As you may have read in my first ever post, Where it all began, sport has always played a key role in my life. At school, if anyone ever needed me, the best place to look would have been on the lacrosse pitches or up in the fitness suite. Basically, I used to spend a large amount of my time running around a field or using the cardio machines up in the gym.
I always loved playing lacrosse, but when it came to going to the gym, like most people would say, it was always a bit of a chore. Running on a treadmill for half an hour or doing a leisurely cycle with a few ab exercises after was not really the most exciting way to spend my time. Despite making me feel as though I had burnt X dozen calories and increased my fitness levels, if I were to be critical, it never really made that much of a difference. To put it bluntly, no matter how much cardio I did, nothing really changed. Cardio exercise never helped me to lose any weight or gain much fitness.
Weights as an alternative
Don't get me wrong, some people really react physically to going on runs, cycles, swims etc. My own brother is able to drop body fat in a matter of days when he starts running regularly. Clearly we don't share the same metabolic genes because for me, cardio is just not the answer. Instead, I lose my weight lifting weights.
A lot of girls are under the impression that weights are for guys and if a girl so much as touches a barbell she will become hench and muscly. I really want to put this idea to bed once and for all as I have seen many girls who seem to suffer from the same cardio problems as me. I see them training daily on the cross trainer with little results to show for their troubles. I just wish that they could have the confidence to try out a new weighted programme as I am more than sure it would give them the results they want.
Now for a Bit of Science
When I say that girls who don't react to cardio training should get in the weights section to see more results, I do not necessarily mean they should try to become the next weight lifting champion - doing power cleans, clean and presses etc. All I am talking about, is using a few free weights to add some intensity to exercises. Here are some examples I recommend to help shed body fat and tone up:
For the lower body
Squats are a great calorie burner, but if you are only using your own body weight, then you will have to do a lot to see desired results. Instead, squat using the 20kg barbell or add 5-10kg on either side and try to get out 12-15 reps. This will get the heart rate up and metabolism going, whilst also working those bum and leg muscles.
Lunges are another great exercise to tone up the legs and bum, but again, they are not difficult when using only your body weight. Grab some 5kg dumbells in either hand, or more if you are feeling confident, and go for 20-25 walking lunges. This will be sure to engage those lower body muscles and fire up that metabolism.
For the upper body
Assisted chin ups are a great way to work the upper body. Set the weight to just over half your body weight and try for 10-12 reps Remember to drive from the arms rather than using your momentum to pull yourself up. This exercise will help to get rid of those bingo wings gals!
Shoulder press is an exercise that really helps to get the blood pumping and heart rate up as you drive your arms above your head. Try using an 8kg barbell and smashing out 15 reps. If your arms and shoulders start to get tired, use your legs to drive yourself up by lowering slightly into a squat before powering up.
For the Abs
Russian twists are fantastic for the obliques, but it will take a long time to feel the burn without using a medicine ball. Grab a 5kg ball and rotate from side to side, trying to touch your elbows to the ground. Feel the burn and take a rest after about 20-30 reps.
Plate Crunches are a lot harder than normal crunches as the added weight means you have to engage your abs more to pull yourself up. Reach the weight up to the sky and feel your core working as well as your upper body.
I hope this post has made you re-think the way you train, especially if all those cardio workouts don't seem to be giving you the joy you deserve. Weight training is a much more fun and enjoyable way to spend your time in the gym and the results are even more worth it.
If you are worried about entering the weight side of the gym, then give my post 'The Guys Side of the Gym' a read. It's about alternatives to using bench presses and Smith machines, so you can feel comfortable training away from the boys, whilst still getting the results you want. Also, for all those people who are still sceptical about using weights, check out my post, 'HIIT Training'. This sort of training uses only body weight exercises and will be sure to get amazing fat burning results.
