Category Archives: review

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
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Serotonin, Dopamine & Endorphins

Serotonin is a mood booster

Dopamine is a pleasure hormone

Endorphins block pain

Mine are broken.  My mood is apathetic & my dopamine and endorphins have gone on holiday I think, or my remaining serotonin killed them before killing itself.

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I’ve spent days trying to convince myself that talking about mental health is ok, and not a  glorified excuse for attention (thanks, brain!) It feels almost wrong to discuss it freely, like it’s still a taboo & when people ask how you are, they don’t actually want to know; they’re just being polite – this is my current perception of people in general at the minute.

I have depression – a chemical imbalance in my brain that has essentially switched me off.  You seen Inside Out? Where her core memories switch off?  It’s kind like that….sort of. but not really.  Everyone’s experience will vary & this is probably why I put off seeking help for as long as I did – if you read old posts on here, there’s definitely a few that have underlying tones of something not being *quite right* for me.

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Sadness is too sad to walk

However, my blog is not a mental health blog – it’s about my journey through fitness/strength.  I’m aware that you mindset has a lot to do with how you progress, which is the main point of this post……here comes the part that some may not agree with, however the perk of one’s own perceptions; amirite?

A while ago I wrote about how fitness quotes/memes for the most part irritate the living daylights out of me, I thought I’d gotten past that but I now know that I haven’t.  They seem to trigger something in my brain that makes me irrationally anti-motivation.  The buzz words that surround those whose lives are engulfed by the process of becoming stronger and leaner fill me with something that I cannot coherently explain.  I want to scream and shout that not all people think that way & just by saying something doesn’t mean it’ll happen – regardless on what some “fitspo” instagrammer has told you, it simply isn’t the case.

  • The difference between where you are & where you want to be is you!
  • You can be it, if you believe it- you can achieve it
  • Tell yourself you can & you will
  • Focus on being positive

When I started my blog a little over a year ago I hated the above sentiments. However, my personal drive to improve myself meant I chose to ignore them, or sometimes I might have even possibly believed a few – there’s plenty of motivational posts on my blog. That doesn’t mean I’ve aimed them at anyone in particular, that’s just how I felt at that specific time….all the while there was a belligerent part of my brain screaming, silently into a pillow. NO. NO. NO.

No one ever seems to want to talk about what happens when the above sentiments are interpreted as hostile. I’ve been to the gym three times in three weeks.  Do I care? No.  Do I feel bad about it? No. Will reading positivity garbage on line help me get back into my gym routine? No.

I believe that I should be able to teleport to wherever I want to go…..Does that mean I can? No.  What if I focus that I positively believe that it should be achievable, will that make it happen? No.  SO WHY SPOUT THIS STUFF ONLINE?!

That seems a little extreme doesn’t it? Well, what about those who want to do something fitness related, who have tried in the past but given up for whatever reason.  Is reading the positivity going to help someone who is in a dark place go back? I don’t think so.

I have a huge, huge vexation with telling people to be positive – you’re essentially forcing your discomfort of someone else’s unhappiness/numbness/apathy away & life doesn’t work like that.  Ever told a boy that he shouldn’t cry? You’re forcing them to hide their emotions, to block the negativity that they feel instead of talking about it, or allowing them that moment to be vulnerable & at one with how they feel.

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It’s ok to break.

It’s ok to not be happy.

It’s ok to not smile.

It’s ok.

I’ve been hiding my mental state for probably longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve put my woes to a backburner & chose to forget about them, I’ve not acknowledged the spiral in my head & how lost I have felt at times & how I felt like I was drowning in a swathe of emotions that no one wanted to talk about.

I know the gym* & personal trainers are not a place for therapy or qualified to help you in dire times of distress – that’s what counsellors & shrinks are for.  I’m also not saying that you should expect this kind of service from your fitness professionals, what I am saying is that “sucking it up” helps no one.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over again expecting different results – so even if you train enough to keep your dopamine & serotonin levels high, don’t neglect your feelings on an intimate, almost subconscious level.  Showing the world you feel ok & actually being ok are two completely different things.

