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Sunday, 12 November 2017

KEEPING HYDRATED WITH THIRSTI



We all know the importance of good hydration, right? Your body uses water in all of it's cells, to help with bodily functions and regulating temperature. But water also helps to improve physical performance, improves your skin and complexion and reducing fatiguing. Water is especially important for us exercisers, as your body loses water through perspiration. But I know more than any of us how difficult it is to remember to drink and how do you keep track of what you're drinking anyway?

This is where the Thirsti Puck* comes in! As featured on Dragon's den, Thirsti have designed the puck to be your personal hydration reminder, alerting you when it's time to drink and tracking your water intake throughout the day. All you have to do is pop the puck into your water bottle, fill your bottle up, input the size of the bottle into the app and drink away. The puck works away to monitor your hydration levels, assigned to your own personal target per day. If it's time to drink, the puck will flash red to alert you. The app also sends cheeky alerts direct to your phone like 'hurry the puck up', which I love. 

It's such a great little device to keep track of hydration and remind you when it's time to drink. I love watching the little bar rise as I drink throughout the day, also my friends on my PT course were equally as fascinated. The downside is you can't use it in the pressurised gym bottles, like the ones you have to suck for the water to come out but never fear they're working on this. But you can register as many bottles as you like. I highly recommend this for anyone like me, who doesn't drink enough water (it also works with other liquids too!) But also for those of us who love to track, calories, steps and now you can track hydration too! You can buy yours here £34.95 with free delivery too!

Love Laura 
x



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Saturday, 4 November 2017

WHAT I EAT IN A DAY | BULKING






I've been inundated with messages recently, asking about advice on bulking. The general what do I eat? How much protein? Do I track? So hopefully this post will give you an insight into my eating habits right now. Now let me start by saying this is in no way a representation of what I eat every single day, nor is this what you should eat. This is just what works for me, you should also find what works for yourself.

So first of all, do I track? I track my macros very loosely. Now by loosely I mean some days I will track everything, others I eat intuitively. You have to find what works for yourself. But if you're new to bulking (which is eating in a calorie surplus in order to grow muscle) then you need to have an idea of how many calories you should be eating, then an understanding of the macro breakdown. The most important factors are total calorie input and then protein. I always try my best to meet my calories, then protein, then carbs, fats and micros come last. I also don't find it too healthy for my mindset to be so obsessive over carb intake. When I do track, I use my fitness pal and find it helps so much to input the meals you plan on eating before actually eating. That way you can plan out your calories and you're not binging on protein at the end of the day to hit your total!!

So this is what I ate in this particular day. In the morning it's so helpful to get a good serving of protein, this will set you on a good path to meeting protein intake for the rest of the day. Then mid-morning I usually snack on a grenade carb killa and a banana (micros and all that). For lunch I've been having meals from Lion's Nutrition, this has been so helpful because food is prepped, each meal has a sufficient amount of protein and even has all the macros on the back for ease of tracking. They're also so tasty and easy too. When I'm home from work I usually have something before the gym tuna in a pocket is great - again more protein. Then post gym I'll have my protein shake before eating my evening meal. This is where I usually have either chicken or fish with lots of veggies, this time it was a chicken roast! Then I do have a huge love for crisps, so snack a jacks help my cravings. I also have a number of coffees throughout my day with soy milk, because I don't drink normal milk. This total calorie intake was 2160; Protein: 185g; Carbs: 189g; Fat: 73g.

Currently, my total calorie goal is 2350, but on this particular day I hadn't been to the gym in two days and wasn't hungry enough to continue eating. It's important to try and meet this calorie goal but not to sacrifice your own mentality at the same time. Forcing yourself to eat will probably just make you sick! I exceeded my protein though which usually doesn't happen so I was happy with that one. So what would I advise? First of all, find out what your total calorie intake for a surplus is by using a macro calculator (I've spoken about these before if you need a read). Then if you have no idea of nutritional composition of food, use a tracker until you do. Always make it your priority to meet calories, protein then carbs and fats. As always, any questions do get in touch with me but otherwise happy bulking!

Love Laura
x


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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Why I Started Yoga



If you follow me on instagram, you'll have seen that recently my feed has been scattered with the odd yoga pose. Yoga is something I've recently taken up after being inspired by instagram yogis. But it isn't just the insane poses and urge to get inverted that have encouraged my yogi journey. Infact, the Ancient practice deriving from India over 5000 years ago reaps so many more benefits than just holding a cool pose.

