I’ve achieved my goal; now what? Reverse Dieting 101

Reverse dieting is probably one of the most misunderstood and also one of the most feared concepts in the fitness industry. Nearly every time I begin a client on a reverse diet, they ask me “does this mean I’m going to start gaining weight now?” Its a common fear and misconception that eating more, means you will gain weight. This is NOT the case when you successfully reverse diet!

The idea of a reverse diet is that you slowly increase your calories in order to SUSTAIN your current body composition. The reason for doing this is because our bodies are highly adaptive machines – they are designed to survive! So if you finish a cut on 1400 calories and try and leave it there, eventually your body will decide its not getting enough food and so it’s going to hold onto as much body fat as possible in case of starvation. Its really bloody hard to outsmart our physiological adaption mechanisms!

SO, instead of leaving our calories low forever, we reverse diet and increase cals slowly so your body has a chance to get used to them. We build calories up to a sustainable level where you can maintain your body composition and minimise stress on your body. This is pivotal to creating a long term, sustainable result. Plus, life is a lot more fun when you have more calories to play with!

The reason why everyone associates reverse dieting with gaining weight…

I think the reason we associate reverse dieting with gaining weight is because social media is FLOODED with bikini competitors nowadays. And as I’m sure many of you have seen, once a bikini competitor finishes their show they will commence their “reverse diet” and start the process of re-gaining some healthy weight post show.

The thing is, bikini competitions are a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT scenario to the everyday weight-loss client. Firstly, the level of body fat you reach for a competition is actually below healthy levels; and is therefore unsustainable long term. These women NEED to gain weight back, for health reasons. So yes, the idea of reverse dieting for them IS to gain (some much needed) weight.

Now, because bikini competitions are becoming ever-increasingly popular and some of the people who participate in these are probably not in the mental state to partake in such an extreme level of dieting and fitness. we also have people who “rebound” out of these competitions and gain a whole lot of weight post show. This is NOT because of their reverse diet. In fact, this is because they DIDN’T stick to their reverse diet. Coming out of a bikini competition and an extreme diet is hard; temptation is everywhere and some people don’t have the mental strength to say no (perhaps their coach should have told them that competition was not a good idea for them in the first place if they have a poor relationship with food). But make no mistake, that weight gain is most likely from the failure to reverse diet, not from the reverse diet itself.

Contrast that to a regular person who just lost some weight by dieting and exercising and now they want to KEEP IT OFF. We can make small changes to their food, increasing ever so slowly each week or so and allow their body to get used to higher amounts of food with each change. Most of the time, the person will stay the same weight or even keep losing weight! This is the amazing science that is reverse dieting.

Over time, eating more calories means our potential to build lean muscle is greater. Increasing lean muscle mass increases your metabolic rate, therefore enabling your body to consume more food. Muscle does weigh more than fat, so you will see a very slow trend over time of the scale going up but its important to remember that WEIGHT gain is not equivalent to FAT gain. We can use methods such as dexa scans, in body scans, or skin fold measurements as a better measure of progress when there is no longer a large amount of body fat to be lost.

How long should I reverse diet for?

The number of calories you work up to will be very different for every individual, depending on activity levels, muscle mass, metabolism, etc. But the goal of reverse dieting is to build to that individuals ‘maintenance’ level calories, aka the amount that they burn per day and the amount where they neither gain nor lose weight. This could be anywhere from 1700-2400 calories a day for a standard female. How a person responds to the changes will help you gauge when they have hit their true maintenance level, but you should be able to gauge an estimate of where they need to be from factors such as their weight, muscle mass, height, and daily activity levels.

How quickly should I make changes to my food on a reverse diet?

How quickly you should work up someones calories will also depend on the duration they have been dieting for, how aggressive their diet was, their propensity for weight re-gain, and the state of their health.

The regularity of changes should depend on how a person responds to each change, e.g. do they gain weight, lose weight, stay the same? How do they feel? How does their digestion cope with the change? How consistent were they? Etc.

As with anything nutrition or training related, the approach should be tailored to the individual situation and close attention paid to how they respond to determine the speed of the reverse diet.

Generally I would make an increase of between 50-150 calories each time and make a change every one to four weeks depending on the individual and the factors mentioned above. It really needs to be assessed on a week to week basis taking into account all of those factors.

When should you reverse diet?

WHEN you should start a reverse diet will also be very dependent on the individual. Most of the time, you start a reverse diet once you’re at a point you’re relatively happy to sustain. However, for some people who may have been chronic dieters, sometimes they will need a reverse diet a bit earlier to actually help them get leaner. This is because again, if your body is under too much stress from long term dieting it can cause your body to want to hold onto fat in case of starvation. In such a case, sometimes the key to losing more weight is actually eating MORE.

So yes, thats right, you can actually get LEANER on a reverse diet.

What if I still have some fat to lose?

As mentioned, in some cases the key to losing that final bit of weight is actually eating MORE. But this doesn’t mean everyone should commence a reverse diet straight away. We can also use strategies such as refeeds (high carb days) and diet breaks (short periods at maintenance calories) to help take the stress off the body temporarily and continue making progress. This is also great for minimising negative hormonal adaptions that occur during dieting.

This really depends on how much more weight you have to lose and how your body is coping with the stress of dieting. If you have 5+ kg left to lose; it might be worth implementing diet breaks and refeeds to stimulate further progress rather than jumping into a reverse diet.

But if you’ve been dieting for 6 months and have hit a bit of a plateau, maybe only have another 2kg that you could lose then it might be a good time to start your reverse.

It’s impossible to give blanket answers to exactly when you should commence your reverse diet and so it should be looked at in light of the whole situation and the individual you are working with.

So where should you begin?

If you’ve reached the point where you’re pretty happy with your body and/or you’ve finished an 8 or 12 week challenge and aren’t confident reverse dieting yourself or knowing whether you should just be using diet breaks instead, I would highly recommend working with a knowledgable coach who can help support you through the process. It’s an important thing to get right to avoid weight re-gain and sustain your result, and it can be helpful to have some accountability and support post a diet phase where temptation is high and you no longer have a time-bound goal.

I hope this article has given you an insight into reverse dieting and why eating more doesn’t mean gaining weight! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions or want to get started on your own reverse dieting journey.

With love,

B. xx

Why am I not getting any results?

Frustrated because you seem to be doing everything right but you’re not getting the results you see so many other people getting?

It’s something all too common in the fitness industry. We see people around us, or online getting a result following a certain training or nutrition program and so we buy it too- expecting to get that same result from that program. She got the result, so the program must work, right?

Of course, you don’t see the photos of the people who followed the same program and didn’t get results. But why is it that some people get results on the program and others don’t?

Regardless of whether it’s a tailor made program or a cookie-cutter guide, there are going to be people who don’t get the results they expect. I am going to highlight to you the MOST COMMON REASONS why people DON’T get results, and the characteristics of the people who DO.

DISCLAIMER: I am being pretty brutally honest here. So if you’ve got soft skin and don’t want to hear that its maybe YOU that’s stopping you from getting results… don’t read on.

Reason Number 1…. You weren’t fully compliant.

Everybody wants the result, but nobody wants to do the hard work. And as a trainer for the best part of 5 years now, I can tell you for a fact that a person’s idea of “being compliant” is vastly different between individuals! And for the most part, people THINK they are doing the right thing even though they’re actually not. For example, following the meal plan to a tee but having an extra apple and 2 handfuls of almonds as your snacks each day actually is enough to totally alter your calorie intake for the day, and overall week. So even though those choices are nutritious, they can still be affecting your results. Similarly, you might order one or two latte’s a day; not accounting for the fact that that’s probably nearly a whole meal worth of calories, even if you’re choosing skinny, almond, coconut milk etc.

I have girls who tell me they feel like they’ve stuffed up the whole week because they ate one tim tam at a friend’s party over the weekend (note: you haven’t, chill).

