Category Archives: cleaneating

2016 Round-up & 2017 Resolutions

So, it’s the end of ANOTHER year – how did we get here so fast?!

It’s now 2 whole years since I first started this blog and a lot has changed, both with this blog and with myself.  I’m going to do a round-up of 2016 but if you just want to see my goals & resolutions for 2017, scroll down a little!  So, where do I begin?

Academically; I finished my first year of my Nutrition degree at the University of Surrey, doing even better than I imagined in my first year exams.  I enjoyed a summer at home in South Wales before coming back to Surrey more ready than ever to start my second year.  Whilst it’s been more stressful than first year, the content of my degree in second year is SO interesting and I count myself lucky everyday to be studying something that I am truly passionate about.

I also managed to secure a placement for my third year of study doing exactly what I want to do and I couldn’t be happier – although I can’t reveal details at the moment I will do so as soon as possible (keep an eye out on my social media!)

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The beautiful University of Surrey Campus!

Fitness; If anything, I’ve felt as if 2016 has been a bit of a step-back for my fitness.  As you may know, I was a keen rower in my first year at uni.  Unfortunately, my relationship with rowing has been a bit of a rocky one since then!  I continued to row for the remainder of my first year at Uni and was then chosen to be Beginner Women’s Captain for 2016/17 but it all started to go a little downhill from there!

I kept up my fitness over the summer and came back hard to rowing in September with an amazing couple of weeks of preseason training.  Unfortunately, this was to little avail as during the next few weeks I suffered a back injury.  (I’ve talked quite a lot about this over on my instagram and will be writing a separate blog post about it soon).  This lower back injury had me out of training for weeks and is part of the reason that I came to the decision of giving up rowing for the foreseeable future.  I have mixed emotions about this but I am enjoying being able to dedicate more time to supporting the beginner rowers as their captain, as well as putting more time into my studies and other hobbies such as baking (which, if you follow my IG, you’ll know is something I’ve been loving a lot lately!)

I have now started to recover (although my back still niggles!) and have started a new strength training programme but I am still very cautious when training.  I am also focusing a lot on mobility/flexibility and am starting to feel more supple than ever!   My cardiovascular fitness has suffered a bit, but I have started running more often, frequently running  5-10k a few times a week!  I am looking forward to smashing some fitness goals in 2017 now that my injury is finally calming down!

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Nutrition; Like my fitness, my nutrition has also been a bit all over the place!  As you may know, I was a keen flexible-dieter/macro-tracker towards to the end of 2015.  I continued this for the majority of 2016 until I started second year of uni.  This is definitely a post for another day, but in short I decided to give macros a break – I think after tracking them for so long I just mentally needed a break and felt ready to eat more intuitively.  It was also starting to feel like more stress than it was worth as I had so many other things to think about!

Since then, I have been on and off tracking macros.  Admittedly, my nutrition hasn’t been as good as I’d have wanted towards the end of 2016.  I started to feel a bit sorry for myself because I wasn’t able to train as often (due to my injury) and this, along with the other stresses in my life, caused me to become a bit demotivated and get into some bad eating habits!  Don’t get me wrong, I was still eating plenty of veg, fruit, protein, healthy fats etc, but I was definitely just generally overeating and having a few too many treats!

Now that I’m getting back to my usual, frequent training and things have started to settle down in my life, it’s time to get back to eating healthily and balanced.  I may go back to tracking macros in the future; I have nothing against it and I think it is a great tool but it just hasn’t really fit into my lifestyle lately!

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Body Image; truthfully, this has probably been the worst year for my body image and mentally I have struggled.  I went from being extremely lean when I was rowing (a little too lean if anything!) to slowly gaining weight over the summer and even more-so when I became injured and stopped rowing.  A little weight-gain is completely normal and was actually extremely necessary for me; in hindsight I was probably not quite eating enough for the amount of exercise I was doing.  I know this little weight-gain is probably not noticeable to anyone but myself, but mentally I was really struggling (and still am some days!) to accept that I was becoming a little curvier.  When I think about this it is the most ridiculous thing: being lean doesn’t define health, personality, relationships, fitness or anything else.  The most important things in life aren’t aesthetic: what matters is being healthy & happy, your character, doing what you love and loving what you do, and living and loving life.  I am also so lucky to have the best boyfriend, friends and family who love me for me, and I am continually reminding myself that I am beautiful in my own skin.

