Overcome Mum Guilt so you can get fit!

Firstly, you’re an INCREDIBLE mother. You give everything to your children.

Secondly, you’re NOT ALONE. Every mother goes through what you’re going through.

Thirdly, you’re WORTHY of love, passion and individuality!

So how do you reclaim your identity post-baby?

How do you make time for yourself without feeling the endless mum-guilt?

Truth is, you can’t.

Things will never be like how they were.

But what’s incredible is, you can make a NEW identity.

You get to decide who you’re going to be today, tomorrow and in the future.

You get to decide who you’ll be for yourself and your children as they watch and learn and copy you for the rest of their life.

Before the 5 Guidelines you must first understand what the mum-guilt feeling means. The definition of guilt is the fact of having committed an offence or crime. But the offence here is no crime committed, feeling guilt is feeling a violation of your own standards. And if you hold yourself to unreachably high standards, that guilt will have its grip on you always. So? Reset your standards to what’s achievable.

Here are our simple but effective guidelines to rebuilding your identity:

  1. Schedule a 30-60 minute Home/Gym Workout 3-6 days per week. 
  • when? 11am after feed and during baby’s nap
  • how? few DB’s and a mat in the garden
  • what?

    Day 1

    w/u: Tabata 20s/20s Side Shuffles over Step

    A1: Body Weight Squat x15

    A2: DB Single Arm Deadlift & Press x15ea

    A3: Postpartum Elbow-Leaning Feet Taps x15

    A4: DB Single Arm Bent Row x15ea

    Day 2

    w/u: Tabata 30s/30s Star Jumps x3min

    A1: DB Deadlift x15

    A2: Push Ups on Knees x15

    A3: Plank Knees-to-toes x15

    A4: DB Bent Row x15

    Day 3

    w/u: Walk/Jog around garden/ street 3-5min

    A1: Banded Hip Thrust x15

    A2: Tricep Dips x15

    A3: Static Lunge & Powerband Row x15ea

    A4: Dish Hold w/ Shin Taps x60s

2. Find a long-term babysitter a.k.a. ‘Deso Daycare’

  • Find a family member or hire somebody you can trust to have the kids and slowly build them comfortable to an overnight stay. Having a full unbroken nights’ sleep will be one of the best things you could ever do for yourself (..and everyone around you!)
  • If family or hiring someone isn’t a possibility, plan a girls’ night and leave the partner in charge.. I bet you let him out with the boys far more often than it’s reciprocated.
  • Build strong friendships with other mums and set a ‘Deso Babysitter’ whom take the kids while the other mummas go out! You take it in turns to be the designated babysitter therefore everybody wins. Plus kids love sleep overs!
  • Keep your mums in a facebook group community, and plan fun activities ahead of time so everyone can plan sitters. Something as little as Jacob’s Ladder and breaky on Sunday morning can be a godsend for your mental AND physical health.

3. Schedule a non-negotiable Monthly Date Night 

  • when? First Friday of every month, EVERY month
  • how? find a family member, friend or hire somebody you can trust to have the kids OVERNIGHT (yay sleep over kids!!)
  • what? plan ahead a different restaurant / activity / location for each date. Keep it different!

4. Switch indoor shopping mall coffee dates for outdoor walks 

  • when? anytime you catch up with a girlfriend for coffee, ditch the shopping centre food court and take your coffee on the sand with the sea! (it’s save you $$ from avoiding shopping centres too)
  • how? pop it in your diary and get yourself a comfy Baby Carrier for handsfree if with infant
  • what? walk on the beach, around the park, by the river, somewhere outdoor with fresh greenery (and dogs if you like them! dog beaches are always happy zones)

5. Find a spiritual way to overcome your Mum-Guilt & Reconnect with your soul

  • when? Set aside a few ‘Mindset Minutes’ as you wake up and before you go to bed to realign your mind. Good Mental health requires strong self-awareness and focus. Find the good and the goal in YOUR life you can focus on.
  • how? In bed after waking / before sleeping, or as baby naps. In a (handwritten) journal write Gratitudes, goals, ideas. Give Meditation apps a go, try Yoga, Pilates, get a Life Coach like www.AshHartree.com to help you work through your challenges and find clarity.
  • what? Daily Jot-Journal, regular Meditation/ Yoga/ Pilates. Work on your Ying instead of your Yang.

If you would like to make a real lifestyle change email us at IzzyBeeston@AmbitiousBodies.com.au

How to thrive in Isolation Living

The most important thing for anyone to do right now is LOOK AFTER THEIR HEALTH.

The most important thing for every child right now is their MUM TO NOT BE STRESSED OUT.

The person who is going to nurture them, feed them and enable them, needs to be calm, focused and energised. The mum needs to be strong, resilient and patient.

But you cannot do that if you are stressed, uncertain and just ‘waiting to see what happens’.

So are you going to be the leader and hold your family and business together?

Or are you going to crumble, ‘wait for the axe to fall’ and spend the next 6-12 months drowning in failed goals and screaming kids?

Here’s our Mums’ 10 simple guidelines to keeping sane in Isolation Living.

