Category Archives: Diet & Fitness

Motivational Monday #6

22 December 2014

healthy foodIt’s been over a month since my last Motivational Monday and I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed I’d fallen off the wagon and have been spending my days in front of the telly shovelling a share-pack of Tangy Cheese Doritos down my gullet with no actual intention of sharing. Surprisingly though, you would be wrong.

If you read my last Motivational Monday, you’ll know I was getting back into running in the mornings which was great – I was feeling energised and was losing weight steadily. But in the back of my mind I knew that all cardio and no weights wasn’t going to get me the body and general health I truly wanted. I kept putting it off until a friend of mine put me in touch with his personal trainer. I’d never had one before and although I was curious to try, I didn’t fancy squirming unattractively on the ground while a big buff man barked orders at me. But, as the saying goes, a shy baby gets no milk.

So, I’ve been doing three sessions a week with my personal trainer for the past two weeks and it’s been an experience to say the least. The sessions are intense and exhausting and half the time I feel like I’m going to vom, but as he says himself, if it was easy we wouldn’t be doing it. No two sessions are the same which keeps things interesting; I’ve been doing a mixture of running, sprinting, boxing, weight training, high intensity interval training, core exercises and everything in between. He’s also given me a diet plan, educated me on supplements and generally got me in the right mental head space.

Surprisingly the sessions aren’t particularly embarrassing. Do enough squats in someone’s face and you get pretty comfortable pretty quickly. It’s just been a relief having an expert tell me exactly what to do, how long for and when without having to think about it or getting stressed out about it. Before, I’d go to the gym and just mill around not really knowing what to do and end up doing yet another treadmill run.

I have spent most of the last fortnight in astronomical pain and aching in places I didn’t know existed. But otherwise I’m feeling good. I don’t want to weigh myself just yet but I can definitely feel my clothes getting looser and my posture feels better. And more importantly, I genuinely feel stronger. I even did my very first weighted sit-up yesterday – these small steps really are more important than what the scales say.

Diet wise, he recommends the ‘Bulletproof’ way of eating which is basically Paleo. It’s not for the faint hearted but luckily I have dabbled in Paleo in the past and generally live a low-carb life so the transition hasn’t been too bad. The photos above show some of the things I’ve been eating – lots of eggs, oily fish and vegetables.

Obviously personal trainers are expensive but if you can afford it I’d highly recommend giving it a go, especially if you need a little motivation or feel a bit overwhelmed at the gym. If you’re shy like I am, I promise you get over it before the end of the first session, and no, he’s not looking at your bum when you’re planking! (I sincerely hope not anyway).

Motivational Monday #5

17 November 2014

fitspoJudging by the lack of Motivational Monday posts over the past couple of months, you’d be right in thinking I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated. However, with the weather finally getting colder and days getting shorter, I’m back into sorting out my rolls. A lot of people seem to be more active in the summer but I HATE getting hot and sweaty and feel like summer is a bit of a jolly so any serious exercise tends to take a back seat. I love running when it’s cold out (less sweat) and dark (people can’t see me) so I have been ON FIRE the past two weeks (realising you only have a few months before your wedding day and you still have to get through Christmas tends to jolt you into action). It hasn’t been easy but I’ve learnt a few things to keep me on track when I’m on the verge of giving up.

(Quick disclaimer – what I do might not work for everybody. This has just been my experience!)

Meal preparation

This is key. Ironically having a fridge packed full of food makes me super careful about what I shovel down my gullet. Every evening, I’ll assess the contents of the fridge and use My Fitness Pal to plan out the next day’s meals and snacks, and box up everything I need to take to work. Knowing exactly what my food ‘bank’ contains for the day is essential for keeping me on track. That means I can dip into my supplies as and when hunger strikes, safe in the knowledge I’m not going to overeat. If I fail to do this then the chances of me grabbing something carby and calorific on the go skyrockets, and screws up my mindset for the entire day.