Personal Life; This is probably where life has been the best but also the worst.  I have been with my incredible boyfriend, Kyle, for just over a year now and I couldn’t be happier that I’ve found someone who is so caring and supportive.  I also have the best friends in the world who I’ve continued to make some incredible memories with.  I also turned 21 and had one of the best birthdays of my life surrounded by my favourite people.

However, probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with, not only this year but also in my entire life, is the passing of my dear Grampy.  Last Christmas my family and I were celebrating him beating cancer, but unfortunately it returned fiercer than before and we lost him in early summer.  This was, and still is, absolutely heart-breaking for myself and my family and not a day goes by that I don’t think about and miss him.  His passing is a constant reminder that life is for living and loving those around us, grabbing every possible opportunity, and having as many exciting experiences as possible.

 

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So, sorry for the ramble there, but a lot has happened this year and it feels good to get it all down!  It’s been a year of change, a year of endings but also a year of new beginnings and opportunities.  Overall though, it’s safe to say I’m ready to say goodbye to 2016 and a warm welcome to 2017!

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2017 Goals & Resolutions:

  1. Squat 100kg – a fitness goal I’ve had in mind for a while but one that I really want to crack on with.  Now that I’m not rowing it’s time to get hella strong (and it’ll be nice to concentrate on some fitness goals that aren’t aesthetic!)
  2. Run 5k in under 24minutes – a fitness goal ensuring that I keep up some cardiovascular fitness.  This may seem quite slow but I’ve only got little legs and this would be pretty quick for them!
  3. Enter a race – following goal 2, I want to enter some 5/10k (possible longer!) races this year.  I intended to do that last year but unfortunately it didn’t come to anything.  This year I am going to sign up to races and runs to give myself something to focus on and work towards.
  4. Be consistent with my nutrition –  whether this is tracking macros, eating intuitively or both, I need to let go of some bad habits I picked up in 2016 and get back to focusing on health and performance when it comes to my diet in 2017.
  5. Spend less time on my phone – this goes for when I’m alone but especially with other people.  I hate being in restaurants or just generally out in public and people are out with each other but looking at their phones!  I’m going to be spending less time with my head in my phone/on social media and more time enjoying the people I’m with and concentrating on what’s in front of me!
  6. Be present – this very much links to the last point but I just want to reiterate that I want to experience the here and now for what it is; not worry about the past or what’s to come but simply live and be right now and appreciate everything to its fullest.
  7. Read more – this is something I’ve definitely started doing a lot more lately, both fiction and non-fiction.  I want to start turning my phone/laptop off at least half an hour before bed and give myself time to switch off and read something before I sleep!
  8. Blog more  – with how busy my life is, I always struggle to fit in time for blogging but this year will be different.  With the evolution of Loutritious in 2016, I am so excited for my blog and social media to grow in 2017 so that I can reach more people and share all things nutrition, health and fitness.  Exciting things are coming for Loutritious this year, and I am going to put a lot more time and effort into it so keep your eyes peeled!
  9. Work hard – on all aspects of my life; academic, fitness, nutrition, relationships and myself.  I want to keep pushing myself to keep doing what I love and love what I do to build an incredible and happy life.
  10. Love myself – this has definitely been a difficult one for me this year as there have been many times of self-doubt and lack of confidence.  It’s time to stop being so hard on myself, be proud of how much I’ve achieved and start loving myself, inside and out.

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Thank you so much if you’ve made it this far!  I know this was a bit of a long babble but so much has happened this year and I truly think this has been the most challenging year yet.  However, I am going into 2017 with an open mind and am so excited for things to come!

Lou x

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How to stay healthy at Uni

Hey everyone!

As most of you will know, I started uni 2 years ago (at Surrey studying Nutrition) and am now on my placement year.  I often get asked how I managed to keep up with my healthy habits and lifestyle when starting uni and I know that this is such a worry to some people, as it was for me in my first year!  I shared a few tips in my blog post about how to find a lifestyle balance in a previous blog post, but I thought I would share some more advice on how to stay healthy when you first go to uni, especially on a student budget!