No Carbs Before Marbs
No time for spiel
There has always been a lot of debate around the need for carbohydrates in people's diets. I am not for one minute an expert, so am not going to bother with a long winded explanation about the two different types, what we use them for and how much to eat on a day to day basis. Instead, I am just going to give examples and information about what role carbohydrates play in my diet. You are welcome to take as much or as little information as you want. What works for me, does not work for everyone.
Not for everyone
As much as I love my carbohydrates - bread, pasta, rice etc- my body just can't take them. I sometimes use the phrase, 'If I so much as look at a loaf of bread, I gain inches.' Whilst this is not strictly true, eating a high carb diet does mean I pile on the pounds fairly quickly, despite training hard in the gym. This has meant that I have had to play around with my carb intake to find out what I can and can't eat and in what sort of quantity.
Knowing that eating a fairly high daily intake of carbs leads to weight gain for me, I decided to try and vary my carb intake and see what my body could cope with. However, despite excellent results, some diets were just not sustainable. Here are two types of diet I tried.
- Carb Cycling (alternating between No, Low, High carb days)
This produced amazing results and I got pretty lean pretty quickly. However, this type of dieting can only be a short term fix, as it is not a sustainable way of eating.
- No complex carbs at all (apart from veg)
Again, body wise this had very strong results, but the bad moods and craving were not worth the trouble.
Overall, I have settled on the following diet plan when it comes to carbohydrates:
1. I eat a very low carb diet on the days where I do not go to the gym. My only carb intake will be from fruit and veg. Complex carbs or high sugar options, eg. yoghurt or pasta, are out of the question.
2. Bread is a treat once a week. Every Sunday my family and I sit down for a snacky kind of lunch and I indulge in a beautiful Challah role. Definitely worth the wait!
3. On the days I train early in the morning (ie. before lunch) , I will eat a high carb breakfast. This is usually yoghurt, berries and Special K/Oatibix/granola - or some sort of fairly healthy cereal. This gives me the energy I need to go hard in the gym straight after! If I am not training until later in the afternoon, I will skip the carbs at breakfast and have some form of egg.
4. Limited carbs at dinner. I try my hardest to avoid lots of carbs at dinner, apart from vegetables and the odd bit of fruit afterwards. I don't tuck into a bowl of pasta and rarely add many potatoes to my chicken as I don't feel the need. I will fill my plate with protein and a variety of vegetables and it is enough to keep me going throughout the night. Too much complex carbs at this time would be stored in my body as fat, as I would not be active enough to burn them off.
5. I never go more than 2 days without any complex carbs. Most days I will try and eat some sort of complex carb as when you totally cut them out, your body becomes used to this way of eating. Therefore, when you reintroduce them, your body can't cope and the result is even faster weight gain. I will still avoid a big jacket potato, but sweet potatoes and a small helping of rice or couscous is perfect to keep the carb metabolism functioning.
Living in a world where carbs are such a big part of life, I totally understand how difficult it can be to eat a low carb diet. Therefore I have come up with some alternatives for the classic carby treats we all know and love.
1. Instead of Spaghetti Bolognese, give Vegetable Spaghetti Bolognese a go. Simply use a Julienne Cutter to create your own noodle shaped Courgette and/or carrots. Serve with meat sauce, tomato sauce or pesto - whatever you want!
2. Everyone loves a quick snack of cheese and crackers. Well I have an alternative for those high carb, unhealthy crackers. They contain no carb grains whatsoever. Great with PB & J, cheese and chutney or any other combination
Almond and Hazelnut Savoury Crackers:
(180 degrees, 10min, makes 10)
10g melted butter
50g ground almonds
30g ground hazelnuts
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
2 Tbsp milk
3. My take on the classic Apple Crumble Topping. Having served this at a few dinner parties now, I can vouch for the fact it goes down a treat! This recipe has the added bonus of containing no refined sugar whatsoever, so you really can feel good about having it.