Having a goal

Focusing purely on weight loss is only going to end in tears and disaster. Some weeks you’ll feel like your exercise regime has been enough to rival Usain Bolt’s and find you haven’t lost a single gram – I’ve been there and it’s quite frankly, soul destroying. However, I’ve found by shifting my goals from ‘I need to lose 20 pounds” to working on a fitness goal to be much kinder on the brain. I’m currently training for a sub-50 minute 10K by February, and tracking speed and distance progress is a lot more exciting than watching the scales. Don’t get me wrong, I still weigh myself but I’ve prioritised getting more exercise into my life over losing two pounds a week. It’s a much healthier way to live and by genuinely challenging myself, I make sure I don’t miss any runs on my schedule – which makes me feel great. The weight will come off but I try not to obsess over it.

You never regret a workout

This is what I tell myself at 5:45am when I’m snug as a bug in a rug and the last thing I want to do is get out of my pit. The level of regret I feel when I miss a workout is astronomical and I feel guilty about it all day. As much as I feel like I don’t want to get out there, it’s 100% true that you never EVER regret a workout. Just getting out of the damn bed and getting on with it ensures I’m at peace with myself and puts me in a healthy mindset for the rest of the day.

The early bird catches the worm

This ties in with my previous point. If, like me, your power animal is the sloth, waking up at an unspeakable hour to workout seems like a tall order. But it’s because I love nothing better than getting into my jammies at 6pm and cutting myself off from civilisation that my early morning workouts are vital. I’ve learned the hard way that as much as I promise myself I’ll go to the gym after work, it NEVER happens. A tiring day at the office and a stressful commute home put me in a foul mood and in no state to leave the flat until the next day. By getting my exercise in at 6am, I’m still half asleep when I leave and am much less likely to talk myself out of it. Plus, like I said, a healthy start to the day makes for a continued effort the rest of the day.

So, those are my little nuggets of advice. If anyone else is on a health and fitness journey please leave a comment – I’d love to know what you’re doing to keep yourself on track.

Motivational Monday #4

22 September 2014

PicMonkey CollageThe more beady-eyed of you might have noticed my absence of late but I promise you there is a legitimate excuse! I have finally, after 10 months of burying my head in the sand, have SET MY WEDDING DATE. I’ll be getting married in late February which means I have only 5 months to get this show on the road. Frantic venue-viewing, registrar-booking, wedding-dress buying and craft-making have literally left me with no time for anything. But, with the bulk of the organising now completed, The Beauty Locker is back. With a vengeance.

I must admit that anything remotely healthy has gone out the window but with the panic mostly over, it’s time to get back on the horse and ride that beast. I always need an incentive to exercise and this is the perfect one. I don’t fancy being a rotund bride and certainly don’t want to look back at photos of said rotundness. And then there’s the honeymoon…no one wants to be mistaken for a beached whale while on supposedly the most romantic holiday of their life.

Saying that, I did go to a Bums, Tums & Thighs class a week ago and I still wake up in the morning feeling like I’ve been run over by a bus – must have been some workout! Definitely not just for mums as first assumed.

I’m too scared to weigh myself at the moment (sound familiar?) but this week should be a very active week. And with the weather cooling slightly, I’m excited to get running again. I’ve also been discovering that the lack of groceries in the fridge is wreaking havoc with my eating habits. When all there is in the fridge is chicken past its use-by date and a sorry looking onion, it’s been all too easy to surrender to half a loaf of tiger bread.

Even by writing this post and looking at pictures of sexy ladies, I already feel motivated. Let’s see how this week pans out, hey?

 

Motivational Monday #3

11 August 2014

motivational monayI don’t want to get my hopes up, but I think I’ve got back into the habit of doing regular exercise. Well, when I say habit I mean I’m ravaged by a crippling guilt if I go more than one day without doing any exercise. On the days where I haven’t felt like doing anything more than lie on the sofa feeling depressed, I’ve taken my own advice from last week and just put my damn gym clothes on. Unsurpisingly,squeezing myself into unspeakable amounts of lycra and seeing the result in mirror is enough to get me in the mood for exercise.

