TRAIN: Train Like An Athlete

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You’ll have often seen the phrase “eat like a nutritionist, train like an athlete, sleep like a baby” knocking around Pinterest, but what does it mean to train like an athlete? Athletes can train for seven hours a day or more, so unless you want to forego sleep or give up your full time job it’s just not possible for the majority of us. I take it to mean that you should train your body in an efficient, effective way, which is why most of my workouts involve HIIT (high intensity interval training) or lifting heavy weights.

I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy or showing off (because I am neither of those things! I hate selling myself) but I’m often asked how I get to eat so much, or how I got ‘x’ body part, so I thought I’d share my current workout routine as it’s likely to change soon as I go into full time work. I’m a social exerciser at heart, so most of my workouts revolve around clubs, class workouts or otherwise organised exercise, but I do some of my heavy lifting on my own. Remember I am not a professional, so you may want to consult your PT or even a doctor before switching up your exercise routine.

By the way, these photos were for my Women’s Health Body of 2014 entry – I don’t tend to make a habit of standing around wearing this little..!

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Monday: 30 minute abs class, half hour shoulder workout. Abs includes sit-ups, planks, mountain climbers, double crunches, Russian twists. Shoulders is lat pull-downs, seated rows, pull-ups, and 10 minutes of intervals on the rowing machine.

Tuesday: 50 minutes HIIT class. Very similar to Insanity, with sets of 3 minutes x 3 exercises like burpees, press ups, jump squats, high knees, and anything else the instructor thinks to torture us with that day.

Wednesday: Rest day. I will probably get antsy and do some yoga.

Thursday: 30 minute abs class, 45 minutes of BodyPump. I keep my arm and shoulder weights light during the Pump class but go heavy on squats, lunges, deadlifts and chest.

Friday: 45 minute CrossFit-style workout, usually involving a mix of heavy cleans and squats with lots of high intensity plyometrics.

Saturday: 5K Parkrun and 45 minute yoga class, or rest day.

Sunday: Butt-specific workout with kettle bells, squats in the Smith machine, and glute kickbacks on the functional trainer, or rest if trained on Saturday.

I add spinning classes and runs in as and when I have time or extra energy, usually 5-10K at an average of 5 min/km pace, but always ensure I have two full days of rest a week.

I’m not going to lie, my training is hard work – and yes, I have a substantial life outside of working out! – but the benefits outweigh the work: I get to eat huge amounts, and though I eat clean the majority of the time a little treat doesn’t even touch the sides. Ironically the more you train the more energy you have and I also tend to suffer with nervous energy which training hard helps to burn off, leaving a much more happy and relaxed me.

I encourage you to quit the hour-long treadmill and light hand weight routines for HIIT workouts and heavy weights. You will feel and see the difference in no time – I promise!

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I Hate This Yoga Posture… Here’s Why

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I’ve often read about yoga’s ability to strongly release emotions, particularly when opening the tight muscles around the hips. Although for me yoga is a great stress release and afterwards I feel thoroughly ironed out, it has never made me feel anything but relaxed, so I thought the emotion release phenomena was just not for me.

That is until I received some huge news on Friday. I’d got the interview for the dream job I’d been waiting, hoping, manifesting for over the past few months. It’s a difficult one – an hour long, with a presentation and competency-based interview – though I would expect nothing less as it’s a huge opportunity. Cue mega nervous energy on my behalf. I snapped at my partner and was antsy with other’s skipping reps in CrossFit. Good job yoga was on Saturday lunchtime to de-stress me, huh?

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I managed to rip my beloved yoga mat, so that’s a small indication of how well the class went..

Throughout my entire yoga class, all I could think was “I hate this pose”. Warrior one: “I hate this pose”. Rotated triangle: “I hate this pose”. And absolute worst of all was chair pose: “I HATE this pose!” Chair pose is not easy for me at the best of times, with tight hip flexors, achilles and shoulders, but I normally have a bit of a go. This time I humphed and made a pathetic, token attempt. I approached my teacher afterwards and told her about my problem throughout the class, being careful to explain it was nothing to do with her teaching or the class – just a big problem with my attitude!  She said I may have found class hard because of the pent-up emotions the asanas were releasing from my body.

