November already! Wow. Where has this year gone?
fit+strong+healthy (and happy)
It was so good to see 'Team Intensity' training hard in the gym recently. It makes me feel good seeing so many of you there outside your personal training sessions, and seeing you having a chat and supporting each other. Well done!
L-R: Marina, Danielle, Michelle, Libby, Emily, Jacinta - say hi if you see them in the gym!
Food, glorious food
I am not sure what has come over me... but I'm spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and loving it.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've uploaded a bunch of new recipes to the website. You may have noticed that I'm a bit vague with the details. I'm certainly no chef, and I tend to just throw things together. And, I tend to refine recipes each time I use them. Often I get an idea for an ingredient that needs to be added. I just go by consistency, texture and taste. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it really works!
Latest experiments - all in the recipe section of this website:
- Kale salad - this one is easy and if made in bulk, you can use it so many different ways. The ingredients vary each time I make it. How do I use it...? Sometimes it's eaten as is, other times I sprinkle it over a garden salad, other times I add chunky avocado, and yesterday I added quinoa and chopped strawberries.
- Kale slice - another recipe that has been through a few variations. This is so easy and so delicious. I've made it as a slice and also in muffin tins. Eat it hot. Eat it cold. Freeze it for a rainy day (or a sunny one). This is a excellent option for any meal of the day and helps you get in some greens as well as protein.
- OMFG fudge and OMG fudge - two levels of awesomeness! What a fantastic little sweet treat. Try stopping at one piece though... It's a good idea to keep treats like this in the freezer or better still, just make a small batch so you keep your portions under control.
- Chocolate cupcakes - yet another recipe that has been adjusted along the way. These cupcakes are delicious. I've also made them as a slice with a heap of walnuts thrown in. High in protein, they're a good snack. Secret ingredient... roasted pumpkin. I also made a batch using sweet potato and that worked really well!
- Blueberry protein muffins - I made these today and OMG. Delicious.
- Paleo nachos - when I first posted the recipe, it was one of Libby's creations, but this weekend I gave it a whirl and it was as fantastic as she described.
- Creamy green smoothie - this one came from Libby. Reading the ingredients you'd probably turn your nose up... but she tells me it's creamy, very filling, and very delicious. And I believe her!
I also made my own crackers this weekend - although I didn't take any photos, so you won't find them in the recipe section. I needed some crackers to go with a platter of olives, meats, white anchovies and some delicious eggplant dip (I managed to find one that had pretty basic, clean ingredients and no nasties). I really did not want to go with the wheat-based types that you can buy so I thought I'd try making my own - and they turned out really really well. It was a basic mixture - some almond meal, coconut flour, chia seeds (for crunch), a heap of chilli, an egg, a bit of water, and some sea salt. I mixed it altogether and spread it really really thinly on baking paper and then cooked until it was crispy. Perfect. Hardly took any time really, and it's definitely something I'll make again.
Good nutrition is critical to you achieving your goals. But forget about appearances for a second... good nutrition is critical for overall health, wellbeing and performance (mental, physical and emotional performance).
I've almost entirely cut out gluten, have mostly cut out dairy and rarely eat refined sugars. My stomach is flatter - daily - not just once in a while. My skin is better - it seems clearer and much more hydrated - and that pleases me greatly, as I've struggled with problem skin for a long time. I also have far less (I'd say, virtually no) 'episodes' of extreme bloating and excruciating pain. For effect, I've included a photo below.
This is my stomach 20mins after eating a cheap, processed chocolate muffin. Note the bloating, the redness, the swelling around my back. My spine was barely even visible. This is what eating the wrong food can do to you. In the past, I would go through these 'episodes' at least every 5-6 weeks but I thought it was just normal - it was just something I had to deal with. I'd eat something and blow up like a balloon. Sometimes it would result in so much pain that I'd take time off work and spend the day in bed. I keep this photo as a reminder to eat good food!
I'm glad to say that I haven't had one of these episodes for many months, and I know it is due to better food choices and eliminating problem foods.
It's all of these reasons that I want to eat nutritious food. It's these reasons that I experiment with recipes and ingredients. It's these reasons that good food is a priority in my life. Because life is too short to feel like crap.
Libby stops counting calories, eats more and still loses body fat
Libby (right) after training with her new training buddy, Michelle.For most of us, when we're feeling a bit podgy and we're looking to drop body fat, we start cutting calories and eating less. We might start making up for high calorie meals by eating less or even skipping meals altogether. And, we might also start eating more diet foods - foods that are marketed to us as low carb, low fat, gluten-free, no added sugar, etc etc. Libby has fallen for these traps before, so she has written an article about it - about the mistakes she was making, the changes she has made since, and the results she's achieved.
I've mentioned in previous articles that I do a great job of being human. I'm definitely someone who needs to make the same mistake several times before I finally change what I'm doing.
I initially came to Belinda to gain some muscle after a horrible bout of stomach ulcers had left me pretty close to skeletal, with hardly any muscle and no energy to live the active life I once had.
Belinda's initial recommendations were to eat more, pick up heavy weights, and cut back on excessive cardio. Prior to seeing Bel, I had done my own research and I knew that what she was suggesting was the key to building muscle and improving my metabolism (which really was my ultimate goal). But it took awhile for me to get my head around it because eating more, doing more weights and doing less cardio seemed counter-intuitive to me.
