It’s Time For A Spring Clean

The 1st of March is technically spring although I don’t believe it because it’s still FREEZING. But the crocuses are coming out in the parks and it’s now light by about 6:30am which makes those early morning training sessions all the more bearable. 

My brain has start to motor forward to summer and those lovely warm mornings when we can run with the sun on our backs and lazy evening swim sessions. Remember that summer bodies are made in winter, it’s not a quick fix that you can do when you realise that you’ve got to be in a bikini in 3 weeks. Put in the work now and you’ll reap the benefits when you look fit as f*ck in summer. 

Start with your mind, it’s time to blow out the cobwebs of winter:

– Go out for a walk or if you’re not fortunate enough to live in the countryside then jump on a train until it looks green out of the window. Take a load of snacks and water, plot a route that sounds manageable and off you go. It’s great exercise for the brain as well as the body

– Try reading a new book that you might not have picked up before, it’ll wake your brain up if you’ve spent the winter hibernating with Game of Thrones or Mad Men. Try Us by David Nicholls, The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins or Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese, all books that I’ve enjoyed recently

– Sign up for a challenge, physical or otherwise. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish or learn to roller skate? Now’s your time to push yourself with the longer days and promise of sunshine!

Now for the body:

– Try and cut out refined sugar for 30 days. I know, it’s a toughie but you’ll feel the benefits very quickly. Things like biscuits, chocolate and cake are out but if you start looking into it there are healthier alternatives. There’s still some sugar in things like agave nectar, coconut sugar or raw honey but they go through less of a process than white or brown sugar so there’s less chemicals hitting your system. Give it a go!

– If you’re a caffeine fiend now is the time to start cutting down. By removing stimulants you’ll learn to listen to your body more and read your ups and downs. After a few days any headaches and cravings will disappear, especially when you realise how much more balanced and level you feel

– Step up your high intensity cardio (alongside your weight sessions) to torch any hibernation body fat, now is the time to start ‘leaning out’ before bikini season. By starting early and slowly your summer body will be much easier to maintain throughout the season of BBQs and ice cream

Who else is doing some spring-cleaning? 

The Clean Eating Revolution

You might have heard people talking about ‘clean eating’ but what does it actually mean? Well, there’s different levels of clean eating. 

For example, you could go hardcore and do a Whole30 which cuts out all sugar, dairy, legumes and grains or you can do a slightly more lifestyle-friendly version, which is what I’m doing.

The rules are very simple. If it came out of a packet and has been processed far beyond its natural state, don’t eat it. So that means trying to steer clear of:

Bread (especially white or over-processed types)

Pasta

Cakes/biscuits and anything sweet or dessert like

Most dairy (minus a bit of feta or greek yogurt here and there)

‘But what is there left?’ I hear you cry. Plenty is the easy answer. You can eat all vegetables (although try to stay away from canned veg and beans as they often have stabilisers and other chemicals in them), meat, fish, brown/basmati rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, dark chocolate (with 3 ingredients or less), nuts etc. 

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A typical day of clean eating:

Breakfast – green smoothie (½ banana, handful of berries, 10 pieces of cucumber, a big handful of spinach or kale, 1 stick of celery, juice of ½ lemon, 2 tsp flaxseed, 1 tsp chia seeds)

Morning snack – a few almonds or macadamia nuts

Lunch – baked chicken breast with spices, baked sweet potato, steamed green vegetables, raw spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, ½ avocado, drizzle of olive oil

Afternoon snack – 100g greek yogurt with a chopped apple or berries

Dinner – 2 egg omelette with mushrooms, pepper, spinach and a side salad (spinach, cucumber, spring onion, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice)

Evening snack – 1 square of 90% dark chocolate

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When I’m focusing on eating ‘clean’ foods 80-90% of the time, I feel less bloated, my energy levels throughout the day stay much more constant rather than peaks and troughs and I feel stronger and more focused in the gym. It’s also really good for building lean muscle without increasing body fat whilst doing the right sorts of workouts. 

I eat out at least once a week with friends and the key to sticking to your clean way of life is to pick things off the menu that are as unprocessed as possible, preferably without sauces which are often loaded with salt or sugar. If you do want to indulge yourself then go for it but try to limit it to once a week if possible. 

Let me know how you get on! 

Quick and easy dinners

The last thing I want to do in the evenings during the week is spend hours chopping and then cooking food, especially if I’ve just worked out. My rule is, if it can’t be on the table within 25 minutes then it’s a weekend dish. 

So here are my top 3 quick ‘n’ healthy dinner recipes..

1) Asian spiced salmon with vegetable stir fry

1 x fillet of organic salmon (approx 200g)

Spices (five spice, cumin, garlic)

Assortment of vegetables (aubergine, onion, pak choi, mushrooms etc.)

Gluten free soy sauce

1 x teaspoon Thai green curry paste

1 x tablespoon coconut oil

Melt the coconut oil in a wok and add in the curry paste. Fry the paste until it smells amazing. Chop all of the vegetables (you can be fancy and julienne them or just cut them into cubes all roughly the same size) and throw them into the pan. In the meantime, season your salmon fillet and roast in the oven at 180 celcius for 10-15 minutes. It should still be pink and flakey. Serve in a bowl with a splash of soy sauce.

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2) Simple salad

1 x handful of lettuce leaves

4 x cherry tomatoes

8 x slices of cucumber

1 x spring onion

½ x sweet pepper

1 x cooked beetroot

150g of protein of your choice

Dressing (2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tsp wholegrain mustard, pinch each of salt/pepper/sugar – shake up in a jar and keep in fridge)

Chop and combine all ingredients. Dress with 1 x tablespoon of dressing

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3) Quick Tuna Stew

1 x tbsp olive oil

Assortment of vegetables (onion, aubergine, courgette, peppers)

1 x tin of tomatoes

1 x tin of pole & line caught tuna

Spices (cumin, garlic, chilli flakes, paprika)

1 x handful of green beans

5 x brussel sprouts

Chop up the assorted vegetables and cook gently until soft. Add in tin of tomatoes and tin of tuna with spices. Allow to bubble for 15 minutes. Steam the beans and brussel sprouts (I use a bamboo steamer, it’s brilliant…) and serve everything in a big bowl. This is like a big tummy hug in a bowl!

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