Tag Archives: Weight loss

Why I’m not giving up anything for Lent

8970182946_40dc985e84_bPost-Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, whichever you prefer) all everyone seems to be talking about is what they are giving up for Lent – whether a practising Christian or not, it has become engrained in our culture that we should go through life systematically making sacrifices to break up the times when we gorge ourselves silly. There seem to be three main types of people who I have spoken to on the subject – those who try and fail continuously at dieting and are using this as an excuse to make another half-hearted attempt at losing weight. Then there are those who fancy a personal challenge of seeing if they can give up something for around six weeks, some even do it for charity. And finally, those who use Lent as a way to start a longer project of giving up bad habits like smoking.

The one I seem to hear about repeatedly, it seems to be the only thing on peoples’ minds lately, is losing weight, This seems to be the motivation behind any of these sacrifices whether it is stopping drinking, eating sweets or chocolate, or for those who decide to take up exercise. I have no problem with people wanting to improve themselves or their health, but there is rarely any mention of this. Everyone seems more concerned with losing weight and doing it as quickly as possible by starving themselves or cutting out any treats rather than changing their lifestyle to keep the weight off long term and becoming a healthier person who is stronger and more toned. I really hate the way our society has become so focused on this cycle of gorging and purging – so many seem to go for a “health kick” which sees them working out loads and cutting back their foods to an unhealthy extent or even sticking to a liquid diet. This is crazy and totally ridiculous – how on earth can they possibly think this is maintainable long-term? And if it is not, what is the point when you will only put the weight back on when you return to normal?

5681629499_1178c11ef7_bDon’t get me wrong, I’m totally in support of those who give up chocolate for Lent and manage to stick to it the whole time – I just don’t understand the point when the same individual will, in my experience, go and stuff themselves silly when Easter arrives. I have a lot of respect for people who completely change their lifestyles – the ones who go cold turkey after smoking 40 a day for decades, the ones who completely change their eating habits and create a new lifestyle with plenty of exercise and the ones who cut back on drinking and partying all the time to take part in marathons. All of these people are so inspiring and should be really proud of themselves because they have committed to a lifestyle change and they have created a long-term plan. I am firmly of the belief that there is no short-term fix for anything and a six-week cutting back of booze, fags or grub is not going to undo a lifetime of binging on all of these.

Of course, just to clarify, I am talking about those who have adapted Lent from the traditional Christian season of fasting and prayer to a time of sacrifice for weight loss. I know that there are many out there who genuinely give things up because of their beliefs and this is also to be respected. However, I personally have little time for those who say they are giving something up for a few weeks – is this really a sacrifice when there are hundreds of thousands, even billions, out there who have sacrifice their health every time they take a drink from a dirty river? I just don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to understand that moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle – just as you can’t binge on McDonald’s all the time, it is not healthy to live off the same limited foods, to cut out food groups like carbohydrates, or to have a liquid diet. It takes a careful balance of healthy foods, treats and EXERCISE! Of course it is easier if you enjoy healthy foods and working out, but there are many variations of these and it is just a case of finding the right one for you.

380435359_85e10c439c_oI like to think I have found my balance – I eat healthily, drink plenty of water and work out a few times a week, but I also enjoy getting drunk on a night out and going out for a nice meal. I never sacrifice or stop myself from having something I want, I just work harder at the gym to balance it out. This is my motto for life, if you want things, you have to work for them. Quite frankly, if you want that dream body, you need to work for it, not take the easy option. This is why I am not giving up anything for Lent – a) I just don’t see what sacrificing something for six weeks will achieve, and b) I feel that actually I already have a balanced lifestyle and I genuinely don’t know what I would give up! Why not join me? Forget about Lent and make some real life changes, get healthy and fit for life, not just until Easter.

Have you given anything up for Lent? What was your motivation and do you think you will stick with it?

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Workout: Stronger, harder, leaner

Just got home after another epic workout. Treating myself to new gym clothes has really been an amazing motivation and I am killing it again at the gym – I have totally revitalised my workout and am loving it again. My body feels amazing now that it is really being challenged again. I love how good a really powerful workout makes you feel. I’m totally hooked on endorphins and I’m not ashamed to say it – there’s nothing like the buzz you get post-workout.

None of my friends are gym bunnies like me and none of them really understand why I enjoy going to the gym so much (I don’t think three workouts a week is excessive!) because they have never given it a real shot, but if they prefer to feel tired rushing around at work and sad when their clothes don’t fit like they would like them then fair enough! Personally, I like my body to be soft and yet strong, I like being able to run and lift weights without a problem. I like that my clothes fit the way I like. And I LOVE that I can pretty much eat what I want because my metabolism is so high and I rarely put on weight now, even if the majority of the time I prefer to eat healthily.

 

Too many people think the key to losing weight or toning up is actually just eating less when in fact, I actually eat more now than ever and yet weigh less because I am eating less junk and because I am working out to burn it off. My body is lean and toned and yet I enjoyed a huge Italian feast of tagliatelle with a sauce made of double cream, brandy, prawns and vegetables with two different types of garlic bread, wine and cheesecake for afters last night. It’s all about moderation.

My current workout is cardio heavy with plenty of weights and a strong core section. I do either a 20 or 30 minute interval run (depending on how much time I have) and usually run for either three or four minutes followed by a minute of sprint walking. This interval running is great for boosting my cardiovascular fitness and building up stamina – plus its also the most effective for weight-loss. I then move on to 20 minutes of interval training on the cross trainer at a high resistance level before finishing with ten minutes of fast-paced cycling.

I then move on to weights working the inner and outer thighs to strengthen my muscles for running and to help stop my hips from clicking so much. Reps of 12 and I try to move up a weight every few weeks. This is followed by the leg press (which I can stack) and I do various exercises on there including one-legged, pyramids and general lifting to mix it up a little. Doing these weights have really helped strengthen my legs for running without building any excess muscle, my legs are slimmer than ever!

I then move on to arms and use all the weight machines working my biceps, triceps, shoulders and core as I try to build up my strength in my arms. I stick to lower weights because I tend to build muscle in my arms (especially biceps) quite easily and although I don’t mind this, it makes the sleeves of my cardigan a bit tight!

Finally, I finish with an intense ab workout. Starting on the ball, I will do 25 oblique crunches on each side followed by 20 long arm crunches with a 7kg weight, finishing with 40 Russian Twists with the same weight.

After these, I hit the floor where I start with another 20 long arm crunches with the weight, 20 basic crunches followed by 20 reaching to my knees and another 20 reaching through my legs. Then I do 40 oblique twists followed by 20 crunches where I fully extend my legs and arms. Finally I do 40 more Russian Twists on the floor and then sit on a weights bench to do 20 leg extension crunches.

After this I’m usually a jelly mess and have to head home for a snack, today’s was a bit of brown, seeded toast with peanut butter.

What’s your favourite workout? Any tips to further my workout?