Gym kit wish list

Never in a million years did I think I'd become that person that goes to the gym - let alone be someone that actually enjoys working out - but recently I've become a bit of a fitness fanatic. So much so, in fact, that I've actually started to enjoy shopping for sportswear.

Of course, your workout is far more important than your workout wardrobe, but I'm a firm believer in the fact that if you look good, you feel pretty good too. You know how some people buy a smaller pair of jeans as a motivation to lose weight? I buy sports bras and crop tops in hopes of slimming down my stomach so that I can swan around the gym without feeling self conscious.

So naturally, when Superdry decided to entice me with / launch their new Superdry Sport range I frantically jotted down all of my favourite pieces, which turned out to be pretty much everything, obviously. I feel like so many brands these days just focus on the way gym gear looks as opposed to how it actually works with you and your body, but Superdry's new gear seems to do it all in terms of both support and style (which - let's be honest - is still pretty important these days). If there was one sports bra that was going to motivate me fitness-wise, it's the snazzy palm tree fella down below. And hey, if I'm going to be picking up one of the pieces, I may as well pick up the whole collections, right!?

WHAT'S ON YOUR FITNESS WISHLIST?


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*This is a collaboration with Superdry. All opinions expressed are all mine, and not that of the brand*

How to lose fat (and eat what you want)

 How to lose weight and fat whilst eating what you want

Now obviously I have to give a big shout out to my semi-decent metabolic rate. I won't deny even for a second that I'm naturally a slim girl, but I do have a wobbly belly. Of course, you guys will never get to see that because - let's face it - an Instagram feed of pretty makeup products and carefully selected selfies mixed with the odd snap of my bloated belly after a binge is not what you guys bargained for. I post photos when I look my best - like most other internet folk. Half the time I don't even look like the me I portray on the internet, and the fact that I'm admitting that will hopefully indicate to you guys that - despite how things might have looked before - I'm being utterly truthful when I say that my belly maybe wasn't/isn't as flat as you might think it is and - more importantly - I'm probably not as healthy as I night look either. But I'm working on it.

Now like most girls my age, I'll admit to trying pretty much every weight loss technique in the book. Low carb diets that leave me hungry, weight loss teas that just make you poop, waist trainers that hurt and restrict breathing. I've tried the healthy, the not so healthy and the downright stupid but - despite it being potentially the most basic method in the book - I'd never really tried calorie counting.

I wish there was a way for me to make the whole calorie counting thing sound more exciting, but I'm just going to have to hope you guys take note of the fact that, hey, I'm not promoting a product and I'm not sponsored to say any of this. It's simply what worked (and what is still working) for me. It's the easier 'diet' I've ever done.

So anyway, the idea of Macro dieting is that you work out how many calories you require per day (using an online Macro calculator) to both function well, whilst working towards your goal, whether that's fat loss or gain, body building, whatever. Everyone varies depending on their age, size, gender, job - all of the above - so I'm not even going to get into the numbers of calories I eat per day, because the number of calories I might have could be vastly different than what you might need for your goals. The idea is to eat as much as you can whilst working towards your goals, and so I've put together some tips (that work) if you're a McDonalds munching maniac like me.

Granted, the title of this blog post either sounds too good to be true, or strangely like one of those spam emails informing you how to get a twenty inch penis in just twenty four hours (which by the way, is in fact the title for an upcoming post). But - believe it or not - I have come across a way to slim down, whilst still being able to scoff pizza and pastries. And no, you don't have to drink any strange tasting teas or work out at the gym ten hours a day (although a few gym sessions here and there does help move things a long a little). All you have to do, is track the number of calories you consume each day.

Now I know what you're thinking. Steph, is that it? You want me to eat a few less calories and I'll apparently turn into some sort of Sports Illustrated model? But I'm not talking about switching up your morning cereal for a bowl of Special K (other cereal brands are available), I'm talking about a complete calorie controlled diet. Pretty boring, right? But hey, remember what I said at the start - you can lose weight, and eat whatever the hell you want. And you can throw in one or two cheat days a week too.

C'mon guys, did you really think I was gonna go all kale salad with a side of avocado on you? Pizza still makes up the majority of my diet - cheat day, or no cheat day.

