Working out with The Body Coach - planning ahead

It's half term this week, so I'll be out and about a lot with the children. I know some of my meals I'll be eating out, Thursday it'll be Pizza Express on the southbank so I'll have some sort of salad, with dressing and Friday lunch in Margate, so probably fish and chips!

So the rest of the week I need to be uber organised and stick to my plan as much as humanly possible. Planning and cooking ahead are the only answer. 

This morning I'm cooking up a feast, using the base ingredients from C2 I've made 4 servings of Green Mince and 4 of Red Chicken. Here are the recipes based on the weights of ingredients for my plan, they'd be easily adjustable.

Green Mince 

680g lean mince

720g yellow pepper, tomatoes and courgette, whizzed to a mush in the blender

200g kale - leaves chopped - stems whizzed in the blender to break them up a bit

160g dark green cabbage (i used this because I didn't have the full amount of kale - chopped

4 large garlic cloves - finely chopped 

2 tspn cumin

1 tspn coriander

pinch of cayenne pepper

salt/pepper to taste

- lightly fry the garlic

- add the mince and brown 

- add the spices 

- add the vegetable mush 

- simmer to reduce the liquid a little 

- add the kale and the stalks mush 

- simmer for about 10 minutes or so until the kale and the cabbage have softened. 

- I'll serve with rice and 1/2 fat sour cream on training days 

Red Chicken 

720g minced chicken 

360g cherry tomatoes chopped in half 

360g red and yellow peppers whizzed in the blender with a tablespoon of tomato puree - I checked with The Body Coach and even though it isn't on the plan I was allowed to use a little for colour and flavour

360 baby leaf spinach (or you could omit the spinach and serve with raw sugar snap peas)

paprika & pinch of red chilli pepper

4 cloves of garlic 

handful of basil leaves 

- fry the garlic then add the chicken til it browns 

- add the tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes

- add the red pepper mush simmer for a few minutes until the chicken absorbs the redness

 - add the basil leaves and some salt

- add the spinach if using until the leaves wilt 

I think this would be delicious with rice or steamed new potatoes.  Serve with your sides!

I've got two more weeks left on C2 and to be honest this week has been a total disaster food wise, I've craved and eaten biscuits, I've been to a couple of parties and eaten cake, brownies, crisps, sausage rolls and a mountain of other horrid food. I've also drunk way too much wine. So this morning's cook-off was a signal to me to get back on track and make the most of the next 2 weeks. 

So now I have at least 8 healthy meals cooked up and ready to go. Plus one from last week. Sorted! 

Working out with The Body Coach - healthy habits

I saw this quote from Jenny Craig this week doing the rounds on twitter: "It's not what you do once in a while; it's what you do day in and day out that makes the difference." 

And she's absolutely right of course. It's the healthy habits that we incorporate into our every day lives that make the real changes especially in the long term. I'm mindful of this this week because I do find it a struggle to be 100% on the programme all the time. 

Monday to Thursday lunchtime it's easy. I plan and prepare so the food and exercise have just become what I do. From Thursday evening I find it harder. It's the weekend! And my mental attitude changes from 'solace in routine' to 'craving spontenaity'. 

It was during one of these struggles that I received some great advice from one of the Body Coach gradulates. She reminded me that the whole idea of the programme is to make it work with your life not against it. That the occassional meal out or glass of wine won't matter much, rather that it's what you do day in and day out that counts. 

This changed things for me because I was able to think about the weekend differently. Instead of it being a free for all from Thursday lunchtime to Monday breakfast, I am thinking about it in the context of individual meals. So if I'm out and about I eat what's on offer, if I can I stick as much to the programme in terms of macros as possible. But I don't beat myself up if it's not. 

For example today is a rest day, we're going to my mother in law's for lunch and I know she's cooking a chicken pie. So I'll eat the pie, probabaly give the pastry to the kids, have extra veg and pass on dessert. I'll probably enjoy a glass of wine as well. It's just one meal, breakfast and dinner I'll eat from the plan.

