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.

Weekly Food Order & Healthy Meal Plan

Nothing in this world makes me more excited than the delivery man ringing to say my weekly food shop is here.  Being in university, I find that one big order based on meal plans for each day saves time, money and it prevents (most of the time) snacking on the student union shop’s chocolate aisle.

I usually tend to stock up on staple food cupboard items such as pasta, rice, eggs and any cereal or granola in bulk once a month, therefore my weekly shop mainly consists of fresh food. After following a pescatarian diet for the past month, I am now back to having meat, but I still want to ensure I am getting the same large portions of fruit and vegetables as I was having with the medetarian based diet. Therefore, I have planned my meals around a guideline of 1/4 of protein, 1/4 carbs and 1/2 fruit or veg.

Food Order

  • Eggs
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Koko Dairy Free Milk
  • Actimel Yoghurts
  • New potatoes with herbs
  • Gluten Free Pasta
  • Buckwheat Pancake Mix
  • Wholemeal Ciabatta Rolls
  • Genius Plain Bagels
  • Mixed Salad
  • Asparagus
  • Peppers
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tinned Tuna
  • Minced Meat
  • Cod and Parsley Fishcakes
  • Steak Burgers
  • Tilda Coconut Rice
  • Mixed Carrots and Peas
  • Smoked Salmon Slices
  • Nairns Oat Crackers
  • Roast Chicken Slices
  • Pears
  • Buckwheat Granola

I try to stick to breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner. My meal portions vary depending on whether they’re pre or post workout, so if I’m going to the gym after breakfast I’ll have something small and energy fuelling then if I’m going later in the day I’ll have something bigger and then a smaller lunch.

Using the food order above, my meals this week will consist of:

Breakfast

  • Granola, Yoghurt and Fruit
  • Buckwheat Pancakes and Fruit
  • Salmon & Scrambled Egg Bagel
  • Mushroom and Spinach Omelette

Lunch

  • Sliced Chicken and Salad Ciabatta Roll
  • Tilda Rice, Salmon, Peppers & Asparagus
  • Cod fishcake, Spinach & Salad
  • Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta
  • Sliced Chicken, New Potatoes & Peppers

Afternoon Snack

  • Blueberry, Strawberry & Banana Smoothie
  • Bagel & Prutella Hazelnut Protein Spread
  • Sliced Pear & Coconut Yoghurt
  • Sliced Banana & Honey Oat Crackers

Dinner

  • Low Fat Mince, Peppers, Mushrooms & Low Calorie Tomato Sauce
  • Fishcake, Carrots, Peas & New Potatoes
  • Ciabatta Steak Burger, Carrots, Peas & Salad
  • Salmon, Coconut Rice, Asparagus & Peppers
  • Tuna, Sweetcorn, Pepper & Spinach Pasta

How to get back on track after Christmas

The Christmas period is, without a doubt, one of the hardest times of the year to stick to a fitness and healthy eating regime. With endless meals out, leftover buffets & enough celebration boxes to last you a lifetime, it’s incredibly easy to feel as though you’ve put on some extra weight. However, you can easily get yourself back on track with these key tips.

Do NOT feel guilty 

Sure, it can be slightly depressing looking at the thousands of empty chocolate wrappers but SO WHAT, it’s Christmas! The main thing which prevents people from getting back on track after the festive period is mind-set. Your mind is frantically trying to add up how many calories you’ve consumed over the three cheeseboards, but in reality, a few days eating a little more than usual isn’t going to make you put on an unfathomable amount of weight, just like going to the gym a few times doesn’t make the pounds instantly drop. It’s natural to lose some confidence and motivation when your routine is disrupted, but as soon as you finish your first session you’ll forget why you were even worried.

Take it slow

A crucial mistake is to absolutely smash your first session back in the gym. Ultimately leading to either a serious injury or severely aching muscles, further prolonging getting back to your regime. The best routine to undertake on your first day back is a light cardio session, this will activate the majority of your muscles, without running the risk of a pull or a sprain. Start with a short run or fast walk on the treadmill, around 15-20 minutes on a gradient of 3 or 4, followed by the cross trainer on a low intensity level for 10 minutes, and then cool down with the bike for another 10 minutes.

Plan new goals

A short period away from the gym is a great opportunity to plan new fitness goals. Take some down time to work out where you want to be in the next 3 months, 6 months and this time next year. Try incorporating this tip with a friend or family member by planning a run for charity, or choosing a goal weight for you both to reach by a certain month. This will keep you focused, improve your motivation and provide a lot more fun than working out alone.

Do a cleanse

Unfortunately, a lot of the typical food consumed over Christmas is high in carbs, fat and sugar, therefore a few days cleanse is a great way to re-fuel your body with nutrients and feel a lot better on the inside. There are various juice detoxes available online, but these can often contain harmful ingredients, so the safest way to cleanse is to simply use natural remedies. Start your day with three slices of lemon in hot water, this is a diuretic which aids the reduction of bloating and flushes out any unwanted toxins. Try to consume five portions of vegetables and five portions of fruit per day throughout your cleanse; making them into a soup or a smoothie is a great way to incorporate them all. Have a medium to large sized portion of natural yoghurt per day, it is filled with natural probiotics which help to re-balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut. Drink at least 3-4 litres of room temperature water per day; if the water is too cold this can cause the gut to bloat and produce abdominal pains. Finally, avoid any foods with sugar which isn’t naturally formed. Stay away from chocolate bars, cereals and sweets and, when the cravings kick in, try honey or frozen grapes instead.

Try something new

If you are among the large majority of people who despise the gym, then there are plenty of other ways to keep fit and beat the Christmas blues. Do some research around the area you live and plan some scenic running routes, try a group exercise class, go on regular fast- paced walks with a friend, opt to cycle to school/university/work instead of driving, join the local swimming baths or even buy a cross trainer or treadmill to use at home.