So what on earth is this pizza fuelled diet that has apparently made me lose weight? Well you may have heard the 'If It Fits Your Macros' slogan cropping up on Instagram in the past few years, accompanied with photos of oiled up men and women tensing at body building shows and fitness expos. It can be kind of daunting. But let me tell you this. If I, the biggest pig in the whole world - can manage this diet, then I'm almost certain you ladies and gents with some for of restraint will kill it. 

See, an average day for me before macro dieting consisted of pastries (yes, plural) for breakfast accompanied with copious amounts of sugary coffee, followed with about four cheese toasties for lunch, a large dominos pizza for dinner with full fat coke and as many sweets as I could humanly fit into my stomach as possible (which is a lot, if you were at all curious).

Let's just say, that diet did not fit my macros.

Weigh your food

Seriously, I promise I'm not crazy. Ollie has been doing this diet for months (and he looks great for it) and every time he whacked out the weighing scales I thought he was being obsessive. Sure, it doesn't matter if you underestimate how much cheese you're having one day. But if you do that for every day of the week, as well as evertthing else you'll eat, you might find yourself scoffing an extra 1000 calories a week without even realising it.  As soon as you know exactly how much of something youre eating, pop it into MyFitnessPal and it'll track exactly how many calories that one serving contains. It'll also save the foods you eat often, so you don't have to keep scanning a piece of bread whenever you eat it. 

 

ENJOY WHAT YOU EAT

Why eat food if you don't enjoy it? I mentioned all of thse diets I've tried (and failed at) before, and the reason they never worked out for me was because I couldn't eat bread, or I wasn't allowed to snack. I don't know about you guys, but when I get told I can't do something, I kind of want to do it even more. The best thing about Macro dieting is that, yeah sure, you do have to stick to a certain number of calories some days, but you can also eat whatever you want within those calories. Obviously you still want to eat as healthy as possible, but when PMT (or the male equivalent) strikes, you can stock up on all the baked goods you want without the guilt.

 

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

Last but absolutely not least is that you need to listen to whatever is going on with your own body, not someone else's. Just because someone else you look up to eats a certain amount of calories a day, doesn't mean you should too. Just because I'm telling you the Macro diet works for me, doesn't mean it'll be something you enjoy doing. If you're hungry, eat. If you're feeling sluggish, make sure you're eating healthily. No matter what, a healthy body is always better than any other type of body - thin, curvy, athletic, whatever. Make sure you're healthy on the inside first, then focus on the outside.

Track your food

How does one track how many calories one is eating per day? One downloads the MyFitnessPal app. It took me a while to do this, but now I do it almost religiously and it's the main thing that has kept me in line with my diet. All you do is simply scan your food (yes, it sounds insane) and/or select it in a search bar and save it. You'll be able to see everything that you've eaten all day for breakfast, lunch, whatever. Like I said, it sounds utterly insane - and it is tedious at first - but it really makes you think about what you're eating. The app also lets you track the amount of nutrients you've had, whilst also warning you if you've eaten a little too much salt or sugar. You'll start to think twice about scoffing those sweets. But hey, if it fits your macros..

 

Skimp out on the sauces

Sauce is like crack to me. In fact, apart from Haribo and pizza, sauce probably makes up the majority of my diet, which is exactly why I'm not going to tell you to get rid of it in your diet. I'd never force you to do such a terrible thing. But, if you do want to cut a few more calories out of your day (and only if!) then be sure to pay attention to how much sauce you're eating. I'm the sort of person that will drench fries in their weight in ketchup. I still do that, but, if I want to be extra good that day I'll skimp out on some of the things I don't 'need'. I mean, I'd much rather eat a few more fries than a mouthful of ketchup. Sauces are just empty (but delicious) calories.

 

Load up on vegetables

Vegetables are seriously, seriously low calorie, and yeah sure they're not always the most interesting things to shove in our gobs but they do full your belly. So from this day forward, I want you all to eat vegetables and just vegetables for the rest of your life. And I'm completely joking. Eat the food you like, but mix it with a side of veg to bulk out your meals a little more and keep you full for longer. If you want pizza, eat pizza. But instead of eating an entire deep pan by yourself, save half for the next day and load up the rest of your plate with salad. FYI: Half a tub of ice cream with a side of salad tastes rubbish.

DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY CRAZY EATING HABITS?


