Unsuccessful Fat Loss

All too often, we (the media, ill-educated ‘fitness professionals’, and probably your favourite health bloggers) target incredibly specific aspects of nutrition, deeming them responsible for ineffective fat loss.

Consider the image below:

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How many times have you heard someone blame one of the above reasons (other than number one) for their inability to lose weight?

The truth is, gluten isn’t making you fat. Sugar, likewise, cannot be solely responsible for weight gain (unless of course you’re eating in a calorie surplus, and 100% of those calories are obtained from sugar alone).

Nine times out of ten, if a member of the general public ‘cuts out gluten’ or ‘goes sugar-free’, they will lose weight. Why? Because they are simultaneously (and subconsciously) cutting out a huge portion of their usually stodge-ridden diet, and likely replacing it with a less calorie-dense alternative. Does this mean that gluten/sugar were directly responsible for making them fat? No, no, no. But the daily cakes, sweets, take outs that contain gluten/sugar (which the subject has now renounced)?  Now we’re talking.

Demonising specific food groups, in itself, demonstrates a lack of awareness on the subject, and it’s a practice that instils unnecessary scaremongering relating to certain aspects of nutrition.

Likewise, blaming basic bodily/hormonal functions for poor weight loss is (in the vast majority of general population cases) just plain stupid. Sally down the road isn’t overweight because she’s insulin-resistant, and your colleague Jeff isn’t piling on the pounds because he skipped breakfast, and his body is subsequently operating in ‘starvation mode’.

Let’s look at the reality…

What Sally didn’t tell you about her diet, is that she spends her afternoon snacking on ‘just a few’ biscuits in the office, which easily total 400 calories every day. Over the course of her five-day work week, that’s an extra 2000 calories. Consider that figure per month – a hefty 8000 cals on biscuits alone. But they were just a ‘little snack’, right?

Jeff, on the other hand, forgot to mention that he makes up for his lack of breakfast by ‘treating’ himself to a sausage roll from the bakery in the afternoon. And we all know that sausage roll tastes better served up with a full fat cola.

Both Sally and Jeff are, of course, completely metaphorical in this instance. But, I hope you can start to understand my point: people are all too quick to seek a ‘reason’ for being overweight, in order to excuse themselves.

Fat loss comes down to consumption and expenditure. We’ve been over this before (if you missed it, read more about the energy balance equation here).

The more you eat, the more calories your body takes in. If an increase in consumption is not met with an increase in expenditure, the energy balance is somewhat out of whack. In simple terms, the excess of calories will be stored as fat.

So, what’s the point in going over the same ol’ nonsense again, Char?

My point is this… We NEED to stop targeting specific food groups, hormones and everything in between, and get to the facts on fat loss. As fitness professionals, it’s our duty to address false claims, marketing ploys and downright stupid theories on the human body.

So, my message is the same as always…

  • If you want to lose weight, stop eating like an ass.
  • Consume good, wholesome foods: a varied, naturally colourful, fresh dietary intake.
  • Base your meals around lean, high quality protein sources.
  • Eat treats to maintain your sanity, in whatever way works for you. Personally, I advocate little and often, as I feel this is the most realistic and reliable approach.
  • Move. Every damn day. However you want. Just move.

One day, it’ll start to sink in. Promise.

Peace xoxox

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!

How to Ease the Pain of a Hangover

As I’m writing this post, I’m struggling with a very sore head. If I stand up too quickly, I feel dizzy and that awful hangover taste remains in my mouth no matter how many times I brush my teeth. My body hurts. Do you think I went out last night?

So I’m writing this post not only as an offering to you lovely lot, but also to myself. I want it to act as a bit of a reality check, that it’s okay to go out and have fun, drink a bit too much and act a little silly. The key is just not to make a habit of going too hard. You can’t live your life avoiding everything unhealthy, because you’ll end up missing out on loads of the fun stuff (that’s not to say that the gym isn’t fun… The gym is my favourite, but you get what I’m saying).

I purposefully didn’t name this post ‘How to Cure a Hangover’, because my honest opinion is that this horrendous feeling can’t be cured. So these are just a few handy tips that should help you feel a little better.

Water: I know, you’ve heard it before, but alcohol is a diuretic, which means it removes fluid from the body. Most of the symptoms of a hangover result from dehydration, so drink up. When I’m suffering from a sore head, I find plain water quite hard to drink. A great alternative is to add in a few slices of lemon/lime to spruce it up.

Get Outside: I appreciate that moving from your bed is probably the last thing you want to do, but getting outside into the fresh air will help you feel so much better. It’s the best way to clear your head, not to mention, it will take your mind off how rubbish you feel.

