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Weight Training For Beginners #2ย 

So this is the second part to the basic guide to weight training for beginners (first part here). Previously I covered the basics with regards to the different forms of physical activity.. now for the part you have all been waiting for, ladies and gents I present to you the FOOD FILES!!!!

Yes this is where we get a closer munch into the world of all the glorious food we need to fuel our hard-working bodies.

Like with my previous post, there is just too much to cover in so little time so I will cover the basics here and then posts to come will drip feed you, literally, bitsize information (hehe so smug at my literary genious at the moment ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

So before we go any further, one thing that I definitely didn’t understand before I started weight training was that you need to view your body as a car. We put petrol in it to get from A to B and if we don’t it won’t start. Sometimes when a car gets old or it has been used a lot it might end up being a bit less efficient so we need to invest some time in fixing a particular part. The metaphor is easy guys – give yo body some TLC!!! Feed it. Nourish it. Love it. This video is so worth sharing (yes yes I do love a TedTalks clip!) It perfectly outlines why we MUST NOT starve our bodies and why we must give it the food it needs and deserves.

So what’s our petrol!? Quite broadly it consists of 3 macronutrients or ‘macros’ as you might hear them being refered to! Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats. Within these Macro groups we get micronutrients and these are minerals and vitamins that are essential to our bodies functioning: iron, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, B, C, D etc etc.

 

Carbohydrates

You may traditionally think of Carbs when you imagine cake, white pasta, white bread, crisps, chips all those things that appear to be oh so gluttonous and ‘bad’ for you…Lets just stop right there! If there is anything that you take away from this post, it is that CARBS ARE FRIENDS – DO NOT CUT THEM OUT! That having been said, does that mean you can go and eat cake, biscuits and chocolate and nothing else all day? Obviously not, as you still need a balance of proteins and fats.  But does it mean you can eat a good portion of healthy carbs to fuel your body? YES!

Welcome to what I call the rainbow test! When you look at your plate and all you see is ’50 shades of Carbs’ or in other words variants of brown, yellow, orange and nothing else, then there prrroobbaaalllyyy isn’t the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients on your plate. That’s where ‘carbs’ get their fried name from! But carbs are in fact so essential to a Plant-Based diet: fruits, veggies, legumes, beans, pulses, whole grains, oats all fall under this bracket and should make up the majority of your diet. So pile on those healthy carbs and eat the rainbow!

Carbs are the main energy source for the body and are made up of chains of smaller units of sugar that can be easily broken down. This is why when we are feeling suppperrr hungry we want to grab that big pizza or have that big plate of pasta, because our energy levels are so depleted that our bodies are screaming for the quickest source of energy it can find. Carbs also contain plenty of fibre and nutrients. Fibre cannot be digested by the body so plays a vital role in helping to cleanse our gut!

 

Protein

Protein is of course essential for building muscle. Amino acids are the building blocks and are needed by the human body for growth and maintenance. It is a common misconception that vegans ‘lack protein’. Put it this way, humans eat beef for protein, what do cows eat? GRASS! Humans eat chicken for protein, what do chickens eat? CORN! I say no more! Here is another little clip if you are interested in comparing how meat consumption has drastically increased over the last few decades. No I’m not saying you have to suddenly turn Vegan, but perhaps think about cutting back a little.

Plant protein can be found in high quantity in the following:

  • Beans and Legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils etc)
  • Grains (Brown Rice)
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Soya
  • Kale
  • Nuts (including nut butter)

Plant Protein supplements are also great for boosting protein intake. Some of my favourite brands of Vegan Protein Powders are Purition and Tropeaka. Purition have 3 Vegan flavours: Strawberry, Vanilla and Chocolate. I blend 40g with almond milk and a frozen banana for a delicious smoothie. Purition is the only brand of Vegan Protein Powders out there that is entirely made up of natural ingredients. You therefore know that what your putting into your body is top quality!

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Tropeaka I use in my smoothie bowls, it is soo creamy and smooth! Just blend up 30g with 200g of frozen bananas and a dash of almond milk.

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MyProtein is also good for their Vanilla Vegan Blend which I use in my overnight oats and protein pancakes (but wouldn’t use it in a shake!).

 

Fats

Ah fats! I naturally have a diet very high in fat as I just LOVE THEM! Avocados, Dates, Hummous, Tahini yum yum YUM! Fats are crucial for the brains functioning which is my excuse for eating so much nut butter! If you haven’t seen this video yet then make sure you do as it outlines the importance of the essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the functioning of the brain.

Healthy fats can be found in:

  • Nuts  (including nut butter)
  • Dates
  • Avocados
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Oils
  • Tahini
  • Hummous

It is important to remember though that a food item will often comprise of all macronutrient groups. Take an avocado for example which is made up of about 20% carbs, 5% protein and 75% fat! Worried you are spending too much on smashed avo brunches? Don’t be! This superfood demonstrates the perfect balance of all macronutrient groups as well as containing many micronutrients.

