now what?!

If you’re an existing gym member, chances are you’ve already met some of the trainers – they’re the beautiful people in tight spandex looking ripped…..probably.  You may have been approached by one, or even just said hello to them.  If not, based on my experience in gyms there will be a “Meet The Trainers” board situated somewhere, you could read that to gain some info on them if you wanted to. Another way, would be the way I did it:  I contacted my gym & asked to meet a trainer, told them why & they suggested I meet with Andy.

Right. I’m meeting a Trainer, but….

Firstly, don’t be embarrassed or feel silly or whatever.  First meetings are usually to gauge your requirements from them, what you would like to achieve & how you want to be trained, or at least this was my experience.  I told Andy I prefer brutal honesty, don’t need regular encouragement (like, after EVERY rep) and am not adverse to swearing.  We discussed my goals, my flexibility/moveability and whathaveyou.

Don’t feel like you have to like them & sign up with them immediately, if you want to wait, think about it or meet some others this should be okay.  Not everyone is going to get on with everyone & there is always the possibility that what you want to achieve would be better handled by a different trainer.  They have the knowledge & expertise to guide you.

I’ve met with the Trainer, but I’m still not sure.  It’s a lot of money.

The average price for a Trainer in the UK can vary (the internet tells me “average” is from £15-£50 an hour) however, what you have to ask is how much do you value your health & well being? You’re paying for their knowledge, their skill set that they have spent years honing & refining to be able to tailor a lifestyle change specifically for you.  That’s the point, it’s not just paying to see someone in the gym, it’s a complete lifestyle change – Andy gave me nutrition advice, then a food programme & suggested protein shakes to help me as my training increased.

From my own experience, I’ve had people approach me in the gym after seeing posts on here to tell me how different I look in such a short space of time.  I’ve always told them who my trainer is if they didn’t already know & I know my story (so far) has helped others seek out the help they so deserve.

HELP ME! First session in & now I think I’m dying!

This is a feeling that I experience quite regularly – every time a new machine or weight is introduced my body normally screams at me internally for a day or two afterwards.  I’ll never forget my first leg day; the pain stayed with me for the better part of a week.  You learn to love it, to embrace it & eventually crave it!  If I leave the gym now without some level of ache I feel like I have not done enough – despite how much I may moan at Andy during training.

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And there you have it.  My opinions and advice about how to get yourself a personal trainer.

  • Do your research
  • Get to a local gym if you haven’t already
  • Check payment options with your PT
  • Be honest about your fitness levels/goals
  • Utilise the advice of your PT
  • Remember what you put in is what you get out

Motivation Requires Sacrifice

Whilst I was walking home from the school run my mind wandered to my Instagram post from this morning, I’m a massive convert to TimeHop; I find it fascinating to read over my posts from years ago – talk of cookies, eating whole tubs of ice-cream, being overwhelming tired & having pain that excruciating I needed steroid injections to stem it. Along with many, many rage posts.  It’s strange to read them sometimes & others have me instantly flashing back to the precise moment that they happened.

Anyway. Back to Instagram…..I walked past the mirror mid-getting dressed & I was pretty fucking pleased with my reflection.  My other half reckons I can’t walk past a mirror without looking in it & he’s right. I make no excuses for my narcissism, and have no intention of changing. I don’t make it a habit (much) to take photos of my reflection; in fact a massive pet peeve of mine is those who snap selfies in the mirror & look at their reflection instead of the camera lens.

I’ll admit, changing has not been easy – there are still days where I don’t want to cycle to work, let alone the gym and sometimes I will allow the want to be “lazy” and get the bus. I always pine for my bike when I do though.  However, the point in this post is to give some of my tips to stay the course & become the person you’ve only ever been able to dream about.

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TIPS:

  • Invest in a Personal Trainer – I know this may seem like a major expense, but even if you see them once a month & then follow a programme they have set for you will help!  In my early weeks going to the gym I only went if I felt like it. Paying to see Andy meant that I had to go, he sets me things to do without him & I know the next time I see him, he will ask if I’ve been to the gym since the last time we met.
  • Stay the course – It sounds easy enough; Go to the gym, train, ???, PROFIT. It really isn’t that simple though. We have, as a human race become so dependant on machines to do things for us. Yes, technology has advanced so we don’t have to hunt for our food or walk miles to get to places but does that mean we should be complacent with our health?  Training requires effort, it’s hard graft – if it was easy then everyone would do it.
  • Nutrition. Nutrition. Nutrition – Food!  Glorious food!  Anyone who reads this regularly will know I love food.  What you eat is tantamount to what you do in the gym, if not more so. Reduce the carbs & increase the protein is a good starting point.  I didn’t realise what a negative effect not eating correctly could do.  Seriously.  All that effort put in to training to lose it from eating poorly? Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!  I’ve seen what dehydration during sports looks like & it does not look like a pleasant experience.
  • It will hurt – After my first leg day I wondered if I’d ever be able to walk again properly. I wish I was joking, but I’m really not. When I was much, much younger I used to run cross-country at school & my legs never hurt to the degree a proper leg day gets you. It’s not just your legs either; ever tried to take a sports bra off after doing a silly amount of skull crushers & chest presses? No? It’s almost impossible.  How about laughing after crunches?  I’ve done it, it gave me muscle cramp in my abs which I couldn’t stretch back out for ages!
  • Weights! – If there is another reason to invest time with a Trainer, I can’t think of a better one than learning to use weights effectively. When I started going to the gym I spent most of my time on cardio machines, wishing I was fitter or dead….whichever was gonna come faster!  Cardio has its place, but I now believe it should be for warming up as opposed to the reason you go to the gym. Lifting heavy shit is awesome & with the right guidance is really, really awesome.  The feeling of beating a personal best? Incredible!  I did 90kg the other day – a good 20kg more than my body weight.
  • REST! – I know I’ve said stick at it, eat well, train hard but all of that work & effort is worth nothing without looking after yourself. I have two rest days a week – my days off work & Saturday is an “Only cycle” day, as the gym opens too late for me. The most important thing is to give your body the recovery time it needs, if that’s 4 rest days a week to begin with then so be it.  However, never drop them entirely. They are vital!