1. Frozen over Fresh

When it comes to food, it’s so easy for people to use the price of food as an excuse not to eat well, but my number one way to solve this problem is to buy frozen fruit and veg over fresh.  You can pretty much buy anything frozen now, from broccoli and blueberries, to asparagus and avocados!  It’s so much more cost-effective, lasts longer and actually takes a lot less time to cook than fresh!  There are only things a few things that I do buy fresh including courgettes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and apples, but even most of these you can get frozen now!  So get chilly and get in that freezer section!

2. Bin the big brands

If there’s one thing that can save you literally hundreds of pounds on it’s choosing supermarket’s own branded things instead of the big brands.  Things like tinned tomatoes, beans, oats, pasta, rice and so much more are all the same whether it’s got a Tesco’s everyday value label or is in fancy big-name packaging.  There’s no need to splurge on expensive brands – it pretty much all tastes exactly the same, with very similar nutritional value and is probably all made in the same factory! So save yourself some beans for more important things!

3. Make sensible food choices

This may seem really obvious, but if you’re moving away from home for the first time where your parents have always done the food shop, you are now in the situation where the supermarket is your oyster and you are pretty much free to buy whatever you want!  This can be completely overwhelming, and you may feel the urge to go crazy and buy foods that your parents never would.  But try and choose the best foods that are going to fuel you well and make you feel good.  Don’t go crazy and buy the entire shop; prioritise the essentials first and then keep the more optional foods for times when you have a little more money to spend!  I’m not saying you can never buy your favourite foods, but don’t necessarily make them a daily addition to your trolley!

4. Meal Prep

Now a lot of people will probably be used to this concept, and it is such a good way be prepared with food for the week, saving time as well as money.  Personally, I found it quite difficult to prep full meals last year due to the limited fridge/freezer space that comes with sharing a kitchen with 12 people!  You will also probably find that you will have this problem.  So, I did however, prep things like my breakfast for the next morning, or chicken breasts and mince meat or batches of chilli which I could cook in bulk and then either keep for the next few days or pop in the freezer to later defrost.  Cooking my frozen veg to go with it literally takes 5 minutes, so you can have a healthy lunch/dinner with ease, freeing up more time in the day!

4. Exercise Regularly

It can be easy to neglect exercise when you first go to uni as there is so much going on with moving in, making new friends, starting a new course and just generally getting used to your new lifestyle.  Don’t stress out about taking time out from the gym to settle in, but once you feel ready, find your nearest/most accessible/cheapest gym, get a membership and get sweating!  I got myself a membership the day after I moved in, and found time to get to the gym during Freshers week, but it’s totally fine if it takes you a little bit longer to find your feet.  I used exercise as just as much as a mental break as a physical workout – time to myself and time to reflect on my new surroundings and all the stresses and changes that were going on in the first few weeks: I’m sure you could benefit from treating exercise in the same way!

5. Join a sport or club

If you’re not much into the gym (or even if you are), one of my main tips is to get involved with a sport or club.  Uni is the perfect opportunity to try things that are much less accessible back at home.  For me, this was rowing: I joined my Boat club during Freshers Week and had the most amazing time during my first year because of it.  Take a look at what your uni has to offer and sign up to new things.  This is your opportunity to find sports and hobbies that you possibly didn’t even know existed!  Not only will it keep you fit but it is the perfect way to meet even more people and make friends that will make keeping active and healthy more fun and less of a chore or struggle at uni!

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6. Walk/cycle everywhere

One of my biggest tips is to keep active outside of the gym/sports by walking and cycling wherever possible.  Walking is so underrated as a form of staying healthy because you don’t even notice you’re doing it!  Ditch that bus pass and walk or cycle to uni, the gym, the supermarket, the shops.  Not only will that mean you’ll be getting fresh air and keeping your activity levels high, but it will also save you money on public transport!

