HEALTHY SWAPS: Chocolate

Following on from last weeks healthy swap, this week I’m bringing one for everyone with a sweet tooth for chocolate. Which lets face it, is everyone!

Todays spotlight product is ‘Barebells’ protein bars

So let’s talk facts and figures.

A Barebells Protein Bar not only has 197kCal and only 7g of fat but also gives you 20g of muscle building protein, as well as tasting amazing!

Now let’s compare these to a Snickers, which is in the top two of the nations favourite chocolate bars. A snickers has 319kCal and 17.8g of fat, more than double the fat of a Barebells, and it certainly isn’t going to be giving you anywhere near the same protein.

My favourite flavour would definitely have to be coconut choco. Go give them a try and let us know what your favourite flavour is!

Blog: What I wish I’d known when I started training.

It’s interesting how your perceptions change over time.

We all get into training for different reasons. Whether you stick with it or not depends largely on what drives you, your success, your resilience and the people around you.

How my perception of training has changed since I started.

I originally got into training to lose more weight. I was overweight until I was 19 and by 21 I had lost over 7 stone through diet alone. The weight loss had slowed down and I wanted to move the scales more. I was also 11 stone and I still didn’t have a flat stomach and I couldn’t understand why.

Signing up to a gym I wasn’t too interested in getting ‘massive’. I’d always been fat growing up and an ideal body type was being as thin as possible. Maybe it was to reassure myself that I wouldn’t get fat again… maybe it was obsession. I’m unsure.

One thing is for sure. I did think once I’d lost weight it would immediately cure all my problems. I wasn’t too popular growing up. I didn’t have any girlfriends until I was 19 and I put a lot of this down to the way I looked.

From this point of view, fitness wasn’t too important to me. I was aware it wasn’t healthy to be overweight, struggling to run up the stairs but that wasn’t the driving force.

For me it was just about looking as good as possible, as quick as possible with as little work as possible if I’m honest and it’s a shame because it stopped me from finding the fun sides of training until much later and it was a chore.

I was very focussed on getting the most out of my time at the gym… perfection with minimal effort.

My friends were into bodybuilding so like a lot of lads I started there. It also suited what I wanted to hear, lift some weights, have a rest in-between, go home and no cardio! I hated the idea of that.  

I am also a little tech heavy so when I researched training it seemed to support what I wanted to hear. The problem is when you only look at a coin from one side you often miss what’s on the back; the other points of view.

Also like many other things you find that bodybuilding is their only way of training. Everything else is inferior. There is only one way to skin a cat.

Fast forward to where I am now I train because its something I enjoy.

I have an active lifestyle and I like having the fitness to be able to do things without worrying. Sometimes it’s my time to myself away from work. Sometimes it’s somewhere I go to see my friends. It can be a place I go to de-stress.

Go back to where I was at the beginning, I put all my problems down to the way I looked.

Turns out for me I was missing out on a lot of things to fill my life. Hobbies such as mountain biking which I couldn’t even attempt because my fitness was so poor.

My social circles didn’t allow for activities either because my friends just wanted to go out and get pissed.

I had low confidence and confidence comes from within. To be yourself but also to have things that you feel you are good at.

For me its good having a level of fitness. It’s nice feeling good in myself, knowing I am strong and fit and I want to hold onto that. Going deeper and looking in hindsight I think it’s something that’s needed in all of us. There is a primal part of us which needs to be fit.

When we feel down about our bodies only part of it is the way we look. We tell ourselves its just the way we look but the second someone starts training with us and they see themselves getting fitter and stronger they immediately become more confident.

To me that’s because there is a difference between being overweight, weak and unfit vs being overweight and strong and fit which takes me onto what I would change about my journey.

If you’ve got kids, you want to be able to keep up with them. If you look at those around you getting older and experience complications, it’s something’s you want to avoid. There is a feeling of strength which comes with being fit.

So what would I have done differently?

  1. I would have prioritised fun over perfection.
  2. I would have got fit from the start
  3. I would have paid less attention to what others were doing and focus more on me
  4. I would tell myself it’s ok to take a break once in a while.
  5. I would hope I had found something similar to what I do now rather than just following blanket programs off the internet feeling like I could do it myself.

