Get Ripped or Die Trying!

Whilst on holiday recently, there was a very large hill that we had to cycle up. Mykey and I probably could have gone most of the way, if not all of the way without a break. My little sister however kept coming out with the same phrase, “I can’t.” I kept telling her that there is no such thing as can’t, that there is try as best as you can. Do you know what? She made it up that 1.5k hill, even if she was grunting like a bodybuilder as the end. (Hey,  who doesn’t man!?) She circuit trained with us most days and practised ballet. Anyway, my little sister is ten years old and vegan as fuck! So what’s your excuse for not exercising?

Sandymouth Road Uphill Stint

 

This morning when you stood at your back door having a cigarette and waiting for the kettle to boil, you could have been doing a high intensity interval session, before jumping in the shower.

That achievement it took you 2 hours to get on your Xbox? You could have run a muddy obstacle race in that time.

The 15 minutes you spent getting the kids and buggy strapped into the car could have been spent walking to your destination instead.

Time is certainly not an excuse. I train 10-15 hours a week, have a full time job, 5 cats, a bunny, a very happy and stable relationship and to top it all off, I quite often have to work away or commute up to 3 hours to my place of work. I FIND WAYS to make time for exercise. The internet is my friend. It’s not unheard of for me to look up some random work out and do it on my bed in my pokey little hotel room at 9 o’clock at night after a hard day at the office.

You can’t afford healthy food? Well that is absolute tosh! A can of kidney beans is 16p, a pack of chopped tomatoes is 34p and a bag of frozen broccoli is £1. Add some chilli powder or some curry powder and you have a very basic, healthy meal that will feed 2/3 people.(I aim to do a budget recipe page soon with challenges set by people who follow my blog with only three ingredients and one spice/herb. WATCH THIS SPACE!)  Also things like bananas, rice and dried beans etc. are dirt cheap. The best time to go to the supermarket for a good deal on fresh fruit and veg is around 6/7pm. This is when they get their first produce deliveries in and start reducing all the produce that goes out of date in the next few days. You can get up to 80% off sometimes. Can’t get there in the evening? Go at 1pm. This is another reduction time. You won’t get as big savings, but you’re still looking at about 40% off. Now food isn’t an excuse either! : P

You think you can’t do it and you lack motivation? Look at me! I was overweight, depressed and a borderline alcoholic. I could never run, lift or really do anything since I hit 18. I jacked all my bad habits in and a couple of days ago I ran a Spartan Race. You CAN do it. Start small and work up to the big stuff. It takes ages, so don’t lose faith and whatever you do, don’t go on some stupid diet like Weight Watchers or Slimming World. They are businesses. They are there to make money out of you when you keep failing and re-joining. My mum has being doing this for the past 30 years. Maybe one day she’ll listen to me. Only 2 in 1000 lose the weight and keep it off with those programmes. It’s about a total lifestyle change. Eat clean and train dirty! Cut out refined carbohydrates, sugar and all processed crap. Eat whole foods. Eat lots of raw food. Drink loads of water. Eat enough food to sustain the amount of exercise you are doing, with a slight deficit and stay that way forever. You’ll go down to your natural bodyweight and you’ll feel better in yourself.

Now I’ve had a good rant, maybe I should actually get to my point. This post is titled, “Get Ripped or Die Trying.” I know I’m strong. I have been for a while. There is plenty of muscle under my 20 something % body fat (can’t remember what it was, but I have a new measurement in a few weeks. I think it was between22 and 24 %.)  just screaming to get out for the world to see. Occasionally in the morning, before hydration you can see my biceps nicely and four of my six pack. (Damn little bit of belly fat that won’t go away!) I need to burn the shit out of that body fat percentage. Here’s how I’m going to do it;

Diet Clean-up

My eating habits have been really clean for a long time now, but they could still do with cleaning up further.  Here’s how:

1)      Alcohol will be severely limited to celebration days. This is as much to do with metabolism as it is to do with empty calorie intake. At the moment I only tend to have a couple of drinks a month. I want that down to birthdays, weddings, New Year and Christmas Day.

2)      Any processed carbohydrates such as pasta and bread etc. will be completely removed and replaced with quinoa, amaranth and wild rice.

3)      I’ll be using fruit for energy and vegetables for repair.

4)      There will be lots more raw food, especially greens.