7. Don’t be afraid of alcohol

One of the scariest things about going to uni for someone who is trying to stay healthy is the whole binge drinking culture around uni.  But honestly, do not fear.  During fresher’s week I drunk pretty much every night: it didn’t set me back, it didn’t hinder my progress and I had some of the most fun nights out that I can remember.  I promise, this will be the same for you!  After Freshers I certainly didn’t drink as much because I am not a big drinker at all, but I still enjoy it in moderation.  Obviously be sensible with alcohol and your limits, but don’t refuse to drink just for the fear of being “healthy”.  On another note, don’t be afraid to say no to alcohol.  People will always respect your choice to not drink: go out when you want but suggest doing other things that don’t involve alcohol from time to time, like staying in and having a film night or baking a cake!

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Don’t avoid alcohol or nights out just for sake of being healthy – everything in moderation is fine! I met some of my best friends during Freshers’ week!

 

8. Be yourself

My main point is to just be true to yourself.  I was lucky enough last year that I was surrounded by lots of people in my flat, on my course and at the gym that were interested in the same things as me, and those who didn’t were simply intrigued and asked questions!  We are all from different backgrounds with different hobbies and interests and that is part of what makes uni (and life!) so exciting.  There will always be people who criticise you, your lifestyle and your choices so you have to do what makes you happy.  Don’t do things outside of your lifestyle because it’s not the “norm” and you think you’ll be judged for it.  People will like you for doing you, and if they don’t they don’t matter!  Uni is a place to find people that you truly connect with and by always being yourself you will attract those friendships and relationships that will only lift you higher and allow you to live a happier life, and that’s what truly matters.

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9. And lastly; DON’T WORRY.

It will take a little while for you to get into routine.  It will seem scary at first. You will drink alcohol and you will eat unhealthily at times.  But, most importantly: you will have the best time of your life.  Your time at uni is one big adventure: it’s the time where you meet new people, find out more about yourself and the world, have new experiences and grow as a person.  Don’t lose sight of all that just to be extremely “healthy”.  Don’t forget, a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body and you will find your balance if you just relax and embrace every opportunity.

I really hope you find this helpful and if you have any more queries, questions or comments feel free to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!

Lou x

A reflection of 2015 & my Goals for 2016

Wow, another year has gone by: I can hardly believe it.  That also means that it has been a whole year since I started this blog, Lou’s Lean Lifestyle!

Looking back on to 2015, I can honestly say it has been the best year yet and I currently feel the happiest I ever have done in my life.  So much has happened, particularly in the last 3 months!

As many of you who follow me on social media will know, last year I went back to college to study for an A level in Biology (to accompany the other 4 A levels I got back in 2013).  Studying for an entire A level in a year part-time whilst working at the same time was no mean feat and I am so so proud of myself for working hard to achieve an A.  This landed me my dream position as a student at the University of Surrey to study Nutrition!

Starting Uni in September this year was an extremely scary prospect for me as I dropped out of uni in October of 2013 due to me hating my course (I went to Warwick to study Maths!), and I obviously didn’t want the same thing to happen again.  This time though, I just knew that I had made the right decision even before I got to uni and I was right: my course and everything about uni life is just how I wanted it to be and so much more.

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Firstly, I have met the most amazing people: I am so lucky that the 11 other flatmates I have been placed with have all turned out to be some of my best friends, many of whom are massive foodies/fitness fanatics, like myself!  I am constantly meeting new people from all walks of life and finding myself surrounded by people who are on exactly the same wavelength as me, which is just great.

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The first night of freshers with the best flatmates I could wish for.

Secondly, my course is so so fascinating.  Having only become interested in nutrition about a year and a half ago, I can hardly believe that I am now studying for a degree in this fascinating subject.  To be studying at such an amazing University as Surrey makes me feel so lucky everyday.  I am being taught by some of the most informed lecturers in their field, live in one of the nicest towns in England – in which I feel truly at home – and have access to the most incredible facilities, including Surrey Sports Park which is just out of this world!  The gym is outstanding and there is also a 50m pool, climbing wall, loads of pitches/courts and there’s even a Starbucks so I can get my coffee fix, what more could a girl ask for?!