Nutty Crumble Topping
(160 degrees, 20 min)
75g ground almonds
35g mixed nuts
15g desiccated coconut
Spread ontop of the fruit of your choice for a delicious crumble
4. Try my chocolate cake made with ground almonds rather than flour - an irresistible, low carb treat!
(180 degrees 40-45 min)
Melt in a saucepan:
6oz dark chocolate
Once melted, add and stir in:
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2oz ground almonds
In a separate bowl:
whisk up 3 egg whites until light and fluffy
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and pour into a cake tin for cooking
Take out after 40ish min and leave to cool.
Melt some dark chocolate and a little bit of butter and cover the top of the cake for some delicious icing
Hope that helps!
This is only a small selection of the low carb dishes I use. They allow me to treat myself fairly regularly without the fear of piling on the pounds and mean I can enjoy classic dishes in a carb free way.
Obviously, carbs are not a problem for everyone and if you can tolerate them, then by all means have your fair share of potatoes and noodles. But for all those carb sufferers out there, I hope this helps. Please get in touch for more recipes and do let me know how you play with carbs in your diet. Enjoy!
The Stigma around HIIT
What I think
Having trained as a HIIT instructor, I have a love and desire for the intense nature of this particular type of exercise. Nothing can beat the feeling of knowing you’ve worked really hard, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, and seeing the amazing results after a few sessions. It helps me to drop body fat quickly, improves my fitness levels dramatically and has the added bonus of not burning off the muscle I am building in my gym sessions. For me, it is the perfect style of class!
What you think
However, having spoken to many people in and around my gym club, I have noticed that there seems to be a stigma associated with these high intensity classes, - Insanity, Metafit, HIIT etc. Many people have used phrases such as ‘I’m not fit enough to do that.’, ‘I’m too old for that.’ or ‘That’s too hard for me.’, when referring to the prospect of attending such a class. Whilst I appreciate why at first glance someone would think that, I find it difficult to understand such reasoning.
Firstly, HIIT gets you fit. Whilst the first session may be difficult, your body will quickly adapt to it’s nature and become more efficient at dealing with the intensity and duration of the workout. Within a few sessions, you will notice your fitness levels improving and soon enough this, ‘I’m not fit enough to do that’ justification will be invalid. There have been countless studies showing how this type of training not only improves your aerobic functioning, but also your mood, appetite levels and insulin sensitivity. It is a great way of improving the overall fitness and health of your body.
Secondly, all exercises in HIIT training can be adapted. We can substitute plyo squats for normal, static squats. We can use lateral step taps instead of lateral leaps. We can do pressups on our knees or against the wall rather than ones on our toes. Every exercise has alternatives for all fitness levels and generations. There is no reason why anyone should feel that age is an issue when it comes to HIIT.
Third and finally, addressing the ‘That’s too hard for me’ analysis. Unlike most classes where you keep to the beat of a song, in HIIT you chose your timing. The idea is to work as hard as you physically can, without having to keep up with the instructor or in time with the music. If you can only complete 5 reps in the timeframe, that is fine. If you can do 15 reps, then great. If you can smash out 30+, then good for you! HIIT accommodates for everyone. Nothing is too difficult as you work at your own level and pace.
Changed your mind?
Overall, I cannot recommend HIIT training more highly. It is great for improving health, fitness and body image, as well as the feeling of pride after completing a workout. Yes, it is a hard and intense form of exercise, but it is only as difficult as you chose to make it. For me, the benefits are worth every drop of sweat and I love it. Your mind will always give up before your body does, so get some confidence and give HIIT training a go!
It's no secret that everyone loves a good people watch and what better place to do it than at the gym where you see a huge array of people. However, despite the vast spectrum of people entering the gym floor, you will always get your stereotype of gym go-ers. Have a look, I'm sure these will sound familiar.
There's always that one guy who likes to lift heavy, and wants everyone to know he's doing so. Your sure to hear the odd grunt throughout a set and most definitely likely to know when he's finished, as the weights make a large smash on the gym floor.
2. The Ripped Oldie
Somewhere lurking around the gym you will find the old man or woman that's fitter and more ripped than you. It's a bit of a sorry sight, but you have to hand it to them, they've been working hard for years and deserve every double take they get!
