Category Archives: goals

Why Flexible Dieting is a FAD

“Flexible Dieting”, “If It Fits Your Macros”, “IIFYM”, “Macro-Tracking” – call it what you want and say what you want about it, but it’s a diet.

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Before we go any further, allow me to explain what Flexible Dieting/IIFYM is.  Within food we have 3 macronutrients – carbs, protein and fat.  All foods contain these macronutrients or ‘macros’ in varying amounts.  For example; things like bread, oats, fruit and vegetables will tend to have more carbs; meat, fish and eggs tend to have more protein; and things like avocado, oils and butter will be have more fat.

The idea of tracking macros is that you input food into an app – such as the incredibly popular MyFitnessPal – or simply write it down and take note of how much of each macronutrient you eat throughout the day – being careful not to exceed your pre-calculated limit for the day.

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Some of you who have been following me for a while will know that a couple of years ago I tracked macros religiously – I was the flexible dieting queen.  I swore by it.  So I feel like I can talk from experience when I say how damaging it can be – rather that just being opinionated about something I haven’t even tried.  I also know how responsible I have been in the past for advocating tracking macros but you know what – I was wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for tracking macros.  I currently work with athletes and know that in some sports, especially those that are weight categorised (such as rowing or powerlifting) or require an extremely low body fat percentage (such as bodybuilding) tracking macros can be essential for improving performance.  I also think it’s great to have an idea of what different foods comprise of  – but you do not need to track macros in order to do that.

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However, tracking macros should not be for the average Joe.  And here’s why:

Firstly and most importantly: 9/10 times it leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.  Gone over your macros for the day?  Ah well, might as well blow it and binge on everything you can find in the house.  Hungry in the evening?  Sorry, you can’t eat anything else because it won’t fit your macros.  It can lead to complete obsession with food; constant thoughts about food, when and what you will eat next, planning ahead to see what you can “fit” into your daily intake.

Sure, people make results when tracking macros – any diet that restricts your intake will lead to you losing weight and, in some cases, becoming extremely lean.  However, you can see what tracking macros does to people’s bodies but you can’t see what it’s doing to their mind.  

Tracking macros can often be a precursor for disordered eating and even eating disorders.  And in some cases, it’s a way for people previously suffering from eating disorders to mask that they are still suffering – weighing yourself, weighing food, preoccupation with bodyweight and size, tracking every morsel of food – see any scary similarities?

Tracking macros can also put you completely out of tune with your own body.  You forget how it feels to be hungry or full and instead eat because it’s what you’ve planned for your daily intake.  You end up losing some satisfaction from food because you eat things that “fit your macros” rather than something that is filling and satisfying both physically and mentally.

Some could argue that tracking macros is also mostly completely pointless as there is so much room for error.  From errors in tracking the actual food to errors in working out your macros in the first place.  There are calculations we can use to estimate how many calories we need a day, which in itself is pretty inaccurate.  To be more accurate you could measure your Resting Energy Expenditure via direct or indirect calorimetry.  But even still, this is never going to be 100% accurate.  The truth is, our bodies need differing amounts of fuel on a daily, weekly, monthly basis because things are always changing internally and externally – the human body is far more complex than we can imagine.  We don’t know exactly how much food is being digested, absorbed and utilised in each of our bodies because we are all individual, and this can change every day depending on a number of factors.

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For a large proportion of people, tracking macros takes the focus away from health, especially when taking a “flexible dieting” approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t enjoy your favourite foods – I do on the daily, but I don’t feel the need to track it.  Tracking your favourite foods is just allowing yourself to eat things you like without guilt – but guess what, you can do that without tracking what you eat!  People often end up eliminating things from their diet that are perfectly healthy because they don’t “fit” (e.g. not having fruit because of the sugar content) but will happily eat something less nutrient-dense because it’s “macro-friendly”.

It’s not something you can keep up forever – imagine having a partner and kids and still tracking what you eat.  It certainly doesn’t promote having a good relationship with food to your kids (or anyone else around you) and is so time-consuming – honestly, who can be arsed for that?!  We need to start thinking of our health and fitness in terms of longevity and enjoyment – its not about being the most shredded or even being the strongest or fastest.

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One of the problems is that we are so dissatisfied with how we look these days that we go to extreme measures to get the body we want.  Well guess what – I tracked macros, became extremely lean (to a near dangerous point) and still wasn’t happy with my body (not to mention how unhealthy I was).  Now that I’m much less lean and have started to accept my body for how it is and what it can do, I enjoy eating and exercising for how it makes me feel, I am so much happier and healthier.

Tracking macros is still dieting, even though some swear it’s a lifestyle.  What kind of lifestyle doesn’t allow you to eat in the evenings when you are hungry because you’ve “used all your carbs up for the day”?  Or stops you going out for food with friends out of fear that you “don’t know what the macros are”?  Or means that you turn down your Grandmother’s homemade cake because it “doesn’t fit your macros”?  Certainly not a lifestyle I want.

