Don't Be Scared to Eat More

Don't Be Scared to Eat More

‘Life has an odd way of making things work out when you need them’

By the end of the summer I had pretty much achieved what I set out to. I had had my adventures, I felt much more comfortable with my food habits and most of all, I had worked super hard to build a strong body I felt pleased with when I looked in the mirror. The only issue was that after 3 months of the same programme, I was starting to get a little bit bored. Other than continuing to get stronger, I didn’t really know what else I could do or what more I could achieve in the gym. I worried for my motivation and what in turn that would do to all my hard work over the summer, especially considering I was going to have to become an early morning/late evening gymmer once I started full time work.

But things have a funny way of popping up when you need them…

Those of you who used to read my blog, may very well remember Michael Bell, the PT I owe my love for, my knowledge of and basically my everything gym related to. Well I happened to see on social media that he was in the process of building up his PT portfolio, creating his own website and writing people training and nutrition plans. I got in contact within a heartbeat and signed up for a 12 week programme, including a food plan, training schedule and constant advice and support.

I seriously debated over whether I needed the diet plan from Michael, as I had been feeling pretty confident with my food. However, looking back through MyFitness Pal, I realised a huge issue. My goal all summer had been to lose weight and in the process I had dropped my calories to an average of 1200 a day. But that meant that if I wanted to continue losing body fat, I was going to have to drop them even lower and 1200 calories fundamentally wasn’t a healthy, sustainable amount. Alarm bells rang loud and I put my trust in Michael to help me sort it out. 

Sort it out, he did. We basically set up a long-term reverse dieting plan, consisting of carb cycles that matched up against my training programme. High carbs on big, heavy lifting days and low carbs on rest/ low intensity workout days. As the weeks went on and the training focus changed, we updated the cycles, increasing my overall calorie intake as my body got used to everything and my metabolism sped up. At times, the calorie increase scared me, as I was certain that eating more would just make me gain fat quickly like it had done in the past. But Michael was always there for me, constantly assuring me it was only going to fuel my training and it was good for me.

I mean the proof was in the pudding and it was hard not to trust him when the results were so consistently amazing. The body fat fell off me and, after 5 months of working with Michael I am the leanest I have ever been. My metabolism has racked up so much that I can happily eat, and do eat around 2000 calories a day, without worrying about gaining fat. This increase in calories also means I am the strongest I have ever been, setting new PBs week on week as my food intake fuels my workouts and allows me to push harder.

I couldn’t be more grateful for Michael’s help and more impressed by what we have achieved together in such a short space of time. I can squat and deadlift 100kg, I can power clean 5/6 of my body weight, I can do strict chin ups, I can eat large quantities of the food I want and not feel guilty about gaining fat, I can eat a piece of cake and not feel an overwhelming need to eat another 2, and most importantly, I can look in the mirror and love what I see!

Michael Bell, you are a fitness genius!

Get in touch with Michael:
Instagram: michaelbell_pt 

Email me:
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Twitter: nextstopfit4

Summer Goals

Summer Goals

It was going to be my final ever summer of freedom and I was determined to make the most of it. I wanted to explore new places, go on adventures with my friends and enjoy every minute of it. I had to get myself to a place where I felt comfortable with myself, my body and my eating habits, otherwise I knew I would miss out on opportunities to make lasting memories.

The gym became a necessity to achieving this. I knew I had to lift the weights to lose the weight I so desperately wanted off. As time went on and I got a bit more used to the idea of training in the gym again, I started to look forward to sessions. I grew stronger and began to lift the weights that felt so heavy at the beginning with ease. I remember not being able to clean 30kg for more than 3 reps in my first session and within a few weeks I was getting 5 or 6 out. The results came in thick and fast –my strength increased and my body shape changed in a positive way. That made my confidence improve and I couldn’t’ help but start to fall in love with what I was doing. Soon enough, the gym no longer felt like a chore or just a means to look better, it was a way to feel better about myself, set goals and see what I could achieve.

With my body confidence improving and me finally finding a hobby that brought a smile to my face again, I relied much less on food to make me happy. My compulsive need to over eat stopped and I just enjoyed myself and my meals. I happily ate a piece of cake when I wanted it, because I knew I was working hard enough in the gym to account for it. But I no longer felt that inherent need to eat a second or third piece of cake when I wasn’t hungry.

Now I’m not going to pretend that all my food issues magically disappeared, because at the end of the day I knew the total calories I was consuming was integral to my weight loss. As much as I could, I used MyFitness Pal to keep track of what I consumed, ensuring that at the end of the week I was in a calorie deficit. Now, some would say this was unnecessary and obsessive and yes, I agree, maybe it was. But it actually taught me a lot about portion sizes, how much I should really be eating of each macronutrient and helped me to know I was on track. I tried as much as I could to make sure I was doing it in a healthy way so as not to restrict myself, which I was aware could lead me to fall off the wagon and start binging again. For meals where I ate out, my weekend trips and the three weeks I spent interrailing, I didn’t touch MyFitness Pal as I didn’t want food to be a deep thought or a maths problem. I learnt to trust my instincts, listen to my hunger levels and control my eyes and emotions. If I wanted something and I was hungry, I had it. If it looked average and I wasn’t really hungry, then I didn’t bother. Food just became a lot more simple and that was exactly what I needed.

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Twitter: nextstopfit4

Getting Back in the Gym

Getting Back in the Gym

‘We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.’ 

