Category Archives: fitness

Bikes Aren’t Just For Men…

If you do a Google image search for women riding bikes you’re greeted with images upon images of women riding road bikes in a closed race style setting, or idealised images of a working woman on a city bike, suited & perfectly coiffured.  Both of these things could be (& probably are) true, however to me it paints cycling in an idealised setting. Showing that women should probably only ride this type of way….

I first & foremost, identify as a “cyclist” before lifting, before nutrition; I LOVE my bike. I have done since I got it, & I’ve loved riding for as long as I’ve been able to ride.  That being said, I am a minority when it comes to bike riding.  Courtesy of Cycling UK I have some figures for you:

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That’s a huge difference in averages – I can do 9 trips on my bike in a week.  Why is this? Why does cycling seem to attract boys moreso than girls & then the continuation of that attraction into adulthood?  It’s not like manufacturers don’t make bikes for women.  I can’t wrap my head around it, however I thoroughly love being on my bike so it’s natural that I wouldn’t understand why someone would prefer to not ride.

Again, I turned to Google & two main things appeared:

  1. Safety. As cycling is seen to be male-centric, women have (in some cases) felt belittled, scared or intimidated whilst riding.  It’s fair to guess that we’ve all seen *that* viral video (which; to clarify is staged & doesn’t represent a real life situation) However, that being said….if a bloke gets a puncture, chances are he can fix it road side. Could a woman do the same? Perhaps, maybe, certainly – however, not many women would be comfortable on the side of the road pulling out an inner tube, especially if it’s getting dark, or it’s secluded or whatever.
  2. Ease. Cycling to work, uphills, in hot weather or in winter layers can be a sweaty affair. Not good if you have a customer facing job, or don’t fancy helmet hair/wanting a shower etc.  Plus, how do you transport a suit/smart clothes/uniform on a bike? Then there’s the mothers out there…how do you carry your shopping & your child on a bike?!

I also asked friend’s on Facebook if they rode bikes, if so; what for:

“I don’t but I’d like to… no bike, and living in such a built up area there’s nowhere nice to go.”

“I like the idea of cycling but I always had shit bikes and the memories of bike maintenance on the go are kind of off putting.”

“I do! Generally to work and back or town and back for shopping”

“I cycle off road cycle paths as I don’t like car times. It’s my favourite way to relax and focus on the moment outside as nothing is being asked of me and I can just breathe.”

“Not any more, but I wish I did. I used to cycle to work, but it was uphill and I was super sweaty and tired by the time I got there. I also used to go shopping a couple of times a week.”

“I alternate between cycling and walking to work (about 2 miles each way) and just enjoy going on ‘adventures’ where I just get my bike and cycle until I’m tired to discover new places and just because it’s fun. It’s a bit of a nightmare to cycle in Leicester since bike lanes are horribly designed and only cover small segments all of which are crowded with pedestrians anyway.”

“I have a cycle but would like somewhere nice to cycle not just round the roads”

That’s just a few of the responses, however the majority don’t ride, or would like to but facilities/places to ride around England are pretty garbage, unless you can shove your bike in a car, drive somewhere & then ride for a few hours.  (For the record, the number of women that regularly cycle in Scotland is higher than it is in England)

I also got a response from Squat Rack Shenanigans (if you don’t follow her blog/insta/facebook, you *totally* should!)

Hi it me! San Diego, CA. I ride for cardio on bodybuilding contest prep, and for enjoyment because I live in a beautiful bikeable city.

July is Women’s Festival of Cycling in the UK, aimed at getting more women cycling.  I personally feel that it’s a shame that not more girls & women take advantage of the freedom that comes with cycling.  Like, seriously….Short on time? Ride. In a bad mood? Ride. Need to wake up? Ride. Full of energy? Ride.  There are many, many reasons to get out on your bike.

They’re not just for men!

If you’d like to learn more about women in cycling:

http://hopetechwomen.com/

https://www.letsride.co.uk/breeze

http://www.cyclinguk.org/womens-festival

https://totalwomenscycling.com/

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Photo from @Liv Cycling


You Are as Powerful as a Lightbulb

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Continuing from my last post about energy; I was having a chat with a friend who told me that people burn through enough energy to power a lightbulb.  Whaaaaaaat?!  So, I googled & it’s true! I found this fascinating, so I’m sharing the basics here:

Think about a person who consumes 2000 calories in a day. Every calorie from food (kCal) is equal to 4200 joules of energy. Used over the course of a day (86,400 seconds), this person uses an average of 97.2 joules a second, meaning they have an average power of 97.2 watts. Certainly a person could juggle quite a few hamburgers, but in the end humans only average the power of a bright lightbulb.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but the above quote is the basic jist of it from a blog post on Bryn Mawr College’s website.