I knew I needed to stick to Belinda's plan and trust her and trust my body. As time progressed, I noticed I was building muscle and changing shape.
So, I was seeing results and I was happy. But I had also gained some body fat. As a result of being very sick and underfed for so long, there was the expected rebound weight gain before my metabolism had sorted itself out. My body had been in a state of starvation, so once I started eating again, my body held onto body fat. So, what did I do? I increased exercise (particularly cardio) and I cut calories. Big mistake.
Once again, Belinda reminded me I needed to eat more food, stop counting calories, and stick to the weight training.
After going through the learning process once again, I re-committed to my goal of gaining muscle and improving my metabolism, and I threw away the long rides and runs, and started training even harder with weights.
I started realising the mistakes I had been making - things that were impacting on my metabolism and my ability to gain muscle and reduce body fat:
- not eating enough
- doing excessive cardio (there goes my muscle)
- skimping on my weights program
- eating foods I believed were healthy
- counting calories
- not eating carbs
I noticed the most dramatic change to my body composition when I focused my diet on meat and vegetables and cut out processed foods that claimed to be healthy.
Things were back on track. I went overseas for three weeks, and during that time I again cut back on calories and my training changed. Another mistake.
When I returned, my biosignature assessment with Nayte revealed that I'd not only reduced body fat, but I'd also lost muscle. I knew that I needed the muscle for a healthy metabolism and to burn fat. I was so upset and felt like giving up. But Belinda and Nayte reminded me that I could turn this around pretty quickly and gave me some advice regarding my training, and in particular they recommended that I increase carbs.
I have been pretty carb-phobic but I trusted Belinda and Nayte and I added carbs pre and post workout - the right carbs at the right times.
The result... in just three weeks, I reduced my body fat percentage by 1.6% and increased muscle by 1kg. My body shape has noticeably changed.
So, what changes did I make in that three weeks?
- started eating more - I eat more frequently, I eat when I'm hungry, and I finish eating when I'm full
- focus on eating whole foods over processed foods
- started eating the right carbs at the right times
- changed my training to a mix of heavy weights with a muscle-gaining focus, with some metabolic training and interval training. (Scew running 40kms a week and exercising 1-2 hours a day...)
The biggest thing I needed to do was 'give this time'. There have been plenty of times where I've contemplated giving up. Thankfully commonsense kicks in or someone nearby gives me some 'tough love' and I stick with it. After about 7 months of consistently sticking to the plan, I am truly starting to enjoy having a healthy metabolism. I am building muscle, and reducing body fat. My legs are much leaner now than any amount of calorie counting or cardio was giving me. So the lesson I have finally learned is that eating good, clean food, training smarter (not longer) has led to more muscle and less fat, which means I feel better about my body than I ever have (and I weigh more than I did previously!). Not to mention, I look better if I do say so myself. So... muscle up ladies!!!
Some books that have helped me...
The Smarter Science of Slim
Thanks Libby! I am so proud of what you have achieved. Libby has made a complete transformation - not just in the way she looks, but the way she trains and her attitude towards food. You'll find many of Libby's kitchen experiments in the recipe section of this website.
So, basically, Libby has been eating more food, eating more carbs**, and she gained muscle and reduced her body fat. A great lesson for her, giving her confidence to continue doing what she's doing.
**One thing to remember though... While training with weights, reducing excessive cardio and focusing your diet on whole, unprocessed foods is advice I'd give each and every one of you, when it comes to carbs, Libby is fortunate that she has reduced her body fat to a point that allows her to now be a bit more flexible with her carbs. This is why she is trialling the pre and post workout carbs. You might remember I mentioned in a previous newsletter that the leaner you are, the more flexible you can be with carbs, and this is one of the things that regular biosignature assessments can help us determine.
So for the majority of my clients, carbs (starchy carbs or fruits) are recommended after vigorous exercise only, but the rest of the day you need to focus on vegetables (particularly greens) and some less-sweet fruits if body fat reduction is your primary goal. (As well as protein and good fats of course).
Photo shoot update
I'm meeting with Travis (the photographer) on Wednesday this week. We'll check out the venue and discuss some ideas for the shoot, as well as finalise a few details. The photo shoot is now just three weeks away... how exciting!!
Final payments are due by Saturday 17 November. Some of you paid the full amount upfront - thank you, there's no further payment required from you. For those of you who paid a 50% deposit, the remaining $85 is due by Saturday.
Here's a great little article from Chasing Cait - a quick guide to the four basic body shapes and some tips on how to dress for your shape!
Don't forget the get-together this Saturday (17 November) from 8am to 9am. We'll kick things off with a short FUN workout, followed by breakfast treats! Trav and Shan will be there to meet those of you who are booked in for the photo shoot.
Date - Saturday 17 November
Time - 8am to 9am (please arrive just before 8am ready for a warm up)
Location - New Farm Park - we'll meet at the Brunswick St / Sydney St corner (where the soccer fields are)
If you haven't RSVPd yet - please let me know by Wednesday this week so I can arrange catering.
See you in the gym!