5)      I will be eating three main meals and two snacks a day. All of them will be vegan wholefoods that are nutrient dense as fuck. Therefore I won’t be monitoring calories anymore. This makes me happy.

Training Clean-up

I’ll be upping the amount and intensity of my training. See below diagram for more information.

Training Scehdule

 

New Goals

The Spartan Race I ran recently has been the pinnacle of my fitness so far. I now have to raise the bar, so I’ve signed up for a Tough Mudder in April. I’ve shifted my training to match and told my personal trainer I want to get absolutely totally 100% on this. I fail at monkey bars currently, so this is a big hurdle for me to start with.

 

What are your goals?

Clean Eating

The below table explains perfectly how I feel about exercise and what has been working for me for about a year now.

 Clean Eating Pyramid

High intensity cardio:

  • Running/sprinting
  • Interval and circuit training
  • Spinning
  • Mountain biking
  • Fast paced swimming

Strength and core training, Weight Lifting and Plyometric Exercise

  • Yoga and Pilates for strength
  • Core exercises like planks, crunches etc.
  • Weight lifting such as bicep curls, squats, pull-ups, dips, bench press etc.
  • Burpees, mountain climbers, ninja jumps and bear crawls etc.

Clean Eating

  • Whole foods and natural foods to be eaten whilst eliminating processed, in packet foods.
  • Whole grains like brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa are great as unrefined carbohydrates. You should avoid all refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white pasta.
  • The more raw fruit and veg you can eat, the better.
  • Lessen your intake of fat, salt and sugar. This becomes easier when you cut out all processed foods.
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, keeping your blood sugar steady. (I like 3 meals with 2 large snacks.)
  • Just drink water, smoothies and homemade juices / not from concentrate juices. (Lots and lots of water.)
  • Don’t eat things which are full of growth hormones, adrenaline, mercury, saturated fat, cholesterol and nasty antibiotics. (Meat, fish, shell fish, poultry, game, dairy, eggs etc etc.)
  • Get active. Not only does it decrease fat, strengthen and build muscle, and help you burn more energy at rest, it keeps your heart, lungs, and bones healthy and strong.

In summary, a plant based clean vegan diet will fuel you through the top two tiers. What you eat is 70% of the effort required. Don’t make it a diet, make it a lifestyle change and never look back.

Here’s a typical 2 day’s food:

  Monday Tuesday

Breakfast

Porridge Blueberry pancakes

Post Workout

Protein shake Protein shake

Snack

Nakd Bar Banana and orange

Lunch

Spiced Eggplant-Lentil Salad with Mango Tofu and broccoli stir-fry with rice noodles

Snack

Banana and peanut butter Baby carrots with hummus

Dinner

Kale, avocado, tomato and courgette salad Bean chilli with cauliflower mash

Please feel free to ask any questions!

Let’s talk about fats baby! Let’s talk about you & me!

Fat gets a really bad rep in the media. Low fat this and low fat that. A  healthy vegan diet is naturally low in fat. We must strive to remember however that fats help in the transportation of certain vitamins around the body, improve skin and hair, insulate and protect your internal organs and especially the fatty acids, help with nervous function and therefore brain power.

If you eat junk food that is laden with fat and do very little exercise, of course you’re going to put on weight. You can also be at risk of heart disease and cancer. However if you eat a small amount of healthy fat each day, you can improve your health, lose/maintain weight and look great.

So what are the fats to avoid?

Chinese takeways or any takeaways for that matter are often deep fried in vegetable oils or lard. An average takeaway can have up to 20 grams of fat. That’s a woman’s entirely RDA. Having a takeaway isn’t forbidden, but it’s probably better to make it more of a rare thing than a regular thing.

Travel Pictures Ltd

100 grams of crisps (a couple of bags)  contains over 30 grams of fat. Don’t even think about going for the low fat versions either. Cut them out altogether. They are nutritionally void, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or stay fit.

Crisps

Fast food burgers and chips are again absolutely full of fat and especially trans and saturated fat which are really bad for your heart and circulatory system.

junk-food

Cakes and sweets are also loaded with unnecessary fat that you don’t need.

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What are good sources of fat then?

Linseed and flaxseed. I put half a teaspoon in a smoothie or on porridge everyday and it doesn’t taste of anything.