I also for the first time ever, went for a run in hot weather. I’d been using the heat wave as an excuse not to bother but decided enough was enough and got out there. I hate feeling hot and bothered but doing the 30 Day Shred has gotten me used to being literally dripping with sweat. So, I had a run round Wimbledon Common after work one evening and it was actually ok. There were times when I thought I was going to pass out from heat exhaustion but I didn’t and now I know I can run in any weather conditions without dying.

The 30 Day Shred DVD has been getting a good amount of use. It does get a bit repetitive but I’m a little bit in love with Jillian Michaels so it’s all good. On saturday morning I took the plunge and attended my first class at my new gym. I had no idea what to expect from Body Conditioning but it was similar to what I’ve been doing with young Jillian. Lots of squatting, lunging and push-ups.

Meals this week have been easy to keep healthy but it’s the snack attacks that get me. If I need something, I’ll have a bit of full fat Greek style yoghurt with a few berries or a sprinkling of granola. My scales have been crucial, it’s amazing how easy it is to underestimate a portion – I’d totally recommend getting some if you haven’t already. You don’t have to go all Nadine Coyle and take them out in your handbag to weigh out your 50g of sashimi but they’re definitely handy to have when you’re prepping meals and snacks at home.

Weight loss this week: 2.2lbs / 1kg
Total weight loss: 2.2lbs / 1kg

Motivational Monday #2

4 August 2014

Fitspo

It’s Monday again and time for another motivational boost. I was at my good friend’s wedding over the weekend which turned out to be three days of celebratory eating and drinking (although I’m sure I burnt off the weight of a small child on the dancefloor). So perhaps stepping on the scales this morning for the first time in three months wasn’t the best idea. The numbers weren’t great but at least I have a reference point and it’s given me a suitable shock to kick my ass into gear.

It’s funny, it’s only been a week since my first Motivational Monday post but I can already feel the benefits of documenting my progress publicly. Apart from Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s dietary shenanigans and exercise drought, I feel like I’m back in the health zone.

There have been a few things helping me along the way, including the My Fitness Pal app. I tend to plan my day’s food in advance alongside the app to make sure I’m fitting in the right foods. Sounds anal but by having a checklist of things to eat spaced out throughout the day means I’m less likely to be tempted by the constant supply of biscuits and Haribo at the office. Ice, lemon and sparkling water have also been extremely handy at staving off the snack attacks. When it comes to working out, having a clean set of gym gear laid out the night before means I can get straight into them either first thing in the morning or when I come home from work, rather than frantically turning my wardrobe upside down trying to find a bloody sports bra. They say (or, could be just me) that if you put on your workout clothes, you are 70% more likely to actually do some exercise.

I’m not usually one for inspirational quotes but the one above has really hit home and it’s kept me going when I haven’t felt like going to the gym. So, once again:

“It’s easier to wake up early and work out than it is to look in the mirror each day and not like what you see.”

Anyway, here’s a quick run-down of what I’ve been doing.

Last week…

  • I finally cracked open my 30 Day Shred DVD and did the first session which absolutely annihilated me
  • I joined the gym and have been twice this week, doing a 20 minute run and 20 minutes of weights
  • Filled the fridge with good food and planned each meal, tracking calories and keeping a close eye on carbs (I aim for around 50-70 grams per day)

This week…

  • I’ll do 3 sessions of 30 Day Shred
  • Check out a class or two at the gym
  • Continue planning and prepping meals

I’m feeling optimistic this week. My social calendar is looking pretty scanty for the first time in weeks so I shouldn’t be riddled with crippling hangovers for once.

Motivational Monday #1

28 July 2014

fitspo

Unlike most, the summer breeds an intense laziness within me and my podgy flesh. I have a strong suspicion I’ve put on the stone I lost last winter and my size 10s are making me feel like a stringed beef joint. Unsurprisingly I just don’t feel all that fabulous. During the past six months, I’ve done hardly any exercise and tried every diet going instead but it just doesn’t work. When I lost weight last year, I was in the gym by 7am Monday to Friday and watching what I ate like a hawk. I’d slack off a little in the weekends but made sure I did plenty of walking or a run and didn’t eat half my body weight in Ben & Jerry’s. It sounds intense, but looking back, I felt great and looked better, and I need to get it back!

