Finding Inspiration

For me, inspiration and motivation go hand in hand. That being said, they don’t always exist naturally. Sometimes, you’ve got to get out there and find them for yourself.

I’m often asked how I maintain the motivation to eat good food and get my butt to the gym, so I’ve put together a few handy tips to help you find inspiration when you need it most!

1) Social Media Influencers.

Too many people focus on the negative aspects of social media, without appreciating its value. Fill your timeline with those who share the same interests as you – those who are already where you aspire to be.

If you’re looking for healthy recipes and meal inspiration, there are countless amazing profiles. Equally, if you’re searching for workout ideas, do a little research and discover your favourite fitness bloggers.

Don’t compare yourself to these people, but allow yourself to be influenced by their good habits. You’re much more likely to drag your perky little butt to the gym if your timeline is full of gym girls, than a group of old pals you haven’t seen for ten years on a drunken night out.

2) Utilising your own social media for good.

This leads on from my last point. Social media is more valuable than just selfies. Sure, the occasional progress update/sweaty gym snap is great, but don’t forget to also include quality content that can be genuinely useful to your followers.

We’re talking workouts, recipes, your favourite healthy cafés, or a new gym class. Even a motivational quote may be exactly what one of your followers needs to help them stay on track. By creating quality content, you’ll inspire others. That will, in turn, inspire you at the same time… I promise!

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You had a bad day, and ate half a tray of Krispy Kremes? Yep, we’ve all been there (except when it’s me, it’s most likely two trays of KK, a double cheeseburger and 14,000 bags of Haribo, but who’s counting anyway?).

It happens! Don’t beat yourself up. If you let a blip like this drag you down, it’s going to be much harder to re-establish the motivation to get going again.

Stay positive, and try not to overlook how far you’ve come. Get back on track as soon as possible, and avoid letting that cheat day turn into a cheat week, because it’s a downwards spiral from there. You’ve got this!

4) Tuuuuuuuuunes.

Never underestimate the value of a killer playlist to get you going. Music can totally transform both our mood and mentality. Find the tunes that make you feel like a badass, put your headphones in and zone out. It’s just you and your workout. Get it done.

5) Schedule your training.

If you’re a busy bee (who isn’t nowadays?), the best option is to allocate specific time slots within your week where you can go and workout. My recommendation is always to get up, get out and get it done in the morning, because that way, life can’t create nearly as many hurdles, temptations and excuses to interfere with your session.

Making the Most of Your Workout

As a Personal Trainer, I come across plenty of people attempting to lose weight, but going about it in the wrong way. I’ve come up with a few tips to help you make the most out of every workout.

1) Plan Ahead:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again). Getting to the gym with no session plan will lead to time wasting, and plenty of it. Arrive with a structure to follow – it’ll make your session a whole lot easier. If the machine you want to use is occupied, switch up the order and come back to it later. At least the session will be written down for you to see, so there’s no danger of mindblanks… We all know it happens!

2) Form:

Completing an exercise with bad form can make the movement much less effective, not to mention the extent to which it increases risk of injury. Deadlifting with a rounded back, or squatting with excess anterior (frontal) tilt places severe, unnecessary stress upon joints. To ensure you know how to perform exercises correctly, I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as bodybuilding.com), where you can watch a video that demonstrates perfect form. This will help you to gain more out of every movement.

3) Ditch the Phone:

You know as well as I do that taking a phone to the gym is the ULTIMATE distraction. Yet, we all still do it! Whether used for selfies or Facebook stalking, a phone simply isn’t helping you to get results. In order to maximise your time in the gym, leave the damn phone in your bag. You’ll survive without it for an hour…I promise.

Now it’s time to put these into practice. Enjoy!

The Big Move: Dubai

Hi friends. So, this post is a little different. I won’t bombard you with health-related information, and I’m not going to give you a recipe. Instead, this one is aimed at connecting with you lovely lot.

I’m currently on the lookout for a job as a Personal Trainer, but I’ll also be setting aside some time each week to work on my blog, and I’ll be more consistent with creating new content on here… I promise! If you’re looking for more regular updates, you can follow my adventure on Instagram (@charlotte_shelley), Snapchat (charshelley), or Twitter (@charlotte_shell).