To expand a little bit more…

Fun over Perfection

Everything is easier to stick to when you enjoy it. When it comes to fun we all find that in different ways. What I find fun depends on where I am. In the gym its hitting new personal bests or completing a workout I found challenging and seeing my friends. Here it’s different, we’ve got a small community where we know everyone.

Fitness from the start

I would have got fit from the start. From an aesthetic point of view I can get away with a lot more if I burn more calories which means I’ve been able to lose my weight and keep it off. It means when someone suggests something new I’m always confident I can at least have a  go and once you get past that first initial stage of ‘I don’t want to do cardio’ it does feel really good at the end!

There’s that saying ‘No-one regrets a good workout’

Paying less attention to others

When I say paying less attention to other’s I suppose that’s really vague. It’s targeted at a few things:

  • Magazines
  • People
  • Things on the internet
  • Myself

I suppose in some senses I wish I’d have ended up in different circles because there is a lot which gets missed in gyms.

I try my upmost not to be negative so I hope this doesn’t come across in that way but I do have a bit of an axe to grind with bodybuilding and the fitness industry.

I know we don’t all aim to be bodybuilders but if you read a lot online or go to a commercial gym, even work with most personal trainers, you’re going to get some form of re-hashed version of it.

The problem is it’s just one side of a coin. It’s focused on purely how you look and in some senses a bit of a sham. Most people on a magazine cover didn’t get there doing the workouts they tell you about and there’s lot of sales lies.

‘These 10 workouts will flatten your stomach’… no they wont. A proper combination of diet and training will flatten your stomach and most compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, lunges) will develop your stomach as much as a sit up.

Some weights are needed for a toned physique but not at the cost of all fitness training; avoiding any circuits or workout styles other than 3 sets of 10.

There are many more ways to get to where you want but you don’t discover them until you step outside a commercial gym.

Taking a break

For me I used to train four to five times a week and never take a break. I’d often find myself burnt out, tired and not enjoying training.

When I switched to training for strength one of the main points of the program was that rest days are crucial for your body to recover and adapt.

Years ago I’d have been terrified that it meant I was going to rebound but fortunately I started when I was in a better place.

What did I notice?

Well the program was really effective. I got stronger, I looked better, I didn’t get fat and most importantly I found I had a much better training life balance.

3 times a week works great in the gym for me. I also noticed when I started doing more I got the same burnt out feeling and the solution was to either adapt what I was doing and sometimes take a break.

I’ve seen it before in clients but like everyone when it’s yourself you are somehow different. Most people with us train 2 to 3 x per week and that fits them great. The ones who train more however you can see when they’ve done too much.

It doesn’t take a big break. A week doing half what you would normally. Lowering your weights or even taking it off entirely. It’s called a de-load in training and it’s often the hardest advice to take.

It applies with dieting too. We can’t go at 100% all the time. You need to the time off to then go forward with more energy.

The key to taking a break however is you have to trust it’s part of the program. Trust yourself to go back in next week. It’s not a break if you’re hard on yourself and you don’t relax.  

Finding something like what we have here

You’d think that owning a business I was the best person to tell you all about it and yet sometimes I feel like I’m the worst. Being inside something and it been something that’s so close to your heart makes it hard to take an outside perspective. ‘Forest for the trees.’

I used to be a big believer that I could do everything myself. I still believe that now but what I have learned is I don’t half waste time making mistakes!!! Those mistakes are emotional and it’s much easier to pay someone else for their experience.

It’s why I take my car to a mechanic when the job is big and why I pay for advisors to run my business. I invest in people.

It’s the same with your body and at this moment in time I think the offerings most people are given are poor. A 30 minute induction by a trainer who doesn’t care and then you’re left to figure it out yourself.

Our Training Camps aren’t much more than a Bannatynes membership and yet every session is programed out and coached.

The next bits atmosphere.

I like to see the best in things. I like to say gym classes aren’t full of clicks and that people can’t be judgemental and stand-offish but the fact of the matter is they can. Working in commercial gyms I was fine, I was there all the time but from the perspective of someone new I can see what it’s like and you’re either lucky and meet the nice people but if you’re not outgoing you might not. If you’re completely new they’re intimidating.

If a gym has 4000 members, you aren’t going to get to know all of them and it’s impossible to do that.

