GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the tag “weight loss”

The scales

Hi there!

This won’t be a long post but hopefully help some people who, like me, tie too much relevance to the a number on the scales!

I decided to weight myself everyday I worked out for a week to see the fluctuations. I weighed myself directly after my workout! Here are the results;

Tuesday 54.4kg
Wednesday 54.6kg
Thursday 54.2kg
Friday 54.5kg
Saturday 54.6kg
Sunday 54.5kg

As you can see my weight never stayed steady, nor did it continuously increase or decrease. I went up and down throughout the week. These numbers were from last week and today I weighed in at 54.7kg (I usually weigh myself every Friday whilst I’m putting on weight, to make sure I don’t lose anymore). The key thing to notice here is that the scales aren’t everything! If you are looking to lose weight, then use the scales occassionally to ensure you’re staying on track but don’t use only the scales.
Take measurements of your waist, thighs, chest etc. These will be a better indicator if whether you’re shifting any excess fat whilst maintaining muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat so the numbers on the scales won’t give you any form of decent indication as to your overall health when you get to a point were muscle mass becomes more important than your fat.

Also, don’t just rely on measurements and numbers. Set performance goals like running a 5k in 30 minutes, squatting x amount of kilos, completing a Tough Mudder. All of these little goals can not only help you see improvement but can help keep you motivated.

Scales are inherently unrealiable and can make us feel rubbish!

Have an absolute blast this weekend guys, hope the weather is as nice as it is here in Madrid!

Gym Bug

How I drastically cut my 10km run time

Hi there!

When I started running consistently it was during my Christmas break of 2012. I had put on weight in first year (the ‘fresher’s fifteen’) and was really uncomfortable with how my clothes felt and how unfit I was generally. I started running with my dad who had been at it for a while. When I ran my first 10k it was brutal. My time was around 1 hour 15 minutes. It was a struggle the whole way and my evening was spent with me on the couch. It was here I realised just how unfit I had been.

I started running regularly and more and more I started to enjoy my Dad’s and I’s Sunday 10k sessions. By Christmas 2013 we were running 12k’s and made the mistake of doing a 16k too (no one won that one). Our 10k always hovered around the 1 hour mark. My dad is over 50, so we never pushed it.

Fast forward to Summer 2014. I went on a family holiday to Nerja (below you see the view from our villa, which indicates the length of the hill I had to run up). It was here my sister introduced me to hill sprints. Brutal, heart-pounding hill sprints. We only had to do roughly 20-30 minutes to be as worn out as a solid 45 minute run! I fell in love with the new high intensity element, something that I had generally lacked in my running. I continued to do hill sprints when I got home over the summer and I noticed my 10k runs with my Dad were becoming easier and easier (but not faster, because my Dad is over 50, I was warned).

I joined a gym within my first couple of weeks of moving to Madrid for a year abroad for University. I started off with just using the bike, doing some intervals and things. Then I went onto the treadmill and slowly started incorporating more and more intervals and HIIT into my cardio. I now combine HIIT on the treadmill and the bike for 2 cardio sessions a week, I do about 45 minutes each session.
Important; my first stint in Madrid was September-December, and I lost far too much weight. A key part of this was doing too much HIIT and not fuelling my body properly. Even with weight training I ended up being scrawny and unhealthy. If you do HIIT, ensure you’re fuelling your body correctly too. This means good carbs, protein and fats.

Now, onto Christmas 2014. I was limited to my exercise routine because I was putting on weight (because it was absolutely necessary). However, I did go out with my Dad for a 10k during my tme at home. The second we were out the car he said ‘Just you go on and run at your own pace’. I initially resisted, because I enjoyed the time we spent together running, but he refuses to accept it wasn’t my fault we ran a 16k!
It ended up being a mistake anyway, I ran so far ahead he tried to reduce the distance between us and pushed himself to far. However, I ran 11k in 57 minutes! I couldn’t believe it. I thought back to what caused my sudden incrase in speed and realised it was the HIIT. Whilst I did not fuel myself, my fitness and times improved dramatically (the lack of fuel is really bad and embarassing, I’m not endorsing my stupidity, if you do HIIT or speed work, fuel it right)!