How is this relevant? Well, I don’t suppose it is per se, but a bulb is a tiny piece of glass with an even smaller element inside that heats up & a byproduct of that heat, is light. 2000 calories, to someone that is used to eating a lot less than that can seem HUGE, but if you compare it to a bulb, it really isn’t & the energy that you need in order to survive/function as an “average” human (I say average, as 2000 is about average)  is just enough to power said bulb.  *shrugs* I thought it was cool.

Anyhoo…………..

Continuing on this theme of energy; what happens if you don’t get enough calories? (your bulb would be a lot dimmer, that’s for sure!) Under eating is different to eating to a calorie deficit, one is a tried & trusted method to lose some weight, the other isn’t good for you. Your body is a smart, energy efficient machine – or it should be. Just like anything else that requires power, if it doesn’t get enough, it can’t do its job correctly.   Effectively, your body slows down.  Like load shedding (sharing power in an energy deprived country) your brain notices the calorie deprivation if it gets too low & will reduce your BMR to compensate – meaning that when you first chose to slash your calories to 1,000 per day it was fine, yeah…a little hungry, but continuation to do this will change your metabolic rate so that you become more efficient in using the calories, but that means any weight loss you initially noticed will slow down & stop.

The rate at which a body burns calories is determined by the amount of muscle that you have – more muscle, higher BMR.  This is why men have a faster metabolism than women – as they usually have a higher muscle percentage than we do.  Ultimately, muscle burns a lot more calories than fat so when we lose muscle, our metabolic rate drops and we burn fewer calories. In fact, research shows that the body loses a proportionately high amount of muscle with a very low calorie intake and this may considerably suppress metabolism by up to 45 percent….which in turn can see you with a much higher body fat percentage than you’d originally wanted.

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These women are both the same height, but the one of the left weighs 110kg in comparison to the right who weighs 50kg

A calorie deficit is just that, a deficit – it shouldn’t be that low that you can’t concentrate, struggle with basic tasks, and have terrible sleep, skin, etc. halving your calories is a sure fire way to not get results – in order to get the result that you want, the first thing to do is to know your BMR:

BMR calculation for men (metric)

  • 66.5 + ( 13.75 × weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 × height in cm ) – ( 6.755 × age in years )

BMR calculation for women (metric)

  • 655.1 + ( 9.563 × weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 × height in cm ) – ( 4.676 × age in years )

Then, calculate your TDEE, you need to HONESTLY work out your activity levels:

  • Little to no exercise – Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2
  • Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55
  • Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725
  • Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9

Once you have your figure you can reduce it by around 200 calories, in order to keep the calories in lower than the calories out, but not to a level that is gonna have a negative effect.  As you lose weight & gain muscle, you will need to revisit this calculation a few times as when your weight changes, so does your BMR.

 

 


What is Energy?

In a world of Paleo this, Keto that it’s no surprise that people feel completely bewildered when it comes to food choices.  Whether you think “eating clean” is the right thing for you, or even (dare I type…) Slimming World people are bombarded with information about what foods to eat, which ones to avoid, meal interval timings & so on.

Studies showed that those who change their diet completely are less likely to continue with said diet change than those that make several, small changes over the course of a few weeks to a perhaps even a few months – every body is different & responds in different ways so it’s probable that each approach needs to be varied in order to suit the individual.

That being said – without actually knowing what your body needs, nutrient-wise how do you really know that whatever choice you’ve made is A) the right one for you & B) going to work for you.

Here in the UK, 6/10 women are obese & 7/10 men are. So, it’s obvious that something, SOMEWHERE isn’t going according to plan? Isn’t it? Is it? In its simplest terms, people are eating more than they need – they have an excess of calories consumed….the energy that the body needs isn’t as high as what they’re giving it, so the body stores it, to be used later, but then an excess is eaten again, more is stored & thus, the cycle repeats.

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You burn through energy by being alive – yes, even sleeping burns calories.  You need energy to survive. Thinking uses calories, walking, breathing, everything!  However, how much energy you use on a daily basis is down to your activity levels.  Someone with a desk job won’t need as much as someone that is a manual labourer.

