Sunday, 28 February 2016

Nemesis Coaching - 4 Weeks In

Some of you will be aware that I recently won 6 months coaching with Nemesis PT. Today marks 4 weeks of online coaching, and also 4 weeks of not binge eating! When I started my plan I had high hopes of changing my body through hard work and good nutrition, but I never fully expected to change my eating habits. I've been stuck in this cycle of binge, guilt, be good, binge for about 2 years now so I really just thought of it as something I'd unwittingly do for the rest of my life. Lets not get ahead of myself - it has only been 4 weeks - but it feels like an accomplishment.

When Sharon sent me my macros for week 1 I was pretty pleased - over 2000 calories, including a generous 250g carb allowance! For someone who was trying and failing to stick to 1400 calories (increased by myself from 1200, slowly in fear of gaining weight!) it felt like Christmas day! Despite warnings from people that I'd probably gain weight, I embraced the increased volume of food and actually lost 2lb that first week! I haven't been hungry at all since starting the plan and that's probably the reason I've managed to stick to it so well - I'm not looking for food at the end of the day and shoving 2 packs of M&Ms, 4 slices of toast and half a box of cereal down my throat! Instead of struggling to keep carbs/fat low, I was actually struggling to get enough! Little things like buying seeded loaf instead of whichever bread had the lowest grams of fat per slice and actually allowing myself to have butter on said bread have felt like a right treat! 

Sharon reduced my carbs at the start of week 4 but by a barely noticable amount. No difference to my hunger levels! However I feel like my progress has stalled this week. I woke up with a sore neck at the start of the week and could barely move my head. It felt like a pulled muscle but I'm not sure if I just slept funny or what. It was agony anyway and I haven't managed to train since Tuesday from the pain and fear of making it worse. I was worried about undoing all my progress as I'm not doing anything to burn off all those carbs but I trusted my coach's advice and have done my best to keep my macros the same, despite feeling fat and fed up! To top it all off my time of the month made an appearance but maybe that accounts for the bloated, fat feeling.

I got a shock when I compared this weeks photos with my earlier ones - you can visibly see the difference in these photos of my back! My measurements have been coming down each week and my clothes have felt a little looser but I hadn't actually noticed any change in the mirror.

I've really enjoyed the training Lainey has given me too. Going from a basic council gym to a much larger, better equipped one has made all the difference. I was reluctant at first as I didn't want to spend extra money but I think it's worth it. I have been given a mix of push, pull and leg days, along with a cardio session and rest day, with a strength/hypertrophy cycle. I like that each day is different - I'm not repeating the same exercises in the same week. I've spent a lot of time on the Bodybuilding website this month trying to figure out what I'm meant to be doing but I'm getting used to it all! One of my aims is to increase the weight I can lift at each session and I think I'm doing ok so far. Lainey says she's happy with it anyway! 

I like the fact that I have to check in with my coaches every week. Not only is it an opportunity for me to look back and assess the week but it means that I'm held accountable and getting feedback from another perspective. I'm conscious of being as open and honest as possible to achieve the best possible results from this plan. I'm a firm believer that you get out what you put in and I am determined to make the most of these 6 months with Nemesis! 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Ultimate BBQ Feast at Cue, Aberdeen

There is nothing I love more on a hot summer's day than a good family BBQ, a jug full of Pimms and a couple of chilled ciders with my favourite people. A freezing cold winter Sunday afternoon in the north east of Scotland is not the ideal conditions to get stuck into BBQ food. Until now...

Cue Barbecue is the brainchild of enterprising duo Chris Tonner (Eat Beetroot) and Scott Fraser (Angus & Oink) and aims to bring authentic Southern flavours to the people of Aberdeen. They were inspired by a trip to Grillstock BBQ festival and time spent in the southern and latin Americas and have successfully transferred the traditional dirty, meat market style of eating to their restaurant tables with passion. You can feel that passion from pitmaster Scott as he talks us through the menu and how it all happened. It's the sort of soul food that really brings people together. The smokey aroma from the kitchen welcomes you with open arms and you can't wait to get stuck in to a big juicy plateful!