My most recent 10k which I did on a treadmill clocked in at 47 mins 35 seconds. I altered my incline and speed throughout to achieve this and I wasn’t wiped out by the end! (I was tired, don’t get me wrong).

So, after this long (hopefully not boring) story, what’s my point? My point is if you want to cut your time and improve your fitness, logging kilometers and kilometers of steady running will not do it quite the same as using HIIT, hill sprints and lots of intervals. You need to speed train to improve your times!

Here’s an example of what you could do on a treadmill;

Warm-Up; 5 minutes at 9km/h

Sprint; 1 minute at 13-15km/h (wherever you feel you won’t come flying off the treadmill)

Rest; 1 minute at 9km/h

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Cool-Down; 5 minutes starting at 9km/h then reducing by 0.5km/h every minute.

I do this often, I also mix it up with inclines in place of a sprint. The point is to challenge your body and your speed. You also don’t need to workout for as ong when doing HIIT because your sending your heartrate into a higher zone (if done correctly. Check out my HIIT post for more information on HIIT and routines!

Gym Bug

Basal Metabolic Rate

Hi there!

This is a post you’ll find on my old blog. I’m re-posting because I still think it’s important, that whilst this is NOT a full-blown accurate measure, it might give you a general ide of where you’re at roughly. You will also see I’ve added a new category titled “learning”. Here I shall share interesting bits of information that could help all of us lead healthier lifestyles.

So, I see a lot of things flying around about foods & exercises that boost your metabolism. It got me thinking. What is my basal metabolic rate (BMR)? You can get this professionally tested, which is the most accurate, however, it can be very expensive. I did a bit of research and I found a calculation in a book I own called “Sports Nutrition for Women” by Anita Bean (it’s brilliant).

BMR is the number of calories burned during rest that enables your body to continue to function (heartbeat, breathing, maintaining body temperature etc.)  This can really useful to know when trying to keep fit and healthy as it gives an indication of the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain/lose/gain weight.

The quick calculation is as follows (for women);
BMR= weight in kg x 22

If I do that I get my BMR is  1265, however, this doesn’t take into account your PAL (Physical Activity Level). So Anita Bean also provides a slightly more lengthy calculation that gives a marginally more accurate result, it’s as follows;

BMR= 665 + (9.6 x W) + (1.8 x H) – (4.7 x A)

Where W=weight in kg H=height in cm A=age in years

Once you have calculated your BMR you need to multiply that by your PAL, which you can workout as follows;

PAL                             Description                                           Example

1                                      Inactive                                                    Sleeping/lying down
1.2                                  Sedentary                                                 Mainly sitting/ desk job
1.5                                  Moderately active                                   Some walking
1.7                                  Active                                                        Daily walking/ gentle exercise
2.0                                 Very active                                                Moderate daily training or sport
2.2                                  Extremely active                                     Strenuous daily training or sport

I calculated mine with a PAL of 2.1, I believe I am very active (exercise 6 days a week) but I would describe is between moderate and strenuous, so I went for in between 2.0 and 2.2. My result is 2927 calories. I’m not going to lie, it’s surprising and a lot. The difficulty is in estimating your PAL, it’s not an easy thing to judge at all. I would say to ask yourself and then ask others. Ask people who knows your workout regime/intensity, then compare with yours and go for in between.

All in all, if you want a general idea of roughly how much you should be consuming to lose/maintain/gain weight then this is a good place to start, but take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not accurate and humans are notorious for overestimating their activity level (I could be way off). If you want a more accurate BMR reading then go and speak to your GP and ask about getting an accurate BMR reading.

Take a look at Anita Bean’s books on Amazon. She has loads on sport nutrition for everyone and books on weight training and exercise, she’s written excellent books for the general human being, not just professional athletes.

In terms of carbohydrate consumption you should be looking at roughly 5-7g per kg body weight on low-moderate training days and 7-10g per kg body weight for high intensity days.

For protein if you’re an endurance athlete aim for between 1.2-1.4g per kg body weight per day. If you’re a strength athlete, it’s a bit more, about 1.4-1.7g per kg body weight. Here, you could look at protein shakes.