  1. DON’T TRY TO BE YOU KIDS’ TEACHER
    Relieve this mum-guilt and pressure. You CANNOT expect to teacher your children 9-3 as well as do your full time job from home. The schools are working hard to put their learning online, and these techno-kids will work it out, it’s temporary and they’ll be OKAY. Truth is they will get so much value from spending an hour with you reading to them. You are their role model. You need to be the best version of you in order to help them.
  1. Spend QUALITY time with the family.
    Teach your children that there’s ‘kids time’ and ‘mummy’s time’. Teach your children leadership and respect by setting down House Rules of when its playtime and when it’s work time. You are a GREAT mum and it is okay for you to do so. Playtime with mummy will become more special too.
  2. USE GOOGLE CALENDAR. I repeat, use Google calendar. Allocate times to tasks.
    Map out important tasks of your day and treat this schedule with respect. Set aside time to:
    *answer emails/calls,
    *do admin,
    *exercise,
    *eat (yes i’m serious!! schedule food breaks!!)
    *read to kids,
    *ME-TIME (could be exercise or read book) etc.
    Or it’ll hit kids’ bath time and you’ll have done NOTHING for yourself. Another day will be lost to the kids’ mayhem.
  3. LOOK THE PART or “Dress for the job you want not job you have”
    To ‘GET SH*T DONE’ you need to dress for it. DO NOT stay in your PJ’s til noon. Immediately chuck on your work or work-out gear, do your hair and prep yourself as if it were a normal day at the office. To be organised you need to feel and look organised!
  1. Exercise outdoors for 30mins minimum daily. Listen to UPLIFTING music.
    This can be a brisk walk on awakening or a 30min Weights Circuit before/after your [scheduled] lunch break. Exercising first thing in morning will set you up for a MORE productive day and actually induce MORE ENERGY! Plus Vitamin D is crucial for a strong immune system and happiness! (brain chemicals). This extra time at home can be PERFECT time to focus on yourself. Good tunes are a must. Below is our free Phase 1 Home Workout.

    Day 1

    w/u: Tabata 20s/20s Side Shuffles over Step

    A1: Body Weight Squat x15

    A2: DB Deadlift & Press x15ea

    A3: Postpartum Laying Leg Raises x15

    A4: DB Single Arm Bent Row x15ea

    Day 2

    w/u: Tabata 30s/30s Star Jumps

    A1: DB Deadlift x15

    A2: Push Ups on Knees x15

    A3: Plank Knees-to-toes x15

    A4: DB Bent Row x15

    Day 3

    w/u: Walk/Jog around garden / street 3-5min

    A1: Banded Hip Thrust x15

    A2: Tricep Dips x15

    A3: Static Lunge & Powerband Row x15ea

    A4: Dish Hold w/ Shin Taps x60s

     

     

  2. ZOOM call with friends or Online Coach.
    At times like these you need to be held accountable for you and your family’s health, and that means staying on top of life’s stresses. Having a quality Fitness Coach or group of friends will help you stay connected and mindful, and sharing experiences can be therapeutic.
  1. GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA.
    Stop getting stuck in the social media vortex. Listen to accredited Doctors and http://ato.gov.au for correct legal communications regarding Covid-19. There is too much negative soul-sucking media that won’t help lift your mood. Whilst social media fitness videos can be ‘motivating’ having a custom training plan will hold you accountable and in routine. You need your purpose.
  2. DON’T hoard chocolate bars and processed snacks.
    This isn’t an apocalypse. Don’t fill your cupboard with sugar to survive 5 years on the shelf. Stock up on tinned chickpeas, tuna tins, rice. Fill the freezer with veggie bags. Bulk-buy and cook up lots of 2kg’s of meat or tofu and ziplock bag the cooked protein in the freezer for later use.
  3. DON’T BUY stupid stuff with your Govt. cash and frozen mortgage.
    Whilst barbells, dumbells, and resistance bands and excellent toys for isolation, waist-slimmers and Celebrity Slim-Fast shakes are gimmicks. Whilst you have excess cash (eg. Stimulus package, frozen mortgages and lack of social outings – booze!) and an abundance of time (no commute to work, no kids’ school / activities), invest in your health and come out of this pandemic better than you went in it.
  4. ENJOY DOING NOTHING. Get more sleep. Light candles, listen to calming tunes.
    The whole family can benefit from a little longer sleep in. Use this downtime to truly recharge the batteries. Not driving to work / school / gym / appt / after school sports will give you SO much more time.. use it! Organise that ancient box in the loft, throw out old clothes or learn a second language!

Would you stand in your kitchen burning on fire and say “I’ll just wait and see what happens” and watch it get worse, or would you be the saviour of your household and catch that fire before it does real damage?…

Be the leader, the saviour and the rock your family needs you to be during COVID-19 Isolation Living. Be the fun, energetic and strong mumma you need you to be. Email us now at IzzyBeeston@AmbitiousBodies.com.au and we’ll help you get started!

The 1 True Reason You Can’t Lose Weight

THE 1 TRUE REASON

YOU CAN’T LOSE WEIGHT,

NOR KEEP IT OFF?

Cortisol

..aka

Stress

What causes stress?

* lack of sleep * financial pressure * poor self image * poor nutrition
* work * smoking / alcohol * family / partner issues * lack of ‘switching off’ / relax
*over-training * under-eating * illness / injury * bullying & social media

When we’re stressed we skip meals, don’t sleep, under/over-eat, under/over-train, develop mood disorders and our insulin sores ..and the body responds in fat-gain. It’s now in ‘survival mode’ prepared to survive a drought of food and danger.

