Day 89 of 90: What I Learned (training)

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As I come closer to finishing my 90 days I thought I’d write a quick blog on some of the most important things I’ve learned about training (I’ll do nutrition tommorow and then do results on day 91)

1. Lifting weights helps you lose weight: Muscle is active tissue which helps speed up your metabolic rate which helps you lose weight and keep it off (it’s unfortunate that most women’s magazine ignore weight training – you’ll only get big if your hitting big weights and consuming a few thousand calories – seriously).

2. Lose fat and not muscle: I wish I would have chucked out the standard scales as all weight loss is not all equal, sometimes your losing muscle and water but you need to be losing fat. So get a scale that tells you or do a health assessment at a gym.

3. It’s better to lift BIG than to lift more: Multiple reps with small weights burn fewer calories and produce fewer muscle gains. So for strength hit 1-5 (reps) heavy, for muscle 8-12 (medium) and for endurance 15-failure (below medium but not light) but make sure you get some burn. DO NOT do a set of a 100 reps on 2kg (your better off hitting 3 sets of 10 with 60kg).

4. Rest is important as training: Now I know I’ve been training every day but Sun is light and I will probably just train 5 to 6 days when I’m finished this challenge. Rest, particularly sleep, helps repair your body, I’ve neglected it sometimes.

5. Slow-state cardio is crap: I love cardio so I still do it on Sundays but if you want the fat loss do it on an empty stomach, do it after other training and/or get some high intensity in. So today I hit chin-ups and tri-dips, 29 mins cardio and then 1min sprinting.

6. You don’t need to do abs to get abs: Now I still do them but the bigger muscle groups are much more important though (back, legs, chest)… Having said that my obliques are just showing and I’ll have to shred more fat to get the abs out but there coming, first time in years.

7. Keep it old school: The classics like the bench press, squat, deadlift and the military press are the bread and butter of training. So although a magazine might say that you can get ripped in 2 days by standing on one leg whilst swinging a cat around you head there probably making it up….Probably.

8. Everyone has to start somewhere: I didn’t have a clue about weights but the truth is the internet is filled with great info and if you speak to enough people you will find that they are helpful and willing to talk. If people keep saying the same things then this might be a clue that it’s a truism, watch out for bro-science though.

9. Everyone makes gains if they work hard: When I started training I could do 2 or 3 chin-ups now I can hit 5 sets of 10 (50) unassisted and 12 sets of 10 (120) assisted (on a machine)… That’s after a training session. Miraculous? Maybe, or just persistence and hard work.

10. It’s worth it: Not only have I enjoyed it but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I weigh what I weighed at 18, am sleeping better and eating more.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG

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(Fresh sardines and king prawns with dried chilli, lemon and coriander)

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(I had a good few portions of it with smoked salmon and a avocado salad)

Cutting phase (day 5)

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Day 52 of 90: Dealing with Injuries

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Anyone who has been training for any time will pick up occasional aches and pains, the DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and the odd injury. Since returning to training after a 5 or 6 year gap (9 if we’re talking about serious training) my most serious injury was a sprained wrist (thanks to boxercising) and what I think was a twisted knee (I never did get it checked out).

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In fact, my knee still plays up now and again which is the reason that I was unable to do any cardio from Mon-Fri this week (it was slightly sore so I thought I’d rest it). Now whilst I’d encourage you to go to the doctor/hospital with major injuries, straight away, here’s what I’d advise, in regards to injuries:

1. DO NOT stop training: Ok, use some common sense. If your in a coma you might want to take some time off.  Nonetheless, having seen a guy in a wheelchair maxing out in the gym (he was in today, actually), kind of, makes me think that an injury is a poor excuse to stop training.

2. Adjust your training: As I wasn’t able to complete my treadmill sprints this week I did bodyweight exercises, some cross-training or boxing bag work instead. When I hurt my knee the first time, about 10 months ago, I could barely walk so I would swim (which felt great) and I began weight lifting but if I’ve got any issues I’ll go light or will work something that won’t exasperate my injury but I would never quit!!

3. Adjust your nutrition: If you are unable to train with the same intensity the same diet you were on whilst training hard will make you put on weight so you might want to cut it down a bit. However, you can also adjust your diet to promote healing. So if you have a ripped muscle you want to have a lot of protein in your diet, if it’s a back problem lose any excess weight and a broken bone will require more calcium in your diet (obviously if it’s your lungs you could give up the ciggys – just saying). Just remember to do some research and adjust accordingly.

