Category Archives: Weight training

Sarah Smith won the silver medal at The National Kettlebell Championships last Sunday

Meet the international pro athlete in Kettlebell Sara Smith who has been competing for 6 years and went through all the level lef from 8kg to professional level at 24 kg. She holds an IUKL (International Union of Kettlebell Lifting) judges qualification. Sarah sat on the AIKLF ( All Ireland Kettlebell Lifting Federation Irish Team) official committee as Connaught representative  for 3 years and helped organise the world championships in Dublin  in 2015.

She came second last week end at the National Championship last week end. It was a brilliant performance of hers.

Sarah Smith national championship 20.08.17

She has competed for the AIKLF All Ireland Kettlebell Lifting Federation Irish Team and  placed internationally in Russia, Latvia, Poland, UK at European and World Championships. Her skills extend to the coaching, since she coached other athletes on the Irish team who have competed at World and European championships. She has had the privilege to be coached by the president of AIKLF, Mick Kelly the past 6 years.
“I’m passionate about the sport because it helps me to stay strong in body and mind.
It tests mental and physical stamina and can be both exhilarating and exhausting.It builds confidence and helps me to distress. I love to see male and female, youths and veterans compete,it’s a great community.”
“I came about competing at the sport when I met my coach at a StrongMan competition in Limerick 7 years ago. I was exhibiting selling fitness courses and he was promoting Kettlebells. He invited me to the first ever competition held in Ireland. I saw a female snatching a 20kg and I was mesmerized.
At that moment I decided I wanted to pursue it so I got coaching from Mick and stuck with it ever since.”
Here are 2 videos of her performances during competitions:
Advice from Sarah:
– Be patient if considering taking up the sport as it requires conditioning and a lot of technique work along with mental strength and a longer term goal.
– Start with getting technique right and do a beginners 5 minutes competition first.
– Competing versus training can be very different experiences.
– Be prepared to be judge, competitor and spectator.
– Get your food and rest so you have the energy to train.
Rules of the sport:
It is a timed sport with athletes competing in different disciplines, body weight categories and kettlebell weight over 10 mins. They are judged with a rep counter and timer.
Amateur females lift 8kg-16kg and professionals lift 24kg. There aer male and female lifters in either junior,Youth,adult or veterans.
Disciplines are Snatch, Long Cycle or Jerk.
Men lift two bells (except in Snatch) and women lift one.
Athletes may only switch hands once in the 10 mins.
If you want to follow Sarah, here are some of her Facebook pages.

She has set up The Boss Lady Club and Galway kettlebell Club so that she can help more women offline and online

Boss lady

Kettlebells

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How to live a healthy lifestyle and lose weight in 10 tips.

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, keep it off, and achieve a body transformation knows how difficult a feat it truly is. Even more so if you are a working professional, where time doesn’t seem to be in sufficient supply for preparing and cooking healthy meals, and let’s not mention finding the time to do some exercise. For moms, this is even more challenging because you put your kids first.

It is so easy to be tempted by “magic” pills that promise to burn extra fat, reduce your appetite, and boost your metabolism. Fad diets are another thing to be aware of; these diets are usually so hard to stick to and may not be healthy (especially in the long-term). A lack of time management, no motivation, and unrealistic expectations further impedes your ability to see your goal of losing weight through.

I would like to share my 3-year weight loss journey with you, together with 10 tips for losing weight, and keeping it off in the long-term.

The picture on the left was taken during my trip to France with my ex boyfriend in February 2014. I went to visit family and we had a big family reunion. My family was chocked by how big I wad and how much I was eating. My excuse was that I needed to gain strength to compete in powerlifing. This was my second year competing and had already won a world champion title. But my family was concerned about my health and gave me couple of warnings during my stay I was not willing to listen to them. I felt upset and frustrated, I thought they didn't acknowledge the hard work I was putting in the gym but just focus on my physical appearance. I was convinced that I was healthy although I was overweight I couldn't accept the truth. I am grateful that they warned me and told me the truth, I am much happier right now. We decided with my ex to do a stop at the Eiffel Tower before heading back to Dublin. I hadn't seen it in nearly 30 years. Although I was in one of the most beautiful city in the world, you can see the pain on my face. I had checked my weight secretly before heading to the airport. I found out that I was up to 114 kg / 250 lbs/ 18 stones. I knew I had to so something but didn't have the motivation at the time to do it. The right picture is the new me during a photo shoot done 2 weeks ago with my talented friend @chachougrensonphotography

The picture on the left was taken during my trip to France with my ex boyfriend in February 2014. I went to visit family and we had a big family reunion. My family was chocked by how big I wad and how much I was eating. My excuse was that I needed to gain strength to compete in powerlifing. This was my second year competing and had already won a world champion title. But my family was concerned about my health and gave me couple of warnings during my stay I was not willing to listen to them. I felt upset and frustrated, I thought they didn’t acknowledge the hard work I was putting in the gym but just focus on my physical appearance. I was convinced that I was healthy although I was overweight I couldn’t accept the truth. I am grateful that they warned me and told me the truth, I am much happier right now. We decided with my ex to do a stop at the Eiffel Tower before heading back to Dublin. I hadn’t seen it in nearly 30 years. Although I was in one of the most beautiful city in the world, you can see the pain on my face. I had checked my weight secretly before heading to the airport. I found out that I was up to 114 kg / 250 lbs/ 18 stones. I knew I had to so something but didn’t have the motivation at the time to do it. The right picture is the new me during a photo shoot done 2 weeks ago with my talented friend @chachougrensonphotography

1. Importance of Social Media
In this day and age, social media is a powerful tool that can be utilized in positive ways to aid you in your weight loss journey. Social media has provided me with a community of people who not only supports me, but also holds me for my results. They have followed my weight loss journey from the start, has seen my progress, and given me compliments as well as encouragement to keep on going.