When you’re stressed, your body releases a low-grade adrenaline called Cortisol. And how often are you stressed? Too often, if not always!

v

In healthy doses, stress hormones ie. cortisol, are crucial for building muscle mass and mobilising stored body fat back to the bloodstream to be burnt off.

v

However chronically elevated stress levels reap havoc on our bodies, ie:

v

* Poor Nitrogen Balance: muscle growth V muscle loss.

(aka you can’t build muscle if you’re stressed)

v

* Poor Thyroid Function: low thyroid levels cause lower Basal Metabolic Rate.

(aka you can’t burn fat if you’re stressed)

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* Poor Mental Health ie. low resilience, depression and addiction: stress affects the body’s development of neurotransmitters, which dictate our mood, hence our actions.

(aka you can’t feel happy when you’re stressed)

 

So how exactly does chronic stress create damage aka. fat-gain?

v

Through our Blood Sugar Balance: Our blood sugar is balanced by 2 hormones,

1) Insulin (moves glucose out of blood into cells) and

2) Glucagon (draws glucose out of cells into blood as necessary).

Carbs spike insulin (dropping glucagon), whilst dietary fats lift glucagon (dropping insulin).

v
If cortisol gets elevated, so does our blood glucose
. When blood sugar rises we have an ‘energy high’, and the quicker it gets spiked (eg. sugar and refined carbs like bread), the quicker it drops ‘energy crash’.

v
When blood glucose rises our body releases insulin to bring blood glucose levels back down. Put simple:

v

Cortisol and Insulin cannot be in the bloodstream at the same time:

v

1. We feel stressed = cortisol rises

2. Cortisol then spikes our blood glucose

3. Our body then craves sugar to quickly release insulin, so it can bring blood glucose levels back down.

4. We now feel momentarily happy or eased.

Okay cool then what happens?

5. Insulin stores glucose first in the a) Muscle, then b) Liver, then c) FAT CELL!!!

v

Excessive insulin spiking (eg. diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates) leads to poor insulin sensitivity.

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Poor insulin sensitivity and blood sugar balance directly result in fat-gain, fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, poor mood, sweet cravings, headaches, nervousness & anxiety.

v

You now feel down, have gained body fat AND keep craving carbs more and more!!

 

Thats horrid! and how does stress affect our mood?

Neurotransmitters. These are our brain chemicals, they depict our brain function and mood, hence our decision making, hence our actions!


You have a) Calming brain chemicals and b) Excitatory brain chemicals.

Serotonin is our ‘happy’ calming brain chemical.

    • It is essential to fat-loss and plays a huge role mental health, particularly depression.
    • Low serotonin > negatively affects our mood & enjoyment > make bad food choices and poor life decisions.
    • Low serotonin > disrupts our sleep hormones, particularly melatonin > poor sleep.
    • Poor sleep > leptin levels decrease > leptin keeps up full, so now we’re never feeling full or satisfied
    • Poor sleep > raises ghrelin > ghrelin is our hunger hormone, so now we’re feeling hungry all the time.

Dopamine is our ‘brain speed’, concentration & coordination (excitatory) brain chemical.

    • It is essential to our cognitive function, alertness, concentration, brain speed, mind to body connection, controlling the movements our bodies make, and our emotional response.
    • Dopamine is raised by high quality meats and nuts, and should be the first thing you put in your mouth in the morning.
    • Dopamine is raised by coffee. However limit your daily intake, as too much caffeine = too much dopamine = too little serotonin

Stress has now impacted our mood, sleep and hunger levels.. DISASTER!!

Okay so what is the damn solution to lowering stress??

I feel you! it’s SO hard. We live in a world always rushing, trying to make money to survive the forever rising cost of living, and forever rising standard or ‘beauty’.

But at what cost do you sell your happiness? Do you say ‘yes’ to overtime and extra files when you should say no? Do you skip lunch to keep working? Do you even see the sunlight during your 8-10 hour work day?

These are all decisions you make… and can un-make.

How to relieve stress at work:

* Daily to-do list 3 tasks MAX * Say NO to tasks you know should * Take lunch break OUTSIDE
* Pre-prep / buy lunchbox meals * Do ONE task at a time * Delete social media off phone
* avoid workplace gossip * sit near / spend time in fresh air & sunlight * reach out & ask for help

How to relieve stress outside work:

* breathing techniques * meditation * quality (unbroken) sleep * Yoga
* Slow walks * Reading * Guided meditation apps eg. HeadSpace * Massage
* Stretching * Money-manage * Time-manage (pre-planning!) * Holidays / fun!
* Communication * Write a journal * Do MORE of what makes you happy * Care a pet
* quality family time * date night * Write & complete ‘Job List’ * comedy show / films
* play sport * workout * dance, sing, write, play! * bath & candles

So there you have it. Stress is the 1 True Reason you can’t lose fat, nor keep it off.

If you can lower your stress levels, you will gain the ability to improve your body fat composition, mood, productivity, sleep health and overall quality of life!