Again, please let me emphasize, if you get a reading for 3,000 calories, chances are it’s slightly above. But you also shouldn’t then consume 1,200 calories. You’ll know if you’re eating enough depending on how you feel and whether you’re gaining muscle, fat or becoming skeletal.

Take it one day at a time, some won’t be as good as others, but don’t give up, you’ll get there. I, for example, just scoffed a 200g cadbury dairy milk in 3 days flat, but it was delicious.

Gym Bug

Fat- What’s going on

Hi there!

As I’ve mentioned before, I hit a low point in my life where I lost too much weight. I was boney, drawn and pale. A key issue (as pointed out by my sister) was my lack of fats in my diet. Unfortunately, I had fallen victim to the villainisation of fats in the media. All the hype about having a low fat diet to be healthy had more of an effect than I’d realised and I had not only reduced by intake of saturated fat, but of the healthy fats my body needs to function properly. So, let’s take a look at fats.

Saturated Fat
This is considered as something we should try cut down on. Recently, there’s been stories flying around the media about saturated fat is actually not as bad as previously thought. Saturated fat has forever been associated with weight gain and is found in processed foods, meats, butter, cheese, cream and confectionary. We’re always told not to eat too much. For example, the British Dietic Association recommends no more than 30g per day for males and no more than 20g per day for females. Whilst there are numerous opinions regarding saturated fats and the negative health implications high consumption has, there is no sound, scientific evidence supporting them.
I view saturated fats as something to consume in moderation. I can enjoy a cheeseburger once in a while, or a chocolate bar but not four. I think more research needs to be done into saturated fats, especially whether there is a causal relationship between high consumption and disease.
Please do not take this as an excuse to chow down on fatty meats and not be concerned about putting on weight. Fats are high in calories, and excessive consumption may lead to unhealthy weight gain! Also fatty deposits in your arteries.

Trans Fat
Another fat not to indulge excessively in. This type of fat is found naturally (in low levels) in meat and dairy products and found in foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil. There are associations between trans fats and raised cholesterol, so it is recommended nt to consume more than 2g per day (for an adult). Good news is a lot of food manufacturers have removed hydrogetaed vegetable oils from products, so we don’t actually consume a lot of it!

Unsaturated Fat
We like this one, we need this one. These are the healthy fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. They’re categorised as mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. These provides our bodies with nutrient for basic function. Eating these fats can also help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. It also helps you from looking like a gaunt ghostly character (as I discovered).

Fat, like carbohydrates and proteins, should be an integral part of our diet. The key is balance. You need to try maximise your intake of unsaturated fats and limit your intake of saturated/trans fats. It’s better for your health to consume 200 calories of nuts than it is of chocolate, so try and make healthy  choices that help try maintain this balance. Ofcourse, don’t cut the “bad” fats out completely, have a cookie or a chocolate bar or a burger but try maintain a balance. It’s all about moderation.

Also, remember fats are high in calories, so watch portion sizes even with the unsaturated fats. Too many calories means weight gain and that can be unhealthy in some circumstances, especially if it is excessive weight gain.

Here are some healthy snacks with healthy fats that I enjoy;

  • Avocado on wholegrain toast
  • A handful of mixed nuts and seeds
  • Olives
  • Olive oil based dressings
    A firm family favourite is simple 2 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, clove of garlic (not peeled or chopped but lightly squashed) and pepper

Just keep it in balance and try get a wide, varied diet to ensure you get all your nutrients for a healthy lifestyle! Simples. (I wish)

Gym Bug

Weights in a workout

Hi there!