Energy for consumption is measured in Kilocalories (kcal) & Kilojoules (kJ)

1 kcal is equivalent to 4.18kJ

  • Fat has 9 calories per 1 gram
  • Carbohydrate has 3.75 cal per gram – this is rounded up to 4 cal
  • Protein has 4 calories per gram
  • Alcohol has 7 calories per gram

The amount of energy a food contains is classed as density, so high fat foods are considered more energy dense than protein or carbohydrate.

The total energy content of a food can be found by burning it and measuring how much heat is released. Foods with fewer calories per gram such as fruits, vegetables, low fat soups, lean protein and fibre-rich foods have a relatively low energy density.  Foods with a high fat and/or low water content such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits, deep fried foods and snacks, butter and oils, have a relatively high energy density.

Basing your diet on foods which are lower in calories (or have a lower energy density), and eating foods which are high in calories (or have a higher energy density) less often and in small amounts, can help to control you overall calorie intake. Some foods with a higher energy density such as oily fish, cheese, nuts, seeds and avocados contain healthier types of fat and other important nutrients meaning they can be consumed in moderate amounts as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

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I Promised Myself I Wouldn’t Do This…

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  • It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.
  • It’s easy to look back & wish that time could reverse so that you could fix things.
  • It’s easy to get irritated with your past.
  • It’s easy to blame others for your misgivings.

What isn’t easy, is moving on.

I promised myself in my last post that I wouldn’t dwell on the past & berate myself for not being where I wanted to be.  Yeaaaaaaaaaaah, that lasted a whole of 5 minutes.   I could point fingers & pass the buck, stating that x person could’ve helped but didn’t, people who I thought were my friends are gone by the wayside, that there was too much going on, too many things to try & do, not enough time to do it all.  Is it true?  Yes & no.  With everything there is always an element of perception – how you view something isn’t necessarily the way another will view it.   What one believes is a helpful suggestion, another will believe it to be a hindrance.

I think it’s part of human nature to wish you could change things, it’s also a lot easier to say things after the fact, that it wasn’t entirely your fault.

This morning I was angry. Angry at many things, at what is not relevant; what is relevant is that being angry  at something that has already happened is NOT going to change it.  What will change though, is how I deal with interactions with fitness professionals from now on.  I’ve learned to not take any one person at face value.  I’ve learned that in order to succeed & progress, you NEED to do your own research – even if it counters what you thought you already knew; knowledge is power folks. Never forget that.

I really do wish I knew then, what I know now – maybe then I wouldn’t feel like I had such a huge mountain to climb, maybe I wouldn’t need to be going back to physiotherapy & maybe I would’ve been closer to some of my goals than I currently am.

That being said, blogging isn’t going to get me any closer either.  So I bid you adieu as today is LEG DAY!

 

 


2016 Reflection…

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Mmmmm, I don’t know how many out there will actually be glad to see the end of this year – what I do know is I would like to bury 2016 in a deep hole, fill it with concrete & cover the concrete with lead so that it never sees the light of day again.

A lot has happened this year.  As with every year I suppose, but usually when it hits this time of year I can say “it wasn’t TOO bad” when I look back.  This year, however I hit rock bottom & it was not a place that I wanted to stay, or for that matter; ever see again.

Depression is still quite a taboo thing.

“Just go outside”

“Do what you love”

“Smile, you’ll feel better”

Uhhh.  No.  If those things worked, I wouldn’t have found myself in the Doctors office bawling my eyes out at absolutely nothing – scratch that – an overwhelming sense of panic, fear, uselessness & generally feeling like a piece of shit.

I feel better now, but I should have sought help much earlier than I did – thinking about throwing yourself in front of a moving train is, like a massive warning signal that something isn’t right with your brain chemistry.

Despite what efforts I made (they were minimal, I’ll admit but anyway) the gym became a place that was no longer comfortable to me. I no longer associated lifting with happiness & that was hard. Something that had become so intrinsically intertwined with my life was shoved to the depths of the clutter cupboard to gather dust.  I wish it hadn’t, but I can’t go back & change it – however who knows what my gym relationship would be like now if I’d have continued to go.  That’s irrelevant now.

What I DID do though, was got some new qualifications:

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I finished my Sport Nutrition course in August & received a distinction in management a few months later. I’ve got another course to complete in Neurolinguistic Programming, but I’ll be honest -I’ve dragged my heels with that one a little. I’ll complete it, but it’s gonna take a while.

