FITNESS | A Skinny Bitch with Bad Habits No Longer
Not once so far this year have I wanted to gnaw on my left arm because some crazy, post-Christmas, quick-fix 300 calorie-a-day diet has left me ravenous beyond belief. In fact quite the contrary – I’m having three delicious meals a day and the odd snack here and there.
Food, glorious food….
Changing my eating habits has been wonderfully liberating. I now enjoy eating. I look forward to getting up in a morning and having a good, hearty breakfast, rather than prolonging it for all long as possible in hope that I can skip it all together, make it to noon, and call it lunch. This my friends, is the number one biggest mistake that I have been making for, well, possibly since I left home at the tender age of 18. If you only take away one thing from my #GAYFitnessChallenge, take away these wise words of wisdom from Andy Couzens – ex Leeds-United-Player-come-fitness-guru and personal trainer who is helping me to be a better, healthier me.
“Have breakfast, and have it within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. It helps to kick start your metabolism and will boost your metabolism by a whopping 30%! Eat what you like for breakfast – Toast with Jam, toast with peanut butter, egg on toast… eggs, more eggs – eggs cooked in any way you want! Porridge, pancakes, bacon, fruit, bagels – eat like a king, make it the biggest meal of the day just keep away from sugary cereal.”
What a revelation! Now I wake up, jump out of bed and head straight for the fridge. Me and my fridge have always had a love/hate relationship. The fridge used to beckon me to open her, like the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… “Treacle tart and ice-cream all freeee today”. Inevitably she’d win and I’d find myself stuffing half a block of Wensleydale into my gob at 10pm at night after being ‘so good’ (female code for I’ve eaten f**k all and I’ve f**king starving) all day. She doesn’t have the upper hand anymore though. I’m winning. I open the fridge on my terms now. I open it first thing in a morning and rustle up a hearty breakfast for us all before school. I’m a much happier mum now that I get to eat alongside my Children at breakfast time. Rather than having to watch them in envy as they demolish two rounds of Weetabix, a hot cross bun each and some fruit for good measure. Where the f**k they put it all I’ll never know.
My fave breakfasts:
(Top left to right): Polenta porridge made with coconut milk and served with frozen berries or banana (click for recipe). Peanut butter and banana on toast. Porridge with frozen blueberries. Avocado on toast. Greek yogurt pancakes with honey, Greek yogurt and frozen blueberries (click for recipe). Smoked salmon and poached egg on brown toast.
A skinny bitch with bad habits…
Andy spent half an hour pretty much telling me that I was a skinny bitch with seriously bad habits when I attended a nutritional review at his personal training space in Guiseley just six miles north-west of Leeds. When I told him we ate dinner as late as 9pm most nights he shot me a very disapproving look:
“Stop eating four hours before you hit the sack. Have dinner before 7pm every night. Then, while you sleep, your body is better primed to burn fat instead of creating more”
Now I’ll admit this change has been tough. Full-time work, dealing with small children and getting them ready for bed every night, and then having to cook dinner means we rarely eat before 9pm. Well, not the actual dinner anyway. I would graze from about 6pm onwards – leftover kid’s super, the odd bread stick or six. Nibbling on whatever I was cooking for tea… Eating at 6.30pm has taken some adjustment; I have to plan and prepare more. It has made a huge difference though. I no longer have to scoff half a packet of Riveta before dinner, I just, well, have my dinner.
Andy’s top nutritional tips:
- Start every morning off with hot water and lemon with a little honey – a little bit of natural sugar is a good thing first thing in a morning. (This does not mean three spoon fulls of sugar in your coffee).
- Snack, but make it protein – healthy snacking keeps blood-sugar from spiking, preventing hunger pangs, cravings, and body fat storage.
Some snack ideas:
(Left to right): Egg muffins with feta, spinach and red pepper (click for recipe). Peanut butter of oatcakes. Hummus and cucumber rolls – rolled in ham.
- I can have a drink. In fact dry-January is, in Andy’s words… “An absolute load of bollocks – you are setting yourself up to fail and then you will hate yourself even more. Rather than cutting out alcohol entirely, drink gin or vodka over wine – it’s a lot less calorific.” So this weekend I shall be having some Gin as part of my new lifestyle. Oh yes.
- Contrary to the belief that carbs are spawned from the devil, our body needs them. Eat them, as long as they are ‘good’ slow-releasing carbs (wholegrain pasta and rice etc) and as long as you eat them before 4pm.