I’m so excited to immerse myself within Dubai’s fitness industry. Judging by previous visits (and some top notch Instagram stalking), the health and fitness scene out there has much to offer. It’s pretty damn enticing for someone like me.

So, here comes the bit where I need your help… I don’t yet know many people in Dubai, so I’m looking to connect with others, and particularly those with an interest in health and fitness. Whether you may be a Personal Trainer, a blogger, or someone who just really loves a spin class, I would love love love to meet you.

We could train together, and maybe even teach each other a thing or two about fitness. If you want to get in contact, or perhaps you have a friend in mind that may be interested, either pop me a message on Instagram, or contact me on this email address: charlotteshelley1@gmail.com

Big love X

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: Fit-Pharm UK

I have two questions to ask, the second of which is particularly important. So listen up.

  • Do you take any form of supplement, such as protein powder, pre workout or Branched Chain Amino Acids?
  • If so, have you any idea what these individual products contain?

If you haven’t already (tut tut), take a look at the ingredients. It’s more than likely that the list is extensive, and hellllla hard to pronounce. Guess what? Those substances are equally as alien to your body as they are to your eyes. We’re talking thickeners, artificial flavours/sweeteners and a whole load of other chemicals. It’s just plain nasty. The truth is, our bodies aren’t meant to take in such densely processed products; it simply won’t recognise them. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

I’m a supplement girl myself. There’s no denying that it’s a quick, easy and convenient way to assist you in achieving your goals. But I’m just not down with the idea of filling my body with the unnatural substances listed above. After all, what’s the point in eating clean, and purposefully avoiding anything artificial, to then consume a whole load of chemicals in the form of a shake? It doesn’t make sense.

I was fortunate enough to stumble across the perfect solution, thanks to my lovely friend Lauren (check out her page here). Praise the Lord – there’s no reason to ditch the supps all together. You can still stumble out of the gym, muscles trembling and a protein shake in hand. The gainzzz are here to stay.

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What is this miraculous solution, I hear you ask? The answer: Fit-Pharm. This is an independent, UK-based fitness supplement and clothing brand. Their ethos is to create clean, natural products, free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. They taste incredible: Fit-Pharm is just a whole different level when compared to mainstream alternatives. The best part? Your body loves these products just as much as your taste buds.

My personal favourite is Vanilla. I’m a sucker for Vanilla ice cream generally, so I use Fit-Pharm Epic Whey Protein to make my very own ‘Nice Cream’ (keep your eyes peeled for the recipe at some stage). The chocolate and strawberry flavours are also deeeeelicious.

I would never promote or recommend something that I didn’t believe in, because that’s just not me. But I honestly cannot recommend these products highly enough. Without Fit-Pharm, I would have stopped using supps a long time ago. Check out their website here, and make the change. You can thank me later.

When purchasing products, don’t forget to use my discount code: charshelley10

How to Stay Healthy Whilst Travelling

We know all too well that attempting to remain healthy whilst travelling can be a bit of a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that holidays are a time for indulgence, and I challenge myself to conquer the breakfast buffet as much as the next person.

That being said, constant overindulgence will leave you feeling groggy and de-energised in no time, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll also become a little grumpy. For this reason, I try to implement minor, healthy alternatives throughout the course of my holiday, in order to maintain a little bit of normality in my body.

Here are a few tips to help you stay on track whilst on holiday:

Avoid Plane Food: This stuff is just awful. Full of chemicals, preservatives, and a whole load of sodium, pre-packaged plane food is enough to leave anyone feeling unwell. Instead, find a more healthy option within the airport terminal to take on the plane with you. I tend to team a wrap or salad with a pot of fresh fruit and some nuts to snack on throughout the journey. If you’re really organised, another great option is to prepare your own food at home in advance.

Be Prepared: I’m the kind of person who eats a meal, and then gets hungry two-three hours later, whilst my family/friends are still full. To avoid any hunger-related meltdowns, pack snacks in your handbag/rucksack; this way, you’ll never be caught off guard. I tend to opt for something protein-based, as these snacks will keep you fuller for longer. My favourites are Grenade Carb Killa or Quest protein bars, and Upbeat smoothies.