At times, it was frustrating when it seemed that there were no results, no matter how healthy I was eating or how hard I was training. It didn’t help that the scale didn’t seem to be on my side either. I realized with the help of my social media friends that sometimes you need to take a step back and appreciate how far you have come. Even something small as not binge-eating or being able to exercise an extra 15 minutes without feeling as if you are not going to make it is something to be proud of. Since I built up a loyal and supportive online community, I am confident that I am able to help others achieve their dreams and change their lifestyle for the better. (Follow me on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.)

My first social media success. I received so many good comments and feedback from friends and people I had never met before. I got over 500 likes across my social media accounts. This is when my followers started to pay attention and take me a bit more seriously. I realised how getting support through social media and creating a new community during my journey was important. I don't have the opportunity to see my family very often so I feel like I have created a new family and friends through social media. I has had such a positive impact in the all process.

My first social media success. I received so many good comments and feedback from friends and people I had never met before. I got over 500 likes across my social media accounts. This is when my followers started to pay attention and take me a bit more seriously. I realised how getting support through social media and creating a new community during my journey was important. I don’t have the opportunity to see my family very often so I feel like I have created a new family and friends through social media. I have had such a positive impact in the all process.

  1. Baby Steps

 

When people ask me to give them advice on losing weight, I first try to understand where they are coming from and what triggers them to eat food that isn’t good for them. The reason for this is because I first needed to understand my relationship with food before I was able to change my eating habits. What goes on in your mind is key, and everything starts with how we feel about ourselves.

A main problem is that people eat too little during the day and then eat bigger portions at dinner. Most often, dinner is made up of food that is high in sugar and/or is processed. This leads to more cravings for unhealthy foods (a vicious circle that is continues and continues).

unhealthy-food

My advice is to eat at least 2 healthy, balanced meals during working hours and plan for 1 to 2 snacks to avoid being super hungry at dinnertime. This should ideally be done in a step-by-step basis; eating habits cannot be changed immediately.

  1. Planning and Preparing Meals

If you know that you are going to be busy during the week and don’t have time to cook your meals, planning and preparing your food for the week will help you out so much.

For the first two years of my journey, I used to train about 4 to 5 times a week. This year, I have been exercising twice a day, 6 days a week. You can see that I don’t have the time in the week to prepare and cook meals, so I take Sundays to do this. Having my meals planned and prepared before I start my week is a weight off my shoulders.

  1. Cook Meals Yourself  

A lot of people struggle to cook their own meals for lunch and/or dinner, so they end up buying meals and/or snacks from a deli or whatever place is most convenient that day. I used to be like that. I would buy my meals every day from the canteen. I have been in the workforce for 21 years, and until 2014, I was too lazy to prepare and bring my own lunch to work. I did, however, admire others who had the discipline to do so.

In September 2014, I started to cook my own lunch every day. I didn’t have a choice, as I was a fulltime student; my tiny budget didn’t allow me to buy food every day. This was the best thing that ever happened to me as I realized that planning meals and making it yourself is a big (much-needed) step to becoming healthy.

 

One of my favourite dish back in 2014 that I learned from my instructor :home made mince meat pizza. the base is made of mince meat and topped with aubergine cheese onions and tomatoes. It would be so filling that it would last me up to 3 days.

One of my favourite dish back in 2014 that I learned from my instructor :home made mince meat pizza. the base is made of mince meat and topped with aubergine cheese onions and tomatoes. It would be so filling that it would last me up to 3 days.

It won’t be smooth sailing at first, and going forward, you learn what food works best for you. Remember that natural ingredients are always best: veggies, fruit, lean and fresh meat, fish, nuts and whole grains. Try to always substitute unhealthy food with healthier versions. That way it doesn’t look like you are trying to restrict yourself too much and you can enjoy the changes you are making in your life. . I would recommend this article on the top 10 health benefits of cooking home.

  1. The 80/20% Rule

For this rule, you need to eat as healthy as you can during the week, and then you can have a cheat meal or two (no more!) on the weekend. For the first two years of my weight loss journey, I would stick as closely as I could to “eating clean” from Monday to Friday and then have treats on the weekend. This way, it isn’t a diet that you follow, but rather a lifestyle and it is a lot easier to maintain.

cheat meals allowed

There were times that I overindulged on the weekends especially when I was training for marathons, thinking that the exercise would burn it off anyways. I learned the hard way that you can’t work out on a bad diet; you still need to keep some control over your cheat meals.

home made protein healthy muffins made with 2 bananas, protein powder, oats, grated coconut and almonds, dark chocolate, peanut butter, walnuts and eggs

home made protein healthy muffins used to be for my week ends. Although all the ingredients fit into my program I would have them in the week end so that i had something nice to look forward. made with 2 bananas, protein powder, oats, grated coconut and almonds, dark chocolate, peanut butter, walnuts and eggs

  1. Work with a Coach/Nutritionist

There is no harm in reaching out for help and working with a professional who will design a personal plan that is adapted to your needs. There isn’t a perfect, one-size-fits-all “diet” or lifestyle out there for everyone. We all have different body types, lifestyles, jobs, etc.