Many of us neglect stretching. I'll be the first to hold up my hands and say yes, after a tough workout sometimes I just want to get out of there and shower. But stretching is so important for releasing lactic acid, lengthening out those muscles you've just spent the last hour shortening and also it's so relaxing to stretch. In yoga, you practise a series of stretches holding these for up to a minute before moving on to another stretch. Yoga allows you to increase your flexibility in your muscles and joints allowing you a greater range of motion through each session. This massively supports lifting and can improve your technique and range of motion too. I fit my yoga around resistance training sessions and have seen increases in my mobility already.

But yoga isn't just about the stretching, it's also incorporative of breathing. It's not a case of a quick hold your leg up and hold your breath at the same time. But feeling and breathing through the stretch and connecting the movements of the body with your pattern of breathing. Now I've really found this to be so relaxing - feeling your breathing and being completely at peace with your body. Of course, there are a number of different styles of yoga including different intensities and flows. But for me, I enjoy practising yoga on my own. Being alone in complete silence, just practising my stretching and breathing. It really is just about being so peaceful and at one with yourself.

There's also the challenge element involved in yoga. It's so much about persistence and continuing to practise a move in order to crack it. I've found I am so determined to overcome my failures and pick myself back up from that fallen headstand and keep trying. That's the beauty of it. Learning new skills and challenging your body in ways you would never have thought. I love to see progress too. Week one I couldn't even kick up to a headstand, now I can hold it for a good 10 seconds.

The good thing about yoga is that it doesn't have to take up an hour of your life everyday. You also don't have to commit to classes or a schedule, it can literally be done anytime or anywhere. On a morning, to stretch and awaken your body or on an evening to relax and have time to reflect upon your day. There's also a number of youtube videos you can access for free to teach you the basic moves and to pick up on a few flows to get you started. Flexibility obviously increases over time, but the feel good vibes from yoga are almost instant.

Love Laura
x





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Sunday, 15 October 2017

THE UGLY SIDE OF INSTAGRAM



This has been a pretty controversial topic recently, especially on my insta feed anyway. I've come to see far too many individuals becoming obsessed with their analytics, tracking every single follower and getting completely disheartened when a post doesn't blow up. But why are we suddenly becoming so obsessed with numbers?

Ever since instagram released the business account, every non-business account has suddenly turned this feature on. If you're unaware business accounts allow you to add contact details to your account and allow the 'insight' feature. This tracks your number of followers, tells you when activity is highest and even gives you an insight on views and likes for every single post. Of course this is brilliant if you are promoting a product or your own service - having the tools to analyse your posts directly on the app is ideal. But it seems we're losing sight of what instagram is really about.

Instagram doesn't monitor the business account feature and really you don't need an actual business to set this up (a Facebook page is enough). But I remember my instagram came about from my blogging. I created it to run alongside my blog, to promote my posts and to gain traffic through my website this way. Which I am sure were instagram's real intentions when they set up this feature - to help businesses promote their services. But now it seems people aren't really caring about the content their sharing - but just following the numbers.

What really gets to me is that there are so many fantastic businesses and bloggers out there. But their content isn't being seen and their messages and information they share is being overlooked because the algorithms aren't allowing their content to be seen. It's been driven by the number of supposed likes (whether they're from bots or genuine accounts who knows). But when fantastic writers and educated individuals who are specialists in their field are being disregarded because they aren't influencers or 'instafamous' something is definitely wrong.

Don't get me wrong, the business tools are so helpful. But when you become obsessed with tracking numbers, which aren't being driven by success from your business or product then what are you really in it for? Are we forgetting what instagram is really about? If you're becoming obsessed with your numbers it really is time to evaluate your goals. Engage with real people, reply to your messages and when people need help actually be there to support and help them. Don't get caught up in the numbers and be true to yourself - remember exactly why you set up your account. Instagram is a powerful platform and can be used to influence so many in positive ways. Just remember to be true to yourself, don't become obsessed with numbers, remember each number is a real person just like you. Be true to yourself and don't get caught up within the numbers - your worth is not determined by your followers. Your business, your quality of writing is not determined by your numbers. It's just instagram.