Avoid the Desire to Binge on Junk Food: I know it’s tempting, but if you’ve already put your body through a heavy night, you need to help it recuperate properly. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies. Bananas are a great option, because they’re full of potassium. They are also high in electrolytes, which your body will have lost as a result of consuming alcohol.

Don’t Have a Hair of the Dog: Whoever came up with this idea? Alcohol, the cause of your problems right now, as a potential solution? No thanks. Having more alcohol is always going to be a bad idea. It will only prolong that awful feeling your experiencing, so steer clear of this myth.

Sleep: Chances are, you’re probably already lacking on sleep from a late night. So if you’re feeling tired, have a nap. Just make sure you set your alarm, and don’t sleep through the whole day, otherwise it will be a nightmare getting to sleep when it’s actually time for bed.

I hope you find these tips useful!

The Importance of Rest Days

We all know the importance of working out and training hard. However, something that is so often overlooked is the importance of taking rest days. If you want to achieve maximum results from your strength training, you need to allow your body time to recuperate.

What many people don’t know is that lifting weights actually breaks down fibres in the working muscles. Increased strength and mass occur when these fibres heal and rebuild themselves. This is why rest and recovery (alongside a clean diet, high in protein) are so crucial if you want to see progression. Not giving your muscles adequate time to repair leads to increased risk of injury.

If you overtrain by not allowing your body sufficient recovery, performance will plateau. This is why it’s a good idea to split your workouts into muscles groups, targeting certain areas on specific days. This method enables you to train one area of your body whilst another is recovering.

The required amount of rest varies from person to person. The trick is to listen to your own body: if your muscles are sore/you feel fatigued, take a rest day. Just make sure you’re able to determine the difference between necessary recovery time and laziness.

I tend to take two rest days per week, although I’m not the sort of person who can sit around and do nothing all day. So if you’re anything like me, and get itchy feet if you’re not moving, here are some ideas of activities to perform on your rest day:

Cardio: walk, run, cycle, swim – whatever you fancy. Cardio is a great way to get fresh blood pumping around your body. Providing freshly oxygenated blood to the recovering muscles will aid in recovery and repair.

Yoga/stretching: this is a great way to de-stress and clear your mind. Not to mention, it aids in easing muscle tension. Increasing your flexibility greatly reduces the risk of injury, so it’s important to take some time to focus on this.

Foam rolling: getting rid of those nasty niggles is crucial, and strangely satisfying (I always feel about a stone lighter, and a lot more bouncy once I’ve finished rolling my legs). Rolling out your muscles can help increase blood flow, and will also assist in improving mobility.

Recipe – Chickpea and Spinach Salad

This is an incredibly easy vegetarian recipe, which can be adapted to vegan if you substitute the cheddar for vegan cheese. It’s perfect for lunch, a light dinner, or even a side salad. You could also double the recipe and serve it as a sharing plate alongside your main meal.

When I was making this dish, I hadn’t intended to post it online, but it was just too yummy not to! I also can’t stress enough how simple it is to make, which is perfect for those of you with a hectic schedule.

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Chickpeas are an amazing source of protein and, as we know, protein is essential in aiding muscle recovery and cell growth/repair. Chickpeas also contain a high level of fibre, which contributes to digestive health, and helps leave you feeling fuller for longer after a meal.

Below is a list of other vitamins and minerals found in chickpeas, and why these are beneficial to your health:

  • Iron: aids transportation of oxygen around the body, and acts to combat fatigue
  • Manganese: supports bone development and collagen production
  • Phosphate: helps to build/repair bones, and contributes to efficient nerve function
  • Folate: aids cell growth
  • Calcium: essential for bone health, whilst also assisting consistent communication between the brain and the rest of the body
  • Zinc: regulates the immune system

Of course there are plenty of other wholesome ingredients in this recipe, including spinach, avocado and red onion. These nutrient-dense products are sure to leave you feeling fresh, satisfied and fuelled for anything.

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The Recipe:

Vegetarian (or vegan if adapted)

Gluten Free

Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients (always use organic products where possible):

  • Half a can of chickpeas
  • Two handfuls of spinach
  • Half a red onion
  • Half an avocado
  • Around 15g of cheddar cheese, or vegan alternative
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste

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  1. Empty the chickpeas into a colander, rinse with fresh water and leave to drain, before adding to a mixing bowl
  2. Rinse the spinach in the colander, leave to drain whilst you prep the other ingredients
  3. Skin and roughly chop the red onion
  4. Scoop the avocado out of its skin, removing the stone. Chop into chunks
  5. Finely grate the cheddar cheese
  6. Add all prepped ingredients into the mixing bowl, along with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  7. Combine with salad spoons, ensuring the dressing has covered all of the mixture
  8. Serve, and enjoy!

Handy tip: I like to top mine with lots of black pepper, but you could also add dried chilli seeds, for an extra kick!