Slendertone Connect Abs belt – Product review

slendertoneFirst thoughts:

When Slendertone contacted me about reviewing one of their ab belts, I was initially very skeptical. I have always thought these sort of products were a bit of a gimmick, but after doing some research I saw that there’s actually a lot of good reviews out there for them and decided there was no harm in trying one out myself. As the saying goes ‘be firm about your goals and flexible about your methods’.

I am going to do a weekly log on how I get on with my belt, and I have committed myself to using it for 30 minutes 5 days a week.This version of the well known belt, the Slendertone connect, comes with bluetooth connectivity and is compatible with a really cool app that I have downloaded onto my iphone. The app allows you to control the belt remotely as well as tracks your progress.

When I opened the app I set my activity level as ‘very active’…must have been feeling pretty full of myself that day, but anyway, and I chose the ‘fitness’ program. The app also asked you to pick your motivation, here I chose ‘to strengthen my core’ as that was actually one of my goals for 2017, which prompted Slendertone to contact me.

Week 1:

After a few slightly scary sticky moments getting the gel pads fixed right, I got the belt on and opened up the app on my phone. It was so simple to connect and I love that you are able to change the intensity simply on the app.

The program I selected does tell me how many days and minutes they recommend I wear the belt, however I didn’t see anything about recommended intensity to start on. I suppose everyone is different and its a bit of trial and error. I went for 40 to start with which I felt was a level where I was feeling something going on, but could cope with the contractions and it wasn’t too intense, letting me get used to the sensation.

It is a bit hard to get used to initially, especially when the sensations change. It actually had me giggling at one point because the sensations were so strange, but after a few contractions you get used to the new movement pattern.

Over the week I took the intensity up to 60 then back down to 50. By the end of the week my abs, especially my obliques are definitely feeling like I have had an ab workout, although I don’t, and wouldn’t expect to see any real change in definition just yet.

I will report back next week and let you know how I’m getting on.

Week 2:

I’ve found it slightly harder this week to get my 5 sessions in, hopefully by next week I will get into more of a routine. I would say its probably best to pick a set time and commit to that as when you use it. I have discovered this week that the app actually lets you set reminders, how fantastic is that! Its certainly not something that is difficult to find time to do, however some days with work, the gym, and everything else on top its easy to only remember laid in bed late at night. I have started wearing mine when I cook dinner, as I find that the belt feels more comfortable to wear and is less intrusive when I am standing as opposed to sitting down.

Looking more at the app it has something called fit points, and a weekly target. I haven’t quite worked out what they are yet or what they mean, but its nice to see the numbers going up. The app also gives you the stats for each session showing your max intensity. I have stuck to 60 this week, but have been consistent with it, I plan on trying to up that next week. It is possible to change the intensity level mid tone, but I haven’t played around with that much yet.

All in all its been a good week. My abs have been aching like they would had I done an ab workout, so I do feel like something is going on under there, however I haven’t and wouldn’t expect to see any visible results just yet.

Reporting back next week with more progress!

Week 3:

This week is the first time I actually needed to charge my battery on my abs connect belt. I almost forgot it would need to be charged so I am very impressed with the battery life. The app very helpfully reminded me that it needed charging, and I’ve got to grips with using the app a lot more this week. I also learned this week what the F.I.T points on the app stand for:

F – Frequency- How many sessions you’re doing per week.

I – Intensity – The intensity level you are reaching in those sessions

T- Time – The length of your sessions, as directed by which program you selected.

One thing that I do find odd about the app is that the ‘weeks’ run from Friday to Thursday, which means on my stats some weeks I have only done 4 sessions and others I have 5/6 because of the days I used the belt. This might be because I downloaded the app on a Friday? But I didn’t actually start toning until the Monday, but hey its not the end of the world. Its still a great way to track how you’re doing and you can see a breakdown of every day of the week.

I played around with changing the intensity during the program this week, and found it really easy to do and very effective. During the less intense portions of the toning i managed to go up to 70 and then lowered to around 60/65 in the harder parts. I have really found my obliques especially are feeling the effects.

Overall I am really enjoying using the belt, I find it makes me feel like I  have accomplished something each day I use it, and its so easy to pick up and put on whilst cooking dinner.