I’m one of those people who needs some kind of incentive to get my fat ass into gear, and last year that was being a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. After that I massively fell off the wagon. This year, I got engaged, and you’d think my impending wedding would instil a bit of panic, but no! I’m guessing it’s the lack of a wedding date even though at this rate I know it’ll be a last minute job so I need to get rid of the jiggle ASAP!

I’m hoping that by sharing my journey back on the metaphorical horse with you guys, I’ll try harder. I’d much rather get back in the gym than be embarrassed by my failure!

I’m going to start by having a quick run down to the gym this evening and signing myself up. I’ve also got a big Tesco food shop coming today so I’m going to prep some healthy meals and snacks for the week. If you’re interested in any more details leave a comment. If you’re not, I’m going to tell you anyway ;)

Paleo Eating in London

5 November 2013

The proper cold weather hasn’t even set in yet but I already appear to be growing an extra cosy layer of lard, brought on by gorging copious amounts of sliced white and sugary treats. This would be excellent news if I was a squirrel preparing for my winter hibernation but the reality is I’m a lot less cute and slightly less hairy and need to get into my motivation dress in time for Christmas. (EDIT: since writing this draft, Mr TBL has popped the question so wedding dress panic has ensued.)

It’s fair to say I’ve not only slipped off the wagon, I’ve also been run over by oncoming traffic. This time last year I was waking up at 5:30am and going to the gym or for a run. These days at 5:30am I’m most likely unconscious and in the middle of a night terror with a rendition of “belly’s gonna get ya” booming from the in-slumber entertainment system. But this is where it ends – I have the dreaded Body Pump class booked for tomorrow and I’ve strictly adhered to the Paleo diet when doing my Tesco online grocery shop.

I’ve been dabbling on and off with Paleo for a while now (I won’t get into the ins and outs of it as it seems to be a bit of a touchy subject), and while it’s all well and good sticking to it in a domestic setting where you have complete control, eating out can be difficult. If I had a pound for each time I’ve been apoplectic with rage in Tesco and can’t find a decent salad with no grains I’d probably have enough money for a des res in Surrey. So, after a bit of research, mainly through trial and error, I’ve come up with a bit of a Paleo eater’s guide for London which I hope you find useful. Even if you’re not a Paleo-er, it’s still handy for anyone trying to lay off the carbs.

TAKE AWAY

Standard Supermarkets

This is your cheapest and most versatile option. In London, you’re never more than five metres away from a rat – and this dubious statistic can probably be applied to a certain well-known supermarket. When you’re in the capital, you’ll see numerous “express” versions of the supermarkets which have limited choices compared to their bigger siblings but you’ll find everything you need to satisfy your hunger. My favourite grab-and-go morsels are cooked chicken breasts, sliced cooked meats, salad leaves, berries, courgettes, avocados, nuts, herbs and olive oil. Look out for those warmers usually by the entrance for hot roast chicken which is a bit nicer than the chilled stuff. This might be really sad but I usually keep a small Tupperware box in my handbag to assist with salad-making on the go. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you have to resort to eating your salad out of a cellophane Florette bag.

Specialist Shops

By specialist I mean places like Whole Foods Market and Holland & Barrett. I recently popped into Whole Foods in search for Paleo-friendly snacks and, after I recovered from my heart attack induced by the shock of their kale chips’ price tag, I was pleasantly surprised. I picked up some home-made guacamole, almond butter and some delicious Serious Pig cured meat. You can also find Nakd Bars there if you’re after something sweet but you’re better off stocking up on these at Holland & Barrett when the relentless Penny Sale is on. This is also where you can get packets of plain macadamia nuts, and every other kind of nut your heart desires.

This is super-specialist but The Savanna (seven locations around London including Paddington, Victoria and Liverpool Street stations) is a hidden treasure and it’s not just for South Africans! Their Biltong is a superb snack, particularly the Peri Peri flavour (the chilli jam one was delicious too but I was suspicious of the sweet taste). But at £40 per kilogram, it’s quite pricey. However, this delicious beefy snack is handy to have in your bag and satisfies salt cravings like a dream, loved by cavemen and non-cavemen alike.
the savanna
Pret/Eat/Pod/Itsu/etc.

