The 7-Eleven guide to eating out when you are weight training (because temptation never closes)

NB. I actually wrote this post on 3 March 2014. It was sitting in my drafts folder, so now I am setting it free.

 

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

It’s seems incredibly ironic that the day I scheduled to write this post on making good food choices when you are eating out, (whilst adhering to a weight training\nutrition program) I’d just been to a yum cha lunch and high tea the day before. Hmmm. But, this is life right? We are going to be asked to attend events (especially when you are a food writer), have well meaning family and friends try to steer you off course at great restaurants or just be super tired and find it easier to pit stop at [insert fast food joint name here] on the way home.

It happens. All the time. Every day.

Temptation.

Like a 7-Eleven, it dazzles us with it’s shiny packaging, accessibility, wide variety and offerings of things we wouldn’t of even contemplated. It’s super easy to go in and then come out with a myriad of things you don’t need (or want to eat) because it is just there. The trick is, to have a purpose. You can outwit the bright lights and still indulge, while keeping elements of guilt and nutrition in order. And we all know what that annoying, aching guilt trip we put ourselves on feels like:

Urgh, why did I eat that bucketful of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream? I thought I could just have a small bowl, but now I’m staring at an empty container and feeling sick. Man, I’ve got no self-control.

Don't Quit

Don’t Quit

OR

I’ll just have a handful of crisps.

[5 mins later…]

Okay, maybe another handful – just gotta round this one out with some even numbers.

[2 mins later]

Maybe I will just eat half the large packet, because I went to the gym three times this week and I’ll go again tomorrow to make it up.

[1 min later]

Packet gone.

Crisps= 100 points

You = 0 points

And we all know this scenario:

Waiter: Would you like to see the dessert menu?

Us: No, that’s okay. Oh, actually… I’ll just have a look.

15 mins and one Creme Brûlée later, we are bloated – cursing ourselves and working out how to work it off.

I know some of these examples are home-centric, but I really want to highlight the ease of relenting to desire and eating high sugar\processed\low nutritional value food. It’s incredibly seamless how we can shift into mindless eating mode, once our tastebuds get that hit of sweetness or salty potato chips – it is all over. A lot of times these foods are not designed to satiate us and we just keep consuming, consuming and increasing our addictive quota to them.

So how the hell do we win the 7-Eleven game? I’ve got seven tips I use to always help me make a relatively good decision, alleviate the guilt monster and ensure I enjoy what I consume. Because you know what? As I mentioned in last weeks post, I do love good food and I am all for eating delectable treats. BUT, when your goal (like mine) is to gain muscle, increase your fitness and overall health a bit of fancy sidestepping never goes astray.

  1. Protein rules: If you are looking at a menu and the allure of a carbonara pasta dish or toasted sandwich with hot chips is making your mouth water, think about protein. Protein is the key element that will fill you up, ensure you are hitting your protein totals for the day and help with blood sugar stabilisation. Carbohydrate laden dishes like these, are  packed with excess calories and may make you feel more bloated than full. If you really want the pasta – go for one with chicken, meat, lots of vegetables or seafood. Choose an entree size and have a salad as well. With the toasted sandwich, I would do the same and perhaps hold off the chips or share with a friend.
  2. Choose – booze is a rouse: Yesterday, at both the yum cha lunch and high tea I went to – champagne was literally on tap. It requires no effort to say yes and those dang champagne glasses are so small, I always lost count of how many I had. Because I knew I was going to be eating great quality and rich food, I bypassed drinking and had sparkling water\plain water instead. For me it’s about the calories. Yes, I had been to the gym that morning and did a weights session, but I would’ve easily had four glasses at the lunch and at approx 90 calories a glass that is 360 calories already. So you can choose, if you booze – opt to eat less of the ‘good stuff’ as alcohol is a the little known fourth macronutrient.
  3. Small servings: When there is a lot to choose from and\or you are keen to try different foods, I would encourage choosing entree sizes and sharing with friends or splitting a couple of main meals. This way you can enjoy your dining out experience and not blow out your calorie totals for the day. As with point #1 always add vegetables, a salad, good protein sources and if having entrees opt out of dessert. If having dessert opt out of entrees.
  4. Green tea: Yum cha fans will know that jasmine\chinese\green tea is typically always served. This is to aid digestion and assist in breaking down the food you are eating. I adopt this same principle when I am eating dessert. I always order a green tea, even though I love black coffee – I save this for the mornings and think more about how to aid the process of breaking down the fats and sugars. Even though it has caffeine, the tea is a rich source of antioxidants as well. If you are sensitive to caffeine and are eating out at night – even a herbal tea like peppermint is a good substitute.
  5. Eat clean at other meals in the day: I practise IF [Intermittent Fasting] everyday, so tend not to eat until 1pm each day. For dinner yesterday, even thought I was tempted to eat some chilli con carne I’d made and put lots of mozzarella cheese on it – I opted for a less caloric dense meal. Instead, I’d roasted a chicken the night before – so I warmed that up, shredded it and added diced cucumber, fresh tomato, a small bit of goats fetta, lots of lemon juice, splash of balsamic and seasoning and some inca incha oil. Pretty simple dinner. With eating out, ensure the other meals in your day are protein rich and filled with good fresh produce.
  6. Say no if you are full, 80% is the new 100%: Yesterday at the high tea, little vanilla macaroons came around after we’d consumed: tempura vegetables with miso and soba noodles, fried calamari with crisp vegetables, vol au vents peanut butter, raspberry and hazelnut mousse cake, green tea cake and choux pastry with custard and passionfruit fondant (you get my drift right?). I am more of a savoury than sweet person and I did sample a few of the sweet desserts, but when the macaroons came around I politely declined. I’d hit saturation, my sweet quota was maxed out and I was good. Previously I would’ve demolished everything in sight, been on a crazy sugar high and then crashed and burned and felt bleurgh. It truly is about fighting FOMO (fear of missing out), sitting at 80% full is great. Once your stomach catches up with your brain, you’ll feel satiated – especially when the food we ate was made out of great produce. I understand for those sweet tooths this is HARD. I get it. I used to be the same when it came to cheese. This is where sharing is good. Split treats with your friends and then drink water, fill up on it!
  7. Quality versus quantity: Ensure you choose food that comes from a great source. Junk food on the run will be your worst option here. You’ll now if the produce isn’t great, as you’ll still be hungry. Great food like local cheeses, desserts made with quality produce, fresh fruits and cream and also seasonal vegetables and market seafood or protein from good farms are really good options. If you are not eating out and need to grab something on the run – a kebab sans the bread is a good choice (opt for fresh cut meat), burgers with chicken (real chicken breast if you can) and salad boxes with protein are good too. Bypass the chips, soft drinks and other sugar filled add ons. If you are hanging for a sweet hit – try dark chocolate, yoghurt with stewed fruit, lsa, coconut sugar, banana protein smoothie or good old peanut butter!