 

 

For Fitness Coaching and info on our Fitness Retreats contact IzzyBeeston@AmbitiousBodies.com.au

Stress is Good for you

Stress is Good for you.

Stress is that fight or flight feeling in your stomach when you approach an obstacle. It’s that sudden rush of adrenaline that burns like a painful flow of poison leaking down your chest. 

How the hell is this good for me? It stops you from making life-threatening decisions like jamming your breaks on before you hit another car, throwing your arm out to save your head hitting the ground, and running to your child’s side like a bull seeing red when you hear them scream.

Though physically painful, it is essential in keeping us safe; teaching us what not to do; and fuelling us to pull an all-nighter to finish that Uni assignment due. Without stress, these motivators would not exist. 

Without stress we become careless with our actions and lazy with our duties. When we do stress we get shit done, but when we over-stress we complicate and get nothing done except for create new stresses. So stress -like any other factor in our lives- is unhealthy in excess and needs to be balanced.  

How the hell am I supposed to balance stress? To control our stress levels we simply have to choose what we stress about, and commit daily attention to our mental health.

You always have a choice. Though you do not always choose what happens to you, it is always your choice in how you interpret the event, and how you respond. These decisions will come down to your values and perspective. If you are stressing about everything it’s because you don’t know, or haven’t aligned with, your own values, therefore you haven’t grasped perspective of what is and what isn’t worth being stressed over. 

Values are the things in life we choose to care about. For example you may value family, fun with friends, honesty, financial security, health, fitness, career enjoyment etc. These are the things you must exclusively choose to stress about. They are all values in which you have ability to control, for instance valuing family means spending time with them; valuing financial security means committing to your job; valuing health means eating good foods and getting enough sleep etc. These are situations in which stress is a healthy motivator in ensuring us to complete the necessary duties to stay true to these values. 

Values out of our control will cause excessive and uncontrollable stress. For example if you value being the prettiest girl in your friendship group; making the most money amongst your colleagues; having everybody you meet like you; or having perfectly clean, organised, polite children, the truth is you will always find yourself stressed. You will never control your friends’ beauty; you will never control your colleagues’ work ethics; you will never control how people feel about you; and you will never control your children’s actions – not matter how hard you try. 

In biological terms when we stress our bodies release cortisol: a low-grade adrenaline hormone. It controls the fight or flight feeling in our gut, and is also a blood glucose immobilising hormone. Cortisol can be high for numerous reasons such as genetics, body-type and lifestyle habits (eg. malnutrition, external stress, over-training, under-eating, acute stress (ongoing minor problems), lack of sleep, and lack of ‘switching off’ / relaxing. Lifestyle habits are the things within our control, hence why it’s so important you pay attention to your mental health on the daily ensuring you are minimising these stresses. 

When cortisol is high we don’t sleep well, skip eating and later ‘pig-out’, then insulin soars and the body responds in fat gain (think about when you feel ‘puffy’ after lack of sleep and high stress). So even though you feel as if you’re barely eating, your waist keeps slowly swelling over your work pants. So what do you do? You eat less, drink more coffee, do more cardio, start smoking etc. anything you can in effort to lose weight and keep surviving. You’re now living off adrenaline and snap or stress over every minor hiccup in your day. Does this sound like you? 

To break it down, when cortisol is elevated our blood glucose is also elevated, meaning the:

    1. blood caramelises (think of an energy high after a really sugary snack/ drink), then;
    2. insulin must be released to bring the blood glucose levels back down;
    3. insulin then stores the glucose in the muscle. Once full;
    4. insulin then stores glucose in the liver. Once full;
    5. insulin then stores glucose in the fat cell;
    6. blood glucose levels are then somewhat returned, but now you no longer have energy and feel an ‘energy crash’ or ‘come down’
    7. So then what? You eat more fast food / drink more coffee / have another cigarette. And you’re back to number 1 not long after.

As you can see, stress has a great impact on your physical health as well as mental health. So it is important to keep stress levels low by letting go of the small, insignificant daily obstacles.

Learn to let go of stresses outside of your control, and care less about things outside of your values. 

How the hell am I supposed to just let go? For you to move forward you must make two lists: one of which indicates all of your current stresses (eg. kids’ clothes all over the floor, washing up not being done, hubby didn’t put bins out, hubby and self left home in an unresolved argument), and a second list of all your values. Based off your list of values you may come to the realisation that majority of your daily stresses are completely insignificant to your values. For instance, those kids’ clothes on the floor and the washing up not been done are obstacles not worth stressing over, and should simply be a problems we choose to solve or not solve. To not stress, does not mean to not care about or take action to, it simply means to take out the painful emotion linked to the problem needing to be solved. Put the clothes away or ask the children to, do the washing up or ask another family member to, that’s it, move on. No emotion necessary. No elevated stress levels. 

Pain and suffering is a necessary part of problem solving. You will always have problems, big or small, significant or insignificant. Life is simply an accumulation of problem solving after problem solving. And for this exact reason we must selectively choose problems worth or not worth suffering for. If we value our relationship with our partner, pain is a necessary emotion to help resolve the stress made from leaving for work in an unresolved argument. The pain of stress here is going to be the motivator that gets you really thinking about the language you used and how it may have hurt him, how you plan to discuss the problem and move forward together as a loving couple. Pain here is helpful, and the stress is in your control. 

