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What I eat in a day (plus my morning workout)

So I thought today I would write a quick post sharing a typical day's food intake and a sample workout to show the sort of thing I'm focussing on prior to my holiday.  I want to say a few things before I start this post - first of all, my current goals are to lose fat, build muscle and generally tone up, so my nutrition and calorie intake are based on this, rather than what a typical calorie intake might be if I was just maintaining my weight.  My body fat percentage (up until this week) was over 31% which is just outside the ideal weight for a woman, so fat loss has been my goal for the last few weeks, not only because I want to feel confident in a bikini, but also for health reasons.  These are my goals but they might not be yours - I have a real challenge in that I hold all of my fat around my stomach area and my thighs and I really want to tone up so I feel a little better about being in the pool on my holiday.  I'm not advocating anyone copying my meal plan or trying to match my calories - you have to 'do you' and work out what's best for you.

My Personal Trainer has worked out my macros (for a really helpful video on what macros are, and how to build a meal plan around them, check out Carly Rowena's latest video) and I enter these into my MyFitnessPal and plan my meals around that.  Although I try and prepare my lunches in advance, and plan my dinners for the week, I also keep an eye on my nutrition throughout the day.  That way if I can see that my protein intake is a little low I can supplement it with some chopped chicken or a protein shake, and so on dependent on what my percentages are looking like.

One final thing - I wanted to share these photos straight away so I've taken them on my phone throughout the day - apologies for the poor quality!

So - onto my food diary.  On gym days, I tend to go before work, so in order to get there for 7am I get up at 5.30.  The first thing I need at that point is a cup of green tea to wake me up! I am not a breakfast person and I cannot stomach food until much later in the morning, so I usually only have green tea and then something light later on in the morning.

05.40 - Morning cup of green tea - begu tea, morning buzz.  This green tea is my current favourite - it really helps to wake me up and set me up for the day.

At this point in the morning it's hard for me to be awake enough to work out, so I tend to have a pre-workout to give me energy and help get me through a session.  Sometimes I go without, but on particularly tired days or if I'm going for a longer run then I'll take this to stop my energy levels from dipping whilst working out.  (If you want to pick up anything from Protein Works then you can use my referral code RT110872 when you register for a bag of free protein - winner!)

06.30 - Protein Works, Genesis Pre-Workout (61 calories).  I just mix this in my shaker and drink it in the car on the way to the gym.

07.00 - Whether or not I'm working out with a trainer or on my own I usually get to the gym around 7am to give me enough time to work out for an hour, and then get showered and sorted and into work about 08.30.  Today I did a sort of 'leg' workout which consisted of:

Cross-trainer for five minutes
Squats with a bar (12 reps) x 4
Hack squats (10 reps), Goblin squats (12 reps) x 4
Lunges with dumbbells (across gym), kettlebell swings (20 reps) x5
Kettlebell deadlifts (12 reps) x 4
Foam roller on legs to stop them aching later in the day!

This workout took around an hour and I was sweating like crazy at the end of it - definitely a good feeling before going to work!

09.45 - Nakd bar (137 calories), green tea.  I drank half of my green tea before I remembered to take this photograph! Just before 10am I fancied something small so I ate a Nakd bar before running off into a meeting.

13.00 - Muscle Food Lean Cumberland Sausage, carrots, sweetcorn, peas, broccoli (239 calories)
            Can of Pepsi Max

I was definitely hungry by 13.00 so I heated up my lunch - just an extra serving of what I'd had for dinner the night before.  We buy all of our meat from Muscle Food as it's ridiculously good value and it's all organic and from British farms.  I batch buy it and then keep it in the freezer and defrost as I go or cook things in the slow cooker during the day.

13.30 - Aussie Bites 'muffin' (135 calories), 2 x medjool dates (133 calories)

I sat in the park with a friend and had one of these Aussie Bites and two medjool dates.  I bought the Aussie Bites from Costco - they are honey, oats, apricot, sunflower seeds and flax seeds with no artificial ingredients.  I keep medjool dates in my drawer for when I fancy something sweet.

17.00 - Diet Protein Water, The Protein Works (91 calories)

On the way home I had a quick protein water in my shaker - I have the Watermelon Cooler flavour and it just tastes like squash; it's a good way to get a bit of extra protein in whilst re-hydrating.

19.00 - Muscle Food pork medallions, mustard sauce (mustard, chicken stock, soured cream, red onion), sweet potato fries, small amount of baked chunky potato. (412 calories).