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So how much should you be getting of each macronutrient to maintain a weight lighting lifestyle as a Vegan? Ah good question! Quite frankly, it is really completely dependent upon YOU and how YOU feel. I am not experienced enough at the moment to say that one ratio completely works for me or not, I am still experimenting. The fitness industry is overwhelmed with products that promote protein! But it is debatable how much we actually need. Carnivores may have a macro split of 40/30/30 (protein, carbs, fats). That percentage of protein is perhaps too high for a Vegan.

I try and follow a 60/20/20 split but quite honestly some days it has formed into 40/30/30 as my fats are normally quite high as I liiiiveeeee for nut butters ๐Ÿ™‚ Do i particualrly care? No! The most important thing is experimenting and playing around with what suits your lifestyle and your training regime.

What I do suggest is going here to give you a rough idea of what your Macro split could look like. I also use the MyFitnessPal app which is great for tracking Macros. Again, take this all with a pinch of salt, it is just a rough guide and shouldn’t be gospel!

Remember (*disclaimer alert*) I am not a qualified nutritionist nor personal trainer and am simply documenting my experience as a beginner vegan weightlifter. I like to workout and LOVE cake ๐Ÿ™‚

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Avo Lovely Day 27x27

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Where do I find the time?

Ah good question! If I had a shiny golden coin for every time someone asked me ‘Where do you find the time to do X!?’ I would be a very rich bunny. ย For those of you who know me well, I most certainly do not have a problem filling my time. I like to discover new places, meet up with friends, stay active, make things, my mind runs at 100mph with ideas of new recipes I can try out. I am constantly in drive mode.

To add a bit of market colour I also have a full time job in financial services. I leave my home between 6:15-6:45 daily and return at 7:30-8pm. I also tutor part time to keep up my language skills and try to get to the gym/workout 5-6 times a week. I always cook and take in my own lunch everyday and don’t live with my parents anymore so have to do all the house chores as well – boo ๐Ÿ™ And of course other hobbies include blogging, vlogging, baking and cooking!

So where do I find the time? Well, I think the better question should be where do I make the time? I love to use the analogy of juggling. If you want to learn to juggle you may start off with practicing throwing and catching one ball in the air to get the hang of the hand-eye coordination. That is great buuttt you aren’t really going to become a proficient juggler if you never move on to two balls. You then move on to two, get comfortable and want to add a third. This is where things get trickier. You have to focus your concentration of three balls at once and you don’t want to let one fall. During this moment in our lives we feel great, we feel like we have a challenge and it is something that is manageable. We can add more events/hobbies/commitments into our lives at this stage that will stretch us a little, like trying to throw the balls that tiny bit higher or we may even want to add a fourth ball. But, what we don’t want to do is end up adding a fourth, not being able to catch it and then subsequently letting all the other balls drop because our attention was distracted. This is me trying to be all airy fairy and say if you cram too much sh*t into your life you will burn out and then you won’t be able to do diddly squat!

You know you and so you do YOU.ย 

Everyone is different. I, for example, don’t sleep for as long as other people so I gain a lot of time there. I average about 6 hours per night during the week and perhaps 6 1/2 – 7 hours at the weekend. I don’t feel tired or grumpy, my body can just naturally cope with that amount of sleep. That having been said, I also don’t drink and never go ‘out out’ so I am in bed by 10:30-11pm every night. I also don’t watch muuuuch TV, I like to watch films but I am not one for reality TV (I did just finish Stranger Things though and oh my gosh that was worth it and I miss it already ๐Ÿ™ ).

I am a firm believer in people being able to achieve anything theyย want, but really want. If we put our minds to it we can get/have what ever we want. Because we will either find a way or we’ll make our own way there. I know that if I want to get fit and stronger this year I need to make sure (and the key thing – I WANT to make sure) that I find time to do my HIIT sessions or get into the gym. This sometimes means waking up at 5am to get to the gym before I leave the house to go to work or means that I need to wake up at 7:30am on a Sunday to get to the gym and back before I start tutoring. These are all sacrifices I have to make.

There has to be a balance though. I know that at the moment I cannot juggle anymore balls and in fact I really need to consider at the moment the possibility of losing one before I drop them all.

Most importantly you need to think about what it is that is making you happy at this moment of time in your life. Or what isn’t making you happy that you need to change. If you feel a lack of achievement in your life, add in some goals to hit. If you feel exhausted take some time out and chuck away a few balls. If you really feel that you want to do something but ‘can’t find the time’ start prioritising your life. Keep a tracker diary for a week. Make note of how many hours you spend watching TV, or in the Pub or sleeping or cooking or out with friends instead of with your other-half (or vice versa!), find where you need to balance your time. Our lives can be thought of as trying to balance the books, our assets and liabilities need to be balanced. We can’t always give and not get anything back in return. The areas of life that drain us need to be balanced with those that fulfil us. I do feel physically exhausted sometimes at the end of a week but I make sure I have my moments of comfort. At the moment this is quite bizarrely a coronation chickpea sandwich smothered in chutney with a hot cup of tea followed by some dark chocolate! :L I know its weird but I have put the coronation chickpea recipe below in case you are also a weird specimen like me and view this as ‘comfort food’!