And then I have other girls tell me that they were “pretty good”, even though they actually drank 7 vodka raspberries on the weekend and ordered Uber-Eats three times for dinner (note: this IS enough to put you in calorie surplus for the week and sabotage your results).

Compliance means something different to everyone. So your friend that followed a program and got epic results might have a very different view of compliance and different level of dedication to you! You need to be HONEST WITH YOURSELF. What extras are sneaking in? What are the little things you think might be innocent but could be affecting your result? Be 100% open and honest with your coach, and they can tell you whether those little things are affecting your result or not. If you aren’t honest and they don’t know, then they can’t help you!

You don’t have to be perfect, but if you really want to get a result then you need to be over or above 90% on compliance. Every week. For 8-12 weeks. Not one week on, one week off. Not one day on, one day off. CONSISTENCY OVER TIME is what gets you results. Your weight isn’t just going to fall off, you need to put in the WORK and the TIME required to train and meal prep. And you need to exercise a degree of DISCIPLINE to say no to things that aren’t serving you and your goals.

If you do slip up, don’t throw in the towel and write off the whole day/week. Just get back on track and account for the extra calories elsewhere.

Reason Number 2… You just don’t train hard enough.

There are a huge number of people I see in the gym who always look the same year round and make little progress. They do the same routines and lift the same amount of weight every time. They’ve probably eaten the same amount of calories for weeks/ months/ years.

The key to results is PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. You need to be slightly increasing weights to the majority of your lifts (especially compounds) every session. Of course, you’re going to have days where your strength is just off, and you’re going to have some exercises that you just really struggle to improve your strength in, but AS A WHOLE there must be progressive overload. That means slightly more weight, slightly more reps, slightly more sets- whatever overload technique you’re using- you need to constantly apply new challenge on your body.

IF IT DOESN’T CHALLENGE YOU IT DOESN’T CHANGE YOU.

As an exclusively female trainer, I must say that I think it’s more common in females to have a “fear” of pushing themselves. A lot of women start to feel a burn and that’s when they give up. No, babe- that’s when you need to START COUNTING.

When you train, you need to focus on both improving your strength and improving your PAIN TOLERANCE, which really comes down to the strength of your MIND. I guarantee you that 9 times out of 10, your mind will give up before your body does. Focus on your breathing, or the song you’re listening to, and push through the pain (the good pain of course) because you won’t evolve from training in your comfort zone every day!

Oh, and stop skipping the gym because you’re feeling tired or unmotivated! Listening to your body is important, and if you’re genuinely sick you need to rest. But I think women fall victim to their excuses too often. We’re all tired. We’re all busy. If you want something bad enough, you will MAKE TIME FOR IT. If you’re program is 5 days a week then you need to DO THOSE 5 DAYS. If you do skip the gym earlier in the week than intended because you needed the extra sleep, that’s ok- but it means you’ll have to get it done later in the week even if you don’t feel like it.

Reason Number 3… You are following a cookie cutter program and your situation is just more complicated than that.

Online you can generally find a “cookie cutter program” – think those “Buy Now” guides where you just purchase the guide for a fixed price and then you go it alone.

Then there’s the “customised coaching” – where you get a training program and nutrition plan designed specifically to you. You might get regular check ins and changing as you go, and get that personalised attention from the coach.

Some people will get results just fine on a cookie cutter program. They are usually people with no underlying health issues, no metabolic issues, can move their body relatively competently and have done some sort of exercise before but are not advanced. Honestly, fat loss is not rocket science for these people. If you’re a trainer with half a brain you can get someone like this to lose weight.

Unfortunately, a lot of us are more complicated than that- particularly females! Today we have a huge amount of women suffering from thyroid issues, metabolic damage from years of dieting, insulin resistance, PCOS or endometriosis, chronically elevated stress levels, and mental health issues to name a few. Our lifestyles often differ from the simple work 9-5 and sleep for 8 hours every night, as we are supposed to do!

For these people, losing weight isn’t just about eating less and training more. It’s far more complicated and needs to address lifestyle factors, mental health/mindfulness, and supplementation techniques to help detox the body from the hormonal or chemical stressors it is exposed to. For these people, a cookie cutter program isn’t going to cut it because it’s not JUST their diet and exercise that needs to change. And it’s not going to be an 8 week fix either. Healing from these issues takes time and consistency over time… You can’t reverse years of metabolic or hormonal adaptions in 8 weeks.

I dare say, this is a good 80% of the population nowadays, and a good reason why a lot of people don’t get results when they follow a program or work with a trainer who doesn’t have understanding of the deeper issues affecting body composition results.

In summary….

The reason I wrote this article is because I often hear from women who followed a program or used a trainer and got no results. They blame the trainer, or the program, and honestly I think sometimes that’s unfair. I think it’s easier to blame someone else for our failures, than to really dig deep and look at where we might be going wrong ourselves.

There sure are a lot of crappy trainers and programs out there in this over-saturated fitness world and I think it’s important to do your research on the coach and program you choose to follow to ensure you’re getting a good service.

If you are working with a quality trainer, using a customised program, and can honestly say you’re being 100% compliant but are STILL not getting results, then I do urge you to dig deeper into your health and make sure that there’s nothing else going on that may be preventing you from getting results. There may be something underlying that can’t be fixed with diet and exercise alone.

If this article hits all too close to home for you, send me an email to bec@bcbfit.com.auand I’d be happy to chat about your situation, see if there are any factors I think you need to be addressing, and recommend some tests you can organise with your GP to help get to the bottom of what may be setting you back!

With love,

B. x

Image from: http://heatherdane.com/nutrition-spirit-your-sacred-connection-to-food/

If you want to learn more about how “calories in vs. calories out” is not always enough to get your body composition change, check out this article on Healthline that talks about how different food types, macronutrient splits, and hormones can affect your results.

How to stay on track while travelling

I recently went to Bali for a holiday, and had so many questions about how I eat healthy and stay on track when travelling. I think there are a lot of people out there who get anxiety over travelling because they feel like they lose control of their food intake and will set themselves back in terms of their goals.

Well, I’m here to show you that you CAN enjoy your holiday without sacrificing your goals that you’ve been working so hard to achieve!

Here’s my tips on how to stay on track (but also how to enjoy being off track without guilt!) while on holidays.

1. Choosing the best menu options when dining out

My go to is generally a grilled, poached or baked lean protein source (fish or chicken), with salad or vegetables. I usually avoid heavy sauce or dressing or ask for it on the side so I can add a little bit without drowning my food in unnecessary calories.

You don’t have to stress yourself out by trying to track macros, but you can plan your meals around what you’ve already had that day. For example, if you’ve had a high fat meal with things like eggs, steak, nuts, avocado, bacon, seeds, granola, salmon for breakfast; choose something low fat for lunch and dinner like lean protein and salad. And vica versa. If you know you’re going to have a carb dense and fatty dinner like a burger or pizza, choose light meals throughout the day to account for the extra calories you’re going to consume later.

Also don’t be afraid to ask how things or cooked, or ask for the dressing on the side! In some countries they aren’t all that clear on the menus with what you’re getting – so don’t be afraid to ask (I have certainly ordered squid before, only to have it come out deep fried and being like DAMMIT do you reckon I can just cut the coating off and eat the insides?? 😛 ). Just ask if you’re unsure to avoid disappointment!

2. Surviving the buffet breakfast

Buffet breakfasts can be hit or miss! Luckily in Bali you can make it really healthy by ordering your own omelette and asking for no milk/cheese (or even just egg white) and veggies, or greek yoghurt with some muesli/ fruit (add some protein powder- see below!). You can get fresh veggie juices, or even fish and rice for breakfast over there!

My main tip is to avoid the bakery section. Stay away from the croissants, muffins, pancakes, etc that will give you a hit of fats and carbs but very limited protein. If you have a decent serve of protein at breakky, it will steer you away from poorer choices and keep you fuller for longer throughout the day!