Also, if you ever tell someone that you feel sad/empty/upset and they tell you to smile, be positive & to get over it, take a hint from Bronson:

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*The gym is a great place to destress & exercising can increase your dopamine levels but it’s not going to fix the issues inside your mind

 


Drop It Like a Squat…..

Wait.  That’s not how the song goes is it?   I don’t know.  *shrugs*

Anyhoo.  Today’s lesson kids is all about the SQUAT.  SQUUUAAAAAAAAATTT!!!! Oh, dear lord.  Why?   Why are you talking about that most (imo) discussed move in the gym?  Why discuss the elephant in the room that is “The perfect form”

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Just like “The Perfect Form”

I spent a year with Andy, PT extraordinaire & lot of our sessions were focused around squats; he mentioned not taking videos of clients because as soon as you do & post it on-line everyone has an opinion about whether their form is correct or not.  Helpful, you may think?  Yes, it can be from time to time…..the more stringent of moves can definitely benefit from opinions of others & I guess, that from time to time a form check on a squat can be advantageous too – however everyone has an opinion about whether your squat is correct or not.

Unless the person giving you feedback knows your bodily mechanisms – such as femur length, ankle flexibility, any prior injuries & how your hip joint sits into your hip socket, then they’re probably not overly qualified to give you advice.  I don’t mean that you can never ask for a form check, however there are a few things to bear in mind if you so choose to open yourself to the array of feedback from the internet (I have found myself on the receiving end of unwanted feedback, however that’s by the by)

I’m not an expert & I have NO intention of ever telling anyone their form is wrong – if they ask for critique then fine, there’s a set of basics I like to adhere to:

  • Warm up! Warm up! If you can squat with weight, body weight squat a few reps to engage your hips. At bodyweight?  That’s fine, hold onto something or box squat to warm up.
  • Break parallel – if you can’t with a barbell squat, do box squats with a kettlebell (known as goblet squats) to know where parallel is, then move the box & work on getting lower to the ground….not to low though, you don’t want you back to curl too much.
  • Keep your feet FLAT, or if ankle mobility could be an issue, raise your heels.  You don’t need expensive lifting shoes, just some small weight plates with your heels (up to your foot ach, I’d say) keeping your toes FIRMLY on the floor.
  • Flat shoes!  Converse, chucks, Crossfit style….not squishy style running shoes.  They’re too soft for all that weight you’ll squat – if you can’t afford other shoes, then take off the squishy running shoes & squat in your socks.
  • The way I squat isn’t the same as the person in the rack next to me.  Comparing our forms to be a “cookie cutter” one size fits all with squats is outdated, incorrect & potentially, harmful.

A little insight if this is the first post of mine you’re reading – I have degenerating discs in the lower area of my spine (L4 & L5) which can rub nerves through my SI joint causing pain across one or both hips.

When I squat my toes point out & my knees go over my feet – I have long femurs (or at least from what I read online it means they’re long) A lot of people who think they’re attempting to be helpful by telling me things like I need to open my hips more, or lean a little backwards, or whatever critique they want to lay on me when it comes to squats is either, A: Ignored. or B: Retaliated – this person doesn’t know me & I wasn’t asking for their input.  Their “help” is actually extremely out of date & if I wanted my form checking, I’d be asking Andy for a session in the gym.

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This is why no two people will squat the same & why you shouldn’t expect them to.  If you can squat low & keep your knees from tracking over your feet, bravo. Well done.  If you can get “ass to grass” but your knees are over your feet?  Well done to you too.

In conclusion, you do you & don’t ask for multitudes of advice & opinions of others, too much information can be more confusing than helpful. This is why I advocate the use of a PT.  These guys are trained & should be up to date with all the latest sciences to help you prevent injury & become stronger.