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Last, but by certainly no means least, I joined the Uni of Surrey Boat club and started rowing; arguably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!  The training is so intense: usually 6-7 days a week with a mixture of weights, a lot more cardio than I’m used to, and rowing on the Thames every weekend.  I almost need to pinch myself with how lucky I feel to be involved in such an incredible sport (even though my legs hurt constantly!).  All my teammates are amazing and have become my closest friends.  It is also through this sport that I met my wonderful best friend, who is now my boyfriend; someone that I now could never imagine my life without.

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Fitness & diet-wise, my weight massively fluctuated at the beginning of the year.  With the stress of college exams and lack of time to train, I over-ate and undertrained and found it difficult to find a balance.  The summer was a massive turning point for me as I had so much more time to get in the gym and was introduced to flexible dieting/IIFYM, which has helped me so much in finding a healthier balance with food, being a lot less restrictive and allowing me to understand the importance of precision of macronutrients in the diet for reaching your goals (a blog post for another day!).  Since going to uni my strength and cardiovascular fitness has increased dramatically and body fat percentage decreased significantly, mainly due to all the extra training I now do for rowing (which is great because it means I get to eat loads more!).

 

In April of 2015 I also became a blogger for Cardiff Sports Nutrition, a health and food supplement store which I feel so privileged to be associated with.  I get to try their amazing products and give some of the best brands an honest review for you guys, which I mainly do on my instagram.  I even have a 10% discount code LOULEAN10 which you can use online www.cardiffsportsnutrition.co.uk.

Aside from uni and fitness related things, 2015 has also held some of the worst days of my life.  In terms of personal life, one of my family members became seriously ill in August, and for a long while it looked like there was no hope, which was absolutely crushing.  However, with the amazing help and support of family, friends and an incredible surgeon, this family member is now fully on the road to recovery and I could not be happier.  Although incredibly scary, this has made my family and I closer than ever, and it is times like this that make you truly appreciative of life and the many opportunities it holds.

So, as you can see, I am so content with my life at the moment and am entering 2016 with so much positivity. I have lots to look forward to: my 21st birthday, the start of race season with rowing, the second semester of my degree, summer and so much more.  The main thing I can ask for out of this next year is that it will continue in the way in which 2015 has ended.

 

I have written myself a few goals/resolutions for this year, which are in the back of my diary and also pinned on my noticeboard.  They include some of the following:

  • read more – this year I really want to broaden my mind and read as much non-fiction as possible, especially things that may be related to my degree (which shouldn’t be a problem because foooood!)
  • spend less time on the internet/phone – I think we’re all a little guilty of this one.  I really want to spend as little time as possible wasting away hours looking at pointless things on my laptop/mobile and use my time more productively!
  • get more sleep – as a lot of you may know, I am a sucker for an early morning (especially to workout) but don’t tend to get to bed early enough and end up running off coffee all day – a few more early nights are needed in 2016!
  • don’t worry so much about my body – like a lot of us, I can be extremely body-conscious, which I hate.  Unfortunately, it is one of those things that in today’s society is difficult not to be.  However, I know that I just need to relax and not care so much: having character and personality are what really counts in this life anyway.
  • eat a little less chocolate – this is definitely going to be a difficult one as I am a massive chocoholic!  And chocolate is good for the soul. And has some amazing health benefits. And tastes out of this world. Ok maybe this resolution wasn’t such a good idea..
  • blog more – admittedly, I didn’t write nearly as many blog posts as I planned on in 2015: life and uni got in the way but I will definitely be posting a lot more in 2016: let me know what you guys want to see, whether it be recipes/fitness/health-related!
  • sign up & do some charity runs/races – now that my cardiovascular fitness has increased I am so up for doing some 10ks, obstacle course, etc, especially if it is for a good cause! Any suggestions?
  • go on holiday/travel abroad – a big one for me as I didn’t manage to go abroad anywhere in 2015 and have most definitely got the bug to go on some adventures in the coming year!

The final and most important goal for me is to BE HAPPY – something which is often forgotten beneath striving for success and perfection in life.  Don’t forget, success isn’t a straight path and it is so important to love every step of the journey because otherwise, what’s the point right?

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And finally, just to say a massive thank you to all of you who are following my blog/social media.  I love sharing my progress with you all and hearing your feedback – never hesitate to get in touch!

What are some of your goals/resolutions?  Whatever they are, I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2016; let’s smash it.

Lou x