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If You’re Going to Workout, Do it in the Morning: I’ve never been a fan of training on an empty stomach, so on holiday is the only time you’ll catch me in the gym pre-breakfast. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll squeeze in an afternoon workout, but the likelihood is, these plans will crumble. You won’t want to drag yourself away from the pool, and the pre-dinner drinks will be calling your name. Get up and get it done. Besides, what could be better than working out and then refuelling with a killer breakfast buffet? (arguably, the best feature of any holiday).

Be Cocktail Savvy: We all love a good piña colada, but with a similar calorie count to a light meal, it’s not an ideal drink of choice to have regularly. Although cocktails taste damn good, they tend to be full of sugar (and spice, and all things nice. I know, they’re hard to resist). Have a few, of course, but the trick really is moderation. I’m not saying don’t drink at all, but why not try switching up some of your cocktails for a vodka with soda and fresh lime? It’s a tasty, light and refreshing alternative, just minus (almost) all of the nasty stuff in those sugar-laden cocktails.

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Stay Hydrated: When spending time in the sunshine, it’s absolutely crucial that you’re taking on enough water. Dehydration impedes your body’s ability to undertake basic daily processes, and this includes metabolic function. Reduced calorie burn? No thanks, I’ll take the water. Adequate hydration will also assist your body in flushing out toxins, from the one-too-many drinks you may have consumed the night before.

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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.

Review: 1Rebel

This week I visited 1Rebel for the first time, to try their 45 minute ‘Reshape Full Body’ class. Widely hailed ‘The King of Gyms’, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Did it live up to expectations? In one simple word… YES.

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It’s everything you could want a gym to be and more. Think high-end, chic and boutique. I mean, it’s worth trying a class just to experience their lavish changing rooms. We’re talking, Smeg fridge full of chilled aromatherapy towels, top of the range hairdryers and GHD straighteners. Oh, and there’s also no need to bring shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, make up remover, cotton wool pads, face cleanser, moisturiser, hair spray or even hair pins, because all of these are provided for you (yes, really). So before you’ve even arrived, 1Rebel have done you a huge favour in making your gym bag a whole lot lighter.

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I booked in for Reshape at 4.15pm on a Friday, which is seemingly a great time to visit, because there were only four people in the class. Alice was the trainer, and she was great: high energy and very accommodating for me as the only newbie.

The class itself features a mixture of high-intensity treadmill work, floor-based calisthenics (bodyweight training), and free weight exercises atop their patented 1Rebel workout platform. Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s hard. However, rest assured that after 45 physically enduring and mentally gruelling minutes, the pain will have been so worth it.

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The struggle is made somewhat easier by the party-vibe going on in the studio. The dim, disco-style lighting is great for concealing some of that excessive sweatiness (which, trust me, you will experience), and the playlists created by internationally renowned DJs are obviously top notch. When you think your body can’t take any more, there’s nothing more motivating than a bit of Eminem to help you blast through those last few reps.

So if you’re looking for a centrally located, no contract (pay-as-you-go), class-based gym, this could just be the place for you. When you decide to visit, be sure not to miss out on a post-workout protein shake from on site juice bar, ‘Roots and Bulbs’, and maybe even grab yourself some snazzy new sports gear from their luxe retail zones.

A Beginner’s Guide to Lifting Weights

After my blog post ‘Why You Need to Start Weight Training’, I’ve had a few questions about where to begin. So I’m writing this to give some very basic tips on how to get involved in strength-based training in the correct way.

Break it down into muscle groups: Rather than completing a full-body workout every time you’re at the gym, aim to break your sessions down into muscle groupings. These can be general, such as ‘upper body’ and ‘lower body’, or more specific such as ‘back and biceps’, and ‘shoulders and abs’. This way, you work the selected muscles to their full capacity. It also means that whilst one muscle group is recovering, you are still able to train another. Aim to work each muscle group once or twice per week, and always remember to arrive at the gym with a plan of the session ahead.

Selecting the appropriate weight: It’s a common mistake to lift heavy weights too soon, and this often leads to injury. Start at a lower weight, at which you are able to fatigue the muscle in 10-14 repetitions (reps). Begin by completing 4 or 5 sets of 10-15 reps at this weight. Once you have built up base strength and feel strong enough to progress, increase the weight slightly. As you advance further to use heavy weights, reduce the number of reps performed, to around 5-8 (at a heavy weight this should be enough to fatigue the working muscles).