calamarisalad

Eating out doesn’t need to be an experience where you are trying to dodge traps or announce that you are on a ‘diet’, deprive yourself or modify the meal to the point the waiter has a quizzical eyebrow raised at you. Treat yourself. It’s great to enjoy the experience of great venues and food really unites people – I truly believe it is a great element of society.

But just remember the 7-Eleven guide, remember what you came to buy. If you do get tempted by the bright, shiny lights – modify your intake for the rest of your day and always know temptation never, never closes. It’s you who becomes a conscious consumer and taking back control is an incredibly rewarding feeling. Also, once you see the muscle gains from adherence to your nutrition program – man it does something to your overall mindset. For me, seeing clear changes in my physique and lifting strength propels me forward and keeps me from wanting to eat low nutrition food. I just want to keep fuelling it with great produce as the results are SO motivating. I feel focused, disciplined and like optimum health is achievable.

Sparkling water makes everything a bit fancy.

Sparkling water makes everything a bit fancy.

Also, as a side note on alcohol I recently did Febfast and didn’t drink for 28 days. It was an interesting experience to be surrounded by so much alcohol at both events (I used to LOVE being intoxicated), but after absorbing research that confirms alcohol inhibits muscle gain, I found my why. And that is what this journey is about, finding the one thing that is enough to keep you focused on your individual goal. Next week, I’m chatting to some peeps on the program and finding out how the last 8 weeks has impacted their lives on this program – both good and bad. Till then, lift strong!

5 Tips on how to beat getting down about weight training.

As an optimistic person, I live to find the relative best in situations. Being a part-realist means I’m also highly conscious some things are going to suck. Big time. It’s this suckage element that inspires me to share my downsides on weight training with you. Weight training isn’t all about going to the gym and praying a great, functional and aesthetically pleasing body is going to result. It’s part grit, determination, sacrifice and pain.

But…

The end results are totally, totally achievable. And you can do it. I’ve taken the five downsides and stepped them out into flipsides – how they are beneficial for you. We can swim around like Nemo being naively optimistic and hoping for good outcomes or, we can be conscious of pitfalls and create pathways to reduce us falling into them.

I saw Michelle Bridges speak at a Business Chicks event this week, on Valentine’s Day. What a great way to start the day. Loving yourself and your body first and foremost. She spoke about putting your desires into action plans. Otherwise it is just an idea right? An image in your head of how you may look… one day. The part that resonated with me the most was JFDI (Just freaking do it! Although I far prefer the uncensored version Just f**king do it!)

Quotes

JFDI

Michelle doesn’t bounce out of bed at 5am to go for a 10km run or train. Her entry into the world is more sedate and grumpy. At 5am she is a robot, crawls out of bed, puts clothes on (laid out the night before) and just… goes. JFDI. If you are clear on your end result, and want it bad – you do the steps to get there. Yes, there is suckage and if celebrities like Michelle aren’t enthused about it either (the getting up and doing it bit), that’s kinda good to know. It’s a common problem.

Michelle Bridges

Michelle Bridges source credit http://www.glamour.com

So, let’s JFDI. In my last post, I promised I would break down these five areas:

  1. Macronutrients. Counting them. All of them damn things.

  2. Logging your work outs (more admin really?).

  3. Keeping up to date with all the online group posts. Argh! It’s hard enough with social media.

  4. DOMS. Pain. Why am I doing this again?

  5. Intermittent Fasting.

Macronutrients. Counting them. All of them damn things.

When I found out I HAD to count them, I was so overwhelmed. ADMIN. I am not wired to love ADMIN. Numbers. Weighing food. It seemed like the biggest hassle in the world. I sat back and started researching. This is my default when I don’t want to do something. I find out how other people are doing it, what the great ‘shortcuts’ are (tools and resources) and how I can do the same thing.

