Staying Fit at University

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Student life is famous for hangovers, Domino’s and countless cups of coffee. But having been at university 6 months now I’ve uncovered a few tricks on surviving uni the healthy…ish way, and on a student budget. I’m still in the process of finding anything more comforting that chocolate but I’ve learnt that by choosing the healthy option 90% of the time I don’t feel guilty when I do go out and enjoy myself or have that bar of chocolate instead of an apple. Going to university doesn’t have to make you feel sluggish and spotty, take advantage of your new found freedom and embrace the opportunity to become your inner fitness freak.

Food Prep

This is the most important tip I have, prep your food before you’re going to eat it. Personally, I’ve been cooking two-three meals at once and then popping them in the fridge ready for when I need them. If you take lunch with you, you’re less likely to buy something that will not only be expensive but is also highly likely to be unhealthy. It might not be as appetising as a slice of pizza after a three hour lecture but you’ll feel less stodgy and it’ll work out cheaper in the long run. I’ve been using muscle food for their pre-cooked food but you can make whatever you want, put it in a tub and you’re good to go.

Hydration

If you’ve read my post on hydration, then you will know how important water is and how much you should be drinking. If you haven’t I suggest you go and read it now here. Hydration is important not only for your general health but especially if you’re going to be drinking regularly. So buy a big water bottle and never let it leave your side. I put slices of lemon or fresh fruit in mine so that it tastes nicer but drinking weak cordial or even tea is just as good for you. So bottoms up.

Exercise

University is possibly the best opportunity for exercise you’re ever going to get. There are countless teams and sports clubs to join so take advantage of this. Not only will joining a team keep you fit it will also introduce you to new people who aren’t on the same course as you. Most universities also have an on campus gym which is really convenient for a quick session between lectures. Also, be sure to look out for student deals at your local gym, make the most of student discount!

Planning

Despite all this, health isn’t just about your body. Try not to get overwhelmed. It may feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end but you’ll get there. Make sure you plan enough time in your day to get everything done and make the most of your time. Don’t panic if you have to miss a night out to finish an assignment, you’ll feel better in the long run. Eat pizza and go on a night out, but also make sure you look after yourself. Most importantly, have fun!

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My 10k Experience  

As you probably know on Sunday I ran the Hull 10k. Now if you read my latest post you’ll know I was struggling with a hip injury and was out of training in the run up to the race. After a week and a half of resting I began training again with low impact cardio. I walked 10-30 mins on the treadmill (inc 6 speed 6) 5 times a week for the final run up to the race.

It was a 10am start to the race and while the weather wasn’t perfect it wasn’t all that bad. I managed to complete it in 1:21:25 which is a time I’m proud of, considering I didn’t really train properly.

During the run up to the race I had talked myself out of running in the future, but after seeing what I could do with almost no training I’m so excited to see how I would have fared up with proper training. So I have every intention of entering another 10k next year with the aim of crushing my time!

I know my body wasn’t ready, after the run I began suffering with joint pain in my hips and knees and aches in the back and ribs; but these are all things that would be better had I prepared for the run. I don’t think I’d ever run further than 10k but the experience was lovely and everyone there to support were so nice cheering and shouting to everyone running.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or like me, don’t run, I highly recommend it; even just a fun run round your local park! If you have any runs coming up this summer, good look and enjoy them!

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Roll on next year!!

Should you be drinking more water?

Why is water so important? Your body is 70% water, it uses water to regulate your temperature, lubricator your joints and to assist in the passage of food through the body, to name a few. A huge number of people don’t drink enough water and in a world where you have clean water readily available we need to take advantage and drink up.

You can recieve some water through foods, like soups, cucumbers and oranges, but most of our water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages.

Water is lost throughout the day through bodily functions, like sweating, crying or peeing, even through breathing! So we need to keep our body rehydrated.

But you need to be careful, while you may think you’re obtaining water by drinking things like coffee or tea or alcohol you’re actually losing water as these cause the body to lose water.

Water is used to ensure your kidneys are functioning properly and to move minerals and nutrients around the body, so with my water, everything flows easier.

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So how much should you drink? 

It is currently suggested that males should drink around 3 litres a day and females should drink around 2.2 litres a day. That may sound like a lot but by drinking little and often throughout the day you can achieve that in no time.