Control every movement: This leads on from my previous point. Every motion performed should be carefully controlled; if you need to use momentum to complete the movement, the weight is probably too heavy. Rather than swinging the weights, train yourself to fully engage the working muscles, as this will make the exercise much more effective. Think of it as a mind-muscle connection. Don’t just flow through the movement thoughtlessly, ensure you activate the necessary muscle groups.

Form: Completing an exercise incorrectly is likely to cause muscular/joint problems, not to mention it will make the movement much less beneficial. I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as www.bodybuilding.com) where they break down each exercise, with a video and description detailing perfect form. It’s much easier to learn the correct form before you begin training, rather than having to correct bad habits later.

Rest: Maintaining optimum rest time between sets is crucial. Not resting for long enough means that muscles will quickly become fatigued, but rest for too long, and the muscles start to cool down. I also find that extensive rest periods lead me to lose focus. Ideal rest time is 30-90 seconds between sets, and 1-2 minutes when changing exercises. The key is to really listen to your body during your rest period. If possible, try and remain within these guidelines, starting a new set when you feel that your muscles are ready.

Use a personal trainer: I highly recommend using a trainer in the gym. They can put you on a programme and help you achieve your personal goals in the most efficient way possible. If, however, you don’t want to spend money on this, you can always find tailored programmes online (you know by now that it’s my favourite – www.bodybuilding.com). Remember that most gyms offer a free first personal training session, where you can ask your trainer to show you how to use the weights equipment properly.

Be consistent: Giving up will get you nowhere. If you want to progress, I suggest a minimum of three weights sessions per week. Motivation is the key to consistency, so find ways to keep yourself inspired, whether this may be through finding a great workout playlist or recruiting a gym buddy. You can also set yourself small, attainable weekly targets such as ‘complete 15 press ups’. Commitment means results.

I hope you’ve found this useful; now, let’s put it into practice!

Why You Need to Start Weight Training

Lifting weights is often a challenging prospect for someone who has never done it before. Most women have never ventured into the ‘man cave’ that is the weights room in their local gym. Admittedly, it can be daunting to walk into a generally male-dominated environment and start lifting. If you can get over that first hurdle, your body will thank you later.

So many women are hesitant to start strength training because they’re afraid to get ‘bulky’. Fortunately, this is a misconception ladies, and one that needs to be shattered ASAP. Sure, if your ambition is to get bulky, lifting weights can achieve this with the right programme and a strict diet. However, your everyday woman at the gym doing her barbell squats isn’t suddenly going to turn into the incredible hulk.

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The truth about weight training is that it’s the door to a more lean, toned and defined body. I’ve listed some of the key benefits below.

Calorie Burn: In comparison to cardiovascular exercise, resistance training burns more calories. Also, after a heavy lifting session, your body’s oxygen demand remains high for an extended period of time. This is referred to as ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’, or EPOC. Whilst your body requires more oxygen, your calorific expenditure is also increased, so you continue to burn calories once you’ve finished training.

Metabolism: For me this is the absolute best thing about strength training. Building lean muscle contributes hugely to fat loss. The higher your muscle percentage, the more calories the body is able to burn whilst at rest. Yes, you understood me correctly: the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. Pretty amazing, hey?

Bone Health: Lifting weights on a regular basis aids in increasing bone density, which helps keep problems such as osteoporosis at bay in later life.

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Heart Health: Studies have shown that those who lift weights are significantly less at risk of heart disease due to a reduction of triglycerides, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

That Body: Unlike cardio, which helps you lose weight through reduction of both fat and muscle tissue, strength training helps you to burn fat and build muscle. This means you start to sculpt those curves you’ve always wanted; hello new booty.

Confidence: Resistance training will help your confidence endlessly. You’ll feel stronger and able to accomplish so much more. It’s pretty hard not to be happy with a new, lean and toned body!

Stress Relief: Personally, I can’t think of a better way to combat stress than a heavy lifting session. Rather than letting the little things get to you, head to the gym and smash out a resistance workout – afterwards, you’ll feel revitalized and ready to combat anything.

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BodyBuilding.com is a great website to visit for some inspiration. This website gives a muscle-by-muscle breakdown of exercises to try:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/workout-muscle-groups.html