The last few weeks I’ve begun to think about what I want to achieve next year – I’m part of a social media groups that celebrates women & all they’re capable of – regardless on fitness level, body size or even choice of exercise, these ladies inspire me daily & without them, I might have even chosen to never go back to the gym.  Just knowing they’re there gives me a desire to come out at the end of 2017 & be fucking FIERCE! To show myself that I really can do what I set my mind to, but also to not berate & chastise myself if I get ill or injured & be unable to train.

I’ve even wrote my own programme, but “life” (not relevant to my blog) has been a preventative issue for gym times, but I intend to change that when the gym reopens on Tuesday.

I’m also going back to physio, as my time out of the gym has seen some issues resurface – more about that next time I blog!

 

 


Why Slimming World is Flawed…

Recently I’ve been working in an office environment, so it’s swarming with women who are all on some diet or another, but one seems to be more popular than any of the others & it’s SLIMMING WORLD.

Slimming World is the land of syns, some foods are “free” – this means you can eat as MUCH as you want, others have syns – these are the ones that you should only eat a certain amount of in order to keep losing weight.  Sound ideal?  Where’s the issue?

So, what’s in a syn?

You have a total  daily allowance of syns, 15 to be exact. That 15 syns equates to 300 calories per day.  Um, come again?  How many?  I eat more than that for breakfast! No, no! I hear you cry from you syn thrones – there are syn free foods too!  Mate, I don’t care.  This working things out in fake points is insane!  (it’s like Reddit, but for food in the real world!)

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So, I give you the flaws in this insane system*

I’ve googled free foods/syns in foods to create a daily plan & will be adding actual macros/calories as well.  All the food listed below is from the SW website & SW Survival website.

Breakfast:

Baked oats or a full English

Oats are:

35g oats, 3tsp sweetener, 1 egg, 1 pot of yoghurt & some fruit.  Bake it.  Job done.  ONE WHOLE SYN.  (343 cal, 22g carb, 6g fat, 11g protein)

Full English:

2 sausages, 2 rashers of bacon (fat removed), mushrooms, 1 whole onion, 1 whole tomato, 1 boiled potato, 1/2 tin of beans, 2 eggs.  ZERO SYNS!  (ok….this is free food, so why stop at two sausages, why not have eight? They’re no syns!!)  (942 cal, 59g carb, 48g fat, 59g protein)  This bad boy also benefits from 1,852mg of sodium!!!  FTR, 8 sausage is 1600 calories.

Lunch:

125g Cheese, Leek & Ham pasta.  100g Chicken breast, & a 500g tub of fat free yoghurt – SYNFREEAGAIN (936 cal, 84g carb, 9g fat, 63g protein)

Dinner:

Lamb shank with mint sauce, 100g oven chips, side of veggies & a Curly Wurly brownie, fuck it….I’m on one syn, so let’s have 4 brownies. 4 SYNS  (857 cal, 50g carb, 43g fat, 67g protein)

Total Syn count: FOUR or FIVE depending on breakfast

Some fruits are free too, so we’ll have 2 mandarins, 100g peas & 100g carrots as snacks for the day.  (163 cal, 38 carb, 6g protein)

Because we have around 9 syns left, we’ll have a 14% glass of red wine with dinner. (175ml)  (175 cal, 3g carb)

Don’t worry about being peckish…..carbs are FREE – go eat that bowl of pasta & sauce,  or super noodles.  (pasta is 522 cal, noodles are 264 cal)

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So, that gives you a total (excluding MOAR pasta snacks) of:

2474 cal for the day if you have the oats

3586 if you have the full English.

Remind me, this diet is supposed to help you LOSE weight, right?

Macro-wise, it’s a little more promising;

196g carb, 58g fat, 147g protein OR 233g carb, 100g fat, 195g protein  sort of,  I suppose.  It depends on a multitude of things: height, weight, age, gender & activity levels.

I can burn through over 3000 calories a day, however that is only IF I cycle a good 10 miles, as well as go & lift weights for an hour.

Look at it this way, most women in the UK  on average, are 5 foot 5 (169cm) & weigh anywhere from 7st 12 to 10st 10 (50-64kg)  If we take the middle of that weight range, around 58kg & work out that they’re a 40 year old office worker that drives everywhere & walks the dog a mile a day.

