I practice what I preach when it comes to nutrition…..

Nutrition is key to success whether it be in sports performance or weight loss. I get asked regularly to share what I eat with my clients to help inspire them with their diet. I don’t cut anything out from my nutrition and instead I have everything in moderation. Control is not something I have always had over my diet, as a teenager, for 7 years I suffered from an eating disorder.  I was severely under weight, food controlled my life and I did anything I could to avoid eating. Now, I appreciate the value of a healthy, balanced diet and the importance it has on my mental well being and active lifestyle as a mother and personal trainer.  

As a mother, I hope my son and daughter enjoy their food and have different cultural influences, expanding their experience and knowledge in order to make informed decisions about what is a healthy diet. As a personal trainer, I want my clients to identify the importance food has on improving their mental and physical health and and reduce the risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancers and obesity;  all of which are on the increase in the UK and associated with poor diets and lack of exercise.

All clients with Fit + Fabulous complete food diaries on an online application which I monitor and analyse weekly. My analysis is based on UK government and NHS guidelines in conjunction with my knowledge of sports nutrition. I am looking for each client to gain an understanding of portion sizes, food groups (fats and sweets; dairy; meat fish and alternatives; fruit; vegetables and pulses grains and cereals) and macros (protein, fat and carbohydrate). Each client depending on their energy intake are allocated a recommended portion amount per food group which replaces counting calories. All of this is related to weight loss or enhancing sports performance.

For the last week I completed my own food diary to give an example of what I persevere as a balanced diet for an active female with my build. I class myself as very active, doing at least an hour of moderate to intense exercise per day. My macros change daily depending on the exercise I undertake, for example on the days I lift weights my protein levels will increase to help aid recovery and build muscle.  Portion sizes are not given as this would be individualised depending on your personal statistics. Please note that this is for example purposes only and not to be copied. Please get in touch for your own personal analysis.

Monday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, wholemeal bread, tea with milk

Snack: Cashew and brazil nuts with dried mixed berries and coffee

Lunch: Giant couscous and quinoa salad and oven baked chicken breast

Snack: 4 seafood sticks, peanut butter with breadsticks and coffee

Dinner: Pasta in a home made tomato and spinach sauce with chicken and green beans

Snack: Melon and grapes

Tuesday

Breakfast: Weetabix minis fruit and nut, skimmed milk and tea with milk

Snack: Sunflower and pumpkin seed mix, 300mls skimmed milk and banana protein shake

Lunch: Spiced lentil warm salad with breast of chicken and mango

Snack: Black grapes, peanuts, banana and coffee

Dinner: Baked salmon fillet, sweet potato, broccoli, peas and mangetout

Wednesday

Breakfast: 2 poached eggs, wholemeal bread, tea with milk

Snack: Carrots, sweet peas and low fat hummus, coffee

Lunch: Homemade chicken and vegetable soup with wholemeal bagel and banana

Snack: Frozen strawberries, raspberries and pineapple, 300mls skimmed milk protein shake, coffee

Dinner: Homemade lasagna with mixed vegetable medley

Snack: Dark chocolate and ginger biscuit with green tea

Thursday

Breakfast: 2 poached eggs, wholemeal bread and tea with milk

Snack: Apple, brazil and cashew nuts with dried berries, coffee

Lunch: Oatcakes, homemade smoked mackerel pate with cherrie tomatoes and mixed leaves

Dinner: breast of chicken, bulgar wheat and bean salad with sweetcorn, peas and carrots

Snack: Grapes, melon and green tea

Friday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs on wholemeal bagel and tea with milk

Snack: melon and avocado with coffee

Lunch: Brie, cranberry and bacon wholemeal seeded toasty with side salad

Snack: Homemade banana loaf and coffee

Dinner: Homemade beef and mixed bean chili, basmati rice, corn chips with cheese and 250ml glass of red wine

Saturday

Breakfast: Eggs Benedict and glass fresh orange

Snack: 1/2 danish pastry with coffee

Lunch: New potato, prawn and avocado salad

Snack: Cashew and peanuts with coffee

Dinner: Homemade tuna stir fry with egg noodles and 300ml of white wine followed by creme brulee

Sunday

Brunch: Grilled tomato, portobello mushroom, 1 slice bacon, 2 scrambled eggs with coffee

Snack: Mixed berries and seed protein smoothie

Dinner: Homemade fish pie with peas and crusty bread

As you can see I try and eat a variety of foods from each food group to ensure that I am getting as much vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables and the appropriate amount of non saturated fats, proteins and carbohydrates I need to fuel and recover from exercise.  Drinking water regularly throughout the day also helps me feel hydrated, carries those essential nutrients to the working muscles and avoids me mistaking thirst for hunger.  I eat every 3-4 hours a day to avoid fatigue from drop in blood glucose levels. This helps me curb any cravings for high sugar foods. I eat a mixture of low to high glucose index foods to ensure I get enough fiber in my diet and when required quickly replace carbohydrates that I burn through exercise.  glucoseindex.com

The following chart gives a good indication to what the UK guidelines are for tallying up your own portions per food groups to see if you are getting a healthy balanced diet.

foodIf you would like further information on macros or portion sizes or have any comments regarding the blog please get in touch as I’m keen to hear from you.

