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Friday, 31 October 2014

The 'P' Word


I want to talk about something that some people find a bit awkward, but most of us women have to deal whether we like it or not... periods.

Oh the horror!

I specifically want to talk about how it can effect our fitness and clean eating efforts.

You can be feeling weak and lethargic, emotional, grumpy, not to mention in pain. When you're brain is telling you to curl up in bed with a hot water bottle, it can be near impossible to tie up your running shoes.

There's other things too, like bloating, water retention and sugar cravings. If you're following a strict fitness plan or are counting down to a big event, it can make you feel like all of your hard work isn't paying off because you can't SEE your efforts, and your scales may even show you as being a few pounds heavier...

But you're not alone! We all have to put up with it, and here are some tips that might make things a little easier:

THE BLOAT


There's nothing worse than working hard in the gym all month, only to look in the mirror and see a swollen stomach. Don't let it get you down, it's only temporary, but there's a few things you can do to help:
  • Drink more water - the best way to reduce water retention is to encourage your body to release what it's storing, by drinking more. Yeah. Seriously.
  • Magnesium - is proven to help with bloating during your period, and also with other PMS symptoms (including cravings). It's also great for keeping your muscles healthy and aids with recovery after exercise.
  • Keep active - giving up and sitting on your bum will only make the water retention worse. Get moving, commit to your workout, go for a walk on your lunch break, anything.

THE CRAVINGS


That absolutely desperate voice that seems to be coming from your very core, screaming "give me some chocolaaaaaate"... it's not uncommon, and not ideal.

Things that help stem cravings are:
  • Water - again, yes, but seriously, water is amazing stuff and WILL help your cravings, guaranteed.
  • Coconut water - Full of electrolytes, amazing for your skin, and that hint of sweet can really hit the spot.
  • Dark chocolate - it's actually good for you. No really. Stick to 70% or higher, and don't go too crazy. It's an antioxidant and what's more, according to some research carried out by John Hopkins University School of Medicine (shit's getting serious here), chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart attack by almost 50% in some cases!

THE SCALES


Gaining a few pounds during your period is not uncommon, and is put down to several factors including water retention.

I'm not going to tell you a magic way of zapping the pounds, I'm just going to say something ridiculously obvious: STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALES!

What's the point? It's just making you feel shit about yourself, and it's not an accurate reflection of your progress, so step away and give it a rest until next week yeah?


THE MOOD SWINGS


Oh the joy. Some women get it worse than others, but we've all been there. A few little things go wrong and next thing you know, you're in a heap convinced that the whole world is against you. Or you're having a great day, but then you see some kid fall over in an advert on TV, and WHAM... hysterical crying for that poor fake boy with his fake injury.

Try these out:
  • Exercise - whether it's HIIT training, a run or some gentle yoga, exercise releases endorphins which a) make you happier, and b) can help reduce your cramps.
  • Magnesium (again), calcium and vitamin B6 - they are all proven to aid PMS (including all of the other symptoms listed here by up to half) and whether you get more through your diet or take a supplement, it's definitely worth making sure you're getting enough.

THE ENERGY LEVELS


For me, this is the thing I struggle with the most. When energy levels are low, it's hard to get moving and get decent workout in, but as I've mentioned above, that's exactly what your body needs.

Here are some tips:
  • Sleep - that doesn't necessarily mean sleep IN... try to get to bed an hour earlier than you normally do. Your body needs the extra time to rest during this time and you are more likely to feel up to working out the next day if you are properly rested.
  • Avoid caffeine - it's too easy to turn to caffeinated drinks when you need a quick pick me up, but studies have proven that consuming too much caffeine during your period can make all of the above symptoms worse. Not cool.
  • Water - yeah I'm saying it again. WATEEEEER.

Ok - now it's your turn. What do you do that helps keep you happy and active during your period?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide - the challenge

As Tone It Up's 8 week Frisky Fall challenge comes to an end, I'm busy contemplating my next challenge.

I'm ready to try something new!

If you are a regular Instagram user, and find yourself browsing the fitness related stuff, you can't have missed the girl everyone's talking about - Kayla Itsines (www.instagram.com/kayla_itsines).

www.instagram.com/kalya_itsines

Kayla is 'Instafamous' and has amassed over 1.5 million followers to date, with endless women singing praise to her 12 week Bikini Body Guide. The transformations that her and her followers post are incredible.