Recipe –> 1/2 can chickpeas washed and drained smashed with, 1 tbsp of raisins, 2 tsps of tumeric, 2 tsps of gram masala, 1 tsp of ginger, 1 tbsp of coconut yogurt and 2 tbsps of almond milk. Put in between two slices of wholemeal seeded bread smothered in caramelised onion chutney!

So don’t worry no one is perfect. Yes I do a lot, but there is also a lot I don’t do. After all, I am the boring Vegan who doesn’t drink… well I like a mocktail or two ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

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Avo Lovely Day 27x27

Nat x

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Weight Training For Beginners #1ย 

So as alluded to in my previous posts and by My Fitness Journey videos on my YouTube channel I have spent the last two months adopting a weight training workout routine as opposed to one that is purely cardio based. I know I know what you are thinking, why would someone who is 5ft 1 (and a half…dont forget that half an inch!) want to start lifting heavy weights and get stocky!? There are many reasons for this and many myths that I would like to expel!

Firstly, weight training does not make you stocky and no that is not my aim. What weight training does do is make you stronger and build muscle mass. My aim for 2018 is to get lean which means building more muscle and losing excess body fat. This is very different to the ever sought after look of being slim or skinny. I have been there, I have run marathons, I have been ultra fit, or so I thought. During this period of my life I was what I like to call Skinny Fat!

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I was very small, inbetween a UK size 4 and 6! I was obsessed with cardio thinking this was making me healthy. Yet, my fingers would still get lost in some belly fat, I wasn’t toned or lean, I was squishy. If you squeezed me too much I would have broken. I was kind of like a sponge, so fragile.

This is where we come onto the differences between Cardio and Weight Training. Lets start with the different forms of cardio. Contra to popular belief, Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS) on its own promotes fat retension. Unfortunately the bad kind – visceral fat that is stored around belly area to protect our internal organs. Why would the world be so cruel? Well basically this is because whilst LISS it is excellent at burning fat, your body is intuitive enough to retain a certain percentage in anticipation for future workouts. If you run everyday of the week your body will quickly workout that it needs stored energy in the form of fat to be able to cope (not scientifically explained but you get the gist).

We now move on to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts are alternate periods of intensive moments, ones that raise your heart rate pretty much to it’s max, and short periods of rest. For example, 30 seconds of uphill sprints and 30 seconds rest, repeated for 10 minutes. This type of workout constantly raises and lowers your heart rate promoting increased fat burn. Basically you work harder not longer. Sounds good right!? Ha wait until you try a HIIT session!

You may not believe me until you hear some of the technical sciency stuff…so how does this all work?ย Studies show that HIITย improves insulin sensitivityย by anywhere from 23-58%. This is crucial because insulin sensitivityย helps to increase fat loss.ย Additionally, unlike LISS, HIIT promotes increased calorie expenditure post workout otherwise known asย Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (E.P.O.C). Dr. Len Kravitz has noted that after a HIIT session, โ€œoxygen consumption and caloric expenditure remain elevated as the working muscle cells restore physiological and metabolic factors in the cell to pre-exercise levels. This translates into higher and longer post-exercise caloric burn.โ€ There are many studies that confirm the above so have a search for them.

Weight Training has also been proven to increase E.P.O.C. So you can go to the gym train those muscles, get your heart working with some HIIT and your body will be rapidly burning calories all day. Unfortunately with LISS you immediately stop benefiting from fat burn when you stop working out.

So how does Weight Training mirror the effects of HITT? Try squatting or bench pressing your max weight (at the moment mine is 60kg for squats and 25kg for bench) and you will feel your heart pounding. For those who are complete beginners weight training is broken down into Reps and Sets. A typical workout will usually consist of 3 sets of 12 reps per exercise (ish!). This however completely depends on the Weight you are lifitng and the exercise. In between sets you will have a rest hence the mirroring of HIIT.

Weight Training will of course build muscle mass. The more muscle you have the more energy your body will use to fuel those muscles and hence the greater your resting rate of calorie consumption will become! Sschimples ๐Ÿ™‚

So these are just some of the benefits/differences between the different types of workouts. I will be covering food intake in my next post as this is as, if not more, important than our workouts.

But for now, the optimum workout routine is a combination of the above. Just doing LISS will NOT build muscle or get you lean. To see the increased benefits of fat burn from LISS you will always need to increase the length at which you are training and no one got time for that na na na!

Just doing HIIT will burn fat but won’t see you getting stronger and toned.

Just doing Weight Trainning will get you stronger but not necessarily leaner.

Therefore aim for a workout plan that combines all of the above and works for you!

Next up comes the exciting part about all the food you will need to eat to ensure you are seeing the benefits of this training!

Until then you fit folk!

Nat x

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