3. The Socialite
We've all been interupted by the classic social gymmer. The one who comes up to the gym dressed in all their nike gear, does a few exercises here and there to seem legit, but is really just looking for a chat. Just because you don't want to work hard, doesn't mean you can interupt my rest periods!
4. The StarerWho else will you find sitting on the incline chest press machine other than the inappropriate starer. They seem to take rest periods of about 10 minutes as this gives them time to observe every last detail of what you are doing. The average ones will look away and start their next set when you catch them, whilst the pros will continue to stare, despite the awkward eye contact.
6. Mr Focussed
The majority of us don't like to be interupted during our workout, but there is always that one person who would shoot you if you so much as asked for a weight. Recognisable by headphones in, music blazing and a steely look in their eyes, these ones are not gymmers to be messed with. My advice, stay away!
In every gym you will get the hot girl who makes even 'Mr Focussed' take out his headphones and become 'The Starer'. She'll be dressed top to toe in Nike, showing off her enviable figure and caked in makeup like she's attending the Oscars. She'll potter around pretending to workout, but really she is just excited to update her social media accounts on her latest accomplishments in the gym.
8. The Biggest Loser
If I were to see many of one stereotype in the gym at one time, The Biggest Loser would be that person. They may not be as attractive to watch as 'The Hot Girl', but that's exactly why they are there - to one day look like her! Next time you see one of these people, don't turn your back, point or laugh. Respect them for breaking their bad habits and getting into the gym. Good luck to them!
9. The Terrible Twins
At some point, you will come across the training partners who seem to be conjoined at the hip. Usually dressed in matching outfits, they will enter the gym together, spot each other, rest together, leave together, share a protein shake and probably come back tomorrow together. My question is; what happens when one goes on holiday or can't make it?
10. The one with 'All the Gear but no Idea'
Every gym has this person. The one who acts like they have been weight lifting champion of the world 5 years running and beat Usain Bolt in the last Olympic Games. Whether you've asked for their help or not, they will try to advise you on the best exercises to do and show you how to tweak your technique in order to improve. They will probably be seen trying to lift 5x heavier than anyone else... and failing... whilst using totally awful technique and have you looking desperately for the nearest First Aider. You've got to feel sorry for them; they are only trying to help.
11. The One who Skips Leg Day
You'll probably find this gym stereotype over by the bench press. They are recognisable by their huge chest, arms and back, contrasting against their weedy stick legs. What are you doing mate? Haven't you ever heard of Legs Monday? Honestly, I don't know how they can even hold themselves up!
12. Mr Steroids
Unfortunately, every gym has these guys as well. They will be seen lifting the lightest weights with the smallest range of movement, yet on returning to the gym the next day, they will have gained pounds of muscle. Be sure not to take a pin to them, because I'm sure they will pop and fly away like a balloon.
These are the types of people I've seen in my gym. Which ones can you spot? Can you think of any others? Or even better, which one are you? Get in touch!
The Power of the Gym
Just one of those days
We all have those days where we wake up feeling grumpy, sad or lethargic. We also have those days where we feel great until something comes up and smacks us totally in the face, leaving us angry or hurt. The question is, what can we do to alleviate these feelings and bring our mood back up to normal. My answer is Exercise.
Most people have heard the facts that exercising releases endorphines, a form of neurotransmitter that elevates your mood. This can cause you to feel a sensation known as 'Runner's High', a feeling of euphoria, where calmness overtakes any built up anger or stress. Whilst I am sure this science is correct, for me it is more the feeling of empowerment, strength and achievement that a workout provides which lifts me up again.
Channelling your Mood
|Nicely Bruised Legs|
When I step into the gym, I usually have a clear picture about what I want to do. This is especially the case if I am in a bad mood. I head straight for the squat rack, my favourite piece of equipment and load on the weights for an intense workout. Lowering slowly for 4 seconds allows me to harness the power to explode quickly up, driving from my legs to generate maximum power. With every explosive action, I feel my anger slowly dissipating as I channel it into hard work.