The restaurant has been completely transformed from it's Courtyard days. Gone is the fancy fine dining atmosphere. It's been replaced by funky artwork, long wooden benches and fire engine red stools, Animal skulls and axes hang from the walls. Keep an eye out for Cue's mascot, Unihog! The Old Hickory smoker upstairs was transported all the way from America and is one of only two in the whole of Scotland. (It's so big they had to hire a forklift to get it in through an upstairs window!) There's a proper old school Texan feel, with a family atmosphere. The tables are well stocked with napkins and all the other essentials - etch-a-sketch and rubik's cubes obviously!

We kicked off with some tasty cocktails (the dangerous kind that taste just like juice!) and a portion of fried chicken wings. There's a full line up of Angus & Oink hot sauces ready and waiting at the table. I recommend the Rampant Angus and the fiery Voodoo Mango, which should come with a warning! 

We basically worked our way through the entire menu, sampling pulled pork and brisket rolls, Louisiana muddy gumbo and a tray full of pulled pork, ribs, brisket and various types of sausage. Cue has been working closely with John Davidson butchers, who provide all their meat, and have even crafted their very own spicy black pudding, made with chorizo and fennel. The pulled pork was my favourite from the selection, closely followed by the jalapeno and cheese sausage. These meats can all be ordered by weight, meaning you can mix and match to tuck into a range of foods from the menu! An unusual concept that works well for the indecisive diner.

It's not all about the carnivores though. Vegetarians are also well catered for at Cue with everything from Big Mamma's mac n cheese to Texan rootin tootin vegetable chilli. The roots manouvre tacos were full of flavour and the monster mushroom burger looked impressive too! Sides of seasoned fries, moonshine onion rings, a very popular potato salad and a rainbow of different slaws and pickles were devoured by all. The sweet corn bread muffins were a particular highlight for me and would be delicious soaked in the juices from the succulent Mr Rubba Rubba pork shoulder!

Even after all that, we managed to squeeze in a taste of dessert! Key lime cheesecake, pecan pie and the ridiculously moreish banoffee pie were all a big hit. 

Cue is an exciting new addition to Aberdeen's restaurant scene, guaranteed to satisfy the city's foodies. You will roll out with a full belly and a happy heart! My next visit is already planned for less than 2 weeks time and I'll hopefully make the pilgrimage to try their brunch soon too - buttermilk pancakes with crispy smoked bacon and maple? Yes please!  

Find Cue at 1 Alford Lane, Aberdeen. Booking details here.

(Under fives eat free!)

*I was invited by Julia on Cue's behalf to sample their menu. As always the views expressed here are all my own and 100% genuine.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Disappointing Lunch at Prep Fitness Kitchen, Glasgow

On the first week of my new nutrition plan, I happened to have a weekend away in Glasgow. The timing was pretty bad as it's harder to stay on plan when away from home and eating out, but I was determined not to fuck up at the first hurdle! Luckily for me Prep Fitness Kitchen opened on Bath Street the week before and promised to make my macro-counting, health freak life a whole lot easier! A restaurant dedicated to fitness, and helping it's customers stay in control of their nutrition - macro values are listed for every item on the menu and even available to search on My Fitness Pal!

The menu offers a build your own meal option where you can pick from a variety of protein and carb sources, vegetables and sauces, or you can choose one of their salads, baked sweet potatoes. sandwiches or omelettes all with healthy fillings available. Protein shakes, bulletproof coffees, juices and coconut water are just some of the drinks options and their protein treats look amazing -especially the cheesecakes, blondies and banana bread! They're open 11am-11pm every day and even offer takeaway meal prepping services - ideal for busy, health conscious citizens of Glasgow! 

We arrived around 3pm for a late Saturday lunch. (I'd already had 2 breakfasts ok?!) The restaurant was fairly busy but not overcrowded and we were seated quickly and given menus to browse. It didn't take us long to decide but the staff left us waiting for a considerable amount of time. Two different members of staff approached us on separate occasions, trying to serve us food that wasn't ours. Both times we told them we were still waiting to order yet it took another 10 minutes or so for anybody to actually serve us!