This is me at work the other day, after reading a discussion about femur length on a group I wondered if mine tracked out farther than my shoulders (I tend to squat away from mirrors in the gym, so I can “feel” the movement) so I whacked on the self timer & repped out a few BW squats in the kitchen.  My position is what it right for me, it may not be right for you, but the best thing to do is to try. Don’t attempt to fit to the “perfect form” aim for form that is good, form that won’t cause injury.  Keep to the basics, don’t overthink, ask for feedback if you want it, but remember what works for one, may not be right for you.

A day of squats in the gym means it’s a day closer to deadlifts!

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Bonus last year vs this year BW squat

 


A Month With The FitBit Surge

So, it’s been a month since I just got my Fitbit Surge & have wanted to write a review about it for a while.  However, felt like I needed to use it for sometime first.

Initial Impressions:

When it first arrived, it was apparent that this is the Flagship Device for Fitbit, the attention to detail in the packaging outweighs the packaging on other devices, including other Fitbit devices. It has a small button to depress to push the watch from its housing & the overall feel of the box just exudes quality.

I was eager to try it, installed the app on my phone & pulled the watch out of its cradle, & fastened it to my wrist. It’s big. It feels big, like I was surprised at how big it felt compared with my previous smartband.  You DO get used to the size & I have dinky wrists, so anything on them usually feels pretty big!

It feels secure when it’s on due to the watch style strap; which was a must for me after I lost a previous band due to a flimsy closure.

App Layout:

I use my Fitbit Surge with a HTC M9, which works by pairing through BLE 4.0 (bluetooth low energy) there is an option in the menus to change it to support legacy bluetooth 2.0 – which I’ve never seen on a smartband before. It also comes with a USB dongle to pair on your PC – The device can store information so you don’t need to sync it every day.

I’ve added some screengrabs from my phone, the first one is the dashboard; which gives a rundown of your day, tapping on each one will give you more information, either for the day, a week, a month and so on. It makes for very easy tracking of your progress.

Recently, my Fitbit updated to include GPS tracking of cycling, before this update I used “spinning” as a way to track my cycling. You can choose additional activities to track, ranging from circuit training to golf to martial arts, as well as running, weigh training etc.

You can also pair it with other apps, such as Endomondo, IFTTT, & My fitness Pal. I’ve yet to try it with the apps as have only recently discovered IFTTT & use MFP on it’s own.

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There is also a dashboard on the web, after downloading the software to pair via the dongle if you’re not wanting to use a phone – this will be an amazing resource for you.  There’s also the option to chat to your friends & see their step progress on the app & the web dashboard.

General Use:

Overall, the Fitbit Surge is a handy device – you can even control your music from the iOS version! A feature I’d love to see in the Android one; I can dream!

I have alarms set on my Fitbit, which helps wake me sometimes – only if I’m partially awake does it help. It alerts me to texts & calls – which is great if my phone is on a low volume/out of reach.

Another great feature is the heart rate tracker – perfect for not wearing a chest strap. It calculates when you’re in cardio & fat burn zones as well based on your height & weight it knows when is optimum times for you.  I quickly learned most of my training is in the fat burn zone over anything else. I’ve also seen my heart rate drop over the month as my fitness levels have increased; something that I was quite surprised with; I now have an average BPM of 52.

Personal Feelings:

I love my Surge. Once I got used to the bulk, it now feels odd if I don’t have it on. I don’t get the 7 days battery life from it, but I do have it using the GPS function twice a day, 5 days a week – which is going to cut the life between charges.

I did recently suffer the skin irritation reported by a few users, however since being aware of this I’ve moved my watch a little further down my wrist & the slight rash I had is gone.  I wear it watch face down as my cycling gloves were hitting the pause button on the screen & I hadn’t noticed which meant I lost valuable tracking time for a few days.

The fact it doubles as a watch is a massive plus for me as it means I no longer have to wear two devices on my wrist.

It’d be nice if the apps could pair with more, as I used to use Strava to track my cycling – which is an awesome app, as it tracks parts of your route & tells you when you got a faster time in sections. A feature that I loved.

I wonder if I can get IFTTT can do it for me?