Let’s talk CONFIDENCE

The thing I like about the word ‘confidence’, is that to almost every single person on the planet it could mean something slightly different. From body confidence, to personality confidence, to occupational confidence; all have different attributes and all have different results. As fitness is obviously a huge part of my life, confidence surrounding body image is the area in which I feel as though I deal in the most. It’s an incredibly tricky subject to discuss on social media, as due to affecting such a large majority of the online population it therefore tends to attract some rather controversial opinions. One of which I believe to be that those who choose to share their fitness progress are often met with phrases such as ‘showing off’ and ‘boasting’.

The idea of shaming those who post these types of pictures both saddens and confuses me. Firstly, any girl, boy, women or man who feels pleased with the progress they have made to both their body and their health surely should not be made to feel discouraged? They should be made to feel congratulated and subsequently full of high hopes to continue their journey. Secondly, social media is FULL of people sharing news about their school grades, university acceptance, new job offer, marriage, kids, a new house; personal things in which they are proud of. So, if this is deemed socially acceptable, with posts like these receiving handfuls of likes & supportive comments from friends and family then why is it not the same for fitness posts?

The reasoning I have for this particular difference is that body confidence is something which EVERYONE struggles with, no matter how confident you may seem on the outside. From children starting high school, to fitness models at the top of the industry, everyone has parts of themselves which they dislike and wish they could change. Therefore, when viewing a friends, colleagues or even a random accounts fitness progress it can be hard to be pleased for them without succumbing to the thoughts inside your head of ‘I wish I was that skinny’ or ‘I wish my legs looked like that’.

However, the picture you are viewing on social media is a post most likely chosen out of 20-30 others, impeccably posed and then edited to the best of the account owner’s ability. So, although some people accuse transformation pictures and gym selfies as being over-confident, the reality is that these pictures have undergone just as much self-scrutiny as a typical Facebook profile picture receives. Although the person is incredibly happy with their current progress in the gym, they still have insecurities surrounding their body and goals they want to achieve.

In my opinion, for every post in which it is clear that the person behind it is proud of something, we should respond with praise and encouragement. Your reception may be the difference in them deciding to continue to pursue the difference they want to make, or giving up.

Screw the Scales

If you follow me on Instagram (paigefitnessuk), then you’ll know that I’ve talked quite a lot recently about my experiences on a lean//slow bulk. Due to a stomach infection last September, followed by training for a half-marathon, I lost a LOT of weight. I didn’t find this out by weighing myself, I found this out by my worried mum noticing how much muscle I’d lost on my legs, followed by a friend at uni, who I hadn’t seen for a while, commenting on the thinness of my arms after a reunion hug. For some people, I understand that these comments might have appeared upsetting, but for me it was exactly what I needed to hear. Because you are looking at yourself everyday, it’s almost impossible for you to see the extent of personal weight loss/weight gain, so sometimes it takes a family member, friend or even a doctor to inform you otherwise.

I have NEVER been the type of girl to weight herself week in/week out, but out of pure interest following both these comments I weighed myself and I was completely shocked. I weighed 51KG, which at the height of 5″7 is scientifically classed on the BMI scale as underweight. I had been following a Paleo based diet, due to ongoing stomach issues, which is perfectly fine, but seeing as I was still weight-training 4/5 times per week I now realise that I was getting absolutely no where near the calories my body needed to a) correctly function and b) repair and look after my muscles. Looking back on some of my ‘What I Eat In A Day’ posts or videos, I’m convinced that on some days I wasn’t even hitting 1200 calories, which is extremely dangerous for someone of my measurements.

So, after a few days of moral panic, where I started to doubt everything to do with my fitness regime/diet/life (shout out to my mum for rearing me back to sanity), I am FINALLY back and feeling content for the first time in just under a year. I’m aiming for around 2300 calories a day, with the minimum always being 2000, and I’m making sure I’m getting heaps of protein and healthy fats. If you were to compare by current regime to a standardised diet, the #iifym is probably the most accurate. However, I’m not obsessing over every gram or losing sleep if I don’t hit my recommended macros, I’m simply loosely tracking to ensure I’m getting the correct nutrients and calories in which my body needs.

