Absolutism in the Fitness Industry

Nowadays, the fitness industry seems to be the home of new trends, and everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon. However… They don’t just jump, they seem to leap head first, and lose sight of everything else along the way.

Consider the following:

  • Ketogenic dieting
  • Herbalife
  • Fasted cardio
  • Veganism
  • Dare I say it… CrossFit

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What do all of these health/fitness trends have in common? A cult-like following: a somewhat all or nothing approach. Now, I appreciate that this is one hell of a sweeping statement, and I’d like to point out that I have nothing against CrossFit… In fact, I bloomin’ love it. I’m merely using it as an example.

Back to my point, which is this: whilst the fitness industry broadens, it ironically, simultaneously seems to lose it breadth. As more trends become available for the consumer, the more immediately the consumer becomes literally ‘consumed’ by that trend. Am I making any sense? I’m not sure.

Let me expand in the simplest of terms…

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a ‘ketogenic’ dieter about anything other than the wonders of their keto diet? Me neither.

How about the bodybuilder that advocates only ever doing cardio on an empty stomach? … Because those fat stores wouldn’t be burned as efficiently if you’d eaten something beforehand, duh (sense the sarcasm, pleeease).

Cynical though this post may seem, I’m not attacking the actual trends themselves, per se. What I’m addressing is the idea that people misunderstand the value of variety. If you find success in one area, that’s great. Share your success, but don’t preach it beyond necessity. Why limit yourself to just one avenue, when there’s so much to learn from everything?

Your fitness journey is more than only ever attending Crossfit classes for the rest of your life (although that would be pretty damn great to me), or fearing carbohydrates in an attempt to reach a physiological state of ketosis. Who are we kidding, 90% of keto dieters don’t really care about ketogenesis… Y’all just wanna shift some weight! In which case, ‘keto’ isn’t required at all – calorie deficit is KING. But that’s a story for another day.

If ‘fasted cardio’ (or perhaps just a newly established overall caloric deficit – again… I’ll save that post for another time) has worked for you, congratulations. If you like to cook everything in coconut oil, great! But that doesn’t mean it’s the blanket solution for everyone.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… There’s no one-stop shop that leads to optimum health. To be open, malleable and willing to learn is essential. Don’t inhibit your progress by limiting your perspective.

It really is that simple, which is why I’m confused as to why people are so intent on being gobbled up by emerging trends. Consumerism at its finest, eh?

Just a little something to think about. Ponder away.

Peace xoxox

Review: Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes

If you live in Dubai and you’re searching for the ultimate cheat meal, look no further. Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, located in Jumeirah, is home to the most monstrous grub you could ever imagine.

We’re talking American-sized portions of the most dense, delicious and downright nawwwwwti food. This New York eatery is everything you could want in a cheat meal (and a whole lot more).

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The Milkshakes:

Feeling brave? I hope so. Imagine the biggest and best milkshake you’ve ever seen… And then multiply that by a million. Stick some FULL SIZE snacks on the side of the glass (quite literally – none of this ‘miniature’ business), and jump right in.

The verdict: creamy, velvety, and totally worth every single sugar-laden calorie. If food could deliver you to heaven, this would be the one (in regards to both its tastiness and questionable nutritional value, oops).

We tried ‘The Cookie Shake’ and ‘Brooklyn Blackout’ (pictured below). I’m not sure what was more difficult… Deciding which drink to order, or overcoming the sugar high and consequential food coma caused by this demon of a shake. If you’re in Dubai, you’ve simply GOT to try one. No questions.

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The Burgers:

Admittedly, I didn’t actually eat one for myself. You’re probably wondering why the queen of burgers would go to a burger joint and only order a milkshake. Well:

  1. Have you seen the size of those shakes!?
  2. Only I could be stupid enough to go to Black Tap on a whim, just moments after having eaten a lunch of two chicken breasts and a whole load of sweet potato fries. Cheat day at it’s finest.

Although I can’t comment on how the burgers taste, one thing’s for sure… They look UNBELIEVABLE. Juicy, cheesy and super fresh.

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No doubt I’ll be back soon to check them out for myself. Next time… On an empty stomach.

Find Black Tap in the Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel.

