Festivities and Fitness

With the Festive season now pretty much in full swing it can be easy to get distracted by the clever marketing of the not-so-healthy indulgent goodies! Trips to the supermarket at this time of year can be torture. Nights out with lots of drinking and eating involved become more frequent and sometimes you don’t want to miss out.

You don’t have to worry. These things don’t mean you have to de-rail the fitness train. I get people ask me, ‘how do you stay on track over Christmas?’

The honest answer is; I haven’t always. However, this December I am currently at my lowest weight in 2017 and I’m consistently training 5 or 6 days per week. My training has not suffered for a number of reasons.

  1. I love it. In fact, I love training and running more than I love chocolate, cake and ice-cream. Say what?! Ok, maybe not at the time but my appreciation when I lose myself in a long run or the feeling of contentment afterwards trumps the cake high hands down! Looking after myself is what makes me happy. I might not be getting up at 5.30am like I was in the summer months but I’m making adjustments and going to the gym to run on the treadmill after work instead! It’s been -4 here in Edinburgh!
  2. I’ve worked at my goals all year. I’ve stayed true to my goals and put all the steps in place to achieve them for the last 2 years, so why would I throw them out the window in one month… just because that particular month typically involves lots of food and drinks?! I’ve also set new goals for 2018 and they are spurring me on to work even harder!
  3. I’m learning to accept myself and prioritising me. If I don’t want to drink, I don’t have to just because others are. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past and always thought I needed alcohol to have a good time. I’m realising now that I don’t but I also don’t have to miss out by staying in. By not drinking excessively (or at all), I’m prioritising what makes me happy (getting up to run the next day) over what everyone else would have to say about my lack of drinking! Do what you want and don’t jeopardise yourself or your happiness to please others.

With regards to dieting in December, it’s not necessarily going to be easy. Especially, if like me you don’t have the strongest willpower around chocolate and there’s a chance you could be swayed off track. My problem is that 1 chocolate could lead to a binge, so I find it best to avoid ‘treats’ as much as possible. This is something I’m working on. In fact, the advent calendar chocolate is working really well for me. I get one chocolate a day but there’s no more after that – even if I wanted it as I refuse to open the windows on the wrong days.

There’s also more likely to be temptations of the chocolate variety circulating the office, compared with June/July when everyone’s eating salads and kale chips to get ‘beach ready’. A 3-course Festive meal for your work Christmas night out, drinks and meals out with friends and then the hangover cures…

These calories can all add up (and inevitably will result in weight gain) if you allow this be become the norm 2 or 3 times a week at this time of year, but you can minimise the damage. How?

Brandon and I went to my former place of work The Dome, in Edinburgh last weekend for a Festive lunch with our Mums. The three course menu was full of rich indulgent options and I didn’t want to restrict myself too much. Here’s what I did for damage control;

  • I went for a run in the morning before lunch. A 5k run typically burns anywhere between 350-400 calories depending on speed/time etc, giving me a bit of leeway with the extra calories!
  • Pre-planning your daily intake around this meal can really help to reduce your calorie consumption for the day. If you know you’re going to eat 1500 in one meal, it’s a good idea to reduce the number of calories you consume in your other meals. I had two Weetabix with milk for breakfast after my run (around 250 kcals) and as we weren’t actually that hungry in the evening afterwards, I just had two slices of wholemeal toast with raspberry jam (again, only 250 kcals). On a normal day I would obviously usually consume more calories for dinner, but I did not need them after allowing myself more for lunch.
  • I opted for the fish main course, rather than the typical high-calorie Christmas dinner. I’m saving that for Christmas Day at my Mum’s! You can’t beat your homemade Christmas dinner anyway! Whilst the fish option still had a saffron butter and was most likely cooked in oil (not how I’d typically serve it at home), it will still be much lower in calories and fat than the other options; beef, lamb and full turkey dinner.

Then, this week I had a drinks reception in my office and my Christmas night out. Did I have a drink and eat dessert? Yes. Did I gain weight? No.