Looking forward to seeing how the next few weeks go.

Week 4 & 5:

So these two weeks have been interesting. I went on holiday bang in the middle of the two weeks, so I have merged these two weeks reviews together. I didn’t take my belt away with me due to only having a very small hand luggage, although I think it is such a slim belt if I had had a little more luggage it’s definitely the sort of thing that you could throw in a weekend bag and take away with you.

I made sure I used the belt every day before I went away and have used it every day this week since I got back. I did find that after a few days off my core was definitely weaker and I found it hard to go straight back up to level 60 intensity, so spent a few days on 50.

I suppose it’s the same as exercises in the gym, if I don’t do flat bench press for a week or two I find I come back into it much weaker, so using the belt is something I think is definitely beneficial the more you keep up using it.

Overall 5 weeks in I do feel my core is feeling pretty strong and I am noticing my obliques are popping out a bit more than they were before I started using the belt.

What I also found this week was that having the app meant that Slendertone emailed me to remind me to use my belt after a few days not using it, which I think is amazing.

All in all I am really enjoying using the belt and look forward to dedicating the next 3 weeks to using it strictly the 5 days a week with no interruptions, and seeing the final results after 8 weeks use.

Week 6:

This week marks officially the end of the app’s 6 week ‘fitness’ program, although I will actually be reviewing the Slendertone Connect belt for 8 weeks. To be honest I wasn’t very pleased with myself, my FIT points were not what the app targets for me, and when I saw  that on the screen I was rather disappointed. One thing I would say is that the FIT points seem like  great idea but I lacked direction in how to get them up. I think I should have tried upping the intensity a bit more, and utilising the app to change the intensity during the programs a bit more.

Now I have seen that however it has spurred me on to make these last two weeks really count. I am going to embark upon a new training program, this time I chose ‘Advanced Toning’ sounds pretty good to me. The description calls it ‘The most intense program in the range, delivering 192 powerful contractions to challenge the most advanced toners’. Well hey, I may not be an advanced toner quite yet, but I plan to be.

After 6 weeks I have noticed that my oblique muscles seem to be more visible, which on a bulking body can only be a good thing, and I can truly say I have enjoyed using the belt. After my 8 week review I intend to continue with the belt in order to finish this advanced toning program.

Only two more weeks to go, time to up my intensity and reach those goals.

Week 7:

One more week to go and I’m loving this new program ‘Advanced Toning’. It is quite tough but I think I’ve learnt that if I keep myself busy when I’m wearing the belt, cooking dinner, putting a wash on, I seem to be able to handle a higher level of intensity. Really been working my way up on intensity this week in this new program and currently managing 65/67. I would love to hear what you guys go for in terms of levels?

I had to change my pads on the belt this week, they began to get a bit sticky and started leaving a residue on my stomach. This was at the expected time to change them and also means you can get through a whole 6 week program with one set of pads.

All in all I’m really enjoying using the belt, it makes me feel like I’m doing something productive whilst I’m doing something more mundane, it allows me to feel like I’m getting stronger even when I’m not in the gym. In my research into the belt before I accepted this challenge to review  it I found a lot of research and reviews commenting on people’s emotional satisfaction and how using the belt acted as a mood elevator. I can certainly agree with those findings.

One more week to go before I reveal my before and after photos and see if we can spot any differences. Watch this space!

Week 8:

TO CONCLUDE

My 8 week review of the Slendertone ab connect belt has finished! However my journey with slendertone certainly won’t. I have thoroughly enjoyed trialling the belt, and with the final result photos in I can definitely see more definition in my obliques particularly. Considering I have been at the end of a bulking phase it’s surprising to see any result at all, and I really feel a program when I’m leaner would see even greater results. I will most definitely be continuing to use the belt and will share updates on how my abs are looking with the help of the belt when I have finished my cut.

No the slendertone ab belt isn’t magic, it’s not going to make you lose weight or give you a 6 pack of abs on its own. What I have found though is that it helps tighten up that area and after consistent use I have found I could increase the intensity levels and found my core definitely has been left feeling tight and strong, even despite the extra fat I’m currently carrying.