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Now this might surprise you, but leafy green vegetables. They don’t provide huge amounts, but they do have enough Omega 3’s to keep you going. I love kale and spinach and I’ll eat it for both lunch and dinner if I can.

green_veggies

Avocados are quite calorific and that’s because they are full of good fats. As long as you don’t eat like 5 a day, you’ll be fine. I generally have about 3 a week and normally in salad, although I do like making guacamole out of them.

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Nuts and especially almonds and hazelnuts. They are at their best when they are unsalted and eaten as a snack instead of a bag of crisps.   hazelnutsimages

Good luck guys and make healthy choices.

 

 

 

What the hell do you do with tofu?

First of all, let’s get something straight: you say it toefu not toffu. Get it? Got it? GOOD! Now we can move on.

I’ve been vegan for 8 years in September and when I first made that step I had no idea what to do with tofu. It was just a big white sloppy mess that I couldn’t get to taste of anything. I had an email from a friend at the weekend saying that it was too soft for him and it was the first time he had cooked with it and that has inspired me to write this post.

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First of all, let us talk about the health benefits of tofu.

  • In 100g there is 17.9g of protein. This makes it a high protein food.
  • It contains isoflavones which can neutralise free radicals i.e. cancer causing particles.
  • Yes tofu does contain phytoestrogen, not oestrogen as the beef industry would have you believe. These phytoestrogens help neutralise the effects of human oestrogen which can cause bone density loss in later life.
  • It’s also full of calcium, manganese, iron, omega3 fats and it’s relatively low in calories and fat or what we would call a lean protein.

Now what can you do to make it super tasty? Here are some ideas:

When my recipe section gets a little larger there will be plenty of tofu recipes. I eat it quite a lot because of the protein vs. fat content. It really helps my training. In the meantime, enjoy and get some tofu down your necks!

beet_tofu_burger tofu kabobs (4)

Where do you get your protein and calcium? *Sigh*

The animal agribusiness giants have certainly been successful in their plans to indoctrinate the general public from the mid-20th century onwards. Nearly everyone I speak to including some vegans, believe that it is hard to get protein and calcium from non-animal sources. This is due to a massive advertising campaign by the meat and dairy industries in newspapers, on television and now on the internet.

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wolverine-got-milk

The funny thing about the image above is that Hugh Jackman employed Brendan Brazier, a well known vegan ultra-marathon champion and nutrition expert to help him slim down the fat and bulk up the muscle for roles such as Wolverine in X-Men and Charlie Kenton in Real Steel. Brendan only promotes a high raw, vegan wholefood diet. Interesting?

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Then you have all the vegan bodybuilders and sports people who have more muscle than the average non-vegan Joe could ever dream of. How do you explain that?

It’s easy really. Protein and calcium can be found in a variety of foods. If you have a varied and healthy diet, there is no reason you won’t be meeting your daily recommended intake whatsoever. Calcium deficiency is quite rare in the wealthy nations of Europe and America and protein deficiency does not even have a medical term anywhere in the world because it’s practically impossible. Everything has some protein in, even potatoes.

There is evidence to suggest that over consumption of meat and dairy can lead to bowel cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and even early onset dementia. Also there is a positive correlation between the consumption of dairy products and the incidence of osteoporosis in countries that consume it as a staple part of their diets. (Books such as The China Study and Diet For A New America go into to more detail, but I wanted to keep the health implications of animal product consumption brief.) Sadly this isn’t common knowledge because of the influence animal agribusiness has on all forms of media and the government. (Remember learning about protein at school?)

Let’s look at some protein rich foods to start with:

Beans & Legumes

Beans

Beansprouts

Sprouts

Tofu

Can-I-give-my-baby-tofu

Wholegrains

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Nuts & Seeds

sprouted-nuts-seeds

Hummus

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Now let’s look at some calcium rich foods:

Kale

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Oranges

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Soya Milk

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Oats

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Spinach

Spinach

Dried figs

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The above protein and calcium rich foods are just some examples of vegan food that contains both of these important building blocks. There is a huge variety across the board to suit all tastes.

Here is a tasty brunch that is rich in protein and calcium. Spinach, carrot and onion salad, raw orange peppers, soy yoghurt and mint dressing, baked beans and scrambled tofu.

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So there you have it!

Sprouting is EPIC!