It’s all about everything in moderation. Don’t write off the entire month of December just because of 3 or 4 nights out where you may be out of your usual routine. Equally, don’t restrict yourself on these nights.

Enjoy the Festive Season!

L x

Injury Update – November 2017

Back in March/April I slipped a disk in my back which caused all sorts of problems with my hips… Now it’s my shoulder!

I started getting a really sore back/shoulder and could not quite pinpoint what was causing it or where specifically the pain was located. Was it my back or was it my shoulder? It would come and go and I put it down to just being a knot in my upper back after a long day at work. However, as I’ve been seeing my chiropractor regularly, I mentioned it to him on one of my more recent visits. I was experiencing the pain that particular day which is what made me speak up.

I didn’t even realise the complexity of the shoulder until he began to explain to me that there were a number of locations within my shoulder that the pain could be coming from, meaning that resolving it wasn’t going to be all that easy.

I’m now seeing him once a week as opposed to once a month for more regular adjustments and hope that it will get better! I’ve also booked myself in for my first sports massage in December too so I’ll let you all know how that goes…

I started freaking out when I told him, thinking that he was going to prescribe total rest (total hell). Of course, if he had I would have adhered to it but I can’t think of anything worse than another extended period of no running/workouts. Thankfully, he didn’t – for now! (Cross your fingers and toes and everything else for me). I am avoiding any exercises that put particular strain on my shoulder at the moment, though I’m not sure runnings much better really.

I’m trying to keep a positive outlook and to not let this have a negative impact on what training I am doing or the rest of my life.

L x

Friday Five – 17th November 2017

It’s Black Friday in the UK which means SALES everywhere! Are you guys taking advantage of this? I’m going to be scouring the internet today in search of the best fitness-related bargains!

Anyways… Here’s what I’m grateful for and have achieved this week;

  • My boyfriend, Brandon. He supports and encourages me in everything I do! I couldn’t ask for a better partner to have by my side. I had a nightmare the other night that he had died, which is why this one feels so prominent this week! I woke up in a panic and could not be more relieved to roll over and find him next to me!
  • Our beautiful flat. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I own my own flat at the age of 24 and have the ability to project my visions into it! I love building a cosy home.
  • Discovering peppermint tea. This one seems a bit daft but I drink it every day and am so glad I replaced my 8 coffees a day with this caffeine-free alternative. I feel so much better for it.
  • Getting back on the treadmill. I’d developed a bit of a fear that I could no longer sustain a decent run on the treadmill after spending the majority of the year running outdoors. However, last night, when I really didn’t feel like going to the gym at all – I got it done and faced my fear!
  • Soup success. I made two different soups this week – Butternut Squash with Bacon and Minestrone. Two years ago, before I started this crazy journey I would never have been in the kitchen making soups from scratch, it was always a tin for me. I love eating my own fresh, home-cooked meals.

I’m finding doing these posts very humbling. It brings you down to earth and allows you to connect with what really brings you happiness. I am appreciating the little things a lot more!

Give it a go and let me know how you get on!

L x

Winter Warmers – Recipes

One of my favourite things to do since I learned how to cook properly/from scratch is to find and experiment with new recipes and flavours! Fuelling my body with fresh, homemade meals has become a bit of a hobby for me recently. As promised, here are some of the recipes I’ve been cooking up in the kitchen since Winter arrived.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon Bits

This recipe is less than 250kcals per serving and tastes like Christmas in a bowl! 


Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
250g of raw bacon, diced into small pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 small apple, cut into small pieces
480ml of chicken stock
240ml of reduced fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoons of cinnamon (this is all down to personal taste)
1 tablespoon of nutmeg

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  • Put the squash and carrots into a bowl and toss with coconut oil.
  • Cover the bottom of a baking dish with squash and carrots and roast uncovered for 35 minutes or until tender.
  • In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Then remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside for the soup garnish, leaving the juicy bacon fat in the pot.
  • Add the onion and apple to the stock pot and sauté in bacon fat over medium heat until tender – about 5 minutes approx.
  • Add the roasted butternut squash, carrots, chicken broth, and coconut milk to stock pot and bring to a boil, while stirring regularly.
  • Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Blend your soup until smooth.
  • Return the smooth ingredients to the pot and bring to a simmer and season with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Serve your soup in large bowls garnished with bacon or you can freeze it!

