Friday, 29 April 2016

Why I'm done with clean eating


I was recently lucky enough to have a question answered by one of the health and fitness industry's most well known and respected nutrition experts, Ben Coomber. As part of the newly launched #AskSFNShow I asked Ben for his tips on dealing with binge eating. You can watch the full video here. I was surprised by his answer and how relevant it was to me. Admitting this is not his expertise, Ben focused not so much on tips to stop, but actually a few thoughts on how binge eating can even start. One of the first things he mentioned was clean eating, which got me thinking...

Clean eating

When I was first introduced to clean eating, it was like a lightbulb moment. I was exercising regularly and eating reasonably well but I'd hit a plateau with my weight loss and had been stuck there for a long time. My diet wasn't exactly horrific - I'd already cut down on takeaways, fry ups and pizzas! Some days dinner would be wholewheat pasta dishes with homemade tomato sauces, but with half a garlic baguette. Other days it was breaded chicken fillets with rice and a jar of Uncle Ben's sweet and sour sauce... granted not the healthiest, but these had been an improvement on my previous diet and had helped me go from a size 16 to size 10, but I was still always unhappy with my podgy little belly. 

So the day I learned about the concept of clean eating, suddenly everything made sense. I'd been consuming processed meats and sugar filled sauces, cereals and yoghurts all this time! Cutting them out initially made a huge difference to my body. I started fitting into size 8 clothes and was the leanest I'd ever been! A few months into this great new "lifestyle", I went to Amsterdam for a weekend, where I wore pencil skirts and crop tops with confidence. I was feeling great but over indulged (like you do on holiday!) and came back feeling bloated and annoyed at myself for eating rubbish. Of course I got straight back to clean eating in an effort to undo the damage, and that I reckon, was the beginning of my long and exhausting battle between my love of food and my fear of getting fat. 
The beginning of my binge eating. 


I don't remember having such strong feelings of guilt and shame about food before then. I ate what I wanted to, when I wanted to, and didn't care. I just enjoyed it! These days my whole life revolves around food and trying to lose fat. I'm a comfort eater and always have been, but it's only over the last couple of years that I've spent evenings eating so much food I feel sick, and then continuing to stuff more and more chocolate into my mouth, until my belly is so swollen and painful that I can't even find a comfortable position to lie in bed! I wake up the next day full of guilt and regret and vowing to get back to eating well.

I've always prided myself on the fact that I've never been on an actual "diet" throughout my entire weight loss journey. However, lately I realise I've been lying to myself! According to the Oxford dictionary this is the definition of a diet:

a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

Clean eating restricts you to particular foods - nothing processed, no refined sugars or grains, everything in as natural a state as possible. For some people this kind of restriction may lead to orthorexia - an obssession with eating foods one considers to be healthy - and ending up underweight and malnourished. For me, it lead to binge eating. I'd eat "good" for so long and then "fail" by eating a bar of chocolate. Well now I've ruined it, I might as well make the most of it and eat every bad thing ever before I get back on the clean eating wagon tomorrow, right? I'd go on to eat a tub of ice cream, a packet of biscuits, 4 slices of nutella toast and half a jar of peanut butter. Not even exaggerating

Food should be enjoyed!

Nobody can argue that meat, fruit and veg aren't good for you, with their many nutritional benefits, but restricting yourself to them? Not so healthy. The weeks that I promise not a single naughty treat shall pass my lips, are the weeks that end in a 1000+ calorie binge. Some foods might not be great for your health or your body composition, but they are good for your soul!

I couldn't disagree more with this meme and it pisses me off every time I see it on social media. If you don't enjoy something, you're not going to stick to it so you're not going to reach your goals! Yes, I am on a pre wedding diet, I am trying to eat healthy and I am counting macros. I may not be eating my soul foods every day, but I am definitely not cutting them out!

Food is a wonderful thing that fuels our bodies and brings people together and it should be enjoyed. Don't deprive yourself. Don't punish yourself for eating the odd burger. You're only human! You wouldn't watch a tv show you don't like, so why should you force yourself to eat things that don't bring you joy? If you don't enjoy running, don't do it! If you don't enjoy salad, don't eat it! If you do enjoy a chocolate chip cookie...? Go ahead and bloody well have one every now and then. Eat it, enjoy it, and carry on with your life. Never think about the cookie again - except to remember how much you enjoyed it! 