For those wondering what the hell Macronutrients are, it is the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fat in a food. For example according to My Fitness Pal, 100g of raw coconut meat has 15g of carbs, 34g of fat and 3g of protein. As my program has a nutritional guide, I need to ensure I am hitting the right ratios each day to complement my strength training, ensure adequate protein consumption and main good nutrition.

This article by one of my trainers Mike Vacanti helps debunk the dystopian world of calorie counting. I started getting it and more importantly seeing the value in it. Signing up to My Fitness Pal was the next step. Since then, I’ve been advised there are some other great tools:

Fitocracy Macros

My Net Diary

My Fitness Pal

You log in each day (or every few days if you have a good memory) and record what you eat. It then converts the information into calories and macronutrients. On my weight training days I have 2140 calories (of protein, fat and carbs), on non-training days 1444 calories. Before this program I  was eating well, but with no idea of volumes. I had a predisposition for carbs and was not eating nearly enough protein. Now, I have clear exposure to how to fuel my body and the amounts I need to eat.

By no means do you HAVE to do this, it would be a good experiment even for one month – just to see if you are conscious of your caloric intake. For example I love peanut butter and a good tablespoon of that has 10g of fat in it! I could probably eat half a jar. Now I know the ratios, enjoying it in measured amounts is better.

Logging your work outs (more admin really?)

Fitocracy is a great gamified platform to record your training sessions. It’s free (you can pay to have extra features) and similar to logging your macros, you go in each time or, when you can and note down all the reps\sets\exercises you do. Your workout is awarded points and it is SUPER motivating (if you like getting recognition, I do!). As it is a global community, other people will give you ‘props’ and can comment or encourage you.

As your points accumulate you move up to different levels and receive ‘awards’. It’s simple to use and the bonus is it houses all your workout information and you can track your progress. This is crucial to having clear exposure on your strength outcomes. All the hard work has been done for you with this program. There is an extensive database of exercises you can search and, once you’ve created programs you can duplicate them and just change the numbers. ADMIN made fun. My kinda thang.

Dog

Not more admin

Keeping up to date with all the online group posts. Argh! It’s hard enough with social media.

At last count I am part of 20 closed Facebook groups and two Google+ closed groups. Not to mention other website communities I am involved in. WHEW. Social media is all pervasive. Now, I don’t spend a lot of time on the socials. Through extensive trial and errors (including deleting the socials off my mobile) I now dive into the groups at particular times, on my laptop. My point is, online communities are incredibly valuable – but pick your community and your purpose. What benefit are you deriving, what you are contributing and how much time do you want to spend there?

With Roman Fitness Systems, I am part of a group of around 65 community members (around the world) and it is super helpful. At times when I have lacked motivation to go to the gym, was in pain, had food questions, or just confused about how the hell to do a Pallof Press, I jumped into the group and hey presto – question answered. I typically dive in around 2-3 times a week and do get notifications on my mobile. This is the only group I get notifications for as my most important priority right now is my HEALTH. 

I don’t answer or comment on everything (I used to have this weird habit where I HAD to – anyone else had that?), now I just scan what is happening. When Q&A sessions are coming up I check what pertinent info I need to know and if others struggling with the same problems I have. The socials can be a massive TIME SUCK otherwise. Allocate a set time period and then back out. It’s like pokie machines. Don’t get caught staying put – cash out!

DOMS. Pain. Why am I doing this again?

This is a stark reality of any strength training program. Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness. In my post I touched on a good article that clarifies what this means. You start to become one with PAIN. It’s not always fun, but there is a big difference between pain and strain. Pain is muscle soreness from microtears to your muscle fibres and the resulting growth and repair from that. Strain can be from poor technique, not warming up or cooling down and or any aggravated injuries.

It’s not about lifting heavy, technique is the critical factor. Form will always surpass amount. 

Good ways to alleviate DOMS include:

Icebaths – or if you can stand in water. I head to the beach 2-3 times a week and the cool, salt water is fantastic.

Magnesium – will help you sleep and also help with muscle recovery.

Foam rollers – a friend of mine calls this “the poor man’s massage.” A good roll out can really help iron out tension. It does hurt at times! Breathe through it, take your time and do some stretching as well.

Stretching – I am a big fan of this and will stretch out after every session. Yoga stretches are also ideal.

Intermittent Fasting

I’m going to do a blog series on my experience with IF (Intermittent Fasting) as it is a world onto itself.

As opposed to full fasting, IF can range from 12-16 hours. For example, I fast for around 14-16 hours everyday. On my program we eat within an eight hour period (mine is typically midday – 10pm, it fluctuates between those hours) and then fast from 10pm to midday onwards the next day. Now, it can look like I am just ‘skipping breakfast’ – but the actuality is, consumption of all my calories is in a set period.

Why would I want to do that? This article by John Romaniello is a good overview and the benefits of this practice. IF is a common method followed by people in the strength training world. It can be hard though (at first). I started around nine months ago after watching a documentary by Dr Michael Moseley, so I had some experience before I started this program. For me, the benefits have outweighed the initial resistance, hunger and struggle I had with it. And… I am a breakfast person! I freaking LOVE breakfast. It has all my favourite foods and meals. But, I persevered and it is doable. For the first month of this program though, I relied a bit on black coffee to to help stave off hunger.

Brunch

For any questions you may have, John has outlined a great FAQ – it’s lighthearted, informative and even has videos.

One of the main benefits of IF has to do with blood sugar, which Dr Moseley talks extensively about. How IF from a fat-burning perspective works to regulate insulin as you are not in a ‘fed state’, when your body producing insulin constantly to shuttle glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream over to muscles, liver or fat cells for storage.