My prep in popping the ultra cherry…

I’m training for my first ultra-marathon, 33 miles of scenic Perthshire Scotland in the Glen Ogle 33 on the 5th November. It’s mostly cycle paths, forest paths and some B roads and a great race to pop your ultra-cherry….so I’ve been told!

I was out running 18 miles on Wednesday and followed that with another 10 miles yesterday and I was thinking about what knowledge I have built along the way that I would offer others who are thinking about taking on this distance. Here goes my top tips:

  • Run on the terrain that you are running on race day. I have tried to train on a mixture of road and trail with plenty hills as this reflects Glen Ogle 33. It helps build confidence and prepares the feet, ankles and legs for the big day. My shorter runs I have picked hilly road routes and the longer ones used local trails such as Mugdock, West Highland Way and Kilpatrick Hills.
  • Knowledge is power! Talk to as many, more experienced runners as you can and take from them what you will. Runners love to talk running so listen to the guys that have experience in this field; it’s a unique talent. I found that most ultra-runners have tried various foods, hydration methods, clothing and footwear and it takes time to establish what works as it is very personal. What works for one doesn’t always work for another however you need to be open minded and give tings a try early in your training.
  • Having a good training plan is vital to achieving the distance and time that you want to do on the day. 33 miles is not much more than a marathon so you can train similarly to that of 26 miles or back to back training. I chose back to back training as this suited my lifestyle. I love spreadsheets so I planned a training plan over 12 weeks where I mapped an ascending pyramid of miles up to 50 miles per week with my long run on a Wednesday followed by half the distance on the Thursday and two shorter runs throughout the week. I was already running an average of 30 miles per week before I started training.
  • Don’t neglect strength training, stretching and your roller. Training for an ultra is about being on your feet for as much as possible and getting used to long distances however you are more likely to pick up injuries along the way. Squats, lunges, dead lifts and core has been centre of my strength training once a week. Additionally, after the shorter runs I have been stretching my hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and hip flexors as much as possible and using my roller – it helps and doesn’t actually take too long to do!
  • Practice eating and hydrating on your long runs and start early so you get the right fit for you. The perk, for me, running for hours is eating. I have tried rice pudding, bananas, dried fruit, cereal bars, sandwiches, specific running powders and gels over the weeks and think I’ve settled for bananas, rice pudding and gels. Additionally, electrolytes in my water are vital to keep your mineral balance correct like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate and magnesium. How much water? That has so many variable factors and is unique to the individual. I like to weigh myself before and after my long runs to check my consumption has been adequate.
  • Practice wearing your race day kit and make sure you have the right shoes for the terrain. There is nothing worse than having blisters from poor fitted shoes or clothes that rub; think of that over 33 miles! Weather can be unpredictable in Scotland so preparing for all seasons is vital, especially for a race in November. I’m wearing road shoes that have ran 300 miles; they still have adequate support and a better match than trail shoes for the terrain. Is inevitable that blisters and sweat sores will happen for most runners but try and minimise this happening early on by making sure you are wearing the right gear.
  • Have a picture of the elevation and course and split it into sections. On the wall in my study is a picture of the elevation, sectioned into 5 mile splits with an average speed for each split. It will allow me to visualise the route on the day and make it more manageable mentally. I always go to fast at the start of my races and by doing this it has helped me pace better and prevent burn out. If I don’t stick to plan A I have a plan B so I don’t get disheartened if I don’t achieve my goal.
  • Read The Chimp Paradox: Steve Peters. A more experienced ultra-runner told me to read this book when I told him I was doing my first ultra. I have read the book before and it helped me in the past with a very difficult time in my family life. It has helped again! When I have struggled on the long training runs and wanted to cut them short I was able to box my chimp (I named him Charles) and carry on; when I didn’t want to get up early to run and wanted to stay in bed, I boxed my chimp! There are some very useful methods of coping in this book for all walks of life.
  • Enjoy it!

Cut your food bill on Superfoods…..

Goji berries, chia seeds, coconut oil, kale and quinoa are to name a few that have been branded superfoods in the recent years. Promising to be cancer protecting, immune boosting, protection against heart disease and helping burn more fat. They are expensive! 6 times more expensive than the alternatives.

Here is a list of cheaper alternatives to try out that and they offer the same health benefits:

  • Coconut oil         Rapesead oil or vegetable oil
  • Chia seeds          Pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds
  • Kale                      Cabbage or spring greens
  • Goji berries        Frozen summer fruits
  • Quinoa                Pearl barley

A few other foods that have claim to protect against heart disease and some cancers are:

  • Eggs – high in protein, vitamin A, D, E, K, B6 and B12 and inexpensive.
  • Oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardiens)- high in protein, omega-3 and vitamin D and B.
  • Blueberries- high in fiber, vitamins K and C and also high in antioxidants.