Love Laura 
x
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

FITNESS AND MENTAL HEALTH



The 10th of October is recognised worldwide as World Mental Health Day, the 25th day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health and fighting the associated stigma. It's clear to see that yes there still is a stigma surrounding mental health but this is something which I am seeing people talk about and feel comfortable with sharing more and more now than ever. The pictures above show myself at different stages in my life, some happy and secure within my self, others not so much. But by looking you wouldn't know what battles I was fighting and with the stigma associated with mental health many people are still covering up their battles with a smile. Physical changes caused by exercise are what you see, but the bigger mental changes are always overlooked.

I think the real stigmas around mental health are held within the workplace, a place which actually many mental health issues catalyse due to stress. A few years ago now, this is exactly where my mental health issues began. But at this time I didn't know it was mental health, I didn't even know what I was going through at the time. All I knew was that my workplace wasn't supportive of me and my only option was to leave my job that I once loved. What I was going through was work related stress, which was made worse by losing someone very close to me. By not dealing head on with my own issues, this then led to very low self worth and self-esteem. Blaming myself for everything that happened became normal, accepting and expecting failure became the only route I knew. We shouldn't look back and dwell on the past but I always wonder what would've happened if I had actually spoken about my feelings or somebody understood what I was going through. But instead I found my own coping mechanisms.

Exercise and taking care of my own health was the turning point for me, something I had control over in my life. I couldn't control my emotions, nor could I change others opinions of myself. But what I could do was have that constant in my life that was controlled by myself. Of course starting out wasn't easy. Joining a gym is daunting, exercising in front of people is even more so. But once I got past those initial fears, I had found a place where I felt free just to work on myself. Somewhere I could be completely selfish and take an hour out of my day to just work on me. Giving yourself that time, whether it's weight-lifting, yoga or running is so valuable not just for your physical fitness but mental health too. In a world where we give so much time to work, you have to have that time to enjoy your own interests and hobbies. An hour out of your day to exercise is just 4% of your day, so even if you do lead a busy lifestyle there really are no excuses. Your mental well being deserves no excuses and should always be top of that list of priorities.

Another benefit of exercise is the feel-good endorphins released. These endorphins react with the receptors in your brain reducing that feeling of pain and triggering that positive feeling in your body (it is viewed as being similar to that of morphine without the dependence). Along with those endorphins you will actually feel better about yourself seeing those improvements in your body. Personally, this helped so much with my own self-esteem. Seeing that 'yes I can do what I set my mind to', I can love my body and love the strong person that I have become. On those days when I do feel down and of course it happens a lot, I just have to remind myself of how hard I have worked and what I have achieved for myself -mentally not just physically. Always remember that the pictures you see on social media are just that - pictures. They are not a representation of someone as a whole, you don't know their mental situation and they could be battling something bigger than you'll ever know. Always be kind, always remember to put your mental health first and please just speak to someone, anyone you don't have to suffer in silence.

Love Laura
x
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Sunday, 24 September 2017

KNOWING YOUR WORTH


This phrase gets thrown around so much these days. If it isn't a meme, it's somebody's Motivational Monday quote but what exactly does it mean? So worth is related to value right and when we talk about valuing yourself this links back to your own self-esteem. If you have high self-esteem then you have high self worth right? That's where it all gets so confusing.

Let's use me as an example. I have good self confidence, I am happy in my body and I am confident i myself. But when it comes to self-worth, I don't always view myself as being all good and worthy of anybody in relationships and this is where it all goes wrong. Understanding your own self-worth means not attaching your own worth to what a guy would think of you. Why do we struggle so much with this? We see ourselves as being in the wrong, that if someone isn't interested in us then it must be personal. We hold onto the destructive thoughts that it's completely personal - not that you just weren't compatible. Why do we take a misinterpretation or ambiguity of feelings so personal?

I am guilty of this. Previous relationships have put me in a position where I don't feel worthy. Even though I'm happy in my own body and with my appearance I struggle to see past the mistakes of previous relationships. It's hard to accept the past, that your worth was so little to someone that they had to go out and seek someone else, multiple people. But this is not the case! Their actions do not define your worth, you are worth everything. Not everybody is romantically compatible and it's not your fault. It was never your appearance or your annoying habits that made them stray. It's their immaturity to have a relationship, that they aren't ready for someone like you or simply that you're just not  compatible.