Chicken and Bacon One Tray Bake

Best consumed cosied up on a Sunday evening after a day outdoors! 

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 200g ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 10 new potatoes
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 6 rashers of bacon, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  • Place the chicken thighs, tomatoes, onion, potatoes, garlic and most of the basil in a large roasting dish. Spray with low calorie cooking spray, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  • Sit the chicken on top of the ingredients and cook in the hot oven for around 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, sprinkle the bacon evenly across the dish, and then place back into the oven to cook for a further 20 minutes until the bacon is crispy and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve with the remaining basil and add some greens to bulk out your meal.

Prawn Jalfrezi

This one packs a punch and will certainly keep you warm! It’s a Slimming World recipe for any of you who happen to follow that particular plan. 


Ingredients:

  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 green chillies – 2 deseeded and finely chopped, 2 split lengthways
  • 5 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • A pinch of sweetener
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp fat-free natural yogurt
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 500g raw peeled king or tiger prawns
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 level tsp cornflour

Method:

  • Spray a deep non-stick frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the garlic, chopped chillies, chopped tomatoes, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, sweetener and salt and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes start to soften.
  • Add the split chillies and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, then add the yogurt and 200ml water. Stir well, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by about one-third, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if the yoghurt separates at first – it will disappear into the sauce eventually!
  • While the sauce is cooking, spray another non-stick frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the onion, prawns and peppers and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the prawns turn pink. Add the tomato wedges and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  • Mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp cold water to form a smooth paste, stir into the sauce and simmer for a few seconds or until it thickens, stirring constantly. Add the stir-fried prawns and vegetables to the sauce, stir well and bring to the boil.
  • Serve with your favourite rice.

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So there it is… Proof that delicious dishes perfect for colder weather don’t have to be full of fat and loaded with unnecessary calories. Just remember that a recipe isn’t set in stone and if you know what you’re doing with flavours, these can all be adapted to suit your tastes. Try them out and let me know what you think!

L x

Friday Five – 10th November 2017

I saw this on someone’s blog and thought I’d give it a go… I’m going to try to do it on a weekly basis!

It’s really important to acknowledge your achievements, no matter how small! However, its equally as important to be grateful for where you are in your life and the fact you are able to achieve these things.

It doesn’t come easy to everyone to be grateful on a daily basis – but the more you practise, the easier it becomes – and you SHOULD be practising. Gratitude plays a huge part in positive psychology and one of the greatest tools in looking after your health and well-being is a positive attitude!

Being grateful can massively improve your self esteem and allow you to appreciate your body and everything it can do! Rather than focusing on flaws you can say, ‘I’m grateful that my legs allow me to walk every single day’. This attitude is hugely important for progression within a sport; be it, bodybuilding, powerlifting or running.

Gratitude also reduces our materialistic tendencies as human beings and opens our eyes to the bigger picture in life. The things that really matter; self-love, family, friends become more important and in turn surrounding ourselves with these people, breeds positivity.

I could go on and on about the benefits of being grateful; but you get my gist.