I recently did a comparison picture on Instagram which inspired me to write this post. This particular picture gained the most activity out of all my posts, with the important message being that just because your weight has gone up on the scales, does not mean this a negative thing. Within two weeks of eating properly and consequently smashing my workouts, I’ve had several compliments from family and friends on my current physique, but the most obvious thing which has changed about me is my mood. I can’t describe how much happier I am in myself and my body. I’m starting to enjoy food again and even though some days I feel down if my stomachs playing up, I know that the place I’m at now is exactly where I need to be.

How To Effectively Utilise Time Off

For those who are blessed, (or cursed), with having OCD over their daily routine, the thought of time off can be fairly daunting. The idea of relaxing and simply doing nothing is blissful in your mind, yet when it comes down to it you’re on edge, you feel unproductive and you cannot settle. I find that this situation is largely mind over matter, and over the years I have found a few ways to effectively use time off, yet still get the benefits of a well needed break.

Make a list of your goals

A great thing to do on your time off is to make a list of your goals which you want to pursue within the following weeks, months or even years. With your brain out of its usual routine this gives you more space to be able to think about what you ultimately want for yourself. Whether it’s an improvement in your health and fitness, progress in your career or simply to take up a new hobby.

Read, Read, Read

One of the most therapeutic, and beneficial, exercises you can possibly do for your brain is to spend an hour reading somewhere quiet. A novel, a blog, a magazine- it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you are completely engaged with the text and have no room in your head to concern yourself with anything else.

Try something new

I’m not talking skydiving or becoming a vegan overnight, but something as simple as trying a new fitness class, testing out a new recipe or finding a new band or singer you love are all little ways to ensure you’re still feeling productive, but in a more relaxed way.

Revive an old interest

As well as trying something different to your usual routine, spending your time off delving back to something that you previously loved is also a great way to relax. With the stress of working, keeping fit and maintaining a social life there is often little room for anything else. Hunt down your old art supplies, guitar, camera, recipe books, tennis racket and have fun.

Try new products

With the limited timeframe in which you have to get ready on a day to day basis, time off can be a great way to discover and try some amazing new products. Buy some magazines, stalk Instagram, go to a department store and find the items which you have been telling yourself for the past six months that you ‘need to pick up’.

Treat yourself

Above all, the greatest indulgence with having time off is the ability to treat yourself without feeling guilty. You worked hard for this and you deserve it. However, for some this can be a hard task. If you struggle with your weight and you are wary to have a cheat meal or a night out because you might succumb to old habits, then treat yourself another way. Book a massage, buy yourself the staple handbag you’ve always wanted or arrange a weekend away. As long as you’re doing something to make yourself feel good, it doesn’t matter what it is.

What I Eat In A Day And Why

For many people the hardest aspect of losing weight, or toning up, is diet. Once you’ve established a routine, exercise quickly becomes addictive, but there is absolutely nothing addictive about choosing a riveta cracker over a chocolate fudge cake.

At

All.

Both the problem, and the benefit, of fitness social media accounts, is that the pictures of victoria secret model lookalikes posing on a Caribbean beach is enough to make you consider whether you can in fact live off a grape a day. But, if you dedicate some serious scrolling time, you’ll learn that the majority of these girls are actually consuming 2000+ calories a day, alongside exercise, they just know exactly what to eat.

So what should you be eating? I have changed, adapted & tweaked my diet frequently over the last four years depending on my goals and shape. Right now, I’m consuming 2000-2500 calories on days which I train Legs, Glutes & Arms and 2000 calories on a day where I train Abs. I separate my calories into 4 or 5 separate meals, as I find eating little and often gives me the best results, and I ALWAYS ensure I’m eating 5+ fruit and veggies a day (being a newly converted pescatraian helps).