My second tip is just because it’s a buffet, doesn’t mean you need to stuff yourself until your pants pop! Still have a moderate size breakfast that will keep you full isn’t so much larger than your normal breakfast that you’ll end up being bloated, overloading your digestive system and consuming a huge portion of calories at the beginning of the day.

3. Easy suitcase BYO’s that will save the day.

Here’s some things I love to have with me on holiday for those “just in case” moments.
– Protein powder in snap lock bags! These are a great addition to a buffet breakfast (or even a café), as you can add the protein to muesli/oats to help improve the protein content to a cereal based breakfast!
– Protein bars. I don’t often eat protein bars in Australia to be honest, but when I travel I do like to take some in case I’m heading out for the day and can’t find options that suit me. I mostly try to eat gluten and dairy free, and I don’t like red meat so sometimes there are limited options for me to eat (fussy I know, but I don’t really want to feel bloated and upset in the stomach when I’m on holiday so I still try to avoid those things when I’m away!). Having protein bars in my bag as a back-up helps me to get through those situations.
– Oats/ rice flakes. As above, great easy breaky option to make in the hotel along with your protein powder if you need to.

4. Letting go of your guilt and enjoying the holiday.

Have you heard the saying that “one bad meal won’t make you fat. Just like one salad won’t make you skinny”? On holidays, you need to remember that it’s OK to eat a meal that isn’t something you would usually eat just because you damn well feel like it! You’re in another country, and not experiencing some of the cuisine over there as part of your experience would be a crime! If you eat a bad meal, you might hold some water the next day or two but you won’t gain fat from eating one bad meal. It’s when people eat crap the WHOLE holiday that they come back 5kg + heavier. Same with a drink or two every few days. It won’t hurt if you have a few every now and then, its if you drink every day that you will start to see weight gain.

5. Train because you want to, not because you have to

If you want to workout and go to the gym on your holiday, then by all means DO IT! I love doing a workout in the morning on holidays. It sets me up with good energy for the day and I genuinely feel better if I’ve moved than if I take a heap of time off training. But it’s important not to let your training rule your holiday! You shouldn’t sacrifice things on holiday because you need to get your training in, or because you feel guilty for eating and that you need to exercise. You should choose to exercise on holiday if it makes YOU feel better, and because you enjoy it, not because you feel like you have to in order to allow yourself indulgence. Having a week or two off training isn’t going to cause you major setback, so if you prefer not to train on holiday then just take the time off and enjoy it or plan you ! Making good food choices is going to be more important than working out in terms of staying in good shape for your return.

6. Stay somewhere with a kitchen

The best way to keep some control of your eating while you’re away is to stay somewhere with a kitchen (or private chef if you’re in Asia!) so that you can cook your own healthy meals instead of eating out all the time. When you eat out, it’s hard to control extra oils and flavours hidden in our food so it’s always likely to be more calorie dense than if you cook yourself. It’s great to be able to have a break from eating out and cook some of your own food while you’re away. You can save you a bit of money doing it that way too!

Accept that flying and eating different foods WILL lead to fluid retention.

Remember that its normal for your body to hold fluid after flying (for more than 1 hour), and so it’s NOT a good idea to step of the scale the day after you’ve got back from holidays. Similarly, eating more carbs/ more sodium etc from your holiday can cause extra fluid retention. So I would give yourself a few days of healthy eating and getting back into a training routine before you weight yourself!

A great way to combat fluid retention from flying is to firstly, stay hydrated on the plane! Drink plenty of water and take some hydralyte when you fly- in the end you’re sitting in a plane with recycled air and we tend to drink less on a plane so we don’t have to go to the bathroom all the time. Try to keep those fluids up!

When you get back, you can use some natural diuretics to help flush the excess water out of your system. Things like dandelion tea, lemon water, asparagus and celery are great diuretic foods. Get some turmeric and omega 3’s through things like flaxseed oil, walnuts, or salmon to help reduce inflammation as well and you’ll feel back to your normal self in no time!

Holidaying should be about enjoyment, not restriction. But you don’t have to let all your hard work go out the window. I hope these tips have helped you gain an insight into how to make better choices while on holiday so you can enjoy your trip but come back feeling good and ready to get back into your routine!

With love,

B. xx

#health #fitness #travelling #healthyeating #nutrition #cleaneating #eatclean #personaltrainer #fitspo #motivational #summer #training #workouts #bodylove #balance

The reason why you SHOULD skip your workout today: my experience with chronically elevated cortisol.

It’s a trend in the fitness culture and one that is pushed heavily on social media that you should never skip a workout, train even when you don’t feel like it, push yourself to all extremes and never take it easy on a workout. Every fitness model you see is in competition with each other to train harder, train more, and boast about it on social media. Never taking a rest day or training several times a day is NOT something to boast about. There’s only so much stress your body can take, and eventually it WILL break down and it’s a slow road to recovery when it does. I’m sharing my story about my body breaking down from chronic stress because I failed to listen to the warning signs, in the hope that you might just stop and listen to yours before it’s too late.

The difference between being lazy and genuinely needing to take a break

I’m not encouraging anyone to be lazy here. I’m not saying to skip the gym when you just can’t be bothered and would rather go home and watch Bachelor in Paradise. But this “never say die” culture that has been pushed in the fitness industry is encouraging people to ignore warning signs from their body that sometimes you really just have to take a BREAK.

Training hard and having a “don’t give up” attitude in your life is a fantastic trait to have. The most successful people in the world are the hard workers, and the people with no excuses. HOWEVER; there comes a point where you need to actually LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you are genuinely sick, run down, excessively sore, etc you need to know it is OK to take a rest day, or week even. This applies to training, work, socialising and every aspect of your life really. There comes a point where you need to STOP pushing and follow the warning signs that your body is so desperately trying to give you.

Personally, I’ve always gone too hard at everything in my life. The quote “never touch something with half of your heart” resonates deeply within me. At school, at sport…. Then at university, at socialising, at fitness…. Now at fitness competitions, at work, my clients… everything I choose to do I give it 100%. I very rarely sit down and chill out, and although it’s something I’m working on, I still find it makes me anxious trying to sit down without doing something productive.

I think this attitude to life is what has led me to burnout several times in my life, culminating now after doing 3 years of Bikini competitions back to back. Competing is an extreme stress on your body, training twice a day and dieting down to low levels of body fat, and doing that all while working in excess of full time and sleeping very little running my Personal Training business both in person and online was just too much in the end. The years of accumulated stress all built up and left me broken down by extreme fatigue, unable to do all the things I usually do on the daily. In recent years I’ve invested more time in taking care of myself, meditating, getting acupuncture, ensuring I always have a complete rest from training each week, yet still I’ve hit a point where my body just can’t take any more stress. This article outlines the symptoms I started feeling when my body started to break down from chronic stress, the results from my tests and how I’m overcoming excessive cortisol naturally to get my body and my health back on track.

Symptoms of elevated cortisol

One of the reasons you haven’t seen training related content on my social media for a while is because I haven’t really been training as much as usual. When I have, it’s hardly been a workout to boast about. But I’m telling you now; the reason I haven’t been training is certainly not a lack of motivation or desire to work out. Training is a huge part of my life – it makes me happy, makes me feel empowered, gives me an outlet for emotion and plays an important role in my mental health.

I haven’t been training as much , because I’ve felt like my body has given up on me. My body has felt heavy, lethargic, slow, and weak. I’ve watched my strength diminish progressively over probably the last 12 months or so. I kept blaming it on things, like recovering from surgery or dieting on competition prep. But when all those things when away and yet my strength still didn’t really budge – I knew there was something up.