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How to de-stress (and de-bloat!) in sixty seconds

 How to get rid of stress and bloating easily
 How to de-bloat and get rid of stress easily
 Ways to get rid of stress and bloating

I am one of those strange individuals that thrive off of stress. I like lists, I like deadlines and I like overloading myself with work. Even when I was on holiday it took me days to be able to sit down in the sun without thinking about something work-related. Stress is one of those things that creeps its way into our lives without us even realising. Sure, traumatic events cause stress, but you'd be surprised by how much every day life can stress us out as well. And if you think stress just leads to the odd headache and a few aches and pains, you're way off the mark.

A little while ago I met with the lovely Katie Brindle, the creator of the HAYO'U method and the lady who I will forever know as the person who helped me handle my stress. The HAYO'U method is a form of one minute exercises that help to heal the body naturally, whilst de-stressing at the same time. 

THE MORNING EXERCISE (60 SECONDS)

- As soon as you get up, shake your body (you'll look insane) to help dislodge toxins and get your blood flowing. Do this for 15 seconds.

- Next, twist the body as if you were wringing out a sponge. This will help to dissipate the toxins from the body and increase blood flow which will help you improve your digestive function and release tension stored in the body. Do this for 15 seconds. 

- Last but not least, firmly drum on your skin to help get rid of any stubborn toxins in the body. This will also help you wake up your muscles. Do this step for a total of 30 seconds and repeat every morning for the full benefits. It'll help the body over time, but it'll wake you up straight away!

Like most people I don't have the luxury of going out and getting hour long massages and facials every week - nor do I have the time to attend yoga classes multiple times a week to help me unwind. I'd like to, and sometimes I do manage to squeeze the odd session in, but in general I can't quite commit to that sort of, well, commitment. So when Katie told me that her techniques would only take up a minimum of two minutes a day I thought - you know what - that is the sort of thing I can do. And I have been doing it - every single day.

Now, call me crazy, but I've always been a firm believer that we as people can fix a lot of our own ailments, without tablets or doctors appointments. I used to get the worst migraines, and at one point I was so desperate to find a cure that I found myself on the weird corner of Google looking at facial accupressure. I tried it out, and amazingly enough I haven't had a bad migraine since then. So when Katie started explaining the benefits of Chinese Medicine to me during our meeting I was all ears.


THE BREATHING EXERCISE (60 SECONDS)

- Get comfortable (I like to do this in the bath for full relaxation benefits) and take a big breathe in through the nose. Hold it for a few seconds.

- Breathe out through the mouth and engage your stomach - try to imagine yourself forming a 'smile' with your stomach muscles. This will help to engage your PNI (Psychoneuroimmunology) which, long story short, is the interaction between your brand and your immune system.

- Repeat this exercise five times - or more if you can! Doing this will bring more oxygen to the body and will help to release stress in the body. It'll also help to strengthen you against any future stresses!

Don't get me wrong - I'm generally a very healthy person, but recently I've been suffering from really bad bloating that - at one point - resulted in me being unable to move out of bed due to the pain. After talking to Katie it dawned on me that these digestion issues occurred around about the same time my Mum was diagnosed with lung failure. Alongside that, a few other personal issues, plodding through my final year of uni and working alongside, it became clear to me that the bloating was a result of stress, overthinking and worry, not the amount of pastries I was eating (although that probably didn't help).

Bare with me on this one, but, what emotion would you say comes from the heart. Love, right? And what about the lungs, the stomach, the spleen? We often ignore the emotions that effect the rest of our body, but it turns out that - in Chinese Medicine - every major organ is effected by how we feel. And the stomach? You guessed it - that's effected by worrying and overthinking - AKA stress, stress, stress. Did I say stress?

The idea behind HAYO'U is that you treat the problem, not just the symptoms, so instead of just trying to de-bloat I've begun to focus more on my overall stress levels, which in turn has helped me with my bloating. I almost feel guilty for writing this blog post, because all in all I'm simply just telling you guys to breathe - something you do every day. But trust me, it works. It may sound crazy, and you may think that it won't work for you, but if all it takes is a few minutes out of your day then hey, it's worth a shot, right?

In fact, Katie's so certain these rituals will work for you that she's offering them up to you for free. You can check out her tutorials on the side of this post, or you can have a browse on the HAYO'U website if you're feeling extra info-hungry.

WILL YOU BE TRYING OUT THE HAYO'U METHOD?