That gives you a TDEE of 1477 NOT 3586. Broken into macros, as per MFP:

1477 cal,  50% carb – 185g, 20% fat – 33g & 30% protein – 111g which is WAY off the food i selected at random from the lists of free foods that I could.

I’m aware my examples are probably extreme & SW will hopefully teach people portion control & so on, I also know that many people have lost weight using SW – that doesn’t make it right!  Eating at a calorie deficit will help you lose weight, you don’t need points, coloured days, or whatever else some diet guru is trying to tout you with.

Plus, without knowing what a macro is, you’d never be able to work out your daily needs.  That & there’s no paid support group for macro counters…….

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Diagnosis of Slimming World:  NO.

 

*I know people who have lost a lot of weight with SW, those people have added exercise to their lives as well as watching what they eat. I 100% believe that following a standard macro/TDEE would have yielded the same results & forgone some potentially, dangerous eating habits.  This post is to show those flaws & how open to interpretation this “diet” is

I Wrote a Thing About Carb Loading…

A friend of mine recently did Coast to Coast – that’s a 140 mile (225km) bike ride.  He asked me to put something together for what he could take with him to eat over the 2 day ride – I put together a little thing for him – from 8 days prior to his event.

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This is what I wrote:

Carb loading to help performance

Carbs, broken down to the most simplistic are simple & complex.  Simple are sugars & complex are starches & fibre. Simple carbs are from milk, table sugar, fruit sugar & honey.  Complex carbs are from whole grains, vegetables, seeds, cereals & potatoes.

Complex carbs are better to eat than fats, as storing fat doesn’t require energy, whereas converting carbs to fat does.  Eg:  300 cal of carb, converted to fat equals 270 carbs, whereas 300cal of fat is still 300cal

Blood sugar & insulin levels spike when you eat carbs, how fast depends on what you’ve eaten. There’s stuff about eating low GI foods, to help aid athletes.  Anything lower that 55 on the GI index is low GI, above 70 is high GI & everything else is middle GI.

Low GI examples: grains, pasta, noodles, low-fat dairy & nuts.

High GI: White bread, white rice, instant mash, biscuits, cake etc.

Low GI, ideally should be consumed 2-4 hours before endurance exercise.  High GI will give you a boost, but it’s short lived & could produce temporary hypoglycemia.

Lower GI improves satisfaction feelings after eating & can help control weight too.

 

I guess, you really wanna know how much you should eat as well though?  Ha.  So, basically the more you weigh, the more glycogen stores you have (this is stuff that is stored in your muscles & is released during exercise – so storing it is goooooood for endurance)

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1-3 hours a day of cycling equates to 7-12g per KG of bodyweight

Over 4 hours a day equates to 12g per KG of bodyweight.

So, if you weigh 80kg for example & are doing 2 hours a day, you need around 10g per kilo, or around 800g of carb per day (800g in calories is 3200)

My info suggests carb loading 7 days prior to an event, there are three different options for this (& it involves tapering off your training for that week)

YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT – but if you carb load correctly, it’s glycogen being stored in your muscles ready for your epic cycle.

Carb loading, combined with rest & sleep has been proved to decrease fatigue by 20% & improve performance by 3%

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Classic carb loading:

Day 1:

Normal Training

Normal Diet

 

Day 2:

Prolonged/exhaustive exercise

LOW carb diet

 

Day 3:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 4:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 5:

Tapered Training

High carb

 

Day 6:

As day 5

 

Day 7:

As day 5

 

Day 8: EVENT.

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Modified carb loading:

Day 1:

Endurance Training

Normal Diet

 

Day 2:

Tapered Training

Moderate carb diet

 

Day 3:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 4:

As day 3

 

Day 5:

Tapered Training

High carb

 

Day 6:

As day 5

 

Day 7:

As day 5

 

Day 8: EVENT.

******************************

Modern Carb Loading:

 

Day 1:

Tapered Training

Normal Diet

 

Day 2:

Tapered Training

LOW carb diet

 

Day 3:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 4:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 5:

Tapered Training

High carb

 

Day 6:

As day 5

 

Day 7:

Warm up & 3 minute high intensity

High carb – 10g per KG of BW
Day 8: EVENT.

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So yeah, that was what I wrote for him.

I’ve never attempted carb loading myself (I’ve done carb cycling in the past) but perhaps at some point in the future what I wrote for him, may come in handy for myself!