PROGRESS UPDATE NO. 3: “The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles.”

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When I started this blog, one of my main goals was to give an open and honest account of my comp prep journey. We tend to only see the glamourous side of a fitness model’s journey – that perfectly ripped body, those perfect workouts and their perfect diet. We don’t see their struggles and their failures; we just see their highlight real. I want to share with you my first big set back; not because I have to, but because I am committed to maintaining as much honesty as possible. In the end we are all human and none of us are perfect, despite what our social media accounts may convey.

I’ve suffered a few ups and downs with my stomach since changing my diet. But the past two weeks my stomach pains became unbearable. It got to the point I was struggling with every day activities. I had a feeling my body wasn’t digesting properly, because I was getting bloated and extremely full extremely quickly, amongst other symptoms. This caused a lot of discomfort, which I was able to push through at the start but it became progressively worse. It got to the point I could feel every meal just sitting in my stomach and I couldn’t eat anywhere near as much as usual. I also came down with a cold last week, which is pretty rare for me, and I now realize that it could also be attributed to my digestive issues – once digestive functioning is impaired, the ability for the body to absorb nutrients from the food you eat is diminished.

I made the decision to put my health first and eat the things I was craving – namely fruit and yoghurt (both of which support the digestive system). I replaced some of my meals with fruit smoothies because I couldn’t stomach the meat that I knew would just sit heavy in my stomach again.

I knew that I couldn’t keep eating the way I was until my digestion was sorted, because it was making me feel so ill. Although my goal is to compete, my health is my utmost priority and I would never sacrifice that for anything. Incorporating the fruit and yoghurt was enough to help improve my digestion until I was able to see my coach and sort out some supplements to aid digestion, which I am now taking.

I’m lucky that I’m quite ‘in tune’ with my body – I know that when I’m craving something it’s generally because my body is suffering a deficiency, and I can usually recognize and respond to that. I know what my body feels like operating at 100%, and I know when something isn’t quite right. Although I basically threw my diet out the window for a few days, even my coach said he is glad I had the common sense to listen to my body and it’s surprising how many people don’t, particularly when focused on a goal such as competing.

Obviously not being able to follow my eating plan for the past week or two is a set back. However, I started early for the exact reason that I wasn’t sure how my body would respond and wanted time to tweak things and make it work. My digestive issues are not particularly surprising, given I was a vegetarian for so many years and my diet is now highly meat based. I’m just lucky that this happened now instead of in the final 12 week lead up to comp, when it could have taken me out of the running. The supplements seem to be working so far and I’m back on track with my eating and training.

Luckily it’s not all bad news! 🙂  My coach is happy with how my body has responded to this phase of training so the next phase is going to focus on increasing weights again and dropping the reps! I’ll be working in an even lower rep range (between 2 and 8 reps depending on the exercise) to really build some muscle and strength! And I’m super motivated after being forced into taking some time off from it all, so I’m looking forward to these next two weeks! 🙂

With love,

B. xx

PROGRESS UPDATE NO. 2 – “You can have results or excuses – not both.”

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I just had my third body composition testing to see how far I’ve come in the last 4 weeks. This test marks the end of week 10. I’m starting to get tests closer together now so that if something isn’t working, we can change it. Going into this test I was feeling pretty deflated. I’ve been on the second phase of training for 4 weeks now and didn’t feel like I had changed. The only real changes I had noticed were a bit more size in my upper body and legs. If I had to guess, I would have thought my body fat percentage had gone up.

However the results of the test surprised me! The most exciting part is that I gained 2kg of lean muscle mass in the space of 4 weeks! The goal of this phase of training is moreso about building muscle than it is about losing fat. The weights are heavier and the reps lower. Being naturally small it is a fight for me to build muscle, so I couldn’t be happier that the training is working.  I also dropped 0.2% body fat during this phase. Although this isn’t huge, it’s good if I can still maintain my body fat level or lose a bit of fat as I build muscle, so losing 0.2% to bring me to 16% overall is a good result.  My coach was happy with this too. He is confident he will be able to get me lean easily and the most important thing is holding on to muscle mass.

I honestly thought my coach was going to ask me what the hell I’d been doing and why I hadn’t got any results this time around! I just didn’t feel different. This goes to show I need to have faith in the process – my body was responding the way it was supposed to, I just couldn’t see it. I know if I follow my coach’s instructions to a tee, I should get the results I’m after.

Dealing with setbacks 

The major set back I had this last week was coming down with a cold, losing my appetite and only really being able to stomach fresh fruit and veggies. I rarely get sick but I ran myself down after functioning on little sleep, working full time and maintaining my intensity of training. Having a cold made me crave sweet foods for a pick me up – mainly fresh fruits and soothing cold drinks for my sore throat. I prefer to rely on natural medicines when I get sick – like eating more vitamin c through oranges, carrots and berries, and taking manuka honey and green tea in order to remedy a cold. But unfortunately these things all contain sugar, which is not technically part of my comp prep diet. However I chose to put my health first and include more fresh fruit and manuka honey to try and kick the cold so I can get back into my training fast. I do believe in listening to my body, and wanted to give it the best chance to recover quickly. I’m feeling better for it and only had to take one extra rest day this week as a result.