Fitness Life Hacks

These tips/rules aren’t necessarily just for the newbies amongst us. The seasoned pros can also do with a little help every once in a while.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a killer playlist. Those days when you’re just not feeling it (and even the days when you are), pop on some badass tunes and go be a gangsta in the gym. Get ya swag on. My go-to? Drake or Future – undoubtedly both way too cool for me, but they do the job.
  2. Buy some kitchen scales. No doubts, no guess work. If you’re tracking macros, accurate calculations are important, otherwise you’re not really tracking anything at all. Just think, there are 9kcals in just one gram of fat, so inaccurate estimations could take you way over your desired daily intake.
  3. Carbs are not the devil. No, no, no. They’re an essential macronutrient, and play a vital role in energy production. They’re also the primary source of energy that the brain uses to function (full blog post to follow on this topic, as there’s simply too much to say here). For now, all you need to know is not to fear carbs, or avoid them completely. Instead, research how best to incorporate this food group into your diet, to help you reach your goals, alongside your preferred style of training.
  4. Sleep sleep sleep. Both your body and your brain rely on a good night’s sleep to operate effectively. A lack of rest will leave you feeling flat, depleted, and unable to perform at your full potential. If you’re busting your butt in the gym, make sure you’re allowing yourself adequate time for muscle growth and repair. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
  5. Understand that the best way to learn is by doing. This industry is full of contradictions. One opinion undermines another on pretty much every subject. It’s unbelievably frustrating and will leave you questioning what to believe. The solution is to do your own research, broaden your knowledge and then put things into practice. Every individual body is different, and you won’t know what works for you unless you give it a shot.
  6. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with your training; change up your routine on a regular basis. If you don’t alter your workouts, the body will adapt and a plateau in progress is inevitable. Not to mention, you’ll soon become bored and lose interest. Mix things up, try a new programme – your body will thank you for it!

Review: Ivy Park

Let’s be honest… If you haven’t heard of Ivy Park by now, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. So when the opportunity arose to review some items from the collection (stocked by JD Women), I just couldn’t say no.

The brand, co-founded by none other than Queen Bey (yep, the Beyonce), aims to take you from the street, to the gym and back again – in allllll sorts of style. We’re talking lux activewear, at high street prices. The best part? There’s no scrimping on quality either.

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The Leggings:

Any gym girl knows what she wants when it comes to a pair of leggings:

  • A thick-but-stretchy material, which SURE AS HELL ain’t see-through.
  • The squat-proof guarantee: when we drop it down low, do the leggings stay up? Don’t want to be giving any onlookers a cheeky (pardon the pun) peep at your peach.
  • A chunky waistband, because it’s most flattering, and also contributes to extra stay-uppiness.

Check, check, check – these leggings have got it all. Whilst the waistband doesn’t have a tie adjustment for extra peace of mind, they’re reliable enough at staying up on their own, because of the resilient, almost scuba-like material. SO GOOD.

They’ve even got a pair of built in undies – seamless of course, so no VPL issues. What more could you ask for!? I mean, really…

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The Top:

An oversized fit, teamed with drop armholes and a statement print. It gives off the kind of gym-chic vibe as seen on your Instagram girl crush (you have those too, right?).

This piece (along with most of the collection, when I think about it) is all about the little details. The tape trim gives just the right amount of sass, and a monochrome colour scheme is always a winner in my eyes.

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As a whole, the brand suggests a pairing of ‘technical innovation’ and ‘fashion led design’ throughout their collections; a very fair claim, I’d say!

I’ll definitely be buying some gym clothing from their collection (and you probably should too), stocked both in store and online at JD Women.

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‘Quick Fixes’ to Weight Loss

I bet that title caught your attention, hey?

Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may have guessed what’s coming… Despite what you see on tv, or read in the media, there simply aren’t any quick fixes to weight loss.

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful models and Instagram celebs who promote these products; it’s amazing what some people will do to get a little cash in their pocket.

Trust me, these girls didn’t get abs like that by drinking three cups of detox tea per day. A strong, healthy body is the result of hard work, effort and determination. If you want to reduce body fat, you’ve got to put in the work. It’s that simple.

Here’s a list of key words that you may want to be wary of:

Cleanse: ‘purify your digestive system, with our three day juice cleanse’.