I'm slowly working on changing my mind set and feelings towards food. I am done with clean eating. There should be no "good" or "bad" foods. No guilt or self hatred. Scott Baptie did a very interesting talk on this subject at last year's SFN Expo, pulling the whole idea of clean eating apart by forcing you to look at it from other perspectives and making the whole damn thing seem ridiculous in the process. Yes some foods do have more health benefits and I still believe they should make up the majority of your daily food intake, but a little bit of what you fancy does not make you a terrible failure of a human being!

Life is short.
Stay fit and healthy but do what makes you happy, spend time with the people you love & eat the foods that bring you joy!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Lunch at Angus & Ale, Aberdeen

So what do you do when you finally get round to sitting your driving test and somehow miraculously pass first time...?

Drive to Aberdeen for burgers to celebrate, of course! 

Technically we were through for an all important ring purchase, but I can always make time for a good burger. Angus and Ale has been on my radar for a while, and seeing as the new Oliver Bonas store has opened right across the road, it was the perfect time to visit. 

Angus & Ale does exactly what it says on the tin... burgers and beer. They do them so well that Gordon has officially proclaimed it the best burger in Aberdeen! (Full round up feature coming soon!) Most burger joints these days are going for the old school American diner feel but Angus & Ale has more of a clean and sleek looking interior. There's a touch of class with the stylish bar, spotlights and exposed granite feature wall. 

The menu is simple - beef burgers, non beef burgers, sides, sauces and ice cream. All their burgers are made with the highest quality produce - 100% Angus beef, dry aged on the bone for no less than 28 days. Gordon chose the jalapeno option from their specials board and was presented with this gigantic tower of brioche bun, salad, onion rings, burger, jalapenos and cheese. It's the most impressive and instagramable burger I've ever seen and he assures me it tasted just as impressive! As I'm still on a mission to lose a little fat before my wedding day, I opted for the healthiest choice - a chicken burger topped with gherkin and smothered in a delicious mustard mayonnaise, along with a generous side salad instead of the salted rosemary chips. The chicken breast was satisfyingly filling and cooked to perfection - not dry in the slightest!

Situated on Schoolhill between the two shopping centres, its the perfect place for a casual lunch date in the city centre. A relaxed atmosphere and friendly service, along with the chilled reggae sounds of Bob Marley, makes for good vibes all round but the burgers are 100% the star of the show!

Where's your favourite place to go for a decent burger?

Monday, 25 April 2016

VLOG: A Day in the Life - Pull day, shopping & food!

My second day in the life vlog is live on Youtube!

A look at my pull day workout, shopping at the new Oliver Bonas store in Aberdeen, a lunch date at Angus & Ale and the rest of my food intake for the day. Plus I get ripped off in Coast and Gordon tortures me with pizza... enjoy!

Please click "like" (if you did!) and comment, and don't forget to subscribe to my channel!

What would you like to see on my vlogs in the future?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Nemesis Coaching - 12 Weeks In


My high volume plan is full of long and hard sessions, and I've had DOMs for days, especially after a lower body workout. See my YouTube channel for a little peek at my training! Pull day is probably my favourite. One of the best parts of online coaching with Nemesis is the constant feedback and support from my coaches and I can't thank them enough for that. I've gone from barely being able to curl a barbell to managing 18 reps - broken into more managable 3 x 6 with 10 seconds rest pause in between - thanks to Lainey's advice. This month's steady state cardio sessions have seen me cycle for 105 minutes, run 8k and swim a mile in 50 minutes. I don't mind cycling but I don't find it challenging enough - at least with running I feel like I've accomplished something, and swimming always leaves me starving for the rest of the day. No wonder Michael Phelps is eating 10,000 odd calories - I'm pretty sure I could eat that after today!


Last Friday I had a slip up and binged, ruining any chance of progress for that week! I really shouldn't be left unsupervised. After a pep talk from Sharon at check in, my mind is back on it - I'm feeling focused and determined to smash this next month. It is only 6 weeks until my hen weekend! The plan is to stay consistent with macros til then and earn a weekend free from tracking food. I'm trying to fit in a little treat every other day, a little bit of what I fancy, to help reduce any cravings and the likelihood of binge eating. I've now lost the extra cm's I'd put on with the binge episode so I'm back on track. Although there's no visual change in my body since the last pictures, Lainey is pleased with the progress and macros will remain the same for the coming week. I'm just pleased to be maintaining my current condition and not looking any bigger!

How have you got on with your fitness goals this month?
What are your thoughts on online coaching?