Using the belt is an enjoyable experience, and like so many studies have proven is a great mood elevator and helped with motivation and confidence. Just by using the belt I felt like I was doing something productive with my time, and getting stronger. Having a strong core is one of my main goals for 2017 so I will certainly be continuing to use the belt along that journey.

I wouldn’t reccomend slendertone to someone who just wants a quick fix or wants to see huge results with no effort, but if you live a healthy balanced lifestyle are relatively active and slim and want to see that extra bit of definition for your holiday, or feel stronger in your core then the belt is definitely for you.

I have loved using the belt and I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey. For more info or to buy yourself a slendertone connect, check out their website http://www.slendertone.com

Before and after photos taken 8 weeks apart!

 

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Ordering meat hampers online

Processed with Snapseed.If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into the water of ordering your meat online you must give it a go. Eating healthily, whether to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight, is the hardest part of living the fit life. Live Lean UK delivering my meat fresh to my door have made managing my food so much easier.

Before I had my meat delivered I would find myself buying fresh meat without any pre planning 2/3 times a week. Not only is it a far more expensive to do things that way, but it also makes planning healthy meals a lot harder and makes picking up ready made things much more tempting.

Having a freezer full of meat ready to go, means I have to plan my meals and defrost accordingly. Its also far less hassle and a far cheaper way to eat, especially when your eating as much meat as I do.

Most recently I ordered this ‘ 82 Piece Hamper‘ its currently priced at £59.95 and provides me with enough meat to last the whole month! If my boyfriend nabs some chicken here and there it still lasts me a good 3 weeks.

This hamper comes with a whopping 5kg of chicken breasts, which is approx. 24 breasts. I eat these mainly for lunches during the week. As soon as the box arrives I get to work portioning the chicken out into individual freezer bags so its easy to defrost. Couldn’t be more convenient. It also comes with a variety of different meats, from pork sausages, to meatballs, rump steaks, and the most incredible minced beef. All for £59.95!

Eating a variety of different meats is ideal for any diet, these money saving hampers are an excellent way to make dieting easy for you, and keep an eye on my blog for some exciting recipe ideas on what to do with you meat too!

If you fancy giving Live Lean a go enter CWPS in the discount code box for £5 off your order!

Bulk update: my latest fears

Processed with Snapseed.As promised I will keep you all fully updated during this bulking process. Thankfully I seem to have banished those negative body image attitudes. I finally feel ok about the extra weight gain, which actually isn’t something  I thought I would feel ok about ever. Yes I am a bit softer, my arms have INSTANTLY gripped onto every bit of fat they could find, typical, but the extra weight is creating some nice curves, and actually sitting on my frame a lot more comfortably that it ever was before.

My latest concern, because being me, a worrier, an over thinker and a Virgo, once I banish one fear another one creeps up into its place; is that I wont gain muscle.

I know that this is the only way to gain muscle, people have told me, I have seen my boyfriend do it, I have listened to podcasts, read it online and in books. I KNOW this, I know I have followed all the right steps. After my diet I carefully reverse dieted in order to keep my metabolism in check, I increased my carb intake on this bulk carefully, and I haven’t caused any damage to my metabolism.

BUT, and this is a big one, I have never done it, I have no real proof that me, my body will respond to this, which is very scary. I think this fear has led me to really get into my head about it, and I have begun focusing way to much on the numbers on the weights I’m lifting, because in my head numbers increasing MUST mean I am growing. I have checked myself and I am now going to focus my head during my sessions and concentrate, on yes, lifting heavy, but most importantly keeping my muscles under tension.

When you really think about it, its not the weight that’s important…Big revelation I know, but its keeping your muscle under tension. Picture the slim female painter and decorator with guns of steel, she doesn’t use a heavier brush or roller every day, or heavier paint, she just constantly keeps her muscles under tension which creates growth.

Feeling more confident in how I look, and getting used to being softer. Learning to actually enjoy the fact that I can eat more carbs which I love, and I am now going to attempt to beat this newest fear. I will concentrate on keeping my muscles under tension and TRUST that they will grow. I am doing everything right, I need to enjoy this journey, work hard, and I will reap the rewards. I HAVE TO.