Though easy said, it is not mentally easy to remove stress and emotion from something out of your control, such as losing a loved one. Having someone close to you pass or leave is horrifically painful for anyone. There isn’t always a “what can I learn from this?” light bulb moment, it can be just plain horrific. But it’s also a big part of life, every human being at some point will lose someone or something meaning the world to them. So again, pain and suffering here needs balance. There is time to be spent with tears and mourning your loved one, time to be spent celebrating their presence, and time to be spent moving forward and living your future to the fullest. Taking responsibility of the problems that arise in your life is the first step to moving forward.

Being at fault and taking responsibility are two highly separate things. You can be at fault and not take responsibility, just as you can take responsibility and not be at fault. Losing a loved one, being made redundant or having a car accident may not be your fault at all, but you are responsible for the way in which you chose to respond. This is your power, this is where you take control of the situation. 

Do not rob yourself from the power of responsibility by forcing the blame on others. By choosing to take responsibility for all that occurs in your life, you are gaining more power over the things that happen to you. In the event of losing a loved one you are not at fault, but you are responsible for caring and supporting your children, managing the bills/ life insurance and doing your part in keeping the family together. In this instance this is how you would problem solve. 

Your stress is in only your control. The bottom line here is that you will always have problems and stresses in your life, but it is within your control what you chose to value, what is worthing suffering for, and whether the problems can or can’t be solved, you keep moving forward. Stress is good for you in the right doses, so channel that energy correctly to get the problems solved.

By now you should have a better understanding of your own values, and a better perspective of the recurring problems that arise in your daily life. You should have a better understanding of obstacles worth stressing over, and obstacles that simply need to be solved. So next time you face a hiccup:

1. Is this really a problem? YES/NO

2. Can I personally solve it? YES/NO
3. Is it worth stressing over? YES/NO
4. What is my plan of action? ______________

I would love to hear from you! Has this column helped you? Do you have any questions? Please do share your comments and concerns…

 

 

 

 

Credits of inspiration to Wayne Dyer, Hattie Boydle and Mark Manson’s book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#*k”

How macro tracking and meal prep will change your life

It’s a big debate by many leading fitness professionals. Which is better?

  1. Give people a set meal plan and tell them to learn about food in finer detail. Or,
  2. Give people set ‘macros’ and say they can eat what they like within those boundaries ‘If It Fits Your Macros’

My answer is, you need both. You need to be aware of what it is you’re chomping and why your body needs it, but also have the freedom to have minor slip ups and magically tailor them into your macros to minimise damage to goals and health. The first step to better understanding nutrition and specifically macros, is to define your personal goal. For example, I personally didn’t start caring about what I ate until I was unhappy with my body. As soon as I created a goal (initially to lose weight), it led me to really want to learn about nutrition. If you’re wanting to transform your body, exercise alone is not going to cut it. It is the fuel we feed ourselves that makes up 70% of the required effort to make change.

So if you’re now in this position of wanting better from your health and your physique, then this is what I suggest you to do:

  1. Seek a certified fitness professional (shameless promotion – Ambitious Bodies) to have your measurements recorded:
    1. Weight, age, gender, body fat %, girth cm, body type – Ectomorph/ Mesomorph / Endomorph
    2. Your health and exercise history (current/past illnesses, daily activity level, job type, exercise schedule etc.)
    3. and most obviously your fitness goals! (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timed)
  2. Based off this information you’re going to need help with nutrition to ensure your goals are met:
    1. Recommended calories, macronutrients and micronutrients
    2. Breakdown of what each macros and micros’ role is, within the body
    3. Suggested meals you should be eating to obtain these nutrients
    4. Macro-friendly recipes to boost flavour, give variety and make things more interesting!

So, set meal plans or set macros? Wouldn’t it be nice to eat an omelette one morning, then a cheeky bit of Nutella on toast the next, without compromising your goals? Of course the omelette is the better choice, but if you had the knowledge and ability to adjust your macros over the day to account for the Nutella, wouldn’t you do it?

In the past when I was given a set meal plan, I’d been less interested and more resistant to complying. I didn’t like to be told exactly what to eat, and therefore I felt if I wasn’t doing it 100%, why do it at all. My coach, and World Beauty Fitness & Fashion World Champion, Hattie Boydle, gives me personalised macros. With this more lenient approach to nutrition, I have completely transformed my physique, and managed to eat chocolate spread on toast right up to one week out from competing in the WBFF Bikini 2017. I’d see other girls with crazy diet rules, literally eating fish three times per day, and really struggling to function. Which of these methods is more enticing to you?

This comparison is no different for my experiences as a Personal Trainer. I see girls go on strict diets – like ’12 week transformations’- where they cut out pretty much everything but chicken and broccoli and struggle until they give in, or on completion rebound with fat-gain – sometimes even heavier than before they started! When you can begin to understand macro tracking, you are giving yourself freedom, control, and an amazing power over your body. You can learn to get your proteins, fats, carbohydrates etc. from an incredible variety of foods. No more boredom.

Right, so let’s talk about food!