4. Get your rest in: More sleep is needed to help encourage healing. Obviously that doesn’t mean 18 hours a day but you might want to have a few days when you get up naturally (without an alarm) and try and aim to get to bed at a decent hour.

5. Go see a doctor: If it is a major problem, if it is you’ll probably feel it, don’t just load yourself up with painkillers and deep heat and man’it out. The only reason I didn’t go to a doctor is because the pain began to naturally fade after a week or so.  Nonetheless, because I don’t want you to sue me (like your getting your greasy paws on my protein shakes or trainers) I’d say when in doubt have it checked out.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG (rest/cardio day)
Morning Shake: All-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge with banana and mixed nuts
Snack 1 : 2 kiwis and a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: peach
Lunch: salmon omelette (spinach, peppers, chilli, onion, mushrooms and sun-dried tomato) with salad and hot line pickle

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Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Dinner: egg and salmon salad and hot lime pickle
Snack 1: apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: tuna and egg salad with hot lime pickle and a hot glass of milk

Note to self: today was suppose to be my carb-free day but I forgot and had the porridge…There also seemed to be a lot of fish today, well it was a clean day, I need to mix it up to make sure I’m getting a whole range of nutrients.

Day 38/39 of 90: Jog On

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Ok I admit it I didn’t blog yesterday…Ok AND today, my rest/cardio day, when I was going to drop my carbs and calories down I let my nutrition slip. Anyway, that’s why I hit some back on my rest day but life must go on, hey?

So the purpose of today’s blog is to talk about cardio – well, jogging in particular. Now I know how it works most people either hit weights or do cardio and the lifters among you if you do HIT cardio it’s normally High Intensity Training. Now I’m perfectly aware that too much cardio will rob you of your muscle gains if your not eating enough, that is, which has never really been a problem for me ;-), but here’s why some cardio will do you good peeps.

1. Apart from the fact that it breaks up the monotony of training and the fact that some lifters sound like a chain smoking version of Darth Vader when they walk up the stairs it is cheap and you can do it with minimum kit. Which is brilliant! Particularly when you don’t have access to a gym or when you aim to train daily.

2. It’s great for weight loss, ok resistance training with HIT is way better, but running also strengthens your heart and lungs so that they can work under increased pressure and so you can up the intensity of your HIT.

3. Jogging can also lower your risk of major illnesses (like various cancers and high blood pressure), has been proven to relieve depression, improve your quality of sleep and increase bone density.

4. And, finally, it helps aid your body’s glucose tolerance (how you breakdown sugar) and insulin sensitivity (how you control sugar levels).

So here’s how to do it: stretch (I don’t stretch when using a treadmill as it is less intense than road work) and then start by walking for the first 30-60 seconds (2 mph) and then break into a light jog for a few minutes (4 mph) before beginning to run (6 mph). I normally do 30-45 minutes and then 1 minute of HIT at 11.1 mph (this is great for fat burning and lean muscle building). I then warm down in the reverse order that I warmed up.

I always do my cardio after weights and do not have anything to eat at least a few hours before. This means that when I train I am burning fat and not the nutrients from my food. I’d also aim to do more than 20 minutes per session, otherwise, this form of training (low intensity cardio) is going to be of little value.

YESTERDAY’S FOOD LOG
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge with banana, mixed seeds and goji berries followed by a poached egg
Snack 1: mixed nuts and a sheet of seaweed
Snack 2: a peach
Lunch: lean beef and vegetable chilli with salad
Snack 1: a red apple
Snack 2: a packet of chorizo ham (believe it or not it was the healthiest thing I could find in a local shop on the way to Wales)
Evening shake: whey shake
Dinner: half a roast chicken, with chilli sauce and salad (we went out and I replaced the chips with salad

TODAY’S
Early morning snack: all the biscuits in the hotel room (I was up at 4am finishing an essay from my MA course and got the munchies)
Morning Shake: whey shake
Breakfast: muesli and a cooked breakfast (it was an all you can eat buffet and I’d paid for it…So the more I ate the more I saved)
Lunch: beef carvery
Snack: a toffee sundae (ok I was on a roll…I should have had a beer while I was at it)
Evening Shake/Post Workout: whey shake (I skipped dinner because believe it or not I was full)
Snack: 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