Here are five things I’m grateful for or have achieved this week;

  • Getting up to train in the morning 3 times this week before work. Whilst this is usually the norm for me, this week I’ve been lacking my usual get-up and go attitude so it feels like an achievement!
  • Maintaining.  I have been consistent over the years and have now gotten my body to a stage where I am able to enjoy myself a little or have a ‘day off’ tracking what I’m eating and it won’t have any major effects on my weight/body.
  • Loved ones. Brandon’s Granny turned 85 on Wednesday and we went to an Italian restaurant to celebrate with all the family.
  • Making good choices. I ordered a roast chicken salad in the Italian restaurant, as opposed to a heavy pasta dish or a pizza. I had some birthday cake and chocolate afterwards but I’m glad I made the healthier choice for my main course.
  • Finishing a book. I made a promise to myself to try and read 1 book per week and I’ve been keeping up with it. This week I finished a novel that was nearly 700 pages. I find this relaxes me and allows for some ‘me-time’ away from the TV or my phone.

Do any of you practise gratuity? What have you achieved this week?

L x

My New Hobby – Walking

The irony of this post as a runner; I know!

Fitness is not one size fits all. What works wonders for one person, may not work for another person. Or you might DESPISE something that someone else loves! We simply cannot box everyone into one way of thinking/doing things and that’s one thing I love about keeping fit and looking after myself.

Over the years, I’ve talked about my passion for and how I fell in love with running on this blog, so it came as quite a shock to me recently when I accidently stumbled (probably quite literally) across a new ‘sport’. Running’s, slower but no less effective friend, walking!

I’ve  done a few hill walks in Edinburgh, particularly the Pentlands but it all really started when I was on holiday in the Highlands. Brandon and I had made an itinerary of what we wanted to do whilst we were there and walking wasn’t on the list. However, whilst out driving a scenic route to get somewhere we found a ‘Forest Walk’ and at a loss for something to do on one of our ‘chill out’ days (again, the irony) we decided to give it a go. Whilst googling further details about the walk; the route, where to park, etc, I discovered a website called WalkHighlands and in turn, found out we were pretty near some spectacular walks and hills that other people travel to Scotland specifically for.

We did the forest walk and then the following day went back on our trusty website to look up a walk my Dad had told me years ago that he’d done before, Ben Braggie – the walk up to The Duke of Sutherland. After that one, I was hooked and we ended up looking for more to do daily. It turned into a walking holiday. Luckily, I’d packed my old walking boots that I had from my Duke of Edinburgh days. They’ve since packed in and the leather has started splitting from the sole – probably down to age.

Since we’ve been home, I’ve spent my time planning weekend walks and we spent a beautiful afternoon last Sunday in the Pentlands. The route we chose, Monks Brigg and Braid Law (part of the Nine Mile Burn) was super boggy but the views at the top were well worth it! I previously hated living in Scotland, mostly due to the weather, but I think I have now just started to uncover it’s true beauty and my passion for something I never thought I’d enjoy.

I may chosen the wrong time of year to get into it but I am already dreaming of bagging Munro’s and new walking boots are on my Christmas wish list! Watch this space for a Munro (that’s my surname) on a Munro next year!

Have you found any new or exciting hobbies that you never expected you’d enjoy?

L x

Winter Training 101

After nearly 2 years of consistent training every week, I guess I have a slight advantage when winter comes creeping in and the mornings and nights get colder and darker.

This may be a controversial opinion but I think that training in the winter probably comes a bit easier to those who are further on in their fitness journey than those just starting out. This is purely on the basis that they have built up dedication towards their goals and resilience when it gets tough, over a period time.

However, that’s not to say that I find it easy. The only thing I like about Winter training is that battling the elements/getting it done when others don’t makes me feel like a BOSS! Other than that, no thanks; I’ll pick long, light Summer nights and early morning runs any day. I don’t pretend that I bound out of bed raring to go run 5 miles at 5.30am. I am generally very honest in this blog. Sometimes I find it hard. Everyone does and it’s simply part of human nature. There are weeks where I am so into my training and don’t fall off the wagon at all with my nutrition. But there are also times when I just want to take a rest day or eat intuitively. Queue the mini breakdown when I ask myself, ‘am I going to be on a diet for the rest of my life?’ or ‘will I get fat if I stop running?’

