10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Workouts

  1. Know your triggers for what makes you feel like you have had a successful workout. For me, if I am not sweating at the end of my workout, I don’t feel like it has been intense enough. Once you know how you rate your success, you can work with it. For example, rarely am I dripping with sweat after I have trained shoulders, so I incorporate a little circuit at the end of my workout to elevate my heart rate and induce some sweat!
  2. Fuel yourself. Ensure you are sufficiently fuelled for your workout. It is your time to make the most of the calories you have eaten and put them to use. Don’t starve yourself before exercising, but equally don’t gorge either. A balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates 2 – 3 hours before is my perfect pre-workout fuel.
  3. Activate your glutes. Whatever you are training, activate your glutes. Most of us spend a large proportion of our day sitting down on our glutes – they can get lazy! Bodyweight exercises with a resistance band are perfect to start off your workout and activate your glutes. My favourite glute activation exercises are; fire hydrants, glute bridges, curtsy lunges and abductor movement on a bench using the band. You can find plenty more online!
  4. Make yourself a playlist. Ensure that your music is what you are wanting to listen to so you are not spending your rest periods searching for a motivating track. This will help keep your rest periods short and focused.
  5. Change up your workouts! Don’t do the same thing all the time; my workout plans change monthly. This keeps me from being bored and also ensures I am progressing by having a wide array of exercises.
  6. Utilize a variety of training methods. I personally am better at endurance type training as opposed to anything with power and speed. Sets with lots of reps work with my style and I feel more in my comfort zone with these, but I also do train with heavier weights for fewer reps too. This enables me to develop strength and
  7. Leave your ego at the door. Gyms are a great place for meeting people with a wealth of knowledge. If someone approaches you to suggest improvements to your form or offer suggestions, take it as a compliment. They wouldn’t bother if they didn’t think you were worth their time.
  8. Watch other people. Now I don’t mean outright ogle at people exercising, but take note of what you like about what other people are doing in the gym and how they look. Personally, I am always in awe of peoples’ hamstrings and calves and often watch what they do to exercise these muscle groups. Utilize other peoples’ expertise to your advantage!
  9. Be at the gym because you want to be. We all get days that we aren’t motivated, but if you are heading to the gym to relieve guilt or to compensate something you ate, you are there for the wrong reasons. You will not be focused on your workout if you are concentrating on your guilt.
  10. Enjoy it. This sort of leads on from the last point, but it is the most important one of all. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, change it. Exercise is for life, create habits that you enjoy!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Food is fuel; home or away

Food is going nowhere. Simple. It is this realisation that has completely transformed my attitude to eating. I have decided to consume food that FUELS me; FUELS my ambition and FUELS my day-to-day life. I love the odd bit of chocolate, and have learned to only consume what my macros allow, and ONLY what my macros allow. I know that when I wake up the next day, I can still eat more of that chocolate. And the next day. And the next day. By only eating what fits my macros, I never wake up feeling guilty, nor go to the gym to “burn off” a meal. I go to the gym because I love it and because I want to improve.

Do I have to eat egg whites almost every day? Absolutely not. But do I want to? Yes. Do I want to eat catered food? Absolutely not. But in some cases do I have to? Sadly, yes. Being in the world of business, I have to travel. Business trips are not renowned for their freedom, either time wise or nutrition wise, with lots of events being mass catered. I have now been on two business trips and managed to stick predominantly to nutrient dense foods which fuel me, not guilt me. In order to do so, you have to plan. Below was what I packed for one of my trips; containers of veggies, salmon/tuna sachets, oats, green teas, protein bars and sachets of nut butters. I also took with me my supplements, all weighed out. 20160709_221420

On my most recent trip, I worked 15 hour days on my feet with no handbags allowed. So I bought a fanny pack and packed in some protein bars, nuts, whey, nut butter and salmon/tuna sachets. I used my stash as emergency snacks but also as an accompaniment to supplement the available food. I kept oats in my hotel room and soaked them to create overnight oats.