Even though I am a certified personal trainer, I have always worked with a professional for guidance and motivation. Additionally, a coach further makes me accountable, checks on my progress and gives me useful tips when I need them.

with my coaches I have worked with the past 10 years

with my coaches I have worked with the past 10 years

  1. Find a Friend

If it is hard to find the motivation to pick up a sport and stick to it by yourself, doing it with someone else will motivate you. There are a million reasons to cancel a training session, but if there is someone else that does the activity with you, then it is a bit more difficult to cancel, as you would let that other person down, too. This is why I love competing, because it gives me a goal to work towards and keeps me further motivated to train every day of the week. There are some days that even I don’t feel like training and knowing that there is some competition coming makes that feeling go away.

 

  1. Be Grateful

Be grateful for what you have and where you are at in your life. It helps to remain positive and it starts you off well for the day. It also makes you appreciate what you have already achieved to date. I am a big believer in the laws of attraction; the more positive thoughts we have, the more positive things will happen in your life.

If we are honest, it is impossible to be positive 365 days of the year; we all have our off days. Remember that it is OK to not always be OK; we aren’t and don’t have to be perfect.

quotes-about-being-grateful-quotes-about-blessings

  1. Love Yourself at Any Shape 

As women, we are over critical of how we look. I was a size 6-8 in my 20s and thought that I was too fat. I could never be happy because I was constantly chasing smaller numbers on the scale. Now, when I look back at pictures of myself then, I think that I looked gorgeous. I should have appreciated myself. I learned from my mistakes and decided to first love how I look before I considered changing my habits and adopting a new healthier lifestyle.

 

A sustainable weight loss and body transformation journey takes time; ideally up to a year depending on your starting point and how much weight you have to lose. Don’t wait until you have reached your final goal to start appreciating and loving who you are. You are more likely to succeed if you have a healthy and loving relationship with yourself from the beginning.

  1. Be Patient

Unfortunately, losing weight is a long process and trying to do it quickly won’t do you any favours. Quick fixes and fad diets are temporary solutions. We have all probably tried a quick fix at least once. I have done many of them, failed, and put all the weight (and some extra) back on again. So, I know from personal experience that it is not the best approach.

Give yourself plenty of time to be consistent. A successful entrepreneur once said, “Simple things done consistently and over time leads to amazing results.” To me, this is the BEST approach, always. You will appreciate it more and feel good during the whole process.

Conclusion

I thought that I could eat peanut butter and bread while training for a marathon; overindulging (even though I was training hard at the time) leads to putting weight back on. It is good to be mindful that it is a long journey and its ups and downs. I have made mistakes, so will you. It is important that you learn from them.

As stated before, working to lose weight and going on a healthy lifestyle journey is a long process Keeping these 10 tips in mind and learning from my mistakes will help you in the long run.

Thanks for reading!

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What makes Hell & Back as a group so magical

Up until I completed my second Hell & back race with a group, I hadn’t realised how powerful team building was. Crossing that finish line with my co-workers whom I consider as my friends at this stage, was magical. It took the whole Hell & Back experience to another level. We get along really well and we are close at the office but this event brought us even closer. During the toughest challenges and obstacles, we all stuck together as a team. We helped each other, waited for one another even when it was getting cold especially after we all got soaking wet☺ .It really brought us together and showed us what we were truly made of.

Although my first Race was very special to me since I had never done such a tough obstacles race before, the second one will always have a special place in my heart. The Hell & Back Titan is shorter in distance -7km, compared to the Apollo which was 12 km. Both races are difficult regardless of the distance. The organisers introduced new obstacles this time and made sure we were well entertained the whole way through ☺

finish-line-as-a-group

One of the new obstacles was the sack race which brought us way back to the time we were kids. We all had a grin on our faces when we were hopping and laughing in our sacks. It’s only a short distance but it can be quite intense. I was out of breath afterwards. Thank God I wasn’t the only one. After seeing the child’s game we weren’t expecting it to be so difficult. Everyone was taken by surprise and felt how tough it actually was. ☺

obstacle-with-sac

One of our favourite moments is when Xav ended up stuck in the mud for about 10 minutes, to be fair at that stage we were all exhausted. It took 4 strong men to help him out of the swamp☺ When asking him if he was fine, as we started getting worried, he replied with his famous Xav quote ’’Well guys, I am stuck’’. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures to illustrate this memorable moment however the thought of it will always be stuck in my mind. That is definitely one of the funniest memories and the best mental picture I will keep forever.

high-river-2

Aliénor de Bernard, from Team Accenture shares her experience of the Hell & Back Titan:

 The Hell &Back was an amazing experience altogether. I had certainly foreseen the physical exertion and knew we were going to have fun (yes, we are big kids rolling in the mud). Still, I had underestimated the team spirit that bound us for four hours. Sure, we had said we would help each other, but we really stuck together as one through hell, which is why we all made it back with huge banana smiles across our faces. It was all about pushing, waiting, helping, pulling, dragging and motivating. And all these “little” things only made the whole experience even better for me, tripling the amount of fun I had as I didn’t miss a single slip/fall/splash of my teammates. I’ll definitely do it again, once my body is not so painful anymore!”