So last week, after much deliberation, I bit the bullet and purchased the guide (available at www.kaylaitsines.com.au) and have spent the past week giving it a good read through, and let me tell you, this is not going to be easy!!

www.instagram.com/kayla_itsines

So what's the score?

The guide involves 3 days of resistance training a week, which consist of two sets of 4 exercises with a set number of reps for each. You pick a set, complete the moves for as many rounds as you can for 7 minutes, have a 30 second break, then do the same for the other set, then do it all over again. Absolutely killer! There are also regular LISS and HIIT cardio sessions to mix in, and the intensity builds steeply week on week.

It's no wonder these girls look so amazing.

You can do this at home (like I plan to) or at the gym. If you're thinking about it, but aren't sure what equipment is needed, here's what is used:



  • Dumbbells (3-5kg each)
  • Medicine Ball (6-12 kg)
  • Skipping Rope
  • Bosu
  • 1-2 Flat Benches


  • There's a page in the plan where Kayla recommends things you can use instead. For example you can use a dumbbell in each hand instead of a Medicine Ball, or any stable flat surface (such as a chair or high step) instead of the flat benches.

    Luckily I've got dumbbells, a medicine ball and a skipping rope already. I'm going to use two chairs for the benches, and skip the Bosu (they are pretty pricey!). The only thing the Bosu is used for is for Bosu burpees, so I'll stick to the regular ol' (absolutely hellish) burpees.

    Kayla also has a H.E.L.P nutrition plan available, but I'm going to stick with my Tone It Up nutrition plan (available at www.toneitup.com) as I absolutely love it - but that's a whoooole other post in itself.

    Frisky Fall ends this Sunday, so I'll start Kayla's BBG on Monday and post my weekly reviews on here. The good, bad, and very very ugly.

    Wish me luck!

    Sunday, 26 October 2014

    The Backstory

    Hey, I'm Emily. 

    I'm a huge book lover and always have been. I can (and often do) read for hours on end, and I'll give any author or genre a go at least once. 
    If there was ever a books versus kindle war, I'd fight for the real thing. I just love the smell of the pages, and the look of a busy bookshelf.

    When it comes to health and fitness however, it's a pretty new discovery. I've never really been a sporty person, and never in a million years did I think that exercise could be fun (shock horror!). 

    I never used to work out, nor did I really think I should. I used to eat whatever, and get away with it for the most part. Occasionally I'd start a fad diet and do a bit of useless exercise for a week or so before losing interest.

    It was only in Spring this year, as I was contemplating an upcoming summer holiday, that I realised that I was dreading putting on a bikini. I knew I was going to feel self-conscious and I just didn't want to feel that way anymore, I wanted confidence. Not only that but I'd been suffering from acne for a while, and was constantly tired and unhappy, things that could be helped if I made the effort to help myself. Something snapped in me and I made the decision to commit to a better lifestyle for myself.

    I found Tone It Up just as their annual 8 week Bikini Series challenge was starting, so I started following the free weekly fitness schedule, going to bed an hour earlier and getting up an hour earlier to fit it in.


    The first two weeks really were a struggle, but then I started to feel a difference and I was hooked! 

    The community of women that Tone It Up have created is amazing, as are the two founders and trainers Karina and Katrina. Their passion for what they have created is infectious, and the community do nothing but support, inspire, and lift each other up. It's amazing to be a part of it.

    Here's the progress I made in those 8 weeks:


    I'd started paying more attention to what I was eating and continued to make an effort and work out regularly after the Bikini Series ended, but I did loosen up on it, especially during an amazing long holiday to Sri Lanka where I definitely made the most of their delicious local food and beer!

    When the next Tone It Up 8 week challenge came along this autumn, 'Frisky Fall', I decided I needed to kick it up a gear and I also wanted to educate myself more in the nutritional side of things, so I purchased the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan and started it on the day I started new challenge.

    I'm 7 weeks in to Frisky Fall now, and I've lost 8lbs overall since the Spring. Ultimately though, I feel so much better in myself: healthier, stronger, mentally happier, and I know that this is only the beginning. 

    I want to keep setting myself new goals, trying new things and hope to meet more amazing, inspiring people along the way. I plan to write about my experiences here as I continue on my journey, plus share healthy tips, recipes, plus write about my other love of course - books! I hope you'll join me!