If you’re exercising it is incredibly important to stay hydrated, especially as it’s getting hotter so try out this Hydration Calculator to see how much you should drink before exercising to ensure you don’t become dehydrated.

Stumbling at the first hurdle? 

As some of you may know I am currently training to run the Hull 10k in June. Now, I do not have the best stamina so some serious training was going to be needed for me to complete this run. Honestly, I don’t know why I decided to do this because I HATE running! There is no form of exercise worse than running, but I’ve signed myself up so I had to get started. I’ll be honest, I put off my training for as long as possible but on the 7th of May I began my quest.

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On my first run I decided to just run as far as I could, hoping to sprint 7km and be fine. But after 2.71km I began my stagger home with a terrible stitch and shattered hopes. I was only out there for 20 minutes but I was completely knackered. This is when I started looking into alternative ways of upping my cardiovascular stamina. I’d heard of HIIT training from a few other people and decided it was worth a shot, I hate running and by doing HIIT the longest I’d have to run was 1 minute 30! HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training, this basically means running for a short time (30 seconds) and resting or walking for a short time (30 seconds) and repeating this. I began doing HIIT everyday, around 15 reps. And although it didn’t feel like it was working, 2 weeks later I managed to run 4km without stopping or feeling tired at all. I was ecstatic with the result and was left feeling empowered. Now comes the problems…

I’d heard a lot of bad about running. There are so many runners who retire early due to injury or cannot finish their races because of the high impact running causes to your bones and joints. Well the day after my miracle run I began to feel a slight tugging pain in my left hip. The next day as I was walking I felt a sharp stabbing pain right inside the joint, not what you want a month out from your run. I’m currently hoping this pain will go away if I rest up and keep applying heat/ice, but I’m losing precious time! If you know me at all then you’ll know I am a very stubborn person and this isn’t going to stop me; but I need to find a balance between getting the training in I need and not damaging my joint any further. I’ll keep you updated as my training continues and closer to the big day! But for now, I guess I’ll just have to keep resting.

Juices vs Smoothies | Pros and Cons

We’ve all heard the debate, should we be drinking juice or smoothies? What is going to be better for us in the long run? Well the answer isn’t that simple, this all depends on your body and what you want from you drink. The main differences are the fibres. Juicing removes the pulp of your fruit/vegetable, which is why it has a thin consistency. Your smoothie however, has nothing removed and is the whole fruit/vegetable just in liquid form. 

First, a little explanation about fibres, so the rest makes sense. Fibre is found in many foods but predominantly in whole grains, seeds and nuts, legumes and fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that you consume around 30g of fibre a day, for a healthy diet. There are 2 types of fibre; insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre is removed when juicing, and is vital for keeping your bowels and your digestive track healthy. This fibre does work as a sort of filter to your bloodstream, which slows down the rate your body can absorb nutrients from the juice. Soluble fibre however, remains in your juice after the pulp is removed. This fibre absorbs water, creates probiotics and then supports good bacteria living in the digestive system. 

Now you know the basics we can compare the 2. 

Juicing, I think is so much tastier than drinking a smoothie, but is far more hassle. A juice is far lighter than a smoothie so you can drink more, which means consuming more nutrients. Because juicing removes the pulp, and the insoluble fibres, your body can quickly absorb 100% of the nutrients from your juice. This is great and is what gives you that glowing feeling after you drink a big glass of green juice! Be careful though, despite being a pain making your own juice is far better for you as shop bought green juices (and smoothies!) are often filled with sugar and other hidden nastys, so make sure you check the label. 

Now I don’t mean to make you scared of smoothies because they too have their place in your diet. The pulp that is kept in the smoothie works with your bowels and digestive track to keep your insides healthy. And the thicker texture means you are kept fuller longer, perfect for breakfast! (Watch this space for a breakfast smoothie recipe!!) And, just because the smoothie contains insoluble fibre it doesn’t mean you don’t absorb nutrients, just less than from your juice.

Personally, I love both smoothies and juices, just at different times of the day but now I know how they are different I can choose more wisely. If I’m feeling a bit bloated I personally prefer a juice, but if I’m looking for a quick on the go breakfast a smoothie is perfect! Let me know your favourite, especially if you’ve made it yourself! 

Failed Veganism? | Update and lifestyle changes!