Yes that’s right. Whether it’s sprouting biceps or a beard….. Oh no wait a second. This is a food post and I’m supposed to be talking about sprouting beans and seeds. *Whoops*

A little while ago I brought a sprouting tray and I never really knew what to do with it. I asked my Facebook friends and got some sound advice, so I got to work. I covered both trays in chic peas, quinoa and other random beans and stuff I had in my end of the world food supply cupboard. Then I sprinkled with a little bit of cold water every day for four days.

The sprouts started to appear and I was over the moon. I even did a little celebratory dance know as, “the bum dance.” Maybe one day I’ll blog about that too.

IMG-20130124-WA0006 IMG-20130124-WA0007

 

 

Anyway, I decided to eat make some part raw food with this deliciousness.

Enter spring greens, soy sauce roasted broccoli, b12 fortified nutritional yeast, raw carrots and a big load of sprouted beans and seeds. Very tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. GET SOME!

 

aaa

Kettlebells For Beginners

I’ve noticed lately that there seems to be a surge in the availability of them in gyms and separate kettlebell classes such as kettlercise.  I’ve been using kettlebells for about year now with great results so I thought I’d share some beginners techniques with you because a lot of people have no idea what to do with them. Below are six easy exercises that you can do every day with kettlebells.

(Please note that these are just random internet images I have borrowed to emphasise my point and demonstrate exercises to you. Also, I’m not a qualified fitness instructor. Just a heads up. )

1)      The Dead Lift Snatch.

30 reps and a low weight to start with.

kettlebell1

2)      Goblet Squats.

20 reps and a medium weight to start with. (Only go as low as you feel you can manage.)

gobletsquat

3)      Lunges.

15 reps on each leg with a light weight to start with.

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4)      Two arm swing.

20 reps on the lowest weight possible to start with.

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5)      Pyramid goblet squats. (Going down for one and coming up. Going down for two and coming up until you reach 12 and then work your way back down to 1) Use a light to medium weight to start with.

6)      Pyramid lunges. (As above with a light weight to start with.)

Things to remember:

  • Keep your core tight.
  • Do not lift above your weight when starting out. You don’t want to fall over and a lot of these exercises require balance.
  • Take it slow and easy until you master the movements.

Nice and simple! What are you waiting for?

My lifestyle change story

When I was six years old, I was struck down by phenomena. It was caught late and I was really sick. I had a good couple of months off of school. It was so bad that it significantly reduced my lung capacity and left me suffering chronic chest infections every year around the beginning of autumn. As I grew older, I slowed my metabolism significantly with the introduction of alcohol from about the age of 15. By the time I was 24 my diet was mainly ready meals, fake meats and pasta based dishes and I was a good 4 stone over weight. Yet now at 27 I am running 5k races, lifting more weight than ever before and I’ve reached an optimal BMI, if you believe in such things.

IMAG0153

 

So how did I do it? Let’s rewind to January 2010. I had just started a relationship with the person who would become my ex-partner in 2012. She made me very happy, but I was still suffering from some pretty nasty depression. After taking anti-depressants for a while and not seeing any notable improvement, I decided that my diet needed to be looked at. I brought Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet book and followed it to the letter. I found that I was losing weight, I was less anxious and all the digestive stress that I had been experiencing dissipated. The Thrive Diet puts emphasis on vegan whole foods, raw foods and non-processed foods. It focuses on creating an alkaline environment in your blood, so that your body can function at it’s optimum state.

 

porridgewithberries_n_lg

So the diet started to make me feel better about myself, but it didn’t solve all of my problems. I’d still get really low in the evenings and in the mornings. I was working between 60 and 80 hours a week at the time, so didn’t think I could fit any exercise in. It seems however, that if you want it badly enough, you can fit anything into your daily routine. I started to go to the gym every other day for about 2 hours in the evening. I lost a lot more weight and got up to a reasonable standard of fitness, but what did I do? I let it all slip in the autumn of 2011 when I got one of my horrendous chest infections. I started eating rubbish food and exercising maybe once a week. Why? Well because my depression and anxiety took over every function of my life. I had a lot of time off sick from work and my friends suffered from me being in a state nearly all of the time. Now I look back on that time, perhaps subconsciously I knew that my partner was falling out of love with me and I couldn’t cope with it.

scared_cat_cartoon_kitty_frightened_of_fat_lady_from_behind-s368x449-56775

 

I managed to get a grip again sometime around March 2012 and started to eat properly and go to the gym a few times a week. Then in May my partner left and my whole life turned to shit….again. I spent two months drunk every day. My depression literally ate me alive. I’m not really sure what clicked in me because I certainly wasn’t over it, but in August I picked myself up off of the floor. Those of you who came to Vegan Camp will remember me getting up at 6am every day and working out in the mud. That was the start of my journey.