Hows the bulk going ?

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In a word…petrifying. Well it was, but I am starting to come to terms with it. For starters I got off on a bad footing with my water intake. Before my holiday to Bali, I was solidly drinking 4-6 litres of water every day without fail. In Bali I ate lots of healthy foods, but definitely overall ate more calories and neglected my water. When I got home I was ill for the first week and not training, and by the time I got back into training and onto my bulking calories it was nearly the end of September, and had been a good 3 weeks off any real sort of plan.

I realised last Saturday that I had seriously let my water intake slip. I looked in the mirror and felt sluggish, bloated and horrible. YAY bulking. I could have kicked myself. I know how important drinking water is, and how much not drinking enough effects me and makes me feel, so I was so frustrated with myself that I had let things slip.

Already I feel HUGE. Now that’s not a cry for attention, I know I’m not, but the more you train and concentrate on changing your body, the more you notice every minor change.

I am currently carrying 3 extra lbs. Probably 1/2lbs of that is water that I haven’t lost yet, and I also feel bloated, not forgetting I am taking creatine which is well known to cause bloating. All in all I am struggling and I wish those girls with those fantastic bodies would share that a bit more.

All I see on social media from the girls whose bodies I aspire to have, is lean,strong, beautiful bodies, and there is no way they can be like that all year round. I know that in order to gain muscle I must eat in calorie surplus, and with that will inevitably come some fat gain. So as I muddle my way through this journey I want to share with you all exactly how I am feeling, and show you my body going through all of its changes.

My boyfriend and my trainer can all tell me a hundred times that this is necessary, that they all feel like this when going through a bulking phase, but this is the first time for me, and I cant help but question the process, question if I am gaining weight to quickly, and question if I am training hard enough to have any real impact.

My head is packed with doubts and fears for this process, but I do so badly want the end result, and everything I have learnt so far has proven that this is the only way to get it.  As my trainer reminded me last night, it takes 7 weeks to lose a stone healthily. 7 weeks. That is more than do able. I need to focus myself on the outcome, push through those insecurities and get through these next few months. I may feel chunkier, and I may feel a bit bloated from the carbs, but I DO feel strong, and I am enjoying pushing myself and lifting heavier weights. This will be good for me, it will allow me to build my muscles, and when I do lean out next year  will reveal a stronger, leaner, more muscular version of me.

So hows your bulk going? Lets use #teambulk on instagram and keep talking about it, the more open we are with each other the more we will realise were not alone.

So I’ve dieted. What now?

So…What now?

I can’t possibly be the only girl sat there after losing weight with training and exercise, the right way, and thinking, what next? Yes I’m fitter than before, slimmer, healthier, but I still dont look how I want to look.

I spent the best part of a year dieting and training, and got to a point where honestly, as a UK size 8 in clothes I felt I was as small as I would want to be, however I definitely didn’t have the dream body I had dreamed of, and I am determined to get it.

Finishing my diet I looked like this

But I want to look like this.

And so here it begins, the totally unrealistic expectations, the high set goals. I’ve been training strictly for only a year, but I want the body of a girl who has been training strictly for 5 years.

The problem with social media, is the only women whom I can find that I can aspire to have the bodies of, are well into their journeys, or like me just starting out.

I truly have no idea what my body is going to look and feel like during this next phase, but I want to share it with you guys, every step. That way hopefully it’s not so scary for you when you reach it.

What is obvious is that if I want the bodies of those girls above, I need to put more muscle on. That will only happen by eating more to fuel the muscles to grow, and lifting heavy and in a way that will aid muscle growth. Very scary prospect I know, but it has got to be done. I am going to have to start adjusting my way of thinking and start to accept that I am not going to be as lean as I have been, but it is all part of the process and one that I need to trust.

Here’s the plan.

I’ve switched up my workout splits to start with, and recognised that I just wasn’t pushing myself hard enough in my sessions. From now on my workouts will be more geared towards key compound movements, and progressive overload. Lifting as heavy as possible, but whilst keeping the muscle under tension for mid range reps, and focusing on feeling the squeeze in every move.