- Dinner should be ‘protein & plants’. Meat, fish, eggs, chicken etc with loads of salad and/or veg and even a little cheese if your mood fancies.
- Water – drink shit loads of it. Get into the habit of having a glass of water before and after every meal, as soon as you get up, and before you go to bed.
- Go easy on the coffee and tea. I know it’s hard when you are a knackered mum of two.
Some lunch / dinner ideas:
Getting off my lazy arse…
Gone are the days when I controlled my weight through food, rather than getting off my lazy arse to exert myself. When one suffers from depression and anxiety, it can be hard to muster up the motivation to exercise. But listen, and listen hard, exercise is thee best thing for depression. It lifts your mood by releasing feel-good chemicals and when you start to see physical changes, which has only taken two week for moi, you instantly start to feel better about yourself and want to continue down the road to a better, more healthier you. Inside, and out. Now I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again -I hate the gym. I don’t particularly enjoy pounding the streets on foot. I can’t afford a one-on-one personal trainer, and I find exercise classes don’t suit me. I need to be pushed, screamed at, ordered to move my arse.
Last time I attempted the grapevine in a school hall alongside 25 other ladies of various ages and sizes, I nearly gave the old bird next to me a black eye when I mixed up my left and my right.
Andy Couzans – ex Leeds United Player and Personal Trainer has a fitness studio in Guiseley so I’ve started visiting him on a Monday evening along with two lovely ladies of a similar level of fitness. For the cost of a bottle of Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc each (a tenner) Andy puts us through a gruelling 45 minute HITT (high intensity training) class using all sorts of scary apparatus from very heavy balls, to very thick ropes, weights, benches, and squats. Lots and lots and lots of squats.
There are no steroid-pumping beef cakes taking things far too seriously. There are no pensioners in pink Lycra who can’t keep up, and no WAGs with far too much slap and far too little sweat. Just Jo, Shazza (pictured above) and myself being knocked into shape by an ex footballer. Aside from our weekly PT session with Andy, I’ve also been experimenting with his HYPOXI machine. I’m half way through a four week course (three 30 minute sessions a week), which promises to eradicate the stubborn fat deposits around my muffin top, arse and inner thigh area.
This rather spaceship- like machine is essentially a basis exercise bike encased in an egg shaped pod which closes at the waist. A vacuum system lowers pressure within the pod and encourages blood flow into the lower half of the body. I get in, zip up my skirt and peddle for 30 minutes at about 75rph. It might not sound all that demanding, but when you have a vacuum sucking you into a giant egg whilst you are trying to peddle at speed, believe me, it’s tougher than it sounds.
If, unlike me, you are less worried about your pear share and more concerned by the weight you carry around your middle, then HYPOXI training can also be carried out on the treadmill using a big belt that is attached to your middle and to a machine.
I’m also committing myself to 100 sit ups every other night, and a few rounds of kettle-bell swings and squats in front of Big Brother. Doesn’t cost a thing. Takes 15 minutes. I can do it in my PJs.
So you want to see some results of this lifestyle change of mine…? Of course you do!
2 weeks in, only 3 pounds lost in weight, but 18cm lost in body mass. You do the maths.
WIN a HYPOXI training course in Leeds with Andy Couzens
A massive HIGH FIVE to Andy C – he’s only gone and offered to give one lucky person a full 4 week (12 session) course of HYPOXI training, with a nutritional assessment and plan thrown in. CLICK HERE to Enter
About HYPOXI training Hypoxi training is described as a “body shaping method” which combines gentle exercise with its USP – vacuum technology – to directly target fat in areas specifically prone to storing it, namely stomach, waist, hips, buttocks and thighs. The training method was developed in 1998 by Dr Norbert Egger, an Austrian sports scientist, who linked stubborn fat deposits specifically to poorly circulated areas of the body; areas that also traditionally prove the most resistant to diet and exercise. The only way to burn this fat is by exercising the muscle – this we all know – but by simultaneously increasing blood circulation to problem areas, we can speed up the breakdown of concentrated fat deposits. This process definitely works but it does require you to put some effort in yourself so you must eat the right foods and exercise regularly.
Discloser: I am working in partnership with ex Leeds United Footballer Andy Couzens – owner and Director of AC Personal Fitness in Guiseley, North West Leeds. Andy is giving me his fitness and nutritional advice and guidance free of charge as part of the challenge.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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