I was also experiencing a host of other symptoms, including:

· Chronic neck/ jaw pain and tightness

· Seeming to LOSE MUSCLE and GAIN fat despite following a meal plan and training program that I know works for my body type

· Poor mental focus when trying to get work done

· Recurrent infections (I usually don’t get sick at all, so this made me feel extremely frustrated and deflated, feeling like I’d lost all control over my body)

· Diminishing mental health – more anxiety and sadness than I usually experience and often for no particular reason

· Diminishing strength

It’s very unlike me to feel unmotivated, and even when I do it’s unlikely that I give in to that feeling and find myself unproductive. But I was feeling exhausted, skipping workouts, and struggling to complete all the tasks I can usually manage. This made no sense – I love my job, I have a wonderful support network and I usually have such a positive outlook on life. It was extremely upsetting for me, experiencing all these things progressively worsening over a 12 month period and feeling like I was losing myself in the process.

The test results

I saw an array of doctors all of whom wanted to blame something different, but after several tests I was told my “vitamin levels and organ function are all fantastic” and there was no real indicator to why I was feeling the way I was or getting sick.

I had mentioned my adrenals and cortisol levels to every doctor I saw, telling them I thought I had run myself into the ground after 3 years of fitness competitions and needed to check my adrenal function. But they all pushed me toward other tests, and it wasn’t until I got a referral to a sports doctor who works with athletes specifically that I was able to get someone willing to test my cortisol and other hormone levels.

And BANG – there it was, the answer to why I was feeling the way I was feeling. My cortisol levels were WAYYY above the normal range ALL DAY LONG. Essentially, I have chronically elevated cortisol levels in response to chronic stress.

My estrogen and progesterone was also quite low, but because this can be a result of my neuro-endocrine system being impaired from the excess cortisol in my system, I’m addressing the cortisol issue as priority and hopefully my other hormones will take care of themselves.

How to treat excessive cortisol?

Unfortunately, a large part of reducing cortisol levels relies on lifestyle changes. Tell me to pop a (natural) tablet in the morning and I’ll do it. Tell me to change my long ingrained habits and we have a problem! But I’m at a point now where I know that something’s gotta give, so here is a list of daily lifestyle habits I’m introducing or changing: (and a public declaration of such to hold me accountable 😉 )

  • Reducing weight training days from 6 to 3 per week
  • Replacing weight training with 3-4 mind-body training sessions per week including: Yoga, Hot Yoga, Pilates (this way I reduce my training INTENSITY without reducing total VOLUME so that it doesn’t take a toll on my mental health by avoiding training altogether).
  • Meditating daily. I’ve been using an app called Insight Timer with so many free meditations and I’m loving them! Now I just have to make it a habit that I commit to.
  • Avoiding coffee before 10am and having maximum of one coffee a day. I’ll drink more green or black tea as replacement which actually lowers cortisol due to the theanine content (I wasn’t an excessive coffee drinker, but being more mindful of the time of day I drink caffeine and how it affects my circadian rhythm will be important.)
  • Get more SLEEP. This is a hard one, when as a Personal Trainer I’m up at 5am most days and finish at 7.30 or 8.30pm. I’ve also suffered with insomnia throughout my life, but I’m taking steps to wind down before bed, getting to bed earlier and limiting trying to start work at 7am instead of 6am on some days.
  • Find a creative outlet once a week – I’ve always loved painting and writing, so I’m going to make time to do something creative once a week. Whether its blog writing, journalling or taking time out to do artwork, focusing on a creative hobby where my brain can relax and focus on the task at hand instead of thinking of all the things I have to do.
  • Essential oils. Using lavender and other calming essential oils on my temples before bed and before meditations.
  • LISTEN TO MY BODY. I’ve been trying to do this more, and skip a workout when I’m not feeling up to it (something that kills me inside just a little!). If I start a workout and I’m not feeling great, I’m going to STOP. I’m also going to pay attention to how I feel during, after and the following day after a workout to determine if that particular workout is a good idea for me to be doing at this point in time. I am learning to accept that listening to my body isn’t a sign of weakness, but it’s a sign of strength dedicating myself to feeling better and doing whatever it takes, even if it’s not always my preference

In addition to lifestyle changes, I’m also introducing (or continuing) to take the following natural supplements:

  • Adrenoplex by Bioceuticals. I found this supplement looking for the best all-rounder to help reduce cortisol levels naturally but WITHOUT providing ‘false energy’. It contains a mix of ginseng, reishi mushroom and Ashwaganda which are all adaptogenic herbs that can support your body’s adapation to stress and overcome fatigue.
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Jing by Superfeast – contains He shou wu and Cordyceps amongst other herbs to help nourish the kidney and restore hormonal balance.
  • GABA and on some days melatonin before bed to get a good night sleep.

So that’s my plan, published permanently online for all to see to help hold myself accountable to these changes that I might not like but KNOW are necessary in order to get my body and my health back on track. There’s one thing I know about stress and it’s a silent killer, linked to many diseases including cancer, mental health break down, and a range of other health issues. I train because I love it. I train because I want to look good. But most importantly I train to be HEALTHY, and right now I’m far from it. My focus is on getting my health back, and the rest will fall back into place.

If you have any questions or are experiencing similar symptoms please feel free to contact me, I would love to support you and help you make the changes you need to before you get to breaking point.

With love,

B. xx

#health #healthyeating #fibre #nutrition #training #weightloss #fatloss #leanmuscle #cleaneating #adrenalfatigue #adrenalinsufficiency #chronicfatigue #cortisol #yoga #meditation #balance #mindbodysoul #mindfulness

FIBRE FAILS: how your healthy diet could be the cause of your bloating and constipation.

Fibre. It’s pitched as the solution to health really.

Fibre keeps us regular. Fibre keeps us fuller for longer. Fibre can prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer. Fibre can reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Our foods are marketed as “high in fibre” or “with added fibre”; as if the more fibre we can get, the better! Hell, we even have “fibre drinks” like Metamucil (which is really just a combination of psyllium husk and artificial sweeteners…. don’t even get me started on that one!).

But what they don’t market to you is that fibre can also block you up, cause bloating and gas, and leave you feeling pretty darn uncomfortable!

The Fibre Basics

There are three main types of dietary fibre:

1. Soluble fibre
Helps to keep you feeling full by slowing the emptying of the bowels.

Found in: fruits, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes

2. Insoluble fibre
Helps to soften the bowel contents for regular bowel movements.

Found in: wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat and the skin of the fruit and vegetables.

3. Resistant starch
Digested in the large intestine, where it helps produce good bacteria and improve bowel health.

Found in: under ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potato, rice, and undercooked pasta.

How much fibre do you need?

Don’t get me wrong, fibre is essential to your health. But like anything, too much of a good thing can be NOT so good.

There is a happy medium with fibre. Too little, and you’ve probably got the runs. Too much and you’re probably super bloated and struggling to pass anything. Hit the right amount, and you’ve probably got some satisfying and easy flowing bowel movements! (ewww TMI.. I know).

The general recommendation by Nutrition Australia is 25g for females and 30g for males. However, this doesn’t take into account the fact that not all females or males eat the same amount of calories.

A better way to calculate how much fibre you need would be 15g per 1000 calories you eat.

Therefore, a female eating 1,660 calories would need 25g of fibre. But if another female is eating 2,300 calories, then she would need 35g fibre. It really comes down to your caloric intake, not your gender.

Additionally, you may want to pay attention to the TYPE of fibre you’re consuming. If you refer back to the types of fibre, you’ll notice that fruit, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes are the “soluble” type of fibre which tends to SLOW the bowels. Thus, if you’re eating a crazy amount of fruits and vegetables (they’re healthy right?!) then it’s probably the reason you’re feeling so blocked up! Vegetables are great, but you CAN still have too much of them!

What’s the consequence of constipation?

You might think a little bloating and constipation is nothing to be too concerned about. But if it happens on the regular, then it’s definitely a problem you need to address.

