I'm three weeks into my body transformation with Ultimate Performance, and while the meal prep is getting easier and more manageable, temptation seemed to be around every corner this week.
I can't decide if the end is very far away or if I'm running out of time, but I'm developing a nice routine when it comes to making time for cooking my meals and fitting in my training. I'm also finding it easier than I thought to be sociable, I just have to make sure I am well prepared so that I have no excuses.
Temptation was everywhere when I had my first big night out at the UK Fitness Awards with UP – and I found it tough at times surrounded by mountains of free food and drink.
But this is how I coped and kept my diet on track and my body progressing, as I reached the quarter-way mark of my body transformation journey…
Day 15 – Treats motivate me to work harder
Today is a good day.
It is a good day because my trainer told me I could eat my favourite food of all time. MANGO.
There is something to be said about using the 'carrot-on-a-stick' trick, but psychologically it really worked for me today. It has been a big learning process for me during this transformation so far, to understand how I train and how I train best. Mindset is key, and my trainer is very smart at tapping into the things that drive me forward.
In any case, I absolutely beasted it today even more so than usual, knowing there was mango at the finish line.
I would also like to mention, that I got my 110kg trap bar deadlift for two sets – it seems I am highly motivated by mango.
Day 16 – Recipe testing is tricky
When part of your job is to create and test healthy recipes, you can have a lot of fun at work.
When part of your life involves an 84-day body transformation, you have to say 'no' to all of the fun.
Well, not all of the fun. I absolutely love cooking and always have; it really does bring me a lot of happiness.
Today's batch of recipe testing was mostly donated to my boyfriend, who managed to polish off all three meals, and then some.
It's all good – I'm looking forward to all of the delicious and healthy things I can have after my transformation (when I look shredded.)
(Beef Pho made with Bone Broth)
Day 17 – Just Say 'No'
This week is a bit of a foodie one, I feel.
This evening, we headed to the Novotel in Birmingham for the UK Fitness Awards, where UP had been nominated in four categories.
In case you weren't aware, I live near Birmingham and commute to work in Manchester each day, so I was looking forward to heading homeward. My commute to work ends up being just under two hours each way, which prior to my transformation wasn't too big of a deal. I love to read, so I spend most of my travel time buried in a book or getting some work done.
I definitely feel a little frustrated at times now, however, when I get up at 6.30am to be in work on time and then don't get home until 8pm. I feel frustrated because, to make sure that I get enough sleep (apparently very important to transforming oneself), I have to get myself to bed within a couple of hours of getting home. Meal prep for the following day takes up some time and I find my relationships at home now revolve around the weekend, as I no longer have the time to spare in an evening.
It makes me feel bad for being selfish, but it is for 12 weeks only and it is necessary. (I sound determined and focused here, like some sort of soldier, but actually, I really hate this part of my journey so far).
Nevertheless, back to Birmingham. Being local meant that when we got off the train for the UK Fitness Awards, I knew exactly where to take everybody for a delicious dinner. Tapas.
Pan fried chorizo, Galician octopus, squid ink potatoes and tortilla were all brought to the table in vast quantities. I quickly realised my mistake.
I pulled out my Tupperware of chicken and vegetables (which was honestly delicious) and emptied it onto my little tapas plate.
As we arrived at the hotel, a buffet was laid out, and various canapes and drinks were offered to me (every five minutes.) I felt pretty rude saying 'no' for the 20th time and worse still; there was a stand with protein bar samples all cut up into teeny bite-sized treat pieces. I cannot tell you how badly I wanted just one piece, but my discipline was strong, and I didn't budge once all evening.
If I'm completely honest, however, I really struggled mentally tonight. What kept me focused was the time-frame, knowing that I only have to do this for 12 weeks and then I can continue to live a healthy lifestyle but without any restrictions imposed upon me. Food is an absolute pleasure in my life, and missing out on good food is something I struggle with.
Growing up, I wasn't greedy as much as I had my dad's appetite and his passion for everything delicious. When everyone around me is trying something tasty, it takes a lot of effort for me to not ask for a bite. It is how I've always lived, trying everything and experiencing as much of food as possible.
On my way home, I did, however, feel a little bit victorious. My first social challenge and I'd passed with flying colours. I can only hope the next one won't be for a while!
Also, I have to add; we won all four awards that we had been nominated for – a proud moment for everyone at UP.
Day 18 – Masterchef challenge
Rest day and boy, I need it after this week.
Starting to notice some changes in my body now, even though I've seen so many of the amazing transformations that come from UP, it is still a shock to start to witness changes in your own body, and so quickly.
My food has become seriously easy to keep delicious, and it has become a pleasure to cook once again. It's like a Masterchef challenge – make something delicious using only these few ingredients – and I'm sure you know by now that I love a good challenge.
