Our guest writer Simone has been telling us about her return to the gym and exercise after a five-year hiatus. Last week it was all jelly limbs and sore muscles. Today she tells us how she feels two full weeks in, shares her favourite healthy snack recipes and gives us the low down on what happened on *sharp intake of breath* measurement day.
Two full weeks have passed in my gym adventure - it was time to face the music and see if all the sweat and tears that’d I’d put in (literally) had paid off. It was Measurement Day.
But more on that a little later.
See, over the last couple of weeks it’s safe to say that I’ve embarked on a radically new way of living. I’ve gone from zero exercise to working out in Go Gym, three times per week with my personal trainer Owen Mulrane (and if you want a sneaky peek at some of his tips yourself, you can check outhis Facebook page, Inside-Out Fitness).
In addition to the running and jumping and weight lifting, I’ve given my diet an overhaul and concentrated on eating healthy, unprocessed, whole foods. It’s been quite a steep learning curve but I hope that I’ve started an upward spiral. And by that I mean that my good habits are starting to breed more good habits. The additional energy that I have has inspired me to go for an evening walk in this amazing weather that we’re having, and I even added in a swim. None of which were exercise territory, I’m talking purely for pleasure.
And I’m also really enjoying my time in the kitchen whipping up new recipes - check out these pics of my cauliflower base pizza!
But if cooking isn’t your thing you needn’t worry as most healthy food doesn’t require much work once you’ve the basics in stock and in fact some of it requires no cooking at all (see one of my favourite recipes below).
Owen has continued to mix up my work out each time I go and so the possible boredom that you hear some people mention in the same sentence as the word gym, doesn’t get a chance to raise its head. And in fact I like not knowing what’s coming up. It takes the thinking out of it for me and some days knowing what lies ahead would make me not want to go, so maybe ignorance is bliss.
That said, of course I’m learning all the time, albeit subconsciously. For example I now know that I’ve a tight IT band (an iliotibial band is a muscle in your leg for those of you who were in the dark on this one like me). And I also know that flexibility is crucial for fitness so it’s not all about the workout itself.
Some of the most important work we do is afterwards with stretches. And these can be a lot sorer than the cardio or strength work that has gone before it. Having a strong core is also important and so we’re working on that via the plank (my nemesis) and other abdominal exercises.
So today I had to face the music and see if it was working. Owen had avoided taking my measurements last week so as to let me focus on the task in hand rather than on a number. But from here on out we’ll be checking my progress each week, and in turn I’ll of course update you on how it’s going.
So here is the bit I was waiting for - I was 4lbs down.
I wasn’t jumping up and down about this figure if I’m honest, but Owen reassured me that with the work we’ve been doing, I’ve likely added on about 4lbs in muscle and so he’s happy with that number. Size wise my arms are about the same, legs are down 1cm, chest down 4cm, hips down 5cm and the biggest difference was my waist which is down 9cm.
Now if you’re like me, numbers don’t mean a whole lot on their own like that, it’s more a question of how do my clothes fit? And yes that all tallies, my jeans are a bit looser around my thighs and in the junk in my trunk has definitely gotten some more space. So all in all it’s a good start.
My trainer is happy with how I’m eating but has asked that I download the My Fitness Pal App to keep track of my calories and make sure that the quantity is in line with the quality. He has recommended that I aim for about 1,600 kcal per day (seemingly 1,200 is the bare minimum that our bodies need just to function well).
And he also let me know that after this week we’re going to increase the intensity and frequency of my workouts. And that scares the bejaysus out of me as I thought I was working out to capacity as it is. But I’ve full faith in him and so will do what I’m told.
It’s a strange feeling but I actually think that this could finally be it, after years of trying lots of different methods; this could be the thing that brings me back to being myself.
I've decided to pop in one of my favourite recipes this week as well - try them, they're yum!
- Raw Energy Balls
If like me you’ve a sweet tooth, then this could be the fix you’ve been looking for! Trust me, you need to make these only once to be convinced. It really does taste like chocolate but there is only goodness inside.
Limit them to a treat food so no more than 1 per day and they come in at approx. 100 kcal. They’ll give you a nice boost of energy for that 3pm slump, and feel free to play around with the ingredients, substituting the seeds for other types or nuts, add in goji berries etc. There’s no hard and fast rule as to what must go into them.
Ingredients (Makes approx 25 balls)
2/3 Cup of Oats
½ Cup Sunflower Seeds
½ Cup Desiccated Coconut plus ½ Cup for Rolling
½ Cup Raisins/Sultanas
Zest 1 Orange
1/3 Cup of Vita Coco Water (or use the juice from the orange or water)
3 tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Throw everything into your food processor and blend until combined. Mixture should be sticky but not wet. Add more of the wet or dry ingredients as required.
- Break off a small lump of the mixture, roll into a ball and then roll in the coconut.
- Place on a dish in the fridge to chill.
- Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. Will keep for about 4 days.
Can you relate to Simone's gym adventure? Do you use any apps to help your fitness and health? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!