If your bowels aren’t moving efficiently, it’s a pretty good indication that something is up with your digestion. And if your digestion isn’t functioning optimally, you are unlikely to be absorbing the nutrients from your food properly. When nutrients aren’t being absorbed, it’s going to make it hard to build lean muscle from the good stuff in the foods you’re eating. It’s also going to make it hard to build a healthy body and set up the ideal environment to lose weight. Not to mention, you’ll probably feel pretty crappy and lethargic. If that’s not incentive to address your bloating and constipation, then I’m not sure what is.

The moral of the story…

If you’re eating really healthy but feeling blocked up, bloated and uncomfortable majority of the time then I highly recommend downloading My Fitness Pal, entering all your food (veggies included, as they are some of the most fibre dense!) and checking whether your fibre intake is sitting within 2-3 grams of the 15g per 1000 calorie rule. If it ISN’T, adjust your food choices to fall within that fibre limit and see if you experience an improvement in your digestive symptoms.

If adjusting your fibre intake doesn’t help, then you may need to address whether you have some uncovered food intolerances, unbalanced gut bacteria or other digestive issues.

With love,

B. x

#health #healthyeating #fibre #nutrition #training #weightloss #fatloss #leanmuscle

ATP Science GutRight UNSPONSORED Product Review

If you’ve followed me for a while you will know I’m all about that gut health! I honestly believe that EVERYTHING begins in the gut. If your gut isn’t functioning right and flourishing with good bacteria it can impact your immunity, energy levels, muscle building/ fat loss, sleep and happiness.

Here are some examples of why your gut really is so important:

  • Serotonin and Dopamine (aka the happiness hormones!) are produced in your gut. If your gut isn’t happy, neither is your brain!
  • Nutrient absorption (the uptake of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc from your food) occurs in the gut. Food is digested and absorbed into the body through your digestion processes. If digestion isn’t working properly, then you’re not getting the health benefits you could be out of the food you’re eating.
  • If your nutrient absorption isn’t efficient, then you won’t be digesting and absorbing proteins to build lean muscle as effectively as you could be.
  • SIMILARLY, if you’re not getting all that good stuff out of your food it’s pretty darn hard to have a healthy, thriving body that creates a good environment for fat loss!
  • If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients effectively, you can imagine why you may feel lethargic a lot. Food is the ‘petrol’ for our ‘car’. Just as you might feel average when you’ve eaten crap food for a few days, if you aren’t absorbing nutrients you’ll probably have a similar feeling of fatigue etc.

I also love ATP Science products. These guys produce supplements backed by research and science, and I’ve used several of their products before (Alpha Prime, Cort RX, Block E3 and Subcut) with excellent result. So when I found out they’d brought out a gut health product I was super excited to give it a try!

I could bore you with all the science-y stuff on how GutRight works but if you are interested in the finer details, you can read more about it here:

https://atpscience.com/product/gutright/

PRODUCT REVIEW:

Taste: 4/10

Effectiveness: 7/10

Quality of Ingredients: 10/10
Value for money: 6/10

Overall Rating: 7/10

The idea behind GutRight is that you take 3 scoops a day for 10 days to really ‘detox’ your gut, and thereafter take only 1 scoop per day for maintenance. I decided to give it a try because a) I’m obsessed with gut health and b) I like to test products myself before recommending them to my clients.

I read about the symptoms I was likely to expect from GutRight in the ATP Science article and must say, it was pretty accurate with how it affected my errr…bowels (sorry TMI). I semi-followed the ‘detox’ diet that they suggest, but kept in sweet potato and oats because I didn’t want to cut back my starchy carbs too much at that point.

I did find that GutRight really cleared me out and reduced my bloating a lot. It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling either, the symptoms were quite mild and you just kind of went to the toilet as normal, just a bit more often! The diet they recommend for best effects is also pretty easy to follow and not painfully restrictive.

The worst part about this product is that it tastes pretty darn terrible! Actually, it doesn’t taste like much but It’s clumpy and doesn’t mix well. The first time I tried it I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to stomach 3 scoops of it a day! HOWEVER, I did create some epic ‘gut-healing’ smoothie recipes that I’ve listed below that helped me get the GutRight down and found that it actually added a nice berry kind of flavour in the smoothies! I just blended them up in my Nutribullet and actually started to enjoy the GutRight!

I also thought it was a pretty measily sized tub, especially considering they want you to take 3 scoops a day for the first 10 days. After the 10 days the $65 tub was pretty much empty. When you drop back to the ‘maintenance’ stage taking 1 scoop a day, it’s a lot more cost-effective.

I must say my gut is in pretty good nick (for the most part anyway) because I’ve spent years following different gut healing protocol, eliminating inflammatory foods and trying my best to look after my gut so it functions as well as possible! I am still taking the one scoop per day and feeling good, but I think the effects and benefits of this product would be better felt by someone with a little more gut issues than myself.

AM SMOOTHIE
  • 1.5 scoops gut right
  • 15g collagen powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk; ½ cup water
  • 2 heaped tbsp Coyo Natural Yoghurt
  • 1 scoop Bioceuticals Ultra Muscle Eze Magnesium Powder with Vitamin B
  • organic honey or stevia to sweeten
  • 50g berries
  • Ice
PM SMOOTHIE
  • 1.5 scoops gut right
  • 5-10g vegan protein powder
  • 1 scoop camu-camu powder or maca powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk; ½ cup water
  • organic honey or stevia to sweeten
  • cinnamon
  • 1 handful spinach
  • ½ a banana
  • Ice

Overall, I thought it was pretty effective and easy to get down once I’d found a delicious smoothie combination to hide it in! I wasn’t so impressed that I’m going to start preaching about this product to the world, but I definitely think it’s worth giving a go if you have gut issues; especially if you haven’t been able to manage them through other supplements like probiotics, prebiotics and anti-inflammatory herbs. It’s got a great, clean ingredient list and I really do think gut health is worth spending your money on!

If you do give this product a go, send me an email and let me know about your experience!

bec@bcbfit.com.au

With love,

B. xx

Behind the Bling & Bikini’s: The ugly truths you need to know before you do a bikini competition.


Competing in Bikini Model competitions with the ICN (Natural BodyBuilding in Australia) was one of the best experiences of my life.

I learnt so much about myself; pushing my body and mind to places I didn’t know I was capable of. I worked so hard, overcame obstacles, pushed through pain and found a discipline and determination stronger than ever before. It gave me confidence that I can achieve anything I set my mind to and made me realise my strength within.

I think competing can be an incredibly empowering process and can teach you a lot about yourself, training and the way your individual body works. I definitely recommend it for those reasons if doing a fitness competition is something that interests you.

BUT… it’s not all glitz and glamour. This article is not to put you off competing; it is simply to forewarn you of some of the “behind the scenes” problems female fitness competitors face. It outlines the truth behind how competing can affect your body and your life long-term.

It’s not all doom and gloom in this article. I also highlight what I think are the best ways to “damage control” each of these problems to make sure you’re doing prep in the safest, and healthiest way possible for your body, your mind and your relationships.

1. It causes an incredible strain on your relationships – with both your partner and your friends.

Firstly, it’s pretty difficult to eat out while you’re on competition prep. You need to weigh and track your food down to the gram, and make sure there aren’t any extra oils etc sneaking in that might throw off your calories for the day. Some competitors choose to eat out during their prep and “guestimate” their macros. But even then they are limited on where they go based on restaurants who provide macro estimates online etc. Personally, I don’t like to take the risk so I don’t eat out at all from the 6-8 week out mark.