 

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Intuitive Eating is not what you think

Now, let’s get one thing straight; intuitive eating is not what you think.  You don’t just stop tracking macros and then suddenly become an intuitive eater.  Intuitive eating isn’t just something you wake up one day and start doing easily.    We are born as intuitive eaters but throughout life our innate ability to satisfy hunger and satiety cues can become compromised due to external influences.

So, what is intuitive eating?

Intuitive Eating is an actual concept backed up by science with principles (not rules) to use as guidance.  These are:

  1. Reject the diet mentality
  2. Honour your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Feel your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Cope with your emotions without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise – feel the difference
  10. Honour your health

[Taken from Tribole and Resch’s Intuitive Eating]

It is certainly not a diet and is not about losing weight – instead there is no focus on weight loss at all.  It’s about letting your body find its natural set-point – whether that be heavier or lighter than you are now – and allowing your body to keep finding its set-point as this is constantly changing throughout life.  One thing I really want to stress is that if you are trying to lose weight by “eating intuitively”, you are not practicing intuitive eating – it has nothing to do with weight loss or dieting.

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It is also not just about “eating when hungry and stopping when full” which could easily turn into the “hunger and fullness diet”.  You are still allowed to eat for reasons other than hunger – think cake at birthdays and delicious meals out with friends.  There is no restriction and no deprivation, but instead a whole lot of respect for yourself, your body, your health (mentally and physically) and how you feel; actually being satisfied by the food you eat and not feeling any guilt.

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It is also not eating anything and everything all the time.  I have heard and seen a lot of people saying things like “I couldn’t eat intuitively because I wouldn’t be able to stop eating – I’d eat pizza and cookies all day long and get so fat!”.  This is when I know that these people do not understand the concept of intuitive eating.  The combination of the principles listed above mean that you respect your body and make food choices based on a number of things; not just eating all of your favourite foods constantly without any regard for anything else – in fact, if you did eat pizza and cookies all day long every day, you would find very quickly that this makes you feel awful and that would go against the principles of intuitive eating.

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It is also slightly different to mindful eating.  Mindful eating seems to be practiced a lot by people – which is great – but is used with the intention of eating less for weight loss, which goes against intuitive eating.  Instead, intuitive eating focuses more on conscious eating – in this way you actually focus on the food you are eating without distraction but without the intention of eating less for weight loss.  It allows you to get more satisfaction from food, meaning that you actually enjoy food rather than feel like you’re constantly fighting against it.

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Intuitive eating may sound a bit like fuzzy, airy-fairy rubbish and “listening to your body” is a bit of a buzz-saying at the moment.  But that’s because people aren’t aware of the actual concept of intuitive eating that I have described above.  It is extremely difficult to listen to your body, especially in this society and especially if you have spent a large proportion of your life dieting or worrying about body image.  It isn’t something you can do overnight and it takes time and care to become a true intuitive eater – it is something I am continuing to learn to do everyday.

Having a good relationship with food, your body and your mind is something I feel so passionately about, and is something I will be blogging about a lot more from now on!  If you have any particular questions or any other feedback, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

If you want to learn more about intuitive eating I strongly recommend the following resources:

Why Social Media is Ruining our Lives

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Now, you may think the title of this blog is a little dramatic, but to some extent it’s definitely true!  Don’t get me wrong, there are so many positives to social media like staying in touch with friends and family, connecting with people that you have things in common with, getting inspiration, education, plus foodie photos and networking.  However, there are many downsides and I’ve listed some below:

1.  We compare ourselves to others

Now, we all know this is a major problem.  And you can argue all you want that you don’t compare yourself to others but we all do it, even if it’s subconsciously.  Have you ever scrolled through instagram for 10 minutes only to come off feeling a little bit worse?  That’s because we compare ourselves to how other people look, eat, how successful their careers and lives are, the material things they have, their fitness regime.  Everything.  As a result we’re ruining our self-esteem and damaging our relationship with ourselves, our bodies, food and even other people.  Spend less time mindlessly scrolling and I guarantee you will feel a thousand times better when you focus solely on you and what you are doing and what makes you happy.

2. “Influencers”

One of my current pet peeves at the moment is the word “influencer”, especially a self-confessed “influencer” (more like self-obsessed).  Mostly famous for showing their bare-bum, be wary of which “influencers” you follow and what they are “influencing” you to do.  A lot of the time these people aren’t interested in your wellbeing; they’re interested in increasing their following and selling their precious guides.