Your body is going to benefit most from fresh, unprocessed (think plucked from the earth!) whole, organic, nutrient dense foods. That’s going to be vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, grains, legumes, and meat. The more a food is in its natural state, the more chance of it holding onto its nutrients (though some things are more beneficial cooked). When buying foods from the supermarket you want be able to understand the ingredients listed on the label. If it’s got a million scientific words you can’t pronounce, it is not the best choice. Though this is inevitable for some things, every effort you make towards keeping natural will improve your intake of nutrients.

But let’s be honest, in this day and age the ‘food’ available is limitless, it is processed, artificial, lower in nutrients and most commonly cheaper the further away from fresh and ‘organic’ it is. With its easy availability, cheap price and advertising plastered left right and centre, we fall into the trap of fast food. It is because of this reason we to need to learn to make the most of what’s unavoidable for the majority of the western population.

Let’s use this real life scenario: you’re out with friends and plan to get take-out, you’ve got the choice of McDonald’s, Subway or Zambrero’s. Would you know which to be the healthiest option? It’s true that none of these would ever be in a set meal plan, so let’s assume your diet goes out the window, you’ve got that “screw it, might as well eat crap all night” mentality, and its not looking good from here. On the other hand, if you had better knowledge of food detail and macros you’d know this is not the end of the world, and you can minimise the set back from choosing more wisely.

If you were going to base your choice off just calories, (McChicken burger 432 calories, Subway fillet 6” 379 calories, Zambrero’s Chicken Power bowl 466 calories), you may be misguided. A McDonald’s McChicken burger is going to give you heavily fried, highly processed meat and bread, and lettuce short of a rabbit’s dinner. Its macros also demonstrate the poor quality, of the three choices it is lowest in protein (19g) and highest in fat (22g) (and not good fat). Subway chicken fillet is a little better than McDonald’s but it is still going to give you to processed meat and carbs (bread, gluten!) but a larger variety of salads. Its macros show it’s slightly higher in protein (21g), and a lot lower in fat (13g). Then we have Zambrero’s Chicken Power bowl, where the meat is less processed, the carbs are natural (rice, gluten free!), and again a larger variety of salads than McDonald’s. Its macros prove the best choice, with a whopping 35g of protein, and fat below 12g.

So based off these simple food details and macros you should now be able to think which is going to give you a better option from the not-so-better options.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail: this is such a well known saying, because it is so true! The more you leave to guessing, the more short-handed you’re going to end up. Meal prep alongside your macros are going to work hand in hand for achieving the physique you’ve been dreaming of. Organisation is key! So here are my suggestions:

  1. Know your macros. Know what you’re going to need and let this be your go-to for making better food choices. To know your macros you’re going to need to do what I have recommended above, and then begin to measure out (weigh) your foods and complete in the app My Fitness Pal.
  2. Food shop – load up on unprocessed food first, usually found around the edge of your supermarket.
    1. Meat, eggs, fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, potatoes etc.
    2. Go to food that can’t be bought fresh – almond milk, rice milk, gluten free toast / cereal, spreads, rice, rice cakes, honey, protein powder *remember, this is a supplement not a staple food*
  3. Cook bulk – cook everything in bulk, and freeze what’s not needed immediately. This is a big time saver.
    1. Cook around 2kg of each meat at once. Cool and either store in zip-lock bags freezer friendly, or divide out into containers for your meals *remember, meat can shrink approx. 15% once cooked, so keep this in mind when weighing out serves*
    2. Use the fresh veggies first. Freezing fresh veggies for later use isn’t very beneficial, instead, use frozen veg packets for freezer-intended meals
    3. Use herbs! Spice up the flavour by adding fresh herbs to your cooking. Pink Himalayan salt & Pepper is a life saver
  4. Colour code containers – divide your meats, carbs, and veggies into suitable serving sizes. Suitable meaning they are convenient for the time of day you’re going to eat, filling enough/appropriate for the activity level to come, and spread out enough to ensure you make it til bed time without starving or having 1,000 calories to trough.
    1. Colour code your meals – e.g. chicken & rice is blue, turkey & rice is clear, beef and potato is purple
    2. Each meal has a different sort of vegetable to give variety (e.g. cut beans, minty peas, mixed spring veg, Asian stir-fry packet)
    3. Dedicate a chunk of your home (and work freezer if lucky) to your meals. Create a system that will help you remember what containers to use first (e.g. In our back freezer, the new containers go on top, and the older containers get pulled from the bottom)

I mentioned it earlier – it is the fuel we feed ourselves that makes up 70% of the required effort to make change. I am not going to say adapting to this ‘healthy eating / understanding your macros’ lifestyle will be easy because it won’t be. It will take time, and a complete mindset change. If you are truly dedicated to turning your life around, and that includes the transformation of your mind, body and soul, then take the time to understand your food, and take the steps (even if they are baby steps at first!) in the right direction to start changing your eating habits to ensure all of your hard work in the gym is being supported by what you are putting into your body.

How you may be self-sabotaging your goals (hint: do the quiz!)

I trained my butt off for years, and yet the growth seemed to be lacking. I would hobble around day in day out with sore quads, glutes, and hamstrings, and although my shape improved, it was super slow.

So I began to say to myself (as many people do!): “it’s just not in my genetics. I’ll never look like her. It won’t happen for me” etc. The stress and self-doubt would build and I’d begin to question my decisions and values.