Dinner was a bit later than usual - I usually try and have my dinner by 6 or half 6 as if it drags on too late I still feel full by the time I go to bed and I hate that!  The sauce only had a spoonful of soured cream in it so it was relatively low fat but really tasty.  I usually stick just to sweet potato fries but we had a baking potato lying around so we chopped that up too.  The 'chips' are just sprayed with Fry Light and baked.

21.00 - The Protein Works Vanilla Micellar Casein Powder with Alpro Almond Coconut Milk (129 calories).

I'm now just about to tuck into a Micellar Casein shake - I get the Vanilla Creme flavour from The Protein Works and have it with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk.  Casein Protein is useful to have before bed as it's slow burning and helps with muscle recovery overnight.  It's a nice one to have at bedtime as it really helps me wind down for the evening.

Total: 1338 calories (just under my usual calorie goal).  

Do you use MyFitnessPal? Is this similar to your daily food intake? (BUT totally each to their own - what works for me might not work for you and so on, I just thought I'd share my day as I like to be nosy about what other people eat!)

The pleasure of losing things

I am fastidious about the contents of my handbag.  The usual stuff is in there, of course.  And a few extras thrown in because I don't like to get caught out - notebook and pen, green tea teabags, a few more pens, mints, hair grips - the paraphernalia of a stationery lover who frequently has messy hair. One thing I always carry with me is a small make-up bag.  Its contents include (but are not limited to) hand cream, lip salve, lipstick, mini perfume, mini hair oil, wet wipes, and a tube of bonjela that has been in there for so long that I'm nervous to take it out lest karma immediately gifts me with a 'serves you right' mouth ulcer.

This make-up bag is a sort of comfort blanket.  A warm reassuring hand on the shoulder that tells me that, should I be invited to some sort of impromptu soiree after work, I don't have to decline the invitation, but rather can arrive smelling of & Other Stories Arabesque Wood, with a slick of Mac Fabby on my lips (and any mouth irritations deftly soothed).  Actually I often do find myself going to see a friend, or popping for a quick drink after work; and so this make-up bag is in frequent use (I lose count of the amount of times I find myself trying to pack both my gym bag for before work, and a further change of clothes for after work - hashtag 'all my friends live in the city I work in but don't live in problems').  On one afternoon I found myself in the work toilets; exchanging a shift dress for skinny jeans, re-doing my makeup and generally spreading most of my belongings across all four sinks.  A lift and a short walk to the pub with a work colleague later and I dug my hand in my handbag only to find it more roomy than usual.  My comfort blanket had been snuck from my shoulders - and the make-up bag was gone.  My go-to move at this point is to involve almost everyone I know or have ever met in my personal minuscule drama, and so it was that a group of my work colleagues discussed several options to aid in the location and retrieval of the make-up bag - including phone-calls or drives back to the office (which we then realised had shut), returning to my car to perform an intensive search to see if I had deposited it there before leaving, and contacting various locations that I had visited since the make-up bag's last known position.  In the end the most popular conclusion was the less than reassuring but probably fairly sensible adage of 'it will probably just turn up' - and I resigned myself to the fact that I might never see my precious make-up bag again.  I imagined it in the hands of some new owner; gleefully slathering themselves in L'Occitane Shea Butter hand cream, and smelling strongly of Arabesque Wood (should one be able to identify what such a scent might entail).

img credit: notonthehighstreet

The next day I made it my personal mission to get back what was rightfully mine.  My handbag lopped sadly at the sides without the make-up bag to provide its stuffing, and I realised that any invitations to impromptu soirees would currently have to be disappointedly declined.  The make-up bag was not in my car, my friend's car, or the work toilets.  Further enquiries generated unsatisfactory dead ends.  This story does have a happy ending however (I know it may be tugging on your heartstrings so I shan't keep you hanging on much longer).  The make-up bag had been handed in to our Front Desk, and I was reunited with it by lunchtime.  I felt positively gleeful.  I immediately contacted all of my friends, who had been enquiring, concerned, as to whether it had been found.  I placed it on my desk and smiled lovingly at it for the remainder of the day; happy that it was once more back in my life (and my handbag).

This has happened several times recently.  Items that I thought I had lost, have been found.  Things I thought were broken, have been fixed.  Belongings I had lent out and long forgotten have been returned.  There is somehow a great pleasure in having something almost slip away from you, and then be able to grasp them again.  Perhaps because we grow so used to having things and owning things in such large volumes that we no longer really experience the thrill of becoming attached to something.  When you are a child you save your pocket money for a toy that you then love so hard you rub the fur from it.  Love that wears the wheels down, love that rumples the pages, love that leaves chocolate coated fingerprints.  