I ordered a matcha tea with chicken, roast pepper, pesto and goats cheese sandwich on freshly baked sourdough. The sourdough was not freshly baked, in fact it was pretty damn stale to be honest. Gordon went for the "Not Even Cheatin" protein shake - 70% cocoa, almond milk, peanut butter, chocolate whey. He also ordered a sourdough chicken sandwich with the mango, smashed avocado, pistachio and basil filling. He hates the taste of both avocado and almond milk but the waitress said these could easily be swapped for alternatives - they'd replace the almond milk with regular skimmed milk and swap the avocado for extra mango.

Unfortunately neither of these swaps were made. We'd waited so long to be served that he didn't want to make a fuss and ate it anyway, but obviously didn't enjoy any of  it! It's pretty disappointing that a restaurant specifically catering for people's individual dietary requirements can't do something as simple as this. Luckily for them Gordon doesn't track his macros so the extra fat they added to his meal doesn't really matter, but for some people it would be a pretty big deal!

I ordered protein pancakes with banana and chocolate to takeaway for later, hoping they'd be better than the rest of our experience.

It was another long wait for anyone to approach us again after we'd eaten, by this point the restaurant was slowly emptying so there really was no excuse for such slow service. When we finally received our bill it had only the pancakes listed! As much as I'd of loved to only pay that, I knew it wasn't right. The waitress clearly hadn't noticed that we'd been sitting there for well over an hour by now! 

Overall our experience at Prep Fitness Kitchen was just really disappointing. There's been so much hype and excitement about the opening of the restaurant that I got my hopes up and expected to be blown away but the food was just okay. The sandwich fillings were tasty but the stale bread ruined it. The pancakes were definitely the highlight and the only thing I'd recommend trying. I'm hoping the issues we had are just teething problems. I really like the concept of the restaurant and it has the potential to be a great destination for fitness fanatics in Scotland, but it just needs a little more work. Some attention to detail and customer service training for a start!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Dinner at The Grill on the Corner, Glasgow

Our wedding is less than 6 months away and I am probably the world's most unorganised bride. There's still so much to do and I keep just putting things off to avoid feeling stressed about it all! Probably not the best idea. One thing I have been doing lately is trying to find a MUA for the day. I had my first ever spray tan and a make-up trial on Friday before we headed down to Glasgow for the weekend! I'm not usually a high maintenance kinda girl so I made the most of feeling pretty for a change and booked us a table at Glasgow's Grill on the Corner.

I'd heard lots of good things and was looking forward to a few cocktails and a decent feed with my future husband! The Grill on the Corner is the perfect setting for a romantic Valentine's dinner, The restaurant is charmingly lit with fancy chandeliers, grand candelabra and twinkling fairylights hanging from the windows, giving it a sexy, sophisticated atmosphere. We arrived early and started with a drink in the bar. The cocktail list is right up my street with so many fruity flavours - I'd recommend the passionfruit fizz or a good old Pornstar martini! 

As it was my first week of my new training and nutrition plan with Nemesis, I was determined to stay on track! Luckily I have a generous carb allowance so I enjoyed the baked sweet potato wedges to start, while Gordon devoured a delicious looking plate of salt and pepper calamari. You can't go to a grill without eating something, well, grilled so we both opted for steaks for our main course! A medium cooked 310g rump steak with baked potato and peppercorn sauce for me, and 200g fillet, rare, with home cut chips for Gordon. My steak was slightly tough but tasted awesome and I was impressed with the baked potato. Crispy skin, full of flavour and perfectly fluffy inside - healthy options need to taste good too! Both were a good size and so filling that we didn't have any room for dessert! Probably a good thing cause, you know, macros...

The decor, food and service were all first class. Staff were friendly and professional throughout. I'd recommend becoming a Blackhouse Card Member if you're planning a visit - I joined a few days before our booking, showed the waitress the e-mail and received 20% off our bill! Get your next date night planned and get to the The Grill on the Corner at 21-25 Bothwell Street - on the corner, obviously! 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

SFN Goes Commando!