These are moments of pure emotion. Me, over-reacting when I find things hard. The logical side of me knows that I’m not on a diet at all. I’m eating in a way that allows me to fuel my body to reach my goals. I’m not exercising because I think I have to lose weight, I’m doing it because I enjoy it and it makes me happy. The bigger picture is that exercise and controlling my nutrition make me happy. Achieving the challenges I set myself makes me happy. Sure, a packet of crisps or a big calorie-laden meal may bring short term happiness (for all of about 5 seconds) but in the long run, these things actually have the opposite effect on me as they interfere with my plans. I’ve learned to control these emotions, because I have acknowledged over time that they are far more prominent in the Winter months when my training programme and nutrition plan feel a bit tougher to adhere to.

Anyways, back to the original subject of this post; training in Winter. I want to help those who have just started training (perhaps in the Summer) to remain consistent when it’s not as easy and develop their training into a lifestyle that they are able to maintain throughout the entire year. But this post may also be helpful to those of you who have been training forever.

Here are my top tips for Winter training;

Invest in the correct equipment, appropriate for the season. 

You’re not going to be comfortable working out throughout the winter months in the same clothes you ran in throughout the Summer. It’s far too cold! If you work out outdoors or commute to the gym without a car, this will most likely mean adding layers. Make sure you can always take something off if you start to overheat once you’re on the move! You don’t want to cut a workout short because you’re too cold or overheating!

If you’re a runner like me (and cyclists too), reflective gear and body/bike lights are a good idea for those dark morning and after work runs. If you have the luxury of being able to run during the daylight hours – I am jealous!

Do it with a friend.

If you arrange to meet someone to work out you’re far less likely to cancel or find excuses not to go because you’d be letting them down too. This also helps validate when your reasons for not working out are legitimate or ‘excuses’. Having this level of accountability will increase your chances of adhering to your workout plans. Just this morning, I really didn’t want to get out of bed but as Brandon and I were going running together, I forced myself to get up!

Organise your training to avoid bad weather.

I prefer to exercise outside as much as possible but there would be no point in planning ALL my workouts from November to February outdoors. I live in Scotland and the weather can be unpredictable to say the least. If you know it’s potentially going to be bad, always have a plan B so you don’t miss your session.

Track your nutrition.

Don’t throw your ‘Summer diet’ out the window in favour of the hearty calorie-laden foods we often see being enjoyed/promoted at this time of year. Whilst it’s typical that people ‘bulk’ at this time of year, this doesn’t mean you need to gorge throughout the entirety of November and December.

But you don’t have to eat cold salads throughout the Winter either. Recipes can be adapted and you can still enjoy seasonal, hearty meals whilst adhering to your plan. Eat smarter, not less.

Meal prepping and tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal can be a saviour when it comes to logging your meals. Stay accountable and don’t throw away all the hard work you’ve put in so far, or you’ll be back to square one in January.

Set multiple alarms.

Does this one need explaining? If like me, you train in the mornings, it always helps!

Basically, keep up everything you’ve been doing throughout the summer months. Don’t skip workouts for Netflix just because it’s cold and dark. The TV is always going to be there. And as for a big hearty feast, that’s what Christmas Day is for…

Do you guys have any tips or tricks that keep you on track with your training during the colder months?

L x

 

Reflecting On My Intentions

Around 4 months ago, I asked myself what my intentions were for the remainder of 2017. Here is what I wrote;

  • To not be a stress-head. I am no longer going to allow something that doesn’t need to be a major drama, stress me out. Hello cool, calm and collected Louise! I know that this will make me generally happier.
  • Be kinder and be there for others. You never know what someone else is facing in their own life.
  • Invest more time in my personal development and putting myself on the path I want to be on. (I always prioritise my runs or classes – OOPS!) I want to make something more of all the work I have put into this blog and everything I have written about in it.
  • Enter and run a race before 2017 is over! I’m not even too fussed what distance but I just love the race day atmosphere. The feeling of togetherness reminds me of why I started running and how I fell in love with the sport.
  • Enter a 2018 Marathon and look into the possibility of coaching or a structured training plan to prevent injury and look after my back!