3. Everyone’s an expert

Following on nicely from my last point is the fact that everyone thinks they are an expert.  Too many times I see bloggers/vloggers trying to be a personal trainer, nutritionist and lifestyle coach all in one.  Now, I know qualifications don’t count for everything but they do count for a hell of a lot.  To save on time, I’m going to talk specifically about nutrition – there are far too many people trying to give out nutrition advice and talk about topics that are out of their scope of knowledge/experience.  If you are not a registered nutritionist/dietitian you have no right to educate people about complex nutrition matters.  Nutrition is not an “eat like me, look like me” thing, and by dishing out nutrition advise without proper knowledge you could do some serious damage, mentally and physically.  I have far more respect for people who know that something is out of their depth and instead refer you on to someone who does know what they’re talking about.

4. Everyone is too concerned with followers

Everyone has a fitness account, a youtube channel, is posting foodie photos and is posing for a gym-selfie.  I get it, I really do.  Previously, my account was all about these things.  But now I just post what I want to post and if people follow me that’s cool and if they unfollow me, that’s cool too!  The problem now is that everyone wants to be “insta-famous” and instead of focusing on real-life relationships, the focus is on the number of people who look at our photos online everyday.  Think about how dumb that sounds for a second and then reevaluate why you post online.

5. We aren’t present

Probably my biggest problem with social media (and technology in general) is that it takes away from our presence in real life.  Social media isn’t real life.  It’s not and never will be.  You can tell me you’re aware of that, and that’s great.  But until you actually start spending less time on social media, you are still being sucked into this fake world for a disproportionate amount of time each day.  I see people everyday walking around with their head in their phone, not looking where they’re going, or out for food with friends and every single person is scrolling online instead of talking to each other.  There is nothing worse than talking to someone who is more concerned with their phone than what you have to say.  We are always trying to catch the perfect moment to post it on social media rather than enjoying it for what it is.  Spend less time on your phone and more time appreciating others and the world around you.

6. It is prioritised over everything

And last but by no means least, I hate how social media is prioritised over all else.   “Wait there let me just post this” “I need to post this on snapchat” “That has to be a tweet”.  Not everything you say and do has to be posted on social media.  Social media won’t help you improve at your job, make you a better student or a better friend: in fact it will probably do the complete opposite.  Stop prioritising posting/looking/being online and instead prioritise things that are important to you in real life.  If you worry too much about what’s happening on social media, there is a serious problem.

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Hopefully this blog has made you open your eyes a little, and you may think about spending a little less time on social media (and your phone in general!)  Remember there are SO many more important things to life (real life) so look up from your phone now and again!  And if that still hasn’t convinced you, just think how happy grandparents are – I am almost sure part of that is because they didn’t have the burden of having to live up to the expectations on social media and were more concerned with their own lives than everyone else’s!

Lou x

**This blog is not trying to throw shade on anyone and isn’t based on anyone in particular, but is a general trend I’ve noticed lately.  I completely understand that for some people, social media is genuinely their job and livelihood but for the vast majority of us, it is just an extra, a hobby.**

How to deal with exam stress

Exam season is upon us again, and it can often be one of the most stressful times of the year.  So I thought I’d share some of my favourite tips for beating the exam stress and setting yourself up for exam success!

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1. Start early

Now I know that starting revision early is always my intention when it comes to exams, although they do always seem to creep up on me!  But I promise if you start revising in plenty of time you will feel a lot less stressed and more prepared to smash those exams! It also prevents you having to cram a couple of days before which is not only the worst way to remember things, but will also leave you stressed right before your exam.

2. Organise yourself

Sometimes it can be really useful to create a revision timetable or at the very least make sure you are aware of exactly what date/time your exams are, the structure of your exams and their length.  You can then help yourself by organising the modules/topics you need to cover in your revision so you won’t end up sitting down everyday not knowing where to start!

3. Find the best way of revising for you

When it comes to revision (like most things), there is no “best way” to revise.  Everyone learns and remembers things in different ways so it’s important to find a way of studying that works for you.  For me, I prefer writing things out, making little revision cards and creating big posters of important topics – everyone is different so just find a revision style that suits you that will help things stick in your brain!  This also includes finding a location that is a good environment for you to revise in – I often take my revision to the library/coffee shops for a change of scenery!

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4. Revise in a group

Following on from my last point, something you may find useful is to revise with other people.  Whether it’s one-on-one or in a group with course mates, it can be great to come up with new ideas to revise.  Talking through the content of your exams and things that you are unsure of can often help clarify things and help you remember them for the exam.

5. Take regular breaks

When it comes to revision it’s so important to utilise your time wisely.  Sitting down and telling yourself that you are going to revise for 2 hours straight will 9 out of 10 times lead to you getting bored every 15 minutes and ending up getting distracted.  Personally, I use the 20/10 rule.  I work solidly for 20 minutes, and then I have a 10 minute break to stretch my legs/have a snack/check social media etc.  That way I find that I can make the most out of my time and don’t waste it procrastinating!  Also, I highly recommend standing up and preferably getting some fresh air during your breaks – this will stop you getting stiff and bored of sitting in the same position and hopefully you’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed and focused!