I have arranged my splits to give extra time to those weaker areas, namely my core and triceps, and plan on leaving out a lot of the more fussy exercises.

I have also began the process of increasing my carbohydrate and protein intake to fuel those muscles the right way. Something I found a very scary prospect at first, and as much as I will enjoy the carbs I guarantee you in a few weeks time I will be telling you all how bloated and horrendous I feel.

Supplement wise I have added in creatine alongside my Vitamin C, BCAA, and whey protein. I have no idea how my body will respond to the creatine, but from my research I feel it’s worth a shot if it could help me grow my muscles.

So that’s me for now, scared but focused and determined. I want to thank all of you blog readers, instagram followers alike, for all of your support in my weight loss element of my fitness journey. I hope you will all continue along with me entering into this new phase of my training, all of your encouragement, advice, and support is always appreciated.

I’ll keep you posted.

6 simple steps to weight loss

IMG_8503I often get messages from my followers asking me simple broad questions, like ‘how can I lose weight?’ ‘What should I do at the gym?’

There are so many different ways of losing weight, so many different opinions on the best way or most effective way.

There is no quick fix, there is no one size fits all, unfortunately what worked for me may not work for you, its all trial and error and seeing what your body responds best to.

I have personally found the most effective thing for me, or the thing that ‘stuck’ was a combination of weight training and clean eating, as so many of you are asking I wanted to just guide you through in simple terms what I did diet wise.

Step one:

Figure out what your body is getting. If you have quite a lot of weight to lose your bodies internal systems are probably not responding very well.  I know that when I was over weight I just over ate, no two ways about it. I probably didn’t realise at the time quite how bad my eating habits were but on reflection I really did just eat anything and everything I fancied. If I had already had breakfast, and popped into Starbucks at 11am to grab a mocha frapuccino (yes, with cream!), if I saw a slice of cake, or a little brownie I fancied, I would have it, no filter, no question. These eating habits leave your body constantly battling against the extra calories and in simple terms all of those internal systems that break your food down will struggle, ending up in it storing as excess fat.

I had no idea how many calories I was actually eating, and I didn’t even no what a macro nutrient was. I recommend using the app ‘My Fitness Pal’ to start tracking your food. It may seem tedious at first but once you get into the habit of tracking your food it becomes second nature. Track for a week or two, just your normal calories, don’t change your eating habits, lets see what your body is working with.

Step two: 

Clean your diet up. If you realise say you’re eating 1800kcal a day, continue to eat that many calories, maybe play around with your macros if you notice fat is rather high or carbs could be lower. Eat those calories in clean foods, you will probably find it difficult to match but try that for a week and get used to eating simple whole real foods rather than processed naughties. Swap your crunchy nut cornflakes for porridge, your Greggs chicken baguette for grilled chicken with salad and rice or new potatoes. Snack on Ryvita and peanut butter instead of caramel shortcake. Ditch the mocha frappucino in favour of a cappuccino, or remove the caramel flavour syrup from your latte.

Step Three: 

Slowly lower your calories. Like I said before, there is no hard and fast rule here, no perfect number of calories or perfect macro split.’My Fitness Pal’ will actually allow you to input your weight etc and advise you which could help, or do a little more research into you and your specific requirements. How many carbs you need a day for example will drastically depend on your exercise level, type of training you do, or lack of. But where ever you are at, start to lower. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Keeping those calories clean drop your total calories by around 10% and stay on those calories for 4 weeks.

Step Four: 

Use your tools and lower your calories. I spent 3 months lowering my calories by 10% each month before I started carb cycling. Carb cycling was a process that worked well for me, but for other people slowly lowering calories in itself is a great long term sustainable way of losing weight. Around every 4 weeks your body will hit a wall, it will be used to the calories its getting and weight loss will slow. It is then you drop your calories a little further. Each month start removing or adding things to your diet and exercise routine. Perhaps cut out fizzy drinks, cut down on the lattes or switch to skinny, ditch the sugar in your morning cuppa, add in a 30 min walk once a week, then twice a week. Start using your tools.