You are worth everything. You can not devalue yourself because of other people's decisions towards you - it doesn't make you bad, it just means you don't match. It doesn't mean your worth anything less, it was never your problem and it never will be. In order to move on from the past we have to first accept it and take it for what it was. Yes crappy things do happen to good people - but these things do not define you. If anything use it as a learning curve, take the knowledge and learn from mistakes made. Learn that you can get over it, it was never your fault and that you are 100% worthy of anything you desire.

Moving on from the past I'm learning and the thing I've learnt most is the importance of detaching your worth from their actions. Their actions do not define you - they define themselves. They are not your decisions, not your actions and you need to realise that yeah so many guys stray due to their own low self-esteem - they feel the needed to be adored and wanted by many. Some guys just want to feed their huge ego. But always, always remember you cannot view your worth on somebody else's actions. When you know that worth, you'll be able to detach them feelings and walk away when something falls short. You'll have the confidence in yourself to know when to stop, to know when actually you're worth more than what you're getting. That in fact, you shouldn't have to tell them not to do something or what they need to do more of because actually, they should already know that you deserve much better. You're worth far more and once you've realised your worth, keep it as high as the stars.

Love Laura
x



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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

HOW TO GROW YOUR GLUTES


One of the most popular questions I get asked is 'How do I get a booty like yours?' Now sadly I'm probably going to share some truths you may not like. The first one is that there is no miracle exercise. Squatting all day and all night will not build your glutes. You will also not build your glutes by eating clean, going on a detox, juicing or doing donkey kickbacks. So what do you need to do? 

Let's talk a little bit of Science. Your glutes are a muscle, a very large one at that. In order for muscles to grow you need to be in a calorie surplus, eating more calories than you are burning in a day. I suggest you work this out using a macro calculator, then make sure you're adaquetly fuelling your body. This doesn't mean eating 2500 calories worth of pizza and doughnuts, although you can have a little bit. You still need to be hitting those macros, especially your protein. When you weight train, your body repairs the damaged muscles by repairing the fibres which increase in thickness creating muscle growth (hypertrophy). If you're not eating enough calories and protein to repair and build these muscles, then your body is just going to eat in to your muscles to fuel the rest of the body. But let's just get this clear, trying to build muscle and losing weight at the same time will not work. Only when you are happy with the muscle growth, should you then cut to lose fat.

My next point is glute activation. For me, this has taken the focus off of my quads and allowed my glutes to fire up ready for the big compound lifts. You spend most of your day sat on them, so naturally they would rather let your legs do the work. But if you can warm them up effectively before you start lifting, this will be so beneficial to your session. Go look at my recent instagram video for my favourite glute activating exercises. 

My third point you need to trust me in is: lifting heavy will change your body! Trust me, look what happened to mine. Before, I was a slave to cardio, aerobic DVD's and bikini body guides. But when I found weight lifting this is when change happened. Heavy weights will build your muscles, therefore building your glutes consequently giving them a larger appearance. But you need to be progressively overloading them, not lifting the same weight each week. Let's say you're hip thrusting, each time try add more reps, another set or extra weight. I cannot stress enough how lifting heavy weights has changed my body and it will do the same to yours too. If you struggle to feel any lifts in your glutes I would strongly recommend a resistance band. It will help with that mind-muscle connection and remind you to squeeze and engage the glutes with each movement. 

Now what exercises are most beneficial for the glutes? Squats and kickbacks? Probably not no. In fact, as the incredible 'Glute Guy' (Brett Contreras) dispels, a bodyweight squat will only activate 70% of the quads and 20% of the glutes. This clearly shows that squats are not the way forward for optimal glute growth. This is why I love the hip thrust. This movement allows you to build the glutes without over activating the quads and with less strain on your back. Start off with bodyweight, then the barbell then get adding weight. It's amazing how quickly you'll learn to fire up your glutes with this move. For some other glute based weight work I'd suggest you have a watch of these and begin including them in your workouts.

Hopefully this has answered many of your questions related to building that booty. Once you understand the science and trust the process of being in a calorie surplus and lifting heavy, you will see results coming. If it helps I will be eating in a calorie surplus to build more muscle too, so as always I'm here to motivate! 
Love Laura
x









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