Now I will put a disclaimer on this last one, as I am not a medical professional and am very hesitant to dispense advice (which is why I am not diving in too deep). I’m more than happy to talk anecdotally about my experiences, but would strongly recommend you read the suggested articles and also speak to your own health professionals pending your own fitness and health status.

Next week we get onto the fun stuff – recipes. One of my absolute favourite pastimes – cooking. I will be sharing my fallback secrets with you.

Till then, train well, eat well and JFDI!

The 5 Pro’s and the 5 Cons of weight training

Yo, yo folks.

How’s the quest for fitness going? Swimming in an eternal sea of egg whites and soy-protein-isolate-hold-the-sugar protein powders? In my last post on getting started with this whole weight training caper I touched on what this post would be about. The benefits and downsides of weight training. Namely in direct correlation with this style of training I am doing: online group coaching.

In the interest of being economical with my words, this one will be somewhat short and sweet. Like a good hit of stevia. This is designed to give you a good solid overview [from my first-hand experience]. I’ll outline the reality and journey of taking on board a program like this. Why? To help provide you with key insights into:

a) Planning weight training and meals [including macronutrients]

b) The importance of tracking your work outs and logging your nutritional intake

c) Mindset. How we can be our own worst enemy or best friend.

Gold's Gym. One day.

So like a good hypertrophy set we want to smash out, let’s hit it:

Pro’s

  1. Feel good: Like the new Pharrell song ‘Happy‘ (my friend sent me one of the one hour versions – this is the 4.08 min one), you will feel good. Afterwards. I can not stress that enough. It’s almost like you need to bottle the ‘feeling’ after a good weights workout and measure it out in doses before you go. Why?  Y’know how your mind starts saying things like  “there’s a good show on tv”, “I don’t feel like it, I have so much to do…”, remembering the ‘feel good’ feeling and choosing to have more of it, has immense knock-on effects in your life. Namely: confidence, you start sleeping better, you become stronger (mentally, physically and emotionally) and the big one: you are putting yourself first. That is huge. You’re saying, I’m worth it. I deserve to be happy and this is how I can make that happen.

  2. Money, you can save it: Holler! Did someone say “save money?” Yup, this is true. Although, you need to be clever about this. It costs me $77USD a month for this 16 week challenge. With today’s exchange that’s $88AUD for my Aussie readers. That gets me a full nutritional and training program – specifically designed for my needs (muscle gain), access to John’s brain and his colleague Mike Vacanti on pretty much any question under the sun I have (24/7) and the one worth it’s weight in dumbbells, the online group itself. There are 70 people in my group that I have forged friendships with. Four weeks ago, I knew known of these people. Now, they are a community of fellow lifters who share their ups and downs, recipes, tips and training wins. I totally love it. The program breaks down to three sessions per week, split into four monthly phases. The next step would be to find a good gym based on what your income\needs allow you to spend.
  3. Gymtastic: Speaking of which, you may either have your own gym (that you go to or set up at home), be in the market to join one or I’m not sure what another or would be…maybe where you live there is one in the complex. At the moment I am b) in the market to join one. I have a base that I use on a casual basis (I buy passes), but currently I am trying out gyms. Most gyms will provide you with free one – seven day passes and this is a super way to use the equipment, find out if it works for you either location or purpose wise and if the prices are within your range. Now, why is the gym a pro? (Let’s just include home set ups in this too). Well, firstly it’s you time. It’s a devoted allocation of your resources to achieve an outcome in a set environment (sheesh that sounded very organisational psychology book-ish). Put in other words, this is the place that is going to get you where you need to go. It can be socially interactive, a great chance to check-out and check-in to your health, and meet like minded crew to share the journey.
  4. Planning queen: Man, last year I was one of the most impulsive people around. I had so many things crammed into my week, that my health and fitness was playing quietly in a corner. On someone’s else’s calendar. Now that the word ‘Strong’ is one of my core desired feelings (massive, massive kudos to Danielle La Porte’s ‘The Desire Map’ for this), I create my schedule around this. Big, big shift from last year. I tried every product under the sun to get organised, create schedules and plan – but I find Google calendar works best for me. Simple. I set appointments to go to the gym, make them recurring and even type the work out into the calendar as well. That way I have it on me always (on my phone). I’ve synced my calendars (home and work) so that I know exactly when I need to go or can prepare in advance. This saves you double booking yourself, as the aim is to make it non-negotiable. This does take time. As the ‘feel good’ feeling rises, so does the planning. I completely understand if this seems daunting, hard or ‘another thing’ you have to do. That was my feeling exactly. The reward (you feeling good) is really worth it though, once you set this up – it’s done!
  5. Positive mindset: It feels like a good segue into this. Trust me when I say, your mind will totally be your own worst enemy or best friend. 85% of the time, I am talking myself out of it. Really. I think of every reason not to go. Then, I sit quietly and work out why. Often it’s because I feel like I need to do SO many other things. But then I think about the ‘feel good’ thing and realise – the SO many other things will be done in a better way, because I honoured my health and I’m also strengthening my mental discipline. On the occasions (there have been two since my last post) I couldn’t go – this was genuinely due to travel and meeting commitments, I made the sessions up on another day (this weekend actually!) The interesting thing with this, was that I could’ve gone. If I woke up early and hit the gym. But I didn’t. And…I didn’t beat myself  up for it. I am not an overly morning person, I chose to schedule them in another time. Positive mindset works in a few parts. You’ll start becoming accountable to yourself (and others if you have an accountability buddy or training partner), you’ll also be kind to yourself, understanding your weaker moments and finding ways to improve them. When that dialogue kicks in (as in my case) – it’s pretty empowering to be able to just get up and go. Not feeding the negativity is key. Staying calm and focused is.