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Brewdog AGM 2016

Annual General Mayhem

Two Christmasses ago, my brother gave Gordon the gift of Brewdog, in the form of a few bottles of their finest craft beer. He was hooked! Fast forward a year and I ended up giving him the gift of shares via Brewdog's Equity for Punks.

There's a few benefits to being a Brewdog shareholder - one of the most convenient being the discount in their bars and local brewery! - but the most interesting one so far was being invited to their AGM.

Taking place at Aberdeen's AECC, the event promised a weekend of good beer, good music and good food. Oh, and the all important business update! I was mainly impressed by the ridiculously accurate lego model of the Ellon brewery, with mini Dog Tap and everything! We enjoyed sets from Smash Williams and Hunter and the Bear, took part in the Bloodhound Quiz (that I knew about 2 answers to!), watched the ping pong challenge from afar and scoured the Boyd Orr room for board games.

USN Diet Fuel Ultra Lean

Gordon was there to indulge in the hoppy goodness of Jack Hammer and Elvis Juice, but me? I was just there for the food!

Unfortunately, tracking macros doesn't lend itself well to these type of events - it would be so easy to overindulge and eat my way around the entire exhibition centre. I made do with a deliciously epic sausage roll from Foodstory, brought along some snacks to stay on plan throughout the day, and practically force fed Gordon all the things I wanted to eat myself! I might of had to do a few little taste tests, for review purposes of course.

Smoky BBQ goodies from Longhorns Shack 

The queue here never seemed to go down. Gordon was too impatient to wait in the rain but their ribs looked awesome.


Aberdeen's finest vegan eatery went all out with their menu - everything from sausage or veggie rolls, to falafal boxes, vegan chocolate cake and beer brownies!

Babu - Bombay Street Kitchen

I was impressed by how many vegan/veggie food options were available. We didn't get the chance to sample anything here but their masala smelt divine!

Dram & Smoke

The Sloppy Jock was a tasty sub full of venison meatballs, cheese, onions, crispy neeps (turnips to you non Scots!) and smoky tomato sauce. The haggis doughnut, an unusual concoction, was an absolute treat.  A cinnamon and sugar coated deep fried doughnut, stuffed with tasty bites of Scotland's most infamous food was complimented by a surprisingly sweet irn bru chilli jam. The winners in my eyes, for creativity if nothing else!

Although it would be nice to have the option of other beverages, you don't have to be a beer guzzler to appreciate the goods at Brewdog's AGM - the food is top notch too! 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

VLOG: A day in the life, with USN

Guys my first official vlog is LIVE!

Don't forget to give it a thumbs up if you like it, and subscribe to my channel if you want to see more. Enjoy!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Hello Vlogging!

For the last week or so I've been thinking about whether or not I should try my hand at vlogging. Today I actually did it!

This is just a little introductory vlog - a practice run if you like. I didn't actually have any intentions of uploading anything I filmed today but I decided to bite the bullet and (in the words of my favourite sportswear brand) just do it! So I guess I'm now committed to filming and uploading a full day in the life type vlog this Sunday! It's probably quite a good way of holding myself accountable to my training and nutrition. No going back now!

If you'd like to follow my fitness "journey" please hit the subscribe button and say hello on YouTube - I promise there will be less rambling in future! ;) 

Please excuse my make up free, post workout face!!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Wedding planning... 4 months to go!

Oh my god that sounds scary! There's still a lot to do but I feel like we're finally getting somewhere with a lot of it.

In the last month we've...

Attended a local wedding exhibiton for some inspiration.

Picked up the dress!!
Still in love with it! I won't say much more though as I'm one of those brides who'll keep it a big secret until the big day. However I don't think anyone (who really knows me) will get much of a surprise - I asked Gordon what kind of dress he thought I'd go for and he pretty much described it to a tee!

Had my 2nd make-up trial.
Booked busses to transport guests.
And just about died of shock when I heard the first quote.

Received samples of our invites.
Can't wait for the real deal to arrive!

Which also means we've just about finalised our guest list.
If all our friends/family could maintain their current relationship status until August, that would be much appreciated.

Shopped for rings.
Should I go for the Tiffany option to  match my engagement ring or a similar, less expensive design from another jeweller?
And who knew Gordon would be so fussy?!

Met with our caterers.
To talk about the most important part of the day - the food!

Met with 10 Dollar Shake to discuss bar options.