As you will know if you’re reading this I have decided to revamp and relaunch my blog! I thought i’d give you a little update.

I have recently firmed an unconditional offer to go to university next year! I will be studying Sports and Exercise Nutrition starting in September. I’m so excited to get started and learn about something I’m passionate about. I will definitely be writing a university series closer to September with some tips and tricks about moving out, shopping and handling your food shopping!

As many of you will know, in late June last year I decided to go vegan. Now I’m gonna be honest, I’m not still following this diet, because about a month ago I chose to start eating dairy again. This isn’t just because I missed having a bar of chocolate to get me through college, although I did! While I had thoroughly researched veganism and planned healthy balanced meals which gave me all of my protein and fats, I wasn’t following through on this. I was eating more and more meals which consisted of meat replacements and bread, rather than kidney beans, quinoa and sufficient veggies. I wasn’t giving myself enough fats and was therefore craving carbs and fatty foods, like my vegan sausage sandwiches. Now don’t get me wrong, in no way am I slating the vegan diet or saying it’s unhealthy as I know plenty of healthy vegans. It just didn’t suit me. I am an avid gym goer and I just wasn’t seeing the same results as before when I had the protein from dairy in my diet. Even with protein supplements from pea or soy I wasn’t happy. So, to start with, I introduced eggs back into my diet. I decided I wasn’t going to buy my eggs from the supermarket as I wanted to be completely sure they were from good healthy chickens. Now the only way to know this is to go to a farm and see for myself, so that’s what I did. Luckily for me there’s a farm in the village near to where I live so bright and early Sunday morning Paul and I pulled up outside the farm and went to meet some chickens.  Not only were the eggs cheap at almost 3 dozen for £6!! There is such a difference in quality to ordinary free range eggs. I know it’s not always convenient to buy your eggs from a farm, but it is easier than you think and setting out time once a week to go, buying in bulk and organizing your meals will make this easier.

I’ve chosen to change my diet this way because my current goals are to bulk and gain weight, muscle and size. I’ve joined started training with Muscle Honeyz and they’re really helping me to focus on my goals. I want to get bigger and stronger and I’m working my arse off to reach these goals. In a few months I’ll do  progress post so you can all see how far I’ve come!

Following A Diet Plan

In my bid to regain a healthy lifestyle I purchased two magazines: Muscle & Fitness and Runners World. These were both full of great recipes, workouts and advice so I’d recommend them both. While Muscle & Fitness is predominantly a male magazine there was a 16 page Women’s section on training and diet that I found really interesting. In this female section is a 14 day diet plan for women who work out. After reading the plan my boyfriend and I decided to set ourselves another challenge. Gym 5 days a week, run 1 day a week and follow the diet plan for 14 days.

On the Sunday we bought the magazine we wrote a shopping list to sort out who would buy what food. There were some things we weren’t going to buy (like the plain nachos and salt free dip) as we wouldn’t eat the full bag and it was to be eaten along side a main meal, as a side. When we swapped out food we either didn’t eat it, like the nachos, or replaced it, for example instead of a steak, i don’t eat steak…, we bought quorn burgers which are actually less fatty and better for you. When following a diet plan, unless it has been tailored to you, there is nothing to say you can’t change it up a bit. If you don’t like a food replace it with something with similar carbs/fats/salts. As long as you are careful this should be okay.

Along side this diet plan i have decided to drink only one drink a day that isn’t water. I haven’t been drinking enough water lately and i am aiming to drink a minimum of 2 Litres of water a day. Water is so important in keeping your body working well, your brain active and giving you clear healthy skin. It’s also very important if you’re trying to lose weight, by stopping your intake of sugary drinks you could easily drop a few pounds.

It’s now wednesday and i have been following the diet plan for 2 days and i can already see a difference. I feel less bloated, more energetic and i’m happier. I have had my 2 best workouts in a long time and i’m excited to get back to the gym today for Bi’s and Shoulders.

Now i’m going to make my tuna salad and get ready for the gym. I will keep you all updated on how the diet plan is going and how it is affecting me.

Again, Thank You all for your support!! 

Relaxing During Exams

As the exam season is nearing an end you can put down books full of facts and focus on finding a little me time and de-stressing after the hard work you’ve been putting in. Not only is it important to relax after your exams but also during your exam period! Too much revision makes you stressed and a stressed brain is not a healthy brain. So here are a few tips for keeping your cool during study time.