This is a typical meal plan for a weight intensive day at the gym for me. It consists of whole foods, fruit, veggies, protein, carbs & healthy fats which all assist in achieving goals on the outside of your body, and making you feel good on the inside too.

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Pre Workout & Breakfast

  • 6 Strawberries
  • 10 Blueberries
  • 1 Banana
  • 4 tablespoons of ‘Oatly’ Oat Drink
  • 2 tablespoons of Coyo Coconut Yoghurt
  • Grenade Caramel Chaos Protein Bar

Using a blender, blend the strawberries, blueberries, banana, oat drink and yoghurt together. Pour into a bowl and then add the chopped up Grenade bar and any excess fruit. Smoothie bowls are a great way to consume a large majority of your 5 a day, and coupling it with a protein bar before your workout gives you the extra energy you need to smash your workout.

 

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Taken with breakfast

Every morning  I take one Zinc tablet and two Peppermint tablets with breakfast. Zinc helps build immunity as well as maintaining hormonal balance and the growth of your skin, hair and nails. Peppermint tablets assist in relaxing your stomach muscles and encourage sufficient digestion.

http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/holland-barrett-extra-strength-oil-of-peppermint-capsules-200mg-60005010

http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/holland-barrett-high-strength-zinc-tablets-15mg-60005711

 

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Taken after Breakfast (and each meal)

If you suffer with bloating after certain foods, or a big meal, then taking two capsules after eating helps to improve that uncomfortable feeling. Or, if you simply want to aid digestion then these work rapidly in assisting this. I take two after every big meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and then one after my snack.

https://www.philrichardsperformance.co.uk/index.php/super-digestive-enzymes.html

 

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Post Workout & Lunch

  • Tila Coconut Basmati Rice
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Asparagus

This meal takes under 5 minutes to prepare yet it’s filled with complex carbs, healthy fats and a source of veggies. I try to include asparagus with at least two meals a day as it’s a natural diuretic, meaning it’s great at cleansing your digestive system. Substituting salmon for a lean chicken is also a great combination.

 

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Afternoon Snack

  • Narins Oat Crackers
  • 1 Banana
  • 4 scoops of Muscle Food Prutella Hazelnut Spread

This is the perfect snack to have mid-afternoon if you need an extra boost (or to satisfy some sugar cravings). Another one of your five a day ticked off and a great source of protein from the Prutella spread which will continue to assist your muscles throughout the day.

http://www.musclefood.com/prutella-chocolate-hazelnut-spread.html/

 

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Dinner

  • 1/2 cup of Pasta
  • 4 Broccoli Stems
  • 6 Green Beans
  • 2 Stems of Asparague
  • 1/2 cup of Sweetcorn
  • Handle of Mixed Peppers
  • Cod Loin

With my dinner I like to pile on as many veggies as I can, alongside a sufficient carbs and protein hit. This is usually my last source of food during the day, unless I’m particularly hungry and fancy another snack, so I like it to be as filling as possible. Again, substituting the cod with another lean meat is equally as tasty.

This is just an example of one of my week day meal plans. I like to try and mix it up everyday to ensure I still get excited about making and planning food. However, even though I may change the rice to a wholewheat bagel, or substitute pasta for potatoes, I’m still ensuring that I’m consuming good, whole foods, which I enjoy eating and give me the results I want.

Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

On THAT day when everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong, it’s important to think and consider that ever important P word. Pessimist? Pointless? Powerless? Paige? (Alas, no). It is in fact, perspective.

I have recently been involved in a variety of situations in which I’ve forced myself to gain perspective. From nearly suffering heart failure after discovering a dessert I had just eaten contained 60g of sugar, to lying motionless in bed after binge-watching yet another Netflix series, which successfully took over my life. These are small, unimportant things which should never have needed perspective in the first place, but we all have those days.