Note: Ok I would normally limit the carbs and healthy fats (the peanut butter I mean) to the first half of the day and try and eliminate them on rest/cardio day, particularly as I was carb-loading on Friday. But today was an unusual day for me because I pigged out.
carb-cycling blog

Day 33 of 90 “Carb-Cycling”

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Over the last 10 years or so carbs have received something of a negative press.  Don’t get me wrong too many carbs, particularly processed carbs like white breads and pastas, can cause weight gain or make weight loss difficult. Nonetheless, carbs are needed to build muscle which will in-turn help burn fat.  While I normally limit my starchy carbs to the first half of the day and then rely upon green carbs (carbs in fruit and veg) I have begun to experiment with carb-cycling the last couple of days.  Basically, what I am doing is trying to increase my carb intake (slightly) on weight training days (Mon-Fri), loading up on the BIG sessions (Saturday) and limiting my carbs on low-training days or cardio days (Sun).  That is why for the last two days I have skipped the porridge oats and have gone for an omelette or a couple of boiled eggs.  You see the first thing to be burned during training is the carbs so if there are no carbs pre-workout (or on cardio days) then it is fat that will be burned and if we introduce carbs (as in oats and I have got plain popcorn which I will add lemon and chilli too and maybe get some brown rice, sweet potato and some wheat bread) after weight training that should go directly to the muscle.  I will, however, still limit my intake but this should help me (or you) reduce my body fat whilst producing more muscle.  Just so you don’t think that this is me using myself as a nutritional guinea pig please check out the links below:

 

11 useful carbs

 

TODAY’S FOOD LOG [no food from 7pm yesterday till after workout]

Morning Shake: Whey

Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms (grill or microwave guys – notice no carbs again this morning)

Snack 1: beef biltong (like jerky) and a handful of walnuts

Snack 2: a banana 

Lunch: tuna salad with mixed seeds and nuts

Snack: red apple

Dinner: 3 fish curry and salad followed by organic Greek yogurt with raspberry and passion fruit

Snack: 3 slices of watermelon

Evening Shake: Whey and milk 

 

 

 

Day 25 of 90 – A Healthy Curry Recipe on Rest Day

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Physically and psychologically training can take is toll. Not only does your body need rest, repair itself and build muscle but a mind which is always in self-denial mode will take the enjoyment out of life and training. So sleep a little extra on your rest day (I mean an hr not a whole day), train a little lighter (walk, jog, swim or do some sport…I just do something different from what I do Mon-Sat) and eat a little ‘better’ (your body needs more fuel on rest days to repair so it’s a great time to have some of what your missing). For this reason I have included a recipe for a healthy beef and vegetable curry I had today.

1. Fry 2 finely chopped onions in a little olive oil or low calorie spray until brown (I didn’t have any so I used spring onions. After this is done I’d fry a finely chopped red pepper too but I’d run out).

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the food chopper is from Pampered Chef

2. Fry 0.5kg of finely chopped beef for 2/3 mins (cutting it small helps keep the cooking time down – don’t overcook beef or it goes tough)

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3. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of low salt tomato paste (a tin of tomatoes will do but I prefer the paste) and your salt and spices.

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A healthy teaspoon of cumin, tumeric, garam masala and paprika.

Salt and chilli to taste (you can add a teaspoon at a time or just chuck it in as the mood takes you like me BUT easy on the salt). HINT: I pre-mix my spices and salt and put them in together (keep them out just cause you might need a little later – I’d leave any modifications to the end).

A healthy tablespoon of minced garlic and ginger (if you use fresh garlic and ginger, put them in after the onions are fried and fry before the spices are added).

4. Cook to boil and then simmer

5. To keep the healthy theme going I added mushrooms, chopped spinach (I used frozen – just deforest it and add), tablespoon of dried fenugreek (a tablespoon), handful of fresh and finely chopped coriander, a tin of garden peas and before it was finished some fresh tomato (they were going soft but they taste great when in curries, especially cherry tomatoes, and so does fresh chilli, sliced garlic or a little lemon juice. Put them in just at the end and then stick a lid on. If you add peas do not keep stirring or they’ll go to mush)

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6. Ok now serve with salad, and whilst I would keep my starchy carbs in the first half of the day, brown rice or what I did low calorie naan bread and a tiny bit of lime pickle. Notice that even though it is a rest day I still keep the portion small. Less and often is better than huge and less often but with all that salad and a desert (half a cup of frozen raspberries) I didn’t need any more.