It’s pretty hard on your boyfriend/husband/fiancé when he can’t even take you out for a nice dinner, enjoy a glass of wine, or just generally have some spontaneity in your lives because you have to stick to a rigid meal plan. It can also affect your relationship with your friends. They know you aren’t able to eat or drink alcohol, so the invites you get may dissipate more and more. I know that when I started competing I got less and less invites to things and started to feel a bit socially isolated from my friends. Even after prep, I had to start reminding people that “hey, I can drink and eat out now!” so that I was included again. You certainly find out who your true friends are and who want to spend quality time with you.

Aside from the eating out issue, you also get a kind of “tunnel vision”. You’re so focused on your goal, that getting extra cardio in or getting to the infra-red sauna is far more important than spending time with your partner or your friends. It’s a selfish sport in that regard. How would it feel if you were no longer your partner’s priority for a few months? It’s hurtful to them, and I’ve heard many stories from friends in confidence about how much strain its caused on their relationship. You guys don’t see that side of it on social media, but it’s important to know what goes on behind closed doors if you’re thinking about doing a comp prep.

YOUR DAMAGE CONTROL PLAN:

I would suggest speaking to your partner/ friends before you start a prep. Explain the situation, explain that its only really 12 weeks where you’ll have to be super strict and reduce your social life. Get their support, and try and make social plans that involve walking, infra-red saunas, training, home cooked meals (by you), coffee dates and anything that allows you to see your friends without falling off your plan.

2. Getting that lean is extremely unhealthy

We all know that holding excessive body fat is unhealthy, but being leaner is NOT always better. Females are complex hormonal beings and we have higher ‘essential body fat stores’ than men. A healthy female should sit between 21 and 30% body fat to be considered healthy (Note: if you want an accurate assessment of your body fat percentage, please get a DEXA scan – any bio-impedance analysis scan where you stand on it and hold the handles can be out by up to 8%). A general population lean/fit female should sit between about 21-24%, but in a competition prep we have girls pushing down to 15, 10 and even as low as 6-8% body fat for some divisions!

The actual “essential fat stores” (that is, the requirements of body fat just to support BASIC BODY FUNCTION) is 10-12% for a female. That means some competitors are literally pushing themselves to the point where they are sitting below the body fat stores necessary for them to simply maintain life and regulate hormonal functional! Once your body fat starts to fall below 18%, you’ll start to notice poor temperature regulation, poor concentration, impaired immune system to name a few.

In contrast, males essential body fat stores are 2-4%, so they can handle sitting a lot lower than females. This doesn’t mean competing is healthy for them, but from a hormonal perspective females need to realise that our bodies really aren’t designed to get that lean, nor to stay that way!

Not to mention, training up to twice a day (some girls do more- crazy!) while on relatively low calories is a HUGE stress on your body. Hell, I’m still battling my chronically high cortisol levels from 3 years of competing and overtraining (however, note that in this time I was also often working 40+ hours a week, getting up at 5am every day and running my own business so my stress levels were not due to competing alone).

YOUR DAMAGE CONTROL PLAN:

Unfortunately, you do need to get to a unhealthy level of body fat for competition. Bikini would be the least stress on your system in that regard, with most girls going on stage around 16-19% (in the natural federations anyway).

What I would urge you to do is know and understand that you can’t hold that low body fat percentage for long. Immediately after comp, start to work your weight back up slowly to your healthy range. And while you ARE competing, make sure that your dietary fats don’t slip below a healthy level. I would never let a female eat below about 45 grams of fats a day even at the tail end of comp prep. Preferably higher, depending on their particular body type. You need to make sure you choose a coach who UNDERSTANDS FEMALE HORMONES and GENUINELY CARES ABOUT YOUR HEALTH. It should be alarm bells to you if your coach starts dropping your fats below 45g. You should raise the issue with them, and if they aren’t understanding of the fact you want to look after your hormonal health…. You should look elsewhere!

Also make sure you’re making time for recovery in your prep. Take magnesium and glutamine. Eat your protein and carbs soon after your workout. Get regular remedial massage and foam roll/ stretch yourself. Relax in the infra-red sauna, through meditation, or taking epsom salt baths. Make sure you make YOU time and just chill out a few times a week – your body is under enough stress, you need to balance it out.

3. You will almost definitely lose your period

It’s partly a result of getting to that unhealthy level of body fat, and partly due to the stress that over-training and dieting has on your body. You will almost definitely lose your period, and for how long? It’s hard to say. Some women will get it back once they reach a healthy body fat level, others won’t. It’s called hypothalamic amenorrhea, and it’s becoming more and more prevalent in today’s “fitness culture”. These super lean women we admire to look like on Instagram probably don’t have their periods, yet they don’t talk about it. It might be all well and good for now while they’re 26 years old but what about when they want to have children in a few years and are told they can’t? I’m not trying to scare you, but I want you to be aware that not getting a period is NOT OK and it’s important to work toward getting it back once you’ve finished competing.

Note: If you’re on the contraceptive pill, you probably won’t notice that you’ve lost your period either. You’ll still be getting an ‘artificial period’ caused by the hormones in the pill, not reflective of your fertility or your hormonal health at all.

Note 2: If your period was already inconsistent before comp (perhaps due to a past eating disorder or already being too lean) and comp has made it disappear again, you should definitely speak to your doctor and get some blood work done.

YOUR DAMAGE CONTROL PLAN:

Firstly, when you’ve finished comp you need to increase your dietary fats to help support that hormonal function and increase your calories as a whole til you hit a healthy level of body fat. Dietary fats will help regulate hormones so definitely start by bumping those up (ideally working with your coach!). You may choose to take some hormone regulating supplements such as Maca Powder and ATP Science Alpha Venus and generally take steps to de-stress. It is very important at this point that you SCALE BACK YOUR TRAINING. Reduce (or even eliminate) any long cardio you were doing and reduce volume of weights. You will need to give your body some time to regulate, but if you are still struggling to get your period back after a few months I would suggest you speak to your doctor and get some blood work done to ensure you work your way back to full hormonal health.

4. You might end up bigger than you’ve ever been after the comp

After a long period of calorie restriction, you might find it extremely difficult to control your eating. Studies have actually shown that with long periods of calorie restriction, we tend to lose our hunger and fullness cues and over-eat when food is presented to us.

When comp finishes, the discipline that you’ve had in resisting temptation might go out the window. Food is everywhere; it smells good, it tastes good and its hard to say no now that there is no looming deadline of you showing your bits to the world on stage in a bikini.

Or perhaps it won’t, and you keep eating the same amount of calories or only slightly increasing them, yet you’re gaining fat anyway because after a long period of restriction, your metabolism is shot and your body has shifted into survival mode trying to build up those much needed body fat stores just to survive. The result is being able to tolerate a lot less calories than you were able to before you undertook a period of intense dieting.

YOUR DAMAGE CONTROL PLAN:

Neither of the above situations have to happen, and this is how you avoid them:

1. Choose a coach who won’t starve you to stage.

I’ve known girls who are on 700 calories diets leading into a show (this DISGUSTS me). I’ve known girls eating 1000 calories and below for 6 or more weeks leading into the show. Hell, I don’t even put my every day clients on that little calories let alone girls training hard twice a day for a comp! It’s absolutely not on, and you should talk to your coach about expectations leading into a prep. No, they can’t tell you how many calories you will end up on because everyone is different but I personally would pull the pin for a client before they could get anywhere near that low calories and tell them they aren’t ready for stage if I can’t get them lean enough with other methods. Sounds harsh, but I will put a client’s health above all else and there is always another show around the corner that would allow more time to fix their metabolism first.

2. Spend time working your calories UP before you start your prep.

I like to get my girls eating over 2,000 calories before we start the diet phase. This helps to teach their body to handle a lot of food, so that when the calories drop, they will lose fat without having to push calories too low. This is really important, because if you start with a low calorie base then you have nothing to take a way and will end up on ‘starvation calories.’ This is a good way to avoid long term metabolic damage by ensuring your calories don’t go too low in an attempt to get you lean enough for stage.

