July 2015

Essentially the Essentials

Eat clean, train dirty has become my motto. Walk in, crawl out of the gym. Sore today, strong tomorrow. It’s all about feeling proud of your workout, looking and feeling it too. Once you’ve achieved those goals or gains, I’m sure many of you will agree about how addictive it becomes.

Essentially, a few times have become my essentials. So let’s break it down.Food for thought first.

Oatmeal is my daily morning fuel during the week. I say this on so many occasions, but, for me, porridge by itself just doesn’t taste nice. That’s why I make variants of it. The taste is a hundred times better and the number of different possibilities you can make with oatmeal is endless. Oatmeal by itself is fuel. A variant of oatmeal, now that is superfuel!

A recent oatmeal I made, which I’m currently obsessing over, is a chocshot drizzled oatmeal with sliced bananas and chopped dates. I can’t tell you how much that just hit the sweet spot. Whilst I don’t really have a meal plan so to speak, I eat oatmeal during the week because I have an office job and I’ve found that most other breakfasts don’t fuel me up and keep me full for long. That’s important for me because it otherwise impacts my concentration levels.

As a nut butter fiend, oatmeal with nut butter is a must. This was with an Almond Butter Protein Bounce ball, shredded coconut and chia seeds. (If you want ideas on lunch, I also post some of my lunch fuel on instagram.)

A photo posted by Mara V-H (@mara_clickthat) on Jun 12, 2015 at 12:02am PDT
Staying hydrated throughout the day is a must. It has massively helped me to combat my issues with fatigue and as I said before, helps me to eat less (I realise I sound like a gorger, don’t worry I’m not!). For the days when I’m struggling with my water intake, using an electrolyte tab like Nuun is really useful. Or, on these hotter days, fruit-infused water. I especially love strawberry, watermelon and mint infused water. It’s so refreshing.

On another note, to check whether you are hydrated, check your wee. As weird as it sounds, your wee tells you a lot. If it is a dark colour, you are dehydrated; drink up! If it is a pale colour, you are hydrated; you’re on the right path.

My preworkout fuel is quite often the form of a cup of coffee. I am a big fan of coffee, and particularly before a run I love to drink a filtered coffee or an espresso. The caffeine from the coffee is usually enough to give me be a boost. I don’t normally eat anything for a preworkout because I find it makes me feel very sluggish. If anything, a banana or a sliced apple slathered in peanut butter will fuel me up. Mmmm, just thinking about it….

If you do want to get a preworkout, ETB Fitness has a clean supplement range, including pre workout supplements which they pride themselves on being some of the cleanest supplement range out on the market.

During my workouts, I use amino acids, as they help to boost workout intensity and they also act as a source of fuel. As horrible as they may smell, they thankfully are tasteless. I mix this up with water and Robinson’s orange concentrate juice.

Post workout fuel is what I look forward to the most. Most of the time, it is usually Optimum Nutrition’s Chocolate Whey Protein. Being me, there’s no way, that I could not mention the protein shaker as my essential to mix the protein shake in. Depending on your needs, you could go for the Umoro, Core 150, or Promixxer as a few of my faves. There are days when I take other protein alternatives. In this hot weather, WheyHey’s protein ice-cream is a favourite choice of mine. It tastes and looks like other ice cream, but is just so much more beneficial. Mmmmm, definitely the whey to go…

I love to bake protein goodies, and if I’ve baked something before then I may munch on that. Chocolate protein cookies are great, especially if you then crumble one onto your oatmeal for breakfast. But, I do like banana, walnut, chocolate bread with a glass of almond milk (Both recipes on my instagram).

But the best day for post workout fuel? Hands down, it has definitely got to be the weekend. Coming back from a workout, I love to whip up a big post-workout breakfast. Sometimes it might be eggs, sometimes it might be protein pancakes. I love both, so it really depends on what ingredients I have on hand that day. The photo below is oat protein pancakes with a whopping amount of greek yoghurt and a dollop of peanut butter. Naturally black coffee served on the side for moi!

That’s the sort of food (and drink) fuelling me throughout the day. 

Music fuels my workouts just as much as food does. I like to be phone-free during my workouts, so I use my Sony Walkman. It holds a lot of music content, and is also wireless. The sort of music really does range. I’m talking about old-school R&B (Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious for leg day or Survivor during a HIT session anyone?), hip hop (De La Soul’s Me, Myself & I on a steady run) to more contemporary music. You know, pop shtuff like Swifty; sue me, but Bad Blood is all right, Drake, Eminem, Rudimental, David Guetta….

Power ballads get me through a workout like no other music can. Listening to Whitney Houston power on is the best motivation for me, especially while I’m running.

To keep me motivated, I strongly believe in mixing up your workouts. Doing different workouts as much as possible not only makes your workouts more enjoyable but also ensures your body isn’t getting used to the same exercises. This means that your body won’t adapt to them and makes it a little bit easier in making progress. HIIT sessions are my favourite type of workouts and I love doing different workouts around them. One day I might be doing burpees and wall ball, another day I may be doing box jumps and pullups to failure, another day I may be doing pilates. 

For my HIIT sessions, I’ve come to love what I call My Little Black Book. I bought this at the BodyPower Expo this year and I really like it. My phone’s memory was getting drowned in my notes of workouts and I was even confusing myself on what I meant half the time. In this book, Log It or Lose It, I note down all my favourite wods. Now by favourite, I mean the ones that have really pushed me, that have left me crawling out of the gym. I highly recommend buying a book like this, especially if you like to be phone-free during a gym session. It’s compact and each page has a section to include things like reps and weight you used, as well as a section for comments.

To end a workout, my final essential is stretching or foam rolling.

Stretching for about 10 minutes before and after a workout is vital. It seriously helps with the soreness that comes with DOMS. After a run, foam rolling is my favourite thing to do as this by far helps with reducing muscle soreness and massages them. It does hurt, but your legs and back will thank you afterwards. After my last half marathon, plenty of foam rolling and stretching over the course of the few days stopped me from feeling stiff. 

Those are essentially my fitness and nutritional essentials. What are your essentials? I love to know how others workout and what you use. Drop a comment below or tweet me. 

Mara xxx

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