For six months of last year – I practised yoga and meditation through an awesome company called Yogaglo. It really helped me to find that inner resolve through all the debris of internal chatter, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and need to be ‘on’. As a sidenote for Yogaglo, they are California based company that provide online yoga and meditation classes for $18USD ($20AUD) per month. It’s unlimited and you can choose from 5 min meditations to 45 minute yoga classes and everything in between. There’s a 15-day free trial on at the moment if you’d like to check it out.

Well, in my quest to stay ‘economical’ with my words, I feel it’s best to leave the post at this point. It’s good to digest all these positive pro’s and work out what your next action steps may be. I’ll put together the 5 Cons in my next one. There I will divulge the a) and b) statements I made at the beginning and how they drove me bonkers at the start, but now I actually enjoy it (weird). They will be:

2013-11-07 09.32.41

  1. Macronutrients. Counting them. All of them damn things.
  2. Logging your work outs (more admin really?).
  3. Keeping up to date with all the online group posts. Argh! It’s hard enough with social media.
  4. DOMS. Pain. Why am I doing this again?
  5. Intermittent Fasting.
Quote

Do or do not. There is no try. Thanks Yoda.

Till then, stay strong and love to hear how you stay positive in your weight training journey.

Announcing… The next social experiment challenge! Here’s the overview.

16 Weeks ‘til Sexiness. No doubt that title caught your eye as much as it did mine. When my foray into the social experiment I did last year Changing Habits, Changing Lives  ended, I was left with a leaner body, a pantry devoid of more-ish junk food and a good feeling. I managed to *stick* with something and produce an end result. For an incredibly impulsive, [former] emotional eater and ‘where’s the fun at?’ person, this was a significant milestone.

wine, leona devaz, party

Anytime is the wine time.

What does one do with all this new found liberation? Why, undo it all of course. In December I tripped the light alcoholtastic and revelled in this new *ahem* healthy me. Red wine, white wine, blue wine, any wine seemed to pervade most meals and as with most things I do, that had to come to a screaming halt [insert high pitched screeeeeeeechhhhhhh noise. Right. About. Here]

So I ask this question. Why? Why do we do that to ourselves? Achieve a challenging health goal and then bask in drunken glory like we are at a soccer match and our team just won. [minus the shirt over your head and running around on the field. How do they not bump into anyone? Sheer talent]

soccer, drunk, perth glory

YEHHHHHH!

This question was still doing an intoxicated dance in my mind one night pre-Christmas, when a Fitocracy email  landed in my inbox. Fitocracy is a website designed to provide an interactive experience by allowing you to track your workout sessions in a gamified fashion [great for ex-sales people like me who get giddy at the thought of being rewarded].

Fitocracy

Fitocracy: image sourced from http://www.pcmag.com

The email was ‘promoting’ different online group coaching programs that started in the New Year. At first, I thought “what the freak?” [well, I actually wasn’t as eloquent as that], “how the freak do you train in an online group? I mean, what.. you have to go to the gym by yourself? And then what?” So many questions, I was kind’ve in my own quiz show.

I looked at the programs and when I saw John Romaniello  the weight training side of me was reignited. Well, it was more than that really. I jolted up like someone had branded me with a pinging hot cattle prod in my butt. Yeouch! This was my train of thought:

WOW. He’s hot!

OMG. He’s based in NY. I’d love to go to NY.

He’s a writer. I’m a writer!

He’s a prolific writer for major publications and a NY best-selling author. Amazing. I’m in the writing industry too, this could be great research.

It’s only $77 USD a month. What? That is freaking cheap! I can do that.

You get a program, nutrition guide and be part of a group. Cool! I love making new friends.

John Romaniello

John Romaniello: image sourced from http://www.criticalbench.com

And so on, I’m sure you’re getting the gist of my excitement. The program 16 Weeks ’til Sexiness sounded like a pretty sweet deal. Access to an incredibly well-known celebrity trainer for a hugely reduced price. I’m sold.

Then, I got derailed. By these guys. Ryan and Eric – The Sons of Strength and their program Constructing the Champion. You can see why I got sidelined and put back on the bench. The thing that ruled me last year and for many years of my life [and most people I hear] came creeping up and roundhoused me. FOMO [y’know the one: Fear of Missing Out]. So, then my brain tried to be logical and weigh it up:

WOW. Not one, but two hot guys! Double the deal – sheesh that is a bigger incentive.

They are in NY too.

OMG they train actresses. I used to do theatre arts, maybe I’ll become a fit actress?

Oh, you get access to a group as well? Imagine all the cool people in that group.

Their program creates champions. I’d like to be a champion. Not sure what at though, but it sounds good.

$99 USD. So slightly more than the other one, but still super affordable.

etc…

Eric and Ryan Johnson, Fitocracy

Eric and Ryan Johnson: imaged sourced from http://www.fitocracy.com

And then in a very-unlike me fashion. I did nothing.

I figured, I’d let it incubate and decide later.

One week later, I registered. Which one do you think I went for?