The frustration with these places is the addition of carby ingredients in almost everything. However, don’t write them off completely. Their selections are always changing and you can usually find some nice salads. Pret is currently doing a crayfish and avocado salad (they call it a no-bread sandwich – insert eye roll here) which is surprisingly good. If you’re after a smaller snack, they’re also selling pots containing two boiled eggs and a bit of spinach – perfect. The lesser known Camden Food Co. does a chicken, bacon and boiled egg salad – Paleo heaven. It does randomly have a few bits of skinless boiled potato (it took me three attempts of buying the salad to identify the potato as such) but you can push those aside if you’re offended by them. How long these Paleo-friendly options hang around for remains to be seen but they’re worth trying.

Tossed (incidentally, is anyone else mildly shocked by the whole “the tossers are coming” slogan?!) is a great option as you can build your own salad and there’s plenty of choice. Massive portions too. Itsu does various low-carb salad boxes with salmon, tuna, chicken and avocado which all get a thumbs up.

EATING IN

Steak Restaurants

London is packed with steak restaurants – American, British, Argentinian, you name it. If you’re feeling flush, steak is an excellent choice. It depends on how strict you are but some of these places sell grain-fed beef and others are grass-fed so it might be double check beforehand. However, the newly opened STK in the ME Hotel on The Strand serves grain-fed American beef, and as the waiter confirmed, this makes for bigger, fatter cows. The fillet was the most tender I’ve ever had.

By far the best steak (in my opinion) is The Hawksmoor – which I suspect is trying (successfully) to poach steak loving custom from Gaucho. Juicy steaks and a selection of Paleo-friendly sides to choose from – what’s not to love? Pricey? Yes, but top quality delicious and grass-fed British beef comes at a price. Best saved for a treat.

Gaucho wins for sheer choice of steak cuts (which are all grass-fed). If you’re after a dark and moody ambience this is the one. And with 12 branches dotted across the capital, you can usually walk in without a booking (although the Piccadilly branch is almost always full at peak times).

Burger Restaurants

I’m not talking Burger King. I mean proper burgers. You’re never too far from a Byron, which does a Skinny burger (no bun). If I’m honest, in my pre-Paleo days, Byron burgers were one of my favourites but the Skinny burger just doesn’t cut it. On its own, it’s a little dry and a little boring. It comes with a generous helping of salad but that’s about it. Haché (located in Shoreditch, Clapham, Chelsea and Camden) are a lot more creative with their burgers, which are all grass-fed and available with a big salad instead of the bun – definitely worth a try – the All Day Breakfast Burger is Paleo heaven. Look out for specials throughout the year, like the Iceburger they had on during the summer – see below – get it?!
hache iceburger
Turkish Restaurants

Grilled juicy chicken and lamb served with salad – skip the rice and bread and you’re golden. Stoke Newington is your best bet for choice but the Best Mangal Kebab & Cafe Bar on Old Street (excuse the slightly disturbing homepage, they’re a lot friendlier than they look) is the best Turkish I’ve been too, and is excellent value. Huge portions for around £6 – yes please.
best mangal
Vietnamese/Chinese/Thai Restaurants

Obviously many of these base their dishes around rice and noodles but there is hope! Rice and noodles are normally ordered separately, so you can go ahead and order a meat dish. Do be careful as these places love their vegetable oil, deep fat fryers and sugar. You’ll always find something that is relatively Paleo-friendly though; just order a side of salad, pak choi or morning glory instead of the rice. I recommend Cay Tre on Old Street (amazing Shaking Beef) and Thai Cottage in Soho for good food and lovely staff.

To conclude, it’s probably best to avoid:

• Pubs: Everything is wrapped in pastry and served with “mash or chips”
• Italian: If it doesn’t come with pasta or bread, they probably don’t have it
• Boots: Surprisingly carb-heavy zone
• Greggs: Enough said

If anyone has any other tips on Paleo eating in London comment below – I’m always hunting for new things to get my hands on!

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