I like to tell my clients that food is like Batman and exercise like Robin; no matter how much exercise you do if your diet is not balanced and controlled you will struggle to meet your health goals.  Not sure if you are getting a good balanced diet and would like to have a food analysis done please get in touch. Fit + Fabulous will deconstruct your current diet and offer healthier suggestion to help you achieve your goal.

 

Fit + Fabulous top 5 running tips

1. Forget the glass slippers. I’m a sucker for exercise clothing! Generally, the clothing and footwear are very comfortable to wear due to the technical ability of the garment whether it be the flexibility, lightness or breath-ability. If there is one thing I suggest taking time over to purchase it’s footwear. I have 6 pairs of trainers in my wardrobe at the moment and all completely warranted (much to my husband’s disgust). I run on road, trail, cross country and track; all of which have different footwear and I have other pairs for training within the gym and studio environment.
For me, the correct footwear for running is key to help avoid injury and discomfort. There are many high street specific sport shops in Glasgow such as Achillies Heel, Sweat Shop and Run4It that will help you get the correct shoe to match your running style. Don’t scrimp on footwear, invest in your feet!
2. No ‘I’ in TEAM or maybe there is! When I first started running I did it on my own, two nights a week. After a few months I fatigued and I started to find reasons not to go out. I found a beginners running group at my local sports center and started running with them once a week to try and give me motivation. Guess what? It worked! Before long I needed to be pushed further so joined a local Running Club, Garscube Harriers and I have never looked back.
Running Clubs are an excellent way to get fit and meet like-minded people, they are substantially cheaper than a gym membership too. Having the company when training is an excellent way to stay motivated. There are running clubs for all abilities out there.
3. Get race day ready. Technology in all sports is moving at a fierce rate – Oh my, I sound old! GPS has added a new dimension for runners by helping to create an online social network, opening up new routes and helping runners set higher PBs. There are many applications that you can download onto your phone or watches that will keep you motivated by tracking your progress. I love going out a run and uploading my run from my Garmin onto Strava (there are other brands available). It enables me see how consistent I have run over the duration of time, highlight my achievements and set new targets.
The best motivation for me is booking a race in the diary, something to train for. There are a host of different races throughout the year across Scotland whether it be road, cross country, track, trail, hill or multi-sport races such as duathlons. Websites such as entrycentral.com and Scottishrunningguide.com make finding one easier.
4. Eat, drink, run, repeat. I know many runners who run on an empty stomach but let me tell you there are reasons why you need food and water before you run. Running is an aerobic activity and uses the food we eat to convert to energy. Energy is released into the body by the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The best sources of food to fuel the muscles in the presence of oxygen during aerobic exercise are carbohydrates and fats. Before a run I always stay hydrated by sipping water regularly and eat a snack an hour or more before a run. Carbohydrates feature high in my diet and even more so if I am training for a longer distance.
Dietary advice is something Fit + Fabulous really focuses on for all their clients. If you have any queries on what to eat to get the best from your running why not Contact Us?
5. Limber up and ease the throttle. When I started running and before I trained as a Personal Trainer I was not consistent with warming up and cooling down. Since doing it religiously it has made a huge difference to my performance, recovery and flexibility. Your warm up consists of a couple of components over 5 – 10 minutes so let’s break it down:
• Mobility – focus on releasing synovial fluid around the joints that are specific to running thus enabling smooth and easy joint movements and avoiding injury. This only takes 1-2 minutes to do. Try doing some shoulder shrugs, torso twists, side bends, abduct the hip joints and flex the knees before your run.
• Pulse-raising – warm up and increase blood flow to the working muscles and slowly elevate your heart rate. It is important to slowly elevate the intensity over 5 minutes or so until you are feeling moderately active and warm enough to do some pre-stretches. Your first kilometer should be your slowest one!
• Pre-stretches – should only be done after a warm up when the muscles are warm and held for very short periods of time such as 6-10 seconds if static or small range of movements if dynamic. This only takes 1-2 minutes of the warm up.
It is important to consider factors which affect a warm up such as environment, time of day, intensity of the session and your own level of ability. For example, if it is cold you may need a longer pulse raiser or if the session is going to be very demanding more time should be spent on the preparation to optimise the body’s readiness.
What about the cool down? It is just as important and should be done over about 10 – 15 minutes consisting of lowering the pulse and post-stretches. Again similar factors will affect the cool down but it can be summarised as:
• Pulse-lowering – involves tapering the run to lower your heart rate, reduce blood pooling and remove the metabolic waste products of the exercise (lactic acid, noradrenalin and carbon dioxide) from the muscle. It helps reduce delayed onset muscle soreness in the muscles the next day and improves recovery.
• Post-stretches – aims to maintain or increase the flexibility of the range of movement within the specific joints. The range of joint movement is critical to good performance. Maintenance (to maintain range of movement) stretches should be held for 15 seconds and developmental (to improve range of movement) should be done over 30 seconds, progressively deepening the stretch. I would strongly suggest stretching the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and Illiotibial band after a run to help avoid injury and improve performance.
I hope you find my top tips helpful. Any queries, please get in touch to find out more. Happy running!

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