Alienor really summed up the feelings we all had during the event and after crossing the finish line. She also pointed out a very important feature:  “the team building ‘’ spirit.

group-picture

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

The term “team building” has become a buzzword in recent years, and has many meanings. In terms of corporate development, team-building exercises are important not only for the immediate experience of the activities performed by the team, but also for the group, communication and bonding skills that result. Team-building programmes provide realistic experiences that empower individuals to contribute to common goals. The success of most organisations depends on individuals’ ability to build effective teams.

The main goals of team-building are to improve productivity and motivation. Taking employees out of the office helps groups break down political and personal barriers, eliminate distractions, and have fun. The benefits of team-building programmes are so significant that many corporations have incorporated teambuilding strategies into their standard training curriculum.

Reference: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-team-building-1979.html

I have always been an advocate of teamwork and have established my career among international companies which all had great teams.  I have always felt stronger being part of a team rather than working on my own although I could handle doing most of my job on my own.

Katerina McKINNON, is a lovely and beautiful person who used to be an Accenture employee in the past. Although she has left the company a couple of months ago, she also came with her beloved fiancé Julien to be a part of the Team Accenture. They both really enjoyed the whole experience.

’Hell & Back was the toughest thing I had ever done. I had to face some of my worst fears and I am happy to say I have succeeded in doing so! I don’t regret this one bit, & am very grateful to Arlette for convincing me to do it. Plus, my team was the best, everyone helped each other out and we had such a great laugh altogether. I am very proud of myself and more importantly proud of everyone in my team! ‘’

img_2217-1

The sense of pride crossing the finish line can’t be over said or even described. We all wore our really cool Hell & Back tee shirts after the event. Every time you wear it you get that feeling you are like a superhero. I wish I could be the photographer who has the privilege to capture the expression on each participant’s face at the finish line. Each individual overcame the courage to put themselves through hell and challenged themselves beyond what they thought could be possible.

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d5Q0vXbODs

That reminds me of that unique quote from the Bad Boys movie ‘’We ride together, We die together, Bad Boys for life’’

7k3_bad_boys_quotes_bad_

Another thing I really love about Hell & Back is the high quality pictures posted on their Facebook page. I always look forward to seeing these show up on their feed. Hats off to the organisers who provide us with kick ass pictures which are also free of charge. That adds an extra something to the overall experience. I am used to being charged extra for professional pictures after completing a race.

There is something special about Hell & back which makes me want to sign up straight after for the next one. I have become an action junkie! The adrenaline rush gets me so excited that I forget the bruises, the muscle pains and the mud. This is exactly why I have signed up for the next Hell & Back @ night on 22nd October. I am delighted that my two friends Donovan and Daniele will be joining me. It’s part of my plan to do something scary every month. Doing the Hell & Back again yes, but this time in the dark, with all those crazy obstacles getting in my way. What could be scarier than that?

finish-line-with-dono-2

I want to say a huge thank you to all my friends and colleagues who came along. You guys made that event so extra special. Thank you once more to the organisers from Hell & Back who are always so supportive, answering all my questions.

 

Your job can make you healthy

Hi Everyone,

Living a healthy lifestyle is one of my favourite topics, although it’s difficult to do a good job covering this subject because it’s so broad, and filled with so many details and nuances. But real life stories can be one of the best ways to demonstrate the transformative power of a healthy lifestyle. For example, take the story of my amazing co-worker Tegan Parkes. Tegan has been on an incredible journey to a healthy lifestyle since she landed her first permanent position at Accenture.

Below left: Tegan taking part in a St Patrick’s Day parade in March for the local Supermarket. Below right: Tegan today.

before and after Tegan-resized

This is the picture that made me realise I needed to make a change for my health. I was doing a favour for my old boss by taking part in the local St. Patrick’s Day parade in my old uniform here. It’s not that I thought I was too big, as there are people that are this size naturally who are perfectly healthy and happy. I just realised that my unhealthy habits were beginning to manifest as weight gain, and fast. It gave me the shock I needed. ”

But before I share her story with you, I would like to talk about obesity in Europe, specifically in Ireland.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) experts, Ireland is on a course to become the most obese country in Europe. As stated by the Irish Times, by 2030, Europe will face an obesity crisis of “enormous proportions”. In fact, estimates show that for Irish women, obesity and overweight rates will soar to 85 percent. And the percentage of obese and overweight Irish men is expected to increase to 89 percent.

Although these statistics can sound alarming, they are by no means a guarantee that you’re destined to become overweight or obese. The good news is that anyone has the ability and can find the resources to lead a healthier lifestyle. Of course, this is easier said than done, but since this is my favourite topic, I’ve spent hours reading inspirational stories about people who have overcome obesity, poor eating habits, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

In particular, I was so impressed by Tegan’s journey since she started working with my team that I had to interview her. I am convinced her story can inspire more young women and men out there who are struggling to find the motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle. Since Tegan is fresh from college, I needed to understand what her life was like as a student, and how it had impacted her health.

Tegan as a student

Below is my interview with Tegan where she elaborates on the obstacles she faced, how she overcame them to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and what her daily routine looks like now.

Q: As a student, what challenges did you face to stay healthy?