Earlier today I met up with a bunch of SFN Expo ambassadors for a hardcore training sesh at Commando X Fit in Glasgow... I'm still buzzing from the whole thing! It's a pretty intimidating set up for a crossfit virgin like myself but I shouldn't have worried, the commando guys cater for all abilities and it was an awesome workout! The guys are tough yet friendly. They push you to your limits without "breaking" you or making you feel inadequate in any way if you struggle! 

Bad habit - need to get my head up!!

We warmed up with a jog around the building in the pouring rain, followed by some shoulder presses, squats, bicep curls, burpees and push up variations. Then the real hard work started and we worked our way around the circuit in teams of four.

My facial expression for the entire hour!

I'm disappointed in myself for not managing the box jumps... I just couldn't seem to find the momentum. I managed 3 x 40kg squats but used the lighter weights for the rest of those. My biggest accomplishment of the day was the monkey bars. I could never do these as a kid so I was stupidly chuffed with myself for even making it half way along! All in all it was a challenging but fun workout with a brilliant team - I wish there was something like this up in Aberdeenshire!

If you're ever in the area, get in touch with Commando X Fit and get involved! Keep an eye out for them at this year's SFN Expo in Glasgow too, tickets are available now - use SFNAM25 for 10% discount!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

What's cooking?

Today was my third day of my new training programme with a brand new coach (two actually), a brand new nutrition plan and a brand new gym. Actually the gym is pretty old but it's new to me! It's spread over 3 floors so it's a little confusing but it's round the corner from my work and has all the equipment I need. I won 6 months coaching with Nemesis PT via a Facebook competition. The timing couldn't be better as it'll take me right up to the week before my wedding! Both Nemesis coaches, Sharon and Lainey, are a great advert for their business and clearly practice what they preach. Sharon is over seeing my nutrition while Lainey takes charge of my training - I can't wait to see what they can do for me!

I'm going to have to really focus on my nutrition and hit my macros every day. This is the part I usually struggle with! They've given me a pretty high carb and fat allowance compared to what I'm used to so I'm finding it much easier so far! It's only the first week though so I imagine it's going to get harder as the weeks go on and my macros are adjusted. I plan to be super organised and prep meals/snacks ahead, plus make good use of some of the cookbooks I've acquired recently. I really enjoy cooking so I'm quite happy spending a day in the kitchen, listening to Ben Coomber's podcasts or dancing about to the Rolling Stones!

What I've been cooking recently...

Chocolate almond protein porridge - my all time favourite! Make your porridge however you like it (I microwave mine with water), add a spoonful of almond butter, a scoop of chocolate whey protein and mix it all together. Top with banana or frozen berries!

Sweet potato nachos - as good as they look! I used the long bit of a cheese grater to slice my sweet potato thinly, season and then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. They shrink a lot once cooked so make sure you cut the potato length ways. Layer the nachos with cooked chicken, salsa, jalapenos and cheese (I used MyProtein cheese) and put the whole lot back under the grill for five minutes!

Mini Omelettes - I've seen these a lot on instagram lately under various different names! They're easy to make and so handy to grab as a quick snack. I mixed 6 eggs with some turkey bacon, spinach and chopped chillies, poured the mixture into a muffin tray, sprinkled some feta cheese on top and baked them in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Lean in 15 - If you haven't heard of this recipe book you must have been hibernating for a month! The Body Coach is taking over facebook and instagram with his 15 minute fat busting meals. So far I've made the spanish omelette (swapping the chorizo for turkey bacon), Joe's chicken pie (what a treat!) and his cheesy meatballs (technically not in the book but I followed his instructions on Instagram!) I'm not a huge fan of Joe's approach to nutrition but have adapted a few of the recipes by using leaner meats and adding more carbs!

I'll maybe blog a bit more about my new plan, what I'm eating and how my training is going... is there anything in particular you'd like to see more of?

How are you getting on with your own New Year's resolutions/health and fitness goals?
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