I ate out on Thursday at 'champagne and fromage' not a single thing on the menu that complies with my plan. I ate out yesterday at Wahaca, again nothing on the menu I should eat. I had people round for dinner on Friday and made a seafood stew and a herb pie, healthy but not on plan, I didn't eat the dessert. But, I have to own up I've eaten some chocolate (mostly 85% stuff but also some of these Marks & Spencer's cornflake bites that I suspect are more addictive than crack or pringles).

So that's four meals out of 21 and a couple of wayward snacks; about 20% of my meals and certainly not the end of the world. Interestingly spot on for the 80:20 rule!

My training was 100%.

I fully accept that my progress will be slower, but I'll be happy and that means I'll stick to it. 

Working out with The Body Coach - Cycle 2

One of the great things about the 90 day SSS is that it comes in three cycles. So for those of us that are great at starting things (see my last post) this is brilliant because we get to start three times! 

Cycle two sees a couple of significant changes to the programme. Gone are the recipes, instead you are given a pick and mix selection of food for both rest and training days. The other change is to the training, the HIIT is still there but it's supplemented with some intense weight training. 

I'm a week in, and to be honest it's not been the best week for me, nothing to do with the programme, but simply because I've eaten out a lot - one part of me feels incredibly grateful that I have friends and colleagues who want to spend time with me socially, another part of me wishes I could say no to cheese, champagne and chips (any tips for this gratefully received).

The pick and mix approach to eating really appealed to me. I carefully wrote out all the things I'm allowed for training days and pinned them on the inside of my food cupboard. I stocked the fridge, but didn't bother meal planning because I thought it would be easy to create something delicious on the fly. And then I could eat what I fancied at the time. In reality this approach didn't work so well, especially when I was running out of the door with the same boring and slightly random lunch again because I hadn't really through it through. 

Also the quantities of foods from the pick and mix don't always lend themselves to the right balance of ingredients to create something delicious. For example, I wanted to make a salsa to go with my fish, but there wasn't enough tomato and far too much onion. This week as part of my meal planning I've written some recipes for myself which I'm hoping will be a more successful approach. If any are particularly good I'll post them next week.

The other thing that is a bit weird is the 'sides' which in my programme are yoghurt, sour cream (low fat) and cottage cheese - in normal life I don't eat dairy products very much because I don't like them so am struggling with the addition of these to every meal including breakfast, as well as the majority of my snacks. 

Because I hadn't meal planned I ended up getting quite confused between the quantities and the snacks allowed on training and non-training days. Also the protein sources are different and got this wrong a couple of times too. Eating salmon on a training day instead of non-training day because I'd taken it out of the freezer and then gone out on my non-training day. I hate wasting food. 

All in all during the course of the week more than a third of my meals were not on plan.

So I'm getting back on track this week and starting C2 again. I've spent some time meal planning - I think this will be more successful than my original going free-style approach, the fridge is well stocked with a harvest festival of goodness. I've got very few social plans and have decided on the one night I'm going out to eat before I go - this gives me a better chance of not eating off plan! 

The training was much more successful. I bought 50kgs of weights - a barbell and some dumbbells and spent some time watching the training videos that Joe sent through with the programme and practising the form in front of the mirror to get it right. 

I also bought a punching bag and some gloves because I'd really enjoyed shadow boxing and thought this would take it to a whole new level - it has. What fun!!

C2 workouts for me are a mix of HIIT - 10 mins on the bike, 30secs at max effort then 30 seconds rest - then 5 sets of 10 reps on the weights - then 10 rounds of HIIT punching - then 5 sets of 10 on the weights using a different exercise. Each day you work out a different body part, arms, chest/back, legs, shoulders. It takes about 45-50 minutes a day allowing for changing weights etc between sets and a warm up and stretching.

The only downside to this extra exercise is that I have to be up at 5.30 in the morning to fit it in before getting the kids up and out to school and me going to work. It's dark and cold! But I've done it and feel great afterwards. 

As always the other people on the programme are massively supportive in social media and are hugely encouraging which helps get me up.

Mentally I've decided to consider last week a rehearsal, and start C2 again this week. I've got a better idea about what my body is capable of weights-wise and am really looking forward to pushing myself a bit harder.