Hahahaha – nope. Consuming only juice is not a healthy or sustainable way to reduce body fat. Whilst your overall bodyweight is likely to drop whilst on a juice diet, this will primarily be water weight. It’s impossible to lose 10lbs of actual body fat in three days, despite what some very clever marketing campaigns will lead you to believe. Not to mention that reducing micronutrient-dense fruits and veggies to a juice depletes them of much of their fibre content – the very thing your gut loves about them in the first place… Work that one out.

Detox: ‘a miracle tea which will help you shift stubborn belly fat’.

Really!? No… Just no. If you believe these ludicrous statements, you’re the ideal target consumer for large corporations, who seek to make money through marketing ‘wonder’ products, which absolutely DO NOT WORK. Yes, a detox tea will have you sitting on the loo more than usual – so, again, you’ll shed a few pounds of water weight. But REALITY CHECK: your ‘stubborn belly fat’ (or any other fat for that matter) ain’t gonna shift as the result of a cuppa. Get to the gym, lift some weights and/or smash a short, high intensity cardio session. Done.

Low-Fat/Fat-Free: I’ve talked about this a lot before (check out my rant here), but it’s a fact that some people just can’t get their heads around. We’ve been driven to believe that fat is the root of all evil in the nutrition world, because people equate the word directly to body fat. However, fat will not make you fat. Fats are an essential macronutrient, which the body needs in order to function efficiently. Products stripped of their fat content are nearly always full of sugar and artificial ingredients, in order to compensate for the lack of fat(which is actually much more useful to our bodies than a whole load of chemicals), and make them as tasty as possible.

Protein: *WARNING* – just because a product is advertised as ‘high protein’, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy! There are too many ‘health food’ products on the market which are ridden with sugar and packed full of preservatives. The only way to find out is to always read the label, thoroughly. You know my rule by now, if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what the ingredient is, you probably don’t want to put it into your body.

So there you have it. Nothing can replace discipline. Stop searching for a quick result, and instead focus on the bigger picture.

‘Fitness’ is all-encompassing. There is no set destination, no end date. This is a lifestyle, and when you’re in it, you’re in it for the long haul. But trust me when I say, you’ll learn to love it.

 

How to Stick to Your Resolutions

Over a week has now passed since we welcomed the New Year, and some of our good intentions may be starting to fade away. But not to fear! I’ve come up with a few tips to help you stick with your resolutions for the long-haul.

1) No quick fixes. Focus on the bigger picture.

Don’t try to transform your entire life overnight. Cutting out every morsel of bad food, or going to an early morning fitness class every single day may not be the most sustainable solution, if it’s not at all what you’re used to. Not to mention, it will probably become a bit of a chore (psychology is essential with this stuff – you’re training your mind as much as your body).

Instead, implement smaller, more realistic changes, which you can maintain and adapt over the course of the year. For example, why not start with 3 gym classes per week, but also focus some attention on your nutrition? That way, you can adjust your schedule as necessary when your body feels ready. No absolute shocks to the system, and less risk of crashing and burning right away.

2) Write down your goals.

There’s plenty of evidence to show that those who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them. The very act of writing something down makes it concrete; it’s like a confirmation of what you’re striving for, from yourself, to yourself.

You can even take it one step further and go public… Stick your goals onto a pinboard or attach them to the fridge. If it’s written down for you (and others) to see, it’ll keep you accountable, and also act as a much-needed reminder when you feel you’re about to go off track.

3) Get your pals involved.

Resolutions aren’t all that fun if we have to go at it alone. The prospect of trying something new can be daunting, so why not rope in a pal? (I say rope in like it’s a bad thing, but remember the whole idea is here is ‘self-improvement’… For everyone involved!)

With a buddy by your side, you’ll be able to push and encourage each other, and motivate each other to stay on track. Not to mention, everything is more fun with a teammate by your side!

New Year’s Resolutions

When the New Year comes around, we all jump at the opportunity to make ourselves a better person. As basic as these are, I thought I’d share my resolutions with you, just in case you’re struggling to come up with some for yourself.

1) Stress Less:

Despite generally being a very positive person, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, because I’m also an undeniable perfectionist. This year, I’m challenging myself to seek out the good aspects in those situations where things haven’t gone quite to plan. The reality is, life is pretty damn great, and there are a whole load of things to be thankful for, always.