The double doors to the gym felt like the heaviest obstacles I had attempted to overcome in a while. Yes, those doors I so happily used to prance through every day of the week just two years ago. But that first day back, they required such an effort from me. How was I going to do this? I belonged back in the studio teaching classes. Where would I even start? With a deep breath in, a fist clench and a little ‘Come on Sam’, I took the step, catching my first glimpse of all the exercise machines that had been lacking in my life for such a long time.

Now I know what you’re thinking, dramatic right? This is the girl who used to write countless blog posts on how to lift weights, give people advice on ways to get stronger and happily train alongside the big boys. But two years out and I had honestly forgotten what it felt like, what to even do and where to begin.

So I started with the one thing I did remember; the squat rack.

Now I’m not going to pretend I had the best session ever and my love and knowledge for the gym came flooding back to me. It was intimidating, it was gruelling and most of all, it was mentally tough. But with the first session in the bag, I was on my way and I felt proud of myself for that. I went straight home and started doing some research, looking up training programmes and exercises I could do, so at least I had a plan next time I walked through those doors.

I decided to follow a high volume compound training programme. Basically workouts that would involve all my muscles, get me stronger, get my heart rate up and allow me to monitor progress. Every other day I rotated through different whole body exercises – squats, dead lifts, power presses, cleans, bench presses, you name it. I completed 6 reps and 6 sets of 4 exercises. If I was able to do them all without failing, I added 1.25kg to the weight the following session. To me, although a little repetitive, it was the perfect way to get back into feeling comfortable training. My technique was good and because it was always every muscle group, it didn’t require me to look into 4-5 specific chest exercises and another 4-5 to compliment hitting the opposite muscle group for ‘chest and back’ day.

I know the phrase is ‘slowly but surely’, but it was more like ‘quickly and surely’ and I noticed changes almost straight away. My strength increased, my body fat went down and with it my confidence, both in and out of the gym, improved. I started to enjoy my sessions, spending over an hour working through the sets. I didn’t feel the need to come home and stuff my face with rubbish. I wanted to refuel my muscles with healthy options and I wanted to make sure I was getting enough of the right nutrients to do this. I downloaded MyFitness pal and we’ve been good mates ever since.

Email me:
Instagram: @nextstopfit4
Twitter: @nextstopfit4

You can't out exercise a bad diet

You Can't Out Exercise a Bad Diet

‘I did three classes today, so that means I can legitimately eat this piece of cake right?’

This is how I used to rationalise my excessive over eating behaviours. Except that what I failed to recognise, was the abnormally large bowl of cheesy pasta I had eaten for dinner, the crackers I had snacked on whilst preparing it and the ice cream I had scoffed down after lunch. So yes… I could very easily eat that piece of cake. But I couldn’t have the cake, everything else and the body I ‘deserved’ considering the amount of exercise I was doing.

It’s a well-known saying that you can’t out exercise a bad diet and I was very much demonstrating the definition of this.  Despite exercising multiple times a day, my overly excessive calorie consumption meant all my efforts jumping around and sweating were, in essence, pointless for my weight loss goals.

I said in my last post I made the ultimate decision to sort out my bad eating habits in June, well I kind of started sowing the seeds a little bit earlier than that – maybe April time. I figured that if I cut down on the amount I was eating and made better, more nutritious choices, I would start to see result in a positive direction. So that’s what I did. I carried on teaching group exercise classes most days, eating less and I did indeed notice some small, positive changes in my body composition.

However, progress was super slow and it was difficult to keep motivated when I was seeing such little return. Whilst I loved, and felt safe in the comfort of my studio, group exercise classes weren’t helping me to achieve my goals at the rate I needed and I was starting to lose the love for it and it became a chore. Finally, those words so many instructors had spoken to me, ‘teaching classes is a workout for your participants, it is not your own training,’ rang true. If I wanted to see my own results, I had to go back to where I had spent so much time all those years ago. I had to face up to the gym…

Life Is Like A Roller Coaster

Life Is Like A Roller Coaster

‘Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs, but it’s your choice to scream and enjoy the ride.’

About four years ago I began my fitness journey, falling in love with the world of training and nutrition. I spent my days with the most inspiring people who helped me to become someone I had always wanted to be. Someone who looked in the mirror, loved themselves and was proud of what they saw. But the world is forever changing and keeping up with every little craze and remaining positive with yourself is super hard, especially when everything else around you is moving so quickly.

For those of you who used to read my blog, before I say anything else, I want to say thank you. It made up a time in my life where things weren’t particularly secure and I found joy and happiness in connecting with the world through sharing my knowledge and opinions of fitness and nutrition. But like I say, with the latest crazes changing so quickly and so many people throwing around their different opinions, it was easy to get lost in my own thoughts, run out of things I felt comfortable talking about and ultimately, fall out of love with it all.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but the past year and a half since I stopped writing has been a rollercoaster of a journey. There have been ups and there have been downs, but mostly there has been a lack of stability, which has been reflected in my physical body image, my eating habits and my mental attitude.  Let’s just say I have been back and forth through stages of restricted eating, total and complete binges and just general, unnecessary moments of self-sabotage. Despite teaching exercise classes most days, and quite often even twice a day, my unhealthy eating habits held me back from making any positive physical changes and I felt constantly rubbish about myself –no matter how much I tried to adjust the camera angles to see the slightest ab line.

After a lot of self reflection and perhaps making myself the sickest I think I have ever felt from food, I finally made the active decision to sort it out. But this wasn’t just going to be another ‘healthy’ phase that lasted a month or two. This was going to be a change in mentality. A promise to myself to treat my body like it deserved to be treated. To get back in the gym and fall in love with training again. To look in the mirror and be proud of not just what I saw, but the dedication and action behind it.

I made that decision back in June and it was the best decision I could have made…