The other good news - I'm back into my favourite skirt, it's a squeeze, but the zip goes all the way to the top! 

Working out with The Body Coach - Progress and Motivation

I'm one of those people that unless I see progress I do find it hard to stay motivated to stick to things. Throughout my life I've started many, many more things than I've finished. I have more than 40 half read books on my kindle.

So after starting the 90DaySSS the first two weeks flew by like a dream, easy as tearing the paper off your Christmas presents. But by the third weekend I was really starting to get bored. Quite bored of the food, finding it a bit tricky to get up in the dark to do my HIIT workouts, I also felt like I was making zero progress. 

To make it even harder we went away for the weekend to a brilliant 40th, so for five meals I didn't cook, had no where to store my own food and frankly was feeling so demotivated I didn't care! So I drank too much prosecco, ate canapes and danced. 

I got back on it on Monday, but without my initial passion.  To add a bit of interest I started to experiment with the meals to mix things up a little. The same core ingredients (macros) but cooked with a different method or flavoured with different spices and herbs. A lot of the meals on the SSS are chinese/stir fry inspired and while I don't mind this every now and again I don't want to eat it all the time. So I made a delicious Paprika Chicken soup; roasted vegetables, tossed in spices, instead of steaming them and substituted mixed herbs for za'taar in the fish cakes (I significant improvement I think).

This, along with an extremely encouraging note from Joe (The Body Coach) got me through the final week of C1. I still didn't feel like I was making progress. 

Anyway I did my stats yesterday and they were significantly better than I thought. My weight has stayed more or less the same, but in my husband's words 'you're denser' ... having lost 3 inches from my chest, 2 1/2 from my waist and a couple from my hips, what with skinnier thighs and arms, I'm 11 inches smaller over all. Happy with that for four weeks (and as I said I haven't been 100% dedicated at the weekends).

I was so pleased with all of that I'm really excited about starting C2 in a couple of days and have bought a weight bench, some free weights and punching bag in anticipation! I'm picking them up from Argos today, but have no idea how I'm going to carry them home and sneak them past the bloke into our spare room. Anyone got a wheelbarrow I can borrow?

I am really keen to be one of Joe's fabulous transformations at the end of 90 days and am sure C2 is going to be the one that really changes things for me. C1 was a good way to get back into fitness after my surgery in an easy and fun way but now I want more! 

Working out with The Body Coach - Drinking

Much of The Body Coach's plan was fairly similar to how I already ate; a low  carb/paleo style diet. One of the things that is really different is drinking. I have to drink 3 1/2 litres of water a day. This is on top of any other drinks and protein shakes. 

This much water has a number of side effects not least the fact that I pee about 50 times a day, which certainly brings its own challenges on the daily commute! On the positive side meetings need to be kept short and I think I'm probably keeping Andrex in business. My skin much clearer and 'plumper' within just two weeks, noticeable enough to be commented on by friends.

The Body Coach asks you to limit coffee to just one cup a day, which I've done on most days - although have had a cheeky second cup on a couple of days. 

For me the greatest of all challenges is the alcohol one. The Body Coach recommends that you don't drink alcohol at all during the 90 days because of the way it interrupts fat burning. I have had a couple of glasses of wine a couple of days a week. I appreciate this might slow down my progress a little, but I love wine and it's a part of my social life that I'm not willing to give up. I have cut down quite significantly though, and that's got to be a good thing. 

I'm now two weeks in to my plan and aside from the small diversions mentioned above I have stuck to the plan religiously - all meals and 5 x HIIT workouts each week, plus the supplements. I'm not feeling any progress yet though. I wonder if it's all too similar to what I was doing before to have the impact that many people experience. Bring on cycle 2 those weights will be something completely different!

working out with The Body Coach - HIIT workouts

One of the key parts of training with The Body Coach is a HIIT workout five days a week. 

HIIT as I'm sure you know stands for High Intensity Interval Training. I'm choosing to do this on the stationary bike because of my foot - I still can't run and jump. So I'm doing a five minute warm up to get the blood moving, then 45 seconds at 100% effort. This means I crank up the resistance and pedal as fast as possible. Then I rest for 45 seconds. Then repeat until I've done 15 fast bursts. 