Part of me wants to leave it hanging to the next post, but I’m not one for surprises.

Announcing the winner… Roman Fitness Systems! Why? Because he’s a writer. Yes, really. I was completely impressed with the quality of information he produces and his devotion to all things health and fitness [and of course, he gets results]. PLUS, he loves Arnie . Anyone who loves The Governor is good in my book. Also, he is incredibly funny and I think you need that kind of trainer when you are about to embark on a solo [but part of an interweb group – weird concept] training adventure.

Arnie, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Inimitable Arnie: image sourced from http://www.twitter.com\banana_arnie

If you are on a weight-training, improve your fitness or just start moving more journey, I would love to hear about it. It’s bloody challenging that’s for sure. I mean you have to be motivated, get up [early], lift the weights [urgh, heavy] and coordinate gym outfits. Whoops, maybe that is just me.

As a former PT and dance instructor, I totally freaking get it. I really do. So, this is my current social experiment: weight training. And all that surrounds it. Next week, I’ll chat about getting started [it was not smooth sailing for me] and how if you are a beginner, coming back to resistance training or just wanna fling some iron around, how to get going.

And, as any ‘research fixated freelance writer’ like me knows, it pays to uncover as much as you can. Check out John’s wife. That’s motivation right there. I read on her Instagram page a guy challenged her to a pull-up comp. At a Irish pub. Using a door frame.

Girl can lift.

Changing Habits, Changing Lives – not even halfway #Day 15

mykonos

 

2.5 months ago, I was sprawled out on a day bed in Ftelia Beach enjoying the serene surrounds of Alemagou. Where and what you ask? Check it out. For those familiar with the North side beaches of Mykonos, this is a seductive heaven. Your own cozy cove complete with beach restaurant and bar to whet your appetite and refresh your palate. Or should that be the other way around? The half empty cocktail is getting me ‘virtually’ drunk.

This paradise provides two things I love – great food and an escape. If you’re getting to know my posts now, you’ll know what this meal represented – three things I loved more than life itself perhaps. Bread, booze and potatoes. I really indulged myself with this meal that day. I felt like this afterwards:

Taz

 

Meet Taz, the owner’s dog and a delightfully friendly fellow. I’m sure if I consumed the delectable dishes you’ll see on the link, I probably would’ve gone into a food coma. A good one, nonetheless. Why am I tormenting myself and you with distant memories of sunny Greek sojourns? To recount a time not so long ago, that I did not think twice about decadence. Cocktail? Great, I’ll have 10. Massive meal whilst laying on the beach doing nothing? Sounds grand. Sure, holidays are made for sedentary pursuits and trying the cuisine, but what about if your lifestyle is already sedentary and your home cooked meals are based on globe-trotting fare? An expanding waistline is the lucky prize.

So fast-forward to now, Day #15 of Changing Habits, Changing Lives and I’ve really started to rethink the 5 W’s.

What I ate?

Why I ate it?

When I ate it?

Where I ate it?

How I ate it?

Thinking long and hard about it, boiled down to one thing: mindless eating. I ate because I could, because it was there and because I was trying to fill the emptiness and not address it. Food carries such strong emotional ties for people. I know with things like depression the tendency to eat carbs skyrockets, food marketing makes us feel like we want it and the big trap that most everyone falls into: reminder, routine, reward. Have a read of this insightful post, it’ll help change any automatic triggers you may fall into when it comes to eating processed (junk) food.

The Changing Habits Facebook fan page is living proof what great nutrition and wholefoods can do. With over 24,800 fans – this community is an upward trajectory. Cyndi has made it her life’s mission to educate people and for that, I am in total admiration. It’s no mean feat to undo years of food marketing ‘brainwashing’. My friend summarised it really well today:

For so long we lived in a techno-food era, where everything was processed: low-fat, no sugar, manufactured and we bought into it because it was all we knew. We’d been educated to believe that by marketers and until recently the swing has gone to the other extreme – natural food. Now, we want to be healthy, because we know exactly what techno-food is doing to us. Not a lot of good that’s for sure.

So, how have I about faced in 15 days? Pretty dramatically to be honest. Sometimes life is a fortuitous blend of serendipitous people and moments, other times it’s you doing the hard yards to create space for these occurrences. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for lining up our fortune to be honest.

eggsHere’s my top 5 tips for how I survived the first two weeks:

  1. Made buying vegetables a priority and bypassed the need to add carbs to most meals. One of my favourite meals now is soft-boiled eggs with grilled asparagus. I grow my own herbs and add chopped flat leaf parsley, Cyndi’s all natural seaweed salt, lots of cracked black pepper and bob’s your uncle! I’ve created a few tasty salads I’ll post later and the key is preparation. If you can make enough to last for 2-4 meals it sure is a time-saver and you feel organised and less likely to ‘cheat’. It’s quite incredible how full you do get when you stuff yourself on good produce.
  2. Ate my fruit quota everyday. Papaya, berries and apples are allowed on the protocol. I’m embarrassed to admit, but prior to this I wasn’t eating a lot of fruit. Because I’d heard it was full of ‘sugar’. I didn’t compute it was a whole-food, because it gets such a bad wrap! I now realise how deluded I was and can not wait to start eating the full smorgasbord of nature’s goodness when this finishes. I also ate an orange for the first time in over 6 months last week. Yup. Crazy right?
  3. Created schedules and plans. For everything. Prior to this, I was leaving most things till last minute, operating in a semi-chaotic fashion and not really clear on my commitments to achieve personal and business goals. After about 10 days in – I felt super charged. I had complete visibility and focus on what I needed to do. I listened to a Wellness Guys podcast tonight (#42 + #43 if you wanna check it out) where they interviewed Cyndi and she talked about ‘clarity of mind’. I bolted upright when she said that – it’s how I’ve been feeling and exactly how I describe it to people. A splurge at Kikki K months ago came to fruition, as now I have huge monthly schedules in place for all my projects, freelance writing and study commitments. Who am I? Where did this organised person come from?
  4. Took advice. I credit two friends with this change Leah Nicol and Becki Milani. One is a driven, athletic and wellness advocate, the other an emerging chinese medicine practitioner and nutritionist. I’ll elaborate on them later too, the key thing with both – great minds that are nothing but encouraging and holistic. Challenges like these require people that will support not derail you.
  5. And lastly, me! I’ve believed in myself, kept thinking of the bigger picture and gaining optimal health. It’s not over yet and I can choose to be my own worst enemy or best friend. For the first time in a long time, I chose the latter.

me

Changing Habits, Changing Lives – A fortnight in Day #14

I’ve been dreaming a lot this last week. Namely of glorious junk food-esque type proportions. My subconscious has satiated itself with:

  • cheeseboards,
  • burgers,
  • chips,
  • pies,
  • mashed potato and gravy,
  • lasagna,
  • deep fried anything and
  • oddly enough bread.

Loaves of it. It’s not that my sleeping hours have been spent fervently indulging, it’s the last remnants of awareness that see me line all my little treats up and slowly take a bite here and there. Why? Nights have seen me filled with slight hunger pangs and the desire to perhaps keep the memories of decadence alive.

Until.

I had a breakthrough and I lost something.

I’m not sure where it went, but I am not intending to find it anytime soon.

Weight. Ya-huh. A couple of kilos of it.

martini

I celebrated by having a large martini.

Well, not really – alcohol is off the agenda for a while.  I think for at least another fortnight. But hey, whose counting?

I rejoiced by doing what most would. Finding that ‘thing’ that you kinda fitted into and kinda had a stomach hanging over the top of, but kinda wore a baggy top to hide it? Turns out that was not the case. I felt like it was a miracle! “How the hell did that happen” I asked myself? Prior to this program, I felt like progress was unattainable. Let me provide a brief back story.

I’m not one to be fuelled by the quest of rock hard abs, a ‘flat’ stomach, the need to look ‘ah-mazing’ wearing a dress to go to [insert nightclub, bar, venue of choice] or the desire to have every Tom, Dick and Harry comment on how ‘fah-bulous’ I look. I know people that are like that. I don’t get it. Anyways, my drive came from a few things:

  • My body-fat and weight was getting high, like too high for my frame. I did a body composition analysis and I was really surprised at the results. I was the heaviest, unfittest and unhappiest I’d been. Too many uns for one person.
  • The need to move went out the window. Along with a gym membership, yoga classes, swimming passes, sports groups and a slew of drawn up fitness schedules. You know the ones you do: On Monday I swim, on Tuesday I do weights, on Wednesday I run…etc. Mine turned into Every day I eat rubbish, watch TV and let as 3/4 of my wardrobe sit untouched as hey… let’s just live in a tracksuit.
  • Nutrition. My eating was based on mood, which was based on stress, which was based on an incredibly adrenalised and cortisol cosy environment.

buckwheat pancakes

For a long while, buckwheat pancakes were my saving grace. I mean, how could this toasted-coconut-walnuts-almonds-in-maple-syrup-pancake-fest-sandwiched-together-with-berry-yoghurt-fresh-berries-cocoa-almond-butter-spread not satisfy? The happy marriage of ‘healthy’ products deluded me into thinking that this was a good reward and a way to start converting to more nutritious lifestyle. Um, okay.

I would devour it whilst watching some mind-numbing show, which further propelled me into an abyss of depression and made that ‘get healthy’ goal, just that bit further away. We derive such comfort from supposed gratifying moments. The real gratification comes from the intensity of our commitment, focus and effort to make our lives better. In the lull periods, it’s so hard to recount how that feels, how it improved us and why we did it – becoming a work\home\binge\bed person is all we can muster.

brain food

How the freak did I get out of this rut? It’s taken a super long time. Perhaps on and off for years. The real breakthrough came this year, after I made a concerted effort to put myself first. My health, my body and my mind. Which meant sacrifice, working out what I needed and starting small. A chance holiday to the Greek Islands in August (first time, what a beautiful spot to skip Melbourne winter) enabled me to really reflect on how I was feeling, what I wanted to achieve and how I was going to do it. This meal of fresh grilled fish, rice and salad was kinda like a last supper and a celebratory dinner whilst there. I vowed to come back and make changes – no matter how hard or what it took. Plus grand visions always seem so much more romantic in a paradise like the Isles!

As great European holidays go, I came back stodgy and relaxed – but filled with steely reserve.

After a fortnight of slothing about, I pulled myself together and started to cut back. Sugar, processed wheat and alcohol were my first ports of call. I followed the 80/20 rule and was very kind to myself. Just really concentrated on buying better produce. After four weeks I shifted a few kilos and then decided to do this current protocol to really kick myself into gear.

And that it’s done.