Another of my favourite exercises to relieve anger is box jumps. I find that nervousness at jumping to a certain height is never a factor when I'm angry, as all my inibitions go and I just want to smash it. I pile the boxes high and let my mind lift me as high as it will go. Yes, occasionally this does end in disaster and fairly bruised legs, but that only serves to lighten my mood as I laugh at myself stacking it on the gym floor.
Alone v Socialising
When in a bad mood, it is known that people tend to seek solitude and enjoy wallowing in their own misery. Now I too will vouch for the occasional session ploughing into a tub of icecream infront of the TV on my own, but actually this never seems to make things much better. Going to the gym and being in and around other hard working people really can cheer you up. I find that as soon as I combine my tough workout with a few bits of gym banter with fellow trainers, it was like I was never in a grump. I can leave all my built up anger in the gym and go home to my chocolate protein shake, rather than devouring all the chocolate bars in the house.
Give it a go
So next time you don't feel 100%, take yourself off down to the gym, go for a run or grab your bike and go for a cycle. The fresh air and exercise will do you good as well as 'releasing those endorphines' which will elevate your mood. Try to channel your emotions into getting the best workout possible as your built up frustration will allow you to lift heavier, go faster and be more powerful. If nothing else, it will justify the extra calories from that tub of Ben and Jerry's!
The 'Guys side of the Gym'
The Manly SideI took a friend into the gym today who was interested in toning legs, bum, abs etc. We got talking before starting and she explained how she's wanted to strength train in the gym for a while, but hasn't had the confidence to go over into the weights section alone and so usually stays on the other side doing cardio. It brought me back to before last summer where I too shared similar opinions. The weights section of a gym does appear extremely intimidating, with large, muscular men lifting heavy weights and using strange looking gym contraptions. This is not only a problem for women, also one for men who have never really trained before. Sitting next to someone benching some huge, heavy weight and only being able to lift a few kgs is not really a confidence building experience.
First entryThis got me wondering how and when I first felt comfortable enough to enter the weights section of a gym. The answer is; when I started training with Jamie, my first PT. He would take me over there, show me some exercises and no one would bat an eye lid that 'a little girl' was in the manly section of the gym. After a while, I started to get to know the regulars who trained at similar times to me. We would chat during rest periods and comment on the intensity of exercises I was being given. I learned more and more about how to use the equipment in different ways and the best exercises to combine. I started to grow in confidence, as well as strength, in my ability to put together and complete a weight based training session.
Confidence and Knowledge
The biggest issue when it comes to doing weights is knowledge. Everyone knows how to get on a bike and cycle or run on a tredmil, but most people would have no idea what to do with a rack of dumbells or a leg press. The only way you can possibly have a clue is by being shown the ropes and being taught. Obviously not everyone can afford a personal trainer, but there must be someone who is willing to give you some ideas and show you some exercises. Girls, ask a male friend if you can join them for a session or find a training partner who has some knowledge and can help you out. Going with someone else can help you to feel more comfortable and allow you to get the most out of a session, rather than just doing boring cardio for an hour.
Still need a little push?
For those who haven't quite yet built up the courage to go into the weight section alone or are still feeling a little intimidated, here is a short session I did with my friend today. We didn't once enter the weights area, simply staying in the floor work section. We still worked hard, using free weights and doing strength endurance exercises. I have to say it was much more fun than running on the tredmil for 30 minutes.