Aside from these shameful confessions, there is one situation which urgently required me to re-think my perspective, and I think it’s an important one to share. Over the past few months, I have been training for the London Half Marathon in order to raise money for the Institute of Cancer Research. For all the hard core, experienced marathon runners this is, quite literally, a walk (well, run) in the park. But, for a girl whose passion for weight training consequently results in absolutely 0 cardio ability, a 13 mile run is a big deal.

At times, training has been a struggle, but I counteracted this negativity by reminding myself that the pain I was suffering was entirely my choice. So, every time that I’ve felt like my ankle was going to give way, I’ve been tempted to snooze my alarm or the cold temperatures have tried their best to deter me, I’ve forced my mind to gain perspective. I’m choosing to suffer the pain which comes with training but, unlike me, cancer patients do not have a choice in the pain that they endure. This is the thought which I will be carrying throughout the run next weekend.

Whether you need to gain perspective in terms of your fitness, your health, your work ethic or your relationships, it is important to consider it as a whole, rather than individual aspects. If it’s your physical fitness which you want to improve, don’t let this overshadow your relationships, your work ethic or your mental health. I’ve learnt this the hard way, upon where I’ve been so obsessive over my fitness and healthy eating in the past, that my relationships have suffered because I wasn’t letting myself have any down time, cheat days or quite frankly, any fun. Therefore, the perfect word that I’d choose to go with perspective is balance.

How Pescatarian Week Affected My Fitness

Due to having a mixture of both vegetarian and pescatarian close friends, me and my two meat-loving flatmates decided to try and last a week following one of these diets. Due to the amount of weight-based exercise I partake in each week, coupled with training for an upcoming half-marathon, I chose the pescatarian diet; to ensure I was still getting a substantial amount of naturally sourced protein.

I found the week a LOT easier than I expected. I only had one near meltdown, going to Gourmet Burger Kitchen and having to order a bean burger instead of my usual meaty stack, but aside from this, I had no substantial urge to eat meat. I am certain that meal planning immensely assisted my lack of cravings, as I had bought and prepped breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner throughout the week.

The plan was as follows:

Monday-

Exercise: 1hour Body Pump

Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Lunch- Feta Cheese Salad & Asparagus

Snack- Strawberries, Banana, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner- Salmon & Spinach Fishcake, Carrot, Broccoli, Green Beans & Sweet Potato

 

Tuesday-

Exercise: 3K Sprint Run & Ab workout

Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Lunch- Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagel

Snack- Strawberries, Banana, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner- Low Fat Aubergine & Mozzarella Pasta Bake

 

Wednesday-

Exercise: 20 Minute Ab Workout

Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Lunch: Golden Vegetable Rice, Green Beans & Asparagus

Snack: Strawberries, Banana, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner: Veggie Burgers, Tomato, Lettuce, Fresh Ciabatta, Carrot & Broccoli

 

Thursday-

Exercise: 7K Run

Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Lunch: Feta Cheese Salad & Asparagus

Snack: Snack: Strawberries, Banana, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner: Gourmet Burger Kitchens “Californian Bean Burger” with mature cheddar, avocado, smoked chili mayo, crispy onions & relish.

 

Friday-

Exercise: Rest Day

Breakfast: Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Snack: Strawberries, Banana, Grapes, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner: Veggie Lasagne, Carrots, Broccoli, Green Beans & Sweet Potato

 

Saturday-

Exercise: 1hour Body Combat

Breakfast: Breakfast: Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Lunch: Scrambled Egg & Salmon Bagel

Snack: Strawberries, Banana, Grapes, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner: Veggie burgers, Lime & Coriander Rice, Carrots, Broccoli & Green Beans

 

Sunday-

Exercise: 1hour Triple Challenge

Breakfast: Weetabix & Blueberries

Lunch: Lunch: Scrambled Egg & Salmon Bagel

Snack: Strawberries, Banana, Grapes, Raspberries & Activia Low Fat Yoghurt

Dinner: Cod & Parsley Fishcake, Carrots, Broccoli, Sprouts & New Potatoes

 

My breakfasts are usually a tad more exciting than a grainy cereal & some blueberries, but due to meat being a solid source of fibre, I wanted to ensure that I was still getting a regular intake. The same goes for my afternoon snack of fruit and Activia yoghurt, due to training for the half marathon I’m not consuming any processed sugar for just under a month in order to aid my endurance. You could easily supplement this with snacks such as a peanut butter & banana bagel, a low-carb/ high protein bar, oats & fruit, cream cheese & riveta, carrots and humus- the list is endless.

