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Monday, 4 February 2019

My Diet and Fitness Over The Last Year

reebok gym leggings

It's the start of the year and that means everyone's talking about fitness, health and wellbeing. Love it or hate it, it happens every year. I approached my January/new year fitness a little bit different this year. In previous years, I've taken the whole of Christmas off and just eaten everything and refused to go to the gym (TOTALLY FINE BY THE WAY, FOOD IS LIFE and you know what, our bodies need rest after a busy year) but then I really struggle to 'get back on it' in January/Feb. I feel as if over the last year (2018) it's been so difficult to stick to a workout routine because I've been living out of hotels or between cities so actually, Christmas time for me this year was the only period where my life was in one place for a set amount of time and I lived for the routine so for once, just smashed out the gym during Christmas. I know to some that sounds absolutely crazy but honestly? I do it for my mind and driving to the gym with no phone, no work commitments, having a little bit of me time and breathing on Boxing Day, made me feel incredible. I feel as if 2018 was so stressful in so many ways and one of the only ways I can de-stress myself (apart from a long hot bath with a Jo Malone candle and all the chocolate) is hammering it out at the gym for 45 mins or stretching my legs and getting some fresh air. I go to the gym a total stressed mess and I leave feeling epic. Today I want to talk to you about my diet and fitness regime over the last year I get a lot of questions about my gym routine and diet so hopefully this may answer some.

If you missed my most recent what I do at the gym blog post, you may want to read that, I answered lots of different FAQS about my gym routine, my diet etc and I'm going to do the same here in the hopes that it inspires you for the year ahead and gives you a little breakdown into my 2018 fitness/diet...

How many times did you work out in 2018? It may sound silly to some, but my way of keeping on track, keeping myself accountable and tracking my workouts is to get a yearly planner and tick off every day I work out. It's so great to be able to see each month in view and really plan workouts in. It prevents me from overtraining, actually allows me to be kinder to myself and say: oi, Em, you've done 3 workouts this week, chill out and rest. But also, it's a great way of tracking my progress. I wanted to do it as a little bit of a test, to prove that you can have time off and still be consistent. I counted up all the ticks and managed to squeeze in 160 workouts in 2018, it basically equates to an average of 3x workouts per week which I'm really happy with. The way this was broken down in my diary? On some weeks I worked out 5x, on some weeks I worked out 2x and there was a three week period where I didn't actually work out at all. I guess it's a way of showing myself and others that it's totally okay to have time off.

Gym addiction? If you read my blog post about gym and health addiction you'll know that whilst I adore fitness, health and wellbeing and I'm so thrilled there's such a spotlight on it at the moment, I do think social media can actually make people to feel guilty for anything they put in their mouths, feel guilty if they don't go to the gym every single day and also, make become addicted to counting calories. I never want to make anyone feel bad for eating pizza, for enjoying life or for missing a workout but equally, I understand the benefits of working out for the body and the mind BUT, social media just adds on that pressure and none of us need that. In some ways it's great as it inspires us to move more but in other ways it can be dangerous and can make us become addicted, feel as if we're not doing enough or, make us feel guilty for enjoying the yummy things in life. One thing I deliberately didn't do was go on and on about being in the gym during Christmas because the last thing I wanted to do was make anyone feel an inch of guilt for not being there. Realistically, I went to the gym for my mind/soul then got home and ate a tub of Cheeselets, not because I was trying to earn my food (another thing I do not agree with - you're not a dog, you do not need to earn your food and you DO NOT need to workout for your food but that's a whole new topic). Boxing Day and Christmas Day are most definitely days of rest, and you know what, good for you if you took the whole of December for rest, you've frazzled your body out for a whole 11 months, you deserve it. For me, it was a 45 minute chance to just have some time to myself after a crazy month and I guess that's the thing, we all have different goals when it comes to working out.

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How did you stay motivated to work out throughout 2018? How did I stay motivated in 2018 to smash out those 160 workouts? So many ways! I'd advise reading my 8 ways I motivate myself to workout first but to summarise, the hardest bit is definitely getting to the gym and this is something I say a lot. Leaving your warm, cosy house or dragging yourself there when you just wanna sleep, is the tough bit but once you've done it, you'll feel amazing. I think it's all about figuring out what works for you, doing classes/workouts you genuinely love, finding a gym that's convenient and local for you or your commute and making it easy for yourself rather than it feeling like a huge trek/chore. I do find new gym kit inspires me, I also find a new year massively inspires me. The thing that motivates me most, as cliche as it sounds is seeing positive changes in my body and remembering how good my mind feels after a workout when it's swimming with endorphins. If you can find a friend or partner to push you on the days you can't be bothered, that definitely helps too. Good music is a must when it comes to staying motivated in those last few minutes of a workout too. Don't forget though, it really is okay to take time off, sometimes a week off will motivate you to get back on it.

What workouts did you do over the last year? I covered this in depth in my what I do at the gym blog post but over the last year, I did a wide variety of workouts. I started the year smashing out spin classes at David Lloyd, purely because I adore spinning and find it gets harder each session. I know cycling is meant to be amazing for fitness levels too. When I say 'I adore', I mean, I adore the feels afterwards. I always find a spin class challenges me. In March, David Lloyd launched their Blaze classes and I have to say, they have revolutionised my workouts. You basically do strength, HIIT and boxing rounds until you've done a solid 45 or 55 minute class and I find them absolutely brutal. I've always been into strength training but this has made me push my body even more and each week I lift heavier weights which is great. In an ideal world, I'd do 3x Blaze classes per week and 1x spin class for my cardio but in all honesty I just tried to fit in whatever classes I could, when I could. The best thing about my gym membership is I can use it everywhere, whether that's in the London gyms or the Yorkshire gyms. I did go to a lot of events in London in 2018 which meant I got to try some other really cool fitness classes, favourites included reformer pilates, hot yoga and a lift and row class at Core Collective. I also did a class at BXR and tried the Versa Climber which was one of the coolest, high intensity workouts ever. I recently tried MOVE by Market Halls in Fulham too and it's one of the best classes I've done so far this year. I think it's important to try mix your work outs up so your body doesn't get used to it and I think that's why I like classes, they are always different and you're always shocking and challenging your body. I also love classes because from a mental point of view, I can switch off as someone is telling me what to do and I don't have to think about it, I just have to do it. In 2019 I'm hoping to try and get into a routine with classes again.