I was training 6 days per week, for 1.5hrs and burning at least 500 calories. My diet calories were what I considered to be high, and so despite feeling hungry most of the time, I restrained from ‘over-eating’ because I wanted to ‘stay lean’ and avoid fat gain. I felt stressed and run down, but I wouldn’t miss a single session because I wanted the gains! My stomach was holding fat, and my muscles weren’t getting bigger.

Ironically, these were the factors holding me back from building muscle and getting leaner. I was over-training and under-eating, therefore my body could not function optimally. My body couldn’t recover, heal and build muscle, and the stress levels actually aided fat preservation – particularly around the gut (cortisol).

I want you to ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to more than one, it is a clear indication you may be self-sabotaging:

  1. Do you find yourself decreasing in energy, and yet mysteriously increasing in body fat / softness?
  2. Are you in the vicious cycle of:
    • Under-eating to lose weight
    • Binge-eating from starvation
    • Under-eating to punish yourself
    • Binge-eating from starvation?
  1. Have you been ‘lifting’ for months if not years, but haven’t really changed shape?
  2. Are you lifting the same weight (not progressing) for months if not years?
  3. Are you giving yourself time to eat, time to rest, and time to de-stress?
  4. Are you genuinely happy in your job / daily life?
  5. Have you given self-love and acceptance to your own soul?
  6. Are you ‘on point’ with your nutrition Mon-Fri then blow it all on a ‘big weekend’?

I can imagine you said yes to at least two of the above? That’s great! – Why? Because it’s your first step in acknowledging the decisions and choices we make will define our future. Now these issues have been brought to your attention (side note: any of the above are applicable to any aspect of your life) – we can begin to work on them.

  1. Decreasing in energy and increasing in body fat can be an indication of a number of things going on in your body – lack of food, lack of sleep, chronic stress, hormonal imbalances etc. Hormones play a big part in our health. You can read about hormonal deficiencies and excesses by clicking here
  2. Starve-binge-starve cycle is an indication you need to re-assess your eating habits and mindset. It could be that you’re under-eating (though not feeling ‘hungry’) and the gradual build-up leads to a breaking point, particularly on weekends once out of routine and accompanied by friends (to share the guilt). Or it could be that “manifestations like obesity, and personal sloppiness and eating disorders often are the fear-based projection of yourself” according to the amazing Wayne Dyer – look him up on YouTube. His motivational speeches and meditation are amazing
  3. Training for months/years with little progress might suggest you are doing multiple things wrong, or missing important factors in your programming to ensure periodization (progression), or missing essential nutrients for repair and growth. Beyond the __Reps x __sets there is the tempo, the coupling of exercises, the rest period, length of session, intensity of session etc. I cannot encourage you enough to purchase a Training Program from Ambitious Bodies and see what you’ve been missing out on
  4. Not allowing yourself time to eat, rest and de-stress can do more harm than you realise. It is in the time we rest that our body heals and rebuilds the damage. If you aren’t dedicating time to this important process, it is possible to relapse into those bad habits
  5. Your mood towards your job sets your mood for the whole day – the whole week – majority of your adult life! Let’s say you work 8 hours x 5 days a week, and are awake 7am to 10pm. That’s 42% of your working week spent awake. If you are not happy enough, it may be time to mix things up
  6. If you are at war with your own mind you will be at war with others. When you become peaceful within, that is what you will have more to give to the world. When you are driven by your ego, you dominate others. If there is no inner-harmony, there will be no outer-harmony. (again this is inspired from Wayne Dyer)
  7. Big Weekends can be just enough to completely undo all efforts on your fat-loss you’d made that week.
    1. Let’s say your standard daily is 1,900 calories – this means:
    2. You’ll face a 20% deficit in fat-loss, which is 1,520 calories, Mon-Fri.
    3. Saturday you eat 2,000cals and drink 2 bottles of wine over the weekend (1,500 calories)
    4. Sunday you’re hungover so you eat another 2,500 calories
    5. Your weekly total calories are now 13,600
    6. They would’ve been 13,300 if you’d eaten 1900 over 7 days…

There is no fat-loss here! In fact you’d be more likely to gain fat, because out of those weekend calories there’d likely be very minimal protein, and extremely excessive amounts of empty carbohydrates. Can you see now why ‘blowing it’ on the weekend is completely self-sabotaging?

I hope by now some of the information I have provided you as started to sink in and therefore more in control of your thoughts and actions. Here are the key points for that strong, lean and energetic figure *and mind* you desire:

  1. Eat the correct amount of Macronutrients – that’s Proteins, Fats and Carbs
  2. Ensure you have 1-3 rest days per week and plenty of sleep – this is when the muscles are built!
  3. Ensure you relieve stress and feel at peace with your mind – stress can wreak havoc on your metabolism
  4. Ensure you see a professional for any help with your health and hormones – they impact everything

Begin to change the way you think, so you can begin to change your physical self. Become more PROactive, and less REactive. Become more tolerant and less dominant. Learn to become completely satisfied in yourself, and this will help set you free.

From 900 calories and hangry, to 2700 calories and strong!

Okay so we’ve all been there – we’ve all tried the ‘less food equals weight loss’ theory, right? And sure, calorie restriction will aid weight-loss to a degree, but far too many people are doing this the wrong way.