Here's today's tandoori style chicken and vegetables (pepper, mushroom, shredded sprouts and sugar snaps) with spinach and cauliflower 'rice'. The vegetable aisle is huge… fill your basket there!
Day 19 – Clear mind but no red wine
Felt shattered this morning, so took a day off training. It wasn't anything scheduled with UP; I just like to keep on top of my Thai boxing.
Instead, I took a nice power walk with an audiobook in the evening. It was freezing, but it gave me some space to reflect and switch off a little. We all allow our lives to stress us out, for others to get the best of us, to give all of our energy to working hard at our goals. It's important to take time, to just breathe and spend time at peace with yourself in your own quiet company.
Another foodie comment today – my boyfriend's mum prepared a delicious Sunday roast today. My entire family have been very supportive so far with my transformation, and today was no different. She served me up a plate of roast chicken breast and a tonne of green vegetables, and I sat around the dinner table and enjoyed myself with good company.
My only complaint was when a £50 bottle of red wine was brought out… Sparkling water, please.
Day 20 – Sleep is your best friend
Alright, so I know there are going to be days when my motivation isn't quite there. There will be days when I just want to do absolutely nothing and eat cake for breakfast. However, while the cake was rather easy to avoid this morning, motivation seems like a very hard feeling to manufacture on days like today.
I know why I feel like this I just don't want to feel like it. Since Friday's session, I've slept for 9-10 hours a night.
To me, that's a sure sign that I needed more rest and recovery, and I did listen to my body and rested well over the weekend. However, last night I got around six hours of sleep, and it now seems blindingly obvious how much more I needed.
My background in Thai Boxing has given me a strong mental focus and attitude when it comes to training. Training for a fight involves a lot of discipline, determination and sheer grit to get you through and I can only compare the emotional feelings to that of a see-saw – one day feeling strong, ready, fit and agile, but the next feeling fearful, anxious and constantly questioning your ability.
I can draw from these experiences when it comes to my current training with UP. Usually, when I'm not quite 'feeling it', I can tap into that mindset and grit my teeth – training well past that point when my mind would try to get me to quit, as I trust that my body is capable of pushing through the discomfort of a heavy lift. Generally, when I feel a bit low – training is the perfect remedy to lift my mood and my outlook.
Sometimes, it doesn't work out like that.
There were times in my Thai boxing gym, when I would be sparring a much larger opponent (I'm talking over twice my bodyweight here), and I would feel on top of my game, my rhythm was on point, and I could move in and strike swiftly, using my size to my advantage.
Other times, I would suddenly feel very powerless. Shots seem to get through a lot more easily, and the impact seems much greater, and out of nowhere, it is taking every ounce of your strength just to stand your ground and not turn around. This to me, is the definition of facing fear. Fighting against your natural 'flight' response and fighting back.
Usually, after a round that feels like this, I would take five minutes outside and do my best not to cry.
Not because I was upset or felt genuinely in danger, but because my emotional response to that situation had completely overwhelmed me.
Today, in the middle of my third set of hack squats, this exact feeling hit me – that tiny voice in my head telling me to quit became very loud. Pushing up, my legs wobbled, and I went back down.
"No, come on, push, you're alright!" My trainer coaxed another attempt out of me, and I knew full well that he didn't just expect one more but five, to complete the set. Not finishing a set is never an option.
I tried again. My legs gave way, and it felt hopeless. I was going to have to give in. The sudden wave of emotions hit me, and it took all I had to not just collapse in a heap and cry like a baby in the middle of the gym. But my god, I can't, and I won't quit.
Two deep breaths, core tight, refocus.
Pushing up with everything I'd got, the weight started moving with me. I just had to push through.
Four repetitions later and I couldn't help wondering what had happened to me back there. I couldn't pinpoint why I'd felt suddenly so helpless and pathetic, but I knew I wasn't allowing that to happen again.
Turns out my boss Nick Mitchell knows a thing or two when it comes to body transformations, and reading his article about The Most Important Lifestyle Improvement You Can Make, reasserted the fact that I needed to get better at tracking my sleep.
'The most bang-for-your-buck aspect of your lifestyle that you can improve from multiple angles is your sleep.'
Moral of the story – get an earlier night.
Day 21 – One quarter down
Fresh as a daisy.
Eight hours in my bed and an egg white omelette for breakfast. Today marks the one-quarter mark of my transformation and following yesterday's emotional response to fatigue, I have adjusted my bedtime.
I have faced many challenges this week and survived all of them. Each day that goes by, I realise that not only is my body changing and developing but my mental endurance and discipline is growing stronger too.
Strong body, strong mind.