Where to now… 

I’ve worked out that I’m sitting 18 weeks out from comp, and I’ve already been dieting for 10 weeks. I’ve still got so far to go, and it’s difficult to maintain motivation when your goal is not really in sight. I had a chat to my coach and he thinks I’ll need 12 weeks for my strict comp prep. So instead of dieting for 26 weeks in a row without a break (which would be the longest comp prep ever and not sustainable!), I’m going to get a week of ‘flexible dieting’ starting on November 30th. Essentially this is a week off from my diet so I can enjoy meals out a bit more. I won’t go completely nuts, but it will be nice to enjoy health foods like fruit smoothies, raw treats and protein bars that are not really part of my comp prep diet. I will still stick to my training regime during this time. I don’t find adhering to the training difficult, but dieting is very time consuming and can get a bit boring. It will be nice to have more variety in my foods for a week before knuckling down. Now that I have a date set for this in the foreseeable future, it should be easier to maintain discipline with something to look forward to in just 3 weeks time. 🙂

I’m looking forward to the last week on this phase of training. The goal is to keep gaining muscle mass while maintaining a low level of body fat! Bring on the gains! 😛

With love,
B. xx

6 Every-Day Habits that may be Compromising your Health and Weight Loss!

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Many people don’t realize the consequences little things have on their health. But when you do these little things every day, it starts to add up and can compromise your health and weight loss efforts. Check out these 6 every-day habits that may be acting to your detriment.

1. Your coffee

Coffee is one of the crops most highly sprayed with pesticides. This means that your coffee beans, although seemingly innocent, may be leeching chemicals into your body.

How do you avoid this? Buy organic! Find a local coffee shop that has an organic blend. If you buy instant coffee, also switch this for an organic one. I use ‘Republica’ organic coffee (available from Coles), which tastes better than most instant coffees I’ve tried and it’s better for you.

How you drink your coffee could also be taking its toll. Do you enjoy a latte or a cappuccino? Everyone is mildly sensitive to lactose, and drinking a full cup of dairy won’t do you any favours. Dairy also causes inflammation within the body, so it can stop you getting that lean and ripped effect. Drink your coffee black. You get used to it.

2. Your ‘healthy’ breakfast

Do you sit down over morning with your bowl of natural muesli, banana, yoghurt and honey and applaud yourself for being so healthy? Unfortunately there is more than one reason why this isn’t a good way to start your day. Here they are:

  • If you buy your muesli, it is probably full of preservatives, sugar, sulphites in the dried fruit, and other nasties.
  • Even if you make your own muesli or have found a packet one which you believe to be free of artificial additives, starting your day with a big bowl of carbs is only going to cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels, which when they plummet, will lead to sugar cravings later in the day and potentially an afternoon crash.
  • Banana, honey and yogurt may sound healthy but they too are full of sugar and will cause the same spike in blood sugar/ sugar cravings/ afternoon slump.
  • There is little protein in the meal. Even if you are using a high protein Greek Yoghurt, it’s not the same as eating meat or eggs for breakfast.

The best way to start your day is with a high protein, low carb meal instead – like a vegetable omelette. A savoury meal as opposed to a sweet meal will stop you craving sugars later in the day by avoiding that initial spike of your blood sugar. Meat and veg is a great breakfast too, if you can stomach it at that time of day. I know I can’t, but if you can I would definitely recommend eating meat for breakfast.

3. Your job/ Your study

Do you have a high-pressure job or study load? Stress is a huge factor in body fat, due to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released when you stress, and leads to the storage of body fat. Unfortunately we all have stress in our lives, but the way you cope with it will play a role in your body fat storage. This is particularly the case with fat around the stomach. I am a massive stresshead, and tend to fill my days to the absolute brim, causing myself more stress. I’ve managed to decrease this slightly by supplementing with Magnesium, practicing meditation, and just generally taking ‘me’ time. Your body will benefit from cutting the stresses out of your life, or at least learning to manage them.

4. Your vegetables

Vegetables are healthy, right? Well unfortunately in this day and age where farmers are more concerned with the yield of their crop than the quality of it, we are being sold vegetables laden with chemical pesticides. The best way to avoid this is to buy organic vegetables. There are some vegetables where this is more important than others – you can find lists online of the vegetables that are most highly treated with pesticides and thus should always be bought organic.

5. Your beauty routine

Toxins make their way into your body not only through your food but through your skin. I tend to harp on about this a lot, so if you follow my blog you probably already know that! Toxins cause the storage of body fat because they slow the detoxification process of the liver (basically because it has more work to do), so it can’t adequately remove all the toxins from the body. This causes the toxins to be stored in the body (in the form of fat and/or inflammation). The best way to limit this is either trying to wear less make up, or wear it less often, and switch to certified organic products. One of my favourite beauty products is coconut oil. You can use it as a moisturizer, and even as an eye make-up remover!

6. Your cooking methods

Many people still cook with olive oil or vegetable oil. Cooking with olive oil is a bad idea because when you heat it beyond a certain point, it loses all its nutritional value. Even worse – heating it actually releases harmful, carcinogenic compounds. Vegetable oils shouldn’t be used as an alternative because they are full of trans fat. Instead, it is best to cook with extra virgin coconut oil – it’s good fat, it tastes delicious, and it doesn’t become carcinogenic once heated.

Changing these few things can make a big difference to your health. I hope you learnt something by reading this 🙂

With love,
B. xx