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As you can see, this is a fantastically tasty meal and while I would not normally go for naan bread (except at lunch and on a rest day) even this is a relatively healthy option compared to the ‘anything goes cheat meal’ that some propose (and the naan was a bargain at 84p for 2 from the co-op).

Today’s Food Log

Breakfast: porridge with mixed seeds and goji berries followed by an all-in-one shake

Snack: beef biltong (it’s like jerky) and a teaspoon of peanut butter

Lunch: curry, diet naan and salad followed by half a cup of frozen raspberries

Snack: plum and apricot

Dinner: tuna salad with chilli followed by a pear and a whey protein shake

*no food after 6pm

Day 23 of 90 – Fitness Classes

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Ok day 23 of recording my training and nutrition log and it seems to be going well although time constraints have meant that I have had to choose the morning gym sessions over the evening fitness classes (I did both in the first 2 weeks and am hoping to pick that up again at the end of August when I’ll have more time on my hands). However, today I have been able to do both – I did boxercise this morning and weights this evening.

Fitness classes, like bodypump (a weights class), boxercise (does what it says on the tin), kettle bells (a weights class) and circuits (it’s in the name dummy) (these are the ones I enjoy but there are loads more), can be a great form of high intensity cardio. That means they get your heart rate pumping and are fantastic way of burning body fat whilst gaining muscle (which is needed for body tone). Believe it or not low intensity cardio, training done at a slow speeds for medium to long periods of time, which seem very popular in the gym, are great for building endurance or stamina but are poor for losing fat or gaining muscle.  Personally, I would avoid LIC unless you are starting out and want to build a foundation, your training for a sport or, like me, you do it on rest days (it’s also good for warming up and cooling down). Instead, I would try out some fitness classes, which can complement gym sessions, help add some variety to your routine or make up the bulk of your training – depending on your goals or training needs.

Food-Log

Breakfast: porridge, mixed seeds and goji berries followed by a poached egg.

Post- Workout: all-in-one shake

Snack 1: beef biltong (it’s like jerky)

Snack 2: 2 small plums and a pear with mixed seeds

Lunch: large chicken breast, cooked spinach and salad

Snack 1: a tangerine with mixed seeds

Snack 2: 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

Dinner: seafood and veg in a oriental sauce

Snack: pineapple and Greek yogurt with mixed seeds and goji berries

Post-Workout: all-in-one shake

*no food after 6pm

Day 18 of 90 (Nutrition and Training Log – Rest Day)

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So instead of taking full rest days I’ve started to go light and incorporate cardio. The only problem is that 8 or 9 months ago I injured my knee, that’s the reason I took up weights, and today I could feel it becoming a little bit sore on the treadmill. That leaves me with a dilemma about how I might proceed because the key to all this training becoming an actual lifestyle is to stay injury free. So here’s my plan.

I’m going to give any running a miss tommorow morning and just stick to weights and swimming. Though it’s fine now the pressure from the water should loosen it up a little. When I pick up the cardio again I will go light, warm-up and down properly (something I don’t do for weights and occasionally skip during cardio – stupid I know) and stretch. That should hopefully do it…in other news, here’s today’s food log.

Breakfast: porridge with coconut, and flaxseed and goji berries with a whey protein shake. (I should have taken my all-in-one but I’m running low).

Snack: tablespoon of peanut butter

Lunch: tuna, mixed vegetable and chilli scrambled eggs with salad with a little raspberry vinegar dressing.

Dinner: low fat Greek yogurt with flaxseed and goji berries and apricot (I went light because dinner was late)

Post-workout: whey protein shake

*no food after 6pm (however, when I’m intermittent fasting I stick to green tea and water tonight I had a hot almond milk. I was still hungry and it was all I could do to stop me pigging out on KFC) (I’ve also got a feeling my protein intake was low today, which isn’t good – I need to watch for this if I want to maintain or gain muscle whilst losing weight).