A: ‘’ Time and money were huge obstacles. During exam season and when I was loaded down with assignments, I didn’t always have the time to prep lunches, especially because I was working weekends and some evenings. If I did prepare lunches, it was usually something basic and stodgy like pasta and pesto, but it was limited because we didn’t have access to a microwave. I didn’t have the money to buy goodquality lunches, and I lived on the usual college fare of €2.99 chicken fillet rolls, pre-packed sandwiches, and coffee. In fairness, I did have a lot of things in my favour like the college’s gym and my student card for the odd €5 burrito bowl or hot dinner in the Buttery (Trinity College’s restaurant)! There are also a lot of sports clubs available to students.’’

I can relate to Tegan’s struggles, since I experienced similar issues as a student back in the 90’s. Having a limited budget and limited time to prepare home cooked meals can be a major contributor to obesity and disease.  Struggling to find affordable accommodation, juggling assignments, attending multiple lectures, and having a part-time job can be extremely stressful, and often there isn’t a lot of money left over for nutritious meals. In fact, according to The Institute of Public Health in Ireland, food poverty, which is the inability to afford nutritious food, often results in a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables, and higher in saturated fat, salt, and processed food. Food poverty is one of the leading causes of Ireland’s increasing rise in obesity.

Unless obesity and food poverty rates are reduced, it is predicted that there will be a significant impact on quality of life, life expectancy, and healthcare costs in Ireland. We must take baby steps to begin to rectify this easily preventable problem. For starters, I was wondering how the college can help students look after their mental and physical health?

Q: What actions or initiatives could be implemented by the college’smanagement to help students stay healthy and active?

A: ”It really depends on the college and what they spend their budget on, i.e. gym equipment, supplementing food costs and sports clubs. Some colleges have more funds than others from donations for these things. I think it’s bigger than that though. The government keeps raising student fees, and rent in Dublin is sky high. A lot of students are forced to work as many hours as possible to get by. This affects their health in a lot of ways. They are sleep deprived and they can’t afford good quality, fresh food, especially if they’re living away from home. It’s such a deep rooted issue with many different contributing financial and cultural causes. 

I think colleges themselves could make some little changes though. For example,making sure people have access to microwaves and fridges for their meals would be great. And I would have appreciated a seating area to eat home cooked meals too. I feel that urging college shops to sell more than just apples and bananas as a healthy option is very important. Seasonal fruit and vegetables, rice cakes, granola, porridge, hummus, nuts, seeds and natural yoghurts, among many others, are just as cheap and just as easy to stock as chocolate, crisps, and fizzy drinks. ”

What Tegan has told us so far has clearly shown how difficult it can be to adopt a healthier lifestyle, especially when finances are tight and one is surrounded by a plethora of cheap junk food. But even though Tegan struggled to adopt healthy lifestyle habits as a college student, all of that changed as soon she met the perfect guy, aka. The Body Coach.

Tegan with the body coach

Meet Joe Wicks, also known as The BodyCoach. Wicks is a bonafide online fitness guru. His social media posts have earned him legions of fans who eagerly await his daily recipe and workout posts on Instagram (728k followers), Facebook (631k), Twitter (115k) and YouTube (65k subscribers). Wicks started out as a personal trainer, but in just two years, he’s built up a staff of 50, who help him manage the thousands of clients doing his online fitness programme.

After meeting Wicks, Tegan started a 90 day lifestyle program that had her transforming in front of my eyes. Obviously, I was curious to find out more about this revolutionary program, and what had initially motivated Tegan to sign up.

Q: Why did you decide to follow The Body Coach program?

A: ”When I started my new office job, it was a complete lifestyle switch. I was a student who was used to walking for half of my commute to college, walking from class to class, and then on the weekends being on my feet all day as a barista. I could eat whatever I liked and it wouldn’t really have an affect on my weight. When I moved to an office environment, my day went like this: I got up, sat in my car all the way to work, sat at my desk all day, then sat in my car all the way home, then sat on my couch until bedtime. It was a huge change for my body. I also took full advantage of the snack cart. My brain was still in college mode, and the student in me went nuts at the thought of free food. I was going through all the free chocolate, crisps, cake, cheese, crackers, fizzy drinks, sugary cereal, and cappuccinos I could get my hands on. I was eating out of boredom. I had all this pent-up energy from not moving around, and I was just eating to stimulate myself. Before I knew it, I had gained a stone. I was depressed and became withdrawn because I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin anymore. Something needed to change. 

I started meal prepping and exercising at the gym when I had the time, getting ideas from Instagram and various blogs. But I didn’t have a clue about fitness or nutrition, and I was just fumbling around in the dark. I lost 5 pounds, but when I reached a plateau for a few weeks, I started to lose motivation. I needed some structure. 

Joe’s 90 day SSS programme jumped out at me. He has such a relatable and sustainable way of living a healthy lifestyle. The meals he makes are so tasty and filling. He doesn’t cut out treats or alcohol, and he doesn’t punish himself for having a bar of chocolate or scoop of ice cream. As long as you get your exercise in that day, you can have your treats in moderation. I think when we go on a diet, the thing that makes us fail is the fear of denying ourselves nice things. Joe’s plan is different because you never have to deny yourself anything. You just have to work for it!