2 sets of:
Squats (holding a ViPR horizontally in arms)
- 15 reps
- lower for 4 seconds, power up for 1 second
3 rounds of the superset:
Thread the Needle with the ViPR
- 15 reps
- 10 reps
3 rounds of the superset:
Kettle bell swings
- 30 seconds
Step ups onto box holding dumbells
- 12 step ups
Leg throw downs
- 5 centre, 5 left side, 5 right side, 5 centre
Leg throw downs
- 5 centre, 5 left side, 5 right side, 5 centre
Crunches, passing medicine ball to and from partner
- 12 reps
Leg throw downs
- 5 centre, 5 left side, 5 right side, 5 centre
Crunches, passing medicine ball to and from partner
- 12 reps
Russian twists with medicine ball
Just do it
Despite the stereotype that a weights section of a gym is for big strong men, this really isn't the case. The truth is, when in the gym, everyone is so focussed on their own session they barely even notice you or what weight you are lifting. Everyone has to start from somewhere and you don't get big without first being small and working hard. Also, a girl who lifts will always have a much sexier figure than a girl who just constantly runs and guys will love that. My advice is bite the bullet! Get in the weights section of a gym and start really training. Go with a friend, ask for a gym trainer's help or get in touch. I will be more than happy to explain how to use some of the odd looking machinary and/or help put together a programme. If you would still feel more comfortable staying in the floor area, then again I can help with ideas of exercises. You can work just as hard and tone up just as easily using ViPRs, the TRX, kettle bells etc as you can from using the machines in the weights area. So go on, get started!!!
What it is
High intensity interval training or HIIT training is a form of exercise involving short bursts of intense work, followed by short recovery periods. There are various versions of HIIT sessions all with different work and rest timings. The idea is that you work as hard as you can in the short time frame and have a quick recovery before repeating the intense work. Exercises can be simply body weight- such as press ups, burpees, high knee sprints etc, or weighted- including clean and press, shoulder press, barbell squats. The options are endless as to how to fit your programme, depending on what you want to achieve.
1. Fat loss
Due to the high intensity nature, your metabolic rate is dramatically increased, not just during the class but in the 24hours to follow. Therefore you burn up calories faster and more efficiently for longer.
By pushing into that anaerobic zone you increase your lactic threshold (the point where lactic acid builds up). This means you are less likely to feel that burn and so can continue to work harder for longer. You will also improve your heart functioning ability (cardiovascular efficency). Your body becomes better at transporting oxygen around the body, allowing you to work harder for longer ie. increasing your fitness levels.
3. Burn fat not muscle
Unlike regular cardio exercise, HIIT training has been proven to burn only fat and not muscle. This means you can work hard in the gym and not feel your cardio based workout is ruining it.
4. Ease of access
HIIT workouts can be done anywhere and any time. They are only 30 minutes long so do not require you to take large amounts out of your day. Also, the short nature of the class means you can work harder because you know it will be over soon. Finally, no equipment is required if you do not want. All you need is a timer to keep track of work and rest intervals.
I absolutely love HIIT training. For me, it is perfect! It is fast paced whilst not going on for too long which, unlike some classes, keeps me totally motivated the whole way through. I do enjoy it, but the best thing is that it really does work. It gets you fitter, faster than any other programme and decreases body fat percentage after only a few sessions. I try to do HIIT 2 or 3 times a week. I fit it in between my gym sessions and as it does not burn muscle, it compliments them so well. HIIT makes me feel fitter, healthier and slimmer. I just can't get enough!
Les Mills Grit
As a Grit instructor, I have to take this opportunity to publises it's programme. There are 3 versions of Grit which one can take part in, depending on goals. They are all forms of HIIT but focus on slightly different aspects.
Grit cardio requires no equipment as all exercises are body weight. Examples of exercises are mountain climbers, high knee sprints, bear crawl. Goal is primarly fitness and fat loss.
Grit Plyo is a plyometric focussed form of HIIT training, meaning it is probably the most intense. It works on explosive power including some body weight and some weighted exercises. Such include explosive jacks, plyo press ups and squat jumps. This is guaranteed to get you working to your max!
Where can I do a HIIT session
There are many different forms of HIIT training in and around the exercise world. Here is a short list of different classes that follow an interval training regime. Look out for them in your local gyms.
Metafit - various body weight exercises with different work and rest times
Les Mills Grit - various weighted/body weight exercises with changing work/rest circuits
Insanity- various body weight exercises with slighly longer work periods
HIIT- Various body weight exercises with varying work and rest times
Tabata training - various exercises of 20 seconds work followed by 10s rest for 8 rounds.