Exercise

I know I go on about it but exercise honestly is the best for de-stressing. Whether you’re going out for a run or doing yoga in your front room it helps to take your mind off work, allows you to focus on something aside from physics and helps to relieve your brain from toxins. Which means that when you get back to revision your brain works more effectively.

Gaming

This may come as a surprise to a lot of my readers but I have been playing a LOT of video games. Now i know what you’re thinking and no i’m not talking about Battlefield or Dying Light but Nintendo. I think i’m going to do a post about the games I’ve been playing and some games coming out soon which i’m very excited for but, as i said in my April/May favorites, I’ve been playing a lot of Mario Kart as well as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and at the moment, Kirby and The Magic Paintbrush. I’ve found that games are a great way to become engrossed in something to take your mind off work. 

Go Out, Dress Up

Never feel like you don’t have time to go out and party. Spend a few hours getting ready. Get a long bath and wash your hair, Do your makeup and put on something pretty then go out and enjoy yourself! You can worry about your revision in the morning. 
If you have any ideas then please leave comments! Let me know what you do to relax 🙂

5 Tips On Being Healthy(er)

About 2 years ago I decided I wanted to become healthier but, when I tried to cut out chocolate and stop eating carbs I realised it was just making me binge on an evening. The answer isn’t to stop eating, it’s to eat the right things. Often your body can be telling you it needs one thing and you think it wants something else. So if you’re in doubt next time you’re craving crisps remember these 7 tips.

1. Something sugary?
When you are craving sugar and sweets it generally means your body is deficient in chromium and sulphur so grab yourself some greens like broccoli, cabbage, kale and grapes. Now I know that when faced with a craving for doughnuts the last thing you want is a handful of cranberries. But there are ways of cooking these foods to crack those cravings on the head. Rather than covering your Weetabix with sugar why not use honey and cranberries? Or for those of you who often crave boiled sweets try keeping some grapes in the freezer. When you get that niggle then just pop and grab some of your pre made snacks, these are especially delicious in summer when it’s warm and all you want is an ice-lolly.

2. Bread…
Bread is my biggest bug bare, if I had my way I’d eat 8 slices a day. But bread is really not great for you and simply cutting down your intake of bread can really help you in any weight loss you are trying to achieve. As a rule I try to only eat bread with one meal a day, which is normally my breakfast. When you are craving that doughy goodness it means that your body is calling out for more nitrogen. We get nitrogen from bean, peas, lentils and other pulses. Along with oatmeal, spinach and mushrooms. I know what you’re thinking, you can’t make a very good BLT with spinach for bread…but instead why not make yourself some peanut butter porridge? (ONLY IF YOU’RE NOT ALLERGIC PLEASEE) This is my favourite meal, which I discovered whilst watching Scola Dondo on YouTube. Toast is an easy snack but next time you reach for the bread bin stop and put the kettle on. Put a large spoonful of oats into a bowl along with a table spoon of peanut butter. Pour the boiling water over and mix, mix, mix! I promise you’ll adore each golden spoonful!

3. Craving Chips?
Chips, crisps, cheese the dreaded C’s…but we can beat them! Because the real C you need is CALCIUM and chloride. Unlike when you were younger our bodies do not take much calcium from milk anymore, instead we get our calcium from sunlight aswell as foods like, kale, almonds, oranges and sesame seeds. You can get chloride from tomatoes, lettuce, olives and celery. For those craving crisps try baking your kale with a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper in the oven on 180c until its crispy and slightly black on the edges. Have it as a snack or take it to school or work for your lunch. Snack on almonds, not the sugared types though, and oranges to beat the blues of craving crap.

4. Tea or Coffee?
If you’re craving caffeine the you need more iron and sulfer. Try snacking on nuts, black cherries or bell pepper. Or try adding garlic to your food, garlic can be added to anything, spaghetti Bolognese or rub it into your chicken before you bake it.

5. Alcohol
It can be easy to grab a glass of wine at the end of the day or to have one too many at a party but when you really fancy a rosé your body is asking you for protein and potassium. You can get this from foods like broccoli and kale and also banana and oatmeal. Why not start your day with a bowl of banana porridge to ensure you have enough protein to keep you partying until the early hours.