2. REVERSE DIET after your show.

Increase your calories slowly, with the help of your coach. If your coach doesn’t give you a reverse diet, then find someone who will (and never go back to that coach, because they don’t care about your long term health!). You don’t want to chuck them up too fast, to allow time for your body to adapt. But similarly, if it’s too slow you’re just extending your period of calorie restriction and thus potential for metabolic damage.

5. You might develop disordered eating habits or an unhealthy relationship with food.

If you have had an eating disorder before, competing is highly likely to bring up those feelings again. And even if you haven’t, you can fall into the trap of “post comp blues” and desperately want to stay at that lean level that you were on stage.

Even when you have a strong mindset, it can be hard watching your body gain weight. I struggle with it every time, but objectively I know that I can’t stay comp lean or my health (and my social life!) will suffer long term. It’s really hard at the start but you WILL reach a point where you actually love your body at that slightly curvier weight where your body is healthy and thriving. You’ll train better, you’ll think better, and you’ll have more balance and happiness than you can when you constantly restrict your food intake and choices.

YOUR DAMAGE CONTROL PLAN:

If you already have disordered eating habits, or an eating disorder then don’t compete. Honestly, just wait until your mind has fully recovered.

If you’ve had a past eating disorder, make sure you work with a coach who has an understanding of that mindset. I’ve worked with many girls with eating disorders/ past disorders and I’ve been there myself when I was younger, so I understand the battles they face in their mind and whether or not they are ready for something like comp prep.

Regardless or not of whether you’ve had an eating disorder, find a coach who has competed and understands the mental game that follows so they can coach you PSYCHOLOGICALLY through the weeks after comp. The few weeks after comp are honestly harder than the prep itself, so make sure you have a coach who has been there, and whom you can trust and be extremely open and honest with so they can help you through the aftermath safely.

6. Your performance at work will suffer.

If you work in the corporate world, be prepared for your performance in the office to dwindle. Your concentration will be poor, your alertness impaired and your productivity slowed down. I’m lucky as a Personal Trainer that my clients see how hard I physically work to get ready for stage, so they are understanding when I become a bit forgetful or a bit of a “space cadet” as I like to call it. Your boss might not be so understanding.

YOUR DAMAGE CONTROL PLAN:

Talk to your boss and your colleagues about what you’re doing and the fact that its a temporary thing. Explain that you will be dieting hard and you expect you might not be as switched on as usual. Hopefully, if you’ve been there a while they will be understanding and find your silly little mistakes laughable. If you’ve just started your dream job in a fast paced new company, perhaps you should reconsider competing until you’ve an established rapport in that company. Comp prep will affect everyone differently, but I think its worth making sure it’s not going to have too much impact on your career.

Do I still recommend competing?

To summarise, I still think competing is an incredible experience. Given it’s very tough on your body and your health, I wouldn’t recommend doing it long term but doing a competition or a few can certainly teach you so much about yourself!

I coach girls to compete, and I love doing so; watching them grow and change not just physically but mentally. But I always outline the truths about prep before they commence to decide if it’s really something that they want to do. I’m also very honest with my girls as to if and when they are ready to compete. This includes mentally (their strength of mindset), physically (amount of lean muscle and/or what body fat percentage they are currently holding); and metabolically (how much food they are eating). This is because although competing is inevitably always going to be harsh on your body, I aim to do it in the healthiest way possible for all of my clients. No poverty calories, no extreme levels of cardio, no crazy or unnatural supplement regimes. I prep myself this way and give the same respect and honesty to my girls, even if that means telling them they need a two year plan to get on stage. It’s not worth rushing your body into it when it’s not ready and sacrificing your health to get there.

#competitionprep #bikinicompetition #bikinimodel #fitnesscompetition #menstrualcycle #bodybuilding #naturalbodybuilding #leanmuscle #abs #fitnessmodel #workout #trainingtips

Gut Healing Pumpkin & Chickpea Soup (using bone broth)


Bone broth has become increasingly popular lately for its wonderful health benefits.

It’s super high in collagen, making it excellent for healing the gut, strengthening skin and nails and protecting the joints. It’s also great for detoxification, boosting the immune system and firing up the metabolism.

The only DOWNSIDE of drinking bone broth is it tastes like 3 week old sweaty feet!! Seriously, the first time I tried to drink a cup of the stuff expecting a salty kind of ‘stock’ flavour I nearly puked. I’m pretty good at eating or drinking things that don’t taste great ‘just because they’re good for me’ but I couldn’t stomach the broth. So I thought to myself; there’s GOT to be a way I can hide this in my food so I can reap all it’s amazing healing benefits without noticing the ghastly taste??

Introducing…. My pumpkin and chickpea soup with hidden bone broth!

Ingredients:

  • Half a large butternut pumpkin
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Bone Broth Powder or Liquid; whichever you prefer (I used NutraOrganics Chicken Bone Broth Powder in Garden Herb Flavour)
  • Stock powder (optional; you can split this with bone broth 50/50 if you want to or just use pure bone broth)
  • Mingle ‘Sahara’ seasoning or other seasoning of choice to add flavour to your soup
  • 1 tbsp organic butter
    MCT oil or coconut oil
  • Coriander or other fresh herbs to serve

Method:

  1. Cut the butternut pumpkin into pieces of similar size, removing the skin and seeds. Lightly wipe with some MCT or coconut oil and bake in the oven at 220 fan forced for approximately 40 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
  2. Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and spread evenly on a tin lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with some MCT oil and seasoning of choice to add flavour. I used the Mingle Sahara seasoning which is really clean, fructose free and adds a Moroccan style taste which was perfect for this soup combo! Bake in the oven with the pumpkin for approximately 25-35 minutes or until the chickpeas are golden brown and crispy.
  3. While the pumpkin and chickpeas are cooking, chop your onion slicing into medium size pieces. Heat in a deep saucepan with 1tbsp organic butter until the onions start to caramelise. Once onion is nearly cooked add the cloves of garlic and continue to heat until brown.
  4. If you’re using powder bone broth, make 500ml of broth according to packet instructions. As mentioned you may choose to use some stock powder as well if you’re worried about the bone broth flavour. Add to the saucepan and heat lightly for 1 minute. Remove the onions/ broth mix from heat and set aside.
  5. Once all ingredients are prepared set them aside to cool. Leave half the chickpeas aside for a soup topper if desired.
  6. Once they have cooled down you can add them to your thermomix or blender and start to blend! Blend on medium speed until all ingredients are combined (approximately 1 minute). Check the consistency and if you would prefer a thinner soup you can add more bone broth until you get the consistency you like. Blend again for a further 2 minutes to ensure all ingredients are blended smoothly.
  7. Heat and serve, topping with some of the leftover chickpeas, coriander, salt and pepper! You could even mix through some low fat coconut milk if you want to make the soup creamier.

Bon appetit and happy gut healing!

#health #healthyeating #fibre #nutrition #training #weightloss #fatloss #leanmuscle #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthfood

The Great Debate: Clean Eating vs. IIFYM and which dieting method you should choose

Two of the biggest eating trends for improving body composition are ‘Clean Eating’ and ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM).

They are two very conflicting ideals, yet they have both helped people to achieve their weight loss, fat loss and muscle growth goals. In this post I explore the advantages and disadvantages of both lifestyles, so you can determine which will best suit YOU.

Clean Eating

The idea behind clean eating is to eat as close to nature as possible. This means eliminating processed and refined foods, and only eating foods that are free from artificial additives and preservatives. Essentially, you won’t buy anything that comes in a packet – it has to be able to be farmed or caught in nature. Unless, of course, you have analysed the ingredient list and determined the product to be free of anything that isn’t ‘naturally occurring’, or anything that you can’t pronounce.

Advantages

It focuses on eating healthy, natural foods. We all know that eating natural, unprocessed foods is better for our health. Eating clean is a way of eliminating processed foods, which are generally high in sugar, fat, and/or artificial additives/sweeteners/preservatives which have been found to be linked to diseases and cancers.