And then we get older and we chase that thrill of the newness and wonder of ownership; loading up shopping baskets and receiving unending packages in the post.  But it is dulled somehow.  I've lost count of the amount of times I find a dress in the back of a wardrobe with the tags still on that I've completely forgotten I'd bought.  Perhaps it is only by losing things, having them taken away or broken, that we reignite that desire.  How often does that happen in life too? That old chestnut trotted out - you don't know what you've got until it's gone.  Love, comfort, convenience, make-up bags, etc.

I suppose the only way to spark that joy is to be grateful for those things you have, and not to devalue that gratitude by overproduction; to dumb it down with excess.  There is a lot that can be said for owning fewer things, and for placing value on the things we really do love and enjoy.  And making sure we tell them often.  People, or make-up bags.  But people especially.

The one minute miracle stress reliever

There's an old Zen proverb that says that "you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day.  Unless you are too busy to do so, in which case you should sit for an hour".  I must admit that despite how good meditation makes me feel, I never seem to find the time to do it.  I've long been looking for a stress-busting activity that helps me chill out but isn't another task to add to the to-do list.  One of my worst habits is finding things to feel guilty about, or reasons to be cross with myself - and my lack of time to dedicate to yoga, meditation and self-care just feels like another thing I've been failing at for a really long time.

It's probably no secret that I've suffered with stress and overwhelm in the past.  On days when I'm putting in long hours in the office, getting stuck in traffic on the way home and then have a to-do-list as long as my arm to come home to, I really start to feel things getting on top of me.  I've not always been great at finding balance in my life and sometimes I look in my diary and realise I've made plans every night and weekend for a couple of weeks in a row, and then instantly feel all worked up as to how I'll possibly keep on top of everything without running myself into the ground.  These are, of course, the times when I need a meditation practice or a yoga class the most, but instead I find myself running from place to place with no time for myself, falling into bed exhausted but lying there wide awake thinking of all of the things I ought to be doing.

They say that 'when the student is ready, the teacher appears', and one day as I was spending my lunch break organising my Google Calendar and responding to blogging emails, a rather intriguing one popped into my inbox.  Enter Katie Brindle - founder of a method of self-care and stress relief called the Hayo-u Method (as well as an expert in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine).  I quickly set up a Skype call with Katie to find out more about Hayo-u and how it could help me.  Katie had offered to talk through my specific health issues and relationship but stress - but all of the Hayo-u methods, tips and techniques are all available for free on her website and instagram.  But wait! Don't skip over there quite yet - let me tell you a bit more.

Katie quickly explained that hundreds of years ago, when we were all spending our days making fires, hunting and running away from sabre-toothed tigers, our stress hormones would flood our bodies to help our muscles work faster so that we could escape from predators.  But in modern times, we don't have these 'one off threats' (no woolly mammoths lurking at the bus stop or the water cooler), and so instead we receive a build-up of smaller stressors all day; through our mobile phones, office politics, emails constantly pinging in and incessant notifications on social media.  This means that our stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) are hitting us over and over again in almost a drip feed effect.  This constant drip, drip, drip is wearing us down, and inevitably leads to health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, lack of sleep, tiredness through the day, hair loss, indigestion, irregular periods, joint aches and pains and many more complaints, all of which can be tracked back to our relationship with stress.

img credit: poppiesandpines

Katie explained that, in the health information I shared before the appointment, I mentioned that I had difficulty falling asleep, regularly experienced bloating and indigestion, have irregular periods and previously spent two weeks in hospital with an ulcerated oesophagus (I'm sure many of you can identify with some of these issues).  These are all 'modern day illnesses' that Western medicine doesn't traditionally have a fix for, because although I can take sleeping tablets, drink camomile tea, try and avoid white bread and find other solutions for, I'm not dealing with the source of these problems, which is all of the stresses in my life. 

Chinese medicine however does have a solution to help us overcome these stresses and eradicate the health issues that are generated from being bombarded and overwhelmed throughout the day.  Katie has designed the Hayo-u Method, which is made up of rituals that all of us can do on a daily basis.  Just like brushing our teeth, undertaking two one-minute exercises a day can act as a preventative, slowly building up over time to recede these symptoms and help us respond better to stress.  The two one-minute rituals that Katie asked me to try were a breathing exercise and a drumming ritual - more on these below.