So, about 1 year ago I went to the gym with my older sister (who will be doing a special post about Cross Fit soon). It was Christmas holidays at the time and I had returned a little bit on the lighter side. I had just started rowing and the competition was intense, and it saw many weekly weigh ins and “weight adjusted times”, essentially my worst nightmare. I watched my weight plummet from a healthy 64kg to 54kg in a shocking space of time. I was in trouble from my family. I wasn’t “underweight” but I wasn’t a healthy weight either. The speed of the weight loss was also a negative factor. I didn’t look good; I had no curves, was a bit drawn, pale, tired, boney, etc. It wasn’t good, I turned it around it though when my sister introduced to me to weight lifting.
Now, initially I thought “But I don’t want to get super muscly”, I can’t even believe I’d thought it, it was a silly thought. My sister promptly put me right as well.
The issue is that I will not be the only one who thought that and people will still think it today. Something everyone should understand is weight lifting will NOT make you look like a body builder unless you force it to. Body builders take things to induce that kind of muscle definition.

Studies have shown that by just introducing 2 weight lifting sessions into your workout can vastly improve metabolic rate. Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat! You can get toned, lean muscles with burns more calories than fat, so you get increased metabolism and a healthier physique.

Now, when I say weight lifting, I don’t necessarily mean pumping iron with the big boys who are huffing and puffing with their giant olympic bars. You can use the controlled weights (which I do). You also don’t need to lift excessively heavy. Here’s one of my weight lifting sessions as an example;
Note; 3 sets 12 x 20kg = 3 sets of 12 repetitions at 20kg)

  • Seated Cable Row (Upper back); 3 sets of 12 x 20kg
  • Leg Press (Thighs, glutes, calves); 3 sets 10 x 100kg
  • Easy Delts Pull Ups (Centre back, biceps, shoulders); 3 sets 12 x 30kg
    (It’s an assisted pull ups machine, you select a ‘supporting’ weight, so I’m supported by 25kg, so I’m pulling 35kg of my own body weight)
  • Calf Rotations (Calves); 3 sets 15 x 40kg
  • Easy Delts Tricep Dips (Triceps, chest); 3 sets 12 x 35kg
    (Here I use the same machine as pull ups but I’m going down, in a tricep dip motion)
  • Lower back (Lower back); 3 sets 15 x 1kg
  • Shoulder press (Shoulders(; 3 sets 15 x 15kg
  • Plank (Core); 3 sets 15 seconds
  • Bicep curls; 3 sets 12 x 20kg
  • Oblique crunch with kettlebell (Obliques); 6 sets 15 x 16kg (3 sets each side)
  • Arm extension (Triceps); 3 sets 12 x 40kg
  • Reverse crunch (Lower abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
  • Chest press (Chest, shoulders, triceps); 3 sets 12 x 20kg
  • Bicycle crunches (Abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
  • Lat Machine (Lats, or the muscle around your ribs, back); 3 sets 10 x 35kg

This kind of workout takes me roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure to stretch after!

Now, I used lift free weights; squatting, deadlifting, bent over rows, cable flys etc but I stopped once I got injured and have found that I save time by using the controlled weights. Time I need to save to fit in studying and things, but body weight or free weights are great ways of developing strong, lean muscles too. A key thing to be aware of with controlled weights however is that you don’t plateau. You’ve got to move out your comfort zone and increase the weights to see a difference and improve toning!

As always though, if you’re unsure about anything ask instructors and trainers. It can be very dangerous if you start lifting without proper technique, even using the controlled weights. If it’s your first time, don’t go for what you think you can lift, go a couple of kilos below that, make sure you’ve nailed the technique, then focus on lifting more. Practice makes perfect.

If you become super serious about weight training and do it often, also make sure you’re packing the protein to maintain muscles and aid recovery. I currently use My Protein Chocolate Smooth Impact Whey. It comes in a fantastic range of flavours and students get 10% if they go through My Student Beans and have an active University account.

So that’s it! Weights are a great way to mix up a workout as well. I alternate between a cardio day and a weights day to keeps things interesting. Tomorrow will be a weights day for example. It breaks up the monotony of cardio, and since doing solid cardio got me in trouble last year it has helped me put on weight. However, I’ll admit I’ve lost too much again, but I’m working on sorting that. Packing my protein and healthy fats!

I’ll make sure to do a post about body weight exercises soo for those who don’t use a gym.

Have a great week everyone!

Gym Bug

P.S Any machines names you didn’t know, check out Technogyms list of products to see photos, my gym (and many, many others) stock their products, so it’s likely you’ll have access to similar machines at your gym.

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