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Groovy, Baby!!

Remember the slump I had?  The confidence knock & wondering whether training was worth it in case I hurt myself? Yeaaaaah.  That’s gone.

I’m currently sprawled on the sofa, wearing a dressing gown & supping from a giant cup of coffee – HOWEVER don’t let my image of listlessness be disheartening to you – it’s late & I’ve been at work all day.

On the way home the other night I had an overwhelming sense of calm, contentedness & a feeling that I’ve never been able to convey in words – er, euphoria might be close. It’s been a while since I felt like that regarding training.  I don’t know if it has something to do with the fact my training has ramped up or whether I’m just generally more happy.  A lot of credit has to be given to endorphins; my PT can vouch for that – when I first met him I was pretty angry & got wound up relatively easily.  Happy hormones are incredible!!!

I’m back on Fitocracy & adding my workouts to it a lot more regularly than I had in the past.  The weather is beginning to improve & the light of day is staying for longer which makes for a nicer cycle to & from work and the gym.

I was asked a few questions today from a friend who hasn’t seen me since before I started training; she commented on my weight loss and said I’d inspired her to go to the gym more often.

Questions:

Do you get cravings for food that is unhealthy?

Not really, no.  In the beginning satiating my want for certain foods was hard but not any more.

Do you not just fancy a Big Mac some days?

No. I never really ate fast food before I started training so being without really doesn’t bother me.

What about giving in to a craving? Have you do that?

Yes, absolutely. I won’t lie about eating – sure I’ve had cake, ice cream, dirty carbs and sweets in the past 6 months.  I don’t feel bad about it. The odd treat isn’t going to reverse all I’ve achieved, so there is no guilt.

 Is the cake I’ve seen you make really taste as good as normal cake?

Yes & no. Some that I have made that taste incredible but there have been some that have been thrown away after the first taste.  It’s all about experimenting to see what works well.

Er, so yeah.  the past week or so has had me remember the reason I started training & holding on to the goal I had in the first place.  I’ve had a lot of time off this year due to injury and I’m determined to not do it again….I know I shouldn’t think about where I could be had I not being in two accidents in such a short space of time, but I have.  It got to me, it started to gnaw away at me, and could have put an end to my training if I’d have let it.  I’ve never said I was a competitive person, I’m not.  I’m stubborn, I HATE things defeating me, I hate being beaten by something & will fight tooth & nail to overcome the hurdle.  I’m not beaten, not by a long shot.

The year is still young & I still have a lot to prove!


I Baked……

One thing that I’m learning is that some recipes work really, really well & others have honestly made me question if the original recipe maker actually has taste buds. This week I’ve thrown away things that flopped, badly.  One or two were because the protein shake mix I had, I cannot really abide the taste in some things but it’s worked in other things; hence the reason I’ve not thrown it out.

Also, the mix being so different to normal cake mixes and things they can be incredibly drying, perhaps next time I need to adjust my timings.  I have a fan oven, so maybe I need to take that in to consideration.

I was gonna share everything I’ve made, however I’ve since changed my mind and am going to share with you what is, so far my favourite bake…..CARROT CAKE!  I wanna say who doesn’t like carrot cake?! However I know people that don’t, so I won’t 😛

I mean, look at that?!  Doesn’t it look incredible?

I’ve been searching for a few weeks now for a carrot cake recipe that genuinely excited me to try & I found one on TrainEatGain, this is what the recipe looks like:

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Oat Flour (I just grind regular oats in the food processor)
  • 2 scoops vanilla flavoured Whey Protein
  • 1/4 cup Egg Whites (approx. 3 large egg whites)
  • 120g greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Flour
  • 2-3 Carrots
  • 2-3 Tbsp Agave Nectar
    (adjust this to your own sweet tooth)
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Walnuts (optional)

I used chopped up pecans instead of walnuts, and the carrots I had were huge so I only used one & my frosting was cream cheese, cinnamon & some vanilla extract.

Macros for each cupcake is 221 calories, 15g protein, 19g carb & 9g fat.

I threw everything into a bowl, grated my carrot & chucked that in too, then spooned the mix in to silicone cupcake cases & baked for about 25 minutes at 180 degrees (350F I think that is)

I kept the frosting in a tub in the fridge & only added it to the cupcake when they were ready to be eaten.  One of the PT’s at the gym got 4 of them, they’re quite hard to share though!