Working with a membership of 60 – 70 though that’s much more different. Everyone has a feeling of belonging to this place.

Training is directed so we all have something in common. There’s a social vibe everyone can join.

People are training to feel good in themselves, have a good time and not to be better than you. It means we’re developing a family and doing activities not just here and outside the gym so, if I was my younger self I wish I could have had all that earlier on.

I’d have trained better, built my confidence faster, made less mistakes and had much more fun.

If there’s one thing you could take from this article it’s that you have options when it comes to training and at the forefront of everything should be finding something you enjoy.

I was 18 stone when I started and I’ve now maintained my weight for over 10 years now. I had a lot of ups and downs over that journey but I got there. You can do exactly the same.

The next thing I’d take away is fitness doesn’t stop when you hit your goal weight. There’s much more you can take from it so why not search for that now. Enjoy being fitter and stronger and all around healthier.

I hope this article has been useful if you’ve got any questions drop us a message and get in touch.

Sean

HEALTHY SWAPS: Ice Cream

For the rest of this month, instead of bringing you recipes, I’m bringing you healthier swaps you can buy to replace your favourite guilty pleasures… This week its Ice Cream, no need to feel guilty with this anymore.

In the spotlight today it’s ‘Halo Top’ ice cream.

A whole tub of Halo Top can contain as little as 280 calories. Just to put that into perspective, a tub of Ben and Jerrys contains over 1000 calories, thats three meals!!

Now I know what you might be thinking, “its low calorie, it’s not going to taste very nice”. I can guarantee if you try it you’ll be eating them words as well as the full tub.

My favourite flavour is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, go get a tub and let us know what your favourite flavour is!

RECIPE: Lasagne

This has to be my absolute favourite dish! And I wanted everyone else to enjoy it, even if you’re on a weight loss programme.

Nutritional Information

  • Kcal 317
  • Fat 5.7g
  • Carbs 32.1g
  • Saturates 2.4g
  • Fibre 5.6g
  • Protein 31.6g
  • Salt 0.6g

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • carrots 4, peeled and finely diced
  • onions 2, finely diced
  • celery 2 stalks, finely diced
  • lean turkey mince 500g
  • tomato purée 2 tbsp
  • chopped tomatoes 400g tin
  • bay leaf 1
  • plain flour 2 tbsp
  • skimmed milk 250ml, warmed
  • spinach 200g, chopped
  • lasagne sheets 8-10
  • parmesan 50g, grated

Directions

1 – Heat 1 tsp oil in a large pan, and fry the carrot, onion and celery for 15 minutes until it is very soft and starting to caramelize. Add the mince and fry until brown all over. Add the purée and stir into the mince, then add the tomatoes with half a tin of water and the bay leaf. Simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce is thick.

2 – Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Heat 1 tsp oil in another pan. Add the flour and cook until the oil is absorbed and the flour starts to expand. Stirring continually, add the warmed milk, a splash at a time, until completely incorporated and there are no lumps. Cook on a low heat until you have a thick white sauce, and season. Stir the spinach though the sauce, and simmer until it wilts.

3 – Put one third of the tomato sauce in a large baking dish, and cover with a few lasagne sheets. Keep layering up until the sauce has been used, finishing with a layer of pasta. Pour over the white sauce, and scatter with the parmesan. Bake for 1 hour or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden. Cover with foil if it’s getting too dark. Serve with a salad.


Serves 6

Preparation time approx 2 hours

RECIPE: Mango & banana smoothie

With all the hot weather at the moment, I thought you would appreciate this tasty, fruity smoothy to help you cool down. So simple it only takes 5 minutes to make!

Nutritional Information

  • Kcal 107
  • Fat 1g
  • Carbs 26g
  • Saturates 0g
  • Sugars 26g
  • Fibre 2g
  • Protein 1g
  • Salt 0.04g

Ingredients

  • 1 medium mango
  • 1 banana
  • 500ml orange juice
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions

1 – Cut the mango down either side of the flat stone, then peel and cut the flesh into chunks.

2 – Peel and chop the banana

3 – Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, then process until smooth and thick. Keep in the fridge and use the day you make it.

Makes 1 litre

Preparation 5 mins