The problem with so many diets is you go straight from 1800kcal a day to 1000kcal a day, you train, you run, you drink only water. All of that done in one go leaves you with no where to go when you hit the inevitable wall. Slowly lowering calories worked for me, it left me wiggle room, and enabled me to kick things up when I hit a plateau, WITHOUT going to dangerously low calories.

Step Five: 

Reverse diet. I won’t go into too much detail here as its all in another blog piece found here. The main principal of it, is once you reach a weight you are happy with which you want to maintain, you need to do exactly what you just did adding the calories in month by month slowly again.

Step Six: 

Maintain. Unfortunately maintaining your dream body won’t include lots of donuts and cream cakes, you can make lovely healthy macro friendly recipes from my blog to keep your sweet tooth at bay, but in the main being healthy and fit is a lifestyle not a temporary fix. Once you have got your calories up to a point where you are not gaining or losing weight via reverse dieting, you can continue to track until your confident, and stay there eating at that level happily forever.

As I said at the beginning there is no hard and fast rules here. I have simplified the process in a way that people can adapt and change according to their own goals. For me I have been weight training, I upped my gym days from 3 to 5, added a little cardio, used a natural fat burner, slim tonic, for a time as a tool. Everyone will have their own tools, their own goals, and will need to adapt their food intake accordingly.

Thank you for reading my 6 simple steps on how I managed to lose my weight, and how I maintained it. There are many more stages to my personal journey as I am sure there are to yours, but hopefully I have given some of you an answer to the main question I get asked. ‘Where do I start?’ HERE.

 

Why your crash/fad diet will fail?

IMG_5650Now don’t hate me here, I am indulging in an eye grabbing title to get your attention. Sometimes these crash/fad diets we all have been guilty of trying, will work. One thing I am certain of is they will not be sustainable, the effects will not last, and it will be a temporary fix.

I speak from experience, before I discovered real nutrition and began learning and understanding how your body works and how food reacts to it, I lost weight on the ‘Special k diet’. Remember that drop a jean size in 6 weeks claim, 2 bowls of cereal a day and one meal. No exercise needed. What a shocker…but yes it worked, of course it worked, because in simple terms all you need to lose weight is a calorie deficit, or eat the same amount of calories and exercise more to create an energy deficit. 

To uncomplicate the science of it all, when you partake in these crash diets, and go from giving your body 2500/3000 calories a day, and then suddenly give it 1000kcal a day, you will lose weight. BUT and this is a big one, that rapid decline in calories will cause damage to your internal systems, the systems that process your carbs, and store or don’t store fat in your body. Over time your body will stop losing weight and rebel against this, holding onto anything it gets. This is that ‘wall’ so many of you will be able to relate with having hit.  All of this can cause metabolic damage and needs to be rectified.

These crash/fad diets will fail long term simply for the reason they are not sustainable. I couldn’t have gone on eating only cereal twice a day for the rest of my life, and there is no post diet plan to get your metabolism back up to speed.

Once you have lost your weight on your extreme calorie deficit diet you will then go back to ‘healthy/normal’ eating. But immediately your increasing calories by around 500/600 calories. That’s when you will gain weight, because your body isn’t used to getting that much, it has adapted to the lower calories and it simply doesn’t know what to do with the extra calories so stores them as fat.

The other thing people might do after a diet is to live in a permanent diet state, we all know those people, every time you see them they are on a diet. These people have no weight to lose, and yet have to continue only eating 1000/1200 calories a day to maintain it. Possibly binging at the weekends and putting on a few pounds every time they do.

Diets NEED to be sustainable. You are much better off figuring out how many calories you are eating before you start a diet, and then slowly decreasing calories; losing weight along the way, allowing your body to keep up with the internal changes. So many people start a diet throwing all of their tools at it. They will eat 1000kcal a day, do 30 mins cardio a day, go to the gym 4 times a week, drink only water. All of this has its place, but if you throw it all at your diet at the start, once you hit that inevitable wall when your body stops responding, you have no where to go. You would end up eating a lettuce leaf a day and running for an hour just to keep losing weight, which is DEFINITELY not something I recommend.

So what can I do? 