There is no calorie restriction – You can eat as much food as you like, provided it’s all ‘clean’. This means no starving yourself – you simply eat when you’re hungry. It’s structured and simple – it’s clear what foods are off-limits and easy to follow without the need to count everything.

Disadvantages

You need to be moderately savvy with food labels – Reading food labels will be a must. You need to look at the ingredients list on the back of the packet (if you choose to include packet foods) to ensure that all the ingredients are clean. You will need to be able to recognize trick words like “Natural Flavouring”, which is generally not natural at all. You can’t fall for the “all natural” claim on the front of the packaging either. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can’t recognize all the ingredients, and if you can’t go and buy each individual ingredient in the supermarket yourself, then you shouldn’t buy it. Where can you buy a bottle of Natural Flavouring? You can’t.

Not all ‘clean’ foods are conducive to your body composition goals – Clean eaters love their date based bars, fruit and nut bars bound with honey, raw desserts, and abundance of fruits etc. But these foods are often high in sugar and/or fats despite boasting a ‘clean’ ingredient list. If your goal is weight loss or fat loss, then you need to watch the amount of sugar you are consuming in these kind of products. Whether it’s natural or not, sugar is sugar and having too much of it won’t help you lose weight.

It restricts the food groups you can eat and can breed obsession – Some people can become fixated on the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, which can lead to an unhealthy and obsessive mindset. You know those friends who pick at their meal when they’re out for dinner and claim to not be hungry? The friends who are all of a sudden a gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free, soy-free vegan? There has been a rise in a new eating disorder known as “orthorexia”, where people refuse to eat any food that isn’t classified as healthy. Although I promote eating clean the majority of the time in the interests of your overall health and disease prevention, it’s important to have balance and not completely deprive yourself in a world where we are surrounded by so many beautiful, delicious and unique foods to try!

IIFYM

IIFYM allows you to eat anything, provided it fits within your daily macronutrient requirements, as pre-determined by a coach or a macro-nutrient calculator. Some people also track micronutrients and dietary fibre.

Advantages

There is freedom of food choice – You can literally eat anything, as long as you can fit it within your macros for the day. Hello, ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Flexibility can make it easier to adhere to – eating out is easier, because you can account for it in your macros for the day. You can still eat foods you enjoy like the odd chocolate, protein bar, or ice cream. The benefit of eating in this way is that long-term adherence is easier when your eating is less restricted.

Disadvantages

You have to calculate everything – Firstly you need to work out how many grams of protein, fats and carbs you need per day to achieve your goal (I recommend having an experienced coach do that for you, as some of the calculators online can give out questionable results!). Then you need to work out how you want to fill those macros each day. Although it sounds easy, 100g of chicken is not 100g of protein. It contains about 31g of protein and 4g of fat. You need to work this out for everything you put in your mouth, which involves a lot of weighing, counting and research.

Although this gets easier as you go and start to learn the macronutrient content of your regular foods, unless you want to eat the same meals every day, then you will spend a lot of time counting your food on My Fitness Pal. It’s a time consuming process.

It’s not necessarily healthy – Just because you can eat ice-cream all day and still hit your macros doesn’t mean you should! They are still highly processed, full of sugar and fat, and contain toxic additives. Using IIFYM as an excuse to eat junk fund while ‘getting shredded’ will still have consequences on your health. It’s so important to get enough vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables. If you fill up your macros with junk food, you’re missing out on certain nutrients vital to your health. Some people will track their micronutrients as well, but again that is a time consuming process.

It can be overly tempting – Although the norm is not to fill your macros with junk, when the options are open, some people struggle to resist temptation. Eating foods high in sugar causes your blood sugar level to spike and then drop, which results in you craving ANOTHER sugar hit to give you energy again. This can become a vicious cycle of cravings and sugar hits, leading to poor food choice after poor food choice. Another problem people may have is if they indulge too much early in the day, forcing them to ration their macros for the rest of the day. Leaving yourself to go hungry and eat a dinner of pure lettuce leaves because you already used up your macros is not healthy physically or mentally.

What works for me?

I personally prefer a HYBRID approach. I care a lot about eating highly nutritious food and avoiding too many toxins in my lifestyle, especially in what I eat. Eating clean is an effective way to minimize exposure to artificial additives/sweeteners/preservatives that can contribute to disease and maximize intake of vitamins and minerals. I also love healthy food because it makes me feel more energized and happy! Junk food always makes me feel sick or groggy.

However, I’m human and get cravings and enjoy the occasional pizza or ice-cream. But because I fuel my body well and can see the benefits in how well I function and feel, it motivates me to eat well the majority of the time. I still track my macros, but I usually repeat the same meals each day for a week so I don’t have to obsessively track every single day or stress out that I have no carbs or proteins left and have to eat a tub of coconut oil for dinner (gross hey!). I’ll plan out what I feel like for the week, and generally adhere to that until the following week where I’ll change any meals that I’m getting bored of.

This is the approach I use for my clients too- I provide them with macros, but I also give them an easy to follow meal plan with the best way to fill those macros for best results and overall health. If they don’t want to track, they don’t have to; they can just follow the meal plan which includes multiple switches so they can design and create healthy meals they still enjoy! That way, the individual can work out what method is easiest for them to stick to long term and therefore achieve the best result possible!

What will work for you?

You need to work out which approach will be most convenient, manageable and thus sustainable for you and your lifestyle. What will allow you to stick to your eating plan? Do you like to have rules about what foods to eat and what to avoid? Do you feel better eating clean foods? Perhaps you have food intolerances and clean eating is the best way to manage them. Or do you enjoy having flexibility in your diet to have some treats? Do you love eating out a few times a week, and are not willing to sacrifice that? If you had flexibility in your diet, would you have the willpower to still eat healthy foods the majority of the time? The reality is both methods can help you achieve weight loss, fat loss, or muscle gain – you just have to find the one that best suits you. No two people are the same, and thus no diet will work for everyone. Experiment, work out what you find sustainable, and stick to that, because it is consistency that is more important than which lifestyle you choose to follow.

With love,

B. xx

#health #healthyeating #fibre #nutrition #training #weightloss #fatloss #leanmuscle #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthfood #iifym #macros #macrorecipes

Raw Salted Caramel Slice

After much anticipation, here is the recipe for my raw salted caramel slice!

This rich caramel treat is made from clean ingredients and is a healthier alternative to the original.

However given it is made from nuts, dried fruit and maple syrup, it is still quite high in natural sugars and healthy fats, so I suggest it be consumed in moderation 😉

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 1.5 cups almonds
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp melted coconut oil
For the caramel:
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1.5 tbsp unhulled tahini
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup cashews (soaked for 6+ hours until soft)
  • A pinch of pink sea salt
For the chocolate:

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup raw cacao

2 tbsp du chocolat powder

A pinch of pink sea salt

Method

  1. Line a tray with baking paper
  2. Process the ingredients for the base in a food processor or blender until it forms a kind of crumb. Transfer it into the tray and knead it together, pressing it tightly so that it will stick. Set this layer in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Process the ingredients for the caramel in a food processor or blender until it becomes a smooth, thick consistency. You will probably need to give it a few stirs, and maybe add a little water to help it blend, but you want it to be relatively thick.
  4. Pour the caramel on top of the set base layer and smooth it over. Return to the freezer until the caramel is set (approx one hour).
  5. Mix the ingredients for the chocolate layer in a bowl. Pour on top of the set caramel layer. Quickly smooth it over- it will set quite quickly because of the coldness of the caramel layer.
  6. Return to freezer for another 15 minutes or so until chocolate is set, then slice.

Note: store in the freezer for best results.

#health #healthyeating #fibre #nutrition #training #weightloss #fatloss #leanmuscle #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthfood

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