I then spend five minutes cooling down on the bike to get my heart rate back to normal before I crack on with stretches and the exercises from my physio. 

There are loads of other ways to do a HIIT workout without a bike; there are some brilliant ones on you tube if you need some guidance. 

Here are a few key benefits to HIIT training that I really like ... 

* efficient - the intensity is so high, my workouts only have to be 25 minutes, so even when I'm working I've got time to fit them in before breakfast and getting the kids to school - even if I do have to get up at 5.30.

* burn more fat - apparently the exertion forces your body to produce human growth hormone, which in turn helps you to burn more calories and fat in the 24 hours after your work out as well as during it - fat burning while I rest, YES please!

* it's good for the heart and lungs as it pushes you into the anaerobic zone 

* I can do it at home without special kit, I've been using a stationary bike because of my injury, but you can do burpees, squats, high knees - as long as work in cycles of short bursts of maximum effort and rest

* I love the way it makes me feel - panting to get my breath back, slightly sick, really sweaty - but full of endorphins those happy hormones that make exercise worth every second of effort!

I hope you enjoy your HIIT workouts as much as I enjoy mine.

Working out with The Body Coach day one week one

It's midday and I'm still stuffed from breakfast! And I mean really, really full.

Yes I've received my plan from the body coach and I started today. 

My plan arrived last Monday and I'm glad I gave myself a week to read through, order the supplements and get to grip with the recipes. And what was in my plan? what did I get for my £49 this month? 

It was a 60 page document that is tailored to my needs based on the questionnaire, photos and measurements that I sent to the body coach. In it was: 

* a set of recipes - some for post workout, the rest for the other meals along with sheets so you can menu plan for the week. The recipes require very specific quantities of ingredients (eg 51g of avocado or 8g or coconut oil) so I'm pleased I have some accurate weighing scales. Some are also quite difficult to follow switching between raw and cooked weights of different ingredients. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but cooking new recipes always brings a bit of challenge.

* a recommendation for HIIT workouts using a stationary bike, sprints or links to videos with home workouts. I'll be on the bike as still recovering from foot surgery.

* recommendations for supplements, in my case extra protein, omega 3, amino acids, vit C, E and a multivitamin with full details of when to take them for maximum benefit.

* recommendations for water consumption - lots!

* recommendation for alcohol consumption - none!

I set aside Friday to do the shopping and lots of cooking so I could at least get the breakfasts sorted as I'll do my workouts in the morning and these meals are the most faff! I'm a fairly competent cook and it took me all day; the lunches and dinners I'll have time to cook as I go along. I think preparation willl be critical to success.

So I've had one meal, not only was it so filling I couldn't finish it, I also felt quite weird eating rice and turkey for breakfast. Not unpleasant just strange.


Anyway, it's now time for my mid morning snack. gulp!

New Beginings

So much has happened since I last updated this blog. In summary: 

- ran the Richmond Park marathon in May 2013 (yay!)

- ran Run To the Beat 1/2 marathon in September 2013 (yay!)

- but suffered a lot of foot pain, turned out I'd got a stress fracture that caused posterior tibial tendon disfunction. 

- went to the doctor, stopped running, physio, air-cast, no improvement, 

- had extensive surgery on my foot in April 2014, then got post-surgical DVT in June. All in all it's been a tough few months. 

As a result of not exercising, the surgery, and recuperation (which is way too boring to talk about) I have put on a lot of weight, but worse I have slipped into a negative mental outlook about my body. No longer am I the strong, fit, healthy marathon runner. Instead I walk with a limp, don't fit into any of my nice clothes and want to eat chips and drink wine all the time. It's not a happy space. 

This is perhaps made worse for me because I have written a book about weight loss and regularly cousel clients on the very issues I am experiencing myself. I should know better.

So I went back to my own book 'weightogogo' and it reminded me that I am in control, that I make my own decisions and am responsible for my choices. It reminded me that I don't have to do it all alone, I am allowed to seek help from others in getting my body AND my confidence back. 