Meal preparation for 10 days:

2 weeks meal prep

Meal preparation for a week:

Meal prep 1 week

I’ve lost a lot of fat, but I’ve gained a lot of muscle too, so I don’t look at the scales much anymore. I measure my success in the way my clothes feel, the extra few pounds I can squat, the extra few push ups I can do, the definition of my muscles, and the smile on my face when I look in the mirror and actually like what I see.”

Before after Tegan Parkes for social media

Q: What is the most difficult part about changing eating and lifestyle habits?

A: ‘Starting. Once you start, it becomes second nature. I just took the first step and the rest was history! I’ve had a few times where I fell off the wagon and I’ve had a binge day or a week with very little exercise. But you just have to allow yourself the grace of being human. Once I stopped beating myself up about it, it was so much easier to continue on. Also, meal prep! It wasn’t difficult, but it was a new organisational skill that I needed to learn to adapt to my own lifestyle. Once I got the rhythm of cooking enough food for an army in one day, it became easier. And the peace of mind of knowing I didn‘t have to stress about cooking or shopping for a week or two was amazing!”

Post workout protein pancakes made with banana, oats, protein powder, cinnamon and Greek yogurt on top.

Post workout protein pancks-oast-protein pwdr banana

High fat and protein meal on rest days: Spinach with meat balls and feta cheese

High fat protein-feta cheese vegs-meatballs

And since a lot of people from the workforce use being too busy as an excuse to avoid looking after their health or practicing a sport,  I thought Tegan should share how she successfully found a balance between work and adopting an active and healthful lifestyle.

Q: How did you adjust to working your new fulltime job while adopting healthy lifestyle?

A: ”I usually work out in the morning before work, or in the evening at home. HIIT, especially bodyweight training, is great because you only need to work out for 25 minutes to get the full effect. It works by creating an oxygen deficit in your cells which creates an afterburn effect. Your body works for up to 18 hours after your session to recover, so I can type away at my desk and still be burning fat. 

I bought a barbell, a kettlebell, some dumbbells, a yoga mat, a foam roller, and a sit up press that I use for various exercises. I built up my little mini gym overtime so it feels like I didn’t spend much money on it at all. I prefer working out at home because I get very self-conscious when I work out. I feel like I can’t push myself as far as I can go if others are around. If I’m on my own, I don’t have that issue and I can work harder. Others tell me they couldn’t do that because they wouldn’t have the motivation to workout at home, so I guess it’s just down to personal choice. 

Gym equipment

Nutritionwise, I try to shop and cook my meals for the week on a Sunday so I’m sorted for the week. Sometimes I cook a batch twice a week for a few days, and sometimes I go crazy and make meals for two weeks. I never really stick to a solid routine but I always try and make sure that there’s a meal ready in the freezer for me so I’m not stuck. 

Smoothies and shakes are also a lifesaver! They’re so quick and they’re a great way of getting your daily greens and vitamins in. There’s been many a time where I’ve run out of prepared meals, or woken up late needing a quick breakfast. My favourite is oats, frozen spinach, a frozen banana, orange juice, water and vanilla whey. It tastes exactly like a super split ice cream! ”

Q: What advice would you give to young women and men who want to improve their health and be more active?

A:

  • ‘’HIIT! It’s amazing. You can go at your own pace, as long as you’re getting your heart rate up, and then resting. I like to use a 20:20 work/rest interval but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. You can do 20 seconds of work and 40 seconds of rest if you need that much of a break. You can even do 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest to make it really intense. You can do it at home, in the gym, on a run, or on your bike. You can integrate weights if you want to build muscle tone. It’s so versatile and fun and it’s such a great feeling watching yourself gradually getting fitter.

HIIT with the body coach 

What Tegan’s story tells us is that even if you’re facing a number of barriers like a hectic work schedule, tight budget, and limited time, you can still adopt healthy lifestyle habits to get healthy and fit. Tegan is the perfect example of what a bit of determination and dedication can do for one’s health, no matter what the obstacles!

Note: HIIT stands for High-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.

And if you think you’re too old to begin adopting a healthier lifestyle, just watch this motivational video of my hero, Ernestine Shepherd. At 77, she’s the world’s oldest female bodybuilder. She started doing weight training at the age of 56.

 

My very first Hell & Back race

Neale Donald Walsch: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Hell & Back has always been in my mind the past 3 years. Few of my friends who completed it told me they were blown away by this race. I used to envy them and wish I was fit enough to do this type of race. I remember thinking it was too scary and too difficult for me at the time.

h&B official1

3 years ago, I was a complete different person physically and mentally. First of all, I was overweight: 114kg at my heaviest (250.8 LBS) which would bring limitations when it comes to any type of cardio. I was feeling comfortable in my relationship and was a pure weightlifter competitor. Although my physical strength was really solid, any type of cardio would make me out of breath. My health was even at jeopardy at some stage.

Deep down, a part of me was dying to go back to running which was my passion 20 years ago. In my 20’s I was super fit, under 65kg (143 LBS) body weight and fearless.

 A week before the Hell & Back race held on 25th June 2016, I finally got the courage to sign up. While watching this inspirational video, I thought it was time to get out of my comfort zone and do something which scares me:

Fit and ready mentally to do one of the toughest race I have ever completed on Saturday 25th June, here I am standing in front of Kilruddery Estate in Bray. Since March 2015, I have been working on my fitness and improved my health, as a results I lost 55 lbs and feeling fit enough to run any races. Nothing is going to stop me from now. My biggest barrier for not doing what I love was the weight. Since I have gone on this journey, I have learned to love myself again and chase my dreams.