Too often we are starving ourselves and slaughtering the cardio machines in hopes to shed the weight. Many are left disappointed with the results, still feeling exhausted, ‘hangry’, and somehow even softer and flabbier-looking.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you feeling exhausted, weak and fatigued most of the time?
  • Are you counting down the seconds until your next coffee hit?
  • Are you constantly thinking about food?
  • Are you petrified to eat out, or eat something that doesn’t have the calories on the label?
  • Do you find yourself chewing gum or your nails or your lips to keep your mouth busy?
  • Are you experiencing interrupted sleeps, waking up hungry?

If you experience any of the above it may be a sign you are lacking much needed nutrients. I can say this because I’ve been there. I called this ‘normal’ for a couple of years. Let me tell you my story…

I started out like many girls – I turned 17, started to be exposed to alcohol and as soon as I turned 18 I began partying! My poison of choice was cheap wine ($4.99 Passion Pop to be exact). My teenage metabolism diminished, and along with the lack of physical activity in my schedule, the fat grew around my stomach. I felt crap, I felt soft and my confidence drooped. What seemed to be the solution – plastered over multiple media channels – was lots of cardio and crazy low-carb diets.

So I did it, I jumped on My Fitness Pal (app), told the app I wanted to be a certain weight and it advised me to eat the standard bare minimum of 1200 calories per day. I started doing an hour or more of cardio / Les Mills classes at 6am, and some days I returned to do another class at 6pm after work.

I became obsessed with monitoring my calories – some days, I even managed to drop down to 900. I was addicted! I was addicted to the weight loss. At this stage I knew little about MACROS, I just knew ‘carbs are bad’ and high protein / high fat was the answer to all. So yes, I lost weight, but that was just the start of what I lost. At the cost of kilos…

  • I lost the energy to be myself, to make it up stairs without feeling light headed
  • I lost the energy to stay awake past 8.30pm and to stay out with friends
  • I lost the freedom to eat out at restaurants or enjoy food I couldn’t track

The saddest thing about my obsession was I lost the acknowledgement and appreciation of my progress. My obsession to have ‘ripped abs’ let myself blindly to shred down to 44kg. Scary…

My passion to help others create their dream body became a career goal, so I began studying a Certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness. It was after I obtained these certificates that I could finally grasp the idea that CARBS AREN’T THE DEVIL. I began to learn how carbohydrates not only give you much needed energy, but they also aid in brain function as well as organ functions. I’d learnt that my carb restriction had been the reason my periods stopped. I learnt that building muscle with the help of carbs was actually going to help me create shape and get leaner!


*Yes, who would’ve thought that eating more could make you leaner!*


I changed my ways and have never looked back! With all the education and personal experiences under my belt, my calories now sit at 2,700 per day, which consists of 300-370g of carbs (from a mere 40-80g previously). My staples are turkey, chicken, beef, basmati rice, sweet potato, gluten free cereal, coconut water, green veggies and…honey! (Ironically half the things I once restricted!). I weigh a healthy 54kg and look / feel 100x better than the 52kg I weighed years before touching weights. I train with heavy weights and only use cardio as an accessory for boosting fat-loss if I am weeks out from a comp or an event.

I must passionately encourage the theory most women still cannot wrap their heads around – weight training for fat-loss – I cannot tell you enough how this is the life changer! So let me explain this in a very simple way so it seeps into your brain and never comes out:

Excessive long distance cardio (eg. run for an hour, cardio hop over the machines bopping up and down with no resistance)

  • Makes you hungrier (therefore you’ll subconsciously eat more)
  • Makes you exhausted (therefore you move less throughout your normal day, and therefore you’ll burn less calories – diminishing the calorie deficit you created)
  • Heart rate comes back down and body slows at burning calories
  • Doesn’t have the same impact on your muscles as resistance training (you’re not going to build shape)

Resistance training (eg. weight lifting anywhere between 1-30 reps at a time)

  • Increasing muscle mass requires more calories to maintain (you can get away with eating more!)
  • You don’t need to feel like your hearts coming out your mouth to feel the benefits
  • Your body will keep burning calories fast, hours after training (those muscles take energy to heal and rebuild!)
  • More enjoyable and far more rewarding feeling the strength gains in everyday life

I know what you are thinking and the answer is NO – YOU WILL NOT GET BULKY!

You do not have enough testosterone, nor eat anywhere near enough to build noticeable size


This is the million-dollar question: ‘Cardio or Weights For Fat-Loss? With all the information I have just provided you, do you think you can answer this now?

Please trust and understand me when I say; you don’t know what you don’t have. By that I mean, the way you feel daily is what you have taught yourself to be normal. Just because you have ‘done it for years’, doesn’t mean it is the healthy or best way to survive. You might not realise you’re wearing away because it was so gradual, and you’re teaching yourself to cope. I look back now and seriously ask myself HOW THE HELL DID I SURVIVE LIKE THAT!?

Our bodies are built to withstand trauma and stress, and can do magical things when running on adrenaline. Slowly but surely the damage will seep through, whether it be in the form of fat-gain, lack of sleep, mood swings / depression etc. So I beg you to please, Nourish Your Body, Do Not Punish.

Let me help you find balance and ‘sanity with food’ again.

You can read more by clicking here

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