2) Sleep More:

This leads on from my last point, because for me (and most of us) lack of sleep is directly related to stress. In fact, even the thought of too little sleep stresses me out! As a Personal Trainer, my hours are pretty antisocial… 5am wake-ups aren’t ideal for your sleep pattern. However, better organisation will mean that I can get to bed earlier and catch those much-needed zzzs.

3) Minimise on Procrastination:

We’re all guilty of it, but I really am a first class procrastinator. When I have a to-do list as long as my arm, I’m too good at passing the time doing something arbitrary, as opposed to focusing on the task at hand. I could save a hell of a lot of time (and unnecessary stress) by getting it done straight away.

4) Make Time for People:

Living life at 1000 miles per hour means I all too often neglect spending time with those closest to me. So this year, I’m determined to spend more quality time with my loved ones. It’s all very well living out here in Dubai, but you’ve got to get out there and indulge yourself in all the city has to offer, if you want to make the most of your experience.

5) Content:

Last but certainly not least… Content, content, content. A blog without content really isn’t a blog at all, and I’ve been really slacking of late due to work commitments. So January is the month to get back on it, and hit you with some interesting info! Stay tuned…

High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training is a topic I’ve discussed before, but I’ve never dedicated a post solely to the subject. So, it’s about time for a little explanation! No doubt you’ve heard of HIIT – it’s everywhere nowadays. But for those of you that don’t really understand the concept, I’m here to help.

HIIT is an ideal form of exercise for those aiming to shed some body fat. We’re talking maximum calorie burn, minimum amount of time. It all sounds a bit too good to be true, right? Keep reading to find out how it works…

What is HIIT?

It’s a method of training which involves alternating between timed periods of high and low intensity. For example, circuit training with 40 seconds of hard work, followed by 20 seconds rest. The idea is to exercise at maximum capacity during the ‘work’ phase, before allowing your muscles to partially recover, and then repeat.

How does HIIT work?

Training at maximal effort shifts the heart rate into its anaerobic zone, meaning that muscles are forced to work without oxygen for a short period of time. An ‘oxygen debt’ is therefore established.

However (alike to all debts) this must be repaid; a process referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This is the increased rate at which muscles take in oxygen, after having performed strenuous exercise. The result? The body’s metabolic rate will remain elevated for hours after you finish working out. In simple terms, you’ll burn more calories whilst at rest, all because of that HIIT session.

The Benefits:

  • No gym? No problem! HIIT can be done at home. Basic, functional movements, such as squat and lunge variations (jumps are ideal), push ups and mountain climbers are all suitable.
  • HIIT doesn’t have to be hours long. It can be short and sweet – even just 25 minutes will do the job, provided you’re working at maximum capacity!

Now, get out there and give it a go for yourself.

My Shopping List Staples

Shopping can be confusing at the best of times, especially when you’re trying to make healthy choices. I receive a lot of questions regarding nutrition, and I’ve already put together a rough food diary, which you can view here. I thought it would also be useful to create a list of my cupboard/fridge staples, to perhaps make your trip around the supermarket a little less faff. Here we go:

Fruit:

  • Bananas: I am quite literally bananas about bananas. I use them for everything – smoothies, baking, topping rice cakes and peanut butter. You name it, a banana can do it. Plus, they’re rich in potassium, and a source of quality carbohydrate, ideal either pre or post workout
  • Frozen Berries: buying your berries frozen means that you get a lot more bang for your buck… In more ways than one. When berries are frozen, their nutrients are sealed in, thus they maintain a higher nutritional value than their fresh counterparts, which have been bumped about during the journey from field to fridge. They’re also a lot less expensive, and last for ages in the freezer. Great for adding to smoothies, or topping your porridge
  • Avocado: you may be inclined to call it a vegetable because of its savoury taste. Butttt, avo is a fruit packed full of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, potassium and fibre. I start almost every day with the amusingly basic breakfast of eggs and avo, and I’m not bored of it yet

Veggies:

  • Sweet Potato: dense in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron, sweet potato is a quality source of carbohydrate, with a valuable nutritional profile. Added bonus: it makes everything taste better
  • Cucumber: chop into sticks and munch alongside a fresh pot of hummus – you have the perfect snack! Did you know that cucumbers contain silica, the mineral responsible for promoting good nail-health? Well, you do now
  • Spinach Leaves: phytonutrient central, with anti-inflammatory properties. Spinach helps to maintain healthy eyesight, and its an absolute overall winner