6. Stay active

During exam season, our activity levels often plummet because all we can focus on is work work work.  However, staying active is key to keeping your body and mind healthy during this stressful period.  For me, I love getting up early for a gym session as it boosts my energy and gets my day off to a productive start.  However, you may find it better to exercise in the middle of the day to break up revision or in the evening to destress after sitting at your desk all day.

Having said that, you don’t always have to do a workout to keep active – just make sure you stand regularly and take frequent walks throughout the day to keep yourself moving.  And don’t beat yourself up for not doing exercise – exam time is stressful enough without putting that extra pressure on yourself.

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7. Eat well

It is so easy to take a step back from our healthy habits whilst studying for exams – stress can make us under- or over- eat and we often use eating as a way of curing our boredom!  My advice is to keep healthy snacks to hand whilst revising and stick to regular mealtimes to keep your concentration and energy levels high so you’ll be less likely to over or under eat!

8. Get plenty of sleep

This is such an important tip and one that is often neglected! Getting enough sleep can ensure that you are productive with revision and actually take in what you’ve learnt!  Less sleep = low energy = less concentration = less productivity = more stress = unhappy!  Make sure you don’t revise too late into the night and take at least an hour before bed to wind down from revision and take your mind off it – quality sleep is just as important as the quantity of your sleep!

9. Take time for yourself

I cannot stress enough how important it is to look after your body and mind during exams to keep your stress levels as low as possible.  Taking time for yourself just means doing an activity that is not to do with studying and ensures that you keep doing enjoyable things outside of revision.  This could be doing some exercise, going out for lunch with a friend or even something as simple as having a long conversation on the phone, taking the time to cook a nice meal, going for a walk, or listening to music/podcast or catching up with TV (my personal favourites are to procrasti-bake, go for walks or coffee dates with my boyfriend!). Switching off and looking after yourself is so important and will ensure that you stay motivated to keep going!

And lastly..

Relax. Exams are an important part of any qualification or career but they are not the be all and end all.  We all have good and bad exams and strengths and weaknesses when it comes to education.  Don’t compare yourself to others and stay in your lane – work hard but don’t become demoralised if things don’t go your way.  Brush each exam under the carpet and move on to the next.

Your worth as a person is not defined by exam success or failure.

I really hope these tips help, and best of luck!

Lou x

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

Welcome to Loutritious

Hey Everyone!

So, as you may have noticed, my blog and social media sites have had a bit of a revamp and have changed from Lou’s Lean Lifestyle to Loutritious.  I just thought I’d write a little blog post explaining how this has come about and why I’ve decided to have a little change-up!

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As you know, this blog used to be called Lou’s Lean Lifestyle.  I started it in January 2015 and whilst at the time it seemed like a great name, I feel like a lot has changed since then.

I first starting getting into health & fitness in April 2014, with me just wanting to “lose weight” and get a little healthier – which I certainly did! I did become somewhat very “lean” and so the name Lou’s Lean Lifestyle seemed appropriate when it first came about.  However, since then a lot of things have happened which have made me want to change this.

Starting my degree in Nutrition and taking up rowing in September 2015 were the first things.   The final thing for me was watching my dear Grampy suffering with Cancer and sadly passing away earlier this year.

Learning more and more everyday through my degree, it is so clear that Nutrition is so much more than just a means of “losing weight”, “getting lean” or anything else aesthetic-related.  It’s about health, protecting the body from disease & illness, eating for performance and just generally getting the most out of your life by making yourself feel amazing with the food you eat.  It’s also about having a balanced approach and enjoying what you eat, and realising that life is all about experience and happiness, which food can add to.

When you look up the word “lean” in a thesaurus, the other words it is associated with are things like “gaunt”, “wasted”, “emaciated”, “sparse”, “unfruitful” – these are not words that I want myself or this blog to be associated with, and are not words which represent me, my lifestyle or my outlook on health and fitness.

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So, what is Loutritious all about?  

I want it to be an outlet where I can help you to understand how to fuel your body with the best foods it needs to work & feel optimal, both physically and mentally.

I want you to learn how to use fitness & sport as a way to not only achieve a healthy body but also to push yourselves and achieve performance goals that you thought you never could.

I want to help you find the best balance in your lifestyle; from juggling all the different aspects of your life and managing your time, to helping you feel empowered and confident in your own skin.

But most importantly, I want to inspire you to live life at your happiest with a good relationship with food, fitness, your body and your mind.  I want to make you see that there is no one size fits all when it comes to health and nutrition, but that you can find what works for you – and I’d like to help you do that!

So without further ado; welcome to Loutritious!

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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