A perk of travelling on business trips can also be the food. I have also eaten some delicious mass catered food and carefully selected my options: 20160712_113437

Living a bodybuilding lifestyle IS possible whilst travelling, but you have to plan. I have not been able to stick to my macros completely, but I have managed to fuel my body. I eat a very high carbohydrate, low fat diet 4 times a week and so had to forego some carbohydrates while away. I was insistent to eat as cleanly as possible, because as well as fuelling my workouts, my days were gruelling, and would I have been so cheerful and efficient if I was succumbing to the never-ending pizza and deep fried twinkies? Absolutely not. Whatever the day holds, food is fuel. Food is not something to be consumed and later feel guilty about or need to “burn off”. What I have embarked on is a lifestyle and I don’t see why business trips and healthy eating can’t coincide.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Greek turkey meatballs and tzatziki sauce

I love cumin. And cilantro. Both of these herbs and spices feature heavily in a wide variety of cuisine and they definitely make your meal FULL of aroma and flavour. I really fancied something a bit different for my lunches this week and with the weather being exceptionally humid, something summery and Mediterranean was on the agenda. These meatballs are similar to koftas and can easily be stuffed inside pita breads to provide a healthy kebab fakeaway. Enjoy!

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Ingredients – Serves 5

(for the meatballs)

1 lb 99% lean ground turkey.

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Ingredients

2 cloves of garlic.

1 large handful of fresh parsley.

1 tbsp fresh spearmint.

2 tbsp ground cumin.

1 zucchini/courgette.

1 large handful of fresh cilantro.

1 tsp Pink Himalayan salt.

1 tbsp dried oregano.

(for the tzatziki)

150g 0% fat greek yoghurt.

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Tzatziki

1/4 of a cucumber.

1 tbsp lemon juice.

1 tsp ground cumin.

1 tbsp fresh spearmint, finely chopped.

Nutritional Information (per portion, including tzatziki): 190kcal; 28g protein, 7g carbohydrates; 1g fat

Method

  1. Finely grate your zucchini and crush the garlic cloves.
  2. Finely chop the parsley, cilantro and spearmint.
  3. In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, grated zucchini, crushed garlic, freshly chopped herbs and add in the salt, cumin and oregano.
  4. Combine the mixture roughly with a large spoon and then shape into meatballs using your hands. (Will make about 18 meatballs).
  5. Heat a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and cook the meatballs in two batches, flipping the meatballs as they begin to brown. They will need about 4 – 5 minutes per side. Ensure you keep flattening the meatballs as they cook so that excess liquid from the zucchini evaporates.
  6. While the meatballs are cooking, finely grate the cucumber and mix into the greek yghurt, adding in the cumin, spearmint and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.
  7. When the meatballs are cooked, you can either serve immediately or this would make an ideal lunchbox meal for the week! I served mine with fluffy quinoa, shredded iceberg lettuce and roasted red pepper hummus, but they would work equally as well in a wrap or pita too.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Easy Chana Masala

I grew up in Birmingham, England. Birmingham is renowned for excellent Indian takeaway food and a Friday night bhuna or tandoori was the norm. Having grown up eating plenty of Indian food, it is definitely the cuisine which is hardest to find in Tampa. It is also the hardest cuisine to eat out healthily on. The traditional sauces are loaded with ghee and cream, but this Chana Masala is not only simple, but also exceptionally delicious, versatile and healthy.

Ingredients

1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained.

1 beef tomato, roughly chopped.

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped.

1 bell pepper.

2 courgettes/zucchini.

1 tbsp ground cumin.

2 tsp turmeric.

1 tsp dried chili.

1/2 tsp garlic powder.

1 tsp ground ginger.

1 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro.

Nutritional Information

For 1 of 3 generous portions: 237kcal; 11g protein, 41g carbs, 4g fat

Method

  1. Heat a large, non-stick pan over a medium heat and fry the red onion until soft.
  2. Add in the cumin, turmeric, cilantro, chili, garlic and ginger, ensuring the onion is coated.
  3. Slice the red bell pepper and zucchinis and add to the spice mixture. Pour in the cup of water and simmer the vegetables until softened and the vegetables are starting to lose their shape.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Once cool, add the vegetable mixture in batches to a blender or Nutribullet.
  6. Return the mixture to the stove top and add in the chickpeas.
  7. Cook the chana masala over a medium-low heat until piping hot throughout!

This would make a great side dish to a meal, or would alternatively be a good vegetarian curry option too. I paired my chana masala this week with shrimp for a low carb, low fat, protein packed meal, but the possibilities are endless!

Benchpressingbaubles, x