Those extra two kilos I’ve lost in the last fortnight have a lot of meaning. Normally, I never really followed through on things. This time round – I’m committed the whole way. I guess it’s all about patience and persistence. How bad do you want it?

I appreciate you following the journey. Tomorrow I’ll elaborate on the changes I’ve made that have created the difference. In the last 14 days I’ve gone from sceptic to living proof.

Yours in wellness,

Leona

growing things

The Amazing Weight.

Last week my housemate and I had a ‘friendly’ wager. With Easter looming and waistlines expanding, we elected to serve a punishment fee to anything eaten belonging to the processed sugar family. Oh. I got this, said she of the I-only-eat-savoury-things mantra (that ‘she’ being me). Well, 4 hotcross buns, a coke zero, 2 churros in dark chocolate dipping sauce, shared chocolate & raspberry sponge and creme caramel tart, piece of chocolate and custard sponge cake, large serve of tiramasu and Max Brennar’s dark hot chocolate later I think I did a spectacular fail. What was the punishment fee I hear you ask? 30 min weight session & 50 burpees for every saccharine laden treat. The next 4 days will see me completing this quota at the gym and no doubt pondering my demise. (whilst getting fit, bittersweet irony I know).

sugars clever trick to entice the savoury-tooth-tiger

sugars clever trick to entice the savoury-tooth-tiger

See, I’m a carbohydrate kinda gal. If it’s got cheese, potato, bread or vinegar in it, I’m there. When you combine that with a love of eating out most weeknights and being surrounded by ‘foodie’ friends it can equate to being quite the recipe for disaster. Somehow, just somehow cake and its counterparts has creeped into the mix. It’s like the ‘buy one get one free sales’. You don’t really need the other thing, but you figure ah, what the heck! May as well. Can’t let it go to waste. Or should that be, can’t be letting it go to my waist.

My housemate on the other hand is your classic A-type CHOC-o-holic. Can happily munch away irrespective of the form. Chocolate moonlights in many guises and elicits such a satisfying response. It’s only when the aftermath of the morrow hits, that we, especially as females elicit a far different response. Buyers remorse. Or better yet – Consumption remorse. What a perpetual cycle for my dearly beloved choc-o-addict pal. The only comforting factor is knowing that it is not an isolated behaviour. Why, this style of consume and regret is felt near and wide by fellow oestrogen cocoa warriors. Chocolate charges take heed! For there com-meth a game changer. (I feel a drum roll sound byte would sit nicely here. Just imagine it and indulge me).

this is a chocolate ganache slice my friends made over Easter. I forgot to take some home, so the photo lives on in its memory. I hear it was beyond good.

this is a chocolate ganache slice my friends made over Easter. I forgot to take some home, so the photo lives on in its memory. I hear it was beyond good.

So, armed with this knowledge and our previous week’s failings, we devised a plan. We hatched an enemy attack of great proportions. A 6-weeker. Let’s lay down the gauntlet and really go for broke. And broke we may well end up being. See the wager is not so ‘friendly’. It’s designed to tap into the deep recesses of our minds and make us second guess that desire to eat savoury\sweet. And it involves money. KA-ching. $$$$$$. $100 per week we have to set aside for the bet. And what does that get us if we succeed? The following:

  1. An opportunity to turn our eating habits around for 6 weeks and increase our fruit, vegetable, home cooking with fresh produce, lean protein and seafood intake. Plus experiment with more organic dry goods and get creative ie coconut flour pancakes with fresh fruit and yoghurt (yum!)
  2. Start loving exercise again. We’ve both fallen off the band wagon with a great resounding thud and not been fit enough to run after it and get back on. In fact, I’ve contented myself with just sitting by the side of the road. We’ve created a little schedule each to do regular exercise each week and get bloody moving.
  3. Forced savings. At the end we will have $600 to spend on something great for ourselves. Perhaps some new pieces to complement the hard work. Which leads me onto the most important one:
  4. Reducing bodyfat. With Diabetes 2 a long-lost cousin that has been introduced into my family, my goal is to take it back to being long-lost. Both of us have discovered we are carrying more kilos than we would like to be. Much to my chagrin, bulk of my wardrobe does not fit and I feel sluggish. My housemate tells me she feels the same.

We feel these are some really important goals for us right now. Project “The Amazing Weight” takes effect tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. Just like that, life can change in a heartbeat. But, I hear you ask……. if we fail? Good question. Failure looks like this:

  • You are allowed one cheat meal a week. More than that and the other person secures your $100 for that week.
  • I’ve committed to 7 training sessions a week (I love weights, swimming and yoga). If I miss more than one *mwah* to the $100 for that week.
  • My housemate has also set some timeframes around work and study, so if she slips up on these…. you know the drill. As for me on this front, I’ve recently resigned from my full-time position – so keeping focused on writing and studying will be my my parameter.

The Amazing Weight has been inspired by 2 shows at play here: The Biggest Loser and The Amazing Race. In fact, it sounds like I am saying The Amazing Race with a lisp. (Geddit? Race? Weight? I’m tired, its all I got). In the spirit of the latter game, we can actually ‘roadblock’ each other to increase temptation. Ah, cruel and cunning I know. I’ve got a bag of chocolate goodies ready to be left around the house pending this week’s outcome and I hear a savoury affront will be launched too.

healthy food can be vibrant, enticing and really delicious. this was my Easter Sunday lunch.

healthy food can be vibrant, enticing and really delicious. this was my Easter Sunday lunch.

Let the games begin!