As Eleanor Roosevelt ‘ says ‘’Do one thing every day that scares you.”

h&B2h&B5

 

I had another good motivation to do the Hell & Back that day since France was playing Ireland during the Euro soccer tournament. Being French and living in Ireland for nearly 11 years, I always support both teams. It’s always heart breaking to watch my 2 teams playing each other. Hell & Back was my way to escape the game and have fun.

A big thank you to Sophie and her team mate who invited to join their group since I was on my own. It made the al experience more enjoyable.

The first obstacles set the tone: huge wheel barrel in cold water to go over, they call it ‘’ Ice Baths’’ and a wall to jump over. I thought I could handle jumping over the wall by myself at the look of it. Thank God some of the participants helped me climbing over it. That’s the best thing about Hell & Back, everyone helps each other, we are all in this together. It’s not about beating a personal time or competing rather having fun, challenging ourselves but more importantly the comradery is incredible. I have never seen so many people helping each other and being so supportive to one another

Hb1

My favourite Obstacles were:

‘’ Buplex slide to hell slide’’ sliding is so much fun and requires not effort at all. It’s a nice break after going over so many obstacles which can be at times demanding.

‘’ The river’’ Anytime I could get a bit of the mud of me and be in water I was happy. Even if the water was cold it didn’t bother me it felt home. The strange thing is that I normally hate walking on the mud

h&B official

‘’Mud bath’’ reverse crawling above cold water and holding on to some rope was great fun.

The toughest ones:

‘’Monkey bars’’, which are very similar to exercise you would see in the army. It’s purely bodyweight strength which is something I have never been good at. I managed to hold myself couple of meters and then fall into the water. I kept going as usual not a big deal.  

‘’Highway to hell’’ it’s one of the few times where you need to have a bit of fitness but walking does it too

‘’ the swamp’’ mud mud and more mud up to the ears, very impressive!

h&B official2

Despite the pain of going through some tough obstacles it was an incredible experience. I have to congratulate the organizers because they have created a unique event which will remain one of my most memorable race to date. I loved it so much that I have motivated friends and work colleague to sign up for the Hell & Back Titan on Saturday September 10th. 31 of us are excited and ready to take on the Hell & Back by storm.  Team Accenture is going to kill it  

h&B6

 

Weightloss journey of an African French lady holding a World champion in powerlifting living in Ireland

  • What was my motivation? What inspired me?

What a shock it was when I realized I was up to 112 kg on March 2015. That could explain why I was out of breath after walking more than 20 mins or taking up stairs. Despite being overweight, I had been doing weight training for 10 years and have been competing in powerlifting on high level since August 2013 for Ireland. I am currently holding 2 World champion title and 3 European champion title. My body weight has never been an issue to compete in sports contrary to what people who don’t know thought. I was lying to myself that I was okay and thought that one day I will start losing weight. After failing for 7 years to get down to a healthy weight, I had given up. March 2015 was a turning point for me and the first thing I decided to do was:

-to stop fooling myself

-no more excuses.

  • How did I change your eating habits? What did I stop or start eating?

I stopped eating the following: take away, pastries, white pasta, white bread and white rice

I went to the gym I first joined when I moved to Ireland back in 2007. My trainer gave me nutrition plan which was high in protein & Fats. It worked beautifully for me, my body reacts really well to healthy fats and protein. The meals were simple to prepare & nutritious.

-Breakfast : egg yolk, 1/2 avocado and a tea spoon of peanut butter

Breakfast

-Lunch : 2 full avocados with lemon and herbs and 100g of salmon

Lunch

– Diner : Duck confit and 50g cream cheese

Diner

-Post and pre workout supplements : Protein powder with coconut water, peanut butter and spirulina juice.

I had lost 10kg – 22lbs effortlessly on that nutrition plan I did it for 6 months and it never felt difficult. The best is that I always felt full the healthy fats and protein have the benefits of making you full quick.

By August I was finally down to 99kg (217.8 LBS)  and under 100kg ( 220lbs). I was very happy with that.

I went back doing my powerlifting training in July/August with my other coach.

My primary goal was to break the 90kg ( 198 LBS)  barrier by Christmas 2015, that was very ambitious but it kept me focus during the holiday season and new year’s eve celebration. Although I had fun and ate good food, I was reasonable.

My ultimate goal was to compete under 90kg for the National Powerlifting championship single lifts end of January 2016. After months of hard work, I finally made my dreams come true. Not only I weighed in at 89.4 kg (196.68 LBS)  and I won in my age & weight category in the Bench press event. I lifted 65 & 67.5kg. During the European Championship in Italy in September 2015 I lifted the same number with a 100kg ( 220 lbs) body weight. That was the result of my determination hard work and off course support from my trainers, family & friends. I make sure to surround myself of positive loving people.

Gold medal presentationBench 67.5kg

After completing a 12 weeks body transformation program named Amazing 12from end of January to mid April I managed to get myself down to a size 14. The Program was really tough I would do sprint and jogging 5 mornings a week, weight training 5 evening a week from 60 to 90 mins Monday to Friday. I had to keep a food diary which will be checked by my coach every 2 weeks. The hard work really paid off my work colleagues, family and friends saw my body transforming in front of their eyes.