If you want to conduct your own HIIT session all you really need is a timer. Chose your intervals and exercises and take part wherever you like. A great app that I use is Seconds Pro. You can create your own interval times and it will count you down from 3 before the next time frame so you know when to start. You can also add music to keep you motivated.
When forming your own HIIT programme, a useful hint is to alternate exercises between upper and lower body. Eg. 30 seconds squats, 20 seconds rest, 30 seconds press ups. This means your body has to work even harder as it adapts to redirecting blood to different parts of the body in a short time frame. Over time, you become more efficient and in turn fitness levels increase.
It is also best to keep your session to under 30 minutes. Any longer than this and you will not be able to sustain the insensity. Also, when chosing interval times, you want to work up to a point that within a partuicular circuit of x number of rounds, rest periods are shorter than work periods. eg. 30 seconds on, 20 seconds off. However, between rounds, rest periods should be longer. eg. 1 minute.
Remember, only you know your fitness levels. Therefore, when creating your own HIIT workouts, you are in charge of picking a rest time that reflects how long you need in order to work at the same high intensity throughout. If this means you need to rest for longer, then go for it. eg. 30 seconds on, 30+ seconds rest. The goal is to work at the highest intensity possibly in those short bouts.
I could not reccommed HIIT training enough. Please do get in touch if you have any other questions or ideas about HIIT. Give it a go, it really does work!!!
I want a treat
Cold TurkeyEating cleanly all day everyday can be extremely difficult and I for one know how hard it is to resist the temptations of ice-cream, chocolate, biscuits etc. When people think about going on a health kick or diet, they seem to feel the need to totally cut out any 'unhealthy' snack and go completely cold turkey. In my opinion this is not the way to go. If you constantly deprive yourself of that little pick me up, there is a huge chance it will lead to a binge, where you gorge upon everything you have been craving. As long as 80% of your daily food intake is good, a chocolate biscuit or two, making up the other 20%, isn't going to do any harm.
Making the choice
When chosing your little daily treat, my advice is to think natural. In my family, we tend to enjoy our breakfast/cereal bars eg. Go Ahead Bars or Belvita Breakfast biscuits. These are all extremely high in refined sugar and additives and quite frankly, not worth the calories. Yet, we continue to eat them because we have no substitute, want a treat and they are pretty more-ish. It is hard to cut out something you have been enjoying for a while, so the better option is to find an alternative.
You chose the ingredients
The best way to know exactly what is going into your snacks, is to make them yourself. We have recently started making our own version of the Cocoa Nakd bar and our own nutty chocolate flapjacks which we call Harris Bars. These are the perfect snack to satisfy our cravings. As well as knowing exactly what is in them, they are actually much nicer than the shop bought versions.
Cocoa Nakd bars- (makes 5)Blend ingredients together and leave to set in fridge. No cooking required
85g pitted dates
50g unsalted cashew nuts
10g cocoa powder
Harris Bars- (makes 10)Mix together all ingredients and bake for 15min on 150 degrees fan oven
3 table spoons of honey
45g toasted mixed nuts
For all you chocolate lovers, add a layer of melted dark chocolate ontop once the mixture has been cooked and cooled
I know I would always feel guilty about having more than one Mars Bar or KitKat. For me, this is because the action of opening a second wrapper and having to throw it in the bin for everyone to see is enough to put me off. However, when making your own treats, the wrapper issue does not occur. I can quite happily keep picking away at my tray bake, evening up the sides until I might as well have taken two or three slices. My golden advice to avoid this is to wrap your own treats. I would love to have a vacuum sealer to actually create my own wrappers, but unfortunately this isn't really feasable. I find that tin foil works just as well and means that I have my one treat and feel good for the rest of the day, knowing my cravings are satisfied!
What are your favourite treats and recipes? Get in touch and let me know