I also believe that when you make decisions the universe conspires to help you  fulfil them. So I tuned in and was introduced to the body coach by @emzmorriss

The body coach offers an online 90 day shift, shape and sustain programme. He sends meals and workouts. It's strict but judging by the testimonials highly effective.  

I've signed up, filled in an extensive questionnaire about my eating habits, health and exercise. I've sent off photos of myself in a bikini (awful!) and now I await my programme ready to start on September 1st. 

There's something lovely about anticipation, I'm excited about getting going. 

So I am writing this blog to keep myself accountable to me, and if all goes well I'll post some progress pics too.

Build vs Holiday

I'm generally quite an optimistic and not very moany person. However this winter a whole new side of myself has emerged... the moaner! I don't particularly like this side of me, regardless I have to listen to her all the time. Today it's the 22 March and the weather is still freezing, not just cold, but bitterly icily cold. Tomorrow I am supposed to be running for 3 and half hours and there's snow forecast in London. 

Last Sunday I ran for three hours in icy sleet and howling wind. 

I know there are people out there who love cold, snowy weather. I am not one of them. I hate it. I am miserable; every step I take in it makes me more miserable. It's as though the weather is currently sucking the joy out of my life.  

And to add insult to injury we currently have no heating and no hot water (still) so unless it's fixed tonight I shall not be running for 3 and a half hours tomorrow, I shall not even be running for three and a half minutes. After all there's only so much a sink-bath can do to soothe aching muscles.

But that's the end of my moaning because a week today I shall be landing in a hot country (that's assuming that Heathrow doesn't close because of snow).  I might do some running there or I might swim or I might just lounge by the pool and drink cocktails. Who can say? 

Noel's not overly pleased though, he says it's OK, but is it? really? you judge!

Noel: The next phase in Claire's training is going to be unique and a little bit more challenging. Ordinarily we would progress her training into a Build Phase.  This would involve continuing to develop her long run while looking to translate her hill strength into race specific pace work. This is an important phase as we are no longer just laying the foundation, we're now starting to build the house.

Let's revisit Claire's racing goals for a moment: 'achievement and enjoyment of a tough and challenging goal'.  Claire was not looking to be competitive, beat a certain time or run a personal best. If you are looking to be competitive, beat a certain time or run a new personal best this is absolutely not the time to get injured, poorly or book a holiday.  This is a crucial few weeks for getting your body, mind and fitness race ready to achieve your competitive goals. Given Claire's race goals it is absolutely fine that she's booked her family holiday now, during the most important build weeks....absolutely fine!

It genuinely is fine that Claire's off on holiday, admittedly it's not ideal timing, but it doesn't affect her ability to successfully achieve what she wants. It also compliments her life goals of using running to keep her emotionally well. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to marathon fitness.  We can't cram in extra training in the earlier weeks to make up for what doesn't get done in the next couple, fitness doesn't work like that.  I'm  also not prepared to increase volume in a manner that is not conservative in its progression in order to try and get more running in, in a shorter space of time.  I am certain this would result in injury, illness and a lot of grumpiness.

I believe the vast majority of athletes train by fear.  Fear of what they're not doing and what everyone else is doing.  This fear is only in their heads and rarely actually the case.  This invariably leads to over training.  I will be happy if Claire tells me, after she's run her marathon, that she thinks she could have trained harder.  I'm happy to have Claire under trained on race day, I'd be devastated if I made her 1% over trained. I know how miserable this makes people.  In terms of race day time, being under trained might cost Claire 20-30 mins on the day, 1% over trained will, if she even starts, make the race an hour or so slower.

I also believe that for most people wanting to run for health and fitness, 3 or 4 runs a week is perfect.  This is also plenty for anyone wanting to complete a marathon.  Keeping training moderate and consistent will get you fit and keep you happy.  We're not talking about those people that want to be competitive, beat a time or run a personal best, they need a slightly different approach.  That said moderate and consistent will trump overtraining every time.

So back to Claire's holiday.  She needs to maintain the fitness built since Christmas.  This we have agreed will be through four each week for an hour each.  The plan on Claire's return is subject to change.  We won't be following a usual taper into race week but instead will gauge Claire's fitness post holiday.  We absolutely cannot cram in extra running on her return, we need to look carefully at whether Claire will need extra rest, a bit more running or just more consistency.