Luckily there is a very good way to resolve this and get your body back to normal after a period in calorie deficit. The system is called reverse dieting, and it is a simple as that, slowly reversing your diet back up to higher calories. This process enables your body to have time to catch up to the extra calories its getting, by slowly increasing calories each week. If you are on a high protein, low carb, medium fat diet, I would generally suggest increasing weekly by as little as 5-10g carbs, 1g fat and 0-2g protein per week, this equates to around 50-80kcal a week.

Once you have reached a level where you are not gaining or losing weight this is where you stay, at ‘maintenance’ level. If you are happy with your weight loss when you began reverse dieting you could happily eat at this level for the rest of your life. Alternatively if you plan on dieting again to lose further weight, you are starting from a point of increased calories giving you a better baseline to diet down from, and after a period of maintenance could slowly begin reducing calories again to lose more weight.

I have just completed a period of reverse dieting and am now maintaining for a while before trying something else. It has taken me 10 weeks to slowly reverse diet up to maintenance, but in that time I haven’t gained a single pound in weight, and I am eating around 500kcal more per day. Happy Grainne!

I have had a lot of questions via Instagram around what reverse dieting is, so I hope I have given you the basic uncomplicated information on how it works. I understand in this day and age quick fixes are desirable, but in reality they are not sustainable and will cause your metabolism to slow. Try something different, try slowly decreasing then increasing calories back up after a diet, try something that will last.

 

 

Body bands in the gym and at home

IMG_2505Quads, quads, quads, glutes, glutes, glutes. That’s what I’m all about right now. I’m currently reverse dieting, and I will be eventually increasing my calories to above maintenance in order to build myself the dream booty. After months in a calorie deficit it feels amazing, and with it I feel its definitely time to kick my training up a gear.

I weight train with splits of push, pull, legs, and abs, and recently I’ve been finding ways of making my leg days (2 a week) more productive.

I bought these fantastic body bands from Dream Fitness for at home workouts. They are a KILLER, and if your working out at home doing body weight exercises or free squats these are a must buy, and will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your workout.

A few weeks ago I decided to take them to the gym with me, on a whim really, I enjoy using them for hip thrusts, as sometimes I find a barbell on my hips so uncomfortable, but using no weight at all doesn’t quite feel hard enough.

I have now begun adding them into one leg day a week and can really feel that happy burn, burns that little hotter.

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Goblet squats – I do 5 sets using the green (medium) resistance band and 5 sets using the red (heavy)  band just above my knees while holding a kettle-bell or medicine ball.

 

 

 

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Hip thrusts – With the band just above my knees for added resistance, you can also try a variation on this I have started including, raising one leg at a time straight in front of you, while hooking the band around one knee and the other foot.
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Side steps and squats– step apart, squat, together, apart squat and repeat. These are great to add onto your at home workout, or in the gym after traditional squats to create a superset.

 

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Overhead squats–  These are great for focusing on your squat form.  I use the heaviest band (red) and concentrate on going low into the movement.

If you’re looking to step up your in gym workout, or your at home workout I have really found adding in body bands is a great way to do it.

They are reasonably priced, convenient, and can completely transform your workout.

 

5 ways to prevent muscle soreness

IMG_2193 (1)What Are DOMS?

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and soreness felt in muscles several hours to days after strenuous exercise. The stiffness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. Anyone that has ever worked out can relate to DOMS and although some people may see it as a good workout, others see it as a hindrance that they would rather avoid. Adding the below recovery and prevention tools to your exercise plan can help you against DOMS, potentially allowing you to train for longer and reducing the risk of injury.

5 Ways to Prevent Soreness after Working Out

1) Warm Up

Ensure that you warm up before exercising. Performing a few sets using a light weight working the same muscles that you are going to train can help to reducing DOMS. In addition, bodyweight exercises are also a good way to ease into your workout.

2) Recovery

Performing low intensity exercise both immediately after an intense workout and in the days following can help to reduce the soreness in your muscles by increasing the flow of blood around your body.

3) Branch chained amino acids (BCAAs)

Various studies have shown that BCAAs have help to improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness. BCAAs are also great for protein synthesis and muscle breakdown.