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*This post is in collaboration with the HAYO'U method, but I genuinely love it!*

Healthy low-carb pizza recipe

 Healthy low carb pizza recipe

No matter how hard I try (and believe me, I've tried) I just can't pretend to like smashed up avocado on toast. I can't pretend that coconut water tastes good and I can't pretend that courgetti is anything like spaghetti. So, I'm not going to try and convince you guys that a low-carb pizza is going to taste like your favourite Dominos dish. It won't. But hey, it's still pizza, and it does taste pretty damn good. And (oh yes, there's more) you can eat two of them without even worrying about your waistline. Maybe even three if you fancy it. Or four. Okay I'm getting carried away here. Enough about my joy of pizza - here's how to make your own..
 

Ingredients

- Tortilla wraps (I prefer wholegrain)
- Canned chopped tomatoes
- Rocket or spinach
- Feta or mozzarella
- Salt and pepper
- And just about any other toppings you fancy!
 

How to do it

Making the whole thing is pretty self explanatory, so here's a very short run down of what to do (and what not to do) when making your fake pizza. Personally I like to grill my pizzas, so be sure to pre-heat the over to a medium setting whilst you're prepping. Lay out your tortilla and spread a few spoonfuls of the chopped tomatoes all across the base. It's tempting, but try not to load up on this too much, as it'll stop your pizza from crisping and you'll just end up with a floppy mess. And no one likes floppy messes. Then, simply load up your ingredients, pop into the over/grill and leave for 3-5 minutes. You'll want the edges to brown ever so slightly, but not burn, so keep checking on it every so often! There's a fine line between nice and crispy and just straight up burnt. Drizzle with your favourite sauce (I'm partial to a bit of American mustard and balsamic vinegar) and start scoffing! Pro tip: If your pizza has turned into a bit of a floppy mess, don't sweat it. Just roll them up and voila, instant pizza roll-ups. Your secret is safe with me.
 

Will you guys be giving this a go at all?

 

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Vegan Bites

When it comes to snacks, if it doesn't have at least forty eight e-numbers then I couldn't be any less interested. I like saturated fats, I like added sugar, and I like preservatives - that's just the way I am. But - despite my love for confectionary I do know that it's probably not the best thing that i could put in my body (and let's face it, it probably won't help me in the ab department), so for the past few weeks I've been experimenting in the kitchen in order to find healthy snacks that are easy to make and - above all - delicious as hell. And these my friends, are just that - delicious as hell.

Now these aren't going to be the sort of snack that I suggest you pick up at every god-given moment, purely because they're made up almost entirely of peanut butter. Instead, these little guys are more of a thing to eat when you're lacking energy or craving something super sweet. It'll feel like you're eating a Reece's cup, but without the guilt. Plus, making  your own snacks makes you feel like a domesticated goddess. And you get to lick the spoon. Bonus.
 

Utensils:

1 medium glass bowl
1 small plate
1 wooden spoon
1 tupperware box
A food processor

 

Ingredients:

3 tbsp peanut butter (or any nut butter)
2 tsp cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 handful dried dates (pitted is best)
2 tbsp raw almonds (whole or crushed)
tsp agave nectar (or any natural sweetener)
3 tsp seeds of choice (I used flax)
1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)

 

Step two:

Add the peanut butter, almonds, cacao powder, seeds and agave nectar to the bowl and combine together.


Step four:

Add the chopped dates to the bowl and combine witht he other ingredients. Add more sweetener or cacao to taste.
 

Step six:

Pour the coconut onto a plate and lightly coat each bite. Pop your bites into the fridge for fifteen minutes to harden, then get scoffing!
 

Step one:

Soak the dates in a jar of water to help soften them and bring out the sweetness. Blend the almonds until they're of a sand-like texture.
 

Step three:

Drain the water from the dates and chop them up into small pieces. The larger the chunks, the more textured your bites will be.


Step five:

The mixture should now have the consistency of thick peanut butter. Roll spoonfuls of the mix between your hands to create spheres.


Et voila! Seriously tasty balls. My favourite time to eat them is right before I head off to a spinning class (yes, I've become one of those people) or when I'm lacking energy throughout the day. They last for about a week or so as long as you store them in an air tight container, but to be honest, I'd be surprised if you hadn't eaten them all in the first forty eight hours..


Will you guys be making these at all? I promise they taste good. Honest!