Here are an example of weekly meal preparation I make :

I haven’t finished my weight loss journey I intend to get down to a size 8/10 by March 2017 and compete in body building in bikini category.

Here are the before and after shot of the Amazing 12 Program:

before and after A12

  • What did my workout routines look like?

I do 60 mins weight training sessions 4 to 5 times a week in the evenings after work and 30 to 60 mins cardio session 2 to 3 times a week. It could be running, walking and recently roller skating. I also do very long walks up to 4 hours, 2 week-ends a month. I live along the beach and love to walk from the beach to the city centre.

  • What was my starting weight? What is my current weight?

Starting weight : 242 lbs ( 110kg) , current weight 190.96 LBS ( 86.8 kg)

Before after apr2015-2016 front-2Before after apr2015-2016 side

  • How long did my transformation take?

    14 months

  • What advice do I have for others who want to lose weight?

Advice 1: baby steps

A lot of my colleagues and friends ask me advice about weight loss. I always tell them to start getting rid of at least one food which they know is bad for them and stick to it for at least 3 to 4 weeks and keep going. After 4 weeks they can ride of 2 or one more food which is bad for them. Until they manage gradually to get rid of the foods which make them gain weight on the first place.

Advice 2 : 80% 20 % rule

I eat as clean Monday to Friday and then have treats in the week ends. So that it’s no longer a diet it’s a lifestyle for me and feels so easy now. 80% of the time I eat clean food and 20 % treats

Advice 3 : Meal plan

I cook my foods for the week on Sundays and plan for the all week what I will eat. It avoids me eating out and makes my life easy since I train 4 to 5 times a week. I don’t have time to be cooking every evenings. Attached a picture of a week plan food.

  • Here are my other Social media accounts

https://www.facebook.com/arlette.maotie.bomahou

 

Weight loss journey- part 1

It’s my first week on the Amazing 12 and so far so good. I am aiming to continue my weight loss journey which started in March 2015. After seeing a picture of myself during the Jason Dublin Film festival, I realized it was time to do something. In my head I thought everything was okay and I could afford to be slightly overweight. The day after I saw my picture, I checked my weight on the scale.

What a shock it was when I realized I was up to 112 kg. That could explain why I was out of breath after walking more than 20 mins or taking up stairs. Despite being overweight, I had been doing weight training for years and have been competing in power lifting on high level since August 2013. I was lying to myself that I was okay and thought that one day I will start losing weight. After failing for 7 years to get down to a healthy weight, I had given up. March 2015 was a turning point for me and the first thing I decided to do was:

  1. to stop fooling myself
  2. no more excuses.

Fil Fastival March 2015

Here is my selfie in May 2015

Selfie-May 2015-frontSelfie-May 2015-side

I went back training with the Educogym in Eccles street for couple of months.

My first day in the gym 🙂

Before front april 2015

 

The team gave me  nutrition plan which was high in protein & Fats. It worked beautifully for me, my body reacts really well to healthy fats and protein. The meals were simple to prepare & nutritious.

Breakfast : egg yolk, 1/2 avocado and a tea spoon of peanut butter

Breakfast

Lunch : 2 full avocados with lemon and herbs and 100g of salmon

Lunch

Diner : Duck confit and 50g cream cheese

Diner

Post and pre work out supplements :

POst and pre workout

I had lost 10kg effortlessly on that nutrition plan I did it for 6 months and it never felt difficult. The best is that I always felt full the healthy fats and protein have the benefits of making you full quick.

By August I was finally down to 99kg and under 100kg. I was very happy with that.

I went back doing my power lifting training in July/August with jay in Impact Strength and Performance.

Here is what I look like the first week in the gym :

Selfie-Impact Strentgh-August15-week1-frontSelfie-Impact Strentgh-August15-week1-side

My primary goal was to break the 90kg barrier by  Christmas 🙂 that was very ambitious but it kept me focus during the holiday season and new year’s eve celebration. Although I had fun and ate good food, I was reasonable.

My ultimate goal was to compete under 90kg for the National Powerlifting championship single lifts end of January. After months of hard work I finally made my dreams come true. Not only I weighed in at 89.4 kg and I won in my age & weight category in the Bench press event. I lifted 65 & 67.5kg. During the European Championship in Italy in September  2015 I lifted the same number with a 100kg body weight. That was the result of my determination hard work and off course support from my trainers, family & friends. I make sure to surround myself of positive loving people.

Gold medal presentationGold medal With Samantha

For the first time in 7 years I am feeling truly happy. When I look at myself in the mirror I see beauty inside out. I learn to love myself again and enjoy life. I was pretending to be happy before deep down I was in denial and was holding back a lot.

Today is a big day for me I completed my first week on the Body transformation program named Amazing 12. I can’t wait to see what my body will look like after 12 weeks. Stay tuned 🙂

Selfie-A12-week1-side3Selfie-A12-week1-front-2

 

 

 

 

 

What do men think of women into weight training?

Can  a man date a woman who is physically stronger than him?

I asked my 2 class mates about this controversial subject. They were very honest about it.

The aim is interview 8 different guys from different background and age and find out what men really think about women into weight training and are really strong physically.

 

 

 

 

the Top 3 reasons why women should do weight training

1-You Will Lose Body Fat

Studies performed by Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat.

As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories all day long. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. That can really add up. Read the rest of this entry