Although I didn’t experience any major cravings, I did notice a difference in my energy levels. Despite, on some nights, getting 9 or 10 hours sleep I was still waking up feeling fatigued, leading to a further decrease in energy as the day progressed. Assuming this was due to a sudden lack of iron (largely found in meats: especially red meat) I started taking iron supplements every morning, which began to help towards the end of the week.

I also noticed a difference in my muscle performance. I was struggling with my usual squatting weight, due to aches and pains from previous workouts (usually healed fairly fast by a large in-take of protein), and my stamina was also suffering with long distance running. However, in terms of mind-set and motivation, I felt great. Whether this was simply due to a sense of sheer determination in not giving in to a Nando’s wrap, or whether my sudden increase in fruit and veg was to blame, who knows? But I enjoyed it.

If I was to follow the diet again, or consider converting to pescy full-time, I would definitely repeat planning meals ahead and taking iron, vitamin and protein supplements. Even though I have just demolished a well-earned beef burger, with 0 regret, I am definitely going to keep including a more varied mixture of veg with my normal diet, as well as Tesco’s Salmon & Spinach fishcakes. Once you’ve had one, you’ll understand.

why you need to visit Lake Garda

Located in Northern Italy between Brescia and Verona this huge lake is home to ten fairly small but intriguing towns. I have previously stayed in both Riva Del Garda, as well as Garda itself. For my third visit in just under 4 years, (a clear indication as to how amazing it is) I was once again staying in Riva. Describing this secluded part of Italy is immensely difficult and more often than not photo’s don’t always do it justice. Picture the biggest area of water you could possible imagine, whilst still being able to see land from every angle, couple it with mountains you can’t see the top of and then add in the most colourful, vibrant and rustic Italian buildings and you get a pretty good idea.

There’s not a single part of the lake which doesn’t leave you thinking “woah, defo insta worthy”, and alongside the endless amounts of pizza, pasta and ice cream your camera roll will soon fill up. The slightly larger towns of Riva, Garda and Sirmonie are fairly commercialised, as they rely heavily on tourism, but nonetheless you still get the ultimate Italian experience if you wonder further into the winding streets. The shopping is second to none with endless rows of boutiques and quirky stores and absolutely no sign of the bigger brands, which was actually quite refreshing. Visiting the other towns from where you’re staying is incredibly easy, each town has a small port with boats coming as frequently as every 20 minutes, so you’ll be able to get a feel for the whole lake and not just your chosen destination.

The majority of the hotels all have pools as despite the lake being one of the most picturesque places I’ve visited there is absolutely no sign of sand on the lakeside, so unfortunately you have to brave a rocky walk into the water. I stayed at the Lido Palace which was stunning from start to finish. Considering the original building dates back to the early 1900’s the hotel is impeccably modern from the rooms to the reception area, to the wellness centre. The gym was amazing, as were the spa and pool (all huge factors for me on holiday), and the food in the main restaurant was unreal.

So, if you’re looking for a different alternative for a holiday rather than your stereotypical Spain and Greece and you look for these eight things in a holiday then you definitely need to visit Lake Garda.

  • Chilled Atmosphere
  • Basically living off the Prezzo menu everyday
  • Unconventional views (not just a beach and the sea)
  • Boat Trips
  • Chatting to locals (they LOVE chatting to anyone)
  • Trying new things
  • Not just lying by a pool holiday
  • Walking round with no specific destination in mind