Do I feel like I have achieved these goals I set for myself?

The first two are a continuous work in progress and I am striving daily to be a better person; both within myself and towards others. Admittedly, my life has been a lot less eventful in the last year, which may also be down to getting older.

With regards to putting myself on the path I want to be on; I’m not quite where I want to be yet (are we ever?!) but I’ve made big steps this year in taking myself off a path I didn’t want to be on any longer. I got a new job and with that comes new challenges and an opportunity to develop my skills further.

After finding a number of races I wanted to enter in 2018, I didn’t enter any for the end of 2017. Yes, there’s still time but race entry is not cheap and with changing jobs just before Christmas, I’m trying to save money! Watch this space for next year!

As I explained in my post about my race goals for 2018, I decided not to go for a full marathon next year; but instead build up to it by attempting a couple of half marathons.

In short, I feel like I set myself realistic goals and I’ve certainly put the steps in place to achieve them. However, I have also made sensible decisions with regards to my health and finances when I felt I needed to prioritise these. It’s important for goals to be realistic, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. Baby steps will ensure success and in turn generate positivity which will help you achieve more in the future.

After my holiday, where I had time to reflect and think about everything I have and have not achieved in the past year, I’m in a good place to start planning all the exciting challenges I am going to set for myself in the future. There’s some new ones on the list…

Look out for my post on my full 2018 ‘bucket list’ soon!

L x

 

 

Breaking Routine Whilst Holidaying

For many of us, myself included, routine is essential to maintain consistency and reach our goals. Functioning on a daily basis within this routine ensures that maximum productivity is achieved and in turn this aids and/or speeds up progress. Adherence to this routine means we know exactly what needs to be done each day in order to reach our goals, from structured training schedules to meal plans. Does this mean that we can’t reach them without this routine? NO!

I’m on holiday in the Highlands of Scotland at the moment and having a lovely time with my boyfriend, Brandon. Am I getting up at 5.30am as I would be back home? Hell no. Am I going to let that ruin my time away? Absolutely not. Have I disregarded all the hard work and the goals I am working towards? Nope.

It’s been a tough slog getting to this point, however, I am finally in a place mentally where I can break my routine and be ok with it. This for me is ESSENTIAL in finding true happiness throughout any fitness journey. In order to lead a normal life, including family time, seeing friends, holidays, date nights, unexpected life events, etc; it would be impossible to stick to a routine 100%. It doesn’t mean you’re not dedicated enough. It simply means that life often requires flexibility.

How have I been staying active whilst on holiday?

The scenery around the cottage we are staying is incredible and we’ve taken advantage of the surroundings by running locally. The only thing interrupting our runs has been when the roads change to the national speed limit. Whilst it’s a little remote village, I’m not sure it would be the best idea to risk running on these so we’ve used that as our point to turn back. We’ve been running typically 2 or 3 miles so it’s nothing groundbreaking but at least it’s something! Whilst I’d definitely work out 5 or 6 days back home, it’s been amazing to relax here and not stick to a structured training plan. I’ve ran when I’ve felt like it and stayed in the cosy cottage with a bar of chocolate when I haven’t!

Another way in which we’ve been getting in our steps is walking. Note: we got really lucky with the weather! People travel from all over the world to walk in Scotland as we have some of the most beautiful scenery, so we’d have been stupid not to explore and enjoy it! We’ve managed to fit in 3 different walks (on the days we didn’t run) whilst we’ve been here; Skelbo Forest Walk, climbing Ben Bhraggie and the Loch Fleet, Balblair Wood Walk.

As we didn’t actually have a map or anything for any of these walks, we got lost at least once on each but it added to the fun and adventure. It also added distance too! After this week, I would really love to go on a walking holiday exploring the Highlands. Scotland has so much to offer and it was a nice change from lounging by a pool all day.

Have I been eating as I normally would whilst on holiday?