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When I got back from camp, I decided things needed to change. I went back to following Thrive religiously. I started working out every single weekday morning and going to a class every single weekday evening. The weight started to fall off of me and the muscle started to become more defined. My personal trainer, Dave really helped me during this time. He had suffered a personal tragedy himself, but he was always there to listen to me and filter my anger and aggression into hitting personal best upon personal best.

 

ThriveDiet

So here I am at 70.6kg and 25% body fat. I still have a little more body fat to lose to get the definition I truly desire, but I did it and you know what? In my adult life, this is one of two things that I’m extremely proud of. (The first being, buying my first flat at 23 and my 2nd flat at 25.)

I know you think you can’t do it, but you really can. I over came reduced lung capacity, depression and a rather serious breakup. I didn’t even have a chest infection in 2012 for the first time since I was 6. Here’s something to make you think: my fitness regime only takes up 8% of my day and I achieved this.

 

pROGRESS

C.R.A.P!

Let’s talk about C.R.A.P!

Carbonated Junk

Refined Sugars

Artificial Shit

Processed Foods

One of the first things you can do is cut all the crap out of your diet. It’s a really small change and it makes a huge difference to how you feel and how you look.

Carbonated Junk

By this I mean fizzy drinks and yes, all of them:  Waters, colas, lemonades and other carbonated juices.

By cutting out the average 2 fizzy drinks a day (UK), you can save yourself up to 400 calories and you may be able to reduce the chances of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndromes and cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure amongst others.

photolibrary_rm_photo_of_energy_drinks

What should I drink instead?

    • Herbal tea – This will give you a natural boost without caffeine and counts towards your 8 glasses of water a day.
    • Water – Will hydrate you, keep you focused and help keep hunger at bay.
    • Not from concentrate juices – As an occasional treat these juices are full of vitamins and minerals.

water-bottle

Refined Sugars

White sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and ALL artificial sweeteners are included here.

Studies suggest that because refined sugar is basically an empty calorie like alcohol, it should be consumed in moderation. Personally I’d get rid of it all together and here’s why:

  • It leaches minerals and vitamins from the body.
  • It is tough on the digestive system, often causing bloating and discomfort.
  • It is linked to type two diabetes.
  • It creates an acid environment in the blood stream, which will give prevalence to certain types of cancer. It also means the body is over working to try and alkalise the blood. (Cancer cannot grow in alkaline environments. Read acidosis theory.)

Scoop of Sugar

But I really like sweet things!

That’s ok. There are loads of ways to sweeten your food without adding refined sugar. Some natural sweeteners include maple syrup, molasses, stevia and agave. I like to add fruit to sweeten things. For example on my porridge I’ll add a chopped banana and some raisins. Fruit sugars will also give you more quickly available energy. I love to have a banana smoothie before a good workout.

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Artificial Shit

I’m really talking about sweeteners  and food flavourings here, with the most notable being aspartame. This is the sweetener used in squash and diet drinks. It has been known to cause immediate effects such as headaches, mental confusion, dizziness and seizures. It also forms harmful chemicals in the body such as formaldehyde which leads to metabolic acidosis and can cause kidney failure and blindness as well as creating an environment where cancer cells can thrive.

My advice? Stay well clear, always and forever.

aspartame24

Processed Foods

Any food which has been canned, boxed or bagged is classified as processed food. For example an apple is not a processed food, but an apple pie is.

Processed foods are bad for your health because they often contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar. Over consumption can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and cancer.

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fruit and vegetable variety

 

 

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I’d say treat yourself to occasional (once a month) processed treat, but in the meantime try and make things from scratch. See what you think of this kidney bean burger:

Ingredients:

  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • Two large handfuls of cooked kidney beans
  • 5 cloves of peeled garlic

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients in a food processor
  • Lightly fry in olive oil

Serve with a large, fresh salad.

So there we have it. Cut the C.R.A.P and start your journey towards a healthier you.