Her reply reminded me of Liz Gilbert’s problem with the Gurugita in Eat, Pray, Love (the book; I’ve never seen the film). Liz hates having to get up in the morning to sing the Gurugita with the rest of the ashram as she finds it incredibly difficult to do, until one day she gets locked in her room and has to fight to get to sing in time. Sometimes the things you dislike doing the most because they’re difficult are the ones that are the most beneficial to you; the ones that release and cleanse feel awful when the emotion is leaving your body, but you feel much better afterwards.

As this blog post goes live I will be going into my interview, so please be sending me your most positive vibes. I totally intend to impress them with my knowledge, strategic thinking and also my personality.. but it won’t hurt to have the universe on my side, too!

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RUN: National PB Day

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Saturday was National PB Day! No, not peanut butter – although that is on January 24th – but Personal Best. I ran in Parkrun as there was an opportunity to win Adidas Boosts if you beat your PB that day, but sadly it was not to be for me. I could tell before I even got there: getting out of bed was tough, I managed to put my sports bra on upside down, and I arrived at Heaton Park with just seconds to spare.

I decided to stick close to the 25 minute pacer – after all, I reminded myself, in January I would have been overjoyed to run 5K in 25 minutes. It felt like a pleasant run at a fairly steady pace, and as you can see in the picture above I’m smiling rather than my usual grimace! We hit 4K and another runner turned to the pacer and exclaimed “25 minutes?! You’re a bit ahead aren’t you?” The pacer realised his mistake and dropped back, but since I was feeling strong at that point, I decided to push on at the same pace and finished on 24:38 – 40 seconds slower than my PB.

The day’s lesson? Believe in yourself and stay positive. If I had decided when I woke up that it was a good day and I was going to go for a PB I almost certainly would have hit it. As it stands I may have cheated myself out of a pair of Boosts! Let’s hope that one of Heaton Park’s runners really went for it that day and wins the trainers. They deserve it.

Barcode scanning queue – it was certainly a busy one
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EAT: No Run, Just Food

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Wednesday nights sees the weekly meeting of my running club, the Manchester Road Runners. I’ve only been going for a few weeks but I feel right at home: there’s no snottiness, it doesn’t matter how fast your miles are or how far you run, as long as you show up, have a bit of a run, then hit the pub afterwards for a cheeky post-workout drink.

This week though was a lot less running and a lot more food. An awful lot more food (remember I said my balance was a bit out of whack last week? Yeah). Red’s True Barbecue opened on Manchester’s Albert Square a few months ago and is already a bit of a cult classic in the city, with at least a half hour wait on a weeknight. Luckily we’d booked and no sooner were we sat down than our food was in front of us. You would think that for someone who only started eating beef a few months ago I’d be cautious with my meat, but nope: I love getting stuck into a good burger. I had the double cheeseburger though I actually picked off the bacon and cheese to give to my boyfriend, who also had half of my chips. It may not look like a huge portion on the plate, but it was sure filling!

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Eaten too frequently burgers are not great for you, especially when they’re covered in fatty sauces, bacon and cheese. However, it’s not all bad news! Picking good quality beef (grass-fed is perfect) keeps the saturated fat low, and the less processed, the better. Beef is packed with protein and also contains zinc, B vitamins, and iron – which women especially can be deficient in. For me it’s a monthly treat rather than weekly, and I mix up my protein sources and eat lots of fresh fruit and veg too.

I think after that feast it’s back to running next week for us motley lot!

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KIT: South Beach Fitness

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Manchester-based swimwear brand South Beach Swim are diversifying into fitness gear for spring/summer 2014. Crop tops, booty shorts and yoga pants are the first tentative steps into the buzzing fitness market, in bright, block colours with simple logos.

The crazy coconut guy above seemed impressed, and I was too! Although the range doesn’t boast any particular technology, the fabric felt very supportive to me, almost like compression gear. High street brands like H&M, Forever 21 and Primark are really going for the fitness gear nowadays, so I love that a smaller brand have taken a bit of a risk to make quality gear in a new market. Prices range from £15 to £22 so it’s highly affordable. Let’s hope it pays off and they create a wider range – patterned leggings in this fabric would be amazing.

The kit will be available through their website, SouthBeachOfficial.com, from early July.

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As with any good product launch there was cake. Oh boy, was there ever cake. Safe to say my self-proclaimed balance is a little out of whack this week, leaning more towards cheat than clean! With cake this good, how can you possibly resist?

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