The honest answer is no. I wish I could say that I stuck to my usual pattern of eating well 80% of the time with an allowance for the occasional treat. But the main question I need to be asking myself is; did I enjoy indulging a little more? Yes! I loved it. I felt totally relaxed with my diet and I ate things that I wouldn’t normally. From having a cake with my coffee (wow, it tastes so good), a bit of chocolate whilst we were driving to Chinese takeaway and chips with dinner. I don’t feel great now after a week of eating like this and I have no intentions to continue in this indulgence but I relished it at the time. It’s important to me to appreciate moments with family, friends, etc and not feel restricted by your lifestyle. If you want to let your hair down and indulge on holiday, do it! Add a bit of movement and it won’t have as much of an impact. If you want to stick to your normal eating patterns and work out everyday, that’s also great.

The point of this post was to reiterate that your goals and passions should not inhibit your life or prevent you from enjoying things you want to do. It’s perfectly normal to have a routine, I do, but it’s important for your mental wellbeing that you are ok with this being broken/altered slightly.

Do you work out whilst on holiday or use the time as a break from training? Do you find it difficult or easy to break away from your usual routine?

L x

 

Rest Days

This post was an unplanned as my rest day this morning, but I promise you, it will still be a good one.

I ran 5 miles last night and had planned to get up at 5.30am this morning and head to my B:Strong class, including a 1.6 mile run. However, I haven’t been sleeping well the last few nights and found myself awake for a couple of hours during the night last night. My mind was whirring and I just couldn’t shut off and get back to sleep; so when the sweet sound of my alarm went at 5.30, I just couldn’t get out of bed. I was feeling pretty sore from my run as well so I decided rather than fitting in my workout after work (which is what I usually do if I miss a morning) that I was going to take a rest day.

A day off the gym/running that I hadn’t scheduled into my week. WOW. The way I’ve been feeling recently, this had the potential to throw me totally off my game, to make me upset and worried that I would lose all my progress this week. However, after a quick reality check, I managed to control my emotions and decided that I would not let this alteration in my schedule get to me. It’s simply my body telling me I needed to take a break and I was going to listen.

Many people I know who work out regularly, struggle with the concept of a rest day with the main reason being that they feel unproductive, lazy or like they may be hindering progress. However, it’s actually the opposite. Integrating rest days as an important part of your workout schedule can actually help you achieve greater progress, in a quicker time frame.

So, why are rest days important? 

  • We put our bodies through great strain during workouts, particularly heavy loads or a large mileage. This is not sustainable without recuperation.
  • They allow muscles time to heal and repair after tearing or strain. Avoiding rest days affects the immune system (essentially you can run yourself into the ground) and your body is less able to recover from this.
  • Taking adequate rest days or de-load periods throughout your training cycle will decrease the risk of injury.

How can I make my rest days more productive?

  • I use Epsom Salts in a bath to relax my muscles and loosen my joints which often become stiff after longer runs. This is also ideal for those who lift heavy loads.
  • Keep up with your stretching routine, including the dreaded foam roller, to ensure your muscles are recovering effectively.
  • Remain relatively active by adding a bit of walking to your day in place of your workout. Walk to work or just take a stroll after dinner. Raise your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) rather than becoming a couch potato.
  • Watch your diet. I don’t mean you have to ‘eat less’ but realistically, the volume/types of food you need to fuel your body on days where you are working out will be more than you need on a rest day. Be mindful of this.
  • Plan your workouts, prep meals and organise any upcoming days to ensure you stay on track.

Instead of heading to the gym or running home tonight after work, I strolled home at a leisurely pace and got into my pyjamas when I got home. I cooked a healthy meal of Chicken Stir-Fry and didn’t binge; despite my mindset telling me I had already screwed up by not exercising. I listened to the facts (I will not gain weight or hinder progress by taking a rest day) rather than my emotions and stuck to my usual routine. Sometimes a nice chilled night in is just what the doctor ordered.

How many rest days do you take per week? Are these always planned?

L x