fabletics leggings

Did you work out when you were on holiday? Sometimes I love to work out when I'm abroad, I think it's so lovely to wake up as the sunrises, head for a run along the beach or sweat in a gym abroad and then go to breakfast but sometimes? The last thing I want to do is move my body and I'd rather sleep. Both are okay, I think it's about listening to your body. I did quite a few 4 week long trips last year and consumed a lot of food, but I was walking a lot (in New York for example, we were walking 25,000 steps per day and didn't actually gym once as we didn't have the energy). If I can fit in 1x workout during a 7 day holiday I feel as if I've done good because holidays are for switching off, and for some people, that means working out but sometimes, that means doing absolutely nothing at all. I guess I'm just not too strict on myself as I work out so hard for the rest of the year that it means I really can just chill when I go to another country. I do like trying different things on holiday, like long walks, yoga, pilates or even volleyball. I also do enjoy trying new workouts abroad, e.g, New York have the best spin classes and who doesn't want to go for a jog along a beautiful beach?! Sometimes it's easier to workout abroad! It was only at the end of the year I started doing hotel room workouts. I had a little bit of spare time and just felt a bit sluggish so I put on a 15 minute workout in my room and I instantly felt energised.

Intensity? I realised this year that working out isn't neccessarily just about hitting the gym, it can be walking to meetings over getting an Uber or going for a stroll in the fresh air with a friend. It doesn't have to be a chore and you don't have to drag yourself out of bed at 6am to do it. Actually, it's more important that you get a good nights sleep rather than force yourself to exercise on 2 hours rest. It is just about moving your body in whatever way suits you. I'm not training for a championship or training to be a bodybuilder so actually, for me, my goals are to maintain and to workout for my mind. I workout for my mind so the last thing I want to do is make myself stressed over missing a workout.

santa Monica beach

Can you really have pizza and abs too? I received quite a worrying message last year, saying I lie about what I eat. When I broke this down, basically I was told that I can't 'possibly' have my body and eat the way I do. Obviously Instagram doesn't show my complete diet but honestly, I really do eat what is on my Instagram feed, and nope, that doesn't mean I eat FiveGuys once a week, or even once a month, just because it made it onto my grid, but I do eat it. I do eat A LOT of pizza when travelling as why wouldn't you in NYC?! and every Friday I have a Chinese but I believe in the 80/20 rule and always have done. When I get my Chinese, I have boiled rice, veggies and spring rolls, I'm just quite mindful of what I choose but then some weeks I'll have the whole shebang. I don't believe in deprivation. If you eat well 80% of the time and don't restrict yourself the other 20% of the time, then it's fine and you wont binge apparently. It works for me anyway. My diet is all about balance and moderation. I'll have healthy breakfasts, healthy lunches and quite often eat out for dinners. I truly believe in balance with my diet. I'm going to be writing some blog posts with more healthy food ideas and more about my diet over the coming months too. I eat a lot of cake but it tends to be homemade cake, with no refined sugar in. I've got pretty good at making lots of delicious, home-made things so that I grab them but then on a weekend, if I want a huge bar of Cadburys, I'll have it. I have to say, I think my diet was the 'worst' it's been in 2018, in terms of eating out more than I ever have, eating more fries than I've ever allowed myself and you know what? My body hasn't changed because I was so consistent with my movement and also, I've been SO happy this year because food isn't just about fuelling our bodies, it's about meeting with friends and having a good time. I don't want to be counting calories when I'm living my life. I don't agree with counting calories, it's just not something I've ever done, I just make sensible choices in the supermarket and look at the amount of sugar and the amount of saturated fat. I think when I was at University in my final year, I was a little too 'clean' on the eating side (okay, apart from the McDonalds I had EVERY SINGLE NIGHT I WENT OUT in my first year) BUT, I didn't eat much sugar in the meantime and honestly, it was tiring being so cautious and I'm MUCH happier now. On weeks where I wasn't working out in 2018, I was a little bit kinder to my body with what I was nourishing it with. But 2018 really made me realise that you don't have to be super strict with your diet to have abs and also, abs aren't the be all and end all and definitely do not signify health. Life really is for living and as long as you're moving and eating well the majority of the time, that's cool. There are so many delicious healthy foods now anyway and so many studies about healthy food fighting disease so that does make me want to try and add more of them into my diet, but it certainly doesn't mean I'll be giving up my Pringles or my butter (FYI I eat the Flora plant vegan butter and it's DELICIOUS).

I'm going to leave you with my mantra: eat better, not less and move more. Life is for living and I totally understand that we want to keep our bodies and minds as healthy as possible but please don't kill yourself at the gym or restrict your diet too much to do that. That's actually detrimental to your health. Listen to your body, if it needs rest, take a week off, or even a month. If you want chocolate, have some chocolate. It's about resting more, using your energy wisely, being grateful that you are able to use your legs in the gym as so many people can't, and not comparing yourself to others online. We all have different goals, different body ideals and different fitness journeys so I hope this may inspire you going into 2019.

You might also like:

Gym and health addiction
what I do at the gym blog post
8 Ways I Motivate Myself To Work Out 

Lots of love, Em x

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