Katie explained to me that the antidote to stress is 'the breath' (which immediately reminded me of a yoga class I went to once where they explained that the breath is our 'anchor' to the earth and a way to ground ourselves during difficult moments).  Katie pointed me towards her instagram account where you can find a video of the breathing practice she recommends (shared below) and explained that you can practice this daily, as well as enlisting this breathing immediately when you experience a feeling of stress.

The reason this works is that (as I mentioned earlier), stress produces the hormones cortisol and adrenaline - and when these flood our bodies this creates a toxic, acidic environment which is obviously counter-productive for our health.  But bringing in oxygen by using this technique immediately alkalises it and stops you from creating that acidic state.  This creates the opposite of the 'fight or flight' experience, filling you with calm, as well as massaging the key organs, strengthening and nourishing them.

A video posted by Hayo'u (@thehayoumethod) on

This second exercise is a movement exercise which (just like with the breathing exercise) removes the levels of acidity from your muscles.  This exercise moves the build-up of toxicity from our muscles and joints and moves them into the lymphatic system, where it can be eliminated.  (This is so much fun - you are literally bashing the negativity and stress out of your body). 

A video posted by Hayo'u (@thehayoumethod) on

I explained to Katie that upon seeing this exercise it really resonated with me, because when I get really stressed and overwhelmed I have this unconscious habit of almost 'flicking' my fingers as if I were trying to flick water at someone - I barely even know I'm doing it but it's clear that it's my bodies way of trying to break down all of the stress hormones and release the nervous energy! So I couldn't wait to get started with this ritual, especially knowing that it was what my body had been crying out for for all this time instinctively anyway.  Just learning more about these rituals and the reasons behind them began to make so much sense - and I couldn't wait to swap my current ritual of checking my phone in the morning and answering a few emails, for a practice that was going to set me up for the day and help me find both short-term and long-term health benefits.

So - on Katie's advice I decided to spend a minute each day on both of these exercises.  Always wanting to be the star pupil, I decided to start each day and end each day with both exercises (I could just about spare four minutes!), so when I wake up I will do the breathing exercise, and then when I get out of bed I do the 'drumming' exercise (and the same before I get into bed at night).  Of course the thing about rituals that only take a minute is, you find yourself doing them more, and so the breathing exercise in particular I have found myself doing constantly.  In the car on the way home from work I spend about ten minutes just doing the breathing exercise over and over - and even though I'm probably doing it whilst I'm listening to music, I still ensure I do it 'mindfully' - listening to my breath and feeling everything slow down and shift.  Katie said that this exercise "brings us inside of our bodies, helping us feel in charge and masterful, and centering us" and this has entirely been my experience.  On a stressful day at work I will do this exercise over and over on the way home (I also do it whilst at work, just by breathing mindfully at my desk or nipping into a meeting room and undertaking the full exercise) and I can just feel the stress ebbing away.

As soon as I'm home from work I then do the drumming exercise, usually in the kitchen whilst making dinner.  I'm not going to lie - it is so much fun just flinging yourself around, and I can literally feel any energy that's built up during the day just flowing out of me.  It never fails to put a smile on my face, and my body feels really good afterwards, in the same way that I do after a yoga class (but this time just from a ritual that only has to last a minute).  I thought I would feel silly doing it, but it feels so good that it's difficult to worry about 'looking cool'.

img credit unknown: contact for removal

It probably comes as no surprise given the immediate effects of the rituals, that the longer term benefits have also been astounding.  One day a couple of weeks ago I climbed into bed and realised I felt totally different and couldn't put my finger on why.  I subsequently realised that I had reached the end of the day feeling calm, refreshed and settled throughout.  Rather than experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the day, from frustration at work to worry about my overflowing inbox, I had just felt stable and serene, flowing from one place to the next.  I also realised that I haven't experienced back or neck pains in some weeks, something that used to be a constant from working in an office and coming home to fire up the laptop.  I've also become more mindful of what I eat and drink - realising that after a stressful day, coming home to a glass of wine (which is acidic and can add to the toxicity caused by the build-up of stress) and a bar of chocolate isn't always the best solution. I've definitely been trying to listen to my body more; breathing, shaking, drumming, twisting and stretching whenever I think it needs it, as well as trying to build other healthy habits, like reading before bed instead of checking my phone, and having breaks from social media.

It feels so amazing to have found a ritual and a habit that helps me so much and yet takes so little time - how often in life does that happen?  I would massively recommend these rituals to everyone - and please let me know if you do start doing them, would love to know how you feel!

You can watch Katie's morning ritual video on YouTube, find out more about the rituals on her website and read Katie's blog posts for more on stress and Chinese medicine.