Carbohydrates:

  • Oats: rich in beta-glucan – a dietary fibre known to reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the body. I eat oats cold, soaked in water or Rude Health Brown Rice Milk
  • Rice Cakes: the ultimate versatile snack. Top with peanut butter and banana, cream cheese and veggies, tuna and mashed avocado… The possibilities are endless
  • Uncle Ben’s Wholegrain Rice: these microwaveable pouches are easy to cook, and oh so tasty. Great for when you’re in a hurry, and available in a variety of yummy flavours

Protein:

  • Salmon Fillet: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12, selenium, niacin – the list goes on. The perfect protein-packed addition to any meal
  • Cod Fillet: a low calorie source of lean protein, dense in vitamins B6 and B12. Pair with sweet potato wedges, vinegar and homemade mushy peas to make your very own healthy fish and chips. Don’t mind if I do…
  • Eggs: the nutritional powerhouse, containing 13 essential vitamins and minerals, alongside a high nutrient and healthy fat content. I eat so many eggs that one day I may actually become one
  • Tinned Tuna in Spring Water: a readily available, affordable source of protein, and a great option for when you’re on-the-go. I opt for tuna in spring water, as opposed to oil, as this reduces calorie content

Snacks:

  • Fage 0% Fat Yoghurt: high in protein, low in fat. The ideal addition to a post workout smoothie, when fats should be kept to a minimum, to ensure rapid absorption of carbohydrates and protein into the body
  • Full Fat Greek Yoghurt: I buy both full and 0% fat yoghurt, to eat at different times of day. Mix 200g full fat Greek yoghurt with a handful of frozen berries, to create a tasty and filling snack
  • Meridian Peanut/Almond Butter: 100% nuts, enough said
  • Dark Chocolate: the darker, the more delicious… We’re talking 90% cocoa. If you can find raw cacao chocolate, that’s even better

This is by no means a fool proof, all-inclusive list, but I hope that it’s helpful nonetheless!

REVIEW: PINK SODA SPORT

Fun, fresh, and oh so chic. Pink Soda Sport is everything. Sportswear with extra sass, what more could you want? Set up by JD Sports, the brand is aimed at the modern woman, enabling a swift and effortless transition from everyday life to gym bunny.

The label aims to ‘push performance to new levels’, by creating an alternative mentality towards health, placing the focus on ‘clean living and positive body image’. In other words, Pink Soda believes that there is more to fitness than just the gym. Rather, it is a way of life, and their pieces embody this vision.

I was kindly gifted five pieces from their collection, and let’s just say, it was love at first sight.

The Hoody: Cozy and fitted, it wears like a dream. With this item, it’s all about the details: we’re talking mesh inserts and colour-block panelling. Even the little toggles which adjust the hood are super cute.

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The Leggings: These babies are exactly what every gym girl needs: a soft, thick material, with a wide waist band and high quality elastic. No one wants that behind-the-knee sagginess. An added perk (and absolute must in my books), a tie around the waist, which keeps the leggings up, and makes them totally squat-proof… No booty peeping in sight.

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The Sports Bra: Just enough squeeze, but not too much to inhibit breathing; a bonus at the best of times, especially whilst working out. I’ve worn/washed this piece a lot, and so far all of the printing has stayed perfectly intact.

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The Crop: Don’t judge me, but I totally wear this as a regular top. Personally, I don’t find it has a huge amount of support, so I wouldn’t choose this item if I was doing anything too bouncy. But who cares? We have the sports bra for that, ladies.

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The Sleeveless T: Dropped armhole, with some pretty niche detailing. This swanky T is great for getting to the gym, where I tend to take it off and train in a sports bra. Post-workout, I use it to cover up my sweaty self, paired with the Pink Soda hoody, of course.

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So if you like looking good whilst working out, you don’t need to spend a bomb on your sportswear. Pink Soda Sport is both fabulous and affordable. It may just be the brand for you.

Note: this post is not endorsed. These opinions are my own entirely, and I am sharing them solely to advise others.