Claire's holiday will give her some well earned Rest and Recovery time with her lovely family.  She'll return refreshed and ready to move onto her race preparation.  This is going to put her in a great place mentally... physically?  I reckon she could do it already...

(darling Noel, I love your confidence in me!)

Base 2 - a post from Noel | marathon training 21

OK, so now we should feel like we're training. Some consistent weeks of training under the belt and the volume has slowly increased. The next phase of Claire's training we have called Base 2 and its only a small progression from the previous phase, Base 1. The emphasis is still on easy-ish intensity, slow accumulation of training volume.  We are still concerned with building the widest foundation of fitness we can.

One small change is that we will start to think a little more about mileage as well as time on feet. Up till now the focus has been just time on feet and this is still the case really. I will keep an eye on the distance run now as well, especially during the weekly long run. This isn't something to stress about and we may not even mention it, the most important aspect still being time out on your feet. A consideration here is the weather. Training for a spring marathon in England means you need a relaxed attitude towards mileage sometimes, what ever calibre of runner you are.  If it's horrible outside and you're battling wind, snow or worse just getting out for time is a healthier goal.  It's also too early to be thinking, or worrying, about pace so an easy trick to keep your mind off this is to focus, again, on just the amount of time you're out running. So don't panic if we get a few easier weeks of weather to train in and I ask you to run a distance rather than time.

Having built some solid fitness in Base 1, now is the time to bolt some strength onto your running. The best way to do this is to enlist the help of gravity and find some hills. At this stage I don't want Claire doing specific hill sessions.  The pleasure of running up and down the same hill a dozen times is a treat to savour later on in the training plan. (Claire: Luckily there aren't that many steep hills here in London!). The hills and wind really are your friends at the moment. They help you build strength that you'll need in the latter stages of a marathon. I want Claire to incorporate hills into her training runs as much as possible. I don't want them run hard, just normal pace, but as many as possible. If there's a hill run up it, if there are stairs at a bridge, run up and down them rather than under it.

Don't be scared of the wind.  If its blowing hard don't plan your run to stay out of it. Get out there into it, the wind is another great way of building strength.  My one concession here is that you could plan your run so that the first half is into the wind so that it's on your back for the way home. If you can manage it the other way round though, it'll do you so much more good.

This can be a difficult phase of training psychologically (Claire: luckily I use Hypnogogo to keep my internal dialogue as positive as possible). Raceday might pop into your imagination a bit more often and there is a tendency to worry that your not doing enough. That might be miles or intensity, you need to relax and remember that we are still building that foundation. Keep intensity easy and maintain the focus of time on your feet.

This is a good time to start giving your raceday fuelling some thought. What are you going to eat on raceday? Not just for breakfast but through the race too.  Make a plan now, rather than the week before the race, as you need to practice your race nutrition. If you practice fuelling now, your body will get used to taking on calories while you run and you'll get a feel for how your body reacts to different types of energy. You can refine any aspects you're not happy with so that nothing is new on raceday. I like to think that by practising in training this part of your raceday will become second nature and require less thought on the day. You are also more likely to stay on top of your energy needs through the race,  most people who suffer through a Marathon get it wrong.  If you wait until your energy levels are failing before you take on food you've left it too late.  If we get this aspect straight now, then it mean a lot less to think about during the race.

Claire: I put this nutrition challenge out to twitter and on this blog and was sent some great ideas including: banana, energy bars or balls, raw chocolate, jelly or jelly babies. 

So I am going to try one of these on each of my next long runs, I'll post recipes and a digestion report as I try them. In all honesty I like the idea of mixing them up a bit on raceday but am keen to make sure I can tolerate each in advance. 

I am really not keen to try the gels, by all accounts they are disgusting and I've read they're not as good as a bar of jelly and cup of coffee.

I will also race with fabulous chilly chia to drink. A delicious confection that looks a bit like frog spawn! 

Of course as the race is in May the weather might have warmed up a bit, maybe. Wouldn't that be unbelievably nice?

PS - I bought some new trainers too. I'll take a pic next time I've got them on.

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