4) Use a foam roller

A foam roller is a cylinder made out of foam that can ease tightness and tension between your muscles. Using your bodyweight, you roll major muscle groups (glutes, quads, upper back, calves) over the foam, applying pressure to tight areas and trigger points to smooth out knots and increase blood flow. If you’re unsure, ask a personal trainer at your gym to guide you.

5) Stretching

Studies have shown that stretching can help to reduce muscle tension and increase the range of movement in your joints. It also helps to increase circulation of blood around your body.

This blog piece was guest written for me  by the fabulous people at Fitness Buddy 247  check out their blog for more articles on a range of fitness related topics.

What is carb cycling?

IMG_2612Carb cycling is a dieting technique used by athletes, bodybuilders and fitness models all over the world with some of the most impressive physiques. However the actual diet itself works for all sorts of people, and is not as complicated as it sounds once explained properly.

There are many different ways people set up their carb cycling plans, the main concept is that you ‘cycle’ your carbohydrate intake from low days to high days. Simply eating higher carbs on some days, to help promote muscle growth and refuel your glycogen stores; and eating lower carbs on other days, to help with fat loss.

Glycogen is essentially stored carbs, which you use up during your daily activity as well as during exercise. You refuel your body’s glycogen store on the ‘high carb days’, and on the ‘low carb days’ as your stores are depleting, carb cycling tricks your body into burning fat as fuel.

So why not just stay low carb constantly if it burns fat?

The danger of staying in the fat burning zone for too long, is that your body will only remain in that zone for a small amount of time, before looking for a higher source of energy. The next best source would be taking protein from already existing muscle mass, which is of course the opposite of your intentions.

How carb cycling works

High carb days stimulate an insulin response in the body, and provide energy to fuel your workouts, which means your body is not using the protein you are ingesting for energy, thus allowing it to be sent to your muscles.

Low carb days keep your body more receptive to insulin, improving your body’s muscle building response. They also help to promote fat loss in the usual way a low carbohydrate diet would.

Since carb cycling involves the so called high carb days, it’s psychologically satisfying, allowing you to constantly have something to look forward to. The high carb days roll around pretty quickly, curbing cravings and therefore making it a far easier to get through low carb days. If you are a stage in your diet when you allow yourself a cheat meal once a week, these are incorporated into a high carb day.

Of course it’s not all Pizza and Donuts I’m afraid. The high carb days carbs still need to be made up from clean carbs. Brown pasta, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, wholegrain bread, Oatmeal for example. The low days containing the same sort of carbs but in far smaller quantity, and filling meals out with more proteins, grains and vegetables.

Building your cycle

There are different ways to set up your cycle, the most important rule being a high carb day must be followed by a low carb day. Some people recommend medium carb days, low days and high days, however to simplify things I am just going to discuss how I set it up.

My diet dictates 3 low carb days followed by 1 high carb day, and then start the cycle again. This does mean that the cycle is not a week long, so high carb days won’t always fall at the weekend for example (for those cheat meal conscious people). But that’s how it works for me.

Low carb days the goal is to hit 50-150g carbs. Depending on your size, height and goals obviously these may need to be adjusted slightly, but this is a good starting point. Women looking at around 50g-100g carbs and men the top end of the scale. Not forgetting this diet also requires healthy fats, a good amount of protein, and balanced meals containing fibrous vegetables to work effectively.

High carb days the goal is to roughly triple your low carb day target, although some men can get away with a lot more carbs. There’s no hard and fast rules, some of these numbers may need adjusting as everyone’s body responds differently. Remember a high carb day is not an excuse for a binge so clean carbs only please.
Whether you still have a fair few pounds to lose, or you are looking to get those abs popping out, this diet has great results. The leaner you are the harder it gets to lose fat, so this diet is ideal for those people who have hit a plateau in their weight loss on their current diet plan.  For those who find they have a harder time sticking to a diet, this provides a strange feeling of flexibility, making it far easier to maintain. If you are just starting out on a healthy path, having built in days where you can eat more in a structured way, is a great way to introduce better lifestyle habits.

I was asked to write this blog post by the wonderful people at @fitnessbuddy247 on instagram. Take a look at their website, I think you will find some really interesting content!

http://www.fitnessbuddy247.com/public/blog/what-is-carb-cycling/