Booked hotels and trains for my hen weekend!
We're going to Edinburgh in 2 months time - bring on the cocktails!
Any recommendations for hen night activities/restaurants/drinking holes in the Scottish capital?

Tried to pick our tartan.

Bought some decorative bits and bobs.
We're doing our own centre pieces, seating plans and a few little personal touches! Hobbycraft and the Range are my go to's for this, where else should I be looking? I'd love to see how you personalised your venue - leave your decoration ideas in the comments! 

I'm still debating the shoe situation...
The ones I want are expensive and probably not practical, but I haven't fallen in love with anything else! I need to decide soon as I can't have my alterations done until I know how high my heels will be.

What are your top tips for wedding planning at this stage? Is there anything I'm forgetting?!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Top 5 UK Wedding Blogs

If there's one thing a blogger loves, it's reading other blogs! I love that it doesn't matter where I go or what I do, I can find a blog to help me out. If you're heading on holiday, look for local blogs with fun recommendations and restaurant reviews. If you need some outfit inspiration, you'll find fashion blogs filled with wish lists and outfit posts. If you're wondering how to get the best out of your workout, you're bound to discover a fitness blog with lots of tips. And if you're getting married? There's a blog for that too!

In fact there's quite a few, so I've taken the liberty of rounding up the best wedding blogs I've found so far. I find it most helpful when the suppliers and venues are close to home, so if you can find local blogs I suggest you do. American weddings are cool but so different to what we do here! All of the websites listed here are British and I've included the 3 best Scottish wedding blogs I know and love.

Scotland's best known wedding blog, which features lots of gorgeous, inspiring real weddings, including this one at my venue!

Recently relaunched, this blog is championing the best romantic Scottish weddings!
Their directory of Scottish suppliers is a work in progress but well worth a look.

From one Scottish bride to another, this new blog is one to watch. 
Busy bee Carla is studying to become a wedding planner, as well as organising her own 2016 nuptials and documenting it on "A Girl's Dream Day" as she goes, And guest posting on We Fell in Love!

An advert free UK wedding blog filled with the prettiest things! 
Lots of planning updates from real life blogging brides as well as the end result.

Featuring the most elegant and glamorous British weddings. 
The pictures from this wedding in Scotland's Ballindalloch Castle are gorgeous and it looks like such a fun day. I can't wait to run around the dance floor pretending I know how to do the Gay Gordon's and Strip the Willow at my own wedding! 

I hope you've found this useful. Let me know your favourite wedding blogs in the comments below!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Nemesis Coaching - 9 Weeks In


My progress has slowed down in the 2nd month of coaching with Nemesis PT, hence no progress photos*. I guess this is to be expected as with most diets or training plans - your body adapts to the initial changes at some point! To counteract this Sharon has made a few tweaks here and there to my macros and Lainey has completely changed my training programme for the next cycle.

I think this is the part where I've always hit the fuck it button in the past. I'm working my ass off in the gym and doing my best to eat well but not seeing any reward for it. It's disheartening and feels like it'd be much easier to just say "fuck it" and eat that Easter egg Gordon stashed up high away from me!

Ultimately it's all down to me, how much I want it, how hard I work and how well I stick to my coaches advice. There has been weeks where I could have made more progress but undid all my hard work at the weekend, and I have nobody to blame for that but myself. Excessive consumption of cocktails on girly nights out is not good for the waistline, but it is good for the soul!


I'm now doing 5 high volume weight training sessions, 1 steady state cardio day and 3 x 10 minute HIIT sessions a week. The idea is to burn more calories in the gym so I can continue to eat a decent amount and still drop fat. I've been absolutely ravenous after my training sessions this week, despite eating a carb heavy pre-workout meal, so I'm taking that as a sign that it's working!

Lainey said she wanted to take me out of my comfort zone and she's definitely succeeded. Steady state cardio is not my thing. My initial reaction was SIXTY minutes on a treadmill - shoot me now! Then I remembered I could run outside - still not my favourite, but slightly more interesting than staring at a broken TV screen in the gym for an hour. Then I remembered Gordon is forever asking me to go cycling with him! So that's we did; I borrowed my Mum's bike and we cycled 8k in an hour round the countryside. It was actually quite enjoyable as I got to spend some time with my fiance, away from all the housework and wedding planning chaos!

My focus for the next few weeks will be on 3 important aspects that I feel I've been neglecting lately:

more water, more veg, more sleep!

*Posting pictures in my batman pants is embarassing enough, I won't embarass myself further by showing two identical photos!

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